Military News

Monday, June 24, 2013

Joint mass casualty exercise tests Fort Worth personnel

by Senior Airman Melissa Harvey
301st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


6/23/2013 - NAVAL AIR STATION FORT WORTH JOINT RESERVE BASE, Texas -- Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, Navy and Civil Air Patrol personnel conducted a joint mass casualty exercise here June 23. 

"The goal is to facilitate learning in a joint effort as well as individual training requirements so that we could actually answer and work a mass casualty," said Maj. Carol Jones, 301st Medical Squadron pharmacist.

The exercise was held on the base softball field where medical and moulage tents, a pharmacy, along with other needed supplies, such as a water buffalo, were set up surrounding an open area where the action took place.

For the exercise, events leading up to the casualties included careless social networking posts.

"A unit was to report for drug urine testing, so people got on their Facebook and Twitter accounts and reported it," Jones said. "A terrorist pulled up to the front of the command post with a truck loaded with a fertilizer bomb and it exploded. They have casualties that have been exposed to fertilizer, nitrogen and also now we have been told there is an anthrax exposure as well."

Indicative of how quickly a situation can occur, conditions on the "playing field" changed rapidly.

One moment, the field was busy with the sound of preparations and the next, moulage participant's screams and cries for help filled the air. They were covered with simulated blood and visible injuries such as cuts, eye damage, and one person in particular had a stick protruding from his midsection.

Most of the injured were played by civil air patrol cadets who have a mission to assist the Air Force in any way that they can, according to 2nd Lt. Dwight Tutton, a senior member of the Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron 413 from Denton, Texas.

"It's awesome, it's really cool. I'm glad the cadets are getting to do something like this. Some of them have done it before and for some of them it's their first time," he said.

When the injured came onto the field, they were met with medics coming to their aid. Each injured person held a card that gave specific symptoms they were experiencing. This aided the medical personnel in their assessment of the injured and to help them decide what their next step was going to be.

Medics had to either walk with or get litters to assist the injured to the appropriate medical tent and then take the proper steps to treat them.

For Capt. Rose Adams, a clinical nurse with the 136th Medical Group the takeaway from this exercise is experience. "Training for most of the nurses and medical technicians because some of them don't have outside experience,'' she said. "So, it's good to get them this medical experience in what it could be like to actually be out in the field taking care of a mass amount of patients at one time."

This training gives medical personnel the opportunity to act under pressure in a learning environment, rather than in real life.

"Overall it is a good exercise," said Navy Hospitalman Melody Zemanek, who is stationed at the base medical clinic. "Definitely take the time to make sure you do things right. That one little extra second to think will help out a lot."

Not everything was simulated during the exercise.

"What's really nice for the 301st Medical Squadron is that we have actually had hands-on," said Jones. "We've been able to open up the medical packages and actually watch central lines being put in, ventilators being set up, we all have live oxygen. So we have the ability to see a lot of that stuff hands-on experience, not just simulated.

"It's just been great; it's been a good joint effort, she said. "I think both teams have really merged well together. Communication is huge and I think it's worked really great."

Army Initiates Collaborative Effort on TBI, PTSD

By David Vergun
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2013 – Over the last 12 years, many soldiers have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with wounds, some visible and some not, a leader in Army Medicine said here June 22.


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Army Brig. Gen. (Dr.) John M. Cho, Army Medical Command deputy chief of staff for operations, addresses the issues of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury during an awareness event on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., June 22, 2013. U.S. Army photo by David Vergun
  

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"The invisible wounds -- post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury -- are just as damaging as the visible ones. They impact the families as well as the soldiers," said Brig. Gen. (Dr.) John M. Cho, deputy chief of staff for operations with Army Medical Command.

An Iraq War veteran himself, Cho spoke outside the U.S. Capitol as part of National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Day. This year's theme was "Visible Honor for Invisible Wounds."

Post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD, and traumatic brain injury, or TBI, are not just military-specific issues, Cho said. "They deserve a national discussion."

A big part of that discussion, he said, needs to focus on reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues.

Besides a national discussion, Cho said, agencies both inside and outside the military need to come together to learn more about identifying and treating PTSD and TBI, as well as preventing it in the first place.
Cho said a PTSD diagnosis is particularly challenging, as "you can't simply get a lab test or take an X-ray to find it."

As part of its collaborative effort, the Army is participating in a $60 million research study for TBI, sponsored by the National Football League, General Electric and athletic apparel manufacturer Under Armour, he said.

Also, $700 million has been allocated toward both PTSD and TBI as the result of a White House executive order for a renewed effort in collaboration with the Veterans Affairs Department and other organizations.
Additionally, the Army has set up seven "restorative centers" in Afghanistan, where TBI can be identified and treated, often allowing soldiers to stay in theater as they improve, he said.

The general explained that PTSD often, but not always, occurs with TBI, and that relationship, too, is being researched. "We're nowhere near where we want to be, however, when it comes to researching PTSD and TBI," he acknowledged. "A lot more needs to be done."

Cho said PTSD affected him personally when his brother, who also is a U.S. Military Academy graduate, returned from Afghanistan suffering from PTSD. He sought treatment and is better now, he said, adding that his brother is telling his story to other soldiers in an effort to get them to seek care.

"We know treatment helps," Cho said. "We can help them get better, and they can continue to serve in our Army with honor and distinction."

As a result of his brother's experience, Cho said, he's a big believer in group therapy, particularly cognitive processing psychotherapy.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, unable to attend the day's event, wrote in a letter for the attendees: "PTSD is a combat injury. Veterans suffering from PTSD deserve the same dignity and respect as our fellow wounded warriors.

"With the continued support and encouragement of organizations like Honor for ALL, the Army and this nation have made enormous strides in treating this injury, removing the stigma and instilling dignity in our recovering veterans,” Odierno’s letter continued. “But more work must be done!"

Honor for ALL, a nonprofit organization sponsoring the event, is dedicated to eliminating the stigma of PTSD and supports research into finding the causes and treatment of the disorder.

Guard joins Reserve C-130s fighting Rocky Mountain fires

by MAFFS Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

6/24/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The U.S. Forest Service, through the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, requested the activation of two additional Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System-equipped military C-130 aircraft to assist in battling wildland fires.

Two aircraft from the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, Port Hueneme, Calif., arrived here June 23 They joined two Air Force Reserve Command C-130s from the 302nd Airlift Wing, which have been engaged in aerial firefighting over seven fires in Colorado. The two California aircraft bring the activated MAFFS fleet to four airplanes.

The request came due to an increase in wildland fire activity in Southern Colorado and neighboring states and the significant fire potential forecast for the coming week.

MAFFS initially activated June 11 to assist in fighting forest fires in Southern Colorado after the USFS sent a request for assistance to the Department of Defense though U.S. Northern Command. Since activating, MAFFS aircraft from the 302nd AW have made 41 drops releasing 108,305 gallons of fire retardant.

MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the USFS. MAFFS modules are loaded into the cargo bays of military C-130 aircraft. Led by small USFS planes, military aircrews can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant from the MAFFS modules along the leading edge of a fire in less than five seconds and cover an area a quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, ground crews at a MAFFS tanker base can refill the modules in less than 12 minutes.

A joint DOD and USFS program, MAFFS provides aerial firefighting resources when commercial and private air tankers are no longer able to meet the needs of the Forest Service. A military Air Expeditionary Group (Provisional) - Wildland Fire Fighting exercises control over the MAFFS resources at the direction of the USFS.

Four C-130 units perform the MAFFS mission, each providing two MAFFS-capable aircraft and the air and ground crews needed to operate them. They are the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard; 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard; 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard; and the 302nd Airlift Wing, Air Force Reserve Command, in Colorado.

No backyard mechanics

by Staff Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


6/21/2013 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Everything about the B-2 Spirit screams stealth.

Its leading edges are curved to reflect radio waves. Its jet-black surface is coated with radar-absorbing material. Its four engines are buried inside the body.

Although these design characteristics are a major reason why the B-2 remains undetected, perhaps most important to its stealthiness are the maintainers behind the scenes.

Each time a Spirit lands on the Whiteman flightline, these highly trusted maintainers have only eight to 12 hours to get the $2.1 billion bomber back in the air. With millions of parts and endless possibilities for something to go wrong, it is a daunting task.

To make sure the process happens the way it should, instructors from the 372nd Training Squadron, Det. 6, take Airmen right from technical school, as well as experienced Airmen from other airframes, under their wings to teach them the ins and outs of working with the B-2.

"Training is critical; it's the way the Air Force provides security for the nation," said Master Sgt. James Boone, the detachment's production superintendent and propulsions instructor. "If we don't do it, or if we don't have the means or the money to do it, then all we have are backyard mechanics working on multibillion-dollar aircraft, and that can go south quickly."

Administratively, Det. 6 is supported by the 982nd Training Group at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, which provides them with the tools and means needed to fully support the B-2 mission.

The detachment's classes cover several detailed aspects of the bomber, including radar, avionics, propulsion, egress, fuels, pneudraulics, electro-environmental, wire repair, low observables, flight controls, aerospace ground equipment, aircraft general and weapons. The classes incorporate a balance of in-class instruction and hands-on application.

"On the flightline and in the backshop, we're always moving, always hustling to get the job done," said Airman 1st Class Jared Slaton, a B-2 propulsions specialist from the 509th Maintenance Squadron. "It's good to have training specifically on what we need to do. We also have more time to focus on what we're actually doing.

"Another thing I really enjoy about being in this class is working with other flightline guys," Slaton added. "This class helps us bond on a more personal level. We all work kind of differently, so it's not just learning the class' lessons ... it's also learning about the others and how they work and their way of doing things."

This coming together of different flightline-based Air Force specialty codes lasts anywhere from one to 32 academic days, and most classes have two to four students.
The low student-teacher ratio ensures the instructors can build a strong rapport with their students. Even with the low ratio, that can still sometimes be challenging given the needs and personalities of students in each course.

"The challenging part is being able to find the right balance of instructing different students," said Boone. "For example, the class I'm teaching now includes an airman first class who has been in for one year and a technical sergeant who has been in for 12 years, but I have to instruct them at the same time.

"I have to explain different things to the younger Airman, but he also has more experience with the engine interior, so it goes both ways," he added. "It's all about feeling out who needs what kind of attention and what kind of instruction is best for them."

Boone added that like the students, he also enjoys seeing the flightline and backshop guys interacting and sharing their knowledge. But more than anything, he likes seeing his students "get it."

"A good day for me is when that light bulb goes on," Boone said. "It feels great to see them apply what I've taught, read the technical order and then remove a piece off the engine. I can see when it clicks and all makes sense."

A typical morning at the detachment starts with a lesson on U.S. Air Force and 509th Bomb Wing history to help the students connect with their place in history, and then continues on to the day's objectives.

"Once we have all the technical orders open and we're working on the lesson, the instructor asks us questions and inspects our work like he's quality assurance," Slaton said. "It's really helpful to have that instant feedback."

In the end, all the lessons, questions and inspections culminate when the students are handed their diplomas and head back to the flightline to keep Whiteman's fleet of 20 B-2s in the air.

"There's a tragic end if we as engine mechanics don't do our job," said Boone. "People we don't want to die, die. People we want to die, don't. It's critical that we do it right."

American300 Tour challenges Airmen to dream big

by Airman 1st Class Collin C. Schmidt
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs


6/21/2013 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Everyone has ups and downs, and everyone comes to a point in their life when they need a helping hand. Sometimes when Airmen feel that they've come to the end of their rope they just have to get back up, brush themselves off and keep on pushing.

Robi Powers, founder of the American300 Never Quit Series tours, brought Devon Harris, a retired Jamaican army captain and member of the first Jamaican bobsled team, to accompany him on a tour of Malmstrom Air Force Base from June 10 to 12.

Powers and Harris had a chance to tour Malmstrom's 40th Helicopter Squadron, C-01 Missile Alert Facility, Elkhorn Dining Facility, 341st Logistics Readiness Squadron and Aces High Bowling Alley. During their visit, Harris spoke to company grade officers, Malmstrom's 5/6 Alliance and Honor Guard members about following their dreams no matter what. He was also the guest speaker at an Airman Leadership School graduation June 11.

The American300 organization, funded by Air Force Global Strike Command, helps instill a never quit attitude in the hearts of AFGSC troops. From young Airmen to colonels, the tour has been helping the men and women of the command build resiliency within themselves to help make them a force not to be reckoned with, especially in the face of adversity.

Harris is no stranger to adversity himself. He was born in Kingston Jamaica, in a place called Olympic Gardens. He jokes that from birth he was destined to become an Olympian because of the title of his birthplace, but in reality, this was not the case.

According to Harris, Olympic Gardens is a tough area - a very harsh part of Jamaica where poverty runs rampant. Growing up, he ran track barefoot because he could not afford a good pair of running shoes. Despite his circumstances, he always dared to dream big. He wanted more from life than what he'd been given.

"My dream from very young on was to join the Jamaican Army and make something of my life," Harris said. "I would sit by this lamppost that stood in front of our home and dream about going to Sandhurst - the most prestigious military academy in the world.

Conventional wisdom would say there is no way a small boy from the ghetto, whose father was a bus driver, would ever be able to do anything great," he said. "You have to be bold enough to ask more of life than what you think you deserve. You have to keep on pushing. It's not always easy to achieve your goals. You have to work hard for it. You need to roll with the punches. Expect the obstacles that you are bound to run into on your journey and overcome them. They are called dreams for a reason."

After completing high school, Harris went on to become the top pick of 33 people to attend the Sandhurst Royal Military Academy. He was commissioned 12 days before turning 21-years-old and had earned the respect that comes with being an officer.

After achieving his goal in the military he still longed for something more. Harris turned to another childhood dream of his - the Olympics. Jamaicans have a long and rich history of competing in the Olympic Games. Harris was still very young and athletic and looking for another challenge to take on, so he decided that he would try to make it to the Olympics as a runner. He began to run five miles a day. Every morning the first thing he would do is run.

One day his commanding officer approached him, knowing Harris was training to enter the Olympics, and asked if he would be interested in joining the first Jamaican bobsled team. Harris said yes.

"The opportunity came my way and I took it," he said.

Most people have heard of the movie "Cool Runnings," but what most people don't know is that it was inspired by Harris's team - the first Jamaican bobsled team.

"I've had my ups and downs," Harris said. "I had to work diligently for everything I have, but the thing that has helped me come this far is having a dream, and being able to dream big. That's the thing about dreams, you start out and it's very hard. It seems almost impossible but you take one step at a time and the next thing you know, you wake up one day and you've achieved your goal."

The message Harris had for the Airmen of Malmstrom was well received. After every speech he gave, young Airmen would approach him with more questions, ask for another point of view on a subject or thank him one last time for sharing his life's story. He, in return, would encourage everyone that came up to him with one last word of advice.

"Keep on pushing," he said.

Former Fuel Specialist Teaches Combat Tactics


By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Cody Haas
1st Marine Logistics Group

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., June 24, 2013 – Accomplishing a certain mission is a career goal for most military members, but for one former logistics Marine, it is a daily objective.


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Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Andrew Walters trains more than 100 Marines during each combat training cycle at Camp Pendleton, Calif. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Cody Haas
  

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Staff Sgt. Andrew Walters, a combat instructor with Kilo Company, Marine Combat Training Battalion, School of Infantry – West, started off as a bulk fuel specialist with Bulk Fuel Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, before transitioning to his current billet.

“Being a bulk fuel specialist is a good job,” said Walters, a Philadelphia native. “It’s a necessity, which is great. I love my [military occupational specialty], but I love teaching combat tactics.”
The mindset and unit integrity of a ground support unit is very similar to that of an infantry unit, making for a smooth transition to combat instructor, Walters said.

“In a bulk fuel company, you can have a platoon of 20 Marines or a platoon of 70 Marines -- it’s all about personnel management,” he said. “In MCT, it’s very much the same when I’m leading 120 Marines every day. It’s not just about having rank. It’s about having a command presence and being a leader Marines can constantly emulate.”

Each day, Walters sets out to push new Marines further by giving them more knowledge on infantry tactics to make them better.

“There’s a mission every day,” he said. “It’s a lot of full bore, up-tempo, something new every day from sunup to sundown.”

It is not rare for a combat instructor to get less than three hours of sleep a night during a four-week cycle, Walters said. Less sleep can add to additional stress to an already overwhelming training schedule, he added.
“You learn to work around the stress and run with it,” he said.

A combat instructor billet is certainly not for everyone, Walters acknowledged. There is a extensive amount of training, including a 5-, 10- and 15-kilometer hike, and training culminates with a 10-day battle skills readiness exercise to complete each cycle.

“My drive is to get the mission accomplished and not let anyone else down,” Walters said. “If I’m slow and sluggish, [new Marines] are going to see it. No matter how sick I feel, how tired I am, it just goes away, because I have a leadership role as a Marine combat instructor.”

President Nominates Admiral for Top Stratcom Post American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, June 24, 2013 – President Barack Obama has nominated the commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet to be the next commander of U.S. Strategic Command, Pentagon officials announced today. If confirmed by the Senate, Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney will succeed Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler at Stratcom, which has its headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. Haney, a 1978 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, served as Stratcom’s deputy commander before assuming his current post in January 2012. One of nine unified commands in the Defense Department, Stratcom conducts global operations in coordination with other combatant commands, the services and appropriate U.S. government agencies to deter and detect strategic attacks against the United States and its allies, and to defend the nation as directed. The president also has nominated Navy Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to receive his fourth star and to succeed Haney as U.S. Pacific Fleet commander

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2013 – President Barack Obama has nominated the commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet to be the next commander of U.S. Strategic Command, Pentagon officials announced today.

If confirmed by the Senate, Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney will succeed Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler at Stratcom, which has its headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.

Haney, a 1978 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, served as Stratcom’s deputy commander before assuming his current post in January 2012.

One of nine unified commands in the Defense Department, Stratcom conducts global operations in coordination with other combatant commands, the services and appropriate U.S. government agencies to deter and detect strategic attacks against the United States and its allies, and to defend the nation as directed.

The president also has nominated Navy Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to receive his fourth star and to succeed Haney as U.S. Pacific Fleet commander