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  • Andersen Detachment on Hold, For Now

    ​Pacific Air Force officials have not yet signed a memorandum of understanding that would allow Air Force Global Strike Command to set up a detachment of personnel at Andersen AFB, Guam, to support the command's continuous bomber presence mission. "We are still in discussions with AFGSC regarding the MOU," PACAF spokesman MSgt. Matthew McGovern told Air Force Magazine. "Currently, we are determining how the detachment will operate within the PACAF chain of command. This, understandably, raises questions regarding administrative and operational control." Global Strike has proposed a detachment of roughly 30 Active Duty personnel in a variety of specialties, including mission planners, combat crew communications, a flight safety officer, a standardization and evaluation officer, as well as maintainers, former AFGSC boss Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson said in June. Lt. Col. Michael Pritchett, who has been tapped to lead the detachment, was originally expected to deploy to Andersen in September along with his superintendent, while the rest of the personnel were slated to arrive by December. However, those deployments are on hold until the MOU is signed, AFGSC officials said. "I cannot provide a specific date of completion, but both of our commands are working closely to ensure effective, responsive lines of control," said McGovern. "PACAF has maintained close working ties with AFGSC since its founding and we believe this detachment will further enhance our relationship." (See also Bombers on Guam from the August issue of Air Force Magazine.)

  • Incirlik Ops Increasing Flexibility in Iraq, Syria

    The operations of six F-16s from Incirlik AB, Turkey, has significantly broadened coalition air operations against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria, according to the head of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea told reporters Sept. 4 that even though there are only six jets currently operating out of Incirlik, “the F-16s are not alone” in their participation in anti-ISIS strikes. “We are flying armed [remotely piloted aircraft] out of there as well, and that has been an expansion to our capabilities in the northern part of Syria and Iraq,” he said. The F-16s from Aviano AB, Italy, which arrived on Aug. 9, are having a “great effect” on operations, especially since they have aerial tanker support, which increases loiter time over targets and improves flexibility for strikes at greater distances. Killea also praised the inclusion of Turkish air assets into the coalition air tasking order, saying the move will help ensure “further operational integration” in the campaign. However, he declined to provide information on the number and location of strikes Turkish aircraft have carried out so far. When asked if the USAF presence would be enhanced at Incirlik or other Turkish installations, Killea said he could not talk to “the details of the discussions going on between the Turkish government and the coalition.”

  • Russian Involvement in Syria?

    ​Operation Inherent Resolve officials and now Moscow are denying or demurring on reports Russia has dispatched combat aircraft to Syria with pilots and advisors to assist the Assad regime by striking ISIS and rebel elements. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea, chief of staff for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, told Pentagon reporters Sept. 4 he did not "have any information on Russian activity in Syria," but he also acknowledged, "We have issues with the regime obviously operating in Syria." For example, CJTF-OIR planners must deconflict air sorties with Syrian government operations. "I can't imagine that if we went down that road [deconflicting with Russian aircraft] would be much different," he added. No credible open press or satellite imagery has emerged thus far to confirm the deployment has occurred. "Russia maintains [military technical] cooperation with Syria and supports it," Dimitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, told the Russian news wire TASS on Sept. 3. "You should not believe these media reports," he added when asked about Russian airstrikes in Syria.

  • Spotlight: SSgt. Douglas Kechijian

    9/8/2015

    ​SSgt. Douglas Kechijian, a pararescueman with the Air National Guard’s 103rd Rescue Squadron at Westhampton Beach, N.Y., is one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2015. Air Force photo.

    ​SSgt Douglas Kechijian, a pararescueman with the Air National Guard's 103rd Rescue Squadron at Westhampton Beach, N.Y., is one of the Air Force's 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2015. Kechijian excelled as a pararescue element leader in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. While deployed, he singlehandedly saved 12 critically injured soldiers during two improvised explosive device incidents. He was the element leader on a medevac mission aboard USS James E. Williams, recovering two injured sailors at sea. Kechijian created and took charge of the casualty collection point during a high-risk operation and expertly triaged several patients. He trained 12 US Army infantry soldiers to ensure tactical level interoperability with a dedicated recovery search and rescue security team. Additionally, he completed his doctorate in physical therapy from Columbia University with a 3.6 GPA. Air Force Magazine is shining the spotlight on each OAY in the days leading up to AFA's Air & Space Conference, which starts Sept. 14 in National Harbor, Md. Also featured were: SrA. Allen Cherry, SrA. Meaghan Holley, SrA. Mason Meherg, SSgt. Kresston Davis, SSgt. Lindsey Fuentes, SSgt. Kurtis Harrison, and SSgt. Travis Jordan.

  • Record Year for Davis-Monthan Deployments

    9/8/2015

    Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., has deployed more than 1,200 people and nearly 600 tons of cargo this year, shattering previous deployment records, according to a base release. Airmen from every Active Duty unit on base have deployed in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, Operation Freedom Sentinel, Operation Inherent Resolve, and Operation Resolute Support. Airmen and 12 A-10C Thunderbolts from the 355th Fighter Wing were latest to return home in August from the first theater security Package to Europe. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) congratulated the base and its airmen in a written statement. “The pace and scope of operations supported by service members from D-M have proven the versatility of its mission set, and the resiliency of the men and women who call the base home,” he said.

  • CSAR Unit Activates for Iraq and Syria

    9/8/2015

    The 1st Expeditionary Rescue Group activated at an undisclosed base in the Persian Gulf region to provided combat search and rescue for coalition forces operating over Iraq and Syria, officials announced. After ISIS fanatics burned a downed Jordanian F-16 pilot to death in February, "it became readily apparent that we needed a rescue group to harmonize rescue initiatives across the Levant area of operations," 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander Col. Michael Koscheski said in a release. The US military has conducted two personnel recovery missions in theater to date—including an attempt to rescue the Jordanian pilot—and aircrew had flown some 6,419 airstrikes through the end of August. The unit stood up to assume responsibility for the Guardian Angels, HH-60s helicopters, and HC-130 rescue support aircraft in the region, Sept. 1.

  • Hickam Active Tanker Association Ends

    9/8/2015

    ​The Active Duty 96th Air Refueling Squadron at JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, inactivated as an associate unit to the Hawaii Air National Guard's 203rd ARS in a ceremony Sept. 3, according to a release. The squadron stood up to augment KC-135 manning to meet increased tanker requirements in the Pacific region, forming an active association in 2010. Unit airmen took part in operations Inherent Resolve over Iraq and Syria among other operations, flying some 1,800 sorties over 6,500 flying hours, and providing more than 36 million pounds of fuel to US and partner-nation aircraft, officials stated.

  • Guard Trains Forest Service on C-130 MAFFS

    9/8/2015

    Air National Guard C-130 aircrew are training their US Forest Service counterparts to employ the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System to augment wildfire suppression capability. The USFS crews are flying the first of seven HC-130Hs, which were passed from the Coast Guard in exchange for 14 former ANG C-27J Spartans, according to a release. "We are extremely pleased to be able to leverage our experience and our long-standing relationship with the USFS to provide this critical training," said Wyoming ANG 153rd Airlift Wing Commander Col. Bradley Swanson. The unit is conducting the training amidst ongoing firefighting operations at McLellan Airfield, Calif., where several of the unit's C-130s are currently forward deployed. The Forest Service will use the roll-on MAFFS units through the 2016 fire season, after which its HC-130s will be retrofit with permanent fire-fighting equipment. All seven aircraft are scheduled for delivery by 2019, according to the release.