Pokemon Go Craze Reaches Osan Airbase

If you are on Osan AB and see random people congregating and looking into their smartphones at certain locations this may be why:

Pokemon Go recently launched in South Korea, and the post office at Osan Air Base is one of the many Pokestops available to servicemembers there.

Serra said it’s not bad exercise either, but don’t expect the local sergeant major to cancel physical training anytime soon.

A quick stroll around Osan Air Base reveals Pokestops at the post office, Turumi Lodge and the officer’s club. Players who reach level 5 can challenge a level-7 gym at the Tuskegee Airman statue.

Military officials caution that common sense and military regulations still apply.

Bob McElroy, a spokesman for Camp Humphreys, said servicemembers are free to play across base but need to refrain from using the game where operational security or sensitivity is a concern.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: Secretary Mattis Arrives at Osan AB

An E-4 carrying the U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis lands at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Feb. 2, 2017. The visit, which is Mattis’ first official visit to a foreign country as secretary of defense, highlighted the common traits and strengths shared by the U.S. and #ROK governments, including the commitment to bi-lateral cooperation in keeping regional safety and stability in check. #SecDef (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Steffen)  [USFK Facebook Site]

F-16 Pilot Ejects After Making Emergency Landing at Osan Airbase

Fortunately it appears no one was seriously hurt from this emergency landing at Osan AB:

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A U.S. pilot escaped from a fighter jet after making an emergency landing during an aerial combat exercise, the United States Forces Korea (USFK) said Saturday.

The USFK said a pilot of F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron successfully escaped from his jet after landing at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul. The incident occurred at approximately 5 p.m.

The USFK said emergency teams have reached the pilot with authorities trying to determine the cause of the incident.  [Yonhap]

Here is the press release from Osan Airbase that shows that the pilot actually ejected from the aircraft while on the ground:

After landing from a training mission, a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot ejected from an F-16 Fighting Falcon

assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron at approximately 5 p.m.

The pilot was taken to the 51st Medical Group clinic and was listed in good condition.

“We are relieved that our Mustang pilot ejected safely, and is now in the good hands of our medical team,”

said Col. Andrew Hansen, 51st Fighter Wing commander. “We are currently focused on thoroughly

investigating the cause of this incident in order to minimize the chances of it happening again in the future.”

A board of officers will investigate the accident as part of a safety investigation board.  [Osan AB]

B-1 Bomber Lands for the First Time In 20 Years In South Korea

It looks like the US military is trying to find different ways to respond to North Korean provocations other than simply flying over the peninsula:

Two U.S. Air Force B-1B strategic bombers this week made the closest-ever flight to North Korea to warn the communist country against any further provocations, the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) said Thursday.

North Korea conducted its fifth underground nuclear test on Sept. 9, despite international condemnations and sanctions imposed after the previous nuke detonation in January. The latest provocation came on the heels of the launch of three ballistic missiles four days earlier.

One of the two B-1B Lancers landed on Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, after flying over the skies of South Korea on Wednesday. The other returned to Andersen Air Base in Guam the same day.

“It was the first time a Lancer landed on the Korean Peninsula in 20 years (since 1996),” the USPACOM’s website showed.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Maj. Gen. Bergeson Takes Command of 7th Air Force at Osan Airbase

The 7th Air Force at Osan AB has a new commander:

Gen. Vincent Brooks (L), commander of United States Forces Korea, hands over the flag of the 7th Air Force to Lt. Gen. Thomas Bergeson, new deputy commander of U.S. Forces Korea and the 7th Air Force commander, during a ceremony at Osan Air Base, south of Seoul, on July 8, 2016, to mark Bergeson`s inauguration. (Yonhap)

A new deputy chief of United States Forces Korea (USFK) took command on Friday, vowing to put more effort into enhancing the alliance between the U.S. and South Korea so as to forge an “ever stronger” partnership, the U.S. military said.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Thomas Bergeson took office as the deputy commander of the United Nations Command and the USFK, replacing Lt. Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy in the ceremony held at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, the USFK’s Seventh Air Force said in a statement.

With the new position, Bergeson also serves as the commanding general of the Seventh Air Force, as well as the air commander of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command.

“I look forward to enhancing the capabilities of our team and transforming the alliance into an ever stronger partnership,” Bergeson said.

He stressed the role of South Korea as a “key contributor” to regional peace.

“We will continue to refocus our training and exercises in order to maximize our combat capability and enhance our readiness to ‘fight tonight.'”

His inauguration came at a critical time when Seoul and Washington are deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), an advanced U.S. missile defense system, on South Korean soil.

If THAAD is deployed with the USFK, the chief commander of the Seventh Air Force will effectively be in charge of controlling the THAAD unit on behalf of the USFK commander, according to a South Korean military official.

Bergeson served as the director at the Pentagon’s legislative liaison for the U.S. Air Force secretary. He is an F-15 and F-22 pilot who has a more than 3,100 hours of flight time under his belt, the U.S. military said.

O’Shaughnessy will assume command of the Pacific Air Force at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, it also said.  [Yonhap]

Lieutenant General O’Shaughnessy in my opinion was a great commander for 7th Air Force and will do great things at PACAF as well.

Staff Sergeant Dies from Injuries After Helping Rescue Family from Fire Outside Osan AB

Sadly one of the USFK servicemembers who helped rescue a family in Songtan from a building fire has passed away from an injury she received during the rescue:

Staff Sgt. Cierra Rogers died May 20, 2016 in Florida from injuries she sustained in April while rescuing a family from a burning building near Osan Air Base, South Korea.

The 731st Air Mobility Squadron at Osan Air Base has honored an airman who died from injuries sustained while helping save a family from a burning building.

Staff Sgt. Cierra Rogers died May 20 shortly after arriving at her follow-on duty station in Florida. She was 26 years old. Rogers, who was credited with being the first airman to arrive at the scene, was hospitalized in the days following the April 29 fire in South Korea’s Songtan district and required surgery.  (……..)

“This beauty was in the hospital when everyone was being interviewed,” friend Kris Murray wrote in a tribute post on Facebook. “[Cierra] remained calm and told the mom how to breathe in the smoke, then convinced the mom to throw her three babies out the window to safety where firefighters and a few airman and soldiers waited to catch them. Cierra got very hurt in the process while sliding down some wires and kicking a window in.”  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but this article from the Osan AB public affairs office does describe Staff Sergeant Rogers’ action during the fire and how she sustained the injury:

taff Sgt. Cierra Rogers, 731st Air Mobility Squadron administrative assistant, was among the five individuals trapped inside the apartment. When they began to smell smoke and noticed a fire broke out, she reacted quickly to help the mother and her children get out the building.

Rogers explained that after realizing they could not go through the main doors, she kicked through one of the windows leading to the apartment’s patio, which provided the only means of escape from the smoke and growing flames.

“From then I made a decision because you can easily die from choking on smoke,” said Rogers.

Despite the deep laceration she suffered from kicking through the glass, Rogers continued to push forward to get herself and the family closer to safety.

She looked down on the alley below. She attempted to scale down the building using wires near the patio. A few steps down she slid down the wire, falling 15 feet to the ground.

Several service members quickly rushed to her side to provide self aid buddy care until first responders arrived.  [Osan PAO]

You can read more at the link, but condolences to her friends and family for their loss.

Is There A Problem With Having Security Cameras at Osan Airbase’s Dorms?

That is what the popular Air Force blog JQ Public believes:

Last year, commanders at Osan Air Base in Korea decided to install high-definition, 24/7 surveillance cameras in the common areas of dormitories housing some 3,000 airmen. The rationale stated at the time was, generically, the safety of those airmen. Not litigated at the time was whether the cost of the new capability would be offset by the marginal gain in safety, but such debates are rarely entertained in such an authoritarian system. Ideas are presumed valid, good, and lawful the instant they gain command sponsorship.

Fast forward a year and the system has predictably loosed from its “safety” moorings and morphed into a tool for the control and criminalization of the base’s junior airmen. Over the past few weeks, we’ve received several reports that commanders are not using video footage merely to aid in criminal investigations after a report of wrongdoing, but are proactively reviewing all footage to scan for unreported wrongdoing.

For many, the new policy feels like pre-emptive criminalization — demonstrating that the chain of command is not genuinely concerned about safety or well-being so much as it cares about nailing airmen for innocuous or minor transgressions that would normally fall well below the threshold of official notice.  [JQ Public Blog]

You can read much more at the link and it is an interesting debate.  However, overall I like the cameras in regards to being a tool that can be used to collect evidence if a crime in the dorms was to occur.  However, I don’t think the cameras should be used as a substitute for leadership presence in the dorms.  Instead reviewing hours of video tape leaders should instead be walking in the dorms and communicating with their troops instead.

US Deploys Additional Patriot Battery To South Korea, is THAAD Next?

It is interesting that you don’t hear the Chinese or Russians complaining about the deployment of this Patriot battery to South Korea like you have about the THAAD battery when both systems have no capability to shoot down their ICBMs.  It will also be interesting to see how long it will take before a THAAD battery is deployed to South Korea as well:

 

The United States temporarily deployed an additional Patriot missile battery in South Korea in response to North Korea’s nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch, ahead of talks next week to set up an even more sophisticated U.S. missile defense in a move that has worried China and Russia.

The new tough stance follows South Korea’s decision to shut down an inter-Korean factory park that had been the rival Koreas’ last major symbol of cooperation, but that Seoul said had been used by North Korea to fund its nuclear and missile programs. North Korea responded by deporting South Korean citizens, seizing South Korean assets and vowing to militarize the park.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.