Saturday, August 01, 2015

DoD Leaders Salute Winnefeld at Retirement Ceremony

By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1, 2015 – Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. made his mark as the Joint Chiefs’ vice chairman by “challenging institutional assumptions strategically, technically and conceptually,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said at the admiral’s retirement ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia, yesterday.

At the post’s Whipple Field, Carter told the audience comprised of DoD senior leadership and distinguished guests how Winnefeld, the ninth vice chairman, helped DoD build trust around the interagency.

“He’s been the grease in the machinery between our special operations forces and our most senior decision makers, helping remove some of the worse terrorists from the fight,” the secretary said, adding that Winnefeld helped improve DoD’s cyber security, nuclear deterrent and space capabilities.

Wrapping up 37 years in his military career, there is no question Winnefeld is “a master of the tactical, operational and strategic dimensions of warfare,” but “even bigger than Sandy’s mind is his heart,” Carter said.

Caring for the Wounded

When Winnefeld and his wife, Mary, realized hospitalized troops at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center didn’t have Wi-Fi connections, they made sure it was installed. Patients could then connect with fellow wounded warriors, battle buddies and families, the secretary noted.

The vice chairman toured worldwide with the USO to help lift troops’ spirits, and “quietly [and] humbly” mentored enlisted, officer and civilian men and women on his staff, Carter added.

“That’s the legacy of excellence you leave us with,” the secretary told Winnefeld. “You’ve helped this department and its people succeed. We can’t thank you enough for that.”

Mary Winnefeld: Giving Back

The secretary and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey touted the extensive voluntary assistance Mary Winnefeld provided military members, such as wounded warriors, and family members.

“She’s at Walter Reed so much, they call her Aunt Mary there,” Carter said.

Dempsey called Mary Winnefeld an amazing champion, who “has always gone the extra mile –- even going undercover at Walter Reed to get an unvarnished look at exactly how service members and families are treated.”

‘The World is A Safer Place’

Dempsey said Winnefeld’s accomplishments were too many to list but noted that he is “one of the Navy’s most-proficient and experienced pilots.”

Having commanded at every level afloat and ashore in the Navy, joint, allied and combatant commands, Winnefeld is an inspirational leader who took the nation’s men and women into battle and hostile territories to fight those who sought to do harm to the United States, the chairman said.

“We are safer today because of Sandy’s service,” Dempsey said.

“The world remains a dangerous place,” the chairman said.

“Sandy and I have faced the most complicated, complex and disparate challenges imaginable advising the president and leading the nation’s military. From terrorists, to the Ebola virus, to cyber attacks, Sandy’s intellect, work ethic and patriotism have been invaluable in ensuring America remains safe and prosperous.”

Dempsey awarded the vice chairman the Defense Distinguished Service Medal while Mary Winnefeld was honored with the DoD Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

‘An Extraordinary Privilege’

No nation on earth has ever been blessed with as many allies as the United States has had, Winnefeld told audience members.

“It’s been such an extraordinary privilege to serve our great nation in uniform … the best part has been the extraordinary people I’ve come to know on this journey,” he said.

“I’ve served with the most dedicated civilians, sailed with the best sailors, flown alongside the most gifted airmen and supported the most lethal yet compassionate soldiers, Marines and special operators on this planet. It’s been a heck of a ride,” he added.

Winnefeld thanked audience members and the American people for giving him “the high privilege for a few years of helping protect this beautiful land we love so much.”

DoD Officials Observe Counter-Drone Demo in California

By Lisa Ferdinando
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

POINT MUGU, Calif., Aug. 1, 2015 – Small, unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, are easy to obtain and launch and they’re hard to detect on radar, making them of particular concern to the Department of Defense, according to officials taking part in the Black Dart 2015 counter-UAS demonstration held here.

Black Dart 2015, which began July 26 and runs to Aug. 7, is DoD's largest live-fly, live-fire joint counter-UAS technology demonstration, Navy Cmdr. David Zook, chief of the Capabilities Assessment Division with the Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization, or JIAMDO, told reporters yesterday.

Zook briefed reporters at Naval Base Ventura County and Sea Range here. He said the demonstration is bringing together some 1,000 people, including industry personnel, observers from allied nations, and participants from four military branches.

Small drones can be launched from virtually anywhere and fly a significant radius, Zook said.

"Small manned and unmanned aircraft have always been hard to find,” he said. “It's hard to tell the difference in the radar cross section from that and other small airborne vehicles or even birds.”

Black Dart 2015 provides “a unique and very valuable window for us to come together for two weeks here and practice in a littoral environment, a land-based environment and a deep-sea environment in many different scenarios," Zook said.

Zook said the demonstration features cooperation and interoperability among military services in air and missile defense, while also assessing the anti-UAS capabilities of DoD, its agency partners and industry.

Previous Black Dart demonstrations have resulted in new systems or improvements in technology, tactics, and procedures that have helped the warfighter, he said.

Staying One Step Ahead

One only needs to look at recent news reports to see incidents involving members of the public using drones, including a quadcopter that landed at the White House, said Air Force Maj. Scott Gregg, Black Dart’s project officer.

Drones can easily be purchased over the Internet or at a hobby shop, Gregg said. Defense officials are focused on staying ahead of the threat, he said.

"If there is anything that the terrorists have shown, it’s that they’ll be innovative and use anything that they can at their disposal to do what they're trying to do," Gregg said.

"What we're trying to do at Black Dart is make sure that we are staying ahead of the game and that we have a good understanding of their capabilities before those capabilities outpace ours," he added.

The smaller class of drones is an "emphasis item" this year at Black Dart, in response to concerns from combatant commanders and interagency partners, including law enforcement agencies, Gregg said.

"It's a problem for everyone," he said.

More than 70 countries are using UASs, either in government or military application, Gregg said.

Gregg points out that radio-controlled model aircraft have similar performance and capabilities to some of the UASs that are considered to be threats.

"It's a burgeoning market. The threat is expanding rapidly, proliferation is expanding rapidly and it's not just a military threat," he said. "Our allies are using them, our coalition partners are using them, but our adversaries are using them too."

Oklahoma ANG unit begins transition with arrival of first MC-12W aircraft

by Senior Airman Justin Creech
137th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

7/30/2015 - WILL ROGERS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Okla. -- The Oklahoma Air National Guard's 137th Air Refueling Wing welcomed the arrival of the Air Force MC-12W aircraft here, July 10.

The arrival of the MC-12 marks the return of flying operations to WRANGB for the first time since 2007.

The 137 ARW received the MC-12 based on its manpower, facilities, existing command structure, and strong relationships with local community leaders. The geographical location of the 137th provides a highly conducive flying environment and appropriate training facilities.

"The 137th Air Refueling Wing is very excited to return flying operations back to Will Rogers Air National Guard Base and join Air Force Special Operations Command," said Air Force Col. Devin R. Wooden, 137 ARW commander. "Our last eight years at Tinker Air Force Base and our partnership with the 507th Air Refueling Wing is an honored part of our great history. We proudly flew off of this ramp for 58 years before we left for Tinker and to be a part of the team to bring flying operations back is very satisfying. I feel like everyone is back home."

The MC-12 is a medium-to low-altitude, twin-engine turboprop aircraft. Its primary mission is to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support directly to ground forces serving overseas.

The partnership between AFSOC and the Air National Guard, and the ability of the ANG to retain members is another reason WRANGB was chosen to house the MC-12. Air National Guard members historically leave units at significantly lower rates than Active Duty units, which will allow Manned Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance expertise to be retained long-term and become more fully developed.  The ANG unit will be able to retain critical expertise by recruiting and retaining those members who are planning to separate from active duty.

"I am personally very happy to be back at the base at which I began my military career," said Air Force Lt. Col. Justin Walker, 185th Air Refueling Squadron commander. "I am also very excited about the addition of new tactical Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircrew members to the squadron.

The basing of the MC-12 is a significant moment for the 137 ARW as they transition to an Air Force Special Operations Wing. As a part of AFSOC, the wing will provide highly-trained Air Commandos to execute global special operations missions.

As part of the first Air National Guard/Air Force Reserve partnership, the 137 ARW has been functioning as a geographically separated base with KC-135 Stratotanker flight operations at Tinker Air Force Base and support operations at WRANGB. This partnership was the result of the last major Base Relocation and Closure commission that threatened the 137th with permanent closure.

"The squadron, and ultimately the wing are poised for complete mission success due to the mix of current and new members," said Walker.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Director of the Air National Guard visits Jefferson Barracks

by Staff Sgt. Brittany Cannon
131st Bomb Wing Public Affairs

7/27/2015 - JEFFERSON BARRACKS, Missouri  -- The director of the Air National Guard viewed missions firsthand, received a base tour and recognized Missouri Citizen-Airmen during his first-ever visit to Jefferson Barracks July 21.

Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III visited the historic Air Guard base, which is home to a number of 131st Bomb Wing units, along with the 157th Operations Group, 239th Combat Communication Squadron and 231st Civil Engineer Flight.

Clarke was able to visit with Missouri Air Guardsmen and see the unique capabilities they provide to the state of Missouri and the United States Air Force. The general received unit mission orientations and a walking tour of the historical Jefferson Barracks grounds.

Throughout the tour, Clarke met and "coined" several Airmen for their superior performance, including: Master Sgt. Carissa M. Correll, 131st Logistics Readiness Squadron; Tech. Sgt. Brian P. Conrey, 131st Civil Engineering Squadron; Master Sgt. Timothy J. Loyd, 239th CBCS, Staff Sgt. Kenneth A. Romero, 157th AOG and Maj. Bridget S. Zorn, 157th AOG.

"Guardsmen make the choice to defend their homeland every day," said Clarke before coining one of the Citizen-Airmen. When presenting the coin, he described his design, which includes his three Air Guard core competencies emblazoned on its face: warfighting, security cooperation and homeland operations.

"I was beyond ecstatic and completely honored that the director of the Air National Guard personally handed me his coin," said Romero. "It was a privilege I wasn't expecting."

"Our Citizen-Airmen are rightly proud to have had the opportunity to share about their roles and their missions with the Air National Guard's top leader," said Col. Michael Francis, 131st Bomb Wing commander.  "A critical mass of our 131st people - and a critically unique, high-tech and particularly effective slate of military capabilities - remains resident here at Jefferson Barracks  These capabilities set us apart in the Guard and across the entire Air Force."

Completing the visit, Clarke said he was pleased to have met so many superior performers throughout the wing and to have toured historic Jefferson Barracks, which remains the oldest continuously operated military installation west of the Mississippi river.

Orphanage construction builds friends in Latvia

by Master Sgt. Allen Pickert
190th Public Affairs

7/28/2015 - FORBES FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ks. -- Coyotes engineer a better life for orphans in Latvia while deterring aggression at the same time.

The 190th Civil Engineering Squadron spent most of June in Daugavpils, Latvia, working with Latvian military engineers renovating an orphanage.

Funded by European Command, this humanitarian civic assistance project is designed to improve relations with the host country while practicing military cooperation. In this instance, it also happens to improve the facilities and lives of 53 Latvian orphans.

The project included major improvements to the building from the foundation to the roof, and everything in between. The more than 40 member team included eight Latvian Army engineers and the rest from the 190th.

"The different systems and language posed a real challenge the first couple of days, but we made it work." said Staff Sgt. Aaron Rowley, a first time deplorer with CES,
"They truly made it work because after the first few days, the local Latvian contractors began thinking of extra projects for our engineers because they did not expect the Americans to be so proficient in their construction skills."

Rowley was also impressed by the CES teamwork, saying it was one of his favorite things about the whole trip. The entire CES team voluntarily came to the orphanage on one of their days off to give toys and gifts to the orphans, and lend their muscle to some extra clean-up projects the orphanage needed.

While there was a lot of teamwork and relation building on the work sight in Daugavpils, the team actually stayed in an empty school house nearly a half hour away in Medumi, Latvia. Relation building continued there, much of it done through the international language of soccer.

"Maybe you couldn't talk to each other before playing, but on the soccer field it showed we are all alike." said Senior Airman Daniel Robinson-Lopez, a first time deplorer. "I liked showing the ethnic Russians that we can work together and be friends."

Eastern Latvia, the Latgale region, is full of ethnic Russians with Russian being the common language. This deployment and joint operations with the Latvian Army engineers helped to build working relations between the different regions of Latvia and the United States.

Airman 1st Class Samantha Ghareeb on her first deployment said, "My favorite things have been experiencing a new culture and the food. The people are friendly:  we've been received really well here."

While the excitement of her first overseas deployment topped her list, the teamwork of CES wasn't far from her mind, "I wouldn't want to deploy with anyone else. I feel safe with CE." she added.

Teamwork comes naturally with the 190th CES and that same teamwork grew easily with the Latvian soldiers, civilian contractors and orphanage staff.

"Every aspect of the trip has far exceeded my expectations." said Senior Master Sgt. Casey Batterton, 190th CES member. "The most rewarding, by far, is the impact we are leaving on the 53 orphans. I could not be more proud of the Airmen, non-commissioned officers and Latvian engineers that made this happen, however I'm always quick to brag on family."

SECAF praises total force effort during Utah visit

by Capt. Jennifer Eaton
Utah Air National Guard JFHQ/PAO

7/29/2015 - SALT LAKE CITY -- The Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, was the distinguished guest speaker at an "All Call" held at Hill Air Force Base July 24, with more than 400 civilian and military members of active-duty, guard and reserve components in attendance.

Secretary James considered it an absolute honor to have the opportunity to spend time touring Air Force installations worldwide and spent more than an hour addressing a variety of topics and fielded questions from the crowd.

"Visiting with our amazing Airmen is the biggest privilege of my professional life," said James.

Her formal remarks highlighted many of the key messages she regularly delivers to Air Force stakeholders on Capitol Hill. These included the size of the current Air Force, "the smallest we've seen since the service's inception;" challenges posed by aging equipment and aircraft; issues related to troop readiness; and the worldwide explosion of threats to national security.

"Everywhere we turn, the Air Force is asked to do more with less," said James. "The high ops tempo means that we are an Air Force under some stress."

As the individual in charge of the Air Force's annual budget of more than $139 billion, James can attest that much of the tension boils down to the financial tug-of-war between the Air Force and Congress where some differences in opinion occur on how to strike an effective balance between the readiness of today and the needs of tomorrow.

"We can't do one or the other," she said. "We've got to do both."

James challenged the audience; however, to stay focused on taking care of each other and the mission at hand and not spend too much time worrying about budgetary and procurement efforts.

"You have enough on your plates," she said. "Count on me for the best support I can provide to secure what we need to move forward."

James' remarks resonated with attendees like Vallaree McArthur, an Air Force employee who serves a civilian role at Hill AFB and as a Mission Support Group First Sergeant with the UTANG.

"Secretary James did a great job outlining top priorities in a way that was pertinent to military and civilian concerns," said McArthur. "She touched on quality of life improvements; recruiting and retention; striking a balance between maintaining versus modernizing assets; and holding everyone accountable to schedules and budgets ... the ideas and the presentation were spot on."

James' visit also included various facilities tours, meetings, and opportunities to speak with civilians, officers and enlisted members from across the state.

"We were honored to have Secretary James visit Utah," said Major General Jefferson Burton, Utah National Guard Adjutant General, who attended a dinner with military and civic leaders in Secretary James' honor.

"She is a visionary leader who is clearly committed to the total force concept," said Burton.
"In fact, she [James] took the time to express her gratitude for the contributions made by Utah Air National Guardsmen through missions conducted around the globe."

James said this type of total force integration is a great way for the service to "leverage the full innovative potential of all our Airmen," noting that Utah is leading the way in such efforts.

The caliber of Airmen she meets as she travels the globe, and their collaborative efforts come as no surprise, she said.

"Everywhere I go, I've been so impressed by our, guard, and reserve units," she said. "They are the reason we're the greatest Air Force in the world."

Security Forces Get Unconventional During Tactical Training Exercise

by Airman Nitza Reynolds
125th Fighter Wing

7/30/2015 - CAMP BLANDING, Fla. -- Airmen from the 125th Security Forces Squadron are participating in a training exercise at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Florida to help them prepare for upcoming deployments.

These Airmen, with help and guidance from Counterdrug Task Force Training Instructors, also part of the Florida National Guard's 20th Special Forces group, are being trained on how to move tactically in an urban environment, assault target buildings while under fire, and the basics of air base defense.

Tech. Sgt. Kyle Showalter, 125th Security Forces Training Section, believes this training will be beneficial to airmen by taking them out of their comfort zones and using different styles of training.

"I want them to get a little bit more experienced to be able to see a different mindset."  said Showalter. "Traditionally, Security Forces is trained as a conventional force. These guys need to get out of that a little bit... and get more unconventional. That seems to be the type of warfare we're dealing with now and thinking in a 360 degree mindset as opposed to just one post, one way, at one time. They need to be able to see opposite threats, all threats all around them."

According to Airman 1st Class Austin Hendrix, 125th Security Forces Squadron, the training that he and the other security forces airmen are going through has been helpful in getting them comfortable and ready for deployment.

"Part of this training is for the group to get situated and learn how to tactically move and to try to get us ready." said Hendrix. "We will be deploying in a few months so we're trying to get everyone prepared for what might happen downrange."

This team of instructors has a lot of experience between them that is necessary for effective training. Along with the extensive training, knowledge, and experience of the National Guard Counterdrug instructors, there is a team of security forces instructors from the 125th Fighter Wing.  All of these instructors have deployed to multiple locations, worked with local national forces, and third country national forces. The different levels and types of experience that these instructors have will help prepare the Airmen for any situation they may encounter.

"All that experience comes into play with these troops when they get out overseas and see what they're going to see." said Showalter. "Some of them are going to more built bases than others; some of them may get forward deployed to other places.  I want these guys to be able to react and do everything that they need to do and that's when this experience comes into play."

9th Air Refueling Squardron recogonized as best in Air Force

by Senior Airman Charles Rivezzo
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

7/30/2015 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 9th Air Refueling Squadron was recognized July 18 as the "Top Air Refueling Section in the Air Force" after being presented the Albert L. Evans award during the 36th annual Boom Symposium at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.

Refueling squadrons across all major commands and refueling platforms compete for the prestigious award. The Evans award was established in memory of Senior Master Sgt. Albert L. Evans, a pioneer in the history of Strategic Air Command's air refueling operations. The purpose of the trophy is to annually recognize, on a rotational basis, the most outstanding Boom Operator section in the Air Force, based on the accomplishments and professional qualities of the assigned Boom Operators.

"I think this achievement punctuates a tremendous year for our squadron and especially our Boom Operators," said Senior Master Sgt. Shane Hickman, 9th ARS superintendent. "Our Boom Operators are now part of a select few that have won this prestigious award and no one will ever be able to take that away from them."

Throughout 2014, the 9th ARS served as the cornerstone unit for Operations Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve, maintaining a significant worldwide presence and ensuring U.S. objectives were met. Duing this period of activity, the 9th ARS executed more than 1,700 combat missions, offloading 41.8 million pounds of fuel to U.S. Air Force, joint and coalition aircraft over Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

The squadron engaged in multiple Department of Defense capstone missions within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, including leading the coalition strike group conducting the first air strikes on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant forces in Syria - a mission that featured the first female Emirati flight lead.

The men and women of the 9th ARS have maintained what they refer to as the "Gucci standard." A mantra they say epitomizes "executing the mission safely, swiftly and with pride."

"Gucci is a symbol of excellence and prestige that our squadron truly exudes each and every day," Hickman said. "The Gucci standard is always performing at the highest possible level. It is always setting the bar high and going above it. It is always pushing yourself and the team to the limit and never being satisfied with mediocrity. It is having a mindset that no one individual is bigger than the team."

Gucci aircrews also provided crucial air-to-air refueling support for the first Iraqi offensive to reclaim the Mosul Dam - a significant asset - in northern Iraq.

But offloading fuel wasn't the only mission-set the squadron was called upon for. The iconic "triple-threat" of the KC-10 Extender was similarly on display as the 9th ARS transported 3.9 million pounds of cargo and moved more than 3,000 passengers.

With a considerably high operations tempo and approximately 45 Boom Operators within the in-flight refueling section, these Airmen spent roughly 200 days of the year away from home.
According to squadron officials, this is the third time the 9th ARS has earned the Albert L. Evans award and the first time since 2006.

"We could not have achieved this award if it were not for the efforts of our entire Gucci team," said Hickman.  "This achievement is just another example of "upholding that standard and mindset."