Military News

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

AE mission soars through Pacific in KC-10

by 1st Lt. Angela Martin
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


12/11/2012 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- Crews and aircraft from several Air Force units arrived here from Travis AFB, Calif., Dec. 2, during one of three "proof of principal" missions evaluating the KC-10 Extender's capability to support combined cargo and aeromedical evacuation missions throughout the Pacific.

The missions are part of an ongoing Total Force effort to increase the efficiency of worldwide air mobility operations and have brought together personnel from Air Mobility Command, Pacific Air Forces, the 18th Air Force, the 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center) and the Air Reserve Component.

Crews from the 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron based at Pope Field, N.C. and the 375th AES based at Scott AFB, Ill., participated in the Dec. 2 mission using aircraft assigned to Travis' 60th Air Mobility Wing. The average AE crew consists of five to seven people tasked with setting up equipment, coordinating details with aircrew and ensuring patient care and comfort.

Although the KC-10 is certified for the AE mission, historically it is has not been as frequently used as other air frames. According to mission planners, the PoP flights not only provide feedback on the feasibility of routinely using the KC-10 in an AE role, they also lay the foundation for a seamless transition to the aircraft.

"Using the KC-10 gives us another great platform to use for evacuation of combat patients," said Lt. Col. Michael Johnson, 618th Air and Space Operation Center Aeromedical Evacuation Division Chief. "At the same time, we're testing new concepts of moving cargo along with patient movements."

Johnson explained the most recent flight focused on in-flight patient care and testing of the patient pallet support system. The system not only supports patient transport, but the transport of in-flight kits that include nearly 750 pounds of AE equipment.

Capt. Brenda White, 43rd AES flight nurse, echoed Johnson's thoughts about the implications of the PoP missions. "Right now, with so many things going on and so many places where we need to be in order to conduct air evacuation, being able to routinely use another mobility platform is a great advantage."

While revisiting the use of the KC-10 for AE will require developing rules of engagement for transportation of patients and cargo, determining the best placement of medical equipment (not used before on the KC-10), and finding the best way for multiple agencies and support systems to work together, officials say the effort will be well worth it. Ultimately, officials say, the increase of the KC-10's contribution to the AE mission will improve global patient movement efficiently without sacrificing effectiveness.

"This plane will save lives and that's what we want to do, increase the capabilities of the Air Force by moving patients safely and efficiently through the air evacuation system," Johnson said.

SPAWAR commemorates MRAP integration program

by Courtesy of SPAWAR Public Affairs

12/13/2012 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- A ceremony was held to commemorate the rapid acquisition, integration of electronics and delivery of more than 27,000 MRAP vehicles sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, Dec. 10, 2012, at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic integration facility on JB Charleston - Weapons Station, S.C.

Congressional representatives, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps leadership, industry partners and community leaders were also in attendance.

The ceremony was kicked off by Navy Capt. Mark Glover, SPAWAR commanding officer, welcoming the more than 200 attendees.

"On behalf of former SSC Atlantic commanding officers (Navy) Capt. Bruce Urbon and myself, I would like to first thank all members of SPAWAR and industry partner teams for the incredible achievement to design, prototype, test and integrate electronic systems into the vehicles," said Glover. "Thanks to the help of everyone from the leadership of the Joint Program Office, congressional delegation, community leaders and the support of numerous other DOD agencies who all played significant roles in success of this campaign."

The team at SPAWAR initially integrated five vehicles a day, but when demand for the vehicles rose, the team stepped up production to integrating 50 vehicles a day. The team even reached the lofty goal of integrating 75 MRAPs in one day.

"I am proud to be associated with this historical life-saving campaign," said Christopher Miller, SSC Atlantic executive director. "During the past five years, there have been many congressional and senior defense and military officials visiting SPAWAR; the first thing they want to see is the MRAP vehicle facility and to thank the dedicated workers who have worked around the clock to make it happen."

SSC Atlantic is responsible for the prototyping, testing, integration, installation and quality assurance of all advanced command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems equipment for MRAPs and M-ATVs. The M-ATV serves small-unit combat operations in highly restricted rural, mountainous and urban environments that include mounted patrols, reconnaissance, security, convoy protection and communication.

Following integration by SSC Atlantic, MRAPs and M-ATVs were shipped to Iraq and Afghanistan to aid the warfighters of all services.

The MRAP vehicle program has been a team effort involving all the branches of service, Special Operations Command, vehicle manufacturers, the Defense Contracting Management Agency, industry partners, 841st Transportation Battalion, Military Sealift Command, 628th Air Base Wing, 437th and 315th Airlift Wings and Army Sustainment Logistics Command. Congressional, community support, military committees and numerous other agencies all pulled together for this life saving mission.

A new banner now hangs in the SPAWAR vehicle integration facility which reflects the more than 27,000 MRAP/MATV vehicles integrated.

JB Charleston Airmen learn the importance of resiliency

by Staff Sgt. Anthony Hyatt
Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs


12/12/2012 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Overcome. Steer through. Bounce back. Reach out. These are a few words that describe the word "resilient."

More than 650 Airmen have participated in the Air Mobility Command mandated 8-hour Resiliency Training held at Joint Base Charleston - Air Base, S.C.

"This course is designed to focus on Airmen, DOD Civilians, and our families' total well-being and is part of the Air Force's Comprehensive Airman Fitness framework," said Andre Garceau, 628th Air Base Wing Community Support coordinator. "The course addresses the Air Force 'Four Pillars of Fitness: mental, physical, social and spiritual and aims to reduce the stigma of seeking these life skill classes.' It allows us to draw on and build inner strength that enables us to do more than survive, but also thrive - both personally and professionally."

According to AMC's Resilience Strategy 2012, AMC's vision is to have a command of fit, resilient Airmen, families, civilians and the Total Force, coping effectively in a community that thrives in the face of challenges and bounces back from adversity.

Through short video clips, class exercises and sharing their personal experiences, Master Resilience Trainers are able to increase Airmen's resiliency.

Topics discussed during the class include the CAF Model, avoiding thinking traps, detecting icebergs, putting issues in perspective, capitalizing on strengths and active constructive responding.

JB Charleston currently has eight trained MRTs assigned and working as installation resources. Resiliency Training Assistants assist and facilitate with MRTs and provide each unit a resiliency point of contact. Each trainer embodies high attributes in mental, physical, social and spiritual fitness and uses these traits to openly discuss personal deployment and real life experiences in order to attain and sustain credibility with the students.

"I believe this training is very informative and extremely important to develop a complete understanding of the term resiliency and how it plays a significant role in the everyday lives of Airmen," said Tech. Sgt. Kerissa Rivas, 628th Security Forces Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge and Master Resilience Trainer. "Considering the unique jobs and lifestyle that come with being part of the military family, it gives us certain skills to help us cope and better deal with the stressors of everyday life."

AMC's goal is to have 20 percent of active-duty Airmen trained on the 8-hour Resiliency course by Dec. 31, 2012 and 80 percent by December 2014, said Garceau.

"The tools that you receive from the class are valuable for everyday living," said Senior Airman Zachary Kossack, 628th Comptroller Squadron customer service technician.

"The class helped me understand how important optimism is and how being optimistic can help others to be optimistic. I also enjoyed the concepts of stress relief, which I find very important especially in the military. I highly recommend the course to any other military member."

Class dates are listed on the Professional Enhancement CoP. To register for a class, visit https://afkm.wpafb.af.mil/community/views/home.aspx?Filter=OO-ED-AM-39.

Airmen provide assistance to local JROTC program

by Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


12/12/2012 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Motivating teenagers to participate in physical fitness is no easy task, but thanks to some Team Scott Airmen 132 Mascoutah High School Air Force Junior ROTC cadets are conducting AF physical fitness tests five times-a-year.

Team Scott Airmen have assisted the cadets in maintaining and exceeding the fitness standards since 2011, and in 2012 the First Four Airmen's council took over the volunteer program.

Airman 1st Class Steven Scott, 375th Communications Support Squadron said, "We help by timing the PT tests and providing constructive criticism."

Scott was also in his high school JROTC program, but he only tested twice a year.
Airman 1st Class Dustin Brown, 375th Communications Support Squadron also volunteers and said, "These kids are lucky, they will know what to expect in basic training and in the Air Force. It's nice to give back to the local community; it wasn't so long ago we were in high school."

The tests count towards 10 percent of the cadet's grade and the Elite, Presidential and National Fitness Awards program.

According to Kenneth Monroe, MSH JROTC Aerospace Science instructor and retired senior master sergeant, "The wellness program is a great program if, you take it seriously.

"You could say, 'we teach the test,'" Monroe said. "The cadets receive feedback five times in a nine-to-10 month span. Our hope is our cadets will all improve their fitness and ultimately, their health."

Retired Army NCO Brings Ice Hockey to Military Kids

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

STUTTGART, Germany, Dec. 19, 2012 – Shane Hudella, a retired Minnesota Army National Guard first sergeant and Operation Desert Storm veteran, runs the charitable foundation “Defending the Blue Line,” which introduces the sport of ice hockey to the children of military members.


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Shane Hudella, center, founder of the nonprofit organization “Defending the Blue Line,” which donates hockey equipment to military families, chats with Matt Hendricks, left, a National Hockey League player with the Washington Capitals and a local hockey fan before a USO holiday tour show at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, Dec. 17, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Hudella, a native of Hastings, Minn., accompanied Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, the chairman’s senior enlisted advisor, on the annual USO holiday tour that recently concluded here.

After retiring from the National Guard after 23 years of service, Hudella decided to give back to the children of those in uniform. He thought of ice hockey and the National Hockey League.

“So I got connected with a couple of NHL pro players,” he said.
Matt Hendricks, a member of the NHL’s Washington Capitals hockey team, works with Hudella’s charity and accompanied him on this year's USO tour.

“I've been working with Shane now for about three years and the opportunity [to help military children] arose through him,” Hendricks said. “The USO contacted him and Shane contacted me, and wanted to know what my interests were. I was honored to get the invite.”
Hudella said his family inspired him to create his charity.

“Looking at my own family, I've got four boys -- we're a hockey family -- we all love hockey,” he said. “So I met the NHL players and started this organization, thinking we'll able to help some National Guard and reserve soldiers in the Midwest.”

Since then, Hudella’s foundation has received coverage from major news outlets and was last year's winner of the White House's “Joining Forces” award. “Joining Forces” is a comprehensive national initiative led by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, to provide service members and their families with the opportunities and support they have earned.

“We got to travel up to D.C. and meet First Lady [Michelle] Obama, Dr. [Jill] Biden, and get recognized by the chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff],” Hudella said. “And it kind of led to being here today.”
Hudella credits the military for the success of his charity.

“This last year, we just had this explosive growth to now we're shipping gear to 40 different states in the continental U.S.,” he said. “We've sent equipment here to Germany to active-duty families who have kids who skate out in the local community. We've sent gear to Fort Greeley, Alaska, to really all over the world.”
Between hockey camps and giving out equipment and grants, “Defending the Blue Line” just crossed the “million-dollar giving mark, which is a big deal for us,” Hudella said.

“We've helped, all said now, close to 500 kids,” he said. “We've sent thousands of families down to enjoy a hockey game, before or after deployment. We've helped between four and five thousand service members and their families.”

Now, through the power of the USO, Hudella, continues to grow his foundation.

“It's [been] an absolute honor traveling with the chairman and the staff of the USO,” Hudella said. “It's just been a life-changing experience to come out and do this mission with them.”

Hudella said he and his foundation remain committed to helping military families and he looks forward to expanding.

“Just keep an eye on ‘Defending the Blue Line,’” he said. “It's not going to be long and we're going to be branching out into 'Defending the Goal Line’ for football, and 'Defending the Baseline' for baseball, and our big-picture goal in the next couple of years is to be the one-stop shop to keep military kids in sports.”

Alaskan NORAD Region keeps Santa safe, on schedule

by Master Sgt. Mikal Canfield
Alaskan NORAD Region Public Affairs


12/19/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Children around the world know the role the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, plays in tracking Santa's Christmas Eve flight around the world. What many don't know is the role an organization in Alaska plays in ensuring Santa makes his deliveries.

U.S. and Canadian servicemembers of the Alaskan NORAD Region, or ANR, utilize 15 radar stations to monitor Santa as he traverses the airspace around the northern latitudes of North America, a mission ANR has successfully accomplished for 50 years.

"One of the things we do to help ensure Santa's safety is to track him and make sure we know where he is in case he needs help," said Lt. Col. John Oberst, 176th Air Control Squadron operations officer, Alaska Air National Guard. "During Santa's flight, we send frequent reports on Santa's position to NORAD headquarters."

Like other regions within NORAD, aircraft are on stand-by at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to intercept and fly alongside Santa and his reindeer to assist in any way. The aircraft assigned to ANR for this mission are part of the 44th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron based at Kadena Air Base, Japan.

The tradition of NORAD tracking Santa dates back to 1955. According to the noradsanta.org web site, "the tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations 'hotline.' The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born."

At ANR, servicemembers look forward to the annual opportunity to ensure Santa's safety. "It's definitely a team effort here at ANR, and we look forward to it each year," added Colonel Oberst.

When not tracking Santa, the ANR mission is to continuously provide warning of an aerospace attack within the region and will maintain aerospace control to include peacetime air sovereignty and appropriate aerospace defense measures in response to hostile actions within ANR's area of operation. The Regional Air Operations Center (RAOC) component of ANR is comprised of all Active Guard members, Canadian Component servicemembers, and active duty augmentees.

Children of all ages interested in tracking Santa can do so at http://www.noradsanta.org/, visit the NORAD Tracks Santa Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/noradsanta, follow Santa's progress on Twitter by subscribing to @NoradSanta, or track Santa via mobile phone by downloading the free NORAD Tracks Santa app.

New F-16 software platform to be tested by 40th, 85th

by Samuel King, Jr.
96th Test Wing Public Affairs


12/18/2012 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- For the first time ever, developmental testing for an F-16 operational flight program will occur at the 40th Flight Test Squadron here.

The testing for Block 40 and 50 model F-16s is scheduled to begin in 2014 and will also be the first time developmental testing and operational testing of the OFP will be conducted at the same base.

"This not only gives DT and OT pilots the unique opportunity for daily face-to-face contact to discuss potential test issues, but also allows OT pilots to participate in DT missions alongside their counterparts," said Beau Booth, the F-16 M7 OFP project specialist for the 40th Flight Test Squadron.

An OFP is the software in the F-16 that controls the avionics and allows the jet to interface with external weapons. It is currently in the design-try-out phase here. This phase is primarily to help the software developers.

"In the DTO phase, a few early versions of the software, with limited subsets of the planned new capabilities, are flight-tested to ensure basic functionality so the software engineers can easily make any fundamental changes before they get too far into the coding," said Booth.

This takes on a greater importance with this new OFP because it's the first time an Air Force unit has developed the software. Previous F-16 OFP updates were created by Lockheed-Martin, but the 309th Software Maintenance Group from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is the developer for this iteration.

Previous DTO phases had a limited number of sorties due to resources and test objectives.

"While this approach is adequate, it results in a relatively small number of opportunities to find potential errors," said Booth. "Since there are multiple ways to execute most tasks in the F-16, there are a lot of potential combinations of pilot actions. DT does not have the resources to test."

This was not the case with this DTO phase, however, since both OT and DT pilots were available to participate. To date, the combined test team has flown 41 test sorties. The previous F-16 OFP DTO included only 13 test sorties.

"The ability to conduct a fully integrated DT/OT test program allows us to test new OFPs more thoroughly and field them faster and cheaper than ever before," said Booth.

Historically, even though an OFP passes DT, OT pilots would find new software errors due to the amount of flight time and pilot availability. The added use of OT resources increases the potential of finding anomalies in the software. It also gives OT pilots, who are ultimately responsible for the final fielding recommendation, a chance to evaluate the software development early. OT's upfront involvement cuts down on any late software changes. It also avoids the associated extra test requirements, increased costs and fielding delays that could happen.

Although this F-16 OFP partnership is a new endeavor for the squadrons, the 40th and 85th are frequent collaborators in developmental and operational testing. They are even headquartered in the same building for additional functionality.

"In these fiscally constrained times, the 40th and 85th are setting the benchmark on how to perform integrated test," said Lt. Col. Thomas Seymour, the 85th TES commander. "Being collocated is the key. This allows us to share aircraft, infrastructure, aircrew and ideas, which results in more effective and efficient test and a better end product for the warfighter."

This new software package will be incorporated in all active-duty F-16s and many Reserve aircraft.

Panetta ‘Disappointed, Angry’ at Child Development Center Lapses


By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2012 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is “deeply disappointed and angry” at lapses at the Fort Myer, Va., child development center, Pentagon spokesman George Little said today.
Two workers at the Fort Myer facility were arrested Sept. 26 for assaulting children under their care. An investigation revealed that other workers had derogatory information in their background that called into question their suitability for working with children, officials said.

“The Army has launched an investigation into hiring processes not only at Fort Myer, but throughout the United States Army military child care system,” Little said.

Panetta learned of the problems at the facility yesterday, and immediately ordered the other services to examine their hiring procedures as well.

Little said he has no information that the problems are more widespread. “But let me be very clear: the secretary believes that the care of our children is paramount, … and he will settle for nothing less than the highest standards of care for our military children,” he added.

More than 1 million children belong to U.S. military families throughout the world. “They are part of the DOD family, and we will do whatever we can to protect them, wherever they may be,” Little said.

The press secretary said he expects the investigation to move beyond child development centers and cover youth activities programs and the DOD Education Activity facilities on bases and installations around the world.

In addition to looking at the hiring practices, Little said, the secretary is looking into why it took three months for news about the Fort Myer situation to reach him.

“No one likes to be surprised,” Little said. “I don’t know where the breakdown [in communications] was. It’s something we’re looking into, and clearly this information didn’t get reported up the chain of command as quickly as we think it should have.”

PACAF commander addresses looming fiscal constraints during Hickam base visit

by Capt. Ben Sakrisson
15th Wing Public Affairs


12/19/2012 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- The Air Force is likely to face more budgetary cuts and will have to make some difficult choices over the coming years said Gen. Herbert J. Carlisle, the Pacific Air Forces commander, while speaking to Airmen here Monday.

His central theme was that the continual push to do more with less has reached its limit of sustainability and from the ground up the Air Force will need to look in a new direction towards task prioritization.

"We can no longer do more with less; we already have more missions than we have people," said Carlisle. "We need to do less with less, but the things that we do not do need to be the least important."

Carlisle spoke of choosing the tasks that we do not do intelligently rather than simply ignoring the last into the inbox.

"We need to rack-and-stack our tasks in terms of priority, and when we run out of time, manpower, and money, we stop doing the things below that line," he said. "We need to look at the things that the Air Force brings to the joint fight and then do those things well ... and I will tell you right now, our first priority is to fight and win our nation's wars."

Earlier in the day, Carlisle addressed local commanders about the importance of the mission in Hawaii and the intricacies of working on an installation that is both a joint partnership between the Air Force and Navy and a Total Force Integration partnership between Active Duty and Guard components of the Air Force.

"You operate arguably the three most important assets in the theater. The C-17 enables theater air mobility, you can never have enough KC-135 tankers, and the F-22 is the greatest fighter in the world," said Carlisle. "If we can do TFI well here, we can set the benchmark for the Air Force."

Likewise, learning to operate smoothly with the Navy has been challenging at times since the advent of joint basing, but it does provide for long-term gains.

"The primary benefit of joint-basing is that we get to know our sister service better," said Carlisle. "Suffice to say, that by the time you move on, you will have a much better understanding of how the Navy operates."

In the end, Carlisle voiced his thanks repeatedly to the Airmen and emphatically stated that the work they do changes people's lives every day.

F-35 ITF preps maintainers for operational test

by Laura Mowry and Jess Lozano
412th Test Wing Public Affairs and 461st Flight Test Squadron


12/5/2012 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- When the Joint Strike Fighter Operational Test Team begins testing the F-35 this month, maintenance personnel will be fully self-sufficient and prepared to transition to flight operations. By the time the first aircraft arrives, personnel will have successfully completed all initial training requirements and have already demonstrated the ability to perform specialized maintenance tasks on the 5th generation stealth fighter.

A delay in the aircraft's arrival provided the unique opportunity to meet initial training requirements and integrate maintainers into the team ahead of schedule -- a great benefit to the operational test team.

"The training provided to operational test maintenance personnel will enable them to immediately and professionally start maintaining their aircraft upon arrival. This vital preparation reduces additional training requirements, boosts aircraft availability and equates to a considerable amount of savings to the government," said Lt. Col. George Schwartz, 461st Flight Test Squadron commander.

For more than 18 months, developmental test personnel from the F-35 Integrated Test Force have been responsible for training operational maintainers from the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron and Marine Tiltrotor Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 22, the marines who will maintain the F-35B Short Takeoff Vertical Landing variant. Seventy-six personnel have successfully completed the program with 15 maintainers currently participating.

"With a new weapon system and a new acquisitions system, this is how you get people necessary hands-on experience with the aircraft before the school house is stood-up," said Mary Parker, 461 FLTS Logistics deputy. "The operational test aircraft has been delayed, so we used this opportunity to get everyone trained on the developmental test aircraft. It was an avenue to get operational maintainers trained ahead of schedule."

Training includes four weeks of intensive classroom study, and upon successful completion, the maintainers begin two weeks of valuable hands-on experience before they are fully integrated into the maintenance team.

"Before participating in the hands-on training, personnel have to go through cadre training, known as 'Type 1 Training.' It is four weeks in a classroom reviewing charts and taking tests on various systems such as propulsion or avionics. Then maintainers begin their hands-on training where they learn how to marshal and service the aircraft. In total, there is about two weeks of the task certification for various functions," Parker said.

After maintainers complete the six weeks of training, their records are loaded into the Training Management System. The system is a component of the Autonomic Logistics Information System and tracks all training completed by each individual.

ALIS is a revolutionary system that electronically links together aircraft records, supply-chain management, joint technical data and the TMS. The user-friendly system is managed through a portable maintenance aid, similar to a laptop, to maximize accessibility.

With the records loaded into the system, maintenance personnel can begin working on an assigned aircraft.

"Once it shows in the system that they have been trained to complete a specific task, then we hand them over to the aircraft supervisors and they are completely integrated into the maintenance team that works on the aircraft day-in and day-out. Specialties such as Avionics, Propulsion and crew chiefs are assigned to the team, while other Air Force Specialty Codes, such as Low Observable/Structural Maintenance, Fuels and Egress only work on the aircraft when there is a task in their functional area of expertise," said Parker.

The training program's success has made significant progress towards the standup of the JSF Operational Test Team, which is co-located with the developmental test team at Edwards.

Additionally, operational and developmental test personnel have forged a strong working relationship that will continue to benefit the program in all phases of testing, previously demonstrated by the success of AIM-9X captive carry testing this past February. It was an operational test weapons team that loaded the missile onto AF-1.

"Not only will this hands-on experience accelerate operational test capabilities to perform launch, recovery, servicing and maintenance tasks on their assigned aircraft, but we have built a strong relationship with the JSF Operational Test Team here at Edwards and this relationship will continue to provide positive benefits to both the developmental and operational testing communities," said Schwartz.

Reservists deliver humanitarian supplies to the Caribbean

by Capt. Wayne Capps
315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


12/18/2012 - ST. LUCIA - -- Reservists from the 315th Airlift Wing delivered more than 38,000 pounds of humanitarian aid to the island nations of St. Lucia and Haiti this past weekend.

The missions involved two C-17 Globemaster III aircraft delivering humanitarian aid, medical and school supplies, food and construction equipment valued at more than $130,000, courtesy of the Good News Project, Inc. from Waussau, Wis. and the Apostolic Christian World Relief Organization.

"This was a very rewarding mission to be able to bring a jet full of supplies to these people who really need it," said 1st Lt. Sean Gribben, a pilot from the 300th Airlift Squadron. "This kind of mission is great, we really get to help people who need it."

Missions like these are made possible by the Denton Amendment, a state department/U.S. Aid program allowing the delivery of donated humanitarian aid to fly on Air Force assets on a space available basis.

According to Lee Thompson from the U.S. Embassy in the Eastern Caribbean based in Barbados, these types of missions further the relationships between our nations. "The humanitarian relief that we provide to these islands contributes to the mutual relationship that the American people, through its embassy, want to foster, and that is really the goal of the American mission in the Eastern Caribbean."

The mission was also a training mission for the numerous reserve aircrew members on the jet. Master Sgt. Drew Cheek, an evaluator loadmaster assigned to the 300th AS, conducted two evaluations (or check rides) on aircraft crewmembers. "These kinds of missions are great for conducting evaluations. The loadmasters get to see and work with different types of cargo, plus you get to help people who need it."

As a new pilot on his second humanitarian mission, Gribben was also training on this mission. I love flying these missions, I feel like I have greatest job in the world, it is very rewarding," said Gribben. "These are perfect missions to help train reservists."

Niagara Opens Indoor Firing Range

by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Caya
914th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


12/18/2012 - NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. -- The base hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for a multi-million dollar indoor small arms firing range here, Dec. 18.

This 28,000 square foot state-of-the-art joint use facility has 21 firing lanes and will support year-round firearms training for Airmen assigned to NFARS and other military units and law enforcement agencies in western New York.

"The addition of this range will increase the combat readiness of the military units stationed at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and in western New York," said Col. Allan Swartzmiller, 914th Airlift Wing commander. "In addition, the facility may provide law enforcement agencies a superior training environment to fulfill their firearms training requirements."

According to a member of the contractor who built this facility, Brian Aedler of R.B. Mac Construction, the firing range took 14 months to build at a cost of 6.5 million dollars. In addition to the numerous firing lanes, the facility boasts classrooms for training proposes, a weapons cleaning room as well as office space for U.S. Air Force combat arms instructors.

This range is something that has been needed for years, said Niagara Military Affairs Council Vice Chairman John Cooper. Prior to the completion of this range, members had to travel to an outdoor range at an offsite location.

This firing range is a great benefit for the base, said Aedler. In addition to having weapons training on the installation, the Airmen and other marksmen can control and simulate different environments, such as night firing, in this facility year-round.

Operation Christmas Drop Wraps Up in Pacific


By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2012 – The world’s longest-running humanitarian mission came to a close yesterday as U.S. military members and volunteers delivered more than 39,000 pounds of aid and holiday cheer to Pacific islanders during Operation Christmas Drop.


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Crew members on a C-130 Hercules from Yokota Air Base, Japan, push a donated bundle of humanitarian supplies and gifts out the side door of the aircraft over an island in Micronesia, Dec. 18, 2012. Each year, the C-130s fly to Guam to carry bundles to islands in need during Operation Christmas Drop. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Samuel Morse
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
This year marked the 61st anniversary of the mission, providing support to more than 30,000 islanders from Chuuk, Palau, Yap, the Marshall Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, officials reported.
 
Airmen from the 36th Wing at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, as well as family members and local volunteers, and airmen from the 36th Airlift Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan, kicked off the mission Dec. 11, officials reported. Carefully preparing packages of toys, clothing, fishing equipment, sporting goods, food items, tools and other goods, they airdropped them from C-130 Hercules aircraft to 54 islands.

The mission, the oldest of U.S. Pacific Command’s outreach activities across the Asia-Pacific region, dates back to 1952. An aircrew from the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, based at the time in Guam, noticed islanders waving to them as they flew over the Micronesian atoll of Kapingamarangi. The crewmembers gathered items from their WB-29 Superfortress aircraft, attached them to a parachute they had fashioned, and airdropped them from the plane.

The islanders -- who lived at the time without running water or electricity and had recently been hit by a string of ferocious typhoons -- scrambled to retrieve the gifts from above.

The tradition continues today, bringing together military members, students at the University of Guam, and local community and charitable organizations to support a common purpose.

“The time and dedication that people are willing to give is astounding,” said Air Force Capt. Mitchell Foy, who led the Operation Christmas Drop committee. “It’s amazing, watching everyone come together to make this humanitarian effort happen.”

Air Force Col. David Gould, the 374th Operations Group commander, said he felt humbled to be part of the outpouring.

“When we all signed up to join the military, it was about service – not only service for our country, but service to the world,” he said. “There are few operations on this planet that demonstrate as much commitment to service as Operation Christmas Drop.”

(Air Force Senior Airman Robert Hicks from the 36th Wing public affairs office contributed to this article.)

Asian Leaders Begin to Believe in U.S. Shift to Region


By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2012 – Asian leaders are beginning to believe that the U.S. military’s rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific region is real, and they are welcoming the move, a senior defense official said here today.

“The rebalance is – and continues to be – a very welcome initiative by friends in Southeast Asia and beyond,” the official, speaking on background, told Pentagon reporters.

The rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific-Indian Ocean area is an outgrowth of the new defense strategic guidance. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday in Germany that the rebalancing is necessary.

“In 2020 and beyond, the security and economic challenges to our nation migrate into the Pacific, and demographics migrate to the Pacific,” he said. “It’s pretty clear we have to rebalance. This is about rebalancing intellectual energy and how we apply it. It’s about using the military instrument of power and better integrating with the other instruments of power.”

Asian and American leaders have discussed the rebalancing effort and are now seeing the strategy begin to take effect. “They’ve seen initial first steps,” the official said. “The second and third waves of things to come, we’re in dialogue about.”

When U.S. leaders announced the strategy nearly a year ago, the question was whether America was going to follow through. The Clinton administration also announced it would stress American efforts in the region, but world events intervened – 9/11 – and this didn’t happen. Now, with the war over in Iraq and U.S. involvement in Afghanistan winding down, there is renewed effort to shift America’s attention to the region.
“I think there is now a growing recognition and appreciation that this is a … real initiative that is moving forward,” the official said. Now, Asian leaders are discussing what comes next, asking what they should be doing and offering advice, counsel and insights, he added.

The United States would like to see more multilateral efforts in the region, the official said, noting this was a topic of conversation at a recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia. The United States has good bilateral relations with nations of the region, he added, but “we are interested in … working through our mission in ASEAN a little bit more, trying to empower that body … to do a little more, to be a little more assertive in problem-solving as a multilateral organization, versus doing most of the business bilateral capital to capital.”

The U.S. mission to ASEAN has beefed up over time, the official said. “You’ve seen more engagement with that entity over time, and I think that will continue,” he added.

NHL Player Meets, Praises Overseas-deployed Troops

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

STUTTGART, Germany, Dec. 19, 2012 – Matt Hendricks, a member of the National Hockey League who plays for the Washington Capitals, said he “met a lot of tremendous men and women” during this year’s USO holiday tour sponsored by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey.


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Matt Hendricks, center stage, a National Hockey League player with the Washington Capitals, speaks to a group of U.S. service members as Washington Nationals starting pitcher Ross Detwiler looks on during a USO holiday tour show at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Dec. 15, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
  

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Dempsey, accompanied by his senior enlisted advisor, Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, and their spouses brought along a crop of talent -- including Hendricks -- to entertain overseas-deployed troops. Hendricks shared his thoughts about being invited to take part in this year’s USO holiday tour.

“I know some people that have come over here -- Kellie [Pickler], Toby Keith –- some great people,” he said. “So I was honored to get the invite.”

The Blaine, Minn. native said his father, a former Marine, encouraged him to join the tour.

“I talked to my dad and he just told me, ‘Son, other than raising your kids, this will be the best thing you can do in life. Go over there and kind of boost morale of the troops. Show them that you appreciate them and everything that they’re doing for us back home,’” Hendricks said.

“I took what he said to heart,” the hockey player added.

Hendricks was joined by fellow athletes Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen of the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball team, comedian Iliza Shlesinger, winner of NBC's Last Comic Standing and country music singer Kellie Pickler.

Sloan D. Gibson, the USO president, and Shane Hudella, of “Defending the Blue Line,” an organization that donates hockey equipment to military families, also traveled on the USO tour.
Hendricks said he has worked with other groups that support the military.

“I haven't had experience with the USO [until now], but I've had experience with a lot of other charities for the military, such as the Wounded Warriors with the Washington Capitals, 'Defending the Blue Line' with Shane Hudella, and then, you meet people along the way, too,” he said.

Hendricks said he enjoys playing at Washington’s Verizon Center in front of the NHL's “best fans” and noted the Washington Capitals do “a great job of supporting the troops.”

And despite a grueling schedule as the USO group strived to meet as many troops as possible, Hendricks said he would happily participate in another USO tour.

“It's been great. Not only the time, the effort, the funding that comes from every individual that works with the USO, but how hard they push us … to see as many troops as we can,” he said.

“And that's what it's all about,” Hendricks added. “We don't want to [get to] the end of the day and say, ‘We could have seen these people. We had [wasted] five hours just sitting there doing nothing.’
“I've met a lot of tremendous men and women,” he continued. “I've got to land on an aircraft carrier, tour an aircraft carrier, fly in a Black Hawk -- a couple of times.”

Hendricks said one of his best experiences on the USO tour was his meeting with a service member stationed at an outpost in southern Afghanistan.

“He had his hockey stick with him for me to sign and he was so happy and excited,” Hendricks recalled. “I didn't know that getting a signed hockey stick could do that for somebody.”

Face of Defense: Vehicle Operator Runs Personnel Shop


By Air Force Senior Airman Patrice Clarke
Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul

ZABUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Dec. 19, 2012 – “Just go to the training so we have someone trained until the actual S1 gets here.”

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Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher McDaniel explains an inprocessing sheet to a visiting service member at the provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan’s Zabul province, Dec. 17, 2012. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Patrice Clarke
  

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That statement is what ultimately landed Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher McDaniel, a vehicle operator deployed from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., in his current position as the noncommissioned officer in charge of personnel, or S1, for the provincial reconstruction team and Forward Operating Base Smart here.

This deployment, his fourth, is his first working outside his vehicle operator career field. When he joined the Air Force more than 10 years ago, he said, his career choice was driven by time, not position.

“I always knew I was going to join the Air Force -- since I was a little kid,” McDaniel said. “I knew that it was something I wanted to do, and even then knew that it was … something I was going to retire from.” When he walked into the Air Force recruiter’s office a year after high school, he added, he told the recruiter he wanted to join and wanted to leave in about a month. He was given a list of five available Air Force specialty codes and he ultimately chose 2T1X1, or vehicle operator.

“Vehicle operations sounded fun to me,” he said.

Being a vehicle operator has been fun, the Detroit native said. In his previous deployments, he amassed more than 34,000 combat miles on convoys in Iraq.

“Once I started doing convoys, it really let me see the bigger picture, where [vehicle operators] fit into the bigger mission,” McDaniel said. “At home station, you’re driving bus routes or something like that, and you don’t really see how you fit into the overall mission. Deployed, you’re moving stuff that is integral to someone, somewhere. You are taking vital supplies and cargo to other bases that need it.”

After his last deployment, McDaniel even logged instructor time at the Air Force’s Basic Combat Convoy Course at Camp Bullis, Texas, training other vehicle operators on the ins and outs of convoys before they deployed. Though he enjoyed instructor time, McDaniel said, he wanted to deploy again. When the opportunity arose for a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan as part of a provincial reconstruction team, he jumped at the chance.

“When the unit deployment manager told everyone there was a deployment to Afghanistan, I immediately said, ‘Send me,’” he said. “I hadn’t deployed in a while, and I wanted to get back out there.”

Many provincial reconstruction team members have to attend months of training before deploying, and McDaniel was no different. He attended his first training related to the deployment in June for an October departure.

“I was training as a vehicle guy,” he said with a laugh. But when McDaniel arrived at Camp Atterbury, Ind., in July for more training with the team, the team’s needs changed the plan.

“We thought I was just going to fill this position at Atterbury until the real, trained S1 arrived,” he said.

Army Sgt. Maj. Gregory Rowland, the provincial reconstruction team’s sergeant major, said three things factored in the decision to choose McDaniel as the interim S1.

“The first was rank, second was what section could afford to lose one of its noncommissioned officers, and the third was personality,” Rowland said. “McDaniel fit the bill.”

Now, three months into the deployment, McDaniel continues to be the interim S1 and has embraced his position, despite his lack of formal training. “Here, the job is all about accountability -- being accountable for the other people on your team,” he said.

McDaniel is in charge of accountability for every member on the forward operating base, including the military members, civilians, contractors, interpreters and local employees. He also takes care of personnel issues such as emergency leave, reports, awards and decorations. At Smart, the S1 also is the lead mail handler. McDaniel takes it all in stride.

“I would say the biggest obstacle is that I’m not an admin person and I don’t have some of the answers or access to [answers for] people’s questions right away,” he said. “I find those answers, though. It’s all about adapting to your environment and completing the mission. I’m learning as we go.”

His leaders have noticed his drive and dedication.

“I thought it was pretty amazing that he could make the transition so quickly from an operational job like that to a more administrative position,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Justin Kraft, the provincial reconstruction team’s commander. “Frankly, he’s doing a great job, not just with the S1 position, but with everything he’s taken on,” Kraft said.

McDaniel also has taken on the role of morale and welfare coordinator, hosting poker and spades tournaments and other events.

“That’s something you usually don’t get from an S1 -- or a trucker for that matter,” Kraft said. “He really cares about the unit, and his esprit de corps is something that most people should emulate.”

Though he spends a majority of his time wearing the S1 hat, McDaniel is still able to take a turn behind the wheel and has racked up some Afghanistan miles as well. He advises anyone who is put in a position outside their level of expertise to keep an open mind.

“You don’t know if you are going to like the position or not,” he said. “Remember that whoever put you in that position must believe you can handle it. I thank [my leaders] for the opportunity to expand my breadth of experience.”

U.S. Troops' Service No Laughing Matter, Comedian Says

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM, Afghanistan, Dec. 19, 2012 – Each year around the holidays as it has for more than seven decades the USO provides overseas-deployed American troops with entertainment provided by talented fellow Americans.


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Iliza Shlesinger, host of the CBS syndicated comedy dating show “Excused,” and the only female and youngest contestant ever to win NBC's “Last Comic Standing, entertains U.S. troops during a USO tour show at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Dec. 16, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
  

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This year, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined by Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, his senior enlisted advisor, led another extraordinary group overseas to entertain the troops.

Iliza Shlesinger, host of the CBS syndicated television reality-based comedy dating competition show, “Excused,” and the youngest contestant to ever win NBC's “Last Comic Standing,” was among the group of entertainers and other celebrities in this year’s USO holiday tour.

“You never know what to expect,” Shlesinger said. “All I knew was that we were coming over to entertain the troops.”

Shlesinger said she was honored to be a part of this year’s USO tour.

“Everybody has been so nice, and so welcoming. “And the bases -- it's just been such an honor to tour them,” she said. “I would to go hell and back to entertain our troops.

“They do so much for us,” Shlesinger continued. “I don't care if it's on the moon, Mars or Afghanistan. I'll happily come here anytime to make the men and women of our military happy.”

The comedian described some of the unique opportunities she had, such as getting inside the cockpit of a military aircraft.

“On the flight over here from Kyrgyzstan, I got to sit in the front of the plane as we landed in Afghanistan,” she said.

And, Shlesinger said, everyone she met made her feel welcome.

“They've just been so gracious and cool about letting us experience everything, and seeing everything,” she said. “And just to see the [base] that you guys have set up here. Everybody is so nice, you forget that we're at war. The experience, in its entirety, has been amazing.”

Among the other celebrities joining Shlesinger on the tour were Washington Nationals Major League Baseball players Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen, Matt Hendricks of the Washington Capitals and country music singer Kellie Pickler.

USO President Sloan D. Gibson, and Shane Hudella, of “Defending the Blue Line,” an organization that donates hockey equipment to military families, accompanied the USO tour group.

Shlesinger called it “humbling” that service members are willing to risk their lives to protect the nation so she can tell jokes on stage.

“I mean, it's Christmas time, and everyone wants to be with their families,” Shlesinger said. “Especially when I see kids … that are like 17-years old that fly fighter planes, and give up their lives, in [some] cases. I think the [most] important thing to remember is you guys are not forgotten.”