Military News

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

JBER forces test, sharpen skills in base-wide exercise

by Airman Ty-Rico Lea
JBER Public Affairs


8/7/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson personnel practiced securing buildings, communicating in crisis situations, protecting operational security, and engaging an active shooter - - all part of Exercise Polar Force 13-5, July 22-24.

This exercise involved Airman and civilian employees of the 673d Air Base Wing and 3rd Wing. The purpose was to test, strengthen and develop the necessary skills all Airmen need when faced with adverse situations. Some scenarios included securing buildings for safety, practicing operational security procedures, communicating in strenuous circumstances and engaging an active shooter.

"Our outstanding security forces responded instantaneously to diffuse the simulated threat and save as many lives possible during the exercise," said Air Force Col. Frank Battistelli, 673d Mission Support Group commander, in reference to the active shooter portion. "They contained the area occupied by the gunman, evacuated innocent victims and ultimately neutralized the gunman."

Battistelli said there is a very real purpose for this type of training.

"An active shooter situation is probably one of the most likely scenarios our base could encounter," Battistelli said. "If you consider active shooter incidents our country has been faced with over the last several years, there were very few warning signs. Exercises like this situation do several things. First, it better prepares our defenders to respond to these situations in a variety of settings. Next, it allows us to test the interagency response between our installation, state and national agencies. Finally, it better prepares the JBER community on how they should respond during an active shooter crisis."

A JBER Polar Force exercise typically includes two phases, but for the Polar Force 13-5 exercise only phase one was conducted. The phase one was designed to test JBER's ability to deploy and redeploy people as well as mobilize equipment.

"We conduct exercises on a regular basis to ensure readiness," said Donald Weckhorst, 673d ABW executive director. "This prepares us to to respond to a variety of contingency or crisis situations" Weckhorst said. "In our case, the commanders of the 673d ABW, 3rd WG, 176 WG and 477 Fighter Group came together and built an overall plan that enhances teamwork and readiness in our Airmen. This is truly one of the unique aspects of JBER."

"The exercise provided an outstanding venue to hone contingency response skills and processes," Weckhorst said. "In this case, the 673d ABW and 3rd WG Airmen worked together to generate and deploy assets under realistic conditions and timelines. These types of exercises ensure our Airmen are prepared to execute their initial response actions and are an invaluable part of the commander's overall training programs."

51st OSS Airmen help 25th FS pilots 'suit up'

by Staff Sgt. Sara Csurilla
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


8/6/2013 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- Airmen from the 51st Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment helped pilots from the 25th and 36th Fighter Squadrons don Aircrew Eye and Respiratory Protection equipment as part of Operational Readiness Exercise Beverly Midnight 13-03 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Aug. 5.

The pilots practice using the protective equipment to ensure they know how to wear it properly in the event of real world contingencies.

"These pilot's systems that protect them from chemical, biological or radiological hazards are unique because it is able to be integrated into the cockpit allowing them to breathe at altitude, communicate and use existing equipment such as night vision goggles and helmet mounted targeting systems," said Senior Master Sgt. Jonathan Redfern, 51st OSS AFE superintendent. "Their AERP gear must also integrate with their ejection seat and parachute harness."

Although the pilots can usually use the buddy system and help their wingman put the gear on, it takes a whole team to properly remove the entire system.

"The AERP is the aircrew's equivalent of MOPP 4," Redfern explained. "(The AERP equipment) is used to protect the pilot in a potential chemical, biological or radiological environment. When worn, the pilot must be systematically "undressed" by AFE technicians."

Once the pilot is fully geared up, plastic bag and all, to face a potentially contaminated environment, they are then carefully processed through a decontamination line. Each pilot is processed one-by-one by being sprayed with water and a bleach solution, coated with charcoal, and systematically undressed by AFE members to reduce decontamination in any way.

"Scenarios like these give our Airmen the opportunity to work with the pilots and ensure that they have confidence in their abilities and in the equipment we provide to them," Redfern said.

This is the fourth ORE this year where Airmen will undergo several different scenarios that will test their ability to defend the base and conduct daily operations during a heightened state of readiness.

"Our AFE Airmen have continually shown a top level of aircrew contamination control area, or ACCA aptitude and commitment," Redfern concluded. "I'm excited for this exercise to continue to show off their skills and expertise."

Walk softly, carry a big stick

by Airman 1st Class Lauren Pitts
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs


8/7/2013 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander, United States Strategic Command, toured the base and hosted an All-Call with 91st Missile Wing Airmen here, Aug. 1.

During the All-Call, Kehler said he was pleased to visit Minot, but more so for the chance to spend time with the Roughriders, who perform the mission every day. On his quest to spend time with the Airmen, he reminded them just how incredibly important their mission is to everyone in the country.

The general spoke about the importance of deterrence, and assured the members of the missile wing that what they do continues to be a crucial part of the nation's security.

"It was easy to see the need for deterrence during the Cold War," Kehler said. "And now it may seem harder to see the need for it, even though it's more important than ever."

He went on to explain how the wing's primary mission is to make sure their weapons are never used, by making sure they can use them. As the U.S. walks softly through the world, it carries the missile wing as the big stick, he said.

"As long as other nations have the capability," explained Kehler, "we need deterrence."

The general went on to speak to the Airmen about other military-wide issues, including sequestration

"There are parts in life we can control, and parts in life we cannot," Kehler said. "Sequestration is something we cannot."

Kehler continued by explaining that sequestration is something the nation is pushing uphill, but he is confident the country will overcome.

Another topic he spoke to Airmen about was the issue of sexual assault prevention and the effect sexual assault and sexual harassment has on the mission. He said it is nearly impossible for a mission to be completed successfully in an environment where sexual assault and sexual harassment threaten the trust and discipline required for combat effectiveness.

"All Airmen are like a family," he said. "Airmen take care of each other."

He concluded by issuing a challenge for Team Minot Airmen to continue to uphold the highest of standards in every regard and prove to anyone who asks, that if they want to see it done right, they should come to Minot.

Mustangs charge into Beverly Midnight 13-03

by Senior Airman Kristina Overton
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


8/5/2013 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- The base transitioned into a heightened state of defense and readiness as Beverly Midnight 13-03, the fourth simulated wartime contingency exercise of 2013, kicked off at Osan Aug. 5.

The week-long exercise tests Airmen's ability to position, employ and sustain forces as well as to utilize their chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training.

"Osan plays an integral role in the defense of South Korea in the event of North Korean aggression so we develop realistic exercise scenarios to test our response capabilities," said Lt. Col. Oliver Rick, 51st Fighter Wing plans and exercises director. "Our rigorous exercise tempo is critical to keep our focus on the mission, hone our war fighting skills and understand how teamwork enables us to defend the base, receive follow-on forces and take the fight to the enemy."

Rotating 12-hour shifts, members of Team Osan provide combat ready forces for close air support, air strike control, counter air, interdiction, theater airlift, and communications in the defense of the ROK. These operational readiness exercises also include day-to-day tasks essential to mission readiness, and scenarios that include administering self-aid and buddy-care during a contingency, and executing essential tasks using operational risk management.

With temperatures getting up past 90 degrees throughout the week, safety is also a necessity during BM 13-03. The 51st Fighter Wing safety office makes it a priority to monitor Airmen as they perform, reminding members to utilize the wingman concept in making sure they are hydrating, wearing proper gear and mitigating hazards and risks.

"It's going to be hot out there," said Master Sgt. Tanisha Williams, 51st FW ground safety manager. "One of our biggest concerns is making sure that Airmen are watching out for their buddies, and making sure that they are hydrating. Each person is important in order to complete the mission. If something happens to someone, that person has to be replaced to fulfill those responsibilities, so we have to make sure that we are taking extra precautions and being safe. We have to be ready. From a natural disaster to a real world enemy attack, we have to prepared at all times."

Along with safety, the Exercise Evaluation Team observes Airmen during the exercise to ensure they are completing their objectives by the book.

"We challenge base personnel to react to a given scenario and evaluate their response against established standards," said Master Sgt. Thomas Longworth 51st Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management section chief. "Deviations from training or policy is recorded, researched and reported according to the level of mission impact. These deviations, or "findings," provide us the opportunity to hone an otherwise fine-tuned machine."

374 AW, JASDF team up in support of Red Flag-Alaska

by Staff Sgt. Chad Strohmeyer
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


8/7/2013 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan  -- More than 30 people filled the hangar checking and rechecking paperwork, ensuring each pallet was prepared for the weekend departure.

Members from the 374th Logistics Readiness and 730th Air Mobility Squadrons worked hand-in-hand with their Japan Air Self-Defense Force counterparts Aug. 1, 2013, to properly inspect and load JASDF cargo heading to Red Flag-Alaska.

"Anytime we have JASDF cargo we assist them with anything they need," said Master Sgt. Froilan Halili, 730 AMS special planning section chief. "Having extra hands around always gets the job done more efficiently."

In addition to increased efficiency, each nation's cargo professionals worked to improve their interoperability while providing valuable training for participating units.

"It's always great to work with the JASDF," said Tech Sgt. Rhommel Gabrintina, 730 AMS noncommissioned officer in charge of special planning. "Every time we work together, something new is always learned."

Gabrintina said the inspection had added importance as the cargo was headed for Alaska to be used in Red Flag, a multilateral aerial combat exercise designed to provide realistic combat training environments.

"We all take our job very seriously on any inspection we do," said Gabrintina. "Knowing we had to get this right the first time for the exercise, definitely added a little extra pressure and satisfaction."

U.S., U.K. forces partner for expeditionary training

by Capt. Sybil Taunton
U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Public Affairs


8/7/2013 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J.  -- Reflecting real-world contingency operating environments, the U.S. Air Force and Army partnered with the U.K. Royal Air Force for a Joint Task Force Port Opening during Exercise EAGLE FLAG held here, July 15-19.

With a partnership that began between the USAF Expeditionary Center's 421st Combat Training Squadron and the RAF in 2011, involving several visits to observe training and share lessons learned, the RAF Marham-Coningsby Expeditionary Air Wing sent personnel to participate in the first Exercise EF to include an international coalition.

"The partnership we have forged with the Expeditionary Center is vital to our continued success on coalition operations," said Wing Cdr. Rob Connor, Chief of Staff Operations for the RAF Marham-Coningsby EAW. "Our integration with the EC has not only enhanced our mutual understanding of capabilities and doctrine, but has ultimately fostered efficiency of force when tasked to operate in difficult and challenging environments on contingency operations."

The five-day exercise consisted of JTF-PO operations conducted by the 818th Contingency Response Group, from JB MDL, and the 688th Rapid Port Opening Element, from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, in which cargo and personnel were flown in to set up an air field in an austere location.

In the exercise scenario the Joint Task Force was sent to the fictional country of Dakaar under the direction of U.S. Transportation Command, responsible for the surface movement of all cargo and equipment within the JTF-PO mission set. After just three days, the airfield was established and control was handed off to the RAF to continue operations.

Flight Lt. Jon Smith, a logistics officer for the RAF Marhman-Coningsby EAW, discussed the purpose of their visit and the importance of the training partnership.

"This has been great, and it has been two fold," said Smith. "There have been formal training elements going on, but the core reason we are here is to look at your tactics, techniques and procedures; look at your organization; look at how you configure yourselves to do expeditionary operations, so that we can take those lessons from the way you operate and apply them to our approach, our methods and our TTPs."

Smith continued by discussing specific takeaways that he found important throughout the exercise.

"Understanding the capabilities you bring that we wouldn't necessarily expect to have is very important. For example, we wouldn't typically have a contracting officer, but it is really valuable to know that you would have that asset available," said Smith. "You have different people for different functions and this training is invaluable. Learning who we need to talk to in an American organization in order to get the information we need can save us so much time in the future."

To further coalition collaboration, the RAF has expressed interest in including Expeditionary Center Airmen in their own upcoming exercises as well, explained Lt. Col. Brandon Casey, 421st CTS commander.

"It has been a great opportunity working alongside the RAF," Casey said. "The 421st is committed to providing Exercise EAGLE FLAG participants with challenging and realistic expeditionary skills training through dynamic scenarios tailored to their operational requirements. Working with our coalition partners is one of the best ways to develop these allied tailored scenarios and build upon our valuable partnership."

Colorado Reserve C-130s rejoin aerial fire fighting efforts

by Ann Skarban
302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


8/7/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- An Air Force Reserve Command Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System-equipped C-130, aircrew and support personnel will rejoin aerial fire fighting efforts in the Northwestern U.S. today.

Approximately 10 Air Force reservists from the 302nd Airlift Wing here will partner with a Wyoming Air National Guard C-130 crew in support of the U.S. Forest Service fire containment operations in Boise, Idaho. A second 302nd AW MAFFS-equipped C-130 and crew is also expected to deploy to Boise next week.

The Department of Defense's MAFFS C-130s and crews initially activated June 11 to assist in fighting fires in Southern Colorado after the U.S. Forest Service sent a request for assistance to the DOD though U.S. Northern Command. Since activating, MAFFS aircraft have made 179 drops on fires in Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and Idaho using 437,631 gallons of fire retardant.

The 302nd AW ended its initial activation July 7 after providing support to wildland fires in Colorado and Arizona. The July inactivation and this reactivation are part of the normal duty rotation shared by the three Air National Guard wings and one Air Force Reserve wing that fly the MAFFS mission.

"The four MAFFS wings typically follow a monthly rotation schedule. In August, the 302nd is at the top of the list for MAFFS support. We can and will adapt the proposed schedule as needs arise," said Lt. Col. Luke Thompson, chief of aerial fire fighting for the 302nd Airlift Wing.

The MAFFS-equipped C-130s are operated by four military units: The 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard; 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard; 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard; and the 302nd Airlift Wing, U.S. Air Force Reserve Command.

MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system, owned by the U.S. Forest Service, that can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, it can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.

The DOD, through U.S. Northern Command at Peterson AFB, provides unique military support to fire fighting efforts when requested by the National Interagency Fire Center and approved by the Secretary of Defense. These diverse mission assets are prepared to respond quickly and effectively to protect lives, property, critical infrastructure and natural resources, and can include, but are not limited to, MAFFS, military helicopters and ground forces capable of supporting the firefighting efforts.

ARPC hosts honorary commander

by Maj. Lennea Montandon
Air Reserve Personnel Center Public Affairs


8/7/2013 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- A Team Buckley honorary commander recently visited the Air Reserve Personnel Center here.

Cindy Kreutz, chief executive officer and president of the Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital in Aurora, Colo., along with ARPC's commander, vice commander, and command chief, welcomed new senior leadership from the 460th Space Wing.

Col. Dan Wright III, 460th SW commander, Col. Mitch Stratton, 460th SW vice commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Craig Hall, 460th SW command chief, recently moved to Buckley AFB. As part of their orientation, they received a mission brief and preview of ARPC's responsibilities in support of Air National Guard and Reserve members.

The honorary commanders program emphasizes one-on-one relationships between community and Buckley leaders in order to build public trust and strong community relationships. They act as civilian counterparts to command leadership and attend events such as picnics and other unit functions.

"This program allows me as a civilian to gain exposure about how the military works. I have an appreciation for the military and can see the end result--our freedom, but it can be easy to forget how complex the process is. The honorary commanders program makes it very real and personal to me," said Kreutz.

Twenty civilian leaders are part of Team Buckley's honorary commanders program; two work closely with ARPC. They are able to gain a clear understanding of what Buckley AFB brings to the community, and military leaders have insight into the opportunities offered in Aurora and how the base impacts the area.

"I am able to get an insider's view and have a greater understanding of the challenges military members and their families face," said Kreutz. "I can take that information into the community so others gain perspective on what goes on at Buckley, its forward progress and its strategic importance."

Brig. Gen. Jay Flournoy, ARPC commander, stressed the benefits of the relationships formed.

"Having Ms. Kreutz and other community and business partners in attendance shows our commitment to our partnerships and provides open lines of communication in the community as a whole," he said.

Kreutz's employer, Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital, works closely with Buckley AFB as part of the Aurora Chamber's Defense Council, and the hospital is the premier sponsor for this year's Aurora Veterans Salute, an annual event recognizing veterans in the metropolitan area. The rehabilitation hospital has also served individual service members and veterans through their inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs.

Laughlin airman takes STEP forward

by Senior Airman John D. Partlow
47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs


8/5/2013 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Newly promoted Tech. Sgt. Joel Eschenbacher, was rewarded through the Air Force's Stripes for Exceptional Performers program here July 31, 2013.

Eschenbacher, a manpower and organizational analysis technician in the 47th Force Support Squadron, received the STEP promotion to technical sergeant due to various money- and time-saving, Air Force-wide ideas and hard work.

"He is consistently increasing his expertise and continues to grow as an airman," said Master Sgt. Jason Concepcion, 47th FSS manpower and organization NCO in charge and Eschenbacher's supervisor. "He'll make a great tech. sergeant, and he's been on the right path to become one since the beginning."

While a staff sergeant, Eschenbacher resolved an Air Force Personnel Center database error by identifying a flaw and correcting the formula while informing the agency, preventing an omission of more than 150K deployment records. He also developed an innovative manpower database that synchronized three distinct personnel reports, slashing 600 man-hours. The new database was named an AF Best Practice.

"I absolutely love my job," said Eschenbacher. "I'm able to change or affect careers in the Air Force with my current position, and I love having that responsibility. Whether it's base-level or Air Force-level decisions, it's still a big role to fill."

Eschenbacher's large role included validating wing deployments and scrutinizing and processing more than 200 taskings while verifying their accuracy. These meticulous efforts allowed for five combatant commands to be armed with mission-ready airmen.

"I treat every report, email, project or anything I create like it's going to the desk of a 4-star general," said Eschenbacher. "A big lesson I've learned is that people tend to respond more often when you present ideas in the most respectful manner possible."

Now that he has acquired his new rank, Eschenbacher is looking to take the next step forward.

"As a staff sergeant, I tried performing at a technical sergeant level to better prepare myself for a promotion," he said. "Now that I have the rank I've been preparing for, it's time to look forward to the future."