Military News

Monday, January 28, 2013

Flournoy takes command at Air Reserve Personnel Center

by Tech. Sgt. Rob Hazelett
ARPC Public Affairs


1/25/2013 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- Brig. Gen. John C. Flournoy, Jr., became commander of the Air Reserve Personnel Center here in a change of command ceremony Jan. 25.

Flournoy became the 32nd commander when he assumed command from Col. Patricia S. Blassie in a ceremony officiated by Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of the Air Force Reserve Command.

"Colonel Blassie, you experienced a lot of change during your tenure as commander -- from a physical move to Buckley AFB to huge leaps in the modernization of ARPC," Jackson said. "Thank you for your leadership and dedication to ARPC, and the incredible service you and ARPC provide for our Citizen Airmen."

Flournoy is the former 349th Air Mobility Wing commander at Travis AFB, Calif. Blassie is moving to Robins AFB, Ga., to become the chief of the Professional Development Center.

"Thank you, General Jackson, for the opportunity to lead such an incredibly accomplished organization," Flournoy said. "Team ARPC, thank you for your seamless service to all of our Airmen. I am honored to be your commander and stand with you: wingmen, leaders, warriors."

"To the men and women of ARPC: No matter what we faced, we stood strong together to accomplish our unique mission," Blassie said. "You are a magnificent team of professionals. The people who serve the people who serve. I am so tremendously proud to have served as your commander."

ARPC is responsible for personnel support to nearly 1 million Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and retired members, ensuring they are ready to deliver strategic Total Force war-fighting capability for the Air Force. From initial entry to retirement, the center provides world-class support for generations of Airmen throughout their military careers. The center is a direct reporting unit under AFRC.

AF's most combat-decorated unit since Vietnam War honors latest heroes

by Capt. Belena S. Marquez
Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs


1/26/2013 - JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. -- The most combat-decorated Air Force unit since the end of the Vietnam War named more heroes Jan. 23-24 during medal presentation ceremonies at Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Ore., and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

The 24th Special Operations Wing gained one Silver Star, six Bronze Star medals with Valor, and seven Bronze Star medals when Airmen from the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron were recognized with the nation's third and fourth highest combat decorations.

"Like many, the Airmen's willingness to serve at the tip of the spear, directly going into harm's way to attack the enemy time after time, represents the best of America," said Col. Robert Armfield, commander of the 24th SOW. "We are proud to see their sacrifice recognized. It gives us a chance to pause for just a moment to thank these special operators and, more importantly, to recognize their families, who bear the burden of this relentless mission."

During the ceremony, Staff Sgt. Adam Krueger was awarded the Silver Star, the third highest combat military decoration in the United States, for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States while engaged in military operations.

While on a foot patrol, his team was ambushed by an entrenched enemy less than 10 meters from the friendly position. The Army Special Forces team was immediately pinned down and then Senior Airman Krueger directed an F-15 strafing run within meters of his position to allow the friendly patrol to fight their way into a compound and establish a strong point.

"He took care of us on that day," said one of Krueger's Special Forces teammates, who attended the ceremony.

During the subsequent 12-hour firefight, two Soldiers were hit with enemy rounds. Kruger exposed himself to enemy fire in order to direct another air attack to allow the wounded members to be moved to safety. He then exposed himself again to mark the landing zone for the medical evacuation helicopter, enabling the life-saving patient evacuation. Additionally, Airman Krueger directed nine danger-close airstrikes.

Krueger's receipt of the medal marks the 32nd Silver Star earned by Air Force Special Operations Command Special Tactics Airmen since 9/11.

"It takes an uncommon bravery to put oneself in direct danger," said Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, AFSOC commander. "If I were to ask any one of these men what they think about these decorations, I'm sure that they would all humbly respond that they were just doing their job."

Fiel told the audience what doing their job and more means for a deployed combat controller as he described actions that resulted in the sixth Silver Star awarded to the 22nd STS.

"Repeatedly exposing oneself to enemy fire after being pinned down by a coordinated, lethal ambush, coordinating for nine danger-close air strikes which allowed your teammates to seek cover and recover wounded personnel, and providing suppressive fire while simultaneously marking a landing zone to enable a life-saving patient evacuation, without regard to one's own safety, as Staff Sgt. Adam Krueger did, is more than just doing your job," he said.

Fiel also recognized the courageous actions of the Bronze Star and Bronze Star with Valor recipients.

The Bronze Star is the fourth highest combat honor in the United States and is awarded for acts of bravery and meritorious service against an armed enemy of the United States. When the Bronze Star is awarded for heroism, it is annotated by a bronze "V" device, which designates valor.

Many of the honorees were awarded their third or fourth Bronze Star. As a result, they received oak leaf clusters, which are worn on the medal or ribbon to indicate subsequent awards.

According to the medal citations, the recipients contributed to coordinated air attacks, ground combat support, casualty medical evacuation capabilities, and lives saved, all while engaged in combat operations.

"Though each of these men are being recognized for their courage, these decorations were earned in years [of preparation]--through long physical, mental and technical training pipelines. Across experiences from previous deployments and through the lessons passed on by the men who bore the standard before them," Fiel said.

In order to earn the right to wear the scarlet beret, the mark of combat controllers, candidates must complete 35 weeks of initial training. Additional training for the career field includes pipeline courses which result in mastery of parachuting skills, combat diving, survival techniques, special tactics skills and qualifications in air traffic control.

Lt. Col. Thad Allen, 22 STS commander, who has known the Silver Star recipient since 2008, said Krueger, like many other Combat Controllers across AFSOC, trained for years honing his skills to deal with the complexities of combat.

"Often, it's Senior Airmen, like Adam, making life or death decisions under fire, with potential strategic impact. That in and of itself is impressive," he said.
During the ceremony speech, Fiel also addressed the family members in attendance.

"Between a demanding pace of today's global special operations and your community's commitment to quiet professionalism we do not come together often enough to recognize the tremendous dedication of our special tactics," Fiel said. "But it is truly a pleasure for me to reflect on their accomplishments, particularly in the presence of family members and of course, the squadron teammates."

He also emphasized the significance of family support to the AFSOC mission and offered them a special message.

"I thank you personally for everything you do, every day for the nation," Fiel said. "It does not go unnoticed. Our military families make extraordinary, unique sacrifices to support our mission and we sincerely appreciate your contributions to our nation's security."

Before the group heard the citations, Fiel prepared to award the medals to the 13 recipients with one final statement.

"The stories...are inspiring and call each of us to rededicate ourselves, preparing for our own moment of opportunity, when a critical mission and the lives of our teammates will demand that we realize our full potential."

The honorees were:

Silver Star and Bronze Star:
Staff Sgt. Adam Krueger

Bronze Star with Valor Recipients:
Master Sgt. Douglas Neville
Tech. Sgt. Michael Orlando
Staff Sgt. Joshua Busch
Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Roberts
Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Salazar
Staff Sgt. Michael Wilhelm

Bronze Star Recipients:
Captain Joshua Barlow
Tech. Sgt. Michael A. Kurta
Tech. Sgt. Matthew McKenna
Senior Airman Benjamin De Boer
Senior Airman Christopher Kagan
Senior Airman John Moyle

Air Advisor Academy honors Yokota with first PACOM course

by Senior Airman Cody H. Ramirez
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


1/28/2013 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- The Air Force Air Advisor Academy instructed cultural preparation and engagement to a team of professional airlifters at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Jan. 14 - 18, making it the first time the academy has sent a mobility training team to train in the Pacific Command since the school began in May 2012.

The five-day course began with an overview of the vast and diverse PACOM mission and focused into a more Yokota-specific mission as the class progressed. The 36th Airlift Squadron hosted the class and provided the instructors with upcoming Yokota engagement opportunities -- Indonesia and Thailand.

The U.S. is moving forward by building partnerships since President Barack Obama outlined the need for alliances in the 2012 National Security Strategy. Because of this need, the AAA is continuing to grow and spread support throughout the Air Force.

According to Maj. Alex Richburg, U.S. Air Force AAA Division chief of Language, Region and Culture Studies, the U.S. focus shifted to the Pacific recently and has added extra weight to conducting these exercises and building partnerships. He said squadrons like the 36th AS are trying to do more in order to meet the requirements the president put emphasis on, and the AAA instructors came to Yokota to help the airlifters be more effective at what they do.

"We can strive to be the best airlifters in the world, but if we don't know how to effectively communicate and build relationships with our partner nations in the Pacific, then our airlift skills are being squandered," said Capt. Olin Johnson, 36th AS C-130 Hercules pilot.

Johnson said he and his squadron train to fly. They practice day-to-day to be professional airlifters, but lack training in cross-cultural affairs, and that is exactly where the course came into play.

"The Air Advisor course taught us essential skills for building partnerships and knowledge of cultural norms and how to effectively communicate with individuals from other cultures," Johnson added. "We may have the best intentions, but if we don't know how to communicate those intentions in a culturally-appropriate context, then we set ourselves up for embarrassment at best and failure at worst."

Air adviser skills are invaluable for anyone working hand-in-hand with partner nations, and according to Johnson, the course gave students the tools needed to communicate effectively.

"The training gave our mission commanders and key players both the skills and confidence to build relationships with our partners," he added. "Each class was useful and tailored to the specific needs of Yokota's role in PACOM."

The course taught Yokota members what their legal limits are as air adviser along with tactical skills. Richburg said his instruction taught the airlifters to be more effective in exercises they are already doing. Lessons included mission planning, execution and after action analysis; behavior in host countries; using embassy resources; surviving if things go bad and understanding culture.

The U.S. has advisers in 135 countries, which requires many Airmen to fill those roles.
"We try to take someone with knowledge of being an adviser and teach them exactly how to be effective," Richburg said. "It is not teaching aviation, but it is teaching aviation-related professionals how to interact and work with a foreign culture in an advisory role."

The AAA and its mobility course takes general-purpose forces -- people who are mature, experienced Airmen, typically between staff sergeant and colonel, who are tasked to work with foreign governments or militaries, usually at the host nation's request -- and train them to function as air advisers when collaborating with host nations. The instructors educate Airmen who are already proficient at their jobs to apply their job skills in a foreign country, government, military and other cultures.

"These Airmen are not traditionally advisers, but have exercise opportunities to be in an adviser role with host nations, and we are giving them some skills or tools to make them more effective at working with allies and influencing the region," Richburg said. "When we partner with nations, we are less likely to get into armed conflict, and it allows our partner nations to help us help them secure the region.

"We see people going to Afghanistan, Morocco and Egypt and they are applying this knowledge every day," he added. "Now we can see the same knowledge applied to the Pacific region."

When the course returns to Yokota to train more airlifters in the art of cultural engagement depends on the demand, Richburg said. He added that the 36th AS has already requested another course this year, so there is a great chance for more professional airlifters to train as air advisers.

"We are still growing and our primary concern is our in-residence class, but we put together small teams of instructors to go on the road and teach when needed," added Richburg.

Ceremony honors six Oregon Airmen

by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel
142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs


1/25/2013 - PORTLAND,Ore -- In a rare break with normal ceremonial protocol, the commander of Air Force Special Operations Command invited family members onto the stage for photos following the pinning of each of the five Bronze Star Medals and one Purple Heart Medal awarded to members of the Oregon Air National Guard's 125th Special Tactics Squadron.

"This ceremony is as much to honor the families of these Airmen as it is for the Airmen themselves," said Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, who flew in from AFSOC headquarters in Hurlburt Field, Fla., to present the awards.

The six Airmen, in Air Force dress uniform, with their signature special operations scarlet beret, were honored during the afternoon ceremony in the Rosenbaum Hangar for their distinguished service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The crowd was comprised of Airmen, Soldiers, Oregon National Guard leadership, representatives from the Port of Portland, and family members and friends.

Five of the Airmen were awarded Bronze Stars, two of which included the "V" for valor, and another received the Purple Heart. The group are all trained combat controllers in an elite squadron of Special Operations--a career field which has garnered the highest number of decorations in the entire Air Force, remarked Fiel.

"Between the demanding pace of today's global special operations and your community's commitment to the quiet professionals, we are all fortunate to be able to recognize these special tactic Airmen on occasions like this," said Fiel.

Recipients of the Bronze star medal were; Staff Sgt. David A. Albright, Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey A. Dolezal, Staff Sgt. Jacob M. Guffey, Master Sgt. Scott A. Geisser and Senior Airman Chadwick J. Boles. Tech. Sgt. Douglas J. Matthews was awarded Purple Heart, the nation's oldest medal, first established by President George Washington on August 7, 1782, while he served as the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. The award features the likeness of Washington on its front.

The Bronze Star Medal the fourth-highest combat decoration and the ninth highest U.S. military award in order of precedence. Established on Feb. 4, 1944, it may be awarded for acts of heroism, acts of merit, or meritorious service in a combat zone. When awarded for acts of heroism, the medal is awarded with the "V" device.

Fiel acknowledged the family members in the audience.

"Military families pay a heavy price in support of their loved ones in uniform so today this is your ceremony so please take the opportunity to take photographs and enjoy the time together," he said.

Presiding over the ceremony was Oregon Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Steven D. Gregg, commander of the Oregon Air National Guard.

"Today we have the opportunity to recognize the incredible work our Combat Controllers are doing when working with collation forces to provide stabilize throughout Afghanistan," Gregg said, as the honorees sat in a row across the stage.

The current mobilization began for the 125th STS in May 2011 as members began leaving in three separate cycles lasting six-month per deployment in November 2011. The last of the three deployment cycles will end in March 2013. A total of 29 Oregon Citizen-Airmen from the 125th STS have deployed to Afghanistan since May 2011.

Combat controllers are highly-trained experts who deploy undetected into combat and hostile environments, where they perform a variety of task to include; establishing assault zones and air fields, conduct air traffic control, fire support, command and control, counter terrorism as well as humanitarian missions.

During the latest cycle of deployments, the Airmen took part in over 800 combat missions, including 100 fire fights, which averaged more than one every three days. Furthermore, they neutralized over 190 enemy combatants with no civilian causalities, Gregg said.

"The scope and the scale of what the combat controllers of the 125th have achieved on the battle field in the past 15-months is nothing short of remarkable," he added. "The Airmen of the 125th are as accomplished as they are unique to the mission they support."

Master Sgt. Scott Geisser, who has been 125th STS since the unit formed in 2005, has played a critical role over the past eight years helping to build the squadron from the ground up. His actions during the deployment drew upon his tactical skills in command and control with over 100 fixed and rotary wing aircraft supporting operations targeted Taliban insurgents in numerous fire fights.

A native of Gig Harbor, Wash., Staff Sgt. Jacob Guffey attended the University of Hawaii at Hilo for two years before joining the military, and taking on the two years' worth of training necessary to become a combat controller with the 125th. In Afghanistan he embedded with a Marine Special Operations team and Afghan Commando Battalion on complex operations to clear deeply entrenched insurgent pockets in the Helmand province. He also controlled four medical evacuations, including one while he performing treatment to a teammate who had been struck by sniper fire.

Staff Sgt. David Albright's Air Force career began as a crew chief repairing and maintaining many of the aircraft that would later support his role in theatre as a combat controller. A native of Taylor, Mich., he entered the demanding 'pipeline training' of the Combat Control courses as he transitioned to the Oregon Air National Guard in June 2008, following six years in the active duty Air Force. During his tour in Afghanistan, his team was ambushed by 20 insurgents while on patrol searching for an automatic anti-aircraft weapon. Albright quickly engaged the enemy while coordinating two close support A-10 aircraft with strafing attacks to counter the insurgents.

Once an Air Force captain, Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Dolezal traded in his commission after graduating from the Air Force Academy in 2002 to become a combat controller with the 720th Operational Support Squadron in Hurlburt Field, Fla. As a member of the Oregon Air National Guard, he is responsible for coordinating and executing training for operators in the 125th STS. He conducted more than 170 fixed wing and rotary wing attacks during his last deployment and his team was instrumental in improving relations with the local population, helping garner support for the local Afghan security forces.

Senior Airman Chadwick Boles lettered football and volleyball in high school before joining the Air Force in early 2005. Like Dolezal, he was previously assigned on active duty with the 720th Operational Support Squadron before joining the 125th STS as a drill status member. It was during his most recent deployment that Boles earned his Bronze Star with Valor for engaging the enemy under heavy fire, exposing himself to incoming rounds, while he helped save a teammate who had been shot. He also assisted in the urgent care of that member until a safe medical evacuation helicopter could be secured.

Currently a student at the University of Colorado, Tech. Sgt. Douglas Matthews first served on active duty in the Air Force from 2003 to 2008 and later became a member of the Oregon Air National Guard. Before being wounded and receiving the Purple Heart Medal from his latest deployment to Afghanistan, Matthews himself has been active in the Wounded Warrior Foundation.

"What a privilege it is to honor their extraordinary service here today," said Gregg.

In keeping with the domestic mission of the National Guard, within days of returning to Oregon, several members responded to search and rescue missions in support of "Super-Storm" Sandy.

"It is truly amazing what Air Force units like the 125th provide to the wider Special Operations teams," Fiel said.

Special operations teams are made up of Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines, and have been responsible over the last 11 years, killing or capturing more terrorist then all the conventional forces combined, Fiel added.

The 125th Special Tactics Squadron is one of only two Special Tactic units in the Air National Guard. Established on May 27, 2005, the 125th STS has deployed forces in support of numerous overseas combat deployments including Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn in Iraq, and domestic emergency response missions such as the flooding in Vernonia, Ore., in 2007, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, and the recent response efforts following Super Storm Sandy.

113th reaches alert milestone

by Master Sgt. Jerry Harlan
AFNORTH Public Affairs


1/24/2013 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 113th Aerospace Control Alert Detachment of the District of Columbia Air National Guard at Joint Base Andrews passed a major air defense milestone January 9, responding to its 4,000th alert event since Operation Noble Eagle started in September, 2001.

An alert event is designated when the unit's F-16 fighters are alerted to the runway or beyond responding to a possible airborne threat.

"Day, night, rain or shine, our forces are on alert 24/7 protecting the NCR," stated Lt. Col. Chris Hardgrave, the 113th ACA Commander. "I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of the men and women of the 113th ACA detachment for hitting this alert milestone. It is a testament to the dedication, professionalism and daily sacrifice of our folks who have done the alert mission day in and day out for over 11 years."

The 113th ACA, protecting the National Capital Region (NCR), is the most active air defense unit in the nation; responding to more alert events than the entire nation's other ACA units combined. In 2012 alone the unit responded to 509 events and has been conducting steady state alert from Joint Base Andrews since the attacks on 9/11.

"The defense of the NCR is a team effort. We couldn't accomplish our assigned tasking without support from the Eastern Air Defense Sector, Joint Air Defense Operations Center, U.S. Coast Guard assets, 11th Wing, 89th Wing, Air Force District of Washington, and the FAA, just to name a few of our partners here at Joint Base Andrews and around the NCR," said Brig. Gen. Marc Sasseville, the 113th Wing Commander.

Operation Noble Eagle is an ongoing NORAD mission started in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to protect the continental United States from further airborne aggression from inside and outside of U.S. borders. Since then, Continental U.S. NORAD Region fighters have responded to more than 5,000 possible air threats in the United States and have flown more than 62,500 sorties with the support of Airborne Warning and Control System and air-to-air-refueling aircraft.

DOD to Begin Review of Family, Military Community Programs

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2013 – A new task force will start work next month on a 120-day review of all family and military community programs across the Defense Department to determine their effectiveness and identify gaps and potential efficiencies, a senior defense official said.

Charles E. Milam, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy, will lead the Common Services Task Force at the request of Jessica Wright, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, he told defense reporters here last week.
“The goals of the task force are to continue providing exceptional support to service members and their families as effectively and efficiently as possible,” Milam said, “and -- this is a guiding principle for us -- we expect to deliver the same or better level of programs and services.”

Task force members will include senior leaders at the one-star or Senior Executive Service level from each secretariat and service, he said, along with representation from the DOD comptroller’s office, the Pentagon cost assessment and program evaluation office, and the public affairs and legislative affairs offices.

The services independently have been looking at many of the same program issues, Milam added.
Last year, for example, the Military Family Readiness Council initiated an effectiveness review for 170 family programs that exist across the services, he said.

“What we’re looking at now [in that review] is building effectiveness measures on those programs [to see] which ones are effective, which ones are moving the needle, which ones have an impact,” the deputy assistant secretary explained.

 In the meantime, he added, DOD officials decided they needed to look at the issue more holistically and across the department.

One driver of the task force’s review will be demographic, Milam said.

A majority of service members used to live on military installations, but now about 75 percent live in surrounding communities, he noted. “One of the concerns that we hear repeatedly on surveys is that our service members and their families aren’t aware of many of the programs being offered,” he said.

Milam said the review will look at every program under the portfolio of the Pentagon’s military community and family policy office. These include programs that serve children, teens and families, as well as those that address recreation, business and exceptional family members.

Recreation programs can address fitness and wellness, and business programs can include golf programs, bowling centers, outdoor recreation and community centers, he said.

To determine which programs work, Milam said the department will examine “feedback from military families [about] which programs reduce stress, which ones improve quality of life of our service members, and which ones reach our service members.”

The services all are doing similar things under the direction of DOD’s military community and family policy office, Milam said. “Whether there is redundancy in that or not, we’ll find out,” he added. “That’s what this is all about. There’s going to be a fact-gathering period where we’re going to look at all these programs to see what’s out there.”

Commissaries, military exchanges and the DOD Education Activity -- which runs schools for children of military families -- will not be part of the review, he added.

“This initiative is not related to any budget-cutting drill,” Milam clarified. “But when we go through this process, if we find efficiencies, which we possibly will, there are two pots of money we’re talking about.”

Nonappropriated funds are those generated at the local level through service members in buying and using services, he said. “Any savings that we generate there will go back to the installations to improve quality-of-life programs,” Milam said. For savings found in activities that operate with appropriated funds, he added, decisions will need to be made about what to do with those funds.
If gaps in family services are found during the review, Milam said, community partnerships may be an answer.

“If we find gaps, there’s going to have to be some collaboration with the communities,” he said. “We’re doing this already in our child development programs.”

For those programs, service members and their families can use nationally accredited child development programs outside the installation. They pay up to the maximum rate charged for on-base care at that local installation and are reimbursed the difference, he said.

“So there’s a model out there already where we’re using community services,” Milam said. “That’s not to say we don’t need child development programs on the installation. We need both.”

Parents want child care where they work or live, he noted. “But we also need to look at those other services,” he added. “Do we need to build more fitness centers or can we perhaps partner more? These are the things that we’re going to look at.”

Joining forces, increasing effectiveness

by 2nd Lt. Steven Lane
733rd Air Mobility Squadron


1/24/2013 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The Third Marine Expeditionary Force has been a staple on Okinawa, Japan since World War II. The MEF is forward-deployed here in order to safe-guard American and our allies' interests in Asia and they cover a spectrum of humanitarian aid, amphibious assault, and combat operations.

In order to be ready at all times for their nation's calling, the Marines undergo bi-annual troop movements. They completely "swap out" with fresh troops to ensure force capability. This swap is called a Unit Deployment Program.

This UDP is a large logistical effort involving the movements of approximately 3,500 personnel through the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron terminal every six months. Marines do not own outsized transport aircraft; instead, they rely heavily on Air Mobility Command and contracted airlift for their large troop deployments. This is a key strategic decision, which allows a seamless transition for the troops arriving in theater to immediately begin supporting operations.

The UDP brings in Marine forces like the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, 2nd Battalion, and the 1st Marines based at Camp Pendleton, Calif. These units come over and provide a multitude of platforms; anything from a United States humanitarian role model to bilateral exercises as the designated Battalion Landing Team MEU force. The deployment program enables extensive training and increased readiness for both Airmen and Marines alike.

That is when the Airmen of the 733rd AMS at Kadena Air Base come into the picture. The 733rd AMS receives and delivers these Marines.

"We always know that UDP time means a huge influx of our passenger numbers and we are here to facilitate their movements," said Staff Sgt. Brianna McNab, a passenger service supervisor for the 733rd AMS. "The 733rd is the single point of contact between the III MEF and the carrier aircraft; everything we do is truly a team effort."

Along with the partnership of III MEF Marines, this process has been streamlined exponentially. The original process left the Marines to fend for themselves on the flightline with minimal experience and the daunting task; to download and upload 350 passengers in less than three hours. The task may seem overwhelming to ground forces, but the 733rd AMS does this kind of movement regularly. The process has since been simplified with a new logistical coordination between the two teams.

"The Marines can do what they do best and we will do what we do best," said Master Sgt. Jessica Coombs, 733rd AMS Passenger Services superintendent.

According to Coombs, the terminal will be responsible for all aerial port debarkation procedures that service members would encounter during a typical military movement.

Transportation to and from aircraft, organization of baggage download, and booking of passengers are all operations handled by the 733rd AMS daily. The Marines can then focus on the transportation from the terminal to home-stations.

"This operation is the first thing that incoming Marines see of Okinawa, and we want to demonstrate a solid partnership as the first boot touches the ground," said Lt. Col Jupe Etheridge, 733rd AMS commander. "The organization and rapid movement benefits the morale and wellness of America's troops in the East. Building mobility partnerships are a must to the success of our operations and sister services are forced to rely upon one another. This is the true meaning of joint operations."

NORAD Jets Prepare to Protect Super Bowl Skies

From a Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region News Release

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., Jan. 28, 2013 – Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region fighters, along with interagency partners, will be busy well before Super Bowl Sunday preparing to protect the skies around the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

Just like the teams in the Super Bowl, the Continental U.S. NORAD Region and its partners will practice before the big game.

Exercise Falcon Virgo 13-Super Bowl, a NORAD air defense exercise, will take place tomorrow in the greater New Orleans area to allow interagency partners the chance to practice procedures for responding to airspace violations.

The Falcon Virgo exercise is a series of training flights in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the FBI, Customs and Border Protection, Civil Air Patrol, the 601st Air and Space Operations Center, and the Continental U.S. NORAD Region’s Western Air Defense Sector. These agencies are part of America’s team for defense of the air space around the nation, including major events such as the Super Bowl.

New Orleans residents can expect flights to begin around 7 a.m. CST tomorrow and continue for about an hour, officials said. If inclement weather occurs, the exercise will take place the following morning, and if bad weather continues, officials will then make a decision to postpone or cancel the exercise.

“A key aspect of our daily air defense measures lies in our interagency coordination,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Sid Clarke, Continental U.S. NORAD Region commander. “This Falcon Virgo exercise is the perfect opportunity for the Continental U.S. NORAD Region and all our interagency partners to work together honing our air defense skills before Sunday’s big game.”

These exercises are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure the Continental U.S. NORAD Region’s rapid response capability, officials said, noting that the Continental U.S. NORAD Region has conducted exercise flights of this nature throughout the United States since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the nation’s ongoing response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“When it comes to defending America’s skies, whether it’s Super Bowl Sunday or any other day, the men and women of the Continental U.S. NORAD Region and America’s AOC are always on duty,” Clarke said. “We are America’s airmen on the watch.”

Since 9/11, Continental U.S. NORAD Region fighters have responded to more than 5,000 possible air threats in the United States and have flown more than 62,500 sorties with the support of Airborne Warning and Control System and air-to-air-refueling aircraft for Operation Noble Eagle.