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Archive for the ‘Air Force’ Category

58th Rescue Squadron Resiliency Weekend

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a Resiliency Training offsite with the 58th Rescue Squadron, stationed at Nellis AFB, Nevada. Led by Lt Col Stephen C, the 58th is made up of Combat Rescue Officers, Pararescuemen (PJs), SERE Specialists and support personnel from 14 different careerfields.

Squadron members and their families made the short trip from Las Vegas, to nearby Saint George, Utah, to learn about how to better deal with the stresses of combat operations, and military life in general. Pioneered by USSOCOM, resiliency training is officially known as Preservation of Force and Family. More recently, Air Combat Command, as the responsible USAF command for the Guardian Angel Weapon System, instituted a similar program for their Battlefield Airmen. Last weekend’s event is a result of this initiative.

In addition to advances in nutrition and physical training, one of the goals of the program is to provide training to recognize stress and reduce the stigma of getting help for mental issues. Stress inoculation is key in training, but preparation and awareness of what one should expect, are also crucial. Those last bits were the focus of the weekend’s agenda.

As families accompanied them, the location was a perfect way for everyone to get away from Las Vegas for a few days. Saint George offers some great opportunities for outdoor recreation and bonding. The Squadron’s various elements also had ample time to accomplish mid and long-term goals, including planning on how to make them a reality.

The first day, Operational Psychologist Maj Richard S, 432nd Wing Operational Psychologist discussed adjusting to life after deployment and how to turn the switch off from operational life when you get back home. The next day, Lt Col Richard B is the lead SERE Psychologist at Fairchild. Having served in AFSOC at Cannon AFB, NM, Lt Col B concentrated on warrior mindset.

That evening, the 58th Rescue Squadron Booster Club presented a banquet for the unit and its families. While the active duty members were TDY, the families’ meals were made possible thanks to the sponsorship of Air Rescue Concepts and Soldier Systems Daily.

The next morning, Steve Tarani presented an interactive seminar for the Squadron members and their spouses. The topic was perfect for the weekend’s focus; Resiliency training, mental toughness and preparedness.

He has been teaching for over 30 years, concentrating on protection, of people, assets and facilities. These days he usually concentrates on train-the-trainer but he also offers seminars like this to improve the safety and security for high risk audiences.

Steve is a very engaging speaker. The talk was excellent and applicable, to the military participants just as much as their families. Mindset, awareness and threat mitigation were key points of his talk. Steve tied recent real world events into the training, including last week’s vehicle and knife attack in Ohio. The talk was especially important for family members, who often find themselves alone while their spouse is deployed because Steve discussed situational awareness and how to become a hard target.

After a team lunch, Maj John T gave an engaging talk about Fatigue Management and Performance. Rather than putting all of us to sleep after lunch, he offered fatigue countermeasures and the important of understanding circadian rhythms and adjunct medications. I also now understand the difference between snuggling and cuddling. Last but not least, Lt Col Stefanie S wrapped up the day with a discussion on the importance of nutrition for Special Operations Forces.

Patrick Van Horn author of ‘Left of Bang’ wrapped up the presentations on Sunday afternoon. Patrick is the author of, “Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life” and the CEO of The CP Journal, a behavioral analysis training company.  His presentation centered around Combat Profiling, which is a method of proactively identifying threats based on normal behavior and other cues from one’s surroundings.  Patrick explained how the foundation of combat profiling is that there are universal similarities in humans, despite cultural differences. The idea is to take a proactive approach to combat profiling by establishing baselines, identifying anomalies from that baseline and then acting on them.

All of the presentations were excellent and discussions with the members of the Guardian Angel community indicated they agreed.

The good news in all of this is that the military has become much better at recognizing and treating physical, emotional and mental stressors. Programs like this help to inoculate military personnel and their families toward these conditions, in order to help mitigate their effects. What is most important, is that personnel understand that these organizations continue to invest in their well being. Their units are there to help, and the stigma of seeking assistance is no longer there. The goal is to keep these warriors in the fight.

I want to thank the Airmen of the 58th Rescue Squadron for their hospitality. It was a joy to catch up with old friends, make new ones, and speak with Airmen and their families.

SSD Saturday Night At The Movies – RAF Cold War Nuclear Bomber Force

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

This documentary covers a rather interesting subject, the Royal Air Force Bomber Force which for several decades centered around the Vulcan and served as a Nuclear deterrent during the Cold War.  

Kickstarter – Last Flight Of The Vulcan

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

As a kid the RAF Vulcan was my favorite bomber. Probably because of its huge batlike structure, but also because I got to check out the cockpit on quite a few occasions because my dad’s wing would deploy to RAF Waddington regularly and they’d send a Vulcan across to our annual airshow so he knew many of their maintainers.

Fans of the Vulcan know that the type made its last flight just over a year ago with airframe XH558. Artist Nick Harrison commemorates the event with this Kickstarter campaign. It’s a great looking print.


Hurlburt Field Unveils Special Tactics Memorial

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

Last week, AFSOC added a statue of a Special Tactics Operator to the memorial park at Hurlburt Field, Florida. Considering the 24th SOW is a major portion of AFSOC’s combat power, and Special Tactics Airmen have been instrumental in the joint fight, its about time their contributions are recognized.

Special Tactics, the Air Force’s ground special operations force, has been engaged in every major conflict since 9/11, continuously deployed for more than 5,000 days to more than 73 locations. As a result of their actions in combat, the Special Tactics community has earned the highest number of valorous medals in the Air Force since the Vietnam War.

In the last 40 years, only ten Airmen have received the Air Force Cross, the service’s highest medal it can bestow for valor in combat. Eight of those recipients were Special Tactics Airmen.

Beside the statue are two plaques which include the names of those Airmen who have earned the Air Cross Cross as well as the 8 ST operators who have fallen in training and the 19 who perished in action.

In true Special Tactics fashion, the dedication ceremony ended with memorial pushups.

Photos courtesy of North American Rescue.

SureFire Scout Lights Now Authorized for USAF Use

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

We just found out from Quantico Tactical that the SureFire Scout Light is now authorized for use with USAF weapons. For years, the only authorized weapon light for rifles and carbines was the Insight M3X. These SureFire Scout Light Kits are authorized for use on ALL M4/M4A1s throughout the Air Force, not just Security Forces and are a unit purchase. I’m told told pricing is very competitive for the SureFire light and a unit can get the aluminum light and remote switch for less than the incumbent light. This is big news for Airmen, regardless of command. I know EOY is right around the corner, but this is something worth looking at. 

The most recent USAF Small Arms and Light Weapons (SA/LW) Accessories List (Dated 15 April 2016) authorizes the below two configurations of the battle-proven Surefire Scout Light for use on all M4/M4A1s throughout the entire US Air Force.

M600 KIT 01 Consists of a Surefire M600V Scout Light coupled with a DS-SR07D-IT tailcap/remote switch. This combination gives you 350 Lumens of Visible Light and 120mW of IR illumination in a 7.2 ounce rugged hardcoat anodized package. The tailcap/tapeswitch controls both your Scout Light and PEQ-15. Additional feature include momentary or constant on via the rail-grabber waterproof switch, clock on/off on the tailcap and a system disable feature. Mounts directly to a MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny Rail and uses two CR123A batteries.

M600 KIT 02 consists of a Surefire M600U coupled with a UE07 tape switch. For those whose mission requires only visible light, this combination gives you 600 lumens of visible, focused light, a 7” remote tape switch and Surefire’s rugged durability. Mounts directly to a MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny Rail and uses two CR123A batteries.

Both configurations are available on Quantico Tactical’s GSA schedule, or for those who wish to use MILSTRIP/MIPRs via Quantico’s Defense Logstics Agency TLS Contract for Special Operational Equipment.

Quantico is running an introductory special GSA price of $399.25 for KIT 01 (Visible and IR) and $250.26 for KIT 01 (Visible).

For more information, download the flyer or e-mail GovtOps@QuanticoTactical.com


When USAF Tigerstripes Were Cool

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

COL Mike Martin Assumes Command Of 24th SOW

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

I’m very pleased to share that Col Mike Martin has assumed command of the 24th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida. I had the pleasure of serving with Col Martin at the 21st STS at Pope, back when when it was still an Air Force Base, and he was a brand new Special Tactics Officer. He was a Team Leader and I was the Squadron Intel officer and we had a rather challenging commander. I think we both learned a lot working for that guy and that’s why I’m proud to say, he has always been a very smart guy and an even headed leader. There are a lot of great men in that careerfield, so I know it’s quite an honor for him to get that command. Congratulations!

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. — For the third time since its activation in 2012, the 24th Special Operations Wing welcomed a new commander during an assumption of command ceremony here July 14.

Lt. Gen. Brad Heithold, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, presided over the ceremony, where Col. Michael Martin assumed command of the sole Special Tactics wing in the Air Force.

Heithold challenged Martin to lead the Airmen in his command toward continued success.

“Continue to focus on providing combat-ready forces…we win, we don’t settle for second place in anything we do,” said Lt. Gen. Brad Heithold. “You provide the kind of forces that scare our enemy…there’s a dose of deterrent factor in your Airmen. Knowing you exist, scares them. Provide an environment for your Airmen to thrive… don’t accept any form of toxicity in your formation. Continue to modernize and sustain the force…these are my challenges to you, and I know you’re up for it.”

The 24th SOW, previously commanded by Col. Matthew “Wolfe” Davidson, boasts a unique ground operations mission set and approximately 1,500 of the 2,500 Special Tactics members in the Air Force.

The primary mission of the 24th SOW is providing Special Tactics forces for rapid global employment to enable airpower success. It is U.S. Special Operation Command’s tactical air and ground integration force, and the Air Force’s special operations ground force to enable global access, precision strike, and personnel recovery operations.

Since 9/11, Air Force Special Tactics has been involved in almost every major operation and has seen a significant amount of combat. Under Davidson’s command, the 24th SOW performed 3,076 combat missions, controlled 6,000 aircraft, conducted 209 airfield surveys and eliminated countless enemies from the battlefield, according to Heithold.

“You guys are crushing it on the battlefield,” said Heithold. “There’s nobody out there like you having the impact you have … and our teammates recognize that.”

The Airmen of the 24th SOW have been the most highly decorated since the Vietnam War. Since 9/11, Special Tactics Airmen have earned seven Air Force Crosses, 35 Silver Stars, more than 100 Purple Hearts, nearly a thousand Bronze Stars and hundreds of Bronze Stars with valor.

“Somebody told me the other day that we have ordinary citizens that are doing extraordinary things and I’m not sure about that,” said Heithold. “In this community of Airmen I don’t see an ordinary thing about any of you, I think you’re extraordinary citizens doing extraordinary things … you’re extraordinary to begin with.”

Before his arrival here, Martin served as the deputy commander for Special Operations Command-Africa in Stuttgart, Germany.

No stranger to Special Tactics, Martin served as the commander of the 21st Special Tactics Squadron and 724th Special Tactics Group and led Special Tactics and joint forces through eight deployments in Operations SOUTHERN WATCH, ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM/NEW DAWN.

“Wolfe and Vannessa [Davidson’s wife] paved the way for our future success,” said Martin. “I am honored to take command of such a tremendous group of Air Commandos. Special Tactics permits the ground special operations component to enable precise and lethal airpower effects and we intend to provide the best to the combatant commanders.”

‘Legendary Action’ by Gene Adcock

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

I’ve known Gene Adcock for many years. He’s a retired Combat Controller CMSgt from the Air Force and has been working tirelessly on improving the Combat Control School’s Heritage Museum at Pope Field in North Carolina. In that capacity, he’s also served as a historian for the careerfield and put together the book ‘Legendary Action’ which chronicles many of their exploits over the past two decades.

If you have an interest in military history, or are just curious about CCT, this hardcover book is a steal, and Gene uses the proceeds to improve the museum. Get yours at www.amazon.com/Legendary-Action-Gene-Adcock.