Military News

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Homestead F-16 upgrades bringing new capabilities

by Ross Tweten
482nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs


7/25/2013 - HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. -- F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 482nd Fighter Wing here are undergoing another round of avionics tweaking that will significantly change the way the wing flies and fights.

Homestead ARB began Software Component Upgrade SCU-8 in their Block-30 F-16s in March. Similar to upgrading to a new operating system on a PC, this eighth-generation version is a comprehensive upgrade that integrates with newer avionics systems such as the Helmet Mounted Integrated Targeting and the Center Display Unit.

F-16s assigned to the 301st FW, Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas, are also undergoing these modifications.

The CDU is a multi-function digital display, akin to a handheld smart tablet. It will replace the cockpit's original analog instruments that provide airspeed, altitude, and aircraft position data, and also provide additional tactical situational awareness to the pilot.

"When fully integrated, the new CDU is going to change the way we do business," said Lt. Col. Adam Meyers, 482nd Fighter Wing Safety chief and F-16 pilot. "Over the years, we've jammed more and more information onto our original cockpit displays, to the point where the pilot can become task-saturated just trying to understand it all. The increased-size display and flexible format of the new CDU will allow us to present even more data in a manner that it becomes knowledge to the pilot instead of just a jumbled mess on a screen."

The CDU's sizable high resolution color display places information in front of the pilot's eye, which reduces the time the pilot's head is down in the cockpit. The CDU also includes information on ground forces.

HMIT, another bonus in the future for Air Force Reserve Command assigned F-16s, drastically reduces the F-16's time to acquire targets. This time reduction ultimately results in increasing the potential of acquiring a high-value target and reducing the potential of the high-value target slipping away.

In the visual arena, pilots typically acquire targets by pointing the aircraft at the target to place it within the heads-up display field of view. This tactic is both time consuming and requires the pilot to maneuver their aircraft closer to the threat. HMIT gives pilots the ability to acquire targets simply by looking at them.

"HMIT gives the pilot the ability to look over his shoulder, at either an airborne or surface target, and cue a weapon against it as quickly as he can move his head," said Myers. "It literally takes the fight out of the cockpit displays and puts it where it should be, outside where it's happening. Targeting pod, radar, weapons - all can be slaved to the helmet without the pilot looking inside. And like the CDU, the HMIT will also display sensor information in a format that will markedly increase pilot situational-awareness while drastically reducing the time to complete the kill chain."

For maintainers, the upgrade process can be challenging because, according to Senior Master Sgt. Jason Pruitt, 482nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron shift supervisor, technical data may not cover all of the nuances of the new software.

"There's also the issue of having to use multiple sources for gaining all the required software and items to accomplish the upgrade," said Pruitt. "But an upgrade this important, with the latest in technology standards, makes it worth the extra trouble."

The expertise needed to complete these upgrades requires roughly five maintenance professionals specializing in their own aspect of the update.

"The F-16 and its avionics are getting more and more complex," said Meyers. "The fact that our aircraft maintainers are able to do what they do and the fact that the jets are more combat-capable now than when first built 25 years ago speaks volumes about the amount of work that they put into the jet."

The F-16 was built to be the low-cost flyer. Upgrades have increased the mission scope of the fly-by-wire fighter since its inception, all in the name of increased capability.

"You get a lot out of the money that you put into the F-16," said Meyers. "Upgrades like these are cost-effective ways of continuing to make the F-16 one of the most relevant airframes in the Nation's inventory. I think the mission effectiveness that we're getting out of the Block 30 indicates that this is an airplane that we're probably going to have around for a while."

While the F-16 community has grown accustom to being at the leading edge of combat capability, the changes it's currently seeing are nevertheless encouraging as the airframe itself solidifies its promise as a low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the U.S.

"It's always an exciting time to be in the F-16 community," said Meyers. "But I think that what we're seeing in SCU-8, and the associated hardware, is probably the biggest single leap forward that we've had in the Block 30, maybe ever."

Maintainers keep edge during sequestration with Gunfighter Challenge

by Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


7/25/2013 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho  -- Airmen built munitions, launched and recovered taxied aircraft, conducted self-aid buddy care drills, and performed fitness challenges as part of a new and improved Gunfighter Challenge at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, July 11-12.

With the sequestration and civilian furloughs continuing to put a strain on personnel, 366th MXG leadership decided to hold the event as a way to raise morale while promoting camaraderie and teamwork within the multiple squadrons.

"We have created two teams and each team includes members from the aircraft maintenance, component maintenance and equipment maintenance squadrons as well as maintenance operations," said Col. James McClellan, 366th MXG commander. "All of the events are centered on our group's mission statement of generating and sustaining combat ready F-15s and maintainers."

While the 389th Fighter Squadron is currently deployed to Southwest Asia, and despite the stand down of the 391st FS, Gunfighter maintainers and aircrew are required to be ready to deploy across the globe when called upon to defend the Nation.

"All of the skills required to accomplish these tasks are pertinent here as well as in a deployed location," McClellan said.

"While we are currently in a reduced ops tempo environment, we could be called upon at any time to execute our mission and defend the Nation's interests," said 1st Lt. Jesse Gariepy, 366th MXG quality assurance officer in charge. "These personnel spent a great deal of time and effort preparing and honing their wartime skills, and we've incorporated many of those skills into competition-based events. It's also a chance to build fellowship between squadrons and get the competitive juices flowing."

Throughout the two-day challenge many personnel took full advantage of the time as a way to get out and have some fun with their fellow Airmen.

"It's great seeing everyone out here having a good time because if we did nothing during this stand down period, our skills would degrade and our effectiveness would diminish. The challenge is a fantastic way to remain sharp and train like we plan to fight," Gariepy said.

Unfortunately, not all personnel were able to participate in this month's challenge.

"I didn't get a chance to be a part of the challenge this month," said Senior Airman Tyrin Rush, 366th AMXS crew chief. "I was able to come out and watch a few of the events like the races and the sandbag carries. Hopefully, next time I will have the opportunity to participate on the aircraft maintenance squadron team."

Services Continue Efforts to Open Combat Jobs for Women

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2013 – The Defense Department continues working toward its goal of ensuring the mission is met with fully qualified and capable personnel, regardless of gender, the Pentagon’s director of officer and enlisted personnel management said here yesterday.

Speaking at a House Armed Services Committee subcommittee hearing on women in service, Juliet Beyler said the services and U.S. Special Operations Command are working with research agencies to review and validate occupational standards.

“The department is proceeding in a measured, deliberate and responsible manner to implement changes that enable service members to serve in any capacity based on their ability and qualifications,” she said. Each service is conducting thorough doctrine, training, education, facilities and policy analyses to ensure deliberate and responsible implementation, she added.

Beyler was joined at the hearing by witnesses from each of the military services and Socom.
“Our goal is to integrate women leaders and soldiers into recently opened positions and units as expeditiously as possible,” said Army Lt. Gen. Howard B. Bromberg, deputy chief of staff for personnel. The first step is to validate the physical and mental performance standards for every military occupation, he said.

From there, a battery of tests will be developed to assess whether recruits are capable of achieving the standards of their potential occupation, said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert E. Milstead Jr., deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs.

Standards ultimately will become gender-neutral, Bromberg said, though training for those standards may be different for men and women. Occupational training in the Marine Corps is gender-mixed, Milstead told the panel, but in recognition of the need to train men and women differently, the transformation from recruit to Marine is gender-segregated.

“Our boot camp is about the transformation of individuals -- men and women -- from being a civilian to being a United States Marine. … They just need different steps as they go,” he said. “They end up in the same place -- they're United States Marines.”

The decision to rescind the 1994 rule excluding women from direct ground combat and combat occupations was announced earlier this year. Then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, directed the military services and Socom to implement the change by Jan. 1, 2016, Beyler said. By September 2015, each service and Socom must review and validate all occupational standards to ensure that they are occupationally and operationally relevant and applied gender-neutrally, she added.

“We have always maintained that our [special operations forces] standards are occupationally specific, operationally relevant and gender-neutral. They are just the standards,” said Army Maj. Gen. Bennet Sacolick, director of force management and development for Socom. “Our review will be a good opportunity to verify this assumption.”

Plans for managing the integration of women into previously closed units and occupations already have been submitted and reviewed by Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and were released last month, Beyler said. Each plan manages positions in two general categories: currently open occupations that previously were restricted by the unit of assignment, and currently closed occupations, such as infantry or armor specialties.

“And each has identified decision points by which they will make final determinations to open occupations and positions or request an exception to policy to keep the position or occupation closed,” Beyler said.

For Socom, the focus is on whether small units, operating near or behind enemy lines, can achieve full integration while maintaining unit readiness, cohesion and morale, Sacolick said.

“Women have been attached to our combat units for several years, part of our cultural support teams, civil affairs, military information support teams, intelligence support and a host of other occupational specialties,” he said. “And they have performed magnificently.”

The Air Force already has more than 99 percent of its positions open to both men and women, said Brig. Gen. Gina M. Grosso, director of force management policy and deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services.

The remaining 4,600 positions are in seven career fields affiliated with special operations and long-range reconnaissance ground combat units. The Air Force is working to open these positions as well, Grosso added.

“[The] Navy expects to have no closed occupations, a very limited number of closed positions, and equal professional opportunity for females in every officer designator and enlisted rating by 2016,” said Navy Rear Adm. Barbara Sweredoski, reserve deputy for military personnel plans and policy.
Exceptions must be personally approved by both the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Beyler said. Opening combat occupations to women will enhance the readiness and combat effectiveness of forces, she added.

“Implementation through 2016 will be an evolutionary process,” she said. “We are committed to opening positions and occupations when and how it makes sense while preserving unit readiness, cohesion and the quality of the all-volunteer force.

“Standards will be uncompromising, established for the task of defending our nation and rooted in carefully analyzed requirements,” she added.

Bromberg said the Army is taking that approach. “We will not sacrifice warfighting capability, the trust of Congress or that of the American people as we seek to enhance force readiness and capability,” he said. “We will select the best-qualified soldiers, regardless of gender, for each job within the Army profession, ensuring our future force capability and readiness.”

Beyler told the House panel that the Defense Department is committed to doing it right.

“We recognize there will be challenges, but we will learn much from each step,” she said. “By addressing issues head-on, capitalizing on lessons learned and through open communication with Congress, we will institutionalize these important changes integrating women into occupations and units in a climate where they can succeed and flourish.”

Pentagon Spokesman: Public Affairs Must Change With Times

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2013 – The Defense Department is facing a once-in-a-generation change, and its public affairs practitioners around the world need to communicate that change clearly, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman said today.

George Little, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, spoke to commissioned, enlisted, civilian and contract employee defense public affairs professionals gathered at the Defense Media Activity’s headquarters on Fort Meade in Maryland. Little’s remarks also were webcast.

“Public affairs is an absolutely critical component of our military and our department,” he said. “We operate in a world so tightly connected that every world event, big or small, can be felt in real time.”
Little noted that thanks to the Internet, social media and smartphones, the walls between citizens, journalists and the military have never been thinner. He challenged his audience to consider three factors that argue for a new approach to public affairs:

-- Changes brought about by war and the media’s evolution;

-- An expanding toolbar of essential skills for public affairs professionals; and

-- Military and civilian defense leaders’ responsibility for effective communication.

Little pointed out that the widespread embedding of reporters in Iraq and Afghanistan forged close bonds between military members and the Fourth Estate. As deployments wind down and the services return to a more garrison-centered public affairs environment, he said, “we must look for new ways to enhance these bonds.”

Little said new approaches should include engaging more with nontraditional journalists such as bloggers and tweeters, who sometimes break news but also may report gossip and rumor.

“We must be constantly listening for new voices on defense issues,” he said, “and develop those relationships as well. … We must engage with anyone and everyone who is interested in what the department is doing. … In order to effectively communicate our message, we must be communicating across all platforms, new and old. By creating richer, more interesting content, we can create a deeper connection with the American public, and nourish the growing news appetite, on our terms.”

Little said DOD’s public affairs professionals have done a stellar job over the past 12 years. In the face of new challenges, he added, they must push themselves to be even better, both in their individual skills and in collaborating as a community.

“We must all think creatively on how best to communicate with the American people. … We must be ready to experiment with new and less expensive ways to connect with the nation,” he said.
In any medium, he added, public affairs professionals must be effective communicators.

“Leave the jargon and acronyms to the planners and operators. … We must communicate with the American public in crisp and memorable lines that deliver a clear and accurate message,” he said.
He urged each member of the workforce he leads to “truly become a student of writing and media.”
Those who excel in the profession, Little said, “are hungry for information. They are always reading articles, journals, fiction, [and] even reading The Duffle Blog and watching ‘The Daily Show.’”

The better that public affairs practitioners understand the media business -- “not just the military media business” -- the better they will be at their jobs and the more successful they will be in communicating with the American people, Little said.

Intellectual curiosity, added to professionalism and craft, provides a basis for sound work in a career that requires an inside-out knowledge of issues, he noted.

Little said some public affairs professionals may think their job largely is simply to link reporters with experts. He disagrees with that notion.

“It’s important for us … to gain a firm grounding in the substance,” Little said. “You must all aim to be experts of your beat, whether it’s the aircraft carrier you’re stationed on, the [forward operating base] where you’re deployed, or the issue that you’re covering in my press ops office.”

Little advised his audience to strive to know more than the reporter who’s asking the questions.

“You must always be willing to be the spokesperson, and to shape the story yourself,” he said. “Part of the job in public affairs is to provide context -- [to] help the public understand what we are doing, and why we are doing it, and how it fits into our larger strategy. … Expanding our reach is meaningless if we are not explaining our issues in a clear way, and in terms the public can understand.”

Since they are a strategic resource for their commanders and senior civilian leaders, Little said, public affairs officers must maintain a close and trusted position, “helping your leadership navigate a complex media landscape and an equally complex set of issues surrounding national security.”

Little said commanders must be open and honest with the media. The department can’t hide bad news stories, he noted.

“When bad things happen, the American people should hear it from us, not as a scoop on the Drudge Report,” he said.

This requires all commanders to be open and honest with the press and to rely on their public affairs officer’s strategic advice in developing communication strategies, Little said. Commanders also bear some responsibility for community outreach, he added, calling military-civilian interaction a key component of long-term public affairs planning.
“No matter what the issue -- veterans or the budget, personnel or weapons systems -- we must engage the public through all channels, … not only with the press, but also with community leaders and stakeholders, to deliver our message as many ways as possible,” he said.
While public affairs work will become more difficult as the department grapples with funding issues and conflicting priorities, he said, the public affairs community has a duty to provide Americans with clear, accurate and timely information.
“We are going to have to be a steady hand at the helm through some rough waters,” Little said. “I’m confident we can rise to meet this challenge. With the support of military and civilian leadership, I know we can play a critical role in delivering the department’s message to the American people. That, after all, is our mission.”

18th Wing NCO has Nhu story to tell

by Tech. Sgt. Jocelyn L. Rich-Pendracki
18th Wing Public Affairs


7/24/2013 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Think of taking time off, leave, or going abroad. What comes to mind? Perhaps some time for you, a way to reinvigorate or reenergize?

For one staff sergeant, time away from the day-to-day grind was spent reinvigorating a children's home in Thailand.

As Staff Sgt. Eric Gargus, 18th Civil Engineer Squadron structural craftsman, attended a service at the Kadena Chapel one Sunday in January, he learned of a trip to Thailand. The goal of this trip was to make a difference in the lives of children living in homes supported by the organization Remember Nhu, who have been taken off the streets and out of lives that could lead to tragedy.

"Remember Nhu deals with the prevention of human trafficking and they have scores of kids to care for," said Capt. Daniel Call, a chaplain with the 18th Wing.

Intrigued, Gargus did a little more research and found out more about Remember Nhu.

"When I heard about this trip, something inside spoke to me; (it was) a calling, I had to go," Gargus said.

Remember Nhu is a non-profit organization that supports homes for children in Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia with the intent of getting them off the streets and sparing them from human trafficking. The organization's namesake, Nhu, was such a child, before being rescued and adopted by Carl and Laurie Ralston from Portland, Ore.

Remember Nhu's approach at combating human trafficking is to help one child at a time by creating a loving, educational, peaceful and happy environment with spiritual guidance.

After learning all that he could about Nhu and the organization, Gargus reached out to a member of the Kadena youth ministry. They began discussing ideas for a brand new playground to be built on the grounds of homes in Northern Thailand. Talk became action, and before long the plans were drawn and the trip was underway.

"We came up with plans for the playground that we wanted to build for these kids, something for them to enjoy," Gargus said.

The playground went from the drawing board to reality.

"We used [about] 10,000 feet of rope and webbing to make the cargo nets that made up the playground. All the nets were hand tied by the teams (thousands of knots). The playground also included a 60-foot zip line," Call said. "Nothing is more satisfying than seeing 30 to 40 children delighted in the gift of the playground through the squeals and laughter that we saw the last day we were in Thailand."


Remember Nhu currently supports four homes with about 45 children in each home, with the hope of opening more in the future. Gargus got to spend time and work at these houses in Northern Thailand for a month.

"These kids were incredible," Gargus said. "We got to eat with them every day. I sat on the floor with one little boy that I saw eating by himself; the next thing I knew, there were kids surrounding me. The experience was life changing."

Since his initial involvement seven months ago, Gargus has decided to increase his participation.

"I want to go back someday, and am looking forward to returning soon and fulfilling my calling," Gargus said.

He also plans on continuing his support to Nhu, the organization and the children by raising money and volunteering as much time as he can.

"God has blessed me with a certain skill set needed for my job, as well as the love to help people," Gargus said. "Doing the job I love and helping people while serving God is a dream come true."

36th Rescue Flight rescues injured horseback rider

by Scott King
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


7/24/2013 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash.  -- Airmen from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., rescued a 66-year-old male July 21 near McCall, Idaho, after he was kicked by his horse and injured his hip and leg.

The victim, John Beeh, was on his way via horseback with his wife and another couple to camp at 20-Mile Lake when the incident occurred. He was on the lower edge of a bowl-shaped portion of the mountain just downhill from the lake, unreachable by car or all-terrain vehicle.

Neither local officials, nor a local ground rescue team could extract Beeh. Running out of options, the Idaho County, Idaho Sheriff's Office contacted the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., which contacted the 36th Rescue Flight here. Four Airmen were then dispatched to the area in a UH-1N Iroquois helicopter.

Once they arrived on scene, they were time constrained due to fuel and had to expedite the extraction.

"My co-pilot, Capt. Tyler Rennell did an excellent job providing a solid hover for the dual pickup," said Maj. Brent Golembiewski, aircraft commander. "We were low on fuel and the actual extraction point was a small rocky area roughly [5 x 20] feet surrounded by 100-foot-tall dead pine trees - not exactly easy to do, but over all it was a great mission, and I'm proud to be part of such an exceptional crew."

Once safely hovering, flight engineer, Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Griego, lowered independent duty medical technician, Master Sgt. Joseph Brownell, roughly 200 feet through a 10 x 10 window to Beeh.

"It was a very tight opening," Griego said. "Luckily we were able to lower Brownell down where the victim was already on a backboard. He re-evaluated Beeh's injuries, loaded him onto the stokes litter, and then attached himself with a harness to the litter for a dual pick up - this was my first save, I couldn't have done it without the expertise of my crew and medic."

Recovering from his injuries at home today, Beeh is extremely grateful for the Fairchild crew.

"Heck yeah, I'm glad the Air Force showed up to help me," Beeh said. "I didn't know how everything was going to turn out, now thanks to the Air Force, I'm still alive - they did one whale of a job"

His wife of 49 years, Georgia, is also glad the Fairchild crew showed up.

"There was no other way he was going to get out of there," she said. "I'm so glad they were able to help us through this awful experience. I was in awe at what they did for him - he owes them his life."

The rescue took approximately three hours from the time the 36th RQF received the call to the time the Beeh was transported [via the Iroquois] to St. Joseph Hospital in Lewiston, Idaho.

Beeh spent three days in the hospital and is now at home recovering from a broken femur bone and other bumps and bruises.

The crew consisted of: Maj. Brent Golembiewski, 36th RQF aircraft commander; Capt. Tyler Rennell, 36th RQF co-pilot; Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Griego, 36th RQF flight engineer; and Master Sgt. Joseph Brownell, 336th Training Support Squadron independent duty medical technician.

This most recent rescue was the flight's 683rd.

Obama Proclaims National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day


American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 25, 2013 – President Barack Obama has issued a proclamation marking July 27th as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day.   The following is the text of the President's proclamation:

Today, America pauses to observe the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War -- a conflict that defined a generation and decided the fate of a nation. We remember the troops who hit the beaches when Communist forces were pressing south; who pushed back, and fought their way north through hard mountains and bitter cold. We remember ordinary men and women who showed extraordinary courage through 3 long years of war, fighting far from home to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.

Most of all, we remember those brave Americans who gave until they had nothing left to give. No monument will ever be worthy of their service, and no memorial will fully heal the ache of their sacrifice. But as a grateful Nation, we must honor them -- not just with words, but with deeds. We must uphold our sacred obligation to all who serve -- giving our troops the resources they need, keeping faith with our veterans and their families, and never giving up the search for our missing and our prisoners of war. Our fallen laid down their lives so we could live ours. It is our task to live up to the example they set, and make America a country worthy of their sacrifice.

This anniversary marks the end of a war. But it also commemorates the beginning of a long and prosperous peace. In six decades, the Republic of Korea has become one of the world's largest economies and one of America's closest allies. Together, we have built a partnership that remains a bedrock of stability throughout the Pacific. That legacy belongs to the service members who fought for freedom 60 years ago, and the men and women who preserve it today.

So as we mark this milestone, let us offer a special salute to our Korean War veterans. Let us renew the sacred trust we share with all who have served. And let us reaffirm that no matter what the future holds, America will always honor its promise to serve our veterans as well as they served us -- now and forever.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 27, 2013, as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities that honor our distinguished Korean War veterans.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

Sailors Posthumously Receive National Intelligence Medal

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

MCLEAN, Va., July 24, 2013 – Two fallen Navy petty officers became the 18th and 19th recipients of the National Intelligence Medal for Valor in a July 22 ceremony at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence here.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, left, posthumously awards the National Intelligence Medal for Valor to Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jared Day's parents, Karolyn Kimball Day and Sam Day of Salt Lake City, in a ceremony at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in McLean, Va., July 22, 2013. Day, a tactical communicator, and Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Strange, an information operations operator, were assigned within Naval special operations when they were killed Aug. 6, 2011, in Afghanistan in a helicopter crash following a rocket-propelled grenade attack. DOD photo by Terri Moon Cronk
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The families of Petty Officers 1st Class Jared W. Day and Michael J. Strange received the posthumous awards. Calling Day and Strange “two young heroes who gave the last full measure of devotion to their country,” Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper presented the medals in front of a standing-room-only gathering of families, friends and shipmates.

Day, a few days shy of his 29th birthday when he died, was a tactical communicator, and Strange, 25, was an information operations operator. Both were assigned within Naval special operations when they responded Aug. 6, 2011, to enemy forces escaping from a nearby raid in an enemy-contested valley of eastern Afghanistan, the award citations read.

Knowing the valley served as an enemy safe haven with no sustained coalition force presence, and knowing that their mission was to interdict and ambush an armed enemy force, Day and Strange volunteered to pursue an enemy known to have attacked and killed coalition forces with plans for future attacks, the citations said.

Both “selflessly chose to interdict the fleeing enemy when [they] boarded the helicopter with [their] teammates,” the citations said, but the aggressive mission ended tragically when their helicopter was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, causing it to crash and killing all on board.

Twenty-eight other Americans, eight Afghans and a military working dog were en route to assist an Army Ranger unit engaged in a firefight with Taliban forces west of the Afghan capital of Kabul, Clapper added.

“For each of them, the courageous choice to ride to the sound of gunfire was one they’d made many times before,” he told the audience.

The accident was the largest single loss of American life during the Afghanistan campaign and the greatest single loss of life ever suffered by the U.S. Special Operations community, Clapper said.
The U.S. intelligence community looks up to Day and Strange for their heroism and for “setting the example for our entire community,” Clapper said. “They served at an amazing nexus of the Navy, special operations and the intelligence community.”

Serving with the Navy SEALS, he added, Day and Strange were unique, elite and truly remarkable young men.

“We continue to look to them as selfless examples of service to this great nation,” Clapper said. “They were the best of us.”

Both men are now part of the history of this country, he said, calling them “a legacy of sacrifice toward something larger than just oneself.”

Sam Day and Karolyn Kimball Day of Salt Lake City received the medal for valor for their son.
“He was just amazing,” Elizabeth Kimball Day said of her son, adding that he was only 6 years old when he declared he wanted to join the Navy, and did so when he was 19.

“He was always the funny one” she said. “He always got up with a smile, and went to bed with a smile. He always took the underdog under his wing.”

“[The National Intelligence Medal for Valor] is a great honor, and it shows how much Michael was appreciated,” said Elizabeth Strange of Philadelphia, who accepted the medal on his behalf.

Michael Strange also joined the Navy at a young age, his mother said, adding that she and Michael’s father had to sign papers when he was 17 to allow him to go into the Navy when he graduated from high school at age 18.

“It was a decision he made, and he was really determined,” she added.

Strange’s family didn’t believe he wanted to join the military at first. His mother said he wasn’t one to arrive at school on time, but he scored very high on tests and was excited when the Navy told him about the jobs he could perform.

“He meshed well with the Navy, [and] I couldn’t believe it,” his mother said. “He excelled at it.”

Journalist among Air Force's 12 Outstanding Airmen of Year

7/24/2013 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- A full-time reservist on the staff at Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command here is one of the Air Force's 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.

Master Sgt. Shawn Jones was congratulated on his accomplishment July 22 by Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, AFRC commander, during a staff meeting with senior leaders in the command.

At the time, Jones had been on the job one week as the public affairs craftsman for AFRC Recruiting Service.

Before accepting the full-time Active Guard and Reserve position in recruiting, Jones was a traditional reservist and full-time civilian employee in the 514th Air Mobility Wing's public affairs office at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

He was selected the top NCO in the wing and the command while assigned to the 514th AMW.

His accomplishments at the joint base included winning numerous command, Air Force and Department of Defense print journalism awards. Jones was named DOD's print journalist of the year for 2011 and wrote the best sports article in the Air Force in 2012.

He represented the wing when distinguished visitors came to the area after Hurricane Sandy and was personally "coined" by Vice President Joe Biden. Jones wrote for Air Force Print News and was selected as the lead writer for the Air Force chief of staff transition. He devoted more than 40 hours per season as a youth soccer head coach and basketball assistant coach.

Jones entered the active-duty Air Force in July 2000 as an F-16 avionics specialist and was assigned to the aircraft maintenance squadrons at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and Holloman AFB, N.M. He retrained into public affairs in April 2005 and served at Kirtland AFB, N.M., and Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.

He left active duty in October 2009 and joined the Air Force Reserve in the 514th AMW.

Air Force Cycling Team pedals across Iowa

by Staff Sgt. Abigail Klein
931st Air Refueling Group


7/23/2013 - COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa -- Come rain, wind or an average temperature of 90 degrees, 94 Airman began pedaling across Iowa as part of the Registers Annual Bicycle Ride across Iowa, better known as RAGBRAI, July 21.

The Air Force Cycling Team, under the leadership of Senior Master Sgt. Larry Gallo, 433rd Airlift Wing, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, donned team jerseys complete with the Air Force symbol on their backs, and started their trek at Council Bluffs, Iowa. This is the 19th year the Air Force has participated as a team in the event.

One of the longest rides of the seven-day event, took place July 22 and was dubbed "The Century." Airmen biked approximately 100 miles from Harlan to their daily stop in Des Moines, Iowa.

RAGBRAI is the oldest and largest recognized non-competitive bicycle ride in the nation. It attracts more than 10,000 riders worldwide. The Airmen who participate in RAGBRAI volunteer their personal leave to participate, and fund their equipment and transportation for the chance to cycle on the Air Force Team.

This was the case for Master Sgt. Barry Collins, Air Force Training Command Headquarters, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. He's been biking for 25 years and on the first day of RAGBRAI, he finished a 50 mile ride in less than six hours.

"This is something I've always wanted to do, and when the Air Force gave me the opportunity, I jumped at the chance to go," he said. "I also wanted to come to meet all the people interested in biking. It's nice to see this many people interested in it, especially in the Air Force."

In addition to looking forward to the physical challenge, most Airmen look at the ride not only as a chance to spread the Air Force fitness culture, but also to spread the "Wingman culture", which Gallo said is a major reason he continues to lead the Air Force team which he has been part of for the past eight years.

"This is largest ride in the U.S. Some days we have 25,000 riders. It's a great opportunity for the Air Force to get their message out," said Gallo. "By participating as a team, we're showing two things, that we're fit and by helping people along the ride, we're also showing that we take care of our people the way we take care of people on the home front."

By the end of the week, the Airmen will have cycled more than 400 miles across Iowa. The AFCT is open to all active duty, Reserve and Guard Airmen and their families, as well as Air Force civilians and retired Air Force members.

Anniversary Marks Milestone in U.S.-South Korea Alliance

By Walter T. Ham IV
8th U.S. Army

SEOUL, South Korea, July 24, 2013 – American and South Korean officials and veterans will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice agreement in the United States and South Korea this week.


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The Korean Demilitarized Zone and Joint Security Area were created by the armistice that was signed in 1953. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Park Youngho
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Signed on July 27, 1953, the ceasefire agreement brought the brutal three-year conflict to an end.

The negotiations took place during 158 meetings over two years and 17 days while fighting continued to rage across the Korean Peninsula. Ron Miller, 8th U.S. Army historian, said language differences complicated negotiations as discussions were translated into English, Korean and Chinese.

The armistice agreement created the Demilitarized Zone -- 155 miles long by 2.5 miles wide -- that serves as a buffer zone and de facto border between totalitarian North Korea and democratic South Korea.

The armistice agreement also established the truce village of Panmunjom, where negotiations are still held between the two Koreas.

The Korean War armistice has never been followed by a peace treaty, and the two Koreas technically are still at war. Miller said North Korea has violated the armistice thousands of times. More than 450 South Korean and 100 American troops have been killed in the line of duty during North Korean provocations since 1953.

As a part of the South Korea-United States alliance, 28,500 American troops serve in South Korea to provide security on the Korean Peninsula and stability in Northeast Asia. Arriving in 1950, 8th Army commanded all United Nations Command ground forces as the only U.S. field army in the Korean War. Eighth Army has served in Korea since the armistice was signed.

Miller credits the armistice with South Korea's success today.

"The Korean War armistice agreement has successfully suspended full-scale hostilities on the peninsula for 60 years," said Miller, a native of Odessa, Texas. "As a result, the Republic of Korea has developed into a full-fledged, modern democracy. It is a prosperous, productive and responsible member of the global community."

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Daniel McShane, the joint duty officer for the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission, said UNCMAC continues to fulfill its mission of armistice implementation.
As one of the few U.S. military officers who maintain contact with the North Korean military, McShane works out of an office just 27 feet south of the border.

"This anniversary is very important," said McShane, a naval aviator from Charlotte, N.C. "The commemorations of the armistice anniversary can be seen as a clear signal that the sending nations of the United Nations Command are still dedicated to upholding the agreements that we made 60 years ago to preclude hostilities and maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula."

Lt. Col. Lee Seok-jae, who commands the Yongsan Garrison-based Republic of Korea Army Support Group and the 3,400 Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army troops who support 8th Army, expressed his gratitude for the U.S. military's contribution to security in Korea.

"A true friend can be defined when you face a difficult situation and the friend does not just ignore the situation, but comes in assistance and even takes the risk of sacrificing oneself for you," Lee wrote in a message to 8th Army leaders. "This is how the Korean people during the Korean War in 1950 came to recognize who their friends were.”

"In the midst of being under attack by the North to the point where the country was on the verge of crumbling down, forces of 350,000 men from 16 nations led by the United States joined in the war in aid of the Republic of Korea," Lee added. "Especially, more than 300,000 United States soldiers participated in the war."

Lee said the U.S. military continues to serve with South Korean forces on the Korean Peninsula almost 60 years after the armistice was signed.

"The U.S. military continues to have its presence in the Republic of Korea to deter the aggression of North Korea and guard the liberty and democracy we enjoy in the Republic of Korea," Lee wrote.

CSAF: People plus pride equals performance

by Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden
21st Space Wing Public Affairs


7/23/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- In a crowded hangar on a breezy Colorado afternoon, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III stepped onto a stage fit for the opening scene of "Patton."

Welsh and his wife, Betty, visited Peterson July 18 as part of a two-day stop in Colorado Springs to thank the men and women of the 21st and 50th space wings for everything they have done and continue to do.

Welsh's message of caring for Airmen and the importance of communication was ingrained in almost every word he spoke, starting with the story he shared of Staff Sgt. Kway Min, 21st Medical Group public health technician.

Born in the impoverished and violence ridden country of Burma, Min lived with his family until he was chosen through a random lottery to emigrate to the United States. Without his family or understanding of the English language, Min set out to take advantage of the opportunity he had been afforded. He worked for many years holding odd jobs until he joined the Air Force in 2009.

Since enlisting, Min has excelled as a member of the Air Force family having twice earned Airman of the quarter, selected for senior airman below the zone, and selected as Airman of the Year for both the 21st Space Wing and Air Force Space Command, all while working toward a degree in biochemistry.

"If you ask him about his job, what he says is, 'My job matters so I like to be prepared to do it well.' This is the face of our Air Force," said Welsh, pointing to Min. "These are the stories I'm going to tell the world because this is what you all look like to me. Every Airman has a story; this is a remarkable one."

Welsh then posed a scenario to 2nd Lt. Daniel Johnson, NORAD/Cheyenne Mountain command and control sustainment engineer, in which an ICBM attack was imminent. In that moment, who was more important, Welsh or Johnson, he asked.

"Sir, that would be me," said Johnson.

"Right answer, Daniel. I don't want you to ever forget that. Ever," Welsh replied. "One of the things that you need to understand about our Air Force is that no one is more important to it than you are."

The chief also spoke about his father, a three-war veteran and best friend, who imparted what he considers one of the greatest life lessons.

"People plus pride equals performance," Welsh said. "We try hard to train and educate you better than anybody else and we try and make you proud of what you do and who you are and what you represent. If we can keep that pride and keep it combined with your talent and your commitment to this job, we can do anything. And we demonstrate it every day."

In lieu of the ongoing effects of sequestration and furlough, Welsh opened his remarks with stories of caring and pride because those things are going to ensure we move forward.

"All the stuff we're facing as far as issues go ... we'll get through them. We'll get through them because you'll carry us through them. You'll figure out the solutions," Welsh said. "My job is to make sure that you stay with us, that you stay proud, you stay convinced that what you do matters and that you matter to the Air Force. There're just some things that we've got to change."

Some of that change is a reflected in the more than 11,000 ideas submitted during the recent month-long Every Dollar Counts campaign, an initiative led by Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Larry Spencer. The submissions ranged from redundancies in Air Force processes to checklist items that simply made no sense. But, Welsh had a different outlook following this campaign.

"Why do people feel like they've got to send their ideas to a website?" Welsh asked. "Why can't they walk into your office and tell you they've got an idea. And if they do, why don't you implement it? That's the Air Force we want to be, everyone's voice matters, everybody's opinion counts, and if it makes sense, we implement it."

With resounding applause, Welsh concluded his talk by saying "thank you" to the Airmen of the 21st one last time, but before packing up for the day, he stopped at a few units to visit some of Peterson's top Airmen.

One in particular was Airman 1st Class Qadry Jenkins, 21st MDG dental lab apprentice, who toured Welsh around Peterson's Area Dental Lab.

"I didn't believe my wingman at first," Jenkins said after finding out he would be showing Welsh around. Jenkins said initially he was nervous when Welsh stepped through the door, but he quickly calmed down. "Once I heard how calmly he spoke, I knew how personable he was and that I could talk to him like a regular person."

The tour ended unexpectedly for Jenkins when Welsh pulled a coin from his pocket and presented it to the young Airman, who reciprocated with a coin of his own.

"I wasn't expecting to get a coin, but I was prepared," said Jenkins.

Before Welsh departed, he took the phone number of Jenkins' mother to call her that evening, a promise he fulfilled a few hours later commending Ms. Jenkins on how bright her son's future is and that she should be proud.

Jenkins said the short time he spent with Welsh proved the sincerity of our top leaders.

"When (Welsh) talked about the importance of family at the all-call and then asked about mine, it proved how he truly cares about me and my family as well," said Jenkins.