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Archive for the ‘Forces Focus’ Category

Army Modernizes Pacific Expeditionary Signal Battalion

Sunday, June 5th, 2022

HELEMANO MILITARY RESERVATION, Hawaii — As the 307th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, or ESB, celebrated its 80th birthday on May 27, the Army is converting the unit to an ESB-Enhanced formation. With this conversion comes a smaller, lighter and faster network communications equipment tool suite that will better serve the unit’s unique and varied mission sets.

With companies in both Hawaii and Alaska, the battalion provides global network connectivity on short notice to U.S. Army Pacific and U.S. Army North units, often in harsh locations, from secluded island jungles thousands of miles across the ocean to ice-covered mountains in the Arctic Circle.

“We talk about the tyranny of distance, about the challenges created by the vast number of locations and extreme environments throughout the Pacific; this new expeditionary equipment set will help us to support those missions,” said Col. Lee Adams, commander of the 516th Theater Signal Brigade, to which 307th ESB-E is assigned. “We are always trying to improve and to provide foundational capabilities for the theater Army. This transition to an ESB-E does that for us; it gives us a better capability to enable the theater Army to fight successfully.”

The reduced size and system complexity of the equipment set enables ESB-E units to significantly increase their network support to other units with more nodes and less manpower, while reducing transportation requirements by over 60 percent. The tool suite includes various-sized expeditionary satellite dishes and baseband equipment, high-throughput backhaul radios, and wireless command post technologies. It replaces the unit’s much larger Tactical Network Transport At-The-Halt equipment, formally known as Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, which is often transported across the Pacific via cargo ships. The new equipment set can be transported via commercial airline if needed, in hours versus days or weeks.

Prior to his current position, Adams commanded the first unit to be converted to an ESB-E, the 50th ESB-E, during the planning and initial fielding of the unit’s pilot equipment. The 307th ESB-E conversion marks the sixth unit that the Army has fielded with the new equipment package. The Army’s Project Manager Tactical Network, assigned to the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, began fielding the unit with the Scalable Network Node to the companies in both Hawaii and Alaska in March. Fielding the remainder of the initial baseline systems is expected to be complete by the end of the fiscal year.

The Army’s agile ESB-E acquisition and fielding approach aligns with its two-year incremental Capability Set fielding process, which enables the service to enhance the ESB-E baseline capability in future capability sets if Soldier feedback warrants it, or when evolving commercial technologies become mature enough to be procured. On the current plan, the Army is fielding several ESB-Es per fiscal year until all of the ESBs have been upgraded to the new baseline capability.

“As I talk to the other ESB-E commanders, the [project manager], and its fielding team that is here now, and we get feedback from our Soldiers as they going through the training, I can see firsthand the accumulation of lessons learned and how the equipment set continues to improve,” said Lt. Col. Drew Chaffee, commander of the 307th ESB-E, who also once served as a company commander for the unit.

The ESB-E tool suite is a critical element of Capability Set 21, which delivers smaller, lighter and faster communications systems that are easier to operate and provide increased network communication Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency, or PACE, plan options. The tool suite provides signal path diversity in congested and contested environments, leveraging numerous high-throughput line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight capabilities.

“It’s critical to have a good PACE plan, to be able to incorporate different transport that may be more survivable in a particular terrain. Every commander wants more options,” Adams said. “When we are fighting in a battle environment that is degraded, intermittent or just has delayed latency, I have to have different technologies, different pieces of kit that make me more survivable, make us a harder target to hit, yet allows us to stand still to support multi-domain operations at an assured level. And that is what having these different network transport capabilities provide us.”

To enable additional transport paths for improved network resiliency, the Army is working to deliver high-throughput and low latency satellite communications leveraging emerging commercial technologies and services in non-traditional orbits, such as Low Earth Orbit and Medium Earth Orbit. In April, the 307th ESB conducted a demonstration of commercial high-throughput and low latency satellite communications, at the Helemano Military Reservation on Oahu. The unit plans to further experiment with the capability during upcoming U.S. Army Pacific training exercises.

“The name of the game is operational flexibility,” Chaffee said. “This new kit is scalable and tailorable to the mission. We have the operational flexibility to tailor our teams, our equipment set, and our footprint to the requirements based on the mission and the environment that we find ourselves in. This smaller lighter ESB-E kit is going to get us there much more effectively and it highlights the United States’ ability to support and adapt in some of the most austere and remotely located environments in the world.”

By Amy Walker, Project Manager Tactical Network, PEO C3T, public affairs

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA)

Sunday, April 3rd, 2022

I had the privilege of visiting and getting a tour of The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor- Hickam. Talk about a very moving experience. The work that they do is second to known in the world. The United States is the only country that actively searches for its unaccounted for. The mission of DPAA is to provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel from past conflicts to their families and the nation. Within this mission, they search for missing personnel from World War II (WWII), the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Gulf Wars, and other recent conflicts. Their research and operational missions include coordination with hundreds of countries and municipalities worldwide.

At present, more than 81,600 Americans remain missing from WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the Gulf Wars/other conflicts. Out of the more than 81,600 missing, 75% of the losses are in the Indo-Pacific, and over 41,000 of the missing are presumed lost at sea (i.e., ship losses, known aircraft water losses, etc.).

One thing everyone can do to help is if you have any family members that are missing from WWII or newer conflicts, is to give a DNA test. This will help them to identify the remains they find. They are only allowed to get DNA samples from families. Contact you casualty assistance office.


Deployable active-duty military are needed to serve as qualified volunteers to fill critical functions across the globe. Volunteering to support humanitarian field activities as a short-term individual augmentee gives you an extraordinary opportunity to exercise your skills and expertise while directly supporting our nation’s promise to leave no one behind from past conflicts. Individuals interested in applying their skills and experience in a unique environment can volunteer for open positions supporting the US Military in foreign theaters.


505th TTG Provides C2 Expertise to 23rd WG‘s Ready Tiger Exercise

Sunday, March 20th, 2022

The 505th Test and Training Group, Hurlburt Field, Florida, provided critical command and control expertise during the 23rd Wing’s execution of their Lead Wing exercise, Ready Tiger 22-01 at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, Feb. 28 to March 4.

The 23rd WG conducted RT 22-01, an Agile Combat Employment LW exercise, in preparation for their upcoming, certification- exercise Agile Flag slated for later this summer. 

In November 2021, the 705th Training Squadron team provided LW C2 academics to the 23rd WG A-Staff which established base-line procedures for interacting with operational C2.  During RT 22-01, the 505th’s team evolved these procedures by providing a small scale Air Component replication for the 23rd WG.

 “The goal of providing replication, in place of standard white-cell injects, was to give the Lead Wing the realism of having to communicate and coordinate directly with entities at the AOC [Air Operations Center] and AFFOR [Air Force Forces] staff,” said David Hetzler, 705th TRS, ACE LW C2 subject matter expert, Hurlburt Field, Florida.

The four-day, LW exercise focused on maturing the 23rd WG’s ability to employ Air Base Squadrons to generate airpower downrange and maintain C2 in contested environments.

“The 505th CCW provided outstanding support to exercise Ready Tiger and brought realism to the interaction between the Lead Wing and Air Component. This integration, the first during any wing-led ACE exercise, brought valuable lessons learned from both the 505th CCW and 23rd WG, and will ensure future ACE exercises are more realistic and successful,”  said Maj. Paul Ochs, 41st Rescue Squadron RT deputy exercise director, Moody AFB, Georgia.

The future Agile Flag exercise will test the LW’s mission generation, C2, and base operations support elements to prepare warfighters from multiple installations and major commands for what they may encounter deployed while supporting the joint force air component commander. 

 “The 705th is using their subject matter expertise in creating tailored academics that prepare Lead Wings to integrate quickly with Air Components.  Our academics provide a baseline that the Lead Wing can build upon while developing TTPs [tactics, techniques, and procedures] to integrate with an Air Component’s staffs,” said Lt. Col. Marcus Bryan, 705th TRS commander, Hurlburt Field, Florida.  “Our participation in Ready Tiger keeps us current on ACE Lead Wing employment concepts which directly informs our upcoming Lead Wing academic courses.”

Bryan continued, “This was the first time that a Lead Wing exercise used a real-time AOC replication cell to simulate the ‘normal’ back and forth interaction between an AOC/AFFOR and the Lead Wing, greatly increasing training fidelity for the 23rd Wing.  The experimental use of 505th TTG personnel sets the groundwork for using an operational C2 replication team during Agile Flag.”

“During Ready Tiger, I was able to replicate numerous, yet scaled functions such as the Chief of Combat Operations, Senior Offensive Duty Officer and Joint Personnel Recovery Center director directly with the 23rd WG’s WOC,” said Shawn Holsinger, 505th Training Squadron senior Combat Operations Division instructor, Hurlburt Field, Florida. “With extensive doctrinal knowledge and real-world experience on operational-level C2, our team is able to provide critical replication, similar to our AOC initial qualification training for 1500+ students per year.”

The 505th TRS is the USAF’s only AOC Formal Training Unit and trains geographic AOCs and functional OCs joint and coalition warfighters on C2 processes and systems used to employ air, space and cyber at the operational level of war.

In previous exercises, the Air Component was simulated however in RT 22-01 interactions between the 505th TTG replication team provided realistic interaction between the LW WOC and the Air Component.

“Our combined team of 705th Training Squadron and 505th Training Squadron C2 experts created an initial Air Component Replication Team for the Lead Wing exercise successfully providing operational C2 interaction within exercise Ready Tiger.  The connection and growth of Wing Operations Centers within theater battle management constructs and with the Air Component staffs is a necessary evolution to the future success of integrating the Lead Wing construct into ACE concepts,” said Col. Adam Shelton, 505th Test and Training Group commander, Hurlburt Field, Florida.

By Deb Henley, 505th Command and Control Wing, Public Affairs

USAF RED HORSE Restructures to Elevate Deployment Capabilities

Saturday, March 12th, 2022


When the 819th RED HORSE Squadron was presented with the challenge of accelerating change to increase deployment capabilities across their enterprise, they responded with an innovation that will completely change the way RED HORSE trains at home and how they deploy overseas.

“One of the big objectives is to make sure we are ready to confront the challenges of the future,” said Lt. Col. Javier Velazquez, 819th RHS commander. “The only way we can possibly do that is by building our teams in garrison the same way that they are going to be deployed and working together.”

RED HORSE stands for Rapid Engineer Deployable, Heavy Operational Repair Squadron, Engineer. They are self-sufficient and mobile squadrons capable of rapid response and independent operations in remote environments worldwide. In addition to civil engineers, the squadron includes Airmen from more than 30 career fields.

Over the last several decades, RED HORSE squadrons organized themselves by those career fields. They spent time primarily with people who do the same job while they were in garrison and only built deployment teams when tasked to mobilize. This meant that when a RED HORSE team deployed, they would have to build camaraderie and learn to trust one another in the deployed environment.

“Nowadays we don’t have that luxury,” Velazquez said. “We need to be sure that we can hit the ground running on day one and that’s exactly what we’re trying to achieve with our new structure.”

Now, the squadrons will be restructured into teams based on their ability to fulfill a specific purpose. These teams include horizontal construction, demolition and quarry, vertical construction, expeditionary engineering, site assessment and support functions.

This means if a combatant commander needs, for example, an airfield built at their location, RED HORSE would send them a horizontal construction team that includes all the right people, tools and assets necessary to complete that task.

“By putting these teams together, we have the ability to not only know each other…but be organized in a way that is capabilities-based,” said Chief Master Sgt. Nathan Laidlaw, 819th RHS senior enlisted leader. “When the combatant commander comes down and says, ‘we need a water well drilled,’ we press the button and they’re there. They are organized, trained, equipped and ready to go.”

The squadron’s leadership emphasized that the idea is to spend as much time at home as possible working together, solving problems and maintaining their readiness.

“This new construct really focuses us on that capability as well as readiness,” said Maj. Keegan Vaira, 819th RHS director of operations. “In the previous way we were doing business, that wasn’t at the forefront of everyone’s mind and under our new structure, a huge piece of what these teams are doing every day is making sure they are ready to execute that mission.”

“Everyone can get ready at once,” said Senior Master Sgt. Serena Goethe, 819th RHS first sergeant. “They all got their shots at the same time, they all did their firing at the same time, they did their (computer-based trainings) at the same time so they knew they were all good to go at once.”

After the initial planning process, the 819th RHS completed the transformation in about five months from August to December 2021.

“At the beginning of any change it’s difficult and it’s a lot of unknowns,” Laidlaw said. “In that initial storming change of this transformation I would say it was a little uneasy to be honest and it should have been because we’re changing the way we’ve done business.

“Once (the Airmen) started buying in and seeing the process and understanding where we were going and seeing the benefits it provided them, the majority have come on board and have been very positive about it.”

Goethe added that while Airmen will spend most of their time working with the teams in their new flights, they will have the opportunity to work with others within their specific career fields for training and mentorship.

“I’m glad to say that the 819th is taking the lead for the entire enterprise with the support of the 800th RED HORSE Group,” Velazquez said.

The 819th RHS is the first RED HORSE squadron to complete the restructuring.

“The cumulative plan came almost exclusively from the 819th” Laidlaw said. “This unit went through a lot to come up with this concept and they deserve the credit for it.”

By Heather Heiney, 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

1st SFC(A) Stands Up Special Operations Forces Training & Experimentation Center at White Sands Missile Range

Friday, March 11th, 2022

1st Special Forces Command (A) officially activates SOF-TEC as a formal command directorate, March 8, 2022, at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

The Special Operations Forces Training & Experimentation Center will serve as a leading installation for irregular warfare readiness for both USSOF and our partners around the world.

SOF -TEC will test cutting edge designs, equipment, and techniques, and facilitate cyber, electronic warfare, and Space training.

SOF-TEC is headed by Special Forces Colonel Theodore Unbehagen.

US Army’s 4th SFAB Joins the Fight at Allied Spirit

Saturday, February 26th, 2022

HOHENFELS, Germany – Advisors from the U.S. Army 4th Security Forces Assistance Brigade participated in their first multinational exercise in Europe as they worked alongside their Latvian counterparts during Allied Spirit 22 at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center Jan. 21- Feb. 5.

Approximately 5,000 soldiers from 15 nations including Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Moldova, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States took part at 7th Army Training Command’s JMRC in Allied Spirit 22.

Advisor teams from the 4th SFAB, which is stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, arrived in Europe in September, 2021, and are currently advising land forces in Georgia, Latvia, North Macedonia, Poland and Romania. The SFAB concept was developed as special advisory teams to aid in training and advising armies in specific needs that are developed in close coordination with allies and partners. There are five active duty SFABs and one National Guard SFAB, each with a different geographic focus.

Twenty-one 4th SFAB Soldiers serve as team advisors in warfighting functions such as infantry, engineering, medical, logistics, and field artillery within the Latvian Mechanized Infantry Brigade while deployed to Camp Adazi, Latvia, and integrated into positions across the brigade during exercise Allied Spirit.

“Our main mission here is to improve interoperability between us and our NATO allies and partners, while doing whatever we can to gain understanding of how our allies and partners conduct large-scale combat operations,” said U.S. Army Cpt. Andrew Shanks, a logistics advisor team leader assigned to 4th SFAB, who served as a battle captain within the MIB’s Latvian Combat Service Support Battalion during the exercise.

Unlike the Saber Junction and Combined Resolve series at JMRC, which feature U.S. brigade combat teams in a lead role augmented by allies and partners, Allied Spirit places an allied unit as the main training audience. For the second time since 2017, the Latvian MIB served as the allied brigade headquarters for Allied Spirit.

“This is the first large exercise of its kind in which SFAB teams have integrated with a persistent partner as advisors months prior to the exercise, during the exercise and months after the exercise,” Shanks said.

Allied Spirit 22 was led by the German Army’s 1st Armored Division, whose staff provided command and control over a multinational brigade and other constructive elements. Based in Oldenburg, the division is part of NATO’s 1st German Netherlands Corps.

“The absolute best part of the exercise was working closely with our partners, and as much we could hope to teach, we also learned just as much,” said U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Joshua Kirby, a 4th SFAB advisor who worked with fire support officers in two command posts within the Latvian MIB.

In 2018 the first SFAB was activated in Fort Benning, Georgia. The vision was to take mature and experienced Army leaders and utilize them as small teams of select training advisors trained to deploy worldwide to liaise, support, assess and advise our international partners and allies.

The 4th SFAB initiatives include advising, support, liaising and assessments of military capabilities of allied and partner forces. Building trust through persistent presence aims to improve the security environment and to ensure continued interoperability, 4th SFAB will train with partners and allies to deter aggression and defeat adversaries. The 4th SFAB builds on enduring partnerships in multi-domain areas, extending cooperation throughout the European theater.

“Allied Spirit 22 proved a tremendous opportunity for 4th SFAB to enhance interoperability between allies while building readiness for large scale combat operations. Advisors from the 4th SFAB have established our reputation in Europe as a force multiplying asset since their arrival in October of 2012,” said Col. Robert Born, commander of the 4th SFAB. “The experience gained by our Advisors, in support of the Latvian Mechanized Infantry Brigade, will prove invaluable and dramatically increase the effectiveness of 4th SFAB.”

The U.S. Army’s only overseas training command and combat training center is located in Germany, to provide ready and capable theater assigned U.S. forces but also to facilitate testing and strengthening interoperability with allies and partners to support theater operations and drive readiness within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“There’s only certain times we’re able to go through this Combat Training Center rotation at JMRC,” said Maj. Edward Gibbons, 4th SFAB Team Leader. “For us to do this rotation in a multinational context is significant for our own internal professional development. The lessons we learned, and seeing how other brigades and battalions performed, was a great experience for us.”

The 4th SFAB is scheduled to support multiple scheduled exercises in Albania, Bosnia, Germany, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Poland, and Turkey in spring, 2022.

For more photos, videos and news stories from exercise Allied Spirit, visit: www.dvidshub.net/feature/AlliedSpirit

Follow the 4th SFAB on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/4SFAB

Follow the 7th Army Training Command on Facebook: www.facebook.com/7thATC

Follow U.S. Army Europe and Africa on Facebook: www.facebook.com/USArmyEURAF

By SPC Nathaniel Gayle

USMC Activates New Littoral Anti-Air Battalion

Thursday, February 24th, 2022

MCB HAWAII, Hawaii —

The Marine Corps administratively activated its first Littoral Anti-Air Battalion, the 3rd LAAB, in a small ceremony aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Feb. 11, 2022.

While the unit is not envisioned to be fully operational for several years, the ceremony marks one of the first steps in the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 modernization effort.

The administrative activation of 3rd LAAB sets leadership in place and allows the unit to manage existing facilities and equipment previously managed by the recently de-activated 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. Activation also facilitates wargaming and experimentation to better define unit requirements and employment concepts in support of the Marine Corps’ Force Design modernization goals.

As designed, 3rd LAAB will serve as a subordinate unit to the future 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, or 3rd MLR. While the details of how the LAAB will operate are still in development, the Marine Corps envisions the LAAB providing critical support and protection for small teams of MLR Marines distributed across wide areas of the Pacific region.

“Force Design creates advantages by having Marines think, act and organize in new ways…”

Lt. Col. James Arnold, 3rd LAAB commanding officer

Although 3rd LAAB is a new unit, its mission of air defense, air surveillance and early warning, air control, and forward arming and refueling is not new to the Marine Corps. What is new is how the Marine Corps envisions organizing and employing the battalion.

“Force Design creates advantages by having Marines think, act and organize in new ways,” said Lt. Col. James Arnold, 3rd LAAB commanding officer. “The capabilities formerly only found in the Wing that the LAAB will bring to the MLR commander used to require three different units that directly worked for an aviation commander. As envisioned with Force Design, this capability will now be organic to the tactical ground commander.”

The activation ceremony for 3rd LAAB represents a historical milestone, as the unit inherits the official Marine Corps history and lineage of a Marine anti-air unit that saw action from World War II to Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

The 3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Battalion was activated Dec. 19, 1938 and was re-designated as 3rd Defense Battalion in 1939. After the unit relocated in May 1940 to Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, the unit saw action in the attack on Pearl Harbor, and fought in the battles of Midway, Guadalcanal, the Northern Solomon Islands, and Bougainville. It deactivated in 1944 but was later re-activated as the 1st Provisional Marine Guided Missile Battalion in 1961. The unit re-designated as 3rd Light Antiaircraft Missile Battalion, employing its Hawk area defense missile systems as it participated in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991. The unit de-activated Sept. 30, 1994 as the Marine Corps divested of its medium-range air defense capability.

1st Lt Isaac Liston, 3rd Marine Division

AFR Capabilities Enable Immediate Ocean Rescue

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022


The Air Force Reserve Command’s 920th Rescue Wing conducted a multi-person medical airlift in support of a critically-injured person aboard a cruise ship 600 nautical miles off the coast of Florida, Feb. 15. 

The 920th RQW launched two of its HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, two HC-130J Combat King II aircraft, and a team of pararescuemen within three hours of notification to rendezvous with the ship and transport a patient and ship’s nurse to a Florida hospital. 

“The combined capabilities of our special mission personnel and aircraft permitted us to provide immediate support,” said Col. Brian Diehl, 920th Operations Group commander. “Our constant planning and preparation allowed both operations and maintenance teams to shift rapidly from a normal training day to successful completion of this mission with very little notice.” 

In contact with the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, the team executed the airlift under Defense Support of Civil Authorities. DSCA is the process by which United States military assets and personnel can be used to assist civil authorities during emergencies and other specific events. 

Reaching the ship’s remote location required three aerial refuelings en route, provided by one HC-130J, while the second Combat King II performed double duty as a spare tanker and went directly to the vessel to initiate coordination from the air. 

Once at the location, and under the command of the 920th RQW’s 301st Rescue Squadron, the HH-60s took control, examined the ship and conditions to position successfully from the air, insert two pararescuemen who were hoisted down, and immediately began preparing the patient and ship’s nurse for the emergency transport. Once prepared, the PJs, pilots, and special mission aviators worked in concert to hoist them into the helicopter, where the patient was stabilized while en route to a Florida hospital. 

The entire extraction took less than four minutes. 

“High seas, strong winds, and a ship going 10 knots added a lot of dynamics to this rescue as we worked on getting these people up into the aircraft, but this is what we train for” said a 301st RQS pilot. “When they say that there is a real-world rescue to execute, our focus is on saving lives.” 

The 920th Maintenance Group generated six aircraft and ensured they were crew-ready in less than one hour. This feat required inspecting, fueling, and configuring the aircraft for the mission while executing other aircraft maintenance requirements. 

“Much like our wing exercises that simulate Indo-Pacific region travel over long distances of water in a short period of time, our training and preparation allow us to ensure aircraft are ready for real-world events at a moment’s notice and shows the importance of getting aircraft back to flight line 100% ready for any contingency at any time,” said Lt. Col. George Cole, 920th Maintenance Group commander. 

The rescue mission covered just under 1,100 miles round trip over open ocean and completed in eight hours. 

Based at Patrick Space Force Base, the 920th RQW is AFRC’s only combat search and rescue wing. Its primary mission is to plan, lead, and conduct military rescue operations and missions to deny competitors and adversaries’ exploitation of isolated personnel.

By Lt Col Ian Phillips, 920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs