Sunday, May 13, 2018

Group 2 Leadership Training: SLS, CLC and UCC at Oakland Airport

By 1st Lt Karin Hollerbach, photos by 2d Lt Alexei Roudnev, except as noted

Last weekend, Group 2 held the Squadron Leadership School (SLS), the Corporate Learning Course (CLC), and the Unit Commanders’ Course (UCC). The event was hosted by Squadron 188 at OAK airport. 1st Lt Cole Ettingoff, Group 2’s Professional Development Officer, served as Project Officer.

Mingling before class, downstairs at Squadron 188's home at KOAK.
Capt Hayes (L) and Lt Ettingoff (R) addressing students from all
of the weekend's courses, before beginning class.
We had a total of 16 students in SLS, 15 students in CLC, and 7 students in UCC from across Groups 2 and 5.  There were 13 instructors between the three courses including Squadron Commanders and Deputies, past and present Group Commanders and Deputies, Wing Staff, and the Wing Commander.

Having previously taken the SLS, this time I took the CLC.

Many thanks to everyone who donated time to help teach and/or organize this weekend’s activities. Instructors for the CLC included:
  • Lt Col Andrew Peters, CAWG Director of Professional Development – North
  • Lt Col Elsie Lam, Squadron 10
  • Maj Kathy Brown, Squadron 188
  • Maj Chris Suter, Squadron 44 
  • Maj Jacqueline Tubis, Squadron 10 
  • Maj Paul Kubiak, Squadron 44  
  • Capt David Hartman, Squadron 80
  • Students in the SLS. 
  • Capt Steven Angus, Squadron 36
  • 1st Lt Cole Ettingoff, Squadron 188

I found the CLC covered fairly interesting topics. Yes, there was definitely a safety hazard due to concerns about death by PowerPoint. However, it was a nice reminder of some topics that I don’t normally think about in my everyday CAP life – such as the structure of the organization, how strategic decisions get made and communicated out to members, how our “home” units (Squadrons, for most of us, Groups or higher level units for some) fit into the overall structure. We also had some lively discussions about planning and decision-making, as well as mentoring.

Lt Ettingoff teaching at the CLC.
The instructors did their best to liven up the provided lecture slides and did a nice job of engaging us in discussion, even some interactive exercises. Some of the exercises needed a little creative “updating” to bring them into the year 2018: One included some discussion and decision-making about what to do with a $500 grant.  In the face of:
  • The corporate van needing new tires,
  • The roof leaking,
  • The aircraft needing a 100-hour inspection,
  • And other items,

$500 just doesn’t seem to go very far.  In our discussion group, we decided to increase our grant by a bit…   if only it were that easy in real life!

Participants in the CLC.
In another teamwork game to apply clues to assign resources (players) to a problem (baseball team), we had fun discussing and solving the problem in small teams.  Unfortunately, I know virtually nothing about baseball and had to have my teammates explain to me about infielders and catchers and …  before I could really be helpful.

Squadron 188 participants in the CLC included:
  • Capt Jordan Hayes (student)
  • 1st Lt Karin Hollerbach (student)
  • 1st Lt Eric Choate (student)
  • 1st Lt Kevin Fall (student)
  • 1st Lt Cole Ettingoff (instructor)
  • 2d Lt Nikolay Zherebnenkov (student)

Squadron 188 participants in the SLS included:
Col Ferguson speaking to some of the weekend's participants on Sunday.
Photo by Lt Col Peters. 
  • 1st Lt Chris Devine

Finally, special thanks to Col Alan Ferguson, who visited with each of the 3 classes, opened himself up to Q&A, and gave us all our graduation certificates.

Friday, May 4, 2018

CAWG Responds as a Major (Simulated!) Earthquake Hits the Bay Area

By 1st Lt Karin Hollerbach, photos by 2d Lt Alexei Roudnev 

Last weekend, California Wing (CAWG) held its annual Wing Led Exercise, with the Incident Command Post (ICP) this year at Livermore airport (LVK).

CAP aircraft at LVK airport, with an ominous looking sky. 
This year’s WLE was led by Incident Commander (IC) Maj Charles Christian. The theme was CAWG’s response to a simulated major earthquake in the Bay Area.  Exercise injects were provided in real time by Exercise Controllers ("Black Hats"), and CAWG had to respond in real time to the requests (injects) from a number of different agencies for a variety of disaster related tasks.

Participants in the exercise represented all of CAWG’s Groups and many squadrons from throughout California (as well as Pacific Region). Well over 100 members volunteered their time during the weeks prior to the exercise and in the days in which the actual sorties were flown / driven / hiked.

Given the earthquake scenario, most of the tasking was disaster relief, i.e., airborne (and ground-based) photography, related. In total, the WLE accomplished 22 AP sorties, resulting in 337 photos provided to customers; 2 ground sorties; and 2 communications relays.

Unlike in our earlier sortie, this aircrew was able to launch from CCR!
I got a firsthand view from both the ground and the air, flying in multiple air sorties throughout the week, serving both as Airborne Photographer (AP) and as AP skills evaluator (AP SET).

My sorties included a variety of tasking types, including manually acquiring photos using the Nikon cameras both from on the ground (I’ll bet the controllers in the Monterey control tower wondered why I was out on the ramp, taking photos of them, ostensibly to document whether or not there was any damage to the control tower during the (simulated) earthquake) and from in the air. Airborne shots included oblique views of targets, shot at a 45 deg angle, and nadir views, shot straight down from right over the target and requiring a great deal of coordination between the AP and the Mission Pilot. The sorties also included strip imaging using the Garmin VIRB cameras, in which we flew over target regions, shooting images at regularly spaced (5 second) intervals, with overlap between adjacent images for complete coverage of the target area.
Flight planning at CCR, including Squadron 188 members,
2d Lt Roudnev (L) and Maj Ironfield (C).

This is what an AP does in-flight. 
From an AP’s perspective, challenges in this WLE included weather (even small amounts of turbulence makes photography challenging, as does an overcast layer), technical difficulties with the cameras and/or the GPS measuring equipment that provides critical metadata for the images, and Black Hat injects. Injects included things like finding out that we can’t depart from our planned airport (CCR) at all – after completing our preflight – and having to relocate by car to a different airport (SAC); then finding out that the aircraft at that airport didn’t have the required mounts for one of the cameras; and having to solve that problem in real time, with the help of the aircraft maintenance shop there.

This is what an AP does after a sortie (Lt Hollerbach). 
In addition to air and ground personnel and base staff were the many other members who were available and ready to respond but were not called upon to do so.  Many thanks, for example, to the Southern California based members who responded and who ended up not flying in the exercise – apparently, one of the injects was that all aircraft in Southern California were grounded.

Squadron 188 members who participated included:

  • Lt Col Juan Tinnirello – PIO 
  • Lt Col Don Jones - MO
  • Maj Steven DeFord - OSC
  • Maj Kathy Brown – AOBD
  • Maj Jeff Ironfield - PSC, MP
  • Maj Mark Fridell - MSA 
  • Maj Georgios Michelogiannakis - PSC-T
  • Capt Jordan Hayes – UDF, MRO (with HF radios)
  • Capt John Stevulak – LSC-T
  • Capt Don Eichelberger - IPU
  • 1st Lt Eric Choate – AOBD-T
  • 1st Lt Karin Hollerbach - AP
  • 1st Lt Robert Kraus – MP 
  • 2d Lt Nikolay Zherebnenkov - MSA
  • 2d Lt Sergio Mello  
  • 2d Lt Alexei Roudnev- MO 
  • 2d Lt Sharma Vaibhav
  • 2d Lt Antonio Fiorenza - MSA 
  • SM Chuck Towns
  • SM Clarence Binninger