Archive for June, 2008

USS Boxer Returns Home from Continuing Promise 2008

June 27, 2008



Own this thrilling image of the USS Kearsarge Strike Group as a poster or framed art print. Available at our patriotic art gallery hosted on cafepress.USS Kearsarge Amphibious Strike Group

USS Boxer (LHD 4), along with various embarked units, returned to San Diego June 26 concluding nearly two months at sea in support of the Pacific phase of Continuing Promise 2008.

     Continuing Promise is a collaborative effort between the United States and military partners, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and partner-nation support organizations to build strong partnerships that can be called upon in the event of a regional situation requiring cooperative solutions.

The Humanitarian Civic Assistance (HCA) mission provided partner nations in the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of focus a mobile, flexible and rapidly responsive medical and engineering capability for a number of missions and training opportunities in Central and South America. 

“I couldn’t be happier with the success of this mission,” said Capt. Peter K. Dallman, the mission commander for the Pacific phase of Continuing Promise 2008.  “Everyone did great across the board and we far surpassed anyone’s expectations of the overall success of this mission.”

During the mission, Boxer operated in Guatemala, El Salvador and Peru.  The Continuing Promise medical contingent provided more than 65,000 patient encounters to 24,000 patients, including medical or veterinarian care and education.  The assistance included dispensing nearly 40,000 prescriptions, treating more than 2,800 animals in addition to teaching 123 classes in preventative medicine and industrial hygiene.

While anchored off the coasts of the three countries, 127 patients were flown to Boxer for shipboard surgeries.  Surgeries included cyst and gallbladder removal, hernia repair and eye surgery (cataract excision).

Providing access to medical information and treatment supports common medical needs in the region,” said the Continuing Promise Medical Contingent Commander, Capt. (Dr.) Louis Orosz.  “The team of medical professionals this mission has brought together is top-notch.  Their work here will last generations and leave a lasting impression of the great things the United States can do.”

Wasp-class amphibious assault ships like Boxer are designed with a variety of expeditionary mission capabilities, including rapid, projected humanitarian assistance worldwide.  They also have the physical capacity to transport large amounts of medical and engineering supplies and equipment to most locations around the globe.  The same flexibility and configuration that makes Boxer an effective warship also makes it an extraordinarily effective ship for performing humanitarian assistance missions.  This multipurpose flexibility allowed Boxer to uniquely meet the engineering needs of the three partner-nations through structure renovations, constructions and repairs.

Seabees from Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 303 and Navy Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5, embarked aboard Boxer, renovated eight schools and a church across the three countries in addition to road and drainage repair.

Renovation work included roofing, installing new windows and installing new ceiling fans.  The Seabees also repaired the sewage systems and provided running water to most of the facilities.

“In the Seabee community, we always say we ‘Can Do’,” said Lt. Micah Kiletico, the officer-in-charge of the CBMU 303 detachment aboard Boxer.  “But the group of Seabees I’ve worked with on Continuing Promise 2008 have gone above and beyond, giving 200 percent effort.  They went the extra mile to ensure they made a big difference in the lives of the citizens of Central and South America.”

The Pacific Phase of Continuing Promise is one of two HCA deployments planned for the USSOUTHCOM area of focus for 2008.  The second Continuing Promise deployment will be conducted by USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) in the Caribbean.  The deployment to the region is part of the Partnership of the Americas initiative.  The training, clinical and engineering capability this mission brought to the region demonstrates U.S. commitment to fostering cooperative partnerships.

“It really has been an honor to visit the Navy ship that has been making a positive impact that we can see already in our country,” said El Salvador President, Elias Antonio Saca during a press conference in El Salvador.  “We appreciate all the humanitarian support the United States, the Navy, the Captain and the entire crew of this important ship has brought.  We profoundly appreciate your support for our inhabitants.” 

     For many service members embarked aboard Boxer for Continuing Promise, it was their first humanitarian mission.  Continuing Promise offered them a unique opportunity to see the impact their skill sets can have in a humanitarian civic assistance role.

“I hope the people we worked with know there are people back in the United States who really care for them,” said Utilitiesman 1st Class (SCW) James Kocsis. “Supporting this mission has been the greatest honor I’ve had in my entire Navy career.”

Continuing Promise exemplifies the U.S. maritime strategy, which emphasizes deploying forces to build confidence and trust among nations through collective maritime security efforts that focus on common threats and mutual interests.

Embarked units and organizations aboard Boxer for Continuing Promise included Amphibious Squadron 5, Fleet Surgical Team 5, U.S. Public Health Service, Project HOPE, Project Handclasp, Navy Seabee Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 303, Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 764, Tactical Air Control Squadron 11, Special Marine Air Ground Task Force 24, Helicopter Sea Combat Support Squadron 23, Assault Craft Unit 1, Fleet Survey Team, Maritime Civil Affairs Team 205 and Beach Master Unit 1.

Army Accelerates Deployment of Future Combat System (FCS)

June 27, 2008

The Army is accelerating Future Combat Systems capabilities to delivery of key cutting-edge technologies to Soldiers in infantry brigade combat teams (IBCTs), according to an Army press release.

Over the last five years, IBCTs have been in the highest demand during combat operations. As a result of capability gaps found in the IBCTs, the Army is adapting to accelerate the FCS and complementary programs to provide necessary capabilities to infantry units first, active and National Guard. These capabilities will increase Soldier and unit effectiveness and survivability during offense, defense and stability operations.
These “spin outs” of FCS capabilities for IBCTs include Tactical and Urban Unattended Ground Sensors; Non Line of Sight-Launch System, and network kits with software for Humvees. Additionally, the Class I Block 0 Unmanned Air Vehicle and the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) are added to the spin out for fielding to IBCTs.

“We’re listening to our Soldiers and commanders in the field; and we’re listening to our senior civilian leadership, both in the Congress and within the Department of Defense,” said Army Chief of Staff George W. Casey, Jr. “They all want this new FCS gear and equipment sooner rather than later; and we’re in a position to deliver. These technologies are maturing pretty fast.”

Starting in July 2008, the FCS equipment will undergo a preliminary – limited user test (P-LUT) focused on infantry operations at Fort Bliss, Texas. The P-LUT will shift from the previously scheduled Heavy BCT Limited User Test. The results from this testing effort will support doctrine, organization, training and material development efforts. The formal LUT scheduled in FY09 will become the basis of the spin out acquisition decision.

The official request comes from the Army’s ongoing review of the entire FCS program, and reflects the decision to move more aggressively to support current operations with FCS capabilities. In conjunction with these changes to focus on infantry first, the Army will submit a reprogramming request to align funding with this decision.

Add a poster or art print of the US Army Stryker infantry fighting vehicle to your wall. Visit the Landpower section of our own patriotic art gallery hosted at

Data Courtesy US Army 

Future Combat System to Reach Infantry Units by 2011

June 27, 2008
US Army Stryker Brigade soldiers hunker down in Iraq. Posters and art prints of US Army Stryker infantry fighting vehicles are available from our own patriotic art gallery at

Stryker Brigade Soldiers Hunker Down in Iraq

The U.S. Army, seeking to demonstrate the relevance of its most expensive weapons program, Boeing Co.‘s Future Combat Systems, will give some of the new equipment first to infantry rather than armored units, reports

The armored units haven’t been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan as often as infantry brigades. The Army is under pressure from Congress and the Bush administration to show that the $159 billion system of radios, ground sensors, manned vehicles and missile launch systems can be effective in current conflicts.

Some Army infantry brigades will get the equipment starting in 2011 read more at

No US Security Guarantees For Iraq

June 27, 2008
US Army Stryker Brigade soldiers hunker down in Iraq. Posters and art prints of US Army Stryker fighting vehicles in Iraq are available from the Landpower section of our own patriotic art gallery at

Stryker Brigade Soldiers Hunker Down in Iraq

What’s holding up the US-Iraqi Status-of-Forces Agreement? Shouldn’t Prime Minister Malicki be doing all he can to keep America in Iraq?

One problem: Washington has not offered Iraq firm security guarantees in case of foreign invasion. Maliki has indicated this would be a deal breaker. And where will the Shiite Prime Minister of Iraq look for protection of he doesn’t get it from Washington? No need to look far.

General Petraeus: “My Philosophy on War”

June 27, 2008


General David Petraeus, commander of US Central Command and leader of all US forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, has published a list of 23 “lessons learned” from the Iraq war.

Destroyer Squadron 40, Peruvian Navy Unite in Anti-Submarine Exercise

June 26, 2008

Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 40 joined forces with the Peruvian Navy for a six-day anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training exercise off the coast of Lima, Peru, ending June 18.

Silent Forces Exercise (SIFOREX) 2008 consisted of four days of intense, structured ASW practice, followed by an 18-hour “scenario phase.” During this unscripted scenario phase units simulated a real-world ASW situation.

The guided-missile destroyers USS Farragut (DDG-99) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG-98), and the guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman (FFG-59) joined by the Peruvian BAP Villavisencio (FM-52) and BAP Montero (FM 53) had to find the small, quiet Peruvian diesel submarines, BAP Chipana (SS-34) and BAP Antofagasta (SS-32).

Lt. Nathan Scherry, one of Farragut’s tactical action officers, explained that the exercise proved challenging but valuable.

“Practicing ASW in our home waters, we are almost always against a synthetic target, or a nuclear submarine, at best. But nuclear subs aren’t what we need to practice against,” said Scherry. “It’s very rare that we get to practice against an actual diesel submarine, with actual people in it, thinking tactically from the other side of the picture.

“Sounds cliché, but, doing six days of this kind of work with multiple diesel subs was really an opportunity to excel.”

SIFOREX provided an opportunity for partner navies to exchange officers and enlisted personnel for the week, giving those personnel unique perspectives into the daily lives, routines, and procedures of their counterparts. Lt.j.g. Rolando Vidal, part of the Peruvian Submarine Force, embarked Farragut for the exercise.

“It’s quite an interesting experience to be a ship-rider because I’m usually on the other side of the war — I’m a submariner. It’s a great experience to be up here, on the surface with the ships, seeing the way that you conduct the search for our submarines,” said Vidal.

“We’re always doing the search, on patrol; but other ships and other navies also have their work to do. It’s not often that we get to see the other side.”

SIFOREX began at an intermediate level and concluded with events requiring advanced, integrated coordination between the navies.

Capt. Rudy Laco, DESRON 40 commodore, noted that this exercise was a capstone event for the ASW teams on all the participating ships.

“These ships have been practicing ASW for the entire Partnership of the Americas engagement this year. This exercise culminates those efforts. There won’t be an exercise of this magnitude held again for some time.

“Farragut, Forrest Sherman, and Kauffman, as well as our Peruvian counterparts, did a great job of taking full advantage of the training opportunities this exercise presented,” said Laco. “And with six days of around the clock interaction, there was plenty of training to go around,”

Capt. Jose Del Alamo, commander of Peru’s Submarine Force, said he was pleased to see both teams grow during the exercise.

“I think we saw this week how much each of us have to learn from one another,” he said. “Both of our navies have many junior officers, for whom this was the first year of training. For them, this was a great learning experience. So, too, for those senior officers among us—every one of us have something to learn from every day at sea.”

For Vidal the experience was heightened by a sense of solidarity with fellow Sailors and officers throughout the two navies.

“Community is one of the most important things, not just in our navies, but in all of the navies of the world,” said Vidal. “Any time we get to strengthen and grow our community, to make our community a more global one—that’s a good thing.”

UNITAS Exercise Begins in Peru

June 26, 2008

UNITAS 49-08, an annual multinational exercise conducted to enhance interoperability and mutual cooperation between navies, began off the coast of Callao, June 21.

The multinational exercise brings together nations with common interests in the Americas, and includes Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and the United States. Mexico participated in this year’s Atlantic phase of UNITAS as an observer.

UNITAS, now in its 49th consecutive year, strengthens relationships between partner nations through at-sea operations under numerous maritime scenarios.

Capt. Rodelio Laco, Destroyer Squadron 40 commodore, explained that this type of exercise increases proficiency and interoperability and builds trust between partner nations.

“The at-sea portion of this exercise will be one of the most challenging to date,” said Laco. “There is just no substitute for the training we get by working together at sea with our allied and partner nations’ navies. We get better at this every year, and every year the governments, militaries, and citizens of each of these countries comes to count on one another more and more. The direct result of all of this work and training is a more trusting international environment and the ability to accomplish together our common goals.”

Staff elements from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, Destroyer Squadron 40, USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98), USS Farragut (DDG 99), USS Kauffman (FFG 59), United States Coast Guard International Training Division and personnel from the U.S. Marine Corps participated in this year’s UNITAS Pacific Phase.

UNITAS provides unique training opportunities at sea in a challenging and uncertain environment. The exercise incorporates event-driven scenarios to provide the maximum opportunity to improve a better working environment between navies.

According to Rear Adm. Raul Vasquez, Commander Surface Force of the Peruvian Navy, in the last six years UNITAS has changed and incorporated new ways of training in order to best challenge 21st century threats.

The exercise leaders airm to train forces from participating nations in maritime operations such as electronic warfare, anti-air warfare and air defense, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and maritime interdiction operations.

“One of the most important objectives during UNITAS is regional cooperation,” said Vasquez. “This exercise allows interoperability of our units. In the event of an actual mission, we can be ready to succeed in any challenge that we may encounter.”

UNITAS 49-08 is part of Partnership of Americas, an ongoing engagement operation sponsored by U.S. Southern Command. It is carried out under the operational control of the Mayport, Fla.-based U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command. The commander of Destroyer Squadron 40, Capt. Rodelio Laco, leads the deployment as commander, Task Group 40.0.

Omar A. Dominquez (NNS)

USAF Cyberwar Headquarters Staff To Operate Virtually

June 26, 2008
Air Force Cyber Command officials announced their intent to spread out headquarters staffing among nine locations so it can meet the 45 percent manning requirements needed for initial operations.”Normally, a major command headquarters will house all its staff functions at one place, but because the final basing decision for AFCYBER has not been determined, the command will operate in a virtual environment,” said Maj. Gen. William T. Lord, the commande of the AFCYBER (Provisional).

He said this action will allow some personnel to be assigned to Barksdale Air Force Base, La. – the interim headquarters location for the command – and minimize relocation actions at the other places for the rest of the proposed 450-person HQ staff. Of the original 540 positions allocated for AFCYBER HQ staffing, about 90 of those positions were moved to man positions in the 24th Air Force and subordinate wings.

Thus the command will assign about 240 positions and fill them during the summer so it can declare initial operations capability by Oct. 1. It is not known at this time whether the rest of the 450 authorizations will also be assigned to the identified locations, or to new ones after that date, or be on hold until the final basing location is decided.

“We’ll be operating in this virtual construct until the final basing decisions are made, which is expected to be announced by September of 2009. At that time the Air Force may be decide to keep AFCYBER in this construct, relocate all its staff to one place or perhaps a combination of the two,” General Lord said.

“What this virtual command will do for us is minimize environmental impacts to all involved while be able to move forward in building this command. The virtual construct is not intended to foreclose or presuppose any options for permanent basing.”

During this process there are no new billets being created and there are no net increases in the number of people at these locations. Movements will result from a limited number of permanent change of sation actions, or, as in most cases, permanent change of assignments (same base but different organization) and through temporary duty assignments.

The numbers listed at the locations represent the authorizations being assigned as HQ staff at the time the command declares IOC.

The locations and proposed numbers for authorizations are:

Barksdale Air Force Base, La. – 36 billets. As the current location of the provisional command, the interim capability for the HQ staff will remain there until the final basing location is established. This will facilitate integrations with the Air Force Network Operations Center, a new 608th Air Operations Center and the command structure that provides forces to combatant commands.

Scott AFB, Ill. – 69. Many of the A1-manpower and personnel functions, as well as the A6-communications functions are currently being done by members assigned to the Air Force Communications Agency. Those authorizations will be recoded to support the headquarters functions.

Langley AFB, Va. – 58. Billet transfers will come from both the Air Combat Command and Global Cyberspace Integration Center. Much of the A5-plans and requirements and A8-strategic plans and programs functions for cyberspace already occur here.

Lackland AFB, Texas – 43. This is the location of the Air Force Information Operations Center and the 67th Network Warfare Wing. This will allow for the leveraging of the A2-intelligence and the A3-air, space and information operations capabilities.

Tinker AFB, Okla. – 5. The 3rd Combat Communications Group and the 38th Engineering and Installation Group are located here. Along with HQ, A3 and A6 functions, there will also be elements of A4-logistics that will work contracting issues for combat communications and engineering and installation requirements.

Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. – 20. D-M houses the 55th Electronic Combat Group. Interim capability for the new Electronic Warfare Wing headquarters will be established here to leverage the preponderance of EW forces gained by AFCYBER.

Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio – 13. This is where the most significant Air Force procurements are channeled as well as the leading Air Force Research and Development Center for cyberspace. The command will leverage its A4-logistics and A7-installations and mission-support functions here.

Hanscom AFB, Mass. – 7. This is the location for major research and development operations as well as the program office for a large number of communications and cyberspace initiatives.

Griffiss ANGB (Rome Labs), N.Y. – 2. Rome Labs currently conducts leading research for information operations and cyber warfare and these authorizations will take advantage of R&D efforts to advocate for the development of cyber capabilities.

Peterson AFB, Col. – 7 (tentative). Discussions are underway for achieving capabilities with space-related resources.

“Again, this represents the minimum capability required to activate the command and gain units,” said the general. “We must move forward to provide people the right chain of command, the right leadership and be able to meet the Air Force’s timeline on schedule.”



Karen Petitt (AFPN)

Air National Guard Raptors Patrol US Skies

June 24, 2008
 “Wings of Freedom” — a USAF F-22 Raptor and an F-15 Eagle patrol Prince William Sound, Alaska — can adorn your wall as a poster or art print. Click the picture for details.This inspiring image – and many others – can adorn your wall as a poster or art print.

The Virginia Air National Guard’s 192nd Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Virginia,  is the first Air Guard unit to fly the F-22 Raptor in support of Operation Noble Eagle.

Operation Noble Eagle was established by President George W. Bush to protect the American homeland following the terrorist attacks in September 2001.

Aircrews from the wing’s 149th Fighter Squadron fly the Raptor.

“The mission for the protection of the homeland has not changed for us since the inception of Operation Noble Eagle,” said Lt. Col. James Cox, 149th FS commander. The capability of the 149th to carry out the mission has been greatly increased because of the abilities of the F-22.

The Raptor performs both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions providing a diverse aerial combat capability for operational concepts. One concept the F-22 has become involved with here is Total Force Integration. An example of TFI is the combination of two force components — active duty and Air Guard in this case — sharing the responsibility of one mission — Operation Noble Eagle.

Under the TFI construct, the active duty 1st FW and the 192nd FW provide combat forces in a more cost-effective manner to support the defense of the nation, said Lt. Col. David Nardi, 149th Fighter Squadron operations officer. This is the first time the Air Guard has operated with a front-line fighter soon after it reached full operational capability.

The 1st FW and 192nd FW combined in October 2007 under TFI. That move made the 192nd the first Air Guard unit to operate the F-22.

“The integration of the two wings provides the combat capabilities we need to execute the Operation Noble Eagle mission,” said Colonel Nardi. The TFI construct adds a tremendous amount of ability from all critical areas required in protecting the nation and fulfilling the Air Force mission around the world.

The F-22 flew its first active-duty flight in support of Operation Noble Eagle in January 2007. The 1st FW’s 27th FS was the first unit to conduct an operational flight with live ordnance loaded in the Raptor.

“We do the same thing for Operation Noble Eagle as we would do in theater, in support of the troops,” said Colonel Cox. “The F-22 has performed brilliantly and we have seen our best response times to date.”


David Hopper
Air Combat Command Public Affairs 

Loosening Joint – Army Style

June 22, 2008

Jointness has been the Pentagon’s watchword for years now — but many officers admit that “deconflicting” the services is a more realistic goal.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the services complain loudly about one-another. The Army and Marines say they are stuck with the bulk of missions, mission stress, and casualties; the Air Force and Navy say they are forced to delegate so many airmen and sailors to “in-lieu-of” support roles on land — i.e. to fulfill functions normally performed by soldiers and marines — that USAF and USN readiness for their primary missions is endangered.

Now the Army has established its own aerial surveillance unit in Iraq, saying the Air Force hasn’t been doing enough to support ground forces with airborne tactical intelligence. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is supporting the Army move.