Sunday, January 23, 2011

Assistant Secretary of Air Force visits Baghdad

A senior Pentagon official said airmen deployed to Iraq in 2011 will play a historic role as U.S. military forces drawdown under the 2008 bilateral security agreement.

“This is a particularly important time in Iraq,” explained Daniel Ginsberg, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, during a visit to Baghdad Jan. 21. “The nature of our presence here is going to change fundamentally and airmen, like you all, are stepping up to make sure the mission gets done.”

Under Operation New Dawn, nearly 50,000 U.S. service members in Iraq continue to conduct stability operations, focusing on advising, assisting and training Iraqi Security Forces. More than 1,000 U.S. Air Force airmen assigned to the 321st Air Expeditionary Wing and Iraq Training and Advisory Mission – Air support OND from various locations throughout the country.

Assistant Secretary Ginberg, who is responsible for manpower, military and civilian personnel, Reserve component affairs, and readiness support, said airmen from all walks of life and service components have performed admirably after almost a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. In just the past 12 months, ITAM-AF airmen doubled the size of trained Iraqi airmen and helped field more than 130 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft for the Iraqi Air Force.

“There are very few times in our nation’s history when all components – active, Reserve and Guard – have come together and performed at this level of efficiency over this length of time,” he told airmen while visiting Sather Air Base and surrounding bases in the Baghdad area Jan. 21 through 22. “We are a true total force.”

Air Force leaders decided last fall to extend standard active duty deployments from four to six months. Assistant Secretary Ginsberg said the decision has helped widen the gap between deployments for some “taxed” Airmen while capitalizing on their experience down range.

“The shift to 180-day deployments gives our airmen more time at home and it also provides deeper mission experience,” he said. “This way, airmen can operate at a higher level of intensity over a longer period of time.”

Despite what the assistant secretary called America’s “era of austerity,” he assured Air Force leadership’s commitment to take care of airmen as they continue to balance home life and commitments abroad.

“The Air Force has a commitment to provide for its people,” he said before touring some of Sather AB’s facilities Jan. 22. “There are certain values that define us as a service and what we do. We want to preserve that climate for our airmen.”

Friday, January 14, 2011

U.S. Air Force Band to host free concert

The U.S. Air Force Band is coming to Albany to put on a free concert.

They'll be here next weekend for a performance at the Albany Municipal Auditorium. The Air Force band has endeared itself to millions of listeners for more than 60 years. They travel all across the nation, and city officials are excited the band agreed to make a stop in Albany. The free concert won't just be patriotic music.

"Well obviously patriotic is part of it, but they also do a wide array, the sky's the limit they do modern work, they do symphony type work but it's a very talented group and numerous awards. I think it will be a heck of a show," said Wes Smith, Acting Civic Center Director.

The concert is scheduled for January 22nd at the Albany Municipal Auditorium. You don't need a ticket. The doors open at 6:00 PM and the concert begins at 7:00 PM. The auditorium seats 950 and they're expecting a crowd of at least 700.

Air Force Academy expects 12 percent budget cut

The Air Force Academy expects a budget cut of about $41 million or 12 percent in the current fiscal year as the government tries to rein in spending.

Lt. Col. Burke Beaumont, the Air Force Academy's finance director, says the school's budget fluctuates from year to year. He says academics won't suffer from this year's budget cuts.

West Point expects a much smaller cut, but accurate comparisons are difficult because of differences in the way budgets are compiled.

Naval Academy officials declined to release budget projections but said they don't expect a big change.

Congress hasn't passed a defense appropriations bill, so the academies don't know what their exact budget number will be.

Like other agencies whose appropriations haven't been approved, the academies operate under temporary spending authorization from Congress.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

'Air force boss was not drunk' - Blasik's widow

The widow of Polish airforce chief Andrzej Blasik has hit back at claims that her husband were drunkenly pressuring the pilot to make a risky landing at Smolensk.

Russia’s report into the fatal crash which killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski along with Blasik and dozens of other senior officials said the top airman’s presence in the cockpit pushed the pilot into the fateful decision to land at the fog-bound airfield.

And it said Blasik was under the influence of alcohol at the time.

A man of honour

But Blasik’s widow Ewa insisted that the report, published yesterday by the MAK investigative committee, could not be accurate.

“There is no evidence of alcohol in my husband’s blood, nor that he somehow put pressure on the pilots,” she told Poland’s parliament.

“My husband was a man of honour and the Polish government must protect its soldiers, especially when they can not do this themselves.”

Because of the importance of the state visit to Russia, which was intended to commemorate the massacre of Polish officers at Katyn in 1940, Mrs Blasik added that her husband would not have drunk alcohol during the journey.

Rival report

Polish reaction to Russia’s findings has been cautiously critical, with many commentators concerned that Moscow has put all the blame on to the Polish pilots and not offered any criticisms of Russian air traffic controllers, RIA Novosti reported.

And Warsaw expects to release its own findings later this month, according to interior minister Jerzy Miller.

On Polish channel TVN24 Miller acknowledged that Smolensk air traffic controllers had warned the crew not to attempt a landing at the airfield.

But he added that final conclusions would not be available until the plane’s black boxes had been analysed.

“We would like to complete it as soon as possible, but haste is not a good adviser,” he said.

Air Force One lands in Tucson

Air Force One, with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama aboard, landed at Davis Monthan AFB at approximately 3:30 p.m. Tucson local time.

The First Family was accompanied by Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Once on the ground, they greeted Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup, Davis Monthan personnel, and many others.

The Obamas are in Tucson to attend a public memorial at the University of Arizona for the victims of Saturday's mass shooting. Six people were killed and 14 were wounded when a gunman opened fire at a meet and greet event hosted by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The Congresswoman was shot in the head and remains in critical condition at University Medical Center.

According to the White House, the President plans to meet privately with the victims' families before the service. Authorities conducted a security sweep at University Medical Center on Tuesday, to prepare for the possibility of a Presidential visit. Despite the security sweep, President Obama's schedulers have not confirmed that he will visit the hospital.

After leaving Davis-Monthan, the First Family headed to University Medical Center, where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is recovering from a gunshot wound to the head. The visit was not previously publicly announced.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Airmen build foundation of Iraqi Air Force

In an effort to strengthen the strategic partnership between Iraq and U.S., airmen assigned to the 821st Expeditionary Training Squadron here are helping the Government of Iraq and its people develop a stable and self-reliant air force for their nation.

The 821st ETRS works daily with the faculty and students at the Iraqi Air Force Training School to help it become a self-sufficient training pipeline for the Iraqi Air Force and Ministry of Defense.

“We have helped stand up a training school from scratch,” said Lt. Col. Dawn A. Nickell, 821st ETRS commander. “The school has come a long way from nothing to being completely Iraqi run. It’s heartening to see that they have made that much progress. They are not at the finish line yet, but they are doing the right things to get there.”

The school, which was established in 2007, offers professional military training, technical training and English language training for the Iraqi Air Force and MOD.

“We started with a very small school but we are continuing to grow,” said the Iraqi Air Force Training School’s commandant.

According to the school’s deputy commandant, a good air force starts with a good school and training is important.

New Iraqi Air Force cadets and those returning to service will attend the basic military training and refresher training, respectively, to teach them the basics of being in the military and the importance of physical fitness.

“BMT is just how you would imagine it to be,” said Maj. Korey Vaughn, 821st ETRS Professional Military Training chief. “They teach the cadets about the Iraqi air force culture and heritage.”

For more advanced training, Iraqi airmen attend one of the school’s 27 technical training courses. The courses range from maintenance supervision to radio communication. Of all the courses, 22 are 100 percent taught by Iraqis. Air advisors assist when needed and help instruct the remaining five courses, which are planned to be transferred to Iraqi Air Force control.

“I’m no longer in an instructor role; I am in an advisor role,” said Master Sgt. Jason Benford, 821st ETRS Technical Training Section superintendent. “In my time here, I have seen the Iraqis improve their ability to take control of their own training programs. We are stepping back and they are taking over. They are running on their own two feet.”

One distinctive class is the petroleum, oils and lubricants course, which teaches the basics of POL including the hazards, environmental percussions, fuel storage, how to issue fuel and more significantly how to sample the fuel.

“Properly sampling the fuel is one of the keys in Iraq,” said Master Sgt. Nathan McCoy, 821st ETRS Aviation Fuels air advisor. “The school has reached out and gotten subject matter experts from the operational side of the base to help teach this important course.”

To attend some advanced technical training, students must complete the school’s English language training, which also satisfies the Iraqi Air Force’s fourth core value, English language. The ELT at the Iraqi Air Force Training School is based on the Defense Language Institutes’ program for teaching the English language. The program consists of 36 books and can take up to 12 months to complete.

The school’s commandant and Col. Nickell agree on the importance for all Iraqi airmen to learn English.

“English is the international language for aviation,” said Col. Nickell. “Mastering the English language is a key to the future success of Iraqi Air Force operations.”

The success of the Iraqi Air Force will continue to grow with the continued support from U.S. advisors and U.S. Air Force airmen are playing a tremendous part in providing that support.

“It is nice to see this blossoming school and know that U.S. airmen are playing a big role in making it possible,” said Col. Nickell.

As the 821st ETRS continues to help improve the Iraqi Air Force Training School, the people of Iraq will see an increase in the capabilities and success of their air force.

Rest Here:

Homegrown LCA Tejas gets to join Air Force

It’s a big and costly step forward for India's defence aviation technology. Over three decades in the making - finally the Indian Air force (IAF) has got the operational clearance for Tejas.

India's first indigenously built light combat aircraft will now be inducted into the air force this year.

In Bangalore on Monday, the skies were clear and the men were ready. It was a day they have waited for years.

Almost a decade after the multi role Light Combat Aircraft Tejas first took to the skies in Bangalore, India's homegrown LCA was given the initial operation clearance, clearing the way for its induction into the Indian Air Force.

Today's flight launches India into an exclusive club of nations that include the US, Russia, France and Britain that can produce combat aircrafts. The IAF have ordered 40 machines that will be delivered in the next two years and will replace the ageing MiGs.

“Tejas taking wings is actually a dream come true for all of us. We’ve been dreaming about this for the last 25-30 years,” exclaimed Air Chief Marshal PV Naik.

The lightweight Tejas, presently powered by American General Electric Engine has been developed from scratch.

The 4th generation aircraft is capable of carrying assorted weapon load and can drop tanks up to four tons. It has some of the latest avionics and digital flight control systems.

The LCA though many say is still not 100 per cent ready and the IAF which has long waited for this believes many more tests need to be done before it can be a truly cutting edge machine.

The project, which has taken 27 long years to reach this stage, has been bogged down by technology denials, leading to financial constraints and cost escalations. But with this operational clearance there are now plans to start the Medium Combat Aircraft

However, Defence Minister AK Antony now says that money will not be a problem.

Only a handful of countries can be proud to make their aircraft. The team behind Tejas now hopes that this plane will be a stepping-stone to greater success.

Rest Here:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

South Dakota residents anxious about Air Force runway

Some Box Elder homeowners are growing anxious as the organization that is charged with helping residents move from runways near Ellsworth Air Force Base moves ahead with its plans.

And the Ellsworth Development Authority can't move fast enough for some property owners, including Raymalee McKee, who is frustrated by what is going to be a lengthy process, according to authority officials.

McKee lives in a house on Hillview Drive in what is defined as "accident potential zone 1," which is one of the neighborhoods that is the closest to the base's runways and thus considered the most dangerous area.

"We're right in the flight path," McKee said recently. "We've been here for going on 12 years. It's a lot louder now than it was then. It's something you never get used to."

McKee worries that when the time comes for them to move from their home, the couple will have difficulty selling because of the noise from the Air Force bombers.

That's where the authority hopes to step in as a buyer, even if no timeline has been set for negotiations to begin with homeowners.

"We're not prepared at this point to talk specifics with people, but we're definitely moving in that direction," said Bruce Rampelberg, the chairman of the Ellsworth Air Force Base Authority, which is beginning what it calls a willing selling/willing buyer program to help find new homes for residents in targeted areas.

Authority officials emphasized that no one is being asked to move as a result of new zoning deeming their homes "incompatible" with the Air Force base and that they will develop a process for buying homes as their resources become available.

McKee and other residents are frustrated with the authority for dangling these grand plans but at the same time not having a specific process or timeline in place.

Rampelberg said he understands the concerns, but he emphasized that it takes time to implement a plan as large as the one being undertaken.

"I wish we could move tomorrow, but there are many steps between here and there. We're working consistently to get at this down the road," Rampelberg said.

The plan could potentially require millions of dollars to move more than 1,000 residents to help ensure both the viability of the base and the health and safety of residents in Box Elder.

Box Elder Mayor Al Dial said he has heard that homeowners in the targeted areas are frustrated, and he hopes the authority's buyouts will start this year.

"I think people would like it to move a little faster," he said. "We deal with federal financing all the time, and we're very aware it could take a long time to get implemented."

In the meantime, Dial said, residents can check with city officials or go to city hall to view the zones on maps to see if they live in a potentially dangerous area. General questions about the redevelopment can go to the authority itself.

Rampelberg said the authority eventually hopes to establish a permanent office in Box Elder where it can answer questions from residents.

"We'll also be scheduling a meeting in Box Elder for all the interested people to come together to hear about our plans and identify people to contact," he said.

With its vote on Dec. 13 to begin negotiations with Box Elder homeowners in the affected areas, the authority set off a wave of excitement as well as raised new questions. Authority officials are now saying, however, that it could be months before any homes are bought.

"This is a long-term process; this is not happening in a week, a month or even a year," said Mark Merchen, the authority's executive director. "This may take even a decade to transition from areas that are currently incompatible to those that are."

Established in 2009 by the state Legislature, the authority is an independent group aimed at keeping the base attractive to top Air Force officials and to provide incentives for neighbors to leave mobile home parks and homes deemed too close to base's main runway.

About 600 parcels, or one quarter of the land-area in Box Elder, is considered to be in "incompatible use," which means the properties lie in accident-potential zones that are off the ends of runways or in areas where high sound levels from jets are considered harmful to health.

The community, which sprang up around Ellsworth about 10 miles east of Rapid City, could be redefined by the extensive project. Eventually, the authority hopes to move about a third of the town's 4,200 residents.

In July, the authority used $574,500 of its $1.6 million state Housing Development Authority grant to buy 230 acres where it hopes to relocate hundreds of residents in a new development called Freedom Estates.

Johnny Blalack and his wife, Sandy, said they had not heard from the authority about moving from their mobile home in Centennial Mobile Estates.

Johnny Blalack said they would be ready for a change even though they have adjusted to the noise that comes with living near an Air Force base.

"I don't find safety to be an issue, and the noise doesn't bother me," he said. "It'll drown the TV out now and then, but you get used to it."

Larry Meagher said he, too, has adjusted to the roar of the jets that fly over his home on Hillview Drive several times a day.

He said he would consider moving his mobile home, which is about a mile from the end of the runway, if the price were right. He is also not much concerned about living near the Air Force base's runway.

"I knew planes flew over when I moved. I just wasn't that concerned," Meagher said. "I know they don't want them to crash, either."

After homes are moved, the land could become home to warehouses and private storage units, which has some local business owners concerned that they would be competing with the authority.

Merchen said the authority wants to work with local businesses to ease their concerns, as well.

"It's not our intention to compete with local businesses; however, there is a certain amount of risk that the authority will take on," Rampelberg said. "It would be best if private enterprise developed this land, but in some cases, it's a level of risk they're not willing to take."

The future of the area will depend largely on the availability of funding. Rampelberg said the sluggish economy is working against them, and that could extend the timeline of some phases of redevelopment.

Eventually, the group may have to work with residents not happy about relocating. Rampelberg said the authority would use eminent domain powers if needed.

"It's not our intention to use eminent domain; that just makes everybody upset. Frankly we don't want to go there," he said.

Rest Here:

Air force may send pilots to Australia

Air force may send pilots to Australia for training.

Kiwi pilots will probably go to Australia for fast-jet training as the Government rushes to fill a 10-year-old hole in the air force left by the scrapped Aermacchis.

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp confirmed this week that the 17 Aermacchi jets could not be returned to service.

He said yesterday that New Zealand had missed out on tens of million of dollars, and years of pilot training, as a result.

Along with 17 mothballed Skyhawks, the decision to permanently decommission the jets meant the air force faced a future with "a clear gap" in its resources.

Pilots required to fly Hercules and Orion aircraft could only train in much smaller Beech and CT-4E Airtrainer planes.

"There is a hole and the hole could be filled in a variety of ways," Dr Mapp said. "We could do [an aircraft] lease deal, we could do a [training] deal with Australia, which obviously has some attractions, and we're looking at those options right now."

The Australian air force fleet includes F18 and F111 jets. Dr Mapp said officials were working on a plan for Kiwi pilots to have training time in the Australian jets.

The Cabinet had supported the bid, but there could also be leases taken out on new training aircraft.

"I think you are probably talking about a two-stage approach," Dr Mapp said.

Air Force-BYU Preview

Jimmer Fredette was outstanding as BYU kicked off its conference schedule in impressive fashion.

The high-scoring senior will now try to help the 15th-ranked Cougars avoid a letdown against a Mountain West rival they haven't lost to in nearly five years.

BYU seeks its 11th straight win against Air Force when the teams meet Saturday at the Marriott Center.

Fredette scored a season-high 39 points - sinking 7 of 13 from 3-point range - in Wednesday night's 89-77 win at No. 25 UNLV, snapping an eight-game skid in Las Vegas.

"This was a great win, one of the best wins we had in a long time," Fredette said. "It's a great way to start conference play."

Fredette received ample help from Jackson Emery, who tied a career high with six 3-pointers to finish with 22 points. Emery also had two steals and sits one behind Danny Ainge's 30-year-old school record of 195.

"We played on attack and guys made plays," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "I was happy for Jimmer, but the difference for us in the game was Emery."

Emery came up big against Air Force last season, averaging 19.5 points while going 9-of-16 from beyond the arc in a pair of wins.

That offense became even more important because Fredette, the nation's second-leading scorer at 25.1 points per game this season, was held to single digits in both meetings with the Falcons in 2009-10. He has scored less than 10 points only six times in his last 64 games.

BYU is 38-2 in its last 40 regular-season home game versus conference opponents, outscoring teams by an average of 15.3 points in the wins.

The Cougars (15-1, 1-0) posted their largest margin of victory during a 10-game win streak against the Falcons with a 91-48 rout Feb. 10 in the most recent meeting.

Air Force (10-4, 1-0) recorded a very rare conference win Wednesday, beating Utah 77-69 behind a career-high 26 points from Michael Lyons. The Falcons had lost 31 of 32 Mountain West games.

Lyons, the team leader with 13.6 points per game, bounced back after averaging 7.0 in his previous two contests.

Although the Falcons are off to their best start since finishing 26-9 in 2006-07, winning back-to-back conference games for the first time since March 5 and 8, 2008, won't be easy.

"We've got to rise up to the challenge," Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said. "I don't know many other teams that are going to face what we're going to face, unless you're in the Big East. If we continue to play the way we're capable of, we can be more and more competitive in the league, but we've got to do better defensively."

Air Force is 9-1 when limiting opponents to less than 70 points, but could have a hard time keeping the Cougars and their 84.2-point average in check.

The Falcons are 5-27 against the Cougars as the visiting team.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Indian Air Force band amazed the crowd

The Indian Air Force band scintillated audiences at India Gate when they recently played live for them.

The 30-member band has performed in India as well as Bangkok, Finland, France and Italy, among other places. The tunes played ranged from contemporary songs like "Waka Waka" to the patriotic "Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon". Tushar, who was present with his parents, said, "I loved the Air Warrior Drill. My mother, as you can see, is humming the tunes of the band."

Said Surbhi, an onlooker who had come with her family, "I just came to India Gate to chill with my family when I saw people gathering here. On a closer look, I saw the band performing. It was such a brilliant performance by the Air Warriors Drill Team."


Air Force vs Florida AM

NCAA Basketball action resumes today when the Air Force welcome the Rattlers in what should be an entertaining match at the Clune Arena. If you plan to watch Air Force vs Florida A&M live, stream online, or on TV today then first check out our Falcons vs Rattlers preview below.
Air Force Falcons vs Florida A&M Rattlers

The Falcons go into this one with a 67% winning record, and naturally as favorites over the Florida A&M Rattlers. Air Force will be sure to keep an eye on the current Florida A&M streak (Lost 2), and take necessary precautions. The Falcons are averaging 66.8 ppg this season (good for number 234 in the NCAA), but not as good as the Rattlers’s 67.4 ppg average in the 2010-2011 NCAA season.

Playing on the road, the Rattlers will need to play to their strengths and their 43.8 rebounds per game is their strongest statistical attribute (and good for number 26 in the whole NCAA Division 1). The Florida A&M are 5-7 this season overall (0-1 in the Mid-Eastern Conference) and today will hope to improve their 0 – 6 record away from Alfred Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center.

Air Force have been dominating their opponents this season in the field goal percentage departement. Their 47.7 field goal percentage is the number 37 best among the 350 colleges in the NCAA D1, and that will be an area that the Florida A&M coaching staff will want to balance out today if they want to dampen Air Force’s 6 – 1 home record. After 12 games, the Falcons hopeful will be counting for a victory to improve their standing in the Moutain West Conference.

The 5,939 expected fans in the Clune Arena will be in for a treat today and if you want to join them and watch Air Force Falcons vs Florida A&M Rattlers online live streaming on ESPN3 or on your TV – then make sure to tune in at 18:30 ET today.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Wish You A Happy New Year !!!