Saturday, March 23, 2013

Historic homecoming for 317th AG

by Airman 1st Class Charles V. Rivezzo
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

3/22/2013 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- For the first time in nearly a decade, the entire 317th Airlift Group fleet is back at their home station, as Airmen and aircrew continue to make their way back to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.

In true homecoming fashion, scores of family members and friends lined the flightline waiting eagerly for their loved ones to de-board each arriving aircraft after a six-month deployment to Southwest Asia.

"It's amazing and kind of overwhelming to see all the families out here," said 1st Lt. Zacharee Arendsee, 40th Airlift Squadron, as he held his two sons Sam and Teddy for the first time in three months. "I'm just looking forward to spending time with my boys who have grown up so much since I've been gone. I just can't wait to get home."

Since Dec. 20, 2003, the 317th AG and its historic C-130 fleet have been continuously deployed in support of overseas combat operations, living up to their motto of providing "dominant air power and combat support to combatant and joint force commanders ... anytime, anywhere!"

The 317th AG is one of the most heavily-tasked units in the Air Force and one of the several remaining active-duty C-130 units. The group's mission is to save lives and sustain our nation's operations by training, mobilizing, employing C-130J combat aircraft worldwide, and providing all phases of combat delivery, including air-land, airdrop and air medical evacuation.

Additionally, the 317th AG has been a part of many key humanitarian missions, including the relief efforts for the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, and flood relief efforts in Pakistan following the epic flooding in 2010.

"This is a great day for us," said Col. Walter H. Ward, 317th AG commander. "Seeing these American flags waving and smiles on these families' faces is a sight that never gets old. It feels great to have everybody home for the first time in a very long time; we needed it to reset ourselves."

While this historic homecoming allows the 317th AG to recover from its decade long ops-tempo, the downtime will only last until September when the 39th Airlift Squadron is slated to deploy to Southwest Asia.

Currently, the 19th Airlift Wing from Little Rock AFB, Ark., is deployed to augment the 317th AG's deployment rotation.

Congress reviews reserve forces equipment needs

by Col. Bob Thompson
Air Force Reserve Public Affairs

3/20/2013 - WASHINGTON -- Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, chief of Air Force Reserve, joined other Reserve and National Guard senior leaders on Capitol Hill March 19 to testify and answer questions.

The Air Force and Army reserve component flag officers went before the House Armed Services Committee's Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee led by Chairman Michael Turner (R-Ohio) and Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.).

Jackson, who also commands Air Force Reserve Command, and the other senior leaders spoke about the need to update and replace their combat-worn equipment. They were questioned about modernization and equipping strategies, new initiatives, program changes, and potential impacts from the Budget Control Act's initial $487 billion in DOD cuts and Sequestration's additional $600 billion in cuts to defense programs.

"The majority of our Citizen Airmen serve part-time, making us a highly efficient and effective force," Jackson told the committee.

"The money from this committee is the primary way we upgrade our combat equipment and aircraft," he said. "This funding has resulted in better targeting, self protection and communication capabilities for our combat forces in Afghanistan and previously in Iraq."

The funding is called the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Appropriation.

Congress allocates this special funding separately from the President's Budget Request. The lawmakers funded the Air Force Reserve's equipment upgrades with $75 million last year and $70 million in 2011.

This year's Reserve and National Guard equipment upgrades have been disrupted by the looming Sequestration budget cuts and the lack of a fiscal 2012 defense appropriation.

"More than 20 years of sustained combat operations have taken their toll," Jackson said. "Procurement funding for the Air Force Reserve is more important than ever."

By using ideas from recently deployed Airmen and buying off-the-shelf technology, the Air Force Reserve gets new equipment that saves lives and leads to successful combat operations worldwide.

The special funding enabled Air Force Reserve Command to install the "Smart Multi-Function Color Display" in 15 of its combat search-and-rescue helicopters.

This high-tech communication upgrade gives aircrews enhanced data links, situational awareness and survivor information while airborne. The system shares critical information while the crews are en route to rescue sites, resulting in reduced mission launch times, upgraded threat awareness and reduced flight crew workload.

"In less than 20 months, 331 wounded warriors' lives were saved in Afghanistan by the quicker response times and safer evacuations," Jackson said. "This is a direct result of equipment upgrades from this outstanding program."

These equipment upgrades also enable the Air Force Reserve to better support Homeland Defense missions.

Last year, AFRC's 910th Airlift Wing at Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, replaced its unique aerial spray systems.

The wing flies the only fixed-wing aircraft in the Department of Defense with this special capability to control disease vectors, eliminate insect populations and disperse oil spills.

The unit responds to national disasters and emergencies such as the 2010 oil spill cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico.

The goal of Air Force Reserve's modernization efforts is to ensure that all combat aircraft and capabilities work interchangeably with Regular Air Force and Air National Guard counterparts. To meet future challenges, the Air Force works as a "Total Force" team and maintains readiness for combat or humanitarian relief operations worldwide.

"The Reserve Component can now be mobilized to respond to national security needs here at home," said Jackson. "Dual-use capabilities such as airlift, aeromedical evacuation and personnel recovery are equally valuable, both in-theater and for homeland support."

The top updates for the Air Force Reserve include engine fuel control systems for C-130 cargo aircraft and LITENING pods for F-16 fighter aircraft. In the past, advanced targeting pods allowed for strikes against moving targets and have been the No. 1 success story for modernizing the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard's jets.

LITENING targeting pod were a resounding success during the opening days of combat against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Air Force reservists were asked to stay in country longer than expected because they were the only units flying and maintaining F-16 fighter aircraft with this state-of-the-art avionics upgrade.

The targeting pods enhance communication during missions by connecting pilots directly with Airmen on the ground, providing a faster and more accurate response time.

U.S., Japan Move Forward With Futenma Replacement Initiative

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2013 – Japan’s government has moved forward with the submission of a landfill request permit to the Okinawa prefectural government in the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

“This is a key milestone that comes after many years of hard work between the United States and Japan,” Little said. “It marks a significant step toward realizing the vision of the 2006 Realignment Roadmap and toward achieving a sustainable U.S. military presence with less impact on the Okinawan people.”

The U.S. and Japanese governments agreed to relocate the air station, currently in Okinawa’s Ginowan City, to a more remote area of the island. The plan also would move about 8,000 Marines now based on Okinawa to Guam, in line with U.S. defense priorities in the Asia-Pacific region.

“In the April 2012 2+2 Joint Statement, the United States and Japan reconfirmed the view that the current Futenma replacement facility plan at Camp Schwab-Henoko Bay remains the only viable alternative to the continued use of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma,” Little said.

This effort, he added, is critical to the Defense Department’s ongoing rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region and its ability to maintain a well-distributed and politically sustainable force throughout Asia.
Little said that along with the relocation of Marines to Guam and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma will reduce the U.S. footprint in the most populated part of Okinawa. It will also enable the return of significant land south of Kadena Air Base while sustaining U.S. military capabilities vital to the peace and security of the region, he added.

“We will be working with the Japanese government to jointly release these plans for land returns soon,” Little said. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Japanese government on these issues and to moving ahead with the relocation of Marines to Guam.”

Red Flag 13-3 puts 55th ECG to the test

by Senior Airman Timothy Moore
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

3/22/2013 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Airmen from the 55th Electronic Combat Group from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., participated in Red Flag 13-3 at Nellis AFB, Nev., Feb. 25 - March 15.

Red Flag 13-3 was a three-week joint and coalition exercise in which aircrews from all branches of the U.S. military, as well as several foreign militaries' air forces, train and maintain their combat readiness in a peacetime "battlefield."

Operating two EC-130H Compass Calls, the 55th ECG played a unique role in the exercise flying on both the blue-air (friendly) and red-air (enemy) side of the exercise.

On the blue-air side, the crews from the 55th ECG practiced their combat roles: mission planning, integrating with other friendly weapons and jamming systems, striking targets in the enemy battle space and defending friendly assets.

On the red-air side, they acted as enemy communication jammers in accordance with Air Combat Command's idea of contested, degraded operations, providing training friendly forces do not usually receive.

"In reality, the enemy always has a say in the outcome of a conflict," said Lt. Col. Chris Kirschman, 55th ECG deputy commander and deployed commander for the exercise. "In the past, many non-kinetic effects, such as radar and communication jamming, have not been incorporated into large force exercises. A major objective for this Red Flag was to provide our forces with a contested and degraded operational environment."

As the opposition, the 55th ECG took away capabilities from blue-side forces, compelling them to react and operate at a reduced capacity.

Ninety-four Airmen from the 55th ECG went to the Red Flag 13-3. Nine of those Airmen were recognized as superior performers.

"Our maintenance troops were especially effective," Kirschman said. "They had better than a 92-percent mission capable rate of getting us in the air, which is well of above the standard."

Kirschman said that the pace at which they worked was equivalent to being in a deployed location, and all the troops were very flexible and hit the ground running to complete a mission that they have not focused on in a while.

Due to continuous deployment orders, the 55th ECG has only been able to participate in three Red Flag exercises since 2002.

"Red Flag has given us an opportunity to get back to focusing on our traditional mission set," Kirschman said. "For the last 12 years, with the exception of just a few months, we've been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan performing counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism missions. This exercise has been a great chance to get back to basics and execute our primary mission."

Grand Forks Airman named 2012 USAF Expeditionary Center Honor Guard Member of the Year

by Staff Sgt. Luis Loza Gutierrez
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

3/21/2013 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- One Warrior of the North was recently named as the best ceremonial guardsman for the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center.

Staff Sgt. Alexandra Crawley, Grand Forks AFB Honor Guard NCO in charge, was selected as the 2012 U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Honor Guard Member of the Year. The news of her selection was delivered by an unexpected source.

She said she hadn't given the award much thought because she was busy preparing for a visit by Maj. Gen. William Bender, Expeditionary Center commander.

Crawley said that Bender coined all the other Honor Guard team members, but skipped her and Tech. Sgt. Stephanie Rose, Honor Guard program manager. The general explained that he would come back to them later, Crawley said.

Finally, the two-star asked her to step forward, and in front of her fellow team members and a number of base senior leaders, announced her award and said she's now competing at the Air Mobility Command-level.

"I have to be honest, my face got extremely red, and my mouth dropped open in disbelief," exclaimed the Cleveland native. "I never in a million years thought that they would choose me."

Although Crawley is humble about her accomplishment, Rose, her supervisor, strongly believed she had all the qualities necessary to earn such a prestigious award.

"Crawley started base Honor Guard as a senior airman less than eight months ago and was later promoted to staff sergeant near the end of her team's rotation, so I got to witness first-hand her growth into a phenomenal leader," said Rose.

"During that time, she consistently went above and beyond in all aspects of what it means to be a ceremonial guardsman, and an Airman in today's Air Force. Our philosophy in Honor Guard is, 'It's not about us, it's about everyone else,' so I knew she would be humbled by the recognition," Rose said. "She has earned every bit of the recognition, and I was proud and honored to submit her for the award. She deserves the credit and I was confident about her chances of being selected."

Aside from her outstanding Honor Guard performance, the 5-year Air Force veteran has been lauded for promoting physical fitness and professional development by taking part in marathons, 5K runs and attending college classes.

She's also found time to volunteer at the rehabilitation center at a local hospital and currently supports the Honor Guard's continual charitable program, Blessings in a Backpack, which helps fight child hunger by delivering healthy food to underprivileged students.

"When an opportunity comes along I just take it because I know it will help someone later down the road, and it provides a wonderful experience knowing I helped make a positive difference," said the graduate of James Ford Rhodes High School.

Although Crawley's selection is considered an individual award, the 25-year-old was quick to recognize several people for helping her obtain the recent accomplishment.

"When I was deployed, there was Master Sgt. Jeff Martin, who mentored me and to this day I still go to him for advice," said Crawley. "He keeps things positive for me even when I can't see the light and he is someone I definitely couldn't have gotten this far in my career without."

She also expressed her appreciation for the 319th Mission Support Group commander, Col. Joe Lindsey, who she said gave her a second chance in her military career. She also showed her appreciation for fellow Honor Guard NCO and teammate, Tech. Sgt. Rose.

"She's dedicated time to me and she is always there when I need her," she said.

The biggest thanks appeared to be reserved for her husband, Senior Airman Benjamin Crawley, who is currently deployed.

"Ben was super excited (about the good news)," she said. "He is my everything, my rock and I really wish he could be here to celebrate this huge accomplishment."

Airmen, Japanese remember the past, honor the present

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

3/21/2013 - GUNMAN PREFERENCE, Japan -- Airmen from Yokota Air Base, Japan, joined local Japanese citizens March 20, 2013, in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, to remember American B-29 flight crews who lost their lives during a World War II raid over the city and unveil a memorial monument in their honor.

Since 1971, Yokota members have traveled to prefectures throughout the area to participate in annual ceremonies honoring fallen B-29s aircrew members. This year marked the first in Gunma.

The monument dedication reminded both countries of the past, while strengthening their partnership bond in the future. The words inscribed on the monument read, "We wish to commemorate the 23 brave souls and offer a wish for world peace and friendship between Japan and America."

"I'm glad I had the opportunity to be a representative for those families remembering their loved ones who lost their lives for their country," said Lt. Col. Mark Allen, the 459th Airlift Squadron commander. "Many young Japanese and Americans sacrificed their lives during World War II, but the sacrifice they gave is now the lasting friendship between our great nations."

Feb. 10, 1945, the U.S. planned a massive air strike on Nakajima Aircraft Ota Factory to disrupt Japan's combat capabilities and destroy the factory's aircraft and buildings. The night of the operation, one of the B-29s shot by Japanese defense forces crashed into another B-29, sending both crashing into Gunma.

The 23 service members on board the aircraft died. Upon seeing the wreckage, Gunma citizens buried the bodies, showing them proper respect despite their current enemy status.
American family members and friends of some of the crew members flew across the world to join in the ceremony.

Nancy Samp, who is a family member and historian for the 505th Bomb Group (one of the units associated with the crashed B-29s) was glad to see the aircrew members remembered for their sacrifice and dedication to the nation.

"My family would be so proud to know this crew and the lives were lost are being honored in Japan so many years after the mission," she said. "My father was on the same mission, so it is very important and memorable date to me also."

She expressed the importance her family kept in remembering their father's name and honoring the past. With this, she said she was grateful to the local community and everyone involved for keeping the fallen aircrews' memories alive.

The American service members' families aren't the only ones who remember the tragic event.

One local Japanese citizen said most people in the area remember the B-29 crash and how the story was passed down and retold through the generations.

Shinyu Kizaka, the priest of the temple hosting the monument, was just 12 years old when the crash occurred and still recalls the event.

"I just remember being very frightened," he said. "Pilots are bright and honorable people, and I am sorry for all the members who died."

He said, although American and Japan were once enemies, much of Japan's post war rebuilding was due to America, which led to the honor and respect shared between the two cultures today.

Eyes On: Parachutes Get Close Attention From Flight Equipment Airmen

by By Dan Heaton
127th Wing Public Affairs

3/21/2013 - SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- A couple of words keep being repeated as two Michigan Air National Guard Airmen work around a parachute table in a long, narrow back room of the new fighter squadron building at Selfridge Air National Guard Base: every, eyes and detail .

They show up in phrases like "every detail must be perfect," "two sets of eyes on everything," and "we put eyes on every detail."

Parachutes represent the last line of defense if everything else on an aircraft has gone wrong.

"It is the very last thing that can save a pilot's life," said Master Sgt. Ed Stone, an aircrew flight equipment specialist with the 127th Operations Support Flight, which supports the A-10 Thunderbolt II at Selfridge. "Every piece of the parachute has to function properly. That's why you need multiple eyes looking at it."

As he says that, Stone finishes putting a stitch in a piece of parachute cord on the 40-foot long table and somewhat dramatically throws an excess piece of cord on the floor.

"If I throw it on the floor, I know it is not on the table, where it can get caught up in my parachute," Stone said.

This is the ACES (advanced concept ejection seat) II C-9 Canopy parachute. As the name implies, it works in conjunction with the ACES II seat, which is used on all high-performance Air Force fighter aircraft, including the A-10s stationed at Selfridge. The main C-9 parachute is actually part of a series of 4 parachutes which could deploy in a bail-out situation. The ACES II seat is equipped with several pitot tubes which, when the ejection process is initiated, determine the air speed and altitude of the aircraft and determine which of three modes to operate in, known simply as Modes 1, 2 and 3.

A small parachute, known as the drogue chute, deploys first, launched by a very small explosive charge. The drogue chute then pulls out the main parachute. Drogue and main chutes exist for both the pilot and the ejection seat itself. How long the pilot remains attached to the seat after ejection and the time between each parachute deploying depends on the mode the system is operating in, due to speed and altitude.

No matter the mode, everything happens very quickly in the ejection process. Depending on the mode, the main C-9 canopy, which opens to a 28-foot diameter, is fully deployed somewhere between 2.5 and 4 seconds after the pilot first pulls the ejection handles.

While Stone and the other dozen or so Citizen-Airmen assigned to the aircrew flight equipment shop take care of the parachutes, maintaining the seat and the related explosive charges which rocket it out of a disabled aircraft is the responsibility of group of Airmen in the 127th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. In addition to working on parachutes, the aircrew flight equipment Airmen are responsible for maintaining pilot helmets, oxygen masks, providing rescue gear and the training to use that gear. Essentially, flight equipment Airmen ensure the pilot has all he or she needs to be ready to fly a mission and return.

The parachute on the table today is among the first being inspected and packed since the unit celebrated a ribbon-cutting ceremony in late February on their new "Ops" Building, a $6.6 million reconstructed building at Selfridge. Every parachute must be opened, inspected and repaired, as needed, on an annual basis. Various parts of the parachute assembly have different shelf lives and any parts that need replacement are exchanged during the inspection process. The main canopy has a shelf life of 13 years.

The nylon parachute has a multi-colored canopy, white, green, tan and day-glo orange. The idea is that a downed pilot could use the appropriate color to help camouflage him or herself in a snowy or other environment in a hostile area, or use the orange to help signal rescuers in a friendly area.

Typically, the parachute-packing process involves one Airman doing the initial inspection and swapping out of any needed parts and a second Airman who performs a series of IPIs, or in-process inspections, as the work is being done. On this day, Stone is being assisted by Master Sgt. Kathy Smith, who is relatively new to parachute packing. Technical Sgt. Glenn Hardy is performing the IPIs, which involves him inspecting the parachute and the work performed by Stone and Smith about a half-dozen times at key junctures in the process.

"We help the pilots be at ease when they are up in the cockpit, performing their mission," Smith said. "We take pride in our work and we don't want the pilots to have to think even for a minute about their parachute - unless they need it.

"Hopefully, they never need it, but the reality is, they might," she said. "That's why we pack every parachute we do like it is the most important one we'll ever do, because a life may depend on it."

The 127th OSF is a component of the 127th Wing. Comprised of approximately 1,600 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operations Command by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which is also home to units of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection.

Yokota partners with local community during EME

by Staff Sgt. Chad Strohmeyer
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

3/22/2013 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Yokota first responders joined North Kanto Defense Bureau liaisons as part of a joint emergency management exercise March 21, 2013. The exercise is the first of many that will partner the two organizations together for faster, more comprehensive emergency response.

In the exercise scenario, the North Kanto Defense Bureau liaisons observed how 374th Airlift Wing emergency responders would react to an on-base aircraft accident.

"It's very important to watch how different agencies work together," said Hiroki Takaoka, NKDB liaison section chief. "If an incident were to happen off base, Yokota and local Japanese responders would be able to work together efficiently."
Providing well-organized response during urgent situations is the focus.

"Our goal in working with the NKDB is to increase bilateral interoperability as it pertains to emergency response, said Maj. E. Yancey Walker, 374th Airlift Wing exercises and Inspections chief.  "By showing them, first-hand, our tactics, techniques and procedures for responding to a major aircraft accident, we took a crucial step in that direction."

According to Walker, exercises such as this are critical to keep Yokota personnel prepared and ready for real-world situations and to successfully collaborate with local emergency response teams. Seeing the exercise play out also adds an extra degree of learning for responders that they would not get from a classroom.

Yokota's Exercise and Evaluation Team and the NKDB are currently in the planning stages for a bi-lateral exercise later this year to keep inter-agency operability and maintain a strong working relationship.

"In times of crisis, we will have to work together to overcome emergency situations," said Col. Chip Brown, 374th Airlift Wing vice commander. "We hope to continue this type of training to further strengthen our friendship and bilateral capability."

Country Music Artist, Mark Chesnutt, to Headline Greater Dallas Military Ball

Singer slated to entertain military supporters next month at black-tie fundraiser 

DALLAS (March 22, 2013) –  Country music superstar Mark Chesnutt is “Goin’ Through the Big D” once again, this time as the featured live entertainment for the 2013 Greater Dallas Military Ball. Known for such hits as, “Bubba Shot the Jukebox” and “It’s a Little Too Late,” Chesnutt is a Texas native and avid military supporter. He spent much of 2010 touring with Stars for Stripes for troops stationed throughout the Middle East. 

The Greater Dallas Military Ball, held at the InterContinental Hotel in Dallas on April 20, 2013, is a black-tie affair, complete with military pageantry, live entertainment and a strong military presence that includes several high-ranking officers. Military and non-military members of the Greater Dallas and Fort Worth communities come together to salute the troops and their service to our country. Underwritten by North Texas citizens and business organizations, net proceeds from the ball are distributed to military relief agencies.
“Mark Chesnutt is a familiar face in the military community,” said Rear Admiral Jim Eckelberger, USN (Ret.) and 2013 Military Ball President. “Throughout his career, he has shown a high level of commitment to our troops and their families, and we’re honored to have him on board as our live entertainment for the evening,”
For more information or to make reservations to attend the 2013 Greater Dallas Military Ball, visit  For overnight stays, call InterContinental Hotel directly at 972-386-6000. Be sure to mention the Greater Dallas Military Ball to receive a special rate.

About The Greater Dallas Military Ball:
The Greater Dallas Military Ball is dedicated to honoring active and retired military personnel as well as members of the National Guard, Coast Guard and Reserve forces. It offers a unique opportunity for all citizens and businesses in the area to salute those who are serving, thank those who served and pay tribute to those who make the ultimate sacrifice. In all its activities the organization seeks to promote honor, awareness, and respect for the military community. For more information, visit  

Combat Hammer sharpens aim while saving dollars

by Staff Sgt. Lou Burton
482nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

3/21/2013 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Keeping accountability for dollars spent when discussing topics like freedom can be difficult to assess, but for 160 Airmen from the 482nd Fighter Wing deployed to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., they are playing a part in doing just that.

The Airmen from Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., are supporting Combat Hammer, a weapons system evaluation program used to determine the validity of munitions products and processes, March 18-22.

"The weapons system evaluation program tests the processes and equipment for building, loading, and delivering air-to-ground munitions on targets," said Maj. Mark Van Brunt, 93rd Operations Squadron Chief of Weapons.

The Air Force has been evaluating storage-to-impact of precise kinetics since 1985. The data collected from this test program gives the Air Force a better understanding on what is and is not working.

"From the information collected here, the Air Force can change products and processes to ensure we are getting the best results for our efforts," said Master Sgt. James Graham, 86th Fighter Weapon Squadron weapon system inspector.

While the actual test takes one week to commence, planning and coordination starts much earlier.

"Planning for this event started back in December," said Van Brunt. "One of our advanced teams arrived March 6 to help with the logistics of our operation."

The group of Airmen deployed encompasses a wide range of support staff from mechanical experts to munitions staff.

"Without our support staff, these jets wouldn't be getting in the air," said Lt. Col Scott Briese, 482nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, .

The deployment also highlights success of Homestead ARB's Total Force Integration.

"This is the first time an active duty unit has deployed in Air Force Reserve Command," said Briese.

Airmen of the 495th Fighter Group, Detachment 93, formerly known as 20th Operations Group, Detachment 2, assigned Homestead ARB are an active duty component utilizing the Air Reserve Base for conducting their mission.

"Our ability to have reservist, Air Reserve Technicians, and active duty Airmen here working together to accomplish the mission has been a great success," said Briese.

Mustangs augment Airmen for defend base

by Senior Airman Alexis Siekert
51st Fight Wing Public Affairs

3/21/2013 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- In times of heightened security, Airmen from all units of the 51st Fighter Wing take on an extremely important role--air base defense. There are more than 200 augmentees assigned across the wing who, whenever activated, are responsible base security.

Many of these augmentees work directly with the 51st Security Forces Squadron, while others provide protection for their specific units.

"Our augmentees are very important," said Staff Sgt. David Wessell, 51st SFS war time planning base defense NCO in charge. "They are a crucial piece of base security. Our job as security forces is hard and we can only be in so many places, so having them as our eyes and ears across Osan is a great help."

To become an augmentee, Airmen must go through a two-day qualification course which covers recognizing the enemy, using radios and tactical movements among other things. They are then required to keep their training up to date with guidance from security forces.

The augmentees perform sweeps, respond to threats and maintain security of their assigned area.

"With everyone as an air base defender working together, we can keep Osan safe," he said.

Carlsbad WAC continues to support female veterans

by Tech. Sgt. Mareshah Haynes
Air Force News Service

3/23/2013 - FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- In the 1940s, women's roles in the military were much different than they are today. Women's auxiliary units had just begun to integrate with the service branches and people were concerned about how females serving would affect the nation. One southern congressman even addressed the House saying, "Who will then do the cooking, the washing, the mending, the humble homely tasks to which every woman has devoted herself; who will nurture the children?"

Prior to World War II, women serving in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, and similar organizations, did not receive comparable benefits and compensation to their male counterparts. In 1943, the War Department created the Women's Army Corps as an official branch of the Army to help bridge those gaps.

Since then, women's roles in the military have expanded and women have been accepted as valuable and equal members of the services. But one thing has remained the same: some female veterans don't identify as being veterans.

In an interview with NBC News, John E. Pickens III, the executive director of VeteransPlus, said women veterans "are misunderstood and challenged in a number of ways. Typically, folks look at male veterans returning as warriors who we need to honor and say we need to do what we can for these warriors. Women, unfortunately, don't carry home that same mantel as a warrior. But they certainly have served beside the men and, in many cases, have done a lot of things that put themselves as risk."

Dr. Lynn Ashley, who served as a WAC in Carlsbad, N.M., encourages her fellow female veterans to stand up and be recognized for their service to their country.

Ashley, a Chicago native, joined the WAC because she wanted to do something to serve her country. Her brother was serving overseas in the war and she wanted to do her part to support him. She went to basic training in Oglethorpe, Ga., and after being trained as a clerical typist, she was one of about 45 WACs stationed at Carlsbad. She served there for two years, until the war was over and then returned to civilian life.

She went back home and got married and began having a family. Ashley said she became engrossed in family life and began thinking about her time as a WAC less and less. But After about 30 years of being out of the service, the spark in her was reignited.  She began attending national WAC conventions, but that didn't satisfy her need to support female veterans, so she and a fellow WAC reached out to the governor of their state, Ohio.

Originally, their goal was to get money from the state for the Women's Memorial in Washington. They didn't get the funds they had hoped for, but instead the governor appointed them to the Department of Veterans Services' Advisory Committee on Women Veterans.

"One of the things we did is a study on women veterans in the state of Ohio," Ashley said. "It found the same issues going on then that veterans are dealing with now - lack of recognition, lack of support, low income, finding a job, getting housing. There were women who had master's degrees who couldn't find work. That's why I've continued to support women veterans."

Through her local American Legion chapter, also she helped lobby to open up combat positions to women. This year, to Ashley's satisfaction, the Defense Department officially did just that.

Nearly 70 years after her own service in the military, Ashley continues to encourage, support and educate female veterans.

"You're not a half a Soldier, you're not a half a person," Ashley said. "You have the same rights as anyone else has, no matter what gender. You've served your country."

Austin Takes Central Command Flag From Mattis

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., March 22, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel presided over the change of command of U.S. Central Command from Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis to Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III here today.

Hagel said the transfer occurs at a time of great change in the Central Command area of responsibility. It is a time of great risk and challenges, the secretary said, and a time of great opportunities.

Mattis and Austin have a long history together, Hagel said. At the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Mattis and Austin led the first American troops to cross the berm into Iraq.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Mattis was not daunted by the task he faced as Centcom commander.

“The challenges the volatile Centcom region presents can sometimes seem almost insolvable, yet Jim looked beyond the risks and sought to understand and to consider what was possible,” Dempsey said. “Jim looked beyond the risks we’ve sought to understand to consider the possible. He looked beyond the threats that we’ve labored to confront to face down aggression in all its forms.”

Dempsey noted that on his way here, he had stopped yesterday at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, S.C.

“Even a young sergeant and staff sergeant knew I was on the way down here for the Central Command change of command,” the chairman said. “And to a man and woman, they knew the name of Jim Mattis. If you can leave the service with such an imprint on it that any young sergeant knows your name and had respect for the leadership you’ve provided, that’s a legacy I think we would all aspire to and be very proud of.”

Hagel listed Mattis’ achievements over a 40-year career. “He led Marines as a battalion commander during Operation Desert Storm back in 1991,” Hagel said. “He commanded the longest assault from the sea in modern history, leading Task Force 58 more than 400 miles inland into Afghanistan after the attacks of Sept. 11.”

During the invasion of Iraq, Mattis commanded the 1st Marine Division on the drive into Baghdad. “He again led Marines into battle during the fight for the city of Fallujah,” Hagel said.

The general also is noted for his care for Marines, the secretary said. Hagel noted that when Mattis was a brigadier general based at Quantico, Va., he took the staff duty so a young officer could spend the day at home.

That side of the general is part and parcel of the statement that “there truly is no worse enemy, and no better friend, than a United States Marine,” Hagel said.

Austin comes to the command after serving as Army vice chief of staff, and he has spent his career concerned with the developments, problems, threats and risks in the Central Command area. He commanded the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Division and 18th Airborne Corps, and was the last multinational force commander in Iraq. The general also has served as the Centcom chief of staff.

Dempsey said Austin “has done some incredibly heavy lifting for our nation over the last decade.”
“He’s returning to the Centcom family with an extraordinary breadth of experience in command and joint roles,” he added.

The chairman also praised Austin’s ability to examine situations and come up with solutions. “We’ll lean on Lloyd and his team to anchor relationships and trust across and outside the region,” he said. Dempsey added that he also will rely on the new Central Command commander to balance fiscal realities with strategies.

D.C. National Guard celebrates Joint Prayer Breakfast

by Senior Airman Jennifer Hotte
113th Wing Public Affairs

3/20/2013 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- The Army and Air National Guard came together on Mar. 17 at the 113th Wing, Andrews Air Force Base, Md., for an annual prayer breakfast.

The District of Columbia's National Guard annual prayer breakfast is an event that allows Air and Army National Guard members to gather in prayer. This year the event featured guest keynote speaker Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Alphonse Stephenson, Air National Guard Assistant to the Chief of Chaplains, United States Air Force at the Pentagon and the 257th Army Band District of Colombia Army National Guard and the Barack Dancing Ministry.

Chaplain Stephenson spoke to a crowd of more than 400 Airmen and Soldiers at the 113th Wing, on the importance of "Resilient Guard Families Supporting Mission Success." This sermon addressed how events throughout people's lives often influence where they wind up and where they belong. He discussed how his learning to play the piano in elementary school led to other events in his life that allowed him to find his love in God.

After playing a song on the piano he said, "It was graceful, it was elastic, it was resilient and one note led to the next. This is what we're about. Grace is the music of God."

Medical Technician Staff Sgt. Angel Holt attended the prayer breakfast and felt that "it was very inspirational. I enjoyed the guest speaker and thought his words were encouraging. I thought the band was awesome and [Chaplain] Capt. Cooper sounded amazing."

The service also featured prayers from several individuals focused on specific spiritual topics. The speakers and topics included, Chaplain Capt. Countess Cooper on our nation, Chaplain Candidate Edward Lartey on the military, Alicia Hinds Ward focusing on families, and Rhonda Lartey on children.

"The primary focus of the prayer breakfast was resiliency," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Myrtle Bowen. "We were striving to accentuate families that fuel us to meet our mission...we really wanted to emphasis where our support comes from."

Carter: Asian Defense Leaders Will Feel U.S. Rebalance to Region

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2013 – Asian defense leaders are eager for U.S. presence and involvement in the region and will “very palpably” feel the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said yesterday after a week of meetings there.

Carter visited Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia; participated in the Jakarta International Defense Dialogue; and in Jakarta held bilateral meetings with defense officials from Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.

“I wanted to make two main points to the audience of Asian defense leaders who are eager for U.S. presence and eager for U.S. involvement and commitment,” Carter told American Forces Press Service aboard an Air Force aircraft during his return flight.

The first is that defense leaders there will feel the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific because “it is large, it is multidimensional, [and] it is part of the political and economic rebalance that President [Barack] Obama has emphasized.”

The second point, he said, is that the rebalance is not a zero-sum game with China.

“China is a beneficiary of the U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region extending over seven decades. … China’s dynamic and unfettered opportunity to develop itself on its own terms would not have happened without the U.S. presence,” the deputy secretary said.

Carter’s trip occurred during a particularly difficult time with North Korea, as that nation hurled threats at the United States and its allies after the United Nations imposed new sanctions after a Feb. 12 North Korean nuclear test.

During his visit, the deputy secretary said he wanted North Korea to see an alliance whose capabilities continue to grow -- “a circle of allies that is being brought closer together in opposition to them, and stronger American defenses, particularly the missile defense enhancement that Secretary [Chuck] Hagel announced last week.”

“That’s what they get for their behavior,” he added.

The Chinese are seeing more concern in the international community, and more countries in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world turning to the United States in concern, Carter said. And they’re wondering why China, “a country that has more influence over North Korea than any other, can’t or won’t do more to stop the North Koreans,” he said.

Carter stopped first in Japan to meet with senior defense officials and discuss actions both nations are taking to strengthen their alliance, he said. These include Japan’s progress in reviewing its National Defense Program Guidelines so its Self-Defense Forces can work more closely with U.S. forces as their presence in the region increases. Other topics included missile defense integration and Japan’s consideration of buying the F-35 joint strike fighter.

“The Japanese are making very good progress,” Carter said.

In discussions about Japan’s concern over tension with China in the Senkaku Islands, the deputy secretary reiterated that the islands fall under U.S. treaty protection and that the United States seeks to make sure that those involved in such disputes behave calmly and solve problems through dialogue, not violence.

In South Korea, Carter visited the Key Resolve military exercise at Command Post TANGO -- for theater air naval ground operations -- a high-tech bunker that serves as the Korean theater’s main warfighting headquarters, led by Army Gen. James D. Thurman.

The Combined Forces Command there includes U.S. and South Korean forces, along with troops from the United Kingdom, Australia and other nations.

In the Philippines, Carter said, he had much to discuss with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and the Philippine president’s executive secretary, Paquito Ochoa.

“The foreign minister will be in Washington next week, so this gave us the opportunity to discuss the things he’ll be discussing with Secretary of State [John F.] Kerry,” Carter said. “He was the Philippine ambassador to the United States [from 2001 to 2006], so he knows the United States well.”

Del Rosario was interested and seemed pleased to hear about the momentum the U.S. rebalance has, and that it will not be affected in any material way by the budget turmoil in Washington. “It has that much priority,” Carter said.

The deputy secretary said they also talked about the strength of and deepening involvement between the Philippines and the United States in the military-to-military sphere. For the Defense Department, he added, this means working with the Philippine military as it approaches its military reform effort, discussing with them the rotational presence of U.S. forces, and making sure that any areas of concern they have are being addressed.

One area of concern involves the USS Guardian, which ran aground Jan. 17 on Tubbataha Reef, about 70 nautical miles southeast of Palawan in the Philippines.

“The USS Guardian is successfully being removed without any spillage,” Carter said. “The investigation … is under way, and the results of that investigation are being fully shared with the Philippine government.”

In Indonesia, the deputy secretary met Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro and discussed what has become a burgeoning military-to-military relationship with that nation.

“We are doing more and more [with Indonesia], and that has been enabled by their successful effort to make sure their special forces are reformed and operate in a way that is fully respectful of human rights,” Carter said. In the past when the Indonesian army was involved in maintaining domestic order, there were instances of human rights violations by military units, he explained.

“Resolving them is, appropriately for the United States, necessary for us to have a military-to-military relationship with them, and I’m pleased that they and we are doing our parts to make that happen,” the deputy secretary added.

In the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, Carter held a bilateral meeting with Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen of Singapore, whom he called and old and close friend of the United States. Singapore is involved in much of the U.S. rebalance, he noted.

“For example, four littoral combat ships are beginning rotational deployments to Singapore in early April,” Carter said. “Secretary of the Navy [Ray] Mabus will be out there to be part of the welcoming ceremony. And the Singaporeans made a forceful case for continuing U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific region.”

Carter also met with Malaysian Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid. “We continue to do a lot with Malaysia,” he said, adding that in Afghanistan, Malaysia specializes in providing medical services to women.
“Because they are a Muslim country and they have Muslim women on staff, they are particularly able to do things that Americans would never be able to do for Afghan women in the medical sphere,” the deputy secretary said. The United States and Malaysia also are engaged in military reform efforts and arms sales.

One issue of concern to the Malaysians, Carter said, is a dispute between Malaysia and the Philippines over a Malaysian member state called Sabah, on the northern part of the island of Borneo.

“I expressed the appreciation and admiration of the United States for the mature way that the Filipino and Malaysian governments have together dealt with this situation,” he added, “to try and minimize the regretful loss of life and calm down this situation.

“It’s a great example of countries coming together to deal with these complex political situations that could easily have led to more loss of life and terrorism,” he said.

Also in Jakarta, and a main reason for his visit, Carter participated in the Jakarta International Defense Dialogue, a large meeting presided over by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yodhoyono.

“I talked about the rebalancing there, but I emphasized, being in Southeast Asia, that as part of the rebalance the United States is putting special effort into Southeast and South Asia. … We need to be where our friends and allies are all over Asia,” Carter said.

At the Jakarta residence of David Carden, U.S. ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the deputy secretary met with members of the ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representatives, the association’s highest permanent governmental body. The committee consists of ambassadors from each of the 10 ASEAN member states posted to the ASEAN Secretariat. One important ASEAN initiatives is formulating a code of conduct in the South China Sea as a way to peacefully handle disputes, the deputy secretary said.

“We are supportive of that, and we think it’s a good thing helping to keep South China Sea islands issues in the peaceful, nonmilitarized, multilateral channel that the United States favors,” Carter said. “We think is the right way to deal with these issues.”

The defense secretary emphasized while in Asia that the defense ministers there have in Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel someone who knows the region very well.

“Many of them appreciated that, because Hagel was one of the founders of another important dialogue out there -- the Shangri-La Dialogue,” Carter added.

“For 10 years, he’s been going to Shangri-La as a senator,” he said, “so … he’s not starting from zero, he’s starting from 99 miles an hour in terms of being able to deal with this region as a central commitment of the Department of Defense in this era.”

After leaving Jakarta, Carter’s first stop in the United States was Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, to thank the airmen, soldiers, sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and DOD civilians there for their service.

“I thought it was fitting that we ended up at Elmendorf-Richardson, because [the troops there] are at the center of the rebalance,” he said. “They have been heavily deployed -- both air units and the Army -- from chilly Alaska to the hot Middle East for the better part of a decade now -- first Iraq and then Afghanistan,” he added. “Now we are asking them to return to full-spectrum operations from a counterinsurgency focus and to rebalance their efforts to the Asia-Pacific.”