Saturday, November 30, 2013

Welsh: Air Force Performs Vital National Security Missions

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2013 – The Air Force mission that calls for it to dominate the air, transport troops and materiel and provide communications and intelligence are all critical to American military success, but performing them is hard for the public to visualize because much of this goes on behind the scenes, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said.

For example, achieving air superiority in a conflict has for decades been an exceptionally successful Air Force mission, Welsh said during an interview following his and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody’s trip earlier this week to visit airmen at Grand Forks Air Force, N.D., and Ellsworth AFB, S.D.

Yet the air-dominance mission is hard to illustrate, Welsh said, because the scope of the undertaking is so massive.  For example, he said, even if reporters could embed to cover the action, they can’t ride in the fighter aircraft. They would be on a tanker and would only witness the mission’s air-refueling component.

“They won’t see the other 15 tracks that are active at the same time or the hundreds of other airplanes that come through every day,” Welsh said during the interview. “The reporters won’t see the command and control that manages the airspace. They won’t see the building of the air tasking order that goes out to everything that is flying in theater. You just can’t go to one place and see it.”

Welsh described one of his own experiences in discovering how much goes on behind the scene in support of every Air Force operation.

“As a pilot, I have never … been to a refueling track … where the tanker wasn’t there,” he said. “All the infrastructure behind making that happen -- no one will ever see it. I just know it’s going to happen.”

Another component critical to mission success is transportation, Welsh said. When the president makes a decision to put a brigade combat team on the ground in some country, he said, there is never a doubt that the Air Force can get them there.

“The pieces that have to be there fast, will get there fast,” Welsh said. “The Navy or Army will follow up with the heavier equipment. No one ever doubts it.”

Americans appreciate what the Air Force does in the abstract, but they really don’t know all of the work that goes into accomplishing these missions, the general said.

“They don’t see those 100,000 mobility airmen who are just grinding away at the big transportation system -- moving people, moving equipment,” he said.

Welsh described other aspects that fall under the Air Force’s purview that Americans don’t think about but are crucial to national security such as global positioning system networks, command-and-control satellites and missile-warning satellites. The people who design, launch, maintain and monitor these assets are equally critical to military success.

Many of the capabilities that make the U.S. military the preeminent armed force in the world are Air Force capabilities, Welsh said.

“You don’t just throw the Marines into a location somewhere and expect that no one is going to attack from the air,” he said.

The Air Force partners with the other military service branches to achieve mission success, said Welsh, emphasizing that the U.S. military is a joint force in the truest sense of the word.

“We have the capacity to do these things on a theater scale,” the general said. “Nobody else can resupply on a theater scale, do intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance on a theater scale or provide space capabilities on a theater scale.”

U.S. Ambassador Thanks Troops for Aid to Philippines

USS Germantown

USS GERMANTOWN At Sea, Nov. 29, 2013 – U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines Philip S. Goldberg visited sailors and Marines aboard the USS Germantown on Thanksgiving Day as the ship steamed through Leyte Gulf.

Goldberg thanked the service members for their role in assisting the people of the Philippines during Operation Damayan.

Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever, made landfall in the Philippines on Nov. 7. In response to a request for assistance by the government of the Philippines, the Germantown and USS Ashland relieved the George Washington Strike Group of its relief mission Nov. 21.

Goldberg was joined by U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John E. Wissler, the commander of Joint Task Force 505, Rear Adm. Hugh Wetherald, the commander of Amphibious Forces 7th Fleet, and other distinguished guests.

JTF-505 is overseeing U.S. military-provided relief efforts during Operation Damayan in coordination with the armed forces of the Philippines, other international militaries and nongovernmental organizations.

During his visit, Goldberg was given a tour of the ship, met with sailors and Marines and thanked the crew for their service.

“In my many years of service, I have been honored to work with Marines and sailors, and I’ve been impressed every time,” he said. “You all have done amazing work here, and I’m proud to share Thanksgiving with you.”

Wissler also addressed the Marines and sailors about the impact they’ve had on the people of the Philippines.

“What the Navy and Marine Corps team has done here is help bring peace of mind with your presence in the area,” he said. “Our partnership with the government of the Philippines shows we are here with them during a difficult time. I couldn’t be more proud of your ability to respond when called.”

The Germantown, along with the Ashland, embarked Commander, Amphibious Squadron Eleven, Naval Beach Unit 7 and elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, is operating in support of Operation Damayan.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Welsh: Airmen Should Use Common Sense in Approaching Missions

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D., Nov. 27, 2013 – Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody told airmen at the 28th Bomb Wing here yesterday that they need to use common sense as they go about their duties.

 “No one knows your jobs better than you do,” the general told about 1,000 airmen gathered in the base’s Pride Hanger today. “You are the experts in your missions.”

Common sense would dictate that if airmen run across something in their duties that doesn’t make sense, then they should suggest better ways to do them, Welsh said. “If it’s a policy, or a guideline, or an [Air Force Instruction], or a reporting requirement, and you can’t figure out why it makes sense to be doing it, then maybe we shouldn’t be doing it,” the general said. “If it doesn’t match common sense then I don’t care what it says in the AFI, let’s talk about it.”

There is enough to do, the general said, without blindly following guidelines or instructions that may have been in place for more than 20 years. Airmen need to identify things that don’t make sense and bring them to supervisors and commanders.

Supervisors and commanders owe these young airmen the respect and courtesy to listen, Welsh said. “When your young airmen or NCOs or young officers come to you and say, ‘I don’t understand why we are doing things this way,’ pay attention,” the general said.

“Our young NCOs and officers are bright, they are savvy, they are just better,” he said. “Listen to what they have to say. If what they say makes common sense, even if it disagrees with an AFI, let’s look at the AFI and change it.”

Welsh stressed that all airmen must take ownership of this responsibility. “Don’t be afraid to speak up,” he told the airmen.

Welsh talked about the 30-day Every Dollar Counts campaign that the Air Force held earlier this year. “We did that campaign so I could ask this question: Why over 30 days did 11,000 airmen have to go to a website to offer a good idea?” he asked. “We launched the campaign to see if there were ideas out there, where did they come from, who they relate to and why weren’t they coming out in discussions.”

A few of the ideas were just bad ideas, the general said. “A whole lot of them were good ideas,” he said. “A huge percentage of them are wing-level and below.”

These are ideas that should bubble up from the wings, but airmen don’t feel comfortable putting them forward, Welsh said. “They don’t think their supervisors or next level supervisors want them to make waves or their commanders will listen to them,” he said.

Welsh again urged every airman to feel free to put forward ideas and every supervisor and commander to listen. “We should encourage the input,” he said. “Where there is a good idea we need to jump all over it. And your wing commander can make these decisions. He can decide what makes sense and if he decides it makes more sense your way, then he has the authority to tell you guys to change it.”

The general told the airmen that he will practice what he preaches: he has told the Air Staff in the Pentagon to include the common sense test in every decision they make.

Face of Defense: Marine Leaves ‘No Rock Unturned’

By Marine Corps Cpl. Paul Peterson
Regional Command Southwest

CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan, Nov. 27, 2013 – He tends his peculiar garden every day –- a pterodactyl, President Abraham Lincoln, even a scaled-down model of Stonehenge.

The fields of gravel around Camp Bastion are a ripe, rocky orchard ready for the picking. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Gregory Miller, a maintenance controller with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 165, Regional Command (Southwest), scours the fields along the base’s roads and living areas daily.

He said he’s taught himself quite a bit about the geology of Helmand province just by picking through the fields of gravel, looking for the perfect rock for his sculptures.

“Leave no rock unturned,” he joked, walking to one of his favorite gathering areas. “Just walking around here long enough, all you’ll see is rocks. They’re everywhere, and there’s nothing else to look at, so I put the first [sculpture] right next to my room.”

It’s probably the closest thing to an actual garden any of the Marines have, so Miller made it a reflection of the service members around him. He built a motorcycle for his biker neighbor and a tractor for a friend who was raised on a farm.

“I kind of made [life] comfortable for them,” said Miller, a native of Raritan, N.J. “It definitely gives them a morale boost. There are so many people who go through here just to check it out. It brings them back.”

Stone representations of the Starship Enterprise, an old Huey helicopter, and even Kim Kardashian, all stem from personal requests or ideas inspired by the Marines. After each 12-hour work shift, Miller walks around the base in search the right rock for his next inspiration.

He erected Stonehenge with approximately 75 stones as part of a challenge from one of the officers in his unit. He even added a stovepipe hat to Abraham Lincoln to make sure people recognized the figure.

It took him nearly ten days to find enough pieces for his rendition of the Great Pyramid.

“For each project somebody said something, or I was like, ‘I’m going to do this,’” said Miller, who considers himself more of a tinkerer than an artist. “It keeps my mind off everything else. I don’t have a worry in the world.”

Miller has a sculpture in front of each of his neighbor’s rooms –- the Eiffel Tower, a Greek amphitheater, the Marine Corps’ eagle, globe and anchor.

“I work the midnight to noon shift,” said Miller. “Most people will go to the gym or sit in their rooms and watch movies … I don’t really sit too well.”

Building rock sculptures is a new hobby to Miller. He started it when he first got to Camp Bastion more than two months ago. He created his first sculpture on a whim, and it grew from there.

“It’s kind of therapeutic,” said Miller, who spends hours trying to balance some of his structures. “You’re just thinking, ‘I’m going to get this. I’m going to get this.” I just keep putting it together until I’m finally finished. Then I take a step back and think, ‘I did it.’”

Miller jokingly compared his quest for rocks to his dating life until he found his wife. He just keeps searching until he finds a gem.

“When you start building something from nothing … It gives you a great sense of accomplishment,” said Miller. “I’ve trailed through every inch of this [living area], the mountains over there, and almost halfway around the flight line … it just feels healthy.”

Small stacks of rocks, rejected for one reason or another, dot the area outside Miller’s living quarters. Occasionally the wind or rain will topple some of his creations. Fixing the sculptures is just part of the therapy of it all, said Miller.

He said his newest challenge is to create a moving model of one of his unit's aircraft. 

Kiwi Flag cut short for some to respond to Typhoon Haiyan

by Senior Master Sgt. Denise Johnson
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

11/27/2013 - OHAKEA, New Zealand  -- Exercise Kiwi Flag began with 145 international participants and five aircraft, but as the real-world crisis in the Philippines came to light, some participants were called to pack up and head to the typhoon-struck country.

Kiwi Flag is a multilateral Royal New Zealand Air Force-sponsored tactical airlift exercise conducted in New Zealand. The United States Air Force, RNZAF, Royal Australian Air Force, Republic of Singapore Air Force and French Armed Forces of New Caledonia provided air assets and personnel for the engagement. Air operations were conducted out of RNZAF Base Ohakea, New Zealand.

"The basis for this exercise is to enhance our ability to integrate when it comes to unified responses," said RNZAF Air Commodore Mike Yardley, the Joint Forces Air Component commander for exercises Southern Katipo and Kiwi Flag, "All the participants are here because they care and their leadership cares; so it came as no surprise when several units and aircraft, including our own, departed to support that critical operation [in the Philippines]."

Both the Australia people and aircraft, and the New Zealand aircraft were diverted from the exercise leaving two U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster IIIs, one RSAF C-130 Hercules and a French CASA 235 from New Caledonia to make up the remaining KF contingency. The KF participants were also providing airlift to another New Zealand exercise, Southern Katipo.

Southern Katipo is New Zealand Defence Force's largest multilateral, joint-force, amphibious exercise wherein eight other nations were participating: United States Army and Marines, Australia, Canada, France, Malaysia, Singapore, Papua New Guinea and Tonga.

"Our participation numbers decreased [due to Operation Damayan] but the remaining crews, maintenance and air movements personnel worked hard to ensure objectives were met, including airdrop, low-level navigation and in some cases night sorties," RNZAF Base Ohakea Wing Commander Richard Beaton explained.

Despite the dwindling participants and aircraft maintenance issues, 116 participants and four aircraft remained tallying 153 flight hours, moving 405,715 Kg of freight, 1,056 passengers, and two sick military working dogs.

"We came here with the intention of performing to our best ability," said RSAF Maj. Jeff Lee, detachment commander from the RSAF's 122 Squadron in Singapore. "I think we achieved our overall objectives and in some cases exceeded our own expectations -- it's interactions such as these that enhance a combined effectiveness."

The C-17s and C-130s also provided a platform for heavy-equipment, light-equipment and container-delivery-system cargo drops along with several personnel drops during the exercise.

"The Singapore C-130 crews achieved their exercise objectives, maintaining a high aircraft serviceability rate," said RNZAF Flight Lt. Jimmy Davidson, Kiwi Flag Wing Operations Center member. "During the exercise the Singaporeans also flew a mission to drop supplies and rations to the NZ Army in the South Island, which was well received of course."

The RSAF C-130 crews conducted 20 sorties and nine aerial deliveries or cargo drops.

"We had a very successful sortie rate," Lee explained. "I attribute that to the training and the hard work our maintainers put into the aircraft prior to the exercise ... that preparation, along with the support we received from our New Zealand host and the other participants, enabled us to get the job done."

Participants were also able to engage with their Pacific partners in ground recoveries of aerial deliveries, observations in low-terrain flying, parachute rigging, aircraft maintenance collaboration and much more.

"Kiwi Flag abounded with opportunities to improve capabilities in a multinational setting," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Phillip Shea, 517th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander. "You can't get this at home: the interaction with our brothers and sisters in uniform goes far beyond the technical experience gained. Our airmen developed an appreciation and a respect for one another -- they learned how to apply ingenuity, how to communicate, how to overcome roadblocks and limitations ... they are better able to respond to foreign environments."

Shea is deployed from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, which along with Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, comprised the two U.S. Air Force bases to deploy units to Kiwi Flag. Shea is the 517th Airlift Squadron director of operations at JBER. He hails from Winthrop Harbor, Ill.

"I'm sure this exercise will benefit future real-world responses for things such as humanitarian relief and disaster response scenarios," Lee said. "... Getting to know other countries' capabilities and interacting with one another is invaluable -- and also understanding the limitations that sometimes arise, as well -- I think Kiwi Flag will benefit us in any collaboration in the future."

Though New Zealand hosted the exercise, all of the participants took on the dual role of teacher and student.

"It's not a one-man show: it's everyone coming together and helping each other," Lee said.

The remaining participants wrapped up nearly three weeks of subject-matter-expert exchanges Nov. 27.

"It's been a phenomenal experience to host our multinational counterparts," Yardley said. "We faced a real-world natural disaster and various maintenance issues, but in the end, that's what this exercise is all about: overcoming obstacles to enable a rapid, responsive unified force with our partners in the Pacific ... and I think we did just that."

Travis SARC team visits ROTC cadets

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

11/22/2013 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Sexual assault may be the most underreported violent crime in the United States and eliminating sexual assault from the military remains a top priority for Department of Defense leadership.

To assist with this priority, the Travis Sexual Assault Response Coordinators educated Air Force ROTC cadets at Detachment 088 at California State University, Sacramento, on key sexual assault facts, restricted and unrestricted reporting procedures, and opened their eyes to signs of sexual harassment and assault.

"It was very important to incorporate the Travis SARC team in our cultural change leadership lab because Air Force ROTC cadets are not only the next generation of Air Force leaders, but are also in the primary age range for increased incidences of sexual assault," said Lt. Col. Jennifer Stokes, Air Force ROTC Detachment 088 commander. "For many of our cadets, this was the first time they have discussed this topic in a public forum. They need to be aware of the resources and process available for themselves as well as their subordinates, both now as cadets and in the future when they become Air Force officers."

Recognizing the separation of the cadets from active-duty culture, the Travis SAPR team jumped at the opportunity to educate the cadets on current statistics and procedures.

"They are the up and coming officer corps and future leaders or the Air Force," said Capt. Erin Mires, deputy sexual assault response coordinator. "If we instill in them now the values we need to stop sexual assault through bystander intervention, for example telling people to knock it off when there is sexual harassment present or inappropriate touching, then they have the habits and actions when they enter active duty. They'll be better leaders that will promote a positive environment and culture free of sexual assault and harassment."

The cadets echoed the need for the Travis team to help shape the cadet's culture.

"In the Air Force ROTC atmosphere, cadets experience a unique environment that includes being a full time student on a college campus while preparing for a future career in the Air Force," said Cadet Jessica Dacpano. "The cadet wing was not only educated, but inspired to create a culture of respect as future leaders in the Air Force."

At Travis, the SARCs inspire units to change their culture by focusing on barriers to reporting sexual assault, assisting commanders with limiting barriers, building and establishing trust within the SARC program, building awareness on how to make reports and encouraging people to get the help they need.

"The SAPR program is an asset to the Air Force because it creates avenues to support victims, offers guidance and increases awareness on a sensitive topic through education," said Dacpano.

A recent Air Force initiative for supporting victims is the creation of the Special Victims' Counsel. The mission of the SVC is to provide support to victims of sexual assault through independent representation, build and sustain victim resiliency, empower victims and increase the level of legal assistance provided to victims. This counsel is comprised of Judge Advocate General Corps whose full-time job is to represent, support and advocate for survivors. One of the 10 SVCs is located at Travis.

In addition to gaining insights from the Travis SARCs, the cadet's leadership lab included testimonies from fellow cadets who have been personally involved in sexual assault cases, either as a victim or as an intervening bystander.

For Cadet Ashley Frost, the briefings and testimonies provided new perspectives on sexual assault and the resources available. The examples and definitions increased her awareness on the issue and how to apply the facts to her personal life.

"The biggest take away from the SARC briefing was the prevalence of the problem," Frost said. "The statistics were staggering. It is an issue that could affect anyone."

Air Force focuses on nuclear security, operations

The Air Force's nuclear mission continues to have the attention of leaders across the discipline, the Air Force chief of staff said here yesterday.

Gen. Mark A. Welsh III categorically stated that he is not worried about the surety and security or the operational capability of the Air Force's nuclear force.

"It's fine," Welsh said during an interview.

This does not mean he is satisfied.

"I think you have to worry about the morale of your Air Force every day," Welsh said. "It's a tough business and we do it in some tough areas. The nuclear business is a very difficult job."

Welsh's first trip as chief of staff last year was to visit the Air Force units that maintain the nation's intercontinental ballistic missiles -- one third of America's nuclear triad.

"If you go to our nuclear bases, the great majority of our people are really proud of what they do and how they do it," he said. "They know how important they are to the nation."

The 20th Air Force -- the unit charged with the nuclear mission -- had worked diligently to improve readiness and capabilities of these units.

"The trend lines were moving in the right direction, but not as quickly as people wanted," Welsh said.

Leaders at Air Force Global Strike Command and the 20th Air Force spent years restoring an Air Force-wide focus on the nuclear business.

"I think that had gained a lot of traction in the process," the general said. "But they weren't satisfied with the speed of the process."

Commanders needed to look at all the signals to ensure the process is moving in the right direction. A team from Global Strike Command came in to look at the situation, build terms of reference and create a long-term plan to do better, Welsh said.

His question to the commanders was "Why wait?"

He brought in a team from the Rand Corporation to assess the situation and look at short-term improvements that could be made. That study would be briefed all the way up the chain of command to the chief of staff and to the Air Staff.

All the studies found that the nuclear program is on track and moving forward, the general said.

The trend lines on behavior and discipline are positive.

"I was looking at [the number of] Article 15s for the commands this year and the rate in 20th Air Force is below the Air Force average," he said.

Are there problems? Yes, Welsh said. But they are being dealt with.

"You are always going to have people when you are in tough climates, doing tough work, who are frustrated by little things -- the heater doesn't work in the truck, it's a 16-hour day once you figure in travel time and so on," he said. These and many other aspects are being studied and dealt with.

No one in the Air Force is ignoring anything about the nuclear force, Welsh said.

"To my mind, the fact that people get disciplined is actually a good thing," he said. "The fact that we have commanders saying, 'Yes, I know it's not a failing grade but it's not good enough for me,' is a good thing. This indicates there are commanders who are engaged and proactively seeking to improve performance."

Welsh said it is not just commanders taking ownership of the mission, but also supervisors and senior leaders on the officer and enlisted side.

"There are problems, but there are a lot of good things happening out there that we need to pay attention to," he said.