Thursday, April 24, 2014

Obama: U.S. Treaty Commitment to Japan is “Absolute”



By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2014 – President Barack Obama, making the first state visit by an American president to Japan in nearly two decades, made clear today the United States would be obligated to come to Japan’s defense in any confrontation with China over islands both nations claim in the East China Sea.

During a joint press conference in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Obama said treaty obligations to defend Japan would apply if hostilities broke out between Japan and China over the disputed islands known in Japan as the Senkaku and as the Diaoyu in China.

“Let me reiterate that our treaty commitment to Japan’s security is absolute, and Article 5 covers all territories under Japan’s administration, including the Senkaku islands,” said Obama, while making clear that the United States does not take sides in the dispute.

“We share a commitment to fundamental principles such as freedom of navigation and respect for international law,” he added.

Obama told reporters the status of the islands should be resolved through negotiation, a message he said he has delivered directly to China.

“Historically, they have been administered by Japan and we do not believe that they should be subject to change unilaterally,” Obama said, adding that he told Abe directly that it would be a “profound mistake” if the situation escalates.

Tensions have been growing between China and Japan over the remote, uninhabited islands located northeast of Taiwan, the fate of which has aroused passions in both countries. Last year, China unilaterally imposed an air defense identification zone over the islands, threatening to take military action against any aircraft that failed to identify itself or cooperate, while also stepping up sea patrols.

The disputed islands were just one of several regional security issues discussed by Obama and Abe at their meeting today. On North Korea, Obama said the United States and Japan are determined to stand firm in the face of provocations by Pyongyang. North Korea has conducted three underground nuclear tests since 2006 as well as multiple tests of short- and long-range missiles. Despite the North being subject to more international sanctions than any other country in the world, Obama said he was not hopeful Pyongyang would change its behavior any time soon.

“But what I am confident about is that working with Japan, working with the Republic of Korea and working with China and other interested parties in the region,” Obama said, “that we can continue to apply more and more pressure on North Korea so that at some juncture they end up taking a different course.”

403rd Wing says farewell to 345th Airlift Squadron during informal ceremony

by Maj. Marnee A.C. Losurdo
403rd Wing Public Affairs


4/23/2014 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The 345th Airlift Squadron furled and cased its guidon during a symbolic inactivation ceremony Friday at the Roberts Consolidated Maintenance Facility.

The 345th AS is an active-component associate unit that, jointly with the 815th Airlift Squadron, executes the tactical airlift mission for the 403rd Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command unit.

Both squadrons are being inactivated as a result of broader force structure initiatives announced in 2013. The 815th AS is having an inactivation ceremony in June but since most active-duty members in the 345th will move to other Air Force Bases next month and will not be here, the unit had their symbolic ceremony early, said Col. David J. Condit, 403rd Operations Group commander.

Col. Todd A. White, 19th Operations Group deputy commander at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., and presiding officer for the ceremony, and Lt. Col. Michael J. Ramirez, 345th AS commander, spoke at the event, thanking everyone for their contributions to the tactical airlift mission.

"Throughout history, our squadron has provided a lot of combat support for our nation, doing exactly what our country needed for its national defense," said Ramirez. "Whenever our nation needed that excess capability, the 345th was there and stood up to fulfill that need, and we've written another chapter in the unit's history in the past three-and-a-half years that everyone in this room has contributed to."

The 345th AS has a history that spans back to June 1949 participating in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts as well as Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The unit has been located at several locations to include Stewart Air Force Base, Tenn., Naha and Kadena Air Bases in Okinawa and Yokota AB, Japan. The squadron was inactivated for the second time in 1993, the first in 1953 then reactivated in 1955. In 2010, the unit was reactivated at Keesler as an active associate unit working closely with the 815th AS.

After the remarks, the squadron was symbolically inactivated and White and Ramirez cased the guidon.

It was a bittersweet moment said Capt. Richard Bogusky, 345th AS assistant director of operations.

"I am extremely proud to have been part the 345th and 815th team, and I'm sad to see it broken apart," he said. "We worked extremely hard to integrate our two squadrons. We accomplished great things together, so it's a shame we are closing down. We complimented each other, made each other stronger through shared experiences, training and deployments."

Since 2011, the two squadrons have deployed nine times to Central, Africa and Southern Command areas of responsibility.

"The 345th and 815th are an impressive team," said Col. Frank L. Amodeo, 403rd Wing commander. "In January 2011, the two squadrons deployed to Afghanistan and smashed the world record for airdrop missions in a month--81 missions moving 5.6 million pounds of cargo.

"The loss of the 345th will be hard felt at Keesler and in our community," he added.

In March, the Air Force announced its plans to transfer the C-130Js to Little Rock AFB, Ark., as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 President's Budget Rollout Request. The 10 C-130J aircraft will remain at Keesler AFB until the Air Force announces the transfer date.

375th AMW welcomes new command chief

by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


4/23/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The 375th Air Mobility Wing welcomed its new command chief April 7, 2014.

As the wing's command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Wesley Mathias serves as the senior enlisted leader and principal advisor to the commander on matters relating to the health, welfare and morale, readiness, and personal development of the wing's Airmen.

He joined the Air Force in 1988 and has been stationed at 18 different locations, including Germany and the Republic of Korea. Prior to his post at Scott Air Force Base, he was the command chief at Nellis AFB, Nev.

What led you to joining the Air Force?

It was my admiration for the profession; I admired the people in uniform and what they stood for. It made me want to be part of an organization that was dedicated to serving our nation. After coming on board, it has been the greatest decision ever. I've thoroughly enjoyed it; I bleed blue.

What is your favorite Air Force memory?

Some of my favorite memories are witnessing the success of my subordinates--the people who have been selected for step promotion or Officer Training School. Sharing those moments have been very important to me; it's like your own child succeeding. I get excited when someone gets selected for a position--to be a recruiter or first sergeant. They reach back and call me to thank me for helping them, when all I did was advocate for those members and try to tell their story so other people could see they were great. Just being there in those moments of success are some of my best memories.

What is your leadership philosophy?

1. Strong relationships are key to leadership. If I have bad relationships with the commander or with other command chiefs, our Airmen suffer. They see that strife between senior leadership and that's what they will talk about. My focus is to cultivate healthy relationships to take care of our Airmen. You do that by getting out and meeting people. You can expect that from me.

2. I always preach attitude and aptitude--those attributes are very important. When faced with a job, it's important to go into it with the right attitude. You can go into a situation with excuses or you can be excited to do it. Aptitude is about always striving to make yourself better. The Air Force teaches us a trade. Mine was weather, and now I'm the command chief. I increased my aptitude by pushing myself, not just to be a great weather guy, but to be a whole package as an Airman and to be a great leader. I took classes and became educated on different subjects to make myself better. Attitude plus aptitude gets you to the right altitude. If your attitude is right, and you strive to make yourself better, the sky's the limit.

What can the 375th Air Mobility Wing Airmen expect from you?

Airmen can expect me to be out and about, cultivating relationships to better take care of them. I will be firm and fair in upholding standards. I'll support our Airmen and be the voice of their concerns to senior leadership across this installation. They can expect for me to be in their work areas, working alongside them as a visible leader.

What do you expect in return from your Airmen?

I want them to take care of themselves and their families in order to focus on the mission. If things are not right on the home front, that's where their mind is going to be. I want them to understand how their job ties into our mission of Enabling Rapid Global Mobility. They have our support, as leaders in this wing, and we'll try to get them the resources they need to accomplish the mission.

What is your favorite part of being a command chief?

I'm in a position to affect change that will benefit our Airmen. When I was coming up as an Airman, there were things I didn't like and would have really like to change, but I wasn't at the level to make those changes. Now, things are different, and Airmen have a voice. I am the voice of the Airmen at this wing.

Also, I like visiting and getting to work alongside my Airmen. Soon, I'll be starting an initiative called, 'take the command chief to work day.' Every week, I'm going to go into a different section and work with an Airman for about an hour. It could be picking up rocks on the flightline--I'll be working with that Airman. Being visible is important to me, and I enjoy that. I love recognizing Airmen for the good things they do. We have a lot of great Airmen in the wing, and I can't wait to get out and give them the due accolades they deserve.

General retiring after more than 40 years of leading boldly


by Capt. Joshua Daniels
18th Air Force Public Affairs


4/23/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Nearly a half century ago, an Iowa farm boy entered the U.S. Air Force Academy, beginning a journey of service longer than the average age of senior master sergeants serving in the Air Force today.

Having been raised on a farm, Brig. Gen. Harold "Cec" Reed, was "brought up to adapt, innovate, and get things done." a natural fit for the Mobility Air Forces.

His leadership style echoed the way he had been brought up, and he pushed his Airmen to be bold and decisive, urging them to "think with your head, put a little of your heart in there and listen to your gut. If you do that usually you'll make the right decision."

That leadership style meant that he rarely heard his Airmen say, "I can't." As he noted, "can't really means 'I don't want to.' You can do anything if you are willing to pay the price."

Reed's 'take no prisoners' attitude was driven by his understanding that "my main job was to train and equip people to go to war and to come back alive." Driven by that realization, he was unafraid to buck the system where necessary to get his people ready for war.

A particularly memorable example of this attitude was displayed while training his C-130H guard unit to use night vision goggles in 1994. At that time, formal training had not been mandated for aircrews, but Reed knew it was something that could save lives and he pushed it. That foresight was justified soon after Operation Enduring Freedom began when his unit was selected to be one of the first deployed to Afghanistan, in part because of the night vision training.

Reed also became a vocal advocate for closer active-duty and Air Reserve Component integration, starting the first active-reserve association in Air Mobility Command at Cheyenne, Wyo. For Reed, the creation of these associations combined the best elements of all components to maximize the Mobility Air Force's agility and efficiency.

Along the way, Reed's career taught him to be unafraid to embrace change and take intelligent risks to make things better.

"We need our junior Airmen to continue to challenge the status quo and push the envelope," he said. "What is good enough today will likely not be in the future. We can't afford to be satisfied."

With the benefit of 44 years of Air Force service to add perspective, General Reed is optimistic about the future of the force. And though he acknowledges that the Air Force, like the nation, is facing a time of uncertainty, he encourages Airmen to look at issues with a long view.

"In a way, our challenges are kind of like the stock market," he said. "There are corrections but over time the market always go up. We will come out better than before ... thanks to our Airmen. They are the ones that will make us better."

As he looks forward to his retirement on April 29, Reed said that what he will miss most are "...the people first and foremost. No person makes it on their own. I am grateful for everyone who continues to keep our Air Force going in the right direction by pushing against the status quo. It truly has been a great ride."

Command garners maintenance & logistics readiness awards

4/24/2014 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Representatives from Air Force Reserve Command units were among the winners of 2013 Air Force Maintenance and Logistics Readiness awards.

William H. Mayfield Jr. of the 908th Maintenance Squadron, Maxwell AFB, Ala., was selected the top aircraft maintenance civilian technician in the Lieutenant General Leo Marquez Award category.

The 80th Aerial Port Squadron, Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., was named the best Air Reserve Component air transportation activity of the year in the Logistics Readiness Unit Award category.

The 349th Maintenance Group, a classic associate unit at Travis AFB, Calif., shared honors with its host 60th MXG. They won the 2013 Clements McMullen Memorial Daedalian Weapon System Maintenance Trophy and were chosen the 2014 Secretary of Defense Field-Level Maintenance Award nominee for a unit with 1,000 or more authorized personnel.

Dyess receives first-of-its kind $26 million C-130J simulator

by By Airman 1st Class Kedesha Pennant
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


4/24/2014 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The 317th Airlift Group held a dedication ceremony for a new $26 million C-130J simulator here April 22, 2014.

Dyess is the first installation to receive this modern C-130J simulator with Vital-10 technology. Vital-10 is an advanced visual display package with a higher resolution and a more realistic display.

"One great aspect about the simulator is that we can alter the location, weather, variables, altitude and threats on the spot," said Maj. Seth Schwesinger, 317th Operations Support Squadron chief of group training. "It gives us the flexibility to pause at a certain point to provide instruction, rewind the scenario and try it again."

The cost to run the simulator is an estimated $850 an hour, a savings of $1,500 compared to an approximated flying cost of $2,300 an hour, which will allow the 317th Airlift Group to save an approximate $3 million annually. Additionally, the simulator will save the 317th Airlift Group approximately $400,000 annually in personnel and travel costs by conducting required training onsite.

The new simulator is a proven tool used to build and maintain operator proficiency in the aircraft throughout multiple mission sets, including those not readily available during local flying, Schwesinger said.

Essentially, the C-130J simulator and the C-130J are one in the same, but with better cost savings and a safer way of doing things, Schwesinger added.

"We also have the ability to compound elements into a training scenario in a safe environment that mimics the aircraft," Schwesinger said. "This gives instructors the capacity to monitor training to enhance the learning of the aircrews."

One of the benefits of the simulator is being able to train in scenarios you wouldn't want to do in an actual aircraft.

"Other than off-station missions, local training was limited to the Dyess area, which is flat and can have unpredictable weather patterns," Schwesinger said. "The simulator allows us to be put in any location to train in high-pressure altitude operations with high temperatures to see how the aircraft performs with these different variables added to the training scenario."

The simulator is also capable of different tactical training scenarios, including specific threat generators, which instructors are able to place along certain locations of a route.

"These threat generators can actually fire at us, and we have to react in accordance to our predetermined parameters," Schwesinger said. "It gives the instructor the ability to cage those parameters to see how well the aircrew reacted and decide if they successfully engaged or escaped the threat correctly."

With these capabilities, the simulator has the option to "damage" or "shut down" the aircraft if the aircrew didn't successfully react using the prescribed tactics.

"Aircrews have an additional factor to deal with in crew resource management to solve a threat and a tactical situation with a lack of resources presented in an emergency training scenario," Schwesinger said.

There are foreseeable advantages of the new simulator compared to the older version as well as the aircraft.

"The inherent capability of the simulator is that it offers repeated training opportunities, which offers a cost benefit without wasting fuel, manpower or maintenance," said Maj. Will Soto, 317th OSS director of operations.

Other C-130J units will be able to use the new simulator to benefit from the advantages as well.

"Ever since we've fully transitioned from the H to the J model, we have been waiting for the new simulator to augment our training," Soto said. "We're very happy to have it, not only for the 317th AG, but the entire C-130J community."

The new C-130J simulator has incurred high expectations from the C-130 community to benefit both Dyess and the Air Force with increased usage.

"It's an awesome capability that allows us a lot of flexibility to execute our tactical missions downrange as well as our local missions," Schwesinger said. "It will greatly improve overall aircrew training."

A4A to show new Airmen the Incirlik AB ropes

by Senior Airman Chase Hedrick
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


4/24/2014 - INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- From every Airman's first assignment to their last, moving to a new duty station presents a whole new environment and culture to settle into. To help Airmen under the age of 26 arriving at Incirlik Air Base, the 39th Air Base Wing is getting ready to launch a new initiative named Airmen 4 Airmen May 9, 2014.

The program recognizes that newcomers know the basics of being Airmen, and now need grow and learn how to be Airmen at Incirlik AB. To achieve this goal in a way that connected with the target group, the program was developed under testing and feedback from Airmen of all age groups.

"This Airman 4 Airmen starting on May 9th is the new and improved program that we have," said 1st Lt. Randy Galindo, 39th Air Base Wing sexual assault response coordinator, and an A4A program manager. "The big thing is this way it's more structured. Everybody's on the same page and there are not as many variables that take away from that."

The program now adds one additional day to newcomers orientation for Airmen under 26 to familiarize attendees with some of Incirlik AB's support agencies. It also and introduces first term Airmen to a 'trusted mentor' while giving others an opportunity to hear a senior non-commissioned officer 'tell it like it is' on issues ranging from current negative trends to security incidents.

"The program is basically mentorship," said Mamie Futrell, 39th ABW sexual assault prevention and response specialist, who also helps to run the program. "It's to teach them the right things and the things look out for and to stay away from to keep them out of trouble. Statistics show that this age range is the one with the most Airmen getting in trouble, whether be it sexual assault, drinking responsibly or whatever the case may be."

For Airmen not on their first assignment here, being part of a trusted mentor's group is optional, but first term Airmen are paired with a peer to discuss topics from an early 20's perspective on unit culture, what life is like in the dorms and neighborhoods, and the landscape of the base's social scene, said Futrell.

"From my personal experience when I first came to this base, it was difficult for me to get out and make friends so I pretty much stayed in my room most of the time," said Airman 1st Class Tatisha Fletcher, 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron customer service journeyman and A4A trusted mentor. "I think it's good to be able to have someone to show you the ropes and those little things that Airmen should know here."

Trusted mentors are volunteer Airmen under 26 of any rank, unit or accompanied status, said Galindo. Before being accepted to help lead in the program they must have been on Incirlik AB for a minimum of 60 days and have approval from their squadron commander, first sergeant and an A4A program manager.

"Anybody who wants to be a trusted mentor and who has those social skills to talk with somebody and reach them on a different level should definitely come forward," said Futrell. "This is another thing we wouldn't suggest people just doing for a bullet, it's something that's going to be more than that. You can really make a difference in somebody's life by just being that first person they meet after getting off the plane on a new base."

Airmen interested in volunteering can contact the A4A program managers at DSN: 676-1084.

403rd Wing says farewell to 345th Airlift Squadron during informal ceremony

by Maj. Marnee A.C. Losurdo
403rd Wing Public Affairs


4/23/2014 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The 345th Airlift Squadron furled and cased its guidon during a symbolic inactivation ceremony Friday at the Roberts Consolidated Maintenance Facility.

The 345th AS is an active-component associate unit that, jointly with the 815th Airlift Squadron, executes the tactical airlift mission for the 403rd Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command unit.

Both squadrons are being inactivated as a result of broader force structure initiatives announced in 2013. The 815th AS is having an inactivation ceremony in June but since most active-duty members in the 345th will move to other Air Force Bases next month and will not be here, the unit had their symbolic ceremony early, said Col. David J. Condit, 403rd Operations Group commander.

Col. Todd A. White, 19th Operations Group deputy commander at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., and presiding officer for the ceremony, and Lt. Col. Michael J. Ramirez, 345th AS commander, spoke at the event, thanking everyone for their contributions to the tactical airlift mission.

"Throughout history, our squadron has provided a lot of combat support for our nation, doing exactly what our country needed for its national defense," said Ramirez. "Whenever our nation needed that excess capability, the 345th was there and stood up to fulfill that need, and we've written another chapter in the unit's history in the past three-and-a-half years that everyone in this room has contributed to."

The 345th AS has a history that spans back to June 1949 participating in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts as well as Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The unit has been located at several locations to include Stewart Air Force Base, Tenn., Naha and Kadena Air Bases in Okinawa and Yokota AB, Japan. The squadron was inactivated for the second time in 1993, the first in 1953 then reactivated in 1955. In 2010, the unit was reactivated at Keesler as an active associate unit working closely with the 815th AS.

After the remarks, the squadron was symbolically inactivated and White and Ramirez cased the guidon.

It was a bittersweet moment said Capt. Richard Bogusky, 345th AS assistant director of operations.

"I am extremely proud to have been part the 345th and 815th team, and I'm sad to see it broken apart," he said. "We worked extremely hard to integrate our two squadrons. We accomplished great things together, so it's a shame we are closing down. We complimented each other, made each other stronger through shared experiences, training and deployments."

Since 2011, the two squadrons have deployed nine times to Central, Africa and Southern Command areas of responsibility.

"The 345th and 815th are an impressive team," said Col. Frank L. Amodeo, 403rd Wing commander. "In January 2011, the two squadrons deployed to Afghanistan and smashed the world record for airdrop missions in a month--81 missions moving 5.6 million pounds of cargo.

"The loss of the 345th will be hard felt at Keesler and in our community," he added.

In March, the Air Force announced its plans to transfer the C-130Js to Little Rock AFB, Ark., as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 President's Budget Rollout Request. The 10 C-130J aircraft will remain at Keesler AFB until the Air Force announces the transfer date.

Air Force Reserve Command announces 2013 Outstanding Airmen of the Year

4/24/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas  -- Air Force Reserve Command honored its 2013 Outstanding Airmen of the Year during an awards banquet here April 17.

The winners who will represent the command in Air Force competition later this year are:
  • First Sergeant - Senior Master Sgt. Eric Smith, 433rd Security Forces Squadron, JB San Antonio-Lackland, Texas;
  • Senior NCO - Master Sgt. Patrick Hampton, Detachment 1, 8th Space Warning Squadron, Schriever Air Force Base, Colo.;
  • NCO - Tech Sgt. William Posch, 308th Rescue Squadron, Patrick AFB, Fla.;
  • Airman - Senior Airman Tyler Mohr, 445th Airlift Wing, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

USAFE-AFAFRICA leadership team visits 501st CSW

by Capt. Brian Maguire
501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs


4/22/2014 - RAF ALCONBURY, United Kingdom -- The U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa leadership team visited with the 501st Combat Support Wing during a base tour April 15.

Airmen from six of the seven 501st CSW installations in the United Kingdom and Norway came together to brief the USAFE-AFAFRICA leaders and highlight the diverse and innovative nature of the wing.

"During my tour here, I saw a lot of innovation," said Gen. Frank Gorenc, USAFE-AFAFRICA commander. "People taking it upon themselves to go to their supervisor and say 'I think we can do this better, and this is what we should do to get the job done.'"

The general, Mrs. Gorenc and Chief Master Sgt. James Davis, USAFE-AFAFRICA command chief, met with Airmen and family members from across the wing, to hear about the award-winning programs that enable mission success across the wing's mission sets.

"The world's greatest Air Force - powered by Airmen, fueled by innovation - I love that vision," Gorenc said. "That vision includes an aspiration to be the very best, and states who is responsible for achieving the world's greatest status - our Airmen."

During an all-call with Airmen in the RAF Alconbury Theater, Gorenc shared his mission statement for all of USAFE-AFAFRICA, and how the 501st CSW fits into the Forward, Ready, Now concept.

"We're forward, we're ready and we're ready now," he said. "That's all you need to remember. The Airmen of 501st are living this every day, you deliver all three elements of Forward, Ready, Now."

Davis echoed the general's comments, noting how all the Airmen they met knew where they fell within the mission.

"I'm excited about this visit - this is my second opportunity to come here, and you've all got it," said Davis. "Throughout the day, we've heard the theme Forward, Ready, Now, regardless of what section we visited."

Gorenc concentrated on the mission, calling it the North Star because that is what guides every Airman's actions. He also focused on two other important areas: safety and sexual assault.

"Safety - the reason it's important is that it's combat capability. How long does it take to replace a 10-year Airman? It's not a trick question. It takes 10 years," Gorenc said. "The idea that you can replace a seasoned veteran of 10 years with a new 3-level and get away with the same level of mission accomplishment can create a safety issue, so be aware of your surroundings and remain safe."

While emphasizing the need to step in and prevent sexual assault, the general spoke about recent changes to the law and Air Force programs to ensure all Airmen understood what resources they had available.

"I want to talk about sexual assault. We have a problem." said Gorenc. "Everybody's got to be part of the solution, because this challenge will not be addressed until Airmen at all levels help squash it."

Davis added that it was important for everyone to have the same message, and he stressed the communication aspect among all Airmen.

"I asked your senior NCOs 'how do you all communicate?' It is even more critical to have a good line of communication when you're dispersed across the U.K. and Norway," said Davis. "Everybody has to get on the same sheet of music, whether you're sitting at Molesworth, Alconbury, Croughton or Menwith Hill, and that takes effort, that takes work."

During the closing comments of the all-call, Gorenc emphasized the role every Airman plays in accomplishing the mission and what they need to focus on to face the changes rippling across the Air Force.

"In times of change, you need to continue to trust your leadership, respect your peers and mentor your subordinates," said Gorenc. "That's the only way to get through change in a positive way and to create an Air Force in the future that will be faithful to a proud heritage."

Deployed AWACS squadron flies 4,000th combat sortie

by Maj. Khalid Cannon
380th Air Expeditionary Wing


4/22/2014 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- On April 5, the 968th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron flew their 4,000th combat sortie, a milestone that began in 2007.

"This accomplishment is not only a testament to the aircrews and staff that have rotated through the AOR, but also a phenomenal feat for AWACS maintainers," said Air Force Lt. Col. Ed Goebel, 968th EAACS commander and a native of Norman, Okla. "The significance of this is even greater because it occurred in conjunction with the Afghanistan elections."

The aircrew integrated with elements of the Theater Air Control System to provide tactical command and control to coalition air assets in Afghanistan, protecting ground forces and providing security on election day, said Goebel.

Goebel highlighted the behind the scenes work of the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

"The Airmen of Sentry Aircraft Maintenance Unit were key to this milestone of 4,000 sorties," Goebel said. "The effort of the maintenance team is impressive as the combined operations and maintenance AWACS team ensures E-3B/Cs are successfully launched every day."

The mission of the 968th EAACS is to provide battle space awareness and tactical command and control in any mission set throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

The squadron, which is the only deployed Airborne Warning and Control System unit in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, also works with other TACS elements to provide situational awareness of friendly, neutral and hostile activity, as well as command and control.

"The sortie was a benchmark not only for our squadron and the AWACS community, but for Operation Enduring Freedom," said Air Force Capt. Kinsley Jordan, aircraft commander and a native of Little River, Kan. "We are able to go up every day and offer the best combat support in every way, shape and form."

The most important thing Captain Jordan's aircrew provides is vital information to troops on the ground and the pilots that support them, he added.

"We give the commanders the full combat picture," said Captain Jordan. "Every mission counts and every time we step to the jet, people are depending on us. This is the most impactful job I've ever had."

According to unit history, the squadron was formed during World War II as the 858 Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on September 14, 1943. The B-24 Liberator squadron flew bombing missions over Germany and received the Distinguished Unit Citation.

The AWACS aircraft returned to Southwest Asia following the end of major combat operations in 2003, said Goebel. The original units deployed from Air Combat Command and Pacific Air Forces and the enduring squadron activated in the spring of 2013.

"I was an Air Force Academy cadet on 9/11, and right after it happened I purchased a nickel from Ground Zero," said Air Force Capt. Tysen Pina, an air battle manager and native of Roswell, Ga.

"I've carried it with me on every combat sortie I've flown over Afghanistan and Iraq," Tyson said. "To be here to support Afghanistan's first free election and contribute to the democratic process is important to me."

Hagel Notifies Egypt of Upcoming U.S. Certification



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 23, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel informed his Egyptian counterpart yesterday that Secretary of State John F. Kerry soon will certify to Congress that Egypt is sustaining the strategic relationship with the United States and is meeting its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.

In a statement summarizing Hagel’S phone call to Egyptian Defense Minister Col. Gen. Sedki Sobhy, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said these certifications are required to obligate fiscal year 2014 funds for assistance to the Egyptian government.

“Secretary Hagel told General Sobhy that we are not yet able to certify that Egypt is taking steps to support a democratic transition,” Kirby said, “and he urged the Egyptian government to demonstrate progress on a more inclusive transition that respects the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Egyptians.”

Hagel also informed Sobhy of President Barack Obama's decision to deliver 10 Apache helicopters in support of Egypt’s counterterrorism operations in the Sinai, Kirby said.

“The secretary noted that we believe these new helicopters will help the Egyptian government counter extremists who threaten U.S., Egyptian, and Israeli security,” he added. “This is one element of the president’s broader efforts to work with partners across the region to build their capacity to counter terrorist threats, and is in the United States’ national security interest.”

Face of Defense: Air National Guard Brothers Deploy Together



 By Air Force Senior Airman Desiree W. Moye
386th Air Expeditionary Wing

SOUTHWEST ASIA, April 23, 2014 – One benefit of having family members serving in the military is the rare opportunity that allows them to serve together in a deployed location.

It has been a major comfort to three California Air National Guard airmen assigned to the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing together. The Morales Talento brothers are deployed from the 146th Airlift Wing, Channel Island Air National Guard Station, Calif.

The eldest, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Luis Morales Talento, is a supply specialist with the 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Group. His brothers – Air Force Senior Airman Walter Morales Talento, a maintenance operations center controller, and Air Force Airman 1st Class Guido Morales Talento, a crew chief -- serve with the 386th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

In 1992, when Luis was 8 and Walter was 4, they moved to the United States from Guatemala with their parents. They said they believe they are living out their late father's dream of serving in the U.S. Air Force.

"I'm really proud that we have fulfilled a lifelong dream our father had for himself and for his boys," Walter said.

As they grew up in a household that was both humble and authoritarian at times, the brothers said, their father was always supportive of the military. They remember him taking them to air shows each year, igniting a fire of patriotism in each of them.

"Every time we saw an American flag, my dad continuously reminded us and never failed to proclaim, 'That's your flag, boys,'” Luis said. “I did not connect the dots until I joined the Air Force and understood the powerful meaning behind the pride our flag solidified."

Many years after those memories, each brother decided to serve his nation by enlisting in the military. Luis joined in 2004, and never lost hope that Guido and Walter would follow suit.

Before he followed suit and enlisted, Walter said, he admired his brother’s contributions to their state and their nation. After hearing so many positive stories about the military, he added, he made his decision.

"I just became inspired to follow in his footsteps,” he said. “I chose the [Air National Guard] over active duty because it allowed me to finish school, be able to live close to my family, and more importantly, serve with both of my brothers on the same base."

Guido, the youngest brother, needed more coaxing before enlisting. To help him make his decision, Walter and Luis voiced told him about opportunities he wouldn't find on a recruiting brochure by sharing their individual perspectives.

"After my first brother joined, I was sad, because he had never been away,” Guido said. “I definitely have a strong sense of pride in my country, but did not want to leave home. Essentially, it was my oldest brother, Luis, [who] recruited me by taking me to the base, showing me around and showing me what I could accomplish. It further encouraged me to join when Walter did."

Being able to talk about common experiences and share similar comforts from home while in a deployed location is perfect for growing resilient bonds, the brothers said. Though they work different shifts, they make it a priority to check up on one another as often as possible and participate in activities.

"I really feel blessed to have both of them here with me during my first deployment overseas,” Walter said. “I love the fact that we hang out, enjoy meals together, work out, and even joined the base honor guard together.”

Luis said he constantly reminds his brothers of little things that can help them be the best airmen possible, and that Guido pushes them all to stay physically motivated.

"I am proud to say that each of us has won first place in different events here around the base,” Walter said. “We hope to come in first place in the half marathon coming up later this month."

Generating Airpower: Weapons bring the bang

by Senior Airman Derek VanHorn
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


4/23/2014 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- (This article is part of a series featuring the 35th Maintenance Group on their ability to generate airpower for the 35th Fighter Wing's Wild Weasels. The 35 MXG is compiled of 22 career fields that support the mission of the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses, the only SEAD wing in Pacific Air Forces.)

Loaded with radar-guided and heat-seeking missiles, bombs and a sniper targeting pod, the look of a fully loaded F-16 Fighting Falcon can be downright intimidating. But for a certain group of people here, it's an empty one that sends chills down their spine.

"It's an indescribable feeling," said Staff Sgt. Andrew Waddell, 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron load crew team chief. "It's hard to explain what it's like loading a 2,000-pound bomb on a jet and seeing it come back empty knowing it potentially ended someone's life."

Waddell works in the weapons section where they're responsible for loading munitions, troubleshooting and maintaining weapons on 44 F-16 Fighting Falcons at Misawa.

Their "office" is a 9,999-foot flightline, and their shifts begin with a roll call in a cramped Aircraft Maintenance Unit with constant noise and traffic that offers temporary respite from the outdoors. They spend their days loading and unloading jets in the snow, rain, sleet and blistering sun.

It's a blue-collared lifestyle; long hours are expected and the workload is dependent on the performance of the jets. With Misawa pilots flying more than 6,000 sorties annually, weapons troops are constantly prepared for action.

"It's hard work, but we know what we signed up for," said Airman 1st Class Deandre Thomas, a load crew member with the 35 AMXS. "We have to push sorties to keep our pilots sharp, so the mission is always going to come first."

The mission of the 35th Fighter Wing is the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses, the only SEAD wing in Pacific Air Forces. With the largest area of responsibility of any Air Force major command, PACAF is responsible for over 100 million square miles and demands a dynamic and combat-ready posture from 35 FW Airmen.

"We're manned for war contingency where jets land and we turn that sortie and send it immediately back out," said Master Sgt. Lucian Williamson, 14th AMU weapons section chief who supervises 57 weapons maintainers. "The F-16 is a multi-role fighter, so we have to be ready for any type of weapons load. Our jets are capable of fighting offensively and posturing defensively, as well as executing air-to-air and air-to-ground missions."

Williamson said weapons troops stay prepared by remaining certified on a large variety of munitions during monthly certifications in the group's "load barn" - a hangar designated for timed load outs. Each load crew has around 20 minutes to complete each load, with varying time requirements determined by designated mission requirements.

Load crews are made up of inseparable three-man teams who work together to arm a jet with its entire weapon set for each sortie. They stick together their entire time stationed together on each base, adding to the already strong sense of ownership and teamwork associated with the maintaining lifestyle.

"The weapons career field is one where you must rely very strongly on wingmen," said Senior Airman Darious Furlow, 35 AMXS load crew member whose been working with F-16s for four years. "Every step we make has to do be done with the help of at least two others."

The end result of a successful load can be devastating to an adversary. For weapons maintainers, that's the goal - prepare their pilots to inflict the most appropriate damage possible.

"We give the aircraft its fighting capability," Waddell said. "Without weapons, we as an Air Force bring no threat to the fight."

The typical SEAD load out includes three AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles, one AIM-9 Sidewinder and two AGM-88 High-speed Anti-radiation Missiles, according to Lt. Col. John McDaniel, 35 FW F-16 pilot and special assistant to the commander.

McDaniel said pilots fly in four-ship sorties, eliminating immediate air threats and carrying out SEAD mission requirements as necessary.

"There are a lot of people who play a big role in making the mission happen," McDaniel said. "We can't do this without everyone playing their part."

It's the epitome of teamwork, and it begins on the ground. By nature, maintainers stay out of the spotlight. They keep a close circle, running each other ragged with good-tempered ribbing and knuckle-breaking work. But when it comes down to it, they know their value and their impact can't be masked.

"It's a special feeling knowing our hard work behind the scenes might be the difference in saving the lives of troops downrange," Waddell said. "It's both prideful and surreal."

Furlow is less reserved, and maybe rightfully so - his load crew won the 35 FW's most recent Load Crew of the Quarter competition.

"There's an old saying that a good weapons troop is a pilot's best friend," Furlow said. "Everyone has an important role and we all work together, but you can't execute the mission without weapons."