Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras

Pentagon officials say the situation at Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras is calm and the U.S. military is not involved in any activities other than its designated mission.

You can monitor activity on HF from in and around the Soto Cano base. More information is available on this blog at this page http://mt-milcom.blogspot.com/2007/08/skywatch-net.html

And in a related story

U.S. Base in Honduras on Shut-down Following Uprising

By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON - There are no current threats to U.S. servicemembers serving in Honduras following last week's ouster of the Honduran president, U.S. Southern Command officials said today.

The 600 American soldiers, sailors and airmen based at Soto Cano Air Base are staying on the base and not conducting exercises with the Honduran military, said Robert Appin, deputy director for public information and outreach at Southern Command in Miami.

The Honduran military reportedly ousted President Manuel Zelaya on June 28. President Barack Obama has expressed concern over the development and said the Hondurans need to work the problem out.

The last off-base operation was June 26 when U.S. servicemembers concluded a medical readiness exercise, Appin said.

Army Col. Richard A. Juergens, commander of Soto Cano, ordered the air base closed following Zelaya's ouster. "No one is allowed off base except for emergency situations," Appin said. "All travel is restricted."

U.S. forces have served in Honduras since the early 1980s. A mix of active and reserve component servicemembers work with local forces and local institutions. Servicemembers deploy for either six months or a year to Soto Cano, Appin said.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Essex Arrives in Cairns

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Greg Johnson, USS Essex Public Affairs

CAIRNS, Australia (NNS) -- The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) arrived in Cairns June 28.

The visit is the ship's first ever stop in Cairns and will serve as an opportunity for Essex Sailors and Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to experience the the local culture prior to the commencement of Talisman Saber 2009 (TS09), a biennial, bilateral exercise designed to enhance interoperability between U.S. and Australian forces.

"Flexibility is key to mission success," said Essex Commanding Officer Capt. Brent Canady. "We're happy to be here in Cairns and have the opportunity to experience a different part of Queensland. Our Sailors are very eager to explore the city and meet the people."

Essex's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department will offer 25 distinctive tours to highlight some of the best recreational opportunities in the city. Essex Sailors and Marines can explore the vibrant waters of the Great Barrier Reef, catch a bird's-eye view of Cairns' landscape in a hot-air balloon and participate any various other activities.

"Our goal has always been to offer a variety of packages that highlight the culture and scenery of the countries we visit," said Mick Hultz, Essex's afloat recreation specialist. "There is so much to see and do in Australia and I hope people take advantage of that. It's really a great opportunity to see things that you can't see anywhere else."

The ship last visited Australia during exercise Talisman Saber 2007, making this visit a first for the majority of the Essex crew.

"I can't wait to see the country, I hear great things about Australia," said Boatswain Mate Seaman Jeffrey Giraldo. "All the foreign countries we go to offer something new."

Essex departed its homeport of Sasebo, Japan, June 12 for TS09.

Essex was commissioned on Oct. 17, 1992, and is capable of carrying 1,200 Sailors and 1,800 Marines. It is 844 feet long, can travel at 24+ knots and displaces 40,650 tons.

During TS09, Essex will have three Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCAC) from Assault Craft Unit 5. LCACs are high-speed, over-the-beach fully amphibious landing craft, capable of carrying a 60-75 ton payload. They are used to transport weapons systems, equipment, cargo and personnel from ship to shore and across the beach.

Essex is the lead ship of the only forward-deployed U.S. amphibious ready group (ARG) and serves as the flagship for Combined 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.

BHR ARG/MEU Team Completes Force Protection Exercise

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines from the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and embarked Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) 11 completed a two-day anti-terrorism/force protection (AT/FP) training exercise at Naval Base San Diego June 25-26.

"The training exercise tested the [ARG] in a lot of different scenarios that they may find themselves in overseas," said Lt. Mike McGee, the ARG's senior force protection officer. "A lot of the scenarios thrown at the ships were worst case, and they really challenged the ships."

Sailors and Marines from the ARG's three amphibious vessels, the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47), trained to detect and defend sporadic notional threats on and around base piers.

"Commander, 3rd Fleet was in charge of the entire exercise," said McGee. "They put some really cool events in there to make the ships think and act. It was a lot of fun for the Sailors because they got to do a lot and see a lot of things they don't usually see."

The Bonhomme Richard ARG/MEU team is scheduled to begin a series of major at-sea training evolutions prior to the start of a routine deployment.

The upcoming integrated training exercises are designed to enable the ARG/MEU to work as a team and execute a range of operations during deployment to include security cooperation, theatre engagement and missions that help maintain freedom of the seas, prevent war and fulfill the maritime strategy.

Bonhomme Richard ARG is augmented by various support elements. These include Tactical Squadron 12, Detachment (DET) 2; the "Wild Cards" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, DET 3; Assault Craft Units (ACU) 1, DET B and ACU 5 DET F; Beachmaster Unit 1, DET B; and Fleet Surgical Team 9.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Exercise Southern Seas Underway

A surfaced Peruvian submarine is underway with the guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59) during a multi-national group sail involving the Peruvian and U.S. navies. Kauffman is deployed with Southern Seas 2009, part of the U.S. Southern Command-led Partnership of the Americas mission focusing on strengthening relationship in the Southern Command area of Focus. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Grieco/Released)

151st ARW participates in Global Thunder - Lastest Update/Comment

Editor's Note: Contrary to fanatical post I have been told about elsewhere on the Internet, based on the intel that I have put together, the recent heavy NAOC/TACAMO/EAM activity was "all" part of Global Thunder, a regular USSTRATCOM military exercise. No it wasn't due to situation in Iran, no not North Korea, and definitly no not the Hondurian coup! You folks need to wrap your tinfoil on your heads a bit tighter, get a grip and use some common sense.

This version of Global Thunder involved the 8th AF and Task Force 294 with the tanker mission. This year the USAF got away from the command post exercises of the recent past and back to force exercises (FTX).

by Maj. Krista DeAngelis, 151st ARW/PA

SALT LAKE CITY -- The clock strikes zero-six-thirty as members of the 151st Air Refueling Wing report for their monthly Unit Training Assembly June 27.

It's unusually early for a drill weekend, but the base is buzzing with activity as Airmen prepare for the U.S. Strategic Command exercise known as Global Thunder.

Global Thunder is the command's major nuclear exercise that includes command post activities as well as force generation and flying operations. The 151st ARW's nuclear support mission includes the air refueling of flying assets. This weekend, Airmen from the wing will run through the process of generating aircraft and aircrews to support that mission.

"With the Air Force's emphasis on nuclear enterprise, it's important for us to be up to speed on our nuclear support mission," said Col. Kelvin Findlay, 151st ARW commander.

Security forces and aircrew alike are poised to respond to the exercise launch message at any time. The wing has even set up a Crisis Action Team with commanders who can coordinate the exercise details.

"The exercise and generation process kicked off early this week," explained Colonel Findlay. "The Guard has simulated some of the processes, but this weekend our aircrews and maintainers will be going through briefings, pre-flight checklists, getting aircraft ready, starting engines and getting ready to taxi."

Capt. Mike Flocco from the 151st ARW Command Post has been integrally involved in the exercise on the operational side. His job is to monitor the aircrews, make sure they are in the right places and be accountable for everyone.

"We give briefings on the scenario and the exercise runs its course," he explained. "We respond and adapt as necessary with our aircrews and airplanes."

"A lot of agencies on base were gearing up and preparing for the exercise," continued Captain Flocco. "Some of the agencies involved include life support, supply, intel, wing plans, security forces, maintenance and command post."

Due to the recent issues within the nuclear community, the active-duty Air Force has recently implemented "no-notice" inspections at nuclear bases. In response to the possibility the Guard may also implement short-notice inspections, the 151st ARW initiated this month's Tanker Strategic Aircraft Regeneration Team exercise.

"It's important we learn lessons from the exercise, and we've already seen some mistakes," Col. Findlay, 151st ARW commander said. "Communication is always a problem...but we always learn new things every time."

By late afternoon, the exercise has run its course with the generated aircraft and aircrews responding as required. Aircrew and support personnel alike are tired, but happy with yet another successful exercise.

"Everyone worked effectively to accomplish the mission, and the agencies worked very well together," said Captain Flocco. "Nowadays, our nuclear mission is more critical than ever with the current global situation and escalation of world tensions."

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Air Force Announces Fiscal 2010 Force Structure Realignments

Today the U.S. Air Force announced its proposed force structure realignment for fiscal 2010. It reflects adjustments which will provide adequate resources to accomplish the Air Force mission.

"The force structure announcement reflects our best effort to meet the expanding Air Force mission areas and growing joint demands,” said Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff.

It includes a summary of military and civilian personnel changes and reassignment of aircraft at Air Force bases for the upcoming fiscal year. It does not include programmatic actions in fiscal 2011 and beyond.

“We’ve made some hard choices,” Schwartz said. “However, we believe this is the best overall design to meet America's national security needs and support to the joint fight."

The announcement specifies the force structure changes experienced by the Total Force-Air Force active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve. Implementation of these actions will occur only after completion of appropriate environmental analyses.

For more details about the fiscal 2010 Force Structure realignment go to http://www.defenselink.mil/news/d20090626FY2010tab1.pdf and

HST and the VMFA-312 Checkerboards Underway for COMPUTEX

Flight deck personnel give a thumbs-up as an F/A 18 from the Checkerboards of Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 312 launches from the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Harry S. Truman is underway in the Atlantic Ocean conducting a Composite Training Unit Exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua A. Moore/Released)

Navy SEALS, TF-49 Pilots Conduct Joint Training During NE 09

By Lance Cpl. Ryan A. Rholes, Northern Edge Joint Information Bureau Public Affairs

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska (NNS) -- Thirteen operators from a West-coast based SEAL team worked hand and hand with Army pilots from Task Force 49, 1-52 Aviation Battalion, Bravo Company to perform final checks on equipment during a training evolution designed to promote and develop interoperability June 15.

The exercise was part of Exercise Northern Edge 2009 (NE09), which is one of a series of U.S. Pacific Command exercises that prepare joint forces to respond to crises in the Asian Pacific region.

Pilots aboard the Chinook CH-47D used this evolution to practice troop transportation and dropping troops while using a two-wheel landing.

"Troops transportation is a large part of what we do, but something we have not been able to train for lately," said Capt. Thomas Pierce, Chinook pilot.
"Having these guys in the back added an element of realism unattainable with our ground units currently deployed."

Landing on two wheels allows pilots to drop troops in confined spaces that do not allow for conventional landings, added Pierce.

Although the training evolution provided a good training opportunity for the Army pilots, they were not the only ones who gained from the experience.

"We rarely get the chance to work with the Chinooks, so this is a good chance to familiarize ourselves with the airframe, and how to get on it and off it quickly," said Darrin, a SEAL who's rank and last name are withheld to protect his identity. "We use this airframe to get us to the fight and to get us out."

The pilots inserted the SEALs at three different locations. At each location, the SEAL team practiced exiting the aircraft quickly, establishing security and properly reboarding the aircraft while maintaining a security element. This evolution is one of several the SEAL team will participate in while attending NE09.

St. Thomas 2009 Airshow Report

I would like to thank Cat Balue for the report below from the St. Thomas airport.

116.0000 used extensively by the Canadian Snow Birds. when regrouping with the main body of planes, they used this frequency.

122.2500 used by all aircraft at the show, very busy.

122.7000 St Thomas main airport frequency.

242.6000 used by Snow Birds when performing.

272.1000 used by the Snow Birds on the way to the airshow and used during their practice session.

Other frequency used by can identify who used them other than the planes must have been at the air show.

236.6000 266.3000

323.3000 used by Toronto Maple ( not familiar with the name but it involved about three F18's.

333.3000 also used by T.M. this is also a frequency, that I have listened to over the last year, it seems to be quite active. I find that this frequency is used a lot year round.

After the airshow some planes went back to thier respctive bases and this is what I heard.

225.7000 was used to hand off the Snow Birds from 135.6250 (Toronto Center)

294.5000 Hawk 11 was handed off to this frequency on another Toronto Center frequency.

135.3000 (294.5000 is also used year round)

Ellsworth AFB 2009 Airshow Report

From a MNP gang up north, here is a report on the Ellsworth AFB 2009 Airshow. Thanks guys.

Just as the Thunderbirds started flying, they used 141.0750 (AM), 235.2500, and 216.9750 MHz (audio from planes).

Also had traffic on 139.8000 MHz, ref: "5 and 6 are on the deck," but not sure if TB maintenance or whomever. Possibly had 413.1000 (one hit) and 416.7250 MHz (very weak).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Homeland Defense, U.S. Fleet Forces Tested in Exercise Ardent Sentry '09

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Sonya Ansarov, U.S. Fleet Forces Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- U.S. Fleet Forces Command's (USFF) Maritime Operations Center (MOC) successfully displayed their ability to support their combatant commander in maritime homeland defense during the combined exercise Ardent Sentry 2009 (AS09) June 18-23.

"Exercise Ardent Sentry '09 allowed U.S. Fleet Forces to showcase our Maritime Operations Center's command, control and coordination capability as part of a global network during simulated crises and threat events to our maritime security," said Rear Adm. Dennis E. FitzPatrick, director of USFF's Joint Operations Division.

The focus of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)/U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM)-led exercise was to test defense support to civil authorities and homeland defense by providing military support and response capabilities to federal, provincial, state and local authorities during crisis scenarios. The scenarios in AS09 included major flooding, terrorist attacks and a pandemic animal disease affecting livestock across five states.

"The secondary function of Ardent Sentry, or what we are using it for, is our [USFF] pre-accreditation of our Maritime Operations Center," said Capt. Mark J. Pawlak, USFF's MOC transition director.

MOCs are used Navy-wide at numbered fleets to effectively synchronize joint maritime operations by streamlining the planning, execution and assessment process.

USFF is the seventh out of eight MOCs to reach preliminary accreditation status

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Another New USAF MARS Digi Freq

I have found another new USAF MARS digital net (new to me). ;-))

The TRR net at 1400 UTC on 7541.0 kHz using MFSK16. Net control was AFN3RT.

Participants were:


Also had a Region 4 4S2 USB net on during the 1300 UTC hour on 7547.0 kHz.

New Mexico Troops Deploy

A bittersweet ceremony last weekend brought hundreds of friends and family to Albuquerque, New Mexico to say goodbye to nearly 100 members of the state's National Guard.

USS Ronald Reagan Arrives in Singapore

Two ships and more than 5,000 Sailors from the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) arrived in Singapore June 24.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), the strike group's flagship, and guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), moored pierside at Changi Naval Base for their first port visit in their 2009 Western Pacific deployment.

Nearly 400 Ronald Reagan CSG Sailors are scheduled to participate in 13 volunteer projects for local schools, elderly care centers and charitable foundations.

"The level of support from our Sailors has been outstanding," said Capt. Kenneth Norton, Ronald Reagan's commanding officer. "Ronald Reagan Sailors consider it their duty to make a difference ashore, when we're guests of other nations."

Ronald Reagan CSG, commanded by Rear Adm. Scott Hebner, is currently operating in 7th Fleet's Area of Responsibility as part of a regularly scheduled deployment to promote cooperation, security and stability in the region.

Along with Ronald Reagan and Chancellorsville, the CSG consists of ships from Destroyer Squadron 7; the guided-missile destroyers USS Decatur (DDG 73), USS Howard (DDG 83) and USS Gridley (DDG 101) and the guided-missile frigate USS Thach (FFG 43).

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 is embarked aboard Ronald Reagan. The squadrons of CVW-14 include the "Redcocks" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 22, the "Fist of the Fleet" of VFA-25, the "Stingers" of VFA-113, the "Eagles" of VFA-115, the "Black Eagles" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113, the "Cougars" of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 139, the "Providers" of Carrier Logistics Support (VRC) 30, and the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 4.

This is the fourth deployment for Ronald Reagan. The ship is named after the 40th U.S. president and carries the motto of "Peace through Strength," a recurrent theme during the Reagan presidency.

US Coast Guard District 7 HF Net

While doing a Monitoring Times First Look column test this morning on the Perseus SDR receiver, I monitored the weekly USCG D7 HF Net at 1300 on 7530.0 kHz. CAMSLANT Chesapeake is the NCS. All signal levels were strong and solid using the 350 foot longwire and my 80m full length G5RV.

I have been working on a new list of U.S. Government/Military HF radio nets that meet on a regular basis. If you have one to add, drop me a note at the email address in the masthead.

BTW - The Perseus is a sweet radio. I should have my test complete in the the September 2009 issue of MT for those who are interested. But I will say if you are looking for a capable, highend receiver and have a solid computer interface (I highly recommend a laptop vs a desktop with a conventional computer monitor), take a serious look at the Perseus. It handles HF duties quite well.

Black Sea Fleet participation in Exercise "Kavkaz-2009"

Following extract taken from the Russian Armed Forces daily Red Star. Translated and submitted for interest and information by Old Crow. Date of article: 25 June 2009.

Preparations by a large detachment of Black Sea warships which are to participate in Exercise Kavkaz-2009 (Caucasus-2009) are nearing completion. From the Sevastopol' Order of Nakhimov Rocket Cutter Brigade, commanded by Captain 1st Rank Yurij Zemskij, the Air Cushion Missile Ship Bora, the Small Missile Ship Mirage and two Rocket Cutters under the command of Captains 3rd Rank Igor'Vorob'ev and Vadim Lopatko will be taking part. In addition, three Large Landing Ships (BDK) from the Landing Ship Brigade commanded by Captain 1st Rank Oleg Ignasyuk will also participate. These are the BDK Yamal under the command of Captain 2nd Rank Aleksandr Kononenko, the Novocherkassk under the command of Captain 2nd Rank Roman Kotlyarov and the Nikolaj Fil'chenkov commanded by Captain 3rd Rank Evgenij Myasoedov.

I have the following update according to a piece published on wordpress.com:

Russia's defence ministry has announced that the Kavkaz-2009 military exercises will be held in the North Caucasus from June 29 until July 6. The exercises will involve more than 8,500 personnel, up to 200 battle tanks, 450 armoured vehicles and some 250 artillery systems of various types, the independent Georgian news and information service Civil.ge reports.

This appears to be more than just a naval exercise. According to an ITAR-TASS news agency release, all brigades in Russia's North Caucasus military district are to participate in the Kavkaz-2009 military maneuvers.

What I find real interesting is at the moment, the armies of 12 NATO countries are taking part in the Cooperative Longbow 09/Cooperative Lancer 09 war games in Georgia. These military drills close to Russian borders have resulted in numerous protests from top Russian officials.

73, have fun and good hunting,

El Jefe

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

USS Truman CSG Conducting COMPTUEX off Florida

The USS Harry S. Truman CSG has been conducting a COMPTUEX off the coast of Florida over the last few days. This exercise is being conducted in preparation for the group's deployment overseas later this year. Here is a Navy News video report on what a COMPTUEX is.


Navy Approves Two-Year Schedule for Blue Angels

Blog editor note: For me as the author of MT's annual airshow guide, this is a pretty big deal. For folks who like to make long range plans (as long as they understand that it is subject to change) this is a good deal.

The Navy approved a two-year scheduling process in coordination with the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) for the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron (Blue Angels) to provide Navy recruiting and the air show industry with more time to plan for air future air shows.

Beginning at the 2009 ICAS convention, the Blue Angels plan to release the approved schedules for the 2010 and 2011 show seasons. At each subsequent ICAS convention, the upcoming year's schedule will be reviewed and the following year's schedule will be released.

The new scheduling process will allow the Blue Angels to schedule air shows 18 to 24 months in advance, providing more time for air shows to garner sponsorship, advertise and plan logistics. This scheduling process is especially helpful to air shows that take place in the early part of the season.

With the new two-year scheduling process, more of a collaborative effort between the Blue Angels, the Calendar for America and the Navy's recruiting effort will optimize the use of Navy assets for community outreach across the United States. Additionally, the two-year schedule process will allow recruiting districts more time to coordinate a better strategic effort to canvass the country with the Navy's Calendar for America.

Air show coordinators can start applying now for consideration to host the Blue Angels at their air shows in 2010 and 2011. The Centennial of Naval Aviation will be celebrated throughout the year in 2011.

Milair Frequency Changes - 6/24/2009

The cleanout of the 380-400 MHz milair aero service continues to be replaced by LMR services. If you are not familiar with what is happening, I have written about this several times on this blog and in my Monitoring Times Milcom column.

So time again for some more aero frequency changes, updates and corrections from the Milcom MP Quik-Stop . . .

30.1000 Lincoln Muni NE (KLNK) Army National Guard (FM), ex-38.8000

119.4250 Hamiltom Muni NY (KVGC) AWOS-3

119.5250 Midland-Jack Barstow MI (KIKW) AWOS-3

124.5000 Anchorage ARTCC Cape Ramonzof AK RCAG Approach/Departure Services

125.5750 Salt Lake ARTCC Cedar City UT RCAG Approach/Departure Services

127.6000 Seattle ARTCC Klamath Falls OR RCAG Approach/Departure Services

127.7000 Denver ARTCC Francis Peak UT RCAG Approach/Departure Services

128.3500 Salt Lake ARTCC Blackfoot ID and Big Piney WY RCAG Approach/Departure Services

132.4000 Salt Lake ARTCC Ashton ID RCAG Approach/Departure Services

135.0000 Anchorage ARTCC Fort Yukon AK RCAG Approach/Departure Services

135.3000 Anchorage ARTCC Barrow AK RCAG Approach/Departure Services

135.6000 Denver ARTCC Casper WY, Lusk WY and Sundance WY RCAG Approach/Departure Services

135.7000 Anchorage ARTCC Unalakeet AK RCAG Approach/Departure Services

138.7500 Lincoln Muni NE (KLNK) Army National Guard (FM), ex-123.0750

225.4000 Anchorage ARTCC Fort Yukon AK RCAG Approach/Departure Services

235.9750 Southern California Tracon CA Approach Control, ex-381.6000

239.2500 Anchorage ARTCC Barrow AK RCAG Approach/Departure Services
239.2500 Salt Lake ARTCC Ashton ID, Big Piney WY, and Blackfoot ID RCAG Low/High Altitude, ex-381.6000

263.0250 Southern California Tracon CA Approach Control, ex-385.4000

291.1000 Santa Barbara CA (KSBA) Approach/Departure Control Class C IC

335.5000 Anchorage ARTCC Unalakeet AK RCAG Approach/Departure Services

346.3500 Seattle ARTCC Lakeview OR and Klamath Falls OR RCAG Approach/Departure Services, ex-351.7000

348.7250 Salt Lake ARTCC Sunnyside UT and Wilson Creek NV RCAG Low/High Altitude, ex-380.3500

354.1250 Denver ARTCC Francis Peak WY and Malad City ID RCAG Low Altitude, 387.0500

360.7750 Ontario International CA (KONT) Tower, ex-385.6000

363.0250 Denver ARTCC Casper WY, Lusk WY, and Sundance WY RCAG Approach/Departure Services

379.2750 Salt Lake ARTCC Cedar City UT and Delta UT RCAG Low/High Altitude, ex-381.4500

379.9750 Salt Lake City UT (KSLC) Clearance Delivery, 387.1000

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Navy establishes first MH-60 Romeo squadron on the east coast.

The U.S. Navy has established a new MH-60R squadron on the east coast of the United States. Learn more about the Spartans in a video report at http://www.navy.mil/swf/mmu/mmplyr.asp?id=12759

Monday, June 22, 2009

U.S. Kicks Off Participation in FRUKUS 2009

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Rosa Larson, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe -U.S. Naval Forces Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet

NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- Maritime forces from four countries began participation in annual exercise "FRUKUS" in the Bay of Biscay off the coast of Brest, France, June 19.

FRUKUS, which stands for the participating countries – France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – is a naval exercise focusing on strengthening maritime partnerships and improving interoperability and overall communication between the nations.

Exercise FRUKUS is broken into two segments, in port and at sea.

In port, Sailors will participate in training for communications and maritime interdiction operations and maritime coordination ashore, while senior leadership will focus on topics including maritime security, fleet modernization and international, submarine rescue.

At sea, the exercise will be driven by a scenario that supports Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), the interoperability between forces afloat and maritime interdiction [law-enforcement] operations.

"During this exercise, Sailors will get underway and become familiar with the other navies' operating procedures and practices," said Cmdr. Scott Smith, commanding officer of USS Klakring (FFG 42). "When they meet in the future to conduct combined peacekeeping or humanitarian operations, or to counter trafficking in drugs, weapons, or persons in this region, they will be better able to work together."

In the wake of last year's Russia-Georgia crisis, the United States cancelled FRUKUS 2008 participation as a part of its broader suspension of military-to-military activities with the Russian Federation.

FRUKUS was created in 2003 to aid in talks between France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Sponsorship rotates between the four navies with the lead nation traditionally providing a blend of professional and cultural activities. The principal aim is to increase interoperability by developing individual and collective maritime proficiencies of participating nations, as well as promoting friendship, mutual understanding and cooperation.

Participating U.S. forces include USS Klakring and staff for the Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet .

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Joint Chiefs of Staff HFGCS Network - Update

There is a lot of old frequency and callsign lists that float around the internet. One of these old lists involves a U.S. HF military network that has been identified in the past as the GCCS, GHFS, Global, and HF-GCS.

Now it is called the HF Global Communications System (HFGCS) and can have some interesting military aircraft traffic on it from time to time.

The HFGCS System is a worldwide network of high-power HF stations providing air/ground HF command and control radio communications between ground agencies and US military aircraft and ships. Allied military and other aircraft are also provided support IAW agreements and international protocols as appropriate. The HFGCS is not dedicated to any service or command but supports all DoD authorized users on a traffic precedence/priority basis. This is a DoD Joint Chiefs of Staff network and is a high priority service within DoD. When it was first formed under a different nomenclature several years ago, it combined several other high priority nets such as the US Navy Hicom net into this one network.

From the DoD FIH, general services provided by the HFGCS are:

- General Phone Patch and Message Relay Services
- Automatic Link Establishment (ALE) [this is the Scope Command ALE network, see link below]
- HF Data Support
- Command and Control Mission Following
- Emergency Assistance
- Broadcasts [i.e. EAMs and Foxtrot messages etc]
- HF Direction Finding Assistance
- ATC Support
- E-Mail connectivity to NIPRNeT and SIPRNeT

SCOPE Command replaces older high power Global HF equipment. SCOPE Command incorporates the Automatic Link Establishment (ALE) to automate communications. All HFGCS stations transmit and receive equipment is remotely controlled from the Centralized Network Control Station (CNCS) at Andrews AFB, MD.

General Calling. Aircrews use a preliminary call as outlined in ACP-121 US Supp 2
using the collective callsign "MAINSAIL" or the HFGCS station call sign (example: Sigonella Global this is Dark 86 on 11175, OVER). HFGCS operators require approximately 10 seconds (for automated equipment configuration) to respond to calls for service. The HFGCS operator may request the aircraft change to a discrete frequency for improved and/or extended service.

Published Frequency Listing - HFGCS stations operate on “core” frequencies to provide increased "Global" coverage. The published frequency listing does not reflect complete system frequency authorizations. These published frequencies will be used for initial contact, EAM broadcasts, and short-term C2 phone patch and message delivery. Other extended or special services will be moved to each station’s available "discrete" frequencies.

Here is a current list of HFGCS stations and the network's primary frequencies.

Primary Frequencies and Stations (all frequencies in kHz/mode is USB)

Main frequencies: 4724.0 6739.0 8992.0 11175.0 13200.0 15016.0 and 6712.0 (Croughton only)

Andersen AB, Guam; Andrews AFB, Maryland; Ascension Island; Croughton AB, United Kingdom; Diego Garcia NS, Indian Ocean; Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota; Hickam AFB, Hawaii; Lajes AB, Azores; McClellan, California; (aka West Coast); Offutt AFB, Nebraska; Salinas, Puerto Rico; Sigonella NS, Sicily, Italy; and Yokota AB, Japan.

Some previously reported discrete frequencies include: 4894.0 5708.0 5117.0 6728.0 6731.0 6993.0 7567.0 7690.0 7933.0 8032.0 8058.0 9006.0 9012.0 9025.0 9043.0 10589.0 10648.0 11053.0 11056.0 11118.0 11129.0 11159.0 11180.0 11181.0 11214.0 11220.0 11226.0 11232.0 11269.0 11271.0 11484.0 12087.0 13242.0 13254.0 13440.0 13822.0 13960.0 14497.0 14863.0 14896.0 15042.0 15087.0 15091.0 15095.0 18015.0 20910.0 23265.0

The Air Force Eastern Test Range (AFETR) HF Network may be used as a backup to GLOBAL. The net can be contacted on 10780.0 kHz/USB (primary) and 20390.0/USB kHz (secondary) using the call sign of CAPE RADIO. Another backup to the HFGCS is the US Air Force MARS.

HFGCS Scope Command HF ALE Network - Update 23 January 2023

HFGCS ALE Network frequencies USB/ALE (scan channel number): 3137.0 (1) 4721.0 (2) 5708.0 (3) 6721.0 (4) 9025.0 (5) 11226.0 (6) 13215.0 (7) 15043.0 (8) 18003.0 (9) 23337.0 (10) kHz 

 The ALE system used by the JCS HFGCS network is designated MIL-STD-188-141A. You can download a software program developed by Dr. Charles Brain to decode these digital transmissions at http://hflink.com/beta/. You can also use F6CTE's Multipsk program at http://f6cte.free.fr/index_anglais.htm. It is my favorite multimode program and always gets a workout in the Btown Monitoring Post. ALE allows automated ground agency contact by selecting the best station and best frequency without operator interaction. ALE radios make this possible by using a data file that contains frequency, station, and other pertinent information. For ALE radios to operate properly, the radio must have loaded datafile, be turned on in the “automatic” mode, and remain there for the duration of the flight. If the radio is removed from the ALE mode, history tables will require time to rebuild and initial communications may be slightly degraded. Net participating stations, identifiers, and specific frequency assignments used in the HFGCS ALE net:

ADW Andrews AFB, MD USA 3137 4721 5708 6721 9025 11226 13215 15043 18003 23337 
AED Elmendorf AFB, AK USA 3137 4721 5708 6721 9025 11226 13215 15043 18003 23337 
CRO RAF Croughton, UK 3137 4721 6721 9025 11226 13215 15043 18003 23337 
GUA Andersen AFB, Guam 3137 4721 5708 6721 9025 11226 13215 15043 18003 23337 
HAW Ascension Island 3137 4721 6721 9025 11226 13215 15043 18003 23337 
HIK Hickam AFB, Hawaii 3137 4721 6721 9025 11226 13215 15043 18003 23337 
ICZ Sigonella, Sicily Italy 3137 4721 5708 6721 9025 11226 13215 15043 18003 
JDG NSF Diego Garcia 3137 4721 5708 6721 9025 11226 13215 15043 18003 23337 
JNR Salinas, Puerto Rico 3137 4721 5708 6721 9025 11226 13215 15043 18003 23337 
JTY Yokota AB, Japan 3137 4721 6721 9025 11226 13215 15043 18003 
MCC West Coast (McClellan), CA USA 3137 4721 5708 6721 9025 11226 13215 15043 18003 23337 
MPA Mt. Pleasant, Falkland Island 3137 4721 5708 6721 9025 11226 13215 15043 18003 23337 
OFF Offutt AFB, NE USA 3137 4721 5708 6721 9025 11226 13215 15043 18003 23337 
PLA Lajes AB, Azores 3137 4721 5708 6721 9025 11226 13215 15043 18003 23337 

Selected non-HF-GCS stations observed in this net: 
CEF 439AW, Westover AFB, MA 
GBL Global General Address 
GVT Raytheon, Greenville, TX 
IKF NAS Keflavik, Iceland (HF-GCS facility closed) 
OKC Oklahoma City (Tinker AFB), OK 
RIC CAP Region 2 MER/CAP National Technology Center, Richmond, VA 
RSC Rockwell Scope Command Facility, Greenville, TX 
TAG Incirlik AB, Turkey (HF-GCS Facility Closed) 
TOCAVN TOC Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo
WRL Warner-Robins AFB, GA

USS Theodore Roosevelt Scoops Equipment to Prep for Overhaul

By MC2(SW) Bonnie Williams, USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) began a shipboard coordinated off-load and outfitting plan (SCOOP) at Naval Station Norfolk June 15.

The SCOOP process involves unloading all shipboard equipment, furniture and tools not welded, wired or piped into place.

"Things that we can use again will be kept; everything else will be [disposed of]," said Chief Machinist's Mate (SW/AW/SS) Michael Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt's (TR) maintenance, material and management coordinator.

Everything on the ship must be accounted for and inventoried to be placed in storage or transferred to the floating accommodation facility (FAF) before the scheduled 40-month refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) in October at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard.

"We've been planning SCOOP since January, and all departments are ready to begin this process," said Lt. Cmdr. Karen Dallas, TR's principal assistant for logistics and primary SCOOP coordinator.

A team of 100 Sailors from every department aboard the ship will be issued specialized computers to inventory equipment from their respective departments. Departmental personnel will pack the material and hand it over to civilian contractors for the move.

"Each department has its own SCOOP coordinator who is in charge of making sure the equipment is [in good working condition] and that it is accounted for properly with the computers," said Dallas.

The medical department will be the first to have equipment removed from the ship, followed by the supply department.

"It's important for medical to SCOOP their equipment first, as they need to have services for the crew set up on the FAF," said Dallas. "Supply will move next to provide meals on the FAF."

SCOOP will be the largest evolution conducted by the ship before it enters RCOH. Despite the immensity of the job, TR Sailors are more than ready to handle it.

"I think it will be great," said Dallas. "Everyone is excited and being proactive to get all the material off the ship. All hands have been actively involved in ensuring the process [goes well]."

Naval station visitors may experience slight delays in transiting near the naval station's waterfront with the additional equipment movements.

"Motorists are encouraged to use alternate routes as we anticipate traffic delays along Decatur, said Lt. Jeff Eidenberger, a security officer at Naval Station Norfolk.

U.S. Prepares Missile Defense, Continues Shipping Interdictions

By John J. Kruzel, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON - The United States has deployed missile defense equipment to the Pacific amid reports alleging that North Korea has threatened to fire a ballistic missile toward Hawaii, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today.

"We're obviously watching the situation in the north, with respect to missile launches, very closely," Gates said at a Pentagon news conference with Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "And we do have some concerns if they were to launch a missile to the west, in the direction of Hawaii."

Gates has ordered the deployment of Theater High Altitude Area Defense missiles to Hawaii and the sea-based SBX Radar near the island state to provide support. "Based on my visit to Fort Greely, the ground-based interceptors are clearly in a position to take action," he added, referring to the Army launch site for anti-ballistic missiles near Fairbanks, Alaska.

"Without telegraphing what we will do, I would just say I think we are in a good position should it become necessary to protect American territory," the secretary said.

Meanwhile, Mullen reiterated the U.S. intent to adhere to a United Nations resolution allowing Americans to conduct permissive searches of North Korean vessels.

"We intend to vigorously enforce the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874," Mullen said, noting that the United States has "hail and query" authority under Security Council guidelines, meaning American authorities can seek permission from the ship's crew to board and search its contents.

"If a vessel like this is queried and doesn't allow a permissive search, [the United States] can direct it to go into a port, and the country of that port would...inspect the vessel," Mullen said, noting that the resolution does not allow for an opposed or noncompliant boarding. The U.N. would be alerted in instances of North Korean vessels refusing searches or possessing weaponry in violation of resolution.

Asked about Pyongyang's stated stance that it would consider an interdiction of its vessels an act of war, Mullen underscored that the U.N. resolution represents an international commitment.

"It's not just the United States, it's a lot of other countries as well," he said. "And the north's steps to further isolate itself, to further noncomply with international guidance and regulations, in the long-run, puts them in a more difficult position."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Multinational Exercise Ends in Baltic Sea

The amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) leads an international formation of ships from 12 nations during the first day of the Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise. This is the 37th iteration of BALTOPS and is intended to improve interoperability with partner nations by conducting realistic training at sea with the 12 participating nations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Rumbach/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Gary Keen, USS Mount Whitney Public Affairs

USS MOUNT WHITNEY, At Sea (NNS) -- The 37th annual Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise 2009 concluded June 19 after 14 days of multinational operations in the Baltic Sea.

The exercise encompassed 43 ships from 12 countries with more than 200 training events, all focused on strengthening maritime security and partnerships in the Baltic Sea.

"Anytime you get nations from one area to work together with nations from another in the spirit of cooperation, you build relationships that are available to help you in any real-world situation," said Rear Adm. John N. Christenson, commander of Carrier Strike Group 12 and tactical commander of BALTOPS 2009.

This year's BALTOPS started off for the first time in Karlskrona, Sweden, with four days of sporting events, social gatherings and receptions, all designed to develop interpersonal relationships with the participating Sailors.

The evidence of the tactical benefits of these relationships was put to the test on the first day underway when 12 ships communicated with each other on various frequencies to complete a tight echelon formation. This type of communication-reliant advanced maneuver has never been attempted on the first day of previous BALTOPS.

Partnerships continued to grow throughout the exercise, Christenson said, and the relationships were a key factor in the execution of numerous training operations ranging from compliant and non-compliant boarding, submarine recognition, medical evacuations, mass casualty drills and mine countermeasure operations.

Christenson added that BALTOPS led to many real-life successes outside of the exercise realm. The sea floor was made safer for Sailors and civilians when Swedish Mine Hunter HSwMS Faaroesund (MUL-20) made a discovery that led to the detonation of three mines and one British torpedo, all from World War II.

"This was an excellent opportunity for training together," said Swedish Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jorgen Bergman, a planning advisor aboard the amphibious command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20). "This is the first time Sweden has taken such an intensive role in an exercise like this."

BALTOPS came to a close with a large unscripted tactical exercise during which 30 ships were put into a two-team, simulated battle-at-sea using all the training they received. The simulation lasted three days and ended with a post operation brief.

The majority of the exercise fleet will pull into Kiel, Germany, and hold a reception celebrating the successful completion of BALTOPS.

BALTOPS aims to enhance maritime safety and security in the Baltic Sea through increased interoperability and cooperation among regional allies.

USAF aircraft fires high-power laser in flight

A specially modified 46th Test Wing NC-130H aircraft equipped with the Advanced Tactical Laser weapon system fired its laser while flying over White Sands Missile Range, N.M., successfully hitting a target board located on the ground. Equipped with a chemical laser, a beam control system, sensors and weapon-system consoles, the ATL is designed to damage, disable or destroy targets with little or no collateral damage. (Courtesy photo)

Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. (AFNS) -- Members of the 413th Flight Test Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., and contractor Boeing recently successfully fired the high-power laser aboard the Advanced Tactical Laser aircraft for the first time in flight.

The combined effort between Boeing and the 413th was instrumental to the "first light" of the high power ATL.

"This successful test is a major step toward bringing directed energy capability to the warfighter," said Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing's Directed Energy Systems. "We have demonstrated that an airborne system can fire a high-power laser in flight and deliver laser beam energy to a ground target."

During the test, the specially modified 46th Test Wing NC-130H aircraft equipped with the ATL weapon system took off from Kirtland and fired its laser while flying over White Sands Missile Range, N.M., successfully hitting a target board located on the ground. ATL is equipped with a chemical laser, a beam control system, sensors and weapon-system consoles.

"We have taken technology from the laboratory to reality and have now demonstrated that directed energy is on a path toward a safe and viable option for the warfighter with very unique capabilities," said Eric Van Dorn, 413th FLTS lead flight test engineer.

More tests are planned to demonstrate ATL's military utility. The system is designed to damage, disable or destroy targets with little to no collateral damage. These demonstrations support development of systems that will conduct missions on the battlefield and in urban operations.

"The time and effort from the entire team exhibited the cooperation and professionalism between the U. S. Air Force and Boeing. The culmination of this event is fantastic," said Master Sgt. Scott Wollitz, mission flight engineer. "I feel extremely fortunate to have been a part of the crew for this test. The laser shot was amazing!"

The ATL program is managed by the 687th Armament Systems Squadron, which is part of the 308th Armament Systems Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., and supported by the Air Force Research Laboratory's Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland.

"It's another case of science fiction becoming reality," said Maj. James Stahl, 413th FLTS test pilot. "As a kid growing up I was fascinated by the lasers in the movie Star Wars; to be the first to fire this laser in flight is truly an honor."

Student flies last T-37 training mission

by John Ingle, 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- A familiar noise was missing from the 80th Flying Training Wing's aircraft parking ramp at about 2:30 p.m. June 17, one that has been prevalent in the Air Force's pilot training mission for 50 years -- the high-pitched screech of the T-37B Tweet.

The final student training mission began at 1 p.m., marking the last time an Air Force pilot will begin their career in the introductory jet.

Second Lt. Trevor Kernes, 89th Flying Training Squadron student pilot, said he was honored to be part of the historical event.

"Anyone of these guys deserves it," the future Ohio National Guardsman said. "To be chosen out of some of the best in the world is an honor. I'm humbled."

Lieutenant Kernes, a former forward air traffic controller who served in Afghanistan after 9/11 and was part of the initial push into Iraq in 2003, said the Tweet was fun to fly and a good training platform.

"I'm sorry for the T-6A (Texan II) student pilots," he said, "because they didn't get to fly the T-37."

Since 1959, more than 78,000 Air Force pilots have flown the venerable Tweet. The T-37 began its extraordinary flight into history in 1956 when it became an active aircraft in the U.S. Air Force inventory becoming operational in 1959.

The 80th FTW is the last organization in the Air Force to use the airframe.

Col. David Petersen, 80th FTW commander, said the durable aircraft lived up to expectations and then some.

"It's been a great trainer for 50 years," he said. "Right up to the end, it's been a good aircraft."

Lt. Col. Doug Antcliff, 19th Air Force standards and evaluation pilot, flew the Tweet for the last 11 years. He said the aircraft is the same today as it was in 1991 when he was a student pilot, however, it doesn't make it any easier to see an "old friend" retire.

"There is nothing new of that airplane," he said of the aircraft's technology. "But, I'm sad to see it go because it is a true workhorse."

The Tweet officially retires from active service July 31. The 80th FTW began training student pilots Aug. 29, 2008, in the Tweet's replacement the Texan II.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Kidd, Preble Return Home from Deployment

Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88) man the rails as the ship transits San Diego Bay after returning from a scheduled five-month deployment. Preble is part of the USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group and operated in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Damien Horvath/Released)

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Arleigh-Burke destroyers USS Kidd (DDG 100) and USS Preble (DDG 88) returned home to Naval Station San Diego from a five-month deployment with Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 3 June 16.

During the five-month deployment under the command of Commander, Destroyer Squadron 21, led by Capt. Kerry S. Gilpin, Kidd and Preble operated in 3rd and 7th Fleet's Area of Responsibility.

Their mission throughout the deployment was to directly support the U.S. maritime strategy by focusing on joint and international partnerships across a range of operations through forward presence, deterrence, freedom of the world's sea lanes, maritime security and humanitarian assistance/ disaster response.

Exercise Northern Edge 2009 kicks into high gear

by Marine Staff Sgt. Andrew W. Miller, Northern Edge Joint Information Bureau

Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska (AFNS) -- Exercise Northern Edge 2009 officially kicked off June 15 at various locations throughout Alaska.

Participants from all branches of the military are training together in order to hone their tactics, techniques and procedures associated with defensive counter-air, close-air support, air interdiction of marine targets and personnel recovery missions.

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni is supporting the evolution at Eielson Air Force Base with various components of personnel including Marines and sailors with Marine Aircraft Group 12 headquarters, Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224, Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 , Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12, and augmentees from Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron such as the Provost Marshal's Office and Public Affairs. Additional Marines are also supporting from Marine Air Control Squadron 4 out of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan. Also from Futenma, Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 is operating at Elmendorf Air Force Base. In all, approximately 290 Marines and sailors from III Marine Expeditionary Force are participating.

"Northern Edge is MAG-12's best opportunity to get together with the Navy and Air Force to practice advanced tactics in missions that are similar to what we would have to do here in the Pacific area of operations," said Lt. Col. James Walker, MAG-12 operations officer. "We work with large forces here, 50 to 60 aircraft at a time, and that's not something we get to do on a daily basis. So, this is a good opportunity for MAG-12 to train in a tactical environment."

Although the event is headquartered out of Elmendorf Air Force Base, activities are taking place across the massive training grounds of Alaska in order to prepare joint forces to respond to crises in the Asian Pacific region.

According to Air Force Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, commanding general of Alaskan Command and 11th Air Force, being able to train here is valuable because there are more than more than 65,000 square miles of available training space over land, and 120,000 when including the Gulf of Alaska. This space includes Alaska's Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, Gulf of Alaska restricted air space, and an in-transit corridor connecting military training air space and live-fire training ranges.

"Northern Edge is the premier exercise conducted within the Pacific Command's area of responsibility," said General Atkins. "It lets our joint warfighters learn about each other."

Learning about each other, and the way the varying services operate is very important according to Air Force Maj. Lyle Dawley, Northern Edge exercise control team chief.

"Communication can be a big challenge," he said. "We don't always speak the same language whether we are on the ground or in the air."

That is something he said he hopes service members can learn from and take away from this exercise considering there are almost 5,000 service members participating in the exercise aboard ships in the Gulf of Alaska and approximately 2,000 who are here from other bases and stations across the United States, Japan and Korea.

Exercise Northern Edge is an 11-day exercise and is scheduled to conclude here June 26.

Officials announce location for Global Strike command

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force announced Barksdale Air Force Base, La. as the permanent location of Air Force Global Strike Command headquarters June 18. The new major command will focus on the nuclear and global strike mission.

Barksdale was previously identified as the Air Force's preferred alternative for purposes of the environmental analysis process that is now complete. AFGSC will be activated on August 7.

"The environmental assessment, which included a 30-day public comment period, resulted in a finding of 'No Significant Impact' which allows for the SECAF to take the additional steps of making a final basing decision and formally standing up AFGSC," said Kathleen Ferguson, deputy assistant secretary for Installations.

"The standup of this new command will provide clear lines of authority and responsibility dedicated to the nuclear and conventional global strike mission, a key component of strategic deterrence," said Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz, designated commander for AFGSC.

HYDRA '09 prepares Airmen for real world emergencies

by Staff Sgt. Jessica Switzer, Defense Media Activity - San Antonio

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- Members of the 615th Contingency Response Wing and 15 other units from around the United States joined together to participate in HYDRA '09.

The joint exercise is the 615th CRW's most comprehensive training event, organized to allow Airmen to hone their skills and enhance command, control and joint interoperability using realistic scenarios.

"This humanitarian exercise gives us the ability to practice in a realistic environment," said Master Sgt. Craig Brown, 571st Contingency Response Group first sergeant. "We are able to test our command and control, and enhance our ability to accept airflow and off load cargo using real world scenarios. "

The exercise has grown from a 615th CRW-only event in 2007 to a training event that has about 750 participants from 16 different units, some from the Army and Marine Corps.

"We're working jointly with all different services of the military at different times of the day," said Senior Airman Jason Aglubat, 571st Global Mobility Squadron aerial port journeyman. "Every day brings different challenges and learning opportunities."

The 11-day exercise began June 12 and trains participants on a variety of operations that would be required in the event of an emergency.

"It gives us a real sense of what we would actually be doing if a humanitarian need rose somewhere in the world," Sergeant Brown said.

The scenario for HYDRA '09 was a magnitude 6.0 earthquake in a fictional allied country. The devastation from the quake extended up to 100 miles out from the epicenter. This scenario allowed the exercise to spread over three locations to provide maximum training opportunities. A part of the exercise, called Global Medic, focused on treating and moving victims of the earthquake.

"Participating in this exercise has allowed me to learn a lot of things that a classroom environment just can't offer," said Army Private 1st Class Arlett Diaz, a nutritionist with the Mobile Aeromedical Staging Facility at the exercise site. "I've learned how to administer flight transportation so that patients can receive the medical attention they need when they get to a hospital."

The training received during the exercise is invaluable to participants.

"This training keeps me up to date with the advances in my field," Private Diaz said. "It also makes me a better team member because I know I am able to help in other areas of the MASF as well."

In addition to training on aerial port operations, participants also were involved in helicopter sling-load training, simulated medical evacuation, several air drops of both personnel and equipment, low level and landing zone aircrew training.

"This exercise does a lot of things for us," said Staff Sgt. Melinda Santiago, 615th CRW air transportation craftsman. "In addition to learning how to interact with other services, we're also training to respond to a natural disaster and get relief supplies in and anyone who is injured out."

All of this training helps support the 615th CRW's mission of employing rapidly deployable, cross functional teams to quickly open forward air bases in an expeditionary environment.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Essex Embarks 31st MEU, Prepares for Talisman Saber

USS Essex (LHD 2), USS Denver (LPD 9) and USS Tortuga (LSD 46) wait pierside at White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan while the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit loads gear and personnel before deploying for Talisman Sabre 2009. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Denver Applehans/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matthew Ebarb

OKINAWA, Japan (NNS) -- The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) completed on loading more than 1,400 Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) June 15 in preparation for exercise Talisman Saber 2009 (TS09).

TS09 is a bilateral command post and field training exercise designed to maintain a high level of interoperability between U.S. and Australian forces. The exercise also supports increased flexibility and readiness for maintaining regional security.

"As always, we're looking forward to having the 31st MEU on board again," said Capt. Brent Canady, Essex' commanding officer. "We've had an excellent operational record with them in the past, and we look forward to continuing that success."

The 31st MEU consists of ground, command, air and combat support elements that allow the Essex Amphibious Ready Group to conduct amphibious operations from the sea and project power ashore.

Essex' combat cargo department moved approximately 90 vehicles and 250 pieces of MEU cargo. Additionally, they helped move elements of the battalion landing team, the ground combat element, aviation combat element and combat logistics battalion. The arsenal includes CH-53E Sea Stallion, CH-46E Sea Hawk, AH-1W Super Cobra and UH-1N Huey helicopters, as well as AV-8B Harrier jet aircrafts.

"We're looking forward to the experience of working with the Australian military," said Gunnery Sgt. Jorge Jerez, well deck combat cargo assistant. "We have put a lot of work into getting the equipment on board and making sure that it's ready for the upcoming Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) evaluation."

AQIS is the Australian government agency responsible for enforcing Australian quarantine laws. Essex will coordinate with AQIS to ensure the safety of Essex' crew, Australian exercise participants and Australian citizens.

"Working with the Australian's offers something new for us," said Pfc. Marcus Clark, from Spokane, Wash. "This isn't something we get to do every day, and I think the experience will allow us to learn from one another and grow."

Essex is the lead ship of the only forward-deployed U.S. amphibious ready group and serves as the flagship for CTF 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.

Joint Exercise Northern Edge Ensures Maritime Security

Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Kelsey Gifford, from Augusta, Ga., communicates with hangar deck control while hangar bay personnel transfer a F/A-18C Hornet from the "Death Rattlers" of Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 323 to the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). John C. Stennis and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 are participating in Northern Edge 2009, a joint exercise which focuses on detecting and tracking units at sea, in the air and on land. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate/ Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steve Owsley

GULF OF ALASKA (NNS) -- John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group assets consisting of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 and USS Antietam (CG 54) arrived in the Gulf of Alaska June 15 for exercise Northern Edge 2009.

The exercise provides real-world proficiency in detection and tracking of units at sea, in the air and on land and response to multiple crises.

Approximately 9,000 U.S. active-duty and Reserve component Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines and more than 200 aircraft will take part in Northern Edge June 15-26.

"Northern Edge is one of the biggest joint exercises that we do in this country, and it's a great opportunity for John C. Stennis to go up there and participate," said Stennis Commanding Officer Capt. Joseph Kuzmick. "There's a lot of room and lots of places to fly that make this a very robust exercise. It's exciting for me to take this team up there and see how we do."

According to Kuzmick, Northern Edge is an Air Force-run exercise, but the workload is split evenly between Air Force and Navy assets.

"We're going to play the chief asset of the naval component commander," said Kuzmick. "We'll be operating as an aircraft carrier in the exercise scenario, and we'll be applying our air power to the problem."

Northern Edge is designed to be an air-centric exercise to train units in joint air operations tactics and command and control in a cost-effective and low-risk environment. Every branch of the military is scheduled to have aircraft involved in the exercise.

"It's incredibly important that if we are going to fight together that we train together," said Kuzmick. "We need to learn each other's languages, each other's tactics, techniques and procedures so that we can operate relatively seamlessly as a very effective tool."

Northern Edge operations will be conducted within the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, which includes more than 60,000 square miles of air space and the Gulf of Alaska, which encompasses 50,000 square miles of air space.

Joint service participation utilizes U.S. maritime and air forces, focusing on common threats to ensure maritime security.

Operations Specialist 1st Class Lee Tran, from Portland, Oregon, monitors links in the tactical flag command center aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). A link is a high frequency, narrow band transmitter used for communicating with outside forces. Stennis is participating in Northern Edge 2009, a joint exercise that focuses on detecting and tracking objects at sea, in the air and on land. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Josue L. Escobosa/ Released)

Mystery of the Missing Sunspots, Solved?

If you are a radio monitor and interested in where the sunspots have gone, check out the link below on our sister blog the BTown Monitoring Post. One of the most interesting stories about sunspots and Cycle 24 I have seen to date.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

NORAD and USNORTHCOM exercise starts tomorrow

PETERSON AFB, Colo. – North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command are planning to conduct a combined exercise June 18 - 24 that will incorporate several military exercises with a National Guard exercise. These linked exercises are referred to as ARDENT SENTRY 09. Events will take place in multiple venues across the country including Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Wyoming, and off the East and West Coasts.

The exercise will allow several Department of Defense organizations and some federal and state partners to implement plans and respond to a variety of notional events. Historically, exercises like these have helped both DoD and other agencies review their processes and procedures and focus their future training efforts on closing gaps and identifying areas that need additional attention.

Major AS 09 venues include:

■ NORAD’s AMALGAM DART exercise involving air defense activities at Camp Rilea, Oregon;

■ The National Guard’s VIGILANT GUARD exercise focused on civil support with major activities in Des Moines, Iowa and Topeka, Kansas; and,

■ A Nuclear Weapons Incident exercise (NUWAIX) with a U.S. Air Force response near Cheyenne, Wyoming;

The activities in the vicinity of Camp Rilea will involve the deployment of an Army National Guard ground-based air defense system that will be integrated with Air Force airborne systems (AWACS and fighters) and a Navy Aegis Destroyer

Loyal Arrow

It's the largest military exercise of its kind for host-nation Sweden.

VP-8 "Fighting Tigers" Return from Deployment

By Lt. j.g. Donald Lauderdale, Patrol Squadron 8 Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- A new chapter in the 66-year history of Patrol Squadron (VP) 8 began June 10 when the squadron's last P-3C aircraft arrived at its new home base at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville from the Middle East.

The crew included VP-8 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Sean Liedman. They were welcomed by Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing (CPRW) 11 Capt. Kyle Cozad, CPRW 5 Capt. Jim Hoke and NAS Jacksonville Commanding Officer Capt. Jack Scorby Jr. at a special ceremony held at their new home in Hangar 511.

"On this last deployment, you set the bar. You made a difference. You went to some of the world's most dangerous places and supported our warfighters," said Hoke. "As we saw with the Maersk Alabama situation, when there were things that had to be done in theater, the Tigers were the first to be called. Today is kind of bittersweet for me because this is the beginning of the end of CPRW Five and squadrons at NAS Brunswick. This is the fifth time VP-8 has moved during the span of their history, and each time you have set the standards, and I have no doubt you will do that here. Thank you for your service, thanks for what you did with Wing Five and thanks for what you did for your country during the past six months."

"In addition to thanking VP-8, I'd like to thank the folks who have made this happen," said Cozad. "This is a historic move and for the past two and a half years, we have all looked forward to making this move a reality. I especially want to thank the families for helping with this move and welcome home the Tigers. You are home!"

VP-8 deployed in December 2008 from their former homeport at NAS Brunswick, Maine. During their six-month deployment to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar and Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, the squadron flew in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and coalition counterpiracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin.

"Thank you for welcoming VP-8 to our new homeport at NAS Jacksonville," Liedman told the crowd from the podium. "Today is historic, because as VP-8 closes out 38 years of service at NAS Brunswick, we open a new chapter at NAS Jacksonville. I can't think of a better way to put a bookmark between those two chapters than to do it in conjunction with returning from our highly successful deployment to the Middle East and Africa."

VP-8 generated an impressive 97 percent mission completion rate during the deployment despite the challenges of operating from the expeditionary environments of Qatar and Djibouti. Aircrews from VP-8 were the first Department of Defense asset to come to the aid of the motor vessel Maersk Alabama and provided round-the-clock surveillance until the rescue of the ship's captain, Richard Phillips.

VP-8 will be followed by VP-10 and VP-26 as they depart NAS Brunswick on deployment before relocating to NAS Jacksonville. With the return from deployment of VP-8's last aircraft, members of the Fighting Tigers say they look forward to opening a new chapter in their storied squadron history.

Multimission Ship Departs Pearl Harbor for WESTPAC Deployment

Family members of Sailors assigned to the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37) watch as the ship departs Pearl Harbor for the Mid-Pacific Surface Combatant Operational Employment program and to participate in the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class N. Brett Morton/Released)

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- More than 200 Sailors aboard the guided-missile frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37) departed Naval Station Pearl Harbor for a scheduled six-month deployment to the Western Pacific June 15.

While on deployment, Crommelin will support the Mid-Pacific Surface Combatant Operational Employment program and participate in the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Exercise to expand and increase maritime security through shared training with six Southeast Asian nations.

Crommelin will also work with the U.S. Coast Guard to monitor and deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the Central and Western Pacific. The partnership is designed to protect the fragile ecosystems of Oceania along with enforcing maritime laws.

Cmdr. Kevin Parker, Crommelin's commanding officer, was very optimistic about the deployment, noting that the crew was extremely prepared for the tasks ahead.

"The crew is more than ready to fulfill their duties and responsibilities," said Parker. "We are looking forward to providing a forward presence throughout Southeast Asia along with conducting training exercises with foreign navies."

Even while Crommelin Sailors were sad to say goodbye to their families, they were ready for the challenges that may lie ahead.

"It is always difficult to leave my family for an extended period of time, but that is the nature of my job," said Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Kevin Pressren, assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 37 embarked on Crommelin.

"This is something I'm used to since this is my third deployment, but it's never easy to say goodbye."

Friends and family waved farewell from the pier as they watched their Sailors aboard Crommelin depart Pearl Harbor in route to the Pacific Ocean.

"I'm sad to see my husband leave, but I know that this is his job, and I can't wait until he gets back," said the wife of a Crommelin Sailor.

"It's not the greatest thing to see him leave, but it is something that I'm used to, and I just look forward to having him back home," added another wife of a Crommelin Sailor.

USS Crommelin is a versatile, multimission warship, able to execute a variety of operations. Originally designed to escort and protect convoys, underway replenishment groups, amphibious landing groups, and carrier battle groups, her multiple warfare systems, combined with her quick reaction and high speed capability, make her a valuable asset in today's multi-threat environment.

CTF 152 Concludes Exercise Goalkeeper

ARABIAN GULF (NNS) -- Combined Task Force (CTF) 152 recently concluded an eight-day, multilateral exercise in the Arabian Gulf, aimed at improving capabilities of coalition partners to counter smuggling operations.

Exercise Goalkeeper 2009, led by Capt. Mark Sedlacek, commander, Combined Task Group 152.1, provided coalition forces with best practices exercises and enhanced visit board search and seizure (VBSS) training opportunities for maritime security operations (MSO).

"In addition to familiarizing all forces with MSO, Goalkeeper emphasized the tactics and procedures required for covertly locating and tracking a vessel of interest," said Sedlacek. "This exercise also provided an opportunity for regional coalition naval forces to work together in the maritime environment and help improve coordination and communication."

During the exercise, joint training in operational procedures and boarding techniques for VBSS was conducted with U.S. naval and Coast Guard forces, Royal Navy Sailors and Marines as well as the Royal Bahrain Navy and Coast Guard.

Coalition units that participated in the exercise included RBNS Al-Muharraq (FPBBH 51), RBNS Al-Fadhel (TNCBH 22), USCGC Maui (WPB-1304), HMS Richmond (F239), staff members from Destroyer Squadron 28 and a variety of other small craft used in the counter-smuggling scenario.

Additionally, regional observers embarked aboard Richmond and were able to expand their knowledge through information exchanges and by observing the two distinct phases of Goalkeeper.

"We enjoyed the opportunity to train and work with our international partners in the Gulf Region," said Lt. Matt Rooney, USCG Maui's commanding officer. "The Royal Bahrain Naval Forces boarding teams showed remarkable knowledge in their boarding technique and procedures throughout the exercise."

First Lieutenant Essa S. Saqer, of the Royal Bahrain Navy was also appreciative of the joint training conducted with the U.S. Coast Guard.

"This exercise made significant contributions toward helping us better train to secure our territorial waters from future threats," he said.

Commanded by Rear Adm. Kurt Tidd, CTF 152 is an international task force that conducts MSO inside the Persian Gulf and complements the security activities of Gulf Cooperation Council nations.

MSO help develop security in the maritime environment and complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations. From security arises stability that results in global economic prosperity. These operations seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment to transport personnel and weapons or serve as a venue for attack.

Russian Navy deploys for Exercise FRUKUS-2009

Following extract taken from the Russian Ministry of Defence website, date of extract 10 June 2009. Translated by "Old Crow."

Large AS ship of the Northern Fleet, Severomorsk has departed to participate in Exercise FRUKUS-2009.

Today, the Large Anti Submarine Ship of the Northern Fleet, Severomorsk left the fleet's main naval base and has put to sea. She set sail for the shores of France in order to participate in the multinational maritime exercises "FRUKUS-2009", which will take place during the period 22-26 June.

FRUKUS is an annual event involving the maritime forces of France, Great Britain, the United States and Russia. The current training will take place in the North-East Atlantic in the approaches to the French naval base of Brest. The scenario for the exercise will be directed against Piracy in the coastal area. The main mission of the exercise will be to develop and formulate joint activities within the context of multinational operational formation.

In addition to the Russian warship, the French destroyer "Tourville", the USN destroyer "Klakring"(sic), the RN destroyer "Duke of York" and NATO naval aviation assets will take part.

Russian Military to Conduct Exercise

Following extract taken from the front page of the Russian military journal Red Star dated 16 June 2009. Translated by "Old Crow."

Strategic-Operations training "Caucasus 2009" will take place in the North Caucasus Military District during the period 29 June to 6 July 2009. This is in accordance with the schedule for training / exercising by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. This event will be under the overall direction of the Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation First Deputy Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation, General of Army Nikolaj Makarov and will involve units of the North Caucasus MD).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

One of the Nation's oldest Army units deploys to Iraq.

One of the Nation's oldest Army units left for a year-long deployment June 13 to Iraq.

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Jersey Troops Return

The last group of Soldiers with New Jersey's 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is safely home from Iraq.

Airmen execute Project Liberty

The first MC-12 Liberty aircraft in-theater taxies out of an aircraft hangar for its first combat sortie June 10 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. The Air Force's new manned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform, the MC-12 is designed to directly support ground forces with real-time ISR capability. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Tiffany Trojca)

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq (AFNS) -- Eighteen months ago officials created a plan to bolster the Air Force's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission by adding a new platform to the ISR inventory. Now the Airmen assigned to the 362nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron Detachment 1 here at Camp Liberty, Iraq, are charged with the task of standing up the new ISR mission using the newly configured C-12 Huron turboprop planes, designated MC-12W, as ISR platforms.

The program, called Project Liberty, involves Airmen operating the MC-12W aircraft out of Joint Base Balad, Iraq, and more Airmen serving as ground-based crew, gathering and analyzing the intelligence collected from here. The first combat sortie, flown June 9, was a complete success according to all parties involved.

In a recent interview, Maj. Gen. Blair E. Hansen, the A2 director of ISR capabilities and Air Force lead for the task force said, "this fight demands decisive information, surgical ISR, tailored to the level of the fight. This capability will give field commanders more important and timely knowledge to make critical decisions. To be effective in counterinsurgency requires micro information fast, to both kill or capture terrorists as well as to protect our joint and coalition force and the civilian population."

More than 20 trained professionals, all deployed form Langley AFB, Va., work day and night behind the scenes to gather and analyze all the data and imagery the aircraft collects, to provide forward deployed ground forces with the near real-time information to make key battlefield decisions.

"The purpose of Project Liberty is to provide intelligence directly to the warfighter," said Capt. Jeffrey Johnston, 362nd ERS Det. 1 commander. "We are providing daily support to the theater."

Captain Johnston said, the new ISR mission isn't exactly a new capability, but what is new is the concept of the platform and the fact that they are standing up new capabilities to the fight.

"It has been a tremendous amount of work, but we have the absolute best people to pave the way for this growing mission," said Captain Johnston.

According to the detachment's superintendent, standing up a new mission like this isn't ever easy, but said thanks to the hard work of his Airmen the gap has been bridged smoothly.

"There is a reason this team was handpicked to come here," said Master Sgt. Kyle LaLand, who is a native of Queens, N.Y. "I really think we are making a big difference for the guys fighting on the ground."

Airmen take over C-21 maintenance mission

by Senior Airman Brok McCarthy, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- For the first time in the history of the U.S. Central Command, the C-21s, the military version of the Learjet 35A, are being maintained by Airmen rather than contractors.

The 119th Aircraft Maintenance Unit stood up May 30 after 25 Airmen deployed here for 60 days from the North Dakota Air National Guard Base in Fargo, N.D.

"Air Mobility Command pilots have been flying the C-21 in the area of responsibility for at least the past 10 years, and our guard unit was partially mobilized to support the air tasking order," said Capt. Grant Larson, 119th AMU officer in charge. "Since our pilots were tasked to fly and support the ATO with guard aircraft, the decision was made to bring blue-suit maintenance as well."

The unit's noncommissioned officer in charge said their goal isn't to outshine the contractors who were taking care of the C-21, but to make sure they can meet any ATO that comes down.

"Hopefully, the 119th AMU taking over maintenance on the C-21 will be transparent," said Chief Master Sgt. Doug Faldet. "The contractors kept jets ready to fly at any time, and our goal is to do the same thing. Whenever someone needs to use one of our jets, they won't have to worry if it is ready to go or not."

The guard units at Fargo and at Bradley Air National Guard Base, Conn., were assigned the C-21 aircraft as a "bridge mission," helping the maintenance unit transition from maintaining fighters to maintaining cargo aircraft.

"In March of 2006, the North Dakota Air National Guard set a safety record by reaching 70,000 hours of accident-free flying in the F-16 aircraft," Captain Larson said. "The C-21 bridge mission will help us prepare for our follow on mission in the C-27 (Spartan) Joint Cargo Aircraft. Maintaining C-21 aircraft for an Expeditionary Airlift Squadron in the AOR will give us invaluable experience for when we get [the C-27], since we will probably be deployed quite a bit."

One of the biggest challenges the AMU has faced in the past two years is the fact that civilian contractors don't use technical orders like those used by maintenance Airmen.

"The customized maintenance manual that was built for the C-21 isn't written for a military setting," Chief Faldet said. "There are a lot of things that would normally be in a TO that the [manual] left out. Instead of giving step by step-by-step instructions, it will just say 'take this off.'"

Airmen also don't have the benefit of going through a detailed technical training program like with other airframes. Prior to working on the C-21, maintenance personnel are sent through a general introduction course and then a course on the jet's autopilot, both of which are two weeks long.

"It's been a lot of hands-on, scratch your head work, trying to figure things out," Chief Faldet said. "Just gaining system knowledge has been the hardest thing for us. The contractor who does maintenance has one airframe and power plant mechanic at each site to provide technical assistance, but he may or may not have run into a specific problem before."

In the short time since the unit stood up, it has already dealt with several major maintenance issues. But, Chief Faldet said the Airmen were able to fix them in good time.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

German Navy Provides Vital Support to BALTOPS

The German Navy auxiliary repair ship FGS Elbe (A511) comes alongside the German Navy fast attack craft FGS Nerz (P 6124) during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS). This is the 37th iteration of BALTOPS and is intended to improve interoperability with partner nations by conducting realistic training at sea with the 12 participating nations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christian T. Martinez/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christian T. Martinez, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa/Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

FGS ELBE, At Sea (NNS) -- German auxiliary repair ship FGS Elbe (A 511) provides support to more than 40 allied ships participating in Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise.

"This is why you join the Navy, to work in an allied environment," said German Cmdr. Senior Grade Stephen Haisch, commander of Fast Attack Squadron 7. "It's important to train with other nations because we have a lot to teach each other."

Elbe's mission is to support smaller units by providing everything from ammo and fuel to spare parts and technical assistance. Elbe is also armed with a forward supply specialist unit specifically designed for maintenance on engines and weapons systems at sea.

Although Elbe is equipped with the tools that it needs to support its ships, the crew has had a major overhaul and is in the midst of integrating all new personnel. Elbe's mission will not only help support partner nations, but it will give the new crew a chance to participate in crucial training throughout the duration of BALTOPS.

"We receive the training benefit, but we also get to show our capabilities to the other units, especially other nations' navies," said German Lt. Alexander Wiegleb, duty officer for the command task unit stationed aboard Elbe. "Altogether, it's a great honor for German units to be involved in this multinational maneuver."

BALTOPS is comprised of forces from 12 countries and is the largest multinational naval exercise this year in the Baltic Sea. The exercise aims to improve maritime security in the Baltic Sea through increased interoperability and cooperation among regional allies.