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  • Senate Confirms Slew of Air Force Nominees

    ​The Senate confirmed Lt. Gen. Tod D. Wolters for a fourth star and to head US Air Forces in Europe and Allied Air Command Wednesday night. Wolters, who has been the director of operations on the Joint Staff since July 2015, will replace ​Gen. Frank Gorenc, who is retiring in July. The Senate also confirmed 7th Air Force Commander and US Forces Korea Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy for a fourth star and for assignment as commander of Pacific Air Forces. He will replace Lt. Gen. Russell Handy who was appointed as interim commander in May after Gen. Lori Robinson moved to US Northern Command. Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, who currently serves as director of the F-35 integration office, was confirmed to command Air Forces Central Command. Maj. Gen. Richard Clark was confirmed for a third star and for assignment as head of 3rd Air Force and commander of the US Air Forces in Europe component at Ramstein AB, Germany. Maj. Gen. Thomas Bergeson will also receive a third star and serve as US Forces Korea deputy commander and 7th Air Force commander at Osan AB, South Korea, replacing O’Shaughnessy. The Senate also confirmed Maj. Gen. Stayce Harris, who will receive a third star and serve as assistant vice chief of staff of the Air Force and director of the Air Staff. Maj. Gen. VeraLinn Jamieson will become the deputy chief of staff for USAF Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance on the Air Staff. She will replace Lt. Gen. Robert Otto, who an Air Force spokesperson told Air Force Magazine is retiring. The nominations were among more than 60 military nominations confirmed Wednesday night.

  • Pentagon Reverses Ban on Transgender Troops

    ​The Pentagon on Thursday reversed its policy barring transgender individuals from openly serving in the military, prohibiting service members from being involuntarily separated, discharged, or denied reenlistment because of their gender identity. The Defense Department will by Oct. 1 create a commander’s training handbook, medical protocol, and guidance for changing a service member's gender in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment System. “We’re talking about talented Americans who are serving with distinction or who want the opportunity to serve,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Thursday in announcing the policy change. “We can’t allow barriers unrelated to a person’s qualifications prevent us from recruiting and retaining those who can best accomplish the mission.”

    Over the next year, the Pentagon will finalize training plans and implementation guidance, along with revising regulations to train commanders, human resources specialists, recruiters, and other service members. By July 1, 2017, the military will begin allowing transgender individuals to join the services, if they meet accession standards. These individuals will also be allowed entrance to service academies and the Reserve Officers Training Corps.The RAND Corporation, which released a study alongside the policy change on Thursday, estimated that between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender service members are currently in service. The study estimates there would be between 30 and 140 new hormone treatments per year, and 25 to 130 gender transition-related surgeries could occur per year among active troops. Additional health care costs could range between $2.4 million and $8.4 million, about a 0.13 percent increase. (See also: DOD Fact sheet on policy change and special report on DOD’s transgender policy.)

  • Confusion at Andrews

    ​Confusion abounded Thursday morning after a report of a real-world active shooter at a medical facility at JB Andrews, Md., coincided with a scheduled active shooter exercise on the other side of the base. An “all clear,” with the exception of the Malcolm Grow medical facility, was posted on the base’s Twitter account, around 10:40 a.m., about an hour and a half after receiving a report of a shooter. "First responders determined there was no threat to the base," according to an Andrews tweet. However, "reports of a real-world active shooter situation at the medical facility were miscommunicated before the exercise was able to begin," reads another tweet. An Air Force spokeswoman told Air Force Magazine first responders were giving the medical facility an extra sweep out of an abundance of caution. The base went into lockdown around 9 a.m., and personnel were directed to shelter in place, according to a release. “We take all threats seriously and reacted to ensure the security of those on the base. I applaud the quick reaction of our first responders in keeping the safety of our JBA family a No.1 priority,” said Col. Brad Hoagland, commander of the 11th Wing at Andrews. “In addition, we thank our local authorities for quickly standing by and offering their assistance.”

  • The Importance of Data Sharing

    ​With the increasing importance of fifth generation aircraft, such as the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II, two experienced​ Raptor pilots have drafted a preliminary concept of employment to help US and allied warfighters make better use of the advanced capabilities they bring. The authors, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian and Col. Max Marosko, at an AFA Mitchell Institute forum on Thursday. Harrigian, director of the Air Force F-35A Integration Office, emphasized the vast amounts of information the fifth gen aircraft can collect about the combat environment and the importance sharing that data with others, particularly US and allied fourth generation aircraft.  “When we fly together, if I see red [aircraft], it’s important that the other guy also sees red,” he said, referring to allied aircraft. “If you look at the plans we’re likely to be executing in the future, we’re going to need these guys.” Because the stealthy F-22 and F-35s are “the only ones that can go deep,” it is vital that they can get that data out, said Harrigian. To make that data exchange work, Marosko added, it’s important to get fifth generation pilots on key air staffs. (Read the Mitchell Forum paper.)

  • Fifth Gen Aircraft Need Better Training Systems

    ​Taking full advantage of the capabilities that fifth generation aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II will bring to any future fight will require improvements in high-tech training systems and to combat training ranges, two former Raptor pilots said. Improved training also will be important for the maintainers who must sustain the fifth gen aircraft’s radar-evading structural features, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian and Col. Max Marosko said in an AFA Mitchell Institute forum. Harrigian, director of the Air Force’s F-35 Integration office, said pilots “can’t adequately train” with the current training systems to fight in the dense integrated air defenses they could face. They will need “an appropriate mix of live, virtual, and constructive training scenarios and exercises,” he and Marosko said in the paper they presented. In addition to improving the ability to combine the electronic elements and actual flying, “we will have to prove to our young aviators that’s the way to go,” Harrigian said. Marosko, deputy director for air and cyberspace at Pacific Air Forces, said to get adequate training for the high-end fight, “we will need to ensure we have a proper range system.” He cited the large range in Alaska as an example. (See also: Ranges and Readiness from the April issue of Air Force Magazine.) (Read the Mitchell Forum paper.)

  • Command Failures Led to Iran’s Seizure of Navy Boats

    ​Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson briefs the press at the Pentagon on June 30, 2016. Screenshot photo.

  • NATO Hosts ISR-Processing Exercise

    7/1/2016

    ​Seventeen nations came together to improve intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data processing through a two-week NATO exercise in June. Exercise Unified Vision, which ran from June 14-29, included an Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk and a Belgian B-Hunter remotely piloted aircraft sending data to 10 sites manned by a team of 400 participants. The exercise focused on five complex “vignettes,” including convoy protection, hostage rescue, domestic terror threat, and ballistic missile defense, according to a NATO release. US Air Forces in Europe hosted the exercise’s command post at the Warrior Preparation Center in Germany, with additional locations in Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and in the US, according to NATO.

  • Carlisle Invited to Order of the Sword

    7/1/2016

    ​Air Combat Command boss Gen. Hawk Carlisle speaks during an enlisted all-call at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., June 28, 2016. Air Force photo by TSgt. Steve Stanley.

    ​Air Combat Command boss Gen. Hawk Carlisle was invited to be inducted into the Order of the Sword—the highest honor awarded by the enlisted force—on June 28. Carlisle was presented with the invitation after concluding an enlisted all-call Tuesday morning, according to an ACC release. Toward the end of his presentation to the enlisted airmen, Carlisle said he probably wouldn’t be in the Air Force much longer. “And I have to tell you, nothing makes me prouder than standing side by side with you,” he said. He said receiving the invitation was an “incredible honor.”

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