Editor’s Note: The “People First” section is compiled from information from the Air Force Personnel Center, TRICARE, 56th Force Support Squadron, Airman and Family Readiness Flight, Veterans Affairs, the civilian personnel office and armed forces news services. For the complete story, go to the web address listed at the end of the story.
Air Force teams win at inaugural D3 summit
Two Air Force teams won awards at the inaugural Defense, Diplomacy and Development Innovation Summit Pitch Challenge, organized jointly by the Defense Department, State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development March 3 in Washington, D.C.
The top six teams out of 500 submissions pitched their ideas to a panel of senior leaders on how the U.S. might leverage technology to advance defense, diplomacy and development objectives in innovative ways.
Team Active Shooter Protection won both the “Feasibility” and the “Metrics” awards. The team of members from four bases included Capt. Chris Perrine, 1st Lt. Evan Glowiak, 1st Lt. Dan Gunderson, 1st Lt. Carlos Horner, 1st Lt. Andrew Hyde, and 1st Lt. Bruce von Neiderhausern.
They developed an active-shooter acoustic detection system that could be hardwired into existing fire alarm systems. They referred to recent tragedies involving active-shooters, highlighting the fact that oftentimes law enforcement had been hampered in their response because the specific location of the shooter was not known. To test their application, the team built 16 detection devices they hardwired into a fire alarm switchboard.
WASPs pioneer for female pilots of today, tomorrow
Before there could be a first female Thunderbird pilot or women flying combat missions into Iraq and Afghanistan, there were the pioneers: the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots of World War II.
In September 1942, nine months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Army Air Forces commander Gen. Henry H. “Hap” Arnold stood up the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, or WAFS, and the Women’s Flying Training Detachment, or WFTD.
According to the Air Force Historical Support Division, both units merged July 5, 1943, into a single unit for all women pilots who were rapidly extending their qualifications to every type of aircraft in service. The new unified group called itself the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP, with its pilots known as WASPs.
The women paid their own way to travel to basic training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. More than 25,000 women applied, even some from Canada, England and Brazil, said Bernice “Bee” Falk Haydu, a WASP pilot from Montclair, New Jersey.
Senior leaders brief State of the Air Force
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III discussed the State of the Air Force during a press conference at the Pentagon March 7.
James acknowledged a lot has happened since the last State of the Air Force address in August 2015.
“In October, Russia launched its first airstrikes in Syria. In November, (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) terrorists attacked Paris again, as well as Lebanon, Mali, and here at home in San Bernadino. In January, China landed an aircraft on a newly built runway in the South China Sea … and then a few weeks ago, North Korea tested a nuclear weapon,” she said.
James added in Afghanistan, the Taliban, al-Qaida, ISIL and other anti-government groups, continue to conduct attacks, undermine security, and create challenges to the people and government of Afghanistan.
“Your Air Force has been extremely busy and extremely effective,” James said. “In the past year, coalition forces upped the ante against (ISIL), flying more than 55,000 sorties in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.”
James, Welsh testify before Congress
The Air Force’s top two senior leaders testified before the House Appropriations Committee on Defense March 2 and the Senate Armed Services Committee March 3.
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III attested to the critical need of readiness. With less than half of the Air Force’s combat forces prepared for a high-end fight, the senior leaders agreed adjustments need to be made to support the changing world and combatant commanders’ requirements.
“We are now proposing to re-phase the retirement of the A-10 (Thunderbolt II) and the (EC-130H) Compass Call aircraft,” James said. “The bottom line here is we are not proposing to retire any of these aircraft in (fiscal year 2017). We do believe that we will need to divest these weapons systems in the future, but this (year’s change) will maintain a sufficient number of fighter and electronic attack aircraft across the force in support of current operations.”