Military News

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Witnessing their spouses' role in the refueling mission

by Airman 1st Class Maurice A. Hodges
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


10/9/2012 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Fifteen spouses from the 22nd Operations Group flew on an orientation flight Oct. 4, 2012, McConnell Air Force Base, Kan.

The four-hour flight showcased a KC-135 Stratotanker refueling another KC-135 over the Midwest. The event was a tribute to the daily sacrifices made by McConnell spouses.

"We have these kinds of flights to show our appreciation for [spouses] and show them what we do," said Staff Sgt. Parker McElroy, 384th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator.

Prior to the flight, spouses learned about the 63 KC-135 assigned to McConnell, the 22nd Air Refueling Wing's mission and its impact on air refueling globally. The spouses also learned about McConnell's direct and indirect humanitarian efforts, ranging from the earthquake in Haiti to assisting the president during 9/11.

It was the first military flight for several of the spouses.

"A lot of times spouses don't have an idea what air refueling is," said Maj. Clarence Lovejoy, 22nd Operations Group chief pilot. "They get an idea what we do and an idea of what the mission is at McConnell."

Witnessing air-refueling familiarized them with their spouses' roles in the 22nd Air Refueling Wing's mission.

Several 22nd OG spouses were married to boom operators, who operate a boom to do in-flight refueling, or to pilots, who specialize in flying the KC-135 aircraft.

"The jet I was on refueled the jet my husband was flying," Heather Lovejoy, spouse of Maj. Clarence Lovejoy, 22nd OG chief pilot. "It was a great experience to see him do his work while I laid in the boom pod."

The spouses observed the KC- 135's primary fuel transfer method. Two people were in the rear of the plane alongside a crew member while he controlled the boom to pump fuel.

"I loved going on the flight, because I got to see a different perspective," said Rachel Robinson, McConnell Officers' Spouses' Club member.

The McConnell Enlisted Spouses Club and the McConnell Officers' Spouses Club are both non-profit organizations that raise money for charitable purposes on McConnell. The McConnell Enlisted Spouses Club is the third largest of its kind in the nation.

DOD Announces Return of Royal Air Force Upwood Clinic


 The U.S. Department of Defense announced today it will return the Royal Air Force (RAF) Upwood Clinic in the United Kingdom to the host nation.
 
The return of this site is part of U.S. European Command’s (USEUCOM) continued effort to remove non-enduring sites, bases and installations from its real-property inventory.

These actions will permit more resources to be focused on other U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) mission requirements and the command to realize efficiency and cost savings. Based on comparing the current annual operations and maintenance costs, the return of RAF Upwood Clinic will result in an estimated annual savings of $554,000.

There are 57 U.S. personnel and four host nation employees associated with the site, who will be offered relocation opportunities at the RAF Alconbury Clinic, located eight miles away.  The return will have no impact on military operations in Europe.  The United States plans to return the site to the host nation in late 2012.
 As with all stationing actions, the United States has coordinated with host nation officials prior to this public announcement.
 
For additional information regarding this announcement, please contact USAFE Public Affairs at 011-49-6371-47-6558 or pa.ops@ramstein.af.mil .

Muncy Honored With Second Highest Private Citizen Award

by Col. Nahaku A. McFadden
National Guard Bureau


10/10/2012 - WASHINGTON (10/10/12) -- Three decades of selfless service to Airmen and their families recently earned Monique L. Muncy the prestigious Chief of Staff of the Air Force Award for Exceptional Public Service at a luncheon at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, DC, Sept. 20.

As the wife of recently retired Chief Master Sgt. Christopher E. Muncy, command chief of the Air National Guard, Monique Muncy dedicated herself for more than 30 years to improving the lives of Air National Guard Airmen and their families.

The CSAF for Exceptional Public Service award, according to the citation, is given to those who exhibit "dedication, patriotism and personal sacrifice resulting in significant contributions to the Air Force." Since 2007, there have only been nine awarded with this being the first Air National Guard nomination.

"I'm in my 41st year of serving and I have never presented this particular award. It is that rare," said Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt, III, director of the Air National Guard, who presented the award.

Muncy's influence began as an Ohio Air National Guard member. She served for 20 years and retired as a Tech. Sgt. in 2001. A graduate of Miami University, Ohio, and the Community College of the Air Force, she is a former Airman Leadership School and Non-Commissioned Officer Academy instructor.

In the early 1990s, she was instrumental in establishing the first Family Support Group for the 269th Combat Communications Squadron and the 251st Combat Communications Group based at Springfield Air National Guard Base, Ohio. Despite frequent deployments, the support group was credited with keeping families connected during the separations.

Always an innovator, Muncy recognized a need for family advocacy after attending a National Conference at the White House sponsored by first lady Michelle Obama. Inspired, Muncy designed and produced the first Air National Guard Family Guide. It's a comprehensive guide that addresses topics from life in the Air National Guard to managing deployments. Based on her military and personal experience as a spouse and parent of deployed Airmen, she knew what information spouses, parents and children of deploying service members needed.

Muncy honed her family advocacy skills while working for the Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. She currently serves as the Administrative Assistant to the Chair of the English Department for Cedarville University, Ohio.

"This is a very difficult award to get approved, but it was worth it." Wyatt added.

Offutt earns ACC Installation Excellence Award

by Ryan Hansen
55th Wing Public Affairs


10/10/2012 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Offutt Air Force Base was recently named Air Combat Command's 2013 Commander in Chief's Annual Installation Excellence Award winner.

By claiming this award, Offutt receives $100,000 for quality-of-life improvements throughout the installation.

"It's quite an honor to be selected by ACC as their winner," said. Col. John Rauch, 55th Wing commander. "This is certainly a Team Offutt award, and I'd like to thank everyone for their dedication to the mission and for helping us earn this prestigious honor."

Offutt was selected over 15 other major bases within ACC and it is the first time the base has won the award since 2003.

"This award is a direct reflection on all of Team Offutt," said Chief Master Sgt. William Thomaston, 55th Wing command chief. "When you look at all of our accomplishments over the past year it's easy to see why we were selected as the best in ACC."

The award recognizes the outstanding efforts of the people who operate and maintain Department of Defense installations and who have done the best with their resources to support the mission. It also includes tenant units, which are attached to the base, to compete together as part of the host installation.

Offutt's award package included more than 150 accomplishments from every unit within the wing. Some of the highlights were:

· Simultaneously supported eight combatant commands with seven aircraft variants delivering premier intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance; command and control; and electronic attack to national leaders

· Ingenuity-minded maintenance operations that coordinated 102 ideas, saving 2,500 man hours and $103,000

· Developed new collect tactics, techniques and procedures, and integrated the RC-135U with Global Hawk mission, including ISR cross-cue capabilities

· First in ACC to support tenants Defense Travel System requests adding U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Weather Agency and 34 others doubling work, but sustaining timing standard

· Coordinated $1.2 billion USSTRATCOM military construction readying the 21st Century nuclear C2 facility

· Validated wing transfer plan to old USSTRATCOM building merging 19 units and freeing 2 million square foot of dated, costly buildings for demolition

· Hosted CORONA conference providing adept support to senior leaders and was praised by the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force as a "home run"

As the ACC winner Offutt now competes at the Air Force level. The winner will be announced in March and receives $1 million for additional quality-of-life improvements at their base as well as a trophy, flag and letter signed by the president.

Obama Praises Nominees for Key Military Positions

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

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2012 – President Barack Obama today announced his nominations for two key military leadership positions in Europe and Afghanistan.

The president is nominating Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen to serve as NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe and commander of U.S. European Command and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. to succeed Allen as commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

If confirmed, Allen would succeed Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, who will retire in the spring after three decades of service. Dunford currently serves as assistant commandant of the Marine Corps. Both nominations are subject to Senate confirmation.

For more than a year, Obama said, Allen has served with distinction in Afghanistan, guiding his forces through a critical period in the country’s transition.

The president noted his personal reliance on Allen’s counsel and lauded his devotion to national security and U.S. service members.

“Under General Allen’s command, we have made important progress towards our core goal of defeating al-Qaida and ensuring they can never return to a sovereign Afghanistan,” Obama said in a written statement. “Working with our Afghan partners and international civilians, the forces under General Allen’s command have moved forward with a transition to Afghan security forces, who will take the lead for security across the country next year.”

Obama noted that Allen’s leadership of the coalition in Afghanistan has required close relationships with NATO nations and other partners. “During his tenure in Afghanistan, General Allen established his credibility with our NATO allies and ISAF partners as a strong and effective military leader,” he said.

The president also thanked Stavridis for “his steadfast service on behalf of the United States and NATO.”
“He has played a critical role in helping to make NATO a stronger alliance and ensuring we have the capabilities and partnerships to meet the challenges of the next century,” Obama said.

In announcing Dunford’s nomination, the president said the general will assume command of ISAF with “very difficult work” remaining ahead.

“I have full confidence in his extensive experience, strategic leadership and vision,” Obama added. “If confirmed by the Senate, he will lead our forces through key milestones in our effort that will allow us to bring the war to a close responsibly as Afghanistan takes full responsibility for its security.”

Commissaries to Offer New Innovations, Conveniences

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2012 – The new commissary rewards card now offered at all 247 military commissaries worldwide offers a glimpse into what the Defense Commissary Agency is working to provide its customers: the same selection, conveniences and quality as the most popular commercial grocery store chains, but even better customer service and lower prices.

That’s the vision of Joseph H. Jeu, who took the helm of what amounts to the nation’s 11th-largest grocery story chain a year and a half ago and is steering into new waters to provide patrons what he calls the “Commissary Benefit 2020” -- the most advanced commissary service they’ve ever experienced.

“We have to pay attention to what happens in the private sector, know the trends and be sure we are right along with them or maybe, in some ways, ahead of them,” Jeu told American Forces Press Service. “We want to be equal or better.”

By many standards, military commissaries are already there, he noted. Patrons rated commissaries at 4.72 on a scale of 5 on a recent commissary customer satisfaction survey. In the industrywide American Customer Satisfaction Index, commissaries ranked 81 -- six points above the industry average of 76. Only one commercial grocery chain scored higher.

Jeu attributes some of that success to the fact that military family members, retirees and veterans make up 64 percent of the commissary workforce. “When two-thirds of your workforce is military related, it means we understand who our customers are and what they are going through,” he said. “It says, ‘We care and appreciate what you do.’”

But Jeu acknowledged that the biggest attraction commissaries offer boils down to price. Selling products at 5 percent over cost, with the surcharge invested directly into new construction, renovation and equipment upgrades, commissaries typically save shoppers about 32 percent compared to civilian supermarkets. Savings are even higher in some high-cost areas, such as Hawaii, where commissary shoppers typically save about 50 percent.

Looking ahead, Jeu is exploring new ways to maximize consumer savings without increasing the $1.4 billion subsidy Congress authorizes to operate the commissaries.

For example, the new commissary rewards card allows shoppers to download coupons directly onto the card and redeem them at checkout. Fort Lee, Va., home of the Defense Commissary Agency, served as a test bed for the cards in August, and as of early this month, they’re available at every commissary worldwide.

Jeu said he’s been amazed at how well the cards have been received, even among coupon-savvy commissary shoppers who typically rank within the top three among the nation’s top coupon clippers. About half of those who received a card went online to register it into the system so they could begin using it.
“That’s a very high rate of acceptance,” Jeu said. “This is a service our customers very clearly accept.”
Another idea in the works is the opening of warehouse stores that offer even deeper discounts by selling products in bulk.

Jeu is eyeing regions with multiple commissaries -- Virginia’s Tidewater area, San Antonio and San Diego, among them -- with hopes of converting one traditional commissary into a “box store.” The first could happen sometime next year.

In addition to bulk items, each warehouse store will sell meat, produce, deli and bakery goods, but with a smaller selection than at traditional commissaries, he explained.

Meanwhile, recognizing a growing trend in the commercial grocery industry, DECA is exploring ways to connect with and serve its customers using online technology and smartphones. In a test started about a year ago at Fort Lee, commissary customers can order a customized deli sandwich online, then pick it up at the store.

Now Jeu wants to expand the concept to allow customers to preorder groceries online, then arrive at the commissary to find their order packed and ready for pickup. DECA plans to test the curbside pickup plan from Mondays to Fridays beginning in the spring at Fort Lee and possibly one or two other commissaries to see how shoppers like it.

“I believe it will be successful, and if it is, we will expand it to other stores,” Jeu said.

Also using online technology, DECA plans to extend its services to more parts of the country with large populations of reserve and National Guard members, but no commissaries. That initiative, started on the West Coast in 2008, enables reserve-component members to preorder and prepay electronically from a selection of several hundred items, most sold in bulk. Trucks arrive at a designated site with the orders packed and ready for pickup.

During the last fiscal year, DECA staged more than 100 of these onsite sales. “It worked out pretty well,” Jeu said. “We definitely want to do more of that.”

Recognizing how comfortable its customers, particularly younger ones, have become with smart phone technology, DECA plans to branch out into what industry refers to as “mobile commerce.” A new app to be introduced soon will provide generic information about store locations and hours and sales promotions.
But Jeu plans to broaden the service so shoppers can use their smartphones to get price comparisons and even place grocery orders. To ensure only authorized users have access to the system, they will enter their Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, or DEERS, information, he explained.

While giving commissary shoppers more options and more convenience, DECA continues to ensure it’s providing the items they want. “When a new product comes out, we want to have those items at the same time as commercial grocery stores,” Jeu said, while removing stock that’s not moving from its shelves. “It’s a constant balancing act, and something we constantly monitor,” he said. “We want to be sure we are offering the products our customers want.”

To continue to do so, DECA continues exploring ways to reduce overhead and streamline its operations.
It’s been an ongoing process that began with the merger of four separate commissary systems into one in 1991, Jeu said. That consolidation weeded out duplication, creating a more streamlined organization that has reduced operating costs by $700 million over the past two decades.

“For the last 20 years, we have done our part, but we will continue to search for new efficiencies, and at the same time, provide the same level of savings for our people,” Jeu said.

At the same time, DECA stands as a Defense Department model, boasting 10 consecutive years of “clean” annual financial statements -- something Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wants institutionalized departmentwide by 2015.

While exploring and rolling out new services and offerings, the DECA staff plans to tap into Facebook, Twitter and other social media to better-connect with its customers.

“We want this to be interactive, to ask questions of our customers. What do they think of this new concept? Do they have new ideas of how we can do better?” Jeu said. “We want to be asking more questions to ensure we continue to live up to our customers’ expectations.”

Land, Sea Roles Changing, Dempsey Says


By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2012 – While the Navy’s aircraft carrier fleet is sized correctly to carry out its mission, land forces are facing “significant changes,” Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said here today.

“At this point in time, I believe we’ve got what we need,” Dempsey said in response to questions following his speech at a National Press Club luncheon.

After the Budget Control Act of 2011 imposed about $500 billion in defense spending cuts over 10 years, he said, the Defense Department had to examine its strategic positions.

“Strategy that's not sensitive to resources is nothing more than rhetoric,” he said. “There's always this balance between ends, ways and means. So the means changed. We had to take a look at the ends and the ways.”

Part of that strategy includes a rebalancing of forces in the Asia-Pacific region, he said.

The Pacific is largely a maritime domain, the chairman said. “You've got to go a long way before you find anything with dirt on it,” he noted. This makes the Navy and its capabilities crucial to the region, he said, at the same time they’re doing a “remarkable” job of meeting defense needs in the Gulf.
In addition, the Navy has successfully balanced that mission with the maintenance requirements inherent to a nuclear fleet, he continued, but there’s always the question of what’s next.

“Is it something smaller? … Is it something submersible?” he asked, noting the Navy’s asymmetric advantage under the sea.

As U.S. strategy evolves, the Defense Department will attempt to answer those questions while continuing to examine the makeup of the fleet, he said, but at least until 2020, he believes the carrier fleet is what the United States needs.

As the chairman of the joint force, Dempsey said, he likes having four different service chiefs around the table. The Navy’s role in the future force, he added, is just one part of a larger picture.

The idea that land forces are no longer necessary is a bad one, the chairman said. “I'm not in the camp that says, ‘You know, you'll never fight another significantly big land conflict,’” he added, noting that the nature of land combat is changing.

When he entered the Army during the Cold War, Dempsey said, it was built by assembling the large organizations first -- the corps and divisions. “And then we said to ourselves, ‘If we need something less than that, we'll disaggregate it,’” he said.

“I think that the era we're entering now requires us to think exactly the opposite,” Dempsey said. “That is to say, we need to think about empowering the squad -- the 10-man group of individuals with everything we can empower them with -- and then figure out how to grow it from the bottom up.”

That will take land forces in a different direction, he said, not just in the way they’re designed, but also in the way they’re equipped and trained.

“There are some significant changes coming … in the way we think about building our land component,” Dempsey said. “And I would suggest it's not from the top down, but rather from the bottom up.”
 

Organization Offers Online Self-assessments for Depression


WELLSLEY HILLS, Mass., Oct. 10, 2012 – Anonymous, online mental health screenings are available to service members, veterans and their families in conjunction with tomorrow’s observance of National Depression Screening Day.

Depression affects about 17 million people in the United States, yet almost a third do not seek treatment, officials said, noting that depression is treatable, and diagnosing it early allows for faster and easier treatment.
Each year on National Depression Screening Day, Military Pathways, a Defense Department-funded initiative, offers the screenings at http://www.MilitaryMentalHealth.org. Service members, veterans and their families can access the site 24/7 to see if they have symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or a related disorder, and get information on how and where to get help.

"Depression is usually a more serious and sustained problem than simply having a bad day or feeling stressed,” said Dr. Robert Ciulla, director of the Mobile Health Program at the National Center for Telehealth and Technology. “Unfortunately, many people do not know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression or where to seek help. An online screening, in the privacy of one's own home, is a good first step in getting a better understanding of the problem."

Defense Department leaders have stressed repeatedly that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Recognizing and treating depression in its early stages before a person reaches a crisis situation is a key factor in addressing this important health issue, officials said.

Symptoms of depression can include:
-- Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" feelings;
-- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed;
-- Decreased energy or feeling tired all the time;
-- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism;
-- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness;
-- Irritability or restlessness;
-- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions;
-- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness or excessive sleeping;
-- Overeating or appetite loss; and
-- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts.

Military installations around the world will recognize National Depression Screening Day with events that encourage screenings, educate service members and promote good mental and physical health. Since 2006, more than 250,000 screenings have been completed online at http://www.MilitaryMentalHealth.org.
Military Pathways gives service personnel and their families the opportunity to learn more about mental health and alcohol use through anonymous self-assessments offered online. The program is designed to help individuals identify symptoms and access assistance before a problem becomes serious. The self-assessments address alcohol use, PTSD, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and adolescent depression.

After completing a self-assessment, individuals receive referral information, including TRICARE, Military OneSource and the Veterans Affairs Department. The program is run by the nonprofit Screening for Mental Health, Inc. and is funded by the Defense Department with support from the Center for Telehealth and Technology.

Annual Workout Commemorates Fallen Airman

by Capt Tamara Fischer-Carter
HQ AFSPC Public Affairs


10/10/2012 - PETERSON AFB, Colo. -- "There is no greater love that can be displayed than for a person to lay down their life for others," said a chaplain six years ago over the coffin, draped in a large American flag. Airman 1st Class LeeBernard E. Chavis was carried toward the plane by six pallbearers, looked on by the 18 distorted faces of members of Chavis's flight, who stood in two neat rows facing the casket.

On Oct. 14, 2006, Chavis, 21 years old and a member of the 824th Security Forces Squadron at Moody AFB, Ga., was killed by sniper fire while he tried to keep civilians away from a suspected bomb in the streets near Baghdad.

Six years later, Air Force members at Peterson AFB and around the world are still commemorating the annual anniversary of his death in a unique way.

Chief Master Sgt. Jason France, former 820th Security Forces Group operations superintendent at Moody AFB, now at Hill AFB, Utah, designed the Chavis workout, a CrossFit style workout the group did together in Chavis' memory.

"The workout is tough by design. It has to be in order to pay proper respect to Airman 1st Class Chavis. We owe him that. The workout isn't only about the physical challenge though," said France. "You're going to have to show a lot of heart, dig deep and rely on the Airmen to your left and right to get through it. Staying focused on what the workout represents will help carry you through. The memory of a fallen warrior is a powerful motivator."

Former Security Forces member, Staff Sgt. Heather Ruhlman, now 21st Space Wing paralegal, was there when Chavis was killed. Ruhlman was deployed to Iraq, like Chavis, with the 824th Security Forces Squadron performing duties as a member of a U.S. military police training team supporting Iraqi police.

"Chavis and I were in the same squadron, the 824th SFS. He was our lead as the .50 cal turret gunner, and I was .240B Gunner and rode primarily in truck number two," Ruhlman said.

"We were on patrol that day, driving home from our daily trip to our police station. We came up on Iraqi policemen in the road who seemed to be needing assistance with a possible IED. We cordoned off the area quickly."

"I was riding in the trail vehicle that day. We weren't there long when a shot was fired. It was pretty hectic after that."

"It wasn't until we reached the cache that I found out that Chavis had been shot by a sniper. Chavis had been standing up in the turret ensuring traffic did not enter into the cordon," Ruhlman said.

"I started a Facebook event last year, and shared it amongst my friends who shared it out to their friends," Ruhlmann said.

Last year, 400 people across the globe accepted the workout invitation sent by Ruhlman. For every person who RSVP'd "yes" on Facebook, there were handfuls of others who did the workout with their squadrons.

On the 6th anniversary, Ruhlman is again sending the invite in hopes of getting an even bigger response this year.

"I never thought in 2008 when we first did this workout together that years later we would be doing it at our new homes spread across the world. There are members of the unit who are not even in the military anymore who go and do the workout," Ruhlman said. "It's nice to know so many still take the time out to remember our fallen Ghostwalker."

All are invited to meet Ruhlman at 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 16 on the basketball courts outside the Peterson AFB fitness center for a group workout in Chavis' memory.

For anyone still interested but unable to attend, the Chavis workout consists of 150 burpees (or an up-down with a push-up), a one mile run and 150 squat thrusts.

"The exercises that are in this specific workout are pretty simple; you don't need any equipment or anything to do them," Ruhlman said. But she warned everyone to be ready for a tough workout. "It does suck really bad," she said.

In addition to this annual commemoration, A1C Chavis was commemorated in 2007 in a 191-page book titled, "Where Valor Rests: Arlington National Cemetery" by Rick Atkinson.

The 46th Test Group transitions to the 96th

by Airman 1st Class Colin Cates
49th Wing Public Affairs


10/10/2012 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- After 20 years, the 46th Test Group deactivated at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Oct. 1.

The group was simultaneously redesignated as the 96th Test Group, which was established at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in July 2012, as part of a command-wide consolidation effort by Air Force Materiel Command.

"At Eglin AFB, there is the 46th Air Base Wing and the 96th Air Base Wing. [The command] combined the two wings to make the 96th Test Wing," said Charles Webb, 96th Test Group commander. "When the new 96th Test Wing was activated it was apparent that our tenant unit here would follow the new parent organization name."

As part of the transition from 46th Test Group, which was overseen by Air Armament Center, the 96th Test Group will fall under the Air Force Test Center at Edwards AFB, Calif., said Webb.

"The new command structure will improve the way it accomplishes its diverse mission and will provide better support to the warfighter," Webb said.

Air Force Materiel Command transitioned the new command structure in response to a Department of Defense challenge to find efficiencies and save tax dollars.

"The 96th Test Group is a remarkable team doing incredible things for the nation, and I am very excited to be part of everything that we are developing here," Webb said.

Dempsey Praises Allen, Dunford Nominations

American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2012 – In a statement released today, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, praised Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen’s accomplishments as commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama today nominated Allen to serve as NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, succeeding Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, who’s scheduled to retire.

Dempsey also praised Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the president’s choice to succeed Allen as ISAF commander. Dunford currently serves as assistant Marine Corps commandant.
Dempsey’s statement reads as follows:

“General John Allen took command in the summer of 2011 as we were arresting and reversing insurgent momentum in key areas throughout the country. He immediately strengthened areas of success, taking them to new levels, while identifying elements of the campaign that required revision. More important, Gen. Allen added his leadership and moral courage to a fight that is as much about will as it is about operations and tactics.

“Beyond revising the campaign plan and flawlessly executing a two-part surge recovery, John Allen's command tour has produced several key milestones, including the remarkable growth and development of the ANSF, transition in areas comprising nearly 80 percent of the Afghan population and the signing of the U.S.-Afghan strategic framework agreement. Through it all, Gen. Allen's vision has helped maintain coalition cohesion and bolstered NATO's long-term commitment to Afghanistan and the region.

“But, as John himself would tell you, much work remains to be done. Significant security, governance, and development challenges remain even as new challenges and threats emerge. That's why we have once again have turned to one of our best.

“Like Gen. Allen, Gen. Joe Dunford is one of the most experienced and capable leaders in our military and nation. I have known Joe for 14 years and have had the privilege of working closely with him both in combat and resolving the larger security challenges facing the nation.

“Intelligent and forthright, Gen. Dunford is one of our most highly-regarded senior officers. He is an infantry officer with more than 35 years of exceptional leadership at every level, including multiple commands and, in particular, command of 5th Marine Regiment during the initial invasion of Iraq.

“Clearly, Joe has the right mix of personal and professional qualities. His military expertise and high character will guide the ISAF coalition through the next critical phase. I am fully confident he is the right leader to secure an effective transition between ISAF and the Afghan National Security Forces.”

9th Attack Squadron stands up at Holloman

by Airman 1st Class Daniel Liddicoet
49th Wing Public Affairs


10/10/2012 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The 9th Fighter Squadron was re-activated as the 9th Attack Squadron, part of the 49th Operations Group, at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Sept. 28.

The Flying Knights carry with them a rich heritage dating back to 1941, when the 9th Fighter Squadron was first activated to support a global mission during World War II. Newly evolved as a training squadron for remotely piloted aircraft, the Flying Knights continue to help protect national security objectives and strive toward a goal of combat-readiness.

The re-activation of the 9th Attack squadron represents the U.S. Air Force's growing emphasis on the use of remotely piloted aircraft.

"Last year, the U.S. Air Force trained more RPA aircrew than traditional pilots, and that is a trend that is likely to continue in the future," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Patton, 9th Attack Squadron commander. "As an RPA training squadron, we will train half of all new MQ-9 Reaper aircrews."

Maj. Jerry Brown, 9th Attack Squadron director of operation added, "The MQ-9 is now the most demanded combat asset in all theaters."

Despite the new direction for the Flying Knights, they remain deeply grounded in their heritage.

Originally equipped with the P-38 Lightning, P-40 Warhawk and P-47 Thunderbolt, the 9th Fighter Squadron amassed a distinguished legacy that included extensive participation in World War II, with a record of 668 aerial victories. The Flying Knights were also home to many notable aces, including Medal of Honor recipient Maj. Richard Bong. After serving in Vietnam, Korea, Operation Desert Shield, and Operation Desert Storm, the Flying Knights most recently operated the F-117 Nighthawk out of Holloman AFB prior to their de-activation in 2008.

"The Flying Knights have an amazing heritage because of its people and what they accomplished while they were with the ninth," Patton said. "We will continue to honor those who came before us."

Now armed with one of U.S. Air Force's latest weapons platforms, the 9th Attack Squadron will begin writing a new chapter in the Flying Knights' history.

"The 9th Attack Squadron will provide the finest MQ-9 operators for our Air Force," said Senior Master Sgt. James Howard, 9th Attack Squadron superintendent. "Our students will have a foundation of knowledge and experience that they will be able to use to meet future technological innovation in remotely piloted aircraft systems."

The U.S. Air Force chose to activate the 9th Attack Squadron as a result of a need to train more pilots and sensor operators. The 9th Attack Squadron will function alongside the 29th Attack Squadron at Holloman AFB as the primary training squadrons for the MQ-9.

"Because of the U.S. Air Force's operational requirements, the MQ-9 training requirements have doubled," Howard said. "By having two training squadrons, it enables us to train more students to meet that requirement. It also allows us better continuity and supervision for the new MQ-9 students."

The 9th Attack Squadron is currently manned with 60 members including aircrew, intelligence and administrative personnel.

"We're at about half of our authorized size right now, so we expect to grow over the next year," Patton said. "The demand for new MQ-9 aircrew will continue, and our mission is to fulfill that demand. The ninth and 29th share the 11 MQ-9 aircraft currently assigned to the 49th Wing here at Holloman."

As the 9th Attack Squadron grows and the importance of remotely piloted aircraft increases, the Flying Knights' sights will remain fixed on their common goal.

"The goal of the 9th Attack Squadron is to train the best RPA pilots in the U.S. Air Force to meet the needs of the combatant commanders," Patton said. "The ninth will achieve this by retaining our high quality instructors, leveraging aircrews' operational and combat experience, and setting high standards for our students. We must ensure that graduating students are ready for combat, since that is where they will go within the first month of their operational assignment."

With a long tradition of excellence and sacrifice laid before them, the 9th Attack Squadron Airmen carry their torch with pride into the future.

"The current Knights are warriors, combat veterans and heroes as well," Patton said. "Only time will reveal their contributions to supporting America's War on Terror."

Medical Intelligence Center Monitors Health Threats

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

FORT DETRICK, Md., Oct. 10, 2012 – From a windowless building behind barriers and fences here, scientists, physicians and other experts monitor a range of intelligence and open-source channels for threats to the health of U.S. forces and the homeland.

But the Defense Intelligence Agency’s National Center for Medical Intelligence, known as NCMI, is an intelligence organization, not a public health organization.

The job, NCMI Director Air Force Col. (Dr.) Anthony M. Rizzo told American Forces Press Service, is not to tell the public what is happening. “It is our responsibility to tell policymakers and planners … what we believe is going to happen,” he explained.

The center’s intelligence targets are medical and scientific issues. Its products, like those of the rest of the intelligence community, are predictive analysis and products for warning, produced in four divisions whose experts follow developments in infectious disease, environmental health, global health systems and medical science and technology.

NCMI is the primary source of medical intelligence in the federal government, Rizzo said, “so as a consequence, we have to write for all levels, all customers, … from the president down to the most tactical intelligence officer or surgeon in the field.”

In the hallways and offices of the nondescript NCMI building are a broad range of scientists, many with multiple advanced academic degrees, many of them leaders in their fields.

“We take these very smart people,” Rizzo said, “and turn them into intelligence officers.”
Downstairs is a typical operations center -- multiple desks and computer monitors face large, wall-mounted screens that carry news reports from around the world.

Also at work in the building are scientists from many partner organizations.

“We are an all-source organization, and thus we have to use every means available to get our data. And the intelligence community partners who provide national technical means are physically located here,” the director said.

“But we also have responsibility for intelligence for homeland health protection,” he added, “[and] we could not do that job without a large number of non-intelligence-community partners who are also resident here -- fully cleared and full-up members of the organization.”

Resident partners include organizations like the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and the Agriculture Department. And Rizzo said he has NCMI experts embedded at other intelligence agencies.

Each NCMI division needs a certain amount of baseline data to do its job, the director explained.
“In the Infectious Disease Division, the baseline requirement is to understand the risk of every type of [endemic] infectious disease in every country. You can imagine why,” Rizzo said.

“If an outbreak of mystery disease occurs in a country, we need to be able to say that we know in that country that Ebola, malaria and dengue are very common, so my people can look at the symptoms of mystery disease and know” the most likely suspects, Rizzo said.

“If mystery disease doesn’t fit the things that are most likely,” he added, “then we have to start looking really differently.”

At NCMI, every division also has a baseline product in addition to alerts and threat forecasts. In the Infectious Disease Division, it’s the Infectious Disease Risk Assessment, a predictive product, Rizzo noted, “that says if you go to a place unprotected, we predict these are the diseases your people will get, and … these are the numbers of cases.”

Every federal organization that sends Americans overseas uses this product, along with baseline products from the other divisions.

Also at NCMI is a cross-divisional pandemic warning team that spends all its time monitoring highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza and other potential pandemic diseases.

In April 2009, two months before the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially declared the global outbreak of H1N1 influenza a pandemic, NCMI published an intelligence product for senior U.S. policymakers that predicted H1N1 would be a pandemic.

“That does not make us better than [CDC],” Rizzo said, “What it does do is make us different, because [CDC] has to be right. We in the intelligence community love to be right, but we also know that in order to provide timely warning, warning in time for the customer to take action to mitigate what we’ve predicted, we have to be early. And the earlier we predict, … the less certainty we have.”

At NCMI, the Environmental Health Division monitors toxic industrial chemicals, materials and facilities worldwide. Its baseline product is the Environmental Health Risk Assessment, which addresses the quality of air, food, soil, water and risk from chemical exposure worldwide. The division also does what Rizzo calls predictive hazard area modeling.

“We can tell you with 99 percent accuracy,” the director said, “if this thing that’s full of chemicals leaks next Thursday, here’s where the hazard area is, here’s where you should not be standing, and here’s where it’s OK to stand.”

The division monitors several facilities around the clock and can forecast dispersion events at those places immediately, but it also can do similar forecasts for any chemical or nuclear facility on the planet, Rizzo said.

Every day of the year, the director said, “there is a biological or chemical event somewhere in the world, sometimes many of them. And we own the responsibility of assessing whether or not those events … are manmade or naturally occurring, and then making predictions about them.”

The Global Health Systems Division is responsible for understanding the medical capabilities of every country in the world, and it monitors the quality of every nation’s blood supply. The division’s baseline product is the Medical Capabilities Assessment for each country, and it is responsible for maintaining Defense Department databases that characterize overseas medical facilities, including hospitals, clinics, labs, blood banks and pharmaceutical production facilities.

“If you’re a planner,” the director said, “and I don’t care who you’re a planner for, you’re using that Infectious Disease Risk Assessment, you’re using that Medical Capabilities Assessment, you’re using the Environmental Health Assessment to decide, ‘What do I use to protect my people? What do I have to bring? What can I leave home?’”

The NCMI Science and Technology Division is responsible for understanding every nation’s medical defense capabilities against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons.

“If you understand a country’s medical defense capabilities, that can very much help you understand what their other capabilities might be and what their intent is,” Rizzo said. “People plan medical defense based on what they think is going to happen to them or what they think they can do.”
Along with the baseline products that come out of each NCMI division, all produce warnings, alerts and special products during crises.

“When it comes to a crisis such as the earthquake in Haiti or an invasion of a country or a NATO bombing campaign against a country, … we have to tailor products to support the U.S. government and the governments of our allies,” Rizzo said. “So while we are writing all the time, we’re also very responsive to world events. When the earthquake in Haiti occurred, we put out close to 100 products.”

Most products start out in a classified version, but the director said his people are very good at writing products to be shared with NCMI’s non-intelligence community partners.
“We don’t get credit,” Rizzo added, “but that doesn’t matter.”

NCMI itself is an important partner in the multiagency effort to implement the nation’s first U.S. National Strategy for Biosurveillance, released this summer by the White House to make sure that agencies can quickly detect a range of global health and security hazards.

“When we think of the word biosurveillance, we think of the kinds of things that the public health community does -- collecting cases, taking cultures, deciding which disease is which,” Rizzo said. “But we in the intelligence community are looking way before that to determine [if there are] threats on the horizon.”

When the experts at NCMI communicate a threat to the public health community, the director added, “they can focus … their public health efforts, and so we are very much involved in biosurveillance, but … at the front end of the process.”

The whole world deals with limited resources, Rizzo added, and CDC, the World Health Organization and other public health organizations can’t look at everything all the time.
“But if we in the intelligence community, especially we in medical intelligence, are able to say, ‘Here’s a threat on the horizon that we perceive,’ … then it’s up to our customer to decide whether or not they will think about it,” the director added.

“We have very good, nonadversarial, very supportive relationships with our partners,” Rizzo said, “and typically if we say we’re concerned, they respond.”

Panetta: DOD Works with Jordan, Turkey on Syria Repercussions


By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2012 – The Defense Department is working with Jordan and Turkey to help with collateral humanitarian and security issues affecting them because of the brutal war that continues in Syria, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said here today.

During a news conference held at the close of a NATO defense ministers meeting, Panetta described U.S. efforts in the Syrian border countries of Jordan and Turkey, where the numbers of Syrians fleeing to Turkey have spiked because of recent fighting in Aleppo.

Together the nations harbor tens of thousands of the more than 200,000 refugees from the violence and death produced since March 2011 by the clash between opposition fighters and the regime of Bashar Assad.

“We have been working with Jordan for a period of time now on a number of the issues that have developed as a result of what’s happening in Syria,” Panetta said.

One of the main issues is humanitarian relief, the secretary added, and the United States is doing what it can to help both countries respond to the flow of displaced Syrians.

Pentagon officials also have been working with Jordan in the effort to monitor Syrian chemical and biological weapon sites and to try to determine how best to respond to any concerns in that area, he said.
“We’ve also been working with [Jordan] to try to develop their own military and operational capabilities in the event of any contingency there,” Panetta added.

For that reason, he said, “we have a group of our forces there, working to help them build a headquarters and to ensure that we make the relationship between the United States and Jordan a strong one so we can deal with all of the possible consequences” of the war in Syria.

The U.S. presence in Jordan consists of about 150 mostly Army special operations forces, some of whom have been in Jordan for several months, a senior defense official said.

The United States also has reached out to Turkey on humanitarian and chemical and biological weapons issues, the secretary said.

“They’re obviously concerned about the CBW sites as well,” Panetta said, “so we’ve worked with them to do what we can to monitor that situation.”

On the U.S. approach to the situation in Syria, Panetta said the nation, in addition to working with allies to apply as much diplomatic pressure as possible, operates in three important areas.
One area is humanitarian relief, he said.

“We’ve provided funds for humanitarian assistance and we have provided other facilities that are needed … to support the large number of refuges that have gathered in these different camps,” the secretary said.

A second area involves monitoring chemical and biological weapon sites in Syria.

“We continue to be concerned about security at those sites,” Panetta said. “We want to ensure that security is maintained and we want to be very sure that those [weapons] do not fall into the wrong hands.” The United States continues to work with regional partners to monitor the situation and evaluate the security of the sites, he added.

The third area involves assisting the opposition, the secretary added, including providing nonlethal support.

“I know there are countries in the region that are providing lethal support,” he said, “but our effort is aimed at trying to work with the opposition in every way possible to … try to develop their capabilities as well.”
 

Dempsey: Partnerships Essential to Defense Strategy

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2012 – The Defense Department depends on its relationships with partner nations, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said here today.
"Simply stated, we need them to make our strategy work," the chairman said during a speech at a National Press Club luncheon.

In the first year of his chairmanship, he's met 57 of his counterparts and traveled to 22 foreign countries, Dempsey said, all in an effort to build stronger ties around the world.

"We need partners who can bring to bear capability and credibility," he said.

Relationships often are hard, the chairman acknowledged, sometimes seeming as if they're more trouble than they're worth. But one-on-one communication is essential to ensuring messages are received accurately, he added. "When we get together in large groups, I think we take the risk of talking past each other," Dempsey said.

On every trip he has taken to Afghanistan, he has learned more than the last time he was there, the general said. He has conducted face-to-face discussions with Afghan and coalition leaders on each of his six trips to the country, he said, but more importantly, he gets a sense of how service members feel about the mission.
"I listen to their insights and then I thank them for their service on the front line," he said.

Attacks on coalition personnel by members of the Afghan security forces or insurgents wearing Afghan uniforms are designed to cause a rift between coalition and Afghan partners, and though the threat remains as officials address it, the so-called “insider attacks” must not deter the mission of preparing Afghan forces to take full security responsibility for their country, Dempsey said.

"The Taliban get what we're doing," he said. "They know that the bond between the Afghan security forces and our forces will ultimately be what causes them to be defeated."

Effectively partnering with the Afghans will require coalition troops to live and work with them, Dempsey said. The coalition can't be discouraged or dissuaded from its objectives by the threat of insider attacks, he said.

The insider threat is not jeopardizing U.S. objectives in Afghanistan, the chairman added, noting that it's possible for violence and progress to coexist. "We must keep our eye on that threat, … but our commitment to the relationship and to the objectives is strong," he said.

The Defense Department will determine troop levels for post-2014 Afghanistan early next year, Dempsey said. The struggle, he explained, is to find a balance between several sometimes conflicting needs: the requirements of agreements partner nations made at the last two NATO summits, maintaining a counterterrorism presence, enabling other agencies to continue their missions and continuing to train and advise the Afghan military.

"We'll take what we have there now, which is about 68,000 U.S. [personnel] and about [30,000 to 34,000] coalition partners, and we'll establish a glide slope to get from where we are to where we're going to be," Dempsey said. "The important point is that … our objectives remain both sound and achievable."

In addition to the Afghan relationship, Dempsey said, he's spent the last year working with his counterparts in Latin America and South America, particularly Brazil and Colombia. He's also been focused on the Asia-Pacific region, he said, reinforcing the basics of the U.S. strategy for the region at the “Shangri-La Dialogue” Asia security summit in Singapore in June: "More attention, more engagement and more quality."
"As you can tell, I'm working hard on my friends list," he said.

Wounded Warriors learn adaptive skills

by Tammy Cournoyer
Air Force Personnel Center Warrior and Family Operations Center


10/5/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- A dozen Air Force wounded warriors from around the country attended a two-day adaptive sports camp here Sept. 14 and 15, participating in events such as wheelchair basketball, cycling and kayaking.

Maj. Gen. A.J. Stewart, Air Force Personnel Center commander, welcomed the group and applauded their service, sacrifice and resiliency, joining them later in the day for a bike ride that enabled him to try out a recumbent bike, which places the rider in a reclining position.

The camp, offered by the Air Force Adaptive Sports Program, encourages wounded warriors to become active and learn to use equipment and methods based on their personal physical challenges.

They also meet other wounded warriors and discover they are not alone.

"This group of warriors had so much fun with one another and experienced many new perceptions of their injuries," Tony Jasso, a care manager with the Wounded Warrior Program, said. "Many warriors said they hadn't laughed so hard in a long time, while other warriors felt more confident and broke away from isolating habits."

Athletes can take their sports camp experiences home and build on them.

"We have a couple of cyclists who had almost given up riding because of the pain and difficulty during biking," Maj. Scott Bullis, a wounded warrior who served as a coach for this camp, said. "Both took quite a bit of encouragement to even try riding recumbent cycles, but both are now extremely active in cycling activities, with one recently completing a ride from San Francisco to Virginia Beach, Va."

"A lot of warriors interested in the camps were athletes before their injuries, and they are ready to get off the couch and get active," Jasso said. "This camp helped a lot of people realize and remember how much fun sports are, and how important physical activity can be with rehabilitation and recovery."

For one wounded warrior, retired Staff Sgt. Zuleika Cruz, the camp was the motivation she needed to feel better about life, and she encourages others to give sports camp a try.

"I used to see my injuries as the end of the world, but after talking to my fellow wounded warriors, it made me realize that if they can make it, I can make it too.

"Don't be afraid about it, and come to a camp," Cruz said. "Because I guarantee you, 100 percent, it will change your life forever."

Wounded warriors interested in attending an adaptive sports camp should contact Jasso at afwounded.warrior@randolph.af.mil, or call 800-581-9437.

NATO Chief Welcomes New Military Leaders, Discusses Afghanistan

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2012 – NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen today welcomed the selection of Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen to be the new alliance commander in Europe and the selection of Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. to succeed Allen as coalition commander in Afghanistan.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, right, flanked by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, announces that U.S. President Barack Obama plans to nominate U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, far left, to succeed U.S. Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis to serve as commander of U.S. European Command and as NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe. U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. is the president’s nominee to succeed Allen as the new International Security Assistance Force commander. The announcement came during a press conference Oct. 10, 2012, following a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Speaking at a news conference marking the end of a NATO defense ministers conference in Brussels, Rasmussen noted that the U.S. Senate still must confirm both men for their new positions.

If confirmed, Allen will succeed Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis as NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe and commander of U.S. European Command. Dunford is currently the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced President Barack Obama’s nominations of Allen and Dunford earlier today during the conference.

Rasmussen also spoke about the discussions on Afghanistan and other issues at the conference. NATO will remain involved in Afghanistan, he said, and all defense ministers agree the strategy in the country is working, and the alliance is in the operation for the long haul.

“Our strategy is working, and our timeline remains unchanged,” he said. “All allies and [International Security Assistance Force]

partners are fully committed to them. We are committed to seeing this mission through to the end of 2014.”
The alliance is committed and is working on planning for the new operation that will succeed today’s mission, the secretary general said. The new mission -- to train, advise and assist Afghan forces -- will ensure the country never becomes a safe haven for terrorists, he added.

The defense ministers approved initial guidance for military leaders for the new mission. “I expect us to agree on a detailed outline early next year, and to complete the plan well before the end of 2013,” Rasmussen said. The secretary general could not say how large the NATO mission will be in Afghanistan post-2014. He stressed the NATO combat mission will end on Dec. 31, 2014, and that the new mission will be to train, advise and assist Afghan forces.

Much of this is already under way in Afghanistan. “There are challenges, but we remain on course,” Rasmussen said. “The handover to Afghan security responsibility is unfolding as planned. And as that transition takes hold, you will see some of our forces redeploying or drawing down as part of the strategy we have all agreed [to]. This is not a rush for the exit, but the logical result of transition.”

Afghanistan now has more than 337,000 trained soldiers and police. Some 67,000 American service members and 40,000 coalition service members are serving there. The coalition forces will withdraw as Afghan forces take the lead, and NATO leaders repeatedly have expressed confidence that the Afghans will be prepared to provide security throughout the country at the end of 2014.

Afghan forces already are in the lead for the protection of three-quarters of the population, Rasmussen said. “And in those areas, violence has not gone up. On the contrary, it has gone down,” he said. “That is a testament to the growing capability of the Afghan security forces.”

The defense ministers also discussed insider attacks, and Rasmussen said all take the threat very seriously. “The enemies of Afghanistan are using insider attacks to try to undermine trust and public confidence,” he said. “But this will not work. We will not allow the enemy to change our strategy and undermine the trust and confidence we have built.”

He noted that Afghan security forces also have been victims of insider attacks, and the coalition and Afghans are working together closely to confront the threat. “We and the Afghan government have together undertaken numerous measures to reduce the risk of insider attacks, including improved vetting and screening, counterintelligence, cultural awareness -- and are constantly refining our approach,” he said.

Rasmussen stressed that the enemy is seeking to drive a wedge between the coalition and Afghan partners. “The insider attacks will not change our strategy,” he said. “We will continue our training, advising and partnering strategy. We will continue to hand over security responsibility to the Afghan security forces. We will continue the planning for a training, advisory and assistance mission to take over when the Afghan combat mission ends by the end of 2014. Our goal, our strategy, our timeline remain unchanged.”

Troop Numbers to Remain Stable for Kosovo, Rasmussen Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2012 – NATO has no plans to reduce its Kosovo Force, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Brussels today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, left, speaks with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, right, before a conference of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, Oct. 10, 2012. Panetta is scheduled to meet with several defense ministers during the two-day event. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
 
About 1,650 troops, including around 760 Americans, serve in the Kosovo Force, known as KFOR. Alliance defense ministers discussed the situation in the country during their meeting this week and will not make any changes in the make-up of the force, Rasmussen told reporters as the NATO defense ministers conference wrapped up.
 
“We agreed that KFOR continues to play an indispensable role in Kosovo,” he said. “And ministers made clear that they remain committed to sustaining that role.”
The ministers agreed that the security situation and freedom of movement have improved in Kosovo over the last six months, “but that we must remain vigilant and strong,” he said.

NATO ministers welcome renewed contacts between Serbian and Kosovar officials, and NATO nations are fully committed to furthering that dialogue, the secretary general noted. “All need to live up to their responsibilities and move the whole region forward,” he said.

NATO has no plans to reduce the troop presence in Kosovo, Rasmussen said. “We have the ambition to gradually reduce our troop presence in Kosovo as the security situation, hopefully, continues to improve,” Rasmussen said. “But because of the volatile situation we have witnessed during the recent year, we have postponed the decision to reduce the number of troops.”

The secretary general reiterated that what happens in Kosovo will be dictated by the security situation on the ground. “We will not take any step that can deteriorate the security situation in Kosovo,” he said. “We will stay committed to fully implementing the United Nations Security Council’s mandate to ensure a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all people in Kosovo.”

Military commanders may change where troops are deployed in the country, Rasmussen said. “You will see some rebalancing in the coming months with a stronger focus on the north of Kosovo, taking into account the situation we have witnessed there,” he said.

Battleship NORTH CAROLINA Announces 2013 Program and Event Schedule



WILMINGTON, NC – The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA is pleased to announce the programming and special event schedule for 2013.
 
Diverse programming onboard the NORTH CAROLINA allows people of all generations to experience what fascinates them most about one of the most decorated ships of World War II. You are invited to discover and build your personal connection by participating in programs such as Firepower and Power Plant that give more in depth exploration. The young at heart will also enjoy the more family fun oriented events with the Easter Egg Hunt and Batty Battleship’s Halloween Bash.

New for 2013:
Design & Damage Control
May 18, 2013
Time: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
$55 per person.  $50 for Friends members or active military.

As the first of the 10 fast battleships which served in WWII, NORTH CAROLINA paved the way for those battleships that followed.  In this four-hour program, participants will explore the ship and engage with experts on ship design. Topics include surviving a torpedo strike, fires, and loss of power; thwarting magnetism and unwanted waters from flooding; from shoring and shifting fuel oil to triage of casualties and effective communication. An interesting and insightful afternoon awaits inquiring minds. 

The tour is limited to ages 16 and older and limited to 48 participants. It is not appropriate for those who have difficulty climbing narrow ladders or over knee-high hatches. Wear warm, comfortable, washable clothing, sturdy, rubber-soled shoes and bring a camera! Water and light snack provided. Registration and payment are due by Thursday, May 16. Program is $50/$45 for Friends of the Battleship or active military. Call 910-251-5797 for reservations.

The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA is self-supporting, not tax supported and relies primarily upon admissions to tour the Ship, sales in the Ship's Store, donations and investments. No funds for its administration and operation come from appropriations from governmental entities at the local, state or federal levels. Located at the junction of Highways 17/74/76/421 on the Cape Fear River.   Visit www.battleshipnc.com or follow us on Facebook.com/ncbb55 and Twitter.com/battleshipnc for more information.

Chairman, Enlisted Advisor Urge Service Members to Vote

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2012 – The military’s top commissioned and noncommissioned officers have joined forces to urge service members to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming election.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his senior enlisted advisor, Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, recorded a video message for distribution throughout the Defense Department.

“Throughout history, the men and women of our Armed Forces have fought to protect and defend our constitution, including our right to vote,” Dempsey said in the message. “Voting is indeed democracy in action, and it defines, in no small part, what it means to be an American.”

Battaglia emphasized that service members have every opportunity to vote. “Whether overseas or at your home station, absentee ballot or the polling station, voting has never been easier for you and your family,” he said. “And we strongly encourage each of you to exercise your right. If needed, your unit voting assistance officer stands ready to help.”

Dempsey noted that even as service members participate in the election, their mission remains unchanged.
“As we cast our ballot and leaders are elected, we will all continue to proudly serve with loyalty and honor,” he said. “It simply reaffirms our dedication and trust as members of this great profession. Thank you for your service.”

Sheppard detachment helps EOD joint school embrace C3

by Dan Hawkins
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs


10/9/2012 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Turning one person's trash into another person's treasure happens all the time and Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal is as far as one needs to look to see the cost-conscious culture mentality in full swing on a daily basis.

When it comes to reutilizing recyclable materials to enhance practical scenario training areas, NAVSCOLEOD has led from the front after another successful year turning the reusable material into world-class training areas for hands-on training in one of the armed services' most dangerous career fields.

The 366th Training Squadron Field Training Detachment 3, part of the 782nd Training Group at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, has played a huge role in the joint school's effort to use the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS), along with other local sources, in a variety of projects aimed at enhancing the realism of explosive ordnance disposal training, embracing the C3 philosophy to help save taxpayer dollars.

"Our goal, which is in line with our (NAVSCOLEOD) commander's intent, is to increase the realism, rigor and relevance of our overall training program," said Lt. Col. Jerry Sanchez, 366th TRS Detachment 3 commander. "What we do is too important to not look at every avenue available to us to ensure our training is the best in the world."

After a cost avoidance of $1.54 million in fiscal year 2010 and $1.34 million in FY 2011 through the use of DRMS, NAVSCOLEOD has pushed hard again this year in trying again to earn a spot on the DRMS "Million Dollar Board" in FY 2012.

According to Senior Chief Petty Officer Al Albright, NCOIC of the Weapons of Mass Destruction division, using DRMS as opposed to waiting for funding not only saves money, but allows the school to implement changes to the training scenario curriculum on a schedule.

"We gather resources all year long from DRMS and then look to see where we need to upgrade each of training areas across all the divisions," Albright said. "We get all of our resources in order and then we try to build while the students are out on exodus for the holidays."

One of the major projects completed with the help of DRMS was the construction of a robot training facility for the Improvised Explosive Device division, using $500,000 in recycled resources and in-house labor for the build.

With the new facility, which includes roped off lanes for individual robots, low-light tunnels for limited visibility operations and both above and below-ground culverts, the training environment mirrors the conditions downrange.

"This allows us to train on exactly what we will see in Afghanistan or anywhere else," said Tech. Sgt. Benjamin McGraw, NAVSCOLEOD instructor. "Having the individualized stations set up also allows us to isolate weak skill set areas for students and spend more time focusing on those areas for improvement."

A key acquisition for the Nuclear Ordnance Division was a $16,000 jet engine, which enabled training scenarios across several divisions.

The NOD was able to utilize the engine shell as a Minuteman III shroud trainer. With actual shroud trainers costing upwards of $195,000 and often on a two to three-year order backlog, the trainer speeded up NOD's ability to train on missile-related scenarios, which did not exist previously.

The engine components stripped from the shell are being utilized by the IED division as part of wreckage training problems.

NOD's procurement of $250,000 in vehicles for a large-scale accident training area still being developed will also add to realism to their curriculum.

The WMD division's top priority was the development of "CONUS town", where students focus on searching for nuclear material. After acquiring $237,000 in DRMS assets, the NAVSCOLEOD staff was able to create an entire urban setting, complete with a restaurant, bank, post office, town houses and even a gas station.

"We needed something to visually stimulate the students during training," Albright said. "The training is so relevant in urban areas that this build had to happen to keep up with current trends."

Other WMD division projects included a tunnel system, with four foot in diameter culverts and sheds covered with camouflage netting to help create authenticity. A new "militia" camp to simulate "homegrown" terrorist scenarios was created with $55,000 in training aides secured through DRMS. In the inert training area, a $90,000 bus was acquired to create a search lane, along with $120,000 in vehicles for a joint parking lot simulation exercise with the IED division.

The training area upgrades go beyond the EOD basic course. Advanced IED Defeat, a course designed for students coming back to NAVSCOLEOD for upgrade training, logged a $190,000 cost avoidance using recycled materials to construct 15 training devices.

Using solenoids, metal frames, pumps and pressure tanks, the AIEDD made the course more challenging with the creation of the more sophisticated training devices.

Saving money through sound C3 principles is something everyone can do.

"We can all look around and see how we can do things more economically," Sanchez said. "There isn't one way of saving money that is necessarily better than another way; it comes down to having an eye towards being resourceful in everything you do."

NAVSCOLEOD, located on the ranges of Eglin Air Force Base, provides high-risk, specialized, basic and advanced EOD training to more than 2,200 U.S. and partner nation military  and selected U.S. government personnel each year.

554th RED HORSE: "SEMPER DUCIMUS" for 47 years

by Master Sgt David W. Sommers
554th RED HORSE Squadron


10/9/2012 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- The 554th RED HORSE Squadron continues to uphold its unit motto, "semper ducimus" or "always leading" as it celebrates its 47th birthday on Oct.12, making the 554th RHS the oldest RED HORSE squadron in the U.S. Air Force.

As other services have well known units, such as the Army's 101st and 82nd Airborne, the Air Force's RED HORSE, along with the Thunderbirds, have paved its way to the knowledge of many, military or civilian.

What makes RED HORSE truly unique in the civil engineer community is that it is classified as a weapons system and provides a highly responsive force to support contingency, peacetime and humanitarian operations world-wide.

REDHORSE capabilities include but are not limited to: cradle-to-grave engineering, aircraft launch systems, bed-down operations, expedient facility construction, heavy equipment, water well drilling, concrete and asphalt batch plant, quarry, explosive demolition, air assault, supply, logistics, food services, medical, administration, training, contracting and comptroller operations.

In the early years of the Vietnam Conflict the Air Force lacked the engineering capability to quickly respond to expedient wartime construction and disaster recovery efforts on U.S. bases. At this point, repairs were beyond the scope of a regular civil engineering unit. The Air Force needed a squadron that could construct expeditionary airfields and build facilities in the most austere conditions supporting forward deployed tactical units.

By September 1965 Tactical Air Command (TAC) created two units with the name REDHORSE, an acronym meaning; Rapid Engineering Deployable Heavy Operations Repair Squadron Engineer. These two units would initially deploy to Southwest Asia. The 554th Civil Engineering Squadron (Heavy Repair) was constituted on Oct. 1, 1965 and organized 11 days later. The 554th and 555th CES Squadrons began training at Cannon AFB, N.M. The 554th CES initially deployed to Phan Rang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam in February 1966 where its first major project was a complete runway reconstruction.

In May 1967, the 554th CES was reassigned to the 1st Civil Engineer Group, and on Feb 15, 1970, the 554th CES moved to Cam Ranh Bay Air Base and then again to Da Nang Air Base on Nov. 30, 1971. By the end of 1971, the 554th CES was the only squadron remaining in the Republic of Vietnam. It moved to U Tapao AB, Thailand, on June 30, 1972 to remove modular facilities.

A few years later, on 5 January 1976, the unit was assigned to Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) and moved yet again to Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea with a detachment remaining in the Philippines for a short time. In the early 1980s, the 554th CES proved to be instrumental and lived up to its name by constructing facilities at Suwon Air Base to support a newly assigned A-10 squadron assigned to 5th Air Force.

In 1987, 7th Air Force became the proud owner of the 554th CES, and on 15 October 1988, re-designated the unit as the 554th Civil Engineering Squadron, REDHORSE. On 8 March 1989 it was re-designated as the 554th RHS civil engineering squadron, and on March 1, 1994 as the 554th RHS. The unit's size was significantly reduced in the mid-1990s, but by November 2000, its manning had rebounded, creating a unit reinforced by strength of 144.

In 2004, the 554th RHS established an airborne capability known as the 554th RHS Assault, Assessment, and Repair Operations (AARO, pronounced "arrow") team to support rapid airfield seizure and repair capabilities in the Pacific Theater.

Even today, this capability is the only one of its kind in the PACAF area of responsibility.

554th RHS operating location alpha was activated at Andersen AFB, Guam on September 26, 2005 after the decision was made to move the 554th RHS from Korea. On January 22, 2008, with the relocation of manpower and equipment complete, the 554th RHS operating location alpha became the 554th RHS of the 36th Contingency Response Group, 36th Wing on Andersen AFB, Guam.

In 2009, the 554th RHS completed its first expeditionary deployment outside of the Pacific Command AOR in 35 years in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. In 2010, the 554th RHS continues extensive bed-down construction operations supporting itself, the 644th Combat Communications Squadron and the 736th Security Forces Squadron at Northwest Field. In September 2012, the 554th deployed again for the second time in 38 years outside of Pacific Command and the first time as the lead unit since the Vietnam War.

Today, the 554th is one of only four active duty REDHORSE squadrons in the Air Force and the only REDHORSE unit assigned to PACAF. Additionally, the 554th RHS is the only Total Force Integrated squadron in the Air Force.

When called upon, the 554th RHS will merge with the Air National Guard unit 254th RHS located at Andersen AFB, Guam and the Air Force Reserve unit, 307th RHS located at Barksdale AFB, La. When deployed together as a fully operational REDHORSE squadron of more than 405 personnel, the unit is completely self-sufficient and capable of independent operations worldwide, even in austere, high-threat locations.

1952 C-124 crash descendant finds closure in Alaska

by Capt. Tania Bryan
JTF-Alaska public affairs


10/9/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- In November 1952, Airman Isaac Anderson sealed the envelope on a letter to his bride.
"I will be getting on a plane for Alaska in two hours. I love you, take care of my son," he wrote.

Airman Anderson and 51 other passengers and crewmembers aboard the C-124 Globemaster enroute to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, from Washington state would never reach their final destination.

A search party was dispatched to the crash location and a portion of the aircraft's tail was spotted, but harsh weather conditions and the austere Alaskan environment thwarted efforts and necessitated the suspension of the recovery effort.

The C-124 crashed into Mt. Gannett, less than 40 miles from its final destination. The wreckage then tumbled down the mountain in an avalanche coming to final rest in a glacier, burying all evidence of the crash that had occurred as well as the hope to recover the service members, declared as missing in action.

It would be a month before a letter with details on the crash would be delivered to the next of kin, Airman Anderson's wife. She always thought he was going to walk back through the door, so she never remarried.

Nearly 60 years later, Airman Anderson's granddaughter, Tonja Anderson retells her father's story, saying it's always been a family legend. Because her father didn't grow up with his father, the legacy was carried on in pictures.

"I've always held on to the letter, I'm going to find out what happened," Anderson said.
As a promise to her grandmother before her death in 2001, Anderson picked up her search efforts to find the missing C-124 and answer the question, "how do you land on the glacier and not go back?"

In June 2012, while on a routine training mission, an Alaska Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk crew spotted bright yellow debris on the stark white landscape of the ground below. Low passes of Colony Glacier revealed what seemed to be aircraft debris, including shredded metal, life rafts and possibly a portion of landing gear.

Joint Task Force-Alaska was notified and activated and sent a team out to the glacier to take a closer look. The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command was then contacted and a team was dispatched from their headquarters at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

The JPAC team recovered material evidence such as life support equipment from the wreckage and also possible osseous material from the glacier. The team completed their investigation and recovery operation June 26 and the collected evidence was transported to JPAC's Central Identification Laboratory for further analysis.

Based on the material recovered, a positive correlation between the wreckage and the 1952 crash of Airman Anderson's C-124 was made.

Tonja Anderson heard about it on the news.

"I screamed, I cried, I called my dad at work and told him 'they found grandpa's plane'," she said.

After learning of the teamwork of the Alaska National Guard, JPAC and JTF-Alaska, Anderson decided to make the trip to Alaska to see for herself all that went into the effort, dubbed Operation Colony Glacier.

"I wanted to see for myself what it took for the 1952 search party to get there, what it was like having to stay the night, and, importantly, why they abandoned the search. You see it on paper, but until you visually see it ... I have more respect for it now.

"I just hope I can explain to the families when they have questions," Anderson worries.
"We don't understand, because we are just family members, what took place and why the military made the decisions they made, now that I'm here and I can see it I can get them to understand," she said. "If it's hard now, I know it would have been hard back then."

For Anderson, her visit to Alaska and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson was about closure.

Along with a summer 2012 timeline of Operation Colony Glacier, vintage artifacts recovered from the glacier - including a celestial navigation chart, Morse code card, and survival equipment such as rations, cooking pot and M1950 stove, fishing and desalination kits - as well as personal items such as a boot heel, uniform button, and a hockey puck were on display for Anderson.

"This makes it real for me," she said. "I can't believe all that is still intact, it's just priceless being able to touch some of the stuff that was on the plane with them."
She thanked the "Alaska National Guard, Joint Task Force, and JPAC, for taking the time to go back to the glacier and bringing it home, so we can finally get closure after 60 years."

She says she understands now the necessity to abandon the search all those years ago.

"When you are a family member and you are reading about it, you don't truly understand about it being inaccessible. I wrote letters every day. When I pulled out some of the emails and letters I wrote, I realized I was very mean, and it was just because I couldn't understand, how do you land on the glacier and not go back?" Anderson said. "Now that I'm here and I can see it, I truly understand."

In her journey, she's met 20 to 30 families of the 52.

"At this point in my life, I'm prepared even if they don't find one piece of my grandfather, I have closure," Anderson said. "If they can bring something back to the other families, I've done my job."

Airmen Anderson would be proud of his granddaughter's efforts.

"It's no longer a family story, it's real now."