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Archive for the ‘Forces Focus’ Category

10th SFG(A) Group Foundations Course

Saturday, August 21st, 2021

The Group Foundations Course is a two-week course designed for Green Berets new to 10th SFG(A). During this two-week process, the new Special Forces Operators learn about the history of the group and cover the fundamentals of being an Original – which includes combatives, pistol and rifle marksmanship, physical fitness and in-depth military vehicle familiarization.

AFSOC Stands Up New Mission Sustainment Team at Cannon AFB

Saturday, August 7th, 2021

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. —

A new unit has been generated on base in support of mission readiness and efficiency. Mission Sustainment Team 1 is a group of individuals with diverse skill sets selected from the 27th Special Operations Mission Support Group, with the intent that they will cover and provide every asset required to sustain livable conditions in austere locations for an extended period of time.

The Mission Sustainment Team concept provides a way forward in building small, scattered teams capable of operating independent of main operating bases – a focus area highlighted by Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, Air Force Special Operations Command commander, during his 2021 Special Operations Forces Imperatives Forum earlier this year.

“This idea is not new or unique to the Air Force as a whole, but it is to the Air Force Special Operations Command,” said Senior Master Sgt. John Spencer, 27 SOMSG, Detachment 1 MST 1 team lead. “AFSOC is used to providing for the operators for a short duration, but something like this has never been done before in this Major Command.”

AFSOC currently does not have an on-demand capability to provide and sustain a livable environment in areas without pre-established facilities. To fix this issue, the MST consists of Airmen from different MSG specialties, and trains them all on necessary expeditionary functions.

“We are taking roughly 60 people from different shops in the MSG and making them work together to create livable conditions for a base worth of personnel,” Spencer said. “We have to try these things, see where they fail, then learn from our failures and do it better the next time.”

There are many unknowns surrounding the MST, as with any new unit. The team hopes to benefit from these unknowns however, documenting their experiences and applying the lessons learned to ultimately teach and train those who follow in the future.

The team had the opportunity to test themselves recently in an Operational Readiness Exercise. Select individuals from Cannon AFB were involved in a mock deployment to an austere location and required support from MST 1. This entirely new scenario helped participants as it was an ideal testing ground for the capabilities of sustained support for multiple personnel.

Within a limited resourcing environment, MST 1 gives AFSOC the ability to enable the larger joint force with unique capabilities; things that no one else can do.

The opportunities to blaze new trails are plentiful for MST 1. As the first of its kind in AFSOC, there is no manual or guidebook to follow. Instead, the team will take the knowledge and practices of similar groups in other MAJCOM’s and tailor them to their needs.

During the 2021 SOF Imperatives Forum, Slife spoke on the necessity for the development and continuous acceleration of SOF and AFSOC forces, including those a part of MST 1.

“The standards of yesterday were applicable to yesterday,” Slife said. “The question is, what are the standards of tomorrow and how do we build the force we need, to be most effective in the future? Our competitive advantage will continue to be the men and women who make up our formation, but the challenge for leadership is ensuring… those men and women in AFSOC know that they are relevant to the nation.”

Not many in support roles have the opportunity to see how their work directly affects the mission downrange. The work of this new unit provides Airmen a tangible link between their efforts and the final product, something that boosts morale while transforming them into a team of lethal, multi-faceted Airmen.

“It brings me real joy to see how folks who, before joining this group, had never worked with a services Airman, and then see them training on a field kitchen three days later,” Spencer said. “This is what I like to do. I like building teams, being out in the field, and doing what the Air Force trained me to do in defending airfields. Seeing all this [come together] from my personal perspective is unique and amazing. It also helps the Air Force as a whole as it takes someone from their regular unit for a while, and then returns them 100% better than when they left because they got to learn all the things they would normally never do.”

MST 1 may be new, but they have their work cut out for them. Providing support for active personnel at austere and un-furnished locations is no easy feat, but it means the work done by MST 1 will be vital in helping similar units in AFSOC for years to come.

Story by Senior Airman Christopher Storer, 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Photos by Senior Airman Vernon R. Walter III

Undaunted Service: Elite Firefighters Serve in Austere Environments

Sunday, August 1st, 2021

ALI AL SALEM AIR BASE, Kuwait (AFNS) —

A quick reaction force is an elite unit comprised of Airmen from multiple squadrons trained in combat and evasion. These Airmen are not only highly-skilled professionals, but they undergo special training to perform their duties in austere and potentially hostile environments.

Recently, the QRF firefighter component from the 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, was sent to a forward operating base in Syria to provide support to its flight line.

“This team is made up of highly-qualified firefighting professionals trained for bare environments,” said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Rigsby, 386th ECES deputy fire chief. “We’re a rare group. Also, it’s just not very common for firefighters to get sent on a forward deployment. I’ve been in 16 years and this was my first time.”

The QRF firefighters’ purpose in Syria was to provide flight-line support per Air Mobility Command instructions. This allowed for a limitless number of aircraft to take off and land, and people and equipment to be removed for rotation. Their mission was to provide support so that the Army’s M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle unit could be extracted and replaced.

“We flew in with three fire trucks and our firefighting equipment. The Army was due to change out their people and equipment, and our presence allowed more aircraft to land in a shorter time span,” Rigsby said. “That enabled the Army to keep their same level of base and area protection and perform change-out 16 days quicker.”

While the QRF firefighters are tactically trained to operate under hostile and combative conditions, their essential duties are the same as non-QRF firefighters. They are vital to safe and expedient flight-line standards.

“Our primary job on a flight line is to provide it with crash-fire support so that they can maintain air operations over the area of responsibility, and also to provide hazmat and medical support as well,” said Senior Airman Travis Ferrell, 386th ECES firefighter. “So if anything goes down on the flight line, we respond. Whether it’s an in-flight or ground emergency, we will respond to mitigate any possible crisis that could happen. We like to say we’re the insurance policy for anything that happens on the flight line.”

Without the firefighter component of QRF, the flight line would only be able to support a limited number of aircraft taking off and landing per week, but with the QRF, the number of flights were unlimited. They supported 15 aircraft at two per day during their 30-day mission.

QRF members went through pre-deployment combat skills training at McGregor Range, New Mexico, and Evasion, Conduct After Capture training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. This type of training is for Airmen who will be operating outside the wire in high-risk environments.

“As QRF, we go to pre-deployment training so that we can deploy to places that don’t have established support, like FOBs,” Ferrell said. “Here, at Ali Al Salem (AB), we have great support and infrastructure, but we didn’t find that in Syria. We had nothing there.

We had to find our own water sources. We had to basically write our own standard operating procedures while we were out there on the fly. For instance, this is where we’re going to stage and this is how we’re going to respond,” Ferrell continued. “We get there. We make all these decisions. We face all these challenges, and then we complete the mission as quickly as we can, pack up and move on to somewhere else keeping the mission alive wherever we go.”

By SSgt Ryan Brooks, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

State of the 75th Ranger Regiment

Monday, July 26th, 2021

“There must be within our U.S. Army a sense of purpose, and a dedication to that purpose. There must be a willingness to march a little further, to carry a heavier load, to step into the dark and unknown for the safety and well-being of others.”

General Creighton Abrams, 26th Chief of Staff, United States Army.

Rangers Lead the Way!

(Video produced by SPC Jonathan Bryson/Multimedia Illustrator/75th Ranger Regiment Public Affairs.)

822d Base Defense Squadron Supports Agile Flag 21-2

Friday, May 14th, 2021

NAVAL OUTLYING LANDING FIELD CHOCTAW, Fla. — The 822d Base Defense Squadron provided security and opposing forces for the 4th Fighter Wing, North Carolina, during Agile Flag 21-2, May 3-5, 2021.

Air Combat Command’s Agile Flag 21-2 tested the 4th FW’s ability to deploy as a lead air expeditionary wing from its main operating base at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, while supporting three forward operating bases, which included Naval Outlying Landing Field Choctaw, Florida.

“The (exercise) allowed several ACC units to come together and complete a realistic mission set,” said Tech. Sgt. Steven Ethridge, 822d BDS section chief. “The Air Battle Staff was made up of several functions to include civil engineering, security forces and communications. This allowed the members to understand how actual deployments could require working with other units to accomplish the mission. The 822d (BDS’) role in Agile Flag was to provide the 4th FW with a scalable security element at the FOB in order to facilitate integrated combat turns from multi-capable Airmen.”

Integrated combat turns are rapid refueling and rearming procedures that allow pilots to get back to the fight as soon as possible. Without a secure base to conduct ICTs, pilots would be unable to project airpower at faster rates.

“(Base defense Airmen) are highly trained and provide a light, lean and lethal force anywhere in the world,” Ethridge said. “We also bring capabilities such as Airborne and Air Assault, in addition to built-in support functions such as (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), medical, transportation maintenance and communications.”

The 822d BDS joined Agile Flag to augment the 4th FW’s security mission.

In addition to security, the base defense Airmen acted as opposing forces to simulate a near-peer adversary at the FOB. These forces are crucial because they inject realism into the training, allowing Airmen to sharpen their tactics, techniques and procedures for agile combat employment.

“These TTPs will allow current and future lead wings to project air power anywhere, anytime,” Ethridge said. “A team becomes a stronger and more lethal force when they help each other complete the common mission.”

ACC will conduct future exercises focusing on the ACE construct, and for the Airmen involved, the opportunity is invaluable.

“Any time we have an opportunity to address and experiment with force presentation and agile combat employment concepts … it’s a victory for our Air Force,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Frasch, ACC operations dynamic force employment chief. “We take what we learned and build on those (lessons) for the next iteration. The more we do this, the faster progress will come.”

Story by A1C Jasmine Barnes, 23d Wing Public Affairs

Hurlburt Squadron Provides C2 Advisors to Operational-Level Commanders

Monday, May 3rd, 2021

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla-With global competition heating up, the need to maximize the agility of U.S. Air Force operational command and control has never been more pressing. Fortunately, the USAF’s Operational Command Training Program is a foundational piece of its current C2 training architecture.

The OCTP team is a powerful tool designed to support every Air Component Command around the globe, yet too many operational level leaders are unfamiliar with the program and its value in optimizing mission success.

The OCTP team is made up of graduated C2 leaders who provide operational-level commanders with subject matter expertise, confidential peer-level advice, mentoring, training, and performance feedback. They’re not evaluators and the fact they’re not evaluators makes them a no-risk, candid resource for operational leaders.

“This team is plugged into AOCs and headquarter staffs around the world. They see what works, what doesn’t work, and they share those great ideas and lessons learned everywhere they go,” said Lt. Col. Kari Mott, 705th Training Squadron director of operations, Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Charter

Chartered in 2000 by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, OCTP is the USAF’s senior operational-level C2 training program, operating under the 505th Command and Control Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida, and consists of highly qualified expert-senior mentors and operational C2 observer trainers.

The majority of the senior mentors are retired general officers with experience as commanders of Air Force Forces, Joint Force Air Component Commanders, and Numbered Air Force Commanders. They support joint training exercises, USAF BLUE FLAG exercises, U.S. Army Warfighter exercises, as well as, advanced academics courses such as the JFACC course and senior-level Air Operations Center and staff courses.

The operational C2 observer trainers bring a wealth of experience in operations and planning from the O-6 perspective, as former AOC directors, AOC division chiefs, and/or AFFOR staff principals.

The number of observer trainers has varied over the years, but grew exponentially in 2018 as the USAF recognized a significant shortfall in C2 competency and expertise.  As a result, Air Combat Command tripled the size of the cadre, allowing the senior advisor team to support the full spectrum of air component leadership requirements, to include supporting multiple overlapping events and other C2 development initiatives.

The current cadre of observer trainers include a mix of government civilians and contractors with extensive active duty and reserve experience in flying operations, logistics, intelligence, and non-kinetic operations, among other specialties. Their main focus is working with AOC and air component division leaders, but they also work at the team level and with directors of Mobility Forces, directors of Cyber Forces, and directors of Space Forces.

“Despite a small pool of candidates with the necessary experience and skillsets, we assembled an exceptional team of professionals,” said Mott.

But their expertise goes well beyond just working in the air components.

“The depth of our observer trainers is truly amazing,” said Robin Kimmelman, OCTP flight lead, 705th TRS. “Our team includes former operational commanders, weapons school, and School of Advanced Air and Space Studies graduates. They’ve worked as DIRMOBFORs, in Checkmate, on joint staffs, and at the Air Staff, and they all possess the been-there-done-that leadership experience in AOCs, headquarters staffs, and on joint task forces. In other words, in terms of operational command and control, if you name it, someone on our team has probably done it.”

The 705th TRS is responsible for administering the OCTP program, fully mixing the team into its overarching operational C2 training mission. 

“Observer trainers provide knowledge and best practices honed across all AORs to help commanders and staffs improve their processes to meet emerging problem sets,” said Lt. Col. John Christianson, 705th TRS commander, Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Operational Exercises

On the road during exercises, senior mentors and observer trainers work closely together to support their training audience. Through daily meetings and other interactions, these subject matter experts are able to influence decisions across the air component to ensure the exercise participants are getting the most out of the exercise. If the participants are heading in the wrong direction, the team is there to help guide them back on course using their practical experience to drive learning, while passing personal lessons to help today’s leaders avoid past mistakes.

“What I enjoy most about my job is interacting one-on-one with a division chief during a short pause in the action to share a how I worked a situation similar to the scenario he faces…what worked and what blew up…it is always great to see that little nudge turn into a golden nugget that is forever learned by the training audience,” said William Murphey, operational C2 senior advisor for air mobility, 705th TRS.

The OCTP teams typically support exercises that include heavy AOC and AFFOR involvement, such as BLUE FLAG, Pacific Sentry, Austere Challenge, and Vigilant Shield, along with high-level training events in the Republic of Korea.

What’s Ahead

The OCTP team delivers much more than just exercise support. Throughout the pandemic, the OCTP team remains engaged through a myriad of other support activities, providing continued value to air components around the globe. 

Some of these efforts included development and publication of handbooks for AOC commanders, battle staff directors, and division chiefs, with more forthcoming in 2021. The team also created dozens of pre-exercise academic lessons and presented multiple advanced academic lessons for operational C2 leaders, both virtually and in the classroom at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

“While we plan to expand these C2 initiatives, we hope that 2021 also allows us to go back out on the road and continue our work face-to-face with air component teams in the field,” said Christianson.

In the meantime, business continues to grow for the senior advisor team, as their expertise is specifically demanded in support of Joint All-Domain C2 events, Chennault, Doolittle, and Schriever Wargames, and agile combat employment development and exercises. This direct, high-level, interaction continues to ensure each senior advisor remains current and relevant in terms of on-going C2 challenges and emerging concept development. Pulling from their collaboration within these venues, observer trainers share the latest information and benchmark details with peer operational C2 leaders in the field.

OCTP Tri-fold

For more information about the OCTP observer trainers, contact the team at: [email protected]

Debbie Henley, 505th Command and Control Wing (ACC) Public Affairs

COMACC visits Hurlburt’s 505th Command and Control Wing

Sunday, April 11th, 2021

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. — Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, visited the 505th Command and Control Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida, April 6. The 505th CCW is the U.S Air Force’s only wing dedicated to the Air Force’s core mission of command and control.

During his visit, Kelly toured the 505th CCW along with Chief Master Sgt. David Wade, command chief of ACC, to familiarize themselves with the wing’s C2 mission and the enlisted, officers, and civilians who execute its complex mission.

Gen. Kelly received an immersion brief, given by U.S. Air Force Col. Richard Dickens, commander of 505th CCW, leadership team, and honorary commanders.

Mr. Paul Lux, honorary commander of 505th CCW, and Ms. Cindy Frakes, honorary commander of 505th Test & Training Group shared how the ties they built during the wing’s last tour as part of 70 members from five Military Affairs Committees in the local area, prior to COVID-19, increased the proactive community voice for the 505th CCW and its mission.

U.S. Air Force Col. Francisco Gallei, commander of 505th TTG, discussed the group’s mission of premier testing, evaluation, training, and tactics development across C2, sensors, and battle management weapon systems.

Wade and Kelly learned that the 705th Training Squadron is the focal point for advanced Air Operations Center and Air Force Forces education and C2 process improvement. The squadron is launching the first Multi-domain Warfare Officer Instructor Upgrade Training course, which will begin in the next few months.

The leaders learned more about the unique C2 mission contributions of the wing’s units at Hurlburt Field, Florida, and the rest of its 13 geographically-separated units.

The 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, monitors, evaluates, optimizes, and integrates fixed and mobile long-range radars for both the operational and federal communities. The 84th RADES also sets the standard for sensor coverage prediction and depiction, providing data analysis and unique radar forensics to support search and rescue missions and aircraft mishap investigations.

The 505th Combat Training Group, headquartered at Nellis AFB, Nevada, expertly and professionally conducts operational assessments/experimentation, develops advanced tactics, and trains warfighters for multi-domain integration, said Dickens.

Dickens continued, the 505th CCW, Detachment 1, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, provides airpower expertise and exercise support to the U.S. Army Mission Command Training Program and liaisons to the Combined Arms Center.

After the briefing, Kelly toured the battlespace as personnel from the 505th Combat Training Squadron, 505th Communications Squadron, U.S. Army Joint Support Team, and 505th CCW, Det 1 were supporting U.S. Army Warfighter Exercise 21-4, a multi-national exercise.

COMACC learned how the 605th Test & Evaluation Squadron conducts operational test & evaluation of C2, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems, including Airborne Warning and Control System, Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, AOC, tactical air control party, Control and Reporting Centers, Air Defense Sectors, National Capital Region – Integrated Air Defense System, Distributed Common Ground Station, nuclear command, control, and communications, Common Mission Control Center, and other systems for the joint warfighter.

At the next stop, Wade and Kelly learned about the Advanced Programs’ building modernization efforts to enable the wing’s expanding missions. Despite these modernization efforts, they were briefed the current facility has been operating beyond capacity, which is why a consolidated Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility/Special Access Program Facility is the wing’s number one priority in the Area Development Plan.

Throughout the tour, Kelly seized several opportunities to recognize several of the 505th CCW’s best and brightest innovators for their exceptional performance.

• Senior Airman David Alvarado, 505th CTS
• Senior Airman Conner Kincaid, 505th CS
• Mr. Timothy Rincon, 605th TES
• Ms. Rhonda Berry, 505th CCW
• Capt. Stephen Perkins, 705th TRS
• Technical Sgt. Shanda Boyle, 505th Training Squadron

The tour’s final stop was the 505th TRS, the gateway for initial qualification training for all geographic and global Air Operations Centers. The squadron demonstrated how they train an operations team to oversee and ensure the general’s intent/directive is carried out from decision to action. While in the combat operations center, the leaders witnessed the team concept as each member carried out his/her responsibilities as dictated by the chief of combat operations during a training scenario that included a mock missile attack on Luke AFB, Arizona.

“It was great to host COMACC and Chief Wade,” said Col. Richard Dickens, commander of 505th CCW.  “We have a lot of high-performing Airmen that are valued members of our team, so seeing them get an opportunity to brief our senior leaders and demonstrate to them how they’re accelerating change was very rewarding.”

Headquartered at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, ACC is the primary provider of air combat forces to the U.S. warfighting commanders. The command provides command, control, communications, and intelligence systems; operates fighter, reconnaissance, battle-management, and electronic-combat aircraft; and conducts global information operations.

Story by 505th Command and Control Wing (ACC) Public Affairs

Photos by Mr. Keith Keel

5th SFAB, ‘Ghost Brigade,’ Complete First-of-Its Kind-Rotation

Monday, December 28th, 2020

FORT POLK, La. – The 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade completed a first-of-its kind-rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center’s 21-2 Rotation partnering an SFAB with a real-world unit, the Joint Base Lewis-McChord-based 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, “The Ghost Brigade,” in a decisive action validation exercise, Nov. 13-26, 2020.

“JRTC 21-02 was the culmination of 5th SFAB’s mission since its inception in June 2019 to man, equip, and train the Army’s newest combat brigade,” Brigade Operations Officer, Maj. Liam Walsh, said. “The training served as a proof of principle as the first SFAB Decisive Action CTC rotation.”

The Ghost Brigade closely integrated with SFAB Soldiers from the Brigade down to the Platoon level throughout the exercise.

“Our units worked alongside 5th SFAB, replicating the role of a professional, near-peer Allied army, which the SFAB was tasked to support as they would for a real-world partner force in the Indo-Pacific Command Area of Responsibility,” 1-2 SBCT Commander Col. Jared Bordwell said. “From the brigade to the individual levels, this rotation was all about supporting one another to make our team unbeatable.”

The SFAB is completely comprised of volunteers who were carefully vetted for service in the organization.

“This rotation has demonstrated that specially trained SFAB Soldiers, selected for their tactical expertise and professionalism, organized into small cohesive teams, and equipped with advanced communications systems can provide a decisive advantage to a threatened but capable foreign partner,” 5th SFAB Commanding General Brig. Gen. Curtis Taylor said.

Altogether, seven units participated in the rotation including the 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, 404th Army Field Support Brigade, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 2-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, and the U.S. Marine Corps’ 6th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company.

Aviation support proved extremely critical during the rotation.

“The 16th CAB’s assets here allowed 5th SFAB to support 1-2 SBCT with a unique aviation capability of Apache and Blackhawk helicopters,” Brigade Aviation Officer, Maj. Ryan Hampton said. “Integrating recon, attack and lift assets for 1-2 SBCT’s scheme of maneuver allowed them to seamlessly expand their lethal reach across the battlefield.”

Hampton’s hard work in this regard earned him the title of, “Hero of the Battlefield” from JRTC Operations Group. Another Soldier recognized was 3rd Squadron Operations Advisor, Staff Sgt. Erica Myers.

“After training out here for two weeks, I really saw how diversity within our teams is a must,” Myers said. No one knows everything needed to successfully train alongside our partners, every Soldier is a crucial piece of the big picture.”

Myers’ also got the opportunity to advise several junior Soldiers from Ghost Brigade on the Raven Small Unmanned Aircraft System.

“They were certified but lacked confidence and understanding of their equipment,” Myers said. “The more time I had with them, the more confidence they gained. By the end of the rotation, I was able to get one of them their first solo flight and night flight.”

Myer’s Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Timothy Ferguson shared a similar sentiment following the exercise.

“Our experience during JRTC 21-02 was a tremendous learning opportunity as it enabled us to visualize our role in the organization,” Ferguson said. “We gained invaluable experience through live repetition with our partnered force while forcing us to adapt and develop strategies across the competition, crisis, and conflict phases.

The 5th SFAB is expected to continue sending Teams into the Indo-Pacific region alongside U.S. partners there.

“As we look across the world today, there are many potential crisis scenarios where this kind of capability is absolutely vital to deterring aggression against US Allies and Partners,” Brig. Gen. Taylor said.

The 5th SFAB officially activated in May 2020 and has since sent Soldiers on missions to Thailand and Indonesia. With JRTC complete, the 5th SFAB has been validated for worldwide deployment in support of U.S. Combatant Commanders’ priorities.

By Maj William Leasure, 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade Public Affairs