Nellis, USAF Officials React to Las Vegas Shooting
Nellis AFB, Nev., opened an on-base support center Monday while encouraging its personnel to donate blood, and top USAF officials offered their support as the Las Vegas area recovered from the worst mass-shooting in US history. On Sunday night, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire from a hotel window onto a concert crowd below, killing more than 50 people and injuring more than 400. The military-heavy Las Vegas area hosts two major Air Force installations—Nellis and Creech AFB, Nev. At the time of the shooting, Nellis advised its personnel to avoid the strip. “Our hearts are with all affected by last night’s shootings in Las Vegas,” the base Tweeted on Monday morning. The base urged personnel to donate blood off base, since the base’s medical facilities are unable to accept blood. Officials had not publicly released the identities of those killed, or whether any military personnel were injured. “My thoughts are with the victims, family members, airmen who may have been present and all affected by the heinous act committed in Las Vegas,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in a tweet on Monday. “Alarmed to learn of the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas,” Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein added. “Dawn & I are thinking about & praying for all affected.” —Brian Everstine
DOD Ups Puerto Rico Relief Assistance, Logistics Support
US Northern Command is sending five Force Packages to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. The first of the contingents has already landed in Puerto Rico and is focused on command and control. The second and third packages are sustainment and logistical units (some of which arrived Saturday). The fourth package is expected to deliver helicopters by Tuesday, and the fifth package will bring with it “more robust medical capacity,” according to a DOD update. Read Gideon Grudo’s full round-up of the Defense Department’s relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
American Service Member Killed in Iraq
A US service member was killed Sunday when an improvised explosive device struck a vehicle in Iraq. The US-led coalition, in a news release, said the device hit the vehicle in an undisclosed location in the country, and the circumstances are being held until the service member’s family is notified. Another service member was injured in the blast, according to CENTCOM. The casualty is the seventh American death in Iraq since the fight against ISIS began in 2014. —Brian Everstine
Everhart: Air Force Moving Closer to a National Training Academy for Pilots
The Air Force is moving closer to establishing a National Training Academy, with tracks for military service or civilian jobs, to address the growing pilot shortfall in the country, the head of Air Mobility Command said. Speaking Sept. 26 at the Regional Airlines Association convention in Florida, Gen. Carlton Everhart said the Air Force is moving “past the concept stage” to establishing an academy that would increase a supply chain of pilots, according to an AMC release. “We’re examining and refining three primary courses of action from which to decide,” Everhart said. “If approved at the Department of the Air Force level, I’d envision an initial operating capability in late 2019 with full implementation around the end of 2021.” Everhart’s speech before about 150 airline representatives is focused on building an “active discussion” between the military and the airline industry because “getting after the pilot retention problem requires us to understand what the airlines are concerned about.” For example, airline executives told the Air Force they would like more schedule predictability for pilots who are in the Air Force Reserve. —Brian Everstine
F-22s Help Keep Focus on Fighting ISIS
The 27th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron has a saying: “Just give OIR four weeks and it’ll be different.” Lt. Col. Shell, the commander of the F-22 squadron, who asked to be identified only by his rank and call sign for security reasons, said the Raptors’ mission changes as Operation Inherent Resolve changes. “The first mission I flew here… was America’s retaliatory TLAM strike,” he said. “Then, we were doing operations over Mosul, kind of interspersed in there, and also while we’ve been here, the Navy shot down the Su-22, so the ebb and flow of the fight has changed significantly since we’ve been here. It seems to change, anecdotally, about every four weeks or so.” Read Jennifer Hlad’s full report from Al Dhafra AB, UAE.
A quarter of the Air Force’s KC-10s and the largest fuel bladder farm in the DOD are based at Al Dhafra AB, UAE. With that fuel, the tankers are able to extend sorties for a variety of US and coalition aircraft, and allow missions that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. Read Jennifer Hlad’s report from Al Dhafra.
Navy T-45 Crashes, Killing Two Pilots
Two Navy pilots, an instructor and a student, were killed when their T-45 Goshawk crashed on Sunday in East Tennessee. The crash occurred about one month after the Navy returned its T-45 fleet to the air following a series of hypoxia-like incidents. The pilots were assigned to Training Air Wing ONE at NAS Meridian, Miss. The pilots’ names are being withheld until 24 hours after next of kin notification, according to a Navy release. After a series of incidents earlier this year, the Navy, working with the Air Force’s 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, installed Real-Time Air Quality Sensor, a tool that was developed when the Air Force’s F-22 fleet faced similar oxygen issues. The cause of the accident is under investigation. —Brian Everstine
—A US MQ-9 Reaper was shot down by Houthi forces in the Sanaa province of Yemen on Sunday: Reuters.
—A replica of Boeing’s 747, known as Air Force One when the President is on board, is on display in Rhode Island. The creator says he hopes the display will “engage” young Americans and let “them know their voice can be heard:” The Detroit News.
—Prince Harry thanked the 550 wounded, ill, and, injured service members from 17 nations for participating in the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, during a star-studded closing ceremony at the Air Canada Center on Sept. 30. Sydney, Australia, will host the 2018 games: DOD release.
—The US Army’s Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command and the Defense Personal Property System have been consolidated under US Transportation Command, which now oversees the movement of all DOD household goods and vehicle shipment programs: TRANSCOM release.