Monday, August 12, 2013

Mrs. Alaska launches F-22 with crew chief husband

by Capt. Ashley Conner
477th Fighter Group Public Affairs

Airman 1st Class Jermaine James, 477th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, had some assistance launching F-22s from his wife, Mrs. Alaska, Gwynne James here Aug. 8.  
"This was a once in a lifetime experience," said Gwynne. "I am honored to have the opportunity to experience what makes him happy on a daily basis. It makes me happy to see him happy.
Born and raised in Alaska, Gwynne competed in her first pageant in 2012 at 28 years old and took 2nd runner up. She almost didn't compete in this year's competition.
"Jermaine was not back from his technical training, but when he called home and said he would be getting in the day of the pageant I was excited and thought this would be such a great opportunity for us to get all dressed up and celebrate his return and our marriage," said Gwynne. "Although it is not a requirement for husbands to attend, it was so important to me for him to be present."
James, who was born and raised in Jamaica and moved to the U.S. when he was 15 years old, joined the 477th Fighter Group May 2012. The 477th FG, Alaska's only Reserve unit, provided an opportunity for James to serve his country and stay in the state he now calls home.
"I came to Alaska through the means of the military, it wasn't by choice but now I am so grateful that I was able to and now am able to embrace the last frontier," said James.
 Being new to an F-22 unit James hadn't had the opportunity to show his wife what he does for a living until today. 
"It was my first time being around an F-22," said Gwynne. "I was very impressed and gained such a greater respect for what my husband does. He is so meticulous and that is exactly the kind of person who needs to be working on such a great jet...or any jet for that matter."
Her husband echoed similar sentiments about having his wife at work with him.
"I thought it was the greatest experience ever to share what I do on a daily basis with my wife, if she could come to work with me every day, I wouldn't mind it," said James.

349th pilot first to respond in local accident

by 2nd Lt. Jessica Brown
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

8/9/2013 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan.  -- When a SUV flipped on Kellogg Road in Wichita, Kan., Aug 3, 2013, a pilot from the 349th Air Refueling Squadron quickly reacted as the first bystander to respond to the scene.

First Lieutenant Bradley Sutton and his mother-in-law were nearby on the roadside fixing issues with their rental vehicle when high-pitched squeals from vehicle tires caught his attention.

"When I looked up, I saw a Yukon rolling and thought, 'They're going to need my help,'" said Sutton.

As he approached the overturned vehicle, all its windows had been blown out and personal items were strewn about. The next thing he noticed was the driver hunched over, barely moving and an empty infant's car seat in the backseat.

"I couldn't see or hear the baby," said Sutton. "I asked the driver if there was a child in the vehicle, and he was unable to respond."

Sutton quickly assessed the driver and noted that he seemed stable.

"After a few seconds, the man was able to move and look around," said Sutton. "He was still not able to say if there was anyone else in the car, and that was my biggest concern."

Without hesitating, Sutton climbed through the passenger side backseat in search of an infant. He said he searched beneath all the rubble and personal items.

"There were baby toys everywhere, and I saw these little shoes," he said. "I was worried that he might have been ejected from the vehicle."

After a minute of searching, Sutton overheard a group of other bystanders also addressing the driver about a child, and he heard the driver say the baby had not been in the vehicle at all.

"I think everyone was really relieved to hear that the baby was safe," said Sutton.

Sutton made his way back to the front of the vehicle and stayed with the driver for a few more minutes, knowing that help was on the way.

"One other bystander and I discussed the possibility of moving him," Sutton said. "We decided we didn't want to risk further injury. We tried to make him comfortable and reassured him the emergency responders were on their way."

It took less than five minutes for the ambulance and fire trucks to arrive. Sutton made his way out of the vehicle. After exiting the vehicle, he realized his hands, arms, knees and shins were covered in glass.

Previous to the accident, Sutton returned from Derby City's 5K "Shell 77" memorial run, honoring fallen fellow Airmen, and was only wearing a t-shirt, running shorts and tennis shoes.

"I didn't even notice all the glass and my blood because I was so focused on getting them the help they needed," said Sutton. "Yes, I got myself a few cuts, but ultimately, my priority was for the safety of the driver and the passengers."

Sutton attributes his calm and collected response to the training he's received while in the Air Force.

"We receive bystander training, first aid and CPR training annually," he said. "My squadron also recently had a guest speaker who told us about how he was saved by a bystander after an almost fatal car accident."

Sutton did not hesitate as he ran to help the injured driver, and said he would probably do the same if he had to do it all over again.

"Lieutenant Sutton's quick thinking and swift response is testament to his character," said Lt. Col. Stephen Matthews, 349th ARS commander. "Brad knew what had to be done and took action to help others in a critical time of need. He was a "Wingman" in action at exactly the right moment, and we are very proud of him."

Holloman Provides World-Class Training for F-22s

by Capt. Erin Dorrance
49th Wing Public Affairs

8/12/2013 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Holloman is home to 24 sleek, stealth F-22 Raptors, a fifth generation jet that the Pentagon says can outgun and outmaneuver any fighter plane across the globe. The aircraft's revolutionary radar and sensor capabilities, ability to cruise above Mach 1 without afterburners, thrust-vectoring super-maneuverability, and its dual air-to-air and air-to-ground mission capabilities ensures the U.S. Air Force maintains air supremacy.

The pilots who fly the $143 million jet say they are living a dream.

Maj. Chris "Bandit" Bergtholdt has flown the F-22 since 2007. The 2000 U.S. Air Force Academy graduate flew F-15C Eagles before he transitioned to the F-22, which he compares as going from a Porsche to a Lamborghini.

"Both aircraft are very capable, but one is much more advanced than the other," he said.
Bergtholdt wanted to be an Air Force pilot because his dad was an Air Force pilot who flew C-130s.

He not only flies F-22s, but Bergtholdt, who serves as the 7th Fighter Squadron director of operations, also flies the T-38A.

"We have seven T-38 aircraft in our squadron inventory which we use as aggressors to train our F-22 pilots," he said. "Our training objectives include scenarios where F-22 pilots are outnumbered and challenged. The T-38s help us create these scenarios."

About 60 percent of the 7th FS pilots are dual qualified to fly the F-22 and T-38A aircraft. This equates to maintaining 85 flying qualifications; 70 for the F-22 and 15 for the T-38, he said.

On average an F-22 sortie lasts about one hour, although an F-22 could fly for two and a half at high altitudes without the use of after burners. Once the pilots land, they debrief every aspect of the flight, which can take anywhere from one to eight hours, depending on the training mission and type of flight.

Perhaps the most controversial F-22 training in southern New Mexico comes from the frequent flying at supersonic speeds because the jets create sonic booms which can be heard on the ground.

"If we eliminated the ability to fly supersonic in the F-22, our fifth generation jet would be no more capable than a fourth generation jet," said Bergtholdt. "Flying supersonic is part of our tactics and we have to train all of our pilots on that capability."

On an average sortie, an F-22 will fly supersonic anywhere from one to five times, he said. The supersonic operations over land are typically conducted above 30,000 feet; however, the U.S. Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration have approved some areas for supersonic flight below 30,000 feet. Additionally, Holloman Air Force Base advertises the time that F-22s will be flying to inform residents of possible sonic booms.

Beyond sonic booms, the F-22s have continuously been in the news because of the pilot-reported issues with hypoxia, which results from a lack of oxygen supply to the cells and tissues of the body. The U.S. Air Force has combed over every inch of the oxygen system in F-22s, as well as the pilot's equipment, to fully investigate this issue.

"We've never had any mysterious hypoxia issues at the 7th FS," said Lt. Col. Shawn "Rage" Anger, 7th FS commander.

Anger has flown the F-22 since 2004, and was the 33rd military pilot to fly the aircraft. The former F-16 pilot quickly submitted his name for the F-22 program at the end of his second assignment, and was selected as initial cadre at the F-22 schoolhouse. He has seen the aircraft integrate into the operational Air Force, and is now rewarded by commanding Holloman's only F-22 squadron.

"There are two things that make the 7th FS unique," said Anger. "First, we have unbelievably amazing flying weather here. Our attrition due to weather is almost at 0%, which is not the case at Langley or Elmendorf. Second, the White Sands Missile Range is one of only two F-22 ranges over land (the second is in Alaska) which creates distinctive training scenarios. And since we are so close to the range, almost 100% of the gas we spend is tactical because we don't have to fly a hundred miles to get to the range."

The training which 7th FS pilots receive at Holloman has also proved critical in keeping them sharp for deployments. The squadron recently returned from a nine-month deployment to Southwest Asia this January.

"All of our pilots are always ready to deploy because of the world-class training they receive here at Holloman," said Anger.

800 families move from Holloman to Tyndall

by Airman 1st Class Daniel E. Liddicoet
49th Wing Public Affairs

8/12/2013 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -  -- To prepare for the long-awaited move of F-22 Raptors from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., to Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., an informational session was held July 26 for the more than 800 families planning a Permanent Change of Station.

"This is our effort to try and make the transition of families and Airmen to Bay County easier," said William Husfelt, Bay County superintendent of schools, "They go through a lot of angst finding new homes, jobs for spouses and finding new schools for their children. Our job is alleviate as much of that as possible."

Local affiliates and civic leaders from the Bay County area Tyndall AFB hosted the meeting, at which families soaked in as much information as they could about the school systems, housing, recreational activities, and local benefits for military members.

The event included an informational briefing, followed by breakout sessions, during which attendees could ask questions and get information pertaining to their particular PCS situation.

"The lifestyle is very laid back," said Glen MacDonald, Bay Defense Alliance member, "the panhandle of Florida is very relaxed, and we have a 98 percent approval rating for the military, so they should all feel very welcome. At Tyndall, the Airmen will have access to a variety of education opportunities, as well as recreational opportunities. Families can enjoy outdoor activities almost year-round because of the weather."

Tyndall is the formal training unit for the F-22 Raptor, utilizing a variant of the F-22 designed to train new pilots. With the arrival of combat operational F-22s from Holloman, the base will transition into becoming a part of Air Combat Command and must adjust to a new tempo required for bases expected to participate directly in warfare.

"It is a bit of a culture change and a learning change for us, so we're excited about being mission responsible, and having the opportunity thank the people who go and fight in our wars, as well as to better understand what they do," said MacDonald.

While the move will mean big changes for many Airmen and their families, it will also usher in new developments within the Tyndall AFB community.

"Having more than 800 new families come to this community is a wonderful thing for us. We think of it as new people and new ideas," said MacDonald. "We're going to have people from all different backgrounds, from all over the country coming together to live within our community. Having all of these fresh perspectives helping us to make improvements is the real benefit to us."

Face of Defense: Injured Marine Continues Service to Others

By Aquita Brown
Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va., Aug. 12, 2013 – "Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life." This is exactly what Marine Corps veteran Sgt. Andrew Goodrich did when he joined the Marines in 2005, and again when he made the transition to the civilian sector in 2012.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps veteran Sgt. Andrew Goodrich, left, stands with a colleague from the National Park Service near the Capitol in Washington, D.C., July 25, 2013. After being injured in 2008, Goodrich was able to continue serving others through the Operation Warfighter program and NPS. Marine Corps courtesy photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Goodrich sustained a traumatic brain injury and structural, spinal and nerve damage during a training exercise in 2008 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. After his injury, Goodrich wanted to continue his service to others even though he would not be able to remain in the Marine Corps. In 2011, while still on active duty, he learned of an internship through Operation Warfighter at the National Park Service, and he jumped at the opportunity.
From there, his work ethic and connections made it easy for him to accept a full time position as a Ranger in April 2012. Now he works at the Office of Law Enforcement, Security and Emergency Services, with a focus on emergency management, protecting and preserving parklands.

According to Dean Ross, NPS deputy chief for emergency services, it is an easy transition from Marine to Ranger because of the prior training they receive while serving our nation. “[Service members] routinely do well in law enforcement because they are disciplined individuals,” said Ross. “They know the principles of following the chain of command and are highly motivated.”
Goodrich also functions as the wounded warrior liaison for the director of the National Park Service. “I have a great job that aligns with my [ethics],” said Goodrich. He mentors other wounded, ill and injured service members, and dedicates his time coordinating and managing federal internships for them.

“Instead of being a human resources-driven program, [NPS] brings in people who are driven by the requirements of the people they serve,” said Ross. “Human resources is there to fill in the mechanics of our structured program.”

Goodrich has an extensive knowledge of the transition process because he recently went through the same phases at the Marine Corps’ Wounded Warrior Regiment. “I received a lot of transition assistance from the Wounded Warrior Regiment,” said Goodrich. “I had the opportunity to go to resume writing workshops, career fairs to meet new contacts, and I received moral support from the transition cell.”

He continues to take the skills he developed as a Marine and apply them to his civilian position. Goodrich and the NPS recently received special recognition from the U.S. Army and senior staff of the Bethesda-Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, “for outstanding service, support, and dedication in coordinating and managing federal internships for wounded, ill and injured service members.”

“I wanted a lifestyle and career that is about serving other people,” said Goodrich. “That is why I joined the Marines. The same oath I took to become a Marine is the same oath I took as a Ranger.”

He often tells wounded, ill and injured Marines that he encounters, “Rely on you. Take a predetermined amount of time to mourn the loss of your former life and friends. Accept and embrace that you are not who you use to be. Move forward. Don't think you have to figure out your next move in life immediately, but don't accept apathy as a lifestyle. Mature, rely and utilize your own sense of ethics.”

The Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment was established in 2007 to assist combat and non-combat wounded, ill, and injured Marines -- and sailors attached to or in direct support of Marine units -- as they return to duty or transition to civilian life. The Regimental Headquarters, located in Quantico, Va., oversees the operations of two Wounded Warrior Battalions located at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Camp Lejeune, N.C., as well as multiple detachments in locations around the world.

For more information about the Wounded Warrior Regiment, please call the Sgt. Merlin German Wounded Warrior Call Center 24/7 at 877-487-6299.

One team, one fight: Grissom hosts joint exercise

by Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner
434th ARW Public Affairs

8/12/2013 - GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- A picturesque scene of Hoosier corn waving in a warm summer breeze was shattered with explosions of gunfire and shrill screams of pain as Grissom transformed into a battlefield where freedom and life hung in the balance.

While the small-arms reports were just blanks and the screams were just actors, that didn't take away from the realism as U.S. Airmen, Marines and Soldiers came together during the base's second annual joint, mass-casualty exercise here Aug. 4.

During the exercise, named Operation Rudy Strong, 434th Air Refueling Wing medical, security forces and explosives ordnance disposal Airmen teamed up with Grissom's Marine reservists to support a democratic voting process in a simulated Middle Eastern country.

"This was built around an actual scenario I had to do on my last tour in Afghanistan," said Capt. Mark Trouerbach, Grissom's Detachment One, Communication Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 45, 4th Marine Logistics Group inspector instructor. "Voter registration is a big deal, but it's also a very big deal for the enemy because any way they can delegitimize the government the better it is for them to build the propaganda."

"You want to be able to establish a safe environment for people to vote," Trouerbach added.
Helping create that safe haven for democracy, a Marine CH-46 Sea Knight, flown by Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 774 at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., as well as a handful of Grissom Army reservists, Indiana Army National guardsmen, and Marines from other units around the country also participated in the exercise.

The cooperative endeavor further added to the percussions and performances to bring about a realistic environment as many real-world military operations are conducted jointly, said Lt. Col. Peter G. Weber III, the 434th Aerospace Medicine Squadron optometrist who spearheaded the exercise planning.

"The realism of it is extremely important, and with the joint forces aspect, we are really able to build in that realism," continued Weber. "Having air support, the thunder and boom, smoke going off, IEDs going off around you, it all builds a sense of urgency."

Though authenticity was a big portion of the exercise, getting good, solid training was paramount to the training's success, which meant some actors had to break role and instruct from time to time.

"You obviously want realism here and a sense of urgency with the chaos, but if you continue to do something wrong, it's negative learning," explained Lt. Col. Charles Good, a 434th ARW combat readiness officer who oversaw the training. "So, at one point, the inspectors or the evaluation team step in and say, 'ok, this is how it really needs to be,' so you can turn that negative in the positive."

Having Airmen and Marines work hand-in-hand also provided for an expanded scenario that offered unique training opportunities, said Trouerbach.

"Collectively, the joint operations with the Air Force were great because we got to utilize their security forces as well as their medical staff to deal with multiple scenarios at the same time," Trouerbach explained. "The training environment was phenomenal for the Marines and Airmen."

Working together also provided the servicemembers with an exercise in communication and teamwork.

"We speak different languages and don't always use the same acronyms, so it's very important to learn how to communicate with each other, not just over radio, but person to person," said Trouerbach. "We need to learn how to build relationships with each other, trust each other, and have a one-team, one-fight mentality."

And, come together as one team for one fight they did as Operation Rudy Strong kicked off early Sunday morning with a Marine assault force swooping in via ground convoy and helicopter to secure a voting facility at Grissom's old fire station.

In a matter of seconds, yellow smoke and gunfire abounded as the assault force quickly dispatched the enemy, who had staged an ambush. Embedded with the Marines were 434th Security Forces Airmen and two Air Force EOD technicians from the 434th Civil Engineer Squadron, who used their expertise to clear improvised explosive devices in the building that were set by insurgents.

"The chaos was very accurate," said Trouerbach. "There are a lot of things going on -- you have enemy shooters from different directions, or you try to clear a room you thought was clear, but you missed one little closet, so it's very accurate."

Despite their overwhelming initial victory, the Marines weren't spared losses as several received simulated wounds during the attack, so Air Force medics from the 434th Aerospace Medicine Squadron here raced in via helicopter and immediately began to triage and perform combat lifesaving treatment to the wounded.

After the wounded were treated and evacuated by air, 434th SFS personnel assisted Marines in protecting the voting process. This involved setting up a security perimeter and screening civilian voter registrants for potential threats such as weapons or IEDs.

Shortly before registration began, an insurgent was able to sneak a simulated IED into the screening area and deploy the weapon with devastating results. Over twenty people were wounded in the attack that stretched the capabilities of both the Air Force medics and Marines providing CLS care.

After the wounded were treated, insurgents were secured and the civilian populace reassured, the voting registration process took place without a hitch, and the exercise was called to an end. However, when a military exercise ends, the learning still isn't complete.

Participants, planners and evaluators gathered together to conduct a hot wash, an event that takes place immediately following an event to discuss success and failures as well as future challenges and goals.

"Everyone did well, but with any exercise or practice, you're going to find things that can be improved," Good explained about the entire process.

"We are always the harshest critics of our own, so the medics in my view have a lot we can learn and a lot we can improve on, and the Marines, in my opinion, are the best thing since sliced bread, and I'm glad we're on their team," said Weber. "If you talk to any of the Marines, theirs was the exact opposite; 'Sir, I can't believe how good your medics did and how on point all the medical staff were.

"The unique thing of these exercises is the appreciation you get for what your brothers and sisters in arms do," he concluded. "Both of us think our own teams have a lot to learn and improve on, but the other guys do a phenomenal job, which builds that teamwork, appreciation and a gladness that we're all fighting the same fight."

109th Air Wing participates in National Disaster Medical System exercise

by 2nd Lt. Colette Martin
109th Air Wing

8/9/2013 - SCOTIA, N.Y. -- Members from several local agencies across the Capital District participated in a coordinated National Disaster Medical System Exercise on Aug. 8 and 9 at Stratton Air National Guard Base, Schenectady, N.Y.

The agencies consisted of members from the 109th Airlift Wing, 139th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, the Albany Stratton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Disaster Medical System, the Civil Air Patrol and the Alplaus Volunteer Fire Department.

During this exercise, patients were stabilized for transport, loaded onto an LC-130 Hercules and evacuated by members of the 139 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron who were sharpening their skills for an actual medical evacuation.

The patients, participating cadets from the Civil Air Patrol, were moved from the Aplaus Volunteer Fire Department to Stratton ANGB and loaded onto a C-130 for transport.

This exercise highlighted the vital function of the 109AW and 139AES in the NDMS and homeland defense mission as well as the cooperation and coordination between the 109AW and New York state civilian medical and emergency management assets.

This exercise demonstrated interagency partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Veteran's Affairs and the instrumental role of aeromedical evacuation in the national emergency response and national defense frameworks.

NDMS is a federally-coordinated system that augments the nation's medical response capability by combining federal and non-federal medical resources into a unified response to meet natural and man-made disaster needs, as well as support patient treatment requirements from military contingencies.

Stratton ANGB is a federal coordinating center whose mission is to recruit hospitals and maintain local non-federal hospital participation in the NDMS, coordinate exercise development and emergency plans with participating hospitals and other local authorities in order to develop patient reception, transportation, and communication plans, and during system activation, coordinate the reception and distribution of patients being evacuated to the area.

As members of the National Guard, the Airmen of the 109AW have responded to a number of state emergencies including Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

This exercise enabled the agencies to practice for future natural disasters.

The 109AW is the only unit in the United States military that flies aircraft equipped to land on snow. The wing provides support to National Science Foundation operations in Antarctica and Greenland and has also flown conventional C-130s in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Israel, Jordan, U.S. Face Common Threats, Dempsey Says

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

TEL AVIV, Israel, Aug. 12, 2013 – Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is on a multi-day trip to Israel and Jordan for discussions on how regional alliances and partnerships can help contain the evolving threats of terrorism and civil unrest in the Middle East.
Beginning his trip with a stop in Israel, Dempsey noted today that since he assumed office he has met with Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, chief of general staff of the Israeli defense forces, more times than any of his other counterparts.

Meetings between the two on this visit will be much like any other, though the challenges have become “even greater” since their last encounter, the chairman told reporters travelling with him.

“In each case, it’s a discussion about how he views the threats to Israel in the region, how we in the United States view the threats that could emanate out of the region -- globally and to the homeland -- and how we can continue to work together to make both of our countries more secure,” the United States’ top military officer said.

The chairman said he also expects the discussions with Gantz to include a fiscal dimension. Israel, he noted, is facing a cut in its own defense spending to balance a budget deficit.

“I know he’ll have exactly the same question for me,” he said. “So it’s important that we continue to share information; not just about the threats that might affect … us, but also about how changing resources have to be addressed in that equation.”

Dempsey noted that after leaving Israel he will travel to Jordan, a nation about which he has learned much since he took command of U.S. Central Command more than five years ago, he said.

“There, too, you’ve got a long-standing relationship with a military that has been a very close partner … and has also deployed with us,” he said. “Physically, with my counterpart, I want to understand how they see the issues -- both emanating out of Syria, but also emanating out of Egypt -- affecting their plans moving forward.”

Jordan has Syria on its northern border and, to the south west, Egypt lies less than ten miles across the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba. Dempsey last month called the situation in Syria “a human tragedy.” The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 Syrians have been killed in the conflict that has now raged in that country since March 2011. U.N. officials said the Syrian civil war has led to the world’s worst refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide -- more than 1.5 million Syrians have fled the country and millions more are internally displaced.

One of the central challenges in crafting an effective international response to Syria is identifying a moderate opposition group that might establish stability if Bashar Assad’s regime falls, Dempsey said. The chairman said part of the United States’ approach to the Syria situation is to increase the self-defense capabilities of its international partners, “whether those partners are Turks, through our NATO channels; Lebanese armed forces; Jordanian armed forces; Israelis -- and as well, the Iraqis,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey said U.S. partners in the region may become “even more eager partners” as events in Syria keep unfolding.

“I think our ability to find common ground and common purpose with our regional partners is actually increasing,” he added.

Conflict in the Middle East moves in cycles, Dempsey said, noting, “Our adversaries will always migrate where we’re not, on that spectrum of conflict.”

He added that one of the lessons of history is that “What is symmetric today is asymmetric tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow it’s symmetric again. It’s a series of actions, reactions and counteractions.”
The challenge facing America and its close partners, Dempsey said, is how to build agility into the system, not abdicate any point on the spectrum of conflict, and find ways to collaborate and even become interdependent.

Those kinds of conversations, he added, “I have with our closest allies.”

C-130 loadmasters: A deployed balancing act

by Senior Airman Bahja J. Jones
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

8/12/2013 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Who can balance an aircraft with passengers and cargo thousands of feet in the air?

C-130 Hercules loadmasters can! In fact, loadmasters assigned to the 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron here deployed from the Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., are responsible for properly configuring the plane for its varying missions and perform a balancing act of up to 42,000 pounds, both passengers and cargo, to ensure the weight is evenly distributed throughout the aircraft.

"We have to consider the space to make sure we have enough room for the cargo and the passengers, but also take into consideration the weight and balance," said Senior Airman Grant Bednar, a 746th EAS loadmaster. "We secure everything so that where the cargo ends up is safe for everyone on board and for the aircraft to perform the way it's supposed to."

Missions supported by Herc loadmasters here allow them an opportunity to directly impact forward operations within the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility and offer a firsthand perspective.

"We haul people around - they are covered in dirt and we know they've been in some nasty places," said Bednar. "So whether we are taking them home or moving them to another location where they are needed more, it's really rewarding because we see firsthand the impact. We see the people and how exhausted they are and how eager they are to see us -- we are their mode of transportation, their relief."

The C-130 loadmasters deployed here perform two main duties. They include duty loadmasters, who perform the pre-flight and help assemble the aircraft on the ground before the initial start of a mission, and "flying" loadmasters, who are attached to the aircrews and reassemble the aircraft as needed throughout the missions.

Duty loadmasters do whatever they can for the crews to minimize the amount of work the aircrews have to do prior to take-off, explained Tech. Sgt. Wolfe Wendell, a 746th EAS duty loadmaster.

"Ultimately the loadmasters on the aircrew are responsible for assembly of the plane," Wendell said. "The duty loadmaster will make sure the aircraft is prepped, loaded and ready to go. If they have to reconfigure on the ground, the duty loadmaster is responsible for that, but once the aircraft is in the air, that responsibility falls on the aircrew."

Some of the missions they fly have multiple legs, or stops, and have to be reassembled at each destination.

"We could leave here with an aircraft full of passengers and the next flight could be all cargo," Bednar said. "So it's the loadmaster's job to get the plane into the next configuration."

Loadmasters operate on a strict timeline and must swiftly, but safely, rearrange the plane as many times as needed to support the mission. Sometime the requirements will change last minute and they have to quickly make changes to support the new requests.

"We have to make sure we are effective in meeting those timelines and get the people and cargo where they need to go," said Senior Airman Nick Brandt, also a 746th EAS loadmaster. "We strive to maintain 100 percent mission completion."

In addition to assembling the aircraft properly for each mission, they also have to calculate how the weight is distributed through the aircraft. It's their job to ensure the Herc is within its limits enabling safe operations.

"Making sure the weight is correct and everything is secure and isn't going to move during the flight is important," Brandt said. "If the plane is 'out of limits,' either at the front or the back of the plane, it could cause a plane to fall from the sky. Not only are the pilots able to feel it when they take off, but if the plane isn't correctly balanced it could cause a lot of damage and puts the lives of aircrews and passenger at stake."

With a mission capability supporting so many varying missions, Herc loadmasters need flexibility to accommodate several different types of operations.

"That's what I love about the C-130s; they are so versatile. We can transport cargo and passengers, support aeromedical evacuation missions and even air drops for troops on the ground under fire who really need the things we provide," Brandt said.

When performing airdrops, loadmasters must ensure the aircraft stays appropriately balanced while the weight is being shifted to avoid it being out of limits, explained Brandt.

Each support unit for the C-130s here are essential to ensuring mission success and they share a level of mutual respect and understanding of one another.

"Crew chiefs are extremely important because if something breaks on the aircraft, they make sure that everything is good to go for us before we even get out here," Brandt said. "In turn, we try and take care of them and help them out with their job and help with the post flight even on a long day, after a 16 hour flight, we'll stay after to try to help them out so they can get done and get back to other things that they need to do."

"We have the best maintainers in the fleet," Wendell added. "They keep the aircraft in the best shape and ready for anything, without their support, we couldn't do our jobs."

[Editor's note: This article is part three of a four part series highlighting the Airmen essential to the C-130 Hercules' deployed mission here.]

Alaska Command welcomes new boss: Lt. Gen. Handy

by Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
673 Air Base Wing Public Affairs

8/12/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Air Force Lt. Gen. Russell J. Handy became the commander of Alaskan Command in a change-of-command ceremony here, Aug. 9.

In addition to taking the reins of ALCOM, Handy is also the new commander of 11th Air Force and Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command Region. Handy replaces Air Force Lt. Gen. Stephen Hoog, who had held command since November 2011.

Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command and Commander, U.S. Northern Command, presided over the change ceremony.

"General Handy is eminently qualified to wear the many hats of this diverse and vital command," Jacoby said. "I'm delighted by his assignment and proud to serve with him."

In his speech to a packed audience, Jacoby addressed the new ALCOM commander.
"Your selection to lieutenant general demonstrates the nation places its highest confidence in you by entrusting you with its greatest treasure - the men, women and mission of these commands. I know these [Artic Warriors] will be side-by-side with you as they always have been in the execution of your duties."

The new ALCOM commander, who pinned on the rank of lieutenant general during a promotion ceremony preceding the change of command, expressed gratitude and excitement as he began running a command with more than 26,000 members assigned.

"It's humbling to stand up here with all you heroes and with all the men and women of this diverse command," Handy said. "To be given the opportunity to command at all is a privilege, and an incredible honor."

Handy said it is the spirit of togetherness and community that will make the ALCOM mission a success.

"What I think is perhaps most impressive in this Alaska context is not the strategic criticality but it's the small town feel that envelops you when you walk into this state. You get the impression we're all in this together."

Handy closed his speech by addressing the men and women now under his command.

"You're changing the world each and every day up here," he said. "The good news is you're going to continue to excel at that and make wonderful contributions for your country. The challenging part is going to be doing that in this resource-constrained environment. As we navigate through these challenges, energetic men and women from within our ranks and across our community with creative ideas and positive motivation are going to get us through this. We will make good decisions and give sound recommendations to our national leadership because we work through these issues together."

ALCOM is a subunified command of U.S. Pacific Command, responsible for maximizing readiness for Alaskan servicemembers and rapid global deployments.

The new ALCOM commander comes to JBER from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, where he was the Director of Staff for Headquarters Pacific Air Forces.

Handy entered the Air Force in May 1983, through the Air Force Officer Training School and has served in 18 assignments: five overseas and 13 stateside, including his current assignment. The general previously served at JBER from July 2003 to August 2005 as the commander of the 3d Operations Group.

General Handy is a command pilot with more than 3,600 flight hours, having flown the F-15A/B/C/D/E, T-37 and T-38. He is a graduate of, and was an instructor, at the USAF Fighter Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nev.

Additionally, Handy is a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical science. He has a Master of Science degree in administration from Central Michigan University, and is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and Air War College.

Hoog moves on to his new duties as Assistant Vice Chief of Staff and Director, Air Staff, U.S. Air Force, Pentagon, Washington D.C.

DM Airman picks up logistician of the year

by Senior Airman Camilla Elizeu
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Public Affairs

8/12/2013 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.,  -- A Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Airman has been named Air Force logistician of the year.

Senior Airman Sammie Ervan, a base support plan manager, was nominated for the award in 2012 and selected Aug. 6, 2013. His supervisor at the time, Staff Sgt. Mariko McClain, prepared the package without his knowledge.

"The first I heard about it was through email from someone I know at the Pentagon," Ervan said. "I used to coach his children on the basketball and baseball teams here, and he recently moved to Washington, D.C. to take a special-duty job at the Pentagon."

In Ervan's nomination package, his supervisor referred to him as number one of 2,456 Airmen as well as terms such as masterminded, spearheaded, academically superior, dedicated, out in front, and many more.

Ervan filled a lot of the roles of a noncommissioned when deployments left his work-center short staffed.

"My leadership looked upon me to bridge the gap between the Airmen and NCOs in our office," said Ervan. "So, I stepped up and helped the other Airmen throughout the process."

Ervan proved himself worthy of Senior Airman Below the Zone when his unit's manning was slashed in half. BTZ is a competitive early promotion program offered to enlisted U.S. Air Force personnel in the rank of Airman 1st Class. This early promotion opportunity is restricted to elite Airmen who stand out from their peers and perform duties at a level above their current rank.

Ervan earned Airman of the Year 2012 and quarterly award winner two quarters in a row at base level.

"The most amazing part was the surprise," Ervan said. "I had no idea I was even thought of when it came to these awards, especially the Logistics Readiness Airman of the Year award."

Ervan finds that the Operational Readiness Inspection in 2012 was the most challenging event due to minimal manning.

"It was a real challenge for us as a shop to do the required work with half the shop," Ervan said. "But I do feel that I learned a lot, and the challenge was very well accepted."

After earning so many awards, Ervan is still humble.

"I understand that individual awards recognize an individual's hard work," Ervan said. "But I would like to see an award like this for our whole office. It wasn't just me in there, and I had to learn from somebody."

Ervan goes on to say that without the help and training of McClain, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Franklin, 355th Logistics Readiness Squadron, and Master Sgt. Anthony Bullen 355th Logistics Readiness Squadron, he would not have received recognition for this award or even been able to help their deployment control center pass an ORI.

Deployed Airmen leave a lasting mark

944th Fighter Wing

8/12/2013 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Even while deployed and working long hours Airmen take the time to leave a lasting mark on their deployed location.

Master Sgt. Kenneth M. Fay, from Luke Air Force Base, and Senior Airmen Patricia Walker and Andrew Brinza, both from Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, did just that by designing and building a wall mural with the Air Force Creed and two podiums to be used for monthly promotion and recognition ceremonies and other events at their deployed location in Southwest Asia.

At the request of the local commander and group superintendent the Top 3 organization took lead on the project with the help of the Airman's council.

Fay designed and built the creed, while Walker painted all of the lettering by hand spending about 25 hours of off duty time completing the project. Brinza built the two podiums from junk lumber and plywood.

"It is pretty amazing what our Airman can do when they want to," said Fay. "Neither of them ever asked me once what was in it for them. We were tasked with this on July 11 and had it completed and on the wall on July 25."

Team Kadena mourns loss of downed helicopter crew member

by 18th Wing Public Affairs

8/10/2013 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Officials confirmed today the death of a technical sergeant assigned to the 33rd Rescue Squadron here following Monday's crash of a helicopter in the Central Training Area, Okinawa.

Tech. Sgt. Mark A. Smith, 33rd RQS flight engineer, died when the HH 60G Pave Hawk helicopter in which he was flying went down during a training mission. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

"Smitty was a total professional and true warrior," said Lt. Col. Pedro Ortiz, 33rd RQS commander. "He led by example and was wise beyond his young age of 30. In combat or out, I am proud to call him my brother."

Smith, originally from Bakersfield, Calif., joined the Air Force on July 5, 2000, after graduating high school.

"He was a quiet guy outside the aircraft, but in the aircraft, a totally different person," Ortiz said. "In the aircraft, he was blunt and told you how it was. I loved that. His ever-present drive was to make you better and to take care of everyone in combat."

During Smith's 13 years of service, he advanced as a structural maintenance specialist before entering flight engineer upgrade training in 2008. Since arriving here in the fall of 2011, Smith deployed twice to Afghanistan with the 33rd RQS, where he participated in numerous missions to save the lives of service members on the ground.

"One that stands out is the rescue of a commando in the Kamdesh," Ortiz said. "They were under fire by rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns. Smitty was rock solid with his hoist despite the imminent and close threats."

During this rescue, a photo was taken by a combat photographer who was nearby in an overwatch position, Ortiz said. The photo has since gone viral in the rescue community. Upon returning from this deployment, Smith was presented the Air Force Commendation Medal by then-18th Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Matt Molloy in a ceremony here.

Off the battlefield, Smith is remembered as a caring father, mentor and friend.

"Smitty was a mentor to all the young Airmen and pilots; he was a father figure to those that didn't have one," Ortiz said. "He and his wife took care of those in need. They always had lots of single Airmen over to his house."

He is survived by his wife, Jessica, also from Bakersfield. The couple has two daughters.

"Team Kadena has lost a hero," said Brig. Gen. James Hecker, 18th Wing commander. "Our hearts are with Smitty's family, friends and loved ones. We all suffer through the loss of one of our precious own."

Hecker urged anyone needing assistance at this difficult time - or who knows someone who may need assistance - to ask for help by contacting their supervisor or any Team Kadena chaplain.

The other three crew members involved in the mishap were rescued by emergency responders and received medical care at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa.

Here in Japan, the 33rd Rescue Squadron is most recently known for its role in providing disaster relief and search and rescue functions during Operation Tomodachi following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that devastated mainland Japan.

The Pave Hawk's primary mission is to conduct day or night personnel recovery operations. It also supports civil search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster response and humanitarian assistance.

More details will be released as they become available.

Two Easy Ways for Congress to Raise its Public Approval Rating

Commentary by former US Army soldier Stephen P. Tryon

(First published in The Hill)

The recent article “Rancor in Washington Fans Public Disapproval” (Wall Street Journal, p. A1, July 24) notes that public disapproval of Congress has reached an all-time high of 83%.  More telling still, the same article indicates people are finally making the shift from a general disapproval of Congress to a specific disapproval of the members of Congress who represent them—only 32% indicated their congressional representatives deserved re-election.  These statistics should bother members of Congress.  Sixteen months from now, Americans will have the chance to replace 87% of Congress if enough Americans choose to replace the Senators and Representatives who will stand for re-election next year.  There are two easy steps our Senators and Representatives can take now that will dramatically improve the public approval rating of the United States Congress.

First, members of Congress need to change their websites to get them out of the 1990’s and into the 21st century.  Any internet executive will tell you that an engaging website is the key to driving desired behaviors by customers.  Yet the websites of our members of Congress are still little more than electronic bulletin boards:  one-way streets for members to pound their chests and tell us how wonderful they are.  The techniques for soliciting constituent input are old-school and perfunctory:  we can write letters or send emails, texts and blogs.  These techniques are the 1990’s equivalent of a suggestion box—they offer no meaningful affirmation that a constituent’s input will be read or acted upon, and no feedback that shows an aggregation of what other voters think.  Skyrocketing disapproval ratings tell us something needs to change.

Marketing professionals like to talk about the “call to action” in their promotional materials.  They also like to talk about the “value proposition” included with any offering.   The websites of our members of Congress have neither calls-to-action nor value propositions that are meaningful to most voters.  Incorporating some basic features common to virtually all internet businesses would be easy.  Member’s websites should have a secure account for every voter registered in that member’s district (or state, for websites of senators).  Every bank in America has a secure-account feature; Congress could adopt this technology in short order.  Once this feature is in place, a member of Congress could solicit input from her constituents (call to action!) and display the results of all input received to date as a reward for citizen participation (value proposition!).  This simple strategy alone would dramatically and rapidly improve public approval ratings for Congress.

Second, members of Congress could all agree to take the Political Courage Test available online at  Richard Kimball, the President of Project Vote Smart, tells me that the numbers of congressional representatives who take the Political Courage Test has dropped from about 75% to less than 20% over the past 15 years.  It has become common wisdom in both major parties that taking the test is politically risky because it forces yes or no answers to questions that officials would prefer to answer in an essay.  But this merely highlights another major source of the public’s dissatisfaction.  Many people have trouble telling politicians apart because of the politicians’ unwillingness to clearly take a stand on many issues.  Last year’s presidential debates exemplified this problem:  each candidate accused the other of holding views which the other candidate subsequently denied.   When each of the two leading candidates for the presidency of the United States cannot discern what the other believes, we have a communication problem.

There is undoubtedly risk for a politician to communicate clearly and succinctly, but it is a job requirement of any elected public servant to accept that risk.  Even as a business executive, my colleagues expect me to answer yes or no to yes-or-no questions, providing additional detail if invited or as required.  This standard of conduct is essential for accountability to our shareholders and our employees.  Congress has sent many Americans in harm’s way in recent years.  Those Americans have gone willingly because they were sworn to defend our Constitution.  Members of Congress also take an oath to defend our Constitution—they should not be exempt from the political risk of taking a standardized Political Courage Test.

The mere fact that members of Congress shy away from the test implies that they are somehow tricking voters into sending them to Washington through clever messaging.  Consumers today are uncomfortable with this ambiguity.  We can compare prices between like products using our cell phones as we walk from store to store.  The fact that our elected officials feel it necessary to avoid a clear, standardized statement of their beliefs contributes to the public’s perception that members of Congress are hiding something, telling us what we want to hear at campaign events while doing we-know-not-what when out of public view.  Having every sitting member of Congress take the Political Courage Test would send a clear message to Americans that our representatives are committed to giving us what we vote for.

Two simple steps could rapidly and dramatically improve the public approval ratings for the United States Congress.   Adopting standard 21st century web site technology would engage voters and give them the immediate gratification of knowing their views count.  Taking the non-partisan Political Courage Test en masse would send a clear message that members of Congress care about the public’s perceptions and are doing their part to provide effective governance.

More about Stephen P. Tryon

Security Forces Airmen return from Deployment

by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel
142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

8/9/2013 - PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore. -- After more than six months deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, 26 members of the 142nd Fighter Wing Security Forces Squadron returned here to the excitement of family members, friends and co-workers, who were on hand to greet them during the previous two days.

The Airmen departed for Al Udeid, Qatar in early Jan. of this year after pre-deployment training at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., prior to the deployment.

Speaking to the members as they begin their in processing phase, Brig. Gen. Michael Stencel, Oregon Assistant Adjutant General for Air, addressed the Airmen and related his experience at Qatar, having been deployed there a year before.

"It feels especially good to welcome you back having gone through that exact experience," he said.

As part of their assignment of providing 24/7 protection, members separated into different shifts and sectors, covering flight line security, base patrol, vehicle search areas and supply.

"I can already tell that you have matured and gone through many challenges during your time away," said Stencel.

Talking about all of the new changes within the Oregon National Guard since their deployment, Stencel introduced the new Oregon Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Daniel Hokanson to the Airmen. Hokanson officially took over for Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, who retired on July 31st.

"Your reputation procedures you, having had Gen. Rees tell me everything about your work prior to going into this deployment," said Hokanson.

Working on multiple mission sets, the group conducted a wide range of security operations for the largest transit hub in the U.S. Central Command.

"I know you did a great job and everything I've heard about your work has been extremely positive," said Hokanson.

As part of their in processing, the Airmen gathered to take time to reflect on their mission with refreshments donated by local business and sponsored by the United Service Organizations (USO). This also gave Oregon National Guard Leaders a chance to spend some personal time and thank their troops in a less formal manner.

"It's just good to have you guys home and safe," said Col. Rick Wedan, 142nd Fighter Wing Commander, as he took time to interact with unit members one-on-one.

Hearing stories from the Airmen about the extreme heat and temperatures in Qatar while they were deployed, Wedan joked about the conditions in his office over the last few months.

"A few times, I have complained about the air conditioning not working in my office during the summer, but I've got nothing on you guys," he said.

Airmen later had briefings from Family Programs, the base finance office, personnel, medical and others as they begin the process of reintegration.

A formal demobilization ceremony is planned for later in October of this year.

Previous to this deployment, the 142nd Fighter Wing Security Forces have had prior assignments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and support Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Leaders discuss roles of reserve components

by Col. Bob Thompson
Air Force Reserve Public Affairs

8/12/2013 - WASHINGTON -- Continuing to perform an operational role, while solving manpower costs and dealing with shrinking defense budgets highlighted topics discussed at the Reserve Officers Association 2013 National Security Symposium.

More than 300 people attended the conference Aug. 7-10 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. They included senior leaders from the Department of Defense and its reserve components.

"There's lots of talk on operational verses strategic reserve," said Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, chief of Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command. "Each service is a bit different, but for the Air Force, it is crucial we have 'Tier One' readiness."

Tier One readiness means being ready to go immediately by keeping the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard trained to the same standards as the Regular Air Force.

Speed is the decisive factor when crisis erupts, said Jackson during a panel discussion with his fellow reserve component chiefs.

During a "State of the Air Force Reserve" briefing, Maj. Gen. Richard S. Haddad, deputy to the chief of Air Force Reserve at the Pentagon, discussed a new organization expected to have "synergistic benefits that will pay huge dividends" for national defense.

"Earlier this year the newly created Air Force Special Operations Air Warfare Center stood up at Duke [Field, Fla.]," said Haddad. "This center brings together more than 500 active-duty and reserve Airmen for the special operations mission."

He added that the Air Force Reserve is planning to add five more "associate units" where reservists share equipment and facilities with active-duty Airmen in the growing fields of cyberspace, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

As the defense budget continues to streamline and officials look for new ways to save money, talk often goes to merging the Guard and Reserve.

"It's now more important than ever that those in the D.C. beltway understand there is a difference between the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve," said Haddad. "We are all brothers and sisters in arms... but we need to remind people there are differences."

The Air Force Reserve is a federal Title 10 force, always at the service of the president and secretary of defense. The Air National Guard maintains dual status, day-to-day serving in Title 32 at the service of a state's governor. Guardsmen serve under a Title 10 or federal status only when mobilized or as a volunteer with the consent of their state leadership.

Haddad outlined the history of merger attempts in 1948, 1964 and 2003 and how the past proposals were not able to successfully save money and cover the requirements for a ready-now federal reserve and support the governor-controlled state militias.

"So the talk of the Guard assimilating the Reserve or the Reserve assimilating the Guard likely isn't within political reality," said Haddad. "Better integration needs to be a focus of our efforts."

"Today's debate should be centered on how to best capitalize on our strengths and core competencies to improve the Total Force team," said Jackson. "We're optimistic about the future, and we're working hard to shape the Air Force for the future fight in 2023."

Jackson affirmed that federal laws such as Title 10 USC 12304(a) guarantee the Air Force Reserve is accessible for homeland support during national emergencies and natural disasters. Also, Title 10 USC 12304(b) provides combatant commanders and department of defense planners a way to incorporate cost-effective reservists into their reoccurring steady-state plans.

Both laws were enacted in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. The laws support today's "Operational Reserve" being critical to the daily operations of the U.S. military at home and around the world.

Broadcasters reel in TEC's Smoky Short Course

by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
I.G. Brown Training and Education Center

8/12/2013 - MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. -- When Air National Guard broadcasters are not knocking out ancillary training or attending to readiness requirements, their weekend unit training assemblies occasionally call for them to develop news stories.

To help ensure they produce professional work, the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center recently offered the Smoky Short Course, with all kinds of hands-on assignments and peer-to-peer critiques aimed to get those award-winning broadcasts completed by weekend's end.

The Smoky Short Course is now on its second year here as a Professional and Continuing Education offering.

A dozen broadcasters from bases across the nation graduated August 9. After five-day's training, they had news broadcasts prepared for airing on the National Guard's "Minuteman Report."

"I want them to get the confidence to know that they can go back home and do this work too," said Master Sgt. Bill Conner, course instructor.

Conner said that the course is popular and that it fills a gap in the Air Force's technical training. He explained that the past merger of videographers and broadcasters fell a little short of providing the one-on-one instruction needed to develop quality broadcasts. The course addresses that shortfall and also provides an excellent "brush up" on the skills some may already have.

The course is useful to all experience levels, said Conner. It does not take long for the classroom to be strewn with a variety of student cameras, laptops, tripods, lighting, wiring and other accessories. That in itself leaves much to share and learn from.

The students received instruction on camera skills and journalism techniques in news events. They also met with a local broadcast news reporter who told them how to get the most out of their work.

In their final assignment, students were given roughly the same time as a busy drill weekend to produce a news story from a number of missions and personnel.

"For me, it's a lot of refresher and review, definitely worth coming for," said Airman 1st Class Aaron Brown, a broadcaster from the 150th Fighter Wing in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Brown serves on drill weekends and works fulltime as a floor director for a local news station. With the training from the Smoky Short Course, he said he hopes to develop news broadcasts on his state's "Red Horse" civil engineer squadron.

"I'll be getting more and more active, especially trying to find stories," said Brown.