Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Vigilance, Readiness Drive Northcom Agenda, Priorities

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2013 – With a commitment to the “sacred trust” of defending the homeland, Army Gen. Charles H. “Chuck” Jacoby Jr., the commander of U.S. Northern Command, said the command is continuing to evolve along with the threats it stood up a decade ago to confront.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, right, talks with Norwegian Chief of Defense Staff Gen. Harald Sunde, left, about the commands’ homeland defense mission during a tour of the command headquarters, Feb. 13, 2013. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Underpinning everything Northcom does -- along with its close partner, the binational North American Aerospace Defense Command -- is a shared memory of the 9/11 terror attacks and a dedication to never let it happen again, Jacoby said during a telephone interview with American Forces Press Service.
“The headquarters and the people here -- quietly but determinedly -- remain committed to the idea that we are not going to let our people and the people of Canada be struck like that again,” he said. “We are going to do what it takes to defend the American people,” and under the NORAD charter, “the Canadian people as well.”

As the nature of the threat changes -- encompassing both state and nonstate actors capable of conventional as well as asymmetric attacks across air, space, land, maritime, and even cyber domains -- Jacoby said, Northcom and NORAD remain on a never-ending path to keep a step ahead.

That, he said, requires a balance of “paranoia and practicality” he described as acute situational awareness and the ability to “outthink those who would do us harm.”

“It really starts with the assumption that we still have plenty of folks that would like to do us harm in the homeland and have an increased capacity to do so,” he said. That is across all domains, he added, including cyberspace.

“Those are the kinds of things we stay focused on,” he said. “We do our job every day against the known threats and then advance ourselves to make sure we are making the right investments -- not just in stuff, but in partnerships and relationships that keep us ahead of the next threat.”

To ensure the commands are postured to confront this hybrid threat, and that Northcom is prepared to support civil authorities if needed in a disaster response, Jacoby has adopted five top command priorities to chart the way forward:
-- Expand and strengthen trusted partnerships;
-- Advance the binational military command;
-- Promote all-domain situational awareness;
-- Enhance capabilities to outpace threats; and
-- Maintain a focus on people.

Partnerships are vital to the dual commands’ endeavors, Jacoby said, particularly in light of clearly defined laws and policies that specify what military forces can and can’t do on U.S. soil.

“Actually, the security environment we want for our people can only be gained through a partnership of agencies across state, local and federal [organizations], both civilian and military,” he said. “It is not always necessary for us to lead anything, and it is not necessary for us to have a grand, overarching authority when we can bring together partners that have all the authorities and all the capability and all the legal sufficiency to get the job done.”

Northcom has made huge strides over the past 10 years in overcoming initial distrust of a military command focused on the United States, Jacoby said.

“That is fundamentally counterculture,” he acknowledged. “So over time, we have made it a matter of trust -- that our partners can trust us not to overstep our bounds, of not crowding folks who have missions in the safety and security lane, and of not being late to need when we are needed.”

Jacoby said he’s particularly proud of Northcom’s relationships with the National Guard, typically the first military responders during a state emergency, and with interagency law enforcement organizations.

A new dual-status command construct that designates a single commander to oversee both federal and state troops in support of civil authorities during disasters promotes faster, better-coordinated responses to hurricanes, wildfires and other crises, he said.

“We have got this wonderful, resilient country where our state and local authorities are accountable for and want to take care of their people, and people want to solve problems locally,” Jacoby said. “But when they need the Department of Defense to help, they usually really need it.

“So through our partnerships with the Guard and with [the Federal Emergency Management Agency], we have really closed the gap to ensure we are not late to need,” he said.

Jacoby offered a similar assessment of Northcom’s other partnerships across the interagency spectrum. He cited close ties built with the FBI, particularly since the 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, and with Customs and Border Protection and other law-enforcement organizations working along the Southwest U.S. border.

“They are eager for us to work with them, and I couldn’t be happier with the mutual benefit we gain from those partnerships,” Jacoby said. “That really does require trust and confidence in each other.”
Meanwhile, Jacoby noted continued progress in advancing the six-decade partnership of the United States and Canada through the binational NORAD command.

NORAD has evolved with the changing security landscape to stay relevant, he said, improving its processes while expanding its scope to include maritime as well as airborne threats.

“This is having a robust security dialogue with our best ally, Canada,” Jacoby said. “It is making sure that we are examining all the vulnerabilities to North America together, and that we are making assessments of those vulnerabilities, and then making sure that NORAD as a command is accountable to both the government of Canada and to the United States.”

All these efforts, Jacoby said, center on the men and women who make them happen.

“At the heart of it, a military organization is its people,” he said. “And I will tell you, walking around this headquarters and visiting the units that support NORAD and Northcom, it is really the quality and commitment and vigilance of our people that gets the mission done.”

Jacoby said he feels so strongly about the importance of Northcom’s small complement of assigned forces and its civilian workforce that he’s made them one of his top command priorities.

Keeping faith with people and keeping them informed takes on particular significance during tight budget times, pending furloughs and the longer-term impacts of a major military drawdown after a decade of conflict, he said.

“This might be the infantryman in me, but we have always depended on our people, and not our stuff, to get our jobs done,” Jacoby said. Bad decisions made today will send the most talented workers and most promising future leaders elsewhere, leaving a deficit that could take 25 years to make up, he warned.

“You can break a lot of things in a drawdown, but the worst thing that you can break is your people,” Jacoby said.

“We know that we are going to have to draw down and make tough choices,” he added. “But we really need to be careful to make sure we keep our best and brightest and those we need for the future defense of our nation. They are our seed corn for the future.”

MQ-1B Predator accident report released

4/9/2013 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va.  -- Shortly after losing its satellite data link Sept. 18, 2012, an MQ-1 B Predator crashed in a U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, according to an Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board report released today.

Based on the limited recovered wreckage and other available evidence, the actual cause of the power loss could not be determined by clear and convincing evidence. The board president, however, stated it is possible the crash was preceded by a catastrophic power loss. Other possible causes were ruled out on the basis of the available evidence.

The mishap crew was assigned to the 432d Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. The mishap remotely piloted aircraft was destroyed with a total loss valued at approximately $4.4 million. There were no injuries or damage to government or private property.

According to the Accident Investigation Board report, the mishap remotely piloted aircraft satellite data link disconnected. The mishap pilot ran the appropriate checklist, but was unsuccessful in reestablishing a satellite link. The mishap remotely piloted aircraft impacted approximately 3.25 nautical miles south-southwest of the point where the link was lost.

The accident investigation board president determined that evidence rules out anomalies with the ground control station, mishap crew, maintenance and weather.

Blind Veteran in Edmond, Oklahoma Successfully Continues Training with Veterans Workshop

An unlikely group of blind veterans from the State of Oklahoma has come together to learn how to assist their fellow veterans.  Class A-225 began training last month to use Google+ technology to learn how to become relay operators making phone calls for deaf veterans.  One veteran, Chuck Smith of Edmond OK, shares his story.

Edmond, OK April 10, 2013
When class A-225 began training Chuck Smith was unsure where his path would take him but he was full of optimism.  Like many of the veterans in the class, Mr. Smith has more than a few war stories under his belt and has lived a colorful and fulfilling life.

Chuck was born in Rochester, NY and raised in the “great state of Nebraska” as a farm boy in a small town called Stamford.  When he was a young man, Chuck thought to himself “I can stay here milking cows or I can join the Marine Corps”.  And join the United States Marine Corps he did.  Mr. Smith went on to serve 8 years in the Marines, served in Vietnam in ’67 and ’68 and was awarded the Purple Heart and other medals for his actions.  After leaving the Marines, Chuck returned to Oklahoma where he met the love of his life Nadine and has lived for 30 years in the town of Edmond.   Chuck and Nadine have been married for 19 years, have sons in Salt Lake City, UT and Georgetown, KY; and have a granddaughter that goes to Oklahoma University.

Chuck’s path to training with the Veterans Workshop to be a relay operator for deaf veterans took him from helping others as an insurance adjuster/home improvement salesman to Class A-255 where he is a squad leader today.  His current adventure happened when a gentleman named John Laakman, a VIST coordinator (Visual Impairment Services Team), from the Department of Veterans Affairs in Oklahoma called him about a new program consisting of blind veterans training on Google technology to work from home training to be relay operators.  As Chuck puts it, “Being low-visioned I felt captured in my house as I cannot drive and had been looking for some time for a way to reach out and help my fellow veterans.  This relay operator program has opened a door for me that I thought had been permanently closed.  I have always enjoyed helping people and now not only am I learning how to do that from home, but I see infinite possibilities in where this can lead for both myself and the veterans we can assist with this program.  This has been a life changing experience for me.  I have become part of an amazing team and am excited to be a part of this awesome program.”

Upon graduation from the program Mr. Smith is looking forward to working either as a relay operator from home making calls for deaf veterans or fine tuning his skills to be an instructor for the Veterans Workshop and leading future classes of veterans.

The class that Chuck is in, A-225, adapted a quote from Emerson and Mr. Smith completely sees the resemblance to his life now and where it will go - “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

About the Veterans Workshop: With offices in Rhode Island and Washington, DC, the Veterans Workshop has developed unique training programs for a subset of the disabled veterans community to include blind, deaf and paralyzed veterans. Training for blind veterans is underway, with training for deaf and paralyzed veterans expected in early fall.
Hilary Snyder
ph: 202-695-8103

Hagel seeks to limit convening authority powers under UCMJ

by Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

4/9/2013 - WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will ask Congress to change military law so that commanders cannot overturn major convictions, the secretary announced in a written statement issued April 8.

Article 60 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice currently gives power to "convening authorities," or commanders, to set aside a conviction or decrease punishment following a court-martial, although convening authorities cannot change a "not guilty" verdict or increase a sentence.

Under the secretary's proposed changes, a convening authority would no longer have the authority to set aside a conviction for major offenses such as sexual assault. The accused will continue to have the right to appeal the conviction. Also, convening authorities would be required to explain in writing any changes made to the findings or sentences of a court-martial.

"These changes, if enacted by Congress, would help ensure that our military justice system works fairly, ensures due process and is accountable," the secretary wrote in the statement. "These changes would increase the confidence of Service members and the public that the military justice system will do justice in every case."

His proposal has the full support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the service secretaries, Hagel said. "I look forward to working with Congress on these proposals and others to improve accountability for these crimes," he added.

Hagel ordered a review of Article 60 in March, after convening authority Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, the 3rd Air Force commander, overturned the sexual assault conviction of Air Force Lt. Col. James Wilkerson. Last year, a panel of military officers found Wilkerson guilty in court-martial proceedings at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The judge sentenced him to a year in prison and dismissal from the Air Force.

Franklin was the convening authority for the court-martial and reviewed the finished case and sentence. The general used his Article 60 authority to dismiss the charges against Wilkerson, who returned to service and was reassigned.

Defense officials speaking to reporters on background today said the proposed changes to Article 60 are not based on that case alone, but are part of a range of comprehensive actions the department has taken and will take related to sexual assault in the military.

Hagel acknowledged in his statement that despite the efforts of senior leaders throughout the department, the crime of sexual assault "is damaging this institution."

Thousands of victims in DOD, both male and female, have seen their lives and careers upended by sexual assault, Hagel said.

"And that is unacceptable," he said in his statement issued April 8. "The current situation should offend every single Service member and civilian who, like me, is proud of their association with the United States military."

The secretary said he is reviewing other options to strengthen the department's sexual assault prevention and response efforts, and he will announce his decisions soon.

"Consistent with the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, I will soon be naming individuals to sit on independent panels to review and assess the systems used to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate crimes involving sexual assault, and judicial proceedings of sexual assault cases," Hagel said. "I will closely review their recommendations when complete."

The secretary said he's committed to taking steps that bring about tangible change and real results.

"Addressing the problem of sexual assault will remain a top priority for the department's leaders for as long as this crime continues to hurt our people and weaken the force," Hagel said.

Carter: U.S. Committed to Maintaining Peace in Asia-Pacific

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2013 – Through its actions over the past weeks, the United States has shown that it is committed to maintaining peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and throughout the Asia-Pacific region, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said here yesterday.

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Carter said the United States is working with friends and allies around the world to employ an integrated response to North Korea’s most recent provocations, which include moving missiles to its east coast and threatening U.S. forces with nuclear strikes.
“We're vigilantly monitoring the situation,” the deputy secretary said. “We're in close contact with our South Korean civilian and military counterparts, as well as with the governments of Japan, China and Russia.”

The U.S. position is that North Korea should immediately stop making provocative threats, Carter noted.
“North Korea's nuclear activities are in clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and its international commitments,” he said. “And we believe that North Korea should live up to these commitments and refrain from its provocative behavior.”

Elements of the integrated response to North Korea include U.N. Security Council resolutions “with unprecedentedly strong sanctions, and additional unilateral sanctions of great effect,” he said, “the result of which will be to leave North Korea further isolated from the international community.”

Together, the United States and South Korea are advancing the alliance's military capabilities and enhancing homeland and alliance security, he said.

“In particular, we will continue to provide the extended deterrence offered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella and will ensure that all of our capabilities remain available to the alliance,” Carter added.

On March 15, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that the United States would strengthen its missile defenses to stay ahead of North Korean ballistic missile development, the deputy secretary said. Actions include deploying 14 more ground-based interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska, and the planned deployment to Japan of a second Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance and Control, or TPY-2, radar.

The transportable X-band, high-resolution, phased-array radar can track all classes of ballistic missiles and identify small objects at long distances, according to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. In a forward-based mode it acts as a sensor, detecting ballistic missiles early in their flight and providing precise tracking information.

Using multiple sensors gives overlapping coverage, and the newest TPY-2 radar will improve early warning and tracking of any missile launched from North Korea toward the United States or Japan, Carter said.
In recent weeks the U.S. Navy has moved the guided-missile destroyers USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald to the western Pacific, the deputy secretary noted, “where they are poised to respond to any missile threats to our allies or our territory.”

On April 4, Defense Department officials announced the near-term deployment of a terminal high-altitude area defense system, or THAAD, ballistic missile defense system to Guam to strengthen the regional defense posture against the North Korean missile threat, he said.

The United States also recently signed a new joint counter-provocation plan with South Korea “to enhance our coordination and response in the event of a North Korean provocation and to mitigate the risk of miscalculation,” Carter explained. And the U.S. and South Korean military forces participate in annual military exercises, including the Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises, to ensure that the alliance is operationally ready to meet regional security challenges, he noted.

“As [President Barack Obama] has made clear,” the deputy secretary said, “there's a path open to North Korea to peace and economic opportunity. But to get on that path, North Korea must abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons and abide by its international commitments.”

Reservists asked to participate in Community Assessment Survey

4/9/2013 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The 2013 Air Force Community Assessment Survey launched April 5, and all members of the Air Force Reserve team who are asked to participate are encouraged to do so.

The assessment is designed to assist chaplains and people working in installation-level Airman and family readiness centers, family advocacy programs, health and wellness centers, mental health clinics, and child and youth programs to better meet the needs of service members and their families.

"We need to make sure our programs are meeting the needs of Airmen and their families," said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody. "This survey is one way we can learn how well we're doing that. It's every Airman's responsibility to provide some honest feedback to help."

Topics covered in the survey include personal and family adjustment, individual and family adaptation, community well-being, deployment, resiliency, post-traumatic stress, and help-seeking stigma.

The Community Assessment Survey is a total force effort. Approximately 160,000 active-duty members, 40,000 reservists, 40,000 Air National Guard members, 160,000 spouses of active-duty members, 10,000 spouses of reservists and 10,000 spouses of ANG members will be randomly selected to participate in the survey. All appropriated fund civilians also will be asked to participate in the survey. The survey will be available through May 30 and is completely anonymous.

A notification letter, including a link to the Web-based survey, will be sent out to the work email address of each service member selected to participate. Spouses will be sent a postcard in the mail with the Web link. Everyone selected is encouraged to participate to aid in the success of the project.

The survey should take participants 30-45 minutes to complete.

Data collected from the survey will be analyzed and briefed to wing and Air Force leaders. The information will help make community-wide program planning and resource allocation decisions, which ultimately enhance the quality of life, readiness and retention of Air Force personnel.

"Everything we do depends on our people, the living engine of our Air Force," said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley. "The entire Air Force leadership team is committed to doing all we can to support our Total Force Airmen and their families. We know that through your valuable input, the state of our Air Force will remain strong, ready and capable of delivering airpower, whenever and wherever the nation calls."

Previous survey results are credited with expanding financial counseling programs to members and their families, developing a user-friendly support network for Air Force single parents, and setting up marriage-support seminars for junior enlisted members and their spouses.

"This survey has been done every two years since 1988, giving a long-range perspective of trends," said Chaplain Lt. Col. David Sumrall, executive director of the AFRC Community Action Information Board. "AFRC will receive a consolidated Reserve population breakout and Reserve installations will receive a report specific to their location. Reserve tenant units will be incorporated into the host base report and should participate in the host base CAIB and Integrated Delivery System to develop a community action plan that meets the requirements of the total force base population."

This survey is not to be confused with the Chief of Staff Climate Survey, which was administered in the spring of 2012 and the results of which were recently released.

Locklear: Tensions on Korean Peninsula Highest Since War’s End

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2013 – With tensions on the Korean Peninsula reaching their highest level in the 60 years since the war there ended, the United States and South Korea are prepared to defend against a North Korean attack, should one come, the U.S. Pacific Command commander told Congress today.

“I am satisfied that we are ready today,” Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Locklear expressed confidence in the capabilities of U.S. and South Korean forces and their ability to intercept a North Korean ballistic missile if one is launched in the coming days, as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has threatened.

But expressing concern about any steps that could cause miscalculation and quickly escalate, Locklear said he would recommend such an action only after confirming where it was headed and to defend the homeland or a U.S. ally.

“The best thing we as militaries can do is to preserve the peace, [and] to get it back to peace so diplomacy can work, and we would hope that could be done in North Korea,” he said. “But it is a very dangerous situation. It is something we have to watch, and it could be quite volatile.”

North Korea dominated today’s Senate hearing, originally scheduled to focus on Pacom’s fiscal 2014 budget request.

Army Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea, had been scheduled to testify alongside Locklear, but remained in South Korea to deal with the situation there.

Locklear recognized in his prepared remarks concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and its concentration of combat forces along the demilitarized zone. But particularly troubling, he said, has been North Korea’s willingness to use tactics that could cause miscalculation and spin out of control into conflict.

These provocations “represent a clear and direct threat to U.S. national security and regional peace and stability,” he said.

Locklear said he felt confident that the allies have demonstrated to the North Korean leadership, as well as the American population, “our ability and our willingness to defend our nation, to defend our people, to defend our allies and to defend our forward deployed forces.”

The admiral told the Senate panel he is satisfied with actions being taken in response to the North Korean threat, including a B-2 bomber flight over South Korea and the planned deployment of missile defenses to Guam.

The B-2 flight during the regularly scheduled Foal Eagle exercise “was a good opportunity for my forces in Pacom to coordinate with [U.S. Strategic Command], and for us to be able to demonstrate the capability,” Locklear said. “And I believe that it was visibly demonstrated [and] was done at the right time to indicate the capabilities that the United States has to ensure the defense of our allies and our homeland.”

In addition, two Navy ships with missile defense capabilities have been positioned closer to the peninsula, and the Defense Department announced last week that Terminal High Altitude Air Defense System assets he would deploy to Guam as a precautionary measure.

Locklear told the panel he agreed with the Defense Department decision to delay a routine reliability test of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile in light of what he acknowledged as a “particularly tenuous time.”

Asked by a committee member, Locklear acknowledged he wished China would play a larger role in helping to curb North Korea’s provocations. “I feel they could do more,” he said.

The North Korean situation is influencing resourcing decisions at a time that sequestration is having a direct impact on near-term operational readiness, Locklear told the panel. Budget constraints have forced Pacom to prioritize its assets to ensure “the most pressing problems are properly addressed with the right force levels and the right levels of readiness,” he said. “And today, that most pressing situation is what is happening on the peninsula in Korea.”

He lamented about budget impacts that will come to light over the longer term as overall readiness levels begin to decline. In some cases, he said, large-scale exercises designed to ensure future force readiness are being cancelled for lack of flight hours, transportation or funds to cover the fuel costs.

The rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region offers an opportunity to ensure the proper balance of capabilities there and to reemphasize the U.S. commitment to this vital part of the globe, Locklear said. He expressed concern, however, that sequestration and other budget shortfalls under the continuing appropriations resolution could undermine those efforts.

“We have been accepting additional risk in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region for some time,” Locklear told the panel. “Our rebalance strategy is in place, and we are making progress. Implementing and sustaining the strategic rebalance will require long-term, sustained commitment and resources.”

NATO, Eucom Commander Identifies ‘Three Big Issues’

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2013 – Looking to the year ahead for NATO and U.S. European Command, the senior commander for both cited three big agenda items: setting conditions for Afghanistan, improving cyber security, and continuing to defend NATO’s border with Syria.

“First, we have to get Afghanistan right as we shift our mission from combat to train, advise and assist,” Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis wrote in his command blog posted today.

“We’ve laid the right tracks for the change in early 2015,” he noted, working with all 28 NATO nations and other potential partners to define the new mission after 2014.

That requires forces in Kabul, the Afghan capital, but also in Mazer to the north, Herat to the west, Kandahar to the south and Bagram to the east, Stavridis said.

“Geography and distribution of forces have an important power in the narrative,” he said.

Training, assisting and mentoring efforts must continue at least down to the corps level, and the equivalent level within Afghan police forces, Stavridis said. He also recognized the need for enablers to support coalition forces and help the Afghans develop capabilities in force protection, intelligence, medical response, fire support, air fires, quick reaction and logistics.

Meanwhile, the admiral also noted the importance of improving cybersecurity, pointing to the high threat posed in the cyber domain and the low level of preparation to confront it.

“In most other areas, we are far more prepared for our role,” he said, pointing to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, countertrafficking, antipiracy and ongoing operations in Afghanistan and the Balkans.

Stavridis emphasized the need to improve and expand the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia, which currently includes 15 nations. NATO also needs to develop an ability within its command structures to repulse cyberattacks and to encourage allies to work together in countercyber activities, he said.

In addition, he pressed for NATO to define a cyberattack to update its treaty that, when signed in 1949, never anticipated this new form of threat.

Recognizing NATO’s role in protecting more than 3 million people who live near the NATO border with Syria from ballistic missile attacks, Stavridis said vigilance must continue.

“In my capacity as U.S. European commander, I believe that the real threat is chemical weapons,” he said. What’s needed, he added, is to continually monitor the situation and support U.N. efforts to investigate claims of chemical weapons use and to ensure Turkey is fully protected from external threats.

Noting that Turkey already has taken on more than 100,000 refugees since the conflict began, Stavridis said NATO must be prepared to assist with the growing humanitarian crisis.

Stavridis posted his blog before setting off for Turkey to discuss the situation there, then to Georgia and Israel. “We have to build bridges in this 21st century with partners, both for NATO and the U.S.,” he said.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has slated a hearing later this week to hear from Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, whom President Barack Obama nominated to succeed Stavridis as NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe and Eucom commander.

In announcing Breedlove’s nomination late last month, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel offered high praise for Stavridis, who has held the position since 2009.

“Admiral Stavridis has played an absolutely essential role in strengthening the NATO alliance to meet the challenges of the 21st century, to include enhancing our collective capabilities and partnerships,” Obama said in a statement. “I am grateful for his steadfast service on behalf of our country and NATO.”

Navy recognizes Andersen firefighters

by Staff Sgt. Veronica McMahon
36th Wing Public Affairs

4/9/2013 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam  -- Navy Fire and Emergency Services recently named two Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Airmen Firefighter of the Year and Fire Officer of the Year for 2012.

The all-encompassing awards recognized Tech. Sgt. Arnold Castro, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services Station captain, and Master Sgt. Essam Cordova, 36th CES Fire and Emergency Services assistant chief of operations for their accomplishments, job performance, technical competence, leadership ability, initiative and resourcefulness.

"It's an amazing feeling knowing that the Andersen Fire Department selected me as their nominee," said Castro, who was awarded the Navy Fire and Emergency Services Military Firefighter of the Year.

Both were nominated by their leadership who said they were, "without comparison, deserving of the prestigious recognition" in their awards packages. Andersen firefighters are part of the Joint Region Marianas Fire and Emergency Services Department, allowing them to be nominated for Navy awards.

Castro spent 179 days deployed to Southwest Asia where he continuously trained firefighters to provide protection. During his time on Guam, he led Air Force and Guam firefighters in extinguishing 1,000 square feet of wildfire, served as the incident commander on three calls during Exercise Cope North 2013 and responded to mutual aid with the Guam Fire Department and Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 members to save two stranded swimmers.

Cordova was awarded Navy Fire and Emergency Services Military Fire Officer of the Year.

During 2012, Cordova deployed for 179 days where he led 49 firefighters. While on his deployment, he spent 31 hours as an incident commander for an F-15 crash. He also served as the sole certified fire inspector and enabled the first-ever hot pits at his deployed location, posturing the wing for combat operations.

While at Andersen, he led 67 Airmen, acted as a first sergeant, and according to his award package, continued to be an outstanding leader both on the ground and in the fire house.

Although both firefighters have impressive accomplishments, they said leading the new Airmen matters the most.

"My favorite part of being a firefighter now is being able to mold, mentor, train and develop new firefighters," Castro said. "Being selected as the representative for this award was amazing."

"2012 was a great year," said Cordova. "It's nice to know you're recognized for what you do."

Seminar brings services, nations together

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

4/8/2013 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan  -- Yokota Air Base hosts an Airman Enhancement Seminar here April 8 - 10, 2013 to help E1 through E4s grow as leaders.

The class consists of 40 Airmen, two Sailors, one Soldier and 2 Japan Air Self-Defense Force members.

"I want this class to open the attendees' eyes to all of the issues they could face in their career," said Tech Sgt. Chudy Molina, seminar instructor. "The seminar is designed to challenge them as well as provide an opportunity to network with peers."

The class focuses on topics such as standards and discipline, Chief and shirt panels, leader development and JASDF history.

"I want attendees to put themselves in the scenarios we give them," said Molina. "I want them to think, 'how does this decision affect the outcome'."

Being the first of its kind, the seminar is a chance for junior ranks to take advantage of leadership opportunities and to strengthen joint and bilateral bonds.

According to Molina, students have a unique opportunity to learn about their host nation's leadership styles as well as strengthen relations.

"This class provides a great opportunity to members that have not been to professional military education," said Senior Airman Gregory Wallace, 374th Communications Squadron network applications technician. "Being able to work and communicate with JASDF members and our joint services allows us to gain extra knowledge and apply it at an early stage in our careers."

Airman 1st Class Yukari Odagiri, JASDF member, enjoys the seminar as an attendee and likes a specific characteristic of the seminar.

"I like the variety of briefers," she said. "JASDF does not have a program such as Air Force Inspector General so I enjoyed learning about it."

"This is the first-ever seminar of its kind held at Yokota," said Master Sgt. Daniel Chapman, 374th Airlift Wing career assistance advisor. "Future classes will be molded from the feedback of the current students."

While the seminar is meant to inform attendees of a subordinate's role, Chapman has an additional goal in mind.

"We are not doing things by ourselves anymore," said Chapman. "By strengthening our joint and bilateral relationships, we can help one another achieve our common goals."

Partnerships Highlight U.S. Rebalance Within Asia-Pacific Region

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2013 – As the Defense Department shifts its military power and presence from a shrinking Middle East war zone to the vast Asia-Pacific region, it also is rebalancing its focus within the increasingly important region, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said here yesterday.

In remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Carter discussed the results of his trip last month to Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia -- made in part, he said, to stress to U.S. allies and partners in the region that the United States is serious about its defense commitments there.

“It is important to underscore that we are not only rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific,” he added, “but also within the Asia-Pacific in recognition of the growing importance of Southeast Asia and South Asia to the region as a whole, emphasizing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, maritime domain awareness, capacity building and multilateral exercises.”

During his Asian trip -- his second since President Barack Obama announced a new defense strategy for the United States -- Carter met with defense and government officials in Yokota, Japan; Seoul, South Korea; Manila, the Philippines; and Jakarta, Indonesia.

Carter’s trip followed recent visits to the region by Obama, then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon.
All, Carter said, emphasized the “central importance of the Asia-Pacific to the United States, and our commitment to making sure the region remains safe, secure and prosperous.”

Later this week, Secretary of State John F. Kerry will visit Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing for the first time during his tenure as secretary of state, and later this spring, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who as a senator led the first U.S. congressional delegation to the Shangri-La Dialogue regional security conference, will attend that meeting for the first time as secretary of defense, Carter added.
“It's important to point out how much time, energy and intellectual capital, as well as resources, we're investing in our rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, across the breadth of our government,” the deputy secretary said. “As the president has said, our investment in the region will continue to grow in the years to come.”

Partnerships with nations throughout the region are an important part of the United States’ rebalance, Carter said.

“We also seek, as we have for decades, to build partnerships in the region that leverage the unique strengths of our various partners and allies to confront critical challenges and realize emerging opportunities,” he added.

Partners in the region welcome U.S. leadership and robust engagement, Carter said, “and we're committed to answering their call.”

“It's good for us, and it's good for everyone in the region, and it includes everyone in the region,” he added. “It's not aimed at any … individual country or group of countries.”

In addition to strengthening its presence in Northeast Asia, the United States is enhancing its presence in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean region, Carter said.

“In Australia, for example, our first company of Marines rotated through Darwin last year, a key first step toward using the presence to engage in bilateral and multilateral exercises as partners of the region,” he added.

In the Philippines, the United States is working with its “full and equal partner,” he said, to enhance the capacity of the Philippine armed forces, increase the U.S. rotational presence, and capitalize on other opportunities for cooperation.

In Singapore, he added, the first of four Navy littoral combat ships will arrive later this month, providing a key capability to work bilaterally and multilaterally with partners in the region.

Elsewhere in the region, Carter said, “last November we worked with our treaty ally Thailand to update the U.S.-Thailand joint vision statement for the first time in 50 years.”

With New Zealand, he said, the signing of a defense cooperation agreement in June and associated policy changes have opened new avenues for defense cooperation in areas like maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and peacekeeping support.

“In Burma, we have resumed limited military-to-military relations and are working to ensure that the Burmese military supports Burma's ongoing and dynamic reforms,” Carter noted.

With the Vietnamese, he added, “we're expanding our cooperation as set forth in a new memorandum of understanding on maritime security, search and rescue operations, peacekeeping, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.”

In Malaysia and Indonesia, the United States is working to build partner capacity and conduct maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

On China, he said, “we have invited the Chinese to participate in the RIMPAC exercise, which we host, and we're delighted that they have accepted.” RIMPAC, short for the Rim of the Pacific exercise, is one of the world's largest international maritime security exercises, held in June and July of even-numbered years in Hawaii.

“We seek to strengthen and grow our military-to-military relationship with China commensurate with our growing political and economic relationship,” Carter said. “Building and sustaining a positive and constructive relationship with China is essential to the success of our rebalancing strategy.”

Also in the region, India is a key part of the U.S. rebalance, the deputy secretary said, calling that nation “an emerging power that we believe will help determine the broader security and prosperity of the 21st century.”

“Our security interests with India converge on maritime security and broader regional issues, including India's Look East Policy,” he added, which is a strategy to foster economic and security cooperation with the United States.

“We're also working to deepen our defense cooperation [with India],” Carter said, “moving beyond purely defense trade and toward technology sharing and co-production.”

Multilaterally, Carter added, the United States recognizes the importance of strengthening regional institutions such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, which “play an indispensable role in maintaining regional stability and resolving disputes through diplomacy.”

As the United States works to build these partnerships in Asia, the deputy secretary added, it will complement them with critical new investments with allies and partnerships in Europe.

“As we rebalance, in other words, our trans-Atlantic bonds actually become even more important as we face common challenges outside Europe,” he said.

Building Allied Capability, Capacity Best Approach, McRaven Says

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

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2013 – The best approach to assisting allies in creating peace and stability is teaching them to strengthen their own abilities to defend themselves, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command told Congress today.

Navy Adm. William H. McRaven appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee to provide his insight on special operations forces’ efforts in counterterrorism.

“Globally, [special operations forces are] in approximately 78 countries from around the world, helping to build partner capacity so that the host nations can deal with their own security problems,” he said.

McRaven said he recently returned from Colombia and the Philippines, where long-term U.S. investment with their special operations forces has dramatically helped to change the security situation in those countries.
“I believe that these efforts -- that is, building allied [special operations] capacity and capability, represent the best approach to dealing with some of the world’s most complex security problems,” he said.

In support of the U.S. defense strategic guidance, McRaven said, Socom is working to strengthen international ties with allied forces. U.S. special operations forces are working to strengthen international partnerships and to build lasting formal and informal networks so the United States and its allies can create a secure environment in unstable areas, and, if necessary, react to an emerging crisis rapidly and effectively, the admiral said.

“In all cases, those special operations forces deployed to foreign lands are working for the geographic combatant commander, with the approval of the chief of mission, and always in support of U.S. policy goals,” McRaven said.

The admiral said while Socom continues the “great work” initiated by his predecessor, Navy Adm. Eric Olson, the command has continued to adapt to the changing strategic and fiscal environment to keep special operations forces relevant now and in the future. He cited changes made to the special operations forces structure operating throughout Afghanistan as an example.

“In Afghanistan, we established a new SOF command structure, which brought the various NATO and U.S. SOF elements into alignment in a two-star headquarters,” he explained. “This has allowed us to have a common view of the enemy and synchronize our SOF to achieve a common end state.”

McRaven said this change has made special operations troops “even more effective than ever before.”
“Partnered with our Afghan [special operations forces], we have continued to attrit the enemy leadership while, at the same time, building and training Afghan security forces so that they can stand on their own against this determined threat,” he said.

McRaven said he has made taking care of his fighting force and their families his top priority.

“In the past year, my command sergeant major and I have met with soldiers and their families from around the Socom enterprise,” he said. “We have listened to their concerns, and with the support of the services, we are aggressively implementing programs and plans to help with the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the force.”

The admiral expressed his gratitude to the senators for their support of his troops and their families.
“We have a professional and moral obligation to take care of our warriors and their families,” he said. “We greatly appreciate the support of your committee and other members on [Capitol] Hill in our efforts to take care of these men and women.”

KC-46 progress on track

by Daryl Mayer
88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

4/9/2013 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio (AFNS) -- The top acquisition priority in the Air Force - acquiring a new aerial refueling capability - is proceeding "on track," Maj. Gen. John Thompson, the program executive officer for Tankers, said.

Two years and several key milestones after the contract was awarded, a great deal of progress has been made. The preliminary design review completed last year ensured the basic design would meet the key performance parameters required by the Air Force. Now, the program is steaming toward the completion of the critical design review later this year setting the stage to build and fly the first KC-46A Tanker in 2015.

Initial concerns that sequestration could force a contract renegotiation appear to be allayed based on increased flexibility afforded by the recent continuing resolution.

"There is no final assessment yet, but it appears positive," Thompson said.

The Air Force contracted with Boeing in February 2011 to acquire 179 KC-46 tankers to begin recapitalizing the KC-135 Stratotanker fleet. The initial delivery target is for 18 tankers by 2017. Production will then ramp up to deliver all 179 tankers by 2028.

"When the final KC-46s are delivered in 2028, they will replace KC-135s that are on the order of 80 years old," Thompson said, emphasizing the criticality of meeting program milestones.

The KC-46 contract has been widely cited as a model for future programs. Characterized as "fair to both parties" by Thompson, financial risk for the Air Force is limited to $4.9 billion for the development program, which includes the initial four aircraft.

The general is quick to add that Boeing has the contract, which is "worth about $32 billion in then-year dollars, goes from about two years ago out into the 2020s and is something that they will be able to leverage into a very important weapon system for the U.S. Air Force for decades to come. Absolutely, it is a win-win."

The KC-46 is a commercial derivative based on the Boeing 767-200, said Col. Shaun Morris, the KC-46 System program manager. When a new 767-2C is completed in the Boeing factory in Everett, Wash., it will be flown to Boeing facility in Puget Sound to complete the military modification that turns it into a KC-46.

The aircraft brings a wide range of new capabilities to the warfighter. It is 15 to 20 percent larger than the KC-135 and can carry 58 passengers, 54 aeromedical patients and 18 cargo pallets -- all substantially more than the legacy aircraft. Performance is also improved with the ability to perform boom and drogue refueling operations on the same sortie, though not simultaneously, using the 1200 gallon-per-minute fly-by-wire centerline boom or the 400 gallon-per-minute centerline drogue system. In addition, the KC-46 can be equipped with two 400 gallon-per-minute wing air refueling pods which can be used to refuel two aircraft simultaneously.

The new tanker will be fully capable of day and night operations and also be a receiver itself meaning it can be refueled in flight, which will improve loiter time -- all important characteristics offering increased flexibility for mission planners.

Inside the digital glass cockpit, pilots will find complete flight and weather data on 15-inch displays. Immediately behind at the boom operator station, 24-inch displays will offer a three-dimensional view just below multiple monitors that show a panoramic 185-degree field of view. Pilots will also be able to bring up refueling operations on cockpit displays.

On the near horizon, the program office is looking to award a contract for the Aircrew Training System, which includes a KC-46 simulator. In 2014, the program office, in concert with Air Mobility Command officials, will begin serious initial requirements work on the second phase, known as KC-Y, of the three-phase program to replace more of the aging tanker fleet.

Air Combat Command Stands Down Units Amid Budget Cuts

Air Force News Service

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va., April 9, 2013 – Air Force officials began to stand down active-duty combat units today to ensure the remaining units supporting worldwide operations can maintain sufficient readiness through the remainder of the fiscal year.

The stand down is the result of cuts to Air Combat Command's operations and maintenance account, which must be implemented in part by flying about 45,000 fewer training hours between now and Oct 1.

As the Air Force's lead for combat air forces, or CAF, Air Combat Command manages the flying-hour programs for four major commands. This decision to stand down or curtail operations affects about one-third of the active-duty CAF aircraft -- including those assigned to fighter, bomber, aggressor and airborne warning and control squadrons -- stationed in the U.S., Europe and the Pacific.

"We must implement a tiered readiness concept where only the units preparing to deploy in support of major operations like Afghanistan are fully mission capable," said Air Force Gen. Mike Hostage, the ACC commander. "Units will stand down on a rotating basis so our limited resources can be focused on fulfilling critical missions.

"Historically, the Air Force has not operated under a tiered readiness construct because of the need to respond to any crisis within a matter of hours or days," Hostage said. "The current situation means we're accepting the risk that combat airpower may not be ready to respond immediately to new contingencies as they occur."

Some units currently deployed -- including A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, B-1 Lancers, F-16 Fighting Falcons and F-22 Raptors -- will stand down after they return from their deployments. The remaining units stand down today. Active-duty aircrews assigned to Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard A-10 or F-16 squadrons under an arrangement known as "active associations" also will stop flying.

The stand down will remain in effect for the remainder of fiscal 2013, which ends Sept. 30, barring any changes to current levels of funding.

"We're entering uncharted territory in terms of how we've had to take this year's cuts and make adjustments to mitigate the most serious impacts," Hostage said. "Remaining as mission-ready as possible for combatant commanders is our priority, and we're prioritizing spending to ensure this imperative is met."

Units that are stood down will shift their emphasis to ground training. They will use flight simulators to the extent possible within existing contracts, and conduct academic training to maintain basic skills and knowledge of their aircraft. As funding allows, aircrews will also complete formal ground training courses, conduct nonflying exercises and improve local flying-related programs and guidance.

Maintainers will complete upgrade training and clear up backlogs of scheduled inspections and maintenance as possible, given budget impacts in other areas, such as stock of spare parts.

Although each weapon system is unique, on average aircrews lose currency to fly combat missions within 90 to 120 days of not flying. It generally takes 60 to 90 days to conduct the training needed to return aircrews to mission-ready status, and the time and cost associated with that retraining increases the longer that crews stay on the ground.

"This will have a significant and multiyear impact on our operational readiness," Hostage said. "But right now, there is no other acceptable way to implement these cuts."