Military News

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Peterson Reserve C-130 wing plans for flying, civilian work hour reductions

by 302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

2/28/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- Automatic budget cuts triggered by sequestration set to begin March 1 could result in a reduction of up to 18 percent of flying hours and civilian employee furloughs in the 302nd Airlift Wing here. These actions could create significant challenges for the Air Force Reserve Command unit in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta notified Congress Feb. 20 that the Department of Defense is prepared to implement furloughs for civilian employees in response to sequestration. If sequestration occurs, the military services and defense agencies expect to furlough most DOD civilian employees for an average of one day per week for up to 22 weeks starting as early as late April. This equates to about a 20 percent cut in work hours and pay for that time frame.

Roughly 99 percent of the 302nd AW's full-time work force of 195 Air Reserve Technicians and 21 federal civil service employees, including the commander of the C-130 airlift wing could be furloughed, potentially facing a 20 percent reduction in civilian weekday work hours during the furlough time frame.

"The possibility of civilian furloughs and potential reduction in flying hours for our Reserve wing is extremely challenging" said Col. Jay Pittman, 302nd AW commander. "The group commanders and I have discussed possible options. Scheduling of aircraft maintenance, flying hours, ground and flying training and mission support for our Airmen will be scrutinized and adjusted. While we will do everything we can to avoid it, these cuts have a good chance of affecting our readiness and ability to perform our mission at our current level, and that would be new and unsettling territory for us."

Discussing the impact sequestration would have on the wing's Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System mission, Lt. Col. Luke Thompson, chief of aerial fire fighting explained, "We are working on contingency plans in the event sequestration becomes a reality. Our deploying aircrews, C-130 aircrew instructors and MAFFS crews will take priority for available flying training hours."

"The MAFFS mission is a priority for our wing and we will do everything we can to ensure the 302nd is ready to support it when called upon by the U.S. Forest Service," Pittman added.

The 302nd AW along with Air Force Reserve wings around the nation are awaiting further guidance from Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command should sequestration and subsequent cuts occur.

"The ARTs and Reserve Airmen of this wing have succeeded in every aspect of our mission when previously faced with challenges to include limited resources, but the possibility of sequestration and civilian furloughs in my opinion, may present one of our greatest challenges to date," said Pittman.

US-Canadian exercise kicks off at Fort Bragg

by Adam Luther
440 AW/PA


2/28/2013 - POPE FIELD, N.C. -- Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, U.S. Air Force Airmen and the Royal Canadian Air Force are participating in the Joint Operational Access Exercise that began Feb. 25 at Fort Bragg, N.C. 

JOAX is a two-week exercise to prepare Air Force and Army service members to respond to worldwide crises and contingencies.

Three C-130J's, four C-130H's, and six C-17 Globemasters from the U.S. Air Force and a Royal Canadian Air Force C-130J and a C-177 are involved in the operation.  Thus far 1,459 paratroopers have performed static line jumps for JOAX with follow-up missions when they assemble on the ground. 

This combined exercise enables U.S. and Canadian mobility aircrews to train with paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division on projecting combat power in a hostile environment.

AF traces women's roles to World War II

by Martha Lockwood
Air Force News Service


3/2/2013 - FORT MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- The Air Force's acceptance of women into the force dates back to long before the first "Women's History Week" celebration in 1978.

In 1942, the U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) took the unheard-of step of forming and employing two women's aviation units. That same year, a unit of flight nurses who had not yet quite finished their training, were sent into North Africa on Christmas Day following the Allied invasion in November of that year.

And the history of women--civilian and military--was forever changed.

WASPS, WAFS and a Willingness to Serve

Originally, the idea of using women pilots was first suggested in 1930, but was considered "unfeasible," according to information maintained at the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

Then, in mid-1942, an increased need for World War II combat pilots, favored the use of experienced women pilots to fly aircraft on non-combat missions.

Two women's aviation units--The Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS--with a capital S) and the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) were formed to ease this need. More than 1,000 women participated in these programs as civilians attached to the USAAC, flying 60 million miles of non-combat military missions.

These two units were merged into a single group, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program in August 1943, and broke ground for U.S. Air Force female pilots who would follow in their footsteps decades later.

Of the more than 25,000 women who applied for pilot training under the WASP program, 1,830 were accepted, 1,074 were graduated, and 916 (including 16 former WAFS) remained when the program was disbanded in December 1944. WASP assignments were diverse--as flight training instructors, glider tow pilots, towing targets for air-to-air and anti-aircraft gunnery practice, engineering test flying, ferrying aircraft, and other duties.

Although WASPs had the privileges of officers, they were never formally adopted into the USAAC. In November 1977--33 years after the WASPs program was disbanded--President Carter signed a bill granting World War II veterans' status to former WASPs.

"Winged Angels."

It was a slightly different story for flight nurses who were members of the military from the beginning. As it was with so many advances and innovations resulting from World War II, the USAAC radically changed military medical care, and the development of air evacuation and the training of flight nurses were advanced to meet this need.

After the invasion of North Africa in November 1942, the need for flight nurses exceeded the supply, and women who had not yet finished their training were called into action and sent to North Africa on Christmas Day. Finally, in February 1943, the first class of Army Nurse Corps flight nurses graduated.

Unlike their stateside-stationed counterparts in the WASPs, flight nurses (nicknamed "Winged Angels") in the Army Nurse Corps served in combat. They were especially vulnerable to enemy attacks because aircraft used for evacuation could not display their non-combat status.

These same aircraft were also used to transport military supplies. In anticipation and preparation for almost any emergency, flight nurses were required to learn crash procedures, receive survival training, and know the effects of high altitude on a vast array of pathologies.

Of the nearly 1.2 million patients air evacuated throughout the war, only 46 died en route. About 500 USAAC nurses (only 17 died in combat) served as members of 31 medical air evacuation transport squadrons throughout the world.

When President Harry Truman signed The National Security Act of 1947, creating the Department of Defense, the U. S. Air Force became a separate military service. At the time, a number of Women's Army Corps (WACs) members continued serving in the Army but performed Air Force duties.

The following year, some WACs chose to transfer to the Women's Air Force (WAFs--with a lower case s) when it finally became possible to do so.

Originally, the WAFs were limited to 4,000 enlisted women and 300 female officers, all of whom were encouraged to fill a variety of ground duty roles--mostly clerical and medical--but were not to be trained as pilots, even though the USAAC had graduated the first class of female pilots in April 1943, during wartime.

In 1976, when women were accepted into the Air Force on an equal basis with men, the WAF program ended, but not before many milestones were achieved and marked along the way in preparation for today's Air Force woman.

The WAFs in Evolution

The first WAF recruit was Sgt. Esther Blake who enlisted on July 8, 1948, in the first minute of the first day that regular Air Force duty was authorized for women. She had been a WAC, and she transferred in from Fort McPherson, Ga.

The first recruits reported to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in 1948. When basic training was desegregated in the Air Force the following year, many African-American women recruits joined, even though the integration of quarters and mess had not yet been achieved.

At first, WAFs wore men's uniforms with neckties. It was "a look" that didn't last long, and winter uniforms for WAFs were modeled after flight attendants' uniforms, using the same material as the men's winter uniforms.

The necktie was abandoned early on, and was replaced with tabs on the collar. The summer uniform--a two-piece dress made of cotton-cord seersucker--didn't fare as well. Ill-fitting, it required frequent ironing. It would be years before a suitable women's uniform would be achieved.

Milestones Along the Way

In its 10-year lifespan, from 1951 to 1961, the 543rd Air Force Band (WAF) was served by 235 women musicians, with approximately 50 members at any one time. This band, the WAF Band as it was known, along with the all-male Air Force Band, served as ambassadors of the Air Force simultaneously.

The WAF band marched in both of President Eisenhower's inaugural parades, and they played for President Kennedy's inauguration, among other concert engagements throughout the nation. The band was deactivated in 1961. Some say that it was a victim of its own success.

It was during this same time period--1956--that a WAF section was introduced into the college-level Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program, and by 1959 four universities were running ROTC WAF sections. By 1970, they had achieved a national presence.

Concurrent with the expansion of the ROTC women's cadet program, Congress passed Public Law 90-130 in 1967, lifting grade restrictions and strength limitations on women in the military.

And with the end of Selective Service (the "draft") in 1973, recruiting practices changed. Shortly afterwards--1976--the separate status of WAF was abolished, and women entered pilot training as military personnel for the first time. (The WASPS and WAFS of World War II had come in to service as civilians with pilots' licenses.) Our country's bicentennial year also saw women entering the service academies, which had not been opened to them prior to President Ford's administration.

By 1993, women were receiving fighter pilot training, and Lt. Gen. Susan J. Helms (then Maj. Helms), member of the first class of the U. S. Air Force Academy to graduate women, was also the first American military woman in space as part of the Space Shuttle Endeavor team.

Coming, full circle, the final chapter for the WAFS and WASPS of World War II was achieved in 1977, when President Jimmy Carter awarded them full status as veterans, complete with benefits. A fitting epilogue was added in 2010 with the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal. Today, there are approximately 300 of the original women air force pilots still living.

By the Numbers

The milestones cited above are just that--the highlights of women in service to their country. Each day, women in the Air Force distinguish themselves and honor those who have gone before them by doing the jobs that matter to us all--performing in professional, administrative, technical and clerical positions.

Women make up 19 percent of all Air Force military personnel and 30.5 percent of all civilian personnel. Of the female officers, 55 percent of the female officers are line officers, and 45 percent are non-line. Of the 328,423 active duty personnel, 62,316 are women, with 712 female pilots, 259 navigators and 183 air battle managers.

Patriot Sands teams Reserve Airmen with federal agencies for contingency exercise

by Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe
439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


3/1/2013 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- A joint response exercise here brought Air Force and federal agencies together for a national contingency exercise, Feb. 21-23.

Patriot Sands 2013 brought Reserve Airmen and federal government agencies together to learn first-hand what they would experience in the event of a national contingency. By the end of the three-day exercise, the combined team of Airmen and federal employees generated 12 airlift missions, moved nearly 200 passengers and airlifted 1,560 tons of cargo. A contingency response element from the 439th Airlift Wing, Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass., led the effort.

"This revalidated the FBI's and FEMA's abilities to respond to contingencies with our people and aircraft," said Lt. Col. Rodney Furr, the operations officer for the exercise.

Shortly after the contingency response operations got under way Feb. 22, C-17 Globemasters from Dover Air Force Base, Del., and Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, shuttled FEMA and FBI assets from Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla. The reserve's 512th Airlift Control Flight was the lead unit at the base.

FBI and FEMA employees drove trucks and trailers from the C-17 Globemasters and onto a Westover ARB C-5 Galaxy for familiarization training in a simulated emergency response. The C-5 Galaxy, flown in with the Westover ARB contingency response element and more than 70,000 pounds of cargo, was also used for static loading.

More than 30 Patriot Wing Airmen formed a contingency response element team. Six additional Airmen from the Air Force Reserve's 433rd Airlift Wing, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, also took part.

"This is a great training opportunity for the young troops," said Master Sgt. Careyann Patterson, the 58th Aerial Port Squadron air transportation craftsman.

Senior Airman Maryellen Santiago, an air transportation specialist with the 58th APS, joined the unit just eight months ago. She volunteered after learning her unit needed an exercise position filled.

"This was first-hand exposure to what it would be like to be deployed," Santiago said. "I feel good that I'm trusted to operate machinery around aircraft -- each worth millions of dollars. This made me get really focused on the detail of our operations."

Santiago and the team of aerial port Airmen waited near the flightline for each arrival, climbing aboard the aircraft to assist loadmasters in securing the trucks and trailers driven onto the C-17 Globemasters by FEMA and FBI employees. The FEMA and FBI set up a short-term deployment site at MacDill AFB before returning to Homestead ARB.

In addition to processing cargo and passengers, CRE Airmen showed FEMA and FBI teams how to secure vehicles aboard the C-17 Globemasters.

"I showed a woman from the FBI how to tie down a truck," Santiago said. "A while later she said she'd been able to do it herself with another one."

Senior Master Sgt. Desmond Mullally, the ALCF superintendent, said one of the most important objectives of Patriot Sands was to give the junior enlisted a chance to get valuable training.

An example of that training was when Senior Airman Elizabeth Antunez, a ALCF personnel specialist, wielded a pair of marshaling wands -- for the first time. A few hundred feet away, a C-17 Globemaster crew awaited her direction.

"I felt like a tiny person next to that huge airplane," she said. "But in terms of responsibility and control, I felt big."

Chairman Commits to ‘Lead Through’ Budget Crisis


By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 2, 2013 – In a video message to service members yesterday, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff committed to leading through the effects of sequestration and encouraged dialogue about its impact.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said the military must continue to protect the nation, preserve defense readiness and ensure troops -- especially those in harm’s way -- are well-trained, well-led and well-equipped.

“We’re going to have to stretch our readiness dollars,” Dempsey said, “and that means part of the force will be advantaged and part will be disadvantaged.”

Still, he said, leaders including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the service chiefs are well aware of the turbulence the fiscal crisis is causing.

“We are committed to leading through that … and we’re going to do it with your help,” Dempsey told service members. “We understand the difficult position we’re going to place you in; we understand the hardships you may have to suffer [and] we understand the uncertainty and the anxiety that that can bring.”
Dempsey acknowledged not knowing how long the fiscal uncertainty will last; noting elected officials may exercise their options over the next few weeks or months.

In the meantime, he said, he’d like to hear what is on the minds of service members.

“Stay in touch … tell us the effect of the decisions we’re making,” Dempsey said. “I admire you a great deal for what you’ve done in the past, for what you’re doing now and what we’re going to ask you to do in the future.”

AF first female fighter pilot continues to break stereotypes

by Randy Roughton
Air Force News Service


3/1/2013 - FORT MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- After Col. Jeannie Leavitt finished pilot training at the top of her class in 1992, she was given her first choice of aircraft, with a few restrictions. Her first choice, the F-15 Strike Eagle, wasn't yet an option for female pilots.

"I was told you finished No. 1, but you cannot pick a fighter," Leavitt said. "You cannot pick a bomber. You cannot pick a special ops aircraft. There was a whole list of aircraft I couldn't fly, and I was directed to choose among the other aircraft."

Fortunately for Leavitt and all female Airmen with similar aspirations, the following year then-Defense Department Secretary Les Aspin ordered all service branches to drop restrictions on women flying combat missions. Leavitt became the Air Force's first female fighter pilot and later the service's first woman to graduate from the Air Force Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Almost two decades later, she's been the nation's first female fighter wing commander since she assumed command of the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., in 2012.

While she recognizes her place in Air Force history, Leavitt prefers emphasizing her role as an officer and commander. When she learned she would be flying the F-15 while she was in the middle of T-38 Talon pilot instructor training at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, Leavitt didn't care about publicity or the chance to make history. She just wanted to fly in fighters.

"When we first discussed it, the individual from headquarters I was talking to mentioned there would be a lot of publicity since I would be the first (woman)," she said. "What I told him was I didn't want the publicity, but I really want to fly fighters. The thing was, I wanted to be a fighter pilot. It was part of who I was and what I wanted to do. The notoriety and publicity wasn't what I wanted, but it came due to the timing."

Not everyone was happy about the defense secretary's decision, and Leavitt had to prove herself to those who questioned her abilities because of her gender.

"A lot of times people were resistant because it was change, and a lot of times people don't like change," she said. "Some people weren't in favor of the change that happened and didn't want women flying fighters. In many cases when I'd show up, once they saw I was competent, and I was a skilled pilot, and I wasn't trying to change their whole world, they became much more accepting of me."

Leavitt flew more than 2,500 hours in the F-15, including 300 combat hours, mostly in Afghanistan and Iraq. Maj. Gen. Lawrence L. Wells, 9th Air Force commander, flew the F-16 Fighting Falcon as an operations officer with Leavitt during Operation Southern Watch in 1996.

He recalls surprise when he first saw her at a mass pre-mission briefing because he didn't know any women were deployed in the area of responsibility at that time. But the surprise soon turned into admiration as he observed Leavitt, especially during a mission supporting a Royal Air Force Tornado GR1 during a threat of an Iraqi Roland surface-to-air missile. He could sense her professionalism and skill as he listened to tapes of her radio calls during the de-briefing after the mission.

"I remember thinking how cool and calm she sounded during the entire time," Wells said. "It was all just a very professional, well-run response to a potential threat, and I remember thinking at that time, 'This female fighter pilot is going to go far in our Air Force.'"

He also described the young F-15 pilot as "a great wingman," a trait he thinks will serve her well as a commander.

"We value in our young officers the ability to be in the right place at the right time," Wells said. "That's what a real wingman does. At the time, she was a great wingman, which in my view, makes her a better leader. Because you really have to know how to follow before you can lead. You have to understand what Airmen are thinking and how your Airmen are dealing with issues and what your young Airmen are focused on. Now having been a great wingman, she can be a great commander."

When Wells introduced Leavitt at her change of command ceremony at Seymour Johnson AFB in June, he chose his words carefully. Despite the historical significance of her career, Leavitt prefers recognition as an Air Force officer and commander. Wells chose remarks that would strike the same tone.

"I had some very specific things I wanted to say about her, and how I had seen her, not only in combat during Southern Watch, but also from kind of following her career," Wells said. "What I did not want to do in my speech was to highlight the fact that she was the first female commander. I was very sensitive to say the Air Force actually picked the right person to be in the right job at the right time, which I think speaks more for her as a professional Air Force officer, who, oh, by the way, just happens to be a female."

Leavitt now commands one of only three Air Force units with the Strike Eagle, along with 5,000 active-duty members and 12,000 civilians. Looking back on the progress women have made in her 20 years in the Air Force, the biggest difference she's seen is women in fighter squadrons are no longer unusual as she was in 1993.

"One thing that's changed is women are no longer a novelty," Leavitt said. "When I started flying fighters in 1993, there were no other women. So there were no female instructor pilots, no flight commanders and no squadron commanders. So it was quite a novelty to have a female in the fighter squadron. The good news is this opportunity opened up, and quite a few women followed in my path."

Women play huge role in World War II aviation efforts

by Martha Lockwood
Air Force News Service


3/2/2013 - FORT MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- The Air Force's acceptance of women into the force dates back to long before the first "Women's History Week" celebration in 1978.

In 1942, the U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) took the unheard-of step of forming and employing two women's aviation units. That same year, a unit of flight nurses who had not yet quite finished their training, were sent into North Africa on Christmas Day following the Allied invasion in November of that year.

And the history of women--civilian and military--was forever changed.

WASPS, WAFS and a Willingness to Serve

Originally, the idea of using women pilots was first suggested in 1930, but was considered "unfeasible," according to information maintained at the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

Then, in mid-1942, an increased need for World War II combat pilots, favored the use of experienced women pilots to fly aircraft on non-combat missions.

Two women's aviation units--The Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS--with a capital S) and the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) were formed to ease this need. More than 1,000 women participated in these programs as civilians attached to the USAAC, flying 60 million miles of non-combat military missions.

These two units were merged into a single group, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program in August 1943, and broke ground for U.S. Air Force female pilots who would follow in their footsteps decades later.

Of the more than 25,000 women who applied for pilot training under the WASP program, 1,830 were accepted, 1,074 were graduated, and 916 (including 16 former WAFS) remained when the program was disbanded in December 1944. WASP assignments were diverse--as flight training instructors, glider tow pilots, towing targets for air-to-air and anti-aircraft gunnery practice, engineering test flying, ferrying aircraft, and other duties.

Although WASPs had the privileges of officers, they were never formally adopted into the USAAC. In November 1977--33 years after the WASPs program was disbanded--President Carter signed a bill granting World War II veterans' status to former WASPs.

Winged Angels

It was a slightly different story for flight nurses who were members of the military from the beginning. As it was with so many advances and innovations resulting from World War II, the USAAC radically changed military medical care, and the development of air evacuation and the training of flight nurses were advanced to meet this need.

After the invasion of North Africa in November 1942, the need for flight nurses exceeded the supply, and women who had not yet finished their training were called into action and sent to North Africa on Christmas Day. Finally, in February 1943, the first class of Army Nurse Corps flight nurses graduated.

Unlike their stateside-stationed counterparts in the WASPs, flight nurses (nicknamed "Winged Angels") in the Army Nurse Corps served in combat. They were especially vulnerable to enemy attacks because aircraft used for evacuation could not display their non-combat status.

These same aircraft were also used to transport military supplies. In anticipation and preparation for almost any emergency, flight nurses were required to learn crash procedures, receive survival training, and know the effects of high altitude on a vast array of pathologies.

Of the nearly 1.2 million patients air evacuated throughout the war, only 46 died en route. About 500 USAAC nurses (only 17 died in combat) served as members of 31 medical air evacuation transport squadrons throughout the world.

When President Harry Truman signed The National Security Act of 1947, creating the Department of Defense, the U. S. Air Force became a separate military service. At the time, a number of Women's Army Corps (WACs) members continued serving in the Army but performed Air Force duties.

The following year, some WACs chose to transfer to the Women's Air Force (WAFs--with a lower case s) when it finally became possible to do so.

Originally, the WAFs were limited to 4,000 enlisted women and 300 female officers, all of whom were encouraged to fill a variety of ground duty roles--mostly clerical and medical--but were not to be trained as pilots, even though the USAAC had graduated the first class of female pilots in April 1943, during wartime.

In 1976, when women were accepted into the Air Force on an equal basis with men, the WAF program ended, but not before many milestones were achieved and marked along the way in preparation for today's Air Force woman.

The WAFs in Evolution

The first WAF recruit was Sgt. Esther Blake who enlisted on July 8, 1948, in the first minute of the first day that regular Air Force duty was authorized for women. She had been a WAC, and she transferred in from Fort McPherson, Ga.

The first recruits reported to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in 1948. When basic training was desegregated in the Air Force the following year, many African-American women recruits joined, even though the integration of quarters and mess had not yet been achieved.

At first, WAFs wore men's uniforms with neckties. It was "a look" that didn't last long, and winter uniforms for WAFs were modeled after flight attendants' uniforms, using the same material as the men's winter uniforms.

The necktie was abandoned early on, and was replaced with tabs on the collar. The summer uniform--a two-piece dress made of cotton-cord seersucker--didn't fare as well. Ill-fitting, it required frequent ironing. It would be years before a suitable women's uniform would be achieved.

Milestones Along the Way

In its 10-year lifespan, from 1951 to 1961, the 543rd Air Force Band (WAF) was served by 235 women musicians, with approximately 50 members at any one time. This band, the WAF Band as it was known, along with the all-male Air Force Band, served as ambassadors of the Air Force simultaneously.

The WAF band marched in both of President Eisenhower's inaugural parades, and they played for President Kennedy's inauguration, among other concert engagements throughout the nation. The band was deactivated in 1961. Some say that it was a victim of its own success.

It was during this same time period--1956--that a WAF section was introduced into the college-level Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program, and by 1959 four universities were running ROTC WAF sections. By 1970, they had achieved a national presence.

Concurrent with the expansion of the ROTC women's cadet program, Congress passed Public Law 90-130 in 1967, lifting grade restrictions and strength limitations on women in the military.

And with the end of Selective Service (the "draft") in 1973, recruiting practices changed. Shortly afterwards--1976--the separate status of WAF was abolished, and women entered pilot training as military personnel for the first time. (The WASPS and WAFS of World War II had come in to service as civilians with pilots' licenses.) Our country's bicentennial year also saw women entering the service academies, which had not been opened to them prior to President Ford's administration.

By 1993, women were receiving fighter pilot training, and Lt. Gen. Susan J. Helms (then Maj. Helms), member of the first class of the U. S. Air Force Academy to graduate women, was also the first American military woman in space as part of the Space Shuttle Endeavor team.

Coming, full circle, the final chapter for the WAFS and WASPS of World War II was achieved in 1977, when President Jimmy Carter awarded them full status as veterans, complete with benefits. A fitting epilogue was added in 2010 with the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal. Today, there are approximately 300 of the original women air force pilots still living.

By the Numbers

The milestones cited above are just that--the highlights of women in service to their country. Each day, women in the Air Force distinguish themselves and honor those who have gone before them by doing the jobs that matter to us all--performing in professional, administrative, technical and clerical positions.

Women make up 19 percent of all Air Force military personnel and 30.5 percent of all civilian personnel. Of the female officers, 55 percent of the female officers are line officers, and 45 percent are non-line. Of the 328,423 active duty personnel, 62,316 are women, with 712 female pilots, 259 navigators and 183 air battle managers.

Women's History Month

Today, Women's History Month awareness for all the armed services is initiated by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute headquartered at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.. Among the tools and initiatives for observing this month-long celebration of the role women have played throughout history, the Institute is making available a free download of this year's Women's National History Project poster, "Women's Education--Women's Empowerment."

Empowerment of women has strengthened the services. Starting with the WASPS and WAFS of World War II, through the WAFs of the '50s and '60s, through the acceptance and promotion of women at the service academies, each generation of women and their evolved sense of service to their country, has prepared the future for generations of women seeking unlimited opportunity.

Ellsworth Airman recognized as 400,000th CCAF graduate

by Airman 1st Class Hrair H. Palyan
28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


3/1/2013 - ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D.  -- The Community College of the Air Force presented its 400,000th degree to an Airman from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., during the Air Force Association Central Florida Chapter's gala in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 21.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley presented Senior Airman Emily Barchenger, 37th Bomb Squadron intelligence analyst, her diploma on behalf of the college during the event.

Barchenger, who attended the banquet with her father, a Navy veteran, said meeting the top leaders of the Air Force was a great honor.

"It was an amazing and humbling experience," said Barchenger, who heralds from Salem, Wis. "I enjoyed being there with my dad and meeting our leaders."

Barchenger completed the credits to obtain her Associate of Science in Intelligence Studies and Technology while deployed with the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia.

"We just finished our rotation in Southwest Asia," explained Barchenger. "Even though it wasn't my first deployment, it got stressful at times. During this deployment, I completed five classes toward my Bachelor of Science in Registered Nursing. Of course, I was also working nine-hour shifts - making sure aircrew were up-to-date with training, and dealing with events happening on or near our base."

She explained that one of her primary goals since she joined the Air Force October 2007, was to utilize tuition assistance to pay for her college education. She began work on her CCAF degree shortly after enlisting in the Air Force and completed approximately 50 credit hours in two and one half years.

"I think we're lucky that we can further our education at little to no cost," added Barchenger. "I encourage everyone to earn their CCAF. It can be very valuable even if you decide not to stay in the Air Force."

First Lt. Darren Wittkamper, 37th BS intelligence chief, said he has worked alongside Barchenger for more than 19 months. During that time, he's witnessed the hard work she puts in at work, her volunteer work in the community and her commitment to improving herself.

"She is a dedicated person," said Wittkamper. "It's a rewarding feeling to know that we have people like her working in our unit and in the Air Force."

Army to Make Force Structure Changes in Europe


American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 1, 2013 – Germany-based elements of the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team will relocate within Germany and to Italy this summer, according to a Defense Department news release issued today.

A total of four battalions will be relocated. Two battalions will relocate from Germany to Italy; the brigade’s headquarters battalion and one infantry battalion will relocate to Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy, and to the Army’s new facility in Del Din [formerly known as Dal Molin] in Vicenza. The other two battalions will relocate from Schweinfurt and Bamberg, Germany, to Grafenwoehr, Germany.

In addition to the previously announced inactivation of V Corps Headquarters and the 170th and 172nd Infantry Brigades, the disposition of 2,500 enabling forces are provided in the attached DOD news release.

Information on the disposition of other units in the closing U.S. military communities of Bamberg and Schweinfurt will be provided in the near future, as those force structure actions are determined.
These actions are part of DOD’s ongoing restructure of resources worldwide in line with the national defense strategy and in support of combatant commanders, NATO and our European allies.