Monday, November 30, 2009
As part of a consolidation of its command structure ahead of next year’s planned troop reductions, the U.S. military will drop the 'Multi-National' name from its unit designations starting in January. The last non-U.S. troops, from the United Kingdom, Australia and Romania, left Iraq in July.
Under the plan, the top two levels of the U.S. command, known as Multi-National Forces—Iraq and Multi-National Corps—Iraq, will be merged and renamed U.S. Forces—Iraq."
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Rear Adm. Scott Sanders, commander, Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, transferred from USS Chosin (CG 65), flagship of CTF 151, on an APECS II Lynx helicopter (Mk 95) from the Portuguese frigate Alveras Cabral, to meet with newest member Commodore Jose Pereira de Cunha, NATO commander, Combined Task Force 508 and Commodore Pieter Bindt, force commander of European Naval Force Somalia Combined Task Force 465.
The CTF leaders meet monthly to discuss and coordinate current and future operations off the coast of Somalia."
The Arctic roadmap was developed by the Navy's Task Force Climate Change, a matrixed organization that includes representatives from various staff and program offices and the operational fleet, with the collaboration of the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
'As the Arctic Ocean continues to show a long-term trend in sea ice decline, the potential for increased human access and activity in the region will some day likely require a greater Navy presence there to protect national interests,' said Rear Adm. Dave Titley, oceanographer of the Navy, who is leading the task force.
Although the Arctic remains a challenging environment, the potential for resource extraction, like oil, gas, and minerals, and the attraction of significantly shorter shipping routes, will likely attract commercial interests."
The ceremony honored the PC V F-15 detachment known as the U.S. Air Force's 428th Fighter Squadron. The unit will operate up to 12 F-15SG fighter aircraft at the base, and feature Singapore and American Airmen working side by side.
The detachment of approximately 16 U.S. Air Force, 250 Republic of Singapore air force personnel, and 95 contractors to include pilots, weapons system officers and ground crew, will implement air-to-air and air-to-ground training and development programs. A core group of fully qualified F-15SG air and ground crew will bring the F-15SG fighter aircraft up to full operational capability by 2012."
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Training with other units from the 8th U.S. Army and Republic of Korea Army, the 2nd ID used the WARSIM system during Warpath II/III Oct. 5 - 16 and Nov. 6 - 19, respectively.
'The division was chosen, first and foremost, because Korea is one of the premier locations where we focus on full spectrum operations,' said Lt. Col. Irvin Pete, exercise chief for 8th Army's Training and Exercises directorate. 'Integration of simulations into our training plan is not only a good idea, but has always been a necessary tool used to drive both joint and Army command post exercises.'"
Monday, November 23, 2009
As operations in Iraq and Afghanistan change over the next few years, the Guard should not be allowed to revert to being simply a strategic reserve, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told an audience at the National Guard's Joint Senior Leadership Conference at the National Harbor."
Utilizing the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sea as a research platform, three cross-shelf transects were surveyed and sampled off Alaska's North Slope at Hammerhead, Thetis Island and Halkett representing three regions of the Alaskan shelf. The expedition integrated expertise in coastal geophysics, sediment geochemistry, dissolved and free methane fluxes through the water column and into the atmosphere, sediment and water column microbiology and biogeochemistry and detailed characterization of the sub-seafloor geology.
'The objective of the sampling is to help determine variations in the shallow sediment and water column methane sources, methane cycling and the subsequent flux to the atmosphere"
The same type of large industrial sized X-ray scanners that NASA uses to detect flaws in the space shuttle's behemoth solid fuel rockets is now allowing scientists to peek inside the giant head of a whale. The scans are providing detailed three-dimensional replicas of a whale's hearing anatomy using a breakthrough method developed by Dr. Ted Cranford, a marine biologist sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Chief of Naval Operations Environmental Readiness Division (N45)."
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
'China is changing the way that espionage is being done,' said Carolyn Bartholomew, the chair of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
In its wide-ranging annual report to Congress, the commission reported a steep rise in the disruption and infiltration of websites of the US government"
'UAVs are increasingly called upon to perform strike operations, and this weapon technology is designed specifically for those missions,' said Carl Avila, director of Boeing Phantom Works' Advanced Weapons and Missiles.
'The concept behind this technology is designed to generate very low collateral damage and allows warfighters to engage a variety of targets, including those in a suburban terrain environment.'"
The tests seek to confirm the production readiness of the APKWS rocket and its ability to meet Navy and Marine Corps requirements, including safely launching from a helicopter, and reliably acquiring, tracking, and hitting laser-designated targets.
In the most recent testing, a laser-guided rocket fired from a U.S. Marine Corps Cobra helicopter hit a stationary target."
During the U.S. Air Force-sponsored tests at the Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, Calif., the Mobile Active Targeting Resource for Integrated eXperiments (MATRIX), which was developed by Boeing under contract to the Air Force Research Laboratory, used a single, high-brightness laser beam to shoot down five UAVs at various ranges. Laser Avenger, a Boeing-funded initiative, also shot down a UAV. Representatives of the Air Force and Army observed the tests.
"The Air Force and Boeing achieved a directed-energy breakthrough with these tests," said Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Missile Defense Systems' Directed Energy Systems unit. "MATRIX's performance is especially noteworthy because it demonstrated unprecedented, ultra-precise and lethal acquisition, pointing and tracking at long ranges using relatively low laser power."
Bill Baker, chief scientist of the Air Force Research Laboratory's Directed Energy Directorate, praised his team and Boeing for these successful UAV shootdowns.
"These tests validate the use of directed energy to negate potential hostile threats against the homeland," Baker said. "The team effort of Boeing and the Air Force in developing MATRIX will pay major dividends for the warfighter now and in the years ahead."
As part of the overall counter-UAV demonstration, Boeing also successfully test-fired a lightweight 25mm machine gun from the Laser Avenger platform to potentially further the hybrid directed energy/kinetic energy capability against UAV threats.
Boeing Directed Energy Systems, based in Albuquerque, developed MATRIX, a mobile, trailer-mounted test bed that integrates with existing test-range radar. Directed Energy Systems and Boeing Combat Systems in St. Louis cooperatively developed Laser Avenger, which integrates a directed-energy weapon together with the existing kinetic weapons on the proven Avenger air defense system developed by Combat Systems.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The security team embarked aboard Maersk-Alabama responded to the attack by using evasive maneuvers, Long-Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs) and small arms fire, causing the suspected pirates to break off their attack.
'Due to Maersk Alabama following maritime industry's best-practices such as embarking security teams, the ship was able to prevent being successfully attacked by pirates,' said Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. 'This is a great example of how merchant mariners can take pro-active action to prevent being attacked and why we recommend that ships follow industry best practices if they're in high-risk areas.'"
The U.S. Air Force Academy Parachute Team performs during the Aviation Nation air show on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Nov. 15, 2009. The demonstration team includes cadets and instructors. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The two countries vowed to take 'concrete steps to advance sustained and reliable military-to-military relations in the future,' according to a joint statement released after their summit in the Chinese capital.
The statement added both sides were preparing for an exchange of visits between top defence officials, including General Chen Bingde, chief of the Chinese military's general staff, and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates."
State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said negotiators were still hammering out details of the deal announced in July by presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev during a Moscow summit."
Thomas Meitzler, a research scientist at the Michigan-based organization, said the aim is to give troops real-time situational awareness of the health, condition and structural integrity of their vehicle's armor.
'Currently, the standard procedure is to go out of the vehicle, walk around and look at it,' Meitzler said"
Monday, November 16, 2009
The Obama administration cannot afford to make the same mistake. Linking the new Afghan strategy with a broader southwest Asia formula would reinforce U.S. and ISAF efforts within Afghanistan by securing its borders both militarily and politically."
Friday, November 13, 2009
When the musket was added to the infantryman's standard issue, common sense dictates the impact it had on the sword; and when cruise missiles were introduced to naval fleets, strategies and concepts of operations on how ships can support battle changed completely.
Now, directed energy and hypersonic weapons could well herald the next era in naval armaments. In 2008, the Electromagnetic Rail Gun (EMG) was officially named an Innovative Naval Prototype (INP) by the Office of Naval Research, and by 2010 the Free Electron Laser (FEL) is also to be designated an INP – testaments to the priority the Navy places on these new weapons systems.
Two Naval Postgraduate School faculty members from the Department of Physics, Pprofessor Bill Colson and Senior Lecturer Bill Maier, are bringing these cutting edge directed energy weapons to fruition. With the help of several students and researchers, they are researching and developing advanced high-energy technologies that could revolutionize maritime warfare over the next few decades.
"These are futuristic weapons," Colson said. "But if they work as we think they will, they are going to revolutionize the way ships defend themselves -- as revolutionary as guns were to swords." Colson was referring to a concept he has been working on for several years -- utilizing a high-energy, free electron laser for shipboard defense.
"The FEL is a speed-of-light weapon," Colson explained. "We can now 'see' threats at the speed of light, thanks to advanced radar systems. Directed energy will enable us to deliver lethal power to destroy those threats also at the speed of light…There will be no effective evasive maneuvers."
In addition to the system's speed, it's accuracy is impressive.
"The FEL is a 'surgical' weapon," Colson noted. "We don't just track and hit an incoming missile in flight; we hit a specific part of that missile that most readily leads to its destruction."
Free Electron Laser research has also just entered a new era at the Naval Postgraduate School. Colson, who has been researching the weapon system for more than 20 years, recently led the school's acquisition of Stanford University's FEL. With a FEL now on campus, he and his students and other researchers can now test their concepts on the actual cutting-edge technology, in addition to leading collaborations with other laboratories and industry.
Earlier this year, NPS FEL researchers successfully demonstrated the first test firing of the injector cathode of the newly acquired FEL, which Colson called "the first beam from the new Stanford FEL system achieved at NPS." Naval Postgraduate School President Daniel Oliver fired the first official test shot with Provost Leonard Ferrari and the dean of the Graduate School of Engineering and Applied Sciences also in attendance.
Equally advanced, and equally revolutionary, is Maier's research on the Electromagnetic Rail Gun. With an EMG, projectiles sliding along a pair of fixed rails are accelerated by passing a high current down one rail, through the projectile, and back down the other rail.
Navy rail gun systems in development nominally use currents as high as six million amperes to produce 35,000 Gs of acceleration over 10 meters. In Maier's lab on the NPS campus, a current of only about 300,000 amperes produces projectile acceleration of about 500,000 Gs over a distance of less than one foot, to velocities of several times the speed of sound.
Unlike the FEL, which is primarily a defensive weapon, this futuristic, hypersonic weapon holds the potential of replacing medium-range offensive cruise missiles for some DoD applications.
"The rail gun is designed for targets within a range of approximately 200 to 300 nautical miles," Maier explained. "It might take 15 to 20 minutes for a cruise missile to reach its target at this distance, whereas a rail gun projectile might take only six minutes or so to reach the target. And, as opposed to just one cruise missile, you could launch maybe 10 rail gun projectiles in a very short time."
Rail gun projectiles also don't require any explosives -- the energy from the projectile's impact at hypersonic speeds is enough to cause sufficient damage to the target. Its projectiles will, however, require some kind of incorporated self-guidance system, given the long distances they will need to travel.
Although rail gun research is conducted at several laboratories and universities, Maier and his students are conducting what he calls "innovative research" on concepts and designs for the futuristic weapon. This summer, he and his team tested a round barrel design, which would be much cheaper to both build and maintain.
Another major benefit of both the FEL and EMG is that neither requires chemical propellants of any kind. Instead, as Maier noted, the ship's existing fuel powers their generators, making it safer for onboard Sailors who are at much greater risk if a ship carrying a high volume of explosives is hit by an incoming.
The potential cost savings for these new breakthrough weapons is also extraordinary. A medium range cruise missile can cost anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million, while a rail gun projectile would cost on the order of $10,000. Given their smaller size, ships can easily store and manage a large quantity of rail gun ammunition.
The cost savings with the Free Electron Laser are even greater. As Colson notes, since the ship's existing fuel source powers the FEL's generators, the cost of firing the laser equates to "maybe a couple of gallons of the ship's fuel."
In support of directed energy research, the Naval Postgraduate School will soon open a new laboratory dedicated to supporting the FEL program, later this year. Currently, more than a dozen students are conducting their master's thesis work on the FEL and rail gun.
Colson and Maier, who teach one of the only courses dedicated to FEL and Rail Gun technology anywhere, hope to see the fruits of their research ready for shipboard testing by 2020.
Kellie Arakawa (NNS)
Members of the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony on Camp Losano Oct. 14 in celebration of the build-up of the wing's new headquarters compound.
"The new headquarters symbolizes the growth and expansion of the U.S. Air Force and our partnership between the U.S., coalition nations and the citizens of Afghanistan," said narrator 1st Lt. Zaqueo Salazar from the 451st Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron.
The build-up, which consists of 11 separate projects, will include fourteen two-story billeting facilities housing 500 to 700 Airmen. Three hardened facilities with a total of 18,000 square feet of space for administrators will become the new 451st Air Expeditionary Wing, 451st Expeditionary Operations Group and 451st Expeditionary Mission Support Group headquarters. The new medical clinic will also relocate there.
Completion of these projects is scheduled for spring of 2010. Total costs amount to approximately $7 million.
Manas enhances mission with new CE facilities
11/10/2009 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan -- The 376th Civil Engineer Squadron personnel completed the construction of three new facilities during a ribbon cutting ceremony held at the Transit Center at Manas' new fire station Nov. 9, 2009.
The facilities, worth an estimated $2 million dollars in construction projects, include the fire station, maintenance warehouse and the explosive ordnance disposal team emergency management buildings.
"We were previously living in tents," said Anthony Hernandez, fire chief for the 376th ECES fire emergency service. "The new fire station will allow us to work in a more conducive environment."
Unlike the former fire station, the new fire station has several individual offices and bunk rooms for shift workers.
"We have separate offices now so that we can conduct our own business individually," the fire chief said. "It also provides more privacy and better accommodations for our personnel. It's a more commendable place."
This move to the new facility is more beneficial in terms of camaraderie because a lot of different squadron members come together to make this move a big success, he added.
Lt. Col. Mike Mendoza, 376th ECES commander, also echoed the fire chief's comment.
The new facilities, which replaced the old tent, are larger and can accommodate enhanced operations to improve our support for the wing's mission, Colonel Mendoza said.
"The new fire station, for example, cost about half a million and helps us to consolidate the operations of our fire stations, which used to be in two separate tents, into one complete usable facility," he explained.
"This really enhances our operations," said Colonel Mendoza.
With the new facilities, the 376th ECES members can now get, store and maintain their equipment better. Another advantage of the new facilities is that personnel have a bigger, better weather-tolerant facility to work out of.
"Obviously (with the new facilities) our personnel are well taken care of," said the colonel. "In general, the working environment in all these facilities is improved."
Colonel Mendoza thanked all the units that helped support the facilities' construction and facilitated the move.
"It's a huge team effort that went into these buildings," Colonel Mendoza said. "There were a lot of people involved, and in the end, we have a good product. Basically, this project is a labor of love. All the hard work, teamwork and labor have paid off; we have something that we can be very proud of. In the end, it reflects well on our team and our abilities here at the Transit Center."
Lockheed Martin’s JASSM-Extended Range Missile Maintains Perfect Success Rate with Latest Flight Test | Lockheed Martin
“JASSM-ER’s test successes are a result of a dedicated team effort,” said Col. Stephen Demers, JASSM Program Manager and 308th Armament Systems Group Commander. “We’ve built an impressive missile with an unrivaled capability for our Warfighters.”
During the latest successful flight test, the missile was released from a B-1B aircraft and flew a preplanned course to collect data, and then destroyed the designated target.
“The JASSM-ER flight test confirmed the missile’s ability to be employed from the aft weapons bay of the B-1B,” said Randy Bigum, vice president of Strike Weapons at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “The flight test also completed performance data collection that may be used to fine-tune navigation algorithms.”"
In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates dated October 29, McCain asked a series of detailed questions about how bids for the program would be evaluated, how decisions were made about requirements for the new airplanes, and whether the new rules would favor mostly smaller airplanes."
U.S. GAO - Defense Acquisitions: Strategic Airlift Gap Has Been Addressed, but Tactical Airlift Plans Are Evolving as Key Issues Have Not Been Resolved
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Yemen's official Saba news agency said that the cooperation agreement was signed during talks in the capital Sanaa on Tuesday between the two countries' militaries.
The news agency also quoted Brigadier General Jeffrey Smith, the commander of the US 5th Signal Command, as renewing Washington's support for Yemen's unity, security and stability."
USS Constitution's primary mission will remain education and public outreach, and any Ship of State functions will be an adjunct to the ship's primary mission, according the National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2010 in section 1022. It is the sense of Congress that the president, vice president, executive branch officials, and members of Congress should use the USS Constitution for the conducting of pertinent matters of state, such as hosting visiting heads of state, signing legislation relating to the armed forces, and signing maritime related treaties."
Air Force to blend UAV guidance and smart munitions in upcoming weapons experiments - Military & Aerospace Electronics
U.S. military service by immigrants has a long and proud tradition, going back to the Revolutionary War. Immigrants have served in America's wars with great distinction. Many have won the Congressional Medal of Honor, America's highest military decoration."
But, said Andrew Krepinevich, who is also a former member of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessments, that spending surge has resulted in a “hollow” buildup that doesn’t really add to the Army’s assets in a significant way, as equipment continues to be worn out by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That situation is unlikely to be remedied as long as the burden of fighting two wars falls heavily on the Army"
The Army plans on purchasing more than 12,500 XM-25 systems starting in 2012, which will be enough to put one in each Infantry squad and Special Forces team, according to officials at Program Executive Office-Soldier.
At first glance, the XM-25 looks like something out of a Sci-Fi movie. It features an array of sights, sensors and lasers housed in a Target Acquisition Fire Control unit on top, an oversized magazine behind the trigger mechanism, and a short, ominous barrel wrapped by a recoil dampening sleeve.
Unlike a Hollywood prop, however, this weapon is very real and designed to accurately deliver an explosive round that neutralizes targets at distances of up to 700 meters - well past the range of the rifles and carbines that most Soldiers carry today.
"What makes this weapon system truly revolutionary is the ability to target the enemy, pass on this information to the sensors and microchips of its 25mm HEAB round, and have that round detonate over the target," explained Maj. Shawn Murray, a Soldier Weapons assistant product manager in PEO Soldier, the organization responsible for developing the XM-25.
"When the HEAB round explodes, the target is peppered with fragmentation," Murray said. "Our studies indicate that the XM-25 with HEAB is 300 percent more effective at incapacitating the enemy than current weapons at the squad level."
Because of the XM-25's unique TAFC and HEAB round, Soldiers will be able to engage enemy forces located in the open and "in defilade" -behind cover, such as walls, rocks, trenches, or inside buildings. The semi-automatic weapon's magazine holds four 25mm rounds and can be employed at night or during inclement weather thanks to the XM25's built-in thermal sight.
After only five minutes of instruction at the Aberdeen Test Center, Sgt. Logan E. Diveley from the 180th Infantry Regiment was able to put his first HEAB round through a building's window and take out an enemy mannequin at 200 meters.
When asked what he thought of the weapon, Diveley responded, "I've been in over nine contacts with the enemy during my two tours in Iraq. Their ambushes were usually initiated with an IED and followed up with small arms fire from behind walls and buildings, places where it was hard for us to get at them. The XM-25 would have taken care of things and made our jobs much easier."
Once downrange and in the building where the defeated enemy mannequin lay, Maj. Murray noted the limited collateral damage associated with the XM-25.
"Because of its pinpoint accuracy and relatively small warheads, the XM25 can neutralize an enemy without the need to destroy a whole building," Murray said. "For our counter-insurgency operations to be successful, it is important to keep collateral damage to a minimum and to protect the civilian population. I think the XM-25 will prove itself many times over in Afghanistan," Murray said.
The XM-25 is being developed by PEO Soldier, the Army acquisition organization responsible for nearly every piece of equipment worn or carried by Soldiers. This includes items ranging from socks, to weapons, to advanced sensor and communication devices. PEO Soldier bases much of its work on the feedback from individual Soldiers, developing or procuring solutions to meet those needs.
The development of the XM-25 is one such a program, designed to provide Soldiers a solution for dealing with enemies in the open and behind cover that is more precise, quicker to employ, and more cost effective than mortar, artillery, or airstrikes.
A Battlefield Scenario for the XM-25
An American patrol nears a walled, Afghan village when an enemy combatant looks over the wall and fires his AK-47 rifle at the oncoming U.S. Soldiers. The Americans return fire with their rifles and maneuver, but find it difficult to neutralize the enemy rifleman who repeatedly exposes himself for only a second, shoots, then ducks behind the thick wall. At this time, the patrol leader calls for the XM-25 gunner to take action.
Immediately, the XM-25 gunner aims the laser range-finder at the top of the wall where the enemy last ducked down. The gunner presses the laser range finder button on the front of the XM-25's trigger guard and records a distance to the wall of 451 meters. The distance is displayed on the TAFC's optical lens along with an adjusted aim point, or "cross hair," to help the soldier better aim the XM-25.
The adjusted aim point takes into account air pressure, temperature, and the ballistics of the 25mm round for the given range of 451 meters. The soldier then uses the increment button on the trigger guard and adds one more meter to the firing solution since the enemy combatant is about one meter behind the wall.
Upon pulling the trigger, the TAFC programs the HEAB round in the chamber of the weapon, telling the round to explode at 452 meters from launch point. The HEAB round departs the rifled barrel, arms at 30 meters, clears the top of the wall at 451 meters and explodes its two warheads at 452 meters, right above the enemy. The entire firing sequence takes the gunner less than five seconds to aim and fire and another 2.5 seconds for the round to fly and explode over the target, thereby clearing the way for the patrol to resume its mission.
Chris Lehner (ANS)
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The 129th Rescue Wing sent 23 Guard members and an MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft equipped with a prototype situation awareness system during Bold Quest 2009 to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., to assess technical and procedural solutions to improve the combat effectiveness of coalition forces, according to the JFCOM Web site.
In the past, rescuers were constrained to voice only communications in their lifesaving missions. Air Guard rescue forces responding to Hurricane Ike last year identified the data link capability as being the highest priority improvement for homeland emergency response operations on a large scale.
"Voice communications have always been an Achilles heel in the coordination of time-sensitive rescue operations," said Lt. Col. Steve Butow, the deputy director of the 129th Operations Group and deployed commander during Bold Quest 2009. "The voice communications frequencies rapidly become saturated during disasters because of the volume of information being passed."
The 129th RQW's operational experience provided momentum for generating a data link solution that underwent an operational utility evaluation in April at the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Test Center in Tucson, Ariz.
"The Air Guard has taken a lead role in the test and evaluation of situational awareness capabilities, enabling personnel recovery for the warfighter and for homeland emergency response operations," Colonel Butow said.
Testing the Air Guard's situational awareness capabilities in digitally aided personnel recovery, Bold Quest 2009 was an opportunity to integrate data link-enabled air and ground forces from joint and coalition components in a simulated battlespace, Colonel Butow said. The architecture, forces and concept of operations were representative of Afghanistan, and scenarios involved austere, woodland and urban environments.
The 129th RQW rescue MC-130P crews flew eight missions as airborne mission commander supporting more than 20 personnel recovery events. Airborne mission commander duties were performed by combat rescue officers who coordinated recovery efforts with joint terminal attack controllers on the ground.
"The crews were developing new tactics, techniques and procedures pretty much every time they flew," said Maj. Jose Agredano, the 129th Operations Group chief of tactics and deployed director of operations during Bold Quest 2009. "The system is new to rescue so we were literally discovering different ways to utilize SADL every event."
The personnel recovery events involved the employment of a variety of aircraft and forces, including F-15E Strike Eagles, Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcons, Canadian air force F-18 Hornets, and quick reaction forces from the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division.
According to Colonel Butow, the digitally aided personnel recovery events produced the following achievements:
-- Data link minimized voice communications, allowing more effective coordination of recovery tasks.
-- The rescue MC-130P maintained superior situational awareness in the terminal area and coordinated critical support requirement with the air support operations center.
-- The rescue MC-130P streamed secure video to the JTAC during recoveries, increasing the ground force commander's situational awareness and relieving intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets that would normally perform this function.
-- Precise position information and identification was digitally distributed over land and air data link networks enabling the rescue MC-130P to coordinate recovery as the airborne mission commander.
-- A personnel recovery coordination cell located within the air support operations center provided real-time intelligence and command and control information to the airborne mission commander.
-- NASA COSPAS search and rescue satellite-aided tracking was used to collect beacon activations and provide GEO coordinate information to the Bold Quest 2009 command and control network.
Because of these accomplishments, all members of the personnel recovery task force shared a common operating picture enabling unity of effort, Colonel Butow said. "The Bold Quest experience has proven invaluable in assessing current capabilities and defining requirements for the rescue H/MC-130 role in digitally aided personnel recovery. "
"The spin-off benefit is that we have gained a new capability for wide area catastrophic events such as hurricanes or earthquakes," he added.
And, if it's successful, it could impact significantly on U.S.-led negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear ambitions by demonstrating the Iranians' growing mastery of missile technology.
Satellite launch vehicles such as the two-stage Safir-2, believed to be a modified Shehab-3 intermediate-range ballistic missile, are generally considered to have a potential application as an intercontinental ballistic missile."
The jammer will complete the Navy's fielding of a flexible, adaptable weapon that will help defeat enemies on the electronic battlefield, whose weapons can range from those developed in defense laboratories to weapons procured from the corner store."
Obama also said he wanted to one day become the first sitting US president to visit the nuclear-bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, while Japan said it would help the US effort in Afghanistan with five billion dollars in aid.
On the sensitive security issues, Obama said he understood Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's government wanted to review the two nation's post-war security alliance after it ended five decades of conservative rule in September."
The I and D phase will span 17 months and conclude with a live-fire test at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, where the Army will down-select a design to proceed into the engineering and manufacturing design and demonstration (EMDD) phase."
The chaplains are the first to graduate since mid-August when the Naval Chaplains School relocated from Newport, R.I., to Columbia as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission's 2005 decision to co-locate all of the military ministry training at Fort Jackson.
The Naval Chaplains School became the Naval Chaplaincy School and Center to reflect the training of Navy chaplains and religious program specialist (RPs) in the same location,"
The Sachsen-class German frigate Hessen (F 221) participated in the simulation as part of a joint training exercise between the United States and German navies.
'The refueling simulation with the Hessen was a dry hook-up, so no fuel was transferred,' said Ens. Heinz Moeller, an air defense officer in the operations department aboard the Hessen. 'We participated in the training exercise because it was a good opportunity and also it was the first time a warship from the German Navy has done a refueling exercise with an American aircraft carrier.'"
Monday, November 9, 2009
The demonstrations of Jet A fuel versus JP-8 fuel will occur at Dover Air Force Base, Del.; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; McChord AFB, Wash.; and Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station, Minn. Each base has C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III or C-130 Hercules primary-assigned aircraft.
According to Master Sgt. Danny Walker, AFPA Jet A initiative program manager, each base will begin issuing Jet A in the next several weeks.
'The actual first Jet A issue dates at each base depend on how quickly existing JP-8 stocks are used,' Sergeant Walker said.
During the demonstration, suppliers can put Jet A fuel into shared pipelines without having to worry about comingling like they had to with JP-8, according to Sergeant Walker. By eliminating the need for a specialty fuel like JP-8 and using a more readily available Jet A, refineries and fuel depots will be able to reduce infrastructure costs and save money which they will be able to pass along to the DOD, Sergeant Walker added.
According to Jim Richardson, from the AFPA, officials estimate the annual savings at $40 million. Savings may increase as the conversion potentially expands across DOD within the CONUS, he added."
Firing crews for the launch were from the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery from Fort Lewis, WA. This test firing of a unitary GMLRS met all mission objectives, which included:
+ Verify production of GMLRS and HIMARS production lines;
+ Validating rocket and launcher reliability;
+ Proving performance of system software; and
+ Obtaining performance, technical and reliability data."
With nearly 35 aircraft embarked aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), the job of directing, launching and recovering aircraft comes with the responsibility of millions of taxpayer dollars and the lives of thousands of Sailors and Marines.
A yellow flight deck jersey represents the most experienced and knowledgeable aircraft handlers in the Navy. It can take years of working through the elements on the flight deck to achieve the qualification that Cpl. Justin Floan, from Marine Mediuum Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced), 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) earned.
'I've never seen anything like it,' said Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) David Kouskouris, Bataan's flight deck leading chief petty officer."
The aircraft, part of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced), will be transferred to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 and serve as part of 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade's Aviation Combat Element.
The 22nd MEU was the first Marine Expeditionary Unit to conduct a ship-based deployment with the tiltrotor aircraft. VMM-263 (Rein) attached to the MEU in September, 2008, and was also the first squadron to deploy with the aircraft to Iraq in 2007."
At Ramstein, that Total Force package is represented well by the 38th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron.
The 38th EAS mission is different from other units here because the unit is faced with almost constant personnel turnover, as most of their personnel are traditional reservists serving no longer than six months at a time.
The 199 servicemembers in the unit, from the commander to the lowest ranking Airmen, are from the Air National Guard or the Air Force Reserves."
Reservists from Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing flew the test for the U.S. Air Force Academy's Institute for Information Technology Applications. They dropped the test cargo Sept. 24 onto the Airburst range at Fort Carson, Colo. Data from the drop will serve as a real-world tool to forward information on cargo inventories to deployed forces and command and control elements over a unified common operational picture.
The Airdrop Enhanced Logistics Visibility System combines existing Blue Force Tracker capabilities with automated information and geospatial technologies. AELVIS gives the exact location of an air-dropped container delivery system and its inventory within minutes of the load leaving the plane. This technology can also be applied to heavy equipment airdrops, such as vehicles."
The Airmen were from the 5th Air Support Operations Squadron, part of the 1st Air Support Operations Group also at Fort Lewis. The exercise allowed the squadron members to practice important procedures used on battlefields today, said 1st ASOG Commander Col. Rob Evans.
'In our role as the I Corps Tactical Air Control Party, we take our joint responsibilities seriously,' Colonel Evans said. 'Exercises like this are great, because they let us refine our procedures and ensure we're ready to support the joint fight.'"
In January, Colonel Perrin will begin training at Creech Air Force Base (AFB) just outside of Las Vegas to fly the MQ-1B, Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), more commonly known as the Predator. He will complete training in March and begin flying combat missions immediately.
The Predator is a long-endurance, medium-altitude UAS for intelligence, surveillance and Reconnaissance missions.
Currently he is the deputy director of Operations for the 717th Test Squadron at AEDC.
Earlier this year, due to a shortage of pilots, navigators and air battle managers, the Air Force Personnel Center in San Antonio, initiated a voluntary recall of reservists, who were previously on active duty, to return to active duty for a limited period to fill pilot, navigator and air battle manager vacancies."
The robots will turn corners, clear dangerous areas, capture images with a “persistent stare” and beam them back, and follow convoys without being tele-operated as they are now, officials said."
"Robots that can clear caves and roads or deal with explosive ordnance will be able to operate alongside infantry units, move their mechanical arms and beam back images from forward locations without needing specific human direction."
"'We have a whole robotics strategy, which describes 32 tasks we could see robots being useful doing,' said Lt. Gen. Michael Vane, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center."
Friday, November 6, 2009
The JTAC Virtual Trainer is a system of training applications and simulators providing joint terminal attack controllers with an opportunity to hone their aircraft-control skills in a field environment with pilots in aircraft simulators that could be located anywhere in the world, said Phil Shevis, who works in the operations office of Joint Forces Command's joint training directorate.
Mr. Shevis said the trainer saves time, money and resources.
"We are trying to enable realistic JTAC training in a field environment," he explained. "Although it is preferable for JTACs to train with live aircraft and live ordnance, this is costly, and oftentimes the aircraft are diverted due to weather or mechanical issues. This capability allows the JTACs to get the training even when the live assets aren't available."
Additionally, simulations provide opportunities to train in realistic conditions without going to the combat theater. "You can work with coalition forces," Mr. Shevis said. "You can use terrain that is in theater even though you're at home station."
The simulator was brought to Bold Quest 2009 to give JTACs from the United States and its allied partners a chance to use and give feedback on the system to the development team. JTACs used a remotely operated video-enhanced receiver, or ROVER -- a durable laptop computer with wireless capability and a radio over a network system -- to communicate with a pilot "flying" an F-16 simulator in Germany, enabling them to see what the pilot saw.
The pilot simulated an F-16 flight over Lejeune's training areas. The "target" - in one case a typical sport-utility vehicle - was replicated in the simulation as a target for a close-air-support mission. Using the ROVER and a piece of equipment on loan from the United Kingdom's defense ministry, the JTACs called in simulated air strikes on the vehicle.
Air Force Maj. Garret Lacy, director of current operations at the Warrior Preparation Center in Germany, said the ROVER allows JTACs to help pilots find the correct target in a chaotic battle space.
"We're using simulations connected over a network to feed that information," Mr. Shevis said. "In this particular instance, what we're doing is connecting through the Joint Training Experimentation Network to the Warrior Preparation Center in Germany. They're running two simulators: an F-16 simulator and a Predator simulator. Those two systems are going to generate video, which we're going to transmit to the JTACs on their issued equipment."
The WPC has been working on JTAC simulations of its own for some time, and Major Lacy said their work came about because JTACs often were being deployed before they could train with the equipment they would be using.
"We noticed with the Afghanistan conflict and in Iraq, some of the JTACs were going downrange without getting the chance to work with the gear that they were actually going to be using," he said. "They were using it for the first time in combat, which we thought was unacceptable."
During the demonstration, JTACs from several countries tried the JTAC Virtual Trainer. A Norwegian army special operations JTAC said it could be a very useful tool in training his nation's warfighters.
"We think that it might be very suitable for us, because we have a simulator training program where we are based as well," he said. "It could be very useful for us to do some training without real aircraft."
In fall 2008, Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz sought to redefine how Air Force experts make basing decisions. The new basing process was put into practice as they prepare to base up to 1,763 planes between now and 2035.
"We created a process that was deliberate, repeatable and transparent with defined roles and responsibilities," said Kathleen Ferguson, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Installations.
A team conducted a 9-month strategic review that began with a clear definition of operational requirements, progressed through selection criteria identification and culminated with an environmental analysis, Ms. Ferguson said.
To find the appropriate location for an aircraft basing, Air Force officials considered both objective and subjective factors. Basing criteria include but are not limited to airspace, flight training ranges, weather, support facilities and runways. Conversely, the process included commanders' considerations, or military judgment factors, such as operational plans, partnerships and global posture, training, logistics and total force integration.
"We are in a very aggressive timeline," Ms. Ferguson said. "After thorough research and review, we identified the first 11 potential candidate bases that could support initial delivery of 250-300 JSF aircraft between 2013 to 2017. We'll continue to re-evaluate every two years beyond that timeframe."
Eleven bases have been selected as candidate bases and include for training: Boise Air Terminal Air Guard Station, Idaho; Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; Holloman AFB, N.M.; Luke AFB, Ariz.; and Tucson International Airport Air Guard Station, Ariz. The six bases selected as candidate bases for operations are: Burlington International Airport Guard Station, Vt.; Hill AFB, Utah; Jacksonville International Airport Air Guard Station, Fla.; Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; Shaw AFB, S.C.; and McEntire Air Guard Base, S.C.
Air National Guard leaders said they are pleased to have a greater role in the process, noting the unprecedented proportion -- nearly half -- of the candidate bases belonging to the component.
"Air National Guard leadership is really happy with this process," said Maj. Gen. Rick Moisio, deputy director of the Air National Guard. "This is the first time the ANG has been brought in on the early phases of fielding of an aircraft and we appreciate that."
Ms. Ferguson said the process has long-term potential because it helps the service in its efforts to modernize air and space inventories.
"The F-35 is the benchmark for our next generation of affordable, low-observable strike aircraft," Ms. Ferguson said. "We're excited to add it to our operational capabilities and believe it will play a major role in accomplishing the Air Force mission."
Amaani Lyle (AFNS)
Thursday, November 5, 2009
For a year, Army Lt. Col. Greg Younger, command transportation integration officer for the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command at Scott Air Force Base, lived in Pakistan and helped orchestrate and simplify the movement of military goods from Port Karachi in southern Pakistan through that country into Afghanistan through a mountain pass in the northwestern part of the country.
The Surface Deployment and Distribution Command is the newest command at Scott Air Force Base. It has a work force of more than 4,600 military and civilian employees worldwide and has contracts worth more than $1.8 billion annually with commercial surface moving companies that use trains, trucks, barges, pipelines and ships to move goods for the Department of Defense globally."
October was the deadliest month of the Afghan campaign for the U.S., with 59 troops killed. Seven died Oct. 27 when their armored vehicle was hit by a 1,000-pound bomb made of fertilizer, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said today.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates met at the Pentagon late today with military officials involved in buying fortified vehicles, developing anti-bomb technologies and running aerial reconnaissance to spot militants laying bombs, Morrell told reporters. Representatives from the U.S. Central Command and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization also attended, he said.
“We need to be attacking this problem from 360 degrees,” Morrell said."
Doctors at the main American military hospital here say more than 100 U.S. troops have suffered crushed or damaged spinal columns from being thrown around inside armored Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles in the past five months.
This “significant increase” in spinal injuries was not seen in the Iraq war, says Air Force Col. Warren Dorlac, director of trauma care for both conflicts."
Doctors at the main American military hospital here say more than 100 U.S. troops have suffered crushed or damaged spinal columns from being thrown around inside armored Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles in the past five months.
This “significant increase” in spinal injuries was not seen in the Iraq war, says Air Force Col. Warren Dorlac, director of trauma care for both conflicts."
Previously, the crews had only been able to target one gun at a time, but in combat they saw the benefits of being able to target both guns at once.
It was then they turned to the C-130 gunship lab here, where engineers test improvements in avionics and targeting software in a virtual environment.
'The way they described it is 'We want to be able to shoot the ant hill, and then kill all the ants as they leave the ant hill,'' said Steve Pollard, the lead C-130 gunship test engineer.
After months of work and close contact with combat flight crews about how they wanted it to work, software engineers in the 402nd Software Maintenance Group did just that. After testing it successfully in the lab, the new capability was put to use."
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
In his Aug. 30 report U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal states that the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police are not sufficiently effective to take ownership of Afghanistan's security. One of his four main pillars to accomplish the mission and defeat the insurgency is to increase the size of the Afghan National Security Force.
He said, 'The Afghan National Army must accelerate growth to the target strength of 134,000 by fall 2010,' a 50 percent increase in its present strength to be accomplished within one year."
'I hope that any step that will take place in the alliance in a multilateral framework and that no unilateral step be taken,' Rasmussen said at NATO's headquarters in Brussels.
'This is a question which concerns all allies. It's a question of overall security and defence,' he added following talks with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
Germany's new ruling coalition will call for US nuclear weapons to be removed from the country's territory, according to a document seen by AFP."
Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at an air force base in central Israel, said the two countries are 'creating a new path, and the goal is to defend Israel,' a statement from the country's military said."
"China's military has made dramatic progress in space over the past decade and the goals of its program remain unclear, a top American general said on Tuesday.
Citing Beijing's advances in space, General Kevin Chilton, head of US Strategic Command, said it was crucial to cultivate US-China military relations to better understand China's intentions.
'With regard to China's capabilities, I think anyone who's familiar with this business -- and particularly our history in this business over the years -- would have to be absolutely amazed at the advancement that China has made in such a short period of time, whether that be in their unmanned program or the manned program,'" Chilton said.
That object might be a soldier, a tank or an airplane, Ron Meyers, a laboratory quantum physicist explained during an Oct. 28 interview on the Pentagon Channel podcast "Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military."
Once this is done, a computer program compares and combines the patterns received from the object and the light. This creates a "ghost image," a black-and-white or color picture of the object being photographed. The earliest ghost images were silhouettes, but current ones depict the objects more realistically.
Meyers and his team produced the first ghost image of an opaque object in his quantum laboratory at the Army research facility.
"I think, or I would hope, in a few years that we have a soldier using a quantum ghost imaging imager to look through battlefield smoke and identifying friend or foe," Meyers said.
Using virtually any light source -- from a fluorescent bulb, lasers, or even the sun -- quantum ghost imaging gives a clearer picture of objects by eliminating conditions such as clouds, fog and smoke beyond the ability of conventional imaging.
Meyers said there are other applications for ghost imaging in the military. Ghost-imaging sensors may allow helicopters or unmanned aerial vehicles to capture images that measure damage after a bomb is dropped. In the medical field, the imaging could improve X-rays to focus in on body parts. It also could be also used in search and rescue efforts.
Meyers, who recently won an Army Research and Development Achievement Award for his work in quantum physics and imaging, said receiving this award "shows that the efforts made in this area are being looked at seriously and are being considered for future applications."
"What we try to do is come up with innovative solutions that will support the warfighter," he said. "And when we can, we also spin off our technology for domestic uses."
One of the biggest challenges Meyers faces is getting good measurements. "When you do a new science, you really need to perform your measurements with high quality so the experiments can be repeated by others," he said. "At the Army Research Laboratory, we've been very lucky that we've been able to be funded to get very high-quality instruments."
Meyers added that he finds his career in the Army rewarding. "I think it's really the best place to work for a scientist. You're given responsibility at a young age, and you're able to go as far as your thoughts and your abilities can take you."
The 'Hot Panel' program allows the HIMARS to link into an aircraft's GPS and track itself in the air, anywhere in the world. The advancement will allow Soldiers to switch between a land mode and an air mode so the vehicle tracking system can find its location and its targets rapidly when it exits an airplane.
"It allows you to start up the launcher in flight and roll off the airplane ready to shoot," said Steve Coventry, system and test engineer with Lockheed Martin.
Engineers from Lockheed Martin and Redstone Arsenal, Ala., who are working together on the project, came to Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base to gather data through flight tests using the HIMARS vehicles and a C-17.
Scott Kalfus, Lockheed Martin, missiles and fire control, system and test engineer said all the vibrations from the flight will be recorded on specialized equipment and used to develop the right programming for the HIMARS.
"The tests will allow us to correlate the maneuvers to the data the machines are collecting," Kalfus said.
The flight plan included take off, ground fire avoidance measures, approach and landing. They engineers working on the project also implemented a program that will sense movement and switch the navigational unit between air mode and land mode.
The flights were used to verify the data from previous flights and to confirm the changes already implemented were working correctly.
"We had to make changes in the position navigation unit," Coventry said. "It's designed for ground vehicles. We had to make several changes to the software to handle the greatly increased speeds of a C-17 and make allowances for avoidance maneuvers. It's very stressful on the navigation unit to maintain accuracy during flight."
"We did flight tests before and collected data," he continued. "We made changes to the software. Now we're going to test those changes. The fire control system had to tell the navigation unit to go into air mode. The computer had to tell it there are no odometer inputs. It has to go strictly off the inertial movement unit and the GPS."
According to James Cyr, precision fires project office at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., the data collected from this round of test flights will be computed and used to develop the final version of the software due out in 2011.
The plan is to make the system as simple as possible for Soldiers to allow them to get into the fight quicker.
"We want this to be as user friendly as possible, so we want to make it as automatic as we can," Coventry added. "We have to provide a link between the GPS in the aircraft and the launcher. Right now it is a physical connection. In the future it will be a wireless connection. GPS will broadcast inside the aircraft. "
Monday, November 2, 2009
The all-terrain vehicles were commissioned after US military commanders found that mine-resistant M-RAPs designed for Iraq were too big and cumbersome for Afghanistan.
'The terrain in Afghanistan is different from Iraq. It's more uneven, the roads are difficult to traverse. That's why we've had to create an all-terrain version,' Ashton Carter, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told reporters.
Standing next to one of the new M-ATVs in front of the Pentagon building, Carter said flying the vehicles to Afghanistan was an urgent priority to help troops facing the lethal threat of homemade bombs.
'It will be a life-saver in Afghanistan,' Carter said.
The effort to produce the new vehicles had moved with unusual speed compared to previous defense programs that have often been plagued by delays, he said."
Facilitating the working sessions was retired Gen. Gregory S. Martin, former commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and former commander of Air Force Materiel Command, and the AFGSC officials focused on producing a command mission and vision as a guide to global strike Airmen about where the new command is heading.
The mission statement establishes every AFGSC Airman's required focus: 'Develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations ... safe, secure, credible ... to support the president of the United States and combatant commanders.'"
Being assigned to COP Keating while under attack by hundreds of insurgents armed with assault rifles and rocket propelled grenades is absolutely frightening, and exactly where Staff Sgt. Matthew McMurtrey found himself on the morning of Oct. 3.
Sergeant McMurtrey is an Airman from the 755th Air Expeditionary Group based at Bagram Airfield and was attached to the Army's 3rd Squadron, 61st Calvary, 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division at COP Keating. His job there was to set up and maintain a satellite system used to provide Soldiers with Internet accessibility. While under direct enemy fire, he overcame his fear, performed his assigned duties admirably according to Army and Air Force supervisors.
The large, coordinated attack began with rocket-propelled grenade and machine-gun fire at approximately 6 a.m., rocking him out of a sound sleep.
'Basically it knocked me out of bed. It was a pretty big hit,' said the nine-year Air Force veteran deployed from Barksdale Air Force Base, La. 'The room was covered in dust and I started to hear more explosions. (I) figured OK, this is an attack,' continued the Spokane, Wash., native.
Sergeant McMurtrey grabbed his M-16, put on his individual body armor [IBA] and just as he had practiced in a battle drill a week ago, he ran out of his sleeping quarters, turned left and went to his battle position at the COP Keating's aid station."
CSOs within the grade of lieutenant through major are eligible, and applicants must also have between two to 13 years of total active federal commissioned service and 24 months time on station by Dec. 1.
'This is a great opportunity for officers wanting to directly contribute to Air Force operations through the growing UAS mission,' said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Kwoka, the UAS career field manager. 'Airmen who complete the training will possess the 18X Air Force specialty code and become permanent UAS assets.'
CSOs without a commercial instrument rating are eligible to apply for this training, he said.
Other requirements to apply for CSO positions are:
-- Have a top secret-sensitive compartmented information clearance or be able to get one.
-- Be worldwide deployable with no medical limitations.
-- Have a recommendation from wing commander or operations group commander holding the grade of colonel.
Air Force officials will notify selected Airmen via e-mail sometime in December. Training will begin in January 2010."
Essex's deployment comes at the end of a successful two-month ship's restricted availability (SRA) and will feature Annual Exercise (ANNUALEX) 21G, conducted annually with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) to enhance interoperability between the U.S. and Japanese navies.
'The crew and contractors did an outstanding job getting the ship ready to get back underway,' said Capt. Troy Hart, Essex's commanding officer. 'We're at peak readiness and are looking forward to another great opportunity to work with our Japanese counterparts and further enhance our ability to work together.'
For many Essex Sailors, the 21st annual exercise will serve as a first opportunity to participate in one of the longest-standing military traditions in the Pacific region.
'This will be the first ANNUALEX that I've had an opportunity to participate in,' said Capt. David Fluker, Essex's executive officer. 'I'm looking forward to working with the JMSDF. Their professionalism and tactical expertise is widely known and will certainly contribute to the realism and professionalism of the exercise.'
Before commencing ANNUALEX, Essex will conduct sea trials, where engineers will test the equipment that was overhauled and replaced during the SRA, including four revamped ship's service turbine engines, a new main condenser and a new digital shaft speed indicator."
Although previously focusing on similar missions in the North Arabian Gulf, DESRON 50 has expanded its focus to include the mission of Combined Task Group 152.1, supporting Combined Task Force (CTF) 152 in working with coalition and regional partners to ensure maritime security throughout the Arabian Gulf.
'Our new tasking makes perfect sense given our role as the theater's permanent DESRON,' said Capt. Brad Mai, who commands DESRON 50. 'Our consistent presence in the Arabian Gulf not only allows us to build and maintain long-term relationships with our coalition partners in support of theater security cooperation missions, but it also allows us to become subject matter experts on the region in support of our maritime security operations objectives.'
Lt. Cmdr. Erik Lindstrand, DESRON 50's current operations officer, added that all missions in the region have a coalition flavor.
'On any given day in the Arabian Gulf, one can find U.S. ships working alongside U.K. (United Kingdom), Australian or French warships, in addition to assets provided by our Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) partners,' said Lindstrand. 'These coalition warships all have a common goal of creating the safest water space possible for legitimate merchant traffic, area fishermen and other commercial operations.'"
The visits come after Cole's participation in Exercise Joint Warrior 09-2, a multilateral exercise with various international partners.
Cole's Commanding Officer Cmdr. Edward Devinney greeted the Mayor of Helsinki Jussi Pajunen shortly after pulling into the port. Pajunen welcomed Cole and exchanged gifts with Devinney. He said it was an honor for the ship to be in Helsinki, and he hoped the Sailors would have a wonderful visit.
Sailors had the opportunity to experience a historically rich culture and interact with locals during their stay in Finland's capitol. Cole's Morale, Welfare and Recreation program offered a tour of the city, which included a sightseeing tour of Finlandia Hall, Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral and a tour of one of the largest sea fortresses in the world, the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress."
The ship utilized landing craft air cushions (LCAC) embarked from Assault Craft Unit 4, beach masters from Beach Master Unit 2 and almost every type of helicopter available in the Marine Corps inventory.
'The ship's crew did an outstanding job of synchronizing all facets of the onload,' said Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 3 Shawn McGowan, the ship's combat cargo officer. 'They utilized the expertise of many personnel to conduct a simultaneously-executed onload.'
Some of the shipboard divisions involved in the evolution included debark control, well deck control, combat systems and the pilot house. In addition to the LCACs, helicopters included CH-53 Sea Stallion, AH-1W Super Cobra, UN-1N Huey and an MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
'It's amazing to me how much coordination it took to both land helicopters and embark landing craft simultaneously,' said McGowan. 'The efforts of all personnel can not be overstated.'
The ship took on more than 14 pieces of combat equipment and vehicles, which now occupy the well deck spaces. They will remain on static display when the ship pulls into New York City Nov. 2, for public viewing until Nov. 11 when the ship will head back to its home port at Naval Station Norfolk, Va."