Category Archive 'US Air Force'

21 Aug 2015

Three US Marines Take Down Muslim Gunman on Amsterdam-to-Paris Train

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fallen gunman

Breaking News:

On a high-speed train raveling from Amsterdam to Paris today, three American marines recognized the sound as the 26-year-old Moroccan loaded a Kalashnikov, and jumped him as he exited the lavatory. The gunman got off some shots while being taken down, injuring three people, two seriously. Those injured were one American, one Briton, and French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade.

Daily Mail




Not actually marines (though it was understandable why everyone thought they must have been), but still mostly Americans.


Crew on Paris-bound train barricaded themselves in their staffroom and locked the door as Kalashnikov-wielding terrorist went on the rampage – leaving PASSENGERS to take him down.

And, as usual, the passengers were 3 Americans and a Brit. When an Islamic terrorist (Can I say that? The French called for caution before jumping to conclusions.) opened fire with an AK-47 (wait, you’re not allowed to have an assault rifle in France!) he was rushed and taken down by Americans Spencer Stone (U.S. Air Force) and Alek Skarlatos (Oregon National Guard) and subdued with the help of California student Anthony Sadler, and British national Chris Norman.

08 Dec 2014

Flash Mob: The U.S. Air Force Band at the Smithsonian

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18 Feb 2013

New US Military Award

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Not content with introducing women into combat, the Obama/Panetta Defense Department is reportedly well along in the process of inventing an important new military award.

Atlantic Wire:

[T]he Distinguished Warfare Medal… will be given for “extra achievement” related to a military operation. That would include drone pilots operating unmanned planes from halfway around the world, or even hackers who launch a successful cyberattack on an enemy. Unlike all other combat-related medals, this would be the first one that you can be awarded without actually putting your life on the line. …

The Distinguished Warfare Medal would be the first combat-award created by the Armed Forces since World War II, and would become the fourth-highest ranking combat decoration. (It would rank above the Bronze Star, but below the Silver Star.)

Rico has a few suggestions for additional awards the Air Force might consider adopting.

30 Nov 2011

Your Tax Dollars At Work

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The goofballs running the Air Force Academy spent $80,000 to construct an outdoor circle of boulders around a propane-fueled fire pit to accommodate the spiritual needs of infinitesimally small numbers of cadets self-described as “pagans, Wiccans, druids, witches and followers of Native American faiths.”

What exactly people who like extinct religions and imaginary religions have in common is unclear, but the Air Force classifies all of the former schools of metaphysical opinion as “Earth-based,” whatever that means.

If one were a Grecian pagan worshipping Zeus or a Nordic pagan worshipping Odin, wouldn’t that make one’s religion “Sky-based?”

And why exactly do these nonconformist cadets need boulders and propane? Couldn’t they sit even more comfortably on ordinary teakwood lawn furniture? Is the Academy planning to supply pious pagan undergraduates with chickens, sheep, and the occasional ox to be sacrificed on major holy days? Will worshippers of Baal or Quetzalcoatl be immunized from the common law and permitted to sacrifice unwanted children or enemy combatants to their bloodthirsty divinities? Will the usual Academy prohibitions on sexual fraternization be suspended for Wiccans to conduct Black Masses? It’s not easy to see how the officials in Colorado Springs think they can conveniently draw the line once they’ve committed themselves to honoring diversity of opinion on such a scale.

LA Times story.

08 Oct 2011

US Air Force Drones Virused

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Noah Schachtman, at Wired’s Danger Room, broke the news of an extraordinary electronic warfare coup by an unnamed foreign adversary.

A computer virus has infected the cockpits of America’s Predator and Reaper drones, logging pilots’ every keystroke as they remotely fly missions over Afghanistan and other warzones.

The virus, first detected nearly two weeks ago by the military’s Host-Based Security System, has not prevented pilots at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada from flying their missions overseas. Nor have there been any confirmed incidents of classified information being lost or sent to an outside source. But the virus has resisted multiple efforts to remove it from Creech’s computers, network security specialists say. And the infection underscores the ongoing security risks in what has become the U.S. military’s most important weapons system.

“We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back,” says a source familiar with the network infection, one of three that told Danger Room about the virus. “We think it’s benign. But we just don’t know.”

Military network security specialists aren’t sure whether the virus and its so-called “keylogger” payload were introduced intentionally or by accident; it may be a common piece of malware that just happened to make its way into these sensitive networks. The specialists don’t know exactly how far the virus has spread. But they’re sure that the infection has hit both classified and unclassified machines at Creech. That raises the possibility, at least, that secret data may have been captured by the keylogger, and then transmitted over the public internet to someone outside the military chain of command. …

The GCSs handling more exotic operations are top secret. None of the remote cockpits are supposed to be connected to the public internet. Which means they are supposed to be largely immune to viruses and other network security threats.

But time and time again, the so-called “air gaps” between classified and public networks have been bridged, largely through the use of discs and removable drives. In late 2008, for example, the drives helped introduce the agent.btz worm to hundreds of thousands of Defense Department computers. The Pentagon is still disinfecting machines, three years later.

Use of the drives is now severely restricted throughout the military. But the base at Creech was one of the exceptions, until the virus hit. Predator and Reaper crews use removable hard drives to load map updates and transport mission videos from one computer to another. The virus is believed to have spread through these removable drives. Drone units at other Air Force bases worldwide have now been ordered to stop their use.

In the meantime, technicians at Creech are trying to get the virus off the GCS machines. It has not been easy. At first, they followed removal instructions posted on the website of the Kaspersky security firm. “But the virus kept coming back,” a source familiar with the infection says. Eventually, the technicians had to use a software tool called BCWipe to completely erase the GCS’ internal hard drives. “That meant rebuilding them from scratch” — a time-consuming effort.

The Air Force declined to comment directly on the virus. “We generally do not discuss specific vulnerabilities, threats, or responses to our computer networks, since that helps people looking to exploit or attack our systems to refine their approach,” says Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis, a spokesman for Air Combat Command, which oversees the drones and all other Air Force tactical aircraft.

Reports I’ve read quoting the Wired ask the silly question: was the infection accidental or deliberate. No one else has mentioned the obvious suspect: China. The good news is that the infection is apparently confined specifically to Creech.

15 Jan 2011

Most Amusing Military Patch

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John Noonan remembers serving as an Air Force ICBM officer.

In a favorite missileer uniform patch (right), the Grim Reaper sits at an ICBM console, dressed in bunny slippers. In the real world, death wears a campus T-shirt, JCrew bottoms and the ubiquitous Snuggie. The silly blanket-robe hybrid is suited to the missile force, keeping an officer toasty while allowing him to interact with the weapons console unobstructed. …

I used to imagine that I’d have some sort of stiff-upper-lip moment should I receive “the order,” where I’d shed the Snuggie and slippers, zip up my flight suit, and make imperial references about “going out proper.”

From Wired via Karen L. Myers.

08 Nov 2010

An Air Force Major Shrugs


Mike Banzet, a 22 year Air Force veteran, decided to retire as a major. He explains in a letter to the Daily Inter Lake, his Northwest Montana home paper, that he finally concluded that a lot of Americans were just not worth the risks and sacrifices of military service and he was tired of being made into a sucker.

[M]y career had been a representation of the promise of this country. Starting out on the lowest rung of the rank ladder as an F-4G Wild Weasel crew chief, continuing on F-16s and the F-117A Stealth fighter in Desert Storm, then a small part of Desert Fox as a nuclear Maintenance Officer and finally a pilot that took part in numerous deployments in Southern Watch, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. I finished up an awesome year on the ground in Iraq, and was selected to receive a coveted “Definitely Promote,” assuring me of promotion to lieutenant colonel. They don’t pass out many of those. My dreams were right in front of me. All I had to do was grab them. And then I retired. Why?

Atlas Shrugged.

Read the whole thing.

02 Nov 2009

Air Crew Awarded Medals For 2006 Sudan Confrontation


Air Force Times:

11 airmen and six National Guardsmen from Guam flew into Al Fashir, in Darfur, Sudan with an Air Force HC-30 transport to pick up six locked duffel bags at the request of military liaisons from the US Embassy.

Sudanese military personnel were loading blue explosive canisters onto an Antonov-26 transport, for use against civilians in Darfur, while UN humanitarian workers were loading the wounded and dead onto helicopters.

As the American Air Force plane began to taxi for take off, the crew received a sudden order to abort departure.

(A) Sudanese intelligence officer had called PAT 332 back because he was worried the aircraft’s FLIR ball had recorded images of the blue canisters being loaded onto the An-26.

Then, nine Sudanese intelligence and military officers — led by the one who ordered PAT 332 to return — rushed up. They began accusing the crew members of espionage and demanded to search the plane.

(Maj. James) Woosley denied the request. The Sudanese officers yelled at Woosley and (navigator Capt. Jesse) Enfield, threatening to kill them. They ordered Woosley to pick one officer to leave the plane to pay a $400 landing fee. Not wanting one officer to go alone, he sent (co pilots 1st Lt. John Cuddy) Cuddy and (1st Lt. Timothy) Saxton.

About this time, Woosley went back into the plane. He ordered the crew members to put on their body armor and conceal handguns underneath their uniforms since he had told the Sudanese that they were unarmed. …

Sudanese soldiers then demanded to inspect the duffel bags. Assured by the U.S. military liaisons there was no classified material inside, Woosley agreed. Without the key to open the bags, though, Enfield and one U.S. military liaison cut open the bags for the Sudanese to search.

Angry at finding only clothes and personal possessions, the Sudanese officers demanded to know why Woosley and Enfield would fly from Djibouti to Darfur to pick up duffel bags. Both officers relayed the story about the father-to-be and told the Sudanese officers the U.S. Embassy could corroborate their mission.

That answer didn’t satisfy the Sudanese. About 20 Sudanese soldiers joined the nine officers and circled Woosley and Enfield. One grabbed Woosley, and another slapped his sunglasses off his head.

Woosley and Enfield pushed through the crowd and got back onto the aircraft. Cuddy and Saxton had also returned. The U.S. military liaison told the crew members the Sudanese officials planned to arrest them for espionage and have them executed.

A Sudanese soldier then asked Woosley if there were any women on board. The crew had two female members, Staff Sgt. Kelly Hall, flying crew chief, and Senior Airman Kimberley Vanhaaster, loadmaster. When Woosley answered yes, the soldier countered that women didn’t belong in the military. He said the women would be raped and sold once the crew was arrested. He then asked to see the women. Woosley said no. When Woosley got back on the plane, he had Hall and Vanhaaster move to the middle of the aircraft, where they were harder to spot. …

After 6 p.m., two trucks carrying about 50 Sudanese soldiers drove up next to the HC-130. The soldiers, carrying AK47s, emptied out of the trucks and took firing positions around the aircraft. Soldiers positioned two .50-caliber machine guns and one rocket-propelled grenade launcher near the tail and multiple 7.62mm machine guns with tripods on the sides of the plane. An old firetruck drove up and parked in front of the plane’s nose, cutting off the crew’s exit.

Outmanned and outgunned, the crew members and guardsmen maintained their defensive positions. …

After 6 p.m., two trucks carrying about 50 Sudanese soldiers drove up next to the HC-130. The soldiers, carrying AK47s, emptied out of the trucks and took firing positions around the aircraft. Soldiers positioned two .50-caliber machine guns and one rocket-propelled grenade launcher near the tail and multiple 7.62mm machine guns with tripods on the sides of the plane. An old firetruck drove up and parked in front of the plane’s nose, cutting off the crew’s exit.

Outmanned and outgunned, the crew members and guardsmen maintained their defensive positions. …

More than four hours after being ordered back to the ramp, a U.S. military liaison demanded to speak with the airfield commander, a Sudanese colonel. The colonel told the liaison he would have to consult with his superior, a lieutenant general. None of the documents reviewed by Air Force Times explained why the liaison didn’t ask to speak with the colonel sooner.

The colonel stepped out of the room. When he returned, he told the liaison the aircrew could leave after paying a landing fee. The liaison explained the fee had already been paid; the colonel didn’t ask for proof of payment and told him the crew could leave. This time, it was the liaison’s turn to leave the room. He radioed Woosley with the news.

The Sudanese soldiers backed up and the firetruck drove off.

Woosley and the crew members became blurs of motion, getting the plane ready for takeoff in eight minutes instead of the usual 30.

PAT 332 taxied to the runway for a second time. This time, the wheels left the ground.

Hat tip to George Smiley.

25 Feb 2009

Raptor on the Chopping Block

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F-22 Raptors

One might think that if one believed it appropriate to spend federal money just to create jobs that jobs for Lockheed Martin workers would be at least as worthy of creation as jobs for community organizers and social workers. It could be argued as well that investing in long-term American Air Supremacy is far more likely to contribute to the welfare of the nation than funding uneconomic energy projects or pouring more dollars into Amtrak. Of course, as decisions on spending priorities are made, it isn’t very likely that Barack Obama is going to look at it that way.

In the Atlantic, Mark Bowden discusses the meaning and consequences of the probable termination of F-22 purchases.

[US] complete dominance is eroding. Some foreign-built fighters can now match or best the F‑15 in aerial combat, and given the changing nature of the threats our country is facing and the dizzying costs of maintaining our advantage, America is choosing to give up some of the edge we’ve long enjoyed, rather than pay the price to preserve it. The next great fighter, the F‑22 Raptor, is every bit as much a marvel today as the F‑15 was 25 years ago, and if we produced the F-22 in sufficient numbers we could move the goalposts out of reach again. But we are building fewer than a third of the number needed to replace the older fighters in service. After losing hope of upgrading the whole F‑15 fleet, the Air Force requested 381 F‑22s, the minimum number that independent analysts said it needs to retain its current edge. Congress is buying 183, and has authorized the manufacture of parts for 20 more at the front end of the production line, enough to at least keep it working until President Obama decides whether or not to continue building F-22s. Like so many presidential dilemmas, it’s a Scylla-and-Charybdis choice: a decision to save money and not build more would deliver a severe blow to a sprawling and vital U.S. industry at a time when the nation is mired in recession. And once the production line for the F-22 begins to shut down, restarting it will not be easy or cheap, even in reaction to a new threat. Each plane consists of about 1,000 parts, manufactured in 44 states, and because of the elaborate network of highly specialized subcontractors needed to fashion its unique airframe and avionics, assembling one F-22 can take as long as three years. Modern aerial wars are usually over in days, if not hours. Once those 183 to 203 new Raptors are built, they will have to do. Our end of the fight will still be borne primarily by the current fleet of aged F‑15s.

When Obama unveiled his national-security team in December, he remarked that he intended “to maintain the strongest military on the planet.” That goal will continue to require the biggest bill in the world, but the portion that bought aerial dominance for so long may have become too dear. …

The Air Force fears that the dominance of U.S. airpower has been so complete for so long that it is taken for granted. The ability of the United States to own the skies over any battlefield has transformed the way we fight. The last American soldier killed on the ground by an enemy air attack died in Korea, on April 15, 1953.

Russia, China, Iran, India, North Korea, Pakistan, and others are now flying fourth-generation fighters with avionics that match or exceed the F‑15’s. Ideally, from the standpoint of the U.S. Air Force, the F‑22 would gradually replace most of the F‑15s in the U.S. fleet over the next 15 years, and two or three more generations of American pilots, soldiers, and marines would fight without worrying about attacks from the sky. But that isn’t going to happen.

“It means a step down from air dominance,” Richard Aboulafia, an air-warfare analyst for the Teal Group, which conducts assessments for the defense industry, told me. “The decision not to replace the F‑15 fleet with the F‑22 ultimately means that we will accept air casualties. We will lose more pilots. We will still achieve air superiority, but we will get hurt achieving it.”

25 Aug 2007

Air Force’s First Female Aerial Gunner


Airman First Class Vanessa Dobos

Her profile at Reasoned Audacity reads:

Vanessa Dobos is a gunner of a USAF AC-130 gunship. She has seen action in Iraq and Afghanistan. She likes long walks on the beach, men who are not afraid to cry and puppies.

Her dislikes include feed tray stoppages, tracer flareout of her NVGs and premature fixed-wing strikes scattering her high-value targets.

Via The News Junkie at Maggie’s Farm.

06 Oct 2006

Air Force Father Hands on Flag to Daughter in Iraq

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The US Air Force reports a family story from Iraq.

Traditions run deep in the military, and for this father and daughter, traditions are what brought them together in Iraq.

Col. Steven Dreyer, 4th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Group commander, at Camp Victory, Iraq, reunited with his youngest daughter, 1st Lt. Kathrine Dreyer, 777th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, Balad AB, Iraq.

The visit marked not only the end of Colonel Dreyer’s final deployment, but also the beginning of Lieutenant Dreyer’s first deployment. During the visit, the colonel presented his daughter with the family’s American flag.

“This flag symbolizes our family’s dedication to serving in the military,” said the colonel, who enlisted in the Marines in 1970. “I have carried this flag during my deployments over the years; my oldest daughter, SSgt. Kristine Dreyer, carried it to Iraq in 2003, and now my youngest daughter is stepping up to continue the tradition.”

The flag, originally flown in front of the home of Colonel Dreyer’s father, a retired Army WWII and Vietnam veteran, has accompanied the colonel on every deployment.

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