Monday, July 15, 2013

ARPC receives Air Force Organizational Excellence Award

by Maj. Lennea Montandon
Air Reserve Personnel Center Public Affairs

7/15/2013 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Headquarters, Air Reserve Personnel Center was recently awarded the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award for exceptionally meritorious service from Oct. 1, 2010 to Sept. 30, 2012.

During this period, the center's strategic vision, new information technology system support and integrated solutions for the Air Force and Air Reserve communities provided for more efficient support to nearly 1 million Guard and Reserve members, retirees, and their families.

"Congratulations to the innovative civilians and military members on the ARPC team," said Brig. Gen. Jay Flournoy, ARPC commander. "From an efficient headquarters transfer to the implementation and improvement of programs like e-BOSS and vPC-GR, our customers saw minimal interruption in service and today have access to more user friendly systems."

Members assigned to ARPC during the award period are authorized to wear the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award ribbon on their "blues" uniforms, and civilians are authorized to wear the pin. The 460th Military Personnel Section Force Support Squadron and civilian personnel will load the award for affected members, who can later go into myPers to verify the award is in the system.

ARPC's mission is to ensure members are ready to provide total force war-fighting capability for the Air Force and provide Guard and Reserve members with support from entry to retirement. Customer service is paramount at ARPC.

One critical branch most members will come into contact with is the Points Management Branch where representatives, like Nanina Baldwin, build records and service histories for enlisted members and officers transferring into the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve. During the award period, the branch created more than 7,000 new records within four months of a member entering the Guard or Reserve.

Baldwin has focused solely on officer records for the past nine years and assisted nearly 2,000 officers a year. She pours through various systems to find supporting documentation and verifies critical dates and points are entered correctly. Some cases can take hours to research.

"The process can get complicated, especially for members who've also served in other branches of service," Baldwin said. "If the member is missing documents or something doesn't seem correct, we often coordinate with our contacts in the other services to get supporting records."

She has also educated members and helped find solutions. She worked with individuals who had "bad years" and didn't realize it. A reservist must have 50 points during each retention/retirement year, but if they do not meet that requirement, the year cannot be counted toward retirement. Sometimes it's because the member transferred from a different service and the R/R date may have changed. Also some customers may not have been educated on how the R/R year process works. Baldwin recommends reservists check their points at least once a year in Virtual Military Personnel Flight or Virtual Personnel Center- Guard Reserve or call ARPC's Total Force Service Center-Aurora.

Computer systems were also changed and improved upon for ease of use.

A new automated case management system allowed ARPC representatives to access multiple personnel systems and answer questions electronically from customers requesting help through vPC-GR and myPers.

"It has greatly reduced the amount of paperwork, cut down on response time and has allowed for better tracking," explained Mark Williams, deputy director of Future Operations and Integration.

The Electronic Board Operations Support System was also brought online during this period for use during promotion boards. e-BOSS is a system that automated all officer records, saving man hours and money. The system allows promotion board members to pull-up records on their screen and score each officer's record electronically.

Finally, during the award period, ARPC moved 400 employees from the former Lowry AFB to Buckley AFB over a weekend with no interruption of customer service. Future Operations and Integration carefully planned the IT move, accounting for every detail.

"We were like a surgical team," said Williams, when explaining the process.

The entire move took only 90 minutes, and ARPC was serving customers the following Monday.

Maj. Susan Murphy, Promotion Eligibility Division chief, worked with each of the branches to put together the award package. She was impressed by the assistance offered by ARPC, from documentation for the Post 9-11 GI bill benefits to the design of the Reduced Retired Pay Age vPC-GR application and work done in retirements.

"Writing the award package for ARPC was a rewarding experience. It was amazing to capture how much the center has accomplished and is still accomplishing regarding transformational improvements, technological advancements, and our premier customer service actions," she said.

The Air Force Personnel Center website describes the Air Force Organizational Unit Award as recognizing the accomplishments of unique internal organizations that perform functions normally done by numbered wings, groups, and squadrons. ARPC is a direct reporting unit of Air Force Reserve Command with technical and policy guidance provided by the Chief of Air Force Reserve.

Combat Air Forces to resume flying

7/15/2013 - JOINT BASE LANGELY-EUSTIS, Va. (AFNS) -- Combat Air Forces, or CAF, units from multiple commands began flying again today after many stopped flying in April of this year due to sequestration.

The restored flying hour program represents $208 million of the $1.8 billion reprogramming allocation authorized by Congress. The money reinstates critical training and test operations for the CAF fleet across the Air Force for the remainder of fiscal 2013. This impacts not just Air Combat Command units, but also CAF units assigned to United States Air Forces Europe and Pacific Air Forces.

For ACC, the restored flying hours will be allocated to combat aircraft and crews across the command's operational and test units, including the Air Warfare Center's Weapons School, Aggressors and the Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team.

While the return to the sky means a return to crucial training and development for pilots, navigators, flight crews, mission crews and maintainers, the leader of the Air Force's CAF fleet cautions that this is the beginning of the process, not the end.

"Since April we've been in a precipitous decline with regard to combat readiness," said Gen. Mike Hostage, the commander of ACC. "Returning to flying is an important first step, but what we have ahead of us is a measured climb to recovery."

"Our country counts on the U.S. Air Force to be there when needed -- in hours or days, not weeks or months," Hostage said. "A fire department doesn't have time to 'spin up' when a fire breaks out, and we don't know where or when the next crisis will break out that will require an immediate Air Force response."

The restoration of flying hours only addresses the next 2 1/2 months of flying up until Oct. 1.

"This decision gets us through the next several months, but not the next several years," Hostage said. "While this paints a clearer picture for the remainder of (fiscal 2013), important questions remain about (fiscal 2014) and beyond. Budget uncertainly makes it difficult to determine whether we'll be able to sustain a fully combat-ready force."

Additionally, the restoration comes at a cost to future capability, including reduced investment in the recapitalization and modernization of the combat fleet, he said.

"We are using investment dollars to pay current operational bills, and that approach is not without risk to our long-term effectiveness," Hostage said. "We can't mortgage our future. America relies on the combat airpower we provide, and we need to be able to continue to deliver it."

(Courtesy of Air Combat Command Public Affairs)

New 1st SOW commander inherits Air Commando legacy

by Senior Airman Joe McFadden
1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

7/3/2013 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla.  -- Before hundreds of Air Commandos, citizens of the Emerald Coast, and static displays of special operations aircraft, Col. William West assumed command of the 1st Special Operations Wing during a change of command ceremony at the Freedom Hangar here, July 3.

Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, presided over the ceremony in which West, former commander of 27th Special Operations Group at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., received the reins of the wing from outgoing commander, Col. Jim Slife.

"A change of command ceremony is as much about recognizing great Airmen, civilians and Air Force families as it is about commanders," Fiel said. "It's an honor for me to recognize the achievements of Colonel Jim Slife and the 1st SOW's dedicated Air Commandos as he relinquishes command and to appoint Colonel Bill West, another extraordinary officer, as your new wing commander."

West now assumes the mantle of the 1st SOW's 36th commander since Col. Phil Cochran headed its ancestor, the 1st Air Commando Group, in 1943. The wing which began by flying wooden Chindit gliders in Burma-Indo-China during World War II is today the Air Force's fourth largest combat wing on one of its most populous installations.

"Since they first took to the air in World War II, they have served with distinction, and the men and women of the 1st SOW continue to serve our nation's call for specialized airpower any time, any place with spectacular results," the general said. "The courage, precision and execution by our modern Air Commandos would make the early pioneers proud."

West, who earned his commission from Texas Tech University, has flown more than 2,400 hours as an instructor and evaluator navigator in the C-141B and AC-130U aircraft. He previously served at Hurlburt Field while assigned to AFSOC Headquarters, the then-16th Special Operations Group, the 1st Special Operations Support Squadron and the 4th Special Operations Squadron during his nearly 24-year Air Force career.

"Colonel West has a wealth of combat leadership experience coupled with a history of providing groundbreaking solutions to tough problems," Fiel said. "Bill, you are a proven leader, and I am extremely confident in the future of the 1st SOW as you assume command today of this elite, combat-ready unit and continue to take the fight to our nation's enemies."

In his first address to the 1st SOW as its commander, West remarked on the journey he took as one who attended previous wing changes of command here as a spectator to now being the present commander on the stage receiving the guidon.

"Words cannot convey what an honor it is to stand up here and take command of this wing," West said. "It's very humbling. General Fiel, thank you for the trust and confidence you have put in me to command this wing. I will not let you down."

West then thanked the wing for their professionalism and emphasized a renewed focus on training and responsiveness in times of uncertainty.

"To the men and women of the 1st SOW, I recently had the privilege of deploying with you in Afghanistan, and I was absolutely impressed. You should be proud of your combat performance," he said. "Now that we have this historic time as we have most, though not all, of the wing home for the first time in over a decade, we're going to take advantage of this opportunity and refocus on training so we're prepared to go back to Afghanistan and so we can maintain that high state of readiness that you are at right now to respond to crises when our nation calls any time, any place."

Slife, who was awarded the Legion of Merit during the ceremony, lauded the men and women who comprise the wing he commanded since June 2011.

Since then, the 1st SOW accumulated 25,446 combat sorties in support of joint and allied special operations missions around the world. The wing additionally earned an "Excellent" rating on its first Consolidated Unit Inspection, oversaw the transfer of its units on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., back to Hurlburt Field and the first full return of flying squadrons from deployment since 9/11.

"I could not be any prouder of the wing," Slife said. "This team is the best in the United States Air Force. It has been a highlight of my life to be your commander, and I would do it again - any time, any place. The wing could not be passed to a better commander than Colonel Bill West. I walk away from here with my head held high and absolute confidence that this wing is going to far surpass anything it's ever done in the past now under Colonel West's leadership."

Slife, who was selected for promotion to brigadier general, is being assigned to MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

Dyess Father participates in stepdaughter's enlistment ceremony at Texas Rangers ballgame

by Senior Airman Cierra Presentado
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

7/15/2013 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- From generation to generation, Tech. Sgt. Craig Cooper is keeping the military tradition in his family.

Cooper, a third generation Airman, always knew what he wanted to do with his life.

Growing up, Cooper was always surrounded by military members. Not only has he followed in his family's footsteps, but now his step daughters are following his. Cooper's stepdaughters, Elizabeth, who will join the Air Force and Katherine, who will join the Navy, will continue that family tradition.

"My dad and grandpa played a big part in my decision making, both of them served in the Air Force retiring at chief master sergeant," Cooper said. "The commitment and willingness to devote my life to something so special means a lot to me."

During the Fourth of July weekend, Cooper got the opportunity to witness a fourth generation take the oath of enlistment at a baseball game. The Texas Rangers provided that opportunity during their annual enlistment ceremony for Air Force recruits around Texas. Cooper and his daughter Katherine were there to support Elizabeth during the ceremony.

"I was excited to be a part of the event," Cooper said. "It was a great opportunity to have both my daughters supporting each other."

When asked about her career, Elizabeth said her inspiration came from her stepfather.

"Watching my stepfather serve in the Air Force inspired me to join," said Elizabeth, who is currently in the delayed entry program and graduates high school next year.

Cooper's other daughter, Katherine, who leaves for Navy Basic Training in just two weeks, took a different path from her sister, but still wanted to serve.

"I decided to join the Navy because I really like what they have to offer," said Katherine, a recent graduate of Abilene High School, Texas.

Cooper said he is proud of both his daughter's choices.

"I gave them options, but ultimately they made the decision to serve their country," Cooper said.

With one leaving for basic military training this month and the other leaving in 2014, Cooper said he has nothing but positive hopes for his daughters.

"I'm enjoying my time in the military, and I only hope my girls will enjoy it as I have," Cooper said. "They are wonderful young women with a great future ahead of them, I know they will succeed at whatever they do."

Innovation extends ORS-1's life, mission

by Scott Prater
Schriever Sentinel

7/12/2013 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- The Operationally Responsive Space-1 satellite launched June 29, 2011 and has been a star Air Force performer since its first day on orbit. As members of the 1st and 7th Space Operations Squadrons celebrated the spacecraft's second birthday this week, they couldn't help but imagine years three and four.

"This is a great time to recognize all of ORS-1's accomplishments, but we're not looking to rest right now," said Lt. Col. Toby Doran, 1 SOPS commander. "We're focused on continuing to push innovation and the utility of this system."

The vehicle has earned numerous awards from the scientific community thus far. It was named one of the top 25 most important concepts by C4ISR Journal, an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance industry magazine, and the 2012 Mission Sustainment Integrated Product Team award from the Association of Old Crows, an association that advocates for electronic warfare, information operations and cyber technology.

Designed as a quick-response and low-cost alternative to traditional satellite systems, ORS-1 differs in several ways, but its primary distinction stems from its birth. It took approximately three years to develop from concept to launch and on-orbit operations, compared to seven years or longer for traditional systems.

Its payload technology was gleaned from a camera first developed for use aboard U2 spy planes decades ago. Contractors attached a larger telescope to the Senior Year Electro-Optical Reconnaissance System-2 camera to give it adequate resolution from orbit.

"It was initially designed to operate for only a year, but 1 and 7 SOPS engineers and operators discovered they could expand the life of the vehicle by pushing it to a higher orbit," said. Lt. Col. Tony Calabrese, 1 SOPS director of operations. "They also found that the higher orbit would not substantially affect the required quality of its images. That action alone extended the life of ORS-1 by three years."

Doran explained that 1 and 7 SOPS, also known as Team 8-Ball, will continue to take innovative steps to prolong the vehicle's life even further, upwards of five times its original lifespan.

For instance, the team informed U.S. Central Command that they could deliver effects on short-notice, urgent, high-priority tasks earlier this year. USCENTCOM responded a short time later when a CH-53 helicopter crashed in a remote location.

"They sent us a message saying they had a helicopter go down," Calabrese said. "They gave us a location and a tasking to get an image and we made a quick turn that exceeded all expectations."

In the meantime, the squadrons also expanded ORS-1 capabilities beyond a single combatant commander.

"We're focusing on the future," Calabrese said. "The vehicle was designed to support CENTCOM, but we recognized it could do so much more. We sent word out to U.S. Pacific and U.S Africa Commands, and reached out through the Joint Functional Component Command directly to combatant commander staffs to let them know we could support their taskings too. All they needed to do was ask."

As a result, ORS-1 now provides effects for PACOM on a regular basis and does so occasionally with AFRICOM and Special Forces commands.

"Our crews in 1 and 7 SOPS understand the effects and impacts we're making around the world," said Capt. Eric Palmer, 1 SOPS Operations Flight commander. "Since getting involved in these ad hoc tasks, our members have come to work even more excited. We know we are making an impact; we're innovating and asking for more. There's a lot of pride and sense of job satisfaction."

Doran inferred that the point behind the Team 8-Ball anniversary ceremony was to acknowledge ORS-1's success, but more importantly, announce their intent to focus on future capability and performance.

"Hopefully, we can provide effects to all combatant commanders," Doran said. "Team 8-Ball is demonstrating that Airmen, military, civilian and contractors can take systems and make them incredibly powerful."

Exercise Talisman Saber 2013 begins

7/15/2013 - Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii -- More than 28,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and women will be taking to the sea, land and sky in northern Australia as part of Exercise Talisman Saber 2013.

Talisman Saber is a biennial training activity jointly sponsored by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Joint Operations Command and the US Pacific Command to train the United States 7th Fleet and Australian Deployable Joint Headquarters staffs as a designated Combined Task Force.

Australian Talisman Saber 2013 spokesman Brigadier Bob Brown, said the training activity would see US and Australian forces mobilise to react to a fictional scenario.

"The scenario will be a peace enforcement mission, that sets the conditions for the task force to hand over to a United Nations peacekeeping force," Brigadier Brown said.

"The forces will operate in military training areas in central and south-east Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Coral, Timor and Arafura seas. Shoalwater Bay Training Area will be used predominantly, with a large staging area at Defence Base Rockhampton.

"This year Talisman Saber sees further practice and progression of Defence's emerging amphibious capability. The exercise will be the third block of training for the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment's Amphibious Ready Element Landing Force.

"Talisman Saber is a unique and invaluable opportunity to exercise combined and joint Defence capability between Australia and the US.

"As with the previous Talisman Saber exercises, this activity is a major undertaking reflecting the Australian and US alliance and the strength of the military-to-military relationship," Brigadier Brown said.

Approximately 21,000 US and 7000 Australian Defence Force personnel will be involved in the exercise, along with other Australian Government agencies including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, AusAID, Australian Federal Police, and Australian Civil-Military Centre.

The ADF has conducted a full environmental impact assessment on the Shoalwater Bay region and strong measures have been put in place for participants to respect and protect the marine environment.

Talisman Saber 2013 runs from 15 July until 6 August 2013.

Raptor drill time

by Fighter Group Public Affairs

7/15/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- F-22 Raptors assigned to the 3rd Wing fly over Alaska during the Reserve unit training assembly weekend July 13. The Raptors were flown by Reserve pilots assigned to the 302nd Fighter Squadron during the 477th Fighter Group's monthly training weekend. During the week the 477th Fighter Group, Alaska's only Reserve unit, integrates with the active duty 3rd Wing.

First of its kind Airman Resilience Center opens at Altus AFB

by Senior Airman Kenneth W. Norman
97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

7/11/2013 - ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- A ribbon cutting ceremony was held June 11, 2013 to celebrate the grand opening of the Airman Resilience Center.

The ARC is the first facility of its kind at Altus AFB.

"The ARC includes five classrooms for training use, a theater room, a game room, and an electronic gaming area," said Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Mathe, 97th Air Mobility Wing NCO in charge of chapel operations. "It also includes an interfaith chapel and religious education classrooms for students of all ages. Airmen and their dependents will greatly appreciate the addition of the newly renovated Airman's Attic and food pantry. These areas help sustain our base populace through the challenges of permanent change of stations, furloughs and personal tragedies like those experienced recently by members of our community in the apartment fire."

The ARC was the vision of Maj. Trent Davis, 97th AMW chaplain and Mathe.

"We attended the Air Education and Training Command Chaplain Corps Resilience training conference and during a long car ride home the concept of an ARC arose," Mathe said. "The focus of our current Airman Ministry Center seemed too small in our current cost conscious culture. Adding in the Airman's Attic, food pantry, and creating an open environment where Airmen, units, and other base organizations could utilize the ARC's tremendous resources seemed vital to our vision of creating a stronger and more resilient force."

Volunteers spent two weeks helping to make the ARC a viable resource for the entire Altus AFB community.

"A handful of Airmen and family members worked 16-hour days transporting supplies, reorganizing supply closets and the Airman's Attic, and moving furniture," Mathe said. "The Airman's Attic and Airman's Ministry Center have never been more accessible and welcoming to the Altus AFB community."

The ARC is open to all base members and their families.

"The Airman's Attic is organized to assist Airmen, Technical Sgt. and below," Mathe said. "The Airman's Ministry Center is open nightly and on weekends as a resource to assist all single Airmen, Senior Airman and below including our student Airmen, to help build community and support. The food pantry is available to any Airman - civilian, military or family member - that may benefit from immediate subsistence. Finally, the ARC is provided to the entire base populace to encourage better fitness in the four areas of resilience - mental, social, physical and spiritual."

According to Mathe, the ARC houses the Airman's Ministry Center, which supports more than 1,800 students annually through monthly dinners, trips, group studies and community service outings. It is also the center of religious education for both the Catholic and Protestant communities supporting more than 800 classes and 3,400 people each year.

"The base Chapel is committed to supporting the quality life and readiness of our Airmen, students, dependents, and deployers," Mathe said. "With the opening of the Airman's Attic and base food pantry we hope to encourage even more Airmen as life throws them a curve. We believe that by continuously improving fitness in the four areas of resilience, Airmen and their family members reduce the feelings of hopelessness and despair that sometime arise and become healthier, happier, more resilient members better equipped to deal with the rigors of 21st Century military life."

All base members are encouraged to visit the ARC and see what it has to offer.

"It is our hope that organizations and units across the base will want to utilize the ARC for social and training events," Mathe said.

For more information about the ARC or to reserve a room, contact the Chapel at 481-7485.