Military News

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nellis accepts delivery of F-35 with ceremony

by Master Sgt. Kelley J. Stewart
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


3/20/2013 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.  -- In the Thunderbird Hangar filled to capacity, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Lofgren, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center commander, formally accepted delivery of three F-35A Lightning IIs March 19.

The aircraft will be assigned to the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron where they will undergo operational testing.

During the ceremony, the general focused on the importance of the F-35 program to the Air Force and the USAF Warfare Center by tying the aircrafts' arrival to the center's three priorities.

The first priority of the warfare center is developing capabilities and leaders who can fight in a contested environment. One of the focus areas for the 422nd TES will be operational testing to develop tactics for the aircraft and pilots.

"What lies ahead for the 422nd TES and the 53rd Test and Evaluation Group is no small task," said Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. "You will forge the F-35 into the fighter of the future and test it to the limits."

Carvalho went on to say the group's and squadron's pilots and maintainers "would take the F-35's performance to new heights and define the very tactics the F-35 will one day use to defend freedom around the world."

Lofgren expects to see the same dramatic new tactics development with the F-35A as was seen with the F-22.

"The aircraft has so much more capability than our current aircraft," he said. "It will be exciting to see our experts develop innovative new ways to use the F-35 that have not been thought of yet."

The second priority of the warfare center is integrating the capabilities of air, space and cyberspace to achieve greater warfighting effect in the battlespace.

"Integration of the F-35's incredible sensors, and its ability to operate anywhere in the battlespace, will make the whole of all our forces more survivable and lethal," Lofgren said.

Using the F-35A in tandem with the F-22 Raptor increases this lethality.

According to Gen. Mike Hostage III, Air Combat Command commander, the Air Force needs the fifth generation of capability it's leveraging with the F-35A and F-22.

"No amount of fourth-generation capability is going to be able to survive in the environment that will be presented by our adversaries in the next decade without a fifth-generation capability to open up the way, to basically beat down the threat," he said. "Having the F-35s at Nellis brings the test and evaluation of the aircraft closer to operational conditions. I can't think of a better place to take the F-35 through the steps needed to reach initial operating capability for our Air Force."

The final warfare center's priority is to use the triad of live flying, virtual or simulator flying, and the constructive or synthetic threats and battlespace to test and develop tactics and conduct advanced training of future leaders using the F-35A.

This final priority is driven by the fact the aircraft's capabilities are so advanced that "we cannot develop our warfighting edge with live flying alone," Lofgren said.

A simulator complex to test and develop tactics and to conduct advanced training is being built at Nellis AFB and will provide F-35A pilots with realistic threat scenarios they could face in real-world combat.

The F-35A will be doing its live-flying training over the Nevada Test and Training Range.

"The F-35, with its advanced electronic warfare and integrated avionics, is able to locate and identify real and fake targets and jam with unmatched precision which will present a challenge for the NTTR to replicate the threat," Lofgren said.

Combining virtual and live training will allow the Air Force to "link and integrate current and future combat systems," the general said.

The F-35A Lightning II blends the capabilities of seven legacy aircraft into one. As a stealth aircraft, it can enter areas without being seen by radar and this capability will also allow the pilot to see other aircraft first. The F-35 can also penetrate deeper into enemy territory allowing it to find and destroy ground targets while evading hostile surface-to-air weapons.

"Not only is it deadly in the air, it is easy to work on and sustain," he said. "Great improvements have been made in sustaining this aircraft so our world-class maintainers can fix and ready the F-35 faster."

Nellis is scheduled to receive 36 F-35A Lightning IIs by 2020.

Twin Brothers Join Army National Guard


By Jennifer Archdekin

Missouri National Guard
KANSAS CITY, Mo., March 20, 2013 – All of their lives, Taylor and Tyler Adair, twin brothers, have made a conscious effort to be different. All of that is beginning to change.


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While drilling at the Kansas City armory with the Missouri Army National Guard, Pvts. Taylor and Tyler Adair receive guidance from their recruiter, Army Sgt. 1st Class Lawrence Rucker. The twin brothers will attend basic training together this summer at Fort Jackson, S.C. Missouri National Guard photo by Jennifer Archdekin
  

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Recently the brothers, who look nearly identical but are fraternal twins, now share a common bond and will resemble each other even more so from their combat boots to the name on the their uniform. The juniors from Southwest High School here recently joined the Missouri Army National Guard.

“I thought it was a good opportunity,” Tyler said. “It sounded like a good deal. Two days, pay, benefits -- it was all there. That, added on to the enjoyment of it -- it was a no-brainer for me.”

Tyler takes the credit for being the first to have the idea of joining the military, which somewhat negated the brothers’ plan to stay out of each other’s way.

“I accidentally talked him into it,” Tyler said. “I was trying to gloat about my decision and I ended up talking him into it. I didn’t think he would actually join.”

Taylor, the older brother by seven minutes, said it is common for people to lump the two together and consider them as the same individual.

“I was already thinking about joining but we try our best not to get into each other’s way,” Taylor said. “For instance I was in debate so he didn’t try to be in debate. This is the first time that, wow, I actually joined the same thing as him.”

Though they strive to be different in all things, there will be a lot of similarities between the brothers, at least initially.

Both soldiers leave in May, one day apart, for basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and both will later train to be unit supply specialists though they will ultimately drill with different units in different cities.

Taylor will serve with Detachment 1, Headquarters Company, 35th Infantry Division in Lexington. Tyler will be with Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 1-138th Infantry Regiment in Kansas City.

It’s possible the brothers may be in the same unit during basic training, but they are not sure how that will pan out.

“They may actually put us together,” Taylor said. “We’re not sure.”

“A lot of people like to get a laugh by putting us together and comparing us to each other,” Tyler said. “So, I wouldn’t be surprised if we had the same room even.”

Tyler said he’s simply looking forward to the experiences he will encounter at Fort Jackson.

“I think of it as a win-win,” Tyler said. “If I bunk with Taylor then I don’t have to change my style too much, but if I bunk with someone else then I have the chance to make a new friend.”

As coincidence would have it, the Adairs also share the same military job in supply but for different reasons.
“I chose my job first because he couldn’t make up his mind,” Tyler said, jokingly. “I went with supply because I can handle guns. That is a thrill for me because I want to be a mechanic one day. I thought that’s a great idea and I can be around machinery more.”

“I went with supply because I like doing inventory,” Taylor said. “I can do inventory all day.”

With one more year of high school still to complete, the Adairs will go to basic training this summer and upon high school graduation in 2014 they will attend their advanced individual training to become supply specialists.

Both have aspirations of becoming officers and plans to attend college.

Children Need Routine Environment During Moves, Official Says

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2013 – Service members and their spouses who will travel to new duty stations this summer might face the added concern of keeping life routine for their children, the director of the Pentagon’s office of family policy and children and youth told American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel.

“Just as adults are affected by change, so are children,” Barbara Thompson said, noting that if a parent is stressed about a move, a child can sense it and also feel stressed.

Military children can go through six to nine household moves while they’re growing up, and even more in many cases, Thompson said, so their parents must be sensitive to how the disruption affects them.

“Military families with a wide range in age among their children should think of each child individually, and consider the nuances of their personalities” to help them adjust to their new homes and schools, Thompson said.

It’s important to keep children on a routine as much as possible during the transition from their existing home to the new community, Thompson said.

“It’s hard, because [military] children always are the new kids on the block,” she said. They also might start school too late to get on a team or join a group, so parents should be aware of how this would affect their children, she added.

The “Military Youth on the Move” page on the Military OneSource website is geared toward helping children make military move transitions, Thompson said. One video offered on the site is about bullying, she added.

“Because we recognize being the new kid in the school is a position of vulnerability,” Thompson said, “we want to arm our children with tools on how to speak up and be a part of the solution and not continue to see [themselves] as bullies, or another child who is being bullied. It’s a critical tool for our military children to have.”

The site is interactive, and it caters to three age groups: children from 6 to 8, “tweens,” from 9 to 12, and teenagers.

“[It] has a lot of resources so kids can learn about the new installation,” Thompson said. “It also recognizes their feelings about the changes that are happening in their lives, and gives them ideas on how they can integrate themselves in the new community.”

A discussion board on the site also allows military kids to communicate with other military kids, she said, emphasizing that parents can be sure the site is safe for their children to use.

Additionally, before children arrive at a new installation, youth sponsorship programs match them up with children at the new location, Thompson said, so the new child has someone who’s already a friend to be counted on to help with the adjustment to the new location.

But even if parents do all that they can to help their children adjust, but they still feel stressed about their new environment, numerous resources exist to help, Thompson said.

“Parents can contact Military OneSource and get telephone or face-to-face counseling,” she said. “A licensed clinician can help walk parents through how they can help their child adjust.”

Installations also offer child and youth counselors who can support children who are having a tough time adjusting.

“While relocation can be stressful, it also can be a wonderful opportunity to go to new places, see new things, meet new friends, and have an adventure,” Thompson said. “Our military children gain a wealth of information as they move from place to place, and they are open to new experiences, new cultures and new languages. It can be very rewarding.”

Barksdale Reserve unit passes critical test

307th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

3/20/2013 - BARSKDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The 307th Bomb Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command unit, is now nuclear certified following an Initial Nuclear Surety Inspection here, March 14-18.

The 343rd Bomb Squadron and 707th Maintenance Squadron, units under the 307th BW, are tasked to support the 2nd Bomb Wing's nuclear and conventional missions through the auspices of the Total Force Initiative. The 307th BW airmen underwent five days of intense inspection to certify it is qualified to perform the U.S. Air Force nuclear mission.

The inspection team, headed by Lt. Col. Hank Jenkins, team chief, presented the results of the inspection to Col. Jon Ellis, 307th BW commander, March 18.

"This certification is a testament to the dedication and professionalism of our people," said Ellis,  "This historic milestone could not have been reached without their hard work and the great support we received from the 2nd Bomb Wing."

The inspection process, which involved the Air Force Global Strike Command Inspector General's office and the Air Force Inspection Agency, examined five major areas for the 343rd BS and 707th MXS. Inspectors evaluated the management and administration, technical operations, safety, personnel reliability program and nuclear control order procedures.

The successful completion of the INSI is only the first step for the 307th BW. In June, the 2nd BW and the 307th BW will accomplish the Defense Nuclear Surety Inspection as an integrated team.

The newly nuclear certified 307th BW will also participate in Global Thunder with the 2nd BW and the 5th BW from Minot Air Force Base, N.D, in October 2013.


Commander: Northcom Increases Crisis Response Capabilities

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2013 – U.S. Northern Command is working with its partners to improve its ability to support civil authorities during disaster responses, and is now better postured to do so through a new construct that improves coordination among the forces involved, the Northcom commander told Congress today.

Pointing to the command’s role when Hurricane Sandy dealt a devastating blow to the Atlantic coast in October, Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. told the House Armed Services Committee that Northcom gained valuable insights and experience that will pay off in the future.

“Hurricane Sandy offered us a glimpse of what a complex catastrophe which spanned several states and regions could look like,” he told the panel. The challenge now, he said, is to build on lessons learned to improve the processes Northcom provides the Federal Emergency Management Agency or other designated lead federal agencies.

Jacoby called partnerships the strength of the paradigm that enables Northcom to collaborate in ensuring the homeland’s safety, security and defense.

He noted in his prepared remarks that Northcom responded to multiple requests for assistance during 2012 from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Secret Service, the FBI and other agencies along the U.S. Southwest border.

“This last year speaks to the critical nature of our strong interagency partnerships and the continued requirement to support our partners,” said Jacoby, noting contributions the Defense Department is able to provide during crises to complement those provided by state and local communities.

“DOD has capabilities that can save and sustain lives, reduce suffering, protect property, mitigate the damage to critical infrastructure and get citizens quickly and solidly onto the path of resuming their daily lives,” he said.

During the Hurricane Sandy response, Northcom helped with power restoration, dewatering, fuel distribution, transportation and public health safety.

The challenge is “not to be late to need,” Jacoby said, and recognizing that DOD assets can be useful only if they’re accessible and responsive to relief requirements. To ensure they are, he said, Northcom’s staff works closely with state and local officials to plan for disasters before they occur.

Jacoby called the so-called “dual-status construct” first authorized in the 2012 National Defense Appropriations Act a major step in improving support the military is able to provide.

The arrangement authorizes a designated National Guard flag officer to command active-duty, reserve and National Guard forces when states request federal forces during a crisis response. This, Jacoby said, provides a unified response not possible when military forces report to separate commanders.

Northcom successfully applied the construct during its response to the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs, Colo., in June and during Hurricane Sandy, in both New Jersey and New York, Jacoby reported.
“We will continue to mature the successful dual-status command construct … so that we will be ready to act swiftly and with unity of effort when the unthinkable happens and we are called,” he told the House panel.
Northcom’s core mission of defense support to civil authorities falls second in priority only to the mission of homeland defense, Jacoby said.

“Our citizens have high expectations of our ability to defend and support them here in the homeland, and rightfully so,” he said. “In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, U.S. Northcom meets those expectations by leveraging a tremendous capability and capacity of the Department of Defense to support a lead agency, such as FEMA.”

Jacoby also reported during today’s hearing that U.S. ballistic missile defenses are capable of protecting the nation against growing threats from North Korea and Iran. He emphasized, however, the need to continue improving these systems in light of “an increasingly complex and dynamic security environment.”

Responding to a question, Jacoby said he believes Iran is on the path to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile, and could feasibly begin testing that capability within the next few years.

Jacoby said he supports Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s decision to add 14 more ground-based interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska. This initiative to expand the West Coast-based missile defense system by almost 50 percent would increase defenses against both Iran and North Korea, he said.

Jacoby said he also welcomes studies about the feasibility of a third U.S. missile defense site, on the East Coast, and other efforts to increase missile-defense capabilities.

Fit to fly: Generating aircraft

by Airman 1st Class Zachary Kee
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


3/20/2013 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- When it comes to the task of generating F-16 Fighting Falcons and the first line of defense, Senior Airman Teddy Longnecker, 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit avionics technician, said the rule is simple, "don't fail". 

One of thousands of Airmen, Longnecker, was put to the challenge of participating in an Operational Readiness Exercise, March 18.

ORE evaluations assess the wing' s ability to respond to accidents, disasters, increased states of readiness and deployments in support of worldwide contingency operations. Squadrons were stressed to see how well they would react to generating aircraft and preparing personnel and cargo processing for deployment.

Maintainers were required to generate multiple aircraft in less than 24 hours. Longnecker said the job was like preparing jets for war and that the main function of a generation is to load live ammunition, called combat loads, to prepare a jet to head into battle.

Longnecker added it's also an opportunity for maintainers to show that they're on their game and assess their readiness and execution.

While overseas, it may seem exercises happen often, but what is asked of service members is ever-changing.

"There is always something new and different; and the fact that we have new Airmen coming in fresh out of training and have never done a 12-hour shift makes it a good experience," said Longnecker, who is nearing his four-year point at the job. "Exercises prepare us just in case the real thing was to happen."

Gen. Jacoby remembers MAFFS Airmen, praises National Guard contributions, dual-status commanders

by Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau


3/20/2013 - WASHINGTON -- Air National Guard members killed fighting wildfires in 2012 were remembered during U.S. Senate testimony Tuesday as U.S. Northern Command's commander praised the National Guard's contributions in his area of responsibility.

Army Gen. Charles Jacoby made a point of reminding Senate Armed Services Committee members of the sacrifice of four Citizen-Airmen who died and two who were seriously injured when a Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System equipped C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft crashed during the 2012 wildfire season.

Jacoby testified at a hearing on the posture of his command related to the nation's defense budget for fiscal year 2014, which begins Oct. 1.

"We lost some Guardsmen this year fighting fires," Jacoby reminded senators. "Brave men and women of the North Carolina Air National Guard, 145th Airlift Wing. [It] reminds us that even supporting our citizens in the homeland can be a dangerous activity. [We] really appreciate the sacrifices that those Airmen and their families made on that behalf."

Air Force Lt. Col. Paul K. Mikeal, Maj. Joseph M. McCormick, Maj. Ryan S. David and Senior Master Sgt. Robert S. Cannon died after the July 1, 2012, crash as they battled a South Dakota wildfire.

The "National Guard is a great partner across all of my mission sets ... from homeland defense, where principally Guard units fly the Noble Eagle mission in defense of our skies 24/7, [to] our missile defense, [where] the 100th Brigade mans the command-and-control facilities for our missile launch capabilities," Jacoby testified.

"In defense support to civil authorities ... every day the Guard not only meets the needs of the citizens in the states, but [is] also available to support regionally through their emergency management capabilities," he said.

Jacoby also said the use of dual-status commanders will continue.

When agreed upon by the secretary of defense and the governor of an affected state, dual-status commanders can direct both federal active duty forces and state National Guard forces in response to domestic incidents. The unity of effort is intended to foster greater cooperation among federal and state military assets during a disaster.

"We'll continue to mature the successful dual-status command construct," Jacoby said, "so that we will be ready to act swiftly and with unity of effort when the unthinkable happens and we are called."

According to Defense Department officials:

The nation's governors led the creation of this new opportunity for collaboration. Dual-status commanders ensure that state and federal military forces work together effectively when states request federal forces. Through this improved partnership, military forces are better able to avoid duplication of effort and support the needs of the incident and the American people.

The dual-status commander concept was codified in 2011, with 10 USC - 12304 as the usual and customary command and control arrangement for missions involving the simultaneous deployment of active duty, Reserve and National Guard forces in support of civilian authorities during major disasters and other emergencies.

Dempsey Honors Survivors of Those Killed on Duty

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2013 – The nation’s top military officer addressed a group of some 600 people who gathered here last night to honor the families of service members who died on active duty.

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Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sings “The Unicorn” with Gabrielle and Chris Pierson during the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors Honor Guard Gala in Washington, D.C., March 19, 2013. DOD photo by Army Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade
  

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Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivered keynote remarks as the head of a star-studded Pentagon delegation to a gala hosted by and benefiting the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS.

Dempsey said he and his wife, Deanie, “made a commitment that this is one of those organizations that, if they ask, we respond. It’s everything that’s good about the military family and the way we try to care for each other.”

Bonnie Carroll founded TAPS in 1994 to care for grieving military families after her husband, Army Brig. Gen. Tom Carroll, was killed in a military plane crash in Alaska. The not-for-profit program offers a range of resources for surviving families, including survivor seminars, Good Grief camps for children and annual retreats each year tailored to different groups of grievers: widows, widowers and significant others; parents; and siblings.

Dempsey urged those in the audience to seek out and share the stories of the surviving family members who were among them, wearing red rose corsages or boutonni√®res. The chairman shared the inscription that accompanied one fallen soldier’s photograph in a yearbook from his earlier days at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

“Andrew’s quote in ‘The Howitzer’ was actually a quote from John Fitzgerald Kennedy,” Dempsey said. “And it went like this: ‘In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink’” -- and here, the chairman cleared his throat “‘from this responsibility.’”

All survivors have stories they want to share, Dempsey said. “At some level, that’s what TAPS does, actually,” he added. “It allows the stories, the more important stories in our lives, to keep us alive, to keep memories alive, to keep the people who have gone on to serve their country and paid the ultimate price … alive, and their families.”

TAPS embodies a commitment that is common to the nation and to the armed forces, the chairman said: “That bond of trust that we owe those who we ask to put themselves in harm’s way for their country.”

The challenge for their remaining military brothers and sisters is what marks the military as a profession, Dempsey said. “Trust that we will provide the young men and women we send into harm’s way with everything that they need, and that if they don’t come back, that their families will be cared for,” he said.

The chairman challenged the roughly 60 survivors in the audience to “celebrate our stories tonight.”
“I know each of you has a story that you not only want to tell, but should tell, and we’d like to hear … the stories of the young men and women and the not-so-young men and women who have given their lives in defense of their country.”

Southcom Chief: Iran Working to Expand Influence in Latin America

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2013 – U.S. Southern Command’s top officer told Congress today that Iran is actively working to expand its presence in Latin America to cultivate allies at a time when Tehran is facing tough U.S and international sanctions for its alleged nuclear weapons program.

Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly told the House Armed Services Committee that Iran “has been very, very active over the last few years” in cultivating diplomatic and cultural ties to the region, especially by befriending Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died earlier this month.

“They’ve opened embassies, they’ve opened cultural centers,” he testified, adding that on the surface, all of this appears to be normal.

“But to what end is obviously the issue,” he told the House panel.

Kelly told lawmakers he could discuss details about what the Iranian government’s goals might be only in a closed session. He mentioned Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina as countries that have been the target of Iran’s diplomatic and economic outreach.

Despite Iran’s outreach to countries that he said have interests unfavorable to the United States, the general cast Iran’s overtures as being far from successful and described a region as largely uninterested in Tehran’s diplomatic engagement.

“The region as a whole has not been receptive to Iranian efforts,” Kelly said in his prepared testimony. But he cautioned that Iran’s allies, including Hezbollah, have established a presence in several Latin-American countries to deadly effect, recalling that Iran and Hezbollah were blamed for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that killed more than 80 people.

“Proselytizers with ties to global Islamic groups are attempting to radicalize and recruit among the Muslim communities throughout the region,” he said, adding that the United States and its partners “should be extremely concerned whenever external extremist groups or state sponsors of terrorism see the Western Hemisphere as attractive or, even worse, vulnerable.”

Kelly pointed out that Venezuelan government officials have been sanctioned for providing financial support to Hezbollah, as well as for supporting rebels in neighboring Colombia.

Kelly said China is another country far outside Latin America that wants to compete with the United States for influence in the region, and is very engaged economically, “buying commodities in a big way and also investing in port facilities.” This, he added, is all the more reason for the United States to continue working to strengthen partnerships in the region.

Grand Forks Wing commander relieved of command

from Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

3/20/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE Ill. -- The commander of the 319th Air Base Wing at Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., was relieved of command Mar. 20 due to failure to comply with physical fitness standards.

Col. Tim Bush was removed by Maj. Gen. William Bender, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center commander. Bush assumed command in July 2011.

Bush was not relieved for alleged misconduct or wrongdoing. Bender announced that Col. Christopher Mann, 319th Air Base Wing vice commander, has been appointed as interim wing commander until a replacement can assume the full-time duties of commander. Mann has been vice commander since August 2012.

As the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center commander, Bender provides administrative control for six wings and two groups within Air Mobility Command, to include the 319 ABW.

The 319 ABW is comprised of 1,500 personnel, providing base operating and direct operations support to wing personnel, three tenant units and nine geographically separated units. The wing trains, deploys and redeploys more than 1,100 Airmen in support of Air Expeditionary Force and combatant commander requirements. It also provides facilities and equipment support for the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, the 69th Reconnaissance Group and North Dakota Air National Guard's 119th Wing. Grand Forks Air Force Base also provides direct support to the 10th Space Warning Squadron Cavalier Air Force Station, N.D.

Development flight gives delayed enlistees headstart

by Tech. Sgt. Stephen J. Collier
302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


3/19/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The sounds of civilians marching in lock step, the sidestepping of recruits in the dining facility and familiar commands being barked at gaggles of stunned humans. It's official: basic military training has moved from San Antonio to the high country of Colorado.

Well, sort of.

The 302nd Airlift Wing, together with Schriever Air Force Base's 310th Space Wing, launched in December 2012 the Development and Training Flight here for new Air Force Reserve recruits to prepare them for the rigors of basic training. The flight also aims to ease the recruits, who are assigned to the Air Force Reserve's Delayed Enlistment Program, into a military lifestyle. This instruction, that takes place during the monthly Unit Training Assembly weekend, provides the recruits with the opportunity to understand the military more in-depth before shipping out for basic military training at Lackland AFB, Texas, located on the outskirts of San Antonio. The new flight, according to Chief Master Sgt. Otis Jones, 302nd AW command chief, should "blue" the recruits, allowing them to be more successful at Lackland's training grounds.

"For people that go [to basic military training] for the first time it's a little bit of a shock to their system," Jones said. "This program is actually getting them ready for it. It allows them to learn some of the basics of the military up front. They learn how to listen, take directions and have a better understanding of military customs and courtesies. And we're seeing success from people going down there."

And the success of trainees is the flight's ultimate end goal. Jones explained that, on average, it costs the Air Force thousands of dollars to train a single recruit. This includes meals, pay, housing, clothing and the support personnel it takes to mold a civilian into an Airman. In the past, the AF Reserve has sent recruits to San Antonio, but for various reasons, a fraction may drop out of basic or have disqualifying issues. With the Development and Training Flight in place, units like the 302nd AW and 310th SW have been able to screen recruits under the Delayed Enlistment Program and provide them critical instruction to better succeed at basic training. Since the flight's inception, 12 trainees have gone to Lackland.

Helping to transition the trainees is Master Sgt. Elisha M. Olivas-Stewart, the single reservist on orders supporting the flight's implementation and operation. In her role as the flight's facilitator, Olivas-Stewart admitted she wished she had something like this before she went to basic training.

"I believe in this program," she said. "I know I had a long road of getting used to the Air Force Reserve way of life. There were so many times that I almost gave up and got out. I used to feel guilty, leaving my babies to accomplish drill weekends. I would have loved to be prepared mentally for what I was truly getting into so as to prepare the rest of my family."

Olivas-Stewart said the program has been a success so far, and hopes it will mimic that of the 349th Air Mobility Wing at Travis AFB, Calif. Just after that flight's start up in 2010, 10 trainees were sent to basic training. Of those trainees, according to Olivas-Stewart, more than half either completed basic military training as honor graduates or were competitive for honorary recognitions.

"From a personal standpoint, I feel like for the first time in my life, I am truly making a difference in the lives and future of the Air Force Reserve," the master sergeant said. "We all play a part in the Air Force."

First Lady Visits Fisher House Families, Wounded Warriors

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

BETHESDA, Md., March 20, 2013 – Bearing a large Easter basket brimming with cookies, First Lady Michelle Obama visited seven families of recuperating service members at Fisher House No. 4 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center here today.


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First Lady Michelle Obama chats with Deryn Allen, left, and her younger sister, Ryann Allen, during her pre-Easter visit with service members' families at Fisher House No. 4, on the campus of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md., March 20, 2013. The Fisher House Foundation donates homes built on the grounds of major U.S. military and Veterans Affairs Department medical centers to give family members home-like places to stay close to their loved ones during hospitalizations for unexpected illnesses, diseases or injuries. DOD photo by Terri Moon Cronk
  

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As part of her Joining Forces initiative -- a national movement for all sectors of society to support and honor America's service members and their families that’s co-sponsored by Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden -- today was the first lady’s second Easter celebration at one of Walter Reed’s Fisher Houses. She spent time with each family at tables decorated in the children’s Easter art.

Bo, the first family’s dog, was at her side, bringing squeals of delight from the children, who were eager to pet him.

“Bo is a sweetheart, but he's big,” Obama told the group. “Bigger than some kids realize. He's really a big baby. He can do tricks if he's paying attention.”

Though this was her second Fisher House visit herearound the Easter holiday, the first lady said, it's not her second time at a Fisher House.

“[Fisher Houses], as you all know, are just so important to families who are recuperating,” she said. “As you can see, the houses are beautiful. And all around the country, they are as beautiful, welcoming and comforting as you guys are experiencing here.”

The Fisher House Foundation donates homes built on the grounds of major U.S. military and Veterans Affairs Department medical centers. The homes give family members a comfortable place to stay close to their loved ones during hospitalizations for unexpected illnesses, diseases or injuries.

“We are so supportive of all the efforts that the Fisher Houses do, and we're grateful to the Fisher family,” the first lady said. “So, I like to come and hang out, and to bring cookies. Anybody like cookies here? I'm not sure if we have any cookie fans.”

Obama brought another surprise with her to the Easter event.

“We do this really cool thing at the White House around Easter every year,” she said. “Have you guys heard of the Easter Egg Roll? We do it in the backyard of the White House on the South Lawn, and there are thousands of people who come. We've got great entertainment, … athletes who come, … Easter bunnies, … face painting, bands playing, and lots of running right on the South Lawn. Does that sound fun?

“I brought tickets for all of you to come, … so, the Monday after Easter, you guys are invited to my house to hang out,” she said to the families who responded with enthusiastic “ooohs” and “ahhhhs.”

Obama spent about an hour greeting the families and asking the children about their Easter crafts and how they made them. She chatted with service members and military spouses under a handmade “Welcome, Mrs. Obama” sign made in crayon by the children.

Following her visit with the families at the Fisher House, the first lady visited wounded warriors hospitalized at the medical center on the Walter Reed campus.