USAFE-AFAFRICA commander talks global precision attack at AFA

USAFE-AFAFRICA commander talks global precision attack at AFAORLANDO, Fla. (AFNS)

The leader of Air Force operations in Europe and Africa spoke on the importance of global precision attack in his region during the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium Feb. 26.

In charge of a force in Europe that’s 75 percent smaller since the Cold War ended in 1989, said Gen. Frank Gorenc, the U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa commander, it’s critical to use all resources and innovation available to get the mission done.

“I absolutely love our vision statement: World’s greatest Air Force, powered by Airmen, fueled by innovation. I know we have resource problems, but the bottom line is it doesn’t alleviate us of the requirement to be the world’s greatest Air Force,” Gorenc said. “It clearly puts the burden on our Airmen to continue to fuel what has been complete success since 1947, I love that.

“Then fueled by innovation, I tell my Airmen, you tell me how to do it faster, better, and cheaper and I will facilitate that move.”

Global precision attack (GPA), the commander said, has changed the DNA and nobody doubts the ability of our Air Force to deliver.

“What took one bomb to destroy a target in Desert Storm took 30 bombs in Vietnam and it took 9,000 bombs in World War II,” Gorenc said. “We have made bad weather irrelevant and we continue to turn night into day allowing us to put any target at risk, anytime, anywhere, in any weather.”

Although GPA may be leading the Air Force to fight different, Gorenc warned it has become a double-edged sword, adding that paying attention to GPA in the future is critical.

“(GPA) is creating manpower pressures across the entire total force,” he said. “It established an impossible standard of perfection. I think the future is one of those where were looking for zero-casualty war. We want to be aspirational and try to get zero-casualty war, but that’s going to be very difficult to do.”

Gorenc said geography, location, resources and population are elements of national power and it affects the way countries think.

“Change is inevitable and that change directly affects our coalition partners and our allies in the way they think,” he said. “Change is inevitable, change happens. We’re going to have to adapt to it and we’re going to have to adjust our strategy to do it.”

Even with GPA capabilities, nature can disrupt operations in an instant.

“Earthquakes, Ebola, it’s all out there just when you think things are going good, nature hands us a card and we’re off to the races,” Gorenc said. “(Then) the enemy has a vote, and in the end if they don’t like the way things are going, they don’t have to act the way we want to act, they just do what they do and we have to react to it and we have to remember that.”

Gorenc listed a number of things he views as the future of GPA: continuing near zero-miss attacks, expect an ever changing and complex environment, merge non-kinetic/kinetics within the multi-domain environment, choose “airpower” words more carefully, and be unwavering in the advocacy for GPA and airpower.

“I am an American Airman, I am driven by the idea that we can win from the air. Is that going to be possible ever? Probably not, but I am still driven by it,” Gorenc said. “Because in the end, the application of combat power from the air saves lives and helps us achieve strategic end-states in a much more effective way.”

In closing, Gorenc said he doesn’t know what the future will bring but he knows the Air Force will play a vital role.

“When the time comes to respond after diplomacy, information and economic elements of power don’t necessarily work and we commit to the military, they are going to come to the United States Air Force and our coalition and our alliances to help provide the air part of the military power,” he said. “So the future is bright and if we accelerate our efforts in a multi-domain area, with precision in mind, I think we are going to do great.”

AF rolls out FY 2017 space budget

AF rolls out FY 2017 space budgetWASHINGTON (AFNS)

Air Force leaders met with the media to discuss specifics of the service’s fiscal year 2017 space budget at the Pentagon Feb. 11.

Winston A. Beauchamp, the deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space, and Maj. Gen. Roger Teague, the director of space programs for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, highlighted major themes of the space budget in relation to the Air Force’s strategic understanding of the space environment.

In fiscal 2016, the Air Force focused investments in space in two major areas. First, assuring the use of space in the face of increasing threats, and secondly providing capabilities to deter and defeat potential attacks.

Beauchamp said there have been no changes to that strategy in the past year.

“All of the threats we saw last year have continued to evolve. We remain postured to get ourselves on a path to make our systems more resilient,” said Beauchamp, who also serves as the director, principal Defense Department Space Advisor Staff. “In (fiscal 2017) the emphasis is on sustaining mission capabilities while improving resilience. To achieve this outcome we approach it with several lines of effort.”

Those efforts include determining appropriate investments, leveraging the base budget to improve resilience in programs of record, revaluating operational techniques, tactics and procedures, exploring innovative contract strategies such as public-private partnerships, and utilizing international cooperation.

The Air Force plans to invest in areas such as command and control, space situational awareness, the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, and satellite communications in fiscal 2017 to enhance space mission assurance.

“In command and control we know our potential adversaries are developing capabilities to deny, degrade and destroy our space capabilities,” Beauchamp said. “As countries around the world increasingly derive benefits from space, we have to join together with our allies to deal with those threats.”

For space situational awareness, the Air Force will continue its investment in the Space Fence, aiding the ability to perform collision detection and protecting those aboard the International Space Station and other manned space programs.

“We will preserve our ability to access space by investing in an indigenously produced launch capability. This serves not only as a capability to replenish our space assets as they reach end of life, but also to improve our capabilities and reconstitute our forces,” Beauchamp said. “To that end, the (fiscal 2017) fully funds the (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle) program.”

To support satellite communications the Air Force will fund the Pathfinder Three program, which is a method to investigate new business models used to acquire satellite communications.

Teague said there is an emphasis on how we might better prepare for space operations through a contested environment. Although it won’t directly impact the budget, there is an effort called Space Mission Force which reorganizes space personnel into shifts where both experienced Airmen and recently trained Airmen will be blended together to work on operational teams.

This ensures appropriately experienced personnel are on the operational staff at all times should problems arise, while better developing the core workforce over time and keeping them in the operational flow.

“It’s a tribute to the Air Force Space Command professionals that they’re doing this on the fly … without any interruption to our operational systems and certainly maintaining that degree of readiness that we need to make sure that our systems are performing their missions at all times,” Teague said.

Although there will not be an increase in manpower for space, there will be a focus on making better use of the workforce currently available through initiatives like Space Mission Force.

“Our investments in (fiscal 2017) are consistent with our strategic understanding of the space environment that informed the (fiscal 2016) budget,” Beauchamp said. “We remain committed to delivering space capabilities to the warfighter in spite of adversary attempts to deny, degrade or destroy our systems in space.”

AF remembers pioneer of DOD transportation

AF remembers pioneer of DOD transportationSCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS)

Retired Gen. Duane F. Cassidy, the first “dual-hatted” commander of both U.S. Transportation Command and Military Airlift Command, passed away Feb. 8 at the age of 82.

“Gen. Cassidy was a mobility pioneer. He will be greatly missed by the (Air Mobility Command) family for years to come, but his legacy will certainly live on,” said Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, the AMC commander.

In addition to forging the current path for mobility forces as the first USTRANSCOM commander, Cassidy flew both bombers and cargo aircraft. Born in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, Cassidy joined the Air Force in 1954. Upon completion of aviation cadet training, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant and continued on to navigator training. In the early days of his career, he flew B-25 Mitchells and C-121 Constellations.

During a 1998 interview with the command historian, Cassidy said the missions he flew then as a young officer changed with rapidly evolving technology.

“We were flying with no communication equipment, didn’t have modeling capability or understanding of electronics that we have today,” he said.

One of the high points in Cassidy’s early career came in 1956 when he supported Operation Redwing. He participated in the first testing of air-dropped hydrogen weapons at Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

But it was his assignment at Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, when he flew a mission that would impact him for years to come.

During the historian’s interview, Cassidy said the most notable mission he supported was the Hungarian crisis. It required him to fly more than 250 hours in a month to pick up refugees from Germany and take them back to the U.S.

It was this mission that made him realize what an important role he played in world events, he said.

Then in December 1958, Cassidy entered pilot training and was assigned to fly B-47 Stratojet bombers for Strategic Air Command and served with the 810th Strategic Aerospace Division, where he rotated to numerous assignments supporting B-52 Stratofortresses and Minuteman missile operations.

In 1967, he volunteered to serve in Vietnam.

He was assigned to the Republic of Vietnam, serving first with 7th Air Force before being transferred to the Military Assistance Command Vietnam Directorate of Public Affairs as an air briefer to the Saigon press corps.

He served in various positions in both Strategic Air Command and MAC throughout his career. Then in September 1985, he was promoted to general and assumed command of MAC. He became responsible for military airlift in support of unified and specified commands during war, periods of crisis and contingencies.

“He shaped the future of what is now Air Mobility Command,” Everhart said. “We wouldn’t have been as successful in Desert Shield and Desert Storm if it weren’t for him. He fought for CRAF (Civil Reserve Air Fleet); he brought the C-17 (Globemaster III) online; and he helped articulate the importance of aerial refueling and nuclear support missions.”

While serving as MAC commander, Cassidy developed a new National Airlift Policy statement, which President Ronald Reagan approved as National Security Decision Directive No. 280 on June 24, 1987. This new policy mandated increasingly close cooperation between MAC and the civil air carriers and substantiated the procurement of a sufficient number of aircraft to meet the documented airlift shortage.

He helped to devise training methods for increased proficiency in air refueling, according to the command history article. One training method was called the “tanker anchor,” which was intended to create airlift flexibility. The method didn’t get fully implemented due to funding; but it did set the stage for future developments in the air refueling world.

MAC supported several contingency and humanitarian operations during his four-year command, including flying relief supplies in September 1985 to earthquake victims in Mexico City; evacuations of the former Philippine and Haitian heads of state in February 1986; and the April 1988 textbook deployment of 1,300 security specialists from the U.S. to Panama to protect thousands of Americans living there.

Cassidy assumed command of U.S. Transportation Command upon its activation in 1987. He became responsible for unifying the Department of Defense global land, air and sea transportation. He was also the first general to serve as the “dual-hatted” commander of both USTRANSCOM and MAC.

“Gen. Duane Cassidy will be remembered as a husband, father, grandfather, friend to all, and the man who built our great command,” Gen. Darren McDew, the commander of USTRANSCOM, wrote in a message to command personnel that shared the news of Cassidy’s death.

“He was an exceptionally rare leader, an officer whose legacy continues to influence nearly every decision we undertake in the Department of Defense’s transportation, distribution, and sustainment enterprises,” said McDew when asked about the impact Cassidy continues to have on USTRANSCOM.

“Without his intuitive vision, particularly his deep understanding of the importance of enhancing our organic transportation capabilities with the strength and depth of American industry, our nation would certainly not have achieved the successes we have realized in war and peace over the last three decades,” he added. “We will be talking about Duane Cassidy the man, the officer, and our friend decades from now.”

Cassidy retired from the Air Force Sept. 30, 1989, after serving for more than 35 years.

An ardent supporter of the Airlift/Tanker Association, Cassidy soon led the organization as chairman of the board of officers from 1999-2003 and was inducted into the Airlift/Tanker Hall of Fame in 2006.

“America has lost a great patriot, hero, officer and statesman,” said retired Gen. Art Lichte and current A/TA chairman. “Gen. Cassidy’s warm smile, engaging personality and outstanding leadership by example lifted us all to greater heights. A long-standing member and leader in A/TA, he will be greatly missed by everyone in the air mobility community.”

A loving father and husband, Cassidy is survived by his wife Rosalie, daughters Diane and Susan, sons Mike and Patrick, and their families, including eight grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. Funeral services will be held at a future date at Arlington National Cemetery.

“Our Air Force family mourns the passing of Gen. Cassidy an American Airman, decorated war hero, and legendary architect of Air Force transportation,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. “Not only did he prove his worth in combat, he showed his heart in countless humanitarian missions around the globe. Although we can no longer swap war stories with him, we know Gen. Cassidy will guard and guide the ones who fly, both now, and forevermore.”

F-35 program moving forward, addressing challenges

F-35 program moving forward, addressing challengesWASHINGTON (AFNS)

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter Program is moving forward while addressing various challenges, the program’s executive officer said Feb. 10.

“In the big picture, I would tell you that the program right now is accelerating, growing and changing,” Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan said at a media roundtable in Arlington, Virginia.

He detailed a number of challenges in the program, including incorporating fixes to address the current flight restrictions on lightweight pilots.

“The mark of a good program is you find the problems, you solve the problems and you keep the program moving forward without derailing it,” he said.

The development program, he said, is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2017.

“What we’re trying to do right now is work toward that very large $50-plus-billion contract and turn that into a modernization program,” he said, adding that the program will have to be more efficient than has been the case in the last 15 or more years.

Addressing issues, moving forward

The program currently has 419 deficiencies to be corrected, Bogdan said, explaining that the figure is “not that many.” Despite the challenges, he added, the program is advancing.

“We are making progress,” the general said. “Sometimes it’s not as fast as we want. Sometimes it’s messy. Sometimes we have setbacks.”

The problems include issues with software, hardware, and the Autonomic Logistics Information System. He noted that 700 to 800 deficiencies already have been addressed.

Possible dangers for lightweight pilots

Due to a possible risk of neck injury should ejection be necessary, lightweight pilots are restricted from flying the F-35s. For a pilot weighing between 103 and 136 pounds, Bogdan said, the odds of that person having to eject and then being injured in the ejection are one in 50,000.

The changes being implemented include a “heavy/light” weight switch, the general said. When in the “light” position, the seat would delay the parachute’s extraction by milliseconds if the pilot had to eject, so the shock and stress on the neck would be reduced, he explained.

A restraining device also was sewn into the risers behind the parachute so that if a lightweight pilot were to eject at a “weird angle” it would stop the pilot’s head from going backward, he added.

The head restraint and the seat switch have been tested, and they work, he said, adding that those fixes are ready to go into the field and in production by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Bogdan said, the helmet’s weight has to be reduced from 5.1 pounds to between 4.6 and 4.8 pounds. That change is lagging behind the other fixes by at least eight or nine months.

“I don’t like that,” he added, noting that all three solutions must be in place before the restriction on lightweight pilots can be lifted.

Air Force deferring orders

Bogdan said the Air Force’s recent announcement that it intends to buy 43, rather than 48, F-35s in fiscal year 2017 is “almost a non-news event.” The Air Force is deferring purchases, not cutting airplanes, he explained.

The Navy kept its fiscal 2017 “C” models of the jet at four, and the Marine Corps went from 14 to 16 airplanes for the “B” model, he said, noting that amounts to a net loss of three airplanes for the U.S. services.

The program plans to deliver more than 870 airplanes over the next six years, Bogdan said, adding that one can “barely measure” the reduction from the Air Force in that timeframe, he said.

The general said he is looking at the program “holistically,” taking into account international partners as well as possible future customers.

First simulated F-35A deployment conducted at Mountain Home AFB

First simulated F-35A deployment conducted at Mountain Home AFBEDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS)

A much anticipated and important test mission for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program is underway with the “deployment” of six operational test and evaluation F-35s and more than 85 Airmen from the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron, who arrived Feb. 8-9.

This is the first simulated deployment test of the F-35A Lightning II, specifically to execute three key initial operational capability mission sets: suppression of enemy air defenses, close air support and air interdiction.

The 31st TES will execute each of these in a limited scope from a “deployed” location for this test. The deployed location is Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The 31st TES at Edwards AFB falls under the 53rd Wing at Eglin AFB, Florida, which is leading the test design, management and execution of the F-35A deployment test.

The achievements of an F-35A squadron testing ability to deploy, employ and sustain operations will set the benchmark capability for the Air Force to declare F-35A initial operational capability scheduled for this fall, according to the 53rd Wing.

During the test at Mountain Home AFB, the aircraft will be engaged in simulated combat scenarios to exercise representative mission processes such as tasking, execution, debrief and intelligence reporting. The test team will be working to capture a broad spectrum of capabilities and limitations of the F-35 system to include both operations and maintenance. The team will focus on areas such as mission planning, scheduling, weapons building/loading, sortie generation, life support, mission employment, debrief and aircraft turn.

Nellis AFB in Nevada will serve as a simulated remote air operations center for the deployed environment. Mountain Home AFB is providing a secure location with ranges to employ fourth-generation aircraft as well. The F-35As will integrate with F-15E Strike Eagles from the 366th Fighter Wing at Mountain Home AFB and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 124th Fighter Wing at Gowen Field, Idaho.

The entire test event is expected to last about a month.

(Editor’s note: Information for this article was provided by the 53rd Wing at Eglin AFB)

AF culture, standards now in the palm of your hand

AF culture, standards now in the palm of your handSHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS)

A series of mobile applications developed by the 367th Training Support Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is giving Airmen ready access to Air Force standards, culture and basic doctrine.

While the unit part of the 82nd Training Wing’s 782nd Training Group at Sheppard AFB, Texas typically focuses on computer-based training in support of aircraft maintenance, its unique skill set proved a perfect match when the Air Force was looking for a way to put the “little blue book” and other core Air Force documents literally into the hands of Airmen.

“Our focus is mainly on developing computer-based training or videos for maintainers on the flightline,” said Tech. Sgt. Kaimi Pacheco, the app designer. “So developing mobile apps is a little out of the norm for us, which is challenging. The other products we create are mostly linear, or step by step, in nature, but when you’re developing apps you have to include functionality that lets the user go in many different directions.”

Still, the team was confident it could not only get the job done, but get it done quickly and exceed expectations.

“The little blue book was the first project, which they completed on a tight timeline to coincide with the book’s release,” said Tech. Sgt. Zach Davis, the Android developer.

“It was definitely a challenge,” he continued. “But with our strong, cohesive teams and individual commitment to the project, we were confident we could satisfy all the requirements, and even exceed a few.”

One way they exceeded expectations was by adding audio narration for all the text included in the app.

“That’s not something we routinely incorporate into our products,” said Master Sgt. Kasey Lynch, the project manager, “and it did prove challenging. Once we started producing audio assets we realized how much work goes into producing a perfect vocal narration varying vocal inflections, correct enunciation of words, consistent volume and even consistent pauses.”

The most critical audio decision was choosing the voice actor.

“We needed someone with a pleasing sound, but who had a neutral accent that would appeal to the widest audience,” Lynch said. “Now we jokingly refer to our voice actor Staff Sgt. Scott Summers as ‘The Voice of the Air Force.’”

The variety of devices and screen sizes was another issue the team had to consider.

“Developing mobile apps requires a lot more graphics support than a computer-based product, because we have to produce multiple versions of the same image to ensure the app looks good and works correctly for every potential device,” said Tech. Sgt. Rudy Gonzalez, a graphic designer.

Despite the challenges, the team completed the application on time and ensured it was available for Apple and Android devices when the book was released to the Air Force.

“The team truly came together to deliver an excellent product for our Air Force and Airmen,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody, who worked with the team to finalize the app. “Thanks to their hard work, our Airmen now have access to the little blue book in a format they often prefer.”

The success of the little blue book app led to three additional projects for the 367th TSS:

- Air Force Instruction 1-1, “Air Force Culture: Air Force Standards,” which is complete and available on Apple and Android markets (search for AFI 1-1)

- Air Force Instruction 1-2, “Air Force Culture: Commander’s Responsibilities,” also complete and available for Apple and Android (search for AFI 1-2)

- The Professional Airman’s Development Guide, which is given to new recruits in delayed enlistment status to help them prepare for basic military training, is 80 percent complete and in validation by Air Force Recruiting Service.

To download these apps, go to the Google Play Store on Android devices or the App Store on Apple iOS devices.

SecAF, CSAF testify on FY 2017 AF posture

SecAF, CSAF testify on FY 2017 AF postureWASHINGTON (AFNS)

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee on the fiscal year 2017 Air Force posture on Capitol Hill Feb. 10.

Both James and Welsh stressed that the need for airpower continues to rise and the gap between the U.S. Air Force and its closest pursuers is closing.

“Bottom line here is that … we are fully engaged in every region of the world, in every mission area, across the full spectrum of military operations,” James said. “Put simply: we have never been busier on such a sustained and such a global basis.”

The Fiscal Year 2017 Air Force Posture Statement states the president’s fiscal 2017 budget aims to build, train and equip an Air Force capable of responding to today’s and tomorrow’s threats.

“The United States can’t fight, much less win, today’s wars without airpower,” Welsh said. “That’s just the way modern warfare has moved. The demand signal for that airpower continues to rise. While we work hard to continually become more efficient, which we must, and to minimize the cost of effectively operating our Air Force, if less capability or less capacity or less readiness eventually means we lose even one more young American on the battlefield, we’ll all wish we’d made better investments.”

In her opening statement, James outlined her three priorities: taking care of people, balancing readiness and modernization, and making every dollar count, which are the foundation of the president’s fiscal 2017 budget.

“Airmen and their families are the Air Force’s most important resource and our budget reflects this truth,” James said.

The Air Force stopped downsizing and started right-sizing total force end strength to address a number of key areas to include cyber, nuclear, maintenance, intelligence, battlefield Airmen, and the remotely piloted aircraft community.

James stated her second priority is getting the balance right between readiness and modernization.

“As we have explained in the past, less than half of our combat air forces are ready today for a high-end fight,” James said. “Our aircraft inventory is the oldest it’s ever been, and our adversaries are closing the technological gap on us quickly so we simply must modernize.”

In 2013, sequestration put a strain on the Air Force, forcing the service to park jets, delay upgrades and halt training, which created a gap in readiness.

“For the last two years we have been trying to rebuild that readiness but of course our Airmen have needed to respond to real-world events across the globe,” James said. “If we return to sequestration in (fiscal 2018), this will exacerbate the readiness problem and set us ever further back. If this happens, our Airmen could be forced to enter a future conflict with insufficient preparation.”

In order to equip the force, the Air Force has invested in the F-35 Lightning II, KC-46 Pegasus and the long-range strike bomber, but modernization doesn’t stop there.

“The platforms and systems that made us great over the last 50 years will not make us great over the next 50,” Welsh said. “There are many other systems we need to either upgrade or recapitalize to ensure viability against current and emerging threats. Without additional funding, the only way to do that is to divest old capability to build the new. That requires very difficult, emotional decisions decisions that simply must be made if we are truly to provide for the common defense.”

According to the Fiscal Year 2017 Air Force Posture Statement, as the challengers of the Air Force employ increasingly sophisticated, capable and lethal systems, the Air Force must modernize to deter, deny and decisively defeat any actor that threatens the homeland and its national interests.

“Twenty-five years of combat operations have dramatically impacted our total force readiness, significantly aged our equipment and has shown the brilliance of our Airmen and the loyalty of their families,” Welsh said. “The world is changing, the threat is changing and our Air Force must change with it if we’re to remain relevant. Today, American airpower is a given and I believe it’s our job, collectively, to ensure this nation’s ability to deliver that airpower, when and where it matters most, does not diminish over time.”

The posture reflects the third priority, which is the Air Force’s commitment to preserving taxpayer dollars with a number of initiatives that include streamlined energy usage and cost saving ideas directly from our Airmen.