Saturday, June 01, 2013

'Rebluing': Why do we say that?

Commentary by Chief Master Sgt. Donald Felch
I.G. Brown Training and Education Center

5/31/2013 - MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. (AFNS) -- Since shortly after its birth as a separate service, American Airmen have worn the color blue.

Blue represents the sky above earth; a medium the Air Force first aimed to conquer. Blue in our uniforms, in our shield and in our official symbol is also commonly connected to loyalty and courage. Airmen have shown loyalty and courage in every significant conflict since the dawn of flight and continue doing so today.

Air Force blue begins entering our lives in basic military training. We learn about being Airmen. We share common experiences, learn attention to detail and become eager to dedicate ourselves to the mission. We are forged in the furnaces before proceeding to technical training where we learn a skill. Our instructors teach us the professional standards we need to follow in our specific career fields. Here, we are shaped and polished. When we report to our first assignment we are "blue". Our blue is strong, straight and true. We have become weapons of our nation -- weapons of the highest quality and accuracy.

As we go about our daily lives, on and off duty, in and out of uniform, we face challenges, weather storms, experience occasional failures and meet with other forms of adversity. We listen to others complain. We grow tired of facing the same obstacles at every turn. Sometimes we run across situations we haven't been trained to handle and get discouraged. Since we are human, these things can wear away at our blue. They can make us dull. As with any weapon or tool, constant use without periodic maintenance can lower effectiveness. Airmen are no different.

Bluing is a process often used by gun manufacturers, gunsmiths and gun owners to improve the cosmetic appearance of, and provide corrosion resistance to, firearms, according to Walter J. Howe in his 1946 book, "Professional Gunsmithing". All blued parts still need to be properly oiled to prevent rust.

Professional military education is a rebluing process for Airmen.

In the course of our studies, activities, and even social events, we improve our cosmetic appearance -- reminding one another about the proper wear of the uniform and the importance of a professional image. We obtain corrosion resistance as we discuss the core values and the NCO and senior NCO responsibilities. We reaffirm our collective dedication to professional standards. This reaffirmation defends us from cynicism, negative thoughts and griping. Just as it does with worn firearms, our rebluing process returns us to the highest quality and accuracy.

In Air Force PME, the rebluing process serves exactly the same purpose it serves with any worn weapon. It improves cosmetic appearance, prevents corrosion and improves overall functionality.

When America takes up arms to defend herself against those who would destroy our way of life, her aim is straight and true because as Airmen, we remain blue.

Airmen, Sailors maneuver Humvees around curves

by Sgt. David Bolton
133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

5/31/2013 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- It's not every day an Airman or Sailor is asked to drive the 7,500 pound Humvee at speeds in excess of 30 mph around 45-degree curves. Service members from the five branches are working together more frequently, on the ground and on the roads with today's contingency operations in Afghanistan.

"Since we're all on one team, we'll work together," said Sgt. 1st Class Elton S. Rush, lead facilitator of the driver's training with the 2nd Battalion, 309th Training Support. "Our goal is to make the training as realistic as possible."

The Sailors and Airmen mounted up in the Humvees; conducted assisted and unassisted ground navigation; traversed steep inclines and declines; and steered the vehicles through a series of obstacles including a 45-degree curve nicknamed the "Indy 500 curve," in order to pass a road test for licensing.

"The Indianapolis-500 turn felt like you were going to roll over, but we didn't," said Staff Sgt. Zachariah Lopez. Lopez is a Corpus Christi, Texas, native and 602nd Training Group broadcaster who is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan.

"We might have to go outside the wire so knowing what to expect can be the difference between staying safe and not coming home," he said.

The instructors' primary focus is to ensure the service members were comfortable driving the M1151.

"All I care about is for people to get a good feel for the vehicle so they can be ready for anything downrange," Staff Sgt. Jorge Leiva, 2/309th Training Support Bn. Observer control trainer.

For Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Victoria Seidel, Office of Naval Intelligence specialist, being comfortable and aware of her surroundings behind the wheel of an armored Humvee is crucial to her mission success.

Soldiers' last training event in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan was licensing on the M1151.

"You always have to be prepared for anything; just don't freak out," said Seidel. "Military is military is military and whatever I can learn here, I'm grateful for it."

Veterans awarded flying cross

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

5/31/2013 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Since its authorization by Congress on July 2, 1926, the Distinguished Flying Cross has been awarded to both officer and enlisted service members of the United States who exhibit heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight.

Travis had the distinct honor of hosting two recipients of the Distinguished Flying Cross Tuesday. The two service members, Marvin "Buzz" Oates and Robert Dohlke, served in different wars and have different stories, but both exhibited heroism during aerial flight.

Their tour kicked off with a visit to the outdoor portion of the Travis Heritage Center. Buzz Oates was able to view his old aircraft, the B-29 Superfortress.

Buzz entered the Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet and went on to fly 33 missions over Japan during World War II.

It was a particular mission that occurred during World War II which earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross.

When two bombs were engaged to be dropped from his jet at 23,000 feet, and failed to deploy, Buzz had to act quickly.

The two 100-pound bombs were hung on the rack of the B-29. At 23,000 feet with no oxygen and the bomb bay doors open, Buzz inched across a cat walk eight-to-10-inches wide to wrestle the first hundred pound bomb out of the plane, then was able to wrestle the second 100-pound bomb out, said Senior Master Sgt. Terry Juran, 349th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron section chief and Travis Heritage Center director.

"Had the plane hit any turbulence it would have ended very badly," Juran said. "Buzz definitely went above and beyond the call of duty. It was an act worthy of receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross."

As the tour continued through the Heritage Center, Bob Dohlke came across the C-123 Provider static, the aircraft he flew in the Vietnam War. Not only was this static the same type of aircraft, it had the same tail number as the aircraft Dohlke flew in the Vietnam War, number 54507.

"The visit to the A/C 507 was very sobering and a little emotional for me," he said. "The smell of combat was still in there and I recognized this immediately as I climbed the ladder."

Dohlke was a flight engineer and flew 914 combat missions for the Air Force and 200 combat missions for Air America. During the Vietnam War, he was a member of the 310th Air Commando Squadron.

When a special forces camp was under the attack of the Viet Cong and in need of an immediate resupply of ammunition, Dohlke and his crew on the plane were able to air drop two pallets of ammo, ultimately saving the camp.

"On the climb out we took intensive ground fire and had to make an engine out landing at a base near Bien Hoa in South Vietnam," Dohlke said.

Though the plane suffered around 160 bullet holes, Dohlke's actions brought everyone to safety.

"I can't help but reflect upon how well the Air Force trained us to complete the mission," Dohlke said. "Air Force crew members are the best trained aviators and really do step up."

It is an incredible glimpse into the past to have a historical figure from the Air Force's past give first-hand testimony, Juran said. To act and talk with the primary source about their experience and contributions helps preserve our history, tradition and legacy.

"It's wonderful to honor veterans, a great privilege to speak with them and have them visit the Travis Heritage Center," Juran said.

Air Terminal Operations Center gets troops to, from fight

by Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

5/31/2013 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan -- Transit Center at Manas has been an international strategic point for years. That importance is due to the mission of the Air Terminal Operations Center.

ATOC falls under the 376th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron aerial port. ATOC is responsible for constantly monitoring airlift missions and providing updates to the other sections in the aerial port. Load planning falls under ATOC; they plan the cargo for movement and gather data from the flight manifest to tell load masters about the load.

"Anything that comes to this port pretty much comes through us first," said Master Sgt. Dennis Smikle, 376th ELRS NCO in charge of ATOC.

ATOC gets notice when a flight is inbound to the Transit Center. They specifically note what's on the inbound aircraft and what that onward flight will take from the flight manifest when outbound. The load planning team performs the weight balance and inspects the load for a safe flight.

An ATOC representative goes out to the plane and helps the process go smoothly.

"Our main function at Manas is to maintain order within the aerial port," said Staff Sgt. Brett Bellemore, 376th ELRS ATOC information controller. "We make sure the other sections are following their required times, passengers get on the plane at the right time, and that the airplanes are airborne on time."

ATOC also assists with loading passengers on outbound flights, whether they are onward to their deployment destination, or returning home.

"This is a prime location," Bellemore said. "We're only about an hour and a half from Bagram Air Base, two and a half hours from Kandahar Air Field. So it's a very short flight for passengers. Instead of being on the C-17, which is an uncomfortable flight, for multiple hours at a time, it's just a quick flight. That way the aircrews are also able to do multiple trips in one day versus only being able to do one trip. If we weren't here, the passengers would have to fly into a different location."

On average, ATOC moves approximately 1,200 passengers a day. Bellemore believes the mission in Afghanistan relies on the troops at the Transit Center doing their jobs.

"Even though we're not down there in Afghanistan, we are responsible for ensuring the personnel get there when they're supposed to, and that they get home when they're supposed to," he said.

ATOC supports all U.S. forces whether it's Coast Guard, Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force, Active Duty, Guard or Reserve. They also support the majority of NATO personnel that go into and out of Afghanistan.

"That's why we serve -- to unite together for one cause," Smikle said.

Whether supporting U.S. or coalition forces, ATOC recognizes the impact of their mission.

"I enjoy our mission here at Manas," Bellemore said. "It's a daily reminder of what we're supporting downrange."

JBER EOD Airman nominated for annual Air Force publication

by Airman 1st Class Omari Bernard
JBER Public Affairs

5/30/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Courage is a word, a belief, a portrait. It is invisible, yet has many faces. It can have the face of a child learning to ride a bicycle without the training wheels. It may be the face of a person conquering their fear of heights. In this case, it portrays the face of a man who has deployed behind enemy lines.

Tech. Sgt. Dustin Lambries is the very portrait of courage.

Lambries is an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 673d Civil Engineer Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. He is also a husband and a father of three. Lambries grew up in a small town in Grandville, Mich., and entered the Air Force in 1999.

"I always knew I wanted to join the military," Lambries said. "I joined the Air Force because they had the coolest recruiter."

Why choose EOD?

"Blowing stuff up all the time, it kind of spoke to me," Lambries joked.

As an EOD technician, Lambries' job is to deal with improvised explosive devices in a controlled fashion. He is trained to employ tools like Composition C-4 explosives, robots and classified techniques to dispose of explosives, whether they are decommissioned missiles on base or roadside bombs in the field.

Lambries deployed to Afghanistan from September 2012 to March 2013 in support of joint and multinational operations in the Helmand Province.

"My deployment was a non-typical EOD deployment," Lambries explained. "A typical one for that unit would be in a truck doing route clearances, clearing IEDs on the roads. They had special mission sets that our expertise was requested on for Special Forces units."
During his deployment, Lambries and his EOD team were embedded with the United Kingdom's 12th Brigade Reconnaissance Force, call sign Finder 10. Their mission was to locate, strike and deny lethal aid to Taliban forces on an island in the Helmand River.
"Every mission we went on was usually an air assault," Lambries said. "A lot of shooting was involved and a lot of avoiding IEDs where we could. If we could not, that was what I was there for."

His team inserted via helicopter with the elements of Finder 10 onto the island at 2 a.m. under the cover of darkness.

"We would get in behind what would apparently be the enemy lines and land on the opposite side of it," Lambries said. "So we would be in their home and stir up the hornets' nest and then get intel on what had happened."

Upon hitting the ground, his unit quickly located one of the targeted mission objectives; an improvised explosives production facility with more than 200 pounds of homemade explosives. As they swept the perimeter of the compound they encountered two enemy scouts and engaged them, killing one and capturing the other. This was only the start of what would turn out to be a day-long engagement with a well-coordinated and well-equipped force of battle-hardened Taliban that outnumbered Lambries' unit.

"It was a lot of shooting," Lambries said. "There were a lot of firefights."

As day broke, Lambries' team detonated the explosives, destroying the production facility and resumed their pursuit of mission objectives. As his team swept the remainder of the island, they encountered a cache of enemy rifles as well as a large, unexploded artillery projectile. After destroying the enemy weapons cache and the unexploded ordnance, his team set up with the unit command element at a staging location while they prepared to follow the remainder of the Finder 10 elements across the Helmand River.

As they waited, his element began taking highly-concentrated, accurate enemy fire from a well-organized and motivated platoon-sized enemy element in a compound approximately 25 meters away. As the enemy continued to engage his element with machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades, Lambries began returning fire as Finder 10 elements flanked the compound and ended the engagement.

"How did I get here? What am I doing? Where are my guys? Am I looking in the right direction?" Lambries said he thought during the firefight.

As they continued to clear the compound, an enemy hand grenade exploded, severely wounding two British soldiers. Medical evacuation procedures began as the forward elements once again came under heavy and sustained enemy fire from other neighboring compounds.

"You get tight-knit as a group," Lambries said. "To see them getting shot at or getting hit, you get irate. It brings the fight out and just escalates from there. It is definitely an adrenaline rush."

Guarding the very end of the formation, Lambries laid down continuous cover fire, allowing Finder 10 to move across open terrain and seek cover inside a compound. These actions allowed the safe movement and evacuation of the two wounded

Lambries remained under fire for more than an hour as they bounded to safety, with rounds striking within six inches and engaging enemy forces as near as 25 meters. These actions resulted in four insurgent deaths, three wounded insurgents and one enemy detainee.

Throughout the course of his deployment Lambries displayed immense poise and skill even while under extreme pressure. For his actions throughout the deployment, he was awarded his second Bronze Star Medal, the Army Achievement Medal and was nominated for Portraits in Courage.

"It was hard for me to come up with something to put in for the story that goes into the nomination," Lambries said. "I have mixed feelings. I'm proud and very embarrassed, thanks to my family."

As courageous as his actions were that day, Lambries recognizes the efforts of his comrades and fellow EOD members who are deployed.

"The guys that are back are being recognized," Lambries said. "The guys that are over there are having hard days, difficult days and terrible days. They don't get the recognition that they are earning right now, so keep those guys that are there now in your thoughts and prayers."

Flying medics provide humanitarian relief

by Staff Sgt. David Dobrydney
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

5/31/2013 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- It had all the appearances of being a routine 'bandage' mission for the 455th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron as it landed at Camp Bastion May 27.

A regular part of the missions flown by the 455th EAES, 'bandage' missions transport servicemembers to facilities that can provide treatment beyond that available at more austere locations.

However, waiting for the five-person crew wasn't the expected wounded warrior, but a seven-year old Afghan boy who had suffered third-degree burns on his arm and needed transport to a hospital with more advanced equipment.

"This child had been injured by a flare ... and was placed on our mission as a humanitarian [patient]," said Tech Sgt. Abraham Lowden, 455th EAES medical technician, deployed here from the Channel Islands Air National Guard.

Such humanitarian missions are uncommon, but not unknown to the 455th EAES Airmen.

"It does happen fairly regularly," said Lowden, who added that such cases help demonstrate to the Afghan people that the Americans are there to help.

The child was accompanied by his mother and father, neither of whom spoke English. However, the boy already recognized the medical equipment the Airmen were using.

"The patient had already been in the medical system for a period of time," Lowden, a native of San Jacinto, Calif., said. "So he saw a blood pressure cuff, he knew what it was. You show up to take vitals, he already knows what to do."

An interpreter was present when the child first boarded the aircraft to facilitate communication with the crew. However, the interpreter had to remain at Camp Bastion, so for the 30 minutes the boy was in the care of the Airmen, more creative methods of communicating were necessary.

"We have certain tools we can use," said Capt. Andrea Essig, 455th EAES flight nurse, who described one such implement, similar to a pointy-talky, that consisted of a series of facial expressions.

"If there were a problem the boy could point to the face to show if he's hurting somewhere," she said.

Beyond the humanitarian impact, Essig, also deployed from the Channel Islands ANG, said treating the boy served a practical purpose as well.

"It's always good refresher training for us to go through some things in our mind of what we may encounter [with pediatric patients]," said the Ventura, Calif., native. "We want to take extra special care."

Hagel, in Hawaii, Praises 'Value Added' Force Integration

by Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

5/30/2013 - HONOLULU, May 30, 2013  -- The tight integration in Hawaii between active duty service members, civilian defense employees and National Guardsmen points to the future of the overall force, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told troops at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam here today.

"That's as much value added as I think we can get in our system," Hagel said. An Air Force F-22 Raptor served as the secretary's backdrop as he spoke to about 200 personnel representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard and Coast Guard.

Defense officials have previously identified fifth-generation fighter aircraft like the Raptor -- 199 of which are now based in Hawaii -- as essential elements in the new defense strategy, which includes a pivot toward the Asia-Pacific region.

"Thank you, on behalf of our president and our country," the secretary said. "I know sometimes you feel, stuck out here in the Pacific, that no one knows who you are or what you're doing; let me assure you, we do, and we're grateful." Hagel asked the group -- mostly made up of junior enlisted service members -- to also thank their families for the support they give the military.

"I think the families are often just taken for granted, and it's probably as difficult -- maybe more difficult -- for them as it is for you," he noted. "I ... extend my thanks and best wishes."

U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region are a "central part of the larger plan" America is pursuing in the Pacific, Hagel said. Hagel's stop in Hawaii is the first leg of a trip that will also take him to Singapore and Brussels.

In Singapore, Hagel will attend the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual gathering of defense and security experts from across the Pacific region. Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, and other senior military leaders from the region will also attend, he noted.

The secretary told troops that one of the points he will make at the conference is that the U.S. rebalance to this region is not only right for the nation, but for its Asian partners and allies.

"For the rest of the world, that doesn't mean we are abandoning our resources anywhere else, or we're retreating from any other part of the world. We're not," Hagel said.

When he leaves Singapore, the secretary will fly to Brussels to meet with NATO and International Security Assistance Force partners for talks on the Afghanistan campaign.

"Our interests are global," he added. "But ... I think the opportunities that abound in the world are probably centered as much in the Asia-Pacific as in any [other] one area."

Hagel said the unique opportunities present in the Asia-Pacific region hold "as much potential as maybe ever in the history of man."

He said to realize that potential, leaders in the region must govern wisely, respond to each other wisely, and form coalitions of common interests wisely.

"We all have common interests, [though] our governments are different," he said. "Our cultures are different; some of us look different; our languages are different. But still, the basic common interests of the human being don't change."

People everywhere need food and security, and they value their families, he said.
"I've never found a country yet, or religion, or culture, or tribe, that doesn't have the same feelings about their families," he said. " ... We start there. We all need the basics in life to survive. We start there."

Hagel said given that, a simple question follows: "Why can't we all get along?"

The secretary said he likes to ask simple questions, because "we tend to kind of glide over simple things, and ... occasionally make things more complicated than they need to be."

Hagel said "right now" is a defining time for the world, and Pacific nations will have a lot to say "about how this next world order is built out."

The decade after World War II was probably the last time the planet faced such profound social, political and international change, he added.

"The difference is, the United States held most of the cards after World War II," he said. "We don't hold all the cards this time; and by the way, that's good. [It] allows other countries to share responsibilities ... [and] prosper."

'City on the sea' guides F-16s

by Senior Airman Derek VanHorn
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/30/2013 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- One day it's the target, the next it's the weapon. Manned with around 350 Sailors, the U.S. Navy's Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh is capable of fighting off threats in a matter of seconds. But in some cases, a few seconds isn't quite enough.

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons pushed these times to the limit as both allies and simulated adversaries during a handful of rare joint training exercises between Navy Sailors and Misawa Airmen over the past few weeks. The services executed both Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses - the primary mission of the 35th Fighter Wing's Wild Weasels -- and defensive counter-air missions, using the USS Shiloh as both a surface-to-air missile site and control station to guide F-16s.

Behind the scenes of every jet ripping through the sky stands a command and control crew, coordinating each pilot's pivotal maneuvers via radio. Here at Misawa it's the 610th Air Control Flight, a team compiled of approximately 15 Airmen that provides arguably the biggest punch of any unit on base.

"Our command and control guys tell pilots where enemies are and provide situational awareness for all missions out of Misawa," said 1st Lt. Preston Phillips, 610 ACF unit operations training and tactics officer. "And as a ground-based unit, the 610th ACF's range can become somewhat limited the farther missions move away from the Japanese mainland."

That's where the U.S. Navy and the USS Shiloh came into play.

On a month-long mission in the Northern Pacific Ocean, Capt. Jim Jones, commanding officer off the USS Shiloh, reached out to Misawa officials to employ joint training to allow Sailors to exercise the command and control role from a "city on the sea" as Phillips put it.

In return, crew members invited four Airmen to spend a couple days on the ship during one mission, getting a grasp for naval operations and aiding controllers during this atypical opportunity. Phillips said they taught Sailors Air Force radio jargon and control style, which calls for more interaction than the Navy generally uses during aircraft communication.

Lt. Bryce Miller, air operations and ballistic missile defense officer of the ship, said the Navy was really appreciative of the efforts the Air Force brought to the table.

During training missions controllers can either control "good guys" or "bad guys", referred to as blue air and red air respectively, to simulate what could happen in a war-time scenario. Working with sister services provided a front row view of assets too prevalent to go unmentioned.

"The training gave me a new perspective on the Navy," said Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Warren, 35th Operational Support Squadron. "I've always known about the lethal capabilities the Navy brings to the fight, but to experience it firsthand gave a new found appreciation and respect for what they do on a daily basis."

It was a mutual feeling and bonding for both services, as several sailors, including Fireman Stephanie Morales, echoed Warren's thoughts.

"These are some of the most memorable training experiences I've had aboard the Shiloh," said Morales, who works damage control.

Warren worked alongside fellow 35 OSS intelligence analyst Tech. Sgt. Dan Roshio on the ship, and said their role was working with Navy controllers and sharing differences in operational focuses. He added the Air Force focuses on air-to-air, where the Navy focuses on missile defense and submarine warfare.

Along with knocks and bruises gathered from navigating unfamiliar, confined quarters below sea level and his maiden experience of a helicopter-over-water escort, Phillips said the experience offered enormous benefits for big picture military theaters combining forces in future operations.

"Working joint service operations increases our wartime capability," said Phillips. "The Navy and the Air Force don't always have the opportunity to train together, so taking advantage of this is huge."

Airmen inspect bomber's 'bare bones'

by Airman 1st Class Charles V. Rivezzo
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

5/31/2013 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- With a career that spans across three decades and a warfighting reputation that rivals nearly every aircraft in the Air Force's arsenal, the B-1 Lancer has established itself as one of the United States' most crucial assets to maintaining air and ground superiority.

This achievement was built on the backs of hundreds, if not thousands, of maintainers here who have kept this Cold War bird fighting well into the 21st century.

With the bomber's ever increasing role in today's combat operations, pushing the airframe to the limits of its original design, skilled maintenance professionals are crucial to ensuring mission success.

Located within one of the most prominent landmarks here, the "Global Power for America" hangar is home to the 7th Equipment Maintenance Squadron's maintenance flight -- a group of roughly 40 maintainers who strip down this aircraft to its frame only to inspect it, repair it and put it back together.

"Most B-1 aircraft are around 26 years old and require a lot of maintenance to keep mission ready," said Senior Master Sgt. Mark Mueller, the 7th EMS maintenance flight chief. "The isochronal inspection, better known as ISO, is a vital part of this effort. With a keen eye and dedication to duty these inspections make the daily maintenance easier. The effort is about finding and replacing the parts that failed, or are about to fail, before they cause mission delays."

Each year, this dedicated flight of Airmen inspect more than a dozen B-1s inside and out, manually removing approximately 215 panels just to begin the process. This is the beginning of a tedious and painstakingly complex list of tasks that ensure this heavily-employed bomber continues to provide constant overwatch for troops on the ground.

"ISO has a specific flow of how the maintenance is accomplished to make sure everything gets completed on time," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Johnson,  a member of the 7th EMS. "Day one is our de-panel day and most of the time, if the jet is playing nice, we can de-panel 90 percent of the aircraft in just one day."

From there, thousands of items are inspected for any discrepancies the aircraft may have and are repaired or replaced. The quality assurance shop then performs a follow-up inspection to ensure any repairs made to the aircraft were done correctly.

Once again, the tedious process of re-paneling the aircraft takes place, manually reinstalling each individual screw by hand.

"We then apply hydropower and preform an operational check out of the components that have been disconnected or replaced," Johnson said. "QA performs one last follow-up inspection and runs the engines to complete the rest of our operational checkouts."

The 7th EMS maintenance flight is allotted 15 to 18 duty days to complete this entire process, a objective that isn't friendly to the personal lives of these Airmen.

"For us, the duty day doesn't end until the job is completed," Mueller said. "If we get behind for some reason or we find something that requires labor intensive disassembly, we will work right through the weekend to ensure everything is done correctly. Our main objective is to keep the aircrew safe, keep the aircraft in the air and ensure freedom for everyone. One mistake on our part and we jeopardize that objective."

Furthermore, unlike many Airmen who move from station to station every few years, switching platforms in the process, B-1 maintainers rarely leave the platform, some spending their entire Air Force careers mastering every inch of the super-sonic bomber.

"This is a blue-collar, down-in-the-weeds type mission we have here," Mueller said. "The job we do isn't glamorous nor is it in the spotlight, but I could not be prouder of the men and women of the 7th EMS maintenance flight and their contribution to the freedom of the United States."

Airman Makes Most of Education Opportunities

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Warren Spearman
49th Wing

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M., May 30, 2013 – Airmen have different reasons for answering the call to defend our nation. Some join to travel the world. Some join to honor a legacy. Some join for self-improvement and end up helping others in the process.

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Air Force Capt. Derandoria Young, in red dress, poses with students and staff during her studies in the African nation of Ghana in 2010. The Maymester Abroad Course, sponsored by the University of Texas School of Social Work, provided 61 students the opportunity to broaden their educational horizons. Young now is assigned to the 49th Medical Operations Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., as an Air Force social worker. Courtesy photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Air Force Capt. Derandoria Young, a social worker with the 49th Medical Group here, enlisted to help finance her education and now uses that education to care for others. Young started out as an enlisted airman. At age 19, and in her second year in the Air Force, she said, she came to a crossroads. "My goal was to get an education and get out," Young said, but a conversation with an Air Force social worker put her on a different path.

After earning a degree in social psychology at Park University, Young went on to get a graduate degree in public administration, the first of her two master's degrees. She then received special permission to attend the University of Texas School of Social Work in Austin, Texas, while serving on active duty.
In 2010, Young and 61 other social work students took a trip to Ghana, a small nation on the west coast of Africa. The trip was designed to expand their educational experience.

"It was there I learned that everything you need, you probably already have," the captain said.

After graduation, Young returned to Langley Air Force Base, Va., where she worked under an Air Force social worker for two months. She was trying to learn everything she could while preparing to enter into the direct commissioning program as a social worker, she said.

The entry process was intense, Young said -- 100 people were applying for only 12 positions, and she lacked the three years of experience Air Force social workers need to deploy. She did have one advantage, she said: she had been a technical sergeant with 11 years in the military, and she knew that experience and her insider knowledge of the Air Force was valuable.

After writing a two-page paper on her Air Force social work experiences, Young was accepted into the program.

"The Air Force has been good to me," Young said. "It's given me an education and career."

Young said she is a huge advocate of making the best of the opportunities the Air Force offers, and advises others to never give up pursuing their goals.

"If you're determined, it will work out," she said.

Despite Hackers, DOD Retains Faith in Weapon Systems

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2013 – The United States military has “complete faith that our systems are secure and reliable,” a Pentagon spokesman said here today.

The military is always concerned about cybersecurity and the chances of losing information to other nations, Army Col. Steve Warren said, but the department has invested a lot of money, time and expertise in combating this threat.

In a meeting with reporters, Warren discussed alleged hacking that targeted U.S. military weapons systems, but he did not address what programs -- if any -- were exposed to cyber intrusions. “But we have absolute confidence in our systems,” he added. “Suggestions that any of these intrusions have led to an erosion of our capabilities is incorrect.”

Further, the spokesman said, there is no fear in the department that intrusions like this are eroding the U.S. military lead over other nations. “Suggestions that our technological edge has eroded are incorrect,” he said.

Warren said the department has a program that companies can join to help deter and mitigate these attacks. The Defense Industrial Base Enhanced Cybersecurity Information-sharing Program helps companies and the Pentagon defend American secrets, said Air Force Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a DOD spokesman specializing in cyber issues. The program has yielded successes in information sharing and in network defense, he said.

“Any company in the defense industrial base can sign a classified framework agreement and voluntarily join this sharing program,” Pickart said. “If the company experiences an intrusion or a cyberattack on their systems, they can voluntarily bring that to our attention.”

The company shares the signature of the intrusion and details associated with the attack. “We do our forensic analysis of that through the Defense Cybercrime Center,” Pickart said. “Once we looked at what that is, we are able to develop measures that we can then share back to all the companies, and that can help mitigate against future attacks or intrusions from whoever was launching them.”

The program started with DOD as a pilot program a few years ago. Today, 85 companies -- about half of the defense industrial base -- participate in the program. The department and the companies share both classified and unclassified information.

The Homeland Security Department has a similar program that took the lessons learned from the DOD effort and applied it throughout industry, Pickart said.

Dogs in flight ready to fight

by Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
36th Wing Public Affairs

5/29/2013 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam  -- What has six legs, detecting capabilities surpassing technological counterparts, deployment tasks and flies? Answer: A military working dog team, of course.

Dog handlers from the 36th Security Forces Squadron train their MWDs at least once a quarter on helicopter familiarization at the flightline here.

"When it's the first time for the dog to see helicopter rotaries spinning, hear the noises and feel the vibrations, the stimuli can make the dog uneasy and could drastically affect their abilities," said Staff Sgt. Steven Nowicki, 36th SFS MWD kennel master. "We train the dogs to eliminate sensitivity to those stimuli in order to get them accustomed to flying."

The training orients MWDs to helicopter operations, ultimately enhancing deployment readiness and the modes of transportation available to MWD teams while traveling throughout an area of responsibly.

"The dogs are the ones who get tasked for deployments," said Staff Sgt. James Colip, 36th SFS MWD trainer. "We, as handlers, take the dogs wherever they need to go. The units don't need our skills; they need the dogs' skills."

Air Force MWDs can be tasked to support deployed units from any branch of service. When patrols downrange check narcotic trafficking points or suspected bomb making houses, they send a request for assistance to the closest location where MWDs are stationed.

Nowicki said, when the MWD are sent out to those units downrange - especially outside the wire - the most convenient way to transport them is through air.

"It cuts down travel time and possible hazards associated with convoying," he said.

During training, MWD teams practice tactical deployment, air infiltration and exfiltration in order to get used to going in and out of a moving helicopter.

According to Nowicki, the biggest challenge for the handler is keeping the dog calm and comfortable and ensuring the dog is not a danger to the handler or any other individual associated with the aircraft or mission.

"Initially we like to keep it to just the handler and the aircrew in the helicopter, but it is not uncommon downrange to hop in the back of a Black Hawk with seven to eight people the dog has never seen before in there with us," he continued. "That's something we are trying to work up to. We train the dogs to be tolerant of anybody in the aircraft."

Hundreds of MWDs are still rotating in and out of the U.S. Central Command - out on the front lines, supporting joint patrols, narcotics and improvised explosive device detection missions with their handlers. To support that Department of Defense-wide mission, the 36th SFS MWD teams continue to train and get ready to fly when asked to sink their canines in contingency missions anywhere in the world.

Veteran honored, laid to rest

by Airman 1st Class Xavier Lockley
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

5/20/2013 - CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The Cannon Honor Guard laid to rest Johnny D. Morgan, a World War II veteran and member of the Roosevelt County National Guard in Portales, N.M., May 16.

Morgan served as a combat medic with the 804th Tank Destroyer Battalion. As a combat medic, he treated many soldiers and civilians, and was awarded the Bronze Star for his courage while evacuating wounded U.S. soldiers to safety during an artillery barrage. Morgan was the last remaining veteran of the original 14 Roosevelt County soldiers in the 804th TDB.

"The fact that we have the honor of performing a detail at this hero's funeral is something special to all of us." said Airman 1st Class Nick Ranck, 16th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief. "It is very rewarding to be a part of something so touching.

"Not many airmen are able to participate in something like this; it always makes a difference, not only in our lives, but for members of the families," he said. "When we go and perform details, we recognize that we represent the entire Air Force, and paying last respects to service members and their loved ones is truly moving."

The men and women of Cannon's Honor Guard view the task of performing details at funerals as an honor and a privilege.

"We have really meaningful opportunities available to us as Airmen and we are afforded the chance to do many wonderful things; this funeral meant a lot to us," said Airman 1st Class Dustin Parks, 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron. "Paying respect to this hero is something that we will not forget. It was an honor."

Not only was the ceremony rewarding for the honor guardsmen, it was also sentimental for retired U.S. Air Force Col. Mike Woolley.

"Johnny Morgan stood for everything that is good in America," Woolley stated. "He is one of the last of his generation, which in my opinion, is the greatest generation. Now it is time to turn the leaves in the American journal and leave it to the next one."