Military News

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Afghanistan-deployed Airmen Move People, Cargo


By Air Force Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade
455th Air Expeditionary Wing

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan, Oct. 31, 2013 – The mission of the 455th Expeditionary Aerial Port Squadron is to move passengers and cargo in and out of Afghanistan.

On Camp Marmal adjacent to Forward Operating Base Mazar-E-Sharif and the city’s airport, 16 airmen assigned to the 455th EAPS detachment perform a variety of daily tasks to include passenger services, special handling, ramp services and working the air terminal’s operations center.

The detachment moves more than 2,600 tons of cargo and 2,200 personnel each month.

"We are not as busy as our counterparts on Bagram Airfield, but we process anywhere from one to 10 missions a day between the day and night shifts," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Garrett Ingram, a 455th EAPS aerial port specialist deployed from Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., and a native of San Marcos, Calif.

When a plane arrives, the airmen ensure it is safely parked on the ramp and then escort passengers off.

Afterward, an airman unloads cargo, which can include pallets or vehicles. The EAPS personnel also upload cargo.

A big part of the 455 EAPS’s mission is integrating with joint forces to move people and cargo, said Air Force Senior Airman James Harrison, a 455th EAPS aerial port journeyman from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.

"We support all the forces on Mazar-E-Sharif," said Harrison, who also hails from Charleston. "We have moved cargo for the Germans, Turkish [troops] and all the U.S. service members -- even Coast Guard.

“Our mission here is important,” he added, “because items don't really get moved without us."

WWII veterans receive medal

by Airman 1st Class Ashlin Federick
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


10/30/2013 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del.  -- World War II veterans from the 39th, 40th, 41st and 46th Troop Carrier Squadrons received a medal honoring their service Oct. 18, 2013, at the Air Mobility Command Museum here.

These four squadrons served under the WWII 317th Troop Carrier Group and were known as the "Jungle Skippers" serving in the Southwest Pacific Theater of Operations.

Linda Waldman, daughter of Herb Waldman, accepted the medal on behalf of her father who served as a pilot and commander in the 41st Troop Carrier Squadron. Herb Waldman retired with the rank of colonel after 30 years of service in the Air Force.

"I wish he could be here and it means a lot for me to be here," said Waldman. "This event is a wonderful remembrance for the veterans of the 317th and a time for them to get together and continue the history."

Presenting the medals to the veterans were pilots from the 436th Airlift Wing.

Capt. Jared Leese, 3rd Airlift Squadron pilot, said he was truly honored to get the opportunity to present the medals to the veterans of WWII.

"It is very important to recognize the WWII generation's accomplishments," said Leese. "They really set the foundation of what the Air Force is today so we really owe them as much as we can do for them."

"It is my duty as a pararescueman to save life..."

by Airman 1st Class Betty R. Chevalier
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/30/2013 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.  -- Eight Airmen from the 48th Rescue Squadron at D-M were first responders on a 19 vehicle accident involving more than 20 people on Interstate 10 near Picacho Peak, Ariz., Oct. 29, 2013.

Six pararescueman, a combat rescue officer and a communications specialist were driving through a dust storm with reduced visibility after jump training in Eloy, Ariz. when they drove by the accident.

"We were driving down Frontage Road when we saw the pile-up," said Caleb, 48th Rescue Squadron combat rescue officer. "We noticed there were police on either end, but no emergency, medical or rescue services at the crash site."

The Airmen witnessed an individual from the accident walk down the hill from the freeway and then fall down. They consulted with each other and made the decision to turn around and offer their assistance.

When they pulled over to the side of the road, they talked to a sheriff. Lucas, 48th Rescue Squadron pararescueman, identified himself as a U.S. Air Force pararescueman with seven paramedics and asked if the sheriff needed help.

"The sheriff said 'Right now, I got three dead and five critical, help as fast as you can,'" Lucas said. "At that point, we completely unloaded both of our vehicles."

They suited up with helmets, goggles and gloves and headed into the scene with what medical gear they had. The first thing they noticed was fuel leaking onto the road and under vehicles.

"We immediately noticed three or four vehicles with trapped personnel," said Caleb. "We assessed them and their situations and started getting people out using basic tools and equipment."

With the Airmen being some of the first on scene, they improvised with knives, crowbars and any other objects they could locate to extract people from their vehicles.

They were on scene about 15 minutes before emergency medical services arrived and 30 minutes before heavy extrication equipment showed up.

They triaged, splinted and provided medical care to more than 20 individuals at the crash scene. Additionally, they provided emotional support to patients.

If you find something that will bring a patient comfort, give it to them, said Lucas. Even just going back and asking 'How are you doing Stanley?' brought them comfort simply because their name was not forgotten.

The Airmen extracted five people from vehicles, coordinated four medical helicopter flights, and organized ground transportation for about six injured individuals.

After the critically injured were transported off scene, the Airmen collected all of their gear, ensured EMS no longer needed their services and continued back to D-M.

Four of the pararescuemen were right out of initial training and had never responded to a real-world situation like this before.

"I'm a Department of Training instructor," Lucas said. "The fact these Airmen just rolled in and got it done, it's a great feeling to know they are new and they accomplished something like this. It shows them how they can make a difference."

All the Airmen credited their training and experience in allowing them to keep calm and render aid in conjunction with the other authorities at the scene.

"You do all these medical scenarios and train so much, sometimes you wonder, 'Am I going to know what's right?'" said Dan, 48th Rescue Squadron pararescueman. "When you get in there and start doing it for real, all your training pays off."

C-17 Airmen load, move Strykers during joint exercise

by Staff Sgt. Terri Paden
15th Wing Public Affairs


10/31/2013 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- Airmen from the 15th Wing and Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division loaded Stryker combat vehicles onto Air Force C-17s for the first time during an Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise in Hawaii Oct. 17.

In this first practical demonstration, the C-17 crews successfully uploaded two of the Army's Stryker combat vehicles and flew them to Pohakuloa Training Area on Kona for the exercise. Exercise players included the Army's 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division and the Air Force's 535th Airlift Squadron and 15th Wing.

The Stryker, the Army's Interim Armored Vehicle, is used to provide quick response maneuvering capability, enhanced survivability and lethality and expand fight versatility.

Until now, the Army has always moved their Hawaii based Stryker vehicles via ships.

"We all knew the C-17 can carry Strykers, but this is a very big deal for us," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pettengill, 380th Ground Liaison Detachment. "It is the first time we have loaded the Strykers onto the C-17 and conducted a fly-away mission with them."

The C-17 Globemaster III is known for being able to rapidly deploy troops and cargo all over the world; however, this recent validation exercise confirmed the 535th's ability to extend the range of Hawaii-based armored units.

Army Warrant Officer Danny Thurman of the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team said though the initial purpose of the exercise was to simply validate the ability to transport the Strykers, the short timeline enabled the 25 ID to test the Army's ability to deploy a quick reaction force.

"The timeline for this exercise was extremely short. In less than 24 hours we were able to plan, coordinate and execute the mission," said Pettengill. "This would not have been possible without the close relationship between the 15th Wing and the 25th ID. This training validated 2 SBCT's proficiency as a quick reaction force, further enhancing USARPAC's rapid deployment capability as USPACOM's response force in the Pacific AOR [area of responsibility.]"

Hagel Stresses Iraq’s Role in Maintaining Regional Stability

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2013 – During a meeting in Washington today, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stressed Iraq’s important role in maintaining regional stability, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki thanked Hagel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for the sacrifices made by U.S. troops in Iraq from 2003 to 2011, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in a statement issued today.

Little’s statement reads as follows:

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his visiting delegation from Iraq earlier today in Washington, D.C. During the hour-long meeting, both leaders reiterated their commitment to the United States and Iraq defense and security relationship.

Secretary Hagel and Prime Minister Maliki discussed the political and security situation in Iraq, reviewed regional cooperation activities, and considered ways to strengthen U.S.-Iraq strategic cooperation given the challenges in the region. Secretary Hagel stressed the important role that Iraq has in maintaining regional stability. Prime Minister Maliki thanked Secretary Hagel and General Dempsey for the sacrifices made by U.S. troops in Iraq from 2003 to 2011.

ACC group among nation's best medical facilities

by Jon Stock
Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs


10/31/2013 - FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AFNS) -- Three Air Force Medical Service military treatment facilities (MTFs) earned top accreditation honors recently by The Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of health care organizations in America, for exemplary performance and were named among the nation's Top Performers on Key Quality Measures.

The MTFs awarded these honors were the 96th Medical Group, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; 48th Medical Group, RAF Lakenheath, England; and the 81st Medical Group, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.MTFs at Langley Air Force Base, Va.; Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.; and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; also had scores close to the 95-percent Top Performer level.

The Joint Commission recognized these Air Force MTFs for their outstanding performance in using evidence-based clinical processes that are shown to improve care for certain conditions, including heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, children's asthma, stroke and venous thromboembolism, as well as inpatient psychiatric services.

"The Air Force Medical Service is committed to achieving our four critical goals of readiness, better care, better health and best value to ensure the delivery of top quality patient-centered care for our military family," said Brig. Gen. Sean Murphy, Air Force Medical Operations Agency commander. "We are proud to have facilities named on The Joint Commission list and strive to see other exceptional Air Force MTFs earn this elite recognition in the future."

The three medical groups are among 620 hospitals in the U.S. earning the distinction of Top Performer on Key Quality Measures for attaining and sustaining excellence in accountability measure performance.

The ratings are based on an aggregation of accountability measure data reported to The Joint Commission during Calendar Year 2012. The list of top performers increased by 50 percent from its debut last year and represents 33 percent of the accredited hospitals reporting data. Each of the hospitals on the list received a score of 95 percent, which means the hospital provided an evidence-based practice 95 times out of 100 opportunities to provide the practice. Each accountability measure represents an evidence-based practice - for example, giving aspirin at arrival for heart attack patients, giving antibiotics one hour before surgery when indicated, and providing a home management plan for children with asthma.

"When we raise the bar and provide the proper guidance and tools, hospitals have responded with excellent results," says Dr. Mark R. Chassin, president, The Joint Commission. "This capacity for continual improvement points toward a future in which quality and safety defects are dramatically reduced and high reliability is sought and achieved with regularity. Such day-to-day progress will slowly but surely transform today's health care system into one that achieves unprecedented performance outcomes for the benefit of the patients."

In addition to being included in the release of The Joint Commission's Improving America's Hospitals annual report, each medical group will be recognized on The Joint Commission's Quality Check website. The Top Performer program will be featured in the November issue of The Joint Commission Perspectives and the October issue of the Joint Commission publication The Source.

F-16D Fighting Falcon, T/N 88-0165 accident investigation complete

by Air Eduction and Training Command Public Affairs

10/28/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Air Force officials announced the results of an F-16D accident investigation today. The investigation into the June 26, 2013, F-16D Fighting Falcon mishap at Luke AFB, Ariz., determined the mishap was due to the pilot's decision-making error after the aircraft suffered low-altitude birdstikes following takeoff.

The mishap instructor pilot and mishap student pilot, assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing's 309th Fighter Squadron, were executing a planned touch-and-go training exercise when the aircraft's engine ingested several birds resulting in degraded engine performance.

The Accident Investigation Board found evidence that the cause of the mishap was a result of the pilot erroneously electing to make an immediate turn that robbed the aircraft of altitude and airspeed, rather than climbing straight ahead to achieve minimum maneuvering speed for aircraft recovery. The mishap instructor pilot's channelized attention and breakdown of visual scan limited the time to fully analyze the situation and successfully recover flight. All of the factors substantially contributed to the aircraft mishap.

Both pilots were able to safely exit the aircraft, suffering only minor injuries. There were no fatalities or significant injuries, and only limited damage to civilian property. The estimated damage costs are approximately $22 million.

The president of the Accident Investigation Board was Col. John J. Menozzi. He is assigned as the 71st Flying Training Wing Vice Wing Commander at Vance AFB, Okla.

Navy Yard Shootings Prompt Security Clearance Process Review



By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2013 – The Navy Yard shootings in September and unauthorized disclosures by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have highlighted the need for changes to the current security clearance process, Stephen Lewis, deputy director for personnel, industrial and physical security policy in the office of undersecretary of defense for intelligence, told a Senate committee today.

This includes DOD civilians, service members and embedded contractor personnel, he said.

“Under the National Industrial Security Program, cleared contractors are required to report adverse information coming to their attention regarding their cleared employees,” Lewis said.

DOD component heads are responsible for establishing procedures to report significant derogatory information, unfavorable administrative actions and adverse actions related to personnel, Lewis said.

“In addition, the Defense Security Service is responsible for conducting oversight of companies cleared to perform on classified contracts for DOD and 26 other federal departments and agencies that use DOD industrial security services.”

For several years, the department has partnered with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in reform efforts intended to improve the clearance process. As a result, Lewis said, in 2011 the Government Accountability Office removed DOD’s personnel security clearance program from its high-risk list.

A recent inspector general’s review found that temporary access to Navy installations was being granted without conducting the proper background checks, he said. The report stated that, upon review, about 50 people were found to be convicted felons, he said.

The Navy has since taken corrective action, Lewis noted. Temporary installation access requires a criminal background check and a check of the terrorism database, he said. But the issue demonstrated the utility of continuous checks of cleared personnel, a program that is currently under development for the department, he said.

A concept demonstration is scheduled to run from April to December 2014, Lewis said, and would examine 100,000 cleared military, civilian and contractor personnel.

“This concept demonstration would have real-time updates so that as information became available it would be pushed into the system,” he said.

The current system doesn’t allow for continuous monitoring of all cleared personnel, Lewis said.

However, the system “does provide on-demand queries of a large number of government and commercial data sources, as well as an analytical capability to flag issues of concern,” he said.

“We need to make a commitment and effectively ensure that what happens between investigations is something that is tracked,” Lewis added.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New threat emitter will cut Louisiana bomb wing fuel costs

by Master Sgt. Greg Steele
93rd Bomb Squadron


10/30/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- A new threat transmitter going online this month will help the 307th Bomb Wing here save more than $6 million annually in fuel costs.

The Joint Threat Emitter installed at the Claiborne Bombing and Gunnery Range is a state of the art electronic transmitter that replicates signals emitted by surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery. The JTE will train B-52 electronic warfare officers to detect and defeat the signals to protect the crews and aircraft during the threat of a missile attack.

"Practicing electronic jamming is essential to protection during wartime," said Lt. Col. Robert Vanhoy, 93rd Bomb Squadron director of operation. "If we can jam the enemy's signals, we can prevent them from taking down our aircraft."

The 307th BW currently maintains 20 B-52H Stratofortresses and is the only B-52 Formal Training Unit in the Air Force. They took over the training curriculum for all B-52 crew members in 2009.

With the JTE installed at the Claiborne range, Barksdale crews no longer have to fly to ranges in West Texas, Kansas and Idaho, saving precious fuel dollars.

JTE is used by other Air Force aircraft that have radar warning receiver capabilities including the C-130 Hercules, B-2 Spirit, B-1 Lancer, F-16 Fighting Falcon, A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-22 Raptor.

The 2nd Bomb Wing and Green Flag East will also benefit from the fuel savings on the Claiborne Range, which is a 15-minute flight from Barksdale.

In 2010, the Air Force Audit Agency performed an efficiency review of ranges in the U.S. This led the way for the JTE system to be considered for the Louisiana range.

"This system was one the reserve B-52 unit has been trying to put in place since the early 90s," said Lt. Col. Dave Webb, 307th Operations Flight commander. "There just wasn't the money to make it happen." This particular project has been in the works for three years. So far, the Air Force Reserve Command has spent approximately $350,000 on the infrastructure.

"The cost that the Reserve Command has laid out for the system will be saved in days after the JTE is up and running," said Col. Jonathan Ellis, 307th Bomb Wing commander. "We will not only save the government a great deal of money, but we will be able to significantly increase the training our students are receiving and thus better prepare them for future threats."

"Having training locations right in your backyard offers the cost savings we are all looking for," said Richard Harris, Combat Air Force Training System program manager.

Artist's brush memorializes fallen combat controller

by Rachel Arroyo
Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs


10/21/2013 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Susan Servais gently pressed her forehead against the portrait of her son. His green eyes smiled out at her and the audience of about 200 that gathered to pay respects to a hero and see his portrait unveiled Oct. 19.

The man with the green eyes and kind smile is Senior Airman Adam Servais, an Air Force Special Operations Command combat controller who was killed in action in Afghanistan Aug. 19, 2006.

Servais, 23, was working as a joint terminal attack controller on a special forces team when he fell while returning fire against the enemy during an ambush on his convoy in the Uruzgan province. It was his second deployment.

The American Fallen Soldiers Project honored his sacrifice by presenting his mother and father, Peter and Susan Servais, and his sister, Laura, with a portrait of Adam.

The goal of the American Fallen Soldiers Project, a nonprofit organization run by artist Phil Taylor and his wife Lisa, is to bring comfort and healing to the families of fallen warriors by presenting them with a custom painting of their loved one. Taylor paints and presents about 35 portraits a year to families of fallen military members.

"I hope those beautiful green eyes stare back at you for many years to come," Taylor told the family as he unveiled the painting and 'Amazing Grace' sounded on the bagpipes.

The portrait of Servais, of Onalaska, Wis., was presented during the 2013 Combat Control Association Reunion which marked the 60th year of combat control as an Air Force career field.

Lt. Col. Michael Flatten, the event's guest speaker, was the director of operations at the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., when Servais was assigned there.

He spoke to Servais' spirit and exemplary work as a combat controller.

"Adam was the perfect balance of good-natured, fun and borderline getting in trouble," Flatten said. "The other side of him was the serious operator - the guy who knows how to turn it on when the mission is deadly serious. Where we sent Adam for his deployment is historically one of the most intense locations for combat we have ever seen. For his first JTAC deployment, we handpicked Adam for that location because he was just that good."

Peter said even as a boy his son loved being in the action, whether it was camping with his family, playing football, baseball or, his favorite sport, hockey.

"He had this Big Wheel that he would ride up and down the driveway," he said. "The faster he'd go, the more he loved it."

Servais found his calling after he enlisted in the Air Force in 2002 at 19 and became a combat controller on completion of Advanced Skills Training in September 2004.

Susan said she thinks her son would have made a career of combat control were he still alive because he enjoyed his work and being a part of the special tactics brotherhood so much.

"Many people work their whole lives and hate their jobs, but Adam loved what he did," she said. "He loved it to the limit. He pushed as far as he could go."

Since his death seven years ago, the Servais family has remained in close contact with the community their son loved.

Peter thanked the American Fallen Soldiers Project and all those attendees for honoring the life of his son, adding the AFSOC community has stood by them.

"This is a very special day for Susan, myself and Laura," he said. "We are so lucky because the military never forgets us. It helps us through all the difficulties and keeps in touch. This is very special and dear to us and will be for the rest of our lives."

Among the crowd honoring Servais and his family were 15 other family members of fallen special operations forces members and several wounded warriors.

Percentage of Veterans Hired for Executive Branch Increases




From an Office of Personnel Management News Release

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2013 – The federal government’s executive branch hired the highest percentage of military veterans in more than 20 years during fiscal year 2012, surpassing the previous high set in fiscal 2011, Office of Personnel Management officials announced today.

The numbers were contained in the report of Employment of Veterans in the Federal Executive Branch for Fiscal Year 2012, which also was released today.

The government hired about 195,000 new employees in fiscal 2012, compared to about 230,000 new employees in fiscal 2011 — a reduction of more than 34,000 total hires. Some 56,000 of the fiscal 2012 hires, 28.9 percent, were veterans, officials said. This is a 4.9-percentage-point increase over the fiscal 2009 baseline of 24.0 percent, and about 0.6 percentage points higher than the 28.3 percent realized in fiscal 2011, they added.

In fiscal 2012, veterans represented 29.7 percent of the workforce. In fiscal 2009, about 25.8 percent of the workforce was composed of veterans.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order establishing the Veterans Employment Initiative in November 2009 to improve employment opportunities for veterans. Through the leadership of the Council on Veterans Employment, this initiative continues to produce positive results by recruiting and employing veterans, OPM officials said.

Dr. Biden, USO Join Forces to Provide Warrior Care Packs

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

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2013 – Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, joined Senate spouses and White House interns yesterday to help USO volunteers in putting together “warrior care packs” to aid wounded, injured and ill troops in their recovery process.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Dr. Jill Biden, center, loads warrior care packs with Senate spouses, USO volunteers and White House interns at the vice president's home in Washington, D.C., Oct. 29, 2013. DOD photo by Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The event was hosted on the grounds of the vice president’s residence, where Biden emphasized the importance of everyone coming together to help wounded service members, citing the Joining Forces campaign she has championed with First Lady Michelle Obama over the last two years.

“This is what is really and truly important – that we’re working together to help our troops,” she said.

Biden noted the event had been postponed because of the government shutdown and called the day a way to honor and support military families.

“I’m speaking for them,” she said, “and I think God gave us this day as a gift so we could come out here and pack boxes.”
Biden said she and the vice president make every effort to visit and talk with wounded troops. She recalled meeting a service member named Cedric, who came to a barbecue the Bidens hosted for wounded warriors.

“He got off that bus, … and he had lost both of his legs, and he had metal legs,” she said. “And now he is training for the Paralympics. “I mean, it was just incredible. And guess what he was training for? Mountain climbing! It was just so incredible. He had such a beautiful spirit, a beautiful smile.”
USO President Sloan D. Gibson, who President Barack Obama nominated Sept. 10 to be the next deputy secretary of veterans affairs, noted that all of the items being packed were specifically requested by troops.

“We know, because we survey regularly,” he said. “We know what they need, and we make those [things] available to them. When our troops come off of the line wounded, injured or ill, … typically they show up with generally nothing more than the uniforms on their backs.”

Each warrior care pack included short- and long-sleeved shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, tearaway pants, underwear, socks, shower shoes, fleece blankets and hygiene kits with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, shaving gel and other toiletries.

Biden said the items are based on requests from wounded warriors, and expressed gratitude to everyone who pitched in to help.

“We have all the items that [were] requested, I think, from wounded warriors and so you are packing exactly what they want,” she said. “Once again, thank you for being here, and I truly appreciate it. Our troops truly appreciate it.”

Defense Officials Detail Nuke Upgrade Program



By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2013 – Defense Department officials testified on Capitol Hill yesterday about the program to modernize one of the oldest weapons in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Madelyn R. Creedon, the assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs, and Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, spoke at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee.

The B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb has the oldest warhead design in the U.S. nuclear stockpile, Creedon said, noting that some of the warhead’s components date back to the 1960s.

“Only through extraordinary measures has this aging family of weapons remained safe, secure and effective far beyond its originally planned operational life,” Kehler told the House panel. No full-scope nuclear modernization programs have taken place since production of new warheads was suspended in the 1990s, Creedon added.

The B61-12 modernization program is intended to address several components that are affected by age-related issues, Creedon said, and will give the B61-12 an extended lifespan while making sustainment more cost-effective.

The nation’s nuclear forces perform three key functions, Kehler told the subcommittee. They deter potential adversaries, assure allies and partners of the United States’ extended deterrence commitments to them, and “in the unlikely event deterrence fails, [they employ] nuclear weapons when directed by the president to achieve U.S. and allied objectives,” he said.

Effectively performing those missions, the general said, requires modernized nuclear delivery systems and programs that can repair and replace aging components.

A multi-decade effort to revitalize the nuclear deterrent force and its supporting infrastructure is just beginning, Kehler told the panel. The B61-12 life extension program is just one aspect of that effort, he said, which includes upgrades to the land-based ballistic missile capability, replacement of Ohio-class submarines, development of a new long-range penetrating bomber and upgrades to the existing B-52H Stratofortress and B-2A Spirit bomber force.

In addition, the nuclear enterprise’s baseline modernization program, called the “3-plus-2 strategy,” will consolidate 12 unique warhead types into three interoperable variants deliverable from land-based platforms and submarines, with two additional variants for aerial platforms, Creedon said. This would set the stage for a reduction in the total number of stockpiled nuclear weapons, she noted.

A key component of the life extension program is the replacement of an expensive parachute system with a newly designed tail assembly, which Creedon noted will increase the B61-12’s accuracy. And with increased accuracy comes the ability to decrease the weapon’s yield without reducing its capabilities, the assistant secretary added.

The new tail kit plays a critical role in integrating the B61-12 with the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter, Creedon said. Without it, the F-35 will not be able to use the weapon, she explained, preventing the aircraft from fulfilling its intended role as the only dual-capable fighter in the U.S. inventory.

The life extension program is estimated to cost about $8.1 billion through 2024, Creedon said, and the Defense Department continues to examine the program for potential savings. Despite these efforts, she said, the program remains threatened by sequestration.

Cuts to other programs have stressed the baseline modernization program, the assistant secretary said, and are contributing to unplanned cost increases in the B61-12 life extension program by lengthening development and production periods.

“The commitment we make to refurbish this nuclear weapon system will serve as a concrete signal to the world of our commitment to the nation’s security and our position as a guarantor of nuclear deterrence and assurance to our allies and partners,” Creedon told the House panel.

The B61-12 is an important component of this commitment, she added, and to the department’s commitment to the revitalization of the nation’s nuclear deterrent.

JTF-Bravo teams with Honduras' Special Olympics, hosts soccer tournament

by Capt. Zach Anderson
Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs


10/30/2013 - SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- Joint Task Force-Bravo partnered with the Special Olympics-Honduras and the Honduran Air Force to host the Special Olympics soccer tournament here, Oct. 25-26.

Volunteers from Joint Task Force-Bravo provided full support for the two-day event. U.S. service members prepared the soccer field each day and equipped it with tents, bleachers and tables. The American military members provided medical personnel as well as security for the players and spectators throughout the tournament. Joint Task Force-Bravo also coordinated transportation for the athletes from Comayagua to Soto Cano Air Base and back each day.

Additionally, civilian employees and military personnel from Joint Task Force-Bravo gave donations to provide lunch and snacks for the athletes participating in the tournament.

"We had people from across the entire task force volunteer to help support this event," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Michael Frazier, Joint Task Force-Bravo director of civil affairs. "Everyone stepped up and worked hard to ensure the Special Olympics soccer tournament here was a success and that we provided something special for these inspirational athletes."

The involvement of Joint Task Force-Bravo in the event began when Frazier was contacted by Gracia Mendez, Executive Director of Special Olympics-Honduras.

"We came knocking at their door requesting help and we really didn't know what to expect," said Mendez. "I honestly did not expect this much support. I thought we might just get permission to use the field, but we got so much more than that. All the volunteers worked so hard and made this such an incredible event for the Special Olympics athletes. It's just been wonderful."

During down-time between games, members of Joint Task Force-Bravo visited with the athletes and played games with them to keep them entertained.

"It's an incredibly rewarding experience to interact with the kids," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Steven Brettler, Joint Task Force-Bravo operations superintendent. "It doesn't matter that we don't speak the same language, we can still communicate and I can put a smile on their faces just by spending time with them. That is really special."

The event marked the first time Special Olympics-Honduras has partnered with two countries at one time. Mendez said the strong relationship between the United States and Honduras made the event a success.

"It was just great," said Mendez. "The Americans and the Hondurans came together as one family to work together and make this tournament something very special for these athletes."
While the event may have been for the Special Olympians, members of Joint Task Force-Bravo took something valuable away from the experience as well.

"You see these kids come out to compete and they are so driven," said U.S. Army Col. Thomas Boccardi, Joint Task Force-Bravo commander. "They have very strong drive for excellence, and they want to win. And we share that drive with them; it's something we have in common. You watch them, and you have this great interaction with them and you begin to realize you really can do something while you are here in Honduras to make a difference. You realize you can be a part of something bigger than yourself...and there is great value in that."

CGOC, WSA bring treats not tricks to group home

by Capt. Tamara Fischer-Carter
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/30/2013 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -  -- The Company Grade Officer's Council and 51st Wing Staff Agencies combined forces to bring Halloween treats to residents of the Seongsimdongwon Group Home for the disabled in Osan City, Oct. 27.

The 18 volunteers' objective was simple: spend some quality time with the home's residents and share some smiles.

Some members of the team handed out bags of treats and other visitors jumped rope, played volleyball and soccer while fostering a good relationship with the community.

"I had a great time playing soccer and being able to interact with the kids," said Staff Sgt. Y Jin Ding Plai, 51st FW commander executive administrator. "They all had their individual personalities so that was neat to get to know them personally. I look forward to coming back and helping out again because it was such a great experience."

Several volunteers even helped out in the kitchen to prepare lunch and aided in the clean-up process afterward.

"Life can get so hectic that I sometimes lose perspective. Stepping out into the community and helping out the less fortunate reminds me to reflect on the little things I often take for granted," said Captain Christopher Hinahon, 51st FW general dentist. "All respect goes out to the workers and volunteers at the group home. It must take an enormous amount of patience and vigilance keeping the children safe, fed, and happy."

Master Sgt. Jessica McWain, 51st FW Staff and 51st Comptroller Squadron first sergeant, recognizes the work required to maintain the home and said plans are in the works to continue visits like this one every other month to help.

"I think we're onto something here," McWain said. "Through the efforts of our volunteers, we not only boosted morale with the in-room visits and sports, we were able to serve lunch for more than 120 residents and students with special needs. This allowed several employees to enjoy some compensatory time off."

Anyone interested in volunteering for future trips should contact Capt. Tamara Fischer-Carter, 51st Fighter Wing chief of Public Affairs, at Tamara.Fischer-Carter@us.af.mil, or McWain at Jessica.McWain@us.af.mil.