Thursday, March 28, 2013

Joint Task Force builds skills, ties with RAF at unique exercise

by Tech. Sgt. Parker Gyokeres
621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

3/27/2013 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Units deploying to U.S. Transportation Command's Eagle Flag exercise at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst N.J., can expect to encounter austere field conditions, heated interaction with role players acting as difficult locals, and lots and lots of cargo.

But when air mobility specialists from the British Royal Air Force arrived to assume control of the airfield training area from the 621st Contingency Response Wing's 817th Contingency Response Group, it added a level of realism few anticipated.

"The Expeditionary Center set up an amazing scenario for us," said Col. David Kuenzli, Joint Task Force - Port Opening commander and commander of the 817th CRG. "There is no other venue like Eagle Flag besides an actual operation where you can train handing off to a follow on force to operate an airfield. Adding the complexity of a coalition partnership to the mix forced our team to address questions we would never have thought to ask."

Traditionally, contingency response forces assume they will handoff operations to a mobility type of operation conducted by a U.S. team with the same capabilities. Kuenzli said they were reminded during this week's exercise this was a bad assumption.

"Our doctrine tells us we will be able to hand off to any type of air operation," he explained. "It might be combat air forces centric; it might be strike, or surveillance. What the British did is they came in and announced they were planning to use the air mobility location we had established for a close air support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance base.

"That forced us to think about how to run an airfield with both large cargo mobility aircraft, as well as small fast attack and unmanned platforms. Weapons storage and loading areas, airspace management for unmanned vehicles, and noise concerns with local populations were all things I considered before. Those were questions we could never have answered without face-to-face planning with our coalition partners."

The RAF was integrated into the large Eagle Flag scenario in two phases.

The British Expeditionary Air Wing is in the process of building their own contingency response organization, so for the first half of the week they were out in the field as observers and asked questions about how Air Mobility Command conducts its contingency response operations.

"On the last operational day of our exercise, our RAF observers returned as role players for the follow-on force who would assume control of the airfield operation the JTF-PO had established," said Kuenzli. "At that point it became a sharing of experience and information between coalition partners with a common goal."

The process wasn't as simple as handing the keys to the airfield over and getting on a plane, explained squadron leader Jim McGhee, RAF Expeditionary Air Wing training officer from RAF High Wycombe. His role as a member of the visiting training team was to prepare training programs for the Royal Air force equivalent of the U.S. Air Force's Contingency Response Wing. There was a lot of information that needed to be transferred and translated into the force structures used by the RAF.

There was a lot of surveying and examination, to include force protection, intelligence and manpower, McGhee explained.

"When we arrive, we will need to quickly go out and gather all of the data to fully understand what our EAW will need to continue the mission, to include force protection, intelligence and logistics," McGhee said. "Then we had to bring it in and put it all on the table and come up with a plan together for a smooth transition of airfield authority.

"In addition, this is an austere base where you bring everything you need to operate," McGhee continued. "This opened our eyes to the fact we won't always be working in an established base and will need to overcome a new set of challenges to just get operations up to speed."

Despite the challenges, McGhee saw the foundation of a strong partnership.

"A lot of the ways we do business is very similar," he said. "We share the philosophy every Airman is a warfighter first, and performing multiple jobs is essential to mission accomplishment."

Kuenzli agreed, and added that finding common ground is vital to working with outside agencies and even partner and coalition nations.

"The hardest thing about working in a team is identifying common ground and keeping conversations, agreements and coordination inside those boundaries," Kuenzli said. "It's easy with the RAF since we share a similar culture and many of the same methods of operation. But some nations are very different in the ways they operate and the priorities they have during operations. Finding the common ground and the red lines is much trickier, but the only way to learn these skills is to practice them together."

Kuenzli sees this as the beginning of a partnership that will grow to help them create a contingency response force able to respond much like the 621 CRW.

"This event was great but it was only the first step," he said. "We spent a limited amount of time doing a tabletop discussion trying to highlight the capabilities each of us brought and the limitations each of us had and tried hard to close the gap between the two. It was very informative but it was also very short and mostly an academic session. The next step is to elevate it to a more robust event where we make our Airmen actually attempt to solve the problems we identified

"It was a true pleasure working with Wing Commander Roberts and his officers and men," Kuenzli concluded. "They were all consummate professionals and incredibly eager to learn. I hope we get to train together again, as our Airmen really enjoyed the opportunity to learn from them as well."

Air Force Exercise Eagle Flag is a USAF Chief of Staff directed exercise, supported by Air Mobility Command. The training is directed by the USAF Expeditionary Center and executed by the USAF EC Expeditionary Operations School located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

Eagle Flag is designed for developing, testing and rehearsing the expeditionary combat support library of capabilities. Traditionally an air base opening exercise, it has evolved into a proof of concept and mission rehearsal for joint task force-port opening, close the operating location, aeromedical evacuation operations, defense support to civil authorities, contingency response element integration, irregular warfare, humanitarian operations and other contingencies faced by our nation and its allies.

3RD WING welcomes Nahom as new commander

by Johnathon Green
JBER Public Affairs

3/28/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Air Force Col. David Nahom became the 3rd Wing commander in a change-of-command ceremony March 20 at Hangar 1 on JBER.

Nahom previously served as the executive officer to the commander, Pacific Air Forces, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

Nahom replaces Air Force Col. Dirk Smith, who has been the commander for the past 19 months. Smith was recently selected for promotion to brigadier general, and his next assignment is deputy director for operations at Headquarters, U.S. Pacific Command.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Stephen Hoog, commander of Alaskan Command and the 11th Air Force, serving as reviewing officer for the ceremony, welcomed Nahom in his remarks.
"You have big shoes to fill, but I know you'll be up to the task," Hoog said. "You're taking command of a professional, experienced and highly capable wing of dedicated Airmen, and I know they are ready to follow your lead.

"Your previous command tours of the 60th Fighter Squadron at Eglin [Air Force Base, Fla.], and the 18th Wing at Kadena [Air Base, Japan], have prepared you for this next challenge," the general continued. "As the nation tightens its belt and we rebalance some forces, one of your challenges will be to keep our edge razor-sharp to answer our nation's call when it comes, and I have no doubt you'll accomplish that mission."
Hoog highlighted Smith's accomplishments as the 3rd Wing commander.

"Your list of accolades is impressive and includes top of the Air Force markings as earning the best mission effectiveness rate for 2011, maintaining the best in the Air Force E-3 [Sentry] operational rate for 10 years and counting, your [Air Mobility Command] Rodeo Team was named Best C-17A [Globemaster III] Airdrop Crew, and the 3rd Maintenance Group garnered a 2011 LCAP 'Excellent' - the highest grade for a PACAF unit in two years."

Smith spoke about the contributions of the Airmen under his command as well as the JBER units who supported the wing.

"The 3rd Wing is absolutely incredible and the teamwork we have with the [673d Air Base Wing] and our total-force partners are second to none," Smith said. "Airmen of the 3rd Wing, thanks to you, a particular thanks to your families; thanks to your families for all the sacrifices that they make as you serve selflessly for our nation."

In his remarks, Nahom thanked the wing for the event.

"I have watched and admired from afar the amazing work this wing performs every day for our country," Nahom said. "This is, I believe, the greatest flying organization in our Air Force, and a large part of our county's ability to ensure continued peace and stability throughout the Pacific. I eagerly look forward to getting to know you, learn from you as we write the next chapter of the 3rd wing."

Nahom joined the Air Force in November 1988 as a specialized undergraduate navigator and has served in 17 assignments, four overseas and 13 stateside, including his tour here as the 3rd Wing commander.

Nahom earned a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Colorado. He is a graduate of the Squadron Officers 'School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.; Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; Master of Military Arts and Science from Fort Leavenworth; Air War College and NATO Defense College, Rome, Italy.

First term airman earns AF-level award

by Tech. Sgt. Jerome S. Tayborn
15th Wing Public Affairs

3/26/2013 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- A Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam first-term Airman was recently recognized as the Air Force Information Dominance Outstanding Cyber Surety Airman of the Year.

The top-level Air Force award recognizes Air Force officers, enlisted members, civilian employees, teams and units for superior performance while providing information dominance and cyberspace operations to the Air Force and Department of Defense missions and operations.

"I feel extremely honored to be recognized for my work that I have done and to show people what I am able to accomplish," said Senior Airman Andrew New, an information assurance officer for the 692nd Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance Group.

As the Information Assurance Officer, New directed Computer Security programs for three wings and 38 tenant organizations, where he overhauled their audit processes and implemented new training and inspection programs. He also led 12 COMSEC Staff Assistance Visits (SAV) which resulted in resolving 36 discrepancies.

Additionally, New established Information Assurance Officers monthly and quarterly checks, which helped to diffuse security risks and instill safeguards for more than 13,000 users. He also trained and certified 95 IAO's, where he provided stringent security guidance for 2,500 network systems and reducing their incident by 25 percent.

"My advice for anyone who is trying to be awarded an AF-level award is to worry about doing a good job at work, not striving to win awards," New said. "People notice good work when it is done. I love my job and the people I work with which makes me strive to give 100 percent one day at a time. And along with that comes awards and recognition."

New didn't receive top honors his first time up for the award yet, he continued to let his superior duty performance speak for itself.

"I didn't win the first time I went up for this award and I let that serve as a motivator for next year's award to do my best so I could receive the opportunity to compete again. The result of that was winning my command's Information Dominance Outstanding Cyber Surety Airman of the Year two years in a row and then winning at the AF level," said New.

According to Master Sgt. Nicholas Horton, 1st Special Operations Command Squadron, Emission Security (EMSEC) manager and New's former supervisor, New was always a reliable Airmen. "We were very impressed with his consistent ability to overcome obstacles in a wing position. He exceeded all expectations every time we handed him a tough situation," said Horton.

"In fact, he constantly was reminding others of things that needed to be done when there was a slow day in the office, just to help keep us ahead of the game. His other supervisors and I really never had to come to him and ask him to find something to do. I could easily see him progressing as a future chief master sergeant. He is already off to a great start," said Horton.

U.S., South Korea Committed to Peace, Hagel Says

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2013 – The long-standing relationship with South Korea is particularly important to the United States, especially in light of the recent actions by North Korea, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today.

At a joint Pentagon press conference with Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Hagel stressed that the United States and its allies are prepared to address any threat to the Asia-Pacific.

“We -- the United States, South Koreans, all of the nations … in that region of the world -- are committed to a pathway to peace. And the North Koreans seem to be headed in a different direction here,” Hagel said.

Joint exercises held earlier this month were intended to assure regional allies “that they can count on us to be prepared and to help them deter conflict,” Dempsey said.

On Monday, North Korean media announced that long-range artillery and strategic rocket units were ordered to prepare to deploy to areas near the South Korean border.

“I think their very provocative actions and belligerent tone, it has ratcheted up the danger, and we have to understand that reality,” Hagel said.

South Korean Army Gen. Jeong Sung-jo, the chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, and U.S. Army Gen. James D. Thurman, the commander of U.S.-Republic of Korea Combined Forces Command, announced March 24 that they had signed a combined plan to counter threats from North Korea.

The chairman noted that, as a commander of a United Nations command, Thurman is responsible for maintaining the armistice between the two Koreas.

“So he has to have not only visibility and transparency, but he has to have influence in the process of managing the potential for conflict on the peninsula,” Dempsey said. A result of two years of discussions, the combined counter-provocation plan establishes a framework for how that influence will be handled, he added.

Uncertainty surrounding the intentions of the North Korean government and its president Kim Jong Un is not the primary issue for the region, Hagel said. But, he added, “We have to take seriously every provocative, bellicose word and action that this new, young leader has taken so far since he's come to power.”

North Korea’s leaders have a history of ratcheting up tensions in the region to create more favorable conditions for the country, Hagel said. Whether or not that is currently the case, he added, the United States still has to be prepared to respond to contingencies in the region.

“But the fact is that this is the wrong way to go,” Hagel said. “The action that he's taken and the actions they've taken and the words he's used, it is not going to project a more responsible, accountable relationship.”

Hagel: Partnerships Lay Groundwork for Contingency Responses

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2013 – Established military and diplomatic partnerships set the tone when it comes time to defend international allies, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today.
The recent rapprochement between NATO member Turkey and major non-NATO ally Israel was critically important to the region, Hagel said during a joint Pentagon press conference with Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“It does affect Syria,” he said. “It does affect the neighbors in developing more confidence, I would suspect, among the neighbors in that area that Turkey and Israel will once again begin working together on some of these common interests.”

On Wednesday, NATO announced the appointment of Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom to lead a commission examining whether Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons in Syria.
“He does possess chemical weapons,” Hagel said. “It is dangerous. It is real. And we've got to deal with that eventuality and how we would respond to it.”

The take-away is that the United States is working with its international partners, through NATO and other alliances, to address the complex challenge posed by Syria, Dempsey said.
“We … have collaborative planning efforts underway with each of them, not just uniquely for the possibility of chemicals, but also for other eventualities,” he said. Those include the loss of control of heavy air defense weapons, refugee or humanitarian assistance requirements, and the defense of Turkey and Jordan, Dempsey added.

“So we've got any number of contingency plans. And each of them -- each of them at some level rely upon regional partners to help us figure this out,” he noted.

Addressing tensions elsewhere in the world, Hagel said the NATO agreement made last summer in Chicago is guiding the drawdown in Afghanistan, exactly as intended. The transition was designed to be an orderly, step-by-step process, he said, and each interim agreement “gets us to eventually where we all want to go, a peaceful transition, a transition that will hopefully put Afghanistan in a position to have a peaceful, prosperous future.”

“It's jaggedy, raggedy, not easy, up and down, but we're on track,” Hagel said. “Afghanistan's a sovereign nation. And we want them to be a strong sovereign nation with a significant future.”
Other countries with interests in regions where the U.S. has strategic interests -- like the Asia-Pacific -- can’t be ignored, Hagel said. Regional interests must be factored into long-term relationships, he said.

“The key to relationships with great powers is common interest. You anchor relationships around common interests. You don't start with your differences. And that's what we'll continue to do,” Hagel said.