Military News

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

U.S. Partners With Israel for Exercise Austere Challenge

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2012 – More than 3,500 American service members will join with Israeli allies for Exercise Austere Challenge 2012 in Israel next week, U.S. and Israeli officials said today.

The exercise will be conducted throughout Israel and off-shore, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig A. Franklin and Israel Defense Forces Brig. Gen. Nitzan Nuriel said during a teleconference with reporters. Franklin commands the 3rd Air Force and is the senior U.S. commander for the exercise. Nuriel is the Israeli lead planner.

More than 1,000 U.S. military personnel are arriving in Israel for the exercise, Franklin said. “They will be in a variety of locations across the country for the next several weeks,” he said. The exercise will build on the long-standing relationship between the two countries, test the cooperative missile defense of Israel, and promote regional stability.

U.S. service members will man Patriot anti-missile systems, an Aegis ballistic missile defense ship and various other air defense systems. The Israelis will put more than 1,000 service members into the field and will test the Iron Dome and Arrow 2 systems. The Israelis will also tie the developing David’s Sling system into the scenarios.

Most of the three-week exercise will be simulation, but some training will entail live-fire, Nuriel said.
Austere Challenge 2012 is the largest U.S.-Israeli military exercise to date, Franklin said, and it is the latest in a long line of such exercises. The scenario for the exercise is not aimed at any specific threat or country in the region, both Franklin and Nuriel said.

“This exercise is purely about improving our combined U.S.-Israeli capabilities,” the U.S. general said. “It’s about military teamwork. It is not related to national elections nor any perceived tensions in the Middle East. We are military professionals coming together to train for a defensive mission.”

The U.S. has pledged $30 million to the exercise and the Israelis pegged their exercise costs at 30 million shekels --around $7.9 million.

Alaska Reservist wins CrossFit divisional State Championship

by Tech. Sgt. Dana Rosso
477th Fighter Group Public Affairs


10/17/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- A Reservist was awarded first place in his division at the 2012 CrossFit Alaska State Championships in Anchorage Oct. 13.

Lt. Col. David Piffarerio, 302nd Fighter Squadron commander, competed in the over 40 male category of the first annual CrossFit competition during the Fitness Expo at the Dena'ina Center.

"I've been doing cross fit since 2007 and I have never looked back," said Piffarerio. "It's a phenomenal fitness program as I'm in the best shape of my life. It's very challenging but rewarding at the same time as you meet fitness goals and accomplish things you never thought you could."

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program consisting of varied, high intensity, functional movement with the stated goal of improving fitness which it defines as work capacity across broad time and modal domains. They combine movements such as sprinting, rowing, jumping rope, climbing rope, flipping tires, weightlifting, and carrying odd objects; they use barbells, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, kettle bells, medicine balls, boxes for box jumps, and many bodyweight exercises.

"The interesting thing about CrossFit is there isn't a 'typical' workout," said Piffarerio. "Every day is something new and challenging. You can see workouts range from five minutes up to an hour, with combinations of metabolic conditioning, weightlifting and body weight movements all in the mix."
Athletes throughout the state gathered at the Dena'ina Center to compete in the CrossFit competition, Strong Man and Woman competition and the Fitness and Figure competition.

"CrossFit can offer anyone and any level the ultimate fitness program," said Piffarerio.

Hangar 5 on JBER-Elmendorf is equipped with all the necessary cross fit equipment.

"There is not a full time staff at the hangar to take care of all of the equipment, so it is up to the people using the facility to police up after themselves, help others when they can, and keep a positive attitude while training there," said Piffarerio. "That's the spirit of CrossFit."

AMC Icon final competition is Oct. 25 at Scott Club

by Scott Black
AMC Marketing


10/17/2012 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Air Mobility Command will host the AMC Icon finals at the Scott Club Oct. 25 from 6:30-9 p.m., and the event will feature the Air Force Band of Mid-America.

"AMC Icon provides Air Force vocalists an opportunity to showcase their talent, and with the Band of Mid-America providing accompaniment, the show is truly an tremendous experience for contestants and the audience," said Scott Black, director of AMC marketing and Icon program manager.

AMC Icon is loosely based on the TV show American Idol and will feature active duty Air Force vocalists from all 10 AMC bases. Participants will be competing for $2,000 in cash prizes and the winner will also receive a special invitation to audition with the Air Force Tops in Blue--the U.S. Air Force's premier entertainment showcase.

Participants in the 2012 Icon command performance include:
· Master Sgt. Jason Shamis, Joint Base Charleston, S.C.
· Airman 1st Class Duawana Robinson, Dover AFB, Del.
· Airman 1st Class Abigail Foster, Fairchild AFB, Wash.
· Airman 1st Class Andrew Hicks, Grand Forks AFB, N.D.
· Staff Sgt. Tiry Crane, Little Rock AFB, Ark.
· Tech. Sgt. Sonya Bryson, MacDill AFB, Fla.
· Tech. Sgt. Doug Boren, McConnell AFB, Kan.
· Staff Sgt. Oliver Dagum, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
· 1st Lt. Nicole White, Scott AFB, Ill.
· Senior Airman Desiree Scarver, Travis AFB, Calif.

The master of ceremonies for the event is Walter Campbell, an award-winning comedian who has toured with Tops in Blue and performed with some of the top entertainers in the industry. Additionally, a special panel of judges will be on hand to select the best of the best. The judges include St. Louis media personalities, "Smash," from The Smash Band, and Fox 2's Mandy Murphey. Also returning this year is Dr. Stella Markou, director of vocal studies at the University of Missouri in St. Louis. Markou is also a noted recording artist and theatrical performer. Two new judges in 2012 are Jim Cornelison and J Rome. Cornelison is an accomplished opera performer and full time national anthem singer for the Chicago Blackhawks. J Rome recently won ABC's hit show "Duets" while partnered with Jennifer Nettles from the award winning country band, Sugarland.

Doors at the Scott Club will open at 5:30 p.m. and the show will start at 6:30 p.m. Seating is free, but will be limited.

"AMC Icon promises to be an outstanding program--come early for the best seats--the first 250 people through the door will receive a complimentary Icon t-shirt. This is going to be a fun night for the whole family-you won't want to miss it," said Black.

For more information, call the Scott Club at 744-1333.

AF soccer team wins 2nd straight armed forces championship

by Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Foster
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs


10/17/2012 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFNS) -- The All-Air Force Men's Soccer Team has done it again.

The team triumphed in the 2012 Armed Forces Soccer Championship held at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 23 through Oct. 1. Air Force team members traveled from all over the world to train, compete and bring home the gold with a 2-1 victory over Army.

Lt. Col. Derrick Weyand, head coach and 66th Security Forces Squadron commander, was grateful for the opportunity to return.

"To be a security forces member day-to-day and know the Air Force gave me time to go and coach, I can't top that," said Weyand. "The fact that my boss trusted me to go and do this speaks volumes for the Air Force and for all the players whose bosses let them go as well."

The only thing better than coming home with gold is finishing the tournament undefeated, and after 23 years of competition, the Air Force team was the first to accomplish it.

"I wanted to go back again and make a point this year, which I think we did," said Master Sgt. Raul Martinez, assistant coach and 66th Force Support Squadron Military Personnel Section superintendent. "It's hard to beat gold, but we did."

The journey began with scouting players from the Defenders Cup at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2. Six players were selected from the all military tournament to join the other hopefuls, and a total of 40 players started the Air Force training camp Sept. 3.

Unfortunately, that many players would not get the chance to stay. Within 72 hours, eight players were cut and they continued to be sent home until the final number reached 18.

After the initial cuts were made, the coaches started focusing on different cross training techniques, such as swimming, so the player's bodies could recover.

"We wanted to make sure our players stayed healthy throughout the tournament," said Martinez. "San Antonio is extremely hot midday so we found alternate activities during that time and most evenings were spent playing base or city teams."

Weyand explained how impressed he was with the local competition in San Antonio and after dominating their first game of the tournament, he realized it was because they had been practicing with such high caliber teams.

"We had great support from the local area," Martinez said. "Nobody wanted to take the time to play us until we beat one of the top teams. Because of that, we had a good reputation and then all the local teams wanted to play us."

Even a local news crew came out and did a live segment with the team while training one early morning.

Training wrapped up Sept. 22 and the team headed to California to defend their title. The coaches felt pretty confident at that point and knew they had a pretty good chance at the gold.

"In four years, I have never seen players this good," said Weyand. "We cut guys that started last year...They just keep getting better and better and the commitment was above and beyond."

The team of Airmen, whose ages ranged from 22 to 35, began by playing their first game against Army. They beat them 2-1 and after a day of rest, beat Marines 2-1. The coaches were interested to see how they would play against Navy since they beat them in the championship match the year before.

The team had nothing to worry about as they easily handled the game with a 5-0 win.

Although the coaches felt positive going into the championship game against Army, they realized any error may send them home with silver.

"One mistake could take us to overtime," said Martinez. "We knew anything could happen, but with the quality of players we had, our chance for gold was pretty good."

Air Force dominated the championship game and after scoring in the tenth minute, they held Army until minute 92. With a score of 1-1, they went into 30 minutes of overtime and Air Force stayed optimistic the title would not leave that day with another service.

The team played as if they had been playing together for years and when one player cramped up, he made sure the coach did not remove him from the game. After stretching, he went back in and immediately scored the game winning goal during the 14th minute of overtime.

Weyand explained that this year's team worked together flawlessly.

"Everyone wanted to win...If they needed to sit on the bench to rest up for the next game they were willing to do that. They were seeing the bigger picture," he said.

The skill and capability to work together as a team paid off when the final whistle blew and they were the champions for a second year in a row.

The bleachers, which were filled with family and friends, erupted in cheers and Martinez's mom, who had dyed her hair blue for the occasion, sounded the horn she blew every time every Air Force scored.

"Everyone wanted to take a group photo after the final whistle and we're all standing in the goal with our gold medals and looking at the faces of the family members," said Martinez. "There were more people actually taking our pictures than were standing in the goal. To see their pride and excitement was the best part for me."

The All-Air Force Men's Soccer Team has won gold more than any other team with 12 gold medals.

"I think everyone felt there's nothing that we couldn't do together," said Weyand. "We're not just brothers on the field, but brothers in arms in the service. Everyone talks about the total force and that's what we were built on."

The final results for 2012 Armed Forces Soccer Championship Tournament: Air Force, first place, gold; Army, second place, silver; Marines, third place; and Navy, fourth place.

Great Lakes Recreation Programs Earn Gold Medal

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2012 – Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill., is the first military installation to earn top honors in the National Gold Medal Grand Plaque Award of Excellence in Park and Recreation Management competition conducted by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association.

Officials announced the annual awards yesterday during the NRPA’s annual conference in Anaheim, Calif.
This is the first year the awards have included an Armed Forces Recreation Award category for military morale, welfare and recreation programs. Great Lakes was one of four Grand Plaque finalists in the military category, along with MWR programs at Fort Knox, Ky., and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and Naval Base San Diego in California.

The military category recognizes recreation programs for service members, their families, retirees, reservists, and civilian employees. Military installations around the world submitted applications demonstrating their recreation programs’ excellence and innovation in long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship and other categories, officials said.

NRPA officials also recognized three other Defense Department recipients in its National Awards categories:
-- Armed Forces Recreation Achievement: Jeffrey B. Sias, Naval Station Rota, Spain;
-- Excellence in Military Recreation: Fort Knox Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Community Recreation Division; and
-- Excellence in Water Safety: Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

F-35A completes first in-flight JDAM release

10/17/2012 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- An F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft completed the first in-flight weapons release of a 2,000 pound GBU-31 BLU-109 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) from a 5th Generation fighter, Oct. 16.

The flight was conducted by U.S. Air Force Maj. Eric "Doc" Schultz. The aircraft, known as AF-1, jettisoned an instrumented GBU-31 over the China Lake test range from the left internal weapons bay.

The F-35A 5th Generation fighter is designed to carry a payload of up to 18,000 pounds using 10 weapon stations. The F-35A features four internal weapon stations located in two weapon bays to maximize stealth capability. The CTOL aircraft can also utilize an additional three external weapon stations per wing if required

Alaska National Guard conducts three search-and-rescues in three days

By Maj. Guy Hayes
Alaska Air National Guard

CAMP DENALI, Alaska (10/17/12) - The 11th Air Force Rescue Coordination Center is working around the clock to lead search-and-rescue efforts, calling in multiple agencies, including the Alaska Air National Guard, to assist in three separate missions since Oct. 14.

The first mission the RCC opened was in response to an overdue Super Cub that was last seen early morning Oct. 13 at the Soldotna Airport. The pilot was flying his aircraft from Soldotna to Wolf Lake, near Wasilla, but never made it to his destination.

The RCC tasked the Kenai Civil Air Patrol on Oct. 14 to search the departure area around Soldotna, but Civil Air Patrol members were unable to locate his aircraft.  Since then, the Alaska Air National Guard and Civil Air Patrol units from Anchorage, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Birchwood and Seward have joined in the search efforts, flying grid patterns over the pilot’s flight path to look for signs of his aircraft.

The search has focused on three areas: the pilot’s last known point in Soldotna, the destination at Wolf Lake and the flight path in between the two points. The RCC has also coordinated efforts with the Alaska State Troopers to follow leads that may help with the search. Weather conditions have hampered search efforts, but Civil Air Patrol units from Anchorage, JBER and Birchwood are still searching.

The RCC was notified of a second mission by Alaska State Troopers Oct. 15 at 8 p.m.

The request was for medical assistance to treat a man with a gunshot wound to the chest at Hiline Lake.
According to the RCC, Alaska State Troopers were unable to execute the mission with its helicopter because there was no crew available. LifeMed Alaska, an air ambulance provider, declined the mission because the weather was below its standards for flying.

The RCC alerted the Alaska National Guard’s 210th and 212th Rescue Squadrons, and following a situation brief, they launched an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter at 9:25 p.m. with two Alaska State Troopers onboard because of the unknown circumstances surrounding the incident and remote nature of the location.

Arriving on scene at 10:07 p.m., the Guardian Angels performed life saving measures to treat the man. They continued these efforts as they loaded him onto the Pave Hawk helicopter and throughout the flight to an Anchorage hospital.

They arrived at the hospital at 11:30 p.m. where he was released to medical personnel.

During the same timeframe, the RCC was contacted again by the FAA to search for an overdue pilot flying a C-1A, twin–engine cargo aircraft. The pilot was reported overdue by co-workers after he was scheduled to deliver supplies from Wasilla to Nixon Fork Mine, east of McGrath.

The same 210th Rescue Squadron flight crew that had just finished the rescue at Hiline Lake was tasked and began their search at 1 a.m. Oct. 16, searching along the expected flight path using night vision goggles.
With no flight plan filed by the pilot, the crew was unable to find any sign of the aircraft and returned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson after two hours of searching.

At 8 a.m. Oct. 16, the Alaska Air National Guard’s 211th Rescue Squadron was tasked by the RCC to continue the search with an HC-130 aircraft. According to the RCC, the equipment onboard the HC-130 has advanced electronic search equipment that allows it to pick up weak electronic signals and hone in on them.
After hours of searching, the Alaska Guardsmen on the HC-130 located a crash site in the vicinity of Skwentna. After circling over the suspected location, the crew obtained visual identification of the plane that matched the description of the aircraft.

The RCC immediately tasked the Alaska Air National Guard’s 210th Rescue Squadron with 212th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angels onboard to respond to the crash site. Once on scene, the Guardian Angels were lowered from the HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter via hoist into a wooded area that contained the site.

Guardsmen identified the single occupant pilot, who was deceased. The RCC transferred control of the mission to Alaska State Troopers and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Both aircraft reported overdue are equipped with older 121.5 MHz beacons. According to the RCC, if the pilots had installed the newer 406 MHz beacon their ability to locate the aircraft would be much faster because they could use satellites to hone in on their location.

AFSOC: A history of 'door kickers'

by Senior Airman Melanie Holochwost
Air Force Special Operations Command


10/15/2012 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Although Air Force Special Operations Command was officially established in 1990, its history dates all the way back to World War II. From that time, Air Commandos have been heavily called upon for a wide assortment of missions - missions nobody else could do.

"Since 1975, at the end of the Vietnam conflict, Air Force Special Operations have been involved in some sort of contingency operation, except for three years," said Herb Mason, AFSOC historian. "We've supported the U.N., been in many countries in Africa, Haiti, Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan."

The lessons learned from Operation Rice Bowl and Urgent Fury in the early 1980s created a push for United States Special Operations Command, which activated April 16, 1987. Three years later, AFSOC was formed as its air component.

Then, just months later, Desert Storm started.

"Desert Storm was the first time AFSOC had the opportunity to shine (as an official Air Force command)," said Tim Brown, AFSOC deputy historian. "All of our assets were deployed and involved with the liberation of Kuwait. Our MH-53s escorted U.S. Army Apache helicopters into Iraq to take out Iraqi radar sites at the very start of the U.S. and coalition air campaign."

Since then, AFSOC has been involved in more than 25 major operations.

"The number is constantly growing," Brown said.

Some fights were short lived; however, some have been lengthy engagements. One example is Operation Enduring Freedom, which has been a continuous fight since October 2001.

Although every command brings something valuable to these operations, AFSOC is usually there first.

"We're the door kickers," Mason said. "We kick in the door, we get there first, we're on the ground, and we do what's asked of us."

The job gets done at all costs, according to retired combat controller, Wayne Norrad, 24th Special Operations Wing.

"Our motto says it all... we're first there, so that others may live," Norrad said.

During Operation Anaconda, Tech. Sgt. John Chapman and Senior Airman Jason Cunningham lived up to the motto.

"There are people still alive because of Jason's work as a pararescueman on that mission and John's tenacity to know that it was a dire situation and that someone had to take out the fighters and gun nest," Norrad said.

As a combat controller, Chapman was there first, and as the pararescuman, Cunningham was providing medical treatment so others may live.

Since 9/11, AFSOC has memorialized 31 Airmen - 26 enlisted and five officers, Mason said.

Even with great leadership, extensive training, and a strong commitment, Special Tactics Airmen may face a great deal of risk during their careers.

"It's the way the SOF mission is," Norrad said. "There is no one else to go to. We have to make it happen."

However, the added risk is not always a negative, according to Norrad.

"It keeps people excited, it keeps them on their toes," he said. "It seems like you are closer to what's going on in the world."

From World War II until today, Air Commandos continue to be at the tip of the spear, and a step ahead in a changing world.

Pain felt around the world

by Capt. Tamara Fischer-Carter
Air Force Space Command Public Affairs


10/17/2012 - PETERSON AFB, Colo. -- While many were hitting snooze for the second time, a driven few answered a calling from deep within.

Approximately 40 Air Force members gathered together outside the fitness center here Oct. 16 to commemorate the 6th anniversary of the death of Airman 1st Class LeeBernard E. Chavis in a unique way.

On Oct. 14, 2006, Chavis, a 21-year-old 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.

Chief Master Sgt. Jason France, former 820th Security Forces Group operations superintendent at Moody AFB, now at Hill AFB, Utah, designed the annual Chavis Workout, a CrossFit-style workout that the group did together in Chavis' memory. The Chavis Workout consists of 150 burpees (or an up-down with a push-up), a one mile run and 150 squat thrusts.

This year, former 824th Security Forces member at Moody AFB, Ga., Staff Sgt. Heather Ruhlman, now a 21st Space Wing paralegal, sent out an invite to the workout via Facebook. She was there in Baghdad when Chavis was killed.

"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."

Ruhlman said that last year 400 people across the globe accepted the workout invitation she sent. This year appears to have garnered a similar response. Among the people attending the workout here were members of security forces, comptroller, judge advocate and public affairs units; and the nearby USAF Academy.

Staff Sgt. Danny Keurtz, 21st Security Forces member, is a regular at the gym and has been doing two-(or more)-a-days in preparation for the event.

"The turn out today was fantastic. Much more than I think anyone expected," said Kuertz. "With everyone there you could tell people were pushing as hard as they could. It was nice to see people pour so much sweat and camaraderie into remembering Airman 1st Class Chavis. I couldn't have been happier to share this experience with everyone there."

1st Lt. Connie Dillon, public affairs officer with Air Force Space Command, participated. "This event was seriously challenging and deep in meaning. It was something that kicked my butt and made me want to quit every second, but I keep going because of what it stands for," said Dillon.

As each person progressed through the workout, they tick-marked their count with chalk on the pavement. They pressed through the workout in mostly respectful silence, while others from around the world wrote "complete," with their location and a message of love to Chavis on a Facebook page created for the event.

"It warms my heart when I see this enormous outpouring of support for the workout," said Ruhlman. "I can't believe the workout has become what it is today. Six years later, it still hurts just like it did on 14 Oct. 2006, but what's uplifting is knowing Chavis is still remembered just as I always hoped and knew he would be."

At the end of the workout everyone understood what the Air Force family means by "proud heritage and legacy of valor." There was no team huddle or cheer, only the symbolic chalk outlines at each person's feet as they mustered what strength they had left to gather drink bottles and cold weather gear.

With solemn expressions like they had just visited Airman Chavis' grave in person, they turned away to carry on the Air Force mission.

DOD Augments Stability Operations with Partners, Private Sector

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2012 – Conducting stability operations is a core mission for the U.S. military, but the Defense Strategic Guidance and 10 years of war make clear a continuing need to augment the range of such operations with the skills of regional partners and the private sector, a senior defense official said yesterday.

James A. Schear, deputy assistant secretary of defense for partnership strategy and stability operations, spoke at the annual summit of the International Stability Operations Association.
The ISOA represents companies that provide services and support to the international community in conflict, post-conflict and disaster-relief operations.

“The direction of the DSG, the Defense Strategic Guidance, is pretty clear. It places great emphasis on building the security capacity of others,” Schear said.

Stability operations, which are usually military operations in civilian environments, include many missions, among them peace operations, combating terrorism, counter-drug operations, population control and nation assistance.

“While we’re seeking to rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region while maintaining our emphasis on the Middle East, as we must, we’re also viewing security cooperation as a way to sustain our defense commitments within Europe and partnerships across all regions,” Schear said.
Opportunities to work with increasingly capable regional partners are multiplying, he said, and public-private partners have cultural and language expertise, and technological innovations that allow U.S. forces to overcome a lack of language expertise -- an issue of enduring importance.
The U.S. military will have other looming stabilization operation needs, he noted.

“As the Army expands its emphasis on regional alignment, our ability to train, educate and augment U.S. military forces’ abilities to operate in diverse cultural environments will be critical,” Schear said.

Military training will adjust to address these increasing needs, he added, “but it will not be able to prepare every force for every contingency.”

Schear said his sense is that partnerships with the private sector, as was the case in Iraq and Afghanistan, will continue to be needed to augment military capabilities.

Conflict prevention also will be increasingly important for the State Department and for all departments and agencies, he said.

“In regions where America’s national interests are at stake, we must make the requisite investment now to help us forego the requirement for larger, more expensive and more intrusive operations later on,” Shear added.

The latest State Department Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review clearly states a desire to work with the private sector on conflict prevention, and develop more flexible and cost-effective expert cores that can quickly deploy, he said.

“I would even go further,” the deputy assistant secretary added, “and say not only the U.S. government but our allies and partners will see increasing needs for private-sector expertise and capabilities in areas such as improving governance, monitoring tenuous situations, and providing an immediate-response capability.”

Augmenting partners’ abilities will increase the importance that the United States applies to foreign militaries in this more distributed model of intraregional security, Schear said.

“As is well-established in the peacekeeping domain, public-private collaboration on training is necessary not only to improve our relationships with partners but to build regional conflict prevention and response,” he added.

The department has taken initial steps to implement the strategic guidance on stability operations, including the February Biennial Assessment of Stability Operations Capabilities that Schear said “reaffirms stability operations as a core competency for U.S. armed forces” and gives DOD “a good start in working on a roadmap for future investments.”

The effort’s centerpiece is an ongoing departmentwide joint capabilities-based assessment, called the JCBA, that spans all services and DOD components, he said.

Army leadership has begun a process that will consider military capabilities, gaps and shortfalls to be addressed in retaining perishable stability operations skills, he added, while securing the participation of other departments and agencies to study the government’s ability to conduct the complex missions.

“Over the longer term we’re also intent upon designating a joint proponent for stability operations for the department … writ large,” Schear said.

“That step would move us beyond a purely policy-advocacy role, which my office plays, toward an entity that can bring together as a lead integrator all the activities that feed into the organizing, staffing, training, resourcing and force-generating aspects of this effort,” he added.

Key elements for meeting future mission demands include continued support for the civil affairs community for units that can be sized and task-organized for stability operations-related missions, and the growth of regionally aligned general-purpose forces, he said, which is “already a direction we’re heading in.”

It will also be necessary to retain civil-military teaming and to further develop educational training and exercise opportunities that stress nonkinetic aspects of stabilization and reconstruction, Schear added.

The refinement of critically important niche capabilities such as expertise in transitional law
enforcement also will be needed, he said, and U.S. armed forces are required to cover critical gaps.

“As this assessment matures over time and as we seek to implement lessons from the findings of the Joint Staff’s [June 2012 Decade of War, Vol. 1] … I’m confident that we’ll delve further into the questions of legal authorities, force development, force management, interagency participation and public-private collaboration,” Schear said, adding that all are “absolutely vital in retaining our stability operations capabilities.”

Navy to Christen Amphibious Assault Ship America


The Navy will christen the amphibious assault ship, America (LHA 6), on Oct. 20, during a 10 a.m. CDT ceremony in Pascagoula, Miss.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos will deliver the ceremony’s principal address.  Mrs. Lynne Pace, wife of former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, will serve as the ship's sponsor.
 
From the American Revolution through the first Gulf War, three warships have sailed with the name America.  The first America was a 74-gun ship-of-the-line built for use by the Continental Navy and then presented to the king of France as a gift to show appreciation for his country's service to the new nation.  The second America transported troops during World War I. The third ship to bear the name was a Kitty-Hawk class aircraft carrier that supported operations from the Vietnam War through Operation Desert Storm.  America will be the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear this name.

"The LHA 6 will inherit and continue the proud tradition of distinguished service that has long been associated with ships bearing the name America,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.  “For decades to come, the America Class will give sailors and Marines highly capable, flexible and advanced platforms for executing the complete spectrum of operations.”

The future USS America will be the first ship of its class, replacing the Tawara class of amphibious assault ships.  As the next generation "big-deck" amphibious ship, LHA 6 will be optimized for aviation, capable of supporting current and future aircraft such as the tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey and Joint Strike Fighter.  The LHA 6 will use the same gas turbine propulsion plant, zonal electrical distribution system, and electric auxiliary system built for USS Makin Island (LHD 8).  This unique auxiliary propulsion system is designed for fuel efficiency. 
 
The LHA 6 will provide a flexible, multi-mission platform with capabilities that span the range of military operations -- from forward deployed crisis response to forcible entry operations.  The ship also will provide forward presence and power projection as an integral part of joint, interagency and multinational maritime expeditionary forces.
 
The America will operate for sustained periods in transit to, and operations, in an amphibious objective area to include:  embarking, transporting, controlling, inserting, sustaining and extracting elements of a marine air-ground task force, and supporting forces by helicopters and tilt rotors supported by Joint Strike Fighters F-35B.
 
Although the America will not include a well deck, the ship includes additional aviation spaces and will have an increased aviation capacity:  enlarged hangar deck, realignment and expansion of the aviation maintenance facilities, a significant increase in available stowage for parts and support equipment, and increased aviation fuel capacity.

The ship's keel was laid July 17, 2009, and the shipbuilder plans to deliver the America in late 2013.  The USS America will be homeported in San Diego.

Built by Ingalls Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, Miss., the ship will be 844 feet in length, with a 106-foot beam, and have a displacement of approximately 44,971 long tons.

  Interested media may contact the Navy Office of Information at 703-697-5342.  Information on amphibious assault ships is available online at:  http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=4200&tid=400&ct=4 .

Alaska Reservist wins CrossFit divisional State Championship

by Tech. Sgt. Dana Rosso
477th Fighter Group Public Affairs


10/16/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- A Reservist was awarded first place in his division at the 2012 CrossFit Alaska State Championships in Anchorage Oct. 13.

Lt. Col. David Piffarerio, 302nd Fighter Squadron commander, competed in the over 40 male category of the first annual CrossFit competition during the Fitness Expo at the Dena'ina Center.

"I've been doing cross fit since 2007 and I have never looked back," said Piffarerio. "It's a phenomenal fitness program as I'm in the best shape of my life. It's very challenging but rewarding at the same time as you meet fitness goals and accomplish things you never thought you could."

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program consisting of varied, high intensity, functional movement with the stated goal of improving fitness which it defines as work capacity across broad time and modal domains. They combine movements such as sprinting, rowing, jumping rope, climbing rope, flipping tires, weightlifting, and carrying odd objects; they use barbells, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, kettle bells, medicine balls, boxes for box jumps, and many bodyweight exercises.

"The interesting thing about CrossFit is there isn't a 'typical' workout," said Piffarerio. "Every day is something new and challenging. You can see workouts range from five minutes up to an hour, with combinations of metabolic conditioning, weightlifting and body weight movements all in the mix."
Athletes throughout the state gathered at the Dena'ina Center to compete in the CrossFit competition, Strong Man and Woman competition and the Fitness and Figure competition.

"CrossFit can offer anyone and any level the ultimate fitness program," said Piffarerio.

Hangar 5 on JBER-Elmendorf is equipped with all the necessary cross fit equipment.

"There is not a full time staff at the hangar to take care of all of the equipment, so it is up to the people using the facility to police up after themselves, help others when they can, and keep a positive attitude while training there," said Piffarerio. "That's the spirit of CrossFit."

New commander to lead 115th Fighter Wing into the future



October 16, 2012
By Tech Sgt. Jon LaDue
Wisconsin National Guard

For the first time in more than eight years, there is a new commander leading the Madison-based 115th Fighter Wing - which includes more than 1,000 Airmen and a squadron of F-16 Fighting Falcons.

Col. Jeffery Wiegand of Sun Prairie, Wis., assumed command from Brig. Gen. Joseph Brandemuehl of Madison, Wis., by receiving the 115th Fighter Wing unit flag as part of an official change-of-command ceremony Oct. 14 in a packed aircraft hangar.

"To the men and women of the 115th Fighter Wing, I am so thoroughly impressed with your pride, your professionalism and I'm honored, I'm privileged to be your commander … to lead you," Wiegand said.

Wiegand graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1989. He joined the Air National Guard in 2004 and has more than 3,000 flying hours in the F-16.

"Change - while sometimes not apparent, it's always present," said Brig. Gen. John McCoy, commander of the Wisconsin Air National Guard. "And it's a basic tenet of our military heritage. [Col. Wiegand's] experiences make him the perfect person as we move forward with plans here in Madison with our strategic initiatives."

Brademuehl recently retired Friday (Oct. 12) with more than 33 years of service, culminating as commander of the 115th since March of 2004.

"Nearly 70 percent of you have known no other commander than me at this organization," Brandemuehl acknowledged. "Col. Wiegand is going to set new expectations and he is going to do a phenomenal job as the wing commander here. You're in great hands - I have full confidence in Col. Wiegand.

"Finally, I'd just like to say a simple thank you to all of you," he continued. "Thank you for the support, the dedication, the hard work."

Brandemuehl, who earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Astronautical Engineering and Structural Dynamics, respectively, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1979, joined the Air Guard in 1983 and earned his commission in the Wisconsin Air National Guard in 1985.

"He led the fighter wing on multiple combat deployments and major command inspections. He leaves the service with more than 3,200 flying hours including more than 2,000 in the Fighting Falcon," McCoy said. "He is truly dedicated to excellence and leaves today with a proud, successful legacy."

Brandemuehl helped instill a culture of dedication to excellence at the 115th, a culture likely to endure with the unit and its new commander.

Wiegand addressed the fighter wing members on the future of the 115th.

"We do have a tough road ahead of us with many challenges, specifically the federal budget," Wiegand said. "But I firmly believe these challenges present opportunities for us.

"Our nation, now more than ever, will depend upon the National Guard," Wiegand continued. "We are a strategic reserve but we're being utilized as an operation force. That alone present challenges. We must continue to fight and win today's wars and be prepared for future conflicts."

Wiegand emphasized that the people who make up the 115th Fighter Wing are its greatest resource.

"I am proud to wear this uniform - it's an honor to serve our great country," Wiegand said. "I am proud to be a Guardsman, and it's an honor to command the 115th Fighter Wing."

McCoy expressed confidence in the new commander and reaffirmed his trust in the 115th Fighter Wing.

"Together we make a great team, providing outstanding value for America, our state and this community," McCoy said. "As we look to the future, there will be additional changes, but we know the bedrock of the fighter wing is solid. We will continue to build on the great foundation laid by our predecessors ... and expect to see continued success."

Face of Defense: Cuba Native Takes Pride in Guard Service


By Army 1st Sgt. Vaughn R. Larson
112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

MADISON, Wis., Oct. 17, 2012 – Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde, the top enlisted soldier with the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, was 5 years old when his parents fled communist Cuba on one of the last “Freedom Flights” in April 1968.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde speaks to 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team soldiers following a Feb. 4, 2012, sendoff ceremony for the Wisconsin National Guard's 82nd Agribusiness Development Team at Hartford Union High School in Hartford, Wis. U.S. Army photo by 1st Sgt. Vaughn R. Larson
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"My dad was working for a bakery company," Conde said. "They made Cuban bread and pastries. A couple of years after Fidel [Castro] took over, my uncle's company was taken away from him. At that time, my dad was asked to become part of the local communist party. He refused, saying he wasn't a political kind of person. Within a month, he was fired."
 
With few options available, Conde's father went underground, buying and selling different goods. All the while, his family worried that he would be sent to the grueling sugar cane fields. Conde said his parents applied to leave Cuba to provide better opportunities for their children.

"My dad was 48, and my mom was 42 when they left," Conde said. "They basically left everything they'd worked for in Cuba. They didn't get money for their house or their car -- they left with nothing. I'm 49 -- if I had to start all over, … it brings you back to reality."

Conde's family settled in south Florida's Cuban community. After graduating from high school in 1980, Conde attended college in Minnesota and joined the Minnesota Army National Guard in 1983.

"What drove me to join the National Guard was I was going to school, and that would give me some extra cash. But that was only 20 percent of it," Conde said. "I looked at the opportunities this country has given me, all the freedoms and liberties you get. Many of us don't understand, I think, what it means to be an American, to live in the U.S. How do you give back? Military service is the way I chose."
Conde moved to Wisconsin in 1986 and joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard. He also served with the Florida Army National Guard in 1991 and 1992. As the command sergeant major for 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry, he deployed to Iraq in 2005 for a convoy escort mission. In April 2009, he deployed to Afghanistan with an embedded training team, and five months later was assigned to Regional Support Team North Afghanistan as the senior noncommissioned officer for the Afghanistan national security forces development and infrastructure growth.

Living in River Falls in northern Wisconsin has coaxed the Cuban accent mostly out of Conde, but his heritage remains.

"I am who I am," he observed. "Cuban people are very hard-working and passionate about what they believe in. That's part of my Cuban heritage."

America, he said, is the land of opportunity.

"If you look long enough and work hard enough, you'll succeed," Conde said.

"There are great people in America, no matter what heritage they are," he explained. "We Americans need to understand that while there are differences and differences are good, we are better as a nation when we fully engage and understand what all heritages bring to the nation. Diversity means we understand what everybody can bring to the organization.

"I'm proud to say I was born in Cuba and earned the right to be an American citizen," he continued. "I'm proud of my service to this country."