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Archive for the ‘Battlefield Airman’ Category

So Long Special Operations Weather, Hello Special Reconnaissance

Saturday, May 18th, 2019

AIR FORCE TRANSITIONS ENLISTED SPECIALTY, GROWS SPECIAL TACTICS CAPABILITIES

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. – Enlisted Airmen have been analyzing weather since the very beginning of American military flight in 1917. Decades of hard-earned experience led to Special Operations Weather Team Airmen being designated with their own Air Force Specialty Code in 2008.

By combining the core skills of Special Operation Forces with their meteorology skills, SOWTs have been a critical asset to the War on Terror. Alongside Special Tactics teammates from forward deployed locations, SOWTs would gather, assess, and interpret environmental data in order to forecast weather impacts to operations. In a location like Afghanistan, this was vital to successful air-ground operations.

However, in an era of great power competition, the need to look critically at the entire U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command formation drove Headquarters Air Force and AFSOC to broaden the skillset of Special Tactics teams. On April 30, 2019, SOWT became Special Reconnaissance expanding the capacity and lethality of Air Force Special Tactics.

“Air Commandos need to operate effectively across the spectrum of conflict, from the low-end to the high-end and everywhere in between,” said Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, AFSOC commander.  “It’s what the nation expects from us and this transition demonstrates our commitment to the National Defense Strategy.”

SOWT Airmen have been an integral piece of Special Tactics with unique training to conduct multi-domain reconnaissance and surveillance across the spectrum of conflict and crisis. As Special Reconnaissance, or SR, they will continue to maintain their application of lethal and non-lethal air-to-ground integration of airpower.

“The evolution of Air Force Special Tactics on today’s battlefield has called for SOWT to transition their singular focus to a more holistic approach– the highly demanded special reconnaissance,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Guilmain, the command chief of the 24th Special Operations Wing.

Special Reconnaissance, or SR, Airmen add a new capability to Special Tactics teams to prepare the environment and aid in air, space, cyberspace, and information superiority for the successful execution of Joint Force objectives.

“[Special Reconnaissance] will truncate [special operations] weather training with a shift in focus from long-term regional forecasting to short-term, small-scale, team-specific environmental reconnaissance with an emphasis on special recon as a whole.” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Thomas Howser, a career assistant functional manager for Special Reconnaissance.

The training pipeline for SR won’t be much different from that of SOWT’s.

Trainees will still undergo:

·         Selection Course

·         Initial Skills Course

·         U.S. Army Airborne School

·         U.S. Air Force Basic Survival School

·         U.S. Air Force Water Survival School

·         U.S. Air Force Underwater Egress Training

·         Special Operations Weather Course

·         Advanced Skills Training

·         Special Tactics Training

Combat dive and military free-fall qualifications, as well as recon-specific training, are being added to the pipeline.

Existing SOWTs will attend a Special Reconnaissance transition course that will sign off SR-specific training.

“This move will modernize the force and bridge a gap across all domains,” Howser said. “It will allow joint-interoperability across all the services with regards to Special Reconnaissance.”

The Special Reconnaissance designation is not only creating Air Force history, but honoring a giant in special operations weather history.

“SR” is the operator-initials of U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. William “Bill” Schroeder, a career special operations weather officer and former commander of the 342nd Training Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

Schroeder was fatally wounded during a struggle with a gunman after he instinctively placed himself between the armed individual and the squadron’s first sergeant, saving the lives of many, on April 8, 2016.

The new designation is just one way future Special Reconnaissance Airmen will remember their roots and the true meaning of service before self.

Story by Senior Airman Rachel Yates, 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Photo by Staff Sergeant Sandra Welch

Special Warfare TISC Opens Doors to Solve Tomorrow’s Problems, Dedicated to ST Founder

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (AFNS) — The Special Warfare Technical Integration Support Center opened its doors during a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Jan. 11, as the newly named Col. John T. Carney Center of Excellence.

With the name of “Coach,” Carney embodied within the 25,000-square-foot facility, the roots of special tactics aim to inspire employees of the SW-TISC every day.

“Every special tactics leader strives to give their men the best equipment and training to fight our enemies,” said Col. Spencer Cocanour, 24th Special Operations Wing vice wing commander. “Coach Carney pushed the envelope to get the very best for his people. He fought the bureaucracy with the same ferocity he fought the enemy.”

The wearable communication equipment that special tactics operators carry in the field needs to be the best that the Department of Defense can offer to fight tonight and tomorrow’s battles and this starts with the work of the men and women within the SW-TISC.

“This building is unique It will bring together a diverse group of professionals with different backgrounds to collaborate, develop, test, field and operationalize concepts to maintain our competitive edge,” said Brig. Gen. William Holt, the Air Force Special Operations Command special assistant to the commander. “This rapid response integration will create a tangible repeatable innovation rhythm to reduce the timeline from innovative concept to operational implementation.”

With the National Defense Strategy of 2018 outlining the Department of Defense objectives to include delivering performance with affordability and speed, the SW-TISC will aid AFSOC by streamlining development to fielding.

“The TISC will push the envelope on fielding technology,” Cocanour said. “That means placing cutting edge technology into the hands of the most lethal special operators this nation has ever produced.”

By integrating technologies, ensuring interoperability and providing appropriate updates and training on the equipment used in the 24 SOW, special tactics operators are able to answer U.S. Special Operations Command’s call to deliver tactical air-to-ground integration and conduct global access, precision strike, personnel recovery, and battlefield surgery operations.

“There’s a SOF principle of the hyper enabled operator that is a highly trained individual with elite skills, but they also have a network of systems on them that they wear and that they interact with,” said Todd Weiser, the chief technology officer and director of innovations with AFSOC. “The future is that operator is going to have the ability with their kit to inter-operate with an F-35 [Lightning II], with an F-22 [Raptor], with an Army vehicle. That network, the sharing of information and internet of things, micro sensors, micro small unmanned aircraft system; all of that stuff is coming together.”

As a special tactics officer with years of experience in the field and operations, Lt. Col. Eli Mitchell, the branch chief of special tactics requirements with AFSOC, sees tomorrow’s battle requiring a more accurate and efficient way of delivering capabilities.

“(The SW-TISC) is a game changer — really what it does is speeds up bombs on targets and increases situational awareness on the battlefield,” Mitchell said. “You’re talking about reducing the potential for fratricide, increasing target engagement timelines and also increasing your munitions effectiveness by more precisely striking the appropriate target.”

By evolving for tomorrow’s fight, the special tactics enterprise is leading from the front with technology and equipment used on the battlefield on a global scale within the Air Force, SOCOM, and the DOD.

“The world’s more complex than it ever has been and it’s continuously getting more complex and we need to get ahead of it in a timely manner,” Wieser said. “That’s what this facility will help us do, get ahead of it so that we can compete with our near peers as well as other adversaries.”

Holt left the most recent addition to the AFSOC team with some motivations to do exactly what Air Commandos are known for; thinking outside the box.

“You are in the business of making the impossible, possible. Your mission is to get out of the box,” Holt said. “When someone tells you it’s impossible, double down to prove them wrong. Never forget there is always a way.”

By Senior Airman Joseph Pick, 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Space Operators Provide TACPs Tactical Space Training

Sunday, February 10th, 2019

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. —

Deployed Tactical Air Control Party Airmen expect space effects to work; otherwise pilots get shot down, bombs miss targets, and soldiers die. TACPs may not know how space works, but if it doesn’t work well for America and its allies then its results devastating.

U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party Airmen with the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 227th Air Support Operations Squadron coordinate close air support with U.S. Marine Corps aircraft during joint training on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Dec. 6, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

Space operators from the 16th and 4th Space Control Squadrons at Peterson Air Force Base are working to change the TACP community’s knowledge of space by developing the first Space Operations Course, Jan. 7-11. The course was an Airman initiative designed to give the TACPs a working knowledge of what space effects from three Air Force Space Command wings do to specifically impact their ground operations.   

The week-long course, organized by Airmen of the 21st Space Wing and the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron, allowed TACP Airmen a look into tactical-level space operations with regard to mission planning.

“There are two big reasons why we came together to create this course,” said Capt. Ray Reeves, 13th ASOS flight commander and course planner. “The first reason is that the TACP community is focusing on integrating operations across multiple domains at the tactical level, based on the Air Force Chief of Staff’s priorities. The second was based off experiences from my last deployment. On the way out of theater I went by the Combined Air and Space Operations Center and received a brief from the space team in theater. I was surprised to learn there were a lot of capabilities and information that their assets were providing and major effects they could have on the battlefield. At the tactical level within my area of operations, neither myself nor the ground team I was with know those capabilities existed, which could have impacted our operations on the ground in a positive manner.”

Tactical air control Airmen assigned to the 19th Air Support Operations Squadron, Fort Campbell, Kentucky and the 818 Operational Support Squadron, Pope Field, North Carolina perform exercise Talon Fury Dec. 12, 2019 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. During the exercise TACP Airmen’s job were in charge of calling in the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber to help provide air support to those who are on the ground. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Barley)

Upon return from that deployment, Reeves began working with the 21st SW to determine what space brings to the fight and how they can work together to improve battlefield operations.

TACP Space Integration Course 19-01 provided 18 Airmen from 11 units operational knowledge of the 21st SW, 50th SW, 460th SW and the National Reconnaissance Office.

“Space is really at the forefront of deployed operations,” said Capt. Chelsea Moss, 16th SPCS weapons and tactics flight commander and course planner. “TACPs are the subject matter experts for air power for the Army. There wasn’t any formal instruction on space, so we wanted to be able to provide this course to show the importance of space in mission planning and support.”

Topics covered during the course included GPS, communicating in jammed environments, space support in monitoring Remotely Piloted Aircraft, space threats, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance threats, and battlespace situational awareness.

“Particularly from the perspective of the 21st SW, we wanted to show how we monitor RPA links and how we can provide support,” said Moss. “We wanted to show what we do on a basic level and how TACPs can request space support from the Air Operations Center.”

“Working with our Airmen on the ground and showing them how space capabilities can improve their operations is crucial to maintaining our warfighting superiority,” said Col. Devin Pepper, 21st Operations Group commander. “The creation of this course is such an important step for both Air Force Space Command and Air Combat Command.”

Equipped with a better understanding of the symbiotic relationship between space and ground operations, TACPs can better integrate space into their training and operations.  

“I can’t put into words how important this is to the TACP community,” said Reeves. “When we start talking about the future fights and what we’re training toward – and we’re talking about major contested operations with a peer enemy – the ability to operate from multiple domains is going to be key to any success on the ground. By us learning what space can provide and being able to integrate it at the ground level, we are going to impact far more than just the TACP community. TACPs are aligned from the lowest tactical echelon in the Army to three-star headquarters, so if we can help integrate space across those echelons I believe we can have a Department of Defense wide impact.”

TACPs are embedded with Army units and are responsible for planning, integrating and executing Air Force operations worldwide. When properly trained and positioned they ensure the space-based effects are used and integrated to support ground maneuvers.

By Staff Sgt. Emily Kenney, 21st Space Wing Public Affairs

Commander of Special Tactics Enterprise Promoted to Brigadier General

Saturday, February 9th, 2019

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. —

Hundreds of family, friends and teammates gathered as U.S. Air Force Col. Claude K. Tudor, Jr., commander of the 24th Special Operations Wing, was promoted to the rank of brigadier general during a ceremony Feb. 8, here.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, was the presiding official during the ceremony.

“There’s a few things we want in a general officer,” Webb said. “We want officers of character; those that are competent; those that are professional; those that have integrity; that are team players; that have compassion for their troops, our charges after all; those that are intellectually curious; those that have strategic vision…tying complex ideas to the other; being prudently audacious, never quitting; and of course, wrapped up in our motto, understanding there is a way and we will find it.”

Webb concluded with stating Tudor is all of this and more.

Tudor earned an Air Force commission through the Troy State University Reserve Officer Training Corps program in 1992 and immediately entered the pipeline to become a Special Tactics officer.  

As a Special Tactics Officer, Tudor is specially trained in the planning and employment of Special Tactics Teams at all levels of command to provide: global access for force projection; precision strike, i.e. close air support, combined arms, and strategic attack; personnel recovery/combat search and rescue, and battlefield trauma surgery.

Tudor has spent the preponderance of his career in special operations ground combat assignments and deployed extensively in support of joint and coalition special operations leading combat, humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping operations globally.

Tudor took command of Air Force Special Operations Command’s 24th SOW Mar. 8, 2018, and is responsible for preparing Air Force Special Tactics Teams to conduct global air, space, and cyber-enabled special operations across the spectrum of conflict to prepare for, fight, and win our nation’s wars. These Airmen are disciplined and hand-selected Airmen to lead joint operations and deliver solutions to the nation’s most complex military challenges. The 24th SOW is the only wing in the Air Force dedicated to training, equipping and providing Special Tactics Airmen for immediate deployment into combat operations.

Tudor gave remarks during the ceremony, driving home his motivation to continue serving Airmen, his passion, and he attributed his success to many in the audience.

“It’s not just about the individual DNA, but also the family, the neighbors, school teachers, and friends who are like family and forged me to who I am today; so thank you for coming and sharing in this event with us,” Tudor said.

Tudor is a qualified military free fall jumper, a static line jumpmaster with more than 400 jumps, combat diver, Federal Aviation Administration certified Air Traffic Controller, and Joint Terminal Attack Controller.

His awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, Defense Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Gallant Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor and eight devices and Air Force Recognition Ribbon.

By Senior Airman Joseph Pick, 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

SHOT Show 19 – Quantico Tactical Exhibits Laser Early Warning Detection System

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

The Laser Early Warning Detection System is one of those technologies that is going to save lives. In fact, it was developed by Attollo Engineering from their OMNir technology at the direction of Air Force Research Labs because of a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan where a US aircraft mistakenly bombed US troops.

LEWDS is lightweight and mounts to the top of the helmet or other equipment. It uses a common CR123A battery.

It offers a haptic alert (user programmable) if it is lased with 1064 & 1550nm energy which is generated by:

– Low Eye-safe military laser rangefinders (LRFs) used for precision target locating

– Low frequency gimbal-mounted LRFs

– High frequency handheld LRFs

– PRF-coded Laser Target Markers (LTMs) used for handoff to laser designator systems

– PRF-coded Laser Target Designators
(LTDs) used for guiding laser guided bombs

In addition to direct targeting LEWDS also detects “Danger Close” illumination and is designed to reject false alarms.

LEWDS does not need to be fielded to all. Because it detects Laser energy generated from above, Terminal Attack Controllers and small unit leaders are the best use of the device as they are most likely to have contact with Close Air Support aircraft to alert them they are placing friendly troops in danger.

LEWDS is available from www.quanticotactical.com.

US & Polish Combat Controllers Conduct Combined Training

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

Combat Controllers from the U.S. and Polish forces conduct a military free fall during a culmination exercise near Krakow on Dec. 5, 2018. The exercise follows a two-month training in which the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command’s 321st Special Tactics Squadron assigned to the 352nd Special Operations Wing in England, and the Polish Special Operations Combat Control Team, share their best practices in order to build upon the Polish Special Operations Command’s ability to conduct special operations air land integration.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Pena, USASOC PAO)

Early 90s CCT

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

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

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