Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mullen Calls Treaty Ratification 'Right Thing to Do'

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 18, 2010 - The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia is "the right thing for us to do," the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, who spoke for all of the service chiefs during his testimony, urged the senators to vote to ratify the agreement.

Mullen said the conclusions and recommendations that grew from the Nuclear Posture Review informed the negotiations with Russia.

"The chiefs and I believe the new START treaty achieves important and necessary balance between three critical aims," Mullen said. "It allows us to retain a strong and flexible American nuclear deterrent. It ... strengthens openness and transparency in our relationship with Russia. It also demonstrates our national commitment to reducing the worldwide risk of nuclear incidents resulting from the continuing proliferation of nuclear weapons."

The chairman stressed that the treaty's central limits allows each side the freedom to determine its own force mix. The treaty also provides the United States with the flexibility to field the right force structure to meet the nation's needs.

"We plan to retain our triad of bombers, ballistic-missile submarines and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles in sufficient diversity and numbers to assure strategic stability between ourselves and the Russian Federation," Mullen said. "We will also maintain sufficient capability to deter other nuclear states."

Mullen said the treaty provides an array of verification measures to ensure compliance.

"This treaty is also a critical element in the president's agenda for reducing nuclear risks to the United States, our allies and partners and the wider international community," the chairman said.

START is important by itself, and should also be viewed in wider context, Mullen told the senators.

"It makes meaningful reductions in the U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals while strengthening strategic stability and U.S. national security," he said. "Coupled with the administration's clear commitment to prudently invest in our aging nuclear infrastructure and in nuclear-warhead life extension programs, this treaty is a very meaningful step forward."

City of Bremerton Honors Veterans

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chantel M. Clayton, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Det. Northwest

May 18, 2010 - BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Service members throughout Kitsap County participated in the 62nd Annual Dignity Memorial Armed Forces Day Parade in Bremerton, Wash., May 15.

The parade is one of the many events during Armed Forces Week, where the city of Bremerton pays tribute to all veterans past and present.

"The city of Bremerton is integrated with the military, and this is our way of honoring our veterans and active duty service members," said Greg Wheeler, District 5 council member, City of Bremerton. "They are very important to us. Bremerton is a one-of-a-kind city. We are very welcoming and accepting of the military."

According to Chris Larsen, chairman of the Armed Forces Festival in Bremerton, this armed forces parade is the longest-running parade of its kind in the country. A parade in honor of a local war hero blossomed into a national day for all cities to honor all who have served.

"Sixty-two years ago it started here in Bremerton because of a man named John Bud Hawk, who was a war hero, and for two years this town put on a parade in his honor," said Larsen. "Our nation decided to set aside the third Saturday of May, 60 years ago, to hold up on high, all of the men and women of the armed forces."

Larsen also added that this year's parade has been the largest so far.

"There were 147 different entries in the parade, with each group having anywhere from 10 to 500 people in their respective groups. Approximately 40,000 people lined the streets along the parade route to watch, with nearly 500 volunteers helping with the parade," said Larsen.

Active duty service members who participated in the parade felt a great sense of appreciation for the support the city gives to its military citizens.

"It's an honor to participate in today's parade. Just the idea of being in the largest, longest running Armed Forces Day parade in America is just amazing," said Sonar Technician (Submarine) 1st Class (SS) Zachary Neubauer from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility. "It's a good feeling to see the public's support of the military. There are a lot of places that don't have this kind of support, and I guess we're very lucky here in Kitsap County to have this kind of support."

Many veterans also walked the parade route, and they too, were appreciative of the support the city demonstrated.

"Being here is an emotional high," said Signalman 2nd Class Burke Waldron, a Navy veteran who served from 1943 to 1946. "I can't express in words, but it's just a great feeling to see the support for the military. The interaction with the crowd is just great."

Larsen credits the support of the bases throughout the area to help make the parade a success.

"With all of the help and support from Naval Base Kitsap, I just can't tell how over the top this year's parade is. By far, this is the largest," said Larsen. "I don't think there's any other town in America that loves their military more than Bremerton. We should be celebrating Armed Forces Day every day, because we want this to be the number one homeport for all of our service members. This is a safe and happy place, a place that loves and supports the military."

Swift Sailors Deliver Project Handclasp Aid in Jamaica

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Rachael Leslie, Swift (HSV 2) Public Affairs

May 18, 2010 - PORT ANTONIO, Jamaica (NNS) -- Sailors on board high speed vessel Swift (HSV 2) made two Project Handclasp aid deliveries in Port Antonio, Jamaica, May 12.

The group first visited the Port Antonio Hospital, where it delivered basic medical supplies, stuffed toys and other much-needed equipment such as stretchers, electro-surgery machines, suction machines and food items.

"I'm very honored to be able to transport the material that was brought to this hospital for you all from the United States," said Capt. Kurt Hedberg, mission commander of Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2010. "It's fantastic being here in Jamaica, and I hope we can extend this partnership long into the future."

The Navy's Project Handclasp program is designed to transport educational, humanitarian and goodwill material on a space-available basis aboard U.S. Navy ships for distribution to foreign nation recipients.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the U.S. Navy, along with the U.S. Embassy, for this donation," said Wendy Allen-Davis, senior medical officer at the Port Antonio Hospital. "We hope that we will continue this partnership and that we can also look forward for these gifts we are so very grateful for in the future."

Swift Sailors also stopped at the Port Antonio Infant School to deliver boxes of school supplies and toys. The Sailors also had the opportunity to spend some time playing and talking with the children at the school.

"It made me so happy to be able to interact with the children today," said Yeoman 1st Class (SW) Ursula Wilson, from New York. "It was great to be able to bring smiles to their faces and to both give and get hugs from them."

SPS 2010 is a deployment of various specialty platforms to the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR) in the Caribbean and Latin America, with the primary goal of information sharing with navies, coast guards and civilian services throughout the region. This is the fourth SPS deployment in the USSOUTHCOM AOR and the vision is to continue this effort to maintain a persistent presence in the region as a way to further enhance strong relationships.

Swift is operated and navigated by 17 civilian contract mariners working for a private company under charter to the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command.

Navy Week Concludes with Spokane Lilac Festival Torchlight Parade

By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Susan Hammond, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs

May 18, 2010 - SPOKANE, Wash. (NNS) -- More than 160,000 people from Spokane, Wash., surrounding communities and visitors attended the 72nd Spokane Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade May 15.

The parade was the conclusion of Spokane Navy Week during which the Navy Office of Community Outreach, Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Seattle and Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Spokane joined forces to showcase the Navy May 10-15.

Spokane Navy Week, anchored alongside Spokane's Lilac Festival, was one of 20 Navy Weeks being held across the United States in 2010.

"It's a privilege and honor to have the Navy with us this week," said Spokane Mayor Mary Verner. "The city wants to honor and thank the Navy and all our military."

Highlighting the Navy's participation in the festival, Vice Adm. Bruce W. Clingan, deputy chief of naval operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy (N3/N5), served as an honorary grand marshal of the Lilac Festival Parade. Clingan also made appearances at the Spokane Sea Services Museum, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 51 and NOSC Spokane May 15.

"I am privileged to serve with you," said Clingan, addressing the Navy Reservists at NOSC Spokane. "You have a vocal advocate for your service and your needs."

Clingan and Rear Adm. James A. Symonds, commander, Navy Region Northwest, also participated in several engagements earlier in the week.

Clingan helped judge a car show during festival activities in Riverside Park in downtown Spokane. He was also interviewed by radio personalities broadcasting live in the park.

Navy Region Northwest's rock band, "Passage," entertained park visitors prior to the parade, and a Navy simulator, featuring live-action Navy films programmed to move in sync with point-of-view imagery presented on a large screen, provided additional entertainment.

Spokane's Navy Week was packed with Navy Band concerts, civic, corporate and area school engagements and history presentations, as well as other community service projects supported by Sailors from USS Constitution, NOSC Spokane and NRD Seattle. Sailors volunteered at the regional food bank and helped at a Habitat for Humanity job site.

Blue Angels Highlight Joint Service Open House

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Clifford L. H. Davis, Naval Air Facility Washington Public Affairs

May 18, 2010 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. (NNS) -- As the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration team roared overhead, more than 79,000 visitors at the Joint Service Open House stood in awe at the spectacle at Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility Washington on May 15 and 16.

The two-day event kicked off with opening comments from Lt. Gen. Phillip M. Breedlove, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans and Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington. Steven Shepro, commander 316th Wing and Installation Commander of Joint Base Andrews, and the national anthem being sung by Ms. Brook Poklemba, Miss Maryland 2009.

"This air show is a way to thank the community in the Washington capital region for all the support that they give all the branches of the military," said Capt. Timothy Fox, commanding officer of Naval Air Facility, Washington. "It's special because of the fact that it hosts every branch and presents an air show that highlights the power and projection of the U.S. military."

The Joint Service Open House at Andrews showcased aerial performers from all branches of the military services, as well as civilian stunt pilots and dozens of ground displays.

Other aerial highlight included the Army's Golden Knights parachute team, an Air Force F-22 Raptor and a Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier.

The Blue Angels generally alternate with the Air Force Thunderbirds for the open house, which has been held nearly every year since the 1940s.

This was the first Joint Service Open House conducted by Team Andrews members at the newly minted Joint Base Andrews, underscoring the essential nature of joint operations in today's military.

Sasebo Motorcyclists Stay Safe Through Training, Practice

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Casey H. Kyhl, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det., Sasebo

May 18, 2010 - SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo (CFAS) Sailors and DoD civilians participated in a motorcycle safety training course May 14 in Sasebo, Japan.

According to the Joint Service Safety Council, motorcycle safety and training is the number one non-combat safety concern across the services.

May is Motorcycle Safety Month and is geared to lowering the annual number of motorcycle accidents and fatalities among service members.

"Riders need to have safety on their minds every time they climb onto a bike," said Roland Kallead, CFAS traffic safety instructor. "They need to wear the proper personal protective equipment and know how to skillfully control their bikes. This course teaches that."

The course began with an overview of motorcycle riding and its inherent dangers.

Takachi Ueno, lead instructor and a Japanese motorcycle police officer, spoke with each participant about the capabilities of their motorcycles. The specifics of cruisers, power scooters, sport, enduro and touring bikes were all discussed.

"The most important aspect of motorcycle safety is knowing your bike," said Ueno. "Every type of bike rides differently."

"Motorcycle Safety Month isn't just for motorcycle riders," said Kallead. "Warmer weather will bring more motorcycles onto the streets, and all drivers need to be aware of that and look out for them. A community of defensive drivers would be a safe one to travel through."

Kallead said that the most common mistakes riders make are speeding and trying to push the envelope.

"Courses like this serve to break bad habits before they start," said Lt. Mark Ames, USS Denver (LPD 9) command chaplain. "This is the third safety course I have attended since I began riding, and I know it keeps me riding safely."

Thirteen participants navigated various skill courses and practiced emergency braking for more than two hours, while four Japanese motorcycle police officers performed examples and offered advice.

"This course improves the skills and techniques of the participants so that they will be better prepared for the hazards and normal obstacles they will come across out in town," said Kellead. "Motorcycle safety is not luck. It's about practice, training and being prepared."

Wasp Puts Sexual Assault Awareness in the Forefront

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Justin Thomas, USS Wasp Public Affairs

May 18, 2010 - USS WASP, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Wasp (LHD 1) took time, in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, to acknowledge this serious issue that people all over the nation face almost daily.

According to the Navy's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response website, approximately 35 new sexual assault cases are initiated each month by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

During fiscal year 2009, aggravated sexual assault comprised 43 percent of reports, wrongful sexual contact comprised 20 percent, and rape reports 15 percent. Statistics also show that 62 percent of all Navy reported sexual assaults were service member on service member, making it what is widely believed to be one of the most under-reported crimes in the Navy and nation.

In an April 16 podcast to the fleet, Rear Adm. Dan Holloway, director of the Navy's personnel, plans and policy division said, "the Navy stands behind the nation in its efforts to raise awareness and promote the prevention of sexual assault across the country by focusing on internal initiatives, programs, and policies during Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the theme, 'Hurts one, affects all.' Preventing sexual assault is everyone's duty."

Holloway encouraged individuals to embrace their role in stepping forward to stop sexual assault and underscored the services efforts to eradicate sexual assault among its ranks.

According to Ensign Jodi Biermann, Wasp's sexual assault prevention and response coordinator (SAPR), the significance of the month cannot be understated because it affords Sailors an opportunity to learn about a topic that is often considered taboo.

"This month is a time to reflect on how SAPR offers preventative education, victim intervention services, and comprehensive victim advocacy," said Biermann. "Also, it promotes sensitive, coordinated and effective management of sexual assault cases with command Sexual Assault Victim Intervention representatives and medical personnel."

In 2005, the Pentagon created the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office to coordinate military-wide education and response efforts by a network of sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates. This office allowed service members to make confidential "restricted" reports of sexual assaults — to seek care without triggering an investigation — in order to get more victims to come forward.

Sexual assaults are considered by many to be purely a physical attack; however, sexual assaults can affect a person's psyche, and leave a person's family traumatized with feelings of guilt because they weren't able to "protect" the victim.

"[A sexual assault victim's] family and friends can suffer just as well as they do," said Biermann. "Guilt is a large ordeal that the family will go through, and it can make the situation for all parties involved even more difficult."

The Department of Defense's has a zero tolerance policy regarding sexual assaults and offenses are punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

"Sexual assault is not acceptable in any situation, whether it is an unwanted touch of any kind, or even the worst case of rape," said Logistics Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Annie Davis. "I'm glad that there are various programs such as the SAVI, which assists and empowers victims to get the help they need to move on from such a tragedy."

Recalled Helmets No 'Direct Risk' to Soldiers

By Army Master Sgt. Doug Sample
Army News Service

May 17, 2010 - The Army recall of 44,000 Advanced Combat Helmets that were issued to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is the result of a Department of Justice investigation as well as independent tests that show the helmets do not meet Army standards, military officials said today.

Army officials say the recalled helmets are not a "direct risk" to soldiers.

Army Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller told reporters today that while the helmets failed to meet Army standards, there is no evidence that any soldier was ever harmed from their use. The recalled helmets provided a safe degree of protection, Fuller said, but they were "just not up to our standards." The Army, he said, is withdrawing the helmets from the field.

Fuller heads up Program Executive Office-Soldier, a Fort Belvoir, Va.,-based organization that oversees the development and testing of Army equipment.

The recall involves about 4 percent of about 1.6 million Advanced Combat Helmets that are in the Army's inventory, PEO-Soldier officials said.

Fuller said the Army issued a May 13 directive to combatant commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan calling for the immediate turn-in of helmets manufactured by ArmorSource, the contractor.

The recall, Fuller explained, is the result of a Department of Justice investigation, and individual tests conducted at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., which proved the helmet did not meet Army standards. The general said he could not elaborate on the DOJ findings because of the ongoing investigation.

"Our number-one mission is to ensure every soldier's lethal survivability equipment can survive in any environment, and a helmet is a personal piece of equipment that provides that survivability," Fuller said. "We want to make sure they never have any question as to whether or not this will be able to stop what it needs to stop."

Fuller said the Army began the recall process immediately upon notification of the DOJ investigation and after the results of independent testing revealed flaws in the ballistic capability of the helmet. In January, the Army was notified by the DOJ of the investigation after the paint on some helmets began peeling. The helmets were then subjected to further tests by the Army, which determined the ballistic defect.

The recall notice was issued as a precautionary measure, Fuller said.

So far, none of the recalled helmets have been found at the Bagram Airfield Central Issue Facility, the main supply hub for troops deployed in Afghanistan, PEO-Soldier officials said.

Mike Brown, the director of supply for Army logistics, said helmet inspections are currently underway in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recalled helmets are being turned in, he said.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bernard C. McPherson, the PEO-Soldier senior enlisted advisor, said the Army is working at every level to ensure all affected helmets are accounted for.

"Helmets in the field will be detected during pre-combat checks and inspections by sergeants and [other] leaders," McPherson said.

Army Col. William Cole, the project manager for Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment, said ArmorSource had manufactured roughly 102,000 of the Advanced Combat Helmets. Of that number, he said, 55,000 helmets remain in the warehouse supply system, with about 3,000 having been issued to other services through the Defense Supply Center, Philadelphia.

The Army is committed to finding and obtaining all of the defective helmets, Cole said. "That's why we are doing this through diligence, right now, to find them," he said.

The Army has three other helmet manufacturers. They are: MSA North America, BAE Systems, and Gentex Corp.

Navy Announces New SRB levels

From Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

May 18, 2010 - WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Navy has adjusted Selective Reenlistment Program (SRB) levels to match reenlistment needs for critical skills and ratings, including the hardest to fill areas such as nuclear operators, Aegis fire controlmen, and air intercept controllers.

NAVADMIN 175/10 approves 24 increases in SRB award levels and 10 decreases. Award levels in 124 categories remain unchanged, one was added and 12 award levels were removed.

"The Selective Reenlistment Bonus program allows Navy to properly incentivize high-demand Sailors with critical skills in order to maintain a prepared force, which is ready and able to execute global operations in today's complex security environment," said Rear Adm. Dan Holloway, director of Navy's Personnel, Plans and Policy division. "Having a flexible and responsive SRB program helps minimize over or under execution of critical skill retention goals and allows Navy to maximize use of our allotted resources."

SRB is a dynamic market-based incentive designed to retain Sailors in the Navy's most critical ratings and NECs. The science of behavioral economics informs our decisions when we adjust SRB.

"People are our most valuable resource and we are a world class Navy because of their skills and professional dedication," said Holloway. "The intent of the SRB is to reward those who attain training in skills most critical to Navy's current needs and mission requirements. We know our Sailors have a strong direct effect on all readiness resource areas; we must never forget this."

Sesame Street Entertains Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek Families

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Stratton, Navy Public Affairs Support Element - East

May 18, 2010 - VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Local military families from the Hampton Roads, Va., community enjoyed four performances by five characters from the hit children's TV show, "Sesame Street," at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek's Gator Theater May 15–16. Sponsored by United Service Organizations (USO), the 25-minute "Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families," featuring Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster, Rosita and Zoe, is designed to address the concerns of today's military families as they deal with the hardships of deployments and lengthy separations.

"The show is based on 'Sesame Workshop's Talk, Listen, Connect' DVD," said Lonnie Cooper, USO tour producer for the show. "It serves as a resource to help military families deal with the challenges of having a parent deploy, while also providing family entertainment."

Not only did singing and dancing fill the air, but so did the message the puppets had for the packed auditorium.

"It's the messages in the songs that really resonate with kids and parents," said Cooper. "I can't tell you how many times I've heard how a family went to the show, listened to the messages and then went home and listened to what their kids had to say about the experience."

"I couldn't agree more with what the show brings home to military families," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (FMF) Kristopher Duncan, assigned to USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79). "I'm about to deploy, so sharing this experience with my wife and little girl was good for us."

"I've been in [the Navy] for 15 years, and this was my first experience with the program," continued Duncan. "The show was great and my daughter loved it."

Planning for the show took time and careful consideration.

"Sesame Workshop and the USO have worked hard to bring the tour to life and onto the doorsteps of today's military families," said Cooper. "Countless hours have gone into this process as each installation we present the show at is carefully and thoughtfully planned out."

Cooper added that installations with the greatest deployment rates are put at the very top of the list when choosing where to perform next.

What began in 2008 is now the longest-running entertainment tour in USO history and the first-ever traveling USO tour designed specifically for military families.

It has logged more than 45,500 miles spanning nine countries and has been viewed by more than 120,000 service members and their families at 76 military bases.

U.S., Vietnam servicemembers continue humanitarian efforts

by Capt. Timothy Lundberg
36th Wing Public Affairs

5/17/2010 - TRUONG THANH, Vietnam (AFNS) -- U.S. and Vietnamese servicemembers continued their humanitarian efforts in villages surrounding Can Tho as part of Operation Pacific Angel 2010 scheduled through May 15 here.

The U.S. and Vietnamese civil engineering teams supporting Pacific Angel 2010 have increased the maximum capacity of two local village clinics here and in Tan Thoi, Vietnam. The CE teams installed lights, repainted walls, installed new ceiling fans, windows and doors at the clinics. Rooms at both clinics received final touch-ups, and site clean-up continues at both sites. Additional masonry and signage was also completed at both sites.

In addition to work being provided by civil engineers here, the U.S. and Vietnamese medical teams provided care for 1,605 patient visits to the pediatrics, family practice, optometry, dental, and women's health clinics respectively. Of the 1,605 patient visits, 474 were at pediatrics, 582 at family practice, 328 at optometry, 126 at dental, 95 to the women's health clinic and 3,500 prescriptions were provided to those patients seen.

Despite the language barriers between U.S. and Vietnamese servicemembers, translators are helping to make the mission a success. The translators are helping to ensure two-way communication between doctor and patient is effectively communicated and patients receive proper care and treatment during their visit.

"We grab meds and we give them to the Vietnamese pharmacists," said Airman 1st Class Hai Nguyen, from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. "And if they have any questions about any of the (prescriptions) that our doctors write in English, I'll go ahead and translate it for them."

Operation Pacific Angel is a Pacific Air Forces program led by the 13th Air Force at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

The operation is a joint and combined humanitarian assistance operation conducted in the Pacific area in support of the members of the U.S. Pacific Command's capacity-building efforts. It also provides an opportunity for civil and military operators to train together with a focus on civic assistance.

Air Force senior leaders take FY 2011 budget request to Capitol Hill

by Tech. Sgt. Amaani Lyle
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

5/17/2010 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force's top two leaders addressed the service's fiscal year 2011 budget request before the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee May 12 here.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz explained how the request for baseline funds of $119.6 billion and overseas contingency operations funds of $20.8 billion would enable the service to prevail in current and future conflicts as outlined in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review.

During opening remarks, the secretary said Air Force officials will continue to balance resources and risks as they invests in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; space and space-related systems; and surge operations in Afghanistan.

"Our priorities are clear, we must make the most of those resources available to balance capability against risk and balance winning today's wars against preparing for tomorrow's," Secretary Donley said. "We must prevent and deter future conflict where we can and continue to be prepared for and succeed across the full spectrum of conflict."

All Airmen understand the importance of fulfilling their mission, guided everyday by the Air Force core values, General Schwartz said.

"The United States Air Force is fully committed to effective stewardship that (the Senate) and the nation place in our trust," General Schwartz said. "Guided by integrity, service and excellence, our core values, America's Airmen are performing courageously every day with precision and reliability on behalf of the American people."

The secretary and the chief responded to questions from the senators on a variety of subjects ranging from force structure to maintaining the aerospace industrial base. Of particular interest to the committee was Air Force officials' progress on the service's recapitalization efforts for its tanker and fighter fleet, as well as manpower, given rising personnel costs.

Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman of the subcommittee and the Senate Appropriations Committee, asked how the service planned to meet personnel requirements in new and emerging missions.

Secretary Donley answered, "This has been a tremendous challenge that the Air Force has stepped up to do.

"Our end strength is planned to be stable at about 330,000, but inside that active-duty end-strength, we are making the internal adjustments necessary to man the (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) systems and the intelligence support as it comes online," Secretary Donley said.

The Senate Appropriations Committee-Defense testimony was the final Air Force Posture hearing to Congress on the FY11 budget request.

(Master Sgt. Russell Petcoff and Tech. Sgt. Phyllis Hanson contributed to this story.)

U.S. Air Force delivers humanitarian cargo to flood-stricken Tajikistan

by Capt. Justin Brockhoff
618th Tanker Airlift Control Center Public Affairs

5/17/2010 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- An Air Mobility Command C-17 Globemaster III aircrew delivered approximately 100,000 pounds of humanitarian supplies valued at $250,000 to Tajikistan May 16, following two weeks of flooding and mudslides in the nation.

The flooding, caused by heavy annual rains, killed at least 24 people, destroyed homes, schools and flooded hundreds of roadways. The cargo delivered by U.S. forces includes tents and other supplies to provide temporary shelter for families displaced by the disaster.

The C-17 and its crew are assigned to the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron in Southwest Asia. They flew the mission from their deployed location to Kulob, Tajikistan, approximately 70 miles southwest of Dushanbe, the Tajik capital. The mission was operated in coordination with Soldiers from the 321st Civil Affairs Brigade.

Airmen from the 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. planned, tasked and acted as command and control for the region. As the 18th Air Force's hub for global operations, members of the 618th TACC plan, schedule and direct a fleet of nearly 1,300 mobility aircraft in support of strategic airlift, air refueling and aeromedical evacuation operations around the world.

"The C-17 crews and aircraft that make up the expeditionary airlift squadrons are deployed primarily to provide airlift and airdrop capabilities to (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and (Operation Enduring Freedom)," said Capt. Dan O'Keefe, a C-17 pilot and the lead 618th TACC mission planner for the relief mission. "But our operations are flexible and the missions we coordinate from the 618th TACC can move other requirements when and where they're needed."

Planning for a humanitarian effort is a more complicated compared to everyday planning for missions flying in Iraq and Afghanistan, Captain O'Keefe said.

"In this case, we're moving away from the established process we have for flying missions in OIF and OEF and adding more layers of coordination since we're flying into a different country," he said. "It has taken continuous, ongoing communication with (Central Command) officials, direct coordination with the Defense Attaché's Office at the Embassy in Tajikistan and more."

The response in Tajikistan comes while AMC Airmen are still actively engaged in recovery efforts in Haiti, following the 7.0-magnitude quake that devastated the nation in mid-January.

"Our role as Air Mobility Command's execution arm is to support the needs of U.S. and coalition troops around the world, but we can quickly shift our operations to support a humanitarian operation when a disaster strikes," said Brig. Gen. Randy A. Kee, the 618th TACC vice commander. "That was the case when we started operations in Haiti in January and again when we delivered supplies to Chile after an earthquake there a couple months later. Now, we're working to answer that call again, this time in Tajikistan, all while continuing to fly missions in support Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom."