Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Reservist to headline MMA event

by Tech. Sgt. Samuel King Jr.
919th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

11/29/2012 - DUKE FIELD, Fla. -- Danny Ruiz is a fighter.

He is a staff sergeant in the Air Force Reserve, a husband, father and coach. But above all, he's a fighter.

Ruiz, the fighter, is a week away from his 19th professional mixed martial arts fight. But this one means more. This fight, the Strike Fight event Dec. 8 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will be in front of a hometown crowd of his military brethren. It will also be a return to the location where he made the decision to become an MMA fighter.

His combative journey to the octagon and the main event began in New York. Ruiz's father, an Army veteran, taught him to box and showed him some martial arts techniques at age eight. At age 13, Ruiz discovered knowing how to throw jabs wasn't the only way to win a fight. The realization came to him like a slap in the face, literally. Instead of punching, a technique Ruiz could defend, a school-yard opponent tackled him and beat him up.

"That's when I started training in wrestling and judo with my uncle," laughed Ruiz, a cargo loader with the 919th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

He moved to Orlando soon after, but continued the training. He met his current trainer Daniel Silva there and the two became fast friends. Silva taught him to incorporate Brazilian jiu jitsu to his repertoire.

"I went into this new gym thinking I knew a few things and could handle myself," said the energetic, 170-pound Ruiz. "We started grappling and I tried a wrist lock and he choked me out. The next time he arm-barred me. I said, 'Oh I like this, where do I sign up? I like this Brazilian jiu jitsu stuff.'"

Ruiz was hooked on the new techniques and in 1998 started training for his first fight. In September of that year, he fought and won a three-round decision.

"The nerves and anxiety were overwhelming at first," said Ruiz, who holds a 12-6 record. "I think I was more scared of my trainer than my opponent."

Ruiz said the win had him on fire for the sport for a while, but he got lazy and didn't want to battle the weight management it took to continue fighting.

In 2003, he entered the active-duty Air Force and was stationed at Eglin as a weapons loader. Ruiz said his next life-changing moment came in January 2005 while watching the first season of "Ultimate Fighter," a reality show about MMA fighters competing for a shot in the sport's premier league, Ultimate Fighting Championship.

"Phil Nichols was bragging about his two-and-a-half years of jiu jitsu training and that fired me up," recalled Ruiz. "I'd been training five times as long as this guy on TV and here I am laying on the couch watching it happen."

That's when he devoted himself to training for and competing in MMA again. Initially, his dream met with some push-back from supervisors and co-workers, but with the help of his leadership, he got the approvals needed to train and fight while on active duty.

"Since 2005, the Air Force has come a long way toward accepting MMA. The culture of fitness has changed and MMA is much more widely accepted today," said Ruiz, who now helps train other Airmen in MMA at a Fort Walton Beach gym. "Over the years, I've seen the Air Force adopt many of the MMA-style workouts I used when I began the training. Several of my students have continued to train even in a deployed environment."

He began making monthly eight-hour road trips back to Orlando to train in the gyms where he started years earlier. Ruiz said this was a 'bruising' period for him as his trainers wore him out physically. He would not be broken, though. Ruiz continued and returned to fighting status in 2006.

His return was a success. While fighting at 185 pounds, he racked up four straight wins within a year. For his fifth fight, he dropped down to 170 pounds. The weight loss proved too significant; and though Ruiz broke his opponent's nose and orbital bone, he lost by technical knock-out in the second round.

"I was gassed, man, I just gave up," he said of the first loss of his career. "From then on I began to concentrate harder on the cardio and diet because I wanted to remain at that weight."

After a bounce-back knockout victory in 2008, Ruiz struggled with four straight losses by knockout or submission. This career low-point had a dramatic impact on Ruiz's MMA career. He faced tough choices in rebuilding his game to start over. The first step was to repair his mental game and the crippling anxiety he suffered with big matches.

"Pushing past the physical is tough; a program called 'Wintensity' helped me understand what happens to the mind before a fight and how to deal with the anxiety," said Ruiz.

Following the program's exercises and taking a few psychology classes helped Ruiz gain focus and clarity of mind. The techniques allowed him to manage the nerves and anxiety that held him back in the fight.

Silva saw immediate progress once Ruiz finally took hold of his mental game.

"His greatest improvement came after those four tough losses," said Silva. "He was completely humbled after that. It is incredibly difficult for a fighter to have humility, admit their mistakes and understand those errors can be learned from. He had to go deep down and find out who he was and who he wanted to be and do it."

Ruiz decided he wanted to be a fighter again.

During this dark time, he separated from active duty and joined the Air Force Reserve. He served for a year as a weapons loader with the 908th Airlift Wing at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., before cross-training to join the 919th Special Operations Wing here in 2010.

After an eight-month recovery both mentally and physically, Ruiz returned to the octagon with a new intensity. He won five fights in less than a year en route to six straight victories including the Atlas Fights Welter Weight Championship in April 2011.

"He found his heart," said Silva. "His mind was clear and he went in there and executed. He became an all-around fighter; so whatever mission was in front of him, he got in there and got it done."

Currently, Ruiz is coming off a tough five-round decision loss in February. It was his first loss from a decision. He believes he should've won. He put that out of his mind, however, to focus on his Strike Fight opponent: Michael Kuhn, a fighter from Atlanta, nicknamed "The Slim Reaper."

Prior to a fight, Ruiz goes into a six-to-eight week training camp that includes rigorous daily physical training sessions five days a week. During the week, they spar at 40 percent fight capability. On Saturdays, during "The Gauntlet," the sparring intensifies to 80 percent of a fighter's capability.

"Basically the entire gym comes out and beats you up," joked Ruiz. "The relentless schedule and the demand put on your body, during the camps, are the most difficult aspects of being an MMA fighter and it's supposed to be difficult. If you're giving your all and it's kicking your butt, that's good, because it's working and it will make the actual fight that much easier."

Ruiz, a father of two, said he couldn't get through it without his wife, Linda, who keeps him on his diet and ensures he makes his weight.

"She usually doesn't come see me fight, because of the kids, but she may come to this one since it's local," said Ruiz hopefully.

After fight number 19, Ruiz said he'd like to fight at least once more for a belt, but at 34, he considers himself in the twilight of his MMA career.

"I want to stop at age 35," said Ruiz. "It may be the latter side of 35, but I'm not going to push myself to continue. I do not want to be fighting at 40. I'm fine with taking off my fighter's hat and putting on the coach's hat and focusing on getting my guys into good fights and hopefully the UFC."

But before changing those hats, he's got a few more fights to finish.

At Strike Fight Dec. 8, as Ruiz enters the octagon to the tune of Run DMC's "Down with the King," Ruiz will return home to where it all began. And when the cage door locks, Ruiz plans to show everyone what it means to be a fighter.

Soldiers thank Whiteman A-10 unit for life-saving combat mission

by Staff Sgt. Danielle Johnston
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/29/2012 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- In November, five service members reunited. They were never stationed together, nor were they even in the same branch of service. But the event that united them was one that will never be forgotten.

It was 2008. Three hundred reservists from the 442nd Fighter Wing here were deployed to Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan. The A-10 Thunderbolt II unit had been called up to support Operation Enduring Freedom, something it had already done a few times post-9/11.

Col. James Mackey, the wing's vice commander, and Lt. Col. Anthony Roe, both A-10 pilots, were scheduled to provide close-air support to protect an Army convoy that day for a routine mission. However, after takeoff, the pilots were told they would not be needed.
They were flying only a few minutes before they got a call over the radio.

"The (joint terminal attack controller) on the radio said, 'I'm not sure, but I think there might be some soldiers taking fire, can you check it out?'" Roe said.

Calling in the big guns

Communication was tough that day due to heavy radio traffic and interceptions - something the pilots and the Army soldiers would remember vividly for years to come.
Army Sgt. Mauricio Arias said 17 soldiers in three vehicles had been driving along when they came under attack.

"We were surrounded, and they were firing at us from three sides," he said. "That's when one of our vehicles became disabled, and we knew we couldn't fit everyone into just two vehicles even if we wanted to."

At that point, the soldiers began using their radios to call for help. They were under attack for nearly 45 minutes before they received a response. A JTAC eight miles away finally heard them calling for help through a choppy, intercepted signal. That's when the JTAC called in the big guns.

As the A-10s approached, Roe was able to make radio contact with the soldiers, who gave him their coordinates. The sound of gunfire over the radio filled the A-10 cockpit - making it even more evident to the pilots that they move quickly and be incredibly accurate as they would be firing the A-10's 30-milimeter Gatling gun within 150 feet of the soldiers.

Roe recalls the difficulty of the mission.

"The soliders had set off a smoke grenade to show us their location, but the smoke was extremely close to friendly forces, so we had to be extremely careful," he said. "Normally we try not to get that close to friendly forces, especially without a JTAC to give us exact coordinates, but it quickly became an emergency close-air support mission."

The urgency was one that was felt both on and off the ground.
"If the A-10s had arrived two or three-minutes - at most seven minutes later- we'd die," Arias recalls. "At that time, we were fighting and fighting, and we were running out of ammo."

A few days after the firefight, Arias met Roe. Though physically and mentally still in recovery, he offered all he could at the time - a sincere thank-you to the Reserve A-10 pilot who saved his life. In all, there were 17 soldiers on the ground that day. Some suffered minor injuries as a result of the firefight - but all made it out alive.

A daily battle

In 2011, Arias moved to Central Missouri and joined the Missouri National Guard. While exploring Whiteman AFB one day, he saw a plane that brought back a whirlwind of memories and emotions - the A-10. While he admits he doesn't know much about Air Force airplanes, he said he recognized the gun that saved his life.

"I had been dealing with that event from Afghanistan for three years at that point," Arias said. "When I saw that airplane, I didn't know if it was from the same unit who saved us in 2008, but it took me an entire year to build the courage to find out."

In August 2012, Arias walked past the A-10 static display through the front doors of the 303rd Fighter Squadron, part of the 442nd Fighter Wing here. Arias found out Mackey had already moved to a new assignment, and Roe was out of town.

Arias returned home that day and called his comrades back in Kentucky. Each of them encouraged him to return to the squadron and thank them - on behalf of the battalion. Arias returned a few weeks later. Mackey had heard the story and had flown from Hawaii to Missouri to meet Arias.

"This was a monumental mission in our lives also," Mackey said, "so when I heard Sergeant Arias wanted to meet us, I wasn't going to miss it."

Neither was a dozen A-10 maintainers who were on the 2008 deployment. Many of them had heard about the impromptu mission that day, and wanted to meet one of the soldiers from the battalion they had heard about.

Roe and Mackey showed Arias an up-close view of the A-10 - something that brought
tears to Arias - who then spoke to a room full of Reserve maintainers. Most of his audience were reservists who were in Afghanistan and helped launch the jets for the mission that saved his life.

"I think about that day a lot," Arias told them. "Usually I think about how thankful I am for those two pilots. But today, I see it's not just about the pilots. Without all of you fixing and launching the Warthogs, I wouldn't be here today. I wouldn't be about to get married and able to see my daughter graduate. I would be dead, so thank you to each and every one of you for keeping me alive."

Healing the wounds

After his fellow soldiers heard about the healing Arias received by meeting the pilots, the maintainers and the Warthog, a few knew they needed the same.

So, in November three of the soldiers made the eight-hour drive from Kentucky to Missouri. Some of the soldiers have moved on to civilian life, they said, but many of them never fully healed from the events that occurred that day.

"I've dealt with anger for many years since that deployment," said Derek Stephens, one of the soldiers on the mission that day. "I've been angry, and I've grieved, but now I can finally be grateful."

The soldiers presented Roe and Mackey with a plaque and a flag flown in Afghanistan - something the pilots will hold onto closely.

445th AW Airman's Council donates shoes for clean water

by Senior Airman Shen-Chia McHone
445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

12/3/2012 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio  -- The 445th Airlift Wing Airman's Council has collected more than 3,000 pairs of shoes to donate shoes to EDGE Outreach to create clean drinking water for those in need. This international organization helps to provide clean, bacteria and parasite-free water for people around the world. The council collected shoes for the "Shoes for Water" program across the wing from June to November 2012 and during the Air Force Marathon.

According to EDGE Outreach, there are 884 million people worldwide who live without clean water every day. With every passing second, children are dying because of unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation and hygiene. More than 5,000 children die each day in the world's poorest countries and more than 80 percent of all sicknesses in the world are attributed to unsafe water and sanitation.

The collected shoes will help to raise money for water purification projects and keep used shoes out of landfills. For every 20,000 pounds of shoes that EDGE Outreach sells to an exporter, one village in a Third World country will be provided a chlorine generator, and water purification equipment and training.

Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Honors ‘True Heroes’

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2012 – The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff presented six service members with the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs’ Grateful Nation Award yesterday.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs awards dinner in Washington, D.C., Dec. 3, 2012. At the dinner, six service members received the Grateful Nation Award, and the Sen. Henry M. Jackson Distinguished Service Award was presented to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. DOD photo by Claudette Roulo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The honorees came from each of the five branches of the armed forces and U.S. Special Operations Command.

Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. said the service members are “true heroes, representing the hundreds of thousands of America's sons and daughters who are out there tonight wearing the cloth of our nation.”

“And tonight, somewhere around the world, men and women of that military are redeploying,” the admiral said. “They're coming home to people who understand the price of freedom and want to give back to those who have sacrificed so much to preserve it.”

The recipients of the Grateful Nation Award are: Army Sgt. 1st Class James T. Osaer, Marine Corps Sgt. Brian Riddle, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric J. Strauss, Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Jonathan Tatroe, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Clint T. Campbell, and Army Master Sgt. Paul L. Wiseman of Special Operations Command.

The admiral thanked those who honor the sacrifices made by service members and asked that they continue to do so. "And while you're at it, hire one,” he said.

“Help us to make sure our homeless vets have a place to sleep at night, and that our wounded vets have what they need to succeed in the difficult journey that lies ahead -- for them and their caregivers," Winnefeld said.

The Grateful Nation Award, established in 2003, is presented annually to six service members recognized for having distinguished themselves through superior conduct since 9/11. Honorees are chosen by their respective branch of service and come from the enlisted, noncommissioned officer and junior officer ranks.

Naval and Air Commanders Visit USS John C. Stennis

From John C. Stennis Strike Group Public Affairs

USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- Senior officers from U.S. Central Command embarked the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), to meet with the leadership and crew, Nov. 30.

Vice Adm. John Miller, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet/Combined Maritime Forces, addressed the crew during an all hands call on the flight deck, while Lt. Gen David Goldfein, commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command addressed the squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9.

"Stennis is the lone representative of naval aviation in the U.S. 5th Fleet and we're grateful to have you and put you to good use," said Miller during an all hands call.

Afterwards, Miller took questions from the crowd concerning topics ranging from future port visits to the geo-political climate in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

"The all hands call was very informative," said Personnel Specialist Seaman Danielle Bender. "We have a better understanding of how important our presence is in the 5th Fleet while serving our country."

The John C. Stennis Strike Group, consisting of Stennis, CVW 9, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21 and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet to strengthen regional partnerships, sustain maritime security, and support combatant commander requirements for assets in the area.

Panetta Praises 'Outstanding' Walter Reed Employees

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

BETHESDA, Md., Dec. 4, 2012 – A year after the dedication of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center here, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta today honored more than 300 health care professionals for their outstanding performance, calling them "miracle workers."

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta addresses service members at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda. Md., Dec. 4, 2012. Panetta thanked the more than 300 attendees representing each of the facilities departments for their hard work and dedication in the year since the Base Realignment and Closure Commission merged Naval Medical Center Bethesda, Md., and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"I want to thank you for your leadership, because what you have here is a world-class center for healing, for compassion, and for empowerment," Panetta said.

Panetta awarded a Secretary’s Challenge Coin to each of the civilian and military honorees, who were nominated by their directorates for recognition.

"This is a season of renewal," the secretary said. "It's a season of joy, of peace, and of looking to the future and being thankful for the past. All of that is encompassed in these great medical centers, because that's what it's all about -- giving people that second chance at life -- and that's what you do."

Panetta noted he recently was asked what the toughest and most memorable parts of his job are. The toughest part, he said, is writing notes to the families of those lost in war and recognizing the pain they must feel. That, he added, “is something that leaves a deep impact on me."

The most memorable moments, he said, are those spent visiting wounded warriors at Walter Reed.
Regardless of how "horrendous" their injuries might be, he explained, in their eyes he sees a spirit of wanting to fight, to get back into the battle, and to be whole again.

"Each time I visit these heroes here, I come away very moved and very inspired by their dedication, by their patriotism, and as I said, by that sheer strength of spirit that they have," Panetta said.

"We as a nation owe them an incredible debt of gratitude for their service and for their sacrifice -- men and women who are willing to put their lives on the line for this country [and] who are willing to fight and die for the United States of America,” the secretary said. “That represents the great strength of our country."
Wounded service members, he added, deserve the finest medical care the nation can provide.

"That's why I'm so grateful that we have the greatest medical health care system in the world right here,” he told the Walter Reed staff. “The strength of our system lies in you, and people like you -- thousands of dedicated professionals who are committed to caring for our sick and for our injured. … This is a place where miracles happen, and you are the miracle workers."

Panetta noted the nation and its armed forces are emerging from more than a decade of war -- the longest sustained period of war in U.S. history.

"There's been a nonstop flow of casualties from distant battlefields,” he said. “And our military medical community has, I believe, risen to the challenge time and time and time again. You have provided thorough and effective care for over 50,000 wounded warriors. And you've helped ensure that millions of our men and women in uniform are healthy and able to perform their vital missions."

The secretary also pointed out that teamwork has made Walter Reed the renowned institution it has become in the year since its dedication following the merger of the former National Naval Medical Center and Walter Reed Army Hospital.

"You made this happen by standing side by side as one team, as one joint facility -- Army, Navy, Air Force,” he said. “You are one of the best medical centers in the nation. You have become one of the best medical teams in the world. By raising expectations, … our corpsmen [and] our medics are now capable of delivering life-saving medical care right there on the battlefield. This is the new standard of medical care, and I'm very proud to say that it is the most advanced in the world."

Despite those achievements, Panetta said, more challenges lie ahead in the next decade, and preparation to meet them is critical.

"Thousands of service members are going to be coming home soon over the next several years. … We have got to be ready for their arrival by supporting their physical health, their emotional well-being, and their successful transition back into society," he said.

Some returning service members will bear both the visible and the invisible wounds of war, the secretary said, adding that since 2001, nearly 250,000 men and women of the armed services have had traumatic brain injury, and many more remain undiagnosed.

To care for them, he added, the Defense Department recently put new guidance in place and built concussion restoration centers in the combat theater. Traumatic brain injury centers now exist at many military bases around the world, and the value of rehabilitation has been discovered, he noted.

"Here at Walter Reed, you also understand the importance of caring for emotional health," Panetta said. "Together, military medical personnel and military families are raising awareness about those hidden wounds of war, particularly mental health."

Yet, the historic rate of suicide continues to haunt the military, he said.

"Suicide is one of those great and terrible challenges to the health of our force,” Panetta said, “and one of the greatest challenges we face as a nation, … and it's reflected in our men and women in uniform. Our greatest challenge is identifying those who need our help."

In the past year, DOD and the Veterans Affairs Department have committed an additional $150 million to target mental health awareness, diagnosis and treatment, Panetta said.

"We're working to increase the number of mental health professionals, improve access to suicide hotlines [and] emphasize family counseling,” he said. “We've got to continue this fight on every front. We've got to make people in the chain of command, people that serve next to each other in a squad, have a sense for looking out for one another, of spotting those conditions, of understanding that there may be trouble.

"As you support our troops in their greatest time of need," the secretary continued, "you are … the absolute best at what you do. We owe it to you to make sure that you have the full support you need to do your job. Your skill, your dedication, that tender compassionate care that you provide those who serve in uniform [are] qualities [that] are second to none.”

Department of Defense Holds Annual Disability Awards Ceremony

The 32nd Annual Department of Defense Disability Awards Ceremony was hosted today by Frederick E. Vollrath, performing the duties of assistant secretary of defense for readiness and force management, in the Pentagon Auditorium.  This annual event provides an overview of DoD disability policy and initiatives, recognizes DoD organizations for their efforts in the employment of individuals with disabilities, and highlights the accomplishments of DoD employees with disabilities and wounded, ill, or injured service members.

“Diversity is essential and has been a key to the success of our armed forces and civilian workforce,” said Vollrath.  “When we embrace a range of talent and perspective, our ability to defend our Nation grows stronger.”

Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy Kareem A. Dale was the keynote speaker and expanded upon this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month’s theme, “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?”

DoD’s Director of Disability Programs Stephen King also spoke at the ceremony.  “The bottom line is America must employ the talents, skills, and capabilities of incredibly bright and productive citizens -- both in and out of uniform -- who want to serve our country,” said King.  “People with disabilities often face unique challenges; we need that type of problem-solving ability and skill in the workplace.”

The following 17 DoD employees with disabilities and wounded, ill, or injured service members received Secretary of Defense awards for their outstanding contributions to national security:

            David L. Miller, Department of the Army

            Staff Sgt. Alexander Shaw, United States Army

            Staff Sgt. Donald G. Sistrunk, United States Army

            Bruce Baraw, Department of the Navy

            Sgt. Julian P. Torres, United States Marine Corps

            Capt. Ryan McGuire, United States Air Force

            LaVonne Rosenthal, National Guard Bureau

            Grayson J. Colegrove, Army and Air Force Exchange Service

            Billy W. Bowens, Defense Commissary Agency

            Thomas G. Pisoni, Defense Contract Audit Agency

            Samson Isaacs, Defense Contract Management Agency

            Edward L. Bright, Defense Finance and Accounting Service

            Sarah E. Gunn, Defense Intelligence Agency

            John A. Clark Jr., Defense Logistics Agency

            Carl Doeler, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

            Julia G. Orth, National Security Agency

            The following four DoD components received secretary of defense awards for their outstanding achievements in the employment of individuals with disabilities:

            Department of the Air Force

            Defense Logistics Agency

            Defense Technical Information Center

            National Security Agency

Officials Praise Nunn-Lugar Threat Reduction Program

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2012 – Defense Department officials yesterday honored two men who in 1991 established a program that has become a critical part of the U.S. approach to reducing the worldwide proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta made a surprise appearance at the DOD-hosted Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Symposium, held at National Defense University here.

He joined Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, Madelyn R. Creedon, assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs, and Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, all speakers at the symposium.

“I wanted to take the opportunity to come here specifically to honor and pay tribute to [former Georgia Sen.] Sam Nunn and [Indiana Sen.] Dick Lugar, two very dear friends and two of finest public servants in the history of this country,” Panetta told the packed room.

“The program that bears their name has had a dramatic and enduring impact on global security,” the secretary added, later awarding each man the Distinguished Public Service Award, the department's highest civilian honor.

Also during the symposium, Andrew C. Weber, assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs, announced on behalf of the department the establishment of a Nunn-Lugar fellowship in partnership with the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

The first Nunn-Lugar Fellow, he said, is Anya Erokhina, a graduate in nonproliferation and terrorism from Monterey. Erokhina now works in the Office of Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs.
In introductory remarks to the symposium, Creedon and Kehler spoke of the impact the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program has made during its 20 years of operations.

“While there have been many successes of the CTR program, one of the most remarkable is the support it provided to three of the states of the former Soviet Union, to enable them to be nonnuclear states and parties to the [Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons],” Creedon said.

The program helped the countries remove or destroy all the nuclear weapons and delivery systems they had inherited from the former Soviet Union, she added, noting several other achievements:
-- Facilitating the blend-down of Russia’s weapons-grade enriched uranium so that it could be used in commercial nuclear-power reactors to produce electricity rather than weapons;
-- Identifying alternative employment opportunities for nuclear weapons scientists and former chemical and biological weapons scientists, engineers and technicians; and
-- Ensuring the security of nuclear weapons at facilities and during transport, destroying hundreds of nuclear delivery systems and thousands of chemical munitions.

The world and its security challenges continue to change, Creedon said.

“Four years ago, Senator Lugar recognized this change and worked to expand the CTR program’s authority beyond the states of the former Soviet Union,” she noted. The cooperative threat reduction partnerships have since expanded from 13 to more than 80 countries, she added, and the nature of the program’s work has evolved.

“In addition to securing [weapons of mass destruction], the program today works to build partnership capacity in support of treaty and other international obligations and promotes global nonproliferation norms in support of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1540, the Global Partnership and the Proliferation Security Initiative,” the assistant secretary said.

“DOD is also taking a more global and integrated approach to reducing WMD threats,” Creedon added.
Working closely with the departments of State and Energy and its new regional partners, the Defense Department is putting great emphasis on sustainability and stewardship and refocusing the program to take on a wider range of biological threats, she noted, adding that international support also is growing.

“Recognizing the need to reduce the threat of WMD proliferation around the world, 24 countries from the Global Partnership have pledged $10 million over the next 10 years to support CTR’s efforts,” Creedon said.

Because many countries keep dangerous pathogens for peaceful, legitimate research purposes, the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program works with its new partners to ensure that safety and security steps are implemented, she said.

“CTR is drawing from the lessons learned in the states of the former Soviet Union to address biological risks around the world, particularly Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia,” Creedon told the audience.
Speaking on behalf of the men and women of the U.S. Strategic Command, Kehler said Nunn, Lugar and their program have made Stratcom’s job easier and Americans safer.

“The era of one-size-fits-all deterrence passed with the end of the Cold War,” he said. “Today, we are applying a wider range of tools, not just nuclear forces, to our deterrence challenges.”

Kehler said Stratcom’s most difficult challenge may be its responsibility to synchronize planning for DOD’s efforts to combat weapons of mass destruction.

“This challenge is every bit as daunting as our strategic deterrence challenge, and it is here we need significant help,” he said. “Fortunately, CTR is effective in helping us with both our deterrence and our combating WMD problems.”

Stratcom, Kehler added, reaps the benefits of a remarkable program that secures and then eliminates the world’s most dangerous weapons.

“The need to find, identify and track potential threats is a never-ending task for Strategic Command, therefore the elimination of 7,000-plus warheads, 902 ICBMs … more than 150 bombers, close to 700 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, 33 submarines -- along with some 2,700 metric tons of chemical weapons -- greatly eased our intelligence demands,” the general said.

In September alone, he added, the CTR supported the disposal of four more ballistic-missile submarines and another 161-plus metric tons of chemical nerve agents.

“I can therefore devote a portion of our intelligence resources to some of the many other threats that confront us today,” Kehler said, adding that the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program has been and will continue to be a powerful tool in the national effort to reduce the threat from weapons of mass destruction.

Wing, Sea World join forces to save sea turtles

by 2nd Lt. Alicia Wallace
45th Space Wing Public Affairs

12/4/2012 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- The 45th Space Wing assisted in the release of two rehabilitated sea turtles back into their native habitat at Cape Canaveral Air Force station Nov. 29.

The first turtle was captured in June by a man fishing at Jetty Park. A hook was embedded in its left upper jaw when this man pulled in his fishing line, and he turned the turtle over to park personnel.

The second turtle was captured in August by a crew from the University of Central Florida, conducting a juvenile green sea turtle study for the Air Force in the Trident Basin. The turtle had a large crack in the bottom of its shell and was malnourished when captured.

These sea turtles were originally passed on to Sea World for rehabilitation after coordination with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the agency responsible for the management of sea turtles in Florida.

When the sea turtles were fully rehabilitated, the 45th Space Wing was contacted by Sea World to assist in release of the turtles back into their native habitat.

Martha Carroll 45th, Civil Engineer Squadron biologist, coordinated the transfer from Sea World to the Air Force.

The Trident Basin was chosen because it was close to their original point of capture, had low boat traffic and contained ideal food sources for the sea turtles.

The 45th Space Wing personnel who assisted with the sea turtle release were glad to be a part of the project.

"The 45th Space Wing expresses gratitude to both the FWC and Sea World for rehabilitating these sea turtles and allowing our personnel the opportunity to release these animals back into the wild," said Angy Chambers, 45th Civil Engineer Squadron lead wildlife biologist. "It reinforces the Air Force's commitment in the protection of these species at the 45th Space Wing," she said.

NATO Approves Turkey’s Request for Patriot Missiles

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2012 – NATO foreign ministers have agreed to Turkey’s request for Patriot anti-missile batteries to defend the country against possible airstrikes from neighboring Syria.
The decision came during the first of two days of meetings at alliance headquarters in Brussels, with ministers saying the goal is to “defend the population and territory of Turkey and contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along the alliance’s border.”

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen described the situation along Turkey’s southeast border with Syria as one of “grave concern,” adding that NATO stands in full solidarity with Turkey.

The Patriot missiles are expected to be supplied by the United States, Germany and the Netherlands and would remain under the operational command of the alliance’s supreme allied commander for Europe.

The decision comes as the civil war in Syria intensifies and amid new concerns in Washington over the status of the Syrian government’s stocks of chemical and biological weapons. In recent weeks, Syrian rockets and shells have landed on the Turkish side of the border, killing several people, a development that Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has said raises concerns that the Syrian conflict could spill over into other countries in the region.

The Turkish government has supported Syria’s opposition, and as an alliance member had requested that NATO provide the U.S.-built Patriot air defense system to deter further threats to its territory. NATO officials stress that use of the missiles will be purely defensive. Rasmussen emphasized that the system will in no way be used to support a no-fly zone over Syria, as some have proposed.

NATO’s decision to approve Turkey’s request comes a day after the United States said it was growing increasingly concerned that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime might be considering using its stocks of chemical weapons against its own people. Yesterday, President Barack Obama issued a direct warning to the Syrian leader that any use of chemical or biological weapons would be unacceptable.

“There will be consequences, and you will be held accountable,” Obama said.

Defense Intelligence Office Marks 10 Years of Progress

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2012 – Ten years ago this month, an entry in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2003 created a position in the Defense Department that for the first time harnessed and focused the department’s diverse intelligence assets.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta stands with Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael G. Vickers for the national anthem at the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence 10th anniversary celebration dinner Dec. 3, 2012, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Va. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Today, Michael G. Vickers is the third undersecretary of defense for intelligence in an office whose 500 combined personnel are boosting the department’s ability to tackle conventional and emerging national security threats and its work as a partner with those in the broader intelligence community.
“The silent professionals in the intelligence community are really some of the most dedicated and hardest working people I have ever met and are really committed to trying to protect this country and rarely get the recognition they deserve for the great work that they do to protect this country,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said at a dinner last night, held to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the position.

“I thank everybody in this room for everything you do to protect this great country of ours,” the secretary added. “You are this country’s first line of defense.”

In 2001, eight DOD agencies had intelligence responsibilities. Of these, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, what is now the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office reported directly to the defense secretary, Vickers said. The four military service intelligence agencies reported to their service chiefs.

Even then, defense officials understood the need to improve the department’s intelligence management, but the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil made the need more urgent.

The key function of the undersecretary position, Vickers said, “is to exercise the secretary’s authority, direction and control over defense intelligence -- the four big agencies and the rest of the enterprise.”

Several months after the position was established, he explained, a similar reconfiguration took place in the broader intelligence community.

In 2004, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act established the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to unify and manage intelligence community efforts. Before the legislation created this office, a single person served both as director of central intelligence and director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

In 2007, the defense secretary and the director of national intelligence signed a memorandum of agreement that added intelligence responsibility as director of defense intelligence, reporting directly to the DNI and to the defense secretary, to the portfolio of the undersecretary of defense for intelligence.

As the third undersecretary of defense for intelligence, Vickers follows former directors Stephen A. Cambone, who served from March 2003 to December 2006, and retired Air Force Gen. James R. Clapper Jr., who held the position from April 2007 to August 2010. The Senate confirmed Vickers for the position in March 2011.

“It’s been a pretty tumultuous couple of years,” Vickers said, with the continuing war against al-Qaida, the surge of forces in Afghanistan and the start of the drawdown of U.S. forces there.
Vickers’ watch also has seen the morphing of the December 2010 Arab Spring into ongoing political turmoil and violence in the Middle East and North Africa; the NATO campaign in Libya from March to October 2011; the operation that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011;, and the 10-year, $487 billion reduction in defense spending that prompted a major strategic review of all programs.

During his tenure, Vickers said, he’s tried to strengthen his organization’s integration with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, its role in policy and operations, its oversight of the principal defense intelligence agencies and defense analysis, and its relations with congressional oversight committees and foreign intelligence partnerships.

He launched a multiyear initiative to strengthen the capabilities and contributions of defense HUMINT, or human intelligence collection, at the national level, and supports initiatives under way to strengthen DOD-CIA operational integration.

Strengthening ties between DOD special operations forces and defense and national intelligence also is a top priority, he said.

“Today, we’re further along on all these metrics, … and some of the initiatives, like improving defense HUMINT, we’re well under way with that,” he added.

Vickers said his priorities can be divided into the areas of operations and capabilities, and are derived from President Barack Obama’s top national security priorities.

The four big operational areas, Vickers said, include dismantling and strategically defeating al-Qaida, setting conditions for a successful transition in Afghanistan, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and defending the nation against cyber threats.

The undersecretary also has objectives on the capabilities side. Vickers wants to “further strengthen [DOD] capabilities in counterterrorism and counterproliferation … and to significantly improve the department’s capabilities to project power in what’s called anti-access or area-denial environments” related to the department’s strategic shift to the Asia-Pacific region, he said.

Countering these efforts has an intelligence dimension, an operational dimension and others, he added, “and I’ve put a lot of emphasis on that.”

Vickers, with Clapper, who now is the director of national intelligence, has focused attention on integrating defense intelligence with national intelligence, he said.

“Intelligence has never been more important for supporting policymaking [and] operations, so the integration of intelligence and operations is critical in a number of areas,” he said.

Also important, he said, is budgetary integration between the military intelligence program and the national intelligence program.

“When we do strategic planning as we go through our budget cycles, we are completely transparent to each other. We have executive committee meetings, joint off sites, where we discuss the problems we’re trying to solve and the resource decisions and shifts we would make,” Vickers said. “We make sure we’re solving both problems simultaneously -- the demands of national intelligence and the demands of defense intelligence -- and the integration is much deeper.

“There’s a lot more operational and intelligence integration across the whole spectrum of capabilities,” he added, “and the budget process rationalizes that [and] makes it transparent.”
Agencies in the intelligence community are becoming more integrated internally and externally, Vickers added.

“NGA, NSA, CIA, DIA and NRO are working together, and [their] people are going from agency to agency, sitting side by side on problems,” the undersecretary said. “We’re bringing multiple intelligence disciplines -- imagery and [signals intelligence] and HUMINT -- together to solve a problem … so you can look at integration in a lot of different ways, and they’re all important.”
In a period of declining resources, he said, “integration is not only the right way to do business, it’s essential.”

460th CES best in AFSPC; EM flight adds to success

by Senior Airman Christopher Gross
460th Space Wing Public Affairs

12/4/2012 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Team Buckley is already making waves at the Air Force Space Command and 14th Air Force levels earning several annual awards.

The 460th Civil Engineer Squadron was awarded the Air Force Space Command Outstanding Civil Engineer Unit in the small-unit category along with its emergency management flight earning the Col. Frederick J. Riemer Award designating the best EM flight in AFSPC.

"We were pretty stoked," said Lt. Col. Madison Morris, 460th CES commander. "(I'm) extremely proud of the squadron."

Morris said he thought his squadron performed exceptionally throughout the year, even with being manned at only about 60 percent.

Morris's squadron is responsible for providing emergency services such as the fire department, emergency medical technicians and paramedics. They also handle hazardous materials, run the emergency operation center and take care of the base infrastructure along with several other things.

All of this success wouldn't be possible without the solid group of Airmen and civilians Morris said he has working for him.

"(Everyone) definitely focused on the core values," Morris said. "This is the sharpest group of young Airmen that I've seen at any of my bases."

Being resourceful and innovative is what Morris said he felt led to his team being the best in AFSPC.

An example of their resourcefulness happened during the summer when 55 engineers headed to the Air Force Academy to participate in training to prepare for deployments and practice carrying out their contingency engineer mission.

CES didn't have the supplies and proper surroundings to perform the training at Buckley, they used assets from F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.; Colorado Air National Guard; Peterson  Air Force Base, Colo.; Fort Carson, Colo.; and the Academy to participate in a training course for several days.

The squadron showed their innovation by being the first squadron in the Air Force to execute their installation development plan under new guidelines. The project consisted of plans for the next three to five years, along with plans for the next 20 plus years.

Morris also commended the EM flight for being the best in AFSPC.

"That flight is a small flight. They're actually smaller than all the other flights in the MAJCOM (major command)," Morris said. "They're only about 40 percent manned, yet they still pulled in best EM flight in the command."

Morris said they've earned a lot of respect from the local community for their ability to take care of business and plan for the worst.

The EM flight is primarily responsible for ensuring the base is prepared for any natural or man-made disaster. They operate the EOC and work with unit representatives, making sure they are aware of what actions to take in the event of an emergency to keep everyone safe.

"No one in this flight missed an opportunity to go above and beyond," stated Armando Argiz, Buckley AFB Office of Readiness and Emergency Management. "From the lowest rank on up, everyone worked as a team to see us through the challenging times."

Argiz stated he's very fortunate to work with superb professionals, and while the competition was intense, he felt like his shop had a strong opportunity to be the best in AFSPC.

Some actions that led to the EM flight's success were the ability to provide 263 hours worth of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive training to 446 deploying Airmen with zero discrepancies.

They also combined four unit EM programs into one, to eliminate redundancy and save 108 work hours a year.