Friday, November 30, 2007

Ronald Reagan and CVW 14 Underway for TSTA/FEP

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 departed San Diego Nov. 27 to complete Tailored Ship's Training Assessment (TSTA), an intense training period designed to prepare the ship and embarked air wing for prompt and sustained combat operations at sea.

TSTA and the upcoming Final Evaluation Problem (FEP) are conducted by Afloat Training Group Pacific, and are designed to test a ship's ability to conduct multiple simultaneous combat missions and survive complex casualty situations under stressful conditions.

Rear Adm. Phil Wisecup, commander of the Ronald Reagan Strike Group, stressed to the officers and crew of Ronald Reagan and CVW 14 that the preparation for future strike group missions starts during TSTA/FEP.

"I don't know what we'll be called upon to do, but I can tell you that we'll face it together," added Wisecup. "We will be ready when the bell rings!"

A major part of TSTA and FEP will be testing the ship's damage control organization through a variety of events and general quarter drills scheduled during the underway period.

"Damage control readiness is an 'all hands' responsibility and is instilled in Ronald Reagan Sailors from the day they walk on board, said Senior Chief Damage Controlman (SW/AW) Brian Wilcox, Ronald Reagan's damage control division leading chief petty officer.

Scores achieved by the officers and crew during the FEP stage will apply to the annual "Battle E" award, given to the aircraft carrier deemed most ready for combat operations in the Pacific Fleet.

The Ronald Reagan Strike Group is scheduled to conduct the Composite Training Unit Exercise and a Joint Task Force Exercise early next year in preparation for a regularly scheduled deployment.

USS Crommelin Deploys to Caribbean

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class John Wallace Ciccarelli Jr., Fleet Public Affairs Det. Hawaii

PEARL HARBOR, (NNS) -- Guided missile frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37) departed Naval Station Pearl Harbor on Nov. 27, for a six-month deployment to the Caribbean.

Crommelin and her crew of more than 200 Sailors are scheduled to transit to the Naval Forces Southern Command area of operations via the Panama Canal and engage in monitoring, detecting and counter-narcotics activities.

The deployment is aimed at stopping the shipment of drugs to other countries that can support the purchase of weapons for terrorism.

"The illegal flow of narcotics into the United States pays for a portion of the weapons terrorists use in their attacks," said Capt. Patrick N. Huete, Crommelin's commanding officer. "This deployment is helping directly on the global war on terrorism by finding and eliminating the flow of drugs."

For many of the ship's junior Sailors, this marks their first deployment out to sea.

"I'm so excited, this is my first deployment and my first time to South America. It's going to be a great experience," said Seaman Flen Purvis, of Marion, South Carolina.

Family members gathered pierside early in the morning to say their goodbyes and to show their support for the crew.

"It's really rough seeing your love go away for six months, but you learn to expect it, but I know it's for the good of this country and for the world for the ship and its crew to go on these missions," said Michelle Pease, Crommelin's ombudsman.

Crommelin is a versatile, multi-mission warship, able to execute a variety of war fighting tasks for the Nation.

Frigates fulfill a protection of shipping mission as anti-submarine warfare combatants for amphibious expeditionary forces, underway replenishment groups and merchant convoys.

Black Knights Seek to End Streak in 108th Army-Navy Classic

WEST POINT, N.Y. (Army News Service, Nov. 29, 2007) - The 108th Army-Navy Game will be played Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore and CBS will broadcast the game nationally beginning at noon.

The Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 123) will also carry the Army Sports Network broadcast and the game will be televised live overseas to service members on the American Forces Network.

The Black Knights will be trying to snap a five-game skid to the Midshipmen. Navy's winning streak in the rivalry is tied for the longest by either, giving the Midshipmen a 51-49-7 advantage in the series.

An Army victory would end the Black Knights' regular season five-game losing skid while evening their Commander-In-Chief's Trophy record at 1-1 in 2007 (lost at Air Force), thus creating a three-way tie for the trophy.

Senior wide receiver Jeremy Trimble said beating Navy would mean validation.

"All the workouts in the off-season over the past four years, all the summer training, getting up early and going to bed late, it would just mean everything. For us seniors, it can be that program-changing win and also could be a career-defining win," said the Ashburn, Va., native. "We're going out there and giving it all we've got, and we're going to leave everything on the field on Dec. 1."

This revered series began when Cadet Dennis Mahan Michie accepted a "challenge" from Naval Academy midshipmen for a football game against the Cadets. That first contest was held on "The Plain" at West Point on Nov. 29, 1890. The more experienced Mids, who had been playing organized football since 1879, defeated the Cadets 24-0.

Army Head Coach Stan Brock said his team understands the tradition of this "challenge" and the prize they're playing for: pride.

"To the Corps of Cadets, it's a huge pride factor. There are people here at West Point who have never beaten Navy," said Coach Brock. "Some day they will be out in the military world and the first question is, 'Are you a West Point graduate?' Then, 'Did you beat Navy?' It will give them the opportunity to say 'Yeah I did; we beat them in 2007.' We take a great deal of pride and know we are representing the United States Army and the United States Military Academy."

This will be the fourth time the historic game has taken place in Baltimore and the first time since 2000. Army won the first two contests, which were held at Municipal Stadium. The Army-Navy classic will return to Philadelphia for 2008 and 2009, where eighty of the 107 games have been played.

And what does the old Navy Chief think about Army getting redemption in this game --- NOT! Go Navy - Beat Army!!

F-22 endures 3-week, cold-weather test at Eielson

by Airman 1st Class Nora Anton, 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
An F-22 Raptor comes to a stop Nov. 5 on the runway at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The F-22 underwent cold-weather testing on its breaking system, with emphasis on its ability to maneuver, stop and go on slippery surfaces. The aircraft was tested by the 411th Flight Test Squadron during a three-week deployment on incrementally low-level runway condition reading surfaces, with temperatures ranging between 37 to -13 degrees. The F-22 is from Edwards AFB, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kevin Roberston)

An F-22 Raptor came here for three weeks in November to test the aircraft's braking system on ice in time for the first snow at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, home to several F-22s since August.

"We were validating the F-22 braking system's stability and performance as well as evaluating cold-weather operations and maintenance procedures," said Maj. Jack Fischer, the 411th Flight Test Squadron deployment commander and an F-22 test pilot.

"We were testing the Raptor's behavior while maneuvering and stopping on slippery surfaces," he said. "Whether during a snow storm or ice fog, we have to be able to land on poor surfaces. Stopping on problem-surfaces is a challenge for every Air Force jet."

The F-22, from Edwards AFB, Calif., has already undergone extensive hot and cold weather testing at the Air Force McKinley Climatic Lab at Eglin AFB, Fla. The major said the aircraft was subjected to incredible environmental conditions; however, they could not test the braking system there.

The aircraft was tested on incrementally low-level runway condition reading surfaces, or how contaminated the runway is and how much concrete you will need to stop the aircraft, in temperatures ranging between 37 to 13 degrees below zero, said Richard Backs, a 411th FLTS project manager.

The team needed the temperature to be cold enough to freeze water in order to create a test surface.

"We started with basic ground maneuvering on an icy surface and progressed to high-speed braking tests and eventually, both real and aborted, take-off and landings under low RCR conditions," he said.

The F-22's anti-skid system is only used in the F-22. No other planes have this kind of system, Major Fischer said.

"It's like an anti-lock brake system in your car, but on steroids," he said. "In addition to looking at wheel slip (like in your car) this system also accounts for deceleration through its navigation system, and allows the aircraft to safely and reliably stop on any surface that it may encounter."

The F-22 came up for a three-week deployment; however, the team was able to finish all mandatory test points within the first five days. They were able to use the rest of their time to fine tune and to collect as much data as possible.

"The F-22 demonstrated incredible brake-system stability on low-friction surfaces," the major said. "Mother Nature also helped out by giving us the necessary weather conditions during the majority of our test window. Testing is about finding strengths, weaknesses and limits. The team learned plenty.

"We obtained information that will enable us to update the aircraft's flight manuals to enhance the safety of the operators in the field," Mr. Backs said.

The data will also contribute to other important factors.

"We were also able to develop F-22 cold weather pilot and maintenance techniques and procedures, as well as gather enough data to update the takeoff and landing distance charts in the F-22 publications," Major Fischer said.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Army-Navy Gane Notes - Mids set to take on Black Knights

Game Data

Navy (7-4), coming off a 35-24 victory over Northern Illinois that clinched a fifth-straight winning season, will play host to Army (3-8) at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium (70,008) in the 108th playing of the Army-Navy game, the greatest rivalry in all of sports, on Saturday, Dec. 1. The game is sold out. The 108thy Army-Navy Football Game is supported by Silver Partners AT&T, Lockheed Martin, USAA, the US Army and the US Navy.

CBS will televise the game nationally starting at 12 noon with Ian Eagle and Boomer Esiason calling the game, while Sam Ryan will handle the sideline duties. CBS Radio/Westwood One will broadcast the game nationally with Kevin Kugler and Terry Bowden calling the action.

WJZ-TV in Baltimore (Channel 13) will air a three-hour pregame show starting at 9 a.m. which will include live coverage of both march-ons.

Bob Socci, Omar Nelson and John Feinstein will call the game on the Navy Radio Network, which includes WBAL in Baltimore (1090 AM), WNAV in Annapolis (1430 AM), 3WT in Washington, DC (1500 AM), WFED in Northern Virginia (1050 AM), WTRI in Frederick (1520 AM), The Game in Virginia Beach, Va. (102.1 FM) and Hampton Roads, Va. (1490 AM) and Sirius Satellite Radio (Channel TBA). The game will also be streamed live on Navy All-Access, as well as on the web sites of the various stations carrying the game. The pregame show will air at 11 a.m.

Pete Medhurst and Joe Miller will host the Navy Tailgate Show on 1430 WNAV starting at 10 a.m.

The march-on of the Corps of Cadets will take place at 9:35 a.m., while the Brigade of Midshipmen will march on at 10:05 a.m.

Saturday's Navy fly-by will feature four Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornets from the "Kestrels" of Strike Fighter Squadron 137, based at Naval Air Station in Lemoore, California. Piloting the lead aircraft is Lt. Cmdr. Dave "Frosty" Snowden, USNA Class of 1996. The slot aircraft will be piloted by Lt. Colin "Farva" Price, USNA Class of 2001. The right echelon aircraft was piloted by Lt. Rebekah "Charlie" Murphy, USNA Class of 2002, and the left echelon aircraft was piloted by Lt. Jason "Doofus" Duffie, USNA Class of 2002. The Kestrels completed a WESTPAC deployment in August 2006, and are currently nearing the end of their work-up cycle in preparation for deployment onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln CVN-72 in early 2008.

Go Navy-Beat Army from the Chief and family

Army-Navy Visiting Ships Schedule

Ships Berthed At The Inner Harbor

Nov 29-Dec 2 USS Thunderbolt - 179' US Navy Coastal Patrol craft Berth: Inner Harbor, Constellation Pier, east side Arrival: Thurs, Nov 29 @ 4pm Departure: Sun, Dec 2 @ 3pm Public visiting hours: Fri, Nov 30, 8am-6pm and Sat, Dec 1, 8am-12pm Change of Command ceremony: Fri, Nov 30 @ 10am pierside

Nov 29-Dec 2 USS Hurricane - 179' US Navy Coastal Patrol craft Berth: Inner Harbor, West Wall (northernmost end) Arrival: Thurs, Nov 29 @ 4pm Departure: Sun, Dec 2 @ 3pm Public visiting hours: Fri, Nov 30, 8am-6p.m. and Sat, Dec 1, 8am-12pm

Nov 30-Dec 2 USNA YPs - Four 108' US Navy Yard Patrol craft Berths: Inner Harbor Pier 5 (south end) and Inner Harbor Pier 3 (south end) (Two vessels will be nested outboard of one another on each dock). Arrival: Fri, Nov 30 @ 12pm Departure: Sun, Dec 2 @ 5:30pm Public Visiting Hours: Fri, Nov 30, 1pm-5pm Sat, Dec 1, 8am-10am Sun, Dec 2, 10am-2pm

Nov 30-Dec 2 MG Robert Smalls (LSV 8) - 313' US Army logistics support ship Berth: Inner Harbor, Pier 4, east side Arrival: Fri, Nov 30 @ 8pm Departure: Sun, Dec 2 @ 1pm Public visiting hours: Sat, Dec 1, 9am-11am Sun, Dec 2, 9am-11am Sail Baltimore * 3720 Dillon Street, Baltimore, MD 21224 * 410-522-7300 *

Nov 30-Dec 2 USAV Missionary Ridge (LCU 2028) - 174' US Army LCU ship Berth: Inner Harbor, Pier 4, south end Arrival: Fri, Nov 30 @ 3pm Departure: Sun, Dec 2 @ 1pm Public visiting hours: Fri, Nov 30, 4pm-6pm Sat, Dec 1, 9am-11am Sun, Dec 2, 9am-11am

Nov 30-Dec 2 US Army LCMs - Two 75' US Army landing craft Berth: Inner Harbor, Pier 4, west side (nested) Arrival: Fri, Nov 30 @ 3pm Departure: Sun, Dec 2 @ 1pm Public visiting hours: Sat, Dec 1, 9am-12pm and 1pm-4:30pm

Dec 1-4 HSV-2 Swift - 323' US Navy high speed vessel Berth: Inner Harbor, West Wall (southernmost end) Arrival: Fri, Nov 30 @ 2pm Departure: Tues, Dec 4 @ 10am Public Visiting Hours: Fri, Nov 30, 2pm-8pm Sat, Dec 1, 8am-8pm Sun, Dec 2, 8am-8pm Mon, Dec 3, 8am-8pm

Ships Berthed at Locust Point, NO PUBLIC VISITATION:

Nov 30-Dec 3 USS Taylor (FFG 50) - 453' US Navy frigate Berth: North Locust Point, Pier 3 Arrival: Fri, Nov 30, Time TBD Departure: Mon, Dec 3, Time TBD NO Public Visitation

Nov 30-Dec 3 USS Ramage (DDG 61) - 509' US Navy destroyer Berth: North Locust Point, Pier 3 Arrival: Fri, Nov 30, Time TBD Departure: Mon, Dec 3, Time TBD NO Public Visitation

(Schedule of ships, visiting hours and docking locations subject to change.)

Go Navy-Beat Army from the Chief and his family

DHS to seek help with Coast Guard communication system

Story courtesy of written by Ben Bain (URL

The Homeland Security Department is getting ready to request proposals for help with implementing the core aspect of the Coast Guard’s nationwide communication system that will improve how ships correspond with one another and communicate with shore stations.

Once fully deployed, the Nationwide Automatic Identification System (NAIS) will be a maritime digital broadcast system intended to boost the Coast Guard’s maritime domain awareness, or understanding the nautical environment.

Increment one of three of the system, which allows 55 critical ports and nine coastal areas to receive messages, was completed at the end of fiscal 2007.

Toward the end of December, the Coast Guard plans to formally ask for proposals from companies to design, develop and deliver NAIS’ core system to fulfill the first phase of Increment 2 of the project.

Phase 1 will require a limited but fully functioning core operating system that will establish coverage across three designated areas for initial operating capability, systems engineering, logistics, physical and logical hardware and software for shore stations.

The service has said it chose to implement NAIS in three increments because it will enable the Coast Guard to start using the technology sooner and demonstrates its progress in complying with the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002.

The Coast Guard says it is considering multiple contracting approaches for the award. According to the notice, Phase 2 of Increments 2 and 3 will be separate procurements.

The service will be host a site visit for interested contractors at its training center in Cape May, N.J., in early January 2008. A technical library of current capabilities and system design guidance is also available online at

A fact sheet on the system is located at .

F-15 A-D Grounded Again for Additional Inspections

For the second time this month, the commander of Air Combat Command has directed a fleet-wide inspection of all ACC F-15 A through D model aircraft.

The directive follows Nov. 27 findings stemming from the investigation of an F-15C mishap that resulted in the loss of that aircraft on Nov. 2 . Based on those new findings, all F-15 A through D models will undergo a stand down that will require additional inspections and possible repair actions.

Gen. John D.W. Corley, ACC commander, also recommended the stand-down of all other similar model aircraft in other Air Force major commands, including those under the operational control of U.S. combatant commanders.

The new findings from the Accident Investigation Board indicate possible fleet-wide airworthiness problems with F-15A/B/C and D aircraft. These findings, based on a metallurgical analysis of the mishap aircraft, have drawn attention to the F-15's upper longerons near the canopy of the aircraft that appear to have cracked and failed. The longerons are major structural components that run along the length and side of the aircraft.

Although the longeron area was covered in general by previous inspections as a result of the Nov. 2 mishap, technical experts with the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Georgia, are recommending a specific inspection technique for the suspect area based on the yesterday's findings.

Manufacturer simulations have indicated a catastrophic failure could result in this particular area. In addition, cracks were discovered along the same longeron area during two recent inspections of F-15C aircraft. These aircraft were immediately grounded based upon the inspection findings and are awaiting further engineering instructions.

Based on this most recent data, ACC believes it is necessary to stand-down the F-15 A through D aircraft until such time each aircraft can receive a more detailed and tailored inspection of the upper longerons in the focus area.

Air Combat Command continues to work with the Air National Guard, the Air Force Reserve and sister major commands in Europe and the Pacific, as well as joint and coalition partners, to ensure mission coverage.

The stand-down does not affect the F-15E. The duration of the stand-down is pending the completion of required inspections and any necessary repair actions.

Air Force trainers involved in mid-air collision

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFPN) -- Two Columbus Air Force Base T-6 Texan II primary trainers collided about 12:47 p.m. Nov. 28 near the Columbus AFB Auxiliary airfield in Shuqualak, Miss. At the time of the accident, the aircraft were conducting initial flight training operations.

On-scene emergency response has located and confirmed all four pilots have parachuted safely.

A board of officers will be appointed to investigate the accident. Additional details will be provided as soon as they become available

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

China Has Done It Again!

Hong Kong Harbor (Photo courtesy of

China, which denied the USS Kitty Hawk and her Carrier Strike Group permission to dock in Hong Kong for Thanksgiving (see that story on this blog at:, also recently refused access to two minesweeping ships seeking refuge from a storm, the commander of U.S. Forces Pacific said yesterday in a Pentagon video conference.

The USS Patriot and USS Guardian were forced to refuel at sea and return to their homeport of Sasebo in Japan when China refused their request for shelter in Hong Kong, Admiral Timothy Keating told reporters in Washington yesterday.

The incidents came about two weeks after Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited China seeking greater cooperation between the two countries and more transparency from the government in Beijing about its military buildup.

China's denial violated an "unwritten law among seamen that if someone is in need" you give them safe harbor, Keating said in a video conference from his headquarters at Camp Smith, Hawaii, according to a DoD transcript. Keating said that while the decision to refuse the Kitty Hawk access was "perplexing" and "troublesome," the minesweeper incident was "more disturbing."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in a statement today that all dockings by U.S. naval ships in Hong Kong must be "applied for in advance" and in accordance with the territory's laws. "In this case, the applications were not made in advance and in a timely fashion."

Essex Arrives in Cambodia

SIHANOUKVILLE, Kingdom of Cambodia (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) arrived in Sihanoukville, Nov. 26 for a scheduled port visit along with embarked Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

"Essex Sailors are honored to have the opportunity to visit the Kingdom of Cambodia as part of the broadening and deepening relations between our navies and our two governments," said Capt. Brian T. Donegan, Essex's commanding officer. "This visit will provide our crew a unique opportunity to gain an appreciation for the rich traditions and culture of Cambodia's people."

While in port, the ship's approximately 2,500 Sailors and Marines are scheduled to participate in community relations projects, medical and dental assistance events and professional military exchanges. The ship's crew and embarked Marines will participate in cultural exchanges and friendship-building activities.

Essex's visit to Cambodia marks the first time an amphibious assault ship has visited the country and marks the second U.S. Navy ship visit in 2007. USS Gary's (FFG 51) visit in February was the first U.S. ship to visit the Kingdom of Cambodia in more than 30 years.

The Essex and 31st MEU medical and dental departments will conduct Medical and Dental Civic Action Programs (MEDCAP and DENCAP) in the Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Cham areas with the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

"Essex medical department and Fleet Surgical Team 7 are excited about working with the Marines in these friendship-building activities with the people of Cambodia," said Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW) Mark Davison. "The Blue-Green team recognizes the historical significance of these events and have the opportunities to provide care to those who would otherwise have limited or no access to health care in some rural areas."

Another tradition that Sailors and Marines can look forward to are community service projects.

"There are six community relations projects scheduled while we are in Cambodia where more than 400 Sailors and Marines will conduct meaningful community service," said Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Sweeney, Essex's chaplain. "Participating in these community relations activities allows our service members the opportunity to meet people in the local community and interact in activities like sports or something like painting at a local school."

The ship's crew also will distribute several pallets of Project Handclasp material to various non-governmental agencies in the Sihanoukville area. Project Handclasp is a U.S. Navy program that provides donated items to agencies and organizations in countries that could benefit from those materials.

Operating in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, the U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, with approximately 50 ships, 120 aircraft and 20,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any given time.

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 only forward-deployed amphibious force commander. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with a detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

Sailors and Marines board a CH-46E Sea Knight, assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 265, after the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) arrived off the coast of Sihanoukville, Kingdom of Cambodia. (US Navy Photo)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fort Drum 380-400 MHz On The Air

I just received an email this morning indicating that Fort Drum ,New York, has activated a new 380-400 MHz trunk radio system. Unfortunately, he did not pass along any frequencies or any other details. So for my friends in the Empire State who live within line of sight of Fort Drum, please turn on your scanners, use your "search button" to search the frequency spectrum from 380-390 MHz (NFM) in 12.5 kHz steps, and let us know what you found.

In fact, if you live near any US military installation have you checked the 380-390 MHz spectrum for activity yet? It takes just a few minutes and you may discover some interesting new listening in your area. Oh yes, and I would much appreciate it if you drop me a line with the details.

73 and good hunting.

UAV First Aboard a Destroyer

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Hendrix, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs
The ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle is recovered from flight aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79). Oscar Austin is en route to the Central Command area of responsibility to support maritime security operations in the region as part of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth R. Hendrix)

Guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79), completed a robust testing phase of the ScanEagle, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Nov. 17, en route to the Central Command area of operations as part of the ongoing rotation to support Maritime Security Operations.

This is an unprecedented employment of a UAV aboard a multi-mission (anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and anti-surface warfare) surface combatant.

Oscar Austin is an element of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG).

"The particular UAV we are flying here is known as the ScanEagle," said John Nicholson, ScanEagle team leader, and The Boeing Company field representative. "In the past and still today, we have operated ScanEagle on various ship platforms like the LHAs and LHDs (amphibious assault ships), LPDs (amphibious transport dock ships), LSDs (amphibious dock landing ships), and high speed vessel ships."

The primary mission of the ScanEagle UAV is to provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support to the Oscar Austin and HSTCSG.

"ScanEagle is an incredible asset not only for this ship, but the Navy too," said Oscar Austin's Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Eric Weilenman. "It gives me great [subject awareness] on what's around the ship and allows me to keep my visit, board, search, and seizure teams aware of their environment because the UAV provides positive identification on vessels of interest, which allows me to pass accurate security information to my Sailors as they prepare to board."

While in flight, ScanEagle provides live, high-quality video that helps develop and maintain a Recognized Maritime Picture and further enhances Maritime Domain Awareness.

Contractors operate the UAV while Navy intelligence specialists and flight deck crew work side-by-side with the civilians.

"Based on data collections, I task the UAV operators with what to target and where to look," said Chief Intelligence Specialist (AW) Roger Whittington, the intelligence officer aboard Oscar Austin. "Our role is intelligence, while their role is to fly the plane."

ScanEagle is four-feet long with a wingspan of 10-feet, and offers a variety of features that differentiate it from other UAVs.

The UAV has the ability to go as high as 10,000-feet, the capability of flying for more than 20 hours both day and night, and it's quiet, "making it difficult to detect from the surface of the ocean," said Nicholson.

Whether it is operating by day or night, ScanEagle can carry either an electro-optical or infrared camera, allowing the operator to easily track both stationary and moving targets.

Navy reservist and Ensign Scott Hamann, a ScanEagle pilot operator assigned to Boeing explained the launch and recovery process of the UAV.

"ScanEagle is launched by a pneumatic wedge catapult launcher and flies off pre-programmed computerized files or operators (like myself) to initiate the mission," said Hamann.

"When retrieved, we use what is called a 'Skyhook' system, where the UAV catches a rope that is hanging from a 50-foot high pole," Hamann added.

Whittington said the prospect of helping to develop a machine that can potentially save lives is an honor.

"I'm really excited about being [a part of] this ground breaking moment in naval history," Whittington said.

Weilenman has high hopes in store for the UAV and wants to raise the bar during this deployment. The last ship that deployed with ScanEagle, USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), completed 19 missions and 933 flight hours.

"We are going to try to beat those numbers," said Weilenman. "It's all mission dependent, depending on where our missions are going to be and what we are going to be doing, but it is very possible we will exceed those results."

Kearsarge Aids Tropical Cyclone Humanitarian Efforts

The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), as well as elements of Amphibious Squadron 8 and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Special Operations Capable (SOC) arrived off the coast of Bangladesh Nov. 23 to support ongoing disaster relief operations.

At the request of the Government of Bangladesh, Kearsarge and 22nd MEU (SOC) are coordinating with government officials, military leaders and international aid organizations to determine how best to focus the added capabilities of the U.S. naval forces against relief efforts.

"The suffering caused by this storm is devastating," said Rear Adm. Carol M. Pottenger, Commander Task Force 76, embarked aboard Kearsarge. "We are here to bring help and hope to those in need and aid the people of Bangladesh during this difficult time."

Tropical Cyclone Sidr slammed into the Bangladesh coast Nov. 15, with winds in excess of 156 miles per hour, killing thousands and leaving several hundred thousand homeless.

"The government of Bangladesh and various international aid organizations have a robust capability already in place and we will support their efforts as requested," said Pottenger. "Our forces are highly flexible and poised to help however we can."

The Norfolk-based ship's embarked helicopters and landing craft air cushion can deliver food, medicine and thousands of gallons of fresh water ashore, helping to save lives, lessen suffering, and aid in preventing the onset of tropical cyclone-related medical issues.

"We provide a unique mix of capabilities including airlift, logistics support and the ability to support the humanitarian relief efforts already in place," said Col. Doug Stilwell, commanding officer of the 22nd MEU (SOC). "Our goal is to assist the Bangladesh government, Bangladesh military and non-governmental organizations in reducing further loss of life."

Last week, Kearsarge was directed to make best speed towards Bangladesh from the Arabian Sea when it became apparent that the storm was going to make landfall.

Kearsarge is currently on a regularly scheduled deployment in support of maritime security operations and departed its home port of Norfolk, Va., July 30.

Essex Completes ULTRA-S

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Mark R. Alvarez, USS Essex Public Affairs

The amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) successfully completed its Unit Level Assessment-Sustainment (ULTRA-S) Nov. 18, during the ship's fall patrol throughout East and Southeast Asia.

A team of inspectors from the Afloat Training Group Western Pacific (ATGWP) came aboard Essex to conduct a three-day evaluation of the ship's proficiency in many different warfare areas.

ATGWP reviewed areas such as engineering, damage control, combat systems, medical readiness, aviation maintenance material management, seamanship and navigation.

"This was a great opportunity to gauge ourselves against outside observers," said Essex's Commanding Officer, Capt. Brian Donegan. "As always, we learned a lot; it was an outstanding success."

ULTRA-S is an ATGWP review designed to evaluate a ship's readiness across different warfare areas. The goal is to ensure surface force units perpetuate the highest possible levels of proficiency. The inspectors also look to see if a ship can sustain the standards established at Final Evaluation Period over time.

"After many hours of inspections, briefings and training, Essex Sailors were right on target," said Yeoman 1st Class (SW/AW) Jose J. Cintron, Damage Control Training Team member. "We made sure Sailors on board Essex were prepared to react and execute under any circumstances, which is what we proved to ATGWP during this inspection."

A few of the drills were shipwide and involved the entire crew, while other drills focused on specific teams like the at-sea fire party, duty sections or repair lockers.

"Essex did an excellent job on the events they were evaluated," said Chief Boatswain's Mate Darrell Cook, ATGWP member.

Essex is conducting its fall patrol throughout East and Southeast Asia and will continue to build relationships and enhance security and stability throughout the region.

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

Monday, November 26, 2007


There have been several changes in the DoD MARS ALE nets of note including the Navy MARS folks using a new ALE Address format. But first these official annoucements from the MARS folks and comments from the blog editor:


R 231500Z MAY 2007






Blog editor comment: Surprise, surprise. The US Army MARS doesn't want to play nice in the tri-service MARS neighborhood? This is nothing new and just shows that the turf wars continue between the three MARS services.

There is NO legitimate reason in this day and age to have three separate MARS services - none. The only thing this does is waste taxpayer money and gobble up precious RF spectrum space. And for what? Nets and members talking about growing tomatoes in their gardens or their latest surgery or ailment? Hey, don't take my word for it. You listen and see if you hear anything if value being passed.

All three MARS services failed in their missions during 9/11, they failed during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and their is no reasons to believe that they and their big brother SHARES won't failed in the next emergency. The golden fleece award goes to the three MARS services and SHARES for this waste taxpayers money and precious RF radio spectum space.


R 031400Z APR 2004





And from my weekend monitoring:

EXBNNN Connecticut
KBPNNN Indiana
WKCNNN Illinois
WWLNNN Unknown
YXPNNN Washington

Frequencies monitored: 3349.0 4765.0 7642.0 11098.5 kHz ALE/USB

More soon as I continue to explore these services.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

'Storm Riders' Team with Infantry for Iraq Air Assault Missions

By Sgt. 1st Class Chris Seaton, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Office
A CH-47 Chinook helicopter from 'Big Windy' -- U.S. Army Europe's B Company, 5th Battalion, 158th Aviation - spins up for takeoff for a late-night air assault mission in Iraq. The helicopter, part of Task Force Storm here, is loaded with Soldiers preparing for an infiltration in Iraq. (Photo by Maj. Terry Rodesky)

LOGISTICAL SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq -- It's 2 a.m. on a brisk November morning in an Iraqi village. The night sky is clear, and the insurgent fighters who've been operating out of the village are sleeping. In the distance, a guard on lookout hears what sounds like a helicopter.

Sounds can play tricks in the desert -- especially at night -- but within moments the sound becomes deafening. One faint helicopter heard in the distance becomes 10 menacing aircraft descending on the village.

Before the guard can rouse his fellow insurgents, the aircraft have landed. Waves of coalition infantrymen pour out of UH-60 Black Hawks and CH-47 Chinook helicopters from all sides of the village.

Armor-clad warriors emerge from the massive dust clouds kicked up by helicopter rotors as even more aircraft -- lethal AH-64 Apaches this time -- hover overhead, practically begging enemy militias for an opportunity to fire their 30mm guns.

The village is surrounded, and the battle is over before it began.

This is the typical air assault mission here; a complex, joint and combined arms operation that involves infantrymen, Air Force aircraft, three types of U.S. Army helicopters, and the Soldiers of Task Force Storm.

The 'Storm Riders' are the air assault battalion for Task Force XII, the aviation task force led by U.S. Army Europe's 12th Combat Aviation Brigade. The battalion has successfully taken part in dozens of these missions since arriving in Iraq this summer.

"The mobility that helicopters give the infantry is amazing," said Lt. Col. Jay Macklin, Task Force Storm commander. "We can arrive at any time, day or night, and the enemy never knows how big a force is coming; where we're coming from; where we're going to land, or what we're going to do."

Without the aircraft, the infantry would be forced to convoy on Iraq's dangerous roads. Soldiers on the ground are just as efficient, but they face improvised explosive devices. Trucks also move more slowly, and arrive one at a time. Without the aircraft, the enemy may be ready before coalition forces arrive.

"The enemy is not stupid, and we know that," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Clark Hall, a Task Force Storm pilot. "We bring the element of surprise they wouldn't have without us."

Even with the helicopters, the battle is very real for infantrymen and aviators alike.

"Their threat is our threat," said Capt. Samuel Redding, commander of A Company, 3rd Battalion, 158th Aviation and a former infantryman. "If they're worried about IEDs, so are we. A lot of our door gunners tell me that if we're going in shooting they want to get off with the infantry guys and help."

The door gunners are trained to lay down suppressive fire and to help land the aircraft during hostile landings. During the few critical moments the helicopter is on the ground and Soldiers are focused on the assault, it's the door gunner's job to keep everyone safe.

"Sometimes when I'm flying with the ground Soldiers, it hits me," said Sgt. Steven Kellam, a Task Force Storm crew chief and door gunner. "I look around at the infantry guys we're about to land with, and wonder how many of them are going to be riding back with us."

"The majority of my guys don't even think about it as being 'tip-of-the-spear-type' dangerous duty," said Redding. "They get to see the guys who are out there eating dirt. They see the guys who are really working."

The aviation side involves more than just the Soldiers in the helicopters though, said Macklin.

"These are very complex missions with a lot of moving pieces," he said. "During an assault, the entire battalion is at work, day or night ... everything from planning the mission; tracking the battle in the tactical operations center; refueling aircraft, or maintenance -- it's one big collective effort."

The key, though, said Macklin, is a habitual relationship with ground commanders. For an operation to run smoothly, the Soldiers in the air and on the ground have to be on the same page.

"We play a big part, but we're just one piece of the operation," said Hall. "These guys on the ground are the ones doing the real work."

But when the pieces come together, Macklin said, the element of surprise, the efficiency, and the speed create a lethal package.

"We've become a big part of the combined arms team," he said.

At 2:10 a.m. the cool air is still filled with dust as the roar of the aircraft has once again given way to a distant sound of a single helicopter.

But the village itself is different. What was recently a militia stronghold is now quickly becoming a safe Iraqi village. And the insurgents never knew what hit them.

Entire F-15 fleet returning to flight

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN) -- Gen. John D.W. Corley, commander, Air Combat Command, sent a message Nov. 21 to F-15 pilots, weapons systems officers and maintenance professionals outlining the actions the Air Force has taken following the Nov. 2 F-15C Eagle mishap that resulted in the loss of the aircraft.

The message reads:

(Quote) Airmen

On 2 November, the Air Force experienced an F-15C mishap resulting in the loss of the aircraft. The circumstances of the mishap indicated catastrophic structural failure. On 3 November, the Air Force grounded its F-15 fleet. This decision was not made lightly. It was the right thing to do based upon the nature of this mishap.

Grounding a fleet of nearly 700 front-line aircraft has significant operational impact. Total force, joint and coalition partners were able to mitigate that impact.

The cause of the mishap remains under investigation. Air Force maintenance and operations professionals and industry experts are working with the accident investigation board to examine all aspects of the mishap. At the same time, structural engineers have conducted in-depth technical reviews of data from multiple sources. We continue to proceed in an inclusive and transparent fashion to derive, as best as humanly possible, the cause of the mishap.

We evaluated the grounded fleet. First, we focused on the F-15Es. They are the newest F-15s and have been exposed to less stress. They are structurally different than the A-D models. Problems identified during years of A-D model usage were designed "out" of the E-model. Given these differences, and after consultation with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center and the AIB, we returned the F-15E fleet to flying status following successful inspections.

Next, we concentrated on the remainder of the grounded fleet. The AIB is now focused on the area just aft of the cockpit and slightly forward of the inlets. Warner Robins ALC mandated a thorough inspection and repair of all structural components in this area. I have directed each F-15 aircraft be inspected and cleared before returning to operational status. Today, ACC issued (a flight crew information file) and Warner Robins ALC issued an Operational Supplemental Tech Order to further direct and guide your pre-flight and post-flight actions.

The F-15 is a formidable war fighting aircraft and workhorse for our Air Force. I applaud each and every Eagle pilot, WSO and maintainer for the meticulous and disciplined way you approached this challenge. Mission accomplishment entails risk. Together, we must remain vigilant and focused on operational risk management to mitigate this risk. Airmen speak up when they see something wrong. I rely on you to ensure all operations and maintenance parameters are in order before flight. The F-15 community can take great pride in the fact that you have met this challenge. We must deliver air power on time, on target given our overriding duty to defend our Country. (End Quote)

There are nearly 700 F-15s in the Air Force inventory. As of today, 219 of the 224 E-models and 294 of the 442 A-D models in the inventory have been inspected and cleared for flight.

In releasing the F-15 fleet to fly, General Corley said the Air Force was accepting a degree of risk.

"We accept this risk because of our overriding duty to provide unrivaled combat air power for the defense of our Country," the general said.

'Dagger' Brigade Passes Mission in Iraq to 101st Airborne Division

BY Sgt. James P. Hunter 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division Public Affairs Office

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq -- U.S. Army Europe's 2nd "Dagger" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division handed over responsibility for operations in northwest Baghdad to the 2nd "Strike" Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) from Fort Campbell, Ky., during a transfer of authority ceremony here Nov. 17.

"... It is with great humility, but with great confidence in the abilities of the 'Strike' Brigade Combat Team, that I relinquish responsibility for coalition force efforts in northwest Baghdad," said Col. J.B. Burton, commander of the Schweinfurt, Germany-based "Dagger" Brigade. "We have achieved the tasks that you put before us, but we leave knowing that there is still much to do."

The "Dagger" Brigade helped transition a hostile northwest Baghdad from a heavy, kinetic and costly fight to a secured population rid of extremists, criminals and terrorists, he said. Throughout their 15-month deployment they played a vital role moving Iraqis into the political process and the formal reconstruction of Baghdad and Iraq.

Burton said all Iraqis, regardless of sect or religion, received equal municipal services, education, opportunity and a total improved quality of life.

The "Dagger" Brigade capitalized "on the opportunities provided by the noble efforts and sacrifices of coalition forces, Iraqi security forces and brave Iraqi citizens who have delivered an opening for enduring victory and a future where Iraqis are not measured by religious sect or special group affiliation," Burton said. "Our combined efforts have set the conditions necessary for re-integration, reconciliation and reconstruction here."

Though the day was a great one for the "Dagger" Soldiers, who will be returning home to their families in Germany, said Col. William B. Hickman, commander of the 2nd "Strike" Brigade, "It is truly a great day to be a 'Strike' Soldier and now a part of the First Team serving in Multi-National Division - Baghdad."

The brigade redeployed from south Baghdad in September 2006 and spent the last 12 months preparing themselves for this deployment where they look to, through combined efforts, set the conditions for a strong, prosperous Iraqi future.

"We know this mission comes at a pivotal time and that our actions will make a lasting impact," Hickman continued. "I know our Soldiers and units are ready for the upcoming challenges and opportunities to serve with the Iraqi security forces."

Friday, November 23, 2007

Milcom HF Frequency List - 11/23/2007

For all those doomsday radio hobbyist who say that HF utility listening is dead, below our latest compiled list of HF Milcom frequencies monitored at in the Btown Monitoring Post, sent to this reporter by other monitors, or compiled from other various reports.

Recently some of our HF frequency lists have been reposted in total on at least one online newsgroup (a Russian radio forum). Material on this list is exculsive content. You are free to repost a link to this list, but not the frequency list itself. All frequencies below are in kilohertz (kHz).

2273.0 UK Combined Cadet Force/Army Cadet Force USB
2413.0 UK Combined Cadet Force/Army Cadet Force USB
2569.5 French Army Fort de Bicetre CW
2768.0 UK Combined Cadet Force/Army Cadet Force USB
2817.0 French Army Fort de Bicetre CW
3848.0 UK Combined Cadet Force/Army Cadet Force USB
3855.0 Russian Military CW
4000.0 National Guard Virginia ALE/USB
4481.0 US DoD Tri Service MARS HF ALE Network ALE/USB
4550.0 Netherlands Military ALE/USB
4920.5 UK Combined Cadet Force/Army Cadet Force USB
5471.5 French Army Fort de Bicetre CW
5500.0 US Army Task Force Talon Afghanistan HF ALE Net ALE/USB
5762.0 Hungarian Army ALE/USB
5770.0 Netherlands Military ALE/USB
6562.0 Unknown military Khandahar, Afghanistan ALE/USB
7003.0 US Army European Aviation Net ALE/USB
7905.0 Romanian Military Linked Protected ALE/USB
8047.0 National Guard STARC Nationwide Net ALE/USB
8101.5 US Army Iraq Net ALE/USB*
9013.0 US Army European Aviation Net ALE/USB*
9190.0 US Army Task Force Talon Afghanistan HF ALE Net ALE/USB
10350.0 UK TASCOMM ALE Network ALE/USB
10360.0 UK TASCOMM ALE Network ALE/USB
10816.5 National Guard STARC Nationwide Net ALE/USB
16338.5 National Guard STARC Nationwide Net ALE/USB

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Time to Give Thanks to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsman

For those seeking a quick way to show appreciation for troops' serving far from home this holiday season, look no further than "Giving Thanks," a new initiative from the Defense Department's America Supports You program.

America Supports You connects citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.

"This is a simple way to connect our citizens to our (servicemembers) using modern technology," Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and public liaison, said of the text messaging program.

The program officially kicked off Nov. 17 and concludes at midnight PST Nov. 22. Between those times, people wishing to express gratitude to the troops for their service can text a brief message to 89279. Each text message sent will receive a response from an active-duty servicemember in return.

Major mobile wireless providers, including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile, will provide access to the Giving Thanks text messaging program.

"We know that thousands of families will be sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner and thinking about loved ones who are far away from home serving their country," Ms. Barber said. "We are counting on other American families to take a moment during their holiday celebration to think of those families and their family members who are serving and say, 'Thanks.'

"The reassurance that others are thinking about them will mean a lot to our troops," she added.

Those who send a message during the six days of the Giving Thanks program also will be directed to the America Supports You Web site. There, they'll find a sampling of messages from the public and a running tally of how many messages have been received. They'll also be able to read messages from the troops.

Some servicemembers in Iraq and Afghanistan already have sent messages thanking the public for the support. Angie, an Airman serving in Iraq, wrote: "Your support means so much, especially during the holidays. God Bless."

Troops of Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan also wrote to express their appreciation for the continued support they receive.

"To all the great Americans who go out of their way to support all the Soldiers of the Combined Security Transition Command in Afghanistan, thank you."

In an effort to reach the Hispanic community, which is represented in large numbers in the armed services, America Supports You is working with Interlex, an advertising, marketing and public relations firm with multicultural capabilities.

"What we are doing is complementing the general market efforts to mobilize the Hispanic community to become involved in America Supports You," said Rolando Rodriguez, Interlex's managing director for public relations and community-based outreach. "Obviously that's important because many Hispanics do consume different press than the general market would."

The firm's goal is to inform Hispanic communities that many Hispanic youth are serving in the military. "There (also) are a number of Hispanic families that (will be) impacted during the holidays because (the servicemembers) are not sitting at the table with them, so it's important to show their appreciation," Rodriguez said.

MTV Tr3s, an American Spanish-language network launched in September 2006, is one way the firm hopes to reach America's Hispanic community. The network reaches 30 million homes and 6.5 million Hispanic households across the country, Rodriguez said.

"MTV Tr3s has Mi TRL, (and) what they're going to do is ... live reads on their video countdown, which is their signature program," he said. "They're going to talk about, 'Hey, support this initiative.'"

Mi TRL also will run a banner at the bottom of the screen promoting the text messaging program. In addition, the program will air a full screen of information on how to thank troops.

Interlex USA also is working to involve Hispanic celebrities to let the Hispanic community know that thanking a servicemember for their sacrifices this holiday season is as easy as sending a text message.

"When we talk about text messaging, Hispanics ... out-pace all groups," Mr. Rodriguez said, adding the text messaging group tends to be younger, much like MTV Tr3s viewers, who range from 12-34.

He added that his team is working to get the message out to Hispanic communities in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and Dallas through Spanish-language media outlets, as well as entertainment and sporting venues.

These are the same types of venues that will carry information about the America Supports You Giving Thanks program to the general market, officials said.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

US Military concerns persist over January Chinese anti-satellite test

US concerns about China's military buildup have only been heightened by a Chinese anti-satellite test in January that has yet to be explained, the top US military leader said Tuesday.

"It speaks to a higher level of concern that many of us in the United States have about what is the strategic intent of the investment, the high tech investment the Chinese government is making with respect to its military capability in the future," Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

China used a ballistic missile to intercept and destroy one of its own ageing weather satellites in low Earth orbit on January 11 in a test that demonstrated the vulnerability of US satellites.

Senior US military officials have said the test was a wake-up call and that China will be able to disrupt US military communications in a conflict within three years.

Chinese officials have responded to US questions about the test with bland assurances that it was not hostile and posed no threat, US officials have said.

China denies Kitty Hawk CSG access to Hong Kong

Reuters news service is reporting that China has refused permission for the USS Kitty Hawk CSG to visit Hong Kong for a long-planned Thanksgiving holiday visit, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday.

The Kitty Hawk group and its crew of 8,000 U.S. airmen and sailors had been expected in Hong Kong on Wednesday, but will now spend the holiday on the South China Sea.

Hundred of relatives of crew members of the USS Kitty Hawk had flown to Hong Kong to celebrate Thanksgiving with their loved ones. Hong Kong has been a regular port of call for U.S. sailors on "R & R" (rest and recuperation) since the Vietnam War.

"At present, it appears the USS Kitty Hawk strike group will not be making a port call in Hong Kong as previously planned as a result of a last minute denial by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs," State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson said.

The United States was pressing China for an explanation and to reconsider its decision, she added.

There are several possible sources of discontent that may have prompted the decision -- including U.S. plans to sell Taiwan a $940 million upgrade to its missile system and a meeting last month between President George W Bush and the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader who Beijing considers a traitor.

The Foreign Ministry in Beijing declined to make an immediate comment.

Last year, a Chinese submarine surfaced uncomfortably close to the Kitty Hawk near the Japanese island of Okinawa, an incident that highlighted the potential for friction between the two powers.

The move by Beijing coincides with "airspace controls" on Wednesday which Xinhua news agency said affected the air travel plans of 7,000 people in south and east China.

The controls were introduced for "unspecified reasons".

Bonhomme Richard ESG Returns to San Diego

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Alexia M. Riveracorrea, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Pacific

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), USS Denver (LPD 9), and USS Rushmore (LSD 47) returned home Nov. 19, after completing a seven and one-half month deployment in support of the global war on terrorism.

While deployed, ships from the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (BHRESG) conducted Maritime Security Operations alongside coalition partners to promote stability in the Persian Gulf.

"The primary mission of BHRESG was to complete maritime operations with partner nations such as Australia, Singapore, Kuwait, and others," said Capt. Rod Clark, commander Amphibious Squadron 7. "The deployment overall was a complete success."

The BHRESG patrolled international waters in the North Persian Gulf for four months, including the area around Iraq's two oil platforms.

"Working with other navies gave us the opportunity to get to know each other, and allows for a fostering relationship among nations," said Clark.

Clark praised Bonhomme Richard Sailors for their accomplishments during the deployment.

"Bravo Zulu, they did a fantastic job by completing the mission successfully," said Clark. "Each and every one worked not only for the Navy, but for the country as well."

Family and friends waited for Bonhomme Richard Sailors to disembark the ship after her return.

"I'm very excited to see my husband," said the wife of Electrician's Mate 1st Class Ron Fall. "It's a sense of fulfillment to have him back again."

The new fathers aboard had the privilege to be the first to disembark the ship, and meet with their families.

"It feels great to be with my family again, especially because I have a newborn," said Operation Specialist 3rd Class Luis Herrera. "It's hard to describe my feelings; it's a wonderful experience."

BHRESG was comprised of Amphibious Squadron 7, 13th Marine Expeditionary from Camp Pendleton, Calif., Bonhomme Richard, Denver, Rushmore, USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Chosin (CG 65), and USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93).

Air Guard officials break ground for new readiness center

by Tech. Sgt. Mike R. Smith, National Guard Bureau Public Affairs

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. (AFPN) -- Officials broke ground on a $52 million Air National Guard Readiness Center expansion here Nov. 19.

When completed, the four-story complex will unite the existing ANGRC here with its Air Guard offices in Arlington, Va.

Lt. Gen. Craig R. McKinley, Air National Guard director, said the expansion on Andrews reflects new realities in force protection since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"The reason we are here today is that, after 9/11, force protection became a major issue, especially in the city," he said. He explained that the Base Realignment and Closure commission moved government offices at risk of terrorist attack away from downtown areas.

An added benefit from the project is that the Air Guard will have all nine of its directorate offices under one roof. The directorates serve the Air Guard's day-to-day operations of 88 flying units and more than 200 geographically-separated units.

"It will give the commander of the ANGRC a chance to have a span of control over all the people that work for him, and it will streamline and make more orderly the process of command," McKinley said.

The centralized ANGRC campus will be occupied by more than 1,100 airmen and federal employees by September 2011. Clarke Construction of Bethesda, Md., has the contract for the expansion.

"It will be one of the most sustainable and energy efficient (buildings) that the Air Guard has built to date," said Ben Lawless, chief of the engineering division in the Air Guard's Installation and Mission Support directorate.

Energy-saving features include interior lighting that will adjust automatically with the amount of natural daylight. Storm water will be recycled and filtered through a special drainage system before it's discharged. Air conditioning and heating controls will be located at work stations and fed underneath the floor which, officials said, provides better occupant comfort and energy efficiency.

Officials will have the project certified by the U.S. Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which is a nationally-accepted benchmark for green buildings.

"It's going to set the example for energy conservation, which is really important to everyone," Mr. Lawless said. "I think it's also going to set the tone for the future of the Air Guard in terms of facilities that can be reconfigured for new occupants and new missions and functions."

Lawless explained that moveable wall partitions will allow occupants to simply reconfigure their office space to meet future mission requirements. Officials also hope to lay out an open-working environment that fosters teamwork.

The new building will be landscaped with a variety of native plants and trees, and it will be next to Conaway Hall, the existing ANGRC building.

Conaway Hall opened in 1985 and was renamed in 1991 after retired Lt. Gen. John Conaway. General Conaway, who attended the groundbreaking ceremony, is a former Air Guard director and chief of the National Guard Bureau. He helped advocate for the ANGRC's original construction. Prior to that, the initial activation of an Air Guard support center was in 1976.

HSC-22 Vertrep with the Bainbridge

In the MEDITERRANEAN SEA -- An MH-60S Seahawk, assigned to the "Sea Knights" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, Det. 2, transports supplies to the guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) during a vertical replenishment. Bainbridge is the acting flagship for Rear Adm. Michael K. Mahon, commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group (SNMG) 1. SNMG1 is one of NATO's four joint maritime task forces. (U.S. Navy photo By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Vincent J. Street)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Putin Blast NATO - Increases Strategic Nuc Forces Readiness

Associated Press reporter VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV is reporting that Russian President Vladimir Putin has ratcheted up the new Cold War rhetoric between Russia and the West. Putin said Tuesday that Russia's decision to suspend its participation in a key arms control treaty was a necessary response to NATO "muscle-flexing" near its frontiers.

"In violation of previous agreements, military resources of NATO members are being built up next to our borders. Of course, we cannot allow ourselves to remain indifferent to this obvious muscle-flexing," Putin said in televised remarks at a meeting of top military officials.

Russia has fiercely opposed U.S. plans to establish missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, and the deployment of U.S. and other NATO forces on the territory of former Soviet republics and satellite states in Europe.

As a counterproposal to the U.S. missile defense plans, Putin earlier this year offered the United States joint use of a Soviet-built, Russian-operated radar in Azerbaijan. Washington said it was studying the proposal, but U.S. officials said the radar couldn't be considered as a replacement for the sites in Poland and the Czech Republic.

"Regrettably, Russian proposals about the creation of a joint missile defense system with equal access for all its participants have remained unanswered," Putin said Tuesday.

Putin also warned that Russia also would increase the combat-readiness of its strategic nuclear forces to ensure a "swift and adequate response to any aggressor."

Supercarrier to air on Nat Geo Nov 27

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Torrey W. Lee, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs

Sailors, family members and guests watch the world premier of "Super Carrier: USS Ronald Reagan," presented by the National Geographic Channel. (US Navy Photo)

USS Ronald Reagan's (CVN 76) flight deck transformed from a mobile airport into a movie theater Nov. 13, as the National Geographic Channel premiered its newest documentary, "Supercarrier: USS Ronald Reagan."

The two-hour movie, which will air in high definition, Nov. 27 at 8 p.m., on the National Geographic Channel, features Ronald Reagan on its recent surge deployment in the 7th Fleet area of operations from January to April 2007.

National Geographic partnered with Indigo Films to send two video crews to live on board Ronald Reagan for three weeks during the deployment, shooting 150 hours of film to create the two-hour finished product.

"It was such a whirlwind trip, there was so much to take in," said Kathryn Gilbert, one of the documentary's producers.

Ronald Reagan provided Indigo's film crews complete access to film normal ship functions including flight operations, munitions handling and the everyday lifestyle of the crew.

"I feel like I could spend a month showing footage from the trip," said Gilbert. "How you encapsulate an aircraft carrier, and all the amazing people that make it work, into 90 minutes is impossible. We definitely did the best that we could."

Ronald Reagan's Command Master Chief, Master Chief (SW/AW) Jim Delozier, felt that the documentary was a great experience that would help the American public understand the military, especially the Navy.

"The aircraft carrier is the biggest asset of the U.S. Navy," said Delozier, "Anytime you come on an aircraft carrier and just watch flight operations, it gives people confidence in the Navy."

With the San Diego city skyline as an atmospheric back light, Ronald Reagan's crew ate popcorn on the flight deck, watching themselves as the stars in high-definition and Dolby surround sound. Sailors cheered when seeing themselves on the big screen.

"Our crew loved it," said Delozier. "We're gone for six months, back for a few months, and then gone again for another three months. The American people need to know, and they need to see our young Sailors that are doing these great things for the country."

"The documentary will show the traditional side of the Navy," said Ship's Serviceman 3rd Class Jessica Gutierrez, a Sailor on board Ronald Reagan. "It'll also show the new Navy. We have almost a whole new crew. [And at the end of surge] we were already at our best and ready."

As credits rolled across the screen, with a final shot of the Ronald Reagan making its way home, Sailors stood from their seats giving a standing ovation.

"It was amazing to see all the different people who came together to make this work," said Gilbert. "It was the Sailors, the crew, which made this an amazing experience. It's definitely about the crew, and it will be a memory I will not soon forget."

Ronald Reagan was commissioned in July 2003, making it the ninth and newest Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The ship is named for the 40th U.S. president; its motto, "Peace through Strength," was a recurring theme during the Reagan presidency.

Monday, November 19, 2007

MEDEVAC unit completes relief in place

By Sgt. 1st Class Rick Emert; 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
Medical evacuation UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters sit on the airfield at Camp Taji, Iraq. The MEDEVAC Soldiers from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, transferred authority of the MEDEVAC mission for the Baghdad area to Company C, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. (US Army Photo)

CAMP TAJI, Iraq - The unit that has performed arguably the most difficult yet rewarding mission in Iraq is on its way home after 15 months.

The air medical evacuation Soldiers from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, completed a transfer of authority Nov. 8 with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division at Camp Taji.

The Company C "Witchdoctors," based out of Fort Carson, Colo., flew 3,400 MEDEVAC missions and moved about 5,500 patients in need of care that ranged from routine to urgent, according to Reno, Nev., native Lt. Col. Christopher Joslin, commander of 2nd "Lobo" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB.

"The motto of the MEDEVAC is 'So that others may live,' and it is no boast or overstatement that when they fly, Soldiers don't die," Joslin said. "They are the best of the best, fought and served valiantly in the main effort fight of Operation Iraqi Freedom, setting records in mission accomplishment that no other unit can come close to claiming."

The 84 Soldiers provided MEDEVAC support for the Baghdad area. Although the unit is assigned to the Fort Hood-based Lobo battalion, its current home base is Fort Carson, Colo. Prior to deploying to Iraq in 2006, the unit was called the 571st Medical Company (Air Ambulance).

The 1st ACB and 3rd Inf. Div. MEDEVAC companies conducted a nontraditional relief in place since the 3rd Inf. Div. unit had been in Iraq for several months conducting the MEDEVAC mission in a different area.

"They are assuming our battle space and extending their lines of coverage," said Corpus Christi, Texas, native Maj. Guy Gierhart, commander of Co. C, 2-227th General Support Aviation Battalion. "We transferred property and took some of their pilots on duty with us."

Additionally, the 3rd Inf. Div. had covered for the 1st Cav. Div. MEDEVAC unit earlier in the year when several of the latter's aircraft sustained battle damage and could not fly.

"We have been pulling MEDEVAC duty (in Iraq) for five months, and we picked up the mission for this area for a week previously," said Maj. Scott Prescott, commander of Co. C, 2-3 Aviation Regiment, based out of Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga. "We worked with them during that time. Our pilots trained with their pilots to assume the mission then."

It was a long, difficult year for the 1st ACB MEDEVAC Soldiers.

"The extension hit us all pretty hard," said Gierhart, who performed the MEDEVAC mission on two other deployments in Iraq as well. "I think this deployment was harder because I was the commander this time."

The unit, which spent all of its days saving the lives of critically injured service members and civilians, lost one of its Soldiers in an indirect fire attack on Camp Taji.

"The most difficult part of the deployment and I think what we will all remember the most about the deployment was the loss of Sgt. William Brown," Gierhart said. "When you have to pick up one of your own (on a MEDEVAC mission), it's difficult."

Despite the difficult mission, Gierhart said he wouldn't trade places with anyone.

"I'm really proud to be part of this unit," he said. "All of the people that were part of this unit made it happen. The mission was difficult at times, but they always made it happen."

For Joslin, their departure is bittersweet.

"They are heroes - they deserve a hero's a welcome, a handshake and a thank you," Joslin said. "While I am so proud of them and so glad that they will be home for Thanksgiving, they've become part of my family, and I am going to miss them when they leave."

New Black Hawk Unveils Latest Helo Technology

BY J.D. Leipold
The Army's latest version of the Black Hawk, the UH-60M, in silhouette lands at the Pentagon's helicopter pad. (US Army Photo)

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 16, 2007) - The Army's latest version of the Black Hawk helicopter, the UH-60M, paid a call on the Pentagon Wednesday to show off its various upgraded technical capabilities.

While this was the "M" model's maiden flight into the Washington area, the newest version was introduced to the Army in late October when a single bird flew from the Sikorsky factory in Connecticut directly to Fort Campbell, Ky., for a preview to the 30 Black Hawks which begin delivery to the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division next month.

The UH-60M will gradually replace the 25-year old "L" model and become the Army's medium-lift helicopter capable of assault, medevac and cargo missions as well as command and control, aerial sustainment, and search and rescue. It will also be looked at as a follow-on helo to special operations units according to Chief Warrant Officer 4 Gene McNeill, who is presently serving as a test pilot and trainer on the "M" model at Sikorsky.

CWO4 McNeill, with two Iraq tours behind him and a 20-year veteran of the "L" model has made four cross-country trips and logged some 40 hours of cockpit time. He's impressed and a believer in the new technology, particularly the digital avionics suite that makes the bird more user-friendly to crew and passengers regardless of mission.

"The Mike model will do everything the Lima will do... but the "M" will do it so much better," he said. "What I like about this aircraft is the extreme precise accuracy of navigation using imbedded GPS and INS technologies. That translates to increased situational awareness on the battlefield at all times.

"With a digital moving map you know exactly where you are with relationship to the earth; it enables you with ease and comfort to navigate, fly and execute your mission a lot better because you also don't have to do manual calculations; the aircraft's digital suite makes everything faster and they can be done while the aircraft is on-the-fly," Chief McNeill said. "That also allows one pilot to fly the aircraft while the other serves as the mission operator."

Another digital advantage "M" pilots will have at their disposal is the capability of downloading all flight information from an office computer to a two-gigabyte PCMCIA card which can then be inserted into one of four slots for up to eight gigabytes of data, then downloaded to the Black Hawk's computer system.

"What that means is I can walk out to my aircraft with a flight plan and my entire mission loaded onto the card... all my intelligence data, my frequencies, my waypoints, then dump them into my aircraft and load it into the flight management system," CWO4 McNeill said. "You can't do that in the "L" model."

Another element to the new Black Hawk is its "threat intervisibility" system. This system allows for terrain data and known enemy in the field plotted on the map via a grid location. It allows the pilot to keep the aircraft masked below terrain at stand-off distances or threat engagement zones.

"If I climb too high, the system will flash red meaning that I'm within range of various bad-guy weapons systems, so it assists me by telling me to fly lower and keeps me out of harm's way," CWO4 McNeill said. "The classified system contains known capabilities of friendly and enemy weapons systems. That means we can plan our routes and have a decreased probability of being shot at... that's a huge advantage."

The multi-function display can be switched almost as quickly as it takes to press the button - from cautionary advisory pages, to maps, pilot instrumentation, calculator pages - all those screens are interchangeable and compressed into computers without needing to have extra gauges or having to spend valuable time making calculations such as fuel burn-rate.

"I can now determine based on head winds whether I'm going to make it there, which allows me to plan alternate routes on-the-fly; those are things that would have taken several minutes on the "L," but now I can do them in a matter of seconds," CWO4 McNeill said.

Chief McNeill, who is also a maintenance officer, said another major difference between the "L" and "M" models is the onboard Integrated Vehicle Health Management System or IVHMS, a series of sensors throughout the aircraft which constantly collect information crucial to the Black Hawk's health.

"If it rotates, gyrates, vibrates, it's been processed by the IVHMS and can be downloaded and extracted," he said. "To do my routine maintenance balancing adjustments, all I have to do is hit buttons and the computers, come up with vibration diagnostics, so I no longer have to bring ancillary gear; the aircraft will do a self-diagnosis.

"So, if there's a transmission ready to blow, we'll know before it happens. That system in itself will pay for itself down the road as the Army moves toward conditioned maintenance, where we may change something out before they break rather than after," he said.

Comparing the old to the new, the "L" and "M" models look similar, he said. The shape is pretty much the same, though the "M" rotor blades are different. The new helicopter has what are called anhedral blades which generate more lift and hover capability. The rotor system also has a wide-cored composite blade, which can stand up better to enemy gunfire and the antenna configuration is a little different. Each of the two General Electric 701D engines generates 2,000 shaft horsepower versus 1,900 horsepower from the "L." Yet the "M" is lighter.

The "M" model also has new seats for the crew and pilots who sometime suffer from back injuries as a result of hard landings. Crash survivability is also better for the crew, CWO4 McNeil Pilot seats contain variable-load energy attenuators, basically customized shock absorbers which allow the pilots to digitally dial in their weight. The pilot and crew seats will then "stroke" on seat support poles.

"In an unfortunate crash or hard landing sequence, everyone on board is going to be a lot safer because the seats are designed to go up, down, left, right, forward, aft and they swivel," Chief McNeill said. "The seat will actually stroke all the way down to prevent spinal injuries; they work like shock absorbers."

Chief McNeill believes "L" model pilots will find the transition to the "M" to be smooth, easy and that it will take about 15 hours of flight time.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Go Navy - Beat Army

ARABIAN SEA - Sailors and Marines shout "Go Navy, Beat Army" during the filming of a commercial for the Navy vs. Army football game, which will be aired Dec. 1 on CBS. The commercial will be entered into a contest held by U.S. Navy media officials and, if selected, will be aired the night of the game. The USS Enterprise and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 are underway on a scheduled deployment in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom and maritime security operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kiona M. Mckissack)

The Old Chief says -- Go Navy - Beat Army

History Channel 'Modern Marvels' film crew visits Schriever

by Staff Sgt. Don Branum, 50th Space Wing Public Affairs

Blog editor note: I have been in the 2SOS control center for a tour several years ago. What a neat operation and an even neater experience to be in the same building that controls the majority of the US military satellites. It was part of a tour of Schriever and NORAD's Cheyenne Mountain conducted by the Air Force for the MT editorial staff. Truly a journey of a lifetime and a milcom hobbyist rush.

Lt. Col. Kurt Kuntzelman, commander of the 2nd Space Operations Squadron here, discusses GPS on the record with Kaylan Eggert of Actuality Productions Oct. 30 for a segment on the History Channel's "Modern Marvels" TV show. The segment will be part of an episode featuring technology that also includes the World Wide Web, DVD and digital video recorders. The episode is scheduled to air Feb. 14, 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Don Branum)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Is GPS a modern marvel? A three-person film crew from Actuality Productions visited the base Oct. 30 to find out.

The crew visited the 2nd Space Operations Squadron here and interviewed 2nd SOPS Commander Lt. Col. Kurt Kuntzelman for an upcoming episode of the History Channel's "Modern Marvels" TV series. The episode is scheduled to air Feb. 14, 2008, said Actuality Productions producer Kaylan Eggert.

"We want to capture how the operations center works," Ms. Eggert said. "That's how we operate - we like to be the fly on the wall."

The first experimental GPS satellite launched Feb. 22, 1978. Former President Ronald Reagan made GPS available to the public in 1983 after Soviet interceptors shot down a Korean Airline jet that was in restricted airspace.

Applications of GPS technology were few and far-between until the first Persian Gulf conflict. That changed when the Gulf War coalition VII Corps used GPS to aid its "left hook" maneuver, surprising an Iraqi army that considered its southern deserts unnavigable.

Former President Bill Clinton turned off selective availability in 2000, allowing civil users to access GPS' high-quality precision navigation. Since then, its use has taken off. The timing signal is now used for financial transactions, for synchronizing power systems and cell phone towers, and even for regulating traffic signals. The navigation signal sees such diverse uses as automated farming equipment, small-diameter bombs, artillery systems, airlines and the space shuttle.

Some of these applications came as a surprise to the Actuality Productions crew.

"I knew GPS had a lot of uses, but I didn't know you used it at the gas pump," remarked Kem Stralka, the crew's sound expert.

The GPS segment will be a portion of the overall episode focused on the technological marvels of the 1990s, Ms. Eggert said.

"The main thing we do is explain how things work - how a little receiver is able to tell you where you are," she said.

Other segments in the episode will feature the development of DVDs, digital video recorders and the World Wide Web. Each episode requires about a week of preproduction, eight to 12 days of filming and two weeks of post-production.

But is GPS a modern marvel? When you consider that it supports more than 1 billion users and is estimated to provide about $30 billion in the world wide maket in equipment and services by 2008, the answer is an unequivocal yes, Colonel Kuntzelman said.

"GPS is the world's gold standard for all-weather, day-and-night, 24/7, 365-days-a-year precise positioning, navigation and time transfer," he said. "GPS is absolutely a modern marvel, and we have the world's best active-duty and Reserve Airmen, government civilians and contractors, all working as one team to make it happen."