Friday, June 21, 2013

Ramstein Airmen build capability with Polish air force

by 1st Lt. Kay M. Nissen
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/20/2013 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- The 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and 435th Contingency Response Group continuously train to meet sustainable medical readiness throughout the European theater here.

Training not only benefits Ramstein Airmen, but also other allies like the Polish air force who have consistently engaged in AE training and familiarization throughout 2012 and 2013.

"All NATO countries benefit from having highly skilled and qualified teams to transport wounded warriors from theater back to higher levels of medical care, and eventually back to their home country," said Lt. Col. Kevin D. Hettinger, 435th CRG flight surgeon and Poland AE Building Partnership Capacity team lead.

In early 2012, Polish AE team members visited the 86th AES Airmen here. In turn, three months later, a member of the 86th AES attended the first medical evacuation and aeromedical evacuation conference at the Polish air force academy.

Last month, two Airmen from the 86th AES, and one Airman from the 435th CRG engaged with Poland again to focus on advancements of the Polish AE team from the previous year.

"The Polish (Aeromedical Evacuation) team has a goal of obtaining NATO certification for aeromedical evacuation," Hettinger said. "Our team was able to provide some recommendations toward this goal after reviewing published NATO standards for AE and inspection checklists."

Currently, the Polish AE team can transport stabilized Polish troops from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center back to Poland.

"Their team is amazing," said Tech. Sgt. Elizabeth Araujo, 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron technician and fluent Polish speaker. "It's a team of six. They fly as a CCATT (Critical Care Air Transport Team). They do everything, they receive the phone call, they receive the plane, they set up and they fly."

While the Poland AE team impressed their U.S. counterparts, the Polish medical experts continue to work to reach their certification and sharpen their skills.

"It was nice to see how receptive they are and how willing they are to take in that information," Araujo said. "They're hungry for information, they want it, they're open to suggestions, they're willing to take criticism and learn from it."

While, the Polish AE team was absorbing information, the three Ramstein Airmen also learned from their interaction with fellow medical professionals.

"Both teams benefited as each shared their processes for safely moving patients during air evacuation," Hettinger said.

Training between both countries is planned to continue to ensure strategic capabilities for NATO allies throughout the European theater.

Total Force in full force

by Staff Sgt. Katie Spencer
459th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

6/20/2013 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- The U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve all have different missions when providing air power and support across the globe.

When added together, they become a trifecta called the Total Force Integration and provide enhanced combat capability and increased force-wide efficiency by leveraging the resources, strengths, and experiences.

The members of the 459th Air Refueling Wing, here, got first-hand experience working within this trifecta during an overseas mission, June 7-12.

Two pilots, three maintainers and a boom operator traveled to the European country of Estonia to provide air-to-air refueling to a team of Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter jets from the 175th Wing, Baltimore. The fighter jets participated in an international and collation training exercise called Saber Strike and needed refueling support on the trip back to the U.S.

The 459th crew did not act alone in their mission to assist the A-10s.

An active duty tanker team from the 22nd ARW, McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., partnered with the 459th ARW to ensure the fighter jets were fueled throughout their journey across the Atlantic Ocean back to America.

In preparation for the actual mission, the crews must come together on the ground and brief as a team to ensure everyone is on the same page.

"When you step in a briefing room, it doesn't matter if you are active, Guard or Reserve," said Lt. Col. Richard Coalson, 350th Aerial Refueling Squadron commander, McConnell AFB. "We all have a mission to do and it comes together seamlessly. We brief, we take-off and we do our jobs."

When it comes time for the teams to do their jobs, the two KC-135 Stratotankers are in the air with four A-10s surrounding them waiting to be refueled. The McConnell and Andrews tankers are in constant communication with the Baltimore fighter jets who pull up to the booms, the tankers fuel nozzle, to get their fuel. A few fuel dispenses and eight hours later, the trifecta lands at Lajes Field, Azores (Portugal) for crew rest. The teams will reconvene the following day and do it all over again.

"These long trips require everyone to really work together and become an integrated force," said Coalson. "I think working in a total force environment is the best way to complete missions and it is important we do it and do it well."

In addition to proving support to different units across the world, some of the team from this TFI mission are about to join their deployed wingmen of the 459th Operations and Maintenance Group who are currently deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Working in a total force atmosphere helps to prepare them for a total force deployment.

"I enjoy working side by side with the other components," said Maj. Brian Fisher, 756th ARS pilot. "Although we all adhere to the same standards and support the same overall mission, each component has a slightly different perspective, approach, and experience level when working to meet the challenges. These differences tend to produce more robust solutions to a given mission scenario."

While working in a total force atmosphere provides different perspectives and approaches, this mission supplied crew members with necessary skills in order to be current on their training.

Things like oceanic procedures, communication/data link procedures, formation events, and off-station transition procedures are all part of training needed for deployment, said Fisher. They also give the aircrew opportunity to operate the aircraft in areas of the world which are different from the local training environments. Overall they are great experience builders and contribute to increasing the combat support capability for the aircrews and maintainers, he said.

From global missions in a TFI environment to deploying in support of a war, the 459th ARW continues to provide mission support to its Active Duty and Air National guard counterparts.

JBER, Yokota Airmen team up for C-130 recovery

by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera
JBER Public Affairs

6/20/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- When an aircraft suffered mechanical issues and diverted to an isolated island more than 2,000 miles away from its home station, a group of Airmen from the 3rd Maintenance Squadron's Maintenance Recovery Team came to assist.

On the way back from program depot maintenance in Robins Air Force Base, Ga., a C-130 Hercules made an emergency stop in Shemya, Alaska, due to hydraulic issues.

Once the crew chiefs from the 374th Maintenance Group, Yokota Air Base, Japan, inspected the aircraft, they found a 7.5-inch structural crack.

Because the aircraft was deemed non-mission capable and unable to fly, the 3rd MXS answered the call from the 613th Air Operations Center to assist with the recovery.

"Prior to the MRT arriving in Shemya, an advance-echelon team consisting of aerospace ground equipment, non-destruction inspection, and aircraft structural maintenance craftsmen assessed the damage to ensure there was nothing further required from JBER," said Master Sgt. Joshua Gilbert, ASM section chief.

Providing the right tools for the job, the 3rd MXS formed the team based on qualified experience.

"A team was put together to go out, recover and provide maintenance support," said Chief Master Sgt. Vicente Cruz, 3rd MXS Fabrication Flight chief.

Staff Sgt. Justin Dallmier, aerospace ground equipment craftsman, was the first of the JBER MRT to arrive at Shemya.

Within the first 12 hours, he and the three Yokota Airmen, who arrived with Dallmier, started working.

"My job is to assemble the tripod jack to support the tail," Dallmier said. "I got the jacks in position to support the tail of the aircraft so they could start working."

Staff Sgt. Jason Franklin and Staff Sgt. Morgan Higgins, 3rd MXS aircraft structure maintenance craftsmen also responded to assist the Yokota personnel. Arriving less than a year ago at JBER, Franklin and Higgins were selected for the MRT mission because of their extensive knowledge working on a C-130 Hercules.

"By the time we got there, the Yokota personnel were just getting off their shift and we just picked up where they left off," Franklin said. "It was a joint effort to get the aircraft off the ground."

Everyone was working together, even outside their specialties, to help each other out, added Higgins.

Despite the extreme weather with 60-knot wind and low visibility, these Airmen got the job done. After 72 hours of non-stop, around-the-clock work, the team from JBER and Yokota accomplished the task.

Hagel Vows to Prioritize Cyber, Nuclear Capabilities

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2013 – Malicious cyberattacks are quickly becoming a defining security challenge “for our time, for all our institutions,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said yesterday during a speech in Omaha, Neb., at his alma mater, the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

“They are putting America's economic and technological advantages and our industrial base at risk,” the secretary added. “And they threaten our critical infrastructure.”

Hagel noted some now-familiar defense challenges in the cyber realm: attacks are invisible, hard to track to their source, and potentially can be classified as either criminal activity or acts of war.

“Attribution is not impossible, but it is not as simple as identifying a navy sailing across the ocean or an army crossing a border to attack you,” Hagel said. “This is a fundamentally different, more insidious kind of threat than we've ever seen -- one that carries with it a great risk of miscalculation and mistake.”

It is also a global concern, he noted.

“Part of the answer to the cyber threat is working through and with international forums of common interests, and developing a common approach with all nations,” he said.

Hagel acknowledged that while America’s conventional military edge “remains overwhelming and unrivalled, our nation is dangerously exposed to cyberspace attacks.”

The secretary repeated statements he made last week in congressional testimony: defense spending for cyber capabilities will remain a top priority.

“The president and I asked for an increase in our cyber capabilities in the 2014 budget that I presented at Congress the last two months,” Hagel said. “We will do this even as we pare back force structure in almost all other areas where the military has excess capacity measured against the real-world threats of today.”
Responding to an audience member’s question on cyber after his speech, the secretary cautioned would-be enemies that the nation isn’t defenseless in the cyber realm. “We have considerable deterrent ability [and] capability to deter any kind of attack on this country,” Hagel said.

It’s no secret that everything from ships to banks runs through the cyber domain, Hagel noted.
“You start knocking on infrastructure of a country, you don't need to fire a shot, [and] you paralyze a country,” he said. “You paralyze command and control of your military. You wipe out bank accounts.”
Even seemingly minor disruptions could have a serious affect, Hagel said. “I mean things maybe as mundane as all the traffic lights go out in big cities -- well, big deal. Well, [have you ever] been to New York City or Los Angeles when there's no traffic lights?”

Hagel said the whole question of cyber “leads to the change, the dramatic change in threats to our world and our way of life; and we have to be more agile in our military and everything we're doing to [manage] that.”
Hagel also discussed nuclear capabilities, noting much of his Nebraska visit would involve U.S. Strategic Command, which has its headquarters near Omaha. Stratcom’s mission includes maintaining a safe and effective nuclear deterrent.

Hagel noted yesterday that President Barack Obama announced the United States will pursue negotiated reductions with Russia of up to one-third of the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons allowed under the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

The secretary said he strongly supports those reductions, and added that three things will not change:
-- The United States will maintain a ready and credible deterrent;

-- It will retain a triad of bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and ballistic missile submarines; and

-- It will make sure that its nuclear weapons remain safe, secure, ready and effective.

Even in an era of declining resources, Hagel said, the United States has invested substantially in the nuclear enterprise.

“DOD will continue to make these investments in order to sustain our weapons and delivery systems and ensure that we retain the expert personnel,” he said.

Stratcom’s mission remains critical and relevant, Hagel added. “A safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent remains essential to our national security, and we will maintain that capability,” he said.

Reserve aerial spray unit swats 'skeeters' at JB Charleston

by Master Sgt. Bob Barko Jr.
910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/20/2013 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- "There must be thousands of 'em, millions of 'em. What are they doing?"

"It looks like they're preparing an invasion."

Even though this dialogue is from the 1996 science fiction blockbuster film, "Independence Day," it is an accurate description of the annual real-life assault from saltwater marsh mosquitoes on the people who work and live at Joint Base Charleston, S.C.

In 2012, Air Force Reserve Command's 910th Airlift Wing aerial spray unit from Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, deployed to Charleston in response to an emergency call to do battle with the disease-carrying pest insects inundating the joint base.

The spray mission was such a success that the pest management team at JB Charleston asked that the spray unit make the base a part of its annual rotation. This year, the 910th returned to the installation June 14-16, to continue the war on the pesky 'skeeters.'

Youngstown's 757th Airlift Squadron sprayed approximately 16,500 acres on Charleston. One area in particular, known as the spoils site, was a prime target for dispersing the mosquito control product.

"That area produces 40 million mosquitoes per acre," said Tony Mincey, JB Installation Pest Management coordinator. "It's a 30-acre site."

Charleston was in dire need of the 910th's one-of-a-kind pest control methods, according to Lt. Col. Frank Galati, mission commander for the Charleston operation.

"The pre-mission mosquito trap counts were as high as 880 (insects)," said . "We only need about 20 in the trap to go ahead with the aerial spraying, so they really needed it done."

Pest management teams check the mosquito traps a few days after each spray mission to gauge effectiveness.

"The trap counts really tell the tale of how effective the spraying was to knock down the target pests," said Mincey. He said the trap count went from 177 to 1 in the days following the spray mission.  "That is a massive improvement. So, we really appreciate what the 910th has done for us and we are already talking about them coming back next year."

Through Airmen's Eyes: Raising awareness for Lupus

by Lt. Col. Belinda Petersen
Air Reserve Personnel Center Public Affairs

6/19/2013 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Staff Sgt. Nicole Turley, client support technician from the Air Reserve Personnel Center, thought she had grown up with a family who all had healthy lives. It was not until Turley was an adult that she found out her aunt was diagnosed with Lupus.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood, and kidneys. Their research estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have Lupus and more than 16,000 new cases of Lupus are reported annually.

For reasons not known to Turley, her aunt kept it hidden from her family for years before it was revealed. "I had never heard of Lupus, so when I found out about my aunt's illness, I wanted to research everything I could about it," she said.

"Three things stood out to me," said Turley. "First, there is no cure. Secondly, there is a lot they do not know, so the Lupus Foundation of America was created as a non-profit organization where all the funds they receive go directly to research to find a cure for Lupus."

"Finally, certain ethnic groups have a greater risk of developing Lupus, which may be related to the genes they have in common," she said. "This resonated with me because my family is of Native American descent and enrolled with the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Michigan."

Turley immediately started donating to the Lupus Foundation of America, but she wanted to do more. "I believe sharing information about Lupus to fellow Airmen and their families will benefit them everywhere," said Turley. "Many people in the military probably know someone with Lupus or have been personally affected by Lupus."

That's why Turley organized "Nicole's Team" for an event called Walk to End Lupus Now held in Denver. For the past two years, Nicole's Team participated in this family-friendly, non-competitive 5K walk that not only raised funds, but also raised awareness.

"The most awe-inspiring was when they had people talking on the stage about Lupus," said Turley. "The speaker asked how many people in the audience have been diagnosed with Lupus in the past 5, 10, 20 and 30 years. Seeing all these different people around me with their hands raised was just beyond words."

Another benefit of participating in an event like Walk to End Lupus Now is the chance to meet other people and rally together to support one another. More than 1,200 people participated. "I spoke with a woman from the Buckley AFB classifieds group on Facebook whose mom died of Lupus and she also had been recently diagnosed with Lupus," she said. "It was great to have her walk with my team."

Turley was happy to find out that her team raised $349 more than the previous year. "Nicole's Team made $865 during this year's event held in Denver on June 2nd, which is amazing to me," she said.

While there is not a cure for Lupus, Turley's leadership by raising awareness and money may one day contribute to ending Lupus for everyone, including her aunt. One thing is for sure; you will see Nicole's Team again next year in Denver for the Walk to End Lupus Now.

Labor Department Website Features Women Vets’ Issues

From a Department of Labor News Release

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2013 – Labor Department officials have launched a new website devoted to issues and challenges affecting women veterans.

The site is a collaborative effort between the Labor Department and the Veterans’ Employment Training Service and the Women’s Bureau.

The site highlights potential challenges that may affect the economic security of women veterans, including:

-- Disability: Women veterans are more likely than their male peers to have a significant service related disability. Thirty-five percent of women veterans have a disability rating of 50 percent or higher as compared with 26 percent of male veterans.

-- Marital: Women veterans are nearly twice as likely to be divorced as male veterans -- 18 percent vs. 10 percent.

-- Single parents: Eleven percent of women veterans are raising children alone, compared to 4 percent of male veterans. While veterans overall have higher median earnings than nonveterans, women veterans still tend to earn nearly $6,000 less annually than their male veteran counterparts.

The site also contains links with information on employment opportunities, education and health care options and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other government agencies.

Love, service, sacrifice define servicewoman's career

by Senior Airman Aubrey White
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

6/20/2013 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Imagine an Airman who disarms explosive devices for a living, rides a Harley Davidson for fun and has tattoos all over, illustrating stories of love, pain and triumph.

Now imagine this Airman with long blonde hair; an explosive ordnance disposal technician; a servicewoman.

She is Staff Sgt. Kimberly Pate, 4th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal NCO in charge of operations, who was recently named North Carolina Servicewoman of the Year by the American Legion Auxiliary Past Presidents Parley in Raleigh, N.C.

To be considered for the award, Pate submitted a 750-word narrative about why she supports the role of women in today's military. She was chosen to represent North Carolina servicewomen at the auxiliary's state convention and is invited to attend the national convention in August in San Antonio, Texas, where she will compete against 49 other nominees for the National Servicewoman title.

"Women have made many strides over the years and proven themselves capable to achieve things that others have seen as 'not fit for them,'" Pate wrote in her essay. "I fully support people following their dreams and shooting as high as they can. If a woman wants to fly a jet, provide medical attention in the field, fight on the front lines or disarm improvised explosive devices, I say go for it."

As a woman in the military, she's glad to be able to fulfill the mission and inspire young girls to do and be whatever they choose; setting a positive example for young females like her step-daughter means more to Pate than any accolade.

"My daughter, Brianna Pate, 13, thinks I could lift a car with one hand and take on the world with the other; she thinks I'm absolutely awesome," Pate said. "For her to know she can do anything she wants to do and being a girl doesn't count her out, is rewarding (for me). There's nothing that limits her."

Although she appreciates recognition for her accomplishments in the military, Pate finds most satisfaction in being afforded the opportunity to serve her nation.

Pate joined the Air Force because she wanted to travel the world and give back to her country.

"After attending college for a while but not being sure of what exactly I wanted to do with my life, I finally went to talk to an Air Force recruiter," Pate said. "He asked me if I wanted to play with robots and blow stuff up for a living, so I said 'sign me up.'"

That visit to the recruiter's office marked the beginning of Pate's nearly 10-year career in EOD.

After waiting months for a position to open up in the career field, she was off to Air Force basic military training, then EOD technical training shortly thereafter.

Greatly outnumbered by men during technical training, Pate felt she needed to prove herself to become part of the EOD family. She did, and graduated at the top of her class.

When asked about the many triumphs throughout her career, Pate attributes them to the support she's received from the EOD technicians she's worked with in addition to her family.

"(EOD) is very much a family. No one can really understand it until they're a part of it. Regardless of branch of service, if you see our occupational badge on someone, you instantly know them; you would back them in anything and give them the shirt off of your back." Pate said. "My teammates can understand more in a silent conversation than anyone else can (after) days of talking. Anytime I feel like I need to get something out or relate to someone, these guys are who I look to."

With high deployment tempos and the daily dangers EOD technicians face, Pate had to learn to balance work, emotions and home life for her safety and the welfare of those around her.

"We're trained really well to get in 'go mode,'" she explained. "You set emotions and everything up on a little shelf in a box. You have a job to do so that's what you're going to do. You might realize an hour after you're done with a call something might have happened, but at the time of an emergency you're going step by step through threat analysis."

Although placing sentiments aside in times of crisis is a common practice for the EOD community, Pate never forgets that what she and her teammates do for their nation often end with the ultimate sacrifice.

"The longer you've been in this career field, the more people you know that go up on the (EOD memorial wall)," she said. "It's always in the back of your mind that there's a possibility you could end up on that wall, but it's such an honor to go out doing what you love and saving other people's lives. We want to be the ones to keep everyone else safe."

She knows all too well how costly the price of freedom is.

In 2011, Pate's husband, U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. EJ Pate, former EOD technician, was killed by an improvised explosive device while serving in Afghanistan. This tragic event was a turning point in Pate's career that led her to continue striving for greatness.

"About a month from coming home on my second deployment was when I was notified of my husband's death," she explained with pain in her eyes and a quivery voice.

The Pates were both deployed at the same time; she to Southwest Asia and he to Afghanistan. Her husband recently returned from a week-long mission and emailed her just to say he was back, safe and would call in the morning. A couple hours later, he woke up to tell her he couldn't sleep and wanted to let her know he was thinking about her and loved her. The entire next day, Pate just had a feeling she was going to get a phone call, whether it'd be from her husband or his unit.

She had the day off and decided to see a movie with some of her teammates and emailed her husband before heading off. During the movie, she received the call that changed her life.

Thoughts raced through Pate's mind as she tried to figure out a purpose for the call. Her mind drew a blank until she saw her new commander, his eyes blood-shot and swollen. At that point she knew.

"I dropped everything in my hands, stumbled back into the desk (and asked) 'what happened to my husband?'" Pate said.

They didn't answer.

"I knew at that point something horrible was wrong. They wouldn't talk; they just shook their heads, looked down and said 'I'm sorry.'" Pate said. "I remember screaming, yelling, asking them what happened; 'just tell me he's breathing, he got hurt. Do I need to go to Germany; do I need to meet him somewhere, is he okay?'"

Although she doesn't remember much of the conversation, she does remember they finally calmed her down and she fell to the floor, curled up sobbing and cried so hard she felt sick.

Her husband's unit notified her of the incident as early as possible, at the time they weren't sure if he was alive or not. According to Pate, his unit did everything they could to save her husband.

"I drove straight out to the flightline, ran up on the back of a C-130 with a backpack and headed to Germany because his body was not going to move without me. I was on the (flight that brought him home) and escorted him throughout the whole funeral."

In the time since her husband's death, Pate has tried to keep his memory alive, honor him and continue his work.

In order to commemorate her late husband, Pate submitted photos of her and her husband's matching tattoos and the story behind each piece of art for an EOD service member tattoo book.

"The bomb on the wrist was a matching tattoo EJ and I got because we didn't want the standard (EOD occupational badge) tattoo, but we wanted something to represent our job," she wrote in the book. "The bleeding heart, (with the script) 'Tantum Quondam,' is because everything in life is only once. You only live once, truly love once and die once ... EJ was my one true love and now he is gone."

If asked, Pate would say although life has brought her trials and tribulations, she finds solace in knowing what she does helps protect and defend her nation and its people.

After this tragic event, Pate was given the opportunity to step away from the EOD career field and move on with her life but instead chose to stay and "finish the job."

"I tell my kids all the time their dad died doing something with a purpose. I am extremely proud of what he did," Pate said. "We do our job; we do everything we can. Anyone in our position would do the same thing."

While her husband's death has altered her life and career, it doesn't define her as a person. She is an EOD technician, a woman in the military who said she is proud to be a wife, mother and servicewoman.

F-35 is backbone of Air Force's future fighter fleet, Welsh says

by Master Sgt. Angelita Colón-Francia
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

6/20/2013 - WASHINGTON, D.C. (AFNS) -- The Air Force's most advanced strike aircraft, the F-35 Lightning II, is a vital capability that the nation needs to stay ahead of adversary technological gains, the Air Force chief of staff told a Senate panel here, June 19.

Testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Defense, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said air superiority is critical to the nation's security and how the U.S. military plans to fight.

"The air superiority this nation has enjoyed for 60 years is not an accident and gaining and maintaining it is not easy," Welsh said. "It requires trained proficient and ready Airmen and it requires credible, capable and technologically superior aircraft. I believe the F-35 is essential to ensuring we can provide that air superiority in the future."

The F-35 is an unprecedented fifth generation fighter combining stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, fully integrated sensors and network enabled operations, and state-of-the-art avionics. However, design issues and production costs have put the F-35 program in real jeopardy.

Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall told the committee he believe those concerns have been addressed.

"The department's and my focus has been on the efforts to control costs on the program, and to achieve a more stable design so that we could increase the production rate to more economical quantities," Kendall testified. "Indications at this time are that these efforts are succeeding."

The Air Force intends to use a portion of the proposed fiscal 2014 budget to support current defense strategic guidance and modernization programs like the F-35.

"Potential adversaries are acquiring fighters on par with or better than our legacy fourth generation fleet," Welsh told the committee. "They're developing sophisticated early warning radar systems and employing better surface to air missile systems, and this at a time when our fighter fleet numbers about 2,000 aircraft and averages a little over 23 years of age -- the smallest and the oldest in the Air Force's history."

Welsh said America needs the F-35 to stay a step ahead and to "make sure the future fight is an away game and to minimize our risk to our ground forces when conflict inevitably does occur."

"The F-35 is the only real, viable option to form the backbone of our future fighter fleet," he said. "The F-35 remains the best platform to address the proliferation of highly capable integrated air defenses and new air-to-air threats."

Most Complex Bold Quest Yet Focuses on ‘Friend or Foe’ ID

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2013 – Representatives from every U.S. military service and 10 other nations are wrapping up the final days of a coalition capability demonstration designed to increase combat effectiveness and interoperability while minimizing the risk of fratricide.

Bold Quest 13-1, which officially kicked off June 10 and concludes tomorrow, includes more than 1,300 participants from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, as well as Germany, France, Italy and Norway, John Miller, joint operational manager for the exercise, told reporters today. In addition, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom have sent observers.
About half of the participants are at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., Miller explained during a teleconference from the exercise hub. Another roughly 700 service members are participating from bases along the U.S. East Coast and as far west as Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.
Bold Quest 13-1 is the 11th in the Bold Quest series, created in 2003 to provide realistic conditions for the services and international partners to test their combat identification systems and the techniques and procedures they use to engage them, Miller explained.

“That is really the essence of the whole effort: to create this complex operational environment that requires more than any one individual [entity] could do on their own,” he said.

During 10 days of exercises and data collection, participants are putting to the test not only their different technologies, but also their tactics, techniques and procedures to ensure they’re interoperable.

The premise, Miller explained, is that coalition members that operate together need to develop and test their capabilities together before they employ them in combat.

“Our assumption is that the user is going to use these systems in a coalition fight, which involves the U.S. services and [coalition] nations,” he said, “so demonstrating that interoperability is key.”

During Bold Quest, every service and participating nation brings its own technologies and objectives to the exercise. Bold Quest 13-1, for example, represents the first time the United States is using the demonstration to assess how new “identification friend or foe,” or IFF, systems developed independently by the services work in a joint and combined environment.

Historically, Bold Quest has focused on ground-to-ground and air-to-ground initiatives, Miller said.
“The initiative brought to Bold Quest reflected current operations,” he said, particularly real-world requirements in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bold Quest 13-1 represents a new step in the exercise’s 10-year evolution. Focused for the first time on the air-to-air and surface-to-air combat domains, it is helping to address gaps that could impact future operations, Miller said.

Eighteen months in the planning, Bold Quest 13-1 is the most ambitious every conducted. “There has been no event in our series history more complex than this one,” Miller said.

That’s largely because the entire exercise is live. With no virtual or simulation play, it is relying on ground assets, aircraft and, for the first time, two Navy ships to gather and share combat identification information. U.S Fleet Forces, recognizing the importance of the takeaways, is contributing USS Jason Dunham, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and USS San Jacinto, a Ticonderoga-class Aegis cruiser, to the exercise, Miller said.

After 10 days of intensive flights and data-collection efforts to conclude tomorrow, evaluators will provided a detailed quantitative assessment.

The results could have an immediate impact on warfighters. For example, a new combat identification server demonstrated during Bold Quest 11 proved so effective that it was deployed to Afghanistan within months of the demonstration. The system collects and maintains the locations of U.S. and coalition forces in a single server that aircrews can access as they provide close-air support.

With the benefits of Bold Quest 13-1 yet to be fully determined, Miller said, the demonstration has had a tremendous training benefit for the participants.

“Bold Quest is not designed as a training exercise,” he emphasized. “But because we set the conditions to be as operationally representative as we can, there is a natural opportunity [for participants] to actually train to do the things they would normally do in their warfighting mission.” It’s an opportunity, he noted, that many have not had in some time because of pressing operational demands and, more recently, budgetary constraints.

The pace of Bold Quest demonstrations is picking up, with the next one slated for September at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in Indiana. Two more demonstrations are scheduled for the early months of fiscal year 2014.

Miller said enthusiasm for the exercise, particularly during a period of tough budget choices, reflects the effectiveness of Bold Quest in proving out technologies that will directly warfighting operations.
“This is about as good as it gets when you have participants here, working together as well as they are, committed to doing what they are doing and overcoming all the challenges,” he said.

CMSAF visits Shaw, conveys top priorities to Airmen

by Airman 1st Class Krystal M. Jeffers
20th Fighter Wing

6/19/2013 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody visited the men and women of 9th Air Force, Air Forces Central, the 20th Fighter Wing and tenant units of Team Shaw to get an update on the mission and dynamics of each unit while conveying his top priorities here June 17.

While at Shaw, Cody held an Airmen's call where more than 2,500 men and women from an array of units here were able to hear him discuss his main focus areas. Cody made the Airmen's call interactive by opening the floor to those in attendance, giving attendees the opportunity to ask questions.

Cody discussed his key focus areas : the deliberate development of Airmen; caring for Airmen and their families; and balancing Airmen's time. The CMSAF also made a point of speaking about sexual assault within the military.

"First and foremost we have to accept the fact that we have a problem," said Cody. "It is sometimes hard for people to do that because, if you haven't been personally touched by it, it is very easy to sit back and say we don't really have this problem. The fact is that we do have this problem and it is a big problem. It is impacting our Air Force, the Airmen and their families. We all have to accept the fact that we have a problem and we are all part of the solution. Those people who don't accept that fact are part of the problem."

"We have to fundamentally look at each other in different ways than we have been," he added. "The foundation for that is how we treat each other - that is with dignity and respect. We have an environment of trust - all of us: peer-to-peer, the reporting chain, and the chain of command. That takes a lot of work and that is what we are committed on doing."

Some of the other topics discussed included the proposed nominative selection process for recruiters, military training instructors, first sergeants, and other special duties that have broad impact on the creation, development and care of Airmen, and the future of the abdominal circumference measurement component of the Air Force's physical fitness assessment. Many Airmen were interested in the latter.

"I was really excited about the whole event," said Senior Airman Federico Devera, Air Forces Central knowledge operations manager. "It was very informative. He addressed some big Air Force topics and issues really important to us."

Cody started the discussion with a fact: The vast majority of people who fail the fitness assessment fail not because of the run, push-ups or AC, but sit-ups.

"Over the last three years we have administered the test more than a million times," said Cody. "Obviously, some of those people failed and had to re-test. Out of all the tests, 348 people passed every other component but failed AC. Of the 348, only 76 have been separated because they have been unable to subsequently pass the AC. There are a lot of people have done some pretty extreme things to get their waist measurement within standards who are not represented in the numbers."

"You have to understand that if we walk away from the AC we would have to go back to the BMI standards." Cody continued. "Department of Defense policy requires all services to do BMI. The Air Force has the only exception to that policy because we use the AC. We are going to do either AC or BMI. We may adjust the standards. We may add a provision where if someone passes all the components but fails the AC then we might go back and look at their BMI to see if they pass it and meet DOD standards. We will probably make a decision in the next couple of weeks."

In addition to holding an enlisted call for members of the 20th Fighter Wing, Cody also had lunch with members of Team Shaw and visited 9th Air Force, 28th Operations Weather Squadron and 20th Fighter Wing Airmen at their work centers. He also visited men and women at Airmen Leadership School.

"I thought it was very neat," said Staff Sgt. Michael Carney, 28th OWS weather forecaster. "He came over to the 28th OWS where we work because a lot of us wouldn't be able to leave (for the Airmen's call). You could tell that he cares about everybody. He took the time to shake everyone's hand and let them know that he actually cares about the people in his Air Force. To me, that meant a lot."

While Cody discussed his key focus areas, he also took time to recognize some of Team Shaw's top performing enlisted members. The chief visited with the Airmen and presented them with his CMSAF coin for their superior performance.

"It was definitely an honor to be coined by the CMSAF," said Airman 1st Class Nicole Sikorski, 20th Fighter Wing public affairs. "It feels good to be recognized at that level and to know that the hard work at the Airmen's (E-1 through E-4) level plays a key role in the Air Force's mission."

As Cody travels to different units speaking to Airmen and recognizing their hard work, he encourages questions which he answers as fully as possible.

"The men and women of Team Shaw received a great perspective from Chief Cody on what he termed 'family business,'" said Chief Master Sgt. James Davis, 9th Air Force command chief. "He discussed having an effective work-life balance, the effects of sequestration, deliberate development, and he placed emphasis on the most important topic of the day, sexual assault against fellow Airmen. There were many other topics discussed as he was candid and transparent on the future of our Air Force. Our Airmen appreciated him allowing them to express their perspective of how they see the Air Force from where they sit and stand on a daily basis."

"Overall the visit was very successful, because we needed to hear what our senior leaders are thinking and ask questions about issues that we don't understand; we were able to do that," Davis concluded.

Hagel: Stratcom Will Continue Key Defense Role

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2013 – A day after President Barack Obama proposed deeper cuts in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told service members at U.S. Strategic Command that nuclear deterrence has kept the peace for nearly 70 years and that Stratcom will continue to play an important role in national security policy.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel walks with Air Force Gen. C. Robert "Bob" Kehler, second from right, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, Navy Vice Adm. Tim Giardina, the command's deputy commander, and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick Z. Alston, the command's senior enlisted leader, on Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., June 20, 2013. Hagel met with senior leaders, received command briefings, and visited with troops and civilians to thank them for their service. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“This institution is at the center of that responsibility,” Hagel told Stratcom employees after being introduced at its headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., by Stratcom Commander Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler. “Nuclear deterrence has kept world peace since World War II.”

U.S. Strategic Command and its elements are charged with overseeing the nation’s strategic nuclear deterrence as well as responding to space-based challenges and cyber threats. But even amid the “different times and new threats” facing the nation, Hagel said, Stratcom will continue to remain central to America’s defense. “Strategic Command probably has as much responsibility for those changes as far as threats, cyber, weapons of mass destruction, space, all elements that are literally part of this universe,” he noted.
The president called on Russia yesterday to negotiate new cuts in both countries’ deployed strategic nuclear weapons, beyond those agreed to in the 2010 New START Treaty.

“I note the president’s speech on our nuclear posture,” Hagel said at Stratcom today, “because it brings home in a very real way your assignment and responsibilities. Stratcom will remain a foundational piece of our national security for a long time.”

Yesterday, in remarks that followed the president’s, Hagel told an audience at the University of Nebraska the proposed cuts would still allow the United States to deter aggression as well as maintain the nation’s longstanding triad of nuclear-armed bombers, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear-armed submarines.

Pittsburgh 8-day inspection a unit record

by Capt. Shawn M. Walleck
911th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/19/2013 - PITTSBURGH IAP ARS -- The 911th Maintenance Group here set a new record and personal best with an eight-day fly to fly, May 31 to June 7, 2013.

The C-130 left the hangar June 7 and was flown on a local mission and returned with zero discrepancies.

According to Tech. Sgt. Michael Wolfe, 911th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, it is all about the preparation that goes into the process before the aircraft enters the hangar.

"Scheduling, coordinating and lining up all the jobs are key components to the process, says Wolfe. "There's also a lot of hard work and late nights for these guys, but turning an aircraft around in only eight days make it all worthwhile. Our best to this point was 10 days," he said.

"Our goal here is to consistently get an aircraft through the ISO process within seven to 10 days, and then back in the air with zero discrepancies," said Wolfe.

50 SCS, Schriever celebrates Airman's life

by Staff Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

6/19/2013 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- A video montage was shown two minutes before the ceremony began.  Photos of a man during Basic Military Training, at a family member's wedding, in a foreign country and more. Some showed him with his mother, his father, his sisters and many with his friends and co-workers.  Then a slide with just the inscription, "10 Dec. 1975 - 3 June 2013".

The main fitness center gymnasium was almost full. Men and women wearing service dress and others in airman battle uniforms gathered to recognize one of Schriever's own. Co-workers, friends and strangers attended the event. Regardless of their familiarity, everyone seemed to be struggling; losing someone is tough.

The ceremony began June 14. It was a memorial service for Tech. Sgt. Edward Weber, an American Airman, a leader, a friend, a coworker, a brother and a son. Weber died in a motorcycle crash June 3 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"The day before the accident, I ran into Sergeant Weber three times," said Lt. Col. Lynn Plunkett, 50 SCS commander, during the service. "I said jokingly, 'Sergeant Weber, are you stalking me?' He said, 'No, ma'am, I am just out and about all the time.'"

Plunkett continued and talked about Weber's leadership style and work ethic as well as his love for the Air Force.

"Sergeant Weber was a model Airman," she said. "You heard a lot of stories about him today, his accolades, his leadership style, how he mentored his Airmen and his technical expertise. He lived by the Air Force core values."

Weber was the guy who made it happen, Plunkett said.

"He wasn't just the guy who made sure he got face time," she narrated. "He was the guy who just wanted to take care of his folks and get the mission done."

Plunkett also recounted the day of the accident and of learning that one of her worst nightmares as a commander had come true.

"For all commanders, they never want to lose an Airman," she said. "I am also an Airman, I am a friend, I am a supervisor, I am a subordinate, I am a mother and I am a sister. I feel for each of you today."

During the ceremony, friends and coworkers relayed stories about their experiences with Weber as well as his professionalism and how he was when he was out of uniform.

"The biggest things I valued [of Sergeant Weber] were the small things," said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Riascos, 50 SCS. "We would just crack jokes and bond with each other, making the time pass and making everybody laugh. He always had a great attitude. His selflessness to the mission and his attitude were contagious."

Staff Sgt. James Baker, 50 SCS, recounted Weber's love for riding and how they rode even during the cold weather.

"Through all the steak, beer, bikes, sports and ammo, Ed was one of the most genuine people I've known and the first person I would ride anywhere in this world with," Baker said. "Riding is a way of life and my life will never be the same. But those who knew Ed know he would tell you to keep on riding for him and never ride a motorcycle with a backrest. Rest in peace, buddy."

Master Sgt. Kevin Sargent, 50th Space Wing, said people generally thought of Weber as quiet and reserved.

"Behind this exterior was an individual with great talent and passion," Sargent said. "[Weber] was an avid motorcycle rider, incredibly intelligent, athletic, and caring and so many other things. He was also very close to his family, friends and coworkers. A lot of people care about him."

Throughout the ordeal, Plunkett found a higher respect for the men and women of the 50 SCS.

"To Sergeant Weber's family, thank you for being here, thank you for your son, thank you for his service, for making us part of your family for the past [few] weeks," Plunkett said. "To the men and women of 50 SCS, thank you for the Airmen that you are and for what you do every day for our mission and each other...Keep it up. We got this and we will make it through this and be stronger for it."

The people began to disperse from the gym as the montage of Weber's photos played one last time. Then the bugler played the last note of the taps, signifying the end of the ceremony.

Just like his life, the montage can't be extended with future photos of Weber anymore. His smiles can't be seen, his laughter and voice can't be heard and new memories with him can't be made; he can now only be remembered.

New senior leadership takes charge of 33rd Fighter Wing

by Chrissy Cuttita
Team Eglin Public Affairs

6/20/2013 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Another career fighter pilot took the helm of the 33rd Fighter Wing June 14 in an official ceremony attended by Team Eglin, their family and community.

Col. Todd Canterbury formally accepted the role when he received the wing guidon from Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., commander, Air Education and Training Command, Randolph AFB, Texas. Col. Andrew Toth served as the 33rd FW commander from March 31, 2011 until he passed the colors to Canterbury at the ceremony.

The new leader of the F-35 Lightning II Integrated Training Center has held assignments as an Air Force Weapons School Instructor, Air Force Thunderbird demonstration pilot, director of operations, fighter squadron commander, and vice wing commander. Canterbury is a command pilot with more than 3,900 hours in the F-35A, F-15E, F-16 and MC-12W aircraft, including 650 combat hours. Prior to arriving here, he served as the as executive officer for the Deputy Commander United States Forces Korea, United Nations Command, Seoul, South Korea.

"It's very exciting to join the F-35 team and continue the success here," Canterbury said during the ceremony. "I can think of no better place to be than right here at the forefront of the F-35 training program developing our next generation of F-35 pilots and maintainers."

Toth remembered fondly how far the wing "Nomads" and the F-35 Integrated Training Center team have come since he arrived just a few months before they their first joint strike fighter was delivered in the summer 2011. The 2012 "year of execution" began with standing up the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron-501 and Air Force flying operations. It ended with an AETC "ready to train" which allowed the wing to begin its first official F-35 pilot courses in 2013.

"Your steady, constant performance will get the system where it needs to be," he said addressing the wing's three groups one last time. "The strategic impact of the maintenance group to get jets flying cannot be measured. As unsung heroes, the Academic Training center understood the focus on the aircraft but plowed forward to get simulators and learning systems ready before 700 students showed up last year."

Leadership acknowledged the skill, determination and talent brought to the F-35 program from the wing. Their work in meeting daily challenges has visibility in the defense, political and international circle.

"Under the wing's outstanding leadership, the men and women here executed their responsibilities in today's highly dynamic environment and helped shape the future so our military and nation remain strong today and tomorrow," said Rice. "Skillfully training 50 pilots and 722 maintainers from three branches of service and our international partners is a significant accomplishment."

While Canterbury serves as commander, the wing will go from a phase of standing up the Department of Defense's home for F-35 training to becoming operationally ready for the combat air forces.

"The path that you set right now will be walked by future generations of Airmen, Sailors, Marines and coalition partners around the globe," said the new wing commander. "Now is our time to perfect our tradecraft as professional warriors and are setting the foundation for the next 50 years of F-35 operations."

Approximately 1,900 members from the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Lockheed Martin Corp., Pratt and Whitney, other contractors and international partners make up the team behind the training wing for the three F-35 variants, organized under Air Education and Training Command.

Nomads not only said their farewells to Colonel Toth, but later that afternoon celebrated their vice commander's retirement. Marine Col. Art Tomassetti, a 15-year veteran of the F-35 program, has been at Eglin since the wing stood up under AETC in 2009. His replacement, Navy Capt. Paul Haas, arrives just in time to see the Navy squadron he once commanded receive their first carrier variants of the joint strike fighter.