Military News

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Airman's actions lead to heroic rescue

by Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs


7/10/2013 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- For Airman 1st Class Jake Bush, 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron electro-mechanical technician, July 1 was a seemingly normal Monday.

Just hours after completing a CPR refresher training course, Bush was put in an unlikely situation that required him to put his skills to good use.

He rescued three people from the Missouri River in Ulm, Mont.

A native of Randolph, N.Y., Bush set his eyes on fishing on Holter Lake, Craig, Mont., but at 9 p.m., he settled for the short trip to Ulm. Within 10 minutes of reaching the first access spot underneath the Ulm Bridge, Bush noticed something was wrong.

"I noticed two girls were struggling in the water about 150 yards away," Bush said. "Then a man ran in and tried to save them. Then I saw all three were having trouble so I immediately ran down to the side of the river and dove in. As soon as I got to them, I realized we were stuck in a whirlpool - a place where the water is deep next to a sandbar."

Bush brought the youngest teenager to shore, who was unhurt at the time. He returned to the water to rescue the two others and brought them to shore.

"Honestly, I didn't think I was going to make it to shore," Bush said. "On the surface, the river looks still but can be deceiving underneath. It took all of me to make sure they made it to the shore."

Although the man - Ernest Lamere - was unresponsive, Bush performed CPR until emergency crews arrived. Unfortunately, Lamere passed away July 2, according to Cascade County Sheriff's Office officials in an article published by the Great Falls Tribune. Wing One would like to convey our deepest condolences to the families affect by this tragedy.

"If I hadn't taken the refresher course that morning, I would have still had the knowledge from taking the CPR course two years ago," Bush said. "But having the refresher knowledge definitely helped."

Bush said humbly that he couldn't just stand by; he had to do something.

"I'm not a hero; anyone would have done the same if they were in my shoes," he said.

As Bush's story went viral over the course of the days following the incident, many words of praise echoed through the Great Falls and Malmstrom Air Force Base communities.

"I can't begin to describe how proud and grateful I am [of Bush]," said Col. Robert Stanley, 341st Missile Wing commander. "[He] demonstrated for all of us exactly what America needs right now - selfless people who put the needs of others ahead of themselves. Fortunately for us at Malmstrom, there are many others like [him] out there, patiently waiting for [their] moment - that defining instant in time where they make an indelible difference in the lives of those around them."

Although the only Airmen required to be CPR certified Air Force-wide are physical training leaders and those in medical career-fields, Air Force Global Strike Command requires all those who work in the missile field to be CPR certified, said Master Sgt. Christina Zabel, 341st Medical Operations Squadron family health team NCO in charge.

Summer safety around water
By Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Editor's Note: A native of Randolph, N.Y., Bush, 21, has years of fishing experience on the many lakes and rivers in New York. While Bush selflessly put the needs of others before himself, Team Malmstrom members are reminded to be mindful of their swimming capabilities as well as river currents in Montana.

The following are safety precautions to take while swimming in Montana's lakes and rivers:

· Always swim with a buddy. Never swim alone or in unsupervised places. Select swimming sites that have lifeguards whenever possible.

· Supervise swimming children. Make sure an adult is constantly watching swimming children or in or around the water. Do not engage in any other distracting activity while supervising children.

· Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming or boating. Avoid drinking alcohol while supervising children around water as well.

· Learn to swim. Enroll yourself and children in swimming classes.

· Don't consider your children to be "drown-proof." Just because a child enrolled in an infant water-proofing class or swimming class does not make them "drown-proof." A child who falls into water unexpectedly may panic and forget learned swimming skills.

· Learn CPR. Because of the time it might take for emergency services to arrive, CPR skills can make a difference in someone's life.

· Stick to life jackets, not toys. Do not use air-filled or foam toys, such as water-wings, noodles, or inner-tubes in place of life jackets. These are toys and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.

· Use U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. When boating, regardless of distance to be traveled, size of boat, or swimming ability of boaters, life jackets should be used.

· Know the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming. Strong winds and thunderstorms with lightning strikes are dangerous to swimmers and boaters.

· Stay out of dangerous water. During spring, rivers have swift, cold murky water that may contain dangerous eddies and hazardous debris from run-off water from mountains.

· Avoid jumping off cliffs. Jumping from cliffs or bridges is dangerous because of shallow water, submerged rocks, trees or other hazards. Never dive head first into water.

· Beware of dams. Never swim above or below a dam and always obey warning signs.

Aerospace and Operational Physiology prepares Airmen for worst case scenario

by Senior Airman Taylor Curry
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


7/9/2013 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Imagine flying a plane mid mission and you begin experiencing symptoms of hypoxia, a condition where the body as a whole or region of the body is deprived of an adequate amount of oxygen. Would you know what to do?

Here at Fairchild, a tanker pilot or boom operator's focus is essential to mission success, and they have to be prepared for any emergency in flight. The 92nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron's aerospace and operational physiology training unit is where aircrew for tankers, transporters and bombers go to receive the skills needed to take on emergencies such as experiencing hypoxia.

The principal mission at the ASOP is to familiarize flyers with the physiological stresses and human performance factors of present military aviation and prepare flyers to successfully meet these challenges.

"The most significant goal here is to further improve flight safety by reducing human performance error while in the air," said Staff Sgt. Vikas Kumar, 92nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron aerospace and operational physiology NCO in charge. "We prepare Airmen for the human factor challenges inherent to military operations with the objective of increasing overall readiness and mission efficiency."

There are currently three members working throughout the section that have the responsibilities of ensuring aircrew are prepared for an emergency. They're in charge of human performance enhancement training, hypoxia familiarization training, high altitude airdrop mission support and maintaining aircrew flight equipment such as masks and helmets.

"Many pilots and aircrew have to come through our one day class," said Kumar. "We teach our students about atmosphere, respiration and circulation, ways to prevent hypoxia and hyperventilation, cabin pressurization, situational awareness, night vision procedures and much other helpful knowledge needed to operate in the air."

The students are also trained more on airborne precautions by using some unique instruments in class. One item used is the Environics Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device 2, or ROBD2. The ROBD2 is a portable computerized gas-blending instrument used to produce hypoxia without changes in atmospheric pressure. It is used to train aircrew to recognize the sign and symptoms of hypoxia and to carry out the appropriate emergency procedures. It features software that is entirely menu driven.

"The ROBD2 is what we use here in place of the hypobaric chamber," said Kumar. "There are several advantages to using this system. Not only is it much cheaper to maintain than a chamber, it's a lot less taxing on the body because it doesn't have any atmospheric pressure change involved, making it possible to fly a jet right after if needed, unlike using the chamber, you have a 12-hour restriction."

There are numerous challenges faced when flying. Some challenges have to deal with air sickness management, fatigue, spatial disorientation and diet. These are all things that must be considered before flying and are discussed when going through the class, added Kumar.

"Our number one mission is aircrew training, but as time permits, we help other Fairchild units and Airmen sustain and enhance their human performance," said Lt. Col. Matt Albright, 92nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron aerospace physiological training flight commander.

Face of Defense: Double Amputee Receives Warm Welcome, New Home

By By Sgt. Barry St. Clair
16th Military Police Brigade

HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C., July 10, 2013 – U.S. Army Cpl. Cody Stanton, an Afghanistan veteran and double amputee, recently received the keys to a new specially adapted home built by Operation: Coming Home volunteers.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Cpl. Cody Stanton, left, speaks with Lt. Col. Terry M. Nihart, commander of the 503rd Military Police Battalion, Fort Bragg, N.C, after a ceremony in Holly Springs, N.C., June 27, 2013 during which Stanton received the keys to a new specially adapted home. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Barry St. Clair
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Soldiers, community leaders, and neighbors attended a ceremony at Stanton’s new home June 27 to honor his service and sacrifice in the defense of freedom.

Stanton, a Purple Heart recipient, was injured in January 2012 while training with Afghan Police outside Kandahar, Afghanistan, when an improvised explosive device detonated. His injuries resulted in the amputation of both legs.

“One of the toughest calls I have ever had to make as a commander was to call Nancy [Stanton’s mother] at work and try to convince her that he was going to be OK,” said the 503rd Military Police Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Terry M. Nihart, in a voice choked with emotion. “At that point we were going day by day.”
Stanton deployed to Afghanistan from Fort Bragg, N.C., with the 21st MP Company, 503rd MP Battalion, 16th MP Brigade in November 2011 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“When we have someone like Cody, who sacrificed so much at such a young age, and will face significant challenges throughout the rest of his life, he did it for his country; he did it for all of you out there,” said Nihart.

Nihart appointed Stanton battalion commander for the day.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Marcos Emelio, of Pueblo, Colo., was Stanton’s supervisor at the time when he was injured and applied the tourniquets to his legs and began life saving treatment.

“He would have done the same for me if the situation were reversed,” said Emelio. “It is just what we do as soldiers to take care of each other.”

The ceremony included musical performances and local officials were present to honor Stanton during the key ceremony.

Along with being appointed battalion commander for the day, Stanton was made mayor of Holly Springs for a day by Mayor Dick Sears. Wake County Sherriff Donnie Harrison also appointed Stanton as an honorary deputy of Wake County.

Operation: Coming Home is a joint volunteer project led by the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County, the Triangle Real Estate and Construction Veterans, and supported by Royal Oaks Building Group and Gaines & Company. Together they conduct fundraising events, coordinate building projects, and present adapted living homes to some of the most physically challenged military veterans at no cost to the service member or their Family. This requires recruiting volunteer donors who are willing to donate time or material, or both toward the home raising.

“The home is given with no strings attached,” Rich Van Tassel, a board member with Operation: Coming Home, said during the ceremony. “We only hope it will serve you here for many years to come.”

DEAMS begins pre-deployment activities at 4 AMC bases

by Cathy Segal
SAF/FMPS


7/10/2013 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio  -- Senior Air Force leadership has approved the start of pre-deployment activities in preparation for implementing the Defense Enterprise Accounting and Management System at four Air Mobility Command bases.

A final decision from DOD's Milestone Decision Authority to deploy the system Oct. 1 at Dover AFB, Del.; Grand Forks AFB, N.D.; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; and Pope Army Airfield, Fort Bragg, N.C.; is expected later this summer. The addition of these bases would bring the total number of installations using DEAMS to six and the number of financial users to almost 2,000.

Eric Fanning, the Under Secretary of the Air Force, expressed his support for initiating DEAMS pre-deployment activities June 11 during a meeting with the Air Force comptroller and others from the Secretary of the Air Force's Financial Management and Comptroller directorate.

Preparations for the next system rollouts come after the DEAMS program met specified criteria following previous deployments at Scott AFB, Ill., and McConnell AFB, Kan. The program will need to meet addition criteria before approval is granted to further deploy. Combatant commands and other tenant units that use Air Force finance offices to process their funds, as well as the Defense Finance and Accounting Service centers that support them, also will use DEAMS.

DEAMS is the Air Force's Enterprise Resource Planning system supporting DOD's Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness Plan. DEAMS, which uses Oracle Federal Financials software, will help resolve material weaknesses, improve the timeliness and accuracy of financial management information, support consistent financial reporting to DOD, and enable Business Process Reengineering. It uses standardized business rules and processes, and complies with existing laws, regulations and policies to achieve audit readiness by 2017 as required by the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act.

The system was implemented at Scott AFB as a two-phased technology demonstration, fully deploying there in May 2010. It deployed at McConnell in October 2012 as a proof of concept. The U.S. Transportation Command headquarters staff at Scott AFB and the DFAS center at Limestone, Maine, which supports both installations, also are using DEAMS. When the system deploys throughout the rest of the Air Force it will use an incremental strategy that generally follows major command lines, although unique requirements may group similar bases together regardless of the parent MAJCOM.

"We are excited to continue fielding a system to help the Air Force resolve existing financial management issues and provide accurate, reliable and timely financial information to support decision making at all levels of DOD," said Shirley Reed, Air Force Functional Manager for DEAMS. "Although the legacy systems we are replacing performed well in their time, they are outdated, have weak internal controls and, for the most part, aren't integrated. We are using 1960's technology to manage Air Force funds when we should be taking advantage of today's technology. DEAMS will resolve all of those issues," she continued.

The DEAMS program has been heavily scrutinized with audits, assessments and inspections to ensure that it meets a variety of standards, including operational effectiveness, suitability, mission capability, and readiness.

"Air Force and DOD officials want to be sure the system works as promised, and we plan to deliver," Reed stated. "The DEAMS Functional Management Office staff, along with the Program Management Office, DFAS, developers, the system integrator, and even users, has been implementing improvements and validating progress made since a May 2012 operational assessment by the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center. We are ready to deploy DEAMS."

An operational assessment is expected late this fiscal year to validate progress made on the 2012 findings, but the pre-deployment activities are not contingent on those results. Legacy systems will be left in place pending the results of the operational assessment, Reed explained.

Preparations have already begun for each of the next four bases, including a site profile to determine who the potential users are. A DEAMS Site Activation Task Force will guide each base through the deployment process, including forming a Change Management Advisory Board. Unit POCs will help with individual data collection, registering for and selecting appropriate DEAMS permissions (called "responsibilities"), meeting just-in-time training requirements, and implementing DEAMS.

First Air National Guard Weapons Instructor Course graduate from 178th

by Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Stahl
178th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


7/10/2013 - SPRINGFIELD, Ohio -- A recent graduation at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., provided the 178th Fighter Wing here with the distinction of having the only U.S. Air Force Weapons Instructor Course graduate in the Air National Guard who flies remotely piloted aircraft.

Maj. Jim Tom set himself apart by earning the academic and flying awards for his graduating class and is the only current Air National Guard graduate.

The U.S. Air Force Weapons Instructor Course is an intensive six-month course held at Nellis Air Force Base. Only five RPA pilots are chosen for each class, and only one of those is from the Air National Guard. The RPA portion is a new addition to the weapons school.

"It's new, a lot of people wash out," said Tom.

Tom is one of 29 graduates of this school including all of active duty, Guard and Reserve.

Tom believes that he "jumped to the front of the line" because of his experience as an Air Force F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon training pilot.

"There was a high level of interest that the Guard send someone who could make it through [the course], and be successful," Tom said. "I have background instructing tactical aviation; it was a good fit."

Tom says the class teaches pilots to take a tactical problem, then break it down and come up with a plan to solve that tactical problem. Students then must brief and communicate their plan, and execute that plan. Student must be able to debrief what went right, what went wrong, and what they were going to do to fix any issues next time.

Tom earned the academic award for his class for having the highest test average and for writing the best research paper. Topics for the research paper were chosen from the Air Force RPA community based on the most pressing concerns in the community.

"My topic was based on what the [RPA] community thought was a deficiency in the knowledge of their pilots," said Tom. "My paper set me apart [from the rest of the class]; the instructors really liked my paper."

The second award Tom received was the "Top Stick" or top flying award. This award was based on successful training missions flown and the instructor's consensus of best overall flying performance.

"I had no idea that I was going to win any awards," said Tom on earning these awards. "Getting the patch at the end was the only think I cared about. It was nice to win, but graduating was all I cared about."

Tom is thankful to be back at the 178th FW and is preparing to put his training to good use in his role as Chief of Weapons and Tactics.

"This mission is only getting bigger, and the Guard's role is expanding," said Tom. "Part of the appeal for this [job] is that I could get in on the ground floor [and] help lay a solid foundation for years to come. That's not to say that the foundation isn't there already ... there are many Guardsmen who have been successfully flying RPA for many years, but things always change. We won't be fighting the same way forever."

Tom said that he would be there to prepare Airmen for what's next, and to help instructors spread the good word when the time comes.

USAF and RJAF increase capabilities through friendly competition

by Capt. Kinder Blacke
140th Wing Public Affairs


7/9/2013 - NORTHERN JORDAN -- Over the course of two weeks, American and Jordanian airforces came together to train, build relationships and enjoy a little friendly competition as part of the multinational Exercise Eager Lion 2013 June 9 to 20.

Several units from the U.S. and Jordan flew F-16s and F-18s out of a training base in northern Jordan, exchanging best practices and working to minimize the cultural and language barriers that can often pose challenges on the ground and in the air.

The units participating included the Royal Jordanian Air Force's No. 1 and No. 6 Squadrons flying F-16s, the 120th Fighter Squadron from the Colorado Air National Guard flying F-16s, the 112th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from the Ohio Air National Guard flying F-16s, and the VMFA-115 Marine Fighter Attack Squadron from Marine Air Group 50 flying F-18s.

"We did a lot of tactical intercepts, focusing on the basic tactics to determine if someone meets the criteria of being a hostile and then taking simulated missile shots that would be able to take them down," said Lt. Col. Craig Wolf, chief of plans for the 120 FS.

"We worked together on the basic skill set of figuring out who's who, meeting the rules of engagement and employing a weapon against them," he said.

The pilots also conducted defensive counter air training with the Jordanians, so if a hostile aircraft tries to fly into Jordan, they will be able to defend their borders, Wolf said.

This valuable training is accomplished despite the differences in the way each squadron routinely operates.

"There are many differences between us," said Wolf. "The cultural mindset, the operational structure we have in place, how we do our mission scheduling and briefings, etc. is significantly different from how they operate on a daily basis."

Yet in light of all the differences, the Jordanians and Americans manage to find common ground.

"When we're in their country, we try to align our flying schedule with theirs, and adapt to their way of doing things," Wolf said.

Wolf remarked that the training environment in Jordan is of great value to the American pilots.

"We can do things in this airspace that we can hardly do anywhere else; we are able to train as you truly would operate in a combat zone."

While the pilots are training for real world events in the cockpit, the controllers on the ground are also getting valuable training.

"We have been able to fully integrate our flying largely due to the ability of the ground controllers to provide control for everyone flying," said Wolf, "and they've done really well."

The Jordanian ground controllers must be able to communicate in English with anyone in their airspace, whether it's a Jordanian or someone from another nation, an airman, Marine or soldier.

Communication barriers in the air and on the ground are slowly being overcome, especially with the 120th Fighter Squadron. Many members of the 120 FS have become trusted wingmen with the RJAF members since the Colorado National Guard has been partnered with the Kingdom of Jordan for more than 10 years through the State Partnership Program.

"We have been working with the Jordanians for a long time now, both here and back in Colorado" said Wolf, "and we have built lasting relationships that have made accomplishing missions together exponentially easier."

Maj. Ali Shabana, project officer for the RJAF, views that partnership in much the same way.

"When we fly together, we fly as one team," he said. "If an American pilot is the flight lead, the Jordanian pilot will follow his command, and likewise, if a Jordanian pilot is in command of the flight, the American will follow his direction."

This kind of cooperation and relationship building is not only happening in the air, it is seen at all levels of the operation, including in the maintenance hangars and back shops.

Chief Master Sgt. Scott Sechrest, equipment maintenance flight superintendent, 140th Maintenance Squadron, worked closely with RJAF maintainers all week.

"Our ability to work with them side-by-side is outstanding despite the language barrier," he said. "Mechanics are mechanics and even though we don't speak the same language, we were able to understand each other enough to make repairs and work together."

According to Sechrest, the RJAF structure and maintenance aspects are along the same lines as in the U.S., yet the Jordanian maintainers face different challenges because they don't always have the same equipment to work with.

"They do a fantastic job with the assets that they have," Sechrest said, "and they have a lot of ingenuity to make things work even though they may not have all of the parts and supplies that we do."

In addition to maintaining and launching jets with the RJAF maintainers, Sechrest and his crew spent time talking with the Jordanians about everything from medical insurance and family to culture and religious beliefs.

"They were extremely hospitable, friendly and very open-minded," Sechrest said. "They want to learn about other cultures and teach others about their own. They were very curious, in a good way, about our ways of life."

While the members of both nations have been working and training together throughout the course of Eager Lion, they have also enjoyed some friendly competition in a series of competitive events, previously referred to as "Falcon Air Meet."

The competition kicked off on June 9 with an opening ceremony followed by a munitions loading competition. A three-person team from both the 120 FS and the RJAF went head-to-head to see who could safely load one AIM-120 air-to-air missile and one BDU-50 inert 500-pound bomb onto an F-16.

"The competition was based on time and safety," said Senior Airman Aric McIntyre, aircraft armament systems technician, 140th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "We were also scored on whether we had any technical data violations, for example if we skipped steps in the check list or touched the missile in the wrong place."

Since this was McIntyre's first time participating in the event, he didn't know quite what to expect.

"I was really laid back until I got there and friends started showing up to cheer us on," he said. "There was a big crowd and we got really nervous, especially after watching the Jordanians because they went so fast!"

Despite the nerves, McIntyre said that once the timer started and the U.S. team got going "instinct just kicked in." Both the Jordanian and American teams finished the competition successfully.

The second event was the scramble competition, which tested the pilot and maintenance crew's ability to quickly and safely launch a jet in response to an airborne threat.

At the signal to begin, the team members run to the jet, complete all the necessary pre-flight safety checks, and start the engines to prepare to taxi onto the runway. Once airborne, the pilot is evaluated on how quickly he can intercept a simulated enemy aircraft.

Capt. Carson Brusch, one of the two pilots who competed from the 120 FS, admitted that the most exciting part of the exercise was being able to take off and leave the jet in afterburner, which they normally don't do during routine flying training.

"We reached 570 knots by the time we were three miles off the departure end," he said, which enabled them to intercept the C-27 playing "red air" in as little time as possible.

Once they reached the suspect aircraft, Brusch identified it from above as hostile and cued his wingman, Capt. James Edwards, to launch a simulated Fox-2 heat-seeking missile at it, completing the evaluated portion of the event.

"It's a great opportunity to be able to fly with the Jordanians because they have great air space with few restrictions," Brusch said. "At home we have altitude caps, whereas here you can climb as high as you want and go as fast as you want within the specified airspace, which makes for greater training opportunities."

The intercept was accomplished as it would be in a combat zone, resulting in extremely practical training for both teams.

The third and final training event was a first run bombing competition, which evaluates the pilots' ability to launch an unguided live bomb onto a specified target on the first pass.

"The first run bombing competition is an extremely important exercise," said Shabana. "In the real world, you need to be able to get the bomb on target on the first try; if you have to make a second pass, you eliminate the element of surprise and put yourself in much greater danger."

During the competition, each pilot took their best shot and the bomb's point of impact was measured for proximity to the specified target.

This event was especially meaningful for the members of the ammunitions teams who build bombs regularly, but most have never actually seen one explode.

"It really helps put our job into perspective when we get to see the bombs that we built actually blow up," said Senior Airman Cinde Yoho, ammunitions technician, 140 MXS.

Finally, scores from each event of the meet were compiled based on evaluation by a white force using very specific measurements and safety criteria. The winners were announced at the closing ceremony at the conclusion of Exercise Eager Lion. The 1st Squadron from the RJAF won two of the three events, but the120th Fighter Squadron won the overall competition.

However, while both teams strived to win, the training that was accomplished during the exercise was far more important than taking home the trophy.

X-47B Makes First Arrested Landing at Sea

  By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brandon Vinson, USS George H.W. Bush Public Affairs
 
USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH, At Sea (NNS) -- The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator completed its first carrier-based arrested landing on board USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) off the coast of Virginia July 10.

"It isn't very often you get a glimpse of the future. Today, those of us aboard USS George H.W. Bush got that chance as we witnessed the X-47B make its first ever arrested landing aboard an aircraft carrier," said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. "The operational unmanned aircraft soon to be developed have the opportunity to radically change the way presence and combat power are delivered from our aircraft carriers."

Today's demonstration was the first time a tailless, unmanned autonomous aircraft landed on a modern aircraft carrier.

This test marks an historic event for naval aviation that Navy leaders believe will impact the way the Navy integrates manned and unmanned aircraft on the carrier flight deck in the future.

"Today we witnessed the capstone moment for the Navy UCAS program as the team flawlessly performed integrated carrier operations aboard USS George H.W. Bush with the X-47B aircraft," said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy UCAS Program Manager. "Our precision landing performance, advanced autonomous flight controls and digital carrier air traffic control environment are a testament to the innovation and technical excellence of the Navy and Northrop Grumman team."

The July 10 landing was the beginning of the final part of three at-sea test periods for X-47B during the last eight months, culminating a decade of Navy unmanned integration efforts that show the Navy's readiness to move forward with unmanned carrier aviation says Rear Adm. Mat Winter, who oversees the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons in Patuxent River, Md.

"This demonstration has enabled us to merge industry and government technologies together which will enable the U.S. Navy to pursue future unmanned aviation carrier capabilities," said Winter, who witnessed the historic landing. "The government engineering and testing team in partnership with our Northrop Grumman team members have matured the technologies in this X-47B system to position us for today's event, which marks a milestone in naval aviation."

During today's testing, the X-47B completed the 35-minute transit from Pax River to the carrier and caught the 3 wire with the aircraft's tailhook. The arrested landing effectively brought the aircraft from approximately 145 knots to stop in less than 350 feet.

Shortly after the initial landing, the aircraft was launched off the ship using the carrier's catapult. The X-47B then proceeded to execute one more arrested landing.

On the third approach to Bush the X-47B aircraft self detected a navigation computer anomaly that required the air vehicle to transit to the assigned shore based divert landing site, Wallops Island Air Field. The X-47B navigated to and landed without incident.

"We have been using the same [carrier] landing technology for more than 50 years now and the idea that we can take a large UAV and operate in that environment is fascinating," said Engdahl.

"Across the entire spectrum of military operations, an integrated force of manned and unmanned platforms is the future," said Ray Mabus. "The X-47B's autonomous arrested landing aboard USS George H.W. Bush shows how the Navy and Marine Corps are riding the bow wave of technological advances to create this 21st century force."

The X-47B spent several weeks aboard aircraft carriers in recent months. The Navy UCAS program successfully completed CVN deck operations aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in December 2012 and aboard Bush in May. During the May underway period, the X-47B completed its first-ever catapult launch. Since May, the integrated test team conducted a number of shore-based arrestments at Pax River in preparation for the demonstration aboard the ship.

"We have learned a lot from our flight deck operations, our shore-based flight test and extensive modeling and simulation," Engdahl added. "Our team has executed all major program objectives and developed the concept of operations and demonstrated technologies for a future unmanned carrier-based aircraft capability. [Today] we have proven we can seamlessly integrate unmanned systems into the carrier environment."

"We have certainly come a long way in the 102 years since Eugene Ely made the first arrested landing aboard an aircraft carrier. Naval aviators have always been at the forefront of operational and tactical innovation, and today was no exception," said Mabus. "People make unmanned aviation possible and it is people who will provide the fresh thinking and new ideas so crucial to successes like the X-47B program and the unmanned aircraft of the future."

Bombers, recon, bombers and missiles

by Tech. Sgt. Mark Bell
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs


7/10/2013 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- A long time ago, in an era far, far away, while the Nazi empire led by Adolf Hitler was taking hold of neighboring countries by force, the allies were preparing for war to stop them.

The 91st Bombardment Group initially stood up in April 1942, just six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor and Germany's declaration of war against the United States. The group was assigned to the Eighth Air Force and it began flying B-17 missions on German targets in November 1942.

At the height of its strength and power, the Luftwaffe inflicted heavy losses on the 91st BG during their first two years of combat operations.

Eighth Air Force's 91st BG was known for being the home of the Memphis Belle. The Belle and her crew earned fame after being one of the first to complete 25 bombing missions over Europe, and she was the first to be sent back to the United States.

The number of missions required to return home was later increased to 40, as allied fighter protection improved, leading to the Luftwaffe's decimation.

By the end of June 1945, nearly all of the 91st BG assets had returned stateside. The group was inactivated in November of that year.

In the later months of 1947, the 91st BG was reactivated and redesigned the 91st Reconnaissance Group assigned to the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. The wing only existed on paper in 1947, but in 1948 it activated at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., under Strategic Air Command.

Its mission now was to fly global strategic reconnaissance missions focusing on aerial mapping and photography.

In World War II, groups were the primary combat element in the Air Force. They had all the people and functions that wings have today. The Air Force decided that they would change the structure of units and their purpose, and the combat-group structure was phased out.

The wings eventually became the primary combat element in the Air Force. Headquarters AF inactivated the strategic reconnaissance groups in SAC and assigned the squadrons directly to the wing.

Aviation technology was rapidly changing, and the Air Force needed to change with it. In WWII the aircraft were relatively simple, and the maintenance personnel belonged to the flying squadrons.

Fast forward to the introduction of jet aviation and suddenly there was a need for more personnel, which meant more squadrons. According to Daniel DeForest, 91st Missile Wing historian, newer technology required a wider range of expertise, like specialized engine mechanics and fuels technicians.

"There was still a mission for the commands in the Air Force at the time, everyone still had their specific rolls to play, SAC just reorganized the way it was done," said DeForest.

The history of the 91st BG transcended its Air Force designator when the 91st SRW stood up and essentially absorbed the group. At their inception, the wings had no heritage or history of their own. They were shells that would be filled by the group's assets and personnel.

"The Air Force took the like-numbered groups and wings, melding the two together, bestowing the lineage and honors of the WWII groups on the new wings," said DeForest.

In 1949 the lineage of the 91st moved to Barksdale AFB, La., and began flying reconnaissance missions, updating maps and assisting disaster relief agencies with aerial imagery.

When the Korean War began in 1950, the wing sent the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, equipped with RB-29s and a detachment of three RB-45Cs, to fly reconnaissance missions over Korea, including aerial mapping missions over the Sea of Japan. The detachment remained in Korea until the end of the conflict. The squadron was reassigned to another wing before the war was over.

The 91st made history again in 1951 by being the first to refuel a bomber, an RB-45C aircraft, in the air under combat conditions.

Stories of the 91st lineage and its wing, group and squadrons are plentiful, but let's fast forward to Nov. 8, 1957, the day the 91st SRW was inactivated after eight years of service.

After the Vietnam conflict began and after almost exactly five years of inactivity, the sleeping giant awoke as the 91st Bombardment Wing based out of the now deactivated Glasgow AFB, Mont.

Subsequently, the 91st BW then played an important role in Vietnam by deploying the majority of the wing and its B-52 and KC-135 aircraft in 1966 and again in 1968, explained DeForest. They bombed North Vietnamese transportation routes using B-52Ds, while supporting ground forces with more than 1,000 combat sorties he added.

In June 1968, SAC moved to close Glasgow AFB, and the decision was made to redesignate the 91st Bombardment Group as the 91st Strategic Missile Wing, and moved the wing, sans personnel and equipment, to Minot AFB, N.D., replacing the 455th Strategic Missile Wing. In essence, it just moved the name. The wing has been at Minot AFB and has since transferred commands several times, from SAC to Air Combat Command to Air Force Space Command and finally to Air Force Global Strike Command.

While under SAC in 1991, the 91st SMW became the first to make the move to the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, tripling the wing's striking power and America's deterrence. To mix things up some more, in 1997 the Air Force changed the 91st Missile Wing to the 91st Space Wing. Then in 2008, changed again back to the 91st Missile Wing, said DeForest.

In 1992, groups in the Air Force made their comeback after a test period ordered by Headquarters AF. SAC and local commanders disagreed with returning to the group concept, but Air Force leaders still made the change, and shifted the groups under the wings command.

Lines between the WW II group and today's wing heritage gets pretty blurred and not many understand Air Force lineage. The important thing to remember is that the Airmen of the 91st have accomplished great things whether they were assigned to a wing, group, detachment or squadron.

From bombing Axis targets in WWII, to strategic reconnaissance missions during the Korean Conflict and Cold War, to today's never-fail mission of deterrence, the 91st played, and continues to play, a vital role in the defense of our country.

VA-DOD Cooperation Accelerating Claims Handling, Officials Say

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 10, 2013 – Senior officials from the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs assured Congress today that they are closing in on solutions that will alleviate the backlog of veterans’ health benefit claims and streamline processing of current and future claims.

Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, testified along with Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, and Jessica L. Wright, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and witnesses from the Department of Veterans Affairs before the House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees.

While the two departments can read each other’s health records now, Kendall said, “We want to have an improved system from that, where we're not just reading the records, but actually using them and using the data that's provided.”

“We also want to eliminate paper that's currently part of the records that we're sending,” he added, noting that the departments are moving very quickly to accomplish both.

Kendall said DOD is committed to the joint, near-term fielding of fully integrated, seamless health records under the interagency program office. At the same time, he noted, the department will solicit bids for a health care management system.

“The health care management software doesn't just make a record,” he pointed out. “It helps the physicians do their job. And that's a very important reason for us to modernize our systems.”

In a written, joint opening statement submitted for the record, DOD witnesses stated the two departments will work through the calendar year on achieving full interoperability of health data through a series of near-term “accelerator” efforts. These efforts, they said, will result in each service member and veteran having a single, seamless, shared, integrated healthcare record.

“All patients, and the clinicians serving them, will be able to access all of their health data, whether the patient is currently a military member or veteran and treated at a DOD or VA hospital,” according to the statement.

The VA announced in June that an initiative launched in April to expedite disability compensation claims decisions for veterans who have a waited a year or longer had cleared more than 65,000 claims -- 97 percent of all claims over two years old -- from the backlog.

Veterans Benefits Administration staff members are now working to complete the disability claims of veterans who have been waiting more than a year for a decision, VA officials said.

VA officials also noted in June that the department expedites disability claims for homeless veterans, those experiencing extreme financial hardship, the terminally ill, former prisoners of war, Medal of Honor recipients and veterans filing fully developed claims.

Claims for wounded warriors separating from the military for medical reasons are handled separately with DOD through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System. Wounded warriors separating through IDES currently receive VA compensation benefits within an average of 61 days of their separation from service, officials said.

VA’s claims inventory is composed mostly of supplemental claims from veterans already receiving disability compensation who are seeking to address worsening conditions or claim additional disabilities, officials said.

Regardless of the status of compensation claims, they added, veterans who have served in combat since Nov. 11, 1998, are eligible for five years of free medical care from VA for most conditions.

VA witnesses at today’s hearing included Stephen Warren, acting assistant secretary for information and technology, Dr. Robert Petzel, undersecretary for health, and Danny Pummill, deputy undersecretary for benefits.

Warren said DOD and VA have achieved “an unprecedented level of collaboration” to ensure service members can seamlessly transition into veterans.

“Through DOD and VA channels such as the Joint Executive Committee, the Health Executive Committee, the Benefits Executive Committee, independent working groups and the day-to-day work of our respective hardworking employees, our two departments are removing barriers and challenges which impede seamless transition,” he said.

Warren noted the departments share two common goals: “Create a seamless health record integrating VA, DOD and private provider data, and to modernize the software supporting DOD and VA clinicians.”

That modernization will reach full operational capability by the end of 2017, he said, and VA is also “on track to meet our agency priority goal of eliminating the backlog of claims, those pending longer than 125 days, in 2015.”

The total inventory of claims is now below 800,000, he said, and the backlog has been reduced by more than 14 percent from its highest point four months ago.

“For the second month in a row, VA claims processors set production records by completing more claims than in any previous monthly period,” Warren added.

Collaboration efforts are ongoing with DOD to allow VA to receive complete service records, and to receive them electronically for faster and more efficient processing, he said.

DOD agreed in December that the military services will certify that service member's military treatment records are as complete as possible at the point of transition to VA, he said, and by the end of this year VA will receive all service treatment records electronically.

“This will contribute to reducing the time it takes to process future disability claims,” Warren said.
Pummill noted electronic records will greatly add to VA’s flexibility in processing claims.

“That'll put us in a position so that, if a claim comes in from Ohio, it doesn't have to be done ... by a claims person in Ohio,” he said. “When the claim comes in, the next available person anywhere in the country can take that claim and work it because all of the records will be electronic, eliminating the need to mail records around the country.”

He added, “The advent of the Veterans Benefits Management System and the electronic service treatment records that we're going to be receiving from [DOD] … will go a long way to preventing future backlogs and ending this backlog right now.”

Woodson agreed, noting, “Not only will we be able to exchange that information so that it can be read by whomever might need the information in the Veterans Administration system, but it will be computable data.”

Woodson added that DOD and VA staffs have learned that modernizing health care management and health records involves not just technology solutions, but also reengineering business processes.
“I want to thank our VA colleagues,” he said, “because through information-sharing summits and the like, we have illuminated areas where the business processing reengineering needs to occur so that they can take advantage of the technology solutions.”

Kendall told the representatives that while it wasn’t the subject of the hearing, he wanted to make a comment on sequestration.

“I cannot sit before this committee today two days after we started furloughing our employees and not mention sequestration,” he said. About 85 percent of DOD civilian employees will be furloughed one day a week through the end of the fiscal year, a total of 11 days without pay.

“The effects of sequestration are real,” Kendall said. “They're distributed all across the department. They are not dramatic in any specific instance, but their cumulative impact is dramatic. And they will have over time, particularly if allowed to continue in [fiscal year 2014], a devastating impact on the department.”

Wright said the furlough won’t affect the pace of claims processing.

“Yes, furloughs are real,” she said. “Yes, they're damning. But we have kind of locked [claims processing] down as hugely important and we're putting a full-court press on it.”

AMC chief visits Dover AFB

by Airman 1st Class Ashlin Federick
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


7/10/2013 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del.  -- Chief Master Sgt. Richard A. Kaiser, Air Mobility Command command chief, visited the Airman Leadership School Class 13-F July 9, 2013, here to speak about the importance of leadership.

Kaiser said the most important role in the Air Force are first line supervisors because they are responsible their jobs, and with the individual lives and development of their Airmen. He said this is a huge task the Air Force is asking young staff sergeants to do.

"You take people that have come out of the American population, gone through a training process and are now at their first duty station and you are in charge of their development and technical experience as well as their growth as Airmen," said Kaiser. "As important as it is for our Airmen, of whatever rank, to be technical experts your job is to really focus on how you can help your personnel to become better Airmen."

One of the students asked Kaiser, aside from professional development what would he recommend for Airmen and noncommissioned officers to reach his rank.

Kaiser said a humble spirit and the desire to be better is necessary. It is not about self focus but how an Airman can be better at serving others.

"To me it is how can I be a better person, husband, dad, grandpa and how can I be a better Airman tomorrow than I am today?" said Kaiser. "While I am thankful for whatever level of career success that I have had, I think it is also to never be quite satisfied with where you are at."

Senior Airman Darlene Zepp, 436th Maintenance Squadron unit deployment manager, said she was very inspired by Kaiser because he offered a lot of great information.

"He makes me want to become a better NCO when I finally get the chance," said Zepp.

Kaiser said one quality every supervisor needs is to genuinely care for all Airmen.

"If you really care about them, you are going to want to see them succeed and you are going to do those difficult things in order to help them get to that next level," said Kaiser.