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Archive for the ‘AFSW’ Category

First There…That Others May Live: Special Tactics History

Sunday, January 10th, 2021

‘A Tribute to Persistence:’ SecAF Presents Air Force Cross to Special Tactics Airman

Monday, January 4th, 2021

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) —

Snapped awake by the sound of belt-fed machine gun fire, then-Senior Airman Alaxey Germanovich, a 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, surveys the compound he had dozed off in after several sleepless days of combat.

“I look around and I don’t see any of my American teammates,” Germanovich said. “(At that moment I said to myself) I need to find my friends right now.”

Grabbing his helmet and rifle, Germanovich bolted out of the compound and into the fight, where he saw several of the Army special forces Soldiers he was embedded with huddling for cover from behind a small rock.

“I knew then that I had to go get to my teammates and help them,” he said.

Germanovich’s base instinct would quickly turn into a grueling battle for survival, but it was those selfless impulses to save and protect his teammates that proved to be the difference between life and death for many of his teammates on that fateful day.

SecAF commends combat controller for valor

Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett presented the Air Force Cross to now-Staff Sgt. Germanovich during a ceremony at Cannon Air Force Base Dec. 10.

Germanovich was awarded the medal, second only to the Medal of Honor, for his actions April 8, 2017, during combat operations against enemy forces in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.

“This Air Force Cross is a tribute to your persistence (Staff Sgt. Germanovich),” Barrett said. “You risked your life and weathered blistering enemy fire to save the lives of others.”

In attendance were Col. Matthew Allen, 24th Special Operations Wing commander, the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) team Germanovich was attached to during the combat operations, and Germanovich’s family and friends.

Following the ceremony, Germanovich led those in attendance in memorial pushups to commemorate the event, the firefight and the ultimate sacrifice paid during the clash by Army Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar, a special forces Soldier assigned to 7th SFG (A) and a member of the team Germanovich was assigned to.

“This battle was a case study in toughness and extraordinary competence,” Allen said. “But it was also a case study in love. The type of love that demands teammates fight for one another and give everything they have.”

Germanovich’s actions as the air-to-ground liaison for his special operations forces team were credited with protecting the lives of more than 150 friendly forces and the lethal engagement of 11 separate fighting positions.

Facing hell, calling for fire

A native of Boiling Springs, South Carolina, Germanovich enlisted into the Air Force in November, 2012, with two goals in mind.

“I always knew I wanted a challenge,” Germanovich said. “I wanted to have a direct impact on the battlefield wherever I went.”

Five years later, both of those wishes would be granted when he deployed to Afghanistan and embedded with 7 SFG (A) Soldiers and their Afghan partners.

During his tour, the joint force was tasked with clearing several valleys in Nangarhar of fighters. As the multi-day operation progressed and the coalition forces pushed the insurgents closer to the Afghan border of Pakistan, the fighting became more and more violent. It reached a head as Germanovich sprinted through heavy enemy fire to help the Special Forces Soldiers on that fateful day.

After reaching the rock his teammates were pinned down behind, Germanovich began to call in airstrikes to try and suppress the attack.

“It was working to a degree,” Germanovich said. “But we were still receiving extremely effective fire, and one of our partner force members had gotten shot.”

To evacuate the wounded Afghan commando, Germanovich began to call for strikes extremely close to their position in order to create more separation between the coalition forces and the insurgents.

“As the bombs were falling out of the sky, I started screaming at everybody to run for cover,” Germanovich said.

After the partner force member was evacuated, the special operations forces team launched their counter-attack. A separate unit from across the valley was able to pinpoint a key enemy bunker during the firefight, and Germanovich’s element, led by De Alencar, crawled their way towards the position.

Once the fire team reached the top of the bunker, Germanovich and De Alencar dropped grenades into its entrance. Then, as Germanovich secured the opening and De Alencar and the other Special Forces Soldiers began to breach the bunker, insurgents ambushed the team from hidden positions to the south, mortally wounding De Alencar.

“The situation just became complete and utter chaos,” Germanovich said. “The team and I had expended all of our ordnance engaging enemy targets. We expended all of our grenades, there was no more pistol ammunition, and we were out of ammo completely.”

Lying prone with no cover from the attack, Germanovich put out a call to an AC-130W Stinger II gunship aircraft that was leaving the area in order to refuel.

“As they were leaving, I said ‘if you don’t come back, we’re dead.’” Germanovich said.

The gunship did return and began to fire on the enemy fighters, which gave Germanovich and the soldiers the opportunity to move away and evacuate De Alencar.

“All the while, we’re still taking effective fire from the enemy,” Germanovich said. “We began dropping ordnance and basically bombing up this mountainside until we got to safety.”

Germanovich’s actions proved decisive on that battlefield and demonstrated the enormous impact of Air Force Special Operation Command’s precision strike mission, which provides ground force with specialized capabilities to find, assess and engage targets.

“You (Germanovich) told me earlier that you did what any one of your teammates would have done in the same situation,” Allen said. “But we don’t know that. We do know what you did that day: face and devastate a numerically superior enemy … this is why America’s enemies do not take us head on.”

Germanovich’s ability to enable precision strike operations and his bravery in the face of hostile fire are incredibly courageous in their own right, but it was the reason behind his valiant performance that makes him an unquestionable hero.

“It was 100% my teammates,” Germanovich said. “If I’m in danger, I know without a doubt in my mind that my teammates are going to do everything in their power to make sure that I come back, and I would do everything that I could possibly do to make sure that they come back.”

Article by SrA Maxwell Daigle, 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Photos by SSgt Michael Washburn and A1C Drew Cyburt

AFSOC’s SOF DT Undergoes Transformation

Saturday, December 5th, 2020

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. —

As Air Force Special Operations Command drives towards transformation to the “AFSOC of Tomorrow” by developing its human capital, the Special Operations Forces Developmental Team instituted a more rigorous evaluation and scoring process to give SOF officers more specific feedback and purposeful career development. This enhanced process kicked off this year with the Apr. 20-24, 2020 SOF DT.

 “Over the last five to seven years, development team scoring hasn’t changed,” said Maj. Brandon Webster, Chief, Command Force Development. “There was no clear path on how we wanted to develop an individual, and we wanted to give officers more options and transparency on the future of their career.”

Historically, the DT only scored records for officers who were being considered for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel. The new process now incorporates scoring to begin with Captains, allowing for feedback and mentorship at a much earlier point in an officer’s career.

“Looking at an officer earlier on allows us to be intentional,” said Webster. “We now have the ability to look at a Captain’s records and tell him or her where they stand against their peers, and what their career pathway could look like five to ten years down the road based on where they’re at right now.”

DT record scoring provides objective data for more informative assignment placement, hiring for special duty positions, flying assignments outside of an officer’s normal aircraft, and the addition of sub-developmental pathways.

 “Overall, we’ve revamped the entire DT process. We’re focusing a lot more time on the individual to provide substantial feedback and mentor our officers at all levels, beginning at the rank of Captain,” said Webster. “It is the DT’s responsibility to ensure the right officer is placed in the right job at the right time, with the right training, education, and experiences.”

The fall DT, held Oct. 19-23, consisted of group scoring for Captains, Majors, and graduated squadron commanders. Each officer’s developmental vector will follow a percentile format, giving members direct feedback on where they fall among their peers.

“Synchronizing our efforts provides senior leadership the ability to manage officers and strengthen our future force,” said Webster. “The transformation of the SOF DT is one-step closer to building the SOF officers we need for tomorrow.”

Story by Capt Savannah Stephens, AFSOC Public Affairs

Photo by SSgt Rose Gudex

Special Operations Terminal Attack Controller Course

Monday, November 30th, 2020

The Special Operations Terminal Attack Controller Course (SOTACC) is hosted by the 24th Special Operations Wing, which allows trains SOF from all branches and partner nations to receive their Joint Terminal Attack Controller certification. Students conduct special operations focused close air support missions from several types of aircraft.

(U.S. Air Force photos by Tech. Sgt. Rose Gudex, ST Combat Camera)

Special Warfare Preparatory Course Changes the Way Airmen Train

Sunday, November 29th, 2020

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-CHAPMAN TRAINING ANNEX, Texas – The Air Force’s Special Warfare Training Wing has refined its training program for Airmen attempting to enter the Tactical Air Control Party, Special Tactics or Guardian Angel weapons systems, in an effort to create more well-rounded future operators.

Following graduation from Basic Military Training, new enlisted Airmen interested in becoming a candidate for a career in special warfare must complete the eight week Special Warfare Preparatory Course (SWPC). In this course, training coaches, dieticians, counselors and other staff members expose Airmen to the tools needed to become successful within the various special warfare training pipelines. Upon completion of SWPC, Airmen enter into the course of initial entry for their particular career field.

“Our course is meant to better develop operators,” said Master Sgt. Michael Blout, Special Warfare Preparatory Course superintendent. “We are providing better, more well-rounded training, which provides the Air Force with more capable operators straight out of the training pipeline.”

This deliberate approach to training takes a more holistic edge involving multiple disciplines and modalities consisting of strength & conditioning, mental toughness, nutrition, sleep hygiene and active recovery. Additionally, the SWPC staff incorporates Human Performance monitoring to track conditioning throughout the 8 week course. This Human Performance capability informs the staff on the level of effectiveness for each of the SW candidates.

“In the past, candidates arrived unprepared both mentally and physically for the rigors of the special warfare pipeline, which drove historical levels of high attrition,” said Chief Master Sgt. Todd Popovic, Special Warfare Training Wing command chief. “However, this course provides a firm foundation to educate and prepare each Airmen for what’s ahead and has proven to decrease attrition in the follow-on courses.”

For more information on special warfare career fields visit www.airforce.com/careers/indemand-careers/special-warfare.

By 1st Lt Jeremy Huggins, Special Warfare Training Wing

27 SOCS Tests New Equipment, Supports Special Tactics Training

Saturday, November 21st, 2020

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. —

The 27th Special Operations Communications Squadron utilized new equipment to provide over 60 special tactics Airmen assigned to the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, with network access to ensure that the teams could have full access to the necessary resources to ensure proper training while at Cannon.

The tactical local access network is a piece of mobile tactical equipment that provides the ability for more online services in an isolated area. It is utilized by pairing with a satellite dish network, which normally provides support for five to ten computers, and moves the workload off of the SDN to the TACLAN, which provides access for 75 computers.

“The TACLAN gives us the same capabilities as the base’s network system,” said Staff Sgt. Thomas Jara, 27 SOCS non-commissioned officer in charge of the TACLAN team. “Printers, shared drives, we can control everything the base would on the TACLAN. As of right now, Cannon is the only base in the Air Force Special Operations Command and United States Special Operations Command utilizing this model.”

This is the first time that the current TACLAN model has been mobilized to provide mission support. While the team was able to properly operate the system for the 22 STS’s training operations, the TACLAN team is currently planning to receive more training on how to better utilize the equipment.

“We are deployable with this capability, but I want to be better,” Jara said. “While we are able to fix any issues that arise while working the system, I want more people to learn the system so it becomes commonplace.”

While the team maintained the system so it was fully operational, Maj. Emily Short 27 SOCS commander, came by to receive a brief overview on what they were working on.

“The TACLAN team is phenomenal,” Short said. “This training gives them an opportunity to learn more, allow younger Airmen to grow alongside them, and this operation has given us the opportunity to link up with other organizations for cross-utilization which can only lead to further growth for our efforts.”

While the satellite currently used with the TACLAN system allows up to 75 users, the 27 SOCS has access to equipment that would allow over 300 users on the system.

“I think the system absolutely bolsters our capabilities,” Short said. “It helps our users, people like mission planners and members of the 22 STS during this training operation. Speeding up their network gives them better planning control and speeds up the planning process. It all leads to increased lethality in the end.”

By Senior Airman Vernon R. Walter III, 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

ZOLL Partners With US Air Force Research Laboratory to Improve How Combat Medics Treat Their Patients

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

November 17, 2020 — CHELMSFORD, MASS. — ZOLL® Medical Corporation, an Asahi Kasei company that manufactures medical devices and related software solutions, and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory announced today the signing of a patent license agreement to make it easier for the deployed medic to document vitals, help administer critical care, integrate patient data and identify exact location of casualties in austere combat environments.

The agreement reinforces the integration of ZOLL’s Propaq patient monitors and monitor/defibrillators into the Battlefield Assisted Trauma Distributed Observation Kit, or BATDOK, point-of-injury software tool. BATDOK is a trademark of the United States Air Force.

According to Dr. Gregory Burnett, airman-machine integration product line lead at the AFRL 711th Human Performance Wing, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, “The ability to monitor and document care for multiple patients from point of injury all the way through to a definitive care facility can improve quality and continuity of treatment for an injured service member.”

The integration of the Propaq monitors and monitor/defibrillators with the BATDOK software tool enables combat medics to wirelessly and automatically monitor multiple patients’ vitals simultaneously at the point of injury through medical evacuation, and follow-on transfer to the next level of care.

“This facilitates maximum awareness and documentation of in-field patient care while providing state-of-the-art patient monitoring and best-in-class diagnostic and resuscitation capabilities to the wounded service member,” said Jonathan A. Rennert, CEO of ZOLL.

The Propaq M and Propaq MD are ultra-lightweight, airworthy and telemedicine-capable monitors or monitor/defibrillators that provide advanced patient-monitoring capabilities. They are designed specifically for the rigors of military and aeromedical operations. Next to ZOLL´s portable ventilators, the EMV+ and the 330 Multifunction Aspirator, the Propaq M and MD are part of the standard patient movement item equipment for the different branches of the U.S. military and are essential critical care devices for many military medical corps worldwide.

For more than 25 years, ZOLL has been a trusted partner delivering acute critical care technologies to the military, Rennert explained. “ZOLL products are extensively utilized throughout the entire military healthcare system in support of the warfighter and casualty care treatment within all roles of operational En-Route Care System, disaster and humanitarian response.”

“ZOLL’s leading resuscitation and critical care technologies are field-proven in all roles of operational medical care on the battlefield, in aeromedical evacuation and transport, in field hospitals and in garrison for definitive care,” he added.

Air Force’s Special Warfare Training Builds Physical, Intellectual Leaders Ready To Handle Threats Worldwide

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) —

Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, saw firsthand how Air Education and Training Command officials ensure joint forces are well equipped with ready and lethal special operations Airmen during a visit to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Oct. 16.

“This visit shined a spotlight on how AETC recruits and trains all enlisted Air Force special warfare operators,” said Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Education and Training Command. “The next generation of Airmen must be lethal and ready to compete, deter and win in an increasingly complex environment, and it starts here in the First Command.”

The visit traced the initial skills training path of special operators from recruiting and accessions through basic and technical training.

“The realism and intensity of this training is vital because when these Airmen finish their training, they’ll need to address challenges we may not be able to predict,” Clarke said. “AETC is training leaders who will be asked to address an ever-changing landscape where the fight we’ve engaged in since 9/11 may not resemble the threat our adversaries will present in the coming years. The physical toughness, intellectual capacity and ethical core these Airmen are developing during their training will help the Joint Force address the worldwide range of challenges each geographic combatant commander faces.”

“Having the agility of mind to understand mission-type orders, to understand commander’s intent and be able to move out are essential elements of AETC and the training we provide special warfare Airmen,” Webb added.

The path of a special operator starts with Air Force Recruiting Service. To help find the right candidates who can excel through an intense training pipeline, AFRS established the 330th Recruiting Squadron, a specialty squadron whose mission is to effectively scout, develop and guide future special warfare Airmen to their combat calling.

“Our special warfare careers are some of the most challenging career fields we have to fill,” said Maj. Gen. Edward Thomas, AFRS commander. “Candidates must meet exceptionally high physical standards and must have the grit and determination to push further and harder.”

Enlisted special warfare career fields include combat controllers, pararescue, special reconnaissance, and tactical air control party. In 2019, the 330th RCS successfully increased recruitment 20% compared to their inaugural year in 2018.

Once trainees are recruited, Second Air Force takes the lead, beginning with basic military training at JB San Antonio-Lackland, under the responsibility of the 37th Training Wing.

“BMT sets the foundation for all of the Air Force’s enlisted Airmen,” said Maj. Gen. Andrea Tullos, Second Air Force commander. “We are aligning foundational competencies to meet National Defense Strategy objectives so our Airmen immediately enhance mission execution when they join their first Air Force or joint team.”

While at BMT, enlisted special warfare trainees receive additional physical training and are aggregated in flights together so they can foster the camaraderie needed to prepare them for the next phase of training they enter in the Special Warfare Training Wing, also located at JB San Antonio-Lackland.

“We are training these newly-minted Airmen to meet the demands of the future battlefield,” said Col. Mason Dula, Special Warfare Training Wing commander. “We push the limits of human performance and technology to build a stronger, smarter, more lethal force capable of solving the nation’s most complex military problems.”

Training begins with the Special Warfare Preparatory Course before recruits are vectored into an Air Force specialty code. Depending on their AFSC, trainees move to other locations around the country for schools such as Air Force Combat Dive School, Airborne and Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School. Each course is meant to push trainees’ mental and physical abilities to their limits.

“As a tactical air control party, I can attest that this training pushes our Airmen to their limits, but it also prepares them for the reality of the austere environments they will face as an operator,” said Chief Master Sgt. Adam Vizi, Second Air Force command chief. “Going through all of the training associated with the TAC-P pipeline ensured I was trained, equipped and ready to deliver timely, accurate and lethal effects on the battlefield.”

There are several training pipelines, which, depending on the specialty, vary in length. Airmen who successfully complete training proceed to their operational units and join Air Force special tactics teams or joint forces at USSOCOM.

The tour also included a visit to the Career Enlisted Aircrew Center of Excellence. Here, members of the 37th Training Group have established an Air Force specialty code baseline and prepare candidates to complete follow-on flight training programs. The COE staff members prepare graduates for nine AFSC-awarding courses, including four that directly support special operations. After completing the Aircrew Fundamentals Course, students who complete the Basic Flight Engineer, Basic Loadmaster Course or Basic Special Missions Aviation Course attend initial qualification courses that prepare them to be Air Commandos.

“These enlisted Airmen take the training they gain here in the First Command and carry it with them through their operational careers,” said Chief Master Sgt. Erik Thompson, AETC command chief. “It is imperative we provide them with the preparation they need to compete in every domain and win for the joint force and the nation.”

Story by Jennifer Gonzalez, Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

Photos by Johnny Saldivar