28 February 2010

Morale: Beyond the job

U.S. Air Force Nurse, Lucy Lehker, comforts an 'unknown' Canadian soldier after he was badly wounded in Afghanistan.

Michael Yon brings to light the good that is done. Hat tip to Neptunus Lex.

Dear Michael Yon,

Today we were sent your story of February 14, 2010. The “unknown” Canadian is our son Danny. He is a 23-year-old soldier from Vancouver, Canada.

Your photographs were extraordinary and have impacted so many people here in Canada. There has been an outpouring of affection for the Americans who helped Danny in his moment of need. For that, we thank you for recording these acts of kindness into history.

Danny's injuries were the result of an explosion on February 12, 2010. Four Canadian soldiers were injured and tragically one Canadian soldier was killed. Within 20 minutes of the explosion, Danny was airlifted by helicopter to Kandahar. Upon arrival he received emergency surgery that saved his life and prepared him for the flight to Bagram that you were on.
After landing in Bagram, Danny was again airlifted by a US transport aircraft to the US Army run Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. There he underwent additional surgery that closed up his wounds. Once stabilized, the Canadian government dispatched a Challenger jet to bring him home. This afternoon in Vancouver, the shrapnel that did all the damage to him was finally removed. Danny is now recovering in hospital.

This was Danny's second tour of duty in Afghanistan and his platoon on this tour has had heavy causalities and injuries. Physically, Danny will overcome his injuries. He also has the support of his family, his friends and his community to deal with the emotional side of this war. Our hearts go out to those families who have had the loss of a soldier or who have had to deal with greater injuries.

Danny and his whole family are very grateful, and are actually overwhelmed, by the support he received while in US care. The Canadian military have also been wonderful. It is our intention to personally thank everyone who worked so hard to save Danny's life. We have already made contact with Major Deborah "Lucy" Lehker to thank her.

Jim & Holly

Morale: Team Rubicon Readies for Chili Deployment

UPDATE: Team Rubicon, or TR-A has assembled in Los Angeles, CA and is conducting final gear and administrative preparation for departure for Argentina. Please continue to send TR-A updates of the situation on the ground in Chile as things progress, this is a grassroots effort, and we need the TR Nation to be our eyes and ears while we prepare over the next 12 hours!! More here...

INITIAL POST: As you hopefully by now know, Chile has been rocked by a magnitude 8.7 earthquake off it’s coast. This earthquake is over 1000x more powerful than the one that struck Haiti over one month ago.

Initial reports from the Chilean government are casualties hovering near 200, however, communication is down with outlying villages and towns on the coast, and that toll is expected to rise sharply in the coming days.

Team Rubicon has assembled a 6 man recon element to fly into southern Chile to assess casualties near the coast, where large aid organizations will not concentrate their efforts. We expect bottlenecks to occur in Santiago, where the airport is shut down for 24 hours, and concentrated efforts to be focused on Concepcion. This leaves a critical gap in medical attention on the coastal towns.

Aero: Ekranoplane - Caspian, "Sea Monsters"

Ground effect, that 10 feet or so of altitude that say "I really want to fly now!".

26 February 2010

USAF: Aviation Camp Packets Due

U.S. Air Force Youth Aviation Camp packets must be turned in by March 12. Youth will be required to submit their packets and schedule a interview date the week of March 16-18.
For more information and packets contact the Hill AFB, Utah, Youth Center.
The Air Force Teen Aviation Camp is a residential six-day program which provides youth a glimpse of what cadets attending the U.S. Air Force Academy experience. Activities include a stay in prep school dorms, high/low ropes course, a tour of the academy, flight simulators, and a Cessna flight.
An applicant must be:
- A dependent of active duty military assigned to or living on an Air Force installation, Air Force retired military, Air Force civilian employee, Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve who have been activated within the last 12 months.
- A high school student entering their sophomore or junior year in the fall of 2010 who is interested in aviation, leadership, or the U.S. Air Force Academy.
- Must not have participated in the 2009 camp held last year.
- Must demonstrate an application of leadership abilities and social maturity through involvement in school and community activities.
- Must demonstrate skills and achievements outside of the realm of science and academic pursuits, and,
- Must demonstrate a curiosity and an eagerness to explore many and varied topics. Per NOTF.

24 February 2010

CTWG: Thames River Composite Squadron Change of Command

23 February, 2010 - The command of the Thames River Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol, passed from Lt Col Lawrence W. Kinch to Capt Paul J. Noniewicz in a ceremony at Squadron Headquarters in Groton. In a longstanding tradition, Col Kinch passed the Squadron Guidon to Capt Noniewicz symbolizing the passing of authority and responsibility from one Officer to another.

As a teenager in the 1950s, Col Kinch served as a Civil Air Patrol Cadet, traveled to Chile on the cadet exchange program, attended the USAF Jet Orientation Program, and was one of only two Cadets to qualify as a Mission Observer. He joined the United States Air Force, trained as a Navigator and served in several variants of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules. His major military assignments included Instructor Navigator and Crew Lead with the 516th Tactical Airlift Wing at Dyess AFB, Texas and Executive Officer to the Commander of the 317th Tactical Airlift Wing at Pope AFB, North Carolina. While at Pope, he also helped develop and test the Air Force’s All Weather Aerial Delivery System.

During the Vietnam War, Col Kinch flew two combat tours over North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. During his 144 combat missions, he navigated C-130A "Blind Bat" flare ship and served as Attack Director in AC-130A Specter gunship. While assigned to gunships, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for locating and attacking the home base of a North Vietnamese regiment. Aside from the Distinguished Flying Cross, he also holds the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal with seven Oak Leaf Clusters, and a Distinguished Presidential Unit Citation with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Vietnam Service Medal with five Battle Stars, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm, and the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon. Col Kinch retired from the Air Force as a Master Navigator.

Col Kinch rejoined CAP in 1998 and becoming Commander of Thames River Composite Squadron in August of 2005. While Commander, he focused on developing the Air Operations Team with the goal of deploying three fully trained crews during a single emergency. Upon retirement, he worked in the field of Human Resources with the Middletown City Government and at Yardney Technical Products in Pawcatuck, RI.

Col Kinch resides in Gales Ferry with his wife Sue and his four daughters, Beth, Laura, Meredith, and Amy.

Connecticut Wing Commander, Col Cassandra Huchko, presented Col Kinch with the Commander's Commendation Award and praised his command abilities as well as the progress the Squadron made under his leadership. Catherine L. Young, Manager of the Groton-New London Airport, read a testimonial from the Connecticut Department of Transportation honoring Col Kinch for his contributions to aviation safety and aerospace education. Additionally, Lt Edward Miller, on behalf of the Squadron, presented The Colonel with a scale model of the C-130 Specter gunship. The model was painted with the identification markings of one of the ships in which Kinch served.

The incoming Commander, Capt Noniewicz hails from central Connecticut and was raised in New Britain. As a boy, he watched airplanes take off and land at an airport near his grandmother's house, developing a strong interest in aviation from that moment on. He graduated from the University of Vermont in 1986 and went on to earn a Master's from Lehigh and an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is employed by Computer Sciences Corporation.

Capt Noniewicz has served as the Squadron Safety Officer and Maintenance Officer and currently holds the post of Operations Officer. He is a CAP Mission, Cadet Orientation, and Instrument
Rated Pilot. A significant highlight of his CAP career was flying multiple missions immediately after the 9/11 attack in which he served on a crew carrying medical supplies from Massachusetts to New York.

Captain Noniewicz resides in Lyme with his wife Jackie and daughter Lindsey.

Stephen M. Rocketto, Maj, CAP
Public Affairs Officer, Thames River Composite Squadron

23 February 2010

Careers: Cyber Warfare and the USAF

The below is extracted from the AFA Blog. This type of new program represents a real opportunity to attract additional youth to CAP, especially in the fields of engineering, computer and data design. Now, we just need a program and motivated teachers to front new flights. This is in all practicality a very critical, exciting and youth oriented career path - the cadets could, should lead the way.

Cyber Warfare
AFA members, Congressional staffers, Civic Leaders, DOCA members, a piece from the Atlantic caught my attention this week (thank you Jack for bringing it to my attention). It is by James Fallows. It starts out with an analysis of the Chinese military (with which I do not necessarily agree) – but most of the piece is about the cyber threat facing our nation. I think Mr. Fallows does a great job of summarizing this very difficult area.

From the piece: "When will China emerge as a military threat to the U.S.? In most respects the answer is: not anytime soon—China doesn’t even contemplate a time it might challenge America directly. But one significant threat already exists: cyberwar. Attacks—not just from China but from Russia and elsewhere—on America’s electronic networks cost millions of dollars and could in the extreme cause the collapse of financial life, the halt of most manufacturing systems, and the evaporation of all the data and knowledge stored on the Internet."

You can find a link to the piece at: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/201003/china-cyber-war Secondly, as most of you know, AF Space Command is the command responsible for both space and cyberspace. Recently, AFSPACECOM published 10 principles for Cyber. The lead for the piece is the rise of the Cyber Wingman … and the first bullet states: “Every time we log onto the network, we are entering a contested domain where the threats and vulnerabilities are real.” Not only does the piece make you think, but it has the added value of being concise. You can find the piece on our website at: http://www.afa.org/EdOp/2010/edop_21210.asp.

Finally, it is clear the US military has to focus more on this domain. The AF has established a Cyber numbered Air Force. DOD has announced the stand-up of a Joint Cyber Command. The cyber domain affects almost everything we do. It is for this reason that AFA has begun a high school cyber competition. We have the finals of this competition in Orlando this week.

We are especially proud of this event – it is a project that is already having significant positive impact and helping to solve a critical national security problem. In a little over a year, CyberPatriot has grown from a concept to a national competition involving nearly 200 teams in 41 states (even a DoDDS high school in Japan). We believe it to be the largest such competition ever conducted, and next year it will double or triple in size. You can watch a short video describing the competition at: http://www.youtube.com/user/AirForceAssocHQ#p/a/u/0/bqfSLVGYTY8.

For your consideration.

22 February 2010

CTWG: The New Commander of the CT Wing

Civil Air Patrol’s Colonel Cassandra Huchko takes command of the Connecticut Wing


A Plainville, Connecticut native has been appointed Commander of the Connecticut Wing of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). She is the third female in Connecticut to have earned this honor.

Then Lt Col. Cassandra Huchko of Plainville, was promoted to full Colonel and assumed command of the Connecticut Wing on February 21st during a formal ceremony presided over by fellow CAP officers including the North East Region Commander Colonel Christopher Hayden as well as a number of past Connecticut Wing Commanders. Over one hundred Connecticut Civil Air Patrol volunteers, senior members and cadets, as well as State Representative Elizabeth A. Boukus and Plainville Town officials were in attendance. The ceremony was held at the Robertson Airport in Plainville, CT.

"This Wing is and will be, all about teamwork.” and “The Wing staff is not going to be my staff, it’s your staff.", said Huchko, who works for Otis Elevator, part of United Technologies in Farmington, CT.

Huchko’s path to success in the organization had its challenges. Over two decades, she navigated and successfully performed the responsibilities of a Squadron Officer, Squadron Commander, Connecticut Wing Administrative Officer, Director of Administration & Personnel and most recently the demanding position of Wing Chief of Staff.

As Wing Commander, Huchko becomes the CAP Corporate Officer for Connecticut and will serve on the Civil Air Patrol’s National Board. Statewide, she is in charge of 13 squadrons including over 700 senior and cadet members. The Connecticut Wing currently operates five single-engine Cessna and Gippsland aircraft, a ground fleet of transport vans and a statewide rescue and emergency services communications network. Connecticut has a dynamic ground search and rescue capability and is one of the hardest flying wings in the nation, ranking fifth nationally and first in the North East in hours flown per aircraft.

For more information about the Connecticut Wing and CAP, go to www.CTWG.CAP.GOV.

Logistics: Why are logistics important?

The Missing Link In Arab Armies
February 18, 2010: One of the reasons for the poor training, lethargic movement and poor combat capabilities of most Arab armies is logistics, or lack of same. Keeping the troops supplied is something Western armies take for granted, along with their ability to do it well. But Arab armies are still way behind their Western counterparts. American officers and NCOs come face-to-face with the differences when they are ordered to help Iraqi troops build an effective logistics system.

Three big problems were encountered. First, the Americans have, in the past two decades, computerized their supply system. The Iraqis can't adopt that, because they don't have enough computers, or people who know how to use them. Second, in the army, when there are computers available, officers grab them because they make great status symbols. Third, many Iraqi businesses use manual record keeping for their company logistics, but the pre-2003 Iraqi Army never even adopted a decent manual system.

The U.S. Army has sought out older NCOs (and retirees willing to go back to work) who had experience in the old American manual systems, and remember how it worked in practice, to implement these old school techniques for the Iraqis. Old manuals and forms are being sought out, translated into Arabic and distributed. But not fast enough, because the Iraqis need it now, and most of the American troops will be gone by the end of the year. American trainers will still be around, but the American military logistics system, which has been keeping the Iraqi forces going, will be gone. More here....

USAF: Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Speaks

Chief master sergeant of the Air Force shares vision for enlisted Airmen

2/18/2010 - ORLANDO, Fla. (AFNS) -- The chief master sergeant of the Air Force discussed the outlook for enlisted Airmen during the Air Force Association's Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition Feb. 18 here.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy spoke to several hundred Airmen and civilians about preserving and enhancing the all-volunteer force, one of the four priority objectives in the Quadrennial Defense Review.

"First and foremost we need to manage the operational tempo," Chief Roy said. "Specifically of those chronic critical (Air Force specialties) out there that are always tasked. Many would say, 'Chief that's kind of easy to point out. That's your (pararescuemen and joint terminal attack controller) kind of folks. But also on that list, and would surprise many folks, are contracting and civil engineering. More here....

Motivational: COD

Carrier on board delivery...

18 February 2010

Aero: Aero - sort of if you follow the physics!

America's Cup congrats USA! Glad you kept your head!

History: Iwo Jima Photo Show

A very good photo show from Iwo Jima, here...

WARNING: Graphic.

14 February 2010

Aero: Air Tractor

A former Marine Hornet driver knows of what he speaks.

It’s a shame the Air Force seemingly deferred a decision on COIN planes and a COIN wing or squadron or whatever Mike Vickers said they were going to outline in the QDR.

I would like to get the “real” cost of doing business with a Predator, when you factor in additional Sat’s, people, ground stations, etc…

Compares pretty badly to the the Air Tractor — $5-$6 mil fully decked out, 10 hours time on station — from the austere strip at the FOB (or Camp Belleau Wood if it were there today) with no transit time. Imagine the difference if LtCol Christmas was able to brief face to face with the pilot and forward observer who would fly cover over his battlespace — for 10 hours at a time — one crew, feeding targets and imagery to each Cobra, Harrier and Hornet coming in for close air support.

We had that kind of long duration, manned capability in Vietnam in the O-1 Bird Dog, the O-2 Mohawk and the OV-10 Bronco. About time we had it again.

Bottom line, is that no sensor today can give a pilot the same situational awareness when he is in a trailer north of Vegas looking at a few flat screen TV’s. For Airborne Forward Air Controller and Forward Observer duties a good man, with a lot of time on station, sensors and weapons can save dozens of lives.

Those grunts waiting for the balloon to go up in Marjah would like nothing more than a couple Spads and Spectres to give the bad guys holed up there a what for.

CTWG: 2010 Wing Conference

The 2010 Connecticut Wing Conference will take place the weekend of October
22, 23, and 24th 2010. Location to be determined.

Lt. Col. Cassandra Huchko is looking for members to serve on the 2010 Conference
Committee. If you are interested in shaping our 2010 Conference, Please
contact her.

Lt. Col. Matthew Valleau
Acting Commander
Connecticut Wing

Aero: U2 Carrier Landing Trials

13 February 2010

DoD: Marjah

There is a kind of Army slang term called "pullin a Falujah" it refers to we are going to conquer this and there is nothing anyone against us can do to stop us...it aint easy and it will be costly but we will do it anyway... it covers the following;

MARJAH, Afghanistan — Bombs and booby traps slowed the advance of thousands of U.S. Marines and Afghan soldiers moving Saturday through the Taliban-controlled town of Marjah — NATO's most ambitious effort yet to break the militants' grip over their southern heartland.
NATO said it hoped to secure the area in days, set up a local government and rush in development aid in a first test of the new U.S. strategy for turning the tide of the eight-year war. The offensive is the largest since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.

The Taliban appeared to have scattered in the face of overwhelming force, possibly waiting to regroup and stage attacks later to foil the alliance's plan to stabilize the area and expand Afghan government control in the volatile south. More here....

09 February 2010

USAF: Flying the C-130J to BAF

Michael Yon flys a C-130J to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Great photos and more here...

Kandahar, Afghanistan08 February 2010

American troops are spread widely across Afghanistan. Some are remote and accessibility is difficult. In 2008, I was with six soldiers in Zabul Province who didn’t even get mail for three months. They had no email. They were on the moon. Six courageous men, in the middle of nowhere, and their nearest backup was a small Special Forces team about five hours away. Resupply to these small outposts is crucial, difficult, and would require major effort by ground. Enter the United States Air Force.

Tonight’s mission was to fly from Kandahar Airfield (KAF) to Bagram Airfield (BAF), pick up specially rigged bundles of fuel and ammunition and parachute those to American forces up near the border of Turkmenistan...

Current Events: Black Hawk Down Revisited

Showdown In Mogadishu
February 9, 2010:

The Transitional Government now has the upper hand in Mogadishu, and is attempting to drive al Shabaab gunmen from city. The government has been able to do this because of the several thousand soldiers trained in Djibouti, Burundi and Kenya. These men have been arriving back in the city over the past few weeks, and have, along with the AU peacekeepers, changed the balance of power.
The Islamic radicals have also been weakened by battles with other Islamic radical groups, and religious and clan militias organized for self-defense. Al Shabaab has tried to protect itself in the city by living in residential areas (and preventing the civilians from fleeing). That hasn't worked, and civilian casualties are higher as a result.
Back in the 1990s, the use of human shields worked a few times against peacekeepers (who got killed in large numbers as a result). But since then, the word has got around that you either kill the human shields, or get killed.
This stark choice is one thing that has kept Western peacekeepers from returning to Somalia, as Western politicians don't want to deal with this sort of nastiness. But al Shabaab is still pretty strong, particularly because they control the port of Kismayo (south of Mogadishu) which get sea and air shipments of weapons from Eritrea. Attempts to stop Eritrea (which denies everything) have failed, and the weapons keep coming. More here...

08 February 2010

CTWG: CT CAP Profiled on line

Flying with the Civil Air Patrol

By Megan Bard
For 68 years the national Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, has helped to find and rescue crews of downed aircraft, assisted local, state and federal agencies in drug investigations and supported non-combat homeland security...

07 February 2010

Aero: Hudson River Recovery Ops

Time lapse video of the Hudson River Airbus A320 recovery - interesting.

04 February 2010


Giving the DoD’s latest Quadrennial Defense Review a close look, it seems as if the Pentagon poobahs hashed out a juxtaposed message for the Boys in (sky) Blue.

On page 10 of the executive summary of the 2010 QDR, it says that the US air force will be able to take advantage of F-22s and JSFs for air dominance and still buzz around in retro planes like the Super Tucano or Air Tractor when “training” counterinsurgency forces.

U.S. air forces will become more survivable as large numbers of fifth-generation fighters join the force. Land-based and carrier-based aircraft will need greater average range, flexibility, and multimission versatility in order to deter and defeat adversaries that are fielding more potent anti-access capabilities. We will also enhance our air forces’ contributions to security force assistance operations by fielding within our broader inventory aircraft that are well-suited to training and advising partner air forces.

That seems like a big victory for the COIN Air Force Wing advocates, but we’ll see what the details are when the services give their breakouts today.

The QDR lays out more COIN-related aviation moves, including fielding two new Navy helicopter squadrons dedicated solely for special operations missions. One has to wonder whether those aviation assets will help answer the mail for those worried about a lack of dedicated aviation elements for MarSOF troops. And the fearsom Spectre will get a makeover as well, with the Air Force buying converting 16 C-130Js and phasing out older AC-130s for a net of 35 aircraft from 25.

USAF: Coin Aircraft

Photo: Laos COIN OPs.

The Air Force looks as if it has punted the establishment of a COIN Wing (though we’ll see when the authorization process starts) based on its budget submission yesterday.

Air Force budget officials said the so-called “light attack aircraft” would not have any significant funding until the 2012 submission, where the service will allot $172 million for the so-called COIN plane.

The Air Force did, however, take a step toward a COIN wing by ordering up 15 Light Mobility Aircraft to the tune of nearly $66 million. According to a submission to FedBizOpps, the LiMA must be able to carry a minimum of six pax and crew, operate from “austere landing surfaces” and carry a minimum of 1800 pounds with crew. The plane needs a loading door that can take litters and a 36 inch warehouse skid and have two pilot stations but be able to be flown by one pilot.

The Air Force is budgeting for these planes in FY 2011 only. And part of the idea behind the plane is to help train other air forces during counterinsurgency operations.

The Light Mobility Aircraft (LiMA) program will acquire Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) aircraft to satisfy the USAF light mobility mission requirement. These aircraft will be suitable for building partner capacity (BPC) especially in lesser developed partner nations (PN). This program supports irregular warfare efforts that help prepare PN to defend and govern themselves by demonstrating an airlift capability that is consistent with their needs for supporting infrastructure, performance, anticipated methods of employment, acquisition and sustainment costs, and multi-role/multi-mission capability.

Aero: Robots in Space

NASA's humans-in-space program may be on hiatus following dramatic recent budget cuts, but the agency's robots-in-space program is alive and well.
In conjunction with manufacturing partner General Motors, the space agency has unveiled the latest generation robotic astronaut, dubbed Robonaut 2. NASA says that the robot is designed to work side by side with people; its leading edge control, sensor and vision technologies could assist astronauts during hazardous space missions. More here...