Monday, November 26, 2012

NCO earns Bronze Star

by Senior Airman Nick Wilson
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

11/26/2012 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo -- An Airman with the 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron was presented the Bronze Star for meritorious service at a ceremony here Nov. 20.

Tech. Sgt. James Hoskins, 509th LRS quality assurance inspector, was presented the award by Brig. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, 509th Bomb Wing commander.

"For what it represents, [receiving the award] is very humbling," Hoskins said. "I'm just thankful I was even considered for it, let alone awarded it. It's a very big deal, so I'm pretty happy."

Hoskins served on a one-year deployment from July 2011 to July 2012 as a combat fuels advisor to the Afghan National Army Materiel Management Center, which is part of the Strategic Operations branch, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan.

As a combat advisor, his primary duty was to train and equip the Afghan National Army.

"I scheduled convoys, moving all classes of supply throughout the country, from the main capital center to areas throughout the region," he said.

By equipping troops for the fight, Hoskins' actions directly contributed to coalition efforts on the frontlines.

"None of our advisor team could train the security missions and teach Afghans how to fight with weapons if they weren't getting the supplies they needed," Hoskins said.

Hoskins' daily routine also focused heavily on patrols outside the wire, patrols which were conducted six days a week.

"I had more than 420 combat patrols under my belt during the duration of the deployment," Hoskins said. "Most of the time, I was the lead 240-Bravo gunner, so...traveling on roads with vehicle-born improvised explosive devices, and being at risk to combatants with firearms, was a constant threat."

Hoskins had to work above both his pay grade and outside his area of expertise while deployed with joint and coalition forces. His deployed responsibilities differed greatly from those in his job at Whiteman, where he serves as a quality assurance inspector.

Hoskins said the switch from an on-guard tactical mentality to that of a strategic combat advisor was quite a challenge.

"Here, we get so focused at what we're doing at just one base or within a MAJCOM," Hoskins said. "Over there you were seeing how what you did impacted national-level logistics."

With an eventful schedule of combat patrolling and advising, Hoskins' days sometimes lasted 16 or 17 hours.

"Carrying 80 pounds of gear for multiple days is mentally and physically fatiguing," Hoskins said. "And I never had time to recover. I never got a day off to just sit and relax and let my mind run free because I was constantly being tasked."

Working an entire year without a day off was not the only challenge for Hoskins.

"The differences in the U.S. and Afghan cultures [were] also a difficult adjustment," Hoskins said. "Saturdays were the start of our weeks. The one day we did not roll outside the wire was Fridays, which we spent developing programs, answering emails, attending meetings and hosting video teleconferences."

Overall, Hoskins' duties were extremely stressful because of the challenges he faced outside his scope of expertise.

"There were times when we executed tasks on what seemed liked an unrealistic timetable, but we as the junior enlisted force always pulled up our boots and made it happen," Hoskins said.

One of Hoskins' major accomplishments was compiling a 106-page document that provided Afghans step-by-step procedures for core processes.

"I took the decade-old document, wiped the slate clean and wrote them a more comprehensive one," Hoskins said. "It was routed up to the Afghan National Command and signed by their Minister of Defense."

After the signing, the document was released to the Afghan National Army for immediate implementation.

"Arriving to the area as a young staff sergeant who just pinned on technical sergeant, Hoskins was advising an Afghan National Army full-bird colonel," said Chief Master Sgt. Scott Fujimoto, 509th LRS squadron superintendent. "With U.S. Forces and coalition partners, Hoskins stepped up to each challenge, keeping the mission moving forward."

Commander announces safety award winners

11/26/2012 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga.  -- Lt. Gen. James Jackson, commander of Air Force Reserve Command, announced AFRC's safety award winners for fiscal 2012 in a memorandum Nov. 19.

General category award winners are:

Safety office of the year - 910th Airlift Wing, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio

Safety officer (primary duty) - Lt. Col. Ricky G. Adams, 452nd Air Mobility Wing, March Air Reserve Base, Calif.

Safety officer (additional duty) - Capt. Michael R, Murphy, 18th Air Refueling Squadron, McConnell AFB, Kan.

Flight safety award winners are:

Aircrew of distinction award - Scout 12, 970th Airborne Air Control Squadron, Tinker AFB, Okla.

Outstanding achievement award for flight safety - 910th AW Safety Office, Youngstown ARS

Pilot of distinction award - Lt. Col. Stephen G. D'Amico, 339th Flight Testing Squadron, Robins AFB

Ground safety award winners are:

NCO of the year (primary duty) - Tech. Sgt. Jennifer L. Sears, 419th Fighter Wing, Hill AFB, Utah

NCO of the year (additional duty) - Master Sgt. Robert M. Wynn, 512th Maintenance Squadron, Dover AFB, Del.

Civilian of the year - Justin D. Johnston, 442nd FW, Whiteman AFB, Mo.

Weapons safety award winners are:

Outstanding achievement award - 452nd AMW Safety Office, March ARB

Civilian of the year - Travis G. Stewart, 419th FW, Hill AFB

NCO of the year - Senior Master Sgt. George Caprioli

The award winners will represent the command at the Air Force-level competition.

CSAF, CMSAF visit Malmstrom AFB

by Airman 1st Class Cortney Paxton
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

11/26/2012 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Roy visited Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., Nov. 19 and 20 to meet with Airmen and see the base's nuclear deterrence mission.

Welsh and Roy spoke at an Airman's Call where they emphasized that Airmen, driven by pride, do their best when performing their jobs and accomplishing the mission.

"In our business, great people plus pride equals performance," Welsh said. "And we only have one bottom line in this business, and that's performance. The American people are going to judge us on one thing: do we win the next war."

Comprehensive Airman Fitness -- caring for Airman and families -- has an important role in that, according to Roy.

"The whole idea and essence behind this is to know each other and to know yourself; to know your breaking point and be able to work through that," Roy said. "Know your buddy's breaking point -- your wingman's breaking point -- and be able to work through that. And this also goes for your families."

While visiting Malmstrom Air Force Base, the Air Force leaders met with Airmen who support the Air Force's nuclear enterprise through specialized capabilities. This included first responders like fire protection, explosive ordnance disposal and security forces during an emergency responder expo. Following the expo, the two visited the 341st Medical Group and 341st Maintenance Group for additional tours and discussions with Airmen.

Betty Welsh and Paula Roy also visited with the Airmen of Team Malmstrom. They toured the Airmen's Center and Grizzly Bend where they spoke to Airmen and Family Readiness personnel and key spouses about the programs available to support Airmen, families, retirees and the community.

Welsh and Roy wrapped up their tour of Malmstrom at a luncheon with various members of wing leadership. This luncheon was a chance for the squadron commanders, wing chiefs, the Airman Executive Council, the 5/6 Alliance Council, and others to talk with the Air Force's senior leaders.

During the lunch, Welsh underscored what he said about performance during the Airman's Call.

"Folks, our job is to fight and win the nation's wars," Welsh said. "It's an ugly job. It's a really ugly job some days, but if your job is to do that -- to defend your nation and your people -- then you'll never be good enough at it. So every day you come to work, you ought to be trying to get better at it."

Commentary: This is how we do

by Chief Master Sgt. Michael Warner
Command Chief, Air Force Materiel Command

11/26/2012 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The other night I was driving home from work listening to the radio. A commercial came on for Mountain Dew and Jason Aldean, a popular country singer, said, "This is how I do" -- then went on to explain his life philosophy. Later I saw a commercial with another music star that was advertising for Mountain Dew. He also said, "This is how I do" and explained his philosophy. That "how I do" tagline prompted me to think about what we do as NCOs. In essence, "this is how we do."

This is how we do: the mission. As Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III said, "No one will care how well you take care of your people if we lose the next war." NCOs understand the priorities of the Air Force, our command, our center, our wing and our squadron. We know how important it is to educate our Airmen on the mission so they know what they are driving toward and how their actions are instrumental in getting that mission done.

This is how we do: values. NCOs know, care about and enforce our core values. We embrace, preach and live the guidelines set forth in our Enlisted Force Structure, and we absolutely embrace the responsibility to train our Airmen in their specialty, to be masters at their trade, and to teach them how to be professional Airmen.

This is how we do: priorities. NCOs know what is important. People are important. What is going on in their lives is important. Development of our Airmen is important. Discipline is important. Fitness is important. Honest, direct feedback and honest evaluations are important. Leadership by example is important. Open communication with Airmen is important. Face-to-face interaction is important.

This is how we do: conviction. NCOs know when to stand up for what we believe -- standards, discipline, core values, EPR ratings that are earned. When something needs to be said, NCOs say it. When something needs corrected, NCOs correct it. If someone has earned recognition, NCOs make it happen. We cannot just go with the flow, be silent or ignore problems. Because we stand up for what we believe, inaction is not part of our behavior.

This is how we do: leadership. First, NCOs know leadership is hard work. For every one leader, there are 1,000 critics. This does not deter us. Hard work is expected; hard work is given. There is no room for laziness in good, old-fashioned NCO leadership. Being an NCO is tough, but so what -- it wouldn't be as critical to our Air Force, our mission or our Airmen if it weren't tough. We earned the promotion because our leadership knew we could do it.

Second, once we've proven ourselves up to the challenge, NCOs realize that leadership is a gift given by those that follow. Being in charge and being a leader are not the same thing. NCOs know the difference and we know it is us who determines where we stand. NCOs embrace that leadership isn't a popularity contest -- it is about living up to what it means "to serve" and to be called Sergeant. We know Airmen don't want a soft leader. They want someone who will push them to be the best they can be, to challenge them, to discipline them, to listen to them and to care about them.

Finally, NCOs use digital as a tool, not a leadership method. NCO leadership is all about one-on-one, face-to-face, daily dialogue with our Airmen. Being an NCO means training them and leading them in person, not by absentee means. Just because it is quicker to send an email or make a phone call does not mean it is the best way to lead.

This is how we do: the Wingman Concept. People are our most valuable resource ... period. As the saying goes, people will never care how much you know until they know how much you care. Every Airman has a story -- why they chose to serve, what they hope to accomplish, what degree they want to earn, where they want to be assigned. NCOs know those stories because we ask, because we care, because it is part of being an NCO. We know where our Airmen live, who they are married to or dating, what their kids' names are, if their parents are sick. NCOs care about our Airmen and our Airmen know we are there to help. This is part of developing resilient Airmen for our Air Force.

This is how we do: honor. NCOs know being an NCO means something. It isn't about the pay. It isn't about the privileges. It isn't about the amount of time spent in the Air Force. It means something to be a leader of Airmen and to be entrusted with their development. It means something to be called Sergeant or Shirt or Chief. It means something because of all the great NCOs that have come before us and set the stage. We know we have to live up to all of that.

As NCOs, this is how we do!

Face of Defense: Soldier Keeps ‘Comms Up’ for Exercise

By Army Sgt. Katryn Tuton
50th Public Affairs Detachment

FORT BRAGG, N.C., Nov. 26, 2012 – It is an unusual Thursday morning when Army Spc. Sean Locke gets to skip physical training. Usually, he would be outside in the winter cold, more than likely running from one place to another and back again.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Spc. Sean Locke establishes communications with the Fort Bragg Operations Center during an assault command post exercise on Pope Army Airfield, N.C., Nov. 15, 2012. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Katryn Tuton

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
But there is a good reason why he’s not running at 6 a.m. In addition to being a computer systems repairer, he also is a member of Task Force Bragg’s assault command post.
The roughly 60 members of the ACP are a vital element of maintaining 18th Airborne Corps forced entry capabilities into a hostile country. They work hand in hand with the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division and support the infantry element with communications, medical, intelligence and command capabilities.

So, instead of PT, Locke reported to his company area to test and prepare the radios that will tumble out of airplanes in the rucksacks of paratroopers.

“I’m proud to be a part of the [ACP], because only a select amount of people get to do it,” said Locke, who serves with Company C, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 18th Airborne Corps. “My company commander came to me personally and asked if I wanted to be a part of it, so I feel privileged to have the opportunity to do this.”

After preparing for the night’s exercise, the regular work also has to be done. Before he could get out of the room where the radios are secured, another soldier asked for Locke’s help installing a radio into a vehicle for a weapons qualification range that afternoon.

“That’s just part of my job,” said Locke, who installed a radio into Humvee and established communications with range control. “I set up the radio last week, so I was asked again because they knew I could do it.”
Later, at a nearby baseball field, Locke and the rest of the communications team set up their radios in a dugout to stay out of the rain. With antennas sticking out through the chain-link fence, the soldiers practiced jumping out of planes and organizing themselves on the drop zone.

All radios successfully communicated with the Fort Bragg Operations Center, and the paratroopers repacked their gear into their rucksacks. They loaded onto buses for the short ride to Green Ramp, where their C-130 Hercules aircraft was staged.

The soldiers waited in the passenger terminal until the sun went down, but at 6 p.m. the jump was cancelled because cloud cover was too low for jumpmasters to ensure the drop zone was clear of hazards.
Locke shrugged off the cancellation.

“I honestly don’t mind,” he said, laughing. “It’s good training, and I understand why we do it, but it hurts when you hit the ground with an additional 70 pounds of gear.”

Instead of completing the exercise with the airborne jump, the group moved to a nearby field and simulated landing on the drop zone.

Using night-vision goggles to see in the dark, the team rallied at a designated point and headed in small groups toward the patrol base that was being set up. After an accountability check for personnel and equipment, the radiomen started working toward establishing communications with the Fort Bragg Operations Center and the designated secure tactical satellite.

Locke unfolded a small antenna and began radio checks. Within a few minutes, he gave a thumbs-up and called “comms are up” to the operations commander.

“Commo is our weapon,” said Army Col. Bruce Parker, operations officer for 18th Airborne Corps and commander of the exercise. “If we can’t talk, then we aren’t any good. “Our whole job is to get out here and establish communications, be able to shape conditions for the unit that’s jumping in with joint fires, joint intelligence, so we are feeding them information. If you can’t talk, you are just another rifleman on the drop zone, no matter what your rank.”

Communication is important because it’s the only way leaders can communicate and work as one team, said Locke, who along with five other soldiers was able to establish comms with the operations center. But the two soldiers establishing contact with the tactical satellites weren’t having as much luck.

“The cloud cover is making the signal come in and out. We can’t get a solid lock,” said Army Spc. Robert Mitzek, the satellite RTO for the command group.

While the soldiers continued to try to establish satellite communication, others performed medical evacuation and perimeter security training.

Thirty minutes later, Parker called everyone together to discuss the exercise’s successes and challenges. Then the group loaded back onto the buses and returned to the company area. The radios and weapons were secured, and after a short briefing, the soldiers were released to go home.

When Locke got home around 11:30 p.m., he found that his wife, Heather, had left food out for him.
“The hours are just part of being in the Army,” Locke said. “What matters is that the training teaches us something, and there were soldiers out there that had never done this in the dark. It’s always good training when at the end of it we can say we learned something.”

Capitol Christmas Tree makes pit-stop

by Airman 1st Class Jose L. Leon
22nd Air Refueling Wing

11/26/2012 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan.  -- The 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree arrived on the west lawn this morning after spending the night at McConnell Air Force Base, Kans., Nov. 16, 2012, on its way from Colorado.

The Capitol Christmas tree has been a tradition since 1964 when a live tree was planted on the west lawn of the Capitol. The Department of Agriculture Forest Service began providing trees in 1969.

Each year a tree is harvested from a different national forest and 2012 marks the third time that Colorado has provided a tree.

This year's tree came from the Blanco Ranger District of the White River National Forest near Meeker, Colo., and makes its journey after 74 years in the forest.

"I hope everybody can enjoy the tree," said Paul Krisanicks, U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer. "It's been wonderful, seeing the turnout with the stops we've been making."

While the tree was on base, Airmen and visitors had the opportunity to sign the banner surrounding the trailer that will then be hung on display with the tree.

"I wanted my daughter to be able to see the tree that is going to be displayed in front of the Capitol," said Staff Sgt. Megan Hay, 22nd Medical Operations Squadron medical technician. "I didn't realize how big it was, it's really neat to be able to see it like this."

After the night stay at McConnell, the crew and tree continued on their eastbound journey to the Capitol arriving at Andrews AFB, Md. Sunday.

Speaker of the House John Boehner will officially light the more than 70-feet tall tree during the Tree Lighting Ceremony Dec. 4. Following the ceremony, the tree will be lit from dusk to 11 p.m. each evening through Dec. 26.

Editors note: Air Mobility Command Public Affairs contributed to this article.

317th Airlift Group awarded Meritorious Unit Award

by Airman 1st Class Charles V. Rivezzo
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

11/26/2012 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The 317th Airlift Group received the Meritorious Unit Award in recognition of their superior accomplishments from July 2011 to June 2012.

This award is given to units that show exceptional meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding achievement or service in direct support of combat operations for at least 90 continuous days.

The unit qualified for this award by making tremendous and singularly distinctive contributions in support of the United States tactical airlift objectives, Air Mobility Command's global airlift mission and the direct support of overseas contingency operations.

"This award is very special to me because every member of the group contributed to earning it," said Col. Walter H. Ward, 317th Airlift Group commander. "Teamwork is the enabler of all our successes, and I'm pleased to see our group recognized for getting the job done in a manner true to service before self. There are so many reasons to be proud of the Airmen and families of the 317th Airlift Group; this is just one more to add to the list. I'm very proud of all of them and humbled to be part of this magnificent team."

According to the award citation, 317th AG personnel executed 9,359 sorties that delivered over 137,391 personnel and 27,940 tons of cargo in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, New Dawn and Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa.

These efforts were instrumental to the closure of combat operations in Iraq while sustaining the surge in Afghanistan. These missions included Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance data collection, medical evacuation and psychological operations.

Additionally, the dedication of the men and women of the 317th AG is marked by 3,116 consecutive days deployed throughout the world.

This is the third time the 317th AG has received the MUA.

Members assigned to the group from July 2011 to June 2012 are authorized to wear the MUA ribbon for supporting Overseas Contingency Operations.