Military News

Friday, November 30, 2012

AFMC promotes wellness screening campaign

Air Force Materiel Command Wellness Support Center

11/27/2012 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Throughout December and January, Air Force Materiel Command will be promoting the "Do You Know Your Numbers" wellness campaign. This campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of knowing your numbers to help prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

"To better understand their health status, it is helpful for individuals to know how they compare to recommended health indicators," said AFMC's Wellness Coordinator Greg Chadwick. "These indicators are a list of 'numbers' -- blood pressure, good and bad cholesterol, blood glucose, and body mass index are all numbers that help individuals identify their own health status."

The goal of the "Do You Know Your Numbers" campaign is to increase participation in Cardio Risk Profile screenings and educate individuals on how risk factors impact their health, with particular attention given to those risk factors that can be improved by changes in lifestyle behavior. Early identification and management of risk factors can help individuals stay healthy and live a long, productive life.

The CRP wellness screening is available through Civilian Health Promotion Services and is free to all Department of Defense (appropriated fund) AFMC civilian employees. For more information regarding CRP screenings, contact your local CHPS team or visit www.afmcwellness.com.

Driving ‘Full Throttle’ into Global Strike Command

by Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

11/30/2012 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.  -- The American300 'Full Throttle' tour is headed to Minot F.E.Warren . and Malmstrom Air Force Bases, to talk about driving in the dirt, coping with adversity and achieving your goals, in support of Air Force Global Strike Command's resiliency initiative to strengthen the human weapon system.

"This tour features some of the best 4x4 dirt truck drivers in America" said Carla Pampe, from the Air Force Global Strike Command Quality of life team. "But the tour is more about meeting the needs of our Airmen, the first step in overcoming adversity, is understanding that you are not alone. Others have walked this path before you, and can help show the way.

The Full throttle, tour is scheduled to visit F.E.Warren, Malmstrom and Minot on Dec 3-6, and will feature guest speakers Chad Hord and Nicole Johnson.

Nicole Johnson is more than just a professional rockcrawler, offroad racer and monster truck driver. As a mom, wife and small business owner, Nicole encourages Airmen to achieve their goals through hard work and discipline.

Chad Hord's journey to the top of the ranks in professional off-road racing has been one of trial and error, success and defeat. He runs the team with his wife, Amy and together they have managed to balance the demands of professional high profile racing with their families children and the many needs of day to day life.

Speakers on the AFGSC 'Never Quit' series have included Olympic and XGames athletes: Sean Colgan, Dan Beery, Mike Schultz, Erin Simmons and Kurt Yaeger, in addition to former military members such as former Army ranger "Mad Max" Mullen, and William "Spanky" Gibson the first above knee amputee to redeploy with his prosthetic to the front lines in Iraq among others.

The intent of 'Never Quit,' along with several other professional development and resiliency programs, is to address quality of life for Airmen throughout the command.

Revamped Transition Assistance Program prepares vets for civilian life

by Senior Airman Brigitte N. Brantley
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


11/30/2012 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- From the moment servicemembers join the military, they are told where to be, when to be there and what to do.

When the time comes for them to separate or retire, the transition to a less-structured civilian life can be challenging.

"Transition Goals Planning Success," an overhauled version of the traditional Transition Assistance Program servicemembers attend before leaving active duty, was implemented military-wide Nov. 21.

"The goal of the new program is for veterans to be career-ready when they leave the military and to reduce their unemployment and homeless numbers," said Brigit Hendrix, the Airman & Family Readiness Center's TAP coordinator. "The new program focuses on what each individual needs to succeed and be career-ready. The new curriculum gives them the tools they will need, whether they want to go to college, get a job or start a business. Transition GPS provides them with the necessary resources to get on track."

The call for a revamped TAP came directly from President Barack Obama, who in late 2011 tasked the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs, along with other government agencies, to reform the program.

The original program was pre-separation counseling followed by an optional three-day workshop. Transition GPS steps it up by making the five- to seven-day program mandatory and incorporating individual counseling.

Participants are still briefed on VA benefits and counseled on finances. Each still prepares an individual transition plan on their planned path: education, entrepreneurship or technical training.

"The DOD puts a lot of effort into helping veterans be prepared when they get out," said Col. Joseph Atkins, 8th Mission Support Group commander. "In the past, the class was optional so they were breaking away without the tools or resources they needed. Now, veterans will separate or retire with a better idea of what they need to do next."

One of the toughest parts for transitioning veterans can be translating their military experience into useful civilian skills. For example, a security forces member who led a fire team while deployed could highlight managing teams in stressful situations.

"I definitely feel more prepared coming out of this class than I did before," said Senior Airman Paul Foster, an 8th Maintenance Squadron nondestructive inspector who is separating next year to work in the energy field. "The most useful thing I'm getting out of it is the resume-writing skills. We're learning how to organize the information to get an advantage when finding a job. It's nice to know the military is helping its people out."

Transition GPS will be implemented in all services, including the Coast Guard, by the end of 2013.

Haven't been there, still done that: Non-deployed members suffering combat PTSD

by Dr. (Maj.) Dennis P. Tansley
8th Medical Operation Squadron Mental Health Flight commander


11/30/2012 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- -- "They can't have Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, they haven't really deployed!" a supervisor said in disbelief when discussing a member who had deployed to a country far from any combat action.

A commander at another base once insisted, "no way, they haven't even been downrange" when one of their members was diagnosed with PTSD.

Some believe that an individual must actually be near a combat zone in order to develop PTSD symptoms. That's not necessarily true. I have worked with members at multiple installations who were diagnosed with combat-related PTSD, yet hadn't physically been to combat zones.

There's also a good amount of research showing that it's possible to develop PTSD by watching videos, such as Predator reconnaissance and combat feeds, seeing photos, hearing or reading stories of traumatic events from downrange.

Bottom line: someone could be half way around the world when they're exposed to a combat situation and still develop PTSD symptoms. It's the exposure to the traumatic stressors, events, or situations and not necessarily actually being there that's key to understanding the potential for personnel to develop PTSD symptoms. Additionally, repeated or continuous exposure to traumatic events could also heighten the chances of developing PTSD.

One of the most researched cases where people have developed PTSD symptoms while being geographically removed from an actual traumatic event occurred on Sept. 11, 2001. After 9/11, multiple research studies, to include those by the Veterans Affairs' National Center for PTSD, showed that the more people in the general population watched the attacks on TV, no matter where they were in the U.S., the more they experienced anxiety and PTSD symptoms.

It's important to understand some degree of PTSD symptoms, such as avoidance, emotional numbing, and being on guard are normal and adaptive survival reactions to extremely abnormal situations. Personally, I tend to be a little hyper-vigilant when I'm downrange.

We may see some kind of stress reaction in returning members because war is stressful business. It doesn't matter if they saw combat while in Afghanistan, were deployed away from the action, or even at their home station. We also expect them to recover over time and see their symptoms fade away when removed from the stressful situation.

However, this doesn't always happen. There are times when the symptoms remain or worsen over time. Some symptoms to look out for include: disturbing memories, avoiding things that trigger painful memories, nightmares, flashbacks, intense anxiety or anger, irritability, and jumpiness. This can be thought of as members not being able to recover from their extremely abnormal experiences.

Doctors Patricia Resick, Candice Monson, and Kathleen Chard described it in their 2011 manual for treating PTSD, "Because we know that PTSD symptoms are nearly universal immediately following very serious traumatic stressors and that recovery takes a few months under normal circumstances, it may be best to think about diagnosable PTSD as a disruption or stalling out of a normal recovery process, rather than the development of a unique psychopathology."

On Treatment
I have worked with members diagnosed with PTSD related to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom - without even being in the Middle East; they were exposed to live or recorded combat, torture and beheadings by the enemy and other similar events from a distance.

The most effective treatments shown time and again for helping personnel recover from their traumatic experiences, embrace the concepts of exposure therapy, or desensitization. With this kind of treatment, people recover by first talking and or writing about the traumatic events, and going through a guided process to help them learn ways to recover from the PTSD.

Members cannot fully recover from their traumatic experiences unless they deal with them. Avoiding or "suppressing" the memories does not work - it's like putting a band-aid on an arterial wound...ineffective - and will likely lead to other problems in a person's life.

Treatment helps them better understand what's going on in their lives and why. Through therapy and support, our military members can learn skills to recover from PTSD in order to live a fuller life.

A few of the more widely used research-based treatments in today's military include Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure Therapy, both individual modes of treatment, and Conjoint Couples Therapy, which treats both PTSD symptoms and relationship dysfunction in couples. The U.S. military has also adopted using virtual reality software to help simulate combat situations in psychotherapy sessions.

In conclusion, members don't have to actually go to war to experience PTSD symptoms. It's the exposure to traumatic events that precipitates or exacerbates these symptoms. If you or someone you know is suffering from war-related experiences, please seek help.

Even if you've never set foot in a combat zone, but have been exposed to war in some fashion - torture and beheadings by the enemy or other similar events, you could still be suffering from PTSD. I suggest you visit your local military and family life consultant, chaplain or mental health provider and take the first step into a better future for you and your family. If you are feeling overwhelmed or suicidal, call DSN: 118 to be connected to a crisis hotline.

Oregon National Guard, Vietnam Sign Partnership Pact


Oregon Army National Guard

SALEM, Ore., Nov. 30, 2012 – The Oregon National Guard signed a pact with Vietnam as part of the State Partnership Program during a Nov. 27 ceremony in Hanoi.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, adjutant general of the Oregon National Guard, and Vietnam Lt. Gen. Tran Quang Khue, vice chairman of the National Committee for Search and Rescue, congratulate each other following the official signing ceremony for the State Partnership Program between Oregon and Vietnam on Nov. 27, 2012. Photo by U.S. Embassy in Hanoi
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, adjutant general of the Oregon National Guard, signed the agreement with Vietnam Lt. Gen. Tran Quang Khue, vice chairman of the National Committee for Search and Rescue.
 
U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear; Oregon Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Todd Plimpton, assistant adjutant general (Army); Oregon Air National Guard Col. Mark Crosby, Oregon's State Partnership Program director, and other officials were on hand for the signing at the Ministry of Defense Guest House.

The agreement comes as the United States begins ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Events and commemorations to honor era veterans and casualties are scheduled in both countries through 2025.

The State Partnership Program reflects an evolving international affairs mission for the National Guard, emphasizing its unique state-federal and civil-military characteristics to interact with both the active and reserve forces of foreign nations, interagency partners, and international non-governmental organizations.

State partners participate in a broad range of security cooperation activities to include homeland defense/security, disaster response/mitigation, consequence/crisis management, interagency cooperation, border/port/aviation security, combat medical, fellowship-style internships, and bilateral familiarization events that lead to training and exercise opportunities.

The State Partnership Program currently supports 65 partnerships between states and nations.
The Oregon National Guard is also partnered with Bangladesh.
 

ACC Commander ends time as F-22 pilot confident in Raptor

by Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis
Air Combat Command Public Affairs


11/30/2012 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- After five months in the cockpit and numerous discussions with combat-ready pilots and maintainers, the commander of Air Combat Command is ending his tenure as an F-22 pilot, confident that the aircraft is safe to fly and on a path toward unrestricted worldwide operations.

Gen. Mike Hostage recently completed his final flight in the F-22 during a tour of U.S. Air Forces Central Command bases.

"I originally began flying the F-22 to better understand the risks and challenges our Raptor community was facing. At the time, our Airmen's confidence in the jet had been shaken. Now that I've gone through F-22 qualification training and flown with most of our units while closely tracking the progress we've made with the life support system, I'm convinced we have significantly reduced the level of risk," Hostage said. "And, after experiencing what the Raptor can do, I'm more convinced than ever that we need this superb combat asset in the uncertain world we face."

When he began his checkout, the general had pledged to fly the F-22 until the problems with the jet had been solved and operations were back to normal. "Much as I would dearly love to continue to fly this amazing airplane, today's tough fiscal climate means I don't have enough flying hours for all of my aviators. Every sortie I fly means one less for a young fighter pilot who might someday have to go to war. Thus, my stopping will put those hours where they need to be flown...in the hands of our front-line combat pilots."

The general completed his F-22 initial qualification training in June. Since then, he has flown all of the operational employment scenarios the F-22s is tasked for in current war plans.

"The F-22's speed, radar, flight altitude and stealthy characteristics provide pilots the unparalleled ability to dominate any adversary," said Hostage. "This capability makes potential adversaries take note, and will be crucial to our nation's success in the more-contested operations we anticipate and for which we are training."

The success of an ACC-led F-22 Life Support System Task Force that identified the major factors contributing to then-unexplained physiological incidents involving a small number of pilots also factored in the commander's vote of confidence. Spearheaded by ACC's Director of Operations, Maj Gen Charlie Lyon, the Task Force initiated numerous steps to improve safe and effective F-22 operations. Two key changes are a redesign of a valve in the pilot's upper pressure garment (UPG) to prevent improperly inflated vests from restricting pilot breathing as well as an automated back-up oxygen system to augment the existing manual emergency oxygen system.

As aircraft and equipment modifications have proceeded, the Air Force and Department of Defense have gradually lifted restrictions on F-22 operations. The remaining peace-time restrictions on flight altitudes and using F-22s to conduct Aerospace Control Alert missions in Alaska will be lifted once the modified UPG valves and A-BOS are fielded.

During the transition to normal operations period this year, F-22s have deployed to Southwest Asia, Guam and Okinawa to enhance regional security partnerships and resume training activities in forward-deployed regions.

F-22s have flown more than 14,000 sorties over 19,000 hours since the last previously unexplained physiological incident on March 8. Since then, the fleet has experienced a small number of inflight events commensurate with the risk-reduction measures put in place. Also on November 16 an F-22 crashed near Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., after the pilot ejected safely. Although an investigation of that accident is currently underway, initial indications are that the aircraft's life support system had no bearing on the crash.

"We know that mechanical components sometimes fail, and we have back-up systems and emergency procedures to deal with that," the general said. "We also know that in flying high performance fighters, despite our best efforts, we will sometimes lose an aircraft. In the case of the previously unexplained physiological incidents, we did not know why some pilots were experiencing hypoxia-like symptoms. We needed to get to the bottom of that, and I believe we have."

"Flight safety requires constant vigilance and continuous improvement," Hostage said. "We always strive for zero mishaps, and in the case of the F-22, we have learned a tremendous amount in the last year. I am confident we are ready to return to managing the safety of F-22 operations in the same way we deal with every other high-performance aircraft."

Committee presents strategic issues to Air Force leaders

by Senior Master Sgt. Edna Gardner
Air Reserve Forces Policy Committee Delegate


11/30/2012 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Sexual Assault Prevention and Response programs, permanent-change-of-station lodging inconsistencies and TRICARE inequities within the reserve component were some of the issues addressed by the Air Reserve Forces Policy Committee during its meeting in the National Capital Region Nov. 5-7.

Current issues being studied include the Air Reserve Component's DD 214 backlog, Reserve Component Survivor Benefits Program, TRICARE Reserve Select for participating Individual Ready Reserve members and more emphasis on Community College of the Air Force degrees.

The ARFPC, in partnership with others, strives to streamline current policies and influence the development of new ones. Resourcing of the Air Reserve Component Medical Continuation Case Management Division and the newly revised pregnancy policy represent two current examples of how the committee can influence and shape policy initiatives. Air Force pregnancy policy was modified to permit expectant reservists to serve on active-duty orders beyond their 34th week, if medically permissible. This change reflects an ARFPC recommendation made to senior Air Force leaders.

Members of the ARFPC continue to examine a wide-range of topics affecting the Air Reserve Component and how these issues impact reservists and the mobilization preparedness of the Air Force.

"ARC major command advisors serve as a critical link between their respective (MAJCOMs) and the ARFPC," said Maj. Gen. Brian Meenan, mobilization assistant to the Commander of Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., and chairman of the committee. "The past achievements of the committee have often originated with ideas from ARC advisors, NCOs, officers and civilians in the field."

Specifically authorized by Congress, the committee is charged with providing unfiltered, objective and independent advice to the secretary of the Air Force and the chief of staff of the Air Force. One of the primary goals of the committee is to provide Air Force senior leadership with more direct access to the perspectives and ideas of all Airmen.

After each meeting, the secretary of the Air Force is routinely briefed on the committee's findings or recommendations and the chairman provides a copy of these briefings to the chief of staff.

The secretary of the Air Force designates five general officers from the regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve to serve as core members of the committee. Additionally, the committee has six permanent advisory members to include the deputy assistant secretary for reserve affairs, the commander of Civil Air Patrol - U.S. Air Force, the CAP national commander, the chief master sergeant of the air force, and the command chiefs of both the Air Force Reserve Command and the ANG.

Previous AFRPC sessions have addressed the topics of Total Force Integration/Total Force Enterprise, medical continuation policy, Personnel Reliability Program, per diem waivers, military personnel appropriation program management and ARC pregnancy policy.

Airman who have an issue the ARFPC should consider may keeping in mind the goal is to identify strategic level policy changes may contact the ARFPC executive director and the support staff at: saf.mrrp@pentagon.af.mil.

Mass. Air Guard aids in refueling NY emergency forces after Hurricane Sand

by Tech. Sgt. Kerri Cole
102nd Intelligence Wing Public Affairs


11/21/2012 - FLOYD-BENNETT FIELD, N.Y. -- While everyone was heading home from the Unit Training Assembly on Nov. 4, five Airmen from Barnes and Otis Air National Guard Bases were tasked with a unique storm recovery mission here, in response to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which hit the area Oct. 29.

Because many gas stations in New York City are dependent on fuel distribution terminals in Brooklyn that were damaged by the storm, the region was left in a fuel shortage crisis.

The Massachusetts Air National Guard team were the first Airmen to respond at Floyd-Bennett Field, Brooklyn, N.Y., where a fuel depot was established to aid in recovery operations by providing fuel distribution to emergency service vehicles. The initial efforts led by the team of Mass. Airmen evolved into a multi-state National Guard task force refueling operation.

"Our mission was to dispense gasoline to first responders such as the police department, nurses, doctors, sanitation departments, power companies, school buses and so on," said Senior Master Sgt. Tom Orifice, non-commissioned officer in charge of the operation. "At one point, we even had taxi cabs coming in because the taxi fleet had become vital to getting people to where they needed to go for shelter and sustenance."

The Massachusetts Air National Guard, along with the Army National Guard, provided a series of C-300 fuel trucks, which can hold 1,200 gallons of fuel and are capable of dispensing gasoline directly into vehicles. Approximately 350,000 gallons of fuel, provided by FEMA, were distributed to about 12,000 vehicles at the Floyd-Bennett Field fuel depot over the last two weeks.

"It was extremely chaotic when we first got there. The Army National Guard had set up a temporary fuel point but it was so hectic and wasn't running as efficiently as possible at first," Orifice said. "I went ahead and reconfigured the layout of the vehicle access points to make it safer and more efficient as far as getting vehicles in and out. After the reconfiguration, we were able to refuel about 50 percent more vehicles at a time."

Many Guardsmen make the oath of enlistment for reasons like this -- to assist their local communities in a time of need.

"In a deployed environment you don't always have the opportunity to talk to the people you are helping -- but when you're doing a homeland emergency response, you are talking to the folks that you are helping and are able to listen to their stories and see the gratitude they have for [the National Guard]," said Master Sgt. John Abril, 102nd Intelligence Wing fuels specialist. "It was an amazing experience."

Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, The Adjutant General, Massachusetts National Guard, stated, "Our Relief and recovery operations were refocused to assist the storm-ravaged communities of New York. I'm very proud of the hard work our soldiers and airmen put in on behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth. I'm confident these soldiers we sent to New York were just as dedicated to assist our neighboring state during their time of need."

"They performed superbly under challenging and austere conditions. Senior Master Sgt. Orifice's outstanding leadership organizing and running what evolved into a large, joint refueling operation has been singled out by Army leadership as particularly impressive and commendable," said Lt. Col. Christopher Hurley, 102nd Mission Support Group deputy commander.

Sgt. Orifice said he couldn't have asked for a better team of people to work with. The other Massachusetts Air National Guard team members included Master Sgt. John Abril and Staff Sgt. Rob Montgomery from the 102nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, Tech. Sgt. Kevin Kane and Staff Sgt. Jay Kinney from the 104th Logistics Readiness Squadron. Senior Master Sgt. Dale Swartz, 102 IW vehicle maintenance superintendent, also provided the team with plumbing fittings so they could retrofit all of the C-300 truck hoses to accept the civilian nozzles required to refuel vehicles, which made the process three times faster.

More than 100 Army and Air National Guardsmen came from New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Delaware, Ohio, and Rhode Island to assist and worked around the clock to make the fueling mission successful.

Surviving the Night

by Tech. Sgt. Kerri Cole
102nd Intelligence Wing Public Affairs


11/29/2012 - OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. -- Night shift: Unavoidable for some Airmen, dreaded by many. Humans are naturally wired to be awake during the day and to sleep at night. Those who work the "graveyard" shift might find themselves tossing and turning when it comes time to hit the hay early in the morning, resulting in insomnia and fatigue. Good daytime sleep is possible, though, if shift work is a necessary part of your Air National Guard career.

Currently, the 102nd Intelligence Wing's 24/7 operations require overnight crews from the 102nd Intelligence Group. Depending on an Airman's area of expertise and Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC), their shift schedules could range from 10 or 12-hour shifts on days and/or nights, rotating shifts every few weeks.

"The 12-hour overnight shift is challenging to adjust to," said Airman 1st Class Dylan Spero, 102nd Intelligence Support Squadron, "Sleep habits and family life--everything sort of gets out of whack."

Poor sleep habits can be dangerous--your response times are slower, your judgment is blurred and you could nod off in the middle of a complex task.

So what can you do to survive and stay healthy during night shifts and your time off?

Barbara Powers, 102 IW Director of Psychological Health, shared some helpful tips on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle for nightshift workers.

"Communicating with your family, especially if you have young children, is important so everyone in the house understands that undisturbed daytime sleep is necessary for you to function properly," said Powers. "For example, if your small children find themselves knocking on the bedroom door while you're trying to sleep, suggest to your spouse to take them outside of the house for some daytime activities."

According to the National Sleep Foundation, proper sleep is the number one way to stay healthy while working night shifts. Having a routine wake-up time seven days a week will help set your internal clock and leads to regular sleep onset. Also, your bedroom should be comfortable and free from light and noise. Black-out shades and earplugs are some items you can buy to make your bedroom environment more comfortable.

Nutrition is also an important factor in regulating your shift life. A light snack, such as a glass of warm milk, cheese or a bowl of cereal can promote sleep. You should avoid certain foods near bedtime such as caffeine, peanuts, beans, sugar, spicy and high-fat foods like potato chips, according to the Center for Deployment Psychology. Also, plan ahead and bring healthy meals to work with you.

Chances are, if you have difficulty sleeping during the day, you also have difficulty staying alert at work.

Powers suggests working with others to help keep you alert on the job. "Because of the sedentary nature of the mission here, try to be active during breaks. Create games or contests such as 'Nerf Hoops' or other mentally engaging activities--just to keep things moving and get your mind off how many hours are left in the shift," she said.

Sure, it's easy to talk about being well rested, but when it comes down to actually doing it, it's easier said than done. So, what is best for you? It comes down to your own behavior. Powers suggests that if these tips don't seem to help, consult your doctor or a sleep specialist. Sometimes another underlying issue needs to be addressed.

188th's Carter selected as Arkansas Air National Guard's state command chief

by Lt. Col. Keith Moore
Arkansas Air National Public Affairs


11/27/2012 - CAMP JOSEPH T. ROBINSON, NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark.  -- Brig. Gen. Travis D. Balch, commander of the Arkansas Air National Guard recently announced that state Command Chief Master Sgt. Steven Arnold would be retiring in April and that a panel had selected his successor, Command Chief Master Sgt. Asa Carter from the 188th Fighter Wing based in Fort Smith, Ark.

Carter, who has served as the Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. for the 188th for the past five years, will begin working closely with Arnold immediately to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities.

Arnold says he has great confidence in Carter, and that he is an excellent selection as state command chief.

"I don't have any doubt that he can successfully fill this position and take the job to the next level," Arnold said.

In addition to five years as the senior enlisted member of the 188th, Carter previously served 25 years with the 188th Security Forces Squadron, culminating that assignment as the superintendent of the squadron. In civilian life, Carter brings management and personnel experience as a manager with Walmart Corporation.

Looking ahead, Carter said a big focus for him will be the force management issues that lie ahead. But, he notes, even these can be exciting times.

"The one consistent thing I have learned in every job I have had is - change," Carter said. "For the old timers like myself who have been around the Guard for a while, change is difficult... But for our younger Airmen, they thrive on it. It keeps them from getting bored."

Carter said his compass to help the organization navigate change is communications with all levels.

"There is possibly some tumultuous change that lies just over the horizon," Carter said. "We have a strong and dedicated team of Airmen in our units. They have proven they can tackle most any challenge. The linchpin in keeping that train on the tracks is communications with all levels."

In addition to internal communications - top down and bottom up - Carter notes that continuing the battle cry of the Guard's value to America, both to the leaders in Washington and the public, is critical.

"We have got to get this message across to every member, from general officer to the newest Airman, they need to know what this means and how it affects them and their careers," Carter said. "Then we need to equip each member with a card they carry that has the significant elements of this argument readily available for them to use in helping tell our story."

One process that Carter believes in as a necessary tool in managing change is mentorship.

"I don't proclaim to know it all or have all the answers," he said. "I seek mentoring regularly. I talk with Chief Arnold a lot, and I even contact Command Chief Master Sgt. (Ret.) Normal Gilchrest [former Arkansas ANG command chief] occasionally for his counsel on things. And, as a leader I try to grow our younger Airmen through mentorship myself."

Mentoring, above and below his level, will be an integral part of the future of the Guard as a number of key positions are transitioning nearly simultaneously, both locally and nationally.

"This is going to be an interesting time for the organization," Arnold said. "In a very short time we will be getting new people as command chiefs of both wings in the state, the state command chief, the command chief of the Air Guard and of the Air Force, and we will be getting a new director of the Air Guard and recently a new Chief of Staff of the Air Force."

Carter says the leadership changes can be a challenge or an awesome opportunity, but with new representation the force is assured that they will all have to work together to set a path toward the force of 2025.

123rd Airlift Wing completes deployment to Persian Gulf

by Maj. Dale Greer
123rd Airlift Wing Chief of Public Affairs


11/27/2012 - KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Hundreds of friends and family members gathered at the Kentucky Air National Guard base over the weekend to welcome home 72 Airmen from a four-month deployment to the Persian Gulf, where the troops have been working since July to support military operations across Northern Africa and Western Asia.

Fifty-eight of the aircrew members and maintenance personnel arrived home aboard a Kentucky Air Guard C-130 on Nov. 10, while 14 more came home Nov. 11. An earlier rotation of more than 20 Guardsmen returned from the same location in September, according to Lt. Col. Shawn Dawley, commander of the 165th Airlift Squadron.

Operating from an undisclosed airbase in the Persian Gulf region, the Kentucky Airmen flew over 1,200 combat and combat-support missions in the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility, moving more than 3,000 tons of cargo and 12,000 passengers to locations as widely separated as Iraq, Egypt and the Hindu Kush Mountains in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Dawley said.

The Kentucky Guardsmen -- all members of the Louisville-based 123rd Airlift Wing -- were joined at their deployed location by troops from the Cheyenne, Wyo.-based 30th Airlift Squadron, an active duty-Air Guard associate unit; the active-duty 36th Airlift Squadron from Yakota Air Base, Japan; and troops from the Missouri and Wyoming Air Guard.

The blended nature of the group proved to be one of the mission's biggest challenges -- and ultimate strengths.

"We didn't have the luxury of a one-week stand down to get to know each other when we arrived in theater," said Dawley, who served as commander of the deployed 737th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron at the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing. "It was like changing the oil in your car while you're still driving down the road at 60 miles an hour. But we truly did have a great group of guys on this deployment. Everyone really came together to complete the mission."

Dawley also had high praise for Kentucky's aircraft maintenance troops, who provided exceptional service during the deployment.

"The maintenance (team) generated a 'fully mission-capable rate' which exceeded the rate of all other maintenance packages that have ever been deployed to our location," he said. "With that many good planes to fly every day, the flying squadron was then able to set a record-high mission-effective rate. We often flew several hundred sorties in a row before we had to cancel a mission for any reason.

"Those figures look great on a slide, but I recognize that each one of them reflects a lot of tireless work on the part of the maintainers who gave us the airplanes, and the aircrews who always found a way to get the mission done."

The deployment was the Kentucky Air Guard's seventh major mobilization to CENTCOM since 2003. Previous deployments sent hundreds of Kentucky Air Guard forces to multiple locations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In 2007, for example, more than 210 wing members deployed to Afghanistan to airdrop thousands of tons of vital equipment and supplies to forward-deployed troops who were in direct contact with the enemy, navigating some of the most rugged, high-altitude terrain anywhere in the world.

Nearly 300 Kentucky Air Guardsmen returned to Afghanistan in 2009 for the same mission, transporting 20,000 troops and 6,000 tons of cargo across the theater of operations. Most recently, about 160 Kentucky Airmen broke airlift records when they airdropped or transported an unprecedented amount of cargo and personnel in support of Operation Enduring Freedom while deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, from October 2010 to January 2011.

Since 9/11, more than 15,000 Kentucky National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have mobilized in support of the Global War on Terror.
 

General Paul Selva takes command of Air Mobility Command

Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

11/30/2012 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill., -- Gen. Paul J. Selva became commander of Air Mobility Command in a change-of-command ceremony here today, as the legacy of leading global mobility operations was passed to him from Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr.

Selva comes to AMC from Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, where he served as the vice commander. He succeeds Johns, who retires from the Air Force later this year after 35 years of service.

"To the men and women who represent AMC, I can't tell you how proud I am of what you have accomplished ... making the impossible possible," said Selva. "You are the heart and soul, and I'm proud to be your commander."

As commander of AMC, Gen. Selva leads all mobility air forces comprised of nearly 134,000 personnel from the active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve.

Gen. Selva graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1980 and is a command pilot with more than 3,100 hours in the C-5, C-17A, C-141B, KC-10, KC-135A and T-37. He has held numerous staff positions and has commanded at the squadron, group, wing and headquarters levels. Gen. Selva served at Scott previously as the 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center) vice commander, then commander, and later as director of operations and logistics for U.S. Transportation Command.

"Secretary Donley and I are supremely confident in Paul's ability and we're excited to see his passion for Airmen shared with all of you," said Air Force Chief of Staff Mark A. Welsh III, during the ceremony.

Speaking to Selva, Welsh said, "I know you will treat your Airmen as your own, and instill in them a desire to lift Air Mobility Command to even greater heights."

Averaging an aircraft takeoff every two minutes, AMC sustains America's military operations worldwide, including combat operations in Afghanistan, through its airlift, aerial refueling and aeromedical evacuation capabilities. The command also responds to humanitarian crises at home and around the globe.


DOD, Lockheed Martin Agree to More F-35s


By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2012 – DOD and Lockheed Martin have reached an agreement in principle to manufacture 32 F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter jets, Pentagon Press Secretary George E. Little said today.

The jets are part of Low-Rate Initial Production batch 5 -- the fifth production lot of the aircraft. Unit-cost data will be made available once the contracts are finalized and signed, Little said.
“Production costs are decreasing and I appreciate everyone’s commitment to this important negotiation process,” said Navy Vice Adm. Dave Venlet, the F-35 program executive officer.
The agreement also covers the costs of manufacturing support equipment, flight test instrumentation and additional mission equipment, he added.

“It was a tough negotiation,” Little said, “and we’re pleased that we’ve reached an agreement.”
According to a news release from the F-35 program office, Lockheed Martin will produce 22 F-35A conventional take-off and landing variants for the Air Force, three F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variants for the Marine Corps and seven F-35C carrier variants for the Navy.

Aircraft production was started in December 2011 under a previously authorized undefinitized contract action, the release said. Undefinitized contract actions authorize contractors to begin work before reaching a final agreement on contract terms.

The agreement sets the program to move forward according to improved business timelines, Little said. “It’s good for all nations that are partnered with us in this important effort for our future national security.”

The United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Turkey, Israel and Singapore are partners or participants in the aircraft’s development program, and the Japanese government announced in December 2011 it will buy 42 of the fighters.
 

Face of Defense: Crouching Sailor, Hidden Airman

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Tom Brading
Joint Base Charleston

CHARLESTON, S.C., Nov. 30, 2012 – Tim Boykin, Space and Naval Warfare Systems operations research analyst and retired U.S. Navy commander, has dedicated his life to not only serving his country but also martial arts.


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Tim Boykin, Space and Naval Warfare Systems operations research analyst and retired Navy commander, trains service members and civilians in martial arts Nov. 26, 2012, at Joint Base Charleston’s fitness center. Before practicing striking moves, Boykin conducts cardio exercises and warm-ups with the group. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tom Brading
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
He has excelled in the Isshin-ryū style of karate, becoming an 8th degree Master Isshin-ryū black belt, as well as a black belt in ju-jitsu and the first Navy officer to receive the Marine Corps black belt.

Isshin-ryū, Boykin's first martial arts love, is an Okinawan karate style founded in Japan after World War II. Military members, especially Marines stationed at Okinawa, were almost immediately drawn to the striking arts and stand-up fighting style Isshin-ryū offered. Today, it remains a popular style of karate throughout the United States, and Boykin volunteers his time to train service members at Joint Base Charleston.

According to Boykin, volunteering time to teach others is his duty as a master black belt. It's a duty that began years ago, thousands of miles away on the Far East corner of the globe.

It's the late 1970s and inside a large dojo somewhere in the Japanese countryside, the red sun rises over the snowy mountain tops and countryside, light radiates through translucent paper walls of the dojo and golden beams from the misty dawn illuminate the sacred training ground.

Meanwhile, more than 30 Japanese natives have already dedicated countless hours toward training on the same hallowed ground as their ancestors. Tradition and honor are just as important to them as the precision which they practice their martial arts.

Boykin, a young naval officer and martial arts brown belt at the time, is an outsider as he cautiously enters the dojo. He began his martial arts training outside of Charlotte, N.C., but has never trained inside a traditional Japanese dojo. The locals were often weary of outsiders. However, instead of being banished by the disciplined locals inside, the master trainer requests him to stay.

"They didn't understand a word I said, and I couldn't understand them," Boykin said. "But, what we lacked in communication, we made up through martial arts."

Throughout that day, Boykin took part in more than 25 fights, including a kumite tournament. For hours, he fought through the pain and sweat and with every advancing round in the tournament he gained a little more respect from his opponents. The kumite is a sparring style tournament, where individuals face off against an adversary in a combat style fight judged by Master-level black belts.

"After the tournament, the dojo Master offered me a drink," said Boykin. "Being accepted into a traditional Japanese dojo was one of my greatest achievements."

Years of crafting his martial arts artistry has garnished Boykin many successes over the years, including an induction into the Isshin-ryū Hall of Fame in 2010, IHOF Instructor of the Year in 2009, Spirit of Isshin-ryū in 1996 and many other recognitions.

However, according to Boykin, some of the greatest achievements he's experienced in martial arts haven't come from earning trophies. It’s always came from earning respect, from his early days in the military in Yokosuka, Japan, to his years in the Cajun country of Louisiana with the U.S. Marines.

For three years, Boykin trained Marines in hand-to-hand combat in New Orleans.

Wooden planks weren't the only thing Boykin broke as he trained Marines preparing for deployment. He also broke barriers by becoming the first naval officer to receive the Marine Corps black belt. Traditionally, Marines wear their martial arts belt color as their webbed rigger's belt earned through the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program on their Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform.

"It was very difficult for me to receive the black belt from the Marines," Boykin said. "But, I trained all the judges that were qualifying me, so it was hard for them to consistently deny my ability. And I'll be honest; it felt great to be an old Navy officer wearing that black belt with my blue uniform."

To this day, his times spent with the Marines are some of his proudest moments.

Boykin challenges airmen and sailors here to challenge themselves and step into his dojo and learn the basics of martial arts.

"Nobody expects new members to run across bamboo sticks like a kung-fu movie their first night," Boykin said. "But if anyone wants to better themselves, maybe build self-confidence or just want to get a good workout, then attending one of my classes is a great way to do that."

General Paul Selva takes command of Air Mobility Command

Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

11/30/2012 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- Gen. Paul J. Selva became commander of Air Mobility Command in a change-of-command ceremony here today, as the legacy of leading global mobility operations was passed to him from Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr.

Selva comes to AMC from Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, where he served as the vice commander. He succeeds Johns, who retires from the Air Force later this year after 35 years of service.

"To the men and women who represent AMC, I can't tell you how proud I am of what you have accomplished ... making the impossible possible," said Selva. "You are the heart and soul, and I'm proud to be your commander."

As commander of AMC, Gen. Selva leads all mobility air forces comprised of nearly 134,000 personnel from the active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve.

Selva graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1980 and is a command pilot with more than 3,100 hours in the C-5, C-17A, C-141B, KC-10, KC-135A and T-37. He has held numerous staff positions and has commanded at the squadron, group, wing and headquarters levels. He served at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., previously as the 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center) vice commander, then commander, and later as director of operations and logistics for U.S. Transportation Command.

"Secretary Donley and I are supremely confident in Paul's ability and we're excited to see his passion for Airmen shared with all of you," said Air Force Chief of Staff Mark A. Welsh III, during the ceremony.

Speaking to Selva, Welsh said, "I know you will treat your Airmen as your own, and instill in them a desire to lift Air Mobility Command to even greater heights."

Averaging an aircraft takeoff every two minutes, AMC sustains America's military operations worldwide, including combat operations in Afghanistan, through its airlift, aerial refueling and aeromedical evacuation capabilities. The command also responds to humanitarian crises at home and around the globe.

Change to "blues Monday" policy in PACAF

Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

11/30/2012 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III asked his major command commanders on Nov. 29th to decide which uniform their Airmen will wear in order to better perform their mission.

Upon receiving the CSAF guidance, Pacific Air Forces Commander General Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, announced that blues are no longer mandated on Mondays and that uniform wear in PACAF will be at the discretion of the wing and numbered air force commanders.

"The NAFs and other staffs may set the uniform policy for their respective headquarters," he said in an email to the PACAF commanders. "For the PACAF Headquarters, blues will not be mandated on Mondays; uniform selection will be commensurate with the expected duty that day, or as directed by the workplace supervisors

Air Force Offers Cultural Guides for Overseas-deployed Troops

Air Force Culture and Language Center

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala., Nov. 30, 2012 – The Air Force Culture and Language Center here released its Philippines Expeditionary Culture Field Guide today.

What you need to know about a place and its people -- that’s what the AFCLC-produced cultural guidebooks provide for deploying military members.

The Philippines guidebook is the first to focus on a country in the Asia-Pacific region. The pocket-sized, laminated and spiral-bound booklet contains the essential elements needed to work effectively with host-nation counterparts in the Philippines. Topics include the history of the Philippines, religious traditions, and basic language familiarization.

AFCLC’s social science and cultural experts developed the booklet in collaboration with active-duty and retired military members.

The center initially developed guides for Iraq and Afghanistan, said Mary Newbern, AFCLC’s Region Branch chief. The success of those guides led to a request from U.S. Africa Command for field guides on other countries. The center then published guides for 14 African countries. Ten more are being developed and will be published in 2013, according to AFCLC officials.

The launch of the Philippines field guide represents the growth of AFCLC services and program officials hope to continue assisting airmen performing the Air Force’s global mission.

“We have to make sure our military members have the information they need to operate effectively in any environment,” said Jay Warwick, AFCLC director. “The ECFGs are just one way we deliver the skills and knowledge necessary for cross-cultural competence.”

Pentagon Honors ‘Best in Show’ Photography Winners

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2012 – Defense Department leaders today honored 12 photography winners, selected from over 3,000 submissions, for their participation in the Arts in Embassies Program.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Pentagon Press Secretary George E. Little recognized 12 “Best in Show” winners for the “Serving Abroad … Through Their Eyes” category of the program.

At a Pentagon ceremony where the exhibit is currently on display, the chairman quoted Aristotle in describing the purpose of art.

“The importance of art is not to reveal the outward appearance of things, but the inward significance of things,” Dempsey said. “This was really an easy [program] to get behind. It really was exciting.”

The Arts in Embassy program started during the Kennedy administration. “It is a true honor for all of us to be a part of the 50th anniversary,” Little said, noting the defense secretary intently studied each image and read its accompanying caption.

The 12 winners were selected from 161 finalists by a panel of distinguished judges from a pool of 3,267 photos submitted by troops and members of the foreign and civil service.

Of the 12 photos selected, eight were taken by service members, including five who are graduates of the Defense Information School, at Fort Meade, Md.

Little, who described the Arts in Embassies program as a “unique initiative,” noted as the Pentagon press secretary he “attaches a lot of eloquence to spoken words.”

“[But] no words can capture the elegance of these images,” he said. “The elite panel of judges [who selected these] included three former chairmen, two former secretaries of state and an NBC News [correspondent].”
The 12 “Best in Show” finalists received a plaque engraved with the signatures of Panetta and Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton as well as their respective award winning photo.

Carter Outlines U.S. Security Strategy in Tight-budget Era

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

DURHAM, N.C., Nov. 30, 2012 – In a speech at Duke University here yesterday, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter outlined new security strategies and challenges that he said will define the nation’s future in a post-war era of fiscal constraint.


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Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter delivers remarks at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy in Durham, N.C., Nov. 29, 2012. DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Carter said the need to keep the department’s “fiscal house in order” after more than a decade of war and under the threat of sequestration has spurred an approach of rebalancing and innovation as the Defense Department pivots to the Asia-Pacific region.

“We in the Department of Defense … are at a moment of great strategic consequence and great strategic transition; we’re at the confluence of two great forces,” Carter said. “After almost 12 years of unrelenting and uninterrupted war … in two particular places, Iraq and Afghanistan -- that era is coming to an end.”

While Carter acknowledged the war in Afghanistan persists, he expressed confidence in the strategy’s probability of success as U.S. forces draw down and Afghan security forces maintain stability.

“… The principal requirement [is] to ensure the country is no longer a danger to the U.S.,” he said.
Looking forward, Carter said, military leadership determined that U.S. forces must be leaner, more agile, ready, and technologically advanced.

“We wanted to take … steps to make the most effective use of our force in the era after Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.

The new concept of readiness, according to Carter, involves preserving and building on the strength of the all-volunteer active duty, Guard and Reserve force developed during the last decade.

“We wanted to retain [the force] and we wanted to respect it [with] no sudden changes as the war came to an end,” he said.

Carter said he also aims to shift the weight of intellectual effort to future challenges by continuing to invest in special operations forces, electronic warfare, and space and cyber technology.

These investment areas, he explained, will be best leveraged in the Asia-Pacific region, where a considerable amount of the U.S. future security and economic interests lie.

Carter noted the unique history of the region that he said never had NATO nor “any structure to heal the wounds of World War II and yet it has had peace and stability for 70 years.”

Because he credits sustained American military presence in the region with the long span of peace, Carter said his goal as the U.S. pivots to the Pacific is simple.

“We want to ‘keep on keepin’ on’ with what that region has: an environment of peace and stability in which the countries of the region -- all of them -- can continue to enjoy economic prosperity,” Carter said.

As partnerships with Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Australia continue to blossom, Carter said he urges broadening the U.S. military strategy to one of national strategy including economic engagement, long-standing principles of self-governance, and free, open access to commerce.

“That environment is not a birthright,” Carter said. “It’s something that results in important measure from the continued pivotal presence of the U.S. military in that region.”

The U.S. will continue to work with new security partners such as India, Philippines, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations collective, and China while setting priorities for the kinds of capabilities that are relevant for the Asia-Pacific region, Carter said.

“… We can enhance our Asia-Pacific region posture … because of the end of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars which frees up capacity,” he added.

Therefore, Carter said, the U.S. will move more security assets into the region, such as the deployment of F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Japan and an expanding rotational bomber presence on Guam.

Key defense investments that remain shielded from budget cuts include KC-46 tanker aircraft, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technology and the Virginia Class submarine, which Carter said maintains “unrivaled undersea dominance.” New training infrastructure involves joint, multi-lateral exercises designed to strengthen partnerships with nations in the Asia-Pacific region, he added.

“Partners are a force multiplier for us,” Carter said. “We’re not only emphasizing our existing alliances and partnerships, but [we’re also] trying as hard as we can to build new ones.”

It is for these reasons, he said, that the U.S. can and will find the military capacity and intellectual resources to support the strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.

But Carter shared a question he said is on the minds of many Americans: Can the U.S. accomplish these endeavors with the anticipated budget cuts?

As the DOD’s strategic juncture in history and the current era of fiscal belt-tightening overlap, Carter described the defense strategy as an “an unprecedented process” in terms of the depth of presidential involvement.

Carter said President Barack Obama invested significant time and effort with defense leadership to develop strategic budgetary cuts.

Still, Carter explained, absent swift Congressional approval for follow-on measures to the Budget Control Act, sequestration could be “disastrous” for national defense.

“If it comes to pass, it will hollow out the force,” he said.

In the meantime, Carter said he and other DOD officials remain resolute in the task of providing U.S. national security while being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

“We hope that by being good strategists and sound managers, we can continue to defend the country and enjoy the trust of the people it’s our responsibility to defend,” Carter said.

SecAF declares 'Modernization can't wait'

11/30/2012 - NEW YORK CITY (AFNS) -- The Air Force's senior civilian addressed the importance of modernization and the challenges ahead for the Air Force at the 2012 Aerospace and Defense Investor Conference here Nov. 29.

"Among the most difficult challenges facing the Air Force is the need to modernize our aging aircraft inventory as the defense budget declines," said Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley. "New threats and technologies require new investments."

Donley conveyed the careful strategic choices made in crafting the service's budget, highlighting the importance of research, development, procurement and construction -- "investments in future capability."

He specifically addressed the need for modernization among fighter, tanker, bomber, space and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms as "high priority investments," while other important capabilities like a new trainer and joint surveillance and target attack radar system are not yet funded.

"The plans and resources available for modernization are not optimal, but we are making tough choices to keep them workable with the right priorities for the future," he said. "Further reductions in defense would make these choices even harder."

Among these choices is readiness, which the secretary stressed is one area the service is not willing to taking additional risk.

"We see readiness -- in personnel, training and materiel dimensions -- already frayed. We have made important efficiencies and we are programmed for more," he said. "There are few options for reducing the size of our forces and still being able to execute strategic guidance."

In line with defense guidance, the Air Force has set a clear picture of its investment spending and priorities -- priorities that the joint force and the American public depend on, Donley said. For example, the service's ten largest investment programs include four space systems critical for access to space, secure communications, missile warning, and navigation and timing.

"America's Air Force remains the most capable in the word, but modernization can't wait," Donley said. "These new threats and investment needs, like cyber and missile defense, are not theoretical possibilities for the future. They are here, now."

Amidst the challenges and emerging requirements involved with modernizing the service, Secretary Donley stressed the importance of balancing effectiveness and efficiency, containing program requirements and costs, and continuing to be responsible stewards of taxpayer resources to make it work.

The two-day conference featured speakers from industry and the Department of Defense, including remarks from Robert Hale, under secretary of defense and chief financial officer; and Frank Kendall, the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Panetta, Barak Discuss Iron Dome Success, Israeli Defenses

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2012 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak praised the performance of the Iron Dome air defense system during a press conference here today.


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Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak praised the performance of the Iron Dome air defense system during a Pentagon press conference, Nov. 29, 2012. DOD photo by Erin Kirk-Cuomo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Panetta said the Iron Dome system, which was developed by the Israelis and funded in large part by the United States, prevented war following hundreds of recent Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip. The two men spoke to reporters after meeting at the Pentagon.

“I’m very proud that our two countries cooperated so closely to field the Iron Dome anti-rocket system,” Panetta said, noting the system performed remarkably well during the rocket onslaught. “It intercepted more than 400 rockets bound for Israeli population centers, for a roughly 85 percent success rate overall,” he said.

“Its success is a testament to the ingenuity of the Israeli people and to the commitment of the United States to Israel’s security,” he said. “Today, I assured the minister that our strong commitment to Iron Dome will continue into the future.”

The U.S. provided $70 million in fiscal year 2012 funds for the system, on top of the $205 million previously allocated, Panetta said, noting DOD will continue to support the system in the future.

“We will obviously continue to work together to seek additional funding to enable Israel to boost Iron Dome’s capacity further and to help prevent the kind of escalation and violence that we’ve seen,” Panetta said.

Iron Dome prevents wars, Panetta said, but Israeli and Palestinian leaders must sit down and resolve their differences for real peace in the region.

Barak thanked the United States for the funding to deploy the Iron Dome batteries.

“We highly appreciate your plans to help us in the future on the same issue, because the needs are much larger than what we have right now, and we are determined to complete the system, besides the operational offensive capacities of the Israeli armed forces,” Barak said.

Panetta and Barak also spoke about relations between the two nations, and touted the strength of the U.S.-Israeli partnership. Panetta said it is the strongest he has ever seen, describing it as based on shared values and also “on the iron-clad commitment of the United States to Israel’s security.”

Panetta said the United States strongly supports Israel’s right to defend itself and strongly condemned the rocket attacks launched by Hamas against Israel.

“We are encouraged that the cease-fire agreement has held,” he said.

The secretary stressed that the United States will continue to work with Israel and Egypt to end the smuggling of arms into Gaza. “No nation should have to live in fear of these kinds of attacks,” he said.

Panetta and Barak also spoke about the Iranian nuclear danger. Both nations have continuing concerns over Iran’s destabilizing activities and its nuclear program. Panetta reiterated that the United States will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“Iran is facing unprecedented pressure from the … crippling sanctions that have been imposed by the international community,” he said. “And I continue to believe that there is time and space for an effort to try to achieve a diplomatic solution, which remains, I believe, the preferred outcome for both the United States and for Israel.”

Barak said the United States and Israel share the same beliefs in freedom, liberty, democracy and human dignity. The United States, he said, is a “moral beacon” to the people of the turbulent region. “We are highly appreciative of this role,” he said. “We always keep the right to defend ourselves by ourselves on time where it’s needed, but I think that the role of the United States is invaluable in our region.”

Before leaving Israel, Barak announced he will retire from political life. Panetta paid tribute to his Israeli counterpart, praising “his brilliant strategic mind,” which “stems from his warrior heart and his warrior experience.”

The secretary pinned the DOD Medal for Distinguished Public Service on Barak.

High School students learn 'medicinal air power'

by Airman 1st Class Victor J. Caputo
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


11/29/2012 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Ten students from the local McPherson High School visited the 22nd Medical Group for a tour of the facilities and a chance to speak to Airmen about the decisions made leading up to their current career path Nov. 28, 2012.

The students were able to experience firsthand many of the jobs they can to pursue after high school, including dental work, physical therapy and laboratory work.

"I'm really interested in doing radiology, so seeing [the] radiology department was really cool," said Adam Winkler, McPherson High School student.

During the course of the tour, the students spoke with medical personnel ranging from Airmen who have been on-station for less than a year to officers with almost 30 years of experience.

"I love getting to show off my job to those who are interested," said Tech. Sgt. Jean Epperson, 22nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron Flight Medicine NCO in charge. "I think that a lot of people assume that the military way of doing medical care is radically different than in the civilian sector when in all actuality, it is very similar."

Tours like this are meant to promote face-to-face connections between the community and Team McConnell.

One topic that was continually mentioned by every group that spoke to the students was education and how to obtain it.

"It's great how they told all of the kids about the benefits of an advanced education," said Andrea Clark, McPherson High School health-science teacher. "They showed us all the different ways you can get a degree."

Although the training for the military medical career field is often long and strenuous, it can have a gratifying payoff.

"The medical career field is a very rewarding job," said Epperson. "You can honestly change peoples' lives on a daily basis."

87th LRS Airman swears allegiance, attains dream

by 2nd Lt. Alexis McGee
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs


11/28/2012 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen ..."

Senior Airman Jorge Contreras, 87th Logistics Readiness Squadron materiel management journeyman, was full of nerves on the morning of Nov. 16, 2012.

Contreras' nerves melded with his excitement as he was about to become a United States citizen in a star-studded ceremony live on the "Today Show."

Contreras, a Peruvian native, has served in the U.S. Air Force for the past four years, but had known for years he wanted to become a citizen.

"I feel like I'm already a citizen," he said. "The ceremony is more of a formality."

"... that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law;"

Contreras' quest to become a citizen began in 2010 after he ultimately decided that U.S. citizenship was what he desired.

"I had already lived in America for eleven years when I decided to become a citizen," said Contreras, who calls Elizabeth, N.J., home. "I was raised in this culture so I feel like I'm a part of it. I know this is where I want to raise my family."

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services department contacted Contreras two months after he submitted his application for citizenship. They informed him they were looking to process his application and invited him to attend the "Today Show's" live citizenship ceremony.

"I felt really excited about it," he said. "They saw something in me and I felt really humbled that they called me."

The "Today Show" crew traveled to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Nov. 8, 2012, once Contreras' chain of command gave him approval to be on the show.

"I was nervous at first when the crew came down," Contreras said. "But then I realized all they wanted to see was me and you can never be nervous about yourself. Once I got to know the team in person, all my nervousness went away."

The "Today Show" team invited Contreras' mother, Luz Reque, and girlfriend, Karla Espinoza, to attend the show and watch as he made the life-changing declaration.

"I am extremely proud of him," said Espinoza. "I know he tries really hard at everything he does so I feel it is something he deserves."

Espinoza is also working on renouncing her Ecuadorian citizenship to become a U.S. citizen.

"... that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law;"

Nine coworkers and fellow Airmen also traveled to New York City to support Contreras.
"This is a pretty big deal for him," said Staff Sgt. Aldrine Estrella, 87th LRS material management craftsman. "I went through the same thing a few years ago so I know how big of a deal it is to become a U.S. citizen."

Estrella is a Filipino native who earned his U.S. citizenship in 2010. He said he encouraged Contreras to do the same, but was quick to point out that Contreras' independent nature made it so he didn't need much encouragement.

As Contreras scanned the spread of muffins, fruit and bagels the "Today Show" team laid out before the ceremony, he couldn't help but smile in appreciation for what was to come.

"I feel honored that we're doing the ceremony live on the 'Today Show,'" said Contreras. "My mom is here, my girlfriend is here and all the Airmen are here. I feel so honored."
The 38-degree temperature did not stand in the way of the excited soon-to-be U.S. citizens who anxiously awaited the ceremony at Rockefeller Plaza.

"Once they got everything in motion I said to myself, 'forget the cold,'" he said. "I was very happy to get my citizenship in front of my family."

Contreras became a U.S. citizen along with 29 other immigrants, and can now enjoy all the rights of the country he has fought to preserve.

"It feels awesome to now be able to take advantage of all the rights I've been defending," said Contreras, who enlisted in the Air Force at age 21. "To me, it is less of an official title and more of a commitment."

A little more than one week later, Contreras said he is happy he became a citizen and wouldn't change the way he made his commitment to the U.S.

With his commitment to the U.S. in his heart, at the forefront of Contreras' mind throughout the whole process was his family.

"A lot of doors just opened for me and now I am ready to explore them and make my family proud," he said.

"... and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

JB Charleston stays fit throughout winter

by Senior Airman Dennis Sloan
Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs


11/29/2012 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Whether it's jumping rope, running, performing squats or push-ups, the community members at the Joint Base Charleston - Air Base Fitness Center are not letting the cooler fall weather put a freeze on their fitness regiments.

The fitness center offers CrossFit classes every week for community members looking to break out of their rut of just lifting weights or hours of cardio.

"We are all volunteers who take turns teaching and running CrossFit classes throughout the week," said Senior Airman Michael Sellers, a volunteer CrossFit coach from 315th Airlift Wing.

The one-hour classes consist of several different exercises such weightlifting, calisthenics and running.

"We rarely do the same workout from one day to the next," said Master Sgt. Steven Hart, 628th Security Forces Squadron first sergeant and volunteer CrossFit coach. "The whole point of CrossFit is to not get in a routine - we use muscle confusion to stay fit."

Whether a person has been performing CrossFit for years or has no experience, the coaches guide them throughout the workout.

"If someone is new we make sure to take them to the side and demonstrate the exercises so they do not hurt themselves," said Sellers. "We encourage everybody to come out and try CrossFit."

CrossFit classes are held Monday through Friday at 6 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. A class is also held Saturday at 10 a.m.

"I recommend that people try the class more than once," said Sellers. "It took me about three sessions to really understand it and get into a groove. Once that happened I was addicted and have not stopped."

The CrossFit classes are open to anyone who is able to use the fitness centers on base.

The Fitness Center offers several other fitness classes including Yoga/Pilates, step aerobics, spin and even Salsa classes for those that like to dance their way to a healthy lifestyle.

· Yoga/Pilates- Monday and Wednesday from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m.
· Step Aerobics- Monday and Wednesday from 9 to 10 a.m.
· Spin- Wednesday and Friday from 6:15 to 7 a.m.
· Salsa- Tuesday at 6 p.m. for beginners and 7 p.m. for intermediate.

For more information regarding the CrossFit classes and other fitness classes at the Air Base Fitness Center call 963-3347. The Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station Fitness Center also hosts several fitness classes to include: circuit training, Yoga, High Intensity Interval Training and Zumba. For more information on fitness classes at the Weapons Station Fitness Center call 764-4173.

Comedian Brings Humor To Safety Stand Down At Naval Air Station Jacksonville



By Kaylee LaRocque, Naval Air Station Jacksonville Public Affairs

NAS JACKSONVILLE, FL (NNS) -- A safety stand down was held for Commander, Navy Region Southeast (CNRSE) and Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) Sailors and civilian employees to remind them to make smart decisions to stay safe over the holiday season.

"This is a particularly dangerous time of year. We had 35 vehicular fatalities within the Navy last year, 20 of those were motorcycle accidents. Of that total, seven were within Navy Region Southeast. Any number above zero is too many," said CNRSE Rear Adm. Jack Scorby Jr. "It's about taking care of yourselves, your shipmates and your families. So look out for one another and be careful out there on the roads."

CNRSE/NAS Jax Safety Officer Ron Williamson also offered some advice to the audience. "There always seem to be more accidents in the holiday season than during the rest of the year. So this safety stand down is a good reminder for everyone to be more vigilant to safety measures, not only on the roads but at home," he said.

The guest speaker for the event was Steve Verret, a master traffic safety instructor and professional stand-up comedian. Verret, who has taught driver safety for more than 25 years, used humor to relay important information regarding vehicle insurance, measures to take to avoid accidents, seatbelt use, open container laws, drinking and driving and using cell phones while driving. As the crowd laughed at his jokes and answered his questions, they took away a wealth of information regarding traffic safety.

Verret stressed the importance of not using cell phones while driving.

"Cell phones are the new DUI. I think they are more dangerous than drunk driving because those who drink and drive normally know they are doing something wrong but those drivers talking on cell phones or texting don't think they are doing anything wrong," said Verret.

"It may or may not be against the law in certain states but when you are on the phone while driving, you are not focused on the road. And, cell phone usage can be used in liability cases if you have an accident so you may not get compensation or someone else may get more compensation," he continued.

For Verret, conducting safety stand downs for military members is an important cause.

"I try to positively reinforce safety every time I conduct one of these events. No matter how many times you tell someone not to drink or drive and to wear their seatbelts, there are still those who either ignore this advice or just don't get it," said Verret. "I try to reach military personnel through these presentations because they do so much for our country and I think it's a shame that someone puts their life on the line overseas and then they come home and do one thing carelessly in their vehicle and they either lose their lives or are injured."

Scorby concluded the stand down by stating, "We have the finest Navy military and civilian forces and I'm proud to serve with you. We need to have all of you back following the holiday season so be careful out there and remember the reason for the season."