Friday, October 31, 2014

PACAF prepares for Ebola detection and control

special Staff Report
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs


10/31/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Ebola.  It's all over the news, litters our Facebook feeds and has become a common topic of conversation.  Healthcare workers from a variety of organizations have mobilized to Africa to help fight the disease, and now, some military members have begun to deploy to Liberia to support those efforts.

But, is there cause to be worried about it in the Pacific?

"There's no need for Pacific Air Forces Airmen and their families to be worried about Ebola at this time," said Col Jeffrey Freeland, Chief, Aerospace Medicine Division at PACAF. "No cases of the disease have been reported in the PACAF area of responsibility, and all outbreaks are being closely monitored by public health teams.  However, people should be educated about it as they are about other infectious diseases."

Ebola virus disease, or EVD, is potentially deadly but it can be prevented. Symptoms appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure, but typically between eight and 10 days.  Symptoms include fever, headache, myalgia, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and unexplained hemorrhage.  Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive clinical care and the patient's immune response.

The disease is spread through direct contact, through broken skin or mucous membranes, with blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with Ebola. It can also be spread through direct contact with objects like needles and syringes that have been contaminated with the virus.

"It's important to remember that transmission requires direct contact.  It is not spread through the air, by water or in general, food," said Lt. Col. Randall Langsten, PACAF Public Health officer.  "You cannot catch Ebola by passing an infected individual in a grocery store or hallway, for example."

According to the PACAF Surgeon General's office, U.S. military members are deploying for command and control, logistics support, training, and engineering - not providing direct care to the local population. Consequently, it is unlikely that any deploying members will contract Ebola.  As a precaution, all U.S. military members deployed to affected areas will be screened for 21 days after redeployment to monitor for signs of the disease.

And what if an active case presents itself in the Asia-Pacific Region? PACAF has coordinated with the Department of Defense and the Centers for Disease Control for a rapid and joint response to any occurrence of the virus should DOD assistance be required, according to Freeland.

"We have the capability and expertise to identify potential cases of EVD and mitigate any risks that would arise if a positive diagnosis is made," said Freeland.  "Every military treatment facility in PACAF is preparing to quickly prevent any spread of the disease."

More information about EVD is available online from a variety of sources, but the PACAF Surgeon General's office encourages Airmen and their families to get information from trustworthy, reliable sources.


"The internet is full of people who don't understand the disease, but can easily share incorrect information through blogs, videos and social media sites," said Langsten.  "We absolutely want our Airmen and their families to be educated about the disease, but we want to make sure they get accurate information from scientific, reputable sources to ensure they are well-informed."

Officials List Medical Protocols for DoD Civilians



By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2014 – Pentagon officials today issued a memorandum that lays out the protocols civilian employees will follow upon return from deploying to West Africa.

DoD civilians deploy alongside service members in the fight against Ebola, and they need to follow medical protocols upon return from the region, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.

Civilian employees deploying as part of Operation Unified Assistance in western Africa must follow one of two options upon redeployment. They must choose the option they wish to follow before leaving the theater, Kirby said.

Details of Options

One option is active monitoring and return to normal activities. “Under this option, DoD civilian employees will comply with guidance from the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], state and local public health authorities unless otherwise directed,” Kirby said during a Pentagon news conference. “This includes returning to normal work duties, routines and life activities consistent with that guidance.”

DoD components will comply with active monitoring guidance in the memorandum, including twice-daily temperature checks.

The second option is to voluntarily participate in military-controlled monitoring, the press secretary said. “Under this option, DoD components will allow civilian employees to voluntarily participate in the same control procedures that military personnel will be undergoing,” Kirby said.

All service members and civilians would go through a 21-day post-deployment active monitoring period upon return. No leave or temporary duty or temporary additional duty will be authorized outside the local area, to ensure continued face-to-face monitoring, he added.

F-35 Engine Fix Coming, Program Chief Says



By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2014 – The head of the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter program office said yesterday that he expects to have decided on a permanent solution by the end of December for the design issue that caused an engine to fail in June in an F-35A at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

The engine's manufacturer, Pratt & Whitney, has offered several potential fixes, some of which already are being tested, Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan told reporters yesterday.

Micro Fractures in Titanium Part

The engine failure and subsequent fire were the result of micro fractures in one of the three-stage fan sections that compress air before it enters the engine, the general said. These sections are lined with a polyimide material that is designed to rub against the fan blades to reduce pressure loss.

In the case of AF-27, the third fan rubbed in excess of tolerance during maneuvers several weeks before the failure, causing the blades to heat to about 1,900 degrees -- 900 more than ever expected, Bogdan said. This led to micro fractures in the titanium part of the rotor, which grew over the next few weeks of flying before finally failing, he said.

"That caused that rotor to liberate from the airplane," Bogdan said. "The fire was caused not by the engine, but by the pieces of the engine that flew out through the aft upper fuselage fuel tank."

The fire led officials to ground the aircraft July 3 for fleetwide engine inspections. The aircraft returned to limited flight July 14 when no systemic issues were found, defense officials said.

"Two short mid-term fixes have already been validated," Bogdan said.

Burn-in Process

For the first, a new engine is flown in a defined profile that subjects it to a specific set of altitudes, airspeeds, G-forces and roll rates, he said.

"And in two sorties, you can burn in the engine in a very controlled way," the general said, "such that where this rubbing occurs has now been burned in, so to speak, and anything else you do with the airplane inside the envelope won't cause any more rubbing than what it has already seen."

This burn-in process already has been conducted on four of the Air Force's test aircraft, he said. The procedure takes about an hour for each sortie, and the engine is inspected after each flight. If the engine passes the second inspection, the airplane is cleared for flight within its "normal full envelope," Bogdan said.

"We've done that on four test airplanes already, validated it, it's working [and] we plan on using that on the test airplanes over the next few weeks," he noted.

Pre-trenching

The second method involves a change to the manufacturing process of the engine, the general said. Instead of designing the blades to rub on the polyimide lining of the stator walls, the lining would be "pre-trenched," he said.

"When we put the fan blade in there, no matter what we do on the airplane G-wise, speed-wise, altitude-wise, it won't rub anymore," the general said.

The new design already has been flight-tested on AF-2 and AF-4, which are developmental testing jets, he said.

"As it turns out, that solution works very, very well," Bogdan said. "We inspected the engine and we saw no signs whatsoever of any rubbing at all -- not even normal rubbing -- that we see, which leads us to believe that we can fly through the full envelope of the airplane and not have any of that heating anymore."

All 19 developmental testing aircraft will have undergone either the burn-in or pre-trenching retrofitting by the end of December, the general said, noting that the team is working with Navy and Air Force airworthiness authorities to approve the process for the more than 100 already-fielded F-35s. Pratt & Whitney is bearing the cost of retrofitting or burning in all of the fielded engines, Bogdan noted.

Time-consuming Process

It will take months to complete the fixes for all of the fielded airplanes, he said.

Two methods were needed because fabricating a set of new stators takes a week, Bogdan said.

"So if we just went with that method alone,” he said, “it would take us quite a while to replace all the engine fan sections of the fielded airplanes. … With the rub-in procedure, we can start getting to the same result by flying those airplanes through the burn-in. That's why it's important to get both those solutions out there."

Future Engine Production

Pratt & Whitney has presented several options for a long-term solution to the issue, Bogdan said:

-- Change the polyimide material to one that can handle more heat;

-- Treat the tips of the titanium fan blades to withstand more heat;

-- Pre-trenching; and

-- Some combination or combinations of the above

"We are going to take our time, and it probably won't be before the end of [December] where the enterprise -- and when I say enterprise, I mean the Navy, the Air Force [and] my engineering team -- get together and decide what is the best option for production cut-in," he said.

Whatever cut-in costs are generated by re-engineering and producing the new solution for the production engines will be paid by Pratt & Whitney, Bogdan said. "We, the government, are going to pay the nonrecurring engineering portion of that, because that's the way the … contract was built 14 years ago, and we won't go back and change that," he added.

Bogdan said he estimates it won't be until near the end of 2015 before engines are coming off the production line with the chosen solution. Once that happens, he added, any engines that are not in airplanes yet will be retrofitted.

100th SFS augmentee program back in full force

by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


10/30/2014 - RAF MILDENHALL, ENGLAND  -- Personnel from across the base scramble to secure buildings and put up barriers, as a handful of Airmen rush to the 100th Security Forces Squadron Base Defense Operation Center and exchange their traditional duties for one that requires them to wear full battle rattle and carry an M16 assault rifle.

For a few Airmen, this scenario became a reality through the security forces augmentee program. The recently revamped program helps the security forces low manning by allowing Airmen from the 100th Mission Support Group to volunteer or be selected for this special duty.

"Some of the augmentees volunteer because they joined the augmentee program at their last base and liked it, so they wanted to work with us here, " said Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Lewis, 100th SFS NCO in charge of training from Galeton, Pa.

In order to work with security forces as augmentees, Airmen have to complete training.

"We train them here [RAF Mildenhall] for two days and on the third day the augmentees go to the firing range at RAF Feltwell," said Lewis. "There's a lot of information we have to jam into a three-day period, but they are willing to learn."

Since January 2014, the 100th SFS has trained 68 augmentees who help increase  security forces' morale and quality of life.

"If we didn't have the augmentee program, we would work 12-hour shifts," Lewis said. "With augmentees, we can operate an eight-hour shift, which really helps our Airmen by improving quality of life and boosting morale. For us, when we work a 12-hour shift, we're actually working 13- to 14-hours because we are on post for 12."

According to Lewis, once trained, the augmentees can go on patrols, conduct searches and perform entry-control duties.

"These augmentees are a great force multiplier when we go up a in force protection condition." said Lewis.

The base conducted an exercise Oct. 8, which required a few augmentees to be called to action. Once notified, the Airmen had to report to BDOC to retrieve equipment and get information about the current situation.

"I was working on one of the cop cars and then I got a call to come in," said Airman 1st Class David Rodriguez, 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance apprentice from Brandon, Fla. "So I reported in, grabbed my gear and went to my post."

Lewis, along with his colleagues, were impressed with the response time.

"When the recall was initiated, it took 10 minutes and 45 seconds for the augmentees selected to get here," said Lewis. "They were really excited to work with us and they did a great job."

For Rodriguez it was a valuable learning experience.

"It was a lot more in-depth than what I thought it would be," said Rodriguez. "I was able to see how our defenders communicate, bond, operate and take control of situations."

Bataan Amphibious Ready Group Returns To Homeport



By USS Bataan Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- More than 4,000 Sailors and Marines from the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) completed a nine-month deployment, returning to Naval Station Norfolk, Va. and Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va. Oct. 31, and Camp Lejeune, N.C. Oct. 28. While deployed, the Bataan ARG/MEU served in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility (AOR).

The ARG includes the flagship, the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) with embarked Assault Craft Unit 4 and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) with embarked Assault Craft Unit 4 (also embarked on Bataan), and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) with embarked Assault Craft Unit 2.

During the deployment, the Bataan ARG conducted maritime security operations, theater security cooperation and provided a forward naval presence in the U.S. Navy's 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation.

"I'm extremely proud of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group Sailors and Marines. As I approach 29 years of service, I have never seen a more efficient, dedicated, or combat ready team. Operating forward, they repeatedly executed missions with precision and unmatched zeal to win," said Capt. Neil Karnes, commodore, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) Six. "Whether rescuing more than 280 migrants from certain death at sea or inserting forces ashore to support humanitarian efforts, the Bataan ARG/MEU team accomplished every mission assigned with resounding success. After this deployment, I am no longer concerned with who will lead tomorrow's Navy and Marine Corps. I witnessed first-hand the commitment and professionalism of America's best, our young men and women of the Naval Service, they get it; we are in good hands."

The ARG participated in several multinational exercises designed to strengthen coalition partnerships and reinforce regional security and stability, including Spanish Amphibious Exercise (PHIBLEX) 14 and Eager Lion 2014 exercise, as well as bi-lateral training with the Greek and French. The 22 MEU supported an assessment of humanitarian options in support of displaced Iraqi civilians trapped on Sinjar Mountain by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and conducted surveillance and reconnaissance missions and fixed-wing strike missions in Iraq in August and September with aircraft based aboard Bataan.

Bataan was also involved in two rescues at sea. On March 8, Bataan rescued two Turkish mariners from their sinking cargo ship in the Aegean Sea. On June 6, the ARG participated in the rescue 282 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea after their small vessel sank.

The Bataan ARG ships were the first to benefit from the Navy's newly approved Hardship Duty Pay - Tempo (HDP-T). HDP-T, effective Sept. 17, compensates Sailors and Marines on deployments beyond 220 consecutive days.

"I think it's important that the younger Sailors who are experience a long and arduous deployment for the first time understand that the Navy recognizes their hard work, and is prepared to offer monetary reward for it," said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Charles Kirby, from Wilson, N.C.

The Makin Island ARG and 11th MEU relieved the Bataan ARG in the 5th Fleet AOR, October 2.