Military News

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

CSAF, CMSAF agree with Minot's motto..."Only the Best Come North"

by Senior Airman Jose L. Hernandez
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs Office


11/21/2012 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (AFNS) -- Warbirds and Rough Riders at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., reaffirmed why "Only the Best Come North," during a visit by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Roy here Nov. 20 and 21.

As part of Welsh's first visit as chief of staff to the Air Force's only dual-nuclear capable base, Airmen from the 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing showcased their dedication to strategic deterrence by providing the leaders a first-hand look at their mission.

After visiting several units and work centers on base, the passion and pride exhibited by Team Minot's Airmen was evident to the Air Force's top leaders.

"What I love about this place is the pride I see in you all, from security forces members to maintainers," Welsh said during an Airman's Call.

The story of Minot's Airmen is one the chief of staff wants the whole world to know about. While the bomber and intercontinental ballistic missile forces quietly and successfully do their job, he said they need to be recognized for having a 100 percent success rate since their initiation.

One of the main objectives of his visit here was to personally learn the story of Minot's Airmen and how they continually give their all for the strategic mission, even in the harshest of weather conditions and unforeseen hardships like last year's historic Souris River Flood, which displaced approximately 1,200 Minot Airmen and their families.

He recognized many are far from home and may not be accustomed to the North Dakota prairies, but because of their sacrifices, there has not been a stronger mission focus for the Air Force.

The nuclear enterprise is the Air Force's number one priority and, "we are not going to lose focus of that," stated Welsh.

While the mission is extremely important, both leaders stressed it is the individual Airman who makes the mission a success.

"We continue to develop Airmen," the chief said. "We focus on their education, their training and ensure they gain the experience needed to complete their job."

Welsh maintained that through innovative ideas and accomplishments of past Airmen, the Air Force continues to be the best in the world and that is the key to the Air Force's future.

"There is no comparison," said Welsh. "We adjust and change but we will continue to be the best Air Force."

During their address to Team Minot Airmen, both Welsh and Roy focused on key issues facing the Air Force and made it clear Airmen should look out for one another as brother and sister because that is one of the most important factors that can positively impact a work environment and make for a safer, more successful and resilient force.

With it being Thanksgiving Eve, Welsh and Roy thanked Team Minot Airmen and their families for the sacrifices they endure, and congratulated Minot on their recent victories at this year's third annual Global Strike Challenge.

"Your motto holds true," said Roy. "You are it, you are the best."

U.S., NATO Consider Turkey Request for Missile Support

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2012 – The U.S. will work closely with its NATO allies to determine the best way to respond to a recent request from Turkey for Patriot missile support, a defense official said today.
Turkey is seeking to deploy the Patriot missiles along its southeastern border in an effort to de-escalate crisis conditions due to the civil war in neighboring Syria, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement.

“The deployment would be defensive only,” Rasmussen said. “It will in no way support a no-fly zone or any offensive operation.”

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in a Nov. 15 Voice of America interview that the U.S. was talking with Turkey about the threats to its security. “Turkey is obviously facing a difficult situation as refugees pour into their country and they're threatened by the instability in Syria,” he said.

“They have asked that we work with them to try to see what we can do to give them some missile defense capability,” he continued. “And we are working with them. And our hope is that we can help provide that kind of assistance."

“If approved, the deployment would be undertaken in accordance with NATO’s standing air defense plan,” Rasmussen said. “It is up to the individual NATO countries that have available Patriots -- Germany, the Netherlands and the United States -- to decide if they can provide them for deployment in Turkey and for how long.”

“We will remain in close dialogue with our NATO allies as we work through this request for support. We take Turkey's concerns very seriously,” the defense official said.

Airmen learn vital combat skills

by Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs


11/21/2012 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- Crack, crack, crack.

A whirlwind of excitement and confusion spurred around the camp. Gunfire echoed through the tents as the Airmen scrambled to find cover.

They peered out from the safety of makeshift bunkers as they searched for the source of the sound.

Reports flooded across the radio of a team outside the wire with an unconscious young captain in tow.

"Get positive control of the casualty and return to base immediately," came across the radio.

Just then, the alarm for incoming mortar fire sounded, and the Airmen outside the perimeter hit the ground and braced for an explosion.

The cold, soggy ground quickly turned to mud and the wind managed to cut through the bundles of layers, uniforms and chemical protective gear they wore. Water engulfed one poor Airman as he dove for the ground and landed in a puddle of water, the cold of which he would have to endure for the next 12 hours.

Although this was a controlled scenario and not in an actual combat environment, Airmen from the 606th Air Control Squadron spent 72 hours braving the frigid German weather and spending every minute of it guarding their base to prepare them for the real thing.

The exercise prepares them for the worst, said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Messing, a Bremerton, Wash., native who runs the combat readiness training course these Airmen experienced.

The course combined two weeks of classroom instruction with three days of practical exercise. The trainees set up a bare base camp and defended it at all costs, surviving scenario after scenario from the instructors and mock enemy combatants.

"They can set up in the middle of nowhere, deploy a radar site and have to defend their own base," said Messer.

It is the physical application of every lesson learned in the past two weeks, and they must react accordingly to exercises by implementing proper use of force, securing unexploded ordnance and being aware of their surroundings.

The field training is meant to overwhelm the trainees, creating a sort of stress inoculation, Messing said. It is also unique because the 606th ACS has a lot of support Airmen who normally would not deal with combat or austere deployments.

"Not everyone gets training like security forces, but when these Airmen come to an (air control squadron), you have to learn how to fight and defend the objective," he said. "If they can survive here with what we throw at them, they have a better chance when the real thing happens."

The 606th ACS is a rapidly deployable unit that can quickly pack up and convoy to any location in the European theater to set up radar sites and control air assets from strategic remote locations. Because the unit is self-sufficient, it needs everyone at the same combat capacity. Every new member must complete the training.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Amanda Bailey, a data systems technician from Cocoa Beach, Fla., has never dealt with training like this, but enjoyed working with other Airmen from around the squadron with whom she would not normally work and learning critical skills that may be used in the future.

"You're going to mess up, but the beauty of it is that it's a controlled learning environment," Bailey said.

Navy Chief Visits Gulf, Listens to Sailors’ Concerns

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2012 – Sailors want Navy leaders to work on avoiding sequestration and improving deployment rhythms, the Chief of Naval Operations said during a telephone interview from Bahrain today.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of Naval Operations, shakes hands with Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Rollinson during an all-hands call aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore in the 5th Fleet area of responsibililty, Nov. 20, 2012. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Shawnte Bryan
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert told reporters that his trip to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Gulf “is about listening and learning” from sailors.

Sailors are concerned about the possible impact of sequestration, Greenert said.

“It is difficult for our sailors … to digest what exactly happens if sequestration kicks in,” he said. “We talked about the fact that military personnel [accounts] are exempt. So they found that kind of encouraging. On the other hand, there are civilian personnel here and they are not exempt. Furloughs, early retirements are alternatives that are out there. We very much want the Congress to resolve this.”

Greenert was referring to massive, across the board cuts in federal spending that would take effect in January if Congress and the White House cannot come up with a plan to reduce the budget deficit by then.
Sailors are also concerned about deployments. “We need to look at the individual’s deployment tempo -- we call it I-tempo,” the admiral said.

For example, a petty officer who deploys with a ship works as part that ship’s operational tempo. But if that petty officer is reassigned to another billet, “and it is scheduled to deploy in a month, that ship’s operational tempo might be relatively low overall, but your individual tempo is high,” he said. “We need to measure tempo by individual and we can do that.”

Greenert will spend Thanksgiving with sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower and the cruiser USS Hue City. He has already visited Djibouti. The admiral wants to find out what’s on sailors’ minds and hear their concerns.

The admiral said it’s important that he meets with sailors as they perform their work in theater.

Greenert said he’ll evaluate the sailors’ input and make adjustments as needed “to make sure they have the right tools, that they are proficient in what they are doing, that we prepared them well and that they are confident in their assignments and the things they have to do.”

In Djibouti, the admiral met with commanders and sailors assigned to Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa. He went over the various projects sailors are involved with, including humanitarian relief, disaster assistance and building partnership capacity.

“It’s really about synchronizing the effort in [U.S.] Africa Command throughout East Africa,” Greenert said.
The admiral moved on to the USS Mount Rushmore -- part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group. The ship is working with the Kuwaiti navy and exercised with visit, board, search and seizure operations and convoying exercises. The ship and its sailors will be working with the Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates’ navies through the New Year, he said.

In Bahrain the admiral visited the USS Sentry, a mine countermeasures ship, and the USS Chinook, a patrol craft. The Chinook’s crew demonstrated the upgraded guns on the craft and Greenert called the Sentry’s crew “really a proud group.”

The ship joined 5th Fleet over the summer, and it participated in the international mine exercise. “They had the Sea Fox equipment being installed as I was there,” the admiral said. The Sea Fox is an unmanned underwater mine neutralization vehicle.

Reporters asked Greenert about the amphibious ready group steaming toward the eastern Mediterranean. The violence in Gaza necessitated moving the USS Iwo Jima, the USS Gunston Hall and the USS New York to the eastern Mediterranean and extending the group’s deployment. The Iwo Jima group will bring a wide-spectrum of capabilities, the admiral said.

“It’s tough to say what they could be used to do,” Greenert said. The group could be used for everything, he said, from power projection to maritime security to visit, board, search, seizure to noncombatant evacuation operations to just sea-control of the area.

“All of those capabilities exist and our job is to make sure we are up and ready if tasked,” Greenert said.

CES Airmen prepare for MRAP rollovers

by Airman 1st Class Phillip Houk
460 Space Wing Public Affairs


11/21/2012 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BACE, Colo. -- 460th Civil Engineering Squadron Airmen performed mine resistant ambush protected emergency rollover and egress training Nov. 15 at Fort Carson.

"We had a sudden large influx of new Airmen," said Master Sgt. John Keller, 460th CES unit deployment manager. "These individuals have not had the opportunity to do deployment training or deploy."

MRAP training simulates the dangers associated with a military vehicle roll over, complete with full 360 degree movement. Airmen are trained to safely exit the vehicle, assist injured personnel, and secure the perimeter.

"In the event that the vehicle is flipped over you need to be able to get out of the vehicle safely and securely because it is likely on fire or you could be in danger," said Staff Sgt Timothy Henderson, 460th CES emergency management NCO in charge. "Also getting out of an upside down vehicle is much more difficult than just getting out of a vehicle.

"The training allows the Airmen to feel the effects of being upside down and know the steps to get out, so that even if for some reason they are not able to follow all of the steps covered today, they can remember this training," Henderson continued.

The group of specialized Airmen assigned to the 460th CES are responsible for maintaining the base where they are stationed or deployed to. Their responsibilities are spread across the base, and range from routine maintenance to working on the flight line

U.S., U.K. talks prove success at New Boston

by Staff Sgt. Robert Cloys
50th Space Wing Public Affairs


11/20/2012 - NEW BOSTON AIR FORCE STATION, N.H. -- For the first time, New Boston Air Force Station, New Hampshire, hosted talks with the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense Nov. 7 and 8.

Twice a year for the past seven years, the United States, through Air Force Space Command, and the U.K. Ministry of Defense, met to discuss issues and the site status of Oakhanger Tracking Station, call sign LION. The talks typically alternate between Oakhanger and Air Force Space Command Headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. After the spring 2012 talks in England however, the 23rd Space Operations Squadron volunteered to host the fall meetings.

LION is a geographically separated unit of the 23 SOPS who oversee operations, maintenance and facility support for the site.

The base is a British military installation with a U.S. military mission and is physically located in the village of Oakhanger, Hampshire, U.K. The site has conducted operations in support of the U.S. Air Force since 1978.

The unique partnership is mutually beneficial. The U.S. is able to strategically position its antennas, and in return, the U.K. is able to utilize those antennas to operate British communications satellites.

"The United Kingdom is one of our strongest partners and this relationship is very important to both countries," said Lt. Col. David Hanson, 23 SOPS commander. "Plus, it allows the U.K. to have access to space."

Topics covered at the talks included spectrum issues, support plan annexes, a five-year project outlook, site familiarization and finances. Attendees included Squadron Leader Dempster Hamilton, TCS Oakhanger base commander, Maj. Nate Case, the 23 SOPS operations officer assigned to LION and other notable distinguished visitors from both the U.S. and U.K.

"These discussions are integral to understanding and solving complex foreign relations, contracting, financing and general state of health issues at Oakhanger Tracking Station," said Hanson. "As LION is the busiest of the seven tracking stations in the AFSCN, it is important we continue to meet with our British counterparts to work through these issues and ensure operations and support functions continue to flourish."

8th CEIG member retires after distinguished 46-year career

by Capt. Casey Osborne
688th Information Operations Wing Public Affairs


11/20/2012 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Bob Meadows, 38th Operations Support Squadron Operations Support Flight chief, ended his 46-year government career here Nov. 3 after an informal lunch among coworkers and family Oct. 26, which his coworkers said was fitting for his humble demeanor.

"He didn't want a formal ceremony," said Pam Moulin, 38th OSS director, "just a small lunch with friends."

Despite what his coworkers considered an unassuming attitude, Meadows has had an outsized impact on the military during his career.

As the commitment to cyberspace operations has grown in the Air Force, the scope and complexity of the 38th Cyberspace Engineering and Installation Group mission has grown as well.

"No matter what form our mission took--from anti-terrorism and disaster recovery efforts on Tinker, to training engineers for installation projects in dangerous areas or conditions around the world, to showcasing our personnel and capabilities in expertly managed facilities, Bob Meadows was the person I could always call on for the absolute right answer to protecting people, assets, and capabilities," said Col. Cynthia Wright, 38th CEIG commander. "He's such a repository of institutional knowledge, and such an integral part of the functioning of this group, I don't think we'll fully grasp the magnitude of his absence for many months, if not years, after he says goodbye."

Meadows' career of service began nearly half a century ago with a short enlistment in the Army, as well as assignments supporting operations in Southeast Asia, Japan, Germany and state side installations. He held various positions within the Air Force related to safety and civil engineering project management.

Meadows said one of his proudest moments came when he was selected to lead the hazardous materials assessment team after a major fire on Tinker in 1984. The blaze consumed $57 million in facilities and spread over 13 acres. The disaster put 3,000 personnel temporarily out of work and exposed widespread asbestos insulation, representing a threat to the health of those workers still on the job.

For six months, he and his unit worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, clearing the area of dangerous chemicals and substances. Because of his efforts, none of the personnel employed in the affected area experienced negative health effects from asbestos exposure.

Meadows also has a history of finding innovative solutions that, when applied across the Air Force, have saved massive amounts of money and greatly increased personnel safety. One such instance occurred in 1993, when he suggested that the Air Force adopt a four-gas atmospheric monitoring system to protect technicians working in confined spaces. At the time, the service only tested for oxygen and combustible gases. Meadows' solution included tests for hydrogen sulfite and carbon monoxide, both potentially harmful when individuals are working in cramped areas. This innovation greatly reduced risk factors for civil engineering personnel.

Asked to reflect on his decades of work, Meadows offered a simple secret to his success: become an expert. Whenever he assumed a new position, he tried to become the smartest man in the room so that nobody could doubt his competence.

"If I took on something, I tried to become as knowledgeable as I could through regulations and networking," he explained.

Meadows' coworkers say he leaves huge shoes to fill when he takes his well-earned retirement.

"There's no aspect of our operations that he didn't have a hand in securing, shaping, or improving," said Colonel Wright. "We thank him for his decades of selfless service to his nation and to Tinker AFB. He will be sorely missed."

Wolf Pack volunteers English teacher

by Staff Sgt. Tong Duong
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


11/21/2012 - GUNSAN CITY, Republic of Korea -- More than 25 Wolf Pack members were honored by their Korean students and the schools they volunteer at, during a recognition dinner hosted by the Gunsan office of education, Nov. 20 in Gunsan City, Republic of Korea.

Students from some of the 30 Gunsan elementary and middle schools showcased their English language skills in various songs and performances, to show their appreciation to the Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea Airmen.

Kang Seung-Gu, Gunsan City deputy mayor, thanked the volunteers not only for taking time out of their busy schedule to help Korean students improve their English skills, but for saving them money as well. The price for one-on-one tutors can cost a student more than $500 per months, he noted.

Col. Douglas Nikolai, 8th Fighter Wing vice commander, also thanked Wolf Pack members for their dedicated service to the local community.

"On behalf of Col. John Pearse, 8th Fighter Wing commander, thanks for your graciousness, we also appreciate all Wolf Pack members here giving their time and extending their English knowledge to the Korean students here in the community," Nikolai said. "This is one more example of the great relationship we have in support of the Good Neighbor Program between the base and the community. We would like to keep that going not only at Kunsan, but throughout the peninsula with the US and the Nation of Korea."

N.Y. Guard to help Sandy victims over Thanksgiving holiday

By Col. Richard Goldenberg
New York National Guard

Click photo for screen-resolution image
NEW YORK (11/21/12) -  As Americans prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, more than 1,100 members of the New York National Guard continue their support of Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts or augment New York City

law enforcement at transportation centers for the single largest travel day in the nation.   

Nearly 900 Guard Soldiers continue to support recovery operations in New York City, conducting door-to-door wellness checks in Far Rockaway. The National Guard, working in partnership with local authorities, visited more than 850 residences to assess local needs.

Other Soldiers will assist in the delivery of holiday meals to storm-affected families at 14 distribution centers as well as logistical support to city relief centers on Staten Island and Far Rockaway.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo coordinated thousands of food items donated by Costco, Delta, ShopRite and Walmart to be packed and delivered by the National Guard Soldiers to impacted New Yorkers in New York City, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley on Wednesday.

Cuomo visited the Five Towns Community Center in Lawrence, Nassau County and the Rockaway Point Fire Department in Breezy Point, Queens on Wednesday to help distribute dinners.

"This Thanksgiving, we wanted to ensure that New Yorkers impacted by the storm can still celebrate the holiday with their loved ones," Cuomo said.

More than 250 other members of the New York National Guard's standing security force in New York City, known as Joint Task Force Empire Shield, returned to their security duties this week after three weeks of rescue and storm recovery efforts.

The task force Soldiers and Airmen will rejoin New York Police Department, Port Authority of New York New Jersey Police and other law enforcement agencies in security arrangements aimed at protecting holiday travelers.

The New York National Guard members will be on duty at key transportation sites, such as JFK airports, Grand Central Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

New York has had National Guardsmen on duty full-time in New York City assisting with security since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Osan Airmen take Combat Fitness Challenge

by Staff Sgt. Stefanie Torres
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


11/21/2012 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Staying fit in a deployed environment may make the difference is saving a life, and Osan Airmen recently challenges themselves to the Marine Combat Fitness Test Oct. 26, 2012, to see where their abilities ranked against their sister service.

Approximately 86 Airmen showed up for the test, an event the Marines have to run semi-annually for a total of 300 points.

"There are three separate events," said Capt Joshua Freeland, 607th Air Support Operations Group Marine liaison. "The movement to contact, an ammo can lift, and the maneuver under fire."

Airmen were required to sprint a half a mile in full uniform, lift a 30-pound ammo can in as many repetitions possible above the head over the course of two minutes, and maneuver under fire events combining a shuttle run, grenade throw, buddy carry, fireman's carry, ammunition drag, sprints and low and high crawls.

Although the test may be a fun challenge to accept, taking the course over and over again may not be the desired outcome, he explained.

"Everybody's exhausted when they finish one way or another," Freeland said. "Some people tell me that they never want to run it again, but they do tell me that they had a lot of fun while doing it."

Safety monitors who have taken the test before came out to ensure proper techniques were used to eliminate injury during the events, explained the captain.

"We've got about 26 individuals that I trained to put together and run a CFT," he said. "The fact that they were really motivated enough to go out and grab those personnel and bring them here for this event worked out really well."

As a big Marine Corps historian, Freeland saw the CFT as an applicable measure for the Air Force as well as the Marines.

"I was going through some of the photos of the Army Air Corps in Iwo Jima, and the conditions they were serving in only led me to believe that it was more applicable for the Air Force members to be able to do something like this because whether you're running across a flight line under enemy fire or towards enemy fire, there's benefits to the event for everybody no matter where you come from or what you do," he said.

"This was a great turnout," said Lavessia Souravong, 51st Medical Operations Squadron medic. "Even though a lot of people where exhausted everyone seemed to have a great time."

Relationships facilitate mission success

by Lt. Col. Tony Retka
35th Fighter Squadron Commander


11/21/2012 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- A mentor of mine once said, "Relationships matter, that's how we get things done in the Air Force."

My squadron recently deployed to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska to conduct training on one of our nation's premier air-to-surface bombing ranges in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex.

Among other tasks, our training plan involved conducting close air support missions with US, Canadian and Belgian special operation ground forces.

We coordinated for months to ensure the range and airspace would be available for our use during our scheduled fly window. The Friday prior to our first flights, the range control officers informed us , the special operations forces would not be able to access the range due to a scheduling mix up. As a result, our squadron would not be able to conduct our training and employ our scheduled munitions as planned.

After some inquiring, we learned there was a U.S. Army aviation battalion scheduled to conduct their annual training at the same time, on the same range as our squadron. Range management informed us that the range memorandum of agreement stipulated the Army had priority for scheduling and use of the range.

Needless to say, I was not very pleased with this information since we had planned for many months and spent a lot of money to ensure we could accomplish this training. Range management was not willing or able to coordinate range time for us and it appeared that we would lose out on some very valuable training.

Having spent three years at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where I attended Army Command and General Staff College and followed on to teach Air Force doctrine to Army majors, I gained an understanding for how things get done in the Army.

I thought if I were able to talk with the Army aviation battalion leadership, we might be able to work out a solution at the unit level to ensure all parties involved could get their desired training objectives accomplished.

Since the Army was conducting field training with very limited communications capability, the most expeditious way for me to talk to them was to go visit them in the field. Two of the special operations soldiers, one of my flight commanders, and me jumped in a vehicle and drove out to their forward operating base to meet with their operations officer.
We opened the meeting by offering up a small token from the Eielson AFB Class Six store and explained to them our situation along with our training objectives. After the forty-five minute meeting we were able to work out a mutually beneficial arrangement that would allow all parties to accomplish their missions and get their desired training.

The positive outcome of this meeting and the fact that my squadron was able to achieve the objectives of our deployment was a direct result of a professional relationship formed between the battalion operations officer and myself. We were able to bypass the middleman (range control) and coordinate a solution to meet the commander's intent for two services from three nations.

SecAF talks Pacific airpower

by 2nd Lt Sarah Bergstein
36th Wing Public Affairs


11/21/2012 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFNS) -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley met with Team Andersen Airmen at an Airman's Call here Nov. 20.

The secretary discussed several topics of national and international interest, to include the importance of Guam in the Asia-Pacific region, restructuring the size of the Air Force, changes in the Air Force's inventory and the current state of the Air Force budget.

During his two-day trip to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, he also visited with many Airmen, thanking them and their families for their service and sacrifice.

"It's been said before, but it's still true," Donley began. "Our Airmen, along with their families, joint colleagues and other services, make countless sacrifices to serve our nation and to keep America secure. Our nation depends on you to conduct your missions and maintain vigilance, and this is a 365 day-a-year job."

Guam has been an important part of the United States for more than a century. Secretary Donley highlighted that the spotlight is focused on the region even more so now since the release of the new defense strategic guidance in January.

"The direction from this strategic guidance calls on our nation to 'focus on a broader range of challenges and opportunities, including the security and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region' as today's wars end," he said. "The guidance also makes clear that while the U.S. military will continue to contribute to security on a global basis, we will -- in necessity -- rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region."

Guam is said to play an increasingly important role as forces are realigned in the region. For the Air Force specifically, this builds on a long history of U.S. presence on Guam and in the Pacific.

The U.S. territory offers many military advantages, like its strategic value as the westernmost sovereign territory and home base to Northeast and Southeast Asia, which aids in ensuring peace and stability in the region.

The Asia-Pacific region spans more than 100 million square miles and 15 time zones. Today, about 60 percent of the Air Force's permanent forces outside the continental United States are postured in the region.

"The rebalance to the Asia-Pacific provides an opportunity for the Air Force to leverage the unique characteristics of airpower with range and speed," said Donley. "The armed forces structure rebalancing means the Air Force will invest in modernizing capabilities to project power and operate effectively in this region.

"For the past eight years Andersen has accommodated a continual presence of our nation's premier air assets," he said. "Its importance is only expected to grow, serving as a cornerstone to the new joint-training initiatives here in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands."

Secretary Donley said that Andersen AFB will continue to serve as the strategic and operational nucleus for U.S. military operations, originating from or moving through in support of training, or in building regional partnerships, humanitarian relief or other operational needs.

"The Air Force is committed to protecting critical infrastructure in this area in support of U.S. Pacific Command's strategy," he said. "Andersen (AFB) can be proud of its many achievements."

Team Andersen Airmen had the opportunity to ask Secretary Donley questions regarding personnel and budget cuts, changes in the Air Force's inventory with regards to Andersen AFB, the military buildup on Guam as well as questions concerning the quality of life of Airmen.

"We face difficult choices," Donley said, "But with our priorities in mind we can still take care of our people and modernize our systems to provide our nation with the global vigilance, reach and power it requires and our allies have come to rely on."

Donley recognized Team Andersen for its key role in providing peace and stability in the region through the continuous bomber presence and theater security packages, among other capabilities, as well as their participation in joint and coalition exercises, operations and humanitarian relief efforts.

"Our Air Force and our country need you to be great at what you do every day," he said. "You deserve to be proud of your important work here at Andersen (AFB)."

JTAC trainees collaborate with aircrew for FTX

by Airman 1st Class John Nieves Camacho
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


11/21/2012 - CRESWELL, N.C. -- Trudging over rocky terrain, navigating through dense woodlands and tackling highly stressful situations is just another day on the job for joint terminal attack controller trainees; however, they had the chance to train with F-15E Strike Eagle aircrews during a field training exercise here, Nov. 15.

JTACs act as air support liaisons between ground forces and aircrew members.

"Participating in local training exercises with JTACs provides crucial training for both aircrew and ground parties," said Maj. Thomas Moore, 335th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations. "It ensures that the United States combat capabilities are honed and sharpened when the time calls. In layman's terms, this is our scrimmage to make sure we succeed on game day."

JTACs support service members on the ground in overseas contingency operations ensuring that someone high above the sky has their backs in life and death situations.

"As JTACs we provide final guidance for aircrew when they release their munitions," said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kyle Gutowski, 682nd Air Support Operations Squadron JTAC trainee, from Pope Army Air Field, N.C. "We are the eyes and ears on the ground for the pilots and weapon systems officers."

The FTX placed the trainees in a simulated wartime environment, demanding them to accurately and efficiently coordinate with aircrew to destroy various targets.

"Training is important because this is an extremely dangerous job," Gutowski said. "We are dropping 2,000 pound bombs, if you mess up one tiny thing you can have civilian casualties."

To ensure a realistic experience, F-15E Strike Eagles and aircrews from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., provided support during the exercise.

"It's a great opportunity to get out here and actually do the job as opposed to doing it on a simulator," Gutowski added.

Prior to the field training exercise, the trainees must pass through five simulated missions and a JTAC qualification course exam.

"(The training) is extremely stressful," Gutowski said. "The instructors throw a lot at you because they want you to be task-saturated and be able to multi-task."

QF-16 arrives for testing, advances 53rd WEG mission

by Ashley M. Wright
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


11/21/2012 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group marked an important milestone in continuing to prepare the warfighter for tomorrow's threats as the first QF-16 drone arrived for developmental testing at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 19.

"The work done prior to today and the test work that is forthcoming will enable the Air Force to transition from a 3rd generation, Vietnam-era aerial target performance to 4th generation threat replication and beyond," said Lt. Col. Lance Wilkins, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron commander.

The QF-16 is a supersonic reusable full-scale aerial target drone modified from an F-16 Fighting Falcon. At this time, the 53rd WEG uses QF-4s, made from 1960s F-4 Phantoms, to conduct their full-scale aerial target missions. The targets allow the Air Force and allied nations to have a realistic understanding of what they could face on the battlefield.

"In the imminent future, the QF-16 will take air-to-air testing and evaluation to the next level," Wilkins said. "It will make our American and Allied aircrew, aircraft and weapons more reliable and more lethal. It will serve a new generation of warriors."

Boeing Global Services and Support will conduct testing on the QF-16, according to a Boeing press release.

The QF-16s will undergo approximately six months of testing to validate their capabilities and ensure compatibility with the Gulf Range Drone Control System, explained group officials. Next, the aircraft will deploy to Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., for approximately four more months of integrated testing. When all test milestones are complete, the aircraft will return permanently to the 53rd WEG to complete a transition period in order to achieve initial operational capability at Tyndall.

The first production QF-16 is scheduled to be delivered in 2014.

As the Air Force prepares 5th generation fighters such as the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for the next battlespace, the group acts as a safety net to ensure our weapons capability is fully evaluated and understood prior to use in combat, said Col. James Vogel, 53rd WEG commander.

"It is a big day," Vogel said. "We are 100 percent behind the road to IOC for the QF-16."

The colonel added that the day was only possible with the work of many organizations such as all of Team Tyndall and contractors.

The 53rd WEG, which falls under the 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., provides the personnel and infrastructure to test and evaluate weapons utilized by the combat air forces of the United States and its allies. The group operates the only full-scale aerial drones in the Defense Department.