Friday, October 12, 2012

Official: DOD Seeks ‘Small Footprint’ in Africa

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2012 – For Djibouti, location is everything.

The small African nation hosts the one forward operating base the United States maintains on the African continent, and that is due to its unique location, said Amanda J. Dory, deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs.

Djibouti hosts about 3,000 U.S. service members at Camp Lemonier -- a former French base adjacent to the capital of Djibouti City. The U.S. service members work to build military capabilities with Djibouti and neighboring nations. The base also is a training and logistics hub.

Yet, it is not a model for how the United States will interact on the African continent, Dory said. “The DOD strategy in Africa has moved toward flexible operating concepts,” she said in a recent interview. “[We will] focus on maintaining a small footprint on the continent that is flexible and low cost.”

The U.S. military footprint will be different in each African nation, the deputy assistant secretary said.
“Each country will work with us to see what capabilities they need, how much they can commit to developing, and how fast they want to work,” she said. “They will also work with us to determine the process of working with us.”

U.S. troops, she said, will visit these nations for short periods of time for specific tasks or training cycles.
“We do not want permanent bases,” Dory said.

The U.S. military effort on the continent is being accepted by many African leaders, she said. When U.S. Africa Command first stood up, there was concern among some leaders that it signified a “militarization” of U.S. foreign policy and a sort of creeping colonialism. Those fears have subsided, she said.
“Most [African] nations welcome our contributions,” Dory said.

Djibouti is unique because it lies on the seam between U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Central Command, officials said, and it is situated at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. Vessels transiting through the Suez Canal to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean sail close to Djibouti, which boasts a natural harbor and roads that link the interior with the coast.

The country has interest from four U.S. combatant commands -- U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Transportation Command, officials said. In addition, other nations work with the Djiboutian government to ensure security in the area.
Djibouti and Camp Lemonier represent a strategic gold mine, Dory said. But Camp Lemonier, she added, will remain an expeditionary base.

“It will remain an austere base. “We will make improvements for force protection, but you will not see a golf course at Camp Lemonier, ever,” she said.

Vehicle operators exemplify 'I am Air Force Energy' theme, encourage others to follow suit

by Senior Airman Mike Tryon
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

10/12/2012 - F. E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Complying with the senior Air Force leadership's "Letter to Airmen" dated Sept. 28, is a task Warren's 90th Logistics Readiness Squadron Vehicle Operations section carries out while conducting their daily mission of providing vehicle support to Warren's Airmen.

"Our mission is to provide alert crews with government motor vehicles," said Tech. Sgt. Jason Giguere, 90th LRS Vehicle Operations supervisor.

Support is also provided through the U-Drive-It program -- a program where customers borrow a vehicle and operate it themselves instead of having a vehicle operator drive the customers -- and vehicle operators provide transportation of personnel and cargo to fulfill mission requirements.

"If our mission didn't exist, it would come down to people having to use other means of transportation, 'The Shoe Leather Express,'" joked Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Kindrick, 90th LRS Vehicle Operations Control Center Support NCO-in-charge.

Vehicle operators support global nuclear vigilance by providing missile field Airmen vehicles or by recovering disabled vehicles from the missile field, Giguere said. While conducting that mission, they take fuel conservation into consideration.

"We use the proper vehicle for what the mission calls for," Kindrick said. "We wouldn't use a big bus to transport two people to a missile alert facility. We do this to prevent over consumption of fuel."

Fuel conservation is not the only energy saving factor vehicle operators take into consideration.

"When machines are not being used, we unplug them or at least have the power turned off to the equipment," Giguere said. "We also use energy saving light bulbs and automatic light switches that will turn off when not being used."

In promoting the "I am Air Force Energy" theme throughout the month of October, also known as Energy Action Month, Warren's vehicle operators offered the following tip in conserving energy: "You can do your part in aiding us by utilizing vehicles properly. Doing that would cut down on the fuel consumption used and how often vehicles would need to go in for servicing," Kindrick said.

Another year, another SELM test complete for the Mighty Ninety

by Senior Airman Mike Tryon
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

10/12/2012 - F. E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Mighty Ninety Airmen conducted a Simulated Electronic Launch-Minuteman test, also known as a SELM here, Sept. 25-27.

Air Force Global Strike Command conducts SELM tests twice yearly to evaluate the readiness of Minuteman III ICBM forces, in support of its mission to provide a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent force for the President of the United States and Combatant Commanders.

Giant Pace 12-2M, the operational name for this SELM, confirmed that test-configured missiles and their supporting ground equipment were ready to respond to launch as were other critical commands from launch control centers, including the airborne launch control center.

"A successful test such as this doesn't happen overnight," said Lt. Col. Matthew Dillow, 321st Missile Squadron commander and SELM test support manager. "It takes a cohesive team working together closely to ensure we meet the test objectives in a safe manner.

"A SELM is the most complete test of the operational capability of our ICBMs, from day-to-day operation to issuance of the first-stage ignition signal," Dillow added.

A successful SELM occurs due to the involvement of many on- and off-base agencies.

"Continuing to provide a nuclear deterrent front throughout the duration of the SELM really is a joint effort," Dillow said. "On-base personnel who help make this a success include defenders, personnel from the command post, safety, bioenvironmental engineers, operators, civil engineers, logisticians and maintainers.

"Off-base support is provided by the 576th Flight Test Squadron, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.," he added. "The 576th is involved from the initial planning stages to the completion of the final report."

SELMs test ICBMs while they are in their deployed locations -- the operational bases -- without actually launching missiles. An Operational Test Launch, conducted at Vandenberg AFB using test launch facilities and launch control centers, features an actual launch of a missile.

Both SELMs and OTLs are overseen by the 576th FLTS and are components of the ICBM Force Development Evaluation program. The FDE program verifies the operational effectiveness and reliability of the weapon system.

"It's been a pleasure executing Giant Pace 12-2M with the men and women of the 90th Missile Wing," said Capt. Brian Sump, 576th FLTS test manager. "Their dedication and expertise guaranteed our ability to once again demonstrate the significant capabilities of the Minuteman III weapon system."

Warren's next scheduled SELM is to take place the spring of 2014.

U.S., China to Consider Sharing Resources during Joint Missions

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2012 – In what U.S. Pacific Command’s logistics chief calls a groundbreaking development, officials from the United States and China plan to meet to discuss sharing logistical resources, including fuel, as they operate together during counter-piracy and humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions.

The United States has officially extended the invitation for a team of senior Chinese logisticians to visit Washington in early 2013 to discuss the possibility of a first-ever logistics cooperation agreement between the two countries, Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark M. McLeod told American Forces Press Service.
If adopted, the arrangement would enable the United States and China to share fuel, food, supplies, and even vessel parts to support their joint operations, he said.

Pacom officials pitched the idea last month during the 41st Pacific Area Senior Officer Logistics Seminar in Perth, Australia.

The forum of senior logistics and national security officers from Pacific, Asian and Indian Ocean area nations meets annually to exchange information, pursue bilateral and multilateral initiatives and encourage closer regional cooperation. This year, PASOLS participants focused on ways to promote multinational and multiagency logistics collaboration.

Navy Rear Adm. Yang Jianyong of the People’s Liberation Army, who led the Chinese delegation at this year’s seminar, called the U.S. proposal “a good area for future discussion [and] cooperation,” McLeod reported.

Such an arrangement was floated in the past, but didn’t get traction because of strained U.S.-Chinese relations.

But the timing could now be right, McLeod said, as both countries begin looking for ways to strengthen their military-to-military relationship. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Pacom commander Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III recently visited China to promote closer cooperation and collaboration.

Logistics cooperation with China provides a perfect forum for that relationship-building, McLeod said, particularly as China assumes a growing global role. For example, in addition to counter-piracy operations, China periodically deploys its naval hospital ship, the Peace Ark, to provide medical services in other nations.

“As they go from an internal defense-focused military and begin to push off their shores and take on more regional security roles, they are finding that their logistics chains are kind of strained,” McLeod said.
PASOLS, and a potential logistics agreement with the United States, offer China an opportunity to learn from the experience of the regional partners it now operates with, he said.

“Based on them reaching out and starting to perform some of these more joint missions that other nations are doing,” he said, “we thought this was an opportunity for us to enter into an agreement with them to share resources.”

McLeod called the potential agreement a great foundation for other military-to-military cooperation that supports both the United States’ and China’s national security strategies.

“Obviously, both militaries are interested in regional security. Both militaries are interested in freedom of passage through areas. There are a lot of things going where we share common interests,” he said.
“But this is the first time, at least from a logistics standpoint, that we have reached out and they have been very receptive to those ideas,” McLeod said. “That is pretty groundbreaking for us.”

McLeod called these developments important building blocks toward closer logistics collaboration that enables regional nations to partner together and respond more effectively to natural disasters and other contingencies.

Responses to regional natural disasters and other contingencies will be far better, he said, if the nations understand how each other’s operations, share basic principles and learn from each other’s experiences. “There are things that each of us can bring to the fight that ultimately helps all of us provide support,” he said.
McLeod said he will share the lessons from PASOLS with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other regional organizations. “What we are trying to do is operationalize what we do in the theater by branching out to some of these other large organizations,” he said.

Ultimately, he hopes to promote sharing arrangements that enable more countries to participate in regional operations. “Many nations have difficulty when they reach beyond their logistics chains and have to go about gathering supplies and equipment,” he said.

Setting up an infrastructure so nations can share resources, water, even cybersecurity expertise could help eliminate that roadblock, he said.

But McLeod said he sees particular promise in operationalizing fuel across the theater. “That is an interest area that many, many nations have, from our high-end partners all the way down to our developing partners that are expanding their capabilities as they go forward,” he said.

“That helps you not only during operations, when transiting vessels or operating equipment in that [particular] nation, but it [also] can be important when there is a supply interruption because of a typhoon or some other natural disaster,” McLeod said. “In essence, you diversify your fuel capabilities so, no matter where you go, you have that capacity.”

Fairchild Airman to compete at AMC Icon singing competition

by Staff Sgt. Michael Means
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

10/12/2012 - FARICHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- A Fairchild NCO will sing in the Air Mobility Command Icon singing competition Oct. 25 at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

Staff Sgt. Abigail Foster, a former Tops in Blue vocalist and member of the 92nd Maintenance Squadron, got her chance to go to the AMC Icon after winning the local Fairchild Air Force Base Icon competition for her rendition of "God Bless America."

All AMC installations conducted base level talent shows, during July and August. Local contestants competed for $1,000 in cash prizes.

"I didn't expect to win with all the talent performing," Foster said. "I really just wanted to sing and perform."

The AMC Icon program is loosely based around the hit TV program, American Idol.

The top finishing Air Force vocalist competes for $2,000 in cash prizes during the Icon finals being held at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

"It isn't about the money and winning or losing," she said. "It's just about going on stage and performing."

"AMC is loaded with many extremely talented Airmen. Icon is one of the best ways for those folks to showcase their talents within the command," stated Scott Black, chief AMC marketing and Icon program manager. "Now in our fifth year of AMC Icon, we've been blessed with an abundance of exceptional vocalists, and had several of our finalists go on to perform with Air Force Tops in Blue."

Finalists are accompanied by the Air Force Band of Mid-America and arrangements are in the works to broadcast the show live over the internet.

"It's a lot of pressure competing at that level because you are going against phenomenal people who have talent and it's frightening," said Foster. "There is always someone better than you, but it is great to meet people who love to do things you love to do."

Foster said her goal for AMC Icon is just to sing and make a difference. To make someone smile or forget about their bad day is what it's all about, she added.

"I don't think I have a great voice," she said with a chuckle. "Other people think I do but for me singing is just what I like to do."

Vice Chairman Visits Wounded Warriors in San Antonio

By Maria Gallegos
Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, Oct. 12, 2012 – The nation’s second-highest ranking military officer honored two wounded warriors during a Purple Heart ceremony at the Warrior and Family Support Center here today.

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Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pins the Purple Heart medal on Army Spc. Jason Smith during a ceremony at the Warrior and Family Support Center on Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Oct. 12, 2012. U.S. Army photo by Robert Shields

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Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also visited with patients at the Center for the Intrepid and San Antonio Military Medical Center.

Army Maj. Gen. M. Ted Wong, commander of Brooke Army Medical Center and Southern Regional Medical Command, opened the Purple Heart ceremony followed by Winnefeld, who presented the Purple Heart medals and certificates.

“It is great to be back in Texas,” the vice chairman said during the ceremony. “There is no place other than Texas that truly supports our airmen, soldiers, sailors, and Marines like the way they do here.
Winnefeld welcomed the Purple Heart recipients, Army Sgt. Paul T. Roberts and Army Spc. Jason Smith, with words of praise for their courage, dedication and sacrifices they made to defend the nation.

Roberts was assigned to Company D, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, serving as a water treatment specialist in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device detonated, resulting in his combat injuries on Nov. 24, 2011. Smith, an infantryman, was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team when he stepped on a pressure plate IED on July 25, 2012, in Afghanistan, resulting in his combat injuries.

The vice chairman also recognized and acknowledged the wounded warriors whose injuries are not as visible.

“We are going to take care of them [wounded warriors] for many decades to come,” he said.

After the ceremony, Winnefeld visited with about 15 wounded warriors at the Center for the Intrepid, a state-of-the art outpatient rehabilitation facility. The admiral said he was impressed with the wounded warriors who were participating in sports with their leg brace called the IDEO–Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis.

“This is what I came to see,” he said.

Winnefeld visited with and provided patients at the medical center with words of encouragement, praise and gratitude.

New Strategy to Posture Transcom for Post-war Future

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2012 – A new, five-year strategic plan unveiled today at U.S. Transportation Command will posture it to ensure the military maintains its global mobility edge entering a post-war future, Air Force Brig. Gen. John E. Michel, Transcom’s chief change and learning strategist, told American Forces Press Service.

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Air Force Gen. William M. Fraser III, commander, U.S. Transportation Command, rolls out his new five-year strategy Oct. 12, 2012, at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. The strategy is the most comprehensive and collaborative in the command's 25-year history. The heart of the new strategic plan is to ensure United States can deploy, sustain and redeploy its forces as effectively and efficiently as possible. U.S. Transportation Command photo by Bob Fehringer

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Air Force Gen. William M. Fraser III, Transcom’s commander, shared the most-sweeping strategic planning effort in the command’s 25-year history today with his staff at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., and, via teleconference, with all of Transcom’s components and partners around the globe.
Calling the plan “a vision for smart change,” Fraser said its bottom line is to enhance a capability unique to the United States: “the extraordinary ability to rapidly project national power and influence -- anywhere, at any time.”

Fraser praised his organization for its hard work and dedication that has sustained the force over the past decade of conflict. But looking ahead, he emphasized that Transcom will remain the crucial, although largely unsung, driving force behind everything the military does.

“Transcom is the secret sauce of every other combatant command,” said Michel, who led the strategy development effort. “We make others go. We are kind of invisible, but you can’t get to the fight, you can’t be sustained in the fight, and you can’t return to the fight unless we are there to make it happen.”

As the United States draws down forces in Afghanistan and “pivots” toward the Asia-Pacific, that applies whether “the fight” involves humanitarian assistance and natural disaster responses, civic-action engagements or kinetic operations, he said.

Posturing for that future, particularly in light of fiscal uncertainties, took some serious soul-searching at Transcom, Michel explained. He and his team spent nine months developing the new strategy -- the command’s first to span more than a single year. They reviewed every process and procedure, he said, leaving no stone unturned as they challenged basic assumptions about how the command operates and allocates its resources.

It also required an analysis of what the future will look like and what demands are likely to be put on Transcom.

“The expectation of Transcom comes down to, we have to be able to project national power and influence. We provide the mobility … that makes that happen, ” Michel said. “So an effort like this asks, ‘What are the conditions of the future and how can we go farther, faster and more efficiently than we have ever done before?’”

Toward that end, the new strategy identifies four basic priorities.

-- Preserve readiness capability through both organic and commercial assets. Michel called ensuring unparalleled global mobility Transcom’s “no-fail business,” regardless of the nature of the mission it supports. “It is what we do in response to anything that happens in the world where America wants to have a presence,” he said.

-- Guaranteeing access to information technology to promote good decision-making. “In the future, the question becomes: ‘How do we get people the information we can, in a timely fashion so they can make smart choices?’” Michel said. “I don’t care if they are in Afghanistan, in Washington or down the hall. We are in a world awash in data. So how can we help turn that data into something meaningful?”

-- Improve Transcom’s business model, better aligning resources and processes to support the mission. The new strategy introduces “a whole new corporate governance process,” Michel said, with a commitment to create efficiencies and reduce operating costs. “We need to come up with up with a reinvigorated process … to improve the internal work we do, to make sure we continue to be world-class in delivering what others expect of us,” he said.

-- Develop “enterprise-focused professionals” within a work culture focused on customer requirements. The biggest strength within Transcom isn’t its aircraft, ships and moving parts, Michel emphasized. It’s the people behind them. “So we are in the process of creating a culture that focuses on serving others,” he said. “It all begins and ends with people.”

“Transformation of this magnitude will not be easy,” Fraser recognized in releasing the new strategy, “especially given the rapidly changing operating environment and the challenging fiscal landscape
“But we clearly recognize change is necessary,” Fraser continued. “We will build on past successes and position ourselves to reliably deploy, sustain and redeploy your nation’s forces more effectively and efficiently -- all while keeping a keen eye on improving collaboration and creating a climate of trust, innovation and empowerment throughout our workforce.”

Working toward priorities identified in the new strategy, Transcom will shape itself to better provide that support, regardless of what command or organization requires its serves, Michel said.
“I don’t care if I am doing that in Africa or I am doing that in Guam,” he said. “People want to be able to reach Transcom. They want to really quickly be able to say what they need and have Transcom move into action.”

Ensuring that process goes as smoothly, efficiently and cost-effectively as possible is the heart of the new strategic plan, he said. It provides a blueprint that leverages the command’s strengths and identifies areas for improvement to better-translate customer requirements into “the most appropriate, cost-effective modality to achieve the effect they want,” he said.

“We have to be much more deliberate and thoughtful about how we position ourselves for the future. That’s why it was important for Transcom to undertake what we are proud to say is the most comprehensive strategic planning and change effort ever,” Michel summarized.

“With this plan, we have a clear understanding of where we are today,” he said, “and we are pretty compelled about where we need to go tomorrow.”

DOD Helps Military Families Maintain Financial Readiness

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2012 – As service members prepare for any and all possible military operations, the Defense Department is reaching out to ensure that there are no contingencies back home to distract them from the mission, namely their personal finances.

Barbara Thompson, director of DOD’s Office of Family Policy/Children and Youth, is leading the information campaign with a different theme each month -- starting with retirement savings -- to help service members and their families stay in top financial shape.

“It’s a way for us to really look at some basic principles of financial readiness so our service members and their families have financial goals and the tools to meet those goals,” Thompson said today during an American Forces Press Service and Pentagon Channel interview.

“When people are worried about their financial situations or worried about their families at home, they’re not focused on their mission, so that impacts readiness,” she said, adding that some have lost their security clearances due to financial problems.

The first start toward financial readiness is to have some savings, not carry too much debt, and save for retirement, Thompson said. How much each person or family can do toward each of those goals will vary, she said.

Military families should contact a personal financial manager, who are available at every installation’s family and community center and are free of charge to service members, Thompson said. The financial managers, known as PFMs, are trained to create personal budgets and help with debt reduction and savings. Banks and credit unions on base also are required to provide financial education, she said.

To get more specific savings and investment advice, Thompson said, service members may want to hire a private financial planner off base who can advise on their various options for retirement planning.

There are many websites with valuable financial help, Thompson pointed out, including , which urges Thrift Savings Plan contributors to start saving early and be consistent.
The site also shows the potential for “compound earnings,” or how to grow your money, with various calculators for entering your own finances. also has many articles and weblinks to help with financial management and offers free financial counseling. Military Onesource also has the Joint Family Support Assistance Program that gives free financial guidance for geographically isolated military families.

Thompson also recommended, an educational resource provided by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, that includes a “Military Center” tab, along with the motto, “You Can’t Protect Your Family Without Protecting Your Finances.”

The site includes tutorials on various retirement plans, along with the warning that Social Security payments alone won’t be enough. The site even includes a financial game, “Moneytopia: The Big Dream” in which players choose a “big dream” retirement and must save for that while balancing their earnings and expenses. Those who seep into the red and “run out of money and stuff” lose the big dream.
For those who prefer to listen to a podcast, Thompson recommends the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Money Smart Podcast Network at for basic financial information .

Thompson’s current focus for educating service members about financial readiness is retirement savings, which she acknowledged often is not foremost on the minds of young adults who may instead be focused on establishing credit, reducing debt and building an emergency savings account.
“It’s very difficult for someone who is young to think so far ahead and think that they need to be saving,” Thompson said. But, she added, retirements have become increasingly uncertain and it’s easier to build savings by starting early and contributing consistently.

“As we look at the financial landscape of the world today -- not just in the United States, but in Europe and China -- it’s really important that we’re all using our own personal responsibility and putting away money,” she said. “Everyone looks forward to enjoying their retirement, but you have to have money to do that.”

Thompson encourages all service members, whether or not they plan to retire with the military, to contribute to the federal Thrift Savings Plan. “Start early and if it means starting small, that’s better than nothing at all,” she said.

While people in their 20s and 30s sometimes think they can wait to save for retirement when they may be making more money later, Thompson discourages that. “At every stage of your life, you’re going to have additional expenses,” she said. “You may make more money at 40, but you may also be purchasing a home or saving for college.”

It’s important for couples to talk about the “sticky subject” of money, Thompson said, and if that conversation is too difficult -- if one person is blaming the other for spending too much, for example -- military family life counselors can help them communicate.

Also, she said, it’s important to teach children about saving money, and at a young age. She suggests creating three money jars for each child: one to spend on things they want right away, one for savings, and one for charity.

“It’s important to teach children … that they can wait and save and work toward [buying something],” she said. “It’s an important lesson that it’s not about instant gratification.”
And, she added, “It’s important for children to realize they are able to contribute to society.”

Air Force leaders salute Navy on 237th birthday

10/12/2012 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy salute the Navy on its 237th birthday Oct. 13.

Donley wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Navy stating:

"Congratulations as you celebrate the 237th birthday of the United States Navy. Our Nation depends upon the men and women of the United States Navy, whose selfless service builds on your Service's proud heritage as a global force for good.

"The men and women of the United States Air Force are honored to serve alongside you and your Sailors as part of the Joint team. We wish you the very best on the Navy's 237th birthday."

Welsh wrote a letter to the Chief of Naval Operations stating:

"Congratulations to the men and women of the United States Navy as you celebrate 237 years of service to our great Nation. Since 1775, the men and women of the Navy have placed service above self in faithfully executing their mission to maintain freedom of the seas.

"On behalf of the men and women of the United States Air Force, I salute you and your Sailors, and wish you the very best on the Navy's birthday."

Roy wrote a letter to the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy stating:

"I'm writing this to extend sincere wishes for a Happy 237th Birthday to the United States Navy. Since the birth of our Navy in 1775, Sailors have served as the shield of the Republic. From the historic sailing vessels of the late eighteenth century to today's most advanced sea-based weapons systems, Americans have come to rely on their United States Navy to keep the Nation safe.

"On behalf of Airmen everywhere, I wish you all the best as you celebrate. We look forward to serving alongside you for many years to follow."

The 3rd Annual Global Strike Challenge less than a month away

by Kate Blais
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

10/12/2012 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The competitions are complete and preparations are under way for teams to come and be recognized as "best of the best" at the third-annual Global Strike Challenge symposium and score posting Nov. 5 - 7 at Barksdale AFB.

Kicking off in June, the challenge involved teams from across Air Force Global Strike Command, as well as the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Materiel Command. Operations, maintenance and security forces teams from bomber and missile wings participated in bomber, Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, helicopter and security forces challenges throughout the country, showcasing excellence and expertise in each field.

"This was the third year that we've held Global Strike Challenge and we've hit our stride in making the competition an event the crewmembers, maintainers and security forces not only look forward to but take great pride in," said Lt. Col. Michael Petrosh, the 2012 Global Strike Challenge command lead. "This year we encouraged each of the mission area evaluators to make the competition events more difficult while ensuring that the competition tests real-world skills."

The theme of this year's two day AFGSC Technology and Innovation Symposium, to be held at the Shreveport Convention Center, is "Strategic Challenges, Practical Solutions."
Scheduled speakers include defense analysts addressing national policy and Global Strike's role; university educators covering topics from nuclear deterrence and homeland defense to the psychology of decision-making; as well as Global Strike and other Air Force leadership. This event will reach globally with invited guests from the Russian, Canadian, French and Royal British militaries.

"The competition continues to be extremely important because it allows our young operators, maintainers and security forces to showcase their talents by refining their skills in a competitive event," Petrosh said.

The head-to-head competition is meant to recapture the spirited heritage of Global Strike Command. In 1948, Strategic Air Command announced its first bomber competition with the intent of focusing on improving bombing accuracy and aircrew proficiency. The competition continued for several decades, eventually incorporating weapons loading and missile combat contests, until the command deactivated in 1992.

The tradition continues today as elite teams of pilots, weapon loaders, missileers and security forces personnel descend on the Shreveport-Bossier area to learn the winners of the coveted team trophies: the Fairchild Trophy for best bomb wing and the Blanchard Trophy for the best missile wing. Winners are selected based on the combined competition scores in the mission areas of operations.

"When we put these professionals into a competitive environment we develop a pride in not only their Air Force specialty but also in their unit," said Petrosh. "By challenging themselves to be the very best they raise the bar for all the other members in their unit and career field."

For more information about Global Strike Challenge visit the event website. For updates from the event follow, @AFGlobalStrike, #GSChallenge12 on Twitter. Updates will also be posted on the Command's official Facebook page,

Face of Defense: Air Force Runner Goes For 'Ultra' Distance

By Karen Abeyasekere
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

MILDENHALL, England, Oct. 12, 2012 – For many people, running a marathon may seem pretty extreme for a warm-up. But for one U.S. Air Force squadron commander stationed at Royal Air Force Station Mildenhall, it's more like a walk in the park.

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U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Chris Bennett, 100th Operations Support Squadron commander at Royal Air Force Station Mildenhall, England, makes his way along country roads between London and Brighton during an ultra-marathon on Sept. 30, 2012. The ultra-marathon was 61.2 miles and participants had to find their own way to the finish line aided by a map and compass. Courtesy photo by Molly Bennett

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Lt. Col. Chris Bennett, 100th Operations Support Squadron commander, ran the Air Force Marathon Sept. 15 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Just two weeks later, he took part in the London-to-Brighton Ultramarathon.
The 61.2-mile ultramarathon’s course ran through London, Kent, Surry and Sussex, Bennett said.

Placing seventh out of 196 runners who started, Bennett's time was 10 hours, 50 minutes. Just 88 runners finished the course within the required time limit of 13 hours.

"There were a few minor course deviations along the way," said Bennett, who hails from Houston, Alaska. "When I hit the 40-mile checkpoint, I thought I had 17 miles left until somebody told me, 'No, you've got 20 miles still to go!'"

He said he had to mentally prepare himself for the fact that the finish line is static.

"So you're not done until you get there. But having my wife, Molly, there supporting me and cheering each time I passed her along the way really spurred me on," he said.

Considering there were no signs or directions along the way, it's hardly surprising the route took a little longer.

"We were issued a map and a compass, and just had to find our own way," Bennett said. "We had to land-navigate using terrain features, buildings and roads."

Bennett has run 27 marathons, along with an unofficial marathon, known as the "boundary run" around Cambridge in March, which he described as, "purely a training run to prepare for the run around London."

There must be only so many times somebody can run 26.2 miles before needing a new goal. For Bennett, the distance just wasn't a challenge any more.

"The uncertainty of whether I had the ability to finish the ultramarathon was out there, and that was one of the attractions," he said. "I thought I'd try something audacious and this was it! I wanted to do something that was beyond anything I'd ever done before."

Besides running a marathon or two, how does one prepare for an ultramarathon?

"Although the volume of training may not be a lot more than you'd do for a marathon, the focus for an ultramarathon is to spend more time on your feet," Bennett said. "It's not uncommon for folks to go out and do a 30- to 40-mile effort and just make it six to eight hours on your feet."

Bennett said after he'd signed up for the London-to-Brighton Ultramarathon last year, the opportunity arose for him to be part of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe team for this year's Air Force Marathon.

"I debated it for about a second, then foolishly said, 'Yeah, I can do that and then two weeks later, do an ultramarathon,'" he added.

Bennett said after having run so many marathons, he's used to it and his body recovers pretty quickly each time, so he felt fresh and had no problems when he started the ultramarathon.

Bennett said he was happy -- and tired -- at the end of the ultramarathon.

"I was glad to be done, no doubt about it! It was by far one of the hardest things I've ever done," Bennett said.

Bennett said he didn't suffer with any joint or knee issues, although he did have sore shoulders and a sore back after carrying his water backpack, which banged against his back as he ran for hours. He said his biceps also ached after holding his arms at a 90-degree angle for almost 11 hours.

"Spending that much time on your feet, you're worn out," Bennett said. "You can only move [only] so fast. Some of the things you'd think would hurt, didn't. And others that you didn't expect to hurt, did."

The key to recovery from such a long-distance race, Bennett said, was “to keep slowly walking, drink a lot of water, plus have carbohydrates and fats. A good steak dinner was a worthy reward.
"I also take ice baths,” he continued. “They're by no means fun, but when you have a good cup of coffee, the shivering soon stops, and that really helps with the inflammation and the lactic acid build-up. I also ran the next day, and have run every day since then, but staying active afterwards is one of the best therapies to recover and work through all the soreness and pain."

After 27 marathons and an ultramarathon, what's next for Bennett? Is there anything that can top that?

"I haven't picked a race yet but looking longer term, there are 100-mile races and that might be the next thing,” he said. “I wouldn't rule it out," he said. "But there are the challenges of work and four kids, as well as the amount of training it takes to prepare. It's a significant investment of time."
Being a squadron commander and serious runner, it's important to Bennett that members of his squadron are fit as well.

"The biggest thing is to lead by example," he said. "You don't have to be a runner like me. I don't want anyone to think I'm the standard. I enjoy it. It's my hobby, and I'll happily run with anybody, at any pace, to encourage them to run."

Bennett's mentorship is evident in the fact that in May 2011, Col. Chad Manske, then-100th Air Refueling Wing commander, along with the then-100th Civil Engineer Squadron commander and then-100th Security Forces Squadron commander teamed up with Bennett to run the Mont St. Michael marathon in Normandy, France. It was the first marathon for RAF Mildenhall's former 100th ARW and 100th SFS commanders.

"Chris Bennett always motivated our training efforts toward achieving our goals," Manske said. "Whether it was organizing tough training runs, advice on hydration and nutrition during a long race, or the encouragement we needed in ensuring we could reach our goals, Chris was always there.”
Bennett also is a key figure in the "Milden-haulers" running club, which motivates other base members to run.

One of those people is Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Warren, 100th Operations Group superintendent, who recently ran the Race to Remember half-marathon Sept. 8 at RAF Mildenhall.
"I don't really consider myself a runner, but I know it's necessary for me to maintain the fitness level I need," Warren said. "What encouraged me was the setting for the runs in Brandon Park, Thetford Forest; soft trails, shade, and other folks of all levels of fitness.

"After a few Saturdays of running out there,” he continued, “I had worked up to about 10 miles and figured I could easily do a half-marathon and knew the base was sponsoring one. My inspiration from Lt. Col. Bennett is his dedication to others regarding their fitness, and he exemplifies the standard in this regard."

Warren said Bennett helped him to get to a point of confidence where he could run a half-marathon.
"Now he's been working on me to do a full marathon, though I don't think he's ever going to convince me enough to actually run one! He also paced me on my last fitness test and I cut about 30 seconds off [the previous times]," he said.

Running is a way of life for Bennett, one he says he'll never let go.

"My goal when I'm 80 is to still be running," he said. "Granted, I'll slow down, but I just want to keep doing it and enjoy it, and I really do. I run with my kids and with Molly, as well as with folks in my squadron."

Summing up his thoughts on the ultramarathon, Bennett said it's important to just keep moving yourself forward as the race goes on.

"Your pace naturally slows down to some extent. There were a significant amount of hills in this course. It's not uncommon for runners to walk when they reach hills, and when people ask me did I walk any of it, well, yes I did," he said.

"Coming down the last quarter-mile, you're running down a boardwalk to the finish line,” he said. “There was a crowd waiting, and their applause and cheers as I came to the finish was a welcome sight. Almost 11 hours before, I'd started out not knowing if I would have the ability to finish, but I placed seventh overall and I was proud of my accomplishment.”