Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Security forces, firefighters duke out Battle of the Badges

by Alex Salinas
Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

5/2/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Of three challenges that made up the Battle of the Badges, it came down to the last one - a fire truck tug - where firefighters pulled away with the victory, becoming three-time champions of the friendly competition between Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph firefighters and security forces members at Randolph's Eberle Park and Camp Talon April 20.

The first challenge was a force-on-force game of Capture the Flag using simulated ammunitions, which are bullet-like paintballs fired from modified M-4 rifles.

The second challenge was a firefighter relay contest where two five-man teams in full gear lugged firefighting equipment up a staircase, carried a training dummy around two cones and sprayed a target with a hose.

The annual battle, which began three years ago, started as a friendly conversation between a security forces member and a fire chief, where the security forces member wanted to drive a fire truck, Maj. Gregory Bodenstein, 902nd Security Forces Squadron commander, said.

The squadrons now enjoy one day where they can do each other's jobs, even if it's just for fun and bragging rights.

Despite a spirit of gamesmanship, the challenges were practical.

"In a force-on-force scenario, we're defending and aggressing against an enemy; it's very serious and I saw this as training," Bodenstein said. "Training opportunities make sure we're better prepared in the real world."

Although security forces dominated Capture the Flag and firefighters won the firefighter relay, one's career field does not always guarantee a win for any given event, Bodenstein said.

"Last year's security forces team lost the force-on-force challenge," he said. "This year, failure wasn't an option on that event for my squadron, but there's no predetermined conclusion."

At the end of the day, however, Battle of the Badges was about building camaraderie.

"The challenges weren't easy," Airman 1st Class Brett Olsen, 902nd Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, said. "It felt good to win, but it was healthy competition."

Next year's Battle of the Badges may grow beyond Randolph.

"As the 502nd Air Base Wing transforms, security forces and firefighters will have a larger footprint within the wing," Bodenstein said. "There's an idea of making this a 502nd ABW-wide event."

Airmen raise money for Air Force Enlisted Village

by Airman 1st Class Christine Griffiths
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/8/2013 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Airmen at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., are one of many sponsors raising money for the Air Force Enlisted Village at the upcoming 10th Annual Bob Hope Memorial Charity Golf Classic tournament at Eglin AFB, Fla., May 17-18.

The Desert Lightning Team began collecting money in February. So far they have collected $1,000 from professional organizations around base, as well as an additional $500 in ticket sales offering individuals a chance to win a trip to the U.S. Open golf tournament.

The Bob Hope Memorial Charity Golf tournament is the AFEV fundraiser. The AFEV is a nonprofit organization and has a goal to provide financial assistance and a place to call home for widowed spouses of former military veterans.

The AFEV was founded in 1967 to provide a safe, secure and dignified place for indigent surviving spouses of retired Air Force personnel, according to the Village's website. Through group donations, DLT members can register eight golfers through the gold sponsorship which is $5,000; four golfers through the silver sponsorship which is $2,500; and finally two golfers through the bronze sponsorship which is $1,000.

"We've actually collected enough money for a bronze sponsorship," said Senior Master Sgt. Walter Fortenberry, 355th Civil Engineer Squadron and point of contact for fundraiser. "This pays for registration for two golfers. Since we're not sending golfers to the charity golf tournament, we are going to pay for two participants from the AFEV, they were unable to pay for themselves."

The money being collected will go towards various projects to improve the widows' lifestyle.

"The money collected subsidizes their monthly payments," Fortenberry said. "Things like repairs, transportation, upgrades, and entertainment, just anything to enhance their lives."

Donating money isn't the only way Airmen can help.

"AFEV is always looking for help," Fortenberry said. "If anyone wanted to put on a golf tournament for them or put on some other fundraiser, where half the proceeds go to their organization and half go to the AFEV. It's one of our greatest causes out there and it would really be worth the time."

To register for the golf tournament, please visit

Hagel Marks, Praises 60 Years of U.S.-South Korea Alliance

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 8, 2013 – The 60-year alliance between the United States and South Korea started as a military treaty to defend the south from the communist north, but it has grown to become an unbreakable bond between two countries that share friendship and values, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said here yesterday.

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a 60th anniversary gala celebrating the U.S.-South Korea alliance at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., May 7, 2013. Hagel met with South Korean President Park Geun-hye before the event to discuss bilateral relations. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

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Hagel spoke at a dinner at the Smithsonian Institution honoring the alliance along with South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
The alliance was forged during the 1950-53 Korean War when nations around the world stood united against aggression. More than 33,600 U.S. service members were killed in the conflict.

Hagel saluted American Korean War veterans who attended the dinner and said their sacrifices made possible the alliance, “which remains vital to the interests of both of our nations and a cornerstone of stability in Northeast Asia.”

The alliance has been extremely successful, with South Korea rising from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the richest over the past 60 years.

U.S. and South Korean service members work in concert on the peninsula and also around the world, Hagel said. He remembers standing shoulder-to-shoulder with South Korean infantrymen who deployed to Vietnam in the 1960s.

“I served alongside South Korean soldiers in Vietnam in 1968,” the secretary said. “They were some of the toughest, bravest fighting men I have ever encountered, and some of the most dependable.”

They continue to be steadfast allies. “In Afghanistan, the Republic of Korea once again stepped forward,” Hagel said.

U.S. and South Korean service members work together around the world for global security, “and we will stand together in the future,” Hagel said. From the Horn of Africa, to South Sudan, to a number of United Nations peacekeeping efforts, South Korea contributes to global security.

The United States remains fully committed to South Korea’s security, and will provide personnel and military capabilities needed to maintain security on the Korean Peninsula, the defense secretary said.

Hagel praised Park for her leadership during a very challenging time, and said he looks forward to visiting South Korea later this year to help deepen “this partnership that for so long been a force for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific.”

Park met with President Barack Obama at the White House yesterday, and she will speak to a joint session of Congress today.

C-130 squadron first to perform new airdrop method

by Capt. Brian Maguire
451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

5/8/2013 - KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- The 772nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron executed the first combat Extracted Container Delivery System, or XCDS, airdrop April 29, successfully demonstrating the increased accuracy that this new technology provides.

The new airdrop method is designed to pull the bundles out of the aircraft at a faster rate than the current airdrop process, which improves the overall accuracy of the drop itself.

"Normally a bundle falls out of the aircraft due to gravity, with the speed mostly dependent on the deck angle of the aircraft," said Capt. Raeanna Elms, 772nd EAS. "With XCDS, there is an additional parachute attached to a group of bundles, that pulls them out of the aircraft together and at a faster speed, resulting in a smaller dispersion area on the ground."

For the loadmasters working with the CDS bundles, the new method adds more complexity to the rigging inside the aircraft, said Senior Airman Marisa Powers, 772nd EAS loadmaster.

Because of the added complexity, Powers and her fellow loadmaster on the mission were very thorough in their preparations.

"We needed to seriously hit the books more than usual, get in there and read everything a million times and understand," said Powers, who is a Coventry, R.I., native and deployed from the 143rd Airlift Wing of the Rhode Island National Guard. "My partner and I felt like we did a great job, sitting there for a solid two hours and highlighting, saying 'This is what I feel like is important and we'll go over it again tonight.'"

Crews with the 772nd EAS received some XCDS training back at home station before deploying. For Powers, the training included one flight back in the states, plus ground qualification. They came qualified, but the new procedures still had a learning curve.

"It was definitely a little more complicated of a drop," Powers said. "Because it was the first time in theater we obviously didn't want to mess it up, but we went line by line, sentence by sentence to double, triple check that every tie was made right, that every knot was in place."

In the end, it's the mission the crews look toward, she said.

"It's the safety of the guys on the other end receiving it," Powers said. "It's all about helping the guys downrange."

Seeing the bundles pulled out of the back of the aircraft, rather than trickling out as usual, was an unsual sight, Powers said. After the bundles had landed, however, the accuracy of the XCDS drop was proven -- the dispersion of the bundles on the drop zone was about two-thirds smaller, highlighting the value of the XCDS method in having the best placement for the Soldiers.

"Our goal is to get the people on the ground what they need, where they want it," said Elms, who is deployed from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. "Plus, since we're trying to build a positive relationship with the local people, we want a more accurate airdrop method that reduces the risk of a stray bundle damaging their homes and crops."

Team improving precision of high altitude airdrops

by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

5/8/2013 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- A team here is working to improve safety for warfighters by increasing accuracy of high altitude airdrops with mission planning tools.

The Joint Precision Airdrop System, or JPADS, is a family of equipment that consists of parachutes, mission planning systems, global positioning systems and computer hardware and software. The parachutes are guided by GPS to accurately deliver necessary supplies to warfighters in remote locales and austere environments.

"This need has multiplied greatly, especially during Operation Enduring Freedom," said Capt. Sean Carlson, JPADS-MP section lead.

For the mission planning personnel at Hanscom, the work to make the delivery happen begins with the consolidated airdrop tool. The CAT is software that receives weather information and runs aircraft performance and weather algorithms to provide the correct readings for where the aircraft needs to be in the air to ensure the load hits the intended point on the ground.

"We're always enhancing calculations and trying to make the information more precise," said Carlson. "The aircraft currently does a pass to get the most recent weather data and then a separate pass to do the drop. We're looking to see if we can improve the accuracy enough so there would only be a need for one pass."

Presently, a dropsonde is released at an initial calculated point to measure wind conditions which are then relayed back to the aircraft via a UHF receiver. The dropsonde and UHF receiver are parts of a roll-on roll-off hardware kit called Mission Support Equipment that makes gathering the most recent weather possible.

The data is then transmitted to a laptop aboard the aircraft with the CAT software on it. The release point is then recalculated with the most up-to-date weather data.

According to program officials, they are constantly working to make advancements on both the software and hardware mission planning tools.

A production decision for a new dropsonde, designated ASondeR3.0, is expected soon.

"We received a positive report from the Operational Utility Assessment, which tested the upgrades to improve usability," said Brigitte Darton, the MSE program manager.

This version makes it possible for users in the field to now replace the batteries themselves, and the on/off switch has also been enhanced. Previously, the user would have to insert a small plastic stick into a port on the side of the dropsonde to turn it on. The dropsonde now has a slide switch, similar to those found on many flashlights.

"This makes it much easier for the crew to operate, especially with flight gloves on," said Darton.

Other recent hardware advancements include more ruggedization and a built-in testing feature to ensure the equipment is operational prior to use.

The team here will be working on technical publications and certification, and has initiated an interim contract to sustain the MSE until the sustainment work transfers to Robins AFB, Ga., and Hill AFB, Utah, by fiscal 2015.

The software has also evolved, with the merging of applications that were operating on two separate laptops to one.

"One laptop would be running mission planning mapping tools, such as FalconView, while the JPADS would be on another," said Capt. Neil Catron, JPADS-MP software program manager. "The first CAT release combined everything, making it more efficient."

The current CAT 2.1 update, which is largely a maintenance build, also includes the ability to send roadway heading data to Army-developed Airborne Guidance Units, allowing for even more precision in the landing.

This update has been turned over to the customer, Air Mobility Command, for anticipated fielding this month.

"We're always looking for improvements and we release an updated software version with new capabilities about every six months," Carlson said.

For the upcoming 2.2 version, the team is working to incorporate a wireless gate release system being developed by AMC. Currently, a crew chief or loadmaster must physically cut cables to ensure loads don't collide upon release. Now the CAT will be able to transfer coordinates and timing to allow for automatic cutting to release the bundles.

"The wireless gate release system is not fielded yet, but often software will have to catch up. This time we're out in front," said Carlson. "Our whole goal is always trying to improve precision."

It is anticipated that CAT 2.2 will be fielded by the first quarter of fiscal 2014, and development efforts for versions 3.0, 3.1, and 3.2 have already started.

The team said they work closely with their partners from the Army to incorporate new chute data into calculations, and to provide additional data transfer from the CAT to the AGU for enhanced accuracy.

"With every update or release, the Army and Air Force personnel are happier with what we can provide," said Carlson. "It helps them do their job better."

Service Members Set to Compete in Annual Warrior Games

Navy Office of Information

WASHINGTON, May 8, 2013 – More than 200 wounded, ill and injured service members, including 35 members of Team Navy, as well as military retirees, will compete in the fourth annual Warrior Games to be held at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 11-16.

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Retired Air Force Staff Sgt. Larry Franklin floats on his back in the U.S. Air Force Academy’s indoor swimming pool during the Warrior Games training camp held in Colorado Springs, Colo., April 18, 2013. Franklin resides in Radcliff, Ky. DOD photo by Desiree Palacios

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Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. will speak at the event’s May 11 opening ceremonies.
The Warrior Games are a Paralympic-like event that fosters camaraderie and a healthy competitive spirit, while assisting athlete participants to discover new capabilities. Participants will include members from the United Kingdom Armed Forces.

The teams include both retired and active-duty service members with upper-body injuries, lower-body injuries, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, visual impairment, serious illness and post-traumatic stress. They’ll compete in archery, cycling, seated volleyball, shooting, swimming, track and field and wheelchair basketball.

Last year, Team Navy earned 31 medals at the Warrior Games.

The Warrior Games are a cooperative effort between the Department of Defense and the U.S. Olympic Committee, and are presented by Deloitte. They also are supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the USO, the Fisher House Foundation, AT&T, BP, Budweiser and the Semper Fi Fund.

DOD Honors Civilian Employees for Excellence

DOD Honors Civilian Employees for Excellence

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 8, 2013 – Thirty-four Defense Department civilian employees were honored at the Pentagon today for displaying honor, integrity and excellence in the workplace.

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Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the “Spirit Of Service” awards ceremony, part of the Defense Department’s observance of Public Service Recognition Week, at the Pentagon on May 8, 2013. Carter thanked the 34 recipients for their dedication to the department and the country. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

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“Your drive, your innovation, you set the bar for us,” Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said at the “Spirit Of Service” awards ceremony, part of the department’s observance of Public Service Recognition Week.
Established in 1985, Public Service Recognition Week honors federal, state and local government employees across the country.

“It’s their service day in and day out that supports the war fighter and serves the American people,” Carter said at today’s ceremony.

Carter noted this year’s awards come at a time when the department and its civilian workforce are turning “a great strategic corner from the decade that has defined us largely since 9/11 to the problems and opportunities that will define our country’s security future.”

He described the threat of sequestration-triggered furloughs -- set to impact as many as 800,000 DOD civilian employees as soon as next month -- as “stupid,” and said the department is working to avoid them.

“Although [Defense] Secretary [Chuck] Hagel has not made a final decision, the only thing I can say is he is doing everything he possibly can to avoid or minimize them and look at all the options we possibly have to make these cuts,” Carter said.

“Spirit of Service” award honorees displayed exemplary values in their daily work through innovative achievements, by acts of volunteerism or through other outstanding accomplishments.
In praising the awardees, Carter wondered aloud, given budget constraints that have frozen promotions and threatened furloughs, why such outstanding public servants continue to strive to excel in their daily duties.

“You do it because of the mission,” he said. “There is absolutely nothing in the world that recommends us except what we do, which is we defend the country.”

And, Carter added, knowing that “we are part of something that is bigger than ourselves. That is the reward we get.”

Three Fairchild Airmen perish in KC-135 crash Never Forgotten: Base remembers fallen Airmen

by Scott King
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

5/8/2013 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE Wash. -- Three Airmen from the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron tragically perished May 3, near Chon-Aryk, Kyrgyzstan, in the crash of a KC-135 aircraft.

The crew and aircraft were assigned to the Transit Center at Manas near Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

The deceased are: Tech. Sgt. Herman Mackey III, 30, hometown of Bakersfield, Calif; Capt. Victoria A. Pinckney, 27, hometown of Colorado Springs, Colo. and Capt. Mark Tyler Voss, 27, hometown of Boerne, Texas.

They will all be missed by family, friends and co-workers.

Mackey "Tre," was the newest arrival of the three to Fairchild, leaves behind his wife, Megan; daughter, Payton; his mother; three sisters and two brothers. He was born in Anaheim, Calif., graduated from Bakersfield High School, was a L.A. Lakers fan and loved to barbeque and host parties for friends.

"Tre" was the guy that always made a grand entrance and would light up the room with his humor and a smile, said his wife, Megan. "He had no enemies and was always there to lend a hand to anyone who needed it."

"He was always quick to make you smile," said Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Gomez, friend and co-worker. "Everyone was a friend to him and no one was a stranger."

Pinckney leaves behind her husband, Richard Pinckney and her 7-month-old son, Gabriel; Her parents, Michelle and Larry Castro and two sisters, Nichol and Samantha Castro; Her grandparents, Terry and retired Lt. Col. Don Castro and Josephine and Emil Grulkowski and many aunts, uncles, and cousins; She also leaves behind her mother-in-law Nina Pinckney and Wally Slate, and father-in-law Richard and his wife, Lorraine Pinckney; Her three sisters-in-law Christine, Stephanie and Jeanna Pinckney, as well as, Tyler and Kevin Obrock and grandparents Anna Bull, Donald Bull and Virginia Hunt.

She graduated from Palmdale High School, Palmdale, Calif., was a graduate of the U. S. Air Force Academy class of 2008 with a degree in Major Systems Space Engineering. She also received a Master's of Psychology degree. She played on the women's rugby team at the USAFA and had a black belt in karate. She also enjoyed scrapbooking, snowboarding and crochet.

She was truly one of the nicest people I've ever met, said Maj. Menola Guthrie, friend and co-worker. We both found out we were pregnant at the same time and had our babies just a few days apart. She was an extremely loyal mother to Gabriel - "Tory" will be missed.

"She was like my sister," said Capt. Alexandra Trana, friend and co-worker. "When I first got to Fairchild she took me under her wing helping me through a lot of things - I will miss her."

Voss, who went by "Tyler," leaves behind his parents Wayne and Marcy Voss from Boerne, Texas and his brother, Forrest, who is a student at Texas A&M University and his sister, Morgan, who attends MIT. He graduated from Boerne High School in 2004 and from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2008 with a major in Aeronautical Engineering. He was commissioned in the U. S. Air Force as a second lieutenant and received his wings in March of 2010, having graduated from pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base, Del Rio, Texas, where he received a training award for having the highest score in his class on flight check rides. He was promoted to captain May 28, 2012 and became an aircraft commander March 14, 2013.

"Tyler was a great guy who lived in the moment," said Capt. Tino Diaz, friend and co-worker. "He had a lot of interests and a lot of toys everything from motorcycles to a race car; he even had a plane he was working on!"

Capt. Manny Ochoa, friend and co-worker added "Tyler was like a brother to everyone."

"Captain Voss treated everyone with so much respect and was so level headed," said Senior Airman Cody Haynes, 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. "He looked after his people. "Any crew chief can tell you that if you were going on a TDY, he would be one of the aircraft commanders who you could really count on to taking care of you."

All three Airmen were well known for their contributions across the base.

"They were three of the most positive people in our squadron." said Lt. Col. Patrick O'Brien, 93rd Air Refueling Squadron commander. "Tyler had a love of life like no one I've ever met. Tre had a calming personality and was extremely gracious. When he was brand new to the squadron, he invited a large number of people over to his house for Thanksgiving dinner. That's the kind of person he was - he put other people first. Tory was an extremely hard worker. She was gentle, but ambitious and caring. She definitely kept me in line - We deeply miss these fine Airman and will never forget them."

The base is reaching out to support their families and friends.

Col. Brian Newberry, Commander of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing said, "Team Fairchild is doing everything we can to support their families and friends during this profoundly difficult time. These Airmen leave behind an incredible legacy of service and honor in protecting our nation and the world. They show what we all know, freedom is never free."

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Face of Defense: Army Cook Feeds Troops at Exercise

By Army Sgt. Tanya Van Buskirk
78th Training Division

FORT MCCOY, Wis., May 7, 2013 – Cooking for the force is no small undertaking, but Army Pfc. Xavier Vasquez is up to the challenge and says it is an honor for him to serve his fellow soldiers in the dining facility during Warrior Exercise 2013 on Forward Operating Base Liberty here.

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Army Reserve Pfc. Xavier Vasquez of the 263rd Quartermaster Company, 620th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 96th Sustainment Brigade, monitors the temperature of rations in the dining facility on Fort McCoy, Wis., May 5, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Tanya Van Buskirk

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Cooks with the 263rd Quartermaster Company, 620th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 96th Sustainment Brigade, from El Paso, Texas, are feeding nearly 500 soldiers during the exercise. Vasquez is part of a team of five cooks led by food service manager Staff Sgt. Kevin Hinson.

Hinson said his cooks are enjoying their training.
“I have a good crew,” Hinson said. “These guys are from all over the country, and we worked well together right away. They are excited to be cooking at WAREX.”

WAREX 2013 is being conducted this month at Fort McCoy, Wis. The 78th Training Division, an Army Reserve unit from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., is hosting the exercise.

The exercise provides Army Reserve troops with dynamic combat environment simulations and teaches the latest tactics to be used to ensure mission success anywhere in the world.

Vasquez, who’s enrolled in college learning the culinary arts, said he is enjoying using his skills to cook for his fellow soldiers.

“I love cooking. No matter what [happens], I am here for my battle buddies -- whatever I can do,” Vasquez said. “I like working with people, and being able to talk to [other soldiers] coming back from a hard day and enjoying a warm meal I help cook means a lot to me.”

JSTARS receives international recognition

by TSgt Regina Young
116th Air Control Wing Public Affairs

5/7/2013 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform has been recognized as one of the "Big 25 [2012] biggest breakthroughs" by C4ISR Journal.

Every year, the C4ISR Journal looks for new technologies and efforts that change or enhance the military environment.

"Achieving this international recognition as one of the C4ISR Journal's "Big 25" is a huge accomplishment for JSTARS! It highlights our operational success, technical capability, and overall utility in defense of our great nation," said Col. L. Dean Worley Jr., commander, 461st Air Control Wing. "The C4ISR Journal recognized that we are operating under the highest operations tempo in the platform's 21-year history. This is a true "first" for the JSTARS weapons system and great recognition for our Airmen and industry partners that JSTARS is now acknowledged as a national asset."

The E-8C JSTARS platform operated and maintained by the 461st and 116th Air Control wing's has provided more than 10 years of continuous deployments and has flown in more than 900 combat sorties for Operations Enduring Freedom, New Dawn, Odyssey Dawn, and Unified Protector.

During the period covered by the award, the JSTARS proven war fighter capabilities, assisted in the capture of nine persons of interest and also identified approximately 74 Improvised Explosive Devices increasing the safety and security for coalition forces and for people living in dangerous regions.

Furthermore, JSTARS world-class weapon system deployed twice in 2012 to North Korea delivering strategic over-watch in this volatile region directly impacting national policy.

Recently, Team JSTARS was able to bring the C2ISR capability closer to home by integrating a $143 million radar upgrade which provides maritime moving target indicator support for Homeland Defense operations.

With this up-grade JSTARS was able to support the U.S. Coast Guard and law enforcement agencies leading to the seizure of approximately $200 million in narcotics and the arrests of more than 53 suspects in counter trafficking operations.

"The reason this award is so applicable to the E-8C, is it performs a command and control mission, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance simultaneously," said Col. Kevin Clotfelter, commander of the 116th ACW. "Whereas the platform could garner recognition on those missions independently, the fact that we can do both makes it more compelling."

Stavridis Reflects on NATO’s Accomplishments, Future

By Donna Miles

American Forces Press ServiceWASHINGTON, May 7, 2013 – As he prepares to turn over command next week of both U.S. European Command and NATO’s Allied Command Operations, the senior U.S. officer in Europe said he’s confident in NATO’s future and “awed by the changes” during his 37 years of military service.

“Despite the challenges for NATO, I believe in the alliance,” Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis said today in his final blog posting before he passes his responsibilities to Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove. “NATO is a force for good in the world.”

Stavridis cited the capabilities of what’s become history’s most-powerful alliance, with more than half the world’s gross domestic product, 3 million men and women on active duty, 24,000 aircraft, 800 ocean-going ships and 50 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft.

“The alliance remains vitally connected to all the sources of security across the globe,” he said. “It has great power, and therefore, great responsibility.”

Stavridis noted some of NATO’s major accomplishments during the past four years:

-- In Afghanistan, more than 100,000 troops have made big strides in building the nation’s national security forces while helping to improve the Afghans’ access to education, health-care and other services.

-- In Libya, NATO conducted the fastest deployment in its history in support of the Libyan people at the U.N. Security Council’s request.

-- In the Balkans and Kosovo, NATO continued maintaining a safe, security environment that allows freedom of movement and provides an opportunity for the political process to work.

-- Off the African coast, NATO has helped achieve strong success in reducing piracy by 35 percent, making the global commons safer and underpinning economic growth.

And within NATO’s structure, he said, the alliance has streamlined its operations to be more agile, effective and efficient.

“But there is still significant work to do,” the admiral said, recognizing challenges in Syria, in NATO’s relationship with Russia, in the cyber domain and in light of budget constraints.

Stavridis expressed confidence in Breedlove’s ability to take on these challenges and in the future of NATO and Eucom operations.

Assessing his military career, Stavridis noted the vast changes since his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1976, when “the Cold War dominated everything.”

“Today’s world is a safer world, as the possibility of global conflict and an exchange of nuclear weapons is now greatly reduced,” he said.

“On the other hand, we live in a vastly more complex world in which weapons of mass destruction are proliferating, trafficking moves weapons, narcotics, victims of human smuggling, cash and terrorists across our borders and through the challenged global commons,” he added. “We must continue to focus on creating security in this turbulent world.”

Creating security in the 21st century will require new ways of operating, Stavridis said.

“What I take away from my 37 years is that, in the end, we will not fully deliver security from the barrel of a gun,” he said.

Lethal force will still be necessary under certain circumstances, he said. But security in the 21st century also requires international, interagency and private-public cooperation. All this has to be pulled together with effective strategic communication that underscores NATO’s commitment to democracy and freedom of speech, religion and the press, Stavridis said.

“Those values matter,” he said. “We have to be prepared to defend them, but to deliver them we have to have this international, interagency, private-public strategic communications consortium. That’s how we’ll deliver security in the 21st century.”

Grissom dishes out fuel to fight

by Airman 1st Class Zachary Kee
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/7/2013 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- From the steady string of early morning risers entering the dining facility for a piping hot breakfast, to the hustle and bustle of the dinner crowd idly chatting about their day, Staff Sgt. Jessica Baldwin, 35th Force Support Squadron food services shift leader, is constantly alternating between the kitchen and serving line, posing an all important question: "What can I get for you today?"

As an Air Force cook who's responsible for feeding more than 600 people daily, Baldwin starts her day at the Grissom Dining Facility at 5 a.m.

"I love it," Baldwin stated proudly, "I am always cooking."

However, like most members at the DFAC, Baldwin doesn't always find herself in the kitchen entertaining her interest in the culinary arts. If she's not cooking or serving hungry Airmen, then she'll often be seen cleaning up the work station.

"I hate sitting down," said Baldwin. "In this job, we are always busy and constantly moving."

Baldwin also claims there are perks to her job other than cooking and being on her feet incessantly.

Along with working side by side with her fellow Airmen at the dining facility, Baldwin also has a unique opportunity to work side by side with Japanese contractors on a daily basis.

These contractors help the dining facility by picking up trays, working registers, cooking and even helping serve the food on the line.

"They help us out a lot," said Baldwin. "We don't have a lot of people in the kitchen and having them here to help gives us extra people to accomplish other tasks and get everyone through the line faster."

Keeping the base mission going is a team effort and with the help of the Japanese contractors, this is made possible.

Baldwin says another perk of working at the DFAC, is the chance to keep hungry Airmen well-fed and energized with nutritious meals.

The 35th Fighter Wing hosts the mission of the Wild Weasel and it is the dining facility's job to feed all Airmen, said Airman 1st Class Stephen Alsvig, 35 FSS food service journeyman. Supporting these Airmen allows the DFAC to directly support an important part of the mission.

"I think it's really important for Airmen to have a place to eat so they can stay healthy," Alsvig added. "Without us feeding them, [they] aren't going to do their jobs to the best of their ability and it would have a negative effect on the mission."

After all, Virginia Woolf, a well-known English writer, once said, "One cannot think well, love well and sleep well, if one has not dined well."

According to Baldwin, regardless of the plentiful fast food or local restaurants on or off base, the ability to go to the dining facility regularly is an opportunity Airmen should not take for granted.

"If the dining facility were not here for the Airmen, they would be eating MREs or going to Burger King," said Baldwin. "We provide the most nutritious meal for Misawa's Airmen."

On top of getting a meal that hits all of the different food groups, it's free. Well not exactly.

The Air Force automatically takes around $300 out of each paycheck from senior airman and below who live on base in the dormitories. This money goes to the dining facility to pre-pay for meals, so Airmen who live in the dorms and don't eat at the DFAC are paying for double the meal.

For Airman 1st Class Alejandro Cebollero, 35 FSS customer support apprentice and dining facility meal card holder, he says nobody ever sees that money in their paycheck so taking advantage of the dining facility and the already paid for food is an easy decision for him.

"It means a lot to know there is somewhere I can go for four meals a day and leave with a full stomach," said Cebollero. "I come to the dining facility because it's free for me and I don't have to spend my money off base or at other restaurants."

In the end, it's thanks to the dining facility's chefs and dedicated military food distributors like Sergeant Baldwin who allow Misawa's Airmen to continue the 35th Fighter Wing mission with food in their bellies.

"I think it is very important we are here," said Baldwin. "For a lot of Airmen, this is the only place they can go to eat, and it is our job to feed them and hopefully send them back to work happy."