2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.


Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,700 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Women in Rescue

Ensign of the Indian Air Force

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ARTICLE:  IAF women pilots shining in Sikkim

Women pilots of the Indian Air Force (IAF) have been in the thick of action the past week, carrying out relief and rescue operations in earthquake-hit Sikkim from this air base in north Bengal.

Gratifying to read about the success of women in a fairly traditional society such as India (while acknowledging that the USAF didn’t lift its own restrictions on women in combat aviation roles until 1993).  Was surprised to discover that even Pakistan has female F-16 pilots, and Afghanistan is following suit (although they won’t have F-16 pilots because Afghanistan won’t get F-16s, no matter how many times they demand them)…

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New tankers being delivered to USAF rescue units

ARTICLE: Combat King II

Lockheed Martin delivered the first of 11 HC- 130J Combat King II personnel recovery aircraft to the United States Air Force’s Air Combat Command (ACC).

It’s about time.  These versatile aircraft will be well used by tanker squadrons in the USAF CSAR community.  There’s a lot that can be done with these aircraft beyond just passing has to the intrepid HH-60G, and I’m confident the new HC-130 aircraft will be put to the test immediately.

That being said, I called them “tankers” purposefully, even though I know that the de rigeur term now is the”fixed wing rescue platform.”  I have written previously about the USAF CSAR community losing its soul–that type of silly word play is part of the problem.  I am very much aware of what the HC-130s are capable of (and I believe those capabilities should be developed and rehearsed), but when the tanker community loses sight of its reason for existance–refueling helicopters–that is the end of dedicated rescue tankers.

[Apologies for the spartan appearance of this post.  I’m at Camp Atterbury, Indiana for pre-deployment training (getting ready for a 6 month deployment to Afghanistan) and I’m forced to blog from my phone…]

Army continues to put its money where its mouth is…

ARTICLE: Critical Practice

An Iraqi national steps out of the field and approaches the downed Black Hawk’s crew…”You ruined my field,” he shouts, waving his arms in anger over his long, white tunic. “You burned it yesterday and you landed in it today. My crops! Who’s in charge? Who’s going to pay for this?”

The scene Thursday was similar to those that played out throughout last week at North Fort Hood, as Kansas National Guardsmen prepared for their upcoming deployment to Iraq with a complex personnel recovery exercise…Dozens of teams of six 1st Battalion, 108th Aviation Regiment soldiers completed the training, following an imaginary forced landing in hostile territory — replete with civilian contractors posing as enemy combatants.

This is another example of the US putting its money where its mouth is is for personnel recovery.  Creative training, allocation of resources, unit commitment to building personnel recovery capabilities–those are great signs of a unit that gets it.

I would like, however, to see this training lose its aviation focus.  Convoys, AfPak Hands, mentors to Afghan National Security Forces, US Army Corps Engineers, and so many others in non-flying positions are equally at risk of isolation in Afghanistan and Iraq (remember Iraq?).  Traning needs to be engineered for their operating environments and then rehearsed.

“Personnel recovery is going to be a lot more relevant with the troop draw down (associated with Operation New Dawn)”  “There’s not going to be as many friendly forces in the area.”  “It’ll be harder with not as many recovery assets available.”

We can expect the risk to shift in the direction of deployed governmnet civilians and contractors as troop reductions continue.  As I write this I am mid-way through a two-week predeployment training program for civilians as I prepare to deploy to Afghanistan for six months, so I will have more to say on this topic…)

(Hat tip to my favorite bass fisherman for forwarding links to the articles mentinoned here).

Rescue as a Counterinsurgency Tool

Pakistan Air Force

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ARTICLE: Pakistan Air Force sets up cell to monitor rescue and relief activities

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has established Crisis Control Cell (CCC) at Air Headquarters Islamabad to monitor rescue and relief activities in flood-affected areas. PAF is actively participating in the rescue and relief operations for the flood victims.

Pakistan‘s protracted (and struggling) counterinsurgency requires more non-military tools to establish population security and strngthen the perceived legitimacy of the government.  Effective and timely rescue response operations are significant contributors to those goals.

Is it effective?   Well it has even worked for the U.S. in that region, so it could surely work for the local governmneet.  Consider the results of THIS poll from Terror Free Tommorow:

A new poll by Terror Free Tomorrow demonstrates that one year after the tsunami in Indonesia, the dramatic increase in Indonesian support for the United States and against Bin Laden has continued. American humanitarian aid to tsunami victims last year caused an overwhelming change of opinion in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country. The new nationwide poll throughout Indonesia reveals that this dramatic shift has not only been sustained, but has strengthened. The fact that more than a year after American help, Indonesians continue to appreciate America’s role is stunning proof of the sustained power of positive and substantial assistance to radically change Muslim public opinion.

Despite widespread stories on Koran desecration, Guantanamo, even the Danish cartoons, favorable opinion toward the United States in Indonesia has actually increased from 34 percent a year ago to 44 percent at the end of January 2006, while unfavorable views declined from 54 percent to 41 percent. The overwhelming reason for these changes continues to be American humanitarian relief. The increased favorable view of the United States occurred in tandem with similar declines in support for Bin Laden and terrorism.

The poll results quantify the effect of US humanitarian intervention and the numbers are astounding.  And that poll is is only one of many reaching the same conclusions.

The poll follows similar findings from previous Terror Free Tomorrow public opinion surveys in Indonesia, Pakistan and the Palestinian Territories. 78% of Pakistanis had a more favorable opinion of the United States because of American earthquake relief.

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Why is the AF not telling the Rescue Story?

Patch of the U.S. Air Force Alaska Air Nationa...

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ARTICLE: Alaska squadron rescues troops in fierce battle

“I thought we had three seconds to live,” Sparks said.

The two men, members of the 212th Rescue Squadron of the Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th Wing, hung from a cable lowering them 40 feet to a rocky mountainside. Bullets flew from every direction. Three struck the cable.

Just as Sparks’ feet touched ground, a rocket-propelled grenade exploded about 20 feet from him.   “The world just turned orange,” he said.

ARTICLE:  33rd RQS wins third straight “Jolly Green Rescue Mission of the Year” award

Within minutes of receiving the call for two wounded soldiers, Capt. Marcus Maris, the flight lead and pilot for Pedro 83, and his team launched both helicopters, establishing on-scene overwatch of the battlefield. Despite their rapid response, intensified RPG and machine gun fire, interlocking enemy fields and a steep rocky terrain forced Alpha Company into a defensive position, leading to a total of 11 casualties.

Unrelenting enemy fire coupled with Alpha Company’s depleting ammunition and increasing casualties made establishing a clear landing zone and protective cover for CASEVAC nearly impossible. The rescue mission quickly became a dangerous race against the clock.

History is being made by USAF rescue forces in Afghanistan.  Even so, the AF is still unable to tell that remarkable story–a story that would make a signification dent in the narrative of COINdinistias that assert that airpower and the AF are of marginal importance.

This will be a topic in a future post(when I can make the time for it–you will observe that my new job has pretty much crowded out routine posting here); for now, please read these articles and watch the videos linked below.

I couldn’t embed the first video.  See it by clicking HERE.



Zee tit for zee tat…

This gallery contains 1 photos.

ARTICLE: 3 Air Force personnel honored by France for pilots’ rescue in Afghanistan LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — France has honored three U.S. Air Force airmen assigned to the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, including one from Des Arc, for rescuing two … Continue reading

Rescue in Antarctica

An aerial view of Antarctica.

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POST: Air Force Makes Frosty Antarctic Rescue

This is a contender for Best Medical Evacuation Ever. When a contractor at the huge U.S. science center in Antarctica got sick, Air Force pilots strapped on night-vision goggles to fly a C-17 around volcanic ash clouds to get the guy out of the frigid wasteland. And they started out in Washington State.

The capability to rescue people in the antarctic (and the arctic) will grow in importance over time.  We will increase our presence in those regions more and more over time–first, to ensure that no other country makes some sort of sovereign claim to them, and second, for access to natural resources.  A credible rescue capability is essential to those national objectives.

A C-17 landing:

A C-17 takeoff:


Worn out…

PRESS RELEASE:  War-torn Rescue helicopter returns home after four years DAVIS MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — Dusty, beat up and war torn, an Air Force rescue helicopter which bears the number 224 on its tail, finally arrived back home … Continue reading

A National Commitment

Location of Nha Trang Air Base. Created from m...

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PRESS RELEASE: Airman Missing from Vietnam War Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Air Force 1st Lt. David A. Thorpe of Seneca Falls, N.Y., will be buried June 23 at Arlington National Cemetery. On Oct. 3, 1966, Thorpe’s C-130E, with four other men aboard, failed to arrive at Nha Trang Air Base following their departure from Tan Son Nhut Air Base in South Vietnam. Rescue personnel found their remains at the crash site in South Vietnam eight days later approximately 40 miles west of Nha Trang. The cause of the crash is not known.