Friday, November 28, 2008

Comm & AWACS: Exploring link between 552nd Communications Group, AWACS mission

by Staff Sgt. Stacy Fowler, 552nd Air Control Wing Public Affairs

Airmen and civilians from the 552nd Air Control Wing work in the mission simulators during a training exercise. The programs used in the mission sims, as well as in the E-3 Sentry itself during real-world missions, are written, tested and released for use by Airmen in the 552nd Communications Group. (Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stacy Fowler)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- When the E-3 Sentry conducts its missions at home and around the world, every Airman in the wing has their own part in the mission's success. For many people, the implied 552nd Communications Group's mission revolves around office computers, the telephone lines and network communications - but that is only a very small part of the 552nd CG mission.

A unique group, an important mission
"We are unique in the fact that our mission places us closer to the flightline than any typical Comm Group," said Col. John Pericas, 552nd CG commander. "We work hand-in-hand with flying operations to sustain and improve what AWACS brings to the fight."

The Air Battle Managers depend on the Comm Group to build, issue and track communications security and mission software kits, as well as provide post-mission archives of past Sentry data and databases. The group provides 24-hour software support to improve the operational effectiveness of the E-3 and its crews.

While at Tinker, the Comm Group supports six flying squadrons in the states, as well as two E-3 squadrons at Kadena Air Base, Japan, and Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. Group personnel also deploy 365 days a year supporting operations such as NOBLE EAGLE and President of the United States (POTUS) missions at home and abroad, counter-drug missions in South America, and Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM.

The group is divided into two units: the 552nd Computer Support Squadron and the 752nd Communications Squadron.

"We're not geeks - we're nerds"
The Airmen in the 552nd CSS embrace their 'nerdiness' with pride - they are the ones who write the scope programs used during AWACS missions.

"Here in the CSS, we're not geeks - we're nerds," said Tech. Sgt. Brett Bittle, 552nd CSS training flight NCO. "These guys are incredibly smart, and they are the ones who are responsible for the AWACS scope capabilities. They know more about codes for the AWACS programs than almost anyone! All that's missing is the pocket protectors to let people know how smart these programmers are!"

The CSS not only writes the programs used by the ABMs during missions, they also ensure those programs are compatible with other U.S. surveillance aircraft and other command, control and communications aircraft around the world. There are several steps to the program-building process: writing the codes, testing the codes and then certifying the codes not just through the Air Force, but through allied nation's systems.

They get up to date requests from the ABMs using their programs, and are constantly updating and improving their results. This process takes a lot of time - two years to be exact! After the codes are written, they are tested using computer simulation with the flight simulators and experienced AWACS crews.

"We have already been working on newer codes based on the 'rack-and-stack' requests from the ABMs," said Maj. Steven Phelps, 552nd CSS Operational Test Flight commander.

"It takes a year to write the codes, then another year to test and certify the codes. Everyone in this unit works together to make sure it's done right. If it isn't done right, you could have problems during missions - and someone could get hurt."

Fly-away communications
After the codes are given the "thumbs-up" for use during real-world missions, the 752nd Communications Squadron takes over.

Airmen in the 752nd CS are a fully-deployable asset for the E-3 - they provide a wide array of day-to-day secure communications and computer support.

"We're the ones who make sure the flyers have all the kits they need when they go out for a mission," said Staff Sgt. Jamie Sherman, a 752nd CS AWACS media technician. "Our troops have gone everywhere with the AWACS: South America, POTUS missions, as well as a lot of deployments and exercises here and overseas in the desert."

Squadron members build and issue three kits to AWACS aircrews: mission software that drives the E-3 computer and radar system; communications security kit for voice and data transmissions and encryptions; and the High Frequency Messenger kit that enables classified message capability onboard the E-3.

In addition, Airmen deploy with the E-3 around the world to ensure those kits are updated, archived and cleared - while at the same time keeping the secured communications lines open and ready if and when they are needed. Sometimes called the "first 400 feet" communications, ground comm technicians in the 752nd make sure the ground-to-ground and air-to-ground communications are working properly.

"We have to make sure that all our equipment is fully-functional before we step out the door," said Tech. Sgt. Kerry Splitter, 752nd CS ground communications NCO. "If it's not working we figure out why - and we don't call it a day until it is fixed."

The next generation of AWACS
The majority of AWACS hardware, both in the mission simulators and on the aircraft, dates back to the 1970s - and challenges sometimes come up when today's computer programs interact during missions.

But that is scheduled to change with the development of Block 40/45.

"It's like upgrading from a Commodore 64 computer to one of today's high-speed computer systems," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Drennen, a 552nd CSS test analyst. "We've always upgraded the software to keep up with changes in warfare, but we were still having to use the same hardware. With 40/45, it will exponentially increase our capabilities - and that will prove incredibly useful in today's military."

In addition, Airmen are working on new ways to "replay" past missions in a more three-dimensional way. Currently, the only way to view mission replays is through a two-dimensional, black screen view - which doesn't show all aspects of what might affect an AWACS mission.

"We want to be able to give crews, commanders and any investigators the ability to see what the AWACS has done in a real-world view," said Airman 1st Class John Torgerson, one of the Airmen in the 552nd CSS working on the upgrades. "We hope that this new method increases our abilities to know just what happened during a mission."

With the E-3 Sentry celebrating its 30th anniversary in the Air Force's fleet, change is going to be a constant for Airmen.

"The Comm Group has been working hard to redefine its relevance of what it will bring to the fight in the long term," Colonel Pericas said. "We must continue to provide world-class software development, while transforming to support the implementation and operation of the E-3G. We must structure our group and train our people to simultaneously support [all AWACS upgrades], as well as focus on airborne networking and contributing to the advancement of AWACS as a network-centric operations platform."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Milcom Blog Logs - 11/27/2008 - Mid Atlantic

Here are some excellent intercepts sent to MMP by our Maryland Mid Atlantic reporter Ron Perron. Ron, thanks for sharing them with our MMP readers.

ACY-Atlantic City NJ
ADW- Andrews AFB MD
BW- Bay Watch-NAS PAX Area Advisory Control
GK- Giantkiller (FACSFAC, Virginia Capes)
MTN-Martin State Airport, Baltimore
NGTF-Northrop-Grumman Test Facility, Baltimore
NXX- Willow Grove JRB PA
PAX-NAS Patuxent River MD
ZDC- Washington ARTCC

1. VHF/UHF: ((Times are EST))

0809- N24NG (Cessna 560XL, NGTF)-w/PAX approach (127.95).
0835- Navy 7A326 (C-12B, Base Flt PAX)-w/BW (354.8)
0836- Raptor flt (F-22s, Langley)-check in w/GK (249.8). then switch to W386 common (312.3). After work in W386 Raptor flt goes into W72 and T-Bolt flt RTB Langley
0836- T-Bolt 41 flt (2 X F-22s, 149th FS VA ANG Langley)-on W386 common (312.3) working w/Raptor flt.
0900- N161NG (BAC-1-11, NGTF)-w/Echo Control (262.95) for several test runs.
0902- Trap 51 flt (F-22s, Langley)-w/ZDC (256.8) then on GK/W386 common (346.6)
1450- Tester 04 (F-18B # 161360, NTPS PAX )-w/BW (256.5) working w/Tester 11 (T-38C # 68-8158, NTPS PAX).
1547- CG 6511 (HH-65C, CGAS ACY)-check in w/CG Sector Baltimore (157.15) opening radio at position 3906N/7620W. CG 6511 requests Baltimore notify NCREF (???) that they are enroute to CGAS ACY.

2. HF: ((Times UTC, Freqs KHz))

07527.0 J10 (USCG MH-60J #6010 CGAS Clearwater FL): 0027 USB/ALE sounding. Also on 08912.0 USB
07527.0 LNT (Camslant Chesapeake VA): 0052 USB/ALE calling J41 (USCG MH-60J #6041 CGAS Elizabeth City NC).
07527.0 K99 (USCG MH-65C # 6599 CGAS Atlantic City NJ): 0054 USB/ALE sounding.
07527.0 F12 (USCG HU-25 #2112 CGAS Cape Cod MA): 1354 USB/ALE sounding.
07527.0 OPB (OPBAT Service Center, Nassau, Bahamas): 1402 USB/ALE calling J22 (USCG HH-60J #6022 CGAS Clearwater FL).
07527.0 LNT : 1407 USB/ALE calling J39 (USCG MH-60J #6039 CGAS Clearwater FL).
07527.0 T91 (US Customs PIPER PA-42-720R #N9091J, Jacksonville, FL AMB): 1409 USB/ALE sounding. Also on 08912.0 & 11494.0 USB

05732.0 RKN (USCGC BEAR WMEC 901,Portsmouth, VA): 0324 USB/ALE sounding. Also on 08912.0 & 11494.0 USB
05732.0 IKL (USCGC TAMPA WMEC 902 Portsmouth, VA): 0342 USB/ALE sounding. Also on 08912.0 & 15867.0 USB
05732.0 RDC (USCGC CAMPBELL WMEC 909 Kittery, ME): 0357 USB/ALE sounding.
05732.0 720 (USCG HC-130H #1720, CGAS Clearwater FL): 0447 USB/ALE sounding.
05732.0 PAC (CamsPac Point Reyes CA): 1053 USB/ALE calling 706 (USCG HC-130H #1706, CGAS Barbers Point HI).
05732.0 J39 (USCG MH-60J #6039 CGAS Clearwater FL): 1208 USB/ALE sounding.
05732.0 718 (USCG HC-130H #1718, CGAS Sacramento CA): 1307 USB/ALE sounding.

08912.0 I96 (US Customs CESSNA 550 #N26496): 1429 USB/ALE sounding.
08912.0 J22 (USCG HH-60J #6022 CGAS Clearwater FL): 1442 USB/ALE sounding.
08912.0 FTMSEC (COTHEN Remote Omni-Directional Transmitter, Fort Myers, FL): 1451 USB/ALE sounding.
08912.0 K57 (USCG MH-65C # 6557 CGAS Miami FL): 1453 USB/ALE sounding.
08912.0 J38 (USCG MH-60J #6038 CGAS Clearwater FL): 1540 USB/ALE sounding.
08912.0 J25 (USCG MH-60J #6025 CGAS Clearwater FL): 161 USB/ALE sounding.
08912.0 F31 (USCG HU-25 #2131 CGAS Cape Cod MA): 1642 USB/ALE sounding.
08912.0 D44 (US Customs P-3 AEW&C #N143CS/BuNo 153447, Corpus Christi AMB, TX): 1723 USB/ALE sounding.
08912.0 D14 (US Custom P-3A “Slick” #N18314/BuNo 150314, Corpus Christi AMB, TX): 1906 USB/ALE sounding.

08980.0 XSS (UK DHFCS, Forest Moor UK): 2107 USB/ALE sounding.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Milcom Blog Logs - 11/25/2008 - Mid Atlantic

Here are some excellent intercepts sent to MMP by our Maryland Mid Atlantic reporter Ron Perron. Ron, thanks for sharing them with our MMP readers.

ACY-Atlantic City NJ
ADW- Andrews AFB MD
BW- Bay Watch-NAS PAX Area Advisory Control
GK- Giantkiller (FACSFAC, Virginia Capes)
MTN-Martin State Airport, Baltimore
NGTF-Northrop-Grumman Test Facility, Baltimore
NXX- Willow Grove JRB PA
PAX-NAS Patuxent River MD
ZDC- Washington ARTCC

1. VHF/UHF: ((Times are EST))

0827- USCGC James Rankin (WLM-555, Keeper Class Coastal Buoy Tender)-w/CG Sector Baltimore (157.15) advising they are underway w/20 POB for ATON (Aid to Navigation) patrol in Baltimore Harbor.
0850- Dodge 71 (F-22s, Langley) working in W386 (249.8)
0852- Smart 51 flt (4 X F-22s, Langley)-working in W386 (249.8 & 312.3).
1219- Fazio 46 (sounds like-prob E-6B East Coast TACAMO)-check in on AICC (364.2)
1547- Tester 962 (T-6 TEXAN II # 165962, NTPS PAX)-w/NW (270.8) in vertical maneuvering test.
1550- N161NG (BAC-1-11, NGTF)-w/BW (354.8) arranging for N168W (T-39 Sabreliner NGTF) to enter BW areas to work w/N161NG.

2. HF: ((Times UTC, Freqs KHz))

08912.0 T85 (US Customs PIPER PA-42-720R #N9085U, Jacksonville, FL AMB): 1615 USB/ALE sounding.

Ronald Reagan CSG Returns Home After Deployment

For a video clip of this story, click on this link.

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Five ships and more than 5,500 Sailors of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 7 returned to their homeport of San Diego Nov. 25 after a six-month deployment to the 7th Fleet and 5th Fleet areas of responsibility.

The strike group flagship, the Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), the guided-missile destroyers USS Decatur (DDG 73) and USS Gridley (DDG 101) and the guided-missile frigate USS Thach (FFG 43) arrived to meet thousands of family members waiting on the pier.

The deployment was the third-ever for the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, which performed combat operations in support of coalition troops in Afghanistan, as well as carrying out a humanitarian assistance/disaster relief mission in the Philippines in response to Typhoon Fengshen in June and July.

"There is no question that Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group had a very successful deployment," said Commander, Carrier Strike Group 7, Rear Adm. Scott Hebner.

"The talented and dedicated Sailors of this group demonstrated tremendous operational flexibility and performed at the highest levels of excellence across the warfare spectrum and core capabilities of the Maritime Strategy. They were warriors, ambassadors, partners and humanitarians. They represent all that is good in our country and I'm profoundly honored to sail with this impressive strike group."

The deployment ceased being routine when Mother Nature unleashed its wrath on the Philippines. Typhoon Fengshen struck the nation hard, particularly on the island of Panay, leaving 540 dead and destroying more than 100,000 homes.

The Ronald Reagan Strike Group, which was enjoying its first port call of the deployment in Hong Kong, left port a day early to avoid the storm and after receiving an order from President Bush, immediately steamed to the Philippines to help.

Arriving on station in only 36 hours, helicopters from all six CSG-7 ships, including the guided-missile destroyer USS Howard (DDG 83), proceeded to fly eight consecutive days delivering more than 519,000 pounds of fresh water, rice and medical supplies.

"These people were on the brink of despair," said Ronald Reagan commanding officer Capt. Kenneth Norton. "We rolled right in, we got ourselves organized and we got our folks on the beach and helped quickly. In my 27 years in the Navy, that was without a doubt the most fulfilling mission I've ever been a part of."

After 7th Fleet key engagement visits to Korea, Japan and Malaysia, the Ronald Reagan Strike Group transferred to 5th Fleet. Ronald Reagan, Chancellorsville and Reagan's embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 took up station in the Gulf of Oman as Commander, Task Force 50 and immediately began support of coalition forces on the ground in southern Afghanistan, flying more than 1,150 sorties in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

While Ronald Reagan and its air wing helped provide security on the ground in Afghanistan, other strike group ships provided maritime security in the region.

Decatur and Thach joined Task Force 152 in the Central Arabian Gulf, while Gridley and Howard patrolled the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden as part of Task Force 150.

CSG-7 ships also strengthened maritime partnerships by participating in the bilateral Exercise Malabar '08 with the Navy of India, as well as South East Asia Cooperation Against Terrorism with the navies of Brunei, Singapore and the Republic of the Philippines.

The group departed San Diego on May 19 and after a very eventful deployment, Sailors were eager to spend the holidays with family and enjoy some well-deserved time off.

"It feels really good to be home with my family again after such a long time out to sea.," said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Aaron Goldsmith of Ronald Reagan. "I'm also really stoked about being able to go to the beach and surf again whenever I want."

The deployment was the third for Ronald Reagan, the U.S. Navy's newest and largest aircraft carrier, which was commissioned in 2003. The squadrons of CVW-14 supported many missions during the six month deployment and include the "Redcocks" of VFA-22, "Fist of the Fleet" of VFA-25, "Stingers" of VFA-113, "Eagles" of VFA-115, "Black Eagles" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron 113, "Cougars" of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 139, "Black Knights" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 4 and the "Providers" of Carrier Logistics Support 30.

U.S. Fleet Forces Command Tailors Operational Support for Vigilant Shield 09

NORFOLK (NNS) -- U.S. Fleet Forces Command's (USFF) staff enhanced its capabilities to support global regional combatant commanders while simultaneously supporting U.S. federal disaster response efforts as it wrapped up its participation in Vigilant Shield 2009 (VS09) Nov. 12-18.

The focus of the North American Aerospace Defense Command- and U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM)-led exercise was on homeland defense and defense support to civil authorities. The exercise included scenarios to achieve exercise objectives within the maritime, aerospace, ballistic missile defense, cyber, consequence management, strategic communications and counter terrorism domains. A variety of interagency as well as international partners participated.

"Working closely with our partners in North America to support NORTHCOM's mission of homeland defense is essential to improve our responses to continental events," explained Rear Adm. Dennis FitzPatrick, director of USFF's Joint Operation Division.

"Vigilant Shield 09 was an ideal venue to continue increasing our international partnering efforts which will enable more seamless multinational cooperation as we constantly improve our plans and abilities to protect our citizens," FitzPatrick added.

VS09 ran concurrently with other exercises including U.S. Strategic Command's Global Lightning 09 and Bulwark Defender 09, Canada Command's Determined Dragon, California National Guard's Vigilant Guard and the State of California's Golden Guardian.

All of the exercises and participants focused on improving responses to crisis-type scenarios and enhancing interoperability between agencies, services and countries.

Another training objective for USFF's staff was to move toward obtaining full certification as a maritime operations center (MOC).

The MOC is designed to function in a global network with maritime operations centers linked to share information and develop a seamless common operating picture across theater boundaries.

"Operating in the MOC construct improves USFF's ability to operate more efficiently and effectively in the joint arena by using cross-functional organization to streamline information flow. This leverages organizational knowledge to speed and improve operational decisions," said Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, USFF's deputy chief of staff for Global Force Management and Joint Operations (N3/N5).

"We, as a staff, took significant strides towards enabling our commander to make more informed operational decisions while supporting regional combatant commanders. I'm sure we'll continue improving throughout our certification process, but this was a substantial step forward for our team," Buzby explained.

The next major step in USFF's MOC certification process is the pre-accreditation exercise of Ardent Sentry 09, another NORAD/NORTHCOM annually scheduled exercise slated for early next summer.

Milcom Blog Logs - 11/24/2008 - Oregon

I would like to welcome a new reporter to our Milcom Monitoring Post family of monitors - Ken Swaggart, W7KKE, in Lincoln, Oregon.

Ken shares this interesting intercept from the UK TISCOM net on 8980.0 kHz.

[00:08:14][FRQ 08980000][TO ][XSS ][TIS][280206][AL0] BER 30 SN 12
[23:58:20][FRQ 08980000][TO ][XSS ][TIS][280206 ][AL0] BER 28 SN 11

This was about 1600 PST, so I suspect it's coming from Europe. No voice traffic related to XSS copied.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Milcom Blog Logs - 11/24/2008 - Mid Atlantic

Here are some excellent intercepts sent to MMP by our Maryland Mid Atlantic reporter Ron Perron. Ron, thanks for sharing them with our MMP readers.

ACY-Atlantic City NJ
ADW- Andrews AFB MD
BW- Bay Watch-NAS PAX Area Advisory Control
GK- Giantkiller (FACSFAC, Virginia Capes)
MTN-Martin State Airport, Baltimore
NGTF-Northrop-Grumman Test Facility, Baltimore
NXX- Willow Grove JRB PA
PAX-NAS Patuxent River MD
ZDC- Washington ARTCC

1. VHF/UHF: ((Times are EST))

0754- Mad Dog 71flt (4 X F-22s, Langley)-check into W386 (249.8) then switch to W386 common (312.3) for ACM training.
0806- Peak 81 flt (F-22s, Langley) check into W386 (238.1).
0810- Shut Out (prob ABNCP or TACAMO)-calling Freshman (311.0)
0837- Mad Dog 75 flt (id as 2 X F-22s, Langley)-working in W386 (249.8)
1018- Pard 71 (Cessna 172, Civil Air Patrol)-patterns at PAX (121.0)
1020- Rambo 01 (sounds like)-check in w/GK (249.8)
1100- Titus 26 (C-130T, VR-53 ADW)- patterns at PAX (121.0). Also w/BW (354.8)
1147- Reach 360 (id as heavy)-wPAX appoach (120.05)
1255- Biker 81 flt (F-22s, Langley)-w/Norfolk TRACON (370.925). Also on W386 common (312.3)
1433- Tester 13 (T-38C # 15-8201, NTPS PAX)-w/BW (354.8)
1437- Axeman flt (id as 2 X A-10Cs, 104th FS MD ANG MTN)-w/BW (270.8).
1439- Tester 12 (T-38C # 15-8200, NTPS PAX)-w/BW 354.8) in acft maneuverablity tests.1442- Marine 374 (VC-37 #166374, MAW-4 ADW)-patterns at PAX (121.0 & 135.025)
1444- CG Sector Baltimre-on chnl 23A (157.15) w/CG 6595 (HH-65, CGAS ACY) who passes position as 3911N/7604W.
1537- CG Sector Baltimore-in radio checks (157.15) w/CG Station Wash DC (not heard).
1645- Salty Dog 537 (EA-6B, VX-23 PAX)-w/BW (270.8) getting clearance for flight to restricted area off NAS Ocaena for 1.5 hours then will RTB PAX.

U.S. missile-warning satellite fails

DSP 23 launch on a Delta IV Heavy, photo by Chris Bergin .

By Andrea Shalal-Esa

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Northrop Grumman Corp U.S. military satellite used to track enemy missiles stopped working in mid-September, underscoring the urgent need to keep a program for replacement satellites on track, a defense official and several analysts said on Monday.

Loren Thompson, at the Virginia-based Lexington Institute, said he had learned of the problem with the Defense Support Program (DSP) satellite from several sources, and it underscored the urgency of getting the new Space Based Infrared Satellite (SBIRS) system being developed by Lockheed Martin Corp into orbit.

Theresa Hitchens, who heads the Washington-based Center for Defense Information, said several amateur astronomers had reported that DSP 23 [USA 197-LVH], the last of the U.S. missile-warning satellites built by Northrop, and launched in November 2007, had stopped transmitting in mid-September.

The U.S. government has launched 23 DSP missile-warning satellites into space since 1970, and experts estimate that six to 10 are still working, about double the number needed to watch the entire Earth at once.

The satellites have generally lasted longer than initially expected, which makes it even more troubling that the newest of the DSP satellites would have developed trouble a year after its launch, said the official and the analysts.

Read the full copyrighted Reuters story at

Milcom Blog Facts
2007-054A 32287 DSP-23 Launch 11/11/2007 at 0150 UTC
DSP F23/IMEWS-23/USA 197
AFETR LC37B Delta 4H
This satellite is located in geostationary orbit at 11 degrees east.

Blog Editor Note: The failure of DSP-23 probably had a lot to do with this story I published on this blog earlier this month.

Stennis Returns from Underway Period Deployment-Ready

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elliott Fabrizio, USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs

Sailors and Marines work together to push an F/A-18C Hornet from the "Death Rattlers" of Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 323 into position on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Stennis is operating off the coast of Southern California after completing a joint task force exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kyle Steckler/ Released)

USS JOHN C. STENNIS (NNS) -- USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) returned to homeport in Bremerton, Wash. Nov. 21, deployment-ready after completing its final pre-deployment exercises.

During the underway period, Stennis united with the other components of its strike group, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21, to complete Composite Training Exercise (COMPTUEX) and Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX).

Both exercises focused on improving the strike group's ability to perform strike warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-air warfare, said Stennis Operations Officer Cmdr. Don Glatt.

"The first goal was to get through all these exercises safely," said Commander, Carrier Strike Group (GSG) 3 Rear. Adm. Mark Vance. "The second goal was to have combat-ready aircraft and ships and combat-ready crews. We've achieved all of those."

The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) completed the two-week COMPTUEX first to prepare the strike group's assets to work as a single unit.

"The air wing and the ship continued to fuse as a team, and we worked extremely well with the destroyer squadron," said Stennis Commanding Officer Capt. Joseph Kuzmick. "We all learned a great deal, and most of all, we learned to operate as a team."

Strike Force Training Pacific evaluators ran the strike group through a series unit-specific training exercises and tested the strike group's integrated operational capabilities with two unscripted scenarios called battle problems.

The strike group completed the objectives listed on the Navy Mission Essential Task List (NMETL) for carrier strike groups in COMPTUEX to demonstrate their operational readiness.

"This list consists of close to 1,000 individual tasks, and each task has a measure of performance and effectiveness associated with it," said Commander Strike Force Pacific Operations Officer Capt. George Fadok. "Throughout COMPTUEX the group's performance increased each and every day."

"As much as anything it is the confidence you get from doing this thing and seeing that you really can make it all come together," said Kuzmick. "We learned to push our equipment to the limits, and we learned how to deal with almost anything."

The strike group joined several Air Force squadrons and ships from Canada and Chile after COMPTUEX to simulate operating in a joint-force environment in JTFEX.

Commander, 3rd Fleet evaluated JCSCSG, on its ability to operate and communicate with multiple forces during the week-long, free-play scenario.

The exercises allowed JCSCSG adapt to the subtle differences between coalition forces and other military branches, so they can operate together in an actual conflict, said Glatt.

The unscripted simulations also allowed the strike group to practice reacting to realistic threats from each warfare area.

Each warfare commander got a chance to work through their tactics, techniques and procedures and got better each time, said Vance.

Stennis proved it is ready to deploy with its strike group by successfully completing the objectives in COMPTUEX and JTFEX.

"All the work we did out here over the summer, that was tailored ship's training. Each ship is basically out underway learning how to operate their own machine," said Kuzmick. "This underway was more about making us into a system of systems where we've got units working together to form a larger system, that being the deploying strike group."

JCSCSG is now certified as ready for major combat operations and prepared to deploy.

"Before, we had a whole lot of new people that haven't done this before, or we had people who haven't done it with this particular equipment," said Kuzmick. "We've all figured out how it's done now. We understand how we work, and we're ready to deploy."

Pre-deployment exercises give the Navy's strike groups operational experience so they are better prepared to safely and effectively further the goals of America's maritime strategy during their deployments.

Forward air controllers prepare for war

Airman 1st Class Michael Kelly assists Danish soldiers by relaying the location of a target for an F-15E Strike Eagle pilot during a close-air-support scenario for Exercise Allied Strike II Nov. at Grafenwoehr U.S. Army Garrison, Germany. The week-long joint terminal air controller-centric exercise involves 90 U.S. and coalition personnel with close-air-support assets from five U.S. and coalition air wings and is designed to prepare U.S. Air Forces Europe and NATO JTACs for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Airman Kelley is a radio operator maintainer and driver assigned to 1st Air Support Operations Squadron in Wiesbaden, Germany. (Defense Department photo/Master Sgt. Scott Wagers)

by Master Sgt. Scott Wagers, Defense Media Activity-Ramstein

HOHENFELS, Germany (AFNS) -- In the profession of arms where timeliness, precision and control are the rules of the day, sometimes a little confusion, disorder and mayhem are good things.

It's especially valuable as a training tool for joint terminal air controllers who hang their hat in hell's backyard to direct lethal firepower on unsuspecting hostiles. These combat Airmen and their allied partners must learn to perform highly demanding mental and physical tasks in spite of their surroundings. Doing so is necessary for survival.

With those training necessities in mind, 90 U.S. and coalition personnel, along with tanker and fighter aircraft from five allied air wings met in early November in southern Germany to conduct a week long JTAC-centric exercise known as Allied Strike II.

Modeled after its stateside counterpart Atlantic Strike, the exercise was designed to prepare U.S. Air Forces Europe and NATO combat controllers for war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Training iterations, staged out of Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr U.S. Army garrisons, covered urban warfare, convoy operations, live-weapons employment, and tactical communications.

Soldiers from the 173rd Air Brigade Combat Team, 191 Cavalry, were paired with the combat controllers during urban training to create realistic patrol scenarios experienced downrange.

Tech. Sgt. Robert Zachery, a JTAC instructor, led the exercise's urban warfare training. A veteran of five Iraq and Afghanistan deployments in his 12-year career, he said the latest tactics from the war provided accuracy to the urban scenarios that were designed to employ both physical and mental stress.

"Some people can think critically in an office environment with a cup of coffee, while others are good physically and can run real fast or move well on a football field. Trying to do both at the same time is tough for anyone," Sergeant Zachery said.

Sergeant Zachery, the chief JTAC instructor assigned to the 4th Air Support Operations Group, said he hoped the exercise participants were "overwhelmed."

"I want guys to think, 'Wow, I've got a lot of things going on.' The idea is to task saturate these guys here in peacetime so that when they go downrange and encounter the same situation, they're gonna say, 'I've done this before...this is easy,'" he said.

One of the first urban warfare scenarios paired two Belgian forward air controllers, assigned to 3rd Battalion Para, Air Base Regiment, with a small American Army fire team. Their mission was to find and eliminate a high-valued target hiding in the center of a mock village.

Many of the 191 Soldiers patrolling with the Belgians recently returned from a 15-month deployment to Afghanistan. There, they reported, the enemy hid in wide expanses of rural landscape -- void of urban settings.

Army Spc. Nicholas Ranstad, a sniper, explained why JTACs were a valuable asset during that deployment.

"When we came into contact, (the enemy) was usually five meters behind a ridgeline 1000's of meters out and we'd never see 'em," he said. "(JTACs) could cover more ground than us because they had control of the birds and the pilots could relay 'We've got bad guys at such and such grid' ... and the JTACs would arrange to light 'em up. We loved to have those guys."

As the U.S.-Belgian team entered the outskirts of the mock village, the faint roar of French Mirages could be heard overhead. The fire team leader quietly signaled an advance across an open field toward a building suspected of hostile activity. A decision he soon regretted. Before snipers could repost against a distant rock wall, a barrage of gunfire fire from an open window replaced the silence of a cool, foggy morning. A few of the Soldiers were "gunned down."

The Belgian forward air controllers, still alive, followed the surviving security detail into a narrow alley between two houses to regroup. Unbeknownst to all of them, a different window opened above and showered AK-47 "death" on all but two remaining Soldiers.

Staff Sgt. Jason Tonkinson, the assistant urban warfare instructor, postponed the scenario to remind the coalition combat controllers of their priorities as tactical communicators.

"Remember, don't get caught up in the fight before you establish communications with air and don't be afraid to let the ground forces commander know what your needs are because he's got other things to think about," Sergeant Tonkinson advised the students.

With the forward air controllers "dead," the two surviving Soldiers had no way to request close-air support from the French pilots circling overhead. It was a valuable lesson for Airmen and Soldiers alike.

Europe-based JTACs don't normally get to train with their Army brethren outside of the joint and coalition exercise, said Maj. Jason Mooney, the 4th ASOG director of operations.

"If we didn't have this exercise, JTACs would be making all these mistakes in non-training scenarios," he said.

Major Mooney added that combat controllers seldom receive live-fire training that is costly and hard to find in Europe. The exercise was done on a shoestring budget of $5,000.

The first four days of the training introduced new digital hardware that gives JTACs the ability to send strike coordinates straight to aircraft visual displays. The 8-pound, 8-inch screen laptops, called a "Military Ruggadized Tablet," also connects forward controllers to the Air Support Operations Center, displays the live video downlink from local aircraft, and tracks friendly forces.

The exercise was especially helpful for young tactical air control party members like Airman 1st Class Michael Kelly, just four months out of technical training.

When asked what was most stressful about the exercise, the 20-year old native of Paris, Texas, said, "Everything, because it's all new. It's getting me to where I can actually do my job in real life situations. It's the first real training I've had with bad guys and weapons."

He said he's motivated that each day, "is one day closer to deployment."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Russian warships approach Venezuela under US gaze

Russian warships approached Venezuela Monday for upcoming joint maneuvers -- Moscow's first military presence in the region since the Cold War -- as Washington closely monitored the situation.

Venezuelan defense officials said the ships, including the nuclear-powered cruiser Peter the Great and destroyer Admiral Chabankenko, would arrive on Tuesday.

The joint exercises were to coincide with a two-day visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Venezuela, the strongest US critic in the region.

The Russian warships were due to sail into La Guaira, near Caracas, and Puerto Cabello in northern Carabobo state.

The fleet includes five aircraft and several small ships, and Venezuela will provide eight aircraft and 11 ships, Gonzalez said Monday, adding that 1,150 Russian forces and 600 Venezuelans would take part in the exercises.

You can read the rest of the copyrighted AFP story at

Essex Arrives in Hong Kong

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Greg Johnson

HONG KONG (NNS) -- The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) arrived in Hong Kong Nov. 22 for a scheduled port visit.

Throughout the port visit, Essex Sailors will have an opportunity to experience one the world's largest and most culturally diverse cities.

"We're really looking forward to visiting Hong Kong -- one of the best liberty ports in the world. With tours, shopping and cultural events, Sailors never run out of things to see and do" said Capt. Brent Canady, Essex' commanding officer. "Essex Sailors are always anxious to visit this historically rich and internationally unique city. This is a favorite liberty port for Sailors."

The visit comes at the conclusion of a tough, 11-day stretch, during which Essex Sailors participated in ANNUALEX 20G, a bilateral exercise conducted annually with Japan, and a Unit Level Training Assessment-Certification (ULTRA-C).

"Our Sailors have really put forth a remarkable effort throughout the past two weeks," said Essex Command Master Chief David Bentley. "This port visit should be a well-deserved opportunity to relax."

For many Essex Sailors, such as Damage Controlman Fireman Kevin Martinez, of Bronx, N.Y., this will be their first trip to Hong Kong.

"I'm pretty excited about experiencing the culture," said Martinez. "I've also heard that shopping in Hong Kong is awesome. I'm hoping to check out some sneakers and other things that you can't find back in the States."

The port visit will also serve as an opportunity for many Essex Sailors to return to one of their favorite liberty ports.

"I was in Hong Kong last year, and I'm definitely looking forward to going back," said Seaman Dannielle Walls, of San Diego. "There are so many things you can find in Hong Kong that you just can't get anywhere else. I can't wait to relax and do a lot of shopping."

Essex Sailors will also have an opportunity to experience Hong Kong's rich culture through a variety of tours sponsored by the ship's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department. MWR will offer 20 tours in all, featuring everything from metropolitan shopping sprees to countryside excursions to mainland China.

No matter what kind of experience they're looking for, Essex Sailors can probably find it in Hong Kong, said Martinez.

"I think Hong Kong will turn out to be a really unique place," he said. "If you like the city, it doesn't get much better than this, but if you're looking to get away from that, and check out some of the landscape and ancient architecture, you can definitely do that too."

Essex is the lead ship of the only forward-deployed U.S. Expeditionary Strike Group and serves as the flagship for Commander Task Force 76, the Navy's forward-deployed amphibious force commander. CTF 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with a detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

GW Strike Group Participates in Bilateral Exercise with Japanese Counterparts

The aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) steams in formation with Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ships during the bilateral exercise ANNUALEX. ANNUALEX is a yearly exercise with the U.S. Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force to improve working relations between the two navies. (U.S. Navy Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Ty Swartz/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Barry Hirayama, USS George Washington Public Affairs

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- The George Washington Carrier Strike Group completed its first bilateral exercise with the Japan Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces (JMSDF and JASDF) Nov. 19.

ANNUALEX 20G is the 20th annual exercise of its kind but the first for USS George Washington (CVN 73), which relieved USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) this summer as the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier.

The exercise is designed to enhance the capabilities of both naval forces, for continued success in coordinated and bilateral operations in the defense of Japan.

"ANNUALEX was an outstanding introduction for GW to the top-level professionalism and seamanship of the JMSDF," said GW's Operations Officer, Cmdr. Anthony Calandra. "High-quality, mutually-beneficial training resulted from our collaboration throughout the exercise."

ANNUALEX focuses on enhancing military-to-military relationships, improving command and control, and conducting coordinated air, undersea and surface warfare.

"We are planning together, presenting the plan together, and we are standing watches together," said Lt. Roger Leech, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 air operations officer.

"Being in the U.S. 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility, knowing we can turn to our allies to help them or for them to help us, is reassuring. We know we can work together and accomplish the mission," said Operations Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) C. Jones, a DESRON 15 Sailor who stood watches side-by-side with her Japanese counterparts.

While JMSDF Sailors integrated into many command and control spaces, Jones has not noticed any difficulties when it comes to effective communication.

"They add their expertise in many areas and their Japanese language skills help a lot when coordinating with other Japanese ships operating with the U.S. Navy," said Jones.

"It is very good to have the perspective they bring and how we can learn from each other during this exercise," added Leech. "Our [JMSDF] counterparts' planning has been very thorough."

U.S. Navy units taking part in the exercise with Japan Maritime Self Defense Force units included elements operating from Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Fleet Activities Sasebo and Naval Air Facility Atsugi.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Expeditionary Security Sailors Train to Save Lives, Prepare for Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Dagendesh, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Det. Northwest

EVERETT, Wash. (NNS) -- Sailors from Maritime Expeditionary Security Group (MESG) 1, who are preparating to mobilize for deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, conducted tactical combat casualty care (TCCC) training aboard Patrol Boats 201 and 202 at Naval Station Everett Nov. 14.

MESG 1's Maritime Expeditionary Boat Det. (MAREXBOATDET) 922 is trained to prevent terrorist, criminal or hostile acts in a maritime environment. TCCC is a three-day course for the Sailors assigned to the boat detachment, which is vital for the preservation of lives on the battle front.

"What we are teaching these Sailors is some simple, basic skills so that they can recognize and assess situations in a mass casualty so that that they are able to do the initial lifesaving skills to stop massive bleeding, assess their breathing and do what they can to stop loss of life," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (FMF) Richard Arnett, TCCC instructor. "So we have just given them good tools besides basic first aid that can help them ... where the victim has received massive trauma."

The underlying significance of the training is to reduce preventable combat death while giving initial care for a wounded combatant. According to Lt. Christopher Burns, TCCC is becoming the ideal method for reaching out and preserving lives.

"Today, TCCC is quickly becoming the standard of care for the tactical management of combat casualties within the Department of Defense and is the sole standard of care dually endorsed by both the American College of Surgeons and the National Association of EMTs for casualty management in tactical environments."

Burns noted that TCCC is just one of the courses that the boat detachment had to complete in preparation for their deployment to the Middle East.

"The Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery officially made TCCC the Navy's standard of care on the battlefield, making initial care for the wounded combatant, regardless of service affiliation, consistent across the board in all of the military services."

TCCC is the final stage of MAREXBOATDET 922's training.

"We ran a drill [that involved] all the skills we taught them over the past few days, and they [had to] bring them together," said Arnett. "That way the students have to take everything they learned and use them at once to make it happen."

"In my prior three deployments, I have never seen a command receive this quality and type of medical training," said Burns. "Thanks to (Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman) Karl Matous and his outstanding training team this will greatly increase our medical response readiness and potentially save Sailors' lives."

MESG 1 is part of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command.

USS Greeneville Undocks One Week Early

KITTERY, Maine (NNS) -- Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine, successfully undocked USS Greeneville (SSN 772) one week early on Nov. 14 by returning to "back-to-basics" work practices.

"Back to basics", one of the key focus areas of Naval Sea Systems Commander, Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy, is about eliminating bottlenecks and optimizing the workday to improve shipyard processes with the goal of completing quality availabilities on time and on cost.

During his facility visit in October, McCoy left no doubt in the minds of the shipyard workforce about his passion to "sustain today's fleet efficiently and effectively."

"It is absolutely critical that we meet this commitment," McCoy stated. "Our Navy and our nation need these submarines back at sea, and I'm convinced that the men and women of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are up to accomplishing the task."

Greeneville is presently undergoing a scheduled 15-month depot modernization period at the shipyard.

Rallying around Greeneville's project team and the ship's crew, the entire workforce took the challenge and got "back to basics."

"It was a great effort by the whole shipyard team," said Capt. Robert Mazzone, shipyard commander. "I am extremely proud and humbled to be working with such a professional group of men and women."

"The project team charged forward, closing out all external tanks and persevered through some challenging obstacles to take this ship one step closer to returning to the front line," remarked Capt. Kurt Crake, operations officer.

"Sustaining today's fleet is essential in achieving a 313-ship Navy. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is a critical component in that effort, and undocking Greeneville a week early significantly contributes to the shipyard's target to return the ship to the fleet on schedule in May 2009," said McCoy.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is one of NAVSEA's four public shipyards which play a major role in maintaining America's fleet and provide wartime surge capability to keep the nation's ships ready for combat.

George Washington Participates in ANNUALEX

U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships separate from one another after completing a 20-ship formation surrounding the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) at the conclusion of the bilateral exercise ANNUALEX. ANNUALEX is a yearly exercise with the U.S. Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force to improve working relations between the two navies. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ian Schoeneberg)

Kirtland officials accelerate space-based program testing

by Katherine C. Gandara, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Public Affairs chief

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) -- Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center officials here successfully tested the Space-Based Infrared System Highly Elliptical Orbit payload and operations center and accelerated operational acceptance by six weeks.

SBIRS is a consolidated system intended to meet United States infrared space surveillance needs through the first two to three decades of the 21st century.

The SBIRS program addresses critical warfighter needs in the areas of missile warning, missile defense battlespace awareness, and technical intelligence.

"During a recent operational utility evaluation, the key enabler to this unprecedented success for our SBIRS test team was AFOTEC's Space Test Initiative, which leveraged both integrated developmental and operational testing coupled with agile reporting," said Col. Regis Baldauff, the AFOTEC Det. 4 commander.

"We've been applying a Ford testing (aircraft) model to a Toyota (space) production model and it just doesn't fit," said Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Sargeant, the AFOTEC commander in a July Space Summit at Kirtland Air Force Base. "We need to find a better way to conduct space operational test and evaluation in order to provide better decision quality data to the space acquisition and operational decision-makers. We are rapidly moving away from a process that looks like 'stan eval' after launch or fielding, to early and continuous involvement throughout the development and fielding of a new space capability."

During test execution, AFOTEC officials accelerated the Highly Elliptical Orbit schedule by leveraging Lockheed Martin planned developmental testing to meet operational testing objectives. AFOTEC officials also leveraged system trial period operations to further execute and report operational test requirements. Overall, these efforts enabled Highly Elliptical Orbit data to the warfighter approximately six weeks earlier than originally planned. By using agile reporting, AFOTEC officials informed the Air Force Space Command Highly Elliptical Orbit operational acceptance decision and enabled a U.S. Strategic Command system certification eight weeks early.

AFOTEC officials are preparing for continued testing of a second Highly Elliptical Orbit payload, known as HEO-2. Although HEO-2 was not originally planned for operational testing, AFSPC officials are capitalizing on the HEO-1 momentum created by AFOTEC's new approach and is accelerating HEO-2 transition into the SBIRS constellation. Subsequent AFOTEC testing and reporting in the light of the Space Test Initiative will further accelerate HEO architecture operational acceptance and warfighter capabilities.

"AFOTEC's Space Test Initiative is a watershed event for current and future testing of Department of Defense space systems," General Sargeant said. "This approach enables better space warfighting systems acquisition through early, continuous integrated testing to ensure the system addresses the mission capability gap and enables early program decisions when changes are less costly."

"There are many collaborators involved in the Space Test Initiative process," Colonel Baldauff said. "This will be necessary for the future of parallel, combined DT/OT test events. The resounding success of the SBIRS HEO-1 Operational Utility Evaluation involved significant contributions from AFOTEC's Detachment 4 Operating Location at Buckley AFB, Colo., the SBIRS System Wing, and the Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman development contractors."

AFOTEC is the Air Force independent test agency responsible for testing, under operationally realistic conditions, new systems being developed for Air Force and multi-service use.

Milcom Blog Logs - 11/22/2008 - Mid Atlantic

Here are some excellent intercepts sent to MMP by our Maryland Mid Atlantic reporter Ron Perron. Ron, thanks for sharing them with our MMP readers.

ACY-Atlantic City NJ
ADW- Andrews AFB MD
BW- Bay Watch-NAS PAX Area Advisory Control
GK- Giantkiller (FACSFAC, Virginia Capes)
MTN-Martin State Airport, Baltimore
NGTF-Northrop-Grumman Test Facility, Baltimore
NXX- Willow Grove JRB PA
PAX-NAS Patuxent River MD
ZDC- Washington ARTCC

1. VHF/UHF: ((Times are EST))

1120- Roman 11 (F-18C VFA-106, NAS OCEANA VA)-w/PAX approach (281.8) for
1125- Team 60 & 61 (Team 60=KC-10A, 85-0030 & TEAM 61 = KC-10A, 79-1949,
305th AMW McGuire NJ)-on AAR freq (288.0) in AAR positioning & hook-up
training in W107/W108 areas. Also checking into
W107/W108 (255.0). Thanks to Tin Ear for acft #s.

2. HF: ((Times UTC, Freqs KHz))

07361.5 STPOPS (MN ArNG, St. Paul, MN): 2235 USB/ALE sounding.
07361.5 T832AA (832nd Medical Company (Air Ambulance), WI ArNGt, West Bend, WI): 2250 USB/ALE sounding.

08171.5 A3L (unid US Army entity): 1905 USB/ALE sounding.
08171.5 H1M (unid US Army entity): 2016 USB/ALE sounding.

08181.5 JFHQME (Joint Force Hqs, ME ArNG, Camp Keyes, Augusta ME): 1802 USB/ALE sounding.

09025.0 ADW (Andrews AFB MD): 1413 USB/ALE calling 210193 (C-17, Tail Number 01-0193 437th AMW Charleston AFB SC).

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Coalition force Reaper unit deploys to Joint Base Balad

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq (AFNS) -- A coalition force comprising experts from the U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force deployed here recently to sustain operations for the world's most lethal unmanned aircraft system.

An MQ-9 Reaper aircraft maintenance unit, attached to the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance and Attack Squadron, melds airframe maintenance expertise with satellite communications system technical capability and brings American and British Airmen together to accomplish the Reaper's persistent strike mission, said Capt. Antonio Camacho, the Reaper AMU officer in charge.

"It's a very unique program," said Captain Camacho, whose unit is deployed from the 432nd Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. "Some people see our system as remote control, but it's not."

The Reaper AMU took over maintaining the UAS from General Atomics, which produces the Reaper for the U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force. Battlespace Flight Services maintains MQ-1 Predators stationed at Joint Base Balad.

Reaper and Predator systems consist of four main components: the aircraft, the satellite uplink, the local ground control station and the remote ground control station at Creech AFB, said Royal Air Force Chief Technician Gary Smith, NCO in charge of the Reaper AMU.

"All that is one system, and all of the system has to work to enable the aircraft to take off," said RAF Chief Technician Smith, a native of Lincoln, England, who is deployed from Creech. "Unlike an F-16 (Fighting Falcon) AMU, which will look after just the aircraft, we look after the whole system. We become system managers rather than aircraft managers: it's a worldwide system, and all of those pieces have to work."

The major differences between the Reaper and Predator systems lie in the airframe, said Captain Camacho, a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Reaper flies faster and higher than the Predator and carries more than twice as much ordnance. However, the background systems that support the aircraft are the same. Staff Sgt. Kevin Wulf, a communications maintenance technician with the Reaper AMU, is responsible for those background systems.

"I work on everything outside of the aircraft: pilot and sensor operation, everything that controls the aircraft and all the equipment that commands it -- both the line-of-sight antenna link and the satellite communications link," said Sergeant Wulf, a native of Spokane, Wash.

UAS pilots and sensor operators use both commercial satellite systems and military satellites such as the Air Force's Wideband Global SATCOM system to control Reapers and Predators, Sergeant Wulf said. Maintaining that link means overcoming environmental challenges.

"Being out in the desert, we get a lot of dust in the equipment, which can cause critical systems to fail," he said.

Overall, however, the experience has proven helpful both for American Airmen and their British counterparts.

"Our engineers are embedded in the AMU," said RAF Chief Technician Smith, who accepted a one-year extension of his tour at Creech so he could help the AMU deploy here. "There's no difference -- it's not, 'I'm Royal Air Force, he's U.S. Air Force.' We're totally embedded in the unit. Because of that, we pass ideas to one another, and I think the unit's far better for it."

The sharing of ideas has improved maintenance operations in general, Captain Camacho said.

"It provides a different perspective," he said. "It's like going into a brand-new unit: you see everything differently."

The blend of American and British Airmen has provided some unintended benefits as well, RAF Chief Technician Smith said.

"They watch our soccer, and we watch their American football," he said. "And I've got them drinking tea. How many tea bags have we gone through since we've been here? Hundreds -- we have to have a constant resupply of them. The cultural differences have melded together, and we've got a kind of unique culture within our unit because of the mixture."

Milcom Blog Logs - 11/21/2008 - Mid Atlantic

Here are some excellent intercepts sent to MMP by our Maryland Mid Atlantic reporter Ron Perron. Ron, thanks for sharing them with our MMP readers.

ACY-Atlantic City NJ
ADW- Andrews AFB MD
BW- Bay Watch-NAS PAX Area Advisory Control
GK- Giantkiller (FACSFAC, Virginia Capes)
MTN-Martin State Airport, Baltimore
NGTF-Northrop-Grumman Test Facility, Baltimore
NXX- Willow Grove JRB PA
PAX-NAS Patuxent River MD
ZDC- Washington ARTCC

1. VHF/UHF: ((Times are EST))

0823- Sonic 81flt (F-22s, Langley)-exit W386 (249.8) RTB Langley.
0824- Flash 71 flt (F-22s, Langley)-exit W386 (249.8) RTB Langley.
0837- Kang 31 flt (sounds like-F-22s, Langley)-check in w/ZDC (256.8) then check into W386 (249.8). Switch to W386 common (312.3) ident as 36 prime.
0845- Navy 7A326 (C-12B, Base Flt PAX)-land at PAX (120.05 & 123.7)
0851- Wild 1 flt (F-16s, 121st FS DC ANG, ADW)-check into W107 (255.0)
0858- Scary 1 flt (F-16s, 121st FS DC ANG, ADW)-check into W107 (255.0)
0900- Bully 1 flt (F-16s, 121st FS DC ANG, ADW)-check in w/BW (354.8) for some PARs at PAX then RTB ADW.
0940- Jake 51 flt (F-22s, Langley)-check into W386 (249.8) then switch to W386 common (312.3) for ACM training.
0941- Devo flt (F-22s, Langley)-on W386 common (312.3)
0942- CG Station Curtis Bay-w/CG 25585 (Defender Class Response Boat-Small) and USCGC Resolute (WMEC-623, St Petersburg FL). CG 25585 was escorting Resolute out of the CG yard and wished Resolute a safe trip back to Florida.
0945- Pack 41 (KC-135R 133rd ARS, NH ANG Pease ANGB NH)-on AR777 primary (274.45) coordintating rendezvous for AAR training at FL190-200 w/Royal 50 (C-17A, 436th AMW DOV).
0959- T-Bolt 41 flt (F-22s, 149th FS VA ANG Langley)-on W386 (312.3) in ACM training w/Jake & Devo flts. T-Bolts flew afternoon sortie in the 1200 hour.
1006- CG 25585-w/USCGC Elm (WLB-204, Atlantic Beach NC) on chnl 23A (157.15)
1015- N168W (T-39 Sabreliner, NGTF)-check in w/BW (270-.8) requesting use of R4006 North for 1.5 hours.
1017- Salty Dog 121 (F-18F # 166449)-w/BW (270.8) advised of N168W in area.
1243- Ugly 1 flt (2 X A-10s, 103rd FS PA ANG NXX)-w/BW (270.8) trying to get some unscheduled time in R4006.
1434- CG Sector Baltimore- w/CG 6517 (HH-65C, CGAS ACY) w/position report 3859N/7627W. At 1447 position is 3900N/7616W.
1438- Salty Dog 422 (id as flt of two- SD 422 is F-18D # 163969, VX-23 PAX)-check in w/ZDC (327.8) at FL280.
1452- Bicep 31 flt (F-16s, 119th FS NJ ANG ACY)-on W386 common (312.3).

2. HF: ((Times UTC, Freqs KHz))

07450.0 REBOM1 (PEMEX Rebombeo platform): 0143 USB/ALE sounding.
07450.0 AKALL1 (PEMEX AKAL field platform L1): 0153 USB/ALE sounding.
07450.0 AKALN2 (PEMEX AKAL field platform N2): 0313 USB/ALE sounding.

07527.0 F40 (USCG HU-25 # 2140 CGAS Cape Cod): 1344 USB/ALE sounding.
07527.0 OPB (OPBAT Service Center, Nassau, Bahamas): 1400 USB/ALE calling J12 (USCG MH-60J #6012 CGAS Clearwater)
07527.0 TSC (US Customs National Law Enforcement Communications Center -- Technical Service Center, Orlando, FL): 1403 USB/ALE calling F29 (USCG HU-25 #2129 CGAS Cape Cod)
07527.0 J14 (USCG MH-60J #6014 CGAS Elizabeth City): 1404 USB/ALE sounding. Also on 13907.0 USB

08912.0 IKL (USCGC TAMPA, WMEC 902, Portsmouth VA): 0830 USB/ALE sounding. Also sounding on 13907.0 USB
08912.0 MT4 (unid entity): 1427 USB/ALE sounding.
08912.0 D31 (US Customs P-3B "Slick" #N431SK/BuNo 153431, Jacksonville AMB, FL): 1438 USB/ALE sounding. Also on 11494.0 & 15867.0 USB
08912.0 LNT (Camslant Chesapeake): 1442 USB/ALE calling J14.

08992.0 Andrews: 2019 USB w/27-character EAM (4Q6CAI).

09025.0 UKE305 (Royal Air Force:E3D AWACS Aircraft ZH105, RAF Waddington): 2210 USB/ALE sounding.

11175.0 Offutt: 1954 USB w/Lobo 573 (C-9B VMR-1, MCAS Cherry Point, NC-not heard) w/request for pp to DSN 867-XXXX. Lobo 573 reports they are 45 mins from Alburqerque and will arrive in Sante Fe at 0000Z.
11175.0 240069 (C-17, Tail Number 94-0069): 2155 USB/ALE calling ADW (Andrews AFB MD). Also noted on 09025.0 USB.

11494.0 LNT: 1511 USB/ALE calling F29.
11494.0 CNT (US Customs AMOC Central Regional Communications Node): 1516 USB/ALE calling D14 (US Customs P-3A “Slick” #N18314/BuNo 150314, Corpus Christi AMB, TX).

13907.0 LNT: 1529 USB/ALE calling J03 (USCG MH-60J #6003 CGAS Elizabeth City).
13907.0 EST (US Customs AMOC Eastern Regional Communications Node): 1537 USB/ALE calling D31.
13907.0 I1L (US Customs CESSNA 550 #N6001L): 1556 USB/ALE sounding. Also sounding on 15867.0 USB
13907.0 I63 (US Customs CESSNA 550 #N2663Y): 1606 USB/ALE sounding.
13907.0 501 (USCG HC-130H #1501, CGAS Clearwater): 1611 USB/ALE sounding. Also sounding on 11494.0 USB
13907.0 D44 (US Customs P-3 AEW&C #N144CS/BuNo 153446, Corpus Christi AMB, TX): 1613 USB/ALE sounding. Also sounding on 15867.0 USB
13907.0 701 (USCG HC-130H #1701, CGAS Clearwater): 1617 USB/ALE sounding.
13907.0 J39 (USCG MH-60J #6039 CGAS Clearwater): 1613 USB/ALE sounding.
13907.0 LN T: 1632 USB/ALE calling J10 (USCG MH-60J #6010 CGAS Clearwater).
13907.0 N02 (USCG HC-144A #2302 ATC Mobile): 1636 USB/ALE sounding.

18594.0 LGV (USCGC LEGARE, WMEC 912, Portsmouth, VA): 1706 USB/ALE sounding.
18594.0 D14 (US Customs P-3A “Slick” #N18314/BuNo 150314, Corpus Christi AMB, TX): 1707 USB/ALE sounding.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Breaking News - Grand Forks AFB to get HF-GCS Comm Site Next Year

Milcom Monitoring Post Exclusive (copyright © 2008 by Teak Publishing)

Blog editor note: This blog entry marks a very important event in the history of the HF-GCS radio network for radio monitors. Some time next year, as you around the primary HF-GCS freqs, you may hear Grand Forks AFB up testing or even assume the role of HF-GCS NCS, similiar to what Offutt and McClellan does now. Here is the official story from the USAF.

The 130-person 319th Communications Squadron at Grand Forks AFB is busy preparing the base for a new critical project for the entire Air Force.

The High Frequency Global Communications System is a highly-automated communications system that links Air Force command and control aircraft to other airborne and ground-based command nodes via high frequency communications around the globe.

Currently, HFGCS is operated by communications technicians at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C. Last year, Air Mobility Command officials selected Grand Forks AFB to take on responsibilities as the system's alternate control station.

The "new mission will task us with the responsibility of supporting the airborne communications system used by the White House, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other major commands around the globe," said Lt. Col. Sam Bass, the 319th Communication Squadron commander.

To prepare for this mission, base officials started a sizable facility renovation project to house the sophisticated support computers and will soon have dozens of high-speed communications circuits installed.

"The new circuits will ensure reliable connectivity to antenna locations around the world to provide secure data and voice connections to command and control aircraft." said Staff Sgt. Russell Mullens of the 319th CS Plans and Resources Flight.

When the alternate control station becomes operational in 2009, Grand Forks AFB communicators will ensure that national leadership flying around the world will be able to communicate securely.

Missile Defense Test Failure

U.S. and Japanese military officials are trying to determine what went wrong during a joint missile defense test November 19 off the Hawaiian Islands.

Navy Celebrates F/A-18 Anniversary

A specially-painted F/A-18C Hornet strike fighter from Fleet Readiness Center Southwest is flown over Naval Air Station North Island and the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) on November 18,2008, by Cmdr. Craig Reiner to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the first Northrop Grumman F/A-18 flight. The aircraft is painted in the original Northrop Grumman paint scheme of the first Northrop Grumman F/A-18 Hornet. U.S. Navy Photo (Released)

Stennis Ready for Deployment After Successful Training with Coalition, Joint Partners

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Elliott J. Fabrizio, USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs

Three F/A-18 strike fighters from various squadrons are secured on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) before morning flight operations. Stennis and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 are part of John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group conducting a joint task force exercise off the coast of Southern California. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Walter M. Wayman/Released)

The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) successfully completed Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) off the coast of Southern California Nov. 16.

The exercise tested JCSCSG's three main assets -- USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21 -- on their abilities to perform strike warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-air warfare in a joint-forces environment.

Commander, 3rd Fleet, assisted by Strike Force Training Pacific, evaluated the strike group's performance.

"We're testing their joint interoperability and execution inside of a joint operational area," said Commander, 3rd Fleet Air Training Officer Cmdr. Vic Weber. "Ultimately, we give them a scenario, and they react as best they can. They start out in normal operations, with the peacetime rules of engagement in effect, and it gradually ramps up into a full-blown battle."

Several Air Force squadrons and ships from Canada and Chile were injected into the exercise to create a joint environment, said Weber.

"Completing JTFEX prepares us to operate with other forces," said Commander, Carrier Strike Group 3 Rear Adm. Mark Vance. "Anytime we go into combat, we would go in as a coalition force vice just a U.S. Navy force."

Through the JTFEX evolutions, participating forces train to close the seams between services and between nations.

"When we work with either coalition forces or sister services, they have their own nuances," said Stennis Operations Officer Cmdr. Don Glatt. "We do things a little differently in each service, and these exercises allow us to come together and learn those differences and figure out how we're going to work through those differences in an actual conflict."

Communications are a main focus during the exercise.

"We're able to resolve [communcations] issues during JTFEX prior to deployment," said HMCS Winnipeg Commanding Officer Canadian Navy Cmdr. Craig Baines. "We want to be integrated, interoperable and indistinguishable."

The ability of the strike group to work together as a cohesive unit was put to the test when evaluators use unscripted simulations to present the strike group with realistic threats from each warfare area.

"Each of my warfare commanders got a chance to work through their tactics, techniques and procedures, and they got better each time we got a chance to exercise those," said Vance.

In a coalition environment, it's important to understand how each unit's actions effect the whole effort.

"Each of us has a little piece of the big picture, and it's very important that we all feed that into a central module so everyone can see the big picture," said Glatt. "That way, we can fight the fight and win."

"We all learned a great deal, and most of all we learned to operate as a team," said Stennis Commanding Officer Capt. Joseph Kuzmick. "As much as anything else, you get confidence from doing this and seeing that you really can make it all come together. We learned to push our equipment to the limits, and we learned how to deal with almost anything."

JTFEX is the last pre-deployment exercise the JCSCSG had to complete before deployment. With JTFEX complete, the strike group is certified as ready for major combat operations, fully prepared to deploy in support of America's Maritime Strategy.

Ohio Guard Closes Communications Gap in Afghanistan

By Army Spc. Kimberly Johnson, Special to American Forces Press Service

About 40 soldiers from the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team prepare for an upcoming mission to Afghanistan to establish critical communications assets. The Ohio National Guard brigade, nearing the end of a yearlong tour, is sending about 40 signal soldiers into Afghanistan to establish critical communications assets. (U.S. Army photo)

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait, Nov. 20, 2008 - The Ohio Army National Guard's 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is making its presence felt in three key areas of Central Command: Kuwait, Iraq and now in Afghanistan.

About 40 soldiers from the brigade have been called in to set up Joint Node Network communications in Afghanistan.

"It's a very important, high-priority mission," Army Col. Richard T. Curry, the brigade commander, said. "The soldiers who were selected were selected because of their unique skill set and the training they have accomplished over the last year."

Afghanistan's current infrastructure cannot support consistent, reliable communications. Weather and other environmental issues also are wreaking havoc with the systems now in use.

"Right now, they are not able to call in medical support the way we do in other theaters," Curry said. "There is a communications gap up there. The biggest part of what we will be able to do is fill in that gap, and by doing that, I absolutely believe we will be able to save lives in that theater of operations."

The JNN system will provide the infrastructure for the entire Afghanistan theater with regular and secure Internet, secure phones and voice teleconferencing capabilities, which have not been available in Afghanistan.

"It comes down to the Army has a need. When there's a need, our soldiers answer," Army Capt. Walter Work, Task Force Dragon Blade commander, said. "We were called to serve and help out our fellow soldiers who are hurting as far as communication assets go."

During three months of mobilization training at Fort Hood, Texas, the signal soldiers of the 37th exceeded the expectations of their instructors.

"We have proven ourselves," Work said. "The soldiers we selected to go are the best of the best. We are honored and definitely taking our 'A' team to Afghanistan."

USS Albany Returns from Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Xander Gamble, Commander, Submarine Force Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- The Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Albany (SSN 753) returned to Naval Station Norfolk Nov. 18 following a seven-month deployment in support of the maritime strategy.

Commanded by Cmdr. Thad Nisbett, Albany initially left Norfolk April 25, on a regularly scheduled deployment in support of the USS Nassau (LHA 4) Expeditionary Strike Group.

Among the family members celebrating the homecoming were Dan and Peggy Demorett who came to see their son, Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Alan Demorett, of Naples, Fla., return.

"We're going to celebrate his 21st birthday, which happened while he was underway," said Peggy.

"He called us from Norway on his birthday," said Mr. Demorett.

The family members of the crew picked up hobbies to keep themselves occupied while their loved ones were at sea.

"I started swimming, working out, and I started learning to play the violin," said Eugenie Gorham, of Lake Charles, La., who is engaged to Chief Electronics Technician Jordan Kahle. "The hardest part is not having my best friend to talk to."

Despite their busy operating schedule, the Albany crew was able to visit Souda Bay, Crete; Augusta Bay, Italy; Marseillles, France; Haakonsvern, Norway; Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

"Being able to see foreign ports and seeing foreign cultures [is] just an eye opener," said Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Thadeus Dalusong, of Los Angeles.

Dalusong enjoyed Sicily because of the architecture.

"It reminds me of old Europe," he said.

Fast-attack submarines like Albany have multifaceted missions. They use their stealth, persistence, agility and firepower to deploy and support special force operations, disrupt and destroy an adversary's military and economic operations at sea, provide early strike from close proximity and ensure undersea superiority.

Albany is 360 feet long, displaces 6,900 tons of water, and can travel in excess of 25 knots when submerged.

Milcom Blog Logs - 11/20/2008 - Central Florida

Here are some Milcom Blog logs from Mr. Anonymous in Central Florida received on 11/20/2008.

Recorded logs 1000 -2300 EST

118.125 Avon Park Range
MAR (or MARL) 03 to land Rwy 05

120.950 SEALORD N
SENTRY 60, to AW003, then RTB Tinker
_______ 70, to area 7 Yankee
Unid, RTB to Sanford
(spelled possible type, Bravo Echo 9 Lima slash India)
SOLEX 01, to AW003

126.150 Avon Park Range Control
MAR 03, 23 miles north, 6,000'
MAR 03 "inbound for Zulu, tact initial to Rwy 05"

134.650 Pinecastle Range Control
Unid to work R-2910 and R-2907

225.350 Pinecastle Targets (R-2910)
JOKER 11-14


234.800 FL ANG 125th FW
DRAGNET with FANG, monitor for Mickey (Have Quick TOD burst followed)
FANG air-air; ACM

253.700 FL ANG 125th FW

250.700 (busy air-air)
"have the GYPSY's at 19,000"
Mention 251.500, CONDOR Uniform Green, 292.200 Red front (front radio)
Mention SPOOKY will be 9-12 thousand
Mention Button 19 aft, Button 1 front

251.500 Avon Park Range - CONDOR
CANYON 21 with CONDOR, into secure

257.100 Avon Park Range
Unid, "off Red, up Avon"
GYPSY 18 air-air
GYPSY 12, off Tac to Avon Ops

257.700 Miami Center - Avon Park

"calling us on 73.2" and mention of BULLDOG
"meet on 261.500"


267.500 SEALORD S
JOKER 11 flight of 4 from Oceana

283.700 MacDill AFB Deployed Unit Complex Ops
106 10 min out
104, 105 10 min out
Unid, no contact on Fox Mike

284.500 SEALORD N
SOLEX 01, will be back up to DRAGNET
DRAGNET will be working FANG 1-4, SNAKE 1-4, BLADE 1-3
(passed squawk codes for flights)

285.725 Avon Park S Tac Range
GYPSY 13-16
TRON 55 (probable simulated EA-6B)
ECHO 17 (simulated J-Tac)

289.200 Pinecastle Range Control
JOKER 11 flight

292.200 Avon Park Range Control
GYPSY 12 RTB, then 15 and 16
GYPSY 13-14

293.600 NORAD

Unid air-air

303.100 AWACS

CRAB 57, ETA, power cart, fuel, park at DCU
RCH 541
PUMA 45, call Little Rock AFB, DSN 731-7518

314.200 FL ANG 125th FW
DRAGNET, backup freq 343.000; 234.800 for Have Quick
SNAKE flight

343.400 Oceana NAS VFA-34
OMEGA 70 AAR boom

343.500 Jax NAS Metro
IMAGE 01, request WX for xxIP, KVPS, KWRB
SOLEX 01, request landing WX for KWRB

372.200 PTD
DUCE 77, need Blue 1 transportation

385.300 Jax NAS W-157 Discrete
RATTLER (all in ACM)

Super Tanker Attacked in Arabian Sea

The Liberian-flagged oil tanker MV Sirius Star is at anchor Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008 off the coast of Somalia. The Saudi-owned very large crude carrier was hijacked by Somali pirates Nov. 15 about 450 nautical miles off the coast of Kenya and forced to proceed to anchorage near Harardhere, Somalia. U.S. Navy photo by Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 2nd Class William S. Stevens (Released)

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- A Liberian-flagged very large crude tanker, Sirius Star (IMO No. 9384198/ Callsign A8NA7), was attacked more than 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa, Kenya, Nov. 15.

The ship is owned by the Saudi Arabian-based Saudi Aramco and is operated by Vela International. The crew of 25 includes citizens of: Croatia, Great Britain, Republic of the Philippines, Poland and Saudi Arabia.

This attack comes amid a decrease in the rate of successful pirate attacks on merchant vessels off the coast of Somalia. Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) data analysis has shown that the combination of both military and civilian involvement in the area has reduced the percentage of successful piracy attacks from 53 percent in August to 31 percent in October.

"Our presence in the region is helping deter and disrupt criminal attacks off the Somali coast, but the situation with the Sirius Star clearly indicates the pirates' ability to adapt their tactics and methods of attack" said Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander, Combined Maritime Forces.

"Piracy is an international crime that threatens global commerce. Shipping companies have to understand that naval forces can not be everywhere. Self-protection measures are the best way to protect their vessels, their crews and their cargo."

Out of 15 recent pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden, at least 10 involved ships operating outside the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) recommended traffic corridor or failing to employ recommended self-protection measures, making them more vulnerable to a successful attack.

"Most notably, none of the vessels had embarked security teams. Embarked security teams would have prevented these successful attacks," said Gortney. "Companies don't think twice about using security guards to protect their valuable facilities ashore. Protecting valuable ships and their crews at sea is no different."

To put the challenge into geographic perspective, the area involved off the coast of Somalia and Kenya as well as the Gulf of Aden equals more than 1.1 million square miles. That is roughly four times the size of the U.S. state of Texas or the size of the Mediterranean and Red Seas combined.

In response to a noticeable increase in piracy attempts, the Combined Maritime Forces directed Aug. 22 the establishment of a maritime security patrol area (MSPA), a moveable area overlaying the IMO's recommended traffic corridor. Merchant mariners have been actively encouraged to travel through the IMO-designated traffic corridor and employ reasonable self-protection measures to deter piracy attempts.

"The sea is the lifeblood of our global economy, and it is appropriate the coalition, NATO and other international partners work together to address this problem," said Royal Navy Commodore Tim Lowe, deputy commander, Combined Maritime Forces. "The reduction in the rate of successful piracy attempts shows that the coalition's efforts to deter and disrupt piracy while supporting the shipping industry as they implement appropriate self-protection measures is working."

In addition to coalition naval forces, ships and aircraft from several other nations, including a NATO task force, are operating in the region. Their ranks are soon to be augmented by an European Union force of an undetermined composition. While no formal agreement exists between the navies, communication has been constant and effective to ensure optimal use of assets in a unified goal.

"While a military force cannot solve the problem, the solution lies ashore, we welcome the assistance of additional forces," said Lowe. "The long-term solution to piracy requires an international and interagency response. More forces allow us to address this issue and 'hold ground' while also continuing our ongoing maritime security operations in the area."

As it is evident with the attack on Sirius Star, increasingly daring attacks are being conducted by Somali pirates on a variety of merchant vessels. On Nov. 11, a United Kingdom warship successfully thwarted a pirate attack on a Danish shipping vessel and boarded the pirate ship responsible. During the course of the boarding, the team engaged the pirates in self-defense resulting in a number of fatalities. Such incidents highlight the complications associated with operating in this environment and the need for a permanent and effective land-based solution to the security situation in the region.

Coalition maritime forces conduct maritime security operations under international maritime conventions to develop security, which promotes stability and global prosperity in the maritime environment. These operations complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations.

Tinker AFB Deletes Command Post Freq

According to an official US Government doc that crossed my desk this morning, Tinker AFB has deleted their Command Post freq of 355.200 MHz (Raymond 24). Based on my previous notes regarding usage on this frequency, this may now be a nationwide NORAD frequency and further reports or insight from our readers would be appreciated.

I should also note that 355.125, 355.150 and 355.175 MHz are all spectrum holes in my files. If you hear any activity in the 355.125 to 355.200 MHz area, would appreciate a heads up.

Milcom Blog Logs - 11/20/2008 - Mid Atlantic

Here are some excellent intercepts sent to MMP by our Maryland Mid Atlantic reporter Ron Perron. Ron, thanks for sharing them with our MMP readers.

ACY-Atlantic City NJ
ADW- Andrews AFB MD
BW- Bay Watch-NAS PAX Area Advisory Control
GK- Giantkiller (FACSFAC, Virginia Capes)
MTN-Martin State Airport, Baltimore
NGTF-Northrop-Grumman Test Facility, Baltimore
NXX- Willow Grove JRB PA
PAX-NAS Patuxent River MD
ZDC- Washington ARTCC

1. VHF/UHF: ((Times are EDT))

0820- CG Sector Baltimore- radio checks (157.15) w/USCGC Maria Bray (WLM-562, Mayport FL).
0827- NASA 8 (BE-200, NASA Wallops Island VA)-w/PAX approach (127.95) trying to correct poroblems w/IFF codes.
0829- Roman 51 (F-18C VFA-106, NAS OCEANA VA)-w/PAX approach (281.8) for landing at PAX.
0922- Steel 71 flt (F-15s, 71st FS Langley)-clearing out of W386 (249.8) RTB direct Langley.
0925- Wild 1 flt (F-16s, 121st FS DC ANG ADW)-check in to W107 (255.0)
1050- Sniper 21 (F-22s, Langley)-check into W386 (249.8) then on W386 common (312.3)
1132- Salty Dog 400 (id as 2 acft-SD 400 is F-18C # 163476, VX-23 PAX)-w/PAX approach (281.8)
1143- Salty Dog 534 (EA-6B # 156481, VX-23, PAX)-w/PAX approach (281.8)
1209- Navy JR151 (C-20 #165151, VR-48, ADW)-check in w/BW (270.8) cleared into area in block FL3.8-FL200.
1420- Acft 266 (prob V-22, prob HX-21 PAX)-w/Shade Tree (264.55) in acft manueverability tests.
1425- Ginzu 11 flt (3 X F-22s, Langley)-check out of W386 (249.8) RTB Langley.
1510- Mojo 1 (poss F-16CJ, 55 FS Shaw AFB SC)-w/unid approach (282.375) adivising he is direct to Lynchburg VA. [283.275 is one of my UHF Milsair spectrum holes. Appreciate the pass along of it being active. Does anyone have a clue who and what it is used for??-LVH]
1542- Mexico 41 flt (F-22s, Langley)-exiting W386 (249.8) RTB Langley.
1547- Reaper 11 flt (2 X B-2As, 509th BW Whiteman AFB MO)-w/GK (249.8) trying to get clearance to Whiteman AFB. Wants block FL380-390. Also w/ZDC (353.95).

2. HF: ((Times UTC, Freqs KHz))

05732.0 N01 (USCG HC-144A #2301 ATC Mobile): 0115 USB/ALE sounding.
05732.0 TSC (US Customs National Law Enforcement Communications Center -- Technical Service Center, Orlando, FL): 0900 USB/ALE calling MR5 (Unknown Land Mobile Unit).
05732.0 LNT (Camslant Chesapeake): 1000 USB/ALE calling J15 (USCG MH-60J #6015 CGAS Elizabeth City).
05732.0 A82 (US Customs UH-60 tail # 78-22982, Grand Forks Air Branch, ND): 2231 USB/ALE sounding.

07527.0 D70 (US Customs P-3A "Slick" #N16370/BuNo 152170, Corpus Christi AMB, TX): 1312 USB/ALE sounding. Also sounding on 08912.0 & 11494.0 USB
07527.0 J27 (USCG MH-60T #6027 ATC Mobile): 2059 USB/ALE sounding.
07527.0 500 (USCG HC-130H #1500, CGAS Elizabeth City): 2108 USB/ALE sounding.
07527.0 J24 (USCG MH-60J #6024 CGAS Elizabeth City): 2124 USB/ALE sounding.
07527.0 LNT (Camslant): 2134 USB/ALE calling J03 (USCG MH-60J #6003 CGAS Elizabeth City).
07527.0 LNT (Camslant): 2258 USB/ALE calling J27 (USCG MH-60T #6027 ATC Mobile)

08912.0 J22 (USCG HH-60J #6022 CGAS Clearwater): 1354 USB/ALE sounding. Also noted on 15867.0 USB
08912.0 720 (USCG HC-130H #1720, CGAS Clearwater): 1400 USB/ALE calling LNT (Camslant). Also sounding on 08912.0; 11494.0 & 15867.0 USB
08912.0 J42 (USCG MH-60J #6042 CGAS Clearwater): 1404 USB/ALE sounding.
08912.0 I4J (US Customs CESSNA 550 #N5314J, San Angelo AMB, TX): 1405 USB/ALE sounding.
08912.0 T85 (US Customs PIPER PA-42-720R #N9085U, Jacksonville, FL AMB): 1416 USB/ALE sounding. Also sounding on 15867.0 USB
08912.0 N02 (USCG HC-144A #2302 ATC Mobile); 2006 USB/ALE sounding. Also sounding on 07527.0 USB
08912.0 LNT (Camslant): 2039 USB/ALE calling F29 (USCG HU-25 #2129 CGAS Cape Cod). Also on 07527.0 USB
08912.0 J10 (USCG MH-60J #6010 CGAS Clearwater): 2246 USB/ALE sounding. Also on 07527.0 USB

11175.0 Puerto Rico: 2123 USB w/radio checks w/Navy LA 329 (P-3C VP-5, NAS Jacksonville FL).
11175.0 Puerto Rico: 2126 USB w/Navy LA 053 (P-3C VP-5, NAS Jacksonville FL) who requests pp to DSN 942-XXXX. Party at DSN QSL's at 2129Z for Spare Group 16 report.

15867.0 I34 (US Customs CESSNA 550 #N2734K): 1630 USB/ALE sounding.
15867.0 716 (USCG HC-130H #1716, CGAS Sacramento): 1634 USB/ALE sounding. Also sounding on 08912.0 USB.
15867.0 F31 (USCG HU-25 #2131 CGAS Cape Cod): 1707 USB/ALE sounding.
15867.0 I08 (US Customs CESSNA 550 #N5408G, Bellingham WA AMB): 1732 USB/ALE sounding.
15867.0 F39 (USCG HU-25 #2139 CGAS Cape Cod): 1737 USB/ALE sounding.
15867.0 D14 (US Customs P-3A “Slick” #N18314/BuNo 150314, Corpus Christi AMB, TX): 1742 USB/ALE sounding.
15867.0 T91 (US Customs PIPER PA-42-720R #N9091J, Jacksonville, FL AMB): 1835 USB/ALE sounding. Also sounding on 07527.0 USB
15867.0 X2C (Unid): 1845 USB/ALE sounding.
15867.0 I94 (US Customs CESSNA 550 #N26494): 1847 USB/ALE sounding.

Ron Baltimore MD (390747N 763711W)
VHF/UHF: BC-895XLT/RS Pro-2045
Diamond D-130J discone
HF: Icom R75 & Sangean ATS 909
45-ft EF-SWL & 70-ft random wire

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Milcom Blog Logs - 11/19/2008 - Mid Atlantic

Here are some excellent intercepts sent to MMP by our Maryland Mid Atlantic reporter Ron Perron. Ron, thanks for sharing them with our MMP readers.

ACY-Atlantic City NJ
ADW- Andrews AFB MD
BW- Bay Watch-NAS PAX Area Advisory Control
GK- Giantkiller (FACSFAC, Virginia Capes)
MTN-Martin State Airport, Baltimore
NGTF-Northrop-Grumman Test Facility, Baltimore
NXX- Willow Grove JRB PA
PAX-NAS Patuxent River MD
ZDC- Washington ARTCC

1. VHF/UHF: ((Times are EDT))

0754- PAT 01 (id as UH-60)- w/Weide AAF (126.2) for landing and pax drop off. After pax drop off, heads over to Phillips AAF (126.15) for orientation over the VIP pad area.
0802- CG Sector Baltimore (157.15)- w/USCGC Resolute (WMEC-623, St Petersburg FL).
0803- CG Sector Baltimore (157.15)- radio checks w/USCGC Elm (WLB-204, Atlantic Beach NC)
0809- JOSA 486-w/Griffin CP (378.1)
0817- PAT 510-depart Phillips AAF (126.15)
0827- Blackjack 2 (HH-65C, CGAS ACY-deployed to Wash DC)-w/ADW tower (118.4)
0836- Reach 4122-check in w/ZDC (127.7)
0849- CG Sector Baltimore-radio checks (157.15) w/USCGC Maria Bray (WLM-562, Mayport FL)
1420- Guard 927 (OH-58A+ Kiowa #21927, Co. 'A' / 1-224th Avn; (S&S), Maryland Ar.NG; Weide AHP)-local work at Weide AAF (126.2)
1423- Salty Dog 121 (F-18F # 166449, VX-23, PAX)-check in w/Echo Control (320.45)
1433- Bicep 11 flt (F-16s, 119th FS NJ ANG ACY)-w/Harrisburg approach (273.525) prob for entry into the Bollen Range.
1435- Reach 3125-w/McGuire CP (319.4) w/inbound msg.
1438- Aero 21 flt (F-16s, 119th FS NJ ANG ACY)-calling any radio (255.4) advising they are enroute to the Bollen Range.
1443- Tester 14 (T-38C # 67-4943 NTPS PAX-British pilot)-w/BW (270.8) reporting malfunction. Will orbit to burn off fuel then stright in landing at PAX.
1445- Tester 16 (T-38C # 70-1575, NTPS PAX)-w/BW (270.8)
1447- Tester 12 (T-38C # 15-8200, NTPS PAX)-w/BW (270.8)
1450- Tester 11 (T-38C, NTPS PAX)-w/BW (270.8) reports completion of supersonic run at Mach 1.06.
1457- Guard 21423 (UH-1/UH-60, MD ArNG Weide AAF)-local work at Phillips AAF (126.15)
1504- Acft 91 (prob C-5A 167th AS WVA ANG Martinsburg WVA)-w/Pikeside (297.0) w/inbound msg.
1507- Salty Dog 422 (prob F-18, VX-23 PAX)-check in w/ZDC (281.4).
1900- Baton 55 (EC-130J, 193rd SOG, PA ANG Harrisburg)-w/Baton Ops (395.1) w/departure msg.
1907- Crab 54 (C-130J # 98-1354, 135th AS MD ANG MTN)-local work at Phillips AAF (126.15)
1915- Reach 983- check in on AICC (364.2)
1952- Reach 599 (id as C-17)-w/Griffin CP (378.1) w/inbound msg.

2. HF: ((Times UTC, Freqs KHz))
08171.5 A3L (unid US Army entity): 1500 USB/ALE sounding.

Ron Baltimore MD (390747N 763711W)
VHF/UHF: BC-895XLT/RS Pro-2045
Diamond D-130J discone
HF: Icom R75 & Sangean ATS 909
45-ft EF-SWL & 70-ft random wire

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Somali Pirates Strike Again

Pirates holding the crew of the Chinese fishing vessel FV Tian Yu 8 guard the crew Monday, Nov. 17, 2008 as the ship passes through the Indian Ocean. The ship was attacked Nov. 16 in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility and forced to proceed to an anchorage off the Somali coast. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky (Released)