Military News

Monday, April 01, 2013

New Complex to Support Stratcom’s 21st-century Missions

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb., April 1, 2013 – In the movie, “Field of Dreams,” a Midwestern farmer built a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield, convinced that if he did so, the old-time ball players would come.


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Defense Department and state of Nebraska officials formally break ground for U.S. Strategic Command’s new home at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., Oct. 12, 2012. The $524.4 million, 915,876 square-foot facility is expected to be completed in 2016 and move-in ready in 2018. DOD photo by Steve Cunningham
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The exact opposite happened here at U.S. Strategic Command, where new missions and the technologies to support them came one after another, before the shovel ever hit the dirt to make way for them.

Today, Stratcom is bursting from the seams in a headquarters building built in the mid-1950s to accommodate telephones and grease boards, but challenged to deliver 21st-century capabilities that demand state-of-the-art technology systems, Kenneth Calicutt, director of the command’s Resources and Integration and Program Management Office, told American Forces Press Service.

Peek under the ceiling tiles or beneath the floorboards at the Curtis E. LeMay Building, he observes, and you’ll find a riot of multicolored wires, all added over the decades to accommodate new technologies as they were introduced.

Meanwhile, Stratcom’s historic mission, nuclear defense, expanded to include new responsibilities: space, cyber space, missile defense and intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance, among them. All required their own supporting systems and technologies that were incorporated into the headquarters building.

“The infrastructure from the 1950s doesn’t support the global problems we’ve been tasked to support,” Calicutt said. “In today’s world, global planning and global overwatch is primarily communications-driven, but the command’s infrastructure was never set up to accommodate [that].”

So just across the street, in the middle of what was once Offutt Air Force Base’s golf course, a new Stratcom command-and-control complex is slowly taking shape.

Ground was broken for the new facility in October, with Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler, Stratcom’s commander, heralding a new milestone in the command’s history.

“The capabilities this facility will provide put us on a path to the future -- a future that secures America and our allies from information-age threats with information-age systems and capabilities,” Kehler told participants at the ceremony.

The new, nearly 1 million-square-foot facility, expected to be completed in 2016 and move-in ready by 2018, will transform the way Stratcom operates, said Robert Madden, program coordinator for the new facility.

Because its networks are being designed from the ground up, they’ll be complementary, rather than stove-piped and often competing systems, he said. Meanwhile, the facility will provide redundancies not available in the current headquarters because the systems were never designed to back up each other.

“This building is an opportunity for us to sort all that out so we can operate more efficiently,” Madden said.
That will have a major impact on Stratcom’s ability to plan and execute its missions, Calicutt said, enabling leaders to better leverage technology to increase their situational and operational awareness.

“Today’s missions require much better information, but you can’t use that better information if you don’t have the [information technology] infrastructure to support it,” he said. “The new command and control complex will provide that infrastructure that is truly the foundation of this command as we plan and conduct missions that require us to be ready to execute on a moment’s notice -- 24/7/365, every minute of every hour of every day.”

The Air Force is funding the project, with the Army Corps of Engineers in charge of construction. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific is responsible for the information technology systems engineering.
“So this is definitely a joint effort here: an Air Force project being constructed by an Army organization and outfitted by a Navy organization,” Madden said. “And when it’s completed, all will benefit from the increased capability it provides.”

"The Aviators" comes to Tinker, highlights KC-135, E-3 missions

by Senior Airman Mark Hybers
507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


3/28/2013 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.  -- A crew from the popular television series "The Aviators" came to here March 20-21 to highlight the KC-135 Stratotanker and the E-3 Sentry missions for an upcoming episode airing this fall.

The film crew of four spent two days at Tinker filming the KC-135 and E-3 missions in order to highlight the Guard, Reserve and active duty components and the specific mission capabilities of the jets and crews.

Airmen from the 507th Air Refueling Wing, 513th Air Control Group, 552nd Air Control Wing and Oklahoma Air National Guard's 137th Air Refueling Wing were active participants.

The film crew hailing out of Toronto, Canada, came prepared for the type of fast paced, cramped filming needed to effectively demonstrate what the men and women do without hindering any part of the KC-135 or E-3 missions.

"Executing the schedule for the film crew took a total force effort of Guard, Reserve and active duty. We had a lot of support from both sides of the flight line." said Capt. Jon Quinlan, 507th ARW Public Affairs chief. "This documentary coverage will play a huge role in communicating our Air Force missions to the public and recruiting our future aviators. Plus it didn't cost us a penny"

Within five minutes of arriving at the front gate, the crew unloaded and began filming 507th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron members while they worked on a KC-135.

"We were really surprised at how efficient the maintenance process seemed to be," said Anthony Nalli, executive producer. "They were all in different areas working on different things at the same time. They seemed to be a very cohesive team."

Devin Lund, director of photography, who has been with the show since season one, was quite surprised at the size of the aircraft. "There is going to be a ton of great video here," Lund said.

The Aviators crew filmed mission briefs and pre-flight inspections on both the KC-135 and E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System to get a feel for what goes into these missions before the aircraft leave the ground.

Major Mark Povec, 465th Air Refueling Squadron pilot, explained to the film crew what's it's like to be part of a KC-135 crew.

"The film crew was outstanding when it came to the interview. It was great to highlight our ops and maintenance teams." said Povec. "All around it was a good experience."

A highlight during the filming for Megen Andersen, production coordinator, was finding out more about the boom operator position.

"I was really surprised how intense the boom operator's position is," she said. "He or she has to be so precise and attentive during the mission while working on their stomach in a small office."

The "Aviator" series focuses on interesting people, the latest aircraft and coolest technology, both civilian and military. It's currently filming for the fourth season, set to air this fall.

The series airs weekly in the United States with an audience of over 9.3 million in almost 3.6 million television households as reported by Nielsen ratings during the show's second season. Additionally, the show has more than 2 million views or downloads via popular online video subscription sites.

While the show mainly airs on the Public Broadcasting Service, the show is now running in some areas on the Discovery Channel.

The episode filmed here is expected to air sometime in October, according to the producers.

Homestead F-16s make history at Combat Hammer

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


3/29/2013 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Airmen from Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., showcased their talent and skills at Combat Hammer, a weapons system evaluation program used to determine the validity of munitions products and processes, March 18 through 22.

In the process, the 160 Airmen helped make history by doing something no other unit has done since the program started in 1985.

"The 482nd dropped more bombs in a single day during Combat Hammer than any other F-16 unit in the Air Force participating in the evaluation, ever," said Lt. Col. Scott Briese, Commander, 482nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

The ability to coordinate 160 Airmen and 12 F-16 fighter jets and turn out a history making day was the result of numerous people working together in various jobs.

"The group of Airmen deployed encompasses a wide range of support staff, mechanical experts, munitions staff, and support staff," said Briese. "These Airmen have been exceptional. They have met every challenge by exceeding expectations and performing whatever jobs needed."

Planning and preparation for the deployment required considering all the needed parts for the mission.

"Coordination for this assignment required preparing Airmen for deployment, scheduling training, transporting equipment and troops, and so much more," said Tech. Sgt. Tara Austin, 482nd Operations Group unit deployment manager.

From preparing the munitions, loading weapons, preparing the jets, flying, and recovering, all 160 Airmen deployed played a role.

"Combat Hammer is an excellent place for aircraft maintenance to hone their skills," said Senior Airman Jose Rocha, 482nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. "We're able to ensure the safety of each jet by paying attention to details and consulting technical orders."

While the testing checks the munitions and processes, each experience offers the Airman an opportunity to train.

"As pilots, we are practicing our accuracy," said Maj. Mark Van Brunt, 93rd Operations Squadron Chief of Weapons. "There are specific targets and our job is to hit those targets."

After recovering the aircraft from flying, ensuring the safety requires thoroughly examining all parts.

"I crawl into the intake of the F-16 to check for cracks," said Tech. Sgt. Elizabeth Sarabia, 482nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron inspector. "Once inside, I investigate possible scratches or cracks on parts."

Regardless of the job, each Airman played a crucial role in ensuring the success of the mission. From those that keep track of the parts of the aircraft, supply fuel to the jet, fix and sometimes create parts to the munitions crew loading bombs, the crew chiefs launching the jets, and the pilots flying them, every part of the process was crucial to making it work.

6th CMSAF offers words of hope to Team Buckley

by Senior Airman Christopher Gross
460th Space Wing Public Affairs


3/28/2013 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The sixth chief master sergeant of the Air Force paid a visit while he was in Colorado to Team Buckley members who gathered March 26 in the fitness center for an enlisted call.
Chief Master Sgt. William Ward, 460th Space Wing command chief, introduced retired Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James McCoy as a chief that "led in a time when there were challenges in our Air Force -- challenges in our military that kind of represent where we're at today."

McCoy currently resides outside Omaha, Neb. near Offutt Air Force Base, where he routinely gets involved with the base from time to time. McCoy said it's an honor to still be a part of today's Air Force and his opinions are still taken into account as the Air Force keeps their former senior enlisted leaders involved. He then compared current times to when he joined in 1951 during the Korean War era.

During McCoy's career, as a radar operator and instructor, he saw firsthand many drawbacks as are currently being seen with sequestration and cuts.

"Believe me, this isn't the first time we've been through something like this," McCoy said.
He said he can remember downsizing after the Korean War, the Cold War and the Gulf War and this is nothing new.

The former CMSAF said as the Air Force continues to get through some serious cuts, it needs to be cautious as to how much downsizing is being done. Some of those cuts, such as the ones being looked at for professional military education, cause "a great deal of concern," as members need to be well equipped to continue to be successful. He said he felt confident that no major decisions would be made as leadership understands the importance of the enlisted force development and PME.

Something that has been pleasing to him though, is the reversal of tuition assistance. McCoy said it was a hard decision, but due to circumstances it wasn't much of a choice.

"What made me feel so good is when the Congress of the United States stood up and said, 'No. You will not do that. We will find the money,'" McCoy said. "That says an awful lot to me about how the Congress and the American people feel about our military services."

The biggest thing McCoy said he wants service members to understand is that none of the cuts being made are easy. There's a lot of thought which goes into every decision.

Repurposed simulators provide new training opportunity

by Airman Veronique Henry
30th Space Wing Public Affairs


3/28/2013 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 532nd Training Squadron has recently improved hands-on training for their students.

In February, the squadron received four Air Launched Cruise Missiles Simulators from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. After the simulators underwent operation test evaluations, students finally had the chance to use them March 27.

"We have needed new simulators for years," said Senior Master Sgt. Gregory Gallup, 532nd Squadron superintendent. "When I was first here as an instructor back in 1996 my first question was, when will they be replaced and changed? Our old simulators are worn-out and not realistic for training.'"

Leadership was concerned with the training quality that students were receiving and acted accordingly.

"We requested the simulators in 2007 at a utilization training workshop," said Barbara Lefebvre, 532nd Squadron Training Manager. "In 2010 the request was approved."
Although there were stalls with request after it was approved, the simulators eventually arrived.

"These simulators are vital and needed," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Garcia, 532nd Squadron Instructor. "They help train the students for what they'll be doing in the field. We focus hours on end on theory but until students have hands-on training they aren't fully prepared to do their job. The instructors are really excited to have these."

The students also appreciated receiving the simulators.

"I have trouble just looking at a book," said Airman Saskia Miller, 532nd Squadron Student. "With the simulators you can see what you're actually learning. I try to use caution like I'm using a real missile."

As for the Squadron's old simulators, Air Force Global Strike Command is paying to have them shipped and will use them for other purposes.

Disabled Veterans Sports Clinic Opens in Colorado

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo., April 1, 2013 – An Iraq war veteran now serving as a senior Department of Veterans Affairs official opened the world’s largest and longest-running disabled sports event here last night, and he challenged almost 400 veterans to reach for new heights through teamwork and mental and physical toughness.

“We all know the importance of sports and the incredible results that they can play in not only healing our minds and bodies, but our spirits as well,” Tommy Sowers, VA assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs, told participants at opening ceremonies for the 27th annual National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic.

“Sports are more than just activity and competition,” he said. “They improve us, they teach us, they challenge us and make us stronger -- and they do it in ways that we cannot imagine.”

Sowers urged the participants, including many that were wounded during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, to push their limits as they tackle events designed to help them discover new abilities.
“It is you and the mountain,” he said. “Good luck. Have a wonderful week -- with determination, with toughness, and with joy.”

The clinic, co-sponsored by VA and the Disabled American Veterans, is open to U.S. military veterans with disabilities ranging from spinal cord injuries and orthopedic amputations to visual impairment and neurological conditions.

During the six-day program, veterans learn adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing and are introduced to rock climbing, scuba diving, trapshooting, snowmobiling, sled hockey and other sports and activities.

But Larry Polzin, the DAV national commander, emphasized that the clinic is no vacation.

“You came here with a mission. Your job is to learn something new [and] to take that and make the most of it,” Polzin told the veterans. “When you leave here, it is going to be a totally different feeling for you.”

Those new discoveries will remain with the participants and help in their rehabilitation long after they return to their communities, Sower told American Forces Press Service.

“These sorts of events are absolutely critical, not just for the one week that they are here, but for the 51 other weeks [of the year] as well,” he said. “We see the benefits going forward -- not just for the veterans themselves, but also for their caregivers and families.”

As the veterans cheer on and inspire each other during the winter sports clinic, Sowers said they’re also setting an example for others.

He noted, for example, that disabled athletes around the world benefit from adaptive equipment pioneered at the winter sports clinic, and the techniques taught here.

Sowers offered high praise to the DAV, the Snowmass Village and Aspen communities, and the hundreds of volunteers and sponsors who come together to make the clinic a success.

“It is not an example, it is THE example of the right type of public-private-local partnership,” he said.

Military Child Month Salutes Children’s Contributions

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 1, 2013 – During April’s Month of the Military Child, the Defense Department recognizes the support provided by and sacrifices made by military children, said Barbara Thompson, director of DOD’s office of family policy/children and youth.

Since 1983, DOD has recognized military children for the support they provide to their families. There are now 1.8 million children in the military system, Thompson said.

“Military children, youth and teens are an integral part of their military parent because they stand by them, they’re proud of them, they recognize their sacrifices and they take on additional responsibilities to meet the needs of their families,” she said.

Military children also receive national-level recognition, Thompson said. Following a presidential study directive in January 2011, she said, the cabinet secretaries signed a letter of support from their departments to military communities.

Based on that directive, DOD has partnered with the Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to increase the availability of high-quality child care off the installation, she said, adding that 66 percent of military families live off base.

Thompson said she hopes civilian communities will also reach out to military children.

“Our military children are embedded in their school systems and their neighborhoods,” she said.

Military installations will celebrate the Month of the Military Child with activities such as parades, face painting, carnivals and other events that children enjoy, Thompson said. Activities information, she said, will be available through base newspapers, youth centers, child development center and family support centers.
Even though the number of children with a deployed parent has decreased because of the U.S. military’s drawdown in Afghanistan, military families continue to face deployments, humanitarian missions and training, Thompson said.

Regardless of the mission, military families are separated during times of holidays and children’s birthdays, she said.

“That’s why we recognize that children serve, too,” Thompson said.

AFNIC engineers play key role in CSAF's Unified Engagement 2012 Wargame

by Mark Hizer
Air Force Network Integration Center


3/28/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- For the Air Force Space Command's Air Force Network Integration Center Dynamic Network Analysis (DNA) team, the future is always now. That's because engineers Keith Jeffery, Sameep Sanghavi and Matt Schramm are experts in performing analysis and designing communications models and cyber simulations to support Air Force wargames that envision the world as it might be 12 years from today.

For the past eight years, the AFNIC DNA team has played a crucial role in Unified Engagement (UE), a series of wargames held in two-year cycles at the direction of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. The purpose of the wargames is threefold: first, to educate, train and equip current and future leaders so they're better-prepared to develop strategies and make critical decisions in wartime; second, to test the effectiveness of new technologies and concepts, and third, to provide input to the CSAF based on findings from game play to support and validate AF programs.

Planning for Unified Engagement 2012 (UE 12) began almost two years ago, with a variety of scenario development and partnership-building activities culminating in a capstone event that took place Dec. 3-14, 2012 near Ramstein Air Base in Germany. More than 300 military and civilian representatives from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Poland, Italy, France, Denmark and the Netherlands participated.

Early in 2011, even though UE 10 had just concluded, Jeffery, Sanghavi and Schramm were already hard at work preparing for UE 12. Their focus: analyzing requirements and developing a comprehensive worldwide model to demonstrate the critical role of cyber capabilities in the scenarios to be played out during the event.

"With our experience and successful involvement in past UE events, we felt AFNIC was uniquely qualified to not only model communications for the games, but to provide critical, insightful analysis of how it affects critical capabilities such as Command and Control (C2); Missile Defense; and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)," said Jeffery, AFNIC's DNA team and wargames lead. "If those capabilities are impaired, the ability to fight a war can be significantly degraded."

In the months leading up to the capstone event the AFNIC team studied all aspects of cyber, from the location and capacity of the primary "backbones" of the worldwide terrestrial network, to the types of airborne and space assets that could be realistically placed in theater where UE 12 conflicts unfolded. Once this was determined, they considered every possible occurrence that could adversely impact cyber capabilities, for example, an undersea fiber cable suddenly failing.

According to Jeffery, two specific objectives for UE 12 were: to see how effectively participants could deal with two major conflicts happening simultaneously; and to analyze how new concepts such as the Joint Aerial Layer Network (JALN), a high-capacity aerial communications "backbone," can enable better integration of space, land, sea and air assets.

Helping the players of the wargame understand the realities of cyber--what's possible and what's not--was a key role for AFNIC's DNA team.

"We assisted participants in prioritizing their mission needs and better defining their communications requirements based on the scenarios to be played out," said Matt Schramm, Lead Model Engineer. "Then we helped them understand exactly what capabilities they can expect to have available as they plan and execute the moves of the wargame,"added Sameep Sanghavi, Wargames Software Development Lead.

At the capstone event, UE 12 "players" were divided into multiple teams with varying roles, including the "Blue" coalition team, the "Red" team representing the enemy, and a "Yellow" team serving as adjudicators to determine the effectiveness and impact of each move by the Blue and Red teams during the game.

Jeffery was a member of the Yellow adjudication team, where his role included providing technical support for the sophisticated models the AFNIC DNA team developed for use during the game. In addition to his Yellow team responsibilities, he also served as a "Trusted Agent", consulting separately with both the Blue and the Red teams on cyber-related issues.

Wargame moves were delivered as PowerPoint slides displaying the actions taken in response to the continually changing scenarios. After the "good guys" (Blue team) and "bad guys" (Red team) submitted their moves, the Yellow adjudication team evaluated the moves and provided a revised "view of the world" for the next move sequence. Throughout the game, player moves emulated rational actions that combatants could employ given similar real-world circumstances.

"Our efforts for UE 12 and over the past eight years in previous wargames have served to highlight the critical role cyber plays on the battlefield. We've helped ensure that senior leaders view cyber as an essential capability, and that it is in fact a major and vital weapon system." said Jeffery.

The UE 12 Capstone event concluded with a comprehensive briefing with all 300 participants on lessons learned, including key communications findings.

One indication that that cyberspace is a key warfighting domain and a critical enabler is reflected by a comment made by a senior leader during the briefing. Lt. General Craig A. Franklin, Commander, 3rd Air Force, said, "In the future I think comm [Cyber] is going to win wars!"

Col. Rizwan Ali, AFNIC Commander, echoed this sentiment, highlighting how the importance of cyber continues to grow.

"The last two games have seen an increase in cyber play and the havoc it can cause on so many levels," said Ali. "We're proud to be part of a mission to help prepare our senior leaders to manage such dire situations with confidence."

Little: U.S. Seeks ‘Peace and Stability’ on Korean Peninsula

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

WASHINGTON, April 1, 2013 – The U.S. will continue to conduct military exercises such as Foal Eagle 2013 with South Korea as part of its commitment to that nation and its desire to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said here today.

Speaking to reporters, Little emphasized the United States’ commitment to peace and stability in the region, and discussed North Korea’s recent provocations.

“The focus of our military exercises, and what we’ve been saying publicly, is all about alliance assurance,” he said.

“It’s about showing the South Koreans that we are deeply committed to our alliance with them,” Little said. “We’re committed to their defense, committed to the defense of our forces in South Korea and we’re also committed to peace and stability in the region.”

Little noted that two F-22 Raptors, as previously planned, have deployed from Kadena Air Base, Japan, to Osan Air Base, South Korea, to participate in the two-month-long Foal Eagle exercise which began March 1.

“This exercise has been planned for some time and is part of the air component of the Foal Eagle exercise,” he said.

And as part of U.S. Pacific Command’s theater security package, Little said, deployments of U.S. Air Force fighters to the Pacific region have occurred since March 2004, allowing for a more “prudent deterrent capability and combat-ready forces.”

And the dispatch of F-22 Raptors to participate in this year’s Foal Eagle exercise in South Korea “strengthens the Pacific Command’s military interoperability with the Republic of Korea,” he said.
“We believe that this exercise has been extremely successful in shoring up our cooperation with our South Korean allies,” Little said, “and we’ll continue to engage with them closely.”

Little said exercises in South Korea “send an important signal, not only to South Korea, but to friends like Japan. So that is the focus of our recent efforts.”

Little said North Korea has a choice of continuing to “engage in provocations with bellicose, over-heated, irresponsible rhetoric,” or choosing a path of peace.

“We think it’s time for them to switch lanes,” he said. “We seek peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. And we think that’s in the best interests of everyone in the region.”

North Korea has recently engaged in “rhetoric and recent actions that are self-defeating and isolating for the North Koreans,” Little said.

North Korea could decide to play a constructive role in the region, but it has decided to play an unconstructive role, Little said.

“And we believe that should change,” he said.

Little said he could envision “any number of scenarios” where other countries might pursue dialogue with North Korea if they changed course.

“The regrettable fact is, at this point, they have shown a propensity toward provocation, and not toward constructive behavior or words,” he said.

North Korea needs to “come into compliance with their international obligations,” Little said, including their nuclear and missile programs.

“I can envision any number of scenarios under which, if they acted constructively and abided by their obligations, that the United States would consider, at some point, talking to them about a whole range of issues, to include nuclear issues,” he said.

Little reiterated it is the United States’ goal to preserve peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula while engaging in “alliance assurance.”

“The choice is really for North Korea to make,” he said. “They can be a constructive player or they can continue to be [a] … regime that acts and speaks irresponsibly.”

Hagel Hosts Singapore's Prime Minister at Pentagon

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 1, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel hosted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore for a working lunch at the Pentagon today, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.


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U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, hosts an honor cordon and working lunch for Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Pentagon, April 1, 2013. The two leaders met to discuss issues of mutual concern. DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"The meeting was an opportunity for Secretary Hagel to hear the Prime Minister's views on regional security issues, including how nations can work with one another to peacefully resolve territorial issues in the East and South China Seas,” Little said.

Hagel thanked the Prime Minister for Singapore's strong ties of friendship and close collaboration on a number of shared interests, including Afghanistan, counterpiracy and counterproliferation efforts, Little said.

The secretary also thanked the Prime Minister for hosting up to four forward-deployed littoral combat ships on a rotational basis in Singapore, Little said. The first of these ships, the USS Freedom, he said, is currently en route to Singapore and will arrive later this month.

"Secretary Hagel made clear the United States and the Department of Defense remain committed to the rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific region,” Little said, “and that in the future there will be even more opportunities for closer collaboration between the United States and Singapore.”

Little said Hagel accepted an invitation from the prime minister to travel to Singapore for the Shangri-La dialogue next month.

“Secretary Hagel looks forward to visiting with allies and partners from around the region and addressing the conference," Little said.

Silent flight makes 'boom' in refueling mission

by 2nd Lt. David J. Murphy
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs


4/1/2013 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Four KC-10 Extenders from the 305th Air Mobility Wing fly to a rendezvous point to meet with four KC-135 Stratotankers from the 6th Air Mobility Wing, out of MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. The KC-10s and the KC-135s flew to a designated point in a straight line a mile behind and 1000 feet above the preceding aircraft, in what is known as an En route-Trail Formation.
The two sets of aircraft then shifted 60 degrees to the right placing two miles of open air between each other in their respective formations. The aircrews began the air-refueling portion of the mission with miles between each other.

The KC-10 pilots took the aircraft off autopilot approximately a mile away from the KC-135s, and with all checklists complete, proceeded to fly toward the KC-135s, stopping 50 feet to stabilize. The KC-10 pilots then approached the KC-135s at about one-foot per second until the two aircraft were 10 feet apart.

The four KC-135s boom operators then lowered their booms to the KC-10s to begin the refueling portion of the mission. The aircraft conducted this maneuver in a 6,000-foot moving bubble of protected airspace between 24,000 and 30,000 feet above ground.

The KC-135 boom operators then moved their 15-foot booms into an approximate eight-inch air refueling receptacle on the KC-10s. The aircraft must stay connected for the duration of the refueling operation which takes approximately 15 minutes to transfer 13,000 gallons of jet propellant 8, while both aircraft maintain speeds in excess 420 mph. The KC-10 maintained this stable position while fighting turbulence and other weather conditions.

The KC-10s then perform a Waterfall Maneuver once the refueling operation was complete. This extremely precise maneuver involved the KC-10s slowly backing away from the KC-135s, one after another, beginning with the lead aircraft, and reforming back into En route-Trail Formation. Without precise timing, and attention to detail, aircraft could collide during this maneuver.

A mission like this requires precise timing, planning and execution and can test the mettle of any aircrew under normal circumstances. Now imagine performing this intricate mission in complete radio silence.

Student pilots from the 305th Operation Group's KC-10 Flying Training Unit, and members of the 32nd and 2nd Air Refueling Squadrons, conducted this radio-silent training mission, known as an Emissions Control 3 (EMCON III) large-formation operation, March 19, 2013.

The 6 hour-long EMCON III training mission is designed to enable pilots to deliver an air-strike package undetected while flying into hostile enemy airspace.

EMCON III is one of four EMCON statuses. EMCON I is completely open transmission. EMCON II limits voice communication reducing it completely while certain aircraft are in range. EMCON III restricts all radio communication and allows aircrew to use only specific emitters, such as transponder codes and navigational aids. EMCON IV limits all radio communication and emitter use.

"All aircraft emit infrared and electromagnetic energy through their engines, radios, radar, navigational aids and transponder codes," said Maj. Todd Swanhart, 305th Operational Support Squadron tactics KC-10 chief. "Radios put out the most useful energy to the enemy because it gives them direct information about the nature of the mission through voice communication, so we practice EMCON missions to prevent unnecessary emissions when needed during real-world scenarios."

An EMCON III mission requires a very high level of preparation and planning because timing is everything, explained Swanhart, who hails from Johnstown, Pa.

"It's a ballet in the sky and it's choreographed just like a dance," Swanhart said.

The 305th OG has worked with multiple wings to re-emphasize the strategic importance of flying in an EMCON-restricted environment, but the 305th AMW has taken the lead on refining this skillset and mission, Swanhart explained.

"We are literally writing the tactics, techniques and procedures for operating in a restricted environment," said Swanhart. "Eighty percent of JB MDL tanker aircrews have been exposed to this and we're currently working to develop the program for the KC-135 weapons school and tankers across Air Mobility Command."

An EMCON III or IV mission can take an aircrew a week or more to prepare for because every phase of the flight needs to be meticulously thought out, due to the fact that no one is talking to one another other. Normal missions can be planned the day prior, Swanhart noted.

The pre-mission briefings are essential to successful missions and allow teams to identify crunch points, or areas in the mission that could cause problems, and resolve them ahead of time, explained Capt. Seth Pelletier, 32nd Air Refueling Squadron Chief of Tactics, and KC-10 pilot.

"I think an EMCON III or IV mission is easier than a regular mission because the complicated areas have been analyzed more thoroughly, but it demands a higher level of crew-resource management," said Pelletier, a China Village, Maine, native. "It forces air crews to push their comfort zones and identify holes in their plan before the mission brief. Last-minute contingencies require an experienced aircrew for a successful mission."

EMCON III or IV missions challenge every member of the aircrew and put their skills to the test, but are not impossible to complete.

"If you fly to what you're briefed, trust the lead, are a good wingman and backup the lead, then an EMCON mission can be flown flawlessly," Swanhart said.

EC honors veteran military painter

by Lt. Col. Laurie A. Arellano
U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center


4/1/2013 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Everyone in John Witt's art has a name, and every piece of art has a story. In fact, John Witt himself has a story, though he's reluctant to talk much about the man behind the latest contributions to Air Force Art Program's collection at the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center, March 15, 2013, here.

Officials unveiled eight works of art by three artists, including five by Witt, a military artist since 1963. Two of Witt's paintings will be permanently installed at the EC following Air Force CORONA, where all of the paintings will be turned over to the Air Force after being displayed for Air Force leadership.

"These are opportunities to educate," said Witt. "Seeing these pieces enables people to construct a larger picture of the Air Force story."

Witt's most recent works focused on the EC's training mission. He spent an initial visit at the EC sketching the people who represent many of the missions trained there, and then followed it up by traveling to Afghanistan to sketch people in those same missions doing their jobs in the theater.

"There's a historical significance," Witt said. "History is art."

Witt takes his contributions to history seriously. He's witnessed events that have steered his career as an artist from his 1963 enlistment in the Army and two Vietnam tours as a civilian commissioned by the Marines, to his recent tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and in Thailand during the Asian tsunami.

"The experience does something to you," Witt said.

In Vietnam, Witt sometimes had to resort to ink and spit sketches, and he carried a wood block in his map case to, he said, hopefully to protect him from shrapnel. He eventually carved it for one of his works.

"I wanted to record every aspect of what they did there," Witt said.

During the unveiling ceremony, Greg Hannon, EC chief registrar and unit historian, said the ceremony is an important reminder that military service is noble and worth remembering and art sustains our culture and contributes to our heritage.

"Paintings that were commissioned half-a-millennia ago still inspire to this very day," Hannon said. "Look at museums all over the world and people flock to see art, captured by the human hand and inspired by the human soul."

Hannon expressed the Air Force's gratitude to all of the artists who give their talents and time on a completely volunteer basis to help tell the Air Force story.

"There is something timeless and enduring about taking a piece of canvas, and through the God-given inspiration of the subject and the talent of the artist, something synergistic can be produced that speaks to the dignity of human beings and the human spirit," Hannon said.

During his 50 years and hundreds of paintings with the military art program, Witt has focused on the people not only of the Air Force, but also of the countries in which the Air Force is operating.

"My feeling is this is history," said Witt. "The country needs to see what the people of the military are doing in these countries.

Witt's paintings begin with a sketch. Something tells him to draw, and from there, a piece of art begins to take shape.

"The important thing is the concept," Witt explained. "What do I want to say with this piece?"

Every one of his thousands of sketches contains the names of the people he sketched and they're all signed by the person he sketched. Witt said he sketches people because they help tell the Air Force story.

"Sometimes a lot is written on the face," he said.

Even foreign civilians help educate people about what the Air Force is doing abroad. He wants people to get a feeling of the country the Air Force is operating in.

Sometimes he sees an opportunity to make a bigger statement or convey a message through the people he sketches and the environment he visits. Good art lets people bring in their own emotion and experiences and draw their own conclusions, Witt explained.

The Military Art Program began in the 18th century in the U.S. and continues today via the heritage programs of the five services. The artists deploy into a country, and with no instructions and no restrictions, create works that, unlike a photo taken in the moment and reliant completely on the time and place it is taken, are composites of their experiences and the statement they hope to make.

Maj. Gen. William Bender, EC commander, said at the unveiling ceremony all of the artists in the military art program are patriots, and that he was grateful for the paintings of Airmen they donated as a result of their time at the EC.

"The focus is on the people," Bender said, "where it should be."

McChord receives its final C-17

by Tech. Sgt. Sean Tobin
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


3/29/2013 - JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. -- Team McChord celebrated nearly 14 years of flying and maintaining the C-17 Globemaster III during a ceremony on the flightline here March 27, just moments after receiving its final C-17 delivery.

McChord received its first C-17 aircraft July 30, 1999. That aircraft, named "The Spirit of McChord," was also on hand for the most recent ceremony. Parked nose-to-nose on the ramp, the two aircraft provided the backdrop for the afternoon's event, which was attended by Airman and community leaders.

Since that first delivery in 1999, McChord C-17s have played a critical role supporting the nation's global airlift capability. C-17s based here have flown missions in a variety of operations, to include humanitarian relief and contingency operations.

"Whether it's bringing equipment and supplies to hurricane or earthquake victims, or dropping medical supplies at the South Pole or ammunition to soldiers in Afghanistan, for more than a decade, McChord Airmen have saved lives all over the world," said Col. Wyn Elder, 62nd Airlift Wing commander.

Lt. Gen. Darren McDew, 18th Air Force commander, and the plane's delivery official, echoed Elder's sentiments on the impact of the C-17 at McChord.

"While the C-17 has supported our commanders across the globe for nearly two decades, you have really made it shine here at McChord," McDew said. "Because of that, it is a privilege to bring this brand new aircraft to you."

In a gesture signifying the transfer of ownership of the C-17 to McChord, McDew handed over the aircraft's "keys" to Tech. Sgt. Justin Reeves, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief.

"As I turn over this aircraft, I charge you to do great things with it," McDew told the crowd. "And I have no doubt you wil