Airmen Killed in Afghanistan
TSgt. Adam K. Ginett, 29, of Knightdale, N.C., and SrA. Bradley R. Smith, 24, of Troy, Ill., died in separate incidents in January in Afghanistan while supporting combat operations.
Ginett died Jan. 19 near Kandahar Airfield of wounds he suffered from an improvised explosive device. He was an explosive ordnance disposal technician who had deployed from the 31st Civil Engineer Squadron at Aviano AB, Italy.
Smith was killed on Jan. 3 near Kandahar when an IED exploded near his vehicle, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Jan. 11. He was assigned to the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron, an Air Force tactical air control party unit stationed at Ft. Riley, Kan., that operates with elements of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division.
Airman’s Remains Recovered in Haiti
The remains of Maj. Kenneth Bourland, 37, of Birmingham, Ala., were found Feb. 7 at the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where he had been staying on official business.
Borland was part of a five-member delegation from US Southern Command, including US Army Lt. Gen. P. K. Keen, SOUTHCOM deputy commander, that had traveled to Haiti on Jan. 12, the day the magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the Caribbean nation, collapsing the hotel among the widespread damage.
The four other members of the group survived. Air Force officials said Bourland, a career helicopter pilot, had been selected for promotion to lieutenant colonel in June 2009, and action is pending on a posthumous promotion.
USAF Studies Huey Replacement
The Air Force issued a request for information in mid-December, seeking industry input on the in-production helicopter designs well-suited to be the Common Vertical Lift Support Platform, the much-desired replacement to the service’s Vietnam War-era UH-1N Huey helicopters.
Per the solicitation, Air Force officials anticipate acquiring up to 93 new platforms to supplant the current fleet of 62 Hueys, which protect the nation’s ICBM fields, shuttle VIPs, and rescue civilians. USAF wants the first operational unit of six new helicopters ready for use by September 2015.
Among its attributes, CVLSP should be capable of: carrying nine combat-equipped troops and four crew members, maintaining at least 135 knots true air speed, flying 259 miles unrefueled, and surviving against small-arms fire.
Boeing Starts Building A-10 Wings
Boeing announced Jan. 18 that it had started work on the first replacement wing set for the A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack aircraft at its production facility in Macon, Ga. The company expects to deliver this first set in September for installation by 2011.
The Air Force contracted Boeing in 2007 to supply some 242 wing sets to replace the wings on so-called thin-skinned A-10s that were starting to experience cracking. Boeing will deliver the sets in four parts—three wing sections and an installation kit—to Hill AFB, Utah, where Ogden Air Logistics Center technicians will install the wings.
Meanwhile, as an interim fix to ensure safety of flight with the thin-skinned A-10s, Air Force technicians are adding steel straps and stronger fittings to some of these aircraft.
Mullen Outlines Priorities
Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Dec. 21 signed out his new Joint Guidance for 2009-10.
The new guidance focuses on three priorities: defending US interests in the Middle East and South Central Asia; maintaining the health of the US military force (people and systems); and balancing global strategic risk. It closely follows the previous guidance, except for the addition of South Central Asia to the defending-US-interests priority.
Mullen emphasized “strengthening professional relationships with our regional counterparts” in the Middle East and South Central Asia as “essential to addressing our shared interests,” and he advocated “finding the right size, shape, and posture to globally detect, deter, and defeat current and future threats.”
Family Center Opens at Dover
The Air Force on Jan. 6 opened the Center for Families of the Fallen on the grounds of Dover AFB, Del., for family members who travel to the base to witness the return of their fallen loved ones’ remains.
Dover is the site of the sole US military mortuary in the continental US where military personnel who die overseas are returned home. The new center, a 6,000-square-foot facility, created by renovating a former base convenience store, is designed to provide a comfortable waiting and grieving area for the families.
“This center is emblematic of our genuine gratitude to the families of our fallen service members,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz at the dedication ceremony. Construction began in November 2009 and was completed within 60 days. The center replaced a smaller facility that had served in this role.
Extended BMT Proving Successful
Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley toured the Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills and Training complex at Lackland AFB, Tex., and presided over the basic military training graduation ceremony on Jan. 8.
“This is the first-year anniversary of the extension of BMT from 6.5 to 8.5 weeks,” Donley told the fresh crop of graduates. He said those extra two weeks, which were added to incorporate instruction in skills that better prepare airmen for the current fights in Afghanistan and Iraq, are making their mark.
“I think it has succeeded,” he said of the extension. But the service needs to continue ensuring that this training stays relevant to current threats, such as dealing with improvised explosive devices, said Donley. “This is exactly the type of training we need to give our airmen from the very beginning,” he said.
Public Meetings Review F-35 Basing
The Air Force in mid-January began a set of public scoping meetings to discuss the potential beddown of combat-ready F-35 Lightning II strike fighter units at one or more of the six candidate bases: Hill AFB, Utah; Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; Shaw AFB, S.C.; Burlington Arpt., Vt.; Jacksonville Arpt., Fla.; and McEntire JNGB, S.C.
These meetings allowed citizens from the communities around these installations to express their views on the basing as part of the environmental impact analyses required by US law before the Air Force may render any final basing decisions, which are expected in early 2011. The meetings were scheduled to conclude in mid-February.
Back in October 2009, the Air Force announced those six active duty bases and Air National Guard installations as candidates to host operational F-35s, along with five additional prospective sites for F-35 training: Eglin AFB, Fla.; Holloman AFB, N.M.; Luke AFB, Ariz.; and the ANG stations in Boise, Idaho, and Tucson, Ariz.
Black Sheep Get First F-22
The 8th Fighter Squadron at Holloman AFB, N.M., in December took delivery of the first of its 20 planned F-22 Raptor stealth fighters. This aircraft, the unit’s new flagship, arrived Dec. 21. It was formerly assigned to the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Va.
Holloman’s 49th Fighter Wing is scheduled to receive 40 F-22s. Its 7th Fighter Squadron, sister unit to the 8th, was near its full complement of 20 as of late January. The 8th, known as the “Black Sheep,” is expected to have its 20 F-22s in place by around the end of 2010.
The unit had been without aircraft since April 2008, when it retired its F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft. Holloman is also under consideration to host F-35 Lightning II strike fighters. Air Force officials have said if F-35s end up there, they might relocate the F-22s.
Joint Base Initiatives Advance
Air Force officials on Jan. 7 activated the 633rd Air Base Wing at Langley AFB, Va., the host unit that will oversee operations of JB Langley, which stood up at the end of January.
The new joint base, consolidating the base support functions of Langley and the Army’s nearby Ft. Eustis under one administrative roof, is one of 12 joint bases being created as a result of BRAC 2005. Like all future joint bases, the goal is to reap cost savings by eliminating redundant base support services for nearby installations.
On Jan. 8, Air Mobility Command officials activated the 628th Air Base Wing at Charleston AFB, S.C. It will serve as the host unit for JB Charleston, the union of Charleston Air Force Base and the nearby Naval Weapons Station. Like JB Langley, its formal merger occurred at the end of January.
Pilot Error Caused F-16 Collision
Air Combat Command investigators found that an F-16 pilot’s failure to reduce air speed and execute proper maneuvers when rejoining his flight lead during a nighttime training mission over the Atlantic Ocean last October led to a midair collision that killed the pilot and damaged the flight leader’s aircraft.
Capt. Nicholas Giglio lost his life when the F-16s collided, ACC said Jan. 11 in releasing the findings of its accident investigation board. His F-16 impacted the water and was destroyed. Capt. Lee Bryant, the flight lead, was uninjured and managed to land his moderately damaged aircraft safely at Charleston AFB, S.C.
Giglio also experienced a radar failure that diverted his attention, according to ACC. Both F-16s were from the 77th Fighter Squadron at Shaw AFB, S.C. The collision occurred 145 miles southeast of the base.
C-130J Makes Africa Debut
The 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein AB, Germany, in December concluded its first mission to Africa when using one of its new C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft.
The wing’s 37th Airlift Squadron on Dec. 19 completed the mission, carrying 17 US troops from Mali to Ramstein on a C-130J after they had helped train Malian forces. The flight was in support of 17th Air Force (Air Forces Africa), also headquartered at Ramstein.
The 37th AS is building a force of 14 C-130Js, which are replacing C-130Es that the unit flew for decades. As of late January, 10 of the 14 C-130Js were in place, with the final four expected to arrive by later this year. Compared to earlier C-130 variants, the J model has features such as greater range and more payload capacity.
45th Fighter Squadron Reactivated
Air Force Reserve Command officials on Jan. 7 formally reactivated the 45th Fighter Squadron, an A-10 Thunderbolt II training unit, at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. The unit last flew A-10 ground-attack aircraft before its deactivation in 1994.
The resurrected squadron, which falls administratively under the 917th Wing at Barksdale AFB, La., forms a classic associate arrangement with Davis-Monthan’s active duty 355th Fighter Wing to train new, upgrading, and returning A-10 pilots.
The Air Force in 2008 announced its intent to bring back the 45th FS, which traces its roots to the 45th Pursuit Squadron, activated in Hawaii in 1940. The 917th Wing also has the 47th FS, a stand-alone A-10 training unit at Barksdale.
AMP Developmental Testing Done
The Air Force in mid-December concluded the development test and evaluation phase of the C-130 Avionics Modernization Program under which the service is adding modern cockpit displays and communication and navigation systems to 221 C-130H-model transport aircraft.
According to a Dec. 22 release from the 412th Test Support Squadron at Edwards AFB, Calif., the three-year effort tallied 295 test missions, including globe-spanning expeditions, and more than 1,000 flight hours. The first AMP test aircraft flew in September 2006.
With the AMP upgrades, these C-130 aircraft are expected to remain viable for decades and be capable of flying safely in congested international airspace.
C-5 RERP Ramps Up
Lockheed Martin announced on Jan. 11 that it had received the next funding increment to continue modernizing a portion of the C-5 Galaxy transport fleet with new engines and reliability improvements.
The $344.3 million infusion covers work on 15 aircraft during the low-rate production phase of the C-5 Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program. While all 111 C-5s in the fleet are getting state-of-the-art avionics under a separate modernization project, only 52 C-5s are slated to receive the RERP improvements.
A C-5 with both sets of new gear is designated a C-5M Super Galaxy. Already, the Air Force has three C-5Ms, all used as test aircraft. The next C-5M is expected to arrive in the fleet come September, said Lockheed.
Spangdahlem Retains Importance
Gen. Roger A. Brady, outgoing US Air Forces in Europe commander, told airmen of the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, on Jan. 8 that the base will continue to be an important fighter hub in Europe as well as a site for supporting air mobility missions even after the planned retirement of 18 of the wing’s 42 F-16s.
“We have some capability here that we don’t have other places,” explained Brady, who is retiring after leading USAFE since January 2008. Gen. (sel.) Mark A. Welsh III has been confirmed by the Senate to replace him.
Spangdahlem’s fighter drawdown will essentially strip the base of one of its two F-16 squadrons and about 450 manpower authorizations. It is part of the broader Air Force plan to phase out up to 254 legacy fighters across the fleet in Fiscal 2010 to free up funds for fighter modernization. The 52nd Fighter Wing also has one A-10 squadron.
Singapore F-16 Training To Arizona
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced Jan. 7 that the government of Singapore has decided to train its F-16 pilots with the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Fighter Wing at Tucson Arpt, Ariz.
“This decision will bring an additional $60 million into Tucson’s economy,” wrote McCain. He added that it was also a vote of confidence as the Tucson Air Guard unit vies to be selected to operate F-35 Lightning II strike fighters.
The Ohio ANG’s 178th Fighter Wing at Springfield-Beckley Airport learned Jan. 4 it would not get the new contract, reported the Springfield News-Sun on the following day. The unit is losing its F-16s under BRAC 2005. It expects to wrap up its training mission for Dutch F-16 pilots this fall. As of late January, it had not been assigned a new mission.
SBIRS Reviews Completed
Air Force officials on Dec. 29 announced the successful completion of critical design reviews for the sensor payloads that will reside on the next batch of Lockheed Martin-built Space Based Infrared System satellites, which are designed to warn of ballistic missile launches.
This group encompasses the payloads for the next two geosynchronous satellites in the SBIRS series, GEO-3, and GEO-4, and the payloads dubbed HEO-3 and HEO-4 that will reside on classified intelligence spacecraft.
“Payload CDR culminates 21 months of effort replacing obsolete parts and implementing lessons learned from our first two GEO and HEO payloads,” said Col. Scott Larrimore, SBIRS Space Group commander at Los Angeles AFB, Calif. HEO-1 and HEO-2 are already on orbit. GEO-1 is slated for launch in 2011, followed by GEO-2.
Toledo Solar Farm Expanding
Officials with the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing in Toledo, together with local politicians and industry representatives, on Jan. 5 celebrated the new phase of expansion of the solar project at the Air Guard base at Toledo Express Airport.
The Phase 4 expansion will increase by 50 percent the output of this solar energy system, allowing it to generate 1.2 megawatts of electricity, or more than one-third of the base’s energy needs, reported the Toledo Free Press Jan. 8.
Development and construction of this solar field began in 2006. It is the largest solar field in the state of Ohio and the largest on any National Guard base in the country. In less than two years, it has already saved the base about $140,000 in electricity costs, said Col. Mark E. Bartman, 180th Fighter Wing commander.
F135 Program Shifts Gears
Pratt & Whitney announced Jan. 5 that it had delivered the final F135 test engine in the configuration designed for the Air Force’s F-35A and Navy’s F-35C Lightning II strike fighters and was poised to begin deliveries of the production version of this engine.
This milestone is “another demonstration of the continued maturing” of the F135, said Warren Boley, Pratt & Whitney’s vice president of F135 engine programs. F135 test units had already logged more than 12,850 test hours, both on the ground and in the air, by then.
The F135 is locked in competition with the General Electric-Rolls Royce F136 engine to power future F-35s. Congress continues to fund the F136 despite the Pentagon’s attempts to terminate its development, citing more pressing funding needs.
New Bomber for China Threat
Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) on Jan. 13 told Adm. Robert F. Willard, head of US Pacific Command, that the Pentagon should “put even more emphasis on the need for the next generation bomber” in light of China’s new ballistic missile capability designed to negate US aircraft carriers.
Willard, appearing before the House Armed Services Committee hearing on potential Chinese security threats, said, “Certainly our bomber force and any recapitalization of our bomber force” are part of the defense strategy, which entails looking at a broad range of capabilities.
Fleming’s Congressional district includes Barksdale Air Force Base, a B-52H bomber hub. He is co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Long-Range Strike, along with Rep. Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam).
Boeing Logs More C-17 Orders
Boeing on Jan. 6 announced a contract signing to supply the United Arab Emirates with six C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft. The UAE will take delivery of four C-17s in 2011 and two in 2012, according to the company. It is the second Middle East nation after Qatar to buy the C-17.
Two days later, Boeing disclosed that it had received a letter of request from India for the “potential acquisition” of 10 C-17s to replace and augment the Indian Air Force’s Russian-made An-32 and Il-76 airlifters.
As of mid-January, there were 212 C-17s in use worldwide, including 193 with the US Air Force. Australia (four), Britain (six), Canada (four), Qatar (two), and the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability consortium (three) operate the remainder. In mid-December, news surfaced that the Royal Air Force will acquire a seventh C-17 in December 2010.
Pilot’s Remains Identified
The Department of Defense announced Jan. 12 that it had identified the remains of Air Force Maj. Russell C. Goodman, who was shot down in an F-4B Phantom fighter over North Vietnam on Feb. 20, 1967.
They were scheduled for return to his family for burial in Alaska. Goodman was flying with the Navy from USS Enterprise on an exchange program. Navy Lt. Gary L. Thornton and he were on a bombing mission against a North Vietnamese railroad yard in Thanh Hoa province when their F-4B was struck by anti-aircraft fire and exploded.
While Thornton was able to eject—and was taken captive—Goodman was killed. Goodman’s remains were recovered during two crash site excavations between 1993 and 2008 and identified with forensic tools, including DNA identification.
Offshore Drilling and Eglin
Col. Bruce H. McClintock, commander of the 96th Air Base Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., told Florida state legislators on Jan. 13 that oil and gas drilling in waters near the base would threaten its operations, reported the Pensacola News Journal Jan. 14.
The legislators were considering a measure that would lift the 20-year-old drilling ban in Florida waters. McClintock told them that above-water pumping stations attract sportfishing, whose participants would be at risk during tests in which missiles are fired at drones over the Gulf of Mexico.
Spent missile and drone bodies “have to fall somewhere,” he said. Lobbyists for drilling maintain that exclusion zones would be sufficient to protect military training areas.
Vietnam War Airman Laid to Rest
The remains of CMSgt. Melvin D. Rash, a C-130 loadmaster, missing since his aircraft went down on May 22, 1968 near the Vietnam-Laos border, were laid to rest Dec. 7 with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.
The Newport News Daily Press reported Dec. 28 that the aircraft’s wreckage was found in 2002, but it took another six years for military investigators to get to the site and find the human remains of Rash and four more of the aircraft’s nine crew members.
According to the Pentagon’s Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, Rash’s remains were identified in March 2009. He was 21 at the time of the crash, which was due presumably to enemy fire. The remains of CMSgt. John Q. Adam, one of Rash’s crewmates, were laid to rest in Kansas City, Kan., last July.
Retired Maj. Gen. John J. Pesch, Air National Guard director from April 1974 to January 1977, died Jan. 10 at his home in Virginia at age 88. Pesch entered the Army Air Corps in 1942, initially flying the A-24 and later the B-17 in which he flew 31 combat missions. He joined the Maine Air National Guard after the war and returned to active duty for the Korean War and again in 1959, serving on the Air Staff. After a stint with Air Defense Command, he became deputy director in 1966 of the Air Guard at the National Guard Bureau. Retired Lt. Gen. John B. Conaway, former NGB chief, said Pesch “reset the Air National Guard after the Vietnam War with new fighter force structure and established the active duty rotational missions” for it.
Retired Lt. Gen. James F. Record, who led 12th Air Force and Air Forces Southern prior to his retirement in 1997, died Dec. 22 from a form of leukemia at age 71, according to a notice in the Arizona Daily Star. Record entered the Air Force in 1961 through ROTC at Purdue University in Indiana and earned his pilot wings in 1962. He flew as a forward air controller in O-1 and O-2 aircraft and was an F-100 instructor pilot in Vietnam, accumulating 616 combat missions. Over his career, he commanded three fighter wings and an air division. He later served as first deputy commander of Joint Task Force Middle East in the late 1980s and commanded the Joint Task Force Southwest Asia from November 1992 to March 1993. Post military, Record joined Hughes Aircraft and remained with the company (acquired by Raytheon) until 2007.
Retired Lt. Gen. Robert H. Warren, US Air Force Academy superintendent from July 1962 to July 1965, died Jan. 9 in his home in Charleston, W.Va., at age 92, according to a notice in the Charleston Daily Mail. Born in Yankton, S.D., in 1917, Warren graduated from West Point in 1940 and received his flying wings the following year. During World War II, he led several bomber units, including the 376th Bombardment Group, and flew 38 combat missions in the B-24 bomber. During the latter part of his Air Force career, Warren served as assistant deputy chief of staff for personnel on the Air Staff and as deputy assistant secretary of defense for military assistance and sales. He retired from the Air Force in July 1971.
Retired Col. Albert J. “Red” Wetzel, who led the Titan missile program, died Dec. 26 in New Orleans at age 91. Wetzel entered pilot training in 1942, flying a number of aircraft, including the B-47 in Strategic Air Command. He also served as chief project officer for USAF’s first ground-launched cruise missile, the Matador, and while leading the Titan program, helped develop procedures for ballistic missile launch from hardened, underground silos and for launch of the manned Gemini spacecraft. As executive assistant to the commander of the Ballistic Systems Division, he established a scientific advisory group. Before retiring from the Air Force in 1965, he served as director of Strategic Programs with the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. He was inducted into the Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame in 2003.
|US Repositioning GPS Satellites to Bolster Coverage
US Strategic Command announced Jan. 7 that it had initiated an effort with Air Force Space Command to improve the signal coverage provided by Global Positioning System navigation satellites to warfighters in places such as Afghanistan.
“Terrain in geographically challenging areas can degrade complete coverage of GPS signals,” stated the command in explaining the decision.
Accordingly, STRATCOM said GPS satellites would be repositioned, essentially spreading out the constellation so that the number of satellites in view from any single point on Earth would increase, potentially enhancing the accuracy of GPS receivers.
The plan replaces the existing strategy of placing new satellites close to older ones to mitigate loss of coverage if one satellite goes down.
It is expected to take about 24 months to implement as the satellites are repositioned based on constellation health.
“The beneficial impact to all GPS users, including civilian users, will be slowly realized during that time period,” stated the command.
The new strategy takes advantage of the current size of the GPS constellation, which STRATCOM said is the largest in GPS history. There are more than 30 satellites on orbit.
STRATCOM said this initiative is just one of the efforts with the Air Force to enhance GPS capability continually.
Along those lines, the Air Force on Jan. 11 transitioned to a new version of the software used with the GPS ground control element at Schriever AFB, Colo.
This new software build includes telemetry, tracking, and command functions for the new GPS Block IIF satellites, the first of which is expected to be on orbit in mid-2010.
It also features robust security improvements, such as “over-the-air” distribution of encryption keys to properly equipped military users, stated the Space and Missile Systems Center in a Jan. 7 release.
|John P. Murtha, 1932-2010
Rep. John P. Murtha, a 19-term member of Congress and chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, died in February at the age of 77.
Murtha was one of the most influential and hawkish Democrats in Congress, known for his advocacy of weapon systems and benefits for military veterans. He was one of the chief Congressional opponents of President Obama’s termination of the F-22 Raptor, the F136 engine for the F-35 strike fighter, and the new VH-71 Presidential helicopter. He pushed to resolve gridlock over the KC-X aerial tanker replacement by promoting the purchase of both competing entries in that competition. He was the first combat veteran of the Vietnam War to be elected to Congress.
Murtha was born in West Virginia in 1932 and grew up near Pittsburgh. He dropped out of college to join the Marine Corps in 1952, saying he felt compelled to serve during the Korean War. He became a drill instructor and was selected for officer candidate school. He joined the Marine Corps Reserve in 1955 and continued to serve until 1990, retiring as a colonel after 35 years.
In civilian life, Murtha ran family businesses. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in economics, on the GI Bill.
He volunteered for active duty in Vietnam from 1966 to 1967, receiving the Bronze Star Medal and two Purple Hearts during his service as an intelligence officer near Da Nang.
Murtha was elected to Congress in 1974, on his second try, after serving in the Pennsylvania legislature. He became chairman of the HAC defense panel in 1989, and remained chair until 1995. He was its ranking Democrat from 1995 to 2007, and became its chair again in 2008 when the Democrats won back the House. In 2006, he failed in a bid to become majority leader.
Dubbed by critics “the king of pork,” Murtha was unapologetic for channeling federal funds to his Pennsylvania district, which struggled with the loss of steel and coal jobs. His skill in getting money for his district, and a willingness to throw contracts to constituents caused him to be dogged by investigations and inquiries most of his tenure, but he was never officially charged with wrongdoing. In the infamous “Abscam” scandal of 1982, Murtha was named as an unindicted co-conspirator. In late 2009, a House ethics panel declined to bring charges against him for earmarking $100 million that went to a defense contractor in his district.
Murtha led many Congressional delegations abroad and advised Presidents of both parties on military and foreign affairs matters. He worked to secure Congressional funding for the Nunn-Lugar amendment, providing funds to decommission nuclear weapons of the former Soviet Union.
Working with Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson, Murtha steered funds to provide Afghan rebels with weapons and Stinger missiles to combat the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Murtha voted to give President George W. Bush the authority to pursue war with Iraq in 2002, but later became the war’s most visible Congressional critic, eventually declaring the conflict militarily unwinnable. In 2005, he said the war “is not going as advertised,” that the US was pursuing a “flawed policy wrapped in illusion,” and called for an immediate withdrawal of US troops.
Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “That we remain the greatest military in the history of the world is testament in no small part to his vigilance and stewardship.”
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he would always be grateful for Murtha’s “personal efforts on behalf of the Afghan resistance fighting the Soviets—efforts that helped bring about the end of the Cold War.”
Gates said that although he and Murtha “did not always agree, …I always respected his candor and knew that he cared deeply about the men and women of America’s military and intelligence community.”
—By John A. Tirpak
|Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
By Feb. 11, a total of 973 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 971 troops and two Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 702 were killed in action with the enemy, while 271 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 4,923 troops wounded in action during OEF. This number includes 2,067 who were wounded and returned to duty within 72 hours and 2,856 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
First MC-12 Arrives in Afghanistan
The first Air Force MC-12W intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance aircraft destined for operations in Afghanistan arrived Dec. 27 at Bagram Airfield. That same day, the 4th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron stood up at Bagram to operate these twin-engine turboprop aircraft.
“Knowledge is power and that is what we provide,” said Lt. Col. Douglas Lee, the new unit’s commander.
The MC-12 provides real-time full-motion video to ground troops and also collects signals intelligence. By late summer, the Air Force expects to have 24 MC-12s operating in Afghanistan. Six MC-12s already operate in Iraq out of Joint Base Balad.
Air Guardsmen Deploy to Afghanistan With A-10Cs
Air Guardsmen from Arkansas’ 188th Fighter Wing and Maryland’s 175th Wing arrived Jan. 11-13 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, with their A-10C ground-attack aircraft to form the 104th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron that will provide close air support to coalition troops in Afghanistan for several months.
These airmen relieved members of the 354th EFS there who returned to Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., after flying more than 2,500 sorties over six months at Kandahar.
For the airmen of the 188th FW, it was the first deployment with A-10s.
Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq
By Feb. 11, a total of 4,378 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The total includes 4,365 troops and 13 Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 3,478 were killed in action with the enemy, while 900 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 31,648 troops wounded in action during OIF. This number includes 17,730 who were wounded and returned to duty within 72 hours and 13,918 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
US Forces-Iraq Stands Up
Activation of US Forces-Iraq, the new single headquarters organization for all US military forces in Iraq, took place Jan. 1 at Camp Victory, Iraq. It replaced organizations including Multinational Force-Iraq and Multinational Corps-Iraq that were inactivated at the same ceremony.
Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who led MNF-I, now commands USF-I. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, head of US Central Command, said at the ceremony the new command “represents another important milestone in the continued drawdown of American forces.”
All US combat ground troops are expected to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. Troops from 30 different nations served as part of MNF-I during its tenure, but the last coalition troops left Iraq in July 2009.
Hawk Base Returns to Iraqi Control
US Forces-Iraq on Jan. 1 transferred responsibility for Hawk Base near Baghdad back to the government of Iraq and the Iraqi Air Force, as part of the US drawdown of forces from the country.
Hawk was the first property within the larger Victory Base Complex to revert to Iraqi control.
The transfer included 31 facilities, four generators, and life-support equipment that now form the IqAF’s permanent headquarters, which is collocated with the new Iraqi air operations center that is under construction.
- Vice Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. was nominated Dec. 23 to receive a fourth star and take command of US Northern Command and NORAD. He would replace Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., who has led both commands since March 2007 and is to retire.
- President Obama on Dec. 22 announced that Howard Schmidt is the White House cybersecurity coordinator, responsible for orchestrating the activities across the US government to protect US cyber networks.
- Air Force Global Strike Command on Jan. 19 declared the 90th Missile Wing at F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo., mission ready following the unit’s first full-scale no-notice nuclear surety inspection since it moved under the new command in December 2009.
- Retired Gen. John D. W. Corley, former Air Combat Command commander, on Jan. 13 was inducted into the Order of the Sword, the highest honor of the enlisted corps, during a ceremony in Omaha, Neb.
- CMSgt. Mike Ramos, a soon-to-retire Air Force Special Operations Command combat controller, on Jan. 5 received the Legion of Merit to honor his more than 30 years as a leader in special tactics operations.
- An Air Force MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted vehicle crashed Jan. 15 in southern Afghanistan. Air Forces Central said the loss was not due to hostile fire. An investigation was launched to determine the cause.
- A student pilot’s loss of situational awareness while practicing aerobatics near Columbus AFB, Miss., on July 9, 2009, caused him to eject from his T-6 trainer aircraft, resulting in the aircraft’s loss and his slight injuries, the Air Force announced Jan. 12.
- Capt. Ian Holt and MSgt. Karrie Warren were named the Air Force’s top male athlete and female athlete, respectively, for 2009. Holt is a competitive cyclist assigned to F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo. Warren is a standout softball player from Tyndall AFB, Fla.
- Ground-breaking took place Dec. 11 at McChord AFB, Wash., for the 23,500-square-foot building that will house the Washington Air National Guard’s 262nd Network Warfare Squadron that supports USAF’s cyber operations.
- Boeing on Jan. 8 delivered the fourth KC-767 tanker to the Japanese Ministry of Defense, thereby completing Japan’s order for the new tankers. Handover of the first three tankers occurred in February 2008, March 2008, and March 2009, respectively.
- The Berlin Airlift Exhibit, after traveling to 29 different cities, is now on permanent display at Travis Air Museum on the grounds of Travis AFB, Calif. A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on Dec. 10 to open the now-permanent exhibit.