Military News

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sheppard NCO is 2013 AETC Airman Instructor of Year

by Dan Hawkins
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs


4/25/2013 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The 2012 calendar year was a busy one for Staff Sgt. Jordan Loving between moving, learning a new job, going to Airman Leadership School and finishing up a college degree, but in the end it all paid off with his selection as Air Education and Training Command's Airman Instructor of the Year for 2013.

Loving, an aircraft metals technology instructor at the 361st Training Squadron, impressed his leadership immediately upon his arrival at Sheppard in early 2012 with his work ethic and desire to get certified to teach as soon as possible.

"Jordan's drive to be successful stood out from the beginning," said Lt. Col. Bart Kenerson, 361st TRS commander.

To achieve his goal of being certified, Loving hit the ground running. He completed the basic instructor course and ALS (as a class leader no less), not to mention finishing the final four classes he needed to earn his Community College of the Air Force associates degree.

Although the certification process can be intimidating to first-time instructors, Loving attacked every part of the process.

"It was hectic...no doubt about it," Loving said. "But I wanted to be teaching as soon as possible after I got here."

He was also instrumental in the unit's highway cleanup activities and his shop's 'Adopt-a-Highway' program.

Although relatively new to the NCO ranks (Loving was promoted to staff sergeant in November, 2012), he sees the big picture regarding the 82nd Training Wing's mission of training and inspiring Airmen.

"I like being able to affect my workplace and the students directly," Loving said. "Teaching Airmen the right way to do things and to have pride in their work...it's awesome."

Loving volunteered for instructor duty in part to be with his wife, Staff Sgt. Tulu Loving, a military training leader at the 366th Training Squadron here.

"I knew there wasn't a regular metals shop here at Sheppard," Loving said. "I was at Dyess (Air Force Base) and wanted to come to Wichita Falls, so I volunteered to be an instructor and got picked up."

Although the "I Love Me" wall is full after a year overflowing with squadron, group, wing and MAJCOM awards, Loving isn't slowing down.
 
"I'd like to finish a bachelor's degree," the NCO said of his long-term goals. "I also want to make technical sergeant...there's no excuse not to do these things here."

Students experience deployment process during Operation FLAGS

by Robert Goetz
Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs


4/25/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Students at Randolph Elementary School will soon have an opportunity to experience one of their active-duty parents' most important missions.

Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Airman and Family Readiness Center staff members, with the help of other Randolph organizations, will introduce third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students to the deployment process as part of Operation FLAGS May 3 on the elementary school campus.

Operation FLAGS, which stands for Families Learning About Global Support, has become somewhat of a tradition at Air Force bases, a means of educating families about what their loved ones go through when they deploy.

"This event will be geared to our youth and will show them what it's like to go through a deployment," Criselda Smith, 902nd Force Support Squadron community readiness consultant, said. "It's a mock trial for them to make their parents' experience relatable."

More than 300 students assigned to three 45-minute time slots during their physical education classes will go through a four-step process that seeks to replicate an active-duty member's deployment experience. Starting in the school gym, each group of some 100 students will go through in-processing, where they will be provided with dog tags and their mission statement, then receive their gear, including helmets, gas masks and ABU tops. A Combat Arms Training and Maintenance weapons display is also planned.

After receiving their gear, students will go outside and pursue their mission - locating the adversary and enlisting the help of a military working dog.

"Once they accomplish that mission, there'll be a reintegration where they'll turn in their gear and be welcomed back," Master Sgt. Joe Ugarte, Airman and Family Readiness NCO in charge, said. "They'll go through all the stages of what their mom or dad goes through on deployment."

Smith said the "welcome home" will be especially stirring.

"What's really exciting is that when they come back from deployment, there'll be music playing and people waving flags," she said. "Volunteers will wave them on as they return to their classrooms."

Volunteers will play an important role in Operation FLAGS, Ugarte said. They will include 902nd Logistics Readiness Squadron and 902nd Security Forces Squadron members as well as other active-duty members and civilians from Randolph.

However, he said more volunteers are needed for the event.

This year's event offers a new approach, Smith said.

"The children will get more of a feeling for deployment and have more empathy for their parents," she said. "It's an opportunity to experience all aspects of deployment.

"You want families to be ready for deployment, too, so now we're trying to educate children," Smith added. "It's a family effort."

To sign up as a volunteer, call Ugarte or Smith at 652-5321.

Face of Defense: Army Captain Mentors Young Scouts


By Army Spc. Jamie L. Philbrook
American Forces Press Service

FORT BRAGG, N.C., April 26, 2013 – Army Capt. John H. Green Jr., a medical operations and logistics officer with the 1st Theater Sustainment Command here, volunteers his spare time mentoring youth in Venturing.


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Army Capt. John H. Green Jr., a medical operations and logistics officer with the 1st Theater Sustainment Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., and Venturing Scouts take a break during their class on boating safety during their Sea Scout Weekend in Portsmouth, Va., April 20, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jessika Greendeer
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Venturing is a Boy Scouts of America youth development program for young men and women, according to the organization’s website.
 
Green said he has same passion today for Scouting as he did when he was a youth in the Boy Scouts.

“It’s the fun of Scouting and watching the youth have fun that keeps me in,” Green said. “I get to have just as much fun as an adult as when I was a kid.”

Green said he worked with the Iraqi Boy Scout Program when he was deployed to Iraq in 2008. He designed various collectable patches, he said, which he sold to anyone who would support the cause.

Proceeds from the patch sales were donated to help fund the Iraqi Boy Scouts program, Green said.

Green said he’ll continue to support Scouting in the Fayetteville area while he is stationed in North Carolina. He said he recently accompanied 25 Scouts from Troop 44 to Portsmouth, Va., to participate in the annual Sea Scout Weekend, which provided the Scouts an opportunity to earn their Sea Scout badge.

The Scouts learned various nautical skills -- from water safety to engine repair -- then put themselves to the test while boating on the Chesapeake Bay.

Scouting is a world-wide organization, said Green, who noted he wants to bring the advantages of Scouting to everyone who is interested.

Dempsey Emphasizes ‘Long Game,’ Teamwork in Tokyo Visit

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

TOKYO, April 26, 2013 – In a speech today at Japan’s National Institute for Defense Studies here, the United States’ senior military officer talked about America’s military, its alliances, its Asia-Pacific strategy and baseball.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addressed faculty and students at the equivalent of America’s National Defense University during the last full day of an Asia trip that also included visits to South Korea and China.

Dempsey has emphasized assurance throughout his weeklong travels, and he repeated that message today.
“I want to take a few moments to assure you,” he told his Japanese audience, “to remove any doubt about the strength and the sustainability of America’s military, and our alliance, and our Asia–Pacific strategy.”

America is not returning to the region, Dempsey said, noting that the U.S. never left the Asia-Pacific region. He pointed out that the first Japanese commercial ship to reach America docked in San Francisco in 1872, the same year Civil War veteran Horace Wilson introduced baseball to Japan.

“Baseball fans know that a team’s standing only a few weeks after opening day is not a good indicator of its post-season success,” Dempsey said. He added that baseball is a long game that involves strategy, requires talent and teamwork, and values hard work and fair play.

America and its allies need all of those qualities and more, the chairman said, as threats “can manifest themselves in a backpack or on a laptop, [and] advanced weapons are now in the hands of irresponsible regimes.”

The trends of broadening threats and lowered defense spending have led many “to question whether the United States can remain a global leader and a reliable partner,” Dempsey said. “I assure you that we can, and I know that we must. Let me tell you why.”

America’s military is strong and sustainable, he said, and is in a position of strength as it prepares to transition from a wartime footing.

“Our capabilities are without rival, and we are on the leading edge of most every area, including cyber,” the chairman said.

The U.S. military’s global presence includes hundreds of ships at sea, and the nation can project power at will, he added. “Witness our recent B-2 mission to South Korea, intended to assure our allies and deter North Korea,” Dempsey noted.

“Like the Japanese Self Defense Forces, our decisive advantage is our people,” he said. “Our men and women in uniform have proven their resilience [and] their courage, and demonstrated their mettle. They’re smart, dynamic leaders who give us all confidence in our future.”

Second, America’s alliances are strong and growing stronger, he said. “We cannot and do not underestimate their value,” Dempsey added. “As we know from baseball, talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships."

U.S. alliances in the Pacific -- with Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines and Thailand -- are strong partnerships, and the foundation of America’s Asia–Pacific strategy, he said.

“They underpin a growing network of increasingly important trilateral and multilateral relationships and forums,” the chairman added. “When you ally with the United States, you ally with the region.”

Dempsey said such alliances bring capacity, capability and credibility -- what he called the combining force, or aikido -- of U.S. relationships in the Asia-Pacific region.

“It is what gives us the agility to respond to everything from a natural disaster to a dangerous dictator,” he added.

The U.S.–Japanese alliance, with a strong mutual defense treaty and built-in interoperability, exemplifies aikido, he said.

Dempsey said during this visit to Japan, his third as chairman, he and Gen. Shigeru Iwasaki, chief of the joint staff for Japan’s Self Defense Forces, “affirmed and reaffirmed our alliance.”

He noted that among the issues the two discussed were “the renewed imperative for cooperation between the United States, Japan and South Korea.”

Here Dempsey sounded another note that has resounded throughout his travels this week: North Korea’s provocations, including nuclear launch threats, have moved from a cyclic to a sustained pattern.

“Given the missile threat -- and Kim Jong Un’s reckless rhetoric -- we have no choice but to improve our defenses and accelerate our cooperation,” the general said.

Dempsey noted he raised the same issue with Chinese civilian and military leaders in Beijing earlier this week.
“They should now understand that we can build a relationship with them without compromising on the trust we have with our enduring allies,” he said.

The U.S. strategy of choice for China and the entire region is cooperation, not confrontation, the chairman said, turning to the topic of the U.S. rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific.

“I can understand why some may wonder if the strategy is still feasible -- not just due to less money, but also due to the unrelenting pull of the Middle East,” he acknowledged.

Dempsey said the rebalancing is not only still on, it’s a strategic imperative “born of this region’s emergence as a socio-economic center of gravity for the world.”

“We’re taking a comprehensive approach,” he added. “We’re prioritizing trade and commerce, diplomacy and development,” not just in Northeast Asia, but in Southeast Asia and across the region.

Militarily, he said, the rebalancing is as much about people as things.

“Some of our best quality equipment will come out this way from time to time,” the chairman said. “Just last week, for example, our first littoral combat ship, the USS Freedom, arrived in Singapore for its first regional deployment. But more importantly, our best people will be here all the time.”

Dempsey noted America retains an agile response to world threats.

“We rapidly upgraded our missile defenses in recent weeks,” he said. “Our cooperative response to North Korean threats is a clear demonstration of our will, the strength of our alliances, and our commitment to the region -- a region on the rise and ripe with opportunity.”

The chairman concluded, “We are in the opening innings of our rebalance -- and we look forward to a long and productive season.”

Here's a kick ... Ahem ... some tips for enlisted advancement

by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
I.G. Brown Training and Education Center


4/25/2013 - MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn -- Does it require too much of a kick to advance as a service member? Does the thought of electronic career development courses (e-CDC) and professional military education (PME) study outside the base gate seem unmanageable? Instructors here at the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center have some tips.

Family, jobs, deployments and time to relax in a service member's lifestyle can cause some to put their e-CDCs and PME aside. Worse still, too many cram just before critical advancement tests and fail, putting their eligibility at risk.

"Cramming for a test does not work here or at home, and it doesn't work for the Air Force," said Tech. Sgt. Derek Westfall, an instructor here for Airman Leadership School and NCO Academy. "You have to know how to apply what you learn [so] set aside time to study and learn your role as a leader and technical expert," he said.

We will get to his tips later, but first, the kick to learning electronically, which should not to be taken casually.

The Center's instructors recently identified distance learning as one of the more challenging approaches to advancement in the Air Force. In short, it takes a lot of will power.

Any time you have been challenged in your life, you more than likely gained something from that experience; we want to help, said Westfall.

First, the instructors recommended everyone, with the time and opportunity, attend their enlisted PME in-residence.

"We realize that some Guard members and reservists have obligations that may prevent them from attending," said Staff Sgt. Kristal Coleman, EPME instructor. "That's why we offer options here like our blended learning satellite NCO Academy from home station and are developing satellite ALS too. Both require less travel."

Second, what if e-CDCs are the only choice?

Westfall said success then begins with the proper attitude and commitment.

"With your technical training, you are going to have to use that stuff, so why not study hard to be the best," he said.

From her teaching experience, Coleman said it's the Airmen who take responsibility for their learning and growth that succeed and advance.

Third: "The stuff you learn is not just for the military," said Westfall. "You are learning business practices and management skills that apply to your personal success outside the gate. So think outside the box in terms of your training."

"Don't think about how to study to pass a test, think about how to study to become the best," added Coleman.

OK, so here are the two instructors' top 10 tips:

1. Know the goal you want to achieve and why, narrow down what is your motivation. Write it out and create a plan of action to achieve it by defining clear steps with a start and finish time.

2. Discuss your e-CDC and enlisted PME commitment with family members, coworkers and friends, and let them know your plan. Tell them why it's important and ask for their support.

3. Set a specific time aside to study each day, with no distractions. Distance learning is different than classwork in that there's no classroom time; it's solitary study. Read for an understanding. Look up definitions to words you don't understand. Instructors recommend you spend an equal time reading, note taking and reviewing.

4. Don't have social media sites open when you study on the computer. Remove distractors that are not focused on your study goal. Do take advantage of social media outside of duty hours to reach those who understand difficult lessons.

5. Talk with those who know. Discuss lessons with leaders, craftsmen and technicians and ask them questions. Seek answers from others and listen to their stories on how coursework applies. Lessons cannot always predict how a concept applies to your unit and mission.

6. Being a part-time reservist or National Guard member does not mean part time learning and knowledge. Total Force service members must know their leadership and job skills equally; therefore, learning and studying should not be limited to unit training assemblies. Remember, you can be called to fulltime federal and state active duty when the nation needs you. Also, keep in mind that some lessons apply in your personal life as well as earn college credits. Consider your effort more of a life development.

7. Keep a healthy lifestyle. Get enough sleep, stay physically fit and eat right. You will be more refreshed and ready to learn if you take care of yourself.

8. When you feel you are ready to test, talk about an exam date with your education and training manager. Discuss your test date with your supervisor and quiz yourself, and take any available practice tests.

9. Reward yourself for making goals and passing exams. If you don't pass the exam, try to remember the questions and sections you had a hard time with. Don't be too hard on yourself, and talk with your supervisor, enlisted leaders or the base chaplain about how to reset and achieve your goal.

10. Last, but not least, the Lankford EPME Center highly recommends you attend in-residence for your leadership training. The National Guard provides Airmen several options for completing Airman Leadership School and Noncommissioned Officer Academy.

Face of Defense: Airman Trains for Ultramarathons


By Air Force Staff Sgt. Rachelle Elsea
U.S. Air Forces Central

SOUTHWEST ASIA, April 25, 2013 – The appetizer: four times around a 25-mile track in Missouri in September, with 10,000 feet of ascent and 10,000 feet of descent. The main course: a 100-mile point-to-point track with several water crossings and 12,000 to 15,000 feet of elevation gain in Missouri in November. The dessert: a belt buckle or two.


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Air Force Master Sgt. Robert R. Snyder Jr. runs several miles around a base in Southwest Asia, April 17, 2013, as he trains to compete in ultramarathons. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rachelle Elsea
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Air Force Master Sgt. Robert R. Snyder Jr., Air Forces Central force protection liaison officer, is a lifetime runner with the goal of completing two ultramarathons within the next year. Each race promises a signature belt buckle upon completion under the designated time.
 
"My goal is to complete the races in less than 24 hours," said Snyder, who is serving his sixth deployment. "The farthest I have run so far at one time is 40 miles."

The 39-year-old Pana, Ill., native began running as a boy and has pushed himself further and further over the years.

"I grew up on a farm," he said. "Being on the farm, most of my friends lived a couple of miles away. If my parents wouldn't take my brother and me, we would run." He began to compete in track and field in middle school and high school, with a culmination of competing at the state level for several events.

After a year of college and deciding he needed a change from the early mornings and chore-filled days on the farm, Snyder enlisted in the Air Force in October 1994. He continued to keep up the pace, competing in Air Force and civilian-community races.

"I have competed in the Defender Challenge, Peacekeeper Challenge and Atlantic Challenge,” Snyder said. “I also participated in the Bataan Memorial Death March, Austin Marathon, Air Force Marathon, the River to River Relay, a lot of 5Ks, 10Ks, and trail runs."

But ultramarathons take it to a whole new level, which will require intense dedication and self-discipline.
"I do circuit training on Tuesdays. Thursdays I do yoga. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I do weight training or Crossfit," said Snyder, who is deployed from Scott Air Force Base, Ill. "I also run three to four times a week, with my long runs falling on the weekend. I average around 40 to 55 miles a week."

A lot of his runs, he said, include wearing an elevation training mask.

“On my short recovery runs, I run with it set to 6,000 to 9,000 feet, that way my lungs get a cardio workout when I am not trying to push my pace," Snyder explained. "Also, in Illinois, I am basically at sea level, so with the elevation training mask, I can go to races in places like Colorado, where I am thousands of feet above sea level, and be prepared."

His goals also affect his diet.

"I try to eat every two hours, balancing my carbs and proteins and eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, while also taking in a lot of calories," he said. "Back home, I eat mostly organic. My staple meat is venison, which I hunt for myself. Because I am deployed and don't have access to organic, I eat vegetarian a week per month, cleaning toxins out of my system."

Snyder has a firm support team backing him: his wife and three children.

"My son, Trent, runs with me sometimes and is getting more into it," he said. His daughter, Amberly, will not allow him to leave the house with his running gear on unless he takes her with him, he added, so she accompanies him in a running stroller.

When he runs alone, Snyder said, he takes time to enjoy the peace.

"I enjoy the calmness and the quietness, especially if I am trail running, which I prefer over running on the road," he said. "It is nice to be out away from everyone, alone. It is my time to relax."

Though running is enjoyable, Snyder said, he also recognizes it as a career necessity.

"Being physically fit prepares you for the mission," he said. "You need to know what your body is capable of. If, and when, things hit the fan, you may have to drag someone, run long distances or sprint short distances."
He offered advice for people thinking about running.

"Start slow, listen to your body and set realistic goals," he said. "Join a local running club, or even try a program like Couch to 5K. it's a good starting point."

At his home base, Snyder runs with the Road Warriors running club. Air Force Senior Airman Caleb D. Brackett of the 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron is a fellow club member also deployed here.
"Everyone in our flight at home station was always nervous when he would lead [physical training], because we knew it was going to be hell," Brackett said. "I enjoyed it, though, and he always pushes people to positive levels and shows me how hard work and determination pays off."

Brackett occasionally joins Snyder on his runs here when their busy schedules allow. He also will accompany Snyder on the last 40 miles of his first ultramarathon as his handler, a common practice in the running world.
"I can say that I am a friend that will push him to dig deep and drive toward his goals," Brackett said. "It's not how fast or far people run, it's what brings us all together -- and that is our passion for running and a healthy lifestyle. When others hear about people running incredible distances, they consider it crazy. But it’s passion, and that's what drives us to where we are today."

Edwards test team extends KC-135 capabilities

by Jet Fabara
412th Test Wing Public Affairs


4/24/2013 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Known as "The Mighty War Wagon" of the United States Air Force, the KC-135 Stratotanker has proven to be the core aerial refueling capability for the Air Force for more than 50 years.

With the help of the 418th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards, along with a multitude of testers, the KC-135 Block 45 test team completed a series of tests in April to help extend the aircraft's service life for decades.

"There are currently 419 KC-135s and 59 KC-10s that enhance the Air Force's capability to accomplish its primary mission of Global Reach while providing aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and allied nation aircraft. These aircraft also provide mission support including cargo, aeromedical evacuation, personnel transport, and a variety of other specialized missions," said Maj. John Mikal, 418th FLTS KC-135 Block 45 lead project test pilot. "Increasing the life expectancy of the current Air Force tanker fleet is critical. Ongoing upgrade programs help to ensure there is no gap in these mission capabilities, while the new KC-46 program starts replacing the aging KC-135 fleet."

As part of the KC-135 Block 45 upgrades, Mikal said they included a digital flight director, a radar altimeter, an electronic engine instrument display and Automatic Flight Control System or Autopilot for Communications, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) requirements in order to maintain global airspace access.

"Maintenance sustainability was another item that was looked at, which addresses the need to deal with parts that are obsolete, since no one makes the old parts anymore," said Mikal. "Commercial off-the-shelf equipment or systems will be used to replace the existing analog flight director, radio altimeter, autopilot and 21 cockpit engine instruments with newer digital technology equipment that will be integrated into the existing avionics."

According to Mikal, the new upgrades will ensure:

- the extension and improvement of mission capability and sustainability of the KC-135 fleet
- the new digital avionics technology integrated into the legacy system will increase safety, efficiency and reliability
- effective replacement of obsolete components
- the KC-135 meets current and future CNS/ATM requirements, allowing unrestricted operations in commercial and military airspace throughout the world.

"The Block 45 modification was needed to extend the KC-135 aircraft as a viable weapon system through fiscal year 2040," added Mikal. "The Block 45 systems mitigate capability gaps and improve overall KC-135 shortcomings in reliability, maintainability and supportability."

At the initial start of the KC-135 Block 45 program, it was originally estimated that testing would end in March 2011, but the technical challenge of integrating the new digital systems proved to be very challenging, according to the test team.

"It took an amazing amount of ingenuity and hard work by the collective KC-135 Block 45 upgrade team, due to the program experiencing a two-month stop in test in early 2012 to determine the cause of a structural coupling event which occurred during flight test," Mikal said. "While clearing the aerial refueling envelope, the performance of the new autopilot altitude hold was so good, re-adjustment was required to improve stability during aerial refueling coupled flight."

Along with the 418th, the massive, multi-year undertaking required support from more than 90 members to overcome technical hurdles and prevent the very real threat of program cancellation. Of those included, individuals were acquired from the 412th Test Wing, 412th Operations Group, 412th Test and Engineering Group, 773rd Test Squadron, 775th Test Squadron, 370th Flight Test Squadron, 445th Flight Test Squadron, the KC-135 Special Programs Office, Rockwell Collins, Air Mobility Command Test and Evaluation Squadron Detachment 3, AMC Air, Space and Information Operations (A3), and McConnell Air Force Base, Kan.

"There were only two KC-135 aircrew in the 418th FLTS when the program started. Eventually, the 418th FLTS KC-135 aircrew numbered four; even so, Test Operations was largely instrumental in supporting the program with their KC-135 aircrew," said Mikal.

Most notable, though, was the Edwards team, which was able to complete the final testing $200,000 below cost and three weeks ahead of new schedule through extremely efficient testing and test execution flexibility despite regular scope changes, priority changes, funding rebaseline, weather cancellations, maintenance issues, resource rescheduling/constraints, and the ultimate challenge of addressing the AR oscillation issue with no additional schedule or funding impacts.

"In the end, the Global Reach Combined Test Force test team proved to be a pivotal contributor, bringing this challenged program to a successful completion," added Mikal. "Successful completion of this program has secured the opportunity to field Block 45 to the KC-135 fleet, while preventing the otherwise inevitable reduction in overall mission effectiveness due to avionics obsolescence and CNS/ATM airspace access issues. Without the KC-135 Block 45, 88 percent of the USAF tanker assets would eventually be unable to complete their mission."

It is currently estimated that the first 179 KC-46 aircraft will be delivered by 2028.

Colorado reservists ready for wildland fire season

by Tech. Sgt. Stephen J. Collier
302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


4/24/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Despite the winter-like weather, Colorado Air Force Reservists and their active duty counterparts were re-certified April 19-23 here to respond to wildland fires.

The 302nd Airlift Wing, the Air Force Reserve's only organization with the aerial fire fighting mission, held its annual Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System certification and training week. Beginning April 19, 10 aircrews made up of AF Reservists and members of the wing's active duty associate 52nd Airlift Squadron took part in classroom and ground instruction, held jointly with the U.S. Forest Service. Soon after, C-130 Hercules aircrews and maintenance personnel transitioned to the air, performing simulated retardant drops using water.

Describing the MAFFS training, Lt. Col. Luke Thompson, 302nd AW chief of aerial fire fighting, said, "This year, we had an updated, more in-depth ground training program. We were hampered by weather a little bit, but the end goal is about trying to get our people ready to go when and if they need us. And I think we've done that."

The wing's MAFFS program added new faces to the aerial fire fighting roster this year. These include one pilot, two navigators, two flight engineers and four loadmasters. Reserve aircrews who support the MAFFS mission are volunteers, with each working to incorporate aerial fire fighting training into their required airdrop and tactical flying skill sets.

Aircrews performed water drops throughout a number of areas in and around Colorado's Front Range. These included areas near Hackett, Cooper, 39 Mile, Tarryall Mountains, Gold Camp Road and Dawson Mountains.

The 302nd AW works in concert with three ANG wings from California, Wyoming and North Carolina to make up the Air Force's overall aerial fire fighting fleet. With the 302nd AW certified, Wyoming ANG's 153rd AW, N.C. ANG's 145th AW and the 146th from the California ANG will certify in May.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the 302nd AW assuming the aerial fire fighting MAFFS mission. Since 1993, the 302nd AW has provided MAFFS support to a number of large-scale wildland fires, including Colorado's 2002 Hayman Fire, California's Big Sur Fire in 2008 and the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire in nearby Colorado Springs.

"I know Waldo Canyon was a big deal for many of our members; it was a horrendous event for the local community," Thompson said. "We're continuing to train the same way we do every year. Every fire is serious to us."

On average, the U.S. Forest Service estimates 78,000 fires affect the United States annually, burning approximately 6.5 million acres. For May 2013, the National Interagency Fire Center projects above normal wildland fire conditions for Arizona, New Mexico, Florida and areas throughout the Midwest. Those areas are set to return to normal wildland fire risk levels in June and July, but above normal or increasing above normal projections for California, Oregon, Washington state and western Idaho are predicted.

Wildland fire seasons generally run from May 1st to November 30th each year. However, MAFFS support provided by both the AF Reserve and its ANG counterparts have been activated multiple times during off seasons.

Grand Forks AFB Airmen save lives at deployed location

by Staff Sgt. Luis Loza Gutierrez
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


4/24/2013 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Three Airmen deployed from Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., were recently lauded for heroic actions at their location in Southwest Asia.

Airman 1st Class Charles Coushaine, 319th Force Support Squadron, and Airmen 1st Class Benjamin Hitzelberger and Vanessa Oros, 319th Civil Engineer Squadron, witnessed an accident involving two motor vehicles traveling at high speed on a road outside of their deployed installation March 23, 2013. The Grand Forks deployers were with five other Airmen when they saw the accident.

The Airmen took it upon themselves to assist the victims and to ensure no other oncoming traffic would complicate the situation.

The Airmen split up to assess the two vehicles, one of which was a sport utility vehicle.

Oros and two other Airmen called local emergency personnel for assistance, conducted a hazard assessment and pulled the victims out of the wreckage to provide initial medical treatment.

Once the five accident victims were out of the SUV, the team took them to a safe triage area away from the highway and observed them until host-nation emergency responders arrived.
Coushaine and Hitzelberger, meanwhile, were directed by another NCO to begin a damage assessment on the other wrecked vehicle.

"I have to check on that car on the side of the road," Coushaine said. "That was my first thought when I saw the accident happen."

Coushaine described the following minutes as the toughest part of the ordeal.

"The scariest moment for me was after running over to the car and not being able to see anything but the two front seats because the back seats were caved in," said Coushaine. "I knew there was going to be a fatality."

Immediately after reaching the car, the 24-year-old from Rindge, N.H., heard cries coming from inside the vehicle. He found a young girl in the back seat, trapped between the door and frame of the car, with an infant trapped underneath her.

"We had difficulty seeing the children because the vehicle was so damaged," said Coushaine.

The Airmen pulled the children to safety, provided basic medical care and offered personal clothing to help treat them for shock and to keep the children warm - techniques the deployed Warriors of the North attribute to the Air Force training they've received.

The situation grew even more tragic as Coushaine's first thought of a fatality taking place was confirmed.

"It was very traumatic for me to see the mother of the children pass away before my eyes," said Coushaine.

Col. Stephanie Wilson,379th Expeditionary Mission Support Group commander, offered her thoughts on the efforts displayed by the Airmen that day.

"The actions these Airmen took epitomize the terms selflessness, teamwork, leadership and most of all compassion--compassion to help in a minute's notice, no matter the circumstance or risk involved," said Wilson. "These Airmen without a doubt remained calm under pressure during a very chaotic scene and made a difference in people's lives that will never be forgotten."

U.S. Military Medical System ‘Unique,’ Official Says

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 25, 2013 – The U.S. military health system is unique among the world’s military forces, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs said here yesterday.

The system is able to “simultaneously engage in combat, medical operations, support a comprehensive peacetime health system and respond to humanitarian crises around the world,” Dr. Jonathan Woodson told members of the House Appropriations Committee.

Woodson added that “the hard-earned medical lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq have transposed themselves to the civilian environment with life-saving practices that benefit all of American society.”

The medical readiness of the armed forces remains at the center of Defense Department strategy, Woodson said.

“That strategy is coupled with our mission of maintaining a medical-ready force,” he said, “a force of professionals that are well-trained, engaged in ongoing clinical practice and supported by military hospitals and clinics that are operating at optimal medical capacity.”

“As we maintain our readiness, support combat operations and deliver health care services to 9.6 million beneficiaries, we must also be responsible for the budget set we are given,” Woodson said.

Sequestration continues to present significant challenges to the health care system, he said, adding that it would create potentially catastrophic effects if it continues through 2014. Military medicine programs must absorb $3.2 billion in budget cuts over the rest of fiscal year 2013, which ends Sept. 30, Woodson said, a nearly 8 percent reduction. About half of that reduction is coming from the funds available to pay the TRICARE military health plan and private-sector health care providers, he noted.

“In light of this,” Woodson continued, “the department has proposed both internal and external reforms that are further expanding our joint engagement in almost every facet of our operations.”

Internally, he said, the department is reforming how the Military Health System is organized, with the goal of continuing to develop a health care system that integrates the services, the Veterans Affairs Department and the private sector.

“We are charting a collaborative path forward to eliminate redundancies within the Military Health System, improve business practices and clinical outcomes, and effectively manage care for the service members and their families,” Woodson said.

“Externally,” he continued, “the administration is once again asking the military retirees to pay more than they do today for health benefits that they have rightly earned and now receive, but proportionately less than when TRICARE was initiated.”

The department must make tough decisions and determined tradeoffs in an era characterized by more limited resources, Woodson said.

“Our proposals will slow the growth of retiree health benefit costs to the department over time,” he said, “while keeping in place the comprehensive medical benefits that retirees receive, and ensuring that this program is there for future generations.”

The proposed changes do not affect most active duty families, Woodson said.

“Additionally, our proposals exempt the most vulnerable within our retired population, to include families of service members who died on active duty and families of service members who are medically retired,” he noted.

Many challenges lie ahead for military medicine, Woodson said.

“We are working to mitigate the harmful effects of sequestration involving civilian personnel and cuts in vital military research,” he said. “We continue to identify approaches to curb unnecessary utilization of health care services. We are increasing our emphasis on wellness, and we are deepening our collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Eagle Resolve Promotes Gulf Region Cooperation, Interoperability


By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 26, 2013 – The field training segment of U.S. Central Command’s three-part Eagle Resolve exercise is slated to kick off this weekend, bringing together participants from 12 nations -- most from the Gulf region -- to promote cooperative regional defense capabilities, the lead planner reported today.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
U.S. Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, deployed to the 5th Fleet area of operations as part of the Kearsarge Amphibious Battle Group, set up M120, 120 mm mortar systems in Al Galail, Qatar, during Exercise Eagle Resolve 2013, April 23, 2013. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Juanenrique Owings
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Hosted by Qatar, the 11th iteration of the annual, multilateral naval, land and air exercise began April 21 with a command post exercise that wrapped up yesterday, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Gerald Lowe, a member of Centcom’s Exercise and Training Directorate, said during a telephone interview from Doha.
 
Many of the 2,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines participating in Eagle Resolve 13 are arriving at locations throughout Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for the field training exercise that begins April 28 and runs through most of next week, he reported.

Operating with about 1,000 of their counterparts, many from Gulf Cooperative Council member nations, exercise participants will tackle scenarios that cross the land, air and maritime domains. The exercise’s scenarios range from hostage situations to naval and theater ballistic missile attacks to toxic chemical spills, Lowe said.

In one planned event, the participants will conduct counter-piracy operations to reclaim a ship that has been seized and return it to the crew’s control, he said. Other scenarios will involve threats to gas and oil platforms and responses to a chemical, biological, radiological incident.
The scenarios have been in the planning for the past 18 months, and all involve fictitious events and perpetrators.

“Any similarities to real-world events are purely coincidental,” Lowe said.

The exercise supports several key focus areas: integrated air and missile defense, consequence management, critical infrastructure protection, counterterrorism, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear-passive defense, and interdiction and border security, he said.

The goal, he said, is to increase participants’ tactical proficiency and maritime capabilities and their ability to work together to address mutual challenges and promote long-term regional stability.
Senior leaders will come together to review lessons learned during the command post and field training portions of the exercise, and to discuss ways to further enhance their cooperation, Lowe said.

Eagle Resolve has evolved significantly since it began in 1999 as a seminar among Gulf Cooperation Council nations, Lowe said. It remains Centcom’s premier exercise with its Gulf partner nations, he said, with participants continuing to enhance their own capabilities while gaining better understanding of each other’s ways of operating.

Lowe noted, for example, the big strides made in participating nations’ preparedness in the area of consequence management. This extends beyond military-to-military cooperation, typically as initial responders, to the point that responsibility for the mission is passed to the appropriate national agency, department or ministry.

“That is one of the really big areas where a lot of improvement has been made,” he said.
Eagle Resolve 13 is building on these successes, he said, noting a productive command post exercise that concluded yesterday.

“We are learning more and more about each other’s way of doing business,” Lowe said, “and as we start to understand each other better, we are also passing and sharing more information.”
Lowe emphasized that the exercise is a learning experience for all the participants.

“This is not a unilateral learning process,” he said. “We challenge each other. And by challenging each other, we all learn.”

While promoting the spirit of collaboration between U.S. Central Command and the Gulf Cooperative Council nations, Eagle Resolve underscores U.S. commitment to the region, Lowe said.

“The focus is on demonstrating our continued dedication to the region and our regional partners,” he said. “As we do that, we are working to build partnerships with regional partners so we can better cooperate and work together toward the goal of long-term peace and regional stability.”

Wingman Day; taking care of Guardsmen and their families

by Senior Master Sgt. Jerry R. Bynum
Air National Guard Public Affairs


4/26/2013 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Guardsmen assigned here participated in an Air Force and Air National Guard event known as Wingman Day to discuss important issues impacting Airmen and their families Thursday here.

"It's our time to focus on our organization and our people, to 'stop and check under the hood' on how we're doing both individually as well as collectively," said Col. Doug Slocum, the director of safety for the Air National Guard.

Wingman Day is a time set aside to focus on caring for service members and their families. It was institutionalized by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force in early 2012 as a recurring opportunity for commanders to address their people and for face-to-face, peer-to-peer discussions on critical issues such as resiliency, stress, suicide prevention, sexual assault, substance abuse, safety and much more.

"The Air National Guard family doesn't just include the members serving in uniform," Slocum said, "it includes our families, retired Guardsmen and veterans, our friends and our communities. By equipping our Guardsmen and their families to be more resilient, we are enabling a stronger, more capable and more efficient community-based force."

Recognizing the importance of Wingman Day, the ANG has developed a supporting resource center through a Web site and a cell phone application for use with iPhone and Android to empower commanders and Airmen. This provides a "plug-and-play," off-the-shelf ready resource that gives commanders the ability and agility to focus their attentions on the leadership aspects of taking care of Guardsmen and their families. The Web site has proven to be successful and has been well received. The Air Force is looking into adopting the ANG resource.

"Our goal is to identify key issues facing our Guardsmen today and provide an arsenal of resources they can use to help themselves, and to help others, be more resilient, healthy and safe," said Slocum. "One of the fundamental pillars of Wingman Day is that everyone needs to know the proactive roles, resources and responsibilities of a being a wingman."

Wingman Day for the Air National Guard Readiness Center addressed a wide variety of issues in a large general session meeting. Following the general session, attendees broke off into smaller groups providing an opportunity for open discussions on resiliency issues with a focus on the "ACE" concept. Ask, care and escort is a three pillar system ensuring Guardsmen and their family's needs are addressed. The small group format was designed to engage individuals to brainstorm solutions and discuss available resources. This approach gets away from an impersonal online computer-based training and gets people talking to one another.

"The best resource we have is each other, our wingmen," said Slocum. "We all need to realize shortcomings and failures are necessary steps on the road to success. Being a winner is not defined by 'winning,' being a winner is defined by your character and how you handle the inevitable adversity along the way."

For more information about Wingman Day and the resources available visit www.wingmanday.org or use your cell phone and text "ACE" to 24587 to receive the cell phone application.

Northcom Tapped to Support Midwest Flooding Response

U.S. Northern Command

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., April 26, 2013 – At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Northern Command here today activated the Defense Coordinating Element for FEMA Region VIII in support of response efforts to flooding in the Midwest.

The DCE for FEMA Region VIII was activated to provide assessment and coordinate DOD assets should they be required following severely swollen river basins and will be assigned to the Regional Response Coordination Center.

DCE’s are normally a nine-person team that serves as the single point-of-entry for all local, tribal, state, and federal requests for DOD assistance. DCEs work closely with federal, state, tribal and local officials to determine what unique DOD capabilities can be brought to assist in mitigating the effects of the flooding.

In coordination with FEMA, the DOD will provide Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., as a federal staging area to support forward distribution of supplies or equipment to affected areas.

The Department of Defense has capabilities that can be used to save lives as well as many other unique support capabilities such as airlift, medical, communications and catastrophic planning.

Northcom is the joint combatant command formed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to provide homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities.

U.S. Army North provides defense support of civil authorities as the Army component of Northcom.