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Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

FirstSpear Friday Focus – Summit Bag

Friday, June 2nd, 2023

Our popular Summit Bag provides a great way to keep your gear organized inside larger packs or bags and works exceptionally well as a stuff sack for garments and gear. You can throw it under your seat or keep it in the trunk. This is an incredibly versatile organization tool used extensively by both military and civilians.

• Made in AMERICA

• Mesh, 70D ripstop, and High-Vis Orange Packcloth

• Zipper closure

• Available exclusively at FirstSpear

Small (1 Liter) – 4″ x 4″ x 4.5″
Medium (2 Liter) – 4″ x 4″ x 9″
Large (7 Liter) – 6″ x 6″ x 12″
XL (11 Liter) – 6″ x 10″ x 12″
2XL (56 Liter) – 12″ x 12″ x 24″

Check out FirstSpear to find American Made kit and accessories, Built For The X.

75th Innovation Command Brings Unique Skills to EDGE 23

Friday, June 2nd, 2023

The 75th Innovation Command (IC), based in Houston, Texas, employs reservist Soldiers who have been recruited from the civilian world because of their sought-after technical skills and expertise.

The 75th IC team also bring decades of combined military experience with countless deployments under their belts.

“We are here because we are engineers, we are scientists, we all have STEM degrees and backgrounds, so it’s easy for us to talk the talk with these developers and innovators,” explained Chief Warrant Officer 3 Steven Dixon, an innovation technician with the 75th IC.

“I can see where these technologies could be applied on the battlefield, because we have been there. All of us,” added Dixon, who has been deployed six times.

Lt. Col. Martin Plumlee, officer in charge for 75th IC from the Huntsville Innovation Detachment said, “That’s sort of the beauty and secret sauce of the 75th. We are looking for those people who have those unique skills and abilities who can help the Army when they are wearing this suit [Army uniform] and still help the Army when they are wearing a different suit.”

So, who better to provide Soldier feedback during the aviation-centric Experimentation Demonstration Gateway Event, better known as EDGE, that took place at Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) in late April through mid-May than the 75th IC?

The three-week event brought Army Futures Command’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Cross-Functional Team and industry and international partners to the Yuma desert to work through network connectivity, frequency communication and flying maneuvers. The event culminated with a live capabilities demonstration for senior leaders and members of Congress.

“Our job here is to integrate and to be embedded with FVL to support all levels of their mission,” Plumlee explained.

That meant boots on the ground at YPG for the duration of the exercise to assess the technology and provide feedback. The 75th IC Soldier feedback in some instances provided the missing link to get a system just right.

Capt. Eric McClure, an Innovation Officer with the 75th and UH-60 Blackhawk pilot by trade, said there were several moments with technology creators where the collaboration led them to think, “Oh, I never really thought about this” or “The feedback you just provided will help us go back and fix a software error or bug we saw, or potentially help improve a system to make it more user friendly.”

EDGE provided the unique ability to gather creators, engineers and software developers with Soldiers for their instant assessment and recommendations.

“Failure is a gift” is a term McClure said someone coined during EDGE. He went on to explain, “It’s a great learning moment, so they can take that back and improve their system. You can see there is care in the eyes of these industry partners to fix those problems, and some have been doing that rapidly on the fly. They have their engineers and their software coders on site. They experience a problem one day, they immediately go back and try to fix it.”

EDGE’s location in the hot Arizona desert made for a perfect training ground. Yuma Test Center at YPG provides unrestricted airspace to allow for air and ground testing.

“You can design something, but if you don’t know how it’s integrated, if the person who is putting in the equipment, or the crew members landing, don’t interact on true missions, or mock missions where they are actually flying the aircraft in the dust with sweaty hands using the equipment, it makes a huge difference,” explained Chief Warrant Officer 4 Gerrit Jenniskens, a tech scout with the 75th IC.

“You see where the failure points are here in a test experimental environment. So, when they get out in the desert or mountain or wherever they are going to be operational, those variable points are reduced. Let’s get it right in the experimental phase,” Jenniskens added.

And that’s ultimately the goal of EDGE — looking to see if the presented systems will be effective solutions and useful for the Army of the future.

“We want to win and bring all our men and women home,” remarked Plumlee.

By Ana Henderson

Revision I-Vis: Compelling Contrast and Color Accuracy [Updated]

Thursday, June 1st, 2023

Sometimes a capability or technology comes along that seems like it should be easy to explain, but really isn’t — at least not without providing an in-person, first-person experience. It was difficult before when comparing polarized vs non-polarized eye pro, and it’s more so the the case now with Revision Military’s “I-Vis” technology for shooting glasses. I-Vis glasses might look like just the latest tactical sunglasses du jour, but there’s a lot of high-tech stuff going on in those lenses. It’s a lens technology that provides significantly increased contrast without losing detail.

That’s a much bigger deal than you might think.

Higher contrast with detail retention is something that even the higher end eye-pro (including Revision’s own) has previously been unable to do. Increasing contrast (or polarizing) a lens has previously by necessity meant blocking some of the light allowed through a lens. This results in a degradation of Gamut Expansion, which is the number of colors an individual can see.

That is no longer the case.

I-Vis Lens Technology

David Reeder

Revision I-Vis ballistic glasses

This article originally ran in October, 2022. It has been updated with additional information and imagery and republished.

We’ll have to get a little bit into color science to explain Gamut Expansion and how it affects your shooting and perception, but the BLUF is this:

It is now possible to injection mold a ballistic lens that delivers markedly (measurably) superior contrast without the previously-necessary reduction in detail.

As Revision explains it, I-Vis will “…expand chroma and enhance the number of colors the user can see.”

The tech is in the dye formulation process.

It is much easier to see it through the lenses than to grasp it based on a few hundred words, but here’s a basic rundown.

There are three types of vision: Photopic, Scotopic, and Mesoptic. Photopic (which uses cones) =color, daylight, and detail. Scotopic (which uses rods) = nighttime, black & white, lack of detail. Traditional tinted shooting lenses increase contrast by moving color reception from photopic toward scotopic, with a corresponding loss of detail.

Color Neutral Lens Tech

The first things to understand are, 1) light is information to the brain, and 2) contrast = differentiation.

I-Vis improves both of those things. It does so by increasing ocular resolution by an estimated 130% or more. It does this with just a marginal reduction in sharpness when compared to a good clear lens and without the significant degradation of true color caused by traditional tinted lenses. Although we haven’t (yet) seen independent testing to confirm that exact number, an initial field expedient trial by media members, some competitive shooters, and (unofficially) some specialized military personnel does seem to corroborate the claim. The eyes of every individual are different, but most people will see a marked difference in contrast and detail using I-Vis vs. traditional tinted contrast eye protection.

Traditional shooting/ballistic glasses typically use a monochromatic lens tint that enhances contrast, often significantly so. However, this reduces the Gamut of Expansion and color accuracy and also increases eye fatigue. To combat this, users engaging in “color critical” tasks use something like a basic smoke-tinted lens that offers no performance benefit other than light reduction.

Dr. Richard Colo, OD, explains in part:

In terms of performance, all shooting glasses have been predicated on what I like to call the wow factor. For decades, people selling glasses for shooting would increase contrast so that we wound having the tint of the month…increase contrast, increase contrast, increase contrast. That became a kind of benchmark in terms of how good a shooting glass lens was. The problem with that is, as you increase the contrast, you reduce the amount of light coming in. As you reduce the amount of light coming in, you’re shifting from photopic detail toward scotopic black and white.

I-Vis glasses are color neutral. This enhances color accuracy, reduces eye fatigue, increases depth perception, and provides greater visual detail.

Eyes make only two movements. One is a “smooth pursuit” movement. The other is “saccadic” movement. Smooth pursuit, which uses cones, is how we pull the trigger. Saccadic, which uses rods, is how we go from one spot to the other – and it’s a thousand times as fast as smooth pursuit. I-Vis lens technology improves contrast (i.e. differentiation) without negatively impacting either. This increases visual performance.

Filtering light

Let’s break it down substantially more Barney-style: I-Vis lenses add more colors to your crayon box.

With more crayons you can draw (i.e. see) with better resolution and depth perception. It’s not that the red object you see becomes “more redder”, it’s that it becomes more of that object’s actual, specific red hue. This effectively reveals things — admittedly sometimes smaller, seemingly inconsequential things — you would otherwise not have seen. Think digital photograph vs. posterized clip art, albeit not always as immediately drastic.

From a performance perspective, particularly in a tactical or other life-or-limb situation, little inconsequential details are often anything but.

Increased contrast without loss of detail allows for accurate recognition of colors. Accurate recognition of colors ensures depth performance and promotes visual comfort.

Image comparison courtesy of Revision Military.

Confident Perspective

In addition to the obvious benefit of improved perception, target acquisition, and the like, increased contrast without corresponding loss of detail improves confidence. Dr. Colo, who also has a degree in psychology, makes a particular point of this in the context of shotgun sports.

“Take for example an average individual in the field wearing a clear lens. That person is out shooting clays. The pupil constricts and depth of field increases. The constricted pupil restricts the blur circle at the back of the eye, increasing the depth of field, and everything is clear.  Going on down a few stations, though, now your pupil dilates. This puts a bit of a fuzzy edge around the target. It’s not the fuzzy edge that might be a problem problem, it’s the potential effect of that fuzzy edge on the shooter’s confidence-doubt that could become the problem.”

“Contrast sells glasses. Detail hits (or breaks) targets.” Dr. Richard Colo

This sort of increased confidence is obviously just as applicable (and potentially far more significant) to someone trying to pick up and identify a moving target through a scope, or notice minute changes in the soil that might indicate an IED, or the presence of a camouflaged threat.

Sid Mitchell of Revision Military

Sid Mitchell of Revision Military (who wears prescription glasses) explaining how I-Vis works, and how it might work to make Rx versions of the lenses.

Environmentally Specific.

Well, ~ish.

There are six tints of I-Vis available, each developed after an extensive theater-specific study of potential AO color palettes using global data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

This provides for five individual tints designed to increase contrast and elevate color recognition in the prevalent terrain of different geographic regions, plus a “general purpose” tint that functions extremely well across the board (if not to the extent of the more specialized lenses).

I-Vis Verso Lenses Eye Protection

It’s hard to adequately and accurately demonstrate how I-Vis impacts color perception, but here’s a crude attempt. This gif begins with Verso lenses in front of the camera, then shows what it looks like without them (and back).

The I-Vis lens line includes:

• Verso 

The most technically complex I-Vis lens, Verso designed for the widest range of environments and settings. This is the general purpose lens one would want if only able to buy one pair. (Visible Light Transmittance/VLT: 19%*)

• Aros

Aros is intended to enhance colors found in typical desert environments. It brings out differences between similar shades of brown, tan, yellow, and orange colors while making man-made structures and objects stand out. (VLT: 12%*)

• Cano

Cano was developed to provide color definition environments dominated by greens, browns, and grays (typified in lush foliage). Cano lenses maximize visual light transmission because they’re designed for densely forested areas with a canopy and shaded terrain. Man-made structures will stand out, as will differences (or changes) in the foreground landscape. (VLT: 37%*)

Revision I-Vis Cano lenses with and without.

This is a look at the same ravine as above, this time using Cano lenses. With, then without, then with again. Use of an animated gif on an electronic screen is necessarily crude – apologies for that.

• Alto

Alto lenses are suited to dry, high-altitude environments dominated by grays, tans, and blues (such as the terrain found in northern Afghanistan).  (VLT: 12%*)

• Clara

Clara lenses were modeled for use in northern Europe, Scandinavia, and the Baltics, and Poland. They’re designed to bring out color definition and contrast in brightly lit areas of white, gray, and blue. Think snowy wooded areas, rocks, mountains, and areas with undulating snowpack. (VLT: 12%*)

• Umbra

Much like Clara, the Umbra dye formulation is intended to improve color contrast in overcast, snow-prominent areas dominated by whites and greys (snowy, rocky areas and mountains).  (VLT: 48%*)

Polarized vs non-polarized is no longer the main choice; now it's a matter of appropriately selecting the correct environmental lens from the Revision Eyewear i-Vis line.

Polarized vs non-polarized is no longer the main choice; now it’s a matter of appropriately selecting the correct environmental lens from the Revision Eyewear i-Vis line.

*VLT may vary +/- 5% based upon eyewear form factor, lens thickness and coatings.

Polarized vs Non-Polarized

To better grasp why i-Vis lens tech is significant, it might be helpful to understand just a little about how polarized vs non-polarized lenses work. Polarized sunglasses provide a sharper image than non-polarized sunglasses. A polarized lens seems to call out better detail than non-polarized lenses while simultaneously doing their main job – cutting the glare of bright light, increasing visual clarity, and reducing eye strain.

Reflected light (light waves bounced off a horizontal surface like water, sand, snow, and pavement) is often worse than bright sunlight, even when direct. That reflective surface glare is where you wring the most advantage from polarized glasses (whether corrective, ballistic, and/or safety glasses) vs. regular sunglasses.

Polarized lenses are great. Many people (myself included) prefer them to non-polarized ones, particularly when on the range, driving, or doing something else outdoors. Unfortunately, the anti-reflective coating used on a polarized sunglass lens to achieve glare mitigation does so by filtering out certain light waves. I won’t pretend to understand all the science, but as I understand it, that anti-glare lens coating is designed to block horizontal light (i.e., shimmer, dazzle, etc.) in particular.  In simplest terms, this means it acts like slats on a window blind, blocking out horizontal rays in particular.

Because some light is blocked, however, some information is lost. That’s why polarized shades aren’t always the best choice for wear on an overcast day, driving in potentially icy conditions, or just looking at digital screens (LCD screen, phone or tablet, etc.). A non-polarized lens doesn’t block glare as well but does a better job of allowing you to see your environment more how it really is. Non-polarized glasses can also provide UV protection, of course, and that’s all anyone needs many times.

Revision’s i-Vis glasses provide many of the advantages of polarized options, vis-a-vis horizontal light waves, contrast, etc., without the reduction of information that comes from polarized light. My Speed Demons (the metal frame i-Vis option) do a great job blocking reflection and providing contrast, but I don’t know how (or if) they protect UV light/UV rays. I’ll have to find that out.

I-Vis EyePro Features

Prior to i-Vis, the most common eye pro comparisons boiled down to ballistic vs impact protective, and polarized vs non-polarized. This lens technology has greatly changed those limitations.

Prior to i-Vis, the most common eye pro comparisons boiled down to ballistic vs impact protective, and polarized vs non-polarized. This lens technology has greatly changed those limitations.

Options Available

Initial styles of I-Vis will include Stingerhawk spectacles and Snowhawk goggles. There will be other styles and models in the future however, all focusing on what Revision’s Sid Mitchell views as the necessary trifecta of modern eye protection: protection, performance, and style.*

The Stingerhawk spectacle system will be available in I-Vis.

So will Snowhawk goggles.

*Style might seem trivial in the context of form vs. function, but it’s not. Not when style and aesthetics directly impact the use of eye pro off the battlefield – which it does. This was true before, when debating the relative merits of polarized vs non-polarized lenses, and it remains true now that i-Vis has entered the chat.

Learn more at RevisionMilitary.com.

DRW

Pacific Air Forces Airmen Test Next Generation Aircrew Protection Equipment

Thursday, June 1st, 2023

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFNS) —  

If you’ve spent time in the Indo-Pacific region, you’ve likely heard the term “Fight Tonight” more than once and for good reason. Pacific Air Forces Airmen are on the forefront of operations in ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific, and these operations come with a need to be ready, diverse, innovative and lethal.

We have been charged with challenging the status quo, operationalizing resourcefulness and adopting concepts and technologies that drive the readiness, resilience and lethality of the force.

One of the most recent advances added to the PACAF portfolio involves the U.S. Air Force Next Generation Aircrew Protection, or NGAP, effort.

Airmen with the 15th Wing and 154th Fighter Squadron on Hickam Air Force Base tested and trained on the F-22 Raptor using the innovative Step-Launch and Recover, or SLR, concept of operation and the critical data provided by the NGAP effort. SLR allows for the aircrew to safely generate sorties in a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear, or CBRN, contaminated environment.

“The ability to confidently operate in less-than-optimal conditions is vital for our aircrew,” said Gen. Ken Wilsbach, PACAF commander. “SLR and NGAP capabilities ensure our ability to fight tonight with an enhanced level of protection for our Airmen who may be operating in a CBRN-threatened environment.”

The current solution for pilots is to use the Aircrew Eye and Respiratory Protection System, which was initially developed during the Gulf War and is not agile enough to allow for scaled protections against current CBRN threats. The legacy mask ensemble risks degradation to aircrew performance and combat effectiveness due to its bulk and impact on dexterity. While this is the current solution for most ejection seat airframes, the F-22 doesn’t have an effective CBRN mask—making it even more essential to innovate to find an adaptive solution for our warfighters.

This new process uses the modified M-50 ground crew mask—the same one that’s used with Mission Oriented Protective Posture, or MOPP, gear—and two-layer nitrile gloves worn under the standard flight glove and allows aircrew to safely execute take-off and landing procedures in a chemically contested environment without the thermal burden and loss of dexterity.

“This method of CBRN protection provided me not only the dexterity but also the visibility I needed while in the cockpit,” said Capt. Alex Moss, 19th Fighter Squadron F-22 pilot.

The concept of SLR was originally generated by a series of events set in motion during the North Korea pressure campaign in 2018. 

“The ability to use an innovative science-informed concept like SLR immediately restored combat capability options in a CBRN contested environment to our Indo-Pacific Command commanders,” said Senior Master Sgt. Ryan Rios, PACAF Command Aircrew Flight Equipment lead. “This is the type of flexibility that provides game-changing combat power and removes options from our near-peer adversaries to degrade our capabilities.”

Based on a need to unencumber the pilot, a team of cross functional experts from Headquarters Air Force A10, PACAF, Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Combat Command, the Air Force CBRN Defense Systems Branch, the Joint Program Executive Office for CBRN Defense, and numerous other organizations began looking at the ability of the on-aircraft environmental control system—or air conditioner—to remove and purge chemical vapor contamination from the cockpit

“The assumption was that if a chemical vapor threat could be purged and mitigated, the pilot could fly with a decreased level of protection,” said Col. Paul Hendrickson, Air Force CBRN Defense Systems Branch Materiel leader. “The initial findings were positive, and the NGAP effort was launched to characterize the environments our pilots and aircrew could face in order to allow for the creation of risk-informed operational techniques and new materiel solutions.

To date, the joint team has tested F-15, F-16, F-22, A-10 and C-130 aircraft and provided the data to commanders to allow them to make risk-based decisions based on the threat, ultimately transitioning the aircrew to the aircraft without additional contamination.

The team at Hickam AFB tested this process for the F-22. The pilot donned protective gear and the M-50 mask, went to the aircraft, purged the simulated contaminants before removing the mask, and simulated conducting a mission before reversing the process and going through an expedited decontamination line

“Using science and technology to ensure we are developing the right materiel solutions for the future fight is a game-changing mentality,”  said Steve Singleton, Air Force CBRN Defense Systems Branch NGAP program manager. “It gives us huge flexibility as materiel developers to develop pertinent solutions at the speed of relevance to protect the warfighter and support mission effectiveness.”

Throughout the F-22 SLR testing procedure, all involved were notating any shortfalls or limiting factors for further examination.

“The ability to work directly with the warfighter to provide relevant and mission enhancing information that allows them to conduct their operations safely while maximizing protection in a chemical environment is a huge win for the work the team has done over the last five years,” said 1st Lt. Gunnar Kral, Air Force CBRN Defense Systems Branch, CBRN aircrew protection lead engineer.

The events at Hickam AFB were capped off with the opportunity to showcase the successful efforts of all involved to the commander of PACAF, highlighting how these practical, risk-based decisions are allowing his wing commanders to Fight Tonight.

“These operationally relevant capabilities give commanders decision superiority to generate combat sorties safely in a chemical environment while maximizing aircrew performance,” Hendrickson said. “This is something that can truly help shape how the warfighter fights over the next decade. The work we’re doing here will save an Airman’s life.”

By TSgt Hailey Haux, Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs, and Col Paul Hendrickson Air Force CBRN Defense System Branch

Some photos by MSgt Mysti Bicoy

AFSOC Uses Video Game–Like Simulation Training, Adds Realistic, World-Wide Value

Tuesday, May 30th, 2023

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. —  

Imagine you’re at home, playing your favorite online warfighting video game with friends from different parts of the country –each with a different contribution to the overall effort. Your goal? Mission success!

After eight months of planning and mission rehearsal, all five U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) components did just that for the first time in conjunction with the 16th annual Air Force Special Operation Command (AFSOC) hosted Emerald Warrior exercise.

Connected virtually across six separate geographic locations, SOF participants “gamed” using a mix of local, distant, and virtual players. Specifically, the players included an AC-130J (constructive) and MQ-9 crew from Hurlburt Field, MQ-9 and CV-22 crews from Cannon AFB, a MH-60 crew from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and three groups of Joint Terminal Attack Controller’s from Naval Special Warfare, Marine Special Operations Command and Joint Special Operations Command.

The objective was to capture and collect all information from a person of interest to eliminate a threat against the U.S. and our allies within a constructed virtual environment.

“This was a USSOCOM initiative we were able to turn into a reality and yet another pathfinding step towards SOF components being able to fully exercise in a distributed mission operation (DMO) network,” said Mr. Bill Spicer, Emerald Warrior virtual planner.

The AFSOC Air, Space and Information Operations directorate, or A3, and EW planners led the effort from the 492d Special Operations Wing Operations Center and aircraft simulator facilities.

“Future technology continues to challenge current training capabilities with the introduction of virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed/extended reality, “said Lt. Col. Heather Demis, C-146 pilot and DMO chief of readiness training. “While there are rigorous cyber security requirements and minor occasional technical issues between software and hardware compatibility, once connected, the simulators allow for streamlined joint and combined interoperability.”

These devices can be connected across the world to ensure the warfighter can train, exercise and implement tactic, techniques and procedures (TTPs) in any environment to prepare for real-world events and missions.

“The future of DMO events will include extended reality for any AFSOC platform in a network exercise through the newest AFSOC Emulator System which is currently projected to be on network for Bold Quest, a joint staff test and evaluation event,” said Demis.

With this notable success, AFSOC hopes to continue to push the envelope for DMO with more participation worldwide across not only SOF units but also allies and partner nations in training our warfighters to succeed on any battlefield. 

“Now that we are in the era of strategic competition, we must adapt and look for opportunities to innovate and transform to remain the most capable, most lethal Air Force in the world,” said Demis. “And with wins like DMO…. that’s exactly what AFSOC is doing.”

By 2d Lt Cassandra Saphore, AFSOC Public Affairs

AOC FTU Augments Austere Challenge 2023

Monday, May 29th, 2023

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – The 505th Training Squadron sent air operations center subject matter experts to Ramstein Air Base to support U.S. European Command’s execution of exercise Austere Challenge 2023 from May 5 – 12 to practice coordinating a response to a fictional major crisis.

The exercise brought together military and civilian personnel from EUCOM forces and its components to contribute virtually across Europe in the weeklong command post exercise. U.S. Army Europe-Africa, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe/Africa, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, and U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Africa participated alongside an additional 11 North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, partner nations.

Building on the augmentation the 505th Command and Control Wing provided to U.S. Air Forces in Europe following the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022, the 505th Training Squadron continues to provide training, advising, and assistance to support 603rd AOC execution.

“As an instructor in our systems administration course, my job is to ensure our students are prepared to manage and perform defensive cyber operations in support of combatant commander priorities,” said Master Sgt. Donald Keefer, 505th TRS systems flight chief, Hurlburt Field, Florida. “The lessons learned from this exercise, and the operational experience I received, will directly impact the 1,600 students we graduate annually here at the 505th Training Squadron and send to air components around the world.”

In addition to cyber defense expertise, the 505th Training Squadron also sent personnel with expertise in combat airspace and command and control battle management operations. As the AOC Formal Training Unit, the 505th Training Squadron routinely sends subject matter experts to support air components during exercises and real-world contingencies.

The intent of Austere Challenge 2023 was to prepare ready forces, validate strategic access, exercise deterrence principles, and integrate and synchronize with the NATO alliance.  

“The expertise we have in this squadron is unmatched. We routinely leverage opportunities to participate in combatant command exercises to better prepare the joint force, allies, and partners to execute large-scale combat operations,” said Lt. Col. Jason Gossett, 505th Training Squadron commander. “Additionally, participating in these events ensures our instructor cadre remain proficient in operating the AOC Weapon System.”

The 505th Training Squadron is responsible for preparing graduates to operate the AOC Weapon System, graduating more than 1,600 joint and coalition personnel annually. Additionally, the squadron teaches 13 initial qualification courses in the weapon system, including an Integrated Air and Missile Defense Course, a Joint AOC C2 Course, and an academic instructor course. Graduates from the 505th Training Squadron serve in all combatant commands.

By Deb Henley

505th Command and Control Wing

Public Affairs

The Mystery Ranch Honor Pack Is Key To Healing For Station Foundation Participants

Sunday, May 28th, 2023

There are times when we can use what we do best to create impact, to create meaning, and to create something bigger than a backpack. This was one of those times. We are incredibly proud to support the Station Foundation and recently completed these special HONOR PACKS for their program participants.

In their programs, they honor their Fallen Warriors with a sacred ritual. Each night, they gather on the edge of the wilderness while carrying a large river rock in their MR packs. These rocks are hand-picked along the Gallatin River. Some are plain, others are adorned to honor those they hike for.

Together, they hike in silence to a memorial built stone by stone, standing as a symbol of the weight they all carry inside and the courage it takes to leave it behind.

“For the past ten years, the sons and daughters of our fallen Special Operations Warriors have come to The Station Foundation to heal and grow beyond tragic loss. It’s here, in the beautiful backcountry of Montana, where we come together to honor the Fallen, celebrate their legacies, and guide their children into the lives they are destined to live. These are special kids who answer their calling and discover authentic healing in a community that chooses never to forget.

Throughout this powerful journey, one special partner shows up every year: MYSTERY RANCH. The MYSTERY RANCH family has quietly supported our Gold Star Students for over a decade and continues to find special ways to say ‘we care’ in the Special Operations Community.

This ‘HONOR PACK’ elevates the lives of those quiet professionals who left us too early, and who are missed dearly. It reminds us of the costs of war and the things we carry home. Most of all, the HONOR PACK carries the weight through our wilderness until we are ready to put it down.

MYSTERY RANCH has always been there when we needed them. We’ve relied on their packs in combat and now depend upon their love on our journey home. This pack is a symbol of strength, hope, and of life beyond war. It is a testament to great people showing up to make a difference. We may Never Forget– MYSTERY RANCH has our backs.”

– Kevin Stacy, Station Foundation Founder & Executive Director

Purdue Receives $5 million Lilly Endowment grant to support Military Family Research Institute

Sunday, May 28th, 2023

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A $5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. will provide continued support during the next three years for the work Purdue University’s Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) does to improve the lives of military families and veterans.

This grant, which includes $3.5 million in outright funding and $1.5 million in matching funds, will help MFRI enhance its robust support networks. The grant period is from March 1, 2023, to June 30, 2026. 

“We at MFRI are honored and humbled by this funding,” said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, MFRI director and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science in Purdue’s College of Health and Human Sciences. “Over the past 16 years, support from Lilly Endowment has made it possible for MFRI to deeply understand the vulnerabilities – and the resilience – of military and veteran families and to quickly develop and test new ways to help them confront the challenges and barriers placed in their way. We are excited about the opportunities ahead and look forward to expanding our work with partners at Purdue, across Indiana and around the country.”

Specifically, the grant will assist military and veteran families by:

• Supporting their military communities by cultivating continuity between military and civilian organizations, building and sustaining linkages among the systems surrounding military families, and promoting synergy in their efforts.

• Strengthening the motivation and capacity of their civilian communities to support military and veteran families through improved preparedness and coordination.

• Generating important new knowledge about their needs and circumstances.

• Assisting veterans as they transition to civilian life.

• Influencing pertinent programs, policies and practices by initiating, building and sustaining productive working relationships with existing and potential partners, while also raising awareness and shaping the thoughts and actions of the broader community.

• Growing and sustaining vibrant learning across all focus areas, with the goal of enhancing professional opportunities for veterans and military families.

“MFRI has demonstrated scholarly excellence for more than two decades, conducting groundbreaking studies that influence programs, practices and policies,” said Mung Chiang, Purdue University president. “Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth has earned an international reputation as a scholar who has led MFRI in developing innovative research and programs that have received numerous awards at Purdue and nationally. We are proud to serve as such an important resource for supporting the quality of life for military and veteran families.”

With guidance from MacDermid Wadsworth, MFRI was created at Purdue in 2000. The organization works to expand opportunities for military members, veterans and their families by providing research to help mental health providers, public policymakers, employers and leaders in higher education better understand the issues affecting the military community. This includes helping civilian leaders see the value of bringing military and veteran families into community leadership roles. 

MFRI uses support from Lilly Endowment and other funders to strengthen the capacity of community organizations and systems to promote and build the resilience of military and veteran families. Innovations created by MFRI and its partners are operating across the country in several key areas: 

• Policy: The Measuring Communities program provides stakeholders in cities, towns and rural areas across the U.S. with data that supports good decision-making about how best to support military and veteran families.

• Behavioral health: The Star Behavioral Health Providers program makes it easier for military and veteran families to connect with well-trained therapists in their local communities. The Reaching Rural Veterans program brings community organizations together to address food and housing insecurity among high-need veterans in rural areas.

• Higher education: The Focus Forward Fellowship program promotes academic and career achievements among female student veterans nationwide. MFRI collaborates with faculty and provides learning opportunities for students in diverse disciplines ranging from computer graphics technology and data science to counseling and human development and family science.

• Programming: In communities across Indiana, MFRI brings together clinicians, community leaders and legal experts at the annual Battlemind to Home Summit to educate them about the newest scientific evidence, programs and policies that will help them address needs in the military and veteran communities. Through the annual Barbara Thompson Excellence Award competition, MFRI brings researchers and practitioners together to “narrow the gap between the laboratory and the living room.”

• Collaboration: MFRI partners extensively with military and government organizations as well as national, state and local nonprofits to help them do their work better through improved preparedness and coordination, with strong attention to relevant scientific evidence and data.

“Veterans and military families have done so much for the benefit of our country,” said N. Clay Robbins, Lilly Endowment’s chairman and CEO. “Their challenges and aspirations are much better understood because of MFRI’s outstanding research and analysis, which helps government and military leaders and concerned citizens know how to help veterans and their families lead more satisfying lives. Lilly Endowment is pleased that its support will help MFRI continue and enhance its important research efforts as well as the programs it has developed for the benefit of veterans and military families.”

Individuals or organizations interested in doubling the impact of their gifts in support of MFRI’s efforts to assist veterans and military families should contact Jim Priest, director of foundation relations at Purdue for Life Foundation, at [email protected] to learn about matching opportunities through Lilly Endowment’s grant.