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Archive for the ‘Forces Focus’ Category

820th Base Defense Group

Sunday, January 12th, 2020

Main videographer, stylized motion graphics, and editing by Tech. Sgt. Jacqueline Marshall.

Second videographer Staff Sgt. Jon Alderman.

Airborne b-roll courtesy of Senior Airman Kyle Saunders via DVIDS.

Security Forces Squadron of the Future: Creating More Effective Defenders

Friday, December 20th, 2019

RAF CROUGHTON, United Kingdom (AFNS) —

RAF Croughton is at the forefront of innovation, helping create the most effective defenders in the Air Force.

The 422nd Security Forces Squadron has been selected to undergo a six-month trial in a complete revitalization of the squadron.

“Security forces senior leaders recognized the need to overhaul security forces squadrons,” said Senior Master Sgt. Nicholas Whitney, 422nd SFS Defense Force Sustainment Flight superintendent. “We needed to capitalize on utilization of our resources and support operational function. Basically, aligning the forces for optimal performance.”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein commissioned this idea under the Year of the Defender initiative to focus on training readiness, modernizing the force enterprise-wide and improving quality of life with eight-hour shifts. Squadron of the Future began at RAF Croughton Sept. 1, concentrating on providing defenders with more training opportunities, protected time off, and reorganizing the unit structure into a leaner, more efficient system.

“The biggest takeaway for me is the decentralized command relationship for the master sergeants, … the (noncommissioned officer) tier and down,” said Capt. Alexander Parsons, 422nd SFS operations officer. “It is really empowering those in junior-leadership levels to make decisions at the tactical level. Whereas in a traditional chain-of-command hierarchy, the decisions are elevated and made at a higher level. That is not the focus here. I want my Airmen and my NCOs to be empowered to make those decisions even at the lowest level possible. That frees up the senior leadership within the squadron to focus more on the strategic, operational and longer-term objectives.”

For 18 years, Air Force security forces squadrons followed the U.S. Army doctrine of separating the squadron into sections, S1 through S5: Commander Support Staff (S1), Intelligence Flight (S2), Operations and Training Flight (S3), Logistics and Resources Flight (S4), and Installation Security, Plans and Programs (S5). The new test program has removed these classifications and restructured the squadron to be more effective with streamlined communication transitioning to a three-system operations flight, a sustainment flight and command support staff.

With the implementation of Squadron of the Future, the biggest quality-of-life improvement is that off-duty time is secured.

“We started this back in September and we have not once brought anyone in from protected time off,” Whitney said. “When the flight is on their protected time off, no one in the unit is allowed to bring someone in unless the commander approves it. It is equivalent to crew rest.”

Defenders at RAF Croughton also increased their monthly training days from four to six. Likewise, trainers work alongside defenders to assist in training needs.

“Previously when we had to go to training, people generally drag their feet,” said Tech. Sgt. Corey Southard, 422nd SFS noncommissioned officer in charge of training. “Now you have a trainer embedded amongst your flight. People are more receptive to it. They have someone with them who’s their trainer. It’s twofold – the quicker they train you, the quicker you get out or go off to bigger and better things.”

The Squadron of the Future concept is being tested at 14 different security forces squadrons across the Air Force, at least one in each major command. Monthly conference calls with senior leaders bring Airmen together to talk about the progress and give feedback.

“Our senior leaders at the headquarters level are really taking care of the defenders out on the ground,” Whitney said. “In 18 years, this is a whole new change, but it’s a change for the right reasons. It is making us a more lethal career field by giving us more time to do training. That’s a lot of time not only to take care of our annual training plan requirements, but it also allows us to focus on the things that may be specific to RAF Croughton. It’s making us more lethal defenders, because you never know when the next threat’s going to come.”

RAF Croughton is the only test base in U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa.

By Airman 1st Class Jennifer Zima, 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

Royal Marines Unleash Heavy Weapons During Training On Salisbury Plain

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

Royal Marines unleashed their heavy weapons and armoured vehicles to assault ‘enemy’ positions during battles on Salisbury Plain.

Armed to the teeth and backed by Viking and Jackal vehicles, 45 Commando led an assault through Berrill Valley, pushing their adversary back across villages and bridges using some of their most potent anti-armour weaponry. 

Ten different pockets of resistance were routed in a day-long assault, as the commandos tackled undulated terrain and driving rain in Wiltshire, ahead of stepping off on deployments in the jungle, desert and Arctic in the next few months and into next year.

It was a chance for the heavy weapons experts, the Fire Support Group (FSG), of the Arbroath-based unit to test their machine guns, grenade machine guns and Javelin anti-tank weaponry on the battlefield.

The FSGs and X-Ray Company were transported into location using the Vikings to a site near the enemy before, with ruthless efficiency, gaining the upper hand during assaults.

With the FSG using their heavy weapons, laying down supressing fire in positions flanking enemy targets, X-Ray tested their close combat abilities, working through the valley and into the village of Imber – a settlement abandoned in 1943 to make way for training for the invasion of Europe in World War Two.

This was the fiery crescendo of the tactical phase of Exercise Blue Steel and Exercise Viking Warrior, which started with live firing, where FSGs from around 3 Commando Brigade gathered to blow off the cobwebs on the ranges.

“It’s important to shake out when we can to improve our ability to conduct those operations and avoid skill fade,” said Captain Oli Crow, Officer Commanding of 45 Commando Fire Support Groups.

“Each commando has a selection of FSGs which are a part of each close combat company and they provide the direct fire support capability to enable close combat troops to engage the enemy.

“It goes back to fighting a near peer enemy. You can expect them to have heavy armour which is a far cry from the previous decade when they haven’t.

“We have to ensure we can combat such a threat. It’s a really important aspect. We can’t predict what will happen but there are adversaries out there with high-tech equipment that matches or surpasses our own, so need to clearly know how to combat it.”

The marines cleared through woodland, hamlets and into Imber before taking back two strategically vital bridges from the enemy.

They moved on Vikings across a 10km area, each time with the FSG providing firepower to X-Ray’s commandos before they committed to the decisive assaults.

After being on the ranges, this was about perfecting their skills and offering the chance to work alongside armoured vehicles.

“Our role is to provide support to the troops from a nearby position. We’ll suppress a target from a distance, so we’ve got stand-off from their weapons systems and capabilities,” said anti-tank expert Marine Lewis Boateng of Zulu Company’s Fire Support Group.

“Once we’ve supplied that suppressive rate of fire that’s when the troops sweep through into positions.

“We’re due to go to the jungle in two weeks’ time. We haven’t done any anti-tanks for a while, so it’s great to blow off the cobwebs.”

Major Sam Hughes, Officer Commanding of X-Ray Company, was pleased to put his commandos through their paces.

He said: “Sitting on the range is one thing. Doing that in the wind and rain we’ve experienced this week in a tactical scenario, working with those vehicles, is huge. Hence why it’s really important to come together.

“The exercise has gone really well. It’s about recording what we’ve learnt. We’re about to go in to more traditional mountain training which is more on foot. Probably less of the heavy weapons and vehicles but that’s different skills. 

“So we will combine the training we’ve done here and the mountain training when we go to Norway in January for a three-month deployment doing Arctic training when we will have the Vikings, we will have the heavy weapons. It’s about taking forward the skills we’ve got.”

Published by Royal Navy.

Batteries Not Included

Sunday, September 29th, 2019

Security Forces at Minot AFB, in North Dakota conduct an equipment layout.

75th Ranger Regiment: A Day in the Life of a 2nd Battalion Ranger

Monday, September 23rd, 2019

I can’t think of a better way to kick off your Monday morning.

A day in the life of U.S. Army Rangers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, as they hone the skills needed to succeed in the world of Special Operations. Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, August 2019. (U.S. Army video by Sgt. Jaerett Engeseth)

Rangers Lead the Way!

Army Sniper Instructors Assist With Air Force’s Nuclear Advanced Designated Marksman Course

Monday, September 2nd, 2019

This past month in Guernsey Wyoming, two senior instructors from the United States Army Sniper Course from Fort Benning, Georgia, took part in assisting the United States Air Force in enhancing their lethality with overseeing the Nuclear Advanced Designated Marksman Course. Over the course of four weeks, the NADM and USASC cadre put 21 students to the test on advanced field craft and rigorous shooting qualifications to ensure that our most casualty producing weapon stays in the right hands. The United States Army Sniper Course is the premier sniper school in the U.S. military and is the forerunner on building interoperability with sister services and allied nations.

Here’s To The Maintainers

Monday, September 2nd, 2019

It seems rather fitting to me that on this Labor Day I should share an Air Force heritage video on its maintainers.

Here’s to my Father, Father-in-law, Mother-in-law and Son, along with all of those other AF Maintainers past and present who kept our planes flying so this noner could jump out of them.

US Air Force’s 18th Weather Squadron Transitions to Fight Future Wars

Sunday, September 1st, 2019

An organizational vision provides direction and unites a team by illustrating the future of that team. For the “Mighty” 18th Weather Squadron our new vision is, “Integrating Environmental Supremacy to Win Our Nation’s Wars.” To accomplish that vision, guided by Squadron Commander Lt. Col. James C. Caldwell, the men and women of the 18th WS, who have been fighting in the War on Terror for nearly two decades, now look to the future.

Stationed all along the eastern seaboard of the United States in nine geographically separated units, the Total Force Airmen of the Mighty 1-8 support the conventional Army units of the XVIII Airborne Corps and subordinate divisions, both in-garrison and across the globe. Headquartered at Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, the 18th WS produces some of the world’s most elite Army Weather Support forecasters, also known as Staff Weather Officers.

While a vision provides the team’s direction, a mission statement provides the “how.” The 18th WS mission statement is to “Train and Equip Courageous, Credible, and Combat-Ready Army Weather Support Airmen.” The most critical component of that mission statement is training. Before 18th WS SWOs are ready for deployment, they must attend a number of different formal training courses, such as the Army Weather Support Course and Evasion and Conduct After Capture. Additionally, SWOs must also complete Airfield Qualification Training and M4 Carbine and M9 Pistol qualification, and provide weather support in both Army and Air Force training and certification exercises.

Some of the more robust exercises in which SWOs participate are at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Louisiana and the National Training Center in California, but SWOs also support live-fire exercises and aircraft gunnery exercises. These exercises prepare the Army, and our embedded SWOs, for current and future warfare. In addition, each geographically separated unit conducts local exercises with supported Army units, including Unmanned Aerial System weather support, but the training does not stop there.

At the 18th WS, SWOs may also have the opportunity to become a paratrooper by attending the Army Basic Airborne Course, or train on aircraft orientation, sling-load operations, and rappelling and fast-rope techniques at Air Assault School. If motivated enough, a SWO may also earn the Pathfinder badge by learning dismounted navigation, and establishing and operating helicopter landing zones and parachute drop zones. To fully embed with our Army units, SWOs require these extra skills when the call comes for accurate environmental predictions.

As a capstone to their training, SWOs must complete an annual, unilateral combat mission readiness evaluation called the Expeditionary Field Evaluation Exercise (EFEX). During the EFEX, SWOs are evaluated on all AWS training items, including land navigation, tactical visibility charts, field condition manual observations, convoy procedures, evaluating and transporting a casualty, Tactical Meteorological Observing System operations, AWS mission weather briefs, and many other tasks. Upon successful completion of the EFEX, SWOs are then certified to execute the mission downrange.

While the basis of effective weather support is accurate, timely and relevant weather products, SWOs go far beyond this. SWOs must tailor products to best support command and control, identifying potential environmental impacts to friendly and enemy forces, while providing means to mitigate or exploit conditions to the advantage of friendly forces or disadvantage of enemy forces. Being able to equip decision-makers with decision-grade intelligence to accomplish mission objectives is what truly separates a SWO from a weather forecaster.

Despite the grinding deployment schedule over the last 20 years, our mission is now changing. The Airmen and families of the Mighty 1-8, guided by the renewed vision and mission statements mentioned above, must accept the current state of global affairs. No longer do we have to solely prepare for counterinsurgency operations, rather, following in the footsteps of the Army, we’re bending our focus each day more towards the high-end fight. State-on-state warfare, as outlined in the National Defense Strategy and the Air Force Weather Functional Concept of Operations, requires a deeper look at our ability to shoot, move and communicate on the battlefield.

Our culture is shifting away from traditional thinking to answer non-traditional requirements that encompass the entire scope of the environment, from the bottom of the ocean to the reaches of space. There’s no doubt that the victor in the next big war will require every advantage, especially those found in Mother Nature. We take this obligation seriously and know full well that the Mighty 1-8 is required for victory. We must be ready! – “All The Way!”

By SMSgt Patrick Brennan and Miguel Rosado, 18th Weather Squadron, 93d Air Ground Operations Wing Public Affairs