Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: June, 2011 (25) Currently Viewing: 11 - 20 of 25

June 9, 2011 at 4:12pm

627th Fuels Management Flight Airmen move 36 million gallons of fuel each year for 6,000 aircraft

Photo by Ingrid Barrentine Airman 1st Class William Hunter, 627th Fuels Management Flight, hooks up a hose to a hydrant storage tank on the flightline at McChord Field May 25. Hydrant vehicles operated by servicemembers like Hunter hook up the hoses be

Some of the biggest lifesavers to the pilots flying C-17 Globemaster IIIs out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord McChord Field drive trucks nicknamed "Big Green" and spend their days discussing chemical terms like freeze and flash points of various liquids.

These aren't chemists, but Airmen-fuelers from the 627th Fuels Management Flight, part of the 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron. Made up of less than 70 people, the flight provides and distributes all fuels on McChord. That's a big job, with more than 36 million gallons of fuel being pumped into 6,000 aircraft each year, said Flight Superintendent Senior Master Sgt. James Weber.

Under the McChord Field surface is a network of oil pipes zig-zagging across the base that moves all that fuel to the flightline. But where does the fuel come from? The base gets its fuel from the private oil supplier McChord Pipeline Company. Originating at the Port of Tacoma from the U.S. Oil and Refining Company refinery, the jet fuel moves along a single 6-inch diameter, 14.25-milelong pipeline to the base.

Once the fuel arrives at the base, it flows into giant 3-million gallon bulk storage tanks. The unit operates smoothly and efficiently because of its five Defense Logistics Agency contractors who oversee the base's fuel storage tanks and turn on and off the main fuel valve each day, Weber said. There is little division in the 627th between the military and contractors, division sometimes found in other fuel units in the the Air Force, he said. Having that working relationship ensures that if fuel problems arise, DLA contractors (DLA technically owns the fuel) are going to be part of the solution to getting it fixed.

"Most people come here saying that you guys are a lot farther ahead than other bases," Weber said. "We're part of them, they're part of us, we're all together." When fuel reaches the tanks and starts its journey to the skin of the aircraft, fuel samples are taken for the presence of contaminants. Dirty fuel can be dangerous for C-17 crews, a fact not lost on the Airmen who work in the fuels laboratory. "Pilots rely on us to make sure fuel is clean because dirty fuel and airplanes do not mix," said Tech Sgt. Mark Luffy, a laboratory technician.

On average, the unit conducts 1,000 fuel tests a month.

"All fuel on McChord is sampled at some point in the supply chain," Weber said. The laboratory team looks for foreign matter that could affect the fuel's ability to burn. For example, large water particles can lower the flash point below the necessary Air Force specifications, making the fuel unsafe to use. If after several tests the results keep coming back positive, lab officials have the ability to pull the fuel anywhere on base to see if other fuel samples are tainted. The likelihood of this happening is very rare, as fuel is tested multiple times before it reaches the aircraft.

"I'd rather make the call and stop a plane (because of dirty fuel) and retest it than put pilots' lives at risk," Weber said. "But I can honestly tell people that our fuel is good."

The McChord fuels laboratory does more testing than most other bases because the unit is involved in a fuels additive pilot program. Fuel Systems Icing Inhibitor is injected into the jet fuel to bring the freezing point of water above the freezing point of fuel, so that the hardened water particles will be filtered through one of the many separators installed within the pipeline and pump houses. The Jet A fuel meets the same military specifications as JP-8, and burns the exact same in flight. Weber said the Air Force plans to save nearly $40 million when the program goes Air Force-wide, which has the potential to save billions years later.

Next up on the fuel's journey is to the hydrant's Fuel System Pump House. That's where the fuel is filtered through more separators before being funneled into one of 28 hydrant pits that fuelers can pump from into the aircraft. The pump house can move up to 2,400 gallons per minute in case many aircraft are being refueled at the same time, said Jeff Doll, who works at the pump house. This is also the location where the additive is injected into the fuel. Because it's a pilot program, the company that owns the product, Doll said, is making changes to the additive levels all the time.

Finally, hydrant vehicles operated by servicemembers like Airman 1st Class William Hunter hook up heavy hoses to the hydrant storage tanks located on the flightline to pump fuel into the C-17s. This is no easy process, as safety is key throughout the fueling process. All directions must be taken by the plane's crew chief, including the discussion of how much fuel to put into the aircraft, depending on the mission. Hunter said fuel distribution is one of the most important jobs in the Air Force. "

Everything can be working fine in the airplane, but it can't get off the ground without (fuel)," Hunter said.

June 9, 2011 at 6:17pm

Elder to replace Kilb at McChord

Col. R. Wyn Elder takes command of the 62nd Airlift Wing from Col. Kevin J. Kilb in a change of command ceremony at
10 a.m. Tuesday.

Colonel Elder arrives at McChord Field from Altus Air Force Base, Okla.,
where he served as Vice Commander of the 97th Air Mobility Wing.

As the 62nd Airlift Wing commander, Colonel Elder will be responsible for
nearly 2,500 active-duty military and civilian personnel, along with 42
permanently assigned C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, to deliver global
airlift, focused logistics, and agile combat support for America. The wing
provides mission support to the 446th Airlift Wing, a Reserve Associate

Colonel Elder entered the Air Force in 1991 as a graduate of the ROTC
program at the University of Virginia. He is a senior pilot with more than
2,800 hours experience in the C-17, KC-135 Stratotanker, T-1 Jayhawk, T-38
Talon and T-37 Tweet.

During his distinguished career he has served as commander of the 817th
Airlift Squadron at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey; commander of the 4th Airlift
Squadron, McChord AFB; and special assistant to the commander, US Joint
Forces Command, Norfolk Naval Station, Va.

Colonel Elder is joined by his wife, Maggie, and their three sons. They
look forward to reuniting with the McChord family.

After more than 22 years of dedicated service in the Air Force, Colonel Kilb
is retiring to his home state of Arizona with his wife, Stacey, and their
three children.

June 11, 2011 at 6:00am

'Lt. Dan' flies high

Gary Sinise looks out the cockpit window of a U-2 Dragon Lady June 8, 2011, at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., after returning from a high flight at 70,000 feet. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Sarah Brown)

As we get ready to hear the Lt. Dan Band at JBLM on July 4th at Freedom Fest, here's a story about the man behind the music.

Even though he has been a strong military supporter and philanthropist, most remember Gary Sinise by his award-winning role as Lieutenant Dan Taylor from the 1994 film "Forrest Gump."

Mr. Sinise visited here June 6 to 9 to document the capabilities of the U-2 Dragon Lady and meet with Airmen to boost morale.

"Wherever I go for the military, they always call me Lt. Dan," he said. "What I really want to be remembered as is a good father, a man who does what he needs to take care of his family and someone who supports the troops that protect the country I live in. It's a dangerous world out there and anytime anything happens, the U.S. military is there to help."

A film crew documented Mr. Sinise's trip to Beale Air Force Base, including training for a high flight, which will be used to tell the U-2 story and highlight Beale AFB's mission on network television.

Mr. Sinise described the preparation for the June 8 flight as a daunting process that took almost every ounce of energy he had. After spending time in an altitude chamber, simulating loss of cabin pressure at 70,000 feet, he said his ears hurt and his body was fatigued because of the stress.

"All the information that was thrown at me throughout the day was enough to fill anyone's head," he said. "But then being in the chamber, and doing egress training after that, really made it the most difficult part of this whole experience. I was totally exhausted."

Even though the preparation was hard work, Mr. Sinise said it was worth it in the end as three Pontiac G8 chase cars led the black-and-red Dragon Lady out to the flightline. Within minutes, he was being propelled in the jet piloted by a 1st Reconnaissance Squadron pilot to their 70,000 feet destination.

"Being up there was unbelievable," said Mr. Sinise, as he reviewed post-flight video clips from his trip to the brink of space. "I can't believe that was really me up there. I just can't believe I did that."

Although he was involved in the intense preparation required to go up in a U-2, throughout his training and after his flight, Mr. Sinise took time to meet with Beale AFB Airmen.

He thanked Airmen for their service to the country and expressed his appreciation for the missions at Beale AFB.

"I generally don't get stirred up by celebrities, but it was nice to have such a big military supporter here and to be thanked for our service by someone of that magnitude," said a 9th Communications Squadron ground radar maintenance technician. "It really meant a lot. There is more weight in what he says because he shows his patriotism with his character, not just on the screen, but off."

After spending three days at Beale AFB, experiencing a little of what it takes to be a U-2 pilot and flying at 70,000 feet, Mr. Sinise said the highlight of the whole experience was being able to do something for his county that not every person can.

"Training, going for a ride in this incredible airplane and spending time with the Airmen of Beale was a great experience," he said. "Overall I am just glad that I am going to be able to take what I have learned these past few days and share it with a grateful nation that is protected by our great military."

June 11, 2011 at 6:08am

Kilb's message to the base: Thank you, it's been a privilege

Col. Kevin Kilb (center), 62nd Airlift Wing commander, with his wife, Stacey, and three daughters, Malindi, Piper and Tana. ((U.S. Air Force photo/Adamarie Lewis-Page)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- My fellow Airmen, it has been a sincere privilege for Stacey and me to have served with you on this, the last and proudest chapter, of our Air Force journey.

It's hard to believe that it's already time to move on. Though Stacey and I are looking forward to our next adventure, a part of Team McChord will stay with us always.

As I look back on the past two years, there are several of your accomplishments that I will remember with pride.

First and foremost, is your hard work and dedication in generating and safely executing so many critical global airlift missions. You have excelled in an unceasing tempo to support Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa and of course, Operation Deep Freeze.
Along with these war-fighting missions, you have enabled many humanitarian missions including Operation Tomodachi and Operation Pacific Passage, not to mention the relief efforts in Haiti, Chile and Pakistan.

The second accomplishment that stands out is your superb performances during numerous higher headquarter inspections, such as: three Nuclear Surety inspections, the Unit Compliance Inspection, Operational Readiness Inspection, two Logistics Compliance Assessment inspections, Health Services Inspection, and a Command Cyber Readiness Inspection. In fact, with your 'excellent' rating for the most recent UCI, you impressed the Inspector General team so greatly that it awarded more outstanding performance certificates than ever before.

The third is the establishment of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. When I took command, in June of 2009, joint basing was still in the planning stages. Since then, this installation has gone through monumental changes.

You have worked through some of the most difficult problems facing the Department of Defense and our Air Force. As you have overcome these obstacles, you've done so with professionalism, incredibly high morale and positive attitudes. There is no doubt that you have set the precedent for joint basing across all of DOD. Not only that, but you have done all this during the highest operations tempo our command has ever seen, while still maintaining focus on caring for each other and your families.

These were just a few of the challenges we faced and I am proud of the fact that we emerged from all of them not just intact, but stronger than we were before. With hard work, we turned weaknesses into strengths and threats into opportunities. That is a testament to YOU... the proud professionals that make up the family of the 62 Airlift Wing and Team McChord.

Speaking of families, I thank my wife Stacey for her tireless support of you. Over the past 2 years, Stacey, along with Mrs. Carrie Weldon, Mrs. Kristin Moore, Mrs. Sheri Warren, the Officer's Spouse Club and the Enlisted Spouse Club, has given so much of their time and energy for our Air Force community. Their efforts, and the efforts of all who volunteer with them, are truly inspirational to me.

I'd like to publicly thank my fellow Commanders of Team McChord: Col. Bill Flanigan, Col. Paul Gruver, Col. Pete Stavros and Col. Steve Gray. Your partnership is what makes this place so amazing. Thank you also to Col. Rick Moore and Chief Master Sgt. Greg Warren; they are loyal and passionate advocates for all Airmen. A special thanks to General Jacoby, General Johnson, General Scaparrotti, General Miles and General Mathis for their support of joint basing...that support cannot be overstated. Finally, a profound thank you to Col. Tommy Brittain, Col. Kenny Weldon, Command Sgt. Maj. Matt Barnes and Chief Master Sgt. (Ret.) Fred Wade, their leadership of the Joint Base Garrison has made all the difference for our community. I simply have not served with two finer leaders than Colonel Brittain and Colonel Weldon.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have served here among the finest members of our Air Force. It was a privilege and honor to serve as your commander. I know that you will continue to support each other and deliver Airlift Excellence... Right Here... Right Now!

THANK YOU...and please thank your families. What you do matters--and you are the best in the world at it!

With TOTAL Respect-Colonel Kevin, Stacey, Malindi, Piper, and Tana Kilb.

June 11, 2011 at 6:15am

Yellow Ribbon event this weekend in Bellevue

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- One of the Air Force Reserve priorities is to preserve the Viability of the Reserve Triad - Air Force, family, and employers. The purpose of the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is a way of doing precisely that.

The next Yellow Ribbon event is June 10-12 at the Westin Hotel in Bellevue. The event is for Airmen who've recently returned from deployments, or are preparing to deploy, and their families. The program aims to ensure the readiness and well being of Reservists and their families by providing dynamic events, information, services, and proactive outreach opportunities throughout an entire deployment cycle.

"I think it's critical that Airmen and family members know the benefits they are entitled to," said Mr. Carl Supplee, 446th Force Support Squadron Airmen and Family Readiness Center director. "Benefits like (Veterans' Affairs), retirement, and medical are all beneficial to their future. Yellow Ribbon explains that."

The event will include briefings like Military OneSource, which offers many services offered to Reserve families including, health and relationships, financial and legal advice, military life and deployment, career and education assistance, and family and recreation. Additional services that will be available are, effective communication, marriage and couples enrichment, stress management, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, and Post 9/11 GI Bill information.

Yellow Ribbon events are normally held in family-oriented environments as opposed to on base, said Mr. Supplee.

"This is my first Yellow Ribbon event," said Senior Airman Cassie Osuna, an 86th Aerial Port Squadron cargo processor who recently returned from a deployment in Southwest Asia. "I hope to find out more about resources and benefits I am entitled to."

Airman Osuna is a single mother of two, and a cake decorator for a Safeway in Tacoma. She intends to learn more about Tricare medical benefits and the Post 9/11 GI Bill. One of her goals is to begin college this fall at Tacoma Community College, so she can be an ultrasound technician.

Airman Osuna would also like information about ESGR and other careers that are available for veterans, she said.

Reservists and family members, like Airman Osuna's, can benefit greatly from this event, because the resources and information will be available at their finger tips.

June 11, 2011 at 6:18am

BOSS Car Show tomorrow on JBLM

Car shows can be intimidating for entrants.

Groups of judges circle cars, chronicling what is right and wrong with each entry.

That fact alone can turn off many young car owners to the show scene.

But Better Opportunities for Single Servicemembers (BOSS) officials want to tear down those walls and take away the intimation factor.

BOSS hosts its inaugural Domestic vs. Import Car Show on Sunday, June 12, at Cowan Stadium. Registration is open from 8 to 11 a.m., and the show runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cost is $10 to enter.

The whole purpose of the show is to get young car owners comfortable with the show scene in a relaxed and fun atmosphere, said Spc. Monique Miranda, BOSS president and the show's main organizer.

Members of the local Rod Knockers Car Club out of Eatonville will be on hand to talk shop and give Servicemembers advice on their cars and how to get them ready to enter in future shows.

"They'll be there to help give guys a taste and feel for what car shows are like if they've never entered one before," Miranda said.

A couple of club members will also be judging entries.

Awards will be handed out in the following categories: Best of Show (People's Vote); Best Import; Best Domestic; Best of Show (Motorcycle, People's Vote); Best Motorcycle (Domestic); Best Paint; Best Sound System; Best Engine Bay; Best Sport Truck; Best 4x4 Truck and Best Bling.

The best Import winner will square off with the best Domestic winner to determine the Best of Show winner by the People's Vote.

"It's just an opportunity for Servicemembers to come out, enjoy the car culture and have a good time with it," Miranda said.

For more information, call (253) 967-5636.

June 16, 2011 at 6:16am

McChord welcomes new commander

Col. R. Wyn Elder speaks for the first time as the new 62nd Airlift Wing commander during the 62nd AW Change of Command Ceremony June 14 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Colonel Elder took command from Col. Kevin Kilb. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. F

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Members of the 62nd Airlift Wing welcomed their new commander during a change of command ceremony June 14.

Col. R. Wyn Elder took command of the 62nd AW from Col. Kevin Kilb, who will be retiring after more than 22 years of Air Force service. Lt. Gen. Robert Allardice, 18th Air Force commander at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., officiated over the ceremony.

"What you do matters," said Colonel Elder in his first address as the new commander. "We save lives, whether it's after a humanitarian disaster, or rapidly flying a wounded soldier back to medical care, or airdropping resupplies to a Special Forces team, or taking convoys off the road."

Colonel Elder was previously stationed at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., where he served as the 97th Air Mobility Wing vice commander. He also has served as commander of the 817th Airlift Squadron at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, and special assistant to the commander at U.S. Joint Forces Command at Norfolk Naval Station, Va.

Having been previously assigned to the 62nd AW, as the 4th Airlift Squadron commander, Colonel Elder is more than prepared to take on the challenges of being the wing commander and leading the way in combat airlift.

"Combat airlift underpins the ability of our nation to achieve national security objectives, including the two operations we are involved in right now in Afghanistan and Iraq," said Colonel Elder. "More than 30 percent of supplies are delivered by air, that's four times more than any other war in history."

Colonel Elder entered the Air Force in 1991 as a graduate of the ROTC program at the University of Virginia. He is a senior pilot with more than 2,800 flight hours in the C-17, KC-135 Stratotanker, T-1 Jayhawk, T-38 Talon and T-37 Tweet.

He is now responsible for nearly 2,500 active-duty military and civilian personnel, along with 42 permanently assigned C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.

The 62nd AW is part of Air Mobility Command and provides the Department of Defense a fast, flexible and responsive airlift capability. Together with its Reserve associate wing, the 446th Airlift Wing, the 62nd AW provides a large part of AMC's global reach airlift capability.

"I look forward to working with all of you," said Colonel Elder. "We're writing, or re-writing, the book on combat airlift every day. We are in uncharted waters and that makes it an exciting time to be stationed and the 62nd Airlift Wing!"

June 17, 2011 at 6:21am

No. 1 is a battlefield Airman from the 5th Air Support Operations Squadron

Photo by Ingrid Barrentine 1st Lt. Michael “Bulldog” Smith, 1st ASOG, will deploy with I Corps as a planner in one of the regional air operations centers. Smith will provide the corps with air intelligence updates.

Ask any Joint Base Lewis-McChord combat arms Soldier to rank the people he'd like to see come to his aid when the bullets start flying, and a surprising percentage will tell you No. 1 is a battlefield Airman from the 5th Air Support Operations Squadron. These highly trained and skilled radiomen make up a tactical air control party, capable of calling in any type of air asset to support Army ground troops engaged with the enemy in the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 5th ASOS falls under the 1st Air Support Operations Group, and gives Army combat units joint tactical air controllers, or forward-deployed Airmen who can call in fires and direct the action of close air support. One JTAC and a subordinate radio operator, maintainer and driver, embed with Army combat companies, battalions or brigades. Their primary jobs are to support units in combat situations, those reacting to improvised explosive devices or fighting their way out of ambushes. The Airmen can be on the ground moving with the unit, or back at headquarters watching on a live video feed.

"We can do as much from 30 miles away as from 10 feet," said Senior Airman Josh Lawrence, 5th ASOS.

With just a few calls on the radio, those battlefield Airmen can get "air on station" - unmanned aerial systems flying around the contact zone providing commanders a visual picture of the situation, Army combat helicopters like Apaches or Kiowas or Air Force combat aircraft like the F-16 Fighting Falcon or A-10 Warthog.

Having an Airman nearby who monitors the engagement as it develops gives an added dimension of situational awareness to commanders, and potentially puts more weapons at his disposal.

"Anything that flies, we can talk to it and control it," said Airman 1st Class Adam Long, 5th ASOS. "The Army has guns; we have aircraft. You are the Army's main priority in a sticky situation."

Long and other members of the squadron recently returned from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan. The battlefield Airmen worked with units in the Army's 2nd Cavalry Regiment, a Stryker unit from Vilseck, Germany. The 5th ASOS' JTACs are traditionally aligned with I Corps and the JBLM-based Stryker brigades, but due to manning shortages and theater requirements, the Airmen have deployed with many different units during the past decade. Regardless of the unit, the mission doesn't change, said ASOS Commander Lt. Col. Matthew Parker.

"We are advocates for air power," Parker said.

The Army and Air Force combine forces to fight the enemy with both land-based troops and air-based aircraft to provide full-spectrum operations to battlefield commanders.

"The Army and Air Force are significantly better when we work together," Parker said. "We advise commanders what exactly is the best solution for a given tactical problem - Air Force rotary wing or Army kinetic effects - and give the commander all the necessary information to make the best decision on what kind of ordnance is going to be used."

Developing the commander's trust to make a proper decision can take some time, especially when the typical JTAC is a junior enlisted Airman and has less than three years in the Air Force. There are fewer than 1,000 TACP Airmen in 10 units around the world.

"(The Army) isn't going to just trust you with the world, but if you are a qualified JTAC and they know what you are capable of, and know you on a personal level, it makes it better," Senior Airman John Zimmermann said.

When the 5th ASOS personnel aren't downrange, most of the unit's nearly 100 people are training at Yakima with JBLM infantry brigades or on temporary duty in Alaska, Idaho or Utah. Many of their skills are perishable and need constant attention to stay effective, Parker said. With so many Army units constantly deploying in and out of two combat theaters, and so few JTACs, it's not hard to see how demanding this job can be for these battlefield Airmen.

"When you demand a lot of young Airmen, not just physical performance, but ask them to make decisions that have some widespread effects, that matures you very quickly," Parker said.

And because of their close proximity to the Army, the Air Force troops have fired their weapons at the enemy during firefights and served alongside Soldiers who have died in combat. Those negative aspects of the mission aside, to these Airmen, there's no greater feeling than making the radio call that prevents American casualties and destroys the targets.

"You feel like a million dollars because you know you have saved peoples' lives," Zimmermann said.

June 17, 2011 at 6:23am

JBLM weather Airmen keep Army flying

Photo by Ingrid Barrentine Staff Sgt. Kimberley Sims, 1st Weather Squadron, monitors a TMQ-53 Automated Observing System June 8 in the parking lot of the squadron headquarters. The portable system provides current weather data for the Airmen.

If Seattle news meteorologists forecast bad weather, the rain might ruin the afternoon by coming a few hours earlier than expected. For the Airmen of the 1st Weather Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a wrong weather update can be the difference between mission completion and failure, or life and death for Army units in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Part of the 1st Air Support Operations Group, the 1st Weather Squadron, is traditionally aligned to assist JBLM assets: I Corps, the Stryker brigades, an Army aviation unit, and eventually, the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade when it stands up, and the 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade. The 75-plus squadron headquarters element delivers "operationalized" weather reports to battlefield commanders so they can determine the best time to conduct full-spectrum operations, said squadron commander Lt. Col. James Mackey. Instead of just providing a report of the weather conditions for the next 24 hours, battlefield weather Airmen take a detailed look at their supported unit's future missions and create battlefield reports to the unit commander on whether that mission will be impacted by the weather and local environment.

"Our job is to find that window of opportunity to leverage our assets for advantage," Mackey said.

Finding the window of opportunity to turn a "no go" mission into a "go" is the crux of the unit's downrange mission. These Air Force staff weather officers, part of most Army brigade-level headquarters, give the battlefield commander the "so what" factor behind every weather forecast. Most Army assets, like helicopters, need good visibility to fly. If a dust storm is coming in, a battlefield weather Airman can take a look at a real-time satellite image, and through weather sensors emplaced around various locations on the battlefield, get a detailed weather forecast that is accurate to the minute.

So if an aerial medical evacuation is needed in Afghanistan, and there's a two-hour window during which the helicopter is cleared to fly, the SWO finds that piece of information and briefs it to the battlefield commander, said Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Briggs. "Many weather guys a long time ago didn't realize that we'd be at this level, down to the finite detail of a squad of Soldiers, determining whether missions would make it or not make it, depending on the weather Airman's (call)," Briggs said.

Technical Sergeant Travis Rieken can attest to how important his job can be in battle. He recently redeployed after conducting battlefield weather reports for Rangers in Afghanistan. A convoy was stuck in a flash flood in a mountainous region of the country. Bad weather delayed aviation help, until finally, the weather broke and troops were sent out to help the convoy. When the helicopters arrived, they found the stranded troops engaged with Taliban insurgents. The enemy was suppressed, and a Soldier swept away in the water was promptly recovered. The commander attributed the mission's success to Rieken's, and his battlefield weather team's, diligence in always looking to find opportunities to move out.

"It's a thankless job - if you forecast the weather right, that's your job, you are supposed to do that. But its not perfect and you do get it wrong sometimes," Rieken said. "You just hope that you catch it before a pilot gets into serious danger or someone on the ground gets into serious danger because of something you did or did not forecast."

Like the Joint Terminal Attack Controllers with the 5th Air Support Operations Squadron, these aren't your normal Airmen, let alone weather Airmen. They are trained in infantry tactics and learn the same skills as Soldiers do. They are trained in multiple personal and crew-served weapons, movement under fire, basic convoy and land navigation skills and driver's training.

The 1st Weather Squadron Airmen are so different from their non-tactical weather Airmen, that the two sides are referred to as "green" and "blue." Being on the "green side" means distributing battlefield weather forecasts and briefing to Army leaders, not Air Force.

"On the ‘blue side,' they have jets and big airplanes that can fly through just about anything," Staff Sgt. Charles Williams said. "But for ‘green' and dealing with helicopters, you have to be spot on because they don't have all the leeway (in maneuvering through different types of weather) that an airplane would have."

June 17, 2011 at 1:53pm

Air Force: Don't use liposuction as PT shortcut

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Liposuction, a popular shortcut to a leaner body, might be a shortcut to a leaner paycheck, loss of rank or a career-ending ticket to civilian life for Airmen.

The cosmetic procedure is not an acceptable solution to trimming inches or weight to meet physical requirements, said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Dave Simon, chief of the medical staff for the 6th Air Mobility Wing. In short, trying to make tape via liposuction is not something the Wing will ever sign off on, and "sneaking" off to have the procedure done could not only lead to a ding on one's Air Force career, it could hamper readiness, jeopardize health or otherwise interfere with the duties of Airmen and jeopardize the mission, Col. Simon noted.

"I can't foresee any situation in which it would be approved," said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Terry Haag, chief of aerospace Mmdicine at MacDill AFB. "It's cosmetic and elective, and not something you have to have done."

The primary concern is that with physical fitness requirements becoming more stringent and the emphasis on being "fit to fight," Airmen worried about that little extra around the middle will be tempted by the promises of liposuction.

The bottom line, however, is liposuction is a surgical procedure, which has risks, requires a recovery period and potentially renders an Airman-patient unable to perform at peak level, perhaps even interfering with duty or deployment.

"Infection," said Colonel Haag is the number one risk of liposuction. "There can be other complications, but that is the biggest concern."

Liposuction also doesn't make a person more fit, he said.

"It isn't real," Colonel Haag said.

In addition, unless a lifestyle change is made, such as adjusting the diet or exercising more or more effectively, the weight removed with liposuction is bound to return in short order.

"There are no shortcuts to physical fitness and better health," Colonel Haag said. "It's something that requires work and discipline."

From an Air Force and 6th AMW standpoint, a ready force able to deploy in short order is a priority, which is why any elective surgery has to be approved by a unit commander and medical staff. It also is why there can be severe consequences for Airmen who have elective surgery done without prior clearance.

Disciplinary action for Airmen who have surgery done without command or medical approval can lead to anything from a letter of reprimand to an Article 15 or even a courts martial under Article 92, dereliction of duty, said Capt. Joey Smith, chief of military justice in the 6th Air Mobility Wing Judge Advocate office.

The action taken depends on the Airman's history, as well as the commander's discretion, said Captain Smith. Among the options could be loss of pay, loss of rank and even discharge.    

Filed under: Health, News To Us, U.S. Air Force,


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January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
November, December

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