Tactical Tailor

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A Mile In A Defender’s Boots

Friday, July 30th, 2021

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – The 374th Security Forces Squadron hosted the fourth iteration of the 374th Mission Support Group training day on July 21, 2021, where Airmen from other MSG squadrons learned about the SFS mission.

The training was conducted as part of the group’s focus to enhance Yokota’s Agile Combat Employment capabilities, which allows for a faster response to contingencies with a smaller footprint.

“In a combat situation, you have all these different career fields that don’t necessarily work as a singular unit,” said Master Sgt. Charles Bell, 374th SFS superintendent of plans and standards evaluation. “The ACE concept will take care of that. It could be a maintainer, who knows just the basics of security forces, coming to assist us. Or it could be a security forces member, going to the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron to help them refuel and get the jets off the ground.”

The all-day event took place at SFS headquarters, where participants were able to get a little glimpse into the day-to-day life of a defender. The day was filled with hands-on exercises, in place of lectures.

“There is a lot of stuff we can teach by PowerPoint but the readiness comes when we actually apply it,” Bell said. “This training gets our trainees excited while at the same time showing them what we do.

“One of the trainings we hosted was the Multiple Interaction Learning/Training Objective systems, which are ‘shoot, no shoot’ scenarios,” he added. “We also conducted baton training, where the trainees had to fight a simulated combatant. And to top it off, there was taser training and oleoresin capsicum spray for any volunteers who were up for the challenge.”

According to Senior Airman Tyler Gutierrez, 374th SFS training instructor, the training allows members to learn how to react to high-stress situations while in a safe, controlled environment.

“I think this type of training is very important,” said Gutierrez. “With us all being in the military, it is imperative that we rely on each other, especially in a deployed environment or during contingency operations.”

The MSG will rotate the training within their squadrons every month. Each time the training will become more detailed, further producing more effective and capable Airmen.

Story by Senior Airman Brieana Bolfing, 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

San Antonio Innovation Summit Open for Registration

Friday, July 23rd, 2021

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) — Registration is now open for the inaugural San Antonio Innovation Summit.

With the theme of “Accelerate Change,” the summit takes place Aug. 3-4 at the Henry B. González Convention Center. The event – a partnership between the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, Air Force Civil Engineer Center, Air Force Security Forces Center, Air Force Services Center, Air Force Personnel Center, Air Education and Training Command, and AFWERX – will bring innovation collaboration opportunities to an expanded installation and mission support audience.

Registration is free and the summit is open to everyone including military, civilians, community members and industry.

“We’re excited to work with our local partners to bring leading government and industry innovation experts together in San Antonio,” said Marc Vandeveer, AFIMSC chief innovation officer. “The more we educate and train our innovative Airmen how to connect to the innovation ecosystem and bring their ideas to life, the more we empower them to succeed.”

The summit will include speakers and breakout sessions highlighting successes, failures, lessons learned and paths taken to successfully implement innovative projects across the Department of the Air Force and Department of Defense. Functional experts in civil engineering, services, security forces, personnel and contracting will share their vision about the future of innovation and help innovators pave a path toward sustainment.

Guest speakers include experts from Air Force Ventures, AFWERX, Platform One, Tech Port San Antonio, National Security Innovation Network, Defense Innovation Unit, Air Force Gaming, and Business and Enterprise Systems Product Innovation office.

Innovation panels will include presentations, and question and answer sessions, on the topics ranging from artificial intelligence, machine learning, small unmanned aerial systems, augmented and extended reality, to autonomous mowers, robotic process automation and next-generation gaming.

“In order to maintain our competitive advantage across the air and space domain, we need every Airman and Guardian to make change a priority. The San Antonio Innovation Summit will give them the tools they need to innovate and, more importantly, implement that innovation at the speed of relevance,” Vandeveer said.

The summit will also feature a vendor exposition highlighting successful projects currently in progress with many Air Force and DoD partners including Microsoft, UiPath, Booz-Allen-Hamilton, Mobilize, Aerial Applications, Athenium, 3rd Insight, Clarity, Oddball and Renu Robotics.

Registrants will receive the full agenda. Event organizers are also planning a virtual stream for those unable to attend in person. More details will be provided as they become available.

To register, visit here.

By Shannon Carabajal, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Public Affairs

AeroVironment Receives Puma 3 AE and Raven Unmanned Aircraft System Orders Totaling $15.9 Million from United States Air Force

Thursday, July 22nd, 2021

• United States Air Force to equip its Security Forces with Puma 3 AE systems; support existing fleet of Raven systems with spares packages

• AeroVironment’s family of tactical UAS allows customers to use the same ground control station and software for multiple UAS for added simplicity and efficiency

The Puma 3 AE and Raven systems empower operators with on-demand tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance that they can rely on for situational awareness and mission success. (Photo: AeroVironment, Inc.)

ARLINGTON, Va., July 22, 2021 – AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in intelligent, multi-domain robotic systems, today announced receipt of two firm-fixed-price orders totaling $15,940,378 from the United States Air Force. The orders, received on April 19, 2021 and May 6, 2021, encompass the procurement of Puma™ 3 AE unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and spares packages, as well as Raven® UAS spares packages. The Puma 3 AE systems and spares were delivered on April 30, 2021. Delivery of the Raven spares is anticipated by November 2021.

“The combat-proven Puma 3 AE and Raven are versatile, rugged and reliable tactical unmanned aircraft systems designed to provide the United States Air Force Security Forces with the enhanced situational awareness and mission effectiveness they require when safeguarding bases,” said Trace Stevenson, AeroVironment vice president and product line general manager for small UAS.

The AeroVironment Puma 3 AE UAS is designed for land and maritime operations. Capable of landing in water or on land, the all-environment Puma 3 AE and Mantis i45 EO/IR sensor suite empower operators with extended flight time and a level of imaging capability never before available in the tactical UAS class. The hand-launched Puma 3 AE has a wingspan of 9.2 feet, weighs 15 pounds and can operate for up to 2.5 hours. The aircraft also has a range of 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) with a standard antenna, and up to 37.2 miles (60 kilometers) with AeroVironment’s Long-Range Tracking Antenna (LRTA). It also features reduced system packaging with a flyable configuration and GCS in one case.

AeroVironment’s Raven system is designed for rapid deployment and high mobility for operations requiring low-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. With a wingspan of 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) and weighing just 4.2 pounds (1.9 kilograms), the hand-launched Raven provides situational awareness, day or night, with an operational range of 6.2 miles (10 kilometers). The Raven’s Mantis i23 EO/IR gimbaled payload delivers real-time video or infrared imagery to ground control and remote viewing stations.

Both Raven and Puma 3 AE UAS can be operated using Crysalis™, AeroVironment’s next-generation ground control solution for command and control, which improves battlefield communication and collaboration by enabling users to easily share real-time information and coordinate mission-critical decisions.

AeroVironment has delivered tens of thousands of new and replacement unmanned air vehicles to customers within the United States and to more than 50 allied governments. For more information, visit www.avinc.com/uas.

When You’re Finally Featured By Public Affairs, But Don’t Want To Show Mom

Wednesday, July 14th, 2021

Ok guys, this is where you can have some good clean fun at the expense of the Air Force.

Preparation in the Face of the Unexpected – How USAF SERE Educates Military Members

Wednesday, July 14th, 2021

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan —

In efforts to prepare and protect the Air Force’s most valuable resource of all — Airmen — survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists undergo extensive training to make certain aircrew members are up to date with the latest on survival and evasion tactics. The tactics taught give Airmen skills to aid in their survival in worst-case scenarios.

The SERE specialists have to be experts in their profession in order to teach tactics and procedures effectively. To accomplish this they must complete rigorous training at technical school and pass the certification phase that follows.

The process for becoming a SERE specialist begins with a three-week-selection course, followed by a six-month technical school, which includes a three-week survival crash course that pilots and aircrew take to become operational, explained Tech. Sgt. Casey Carter, 18th Operations Support Squadron NCO in charge of SERE training. Once they successfully complete their technical school, they then go through a 6-12 month certification phase.

“When you’re certifying for those 6-12 months, you’re actually teaching aircrew and pilots that are coming through the schoolhouse and you have a trainer that’s evaluating you as an instructor,” Carter said. “Once certified, you’re on your own, and you get your own class of aircrew and pilots to take into the woods and instruct.”

Both Tech. Sgt. Kenji Scouton, 18th OSS NCO in charge of SERE operations, and Carter now lead the refresher courses on Kadena, recertifying pilots and aircrew members on the fundamentals of survival.

“It’s been interesting, I’ve seen some students I taught at the schoolhouse at Fairchild come through and get stationed out here,” Scouton said. “So I’ve had some guys be my students multiple times, whether it be in the initial course or the refresher courses.”

The refresher courses taught by SERE specialists include many classes such as combat survival training, conduct after capture training, water survival training and emergency parachute training. The training sessions typically begin with a few hours of lecture, followed by real-life application of the newly obtained knowledge.

The real-life applications vary for each lesson so preparation and execution can take hours. One of the more involved exercises, combat survival training, starts at sunset and goes until students are rescued, which can sometimes be as late as midnight.

“We put students through an invasion and navigation scenario that culminates in their successful recovery at the end of it,” Scouton said. “With a two-man shop, we have to play many parts. We go from teaching the class to kicking off the survival scenario, then from trying to catch them to trying to recover them. We try to provide them with what could look like real-world information so if the real event does happen, so they would at least be familiar with the steps it would take to be successfully recovered.”

Many factors make Kadena’s SERE team’s courses unique. Not only do they have to take into account the island life environment, but they also have to contend with the variety of aircraft and missions based out of here. This means the local SERE specialists have to be well versed in the specific gear that accompanies each aircraft.

“With each one of the refresher training courses, we have to tailor training to particular aircraft and the equipment they have,” Scouton said. “Being that we have fighter ejection seat aircraft, heavy aircraft and rotary-wing aircraft, we have to carry a multitude of different equipment to make sure we are meeting the needs of each person.”

During deployments, the main mission for SERE is personnel recovery. This entails working with PR assets directly, getting in contact with isolated personnel, guiding them to recovery and finally reintegrating the recovered personnel into their regular day-to-day life.

“Reintegration takes place in three phases. Everyone goes through phase one. If they are psychologically and medically cleared, then they are fit to fight again.” Carter said. “Phase two and three go deeper, and require more rehabilitation and frequent visits with medical and psychological professionals.”

Although their schedules are usually packed with training and refresher courses, the SERE specialists find enjoyment with their roles on island.

“Some may perceive it as a difficulty, but since we have so many different types of aircraft and missions on Kadena, it gives us a good opportunity to actually teach all the available refresher trainings,” Scouton said. “It’s really provided us with a lot of opportunities that you wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere.”

By A1C Cesar J. Navarro, 18th Wing Public Affairs

Air Force Special Warfare Training Wing’s Human Performance Squadron Reaches Milestone

Tuesday, July 13th, 2021

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-CHAPMAN TRAINING ANNEX, Texas—The Special Warfare Human Performance Squadron, SWHPS, recently marked its second anniversary.

The SWHPS is the first squadron of its kind in the Department of Defense, and its sole purpose is to provide Special Warfare Airmen and cadre embedded/holistic Human Performance, HP support.

“We reached our two-year milestone as a squadron and I cannot tell you how immensely proud I am of the team,” said Lt. Col. Shawnee A. Williams, SWHPS, commander. “With all of the hard work done to stand up the SWHPS, I am excited to see this capability propel forward every day!”

The SWHPS mission statement is to optimize the performance, durability, and sustainability of the Special Warfare human weapon system by taking an interdisciplinary approach toward the advancement of science and technology throughout the SW operator’s lifespan.

The organizational structure is made up of five geographically separated units, GSU, across the United States coast-to-coast. Within this construct are nine human performance flights supporting 80 Special Warfare cadre, 500 support staff, and 1,100 Special Warfare students annually.

“Our team sets the foundation for building physically superior, mentally sharper, and spiritually stronger warriors who will go into harm’s way to tackle our nation’s most dangerous and difficult tasks,” said Col. George Buse, Special Warfare Human Performance Support Group, commander. “To this end, SWHPS focuses on being brilliant at instilling HP principles in SW Airmen. We also leverage technological advances, research capabilities, and a holistic approach for the sake of further integrating and professionalizing the SW training enterprise,” said Buse. 

Some key accomplishments of the SWHPS include standing up the first SW Human Performance purpose-built facility and hence named the Airman 1st Class Baker Combat Conditioning Center at the Panama City Dive School, Panama City, Florida. This facility occupies 13K square feet, $1.3 million in performance equipment, and serves a joint population of cadre and students with over 700K annual course hours.

At GSU location Yuma, Arizona, the first-ever embedded physical therapist for Army and Air Force personnel position has been established to increase access to care for evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, and injury prevention services for trainees and support staff members at Military Free Fall Courses.

Educationally, SWHPS has established a location at the U.S. Air Force Academy and took on their USAF Physical Therapy Fellowship Program for the Air Force Medical Service, and propelled it forward (was not under the old Battle Field Airmen Model). The Fellowship program has since graduated eight fellows with three more due to graduate in 2021 and has secured national accreditation.

Additionally, SWHPS has established a human performance footprint, across the training pipeline that employs integrated wearable technology, along with HP technician support. This footprint enables SWHPS to track parasympathetic/sympathetic system output, sleep, musculoskeletal health, velocity-based training, and water-based event metrics to include heart rate and physiological data points.

“Another first of its kind is the HP portfolio integration with the Learning Management System/database. The integration will soon provide continuity between training and operational units,” Williams said. “This allows for a human performance portfolio to travel with each member throughout their Special Warfare career.”

The Squadron’s Nutrition SMEs created the first stand-alone performance dining facility and now oversee all menus in support of the Special Warfare Preparatory Program. “It provides a much-needed ‘learning lab for trainees when they first enter Special Warfare,” said Maj. Miriam Seville, the lead dietitian for the Special Warfare Training Wing. “The trainees get to practice the sports nutrition principles that they learn in class and experiment with a wide variety of healthful foods and beverages that fuel and sustain optimal performance.

“This dining facility introduces trainees to what fueling the Human Weapon System can and should look like, and enables them to build habits here that will support them throughout their training and into operational status,” she said.

In November of 2020, the SWHPS graduated the first Air Force Institute of Technology Performance Nutrition Fellow, who now brings world-class nutrition capability, guidance, and knowledge to Special Warfare programming.

Williams added a final thought on the accomplishments of the program, “Over the past two years, SWHPS has set the foundation for an integrated approach to building and maintaining a human weapon system. We have taken a purposeful and tailored approach to embedded HP and coupled it with real-time physiological feedback to the trainees and are also expanding care to the cadre,” she said.

“The future of this organization will be to shape not only Air Force, but DOD policy to enable a lifecycle platform for the SW operator. The SW Airmen will not just experience high-level/holistic HP support in the training pipeline, but rather, they will see it woven into their career field education and training plans, and expanded services offered in their operational units,” she said. “This then lends itself to the creation or standup of a human weapon system program office just like we have for our hardware.

“We are truly on the cusp of a cohesive training environment where physiological, cognitive, and resiliency elements are assessed weekly, if not daily, to propel the individual to their highest potential versus a binary reactive environment,” Williams concluded.

Members of the Special Warfare Training Wing provide initial training for all U.S. Air Force Special Warfare training AFSCs, to include, Combat Controllers, Pararescue, Special Reconnaissance, and Tactical Air Control Party Airmen.

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

By Andrew C. Patterson, Special Warfare Training Wing/ Public Affairs

Air Force Security Forces Center Assessment Tool Improves Health, Readiness of Military Working Dogs

Saturday, July 10th, 2021

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

Recent renovations to kennel facilities at the 1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron are enhancing the living conditions and wellbeing of military working dogs at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

The upgrades are a result of Kennel Health Assessment 2.0, Air Force Security Forces Center’s web-based evaluation system that tracks and evaluates the condition of military working dog kennel facilities across the Air Force. AFSFC, a primary subordinate unit of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, launched the program in July 2020 with the goal of improving the health and welfare of military working dogs by modernizing existing facilities that house MWDs throughout their military enlistment.

“KHA 2.0 software analyzes four major areas: administrative offices, kennel facilities, support areas and veterinary support,” said Tech. Sgt. Otho Nugent, Air Force MWD program manager and special projects lead at AFSFC.

Taking into account more than 40 other criteria, “… the results are used to categorize, prioritize and advocate for facility renovations and enhancements to the more than $116 million in Air Force military working dog assets,” Nugent said.

The data is shared with senior leaders and key decision makers who then make informed decisions on funding initiatives and projects related to MWD health and readiness.

The $650,000 renovation at Hurlburt Field, which included an overhang and the installation of canine turf, had an immediate positive impact on readiness.

“These alone led to much needed improvements that provide a safer environment for the working dogs and directly enhance our training program,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Mascolo, MWD trainer and interim kennel master at the 1st SOSFS. “The overhang shelters the working dogs from the Florida heat, and the K9Grass that was installed on the training yard helps protect them from danger.

“The training course was bare dirt before the turf was installed,” Mascolo said. “The area attracted animals and insects that would find their way to the kennels. That posed a threat to the health and welfare of our working dogs.

“Max, one of the MWDs, was bitten by a brown recluse in June of 2019,” he said. “I found him but by that time his leg was swollen. We took him to the veterinary clinic at Fort Benning (Georgia), but the vet gave him little chance of surviving. Thankfully, Max recovered after a few months and was able to continue working as a vital member of the 1st Special Operations Security Forces unit.”

“Hurlburt Field is one example of how KHA 2.0 is at the heart of readiness,” Nugent said. “We see military working dogs as sensitive, low density-high demand, valuable assets that require training, love and attention to operate at optimum levels. Their ability to perform what they have been tasked and trained to do is at the heart of readiness. It’s our job to deliver what’s needed for our canines and skilled handlers to perform at this extraordinary level.”

Story by Joe Bela, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Public Affairs

Photos by A1C Amanda A. Flower-Raschella

319th Reconnaissance Wing to Field E-11 Mission at Robins AFB

Friday, July 9th, 2021

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (AFNS) —

The Air Force announced plans recently that the 319th Reconnaissance Wing at Grand Forks Air Force Base will now provide command and control support for the Air Force’s E-11 Battlefield Airborne Control Node aircraft mission.

Under the proposed plan, which is contingent on Congressional approval of the retirement of four E-8 JSTARS at Robins AFB, Georgia, an E-11 squadron at Robins AFB would be a geographically separated unit reporting to the 319th RW.

“We’re excited to bring the E-11 BACN mission into the 319th (RW)’s portfolio of world-class Airmen and assets,” said Col. Timothy Curry, 319th RW commander. “The E-11 brings strategic capability and advantages for the joint force which is the mission of the 319th RW.”

As part of its fiscal year 2020 budget request, the Air Force requested to begin retiring four E-8 aircraft next year, which would make way for the new E-11 BACN mission at Robins AFB.

E-11 BACN aircraft and a squadron of active-duty personnel will enable communications support to the joint force on the modern battlefield.

Pending the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act with provisions for JSTARS retirement, the E-11 mission is expected to stand up next year.

The Air Force already possesses three E-11s, and will continue to take delivery until the full fleet inventory is achieved.

Nine E-11 BACN aircraft and a squadron of approximately 290 active-duty personnel will execute a mission with a very high-ops tempo, enabling communications support to the joint force on the modern battlefield.

“As the Air Force looks to the future, we expect to be challenged around the world by China and Russia,” said Acting Secretary of the Air Force John P. Roth. “Those threats require new solutions, which means divesting legacy platforms like the JSTARS. However, our intent is to capitalize on the existing expertise at Team Robins as we bring on these new missions. These missions will play a vital role in how we achieve decision superiority across all domains.”

By 319th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs