Monday, March 25, 2013

COMPACAF thanks Airmen as Cope Tiger 13 concludes

by 2nd Lt. Jake Bailey
Cope Tiger 13 Public Affairs

3/25/2013 - KORAT ROYAL THAI AIR FORCE BASE, Thailand  -- Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Pacific Air Forces, met with Airmen from the U.S., Thailand and Republic of Singapore as they joined forces one last time on the flight line during the closing ceremony for Cope Tiger 13 here March 21.

"I want to personally thank you for all that you've done. What you've accomplished during this exercise matters a great deal," Carlisle told Airmen as he met with them one on one before the closing ceremony began.

Carlisle presented certificates of accomplishment to Airmen who rose to the challenge and delivered superior performance during Cope Tiger 13. Afterwards, he talked candidly with the Airmen and answered their questions.

Carlisle noted that with less than one percent of the U.S. population serving in the military, Airmen should be proud to count themselves as part of an elite few who provide peace and stability, especially in the Pacific region.

"You answer our nation's call everyday," Carlisle said.

Cope Tiger 13's objectives included improving combat readiness and combined aerial planning and tactics in addition to enhancing multilateral relations.

During the combined field training exercise, 2,300 personnel and 80 aircraft from the three participating air forces executed 919 aerial sorties.

"It is my great pleasure to report that with leadership and teamwork contributed from all participants, the exercise accomplished its primary goal of executing safely," said Group Capt. Napadej Dhupatemiya, Royal Thai Air Force exercise director.

Beyond conducting large force employment missions, Cope Tiger participants made it a point to contribute their goodwill to local schools in the surrounding communities. During three cultural engagements, Airmen contributed educational materials, computer equipment, athletic gear and quality of life measures such as fans and sinks to the schools.

"The interactions that we have during Cope Tiger in Thailand are so beneficial," said Col. Peter Milohnic, U.S. exercise director. "We tend to focus on the military aspect, but what we learn from each other culturally and the friendships that we build while we are here are important, too."

Master Sgt. Jeff Mikkelson, a fuels section chief assigned to Yokota Air Base, Japan, agrees.

"I'm honored to have had the opportunity to make a positive impact here at Cope Tiger, not only on the flight line, but in the community, too" Mikkelson said.

With exercise scenarios concluded, redeployment of aircraft and personnel continue this week.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke assumes helm as Air Guard director

by Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau

3/23/2013 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Air Force Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III assumed the duties and responsibilities of director, Air National Guard in a ceremony here today at the Air National Guard Readiness Center.

Clarke took over as director from Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry "Bud" Wyatt, who retired.

A command pilot with more than 4000 hours--including more than 100 combat hours-- in the A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft, Clarke assumed his current position after serving as commander of 1st Air Force and Continental U.S. North America Aerospace Defense Command.

"The opportunity to watch (Clarke) at 1st Air Force was tremendous for me to learn his great capabilities," said Army Gen. Frank Grass, chief, National Guard Bureau, during the ceremony.

And because of his background, Clarke was uniquely positioned and had the right skill set to take on the duties of director, Grass said.

"An Alabama Air Guardsman who served as the assistant adjutant general for air, an A-10 and F-16 pilot who commanded a squadron, wing and expeditionary wing, all of that prepared him for this job and to represent everyone in this building and all those in the Air National Guard across the map in the 54 states, territories and the District of Columbia," Grass said.

And Clarke has been busy as he settles into his new role.

"There's a lot to learn," said Clarke. "But, I've hit the ground running and am drinking from the fire hose. I have already been on the Hill seven times and testified twice."

However, he said his new role is a humbling one.

"This is quite an honor and I am humbled at the opportunity to serve (those in the Air Guard)," said Clarke.

And, as Clarke takes the reins as director, he said he sees tremendous opportunities despite recent budget cutbacks.

"I've arrived in a time of budget turmoil and uncertainty, but I view this as a time of opportunity as well," he said, adding that his focus and commitment are clear.

"My commitment to the (Airmen) and the adjutants general is clear," he said. "We will do everything within our authority to ensure our Airmen have clear policies, equipment, training and resources to accomplish assigned missions. We remain community based, team oriented and experienced."

And Clarke is ready to face those challenges, said Grass.

"(He) has stepped up to the challenge," said Grass. "And I can tell you I've already watched him as he's taken on that challenge."

Whiteman marks three combat anniversaries for B-2

by Capt. John Severns
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

3/22/2013 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- In a historic coincidence, this third week of March marks not just one anniversary, but the anniversary of three separate combat engagements by the B-2 Spirit Bomber.

The first occurred 14 years ago, when B-2 bombers flying from Whiteman AFB were the first manned aircraft to engage in hostilities during Operation Allied Force on March 24, 1999. Operation Allied Force was a NATO military operation launched to force Yugoslavia's president, Slobodan Milosevic, to end a campaign of violence by Serbian forces against the people of Kosovo.

Ten years ago, B-2 s operating from Whiteman Air Force Base and other forward locations participated in the opening salvos of Operation Iraqi Freedom, dropping dozens of bombs on high-value targets in Baghdad on March 20, 2003. Operation Iraqi Freedom marked the highest-intensity bombardment ever conducted by B-2s, with the aircraft dropping over a million pounds of ordnance during the opening days of the war.

Finally, and most recently, three B-2s took off from Whiteman AFB on March 22, 2011 and flew more than 6,000 miles to Libya, where they took part in Operation Odyssey Dawn, a NATO operation to enforce a UN no-fly zone to prevent Muammar Gaddafi from using his air forces to attack civilians. The aircraft destroyed a series of hardened aircraft shelters at an airfield near Sirte, and resulted in the nearly complete destruction of Gaddafi's air forces.

All three anniversaries highlight the enduring contributions of the B-2 Spirit to our nation's defense, according to Brig. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, commander of the 509th Bomb Wing.

"This year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the arrival of the B-2 at Whiteman Air Force Base, and this week we commemorate three of the B-2's four combat employments," Bussiere said. "In Serbia, Libya and Iraq, we saw professional Airmen flying from bases around the world to successfully destroy targets with pinpoint precision. The B-2's ability to enter the most restricted airspace in the world, attack critical targets, and then fly home, is unmatched in any other air force in the world. Our people deserve to be proud of the outstanding missions they contributed to in each of these conflicts."

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the delivery of the first B-2 Spirit, the Spirit of Missouri, to Whiteman Air Force Base on Dec. 17, 1993. Air Force Global Strike command has designated 2013 as the "Year of the B-2," and throughout the year the wing will be marking a variety of important dates in the B-2 program.

Over the years, many of the Airmen who participated in the combat operations as pilots later went on to leadership positions in the B-2 community. One such pilot, then-Lt. Col. Scott Vander Hamm, was commander of the 325th Bomb Squadron here when Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched.

"Our mission was to go after Saddam's critical infrastructure, to degrade his ability to respond," Brig. Gen. Scott Vander Hamm, now the Director of Plans, Programs, Requirements and Assessments at Air Education and Training Command, said during an interview last week with the British newspaper The Telegraph. "Our priority of course was avoiding Iraqi civilian casualties but we were bombing office buildings in the wee hours of the morning.

"It was a 38-hour-long flight from Missouri and back again, with five mid-air refuels. As we were flying over Iraq towards Baghdad, we could see the precision strikes by the Navy's Tomahawk missiles, but otherwise the night sky was very quiet and I could see the outlines of the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers where they converged," he continued.

The B-2's first combat employment, in Kosovo, was a nerve-wracking time for the mission planners back in the states, but for the pilots in the air, job one was to focus on the mission.

"Once you get into the target areas, the target runs, you are doing a lot of aiming, a lot of radar scope interpretation, so you are very busy," said then-Lt. Col. Eric Single, who was commander of the 393rd Bomb Squadron at the time, in a book by Rebecca Grant on the B-2's actions in Kosovo, "The B-2 Goes to War."

"You don't have time to think about anything but getting the weapons out," he continued.

"The B-2 was designed to deliver weapons on the first day - yesterday was the first day of the war and the B-2 was there," said Col. Tony Imondi, who was the 509th Operations Group commander during Operation Allied Force.

More recently, during Operation Odyssey Dawn, the B-2 Spirit demonstrated its incredible flexibility as a platform for conducting global strike operations. The three aircraft flew more than 25 hours to their target in Libya and joined a coordinated assault involving U.S. Navy and other Air Force assets.

Although Libya's air defenses were considered antiquated by modern standards, the B-2 Spirit gave U.S. commanders a degree of certitude that only comes with a precise, stealthy aircraft. During all three anniversaries being celebrated this month, the men and women of Whiteman Air Force Base demonstrated the full range of capabilities of American air power.

Guardsmen, Reservists Nominate Employers for Freedom Awards

From an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve News Release

ARLINGTON, Va., March 25, 2013 – Members of the National Guard and reserves submitted 2,899 nominations for the 2013 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, officials with Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, an operational Defense Department committee, announced today.
The Freedom Award is the Defense Department’s highest recognition for employers supporting employees who serve in the reserve components.

Up to 15 award recipients will be announced this summer, and they’ll be honored in Washington, D.C., later this year at the 18th annual Freedom Award ceremony. Past award recipients have met with senior White House and Defense Department leaders as part of the award recognition, officials said.

Guard and reserve service members, or family members acting on their behalf, nominated their civilian employers for the Freedom Award during the 12-week nomination season that closed in January.

ESGR officials noted that even with recent drawdowns in Afghanistan, ongoing national security demands and humanitarian relief missions have continued to call reserve component service members away from their civilian lives. Supportive employers are critical to helping provide stability and peace of mind for these service members and their families, officials added.

"Every year, these nominations demonstrate the strength of our employers' commitment to supporting our Guardsmen and reservists," said ESGR National Chair James G. Rebholz. "We applaud all the National Guard and reserve service members who took the time to tell the DOD why their employers are exceptional, and we are grateful to the 2013 nominees for providing our citizen warriors with the assistance and encouragement they rely on while answering the call to duty."

Guard and reserve members make up almost half of the U.S. military. While most Guard and reserve employers proudly support their military employees, ESGR officials said, Freedom Award recipients are recognized for going to extraordinary lengths for the Guardsmen and reservists who work for them in their civilian lives.

This year’s nominees represent diverse industries, including airlines, grocery store chains, national retail brands and information technology companies, as well as small businesses and state and local governments.
A list of nominations from all 50 states, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia are available at Semifinalists for the 2013 Freedom Award will be announced later this spring.

The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of ESGR to recognize exceptional support from the employer community. In the years since, 175 employers have been honored with the award.
ESGR develops and maintains employer support for reserve component members, advocating relevant initiatives, recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of applicable laws, and resolving conflict between service members and employers. Paramount to ESGR’s mission, officials said, is encouraging employment of Guardsmen and reservists who bring integrity, global perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce.

145th CE Continues to Bridge Gap by Integrating Total Force Training

by Tech Sgt Patricia Findley
145th Public Affairs

3/22/2013 - NEW LONDON, N.C. -- In wartime or contingency environments, Air Force Active Duty, Guard and Reserve Civil Engineers often involve the use of specialized and unique mission essential equipment that they normally do not use in their day-to-day operations. Due to cost and complexity, mission-essential equipment and trainer expertise are not commonly found at installations in the continental United States. However, inadequate training on these key equipment items can negatively impact Air Force contingency operations.

During March 2013, the 145th Civil Engineering Squadron, North Carolina Air National Guard Regional Training Site was host to a mixture of Active Duty and National Guard personnel from Charleston AFB, Whiteman AFB and Oklahoma Air National Guard while they attended a Mission Essential Equipment Training class. This site, located in New London, N.C. is one of only four training sites in the country that provides this kind of training.

The MEET class, taught by Master Sgt. Christopher R. Speagle, Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force manager for the 145th Civil Engineering Squadron, helped airmen achieve hands-on certification by having individuals complete appropriate hands-on training, meet the minimum "go/no go" standards identified in the MEET curriculum, and get to a proficiency level prescribed in the approved MEET curriculum to set up, operate, trouble shoot, maintain and reconstitute equipment. This equipment includes Emergency Airfield Lighting Systems, Bare Base Electrical Distribution Systems; Mobile Aircraft Arresting Systems, 750 KW Generator Operations and Water Fuels Maintenance on Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Units.

The 145th Civil Engineering Squadron is responsible for wartime mission training plus construction, utility support, emergency services, maintenance and repair of base infrastructure. The members of this unit are highly trained and capable of immediate and rapid worldwide wartime deployment to support base hardening, rapid runway repair, expedient war damage repair, assessment and crash, rescue and fire-suppression action.

All Air Force members in the Civil Engineering career field, whether they are Active Duty, Guard or Reserves, must be re-certified every 24 months by attending the 40 hour MEET course.
The mission of war readiness is only accomplished by staying current in both classroom and hands on training.

When called to go down range the Prime BEEF mobility teams must be ready to rapidly deploy anytime, anywhere to provide fully responsive engineer capabilities in support of our nation's contingencies.

Stavridis Presses for More NATO-Russia Dialogue

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2013 – Noting increased cooperation between NATO and Russia in several key areas, the top NATO and U.S. European Command commander emphasized today the importance of working through stumbling blocks in what he called a “complicated partnership.”

In a blog post, Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis cited concerted efforts by both parties since NATO’s 2010 summit in Lisbon, Portugal, where the alliance’s 28 heads of state and government agreed on the need to pursue “a true strategic partnership” between NATO and Russia and noted in the strategic concept that they expect reciprocity from Russia.

Stavridis recognized several areas where increased cooperation has shown signs of paying off: counterpiracy; support for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, military exchanges and training exercises, counterterrorism and counternarcotics, among them.

“Overall, we enjoy cooperation and some level of partnership in a variety of important areas,” he said. “On the other hand, there are clearly challenges in the relationship.”

Stavridis noted Russia’s objections to the European phased adaptive approach for missile defense. “Russia sees the NATO missile defense system as posing a threat to their strategic intercontinental ballistic missile force,” he said. “We strongly disagree, and feel that the system is clearly designed to protect populations against Iran, Syria and other ballistic-missile-capable nations that threaten the European continent.”
NATO and Russia also disagree over Russian forces stationed in Georgia and NATO’s role in Libya, Stavridis said.

“We maintain that we operated under the U.N. Security Council mandate to establish a no-fly zone, provide an arms embargo and protect the people of Libya from attacks,” he said, calling NATO’s actions “well within the bounds of the [U.N.] mandate and the norms of international law.

“Russia sees this differently,” Stavridis continued, “and whenever I discuss this with Russian interlocutors, we find little room for agreement. This tends to create a differing set of views about the dangerous situation in Syria as well.”

Stavridis noted Russian Ambassador to NATO Alexander Grushko’s stated concerns that these differences -- and the installation of NATO military infrastructure closer to Russia’s borders -- threaten to unravel progress made in their relations.

“Notwithstanding differences on particular issues, we remain convinced that the security of NATO and Russia is intertwined,” Stavridis said, quoting the NATO strategic concept agreed to in Lisbon. “A strong and constructive partnership based on mutual confidence, transparency and predictability can best serve our security,” it states.

Stavridis recognized areas in which the growing NATO-Russian relationship is bearing fruit:

-- Counterpiracy: Loosely coordinated efforts by NATO and Russian ships have reduced piracy by 70 percent over the past year and caused the number of ships and mariners held hostage to plummet in what the admiral called “a very effective operation.”

-- Afghanistan support: Russia contributed small arms and ammunition to the Afghan security forces and sold MI-17 helicopters and maintenance training to the Afghan air force. In addition, Russia provides logistical support, including a transit arrangement that helps to sustain NATO-led ISAF forces and redeployment efforts.

-- Military exchanges and exercises: Russian service members are participating in more of these engagements with the United States and NATO. These exchanges, including port calls in Russia, have been well-received by both militaries, Stavridis noted.

-- Arctic cooperation: Russia is collaborating with other members of the Arctic Council, including the United States, Norway, Denmark, Canada and Iceland, to ensure the Arctic remains a zone of cooperation.

-- Counterterrorism: In the lead-up to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, NATO is offering assistance and information-sharing via a variety of channels, Stavridis reported.

-- Counternarcotics: NATO and Russia are working together to stem the flow of heroin from Afghanistan, a high priority for Russia.

Expressing hopes that NATO and Russia can continue to build on this cooperation, Stavridis said areas of tensions and disagreements need to be addressed.

“No one wants to stumble backwards toward the Cold War, so the best course for the future is open discussion, frank airing of disagreements, and hopefully seeking to build the ‘true strategic partnership’ set out in the NATO strategic concept,” he said. “Clearly, we have some work to do.”

Niagara aerial porters take on heavy load

by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Caya
914th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

3/19/2013 - NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. -- Resupplying ground forces with water and ammunition is itself no easy task, but it's just one of the missions performed by the 30th Aerial Port Squadron, which executed training on heavy-load airdrops during the 914th Airlift Wing's Unit Training Assembly here in early March.

A heavy load is a simulated high-weight capacity air drop, said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Frischholz of the air delivery section in the 30th APS. The squadron practices building, palletize and equipping the loads in order to keep their skills honed for war-time re-supply missions. Click here for video.

Frischholz stated these palletized loads are important for the troops because they can be air dropped where the forces need supplies, but conventional ground transportation, like trucks and Humvees, cannot go.

"The ability to get [ground troops] supplies when no one else can is rewarding," said Frischholz.

Creating the heavy load can take time; approximately two hours to complete.

"It's a two-man job," said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Menendez, aerial port specialist with the air delivery section. "The pallets need to be built, and then the loads need to be rigged with parachutes," Menendez added.

In order to have a successful airdrop, the loads must be constructed and rigged in a certain way, according to Menendez.

The aerial port Airmen handle the loads from start to finish and that includes recovering the pallets and the parachutes from a drop.

The recovery team goes to the landing site with equipment to recover the load base, as well as the parachutes. The team then carefully packs the parachutes into bags to take back to the squadron.

The recovered parachutes are meticulously inspected for defects such as rips or broken strings. If they pass the scrutiny of the Airmen, they are carefully packed and readied for the next drop.

Schriever volunteers use skills to serve community

by Scott Prater
Schriever Sentinel

3/21/2013 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- First Lt. Mark Long, 4th Space Operations Squadron, learned the value of hard work at an early age. He grew up on a farm in southwestern Indiana, building, fixing and maintaining structures, vehicles and equipment. So when he searched for the right volunteer opportunity, Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity seemed like the perfect fit.

When he arrived at Schriever last August, he was surprised to learn that the base had no organized Habitat For Humanity volunteer crew. He set about rectifying that situation, and now, coordinates up to 40 volunteers each month.

"I actually have a few selfish reasons for not only volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, but for helping draw others to do this important work," he said. "I gain valuable experience at every job site, which I hope will serve me well when I someday build my own home. I'm fascinated by the magic of making something where there was nothing and I want to create a distinct leadership identity for myself."

As a nonprofit organization, PPHFH uses volunteer labor and donations of money and materials to build and rehabilitate homes for low-income families. Since 1986, the Colorado Springs community has built or rehabilitated 118 homes through the PPHFH program.

Capt. Aaron Doyle, 4 SOPS, is one of the Schriever members Long recruited to volunteer with PPHFH. Ironically, Doyle already had Habitat for Humanity experience. He volunteered for the organization several years ago while stationed at Eglin AFB, Fla. Since joining the Schriever volunteer group he has also helped out at the PPHFH ReStore.

At the ReStore, Doyle unloads trucks and helps organize the store so customers have a better shopping experience. He explained that the ReStore is similar to a thrift store, only it's for home construction materials. If someone is say, remodeling their kitchen, they might be able to find a gently used sink there.

"Volunteering at the ReStore is interesting because you have an opportunity to exercise your organization skills," he said. "When materials come in, you stack items around and try to make the best use of the space. It's sort of like playing a three-dimensional Tetris game."

Doyle serves double duty for HFH. He also volunteers on home construction sites along with his fellow 4 SOPS and 50th Operations Group members. Together, they can do just about any task assigned to them.

"One aspect that's nice about HFH is they teach you construction skills as you work," Doyle said. "Usually there's one guy who is really skilled and he gives everyone sub tasks. Then, before the work is fully implemented, he'll do a spot check to make sure everything is constructed the way it should be."

Sometimes, it's Long or Doyle who fills the role of teacher and mentor.

"I think we provide community service on a variety of levels," Doyle said. "On our last construction site, we were able to teach some of the new guys about proper construction methods that they'll be able to use not only in future volunteer service, but also to improve their own homes. I really enjoy the teaching aspect of volunteering when the opportunities arise."

On a recent construction project, Long mentored other volunteers as a team attached roof trusses on a home, but he soaked up knowledge and skills on another part of the site.

Lindsey Desmarais Nubern, PPHFH volunteer manager said volunteers complete 90 percent of the work on each home the organization has built in El Paso County. Volunteers build foundations and floors, frame walls, install insulation, doors, windows and siding. They also and paint and complete roofs.

"The money we save in construction wages keeps the cost of the homes low for families and goes directly to supporting building of more homes for local families," Nubern said. "Air Force members have volunteered on 76 different days to build on PPHFH construction sites across the county and we could not accomplish our mission without their help. They are making the dream of home ownership come true for many local families."

To learn more information about volunteering as part of Schriever's PPHFH team contact Long at 567-4457.