Lowa Zephyr Mk2 GTX

Archive for the ‘Forces Focus’ Category

USAF Units of Action: Air Task Forces Defined, First locations Announced

Friday, May 24th, 2024

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) —  

The Department of the Air Force identified six locations May 15, to host experimental Air Task Forces that will test new methods to generate more efficient, integrated deployable Units of Action.

As part of a pilot program, the following installations are expected to receive an ATF command echelon this summer, pending the successful completion of the National Environmental Policy Act process. This is a step toward forming the new Air Force combat wings as Units of Action.

• Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona

• Scott AFB, Illinois

• Joint Base San Antonio, Texas

• Dyess AFB, Texas

• Fairchild AFB, Washington

• Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina

“These pathfinding ATFs will work and train together throughout their AFFORGEN cycle to ensure they are at peak effectiveness on Day-1 of any deployment,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin. “That’s a significant change from how we deployed over the last 20 years, but the threat has evolved and so must we. The first ATFs will also be learning organizations and shape our forthcoming Combat Wing design.”

Airmen assigned to the ATF will work and train together throughout the AFFORGEN cycle to deploy as Units of Action in fiscal year 2026.

During his Air and Space Forces Association conference keynote in September 2023, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall emphasized the urgency for the Air Force to adapt and innovate in response to growing global challenges with the announcement of ATFs. Clearly defining the force presentation model and rotational demands through the AFFORGEN cycle ensures the joint force receives Airmen prepared for high-end conflict.

Lt. Gen. Adrian Spain, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for operations, further elaborated during a panel on Air Task Forces and the Future of Force Presentation at the Air and Space Force Association’s 2024 Warfare Symposium Feb. 14.

“In all the ways that matter, this makes us better prepared,” Spain said. “During the Prepare and Certify phases of the AFFORGEN cycle, Airmen will develop into cohesive units, attuned to each other’s strengths and weaknesses. This preparation is key to ensuring that, when deployed, these teams can operate effectively under pressure and achieve their objectives with precision.”

The Expeditionary Air Base model which first deployed in October 2023, served as a critical first step in the transition. The next step is to adopt a more modular organization of teams which generate together through the AFFORGEN cycle and deploy as a unit to maximize combat effectiveness, while minimizing risk to the base mission.

The AFFORGEN cycle is built to enable Airmen to train and exercise together before being operationally employed together as part of a team. While its implementation differs depending on the mission of each major command, the goal is to achieve a common lexicon, more individual predictability, and greater alignment of readiness generating activities such as large-scale exercises across the Air Force.

The introduction of ATFs marks a significant milestone in the journey toward modernization and readiness, laying the groundwork to ensure the Air Force maintains a competitive advantage over the pacing challenge.

“This force generation and force presentation model best articulates our capabilities and capacity to the Joint Force and in turn, improves the readiness of our Airmen,” Spain said.

What Airmen need to know about the Air Task Force

• ATFs will enter the AFFORGEN cycle during the reset phase in summer 2024 and will be prepared to deploy beginning fiscal year 2026

• ATFs will team, train, and deploy together throughout the AFFORGEN cycle

• Over time, the elements of the ATF will be incorporated into operational wings

Elements of an ATF

The ATF consists of a command element with an attached expeditionary A-Staff and Special Staff, Combat Air Base Squadron, and Mission Generation Force Elements with attached Mission Sustainment Teams.

The ATF’s A-staff includes a chief of staff who, along with the A-staff, assists with the commander’s interaction with higher headquarters and fulfills the commander’s responsibility to provide resourcing, policy, oversight, and guidance to the various forces under his or her command. The A-Staff is a standardized organizational structure, representing the following Air Force functions: A1 Manpower, Personnel, and Services; A2, Intelligence; A3, Operations; A4, Logistics and Engineering; A5, Plans and Integration; and A6, Communications. The ATF also has a Special Staff to provide staff assistance for the commander.

The Combat Air Base Squadron is the ATF’s primary base operation support element and provides sustainment, protection, and/or airfield management. The ATF commander determines support requirements based upon deployment location and mission. A standard CABS consists of one Combat Service Support Team – Lead and one to two Combat Service Support Teams capable of supporting from several hundred to several thousand service members, depending on size. CSSTs consists of cross-functional teams each sourced from a singular installation.

The Mission Generation Force Element provides the combat capability of the ATF, for example, an expeditionary fighter squadron or an expeditionary special warfare squadron. The MGFEs train throughout the AFFORGEN cycle at home station as they do today and join their assigned ATF for specific training and certification events throughout the AFFORGEN cycle before fully attaching with the ATF for the available phase.

Mission Sustainment Teams pair with an MGFE to provide mission specific combat support functions to enable agile combat employment and other operations at a Forward Operating Site or more austere Contingency Location. MSTs provide sustainment and protection for the portions of a MGFE moving forward to one or more locations. The MSTs may be able to augment the CABS when at a Main Operating Base.

Where Combat Wings Come In

At the Feb. 12 Air and Space Force Association’s 2024 Warfare Symposium in Colorado, Kendall highlighted the need to evolve the Air Force’s approach to organizing, training, and equipping to maintain a competitive advantage in preparation for great power competition.

“We need these changes now; we are out of time to reoptimize our forces to meet the strategic challenges in a time of Great Power Competition,” Kendall said.

Air Force combat wings will be structured as mission ready Units of Action with the same basic framework as the ATFs. However, as opposed to only coming together during events in the AFFORGEN prepare/certify phase, these operational wings will have all the necessary elements stationed together at the same installation where they can train together on a day-to-day basis. Over time, the lessons learned from the ATFs will be incorporated into our combat wings, with the goal to move toward combat wings as the singular force presentation model for the Air Force.

Combat wings will evolve to deploy as fully trained teams leaving behind functional base commands prepared to continue operating the base in competition, crisis and conflict.

Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

350th SWW Reactivates Two Historic EW Squadrons

Sunday, May 12th, 2024

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) —  

To meet the Air Force’s growing demand for spectrum effects, the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing recently reactivated two historic squadrons, the 563rd Electronic Warfare Squadron, in San Antonio, Texas, and the 388th Electronic Warfare Squadron, at Eglin Air Force Base. 

The 563rd EWS’ history dates to World War II, and the unit most recently served as the Air Force’s electronic warfare and navigation officer training squadron. It provided undergraduate training to newly commissioned officers as the 563rd Flying Training Squadron until its deactivation in 2010. 

Many officers at the 350th SWW either served in or were trained by the 563rd FTS. Multiple alumni attended the ceremony, including retired Col. Eric Paulson, former 563rd FTS instructor and former 350th SWW deputy commander. 

“I was honored to be a part of this historic ceremony and see the heritage of the 563rd continue,” Paulsonsaid. “As a previous EW instructor at the 563rd Flying Training Squadron, we saw great capability delivered to the Air Force, and now we’ll see the 563rd Electronic Warfare Squadron deliver essential EW capability to directly to the warfighter.”

The 563rd EWS’ new mission is to design, develop and employ software-based EW capabilities that provide modern capabilities to warfighters. The unit will focus on executing software development, exploring areas for new software initiative, and educating the 350th SWW on software integration. 

The 563rd EWS reactivated on April 25 and Lt. Col. Charles Friesz assumed command. 

“The modern threats we are facing are software defined,” Friesz said. “The 563rd will be the Air Force’s answer to combatting our challenges in the spectrum. The next generation of electromagnetic capabilities will be generated and supported at this unit.” 

One week later, the 388th EWS reactivated on May 2 with Lt. Col. Timothy West assuming command.

The 388th EWS’ history began in World War II with an antisubmarine mission in the Atlantic before being reassigned to the Pacific in support of the Island-Hopping Campaign. It most recently operated as the 388th Electronic Combat Squadron based out of Naval Air Station Whidbey, Washington, flying EA-6B Prowlers until its deactivation in 2010. 

Previous members of the 388th ECS were in attendance for the reactivation, including Col. John Christianson, 350th SWW deputy commander, who served as a flight commander before the unit deactivated. 

“It was amazing seeing a squadron with such history reactivate,” Christianson said. “My time in the 388th during its last iteration was a formative assignment for me as a young captain, and I look forward to seeing all the amazing things are they are going to do this time around.” 

The 388th EWS will focus on weapons and tactics, intelligence, test management and education and training. The 388th EWS will evaluate & assess adversaries’ capabilities and identify their vulnerabilities, informing capability prioritization and development at the wing. 

Focusing on improving the Air Force’s EW capability and driving waveform development, the 388th EWS will ensure warfighters are integrating EW effects into operations in a way that directly increases lethality and survivability of platforms and systems. 

“There is not a single kill chain that does not inherently rely on the spectrum,” West said. “We are weaponizing the electromagnetic spectrum and will punish our adversaries for believing they can rely on the electromagnetic spectrum to achieve their objectives.” 

The 563rd and 388th EWS bring the number of new units at the wing in the past year up to five. This rapid growth reinforces the Air Force’s commitment to prioritizing electromagnetic spectrum operations and the critical role they play in military operations. 

“The 563rd and 388th will allow the wing to deliver the capabilities the Air Force needs to take on the pacing challenge in the spectrum,” said Col. Josh Koslov, 350th SWW commander. “The challenges we face in the electromagnetic spectrum are demanding and we can’t afford to be stagnant.” 

As the Air Force reoptimizes itself for a new strategic environment, the electromagnetic spectrum is the global common that unites all domains of battle. The 350th SWW serves as the Air Force’s most consequential wing in winning its battles of today and tomorrow in the spectrum. 

“If we don’t win in the spectrum, we won’t win at all,” Koslov said. “The 563rd and 388th have provided our forces with strategic excellence in the past, and that’s what we are asking of them again. We’re ruthlessly pursuing spectrum superiority over our adversaries, and the growth we’ve had in the past week is a how we achieve that.” 

By Capt Benjamin Aronson

350th Spectrum Warfare Wing Public Affairs

319th Special Operations Squadron Changes Command, Marks Reassignment to 492nd Special Operations Wing

Thursday, May 9th, 2024

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. —

On May 3, Lt. Col. Caitlin Reilly took command of the 319th Special Operations Squadron colloquially known as Slayers; simultaneously the squadron transitioned from the 1st Special Operations Group to the 492nd Special Operations Wing as part of a previously announced force restructure by Air Force Special Operations Command to ensure it is postured to rapidly deploy and sustain power in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“To the Slayers of the 319th Special Operations Squadron each one of you embodies the spirit of resilience and selflessness that will drive our Wing’s success forward with unwavering determination and tenacity,” said Col. Patrick Wnetrzak, commander 492nd Special Operations Wing. “Together, we stand as a formidable force, united in purpose and bound by the proud legacy of our traditions as we embark on this new chapter. Let us embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead with courage, unity and unwavering resolve,” he added.  

In addition to the 319 SOS, other units that will realign under the 492 SOW include: 6 SOS/6 SOAMXS, Cannon AFB, N.M.; 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Army Airfield, N.C.; 22 STS, JB Lewis-McChord, Wash.    

By realigning these units, the 492 SOW will encompass all AFSOC’s mission capabilities – SOF Strike, SOF Mobility, SOF ISR, and SOF Air-to-Ground Integration.

“The Slayers have accomplished heroic missions and have changed history and are on the leading edge of new capabilities that will shape the future. You are silent professionals who don’t brag about any of these achievements because excellence has simply become a habit,” said Lt. Col. Caitlin Reilly, the 319th Special Operations Squadrons commander.

The unit realignments will take place over time and culminate with the relocation of the 492 SOW. Currently, an Environmental Impact Statement is being developed for the 492 SOW beddown at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.

By Jennifer Gonzalez

Assessing the Joint Force: An Inside Look at the Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation

Saturday, April 27th, 2024

Congress requires the independent assessment of the operational effectiveness, suitability, survivability and — where applicable — lethality of Defense Department weapon and business systems by testing production representative systems, used by regular service members who are trained on the systems before a decision on full-rate production is reached.  

This is where the Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation comes in.

Established by Congress in 1983, the DOT&E serves as the principal official and adviser to the secretary of defense, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, and the secretaries of the military departments on all matters related to both the operational test and evaluation and live-fire test and evaluation of the services and systems acquired by DOD. 

Currently, the DOT&E is independently assessing about 250 systems throughout DOD, with a system being “anything from a business system all the way to space satellites and everything in between,” said Raymond O’Toole Jr., principal deputy director of operational test and evaluation during a recent interview.  

The standard routine for evaluating a system begins with a team from DOT&E partnering with the program office responsible for the acquisition of the system. The team then works with the program office, as well as members of the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, which is responsible for developmental testing, to develop a test and evaluation master plan or a test and evaluation strategy if it’s following a pathway other than the major capability acquisition pathway.

During system testing, DOT&E works to get a credible evaluation of each system’s suitability, survivability, operational effectiveness and — when appropriate — lethality with a goal of enabling the delivery and fielding of proven capabilities to warfighters.  

One key aspect of DOT&E’s testing process is that weapons systems are tested in realistic combat conditions.  

“We’re not restricted or bound by a requirements document with regard to our assessment of the operational effectiveness and suitability of the system,” said Garry Bishop, deputy director of operational test and evaluation for land and expeditionary warfare. 

“We look at it from a realistic combat environment [with] realistic combat conditions,” Bishop continued. “A system may not be required to have certain capabilities against certain threats … but we assess that in that operational environment.” 

As an example of such testing in the operational environment rather than just testing basic system requirements, O’Toole referenced the Army’s Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

“The Bradley doesn’t go out by itself,” he said. “So, while we do look at the individual Bradley with respect to its survivability against live-fire threats, when we do operational testing, we’re also assessing how it’s used in operations …  as a unit of [fighting vehicles] and not just an individual Bradley.” 

In addition to the independent assessments that DOT&E conducts, the office also assembles an annual report each fiscal year for Congress and the secretary of defense. 

“While we don’t report on all 250 programs, we do report on the programs that have had significant operational and live-fire testing in that fiscal year,” said O’Toole, who holds a doctorate in engineering. He added that the National Defense Authorization Act requires DOD’s service secretaries to document their positions with respect to DOT&E’s report.   

Along with testing in realistic combat conditions, another aspect of what makes DOT&E somewhat unique among government organizations is the office’s independence.     

“Under Title 10 [of the U.S. Code], that’s what we owe to Congress: our independent assessment, not filtered by the secretary of defense and not filtered by the services, but [rather] it’s our assessment. The director’s assessment is based upon the data that we provide and the operational testing and live-fire testing that was conducted,” Bishop explained.

“So, … an unbiased, unfiltered assessment is what you get from DOT&E,” he said.   

Though Congress and the secretary of defense are DOT&E’s primary audience, O’Toole sees the organization as being a service to the front-line men and women in uniform.  

“I really believe our customer is the warfighter,” said O’Toole. “Because we are telling the warfighter what the truth is about, what they are getting out in the field.” 

To that end, O’Toole said DOT&E has been working for years to see how the organization can speed up the process of gathering data generated in other fields, in hopes of being able to use that data to satisfy some elements of a system’s operational test and evaluation master plan, thus potentially expediting that system’s delivery.  

“We are constantly looking at the ability to increase the speed of our assessments as a faster way to support the needs of the warfighter,” O’Toole said. 

One way DOT&E is going about that is by working to get away from the linear test model — in which a system has to go through contractor testing and developmental testing before it can get to operational testing — to a more integrated test model. 

“We’re trying to get more of our operational insights earlier in the [system’s] development phase where you can actually affect changes to the design, if needed, and get some insight that determines the scale and scoping of operational testing as you progress through the life cycle of the program,” Bishop said.  

As one example of that, Bishop referenced a recently completed test of the Army’s terrestrial layer system, which is designed to deliver integrated cyber and electronic warfare capabilities to soldiers on the battlefield.

Bishop said that DOT&E was involved from the very early stages of that system’s development, which allowed DOT&E to explain to the system developer what the team was looking for in operational testing. As a result, the developer was able to adjust some of the system’s testing mechanisms to account for how the soldiers were actually using the system out in the field. 

“Testing doesn’t cause delays; the results of testing cause delays if deficiencies are found and the developer chooses to correct them,” said Bishop. “So, the job of testers — both developmental and operational — is to inform the developer. The earlier they can find those deficiencies and vulnerabilities, the earlier the opportunity to fix the system, so that when it’s filtered to our warfighters, they get a credible system.”    

In addition to test and evaluation within the Defense Department, DOT&E also is responsible for the International Test and Evaluation Program. According to DOT&E literature on the program, the ITEP “permits establishment of bilateral and multilateral agreements between the United States and international partners.”   

“We are unique,” O’Toole said. “There is no other organization like DOT&E, in the world that provides independent assessment.” 

Being responsible for international test and evaluation sometimes affords DOT&E leadership the opportunity to interact with members of international defense communities. One example is when O’Toole recently held a briefing at the International  Armoured Vehicles Conference in London in January. 

“During the briefing, the room was very focused, and it’s not because I was the guy standing up there; it’s because of the message I was delivering,” O’Toole said. “And that message was [that] we provide credible assessment, and we’re not afraid to go and say where things are wrong, how to go fix it, and then retest it. We also say what is right or working as intended.” 

Moving forward, O’Toole said that DOT&E will be focusing not just on testing individual systems, but families of interconnected systems. 

“And we’re looking at that not just from a testing standpoint, but from a training standpoint,” he added. 

As an example of that, O’Toole mentioned the Joint Simulation Environment that is used to train pilots of the F-35 Lightning II — the DOD’s premiere, multirole combat aircraft.

“People are saying to me … that they’ve gotten more out of sitting in a JSE cockpit than they ever got when they were on the range and out in the open air because of the threats and capabilities that they were able to actually utilize,” he said, referring to the fact that safety and environmental restrictions on ranges sometimes preclude the testing of certain capabilities and threats.  

O’Toole also said DOT&E is getting more involved with the world of artificial intelligence.

“We’re very involved with the industry, and the best and the brightest [individuals] on how to utilize and test artificial intelligence,” O’Toole said, adding that DOT&E is fully engaged with DOD’s Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office.  

“We’re thinking ahead, and that’s where we’re going; that’s where we want to be going; and that’s where we need to go for the future.”

By Matthew Olay, DOD News

Special Operations Joint Task Force Central Establishes Space Force Team

Thursday, April 18th, 2024

UNDISCLOSED LOCATION, Southwest Asia —  

Special Operations Joint Task Force Central established Space Force-Team Sentinel, Feb. 16, 2024.

Team Sentinel is SOJTF-C’s designated space support element operating throughout Central and South Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. It provides integrated full spectrum space-based capabilities across SOJTF-C’s area of operations.

Designed to optimize Special Operations Forces space integration, this team will provide integrated SOF specific space support, deliver innovative space solutions to unique problems, maintain awareness of threats, coordinate regional space operations, and integrate SOJTF-C with global space components to enable multi-domain special operations.

Team Sentinel supports and integrates with U.S. Central Command’s space component, U.S. Space Forces Central, contributing to unity of effort across the CENTCOM space enterprise.

Special Operations Joint Task Force-Central

Army Futures Command General Lays Out Continuous Transformation Plan

Tuesday, April 9th, 2024

WASHINGTON — To give Soldiers what they need to win the nation’s wars now and in the future, the Army must continuously transform and adapt to advances in technology, said Gen. James E. Rainey, commanding general of Army Futures Command.

This flexibility is needed, he said, because of how quickly the environment is evolving.

“The amount of technical disruption in the character of war is unprecedented, and it just continues to go faster and faster,” he said during a keynote presentation at the U.S. Army Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama last week. “Whatever you think you know this year, come back in 90 days, and you’ll know something different.”

To combat this changing landscape, the service is focused on transformation in three different periods: 18-24 months, two to seven years, and seven to 15 years. Work done in each period has a ripple effect on the others.

The first period is referred to as transformation in contact. This area deals with capabilities delivered to deployed warfighters for testing and analysis. They provide real-world feedback allowing the Army to make necessary adjustments for future use.

In this area, the Army can adapt to current warfighting conditions. This was used when the service noticed the value of loitering munitions, also known as suicide drones, in the war in Ukraine. Army Futures Command put in a priority-directed requirement and is in the process of buying the capability.

AFC is also working with industry partners on ground-based rockets, ground-based missiles and counter-unmanned aircraft systems that work on offense to protect light infantry and armored companies.

“The United States Army, we believe in offense and attacking,” he said. “So, there is a big opportunity to figure out how we are going to provide effective counter-UAS capabilities to units on offense.”

Human-machine integrated formations is another initiative the service is working on in the 18–24-month period. This program brings robotics and autonomous vehicles into fighting formations. The goal of the project is to keep Soldiers out of harm’s way whenever possible.

The Army tested numerous integrated formations during Project Convergence Capstone 4 in Fort Irwin, California last month.

“This is one of our major efforts inside the Army,” Rainey said. “It’s going very well and is full of opportunities to go to the next level. We’re never going to replace humans with machines, it’s about optimizing them.”

The Army will start prototyping the first integrated platoons in the next two years.

The two-to-seven-year period is known as deliberate transformation. In this time frame, the service is continuing to work on the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft, extending the range of cannon artillery, adding magazine depth and improving indirect fire weapons, engineering capabilities and the network.

Rainey said the service’s number one priority in deliberate transformation is improving the network. The service is working on a data-centric system to enable commanders to make quicker and more informed decisions.

The Future Long Range Assault Aircraft is a hot topic issue with the service’s recent aviation rebalance. Rainey assured that the Army is committed to FLRAA and the capability it brings to maneuver rifle squads.

“We don’t do attrition warfare,” he said. “We do maneuver warfare. So, FLRAA is an absolute must we have to continue to deliver, and it’s in good shape.”

Innovating in engineering battalions is another key priority for the Army, he explained.

“We’re more likely to get stopped by the terrain than by an enemy we fight and that’s not OK,” he said. “We [have got to] get after the engineering transformation and modernization.”

The Army announced the end of the Extended Range Cannon Artillery platform program last month but the requirement to extend cannon fire remains. The service recently completed a tactical fires study on artillery modernization. The research from the study showed significant success in extending the range by making adjustments to the rounds, Rainey said.

AFC is taking this knowledge and looking at ways to innovate the rounds and the propulsion systems. They are also looking to increase magazine depth to give Soldiers not just the capability but the capacity they need.

The last time frame is referred to as concept-driven transformation. This is where the Army is looking to sustain advantages, develop new capabilities and build endurance for future conflicts.

The service is working on merging offensive and defensive fire systems, adding robotics to contested logistics, bringing survivability and lethality to light infantry divisions, decreasing the weight of armored formations, and increasing its emphasis on war gaming.

This continuous transformation over all three periods is meant to make the Army more adaptable, flexible and lethal while giving Soldiers the capacity and capabilities to win now and in the future.

“Whatever we do as we transform, we have to preserve that people advantage we have,” Rainey said. “They are our greatest asset.”

By Christopher Hurd, Army News Service

Inside a Civil Air Patrol SAR Mission

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) —

On Feb. 6, five Marines aboard a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter belonging to the U.S. Marine Corps’ 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing were reported “overdue” while en route to San Diego, sparking a search and rescue mission for the missing service members.

The search efforts included members of Civil Air Patrol, who along with firefighters and other state, federal and local agencies located the aircraft the next day. Unfortunately, all five Marines on board were confirmed deceased.

“The night of the crash, we were alerted to the missing aircraft and spun up resources to find it,” said Lt. Col. Steven DeFord, incident commander for CAP’s California Wing. “Due to the bad weather in the area, we activated two aircraft from Arizona and got a ground search team to begin a search.”

DeFord explained members of CAP’s National Radar Analysis Team quickly found a radar track for the missing helicopter and gave the teams a helpful last-known position, which was roughly 300 feet away from the actual crash site. CAP began sharing the data with search parties within 30 minutes.

NRAT’s mission is to “shorten the crash to rescue time” by using advanced technologies and data sources developed by the experienced team. Once this team is activated, analysis and actionable data can be provided to others in minutes.

“With our analysis team’s 15 years of experience, and our team-built tools, we’ve become very skilled at analyzing radar data to determine where a probable crash site is located,” said Lt. Col. John C. Henderson, NRAT vice commander.

During the search, 35 CAP volunteers from across Nevada, Arizona and California collaborated to find the aircraft. The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, located at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, was responsible for alerting local CAP agencies, allowing the Air Force to mediate between the other state and federal agencies on scene.

“We had two liaison officers interfacing with the numerous other agencies to coordinate our response,” DeFord added. “CAP provided radar forensics and ground electronic search capabilities, while other agencies provided mobility support and a location for a joint incident command post.”

Founded in 1941 and established as the official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force seven years later, Civil Air Patrol is chartered by Congress as a nonprofit organization for the purposes of youth development, aerospace education, and to promote general aviation. In an auxiliary role as a Total Force partner of the Air Force, CAP operates the world’s largest fleet of single-engine aircraft for search and rescue, disaster relief, training, and education. The all-volunteer force is made up of more than 66,000 members nationally.

The California Wing engages in multiple exercises weekly, aiding mission partners such as the U.S. Coast Guard by flying multiple aircraft throughout the state to ensure direction-finding coverage to support their lifesaving missions. Additionally, its volunteers stand by to support in-state and federal search and rescue missions looking for emergency location transmitters and missing persons.

No matter the outcome, CAP and its volunteers work alongside the Air Force to provide trained search and rescue professionals and crash data analytics to quickly respond to any event to which they’re called.

Space Force Guardians Advance SOF Space Interoperability During Emerald Warrior Exercise

Sunday, March 31st, 2024

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. —

Air Force Special Operations Command, in collaboration with the United States Space Force Special Operations Element (USSFSOE), unveiled the 527th Space Aggressor Squadron full suite of capabilities for the first time during its annual Emerald Warrior exercise, underscoring the unique and invaluable role of USSF Guardians in advancing SOF Space integration.

Emerald Warrior is an AFSOC-sponsored combined joint exercise that provides realistic, relevant, high-end training to prepare special operations forces, conventional forces and international partners for the evolving strategic environment.

The USSFSOE coordinated Guardian support to deliver specialized space expertise, space-related intelligence and integration over the three-week exercise. As representatives of the newest service, the USSFSOE is responsible for space coordination and support to U.S. Special Operations Command.

“The United States Space Force Special Operations Element is strengthening the SOF-Space relationship by integrating our service capabilities into SOCOM exercises like Emerald Warrior,” said Maj. Jonathan Green, USSFSOE plans and programs chief. “These exercises and training opportunities provide Guardians and SOF personnel with much needed interoperability for future joint operations.” 

Support for the exercise from the 527th SAS included joint personnel from the USAF, USMC and USSF.

During the exercise, they replicated satellite communication and GPS-based electromagnetic interference to emulate a contested, degraded, operationally limited environment prevalent in areas of operation around the world. This support provided operators the real-world experience that they require. 

“Our team allows units to operate in a realistic radio frequency limited environment, providing commanders the benefit of preparing their units with the most effective training,” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Bryan Hernandez, 527th SAS mission commander.

“The relationship between the USSF and special operations is imperative as we address next-generation challenges related to great power competition,” said Green. “We will continue to integrate space capabilities and personnel with special operations to meet joint warfighter needs.”

By Maj Jessica Gross & 1st Lt. Cassandra Saphore, Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs