Military News

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Face of Defense: Researchers Develop Better Mountain Combat Boot

By Bob Reinert
U.S. Army Garrison Natick
NATICK, Mass., June 21, 2013 – What it all comes down to is keeping soldiers' minds on their missions in Afghanistan, rather than on their feet.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Ben Cooper, left, and Bob Hall have been working on the development of phase two of the Hot Weather Mountain Combat Boot at the U.S. Army's Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts. Courtesy photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
That's how Ben Cooper views the development of the Hot Weather Mountain Combat Boot, at the U.S. Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center here.

Development of the new boot began in early 2011, and Cooper thought it was so important that he got permission to continue working on the boot after leaving the Footwear Performance Laboratory to become a senior materials engineer for the Air Force, still located at Natick.

"Ben was so involved in the early phases of this and had been really running this project superbly, I thought that it was a good idea that he was able to continue on this project," said Bob Hall, the current Army footwear engineer for the boot.

"Obviously, in these fiscal times, being able to join together and work toward a common goal for the warfighter and for our country, I think, is the most important thing," Cooper said. "My supervisors have been very supportive about me taking time to help out and support the Army with this effort, and we're all happy to do it.

"The Air Force has been a team player in this," he continued. "It's a sister service -- one team, one fight."
Cooper and Hall are working with Program Executive Office Soldier and Product Manager Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment to unveil phase two of the boot. Phase one -- a lighter, more breathable version of the popular Mountain Combat Boot -- has been issued to every soldier deploying to Afghanistan for the past year. As many as 200,000 pairs of the boots have been fielded with great success.

"[For] the amount of boots that are out there, we've had very, very few complaints," Hall said.

"Soldiers will give you honest feedback," Cooper said. "We haven't heard bad things. In this business, silence is a great thing."

Cooper pointed out that nothing like the HWMCB existed before soldiers in Afghanistan began asking for it two years ago.

"We were trying to develop and identify the salient characteristics of a Hot Weather Mountain Combat Boot," Cooper said. "Since it was a new item, it's not commercially available. We evaluated three different material solutions at that time from three different manufacturers."

Using soldier feedback from phase one, which included requests for more breathability, Cooper and Hall confidently strode into phase two.

"We cherry-picked the very best features on each of the boots, and we provided that feedback to industry," Cooper said. "They responded and provided new solutions, updated solutions."

Three new styles are now being evaluated at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., by units from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, based at Fort Carson, Colo. Each boot is nearly a half-pound lighter than the original mountain boot.

"Due to Afghanistan's unique climate and environment, they needed a boot that not only would provide them ankle stability and traction and durability, but they also needed greater breathability," Cooper said. "It's a balancing act. We were constantly walking that fine line. I think that we have worked with industry tirelessly on trying to make sure that we accomplish exactly what the warfighter wants and needs."

Industry made the boots more breathable by including moisture-wicking linings, perforating the leather, and inserting textiles wherever possible between the leather and rubber, without compromising stability.

"It took some creative approaches to be able to do that," Cooper said. "If you're kicking rocks, and you're crawling, and you're in the prone position, you need to be able to not have this thing rip."

Cooper will travel to Fort Irwin at the end of June with Chris King, of the Operational Forces Interface Group at Natick, to collect data from soldiers on the 285 pairs of boots that had been issued to them.
"We're going to go meet them as soon as they get out of the box at NTC," Cooper said. "I think the phase one boots were fairly well received. We would expect to find more positive feedback. We're hopeful that we're going in the right direction."

The goal is a technical specification for a boot that could be supplied by any manufacturer. When it's achieved, it will be because of the collaborative atmosphere at Natick, Cooper said.

"I can walk down the hall and speak with the foremost expert in [fire-resistant] clothing and apparel," he said. "I can walk down the other end of the hall and talk to the foremost expert in cold-weather equipment, in mountaineering gear, in footwear.

"I think that's just part of the culture that is here, and I'm proud to be a part of that," Cooper continued. "We were able to leverage all the resources that we have available to us."

F-15 Eagle, 'right aircraft for the mission,' touches down in Fresno

by 1st Lt. Jason Sweeney
California National Guard


6/20/2013 - FRESNO, Calif. -- The roar of two fighter jets flying over Fresno marked the beginning of a new era June 18.

The jets made a pass over a crowd of National Guard members and civilians who had assembled in front of the 144th Fighter Wing's maintenance hangar on the Fresno Air National Guard Base. One of the jets was a single-engine F-16C Fighting Falcon. Flying beside it was a larger, dual-engine F-15 Eagle - the first of 21 slated to arrive from Montana.

The F-15s are replacing the 144th Fighter Wing's F-16s, which have been flying a homeland defense mission out of Fresno since 1989. As the F-15s arrive, the F-16s will depart for Arizona, where they will be used for training.

"We're going to miss the F-16. There's not a fighter that we've had nearly as long," 144th Fighter Wing antiterrorism officer Lt. Col. Dave Johnston said. "But the arrival of the F-15 means we have the right aircraft for the mission. From a capabilities standpoint, it's much better suited for the role. It's big. It's got a lot of power. Its radar is exponentially better. It can do things the F-16 can't."

The 144th Fighter Wing's mission is to provide air defense for the West Coast of the United States as well as air superiority in support of worldwide operations.

When the wing first arrived in Fresno in 1954, it flew P-51 Mustangs. The F-15 is the eighth type of fighter flown by the wing.

"The F-16 has been a pleasure to fly," said Lt. Col. Ron Schrieber, who flew F-16s for the wing for nearly 10 years. "But the F-15 represents a step forward in our capability."

"It's got tremendous power, great maneuverability and incredible firepower," added pilot Lt. Col. Rob Swertfager.

The pilot who flew the F-15 over the crowd June 18, Maj. Jon Burd, taxied in front of the maintenance hangar and parked it next to an F-16 and a P-51. He then shut down the F-15's engines and opened the cockpit canopy to cheers from the crowd.

"It's been a long time coming," he said of the F-15's arrival. "It's a beautiful day. It couldn't have been more perfect."

The future of the 144th Fighter Wing in Fresno had been uncertain until recently. The Fresno base had been considered for closure, but with the F-15 projected to be a viable air defense asset through 2025, the wing's mission in Fresno appears secure for the foreseeable future.

The wing's transition to the F-15 has been years in the making. The wing's pilots and mechanics have been training on the new airframe and have been gearing up to make the switch after more than two decades of working with F-16s.

Chief Master Sgt. Cameron Williams, a maintenance superintendent, said the crew chiefs who maintain the aircraft are upbeat and excited about the transition.

"It's a new aircraft to learn, a new system," he said. "It's time to shake things up a bit."

Senior Airman Raymon Figuerora, a crew chief who has been working on F-16s since joining the wing in 2008, said he looks forward to working on the new fighters.

"Some people work on one aircraft their whole career, but now I can say I've worked on two," he said. "The F-15 is a bigger aircraft, a lot more work, but that's not a bad thing. You have more of a challenge and you've got to push yourself to meet more goals."

In remarks to the crowd, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearingen said the city is fortunate to have the wing based there. The wing brings jobs to the community and provides a substantial and positive impact on the local economy, she said.

"This is a day we have all been waiting for, and it is long overdue," Swearingen said. "Congratulations, 144th Fighter Wing. We are proud of you."

Wing Commander Col. Clay Garrison also addressed the crowd, beaming with excitement at the arrival of the F-15.

"Behind me is over 70 years of American combat power," he said, referring to the F-15, F-16 and P-51. "Men and women of the 144th Fighter Wing, I give you your future - the F-15."

Positive Attitude Necessary for Survival Training

by Senior Airman Mary Thach
Nebraska National Guard


6/20/2013 - LINCOLN, Neb. -- Thunder showers, lightning warnings and thick humidity did not stop members of the 155th Air Refueling Wing from proving they had the ability to survive and operate in a hostile environment during an ATSO exercise held June 10-12, at the Nebraska National Guard air base in Lincoln, Neb.

More than 300 Airmen from the 155th ARW simulated a deployment to Southwest Asia to practice their war skills and ability to remain fully functional during confusing and disorienting scenarios. An additional 40 to 50 155th ARW senior personnel participated as an exercise evaluation team (EET) to observe and assist the "deployed" members.

Col. Keith Schell, 155th ARW commander and leader of the simulated "155th Air Expeditionary Wing" at the air base, said the exercise was designed to test the unit's ability to conduct chemical defense and defend against ground attacks.

"One of the biggest things we are going to do is practice our ATSO skills, which is our ability to survive and operate," said Schell. "Based on the simulated attacks, you'll see us dressing out in multiple levels of (chemical gear)."

The scenarios simulated chemical attacks - requiring full mission oriented protective posture gear to include the M-50 gas mask - and ground attacks from snipers, hostile individuals and groups. The goal of the exercise was to practice reacting to unpredictable enemy actions.

Schell said he had four goals he wanted to accomplish during the exercise.

He said his number one concern was safety, because the Nebraska Air Guard does not wear MOPP (Mission Oriented Protective Posture) gear on a regular basis and with high humidity and heat, heat illness was a concern. The second goal was to learn.

"I know we have a lot of experts on EET. We have a lot of new people, too. So, I want them to come in with an open mind and think," said Schell. "Bring all of that stuff you remember from past experiences, even though this is home station, because it is different than a deployed exercise. A lot of things we are doing here, we've done before. Now we have to think how we do it locally."

Schell emphasized how important it was for those who have gone through these exercises before to take inexperienced Airmen under their wings.

"I want people to go into it as mentors," said Schell. "There are a lot of new people, so the people that have been through this, they need to be mentors to everybody else ... If people aren't doing things right, we need to point that out."

Schell said the final goal was using the buddy system and communication.

"We have to rely on each other to make sure we do it correct," said Schell. "Our buddies have to be there. The first person we should be talking to is our buddy. You check your buddy and he checks you as well."

Schell offered advice to all ATSO players, new and experienced.

"Be open to advice," said Schell. "This is a training opportunity. If you have individuals who have not been through this, they can monitor or watch part of it. Be mentors to them."

During the exercise, heat and lightning warnings were minor setbacks, but the 155th ARW was prepared.

"We knew it was going to be hot. We used the work-rest cycles," Schell said. "You have to be more keenly aware of your partner, because with heat, it can sneak up on you. Heat exhaustion, heat stroke, those are a couple big points."

In line with the heat index, Airmen worked outside for 20 minutes and then came inside to cool off. Schell cautioned his Airmen to be aware of how work-rest cycles are going to affect job performance and getting the mission accomplished.

He added, as individuals, Airmen need to be aware of potential heat illnesses and to seek help right away if feeling ill.

"The reason we are doing this is if we ever have to go to war, we want to make sure that we can do it," said Schell. "So, that's why we are here and why the inspection members are here."

Whether simulated or real-world situations, attitude plays a major factor in successful results.

Airman 1st Class Danielle Boger, a bioenvironmental engineer and simulated door guard and post attack reconnaissance team member during the exercise, said a good attitude along with teamwork were the most important parts of succeeding in this exercise.

"I think a positive attitude is really important. If people are negative, then they are not going to want to help their buddies or do their job very well," said Boger. "But, if everyone has a positive attitude toward the exercise and real world stuff, I think the end product is going to be a lot better."

Master Sgt. Benjamin Venteicher, the 155th Services Flight dining facility manager and the simulated mortuary noncommissioned officer in charge, touched on the importance of mentorship and the power of positivity.

Venteicher said exercises like the ATSO give the services flight a chance to perform tasks they don't do on a regular basis. During normal drills, he said the routine is to serve a hot meal and make sure everyone is satisfied. However, during a deployment there are a wide variety of things the services flight is tasked to perform.

"I have been really impressed by the scenario and the fact that it's pushed us. The scenario really does cater to the mortuary process for this particular exercise," said Venteicher. "I was very impressed with our Airmen. They really did a good job and really got their stuff together and got to get out and do their thing. It was good and I'm proud of them."

"There is a lot to forget. There is always a checklist. There is always a process that you are not involved in regularly," added Venteicher. "So, to be able to do this in an exercise environment, you are going to be able to get a lot more out of that and be able to practice that when you are under duress and stress."

The scenarios during the exercise were designed to be stressful and hectic, which creates a legitimate training environment for airmen who are new to the Air Force or new to their specific job.

"The biggest lesson really is training those airmen underneath you (making) sure they know their stuff," said Venteicher. "I feel like it's something I knew, but seeing it in action has been really good. We have a lot of new folks who have been getting good training from this exercise, so it is good to see."

Venteicher also stressed the importance of having a positive attitude.

"Attitude is number one, especially when you are wearing the chem. gear and you are sitting in the sun, baking," said Venteicher. "Having that smile on your face and your thumbs up, you're doing well and your folks are doing well. So, attitude has a lot to do with it, because it's a mental game."

Refueling the Bone

by Capt. Zach Anderson
931st Air Refueling Group Public Affairs


6/20/2013 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- A B-1B Lancer assigned to the 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, approaches the refueling boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker from McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., during an air refueling training mission June 20, 2013. The KC-135 was being operated by an aircrew made up of the Air Force Reserve's 18th Air Refueling Squadron, 931st Air Refueling Group at McConnell.

Reservists from the 931st ARG are required to maintain the same level of readiness and training as their active duty counterparts.  Air refueling training missions are essential to keeping aircrew members proficient in all aspects of air refueling operations.

Reserve C-130s respond to Lime Gulch fire

by Ann Skarban
302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


6/20/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- Two Air Force Reserve Command C-130s equipped with U.S. Forest Service Modular Airborne Firefighter Systems responded to the Lime Gulch fire in southern Jefferson County, Colo. June 19.

The U.S. Forest Service-generated launch order was received shortly after 2 p.m. by the AF Reserve aircrews who were on alert status at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, also in Jefferson County. Within 15 minutes of receiving the order, the MAFFS-equipped aircraft departed for the fire.

The aircraft assigned to the 302nd Airlift Wing performed load and return missions, making seven MAFFS drops, releasing more than 18,000 gallons of retardant to aid in the suppression of the advancing fire.

The MAFFS aircraft were activated by a U.S. Forest Service request for assistance June 11 when the U.S. Forest Service was not able to fill orders for airtankers with commercial assets.

"We needed to mobilize MAFFS earlier this year because we had more widespread fire activity requiring airtanker support and fewer commercial airtankers available. Last year by this time we had already mobilized additional airtankers through cooperators in addition to our exclusive use contract airtankers," said Jennifer Jones, public affairs specialist with the U.S. Forest Service at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise,
Idaho.

Prior to the Lime Gulch fire, the MAFFS C-130s supported fire suppression efforts on the Black Forest fire near Colorado Springs and the Ward Gulch fire near Rifle, Colo.

Homestead reservist graduates Weapons Instructor Course

by Ross Tweten
482nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs


6/20/2013 - HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. -- A reservist here recently graduated from the Air Force Weapons School's Weapons Instructor Course at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

Maj. Ryan Freeman, an F-16 pilot with the 93rd Fighter Squadron, was one of only three reservists, in a class of 105 Airmen, to graduate the most recent round of classes.

The school teaches graduate-level instructor courses that provide training in weapons and tactics employment. During the six month course, students receive an average of 400 hours of academics and participate in demanding combat training missions.

The goal of the course is to train students to be tactical experts in their combat specialty while also learning the art of battle-space dominance. The graduates then use the knowledge gained from the school to instruct the pilots at their home unit to employ their weapons to the best of their ability.

As the 93rd FS's newest weapons officer, Major Freeman is the lead tactician for the wing, said Lt. Col. Timothy Rusch, 93rd FS director of operations.

"It's up to him to teach and guide the 93rd FS to be the most lethal and most survivable it can possibly be in today's combat environment," said Rusch. "This training is crucial due to the nature of our evolving combat environment. What he brings back to the 93rd FS will directly impact the success of the squadron in the lethal combat environment."

According to Freeman, the school was the most challenging he's ever attended.

"It tested every part of what we do in the F-16, as an instructor, and as an officer," he said. "Everyone there wants to make you a better instructor pilot and tactical leader. For 12-plus hours, six to seven days a week for six months, the instructors pour all they have into you with 100 percent focus on weapons and tactics."

Weapons school graduates are extensively familiar not just with the weapons platform or system they have been trained in through their career path, but also in how all Air Force and DOD assets can be employed in concert to achieve synergistic effects. Every six months, the school graduates approximately 100 weapons officers.

"Only the very best pilots and tacticians are considered for fighter weapons school," said Rusch. "Out of those, only a few are selected and sent to the school. They are among the most professional and dedicated officers the Air Force has to offer."

From briefing to in-flight execution to debriefing, the instructors work hard to find weaknesses and push students harder to get every ounce from every sortie, said Freeman.

"You're afforded the opportunity to train just like combat with very little simulated," he added. "As an F-16 pilot there, we're able to employ nearly all the munitions we carry, plus fight very realistic surface and air threats every day. We fly alongside classmates who operate other fighters, bombers, cargo, space, cyber, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets.

"The F-16 weapons instructor course is intended to make you better at teaching others so we're all ready for war," he added. "My only hope is that I can do a great job teaching my fellow Airmen at Homestead."

Mighty Ninety welcomes new commander

by Tech. Sgt. Stacy Foster
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs


6/18/2013 - F. E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Col. Tracey Hayes assumed command of the 90th Missile Wing from Col. George Farfour on F. E. Warren's historic Argonne Parade Field in a change of command ceremony here June 17.

More than a thousand active-duty members, reservists, retirees, family and friends attended the event. Hundreds of Airmen participated in the pass-and-review during the 10 a.m. ceremony. Among the guests were commanders, command chiefs and civic leaders from the local community.

Unique to Warren's history, the official party members and their families arrived in a horse-drawn carriage to the parade field.

Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, 20th Air Force commander, presided over the ceremony. He wished Farfour and his family well, thanking them for their service and welcomed Hayes, Warren's first female wing commander, to the "best ICBM wing in Air Force Global Strike Command."

"This wing has a great track record of stellar performance," Carey said. "Many of the wing's accomplishments can be directly attributed to the work of Col. Farfour, and we wish him and his family continued success."

"The Air Force tends to pick the exact right person at the exact right time," Carey added. "There is no one better than Col. Hayes to lead this wing into the future. She has the intellect, backbone and is well prepared to lead."

After the acceptance of the wing guidon, Hayes expressed how excited she was to lead the Mighty Ninety and continue the longstanding community relationship with the city of Cheyenne.

"The foundation of our relationship with this community has grown since day one," she said. "We will continue to build upon that relationship with our friends off base and our friends on base."

Hayes spent the first seven years of her 22-year career in missile operations, serving as a crew commander, instructor, evaluator, flight commander, emergency war order instructor and chief of training. She also served on the Headquarters Air Force Space Command staff. Additionally, Hayes served as an exchange officer at Canada's National Defense Headquarters Directorate of Space Development in Ottawa, Ontario. She most recently served as vice commander of the 460th Space Wing at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo.

Hayes recognized the Mighty Ninety's stellar reputation and credited the hard work of the wing's Airmen and civilians as the driving force behind that tradition of success. She also charged the wing to continue to be the standard of excellence.

"Our effectiveness comes in the form of precise and awesome weaponry, but its excellence comes purely from the highly trained personnel like you in the 90th Missile Wing," Hayes said. "You are the cornerstone of our Nation's security."

Total force trifecta pulls off tanker-fighter mission

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


6/19/2013 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md.  -- Members of the 459th Air Refueling Wing here got first-hand experience working within the total force trifecta of active duty, Guard and Reserve during an overseas mission June 7-12.

Two pilots, three maintainers and a boom operator from the Air Force Reserve's 459th ARW traveled to Estonia to provide air-to-air refueling to A-10 Thunderbolt II fighters from Maryland Air National Guard's 175th Wing, Baltimore. The fighters were participating in Saber Strike, an international and collation training exercise and needed refueling support on the trip back to the U.S.

Joining the 459th ARW was an active duty tanker team from the 22nd ARW, McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., The units created the air refueling bridge to keep the fighters fueled throughout their journey from Europe.

Preparation and coordination were key to mission success.

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

The mission called for two KC-135 Stratotankers to form the refueling bridge to keep four A-10s in the air. The McConnell and Andrews tankers were in constant communication with the Baltimore fighter jets who pull up to the refueling booms to get their fuel. A few fuel dispenses and eight hours later, the trifecta lands at Lajes Field, Azores, for crew rest. The teams reconvened the following day to 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."

"I enjoy working side by side with the other components," said Maj. Brian Fisher, a pilot for the 756 ARS. "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.

Donley: It has been an honor to serve with you in the world's finest Air Force

by Desiree N. Palacios
Air Force News Service


6/21/2013 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. (AFNS)  -- Five years to the day from when he entered the position, the longest-serving secretary of the Air Force stepped down during a farewell ceremony here June 21.

Donley was confirmed as the 22nd secretary of the Air Force Oct. 2, 2008. He served as the acting secretary since June 21 of that year, as well as for seven months in 1993, making him the longest-serving secretary in the Air Force's history.

"America is stronger because Mike Donley chose to serve. You leave us now focused on the continued delivery of airpower for America," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said. "The Air Force remains ready to provide Global Vigilance, Global Reach, and Global Power for America because of your leadership and your clear, consistent commitment to our core values of integrity, service and excellence. We've all been privileged to know you, and honored to follow you."

In addition to Welsh, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter honored Donley at the ceremony, where hundreds gathered to say thanks and farewell.

The defense secretary said Donley's leadership as the Air Force's top civilian rested on hard work, constant attention, and the trust and confidence of his subordinates.

"If we had more of the Mike Donley attitude and sense of purpose in our country today, we'd probably all be a little better off," Hagel said. "I have been impressed (and) inspired. He has never shied away from taking the big issues on, straight up."

During his tenure, Donley's accomplishments include reinvigorating the nuclear enterprise by, among other things, successfully standing up the first new Air Force major command in 17 years -- Air Force Global Strike Command. He helped to ensure modernization of the force remained a priority by overseeing the successful award of the KC-46A tanker, initiated work on the long range strike family of systems and continued F-35A Lightning II development and its transition to pilot training.

He placed major emphasis on recapturing acquisition excellence with the establishment of the acquisition continuous process improvement plan and the successful implementation of the efficient space procurement strategy. He also was pivotal in standing up 24th Air Force to focus the service's cyber efforts, and he helped set the stage for total force integration, to find the right mix of capabilities that will maximize operational effectiveness across the active and Reserve components.

Carter credited Donley with rebuilding the morale and reputation of the Air Force, "brick by brick," and described him as a man of great character.

"He has reestablished the reputation and morale of our Air Force and has gone from there to build it higher and higher and higher," Carter said. "You are everything we want in a leader and a man of great integrity and humility."

Welsh thanked Donley and his wife, Gail, for their constant focus on taking care of Airmen and their families.

"Gail, your influence has been felt across our Air Force. Thank you for your genuine love of our Airmen and the 178,000 spouses" who benefited from that never-ending advocacy, Welsh said. He also thanked Hagel and Carter for joining the Air Force "as we celebrate a great American, a true patriot, and I believe a consummate Airman...my boss, my partner, and my friend."

After a pass in review by the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard and the U.S. Air Force Band, Donley reflected on his tenure and how much Airmen have impressed him over the years.

"I am most grateful to have had this opportunity to meet, to know, and to represent America's Airmen...the living engine of our Air Force who have stepped forward, generation after generation, to sustain and advance American airpower," Donley said. "Our total force Airmen manage an incredibly diverse mission set and utilize the most technologically advanced systems, all of which come together to provide Global Vigilance, Reach and Power, for America."

Donley took the opportunity while on stage, to offer one last appeal.

"To members of Congress continuing to struggle with the nation's fiscal and defense priorities... on behalf of our Airmen, please repeal sequestration...," he said. "And always feel free to add a few more resources to the U.S. Air Force... consistent with the president's budget certainly."

Before leaving the podium, Donley asked how the Air Force can be worthy of the "incredible" Airmen who volunteer to serve the nation.

"My answer is simple," he said. "We must lead our Air Force and our military in a way that continues to sustain our most valuable assets: the trust of the American people, the confidence of our partners and allies, and the fear and respect of any potential adversary. Ladies and gentlemen, it has been an honor to serve with you in the world's finest Air Force."

Under Secretary Eric Fanning will serve as the acting secretary of the Air Force until the president nominates and the Senate confirms a replacement. Fanning will also continue to serve as under secretary during this time.

Dempsey Hails Volunteerism, Communities


By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2013 – After more than a decade of war and facing an ebbing budget, the Defense Department's connection to communities and private organizations will be increasingly important, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today at the 2013 Service Unites Conference on Volunteering and Service.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey addresses an audience at Points of Light's Conference on Volunteering and Service Military Summit in Washington D.C., June 21, 2013. DOD photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Force reductions come in concert with a new energy and an opportunity to protect the way of life for the all-volunteer force, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told attendees at the final day of the four-day conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
 
“We will need to be partnered with governmental agencies, but importantly with private organizations, for the foreseeable future if we hope to have any chance of doing what’s right for these men and women who serve their country so selflessly,” the chairman said.

Conference host Points of Light is just one of the volunteer organizations partnering with DOD. According to the organization’s website, by 2015 it aims to reach 50 million people annually to raise their awareness and inspire them to make a difference through community projects and volunteerism.

Dempsey noted that on today’s date in 1787, New Hampshire ratified the U.S. Constitution, thereby enacting it into law. He emphasized the first line of the preamble -– “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union …”

“I think the framers even then understood that the future of the United States was somewhat related to the ability of our government to account for the needs of the people and to provide governance and structure,” he said. “It’s ‘we the people’ who come together when something needs to be done and we work to get it done.”

The general noted that the best solutions tend to be those that derive from the bottom up, not from the top down.

“There is no template of how to engage and help and support those who wear the uniform,” he said. “I hope you can help us think our way through the challenges ahead and find local solutions that may not always be applicable nationwide but might really work where you work or live.”

The chairman noted July 1 will be the 40th anniversary of the all-volunteer force. The last service members to be drafted into the armed forces reported for duty in June 1973.

From that point forward, young men and women volunteered to serve their country, Dempsey said. “‘We the country’ have to make a commitment to those who serve, equal to this commitment that those who serve make to the country.”

Dempsey urged all Americans to remember that it is volunteers who now protect the nation and its freedom.

“Anything we can do for them through this public-private partnership is … worthy of the effort and worthy of their sacrifices,” he said.

Ten Thousand and a Wake-up



Commander Stephen Krueger, USN (ret.) “was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and grew up in Belize. In 1976 he joined the U.S. Navy as a Seaman Recruit at the age of 18. While in the Navy he served onboard submarines and at submarine commands for more than 20 years. He was advanced to Chief in 1985 and was commissioned as an officer in 1988. In 2004 Steve retired from the Navy as a Commander. He is a Plankowner on USS OHIO (SSBN 726) and completed three tours as an Executive Officer or Chief Staff Officer in the Submarine Force. He is married to Susan, whom he met in Belize. They have three children and three grandchildren.”  Stephen Krueger is the author of Island of the Son: A Belizean Journey and Ten Thousand and a Wake-up: A Navy Journey.

Dorm Dweller, Deployer Appreciation Day promotes camaraderie, resiliency

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


6/20/2013 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam - -- U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Army service members came together June 14 for a Dorm Dweller and Deployer Appreciation Day here.

A driving factor behind the event was Pacific Air Forces' recently released definition of a PACAF resilient Airman, which included being aware of personal limitations, recognizing at-risk behaviors and being supportive of fellow Airmen and their families.

Senior Master Sgt. Rena Banes, 36th Maintenance Group first sergeant, stressed the importance of morale days to promote resiliency, especially among junior enlisted members.

"How do we become resilient or how do we bounce back?" Banes said. "In these events, Airmen get to network and meet people they can turn to if they're ever in a situation where they will need someone's help, especially in situations involving alcohol. We all know when people have alcohol in their systems they don't always make the best decisions."

The event, funded by the 36th Wing Chapel and hosted by the 36th Maintenance Group, included a series of island-themed performances and games. Team Andersen members living on base also prepared entrées to add to the two roasted pigs and barbeque provided by the chapel.

"We took the event one step further and extended it to the deployed Army and Navy here," said Tech. Sgt. Richard Crossley, 36th Maintenance Squadron Programs Flight chief. "They're stationed here with us and are part of our Andersen family, so we're not going to treat them any differently from our Airmen."

The day's festivities included a flag football tournament, open use of the base pool, a giant slip and slide, corn-hole toss, ladder golf, hula dance performances, K-9 demonstrations, and a first sergeant and commander dunk tank.

Smiles and laughs abound as junior enlisted and NCOs from different branches watched performances and participated in activities.

"If you spend time with people you know and understand, you are more likely to protect your own group like a sheepdog protecting its flock," Crossley said. "These events allow Airmen to get to know the people around them, allowing them to easily recognize when another person is in a questionable situation and be more likely to intervene. This builds unit cohesion which is important because, at the end of the day, we are all in one team."

Banes said Airmen can expect more events like this in the future and that the event organizers were thankful for everyone who participated and helped make the event a success.

"With sequestration, it's all about funding," Banes said. "There are other alternatives, other base organizations that can help donate money if we want to come together again and extend our appreciation. I think coming out here as leaders, with all the other first sergeants and commanders, show the Airmen how much we care."

18th Security Forces hosts atypical retirement, honors service

by Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman
18th Wing Public Affairs


6/19/2013 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- "Present, arms!" shouted the Airman from the line of flag bearers, signaling crisp, polished movements from the honor guard detail.

As the notes of the Japanese and U.S. national anthems rang through the room, service members and their families stood frozen in silent respect for the flags and for those who've dedicated their lives for the symbolic and historic colors.

It was the ceremonial beginning, June 13, which marked the end of careers for four heroes who, like many before them, have dedicated the majority of their lives to their partners and their service. Characteristic of other retirements, it ushered in a new beginning in a life of rest and relaxation, long forgotten throughout the years of deployments and self-sacrifice.

Although it maintained the distinctive procession, this observance would host an atypical subject that would further distinguish the mysterious, yet impressive occupation.

As the emcee, Tech. Sgt. Kristen McKay, 18th Security Force Squadron military working dog kennel master, spoke to the crowd about the life accomplishments of each veteran, her words painted four separate pictures of honor and commitment in an ever-changing environment in a way that made each of the retiring working dogs almost seem human.

It's for this human-like service that Staff Sgt. Codi Carter, 18th SFS military working dog trainer, said they deserve a retirement just the same as any human service member.

"In my opinion, it's important for the working dogs to have a formal retirement because it's a recognition they deserve," Carter said. "It reiterates the importance and the magnitude of the impact our four-legged comrades have on our safety on a daily basis. These dogs give their heart and soul for the protection of each and every one of us, expecting nothing but a handler's caring touch in return.

"The majority of these dogs work until their dying day, without so much as a warm dog bed to rest their head on at the end of their 'watch.' The least we can do is publicly recognize these dogs and their many accomplishments to thank them for the sacrifice and service they've given throughout their military careers. This act solidifies the gratitude we share for their loyalty and commitment to us."

According to McKay, the dogs form a partnership with their handlers many say is irreplaceable.

"Military working dogs are considered equipment," she said. "However, those dogs are our partners. We can't do our job without them, and they can't do their job without us. We go hand in hand. They're treated as partners; they're taken care of as partners. If you're downrange and an incident happens where your dog needs support or medical attention, they get nine-lined (medical evacuated) out just like a human being would."

However, the capabilities of a working dog are not to be confused with a human's limitations.

In their collective experiences, the military working dogs, Missa, Shara, Nemo and Zina, amassed a combined total of nearly 60,000 detector sweeps for either narcotics or explosives during their tenure in the Air Force.

"K-9 is important to the military because there is no machine or person or piece of equipment that could ever replicate what a military working dog does, because a military working dog has a sense of smell that is 10,000 times greater than that of any human being," McKay said. "Without that, there is no way a machine or a person or piece of equipment could go out and detect the explosives or narcotics as quickly or efficiently as a military working dog."

Though it may sound like a continuous, possibly monotonous task, McKay said no day is the same, creating more challenges for the handlers and a daily mission to complete.

"Most people look at it as a pet, but military working dogs have a mission," McKay said. "Our primary goal is to save lives or deter bad things from happening from bad people. Every day that you come into work, you have a goal; you have a plan; you have something that needs accomplished for a reason."

McKay said that with such a specific and constantly varying mission, dog handler teams around the Air Force have to stay equipped and trained beyond just the basics.

"Initially you go through the military working dog handler's course," McKay said. "After your handler's course, you'll get to your first duty assignment, and then it's all on-the-job training. It's not just what you learned in handler's course; handler's course is just the beginning or the foundation. You have to continue building and researching and asking questions.

"My biggest thing is you have to be a constant sponge," she continued. "The moment you think you know everything about K-9 or about dogs, is the day that you should probably hang up your leash, because the military working dog program is constantly changing. Every base is different; every dog is different; every program is different."

For some of the dogs, service consumed eight of their 10 years of life. Following retirement and the juicy, celebratory steak given to the K-9s, most dogs were faithfully adopted by their final handlers, a process that's only been authorized for a little more than a decade.

"I'm happy that I was able to adopt Shara," Carter said, Shara's 10th and final handler. "Even though I was only her handler for about a year, I'm excited for the chance to take her home and give her a life beyond service. It's what she deserves."