Special Tactics Airman visits Schriever

A combat controller with the 24th Special Operations Wing visited Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado to educate enlisted and officer Airmen interested in cross-training into special tactics in the First Term Airmen Classroom, May 1. Tech. Sgt. William Johnson, combat controller in charge of cross-training noncommissioned officers with the 24th Special Operations Wing Special Tactics Training Squadron, Flight 4, presented facts on joining the elite ranks of the 24th SOW and the opportunities available to attendees. The 24th SOW is looking for motivated Airmen who are prepared to dedicate themselves to the special tactics mission of integrating air and ground forces for mission success. The Air Force Specialties featured in the briefing were Combat Control, Tactical Air Control Party, Special Operations Weather Team, Pararescue, Special Tactics Officer and Special Operations Surgical Team. Schriever AFB’s Career Assistance Advisor, Master Sgt. Janelle Amador with the 50th Force Support Squadron, says the briefings are important to Schriever because of the amount of talent on base. “We have such a vast amount of expertise here, any special tactics team could definitely use our skills from Schriever,” she said. “Of course, Air Force wide you have so many it would be an injustice for them to not go to every base.” In the 1970s, Air Force special tactics started with a small number of highly skilled men were brought together to provide the U.S. military a vital air and ground integration capability. At the time the team was colloquially known as Brand X. Over the years, the team developed capabilities supporting global mission requirements in the changing world environment, becoming what we now know as Air Force Special Tactics. Today, more than 1,500 Special Tactics Airmen enable global access, precision strike and tactical rescue and recovery operations in special operations, bringing a breadth of unique air-to-ground capabilities, while performing traditional special operation mission sets. Johnson says there’s no minimum number or no maximum number when it comes to people, and the more Airmen who show up to the briefings the better. However, it doesn’t mean everyone gets chosen. “We are selective. So we are going to throw that net out there and not everyone is going to get caught-not everyone is going to get the opportunity to come within the job,” he said. The goal of sending someone such as Johnson out is to inform people about jobs and opportunities within special tactics. “My job when I go out is to make sure Airmen know what’s out there,” he said. “For instance, the Special Operations Surgical Team, not a lot of people know SOST is a part of special tactics and a lot of support jobs fall within special tactics as well.” Another topic addressed during the briefing was the opening of the special tactics AFSCs to female Airmen. “All the jobs in special tactics are open to everyone,” Johnson said. “If you are a female and interested in any of these jobs, please let us know. Standards are all the same. Once you get picked up you are part of the team no matter what. You are treated as an equal.” Johnson said Airmen often hear certain things about special tactics from various avenues, but maintains he will tell you firsthand what it’s about. “I am a combat controller. I can tell you what being a special tactics Airmen is about,” he said. “I have worked with people in and out of special tactics, and I can tell you what their jobs are about.” Amador says Air Force Special Operations Command and 24th SOW send a representative out at least twice a year. If you miss one of those opportunities, she is happy to help you. “I carry their (24th SOW) pamphlets and materials in case anyone wants their services or if they have enough personnel to have a class, they will come out here TDY,” she said.  “All you have to do is ask. Come see me. Even if we don’t have a class I’ll help you.” If you are interested in the Special Tactics career field or if you are a supervisor with Airmen who are interested, please contact Master Sgt. Janelle Amador at 719-560-5927 or Tech. Sgt. William Johnson at 850-884-8028,  24sow.ras.org@us.af.mil or visit www.24sow.af.mil

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Oklahoma National Guard provides Joint Terminal Attack Controller expertise to Estonian Defenses, reinforces critical capability

VALGA COUNTY, ESTONIA 05.11.2018 Story by Maj. Kurt Rauschenberg  58th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade   VALGA County, Estonia — They are the enablers and conduits of connectivity between multinational forces in close air support involved in offensive and defensive operations from a forward position.  In this case, two Tactical Air Control Party members, U.S. Air Force Maj. Karl Hurdle and Tech Sgt. Laurence Paradis, from the Okla. Guard’s 146th Air Support Operations Squadron work alongside Estonian counterparts during Exercise HEDGEHOG, also known as Siil 2018, to formalize the ideal situation for a successful airlift in a simulated combat scenario. Carrying an orange and pink VS17 panel marker in his hands, Paradis, a qualified U.S Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controller, works to mark a specific location for an in-coming Estonian Air Force Robinson 44 and U.S. Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter to land for an air mission briefing. He’s keeping in close contact with pilots to assist with planning combined fires and effects from the air. Meanwhile, Hurdle stays with the Estonian Defense Force’s brigade Air Liaison Officer, Lt. Janno Õsso, to advise and assist him on successfully completing the multinational airlifts. Each have an important role in the exercise; to integrate JTAC capabilities between U.S. partners and allies. “I’m an Air Liaison Officer and I’ve been working with Õsso during this exercise to develop himself as a knowledgeable and confident ALO for his brigade,” Hurdle said. “This is the most rewarding part of my job.” Õsso is the ALO for the Estonian 2nd brigade and coordinating for the 43rd Estonian Defense League Battlegroup, a battalion-sized light infantry unit consisting of both volunteers and professional soldiers. Most of the 43rd soldiers are from Southern Estonia and familiar with the terrain, so they can use it to their advantage. “I’m very new in the ALO role with 2nd brigade,” Õsso said. “I’ve gained so much experience from Hurdle and Paradis and I would not have been this successful if it were not for them.” The TACP members from the Okla. Guard assist with the communications plan for JTACs in the area of the landing zone and de-conflict airspace. They also advise on specific conditions, such as wind changes, enemy presence, and other hazardous considerations the aircrafts may encounter during their mission. “Interoperability plays a big part with the ALO,” said Paradis. “The ALO is the focal point for air-to-ground operations between multinational forces.” The TACP will coordinate with the brigade fire support officers, an air operations and air support operations center to ensure the mission goes as planned. “De-confliction of airspace allows ground fires to occur while keeping everyone safe in the air,” Paradis said. However, to Hurdle and Paradis, assisting Estonian TACP members become skilled in JTAC capabilities is not new for the Okla. Guard. “We’ve had a relationship built with Estonia for the past couple years working together to enhance their JTAC qualifications from brigade-level down,” said Hurdle. “ALOs have to understand how JTACs operate for both rotatory and fixed wing assets to effectively engage targets.” The Okla. Guard regularly works with Estonia to develop JTAC capabilities in the defense forces through exercises such as HEDGEHOG 2018, occurring every 3-4 years, and Spring Storm, an annual exercise. And although Estonia has been the State Partnership Program nation to the Md. Guard since 1993, Okla. Guard also supports this vital mission. HEDGEHOG 2018, occurring 2-14 May, is the largest exercise ever conducted in Estonia with a nation-wide training area and major activities conducted in South-East Estonia and Northern Latvia. The purpose of the exercise is to train on territorial defense, both in conventional and asymmetrical warfare. Internally, the exercise brings together members of the Estonian Defense League, Women’s Home Defense League, and regular Defense Force. Additionally, Estonian police and border forces and emergency management personnel also participated. With cooperation from 15 NATO allied forces, over 15,000 personnel participated in Exercise HEDGEHOG 2018. The Md. and Mich. National Guard also participated in the exercise. //ENDS// This article was extracted from DVIDS. For more battlefield airmen stories like this, click HERE.

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Airmen splash into survival training

LOWESTOFT, SFK, UNITED KINGDOM 05.11.2018 Story by Staff Sgt. Alex Echols  48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs   Non-aircrew personnel assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing conquered the survival, evasion, resistance and escape Water Survival Course at East Coast College, May 4, 2018. Through tumultuous wind and rain on a simulated sea, 18 Airmen pulled together to survive a realistic aircraft crash training scenario. The training, typically reserved for aircrew, provided the Airmen a glimpse into scenarios flight personnel must be able to navigate to ensure survival. “We all play our part to support the warfighter,” said Tech. Sgt. Derek Owens, 48th Operations Support Squadron SERE NCO in-charge. “Today Airmen across the wing had an opportunity to experience a portion on how 48th Operations Group provides some of that support by receiving the same water survival training that SERE provides our aircrew.” During the height of the course, the trainees faced the “perfect storm” scenario where their life rafts faced simulated 30-knot roaring winds, overwhelming rain, and four- to six-foot waves in pitch-black conditions. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it was awesome,” said Staff Sgt. Gaebriel Diaz, 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance technician. “I recommend everyone experience it at least once. It can even help you in day-to-day situations like if your commercial plane goes down. This training could help you survive.” The participants also learned how to escape being trapped under a canopy, release their harness while being dragged by the wind, mount their one- and 20-man life rafts, and use several different types of survival gear. “We are just trying to teach them different tactics, techniques and procedures that we teach to our aircrew to plan for the worst case scenario,” said Staff Sgt. Derreck Day, 48th OSS SERE specialist. “If for some reason aircrew have to punch out and are exposed to this type of environment, then they need to be able to survive if not thrive and return with honor.” To maintain their certification, aircrew must pass Water Survival Training every three years. The SERE technicians host the course 12 times a year and are hoping to hold classes for non-aircrew members two or three times a year, according to Day.  //ENDS// Article extracted from DVIDS. For more battlefield airmen stories such as this, click HERE.

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Air Guard simulates air support coordination

CAMP MURRAY, WA, UNITED STATES 05.16.2018 Story by Tech. Sgt. Seth Bleuer  194th Wing  CAMP MURRAY, Wash. – The Washington Air National Guard’s 111th Air Support Operations Squadron and 116th Air Support Operations Squadron ran an exercise here on May 4 and 5 simulating a joint service tactical operations center. The exercise simulated a division-level operating center that would consist of about a thousand airmen and soldiers supporting front line troops in combat. Airmen of the 111th ASOS, working with their counterparts from the active duty Army and Army National Guard, coordinate air and artillery support that is crucial in maintaining battlefield superiority. “The tactical operations center serves as a centralized hub for information to flow through so that the 111th ASOS can maintain control of the airspace and coordinate air support into the areas of the battlefield that will provide the biggest impact where it is needed most,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jason Roland of the 111th ASOS. The 116th ASOS provided Tactical Air Control Party members in the simulator to call in air support, providing a level of realism to the training that allowed members of both units to practice their missions. “It’s really an amazing simulator that integrates joint fires working between the Air Force and the Army,” said Roland. The exercise included a simulated chemical attack that forced the airmen of the 111th ASOS to practice donning their gas masks and simulating the movement of a joint tactical operations center of over 1,000 soldiers and airmen to a safe location while still providing crucial air and artillery support to the troops on the front line. This exercise was in preparation for their upcoming Warfighter 18-5 exercise later in 2018. //ENDS// This article was extracted from DVIDS. For more Battlefield Airmen stories like this one, click HERE.

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Reserve Citizen Airmen earn Rescue Mission of the Year award

  PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Thirty-three 920th Rescue Wing Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 920th Rescue Wing out of Cocoa Beach (Brevard County) were recently honored with the 2017 Jolly Green Association Rescue Mission of the Year award for their actions July 7, 2017 in saving two German sailors stranded in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 500 miles off the coast of Florida. The unique and intricate mission, which involved more than 30 hours of collective flying between the unit’s HH-60 Pave Hawks and HC-130N Kings, eight air refuelings transferring 16,600 pounds of fuel, a precisely executed open-ocean rescue insertion, and a highly technical nighttime shipboard patient exfil resulting in two lives saved, led to it being deemed the most significant rescue mission of the year. “Please extend my congratulations to the crews of Air Force Rescue 05/06/235/237 and the associated Guardian Angel teams,” wrote Lt. Gen. Mark Nowland, deputy chief of staff for operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, in a congratulatory letter. “My heartfelt thanks goes out to the warriors who live by the motto, ‘These things we do, that others may live.’ I am especially proud of the teamwork displayed by multiple aircrews and Guardian Angel teams in performing the most outstanding U.S. Air Force rescue mission in 2017.” A Guardian Angel team is comprised of combat rescue officers; pararescuemen; survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) specialists and uniquely trained support personnel dedicated to the Air Force core function of personnel recovery. The specific capability of the 920th Rescue Wing’s Guardian Angel Airmen, combined with its air refueling and extended-range airpower make it uniquely able to accomplish the mission where few others in the world can. It is the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s sole combat-search-and-rescue wing. This is why the U.S. Coast Guard’s Seventh District in Miami immediately directed the call for help to Col. Kurt Matthews, 920th RQW commander, via the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, on July 7, 2017. “This was an extremely complex and unusual mission,” said Matthews. “The lengths our Reserve Citizen Airmen went through to save these men is incredible and I am extremely proud of them.” Matthews noted the unit was not facing the most ideal circumstances when they received the call for help that morning. The two HC-130s required to transport the Guardian Angel team and refuel the HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters were broken and the helicopter crews were on crew rest. However, the team pulled together and within two hours the maintenance crews fixed and launched the first HC-130 carrying the Guardian Angel team and their equipment. Two hours later, the helicopters headed to the scene, while the maintenance crews worked on the second HC-130. Around this same time, the Guardian Angel team parachuted into the ocean out of the back of the HC-130, followed by their zodiac inflatable boat and medical equipment. After reaching the survivors, they provided urgent medical care and transported them to a nearby freighter whose crew volunteered to help. Under the cover of darkness, the HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter teams arrived and their crews hoisted the men into the aircraft bound for the Orlando Regional Medical Center. The survivors spent roughly two weeks in the hospital before returning to Germany. The survivors reunited with some their rescuers Jan. 26, 2018, when the Airmen traveled to Hamburg, Germany, to receive the German Medal of Honor on Ribbon for Rescue Missions at Sea in Gold on behalf of the wing. It was the first time in 20 years that the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service had bestowed the honor upon an organization. The son, who had sustained second and third-degree burns to much of his lower body thanked his rescuers publically at the ceremony. “I would like to express my heartfelt thank you to my Guardian Angels for rescuing me,” said Karl Meer Jr. “With my injuries and without water, I don’t think I would have lived another day.” Chief Master Sgt. Randy Wells, 301st Rescue Squadron chief enlisted manager, who assembled the wing’s nomination for the Jolly Green award, was one of the aviators assisting in the rescue that day on an HH-60 Pave Hawk and who traveled to Germany to receive the Medal of Honor and meet the Meers. “I was lucky to be crew rested that day and glad to participate along with 32 other professionals who took to the air in a very memorable rescue that bridged German-American relations and solidified our noble mission,” he said. “This award recognizes the hard work, dedication and compassion all rescue professionals have for their craft.” The Reserve Citizen Airmen who flew on the July 7, 2017 mission include: Lt. Col. Steven Lawhun, 39th Rescue Squadron Lt. Col. John Lowe, 39th RQS Lt. Col. Wilfred Rodriguez, 39th RQS Lt. Col.[…]

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Airman killed at Roberts Ridge to receive Medal of Honor, report says

  FROM STARS & STRIPES By JAMES BOLINGER A combat controller killed in action in Afghanistan in 2002 is set to become the first airman awarded the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, according to a national security news site. Tech. Sgt. John Chapman will be awarded the medal posthumously later this year, Task & Purpose reported Friday, citing “sources familiar with the matter.” Air Force officials told Stars and Stripes Monday that they could not confirm the report. “Chappy,” as his teammates knew him, was one of two airmen awarded the Air Force Cross, the service’s second-highest honor, for actions during the Battle of Roberts Ridge against al-Qaida fighters on a mountainside above Afghanistan’s Shah-i-Kot Valley on March 4, 2002. The other was Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, a pararescueman. In 2005, the Navy named a cargo ship after Chapman, who fought alongside a SEAL team during the battle. His award upgrade is based on analysis of video captured by a Predator drone and an AC-130 gunship over the battlefield, the Task & Purpose report said. Chapman’s Air Force Cross citation says he died while engaging an enemy machine gun; however, the aerial footage suggests he fought on, killing one enemy with a gunshot and another in hand-to-hand combat, the report said. When a quick reaction force of 35 Army Rangers arrived in helicopters, Chapman emerged from a bunker to provide cover fire before being gunned down by the enemy. Chapman’s family was told in March that his award had been upgraded to the Medal of Honor, the website reported. //ENDS// For more Battlefield Airmen stories like this on Specialtactics.com, click HERE

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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

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PJs team up with Army Chinooks

Members of the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron explain the importance of the U.S. Army CH-47F Chinook to the mission at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan during March, 2018. Airmen flying missions every day or coalition forces going outside the wire on patrols, can fight a little harder and rest a little easier knowing there is a group of highly trained and motivated pararescuemen willing to put their lives on the line to save them. For the first time in Afghanistan, these pararescuemen of the 83rd ERQS do this working hand-in-hand with the U.S. Army CH-47 Chinooks.   For more vids like these on Specialtactics.com, visit HERE.

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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

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