Friday, November 02, 2012

Westover C-5 and crew participate in round-the-clock relief ops

by Lt. Col. James Bishop
439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

11/2/2012 - WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- In response to President Obama's call for the government to "lean forward" to support East Coast relief efforts, a Westover C-5B flew to March Air Reserve Base, Calif. There they picked up 73 electrical workers and two utility trucks. Five hours later, they dropped them off at Stewart Air National Guard Base, N.Y.

Aircraft and crews from 12 bases across the nation were mobilized Nov. 1 to pick up 632 short tons of equipment supporting relief efforts, including 69 large utility vehicles, according to an Air Force news release. The relief workers and equipment will augment efforts in New York and New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Other Air Force Reserve Command units participating in the relief effort include the 445th Airlift Wing, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, sent a C-17 and crew. The 433rd AW, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, is providing a C-5B and crew. The 439th AW, Westover ARB, Mass., provided a C-5B.

Wings of Blue take first and second place at nationals

by Bekah Clark
12th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

11/2/2012 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The U.S. Air Force's Parachute Team, the Wings of Blue, placed first and second in the U.S. Parachuting Association Nationals Competition's 4-Way Formation Skydiving (Advanced Category) event this week.

The Air Force Paradigm team took first place, the Air Force Legacy team placed second.

The Wings of Blue accomplish more than 40 worldwide demonstrations and competitions annually to an estimated audience of 12 million. The Wings of Blue is operated by the 98th Flying Training Squadron at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo.

The squadron's 110 member team leads the Air Force's most prolific parachute program. Each year they execute 18,000 jumps and 3,500 UV-18B flight hours annually and allow more than 800 students per year the opportunity to earn their basic parachutist badge.

49th Materiel Maintenance Squadron helps with Hurricane Sandy relief

11/2/2012 - Staff Sgt. Robert Melton, 49th Materiel Maintenance Squadron water and fuels system maintenance, attaches a loading tag to palletized cargo at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Nov. 2, 2012. The 49th MMS was tasked with supporting the humanitarian relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. In response to the tasking, the 49th MMS worked for 15 straight hours preparing more than 58,000 pounds of cargo spread across eight pallets. The cargo consisted of two water pumps capable of pumping 400 gallons of water a minute, 12,000 feet of hose, and two containers of system support items. "The 49th Materiel Maintenance Group from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., shipped equipment today in support of Hurricane Sandy," said Col. Andrew Croft, 49th Wing Commander. "We are prepared to deploy anytime, anywhere to aid civilian efforts to recover from the devastating effects of a natural disaster - in this case, Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast. Our hearts go out to those who were affected by this horrendous storm." (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman DeAndre Curtiss)

Langley civil engineers join Hurricane Sandy recovery operations

by Staff Sgt. Krystie Martinez
Air Combat Command Public Affairs

11/2/2012 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va.  -- The 633rd Civil Engineer Squadron from Langley Air Force Base, Va., sent a team of eight members along with two water pumps and equipment for approximately 30-days to New York, Nov. 2, in support of Hurricane Sandy relief operations.

"In any emergency event were on call and always available 24/7," said Master Sgt. Charles VanPelt, 633rd Civil Engineer Operations Support superintendent.

In less than a 24-hr period, the Air Combat Command unit stood ready with personnel and equipment. The team of eight consists of two structural experts, an electrician, entomologist, heavy equipment operator and three water and fuel specialists. They transported the pumps to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., and met with the 331st Air Expeditionary Group to travel to New York and help with recovery operations as needed.

"We bring all our assets and our Airmen fully equipped and ready to go," VanPelt said. "With the training we have, we are able to integrate with any unit to ensure the mission is a success."

The preparation of equipment and personnel is fundamental to making a successful journey to New York, or anywhere the team may be needed.

"It's very important that we can supply any location in order to fly, fight and win no matter what the mission," VanPelt said. "We make sure our team is fully functional and able. Whether it is a natural disaster such as this or our normal Air Force mission."

DOD Gets Energy Department Fuel to Aid Superstorm Relief

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2012 – As part of the governmentwide response and recovery effort for Hurricane Sandy, President Barack Obama declared that the superstorm has created a severe energy supply interruption and directed the U.S. Department of Energy to loan the Department of Defense ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel from the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve, according to a presidential memorandum and a DOE news release issued today.

“Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast on October 29, causing severe damage to the petroleum refining and distribution sector -- including pipelines, refineries, bulk terminals, and ports. Product deliveries already lost, as well as demand increases as retail systems are restored, require that replacement volumes be made available immediately,” Obama stated in a presidential memorandum issued today.

“The transfer of ULSD to the Department of Defense and the use and distribution of that fuel has the potential to provide immediate relief to the affected region,” Obama continued. “Based on the advice of the Secretary of Energy and on other information on the impact of Hurricane Sandy on supply and distribution channels, I find that a severe energy supply interruption exists and direct the Secretary of Energy to transfer ULSD from the Reserve to the Department of Defense for use in emergency operations and support to the region affected by Hurricane Sandy.”

Obama added: “If the Secretary of Energy determines the circumstances leading to this memorandum no longer support continuation of the transfer, he is authorized to cancel that action in whole or in part.”

The Defense Logistics Agency will begin drawing down stocks from the heating oil reserve terminal in Groton, Conn., as early as tomorrow. The fuel will be distributed to state, local and federal responders in the New York/New Jersey area, the release said, and will be used to provide additional supplies to ensure continued response and recovery efforts. This includes fuel for emergency equipment and buildings, including electrical generators, water pumps, General Services Administration buildings, trucks and other vehicles.

“Today’s announcement is part of the broader federal effort to respond to those impacted by Hurricane Sandy,” Energy Department Secretary Dr. Steven Chu stated in today’s DOE news release.
“This loan from the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve will help ensure state, local and federal responders in the impacted area have access to the diesel fuel they need to continue response and recovery efforts,” Chu added.
DLA estimates that it will initially draw down two million gallons of fuel from the reserve, but the Energy Department stands ready to make available additional fuel as needed, according to the DOE release. The Defense Department expects to replenish the fuel to the reserve within 30 days.
The Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve was created in July 2000 as a component of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to respond to emergencies and supply disruptions in the home heating oil market, the DOE news release said. The reserve holds 42 million gallons of ultra-low sulfur diesel, located at terminals in Groton, and Revere, Mass.
This is the first time fuel has been released from the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve, according to the DOE release.

Sailors, Marines Join USS Wasp for Sandy Relief

By Marine Corps Cpl. Michael Lockett
26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

NEW YORK, Nov. 2, 2012 – Marines and sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., flew aboard the USS Wasp Nov. 1 to prepare to provide assistance to New Jersey, New York and Connecticut in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

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Marines and sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed aboard USS Wasp, Nov. 1, 2012, currently afloat off the coast of New York City, to assist in disaster relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The 26th MEU can provide generators, fuel, clean water and helicopter lift capabilities to aid in disaster relief efforts. The 26th MEU is currently in pre-deployment training, preparing for their departure in 2013. As an expeditionary crisis response force operating from the sea, the MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael S. Lockett

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Within less than a day of receiving the order from Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Raymond C. Fox, the commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force, Marines and sailors boarded aircraft and sortied from bases in North Carolina to meet the amphibious assault ship as it sailed off the coast of New York City, preparing to provide medical, logistical, engineering, and heavy airlift support to the storm-damaged areas if tasked by the secretary of defense.
“What’s important here is that the American public sees
that their military can provide support to American cities, to American citizens, in a time of need,” said Marine Corps Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, 26th MEU commanding officer.

The MEU is a Marine Corps crisis-response force that’s designed to remain afloat for months at a time
The 26th MEU is uniquely suited to the task. Operating from a Navy vessel, the unit’s air assets have an agility that ensures aid can be delivered anywhere within hundreds of miles.

“We have the capability to fly, and we can support New Jersey. We can support New York City. We can support Connecticut -- simultaneously,” St. Clair said. “That’s what the MEU brings -- the flexibility and the inherent capabilities that come with it.”

The 26th MEU equipment embarked aboard the Wasp were chosen to give the unit many tools to bring to its assistance efforts in the area. Marine Medium Tilt-rotor Squadron 266 Reinforced, assisted by aircraft from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 366 and Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467, has UH-1N Huey and the CH-53E Super Stallion heavy lift helicopters capable of moving large numbers of passengers, supplies, or equipment.

“This is another great example of the flexibility and responsiveness of the Navy-Marine Corps team,” St. Clair said. “Specifically, our [helicopters provide the] ability to conduct these operations from the sea. We’re able to do something other services cannot do. We don’t have to have a large footprint on the shore. We can conduct all of our command and control from the sea.”

The Wasp, purpose-built to support the operations of a Marine expeditionary unit, is the perfect staging platform for this kind of operation.

“The city of New York -- the states -- don’t have to find space to billet Marines. They don’t have to find space for our aircraft. Because we can recover back to the USS Wasp, and we can do that every day,” St. Clair said.

“We can assist with the ability to move supplies with our aviation assets. We can do a site survey to determine how bad an area is. We can help move and distribute supplies; water, food, blankets -- pieces of equipment,” St. Clair said. “If it can fit in a CH-53E, we can move it. We can get supplies and people to areas that are affected, where the only means to get there may be aviation assets.”

Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 26, specializing in construction and debris removal, water purification and transport, electrical and generator work, medical support and heavy machinery operation, give the commanding officer many options.

“The MEU has all these capabilities inherent to the MAGTF -- the Marine Air-Ground Task Force. We’re able to respond quickly. We’re able to self-deploy. And the flexibility we have by being embarked on the USS Wasp allows for an afloat staging area,” St. Clair said.

“Something like this pulls America together. There’s support coming here from all over the country,” he said, noting the MEU is just one part of a larger plan, with other agencies and organizations coming together to provide assistance to the storm-stricken Northeast.

“This is an example of what a true crisis response force is,” St. Clair said. “It’s the MEU and the amphibious ready group. We moved to the affected area quickly, with a robust capability, and we’re posturing to support.”

U.S. Air Force Band of the West ensemble to Perform for Veterans & Airmen

by AFGSC Public Affairs

11/2/2012 - BARKSDALE AFB, La. -- The United States Air Force Band of the West's ensemble, Warhawk, will perform for veterans at the Northwest Louisiana War Veteran's Home Nov. 6.

More than 65 residents will attend the performance, according to Ms. Frankie Canty, activities director for the home, located in Bossier City, La.

"This performance will add quality of life for our veterans and reassure them someone cares about their well-being," Canty said.

"It is important to remember our veterans and their sacrifices - they have given us the freedom we enjoy today," she said.

The band is looking forward to visiting the veterans, said Master Sgt. Steve Wilson, non-commissioned officer in charge of the ensemble Warhawk.

"It is an honor and a privilege to perform for those who have served and gone before us," he said. "We're grateful for the legacy of excellence they have left for us."

The band, based out of Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, will also perform during Air Force Global Strike Command's competition score posting event here Nov. 7.

"It is not only our job to tell the Air Force story, it's our privilege," said Wilson.

"We are so very blessed to do what we do best, which is to play music, in service to our country," he added.

The Band of the West travels more than 125,000 miles and provides over 300 performances to military and civilian audiences throughout Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Louisiana annually.

For more information on the U.S. Air Force Band of the West please visit this website:

Westover C-5 and crew participate in round-the-clock relief ops

by Lt. Col. James Bishop
439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

11/2/2012 - WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- In response to President Obama's call for the government to "lean forward" to support East Coast relief efforts, a Westover C-5B flew to March Air Reserve Base, Calif. There they picked up 73 electrical workers and two utility trucks. Five hours later, they dropped them off at Stewart Air National Guard Base, N.Y.

Aircraft and crews from 12 bases across the nation were mobilized Nov. 1 to pick up 632 short tons of equipment supporting relief efforts, including 69 large utility vehicles, according to an Air Force news release. The relief workers and equipment will augment efforts in New York and New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Other Air Force Reserve Command units participating in the relief effort include the 445th Airlift Wing, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, sent a C-17 and crew. The 433rd AW, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, is providing a C-5B and crew. The 439th AW, Westover ARB, Mass., provided a C-5B.

Military Airlifts, Aid Flow to New York, New Jersey

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2012 – Another airlift, this time from Phoenix, will bring more power restoration trucks and equipment to New York and New Jersey, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told Pentagon reporters today.

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Air Force crews offload Southern California Edison power repair equipment from a C-5 Galaxy on Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, NY, Nov. 1, 2012. The Defense Department initiated the airlift operation to aid recovery efforts in Hurricane Sandy's aftermath. U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
As of this morning, 12 C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster 3 aircraft have arrived at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, NY, to deliver power restoration trucks, equipment and passengers requested by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Little said. Southern California Edison sent the trucks and equipment out of March Air Reserve Base, Calif., yesterday.
There is another airlift mission set to bring similar equipment from Phoenix to New York beginning tonight, Little said.

Nearly 7,400 National Guard soldiers and airmen in nine eastern states are performing communications, engineering, evacuation, medical, security, search and rescue, sheltering, debris removal and transportation missions in the storm-stricken zone, officials said, while thousands of service members outside the region are working to funnel aid and capabilities to the stricken region.

New York and New Jersey Guardsmen are still working to rescue and transport people affected by Sandy. Yesterday, New York Guardsmen evacuated residents from a structurally unsound facility in Brooklyn, and New Jersey Guardsmen rescued more than 2,000 people and 200 pets from flooded areas.

The USS Wasp, USS San Antonio and USS Carter Hall are anchored off the coast of New York, standing by if more help is needed. Sailors and Marines aboard the ships stand ready to support FEMA and the states if called upon, Little said. He noted the sailors and Marines could help with search and rescue, material delivery and others missions if called upon.

“This was a decision we made inside the department: to station ships and Marines off the coast of New York in the event they needed to be called upon,” Little said. “We all recognize this is a major disaster, and this is a prudent thing, to do what we can to support with relief efforts.”

Little commended the Defense Logistics Agency for its hurricane response efforts. The agency has delivered 1.5 million meals to FEMA facilities in West Virginia. West Virginia has been hit by heavy snow from Hurricane Sandy. Flooding, power outages and impassable roads are some of the emergency conditions the state faces.

DLA is also set to provide 1 million meals to New York City by Nov. 5, the press secretary said.
And, DLA is issuing fuel with 60 fuel trucks that arrived at incident support bases in Massachusetts and New Jersey, delivering approximately 200,000 gallons of fuel.

“We expect the capacity to deliver 200,000 gallons per day for 10 days,” Little said.

DOD has not put any kind of cost estimate out on its support to the humanitarian efforts in response to the superstorm.

“We know it costs money to move personnel and ships, but our top priority -- irrespective of costs -- is saving lives and assisting in whatever we can to restore infrastructure and to perform other missions,” the press secretary said.

“We have taken significant effort over the past several years inside the department to prepare ourselves for more robust capabilities and authorities to respond to events such as Hurricane Sandy,” Little said. “We believe there is a tough road ahead for many people in the Northeast, but given the terrible hand we were dealt by Mother Nature we believe we are doing our part to mount an effective response.”

JBER Airmen hone skills in Polar Force 12-7

by Staff Sgt. Zachary Wolf
JBER Public Affairs

11/2/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaksa -- Sirens blared and a voice called over the public address system. In response, Airmen donned gas masks and protective gear. Some Airmen searched around their building for unexploded ordinance, while others checked paper to see if the simulated attack was a chemical one.

Although this scenario was an exercise that happened last week on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, it provided effective training to keep JBER ready to handle such events and prepare for the 2014 Operational Readiness Inspection.

"Our Polar Force 12-7 was designed in response to a simulated war-time scenario to test our ability to... generate aircraft, people and equipment in response to a regional crisis," said Air Force Col. Brian Duffy, 673d Air Base Wing commander.

This exercise embodied the Total Force concept as it combined efforts and personnel from the 673d ABW, 3rd Wing, 176th Wing, and 477th Fighter Group and lasted from Oct. 19 to 26. The purpose was to validate the units' ability to integrate, mobilize and prepare assigned personnel, aircraft and equipment for their wartime mission and to employ forces and weapons systems to perform tasked missions.

Duffy explained the exercise development.

"We used a simulated intelligence scenario to develop a picture of what this regional crisis must look like and then in response to a simulated warning order, simulated prepare to deploy order, and a simulated deployment order," Duffy said. "The wings combined to generate people, equipment and aircraft in response to that simulated regional crisis."

There were two phases to the exercise. The first phase was designed to test JBER's ability to deploy and redeploy people as well as mobilize equipment.

During the second part of the exercise, JBER focused on analyzing the systems that project combat power and practiced responses to various emergency scenarios.

"As well as we've done during this exercise, we've taken a lot of notes on areas in which we can improve and want to use valuable experience to focus our efforts for our combined readiness inspection in 2014," stated an email from the commanders of the 673d Air Base Wing, the 3rd Wing, the 176th Wing, and the 477th Fighter Group.

The three colonels from the represented wings wanted to thank everyone for a job well done.

"Thanks again for all your hard work and dedicated efforts to make our Polar Force 12-7 exercise so successful," Duffy said. "Whether you were part of the team that was out helping generate aircraft, people, and equipment in response to a simulated wartime tasking, or whether you were part of our exercise augmentation team or one of our moulage victims, ensuring our sense of realism was the best we could provide for our participants. Whether you were working behind the scenes at one of our child development centers ensuring that exercise participants could focus on the task at hand or manning our gates to ensure installation operations continued on as normally as possible. You have our collective thanks."

"To the total-force Arctic Warrior team, thanks. You have proven this week as a team you can generate, deploy, and employ combat readiness and air power," said Air Force Col. Dirk Smith, 3rd Wing commander. "Awesome job."

"To the Midnight Sun Guardian experts, outstanding job putting your best foot forward as a total force enterprise and showing everyone what you are capable of doing," said Air Force Col. Donald Wenke, 176th Wing commander. "We are ready to step up to the next set of operations."

Taking birds off the map

by Airman 1st Class Kenna Jackson
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/2/2012 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- For almost one year now, Airmen 1st Class Marnell Dillingham and Jarrett Dowey have been cruising around the flightline three times a day, armed with a pail of bird scare ammunition and two shotguns. While out there, their role is to scare birds that fly too close to the flightline.

The two 35th Operations Support Squadron Airmen help reduce bird strikes on the flightline. According to Birdstrike Committee USA, these environmental hazards have been the cause of hundreds of deaths and millions of dollars in aircraft damages a year.

"Preventing bird strikes is one of the most important parts of our job," said Dillingham. "If a bird strike happens, it could put our pilots, crew members and passengers in a very dangerous situation. Birds have been known to cause aircraft crashes."

The Federal Aviation Administration receives annual reports recording thousands of wildlife related strikes. Strikes involving military aircraft cause approximately $75 million in damage a year.

In an effort to combat this environmental hazard, the Department of Defense pushes to improve aviation safety programs. One of these programs, the Bird and Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard prevention program, requires constant interaction among aviation safety members, air operation shops, pilots and aircrews.

"To ensure the safety of everyone, we coordinate constantly with the aircraft safety office, the supervisor of flying operations and the airfield control tower," said Dillingham.

There are two types of control measures, active control and passive control, said Dowey.

Active control is when pyrotechnic, bioacoustics and depredation methods are used to provide short-term relief. Pyrotechnics use BASH cannons, which produce loud, booming sounds to scare off birds in the flightline area. Bioacoustics, or the broadcast of local bird distress signals, is another way to provide immediate, although short-term, relief. Depredation allows Airmen to scare off birds that roost on the taxi-ways and cannons by shooting at them with shotguns loaded with bird scare cartridges.

Passive control measures involve environmental factors, such as maintaining grass height, smoothing out hills and eliminating forestry. Trees, shrubs and other plants can draw in wildlife for food, shelter and roosting sites for birds, so it's important to eliminate them from aircraft flying area. By smoothing out hills, it maintains the draining of streams in wet areas.

"After it rains and if there are hills, small ponds can form," said Dowey. "Not only does drinking water attract wildlife, but birds find these spots enjoyable for their morning baths."

Although bird strikes cause death and aircraft destruction, not all strikes end with the same results. Most of the time, pilots hear a thump and later aircraft management finds a dead bird on the flightline, said Dillingham.

"When we find these carcasses, we send it to safety for further study," said Dowey.

To identify birds involved in strike events, the remains are collected and analyzed. Even if the remains are tissue and feather fragments, they are sent to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian Feather Identification Lab is equipped to perform DNA analysis on blood samples and microscopic feather analysis. By identifying the bird species involved in the strike, researchers and airfield management can better understand why certain birds are attracted to a particular area. This increases the elimination of bird strikes.

Not only is the safety and well-being of servicemembers a high priority for airfield management, but the continuation of the 35th Fighter Wing' s mission is also a vital concern.

"For every aircraft not in the air, that's a pilot not training or completing the wing mission," said Dowey.

But not just anyone can drive up to a bird on the flightline and fire off a shotgun. Each airfield management operation coordinator is trained and certified to scare off birds. To stay certified, they have to re-take a test every year.

"At the Draughon range, we did our practical training with a shotgun," said Dillingham.
"The next part is a verbal test administered by our certifier to see if we know all the rules and regulations for shooting birds on the flightline."

The Airmen take care in identifying endangered birds and in what direction to shoot to prevent migration near jets, said Dowey.

Although Dillingham and Dowey respect the importance of their job, they can't help but acknowledge the enjoyment the job provides them.

"Normally we're processing flight plans for pilots, administering inspections and ensuring flightline condition perfection," said Dillingham. "Heading out three times a day to shoot at birds is the highlight of our day."

Humanitarian assistance, under the USTRANSCOM umbrella

from U.S. Transportation Command Public Affairs

11/2/2012 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Members of the U.S military once again sprang into action over the past week, as Hurricane Sandy headed for, then devastated, the East Coast.

While addressing a group of reporters and concerned citizens in Brigantine, N.J., Oct. 31, President Obama said, "And one of the things that we've been able to do -- just to give you a sense of how this is an all-hands-deck approach -- we're able to get C-17s and C-130s, military transport planes, potentially, to move assets, personnel to speed up the process of getting power up and running as soon as possible."

These military assets, as well as civilian support, are now in play and headed for areas where they are desperately needed. But where does it all come from? Who puts it all together and pulls the trigger?

U.S. Transportation Command and its components provide the coordination and execution of much of that support at the direction of the lead federal organization.

"Our job is to make sure things get to the affected area quickly once requested by U.S. Northern Command," said Army Maj. Charles Ward, NORTHCOM joint mobility ops officer with USTRANSCOM. "The value TRANSCOM brings is that we maximize the pace of the response to alleviate suffering and help those affected get back to a normal state of life as soon as possible. At the same time, we are cognizant of limited assets, and we provide the right balance of effectiveness and efficiency."

According to Ward, affected states go to the Federal Emergency Management Agency once they've exhausted their resources, and FEMA approaches NORTHCOM with their expectations for Department of Defense assistance. NORTHCOM then gives USTRANSCOM requests and sets priorities for DoD and civilian personnel and equipment movements.

One of the largest support efforts underway is the Defense Department's "significant airlift event" to quickly get power restoration equipment to New York, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said yesterday.

"Aircraft and crews from 12 active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve bases across the nation are rotating through March Air Reserve Base in Southern California, where they will pick up 10 civilian power experts, 637 short tons of supplies and equipment to support relief efforts on the East Coast," Little said.

According to Ward, Air Mobility Command, USTRANSCOM's airlift component, has flown in excess of two dozen sorties in support of relief efforts, including the personnel and equipment cited by Little as well as Department of Health and Human Services personnel.

Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, USTRANSCOM's subordinate command, is supporting the effort with a Joint Public Affairs Support Element. Also, JECC's Joint Communications Support Element is on a "prepared to deploy order" should NORTHCOM request its assistance.

Members of the "west division," USTRANSCOM operations and plans cell responsible for the affected area, began tracking the storm just over a week ago, coincidentally, while the organizations were working together on an exercise. TRANSCOM's role at that point was to reach out to its directorates and to notify subordinates to posture for support. Now TRANSCOM's role is to direct mission assignments as requested.

"All USTRANSCOM directorates have been involved in some capacity with assisting in the recovery as part of our joint planning team," said Ward. "And our components and commercial partners have been right next to us, standing ready to go based on NORTHCOM's needs."

The command also maintains close contact with Defense Logistics Agency, gleaning information about the amount of fuel its supplying as well as heavy vehicles and other supplies.

"We all feel for those up there who are affected," said Ward. "The support TRANSCOM can provide gives us a sense of accomplishment and participation to help when needed."

American Forces Press Service contributed information to this report.

Reserve units ramp up to provide storm relief

by Linda Welz
452nd Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

11/1/2012 - MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, Calif. -- Airmen and transport aircraft from across the nation converged here Nov. 1 to begin moving relief supplies and equipment to the beleaguered areas of New York and New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Crews from 12 active-duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command bases descended upon March ARB to pick up passengers, equipment and supplies to deliver to Stewart Air National Guard Base, N.Y.

The passengers and 632 short tons of cargo, including 69 vehicles belonging to the Southern California Edison utility company, will assist in restoring power and providing humanitarian assistance to the stricken region.

The 452nd Air Mobility Wing, March ARB, is providing three C-17 Globemaster IIIs and dozens of aircrews for the around-the-clock operations. The wing is also providing the ground support - aerial porters and airlift controllers - to process and load cargo.

"I am extremely proud of our aerial porters, logistics planners, aircrews, and airlift controllers," said Col. Samuel Mahaney, 452nd AMW commander. "Our Citizen Airmen, members of the Air Force Reserve, have responded gallantly to this national crisis. They are working at the highest operations tempo to ensure the delivery of this essential equipment in the fastest possible time."

Other Air Force Reserve Command units participating in the relief effort include:

The 445th Airlift Wing, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, sent a C-17 and crew. The 433rd AW, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, is providing a C-5B and crew. The 439th AW, Westover ARB, Mass., provided a C-5B.

In addition, Westover has become the staging point for Federal Emergency Management Agency relief efforts. Just before Hurricane Sandy swept over the Eastern Seaboard, 77 tractor-trailers arrived at the Reserve base loaded with meals, cots, bottled water, generators, tarps and other emergency supplies.

This is the third time the base has been used as a staging point for FEMA Region I, which encompasses all of New England, said Bob Perreault, chief of emergency management for Westover's 439th AW.

Westover was chosen as the staging site because of its size, location and support network.

"This event is unique because of the number of trailers and the FEMA presence, but this is also another facet of what we do best - stage and move massive amounts of cargo anywhere in the world," said Lt. Col. James Bishop, chief of public affairs at Westover.

"This operation demonstrates the strength of our air mobility system," said Col. James Finney, 452nd AMW vice commander. "By leveraging our Reserve component, in partnership with our active-duty airmen, we are able to provide rapid response to national requirements. This is total force global mobility at its finest."

(Editor's note: Several AF Reserve Public Affairs offices contriuted to this story)

Face of Defense: Marine Gunner Relishes Military Service

By Marine Corps Master Sgt. Brenda Varnadore
Regional Command Southwest

NOW ZAD, Nov. 2, 2012 – After three years at Oklahoma State University, Michael Sheets took a long, hard look in the mirror and decided he wanted to be a Marine.

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Marine Corps Cpl. Michael Sheets is a machine-gun leader for 4th platoon, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, in Now Zad, Afghanistan. The Enid, Okla., native enlisted in the Marine Corps after three years of study at Oklahoma State University. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Master Sgt. Brenda Varnadore

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Today, four years into his six-year enlistment contract with the Marine Corps, Sheets holds a corporal’s rank and is a machine-gun leader here with 4th platoon, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines.
Sheets said he has no regrets.

“I got to the point where I had to decide what I wanted to do,” said Sheets, who hails from Enid, Okla. “I wanted to be a Marine, so I signed a six-year contract to be infantry. I thought that was the only way to be a Marine.”

He said his parents, Tom and Cynda Sheets, were initially surprised, but stood by their son.

“They are very supportive and proud,” Sheets said. “They send care packages all the time to show their support.”

Sheets joined 2nd Bn., 7th Marines, during March 2009 after completing recruit and infantry training. He has deployed twice with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, based out of Okinawa, Japan. During his second deployment with the MEU, he went to Australia. His battalion set up the Marine Corps’ new unit deployment program in Australia.

Now Sheets is in Afghanistan where he said he has wanted to be since he enlisted. He said from what he has heard and seen, the Marines have made progress in Now Zad.

“We have definitely helped a great number of people here,” Sheets said. “You can tell they feel safer with us and are starting to feel safer with the Afghan forces.”

Because of the development of capability and capacity within the Afghan National Security Forces, the Marines of Fox Company have more time on their hands. Sheets said he works on growing as a Marine and a leader, and credits his machine-gun team.

“They keep me on my toes,” Sheets said. “They teach me something new constantly, and it makes me a better Marine.”

Sheets said he also takes every opportunity he has to catch up on sports.

“I watch any [Oklahoma State] sport and the Cowboys,” he said. “I follow the Internet and game tracker whenever I can.”

Sheets said he isn’t sure whether he is going to make the military a career, but he knows that his ultimate goal is to serve in federal law enforcement. Until then, he said he wants to make the most of being a Marine.

Airmen 'lean forward' to support East Coast relief efforts

11/1/2012 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- In the wake of President Obama's call for the federal government to "lean forward" in response to the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy, Airmen from across the country are answering the call.

Aircraft and crews from 12 active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve bases across the nation are mobilized to arrive at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., where they are slated to pick up approximately 10 passengers and 632 short tons of equipment and supplies supporting relief efforts on the East Coast.

The passengers and cargo, including 69 vehicles belonging to the Southern California Edison utility company, are slated to arrive at Stewart Air National Guard Base, Newburgh, N.Y., at around 2:30 p.m., Nov. 1, after which they will move out to support efforts to restore power and provide humanitarian assistance to the stricken region. Media reports have stated that more than 2 million people still remain without power in the aftermath of the superstorm.

The movement is expected to require the use of five C-5s and approximately 12 C-17s. A C-5B from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., and C-17 from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., are among the first aircraft scheduled to depart March Thursday morning.

The rapid response was made possible through the combined efforts of planners at U.S. Transportation Command, Air Mobility Command's 18th Air Force and the 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center) here operating as part of the U.S. Northern Command-led effort supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency's storm response efforts. Days before the storm made landfall, these same planners had already begun preparations to move personnel and aircraft out of harm's way - preserving their readiness to respond after the storm had passed.

Since then, America's total force mobility team has turned its attention to support of recovery efforts. To that end, and in response to a USNORTHCOM tasking, Airmen quickly put together the ambitious plan to rapidly move personnel and supplies to stabilize and improve conditions in the region.

Airmen offer unique capabilities to the federal effort, including airlift, air refueling and aeromedical evacuation support. Those capabilities delivered hope to those in need overseas after the 2010 Haiti earthquake and last year's earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan as well as here at home in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike and Gustav.

62nd AW Airmen deploy in response to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts

by Staff Sgt. Frances Kriss
62nd Airlift Wing

11/1/2012 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- A C-17 Globemaster III departed early morning Nov. 1 in support of Hurricane Sandy response operations.

Along with aircraft and crews from 11 active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve bases across the nation, McChord Field Airmen are flying to March Air Reserve Base, Calif., to pick-up 10 passengers and 632 short tons of equipment and supplies supporting relief efforts on the East Coast.

"McChord Airmen are ready to answer our nation's call with the most capable combat airlift aircraft," said Col. Jeffrey Philippart, 62nd Airlift Wing vice commander. "Our C-17s and Airmen have the ability to deliver rapid global mobility, which enables us to respond quickly to disasters and provide aide in the wake of humanitarian crises. We're poised to respond."

The passengers and cargo, including 69 vehicles belonging to the Southern California Edison utility company, are slated to arrive at Stewart Air National Guard Base, Newburgh, N.Y. at around 2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, after which they will move out to support efforts to restore power and provide humanitarian assistance to the stricken region.

Historically, McChord Field Airmen have been on the lead of many humanitarian efforts. Most recently, a McChord C-17 was the first heavy aircraft to provide aid in Operation Tomodachi, the Japanese tsunami relief efforts, by being airborne within 19 hours of notification. In addition, the 62nd AW propelled Operation Pacific Passage, repatriating 2,600 family members stationed at military bases throughout Japan to safe-haven locations in the U.S.

AF officials delay MilPDS upgrade

By Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – Air Force officials are delaying the upgrade of the Military Personnel Data System that was originally scheduled for December.
Delaying the upgrade is necessary to ensure the new system is thoroughly tested by the Air Force Personnel Center and other Department of Defense and Air Force agencies that use personnel information from MilPDS.
“Despite the best efforts of many, we must delay the upgrade,” said Robert Corsi, Air Force assistant deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. “It’s critical we ensure our Airmen have the best possible personnel data system, and to do that we need to complete testing on the new system before we upgrade MilPDS.”
The delay will have minimal impact on total force Airmen as personnel processes have been established to allow Airmen to continue to submit early retirement and separation applications until February 1, 2013. The personnel processes and programs identified below will revert back to the requirements and timelines outlined in their respective Air Force instructions:
  • Scheduling oral proficiency interviews, Defense Language Proficiency Tests for foreign language proficiency bonuses
  • Applying for reenlistments and enlistment extensions
  • Completing base of preference applications
  • Completing in-place base of preference applications
  • Applying for voluntary retraining
  • Updating Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance policies
MilPDS is the primary records database for personnel data and actions that occur throughout every total force Airman’s career. MilPDS is also used to initiate Airman pay actions, maintain Air Force accountability and strength data and support a host of interactions with other Air Force processes and systems that rely on personnel data.
Reserve and Guard members will receive specific instructions from the Air Force Reserve Command and Air Reserve Personnel Center concerning how the delay will impact their personnel programs. More information is available on the ARPC public website at
For more information about personnel services and programs, visit the myPers website at