Military News

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

When all else fails, egress prevails

by Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs


5/21/2013 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- The ejection seat is the pilot's last option if something doesn't go according to plan. If it wasn't for a small group of specially-trained Airmen, pilots wouldn't be able to resort to this life-saving option.

Deployed from Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Staff Sgt. Keith Billings, Senior Airman Garron Theriault and Airman 1st Class Mark Armstrong work as egress technicians assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron here. These Airmen maintain all the A-10 Thunderbolt II's Advanced Concept Ejection Systems, ensuring all the mechanical components, to include the pilot's seat and cockpit explosives, function properly.

"All aircraft seats are basically the same, but some components differ depending on the airframe including the explosives used to launch the seat out of the aircraft," Armstrong said.

The explosives in the ACESII have the capability to launch the seat out of the aircraft at a force of 14Gs. According to Armstrong, the explosives fire in a sequence planned up to a hundredth of a second, to ensure a pilot can eject in the quickest and safest way.

"We time change explosives depending on their individual service life which could range anywhere from 7 to 19 years depending on the explosive," Billings said.

"We have an inspection called an Egress Final that is due every 30 days that we track in the Integrated Data Maintenance System for every A-10."

While conducting the Egress Final inspection, the Airmen perform a full visual inspection of the ejection system, which includes the seat, cockpit components and explosives. If anything is found broken or out of technical data specifications, it's the egress technician's job to ground the jet and pull the seat to repair the defect prior to returning the aircraft to flying status.

"Our major inspection is the 36-month inspection, which requires the seat to be removed, and a full break down and rebuild of seat," Theriault said.

During an inspection, the egress technicians use a sling and a crane to lift the ejection seat from the aircraft, placing it gently onto a platform for transfer to a work area. All the components of the seat are removed including the chute, kit and seat explosive to verify service life. Next, they conduct pull checks on the ejection handles to make sure they have the correct amount of pull force for the pilot to actuate the ejection sequence and repair any discrepancies found during the visual inspection. Finally, the Airmen paint the seat and ejection handles for corrosion control and the parts are inspected by quality assurance team members.

"The difference between egress and the rest of the maintenance squadron career fields is egress can't conduct ops checks on the ejection seats," Armstrong said. "But we have to do our job, making no mistakes, and know that our system will always work every time without even testing it."

Whether conducting a 36-month inspection or doing a number of explosive time changes, egress technicians take pride in their work.

"Our system is the pilot's last option if something doesn't go according to plan and we take great pride in that," Billings said. "When all else fails, egress prevails."

60th Maintenance Operations Squadron leaves Travis with legacy

by By Airman 1st Class Madelyn Brown
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


5/20/2013 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 60th Maintenance Operations Squadron formally recognized its long-standing reputation and contributions to the Air Force mission during an inactivation ceremony Friday at the 60th Maintenance Group atrium.

The 60th MXG will absorb all personnel except the commander.

The final commander of the 60th MOS will continue his leadership in the Air Force and transition to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.

Col. Mark Weber, 60th MXG commander, made remarks in regard to the future of the 60th MOS.

"The unit is transferred to inactive roles, but can be activated whenever needed," he said. "Where one squadron is inactivated, another organization is created. The 60th MOS is the heart and soul of the maintenance team."

Weber then presented the meritorious service medal to the final commander of the 60th MOS, Lt. Col. David Bennet, who is now part of a lineage along with the 10 commanders of MOS who came before him.

In his parting words as the 60th MOS commander, Bennet addressed the Airmen he led during his time as commander.

"I may be the commander," he said. "But without all of you, I don't get anything done. I have learned so much from watching all of you."

Squadrons are the basic building blocks of the Air Force, Bennet said. To witness the incredible feats these maintenance Airmen accomplish in addition to their professionalism has been a fortunate experience.

Prior to closing the ceremony, the incredible lineage and legacy of the squadron was presented for the ceremony attendees.

The squadron was previously named the 60th Station Complement Squadron during World War II, the 60th Logistics Support Squadron in 1991 and, in 2002, was redesignated as the 60th MOS.

In World War II-era, the 60th SCS supported fighter combat and heavy bomber operations against German forces in Nazi-occupied Europe.

When the squadron reconstituted to the 60th LSS, their mission expanded to oversight of multimillion-dollar budget, facilities, manpower and training for the largest logistics group in the Air Force. The Maintenance Qualification Training Program was developed in 1994 and, in 1996, the 60th LSS moved to Travis Air Force Base along with the KC-10 Extender air-refueling mission.

The 60th LSS was once again redesignated in 2002, this time to its final squadron title, the 60th MOS. In current day, the mission of the MOS was to provide support to maintain and sustain 18 C-5 Galaxy aircraft, 13 C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and 27 KC-10 Extender aircraft at Travis.

The MOS was comprised of various shops including quality assurance, aircraft plans, scheduling and documentation, the maintenance operations center, the programs and resources flight, the analysis technology and the training flight.

"I am honored to have been the last commander of the 60th Maintenance Operations Squadron in the Air Force," Bennet said. "To the men and women of the MOS, I thank you."

The ceremony for the 60th MXG concluded with the singing of the Air Force song by the participants and attendees.

Face of Defense: Soldiers Cook Up Smiles in El Salvador

By Army Staff Sgt. Ian Shay
U.S. Army South

SONSONATE, El Salvador, May 21, 2013 – Before coming to exercise Beyond the Horizon El Salvador 2013 here, soldiers might have expected to eat only a steady diet of packaged rations for the two-week duration. But fortunately for them, Joint Task Force Jaguar is equipped with Army-trained cooks and a mobile kitchen trailer.


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Army Spc. Jordan Humble, right, works quickly to serve up food to hundreds of hungry soldiers in Sonsonate, El Salvador, during the Beyond the Horizon El Salvador 2013 exercise, May 17, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Ian Shay
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Edward George Haggett Jr. of the New Hampshire National Guard, noncommissioned officer in charge, explained his favorite part of the job.

“I like when the soldiers go through the line and have a smile on their face, because they know they’re going to get a good meal,” he said.
The Army mobile kitchen trailer can serve up to 300 people in an hour and can be set up in 30 minutes.

“It’s a lot of hard work,” Haggett said. “People don’t always understand the work that goes behind the scenes. They just see what is on the line.”

Like Haggett, Army Sgt. Tabitha Roethel of the Wisconsin National Guard, a cook assigned to 107th Maintenance Company in Sparta, Wis., enjoys making soldiers happy.

“I like making people smile,” she said. “Food service is like customer service. We are the first faces you see in the morning and the last faces you see at night.”

Roethel said that while she understands that soldiers may not always like the menu being served, she does her best to motivate soldiers by asking questions as she serves their meals. Whether it is asking each soldier to sing a favorite song lyric or quoting their favorite movie line, she said, she finds a way to bring out the smiles.

“I ask questions to cheer soldiers up, because I know they’ve had a long, hot, hard day, and I know sometimes the food isn’t the best. So if I can get a little smile out of them, maybe they will have a better evening and wake-up tomorrow in a better mood,” she said.

Beyond the Horizon El Salvador is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored, U.S. Army South-led joint foreign military interaction and humanitarian exercise.

Travis captures award for food

by 2nd Lt. Jessica Clark
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


5/20/2013 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Travis recently won an Air Force Hennessy Award for Excellence in Air Force Food Service in food transformation.

Travis was one of six test bases under the new Air Force Food Transformation Initiative that launched in October 2010. The goal of the program was to better serve the dining needs for today's Airmen. The pilot locations included Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; MacDill AFB, Fla.; Patrick AFB, Fla., and Travis AFB, Calif.

With this initiative, Travis partnered with Armark Corporation to provide Airmen with healthier and higher quality food.

"The strength in the partnership with our Airmen, DOD civilians, Aramark Corporation and Pride was key to this success at Travis," said Andrew Pauley, 60th Force Support Squadron food and beverage manager. "Building a strong team and working together produced the highest quality food for the Travis community."

Airman 1st Class Jennifer George, 60th Comptroller Squadron travel technician, reflects on her food experience at here.

"The food quality is very good," George said. "I eat breakfast at the dining facility almost every day. They always have fresh fruit and veggies. For lunch and dinner, I really enjoy the hot food line next to the pizza and pasta bar. The food reminds me of a mom-and-pop type dinner and is really scrumptious."

It's important to show Travis was selected to test a concept and is assisting in paving the way for the Air Force to better meet the wants and needs of the Airmen and the mission, Pauley said.

"I'm proud to be a part of a new concept like FTI that helps provide better quality and healthier options to the Travis community," he said. "It is another piece to a long line of excellence across the wing."

436th SFS dog handler proves his resilience

by Tech. Sgt. Chuck Walker
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


5/20/2013 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- When most Airmen meet the Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, they get a chance to freshen themselves up, put on a fresh uniform and look like the epitome of Air Force Instruction 36-2903.

Not so for Staff Sgt. Zachary Cahall, 436th Security Forces dog handler, who met Michael Donley, SECAF, and former CMSAF James Roy, in austere circumstances.

Cahall, who was deployed to Afghanistan and working with the Air Force Office of Special Investigation and Special Forces, was in the hospital at Bagram Airfield, recovering from wounds he suffered in an incident near Shindand Air Base in Western Afghanistan the day before.

With the missions he was on with Special Forces, Cahall had a full mustache and beard. So it was quite a shock when he awoke in the hospital to find the secretary and the CMSAF standing at the foot of his bed.

"They were great, asking me how I was doing and everything," Cahall said. "It shocked me because the nurse came over and woke me up and said I had visitors, I wake up and the Secretary and CMSAF are standing there. I was feeling self-conscious because not only was I wounded but I had a full-on beard. "

Cahall still isn't 100 percent sure what led to his wounds.

Cahall, who was at Shindand AB in Western Afghanistan from Aug. 2012 through Jan. 2013, was outside the wire Dec. 28, 2013, with some other personnel clearing their weapons. He then remembers hearing what seemed like an explosion and from there things became tenuous, when he received a wound to his right forearm. The wound caused nerve damage to his hand.

"I turned around and started scanning the mountains to see where it had come from," Cahall said. "I didn't realize I had gotten hit. Someone said Zach you're bleeding. I looked and blood shot up everywhere, that's when I knew it was bad. They took off my helmet and that's when shock set in."

Cahall said at that point he is thankful for the quick work of his OSI teammates.

"The OSI guys worked quick, cutting up my jacket and taking off my gear and trying to get a tourniquet on me," Cahall said. "They rushed me to medical. They had their fingers in the wound, plugging it with a bandage. From there I was medevaced to Bagram to see a hand specialist. I still don't know what hit me."

Tech. Sgt. Matthew Salter, 436th SFS dog handler and one of Cahall's supervisors, said that since he has returned stateside from his deployment, Cahall has persevered and pressed on, doing his job well.

"He's a hard worker and enthusiastic, especially for a brand-new dog handler," Salter said. "He is very detail oriented and dedicated to being one of the best handlers. He took his deployment and ran with it 110 percent. And even with everything that happened, he has worked through it like nothing happened."

Salter said that dog handlers are small and tight-knit community and that all of them are there for Cahall in case he needs support.

"I keep an open eye out for him and told him if he ever needs to talk, he can come and talk to me," Salter said. "He's a tough guy, he doesn't complain a lot. He knows if he ever needs anything, he has a great support system."

Senior Master Sgt. Russell Michaud, 436th SFS superintendent of operations and training, said Cahall's recovery is not only a credit to Cahall himself, but the unit.

"He's bounced back very well from his injuries," Michaud said. "He hasn't shown any after effects of his injuries or allowed them to interfere with duties. We are proud to have him as a member of the 436th SFS team."

Cahall, who has lost feeling in half of his hand due to his injuries, said his wounds, though painful are truly a blessing.

"The doctors said the wound was an inch away from hitting my main nerve and me not being able to use my hand ever again," Cahall said. "Where I got hit the nerves aren't reconnected. There are certain workouts I can't do because it causes pain. It's always in the back of your mind. I used to be able to do this. But, it could have been such a whole lot worse."

Cahall said that although his hand will never fully recover, he is thankful for all the people who have supported him, not only during his deployment, but since his return to Dover Air Force Base.

"I'm lifting weights to trying to get my hand stronger," Cahall said. "It's kind of a weird feeling, feeling like your hand's asleep. It doesn't bother me that much anymore. This has truly been an eye-opening experience for me."

Eglin hosts inactivation ceremony for 728th ACS

by Chrissy Cuttita
Team Eglin Public Affairs


5/21/2013 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Eglin Air Force Base honors, bids farewell to the 728th Air Control Squadron.

The "Demon nation" is on the move again.

Since June 1994, the 728th ACS "Demons" maintained a home next the 33rd Fighter Wing, and now, it is closing its doors, moving everyone and equipment to where the Air Force needs them.

During an official inactivation ceremony here May 17, their group commander led the covering of their squadron colors, its 27 combat streamers and a 62-year span of history. The remaining Airmen and equipment will be under a detachment of the 552nd Air Control Group at Tinker AFB, Okla., until the move from Eglin is complete.

"We'll ship out the last of the big equipment, process an incredible amount of administrative work and prepare to hand over our building," said Maj. Guy Wingenbach, Det. 1 commander, 552nd ACG. "It's amazing to see the legacy the Demons have. Until you walk into a controlled reporting center, you just can't describe it."

The 728th played a role in providing mobile radar surveillance and tracking in nearly every major Air Force operation. Initially, at Eglin, the Demons reported to the 33rd FW until they aligned with other CRCs to the 552nd ACG in May 2008.

Their mission forged bonds between Airmen of 26 different specialty codes, including in-house operators and maintainers. A family reunion atmosphere was represented at the ceremony where past and present commanders and other Demons reunited and recalled their memories.

"You can read about the squadron's history. But words on paper don't come close to capturing the blood, sweat and tears required to field an ACS," said Col. Alexander Koven, the 552nd ACG commander. At the height of U.S. military operations in the 1990s, there were 400 squadron members. Now, 240 are left to turn out the lights by the end of the year.

Time and time again the Demons kissed their families goodbye briefly. They left what is dearest to them behind to go defend them against something most of us never see. Every six months or so, the Demons would depart as a mass group for places overseas to set up 24/7 battle management for approximately half a year.

"ACS Airmen must be able to mobilize equipment, convoy into an austere location, create a base from scratch and then protect that encampment," said Koven. "Although everyone had a specialty, no one was immune from setting up tents, driving prime movers or defending the entry control point. The Demons were battlefield Airmen before the term became standard in the Air Force."

Through all its combat operations, one memory remains close to their hearts - tragedy on a 387-mile dangerous journey from Kuwait to Baghdad.

"It was during this convoy the squadron lost one of its warriors, Staff Sgt. Patrick Griffin, to an explosion when they stopped midway to their destination," said Koven. "Although disheartened by loss, the Demons continued the mission driving through the still active battlefield to the newly named Baghdad International Airport and established Camp Griffin."

A memorial stands as a lasting 728th ACS presence here.

The deployment cycle for the Demons has continued since 2003 with seven unit deployments completed and members still in Southwest Asia today.

"I found myself in a very special place," said Wingenbach about his arrival to the squadron during a time many were deployed. "It's a place where people knew their job well and they did it with pride."

Wingenbach remembers when he first met deployed members returning to the squadron. They went right into helping a local exercise, continuing 24-hour operations, but for a mission in their own neighborhood.

"Folks wanted to do the best job they could to support," he said. "When official words came out about the deactivation, you might think some of the drive would be lost, but you would be mistaken with this group. The official announcement brought a lot of emotions, but I never saw a loss of pride and I certainly didn't see a reduction in effort."

The 728th ACS began their history on Eglin's range as the 728th Tactical Control Squadron at Duke Field in December 1977. They joined the 33rd FW in May 1992, but didn't relocate until 1994. Squadron history dates back to 1950, lining them up to be first to bring game-changing radar to a newly established U.S. Air Force within its first decade.

"This does not mean the end of the 728th ACS or its legacy," said Koven. "The Demons on active duty will move to other squadrons where they can take the spirited skills they received here and apply them to new locations. Everyone else who is a part of the Demon nation - retirees, spouses, children and local community - can take pride in the fact they were associated with an amazing organization that made a difference in the defense of this nation."

Senior Army Guard Leader Describes Tornado Response

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2013 – Some 250 Oklahoma National Guard members are helping with recovery efforts after a massive tornado pounded an Oklahoma City suburb yesterday, killing at least 24 people and leaving neighborhoods, homes and businesses flattened or twisted, a senior Army National Guard leader said today.


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Oklahoma National Guardsmen respond to the devastation caused by a deadly tornado that struck Moore, Okla., May 20, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kendall James
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Brig. Gen. Emery Fountain is an Army National Guard member from Oklahoma, who normally makes his home a few miles from Moore, where the tornado struck. Fountain currently works in the national capital region as support special assistant to Army National Guard Director Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr., but has been in close contact with his counterparts at home.

“They’ve established a perimeter around the location … that was most affected, [and] they’re managing traffic in and out of that area where the destruction was most significant,” he said. “They’re also providing clean, potable water to the first responders and the folks that are involved in the response.”

Fountain noted that as a longtime Guard member in his home state, he has responded to previous disasters, including the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. He also responded to previous tornados, he noted, so when yesterday’s monster storm hit, he knew his fellow Guard troops would kick into gear.

“You know it’s a rapidly evolving situation,” he said. “And you also know that there are first responders -- local, state, and federal in many cases -- that are immediately responding.” In such circumstances, National Guard members act as enablers to help those first responders do what they do, Fountain said.

He noted state emergency management offices have the lead in initial response, and National Guard forces are one of the resources they can call on.

Right now, Fountain said, about 250 Guard members are helping in disaster relief efforts, from a total of 6,384 in the state and a regional Guard force of 45,272, made up of members from Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas along with Oklahoma’s citizen-soldiers.

“All the states are very well postured, based on their demographics, to support their population,” he noted.
The Guard has a very robust reporting system, the general said.

“So you allow the leadership there, within the Oklahoma National Guard, [to] push information to us, rather than us to be part of their challenge, and clogging their networks with requests for information,” Fountain said. “Because of our standard operating procedures, they know how frequently we need information. … We pretty much are on the receiving end.”

Typically as disaster response efforts evolve, he said, “the National Guard Bureau has a team that we send forward -- and that team is, in fact, en route [to Oklahoma] -- that is there to offer them liaison to the entire ‘Guard Nation,’” or the Army and Air National Guards of all U.S. states and territories and the District of Columbia.

Fountain said he contacted Oklahoma Guard leaders yesterday to send his thoughts and prayers and offer any resources needed.

“We don’t want to inundate them with manpower and resources that would just get in the way,” he noted. “We right now are very much just in a posture to respond to their needs, and thankfully, we have a balanced force across the Army and the Air National Guard … and they have a great deal of capacity.”

Fountain explained that while tornados are common in Oklahoma and several other states, the disaster response efforts soldiers train and units plan for are more general in nature.

“We have contingency plans for all types of events,” he noted. “But I found in my time as the operations officer for the Oklahoma Guard that it is best to have very general contingency plans.

“For example,” Fountain continued, “whether you’re reacting to a hurricane, a tornado, an earthquake or a high-yield explosive, you’re dealing with failed infrastructure, collapsed structures, you’re dealing with the requirement to secure a specific area -- and so we simply leverage that capability and capacity of those formations within that particular state.”

The National Guard offers states the resource of a force trained and equipped for national defense but able to respond to natural disasters at home, Fountain said.

“And we do it quite well,” he noted. “In this particular case, they immediately went in with … a quick-reaction force, and that initial force is to get there very rapidly -- I wouldn’t say minutes, but hours -- so that we’re there with the first responders. And we normally will establish a perimeter around the incident site.”
Such a perimeter can be large, with multiple traffic control points, but the presence of a National Guard member at such a place and such a time can be calming for local populations and help keep people from putting themselves at risk, he said.

“Our initial focus is always in saving lives and executing a rescue,” he said. “What closely follows that is getting infrastructure back up -- whether it’s broken natural gas lines, power lines that are loose and hot -- and we partner with the local utilities to help them.”

Fountain said National Guard forces bring a particular comfort in disaster settings, because they’re helping family, friends and neighbors.

“The National Guard -- and the country -- has never let down a community,” he said. “So we’re always there. I think they know that. As soon as the public sees uniforms, it’s a calming factor. And their Guardsmen are their brothers and sisters. They get a call … and they report to duty, and they suit up, and they take on citizen-soldier mode and get after it, and stay on the mission until it’s done.”

Joint Information Environment Serves Warfighters, Official Says

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

FAIRFAX, Va., May 21, 2013 – The Joint Information Environment isn’t a program, it’s an end state, the Defense Department’s deputy chief information officer for information enterprise said at an industry conference here today.

The term “Joint Information Environment” simply describes the ability to deliver data to the Defense Department’s military and civilian personnel wherever and whenever they need it, David L. DeVries explained.

“The bottom line is that the warfighter needs to have the mission accomplished, and to be successful, he needs to have the information there,” he said.

The department is working to define the final requirements for the capabilities that it wants for the Joint Information Environment, DeVries said, adding that the process should wrap up before mid-August.

This end state can’t be achieved without streamlining data delivery processes and eliminating excess capacity, DeVries said. Nor will it happen overnight, he added. “Replacing of legacy networks and putting in the right stuff takes time,” he said, adding that the way those networks are operated may change before they’re replaced.

The Defense Department now has about 1,850 data centers -- facilities used to house computer systems and associated components. In some instances, those data centers manage duplicate, parallel networks, DeVries said. For example, an Air Force unit housed at an Army base might have its own data center rather than using the one at the Army base. This leads to slower, less-efficient networks. But by fiscal year 2017, the number of data centers should be down to somewhere between 50 and 100, he said.

DeVries said he expects to develop a list of core data centers and their characteristics by the end of the summer.

The result will be a smaller physical network footprint that will move data much more quickly and efficiently and be easier to secure because it’s easier to oversee, DeVries said. “You have to know what you’ve got in order to secure it,” he said. “There is a need to know where your boundaries are, invest the money into the protection of those boundary lines where things cross, and to continuously monitor and sample the things in between.”

The streamlining process will carry over to acquisitions and personnel, he said, as enterprise-wide contracting becomes the standard and information technology staffs are consolidated.

With 3.5 million users on the unclassified side alone, DeVries said, “I can’t allow everyone to create their own network, to run it their own way, because then, truly, it’s too costly to secure.”

Ultimately, everyone will benefit, he said, because as the network becomes easier to secure, it will become more flexible -- something that takes on added importance as the department embraces mobile platforms.
“We're recognizing the fact that we can't just tether somebody to their desk,” DeVries said. “They've got to be mobile, whether they work from home or from work.”

These are paradigm shifts for the Defense Department and the military departments, DeVries said, but the Joint Information Environment will drive mission effectiveness.

One of the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan was that both technological and policy issues made data-sharing between partner nations difficult, he said. Policy problems can be worked through, DeVries noted, but the technological framework has to be in place for policy solutions to work.

Hagel, Australian Counterpart Note Progress, Cooperation

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith met for a working lunch at the Pentagon this afternoon, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, Little said the two defense leaders discussed the progress and cooperation between the United States and Australia on a number of fronts, including the rotation of U.S. forces to Australia, cooperation in space and cyberspace, and their nations’ shared commitment to investing in critical defense capabilities.

“Secretary Hagel commended the progress to date of the rotation of U.S. Marines to Australia, noting that the second company-sized rotation of Marines arrived in Darwin recently and will train with their Australian counterparts over the next six months,” the press secretary said.

Hagel also thanked Smith for Australia's significant commitment to the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan, Little added, and emphasized the enduring importance the United States places on the Asia-Pacific region.

“[He] assured Minister Smith of the American commitment to the Asia-Pacific and to the security of our allies and partners,” Little said. “The two leaders plan to meet again on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore next month."

The press secretary added that Hagel thanked Smith for his condolences in the wake of yesterday’s deadly tornado in Moore, Okla.

Reserve aeromeds take African health professionals to new heights

by Ann Skarban
302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


5/21/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Two Air Force Reserve aeromedical professionals from the 302nd Airlift Wing's 34th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron traveled more than 7,000 miles to share their techniques and practices with Cameroon and neighboring Central African military partners.

Maj. Jen Dalstra, flight nurse, and Chief Master Sgt. Debbie Buchanan, aeromedical evacuation technician, were two of the eight U.S. Air Force aeromedical crew members who were selected from 90 applicants to participate in Central Accord 13, a 10-day training exercise in Douala, Cameroon that U.S., Cameroonian, Barunde, Gabonese Republic, Democratic Republic of Condo, Republic of Congo and Sao Tome e Principe militaries participated in Feb. 27 through Mar. 1.

The two said they were selected because of their deployment experience, ability to teach and their aeromedical instructor and evaluator qualifications.

"It was as though we were trying to take our years of training for U.S. Air Force AE and trying to train them in two weeks," said Dalstra. It usually takes one to two years to train a U.S. Air Force AE crewmember, and they were tasked with condensing much of that training into two weeks.

The two spoke of how they reviewed and prepared training materials weeks in advance of their mission in Africa.

"When we arrived, it became clear we would need to modify our training. The equipment in use and culture were so different," said Buchanan.

"We shared the configuration set up of the aircraft, patient care and nursing considerations at high altitudes. We were also able to explain how the lack of oxygen can affect organ systems, taught our loading and off loading methods, safety procedures as well as AE communication policies and procedures," said Dalstra, explaining the 16 medical and operations classes and 40 classroom hours of AE topics taught.

Central Accord 13 began with three days of classroom training, followed by two days of training on the aircraft with equipment. It then culminated with several days of exercises and a closing ceremony which was attended by several national dignitaries including the Minister of Defense for Cameroon.

"We were all educators and we adapted our Air Force training. We were teaching doctors, nurses, fire fighters and entire rescue teams - the whole chain of control from the field to the hospital," said Dalstra. "They never did AE before, they were where we were years ago," she added.

"I think we offered a big change in thought when we introduced 'caring-in-route,'" said Buchanan. The current method of treatment for these impoverished countries includes delayed treatment. "They will just load and go," said Buchanan describing how critically injured patients were tucked into trucks and transported to a medical facility. "Treatment [in Africa] is not provided until the patient gets to the hospital," she explained.

Along with today's U.S. Air Force aeromedical procedures, which include immediate treatment and care during transport, the Joint Theater Trauma Center survival rate is greater than 90 percent for military patients including those evacuated by U.S. Air Force aeromedical evacuation professionals.

"We taught them how to configure a C-130 using their equipment," said Dalstra. "It was clear they fully realized the opportunity to learn new techniques that would help them save lives."

Buchanan expects her African medical students to use the lessons learned during Central Accord 13 for humanitarian and civilian purposes to include major disasters such as earthquakes or other incidents and accidents.

Despite their years of experience in the Air Force and Air Force Reserve, Dalstra with just more than 10 years and Buchanan with 24 years, both commented on how they never experienced a country and culture like that of Cameroon. The extreme heat with temperatures in the high 90s along with 98 percent humidity also presented different physical challenges for the Reserve aeromeds.

"We were impacted by realizing how much we have, just the basics and seeing the extreme poverty," said Buchanan.

"This was such a once in a lifetime experience. We are so blessed to have had this experience. Everything we shared was very rewarding," said Dalstra, describing the life-saving lessons and professional connections they made with their African medical counterparts.

Explaining how traveling to Cameroon, experiencing the culture and gaining a greater appreciation for the medical advances in the U.S. Air Force aeromedical evacuation community impacted her Buchanan said, "I think we learned just as much from our students as they did from us."

McConnell tankers complete C-5 schoolhouse support

by Master Sgt. Brannen Parrish
931st Air Refueling Group Public Affairs


5/21/2013 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan.  -- The 931st Air Refueling Group completed a business effort supporting the 433rd Airlift Wing, May 11-17.

The 931st ARG team comprised of aircrew from the 18th Air Refueling Squadron and crew chiefs from the 931st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, supported two days of aeromedical evacuation training for the 433rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and four days of aerial refueling students assigned to the C-5 Formal Training Unit.

The C-5 Formal Training Unit consists of both a student squadron, the 733rd Training Squadron and an instructor squadron, the 356th Airlift Squadron. The squadrons train Reserve, active-duty and Air National Guard C-5 Galaxy aircrew members, pilots, engineers and loadmasters.

The 931st ARG business effort provided a chance for students from the FTU to complete requirements for graduation. Students must complete several aerial refueling sorties prior to graduation.

"Whenever we can get aerial refueling support, it helps us out a great deal," said Maj. Makia Epie, an instructor pilot from the 433rd Airlift Wing.

Face of Defense: Guard Service Leads Airman to Extremes

by Senior Master Sgt. George Thompson
386th Air Expeditionary Wing


5/20/2013 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Air Force Staff Sgt. Sophia Mantzouris of the 386th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron said she knew she wanted to enlist on active duty from the time she was a little girl, but a friend steered her toward the Air National Guard.

Her Air Guard service has provided her an opportunity to serve at extremes.

"The first guard unit I joined was the 109th [Airlift Wing] in Scotia, N.Y.," Mantzouris said. "I served there for nine years and I became an engine troop because, at the time, they had the most educational benefits, the highest bonus, and I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity the Guard had to offer."

Being a single-parent airman presents its own set of challenges for Mantzouris.

"Being a single mom is difficult, because it's two ways that I've completely dedicated my life," she said. "I'm a perfect example of the importance of a family care plan."

The family care plan is designed to provide a smooth, rapid transfer of responsibilities to designees during short- and long-term absences for military duty.

"My plan allows me to be there for my Guard unit as best I can and still make sure that my daughter is properly cared for as she needs to be," she said.

While serving with the 109th Airlift Wing, Mantzouris put her plan into effect to support Operation Deep Freeze missions in Antarctica -- a stark contrast to the desert heat of her current deployment here.

"In some ways [Antarctica is] like here, but it's frozen," she said. "You deal with the extreme cold instead of the extreme heat. When the wind starts whipping down there, it's like the sandstorms here where you can't even see in front of your face."

Due to the harsh Antarctic environment, Operation Deep Freeze missions are flown during the Southern Hemisphere summer. But in Antarctica, those summers don't lend themselves to frozen treats or cooling off.

"The day I went to South Pole Station it was minus 15 degrees, and the scientists that were there said, 'It's like a heat wave right now,' and I said, 'You've got to be crazy,'" she said. "It's not like here, where you can get parts from Bagram [Airfield, Afghanistan] on the next plane. You're all by yourself down there."

Mantzouris has once again put her long-term family care plan into action supporting the Delaware Air National Guard's 166th Airlift Wing C-130 Hercules rotation at the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, where summer temperatures routinely top 100 degrees. So far, she'd rather be here than in Antarctica.

"I hate the cold, which is why my family thought it was comical that I joined the only unit in the entire world that belongs to the Antarctic mission," she said. "So far, the heat hasn't bothered me, but talk to me again before I leave in July, and we will see."

Command recognizes 446th Airlift Wing's chapel program as best in 2012

by Sandra Pishner
446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


5/17/2013 - MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- It's a challenge trying to keep a team focused and effective while serving under three different leaders with three different leadership styles in one year. The 446th Airlift Wing's Chapel staff, however, was focused and effective enough to earn the 2012 Air Force Reserve Outstanding Chaplain Corps Program Award.

According to Col. William Willis, Sr., AFRC Command Chaplain, the 446th AW Chapel staff demonstrated a broad breadth of readiness training, as well as a depth of joint ministry.

"We're one of the pioneers in joint basing in the Air Force Reserve," said Chaplain (Maj.) Pierre Allegre, 446th AW wing chaplain. "In all practicality, there's more ambiguity as to responsibility and authorities; a lot more organizational challenges. But, there's also more opportunity to provide ministry, outside our service."

Both Allegre, and Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Luan Tran provide ministry to not only the Airmen of the 446th AW, but to the active-duty Air Force here and the Soldiers of Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

For the Airmen of the 446th AW, the chaplains spend a lot of time in the units visiting with Airmen. In 2012, the two chaplains spent more than 400 hours on visitations alone, providing ministry to more than 2,000 Airmen.

"We're focusing on commander's calls and other unit or wing formations to speak to Airmen so they know who we are and that we care about them" Allegre said
In addition to visitations, the chapel staff created and initiated a 90 day follow-up process to interview returning 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron Airmen exposed to battle trauma. They also supported two Yellow Ribbon events, boosting combat resilience for 700 returning and deploying Airmen and their families.

Father Tran stepped up to support an unstaffed first Friday of the month Catholic service at the JBLM, and both chaplains regularly make themselves available to the Citizen Airmen of the 446th AW, both on and off duty.

"Currently our greatest service we provide is confidential counseling," said Allegre. "The reason why we focus on visitations so much is we're trying to develop repo ire with Airmen. The more comfortable they feel around us, the more they see us and recognize us, then when crisis hits they are more apt to come to us."

The chaplains provided care and counseling to 235 Airmen in 2012, including nine expressing thoughts of suicide.

"Airmen should know they can talk to the chaplain and it won't be reported. We have 100 percent privileged communication," Allegre said.

Both chaplains offer support to Airmen in the wing all month, not just on Reserve weekends

"Because I'm a pastor on the outside, there's really no difference in what I do; my calling is the same. So if you have a crisis next week and I'm not on orders, you call me and I'll be a pastor to you. You don't have to go to my church; I will counsel you at no charge," said Allegre. "Father Tran pastors in Portland (St. Birgitta Parish). He's willing to come up if there's a Roman Catholic crisis. We're very committed to doing our calling beyond UTA."

Chaplains observe morale and quality of life in a unit. They try to get a pulse for how people are doing so they may advise commanders. With only two chaplains, that responsibility for observing is a bit more difficult.

"We've been through three leadership changes in the past year. A current challenge is our chaplain shortage," said Allegre. "Right now it's just Chaplain Tran and I. Father Tran is an excellent priest and we both work very hard, but we really need to recruit two additional chaplains in order to do ministry at a sustainable pace."

On the bright side, the wing chapel staff includes four religious support team members, otherwise known as chaplain assistants.

"Our enlisted personnel deserve a medal just for putting up with all the changes in the past year," said Allegre, who is the Pastor for Sojourn Community Church in Lacey.

Chaplain assistants support the chaplains' work. They are the enlisted eyes and ears and are looking from an enlisted point of view of what's going on. They do spiritual triage, according to Allegre.

Chaplain assistants don't require faith in God; the position doesn't require any religion. Many who end up in that career field do love the Lord, and want to serve him, according to the wing senior chaplain, but it's not a requirement of the job.

"You got to remember, we're not a Christian organization. One of the challenges we face is trying to address things from a spiritual point of view without coming across as overly preachy," Allegre explains. "I'm trying to address things from a spiritual point of view without selling out my faith, yet without violating your freedom of religion. That's a really fine line.

"I also don't want to come across like I'm peddling some diluted government religion," he said. "I want to provide meaningful ministry. And yet, I believe in the first amendment right that Congress shall make no law regarding the free exercise of religion or the prohibition there of. I believe in that. I shouldn't be in uniform, at a mandatory formation and telling people that they all need Jesus. I believe that, but that's not the place for that."

Ministering to the Airmen of the 446th AW includes Tran and Allegre working hard at delivering as many short "Chaplain Thoughts" as they can during each UTA to inspire the troops and to get them to think about their spiritual fitness.

Working more strategically is the key to the chapel staff's success. And they're not resting on their laurels. The chapel staff is developing a new program to present on UTA weekends, details of which will be revealed once the program is approved.

"We know we've been providing excellent ministry; it's just good to have command recognize it," said Allegre.

Rescue Airmen support GPS satellite rocket launch

920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs

5/17/2013 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- Reserve Airmen from the 920th Rescue Wing, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., supported the successful launch of an Atlas V rocket May 15 at 5:38 p.m. EDT from Space Complex 41.

The rocket launched with the first GPS satellite since 1985. The satellite will provide precision navigation and timing to U.S. military forces and civilian users worldwide.

Of those military users of the technology, are rescue wing Airmen themselves. "As a pilot, you need to know where you are and where you're going," said Col. Jeffrey Macrander, 920th RQW commander who piloted one of two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters on a mission to clear the Eastern Range prior to the rocket launch.

Rescue Airmen serve as a vital link to the success of all Space Coast rocket launches providing range clearing and security. They patrol the stretch of Atlantic Ocean beneath the launch trajectory ensuring no mariners veer into harm's way of potential rocket debris hazards, maintaining the security and safety of the Range.

Although, supporting launches is a fraction of what they do. Their primary mission, combat search and rescue, makes air travel a necessity to reach injured combatants on the battlefield. GPS saves aircrew time.

"Time is life in our business," said Macrander.

The new capabilities of the IIF satellites will provide greater navigational accuracy through improvements in atomic clock technology; a more robust signal for commercial aviation and safety-of-life applications, known as the new third civil signal (L5); and a 12-year design life providing long-term service. These upgrades improve anti-jam capabilities for the war fighter and improve security for military and civil users around the world.