Friday, April 19, 2013

VA Expedites Decisions for Long-standing Claims

From a Department of Veterans Affairs News Release

WASHINGTON, April 19, 2013 – The Veterans Affairs Department is expediting compensation claims decisions for veterans who have waited one year or longer, VA officials announced today.

Effective today, VA claims raters will make provisional decisions on the oldest claims on hand, officials said, which will allow veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits more quickly, if eligible.

Veterans will be able to submit additional evidence for consideration a full year after the provisional rating, before VA issues a final decision.

“Too many veterans wait too long for a decision, and this has never been acceptable,” VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said. “That is why we are implementing an aggressive plan to eliminate the backlog in 2015. This initiative is the right thing to do now for veterans who have waited the longest.”

Provisional decisions will be based on all evidence provided to date by the veteran or obtained on their behalf by VA. If a VA medical examination is needed to decide the claim, it will be ordered and expedited.
“Issuing provisional decisions not only provides veterans with applicable benefits much more quickly, but also gives them an additional one-year safety net to submit further evidence should it become available,” said Allison Hickey, VA’s undersecretary for benefits. “Our door will remain open, and if a veteran has additional evidence, their case will be fast-tracked.”

If any increase is determined to be warranted based on the additional evidence received, benefits will be retroactive to the date the claim was initially filed. The initiative protects the veteran’s right to appeal the decision. If no further evidence is received within that year, VA’s Veterans Benefits Administration will inform the veteran that the rating is final and will provide information on the standard appeals process.

VA will continue to prioritize claims for homeless veterans and those claiming financial hardship, the terminally ill, former prisoners of war, Medal of Honor recipients and veterans filing fully developed claims.

Claims for wounded warriors separating from the military for medical reasons will continue to be handled separately and on a priority basis with the Defense Department through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System. Wounded Warriors separating through IDES currently receive VA compensation benefits in an average of 61 days following their separation from service.

As a result of this initiative, metrics used to track benefits claims will experience significant fluctuations, officials said. The focus on processing the oldest claims will cause the overall measure of the average length of time to complete a claim -- currently 286 days -- to skew, rising significantly in the near term because of the number of old claims that will be completed, they explained.

Over time, they added, as the backlog of oldest claims is cleared and more of the incoming claims are processed electronically through VA’s new paperless processing system, VA’s average time to complete claims will improve significantly. In addition, the “average days pending” metric -- or the average age of a claim in the inventory -- will decrease, since the oldest claims will no longer be part of the inventory.

While compensation claims are pending, eligible veterans are able to receive health care and other benefits from VA. Veterans who have served in recent conflicts are eligible for five years of free health care from VA. More than 55 percent of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are using VA health care, officials said, a rate greater than that of previous generations of veterans.

ARPC members win AF-level awards

by Lt. Col. Belinda Petersen
Air Reserve Personnel Center Public Affairs

4/18/2013 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services recently announced the 2012 award winners for the A1 community.

Three of the winners are from the Air Reserve Personnel Center:

Maj. Tim J. Martin - Force Support Reserve Company Grade Officer of the Year
Tech. Sgt. Richard G. Grybos - Force Support Reserve Component NCO of the Year
Senior Airman Iris B. Morales - Force Support Reserve Component Airman of the Year

As the chief of the program management branch, Martin was responsible for all plans, programs, information technology, and project management at ARPC. He instituted a voice prompt system to direct almost 1 million customers to the correct work center, reducing dropped calls and caller wait times. During his off-duty time, he completed three courses from the Air Command and Staff College master's program, completed two 100-mile bike rides, and was president for Rolling Thunder Colorado Chapter 1.

Grybos was responsible for drafting leadership guidelines for the migration of the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System and Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification System. As a result, the Air Force successfully upgraded and transferred the Military Personnel Data System to the Defense Information Systems Agency Defense Enterprise Computing Center. During his off-duty time, he was vice president of Buckley's 5/6 Association, Buckley's housing representative, and ARPC's snow removal team leader.

Morales worked with more than 14,000 customers from the Total Force Service Center, taking care of their personnel requests within five days. Furthermore, she screened and updated more than 2,000 promotion board records, ensuring records were 100% accurate. During her off-duty time, she completed her Community of College of the Air Force degree in Human Resources Management, completed a Master of Health Services Administration, was president for the Junior Enlisted Advisory Council, and was a mentor for troubled teens in the local community.

"The competition was fierce, and it was a difficult decision across all of the categories," Lt. Gen. Darrell D. Jones stated in the announcement letter. "We appreciate the commanders and supervisors at all levels in taking the time and effort to nominate your people and programs, and thank you for your continued commitment to everyday excellence in serving our Total Force Airmen and their families."

Air Force Global Strike Command cancels annual competition

Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

4/19/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.  -- Air Force Global Strike Command's 2013 Global Strike Challenge competition has been canceled due to budget shortfalls.

"We regret cancelling Global Strike Challenge this year but we're committed to resuming in 2014," said Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, AFGSC commander. "Global Strike sustains our culture of disciplined professionalism by putting our best airmen through the demands of high-visibility competition."

Global Strike Challenge recognizes the best of the best in the bomber, Intercontinental Ballistic Missile and Security Forces communities that are central to the AFGSC mission.

The goals of Global Strike Challenge are to:

· Showcase the world's premier bomber and ICBM force
· Foster esprit de corps through competition and teamwork
· Recognize outstanding global strike personnel and teams
· Improve combat capabilities through competition and community crosstalk

The competition also welcomes teams and weapon systems from other major commands.

The annual technology and innovation symposium held in conjunction with Global Strike Challenge has also been canceled.

Hagel’s First Middle East Trip to Seal Historic Arms Deal

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 19, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s first official trip to the Middle East will underscore U.S. security relationships there and finalize agreements on an unprecedented release of military capabilities to Israel and other partner countries, senior defense officials said today.

Tomorrow, the secretary begins a six-day trip that includes meetings with counterparts and officials in Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

“I would characterize this trip as not just a series of courtesy calls, but as a series of security calls on important allies and partners,” a senior defense official, speaking on background, told Pentagon reporters today.

Hagel’s goal, the official added, “is to deepen and strengthen his relationships with all of these countries.”
“I would note that in the case of Israel, he has been to Israel six times in the past and looks forward to expressing once again in that country his personal commitment to our alliance and to Israel’s security,” the official added.

The range of security issues to be discussed will all country officials includes the situations in Syria, Iran, the Sinai Peninsula and others, he said, along with the historic arms deal that involves Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The release of U.S. military capabilities is the culmination of an effort that President Barack Obama asked former Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta to undertake late last year, another senior defense official said.
Given many shared threats in the region, including Iran, Syria, terrorism, border issues and other challenges, the president wanted Panetta “to look at ways not just to protect Israel’s qualitative military edge, which is a key principle of American policy, but to increase the capabilities of Israel in a significant and meaningful way and in doing so increase the capabilities of key partner nations,” he added.

The series of sensitive bilateral negotiations took place over the past year and resulted in agreements, reached also through consultations with Congress, to approve requests by Israel for advanced radar for Israeli jet fighters, antiradiation missiles, KC-135 refueling tankers, and a to-be-determined number of V-22 Ospreys, the official said, a capability that the United States has never sold to any other country.

The United States is making these capabilities available for Israeli purchase, the official said, adding that U.S. funding for Israel’s security needs has been unprecedented, even in an austere budget environment.

“This year the United States provided $3.1 billion in foreign military financing to Israel, the highest the United States has ever provided,” he said. In addition, the United States provides about $300 million in missile defense to Israel, the official noted.

Elsewhere in the region, in 2010 Saudi Arabia agreed to purchase 84 F-15 tactical fighters in a deal worth $29.4 billion, the official said, and the first F-15s have rolled off the line in St. Louis and are undergoing flight testing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

During Hagel’s trip, the UAE is expected to move forward with the purchase of 25 F-16 Block 60 Desert Falcon fighters manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. The expected value of the sale is $425 billion, the official said.

“As part of these sales,” he added, “the United States is agreeing to deploy standoff weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.” Such smart weapons can navigate to their targets and are more precise and can be fired at further distances.

“This is more advanced weaponry than we’ve sold before,” the official said. “A key part of the agreement is that we believe, and the Israelis believe, that [providing] these capabilities in no way diminishes Israel’s qualitative military edge, but are consistent with [the need to] commonly address threats in the region.”
The United States will jointly train with the Emirati and Saudi pilots, as has been the case for other sales of military aircraft, he noted.

“There will be enhanced end-use monitoring consistent with what we provide with sensitive technology to our other allies and partners around the region,” the official said, “and there will be consultations prior to any of the weapons’ deployment.”

None of the military sales signals a change in U.S. policy toward Iran or any other country, the official said.
The secretary’s trip is an important one that follows up on Obama’s trip in March to Israel and Jordan, and discussions the president had there, another senior defense official said. During the secretary’s trip, the official said, “in each country we will be seeking to strengthen and reinforce the relationships.”

Syria will be at the top of the agenda at all stops, he added, and Iran clearly will be an issue Hagel will be interested in hearing about from his counterparts.

Egypt will be a very important stop both to reaffirm the importance of the Egyptian-U.S. defense relationship, discuss many important issues that Pentagon officials have been working on with Egypt for about two years, and security issues, the official observed, but also Egypt’s internal situation.

Hagel will have a chance to speak directly with Egyptian officials about “the difficult times they’re in,” the official said, referring to the transitional period that has followed the revolution that began Jan. 25, 2011.
In Jordan, the secretary will have an opportunity to meet with senior Jordanian defense officials about the situation in Syria and what the Defense Department can do to help the Jordanians, the official said.

Air Superiority: Advantage over enemy skies for 60 years

by Randy Roughton
Air Force News Service

4/19/2013 - FORT MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- A few months after the D-Day invasion in June 1944, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower surveyed the Normandy beaches with his son. "You'd never get away with this if you didn't have air supremacy," then 2nd Lt. John Eisenhower told his father. "Without air supremacy," the elder Eisenhower replied, "I wouldn't be here."

The United States won air superiority in Europe by 1944 and the Pacific by the fall, won it in Korea in 1950 and hasn't lost control of the skies since. No American service members on the ground have died from enemy air attacks since three were killed during the Korean War more than 60 years ago.

Control of the air gives a military power the opportunity to exploit height, reach and speed, enabling informed decision-making, the ability to strike freely at a distance, and the ability to maneuver unconstrained by the limits of terrain or ocean, said Dr. Richard P. Hallion, former Air Force Historian and senior advisor for air and space issues with the Directorate for Security, Counterintelligence and Special Programs Oversight.

"I go back to David versus Goliath," said Hallion, author of "Storm Over Iraq: Airpower in the Gulf War" and "Strike from the Sky: The History of Battlefield Attack." "There wasn't a manhood issue here demanding he engage in the close fight, where he could have lost. Instead, David hit him with an aerospace weapon - a rock at a distance. In the airpower era, that aerospace weapon is the airplane and missile of today."

When the North Koreans invaded the South in June 1950, they did so with overwhelming military force, and initially, without encountering immediate air attacks, Hallion said. Retired Marine Corps Col. Warren Wiedhahn experienced combat in Korea as a private first class, both with and without close air support.

During the initial days of the Korean War, "there was no close air support, the North Korean juggernaut moved very rapidly with their tanks, artillery and infantry. They annihilated everything in front of them until there was nothing left in Korea but the Pusan perimeter," Wiedhahn said.

But by then, robust air power forces - Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps - assisted by British, Australian and South Korean airmen as well - were taking a heavy toll on North Korean attackers, Hallion said.

"During that period of time, the close air support was building up," Wiedhahn said. "The ships were coming in. The Air Force was flying. Now, all of a sudden, we began to see aircraft."
After participating in the Inchon Landing and helping to liberate Seoul, Wiedhahn also fought in the battle of the Chosin Reservoir a few months later. United Nations forces chased the North Korean army to the southern tip of South Korea until China sent more than 100,000 troops that surrounded about 30,000 U.N. troops.

"When we were up in the Chosin Reservoir, and the Chinese decided to attack, we began to see air - mostly Navy and Marine Corps (Vought F4U) Corsairs off of the carriers. That's how I really began to appreciate close air support. It (Control of the air) is absolutely, positively vital.

After a 17-day battle in sub-zero temperatures, the Marines managed to withdraw to the coast, where they were evacuated in December."

"Indeed, air power saved the Marines from annihilation as they made their way from the reservoir down to the coast," Hallion said.

Five years after Wiedhahn retired as a colonel in 1982, he talked with four of the Chinese he fought against in the Chosin Reservoir during a visit to Beijing as part of his Virginia-based Military Historical Tours organization. About 40 years later, the sights and sounds of American aircraft were still engrained in their memories.

"One of the greatest things we feared was your airpower," the Chinese told Wiedhahn. They said, they always moved at night, and never moved when the weather was clear because of their fear of our planes.

Air superiority and supremacy are two of the five conditions in the air warfare spectrum, along with air paralysis, air inferiority and air parity. There is actually a huge difference between air superiority and supremacy that can be especially costly in war, Hallion said.

"Air superiority is the absolute minimal condition we should ever be prepared to fight with," he said. "Air superiority means that the enemy is still able to undertake air action against you, but you are able to confound and defeat it. What we should really seek is what we had in the latter stages of World War II and what we had in the (Persian) Gulf War, where we had air supremacy, indeed, we had air dominance. That's where you so thoroughly dominate your opponent that they are instantly confronted with air attack, and they are unable to do anything about it.

"We had air supremacy, clearly, in the first Gulf War because in that war, the Iraqi air force was simply unable to intervene either against our coalition air forces or against coalition surface forces. At the end of the Gulf War in 1991, by the second or third week, the Iraqi air force was fleeing the country, and the air action there was primarily intercepting aircraft trying to flee to Iran.

That's what happens when you have air supremacy, and in the best of all circumstances, air dominance. You can then devote 100 percent of your air effort to ensure that the people on the ground get the support they need to prosecute the ground war."
Gen. Charles A. Horner, who commanded all U.S. and allied air assets during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, credited the airpower dominance to the intelligence, preparation and training before the invasion.

"When did we get air superiority? We had it before the war began because we had the means to get it - the equipment, intelligence, training, and the courage of the aircrews," Horner said.

"But do not get the idea that gaining control of the air was easy. It was not a macho, no-sweat operation. What turned into a turkey shoot in late January and February started out as a bitter struggle; those first few days were the hardest-fought, most-critical aspect of the entire war."

Because the Air Force has had almost an unprecedented control of the skies for decades, it might be easy to forget how costly it was to achieve air superiority, especially during World War II. In the European and Mediterranean theaters alone, the U.S. lost 4,325 fighters and bombers before D-Day, with 17,000 killed and 21,000 wounded or POW in the fight for air superiority and didn't achieve theater-wide supremacy until the final days of the war. More

Airmen were killed in aerial missions over Europe "than all the Marines who unfortunately died in the entire span of World War II," said retired Gen. David Deptula, who was the Air Force's senior intelligence community official when he was the Headquarters Air Force deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Deptula was also the main attack planner during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and a joint task commander for Operation Northern Watch in 1998-99.

"If you take a look at how many aircraft we lost in the Vietnam War - 2,781 Air Force and Navy combined, that was against a fifth-rate power with only 206 fighter aircraft. Why did that happen? Because, we were late in achieving air superiority.
"It took us some 30 years to apply the air superiority lesson, but we did it in the form of
developing the F-15 (Eagle). But those F-15s first flew in 1972, and now some of them are more than 30 years old. In 1979, I flew F-15s at Kadena Air Base, Japan. In 2008, my son was flying the exact same tail numbers I did, but it was 29 years later, and that was five years ago.

Today, we have a geriatric combat Air Force, and we badly need to recapitalize it in order to maintain the advantage of air supremacy in the future."

Without control of the air, troops on the ground face many hardships and hazards, as the late Gen. Bruce K. Holloway, vice chief of staff during the Vietnam War, wrote in an article for Air University Press.

For six decades, American troops haven't had to experience "what it's like to lose mobility except at night; to be cut off from supplies and reinforcements; to be constantly under the watchful eye of enemy reconnaissance aircraft; to be always vulnerable to strafing and bombing attacks; to see one's fighters and bombers burn on their handstands; and to be outnumbered, outgunned and outmaneuvered in the air," Holloway wrote in his article, "Air Superiority in Tactical Air Warfare."

However, there are some who aren't convinced the Air Force's decades-long dominance of the air is a certainty, especially with recent cuts in weapons systems such as the F-22 Raptor, which Deptula calls "the most capable aircraft ever built specifically to achieve air superiority," and F-35 Lightning II. In 2009, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates called for capping the original 722 Raptors to 187. Three years later, across-the-board defense spending cuts have put the F-35 at risk.

"There are newer threats out there, quite frankly, that could defeat the aircraft that we currently have," Deptula said. "That's why the Air Force works so hard to recapitalize those aircraft by building F-22s and F-35s that can operate, using modern technology, to achieve air dominance by networking capabilities with sensors that we never had in the past.

"Our challenge in the future is we're not going to have time to do what we did in World War II - bring America's industrial might to bear over the time necessary to create the kinds of aircraft to maintain our superiority advantage. It falls on Airmen of today, to articulate the air superiority lessons of the past and to make the Airman's voice in the defense of our nation heard. Today's Airmen need to be unabashedly clear about the lessons of history in order to maintain our capabilities in the future."

As vital as Eisenhower perceived air superiority to success on D-Day, some airpower experts wonder if the day will come when the U.S. won't have the control of the skies needed for a crucial confrontation with another military power.

"I think the greatest danger we face as a nation today is to assume that air and space power is a God-given right to the United States of America, and we will always enjoy it," Hallion said.

"We see that sometimes, unfortunately, in our sister services. They have labored so long with perfect freedom of maneuver because of the American airpower shield that we've put over their heads that I think many individuals fail to realize that it is perishable. Air dominance is like freedom itself - you have to constantly nurture it, care for it and invest in it to ensure that you will still have it."

AMC activates electronic program for base visit requests

by Ed Shannon
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

4/19/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- Air Mobility Command officials will implement an online program next week to streamline the approval process for official visitors and sponsored guests at AMC active duty bases, according to Maj. Elizabeth Taillon, AMC Gatekeeper.

When activated, the Electronic Gatekeeper (E-GK) program, designed through a partnership between the AMC Inspector General and Communications directorates, represents the sole method for requesting an external visit to any AMC active duty base and a more efficient method of tracking inspection and non-inspection activities, including visits, Taillon said.

Officials plan for the new system to 'go live' April 22, improving upon a labor-intensive process to log, track and deconflict visits. The current method involves Excel spreadsheets and a large amount of 'back and forth' email traffic.

"Leaning forward, this is the best, most innovative tool to make this process more efficient," Taillon said. "The E-GK tool is a one-stop shop because once a customer or potential visitor submits a request, it generates automated emails to the base gatekeeper, AMC gatekeeper and the requestor. Gone are the days of arduous email exchanges because the new system improves communication involved with visit request coordination."

Grand Forks, MacDill, and Travis Air Force Bases participated in a three-month test pilot program beginning in April 2012. Officials at the three bases raved about benefits of the new program.

"The new system provides commanders at all levels greater visibility of visits and non-normal day-to-day activities going on at the base," said Lt. Col. Brian Mahoney, Grand Forks AFB Installation Inspector General. "It creates better and more formalized communication within the inspection and visit notification process and ensures my wing commander is aware of all activities going on at the base."

In addition to better visibility to the number and types of visitors at AMC bases, Dan Johnson, chief of the Plans and Programs Directorate and primary gatekeeper at Travis AFB, said the program delivers a much smarter way for AMC to conduct business.

"The bottom line is we need to work smarter, and we find this new process very useful," Johnson said.

Larry Cresswell, MacDill AFB Exercises and Inspections chief, said he is a 'staunch supporter' of Electronic Gatekeeper.

"E-Gatekeeper is a force multiplier," he said. "The new process is 100 percent more efficient than the old process."

Customers will experience huge benefits with the system, according to Master Sgt. Ben Parish, AMC deputy gatekeeper.

"No matter day or night, the program can be accessed by potential visitors from anywhere in the world," Parish said. "This system takes a manual labor intensive process and automates it. Customers simply input request information in fields that are easy to navigate. Once the information is loaded, one click activates the coordination process. They can check back in the system for the status of the request, too."

According to Taillon, Maj. Scott Lewis, who served as AMC Gatekeeper at the time, worked with AMC Communications Directorate officials in 2011 to develop the E-GK tool.

With a project that began approximately four years ago, the team invested more than 300 hours into the project and see a positive impact on the gatekeeper program, through which AMC active duty bases receive more than 700 visits annually, Taillon said.

She anticipates reduction in the amount of work required to manage the gatekeeper program by two-thirds.

554th RHS receives warm welcome after deployment

by Senior Airman Benjamin Wiseman
36th Wing Public Affairs

4/18/2013 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --  -- Smiling family, friends and coworkers welcomed Airmen of the 554th RED HORSE Squadron upon arrival at Hangar 1 on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, April 16, after a seven-month deployment to Southwest Asia.

One-hundred-eighteen members of the 554th RHS, along with four members of the 36th Wing, conducted construction projects for eight different sites in and around the region.

"While deployed, we provided troop labor construction to the Gulf Coast States, Afghanistan and even the Horn of Africa," said Lt. Col. Christopher Fuller, 554th RHS commander.  "The greatest part about this deployment was the fact that we went as a whole unit to work large construction projects, turn a flat desert into an operational base and start other construction projects for the next cycle, all in our one rotation."

During their deployment, the 554th RHS maintained a heavy workflow as they constructed various large projects.

"We built the second largest project in the history of the theater in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan," said Chief Master Sgt. Brent Sheehan, 554th RHS chief enlisted manager. "We also built four of 11 U.S. Central Command top priorities while deployed."

While the Airmen were deployed, family and friends counted the days until their loved ones were home once again.

"My husband, Tech. Sgt. Troy Woods, left seven months ago and it has been a long time," said Misty Woods, military spouse. "There were those rough days where I had to manage everything, so I am excited that he is finally coming home today."

Family and friends waited anxiously at Hangar 1 for the arrival of the plane. As the aircraft door opened, Airmen raced to the hangar to see their loved ones for the first time since September 2012.

"When I saw Troy get off the plane, I knew I had my best friend back and the family is back together," said Mrs. Woods. "Now he can see the children grow up instead of having to hear about it over the Internet."

With the successful completion of their deployment, members of the 554th RHS will spend time with their families as the next expeditionary RHS takes the reins and continues the mission downrange.

317th AG participates in first Big Country JPADS CAPEX

by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Stefanko
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

4/18/2013 - DYESS, Texas -- Airmen with the 317th Airlift Group completed the first Big Country Joint Precision Airdrop System Capabilities Training Exercise April 11, at Fort Hood, Texas, to test a piece of technology designed to deliver cargo with pinpoint accuracy in even the most hostile environments.

The technology in JPADS uses global positioning satellites, steerable parachutes and an on-board computer to steer cargo to a designated point of impact on a drop zone, a capability similar to Joint Direct Attack Munitions.

During the exercise, 25 JPADS bundles were dropped by C-130Js from Dyess AFB, Texas and Keesler AFB, Miss., C-17s from Joint Base Charleston, S.C., and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., as well as an MC-130J from Cannon AFB, N.M., to demonstrate the ability of the airlift community to target fighting forces simultaneously, and drop cargo with pinpoint accuracy.

"The unique objectives of the Big Country JPADS CAPEX highlight the capability of re-supplying a large fighting force with precision results," said Maj. Justin Brumley, JPADS CAPEX mission commander. "Exercises like this demonstrate our ability to target individuals, and or individual fighting forces simultaneously, and drop cargo with precision."

Traditional airdrops by Air Force airlifters are at altitudes of 400 to 1,000 feet. With JPADS, those same bundles can be dropped and guided from as high as 25,000 feet with pinpoint accuracy, allowing aircrew to drop cargo at a safe distance while also reducing the time ground troops are exposed to enemy fire.

"The 317th AG Airmen, over the last two years, have repeatedly displayed the importance of precision airdrop," Brumley said. "From training like we fight to delivering in a combat theater, we continue to push the limits of a precision re-supply delivery platform."

The main benefits to the JPADS capability includes an increase in the number of available drop zones and the cargo's precision. They also increase the survivability of the aircraft and its crew by being able to complete standoff deliveries.

"Up to this point, linear thought processes caused us to send one plane to drop with precision to one unit," Brumley said. "This demonstration, however, impresses upon the minds of our leaders how, as a joint-force, we can take multiple mobility aircraft and sustain hundreds of individual fighting positions at the same time.

"Our warfighters could literally land from a para-drop on a foreign airfield at one moment and seconds later be fully supplied by a JPADS bundle to bring their full fighting capacity to bear," he added. "Take this warfighting individual and multiply him or her by hundreds or more and you are talking about compounding effects that drive serious strategy. That is the magnitude of response we are trying to achieve from this CAPEX."

Exercises that test JPADS capabilities offer several opportunities to gather data, that in turn, improves the effectiveness and accuracy of its system.

Additionally, during the CAPEX venue, Dyess Airmen opened their doors to host a crosstalk forum. In this forum, participants discussed the current precision airdrop system, and what the future holds for precision aerial re-supply of our war-fighters.

"The joint-partners who have made it a point to participate in this exercise are nothing less than modern-day innovators," Brumley said. "They are those who know no-limits to the element of improvement."

Guard Teams Help With Crises in Massachusetts, Texas

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., April 18, 2013 – Texas and Massachusetts National Guard members are continuing to provide support to civil and local authorities in the wake of explosions in Boston and in West, Texas, many of them bringing a specialized skill set to the efforts.

This morning, more than 20 members of the Texas Army National Guard’s 6th Civil Support Team were monitoring air quality for hazardous emissions at the site of a still-burning fertilizer plant.

Additional search and extraction, and command and control capabilities from the Texas National Guard Homeland Response Force remain on alert and ready to assist if needed, officials said.

Up to 15 people are feared dead, with at least 160 injured, according to Texas officials.

National Guard civil support teams work with local authorities and provide additional support during times of emergency or the suspected use of weapons of mass destruction. The teams can identify chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents and substances, assess current and projected consequences and advise on response measures.

Members of the Texas Guard's 6th Civil Support Team and the Massachusetts Guard's 1st Civil Support Team are providing technical expertise for authorities.

The Massachusetts team was on duty during the April 15 running of the Boston Marathon, augmented by similar Guard teams from New York and Rhode Island.

In addition, the Mississippi National Guard's 47th Civil Support Team aided state, local and federal officials in identifying potentially poisonous substances mailed to the U.S. Senate and the White House.

"Initially, after a catastrophic incident, local and state responders will be the first ones on the ground," said Army Capt. Kenneth Murray, an observer, controller and trainer with the West Virginia National Guard’s Joint Interagency Training and Education Center. "Then, the civil support teams will assess the situation and the Homeland Response Force will be the first federalized unit that's going to be on the ground to provide decontamination for the sick and injured and relief for the first responders."

For the incident commander on the ground, the civil support team provides an additional resource in an already chaotic situation.

"An attack using a weapon of mass destruction would further complicate the emergency response efforts and would create a tremendous burden on a wide variety of local, state and federal recourses," said Ray Toves, director of the civil support team training and readiness division with the 196th Infantry Brigade, adding that when the team arrives on the scene, it works for the local incident commander and provides a unique capability to analyze suspected hazardous agents.

In Boston, more than 850 National Guard members were on duty to assist local authorities with logistics, security and other operations. In addition to the civil support team members, the team also included members of the Massachusetts Army National Guard's 387th Ordnance Company and the 267th Combat Communications Squadron from the Massachusetts Air National Guard. The 267th CCS brings joint incident site communications capability, which allows voice, radio and data communication across multiple systems used by first responders.

"The National Guard can be relied upon for our diverse emergency response and rapid deployment capabilities during times of need in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts." said Air Force Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, the Massachusetts adjutant general.

USS Freedom Arrives in Singapore for First Rotational Deployment

Navy News Service

SINGAPORE, April 18, 2013 – The Navy's first littoral combat ship USS Freedom arrived here today, highlighting the next phase of the ship’s deployment to Southeast Asia.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Sailors assigned to the Forward Liaison Element of the littoral combat ship USS Freedom observe the Freedom as it arrives in Singapore. Freedom is on an eight-month deployment to Southeast Asia. The littoral combat ship platforms are designed to employ modular mission packages that can be configured for surface warfare, mine countermeasures, or anti-submarine warfare. The Freedom is homeported in San Diego. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Jay C. Pugh

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"Freedom has met every milestone of this deployment on time and with the professionalism you would expect of U.S. Navy sailors," said Navy Cmdr. Timothy Wilke, USS Freedom’s commanding officer. "I'm proud of Freedom's accomplishments to date, but I'm also looking forward to putting the ship through its paces over the next several months while deployed more than 8,000 miles from homeport."

Announced at the 2011 Shangri-La Dialogue regional security conference here, Freedom's maiden overseas deployment began with a March 1 departure from its San Diego homeport. The first-in-class ship has since transited the Pacific Ocean, entered the 7th Fleet area of responsibility, and made port visits in Hawaii, Guam and, most recently, in Manila. Additional port visits will occur throughout the deployment.

As with other parts of this deployment, lessons learned from logistics and maintenance support during the transit and port visits will inform follow-on rotational deployments, as well as the overall littoral combat ship program, officials said.

Next month, Freedom will participate in the International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference here. In the following months, Freedom will join regional navies and other 7th Fleet units in select phases of exercises Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training and Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training. Occurring throughout Southeast Asia, both exercises provide Freedom opportunities to train extensively with comparable-sized ships.

"We plan on spending most of our time here in Southeast Asia. This will be Freedom's neighborhood for the next eight months," Wilke said. "We are eager to get out and about, work with other regional navies and share best practices during exercises, port visits and maritime security operations."

Fast, agile, and mission-focused, littoral combat ship platforms are designed to employ modular mission packages that can be configured for three separate purposes: surface warfare, mine countermeasures, or anti-submarine warfare. Freedom will be initially manned by its "Gold" crew of 91 sailors, including mission package personnel and an aviation detachment to operate an embarked MH-60 helicopter.

Freedom will remain homeported in San Diego throughout this rotational deployment to Southeast Asia. Midway through the deployment, the ship’s "Blue" crew, commanded by Navy Cmdr. Patrick C. Thien, will take over.

Face of Defense: Soldier Recalls Rise From Childhood Environment

By Army Sgt. Scott Akenwich
79th Sustainment Support Command

LOS ANGELES, April 18, 2013 – As she was growing up in poverty-stricken South Central Los Angeles, an environment notorious for its drug and gang activity, now-retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Angela Haslip-Farris knew her destiny did not lie there. She knew there was much more beyond the seemingly inescapable cycle of chaos surrounding her.

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Army Sgt. 1st Class Angela Haslip-Farris smiles during her retirement ceremony at Joint Forces Training Base Los Alamitos, Calif., April 6, 2013. She overcame tough childhood circumstances to have successful military and civilian careers. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Scott Akenwich

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“I had seen so much of the lifestyle around me carry on from one generation to the next. I knew I had to lift myself up out of it,” said Haslip-Farris, who recently retired after 32 years in uniform. “Back in high school, I had no sense of direction. What I saw for myself was a predestined life of poverty, and I vowed to myself I’d never live like that.”

“I never thought for a minute that would be me,” she said, recalling visits to her high school by Army recruiters. After graduating, she began attending Los Angeles Community College, but something still wasn’t quite right, she added.

“I had always been told growing up I was a bastard child who would never succeed,” she said, noting that she was born out of wedlock to an alcoholic mother and that her father was not part of her life. “For a long time, I believed I couldn’t escape from LA and the environment I was in. Many friends of mine were into drugs or getting pregnant.”

Haslip-Farris was raised by her grandmother from the age of 8 months, and despite the traps that constantly surrounded her, another constant was religion.

“As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been in church,” she said. “I was taught to always love myself, because God loved me more. This gave me a sense of purpose and made me realize my destiny truly [was] elsewhere.”

Armed with her faith, a newfound sense of drive and strong-willed determination, Haslip-Farris marched on -- literally and figuratively.

During her first few semesters of community college, Haslip-Farris got a phone call that would lead her to the destiny she always knew awaited her, she said.

“One of the recruiters who had visited my high school called to check up on me and see how I was doing,” she said. The call led to taking the pre-test for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and doing well on it, she added. She enlisted Nov. 13, 1980.

Before she left for basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., she had one last roadblock to overcome.
“I had an uncle we just called ‘Lucky,’ who kept telling me things like ‘You won’t make it through,’ and ‘You’ll be back home in no time,’” Haslip-Farris said. “I used this for motivation during the tough times, because I wanted to prove him wrong.”

During basic training, a foxhole confrontation with a snake and a bout with heat exhaustion helped her realize that Uncle Lucky’s discouraging words had been a psychological ploy all along.

“He really didn’t want me to fail,” Haslip-Farris said. “It sure worked. After that, I knew I could accomplish anything.”

From there, she went on to Fort Gordon, Ga., for advanced individual training. After a tour of duty in Germany, she joined the Army Reserve and served for 28 more years in a career that included instructor duty. Training troops from the front of a classroom is where she found her true calling within the ranks, she said.

“Just having the ability to provide information and bestow knowledge on soldiers was the proudest accomplishment of my career,” she added. “I believe it was an innate gift from God to bless me with the ability to give instruction to others and have many of them approach me after the fact and thank me.”
In fact, Haslip-Farris was so immersed in her work it sometimes was difficult for her to switch off the intensity, said her husband, retired Army Sgt. Maj. Robert Farris.

“Once, I went to pick her up at the conclusion of annual training at Camp Parks,” he said. “It was about 8 p.m. when I got there, and she was sleeping while she waited for me. So I tried to wake her up and ask her if she wanted anything to eat, and all she could say was, ‘Hurry up! Wake up all the soldiers -- we have formation in 30 minutes!’ She was so into the training, she didn’t know where she was, what was going on, or even that it was me waking her up. I just said, ‘Girl, you need a rest.’ I had a good laugh about that one for a long time.”

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Winsome Laos, 650th Regional Support Group, has known and worked with Haslip-Farris for 20 years. They met at Camp Parks in 1990 when Laos replaced her as an instructor after a rotation of training had ended.

“What first struck me about her was her kind-hearted nature,” Laos said. “For example, she offered me all her notes and materials from the course to help me make a smooth transition -- something a lot of people wouldn’t have done.”

It was not only her wealth of knowledge and experience that made her so effective in front of a class, she said, but her engaging and entertaining teaching methods.

In her civilian career, Haslip-Farris has worked for a shipping and delivery company for 22 years and has used what she learned in the Army to catapult herself up the corporate ladder. She is a field human resources specialist, overseeing two districts encompassing all of Southern California.

“Every skill set I’ve learned in the Army has transferred over to my [civilian career],” she said. “My military experience has helped me progress and be promoted several times.”

During her April 6 retirement ceremony at 79th Sustainment Support Command Headquarters, Joint Forces Training Base Los Alamitos, Calif., Haslip-Farris was wistful about only one aspect of her career: that it had to end.

“The military was my parent and grew me up from when I was 18,” she said. “I’ve spent my entire adult life in the Army. I was in a bit of a period of mourning, but I don't feel sad anymore. I count this journey as one of success and honor. It was truly an honor to have been known as a soldier.”

Airmen fight hunger through 'Food for Kidz'

by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega, Jr.
944th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

4/16/2013 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Global hunger took another hit today by Luke Air Force Base service members and their families April 13 as they worked alongside community organizations to build "Food for Kidz" boxes.

Approximately 165 volunteers from Luke AFB spent about six hours packaging 105,000 meals, which will be sent to Afghanistan to feed hungry children. The event was headed by Grace Bible Fellowship Church in Sun City and fueled by service members and their families.

Retired Lt. Gen. John Bradley, former Air Force Reserve Command commander, requested the church to donate time, resources and efforts to the Lamia Afghan Foundation. The nonprofit foundation was founded by Bradley and his wife and was inspired by an experience he had in Afghanistan when a little 9-year old girl named Lamia begged him for his boots.

"This food packing event is going to be a lot of help to a lot of families," Bradley said. "We've sent food from "Food for Kidz" many times in the past, and they have always been very generous. I also want to thank the Airmen and their families for coming here today to help with this food packing event. It shows each has a good heart for people in need, and there are people in need all over the world, especially in Afghanistan."

The meals will be distributed to refugee camps and orphanages in Afghanistan by the Lamia foundation, whose mission it is to help the children and disadvantaged people of Afghanistan by providing humanitarian aid, educational opportunities and vocational training that will provide the next generation of Afghans with opportunities unavailable to their parents.

Capt. Kenya Gray, 56th Fighter Wing Chapel, was the project officer who directed and coordinated this year's event. "The Air Force is great, the best people to ever work for because they will step up and have your back, and that's what all I'm about, people having each other's back," Gray said.

Mary Baumgartem, "Food for Kidz" of Minnesota vice chairman, along with her grandson, donated their time and provided insight into what the meals should consist of and the cost.

"Food for Kidz" mission is to provide the opportunity to anyone to package a specially designed, fully nutritious meal, and to distribute this packet of food to hungry children and their families wherever crisis has struck and there is an immediate need, she said.

The boxes contain rice, soy flour, dehydrated vegetables, vegan protein powder and spices which are sealed in industrial-grade plastic bags and have a shelf life of seven years. The cost per meal is 15 cents and there are 36 bags in a box. Each bag is able to feed six people, therefore one box costing $32.40 can feed a child for seven months.

"I volunteer because I wanted to find something that I could do to help other people," said Baumgartem, who's been with "Food for Kidz" 10 years. I thought I'd be busy one night a week, within a 50-mile radius, and it has turned into a wonderful fulltime job."

Karl Main, who has coordinated the event the last two years, is a military missionary with Cadence International and a member of Grace Bible Fellowship Church. He's been serving the Luke community for nearly 14 years.

"We do this to help Airmen. Men and women have expressed a desire to give of themselves and their time to help needy people around the world," he said.

The humanitarian project was a base-wide event bringing Airmen together from every group and affiliation of the 944th Fighter Wing as well as the 56th FW, according to organizers.

"I decided to volunteer for this event because I have a soft spot for children and hungry babies make me want to help," said Senior Airman Leslie Eccles, 56th Operations Support Squadron. "It's good to see how we are trying to help over there."

Reserve Raptor crews test combat readiness

by Tech. Sgt. Dana Rosso
477th Fighter Group

4/15/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- The 477th Fighter Group participated in Polar Force 13-3, a two-phase operational readiness exercise designed to test the unit's ability to deploy on short notice as well as to operate and survive in a wartime environment.

The exercise was part of the unit's normally scheduled training plan. Phase one tests the unit's ability to respond to a short notice tasking, prepare aircraft, equipment and personnel to deploy to a simulated hostile location. Phase two tests the unit's ability to survive in a simulated combat environment.

"This exercise provided a great opportunity for our operations, maintenance and support personnel to exercise their deployment capability," said Col. Tyler Otten 477th FG commander. "While our pilots and maintainers have exercised with the active duty's 3rd Wing before, this was the first time the 477th FG support personnel have participated. It showed us what areas we need to work, but also showed us how much we have accomplished since the group was activated."

This is the first time that the Air Force Reserve 477th Fighter Group has fully participated alongside the Active Duty 673rd Air Base Wing and 3rd Wing as well the Air National Guard 176th Wing, demonstrating Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's commitment to Total Force Integration.

Throughout the exercise Airmen responded to simulated attacks and scenarios designed to test their ability to survive and operate under the stressful conditions of a hostile environment. These simulated attacks range from conventional or chemical attacks delivered by missiles, mortars, rockets,
small arms fire as well as improvised explosive devices. Airmen are evaluated on their ability respond to each simulated situation and keep a combat focus as they continue to execute the mission.

National Guard's civil support teams respond to crisis nation-wide

by Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau

4/18/2013 - ARLINGTON, Va. -- Texas and Massachusetts National Guard members are continuing to provide support to civil and local authorities in the wake of the West, Texas, and Boston Marathon explosions, and many of those on duty bring with them a specialized skill set.

On Thursday morning, more than 20 members of the 6th Civil Support Team, Texas Army National Guard, were monitoring air quality for hazardous emissions at the site of a still-burning fertilizer plant.

Additional search and extraction, and command and control capabilities from the Texas National Guard Homeland Response Force (HRF) remain on alert and ready to assist if needed.

Up to 15 were feared dead with at least 160 injured, according to Texas officials.

National Guard civil support teams work with local authorities and provide additional support during times of emergency or use of suspected weapons of mass destruction. The teams have capabilities to identify chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents and substances, assess current and projected consequences and advise on response measures.

Members of the Texas Guard's 6th Civil Support Team and the Massachusetts Guard's 1st Civil Support Team are providing technical expertise for authorities.

The Massachusetts team was on duty during the running of the Boston marathon, augmented by similar civil support teams from the New York and Rhode Island National Guards.

In addition, the Mississippi National Guard's 47th Civil Support Team aided state, local and federal officials in identifying potentially poisonous substances mailed to members of the U.S. Senate and the White House.

"Initially, after a catastrophic incident, local and state responders will be the first ones on the ground," said Army Capt. Kenneth Murray, observer/controller/trainer with the Joint Interagency Training and Education Center, West Virginia National Guard. "Then, the civil support teams will assess the situation and the Homeland Response Force will be the first federalized unit that's going to be on the ground to provide decontamination for the sick and injured and relief for the first responders."

For the incident commander on the ground, the CST provides an additional resource in an already chaotic situation.

"An attack using a weapon of mass destruction would further complicate the emergency response efforts and would create a tremendous burden on a wide variety of local, state and federal recourses," said Ray Toves, director of the Civil Support Team Training and Readiness Division with the 196th Infantry Brigade, adding that when the CST arrives on the scene, they work for the local incident commander and bring him or her a unique capability to analyze suspected hazardous agents on site.

In Boston, more than 850 National Guard members were on duty to assist local authorities with logistics, security and other operations. In addition to the CST members, the team also included members of the Massachusetts Army National Guard's 387th Ordnance Company (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) and the 267th Combat Communications Squadron from the Massachusetts Air National Guard. The 267th CCS brings with them the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability, which allows voice, radio and data communication across multiple systems used by first responders.

"The National Guard can be relied upon for our diverse emergency response and rapid deployment capabilities during times of need in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts." said Air Force Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, adjutant general of the Massachusetts National Guard.

Follow Me: Yokota Airmen assist transitory aircraft on the move

by Osakabe Yasuo
374th Airlift Wing public affairs

4/17/2013 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- When transiting aircraft land and taxi on the airfield at Yokota Air Base, Japan, "Follow-Me" vehicles immediately lead them to designated parking spots. Although this happens daily at Yokota, taking care of aircraft regardless of their origin is what transient alert does.

The 374th Maintenance Squadron Transient Alert conducts the mission 24/7 and provides vital assistance to aircraft and crew members. Transient alert at Yokota handles on average 150-200 aircraft a month and 2,000 aircraft a year.

"Our primary mission is to support any and all aircraft landing at Yokota that are not stationed here," said Tech. Sgt. John Lyon, 374 MXS Transient Alert maintenance section chief. "We provide a "Follow-Me" service to all transient aircraft and act as a maintenance liaison for the aircrews."

Transient alert not only provides servicing and maintenance support for U.S. military aircraft, but also aircraft transiting through Yokota Air Base, including Japan Self-Defense Forces, United Nations Command Rear and commercial aircraft. With a variety of nations transiting through Yokota, Lyon said he doesn't find the language barrier problem when communicating with foreign personnel.

"Luckily, English is a universal language that most pilots and maintainers use around the world, so we're able to get through most conversations pretty well," Lyon added. "A lot of the time, the (foreign) personnel passing through will be accompanied by someone who speaks English. Our mission with the JASDF here on base is one that really lets us work side by side and learn some of our host nation's culture and language."

The day starts for transient alert with a pre-mission request from base operations, providing information on transient aircraft arriving and departing Yokota each day. The request is logged into their system, along with any special requirements, including fuel needed or distinguished visitors onboard.

The teams are familiar with the daily requests and aircraft handling, according to Lyon, but one of the challenging aspects for transient alert is dealing with last-minute diversions.

March 11, 2011, one of the most devastating earthquakes and tsunamis to ever hit Japan disrupted flight operations at several Japanese airports, including Tokyo's Narita International Airport. In response to the crisis, Yokota Air Base became an interim landing site for 11 aircraft that were diverted from quake-stricken airports.

"Operation Tomadachi was a great example of the outstanding work and dedication these guys here at transient alert are known for," Lyon said. "Immediately after the earthquake, members of the shop had to jump into emergency-response mode as the base had to set up and support 11 commercial airliners diverting here. Alert members who were off-duty quickly responded to support ongoing operations."

That night, base operation and transient alert rolled into Operation Tomodachi and started making parking plans for contingency aircraft parking, he added.

His team worked around the clock supporting Navy C-130H; Marine CH-46 Sea Knight, SH-60 Sea Hawk, UC-35 Citation, C-12 Huron and KC-130 Hercules; Air Force MC-130 Combat Shadow, MC-130 Combat Talom, HH-60 Pave Hawk and C-130 Hercules; as well as Royal Australian Air Force C-17s and Royal Thai Air Force C-130s. A number of cargo, troop and distinguished-visitor movements were also supported by his team, according to Lyon.

"Overall, while it was a tragedy that the tsunami happened, it was humbling to have an opportunity to support our host nation in such a way," Lyon said, looking back on the Operation Tomodachi.

Dempsey, South Korean Counterpart Reaffirm Alliance

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2013 – The alliance between the United States and South Korea is stronger than ever, the top military officers from both countries said today.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Jung Seung-jo, his South Korean counterpart, convened the 37th Republic of Korea-United States Military Committee meeting via teleconference.

“On the basis of the mutual defense treaty, the two chairmen reaffirmed not only the commitment to enhancing mutual security, but also the commitment to the enduring mission of the alliance, which is to defend the Republic of Korea through a robust combined defense posture,” Pentagon officials said in a written statement summarizing the meeting. “They also reaffirmed that both countries will respond firmly to any provocation by North Korea, in accordance with the Republic of Korea-United States Bilateral Counter-Provocation Plan.”

Dempsey reiterated the firm and unwavering commitment of the United States to defend South Korea using all available military capabilities, including forces postured on the Korean Peninsula, its nuclear umbrella, and conventional strike and missile defense capabilities, the statement said.

Jung expressed South Korea's commitment to strengthen the level of its capabilities, the statement continued, and to enhance the level of military cooperation in the region in response to North Korea's ongoing pattern of defiance and provocative actions, which pose a serious threat to the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia, and international peace and security.

Both chairmen also reaffirmed their commitment to further enhance the alliance's deterrence capabilities and highlighted the bilateral decision to prepare sufficient capabilities for South Korea’s defense.

In addition, the Republic of Korea-United States Military Committee reaffirmed that preparations for wartime operational control transition are on track with the Strategic Alliance 2015 implementation plan, the statement said.

“To ensure a resolute and enduring combined defense posture, the military committee shared perspectives on the future command structure and agreed to refine the specifics and make a recommendation and seek approval at the security consultative meeting this October,” officials added.

Both chairmen agreed today’s discussions made a significant contribution to enhancing the alliance and strengthening the military relations between the two countries, and they agreed to hold the next committee meeting at a mutually convenient time this year.

Air Force Combat Talons fly for last time

by Tech. Sgt. Samuel King Jr.
919th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

4/18/2013 - DUKE FIELD, Fla.  -- The Air Force's last four MC-130E Combat Talon I's spread their wings for a final mission from their home at Duke Field on April 15.

The Talons will be officially retired in a ceremony at Duke Field on April 25 and the aircraft will then be flown to the "boneyard" at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ. April 25th commemorates the 33rd anniversary of the Desert One mission to free the Iranian Hostages - several of the MC-130E's at Duke Field took part in that mission.

"This is an emotional and historic day for the Airmen of the 919th Special Operations Wing," said Col. Andy Comtois, 919th SOW Commander. "Since our inception, the 919 SOW has primarily been a C-130 wing and, for almost 20 years, a Combat Talon wing. We will miss these great warbirds."

The four Talons took off as two two-ships carrying more than 40 of the Wing's Airmen who had a long association with the Talon I's and wanted to be a part of the historic final flight.

"I was glad we were allowed to be a part of it," said Tech. Sgt. Lora Huett, of the 919th Force Support Squadron. "The best part was when they opened up the ramp and took people back to sit on it. It was a beautiful view."

Chief Master Sgt. Tom Mason, the wing's new command chief, flew his last mission as a loadmaster on Aircraft 64-551. The chief transitioned to the loadmaster career field when the Talons arrived at Duke in 1995.

"I've had many great missions over the years both at home and in war," said Mason. "I don't know that I could have planned a more honorable way to end my career as an enlisted aviator than with the last flight of the mighty Combat Talons."

The final flight and the upcoming retirement of the Talons are large steps in the continuing transition to the new Aviation Foreign Internal Defense mission for Air Force Special Operations Command. More than five of the wing's new aircraft, the C-145A, already populate the Duke flightline.

"As our future mission emerges, we must say goodbye to the past," said Comtois. "The sun has set on the Talon mission. The 919th looks forward to a new aircraft and a new mission. Our Citizen Air Commandos are more than ready and capable to take on this new challenge."

The MC-130E made its first Air Force flight in 1966 and has taken part in every major U.S. conflict since. The Talon's primary mission was to provide infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces and equipment in hostile or denied territory.

Secondary missions include psychological operations and helicopter and vertical lift air refueling.

128th ARW Trains to Survive and Operate

by Staff Sgt. Jenna Hildebrand
128th ARW/Public Affairs

4/17/2013 - MILWAUKEE -- The 128th Air Refueling Wing conducted Ability to Survive and Operate training on base during their unit training assembly here Apr. 6, 2013.

ATSO training prepares Airmen to secure their installation and continue to do their jobs in the event of nuclear, biological, radiological, or chemical warfare.

During the training, unit members donned their chemical defense equipment and operated under attack conditions. They performed post-attack reconnaissance by reporting chemical contamination, unidentified explosive ordinances and other hazards to their unit control centers. While performing the PAR sweeps, unit members also located personnel casualties and practiced self-aid and buddy care.

The training that the unit members performed is intended to prepare them for upcoming operational readiness exercises, which further prepares the wing for inspections.

"This weekend is setting the foundation for basic skills of survivability and operation," said Lt. Col. Paige Augustino, the wing Exercise Evaluation Team Chief. "We need to protect ourselves and get the base recovered and functioning as soon as possible because our main function is getting the airplanes off the ground."

While most of the unit members practiced ATSO training in and around their squadrons, the aircrews also prepared for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attacks.

"Aircrew members are training by donning chemical defense equipment equivalent to that of the ground crew, with the exception that their gear is compatible with the airplane," said Senior Master Sgt. Shane Loomis, an Aircrew Flight Equipment technician.

Aircrew Eye and Respiratory Protection Systems can connect to the aircraft oxygen and power supply so aircrew members can fly without getting contaminated in the aircraft. Ground crew support helped the aircrews get to and from the aircraft safely. Afterwards, the ground crew processed the aircrews through a new decontamination system.

This training will improve our members' capabilities and is vital for base survivability, said Augustino.

A tribute to the Doolittle Raiders

Commentary by Lt. Col. Matthew Rodman
34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron

4/18/2013 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- The 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron will pay tribute by flying American flags during B-1B Lancer missions on the anniversary of the Doolittle Raid, April 18.

Pearl Harbor was only the first of many bold moves that made Japan seem nearly invincible in the early months of World War II. For a time, it was as if America and her allies were resigned to watch Japan devour chunks of Asia and the Pacific. In this grim environment, the Navy hatched a daring plan to strike back: If carriers could not get close enough to Japan for fighter aircraft, and even the heaviest of Army bombers were out of range, why not launch smaller medium bombers from the decks of carriers?

In 1942, Army Air Forces Lt. Col. James "Jimmy" Doolittle, one of the most respected aviators in America, was tasked with making the allied plan a reality. He needed to find a two-engine bomber small enough to launch from a carrier yet with enough range to reach Japan, and a payload to make the trip matter. It was Doolittle who hand-picked the B-25 Mitchell and the 17th Bomb Group - composed of the 34th, 37th, 95th Bomb and the 89th Reconnaissance squadrons. Trusting Doolittle, they volunteered, trusted and deployed without knowing their true mission.

Doolittle's Raiders sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge in early April. On the 18th, the task force was spotted by the Japanese almost 200 miles from their intended launch point. Doolittle's 16 bombers launched early without even the time or fuel to join into formation. They flew individually to dispersed targets and consequently achieved only minor military and industrial damage. The strategic effect, however, cannot be underestimated. The raid was a boost for America's morale and a devastating blow to Japan. Belief in the Japanese peoples' invincibility and confidence in their isolation was shattered. Japan withdrew troops to defend their islands and rushed plans to attack more U.S. targets, namely Midway. As a result, the tide of the entire Pacific war would turn in favor of the allies within two months, and it all started with a daring raid and the small glimmer of hope it gave to America.

The Raiders gather on almost every anniversary since 1943 to toast their mission, commander and comrades. Each man has a small silver goblet; his name engraved both right side up and upside down. When a Raider passes, the others drink to his memory and gently invert his goblet. After today, only four of the 80 goblets will remain upright. Richard Cole, Robert Hite, Edward Saylor and David Thatcher made the difficult decision that it is time to declare the mission complete. Seventy-one years after their aircraft shuddered off the deck of the U.S.S. Hornet, today will be their final official reunion.

While the Raiders use these anniversaries to remember for themselves, they do something even more important; they serve to remind the rest of us.

The Raiders remind us, first, that we do not fight alone. Without a joint effort, the Doolittle Raid would not have happened. For as much as each service brings to the table, we are stronger together and stronger still with our civilian and coalition partners.

The Raiders also remind us that freedom requires sacrifice. They launched knowing that safe landings were out of the question. The best hope was parachuting out over free China. The Raiders went anyway and without hesitation. Two died in crashes. Another eight were captured, three of whom were executed. Countless thousands of civilians were murdered as enraged Japanese troops searched occupied Chinese territory for the Airmen.

The Raiders remind us, above all, that we have an important legacy to uphold. In the military, we stand on the shoulders of generations of heroes. Fittingly, B-1B Bombers from the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, one of Doolittle's own, will be flying into combat as the Raiders lift their goblets today. They do so to protect coalition lives, hold the enemy at risk, and give the people of Afghanistan their own small glimmer of hope.

Wherever you may be today, consider raising a glass to the Doolittle Raiders. Remember their mission and be thankful for the brave men stood up in a time of dire need when the odds were against them. Accept their reminder of what it means to be an Airman and a warrior. As their mission concludes, ours is the humbling responsibility to continue in their formidable footsteps.

Advance Headquarters Elements Operating in Jordan

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2013 – Elements of the 1st Armored Division headquarters at Fort Bliss, Texas, are preparing for what’s expected to be a year-long mission in Jordan to help the Jordanian military deal with consequences of the Syrian conflict, Army Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard, the division commander, told reporters today.

Members of the element, to be led by Army Maj. Gen. Wayne Grigsby Jr., deputy division commander for operations, are expected to rotate during the mission, Pittard said. Details are still being worked out, he added, estimating that deployments would be in the six-month range.
About 110 soldiers will deploy from Fort Bliss, with liaison officers and other augmentees to increase the element’s size closer to 200, he said.

On the ground, the element will coordinate with U.S. military forces operating in Jordan and provide assistance “in everything from humanitarian assistance to stability [operations] to other things in support of Jordan,” Pittard said. The operational role, however, is expected to be “very, very limited,” he said, adding that the headquarters is prepared to expand the mission and the scale of the mission as necessary.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the deployment during testimony yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The contingent will enhance efforts of a small U.S. military team that has been working in Jordan since last year on planning related to chemical weapons and preventing a spillover of violence across Jordan’s borders, the secretary told the Senate panel.

“These personnel will continue to work alongside Jordanian armed forces to improve readiness and prepare for a number of scenarios,” he said.

Pittard reported today that the advance party already is on the ground in Jordan preparing for the mission.

The division is regionally aligned with U.S. Central Command, and Pittard and most of his headquarters staff worked alongside their Jordanian counterparts during Exercise Eager Light in October, he said. Exercise Eager Lion, also in Jordan, is slated for June. Another portion of the headquarters is in Saudi Arabia for Exercise Earnest Leader, and others will participate in Exercise Bright Star in Egypt in September, he said.

The deployment comes just two weeks after the announcement that missile defenders based at Fort Bliss would deploy to Guam as a precautionary move to protect against North Korean missiles.
Members of the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense System battery deployed last week and are in place and operational in Guam, Pittard reported.

“They are well-trained and ready, and the capability they bring will certainly help to protect our country,” he said.

Pittard said he’s proud that Fort Bliss “has really become one of our premier installations” in the expeditionary Army.