Friday, July 31, 2009

USAF High Velocity Maintenance Program to Save Time, Money

The arrival of a C-130 Hercules  at Robins AFB (Georgia) on 31 July marked the beginning of what is expected to be a dramatic change in the way aircraft maintenance is done.

The Air Mobility Command plane will be the first validation aircraft for High Velocity Maintenance, which means it will be used to test the new method of programmed depot maintenance aimed at reducing aircraft downtime.

"It's the largest philosophical and cultural change in how we do scheduled maintenance in the last 25 to 30 years," said Jerry Mobley, the HVM team lead.

The essence of HVM is that rather than bringing planes in for PDM every five to six years, the planes will come in every 18 months. The expected benefit is that by bringing planes in more regularly, the overall downtime will be significantly less, which is critically important to meeting the Air Force's demand.

In the current PDM cycle, a C-130 is at Robins for an average of 164 days. HVM team members believe the new process will cut the total downtime in that same five- to six-year period by half or better.

They are confident HVM will achieve the expected results, Mr. Mobley said, because it is patterned after the same maintenance practice being used by major commercial airlines. For two years, the HVM team has consulted closely with several airlines on how the process works.

"We are very confident, and one of the reasons we are very confident is that we are not the first ones to come up with it," Mr. Mobley said. "Commercial airlines have been producing airplanes like this for years."

The reduction in downtime is expected to be achieved through several means. One of the biggest is that planes will be inspected in the field before coming to Robins for maintenance. That will allow maintainers to be far better prepared to get work done because they will know what the planes need before they get here.

For example, when the first validation aircraft was inspected, it was found to be in need of a new scuff plate, a 13-foot part where the ramp meets the fuselage. It's a significant replacement that requires numerous additional parts, said John Huff, production flight chief for HVM.

Previously the plane would have come in for PDM, an inspection would have been done, and then the determination would be made that a scuff plate replacement was needed. All of those parts would then have to be acquired, along with the needed tools - all while the plane was sitting in the hangar making no contribution to the war effort.

Now the scuff plate parts have been collected and prepared and a "task kit" has been made so when the plane gets here, the replacement can be made without delay.

Furthermore, now that the plane is scheduled to come back in 18 months, there will not be another need for a field inspection because with a shorter interval between PDM, there is little chance of significant problems for which advance preparation would be needed. Also, with that shorter interval between PDM, some work can be deferred if it does not relate to safety. Under the five- to six-year interval, that wasn't really an option because it would be so long before the plane would be seen again.

Also, Mr. Mobley said, HVM will eliminate the need for isochronal inspections, which are field maintenance inspections. In the case of the C-130, those must be done every 15 months and puts the plane out of service for two to three weeks. But, because of the shorter interval, that inspection will now become part of the regular PDM, thus further reducing down time.

The move toward HVM began two years ago at the behest of Maj. Gen. Tom Owen, then commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, said Doug Keene, HVM product lead.

"The proposal was made at that time that we needed to take on an effort to dramatically increase the availability of aircraft," Mr. Keene said. "If we can increase the velocity of maintenance between scheduled maintenance in depot, we give those back to the warfighter and increase their availability."

The HVM process will be further tested with another C-130, which will arrive here Sept. 30 and another on Nov. 12. On those occasions, Mr. Mobley said, the focus will not be on speed but on seeing how the process is working and making any needed changes.

Following those evaluations, the plan is for C-130 maintenance at Robins to move fully into active HVM transition. Over the next seven years, the transition to full C-130 HVM will include both HVM and PDM C-130 aircraft. Eventually, other airframes will follow the C-130 lead into HVM.

Mr. Huff said maintainers have generally been enthusiastic about the change.

"They are excited about participation in the new process," he said. "The mechanic is the bread and butter of the Center and that's where the focus should be."

While Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City and Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, are also doing HVM tests, with the B-1 Lancer at Tinker and the F-22 Raptor at Hill, Robins will be the first to actually implement the program.

Wayne Crenshaw


UAVs Join Air Force Academy Core Curriculum

U.S. Air Force Academy officials have integrated unmanned aircraft systems into the school's curriculum.

"The Air Force has made unmanned aircraft systems a priority for our service, and the value of these capabilities is evidenced on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Lt. Gen. Michael C. Gould, the Academy superintendent.

"So it is only fitting that our cadets have a keen understanding of this vital piece of our national security," he said.

He added the Academy's UAS program is designed to educate cadets and interest them to serve as UAS leaders after graduation.

Training on the two Viking 300 UAS' is being held Camp Red Devil at Fort Carson, Colo., and is included in the Academy's UAS and Intelligences Surveillance and Reconnaissance Education Program.

Training has been contracted through Bosh Global Services and its subcontractor, L3 Communications.

Four cadets were selected to serve as the first cadre in the program that opened July 12. The four cadets first spent time at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., home to the MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft that flies daily in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The four cadets began to train 21 other cadets at the Fort Carson site July 22. More than 80 cadets originally volunteered for the program.

Training is held under the academic course Airmanship 200 and 201. In the fall, cadets will have 10 ground training lessons and 10 flights. In the spring they will begin 30 hours of airpower theory and will begin flying again in April.

The program serves two purposes, said Lt. Col. Dean Bushey, the Academy UAS director.

"The training is primarily motivational," he said. "If they get motivated, I've done my job."

The program will also introduce key skills cadets will use in their Air Force careers.

Colonel Bushey said he anticipates the program will grow substantially to include about 300 cadets and stressed the future leaders of the Air Force will at some point encounter brushes with UAS' regardless of career choices. Talks are underway for the creation of an additional Air Force specialty code for the technology.

The Viking 300 weighs between 200 and 300 pounds and reaches a top speed of 100 knots with a cruising speed of 55 knots.

Cadets are also receiving the full scope of managing information gathered by the Vikings, by monitoring such sources such as cell phones, computers, chat rooms, radios and cameras. They also are training in exercises involving identifying, planning and carrying out missions.

"It's amazing what we can do in combat," Colonel Bushey said.

He pointed out military application is but one use for UAS', which have evolved from flying drones to armed combat. The broader uses include crop dusting, crowd control and observation of floods and fires.

The Israelis were first to employ the unmanned aircraft in the 1970s. The Air Force integrated it in the mid- to late 1990s, and it was used in Bosnia.

Michael Gendron, a retired Air Force member now on the Bosh staff, praised the Academy for its initiative.

"The Academy is the first service academy to institute unmanned systems," he said. "It's nice to see the Air Force moving forward with this."

Cadets are enthusiastic about the newest addition to the Academy curriculum.

"This is an outstanding opportunity," said Cadet 2nd Class Jeffrey Nakayama. "It's good to be a pioneer and a great leadership opportunity."

Cadet 2nd Class Rupert Domingo also said he appreciates being in the forefront of the relatively new technology.

"This is the future of the military," he said. "It's good to have our eyes in the sky and know what's going on."

Ann Patton (AFNS)

SOCCENT Opens New Southwest Asian HQ

Special Operations Command Central officials opened a new in-theater Southwest Asian home with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for their new building July 29.

The headquarters will allow SOCCENT members to better accomplish its mission of exercising operational control of more than 7,000 special operations servicemembers in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

"We're privileged to be at the center of our nation's efforts," said Army Maj. Gen. Charles Cleveland, the SOCCENT commander who officiated at the grand opening. "With the help of our partners, we look forward to continuing to work toward a future that offers greater peace and stability in this region and throughout the world."

A part of the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command, SOCCENT includes and supports members from all services, as well as civilians and coalition partners.

"It's all four services, plus our support people like those who work on parachute rigging, medical folks, transportation and logistics," said Army Lt. Col. Holly Silkman, a SOCCENT public affairs officer deployed from MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. "We've got lots of partners in the area helping us out," said the Albuquerque, N.M., native, citing Iraqi special forces and Afghan commandos as examples.

From SOCCENT's rear headquarters located at MacDill AFB, more than 700 members from the United States can deploy here for up to a year, or rotate through the AOR for temporary duties of one to three months. On any given night, SOCCENT headquarters is monitoring at least a dozen special forces operations in the AOR. A joint operations center can reach out and communicate with forces where ever they may be.

"It's safe to say our area of interest is indeed the most vital area of importance, not only for the U.S. but for the world," General Cleveland said to the gathered troops and distinguished visitors. "Our operations are increasingly becoming the stuff of history."

The main headquarters had previously been located in a temporary facility on another base in Southwest Asia.

"All of the U.S. forces wanted to be co-located and for the headquarters to be a world-class facility," Colonel Silkman said. That desire led to the creation of this state-of-the-art compound.

"We've planted the flag right here in the area of operations, which means it's easier to react," she said. "We're in the same time zone as the people we're supporting."

General Cleveland sees no comparison between the old and new headquarters.

"There was a huge need for a new facility," he said. "So it's great to get into a permanent building."

Four years in the making, the new facility has a number of features that will make it an effective headquarters. These include an indoor rifle range and SOCCENT's only parachute-rigging tower in the area. Yet the new headquarters compound is just a small footprint of a larger modernization project in the works around the base.

"This is just the beginning," General Cleveland said.

Additions in the future will include hangars currently under construction, bigger maintenance bays and a new training facility.

General Cleveland said he hoped members of SOCCENT would look upon their new facility as a "home away from home."

"I know it can't replace your family and all that waits for you back home," he said. "I understand the hardships of serving the nation overseas in a time of war, and I want to publicly thank you and your families for the sacrifices you've made in the name of freedom."

David Dobrydney (AFNS)
      # END

AFSOC Builds Strategic Foreign Partnerships

The U.S. Air Force Special Operations School hosted the inaugural Building Partner Aviation Capacity Course at Hurlburt Field (Florida) July 20 to 31, which included representatives from the U.S., Costa Rica and Sudan.

BPACC is a two-week, civilian and military aviation-focused course designed for up to 30 international and 10 American participants.

"This is helping me to understand the economy of aviation," said Costa Rican Police Capt. Alexander Romero Salazar. "I understand how my country was developed years ago, and it was through aviation."

Discussions focus on aviation, including civilian aviation assets and resources, as a vital component in a country's internal defense and development plan.

"The BPACC is an ambitious, major revamp based on the Civil-Military Strategies for Internal Development Course previously offered by USAFSOS," said Maj. Eric Larson, course director. "The BPACC retains some of CMSID's civil-military focus, but has evolved to put particular emphasis on the development of civilian and military aviation resources as a component of a partner nation's internal defense and development plan."

The American participants included personnel from Air Force Central Command, Coalition Irregular Warfare Center, Air and Education Training Command, Headquarters Air Force Requirements division, U.S. Special Operations Command and local students from the 19th Special Operations Squadron.

The intent is to include other Department of Defense and interagency partners with roles in aviation defense and development.

"Improving on the legacy of the CMSID Course, the BPACC seeks to be an innovative and ground-breaking approach to building the capacity of the U.S.'s global partners to address common concerns: political violence, under-governed spaces, under-development, humanitarian disasters and transnational crime networks.

"Working by, with and through our global partners to address their security and development challenges today, may prevent the need for U.S. forces to deploy to rapidly deteriorating trouble zones," Major Larson said.

The course also examines civil-military aviation development, U.S. government and security and foreign assistance programs, as well as cooperative practical exercises and field trips.

One exercise required participants to discuss how aviation could be used in the development of Tanzania. Captain Salazar said Costa Rica is 98 percent developed thanks to "little planes" that took trips everywhere to "help grow up the country" during a time when there were no roads.

"Aviation can help. Little planes will help develop the country, like my country was," Captain Salazar said.

K.D. Duncan

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Harbor Security Force Established in Djibouti

A ribbon-cutting ceremony July 30 celebrated the establishment of a U.S. military harbor security force at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti.

Officials from United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), the Djiboutian government and U.S. and Djiboutian military personnel attended the ceremony at Port de Djibouti.

AFRICOM Commander Gen. William 'Kip' Ward, CJTF-HOA Commander Rear Adm. Tony Kurta, Chargé d'Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti Eric Wong and Camp Lemonier's Commanding Officer Capt. William Finn were in attendance to witness the historic step toward enhancing the security operations for the port.

The new harbor security force was established after many months of coordination between the U.S. Navy's Camp Lemonier leadership and the Djiboutian Navy. The establishment of the harbor security force will enable increased capabilities to protect maritime vessels transiting through the port in addition to providing training and operational opportunities between U.S. and Djiboutian personnel.

The harbor security force will consist of personnel from other U.S. Navy installations throughout the Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia region. The diverse group of harbor security professionals will ensure the port is and will stay a secure environment for conducting maritime operations.

Finn said this diverse group of harbor security professionals will ensure the port is and will stay a secure environment to conduct maritime operations.

"I am honored to recognize and commemorate the efforts made between U.S. and Djiboutian forces in support of our harbor security force," said Finn. "Working together to compliment each other's capabilities, we have increased our ability to protect our ships as well as provide training and operational opportunities between U.S. and Djiboutian personnel. I sincerely appreciate the great support from our Djiboutian hosts."

Camp Lemonier, Djibouti is located in the Horn of Africa and is the only U.S. military infrastructure located in Africa to provide a base of operations for support services. The camp has approximately 2,500 U.S., joint and allied military forces, civilian personnel, Department of Defense contractors and 1,200 local and third country nation workers. The camp is the primary base of operations for U.S. Africa Command in the Horn of Africa and supports more than 23 tenant commands, including Commander, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa; U.S. Army 218th Field Artillery Regiment; and naval mobile construction battalion detachments.

Mark Rockwell-Pate (NNS)

Naval Postgraduate School Turns 100

The Naval Postgraduate School is celebrating its 100th anniversary of delivering "Excellence through Knowledge" with events designed to highlight the institution's role in forming naval leaders.

President Daniel Oliver launched the school's Centennial Kick-Off and Alumni Reunion Weekend with a State of the University address, followed by a review of its first century of world-class military-relevant research by Provost and Executive Vice President Leonard Ferrari.

"These extraordinary celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the Naval Postgraduate School signal the beginning of a year-long tribute to the legacy that has been created by this wonderful institution over a full century of its life," Oliver said.

"We honor NPS for the magnificent university it has become and the even greater university it will be 100 years from now."

Visiting alumni, students, faculty and staff then gathered for the dedication of the new NPS Centennial Timeline -- 48 large outdoor panels covering the entire scope of NPS history from its founding at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1909 to the unveiling of the timeline itself.

"This was a monumental team effort that drew from every corner of the campus," Oliver said in christening the two-dimensional display that takes up an entire outside wall of the Root Hall lab and classroom building.

"The initiative and leadership for this project came from Kari Miglaw, director of both our Centennial Program and Alumni Relations. We will be forever in her debt because this permanent timeline will continue to serve as a remarkable and enduring gift."

For some the 'jewel in the crown' of the Centennial Kick-Off Weekend was a Centennial Gala dinner and ball held in the Barbara McNitt Ballroom in historic Herrmann Hall. Oliver opened the gala by inducting only the tenth alumnus out of more than 60,000 graduates throughout the university's history into its Hall of Fame -- former Marine Corps Commandant General Michael Hagee (Electrical Engineering, 1969).

"General Hagee is and has always been a tireless advocate for military higher education," Oliver told the guests at the elegant black tie event. "As Major General Mel Spiese, who is on our board of advisors, said so well, 'General Hagee is a model of advanced education in the armed forces and the value it brings to the service member and the service.'"

Other highlights of the centennial weekend were a remembrance service; an alumni open house at the newly renovated Dudley Knox Library; a ribbon cutting and retrospective celebrating more than half a century of NPS computing by the Information Technology and Communications Services Department; a Battle of Midway lecture by the School of International Graduate Studies; open houses and guided tours of the university's schools, labs and research institutes as well as Center for Homeland Defense and Security; a State of the NPS Foundation address; an NPS exhibit, lectures and a reception at the Monterey Maritime and History Museum.

The Naval Postgraduate School then flung open its gates to the entire local community for a special centennial rendition of its popular annual Memorial Day Concert on the Lawn on the theme "NPS: Honoring Heroes and Traditions."

"Thank you all for being part of the kick-off of our Centennial Year of the Naval Postgraduate School," Oliver told the crowd of thousands sitting on a colorful patchwork of picnic blankets on the lawn in front of Herrmann Hall. "I am proud to be the president of this special institution at this very special moment in its history."

The next highlight of the year-long celebrations is NPS Air and Space Week, Aug. 4-9, to which the school has invited its almost three dozen former astronaut graduates to return to their alma mater.

Barbara Honneger (NNS)

Army's Electric Warehouse Vehicles Save Fuel

The implementation of two electric vehicles will help reduce fossil fuel emissions at Tobyhanna Army Depot (PA) and save on fuel costs, one piece of equipment at a time.

In May, Tobyhanna received an electric forklift and a fifth wheel tug, which will be used by motor-vehicle operators to transport systems and shelters throughout the depot.

The fifth wheel tug, which is the first of its kind at Tobyhanna, is a hybrid of several different systems. The custom-made vehicle will be used strictly on-post to move large pieces of trailer-able equipment in and out of depot shops.

The fifth wheel tug is intended for indoor/outdoor use, weather permitting.

"It hasn't been proven in the winter yet but the company is working with depot personnel to make modifications for winter use," explained John Kelly, chief of the Production Management Directorate's Materiel Movement Branch.

The forklift, which can lift up to 23,000 pounds, is being used to move large shelters and systems in and out of the paint booths in Building 9. Kelly noted that future plans are to use the forklift in the High Bay, Building 4 Bay 6, and in locations that would normally require a diesel vehicle's assistance.

"We're gradually moving toward an electric-vehicle environment across the depot," said Anthony Ferreira, president of the AFGE Local 1647. He was instrumental with introducing the electric vehicles to Tobyhanna.

"We're committed to minimizing our employee's exposure to fossil fuel emissions and have additional pieces of electric lifting equipment on order, such as another lift and another tug," Kelly said. "We also continue to research new equipment and technologies which we hope will one day get us to a diesel free environment."

Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department's largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.

About 5,600 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command. Headquartered at Fort Monmouth, N.J., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the armed forces.

Army's Electric Warehouse Vehicles Save Fuel

The implementation of two electric vehicles will help reduce fossil fuel emissions at Tobyhanna Army Depot (PA) and save on fuel costs, one piece of equipment at a time.

In May, Tobyhanna received an electric forklift and a fifth wheel tug, which will be used by motor-vehicle operators to transport systems and shelters throughout the depot.

The fifth wheel tug, which is the first of its kind at Tobyhanna, is a hybrid of several different systems. The custom-made vehicle will be used strictly on-post to move large pieces of trailer-able equipment in and out of depot shops.

The fifth wheel tug is intended for indoor/outdoor use, weather permitting.

"It hasn't been proven in the winter yet but the company is working with depot personnel to make modifications for winter use," explained John Kelly, chief of the Production Management Directorate's Materiel Movement Branch.

The forklift, which can lift up to 23,000 pounds, is being used to move large shelters and systems in and out of the paint booths in Building 9. Kelly noted that future plans are to use the forklift in the High Bay, Building 4 Bay 6, and in locations that would normally require a diesel vehicle's assistance.

"We're gradually moving toward an electric-vehicle environment across the depot," said Anthony Ferreira, president of the AFGE Local 1647. He was instrumental with introducing the electric vehicles to Tobyhanna.

"We're committed to minimizing our employee's exposure to fossil fuel emissions and have additional pieces of electric lifting equipment on order, such as another lift and another tug," Kelly said. "We also continue to research new equipment and technologies which we hope will one day get us to a diesel free environment."

Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department's largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.

About 5,600 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command. Headquartered at Fort Monmouth, N.J., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the armed forces.

USAF B-52s Train in Australia

Members of the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron from Andersen AFB (Guam) completed 10 sorties flying more than 110 hours while participating in Talisman Saber 2009 July 15 through 24 over Australia.

The bilateral command post and field training exercise was designed to increase interoperability between U.S. and Australian forces.

Missions for the B-52 Stratofortresses, deployed here from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., consisted of flying 12 hours from Guam to Australian training ranges where they worked with joint and coalition forces.

"It's really a great opportunity for someone like me to get this kind of experience that will later aid me if we get the call to go fight the real fight," said 1st Lt. Ryan Egan, a 96th EBS B-52 co-pilot. "The overall experience was just incredible, to be able to talk to people from other countries who are our allies and work with them."

Lieutenant Egan was a part of the mission planning cell that planned the first six missions of the exercise. He also flew the last sortie, which concluded the B-52 participation of the exercise.

"Once a tasking order drops, we take that information that is important to us to plan the mission, so our fliers can execute the mission to the best of their capability," Lieutenant Egan said. "I pretend that I'm flying the mission (when planning it) seeing what I need to know, what players are involved, what our time on target is and when our tanking schedule is. We put all of that information together so our crews can go complete the mission.

"We integrated with their forces down there," he said. "(We worked with) joint aircraft that were involved in the exercise and also with Royal Australian Air Force (personnel) on the ground for air to ground strikes, and then we flew back to Guam."

The lieutenant said the exercise helped him see how each of the joint and coalition services combines to complete a mission.

"Getting to see the big picture is really helpful to someone like me," he said. "It was a great chance to work with our sister services and see how they do business, and to see how everything comes together."

Lieutenant Egan also added that participating in the exercise was a chance for the world to see the capabilities of the B-52.

"It's a proving ground, not only to prove to ourselves that we are capable of doing this kind of mission, but also proving to the world that we can deliver decisive combat airpower," he said.

The flight crew for the final sortie to Australia all felt that the exercise was a great demonstration of the U.S. Pacific Command commander's continuous bomber presence.

"We're showing that we can take off from anywhere and drop bombs on target anytime, anywhere and return back to anywhere we need to," said 1st Lt. Mehul Brahmbhatt, a 96th EBS B-52 navigator. "I liked the ability to get spun up and work with the coalition forces, and expand our presence in the area of responsibility."

Approximately 50 aviators from the 96th EBS supported the exercise.

"It's quite a feat getting an exercise like this off the ground," said Capt. Sean Stavely, a 96th EBS B-52 aircraft commander. "Talisman Saber is essentially a large-force exercise in Australia including many joint and coalition forces, where we join to fight together and sharpen our tactical sword in a joint atmosphere."

The exercise focused on crisis action planning and execution of contingency response operations, he said.

"Our purpose was to demonstrate what we can do with the B-52," Captain Stavely said. "Offensive counter air platforms will go out and take care of the 'bad guys' while we go in as the bomb droppers, the strikers, and put our bombs on target after the 'bad guys' are taken care of."

The long-duration flight was one of the aspects Captain Stavely said he looked forward to in participating in the joint and coalition exercise of more than 30,000 servicemembers.

"I enjoyed demonstrating our global strike capability," he said. "Taking off from Guam, going somewhere a long distance away, putting our bombs on target, and then coming back to the base that we came from is a demonstration of our continuous bomber presence on Guam."

Talisman Saber 2009 concluded for the B-52 aircrews with a mass debrief of the exercise to talk about the lessons learned, he said.

Jennifer Redente (AFNS)

USN Rolls Out First F-35C Carrier Based Lightning II

The chief of Naval Operations (CNO) welcomed the Navy's
first Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35C Lightning II, to the fleet in a ceremony July 28.

The F-35C is the Navy's first stealth fighter and enables the Navy to decrease the time from threat to response at sea. The aircraft possesses uncompromised carrier suitability and low-maintenance stealth materials designed for long-term durability in the carrier environment.

Adm. Gary Roughead, CNO, said this aircraft adds tremendous capability to the fleet.

"Our Sailors will never be in a fair fight because this airplane will top anything that comes its way. It will give our Sailors and pilots the tactical and technical advantage in the skies and it will relieve our aircraft as they age out," Roughead said.

CNO said the pace of operations has not been easy on Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, and Marines, nor on the ships and aircraft they rely on. He said the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is essential to addressing the Navy, and more importantly the nation's, strike fighter needs.

"It is most exciting for me to think about the young men and women who look to this uniform, who look to naval aviation and see a fulfillment in their lives and an excitement in their lives that is unmatched in any other profession in the world," Roughead said. "I thank you for what you have done and thank you for what you are going to do. It is indeed a great honor to be here."

The F-35C is on schedule to meet the Navy's initial operational capability in 2015, and combines stealth with supersonic speed and high agility. The Lightning II employs the most powerful and comprehensive sensor package ever incorporated into a fighter.

Rebekah Blowers (NNS)

Air National Guard Challenged to Modernize, Replace Aircraft

One of the biggest challenges facing the Air National Guard today is replacing its fleet of aircraft that are approaching the end of their service lives, a senior Air National Guard official said July 29.

"A big problem we have in the Air National Guard is figuring out how to recapitalize our aging fleet," Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt III, director of the Air National Guard, said here at a Defense Writers Group breakfast.

"It's not just fighters. It's tankers, it's airlifters, it's AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Systems), it's the early warning radars. It's the whole system that is old and needs to be recapitalized."

It's an issue facing not only the Air Guard, but the Air Force as a whole.

"To be quite honest with you, the Air Force has the same recapitalization problem as the Air National Guard," he said. "Ours is a little bit more acute and a little more immediate, because our airplanes are a little bit older."

And that immediacy affects the readiness status of Air Guard units.

"If you take a look at our F-16s that do the air sovereignty alert mission, 80 percent of those will be aging out within the next eight years," said General Wyatt. "Right now the recapitalization plan for those units doesn't have (replacements) going to those units until the mid-2020s, and that is several years too late."

Discussions are under way about how to retool the Air Guard fleet. "We're working with the Air Force to address that problem, and we're making some progress, but to date there is no plan that addresses Air National Guard issues," said General Wyatt.

One of the issues that is taking shape within those discussions is rebalancing the force structure of the Air Force as a whole.

For General Wyatt, that rebalancing should come at the same rate across all components of the Air Force. "In my opinion, since the Air National Guard provides 34 percent of the capabilities of the United States Air Force-at 7 percent of the budget I might add-that the smart thing to do would be to take a look at bedding down whatever capability the Air Force requires concurrently and proportionally in the Guard."

General Wyatt said he is afraid to see a return to the days of the Air Guard flying castoffs from the active duty force. He has personal experiences with the results of that formula. He flew the A-7 Corsair II for the Oklahoma Air National Guard in the early 1990s.

"When Desert Storm kicked off, we had some great capability within the Air National Guard and the A-7 platform," said General Wyatt. "But the active duty was not flying the A-7 and they were concerned with getting the top of the line weapons in the fight and we were not asked to participate. That seems to me to be a great waste of money. It makes no sense to have a platform that you're not going to use in war."

Another waste is not capitalizing on the years of experience that guardsmen bring with them. "We have the most experienced pilots, the most experienced maintenance crews," said General Wyatt. "We are an older force, a more mature force and if you don't provide a platform or the capability within the Air National Guard then that great experience withers and it dies.

"It will take you generations to regenerate that. What the Air Guard offers is the capacity on top of what the Air Force offers."

On the recent debate on the future funding of the F-22 Raptor versus the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, General Wyatt, who describes himself as a "platform agnostic," said capability is more important than the platform.

"I think we need to be in the same platform as the Air Force," he said. "If the decision is made in the future to acquire fourth generation airplanes, similar to what the Navy is doing with the F/A-18 purchases, then I would advocate for the Air Guard to be in those same platforms provided it's fielded concurrently and proportionally to the Air Guard."

And that makes fiscal sense, said General Wyatt, who added that the planes and crews oftentimes pull double-duty with regard to mission sets since many Air Guard aircraft are flown as part of the air sovereignty alert mission, but can be deployed to overseas locations as well.

"Those same airplanes that fly air sovereignty alert, they don't just do air sovereignty alert," said General Wyatt. "They're written into the war plans. They do (air expeditionary force) rotations, and we participate the same as the Air Force does, so we should have the same equipment."

Again, General Wyatt said the biggest thing is maintaining the capability of the Air Guard to stay current in the roles it fills.

"What airplane we put it on or how it's acquired, that's basically a decision for Congress to make," he said. "It doesn't make any difference to me, we just want the capability, and we need it before we lose the capability we currently have."

Jon Soucy (AFNS)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Exercise 'Vibrant Response' to train CBRNE troops for disasters

Consequence-management response forces, or CCMRF, are staging a training exercise beginning July 31, to prepare for potential domestic disasters capable of injuring or killing several thousand civilians.

The "Vibrant Response" exercise will be conducted by the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosive, or CBRNE Joint Response Force, through Aug. 14.

"It's going to be extremely complex and require a tremendous amount of coordination with other agencies and locals at various levels," said Maj. Gen. John Basilica, commander of Operational Command Post One, U.S. Army North. "It is all designed to test and challenge the headquarters and command in control elements to make sure they can work together to respond quickly, because speed is the most important piece of this."

The servicemembers will be given a situation in which they will be testing communication capabilities and reactions. Participants will be role-playing as certain pubic figures, like mayor and governor, in one scenario.

CBRNE is made of three divisions, 9.1, 10.1 and 10.2; 10.1 and 10.2 are being trained to be ready by Oct. 1. Basilica heads up the 10.2 task force, which consists of reserve-component units.

The exercise will involve about 400 to 500 people at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. The two divisions will each train one week, in succession with one another. Each CCMRF unit contains three task forces -- medical, operations and aviation, in addition to smaller elements with specific technical expertise. The Operation Task Force 2/18 MEB from South Carolina, Medical Task Force 3/30 MEB from Illinois, and Aviation Task Force 11 from Kentucky will all participate in the exercise.

"We don't get that many opportunities to provide these specific headquarters together and train in a command-post type exercise," Basilica said.

The CBRNE was transferred to U.S. Northern Command's Joint Task Force Civil Support in October 2002. JTF-CS provides support from active, guard and reserve members, and civilians, who are all commanded by a National Guard general officer.

CBRNE is designed to work with federal agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Center for Disease Control, to aid, restore and prevent casualties in instances of major disaster.

The CCRMF is only used after all local, state and federal resources have been exhausted, Basilica and Collins said.

"We hope to God that there are no terrorist attacks or no major industrial accident in the U.S. where the city, state or federal government might ask for additional capabilities. We hope that does not happen, but if it does, I think it's a great story for the nation that you have these multiple CCMRF forces that would be trained and ready to step in and assist the states if they ask for extra help," Collins said.

Grafton Pritchard (ANS)

New Fort Belvoir hospital to help replace Walter Reed

patient-and family-focused design of a new community hospital at Fort Belvoir (Virginia) is taking physical shape after a year of construction.

Under the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005, the new hospital will replace DeWitt Army Community Hospital and take over some of the services now offered at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The current Walter Reed facility is scheduled to close Sept. 15, 2011 as a new hospital expansion opens in Bethesda.

Belvoir's 1.3-million-square-foot joint military hospital will have 120 single-patient rooms and a number of amenities designed to give control and comfort to the patients and their families.

"Everything that has gone into the hospital has been designed with the intent of improving patient outcomes," said Col. Charles Callahan, commander of DeWitt Army Community Hospital and Health Care Network.

Callahan said the new hospital will follow the national movement of patient family-centered care. At Fort Belvoir, the patients and families will control the environment of the room and can adjust temperature, light and other amenities from the patient's bedside.

"It's redesigning all of the processes in the hospital around the focus on the patient and family and their needs and wants for their care," Callahan said.

The seven-level hospital will feature an intensive care unit, a behavioral health inpatient unit, a cancer center, an emergency center, operating rooms and diagnostics centers.

The hospital will use evidence-based health care design to create a therapeutic, family-centered and efficient space. It will also integrates research-based architectural design that improves patient outcomes, Callahan said.

"One of the researches that's been done has shown that in the presence of scenes of nature you actually require less pain medication after surgery," Callahan said.

The hospital will be divided into five nature-themed sections - river, eagle, sunrise, oak and meadow - that spread out like fingers to admit natural sunlight into each patient room, according to Callahan.

Half of the rooms face east and the other half face west, ensuring either morning or afternoon sunlight shines through the patient windows, Callahan said.

In addition to the different color schemes, the hospital will also have kiosks placed throughout the hospital and parking garages with maps for directions and intercoms that allow patients to notify doctors of their arrival, according to Lt. Col. Troy Walker, National Capitol Region and North Atlantic program manager for the U.S. Army Health Facility Planning Agency's Project Management Division.

"It's laid out in a way that is supposed to be very simple in allowing patients to almost navigate the building with very little assistance from the staff," Walker said.

The hospital was also engineered to minimize impact on the outside environment and will receive silver status through the international green building rating system, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, better known as LEED, according to Walker.

The swooped roofs of the hospital collect rain water into an irrigation system for the healing garden patients can sit in or view from all waiting rooms.

"These kinds of things are just a few of the features that this building is going to provide to make that patient feel comfortable and confident that they are going to get the best care that they can here," Walker said.

The community hospital is scheduled to start accepting patients by April 2011.

As the first joint military hospital stateside, the facility will serve active-duty servicemembers, retirees and their families, Callahan said.

Bringing together the unique cultures of the different military branches was also a key focus in the planning of the hospital. Callahan said they are creating a new culture, a culture of excellence.

"We hope that by creating a culture of excellence, we'll be able to pull together different service cultures into a new culture that will characterize the department of defense health facilities for decades to come," Callahan said.
Holly Meyer (ANS)

Admiral Expects U.S.-China Military Talks to Resume Soon

Plans are under way for the United States and China to take the first steps toward resuming their stalled military-to-military dialogue, possibly within the next couple months, the top U.S. officer in the region told reporters July 28.

Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, expressed optimism about the likelihood of a Military Marine Consultative Agreement session soon after participating in the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who hosted the two days of talks that continue today, called them "the beginning of an unprecedented effort to lay the foundation for a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive U.S.-Chinese relationship for the 21st century."

Keating noted across-the-board interest, within both the U.S. and Chinese delegations, in resuming relations between the two countries' militaries as part of that broader effort.

The "unmistakable theme" of yesterday's talks was that both "want to continue to build upon the foundation of trust and mutual respect our two countries have, as manifest by military-to-military relations," said Keating.

Both President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao have made it clear they want the relations to resume, Keating said, so now it's only a matter of getting arrangements in place. "We have agreed to do it," he told reporters. "We are just working on the final details."

Plans are under way for the first meeting, a Military Marine Consultative Agreement session Keating said he expects to take place "in the very near future," probably in Beijing. Pinned down by reporters, he expressed hope the meeting occur "within a month or two."

After that session, Keating said, he looks forward to other opportunities for Chinese military officers to come to U.S. Pacific Command headquarters at Camp Smith, Hawaii, or to the Pentagon, and for senior U.S. military leaders to visit their counterparts in Beijing.

Keating said he would like to see the military relationship extend to include humanitarian and disaster relief exercises, personnel exchanges, information-sharing on counterterrorism techniques and procedures and observation of bilateral and multilateral exercises.

A Chinese official noted during the session that "no country can develop sound policy if it tries to do so in isolation," Keating told reporters.

"I think that's a great way of expressing the sense all of us feel – the desire to get back together again and discuss exercises, discuss personnel exchanges, discuss responses to humanitarian assistance crises and the provision of disaster relief," he said.

Meanwhile, Keating called the Chinese military's plans to establish a new Web site August 1 a positive step forward in promoting transparency and a better understanding of China's military intentions.

Mutual understanding of each other's intentions, along with a foundation of trust, are "critical to enhancing peace and stability all across Asia and the Pacific region," said Keating.

Donna Miles (NNS)

US Army Orders 229 Armored Security Vehicles from Textron

The US Army has awarded a contract to defence supplier Textron Marine & Land Systems to build extra armoured security vehicles (ASV), reports Army Technology.
Under the $200m contract, the company will provide the army with 191 M1117 ASVs and 38 M1200 armoured knight vehicles plus related equipment.


LIDAR to Find U/X Ordnance on CONUS US Army Bases

The US Army has awarded an $18m contract to research and review company Sky Research to locate unexploded munitions across military sites in the US using light detection and ranging technology (LIDAR), reports Army Technology.

.The company has developed a process called Wide Area Assessment that uses geophysical, aviation, engineering and remote-sensing technologies to detect unexploded bombs or shells,


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Gates, Maliki Discuss U.S.-Iraqi Security Partnership

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki discussed Iraq security issues when the two met at the Pentagon late Friday afternoon.

Gates and Maliki addressed the U.S.-Iraqi security relationship and equipment needs for Iraqi soldiers and police, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

Their conversation, Morrell said, focused "largely on our security partnership, on ways that we can continue to help the Iraqi security forces grow in size and capability, so that they are able to fully exert their sovereignty and protect the people from external and internal threats."

Gates acknowledged during today's meeting with Maliki that the current processes employed to provide equipment to Iraqi military and police are too slow and need to be streamlined, Morrell said.

Therefore, he continued, Gates is "working on creative ways" to provide Iraqi security forces -- and other allies – the equipment that they need as quickly as possible.

"Speed and flexibility are what our system needs and doesn't have to the degree that we would like," Morrell said.

Gates and Maliki also discussed the "tremendous progress" that's been made in Iraq over the past few years, he said.

President Barack Obama and Maliki discussed the June 30 transfer of security leadership to Iraqi authorities at a news conference held yesterday at the White House. American military forces withdrew from Iraqi cities and towns as part of the agreement.

"This transition was part of our security agreement and should send an unmistakable signal that we will keep our commitments with the sovereign Iraqi government," Obama said at yesterday's news conference.

Gary Gilmore (AFPS)

US Military Expands Intelligence Operations for Anti-Taliban Offensive

U.S. military authorities in Afghanistan are assembling a potent intelligence-gathering operation to help defeat the Taliban insurgency, reports the Seattle Times.

A combination of unmanned aerial vehicles and sensor-laden aircraft with links to ground forces will give commanders an "unblinking eye" over the war-torn country, Michael Vickers, the Pentagon's top special operations official, said.


First Vietnamese-American Commands US Army Brigade

Colonel Viet Luong is the first Vietnamese American to command a US Army brigade, reports Army Times. The colonel came to the United States in 1975. He will lead the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan. The unit has an extensive battle history during the Vietnam War.


Will US Accept Nuclear armed Iran?

Recent remarks by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promising an American defensive umbrella over Middle Eastern allies  "once they [Iran] have a nuclear weapon" has Israel worried Washington will tolerate Tehran's acquisition of nuclear arms.


Army Soldiers Test Improved Tactical Vest

Prior to any deployment, Soldiers learn the ins and outs of every piece of their equipment and gear they have before they deploy.

And it is no different for Soldiers assigned to Headquarters Operations Company, Special Troops Battalion, who were recently issued the Improved Outer Tactical Vest, July 9.

The IOTV is one of the latest advancements in military gear designed to better provide body armor coverage on a Soldiers body. Like most gear, the IOTV is used to help protect Soldiers while in a combat situation and also designed for emergency removal.

"The key improvement over the old (Outer Tactical Vest) is that (Soldiers) are able to extract themselves from the vest quickly as opposed to maybe having to cut themselves free from the vest if it ever gets snagged on something or there in a situation where they just can't unstuck," said Terence Hensey, new equipment training instructor.

Though new, the vest still has the weave slots making most of the pouches from the OTV compatible with the IOTV, which makes it easier for Soldiers to switch to the IOTV.

"Items that carry forward from the old vest are the enhanced small arm protective inserts, the sappy plates, side plates," Hensey said. "The most current plates offer protection against armor piercing 7.62 rounds."

With improvements on IOTV, Soldiers are getting issued new the vest designed to better protect their torso area.

The weight of the vest is designed to be carried by the lower abdomen, hips and thighs as opposed to hanging off the shoulders and spine, Hensey said.

"The older vest didn't fit in a way that was very comfortable to the Soldiers and they found that most of the weight of the vest was carried by the shoulders and the spine," he said.

"This vest comes in 11 different sizes and it fits much better, adjust much better to the Soldier who wears it."

After being issued the IOTV, STB Soldiers received a class on how to fit, wear and maintain their vest.

Weighing three to six pounds less than the OTV, most Soldiers going through the class think the IOTV is a good vest.

"They like the way it wears, it wears (better)," Hensey said. "They feel that they will be able to actually sight with their weapon better and fire their weapon better with this system."

Sgt. 1st Class Carlos E. Rodriguez, assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division Provost Marshall Office as a operations noncommissioned officer, said that the IOTV is a great improvement on weight and wear than previous vests.

"This vest is light and fits properly for today's urban type movement," Rodriguez said. "(It is) light, covers more vital area, and it moves with you."

The Santurce, Puerto Rico, native, also believed that it helps Soldiers better understand the vest when also helps being shown the proper way to wear the vest.

"For it to fit and be properly worn for protection you must know exactly how to wear it properly," Rodriguez said.

Amanda McBride


Friday, July 24, 2009

Empire Challenge Exercise Tests US, Allied Military Intelligence Capacity

An annual demonstration that focuses on distributing mission critical intelligence to the warfighter is currently in progress at several locations in the United States and various other countries.
Empire Challenge (EC), conducted by U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) and its partners on behalf of the under secretary of Defense for intelligence (USD(I)), focuses on providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support to warfighters.
Several key players for this demonstration discussed its solutions and capabilities to visitors here today.
"Empire Challenge 2009 (EC09) focuses on improving interoperability with the distributed common ground systems (DCGS) and also looking at what new tools, capabilities and techniques we can bring into the fight to improve the situational awareness of our operational forces," said Christopher Jackson, Integration Division chief at USJFCOM's Joint Transformation Command for Intelligence and a principal investigator for EC09.
This year's demo includes a virtual brigade combat team in addition to the live ISR assets. Both the live and the virtual assets are working together to form a combined task force that collects, analyzes and shares information.
USJFCOM's Joint Intelligence Laboratory and the Combined Air Operations Center-Experiment at Langley Air Force Base, Va. conduct the modeling and simulation capabilities and analysis. Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif. hosts the demonstration's more visual aspects.
"China Lake is the tactical edge for this event," said Air Force Col. Skip Krakie, EC09's director for intelligence operations. He spoke to guests via live feed from China Lake. "They offer us a fantastic range where we can conduct operations in realistic environment. It's hot, dry and dusty. It's everything Afghanistan is."
According to Jackson, by putting a demonstration through a laboratory alone, the results may not be the same if it is put into an environment that is operationally representative of what warfighters are facing today. EC09 events include specific scenarios to address joint capability threads. These include irregular warfare, joint ISR management, multi-domain awareness and ISR-strike integration.
"Things might not work as well or as crisply as they do within a compliant environment," Jackson said. "EC09 is a proof of ISR capabilities before we take them into real world situations."
Virtual simulation is used in place of live assets to exercise and experiment with new tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP). Within the JIL, live feeds are shared across distributive architecture to include sites from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and NATO.
"The whole purpose of this is to not just look at and test new technologies," Krakie said. "The real purpose is to see if we can move this data around an enterprise and provide intelligence to the warfighter. It is exciting to see that we can tie this network together and provide data to the warfighter."
Although EC09 will continue until July 31, demonstration leaders are already looking ahead to next year's Empire Challenge.
"We anticipate that it will be dynamic to take into account new technologies and conditions," said Navy Capt. Patrick Donohue, the director of intelligence operations in charge of the execution of EC09 within the Hampton Roads area. "Given the irregular warfare threat we face, a lot of things learned in Iraq and Afghanistan are going to be the focus on how we craft the experimentation to support the warfighters."

Katrina Parker

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Soldiers Can Transfer GI Bill Benefits to Spouse, Children

Although the Post 9/11 GI Bill is not effective until Aug. 1, service members may submit a request to transfer benefits to their spouses and children now.

"Transferability of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits has been the most requested initiative we receive from our service members," Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy Bill Carr said, "and we believe it will assist us in retaining highly qualified military personnel."

Career service members on active duty or in the selected reserve on Aug. 1 who are eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill may be entitled to transfer all or a portion of their unused Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement to one or more Family members.

Among the first to take advantage of the Post 9/11 GI Bill was 1st Sgt. Steven Colbert, Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) at Fort Myer, Va. The Old Guard conducts ceremonies in the national capital area, funerals in Arlington National Cemetery, showcases the Army to the nation's citizens and the world, and defends the dignity and honor of fallen comrades at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

"I will be the first to say that the Army is probably the best thing that has ever happened to me. It has given me some of the advantages that I didn't have as a child growing up. One of the reasons why I stayed in so long is because of Jordan (9), my son. Now I have the opportunity to give him something I never had," Colbert said.
Colbert has spent 23 years in the Army with tours throughout Europe and across the U.S.

During his years in the Army, Colbert took advantage of tuition assistance and graduated with a B.S. degree in Management. His wife, Danielle, currently a junior at Prince George's Community College, is working towards her B.A. in Business Administration. Jordan already has big plans.

"I want to go in the Army and play football," Jordan said with a big smile. "But I want to attend Virginia Tech first."

"I didn't put that in his head," Colbert said. "He already has picked that out and with us being here in the DC area, the Post 9/11 GI Bill is perfect. It's a pricey school but these benefits are going to help me be able to take care of's just wonderful. I'm just overwhelmed about the opportunity to really be able to take care of him," Colbert said.

For Soldiers and Army spouses who might want to continue with their studies, the Post 9/11 GI Bill can be used for all levels of degree programs, including a second degree, a master's degree or even a doctorate.

Defense officials are advising service members to transfer at least a month's worth of GI Bill benefit to every dependent before they leave service. This will lock in an opportunity to change the number of months transferred at a later time.

Any family member not approved for transferability before a member retires or separates will be denied the opportunity forever, unless the member re-enters service.

Likewise, veterans who remarry or have more children after leaving service will not be able to transfer GI Bill benefits to these new family members.

"It's recommended that Soldiers add all Family members as potential beneficiaries of their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. Once a Soldier has retired or separated from the Army, they can no longer add new Family members as potential beneficiaries," said Bob Clark, the DoD's assistant director for accession policy and military personnel policy.

As a first sergeant of The Old Guard, Colbert also wants to make sure his Soldiers know about this benefit.

"Because I'm the first sergeant here at Headquarters Company, with all these assets like the Regimental Career counselors, I'm in a unique position to pass this knowledge on to my Soldiers," Colbert said.

A program he's particularly proud of is College 101 which the Fort Myer military community developed with the Army Education Center. Representatives from local colleges and universities will hold an educational fair

"We will have people come in from the education center who will advise Soldiers to take advantage of these benefits, because they have to have some type of educational background to be successful. A lot of us in the Army don't realize it but, hey, it's tough outside that gate, real tough. You've got to have a balance. You've got to be more competitive than the next person," Colbert said.

Tuition is not the only benefit extended to potential college-goers. For students attending school more than half the time, the Post 9/11 GI Bill also pays housing costs, up to a rate equivalent to the Basic Allowance for Housing rate for an E-5 with dependents in the ZIP code where the school is located.

Students are also entitled to a yearly stipend of up to $1,000 to cover the cost of books and supplies, and students from highly rural areas who are transferring to a school may also be entitled to a one-time payment of $500.

"I get choked up just thinking about the benefits I'm able to give my son," Colbert said.
Soldiers could actually elect to transfer benefits to family members beginning June 29, through the Transferability of Educational Benefits Web site at

The Department of Veterans Affairs administers the "Post 9/11 GI Bill," and determines eligibility for education benefits. Further information on eligibility, benefit levels, and application procedures can be found at the VA Web site.

Rob McIlvanes (ANS)


NLOS-LS PAM Missile Hits Moving Target

NetFires, a joint venture between Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, has successfully demonstrated the Non Line-of-Sight-Launch System's (NLOS-LS) Precision Attack Missile's ability to track and target a moving vehicle, reports Army Technology.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

LHD-8 USS Makin Island Conducts Inaugural Flight Ops

USS Makin Island's (LHD 8) Air Department successfully landed helicopters from four of the five armed services while on its way to its commissioning site and new homeport in San Diego.

During the first three days underway, Makin Island completed nearly 250 "touch and go's" (take-off and landing evolutions) with four different types of aircraft, and achieved Aviation Readiness Qualification (ARQ) Underway flight deck certifications.

The aircraft included the Marine Corps' CH-46E Sea Knight, the Navy's MH-53E Super Stallion and HH-65 Dauphin and the Coast Guard's MH-60J Jayhawk helicopters.

This achievement is a significant step toward the ship's overall flight deck certification, a requirement for Makin Island to conduct regular flight operations.

Just days later, Makin Island continued its inaugural week of aviation events and conducted air operations off the coast of Belize in support of U.S. Army CH-47 Chinooks attached to Joint Task Force Bravo. These aircraft and their pilots may be called upon to provide humanitarian relief to South American countries in the event of a natural disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake. By landing on Makin Island, these pilots can now operate off any other other large deck ship which might be mobilized to support the same operation from a sea base.

"We have a lot of senior people, but we also have a lot of junior people and people coming off of shore duty who are a little rusty, so during our in-port period we were doing a lot of simulated flight quarters just to kind of get all the bugs worked out," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 1st Class Michael Fields, flight deck supervisor.

"When we had the first 'birds' (helicopters) come on deck everyone was on the same page, the communication was flowing well and the rust was knocked off."

Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airmen Patrick Morrison is one of Fields' junior Sailors and offered his feedback about the training.

"I know when we did the simulated flight quarters they just kind of had to explain what the aircraft looked like, but when we actually saw them out here it was a little easier to see," said Morrison "I think it went really well. It was pretty smooth."

"It's nice to see them finally get to see the wealth of all their sweat and tears they [offered] putting the flight deck together. Everyone's starting to bond and seeing it is like poetry in motion," added Fields.

Makin Island is currently circumnavigating South America, via the Strait of Magellan, to its new homeport of San Diego. During its transit, the ship is scheduled to make port visits in Brazil, Chile and Peru to support U.S. Southern Command objectives for enhanced maritime security and to share methods and training that will build on U.S. and partner nations' interoperability and strong relations.

A.J. Noe (NNS)
      # END

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

US Peacekeepers for Russian-Georgian Border?

Georgian leaders hope the United States will join the European Union's monitoring effort along the boundary with two breakaway Georgian enclaves, a step they believe could deter aggression from Russian or separatist forces, Georgian Daily quotes a senior Georgian official.


Monday, July 20, 2009

First USN 'America Class' Amphib Warship Begins Construction

A keel laying ceremony for Pre-Commissioning Unit America (LHA 6) was held July 17 at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding's Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss.

The keel was authenticated by ship's sponsor Lynne Pace, the wife of retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, who confirmed that the keel was truly and fairly laid.

The America Class will replace the aging Tarawa Class and will increase the aviation capacity of future big deck amphibious ships in order to maximize the Navy's investment in future aircraft. LHA 6 will use the same gas turbine propulsion plant, zonal electrical distribution and electric auxiliary systems designed and built for the just-delivered USS Makin Island (LHD 8), replacing the maintenance intensive steam turbines of earlier ships. This unique auxiliary propulsion system (APS) was designed for fuel efficiency. Instead of using main propulsion engines to power the ship's shaft, the APS uses two induction-type auxiliary propulsion motors powered from the ship's electrical grid.

"The future USS America represents a balanced solution to achieve an affordable and capable ship that meets the fleet's needs," said Capt. Jeff Riedel, amphibious ships program manager within the Navy's Program Executive Office, Ships. "She's built without a well deck and includes changes to increase her aviation support capabilities, but because we're reusing the proven auxiliary propulsion system we designed for LHD 8, we're avoiding the kind of design and development costs we would normally see with a new ship class."

By providing a sustainable amphibious ship development program, the America class, or LHA replacement, ensures the nation's amphibious fleet remains the centerpiece of expeditionary warfare in support of the Navy and Marine Corps well into the 21st century.

The LHA Replacement Program is the next step in the incremental development of the "Big Deck Amphib." The class is being designed to accommodate the Marine Corps' future aviation combat element, including F-35B Joint Strike Fighter and MV-22 Osprey with additional aviation maintenance capability and increased fuel capacities, while also providing additional cargo stowage capacities and enabling a broader, more flexible command and control capability.

Amphibious warships are designed to support the Marine Corps tenets of operational maneuver from the sea. They must be able to sail in harm's way and provide a rapid buildup of combat power ashore in the face of opposition. Because of their inherent capabilities, these ships have been and will continue to be called upon to also support humanitarian and other contingency missions on short notice.

PEO Ships is responsible for the development and acquisition of U.S. Navy surface ships and is currently managing the design and construction of a wide range of ship classes and small boats and craft. These platforms range from major warships such as frontline surface combatants and amphibious assault ships to air-cushioned landing craft, oceanographic research ships and special warfare craft. PEO Ships has delivered 32 major warships and hundreds of small boats and craft from more than 30 shipyards and boat builders across the United States. (NNS)


DARPA Gives Raytheon MAINGATE Military Network Gateway Contract

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency within the US Department of Defense has contracted Raytheon to provide an interoperable wireless military network gateway, reports Army Technology.
The Mobile Ad-Hoc Interoperability GATEway (MAINGATE) will integrate heterogeneous military, civil or coalition radios into a single network to facilitate unified communications.


ITT Tests Chemical Detector for the US Army

TT Corporation has successfully tested its Joint Contamination Surface Detector (JCSD), a vehicle-mounted tactical detector for the US Army, at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, reports Army Technology.


US Military Wants Review, Reform of Military and Afghan Prisons

A sweeping United States military review calls for overhauling the troubled American-run prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan as well as the entire Afghan jail and judicial systems, a reaction to worries that abuses and militant recruiting within the prisons are helping to strengthen the Taliban, reports the New York Times.


Conflicting Priorities Endanger High-Tech Army Program Conflicting Priorities En

The New York Times features a good summary analysis of the fate of the US Army's Future Combat System or FCS.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Virtual "Ghost Army" Helps US, Partners' War Exercise

It's a ghost army which exists only on video screens, but it is helping U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) as it conducts a live joint and coalition intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) demonstration that spans locations around the globe.The annual demonstration, Empire Challenge (EC), conducted by USJFCOM and its partners on behalf of the under secretary of Defense for intelligence (USD(I)), focuses on providing ISR support to warfighters. Empire Challenge participants include the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and NATO.For this year's Empire Challenge – EC09 - the demo includes a virtual brigade combat team (BCT) in addition to the live ISR assets. Both the live and the virtual assets are working together to form a combined task force that collects, analyzes and shares information. Virtual simulation is used in place of live assets to exercise and experiment with new tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP). "We are careful when using real world systems because we do not want to do anything that may inadvertently cause these capabilities to be affected negatively," said Christopher Jackson, Integration Division chief at USJFCOM's Joint Transformation Command for Intelligence and a principal investigator for EC09. "Accordingly, we use modeling and simulation capabilities to push the envelope and see what works and what does not work in changing how these high demand ISR assets are utilized." The virtual simulation provides an opportunity to test new capabilities and concepts in an environment that is operationally representative of what goes on in the real world, such as determining the proper sensor mix for particular types of targets in different types of environment.Much of this work comes from a partnership between USJFCOM and an industry partner.Northrop Grumman, as part of a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with USJFCOM is providing virtual human-in-the-loop physics-based platform and sensor simulations and contributing technologies to EC09 that enhance ISR utilization in the execution of irregular warfare military operations. "The virtual modeling and simulation environment provided by Northrop Grumman and exercised by the USJFCOM warfighters adds robustness to live demonstrations and provides the analytical underpinning in evaluating alternative net centric ISR architectures," said Chris Frangos, chief architect of advanced programs and technology for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector. "What we learn from these research efforts will lead to innovative approaches to meeting the current and future needs of our warfighter customers." A CRADA is a written agreement between industry and government to work together as partners on a research project of mutual interest. Both partners appoint principal investigators to manage CRADA activities: Jackson for USJFCOM, and Frangos for Northrop Grumman.According to Larry Rhodes, a MITRE employee supporting USJFCOM on the virtual BCT work, an objective for the virtual BCT is to force these sensors to do something they were not built to do. "How do we better optimize the use of individual and combinations of sensors to find the targets that we are looking for today? We have to use a combination of human intelligence, signals intelligence and imagery intelligence. All of those are needed to positively identify a target."Rhodes said that having a virtual BCT is important because in the current budget climate the cost of doing live flying events and moving around the right warfighters will be extremely difficult to sustain in the future. "What we are doing through the CRADA is taking existing ISR capabilities and developing new ways of using these systems," said Jackson. "We make them more effective, efficient and responsive in answering warfighter intelligence requirements." With the support CRADA provides, USJFCOM and Northrop Grumman will use data from EC09 to review ISR concepts and TTPs to address real world ISR issues."I think the government has certainly benefited from the CRADA," Jackson said. "We have gained things we would not have had otherwise. The CRADA gives Empire Challenge the ISR modeling and simulation capability it has never had to any degree in the past. Without the CRADA, it would be very difficult to perform the tasks we have going on right now."Jackson said the virtual BCT, supported by the CRADA, is a win-win for both the government and Northrop Grumman."Most importantly, it ultimately becomes a win for the warfighters on the ground," Jackson said. "We are working towards giving them better situational awareness, better battlespace awareness, better understanding of where the adversary is and what his capabilities are. That is really the goal."Empire Challenge 09 runs through July 31.

Katrina Parker

Friday, July 17, 2009

USAFE's First Air Ground Operations Wing Stands Up at Ramstein AB

The stand up of U.S. Air Forces in Europe's first wing solely dedicated to supporting battlefield Airmen took place during a July 16 ceremony at Ramstein Air Base.

The 435th Air Ground Operations Wing takes over the mission previously performed by two 86th Airlift Wing units here -- the Contingency Response Group and the Air and Space Communications Group -- along with the 4th Air Support Operations Group out of Heidelberg, Germany.

"This is a historic day for Ramstein and for USAFE," said Col. Tom Gould, who took command of the 435th AGOW during the ceremony. "This wing's new capability is certainly one of a kind, from calling in airstrikes to opening bases, the capabilities this wing brings to the European and African theater is tremendous."

The wing consolidates the tactical air control party and battlefield weather specialties of the 4th ASOG, the contingency communications support of the ACOMG, and the expeditionary support to assess, prepare and operate airfields for air expeditionary forces of the CRG. Both of the groups from the 86th AW will now perform their mission under the 435th AGOW.

"The 435th AGOW provides these specialized Airmen with a single command and control structure," Colonel Gould said. "By consolidating these units under one wing, we will be able to standardize our organizational processes and streamline how we train, equip and employ our battlefield Airmen."

As part of the reorganization ceremony, the 435th Air Base Wing was redesignated as the AGOW. The 431st Air Base Group was also officially inactivated during an earlier ceremony. The remaining mission areas of the 435th ABW will merge with the 86th Airlift Wing.

"Realigning our mission under one wing meets the Air Force chief of staff's intent of structuring units by mission," said Brig. Gen. William J. Bender, the 86th Airlift Wing commander. "Our dual-wing team worked extremely well together -- even garnering a dual 'Excellent' rating during our recent Unit Compliance Inspection. We look forward to continuing that great cohesion as we combine our efforts under one wing."

Lt. Gen. Philip J. Breedlove, the 3rd Air Force commander, presided over the ceremony, and remarked on the changes as being a positive step for not only the wings and USAFE, but the Air Force.

"There is nothing wrong with change if it's in the right direction. This reorganization and stand up represents another step in streamlining our operations," the general said. He also challenged Colonel Gould to "find the balance between preserving the proud heritage of this wing and embracing the changes necessary to move forward into today's fight."

The 435th AGOW is the second of its kind in the Air Force. The 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing resides at Moody Air Force Base, Ga.     
   Megan Schafer (AFNS)
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UCAVs Testing Revealed

It's no secret that unmanned aircraft are widely used in today's war to provide information, surveillance and armed reconnaissance. What's not widely known is the evaluation process these aircraft go through before they are delivered to the warfighter.

Members of Detachment 5 of the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center at Edwards AFB (CA) test the MQ-1 Predator and three versions of the RQ-4 Global Hawk under realistic combat conditions to inform decision makers on the capabilities of the aircraft.

"We're going to set up scenarios on ranges and test complexes to stress the system," said Maj. Brian Maddox, the airborne signals intelligence payload test director.

These scenarios involve operators, maintainers, pilots and intelligence personnel performing exercises to imitate real-world situations. These operational tests are where the system's effectiveness is determined and the results are evaluated to ensure Airmen and joint coalition partners get the capabilities they need to complete their mission today and tomorrow.

"Airmen have been engaged in continuous combat for more than 18 years, and our Air Force is actively searching for ways to rapidly enhance our effectiveness at all levels," said Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Sargeant, the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center commander. "The warfighter is demanding the entire acquisition community rapidly develop, test and field urgently needed and often increasingly complex weapon systems, like the UAS."

The Global Hawk is becoming increasingly complex as its capabilities are increased. Detachment 5 members test these capabilities on three versions: the Global Hawk Block 20, 30 and 40.

Block 20 is an improvement on the Block 10 airframe, a proven intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance weapons system. The Block 20 has an increased wingspan of almost 15 feet, increased payload capacity of 1,000 pounds, new sensor capabilities and a new generator providing up to a 150 percent increase in electrical power.

The Block 30 aircraft carries the airborne signals intelligence payload that will increase battlefield signal collection capabilities, situational awareness and intelligence gathering across large areas of land.

The Block 40 version incorporates the multiplatform radar technology insertion program that provides high fidelity ground moving target indication and high quality radar imagery.

"The level of technology that we're at is now game changing," said Maj. Paul Wojtowicz, a test division UAS pilot for AFOTEC. "We can have an aircraft go and fly an entire 30-plus-hour mission almost hands off, return and taxi in.  (The RQ-4) is an amazing bit of technology."

Major Wojtowicz began his career flying the C-5 Galaxy then became an instructor pilot before he was assigned to Detachment 5.

"It's a lot different and not necessarily as easy as everyone would assume because it poses a lot more challenges when you're flying from the ground with a mouse, not even with a stick," Major Wojtowicz said.

Major Maddox agreed, but they both realize the importance of the UAS test mission. Major Maddox has flown the C-130 Hercules, F-15E Strike Eagle, the U-2 and a hand full of trainers and realized that with UAs he had to change the way he thought about flying.

"I'm not yanking and banking in my F-15, but I'm doing an important job," Major Maddox said. "As servicemembers, you have to kind of get away from that fighter pilot mentality and look at the bigger picture. You talk to some of the Army Soldiers and they say that the (UA) has saved their behind."

Detachment 5 consists of a team of Airmen and contractors dedicated to improve the unmanned aircraft to minimize risk and save coalition force's lives by ensuring they are fully capable.

"The fact that you can actually influence the design, make it better before it gets out to the warfighter is deeply satisfying," said Keith Sanders, the technical adviser for AFOTEC Detachment 5.

"Knowing that system is better because of what our team both developmental and operational--have done together to improve it is satisfying," Mr. Sanders said. "Hopefully, once it gets out there it will absolutely exceed the warfighters needs."

AFOTEC currently operates five detachments and 12 operating locations across the United States.

Matthew McGovern
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US Navy Captain is F-35 Vice Ops Grp Cmdr at Eglin AFB

With the arrival of the first senior staff member at the future wing for Joint Strike Fighter training, the vision of our nation's next generation flying fighting force starts to become a reality.

Navy Capt. Mike Saunders arrived at Eglin a few weeks ago and has been soaking up all the knowledge he can from the F-35 Joint Site Activation Task Force here while shadowing current operations at the 33rd Fighter Wing and meeting Team Eglin leadership.

"It's exciting because it is brand new," said the future 33rd Operations Group deputy commander. "I'm honored to be selected to come down here and help put this together. What this capability brings will be good for our nation."

With leading U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) and Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center training departments on his resume, it seems no wonder this experienced fighter pilot with 4,000 hours was selected to co-lead the next generation of flying war fighters.

"Understanding each other's capabilities is critical to being able to effectively employ together," said Captain Saunders about his experience flying mixed packages of aircraft in a joint fighting force. "Picking the right guys means looking for special qualities and leadership with various backgrounds across all fighter communities that can leverage off each other's experience."

Rigorous selection will mean accepting more cadre from each service he said possess the right stuff; experienced with combat and training hours piloting aircraft like the FA-18 Hornet and the F-16 Fighting Falcon as Capt. Saunders does. They will also most likely have joint assignments on their resume like the F-15 Pilot Exchange Program the Captain completed at Kadena Air Base, Japan.

Leading the F-35 joint training school here means commanders will represent different branches of service as well. Captain Saunders said he looks forward to leading under the vision of Air Force Col. James Ravella, future group commander who arrives next month. October 1, an Air Force colonel will officially assume command of the 33rd FW with a Marine colonel as the vice wing commander.

"I'm told it's the largest Department of Defense program ever budgeted for," said Captain Saunders.

"We are standing up a joint and combined training capability for Navy, Air Force and Marines as well as allies, our international partners," said Lt. Col. Mike Farrell, F-35 Joint SATAF Chief. "We are building new buildings and integrating with Team Eglin and the community"

The fiscal year 2010 33rd OG is designed to host three squadrons, one for each service: Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. There will be standardized pilot training to provide basic familiarization with the F-35, like instrument flying, weapons and tactical training. Additionally, the Marines will extend the curriculum to add training in short take-off and vertical landing operations for forward base operations and for operations from assault carriers. The Navy will add training to qualify for operations aboard aircraft carriers.

Each service has been involved in JSF design to ensure their configuration meets the needs of their service. For the U.S. Navy, the JSF will be used in a "first day" of war, as a survivable strike fighter aircraft to complement F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, according to the JSF Program Office, Washington D.C.  

Captain Saunders has first-hand experience of the "first day," and particularly remembers launching jets quickly off the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. In 2005 he returned to Southwest Asia to sustain operations and patrols.

"My guess is the JSF has plenty of power and reliability especially needed in the middle of the ocean," said the Navy pilot who can only right now imagine what life will be like flying the JSF next year. "It's designed as a fifth generation fighter. We'll continue to upgrade the fourth generation, but it will never get to the capability of the JSF. That's why we want to get the aircraft up and running, we need to stay one step ahead of any potential adversary."

Instructor pilots are supposed to trickle into the 33rd FW by the end of the year so by the time the first JSF arrives about a dozen fighter pilots will be anxiously ready to fly.

"You can have the knowledge but the experience brings the wisdom," said Captain Saunders.

Next on Captain Saunders "to do" list is travel to the F-35 developer, Lockheed Martin, for hands-on familiarization with hopes to be there when they roll out the Navy F-35 JSF C model this summer. Additionally he'll take time to meet with Navy leadership to ensure he's right on track with his service's goals for the next generation.

"When I look back on my 29 years in the military, I ask how I've been lucky enough to do all this," said the Navy pilot. "I've been fortunate to have had some great bosses and worked with truly outstanding people throughout my career."

With "blue" in his blood being raised by an Air Force father, a yearning to fly and an interest in history, the Captain started his military career in the 1980s as an enlisted RF-4C flight simulator mechanic with the Nebraska Air National Guard. In 1985, he graduated from the University of Nebraska and was commissioned through Aviation Officer Candidate School.

"I'm doing what I love to do and my family supports me," said Captain Saunders. "Selected as part of the leadership and charged to stand up the JSF here at Eglin AFB is indeed an honor."

Chrissy Cutita (AFNS)

12-nation Heavy Airlift Wing takes flight with first C-17

Twelve nations saw their dreams of strategic airlift come true as the multinational Heavy Airlift Wing they've built from scratch in less than a year received the "keys" to its first C-17 Globemaster III July 14 in Long Beach, Calif.

During a ceremony at Boeing's final assembly facility, Col. John Zazworsky who commands the HAW in a multinational capacity, officially received the first of three C-17s to be acquired by the Strategic Airlift Capability Program's consortium.

The consortium includes NATO member nations Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United States, as well as Partnership for Peace nations Finland and Sweden.

"This is an unprecedented milestone for these 12 nations," Colonel Zazworsky said. "They've shared a common need for strategic airlift, yet they've each faced the financial obstacle of independently acquiring a heavy airlifter. Now, they collectively own an amazing machine that will serve them well.

"Since September 2008 when the consortium's memorandum of understanding went into effect, we've tirelessly worked to build from scratch what's essentially a multinational air force -- without a real template of any kind," the colonel said. "Our timeline has been aggressive, but we're prepared to safely fly SAC 01."

While some of the 11 European nations participating in the program own tactical airlifters, including the C-130, SAC 01, as the first C-17 is known, represents the first strategic airlift asset for all 11 nations. And given each nation's commitment to support NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, the HAW's eventual C-17 fleet of three will make transporting troops and supplies to Afghanistan more efficient and economical.

Colonel Zazworsky knows this fact well, having flown the C-17 himself for years and having commanded C-17 units both stateside and in expeditionary roles in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"SAC 01 is going to be a huge enabler for all the nations involved," he explained. "And that's really what it's all about -- building capacity through partnership."

At the hands of HAW pilots from Norway, Sweden and the U.S., SAC 01 departed Long Beach for Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., shortly after the delivery ceremony, beginning its 5,300-nautical-mile maiden flight home to Pápa Air Base, Hungary, the HAW's home base.

But to make the most of the miles, HAW loadmasters, also from Norway, Sweden and the U.S., will load SAC 01 at Charleston AFB with specialized heavy equipment, like cargo loading vehicles and forklifts, which will enable the HAW to carry out logistics support functions at Pápa AB.

"I feel fortunate to be on the first trip with the airplane," said Royal Norwegian Air Force Capt. Havard Brorby, a HAW loadmaster who trained at the C-17 Aircrew Training Center at Altus AFB, Okla., this spring. "My country would never be able to have an aircraft like this, but now it's possible."

According to Colonel Zazworsky, SAC 01 will begin operational missions in support of the nations' requirements by the end of the month, just days after the wing's official activation ceremony July 27. Many of those missions will be flown to meet the nations' commitments to ISAF.

With the second and third C-17s rounding out the HAW fleet of heavy airlifters in September and October, respectively, the HAW anticipates flying roughly 630 hours before the end of 2009, and scheduling more than 3,100 flying hours in 2010.

The nations' varying investments in the SAC Program dictate their proportionate share of the flying hours as well as their proportionate contribution of personnel. For instance, the U.S. has provided roughly 30 percent of the funding, will use 30 percent of the annual flying hours and has committed 41 Airmen, or roughly 30 percent of the HAW's 131 total positions.

The HAW itself is a small wing by many nations' standards, but other entities will augment the overall mission. Some 70 Boeing contractors will provide material management and depot maintenance support for the HAW's C-17s. A NATO agency of roughly three dozen individuals will handle acquisition, logistics support and financial matters. And finally, the Hungarian air force, as host at Pápa AB, will manage the airfield, air traffic control operations and base infrastructure support.

Cristin Marposon (AFNS)
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