GPSW 'Green Monster' Warriors Kickoff Professional Development Program With Nellis Tour
By Lt. Derek Reimer, GPSW
/ Published April 08, 2008
Los Angeles Air Force Base -- On March 20, the GPS Wing "Green Monster" Company Grade Officer Council kicked off their new professional development program with a trip to Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nev. Thirteen CGOs made the drive to Nellis for a two-day tour of the base.
Captain Steaven Meyer organized the trip with three main goals in mind: provide real world experience with operational systems and how the systems rely on GPS to perform their mission; expose the CGOs to a different military environment; and improve camaraderie and esprit de corps of the company grade officers.
Day one included tours and briefings at the Combined Air and Space Operations Center, Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Detachment 13, the 422nd and 59th Operational Test and Evaluation Squadrons, and an up close look at the F22A.
The CAOC-N briefing was conducted by the Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Ted Anderson who presented a briefing on the CAOC's role as the hub for air operations in a theater. The CAOC operates in a well defined process beginning with direction from the flag officer level that is filtered through several steps that transpose high-level goals into actual battle-field effects required to meet the strategic ends. The output of this cycle is the Air Tasking Order (ATO) which explicitly defines the combat missions to be executed. Ultimately, the CAOC monitors all air battle and provides the results to leadership. After his briefing, the colonel took the CGOs onto the operations floor while combat operations for a "Virtual Flag" exercise were underway.
Following CAOC-N, the GPSW team was treated to a presentation about the Predator UAV at Detachment 13 of the 372nd TRS. Staff Sgt. Winston Tuggle and Tech. Sgt. Christopher Brown provided detailed presentations at an actual Predator control station and two live aircraft. GPSW officers were allowed to sit in the pilot and sensor operator's chairs and interact with the control station hardware. The Predators were undergoing planned maintenance, which provided a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the internal workings and components of the aircraft. The NCOs highlighted the critical nature of GPS to their mission and made sure to point out the Predator's GPS receiver and the key fill ports where the crypto is loaded that protects the GPS military signal.
That afternoon the group visited the 422nd/59th TES Squadrons. Initially, Ari Paez, the director of Engineering and Analysis, provided a mission brief. The scope and volume of testing that occurs there is incredible. They use at least five different aircraft ranging from the MH-53 Pavehawk helicopter to the F-22A fighter jet and annually produce approximately 70 test reports. These squadrons directly impact the warfighter as their reports feed into Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) that are used by pilots and crew members in combat. Following the presentation, Lt. Col. Mark "Beams" Thompson, an F22 pilot for the squadron, provided an additional briefing on the F-22 and discussed the importance of GPS to their situational awareness.
Following the briefing, the group saw an F22 up close. As a flight test engineer for this aircraft the colonel had a strong working knowledge of its systems and provided an overview of the jet.
Day two involved visits to the Threat Training Facility (commonly known as the "Petting Zoo"), Thunderbird Hangar/Museum and Red Flag Facility.
Formerly classified, the Petting Zoo is now open to the public. On display are a wide variety of Russian and Chinese-built weapons systems including tanks, Surface to Air Missile (SAM) systems, and MIGs (Russian fighter jets). While the displays were static at the time, many of them are used as real-time threats in Red Flag exercises. True to its name, the Petting Zoo allowed the lieutenants and captains to climb on and in some of the equipment.
As the Air Force's aerial demonstration team, Thunderbird officers fly F-16 fighter jets in air shows all over the United States and internationally to showcase the USAF's air power and professionalism. Tech Sgt. Pamela Anderson gave the GPSW CGOs a tour detailing the rich history, traditions and training involved in becoming and performing as a Thunderbird team; from the mechanic, to the public affairs officer to the pilot.
The trip concluded with a briefing in the Red Flag conference room (the very same seen in the IMAX movie, Fighter Pilot). Red Flag provides the most realistic air combat environment possible to indoctrinate crewmembers from all platforms to the fog of war. The first several combat sorties have proven both historically and statistically to be the most dangerous. By exposing air crew to their first air battles in a "controlled" environment, the Air Force greatly increases its edge in actual combat. Sister service air components, as well as, Allied nations are invited to participate in Red Flag.
Green Monster members found the visit to be eye-opening and motivational. It was clear that space services, such as GPS, are integral to the aircraft capabilities that get tested there. All officers gained an appreciation and deeper understanding for the various missions they were exposed to. The road trip to Nellis and chance to get outside the office to do something beyond standard SMC fare was definitely a boost to the CGO morale. All of this could not have been possible without strong support from GPSW leadership.
The GPSW CGO Professional Development team is already planning their next trip.