Military News

Thursday, December 06, 2012

B-52 plays major role in Operations Freedom Train and Linebacker I

by Yancy Mailes
Command Historican, Air Force Global Strike Command


12/6/2012 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of articles highlighting the B-52's involvement in the Vietnam Conflict up to Operation Linebacker II. The 40th Anniversary of Linebacker II takes place Dec. 18-29.

In early 1972, American intelligence agencies provided President Richard Nixon and his staff irrefutable evidence that north Vietnam planned a large-scale offensive to attack south Vietnam. In doing so, north Vietnam planned to capture as much of south Vietnam as possible, with hopes of destroying the Army of the Republic of Vietnam and at the same undermining South Vietnam's fragile government. The North knew because of Nixon's Vietnamization policy that the United States had slowly withdrawn its forces and at the time only had 65,000 troops physically in the south. In response, the Nixon administration planned to call upon the B-52 crews to resume air strikes forcing the North to negotiate a peace settlement.

In early February 1972, a rapid build-up of B-52 forces began under Operation Bullet Shot. Since September of 1970, the Arc Light sortie rate at Guam and Kadena had dwindled and by the end of 1971 only about forty B-52Ds remained in theater, all based at U-Tapao, Thailand. In order to support the pending operations, Strategic Air Command (SAC) planned to deploy 200 B-52s to the region. Over the course of the five stages of Bullet Shot, SAC rebuilt Guam's B-52 force beginning that February with crews from the 7th, 96th and 306th Bomb Wings. With nearly 50 B-52Ds assigned to the 43d Strategic Wing at Guam and an eventual compliment of 54 Ds at U-Tapao, SAC still needed almost 100 bombers to meet the requirement. So, later in July 1972 as the build-up continued, the Air Force activated the 72d Bomb Wing Provisional and deployed a compliment of B-52Gs to Guam. To support this effort, the 2d Bomb Wing alone deployed nearly 1,500 people and 23 bombers in April of 1972.

On Feb. 14, 1972, the Air Force resumed the Arc Light missions supporting forces inside the borders of south Vietnam with sortie rates rising to 1,500 per month. As the B-52s deployed to Guam and U-Tapao in preparation for strikes north of the Demilitarized Zone , Nixon baulked at launching an all-out bombing campaign against north Vietnam. He had pinned his hopes on the peace negotiations taking place in Paris. Those negotiations failed and on March 30, 1972, under the cover of darkness, north Vietnamese forces launched the Easter Offensive.

A short time later, on April 5, the Nixon administration authorized strikes north of the DMZ and Operation Freedom Train got underway. The B-52 operation began with heavy strategic bombing which many military leaders had continually recommended since 1965. Many senior USAF officers believed in strategic bombing as a means to bring the enemy to the negotiating table, a belief clearly rooted in the history of World War II. However, the possibility of losing a B-52 to an enemy surface-to-air missile (SAM) loomed in the forefront of each and every B-52 crew going north. While the occasional SA-2 had been launched at B-52 crews operating over the Ho Chi Mihn Trail in 1967, none had come within range.

On April 9, 12 B-52D crews took off from U-Tapao and bombed facilities at Vihn. During this mission, an enemy SAM smacked into one of the B-52s, blowing off most of an external wing tank. Even with damage, the crew was able to the fly the wounded bomber south and land at Da Nang air base. Several days later, after striking a rail yard and a POL store near Hanoi, bomb crews tested the main ring of SAM sites around that city as well as the defenses near Haiphong Harbor. The enemy launched 35 missiles, all of which failed to inflict damage. However, it became clear that the B-52 was in danger of being hunted by the enemy.

Operation Freedom Train continued until May 8, when the Air Force re-named the operation as Linebacker. The Air Force stated that Linebacker had been put into action to disrupt the huge rail network whereby north Vietnam received supplies and weapons from China. The United States decided it would be better to interdict those supplies before they reached north Vietnam and disappeared on the Ho Chi Mihn Trail. The operation continued until Oct. 23, 1972. At that point it appeared that the bombing campaign had brought the north back the negotiating table, so President Nixon halted all air operations above the 20th parallel. However, Arc Light missions in south Vietnam continued.

During Operations Freedom Train and Linebacker the B-52 community played a major role in bringing north Vietnam back the negotiating table. But unfortunately because SAC had been lucky and the enemy failed to down a B-52, SAC planners continued to employ tactics developed early in the war. A typical mission consisted of a three-ship color-coded cell that was imbedded in a wave. During Linebacker, SAC would launch around twenty-two cells per day. During these missions, a trail of bombers that included two or three waves, separated by an hour or more, would consistently drop bombs from an altitude of 30 to 35,000 feet. In addition, the formation would maintain a constant airspeed of about 430kt over poorly defended targets and 470kt over SAM-infested areas. In most cases, the cells used the same altitudes, headings and departure routes. This consistency allowed the enemy to quickly learn the B-52 community's tactics and launch large salvos of SAMs. Luckily, they failed to hit a B-52 during Operations Freedom Train and Linebacker, but this flaw would be devastating to the follow-on campaign, Operation Linebacker II.

It was during the bombing pause, which Nixon ordered to give the North time to negotiate, that the enemy finally downed a B-52. On Nov. 22, 1972, the crew of Olive 2, one of eighteen B-52Ds assigned to the 307th Strategic Wing at U-Tapao, Thailand, took part in a bombing raid against targets in and around Vihn. Just after the crew dropped their bomb load, two SAMs streaked up from the ground and exploded beneath the airplane. The crew of the damaged B-52 nursed their bomber for over 100 miles until they crossed the Mekong River and were over Thailand. Once there, the crew bailed out of the airplane and a combat rescue crew quickly snatched the six men from the jungle. Up until this point only 10 B-52s had been lost during combat, but this was the first to be destroyed by hostile fire.

Pearl Harbor: Air Force legacy on day that would 'live on in infamy'

by Tom Budzyna
Air Force News Service


12/7/2012 - FORT MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- "It was the first time I had ever seen a plunging dive bomber and it was an awesome sight. Nothing in warfare is more frightening," said Pvt. Wilfred D. Burke, 72d Pursuit Squadron, Wheeler Field, whose experience in the attacks on Pearl Harbor are recorded in "7 December 1941: The Air Force Story" compiled by the Pacific Air Forces Office of History.

"Hurtling down on us was a dive bomber being followed by another, while six or seven more in echelon awaited their turn. The leader pulled out right over us in a spectacular climbing bank. We could clearly see the rising sun of Japan on his wings and fuselage," Burke said.

Burke's first-hand account of that fateful day 71 years ago provides a close-up glimpse of how U.S. air forces were affected by the surprise attack by the Japanese during the early morning hours of Dec. 7, 1941. The attack propelled the U.S. into World War II and hindsight confirms that the Empire of Japan executed a bold plan, achieved perfect tactical surprise and found U.S. forces on the island of Oahu easy, unprepared targets.

Burke gives us a personal look at what Airmen experienced on what started out to be a quiet, lazy Sunday morning in paradise.

My boss, Sgt. Forest Wills woke me up around 7 a.m. This was the one morning of the week I could sleep late and I wanted to stay in bed, but I did tell Wills that I would go to church with him.

Wills had become a good friend of mine and was concerned with my spiritual welfare, having observed that I was a worthless fellow given to drinking beer.

We ate breakfast in an unusually empty mess hall then, since we had time before church started, joined a group of men in the middle of the tent area to shoot the bull for a while.

We watched a flight of planes pass to the west of Wheeler heading towards Pearl Harbor. Someone said that it was the Navy, but then we were surprised as black puffs of anti-aircraft fire filled the sky.

Our surprise turned into terror when a Japanese aircraft from overhead began diving directly towards us. The diving planes released their bombs from one end of the hangar line to the other. No one was in sight at first except weary guards who had maintained an all-night vigil against possible sabotage, but others quickly began arriving on the scene.

Officers and enlisted alike were battling fires, tending to the wounded and dying, dragging equipment and supplies from burning hangers, and pushing or towing undamaged aircraft toward dispersal bunkers. Even Gen. Davidson was in the midst of his Airmen pushing planes around.

We fled from the strafing attack on the flight line area, scattering in all directions. I fled toward a housing area thinking it was a safer place when a bomb struck the pavement behind me and killed several fleeing Airmen.

When I found a place to rest against a building wall, I looked back on the carnage and devastation. The dive bombers had dropped all their bombs and had regrouped and were methodically strafing planes lined-up by squadron, wingtip to wingtip, in precise rows. The thick black smoke from the exploding planes served as a screen for a row of P-36 planes on the west end of Wheeler's flight line.

After the firing ceased I went back to my tent, horrified to find dead bodies lying around. I picked-up my helmet as did others and we all had to stop and lace together the helmet linings of the old-fashioned World War I tin hats. That's how unprepared we were.

I was helping casualties when I heard the alarm that the Japanese were attacking again. I ran to the housing area again and got a clear view of the enemy planes firing their machine guns at aircraft on the ramp. I couldn't help from being impressed with their skill. They had been portrayed as little near-sighted men wearing glasses and this arrogance led to this debacle. The enemy was not to be considered lightly.

The attack that crippled the U.S. Pacific Naval Fleet also left approximately 700 U.S Airmen killed or wounded and 66 percent of U.S. air forces assets in Hawaii decimated. The Japanese lost only 29 pilots from more than 350 planes launched from aircraft carriers north of Hawaii.

The Japanese knew their attack on the Pacific Fleet would be imperiled if they didn't cripple the air forces. Historical records describe the U.S. response as mostly uncoordinated and stunned by the surprise.

What Airmen saw on the ground didn't match what the newspapers said 71 years ago, either.

"All the publicity is 'Remember Pearl Harbor.' They should take a look at Hickam Field or what was Hickam Field," said Army Air Force Maj. Charles P. Eckhert, Dec. 10, 1941. "They dropped about 100 bombs on Hickam, practically all hits. The papers say they are poor bombardiers! They were perfect on nearly all their releases."

But the accounts of aircraft destroyed and numbers of Airmen killed tell only a small part of the Pearl Harbor story. It's the individual heroism of countless and sometimes forgotten Airmen that paint the true picture of the attack, and "7 December 1941 - The Air Force Story" reveals these lessor known accounts.

The Air Force story explains as the flight lines were engulfed in flames that the order to disperse the planes inspired scores of men to rush around the Hickam flight line heedless of the rain of bullets and goes on to detail how a general's aide was trying to taxi one of the B-18s when strafers put an engine out of commission.

It was no easy job to taxi such a heavy plane with only one engine, but the aide raced the one engine until it pulled its side of the plane forward, then slammed that brake on hard, which forced the other wing up. By waddling along this way, all the time under enemy fire, he finally brought the plane across the landing mat to comparative safety. While fire department personnel fought flames at the tail end of some of the planes, daring crew members jumped upon the wings, disconnected the engines, and pulled their 800- or 900-pound weight to the edge of the apron. Their quick thinking and action saved the expensive engines.

Hickam and Wheeler Air Force Base, and Bellows Air Force Station were priority targets for the Japanese bombers and U.S. assumptions, attitudes and maintenance routines of the day made it difficult, if not impossible, to react to the pounding they delivered.

"We're going to be all right even though we took a beating," Gen. Howard C. Davidson, 14th Pursuit Wing commander said to Airmen at Bellows Air Field following the attack .

Davidson was visiting airfields to calm the nerves of Airmen, many of whom were in shock following the attack. Three pilots accompanied him to answer questions about how they were able to get off the ground to attempt a courageous counterattack and the telling of their stories seemed to calm them.

The three pilots were Lts. Kenneth M. Taylor, George S. Welch and Philip Rasmussen. Welch and Taylor would later receive Distinguished Service Crosses; Welch a Silver Star. All owed much to ground crews who managed to prepare their aircraft while fire, bombs and strafing saturated the air fields. Other pilots were killed trying to take off, but the Japanese onslaught denied most U.S. forces the opportunity to wage any sort of counter attack.

Other acts of courage that day were rarely, if ever, made public.

Airmen at Hickam Airfield during the attack recall an orderly room clerk described as a mild-mannered private first class who climbed into a B-18 and mounted a .30-caliber machine gun in the nose. It was unstable, because the mount was made for an aerial gun; but he braced it against his shoulder and kept up a steady stream of fire. An enemy plane flew low, strafed the B-18 with incendiary bullets, and set it on fire. There was no way for him to escape and spectators nearby said he did not even seem to try but kept on firing. Long after the leaping flames had enveloped the nose of the plane, they heard his screams and saw the tracer bullets from his machine gun mounting skyward.

In a few hellacious hours, a formidable foe demonstrated in a most personal way what happens in combat when you're not ready and taught the U.S. an important lesson about how vital air dominance is to the fight.

In Stephan L. McFarland's book "A Concise History of the U.S. Air Force" he begins with the affirmation that, except in a few instances since World War II, no American soldier or sailor has been attacked by enemy air power and that, conversely, no enemy soldier or sailor has acted in combat without being attacked or at least threatened by American air power.

Today the nation recognizes the annual call to 'Remember Pearl Harbor' and with respect to all the civilian and military personnel lost or who endured that day it's possible to reflect on the lessons learned by and the heroic acts of Airmen that are an enduring part of the Air Force story.
 

Secretaries Seek Integrated Military, Veteran Support System

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 – The secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs are partnering to build an integrated military and veteran support system, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said at a joint DOD-VA press conference at the Veterans Affairs Department here today.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, right, holds a joint press conference with Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki at the Veterans Affairs Building in Washington, D.C., Dec. 6, 2012. Panetta and Shinseki met before the press conference to discuss ways to help facilitate veteran disability claims and other issues. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Calling their departments' collaboration "a national security issue in many ways," Panetta said the agreements between DOD and VA "go to the heart of taking care of the people who fight for us, and ensure that we can recruit the very best force possible."

He added that if service members, veterans and their families are to get the kind of "seamless experience they deserve," the jobs of the secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs are to "make clear that there has got to be good cooperation" at all levels.

"Our close partnership has never been more important than it is today," Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said of his meeting with Panetta.

Based on guidance from President Barack Obama, the two departments are working on a revamped Transition Assistance Program, a joint electronic medical records system, joint acquisitions decisions, better access to mental health programs, and disability claims, among other issues, the secretaries said.

"Today, our veterans wait too long for the benefits they deserve and that's why, together, we're streamlining our processes ... between our departments," Shinseki said.

Overall, the DOD and VA collaboration for building an integrated support system is not about turf, but about serving the nation's veterans.

"I'm very encouraged that the level of collaboration between our two departments is better than it ever has been in the past," Panetta said.

"Yet we still have to reach much deeper," he said. "We owe it to [service members and veterans] to give them the tools to put their lives back together and pursue their goals, whether it's getting a good education, the best health care, excelling in a new career, serving in our government, or starting a business.

"Today, we discussed a number of steps to try to get our departments to work together in a further enhanced DOD-VA collaboration," Panetta continued. "In particular, our discussion focused on a redesigned Transition Assistance Program. The VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 mandated that all service members participate in TAP to prepare them for life after the military."

Shinseki said his department's support of DOD's revamped TAP, a presidential initiative, will create a "seamless and productive program that provides a warm hand-off from service member to new veteran status, to ensure all who have served are prepared to transition to civilian life and have access to the VA benefits and services they've earned."

Panetta said the new TAP is progressing well.

"We've got a large number of individuals in the military, and as we transition in these next few years in terms of our force structure we will have a lot of people going into this system," the defense secretary said. "I'm delighted to report we are very satisfied with the requirements of the VOW Act having been fully tested in terms of effectiveness at all 206 installations [it] is ready to go. We're on track to implement additional tracks for service members interested in education, technical training and entrepreneurship by October 2013."

Disability claims will also become more streamlined as the two departments work together, Panetta said.
"DOD has agreed in principle to conduct more detailed exit physicals for departing service members who are not immediately filing a VA disability claim," he said. "That helps expedite the process so that we don't have to go far back to their past to try to determine whether that claim is valid or not."

With this information sharing, VA will have the health information it needs from DOD to more quickly process a claim, Panetta explained.

"Today, Secretary Shinseki and I agreed to develop a joint DOD-VA plan for accelerating the program to try to integrate our health care systems. We want to meet or beat the schedule we've established as targets," the defense secretary said. "We've asked for the plan to be presented to us by early January. We've got to do everything we can to move this on a more expeditious path."

Improved mental health service access is expected to be presented to the president as a joint recommendation by the two departments by the end of February 2013, he said.

Panetta expressed his concern over the rate of suicide among military members and veterans.

"It's a terrible challenge that we are dealing with, and we have got to do everything we can between DOD and the VA to ensure our systems are equipped to give our people the help they need to deal with these unique circumstances," he said.

Panetta applauded the work of health care professionals who treat service members, veterans and families, and also recognized warfighters.

"America's men and women in uniform put their lives on the line every day to keep this country safe. We owe it to those who fight for us to fight for them," the defense secretary said. "Programs to help our warriors were developed out of the best intentions but too often they fall victim to red tape, bureaucracy and intransigence.
“We, as secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs, deeply believe that we can and we will do better,” he continued, “and we will accept nothing less than the best services that we can provide for those who serve this country."

President Proclaims National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 – “Today, we pay solemn tribute to America's sons and daughters who made the ultimate sacrifice at Oahu. As we do, let us also reaffirm that their legacy will always burn bright -- whether in the memory of those who knew them, the spirit of service that guides our men and women in uniform today, or the heart of the country they kept strong and free,” President Barak Obama said in his proclamation issued today declaring Dec. 7 as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
The proclamation reads:

“On December 7, 1941, our Nation suffered one of the most devastating attacks ever to befall the American people. In less than 2 hours, the bombs that rained on Pearl Harbor robbed thousands of men, women, and children of their lives; in little more than a day, our country was thrust into the greatest conflict the world had ever known. We mark this anniversary by honoring the patriots who perished more than seven decades ago, extending our thoughts and prayers to the loved ones they left behind, and showing our gratitude to a generation of service members who carried our Nation through some of the 20th century's darkest moments.
“In his address to the Congress, President Franklin D. Roosevelt affirmed that "with confidence in our Armed Forces -- with the unbounding determination of our people -- we will gain the inevitable triumph." Millions stood up and shipped out to meet that call to service, fighting heroically on Europe's distant shores and pressing island by island across the Pacific. Millions more carried out the fight in factories and shipyards here at home, building the arsenal of democracy that propelled America to the victory President Roosevelt foresaw. On every front, we faced down impossible odds -- and out of the ashes of conflict, America rose more prepared than ever to meet the challenges of the day, sure that there was no trial we could not overcome.

“Today, we pay solemn tribute to America's sons and daughters who made the ultimate sacrifice at Oahu. As we do, let us also reaffirm that their legacy will always burn bright -- whether in the memory of those who knew them, the spirit of service that guides our men and women in uniform today, or the heart of the country they kept strong and free.

“The Congress, by Public Law 103-308, as amended, has designated December 7 of each year as "National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 7, 2012, as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. I encourage all Americans to observe this solemn day of remembrance and to honor our military, past and present, with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I urge all Federal agencies and interested organizations, groups, and individuals to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff this December 7 in honor of those American patriots who died as a result of their service at Pearl Harbor.”

Hickam Field's killed in action honored

by Staff Sgt. Mike Meares
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Public Affairs


12/5/2012 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- Only 92 of the original 189 Army Air Forces Airmen killed at Hickam Field during the Dec. 7, 1941, attacks on military installations of Oahu remain on the island where war found them when they weren't looking for it.

A group of ten Hickam Airmen, teenagers, spouses and a Sailor volunteered to make sure those who remain were personally honored in the only way they knew how and mark the 71st year since their day of infamy by placing an American flag, a handmade lei and render a salute to each gravesite at the National Cemetery of the Pacific as a gesture of remembrance and honor Dec. 2, 2012.

"To be amongst heroes is a great honor," said Jessie Higa, a volunteer Hickam historian and president of Hickam History Club. "This is something that we did to let them know we haven't forgotten. Though 189 died, where only 92 gravesites remain here, might seem insignificant compared to the Navy numbers, these men still gave their lives. It's beautiful as you gaze across these pathways of grave markers and see those American flags and blue leis littering the field. Airmen to Airmen, honoring each other."

This project started last year when Higa and a group of teenagers from the base got together and came up with a plan to start a community service project. Higa taught them how to make the leis, gathered all the flags and set the day to mark the 70th anniversary. For the second year in a row, flags are now marking the gravesite of those fallen Airmen.

"When your heart is in the right place, you'll always be able find people to partner with you to make it more impactful," Higa said. "I never do it alone. It contagious. People want to be a part of something that's bigger then themselves."

This experience for the teenagers, continuing what they started last year, has opened their eyes to the sacrifices of the men serving in Hawaii during WWII.

"This is an extra step of recognition for these men," said Chris Friedrichs, son of Col. Paul Friedrichs, Pacific Air Forces command surgeon. "Everyone knows what happened at Pearl Harbor, especially on the Arizona and the big ships. Nobody really realizes that it's so much more than just Pearl Harbor."

According to historical accounts, the Japanese attacking forces ascended on the Hawaiian island in two separate waves. At 7:55 a.m., the first wave began their bombardment on Hickam Field. In route to Hickam, they hit other installations around the island including Wheeler Field, Dillingham Field and Bellows Field in an attempt to eliminate any aircraft, clearing the way for the heavy bombers to attack Battleship Row unimpeded.

"These men weren't trying to be heroes," said Emma McLeod, daughter of Brig. Gen. Mark McLeod, U.S. Pacific Command Headquarters.

Bombs fell on the flightline, barracks and hangars with a purpose that Sunday morning. Firearms and ammunition were locked away during the first wave. Planes were lined up on the runway and most were still sleeping in the barracks or in their homes. Thirty minutes later, the second wave descended on the remainder of the airfields and concentrated on the ships moored in harbor.

"When these young men enlisted, most in their early to mid twenties, they may not have known what they were signing up for, but on that morning, they gave it everything they could to do what they knew was right for their country and fellow men," Friedrichs said.

The first shots reportedly fired were from a .45 caliber pistol as an Airman ran out of an aircraft hangar firing into the air at the attacking planes.

"Isn't that so American? Don't you just swell up with American pride when you (hear about) a guy who run out in his boxer shorts shooting in the air with a 45," U.S. Navy Lt. Zach Simms, Pacific Fleet. "That's what these guys did. They're laying here now because that is what they had. They picked up whatever they got and did the best they could and paid the price."

So it was side-by-side, they way these men fought, the volunteers searched among the 34,000 headstones, littering the pristine grassy fields of the cemetery with red, white and blue. For the heroism of the fallen, the Sailor, and his wife, U.S. Air Force Maj. Jasmine Simms, Pacific Air Forces, stood at attention and saluted each of the markers they placed.

"It is just a small gesture that we as Americans can do to take time for our fallen," said Master Sgt. Kevin Taggerty, 735th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "This was their 9/11 and I am sure they would be proud to know that our Americans and our military still honor them 71 years later. Especially having out youth out there leading the charge."

"Officer or enlisted, at the end of the day, these were regular guys like you and me, minding their own business," the Navy lieutenant said. "War came to them, they weren't looking for it at the time."

Panetta Discusses Syria Situation, Sequestration

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta today repeated the U.S. government’s growing concern that Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar Assad may be preparing to use chemical weapons on their own people.

Without getting into specific intelligence, Panetta told reporters at a news conference at the Department of Veterans Affairs there is no question that “as the opposition advances, in particular in Damascus, that the [Assad] regime might very well consider the use of chemical weapons.” He added that what the U.S. knows “raises serious concerns that this is being considered.”

Panetta’s comments came three days after President Barack Obama warned the Assad regime that there would be consequences for such a move, and that Assad himself would be held accountable.
Today, Panetta expanded on that warning.

"The president has made very clear that the Assad regime ought not to make the mistake of thinking that somehow it can use chemical weapons on its own people and get away with that. The whole world is watching,” the defense secretary said.

Panetta said he would not comment on the consequences if Assad were to use weapons of mass destruction.

"But I think it's fair enough to say that the use of those weapons would cross a red line for us," he added.

The warnings to the Assad regime come as reports suggest opposition forces are closing in on Damascus and that the nearly two-year-old civil war is increasingly threatening Assad’s inner circle.
On another matter, Panetta was asked today about the impact of sequestration on defense programs, should it occur.

"There is no question that if sequestration happens, it will impact those who are coming home [from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan]," he said. "It's going to impact on what we're going to be able to provide them."

Panetta compared the automatic budget cuts triggered by sequestration to a "meat-axe approach."
If implemented, sequestration would “have a serious impact in terms of those [service members] coming home, the programs that serve them, the support system that we have not only for them, but for their families," he added.

"It's for that reason, obviously, that our continuing hope is that the leadership in this country comes together and finds an agreement that avoids this deficit cliff that we're hanging on," Panetta said.

Partnerships, Innovation Provide Keys to Mission Success, Transcom Official Says


By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 – The U.S. Transportation Command collaborates with industry and other agencies to find innovative, cost-effective solutions to logistics challenges, the unit’s deputy commander said yesterday.

Lt. Gen. Kathleen Gainey spoke during the Defense Logistics 2012 conference in Arlington, Va. She expressed concern about the possible impact of sequestration under the Budget Control Act, but said that shrinking resources are inevitable no matter what happens.

“All of our apple carts have been upset and are about to be upset even more,” Gainey said. “We still have to deal with the cuts that all of us are facing and the changes that we’re going to have as a result of our new strategy.”

The new strategy, she said, was a methodical analysis of the most efficient ways to project power to combatant commands, specifically the movement of people, equipment and supplies and their sustainment.
Whether for aeromedical evacuation, ammunition, equipment, dignified transfer of human remains, or even presidential movements, Gainey said the main mission focus is simple. “It’s that warfighter, the [person] wearing the suit in the foxhole that we’re doing this for,” she said.

As command leadership and missions changed over time, Gainey said transportation officials had to reassess how to best perform and streamline processes, while determining core business needs and facing dwindling assets. The officials canvassed industry, their own work force, COMCOMs, services, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense to figure out where to concentrate efforts, and leaders determined that industry plays a vital role reserving readiness capability.

“We do most of our business with commercial partners,” Gainey said. “They are our backbone of capability both for day-to-day operations but also for surge capability.”

Gainey also emphasized the significance of information technology management and cybersecurity.
“We’re trying to figure out how [to] better collect data, making sure all agree on the source data and then portray it in a manner that’s easily accessible by everybody,” Gainey said. “How do we ensure that data is useable by others … [and can] merge into their database?”

The general noted that cyber is the organization’s main threat.  “You have to go through a lot of wickets to get a password and to access our systems,” Gainey said. “But anybody in the war fight wants to makes sure the data is protected and hasn’t been tampered with.”

In addition to addressing cyber threats, Gainey said the command is aligning resources and people with mission requirements by standing up an enterprise readiness center from people within the organization.
“We’ve already started with some structural changes to better organize to be responsive to the warfighter, to the services and look at how to better partner with industry,” she said.

The command has also turned its attention to providing customer-focused professionals.

“People have to use our capability,” Gainey said. “So if you don’t have to be customer-focused, you can sometimes get into a rut where you can tell people that this is the way it is.”

Relationships, communication and offering options can enhance business and should change the paradigm of how Transcom conducts business, she said.  “We’ve got good people; we just need to think differently and be incentivized to change how we look at things,” she said, noting core the organizations core values of collaboration, trust, empowerment and innovation.

Reversing the “silo” effect and creating relationships with people, not electrons, will be part of Transcom’s reformation, Gainey said. “When people also feel empowered, then the trust, the empowerment and collaboration can start to achieve innovation – real change,” she added.

Transcom leaders developed a methodology to assess actual costs and determine logistics options that would bring efficiencies and allow customers to make informed decisions about fuel costs, delivery dates and mode of transport.  Finding flexibility in those areas as well as seeking cost-avoidance solutions, such as identifying loads to do backhaul for cargo jets, helped analysts achieve the best value for limited assets, Gainey explained.

The virtue of correcting data assumption errors was well worth the effort, according to the general.

“We’ve been able to achieve $15 million a month savings by changing the math calculus,” Gainey said. “[U.S. Central Command] obviously is thrilled; so is Army, who is paying that bill.”

As new missions around the world bring different needs and challenges, Gainey said collaboration will enable the command to overcome the obstacles. “Together we deliver, [we’re] dependent on industry support and partnership to think differently,” she said.

U.S. Navy to recover a historic World War II aircraft from Lake Michigan



WAUKEGAN – A World War II Fighter that has been sitting at the bottom of Lake Michigan off the Chicago shoreline for more than 65 years will be brought to the surface this week.

The National Naval Aviation Museum with the Naval History and Heritage Command initiated the undertaking.  The Naval Aviation Museum Foundation is sponsoring the location, recovery, restoration, and eventual display of a World War II Eastern Aircraft FM-2 “Wildcat” Fighter from the depths of Lake Michigan.  The Foundation will complete the recovery portion of the effort this week using a crew from A and T Recovery.  This recovery has been made possible through a generous donation from Mr. Charles Greenhill, of Mettawa, Illinois.

“This effort will lead to another important World War II aircraft being presented to the American public that shows the significant history of the “Greatest Generation,” whose courage and dedication to our country preserved America’s and the world’s freedom,” stated Capt. Ed Ellis, JAGC, USN (Ret.), Vice President of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation.  “The Naval Aviation Museum will work for display of the “Wildcat” in the Chicago area in a venue, such as, the Glenview Hangar One Museum.”

On December 28, 1944 the weather forecast for Chicago read, “Fair and continued rather cold today.”  At 1151 hours FM-2 “Wildcat” Bureau Number 57039 crashed into Lake Michigan in about 200 feet of water.  Her pilot at the time was Ensign William E. Forbes.  Ensign Forbes was in the process of making his third take-off of his aircraft carrier qualification off the USS Sable.  Apparently the engine checked out “O.K.”   However, on the take-off roll the engine began to “pop” and then “quit completely.”  57039 rolled off the bow of the ship and sank.  The accident was determined to be 100% material (engine failure). 

This airplane crashed in Lake Michigan during aircraft carrier qualification training, which was conducted on Lake Michigan during the early to mid-1940s.  More than 17,000 pilots completed the training including LTJG George H. Bush, later to become U.S. President.  The aircraft carriers used for training docked at Navy Pier in Chicago and the airplanes and pilots flew from Glenview Naval Air Station at Glenview, Illinois.
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A and T Recovery, in conjunction with the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, the National Naval Aviation Museum, and the Naval History and Heritage Command, has been responsible for the rescue of approximately forty World War II aircraft from the depths of Lake Michigan.  These aircraft are now on display in museums and airports around the United States, including Hawaii.  Two notable examples are currently on display in Chicago, a Grumman F4F-3 “Wildcat” Fighter on display at O’Hare International Airport and a Douglas SDB “Dauntless” Dive-bomber at Midway Airport.

MEDIA ADVISORY:  The salvaged aircraft will be removed from the water at approximately 10 a.m. Friday, December 7, 2012 at Larsen Marine at Waukegan Harbor in Waukegan, Illinois.  News media coverage of this portion of the operation is welcomed, and media should call Taras Lyssenko at (305) 794-4457, TarasAtSea@AOL.com, for updates.  Larsen Marine is located 625 E. Sea Horse Drive at the northern end of Waukegan Harbor, and may be contacted at (847) 336-5456.

Additional contacts:

Capt. Robert Rasmussen, USN (Ret.), Director, National Naval Aviation Museum
(850) 452-3604 ext. 3119.

Capt. Henry Hendrix, USN, Director, Naval History and Heritage Command, 202-433-2210

Face of Defense: Marine Guitarist Enjoys Military Service


By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Glen Santy
2nd Marine Aircraft Wing

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C., Dec. 6, 2012 – An accomplished guitarist who also enjoys serving in the military, Marine Corps Cpl. Mark A. Boughton said he gets amped up playing with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band here. 


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Marine Corps Cpl. Mark A. Boughton, a guitarist with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., enjoys making music and serving in the military. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Glen Santy
  

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Practice makes perfect, as Boughton spends many hours each week playing his electric guitar.
 
Boughton said his mission in the Marine Corps enables him to mix his love of music with his love of physical fitness and serving his country.

“Growing up, I always wanted to serve, not knowing that I could play in the Marine Corps. There’s a part of me that wants to go out and be a famous rock star, but for right now, this a good gig,” he said.

Boughton added, “I get a steady paycheck, all the benefits of the military, and I get to play my guitar.”

Since he joined the military, Boughton said he’s strived to excel both musically and as a Marine.

Outside of work, Boughton said he usually spends no less than 30 hours-a-week playing his guitar.
He also has earned a black belt in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.

“When I put the guitar down, I’m still a Marine,” he said. “I constantly play and keep pushing myself to achieve.”

460 CES executes first IDP under new AF regulations

by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau
460th Space Wing Public Affairs


12/4/2012 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 460th Civil Engineer Squadron was the first organization in the Air Force to execute the newest Installation Development Plan under the recently changed Air Force regulations.

The IDP can be looked at as a "Vision for Buckley," explained Mary Jane Brady, 460th CES installation community planner. It aims to guide the bases development during the coming years.

However, an endeavor this size does not come without significant effort, work hours and coordination with many agencies.

"The effort was extensive," said Brady. "There are, in essence, three phases and products to the installation master planning process: phase one, the installation vision plan; phase two, numerous area development plans; and phase three, the IDP.

"The IMP products, produced during each of the phases, are developed through a public workshop process that are normally about a week long and require not only government personnel input, but involvement from local public, private offices and individuals. Coordinating the logistics for bringing all necessary stakeholders together is a concerted effort," stated Brady.

According to the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, Buckley has infused more than $1 billion into the local community. This means city leaders and stakeholders are crucial to the execution of the future plans.

"Community involvement is central to the success of the IMP process," said Brady. "The community has a vested interest in the viability of Buckley AFB and wants to be involved in the development and future success of the installation."

All of this planning would be useless without direction and a clear-cut goal. During the process, Brady made sure to define the future vision of the installation in order to complete a plan that would benefit all parties involved.

"The IMP is the most accurate vision and implementation plan that Buckley and the Air Force has ever had," stated Brady. "The vision plan specifically defines objectives with executable goals for the future development of the installation. The area development plans implement those objectives and goals through proven urban planning techniques and methodologies.

"The IMP products are the roadmaps for a sustainable future and mission viability," she added.

Just as the old saying goes, "it takes a village to raise a child," this Air Force first IDP could not have been accomplished without the support of all the partners that made it possible, explained Brady.

"The support for this effort has been overwhelmingly positive," said Brady. "Air Force Space Command, the Buckley Air Force Base partners, the City of Aurora, Arapahoe County, the Colorado Department of Transportation, Aurora Public Schools, and RTD staff and officials have participated and added valuable perspective.

"Across the 460th Space Wing, personnel including staff and leadership have sacrificed countless hours to ensure a successful plan outcome. Finally, (Col. Daniel Dant, 460th SW commander), and his staff have unwaveringly provided the leadership, vision, encouragement and resources to realize the first IDP in the Air Force."

Dover AFB Airman raises flight equipment efficiency with FEARS

by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Larlee
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


12/4/2012 - Dover Air Force Base, Del.  -- When an expensive contract on an Air Force Aircrew Flight Equipment database program was not renewed, bases across the world had to find local solutions to fill the void. Some had to turn to time consuming spreadsheets or paper records.

At Dover Air Force Base, Del., one Airman created a solution to the problem.

The Flight Equipment Automated Records System, or FEARS for short, was created by Airman 1st Class Chris Sharlow, 436th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment journeyman, to track the 12,383 Aircrew Flight Equipment items at Dover AFB.

He had created something similar on a smaller scale during a deployment in 2011.

"My leadership knowing that I am pretty computer savvy, asked me if this was something I could do," he said.

The FEARS program can be used to track all inspections done on the equipment, and all of the vital information about the items, like serial numbers, can be inputted. The system also tracks all of the base's aircrew members and the items that have been issued to them. Queries can be easily run to find the necessary information and it tracks the work done by all of the aircrew flight equipment technicians.

Sharlow said the previous program was extremely hard to use and was very time consuming. He said his main goal of the project was to create something everybody could use.

"Everybody is not good with computers," he said. "In FEARS, everything is laid out simply for those who are not technologically inclined."

Computers have been a passion for Sharlow since he was a young child.

"My grandmother bought her first computer in 1992, and I have been fascinated with them ever since." the native of Colton, N.Y., said. "I love building computers and downloading programs and tinkering with them to see how they work."

The Airman worked at a company providing computer technical assistance by phone before joining the Air Force. He is halfway toward earning his bachelor's degree in information technology.

Despite his expertise in computers, Sharlow still had a steep learning curve in developing his database program. He tried unsuccessfully to create FEARS in a few different programs, but he was foiled by network security issues. He got the break he needed when someone in his leadership chain mentioned a data base creation program already loaded on government computers.

"I had never used Microsoft Access before being tasked with this," he said. "I had to get a few how-to manuals and do a lot of internet searches, but I was up to speed quickly and the program fit our needs well."

The Airman was pulled out of the shift schedule and put to work solely on creating FEARS. After more than 500 hours of coding, the program was completed. With that hurdle done, he had to input all of the flight equipment data and inspections which he said was the most time consuming process of creating his data program.

In a mere 40 days, the data base was up and running. It has been a vast improvement over the old program, said Tech. Sgt. Michael Rosatone, 436th OSS production superintendent for aircrew flight equipment.

"It has increased the effectiveness of our section by 100 percent," the native of Pittsburgh, said. "The old system required a lot of time to update. This one is much more user-friendly and takes a lot less time to use."

The sergeant said in addition to its mission effectiveness, the program is also a great supervisory tool. He said he can use it to easily track the work done by the Airmen in his section. The database is also a great source of metrics for Enlisted Performance Reports and award packages.

Rosatone said the creation of FEARS is a good example of how off-duty education can be a benefit to the Air Force. He said the program was completed well ahead of schedule and has run a lot smoother than the previous database program.

Sharlow is not resting on his laurels following the successful launch of the database program. He is working on a version 2.0 of FEARS that will be more aesthetically pleasing. He said it makes him feel good to contribute to his team in such a positive way.

"I love how I helped improve a daily part of my coworkers' day here," he said. "We are a great team here and I just wanted to do my part."

Pacific Command Seeks Collaboration, Not Confrontation

By Jim Garamone


American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 – The United States would like China to be a constructive influence on the world stage, and the U.S. Pacific Command is stressing cooperation and collaboration, not confrontation, in the region, Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III said here today.


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Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, briefs the media on Asia security issues at the Pentagon, Dec. 6, 2012. DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett
  

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The admiral, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said the command is moving forward on the U.S. move to rebalance forces to the Pacific.
 
“The rebalance draws on the strengths of the entire U.S. government, including policy, diplomacy, trade and, of course, security,” Locklear said during a Pentagon news conference.

The rebalance is not aimed at any one nation or region, the admiral said. The strategy underscores that the United States is and will remain a Pacific power.

Locklear stressed that rebalancing is not so much about equipment or troops -- although they play a part -- but about relationships. Rebalancing to the Pacific came from the defense strategic guidance released in January. Pacom’s mission is to strengthen relationships in the region, adjust U.S. military posture and presence, and employ new concepts, capabilities and capacities.

This will “ensure that we continue to effectively and efficiently contribute to the stability and security of the Asia-Pacific as we protect U.S. national interest,” the admiral said. “The keys to success will be innovative access agreements, greatly increased exercises, rotational presence increases and efficient force posture initiatives that will maximize the dollars that we are given to spend.”

China is increasingly asserting itself in the region, but the admiral said he has good relations with Chinese leaders. China has undergone a power transfer and the Peoples’ Liberation Army has new commanders.

There are territorial disputes between China and other nations in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Locklear reiterated the U.S. position on these disputes. He said America does not take sides but does want to see issues resolved peacefully.

“We call on all the parties there, including the Chinese, to ensure that, as they approach these problems, that they do so in a way that avoids conflict, that avoids miscalculation, that uses the vehicles available today through diplomacy and through those legal forums that allow them to get to reasonable solutions on these without resorting to coercion or conflict,” the admiral said.

In addition to asserting what it believes is its role in the region, China has also embarked on an effort to modernize its military. The latest indicator was the landing of a naval variant of the J-15 jet on Beijing’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

“If I were China and I was in the economic position that China is in and I was in a position of where I have to look after my global security interests, I would consider building an aircraft carrier, and I might consider building several aircraft carriers,” Locklear said.

It’s not so much having such a military capability, but what China does with it that concerns the admiral.

Aircraft carriers have a role in maintaining the peace. “If the issue is that [the Chinese] are not part of that global security environment, then I think we have to be concerned about [Chinese aircraft carriers],” Locklear said.

India is another rising world power and Pacom is working closely with the government there to cement the military relationship between the world’s two largest democracies.

“We very much support India taking a leadership in the security issues in and around the Indian Ocean,” the admiral said. “We are looking for opportunities to participate and interoperate with them where we can.”

Obama Intends to Nominate Austin as Centcom Chief


By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 – President Barack Obama intends to nominate Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, currently the vice chief of staff of the Army, to succeed Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis as the next commander of U.S. Central Command, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced today.


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President Barack Obama intends to nominate Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III [pictured], who’s currently serving as the vice chief of staff of the Army, to succeed Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis as the next commander of U.S. Central Command. U.S. Army photo
  

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Austin is “one of the military’s most seasoned combat leaders,” the secretary said, and will “bring an important combination of strategic thinking, regional knowledge and proven judgment to one of the most critical posts in the department.”
 
Austin was the final commander of U.S. Forces Iraq, holding that position from Sept. 1, 2010, until the command was disestablished Dec. 18, 2011.

“During his final deployment to Iraq, Gen. Austin led our military efforts at a particularly important time, overseeing the drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment while simultaneously helping to ensure that hard-fought security gains were preserved and that Iraqis could secure and govern themselves,” Panetta said.

Austin’s previous commands include the 3rd Infantry Division, with whom he earned a Silver Star for valor for actions in the early months of the war in Iraq. He also served as commander of the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan, and as commander of Multinational Corps-Iraq from February 2008 through April 2009.

Mattis has commanded Centcom since Aug. 11, 2010, having previously served as commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command.

“[Mattis] will go down as one of the most celebrated battlefield leaders and strategic military thinkers of our time,” Panetta said.

Austin’s nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.

U.S. Monitors Possible North Korean Rocket Launch

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 – U.S. Pacific Command has moved ships into place to monitor a possible North Korean rocket launch, Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III said here today.

North Korean officials have threatened to launch a satellite-tipped rocket into space sometime this month. Locklear, Pacom’s commander, said such a move would violate United Nations Security Council resolutions.
“We encourage the leadership in North Korea to consider what they are doing here and the implications on the overall security environment on the Korean Peninsula, as well as in Asia,” Locklear said during a Pentagon news conference.

The move would be similar to what the nation would do to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile. North Korea has been pursuing nuclear technology in defiance of the international community and has claimed to have carried out several tests of nuclear devices. Launching the rocket could show that North Korea has a delivery system for a nuclear weapon.

“And this … would be very destabilizing … not only to the region but to the international security environment,” Locklear said.

The possible rocket launch would counter what has been a series of positive steps North Korea has made.
“There have been … a number of signs that might lead you to believe that the new regime leadership is going to take a more … rational approach to how they deal with their own economy and how they deal with their own people, and how they deal internationally,” Locklear said. “There’s been a feeling that there might be some hope there.”

Locklear’s priority -- like that of all U.S. commanders -- is the defense of the United States. As such, he is watching North Korean preparations carefully and talking with friends and allies in the region.

The command has moved U.S. Navy ships in place to achieve optimal monitoring of the threatened launch. This is also important because Pacom has a homeland defense mission for Guam, the Marianas islands and other states in Oceana.

DOD Releases Revised Tuition Assistance Memorandum of Understanding



The Department of Defense (DoD) released a revised Tuition Assistance Memorandum of Understanding (TA MOU) today, which includes input from universities and reflects many of the president's Principles of Excellence.

DoD will implement the policy March 1, 2013, requiring an institution to have a signed DoD MOU in order to be eligible to participate in the TA Program.  After March 1, 2013, schools without a signed DoD MOU will not be able to enroll service members under the TA program until they have signed the MOU.  Institutions with a currently signed DoD MOU can compare both versions and select to retain the original DoD MOU or sign the revised DoD MOU.

The current version of the MOU provides information, support, and increased protections to services members; strengthens oversight, enforcement and accountability; and provides guidelines for educational institutions receiving military TA funding.  The MOU ensures all service members participating in off-duty, postsecondary education programs receive quality education programs uniformly via the classroom or distance learning, on or off military installations.

During fiscal 2011, approximately 549,000 service members participated in voluntary education programs, which included tuition assistance, adult-based education, and counseling.  More than 325,000 service members were enrolled in postsecondary courses earning almost 45,000 college degrees and approximately 530 certifications and licenses.  DOD's voluntary education program consists of 245 education sites worldwide, including Afghanistan.

To view the MOU, go to http://www.dodmou.com.