Military News

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Language Enabled Airman Program announces selections

Air Force Culture and Language Center

11/27/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Foreign language experts from around the Air Force recently met at the Air Force Culture and Language Center, part of Air University's Spaatz Center for Officer Education, to select the latest participants for the Air Force's Language Enabled Airman Program. More than 500 people from across the Air Force applied, and on Nov. 8, officials notified 206 Airmen of their selection to LEAP.

The recent selection board was unique, said Jay Warwick, AFCLC director. For the first time since the program's activation in 2009, a large number of enlisted candidates were able to apply.

"We are thrilled to announce the selection of 73 enlisted Airmen into LEAP," Warwick said. "As a relatively new program, we had to limit the application eligibility during previous boards. We hope that we are able include other categories, such as Air Force Reservists, Air National Guardsmen and Department of Defense civilians in the near future."

LEAP is a career-spanning program to select, develop and sustain foreign language capability and cross-cultural competence. The program seeks to provide the Air Force with leaders who have working-level foreign language proficiency, and to select those leaders from across all Air Force career fields, added Zachary Hickman, the AFCLC's Language Division chief. Airmen must have some foreign language ability to apply, he said.

The selected applicants bring a wealth of language ability with them. The 37 foreign languages represented included Afrikaans, Swahili, and Hindi, among others.

Program officials said that the LEAP selections were shaped by Air Force requirements, and that applicant board scores were based primarily on the need for their language within their Air Force specialty code, defense language proficiency test scores, overall academic portfolio (with emphasis on foreign language course performance), record of officer performance or enlisted performance report, commander's recommendation, and potential for success in achieving and maintaining a high level of language proficiency throughout their Air Force career.

"The world is growing more interconnected," said Warwick. "Commanders have a need for cross-culturally competent Airmen -- individuals with language, cultural and regional abilities to help them accomplish the global mission. LEAP is a great way to ensure our leaders have those capabilities when they need them."

LEAP members are already using their language and cultural abilities in real-world missions. Participants have served as interpreters for Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, as well as worked with the Department of State and the Department of Energy in China. Additionally, several LEAP participants recently provided support to a combined training exercise at Hurlburt Field, Fla., with the Polish air force.

Two LEAP selection boards will be held in 2013, a board for enlisted members in the spring, and a board for officers and cadets in the fall. For more information on LEAP, and to check for application period dates, see the AFCLC's website at www.culture.af.mil.

Spirituality looks different on all Airmen

by Lea Johnson
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer


11/27/2012 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Spirituality means different things to each individual. Some go to worship, some meditate, some hike. Whatever a person does, spiritual fitness is an important part of overall well-being.

The spiritual pillar is one of the four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness, and it may also be the most complicated to understand and measure.

According to Chaplain (Capt.) Joe Watson, the spiritual aspect of an individual is whatever faith or religion they have, or don't have.

"(Spirituality) is part of their life and it means something in their life. They rely on their faith or their God for strength and help," he said. "There are people who do not have a particular religion or faith or who may not even believe in a god. Some[of them] would say, 'I still am a spiritual person, I still have spirituality.' Sometimes it means they hang out in nature and get peaceful there. Or they meditate and relax."

Tech. Sgt. Scott Devine, chapel programs NCO in charge, agreed that spirituality is a peaceful feeling. "It's that peaceful place where harmony can be found," he said.

The spiritual pillar can be one of the hardest to measure how fit a person is.

"It's easy to say I made an excellent on my PT test or I flunked," Watson said. "Faith is not something that you see. It's something hidden inside a person. It is very difficult to measure and I would say the person themselves knows best how they feel."

There are a variety of ways people can grow spiritually. Watson and Devine both recommend reading scripture or other religious material, prayer and attending worship.

They also recognize that there are those who do not have a religion. Those individuals may want to try hiking, running, meditating or reading as a way to grow spiritually.

"Spirituality doesn't mean you have to be religiously seeking prayer or things of that nature. Spirituality could be sitting in your room quietly reading a book," Devine said.

The coming holiday season can be especially hard for Airmen who may not get to spend time with their families.

"The holidays slow us down and remind us of times we have with our family. That makes us homesick, that makes us sad, it gets us down and mentally wears us out," Devine said.

Throughout 2012, the Air Force has focused on each of the four pillars, but inside each individual the pillars are more woven together.

"When I look at the four pillars I don't look at them as separate things because you can't separate a person out into their components," Watson said. "Physically if you're feeling bad, you're probably going to be feeling bad mentally too. They all interact with one another."

The chapel has resources for those who may be looking for something spiritually or just want to talk to someone.

"Chaplains are here to serve people and we respect people. Just because we don't have the same religion or faith or spirituality as someone, doesn't mean we're not able to help them," Watson said. "Even if you don't believe in God, come talk to me if you need help. We don't have to talk about God, we don't have to talk about faith. We're here to serve everybody no matter where they are spiritually."

Training Service Dogs Helps Heal Service Members

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

BROOKVILLE, Md., Nov. 27, 2012 – The phrase, “a dog is man’s best friend” has new meaning for service members undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.


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Rick Yount, executive director of the Warrior Canine Connection, works his Golden retriever, Huff, on heeling at his Brookeville, Md. home. Huff is wearing a service dog vest that was made by a former Navy SEAL who was treated at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Md. Service members in treatment train the Labradors and retrievers as service dogs for mobility impaired veterans. DOD photo by Terri Moon Cronk
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
While in treatment, service members can join a program to train dogs for veterans who are mobility impaired, said Rick Yount, executive director of Warrior Canine Connection.

“There are tens of thousands of warriors who are trying to transition back [into society]. There are also thousands of veterans on waiting lists who need trained service dogs,” Yount explained.

At NICoE, Yount encourages service members to volunteer for the program, especially those who might not respond to traditional treatment.

“I tell them, ‘While you’re getting treatment, here’s an opportunity to help train a dog for a veteran. You’re still a part of the war effort,” Yount said.

He said it’s not just training a dog -- the service members are doing it to care for their fellow veterans.

The relationships developed between the service members and the dogs are symbiotic, Yount said, adding that the dog training is an intervention for their post-trauma stress.

Service members who join the dog training program at NICoE go through basic commands, and then move on to more complex tasks such as opening doors, turning on light switches and pulling wheelchairs, said Marine Corps Sgt. Jon Gordon, a former NICoE patient and now an intern in service-dog training.

Diagnosed with PTSD and TBI following two deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan, Gordon said when traditional therapies didn’t seem to work for him, he was sent to Yount. Not enthused at first, Gordon said, he soon saw the power of training dogs.

“Working with them, you have to learn to regulate your emotions and tone of voice,” he said.
The NICoE service members are taught to give authoritative commands, and praise the dog in a high-pitched, excited voice, Yount said.

It only took a few sessions with a black Labrador named Birdie for their relationship to click, Gordon said.
Gordon said he’d stayed in his apartment and avoided people, ordering in pizza for meals. But after meeting Birdie his life changed dramatically, he said.

Now when he has appointments at a Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Gordon said he has to arrive early to answer all the questions about the dog. No longer avoiding people, Gordon said he is instead raising awareness of the service dog program for mobility-impaired veterans.

“When the veterans see Birdie, their faces just light up,” he said.


Gordon plans to become an occupational therapist, using dogs with patients.

“It changed my life,” Gordon said of the service dog program. While he used to get little sleep, he now gets about six hours each night, because Birdie is close by.

“It saved me from being a nobody and just another statistic,” he said.

“When you see him making progress, it’s rewarding,” Gordon said of Birdie, “You see how you actually make a difference in training the dog.”

Birdie “gave me a reason to get up in the morning and do something,” Gordon added.

Yount said it’s the release of the hormone oxytocin in the body that relaxes people who are around a dog.
“It’s a powerful drug,” he said.

Yount said the two goals of the program involve encouraging the healing capacity of the service member and motivating them to engage in the power of the warrior ethos. He recounted a visit from a member of Congress at NICoE, who asked a service member what he got out of the canine training.

“He told him, ‘Before I started training this dog, my wife and I were getting ready to divorce,’” Yount said. ‘I treated my 3-year-old son like a stubborn private. I used the “praise voice” on him, and it really taught me how to connect with my 3-year-old son on a 3-year-old level.’”

But training dogs is not an easy task, Yount said.

“Dogs have a natural ability to challenge leadership. Training is based on patience and assertiveness. It’s a process,” he said.

And the dogs learn how service members with PTSD and TBI react, Yount said. Those suffering from PTSD tend to keep to themselves but “a dog won’t let you do that,” he said.

“We have to come up with ways of retraining these warriors, because they go through training to keep their emotions from interfering in combat, and the trauma they experience in combat has that emotional numbing impact,” Yount said. “Then how do we reboot them to 'come back' when they [return home to] infants, toddlers and teenagers?”

The next step is research, Yount said.

“We want to prove it and look at its efficacy,” he said of the dog and service member bonding,” he said. “We want to maximize the therapeutic effect of working with these dogs.”

DOD Aids Sandy Recovery, Urges Authorization Bill Passage

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27, 2012 – The Defense Department continues its assistance with Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, Pentagon Press Secretary George E. Little said here today.


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Pentagon Press Secretary George E. Little briefs the press on top defense issues in the Pentagon Briefing Room, Nov. 27, 2012. DOD photo By Glenn Fawcett
  

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About 1,000 National Guardsmen and more than 300 Army Corps of Engineers personnel remain in New York and New Jersey, he said.

“Our personnel have made a significant contribution to the recovery effort,” Little said.

“Since the storm struck, the Army Corps of Engineers has installed 198 power generators in critical locations, and removed over 475 million gallons of water at 14 strategic sites -- the equivalent of 720 Olympic-sized swimming pools. They’ve also removed more than 340,000 cubic yards of debris,” he said.

In addition, more than 9 million gallons of fuel and more than 6 million meals have been delivered to affected areas by the Defense Logistics Agency, Little said.

The fact that DOD can carry out such large-scale operations while simultaneously conducting operations in Afghanistan and around the world is a testament to the department’s high level of readiness and its ability to plan for a wide range of potential contingencies, he said.

“I point this out because if Congress does not enact defense authorization legislation for fiscal year 2013 in a timely fashion, it could seriously hamper our ability to plan and to operate,” Little said.

A number of adverse situations will arise if Congress fails to pass the 2013 Defense Authorization Act, he said.

“For example, important new military construction projects -- including critical infrastructure upgrades -- could not be initiated,” he said.

“Authorities to provide counterterrorism support to law enforcement agencies and several important counter-narcotics authorities -- including support to the government of Colombia -- would expire,” Little said.

For service members, bonuses and special incentive pay would end, Little said, hurting troop morale and potentially impacting recruiting and retention.

These examples explain why -- beyond preventing sequestration -- one of Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s highest priorities for the current Congressional session is for lawmakers to pass the defense authorization bill, he said.

“In the coming days, it is his hope that Congress comes together to help this department accomplish this mission by acting on this critical legislation,” Little said.

Africa mission brings Kentucky National Guard member home By Sgt. Jared Smith HHB 2/138th Field Artillery Regiment Click photo for screen-resolution image Pfc. Ismaila Pam, of Louisville, discusses his ties to Africa while on a mission there. (Courtesy photo) open link in new window download hi-res photo CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti (11/27/12) - Most Soldiers from the 2/138th Field Artillery Regiment hail from Kentucky. Others are from Indiana, Florida and New York. But one bright, young Soldier calls Africa his home. Pfc. Ismaila Pam, an Automated Logistical Supply Specialist from the 2138th Forward Support Company (FSC) of Louisville, was born in Mauritania, Africa, and grew up in Senegal. “Growing up in Africa was a good life.” Pam said, “Everyone in the area is your family, you own most everything that you have to include your home, and electric was very cheap.” When asked how he ended up in the United States from such a far-away continent, Pam said that his father lived in the United States for about 18 years. His father decided to stay in Louisville because he had many friends in the area and he enjoyed the American lifestyle. He settled down and decided to bring his family from Africa. By age 18, Pam completed high school and two years of college in Senegal before moving to Kentucky. Although he could speak three languages, Wolof, Fulani and French, and could read and write Arabic, he didn’t know English. Upon his arrival in Kentucky, he had to go back to high school to learn the language, which brought his total to four languages that he is able to speak. Shortly after his arrival to Louisville, Pam started working as a bus boy in the same restaurant as his father. While on breaks, he could see through a kitchen window how hard his father worked to provide for his family. Pam decided that he was going to find another job trade to be able to help his father so he decided to join the Kentucky National Guard, which enabled him to get a steady paycheck as well as be close to home. When asked how his family feels about him joining the military, he said his father is very proud of him but his mother isn’t too happy about it. She worries about his deployment. Pam stated that it doesn’t bother him and he wants to continue to serve because it is something that he loves dearly. Pam has family who still reside in Africa, to include his grandfather, aunts, uncles and an older brother. If he gets the chance, he would love to be able to visit them while on his deployment. With his unit in Africa, Pam is looking forward to all the possibilities that lie ahead. “It’s very exciting, because we are going for peacekeeping and not war,” he said with a smile.

By Sgt. Jared Smith
HHB 2/138th Field Artillery Regiment

Click photo for screen-resolution image
CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti (11/27/12) - Most Soldiers from the 2/138th Field Artillery Regiment hail from Kentucky. Others are from Indiana, Florida and New York. But one bright, young Soldier calls Africa his home.

Pfc. Ismaila Pam, an Automated Logistical Supply Specialist from the 2138th Forward Support Company (FSC) of Louisville, was born in Mauritania, Africa, and grew up in Senegal.

“Growing up in Africa was a good life.” Pam said, “Everyone in the area is your family, you own most everything that you have to include your home, and electric was very cheap.”

When asked how he ended up in the United States from such a far-away continent, Pam said that his father lived in the United States for about 18 years. His father decided to stay in Louisville because he had many friends in the area and he enjoyed the American lifestyle. He settled down and decided to bring his family from Africa.

By age 18, Pam completed high school and two years of college in Senegal before moving to Kentucky. Although he could speak three languages, Wolof, Fulani and French, and could read and write Arabic, he didn’t know English.

Upon his arrival in Kentucky, he had to go back to high school to learn the language, which brought his total to four languages that he is able to speak.

Shortly after his arrival to Louisville, Pam started working as a bus boy in the same restaurant as his father. While on breaks, he could see through a kitchen window how hard his father worked to provide for his family.

Pam decided that he was going to find another job trade to be able to help his father so he decided to join the Kentucky National Guard, which enabled him to get a steady paycheck as well as be close to home.

When asked how his family feels about him joining the military, he said his father is very proud of him but his mother isn’t too happy about it. She worries about his deployment. Pam stated that it doesn’t bother him and he wants to continue to serve because it is something that he loves dearly.

Pam has family who still reside in Africa, to include his grandfather, aunts, uncles and an older brother. If he gets the chance, he would love to be able to visit them while on his deployment.

With his unit in Africa, Pam is looking forward to all the possibilities that lie ahead.

“It’s very exciting, because we are going for peacekeeping and not war,” he said with a smile.

924th Fighter Group reaches milestone in November

by Tech Sgt. Meredith Mingledorff
944th Fighter Wing


11/20/2012 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The 924th Fighter Group reached a major milestone during the November Unit Training Assembly by conducting A-10 formal course pilot training sorties.

"This is a great day for the Air Force Reserve," said Col. John S. Russell, commander, 924th Fighter Group. "Being able to do everything in-house adds a critical layer of self-sufficiency and increases mission success. Being aligned with Luke Air Force Base, puts the 924th in with other training units who are all focused on the same goal...producing more pilots. We've been fully integrated with our Active Duty teammates working side by side. Now we're taking another step. Adding flying during UTA allows us to increase student pilot production for the Air Force as a whole. It's a win-win and adds flexibility to the entire flying schedule."

The new group has been recruiting and training personnel for two years. During that time, unit members have been working side-by-side with 355th Fighter Wing's active duty personnel executing the A-10 pilot training mission.

Lt. Col. Terry McClain, commander, 45th Fighter Squadron, indicated that his squadron of instructor pilots have been integrated with the 355th FW since 2008 and routinely fly approximately 20 percent of formal course missions. One of the most significant things his instructors bring to the Davis-Monthan mission is their experience, he added.

"45th Fighter Squadron pilots average more than 2200 A-10 hours and more than six years of experience flying formal training unit missions," said McClain.

The Fighter Group was activated in December 2010, and since then, the Tucson-based unit has been recruiting, hiring, and training Reservists locally to maintain and launch the Thunderbolt II A-10 attack jet.

"It has taken us two years of hard work to build the maintenance squadron to the point of being able to produce and fly sorties," said Chief Master Sgt. Roy Close, 924th Maintenance Squadron superintendent.

"The cooperation and acceptance of our personnel by the host unit 355th Operations and Maintenance Groups has been tremendous. This is a true Total Force Integration success story," said Lt. Col. Shirley Mercier, commander, 924th Maintenance Squadron.

"We have a great team and I have no doubt we will be totally successful in our mission because we have knowledgeable and skilled Airmen, who have lots of experience in their professions both on active duty and as Reservists," said Russell. "I'm grateful and honored to have been selected as the first group commander here."

"The 944th is proud of the work being done by the 924th Fighter Group down in Tucson," said Col. Jose Monteagudo, 944th Fighter Wing commander . "They're good at what they do and it's an honor to have them in the wing. Launching and recovering our own missions are important accomplishments, and I have no doubt this is this beginning of great things from this outstanding team!"

Contract award helps keep BACN airborne

by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs


11/21/2012 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The Space, Aerial and Nuclear Network Division here recently awarded a firm-fixed-price contract to Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. for long-term platform maintenance on four E-11A aircraft.

The current amount awarded is $48 million, which is for a one-year base. There are four one-year options, which could eventually bring the value to $260 million.

The E-11A aircraft are modified Bombardier business jets outfitted with the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, or BACN, payload that enables interoperability across voice and datalink networks. It also provides beyond-line-of-sight capability and voice and data relay to allow for critical communications between air and ground forces.

In addition to the business jets, BACN is also installed on three Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft.

"BACN can relay and broadcast a variety of information and is currently being used very effectively by warfighters throughout the theater of operations," said Maj. Bill Holl, program manager. "By awarding this contract we can ensure continued maintenance is performed on the E-11A aircraft to keep this crucial capability available to the warfighters."

Program officials expect this work to be complete by February 2018. The contract is in support of the BACN Joint Urgent Operational Need, or JUON, and the majority of the performance is expected to be done in Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

"We had a full and open competition, which allowed us to make sure we got the best value for the government and, ultimately, the taxpayer, and also ensures the E-11A aircraft are maintained in the most effective and efficient manner to support tactical communications," said Holl.

The BACN JUON program began as an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration in 2006 to meet the challenges associated with operating in mountainous terrain, such as limited line-of-sight. In 2009, it became a Joint Urgent Operational Need program to provide support to Operation Enduring Freedom.

"The BACN program was initiated to provide increased situational awareness for our warfighters by allowing for connectivity between dissimilar systems," said Holl. "The team continues to look for ways to optimize BACN's capabilities and provide even more support to the warfighter."

Since the first aircraft with BACN deployed in 2008, the fleet has flown more than 3,000 missions and 30,000 hours in support of OEF.

"The program office continues to receive praise from warfighters and commanders alike saying how BACN is a game changer," said Holl.

Grand Forks AFB officer helps bring home missing Vietnam heroes

by Senior Airman Susan L. Davis
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


11/26/2012 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- An officer stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base traveled thousands of miles earlier this year to return to his birth country of Vietnam for the first time in eight years.

But Capt. Huy Tran wasn't there to reunite with his own family or friends. His mission was to help search for and recover missing Vietnam War personnel, a rewarding experience Tran says he won't soon forget.

In cooperation with the Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC), and the Language Enabled Airman Program (LEAP), Tran played a vital role as a Vietnamese linguist on a recovery mission to bring home service members missing from the Vietnam War Era.

LEAP is operated by the Air Force Culture and Language Center at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. It is designed for those who have some existing language capability, and targets early-career Airmen most likely to take fullest advantage of language learning, maintenance and assignments.

Tran, who speaks and writes Vietnamese fluently, said he wanted to participate in LEAP because he was looking for a way to contribute his language skills to the military.

"LEAP has taken my language skills to another level and allowed me to utilize them to serve the Air Force," he said. "Programs like LEAP are what make the U.S. military second to none."

JPAC, on the other hand, conducts global search, recovery and laboratory operations to identify unaccounted-for Americans from past conflicts in order to support the Department of Defense's personnel accounting efforts. According to their website, JPAC continues to search for more than 83,000 Americans still missing from past conflicts.

This mission had a deeper meaning for Tran, who was born and raised in Vietnam until he was 11.

"As a son and grandson of South Vietnamese veterans, this recovery mission is dear to my heart," Tran said. "My father and grandfather were camp prisoners during the war. My grandfather served five years, and my dad served four years and 11 months in the prison camps."

Following his father's release from the prison camps, Tran and his family were offered an opportunity to relocate to the United States. They left Vietnam to pursue a new life in Rock Hill, S.C.

"After I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to be in the military," he said. "I never thought that being in the military would one day bring me back to Vietnam as a service member. It's completely changed from the time I left; Americans are more welcome now and the attitudes and hatred are no longer there."

Tran said he was excited when he found out he would be going on a recovery mission to search for missing Americans.

"I was thrilled that I was finally able to use my special language skills to contribute and serve," he said. "Being there gave me insight into what happened that day. It let me imagine what it would've been like to be in their situation. It makes you realize the importance of the mission."

The first leg of Tran's journey with his team took him from Hawaii, to Thailand, and finally to a rural area of Vietnam, where the objective was to locate a crew of American sailors who had gone missing during a flying mission in the conflict.

The opportunities offered through LEAP, coupled with those offered by JPAC, allowed Tran to put his language skills to special use by translating between his team members and Vietnamese government officials and other locals.

"I would translate everything for them, including negotiating the areas where we would be working, what materials and how many workers we would need," Tran explained. "They also needed me for everyday things, like buying equipment to do our work, or ordering food."

One of the most vital aspects of Tran's job as a team linguist, however, was interviewing witnesses to help narrow down the location and the circumstances where the service members first went missing.

Tran and his team negotiated with government officials to set up an area to camp, and an area to clear out some of the dense vegetation at the top of the mountain where the missing sailors were thought to be.

"By going through the rice fields, dense jungles, and up the mountain, it helped me relate to the time during which the crew got shot down," he said. "When we arrived at the crash site, we found aircraft parts lying everywhere. That moment was so surreal. It sent chills down my spine seeing so many aircraft pieces scattered on the ground. We knew then that we were in the right place."

Once those remains were uncovered and collected, they were sent to JPAC's Central Identification Laboratory, the largest and most diverse forensic skeletal laboratory in the world. Scientists from JPAC use circumstantial evidence, and forensic identification tools including dental comparisons and radiograph comparisons to analyze and identify remains.

Upon completion of the recovery mission, Tran and his team retraced their steps back home, first to Thailand, then to Hawaii, and finally to their respective destinations.

Tran said he looks forward to participating in more recovery missions like the one he completed earlier this year.

According to the Defense Prisoner of War and Missing Personnel Office, since 1973, the remains of more than 900 Americans killed in the Vietnam War have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors. Today, more than 1,600 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. The U.S. government continues to work closely with the governments of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to recover its missing warriors.

"This JPAC mission was one of the most emotionally rewarding missions that I've had the honor to take part in," Tran said. "Most importantly, I was given a chance to bring heroes home to their families, and their final resting place. There is no greater satisfaction than knowing that those families can finally have answers and closure."

Military OneSource Connects Troops, Families to Resources

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27, 2012 – As the Information Age continues to shape modern communication, the Defense Department has revitalized and consolidated the Military OneSource website to better serve military members and their families, a Pentagon official said in a recent interview.

Zona Lewis, military community outreach online and resource operations manager, told the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service that the Military OneSource overhaul incorporates new functionalities, enhanced social media platforms and multiple access methods.

“We took this opportunity to look at industry best practices, to look at social media capabilities and to investigate making a mobile platform,” Lewis said. “People are accessing information on their phones and iPads today. They’re not waiting until they get home or back to the office to get that information on a computer.”

The revamping, Lewis said, comes at the behest of President Barack Obama, who sought an overall reduction of government websites, prompting DOD officials to have Military OneSource absorb MilitaryHomefront.

“We looked for commonalities to merge the sites,” Lewis explained. “Though MilitaryHomefront had a service and family member component, it was … geared toward leadership and service providers [seeking] family programs, policy and reports.”

Officials therefore transferred the leadership and service provider information from soon-to-be retired MilitaryHomefront to the Military OneSource umbrella, Lewis said.

“We … met the expectations we had for the site. We wanted the content to be easy to find, [with] the website easy to use,” Lewis said, adding that user-driven content enables more customizable information.
“You can see what other people are looking for and see if they’re [seeking] the same thing,” Lewis said, adding the social media aspect of the site enables users to “retweet,” “like” and share mobile- and tablet-friendly information through personal networks.

Lewis noted the particular usefulness of the locator and directory widgets, which enable users to type in their installation and instantly connect to local resources and relocation assistance.

Military OneSource also provides round-the-clock consultants available worldwide to assist with family life topics ranging from moving to nonmedical counseling referral, including anger management and communication skills.

“Military OneSource offers 12 nonmedical counseling sessions per issue per person in your family at no cost,” Lewis said.

“[This] is your quality of life program so call, click and connect. We’re there for you.”

Navy, DoD, Developer Announce Wind Farm Agreement to Preserve Training Mission in South Texas



By Kenneth Hess, Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environmental Readiness Division Public Affairs

KINGSVILLE, Texas (NNS) -- Officials from the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of the Navy (Navy), E.ON Climate & Renewables North America, LLC (ECRNA), and Petronila Wind Farm, LLC, owned by ECRNA (Petronila Wind), announced a memorandum of agreement (MOA) Nov. 27 to allow the developer to build and operate new wind turbines in Nueces County, Texas, while working to protect the Navy's ability to continue its training mission at NAS Kingsville and NAS Corpus Christi.

Representatives from each organization participated in a ceremony and base tour to commemorate the agreement.

Signatories to the agreement include Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment, John Conger; Principal Deputy (Acting) Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment, Joseph Ludovici; Deputy Director, Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environmental Readiness Division, John Quinn; Commander, Navy Installations Command, Vice Adm. William French; Commander, Navy Region Southeast, Rear Adm. Jack Scorby; Commanding Officer, NAS Corpus Christi, Capt. David Edgecomb; Commanding Officer, NAS Kingsville, Capt. Mark McLaughlin; Vice President of Petronila Wind, Paul Bowman; and Chief Executive Officer, ECRNA, Steve Trenholm.

Under the MOA, ECRNA will install and operate up to 100 wind turbines at the Petronila Wind Farm site.

"The Navy is at the forefront of alternative energy use and production, and the Navy supports such projects when they are compatible with our mission," said Rear Adm. Scorby. "The agreement will enable this wind turbine project to move forward while putting measures in place that work to preserve vital pilot training capability at NAS Kingsville and NAS Corpus Christi."

Under the agreement, ECRNA will provide $750,000 in funding to DoD for researching, testing and implementing solutions to mitigate potential impacts. Mitigation efforts could include upgrades that allow the Navy radars to more accurately detect aircraft; optimizing radars to "ignore" signals received from wind turbines, incorporating new systems that fill in radar gaps, and other technical modifications. To reduce the potential of radar interference, the new turbines will be limited to 500 feet in height and will be confined to one 5 by 7 mile site within the existing Petronila Wind Farm project boundary.

The agreement establishes a specific set of procedures the Navy and ECRNA will use to safely curtail wind turbines when and if needed, and to document and address emerging concerns. In addition, Navy, DoD, and Petronilla Wind will form a joint working group to study the effectiveness of the mitigation measures implemented

"This agreement is a collaborative effort that proves the military and the wind industry can find solutions that protect bases and still allow responsible development," said Steve Trenholm, CEO, ECRNA.

The Navy and the Department of Defense will continue working closely with renewable energy developers and local communities in South Texas to ensure local wind turbine projects can coexist with the Navy mission.

Command announces 2012 Security Forces annual awards

11/27/2012 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Air Force Reserve Command announced the 2012 Air Force Individual Security Forces Award winners Nov. 21.

The winners, by category are:

Capt. Bruce J. Lawler, 439th Security Forces Squadron, Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass., Outstanding Security Forces Flight Level Company Grade Officer.

Master Sgt. Juan C. Rodriguez, 452nd SFS, March ARB, Calif., Outstanding Security Forces Flight Level Senior NCO.

Tech Sgt. Nelson E. Brown III, 452nd SFS, March ARB, Calif., Outstanding Security Forces Flight Level NCO.

Senior Airman Andrew J. Reynoso, 452nd SFS, March ARB, Calif., Outstanding Security Forces Flight Level Airman.

Master Sgt. Adam E. Jessee, 926th Force Support Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Outstanding Senior NCO Support Staff.

Staff Sgt. Zachary S. Enke, 926th FSS, Nellis AFB, Nev., Outstanding Security Forces NCO Support Staff.

Senior Airman Josh A. Bucknerberger, 910th SFS, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, Outstanding Security Forces Airman Support Staff.

Henry T. Bogan, 910th SFS, Youngstown ARS, Ohio, Outstanding Security Forces Flight-Level Civilian Award Supervisory Level.

Katherine S. Blackburn, 434th SFS, Grissom ARB, Ind., Outstanding Security Forces Flight-Level Civilian Award Non-Supervisory Level.

Dwayne Jackson, 926th FSS, Nellis AFB, Nev., Outstanding Security Forces Civilian Support Staff.

Master Sgt. Ray V. Kelly, Headquarters, AFRC/A7, Robins AFB, Ga., Outstanding Security Forces NCO Support Staff.

Austin R. Tosi, HQ AFRC/A7, Robins AFB, Ga., Outstanding Security Forces Civilian Support Staff.

Capt. Derrick H. Burks, 94th SFS, Dobbins ARB, Ga., Outstanding Security Forces Flight Level Company Grade Officer.

Master Sgt. Anthony C. Giardini, 439th SFS, Westover ARB, Mass., Outstanding Security Forces Senior NCO.

Tech Sgt. Scott E. Frazer, 934th SFS, Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport Air Reserve Station, Minn,. Outstanding Security Forces NCO.

Senior Airman Errol L. Flynn, 419th SFS, Hill AFB, Utah, Outstanding Security Forces Airman.

Master Sgt. John A. Falfas, 910th SFS, Youngstown ARS, Ohio, winner of the Col. Billy Jack Carter Award.

Senior Airman Alexander James, 910th SFS, Youngstown ARS, Ohio, winner of the Airman First Class Elizabeth N. Jacobson Award.

Through Airmen's Eyes: Airman returns 'home' to help recover MIAs

by Senior Airman Susan L. Davis
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


11/27/2012 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

An officer stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base traveled thousands of miles earlier this year to return to his birth country of Vietnam for the first time in eight years.

But Capt. Huy Tran wasn't there to reunite with his own family or friends. His mission was to help search for and recover missing Vietnam War personnel, a rewarding experience Tran says he won't soon forget.

In cooperation with the Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC), and the Language Enabled Airman Program (LEAP), Tran played a vital role as a Vietnamese linguist on a recovery mission to bring home service members missing from the Vietnam War Era.

LEAP is operated by the Air Force Culture and Language Center at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. It is designed for those who have some existing language capability, and targets early-career Airmen most likely to take fullest advantage of language learning, maintenance and assignments.

Tran, who speaks and writes Vietnamese fluently, said he wanted to participate in LEAP because he was looking for a way to contribute his language skills to the military.

"LEAP has taken my language skills to another level and allowed me to utilize them to serve the Air Force," he said. "Programs like LEAP are what make the U.S. military second to none."

JPAC, on the other hand, conducts global search, recovery and laboratory operations to identify unaccounted-for Americans from past conflicts in order to support the Department of Defense's personnel accounting efforts. According to their website, JPAC continues to search for more than 83,000 Americans still missing from past conflicts.

This mission had a deeper meaning for Tran, who was born and raised in Vietnam until he was 11.

"As a son and grandson of South Vietnamese veterans, this recovery mission is dear to my heart," Tran said. "My father and grandfather were camp prisoners during the war. My grandfather served five years, and my dad served four years and 11 months in the prison camps."

Following his father's release from the prison camps, Tran and his family were offered an opportunity to relocate to the United States. They left Vietnam to pursue a new life in Rock Hill, S.C.

"After I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to be in the military," he said. "I never thought that being in the military would one day bring me back to Vietnam as a service member. It's completely changed from the time I left; Americans are more welcome now and the attitudes and hatred are no longer there."

Tran said he was excited when he found out he would be going on a recovery mission to search for missing Americans.

"I was thrilled that I was finally able to use my special language skills to contribute and serve," he said. "Being there gave me insight into what happened that day. It let me imagine what it would've been like to be in their situation. It makes you realize the importance of the mission."

The first leg of Tran's journey with his team took him from Hawaii, to Thailand, and finally to a rural area of Vietnam, where the objective was to locate a crew of American sailors who had gone missing during a flying mission in the conflict.

The opportunities offered through LEAP, coupled with those offered by JPAC, allowed Tran to put his language skills to special use by translating between his team members and Vietnamese government officials and other locals.

"I would translate everything for them, including negotiating the areas where we would be working, what materials and how many workers we would need," Tran explained. "They also needed me for everyday things, like buying equipment to do our work, or ordering food."

One of the most vital aspects of Tran's job as a team linguist, however, was interviewing witnesses to help narrow down the location and the circumstances where the service members first went missing.

Tran and his team negotiated with government officials to set up an area to camp, and an area to clear out some of the dense vegetation at the top of the mountain where the missing sailors were thought to be.

"By going through the rice fields, dense jungles, and up the mountain, it helped me relate to the time during which the crew got shot down," he said. "When we arrived at the crash site, we found aircraft parts lying everywhere. That moment was so surreal. It sent chills down my spine seeing so many aircraft pieces scattered on the ground. We knew then that we were in the right place."

Once those remains were uncovered and collected, they were sent to JPAC's Central Identification Laboratory, the largest and most diverse forensic skeletal laboratory in the world. Scientists from JPAC use circumstantial evidence, and forensic identification tools including dental comparisons and radiograph comparisons to analyze and identify remains.

Upon completion of the recovery mission, Tran and his team retraced their steps back home, first to Thailand, then to Hawaii, and finally to their respective destinations.

Tran said he looks forward to participating in more recovery missions like the one he completed earlier this year.

According to the Defense Prisoner of War and Missing Personnel Office, since 1973, the remains of more than 900 Americans killed in the Vietnam War have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors. Today, more than 1,600 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. The U.S. government continues to work closely with the governments of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to recover its missing warriors.

"This JPAC mission was one of the most emotionally rewarding missions that I've had the honor to take part in," Tran said. "Most importantly, I was given a chance to bring heroes home to their families, and their final resting place. There is no greater satisfaction than knowing that those families can finally have answers and closure."

Everyone has a story: Driving instructor's passion saves lives

by Staff Sgt. Katie Gar Ward
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs


11/26/2012 - JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va -- Editor's note: This story is part of the 2012 Joint Base Langley-Eustis fall series, highlighting individuals with interesting stories.

The only sound in the room was a cheerful voice, sharing humorous and significant stories. The woman's eyes lit up as she talked about rewarding memories, and her face became animated - as if every gesture breathed more life into her words.

But her smile faded as she recounted one of the most pivotal moments she experienced in her career.

It was 4 a.m. when the jarring ring woke her. She had no idea who would be on the other end, but knew it must be important - it was the on-call phone.

"This is the command post," the voice said flatly. "We have a fatality."

Instantly she woke up, panic rising in her chest. Having only recently started her job, she wondered if she was prepared for what she was about to experience.

When she arrived on scene, she learned two young Airmen were involved in an alcohol-related car accident. Only one survived. She began taking investigation photos, quietly asking the young man who died, "Why? That was the dumbest thing you could've done."

The scene faded from the woman's eyes, and she paused to take a deep breath before continuing.

"It was absolutely devastating," said Tech. Sgt. Kimberly Young, 633rd Air Base Wing Safety noncommissioned officer in charge. "It just put everything in perspective that what I do matters. It's all about the education."

To Young, that experience ultimately shaped her future in safety. The combination of her love of people and her passion for education led her to become an exemplary Airman and award-winning defensive driving instructor.

"What makes her stand out the most is that she is dedicated to what our safety mission is, which is saving lives," said Master Sgt. Dawn Moninger, 633rd Air Base Wing Safety superintendent. "She takes that mission personally, and that's the difference between just doing a job and having a calling in life."

Although Young has been in the Air Force more than 15 years, her journey to become a defensive driving instructor started only three years ago, when she was retrained from her current career field.

"Safety was on the list, and I thought, 'Oh, I can do safety - AF Form 55s? That's easy,' because that's all I knew about safety," said Young. She smiled as she reflected back to her training experience. "Technical school was a rude awakening, but I started really liking it."

Young became a certified instructor at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. She began teaching driving safety after she relocated to Lages Field Azores, Portugal. Her primary students were from the First Term Airman Center, which she found to be an extremely rewarding experience.

"When I talk to my FTAC students, they say 'I appreciate the training you gave me - I was in a situation where I had to make a decision, and I chose otherwise because of your training,'" said Young. "That's the rewarding thing of it all. When you give them your personal experiences, make yourself vulnerable and open yourself to them, it makes it that much easier. Then they know it's not just another briefing."

According to Moninger, Young's positive energy and attitude has a lasting effect on her students, which makes her teaching more effective.

"She has this dynamic and charisma about her that reaches out and touches each of her students in ways that motivate them to keep themselves safe," said Moninger. "It makes a difference when it's a person who's instructing from their heart versus instructing from their head, because the people who sit in her class take in her inspiration, and it motivates them to enact in their lives what she's teaching them."

Young's dedication for teaching doesn't stop in the military classroom. She also pays for instructional materials out-of-pocket in order to teach community members off-base, hoping to instill the same driving safety lessons she teaches Service members.

"We have to learn to bridge the gap with our community," said Young. "We fight for the rights of the people that don't fight next to us. If I can go to the desert and fight for them, then why can't I educate them with having this certification?"

According to Moninger, Young's dedication and passion for the safety mission is one that leaves an impression not just on her students, but her colleagues as well.

"She is a fantastic role model for my team," said Moninger. "My team is a group of professionals, but the nature of safety is that we have new NCOs that come in and they're training as a three-level, so for them to come in a see a role model of her caliber, it really sets the tone for how their training goes, and who in turn they transform into as a safety professional."

According to Tech. Sgt. Oliver K. Missick, the 633rd Air Base Wing Safety inspection program manager, Young's devotion to her colleagues touches them on a more personal level as well.

"She's very enthusiastic and very charismatic," said Missick. "It affects the office in a positive light, and trickles through the whole office. She's also very caring - we call her 'Mother Goose.'"

Moninger said that the qualities that Young possesses carry through in everything she does, and that there are many things that she does on a daily basis that go unnoticed.

"She's behind the scenes and she's not getting the kudos for all the unseen things she does," said Moninger. "It makes it especially poignant when she is recognized because that's not what she's seeking."

Young's most recent recognition was received during the 2012 National Safety Council Congress and Expo, Oct. 20. Young was awarded the 2011 Defensive Driving Courses Alive at 25 U.S. Air Force Instructor of the Year award, being recognized for her education efforts while stationed at Lages Field Azores, Portugal. The Alive at 25 course aims to educate those in vulnerable age groups, focusing on defensive driving strategies.

Young's dedication to the safety mission has garnered much recognition, including being awarded the Untied States Air Forces in Europe 2011 Federally Employed Woman Meritorious Service Award, the 65th Air Base Wing 2011 Tuskegee Airmen Military Award and the 65th Air Base Wing 2011 GEICO Military Service Award. In addition to her individual awards, Young has also been recognized in both group and mentored awards.

Although she is proud of her many accolades, receiving recognition is not what motivates Young to succeed.

"Awards are not a factor. To be awarded for something that you have a passion for and that you love to do, that's just a double positive," said Young. "It's been a humbling experience. I have a passion for people and I love what I do. When I say I love people, it's an understatement. It's just what I do."

And with that, she smiled, filling the room with a sense of warmth and genuineness, making it clear that there could be no personality better suited to convey such a message of importance - a message with the potential to save a life.