History Podcasts

Red Navy Airforce

Red Navy Airforce

The Red Air Force was not an independent service and was controlled by the Red Army and the Red Navy. By 1936 Soviet factories were producing about 3,500 aircraft a year. The most important of these were the fighters Polikarpov Po-2 and the Polikarpov I-16 and the bombers Tupolev TB-3 and the Tupolev SB-2. By 1941 the Red Air Force possessed a total of 18,000 aircraft and employed 20,000 pilots and a further 180,000 personnel.

The Red Navy Airforce suffered badly at the hands of the Luftwaffe during the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Most naval aviation was destroyed during the first weeks of the invasion and in 1942 the surviving aircraft were transferred to fight with the Red Army Airforce.


This Is How 'RED Friday' Became a Thing and Why It Still Matters Today

It's a tiny act that means much more than people seem to realize. On Fridays, civilians back home wear an article of red clothing — a shirt, a tie, anything — as a reminder to all to Remember Everyone Deployed. These Fridays became known as R.E.D. Friday.

Today, you'll see this tradition honored by most AAFES workers, military family members, and supporters of the troops, but it actually got its start about a dozen years ago. Let's talk about how this patriotic way of showing your support for the troops that are in harm's way got started and why it's an important movement.

There are actually two competing origin stories of this unofficial trend. The first says it all began in 2005 with a specific email that recipients were supposed to forward to others.

That email had a very polite snippet in it for a good cause:

If every one of our members shares this with other acquaintances, fellow workers, friends, and neighbors, I guarantee that it will not be long before the USA will be covered in RED — and make our troops know there are many people thinking of their well-being. You will feel better all day Friday when you wear RED!

Now, there's no telling if this chain email tactic is really what got people wearing red on Fridays, but if it was, it has to be one of the only times that people actually read one of those chain emails.

In March, 2006, another more-tangible movement began in Canada that implored subscribers to wear red to support the troops who are deployed. Now, there's no telling if this movement got its start from the previously-mentioned email chain, but they do credit it as being an "American initiative."

Military spouses Lisa Miller and Karen Boier organized an event and rallied many of their fellow Canadians to show up wearing red. While the "RED" is the color that fits the acronym, it also happens to work perfectly with the Canadian flag.

These events gathered steam and grew continuously until, eventually, its reach extended all the way up to the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. On Sept 23rd, 2006, Harper led a rally of thousands in a show of solidarity for the Canadian soldiers deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Global War on Terrorism.

RED Fridays seem to wax and wane in terms of popularity among civilians, but the core of the movement is important: to Remember Everyone Deployed. The Global War on Terrorism is now officially older than troops eligible to enlist and serve in that same war — it's important to remember that we've still got men and women out there fighting for us.

It's not hard to show your support for the troops: Simply pick something red from your wardrobe and be ready to wear it on Friday, volunteer your time organizing care packages for troops who still need essential items, or write a deployed troop. I know from personal experience that every letter I received was a boost to morale that I happily honored with a reply. Simple gestures go a long way.

Remember everyone deployed.

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The first use of the modern beret in the U.S. military was in 1943 when an Army battalion of the 509th Parachute Infantry was given maroon berets by their British counterparts for their service in the war. Though it never stuck, the use of the beret started out as a headgear that designated a special service of the military member and it still continues to have that same designation -- somewhat.

The first widespread use of the headgear by U.S. forces came a few decades later, when a new Army Special Forces unit was developed. They became the special organization that was trained for insurgency and counter-guerrilla warfare and began (unofficially) wearing a green variety in 1953. It took another eight years for the Army’s Special Forces — the “Green Berets” — to win presidential approval from John F. Kennedy to make their headgear official, and in 1961 the green beret of the US Army Special Forces was formally adopted.

In the 1970s, Army policy allowed local commanders to encourage morale-enhancing uniform distinctions, and the use of berets boomed. Armor personnel at Fort Knox, Ky., wore the traditional British black beret, while U.S. armored cavalry regiments in Germany wore the black beret with a red and white oval.

Troops of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., started wearing the maroon beret in 1973, while at Fort Campbell, KY, the trend exploded -- with post personnel wearing red, military police donning light green, and the 101st Airborne Division taking light blue as their color. At Ft. Richardson, AK, the 172nd Infantry Brigade began using an olive green beret.

In 1975, the Airborne Rangers got approval from the Army Chief of Staff to use the black beret as their official headgear.

Over the next few years, the whole thing got out of hand, so in 1979 senior Army officials "put on the brakes." Army leadership allowed the Rangers to keep their black berets. In 1980, airborne troops were allowed to continue wearing the maroon version. But all other beret varieties were declared off-limits.


RAF founded

On April 1, 1918, the Royal Air Force (RAF) is formed with the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). The RAF took its place beside the British navy and army as a separate military service with its own ministry.

In April 1911, eight years after Americans Wilbur and Orville Wright made the first flight of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft, an air battalion of the British army’s Royal Engineers was formed at Larkhill in Wiltshire. The battalion consisted of aircraft, airship, balloon, and man-carrying kite companies. In December 1911, the British navy formed the Royal Naval Flying School at Eastchurch, Kent. In May 1912, both were absorbed into the newly created Royal Flying Corps, which established a new flying school at Upavon, Wiltshire, and formed new airplane squadrons. In July 1914, the specialized requirements of the navy led to the creation of RNAS.

One month later, on August 4, Britain declared war on Germany and entered World War I. At the time, the RFC had 84 aircraft, and the RNAS had 71 aircraft and seven airships. Later that month, four RFC squadrons were deployed to France to support the British Expeditionary Force. During the next two years, Germany took the lead in air strategy with technologies like the manual machine gun, and England suffered bombing raids and frustration in the skies against German flying aces such as Manfred von Richthofen, “The Red Baron.” Repeated German air raids led British military planners to push for the creation of a separate air ministry, which would carry out strategic bombing against Germany. On April 1, 1918, the RAF was formed along with a female branch of the service, the Women’s Royal Air Force. That day, Bristol F.2B fighters of the 22nd Squadron carried out the first official missions of the RAF.

By the war’s end, in November 1918, the RAF had gained air superiority along the western front. The strength of the RAF in November 1918 was nearly 300,000 officers and airmen, and more than 22,000 aircraft. At the outbreak of World War II, in September 1939, the operational strength of the RAF in Europe had diminished to about 2,000 aircraft.

In June 1940, the Western democracies of continental Europe fell to Germany one by one, leaving Britain alone in its resistance to Nazi Germany. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler planned an invasion of Britain and in July 1940 ordered his powerful air force—the Luftwaffe—to destroy British ports along the coast in preparation. The outnumbered RAF fliers put up a fierce resistance in the opening weeks of the Battle of Britain, leading the Luftwaffe commanders to place destruction of the British air fleet at the forefront of the German offensive. If the Germans succeeded in wiping out the RAF, they could begin their invasion as scheduled in the fall.

During the next three months, however, the RAF successfully resisted the massive German air invasion, relying on radar technology, more maneuverable aircraft, and exceptional bravery. For every British plane shot down, two Luftwaffe warplanes were destroyed. In October, Hitler delayed the German invasion indefinitely, and in May 1941 the Battle of Britain came to an end. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said of the RAF pilots, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”


The RED HORSE Way

The Air Force’s elite corps of rapid deployment civil engineers is working miracles in Afghanistan, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, and other austere locations that are the scenes of Operation Enduring Freedom and other US actions in the region.

They are the Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer, better known as RED HORSE, units.

These outfits have undertaken huge tasks ranging from the largest aircraft parking ramp project in history to renovation of living quarters at former Taliban bases in Afghanistan. They’ve repaired runways in blackout conditions and, at one forward base, laid enough gravel to build a road that would stretch from the Pentagon to Langley Air Force Base in the Tidewater area of southeastern Virginia.

With an estimated $100 million worth of projects under way at the end of 2002, RED HORSE squadrons are the leading edge of one of the largest military construction programs since Vietnam. “These are awesome accomplishments,” said Col. Fred Wieners, director of Task Force Enduring Look, an Air Force effort to document lessons learned in the war against terrorism. “What other country could go halfway around the world and do that?”

Consider the scale of the ramp project—the biggest single job a RED HORSE unit has ever undertaken.

In this venture, Air Force engineers from the 820th and 823rd RED HORSE units spent five months transforming a scrub-and-sand Gulf desert site into a paved airfield the size of about 20 combined football fields.

Members of the 820th, who deployed from Nellis AFB, Nev., and 823rd, from Hurlburt Field, Fla., and an assortment of other Air Force engineering personnel worked around the clock to finish the project early. The ramp—at al Udeid in Qatar—is some 44,000 square feet larger than the previous record holder’s ramp, which was built by the 554th RED HORSE in 1967 at Phan Rang Air Base in what was then South Vietnam.

Record Time

“They built this thing [at al Udeid] in record time,” noted Maj. Gen. Earnest O. Robbins II, the Air Force civil engineer, at the Pentagon. “Outside contractors estimated it would take months.”

The project called for pouring more than 1,000 cubic yards of concrete every 24 hours. A typical work day saw movement of up to 350 trucks on and off the site.

“They actually had to build up this entire area by about three and a half feet,” said Robbins. “It was a rather incredible construction project.”

Besides the ramp, RED HORSE members built at the same base some 124,000 square feet of covered maintenance space and a new fire station, warehouse, four hangars, and a squadron operations facility. They laid 10,000 feet of conduit and built water-handling facilities for both fire-fighting and personnel consumption.

RED HORSE units are the civil engineering SWAT teams of the Air Force. They are 404-person units whose mission is to move quickly to support special operations or contingency deployments worldwide.

They are trained to operate in high-threat environments with little or no contractor support, and they are so self-contained that they can deploy with their own weapons, equipment, and even food service and medical support if need be.

Their specialty is what Air Force officials have called “horizontal capability”—runway and ramp construction, maintenance, and repair. However, they are meant to be extraordinarily flexible, and they can do virtually all civil engineering tasks, from damage assessment to the erection of buildings on previously bare bases.

Some units possess special capabilities. These range from well-drilling to explosive demolition and quarry operations. In Fiscal 2003, plans even call for the addition of airdrop capability to some squadrons, allowing them to deliver light equipment and personnel by airdrop or other air transport means.

Current doctrine organizes the squadrons into four deployment echelons. The first has 16 persons who are capable of assessment and site preparation and ready to move within 16 hours of notification. The second—with 148 people—can be ready to deploy within 96 hours and adds heavy bomb damage repair and light base development to the capabilities mix. The third element—with 120 personnel—moves six days after notification, and the fourth—with another 120 personnel—moves two days later and brings a RED HORSE unit to full strength.

Four of the Air Force’s seven RED HORSE squadrons are active duty. The remainder are provided by the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command. The latter are split units, with the two halves being located at different bases and serving under different commanders. For example, the 200th RED HORSE, Port Clinton, Ohio, combines with the 201st RED HORSE, Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., to form a full unit.

Vietnam Roots

The roots of RED HORSE are in the Vietnam era, when then–Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara asked the Air Force to develop an in-house combat construction capability similar to that of the Navy’s Seabees. RED HORSE was the result, with the first units deployed to Phan Rang in 1966.

Since that time, the squadrons—whose emblem is a snorting, armed red horse driving a bulldozer—have played a key role in Air Force contingency operations. In the 1991 Gulf War, for instance, a composite RED HORSE force drawn from a number of squadrons completed more than 25 construction projects at 12 different sites in the Gulf region.

Much of the work was in Saudi Arabia. At al Kharj, just south of Riyadh, RED HORSE personnel supervised the construction in a matter of weeks of an air base capable of handling five fighter squadrons. They built berms to protect Patriot missile sites for the Army. At the end of the war, per order of the Gulf War air boss, then–Lt. Gen. Charles A. Horner, they essentially destroyed two air bases in southern Iraq by cutting runways and blowing up hardened aircraft shelters.

In the war on terrorism, the RED HORSE units have had a chance to really stretch their legs. The work the units have undertaken for Enduring Freedom has been perhaps their biggest challenge ever.

“Certainly in terms of magnitude, the size of the projects, their duration, these are the most sustained RED HORSE operations” since the 1960s, said Robbins.

Since the United States on Oct. 7, 2001, launched its attack on Taliban forces in Afghanistan, RED HORSE units have gone to a total of 26 sites in the region. At 12 of these bases, the units did actual construction. At 14 they did site surveys or other assessment work.

Some 1,400 RED HORSE personnel, from five different squadrons, have cycled through the Enduring Freedom theater of operations. Specialties most in demand have been those associated with runway work, which includes everything from concrete mixing to airfield lighting installers.

RED HORSE work for Operation Enduring Freedom can be essentially divided into two main categories, according to Air Force officials.

The first is the construction of new air capacity in expectation of future requirements. The construction at al Udeid is a good example of this. Air Force personnel have essentially created a giant new forward operating base in months—one that is the equal of facilities in Saudi Arabia.

Bomb and Build

The second is repair work on existing but decrepit facilities. A perfect example of this is Bagram, the main air base in Afghanistan. Built by the Soviets during their ill-fated Afghan occupation of the 1980s, Bagram suffered considerable damage during the brief allied campaign against the Taliban. RED HORSE was then charged with going in and rebuilding what 500-pound Air Force bombs had torn asunder.

US runways typically feature smooth and continuous concrete surfaces. The Soviet style, however, was to build in concrete slabs. In theory, this makes construction easier. In practice, upkeep becomes a nightmare.

“You have all these joints running laterally and horizontally,” said Robbins. “It is a constant maintenance problem to try to keep the airfield smooth.”

Each 11-by-13-foot concrete slab takes an hour or more to repair. RED HORSE teams—in conjunction with other USAF civil engineering units—repaired or replaced more than 2,500 of them.

“Allied forces had done a really good job of destroying that airfield,” said the top Air Force civil engineer.

At one point during this process, US commanders at Bagram decided the security situation was such that some of the repairs should take place at night, with the RED HORSE members using night vision equipment. Partly for this reason—and partly because it was a good training opportunity—the 200th/201st RED HORSE went out and successfully poured concrete in complete darkness, using only night vision equipment.

“That’s the first time we’ve ever done that, to my knowledge,” said Robbins.

The difficulty of this operation was compounded by the fact that the crew was using a deployable pavement repair system. This mobile concrete machine is designed for rapid repairs and thus produces only limited quantities of concrete quickly. It is a high-performance machine that is sensitive to such variables as the size of stone and quality of sand.

Yet RED HORSE used the deployable system for half their Bagram repairs—running it continuously for three months. In between the slab repairs, the units found time to reconstruct the base Air Force Village, build new showers and laundry facilities, put up several hundred feet of security walls, rewire the air traffic control tower, and pave a basketball court.

Installations from Qatar to Kyrgyzstan have received a similar, full-court-press RED HORSE treatment—all in a region where everything from the climate to the scarcity of local resources makes construction difficult.

“It has been a test unlike any that we have ever experienced,” said Robbins.

In Qatar and other Gulf–side locations, the temperature can hit 120 degrees and humidity about 90 percent. In those conditions, Air Force construction personnel can only work about 30 minutes at a time before they have to take a break, and concrete does not pour well. The ubiquitous sand fouls work and machinery alike.

“Plus,” noted Robbins, “we learned that some of the hardest rock in the world exists over there.”

In the buildup to the 1991 Gulf War, contractor support was plentiful, as the US was operating with Arab allies and staging from some of the wealthiest nations in the Middle East. But Afghanistan and Pakistan are not Saudi Arabia or even Qatar. Much of the challenge to RED HORSE in recent months has come from operating virtually alone.

“In one instance [at an undisclosed location] we found one guy with one dump truck,” recalled Robbins. “He was the sum total of our contractor capability.”

This person performed valiantly in delivering aggregate, added Robbins, and became highly popular with the RED HORSE leadership. Overall, however, this problem represents one of the primary civil engineer lessons learned from the Enduring Freedom operation.

“Assumptions regarding host nation support are not always valid,” said Robbins.

Elsewhere, RED HORSE made extensive use of the Air Force Contract Augmentation Program. AFCAP allowed Air Force planners to go to contractors and simply say they needed a particular piece of equipment at a particular place and time. It was up to the private sector to find the equipment and ship it to the port nearest the location in question.

One reason service logisticians like this approach is that it often results in new, or nearly so, heavy machinery for Air Force use. Most service equivalents are old and in need of replacement.

“This gives us a way ahead,” said Robbins. “More and more we are looking at augmenting Air Force personnel with leased private sector equipment.”

There Were Others

The intensive OEF experience has also taught the Air Force that its reserve RED HORSE units are as capable as their active duty equivalents. And it has reconfirmed the fact that RED HORSE squadrons are only one part of the service’s civil engineering equation.

RED HORSE represents an “incredible capability,” said Robbins. It kicks down the door and readies locations for all that follow. Other services, however, have contributed to this effort in Afghanistan—notably the Seabees. And the majority of Air Force civil engineering personnel are not RED HORSE but members of Prime BEEF combat support units.

Prime BEEF, for Base Engineer Emergency Forces, has deployed to Afghanistan and other Middle East sites in the wake of RED HORSE to pick up maintenance and continued construction at key bases.

At Bagram, for instance, Air Force civil engineers drawn from four different units helped RED HORSE repair concrete slabs and installed a lighting system that allowed the field to go from a covert no-visible-light landing status to overt landings.

“Many are deployed for a long time,” said Robbins. “They are carrying a huge part of this load. It’s a total team effort.”

And that effort is invaluable to the war on terrorism as a whole. Task Force Enduring Look—the war on terror lessons-learned project—has listed the ability to provide base operations support early as key to the allied success.

“There is a tendency to want to put iron down first—those weapons we can use to do harm to the enemy,” Wieners told an Air Force News interviewer earlier last year. “But it is important to find that right balance to ensure your people can survive, so that they can operate. It is a difficult challenge, especially at austere basing, as we saw in Central Asia.”


GAO Upholds Navy Red Air Contract

Tactical Air Support Inc. overcame a protest to win a five-year $106.8 million contract to fly Red Air for the US Navy, beating out the incumbent, which had been flying adversary missions since 1996, and three other firms.

The use of civilian aircraft to fly adversary missions is growing. The Air Force expects to preselect responsible vendors next year, with the ultimate goal of bringing on multiple civilian firms to share the Red Air mission with its own aggressor squadrons.

TacAir, of Reno, Nev., will support the Navy Fighter Weapons School known as TOPGUN and Carrier Air Wing Training with upgraded F-5E/F Advanced Tigers, acquired from the Royal Jordanian Air Force, said Mick Guthals, senior manager of business development.

The award was made six months ago, but Airborne Tactical Advantage Company, which had flown about 50,000 hours of adversary air for the Navy, protested, alleging that TacAir’s F-5s fell short of Navy requirements that its radar integration and small, 21-aircraft fleet posed a “high risk,” and that its price was unrealistic. But GAO denied the protest and the deal is going forward.

ATAC, speaking through a spokesman, declined to comment to Air Force Magazine on Thursday.

The Navy contract required offerers to provide at least four mission-capable aircraft equipped with a radar warning receiver system and mechanically scanned array radar, while also having the ability to carry a tactical combat training system pod. The solicitation also offered “premium flight minutes” for aircraft equipped with active electronically scanned array radars.

Guthals said TacAir expects to fly about 1,700 hours per year and will have five F-5ATs on the ramp at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev., during support periods. But he added the number of aircraft provided “can grow to 10-plus as the sorties increase.”

Naval Air Systems Command found both TacAir and ATAC’s final proposals to be technically “outstanding” with “low risk.” NAVAIR indicated it had “substantial confidence” in ATAC’s past performance, and “neutral confidence” in TacAir’s, according to the protest, but that the evaluated price of ATAC’s final proposal was $257.3 million, more than double that of TacAir’s final proposal.

ATAC, which was founded in 1994 by JD Parker, a 1988 Air Force Academy graduate and veteran of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, is largely considered the “pioneer” of the contract adversary air industry, but competition has grown significantly in recent years. New rivals have entered the market in hopes of winning a piece of the Air Force’s anticipated multi-award contract for adversary air and joint terminal attack controller close air support.

The Air Force program is huge: The service is seeking about 30,000 annual hours of contract adversary air at 12 different USAF bases at locations inside the US, including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as roughly 10,000 hours of JTAC support, according to people familiar with the solicitation.

Final proposals for the Air Force’s CAF Contracted Air Support (CAFCAS) contract were due on Oct. 18 and the service is expected to award multiple indefinite delivery-indefinite quantity contracts in June 2019 with the expectation that the companies will start flying in late 2019-early 2020.

Both TacAir and ATAC submitted proposals to the Air Force, as did Draken International, which is currently flying Red Air at Nellis AFB, Nev., and Top Aces. Others may also have bid.

The Air Force in June awarded Draken a $280 million contract to continue flying adversary air at Nellis AFB, Nev., through December 2023. Draken has been the sole commercial provider of Red Air to the US Air Force since it received its first contract in 2015 to augment USAF’s existing F-16 aggressors. The Nellis contract is intended to be an interim solution until the CAFCAS contract goes into effect.

Draken has been growing its fleet in anticipation of that contract, announcing last year it had acquired 12 South African Atlas Cheetah supersonic fighters, in addition to its fleet of nine Aermacchi MB-339s, 27 MiG-21s, 21 L-159s, 22 F1s, 13 A-4s, five L-39s, and one T-33.

Textron Airborne Solutions, which bought ATAC in 2016, announced in September 2017 it had acquired 63 Mirage F1 aircraft formerly owned by the French Air Force, making it the world’s largest private supersonic air force.

And, Top Aces has a signed purchase agreement for 29 early block F-16s, which had been sold to a partner country through a foreign military sales agreement. Company officials say they plan to start bringing the fourth-generation fighters into the country as soon as the IDIQ contract is awarded.

All of the companies that make up this emerging market say they are constantly looking for new opportunities to grow their fleet.

“It is a fine balance between aircraft required and aircraft possessed,” said Guthals. “Like the services do today, our challenge is to provide sufficient aircraft to match the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps flying hour requirements without excess force structure. This maximizes the Air Force and navy value by not having excess hardware and liveware sitting around and not contributing to the mission.”


32 Terms Only Airmen Will Understand

As the youngest member of the U.S. armed forces, the Air Force gets a lot of flak from other branches, despite having the capacity to (arguably) destroy all life on Earth in 30 minutes. In its relative short history, its Airmen evolved a culture and language all their own.

“Airman Snuffy”

The original Dirtbag Airman, he’s an example Air Force instructors use to train Airmen how not to do the wrong things in hypothetical situations. The difference between the example and the real Airman Snuffy is the real Snuffy is a Medal of Honor recipient. He tried to put out a deadly aircraft fire by pissing on it while simultaneously shooting down Nazi fighter planes.

What the Piss

This is the trademark, go-to phrase said (yelled) by Air Force Military Training Instructors (MTI). From Zero Week until graduation, anytime you forget where you are, you’ll hear this phrase right before you get a reminder. Only MTIs know why they chose this. It could be a tribute to Airman Snuffy.

The Snake Pit

Where Air Force MTIs eat, usually right at the end of the chow line, so every Airman trainee has to walk by to get to their table.

House Mouse

Never to be referred to as such – it is technically the Flight Office Technician, aka the MTI’s assistant. See also: Snitch.

Stress Cards

The most persistent myth about the Air Force. Other branches think we get these during basic training in case we need “to take a moment.” These have never existed and never will, but because of the Air Force’s old six-week basic training length, it sure sounds plausible. If the USAF ever did try this, the ghost of Curtis LeMay would burn the Air Force Secretary’s house down.

Rainbow Flights

Before basic trainees get their first uniform issue (aka “slicksleeves”) at Lackland, they’re usually walking around in the civvies in which they first arrived. In formation, they look like a dirtbag rainbow and probably smell bad because they have been wearing these clothes for 2-4 days.

Reporting Statement

“Sir/Ma’am, Trainee ________ reports as ordered,” the phrase you give an MTI anytime you need to respond to an inquiry.

AF Form 341

Excellence Discrepancy Report – Every Airman in Basic Training and Technical School must carry at least three of these small forms on their person at all times. When you screw up, one will be demanded of you and turned into your training unit. The 341 is an excellent way to introduce Airmen to the primary Air Force disciplinary system – Paperwork. Rumors of this form being used to report excellence are unsubstantiated.

The Nutri-Grain Bar Prank

More advanced basic trainees will sometimes tell newer trainees they can’t eat the Nutri-Grain Bars at breakfast unless they take the bar, slam it on the Snake Pit’s table and shout out what flavor it is, then stand at parade rest until given permission to digest.

Dirtbag Airman (DBA)

The chaff that fell through the cracks — The Dirtbag Airman has no regard for regulations, dress and appearance, customs and courtesies, or even personal hygiene. It shows up late with Starbucks cups and takes the most breaks while doing the least work.

Pull Chocks

Refers to pulling the wedges used to prevent a stationary aircraft from moving while parked on the flightline. Also known as “Let’s go” or “Let’s get out of here,” in Air Force parlance, because you have to pull the chocks before the plane can leave the base.

The Air Force does not have Chow Halls or Mess Tents. It has Dining Facilities (or DFACs). Referring to the building in which Airmen who do not have the time to go to the BX Food Court or Burger King as a “Chow Hall” actually offends senior enlisted Food Service Craftsmen.

A USAF Weapons Loader. He or she sometimes drives a “Jammer.”

Notes made by USAF pilots and left for maintenance crews to fix. Because aircraft maintainers are, for the most part, funny, sometimes the crews’ responses are worth compiling.

Not an actual hunk of meat. A Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force is a rapidly deployable, specialized civil engineer unit. If you’re deployed in an austere location, you want them to be your best friends.

BRRRRRRRRRRRRT

The sound an A-10 Thunderbolt II aka “Warthog” makes when projecting freedom.

Means “Below the Zone” promotion from E-3 to E-4, or getting that extra stripe before your regular time in service promotion. Squadrons sometimes groom Airmen for this.

This is the regulation for Air Force Dress and Appearance Standards, and is usually the only Air Force Instruction most Airmen actually know, can remember when asked, or have ever read.

The Gauntlet – aka “Tacking On”

Enlisted Air Force personnel wear their rank on the sleeves of their ABUs. When they are promoted, their new rank is “tacked on.” The Airman’s peers stand in two lines, the new rank patches are pinned to the Airman’s uniform, and the promotee walks down the line as his coworkers punch them as hard as possible in the rank.

Photo: 1st Lt. Nathan Wallin/USAF

Whole-Airman Concept

An enlisted performance review system designed to keep you from earning a perfect rating (and ultimately a BTZ promotion) despite being the best performer in your unit at your actual job function, because you didn’t volunteer to pick up trash at the squadron commander’s mandatory fun burger burn.

FOD is Foreign Object Debris, anything on the flightline that doesn’t belong there and could damage the aircraft. Entire units sometimes walk shoulder to shoulder picking up whatever FOD they find. Airmen in non-flightline roles will sometimes be assigned to augment FOD walks.

First Shirt or “Shirt”

The unit First Sergeant. There are a lot of theories as to why, but there’s no real consensus.

Operation Golden Flow

Being “randomly selected” to have someone watch you pee for drug use testing.

Why Not Minot?

Universally regarded as the most unpleasant duty station due to its extreme remoteness, Minot Air Force Base’s staff use this phrase to laugh at their situation because otherwise the terrorists win. The entire Air Force recognizes this phrase and it’s reply: Freezin’s the reason! In the SAC days, they would say “there’s a woman behind every tree!” There were no trees.

Jet fuel. Smells like freedom.

Prop Wash and Flight Line

A fool’s errand given to new enlisted airmen, similar to a snipe hunt or the Army’s “box of grid squares.”

Photo Credit: US Air Force

The Wing-level Commander — usually the base commander — who is always 0-6 or above. The highest ranking person on the base, though some bases have multiple wings.

Breaking Red

Walking outside the designated personnel areas (marked in red) on the flightline or not using designated entry and exit control areas. Breaking Red will result in youtr face pressed to the ground with a boot on your back and an M-16 pointed at your neck (aka Eating Ramp). Security Forces love it when people do this.

Liquid oxygen used in aircraft oxygen systems, run by fuels management techs. Sometimes used to cool beer.

Every career field and unit has its own slang, motto, and/or culture. IYAAYAS is the most widely-known and is the official rally cry of the USAF Munitions Specialists and means “If You Ain’t Ammo, You Ain’t Shit.” Others include “Who the hell, POL” (fuels) and “No Comm, No Bomb” (Communications).

Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley ReedUS Army Staff Sgt. Scott Graham, a medic with the 214th Aviation Regiment (Air Ambulance), carries a litter and a backboard from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to extract a simulated patient during a medical evacuation mission July 31, 2012, at Camp Atterbury, Ind., as part of Vibrant Response 13. Vibrant Response is a U.S. Northern Command-sponsored field training exercise for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive consequence management forces designed to improve their ability to respond to catastrophic incidents.

Aerial Porters who rig cargo, parachutes, prepare airdrops and load/unload aircraft are technically “Air Transportation Specialists” but are referred to as Port Dawgs.

Derivative of “Fool Proof,” this is how Airmen lord our higher ASVAB score requirements over the Army. Every time a grunt says “Chair Force,” an Air Force PJ gains one of their IQ points.

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Code Red in “A Few Good Men”

When many people hear the term "code red," they immediately think of the popular 1992 movie A Few Good Men. In order to understand what the term meant in the film, we'll need to look at it in the context of the overall plot. The movie was based on a real-life incident that took place in 1986 at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in which 10 Marines were court-martialed for hazing a fellow Marine.

In the movie’s version of the events, the hazing incident becomes even more serious when it results in the death of a Marine named William Santiago. A character named Lt. Commander Jo Galloway (Demi Moore) suspects that the officer's death was the result of a "code red" order given by a character named Colonel Jessup (Jack Nicholson).

In the context of A Few Good Men, a "code red" refers to a type of illegal order that results in the hazing or death of a marine by his fellow officers. As the film progresses, the case is ultimately assigned to Lt. Dan Kaffee (Tom Cruise), a lawyer who prefers to quietly plead his cases. At Galloway's urging, however, Kaffee finally uncovers whether or not Jessup gave the code red order.

The truth ultimately comes out in an explosive scene in which Jessup exclaims his famous line, "You can't handle the truth!" A few lines later, the exchange continues:

LT JG Kaffee: Did you order the Code Red?

LT JG Kaffee: Did you order the Code Red?

Col. Jessup: You’re G** d*** right I did!


US Air Force probes targeted malware attack, blames. er, the US Navy? What?

The US Air Force has opened an investigation into a "malware" infection – which it is blaming on lawyers employed by the US Navy who are working on a war crimes case.

The bizarre case hinges around an alleged attempt by a US Navy prosecutor to plant malware on the devices of US Air Force lawyers defending a US Navy SEAL over war crimes charges from his time commanding a small unit in Afghanistan.

Like the UK, US military lawyers can work on cases involving people from outside their own branch of the armed forces.

The US Air Force Times, an independent publication, quoted from a memo written by Captain David Wilson, a senior Navy defence lawyer, referring to "malware" found on the machine of a USAF lawyer he was working alongside. This was later described as having been written to gain "full access to his computer and all files on his computer".

"In fact, I've learned that the Air Force is treating this malware as a cyber-intrusion on their network and have seized the Air Force Individual Military Counsel's computer and phone for review," he wrote.

The malware was further described as "tracking software".

Similar malware was sent to the editor of sister publication the US Navy Times, USAF Times reported. The editor had written a number of detailed articles about the ongoing trial, leading USN prosecutors to believe someone was leaking documents – in breach of a court order. USAF Times speculated that the malware was sent in the hope of identifying potential sources for those leaks.

The paper claimed the email had "contained hidden computer coding designed to extract the IP address of the Navy Times computer network and to send that information back to a server located in San Diego".

If unauthorised, such behaviour would be a clear criminal offence under American law.

The intentional, weaponised use of malware by state agencies is something that is, by law and custom, restricted to being used against actual criminals and not journalists. While aggressive and unsupervised law enforcement bodies across the world do abuse their powers, break the law and spy on journalists, doing so with email malware appears to be a new one. ®

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Indian IT Minister angry that Twitter broke local law by following US law

The Indian Government’s dispute with Twitter took a new turn over the weekend with IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad accusing the micro-blogging service of breaking Indian law by following US law.

Shankar made the argument that Twitter was again flouting Indian law after his account was briefly locked when the avian network acted on a complaint about copyrighted material appearing in the Minister’s feed.

Linus Torvalds launches Linux 5.13 after just seven release candidates

Linus Torvalds has released version 5.13 of the Linux kernel after a very smooth development process that required just seven release candidates.

“So we had quite the calm week since rc7, and I see no reason to delay 5.13,” wrote the Linux maintainer-in-chief in his weekly State of the Kernel post.

Torvalds rated the new release as “fairly large”.

Tesla shows off the AI supercomputer training what it hopes will one day be an actual self-driving car

In Brief If you're wondering what it takes to develop a self-driving car, know that Tesla is using a 1.8-exaFLOP AI supercomputer packed with 5,760 GPUs that train neural networks it hopes one day will power autonomous vehicles.

The machine was described by the automaker's senior director of AI, Andrej Karpathy, during an online academic computer vision conference this week. It is used to develop Tesla's super-cruise-control system Autopilot, and also what could be a fully self-driving system when finished. Tesla has been chasing the autonomous vehicle dream for years the tech has so far proved elusive.

“This is a really incredible supercomputer,” Karpathy said. “I actually believe that in terms of FLOPS, this is roughly the number five supercomputer in the world."

Green MSP calls on Scottish government to stop spending £4.7m a year with AWS after Amazon 'dumping' allegations

A leading Green MSP has called for the Scottish government to sever all ties with Amazon – including the £4.7m a year it spends on AWS – following a report alleging the e-tailer dumps thousands of unsold items each week.

Lorna Slater, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, raised the issue with Nicola Sturgeon on Thursday during First Minister’s Questions (FMQs).

She referred the First Minister to the ITV report featuring undercover film from Amazon’s Dunfermline hub, which claimed that thousands of unsold items – many still in their original wrapping – were dumped or destroyed rather than recycled or given away to charity.

Wish you could play tabletop Dungeons & Dragons but have no friends? Solasta: Crown of the Magister offers a solution

The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Before we get into it, quick story: I wasn't sure if I'd make this deadline because I came back from holiday to find my PC had acquired a fondness for crashing then rebooting anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour into playing something.

I was, as you can probably imagine with a rig that cost more than my monthly salary, utterly horrified. Event Viewer was throwing volmgr 161 (inability to create dump files) then Kernel-Power 41 (Windows hasn't the foggiest why it rebooted), no BSOD. The errors didn't point to a precise problem so I spent every second I wasn't editing Register copy experimenting, trying to exhaust all avenues to prevent hauling the computer off to someone much better at this stuff than me.

Faulty power supply? It's brand new. All the games I've tried are installed on the second SSD, could it be a corrupt disk? Also brand new but not inconceivable. As a last resort, and holding out hope for a software-based solution, I stripped out every display driver and let Windows sort itself out. Problem solved. However, this wasn't before I reseated the GPU and RAM – because… I don't even know. I was getting desperate. As I gently, and I really do mean gently, placed the stupid glass panel from the side of my tower onto the tiled kitchen floor, it exploded into hundreds of thousands of tiny shards. Shitsnacks.

SolarWinds backdoor gang pwns Microsoft support agent to turn sights on customers

In brief The SolarWinds backdoor gang last month infiltrated Microsoft's support desk via a phishing attack to obtain information to use in cyber-attacks on some of the Windows giant's own customers, it was reported.

Redmond said it traced the intrusion to a member of a team it calls Nobelium, the suspected Kremlin-run crew that used tainted SolarWinds Orion updates to snoop on organizations around the world. Russia insists it had nothing to do with that supply-chain attack. And SolarWinds told us this latest caper did not involve its products.

It appears Microsoft was investigating a wider phishing campaign orchestrated by Nobelium when it discovered one of its own support agents had been hooked by the gang, handing the miscreants access to internal tools. That worker could view customers' contact information, lists of their cloud subscriptions, and other records.

Huawei dev flamed for 'useless' Linux kernel code contributions

Updated Last week, Linux kernel contributor Qu Wenruo scolded another code donor, Zhen Lei, for wasting kernel maintainers' time with unnecessary patches.

In a post to Zhen Lei and the rest of the Linux kernel mailing list, Wenruo said he recently found a patch removing a debug out-of-memory error message from a selftest used by btrfs, a file system supported by the Linux kernel.

"It's nothing special, some small cleanup work from some kernel newbie," wrote Wenruo. "But the mail address makes me cautious, '@huawei.com'."

Jailed for seven years: Cyber-crook who broke into Big Biz to steal bank card info for FIN7 super-gang

An expert penetration tester working for the notorious cyber-crime gang FIN7 was sent down for seven years on Friday and told to cough up $2.5m for breaking into corporate computer systems.

Andrii Kolpakov, 33, a Ukrainian national, was cuffed by authorities in Lepe, Spain, in 2018, and extradited to the US in 2019. He was a high-ranking member of the crew, and served as its penetration tester from 2016 to 2018, looking for ways to exploit security vulnerabilities in businesses.

FIN7 injected malware into the networks of thousands of American food, hospitality, and gaming chains to steal customers' financial details. Millions of credit and debit card numbers were scraped and later sold to other miscreants online, who went on spending sprees.

AWS launches BugBust contest: Help fix a $100m problem for a $12 tshirt

AWS has set up a competition for its customers' developers to find and fix one million bugs.

AWS CTO Werner Vogels on Friday introduced BugBust, which he described as "the world's largest bug bashing challenge."

"Eliminate software errors and save millions of dollars using Amazon CodeGuru, and win prizes and glory in the first annual AWS BugBust Challenge," he declared. "Let the bug busting begin."

Facebook CEO puts picture of himself wearing too much sunscreen on new board

Uncanny Valley-dwelling Facebook founderbot Mark Zuckerberg has revealed pictures of a new surfboard he has had custom-made, resplendent with a cartoon picture of him surfing while wearing too much sunscreen.

The image on the board, which may be the result of the Facebook CEO testing some experimental new self-deprecation circuits, celebrates an incident last year when he was photographed surfing in Hawaii wearing so much sunscreen that he resembled a cartoon mime.

Happy with your existing Windows 10 setup? Good, because Windows 11 could turn its nose up at your CPU

Windows 11 won't land until nearer the end of the year and when it does users will only get a supported sample of the OS if they have relatively new hardware.

Although the latest version of Windows 10 (21H1) will go all the way back to the fifth generation of Intel's chippery, Windows 11 is a good deal more choosy and starts at the eighth generation.

The eighth generation of Intel processors, codenamed Coffee Lake, turned up in 2017.


The Condon report: Were its findings a foregone conclusion?

Between 1966 and 1968, the government called for another, lengthier scientific inquiry into Project Blue Book led by physicist Edward U. Condon. Though the CIA had some involvement with the Condon Committee, it was commissioned by the U.S. Air Force and conducted by scientists at the University of Colorado, and its report was immediately available to the public. Like the Robertson panel, it concluded UFOs posed no threat to the U.S., and that most sightings could be easily explained. In addition, it suggested that the Air Force end Project Blue Book’s investigations into UFOs—which it did in 1969.

Many people who study UFO sightings have suggested that the government never really allowed the Robertson panel, the Condon Committee or even Project Blue Book to review the most sensitive UFO sightings, incidents that may have contained classified information. One of the main pieces of evidence for this is a 1969 memo signed by Brigadier General Carroll H. Bolender suggesting the Air Force hadn’t shared all UFO sightings with Project Blue Book and would continue to investigate sightings that could present a national security threat after the project ended. (Today, the Navy tracks sightings of “unidentified aerial phenomena,” or UAPs.).

Critics have also suggested that the real goal of the Robertson panel, the Condon Committee and/or Project Blue Book was never to identify what was really going on with UFO sightings, but simply to assuage public concern about them.

If true, this would not necessarily mean the government had information about extraterrestrials it wanted to conceal. In some cases, the government may have been trying to cover up its own activities. Since Project Blue Book’s end, the CIA has admitted that more than half of the UFO reports the government received in the late 1950s and into the �s were related to secret U-2 and OXCART spy flights by the U.S. government.

Because the government didn’t want the public to know about these clandestine flights, members of Project Blue Book would often 𠇎xplain away such sightings by linking them to natural phenomena such as ice crystals and temperature inversions,” writes Gerald K. Haines, a historian for the CIA’s National Reconnaissance Office. In 2014, the CIA smugly tweeted about the ruse: “Remember reports of unusual activity in the skies in the �s? That was us.”


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