Military News

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Pentagon Officials Detail Continuing Storm Response Support

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2012 – Defense Department support in the wake of Superstorm Sandy continues, Pentagon officials reported today.

U.S. Transportation Command has delivered 208 power restoration vehicles and 354 technical personnel on 56 missions from California, Arizona, and Washington to Stewart Air National Guard Base, N.Y., Joint Base Dix-McGuire-Lakehurst, N.J., and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. An additional three flights were scheduled today from California and Nevada to JFK.

The 401st, 410th, and 431st quartermaster teams -- from Lock Haven, Pa., Jacksonville, Fla., and Kinston, N.C., respectively -- have reported to Dix-McGuire-Lakehurst for allocation to the affected areas. The 401st Quartermaster Team is on assignment in Long Beach, N.Y.

The 172nd Preventive Health Team from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; the 227th Preventive Health Team from Fort Bragg, N.C.; and the 43rd Veterinary Team from Fort Hood, Texas, are at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and are prepared to deploy.

The Defense Logistics Agency has delivered more than 3 million meals to Federal Emergency Management Agency facilities in West Virginia, New York and New Jersey. Another 5 million meals are in production. DLA delivered 500,000 meals to McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and 500,000 meals to Floyd Bennett Field, N.Y.

Meanwhile, DLA delivered 1,000 cots, 1,000 blankets and 1 million packaged meals to Fort Hamilton, N.Y., for the National Guard and 3,000 cots to Dix-McGuire-Lakehurst for National Guard personnel in the area, along with 140,000 blankets and 200 hypothermia kits.

DLA is executing the purchase of up to 12 million gallons of gasoline and 12 million gallons of diesel fuel, and 260 fuel trucks are on contract to support fuel distribution. More than 500,000 gallons have been delivered to FEMA distribution sites so far, officials said.

Fuel was provided to 27 of 79 state-identified commercial stations in New York and New Jersey. In both states, FEMA continues to assign DLA to deliver gas at the governors' requests.
Generators had arrived or were in transit today to Dix-McGuire-Lakehurst, and DLA has ordered seven more to be delivered tomorrow.

DLA has contracts in place to support debris removal, with 3,000-ton barges for garbage hauling estimated to arrive tomorrow or Nov. 8. DLA has also awarded two contracts for 330 roll-off dumpsters and 34 trucks for overland trash hauling.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has more than 600 personnel supporting response operations, with a focus on supporting dewatering and power missions in New York and New Jersey. The Corps of Engineers deployed technical assistance teams and senior leadership oversight, and are deploying and identifying pump and emergency generator requirements consistent with FEMA mission assignments.

In addition, the Corps of Engineers is supporting emergency temporary power missions in New York and New Jersey with more than 335 generators staged at forward locations. As of today, 80 emergency generators had been installed, officials said.

Dewatering operations continue at 14 sites, including the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, the Montague Tunnel, Passaic Valley Waste Water Treatment Plant and the Jersey City PATH Train Tunnel. Those operations are complete at the Queens Midtown Tunnel, World Trade Center site, the South Ferry Station, the 53rd Street Tunnel, Battery Underpass, Manhattan Steam Plant Tunnel, and the 14th Street Tunnel.

The Corps of Engineers also continues to support emergency power restoration efforts at the Kinder Morgan Terminal.

National Guard assistance also continues. Today, more than 7,400 National Guard personnel are assisting in response and recovery efforts across region affected by Sandy.

Eight states are supporting the response efforts through Emergency Management Agreement Compacts: Delaware (106 personnel), Alabama (22), California (114), Georgia (20), Massachusetts (120), Maine (5), North Carolina (25), and Ohio (119). Two four-person power generation teams from the West Virginia National Guard are working with the Army Corps of Engineers to assist power generation missions.

Some 3,364 New York National Guard personnel are on state active duty, supporting relief efforts, supporting power restoration, traffic control, debris removal, wellness checks, and food and water distribution. The New York Guard is conducting 20 point-of-distribution missions, with 258,000 meals, 431,984 bottles of water and 21,000 blankets distributed as of yesterday.

With 2,092 personnel on state active duty, New Jersey National Guard personnel are conducting debris clearance and removal; high-water vehicle operations; shelter support; food, water and fuel distribution;, power generation; and presence patrols. The New Jersey Guard also continues aerial support missions, including FEMA damage assessments.

Also, the New Jersey Guard has helped emergency responders with fuel distribution, with more than 93,229 gallons distributed since Nov. 2, and has distributed 6,618 blankets, 1,740 cots and 3,648 towels. They are assisting local and state law enforcement agencies with security support in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

The West Virginia National Guard, with 542 personnel on state active duty, are conducting community assessments, medical evacuation, snow and debris removal, and food, water, and generator distribution. Deployed aviation assets are supporting response and recovery efforts.

Foreign Military Students Learn Public Affairs Skills

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

FORT MEADE, Md., Nov. 6, 2012 – Fifteen foreign military students are hard at work writing communications plans for their countries as they learn the American approach to becoming military public affairs officers at the Defense Information School here.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Col. Philip Aguer Panyang of the South Sudanese army gets help from Grant Stolz, studio manager at the Defense Media Activity, as he prepares to participate in a television interview during the media training portion of the Defense Information School’s Public Affairs Course for International Students curriculum at Fort Meade, Md., Nov. 2, 2012. DOD photo by Marvin Lynchard
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
In the second class of the Public Affairs Course for International Students, military members from around the globe are learning the principles of how the U.S. military conducts public affairs programs ranging from media relations and conducting on-air interviews to writing news releases and giving public affairs advice to commanding officers. During the course, the students produce a 30-plus page communications plan to present to their commanders when they return home as they learn how to enhance the image of their military and how to release information in an accurate and timely manner.

"The course provides a commonality of instruction that’s in any international U.N. peacekeeping or humanitarian and disaster relief-driven operation in the future," military lead instructor, Navy Cmdr. John Schofield explained.

In addition to developing communications plans to take back to their countries, the students learn basic public affairs skills so they can hit the ground running with American PAOs when working side-by-side in relief operations and a multitude of other military missions, Schofield said.

"These trained [public affairs officers] essentially become force multipliers,” he said. “They go back to their home countries trained in what we think will make a successful PAO. What the Defense Department gains is having everyone on the same page. [For] the future, I believe we all understand … operations are not going to just be American, and a lot of what we do now is multinational. With PAOs on the same page, that's good for the overall [mission]."

Col. Philip Aguer Panyang of the South Sudanese army said he's gleaned vital basic professional communications skills in his first public affairs course.

"The people must know what's happening, and they have that democratic right to timely, accurate information," he said. His role is challenging, he added, because the South Sudanese have feared the media since the country’s break from North Sudan, and threats come from surrounding countries. "It's better to talk [about issues] to allay their fears," Panyang said he’s learned from the course.

He said information for South Sudan’s citizens centers on security from external forces, border issues and other infiltrators.

“We must deal with protection of the people, and sovereignty from aggressions,” he said.

Panyang said an important lesson he’s learned at DINFOS is to distance the military from oppression and propaganda. The best practices in communications are vital, he said, during the transformation of his military into a modern, conventional army, and “to interact with other countries that have the same level of understanding.”

With neither a newspaper nor social media in his army, Panyang said, he hopes to establish both and attract the professionals to get these media under way.

Unlike South Sudan, Ukraine is no stranger to social media, said 1st Lt. Iryna Yastremska, a Ukranian army journalist who scored the highest in a test in her country’s military to earn a seat in the DINFOS course.
“It is important for my country to know how to be a public affairs officer,” she said. “The course improved my English, and now I can use it in international missions.” Scofield said all the students must be able to speak English to attend the class.

Yastremska has learned a lot from her classmates, she said, from their varied experiences in communications. She calls the DINFOS class a “unique” atmosphere. “I never thought I’d have this opportunity,” she added.
When she returns to Ukraine, she said, she wants to develop a communications plan for peacekeeping initiatives. “A lot of things I didn’t know how to do before,” she said, “but I can now use my [skills] in my career.”

Social media, an area that receives a lot of emphasis in the course, is used for entertainment more than information in Ukraine, Yastremska said, adding that the use of the medium is still gaining ground. Facebook exists in Ukraine, but another social medium is much more popular among those in the former Soviet countries.

Yastremska says she gained a lot of benefits from the course. “I learned to think widely, how to respond effectively, and I believe I can train others,” she said. “DINFOS gives you all you need to be successful.”
Lt. Col. Saleh Alhlalat is a military liaison in his home country of Jordan, and he’s learning to be a public affairs officer at the DINFOS course. “This is the first time we’ve had such a good opportunity, and I’m very proud,” the Jordanian army officer said. “The [instructors] give you very professional training. They teach you how to speak, write, act and deliver information. We learned how to introduce and solve problems and learn all the techniques of being a PAO. It’s been amazing -- just incredible.”

Alhlalat said he thought it was important to learn how to work with international media. “In the Middle East, the media is very important. That’s what we learned here,” he said, followed by a smile and an American cliché: “No pain, no gain.”

He said he appreciates the help he’s received from the Americans, and he plans to stay in touch with the staff at DINFOS for support as he progresses in his public affairs career.

Continuing to network and keeping an open dialogue between students and instructors is important, Schofield said.
"I tell students, ‘Your success as a PAO is dependent on dialogue and networking -- dialogue with staff, fellow PAOs, subject-matter experts and the media. It’s key to your being successful in a network of critical staff members and people from other countries,’” he said.

The international course helps the U.S. defense mission, too, said Schofield, whose public affairs career includes being stationed on a nuclear aircraft carrier and as a Pentagon spokesman. Like other instructors, he eventually will return to a public affairs officer position. Learning in the course benefits both sides, by giving the DINFOS instructors insight into the customs, traditions and cultures of other countries, he explained, while giving the U.S. instructors insights that will prove helpful when they’re working in future partnered operations.

“If I had the opportunity to do something with [U.S.] European Command that involved the Ukraine in a naval operation on the Black Sea, I now know what social media is like in the Ukraine and what people prefer in terms of dialogue and communication there,” he noted.

477th Fighter Group welcomes new commander

by Capt. Ashley Conner
477th Fighter Group Public Affairs


11/5/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Col. Tyler Otten became the 477th Fighter Group commander during a change of command ceremony here Nov. 2.

Otten was passed the reins of leadership from Col. Bryan Radliff who will go on to take command of the 419th FW at Hill AFB, Utah.

Under Radliff's command the group reached Full Operational Capability and passed the Compliance Unit Inspection, which was the first inspection since the group was activated in 2007.

"It is bitter sweet to leave this command but I know that under Col. Otten's leadership this group will go on to do amazing things," said Radliff.

Otten came to the 477th FG in January 2012 from Hill AFB, Utah where he served as the 466th FS commander. Prior to taking command Otten served as the 477th FG deputy commander.

"I look forward to the challenges I will face as commander but more importantly I look forward to serving with the great men and women in the 477th FG," said Otten.

During the ceremony Brig. Gen. William Binger, 10th Air Force commander lauded Radliff's accomplishments as commander and said "that without a doubt Col. Otten will build upon the accomplishment of Col. Radliff and take the group to the next level."

Otten is native of Marysville, Washington, received his commission from the United States Air Force Academy in 1988 with a degree in Human Factors Engineering. He graduated from Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training at Sheppard AFB, Texas in 1989. Otten began his career flying F-16's and transitioned to the F-22 in June 2012.

AFGSC kicks off third annual Global Strike Challenge

by Carla Pampe
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs


11/6/2012 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.  -- The third-annual Air Force Global Strike Command Technology and Innovation Symposium kicked off today at the Shreveport Convention Center in Shreveport, La.

The symposium is part of the culmination of Global Strike Challenge, an annual event where the top security forces, maintainers, and missile and bomber crews compete to be recognized as the "best of the best" in their fields. Competition began in July, and ran through the summer.

Teams from the Command's six wings, as well as the Air Force Reserves and Air Combat Command, arrived in the Shreveport-Bossier City area Monday for the symposium and official score posting and awards ceremony at Hoban Hall at Barksdale.
Lt. Gen. Jim Kowalski, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, opened the symposium by thanking those who made the event possible, "especially the participants who earned the right to be here ... to come out and represent the best of the best."

Kowalski reminded the Airmen of their important role in strategic deterrence and their mission to maintain safe, secure and effective nuclear weapons.

"Part of this mission is that history should not remember our names - that's one thing that's very different about our command," he said.

While other military units often make their mark during times of war or major military campaigns, the general said, the Airmen of AFGSC use strategic deterrence to help prevent another world war from taking place.

"Since 1945, there have been 67 years of peace between major world powers," he said, adding that the work Air Force Global Strike Command has done since its standup in 2009 will help ensure that peace continues.

Global Strike Challenge concludes Wednesday with a traditional score posting and trophy presentations at Hoban Hall on base.

Last year, the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., won the Fairchild Trophy for best bomb wing. The 91st Security Forces Group from Minot Air Force Base, N.D. won the Charlie Fire Trophy for best security forces while the 90th Missile Wing, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., took home the Blanchard Trophy for best ICBM wing. The 54th Helicopter Squadron at Minot AFB, N.D., took home the Bourland Trophy for Best Helicopter Squadron.

Special Report: Biosurveillance



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2012 - Biological, chemical, and nuclear terrorist attacks, extreme weather events, and naturally occurring emerging infectious diseases all pose national security threats unbounded by state, country and regional borders.

Visit the American Forces Press Service special report at http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2012/1012_biosurveillance/ to learn more about how the Defense Department uses global biosurveillance networks to identify and track such threats and to help defend the United States.

Hurlburt pays tribute to fallen ghostrider

by Senior Airman Joe W. McFadden
1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs


10/30/2012 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Hundreds of Air Commandos, families and close friends gathered during a memorial ceremony at the Commando Hangar at Hurlburt Field Oct. 25 to mourn the loss of a 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Airman.

Airman 1st Class Colby Graham Siegel, an aerospace propulsion apprentice with 1st SOAMXS, 20, passed away Oct. 21 during a boating mishap in the Santa Rosa Sound, Fla.

In front of an AC-130U Spooky Gunship Siegel and his fellow Airmen maintained, 1st SOAMXS leadership remarked on the life and legacy he left behind.

"We're lucky to have met and to have known Colby," said Lt. Col. Matt Gamblin, commander of 1st SOAMXS. "In his passing, we lost a brother-in-arms, a son, a friend and a husband, but we will continue to celebrate his life as he lived it - taking care of each other and enjoying each moment."

Siegel, a native of Winter Haven, Fla., became an Eagle Scout at 13 and served in Junior ROTC in high school before enlisting in the Air Force Aug. 2, 2011.

"Colby Siegel is an inspiration," Gamblin said. "He didn't meet strangers-- he made friends. He not only knew your name, he'd help you in some way. He was a role model for his fellow Airmen--all of us--just as he was for the younger kids in his neighborhood."

After completing technical school training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Siegel arrived at Hurlburt Field in January 2012, soon coming under the watch of Tech. Sgt. Brandi Cole, a flight chief of 1st SOAMXS.

"He had so much energy and so much dedication," Cole said. "He was one of those Airmen who kept us focused and kept us entertained at all times, and we will miss him a lot. I want all of you guys to remember this time and this moment to think about Siegel and remember his old fallback response: 'It'll be all right. We'll get through it.' Always remember: Siegel will always be a Ghostrider. He will never be forgotten."

Siegel's funeral service took place Oct. 29 in Dundee, Fla. He is survived by his wife, his mother and his father.

F-35 celebrates 500th sortie as program grows

by Maj. Karen Roganov
Eglin Air Force Base Public Affairs


11/6/2012 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- The Air Force's premier fighter, the F-35 Lightning II, surpassed its 500th sortie only 16 days after reaching the 400 mark and only 238 days from the beginning of the program.

Maj. Matthew Johnston of the 58th Fighter Squadron completed the 500th combined sortie for both the F-35A and F-35B at the 33rd Fighter Wing Nov. 2, marking a continued progress in sortie generation rates since the wing started flight operations March 6.

"On Friday during our F-35A operational utility evaluation we hit the 500th flight in 16 days from the prior 400th combined sortie flown on Oct. 16," said Col. Andrew Toth, commander for the 33rd Fighter Wing. "This is significant progress forward since it took 123 days to achieve the 100th combined sortie on July 12."

"The joint team is focused on safe and effective flying to stand up their unit's future operations and the increased amount of sorties and quicker turnaround time to maintain and turn jets is a simple byproduct of this."

According to the maintenance squadron commander, the number of Air Force maintainers continues to grow as the program progresses. "When we first started F-35A flying you could count the uniformed maintainers trained on the system on one hand," said Maj. Maurice Lee, commander, 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "Now we have more than 100 Air Force maintainers trained up.....I am very proud of their legacy aircraft expertise and newly-learned F-35 skills."

While the Air Force's A variant of the Lightning II was the jet flying the 500-sortie milestone, the Marine Corps' B variant has been the other part of the team effort progressing the multi-role fighter forward for joint and partner nation fifth-generation air power.

"Both services' efforts are a precursor to training other services and allies at the world's only F-35 Integrated Training Center," said Toth.

Currently two pilots from the United Kingdom are gearing up to begin classes in aircraft familiarity and simulator training at the F-35 Academic Training Center along with almost 20 Royal Air Force and Royal Navy maintainers who began through their country's first courses Oct. 1.

"And next spring the Navy's F-35 C variant will begin contributing to the sortie successes," said Toth, who besides spearheading the joint and international efforts at Eglin, is also flying weekly joint strike fighter sorties.

The multi-role joint strike fighter is the centerpiece of the Defense Department's future precision attack capability, designed to penetrate air defenses and deliver a wide-range of precision munitions. It offers increased interoperability and cost-sharing across three of the U.S. services and coalition partner nations. Eglin is home to the largest fleet of F-35s at any DoD base with 22 jets.

. 100th combined sortie - July 12 - accomplished in 123 days
. 200th combined sortie - Aug. 24 - accomplished in 44 days
. 300th combined sortie - Sept.21 - accomplished in 30 days
. 400th combined sortie - Oct. 16 - accomplished in 25 days
. 500th combined sortie - Nov. 2 - accomplished in 16 days

McChord C-17 delivers power equipment to New York

by Staff Sgt. Rachael Garneau
446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


11/5/2012 - MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- An Air Force Reserve crew flew a McChord C-17 Globemaster III loaded with two trucks and nine power workers from Seattle City Light and Bonneville Power Administration to the East Coast Nov. 3.

The C-17 landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Jamaica, N.Y., just after midnight on Nov. 4 and crews immediately began unloading 55,000 pounds of cargo on the chilly airport tarmac.

The crew from Seattle City Light was scheduled to begin work on Long Island, N.Y., once they arrived to the East Coast. Nov. 4, Long Island Power Authority announced that 370,000 of its 1.1 million customers were still without power.

Earlier in the week, the Power Restoration Task Force was formed involving a number of government agencies with the goal of restoring electricity to millions of people affected by Hurricane Sandy.

"The power equipment and personnel were requested by Long Island Power Authority directly to Seattle City Light," said Army Col. Michael McCormick, the Defense Coordinating Officer for the Pacific Northwest for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "It's called a bi-lateral agreement, so when one place has a disaster, the other location is allowed to back them up."

"When you see the images on television or in the newspapers, you want help," said Peter Clark from Seattle City Light. "These guys are actually going to get that opportunity."

In addition to McChord's C-17, aircraft from Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and Stewart Air National Guard Base, N.Y., are flying cargo in support of the relief efforts.

Nov. 1, U.S. Air Forces- Northern, the service component at U.S. Northern Command, requested Team McChord put additional crews on "24-hour prepare-to-deploy status" to meet any task force requests to respond to the storm relief efforts.

"As soon as we get the call, our crews are ready to go," said Air Force Lt. Col. Mark Boyd, a 728th Airlift Squadron pilot flying the mission to New York. "It's an incredible feeling to be able to help out at a time like this."

"Our 446th Airlift Wing Reservists serve their fellow Americans by providing our country with the capability of reaching out anywhere in the world in a matter of hours," said Air Force Col. James Dignan, the 446th Operations Group commander. "This is why our aircraft are often the first signs of hope for victims of natural disasters. For Hurricane Sandy, the impact has been truly devastating to our nation, as well as to some members of the Air Force Reserve family."

In addition to the aircraft, supplies, power crews and trucks, Air Force Reserve Command has sent emergency preparedness liaison officers to assist local rescue efforts in the devastated areas.

"As always, the 446th Airlift Wing is ready to meet the demand," said Dignan. "We are part of the total team effort needed to help the area begin to get on its way to recovery in the aftermath of this heartbreaking and horrific disaster."

Joint Base Lewis-McChord members team up to provide hurricane support

by Staff Sgt. Sean Tobin
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


11/5/2012 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- After airlifting more than 20 electrical utility vehicles to the East Coast Saturday to aid in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, McChord Field Airmen were back at it again Sunday, transporting much-needed relief back east. Only this time, instead of utility vehicles, this cargo belonged to the Army's 227th Preventative Medicine Medical Detachment from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Tasked with testing the safety of drinking water, air, food and other resources in the areas hit by the storm, the small preventative medicine team deployed from JBLM to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., on a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, operated by the 62nd Airlift Wing.

"Whenever there is a natural disaster of this scale, there is also a breakdown in basic sanitation in the area," said Army Maj. Jason Faulkenerry, 227th PMMD commander. "Working alongside the Food and Drug Administration, we will help to ensure the safety of residents affected by the storm as well as those helping with the cleanup efforts."

Along with the passengers, onboard the aircraft were enough vehicles and equipment for the team to be mobile and self-sustained in the area for up to a month.

For the C-17 crew transporting the equipment and passengers, this mission was their third trip back and forth across the country, transporting crews and cargo to the area in just five days.

"Emotionally and physically it can be draining," said 1st Lt. Daniel Siemen, 8th Airlift Squadron pilot. "But knowing that the people and equipment absolutely have to get where they're going, you have to press on. You just have to make sure you are well rested."

When taking into consideration the gravity of the missions being flown, it's easy to look past the discomfort, he said.

"Being a part of this is awesome," said Siemen. "Obviously, the situation back east is not ideal, but it is definitely great to be able to help the people in need."

Before the mission's departure, a 4-hour maintenance delay meant the crew had a decision to make as to whether they were going to postpone the mission or continue with it. After a certain number of hours on alert status, it is the up to the crew's discretion as to whether they should continue.

"We talked about it as a crew and decided that we were all well rested and could safely push forward with the mission," said Senior Airman Steven Varner, 8th AS loadmaster. "We are helping people who are in need and they're in our own backyard. We really needed to get these guys out there so they could get to work."

And that's just what they did. After a 5-hour flight to New Jersey and once on the ground at McGuire Field, crews quickly unloaded the aircraft of its cargo and passengers and the crew was back in the air just an hour and 40 minutes later - heading home to start the process all over again, if needed.

McChord Field Airmen will continue to remain on alert, waiting to answer the call and jump into action whenever and wherever it is needed.

"We press forward because of the gravity of the situation on the East Coast dictates we do," said Capt. Matt Battle, 8th AS pilot. "We're happy to provide this assistance, knowing it's helping to ease the discomfort of many of our neighbors back east."