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Archive for the ‘Air Force’ Category

Happy 70th Birthday US Air Force!

Monday, September 18th, 2017

AFCENT Updates Dress And Appearance Instruction; Does This Signal Changes Coming Air Force-Wide?

Friday, September 1st, 2017

AFCENT has published a major update to USAFCENTI-36-2903, “Dress and Appearance of AFCENT Air Force Personnel”. AFCENT is the air arm of US central Command and if there’s a part of the USAF that is at war 24/7, this is it. With even just a casual look at this Instruction, you can see that it is completely operationally focused, with no mention of dress uniforms. While we offer a summary of changes below, the biggest change is the guidance regarding wear of MultiCam/OCP uniforms.

The following uniforms are authorized as the Uniform of the Day (UOD) for Airmen assigned throughout AFCENT: the Airman Combat Uniform (ACU – previously referred to as multi-cam or OCP), the Fire Resistant-Airman Combat Uniform (FR-ACU), the Desert Flight Duty Uniform (DFDU), or the Airman Aircrew Combat Uniform (A2CU).

This is obviously great news for Middle-East-bound Airmen, but its timing makes us wonder if this is the first of a major uniform and camouflage change for the entire Air Force.

Based on conversations during base visits by CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright, like the one to Hurlburt seen above, rumors have been flying that the Air Force will soon announce a switch from the ill-named Airman Battle Uniform, in service since 2006, to the Army Combat Uniform and its Operational Camouflage Pattern.

According to USAFCENTI-36-2903, that uniform is now referred to as the Airman Combat Unifom when worn by Air Force personnel. While AFCENT has specified a wearout date for the legacy ABU of October 2018, that is only specific guidance for Airmen deploying to the CENTCOM AOR. If the USAF does in fact adopt the ACU, the wearout date across the service will most likely be in the 2020s. Likewise, AFCENT’s requirement that Airmen deploy in OCP uniforms only in 2018, may foreshadow an Air Force-wide change beginning the same year.


U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ronnie Birge, mission crew commander assigned to the 7th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron, studies his computer monitor during a mission aboard an E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft out of Al Udeid, Air Base, Qatar, July 27, 2017. The E-8C JSTARS aircraft and crew provide essential battle management, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Bradly A. Schneider/Released)

Major Revisions to AFCENTI 36-2903:
– Expanded wear guidance of the Airman Combat Uniform (ACU), all variations, which were previously referred to as OCPs, Multicam, or Scorpion Pattern
– Clarified guidance for ACU wear of patches, badges and insignias
– Clarification on the prohibition to mix and match camouflage patterns
– Clarification of the wear of rings
– Standard Uniform Postures have been removed but may be addressed in local guidance
– Authorized AEW or AEG/CCs to dictate wear of Airman Combat Shirt (ACS) for those who work outdoors
– Authorized ball caps with ACUs
– Mandated wear of Commanders Insignia Pin

AFCENT will mandate AOR-wide wear of the ACU (non Fire Resistant version) in 2018 with further implementation timeline to follow.

I’ve been discussing the possibility of a major duty uniform change for the Air Force with fellow Veteran C Combs, and he shared his thoughts on this Instruction.

He notes that Air Force functional badges aren’t commonly available in OCP, and that such an undertaking certainly points to an Air Force-wide transition. In fact, the functional badge featured in the illustration in AFCENTI 36-2903 had to be digitally created.

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Additionally, he made mention of the return of Ball Caps which harken back to the Squadron ball caps of the 80s and 90s. Although, these certainly have a 21st century twist. Better make sure those are Berry compliant caps, AFCENT A4. That cap in the illustration looks suspiciously like it came from China.

Other Air Force personnel have noted the return of Unit insignia, a practice which went away with the adoption of the ABU. Between that and the retiring of unit ball caps there was little opportunity for personnel to show unit pride.

Airmen will also be allowed to wear earned FWSSI, or as more commonly known, combat patches on their new ACUs. Like the Army, they will also wear an American flag on the right sleeve of their uniform.

The Instruction also notes that “any ACU pattern uniform previously issued or acquired at no cost to the government should be worn by AFCENT personnel” which leaves plenty of room for unit issued uniforms by various manufacturers in MultiCam, as in the case of AFSOC and many Battlefield Airmen AFSCs. Let’s hope the AFI, when published, is as flexible.

Also, Sleeves may be cuffed up or folded under at the wrist. This is entirely too accommodating!

One issue did seem odd. While AFCENTI 36-2903 details which color thread can be used for insignia, they left out the color of thread for 1st LT, Capt, LT Col and Col, as well as the General Officer ranks. This color is probably the missing fourth color.

IMG_3772

Probably the best thing about this Instruction is that it drives the nail in the coffin of both the ABU and 8-point hat for wear by Airmen in a combat theater.

On a final note, it’s great to see that neither “blouse” nor “cover” were used in the Instruction. Thank you to the author(s).

Get your copy here.

US Air Force Adopts Magpul GEN M3 PMAG

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

According to a document entitled, “USAF Authorized Small Arms and Light Weapons (SA/LW) Accessories (as of 28 July 17)”, the US Air Force has followed USSOCOM and the Marine Corps’ lead and adopted the 30rd Magpul GEN M3 PMAG in both Black and Tan. Specifically, they are authorized for use with the M4/M4A1 Carbine, GUU-5P (sic) Carbine, and M249 Automatic Rifle (sic).

When queried about this update, Magpul issued us this statement:

“We are certainly pleased that another major service component has taken their own look at the test data and come to the same conclusion as the Marine Corps and USSOCOM. Given the body of existing data, the extensive fielding history since 2013, and the current experiences of the USMC after their adoption, we hope that Army leadership can put aside their concerns over the viability of their own magazine program and give soldiers the reliability advantage that is enjoyed by the USMC, USSOCOM, and now, the USAF, with the GEN M3 PMAG.”

According to the guidance, previously issued magazines are to be replaced by the GEN M3 PMAG through attrition. This highlighted extract contains the germane information (including NSNs). However, we offer the entire document here.

For those interested, GEN M3 PMAGs are available from www.magpul.com and authorized dealers.

Royal Air Force JTACs Integrate with US Counterparts

Monday, August 14th, 2017

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Members of England’s Royal Air Force recently spent time immersed with the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.


An A-10C Thunderbolt II conducts a show of force maneuver during training, July 26, 2017, at Grand Bay Bombing and Gunnery Range, Ga. The range features a moving target system, which is on a 1,000 foot long track that is remotely controlled by the control tower and can move back and forth to assist in training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Andrea Jenkins)

The NATO allies visiting were Joint Terminal Attack Controllers tasked with building stronger ties with the 93rd AGOW in hopes of future integration opportunities.

“All the missions overseas aren’t integrating just the U.S. Armed Forces, but also our NATO forces,” said Master Sgt. Francisco Corona, the 93rd AGOW NCO in-charge of weapons and tactics. “So all the NATO forces are trying to train with us. I’d rather integrate in (training) where we can make mistakes and learn from them instead of making mistakes in a deployed location.”

Since 2001, U.S. and foreign JTACs have been in high demand as liaisons between Army ground commanders and Air Force assets.


U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force joint terminal attack controllers communicate with 23rd Fighter Group A-10C Thunderbolt IIs during a close air support training exercise, July 26, 2017, in Lakeland, Ga. Two Royal Air Force members recently spent time with the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing to compare and contrast how each entity conducts business and to plan future coalition training events. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Daniel Snider)

“As air-to-ground experts, we advise, assist and control for the ground commander to meet his intent, whether its kinetic effects, like bombs on targets, or getting smarter at cyberspace,” said Corona.

Both groups of JTACs said they’re no stranger to operating in coalition settings while deployed.

“While I was a JTAC in Afghanistan, the vast majority of our aircraft were U.S. aircraft,” said Squadron Leader Neil Beeston, the officer commanding Air Land Integration Cell. “It was great working with the U.S. Armed Forces, especially with the A-10s; it’s a fantastic aircraft. The troops on the ground know that when you’ve got a pair of them above you, you’re in pretty safe hands.”

While the JTACs and U.S. aircraft are skilled professionals, sometimes communication barriers exists between countries. Beeston’s colleague stressed the importance of hashing out common issues.

“The whole worldwide JTAC community has the same struggles,” said Flight Sergeant Simon Ballard, the chief instructor from the ALIC. “Since we’re going to be working together, we need to practice together before we go do that in the real world.”

Not having the allied JTAC community in sync and on par with each other could potentially lead to less-than-optimal situations, which in turn risks lives.

“We don’t want to learn how to work together in a war area of operations,” said Corona. “We’re flexible though, whether it’s [English] JTACs or whatever joint force JTACs, we make things happen and we’ll make it work.”


MSgt Francisco Corona, the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing NCO in charge of weapons and tactics, communicates with a fellow Joint Terminal Attack Controller during a close air support training exercise, July 26, 2017, in Lakeland, Ga. Two Royal Air Force members recently spent time immersing with the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing to compare and contrast how each entity conducts business and plan future coalition training events. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Daniel Snider)

After the gathering, troops returned to their leadership with proposals and plans to further integrate training scenarios, whether it be academic courses or mixing into each country’s exercises to further synchronization.

“The bonus for them is they’d be integrating with different Army divisions because the 93rd AGOW is spread over at least six Army divisions,” said Corona. “They’d get that opportunity, where there’s not many divisions they work with over in [England].”

While Corona is confident in U.S. JTACs, he said it’s all about continuing to get better, to maintain leading from the front.

“We’re figuring out how we go to the next level to continue to be the best JTACs in the world,” said Corona. “We’re going forward with a proficiency mindset, of ‘how do we get better,’ because at the end of the day, the better trained individuals are going to be the winners.”

By Airman 1st Class Daniel Snider, 23rd Wing Public Affairs

USAF’s Chair, Combat

Friday, August 11th, 2017

We recently showed you the Army’s developmental Combat Chair. Turns out the Air Force had previously fielded their version of a Combat Chair back in 2011. Naturally, it included a canopy and drink holder.  They don’t call it the Chair Force for nothing.

Thanks to Mike M for the gouge.

Embedded Air Force Researchers Develop Innovative Battlefield Medical Technology

Friday, August 4th, 2017

Chief Master Sgt. Robert Bean, an Air Force pararescue jumper, demonstrates how BATDOK can be worn on the wrist, providing awareness of the health status of multiple patients. Developing BATDOK required Air Force medical researchers to embed with pararescue jumpers on live missions to ensure the tool met the rigorous standards required by combat Airmen.
FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Imagine the chaos and challenge of delivering life-saving care in a battlefield environment. That’s what faced a group of Air Force researchers as they developed a new electronic patient monitoring tool for use on the battlefield. Overcoming this challenge required an integrated development process, where the researchers left the lab, and embedded on missions with medical Airmen.

The technology they developed, the Battlefield Assisted Trauma Distributed Observation Kit, or BATDOK, is software than can run on a smartphone or other mobile devices, and draws patient information from a wide variety of commercially available, U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved sensors. It lets medics monitor multiple patients in the field, seeing vital information and managing multiple patients in a chaotic environment.

The integrated development process was critical to making BATDOK a tool that seamlessly integrates mobile capabilities for Airmen in the field, said Dr. Gregory Burnett, of the Airman Systems Directorate in the Warfighter Interface Division of the 711th Human Performance Wing. Dr. Burnett managed the development of BATDOK for the Air Force.

“BATDOK is a multi-patient, point of injury, casualty tool that assists our human operators and improves care,” said Burnett. “It can be a real-time health status monitoring for multiple patients, a documentation tool, a user-definable medical library, a portal to integrate patient data into their electronic health records, and finally it is interoperable with battlefield digital situation awareness maps, which helps identify the exact location of casualties.”

Dr. Burnett’s background is in computer engineering, with an emphasis in embedded electronics and mobile interfaces. This theoretical knowledge helped the Air Force Research Laboratory development team design the look and feel of BATDOK, but more intimate knowledge was needed for the tool to be most useful for operators in the field.

“We physically left the lab, got into the field with the operators, and observed firsthand the challenges and deficiencies they face,” said Burnett. “And when I say into the field, I mean we literally rode in the helicopters into hot landing zones, and observed medical Airmen stabilize and package up patients for transport and load them back on the helicopter.

“We see, at the point of injury, the challenges and limitations that our medical Airmen face. With those lessons learned and gaps identified through direct experience, we come back to the lab and devise innovative solutions to address the short falls we observed firsthand in the field.”

The integration didn’t stop once the BATDOK development team got back to their lab. They continued to interact with the operators from their deployment, and got their feedback throughout the process.

“From day one, every interface, every button, every menu, was user-validated by pararescue Airmen and combat rescue officers that were involved in the design, integration and testing process,” said Burnett. “Nothing is added without the explicit request and review by the operator.”

This brings first firsthand knowledge to the development process. The development team and the operators sit down and walk through the mission step-by-step. They identify areas where current technology can be improved, or where a gap exists, and then share ideas to innovate new solutions and capabilities.

This process helps the team identify requirements and avoid unforeseen downsides to new technology. Medical Airmen deploy with heavy loads, so can be cautious about adding new gear. Working so closely with the operator helps the team integrate BATDOK into the tactical ensemble.

“BATDOK was designed to not add any additional burden to battlefield Airmen’s tactical ensemble,” said Burnett. “From the beginning, we are designing to enhance capabilities, while aiding their survivability and lethality.”

“Being part of the Air Force gives us flexibility and firsthand, unfiltered access to operators and perspective on the challenges that Airmen face. This is true for both humanitarian and combat missions. Being able to observe in person is invaluable, and helps us contribute to the overall readiness mission.”

By Peter Holstein, Air Force Surgeon General Office of Public Affairs

Battlefield Airmen Incentive Pay to be Based on Skill Versus Duty

Friday, July 7th, 2017


Senior Airman Paul Cauge, a 274th Air Support Operations Squadron joint terminal attack controller, uses a laser rangefinder designator for a close air support training mission July 29, 2015, at Grayling Air Gunnery Range in Grayling, Mich., during Northern Strike 2015. The annual exercise involved hundreds of military personnel from 20 states, as well as Canada, Latvia, Poland and Australia. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Scott Thompson)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Based on new authority from the Defense Department, the Air Force announced its intent to begin a pilot program providing battlefield Airmen skill incentive pay based on qualified skills versus performed duties.

The new incentive pay, which will replace hazardous duty incentive pays, are designed to incentivize Airmen to maintain qualifications for critical and essential skills such as jump, dive and demolition. Currently, Battlefield Airmen only receive these incentives when performing their duties, and limit monthly payments when an Airman is unable to perform these skills due to medical restrictions or career broadening opportunities.

“Our nation requires that we send our Battlefield Airmen into harm’s way and calls for them to operate in some of the most dangerous places on the planet,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “Their training is extensive and grueling, and they maintain the skills that our Air Force and joint force rely on.”

“The current pay structure was causing unnecessary financial burdens for these warriors when their incentive pay would stop during temporary medical restrictions or a career broadening assignment,” he said. “We now have the authority to pay these warriors based on their qualifications, and this is the right way to take care of Airmen from whom we ask so much.”

The change removes the financial disincentive currently associated with Battlefield Airmen seeking medical care or broadening assignments as instructors or members of headquarters staff under the hazardous duty pay program, for example.

This three-year pilot program ensures the new incentive pay will be equal to existing incentive pays battlefield Airmen already receive in the following Air Force specialty codes: combat control, pararescue, tactical air control party, special operations weather, combat rescue officer, special tactics officer and air liaison officer.

Implementation of battlefield Airmen skill incentive pay is set for this fall. For more information, Airmen are encouraged to contact their local support squadron office.

The Battlefield Airmen Skill Incentive Pay pilot program will replace other pays and offer up to $615 per momth.

Air Combat Command Selects Battlefield Airmen – Digital Air Strike Suite

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Air Combat Command (ACC) recently selected Battlefield Airmen – Digital Air Strike Suite (BA-DASS) as the near term Digitally Aided Close Air Support (DACAS) software solution for Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) warfighters. Following a formal evaluation and comparison of multiple DACAS systems, ACC concluded that BA-DASS was the best fit for the TACP community. ACC stated, “This software selection is to provide immediate force multiplier capability to TACP warfighters.”


Senior Airman Nathan Dupler, 113th Air Support Operations Squadron, Terre Haute, Ind., conducts a close air support training mission with an F-16 Fighting Falcon, July 29, 2015, at Grayling Air Gunnery Range, Grayling, Mich., during Northern Strike 15. NS 15 is an annual training exercise on CGJMTC that assesses joint air-to-ground capability and involves hundreds of military personnel from 20 different states as well as Canada, Latvia, Poland and Australia. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Scott Thompson/released)

BA-DASS integrates with numerous sensors directly enhancing Battlefield Situational Awareness (SA). BA-DASS improves the performance of TACP, Joint Terminal Air Controllers (JTACs), and Guardian Angel (GA) operators during target acquisition and terminal control, Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), and personnel recovery operations. With its integrated troubleshooting and DACAS capabilities, BA-DASS reduces potential for errors, enhances the safety and security of friendly forces, increases SA, and ultimately reduces the risks of fratricide. Refer to the BADASS data sheet for a full list of system capabilities.

Download the full pdf here.