Military News

Saturday, February 23, 2013

51st FW receives 2012 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award

by Airman 1st Class Alexis Siekert
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


2/21/2013 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Earlier this month, the Pacific Air Forces commander, Gen. Herbert Carlisle, announced the 51st Fighter Wing has earned the 2012 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the period of Oct. 1, 2010 to Sept. 30, 2012.

The 51st FW is the most forward deployed wing in the world, providing combat ready forces for close air support, air strike control, counter air, interdiction, theater airlift, and communications in the defense of the Republic of Korea. The wing executes military operations to beddown, maintain and employ follow-on forces for the combined arms base that includes three major flying tenants and large multiservice fighting units. The mission here is Defend Osan, execute combat operations, and receive follow-on forces; Ready to fight and win, tonight.

"I'm incredibly proud of the Airmen and what they have done and continue to do every day," said Col. Patrick McKenzie, 51st FW commander. "Team Osan has worked tirelessly throughout this past year and I couldn't be happier to see all their hard work recognized."

This award is given to units that have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service or outstanding achievement that clearly sets the unit above and apart from similar units, Air Force Personnel Center stated.

All active duty assigned to the 51st during that time period is eligible to wear the ribbon.

The Military Personnel Flight will add the decoration to personnel currently assigned to the wing; however, personnel who have since had a Permanent Change of Station or Permanent Change of Assignment and are entitled to share in the approved unit award should report to their servicing Force Support Squadron for assistance. Veterans should report to their local Veterans Administration offices for assistance. Air Force civilian employees should report to their servicing Civilian Personnel Section to have the award documented in the Defense Civilian Personnel Data System, and receive the appropriate lapel pin, Carlisle said.

3rd Wing E-3 Sentries fl y south to Guam for COPE NORTH

by Air Force 1st Lt. Matthew Chism
JBER Public Affairs


2/21/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Continually, military members are called upon to participate in exercises at home or abroad, but to what end?

Ex-er-cise: something performed or practiced in order to develop, improve or display a specific capability or skill.

Exercises are more than a chance for Airmen to practice the mission; an exercise also represents an opportunity to showcase abilities and develop working relationships, which extend beyond cultures, backgrounds and languages.

During the last two weeks, the 3rd Wing's 962d Airborne Air Control Squadron from JBER has been developing, improving, and integrating capabilities alongside other U.S. Air Force, Australian and Japanese assets during Cope North 2013 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

Cope North is a tri-lateral large-force exercise hosted by Pacific Air Forces to promote regional security and stability of the region by increasing combat readiness and interoperability of U.S. Forces, Australian Defence Force, and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

"Here in Alaska we are a part of the air defense mission, and we support the capability of crisis and threat response in the Pacific Theater of Operations," said Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Erickson, 962d AACS commander. "During Cope North, we are able to facilitate an environment, in coordination with our international partners, which allows us to share information to decision makers. This provides those on the ground and in the air the best possible situational awareness. "

The 962d AACS members who are participating in the exercise said there is clear communication with everyone involved.

"Our folks will be working hard to maintain a clear picture with all of the friendly forces which include Pacific U.S. Air Force, Australian and Japanese assets," said Air Force Capt. Walter Goss, 962d AACS navigator/assistant director of operations. "That support will extend throughout the exercise from the humanitarian portion and combined training missions."

During the humanitarian portion, the operations-focused squadron honed their communication practices with the other participants.

"Cope North is a great test of our interoperability, which is extremely important in the Pacific," Erickson said. "Joining with our sister squadron from Kadena Air Base, [Okinawa, Japan] and our international partners in the region, we are working together as one team... comparing tactics, techniques and procedures."

Goss explained this exercise provides an opportunity to exercise capabilities used during the unit's wartime mission.

"In wartime, we feed a picture to the Combined Air and Space Operations Center," Gross said. "This provides coordination between all of our partners as we work de-confliction and additional radar coverage. Our wartime mission is dynamic, so we strive to maintain proficiency, especially within our core competencies."

Whether in an exercise abroad like Cope North or a home station one like Red Flag-Alaska, the 962d AACS has to accomplish a number of things before the squadron's E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System can get to work.

"When we send our Airmen out to a large exercise, we check their readiness as if it were a real world mission tasking," Erickson said. "It takes a lot to get a team ready to go out the door while still maintaining the readiness of the squadron for a real contingency. Our mobility folks do an outstanding job."

Members of the mobility staff "coordinated the mandatory training, processed information to the Joint Mobility Center and completed Installation Deployment Readiness Center processes for approximately 30 Airmen from the squadron," said Staff Sgt. Eric Mackey, 962d AACS mobility noncommissioned officer.

Goss also explained an aircrew executes scenario-specific training to prepare them for their upcoming missions.

"The aircrew completes simulator missions prior to leaving for a deployment to replicate likely scenarios and enhance crew coordination," Goss said.

All of that work culminates in a prepared crew, but what about the plane?

"The maintenance intensity here is remarkable. The maintainers want the planes to fly as badly as the aircrew does," Goss said.

"Our maintainers are always on top of things, installing new software updates that allow us to communicate with even the newest systems," Erickson said. "962d [Aircraft Maintenance Unit] maintainers work hard to keep these very complex 35-year-old aircraft flying, and my hat goes off to those men and women."

"These men and women work through location restraints and remain extremely operations focused," Goss said. "In our squadron there is no division when it comes to the mission. There is no 'us and them,' it's we, and it's an amazing environment to work in."

Global Strike helps set bar for new service-wide base support standards

Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

2/22/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The Air Force recently launched the Air Force Common Output Level Standards program, or COLS, to normalize services across Air Force Bases.

This program will standardize the delivery of installation support services so Airmen and other customers will have common experiences and expectations from base to base, said Maj. Jennifer Phelps, Air Force COLS program manager at the Pentagon.

"The goal here is consistency," she said. "We want a standard, uniform level of support provided to Airmen at every location."

The program launched in October 2012, with fiscal 2013 installation support service standards set for 40 functions, ranging from the chaplain corps and public affairs to finance and family services.

The immediate local impact of the program should be minimal.

For fiscal year 2013, the program is taking a baseline measurement to assess how services are being provided at the local level.

"Seventy-five percent of the data is already being collected in some shape or form," said Christine Fiske, Command Support Contract Engineer AFGSC Civil Engineering Operations. "HAF [Headquarters Air Force] is simply trying to gather the data for these 40 support functions they feel are important to an Airman's quality of life in one place."

Fiske added that bases will likely not make any major immediate changes based on the COLS, but should keep operating as usual. The Air Force will use current operations as a baseline for their analysis.

This baseline year will take a look at missions, resources, budgets and products to determine how well they are meeting AF-established service standards.

Although data will be initially collected from only 66 bases, including all five Global Strike Command bases, the intent is for all Air Force locations to meet these standards for any installation support services provided.

During subcommittee testimony on Capitol Hill in April 2012, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment, and Logistics Terry Yonkers testified that the AF COLS program is all about using smarter management practices and instituting better standards.

"We must ensure that we have right-sized and efficient infrastructure that enables our most valuable resource, our Airmen, to perform their duties, while ensuring responsible stewardship of fiscal resources," Yonkers said.

Identifying those fiscal resources and budget constraints will be a big part of AF COLS, Phelps said.

"Right now, there is no easy way to calculate the risk that comes with budget cuts for many of our installation support services," she said. Every fiscal year, senior leadership goes to Congress to discuss budget specifics. The goal is that in the future, senior leadership will be armed with AF COLS metrics and better able to communicate requirements and impacts of budget cuts. They'll be able to show exactly what that means to Airmen and families.

"They'll be able to look at the data and see exactly what programs will be impacted most in a situation like that," she said. "On the flip side, they'll also be able to identify areas or functions that need more resources, and will be able to better advocate for that."

She also pointed out that AF COLS will help define exactly what is expected from particular functions.

Phelps emphasized that while AF COLS representatives will be responsible for providing data about their bases and units, the impact will be a great benefit to everyone.

"Currently, there is no one approved level of services," she said. "What Airmen and their families experience at Base X may not be what they experience at Base Y. With this first phase, we're setting the standard."

Editor's Note: Tech. Sgt. Julie Weckerlein, Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Christine Fiske, AFGSC Support Contract Engineer and Joseph Murray, AFGSC Public Affairs, contributed to this article.

Army Releases January 2013 Suicide Information

            The Army released suicide data today for the month of January 2013.  During January, among active-duty soldiers, there were 19 potential suicides:  two have been confirmed as suicides and 17 remain under investigation.  For December 2012, the Army reported seven potential suicides among active-duty soldiers; however, subsequent to the report, another case was added bringing December’s total to eight: five have been confirmed as suicides and three are under investigation. 

            During January, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were 14 potential suicides (six Army National Guard and eight Army Reserve):  One has been confirmed and 13 are still under investigation.  For December 2012, among that same group, the Army reported 15 potential suicides; since the release of that report, one case has been added for a total of 16 (11 Army National Guard and five Army Reserve): nine have been confirmed and seven cases remain under investigation. 

            Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Trained consultants are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and can be contacted by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by visiting their website at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org .

            Army leaders can access current health promotion guidance in newly revised Army Regulation 600-63 (Health Promotion) at: http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/r600_63.pdf and Army Pamphlet 600-24 (Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention) at http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/p600_24.pdf . 

            The Army's comprehensive list of Suicide Prevention Program information is located at http://www.preventsuicide.army.mil .

            Suicide prevention training resources for Army families can be accessed at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/training_sub.asp?sub_cat=20 (requires Army Knowledge Online access to download materials).

            Information about Military OneSource is located at http://www.militaryonesource.com or by dialing the toll-free number 1-800-342-9647 for those residing in the continental United States.  Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource website for dialing instructions for their specific location.

            Information about the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program is located at http://www.army.mil/csf/ .
            The Defense Center for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Outreach Center can be contacted at 1-866-966-1020, via electronic mail at Resources@DCoEOutreach.org and at http://www.dcoe.health.mil .

            The website for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is http://www.afsp.org/ and the Suicide Prevention Resource Council site is found at http://www.sprc.org/index.asp .

Africa Command Deploys 100 Service Members to Niger

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2013 – President Barack Obama notified congressional leaders today that the last of 100 U.S. military specialists have deployed to Niger to support intelligence efforts in the region.
The move is done with Niger’s full consent and cooperation and the troops -- mostly Air Force specialists -- are working out of Niamey, officials said.

Forty troops moved to the area on Feb. 20. “This deployment will provide support for intelligence collection and will also facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali, and with other partners in the region,” Obama wrote in his letter to congressional leaders.

The troops will provide their own force protection and security.

U.S. Africa Command recommended placing unarmed remotely piloted aircraft in Niger to support a range of regional security missions and engagements with partner nations. Last month, the United States and Niger signed an agreement on the status of American forces in Niger.

Al-Qaida and other extremist groups have been operating in neighboring Mali. The deployment is designed to promote regional stability in support of U.S. diplomacy and national security, and to strengthen relationships with regional leaders committed to security and prosperity, Pentagon officials said.

The Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets provide vital capabilities to the United States, African partners and other partners in the region. The unarmed UAVs “provide an unrivaled capability to harness information and make it useful to commanders,” officials said.

F-35s Grounded as Precaution After Crack Found in Engine Blade

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2013 – All F-35s have been grounded as a precaution after a routine engine inspection revealed a crack on an engine blade, Defense Department officials said here today.

Officials call this a “cautionary suspension of flight.” The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fly F-35s.

Inspectors found the crack in an F135 engine installed in an F-35A Lightning II aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. This is the conventional take-off and landing version of the joint strike fighter.
Officials are shipping the engine and its associated hardware to Pratt & Whitney’s engine facility in Middletown, Conn., to conduct more thorough evaluation and root cause analysis.

Officials said the grounding is precautionary. All F-35 flight operations have been suspended until the investigation is complete, officials said, and it is too early to know the fleetwide impact.

“The F-35 Joint Program Office is working closely with Pratt & Whitney and Lockheed Martin at all F-35 locations to ensure the integrity of the engine, and to return the fleet safely to flight as soon as possible,” a Defense Department news release said.

Maintaining our commitment to excellence in the nuclear enterprise

Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

2/22/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.  -- On Feb. 15, Air Force officials announced the split of the space and missile career field to ensure more focused development for officers performing these critical missions.

The change affects approximately 3,100 officers Air Force wide coded as either "Space Operations" or "Nuclear and Missile Operations" within the former 13S career field, officials said. Those officers previously coded as "Space Operations" will remain in the 13S career field and those officers previously coded as "Nuclear and Missile Operations" will have their AFSCs changed to 13N.

"Space and Missile Operations have become more and more technical in application and execution--each in their own unique ways," said Col. Joseph Prue, career field manager for space operations officers. "This split will enable each career field to continue cultivating technical expertise via separate, yet equally important, avenues in order to be more effective and efficient in meeting current and future AF needs."

Within Air Force Global Strike Command, an estimated 844 13S positions will be converted to 13N.

This change will allow the Air Force to further strengthen the nuclear enterprise, said Col. Zannis Pappas, the new career field manager for "Nuclear and Missile Operations," or AFSC 13N.

"For several years, a portion of 13S officers have been designated for nuclear duty. This formalizes a distinction that already exists, but giving us our own career field to focus on nuclear expertise and leadership development," said Maj. William Weiford III, executive officer to the director of operations, AFGSC.

Those selected for the 13N career field will develop the leadership and nuclear technical competency required to lead the nation's ICBM nuclear forces.

Affected officers should contact their career field managers or MAJCOM functional managers for more information about how the change will affect them.

"The transformation of the career field will give space and missile officers opportunities to develop the depth and breadth they need for command, as well as the opportunity for career-long development in specific mission areas," Prue said.

Editor's Note: Capt. Karen Mock, AFGSC Public Affairs, contributed to this article, with background information provided by the office of the Secretary of the Air Force for Public Affairs.

Air Mobility Command Headquarters garners Organizational Excellence Award

from Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

2/22/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The Air Force has awarded the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award to Headquarters Air Mobility Command for global air mobility operations from Jan. 1, 2010 through Dec. 31, 2011.

"This award recognizes the Airmen of Air Mobility Command who provide global support to our joint partners, allied nations and fellow Americans in need," said Gen. Paul Selva, AMC commander. "I'm humbled to be a part of this great organization."

The award citation notes the command's success in planning, coordinating and managing Operation Unified Protector in Libya and the successful relief to victims of two hurricanes, an earthquake in Haiti, Pakistan flood relief, and assistance to Japan after a tsunami.

"This award recognizes the selflessness of our Airmen and the commitment to always answer the call of those in need," said Chief Master Sgt. Andy Kaiser, AMC command chief.

Throughout the award period, Air Mobility Command Airmen moved 1.4 million passengers and 818,000 tons of cargo and delivered 2.2 billion pounds of fuel to 171,000 aircraft in support of Operations Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and New Dawn in Iraq.

AMC also reduced flying training requirements by 83,000 hours and recommended changes to Air Force policy producing total fuel cost avoidance of $267 million.

Personnel assigned or attached to headquarters AMC for at least one day between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2011, who directly contributed to the mission and accomplishments of the unit, are authorized the AFOEA ribbon.