Posts tagged ‘Air Force’
Preparing for New Challenges.
TAMPA, Florida — Battling pirates off the Horn of Africa, violent extremist groups across Africa and the Middle East, transnational crime organizations in Latin America and rogue states in Europe and Asia doesn’t begin to address all the threats facing America in the 21st century, says the head of U.S. Special Operations Command — known as SOCOM.
“SOCOM is looking beyond our current conflicts, in order to gain an understanding of the evolving strategic environment,” says Army General Joseph Votel, SOCOM’s commander. SOCOM’s success in that dynamic environment “hangs on this priority,” Votel stressed.
To that end, Votel told the National Defense Industry Association’s 2015 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa on Tuesday (May 19) that SOCOM analysts were keeping tabs on worldwide technical progress, demographic changes and economic trends to avoid strategic surprise.
Votel, himself an Army Ranger, oversees training and equipping policies for U.S. commando units in all of the armed services: Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.
Considering the many threat issues and the effect of the congressional budget- trimming strategy, known as sequestration, Votel said SOCOM needs to invest in equipment interoperability and integrate with “our international partners,” of which there are nearly 60.
Even if SOCOM continues to avoid the budget ax, cuts to the conventional forces could hurt the command’s abilities to perform its missions because SOCOM relies heavily on the services to supply transportation and logistical support among other things.
Human Need, Human Support.
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jessica Gomez-Hickman holds a young earthquake victim before loading her into an ambulance at a medical triage area at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal. U.S. Joint Task Force 505, along with other multinational forces and humanitarian relief organizations, is providing aid after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal April 25. U.S. Pacific Command sent JTF 505, at Nepal’s request, to provide unique assistance capabilities — including helicopter search and rescue and mobile emergency medical facilities. (Click on the photo to enlarge the image).
A Marine Corps UH-1Y “Huey“ helicopter from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 went missing May 12 near Charikot, Nepal, while conducting humanitarian assistance. Six Marines and two Nepalese service members were aboard the aircraft, which crashed in the rugged terrain. Wreckage was spotted by Nepalese troops Friday and it is not believed there are any survivors of the accident, according to the Associated Press.
U.S. Marines, airmen, soldiers and sailors have been providing search and rescue, logistical, medical, communications and transportation support to the shattered area along with U.S. AID and State department workers and civilian urban search and rescue teams from California and Virginia. For more details on this humanitarian relief effort, click here.
Ever wonder how you clean a multi-million dollar U.S. Air Force jet? Well, here’s how. Lieutenant Colonel Christine Mau, deputy commander of the 33rd Operations Group, navigates her F-35A Joint Strike Fighter through the “bird bath” after returning from her first flight at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida earlier this week.
Here’s a photo of Lieutenant Colonel Mau readying for her first flight in the Air Force variant of the multi-role fighter on May 5. Click on the photo to enlarge the image.
An Air Force pilot and co-pilot return to base in an AC-130W Stinger II a multi-role aircraft capable of close air support and armed reconnaissance, after a live-fire mission to support Exercise Emerald Warrior on Hurlburt Field, Florida on April 27, 2015.
Emerald Warrior is an annual joint exercise to train special operations, as well as conventional and partner nation forces to sharpen special operations air and ground combat skills. The operation is the Defense Department’s only irregular warfare exercise allowing representative units from the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and National Guard to train together with units from partner nations and prepare for real-world contingency operations. U.S. soldiers, airmen and Marines as well as British and Dutch troops participated in this year’s exercise.
The airmen in this photo are assigned to the 73rd Special Operations Squadron, part of U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, out of Canon Air Force Base, New Mexico.
DISASTER RELIEF: U.S. Air Force, Army Special Forces, USAID and Canadian Drone Maker Aid in Nepal Earthquake Relief
Search and Rescue.
The U.S. Air Force has sent two large military cargo/transport planes, carrying tons of relief supplies and federal and state disaster response experts, to Nepal to assist in relief and recovery efforts following a massive earthquake that killed thousands and injured thousands more and left still more without food, water or shelter. Two Army Green Beret A-Teams, who were training in the mountainous country when the earthquake hit, are aiding in relief efforts.
The magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the country, high in the Himalayas, Saturday (April 25) killing more than 4,000 in the capital, Kathmandu, and surrounding areas. At least 7,000 people were reported injured and untold thousands more are homeless. Click here to see map of the devastation.
On Sunday (April 26) an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III left Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, bound for Nepal’s Tribhuvan International Airport, according to a Pentagon spokesman. “The aircraft is transporting nearly 70 personnel, including a USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team, the Fairfax County (Virginia) Urban Search and Rescue team and several journalists, along with 45 square tons of cargo,” said the spokesman, Army Colonel Steve Warren.
A second C-17 carrying the Los Angeles County (California) Urban Search and Rescue team left a day later from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, flew to March Air Reserve Base, California, to pick up the team and is expected to land in Nepal on Wednesday (April 29), Air Force Times reported.
Twenty-six members of two Army Special Forces teams, who were training in Nepal at the time of the earthquake, are helping Nepal’s military find and help survivors of the devastating earthquake, according to Military Times. One team was in country for high altitude training, so it is helping find survivors in popular trekking trails, including Mount Everest’s base camp.
The United States is also providing an initial $10 million in emergency assistance for relief organizations in Nepal “to further address urgent humanitarian needs,” according to the White House.
The Fairfax, Virginia team — which includes firefighters, paramedics, physicians, canine handlers, communications experts and engineering and construction specialists — have established their Base of Operations in a Baseball Field in Nepal. The Los Angeles County Search and Rescue team will be based with them once they arrive in-country, according to the Fairfax team’s webpage.
Meanwhile, Canadian unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) manufacturer, Aeryon Labs — along with partners GlobalMedic and Monadrone — is deploying three of its small drones to Nepal to aid disaster relief efforts, according to AUVSI News. The drones being sent to Nepal are outfitted with thermal cameras to help locate survivors, and the Aeryon HDZoom30 camera, which has an extended zoom, to look at targets from over 1,000 feet away.
Small unmanned aircraft provide “the unmatched capability to get onsite and into the air immediately to start determining how and where to provide support to the people.” said Rahul Singh, executive director of GlobalMedic.
Click here to see aerial footage from NBC — shot by a drone — of the devastation in Kathmandu, and the Fairfax Urban Search and Rescue team’s travels to Nepal.
No Day at the Beach.
This is not what your 4GWAR editor imagines when we think of a weekend in the Hamptons. In this photo, members of the New York Air National Guard’s 103rd Rescue Squadron, 106th Rescue Wing conduct a multi-day training course at the Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base firing range, in West Hampton Beach, on New York’s Long Island. The live-fire exercise included training in tactical movement, responding to incoming fire, retrieving and caring for wounded individuals and night-time shooting.
The guardsmen of the 103rd Rescue Squadron are Special Operations para-rescue jumpers (PJs) — meaning they jump out of airplanes and helicopters on combat search and rescue missions to find, treat — if injured — and extract downed airmen and others in trouble on the ground. Six of the 103rd’s PJs received the Bronze Star medal with “V” for valor device in 2013 for the rescue under fire of American and Afghan soldiers caught in an ambush on December 12, 2012, according to the Air Force Times.
Editor’s Note: For those unfamiliar with Army Air Force history, Colonel “Gabby” Gabreski was the top American fighter ace of the European Theater in World War II, knocking down 28 German planes. In the Air Force over Korea in the 1950s, he became a jet ace, shooting down six Russian-made MiG-16 fighter jets.
Since he became Britain’s Secretary of State for Defence last July, Michael Fallon has seen Libya dissolve into chaos and threaten southern Europe with waves of refugees and potential terrorist attacks. There’s also been the shootdown of a Malaysian airliner carrying many Europeans over Ukraine … the rising threat of the Islamic State to Syria, Iraq and the West … and continued Russian aggression in Ukraine and the Baltics.
But the thing that has most surprised him so far is “the number of states that look to be on the brink of failing,” he told a Washington think tank audience Wednesday (March 11).
Fallon, a member of Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron’s cabinet, said he’s worried about “the instability across great swathes of Africa and the Middle East.”
Nearly four years after a NATO air campaign led to the overthrow of Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddaffi, the country has been torn by civil war, become a training ground for insurgents across North Africa and the Levant and also served as a haven for terrorists — including those that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in 2012.
Fallon said Western governments and their partners in the region have got to “redouble efforts to drive some sort of political settlement” among Libya’s warring factions.
On other security issues, Fallon said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression toward former Soviet Union states that are now NATO members — like all three Baltic countries, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — have left those governments feeling “very exposed.”
Last week (March 6) the Defence Ministry announced it was sending a shipment of non-lethal equipment to Ukraine, including helmets, first aid kits GPS units and helmet-mounted night vision goggles. “NATO needs to make clear to President Putin that we will react … to defend any member of NATO that is attacked,” Fallon said.
On the pro-Russian insurgency in Ukraine, Fallon reminded the audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) that the former Soviet republic is not a NATO member. There “can’t be a military solution” alone for this crisis, Fallon said. But for a political solution to work “we need reassurances” from Russia and Russian-backed rebels that they will honor the ceasefire terms of the Minsk agreement, Fallon said.
He was asked about numerous Russian military flights — including the flight of two Russian bombers over the English Channel — that have led the Royal Air Force to scramble jets to escort the Russian planes away from Britain.
While none of those Russian jets have actually entered UK airspace, there has been no response from the Russian pilots, no radio or transponder communication at all. “We see that as Russia’s testing our response,” said Fallon, adding the radio-silent flights are “provocative and frankly, they’re dangerous.”
Fallon and new U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter will be meeting for the first time later in the day at the Pentagon.