Military News

Friday, November 16, 2012

Face of Defense: Archaeologist Among 'Lincoln' Extras

By Kathryn C. Weigel
Fort Lee
FORT LEE, Va., Nov. 16, 2012 – Bryce Stanley, an archaeologist at the Regional Archaeological Curation Facility here, digs history -- literally.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Bryce Stanley, archaeologist at the Regional Archaeological Curation Facility, Fort Lee, Va., holds a Civil War era bayonet that was found on post in 2007. As an extra in the movie "Lincoln," Stanley carried a reproduction Springfield rifle and bayonet. U.S. Army photo by Kathryn C. Weigel
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
So, it's not surprising he was willing to take a few days off from his job in December to be an extra in “Lincoln,” Steven Spielberg's new film. "I saw the ad in the paper. They were still looking for extras," Stanley said. So, he sent in the brief biography and photo requested. "They were looking for males with beards between the ages of 20 and 35. I sent in my information, and they got back with me."

The Richmond, Va., native said he has never had an interest in acting, he has supported himself as a musician in Savannah, Ga. Stanley plays guitar and harmonica, writing much of the music he plays and sings.

After earning his bachelor's and master's degrees in archaeology at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Stanley had a variety of contract jobs in his field and pursued his music full-time before coming to the Fort Lee position about four years ago.

Stanley applied to be an extra to immerse himself in the Civil War era, he said. "It was a very interesting experience, but I learned more about movie-making," he explained.

He got a close look at how "movie magic" can transform a place as well as people.

"It's amazing what they did to downtown Petersburg," Stanley said, noting that the Old Towne area took on the look and feel of 1865.

He was one of 40 to 50 extras who donned reproduction Union uniforms and overcoats and toted reproduction Springfield rifles for the scenes shot there. The makeup artists "made us look dirty," he said.

One day, he said, the neckline of his 21st-century T-shirt was showing under his uniform.
"A girl came along and snip, snip, it was gone," Stanley said, citing one example of the attention to detail he saw by Spielberg's staff. Stanley even witnessed an argument over whether one set of suspenders fit the period.

Properly uniformed, Stanley worked one day on a street scene, crossing the street in front of Lincoln's carriage and trying not to get hit by it. He also found himself standing beside actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who portrayed Robert Todd Lincoln, the president's son.

"He was in his period clothes, and he pulled out his iPod and put his ear buds in" while waiting for instructions on what he was needed for next.

The life of an extra often is “hurry-up-and-wait,” Stanley said. Notified the day before about where to report for filming, Stanley and the others would show up around 5:30 or 6 a.m. for a morning shot.

"They feed you breakfast," he said. "You get all of your paperwork done so you can be paid. Then you go to wardrobe and makeup. A lot of people are shouting and pushing you around, saying, 'Go here. Go there.' Then you basically sit around and wait for your scene.

"When your scene is called," Stanley continued, "you are directed what to do. You may spend three, four or five hours on a scene that will take 30 seconds in the movie."

Where the scene falls in the movie, and even whether it makes the final cut, remains a mystery until the film opens.

"Since you're not the director and you don't have an overall idea of the flow of the movie, you don't know how your scene fits in," Stanley said.

One scene he participated in was set in the old train station in Old Towne. Some Union soldiers were sitting around the telegraph, waiting for the results of a House of Representatives vote on a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery.

Stanley earned about $80 a day for the time he worked as an extra, and he gained a new perspective on movies. Besides being more aware of the time invested in making a film, Stanley said, he now pays close attention to the extras. He noted that moviegoers, if they watch closely, will realize a relatively small number of extras keep popping up in scenes throughout the film.

Extras sign nondisclosure forms and are forbidden to take photographs, Stanley said.

"One day, they got word that an extra had taken a picture of Daniel Day-Lewis,” he said. “They berated us for a good hour and then checked all the photos on every extra's cell phone." Stanley had previously taken a photo of himself in costume, and it was deleted.

Stanley said he thinks he would take part in another period movie if the opportunity arises. "It was cool getting dressed up like that and seeing how people lived back then,” he added. “It was really neat."

Medal of Honor Recipient Urges Businesses to Hire Vets

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2012 – The Marine Corps’ first living Medal of Honor recipient from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars told a gathering of U.S. business leaders here yesterday that hiring veterans is a mutually beneficial practice.

Dakota Meyer was a keynote speaker at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s fifth annual “Business Steps Up: Hiring Our Heroes” event.

"If you want to thank a veteran," Meyer told the audience, "I can tell you how: Hire him."
Meyer said companies that hire veterans are taking advantage of "an opportunity for both," not performing an act of charity.

"I want to tell you you're not giving these guys anything,” he told the employers. “You're providing them an opportunity that will also help you out. And once you give them an opportunity and hold them accountable, I can guarantee you these men and women have been in way worse circumstances than your company will ever be in. And they're going to be the ones that make a difference and stand out."

Meyer acknowledged that young veterans fresh out of the military often find it difficult to talk to employers.
"Military guys are a team," he said. "There's no 'I' -- they don't talk about themselves. It's teamwork. It's a team effort. So how can they pitch themselves to you and tell what they're good at? It's hard."

Meyer used his own background as a Marine Corps sniper to illustrate his point.

"Give me a show of hands of how many employers need a sniper," he said. When no hands were raised, he tried again.

"How many employers are looking for teamwork, promptness, accountability, and managing personnel in stressful environments?” he asked. “I'd say quite a few. And that's what every single veteran who raises his right hand to serve our military can bring to the table. They've proven it."

Meyer also suggested that employers look at an honorable discharge after four years in the military as equivalent to a college degree. "It's just a different skill set," he said. "[Service members] are going out making a difference and being held accountable every single day."

He used his own story as an example of a young veteran who needed a job when he returned home.
"How did I get here? As a 24-year-old with a high-school education and sergeant in the Marine Corps, this is not what I expected my life would be about a year ago," he said.

A recruiter who challenged him in high school led him to sign up with the Marine Corps, he said. After basic training and a tour in Iraq, Meyer said his gunnery sergeant needed five volunteers to go to Afghanistan. He said he'd go.

"I remembered what happened on Sept. 11, and Afghanistan is where I wanted to go. It's personal," he said. "So I went over there and met my team. Everything was going good -- we were a team. We went into a village on Sept. 8, 2009, and that's where I lost my team that day."

Published accounts describe a Taliban ambush that trapped local villagers and U.S. service members in a valley in Afghanistan’s Kunar province. Reportedly against orders, Meyer manned the turret while another service member drove a Humvee into the firefight, searching for Meyer's teammates.

Along the way, Meyer and the driver drove into the valley, continually rescuing Afghan villagers and American service members, and returning in five trips, saving more than 30 lives. Once he found his teammates deep in the valley, Meyer recovered the remains of all of them except for one, who reportedly was never found.

When Meyer got a phone call two years later from President Barack Obama notifying him that he'd receive the Medal of Honor, Meyer told his commander in chief he didn't want it.

"You take the worst day of my life and now I'm getting recognized for it, and I'm getting a call from the president telling me I'm going to receive the highest medal the country can give," he said. "I told him, 'I'm not accepting this for being a failure.' And the president said, 'Dakota, it's bigger than you.'

"But now I realize it is bigger than me,” he continued. “So I decided I would accept the medal on behalf of all the men and women who served, on behalf of all the men and women and their families who have sacrificed so much for our country's freedom, and the men and women who are still out there doing it every single day."
Meyer said he knew that if he could take that opportunity and make a difference, he would have to do it.

"This is where the perfect fit came in," he said of his veteran-meets-employer experience. He signed on with the Chamber of Commerce and a car manufacturer, both of which also wanted to make a difference and help veterans find work.

"Greatness is a conscious choice," Meyer told the audience, referencing the book "Good to be Great" by Jim Collins. "To all the employers, every man, woman and their families who signed up to go fight for our country and volunteer to be in the military said they were going to be great for all of you all,” he said. “To accept anything less than being great, and helping provide them an opportunity, is not OK with me. So the question is, 'Is it OK with you?'"

Air National Guard Strategic Planning Systems conference helping bridge to the future

By Col. Nahaku McFadden
National Guard Bureau

Click photo for screen-resolution image
11/14/2012 - LEESBURG, Va. - The question of where the Air National Guard will be in 2025 was the topic of conversation for 300 senior ANG leaders from across the nation at the Strategic Planning Systems conference here Tuesday. The answer to that question, SPS committee chair Brig. Gen. Joseph G. Balskus assured attendees, was within their grasp.

"We started out in 2005 and now look where we are," Balskus observed. "We are looking ahead to the future of the Air National Guard in 2025. We are building the bridges necessary for total communication with guidance from the field."

A "Strong Air Force, Strong Air National Guard; Defending America" was the theme for the SPS conference. The SPS, Balskus noted, started as a field-driven initiative to provide strategic priorities for the ANG. The committee develops proposals within the SPS or by working with the National Guard Bureau staff. Two SPS representatives are appointed by the Adjutants General from the 54 states, territories and District of Columbia.

Deputy Director of the ANG, Brig. Gen. James "JC" Witham, said it was time to roll up our sleeves.

"We need to have the discourse between each other [states and National Guard Bureau] in order to get to 2025," Witham said. "The beauty of this system is that it tells us the path that we want."

SPS committee members developed five strategic priorities. They are:

  • Provide the right people in the right place with the right skills; 
  • Fulfill roles and missions that meet federal, state, territory, and district defense and security requirements today and in the future;
  • Build strength through partnerships within and beyond the ANG;
  • Apply consistent, responsive, and transparent processes to ANG organizational activities; and
  • Communicate with many voices, one message.
Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, the director of the ANG, thanked the SPS committee for their leadership over the past few years.

"A lot of things that we are doing now, we have never done before and it's because of the great work being done with the SPS," Wyatt explained. "The groundwork was done right here. I know what is important to the field and what is important to the wings, and I know that you will continue to support the next director."

The next big mountain to climb, Wyatt added, is to determine how best to posture the Air National Guard of 2025.

"We (the ANG) offer the best value proposition for this country in the area of defense," Wyatt stated. "Congress recognizes the importance of the Air National Guard doing the homeland defense mission. I like where we are."

National Guard chaplains train in spiritual and survival skills

By Capt. Audrey Matthews
177th Armored Brigade

Click photo for screen-resolution image
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. (11/16/12) – Instead of weapons, chaplains carry their faith when they deploy. But even a chaplain needs to know how to defend him or herself against a personal attack.

While deployed, unit ministry teams work hard to provide spiritual guidance and increase Soldiers’ resilience. Members of First Army Division East walk a fine line when providing deploying unit ministry teams mobilization training. They must ensure they not only can provide their pastoral duties, but also survive on the battlefield. Since chaplains are non-combatants -- they don't carry weapons -- their security normally falls to their assistants.

During recent training with the 1-104th Calvary and 1-109th Infantry Battalions, both of the 55th Brigade Combat Team, a Pennsylvania National Guard unit, the units' UMTs not only received their classroom instructions on providing pastoral care to Soldiers down range but were also introduced to hands-on survivability techniques.

The survivability techniques, taught by Chaplain (Capt.) Donald Thomas and Sgt. 1st Class LQuitha Brock, of the 177th Armored Brigade, included techniques designed, not to harm, but to allow the chaplain to escape from immediate danger. This included showing the deploying unit ministry teams how to break various holds and get away if they were grabbed by someone with hostile intent.

"Chaplains are non-combatants," explained Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Harry C. Huey Jr., First Army Division East chaplain. "As a result, there is a heavy burden of responsibility upon the chaplain assistant for the security of the chaplain in a deployed environment. Survivability training enables the chaplain to bring something to the table that supports the assistant in maintaining UMT security. Survivability training also helps the assistant to think through security dynamics that he or she may not have addressed in previous training."

Like many training units, a practical exercise provided the UMTs a chance to put their newly acquired skills into action. Following three days of training, the UMTs navigated a situational training lane exercise, moving through a hostile environment to the casualty collection point to provide care for wounded Soldiers.

Sgt. Timothy Wright, 1-104th Calvary chaplain assistant, led the teams throughout the area. Maintaining a low silhouette, the teams successfully negotiated the danger zone. Before reaching the CCP however, the teams encountered and reacted to two hostile role-players.

When they reached the CCP, they found five injured Soldiers and a priest needing various degrees of care. The teams quickly reacted and provided pastoral care. Afterwards, the UMTs and the trainers discussed the training event, highlighting the things that went well and things they need to improve.

"The hands-on practice versus the classroom training allowed me to see blind spots and things you can improve on," said Chaplain (Capt.) Douglas Knepp, 1-104th Calvary Battalion.

Chaplain (Maj.) Ryan Krauss, 1-109th Infantry Battalion, said many Soldiers feel that even in the "heat of training" things happen quickly and Soldiers need to think before they react -- himself included.

"I should take my time before jumping in; be more deliberate," he acknowledged.

"Unit Ministry Team training at our MFGIs is crucial to the preparation of our deploying chaplains and chaplain assistants," Huey explained. "Our end state is that deployed Soldiers receive the best possible religious support no matter how austere or dangerous their area of operations may be. To reach that end state we have to provide our Unit Ministry Teams with training that prepares them to coordinate and conduct religious support wherever their units may deploy."

"Communicate. Have a plan A, B and C," emphasized Sgt. Melvin Rountree, 1-109th Infantry chaplain assistant. He suggested the UMT "hook up with the medics for the MASCAL (mass casualty)," which is another training exercise. Rountree felt the additional training would better prepare Soldiers for situations on the battlefield.

"It's not muscle memory yet but we did good overall. We have a year with each other for it to become second nature. Maybe I can come back and teach this class," said Sgt. Timothy Wright, 1-104th Calvary chaplain assistant.

"The First Amendment ensures a Soldier's right to the exercise of his or her religious faith. Our training prepares chaplains and chaplain assistants to provide for that most basic right of our Soldiers – no matter where they may be deployed and no matter the conditions of that deployment," Huey said.

Acting Under Secretary of the Air Force visits JBER

by Airman 1st Class Omari Bernard
JBER Public Affairs


11/16/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Acting Under Secretary of the Air Force Dr. Jamie Morin visited with Airmen from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Nov. 13 during his first trip to the region.

"It's great to be here," Morin said. "It's great to have the opportunity to hear from some of the folks out in the wings and to really gain an appreciation of the challenges and the opportunities that exist here in Alaska."

One of the highlights of his visit was an Airman's call, where he was able to not only thank JBER Airmen for their ongoing support and dedication, but also highlight the capabilities the team provides to the Pacific theater of operations.

"As we look at the world and the global strategic environment, I'll tell you the Air Force sees a future where our contributions are going to be day-by-day, year-by-year more important," Morin said. "We are also seeing a world in which the shifts of global economic and political powers to the Pacific are going to make bases like JBER even more important."

Some examples of JBER's recent contributions include the redeployment of U.S. Army Alaska's 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division and the 90th Fighter Squadron's recent deployment to Guam.

"All of the machinations we had to go through for the theater support package out to Guam showed the confidence we had in the aircraft to make it happen--my hat is off to that team," he said. "The number of hurdles they had to get over was remarkable."

According to Morin, these examples showcase the fact that JBER has an important role in defending the nation's interests and Airmen continue to play a big part in that.

"It is an interesting and challenging time," he said. "The thing we can always count on is innovative and energetic Airmen."

But the focus of the discussion was not just on the shift to the Pacific, Morin also talked about the challenges the Air Force is facing in maintaining a high-quality and ready force.

"When you raised your right hand and swore to uphold and defend the Constitution you knew it would not always have as much certainty as you would like and you accepted the personal challenges that came along with that," he said.

Morin explained that becoming smaller will allow the Air Force to be a high-quality and ready force - able to modernize and become more capable in the future. To do this, Air Force leaders are focused on three critical programs: the F-35 joint strike fighter, KC-46 tanker, and the long range strike bomber.

"We are doing everything to keep them on track. As a result, we are not doing some other things we would like to do," Morin said, but the focus will never stray from Airmen and their families.

Morin stressed the success here and abroad does not just rest on the backs of those who serve in uniform.

"We also have to keep in mind the fact that the folks who serve here are enabled to serve by the families behind them," Morin emphasized. "It's important to recognize that it's not just those who wear their nation's cloth, but those who are standing behind them and lifting them up every day."

While he acknowledged that there are many challenges ahead for the Air Force, Morin emphasized the importance of the Total Force team in meeting those challenges.

"The folks here are doing a tremendous job for the nation and bringing home the hardware to show for it," he said. "You're winning the awards, getting the great inspection results. You are mission oriented and are an exemplar of what can be done by the Total Force team when we work together hand in hand and when we take integration seriously at every level."

Airman participate in Veteran's Day Parade

by Airman 1st Class Saphfire Cook
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


11/16/2012 - TUCSON, Ariz.  -- Airmen from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., participated in the Veteran's Day Parade, hosted by The American Legion Morgan McDermott Post 7, Nov. 12.

More than 100 Airmen contributed to the event in several capacities, including Honor Guard, the D-M Fire Department and a marching formation.

"I think it is important for us to maintain an image in the local community," said Senior Airman Patrick Dunn, 355th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "It creates a positive relationship when we have a presence in events, especially when they're directed towards the armed forces."

Marching volunteers met on base at Heritage Park around 7 a.m. to run through drill and ceremony procedures before the actual parade.

"It felt great seeing the support of the local community as we marched through the downtown area," said Tech. Sgt. Anthony Chambers, 355th Security Forces Squadron and coordinator of the formation that marched in the parade. "That level of support cements the fact that we made the right decision the day we joined the Air Force."

The theme for this year's parade was "Support Our Troops, United We Stand".

"It is our honor as active-duty Airmen to pay tribute to the veterans of our armed services," said Chief Master Sgt. Dawna Cnota, 355th Fighter Wing command chief. "Marching in the parade is one small way we can say thank you to them for their service and sacrifice. I'd like to thank all the D-M Airmen for their participation and for providing such a proud and professional representation of our base and the U.S. Air Force."

Loved ones welcome Airmen home from Middle East

by Airman 1st Class Aubrey White
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


11/16/2012 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Families and friends welcomed home approximately 150 U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 4th Fighter Wing after a six-month deployment to the Middle East.

Throughout the year, numerous Airmen deploy to various locations around the world, leaving behind loved ones and missing out on several special occasions in order to ensure the Air Force mission is accomplished.

"This was our second deployment together, but the first with children," said Torina Prechtel, spouse of Tech. Sgt. Matthew Prechtel, 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron. "Seeing my son's heart break since my husband left has been the hardest thing to deal with."

Although the stresses of military life may become more prevalent to these separated families since the Airmen's departure, Team Seymour's families attempted to stay occupied and some found ways to communicate and share exceptional moments with their loved ones through the use of modern technology.

"We used Skype, Face-Time and Facebook a lot," Torina said. "When I gave birth to our daughter, he was able to use Face-Time throughout the entire birth. He couldn't wait to finally meet her today."

The family of Staff Sgt. Jonathan Evans, 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, decided to spend their time apart committing to a new, healthier lifestyle through diet and exercise.

"My son, daughters and I all decided together that we wanted to lose weight," said Elaine Evans, Jonathan's mother. "As a family we've lost a combined 300 pounds, and (Jonathan) hasn't seen us since we shed the weight, so this reunion is extra special for us."

Once the families were finally re-united, tears of joy ran from their eyes as they embraced one another. Prechtel was able to hold his 2-month old daughter for the first time, and families headed off to relax in the company of their returned loved ones -- and all in time for the Thanksgiving season.

Bold Tigers perform flyover at NFL game

by Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


11/16/2012 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho  -- While the National Anthem played during the recent San Diego Chargers versus Kansas City Chiefs football game Nov. 1, 2012, four F-15E Strike Eagles assigned to the 391st Fighter Squadron from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, streaked over the field in perfect formation to cheers and applause from more than 50,000 fans.

The Bold Tigers only returned home from a 6-month deployment to Southwest Asia a few weeks before being presented this rare opportunity.

"To come home from a deployment and be chosen to fly over an NFL game, basically representing the United States Air Force and military was an absolute honor," said Capt. Jonathan Barber, 391st FS flight commander. "We were thrilled to showcase Gunfighter airpower to the American public during the military appreciation weekend at the NFL game."

Many days of planning and preparing were necessary to ensure the success of the flyover.

"The airspace in the San Diego area is extremely crowded," said Capt. Dan Dlugiewicz, 391st FS scheduler. "There are multiple aircraft everywhere and Barber had to quickly juggle constantly changing situations as well as get us over the stadium at a precise time."

The unique challenges of a flyover required Barber and his team to work with multiple agencies.

"We coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration military liaison office and personnel from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar as well as the San Diego Chargers in order to hit our mark perfectly on schedule," said Barber. "We saw the stadium and the fireworks went off while we shot right above the smoke. We could hear the crowd cheering through our radios. It was an amazing feeling."

After the flyover, the Bold Tigers landed at MCAS Miramar and raced back to the game where they were taken on the field, introduced to the crowd and were able to watch the game by the players.

"We were on the field and they were showing us on the jumbo screen with the crowd going completely crazy all around us. I felt like a rock star," said Dlugiewicz. "The fans were clapping and cheering for us. We took photos with them and gave out patches, coins and stickers to children and teenagers. I'm convinced there is at least one kid from the audience who wants to have a career as an Air Force pilot because of what we did and what they saw."

The opportunity to be ambassadors for the Air Force was a responsibility taken seriously by the members of the aircrew.

"Having a chance to interact with people in that type of atmosphere was thrilling," Barber said. "When you take the patch off your arm and give it to a small child you make their year. Then you see their parents tearing up because they understand how significant the gesture is. It was a very special day."

"In the Air Force we tend to live in our own little world," he continued. "This was a terrific occasion for our wing, squadron and families to show what Gunfighter airpower truly is and we were absolutely privileged to be on the front end of the spear."

The aircrew personnel who piloted the flyover were all captains or below and most are currently on their first active-duty assignment.

"This was an amazing opportunity for us as junior officers and we want to thank our leadership for trusting us to represent the Gunfighters on the national stage," Barber said. "We also want to thank the FAA, MCAS Miramar personnel, San Diego Chargers, and especially their fans for being so kind and supporting us."

Transition Assistance Program mandatory for some Reservists

11/16/2012 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Some Reservists will be required to complete the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program under legislation designed to reduce unemployment among veterans.

The updated Transition Assistance Program went into effect Nov. 21. It now requires mandatory pre-separation counseling, an individualized transition plan, VA benefits briefing and the Department of Labor employment workshop for all active-duty military members retiring or separating from the Air Force.

"Members of the Air Reserve Component on orders for 180 consecutive days or more are also now required to receive pre-separation counseling (to include an individualized transition plan) and receive a VA benefits briefing," said Eddy Saunders, Air Force Reserve Command TAP program manager.

Reserve members are encouraged to participate in TAP services. However, the Office of the Secretary of Defense is reviewing an exemption that will allow Reservists to opt out of the DOL employment workshop if they already have a job or an education plan. "If members cannot provide proof, it will be mandatory that they also complete the TAP employment workshop," Saunders said.

Two pieces of legislation are driving changes to the program. The Veterans Opportunity to Work Act and Hiring Heroes Act directed the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Labor and the Department of Defense to expand current programs to reduce unemployment among veterans.

"The newly revised TAP will offer veterans the skills needed to explore education and employment opportunities, translate military skills and training and to receive individualized assistance to successfully register for the right VA benefits and services," added Krystal Shiver, AFRC's other TAP manager.

Reservists who need to fulfill TAP requirements should contact the Airman and Family Readiness office at their location. "Members on an active-duty base will accomplish TAP requirements through the active-duty Airman and Family Readiness center," Shiver said.

The Airman and Family Readiness office at Reserve installations will provide pre-separation counseling, determine exemptions and help Reservists schedule their DOL employment workshop attendance at a location closest to their home.

Reservists without an installation in their area can attend TAP services at the Airman and Family Readiness Center at Robins AFB, Ga., where AFRC has established a TAB hub.

For more information, call Saunders at 478-327-2088 (DSN 497), or Shiver at 478-327-1294.

Air National Guard leaders discuss future

by Senior Master Sgt. Jerry Bynum
Air National Guard Special Staff Public Affairs


11/15/2012 - LEESBURG, Va. -- The future of the Air National Guard and how it can best align itself with the president's new strategic guidance were the main topics discussed at the two-day Air National Guard 2012 Senior Leadership Conference that began here Wednesday.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, the director of the ANG, hosted the event that allowed senior leaders from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia to exchange ideas and provide input from the field on critical issues affecting the ANG's future role.

"The Senior Leadership Conference brings together officer and senior enlisted leadership from across the 54 states, territories and the District of Columbia," said Wyatt. "It is an opportunity to share information, but this comes at an especially critical time now because we are facing some severe financial constraints on the [Department of Defense] budget."

The theme for this year's annual meeting was "ANG 2025 - Leading Tomorrow's Total Force." A variety of key issues were addressed including the likely future demands for ANG capabilities, alternative business models for an operational reserve, and preparing Airmen, families and employers to be able to adapt to future changes.

"The most important message is our people are the real strength of the Air National Guard," said Wyatt. "If we take care of our people, if we train them properly, if we give them relevant missions into the future ... we'll be just fine as an Air National Guard."

The primary speakers during the event, Army Gen. Frank J. Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau and a member of the Joint Chiefs, Wyatt, and Air Force Brig. Gen. James C. Witham, the ANG's deputy director, addressed Adjutants General, unit commanders and other key ANG leaders.

Grass said the National Guard is entering a time of strategic transition. He noted that the DoD is shaping the force for the future in a fiscally-constrained environment; and the president and secretary of defense have issued new strategic guidance for the direction of the military.

"We may need to combine programs and gain efficiencies," said Grass. "As we move forward with implementation of the new DoD strategic guidance, we must embrace new sunrise mission opportunities as they become available. We must ensure our forces are ready and relevant for the challenges that face our nation today, and into the future."

Grass continued by saying that given our nation's fiscal constraints, there must be a proper balance between the active and the reserve components.

"One of the main topics we've discussed here is the future of the Air National Guard," said Grass. "We want to focus on the future to maintain readiness and determine the most effective structure both for the homeland as well as the total Air Force."

The ANG SLC attendees also discussed recruiting and retention, future demands of domestic operations, diversity, total force integration, recapitalization and enlisted issues from resiliency to professional military education.

"As we plot the way ahead for the Air National Guard, we have to shift our strategy," Wyatt said. "We must recapitalize our resources and do what's right for our people, for the taxpayers and the total Air Force."

Barksdale museum to commemorate Linebacker II

Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

11/16/2012 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The 8th Air Force Museum Association will commemorate the 40th anniversary of OPERATION LINEBACKER II Dec. 7-8 with a veterans' reception and Memorial Monument Dedication at Barksdale's Global Power Museum.

The commemoration event kicks off with a welcome reception for Linebacker II veterans Dec. 7 from 5-9 p.m. at the Stripes Club on Barksdale AFB.

The dedication ceremony takes place at 10 a.m. Dec. 8 in the museum Air Park.

December 2012 marks the 40th Anniversary of this now historic event, which took place Dec. 18-29, 1972. After peace negotiations with representatives for the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) broke down Dec. 16, B-52D and B-52G aircrews operating from U-Tapao Air Base, Thailand, and Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, flew a total of 729 missions against targets in North Vietnam.

Launching large salvos of surface-to-air-missiles, the North Vietnamese struck 24 B-52s, and of those, 15 were lost. One of the B-52Ds hit by an enemy SAM is currently part of the Barksdale Global Power Museum. Following the bombing campaign, the North Vietnamese returned to the negotiating table, and a peace accord was signed Jan. 27, 1973.

Linebacker II is just one of many B-52 milestones that have been recognized during 2012, which was designated the Year of the B-52 in Air Force Global Strike Command. The Year of the B-52 marked the 60th anniversary of the first flight of the B-52 Stratofortress on April 15, 1952, as well as the 50th anniversary of the production of the last B-52 in October.

Those interested in attending the dedication ceremony may RSVP by clicking here.

For more information on the event, contact Terry Snook, museum association president, at (972) 489-0602.

Greenert: Navy at Its Best When Forward-deployed

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2012 – With warfighting the central focus of the Navy's mission, the Navy is best when it is out and about, Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of naval operations, said here today.
"Operating forward means using innovative ways to make sure the ships that we have are where we need them to be," the admiral said during a speech at a National Press Club luncheon.

Readiness to conduct forward operations requires more than just parts, maintenance and fuel, he added. "It also means that we have competent and proficient crews that are ready to do the job," he said.

For about 10 years, around half of the Navy's ships have been forward-deployed in the Asia-Pacific region, Greenert said. Half of those ships are home-ported there, he added.

That forward-leaning posture helps to build international relationships and reassure U.S. allies, he said.
Partnerships between the United States and Asia-Pacific nations are maturing and growing, Greenert said. For example, in Japan and South Korea, U.S. Navy operations personnel are collocated with their host nation counterparts, he said.

In addition, a longstanding series of talks with the Chinese navy have been expanded to include flag officers, not just captains, Greenert said.

"We in the Department of Defense have now a deliberate strategy for engagement of the Chinese military," he said.

The Asia-Pacific region has been a longtime focus for the Navy, the admiral said, so it makes sense that the U.S. defense strategy would include a rebalance toward the region. Part of the rebalance includes Spain's recent agreement to allow four Aegis missile-equipped Arleigh Burke-class ships to home-port in Rota, effectively freeing up six ships to deploy elsewhere, Greenert said.

In addition, more ships will be based on the West Coast. By 2020, 60 percent of the Navy's ships will be based on the West Coast or elsewhere in the Pacific, he said.

To send one ship forward, Greenert said, requires four other ships: one in the region, one that has just returned, one that is preparing to deploy and one that is in maintenance. It makes better economic sense to keep ships home-ported in those regions, he said.

About a third of the deployed ships are in the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf, and about 18 are in the Mediterranean Sea, the admiral said. That arrangement helps to ensure access to maritime crossroads such as the Suez Canal and the straits of Hormuz, Malacca and Gibraltar, he said.

"We have to have access to those places. That's where the lifeblood of our world economy travels through," he said.

It can take several days, sometimes two or three weeks, to reach these places from the United States, he noted, underscoring the importance of operating from forward locations.

Navy Takes Steps to Address Issues Affecting Sailors

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2012 – The Navy is taking steps to address several issues that are affecting its sailors, the chief of naval operations said here today.

Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert spoke at a National Press Club luncheon.

Upward trends in sexual assaults and suicides are chief among the issues the Navy is tackling, the admiral said.

Sexual assault is a safety issue, Greenert said. "I'm troubled that we haven't moved forward to limit and really reverse the trend of these events during my time here. … Everybody deserves a safe place to work," he said. "We have to treat it as a crime, because that's what it is."

The admiral also said he's concerned with the increase in the number of suicides in the Navy.

"A few years ago, we had about 13 suicides per 100,000 [personnel], now it's 15 per 100,000, so we're creeping up," he acknowledged. "We have to empower our sailors to be able to deal with stress. We have to look out for each other and we have to embed … in all of our shipmates to make sure that, if somebody is reaching out, we're ready to take care of them."

The rate of operations is higher than he expected it would be at this time last year, Greenert said, and the Navy needs to reconcile how to continue to support that. This may result in adjustments to training and maintenance plans, he said.

The Navy needs to look at the operations tempo with particular attention to its sailors, he continued. "We call that individual tempo -- ITEMPO -- which is the measurement of what each sailor’s requirements are for going to sea [and] coming back, … as opposed to the unit. I think it's important to the health of the force."

The admiral said he's satisfied with the overall manning of ships at sea. But, he noted, the balance of skilled personnel and leadership needs to be adjusted to ensure that, as the Navy responds to the increased operational tempo, it has the right people in the right place at the right time.

'A' musing on mental balance


Commentary by Lt. Col. Duncan Hughes
4th Aerospace Medicine Squadron


11/16/2012 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. (AFNS) -- T.E. Lawrence, more famously known by the moniker 'Lawrence of Arabia,' was a brilliant archaeology student and British Army officer in the early 1900s. His archaeology background was put to use by the British Army in World War I when he was sent to the Negev desert in Israel under the ruse of an archaeological exploration of the region.

I'm sure that a byproduct of such an exploration being an up-to-date, detailed map of the very desert any Ottoman Turk army would have to cross in order to attack Egypt had nothing to do with the venture whatsoever. Nonetheless, Lawrence found himself deployed in the desert with several young servicemen of his day. His assessment of his fellow officers was neither subtle nor complimentary. His observations of the officer corps led him to say, "I feel a fundamental, crippling, incuriousness about our officers. Too much body and too little head."

To state the obvious, it is quite apparent that Lawrence felt there was a profound lack of critical thinkers amongst the officer corps of his day. I would argue that the situation may be far worse today than it was in Lawrence's. A quick word study on the word 'amusement' will serve to illustrate. To 'muse' means to think or to contemplate in silence. When the prefix a- or ab- is put in front of a word it means to take away from or to remove. So to 'a-muse' literally means to take away from thought or to be removed from silent contemplation. It is to be distracted from serious thought and amused or entertained, which requires only that one be awake -- not that any critical thought occur. In today's world of 24/7 amusement and entertainment with TV, movies, gossip magazines, YouTube and all of the pervasive social media, this generation is bombarded by a cavalcade of amusement stimuli and distraction. These serve mostly to provide escapes from purposeful mental exercise; and rather, serve more successfully to breed and cultivate the incurious horde that so worried Lawrence. Are evidences of voracious reading and critical thought readily apparent in your daily observations or are they more easily located in references to the bygone era that existed prior to all of today's technological 'advancements'?

Deresiewicz recently opined that marinating one's mind in social media's banter only serves to inculcate one in popular and conventional wisdom and doesn't cultivate one's own critical thinking skills.

Introspection and solitude are critical to innovative thought and the, new electronic world has disrupted it ... violently. Instead of having one or two true friends that we can sit and talk to for three of four hours at a time, we have 968 'friends' that we never actually talk to; instead we just bounce one-line messages off them a hundred times a day. This is not friendship, this is distraction.

I am not so sure that more interconnectedness via distraction is what will fix suicide rates or poor national academic performance. Faith, core values, meaningful personal relationships, voracious reading and exercised critical thought would reap far greater benefits in this officer's opinion.

While I am sure to have dated myself with such an opinion and, by no means, do I feel that any of the above forms of amusement or entertainment are bad things in and of themselves. However, I do believe the pendulum has swung way too far away from lifelong learning and critical thought toward an extreme of 24/7 entertainment and distraction. For my 2 cents worth, a little more mental balance would serve us all well.

Travis moves Army Soldiers

bby Staff Sgt. Patrick Harrower
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


11/15/2012 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- Roughly 550 Soldiers from the 1-294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard travelled through Travis on their way back to Guam Wednesday. They spent the last few weeks at Camp Roberts, California performing critical pre-mobilization training before travelling here via bus.

"We are in the mid-stage of our deployment process," said Army Maj. Christopher Camacho, planning officer. "We will continue to go through a series of briefings and training tasks to maintain our proficiency as we lead up to our turn to deploy."

Next in their training are briefings for their families to get them on board with the deployment, followed by advanced combat lifesaver training, Camacho said.

For this particular trip to California, the training was standard, but the movement of the troops was anything but that, he said.

"To move this many Soldiers in this long of a distance in only a handful of hours, took a lot of planning and coordination with the Air National Guard," Camacho said. "So many states contributed their planes to support the ground troops, it really made the planning go smoothly."

Fourteen Air National Guard aircraft were generated, loaded and took off from Travis in just one day to get the Soldiers back to Guam. Soon they will be back in the states to continue training before their deployment, he said.

"All the training that we perform helps us get to the point where we have 'all systems running,'" Camacho said. "Along the way, we really build unit and team cohesion, which pays off in adverse combat scenarios."

Band ramps up engagement as command position returns to Japan

by 1st Lt. Christopher Love
374th Airlift Wing/Public Affairs


11/16/2012 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- As U.S. forces rebalance to the Pacific, one group of Air Force musicians looks to play its way to new levels of engagement throughout the world's largest region.

After a five-year absence, the command position for the U.S.A.F. Band of the Pacific has returned to Yokota Air Base, Japan--and with it, increased assets for building partnerships.

The decision to relocate the command position from Alaska to Japan reflects the U.S.'s commitment to developing strong relationships with nations throughout the region, said Capt. Haley Armstrong, U.S.A.F. Band of the Pacific commander.

The band's conductor, Armstrong is also its only officer--a fact, she noted, that makes her an asset to the band's engagement mission.

"From a partnership standpoint, it makes a difference to our international relationships that the officer and commander is able to accompany the unit for outreach missions," Armstrong said. "This is much more important here than Hawaii or Alaska because of the culture."

With the relocation of its commander came the relocation of many bandsmen themselves. This, in turn, allowed the band to expand its repertoire, adding a jazz ensemble and multiple small groups.

"Jazz music is very big in the Japanese and other Asian cultures," Armstrong said. "So getting this capability back has greatly increased our ability for partnership building in the region. Also, now that the unit is twice as big, we can double our missions, which support the realignment for the Pacific."

Armstrong, a longtime AF trumpet player and now conductor, assumed command of the Band of the Pacific at a less-than-typical ceremony in Mizuho Town, Japan, Nov. 10, 2012.

Whereas most assumption of command ceremonies are singular events, Armstrong's occurred as the second part of a three-stage, bilateral concert showcasing Japanese musicians from Mizuho, a town on the outskirts of Tokyo, alongside the U.S. jazz ensemble "Pacific Showcase." Rather than deliver remarks upon receiving command--the usual practice--Armstrong let music do the talking, grabbing her baton and leading the joint concert band in the musical selection "Candide."

The ceremony may have been a-typical, but it was no less special.

"We could think of no better way to share (the assumption of command) than with a ceremony including the Japanese towns surrounding Yokota," said Senior Master Sgt. Steven Fitts, U.S.A.F. Band of the Pacific-Asia manager and the event's narrator.

Bilateral ceremonies of this sort, in which musicians from different nations play side by side one another, are just one of a number of ways the band conducts outreach. Bandsmen travel regularly throughout the Pacific giving concerts of varying sizes and genres, while also contributing to the morale of U.S. forces.

Their music reaches people across the spectrum, Armstrong said--from average citizens to embassy members.

When asked about the effect that a band performance can have on its audience, its leader told a story.

"At our last concert, I actually had a woman come in tears because of this Japanese song that we did about a grandfather clock. She was so overwhelmed by emotion and the fact that this American group was performing the music that meant so much to her family and her life.

"I would love to do a study sometime where you videotape an audience going into a concert and an audience leaving a concert--especially in this culture, because their positive change in emotion just shows so much."

Many people are familiar with the U.S. rebalance to the Pacific, but few, perhaps, have considered the vital role that military bands play in that shift.

"If we really are posturing our forces and trying to restructure for the Pacific," said Armstrong, "I feel like the band is one of the best tools available to have a positive AF and American presence in this area, for very little expense."

Hero Summit Panel Encourages Support for Military Families


By Erin Wittkop
Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2012 – A panel of military family members gathered here yesterday with many of the nation’s most influential journalists, civil servants and decorated service members to discuss the challenges of being a military family member and the ways that American citizens can support them.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Patti Walker, left, wife of retired Army 1st Sgt. Kevin Walker and Wounded Warrior Program advocate on Fort Riley, Kan., talks to ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts during a Hero Summit panel titled, “The Other Side of Sacrifice: Military Families” in Washington, D.C., Nov. 15, 2012. Other panel members included, from left to right, Bill Norwood, father of Marine Corps Sgt. Byron Norwood, who was killed in action; retired Air Force Maj. Lori Bell, wife of an active duty Air Force airman and founder and president of the National Association of Military Moms and Spouses; Kim Ruocco, widow of Marine Corps Maj. John Ruocco and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors national director of postvention programs. DOD photo by Bradley Cantor
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The inaugural Hero Summit, hosted by Newsweek and the Daily Beast, was a two-day theatrical-journalism event designed to bring together American military heroes, civil servants, writers and historians to examine the definition of American heroism and share stories of courage and bravery in the face of extreme adversity.
 
ABC news correspondent Deborah Roberts moderated the family panel, which included retired Air Force Maj. Lori Bell, wife of an active duty Air Force airman and founder and president of the National Association of Military Moms and Spouses; Bill Norwood, father of Marine Corps Sgt. Byron Norwood, who was killed in action; Kim Ruocco, widow of Marine Corps Maj. John Ruocco and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors national director of postvention programs; and Patti Walker, wife of retired Army 1st Sgt. Kevin Walker and Wounded Warrior Program advocate on Fort Riley, Kan.
Each speaker offered insight into the unique challenges faced by military families. Bell noted how hard it can be to keep herself and her family grounded when coping with frequent moves and unexpected deployments.

When her family was given two-weeks’ notice that her husband would deploy to Afghanistan, Bell said, she “wanted to connect with someone, but no one wanted to connect with the commander’s wife.” That experience, she added, inspired her to start an online community for military families that offers support in times of need without worrying about rank or social politics.

Bell is now the founder and president of the National Association of Military Moms and Spouses. Her website offers military families the opportunity to connect and receive mentorship when dealing with the unique challenges associated with a military lifestyle.

Walker also understands the importance of community support for military families. She said that small, everyday actions from community members can make a huge difference in the lives of military families, and she encourages all Americans to spread the word for veteran support.

“When you call your relatives, wherever they are, ask them to embrace the veterans in their community,” she said. “Employ our wounded veterans. Embrace their children. Give a minute of your time. Offer [vets] a thank you. If you have a service you provide, [offer it for free].”

Ruocco and Norwood pointed out that often the best kind of support is compassion, empathy and an ear to listen. Norwood’s son was killed during a rescue mission in Fallujah, Iraq. Ruocco lost her husband to suicide in 2005.

Honoring the lives of their loved ones has been crucial to the healing process for both Norwood and Ruocco. In the wake of his son’s death, Norwood said, he finds comfort by reaching out to Marines who served with his son and mentoring wounded service members in an effort to remind them to “live a strong, wonderful life, and enjoy it.”

Ruocco said her fear that her husband’s death would overshadow his life helped her to realize the emotional needs of other suicide survivors.

"When someone dies by suicide, [survivors] so often focus on the death and how [their loved one] died, and it wipes out everything else,” she said. “I think for suicide survivors, they want to talk about their life and who this person was -- that they had so much to give and [they weren’t] a crazy, bad person.”

Ruocco now works with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors to help family member survivors of military suicide rebuild their lives in the wake of tragedy, and she urges citizens to offer survivors compassion and the opportunity to talk about their loved one’s life as they heal.

Panetta Meets with Southeast Asian Counterparts By Cheryl Pellerin American Forces Press Service SIEM REAP, Cambodia, Nov. 16, 2012 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta met here today with his counterparts from 10 countries that are part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, during his first visit to Cambodia since taking office. The meeting took place on the final day of Panetta’s weeklong Asia-Pacific trip -- his third this year -- to discuss the U.S. rebalance to the region with counterparts and government officials in Australia, Thailand and Cambodia. ASEAN was formed in 1967. Its member states are Burma, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. So far as secretary, Panetta has visited five ASEAN nations -- Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia -- and held bilateral meetings with two others -- Malaysia and the Philippines. “Today we reaffirmed the importance of ASEAN unity for building regional stability,” the secretary said during an afternoon news conference, “and also the United States’ support for ASEAN-led defense cooperation [in] critical areas including humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, maritime security, nonproliferation and counterterrorism.” Panetta said he stressed in today’s meetings U.S. support for the protection of human rights, civilian oversight of the military, and respect for the rule of law and for the right of full and fair participation in the political process in Cambodia and throughout Southeast Asia. “As I said last year [at the ASEAN meeting] in Indonesia and I stress again, we are committed to further strengthening the U.S.-ASEAN relationship,” Panetta said. To reflect that commitment, he added, “the United States will increase the size and number of exercises that we participate in the Pacific with our Southeast Asian partners, and we are devoting new funding to this goal.” The secretary noted that progress has been made toward action-oriented cooperation in the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus, in which ASEAN members partner with the United States and a range of other countries on defense efforts. “The United States looks forward to participating in three new ADMM-Plus exercises in 2013,” Panetta said, including a humanitarian and disaster relief exercise hosted by Brunei, a counterterrorism exercise that the United States will co-sponsor with Indonesia, and a maritime security exercise co-chaired by Malaysia and Australia. For one Thai-led multilateral exercise called Cobra Gold, Thailand may invite the Burmese army to observe or participate when the exercise begins again in 2013. Senior defense officials said the United States, whose military ties with ASEAN member Burma have long been suspended, has taken initial steps toward the resumption of the military-to-military relationship with Burma and would not object to their participation in some aspects of the Cobra Gold exercise. On the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, Panetta said the message he has conveyed on this visit and during others to the region is that “the rebalance is real, it is sustainable and it will be ongoing … into the future.” The U.S. military has worked with friends, partners and allies in the Asia-Pacific region for more than 70 years, the secretary noted, trying to foster conditions that lead to economic growth, more effective governance and an effort to help lift millions from poverty and create a better future for generations to come. Increased military engagement in the region is one part of the effort by the United States to rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, Panetta said. “This effort includes not just military but diplomatic, economic and cultural engagement across the region,” he said, “and I know that President [Barack] Obama looks forward to discussing each of these elements of our rebalance when he arrives here for the East Asia Summit later this week.” Panetta said he stressed to his counterparts today that he is impressed by the continuing development of ASEAN-led efforts to enhance security. “As I stated at the last meeting,” he added, “we in the Pacific are part of one family of nations. We may not agree on all issues, but we are committed to work together to ensure the security of that family.”


By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

SIEM REAP, Cambodia, Nov. 16, 2012 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta met here today with his counterparts from 10 countries that are part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, during his first visit to Cambodia since taking office.

The meeting took place on the final day of Panetta’s weeklong Asia-Pacific trip -- his third this year -- to discuss the U.S. rebalance to the region with counterparts and government officials in Australia, Thailand and Cambodia.

ASEAN was formed in 1967. Its member states are Burma, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

So far as secretary, Panetta has visited five ASEAN nations -- Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia -- and held bilateral meetings with two others -- Malaysia and the Philippines.

“Today we reaffirmed the importance of ASEAN unity for building regional stability,” the secretary said during an afternoon news conference, “and also the United States’ support for ASEAN-led defense cooperation [in] critical areas including humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, maritime security, nonproliferation and counterterrorism.”

Panetta said he stressed in today’s meetings U.S. support for the protection of human rights, civilian oversight of the military, and respect for the rule of law and for the right of full and fair participation in the political process in Cambodia and throughout Southeast Asia.

“As I said last year [at the ASEAN meeting] in Indonesia and I stress again, we are committed to further strengthening the U.S.-ASEAN relationship,” Panetta said.

To reflect that commitment, he added, “the United States will increase the size and number of exercises that we participate in the Pacific with our Southeast Asian partners, and we are devoting new funding to this goal.”

The secretary noted that progress has been made toward action-oriented cooperation in the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus, in which ASEAN members partner with the United States and a range of other countries on defense efforts.

“The United States looks forward to participating in three new ADMM-Plus exercises in 2013,” Panetta said, including a humanitarian and disaster relief exercise hosted by Brunei, a counterterrorism exercise that the United States will co-sponsor with Indonesia, and a maritime security exercise co-chaired by Malaysia and Australia.

For one Thai-led multilateral exercise called Cobra Gold, Thailand may invite the Burmese army to observe or participate when the exercise begins again in 2013.

Senior defense officials said the United States, whose military ties with ASEAN member Burma have long been suspended, has taken initial steps toward the resumption of the military-to-military relationship with Burma and would not object to their participation in some aspects of the Cobra Gold exercise.

On the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, Panetta said the message he has conveyed on this visit and during others to the region is that “the rebalance is real, it is sustainable and it will be ongoing … into the future.”

The U.S. military has worked with friends, partners and allies in the Asia-Pacific region for more than 70 years, the secretary noted, trying to foster conditions that lead to economic growth, more effective governance and an effort to help lift millions from poverty and create a better future for generations to come.

Increased military engagement in the region is one part of the effort by the United States to rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, Panetta said.

“This effort includes not just military but diplomatic, economic and cultural engagement across the region,” he said, “and I know that President [Barack] Obama looks forward to discussing each of these elements of our rebalance when he arrives here for the East Asia Summit later this week.”

Panetta said he stressed to his counterparts today that he is impressed by the continuing development of ASEAN-led efforts to enhance security.

“As I stated at the last meeting,” he added, “we in the Pacific are part of one family of nations. We may not agree on all issues, but we are committed to work together to ensure the security of that family.”
 

Former CSAF nominated for The Order of the Sword

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


11/16/2012 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- With no stars, bars, eagles or oak leafs among their multitude of stripes, the enlisted force of the Air Force Special Operations Command nominated their former Chief of Staff of the Air Force for his induction into The Order of the Sword at Hurlburt Field Nov. 15.

Retired Gen. Norton Schwartz, accompanied by his wife, Suzie, accepted the nomination from Chief Master Sgt. Bill Turner, command chief of AFSOC, in front of more than 300 Air Commandos who lined the road along the distinguished visitor quarters' parking lot.

"We thank you for your 39 years of service," Turner said. "For those 39 years, you and Mrs. Schwartz were our best teammates. You gave it your all and took great care of this force. And because of you, we are the Air Force that we are."

The command chief then presented Schwartz, who served three tours at Hurlburt Field, a plaque bearing the nomination on behalf of the 11,000 enlisted men and women serving around the world under the AFSOC enterprise.

"We accept!" Schwartz said, to the applause of the crowd. "We remain an honorary chief here, so how sweet it is to close the book on this so many years later. Thank you very much."

The retired general, who once served as commander of the current 1st Special Operations Wing, remarked on the continuing legacy of the both AFSOC and the wing.

"It all started for us here in the fall of 1980," Schwartz said. "For those of who you don't think that amazing things can happen in our Air Force, this is proof. You're in a wonderful business. People know that if someone does bad things to America, this community will find them and make them pay. Do it professionally, do it discreetly, do it without fanfare --  you just do it. That's what you're a part of -- all of you. It doesn't matter what discipline -- everybody counts, especially in special operations."

Schwartz will become the eighth inductee into AFSOC's Order, an honor based upon significant contributions to the enlisted force.

"Thank you very much for this special treat for Suzie and me," he said. "We envy you, we miss it already. So it will be fun to watch you continue to improve and continue to make the mark of Air Force Special Operations and the SOW--any time, any place."

According to Air Force Instruction 36-2824, "The Order of the Sword was established by the Air Force to recognize and honor military senior officers, colonel and above, and civilian equivalents, for conspicuous and significant contributions to the welfare and prestige of the Air Force enlisted force, mission effectiveness as well as the overall military establishment."

The AFSOC Order of the Sword induction ceremony is slated for Feb. 1, 2013 at the Emerald Coast Conference Center in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Thankfulness and an oak tree

Commentary by Senior Airman Jarad A. Denton
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs


11/16/2012 - JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. (AFNS) -- What are you thankful for? The question followed me the entire, extended weekend, as I struggled to write this article. It followed me as I made my way through the historic sites of Virginia.

The air was unseasonably warm for November, as I walked through the remnants of Jamestown, Va. - America's first permanent English colony. The ground crunched beneath my feet as my shoes pressed into sand, dirt and stone that had seen the likes of such historical figures as John Smith, John Rolfe and Pocahontas.

As I weaved my way between brick foundations which had once been homes, my eyes caught sight of an oak tree that seemed strangely out of place. It was a live oak, dedicated June 15, 1965 to mark the 750th Anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta.

It seemed strange that a tree would be planted at Jamestown to honor a document written in a country which unsuccessfully tried to squash our own pursuit of freedom. However, during the American Revolution, the Magna Carta acted as both an inspiration and a justification for the defense of liberty.

It was June 15, 1215 in a field at Runnymeade, England when King John pressed his seal into a document that would change the world forever. Written by a group of rebellious barons, the document sought to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king.

"No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers and by the law of the land," the document stated. "To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice."

Similarly, the colonists, who had etched their mark into America from humble beginnings, believed and demanded the same rights as Englishmen. These rights, which were guaranteed in the Magna Carta, were later drafted into the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Centuries later, the Magna Carta is still regarded as one of the most important legal documents in the history of democracy.

"The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history," said President Franklin D. Roosevelt during his 1941 Inaugural address. "It was written in the Magna Carta."

The Magna Carta was more than just our history, I thought as I enjoyed the shade the oak provided. It could not be left to wither and turn to dust in the wind, especially during a month when people began looking into the things they were thankful for. This was more than our history - it was our identity. For a mere 180 years after Jamestown was founded in 1607, and some 300 miles north, a group of men came together inside the State House at Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation.

From those articles, through a series of discussions and debates, an entirely new government was formed - with the Constitution as its guiding light.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America," the document states in its opening lines.

While some of its framers regarded the Constitution as far from perfect, they did recognize the importance of its existence - if not the effect it would have on the world and generations to come.

"I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them," wrote Benjamin Franklin in a speech he wished to give prior to the signing of the Constitution's final draft. "In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us..."

An imperfect document for an imperfect world; but, from its pages came the birth of a nation that would idealize the principles of a democratic society. As I moved on from the oak tree, I realized what I was most thankful for this holiday season.

I was thankful for liberty. I was thankful for freedom. I was thankful for the sacrifices made by countless people throughout hundreds of years to lead us to the point where I could walk freely across the land and appreciate the rich history behind it. I was thankful for those who came before me who contributed to the shaping of this nation.

But, most importantly, I was thankful for America.

Navy Squadron Earns Phoenix Award for Field Maintenance

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2012 – A California-based Navy squadron is this year’s winner of the Phoenix Award for field-level maintenance, part of the Secretary of Defense Maintenance Awards, officials announced yesterday during the 2012 DOD Maintenance Symposium and Exhibition in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 77 from Naval Air Station North Island was singled out as the best of the best among active and reserve organizations performing unit or field-level maintenance, officials said.

HSM-77 was the first Navy fleet squadron to transition to the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter. It provided Carrier Air Wing 2 and Carrier Strike Group 9 with combat-ready aircraft and equipment and executed the first MH-60R deployment to the 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility in fiscal 2011.

The squadron’s maintenance personnel completed more than 38,000 work orders, performed 100,800 hours of maintenance, supported 7,168 hours of mishap-free flight hours, and executed 2,344 sorties with a 97 percent completion rate, all while achieving 84 percent mission-capable and 78 percent full-mission-capable rates.
Officials noted these acc
omplishments took place while HSM-77 was devising and implementing an extensive training plan made necessary by a 45-percent turnover in maintenance personnel. That plan resulted in the qualification of additional collateral duty inspectors, quality assurance representatives, and landing signal enlisted personnel, among others, to support an upcoming surge deployment, officials said.