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Archive for the ‘Battlefield Airman’ Category

Meanwhile, In Special Tactics News

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

The Office of the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (OSEAC) announced today the following assignment:

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez, currently assigned as the command senior enlisted leader of U.S. Africa Command, Stuttgart, Germany, has been selected to replace Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell as the senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, District of Columbia.

“The Last Full Measure” – Coming This October

Monday, September 2nd, 2019

“The Last Full Measure” is the story of Pararescueman William Pitsenbarger who was the first enlisted member of the Air Force to be awarded the Air Force Cross for actions on April 11, 1966 at Can My, Republic of Vietnam.

‘Pitz’as he was known, had joined the Air Force right out of High School and volunteered for Pararescue during Basic Training. A1C Pitsenbarger had flown over 300 combat rescue missions when he succumbed to wounds during that battle, having remained on the ground with the Army unit he had been dispatched to help rescue.

On December 8th, 2000, his Air Force Cross was upgraded to the Medal of Honor. He was also posthumously promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant.

His Medal of Honor citation reads:

Airman First Class Pitsenbarger distinguished himself by extreme valor on April 11, 1966 near Cam My, Republic of Vietnam, while assigned as a Pararescue Crew Member, Detachment 6, 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron. On that date, Airman Pitsenbarger was aboard a rescue helicopter responding to a call for evacuation of casualties incurred in an on-going firefight between elements of the United States Army’s 1st Infantry Division and a sizable enemy force approximately 35 miles east of Saigon. With complete disregard for personal safety, Airman Pitsenbarger volunteered to ride a hoist more than one hundred feet through the jungle, to the ground. On the ground, he organized and coordinated rescue efforts, cared for the wounded, prepared casualties for evacuation, and insured that the recovery operation continued in a smooth and orderly fashion. Through his personal efforts, the evacuation of the wounded was greatly expedited. As each of the nine casualties evacuated that day were recovered, Pitsenbarger refused evacuation in order to get one more wounded soldier to safety. After several pick-ups, one of the two rescue helicopters involved in the evacuation was struck by heavy enemy ground fire and was forced to leave the scene for an emergency landing. Airman Pitsenbarger stayed behind, on the ground, to perform medical duties. Shortly thereafter, the area came under sniper and mortar fire. During a subsequent attempt to evacuate the site, American forces came under heavy assault by a large Viet Cong force. When the enemy launched the assault, the evacuation was called off and Airman Pitsenbarger took up arms with the besieged infantrymen. He courageously resisted the enemy, braving intense gunfire to gather and distribute vital ammunition to American defenders. As the battle raged on, he repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to care for the wounded, pull them out of the line of fire, and return fire whenever he could, during which time, he was wounded three times. Despite his wounds, he valiantly fought on, simultaneously treating as many wounded as possible. In the vicious fighting which followed, the American forces suffered 80 percent casualties as their perimeter was breached, and airman Pitsenbarger was finally fatally wounded. Airman Pitsenbarger exposed himself to almost certain death by staying on the ground, and perished while saving the lives of wounded infantrymen. His bravery and determination exemplify the highest professional standards and traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Air Force.

Look for “The Last Full Measure” in select theaters on October 25th, 2019.

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

The 13th ASOS Conducts Combat Mission Training

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. —

Ten Airmen from the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron went through a tactical air control party mission qualification training exercise July 15-18, 2019 on Fort Carson, Colorado.

The training is a way to gauge each Airman’s deployment readiness, test how the Airmen can perform as a team and is also one of the final steps of upgrade training for new Airmen. The training is for both newly assigned junior enlisted Airmen and officers.

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The group of Airmen went through multiple scenarios put together by more experienced TACPs and joint terminal attack controllers, to include clearing a building, securing a village, injured personnel rescue and handling a hostage situation.

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.

The exercise started Monday, July 15, and did not end until early Thursday morning, but for the students, preparations started the week prior.

“We tried to model it after real world operations,” said 2nd Lt. Stephen Stein, 13th ASOS TACP officer and chief of training. “So last week, before they started, the students received an operations order, which is something we would receive from the U.S. Army for an up and coming mission. After that, they started planning. So they had to start preparing the equipment, get the vehicles ready and then from there they had a timeline of when they would start the mission.”

During their exercise, the students were critiqued on their skillsets to make sure they would be ready in any contingency operation, ultimately deciding if they are deployable.

“I think this really showed us what we can expect in the future,” said 2nd Lt. Parker Gray, 13th ASOS TACP officer and exercise team lead. “ We were completing objectives and missions with criteria all throughout the week, all with minimal sleep, and I think that really showed us how we may react in the future, when we are in that kind of environment.”

Although the exercise was only for ten Airmen, approximately 30 TACPs and JTACs were involved with organizing the training exercise, participating as instructors, playing the role of an opposing force or helping set things up.

After the exercise, both Gray and Stein said they took away a lot from these events.

Stein, having done his training about 12 years prior as an enlisted TACP, said he was impressed with the effort the squadron put into it, and believed this set the new standard for MQT.

“The amount of hard work that was put into this by the instructors to set it up and make sure the scenarios were realistic and made sense, was phenomenal,” said Stein.

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.

Gray, as the student, said he took away lessons of leadership and how to work with his teammates.

“I think the biggest lesson as a team lead was I started out the week making decisions fast just trying to get everything done, but later on in the week I started involving the team a little bit more in the decision making process,” said Gray. “When we had a question, we took a few more minutes to get the team together, and we came up with better decisions. We really came together as a team, worked together as a team and were able to help each other out.”

By A1C Andrew Bertain, 21st Space Wing Public Affairs

24th SOW Mission Video

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

Comprising the Special Tactics Force, Air Force Special Operations Command’s 24th Special Operations Wing is dedicated to tactical air-to-ground integration force and is the Air Force’s special operations ground force, leading global access, precision strike, personnel recovery and battlefield surgery operations.

563d RQG Airmen Rescue Injured Mexican Fishermen

Saturday, July 20th, 2019

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. —

Airmen from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base’s 563d Rescue Group traveled more than 1700 miles, to save two critically injured Mexican fishermen onboard the Mazatun fishing vessel, July 10, 2019.

 The fishermen were injured when their vessel’s crane collapsed more than 1300 miles southwest of San Diego in international waters at approximately 8 p.m., July 9. Fishing nets obstructed Mazatun’s propellers during the incident making the boat unable to transit under its own power. The two severely injured fishermen were transferred to Mazatun’s sister ship, Tamara, who began making the three day journey to the nearest land, a Mexican naval outpost on Socorro Island located more than approximately 840 miles away.

 Due to the severity of the injuries and the ship’s isolated location, an urgent request was made for the specialized skills of U.S. Air Force Rescue. In response, the 563d RQG deployed multiple HC-130J Combat King II aircraft from the 79th Rescue Squadron to Tamara as it sailed to Socorro Island, July 10. Pararescuemen from the 48th Rescue Squadron parachuted from the HC-130J into the ocean. They intercepted and boarded the Tamara, and provided trauma care for the injured fishermen. They quickly stabilized the patients and offered continued care for the rest of the voyage to Socorro Island.

 “The relationship that was built with the captain of the ship allowed a seamless integration of our PJs medical capabilities to be able to provide the best treatment for the two injured fishermen,” said Capt John Conner, 48th RQS flight commander of flight 3. “It also allowed us the opportunity to work how we were going to transfer the patient on the ship to Socorro Island. That relationship was key.”

 Tamara reached Socorro harbor Friday evening, July 12. The pararescuemen transferred the fishermen to the Mexican naval medical clinic on the island where they would stay overnight. The next day an air ambulance transported them to Mazatlan, Mexico for further treatment.

 “The unsaid skill Air Force Rescue offers is the ability to solve difficult problems in a timely fashion. This mission highlights rescue professionals’ ability to network within the 563d RQG, 355th Wing and a greater Tucson medical community to solve an incredibly difficult problem, and continue solving problems throughout the mission’s execution which can be seen by the infil methods, follow-on aerial resupply, and transfer of care/exfil conditions,” said Captain Michael Erickson, 48th RQS director of operations. “Air Force Rescue’s successful execution of the mission demonstrates one of the ways Davis-Monthan’s culture of readiness and problem solving skills can support the greater joint force and our mission partners.”

 “This is the longest domestic rescue the 563d RQG has accomplished,” said Lt. Col. Scott Williams, 79th RQS commander. “The unique nature and location of the accident required specialized care, and I’m proud of the job our entire team did to ensure these men returned home to their families.”

By A1C Kristine Legate, 355th Wing Public Affairs

New USAF Special Warfare Symbol

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

This is the symbol for the new Air Force Special Warfare careerfield (Enlisted is 1Z and Officer is 19). It’s surrounded by the latest versions of the enlisted beret badges, including the new Special Reconnaissance AFSC, which replaces Special Operations Weather Team*.

The SR AFSC has already transitioned to 1Z with Pararescue and Combat Control to follow suit later this year. Along with a new AFSC, they are said to get new job titles as well. TACP and Air Liaison Officers will remain as is, at least for now. Special Tactics Officers and Combat Rescue Officers are supposed to become Special Warfare Officers.

The three new 1Z shredouts as well as STOs and CROs currently wear different colored berets. The plan is transition all to a completely new shade of Grey; Gunmetal. Once again, TACP/ALO will remain in Black berets. That is supposed to change this Fall concurrent with the amalgamation of active duty Pararescue Squadrons into Air Force Special Operations Command. Along with the current Special Tactics Squadrons they are supposed to transition into Special Warfare Squadrons. However, the beret transition is at the direction of the current AF Chief of Staff, General Goldfien. Many at the unit level feel that their heritage is being stripped away and don’t want to make the change, hoping the next CSAF won’t enact the change once he’s in place late this Summer.

As for this new symbol, don’t expect it to be used officially for anything. Guardian Angel used the globe wings for years as a morale symbol. Even so, do notice anything odd about it?

*Never fear, rumor has it Army SOF will soon once again have actual weather support as required by the Key West agreement thanks to Air Combat Command, which is standing up a Flight of Weather Parachutists, just like the old days. Rumor was bad. ACC has no intention of supporting Army SOF. Any support will come from AFSOC weather, remotely.

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