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Hurlburt Field Wing Takes ACE C2 to Next Level for Lead Wings

Monday, September 26th, 2022

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (AFNS) —

For almost a decade, U.S. defense officials have deemed the return of great-power competition to be the most significant challenge to U.S. national security. As a result, the Department of Defense’s leadership is taking bigger and bolder steps to maintain the U.S. military and technological edge over pacing challenges such as China and Russia. With this effort, the ability of the U.S. to deter coercion, aggression, and even war in the coming decades is at stake. To bolster the U.S. Air Force’s ability to meet those challenges, the 705th Training Squadron executed Air Combat Command’s first Lead Wing Command and Control Course at Hurlburt Field, Florida, Aug. 23-26.

Participants included leaders from the A-staff of all five designated ACC lead wings: Moody Air Force Base, Georgia; Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina; Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona; and Offutt AFB, Nebraska. Additionally, representatives from Headquarters Air Force, 15th Air Force, and the 505th Command and Control Wing attended.

The LWC2C is ACC’s groundbreaking lead wing leadership training course for distributed operations in support of Agile Combat Employment. ACE is a proactive and reactive operational scheme of maneuver executed within threat timelines to increase the survivability of forces while generating combat power through a deterrence continuum. When applied correctly, ACE complicates an adversary’s targeting process, creates political and operational dilemmas and creates flexibility for friendly forces.

“The overall current and future operating principle for the Air Force is based on places, not large, fixed bases. As a result, the Air Force will increasingly rely on smaller, more agile force packages and expeditionary air units with the ability to move between austere, temporary bases to complicate peer adversaries’ planning,” said Lt. Col. Marcus Bryan, 705th TRS commander. “The shift was largely driven by China and Russia’s more assertive behavior and new capabilities designed to disrupt and destroy U.S. command and control networks and thwart U.S. power projection.”

The course is designed to prepare a lead wing A-staff for operations in support of an air component commander in any theater. This new course captures the challenges of executing C2 in a denied, degraded, or contested environment while conducting effective ACE operations. The LWC2C is designed for immediate student immersion into joint and Air Force doctrine using Kingfish ACE game boards. Col. Troy Pierce, HAF Directorate of Plans and Programs, designed the original board game entitled Kingfish ACE to first introduce Airmen Air Force-wide to the concept and challenges of ACE.

“The innovative approach our team took with LWC2C is a huge step in breaking the military training paradigm with regards to how the military approaches academics and training. We are focusing on introducing lead wing A-staffs to the complexity of distributed C2 of ACE through a more hands-on approach rather than the traditional ‘death by PowerPoint’ approach,” said Lt. Col. Benjamin Lee, 705th TRS director of operations. “Our training doesn’t stop with this course, the 505th CCW will be an integral part of the entirety of a lead wing’s C2 training program. As each wing progresses from ACE lead wing academics through certification in the ‘Prepare and Ready’ phases of the AFFORGEN [Air Force Force Generation Model] cycle, we anticipate continuous teaching and mentoring.”

Upon completing the LWC2C, attendees will understand the concepts and considerations of integrating ACC’s lead wing activities into the air component C2 structure to support ACE operations within any theater.

“The U.S. military can no longer assume that it will have the freedom of action in a conflict that it had in the past by gaining early superiority in the air, space, cyberspace and maritime domains,” said Col. Adam Shelton, 505th Test and Training Group commander. “In any future conflict, U.S. forces will need to fight for advantage across these domains – and then continue fighting to keep it – in the face of a continuous peer adversary efforts to disrupt and degrade U.S. battle-management networks.”

Story by 505th Command and Control Wing Public Affairs, 705th Training Squadron

Photos by Keith Keel

“Truly an honor.”: SOST Member Recognized as Air Force OAY

Friday, September 23rd, 2022

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. —  

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Brandon Blake, a special operations surgical team member assigned to the 24th Special Operations Wing, is set to be recognized as one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year at the 2022 Air, Space & Cyber Conference Sep. 19-21.

Blake and 35 fellow airmen were considered by an Air Force selection board for the department-wide award. Enlisted members are chosen based on superior leadership, job performance and personal achievements.

Blake is the Superintendent, Special Operations Surgical Team Detachment One, 720th Operations Squadron assigned to the 24th Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Last summer, Blake was a catalyst in the evacuation of over 124,000 evacuees in support of Operation ALLIES REFUGE. He drove a six-member team supporting thousands of military and civilian personnel, treating over 70 wounded individuals and assisting seven surgeries.

“I couldn’t have asked for a stronger team sergeant than MSgt Blake. His experience and leadership in stressful, highly dynamic environments was crucial to our team’s success while deployed to Afghanistan,” said U.S. Air Force Major Jesse Payne, deployment team lead and Medical Operations flight commander for the SOST Detachment 1.

The efforts of Blake and his team earned praise from then 82nd Airborne Division commander Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue and Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, General David H. Berger.

Additionally, Blake tackled the COVID-19 front lines at the University of Alabama Birmingham, a Level 1 trauma center, providing 768 acute service hours and aiding treatment for 156 severely injured patients.

“His ability to integrate with the civilian trauma system to see high acuity patients at UAB highlights the value of the Air Force partnership with the university,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Marc Northern, Blake’s former supervisor.

“He demonstrates his commitment to his unit, to his patients and to the mission every day. MSgt Blake upholds the highest level of compassion, clinical judgement, skill, and composure under pressure,” added Northern.

His leadership proved vital in his role as detachment superintendent, managing 25 members, four teams and four flights on top on a 1.5-million-dollar inventory.

His active roles, on top of countless trainings, exercises, and crisis response situations led to dozens of lives saved and exceptional operational readiness for the detachment.

Simultaneously, Blake earned a degree in Public Health and Healthcare Administration and spent free time with local animal rescue along with toy and food drives supporting low-income populations.

“To be recognized as OAY for Air Force Special Operations Command is truly an honor, and I am grateful for the opportunity,” said Blake. “I stand on the shoulders of giants, and I couldn’t have done any of this without my team.”

Happy 75th Birthday US Air Force

Sunday, September 18th, 2022

Airmen Train, Deliver Humanitarian Aid to Honduras

Sunday, September 18th, 2022

SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras (AFNS) —

Airmen assigned to the 22nd Airlift Squadron and 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron from Travis Air Force Base, California, collaborated to deliver more than 90,000 pounds of humanitarian aid to Honduras during a combined Major Command Service Tail Trainer (MSTT) and Denton cargo mission Aug. 21-31, 2022. Members of Youngstown Air Reserve Station’s 76th Aerial Port Squadron helped palletize and load the cargo.

Maj. Zachary Barrington, 22nd Airlift Squadron C-5M Super Galaxy pilot instructor, led a 14-member crew that delivered approximately $38,000 worth of medical supplies and other goods to support the Denton Program, which allows private U.S. citizens and private organizations to transport humanitarian goods to approved countries in need.

The crew consisted of pilots, flight engineers, loadmasters and crew chiefs with varying levels of experience. Each member received real-world operations training for the C-5M, enabling some members to become fully qualified and ready to support rapid global mobility.

“It was incredible to witness how the crew divides and conquers each challenge to successfully deliver aid where it’s needed,” said Staff Sgt. Darren Hopkins, a recently cross-trained 22nd AS C-5M flight engineer.

With the guidance of his instructor, Tech. Sgt. Beverly Castro, 22nd AS C-5M flight engineer instructor, Hopkins transitioned from simulators and theoretical systems studies to real-world applications in operations for the first time on this mission.

Each student on board received guidance and debriefs during flight and upon completion of their performance at every stop from their respective career field instructor.

“One of our goals during these MSTT missions is obviously to expedite students’ upgrade training, but just as important is to build our loadmasters’ competence and confidence,” said Tech. Sgt. Jacob Buruato, 22nd AS loadmaster instructor.

These long missions allow pilots, flight engineers and loadmasters the opportunity to check off tasks required to reach proficiency.

“These training missions are imperative to the development of our students’ skillset and ultimately, to mission success.” said Buruato. “Whether you are a pilot, flight engineer or a loadmaster student, MSTTs equip our Airmen with additional knowledge and real-world experience to tackle obstacles in the future should they face any.”

Both students and instructors benefit during these training missions.

“The moment when your student understands and realizes the importance of their role during a mission is very rewarding,” said Buruato, “And missions tend to drive that newfound mindset home.”

Dual-purpose missions like these tend to do just that.

“Flying into Honduras was a unique experience on its own,” said Hopkins. “Realizing that these supplies contribute to the development of that country helped me put things into perspective.”

The rest of the training consisted of stops to unique places such as Colorado, Ohio, Florida, South Carolina and Portugal.

“One of my personal takeaways from my first flight in my new career field is witnessing how these trainings support growth on the road, enhance communication and draw the crew closer to become one team, one fight when it comes to rapid global mobility,” said Hopkins. 

By Senior Airman Karla Parra, 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Special Warfare Training Wing Strengthens Inclusion

Friday, September 16th, 2022

Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. —  

Those who go to war together must live and train together, according to the philosophy behind the Air Force’s Special Warfare Training Wing here, which prepares operational Airmen in seven career specialties.

Modified facilities were built at the SWTW to ensure appropriate levels of privacy for mixed-sex cohorts of trainees at the Special Warfare Candidate Course, the course of initial entry for those who want to become Air Force Special Warfare Airmen.

These mixed-sex facilities include open-bay dormitories where male and female trainees bunk together, equipped with specially designed mixed-sex locker areas to incorporate individual shower rooms and restrooms with privacy for each trainee.

 “Fostering an environment of inclusion is an imperative for the SWTW,” said Col. Nathan Colunga, SWTW commander. “The mixed-sex facilities built at our candidate course, where we first welcome Special Warfare Airmen, are only the beginning for the SWTW. The larger strategy is to build mixed-sex facilities throughout the entirety of the SWTW footprint, across the nation where every trainee, regardless of gender, is afforded the same level of privacy.”

In 2015, the U.S. Air Force began the process of integrating women into the AFSPECWAR career fields previously closed to them. The construction of the mixed sex facilities marks a positive step in the wing’s progress.

For Air Education and Training Command and 2nd Air Force, the process of broadening the pool of recruits for instructors and trainees in the Air Force’s technical-training pipelines is a top priority.

“We continuously struggle to recruit enough people who have the potential to meet our standards in Air Force Special Warfare,” said Maj. Gen. Michele Edmondson, 2nd Air Force commander, who oversees basic military training and the majority of non-flying technical training for AETC.

“I want to leave no stone unturned,” she said.  “We need to be more deliberate about bringing in anyone who has the propensity to serve in these career fields and meets the standards it takes to graduate.”

The SWTW has graduated five female AFSPECWAR Airmen to date and continues to see the benefits of the mixed-sex integration efforts. There are currently two female trainees in the SWTW pipelines and continued efforts to fully integrate facilities for all sexes will ensure further diversity, inclusion and integration.

One of those graduates is Capt. Lauren Laffosse, a tactical air control party officer who is currently the chief of force integration at 2nd Air Force.

“My focus is not just on women in the special warfare pipelines,” said Laffosse. “I look at all under-represented groups and my job is to help remove barriers and ensure equitable processes across all career fields trained in 2nd Air Force.”

Laffosse participates first-hand in training courses to discover ways to make instructor and training opportunities available to a wider range of potential recruits.

“I go into training environments alongside students to observe and experience things personally,” she said.  “My experience as a TACP enables me to understand the operational and training requirements so that we’re not changing the standards.”

One example Laffosse cited was a lack of female restrooms or changing areas in facilities where AFSPECWAR candidates train, something the SWTW is working to rectify.

“We need to negate the unintentional barriers that prevent people from being on the team,” said Edmondson. “I believe it is a national imperative that we look at the future fight and ensure we have the right operators available to be able to assemble the proper team required to meet an evolving mission set that looks different in the future than it has in the past.

“If we don’t appeal to all demographics to join these career-fields, we are missing a huge portion of the available talent our nation has to offer,” she said. “We need to entice anyone who can meet the community’s standards.”

For the SWTW, the future of training will be completely mixed-sex integrated.

The SWTW aquatics training center set for completion in August 2023 will be fully equipped for mixed-sex training. When complete, the $66.6M aquatics training center will accommodate training for more than 3,000 AFSPECWAR trainees annually by incorporating a full range of special operations training scenarios.

The 76,000 square-foot center will feature mixed-sex restrooms, locker rooms, and showers, as well as two enclosed climate-controlled indoor pools of varying depths geared to meet the training needs for the Air Force’s global combat operations.

 “The foundation we set today at the SWTW will produce the operators of the future who will compete, deter, and win the future high-end fight against peer and near-peer adversaries,” said Colunga. “We must ensure that these operators, who begin their careers in our pipelines, are able to reach their full potential and are not limited by the barriers of the past to then form the lethal and inclusive APFSPECWAR teams we need.”

Members of SWTW provide initial training for all U.S. Air Force Special Warfare training specialties, to include combat controllers, pararescue, special reconnaissance and tactical air control party Airmen.

To learn more about AFSPECWAR Airmen or other U.S. Air Force Special Warfare career opportunities, go to: www.airforce.com/careers/in-demand-careers/special-warfare.

By 1st Lieutenant Xiaofan Liu

Special Warfare Training Wing

AGR Program Changes on the Horizon

Wednesday, September 14th, 2022

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFNS) —  

In line with Lt. Gen. John Healy’s strategic priorities of “Ready Now!” and “Transforming for the Future,” Air Force Reserve Command is instituting changes to the Active Guard and Reserve program effective Oct. 1.

On that day, roughly 6,000 AGR positions will complete the transition to “term” and have initial tour determination and extension approval authority at the wing commander level. Career status will be granted at six cumulative years of service in the AGR program.

“The AGR program will continue to provide promotion, career progression, retention, education and professional development opportunities for Reserve Citizen Airmen,” said Healy, chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of AFRC. “Taking care of our Airmen will remain our priority during the transition as commanders ensure they have the critical AGR positions filled to be combat ready to meet operational demands in the future.”

As always, the program may lead to Airmen earning an active-duty retirement after attaining the required years of total active federal military service.

Career AGRs who wish to remain in the AGR program will continue to adhere to existing guidance and will accept permanent change of station, permanent change of assignment, training, developmental education and force development opportunities in accordance with Air Force Manual 36-2114, section 6.6.

AGR term positions were successfully introduced in 2019, and provide more agility in recruiting, retaining and managing AGR talent. After three years of implementation and review, AFR leadership is instituting changes to the AGR program. The transformation is part of AFRC’s mission and compliance with Healy’s task order “to ensure units are mission ready and properly resourced.”

Wing commanders, or their equivalent, will have tour length determination and extension approval authority. In the past, initial term tours were fixed at three years, with an extension up to five years requiring Deputy Commander, Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC/CD) or Deputy to the Chief, Air Force Reserve (AF/RE-D) approval. Now, advertisements for initial tour lengths – two, three, four or five years – will be determined by wing commanders and above. Tour extensions may not exceed a total tour length of five years.

The second change will remove the AGR career status option from the AGR continuation decision process. AGR members will be granted career status after completion of six cumulative years in the AGR program, in accordance with Department of Defense Instruction 1205.18, section 6.6.

Over the next month, communication will be provided through virtual town hall meetings, Facebook Live events, email and MyPers messages, and updates to command social media sites regarding the AGR changes.

For additional information, elevate any questions through your Numbered Air Force A1 staff or Headquarters Commander Support Staff.

Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs

Airman Accelerates Change Through Persistence, Develops Tool for RPAs

Tuesday, September 13th, 2022

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) —

In 2015, the 3rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit was tasked with reducing cargo taken on an MQ-1 Predator alert package with the goal to decrease the need for two C-17 Globemaster IIIs to only one. Then Tech. Sgt. Bridget Carroll had an idea to help achieve this goal with the creation of a “bird-in-a-box” later known as the Digital Aircraft Link Emulator, or DALE.

Though Carroll created the solution, she was not met with instant success. Her journey took seven years.

Spring 2015 – Need was discovered.

July 2015 – First MQ-1 DALE prototype created.

September 2015 – Airman Powered by Innovation submitted.

Spring 2016 – Space Dynamics Lab at the University of Utah created two DALE MQ-9 Reaper prototypes.

August 2018 – Air Force Special Operations Command 2019 Spark Tank competition submitted.

October 2018 – API disapproval

October 2018 – Notified that MQ-9 DALE had won AFSOC Spark Tank Top 5.

February 2019 – DALE presented at Air Force Association Spark Tank.

Present – DALE Jr. developed and employed.

“If we could mobilize our capability without an actual aircraft then we could get down range and get operational faster,” Carroll said. “I had the idea to put the minimum amount of aircraft parts in a box to still do line-of-sight checks with our control stations after we set up a field site.”

During her planning phase of DALE, the Air Force was retiring the MQ-1, which resulted in a lower risk if the aircraft parts were damaged during the project’s initial stages.

“Once all the parts came in, I took the MQ-1 computer, gutted an electronics case that was awaiting DRMO, spliced cables, drilled mounting brackets, and pieced together the first “bird-in-a-box” prototype,” she said.

Before the existence of DALE, this process would require more than 10 Airmen to accompany the package, set it up and tow the remotely piloted aircraft around the airfield to ensure link connections were made.

Today, the DALE can be unloaded and ready for use with two Airmen in less than an hour. It is used to establish line of sight connections on a remote airfield and can be unloaded, set up and prepared for link checks in a more efficient manner.

Carroll’s idea and her creation of DALE serve as an inspiration for all Airmen to lean into innovation to accelerate change.

“Spark Tank is a chance to celebrate our Air Force risk-takers, idea makers and entrepreneurs who refuse to accept the status quo and have determined their own fate by developing solutions that make it easier for us to bring our very best to the fight,” said Lauren Knausenberger, Spark Tank director.

Innovation competitions like Spark Tank create an avenue for Airmen to think outside of the box and in Carroll’s case, put her idea in a box.

“Don’t give up,” she said. “There’s always people and other avenues out there that will help you.”

Staff Sgt. Chase Ward, 727th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics craftsman, began working alongside Carroll and the DALE jr. prototype last year and has witnessed the impact of her innovation. He said that the final version of DALE is in the process of being manufactured and sent out Air Force wide.

“I appreciate being able to watch this process go full circle,” Ward said. “It is awesome to know that our ideas do matter.”

Carroll’s journey and level of success is a testimony to hard work, dedication and the impact of empowering Airmen with a culture of innovation. She did not allow a hurdle such as not winning a competition prevent her from accomplishing her goals.

Story by TSgt Kaylee Clark

Photos by SSgt Candin Muniz

27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Michigan ANG Medics Take New Combat Casualty Care Course

Sunday, September 11th, 2022

SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. – Aerospace medical technicians with the 127th Medical Group, Michigan Air National Guard, took part in an innovative form of combat lifesaving training during August drill, practicing the battlefield care program replacing self-aid buddy care.

“The Air Force adopted this training to begin to give definitive care to patients early on following a trauma,” said Maj. Patrick Frank, 127th Medical Group medical administrative officer. “They found, through historical evidence, that the earlier patients receive trauma care, the higher their survivability rate will be.”

The tactical combat casualty care training teaches ways to reduce casualties in the field by improving the lifesaving skills of medical and non-medical military personnel.

The training Aug. 15-16 included classroom instruction and a field training exercise to practice applying immediate care on the battlefield. Modules for the 127th Medical Group brought experiences during recent conflicts to life to increase trauma survivability.

“The training scenario was that a bomb had gone off in a building, and it was determined to be a dirty bomb,” Frank said, referring to a conventional explosive containing radiological material. “The medical teams responded, suited up in [mission-oriented protective posture] gear, entered the building, assessed their patients, and were able to get them out and to a casualty collection point.”

To train service members from career fields outside the medical realm, TCCC is offered in three courses. The training at Selfridge was designed for aerospace medical technicians, pararescue and other uniformed medical providers who may deploy to support combat operations.

“We thought that this would be a great opportunity for [our medics] to be in their MOPP gear, go to the front line to get the patients out, and do the lifesaving skills that they need to do to in order to make sure that the patient is safe,” said 1st Lt. Heather Salgat, 127th Medical Group clinical nurse.

Other TCCC course offerings include “combat lifesaver,” designed for non-medical military members deployed to a combat situation, and the “all service member” course for any uniformed service member.

With the successful completion of the TCCC, participating members of the 127th Medical Group are ready to perform the trauma care techniques that can help save more lives.

“We have a lot of new individuals who just joined our unit, and them being involved in this training is exciting and better prepares them for the warfight,” Salgat said. “I am so proud of my team. Everybody jumped into it and did exactly what they needed to do.”
 

By SSgt Andrew Schumann, 127th Wing Public Affairs