Friday, January 11, 2013

Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet Turns 70

By Lt. Brian Wierzbicki, CTF 76 Public Affairs
OKINAWA, Japan (NNS) -- The staff of Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet celebrated its 70th anniversary with a ceremony at White Beach Naval Facility.

The Seventh Amphibious Force was known as the Amphibious Force, Southwest Pacific. On Dec. 15, 1942 Rear Adm. Daniel E. Barbey received orders from commander in chief, U.S. Fleet, to establish this force and he assumed command Jan. 10, 1943.

Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet addressed Sailors and Marines about the history of the amphibious fleet and the significant contributions of our amphibious forces to the Pacific region during the past 70 years.

"We are proud of our history and heritage," said Harley "our legacy throughout the past seven decades has brought peace and stability to this region."

During World War II Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet participated in every assault landing in the Southwest Pacific and took part in the occupation landings following the successful completion of the war.

Since then, the assigned forward deployed naval assets have participated in every major conflict, conducted multilateral exercises supporting the cooperative engagement strategy and provided humanitarian assistance to strengthen our bond with coalition partners.

"We recognize that security and stability are forged in these partnerships," said Harley "we must continue our commitment to our allies and partners in the Pacific."
Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet is responsible for conducting expeditionary warfare operations supporting a full range of theater contingencies including humanitarian and disaster relief operations and full combat operations to help maintain peace and stability and protect our vital interests in the Pacific.

Navy Recruiting Command Honors Top Recruiters

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Sonja M. Chambers, Commander, Navy Recruiting Command Public Affairs
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Navy Recruiting Command (NRC) recognized its FY 2012 Recruiters of the Year (ROY) during a ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., Jan. 9.

Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, Rear Adm. Earl L. Gay, honored 13 of NRC's top Active and Reserve recruiters from around the world.

Guest speaker, Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Adm. Scott R. Van Buskirk, said the Navy relies on recruiters to find new talent for the Navy's future.

"There is no Navy without Sailors and there are no Sailors without recruiters," he said. "The successful completion of our Navy's global mission begins by recruiting the best and the brightest of our nation's young men and women to serve. Because of the hard work and dedication of our recruiters, today's force is more intelligent, more fit and more diverse than we've ever seen. Our awardees have separated themselves from among their peers by performing exemplary service in recruiting the next generation Sailor."

Operations Specialist 1st Class (SW) Matthew Tucker, Enlisted Recruiter of the Year, Active, said receiving the honor was a very humbling experience.

"I know there are many people out there just like me grinding and trying to get the job done, so I'm very happy and honored to receive this award," he said.

Gas Turbine System Technician (Mechanical) 1st Class (SW) Duane Curato, Enlisted Recruiter of the Year, Reserve, said mentoring and leadership were key to his success.

"Being a recruiter is not difficult," he said. "You just have to be on top of your game and ask your leaders for guidance because they are always there to support you."

The ceremony was part of a week-long event honoring the ROY. Recruiters and their guests visited many top Navy officials including Secretary of the Navy the Honorable Ray Mabus; Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mark Ferguson, and Chief of Navy Reserve, Commander, Navy Reserve Force, Vice Adm. Robin R. Braun. They also toured various D.C. sites, including the White House, Pentagon, Library of Congress and Arlington National Cemetery where the two Enlisted ROY placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Other top recruiters for FY 2012 were: Lt. Lincoln Schneider, Officer Recruiter of the Year, Active; Lt. Stephen Graff, Officer Recruiter of the Year, Reserve; Electrician's Mate 1st Class (SS) Daniel Macomber, Nuclear Field Coordinator of the Year; Navy Counselor 1st Class (AW/SW) Brian Dubose, Station Leading Petty Officer of the Year; Personnel Specialist 1st Class (SW) Benjamin Erdelyi, Jr., Classifier of the Year; Chief Navy Counselor (SW) Dewayne Scott, Division Leading Chief Petty Officer of the Year; Fire Controlman 1st Class (SW) Aurelio Herrera, Diversity Enlisted Recruiter of the Year; Lt. Carolyn Starks-Holman, Medical Officer Recruiter of the Year; Navy Counselor 1st Class (SS) Brian Fields, Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Recruiter of the Year; Gunner's Mate 2nd Class (EXW) Conner Mastry, Navy Special Warfare/Navy Special Operations Recruiter of the Year; Personnel Specialist 1st Class (AW) Kerri Scranton, Support Person of the Year.

IG checks 21 SOPS twice

by Staff Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

1/9/2013 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- After a Consolidated Unit Inspection Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, the 21st Space Operations Squadron will undergo another CUI in January as a tenant unit at the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

The 30 SW is receiving a CUI Phase 1 and 2, as opposed to the 50th Space Wing's Phase 0. Phase 1 and 2 focuses heavily on readiness, including responses and deployments, while Phase 0 is strictly compliance.

"One of the challenges of being a geographically-separated unit is that you have to work with multiple organizations and bridge the gaps between host and parent unit activities," said Lt. Col. Michael Wulfestieg, 21 SOPS commander. "As a valued mission partner of 30 SW, we will support their inspection at whatever level necessary to prove to the IG that 30 SW can fully execute its mission and all those assigned to this base."

The AFSPC IG team is expected to focus the inspection on 30 SW's readiness and exercises and may visit 21 SOPS to observe its interactions with the wing. This includes how guidance and information from the wing is transmitted to 21 SOPS and how they work together. Individual programs will also be assessed in association with the inspections on the wing-level functional area manager.

"As with any inspection, this allows our team to focus on our programs and tighten up anything that may be lacking," said Kathryn Brady, 21 SOPS unit program coordinator. "It also gives us a chance to interact with our host base functional area managers and IG, which will strengthen our professional connections with Vandenberg."

Wulfestieg said the preparation for the last CUI is beneficial for ensuring another successful CUI because it identified areas that needed work to bring them into compliance.

The 21 SOPS began scrutinizing its programs in October 2011 in an effort to reinvigorate those that had little attention during the 2009-2011 transition effort from Onizuka Air Force Station to Vandenberg.

"Much of the initial groundwork was already complete and since we had already prepared our 50 SW programs, it was easier to flow right into our 30 SW programs," Brady said. "Anything we learned from the 50 SW CUI, we took into consideration with our 30 SW programs. Additionally, we saw what was written up against the 50 SW, so we could use those write-ups as benchmarks in preparation for this next CUI."

The squadron reviewed all the mandatory programs and host-tenant support agreements at each of its six operating locations to determine which programs fell under the authority of host bases versus the 50 SW.

"It obviously took the entire team," Wulfestieg said. "We are actually a fairly small unit, when you look at how many locations we are operating day to day. That means some individuals have anywhere from two to 10 programs they are responsible for, so teamwork was essential to make sure we worked as efficiently as possible during the inspection spin up."

The program managers at the squadron headquarters made the extra effort to consolidate status and updates for all the various locations, which simplified the lines of communication, and helped to distribute the workload across the entire team. The squadrons also partnered with 30 SW units such as communications, safety, Office of Special Investigations, security forces, IG and the 148th Space Operations Squadron to make sure the IG team reception and logistics were successfully executed.

"The 21 SOPS members at Vandenberg, and across all of our locations, have been working hard to bring programs and processes up to a high level of compliance and to maintain that standard. The 50 SW CUI results proved that we were doing extremely well," Wulfestieg said.

The commander said the 21 SOPS team made huge improvements across the board, which was noted during the 50th Network Operations Group staff assistance visit in January 2012, and showed in 50 SW CUI results.

"All of that, day to day mission operations have proceeded without missing a beat, sustaining a fantastic success rate, supporting all of our hosted organizations and missions at our sites, and ensuring access to space for 2nd Space Operations Squadron, 22nd Space Operations Squadron, all the Air Force Satellite Control Network users and ultimately the warfighters," he said. "This squadron spans half the globe, with locations 10,000 miles apart and in five different time zones. But we are an integrated team, closely synchronized to deliver operational excellence while maintaining impeccable compliance."

Detachment 2 of 21 SOPS will be part of the 36th Wing CUI at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, in May, while the 21 SOPS at Vandenberg will have a cyber-readiness inspection in September.

Aragon named best in AFSPC

by Lea Johnson
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

1/9/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Most Airmen probably don't notice what goes on around them in the Aragon Dining Facility. They have jobs to do. They need a meal so they can get back to supporting their missions.

For employees at the DFAC, making sure all these people have a good meal is their mission, and at the Aragon Dining Facility, they do it better than anyone else in Air Force Space Command.

The Aragon Dining Facility recently won the AFSPC nomination for the John L. Hennessy Award for Best Food Excellence in the Air Force.

"It's the first time in over 10 years we've had the nomination," said Master Sgt. Jason Merriam, 21st Force Support Squadron food services superintendent.

The last time Aragon won the nomination was in 2001.

The mission of the dining facility may get overlooked by some, but they are an important component of wartime readiness.

"We go to war, we set up food operations and dining tents. We hand out (Meals Ready to Eat)," Merriam said. "People have to eat."

Master Sgt. Porter Gee, 21st FSS section chief, said the Aragon Dining Facility keeps busy serving the Peterson AFB community.

"We're a little bit different because we support Reserve units. We go up against a lot of bases who just have a single war-time mission. We support ourselves, we support the Reserves, we also support Cheyenne Mountain (Air Force Station)," he said.

The staff at the Aragon is also different in another way.

"A lot of bases are going into contracting and what's called food transformation. There's no military, or there's very few military, in those facilities," Gee said. "The majority are military here in our facility. It's pretty unique."

According to Gee, the DFAC serves about 400 people a day during the week and about 100 meals on the weekend.

The Aragon Dining Facility also provides support to Schriever and Buckley Air Force Bases by storing MREs for them. "We hold onto that type of stuff for them, so when they need it we are accountable to it for them," Gee said.

A staff of 65, including 35 civilians and 30 active duty members, keeps the dining facility in tip-top shape.

According to Merriam, to win the western division nomination and move on to compete at the Air Force level, the Aragon Dining Facility must first undergo a thorough inspection of the facility covering everything from cleanliness to management. He said it's important every piece is in order.

Merriam said the 21st Medical Group Public Health already comes in once a month to do their inspection.

"We also do our own self inspections once a week. We're going to bump that up now to twice a week," he said, to prepare for the inspection.

The inspection for the John L. Hennessy Award will happen in late January or early February. The winner will be announced in April.

Regardless of what happens now, Gee and Merriam are both excited to have the trophy for the AFSPC nomination on display at the Aragon Dining Facility.

"We are proud," Merriam said. "We are very, very proud."

Volunteer or not, BMT needs the best

by Nathan Simmons
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

1/11/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Adjustments to the military training instructor selection process will be made in early 2013 - driven by a recent review of basic military training that stressed the need for experienced and talented non-commissioned officers to train America's new Airmen.

AETC Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. James Cody said MTI duty is one of the most significant and rewarding duties an Airman can perform, and that all Airmen should understand this critical point -- by being selected, the Air Force recognizes an Airman's ability to perform a duty that requires the highest level of professionalism.

"We need our very best Airmen as MTIs. We all remember the impact our MTI had on our transformation from civilian to Airman," Cody said. "There is no question, the experience at BMT is the foundation for all enlisted Airmen, and we absolutely need the very best NCOs leading this effort."

A thorough review of BMT was conducted, highlighting the need to institute several changes in various aspects of the program, one of which will be assigning two MTIs to each flight of trainees. The volunteer base for MTI duty will be combined and enhanced with a selection process that includes volunteers and non-volunteers best qualified for the job.

Volunteers for MTI assignments are given first consideration, but the Air Force Personnel Center will review each candidate on a case-by-case basis and select eligible individuals deemed qualified for this special duty assignment from a prioritized roster using the current assignment availability process.

Applicants need to be technical sergeants or master sergeants with no more than 16 years total Air Force military service, have an overall rating of five on their last three performance reports, and must have or be able to obtain three years of PCS "retainability" for an assignment as an MTI. Airmen must have no history of behavioral problems, and must meet the highest professional standards to be selected for MTI duty.

"Three decades of force structure changes have had many impacts on our Air Force and Airmen. We expect a great deal from all Airmen, and we must ensure we strike the right balance of experience, education, and training," Cody said. "MTI duty is one of the areas our Airmen can continue their development; if selected, know you have been given the distinct honor to train our greatest asset -- our newest Airmen."

There are number of incentives that come with the territory, including special duty pay of $450 per month, a supplemental clothing allowance of $227 per year, the AETC Instructor Badge and the MTI ribbon. Master Sgt. Lucan Plata, who trained flights from June 2009 to October 2010 with the 326th Training Squadron, said it's about much more than ribbons and dollars.

"The intangibles here are what make this worthwhile. If you're doing it for extra pay and a ribbon, you're doing it for the wrong reasons," Plata said. "You do this for the future of the Air Force and for the Airmen. It's a selfless job, and if you truly enjoy serving, this is your opportunity to impact many young men and women."

Plata said he's learned more from trainees than he ever could teach them, and they allowed him to learn volumes about himself through teaching.

"This opportunity here is huge -- getting to train the very people you could be fighting side-by-side with one day," said Col. Mark Gaubert, AETC Special Duty Assignments director.

Applicants are encouraged to contact the MTI recruiting team via email at or call 210-473-1018 to speak with an MTI recruiter.

Face of Defense: Airman Strives to Become Pro Fighter

By Senior Airman Micaiah Anthony
2nd Bomb Wing

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La., Jan. 11, 2013 – Many people dream of becoming rich, or of houses with white picket fences, but one airman's dream is to be locked in a blood-stained steel cage with a professional mixed martial artist.

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Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeremy Caudillo works as a fitness supervisor at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. During his free time, he trains and competes in mixed martial arts competitions and helps his fellow airmen stay fit to fight. U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Micaiah Anthony

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For most, this would be a nightmare. But for Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeremy Caudillo, the 2nd Force Support Squadron fitness center supervisor here, his dream of becoming a professional MMA fighter is about to become reality.

"This has been a big dream of mine," Caudillo said. "My goal is to be the Ultimate Fighting Championship champion. I feel like MMA is my destiny."

Caudillo began his fighting career as a wrestler in high school and college. It wasn't until one of his deployments that he decided to pursue a career in MMA.

"I got interested in MMA when I was deployed to Afghanistan," he said. "I saw a few soldiers and some other guys doing combatives and jiu-jitsu, so I asked if I could partake. I started training with them, and it really started my career in MMA."

After Caudillo returned from his deployment, he joined an MMA gym and started competing in local amateur fights. His success in the ring attracted attention from producers of MTV's reality show “Caged.”

"Being on the show was good for publicity," Caudillo said. "It helped me meet a couple of people in UFC and make a lot of great connections."

After more than two years of hard work and training, Caudillo recently finished his amateur career with a 6-3 record.
"I feel like I am ready to go pro," he said. "I'm setting up my first pro fight for March, and I'll make my debut in the 135-pound weight class."

Though his MMA career is taking off, Caudillo still wants to be an airman.

"I still want to keep my Air Force career," he said. "It is nice to be able to work here at the fitness center. My job in the Air Force is to train people and keep them fit to fight."

The training he receives from the Air Force and MMA go hand in hand, Caudillo said, and help him to be a better fighter and airman.

"MMA has helped me learn a lot more as far as different types of workouts [are concerned]," he added. "What I learn at the MMA gym I take back to my squadron and use it to train people. I also use some of the fitness fundamentals that I learned in the Air Force to help me with my strength and endurance training for MMA."

Caudillo uses full-body workouts along with core and strength training to help his fellow airmen pass their physical fitness tests and stay in shape.

"Before, I would just do basic exercises like running, pushups and situps to pass my [fitness] test," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Crystal McElvane, 2nd Force Support Squadron unit deployment manager. "Working out with [Caudillo] is a different level of intensity; it's a total-body workout. I am definitely getting more tone."
In return, Caudillo receives a lot of support from the base community.

"A lot of my co-workers and other airmen come to my fights to support me," he said. "It feels great to have them come and cheer me on."

With his last amateur fight behind him and a promising professional MMA career in front of him, Caudillo will be in the gym doing one of two things: working or training.

Major Awarded Forrest S. McCartney Award

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

1/9/2013 - CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.  -- The first annual Forrest S. McCartney National Defense Space Award was presented to Maj. Kenneth Holmes, Air Force Special Operations Command chief of space training, at the National Space Club luncheon Tuesday.

The award and recognizes significant contributions of Department of Defense personnel on duty in Florida and is newly named for a retired Air Force lieutenant general and former director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

Major Holmes was selected for the award based on his ability to provide and integrate space capabilities to support in-garrison and deployed special operations forces world-wide. His contribution during his over 140-day deployment to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, as the Special Tactics Officer Chief and Space Officer In Charge for a Joint Task Force earned him praise as a leader and a technical expert.

Under his leadership, the JTF was able to support over 19,400 task force personnel during 384 direct action missions. He was able to significantly disrupt thousands of hours of enemy lines of communication, which resulted in 1,471 enemies captured or killed, including 166 high value individuals. Major Holmes' technical expertise made possible near real-time updates for task forces that enhanced planning and execution of missions and resulted in the capture of targets and significantly restricting enemy movement.

"It is humbling to receive this award," said Major Holmes. "I'm honored to be able to support those on the ground who risk their lives every day."

Brig. Gen. Anthony Cotton, 45th Space Wing commander, emphasized the important role the National Space Club has in recognizing the individuals who support both the space mission and helping Airmen.

"The National Space Club helps connect us all," said General Cotton, "and recognize the achievements of excellent performers."

Air Force Band, Honor Guard Prepare for Inauguration Day

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

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2013 – Preparation is nothing new to the U.S. Air Force Band and Honor Guard as they get ready for Jan. 21’s 57th presidential inauguration, bringing a total Air Force presence to the massive event.

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Air Force Col. Larry H. Lang, commander of the U.S. Air Force Band, conducts during a dress rehearsal for the Inaugural Parade, at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Jan. 11, 2013. DOD photo by Claudette Roulo

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After a dress rehearsal here today, Air Force Col. Larry Lang, commander and conductor of the U.S. Air Force Band, talked about some of the band’s efforts as the musical airmen prepare to continue the military tradition of support to presidential inaugurations.
“We have a ceremonial mission, so we’re always preparing for that,” he said. “We do parades and ceremonies throughout the year, so it’s not something new to us. The difference here is the size of it.”
Lang said the magnitude of the event requires more members of the band to participate.

“The band is 184 members. It’s divided into six different flights – six different ensembles, basically,” he said. “We’re using about 100 of those for this particular parade. So we’ve been rehearsing really hard; we rehearsed all day yesterday.”

Lang said tomorrow’s rehearsal will include the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve, before joining all the military services on the actual parade route Jan. 13.

“I think we’re preparing very steadily, very focused, and by the time the inauguration gets here, we’ll be ready,” he said.

The band commander and conductor, an El Paso, Texas, native and 22-year Air Force band officer, said he looks forward to representing the Air Force in his first inauguration.

“This is exciting,” Lang said. “Even though the band performs for the president and the vice president on a fairly regular basis, I am excited because this is on a worldwide stage. We have the privilege of representing all of our airmen all around the world, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Senior Airman Anthony Wagner, a Cambridge, Ill., native and noncommissioned officer for the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard’s color team, also is participating in his first inauguration.

“I feel pretty honored, pretty proud and a little nervous as well,” he said. “Representing the Air Force to the whole world, you want to put on a good show. I hope I can represent them well, because everyone’s seeing it as me carrying the nation’s colors, representing our country to the world as well.”

Wagner, who has served on the Air Force Honor Guard for three and a half years, said he’ll be nervous, but still confident, because preparation is second nature to the Honor Guard.

“The nerves, they’ll be there,” he said. “It’s not just another job, but at the same time, we’re prepared. And we’ve done many other big jobs as well, so we feel comfortable with what we’re doing.”

Wagner said he’ll advise his younger troops to stay cool and collected and that if they’re doing their job to the best of their abilities, everything will be fine.

“We’re excited and pretty honored that we get this opportunity,” he said.

From a planning and operational standpoint, senior NCOs such as Master Sgt. Kimberly Muhlecke are charged with maintaining the high standards of the Air Force Honor Guard.
“I can’t say there wasn’t a time since I got in the Air Force Honor Guard that we weren’t prepping for this day,” Muhlecke said. “Every single ceremony is unique, but they do share some commonalities. I feel like our guys, as sharp as they are, are ready all the time, to be honest.”

The standardizations NCO said the biggest difference is adjusting to the layout of the venue for a particular event, and “making what we do so well fit into that venue.”

One challenge, Muhlecke noted, will be the “nine-by-nine” formation in which 81 airmen march together. Formations for most parades, she added, consist of 15 to 18 airmen.

“This is only the second time we’ve used the nine-by-nine, so we have to get all of our airmen used to marching that large,” she said.

Muhlecke said she enjoys working alongside the “staunch professionals” in the Honor Guard, and that she looks forward to seeing all the military services together during the inauguration.

“I’m looking forward to seeing all the other elite members of my sister services and brother services,” she said. “We always look good when we’re out in full force.”

"Dear Airman" A deployer's Christmas surprise

by Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
36th Wing Public Affairs

1/10/2013 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- One of the pleasures that most deployed Airmen miss during the holiday season is the company of their beloved families and friends. For those who are parents, it's hard not having their children by their side.

Though most find comfort in technology in the form of live chat and emails, deployed Staff Sgt. David Ramirez, 554th RED HORSE Squadron services technician, received what he considered as the "best Christmas gift ever" this holiday season in an unexpected snail mail-sent package. This is his story:

"It's Christmas Eve, and since I'm deployed I'm missing my family even more than I thought possible. My unit just had an awesome Christmas party. All 12 days of Christmas events planned entirely by yours truly, but with a lot of other people's help in the execution process... thanks, Teasha.

I decided to check my email before going to bed, and I saw that there was a second mail call for today.

Wouldn't you know it, I had mail. I got an awesome package, which included the world's largest bag of potato chips! I have to thank the sender for that.

There was another package. It was addressed to the services NCOIC here, which is me. The package was from a kindergarten class at Andersen Elementary School, the school both my boys go to.

Students from the class made Christmas cards for the troops. After looking through all the names on the cards, I started recognizing some of the senders. They were from my son's class.

That's when I found it: the card my son had made. The card wasn't addressed to me; it came with a note asking to hand the cards out to as many Airmen as I could.

From Guam to Afghanistan, what were the odds that his card would make its way to me?

Here's what the back of his card said, 'Dear Airman, Merry Christmas, Love Michael.' That's it; short and sweet. He had no idea who he was making the card for, and somehow, it reached me. Best Christmas gift ever!"

Though being away from loved ones is one of the challenges that servicemembers encounter in tours and deployments, communities and families find ways to keep their hearts close. From a simple gesture made possible by Department of Defense Education Activity's Andersen Elementary School, a father was able to receive a remarkable Christmas surprise from his son, which made his Christmas on deployment a story worth telling.

Misawa starts New Year double booked

by Airman 1st Class Kenna Jackson
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/11/2013 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- As the 35th Fighter Wing conducts its Initial Readiness Response Exercise Jan. 10 to Jan. 12 at Misawa Air Base, Japan, it is hard to ignore the busy nature of the flightline.

Despite the fact the flightline plays an integral role during an IRRE, which tests the wing's ability to generate aircraft and deploy combat power, this time it seems to be busier. This is because they are not only simulating going to war, but also preparing for an aviation training relocation exercise next week.

Next week, the 13th Fighter Squadron will deploy to Guam, honing their combat skills and practicing live-munitions drops, which is something they can't do at Misawa.

"We don't have a range here where we can drop live bombs," said Lt. Col. John McDaniel, 13th Fighter Squadron commander. "At our local range, we can only drop inert munitions with a small explosive radius."

However in Guam, the 13 FS will be able to use a range capable of handling much larger explosives, added McDaniel.

Not only will pilots and maintainers gain more experience with their craft, but they will also get out of the bitter cold in Misawa during the winter season.

"When training in a tropical climate, not only are we warm, but we don't have to deal with being delayed during take-off due to snow and the jets have less malfunctions" said Capt. Jason Holmes, 13 FS assistant chief of standardization and evaluation.

Although the two exercises are essentially back-to-back, McDaniel said they aren't having any difficulties completing their tasks. Part of that reason is the 13 FS, 35th Maintenance Group and 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron lead coordinators have developed a way to effectively balance the multiple tasks needed to be mission ready.

"The way things are set up, we have some of the jets and crews getting ready for this simulated combat exercise. The rest are preparing for the training exercise scheduled for next week," said McDaniel.

According to Holmes, this seemingly daunting task is made easier because of the similarities between getting aircraft and people to a simulated war time exercise and an ATR exercise.

"It's true that the exercises are different," said Holmes. "In one scenario we are preparing our pilots and aircraft for a simulated war time setting, while on the other hand we're getting ready for an aviation training exercise. However, despite the differences between the two scenarios, the process of getting our pilots ready for their mission, out-processing procedures and having our maintainers re-configuring the jets for the mission are the similar."

McDaniel added that prioritizing and making sure everything was moving smoothly with the IRRE preparations helped to keep confusion and disorder from occurring within their ranks.

"Although there are times when the lines get a little blurred, we're doing our best to keep the two exercises separated," said McDaniel. "The primary mission, as of right now, is the IRRE and ensuring the 35th Fighter Wing is ready for contingency operations."

AMUs showcase readiness during exercise

by Airman 1st Class Kia Atkins
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/11/2013 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- The constant bombardment of emails containing the phrase "EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE" can only mean one thing: the base is demonstrating its combat knowledge during an Initial Response Readiness Exercise on Jan. 10, 2013.

An IRRE's unpredictable events are used to evaluate the wing's ability to organize and activate from peacetime readiness to wartime posture on short notice.

Some areas the wing is tested on include command and control, deployment processing, employment readiness, information operations and force protection. Not only does the wing have to ensure the readiness of its Airmen, it also has to ensure the readiness of its aircraft.

"What we look for in our aircraft is serviceability and safety in flight, which is the number one thing," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Baker, 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production section. "Every maintainer out here knows that if the call comes down and we must go, these aircraft have to be ready."

During exercises, the 13th and 14th Aircraft Maintenance Units assign aircraft into different sections during exercises called cells. Generally, each cell contains six aircraft.

"Every generation is different, but by working as a team we can achieve our goal," said Baker.

During this exercise, the AMUs came together to achieve their goal of generating safe and reliable aircraft, which helped demonstrate the wing's overall readiness.

"Every exercise is important, none of them are a joke or a game," said Baker. "It's good for Airmen to know that if we need to go to war, we're prepared."

State of the AF is 'strong'

by Master Sgt. Jess D. Harvey
Air Force Public Affairs

1/11/2013 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force's top leaders said today the service has accomplished much while dealing with many challenges in the last year.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III briefed members of the media here on the state of the service and its focus on the areas of force structure, readiness and modernization.

"America's Airmen are focused on their missions, and they demonstrate every day what it means to be members of the world's finest air force," Donley said. "These Total Force Airmen -- active duty, Guard, Reserve, and civilian -- are the reason I can say without reservation that the state of our Air Force remains strong."

The secretary dedicated a significant amount of time explaining how the nation's fiscal challenges have affected and will continue to affect the force.

"Our nation's ongoing budget gymnastics exert costly consequences upon the Air Force and our sister services and create an atmosphere of unease among many of our uniformed and civilian Airmen," Donley said. "Given that we are now into the second quarter of (fiscal 2013), we can no longer live under the uncertainty of sequestration and continuing resolution without taking action."

Prudent planning is required to mitigate budget risks and minimize impacts to readiness, the secretary said, adding that guidance will be provided to the force in a few days to begin planning for the uncertain budget environment ahead.

As part of the planning, Air Force leaders are dedicated to avoiding a hollow force -- one that looks good on paper but has more units and equipment than it can support, lacks the resources to adequately train and maintain them, and keep up with advancing technologies.

"We believe the best path forward is to become smaller in order to protect a high quality and ready force that will improve in capability," Donley said.

In doing this, Welsh emphasized the importance of sustaining the enduring contributions the Air Force provides that will continue to guide the service as it moves forward, no matter what happens with the fiscal realities of the future.

"As we move toward that smaller, more capable and ready force; we have to be careful to protect our whole mission," Welsh said. "If we don't, the entire joint force is affected, and it's impacted in a significant way."

According to the secretary, the service has already suffered great impacts to its readiness levels.

"More than two decades of war and other operations have had an impact on our readiness, straining our Airmen and their families, reducing opportunities for training and taking a toll on equipment," Donley said.

In order for the Air Force to improve on current readiness levels, Welsh said modernization remains a top priority, recalling a childhood memory of his grandfather's then new, 'sweet' car to help characterize the issue.

"If we were at Minot (Air Force Base) today, I could take you out on the flight line and show you a whole bunch of 'sweet' B-52s," Welch said. "And in 2028, when we deliver the last KC-46 tanker, we'll still have about 200 'sweet' KC-135s on the ramp. And they'll be about the same age then -- 60 -- as my grandfather's car would be today."

The difference is, he said, his grandfather's car has an antique license plate on it today, while America's Airmen will be flying these aircraft in 2028, in contingencies and combat zones around the world.

Which is why, modernization isn't an option, Welsh said, "It doesn't matter if we get smaller. We have got to figure out how to make modernization happen."

During the briefing, the general also took time to highlight the recent release of the Air Force Vision Statement, which embraces innovation as almost a genetic trait of every Airman.

"I believe that's true. In order for us to be successful, I think it has to be true," Welsh said. "We intend to remain the world's greatest air force, powered by Airmen and fueled by innovation."

Grief melts fear, leads Air Force Reservist to worldwide talent audition

by By Capt. Cathleen Snow
920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs

1/10/2013 - PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- A package in the mail containing a T-shirt renewed hope for one talented Air Force Reservist in the 920th Rescue Wing.

Tech. Sgt. Altrameise Myers, information management craftsman, was a little confused when she received a package in the mail with a lone T-shirt emblazoned with the words--Mission Audition. It came from the Air Force's highly coveted entertainment troupe, Tops in Blue, of which she had recently sent an audition video.

Similar to the realty television show American Idol, Tops in Blue's sets out to find the most talented vocalists, musicians and dancers in the U.S. Air Force whose primary purpose is to entertain military personnel and their families throughout the world, even those deployed to combat.

"At first I thought the T-shirt was a constellation prize, like thanks for auditioning, but no thanks," said Myers.

A telephone call later and she learned that the special T came as an invite to Tops in Blue's worldwide talent search for an in-person, seven-day audition in San Antonio, Texas.

"It's exciting," said Myers. "I'm going to put my very best foot forward."

Until now, stepping on stage to sing the national anthem had been her only public performance experience.

"I'd be shaking in my boots everytime," said Myers who was plagued with terrible stage fright when faced with an audience.

But recently, a terrible loss, the passing of her 17-year-old son AJ, September 30, has melted her fear.

"My son would always tell me, 'you need to do something with that talent, mom'," she said as she would sing around the house.

"I think about him and it takes all of my fear away," said Myers, who finally went into the studio by his constant prompting, and interpreted a song, recorded it, then sent it off to Tops in Blue.

"It's (performing) something I've been afraid of, but lately I have not been afraid," said Myers.

"We loved your singing! Thank you for participating," she said the voice on the other end of the telephone told her when she called about the T-shirt.

Her commander, Col. George Raeder, 920th Mission Support Group, concurred. "I get goosebumps everytime I hear her sing," he said of her soulful rendition of the national anthem.

Myers said the gesture of sending a T-shirt invite is one of many Tops in Blues' longstanding traditions. It's history dates back 59 years and it's one of the oldest and most widely traveled entertainment groups of its kind.

The group has appeared on national television with such legends as Ed Sullivan, Bob Hope, Alabama, Barbara Mandrell, BOYZ II MEN, Lee Greenwood, and many others.

If Myers is selected, she will be one of a few reservists who make the team which is composed of 35 to 40 of the most talented vocalists, musicians, dancers, and technicians in the Air Force.

Upon selection, the training will consist of a highly accelerated educational process to prepare the candidates to succeed as world-class entertainers and distinguished Air Force Ambassadors during the 10-month worldwide tour.

Tops in Blue will be performing at the King Center in Melbourne, Fla., Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. No tickets are needed, but military ID holders have priority seating. The doors open up to military at 6 p.m. They open to general public at 6:45 p.m.

Committed to safety, mishap prevention

by Laura Mowry
412th Test Wing Public Affairs

1/10/2013 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Before returning to flight operations, Team Edwards welcomed the new year with the annual Back in the Saddle briefing Jan. 7, focusing on safety, teamwork and mishap prevention.

For nearly 20 years, Back in the Saddle has helped the Edwards community shift their focus back to safely and effectively accomplishing the mission after spending time with friends and families during the holiday season.

"We at Edwards do not do normal operations. We conduct flight test and what we do is actually very dangerous. If you let go for just a few moments you can end up killing somebody," said Bill Koukourikos, 412th Test Wing Flight Safety Office deputy chief. "Back in the Saddle gets everyone back into that mode of thinking, that what we're doing is dangerous and we better pay attention."

Unlike in the operational world, the Edwards community faces unique challenges as they settle back into the flight test mission because the unconventional nature of flight test lacks fixed rhythm to help personnel re-acclimate after holiday downtime.

"It's not like a normal Air Force base where you come back from vacation and know what's going to happen and you basically go back into your normal rhythm. That's why everyone gets the Back in the Saddle brief and there are also safety briefings going on within the units. It gets people thinking about flight test, flight operations and risks so that when they hit the road running, they're not going into it cold," said Koukourikos.

Back in the Saddle combines mishap reviews with informational briefings to get useful information out to the workforce.

The Back in the Saddle briefing also helps mitigate risks associated with what is known as the "January Effect," during which there is an Air Force-wide increase in the frequency of mishaps.

"The Air Force sees a spike in mishaps throughout the month of January and it is our job to prevent that from happening," said Koukourikos. "I'm proud to say that we here at Edwards don't have a spike in January."

Wee Man salutes Andersen

by Senior Airman Robert Hicks
36th Wing Public Affairs

1/11/2013 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam  -- Actor Jason "Wee Man" Acuña visited Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Jan. 9, as part of his Wee Man Salutes the Service tour.

Airmen and family members came out by the dozens to meet and greet the actor and have their pictures taken with him. While on Andersen, he not only autographed memorabilia, but raffled off prizes and put on a show at the Andersen Skate Park for spectators.

"Today was great," said Capt. Richard Rojas, 36th Wing chaplain. "Anytime you get to bring a celebrity with a talent like skateboarding, which appeals to a broad audience on base, it will always be a success. Events such as this also help raise the morale of not only the Airmen but the family members as well."

Wee Man has been visiting military installations for five years now and expressed the importance of giving back to servicemembers.

"As an American, I wake up every morning a free man," Wee Man said. "For me to be able to wake up and do whatever I want and not worry, knowing we have troops all over the world protecting us makes me appreciate the freedom I have. So in my downtime, I like giving back for what I know is given to me every day."

At the end of his visit, he presented a free showing of his new movie "Elf-Man" to Airmen and their family members at the Meehan Base Theater on Andersen.

Smaller Air Force Will Protect Quality, Readiness

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2013 – To roll with unprecedented strategic and fiscal challenges, the best path forward for the Air Force is to become smaller to protect a high-quality, ready force, top Air Force officials said today.

Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III briefed Pentagon reporters, addressing budget constraints, progress in the year just passed, and the development of future capabilities.

“Like the other services, the Air Force will work with our defense and national leadership to fine-tune our plans and programs as we confront both a dynamic security environment and the nation's fiscal challenges,” Donley said.

“We’ll adjust and compromise as necessary,” he added, “but we will need broad consensus with the Congress on the way forward to avoid a hollow military. This must be our priority.”

The Air Force secretary said the service would continue to balance competing defense needs with the size of its force structure, readiness and modernization.

“To avoid the perils of a hollow Air Force,” the secretary said, “we believe the best path forward is to become smaller in order to protect a high-quality and ready force that will improve in capability over time.”

Donley also described progress and accomplishments for the Air Force in 2012, including confronting the problem of sexual assaults and unprofessional relationships at basic military training and convicting offenders.

“We're strengthening our sexual assault prevention efforts,” Donley said, citing recent initiatives that implement health and welfare inspections and establish a special victims' counsel program throughout the Air Force. The inspections are designed to reinforce expectations for the work environment, correct deficiencies and deter disruptive conditions, Air Force officials said.

Last year in space launch operations, the Air Force completed nine national security space launch campaigns in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, bringing the total number of consecutive EELV program launches to 55, and total consecutive national security space missions to 90, Donley said.

The Air Force implemented a new EELV acquisition strategy to efficiently purchase up to 36 existing rocket stages, called “cores,” and is making it easier for commercial space companies, starting as early as fiscal 2015, to compete to produce up to 14 new core stages and in the process become new entrants in contributing to rigorous national security space operations.

“This, for the first time, gives new entrants a clear path to compete for national security space missions,” Donley said.

The Air Force’s procurement strategy is driving down satellite costs, he said, resulting in savings of more than $1 billion on the advanced extremely high frequency satellites. This system is a joint service satellite communications system that will provide survivable global, secure, protected and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets.

The Air Force also is projecting savings of more than $500 million for the Space Based Infrared Systems program, which the officials say will provide critical missile defense and warning capability well into the 21st century.

Donley also reported on a vexing issue with the F-22 Raptor fighter jet. “We've resolved as best we know how the previously unexplained hypoxia incidents in the F-22 and put this critical aircraft on the path from return to flight to full operational capability,” he said.

Also in 2012, Donley told reporters, the next-generation F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter “continues to mature, and with the completion of our operational utility evaluation, the OUE, training at Eglin Air Force Base [in Florida] will begin this month.” The OUE is a critical step in beginning joint strike fighter pilot and maintenance training for the service.

Welsh, who became Air Force chief of staff in 2012, said Donley’s tough budget decisions, reflected in the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, translate into an active duty Air Force of about 329,000 airmen, about the same size it was when the Air Force became a separate service in 1947. In the past 10 years, the Air Force has retired about 1,900 airplanes and dropped about 30,000 active-duty billets, he said.

“None of those things is inherently bad, by the way,” the general added. “They are simply reflective of today's fiscal and strategic environment.”

For the Air Force, Welsh said, the future depends on “figuring out how to integrate data, how to better integrate information, how to move it quicker, how to connect platforms and sensors together.”

 “That's not as expensive as new weapons systems, … and it benefits us in the way we do the job today,” he added. “So we have people all around the Air Force focused on that problem right now.”

Donley said the Air Force has been through many ups and downs over the years and the way through the challenges is to support the service’s active, Air National Guard, Reserve and civilian members and their families in their work.

 “I am confident that by making prudent choices -- difficult decisions among force structure, readiness and modernization -- we can and will stay the world's finest air force,” he said.

Self-aid, buddy care training saves life

by Maj. Denise Kerr
445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

1/2/2013 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Senior Airman Nathan Collett never thought he would be in a dangerous situation when he enlisted into the Air Force Reserve in October 2009. An 87th Aerial Port Squadron cargo processing flight traditional reservist, he loads and unloads the "bullets, beans and bodies" on C-130, C-17 and C-5 aircraft. He is also a sophomore at Columbus State studying construction management.

In March 2012, he volunteered to deploy to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, for a seven-month rotation.

"I was briefed after two weeks of being there that we had taken the most rockets in 24 hours than Kandahar had in the whole war," Collett said.

Collett was working his 12-hour shift in the passenger terminal on May 23 when a rocket blast blew the building doors inward. It was the beginning of the fighting season; the insurgents ramped up their artillery attacks to the airfield. With dust in the air, Collett ran out of the terminal to see a group of passengers look dazed and in shock. He directed them to the bunkers a short distance away. Collett noticed that a large container nearby most likely shielded the group from the shrapnel. He ran back and sent the passengers from inside a tent by the terminal to the bunkers for safety.

Collett turned around and saw a man lying on the ground, in pain and screaming. He and a contractor ran to to the man and assessed his injuries.

"I saw that shrapnel hit his chest and found another injury in his upper right buttocks," Collett said.

The contractor applied pressure while Collett tried to comfort and stabilize his head. An Army sergeant showed up with a first aid kit. Collett took off his shirt to put under the injured man's head, while the other two placed gauze on his wounds. Security forces radioed in for the paramedics and firefighters. More rockets continued to assault the airfield and Collett used his body to shield their patient from the potential impact.

The lone medic reached the site and stuck an IV in the injured man while Collett held the bag of fluid. They hoisted him on the gurney to take him to the clinic for recovery.

"Everything took about 4-5 minutes until the medics got there. We were still under threat of direct fire for another 10-15 minutes," Collett said.

"I think about it every day. I found out he was a contractor and ended up OK. It just made me expect and plan for a contingency. Luckily, I paid attention to the self-aid and buddy care course the two times I took it. I am glad it was mandatory to pre-deployment. I'm so glad I got the training I did from the 445th Airlift Wing."

Highly skilled dance performed at 25,000 feet

by Senior Airman Mark Hybers
507th Air Refueling Wing, Public Affairs

1/9/2013 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- When most people think about skillful dancing, the thought of a couple moving gracefully across a dance floor comes to mind. If you are part of the KC-135 Stratotanker refueling crew, you're probably picturing two planes less than 50 feet apart bouncing around at 25,000 feet while trying to connect a refueling boom into what appears to be a golf ball-sized hole.

This well-choreographed, highly skilled dance conducted by members of the 507th and 137th Air Refueling Wings aircrew is one way of trying to describe the air refueling process.

This important mission takes an enormous amount of education, training, manpower and focus to remain calm under intense pressure to pull it off.

Pressure starts during pre-flight checks. Ground crews communicate back and forth with the pilots as they check off a long list of items.

Once airborne, the pilots communicate between Air Force and civilian air traffic control personnel for air space and altitude clearance. They then set the coordinates and altitude in preparation to meet the receiver (plane receiving fuel) at the pre-coordinated air refueling track.

When the planes are within 10 to 15 minutes of each other, the boom operator gets in position, takes out a check list and runs the refueling boom through a series of checks to ensure it's working properly.

Once the receiver moves to within 50 feet of the boom a series of light signals begins between the boom operator and the receiving pilot. This is when the dance begins and with it comes immense pressure until the refueling is complete.

"Even the book says two planes flying in close proximity is inherently dangerous," said Master Sgt. Jeff Bass, 465th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, during a recent air refueling training of a 966th Airborne Air Control Squadron E-3 Sentry also out of Tinker Air Force Base. "It becomes even more tense when you get radio to radio communication and find out they are doing an extraordinary amount of training."

The pilot from the E-3 Sentry calls out two check rides, two instructor pilot upgrades and two new students. During this flight, each of the pilots goes through a series of training exercises while controlling the plane. They must move in close, move left and right. They move up closer to the tanker and move down further away from the tanker.

While pilots from the E-3 perform each of these tasks for qualifying and training purposes, Bass steadily calls out signals and moves the boom back and forth in an effort to make contact.

"The one-hour and forty-two minutes we were hooked up is an unusually long time for one boom to be on the controls," said Maj. Jeff Milburn, a KC-135 pilot from the 465th Air Refueling Squadron.

"It's very important for us to have a lot of trust and communication with the boom operator," added Milburn. "Bass is a very good and very experienced boom operator, but it's still a long time to be under that amount of pressure."

Milburn said everyone on both planes is counting on the boom operator.

"The pilots of the receiver are counting on the boom to make sure they are safely getting close enough for refueling and we are counting on the boom to make sure that the pilots of the receiver aren't being too erratic and getting us into a dangerous situation," he said.

Bass remains calm during the entire process. As each part of the training is finished, he calls out signals to the E-3 pilots, all the while communicating with Milburn and co-pilot 1st Lt. Jonathan Loper, 465th Air Refueling Squadron, in the KC-135.

"Each pilot flies a little differently, so it's important to see their tendencies, get them stabilized and then move them in for contact," said Bass. "I'm constantly trying to keep the boom moving ahead of the receptacle so that once they get good and stable, I can make contact with no issues."

Once both planes enter the air refueling track, the receiving E-3 comes up behind the KC-135. The boom operator calls out '50 feet and slightly low.' Once the plane is stable the boom operator brings the plane in with the forward light.

"One foot per second, coming down the middle," says Bass. "I'll then call out 10 foot increments and once the plane is stable, I'll try to make contact with the boom."

Meanwhile, the pilot of the receiving plane is looking to a fixed point trying to keep the aircraft steady on that point.

"With two planes moving, that can be some work," added Bass. "I have to try to keep the boom lined up and within certain parameters for it to be a safe operation. If he's moving too quickly towards one of those limits, I might trigger a disconnect."

The final task during this particular training is to actually off-load 50,000 gallons of fuel. There were two pilots on the E-3 who needed to take control of the plane, each connecting with the KC-135 for 25,000 gallons of fuel.

Off-loading fuel is also very challenging. While the Bass is doing his part controlling the boom and keeping the planes connected during fuel transfer, Milburn and Loper are controlling the fuel off-load.

Once the refueling is finished, Bass calls foot markers out to 100 feet, to let the pilots of the E-3 and KC-135 know when everyone is clear. Then he takes a deep breath and shakes the blood back into his hands, grabs his checklist and secures the boom.

"I just don't think I could possibly do any other job in the Air Force," Bass says with a laugh.

Now at the controls, Loper takes the KC-135 back to Tinker Air Force Base for landing. People on the ground in the St. Louis area have no idea that a group of talented, well trained crew just pulled off a highly skilled "dance" 25,000 feet over their heads.

Air Force Leaders Will Deliver Budget Guidance to Force in Days

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2013 – Air Force leaders will deliver guidance to the force in a few days to begin prudent planning for the uncertain budget environment ahead, Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley said here today.

Donley and Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, the Air Force chief of staff, briefed Pentagon reporters today on the state of their service.

Budget uncertainties rule in Washington now, with automatic across-the-board spending cuts looming March 1, and a continuing funding resolution running out at the end of the month. Congress must act to fix this situation, Donley and Welsh said.

“Even though we're not presuming this worst case will occur,” Donley added, “prudent planning for the third and fourth quarters is required.”

The service is taking action on reversible measures to mitigate the impact of cuts on service readiness. The impact includes civilian hiring restrictions, curtailing flying and travel that isn’t mission-essential or related to readiness, curtailing or stopping minor purchases, and deferring nonemergency facility sustainment restoration and modernization, the secretary said.

“To be clear, these near-term actions cannot fully mitigate the impacts of sequestration should that occur,” he said, using the formal term for the looming spending cuts. “If we do not have resolution by March, sequestration will have immediate and negative impacts on Air Force readiness, specifically flying hours and maintenance.”

Air Force leaders understand that even with these budgetary solutions, the service will still draw down. The priority is avoiding the hollow military of the late 1970s and early 1980s. A hollow military looks good on paper, Donley said, “but has more units and equipment than it can support [and] lacks the resources to adequately man, train and maintain them, or to keep up with advancing technologies.”

The Air Force has flown continuous missions since the Gulf War in 1991. This alone has strained airmen and their families and impacted readiness, Donley noted. It also has taken a toll on equipment. “The need for modernization is pervasive across our Air Force,” the secretary said.

The service will continue the global intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission. It will continue global precision attack, global airlift, global command and control and global special operations, Donley said. “The challenge for the Air Force … is capacity,” he added. “What will be the size of the military? How much of that will we have?”

Iowa Airman learned from harsh childhood experiences in Africa

by Master Sgt. Todd Moomaw and Tech. Sgt. Sara Robinson
132 Fighter Wing

1/9/2013 - DES MOINES, Iowa -- Tech. Sgt. Patrick Kazeze proudly serves as an Air National Guard Technician and as a member of the 132nd Fighter Wing Base Honor Guard.

As an Air Guardsman, he comprises a diverse team of 106,000 Americans on call in 50 states and 3 territories.

Kazeze is no stranger to diversity.

He grew up in the African countries of Malawi and Ethiopia. As the child of a United Nations statistician/demographer, he says he learned valuable life lessons that stick with him today.
"No man is an island. There were people in bread lines, and Ethiopia's socialist dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, would not accept outside help," Kazeze said. He learned that no man or country can go through life without help at some point.

Hundreds of thousands were killed as a result of the use of hunger as a weapon under Mengistu's rule. Mengistu was overthrown, fled the country to Zimbabwe and was convicted of genocide in absentia.

Kazeze appreciates where he is in life due to what he saw and experienced in Africa while growing up. Eventually, outside forces set up refugee camps and started providing food. Kazeze and his family were part of the few lucky evacuees to Kenya.

Attending high school in Hailsham, England, exposed him to many different cultures.

"I enjoyed time in England, school was like a big melting pot," Kazeze said. "I made a lot of friends, and met people from every continent - Muslim, Buddhist, the whole gamut of religions."

When the time came for Kazeze to attend college, he set his sights on the United States. However, after four years in England, he had picked up a thick British accent.

He watched VHS tapes of U.S. television to study the American accent. Watching shows like "The A-Team," "Knight Rider" and "Battlestar Galactica" helped him learn the dialect.

Kazeze was now ready to attend college. Following in his father's footsteps, a Drake alum, he looked into Iowa schools. Grand View University offered what he was looking for, and he majored in television and radio production. During his time at Grandview he considered joining the military, but didn't.

The events of 9/11 renewed his interest in the military. By then, Kazeze was 28 and too old to join active duty so he decided he could best serve our country as a member of 132nd Fighter Wing.

After basic training, Kazeze worked in civil engineering as an electrical power production specialist. He now works in maintenance as an aerial ground equipment specialist.

While in the Iowa Air National Guard, Kazeze became a United States citizen. He reflected on a visit to see his parents who retired in Malawi. "It's interesting going back (to Malawi) as a United States citizen, I fly into Lilongwe, a big modern city, and as I go into the country it gets less and less developed, until it's just bushmen," he said.

Even today, Kazeze uses life lessons he learned during his childhood in Africa. He is a well-rounded Airman, an American citizen and he appreciates the time that he spent in Africa.

He grew up to know that, as humans, we are all in this together and we all need each other in one way or another.

Defender rescues stranded driver during winter storm

by Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/10/2013 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Many Mountain Home Air Force Base personnel hunkered down Jan. 10, as Storm Gandalf dropped several inches of snow on the base.

Roads were nearly empty and the ongoing readiness exercise was put on pause.

However, for some Airmen, the morning was anything but tranquil.

One such Airman is Tech. Sgt. Barry Williams, 366th Security Forces Squadron.

Williams was enroute to check the off-base range when he came across a stranded driver just outside the main gate.

Williams, along with three other servicemembers who stopped to assist, rescued the driver, who'd slipped off the road and was stuck in deep snow.

According to Williams, Defenders can render first aid or respond to other emergency situations if dispatched. That was one of those circumstances.

"I'm just happy to be able to get this guy back on the road," said Williams, about the Airman who'd just finished a 12-hour shift and was heading home.

Many Airmen only correspond with Defenders when they pass through the gate, and don't often recognize that these Airmen are working and assisting in any weather condition, even if other personnel aren't required to report to work.

"Like other first responders as well as all servicemen and women, helping those in need is in our DNA," said Capt. Ryan Bodge, 366th SFS commander. "So far this morning, we've helped five motorists get back on the road and either home to their families or off to their duty-sections."