Sunday, March 24, 2013

Love My Rifle More than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army

Kayla Williams, USA, “graduated cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in English literature from Bowling Green State University, and earned a master of arts degree in international Affairs with a focus on the Middle East from American University.  She co-authored Love My Rifle More than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army, a book about her deployment to Iraq as a member of the United States Army.

According to the book description of Love My Rifle More than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army, “Kayla Williams is one of the 15 percent of the U.S. Army that is female, and she is a great storyteller. With a voice that is “funny, frank and full of gritty details” (New York Daily News), she tells of enlisting under Clinton; of learning Arabic; of the sense of duty that fractured her relationships; of being surrounded by bravery and bigotry, sexism and fear; of seeing 9/11 on Al-Jazeera; and of knowing she would be going to war.

With a passion that makes her memoir “nearly impossible to put down” (Buffalo News) Williams shares the powerful gamut of her experiences in Iraq, from caring for a wounded civilian to aiming a rifle at a child. Angry at the bureaucracy and the conflicting messages of today’s military, Williams offers us “a raw, unadulterated look at war” (San Antonio Express News) and at the U.S. Army. And she gives us a woman’s story of empowerment and self-discovery."

More information about Kayla Williams

Prototype Testing Advances on Selfridge KC-135

by TSgt. Dan Heaton
127th Wing Public Affairs

3/21/2013 - SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- Ground testing has successfully concluded on a prototype missile countermeasure device under review at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. The device is being tested on a KC-135 Stratotanker.

The Selfridge-based KC-135, flown by the 171st Air Refueling Squadron, will now undergo a series of flight tests to test the LAIRCM -- large aircraft infrared countermeasure -- system. The flight tests will be conducted at an Air Force test center in another state and are to begin in a few weeks. Testing is scheduled to be complete by early summer.

Since mid-January, a team of nine hand-picked Airmen from the 191st Maintenance Squadron at Selfridge have been working on the project with engineers and other specialists from the KC-135 Systems Project Office at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., and from Northrop Grumman Corp., which developed the LAIRCM system, known as The Guardian. The initial work on the project was to modify a KC-135 to be able to accept The Guardian pod on the rear of the aircraft and to integrate it as needed with existing aircraft systems. The work was painstakingly thorough, as the Airmen and specialists worked to develop written guidelines for future installations of the system and to identify potential modifications, should the prototype be put into production.

"Our Airmen are really focused on this project, it has the potential to directly save the lives of not only our own Airmen, but any Soldier, Sailor or Marine who is onboard our aircraft in a hostile environment," said Chief Master Sgt. Henry Ryan, superintendent of the 191st Maintenance Squadron.

Ryan said while the group of Airmen working on the prototype project have been engaged with that work, others in the squadron have stepped up to ensure the day-to-day work of the maintenance squadron is getting done.

"This requires a total team effort," he said.

The LAIRCM is specifically designed to defeat a portable, man-carried surface-to-air missile. While such missiles don't pose much threat when the KC-135 is refueling another aircraft at a high altitude, the tanker can be susceptible to such weapons - favored by insurgent groups because of their relative low cost and ease to operate - while taking off and landing. Safety in a hostile environment is of particular concern when KC-135s perform one of their key alternate missions - serving as an aeromedical transportation system to move injured military personnel from remote bases to larger hospitals.

The LAIRCM is designed to continuously scan for any threats to the aircraft. If a missile is detected, it jams the incoming missile's guidance system using a laser beam. The system does not require the aircraft pilot or another aircrew member to take action to eliminate a potential threat.

The LAIRCM is a pod that can be attached to the external skin of the aircraft. The receiving aircraft has to be modified to have a receiving plate, an additional antennae and wiring inside the aircraft. Once the aircraft is prepped to be able to accommodate the LAIRCM pod, the pod would only be added to the aircraft on specific missions. It generally would not be added to the KC-135 on domestic training missions, as an example. The Air Force has not finalized plans on how many of the KC-135s in the fleet would be equipped with the necessary equipment to receive a pod. The Air Force has 167 KC-135s in the active duty fleet, 180 with the Air National Guard and 67 with the Air Force Reserve.

The 171st and the 191st are both components 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.

Reserve wing saddened by loss of 512th AW family member

512th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

3/22/2013 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del.  -- Marine Lance Cpl. William T. Wild IV, the 21-year-old son of Chief Master Sgt. William T. Wild III, 512th Airlift Wing command chief, died Monday at Hawthorne Army Depot, Nev. He is one of seven Marines who lost their lives during a training exercise.

"We extend our deepest condolences to Chief Wild and his family during this difficult time," said Col. Raymond A. Kozak, 512th AW commander. "Lance Corporal Wild and his fellow Marines, who lost their lives in this tragic accident, served their country honorably and will not be forgotten."

Chief Wild's son, referred to as Taylor, joined the Marines upon graduation in 2010 from Severna Park High School, Annapolis, Md. He had deployed twice to Afghanistan and once to Kuwait.

An interment at Arlington National Cemetery is scheduled for April 2 with the procession meeting at 10:30 a.m. at the Memorial Gate. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Marines Helping Marines at or to the Friends of the Fallen at

It Takes a Village

Commentary by Senior Master Sgt Haisshia Havens
940th AMDS

3/22/2013 - BEALE AIR FORCE BASE Calif -- "Hey, Mom, guess what!"

It was an innocent start to a recent conversation with my son that served as a real wake-up call for me.

When my 10-year-old told me someone had asked him if he wanted to get high, my first reaction was to begin interrogating him with a barrage of who, what, where, and how's. But he was looking at me to see my reaction, so I had to make myself take a deep breath. I invited him to sit down next to me on the couch and tell his the story.

That afternoon, he'd been outside playing in the neighborhood when two classmates approached him with chalk dust and hand sanitizer, suggesting he could get high with the items.

He said it scared him; he wasn't expecting it. Frankly, neither was I. He's only 10. We live in a safe neighborhood, and my sons attend a good school just down the street. At that moment, I was so thankful we'd already had "the talk" about drugs and alcohol. And he had listened!

After hearing his story about the encounter, I suggested we have a snack. I was buying myself time to gather my thoughts and carefully formulate the questions I had to ask so that I could understand the whole situation. I asked him to tell me the story again, then I reassured him he had done the right thing.

I called my 11-year-old son in and asked if he had ever been approached. I learned he had been - a few days earlier, by the same children, in the school cafeteria. He too had turned down the invitation to get high with hand sanitizer and chalk dust.

I was thankful my sons were not accepting to the invitation to get high, but I dreaded telling the parents of the children who had approached them. Still, I knew they needed to know. I would want to know.

As a former Air Force Office of Special Investigations agent, I had worked cases of drug and alcohol interdiction with families. As an Air Force Reservist in the medical field, part of my duty involves educating military members and their families about the dangers of drugs. I needed to gather answers to the questions I was sure the other parents would ask.

I turned to the Internet to do further research. I couldn't find anything on chalk, but I learned that hand sanitizer contains alcohol. Consuming one bottle is the equivalent of drinking two shots of vodka - enough to kill a child.

That was all I needed to know. I immediately got on social media and sent the information out to other parents in the neighborhood. Without revealing specifics of my sons' experiences, I alerted others to the potential that their children may have been approached, and I provided details about the dangerous content of the items, along with the symptoms of the abuse. I urged them to take the time to talk with their children about this real and present danger.

Within minutes of my posting, parents were commenting and sending me private messages. I sent an email to the school's principal and asked to meet with her.
The following afternoon, I gathered my courage and knocked on the doors of the families whose children had been involved in both my sons' incidences. I didn't know how they would react, but I knew they needed to hear what I had to tell them. Their children's lives and the lives of other children were at stake.

The parents were very surprised and saddened at the news, but they were appreciative I'd come to talk privately with them. Obviously, this isn't something any parent wants to hear, but the sooner the truth is revealed, the better - before something tragic could happen.

The school principal was also responsive when I met with her the next day; I could hear genuine concern in her voice. She immediately took action to meet with the involved families to provide guidance and resources to help them address the problem. She took the opportunity to meet with classes to re-emphasize the school's anti-drug teachings, encouraging students not to give in to peer pressure when confronted with drugs and alcohol.

The school had a health fair scheduled, and the principal allowed my unit, the 940th AMDS, to set up a booth educating parents and students about drug and alcohol abuse prevention. We were able to talk with several families at the fair.

I'm a real advocate for open communication, not only with my own children, but with other parents and our schools. I'm the mom that volunteers for everything at school - from tutoring math and English to chaperoning field trips to volunteering with the recycle program.

I also believe in getting involved with our neighbors and communities. Building strong community ties will help keep our children safe. As they say, it takes a village - especially these days.

18th Air Force Commander: 'Life is full of tests'

by Senior Airman Earlandez Young
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

3/20/2013 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- "The founders of our Air Force were not pilots ... they were Airmen who happened to fly planes," said Lt. Gen. Darren McDew, the 18th Air Force commander, during an all-call here March 13. "They were bold, risk-taking, innovative Airmen who put it on the line to make something happen that didn't exist before - that's who founded the worlds' greatest air and space force."

The general noted that one of the things he enjoyed most about his three-day visit here was interacting with Airmen. He explained that after 30 years of service, that interaction lets him know "the Air Force still recruits and retains the best America has to offer."

"I enjoy getting out and visiting Airmen and visiting Fairchild in particular was important to me because I haven't been here in a number of years," he said. "The commander here has been telling me how great the Airmen here are, so I wanted to see firsthand."

Among the key points McDew shared with Fairchild Airmen was the understanding that life is full of tests.

He explained that while many people believe tests end when they depart their last school, they actually continue throughout a person's life. Because of that, he added, Airmen need to prepare because you never know when they are going to come.

"As mobility Airmen and Airmen in the Air Force, our challenge is to be ready for the tests our nation has for us," McDew said. "You prepare for these tests by deciding the type of Airmen you're going to be. Make the decision that you're going to be a person of integrity, about excellence in everything you do -- not just the things you like to. Be a leader every day in the areas you can control."

McDew noted that Airmen of every rank and AFSC are doing great things every day and seeing them doing the job firsthand gives him great energy.

"We're the only Air Force in the world that can do what we do and the only nation in the world that is willing to do what we do. Our job is important and vital," he added. "People care about what you do and thank you for continuing to do it -- we can't say it enough."

Officials Sign Plan to Counter North Korean Threats

From a Combined Forces Command News Release

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea, March 24, 2013 – The chairman of the South Korean military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and the U.S. Army general who leads the Republic of Korea-United States Combined Forces Command have signed a combined plan to counter future threats from North Korea.

Gen. Jung Seung-jo and Gen. James D. Thurman, who also commands U.S. Forces Korea, signed the Combined Counter-Provocation Plan on March 22.

The South Korean-led, U.S.-supported contingency plan was developed by mutual agreement between the Joint Chiefs chairmen of both countries after a November 2010 North Korean artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island.

Officials said the plan includes procedures for consultation and action. It also improves the readiness posture to allow for a strong and decisive combined South Korean and U.S. response to North Korean provocations and threats, they added.

Running for the Fallen

by Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

3/21/2013 - LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound," rang from procession vehicles on a chilly and early morning, March 16, 2013, as the second annual Arkansas Run for the Fallen commenced. Families gathered on the sides of streets with signs and American flags to pay their respects as the droning of bagpipes passed them by. The sound of that song, stirred bitter sweet emotions that only the families of the fallen heroes know.

"The sacrifices that their brave sons and daughters made will never be forgotten so long as blood courses through my veins," said Senior Master Sgt. Bubba Beason, 19th Logistic Readiness Squadron First sergeant and creator of the run. "I told the volunteers for this year, (which included bikers, runners, state police, as well as military personnel and civilians), to remember who and what they were running for. I said their pain from running six miles is nothing compared to the pain these families have to endure for the rest of their lives. You are running because these fallen service members no longer can."

The two-day event began in Ozark, Ark., after a small ceremony and the singing of the national anthem. This year, runners were grouped in four-person teams. One runner carried the American flag, the second, the Arkansas state flag, the third, the Remember the Fallen flag, and the fourth a smaller American flag attached with the biography of the fallen service member.

Every mile, for 132 miles, a member of the running group read the biography, rendered a salute and placed the smaller American flag in the ground at the location of that fallen service member's designated memorial site. Once the final runners reached the state Capitol, the ending ceremony included a guest speaker, thankful remarks from Beason, the reading of a letter from a mother to a fallen son, the reading of the names of the fallen and a 21-gun salute.

This run gives family members of the fallen a method to heal and a way to celebrate tragic lose. Many times Beason said he has received emails from gold-star mothers expressing how much the run means to their family. Beason explained that a gold-star mother is the mother of a fallen service member, whereas a blue-star mother is the mother of a service member who's still alive.

"When you get to see a gold-star family for the first time and you put a flag in the ground and see the family break down in tears, you realize while you're doing something so simple by running a mile and putting a flag down, it's so much more for the families because in their hearts and their minds they know their loved one is not forgotten," said Beason.

Beason said he wants the run to continue to grow.

"Two weeks after these people die, the only people who remember are their family, which is an injustice," he said. "I've got passion for this. To me, this is a self-reward to make sure that the families realize that we're still trying to remember them for what they did. I would hope that there would be someone out there to keep my memory alive."

As a gold-star mother read her letter aloud to the crowd, she gave everyone there one final thought to take with them. She said, "I hope what I have just done is put a picture in your mind of a solider from Arkansas, one of our boys, because that's who we honored yesterday and today in those runs. Those are the people that have fought for our country and have fought for our nation and I am blessed to be the mother of one.

628th SFS continue patrol tactical shooting training

by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad Hallford
Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

3/20/2013 - FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Sailors and Airmen from Joint Base Charleston's 628th Security Forces Squadron, received instruction on boat and land-mounted M240B machine gun operations at Ft. Jackson, S.C., March 12, 2013.

The training, which takes place over the course of several weeks, enables the JB Charleston - Weapons Station Harbor Patrol Team to support the 628th SFS' unique mission of protecting the waterways bordering the JB Charleston - Weapons Station.

The training, which starts with weapons and boat familiarization, concludes with water-based qualifications and qualifies security forces personnel to become part of the HPT team.

"Like other job openings in the Air Force, I simply applied, and as a benefit of joint basing, I have a unique opportunity to serve on the HPT with our Navy and civilian crewmates," said Airman 1st Class Cort Romo, 628th SFS installation entry controller.

The training also allowed current HPT members to maintain their weapons proficiency by using this opportunity to gain extra trigger time.

Instruction began with M240B gun basics, progressed to single, double and triple-shot control, and continued into rhythm shooting and runaway gun stoppage. The second day's evolutions included night shooting, with and without the aid of night-vision goggles.

"The training sessions we have conducted up to this point are building blocks," said Senior Chief Petty Officer Vincent Stephens, a master-at-arms assigned to the 628th SFS and range officer-in-charge. "The additional skill sets we learn and the muscle-action repetition will aid all of us by providing the necessary tools used during our patrols."

"I've never fired the M240B before," said Seaman John Freeman, a master-at-arms and activated reservist from the Navy Operational Support Center Columbia, assigned to the 628th SFS. "From learning the basics of trigger control, advanced tactics and night shooting, becoming proficient in all of these skills will be essential during our patrols."

"The 7.62mm ammunition leaves the muzzle at 2,750 feet per second (1,875 mph). The round will definitely punch through a small boat or cinderblock," said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Bradley Nguyen, a gunner's mate assigned to the 628th SFS and lead instructor for the course.

The weapon is capable of firing up to 600 rounds-per-minute and has a maximum effective range of approximately 1,960 yards for an area target and 870 yards for a point target.

"The M240B is a devastatingly powerful, crew-served weapon that requires increased tactical skill, instinctive response and smart decision making since we operate in a populated environment," said Nguyen. "Our goal is that the skills learned in a training environment become habit, so if our crews are called into action, operating the weapons will be second nature and they will execute their mission professionally and by the book."

One of the highlights of the training event was a talking gun exercise, an evolution where HPT shooters develop communication skills and weapon proficiency sufficient to deter or repel adversaries by providing constant fire from multiple weapons. The talking gun exercise was conducted during the day with both guns ground-mounted and at night with one gun on the ground with the other gun boat-mounted. The evolution involves teams communicating each gun's status between teams with no lapse in firing the weapons.

The training is conducted in four parts. In addition to the initial weapons familiarization and night training using night vision goggles, SFS forces will complete the training by participating in exercises that simulate firing from a boat while it is still on land, and finally from a boat on the water.

Seabee Enjoys Independence His Job Provides

By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Kegan E. Kay
Naval Air Facility Atsugi

NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan , March 22, 2013 – After graduating from high school in his hometown of East Rockaway, N.J., Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John Skoblicki worked in construction. Now, he’s a builder in the Seabees.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John Skoblicki shows an ornamental Tori gate he made to Navy Capt. Steven Wieman, commanding officer of Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, and Navy Command Master Chief Petty Officer Carlton Duncan, March 19, 2013. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kegan E. Kay

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“I joined because of a lot of reasons,” Skoblicki said. “The biggest thing I wanted was a stable job.”

A builder is one of seven construction specialty rates that make up the Seabees. Skoblicki said his experience so far differs from those of sailors who have been in the Navy longer than his two years of service, as they tend to work on larger projects. His work here consists primarily of carpentry, sanding, painting, staining and small building projects, he said.

“What a [builder] does in the Seabees is rough carpentry -- throwing up buildings and doing concrete pads,” he explained. “My favorite part of my job is probably that I’m in my own little world back there. I have a lot of independence. I can kind of do what I want to do, and I guess that is what motivates me.”

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Sherwood, the public works officer here, said Skoblicki is a solid performer.
“He assists tenant base commands with various technical knowledge and hands-on guidance in multiple aspects of carpentry,” he said, adding that Skoblicki is customer-focused and heads the base’s self-help program, in which base personnel improve their work spaces.

Skoblicki’s recent self-help projects have included the design and assembly of two computer desks, traditional Japanese Tori gates, picture frames, shadow boxes and 12 ornamental Tori gates for the 2013 Seabee Ball, Sherwood said.

“[He] is a motivated Seabee who gives his best in all endeavors,” he added. “[He is] perpetually optimistic and energetic, and cheerfully attacks and completes all tasks.”

Skoblicki recently was named Sailor of the Week, an honor that includes being guest host of the base’s weekly show, "Captain’s Call," and showing Navy Capt. Steven Wieman, the naval air facility’s commanding officer, and Command Master Chief Petty Officer Carlton Duncan around his work center on the program.
It’s not the final product that he enjoys the most about his work, Skoblicki said, but rather, it’s the process of creating the product.

“For me, it is relaxing,” he said. “If you know going into it that you are going to mess it up a little bit, and that your end product is probably going be at least a little bit different from what you originally planned one way or another, it is no big deal. Patience is probably the biggest thing, the most important thing, when you are doing finish work like that.”

For Skoblicki, wood working has become a hobby, and he stays late at work teaching himself how to create different products with the machines and tools.

“Everything is a learning experience, whether you learn the right way or the wrong way,” he said. “You learn what to do or what not to do. Just observe and try to pick up on the right things and try to learn from the wrong things, others’ mistakes and your own mistakes.”

Skoblicki’s work here has extended past the base’s borders. He and other Seabees assisted in rebuilding houses destroyed by the March 2011 tsunami in the Fukushima prefecture, and he served a five-week stint in Diego Garcia, an island in the Indian Ocean.

“The ocean every day, the weather, fishing -- I like being outside, so Diego Garcia was awesome,” he said.
Skoblicki said he hopes that his next duty assignment will be to a construction battalion in California or a command in Europe. “I want to travel,” he added. “I never traveled before the Navy.”

Airmen now learn in HD with Guard's NCO Academy

by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
I.G. Brown Training and Education Center

3/22/2013 - MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. -- The Air National Guard's center for training and education is leveraging live high-definition, high-bitrate video to develop Airmen with the high quality associated with an in-residence experience - but at a fraction of the cost.

Currently the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center, or TEC, is in full swing delivering a blended learning Noncommissioned Officer Academy course to 115 Airmen at 11 installations across the nation. Blended learning consists of facilitated distance learning, followed by a short period of in-resident learning to complete the course.

The class is broadcast live from TEC which is in its 18th year of providing blended learning NCOA via its "Warrior Network" satellite broadcast system. The Center will celebrate 45 years of professional military education on its campus this year.

For this course, six of the field sites are using a new two-way, high definition, high-bitrate video-to-video tele-training extension to its Warrior Network.

While these students still get live video instruction, video tele-training technology allows students to see and hear their instructors, and vice versa, over a dedicated internet protocol line.

The new method is simply a test for this course. So far, it's proving to be a vast improvement over the tried-and-true one-way satellite method where students can see and hear their instructors, but the instructors can only hear students when they have questions, said officials.

"The sites are seen in a grid-like display, say like on the old TV game show 'Hollywood Squares,' and instructors and the sites queue up larger during interaction," said Tech. Sgt. Matt Schwartz, the production manager who works evenings here to handle the broadcasts.

Instructors said video tele-training allows them to see classrooms in detail, including facial reactions and attentiveness among pupils.

"This helps us help them to understand their instruction better," said Senior Master Sgt. Andrew Traugot, the Center's director of education, satellite EPME.

Instructors teach from a broadcast desk at the TEC's Media Engagement Division, calling up information and explaining lessons.

Traugot added that the students and instructors alike are from across the Total Air Force.

Compared to the traditional six-week NCOA course held here, the 13-week blended learning class reduces on-campus attendance to two weeks.

To Center officials, it's a clear alternative to traveling for fully in-resident schools.

"For a student to attend our NCOA course completely in-resident, it costs the government just over $7,000," said Traugot. "Whereas with the blended learning course, it only costs $4,800. The great thing is that they still get in-residence credit."

Officials said that's popular with National Guard members because it helps them attend training from their hometowns, with reduced time away from their families, employers and missions.