Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mobility leaders pay tribute to former a Air Mobility commander

by Staff Sgt. Amber R. Kelly-Herard
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

7/11/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- Air Mobility Command lost one of its own, Gen. Robert L. Rutherford, July 4, of natural causes at the age of 74 in San Antonio, Texas.

"It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of Gen. Rutherford," said Gen. Paul J. Selva, AMC commander. "'Skip' took our business very seriously and his Airmen executed that way."

Rutherford became AMC's third commander Oct. 18, 1994 and U.S. Transportation Command's commander in chief in what was a dual-hatted position at the time.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Kita, their two sons, and the rest of their family," said Selva.

"General Rutherford served as our commander during a pivotal time, helping reengineer the Defense Transportation System following Desert Storm," said Gen. Will Fraser, III, USTRANSCOM commander. "His ideas and leadership built the command that has so robustly supported the Global War on Terror following the 9/11 attacks - indeed, the command you know today."

"You will recall that this headquarters was set up to do two things," said Rutherford before retiring Aug. 1, 1996, after 35 years of service. "No. 1, to plan and No. 2, to execute."

Rutherford also directed USTRANSCOM's involvement in humanitarian missions in places including Rwanda, Bangladesh and Croatia.

"Airlift is essential because it provides credible power projection and through that projection, capable deterrence," said Rutherford in a speech at the Air Force Association National Symposium held Oct. 27, 1995, in Los Angeles. "Should deterrence fail, airlift is the critical factor in delivering forces and providing warfighting capability.

'I'm very fond of telling my fellow compatriots you can't leave home without us," he continued. "Without sufficient lift, forces can't deploy to the theater in time to fight and they cannot be sustained."

James Matthews, USTRANSCOM Research Center director when the general retired, said Rutherford's theme for his command was increased efficiency to USTRANSCOM, its component commands and the Defense Transportation System without decreasing the command's effectiveness to fight war.

Under Rutherford's command, USTRANSCOM flew more than 4,000 missions delivering more than 24,000 passengers and 64,000 tons of cargo while moving another 400,000 square feet of surface cargo for operations including Desert Storm, Provide Comfort, Sea Signal, Provide Promise, Able Sentry, Uphold Democracy, Assured Response and Joint Endeavor.

"This is a great loss to the Mobility community," said Selva. "Know that the work we do each day in AMC pays tribute to the legacy Gen. Rutherford helped create."

Rutherford also held the position as Military Airlift Command vice commander from May 1991 to May 1992.

Rutherford entered the Air Force in 1961 as a distinguished graduate of the Southwest Texas State University ROTC program.

He was a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours in the T-37, T-38, F-4, F-15, F-16,. F-111, C-5, C-130, C-135 and C-141.

A graveside service will be held July 15 at Fort Sam Houston Cemetery at 10 a.m. with a celebration to follow at Spring Creek United Methodist Church in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, at noon.

Altus AFB lends hand to community in local fire

by 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

7/11/2013 - ALTUS, Okla.  -- Altus Air Force Base fire department personnel responded to a local fire July 8 at the Apple Creek Apartments in the City of Altus.

The fire engulfed 16 apartment units and displaced a total of 19 people. The City of Altus, Altus AFB, Blair and Friendship fire departments responded in a combined effort to ensure the safety of personnel and extinguish the fire. Prior to their arrival, apartment residents worked together to evacuate the building. No injuries or fatalities were reported.

"The prompt response and teamwork displayed by all the community fire departments and our Wing's firefighters was truly impressive," said Col. Bill Spangenthal, 97th Air Mobility Wing commander. "These emergency responders should all be very proud of their efforts which ensured the safety of the apartment residents."

Nine Altus AFB personnel, including seven Airmen and two civilian employees, lost their homes in the fire. One of the Airmen has two dependents. Immediately following this unfortunate incident, the base and local community quickly fashioned numerous support avenues to include: welcoming donations to Operation Homefront and Operation Warm Heart; Airman and Family Readiness Center financial counseling; and donations from the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, local churches and commissary vendors. The central location for all community donations, both monetary and other supplies, is the Apple Creek Apartments management office.

Continued efforts are in place to ensure long-term support for the fire victims, to include Airmen, civilian employees and members of the community, whose possessions were destroyed.

Donations to Apple Creek Apartments can be delivered to 1501 S. Park Lane in Altus. To donate to the base's Operation Warm Heart call 580-481-7700. To donate to Operation Homefront Oklahoma call 580-581-0772 or visit

Fanning makes first visit to Nellis, Creech

by Airman 1st Class Joshua Kleinholz
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

7/10/2013 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning visited Airmen here and at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., July 8 as part of his first round of base visits since assuming the position in June.

Fanning was confirmed as the 24th Under Secretary of the Air Force in April and took on the additional role of acting SecAF after Michael B. Donley retired just two months later.

"I wanted to come here first because of all the things that you do," Fanning said. "All of the training that goes on out here, the variety of Air Force components, and the impact each has on operations are in this one place. You are the reason why the adversary is afraid of the United States Air Force. And it's an honor to be here."

Fanning met with leaders of various base organizations including the United States Air Force Warfare Center, the U.S. Air Force Weapons School and the 414th Combat Training Squadron during his day-long visit. Fanning was updated on the progress and priorities of each organization and received information about ongoing programs like the F-35 Lightning II.

An all call was held in a Nellis AFB aircraft hangar, giving Fanning an opportunity to speak directly with more than 950 Airmen about current Air Force priorities and field individual questions from service members. The majority of the discussion revolved around pressing subjects like sequestration, the 2015 budget and sexual assault prevention.

"My immediate priority for the Air Force will be trying to figure out the budget situation," Fanning said.

Now that he's assumed the full responsibilities of the SecAF position, he'll be expected to oversee the branch's more than $110 billion annual budget.

"We're still trying to pitch to Capitol Hill a nonsequester budget and create a new stability," he said.

Also among his top priorities will be changes to management and the reorganization of the Air Force's upper level decision making processes. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel issued clear guidance to military leaders looking to reduce headquarters footprints throughout the military in efforts to streamline acquisitions methods.

"To achieve that is going to take some pretty substantial reorganization, but I look at it as an opportunity to create a leaner, more agile decision-making process for the Air Force." Fanning said.

Though Fanning is relatively new to Air Force management, he's no stranger in Washington, D.C. He brings to the position more than 20 years of experience in the national security world, working in various positions at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and defense think tanks.

"I don't know that you can ever feel completely prepared to take on the role of the SecAF," Fanning said of his transition.

Upon his confirmation as under secretary, Fanning was informed of Michael Donley's impending retirement and spent his first two months preparing to assume the position Donley held for five years.

"I've had a long time to think about it; about what the role meant, and how I would go about it," Fanning said.

After answering questions from Airmen attending the Nellis All Call, the acting secretary made the 50- mile trip to Creech AFB to enjoy lunch with Airmen and learn more about the base's remotely piloted aircraft capabilities.

At the end of the day, Fanning was left impressed by the level of work being done by Airmen at Nellis and Creech AFBs in a challenging fiscal environment.

"My introduction to Airmen over the last three months has been amazing," Fanning said. "Our greatest asset is our people."

Air Force firefighting aircraft repositioned

by Lt. Col. Robert Carver
2013 Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

7/11/2013 - BOISE, Idaho (AFNS) -- The U.S. Forest Service, through the National Interagency Fire Center here, has directed the repositioning of military Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System aircraft from Colorado Springs, Colo., to Mesa, Ariz.

"The weather and progress on the ground have helped us in the Four Corners region," said Col. Charles D. Davis III, the commander of the AirExpeditionary Group (Provisional) - Wildland Fire Fighting. "By (July 3), we plan to have relocated all four airplanes and their crews to Arizona."

One MAFFS aircraft departed Colorado Springs to drop fire retardant on the Dean Peak fire, a wildland blaze burning east of Kingman, Ariz., in an effort to draw suppression lines and help contain the fire.

All four MAFFS aircraft will operate from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway. Two aircraft are from the Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing, and two are from the California Air National Guard. MAFFS-equipped aircraft from the 153rd AW, Wyo. ANG and the 145th AW, N.C. ANG are scheduled to replace the Colorado and California wings July 7 and 8 respectively.

"The relocation of the MAFFS resources does not mean MAFFS aircraft will be unavailable should they be needed in the region again if the USFS determines that is necessary," Davis said.

Four additional MAFFS-capable C-130s are operated by Air National Guard units in North Carolina and Wyoming and can be called on if needed. [this may need to be taken out] MAFFS initially activated June 11 to assist in fighting forest fires in Southern Colorado after USFS officials sent a request for assistance to the Department of Defense though U.S. Northern Command. USFS requested two additional MAFFS tankers June 21. Since activating, MAFFS aircraft have made 70 drops on Colorado and Arizona fires using some 190,000 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.

Following USFS lead planes, military aircrews can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant from the MAFFS modules along the leading edge of a forest 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 USFS. The military AEG exercises control over MAFFS resources at the direction of the USFS.

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

The Colorado- and California-based units are currently activated.

Air Force Reserve MAFFS C-130s, crews back in Colorado

by Master Sgt. Daniel Butterfield
302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

7/11/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) -- Aircrews, maintainers and two Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System-equipped C-130 aircraft assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing returned here July 7 after supporting aerial fire fighting operations for five days at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, Ariz.

The 302nd AW MAFFS teams have been activated since June 11, when they were requested by the U.S. Forest Service to assist with fires in the Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions. This activation included multiple drops of retardant on the Black Forest Fire outside of Colorado Springs, Colo.

As part of the scheduled monthly MAFFS rotations, the 302nd MAFFS-equipped aircraft and crews, along with aircraft from the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard were relieved in Arizona by the two other MAFFS wings, the 153rd AW, Wyoming Air National Guard, and the 145th AW, North Carolina Air National Guard.

The stand-down is welcome as there were very few days off since the activation. With the increased activity of the wildland fires, it typically meant a twelve-hour shift most days.

"Some were busier than others, I was on the first week, then had a few days off, then came back on the 26th and did about twelve days between here and Arizona. A couple of folks were in the same boat," said Lt. Col. Brad Ross, a MAFFS aircraft commander and instructor pilot with the 302nd AW.

While the aircrews were working long hours, they were not the only ones. The 302nd Maintenance Group, 39th Aerial Port Squadron, and 731st Airlift Squadron loadmasters had some new requirements this year that increased their workload which made for longer days.

"The maintainers have been great. They've had some additional challenges put on them as a result of new inspection requirements. With help from APS and the loadmasters, they've taken the MAFFS units off the airplanes and put onto new airplanes so they could accomplish the inspection. They did that in a very minimal amount of time. There were some long days for those guys," said Ross.

And while now is "downtime" for the 302nd AW MAFFS crews fire fighting portion of their mission, the thought of wildfires are not forgotten. They still keep up with what is happening around the country.

"Every couple of days I'll look at the [National Interagency Fire Center] website to see if there are new fire activities in the country and what the active areas are. I want to get a picture to see if they might request further assistance," said Ross. "It becomes a long summer when we are going nonstop. I think most people enjoy the mission and want to keep involved with it, but at the same time their civilian job is back here. It's good to get back and take a little time off. But for the most part I think we are all ready and willing to go back when we are needed."

During the 2013 firefighting season, that began June 11, MAFFS aircrews have made 88 drops with more than 240,000 gallons of retardant total as of July 9.