Military News

Friday, June 14, 2013

Reserve CES repairs World War II era airfield

by Capt. Ashley Conner
477th Fighter Group Public Affairs


6/13/2013 - CLARKSDALE, Miss.  -- More than 50 Reservists from the 477th Civil Engineer Squadron completed repair work on a World War II era airfield during their annual tour May 27 - June 8.

Fletcher Field in Clarksdale, Miss. was opened July 5, 1942. It was used by the United States Army Air Forces as a contract basic flying training airfield. It was operated by the 2154th Air Base Unit, Contract Elementary Flying School, Clarksdale School of Aviation. Students were trained on the Fairchild PT-23 and the Boeing-Stearman PT-17 trainers. When the last class graduated Oct. 14, 1944 the airfield was turned over to civil authorities. Since 1944 Fletcher Field has been used as the Clarksdale Municipal Airport.

Every year the members of the 477th CES use their annual tour to support an Innovative Readiness Training project. Last year they rebuilt a tornado-ravaged school in Tennessee while this year's IRT provided an opportunity to give back to the city of Clarksdale while also training together as a unit.

"The purpose of the IRT is to improve military readiness while simultaneously providing quality services to communities throughout America," said Lt. Col. Michael Forcht, 477th CES commander. "These programs are in keeping with a long military tradition, leveraging training to benefit both units and their home communities. They are strongly supported by the Department of Defense, Congress, the states and communities."

During the IRT the 477th CES was responsible for building a flight business office and a 10-bay aircraft hangar. While severe thunderstorms in the area delayed the project, causing standing water conditions at the hangar site the 477th CES along with Reservists from Civil Engineer Squadrons from Tinker AFB and Maxwell AFB were successful in completing their portion of the project. The entire projected is expected to be completed in August 2013.

"IRT provides hands on AFSC-specific training for unit members," said Forcht. "It allows members to get training requirements signed off and to obtain contingency vehicle licenses while also increasing camaraderie within our unit."

The reel standard: Base maintainer master of two lines

by Staff Sgt. Russ Scalf
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


6/13/2013 - LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- A ripple on the water breaks the calm of a serene mountain morning. For a brief moment life seems to stop and take notice as man and nature acknowledge the other's presence on the line.

Master Sgt. Jeff Wade, 19th Maintenance Group quality assurance chief inspector, is in his element. A standout on the Toyota Bassmaster Weekend Series, operated by American Bass Anglers, he carefully manages the responsibilities of being a sportsman, family man and Airman.

For Wade, professional fishing has been a lifelong pursuit. It has often mirrored the challenges and rewards of his military career. While his passion for fishing may have always taken a backseat to being a professional Airman, don't let that fool you: he is a champion in both communities.

"My first memories of fishing are in Spokane, Wash., fishing with my dad and brother," said Wade. "My dad wasn't a big angler. He talked to his buddies at work, and they told us what to do to catch some of the trout up there. We failed, but we did catch a bunch of sucker fish and it was fun, and that's kind of where we got hooked. I think we caught about 30, and we kept every one of them."

Wade first began to consider fishing as something more serious than a hobby during adolescence. He reminisced seeing professionals on television and thinking it could be a possible career path for him.

"Growing up I was watching the pros on TV thinking, I can do that," said Wade. "I've had the desire for as long as I can remember. When I came into the military I was stationed in Georgia, where there were real bass compared to Spokane, and I really cut my teeth there, back in '95-'96. That's when fishing became something more serious than a hobby."

In 1998 he made the leap from fisherman to competitor. His journey began in the back of the boat, fishing as a co-angler in small bass club tournaments. At this level, a big win mostly meant trophies and bragging rights. It was far from the bright lights and big paydays of ESPN and the Bassmasters, but it represented the first step of a long journey.

"Back then it was a lot of getting my tail kicked and learning," he said. "I was pretty thick headed, and you get out on the lake and you have to learn the ropes from these other guys. Some people didn't really want to show you anything, so a lot of it I had to learn on my own."

Throughout this learning period Wade was also acquiring an education in aircraft maintenance. He was assigned to Robins Air Force Base, Ga., as a hydraulic technician, and eventually moved up to the quality assurance office.

"I wasn't exactly mechanically inclined; I guess you can say I learned by fear," said Wade. "I just kept trying to progress. I was (Senior Airman) below the zone, and I was put up for a few quarterly awards. When a job came open in quality assurance, I decided to apply for it."

Characteristically modest, he grudgingly conceded typically the most qualified candidates are selected for the interview process. Wade would spend the next seven years honing his evaluation skills on the flightline, while beginning to excel in the boat.

In 2006 Wade had become exceedingly successful as a co-angler, winning tournaments from the back of the boat. He then took the next step toward achieving his dreams, buying a boat of his own and entering tournaments in the angler division.

"It was a real challenge moving to the front of the boat," said Wade. "As a co-angler you're depending on your boater to get you where you need to be. Now it's all on you. You have no one to blame if you don't catch a fish but yourself; the pressure was on."

Just as he was beginning to reel in his responsibilities as an angler, the military moved Wade's unit, the 19th Air Refueling Group, to Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Now a Tech. Sgt., Wade was given second pick of open positions within his career field. Arkansas seemed like a logical choice to continue growing his skills in and out of uniform.

"Fishing played a huge role in where my family and I chose to go," said Wade. "Because of the base realignment and my rank, I had the unique opportunity to choose where I went next. I definitely wanted to stay in the south and keep progressing in fishing. I'm really fortunate that my wife is so supportive of both of my careers. We have two great kids and we're always busy, but I definitely couldn't do any of it without her."

The balance between family, work and fishing has been challenging at times for the Wade family. But it's one that's made easier with support of his wife, Stephanie. Through the ups and downs of his fishing career, she has been there to anchor the family.

"It's a team thing," said Stephanie. "We work together as a family or it doesn't go. Our son, Masen, plays baseball and our daughter, Abi, is in competitive cheerleading, we have to work to balance it all out. There have been times we have talked about stopping (fishing). He is gone a lot of weekends, but there are also a lot that he won't fish.

Sometimes he will practice early in the week just to be able to take the kids where they need to be. There are always going to be ups and downs, but as long as he's having fun we'll go as far as he wants to take it. I get just as excited for him at weigh-ins as he does. I enjoy it, it's almost like he's one of the kids. I get excited when he does well, and nervous when he doesn't."

In 2008, after spending the first 13 years of his career in one location working on KC-135 Stratotankers, Wade found himself in unfamiliar waters at Little Rock Air Force Base. He was inserted as the lead hydraulic technician, but would quickly rise through the ranks again. Within a year he would become the section chief of the legacy C-130 aircraft maintenance unit, and within the next year the production office superintendent. During this time frame Wade would also complete tours of duty in Iraq and Kuwait. Time for fishing had become scarce, but he did not give up on his dreams.

"During my first few years at Little Rock I just didn't do a lot of fishing," said Wade. "I would try to get on the water when I could, but my priority was focusing on my career and the needs of the Air Force."

In 2012, all of the focus began to pay off. Wade interviewed to become the 19th Maintenance Group chief inspector. His hiring affirmed the commitment he made to become a leader in his career field. It also provided him an opportunity to begin selecting and mentoring his own inspectors, who would take his place assuring quality and safety on the flightline. The year was capped off by his selection as the senior non-commissioned officer maintenance professional of the year.

Last year also proved to be an exceptional year on the water. Wade entered the Bassmaster Weekend Series, Arkansas division, and began stringing together consistent performances. By season's end, he had compiled enough points to be named Arkansas Angler of the Year, and earned his first trip to the national tournament. A win would see him achieve his lifelong dream of fishing in the Bassmaster Classic, the sport's equivalent to the Super Bowl, which boasts a $500,000 first place prize.

In November on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, in Lufkin, Texas, Wade set out with nothing to lose. Virtually an unknown, he fished his way to fourth place going into the final day of the tournament. The win was within striking distance, but this would not be the day he realized his dream. His four-day total of 50 pounds of bass was enough to best 190 competitors for a seventh place finish.

As close as he came, Wade has not let the disappointment of that final day deter him. He is currently in third place in the 2013 standings in defense of his title.

"I got the money in my head the last day," said Wade. "I stopped fishing the way that was working for me, and I choked. For me, it makes me want to drive that much harder to never have that feeling again. Inside it burned; it was a horrible, horrible feeling."

For Wade the future will continue to be a balance of responsibility and opportunity. The same characteristics that have made him a remarkable Airman have been the same ones that have made him an exceptional angler.

"Whatever I do next, I'll continue to apply the lessons I've learned from fishing and the Air Force," said Wade. "I'd love to fish in the Bassmaster Classic. It would be great if they had a military qualifier. But regardless, I'll continue to use the discipline I've learned in the military to stay with things, like say a strategy on the lake. And I'll use the patience I've learned from fishing, and apply it to my career and just try to continue to improve myself."

Pope Field getting 'green' control tower

by Tech. Sgt. Peter R. Miller
440AW/PA


6/13/2013 - POPE FIELD, N.C. -- Construction crews on are busy putting finishing touches on the new $8 million air traffic control tower overlooking the flightline here.

"The new 135-foot 11-story structure brings a host of capabilities to Fort Bragg that the long-standing 1970s-era tower had grown too outmoded to provide," said Marco Walton, the Pope Field air traffic control manager. The new tower boasts several upgrades over its 110-foot nine-story predecessor including expanded square-footage, heightened visibility, improved environmental controls and a smaller ecological footprint. Many of the tower's improvements stem from its "green" roots as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified structure.

The LEED certification, bestowed by the U.S. Green Building Council, indicates that a structure has achieved a requisite level of sustainability, resource efficiency, energy efficiency and environmental quality. Builders are awarded points for incorporating sustainable technologies and practices in construction projects and certifications are earned by achieving points.

"The new ATC tower raked in many points by recycling more than 90 percent of the high-tech electronics from the old tower, LED lighting, motion-sensing light controls, electric car charging stations, and post-consumer construction materials increased the score. The facility also had to comply with stringent details from its landscaping to the materials used in its furniture and carpet, said Walton, and the enhanced energy efficiency will save taxpayers money over time."

"The original tower, while state-of-the-art when it began operations in 1975, was built to house the hi-tech air traffic control and communications equipment of its day," said Walton. The standard equipment used by the Federal Aviation Administration in the late 1970s was much bulkier and successive iterations of improvements in technology and miniaturization had made the tower a patchwork of modern technologies in a bygone vessel.

"It had reached its capacity for additional modernization," said Walton, a retired active-duty Air Force air traffic controller. The new structure has the capability to grow "as the Air Force modernizes and improves the techniques we use to do our job," said Walton. "This place is wired for sound. It has a lot more LAN drops and a lot more phone drops. That is very fundamental, but as air traffic control goes we have a lot more growth potential as technology improves in the future."

In addition to the nests of reworked outdated wiring, the old tower had other pressing issues. "We had a problem with mold," said Walton. "When it would rain, it would leak into the tower windows and rain would run all the way down inside the offices. [The Directorate of Public Works] would come clean it up, but the new tower obviously improves the working conditions for the employees who work here."

"The Army Corps of Engineers supervised construction of the tower from inception to completion," said Walton. "They issued proposal requests, managed logistics, and held contractors accountable to the tower's blueprints. Although the ground breaking ceremony took place in early 2011, the building's construction faced several delays due to the intense specialization and unique skillsets required of the construction personnel."

The tower consolidates two formerly separate facilities by co-locating a control tower simulator within the tower walls. The 270-degree wrap-around training simulator can replicate a variety of weather conditions like rain, snow and ice during day or nighttime operations. It can also interject any type and number of aircraft needed for the facility to accomplish its training objectives.

Walton said he expects the merger to help him mitigate the effects of federal furloughs on his team, whose staffing is currently 75 percent of capacity.

"We are a 100 percent civilian workforce here, so the furlough will affect all of us," said Walton. "As our manning is heightened, we don't have the luxury of sending two or three people down the street for training. We need to be able to recall people quickly."

"Facility employees have faced denied leave requests and additional shifts due to pending budgetary constraints," said Walton. Yet, despite the FAA's budgetary woes, the Pope Field ATC tower operates safely at full capacity, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year in support of America's worldwide commitments.

Face of Defense: Instructor Pilot Conquers Mount Everest

By Bekah Clark
12th Flying Training Wing

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colorado Springs, Colo., June 14, 2013 – An active mountain climber since he was a cadet here, Air Force Capt. Marshall Klitzke, a native of Lemmon, S.D., has felt at home in the mountains since he was a boy.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Capt. Marshall Klitzke, an instructor pilot with the 557th Flying Training Squadron at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., poses for a photo at the summit of Mount Everest, May 20, 2013. Courtesy photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"My grandfather was from [Colorado Springs], so I had visited the area since I was little,” he said. “He always took me into the mountains to hike or fish, and that's when I fell in love with them. I've always felt very comfortable there."

Klitzke, an instructor pilot with the 557th Flying Training Squadron here, climbed Mount Everest with six other Air Force members, reaching the summit May 20.

The airmen all are members of the Seven Summits Challenge team, an independent group that aims to spread goodwill about the Air Force through the sport of climbing. The team also supports and raises money for wounded warriors.

The team is named for its self-imposed challenge to climb the highest peak on each continent. Since 2005, the team has scaled Mount Elbrus in Europe, Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, Mount Aconcagua in South America, Mount McKinley in North America, Mount Vinson in Antarctica, Mount Kosciuszko in Australia, and finally, signifying the completion of their goal, Mount Everest in Asia.

Klitzke, who also has climbed Mount Rainier in Washington and Ama Dablam in Nepal, said the group is the first military team to scale all seven and the first U.S. military team to reach the summit of Mount Everest. The Mount Everest climb was the only climb Klitzke did with the group.

"A buddy of mine, Kyle Martin, and I have climbed together since we were cadets," Klitzke said. "He put Rob Marshall, a V-22 pilot and the co-founder of the group, in touch with me. Rob offered me a spot on the team for the Everest climb due to my previous experience climbing in the Himalayas."

Klitzke cited living in Colorado as a benefit in preparing for the climb.

"Physically, you have to condition yourself, and living in Colorado you have the benefit of having the mountains in your backyard," he said, also crediting military training with his and the team's success.

"In the military, you're constantly dealing with and working through problems, and it gives you that edge for how to push through challenges," he said. "It goes back even to my basic training at the academy. That life experience in the military really bears true on the mountain -- sometimes you just have to push through, put your head down and focus on putting one foot in front of the other."

That training aside, Klitzke is quick to acknowledge the risks of the sport, especially on a mountain as perilous as Mount Everest.

"You're always very conscious about how it is such a long ordeal, especially with the elements you're dealing with," he said. "You're living on rocks and ice for a month and a half, so something as simple as spraining your ankle has huge ramifications."

Maintaining physical health and stamina for the summit push, which according to the team's blog takes on average 12,000 calories to complete, is vital.

"You're [at such a high altitude] that your body has to burn so many extra calories just to continue to exist," he said. "I lost about 28 pounds from the time we landed in country to when we finished the climb."

The group spent about 50 days to accomplish the climb. "It took two weeks just to hike to the base camp," Klitzke said. "Once you're there, you have to acclimate, so you go up part of the mountain several times before the summit push. While we were there, we estimate that we climbed more than 44,000 feet total.
"You go up to Camp One and come back to base camp, then up to Camp Two and back down, then up to Camp Three and then back down,” he continued. “This basically triggers your blood to create more red blood cells so that you can maintain safe blood oxygen levels."

Once the group acclimated, it took about four days for the summit climb. At 4:30 a.m. May 20, the team reached the summit.

"You spend almost two months getting there, and even though you only get 15 minutes to take everything in, it is absolutely worth it," Klitzke said. "It was pretty amazing getting to see the sunrise over the Tibetan plains and watch the whole world light up."

With that challenge complete, Klitzke has his sights set on medical school.

"While mountaineering will probably always be a part of my life, I have a passion for trying to help people, and I feel like I have a lot of ability to do that," he said. "So my next goal is to become a pilot physician."
The experience of a lifetime wouldn't have been possible without the support he received from his commander and squadron, Klitzke said.

"They were nothing but supportive before, during and after the climb,” he added. “I'm really thankful for all of the encouragement and support they gave me."

"We couldn't be more proud of Marshall and the team," said Air Force Lt. Col. Bradley Oliver, 557th Flying Training squadron commander. "In addition to climbing Mount Everest, Marshall is an instructor in all three of our aircraft and is an exceptional officer. I hope his next dream of going to medical school is realized."

Peterson and Cheyenne Mountain Airmen answer call during Black Forest Fire

by Michael Golembesky
21st Space Wing Public Affairs


6/14/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- North of Peterson AFB, a massive column of thick smoke is visible for miles while the smell of burning pine trees fills the air. All attention and resources are focused on containment of the Black Forest Fire, which has been raging for the past two days.

The fire department chiefs, Chief Master Sgt. Mark Crowe of Peterson and Christopher Miller of Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, wasted no time in responding to support requests from El Paso County Sheriff's Department through a mutual aid agreement.

The 21st Space Wing sent four personnel with one fire truck to work on building and structural protection inside the fire zone. The 721st Mission Support Group at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station also sent a crew of nine personnel with one fire truck to support the effort to protect life and property.

Six other firefighters from the 21st SW were also sent to backfill the CMAFS fire department. A combined three-person crew from the 21st and 721st were also sent to backfill a Colorado Springs fire station.

The CMAFS Fire Department personnel are unique in the fact that their members are "red card" certified meaning they possess specific wildland fire training, which is invaluable in a situation like this.

A "red card" indicates a person has undergone official federal training specific to fighting wildland fires.

"These Airmen are specially trained and ready to respond to this kind of natural disaster," said Col. Joe Turk, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station installation commander. "This was validated during their support to the Waldo Canyon fire last year."

According to the Colorado State Forest Service, to earn your "Red Card," or Interagency Incident Qualification Card, individuals must complete the National Wildfire Coordinating Group Basic Firefighter course and the Introduction to Fire Behavior course. In addition to classroom and field training, individuals also must pass a physical work-capacity test, called the "pack test," to prove they are able to perform physically arduous tasks in the field.

"These Airmen are working tirelessly in support of state and local authorities and firefighters on the ground," Turk said. "We will continue to provide support as our resources and capabilities allow."

The fire crews from Peterson and CMAFS are replaced on a regular basis to allow ample time to recover and to send in rested personnel to continue the fight. A fire crew from F.E. Warren AFB, Cheyenne, Wyo., has also arrived to augment the Peterson fire department for on-base emergencies.

"After working through the Waldo Canyon fire last year, we understand the need for a unified effort from all agencies involved in this response," said Col. Chris Crawford, 21st Space Wing commander. "It is incredible to watch so many organizations come together to protect this community."

Marine Platoon Works With Jordanian Armed Forces

By Marine Corps Cpl. Michael S. Lockett
26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

AL QUWEIRA, Jordan, June 14, 2013 – Marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s amphibious assault vehicle platoon had its first bilateral training event of Exercise Eager Lion 2013 here June 12, conducting a live-fire shoot in their AAVs with members of the Jordanian armed forces in their own light armored mechanized vehicles.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s amphibious assault vehicle platoon order their vehicles for transport to the training area after conducting an amphibious landing on the coast of Jordan as part of Exercise Eager Lion, June 6, 2013. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael S. Lockett
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“In any training event, one of the major end states is that we build relationships and the understanding that we’re not just building military skills, but also establishing rapport on a personal and professional level,” said Marine Corps Capt. Jonathan Riebe, the platoon’s commander.

“I think it’s important that we take part in these multinational operations in order to share methods on how we maintain our military and how we employ our military,” added Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Michael Conners, platoon sergeant.

Eager Lion has proven to be more than just a yearly exercise in the high deserts of Jordan involving service members from the United States, Jordan and other partner nations, Riebe said. It is a significant training exercise solidifying already strong partnerships, he added.

“Jordan has been a partner of ours, supporting us through Operation Enduring Freedom,” Riebe said. “Eager Lion is an annual training exercise with the Jordanians … to strengthen our military and political ties and foster a friendly relationship in the area.”

The platoon’s Marines are focusing their training by tailoring to their Jordanian hosts and thoroughly observing the Jordanian skillsets.

“We’re approaching the training in a logical fashion [by] really getting the host nation’s input on what they’re trying to get out of the training,” Riebe explained. “We’re adapting the assets we have to give them the training [that will most benefit them].”

The Marines of AAV Platoon and the rest of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit will be in Jordan for the remainder of Eager Lion, training with their Jordanian and United Kingdom counterparts.

NSA Director: Security Leaks Have Done Great Harm

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2013 – Leaks to the public about a classified National Security Agency terrorist surveillance program that collects data from the phone calls of Americans already have jeopardized national security, the NSA director told a Senate panel here June 12.

On June 6, from a hotel in Hong Kong where he had fled, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked information to two newspapers about classified NSA surveillance practices.

Testifying before the full Senate Appropriations Committee with representatives from Homeland Security, the FBI and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, who is also commander of U.S. Cyber Command, shared his concern for the nation.

“Great harm has already been done by opening this up, and the consequence, I believe, is [that] our security is jeopardized,” Alexander said.

“There's no doubt in my mind,” the general added, “that we will lose capabilities as a result of this, and that not only the United States, but those allies that we have helped, will no longer be as safe as they were two weeks ago.”

Alexander said the surveillance program has disrupted or helped to disrupt in the United States and abroad “dozens of terrorist events,” including the 2009 case of Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan-American arrested as part of the 2009 U.S. al-Qaida group accused of planning suicide bombings on the New York City subway system.

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper told the Senate in March that the NSA collection program was critical to discovery and disruption of the Zazi case. Discovery in the case began with phone data surveillance information based on operatives overseas, Alexander explained.

“We saw connections to a person in Colorado, and that was passed to the FBI. The FBI determined who that was -- Zazi -- and [associated] phone numbers,” he said.

“The phone numbers on Zazi were the things that then allowed us to use the business-records [Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act] to go and find out connections from Zazi to other players throughout communities, specifically in New York City,” the general added.

Alexander said he is seeking to determine, with help from the intelligence community and other administration officials, how more details can be declassified so the program can be more fully explained to the public.

“We now know that some of this [classified information] has been released,” Alexander said. “So why does it make sense to explain to the American people so they have confidence that their government is doing the right thing? Because I believe we are, and we have to show them that.”

The general added, “We have great people working under extremely difficult conditions to ensure the security of this nation and protect our civil liberties and privacy, … [and] I would like the American people to know that, because they would be tremendously proud of the men and women of NSA who have done this for us for the last decade.”

The issue, Alexander said, “is we then have to debate how much [information] we give out and what does that do to our future security? That's where the real debate is going to take place, because that's the issue that is now before us.”

As they questioned Alexander and the other witnesses, some of the senators wanted to know how Snowden, a 29-year-old high-school and community-college dropout who held short-term and relatively low-level positions with the CIA, NSA and then was an NSA contractor, had access to such highly classified information.

Alexander noted that in the information technology arena, “some of these folks have tremendous skills to operate networks. That was [Snowden’s] job for the most part, from 2009 to 2010, as an IT system administrator within those networks. He had great skills in that area.”

But the general said he has grave concerns about Snowden’s access and about potential breakdowns in the oversight process.

“I think what we have to do is come back and perhaps look at the oversight mechanism we have, … the automated checks and balances that exist, and what we can do to improve those,” he told the Senate panel.
The IT infrastructure was outsourced about 14 years ago, which provided more federal work in that area to contractors, Alexander noted. “As a consequence,” he added, “many in government -- not just us -- have system administrators who are contractors working and running our networks.”

Snowden was a system administrator with access to key parts of the network, Alexander said. “So we've got to address that,” he acknowledged. “That is of serious concern to us, and something we have to fix.”
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine addressed Alexander at one point during the hearing.

“I saw an interview in which Mr. Snowden claimed that due to his position at NSA he could tap into virtually any American's phone calls or emails,” she said. “True or false?”

“False,” the general replied. “I know of no way to do that.”

The senators also asked Alexander how the NSA and other intelligence organizations could avoid the need to hire young people with so little experience to make up the future cyber workforce.

“In the military, we are going to hire young folks … who graduate from high school to work in this area, and the key will be the training that we give them,” the general said. “Ideally we'd like to get four years out of a top-notch engineering school for some of the military positions, but we won't get that, so we have a responsibility to bring them into the force and train them.”

It takes several years to train people in this area, Alexander told the panel.

“So in effect, we're running a cyber college for many of our young enlisted folks to get them to the requisite skills,” the general said.

On the NSA side, he added, it’s easier to hire college graduates.

“What I need, I think, is greater scrutiny,” the general said. “I need to go back and look at what I am getting with my contract support and what are their capabilities and how do we manage that from a government perspective. That’s something I have concerns about.”

Air Force twins retire together

by Airman 1st Class Keith A. James
18th Wing Public Affairs


6/14/2013 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Identical twin brothers Jared and Jason Tuckett retired from the Air Force June 10 on Torii Station, Japan.

Master Sgt. Jason Tuckett, 3rd Intelligence Squadron mission management superintendent, made the more than 7,500-mile long trip with family to Okinawa, Japan, from the states to retire alongside his brother, Master Sgt. Jared Tuckett, 390th Intelligence Squadron formal training section chief.

The two brothers said it was completely random on the decision of retiring together.

"I extended an extra year at Kadena for my children's schooling and called my brother one day and found out he would be retiring around the same time I would," Jared said. "So we then decided to do it together."

Retiring with a combined 41 years of service, the brothers shared more than just the same birthday. They also shared the same career field as cryptologic linguist analysts.

"We both learned Japanese through missions with our church and I decided I wanted to become a linguist in the Air Force," Jared said.

Jared enlisted in the Air Force in August 1992 as a Hebrew cryptologic linguist analyst, and would later go on to also learn Chinese Mandarin.

He would also go on to play a role in getting his younger brother, Jason, to enlist, welcoming him into the world of a linguist.

"After a year in I talked him into joining; I told him some of the things I was doing and thought it would be a good fit," Jared said.

Though his brother's encouragement helped, Jason said joining the Air Force was already on his mind.

"We joined to serve; our father was a part of the U.S. Air Force Reserve and after retiring, he worked as a civil service member working on the F-16 Fighting Falcon so we knew which service we would join," Jason said.

As staying proficient and current on their different languages was important, it created some challenging aspects of the job.

"Being an airborne linguist, I personally didn't like to fly that much and getting over air sickness was a big challenge for me, but it was beneficial in the end," Jared said.

Despite the many challenges, both brothers worked off each other's strengths, weaknesses and experiences.

"We shared a lot of notes," Jason said with a laugh.

During their enlistments, the duo worked together at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, as instructors teaching the incoming members of the career field.

"I enjoyed being an instructor," Jared said. "I loved being able to teach them about the job and tell them about my experiences in the Air Force and working along my brother and even fooling him a bit too."

"We made sure that they were prepared and knew what they were getting into," Jason added.

Now that they are retired, Jason plans to return to the Air Force as a civilian doing the same job at Fort Gordon, Ga., while Jared plans to finish up his education degree and work for Department of Defense school systems in the Pacific.

"That's one thing you will get from the Air Force; you're part of a bigger family," Jason said. "Doesn't matter where your serving they'll take you in."

Air Force's last Huey departs Hurlburt Field

by Senior Airman Kentavist Brackin
1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs


6/12/2013 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla.  -- The Air Force's last operational UH-1H Huey helicopter made its final departure June 5 from the flightline here.

The helicopter is one of four aircraft transferred to New York State Police's aviation unit as part of the Law Enforcement Support Organization Program.

"It was a great opportunity for [Air Force Special Operations Command] to be able to give a helicopter like this to the law enforcement support agency supporting New York State police aviation," said Ben S. Harton Jr., AFSOC aerospace vehicle distribution officer.

The LESOP matches assets, which are no longer needed, with U.S. civilian law enforcement agencies requests.

It's a great program, according to Phil Napolitano, chief pilot for NYSP aviation crew.

"We're getting a great piece of equipment from the military that is being phased out," he said. "When you buy an aircraft like this nowadays, you're talking millions of dollars, but it cost essentially nothing for us."

Napolitano said the NYSP plans to use the Huey primarily for utility, cargo, and search and rescue missions.