Preparing Airmen to Return With Honor

BRANDON, SFK, UNITED KINGDOM 04.06.2018 Story by Airman 1st Class Elijah Chevalier  48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs  ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England – The last thing a pilot or aircrew member needs to be thinking about in the air is how they are going to survive on the ground if the worst was to happen. Survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists ensure aircrew members have the peace of mind of knowing they are fully capable of enduring harsh conditions on their own while utilizing survival techniques to increase their probability of a safe and successful recovery in any environment. “Our moto in SERE is to ‘Return With Honor,’” said a SERE specialist from the 57th Rescue Squadron. “Aircrew survival school was first introduced in 1940s and from that, [prisoners of war] were able to look at themselves in the mirror and know that they survived with honor.” While most Airmen are trained to perform a tasks related to their career field, SERE specialists are trained to not only perform, but teach SERE related concepts. This includes water survival training, parachute training, severe environment training and anything else deemed necessary. “We are the subject matter experts when it comes to an aircrews’ training,” said the 57th RQS SERE specialist. “We understand the physical psychological stressors that aircrews go through when they find themselves in a survival situation, the task saturation, and what the environment is doing to their faculties, both physically and mentally.” This intimate knowledge of what it’s like being alone and pursued allows SERE specialists to provide unique insight on the state of mind of individuals in need of rescue. This information is used by rescue teams comprised of pararescuemen and combat rescue officers to facilitate a smooth recovery. “I take a lot of pride in my job,” said a SERE specialist assigned to the 48th Operations Support Squadron. “I love doing SERE. We have to try and knock the training out of the park each time, so we give them the skills they need to survive.” In the past 15 years, SERE specialists have provided lifesaving training to over 200,000 personnel from across all branches of the military, so operators and aircrew have the knowledge and confidence to stay focused on the mission while in the air, in the water or anywhere else they may find themselves around the globe.   For more stories like this on Specialtactics.com, click HERE

Read more

AFRL enhances survival tools for isolated Airmen

(EDITORS NOTE: Stop for a second, look & read the picture w/ caption.  That is HILARIOUS.) WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OH, UNITED STATES 04.13.2018 Story by Donna Lindner  Air Force Research Laboratory – Survival — it’s the first thing an ejected pilot contemplates once safely on the ground. A survival situation could span days and the Air Force is taking advantage of advancements in technology to allow ejected pilots to survive for longer periods of time. Researchers from the Junior Force Warfighters Operations in the Air Force Research Laboratory Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, are increasing a pilot’s capability to survive, escape and evade through near-term, short-turnaround projects. “We are developing materials that will last longer in operational environments so that isolated personnel have the equipment readily available,” said Capt. Jason Goins, JFWORX team member. A subteam of JFWORX, the Ejection Seat Survival Kit Enhancement, Modernization and Optimization team, are working to improve the current ejection seat survival kit for the Air Force. The kit contains over 50 items, broken down into subprojects, with the first project being the survival knife for improved survive, escape, resist, and evade operations. JFWORX is evaluating different types of steels, varying edge grinds and blade shapes for the new knife. The team performed field tests with various commercially available knives. The blades are tested to see how quickly they dull with an edge retention test. A knife made of harder steel will hold an edge well, but is difficult to sharpen and is likewise brittle. Based on the initial JFWORX technical evaluation, the team selected 60 knives for end user testing by the 22nd Training Squadron and 336th Training Group at Fairchild AFB, Washington. A concurrence on the best knife will be determined and then recommended to the Air Force for inclusion in the survival kit. The 336th Training Group is the Air Force’s sole unit responsible for SERE specialists and train more than 6,000 students from Fairchild AFB, alone. “SERE specialists are trained to survive anywhere in the world and are the best trained personnel recovery subject matters experts,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Torres of the 22TRS and 336TRG. “The foundation of everything we do is the ability to relate information that is known or discovered to provide the best possible life-preserving equipment to the future isolated person should they require it.” According to Torres, the JFWORX team is invaluable to improving this SERE equipment. “Getting the opportunity to try out new knives gave me more insight on what would be more practical and useful for a downed pilot. I am excited to see an improvement on kits that have not changed through the ages,” said Senior Airman Kyle Alvarez of the 22TRS and 336TRG. A modernized survival kit enables the warfighter to survive with updated tools. Sharp knives for food, water for drinking and medical bags for first-aid are just three of the improvements currently being worked for the kit. “The overall goal of JFWORX is to provide personnel with the opportunity to rapidly identify and develop solutions to time-critical operational needs,” said Capt. Goins. “Emphasis is placed on increasing our customer-centric focus and forming partnerships with other operational units.” JFWORX projects are managed entirely by its members, who are military and civilian employees of the lab. Their projects are designed with the warfighter in mind. J.D. Bales, a mechanical engineer in the AFRL, is one of the newer members on the team. “I was excited to work on a team where my ideas and insights were heard,” said Bales. “Brainstorming on projects with many viewpoints is always good.” Supplying Airmen with advanced state-of-the-art survival kits is just one of the many projects the team works continuously.   For more stories like these, click HERE

Read more

920th Rescue Wing pays tribute to fallen pararescuemen during memorial

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, FL, UNITED STATES 03.27.2018 Story by Tech. Sgt. Lindsey Maurice  920th Rescue Wing/Public Affairs  It was a roller coaster of emotions for the approximately 1,500 people who joined together from across the globe to pay tribute to pararescuemen Master Sgt. William Posch and Staff Sgt. Carl Enis March 27, 2018 in aircraft Hangar 750. The pararescuemen assigned to the 308th Rescue Squadron were two of the seven Airmen killed in an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crash in Anbar Province, Iraq, March 15, 2018. “Today is a day in which we should remember the joy, the laughter, the magnanimous life of Bill and Carl and the entire crew of Jolly 51,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Hanks, 308th RQS commander. “Today is another day in our healing process for family, friends, teammates, and the community. It is a day in which we recognize the pain is real and still raw, but it is also the day we celebrate the lives of our fallen heroes.” All eyes were on the families of the fallen as their 60-vehicle motorcade of military and civilian police, SWAT teams and veteran motorcyclists arrived at the hangar. The crowd of predominately camouflage uniforms became still at the presentation of the colors followed by a steel-guitar solo performance of the National Anthem by pararescueman retired Chief Master Sgt. Robert Disney. “You may be asking yourselves why the multicam and field uniforms for this ceremony,” said 1st Lt. Dan Warren, 212th Rescue Squadron combat rescue officer and master of ceremonies. “It’s our way of honoring warriors killed in action. Most of the 308th Rescue Squadron is still deployed to a combat theater on alert every day unable to attend their own teammates’ memorial. They can’t wear blues and Bill’s and Carl’s funerals will be the place where we honor their legacy in dress blues and pushups. This is a celebration of the lives and legacies of these fallen heroes.” The brotherly love of the Guardian Angel community was at the forefront of the ceremony as fellow PJs and combat rescue officers traveled from as far as England, Alaska, Oregon, Arizona, and Georgia among other locations to show their support for the families. The maroon sea of their maroon berets filling the seats directly behind the family and the entire right side of the hangar was a visual statement of their support. Guardian Angel is comprised of CROs; PJs; survival, evasion, resistance, and escape specialists and uniquely trained support personnel dedicated to the Air Force core function of personnel recovery. “Over the past week I’ve had the honor and the privilege to be with our gold star families and hear their stories how they as wives, mothers, sisters, brothers, family and friends remember Bill and Carl,” Hanks said. “You have paid the ultimate sacrifice as well. Please know with this loss you’ve also gained 1,000 sons, brothers, uncles, sisters and fathers. You can call anywhere around the world and mention who you are and any of these men amongst you will drop everything to meet your request.” The lives deeply touched by the two American heroes was evident as speaker after speaker took to the podium sharing sentimental memories and hilarious tales of embarrassing blunders, adrenaline-fueled adventures and the good times. “I’ve known Bill and Carl for an incredibly long time.” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Langley, 308th RQS pararescueman who met Posch through lifeguarding as a teenager and Enis in college at Florida State University. “We are all better for knowing these two. They taught us so much about life and they have made the world such an entertaining place. We should always celebrate the great times, the rescues, the laughter and the memories.” Posch was raised in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, where he spent much of his teenage years lifeguarding for the Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue. In 2000, he enlisted into the Air Force and graduated from the Pararescue Apprentice Course in 2003. After leaving active duty, Posch became a traditional reservist at the 308th RQS. In 2010, he began working full time at the unit. He was a combat veteran who participated in numerous joint special operations missions and tactical deployments. He supported major military operations at home and abroad including Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, Joint Task Force Katrina, JTF NASA Space Shuttle launch and recovery, and JTF Harvey, where he and his fellow rescue warriors saved 235 hurricane victims in Texas. In 2013, Posch was named one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. But of all his accomplishments, each person to take the podium noted that Posch’s proudest moments came with fatherhood. “Every time I spoke with him, that’s what he talked about – how much he loved his boys and how much he loved being a father,” said Senior Master[…]

Read more

Alaska National Guardsmen support Arctic Ocean Ice Exercise

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, ALASKA, AK, UNITED STATES 03.09.2018 Story by Sgt. David Bedard  Alaska National Guard Public Affairs  To most people – even Alaskans who are accustomed to the cold – the North Pole might as well be the surface of the moon in terms of its remoteness and hostility to the prospects of human survival. Whereas the South Pole is located over the bedrock of the Antarctic continental land mass, the North Pole is an unmoored collection of perpetually shifting ice sheets covering the inky depths of the Arctic Ocean. The only thing that is permanent there is the frigid air. When the cargo ramp of the 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II opened, the full force of the North Pole cold spilled into the aircraft’s interior hold. Alaska Air National Guard Maj. Brock Roden, a combat rescue officer with the 212th Rescue Squadron, stood up under the burden of a survival rucksack rigged between his legs. His face was wrapped tightly in a thermal mask to ward off flash frostbite. When the call was given to jump, Roden and his stick of Guardian Angels waddled like penguin parachutists toward the edge of the ramp and stepped into the minus 28-degree Fahrenheit air. After he verified he was descending under a fully deployed parachute canopy, Roden scanned the landscape below to ensure he wouldn’t touch down in open water or a craggy convergence of overlapping sea ice. Once he landed, Roden’s primary mission began: linking up with Arctic Sustainment Package equipment at the U.S. Navy’s Ice Camp Skate in an effort to survive and thrive in some of the most foreboding environmental conditions on the planet. More than 50 Alaska National Guardsmen supported the Navy’s Ice Exercise several hundred miles north of the Alaska coastline February and March 2018. The training was linked to the Alaska National Guard’s Arctic Eagle 2018, a statewide exercise involving national, state and local agencies designed to provide opportunities for participants to conduct sustained operations in Arctic conditions. The Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th Wing supported preparation for the exercise with airdrop missions by partnering with U.S. Marine Corps riggers from 1st Air Delivery Platoon, Landing Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, to palletize U.S. Navy equipment and conduct air drop operations via a 249th Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III aircraft on to the Beaufort Sea. The Arctic Sustainment Package is a rapidly deployable air-droppable package, including Guardian Angels, that can provide shelter, heat, transportation, fuel and food for 28 people for up to six and a half days in extreme Arctic conditions. “This was the first time the Arctic Sustainment Package has been dropped from our new HC-130J after receiving four new models last year,” said Alaska Air National Guard Lt. Col. Eric Budd, 211th RQS commander. “The ASP has been dropped out of a C-17 before, but it was finally nice to drop it out of our aircraft.” The package was a key piece of the exercise for Airmen of the 212th RQS as well. “The PJ training objective is to exercise and validate use of the Arctic Sustainment Package in a remote, austere Arctic environment such as the icepack of the Arctic Ocean,” Roden said. The officer said his team verified seemingly small things such as using camp stoves with liquid fuel versus white gas. Little things can become critically important in the Arctic, and having an operating stove can mean the difference between enjoying a hot meal or trying to eat a frozen entree. Because PJs are skilled medics, Roden said they also trained in maintaining intravenous infusion bags and monitoring the health of the 28 people at the camp. Ice Camp Skate is named after the attack submarine USS Skate, which was the first submarine to break through the ice March 17, 1959. Submarines that participated in the exercise were the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) from Bangor, Washington; the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) from Groton, Connecticut; and the Royal Navy’s Trafalgar-class HMS Trenchant. “The first [training] objective is conduct Arctic readiness of our submarine force,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. James Pitts, commander of the Undersea Warfighting Development Center, San Diego. “A subset of that objective is we’re going to test some of our newest exercise torpedoes and verify they react in the real environment here the way we expect them to react in modeling and simulation.” Pitts explained why the Navy invites Department of Defense partners like the pararescuemen to Ice Camp Skate. “We open the ice base camp to other DoD or academic partners to do exercises or testing they would like to accomplish, taking advantage of an ice camp floating on an ice floe in the Beaufort Sea,” the admiral said. Fighting through snowstorms[…]

Read more

Joint Air Force, Army team enhances Afghanistan rescue mission

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN 03.09.2018 Story by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook  455th Air Expeditionary Wing   The night is dark. The air is heavy, filled with the smoke and dust of Afghanistan. On the flightline at Bagram Airfield, a U.S. Army CH-47F Chinook helicopter sits beating thunder with its blades against the sky, waiting.  An 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel team, which consists of pararescuemen and combat rescue officers, runs out and boards. As the Guardian Angles settle into their seats, the pilots on the Chinook begin their takeoff protocol. The helicopter takes off against the night sky over the mountainous terrain. During the ensuing flight, two teams will conduct a personnel recovery exercise, testing their capability to work together as they extricate simulated casualties from a downed aircraft. For the first time during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force are working together to execute personnel recovery. “Personnel recovery is a no-fail strategic mission,” said Maj. Robert Wilson, 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron commander. “The interoperability between the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force, by way of the CH-47F, has enabled our Guardian Angel teams to effectively conduct a wide variety of PR operations in ways not previously attainable.” Executing PR missions with CH-47Fs gives the seven-man Guardian Angel team unique advantages; such as an increased capacity to recover a larger number of isolated personnel and the ability to fly further and higher than previous platforms allowed. “This partnership strengthens the resolve of those fighting on the ground and in the air to fight harder and longer, knowing that someone will always have their back,” said Wilson. The Chinook is a twin-turbine, tandem-rotor, heavy lift transport helicopter with a useful load of up to 25,000 lbs. With its high altitude and payload capability, the CH-47F is vital to operations overseas, such as OFS. Its capabilities include medical evacuation, aircraft recovery, parachute drops, disaster relief, and combat search and rescue. “I’ve been flying CH-47 models for 22 years,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Shawn Miller, CH-47F pilot with the South Carolina Army National Guard. “This is an unprecedented tasking. Never in its history has an Army unit been tasked to provide dedicated aviation assets and crew to conduct joint personnel recovery operations.” Miller’s team is also joined by the Illinois Army National Guard. The CH-47F model, with its enhanced capabilities, combined with the combat search and rescue mission set, allows the team as a whole to transport more personnel and essential equipment higher, further distances, and offer longer on-scene station times than ever before, Miller added. As the conflict over the last 17 years has proven time and time again, joint operations between services capitalize on the unique skillset each branch brings to the fight. “The CH-47F’s speed, size, and range increases Guardian Angel rescue team’s ability to project the full gambit of rescue capabilities across the area of operations, bringing lifesaving capabilities to U.S. and coalition forces in need,” said an 83rd ERQS combat rescue officer. The larger aircraft means a larger Army ground security team, which minimizes the threat to the GA forces and allows them to solely focus on the rescue. “[Additionally] having the ability to load our entire team onto a single airframe greatly enhances our span of control of our technical rescue specialties and the ability to treat multiple patients at once,” added the CRO. The aircraft can move up to three litter or 15 ambulatory patients, depending on how the aircraft is configured. While the CH-47Fs provide many advantages, they are not without their own unique set of risks as well. “Yes, this aircraft has more space, power and fuel capacity, but it is also a bigger aircraft, hence a bigger target,” said an 83rd ERQS pararescueman, also known as a PJ. “Flying in a Chinook has its benefits, but like everything, you take the good with the bad.” For missions in Afghanistan, because of its high altitudes and current enemy threats, the benefits seem to outweigh the risks of using a different system. Especially in terms of the varied mission sets required of the PR enterprise. “As a team we are highly trained in a wide variety of technical rescue specialties, which can also require a large amount of professional gear,” said the PJ. “These specialties can range from high angle/alpine rescue…to scuba diving.” The pararescue team also specializes in cold weather/avalanche or snow and ice rescue, collapsed structure/confined space extrication, or many different forms of jump operations in static-line or free-fall configuration. “On top of all that we still have gear for our main purpose, which is para-medicine. So having said that, using the Chinook allows us to utilize a team to its full capacity.” Using the teams to their full capacity is all about strengthening the resolve of those[…]

Read more

Memorial celebrates fallen CRO

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, GA, UNITED STATES 03.21.2018 Story by Andrea Jenkins  Moody Air Force Base  More than 1,000 Airmen, family and friends gathered to say their final goodbyes and honor the life of Capt. Mark Weber during a memorial service, March 21, here. Weber, a Combat Rescue Officer (CRO) with the 38th Rescue Squadron (RQS), was killed in helicopter crash in Anbar Province, Iraq, March 15. “It’s apparent to everyone that you cannot replace someone of the caliber of Mark Weber,” said Maj. Jason Egger, 38th RQS commander “Instead, it is now left to us to carry his memory forward and pay tribute to him and live up to his truly exceptional example.” As a CRO, Weber was trained to direct combatant command and control of Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) operations and to plan, manage and execute CSAR tasks. Weber was hand-selected to fulfill these duties while augmenting the 308th RQS from Patrick AFB, Fla., for his first deployment. “Mark has become part of the storied legacy of combat rescue officers and pararescuemen who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Egger. “It is now up to us who continue to wear the beret, to honor that sacrifice and to understand that our words and our actions carry the full weight of our fallen comrades. We should strive to ensure that we never fall short of the standard of excellence and honor defined by those who have gone before us.” Throughout the memorial, fellow Guardian Angels reflected on the character, service and outstanding leadership of the Bartonville, Texas native. “Capt. Weber was forever focused on the men under his command,” said Senior Airman Daniel, a 38th RQS pararescueman who worked closely with Weber. “In the pool, he would help the last team member across before surfacing for his own breath. On a ruck, I watched him carry a teammate whose body had quit. When the team screwed up, it was Capt. Weber who shouldered the responsibility. I never saw him tired and I never saw him afraid – not because he didn’t feel pain or experience fear, but he placed his duty before his own personal desires and comforts.” Weber graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2011 as a contracting officer, but felt a strong calling to do more. Upon entering the CRO training pipeline, he met fellow 38th RQS CRO and close personal friend, Capt. Ryan, who thanked him and gave him a promise to continue the mission of saving lives. “I would like to thank Mark for all that he has taught me in the past four years … thank you for your hard work and dedication,” Ryan said. “I’m sorry it was you this time. We will do everything we can to continue with the mission of saving lives, I promise you that.” The ceremony ended in the George W. Bush airpark where Rescue Airmen from the 347th and 563d Rescue Groups completed a round of memorial pushups to honor their fallen teammate. For the original story with add’l pictures, visit DVIDS To see more stories like this on Specialtactics.com, visit Operator News.  

Read more

Catalyzing joint personnel recovery operations

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England — The 48th Fighter Wing welcomed back deployed members of the 57th Rescue Squadron here, Feb. 8. Guardian Angel teams comprised of pararescuemen and combat rescue officers returned from a deployment in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, where they were part of the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron. While they usually work with HH-60 Pave Hawks or HC-130J Super Hercules, the deployed Guardian Angel rescue teams integrated their mission skill set with U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook crews as part of Air Force Central Command’s first dedicated joint personnel recovery team. “As the [Department of Defense] continues to enhance joint capabilities, so must personnel recovery evolve to provide the most capable and efficient means of rescue for isolated personnel,” said the 83rd ERQS director of operations. “CH-47Fs provide the most capable rotary wing platform in Afghanistan, enhancing our operational factors of space, time and force.” Army Chinooks give Guardian Angel teams an enhanced capability given the current operational environment. The larger aircraft provides more room for equipment and personnel. The Chinooks also fly higher and farther than their Air Force counterparts. “Of all my previous deployments where I’ve filled the commander role, I will say this one has been the smoothest in regards to building relationships,” said the 83rd ERQS commander. “The Army crews are very customer orientated, experienced and have been very easy to integrate with.” The relationship built between the Army crews and Air Force Guardian Angel teams provides the bedrock for future joint PR recovery operations, aiding in the delivery of decisive airpower for U.S. Central Command, ally nations and America. By Airman 1st Class Eli Chevalier, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs / Published February 09, 2018

Read more

353rd Special Operations Group wraps up Cobra Gold 2018

U-TAPAO, THAILAND 02.23.2018 Story by Capt. Jessica Tait  353rd Special Operations Group  (DVIDSHUB.NET) The 353rd SOG trained side-by-side with their Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) counterparts throughout the exercise, conducting formation and low-level aviation, military free fall (MFF) operations, assault zone establishment and control, fixed and rotary wing fires, rigging alternate method Zodiac (RAMZ) airdrops, an overwater search and rescue contingency and the staging of a forward area refueling point (FARP) for close air support (CAS) and assault aircraft. “Building on our bilateral exchanges from previous years with the 3rd Special Operations Regiment and 601st Squadron, our training this year focused on increasing the complexity and dynamic environment in which we conducted our mission essential tasks,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Joel Buelow, 353rd SOG mission commander for CG18. “We looked to enhance the cooperation, interoperability and collaboration of our forces in special tactics missions, formation flight procedures, aircraft maintenance and mission support functions. We worked side-by-side with our Thai counterparts throughout the exercise to increase mission effectiveness in our training evolutions and to prepare our forces to jointly succeed in real-world contingencies.” The U.S. Air Force 320th Special Tactics Squadron combat controllers (CCTs) and pararescuemen (PJs) conducted programs of instruction on forward air control and overwater search and rescue, conducted live Forward Air Control with fixed and rotary wing fires assets, surveyed and established assault zones and exercised multiple MFF jump profiles for infiltration utilizing air support from U.S. Air Force 1st Special Operations Squadron MC-130H Combat Talon IIs. “Embedded with the RTAF 3rd SOR, we advanced interoperability and increased partner capacity in the planning and execution of complex and realistic missions,” said Buelow. “This partnership has evolved over the last 19 years and will continue to strengthen for years to come.” In addition to supporting airborne operations for Thai and U.S. special operations forces (SOF), the 1st SOS conducted a formation flight with their RTAF C-130 counterparts from the 601st SQN, air intercept training with RTAF 403rd Tactical Fighter Squadron and advanced day and night low-level aviation. “The airborne operations conducted during CG18 enhance our ability to provide a rapid multinational response to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) efforts in the Pacific,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Matthew Howard, 353rd SOG air operations planner for CG18. “The experiences gained with our RTAF partners complement our mutual training interests and combined ability to respond to crises across the range of military operations.” The military members demonstrated appreciation to the local community during CG18 by gaining approvals for a community relations event. The full day of activities included, opening ceremonies, sports events, a luncheon and bilateral friendship jump and aerial demonstration. “To further the educational needs of the students from Sirijantaranmit School Lopburi, we’ve donated $15,000 worth of goods to include computers, printers, washers and dryers, uniforms and essential school supplies,” said Buelow. “Our bilateral friendship jump with RTAF 3rd SOR served as the culmination event to training and demonstrated our commitment to supporting not only the security of Thailand but also the community and humanitarian interests of a key partner nation.” CG18 improved the capabilities of participating nations to plan and conduct combined and joint operations; build relationships among participating nations across the region; and improve interoperability over a range of activities, including enhancing maritime security and responding to large-scale natural disasters. “Our RTAF counterparts have been amazing hosts,” said Buelow. “We look forward to future engagements here in Thailand and hope to raise the bar again next year.” Cobra Gold is one of the largest theater security cooperation exercises in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and is an integral part of the U.S. commitment to strengthen engagement in the region.

Read more

Vietnam veteran talks long-term resilience to ST Airmen

FL, UNITED STATES 02.22.2018 Story by Staff Sgt. Victor J. Caputo 24th Special Operations Wing  HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. –The attack left him without his left arm, left eye and inflicted serious wounds to his right hand and legs. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Clebe McClary had given up, he was borderline unrecognizable and waiting to die in a hospital. That’s when Billy Casper, a professional golfer who was visiting wounded warriors at the hospital in Japan, showed up at McClary’s bedside. Casper told him, “I love you, I’m praying for you, and thank you for what you’ve done.” The simple, honest words struck a chord in McClary, and he was filled with hope and the determination to continue living regardless of the severity of his wounds. “Casper saved my life,” McClary said. “He made me realize I had a purpose, and that God had put me here for a reason … I couldn’t give up.” An audience of Special Tactics Airmen with the 24th Special Operations Wing, Air Force Special Operations Command Preservation of the Force and Family, and AFSOC Care Coalition staff, listened to McClary speak here, Feb. 9, using his own story as an example of overcoming overwhelming drawbacks through hope and resilience. Special Tactics Airmen are USSOCOM’s tactical air and ground integration force and the Air Force’s special operations ground force to enable global access, precision strike, personnel recovery and battlefield surgery operations. ST Airmen have been involved in almost every major operation since 9/11 and have seen a significant amount of combat. “The environment our Special Tactics force work in is inherently dangerous,” said Col. Michael Martin, commander of the 24th SOW, the only Special Tactics wing in the Air Force. “We ask those in our command to take risks, including that of risking their lives, so it is critical that we focus on resiliency efforts in this wing. By building a culture of trust, we are confident our Airmen, at all levels, have no concerns when seeking help.” The USSOCOM’s Preservation of the Force and Family initiative directly embeds resilience specialists into units. Instead of having to schedule appointments weeks ahead of time, Special Tactics Airmen can see licensed physicians, physical therapists or chaplains that are directly assigned to their squadron. “Long-term resiliency is about doing what you need to accomplish your mission, but it’s also about developing a skill set that allows you to remain resilient for the rest of your life,” said Craig Engelson, Preservation of the Force and Family program manager with the 24th SOW. “The majority of our force has been at war their entire career and as history has shown — war has an effect on people.” Balancing the different aspects of life is a critical piece of how McClary stays lively and positive in his increasing age, he said. Similar to the Air Force’s four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness, McClary’s work in mental, social, and, particularly for him, spiritual, and physical health keeps him going. “I think that the biggest take away for the ST community is that long-term resiliency is a choice that you have to consciously make,” Engelson said. “Regardless of what resources you have access to in your unit, your long term success boils down to an individual’s choice to be proactive and seek out the help available to them.”

Read more

Battlefield Airmen integrate with F-35, improve air ground dominance

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska- — During the F-35 Lightning II’s pre-Initial Operational Test and Evaluation, Airmen from the 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron had the opportunity to work with all three variants of the Joint Strike Fighter. Tactical Air Control Party Airmen coordinate air support with joint and international platforms, making this a unique opportunity to work with three different versions of the fifth-generation aircraft. “We were able to execute close-air-support training scenarios and validate TACP cold-weather training,” said Staff Sgt. Gary Russell, Detachment 1, 3rd ASOS battalion air liaison officer. “We were also able to build the 3rd ASOS’s familiarization with all F-35 variants.” Unlike other aircraft used for CAS, the F-35 utilizes speed and stealth technology to become a more lethal threat on the battlefield. “It’s a little more difficult to control than some other aircraft,” said Russell. “It flies higher and faster than most aircraft we deal with, but it also gives us the advantage of not having to worry about as many surface-to-air threats. Because of that, we are able to focus more on the ground commander’s priorities.” Alaska’s weather makes some tasks harder to accomplish than others; but as part of United States Special Operation Forces, weather can’t keep an objective from being obtained. “Weather was our biggest challenge,” said Russell. “At minus 30 degrees, batteries drain rapidly and keeping them warm is difficult.” The roads to get to the different ranges located in Alaska are usually unpaved and difficult to drive on, and with a couple feet of snow added it makes getting out there extremely difficult. “Air Force Technical Applications Center, Detachment 460, was able to provide us with a Sno-Cat,” said Russell. “Tech. Sgt. Cyrus Freeman from Det. 460 transported TACP personnel in the Sno-Cat for 15 hours a day all week. This was a significant battlefield enabler and a game-changer in allowing the missions to flow smoothly.” The F-35 Lightning II is a multi-service and multi-nation fifth generation fighter aircraft, making it an integral part of future operations for the Department of Defense as well as its allies. “In today’s military as TACP, we are regularly exposed to a joint battlefield,” said Russell. “So any exposure to platforms from varying nations and services is of benefit to us.” With the addition of F-35 Fighter Squadrons in the near future, along with the TACP Airmen of the 3rd ASOS, Eielson will be the force enabling the United States military’s dominance in the air and on the ground. By 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs News Desk, 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Read more