Military News

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Face of Defense: Master Driver Steers Sustainment Brigade's Mission

By Army Spc. Elizabeth White, 3rd Sustainment Brigade

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Nov. 21, 2017 — Five days on an Oshkosh Defense mine-resistant, ambush-protected all-terrain vehicle, five days on the MaxxPro II MRAP, and two days on mine rollers: this is what it takes to qualify a master driver to the operator level.

With this qualification, Army Staff Sgt. Arturo Amaro, the master driver for the 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade, will become the lone soldier able to train drivers in his brigade.

At the operator level, master drivers are capable of teaching other certified drivers how to use any of the above equipment.

“I’m looking forward to getting to do hands-on training with soldiers,” Amaro said. “Right now it’s a challenge getting resources, such as classrooms and vehicles, but the 3rd [Special Troops Battalion] has been helping out.”

His classes could consist of up to 16 soldiers learning to operate any of the three vehicle platforms. Aside from driver training here, Amaro will also be responsible for inspecting other training courses around Combined Joint Operations Area Afghanistan.

Master Driver Classes

The master driver class was led by two Army civilians who travel to many different forward operating bases to administer this course.

“We teach master drivers and coalition forces preventive maintenance checks, on-road and off-road driving and night driving,” said Barry Gravely, one of the MRAP instructors for the course.

They also taught classes on the characteristics of each vehicle and safety procedures. The drivers then took the MAT-V and the MaxxPro II through the off-road course, which consists of rough, rocky patches, low ruts, high hills and a deep-water obstacle. These obstacles allow the future trainers to experience the capabilities of the vehicles as well as prepare them for any driving they may have to do outside of their base.
“It was a good experience driving the off-road portion,” Amaro said. “When we familiarize with this terrain it helps us with the terrain off post.”

Navy Deploys Unmanned Submersibles in Argentine Submarine Search

NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla., Nov. 21, 2017 — The Navy has deployed unmanned underwater vehicles to join in the search for the Argentine navy submarine A.R.A. San Juan, which is missing in South Atlantic waters.

The equipment consists of one Bluefin-12D (Deep) UUV and three Iver 580 UUVs, which are operated by the Navy's recently established Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Squadron 1, based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The UUVs are uniquely capable to help in the search. Both types are capable of deploying quickly and searching wide areas of the ocean using side scan sonar, a system that is used to efficiently create an image of large areas of the sea floor. The Bluefin-12D is capable of conducting search operations at 3 knots [3.5 mph] at a maximum depth of almost 5,000 feet for 30 hours, while the Iver 580s can operate at a depth of 325 feet, traveling at 2.5 knots [2.8 mph] for up to 14 hours.

The U.S. is providing rapid response capabilities, including aircraft, equipment and personnel to assist Argentina in its search for the missing submarine.

In addition to the UUVs, the U.S. has deployed aircraft to assist in the search, as well as underwater equipment specifically designed for submarine search and rescue.

One Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft is already in Argentina, where it joined a NASA P-3 research aircraft supporting the ongoing search efforts over the submarine's last known location.

U.S. Southern Command directed the deployment of this equipment and personnel to Argentina to support the country's request for international assistance aimed at locating the missing submarine and crew.
Southcom is one of the nation's six geographically-focused unified commands, with responsibility for U.S. military operations in the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Face of Defense: Talented Air Force NCO Contributes to Mission Success

By Air Force Senior Airman Jenna Caldwell, 22nd Air Refueling Wing

WICHITA, Kan., Nov. 20, 2017 — Air Force Tech. Sgt. Clayton Allen, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Plans and Programs noncommissioned officer in charge, isn’t a communications airman by trade. He’s a water and fuels systems maintenance airman pulled from the 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron.

Allen is self-taught in computer programming and satellite and ground command-and-control radio systems.

He was sent on a short-notice temporary duty assignment to Moron Air Base in Spain as a missions support liaison from Sept. 28-Oct. 12.

KC-135 refueling aircraft and crews from McConnell Air Force Base here are currently deployed to Spain in support of Operation Juniper Micron, providing air refueling and airlift support to French aircraft conducting operations in Mali and North Africa.

Establishing Operations

This deployment marks the first time that KC-135s from the 22nd ARW have supported the OJM mission, so the McConnell-led task force had to set up an entire operation from the ground level.

Allen developed and built radio communication equipment necessary for the crisis action team to monitor and communicate mission-essential information with the KC-135 aircrew while on the ground and during arrival and departure.

“Since I have knowledge about radios, I was able to improve the range in which we could talk to the pilots,” Allen said. “[Previously] the max measure distance was 230-240 miles. I was able to double the range.”

Radio communication is essential for the detachment commander to be able to speak with the allies being refueled, keeping them updated on maintenance issues with our aircraft and how it may affect our ability to support their mission, Allen said.

Allen had two days to set up radio communications and ensure the team was ready for their first mission.

Allen ‘Makes Things Happen Quickly’

“There was necessary equipment and instructions that were not mentioned in the deployment orders that they needed when they landed, which is why they needed a guy like Allen,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Bartek Bachleda, 22nd ARW XP superintendent. “He shows up and makes things happen quickly. His abilities, his passion and all his hobbies all came into fruition into one single job.”

In preparation for this deployment, Allen helped update over 400 mission-essential equipment items for the detachment commander, ensuring mission readiness.

McConnell KC-135s supplemented the workload of KC-135s assigned to the 100th ARW, RAF Mildenhall, U.K., which typically conducts this mission. RAF Mildenhall is temporarily unable to support the mission due to flightline construction at Istres-Le Tubé AB, France, and Naval Station Rota, Spain, according to headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa.

Allen played a very large part in the hand-over crew from Rota, Spain, where this mission set previously operated out of. He orchestrated all the transport of vehicles and equipment, helped maintenance offload equipment and passengers and served as acting detachment first sergeant, Bachleda said.

 “I can guarantee you, he is the only plumber in Air Force history who has ever deployed to set up an air refueling squadron and their network communications,” Bachleda said of Allen.