Military News

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

EOD: Service before self

by Senior Airman Jacob Morgan
21st Space Wing Public Affairs


1/22/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Every service member took an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. To uphold this oath, members may have to put their life on the line.

Some service members may put their lives in danger on behalf of their sworn oath, while others may never have to face this situation at all. However, for most explosive ordnance disposal technicians, the time to uphold this oath comes soon after enlistment and must be made at the drop of a hat.

"I will never forget searching around in the dirt and putting my hand on a mine for the first time," said Staff Sgt. Mathew Kimberling, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal technician. "It takes a certain mindset not to panic knowing at that moment the lives of my team, myself or whoever may come across this mine, may be at stake."

EOD technicians have to be prepared to face situations like this and be prepared to do whatever it takes to protect their fellow service members. These decisions do not come easily, and require extensive training and leadership.

According to Master Sgt. Paul Horton, 21st CES EOD flight chief, the EOD career field has changed in recent years. Team leads were once all technical sergeants; now, overseas operations are demanding more of junior NCOs.

At about 3 a.m. Jan. 10, on only a few hours of sleep, five members of 302nd CES EOD team and six members of the 21st CES EOD team began a ruck march in 20 degree weather carrying 75 pound loads at Fort Carson, Colo.

The goal of the day was to march 10 miles, simulating long, unpredictable days during a deployment, as well as train new NCOs to deal with unknown situations as team leads.

This goal was especially clear for the 21st CES EOD who recently responded to Aurora, Colo., for a K-941 gas kit found in an area known as the Jeep Demolition Range Dec. 11, 2012. The gas kit was buried under a rattlesnake nest and was believed to have gas in it.

"You can't make this stuff up," said Horton. "When something kicks off, you're all of the sudden right there. You have to know how to think around difficult situations. The training we do 100 percent connects to our state-side mission."

Horton likened the physical stresses of the 10-mile ruck march to moving 2,000 pounds of dirt while wearing a fully encompassed bomb suit, similar to what EOD members experienced in Aurora.

The gas kit in Aurora, X-rayed by the 21st CES EOD team, ended up being empty, but the physical and mental stress is something the EOD team trains for by incorporating real-world experiences to prepare their new members.

After the ruck march ended at 7:30 a.m., multiple scenarios, or "problems," were set up at different locations. Two new NCOs, Staff Sgt. John Medina and Staff Sgt. Jeremy Redfern, with very little team lead experience, were put in charge of three-man teams with limited information.

"We began so early, with so little sleep for shock factor, to give the young guys a little taste of what it's like over there," said Kimberling. "We continued to go (without vehicles) to be realistic of how hard you would have to push yourself overseas."

Kimberling, who was on Staff Sgt. John Medina's team, has four deployments under his belt, three to Iraq and one to Afghanistan, and team-lead experience in his last deployment. His goal was to share those experiences with the new up-and-coming junior NCOs of the 21st CES EOD, but not to lead the scenario.

"(Kimberling) is becoming more settled with the responsibility of a whole group of guys rather than just himself," said Horton. "It's interesting watching him transition."

After a change of socks and some food, the teams started a simulated mission. The team walked another mile until Medina was faced with making decisions as a team lead for only the second time in his career.

Medina had to lead his team to investigate and render safe a possible explosive that was left on a local's doorstep. The scenario, put together by Master Sgt. Ross Kurashima, 302nd CES EOD technician, mirrored real-world tactics, techniques and procedures used by the enemy Kurashima experienced in the past.

Two and a half hours later, after rendering safe the explosives, Medina and his team headed back another mile to take a break.

"A good team lead has to rely on their entire team," said Kimberling. "Medina was faced with new concepts. He stumbled a little with decision making, however asserting himself as the EOD team lead he assessed the situation, didn't get hung up on his mistakes and showed great capability."

The training ended at about 3 p.m. with explosives practice - the team detonated roughly 15 pounds of C4 plastic explosive - and two new NCOs with vital team lead experience.

"In a response, you can make decisions that might kill someone, but you still have to make more decisions. We need to toughen our members up mentally," said Horton. "We need to shake their confidence, so they know what it feels like and they can respond with the right mindset."

Strict Laws, Policies Frame Northcom, NORAD Operations

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., Jan. 23, 2013 – Every time U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command get involved in a mission, a team of lawyers here pays extra close attention.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Sgt. Adama Ilbouda, left, with the New York Army National Guard, and Air Force Tech. Sgt. David Tayler of the New York Air National Guard's 274th Air Support Operations Squadron, distribute fuel at the Staten Island Armory during the Hurricane Sandy response, Nov. 3, 2012, U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command operate according to strict laws and policies that govern how U.S. forces can be used in the homeland. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“You may not hear from us every single time at every single meeting in the building, but we are sitting in on them, and we are listening,” Coast Guard Capt. Timothy Connors, staff judge advocate for NORAD and Northcom, told American Forces Press Service.

Connors oversees a staff of 17 active-duty and 15 reserve lawyers -- the most assigned to any U.S. combatant command. Their job is to advise Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., the NORAD and Northcom commander, to ensure the commands remain squarely within the law as they operate in the homeland.

With a homeland defense mission that crosses every domain -- air, land, space, maritime and cyber -- and support roles when needed during domestic disasters and to conduct theater security cooperation assistance, the commands’ activities fall within a huge body of law.

These laws dictate what military forces can and can’t do inside the United States, Connors explained. They also differentiate between missions federal forces can conduct and those reserved for National Guardsmen operating in a state capacity.

Northcom uses military assets to watch outward for threats headed toward the country, but largely plays a support role for those already within its borders. Military members can support civilian law enforcement for counterdrug operations within the United States, but can’t get directly involved in law enforcement activities. They can perform designated missions such as delivering fuel and distributing supplies following a natural disaster, but can’t do jobs that would take revenue from private companies.

Simply put, many of the missions that U.S. forces conduct every day outside the United States can’t be done within Northcom’s area of responsibility.

“Something might sound like a great use of Department of Defense assets, but things can get very complicated when you look at them from a legal standpoint,” Connors said. “There’s a robust system of laws, policies and regulations that define exactly what is an appropriate use of DOD forces. … So our job is to ensure that in everything we as a command do, we are operating within that framework.”

It all stems back to 1878, when the United States enacted the Posse Comitatus Act.

As the decade of Reconstruction following the Civil War drew to a close, Congress passed the landmark legislation to prevent the federal government from using federal troops to enforce state laws, explained Lance Blythe, command historian for Northcom and NORAD.

The years leading up to passage of the Posse Comitatus Act had been challenging for the United States, Blythe said. Some of the new legislators elected in the former Confederacy were turning a blind eye to new laws designed to institute political reforms and protect former slaves. Concerned that the federal government would dispatch troops to enforce these laws, they pressed for a statute to prohibit the federal government from imposing federal troops in any U.S. state.

More than 100 years since its enactment, the Posse Comitatus Act continues to guide everything the military does while operating in the homeland. “Basically, it means that you won’t have a posse of Department of Defense people going out and providing law enforcement,” Connors said. “That is not their role.”

Posse Comitatus does not limit the military’s role in military operations against external threats and in defense of the United States, Connors said. But it draws a clear line within U.S. borders, recognizing that law enforcement responsibility belongs to federal, state and local law enforcement, including the National Guard.
“This is important, because you want the military doing military operations,” Connors said. “It keeps defenders focused on defense, and security [experts] focused on security.”

Although initially written to prevent military forces from enforcing state laws, the Posse Comitatus Act has been extended by policy to prohibit direct military involvement in all law enforcement activity, Connors said.
But recognizing the military’s special capabilities, Congress has authorized specific exceptions in which military forces can be used domestically -- as long as they operate within strict compliance with the Constitution and U.S. laws, he said.

That generally confines them to a supporting role: typically for the Federal Emergency Management Agency during a natural disaster and, in other cases, for the Justice Department or other civilian law enforcement agencies.

Congress, for example, specifically authorized the use of military forces to support counterdrug operations, to assist the Justice Department in crimes involving nuclear materials and in emergencies involving chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction.

With growing awareness of the capabilities the Defense Department has to offer, and proven performance of U.S. forces to support domestic operations, Connors said he anticipates greater demand for them in the future.

“That is why we need to have a robust legal staff in a place like this,” he said. “In everything we do, there’s a line we need to walk. And when things start to move closer to that line, that’s when the lawyers get more and more involved.”

One example of a particularly difficult legal scenario is the Insurrection Act. That law predates Posse Comitatus, authorizing the president to use U.S. military personnel to suppress an insurrection. The last time that law was invoked was during the Los Angeles riots in 1992, and Connors said he envisions few circumstances when it might be used again.

“It would have to be the most complex of catastrophes,” he said.

'The Third Pole': Team of Airmen to attempt Mount Everest climb

by Amber Baillie
Academy Spirit staff writer


1/22/2013 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Four Air Force Academy graduates may be busy preparing to climb the world's highest peak in May, but they haven't forgotten where mountaineering first began for them: here, climbing Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks as cadets.

A team of six seasoned, Air Force mountaineers, currently stationed in Colorado, Alabama, Florida, Texas and Virginia, will venture on a bold, 50-day journey, encountering frigid temperatures and demanding conditions, to stand atop Mount Everest's 29,029-foot summit and be the first American military team to ever attempt Everest and first military team to climb each continent's highest mountain.

"They call it the 'third pole'--the North Pole, South Pole and Everest," Capt. Marshall Klitzke said. "There is no other landmass higher that you, as a human being, can challenge yourself on. It's all aspects: the physical, the mental and the spiritual. Your success depends on so many variables: weather, timing, chance and preparation. Just having the experience to attempt it is the ultimate test."

The group will meet in Kathmandu, Nepal, on March 26 to begin an acclimation period that will include climbing Nepal's 20,000-foot peak, Lobuche.

Klitzke, 30, a KC-135 Stratotanker pilot and flight instructor here, visited Nepal last fall to climb the 22,349-foot peak, Ama Dablam, with Capt. Kyle Martin, an Academy graduate stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Va., who will also scale Everest.

"So far it's been the pinnacle of my mountaineering," Klitzke said. "I feel like it's given me the credentials to go after Everest."

Klitzke's passion for climbing developed in 2001, while he was a cadet at the Academy, and began regularly climbing the state's "fourteeners," skiing, camping and rock-climbing with friends.

"We were always in the mountains," Klitzke said. "Since then it's stuck with me. In mountaineering, everything just kind of slows down, you're very much in the moment and everything else in life just kind of fades away."

Capt. Colin Merrin, 28, a GPS satellite operations mission commander stationed at Schriever AFB, Colo., is another Academy graduate who will join the team. Merrin's resume of peaks include Mount Rainier, Mount Whitney, Mount Blanc and Mount Aconcagua.

"I want to climb Everest to be a part of something truly amazing," Merrin said. "Being an avid mountaineer, this was an opportunity that I could not turn down. I had heard about the team for years and knew that it would be a tremendous honor to be a part of such an elite group of climbers tackling the highest mountain in the world, and most importantly, supporting the ideals that the 7 Summits Team represents."

The risky, ambitious quest is part of the U.S. Air Force Seven Summits Challenge, a tax-exempt organization created in 2005 by special operations pilot Maj. Rob Marshall. The organization strives to shed positive light on the Air Force by leading teams of Airmen to the summit of each continent's highest peak and honoring service members who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

"What we want people to learn is that anything they're good at, whether it's climbing a mountain, running marathons, playing music or designing Web pages, they can find a way to use their skills to make the world better, whether it be promoting the Air Force or promoting the charity," Marshall said.

The organization has raised more than $60,000 for charities such as the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and the That Others May Live Foundation. The team has conquered six of the summits; Everest is the final mountain.

If the team reaches the summit, they will mark history as the first military team to climb each continent's highest mountain and the first U.S. military team to conquer Everest, Marshall said.

"You're not going to find anybody on our climb that isn't in excellent shape and passionate about this," Marshall said. "The trip requires lot of money and time. They're all experienced climbers and two thirds of the team are Academy grads."

Marshall, a 2001 Academy graduate, said it was through his participation in the Academy's mountaineering and explorer's club that heightened his love for climbing. He scaled 27 peaks as a cadet.

"The Academy's sports and clubs try to teach positive, life-long habits and outlets for exercise and health," Marshall said.

"It's been 12 years since I graduated, and I'm taking exactly what I learned from the Academy and getting ready to climb Mount Everest. If the Academy's main goal is teaching and generating leaders, then I think mountaineering is one of the best opportunities to exercise leadership skills and learn to be a good follower."

Marshall also plans to honor his tradition of doing push-ups on the summit.

"My goal is to see how many I can do in a minute," Marshall said. "I started doing push-ups on Colorado fourteeners as a cadet. It's fun to think that I've done them on every mountain peak since being a freshman."

The team's physical preparation for Everest has included regular gym training and heavy backpacking each week. Marshall said he's also encouraged the team to swim, to get a full body work out and practice controlled breathing to prepare them for the use of bottled oxygen on Everest.

"The incline in Manitou is my personal beast," Klitzke said. "I try to do that about twice a week and climb fourteeners. I'm pretty lucky with the elevation in Colorado Springs already being pretty high."

Marshall, 34, will lead the pack up Everest. He said the group will move at a slower pace to improve their chances of getting as many people as possible to the summit.

"You can climb Everest at a faster pace, but from our research, we are giving ourselves the best chance to acclimatize and the optimal amount of time to reach the top," Marshall said.

Marshall is aware of the risks that come with mountaineering. In 2008, when Marshall's team climbed North America's highest peak, Mount McKinley, the group was tent bound for seven days after being caught in a heavy blizzard.

Being patient, reading the weather correctly and making the right risk management decisions will be important, Marshall said.

"I think the biggest risk we're going to face on Everest is, 'How do we manage our team's schedule to avoid crowds but still give ourselves the best chance to get to the summit?'" Marshall said.

Klitzke said he hopes his mission to the top of the world will empower cadets.
"Hopefully they will see beyond their four years here, see what's available and what they can accomplish in the Air Force and outside of it. It's amazing when you set big goals and tackle them -- what you can bring yourself to do."

It's important for people to know that the Air Force is comprised of people who pursue their passions with an interest of improving themselves, Merrin said.

"Climbing Everest doesn't necessarily change the world, but it creates an awareness that we are capable of outstanding feats," Merrin said.

On the team are:

· Maj. Rob Marshall, 34, a V-22 Osprey pilot, from Mercer Island, Wash., stationed in Amarillo, Texas
· Capt. Andrew Ackles, 29, a TH-1N instructor pilot, from Ashland, Ore., stationed at Fort Rucker, Ala.
· Capt. Kyle Martin, 29, a T-38 Talon pilot, from Manhattan, Kan., stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Va.
· Capt. Marshall Klitzke, 30, a KC-135 Stratotanker pilot from Lemmon, S.D., currently an instructor pilot at the Air Force Academy.
· Capt. Colin Merrin, 28, a GPS satellite operations mission commander from Santee, Calif., stationed at Schriever AFB, Colo.
· Staff Sgt. Nick Gibson, 36, a Reserve pararescueman and physician-assistant student from Gulf Breeze, Fla., stationed at Patrick AFB, Fla.

Training eases stress, strain of deployed duties for EOD Airmen

by Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden
21st Space Wing Public Affairs


1/23/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- On a bitterly cold winter morning, explosive ordnance disposal technicians from the 21st Space Wing and 302nd Airlift Wing civil engineer squadrons conducted training exercises Jan. 10 at Fort Carson, Colo. These exercises were designed to simulate the mental and physical fatigues experienced while deployed.

With each breath visibly clinging to the air, the EOD techs shuffled 11 miles along a dusty road to their training grounds. The day was to be filled with exercises involving unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive devices, referred to as 'problems.' Each problem is tackled by a team of three and can take well over an hour to render safe, which is why team cohesion as EOD technicians is so important.

"The training gives you the ability to go, 'OK, I know his strengths, I know his weaknesses and he knows mine,' said Master Sgt. Paul Horton, 21st CES EOD flight chief. "You want to have your team to operate as smoothly and efficiently as possible, especially in combat, you're in a situation where you don't have time to work kinks out."

In addition to defusing problems while deployed, the 21st EOD technicians also fulfill their role here as a defensive asset.

"In the Air Force, it's all about offense. Well, we're a defensive asset," said Horton. "We're giving you a safe environment so that you don't have an explosive threat here on the base, whether it's a missile or a grenade or anything like that, that interrupts your ability to execute your mission."

Newly promoted Staff Sgt. Jeremy Redfern, 21st CES EOD technician, returned from his second deployment in November and understands the importance of these exercises.

"The training allows you to react quickly in really horrible situations," said Redfern. "You just turn everything off, and go back to training."

Redfern has deployed twice to Afghanistan during his five-year Air Force career, first to Helmand province with Horton, and most recently to the Ghazni province.

"Every EOD situation is different, but training takes the edge off to help counter a new situation," said Redfern. "It can be something as simple as remembering Sgt. Horton saying, 'Look at it from a different angle.'"

Providing training is especially important in a life-or-death career field like explosive ordnance disposal.

"We really try to hit our brand new staff sergeants coming up in training to be team chiefs," said Horton. "Historically speaking in EOD, you usually did not become a team leader until around the 6-10 year mark. Now we have to push them a little bit harder to get that training out because they don't have the time to develop over several years."

The EOD technicians deploy for six months at a time to areas notorious for IEDs, so training in a controlled environment is vital to provide the skills needed downrange.

While the training was designed to prepare the EOD techs for stressors while deployed, they must also understand the capabilities of their tools and how to respond when those items fail.

"We always call it the ability to adapt to any situation," added Horton. "Your tools can only carry you so far and especially when they break, they break at those key moments, how do you work around that, and that's when you have to work as a team."

KAFC hosts dinner for Wolf Pack members

by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Fowler
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


1/22/2013 - GUNSAN CITY, South Korea -- The Korean American Friendship Council hosted a Friendship Night for members of the 8th Fighter Wing, in Gunsan City Jan. 22.

The event was a chance for the KAFC to show appreciation for all the contributions the Wolf Pack has made to Gunsan City, including volunteering to donate repaired bicycles, hosting an honorary pilot program for Gunsan City youth and volunteering at schools and nursing homes.

The event included a performance by the "Hon," an art troupe which performed traditional samulnori for attendees. Following the performance, a portion of the Gunsan Philharmonic Orchestra performed a number of short classical pieces, including the "Turkish March" and "Don't Cry for Me Argentina."

The KAFC took the opportunity to thank the Wolf Pack for their continued support of numerous organizations and events within the Gunsan City area.

Both Dong-Shin Moon, Gunsan City mayor, and Col. John W. Pearse, 8th FW commander, spoke to the crowd about the excellent relationship between the Wolf Pack and Gunsan City and expressed wishes for the relationship to grow stronger in the new year.

"I hope the relationship between Gunsan City and the Wolf Pack will be perfect," Mayor Moon said. "Just like the relationship between the U.S. Air Force and Republic of Korea is perfect. The New Year fills me with hope."

Pearse also took the opportunity to thank members of the KAFC and Mayor Moon for the help they have given the Wolf Pack and the chances they have provided to participate in more cultural events.

"I'm extremely appreciative of you for trying to teach the Korean culture to the Wolf Pack," Pearse said. "I look forward to a great new year and look forward to having more events like this."

Aircrew dive into water survival training

by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs


1/23/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La -- The 2nd Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape conducted Water Survival Training, Jan. 22.

The training started with a classroom portion and transitioned to a "hands-on" class at the Louisiana State University pool in Shreveport, La., where three aircrew members went through a triennial refresher training how to release from their parachutes, enter a life raft and rescue cage and more.

"We teach the "hands-on" at the pool so that aircrew members know what to do in the event of a water landing," said Staff Sgt. Charles Millison, 2 OSS SERE operations NCO in charge. "This way the students have training to fall back on; this will help them by saving them from panicking if it ever happens to them."

This triennial training refreshes what aircrew members learned during their initial survival training in flight school, and strengthens their techniques of what to do when landing in water after ejecting from an aircraft.

"Since many of our missions take us over water, we need to know what to do," said Col. Andrew Gebara 2nd Bomb Wing commander. "The possibility of a water landing after an ejection is something we have to worry about."

The water survival course teaches aircrew how to deal with a bad situation. It provides them with the knowledge needed to be rescued. Like how to inflate life preserving units, enter and exit the life raft, release themselves from parachutes.

"We make sure the aircrews know how each part of the safety equipment is used and how it will help them the event it is needed," said Senior Airman Cody Markham, Aircrew Flight Equipment journeyman and SERE augmentee. "The training we provide to the aircrew helps to give them the knowledge to stay safe until they are rescued."

While being in the water is not what aircrew look forward to, the training gives them techniques on what to do when and if it happens.

"This class is very informative, I learned so much on what I should do if I'm in that type of situation," said 1st Lt. Jarrad Thorley 20th Bomb Squadron navigator. "We train for the worst, but pray for the best. That way, when or if something like this happens we will know what to do."


Reserve JAG earns Bronze Star

by Tech. Sgt. Grady Epperly
507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


1/22/2013 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- A 507th Air Refueling Wing staff judge advocate was awarded the fourth highest combat decoration, the Bronze Star for leading detainee operations in Afghanistan for 12 months.

Maj. Jack Spencer served as the Chief of Detainee Operations to the Combined Joint Interagency Task Force, Kabul, Afghanistan, from September 2011 to October 2012.

As the Chief of Detainee Operations, Spencer and his team were responsible for providing the commanding general advice on more than 2,100 detainee transfer request, custody transfer request and high value detainee designations.

"High value detainees are not the errand boys or Afghans who are forced by the extremist to dig a hole for an IED. They are truly bad guys who will stop at nothing to ensure insecurity in Afghanistan," said Spencer.

"A lot of what we did was sort through thousands of pages of evidence and intelligence to provide legal recommendations to the commanding general on whether a detainee met the criteria for detention," he added. "We didn't take this job lightly. If we made the wrong assessment and a bad guy got back to the battlefield it could quite possibly get someone killed."

In addition to providing timely and decisive legal advice to over 125 commanders, law enforcement personnel and capturing units throughout Afghanistan, Spencer also participated in nine field detention site inspections and six mobile training teams in some of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan.

The training focused on international standards of humane treatment, the Law of Armed Conflict and the rules of engagement.

"We had the responsibility to provide training to the guards at these facilities," said Spencer. "In that environment even an honest mistake can become an international incident."

"Our goal was to enhance the credibility and transparency of United States detainee operations in Afghanistan and at the end of the day, we were successful," he said.

The citation, signed by Army Lt. Gen. Keith M. Huber, commander Combined Joint Interagency Task Force, praises Spencer's legal recommendations for "contributing to the safety of Afghan citizens and United States service members."

While Spencer says he is grateful to receive such an honor, he feels the Bronze Star represents those he had the privilege to work alongside.

"People either thrive or wilt under those types of stressful conditions. Our team thrived," said Spencer.

Council keeps morale high for Dorm Airmen

by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Gonsier
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs


1/22/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Airmen and dorm management met for the first time in 2013 to discuss issues concerning Airmen in the dorms here, Jan. 17.

Members of the dorm council, and dorm managers, use these meetings as an opportunity to pitch new ideas to management, and have a general update on the condition of their homes.

"We are liaisons for the dorm Airmen," said Senior Airman Rodrick Chandler, 2nd Dental Squadron and Dragon dorm chief. "We are Airmen who are there for other Airmen, and we try our best to improve the quality of life in the dorms."

During this particular meeting, Chief Master Sgt. Tracy Bozarth-Larouche, Air Force Global Strike Command A6, was a guest speaker. As a former superintendent of unaccompanied housing she knows the importance of these monthly meetings.

"It's significant for leadership to always be listening to what our Airmen want," she said. "A lot of the time, people will make decisions for them. It's important for senior enlisted leaders to touch base with the young Airmen and listen to what their concerns are."

Dorm Airmen are under a large amount of stress and do not even realize it, so quality of life in the dorms is a major concern.

"On the third Thursday of every month we discuss safety, health concerns and morale issues," said Master Sgt. Adolphus Sims, 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron unaccompanied housing superintendent. "Airmen use these meetings as an opportunity to express what they want to see in the dorms."

These meetings are held to bridge the gap between the tenants and the management.

"To sum it all up, this is our house," Sims said. "If we can make this place a home, we have succeeded. It is all about taking care of the people and making the dorms better."

Sims stressed that he does not want Airmen to feel like they have to live in the dorms, but a place where they want to live and show their families with pride.

"When an Airman gets home, they should be able to relax, decompress and feel comfortable," Bozarth-Larouche added.

ACC command chief addresses Total Force Integration

by Ross Tweten
482nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs


1/23/2013 - HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. -- The top enlisted member of Air Combat Command got a first-hand look at how active duty Airmen are integrating with the 482nd Fighter Wing here Jan. 14 and 15.

Command Chief Master Sgt. Richard A. Parsons' two-day trip focused on addressing the challenges and successes of Homestead ARB's Total Force Integration.

The concept of TFI is to integrate active duty Airmen with their guard and reserve counterparts, just as guard and reserve Airmen have been serving with various active duty units throughout the Air Force for many years. The goal of TFI is to enhance the Air Force's ability to conduct its mission through the sharing of resources, to include aircraft, crews, maintenance, and support, between active duty and the air reserve component.

"We are very enthusiastic about the chief's visit because we want to showcase the success we've had here at Homestead," said Lt. Col. Scott Walker, commander of Detachment 2, 20th Operations Group. "The 482nd FW has been an unbelievable host and made the transition of active duty and reserve Airmen a seamless process."

Given the success of Detachment 2's integration at Homestead ARB, the ultimate goal of TFI, and the chief's visit, is to tackle issues that, when solved, will make the integration even better. Underpinning issues addressed during Parsons' visit were support challenges active duty Airmen do not normally encounter at a typical active duty base.

"This is an opportunity for both Detachment 2 and the 482nd FW to address those challenges so the chief can take them back to Air Combat Command, and with Air Force Reserve Command's help, we can work on finding solutions that benefits us all."

During his stay, Parsons held an enlisted call with Detachment 2 Airmen, met with 482nd FW leadership and groups of Airmen throughout the wing, and attended a dedicated crew chief ceremony. The dedicated crew chief ceremony was especially poignant as it's the first assignment of an active duty crew chief to an F-16 at Homestead ARB since Hurricane Andrew.

Parsons stressed both the current and future challenges the Air Force is facing.

"One of the biggest challenges the Air Force is facing is our fiscal crisis," said Parsons. "Priorities have to be reevaluated. We have fewer people and fewer dollars. We need the very best people operating at their most efficient. So if you look around and you don't see others doing their best, tell them to step it up or step out."

The challenges of fewer people and dollars cut to the core of TFI. In part, TFI is a cost-saving measure, and according to Walker, Parsons can take the challenges and successes of Homestead ARB's TFI back to Gen. Mike Hostage, ACC commander, to then report up to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

Here at Homestead ARB, Detachment 2, 20th OG, is an active associate organization much like the classic associations already in place at active duty bases, just in reverse. Detachment 2 is operationally controlled to various units within the 482nd Fighter Wing but reports directly to the 20th OG located at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. Detachment 2 continues to grow rapidly and will ultimately consist of approximately 170 Airmen across 19 different operations and maintenance specialties.

As the mission of Detachment 2 progresses and Airmen continue to arrive, the Airmen of both Detachment 2 and the 482nd FW continue to strive to fulfill the TFI vision of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

"Since we've started receiving the bulk of our personnel, the mission has progressed by leaps and bounds," said Walker. "We are currently ahead of schedule on the number of personnel we have versus the number which we are supposed to be currently manned. This has led to Detachment 2 Airmen being able to integrate into every aspect of operations and maintenance."

TFI associations pair two units; a host and associate; representing two Air Force components, operating together. The host unit is assigned the physical resources for mission accomplishment, such as aircraft, equipment and facilities, and the associate unit shares those resources. Active associations pair a reserve component host and an active component associate to improve access to aircraft and total rotational capacity by assigning active component Airmen in reserve component units, allowing the highly experienced reserve component to help develop and season maturing active component Airmen. There are currently 100 TFI associations, both active and classic, across a variety of weapons systems and functional areas and Air Force Major Commands. The CSAF has directed the Air Force to develop additional active associations at all air reserve and national guard component fighter locations to ensure that the Total Force is able to absorb and season enough young pilots and maintainers to meet future Total Force requirements.

"All 482nd FW leadership and personnel have been extremely helpful and integral to the establishment of the detachment," said Walker. "If you were to walk out on the flight line or enter any of the maintenance shops, you would not be able to tell a reservist from an active duty Airman. This is a testament to how well the integration process has gone for us here at Homestead ARB."

Pentagon to Lift Rule Excluding Women From Combat


American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2013 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are expected to announce the lifting of the direct combat exclusion rule for women in the military, a senior defense official said today.

The policy change will begin a process in which the services will develop plans to implement the decision, which was made by Panetta upon the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the official said.
The official provided no further details and did not indicate when the announcement might take place.

VanOhlen takes Air Force wrestling to higher level

by Don Branum
Air Force Academy Public Affairs


1/23/2013 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AFNS) -- Ask Air Force wrestling head coach Joel Sharratt what's helped the team compete at a higher level, and he'll give you one answer: the leadership and competitive spirit of senior wrestler Cole VonOhlen.

VonOhlen, a native of Jackson, Minn., is easily among the best wrestlers in the NCAA, with a 21-2 record in the 149-pound class and 12 falls -- an Air Force school record -- so far this season.

Moreover, VanOhlen has lifted the rest of the team's play as well, leading Air Force to be ranked among the NCAA's top 25 wrestling teams by InterMat, which ranks both collegiate and high school wrestlers and teams.

"He was an impact player even as a freshman," Sharratt said. "He came in his freshman year and qualified for the NCAA tournament. He's the one who's really helped reestablish Air Force wrestling as a national power in the sport. He's really helped the guys in our program understand that this program produces athletes who compete at that level."

VonOhlen has been named the Western Wrestling Conference wrestler of the week nine times in his career, including twice this season. He finished in second place at the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn., Jan. 2, beating second-ranked Dylan Ness of Minnesota before losing to top-ranked Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State in the finals. Air Force finished in eighth place in that tournament, 14.5 points ahead of Army (10th) and 20.5 points ahead of Navy (12th).

VonOhlen also took first place in the Hokie Open at Virginia Tech and the University of Nebraska-Kearney Holiday Inn Open, where he wrestled in the elite class. He recorded more than 100 career wins during his junior season.

His wrestling record continues a winning streak he established while wrestling at Jackson County Central High School under coach Randy Baker. He reached the Minnesota state finals three times, coming away with two state championships.

However, wrestling was not VonOhlen's first high school sport.

"I played hockey for a couple of years," VonOhlen said. "Then I played hockey and wrestled, then ended up just wrestling."

Both VonOhlen and Sharratt shared a connection through Baker, who coached Sharratt on a national team during his high school years.

"Baker brought Cole to my attention during his junior year," Sharratt said. "I watched him compete. He had the athletic skill sets that would help the Air Force Academy be competitive at the next level."

VonOhlen visited the Academy in the fall of 2007 and liked what he saw.

"I liked the coaches, I liked the program, so I thought it was a good place to come," he said. "I thought it was a good opportunity."

"He had a very mature long-term vision of what the Academy could do for him," Sharratt said. "It would not limit him athletically, and it would provide a guaranteed path to a great career."

Even as a freshman, VonOhlen was a leader, Sharratt said.

"He led by example," the coach said. "He did everything we required and found ways to get better on his own. He's always been squared away academically. He's been very disciplined; he's had outstanding time management while he's here, and he's been a great contributor to his (cadet) squadron."

VonOhlen's quiet leadership resulted in him being named a team co-captain as a junior, marking the first time in 40 years that a cadet was named captain of the wrestling team prior to his senior year, Sharratt said.

"That helped him develop the confidence to stand up and challenge people," Sharratt added. "He has started to hold people to his standard of excellence, not their individual standards.

"He knows that they need to compete with him in the training environment in order to compete at his level in the tournament environment. He's become a more verbal leader who will challenge complacency, who will challenge a lack of effort ... and he will encourage someone to do more than they thought they could do on a given day," Sharratt said.

VonOhlen is happy to get on the mat with anyone, Sharratt said, including middle- and high-schoolers who might be interested in wrestling. The team regularly visits schools in the Colorado Springs area to get kids interested in wrestling in general and Air Force wrestling in particular.

"The whole team has a really good time when we get to do stuff like that, interacting with the kids and teaching them what we know," he said. "Those are pretty fun events for us; we always have a lot of guys who want to go."

VonOhlen, a biology major, will attend technical training in the cyberwarfare career field at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., after he graduates from the Academy.

"I've heard a lot of good things," he said. "I'm pretty excited. It's a change of pace for sure. It should be interesting."

He also hopes to stay involved with wrestling after he graduates.

"I think if I were given the opportunity to keep wrestling, I would definitely take it," he said.