Tactical Tailor

Archive for the ‘Air Force’ Category

Early 90s CCT

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

Photo taken at the Climbing/Rappelling/Fast Ripe Tower at the old Combat Control School.

Quiet Professionals

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

DUKE FIELD, Fla. — From an airfield that once served as the training grounds for the famed Doolittle Raiders, Citizen Air Commandos from the 919th Special Operations Wing, Duke Field, Florida, are working daily to deliver superior airpower around the world.

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Master Sgt. Joseph Kimbrell (left) prepares his equipment for a future C-145A training mission while Master Sgt. Brian Schultz assists Tech. Sgt. Matthew Massey with adjustments to his pro gear. All are special mission aviators assigned to the 919th SOW.

The “Quiet Professionals” of the 919th SOW offer specialized skills to Air Force Special Operations Command made even more distinct by the fact that this “part time” unit is providing a full-time capability for a mission that never stops.

“At any minute on any day, members of the 919th are likely helping to get equipment and special operations forces where the warfighter needs them most,” said Col. Frank L. Bradfield, 919th SOW commander. “While they’re doing that, others are providing surveillance of the battlespace ready to deliver precision strike capabilities to those who wish to do America harm. It’s a no-fail mission and one we’re proud to support.”

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Maj. Kevin Riegner, 5th Special Operations Squadron pilot, takes a few minutes for a photo prior to a recent U-28 training mission at Hurlburt Field, Florida. The 5th SOS is one of 13 squadrons assigned to the 919th Special Operations Wing at nearby Duke Field. The wing’s diverse mission and ability to fulfill a wide range of requirements for Air Force Special Operations Command places its members in high demand for critical operations at home and at distant points around the globe. (Master Sgt. Jasmin Taylor)

These 1,500 Reservists are part of the Air Force Reserve’s only special operations wing. They are fully integrated with their active duty counterparts in the 492nd SOW operating from a small base in a densely wooded area in the Florida panhandle.

The 919th’s members are focused with laser-like intensity on employing innovative practices and standards to support four distinct mission sets—enhancing partner nation capacity, training future AFSOC aviators, conducting Remotely Piloted Aircraft operations and performing specialized mobility—all geared toward increasing AFSOC’s efficiency and lethality.

COMBAT AVIATION ADVISORS

In a desolate and austere airfield thousands of miles from U.S. soil, a small team of Citizen Air Commandos is having a global impact by enhancing partner nation aviation capabilities, yet most Americans don’t even know they exist.

These combat aviation advisors, or brown berets, are highly trained in specialized skills needed for hands-on, adaptive, advisory missions with foreign military partners. Their goal: to conduct special operations activities by, with and through foreign aviation forces.

As one such team of CAAs prepared to land the last training sortie of a recent two-month mission in North Africa, many took a moment to reflect on the experience.

The mission involved 60 days of intense training and constant coordination with seven separate combat units. An unimaginable amount of collaboration and teamwork contributed to the success of this final sortie. Shoulder-to-shoulder with their foreign colleagues, the CAAs prepared their partner nation for their first simulated joint event between its air and ground forces.

CAAs are an elite group of carefully selected, well-experienced Airmen with diverse backgrounds.

They deploy in 16-member Operational Aviation Detachments which are comprised of 12 different Air Force Specialty Codes, specifically trained to assist the partner nation force with joint operations.

“The OAD composition allows the CAA team to be self-reliant and contains the diversity of skills required to problem-solve and be adaptive,” said Lt. Col. Benjamin Griffith, commander of the 711th Special Operations Squadron.

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TSgt Brandon Bass, an aircrew flight equipment specialist CAA with the 711th Special Operations Squadron, practices individual tactics during a training exercise. (TSgt Jodi Ames)

From security forces and communications, to maintenance and sensor operators, the types of career fields represented by the CAA community are quite diverse.

“The impact of a small OAD on the security and stability of a nation should not be underestimated,” said Lt. Col. Warren Halle, 711th SOS assistant director of operations.

“Any type of operation lives or dies, sustains or fades by an integrated team effort,” said Halle. “Special operations forces Airmen have been well-educated that ‘joint’ is not just a buzz word. Joint operations lead to the gold standard of integration effectiveness.”

By design, the 919th’s CAAs are supported by an entire wing that lives and breathes that standard of integration.

ONE-OF-A-KIND FORMAL TRAINING UNIT

As a Reserve unit, the 919th SOW blends with its active-duty partners not only to accomplish the mission but also to support the training of future air commandos.

The 5th SOS is home to the formal training unit for all Air Force special operations platform education, where they provided instruction on eight different platforms and conducted 6,800 student events in fiscal 2018 alone.

“This schoolhouse mission is a lot more diverse than any other FTU,” said Master Sgt. Joseph Kimbrell, CAA instructor and evaluator for the 5th SOS. “We are teaching the entire CAA aspect of the mission which considers the OAD team to be the weapon system.”

The training conducted by members of the 5th SOS is critical to the accomplishment of the AFSOC mission.

“We are the only FTU in the only special operations wing in the Reserve and we provide the preponderance of AFSOC with its aviators,” said Kimbrell. “We are the tool that sharpens the tip of the spear.”

THE SUN NEVER SETS ON THE 919TH

Not only does the 919th sharpen the spear, wing members also launch it. The 2nd SOS offers round-the-clock support to the warfighter through remotely piloted aircraft missions, taking the fight directly to the enemy.

“RPA missions continue to be the number one most requested capability of combatant commanders around the world,” said Col. Roland Armour, 919th SOG commander. “RPAs are in high demand and ours operate on a 24/7 basis.”

Another 919th unit, the 859th SOS, similarly runs a global mission that never rests. The 859th flies an aircraft not found anywhere else in the Air Force inventory, the C-146A Wolfhound.

Offering light and medium airlift capabilities, the Wolfhound allows the 919th to reach forward deployed special operations forces in locations large aircraft simply cannot.

“Within the past 12 months, the 859th SOS has provided crucial airlift for the AFSOC mission in more than 40 countries and four combatant commands contributing vital airlift for nation building and stabilization across the globe,” said Armour.

Meeting the unique demands and needs of special operations airlift missions requires constant innovation and problem-solving. More often than not, the 919th’s aerial delivery specialists must figure out how to conform a load to meet the requirements of the air commandos down range.

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TSgt Bradley Moore, 919th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron, returns from loading Army airborne soldiers into a C-17 Globemaster III at Duke Field, Florida, in preparation for their qualification jump. The 919th SOLRS provides integrated logistical support to the 919th Special Operations Wing, 7th Special Forces Group and Air Force Special Operations Command. (MSgt Jasmin Taylor)

“We are capable of dropping anything, anytime,” said Senior Master Sgt. Clarence Greene, 919th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron. “Most aerial delivery shops drop standard loads, such as water and basic supplies, but with us it could be anything from a radio to a motorcycle…anything to support the air commandos on the ground.”

SPECIAL SUPPORT FOR SPECIAL OPS

The unique platforms and missions at the 919th SOW have required the unit to adapt a culture of “outside the box” thinking reflected in every facet of its operations.

Even functions as “basic” as aircraft maintenance have had to be tailored to the Duke Field mission. The aircraft flown and maintained at the 919th SOW are commercial aircraft requiring specialized training not offered through traditional pipelines.

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TSgt Michael Resseguie, 919th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, manufactures washers for the C-146A Wolfhound on the OMAX Jetmachining Center at Duke Field, Florida. The 919th SOMXS provides round-the-clock maintenance support for the 919th SOW’s global mission. (Capt Monique Roux)

“One of the unique ways our unit ensures we are providing the most relevant training for our Airmen is through our in-house training program,” said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Tomi, 919th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “We sent a cadre of maintenance personnel to receive training from the [aircraft’s] commercial manufacturer and that cadre came back and developed a school house specific to our mission.”

The 919th’s security forces and communications Citizen Airmen have also had to adapt to the unique needs of special operations forces.

“Our agile combat support demonstrates the expeditionary nature of the 919th SOW,” said Lt. Col. Kelly Gwin, deputy commander of the 919th Special Operations Mission Support Group.

One critical component of that agile combat support is the Deployed Aircraft Ground Response Element, a mission managed by the 919th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron. DAGRE members are specially trained to meet the unique security and force protection demands of special operations forces, supporting AFSOC’s global mission.

Its global mission also requires constant and reliable communication, often in unfamiliar and rapidly changing environments while air commandos are engaging the enemy. To tackle that challenge, the 919th Special Operations Communications Squadron consistently pushes the barriers of communications technology.

“They train, maintain and deploy some of the most technologically advanced cyber systems in the Air Force,” said Gwin.

SPIRIT OF COOPERATION

Support for special operations forces is the backbone of the 919th SOW mission of providing America’s citizen air commandos…anytime…anyplace.

Another OAD is just weeks away from commencing its next mission. RPAs are flying in undisclosed areas, providing valuable protection for joint coalition partners who are constantly under attack. New pilots are getting ready to join the AFSOC team. And somewhere in a remote and austere location, Airmen are receiving much-needed relief and supplies.

The Doolittle Raiders would be proud.

By Capt Monique Roux, 919th SOW public affairs office. Published in Citizen Airman magazine.

Grit and Determination: AFSOC Airmen Slide with Team USA Bobsled

Monday, December 10th, 2018

Hours, days, weeks, months and even years of training have prepared two Airmen for one moment – four explosive seconds at the top of a winding icy track in a city that once hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.

(From left) Capt. Chris Walsh, a Special Tactics officer with the 24th Special Operations Wing, and Capt. Dakota Lynch, a U-28A pilot with the 34th Special Operations Squadron, are push athletes who are competing for a spot on the U.S. Olympic bobsled team in 2022. As push athletes, both Airmen train vigorously on sprinting and strength to accelerate a bobsled up to 24 miles per hour in close to four seconds while the pilot focuses on navigating hairpin turns in a choreographed chaos down the ice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Conroy)

Early days of sprinting, heavy lifting, box jumps and squats have faded into late nights of sanding runners, making countless adjustments and pushing through frustrations to shave off hundredths of a second pushing a 500-pound sled 60 meters.

The goal? A chance to make a team in four years. A chance for a medal. A chance to represent their nation and the Air Force. A chance.

Two Airmen within Air Force Special Operations Command were selected to compete with the USA Bobsled team this year. Capt. Dakota Lynch, a U-28A pilot with the 34th Special Operations Squadron, and Capt. Chris Walsh, a Special Tactics officer with the 24th Special Operations Wing, are push athletes who are ultimately competing for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in 2022.

“If you want it bad enough, you’re going to do whatever it takes to be successful … that’s the grit of this sport,” said Walsh. “It takes four years of commitment to make yourself better with every opportunity and even then you’re never really quite there … you have to keep grinding.”

As push athletes, both Airmen train vigorously on sprinting and strength to accelerate a bobsled up to 24 miles per hour in close to four seconds while the pilot focuses on navigating hairpin turns in a choreographed chaos down the ice.

“It’s a metal and carbon fiber bullet rifling down an ice track at speeds of 85-95 miles per hour,” said Lynch on the experience. “It’s like a fast-moving jet with a monkey at the controls while getting in a fight with Mike Tyson … it can be incredibly violent.”

Preceding the countless hours in the gym and on the track, the ride begins with a dream to succeed at the highest athletic level. For Walsh, it was an article in a magazine and for Lynch, it was a challenge from friends while deployed to Africa. For both, it would begin a journey of bruises, scrapes and exasperation that would lead them to Park City, Utah, for the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation North American Cup.

The first steps of their journey was a gauntlet of tryouts and selection beginning with an open combine. From there, standout athletes were invited to rookie camp and then push championships in Lake Placid, New York. Both Lynch and Walsh excelled once again and were invited to national team trials to continue to the next phase — competition.

“It relates pretty closely to the job because there’s days where you know it’s going to be tough,” said Walsh. “Every workout, every time I’m in the garage with the team, every step I take is either taking me closer or further away from my goal. If I’m lazy and I decide to slack one day … that workout may mean the difference between me making the Olympic team or not.”

Both Airmen attribute their time in AFSOC to their success on their bobsled journey. Walsh is a member of Air Force Special Tactics, which is a special operations ground force comprised of highly trained Airmen who solve air to ground problems across the spectrum of conflict and crisis.

“The qualities that Special Tactics fosters in individuals translates very well to bobsledding,” said Walsh. “ST operators are mature, responsible and disciplined and need to be squared away as an individual. If they’re not, the team as a whole is weak … so having that grit and determination to see the mission through is a big piece of what makes me successful here.”

For Lynch, the team mentality of a four-man bobsled loosely correlates to responsibilities of piloting an aircraft. The U-28A aircraft Lynch flies provides an on-call capability for improved tactical airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of special operations forces.

“In AFSOC I am responsible for the aircraft, the men and the women on that aircraft and ensuring the mission is executed properly, safely and precisely,” said Lynch. “Things aren’t going to get handed to you – conditions are going to suck, you’re going to get your crap punched in, but you’re going to have to have the strength and resiliency to drive through it and press forward.”

As active-duty Airmen, both Lynch and Walsh have had to negotiate service commitments with leadership support. Both have been granted permissive temporary duty by their respective commanders to vie for a chance at being accepted into the Air Force World Class Athlete Program.

WCAP provides active duty, National Guard and reserve service members the opportunity to train and compete at national and international sports competitions with the ultimate goal of selection to the U.S. Olympic team while maintaining a professional military career.

“I wouldn’t be here without my squadron and group commanders taking a chance on me and giving me a shot,” said Walsh. “It makes me want to do really well to represent my country, the Air Force and AFSOC in a good light.”

Story by SSgt Ryan Conroy, 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

A New PT Uniform For The US Air Force?

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Facebook group Air Force AMN/NCO/SNCO posted a couple of slides of proposed Physical Training Uniform Designs.

What do you think?

SERE Combatives Enhancing Self-Defense

Sunday, November 18th, 2018

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. — The Air Force recently implemented an advanced Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Combatives Program to enhance SERE specialists’ capability to instruct self-defense techniques to aircrews, thereby increasing survival chances in an unfriendly environment.

U.S Air Force Senior Airman Skyler Pendleton, 22nd Training Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialist and SERE Combatives Program instructor, blocks punches from Airman 1st Class Justin Croteau, 22nd TRS SERE specialist, during a four-hour block of combative training at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Nov. 7, 2018. The 80-hour program trains on projectile, striking, clenching and grappling self-defense techniques. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st class Jesenia Landaverde)

The combatives class trains in advanced projectile, striking, clenching and grappling self-defense techniques for SERE specialist Airmen.

“The program is not about learning how to fight,” said Senior Airman Skyler Pendleton, 22nd Training Squadron SERE specialist and SERE Combatives Program instructor. “It’s about learning how to defend yourself whether it is downtown, in a deployed location or in a worse environment where you may need to evade or escape.”

U.S Air Force Senior Airman Skyler Pendleton, 22nd Training Squadron Survival Evasion Resistance Escape specialist and SERE Combatives Program instructor, demonstrates self-defense moves to other SERE specialists during a combatives class at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Nov. 7, 2018. The Air Force recently implemented an advanced SERE Combatives Program to enhance SERE specialists’ capability to provide self-defense techniques and increase survivability in an unfriendly environment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st class Jesenia Landaverde)

The 80-hour program is an advancement of the 40-hour course SERE specialists take in technical training.

“Some of the techniques are more complex than we’re used to,” said Staff Sgt. Erik Wieland, 306th Rescue Squadron SERE specialist reservist from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. “It’s challenging to take every step and perform it perfectly- not only to complete the course, but to go back to your unit and teach it to your customers correctly, so they are prepared in the field.”

Instructors evaluate specialists on various moves from across the entire spectrum of combatives through hands-on demonstrations and through a question-and-answer portion. Specialists must explain the importance of combatives moves and tell instructors why certain moves may be more efficient than others in combat scenarios.

“This training is different than MMA, boxing, wrestling, etc.,” Pendleton said. “One must realize this is the game of life, there are no rules and anything is fair play. You might have to knee someone in the face or do whatever it takes to get out of a situation and survive. We keep the training controlled but try not to get stuck in a rule-based system of fighting where you can’t do certain moves because it is considered dangerous.”

SERE specialists prepare isolated personnel for any emergency event or captivity situation. This advanced program will increase mission readiness for aircrew by creating a heightened level of assurance in their ability to prevent or escape precarious situations and return home with honor.

By Airman 1st Class Jesenia Landaverde, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Sorry Air Force, This Isn’t A Boot

Saturday, November 17th, 2018

I know some of you Airmen are trying to game the system, but despite being referred to as a “boot” by several of the companies which sell it, the Altama Maritime Assault – Low is not a boot. It’s a shoe.

The problem is that the latest changes to AFI 36-2903 (Air Force Guidance Memorandum, AFGM2018-03 to AFI 36-2903, Dress & Appearance), intended to guide wear of the Operational Camouflaged Patterned Uniform and accouterments, no longer stipulates a boot height. However, AFI 36-2903 does say that “Dress and personal appearance standards that are not listed as authorized in the publication are unauthorized.”

So give it a rest and get a pair of boots. You’ll just look like hipster in these with your pants hem rolled up.

What a Long Way They’ve Come

Sunday, October 28th, 2018

An Air Force Combat Controller circa 1991.

Winkler Knives – AF Survival Knife

Friday, October 26th, 2018

New to Winkler Knives, the AF Survival Knife was designed for the United States Air Force. Unique features include an insulated handle, line cutter opening in sheath, pry tip and a hammer pommel.

Winkler uses 80CrV2 steel and micarta.

To order, email info@winklerknives.com.