Armor & Mobility

FEB 2017

Military magazines in the United States and Canada, covering Armor and Mobility, focuses on tactical vehicles, C4ISR, Special Operations Forces, latest soldier equipment, shelters, and key DoD programs

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Real-World Realization In 1980, the special operations community recognized there was a need for a formalized FARP program after the failed Iran hostage rescue mission, better known as Operation Eagle Claw. "The FARP program was USSOCOM's solution to a need identified during the Iran hostage rescue attempt," said Master Sgt. James Albanesi, FARP team chief with the 1st SOLRS. "That [mission] made it very clear there was a need for a highly efficient means of transferring fuel from aircraft to aircraft in a hostile environment under the cover of night." Operation Eagle Claw was a failed attempt to end the Iran hostage crisis which began Nov. 4, 1979, when Iranian militant students took 66 Americans hostage at the American Embassy in Tehran, Iran. Ultimately, the April 24, 1980 mission failed because of inexperience with long flights during night time operations, refueling delays caused by desert conditions, and aircraft mechanical issues. Further ill fortune was encountered after the mission was cancelled when a helicopter collided with a tanker aircraft during departure, causing a fire to spread to other aircraft in the area, and killing eight men. "POL Airmen and MC-130 aircrew need to go through extensive training due to the complexity of conducting FARP in austere conditions at night, as illustrated by the loss of life [during Operation Eagle Claw]," Klohr said. "The repercussions of not being able to conduct a successful FARP operation in 1980 is why we have AFSOC today. The Airmen who conduct this mission truly exemplify one of the five SOF truths, 'Humans are more important than hardware.'" Bringing Capability to Application Today, Hurlburt Field is one of a select number of bases around the world that conducts FARP missions. Hurlburt is also home to the program's training school. POL Airmen of any rank who have completed upgrade training can volunteer to receive FARP training. The school house annually hosts 12 classes that qualifies an average of 36 FARP Airmen and 36 aircrew. Before attending school, POL Airmen must pass a class III flight physical assessment and physiological training. They must also complete training in life support, intelligence, night vision goggles, ground evacuation and ground crew chemical warfare. "Because we're flying with aircrew, Airmen go through flight physical assessments and physiological training to know how their body adjusts to decompressions and lack of oxygen," Albanesi said. "The additional training is intended to ensure Airmen can instantaneously respond if there is a catastrophe and carry forward with the mission." After qualifying in these areas, Airmen attend the training school to complete Phase I, II and III FARP classes to learn safety requirements, conduct simulated hands-on training and practice FARP operations. Additional training includes the Air Force Combat and Water Survival School at Fairchild AFB, Washington. Altogether, it takes several months for POL Airmen to complete FARP training. "FARP is truly a specialized skill set similar to explosive ordnance disposal and security forces," Klohr said. "Only the very best in the fuels community become FARP members because we have a no-fail mission that is successful due to the deliberate approach and commitment we make to advanced tactical training." Once training is complete, Airmen are awarded the 035 FARP special experience identifier code, which classifies them as FARP trained personnel. As of Jan. 18, 2017, less than 2 percent of fuels personnel world-wide are active fully-qualified FARP Airmen. Staff Sgt. Michael Dunning, the FARP program manager for the 1st SOLRS, particularly recalls a 12-to-14-hour, two-day training session consisting of extending fuel hoses, pressurizing them, squeegeeing them and reconfiguring the hoses for redeployment. Squeegeeing is a process of rapidly evacuating fuel hoses by pulling a squeegee, a metal tool with two rolling pin like devices, to force fuel manually from the hoses back into the tanker aircraft. "Considering all of the training involved in the entire process, I felt extremely relieved and gratified to complete the FARP training," Dunning said. "However, our training is continuous and ever-evolving to remain relevant to the Air Force Special Operations Command mission; this allows us to remain a current, cutting edge capability for the Air Force." For Dunning, becoming FARP qualified was worth the rigorous training as it gave him an opportunity to fulfill a different mission in his career field. He has been able to learn new, advanced skills necessary for special operations deployed contingencies. Answering a Critical Need As the most deployed wing in the United States Air Force, the 1st Special Operation Wing's mission is to execute global special Air Commandos of the 1st Special Operations Wing (SOW), Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), represent a fueling lifeline for clandestine operations critical to U.S. national security. By Senior Airman Andrea Posey 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs www.tacticaldefensemedia.com Armor & Mobility | February 2017 | 17

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