Posts Tagged ‘Training’

Navy SEALS Train USAF Security Forces

February 5, 2009

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The 5th Security Forces Squadron is participating in a series of training classes, which began Jan. 5, in an Air Force-wide initiative to improve the tactics, awareness, vigilance and survivability of security forces at Minot AFB (North Dakota).

“This training better prepares us for any situation we may come across,” said Master Sgt. William Wilson, 5th SFS security forces training noncommissioned officer-in-charge.

The training, called the Air Force Blue Coach Initiative, began at Whiteman AFB, Mo., where an entire flight participated in an intense Navy SEALs training program. Airmen of all ranks trained in preparation for the Mighty Guardian exercise. During this exercise, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency brought in outside forces to test the Air Force’s defenses.

“This exercise was the first time these newly-learned tactics were employed and Air Force cops defeated the Marine Corps aggressors,” Sergeant Wilson added.

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Upon successful completion of the exercise, the Air Force decided this was training all security forces members needed. Subsequently, Brig. Gen. Mary Kay Hertog, Director of Security Forces, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., directed all security forces units to undergo the training.

The first two bases in Air Combat Command to receive the training are Minot AFB and Whiteman AFB during the fiscal year 2009, Minot being the first of the two bases.

General Hertog was not the only officer who felt the training was important for security forces members.

“Through this training, we received a higher level of individual and team tactics, which are vital to preserving our national resources and helps to ensure we have a fighting chance against a well-trained adversary,” said Capt. James Masoner, 5th SFS operations and training officer.

The training comes in four iterations available to 200 security forces members; the first was from Jan. 5 to 16. The next three will be: Feb. 23 to March 6, March 23 to April 3 and April 6 to 17.

The SEALs cover a wide variety of topics aimed at improving the capability of security forces units here.

“Our folks will learn how to best dress for cold weather, close-quarter combat, patrolling, employment of low-light equipment, among many others,” said Sergeant Wilson. “The trainers ensure our Airmen feel comfortable and completely understand all the tactics being taught. The training culminates to where we go out into the Weapons Storage Area and practice recapture techniques on structures.”

Sergeant Wilson said he has four members who have gone through the training. They act as instructors for training those who won’t have the opportunity to be trained first hand. He also said part of the contract states the trainers will leave all their lesson plans, power points, visual aids, etc.

Additionally, Sergeant Wilson said the training is considered an enhanced nuclear training initiative.

While all who participated in the first iteration of the training did extremely well, there were a few who shined for Sergeant Wilson.

One such Airman reflects on her experience from the training:

“At first, it seemed intimidating working with the SEALs,” said Senior Airman Angelena Lee, 5th SFS supply custodian. “They really had their stuff together and knew exactly what they were here to talk about. Between the five instructors, they had more than 120 years of experience.”

Another Airman from the first iteration revealed how important he felt the training was:

“It gives us a fundamental understanding for more advanced tactics and was a great way to get back to the basics,” said Staff Sgt. Casey Muffley, 5th SFS installation patrolman. “It was a great opportunity to train with highly-experienced military personnel and learn how to do our jobs better and work as a team much more effectively.”

Continued training of security forces personnel is a mission-essential task. These hard-working Airmen deserve only the best training the AF has to offer. Training is a crucial step to ensuring the nuclear surety of this base is as secure as possible, security forces leadership said.

“This training taught us how to overcome the challenges of our mission here,” concluded Airman Lee. “It improved our awareness, increased our vigilance and taught us new strategies for survivability.”

Ben Stratton

Army Pilot Trainees Go Straight to Combat

January 17, 2009

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The days of sending pilots out of Fort Rucker’s aviation flight school for a year of on-the-job-training are over, said the installation commander there.

“We’re now sending many of them directly into theater. And, feedback so far from commanders is that they’re doing pretty well,” said Maj. Gen. James O. Barclay III, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation Warfighting Center and Fort Rucker, Ala. He said the Army aviation community is experiencing a very high operating tempo.

“While the combat brigades are drawing down in Iraq, Army aviation is seeing a plus-up with shorter times away from the fight and less predictability in deployment cycles,” Barclay said. “It’s not an easy business right now and I don’t see any changes in the near term.”

The general said that with forces thinning in Iraq, demand on remaining troops increases, requiring them to be in more places. That puts an increased demand on aviation units. He said Army aviation is increasing its presence in Afghanistan as well.

While focus on the combat mission is clear, Barclay said the lines are blurred between training and operations commands involving the aviation community.

“We quit separating the components and commands,” he said, indicating the units train, fight and talk to each other more than ever before. Organizations he was referring to include: Training and Doctrine Command, Forces Command, Army Materiel Command, Fort Rucker and Installation Management Command, as well as Guard, Reserve and active components.

“We’re truly a combined force, tied at the hip. We have to be. It’s about being more effective, not just more efficient,” he said, citing the Army Enterprise best practices model as aviation’s campaign plan.

Barclay said there’s a continual and rapid movement of personnel and their equipment from training to deployment to reset, then looping back to training, with relevant and responsive feedback throughout the cycle. For example, he said, lessons learned in combat are immediately applied to training and to new aviation equipment design.

Although the aviation community is combat-oriented, planning and rollout of new manned and unmanned aircraft to meet current and future needs is still a high priority, with design for crew survivability ranking at the top, he noted.

There is also an emphasis of empowering leaders from the bottom up and giving them more responsibility.

“There’s an effort of decentralization of leadership; a push-down of tasks and decision-making designed to enfranchise the small-unit leaders,” he said.

Although it is a busy time, he said the aviation community is not broken. Barclay noted that although dwell times in and out of theater are not good-about a 1:1 ratio for the aviation brigades-the enlistment and reenlistment rate is “doing well, despite not only the time deployed, but also attractive job offers from the contracting community.”

Barclay said that while improved technology is important, success still depends on good people. He said leaders “must keep the focus on our young men and women who voluntarily answer the call to duty and go in harm’s way over and over again.”

David Vergun (ANS)

Air Force Virtual Training for Real-World Missions

December 13, 2008
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A $1.5 million virtual training environment housed in a hangar at the Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center (Wisconsin) offers security forces personnel and other Airmen realistic fire team convoy training. 

Much like an IMAX, a 280-degree screen brings to life real-world scenarios designed to put a four-person fire team made up of a driver, gunner, rifleman and troop commander, through the paces of an actual convoy mission.

Trainees are put through scenarios designed by 115th Security Forces Squadron members who have real-world experience.

With the virtual training, four Airmen strap in to a well-equipped Humvee as it rumbles along a road in some remote area of Iraq and are required to identify and neutralize hostile forces while escorting a convoy. 

Tech Sgt. Jody Sammons, fire team leader with the 115th SFS, is one of three unit members who received the Combat Action Medal for missions they participated in while deployed to Iraq. Along with Tech. Sgt. Fred Ciebell, a SFS member, Sergeant Sammons develops real-world inspired scenarios using a modified Humvee, airpowered weapons and a computer-generated environment complete with hostile forces and various hazards.

“The basics that we want the trainees to learn include identification of hostile forces, basic use of the weapon, which builds up muscle memory,” Sergeant Sammons said. “One of the most important elements of the training is getting the Airmen to learn their gear and feel comfortable using it.”

Even though the scenario plays out on a huge screen, an integral part of the training is the modified Humvee that is designed to be driven similar to one Airmen might use in an actual convoy mission. The vehicle is also set up to respond to changes in the terrain that the driver’s sees on the screen.

Familiarization with the vehicle, compass and Global Positioning System, while learning to take a breath and relax are the skills Sergeant Sammons said he hopes his students take away from this training.

Learning to work as a team is also reinforced by the trainers. The Airmen who participate not only get valuable training time doing the scenarios, but also they get firsthand knowledge from those who have been on convoy missions in Iraq.

“This training is good because in the scenarios, you actually have people shooting back at you and you can see if they go down or if you need to keep shooting,” said Senior Airman Kim Shortner, a fire team member with the 115th SFS. “It is more real life like than just shooting at a target.”

While the mix of computer-generated scenarios and the use of life-like equipment gives the training almost super video game like experience, Sergeant Sammons said he hopes that even though some trainees use their gaming skills, that they treat it like a real-world experience.

“Anytime we can have this real-world, low cost type of training is outstanding,” said Lt. Col. Brian Buhler, the 115th SFS commander. “Having this training opportunity so close to the unit allows us to maximize our training resources, allowing more people to get this valuable training experience.” 

Don Nelson (AFNS)

C-17 Aircrew Training System Goes Into Operation at Dover

December 13, 2008

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Boeing and the U.S. Air Force held a ceremony Dec. 5 to mark delivery of the new C-17 Aircrew Training System (ATS) to Dover Air Force Base (AFB), Del. The ATS began operation on Nov. 21 — more than four months ahead of schedule. It provides training to C-17 Globemaster III airlifter crews from Air Mobility Command and Air Force Reserve Command.

“In the past, aircrews at Dover had to travel to McGuire AFB [N.J.] and the Air National Guard base at Jackson [Miss.] to meet their training requirements,” said Mark McGraw, Boeing vice president for Training Systems and Services. “By delivering this capability to Dover, we are able to save the customer time, money and aircrew availability.”

“It’s great to just walk across the street to do the training. Finally, it feels like we are at a C-17 base,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jess Windsor, Evaluator Loadmaster, 326th Airlift Squadron.

Boeing has developed, operates and supports 10 U.S. C-17 ATS sites and expects to expand to three more within and outside the United States by 2010. With a tradition of successfully delivering C-17 aircrew training to the U.S. Air Force since 1992, Boeing has also become the C-17 training provider of choice for customers from the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

The key elements in the ATS are the Weapons Systems Trainer (WST) — a highly realistic, full-motion simulator used for pilot training — and the loadmaster station, which is a training device used by loadmaster students to perform preflight operations, operate aircraft systems and practice emergency procedures. The WST in Dover’s ATS is the 20th to be delivered to the U.S. Air Force.

Boeing’s C-17 training contract with the Air Force also includes an option for an additional WST to be delivered to Charleston AFB, S.C. If that option is exercised, it will be the fourth WST Boeing has delivered to Charleston.

“The Charleston WST will be the first Air Force trainer we deliver that has simulated avionics instead of physical aircraft avionics,” said Tracy Mead, C-17 ATS program manager for Boeing. “We plan to upgrade all of the existing WSTs with this technology, which means that we will be able to return the physical avionics to the C-17 aircraft program, allowing it to increase its spares inventory.”

The C-17 ATS provides instruction to more than 1,500 new pilot, co-pilot and loadmaster students each year while maintaining continuation training for more than 8,000 active, reserve and Air National Guard aircrew.

USAF Pilots “Enjoy” Advantage Thanks to Video Game Training

December 9, 2008
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Air Force Research Laboratory’s researchers at Mesa, Ariz., unveiled the technological potential of its gaming research and development project publicly Dec. 1 during the 2008 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference in Orlando, Fla. 

Members of the 711th Human Performance Wing’s Warfighter Readiness Research Division blended commercial gaming technology with military-specific databases that demonstrated quicker, less expensive ways to develop the next generation of tools for interactive military training.

The fast-track technology demonstration project began in June when two Thurgood Marshall College Fund interns joined RHA for a summer of hands-on programming experience. Their initial success formed the foundation for a project that clearly depicts how modern gaming technology can help cut development time and costs for critical military distributed mission simulations, said 2nd Lt. Luke Lisa, an aerospace engineer who leads the project.

In six months, researchers integrated high-fidelity real-world aircraft models with existing commercial-off-the-shelf, or COTS, X-Plane gaming software to create a realistic flight simulation program with rich COTS graphics.

“That’s a testimony to how fast we can develop a product with this method,” Lieutenant Lisa said.

Under a pending technology transfer agreement, RHA’s technology will also help improve the fidelity of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s PC-based “RealWorld” Air Combat Environment program, said Craig Eidman, the RHA immersive environment engineering lead.

Building on the gaming industry’s competitive advancements is an approach that makes sense, said 1st Lt. Clinton Kam, an aeronautical engineer also assigned to the project.

“You have this billion-dollar gaming industry and they’re advancing the technology constantly, pushing forward the video cards, the physics cards, the processors,” Lieutenant Kam said. “So our challenge is, how can we leverage their efforts?”

Researchers are interested in how best to get military training value in a fun, aesthetically pleasing game environment that would provide genuine training effectiveness at the low cost of a computer game.

X-Plane software is known for its fluid graphics, realistic depiction of weather including volumetric (3-D) clouds, and attention to detail such as night-time ground lights and highway traffic. But its military aircraft performance is “low fidelity” relative to real aircraft characteristics and that’s where the Air Force tailoring begins.

“Fidelity is how close the flight model of an aircraft fits the real world,” Lieutenant Lisa said. “So if you are flying an F-16 (Fighting Falcon) and you’re pulling a 6G turn, how much energy do you lose in that turn? The bottom line is, the better fidelity, the more realistic the simulation.”

“You don’t want the aircraft to do things it wouldn’t actually do in real life, such as climbing faster than it’s capable of doing,” Lieutenant Kam said, otherwise the result could be “negative training” for the warfighter.

Because Air Force researchers can access validated military data not available to commercial developers, they can ensure that computer-generated military models match real-world profiles, not only for aircraft but also for attributes such as missile trajectory and radar detection. The value of this integration — in terms of fidelity and training relevance — is a new near-term opportunity to examine how games might fit into the continuum of military training methods.

Behavioral scientists already are working on methods and criteria to determine and quantify the fidelity levels required for various training scenarios and how fidelity levels correlate to training effectiveness, said Dr. Winston Bennett, a RHA training and assessment research technical adviser.

Early efforts focused on pilots, but the gaming-integration concept can apply to any scenario, including joint terminal attack controllers who rely on video feeds from an unmanned aircraft system to call in airstrikes.

The Air Force is pushing Department of Defense modeling and simulation systems toward commercial industry’s modular plug-in philosophy that offers more flexibility and user transparency, said 1st Lt. Adam Pohl, a systems engineer.

“Our first objective was an integration proof of concept, showing that tying these packages together can work,” Lieutenant Lisa said. “Now when someone approaches us with a need, they know that gaming has the potential to be leveraged as an alternative approach that saves money and helps meet the warfighters’ need faster.”

John Schutte (AFNS)

Military Computer Games Evolve: DARWARS Successor Planned

December 8, 2008

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The U.S. Army will spend $50 million to upgrade its video game training system, reports Digital Alchemy. DARWARS Ambush, the current first-person shooter (FPS) video game, teaches soldiers how to handle ambushes and roadside attacks, but is limited in the number of players it can host. The new game in development, Game After Ambush, builds on it, promising to integrate real world data and allow trainers to modify the game on-the-fly.

Irregular and Regular Warfare Equally Vital to US Military

December 5, 2008
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The Pentagon this week approved a major policy directive that elevates the military’s mission of “irregular warfare” — the increasingly prevalent campaigns to battle insurgents and terrorists, often with foreign partners and sometimes clandestinely — to an equal footing with traditional combat.

The directive, signed by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England on Monday, requires the Pentagon to step up its capabilities across the board to fight unconventionally, such as by working with foreign security forces, surrogates and indigenous resistance movements to shore up fragile states, extend the reach of U.S. forces into denied areas or battle hostile regimes.

The policy, a result of more than a year of debate in the defense establishment, is part of a broader overhaul of the U.S. military‘s role as the threat of large-scale combat against other nations’ armies has waned and new dangers have arisen from shadowy non-state actors, such as terrorists that target civilian populations.

“The U.S. has considerable overmatch in traditional capabilities . . . and more and more adversaries have realized it’s better to take us on in an asymmetric fashion,” said Michael G. Vickers, assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low-intensity conflict and interdependent capabilities, and a chief architect of the policy.

Designed to institutionalize lessons the U.S. military has learned — often painfully — in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, the policy aims to prepare the military for the most likely future conflicts and to prevent the type of mistakes made in the post-Vietnam War era, when hard-won skills in counterinsurgency atrophied.

Read the full WP article

US & Partners Initiate NATO Training Federation

December 5, 2008
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Aviation Calendar 2009

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NATO and U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) officials recently completed the first use of a new jointly-developed Alliance modeling and simulation (M&S) training capability in Suffolk, Virginia.

Exercise Steadfast Joiner was a computer-assisted command post exercise to train and evaluate NATO’s Response Force (NRF) 12 and showcased the first use of the Joint Multi-Resolution Model (JMRM) Federation, NATO’s constructive simulation training capability and a central component in the NATO Training Federation (NTF).

Army Lt. Col. John Janiszewski, chief, USJFCOM Joint Warfighting Center (JWFC) Technical Development and Innovation Branch, said USJFCOM assisted NATO with the development of the critical M&S capability. 

“Project Snow Leopard is NATO’s initiative to develop a distributed network linking NATO organizations, nations, and partners in order to enhance distributed training, education, and experimentation,” said Janiszewski.  “Over a two year period our team worked closely with NATO’s Allied Command Transformation and the Joint Warfare Centr to develop, test and field this training capability. 

“The Steadfast Joiner exercise is a major milestone for NATO and its 26 member nations that validated the NATO Training Federation as a viable training tool for NATO,” said Janiszewski.

He explained that the JMRM is a modeling and simulation federation consisting of two models, the Joint Theater Level Simulation (JTLS) and the Joint Conflict and Tactical Simulation (JCATS).  This federation allows an organization to train from the operational level of war down to the tactical level of war.

USJFCOM’s Joint Warfighting Center manages both models and used them in the past to train U.S. forces.

“NATO was exercising a unit using fictional scenario. The units develop plans that were then input into the simulation,” Janiszewski said. “The simulation replicated the interaction or conflict between NATO forces, civilians and opposing forces.  The simulation then provided the results of the interaction to the training audience.”

He said using the NTF enables NATO to train their forces more effectively before deploying to a theater of operations like Afghanistan.

“This gives them a means into which they can certify forces as being ready to execute their warfighting mission,” he said.

According to Janiszewski, USJFCOM will continue working with NATO to enhance and refine the NTF.

Army to invest $50M in combat training games

November 25, 2008
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The Army has created a video game unit and will invest $50 million over five years on games and gaming systems designed to prepare soldiers for combat.Lt. Col. Gary Stephens, product manager for air and ground tactical trainers at Project Executive Office — Simulation Training and Instrumentation said Thursday that the $50 million has been approved for a “games for training” program starting in 2010.

“The Army takes this seriously,” Stephens said of PEO-STRI and its Army gaming unit, which will handle military video game requirements. “We own gaming for the Army — from requirements through procurement,” he said.

Game development has become a multibillion-dollar industry in recent years, with large game studios employing thousands of developers and sales that compete with Hollywood’s blockbusters.

“We want to take advantage of that, but we don’t have the intent to become a competitor with the commercial gaming industry,” Stephens said. “We don’t have the intent or capability to be a commercial game house.”

Instead, the Army gaming unit will watch trends in the industry and identify technology that can be used for military training, he said.

The need for video games  (Read the full article at Stars & Stripes)

Air Force training Navy pilots on UAS tech

November 13, 2008
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Aviation Calendar 2009

Our military Aviation Calendar 2009 features 13 images of US and allied military aircraft in action. Buy the Aviation Calendar 2009 exclusively at the PatriArt Gallery for only $ 19.99. Worldwide delivery available.

The U.S. Air Force is increasing efforts to address the call for more surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities through new training initiatives, reports UPI.

Among other things USAF and Navy are showing true joint spirit: Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV instructors are training Navy members to fly their own reconnaissance drones.

Read more at UPI