Military News

Friday, July 27, 2012

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Proving Deadly for Veterans, Soldiers

Out of the Shadows and Steamboat Springs, Colorado, are joining forces to make an impact on the lives of our nation’s heroes. Sunday, July 29, has been proclaimed Post-traumatic Stress Day, in an effort to raise awareness of the symptoms and the resources available to soldiers and veterans whose lives are affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“PTSD affects nearly one in five veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan alone, and the current suicide rates among active duty service members have sky rocketed to one reported suicide a day. It is frightening to note that this statistic does not include the National Guard, Reservists or Veterans,” said Bob Mullen, Vietnam Veteran and Founder of Out of the Shadows.

“Our goal at Out of the Shadows is to offer support and education to those who have fought bravely for our nation,” said Mullen. “We have tools and resources readily available to soldiers nationwide to help them identify and rise above their PTSD, to help them face their lives again after combat.”

As part of Post-traumatic Stress Day, Out of the Shadows has organized a fundraiser to help provide free resources to people who suffer from PTSD, including the book The Five Lessons. Participants from across the United States will climb Longs Peak, one of Colorado’s most difficult 14,000-foot mountains, in order to help draw attention to how deadly PTSD can be and ensure those affected can have access to help for free. All have raised pledges for each foot of the 14,259-foot mountain they climb.

Climbers who have accepted the challenge include: four veterans of the Vietnam War, ranging in age from 69 to 73; a veteran from both Iraq wars, OIF and OEF; a number of climbers from Steamboat; and a team from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, led by David Melon, a member of the 2011 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. The Macalester team is climbing in memory of Clovis Ray, a football team member who died in Afghanistan.

For more information on Out of the Shadows or PTSD, or to access a copy of The Five Lessons please visit www.outoftheshadowsvets.com.

One step at a time led Edwards chaplain to AFMC marathon team

by Laura Mowry
412th Test Wing Public Affairs


7/25/2012 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Sept. 15, Team Edwards will send four Airmen to run the Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio. The four Airmen make up half of Air Force Materiel Command's team and will give it their all to make sure the trophy stays with the command after last year's success.

One of those runners is Capt. Joshua Stoley, 412th Test Wing chaplain, who vowed to make fitness an important part of his life after failing his first ever Air Force PT test. He will represent Team Edwards along with Master Sgt. Nancy Gonzales, 412th Security Forces Squadron; Staff Sgt. Alysse Pratti, 412th SFS; and Airman 1st Class Jeffrey Hines, 412th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

One step at a time Stoley worked his way up, earning one of eight coveted slots on the AFMC marathon team. It was a valuable lesson and one worth sharing.

Anything is possible, if you take it one step at a time. That is the message he teaches his children, while they ride their bicycles beside him as he trains for the upcoming marathon.

Whether applying the lesson to running or life in general, it is a principle that he is eager to share with others. Although staying healthy and fit to fight is a top priority for Stoley, equally important is the quality time he spends with his family while training.

"Being joined by my children is really encouraging. It's great that they want to spend time with me, not playing video games. Riding a bike six to seven miles is a challenge for them," said Stoley. "Ultimately, I want to set an example for my children."

His children started out one step at a time and eventually one mile at a time. Now, Stoley's children have mastered distances upwards of seven miles and have no trouble pedaling their bicycles, keeping pace with their father.

A distance of seven miles is a unique opportunity for Stoley to spend time with his children, mentoring and helping them to grow spiritually -- another top priority for the chaplain.

"Not everything is easy. Riding your bike seven miles sounds daunting, particularly if you're a 6- year-old. I want my children to understand that if you're taking one step at a time, by the time you're finished, you realize that you really can do anything," said Stoley.

"Whether I'm teaching my son math or we're praying together, it is important that we have that time. As a Christian family, it is important that we have this time to talk through scripture and see how he's growing. It's important that the obligation to train doesn't take away from my family," Stoley continued.

The bar is set high; not only was AFMC awarded the trophy last year, but Stoley set a personal record at the race. Although he will run the marathon again this year, the competition is not what motivates him to succeed.

"I'm not a competitive runner. I run for fitness and health. It has been neat to be selected and have the opportunity to represent the base and the command," Stoley said. "While running I have been passed by folks half my age or twice my age -- it is just my race to run."

After he finishes, you can be sure that he will be looking to sign up for the next race.

"I sign up early and then I'm committed. It keeps me honest. I'm just as lazy as everyone else," said Stoley. "I take it one day at a time, one step at a time. If you do that, you'll be surprised what you can accomplish."

Honduran, U.S. building partner capacity mission begins

by Staff Sgt. James Stewart
621st Contingency Response Wing


7/27/2012 - TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS -- Building partner capacity efforts are ongoing in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. U.S. Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing have deployed for the second time this year to work together with their Honduran counterparts. July 18 marked the first day for partnership building and idea exchanging for this deployment. Americans and Hondurans from a number of job specialties have come together to discuss a variety of topics including: air base defense, aircrew survival, aircraft maintenance, communications, fuels, medical and supply management.

"Progress was wonderful today. We were exchanging ideas with them on some aircraft maintenance problems," says Senior Master Sgt. Jason Hood, 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron senior enlisted manager.

He continues, "We were really looking forward to exchange ideas on how they balance rotor systems on their helos, and coincidently the Hondurans were outside doing just that." Hood is a helicopter crew chief and at the beginning of 2012 he deployed to Honduras. Now he is back with a team of aircraft maintenance experts. "We saw they were using equipment to balance the rotors we are familiar with. We got into a conversation with them about their processes. Really that's the reason we are here; to exchange ideas about how we can all be more effective and innovative in our jobs."

This deployment to Honduras is the second this year for the 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron.

"Today is the first chance we've had to meet our Honduran partners for this deployment. Building capacity with our partners must be a continuing effort. We all have to be in this for the long haul," say Maj. Lorena Tejada, the mission commander. "The Honduran airmen are excited they get to be innovators for their air force. For me, I am very enthusiastic about our partnership with the Hondurans and how it will impact the way we all implement new ideas in our respective Air Forces."

Tejada is on her first MSAS deployment but she is very familiar with this area of the world. "I grew up in both America and Colombia so I am familiar with the challenges countries in this region face," she says. "Change can come slowly because resources might not be available. Having spent much of my life growing up in this part of the world and I'm thrilled to play a part in building and maintaining this partnership, however long it takes."

Back on the flightline the Hondurans are busy working on their helicopters. "Unfortunately some maintenance issues halted the rotor balancing," said Hood. "I'm glad we have this opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences; working together is important because we have a lot to offer each other. Just because our Air Force does something one way does not mean that is the only way to do things. I'm excited to see what the next 30 days has to offer."

Activities will continue throughout the next 30 days. American and Honduran airmen will spend time discussing and demonstrating how they do their jobs in hopes to continue building a lasting relationship for the future.

571st MSAS, Colombia air force prepare for Red Flag Exercise

by Staff Sgt. John Ayre
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


7/27/2012 - DAVIS MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- With the Air Force continuously evolving, an emphasis has been placed on building partnerships and exchanging ideas with nations around the world.

The 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron recently completed a 4-week Air Mobility Command Building Partner Capacity mission to Colombia where they worked side-by-side with the Colombian air force to exchange invaluable knowledge that benefited both Colombia and the United States alike.

The mission also supports the 12th Air Force's (Air Forces Southern) continued engagements in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Over the course of the 571st MSAS mission in Colombia the two air forces built on an already strong partnership based on mutual respect, common interests and shared values.

"Colombia is a very important partner in South America," said Staff Sgt Javier, 571st MSAS air advisor loadmaster. "Having that interoperability between our two air forces will pay dividends in case of any natural disaster or future exercises and deployments involving both nations."

The 571st MSAS, stationed out of Travis AFB, Calif., brought their mission back to U.S. soil, at Davis Monthan AFB, Ariz.., where they continued to work with the Colombians while preparing to take part in their first ever Red Flag Exercise at Nellis Air Force Base in Neveda.

"This interaction with the U.S. Air Force is very important to us," said Master Sgt. John Pedraza, Colombian air force superintendent. "This opportunity to participate in Red Flag is something we can't just study about in books."

The Colombian air force's role in Red Flag is a first for the nation which, until now, typically works within its own bases. Red Flag is the world's premiere combat training exercise during more than 25 countries participate.

Red Flag has provided training to more than 440,000 military personnel, including more than 145,000 aircrew members flying more than 385,000 sorties and logging more than 660,000 hours of flying time. The mock battle in the skies over the Nevada Test and Training Range has yielded results that will increase the combat capability of each country's armed forces for future combat situations.

"This is a nice opportunity," Pedraza said. "I feel so proud and I want to be the best at Nellis."

AMC command chief returns to JB MDL

by Airman 1st Class Ryan Throneberry
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs


7/27/2012 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Chief Master Sgt. Andy Kaiser, Air Mobility Command's command chief, shared his hopes for the joint base Airmen here while outlining future expectations during a visit to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst July 17 through 21.

Kaiser, from AMC's headquarters at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., visited JB MDL as part of a multi-base tour July 16 through 21 that also brought him to Dover AFB. This was Kaiser's second visit to the world's premier joint warfighting base during his tenure as AMC command chief.

"The people who put this trip together took into consideration what I had time to see during my last visit," said Kaiser. "I now feel like I have a broader understanding of operations at JB MDL."

Kaiser maintains his stance on how the joint environment only serves to make the service members here stronger as a total force. He also mentioned how he has noticed the continued positive growth within the joint base since October.

"We were doing well here as a joint base nine months ago and we have only grown in our maturity," said the command chief. "It's great to see how much more mature the relationships and processes are. That's certainly a testament to the leadership here across the board."

Kaiser spoke of the entire AMC and its current operations tempo. Kaiser had said during his previous interview AMC was busier than it had ever been. It seems as though that fiery rate of operations may be slowly drawing back.

"We airdropped 80 million pounds of cargo in Afghanistan in 2011," said Kaiser. "During the early part of this year we thought we would exceed that in 2012. However, while we certainly continue to execute a lot of airdrop missions, it does not appear we will eclipse our 2011 mark."

He quoted Gen. Raymond Johns, AMC commander, by saying we are always one man-made disaster (like Libya), or one natural disaster (like Haiti or Japan) away from drastically ramping up our operations tempo because of our amazing capabilities in global reach. He went on to say leadership foresees a lessening of our hectic opstempo post-2014, assuming the current plan to remove all combat forces in Afghanistan stays on track and we are not engaged in another major operation.

Despite the slight ebb in AMC's overall tasking levels, Kaiser said he does not see mobility Airmen resting on their laurels. There remains much work to be done, particularly in Comprehensive Airman Fitness.

"We will continue to inculcate Comprehensive Airman Fitness into the psyche of our Airmen," said the chief. "The four pillars of CAF, mental fitness, physical fitness, spiritual fitness, and social fitness, enable our Airmen to handle the challenges of an Air Force career. We do not simply want our Airmen to be at the "survival" level. We want them to be thriving in their well-being, able to respond to the stressors of life in positive ways that make them stronger, more capable people and Airmen."

Kaiser's trip to Dover AFB and JB MDL actually began at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where he visited Staff Sgt. Brian Williams, a military working dog handler with the 87th Security Forces Squadron. Williams suffered serious injuries after an improvised explosive device detonated while he was on a mission outside Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan April 25.

"My time with Sergeant Brian Williams was very inspiring," said Kaiser. "He's such a remarkable person and a great Airman. Folks like us can't truly understand of all that he and fellow wounded warriors are going through. At best we can empathize and keep them in our prayers. I anticipate his recovery will go very well because he is an exceptional person who has a lot of great friends and family supporting him."

Kaiser served as the 621st Contingency Response Wing command chief from 2006 through 2008 prior to the joint base merger. He noticed changes within the CRW since his time there.

"The wing's relationship with the Army and their Joint Task Force-Port Opening mission-set continues to mature; leading to an even more effective global reach platform," he said "The biggest recent change for the wing is the combining of the former 615th CRW Airmen at Travis into one larger 621st CRW. We also continue to be excited about the establishment of two Mobility Support Advisory Squadrons, focusing on building partner capacity in multiple countries in South America and Africa."

Kaiser also spoke briefly about the next generation air refueler, the KC-46A, which begins operations in the next few years. It will eventually replace the aging KC-135 Stratotankers with more refueling capacity and enhanced capabilities for cargo and aeromedical evacuation.

"The KC-46A development and basing processes have many moving parts, and we continue to coordinate closely with Headquarters Air Force and the KC-46A program office in developing basing options and monitoring program performance. We realize the timeline for getting these aircraft into the inventory, and which bases where they will be located, is being closely tracked by military and community partners." said Kaiser.

As the Airmen of JB MDL look toward the future, so does AMC's command chief, "I think it will be awesome to see an even further integration amongst our services during my next visit for the good of all of our service members."

Struggling Veteran Gets Help, Secures Job

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2012 - When Corey Wynn was struggling with a lengthy job search and a bout with unemployment, a group of veterans' organizations helped him in a variety of ways.

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Corey Wynn struggled after he left the military, but got help through the Labor Department's Gold Card Initiative. Labor Department photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Wynn, an Alabama Army National Guardsman from Stevensville, Ala., was a military policeman in Iraq from 2009-2010. Once he came home from active duty, he worked at a string of odd jobs, but none lasted very long, and he had to draw unemployment, he said. He finally found a job with a security company, but after a month, he was laid off.

Wynn said he "really struggled" during that time. The key that began to open doors for him is when a veteran friend's advice prompted him to call all the veteran-related organizations and agencies he could find.

The guardsman qualified for the Labor Department's Gold Card Initiative -- in which service members receive intensive career guidance and help with their job search, according to department officials.

A representative with the Alabama Disabled Veterans Outreach Program, Bob Gossett, came to Wynn's aid.

Wynn learned how to apply for unemployment, and was given resources such as donated cell phone minutes to help him in his job search.

"They paid my rent, donated food, gave us Christmas presents and gift cards -- and even put gas in my car," Wynn said. Gossett drove him places where he could apply for jobs, and told Wynn to list him as a reference, the veteran said.

Wynn credits that gesture as leading to the job he wanted the most -- making sheet rock for the U.S. Gypsum Co., which gave him the on-the-job training he needed to learn his new craft.
"If [veterans] are having trouble finding a job, they need to contact all the organizations that help out veterans," Wynn advised, "because they really will help you."

Face of Defense: Marine Boxer Fights for Olympic Gold

By Gary Sheftick
Army News Service

LONDON, July 27, 2012 – After leading the U.S. boxing team in warm-ups yesterday, Marine Corps Sgt. Jamel Herring demonstrated the unique style and speed that may earn him an Olympic medal.


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Marine Corps Sgt. Jamel Herring raises his arms in victory after a hard-fought contest against Air Force Senior Airman Adan Hassan at the 2012 Armed Forces Boxing Championships at Paige Fieldhouse on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 3, 2012. Herring now is in London to represent the United States at the Olympic boxing competitions. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Trevon S. Peracca

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"I'm definitely an underdog here," said Herring, a light welterweight who surprised several opponents at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials with quick footwork and his ability to dodge punches. "It's like a hit and run. It's like a game of tag -- I'm hitting, and I'm gone."


"The minute you get frustrated, I'm right back on you."

Herring will be the first U.S. Marine boxer to climb into an Olympic boxing ring in 20 years. He said coaches sometimes compare him to "Sugar Ray" Leonard, who won Olympic gold at the 1976 games while fighting in the light-welterweight division. He said Leonard danced like Muhammad Ali -- avoiding punches and coming in for the knock-out.

"Speed creates power," Herring said.

Brazil's Everton Lopes, however, is the reigning world champion in the light-welterweight division and England's Thomas Stalker is the division's No. 1-ranked boxer.

"The odds are definitely not with us," said USA head boxing coach retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Basheer Abdullah, who added that all of his athletes have a fighting chance in London.

"You can't bet against this guy," Abdullah said. "There were a lot of people who didn't think he was going to win in the trials and he proved them wrong."

The coach said Herring demonstrates good team leadership and is one of the squad's three team captains.

"You'll see Jamel out front most of the time," Abdullah said. "That's a good NCO."

Yesterday, Herring led the team in warm-up exercises before participating in a number of agility and sparring drills around the mats with trainers such as U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program assistant coach Staff Sgt. Joseph Guzman, who also boxed for Abdullah.

"Jamel's a good mover," Guzman said. "He has good, strong legs. He boxes on the move. At times, he frustrates his opponents with the movement because his opponents never get a chance to set. By the time they want to throw a punch, he's already over here on the other side."

Herring said the Marine Corps has immensely helped him, in terms of discipline.

"I try to bring that Corps’ discipline to the athletes," Herring said. "Some of them are only 18 or 19 years old."

Herring, 26, said the Marine Corps helped him mature and that he has the respect of other boxers on Team USA. He said the Corps instilled him with a determination to "never give up," and that may be what takes him past the hurdles of the coming week.

Whatever happens, it won't be as tough as the fight in Fallujah, said Herring, who served in Iraq during 2005 and again in 2007.

Herring has been boxing for about 11 years, but he realizes that he's still a relative unknown in the ring.

"People don't think I have enough international experience and they don't give me a chance," Herring said. "It actually takes the pressure off me. I'd actually like to just come out of nowhere and win it all."

The day of the Olympic Opening Ceremony in London will mark the third anniversary of the death of Herring's daughter, Ariyanah, who died of SIDS. Her memory, he says, will be his inspiration for the London Games.

The first Olympic light-welterweight bouts are scheduled for July 29.

AF implements hiring tool 7 weeks ahead of schedule

by Debbie Gildea
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - RANDOLPH, Texas – Bringing new Air Force civilian employees on board is more efficient and timely now following full-implementation of the USA Staffing Onboarding Manager tool, said Air Force Personnel Center officials.

In April, AFPC initiated a phased implementation strategy to replace the civilian virtual inprocessing tool with the OM tool, starting with new hires at the Air Force Reserve Command, Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Arnold AFB, Tenn., and Eglin AFB, Fla., with a planned phased deployment to replace cVIP Air Force-wide.

“We expected full implementation to take until the end of August, but some hard work at every level – base, major commands, and AFPC – resulted in final deployment seven weeks ahead of schedule,” said Nancy Tackett, AFPC Human Resources Technical Operations Branch.

The tool helps reduce the average amount of time it takes to inprocess new civilians before they enter on duty, she said.

“It is one of several continuing efforts to move the service closer to an 80-day civilian hiring process,” she explained.

In addition to simplifying and speeding up the onboarding process, the OM tool brings AF hiring in line with Office of Personnel Management Enterprise Human Resources Integration requirements, Tackett said. It “speaks” to the electronic official personnel folder, enabling onboarding information to flow to the eOPF, reducing the number documents that must be manually processed.

“OM is one of many process improvements we have been working to implement to increase efficiencies, save time and money, and ultimately get the right people in the right place to accomplish the Air Force mission,” Tackett said.

40th HS records save number 394

by Airman 1st Class Cortney Paxton
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs


7/18/2012 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- A UH-1N Huey helicopter crew assigned to the 40th Helicopter Squadron recorded the unit's 394th save when they rescued an injured hiker on the west side of Peterson Lake, about 20 miles southwest of Missoula, Mont., July 8.

The crew consisted of Capt. Zach Minner, aircraft commander/pilot; 1st Lt. Jason Pettengill, co-pilot; and Staff Sgts. Nate Bever and Michael Frank, flight engineers.

"We were alerted by a phone call [the night before]," said Frank. "I felt confident going into it because this wasn't my first [SAR]."

Unlike Frank, this was Pettengill's first time participating in a search and rescue mission.

"It felt great being able to go out and help someone," he said.

A 25-year-old man was hiking when he fell 50 feet and sustained injuries to his spinal column, pelvis, ribs and head. After the Missoula Search and Rescue team found the man and was unable to evacuate him via ground egress, a call was made to Malmstrom requesting a helicopter with hoisting capabilities.

"When we got approval from the wing commander, we launched," Pettengill said. "Everyone was feeling pretty good going into it. Just the opportunity to help the survivor himself as well as the Missoula Search and Rescue team was fulfilling."

The crew was off the ground and on their way by 7:40 a.m. Following the 20 minutes it took them to reach the location, the crew had the man extracted within 25 minutes using a hoist and stokes litter.

"The only complication we had was high terrain all around with some widow-maker trees so we had to make sure to stay away from those," Pettengill said. "And then because of the high heat we lost some power; but other than that it went pretty smoothly."

After the injured man was safely secured in the aircraft, the crew flew 15 minutes to St. Patrick's Hospital in Missoula where he received further medical attention.

The SAR was successful because of the crew, said Frank. Without proper teamwork and dedication, the search and rescue mission could not have been completed.

"As a crew we were conservative and safe, making us able to successfully execute the mission," Pettengill said.

20th Air Force commander no stranger to Malmstrom

by Valerie Mullett
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs Office


7/26/2012 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Maj. Gen. Michael J. Carey visited Malmstrom Air Force Base and Wing One July 17 to 19 for the first time since taking command of 20th Air Force and Task Force 214 on June 22.
This was not his first trip to Big Sky Country, having been here three times prior; his first trip in the late 90's, when retired Maj. Gen. Tom Deppe was the wing commander. His other trips included one to witness a Simulated Electronic Launch of a Minuteman, and another to participate in then-Col. Michael Fortney's change of command.

"Three times, three different events and each time, I was favorably impressed by the professionalism of the 341st, conditions of the installation and the demeanor of the people - all top notch," Carey said.

On this visit, he was honored to present a Bronze Star Medal to Master Sgt. Michael Padgett during a breakfast with the wing's first sergeants. He offered some words of wisdom during a pre-departure briefing to the missileers preparing to go on alert. He also met the 40th Helicopter Squadron staff, who flew him to a missile alert facility for a tour. Upon his return, he spent time with the maintainers and the medics before conducting an all-call with the company grade officers.

"We are our own special operations," Carey said. "We grow our own and we put them in really difficult positions."

Talking about the launch control centers being underground, he made reference to how the earth causes wear and tear that many who don't know about the nuclear mission, don't see and, obviously don't understand.

"We ask these men and women to do remarkably important jobs in a remarkably difficult environment and they don't really get the recognition they deserve," he said. "It's very impressive, and I am incredibly proud."

That pride transcends into two of his priorities as commander: Telling the 20th AF story and singing the praises of its members who do such a special mission.

"Although we may lament the fact that our expertise bench is not as deep as we would prefer it to be, we have THE BEST expertise America can give us," the general said. "That's it. There is no place else that has this refined, distilled expertise. And you'll only find it in 20th Air Force."

On his final day here, the commander toured the weapons storage area and made a trip to a launch facility. During his flight to the LF, he witnessed helicopter, security forces and maintenance Airmen work in tandem to protect and defend a convoy operation.

"Everyone here has a critical job. Everyone here is critical to the success of our mission - everyone," Carey said. "And every day, our potential adversaries observe our activities. In order to ensure they will continue to say, 'No, not today,' we all need to continue being the professionals that only 20th Air Force can breed."

Going the extra mile - Warren member running marathon for charity

by Senior Airman Dan Gage
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs


7/20/2012 - F. E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- In less than two months, 15,000 runners will converge on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, for the 16th running of the Air Force Marathon.

Among the thousands stepping off the starting line will be one of Warren's own, Airman 1st Class Mark Currell, 319th Missile Squadron chef, as he raises money for the Air Force Enlisted Village.

Just three days before the 65th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force, Currell will join Air Force Global Strike Command's Elite team in his fundraising effort, and attempt to win the 26.2-mile race, which will travel through the National Museum of the United States Air Force, the Air Force Institute of Technology, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, the Wright-Patterson AFB flight line, Huffman Prairie Flying Field, and the Wright Brothers Memorial Monument.

Currell, who has been stationed here since March 2011, grew up in Washington where he ran competitively throughout high school and college. This will be his third marathon, but his first as a member of an AF team.

"Mark stepped up to the challenge of being our major command elite team member, representing our command and raising funds for the Air Force Enlisted Village," said Chief Master Sgt. Brian Hornback, AFGSC command chief. "His willingness to take the lead has placed him and our MAJCOM out front as the benchmark for this year's marathon teams."

Running for the AFGSC team came after some work according to Currell.

"I had been looking for a team earlier in the year but found I had missed the cut off," explained Currell. "After looking into a permissive temporary duty my supervisor told me about this opportunity. After that I went through my chain of command and here I am."

Currell is confident in his ability to win and raise money and awareness for the enlisted village.

"I wanted to do the AF Marathon in particular," said Currell. "I want to raise awareness in the base community of the benefits of staying active and running, and the ability to help other AF members is an added bonus."

Since arriving at Warren, Currell has become active in the Cheyenne community through running.

"I've always had a competitive mentality and love promoting the sport while helping people train," Currell added while discussing his volunteer work with a local high school track team.

"Unlike a lot of other organized sports, you don't need a team to go out and run," he said. "Running is a great lifetime sport and you can take it with you everywhere."

The ability to be versatile in training is a trait Currell now finds very useful.

"Being a missile chef involves a lot of travel to remote areas for extended periods," he explained. "My job keeps me busy, but I'm training whenever I can, when I'm not cooking or performing other duties around the missile alert facility.

"Every job has its ups and downs, and some people have a hard time traveling out to the field," Currell added. "Running can be a great way to improve yourself and makes it easier for me while in the field. I think it's good to change your training conditions up and I enjoy running on the gravel roads now as well."

Though the race is still two months away, Currell is confident in his ability, and is focusing his attention on fundraising efforts.

"Mark's a hard charging Airman," said Hornback. "He displays outstanding initiative and motivation to make a difference, and I am proud to have him on our team."

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Chief, vice chief of National Guard Bureau confirmed

By Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON (7/26/12) – This evening, the U.S. Senate confirmed Army Lt. Gen. Frank Grass to be the next chief of the National Guard Bureau and Air Force Maj. Gen. Joseph Lengyel to be vice chief.

Grass, who also will be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be promoted to four-star general and Lengyel will add his third star with his promotion to lieutenant general.

Today’s Senate action followed Grass’ July 19 hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Grass told that committee the National Guard is an operational force at a historic peak of readiness, its ranks filled with seasoned Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen, and a critical partner to the Army and Air Force at home and abroad.

“Your National Guard,” Grass – deputy commander, U.S. Northern Command, and vice commander, U.S. Element, North American Aerospace Command – told senators, “is more ready, more capable and rapidly deployable than ever before in our nation’s history and also ready to respond to disasters in our states, territories and the District of Columbia.

“The past decade,” he said, “has also demonstrated that the National Guard is an operational force and a critical partner with the Army and the Air Force in all missions, all contingencies and on the North American continent.”
He attributed the transformation of the National Guard to previous chiefs of the National Guard Bureau, directors of the Army and Air National Guard, adjutants general, senior enlisted and, he said, “Most importantly, the sacrifice and commitment of the Citizen-Soldiers, Airmen and their families.”

As chief, National Guard Bureau, Grass told senators, “I will work to ensure the capabilities gained since 9/11 are not lost and the investment not squandered.”

As the channel of communications to the adjutants general of the 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia, Grass will also partner with Congress, the Army and the Air Force to ensure the Guard’s readiness and availability, he said.

“To the men and women and families of the Army and the Air National Guard … you can know that I will be your strongest advocate,” Grass said.

Asked about the chief’s role on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Grass said, “As a member of the Joint Chiefs, I [will] definitely have to bring forward the adjutants generals’ and governors’ thoughts, concerns, on the homeland mission. … I also need to be able to balance that with the federal mission and deployable forces and be able to give my best military advice to the secretary of defense as well as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.”

Grass told senators he is an advocate of the National Guard’s 20-year-old, 64-nation State Partnership Program, which he was heavily exposed to during his tenure as director, mobilization and Reserve component affairs, at U.S. European Command and at other points in his career.

“For a very small amount of money, it’s been a tremendous program around the map,” Grass said, noting deployments by SPP partner countries and the enduring nature of both the partnerships themselves and individual, career-long relationships between Guard members and their partner country counterparts. “[I] saw the value every day, saw the relationships that were built over the last 20 years, especially in what used to be Eastern Europe during the Cold War.”
Grass’ biography tells a quintessential National Guard story – a quintessential American story:

In 1969, he enlisted in the Missouri Army National Guard. He served as a traditional Citizen-Soldier, juggling a civilian career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and family life with monthly drills at a National Guard armory. He was promoted to staff sergeant, and his awards include the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development ribbon. Twelve years after enlistment, in 1981, he was commissioned.

On July 19 - almost 43 years after enlistment and after a career that has seen full and part-time service in his local community, for his state and at the federal level; enlisted and commissioned; domestic and overseas - Grass found himself testifying to the committee, nominated to be a four-star general, to be the 27th chief of the National Guard Bureau and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His wife, Patricia, sat among the spectators. The couple have five children and seven grandchildren.

“My service in the National Guard would not have been possible without her tremendous family support,” Grass told the committee.

Grass will succeed Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, the first four-star general and first to be appointed to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the National Guard’s more than 375-year history.

Lengyel, the senior U.S. defense official in Egypt, will be the first three-star vice chief of the National Guard Bureau. The position of vice chief was re-established and elevated to the three-star level by the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.

Lengyel is a command pilot with more than 3,000 flying hours, mostly in the F-16 Fighting Falcon. His 30-year career has included extensive service with the Texas Air National Guard and key assignments as commander, 455th Expeditionary Operations Group, Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan; commander of the Air National Guard Readiness Center at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland; and vice commander, First Air Force, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.

Air Advisor Academy unveils memorial for fallen Airmen

by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Rojek
Air Force News Service


7/27/2012 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. (AFNS) -- The Air Advisor Academy here hosted a dedication ceremony for the new Air Advisor Memorial here July 27.

While the memorial honors all air advisors who have made the ultimate sacrifice, the ceremony honored eight Air Force and one contracted air advisors who were killed in Afghanistan April 27, 2011.

More than 100 family members of those air advisors, as well as fellow air advisors and Air Force and community leaders, flew from around the world to attend the ceremony and honor the fallen:

Lt. Col. Frank Bryant Jr.
Maj. David Brodeur
Maj. Jeffrey Ausborn
Maj. Raymond Estelle II
Maj. Phil Ambard
Maj. Charles Ransom
Capt. Nathan Nylander
Master Sgt. Tara Brown
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. James McLaughlin

Linda Ambard, the widow of Major Ambard, said he was humbled when she first heard about the plans for the memorial, especially because her husband was immigrant to the U.S. He had emigrated to the U.S. from Venezuela when he was 12 years old. Seeing her husband's military service honored and remembered by his Air Force family made her appreciate that extended family that much more, she said.

"It really is nice to know people still care, people still remember," Ambard said. "His name stands as a testimony to a life well lived."

That camaraderie played an important part in completing the memorial, said Col. Olaf Holm, the Air Advisor Academy commandant and the creative force behind the project. The whole thing was built through donations and volunteer labor, and the fact that it was finished in approximately four months is a testament to the ideas of community and family, Holm added.

The idea of having a peaceful, private place where people can remember and reflect on air advisors who have made the ultimate sacrifice is one Holm said he hopes will be embraced by the families of the fallen nine.

"These are really wonderful people who have gone through a tremendous amount," Holm said. "If in some way this eases their pain and makes them feel better, it's going be a huge emotional time for me."

Carter Assesses Results of Asia-Pacific Trip

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, July 27, 2012 - Heading back to Washington yesterday after a 10-day Asia-Pacific tour, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said he had succeeded in informing allies and partners about specific aspects of the U.S. strategic rebalance, and had, in turn, received strategic and practical information about what the shift means to other nations.

"I think that what our partners and allies in this region are looking for is confirmation that the United States is serious and concrete about shifting ... a great deal of our emphasis from the places we have been -- of necessity -- preoccupied for the last decade, namely Iraq and Afghanistan, to the Asia-Pacific region," Carter noted.

He told American Forces Press Service that during his travels, he gave allies a level of planning detail and a number of examples relating to specific U.S. strategic rebalancing events that helped them understand "that we are, as I said at the beginning of the trip, walking the walk and not just talking the talk."

During his travels since July 17, the deputy secretary has told high-level ministers in Japan, Thailand, India and South Korea, as well as senior military officials in Hawaii and civilian and uniformed leaders in Guam, that the United States will increase its regional naval presence over time, invest in technologies relevant to the region's needs, and increase forward-deployed presence or troop rotations in several key areas of the theater, from Australia to Guam to Singapore.

Partnered training and exercises will also deepen U.S. strategic engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, he added. Carter said there are two reasons he's confident DOD can carry out the strategy even with a constrained defense budget.

First, he said, a lot of excess capacity has been freed up from Iraq and more will become available as resource commitments in Afghanistan ease. Pentagon leaders can re-invest that capital to build U.S. military posture in the Asia-Pacific region, the deputy secretary said.

"The second reason is that we are prioritizing capabilities that are particularly relevant to this region in our budget," the deputy secretary continued. "Even though we don't have all the money we want, we have all the money we need for the Asia-Pacific ... re-posturing."

Carter said he received valuable input from government ministers across the Asia-Pacific region and from U.S. military commanders.

"I got a lot of useful thinking -- strategic and practical -- about how we can carry the rebalance to the next level. Because this isn't a one-year thing; this isn't just a fiscal [2013] issue," he said. "We have to keep going. This is a transition that our department will undergo for several years."

"From our commanders out there, who are on the scene every day -- all of whom are superb -- I got lots of good ideas," Carter added.

The deputy secretary said the U.S. commanders he spoke with also discussed their operations and plans, including multinational exercises with partner and allied forces.

"[The commanders] are wonderful executors of the strategy, and also wonderful ambassadors for our department," Carter said. "All of them are spectacular."

Allied and partner senior officials he has spoken with this month offered suggestions to improve U.S. military-to-military or government-to-government cooperation, the deputy secretary said.

"For example, in India, which was very important ... I discussed with all of the senior leadership in the Indian government ways that we can strengthen our cooperation and deepen it technologically," he said, noting the Indians don't want to just buy American weapons systems.

"They have a proud technological heritage," Carter said of the Indians. "and they want a relationship that enriches that, and enables that -- not just a buyer-seller relationship."

Such technology-sharing partnerships are long-established with Japan, South Korea and Thailand, the deputy secretary noted. "We've had longer partnerships with them," he added. "So much more is established, but much more remains to be done. So I discussed with the ministers of defense and other leaders in Japan, the Republic of Korea and Thailand ways that we can step up our cooperation with them in a way that reflects the rebalancing."

As part of an overall force posture adjustment in the Asia-Pacific, DOD plans to relocate some U.S. troops based in both Japan and South Korea over the next several years. DOD officials have described those moves as intended, in part, to ease pressure on populations in congested urban areas. These kinds of responses to partner nation conditions are part of what the new strategy aims for, Carter said.

"I would say that our partners out here are overwhelmingly welcoming of our attention to them, and effort on [their] behalf," he said. "I emphasized, as I always do, that our perspective is regional and global. It's to keep a good thing going in the Asia-Pacific region."

For 70 years the region has enjoyed peace and stability "for everyone," Carter noted.

"I say 'everyone' because people always ask me about China, and I always say the rebalancing is not about China," he said. "It's not about the United States. It's not about any one country; it's about regional security. It's that environment of security that has led to 40 years now, in Asia, of remarkable progression in lifting people from poverty: first Japan, then South Korea, then Southeast Asia, now China and India."

"It's a great story of human progress, and it doesn't come automatically," Carter continued. "There has to be security for progress, [and] we have been an important part of providing that for decades. And we intend to do that for decades in the future."

The deputy secretary acknowledged that in some ways the rebalancing strategy is a "back to the future" approach to the region.

"We have been playing this role in the Asia-Pacific theater for many decades," Carter said. "And all we're saying is that we intend to continue to play it.That needs to be emphasized, because many people in the region and also in our own country have been preoccupied, very understandably, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."
"And they may have lost sight of the fact that an anchoring commitment of global security is here in the Asia-Pacific region," he added, "and we are that anchor."

Family Matters: Joining Forces Exceeds Expectations, Director Says

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2012 - When First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden started the "Joining Forces" campaign 15 months ago, they did so with the goal of creating impactful and lasting health, education and employment support for military families.

The campaign had two significant achievements this week that its director, Navy Capt. Brad Cooper, told me hit both of those marks.

First, North Carolina became the 26th state to pass a law making it easier for military spouses to transfer their professional licenses. South Carolina and Hawaii passed similar laws in recent weeks, potentially affecting tens of thousands of military spouses, Cooper said. With similar legislation pending in California, Ohio and New Jersey, the campaign is "exceeding our expectations" in getting laws passed in all 50 states by the end of 2014, he said.

"As I take step back and look this – and my dad was an Army officer – this signals a pretty remarkable cultural shift," Cooper said. "I remember my mother -- as well as my wife, spouses of my friends -- were reluctant even to indicate they were military spouses" to prospective employers, he said.

Second, the National Association of Social Workers, at its annual convention here this week, announced it is launching a free, online training course for all social workers to better understand the unique needs of military families. It also is providing a set of standards for working with veterans and military families, and is creating a professional Credential for Social Work with Veterans and Military Families.

Social workers are considered the nation's frontline mental health services providers, and they practice in every county in the country. The NASW represents 650,000 of them. Its pledge to Joining Forces follows that of the four largest nursing associations, representing 3 million nurses, and the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, with 105 and 25 schools, respectively, in training doctors to serve military families and veterans. The Association of Marriage and Therapy Therapists also has signed on, as well as associations representing psychiatrists, psychologists and surgeons.

"This really represents, to me, not just the impactful piece, but the sustaining piece," Cooper said.

Spouses' and veterans' employment also has made major strides, Cooper said. More than 2,000 companies have signed on already hiring 25,000 spouses and 65,000 veterans, and pledging to hire another 175,000 in the next two years, helping bring down the veterans' unemployment rate, he said.

"This really is the largest outreach and advocacy efforts we've had on behalf of veterans and their families for years," Cooper said.

Joining Forces has been successful, he said, because "we've been able to breach through years and years of bureaucracy and bring people together and focus them on the effort." All they needed was leadership and direction, he added.

"People, generally, want to be helpful," Cooper said. "They don't always know what they can do. Our objective is to steer them to meaningful action."
Joining Forces' efforts have caught the attention of military spouses.

Innovative simulator solution enhances training, saves millions of dollars

by Nathan Simmons
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs


7/27/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- A significant milestone for remotely piloted aircraft was ushered in July 10 with the first student sortie in an innovative T-6 Texan II simulator.

The new setup has dramatically increased the ability to train remotely piloted aircraft pilots, and the ingenuity behind the new simulator saves the Air Force millions of dollars. Completing the same training using traditional T-6 simulators, which cost about $3 million each, would have cost upward of $27 million total, which doesn't count the price of a new building it would require to house them.

Training RPA pilots is increasingly critical to mission success, as they are relied on heavily by our armed forces.

"RPAs are the most requested asset in the combat theater," said Maj. Gen. Timothy Zadalis, AETC Director of Intelligence, Operations and Nuclear Integration. "This capability continues to save lives and provide support down range."

When Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz solidified the RPA career field in May 2010, overloading the training system with new aviators became a significant challenge. Robert Englehart, Deputy Chief of Air Education and Training Command's RPA Training Branch, said that with the increase in demand for RPA pilots came the need to expand the capability to train them, but expanding wasn't as simple as it sounds.

"We had to be creative in our solution to this problem, as the increase in need for RPA pilots was paired with shrinking defense budgets," Englehart said. "By staying with the T-6, AETC is able to use courseware and support materials the Air Force has already paid for. AETC really stepped up and found a low-cost solution relatively quickly."

"These simulators use high-end desktop computers with powerful graphics cards to display the T-6 cockpit and instrument displays," said Lt. Col. Scott Cerone, 558th Flying Training Squadron commander. "Real-world surroundings are projected from three high-powered projectors to give the pilots a 180-degree view of the world outside their cockpits."

Another major payoff results from the significantly lower cost of replacing these components compared to those in the traditional simulator. Significant savings are also found in the time and cost of training, as roughly $515,000 is spent to train a traditional pilot versus around $33,000 to train an RPA pilot.

Traditional pilots undergo 48 weeks of training, whereas RPA pilots train in a rigorous 22 week program before they are sent to their units to train on specific aircraft.

Undergraduate RPA Training is composed of three courses. The first course is an initial flight screening in which RPA pilots learn the basics of commanding an aircraft. They then come to the 558th Flying Training Squadron at Randolph AFB, the single source of all Air Force URT for the RPA instrument qualification course. They then move on to an RPA fundamentals course, in which they get grounding in combat operations on a simplified MQ-9 Reaper simulator.

In the first two courses, pilots learn to use the radio, work with air traffic control, learn instrument procedures, situational awareness, Airmanship and all the pilot-in-command skills they need to fly. When traditional pilots graduate from training, they spend some time as a co-pilot or wingman, where they are able to learn under the mentorship of a more experienced aviator. RPA pilots do not get this experience, and thus are expected to demonstrate their pilot-in-command skills very quickly.

This tiered approach to training was beta tested in 2009 before Schwartz formalized the program in 2010. In the 2009-2010 time frame, the Air Force produced roughly 45 RPA pilots. In fiscal year 2013, the 558th FTS plans to produce around 165.

"Dubbed 'the eyes in the sky', these machines and the pilots who operate them are essential, constantly watching our troops on the ground every minute of every day and providing reconnaissance and strike support when needed," Zadalis said.

Panetta Salutes Korean War Vets at 59th Armistice Observance

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2012 - Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta observed the 59th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice today by reminding a gathering of Korean War veterans that America will not permit cuts to the military to again "allow us to lose our edge", as he says happened on the eve of that conflict more than 60 years ago.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
A member of the honor guard brings a wreath to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta as South Korean Ambassador Choi-Young jin looks on during a ceremony to mark the 59th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War armistice at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., July 27, 2012. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Panetta was the keynote speaker at an observance of the armistice that ended the 1950-1953 conflict, held at Arlington National Cemetery, just across the river from Washington. It was an opportunity to remember the more than 50,000 U.S. service members who lost their lives in the Korean War, and to celebrate the "sheer grit, determination, and bravery" of those who fought for a noble cause in a distant land to make the world a safer place, he said.

"For three long, bloody years, American troops fought and died in Korea, in difficult conditions, where the country's mountainous terrain and the unrelenting cold of winter were bitter enemies in themselves," Panetta said.

"It was an uncompromising war, where capture by a vicious enemy often meant summary execution. In Korea, American troops and their allies were always outnumbered by the enemy, awaiting the chilling sound of bugles and horns that would signal another human wave attack."

Panetta said the troops that fought during that Cold War conflict will never forget the battles waged in the country's mountains and at Massacre Valle, Bloody Ridge, Chosin Reservoir and Pork Chop Hill. Those fights, he said, "became synonymous in our lexicon with the heroic sacrifice and the grim determination of the American fighting man."

The Korean War caught America unprepared, Panetta said, and the mighty military machine that liberated Europe and conquered the Japanese empire had been rapidly demobilized. Only a few years of under-investment had left the United States with a hollow force, he added.

"The American soldiers and Marines initially sent to Korea were poorly equipped, without winter clothing and sleeping bags, with insufficient ammunition and inadequate weapons, including bazookas that weren't strong enough to stop North Korean tanks."

But those green troops sent to stem the tide of communism soon turned into savvy combat veterans, he said, and what they weren't taught before their baptism by fire, they quickly learned on the unforgiving battlefield. They soon became a battle-hardened force, Panetta said, that fought from one end of Korea to the other, halting repeated drives to capture the peninsula, and in the process inflicting massive casualties on the enemy. 

"As we honor our Korean War veterans we must also remember the more than 7,900 Americans missing in action," he said. "The Department of Defense is dedicated to resuming the search [to find] the remains of fallen service members missing in action in Korea. We will leave no one behind ... until all of our troops come home."

South Korea has grown strong and has become independent, and the Korean War's moniker as "The Forgotten War" no longer holds true, he added.

"Thanks to the service and sacrifice of our veterans six decades ago ... South Korea is a trusted ally, an economic power, a democracy and a provider of security in the Asia-Pacific region, and in other parts of the world."

Panetta contrasted the South's progress with "the bleakness" of the North, which he said remains a dangerous and destabilizing country bent on provocation, "and is pursuing an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction while its people are left to starve."

Two crucial lessons were learned from the Korean War, Panetta said.

"Too many American troops paid a heavy price in Korea because they were not provided the necessary training and the right weapons. They were sent into a tough fight with little preparation ...Only a few short years after World War II, dramatic cuts to the force made us lose our edge -- even though the world remained a dangerous place. We will not make that mistake again. That's why today, coming out of a decade of war, we have put forward a strategy-driven defense budget to meet the challenges of the future. The world remains a dangerous place, and America must maintain its decisive military edge."

America "must remain the strongest military power in the world, and ... make no mistake: We will be ready to defeat aggression – anytime, anyplace."

Panetta said the second lesson taught by the Korean War is the service and sacrifice made by a generation that bravely fought on its battlefields.

"Some 60 years ago, a generation of Americans stepped forward to defend those in need of protection and to safeguard this great country. America is indebted to them -- to you, for your service and your sacrifice. Sixty years ago, the bugles sounded and you helped strengthen this country for 60 years. America will never forget you."

Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, another generation stepped forward to lead, and its strength will be America's strength for decades to come, Panetta said.

"Over the past decade of war this new generation has done all this country has asked of them and more," he said. "They take their place alongside all of you -- another greatest generation of heroes that exemplifies the best that America has to offer. Our nation is great because generation after generation after generation, when the bugle sounded, our [military] responded."
In commemoration of the Korean War, Panetta said America should always remember "the sacred call to duty," and to "renew our commitment to honoring those who have fought, who have bled, and who have died to protect our freedoms and our way of life."

Defenders prepare for ORI challenge

by Tech. Sgt. Elizabeth Moody
446th Airlift Wing, Public Affairs


7/16/2012 - MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- Many people ease into a Saturday morning with the morning paper in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. Reservists from the 446th Security Forces Squadron here are a little different.

Wanting to do more than just augment active duty security forces, the Defenders volunteered to participate in an upcoming Operational Readiness Exercise and Operational Readiness Inspection.

This meant getting up in the wee hours of the morning and easing into July's Unit Training Assembly by suiting up with protective overgarments and practicing Mission-Oriented Protective Posture level two, or MOPP 2.

Early-rising civilians might be searching for the brew buttons on their coffee makers while the eager Citizen Airmen continued their ORI preparations by setting up entry control points and vehicle and personnel search areas, establishing a Base Defense Operations Center, a landline and radio communications system and multiple defensive fighting positions.

"The 446th SFS has never participated in an ORI because historically our mission was backfilling for the active duty and providing law enforcement," said Maj. Raymond Schierhoff, 446th SFS commander. "We used to be a strategic Reserve but we are quickly becoming an operational Reserve."

The Defenders had a long list of things to do before they could even think about what was on the day's lunch menu.

"When boots hit the ground at the ORI, we have a limited amount of time to set up operations," said Schierhoff, who is also a Washington State trooper. "They are working hard now to prepare them for the ORE in September and ORI in October."

Two squads from the 446th SFS trained for a number of scenarios in a mock deployment to a remote air base with an enemy that has various weapons capabilities, said Senior Master Sgt. Michelle Helpenstell, 446th SFS operations superintendent.

"We have a lot of knowledge and experience in our unit," said Helpenstell. "As a leader it's very important to ask what scenarios our forces want to see and train for because through the line, they know what they need to practice; we try to make our training as realistic as possible."

Gaining support from the active duty and other Reserve units at McChord Field, was a crucial step in preparing the 446th SFS for the ORE and ORI.

"I can't emphasize enough how much our active duty and Reserve counterparts have supported us," said Helpenstell. "From providing sandbags, barriers and vehicles, the active duty and other Reserve units have bent over backwards to help provide the equipment necessary for us to train effectively."

"The process of training for the OER and ORI preparation has had a dual effect," said Master Sgt. Michael Pate, 446th SFS training NCOIC. "We've had to take that training with our new wartime task mission and give our newer members an overall view of our future mission for security forces. The preparation has shown us our strength and weaknesses, our equipment and personnel shortfalls and now we have a forward-looking goal of our next fiscal year to continue to train and prepare for any wartime tasking."

Reservists among victims in Colorado shooting tragedy

7/21/2012 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- An Air Force Reservist was killed and another was wounded during the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo., theater July 20.

Staff Sgt. Jesse Childress, 29, was among the 12 fatalities and another Air Force Reservist was among 58 wounded during a midnight shooting rampage at the Century 16 multiplex, about 10 miles from downtown Denver.

Childress, from Thornton, Colo., was a cyber systems operator on active duty orders with the 310th Forces Support Squadron, Buckley Air Force Base, Colo.

The wounded Reservist, also on active duty orders at Buckley AFB, was treated and released yesterday.

Rescue efforts combine in force during Red Flag 12-4

by Master Sgt. Sonny Cohrs
23d Wing Public Affairs


7/27/2012 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Air combat exercises like Red Flag 12-4 puts pilots to the test in the air, but for one B-1B Lancer pilot his skills were tested on the ground as well.

The Nevada Test and Training Range serves as the aerial playground for war games during Red Flag. With more than 12,000 square miles of airspace and 2.9 million acres of land, NTTR offers pilots and other aircrew members a unique environment and terrain coupled with training scenarios that are not possible elsewhere.

Their mission July 24: recover two isolated personnel from the remote Nevada desert.

Acting as downed aircrew for this combat search and rescue exercise was U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Kyle Harrington, a B-1 bomber pilot with the 34th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.

"I'll be playing [with] a simulated injury - a broken leg," Harrintgon said. "You've got guys hunting you down, and this tests evasions skills and the recovery skills of the A-10 and HH-60. I'll call them and let them know where I'm at and vector them in."

In addition to survival training for Harrington, the mission also served as an upgrade qualification for the A-10 pilot calling the shots from the air. Typically, the slow-moving A-10 is a natural platform for coordinating air assets as the rescue mission commander. Fighters, bombers, refuelers, helicopters and Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft were all dispatched for the rescue effort.

"Yesterday was an upgrade for me, and my first look at being a rescue mission commander," said Capt. Ryan Allen, an A-10C pilot with the 74th Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Ga.

"We coordinated all of the assets to rescue isolated personnel or downed aircrew. We had air-to-air, air-to-ground and a rescue mission. We had 50-plus aircraft that were out there - F-15s, F-16s, tankers and AWACS."

As Harrington scrambled to get to a designated rendezvous spot for pickup, Allen orchestrated more than 50 aircraft into position in the NTTR airspace.

This was my fist time leading the rescue mission effort," he said. "The biggest takeaway was the mission integration; being able to have a lot of people who could tell me what they can bring to the fight."

Once Harrington's location was confirmed by Allen, he relayed that information to other aerial assets in the area to coordinate the pickup at the landing zone.

"His position was about 150 meters northeast of our original coordinates," said Capt. Brian Campbell, 66th Rescue Squadron HH-60 pilot at Nellis. "There was a little bit of a delay - 15-30 seconds of searching when we came over that ridge line. It's a lot more difficult to see him in that terrain. Our gunner got eyes on first and the co-pilot made the approach to the landing zone."

Campbell said typical training with the 66th RQS consists of a two-ship helicopter formation, with man simulations for other airframes, but having the fast-moving fighters interact with the much slower helicopters adds a certain realism.

"We don't get to do CSAR task forces a lot. The opportunity to participate in a large force exercise is somewhat unique. They're used to a quick air war, but with the helos it takes us longer," he said.

And although Harrington wasn't in control of his B-1B for this scenario, he still understands how important training like this at Red Flag is.

"The biggest thing I take away is how the B-1 flows with the other platforms and the specific piece it fills during a combat mission. Back home, it's just us. We very rarely get dissimilar aircraft training. This is great training for integration."

After nearly three hours of evading simulated enemy personnel, Harrington successfully made his way 1.8 miles to the extraction zone. By his side for safety was a survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist.

"I'm there for safety and making sure he gets to the right spot to conduct training for the guys in the air," said Senior Airman Kevin Webb, a SERE specialist deployed from the 22nd Training Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.

"I think he did great," Webb said. "He followed all of his communications procedures - that's one of the most important things: staying in contact with the recovery personnel. As long as you have comm, they can suppress fire and bring in resources. He signaled at the proper time - that's why the helicopter came straight to us. Speed is always security with a CSAR task force."

64th ERQS signals end of rescue in Iraq

by Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel
23d Wing Public Affairs


7/27/2012 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- It's the end of a long chapter in Iraq as the final Airmen from 64th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron began returning home this month. The first 13 Airmen landed in Valdosta, Ga., July 17, and the remaining personnel will be returning home within the next few weeks.

The 64th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron began operations in Iraq in 2003 and has supported Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn. The returning unit supported operations in an alert posture, ready to perform personnel recovery missions.

"We are closing a chapter in that region," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Rudolph Taute, 41st Rescue Squadron HH-60G instructor pilot. "We have been there since 2003 when Operation Iraqi Freedom kicked off.

"It feels great to be back home to reconstitute," he added. "I'm glad to be back, especially with the high operations tempo rescue has kept up."

The 64th ERQS started operations in Ballad, Iraq, until it was recently moved to a location in Southwest Asia.

"It is the end of 64th ERQS deployments to U.S. Air Forces Central," said Col. Steven Gregg, 347th Rescue Group commander. "Since every active-duty HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue squadron has served in the 64th ERQS, I feel that this is significant.

"The 64th ERQS has had many Air Force-level awards, Distinguished Flying Crosses and numerous saved lives," he added.

From May 29, 2012, to July 13, 2012, the 41st RQS flew a total of 145.7 hours with 1,263 total flying training events. They completed joint exercises with the U.S. Army and Navy. The squadron also performed terminal area employment with U.S. Army AH-64 Apaches and shipboard operation with the U.S. Navy.

"Personnel recovery is important because it's in service of others," Taute said. "It is vital in the joint fight.

"It is important that when we send guys out in harm's way, we have the capability to get them out if necessary," he added.

Gregg agrees with Taute about the importance of rescue.

"Coalition forces in harm's way deserve the best medical care they can possibly get," said Gregg. "It's a combination of forces in Air Force rescue that provides that."

The 64th ERQS also provided support for U.S. special operations forces, covering hundreds of missions.

"The Air Force Rescue Family is proud of all the accomplishments achieved during the lifespan of the 64th ERQS," said Gregg. "We look forward to meeting the challenges of the future with the same professionalism as we did in Iraq and Kuwait."

As one chapter closes, another will surely open. These highly skilled Airmen have been called upon since the daring jungle rescues in Vietnam to the relief efforts in Haiti, and they will continue to be called upon to perform the important role of personnel recovery.

Security Hill couple finds ice is nice

by Wayne Amann
LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas


7/27/2012 - LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- It's Friday night and a husband and wife are on a date -- of sorts.

While other couples are taking in a movie, enjoying a restaurant meal or socializing with friends, 1st Lt. Andrew Caulk and 1st Lt. Jennifer Caulk are chasing a three-inch by one-inch piece of vulcanized rubber with graphite sticks on a 200-foot by 85-foot slippery surface.

They're teammates on the Angry Unicorns, a hockey team in the Adult Recreational League that skates at the Ice and Golf Center at Northwoods rink in suburban San Antonio, Texas.

For Andrew, of the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency and Jennifer, with the 453 Electronic Warfare Squadron here, playing an unlikely sport like hockey serves a purpose in their lives.

"It's important to spend quality time together, especially when neither of us is deployed," Jennifer said. "Playing sports is a great way to multitask fitness, fun and relationship-building."

The Caulks enjoy more conventional activities together like racquetball, walleyball, volleyball, ultimate frisbee, yoga, running, biking and sailing. But, hockey offers them a rugged edge they don't shy away from.

"Jenn is a very tough woman," Andrew said. "I saw her get knocked down against a couple guys playing ultimate Frisbee and she jumped up and kept going."

Jennifer isn't overly concerned about Andrew's safety either.

"He's been playing without a cage or shield attached to his helmet, but we're in a no-checking league so there's much less risk of injury," she said. "We wear so many pads that in most situations when we have a significant impact we don't feel any pain."

The couple's hockey interest surfaced at different points in their lives.

"I grew up in (Orlando) Florida, so I had very little exposure to ice, besides what we kept in our freezer," Jennifer quipped. "I started playing hockey because it was the closest sport to broomball, which I fell in love with while attending the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, from 2008 to 2010."

Meanwhile, her husband has been a hockey fan since his childhood days.

"I always wanted to play hockey, however, it's an expensive sport and we couldn't afford it growing up," Andrew said. "So I played a lot of street hockey with my friends, then went ice skating as I got older. I am from (Cheboygan) Michigan after all."

The ARL sports three other teams, the Warriors, the Kodiaks and the Honey Badgers. Each team plays a 12-game schedule. Each game uses a one-hour running clock.

The league is one of three at Northwoods, all organized by the director of hockey operations and former National Hockey League player Dale Henry.

"I think it's great that married couples want to play a sport together they both enjoy," Henry said. "Hockey is growing as a recreational sport because it's great exercise, and the players like being part of a team."

ARL players range from those just starting to play the game, to those who've been playing a few years. The ARL is designed for players looking to get a good skate in a relaxed atmosphere with minimal competition.

"Not only are the games fun, but they're great for your body and your mind. They're stress relievers," Jennifer said. "Our team has a positive attitude and they're newcomer-friendly."

On this particular Friday night the Honey Badgers out-skated the Angry Unicorns 14-2, dropping the pink jersey-clad team's record to 0-2. For the Caulks, it's not about the score.

"I don't play particularly well, but I have a lot of fun doing it with the right people," Jennifer said.

Her line mate on the team and in life, Andrew, agrees.

"Anyone interested in playing hockey with their spouse should go for it," he said. "Make sure you're prepared for the soreness though!"

Dyess trains for night fight

by Airman 1st Class Damon Kasberg
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

7/27/2012 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- When the sun goes down, the enemy threat doesn't follow.

In the early morning July 19, Dyess service members gathered at the 7th Security Forces Squadron Combat Arms building to perform night-fire training, which gives Airmen the opportunity to get accustomed to shooting with night vision goggles.

They fired 70 rounds from an M-4 Carbine mounted with a PVS-14 in front of a red dot sight. The scope collects small amounts of light and amplifies it, allowing Airmen to see down range in low-light situations. The targets were 25 feet away, but distances are simulated between 70 and 300 meters.

"We give them this equipment so they can get used to firing at night," said Senior Airman Davis O'Brien, 7th SFS. "Most of the time when people come in for combat arms training it's during the day, but that doesn't mean the enemy is going to attack during the day."

Shooting in low-light situations presents unique challenges that can hinder an Airman's ability to hit targets if they're not familiar with the equipment.

"Firing in the night is quite different," O'Brien said. "Once you have the NVGs on your weapon, it throws your sights off and you have to be careful of washouts, when your night vision turns off, which can delay firing. When searching for targets, you also have to keep an eye out for light sources or silhouettes."

Training such as this helps prepare the Airmen for situations they might encounter during the night.

"I believe that the night fire helps us gain the experience to use our weapons in that environment," said Airman 1st Class Sirenna Marindeleon, 7th SFS. "The more we do night fire, the more we get used to it. It's good training and we have great instructors."