Military News

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fighting fire with desire

by Staff Sgt. Jacob Morgan
380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs


8/15/2013 - SOUTHWEST ASIA  -- Running into a civil engineer warehouse with reports of fire and two victims trapped inside and no other information, Airman 1st Class Andre Adams, the man on the hand-line hose, checks the door for heat with the back of his hand, opens it and charges through the smoke. At that moment, he has no idea what could be inside. Staff Sgt. Aaron Theriault immediately yells to move right to sweep the wall, peering through debilitating smoke using a thermal imaging camera, he notices two smaller heat signatures - the victims.

Within a few seconds, Theriault makes more than 10 decisions that could mean the difference between life and death. Make sure his team and equipment are ok, get the victims out, extinguish the fire and search for secondary fires are just a few of his thoughts.

"At an emergency scene, anything can happen so we set up our scenarios that way," said Tech. Sgt. Robert Edwards, 380th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department NCO in charge of training and logistics, deployed from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. "Every emergency is different, every situation is different. When our firefighters go in, they may have limited information about the situation."

Being able to make decisions on the spot in the face of danger does not come without experience, according to Edwards. There are a million things that could go wrong and only one outcome that is right.

Knowing the difference between what type of materials are burning and how a fire will react to the influx of oxygen when the doors are opened could save a building, a firefighter's life, or a combat mission downrange, said Edwards.

Every training scenario has a purpose; some of them have requirements to fulfill from the Air Force Civil Engineer Center while others are there to test the crew chief's critical thinking skills. However, every training scenario ends with a debriefing to determine performance and lessons learned.

"We have to critique ourselves, it's the only way we get better," said Edwards. "We give our guys freedom of thought, experience is important and a different thought process is ok as long as it coincides with our established procedures. We want the team to think about how to accomplish our three primary goals; save lives, protect property and keep the environment safe."

The desire to learn has to trickle down from the crew chief to each team member according to Adams, who is a fairly young firefighter.

"My main responsibility being the first one in the door is to be the eyes for my crew chief. I have to be on the lookout for any concerns. It's everyone's responsibility to make a safety call," said Adams, deployed from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. "If I see a wall about to buckle and my crew chief doesn't, I am going to call it out."

Having fought real fires before, Adams knows this training will sharpen his skills, his thought processes and his team's cohesion -- three skills that could possibly mean the difference between his life, the victim's life and death.

According to Adams, the only difference between a real fire and a training scenario is the heat put off by the flames and the unpredictability of the fire. Everything else is the same.

"I take the same mindset to training as I do the real thing," said Adams. "If you do your best, it will build confidence and build skills. When we do our de-brief, we learn, we take those lessons and apply them to a real fire situation to save lives."

(Editor's Note: The specific location of this training exercise is withheld for security reasons.

Youngstown team highlights capabilities to AF commission

by Master Sgt. Bob Barko Jr.
910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


8/14/2013 - YOUNGSTOWN AIR RESERVE STATION, Ohio -- Members of the 910th Airlift Wing here provided statements to the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force at a hearing at the Ohio statehouse in Columbus, July 30. A group from the 910th also met with members of NCASF as the commission toured Mansfield-Lahm Air National Guard Base, Ohio, July 31.

The Citizen Airmen highlighted the capabilities of the wing and Youngstown Air Reserve Station during the meetings with the commission.

The NCASF was formed to conduct a comprehensive study of the structure of the Air Force to determine whether, and how, the structure should be modified to best fulfill current and anticipated mission requirements for the Air Force consistent with available resources.

To date, the NCASF has visited Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.; Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Springfield, Rickenbacker and Mansfield ANG bases, Ohio; Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., and Barksdale AFB, La.

The NCASF is scheduled to visit Tinker AFB, Okla., Pease ANGB, N.H., Westover AFB, Mass., Burlington ANGB, Vt., Camp Smith/Hickam Field, Hawaii, and Beale AFB, Calif.

During their visits at each location, the commission will tour facilities, hear mission briefings and meet Airmen at wing, group and squadron levels. Also, the commission will hold off-base hearings with state and local community leaders as well as members of the public.

The commission is led by the Honorable Dennis M. McCarthy, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general and the previous assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs at the Pentagon. The vice chair is the Honorable Erin Conaton, a former undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and previous undersecretary of the Air Force.

Other members of the commission include: F. Whitten Peters, former secretary of the Air Force; Les Brownlee, former acting secretary of the Army; retired Air Force Gen. Raymond Johns Jr., previous commander of Air Mobility Command; retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. "Bud" Wyatt III, previous director of Air National Guard; Dr. Janine Davidson was a deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Plans, and Dr. Margaret C. Harrell is the director of the Army Health Program at the RAND Corporation.

Travis Airman will give it a 'shot' in European air forces championship

by Senior Airman Cindy Alejandrez
349th Public Affairs


8/14/2013 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- Tech. Sgt. Renea Zachary, who stands at 6 foot, weighing 180 pounds, is much taller and thinner than the average sized javelin or shot put thrower.

However, the C-5 Galaxy loadmaster with the 312th Airlift Squadron here is joining a select group who will compete in the 2013 U.S. Air Forces in Europe Headquarters Air Command Athletics Championships in Furstenfeldbruck, Germany, Sept. 3-5.

She will have an opportunity to demonstrate her skills as part of the Air Force track and field team, competing against European air forces athletes. She is one of only six women, and one of 23 Airmen selected, as part of her track and field team.

This is her second time participating in this competition, she first competed in Belgium in 2011. Then, Zachary placed second with the javelin and earned first place in the shot put event. Her women's team came in first place overall.

"It was one of the best experiences, honestly," said Zachary.

This year Zachary said she feels better prepared for the competition in Germany. During the last event, she was given short notice when told she would be competing with the javelin. For the upcoming competition she has had more time to prepare, and is especially confident about her shot put throw. At the last competition, she beat out the second place winner by almost six feet.

"I feel pretty good, pretty comfortable about that event, but you never know who will show up," said Zachary. "There may be different players on the teams."

Before the event, she will attend a training camp at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. However, she has been training continuously to keep her form and technique in top shape.

"Really, just practicing throwing is the best thing I can do. Everything is on my own, so it's up to me to give the team a good competitive body," said Zachary.

Zachary, who now lives in Live Oak, Calif., was part of her track and field teams since junior high and throughout high school. Her talents earned her a scholarship to Oklahoma Christian University where she participated in the hammer throw, weight throw, discus, javelin, and shot put events. Although she doesn't consider the javelin and shot put throwing to be her strongest skills, she is excited to join her team and compete.

As for those close to her, they are proud she has earned the opportunity to represent the Air Force overseas.

Master Sgt. Stephen Burke, C-5 Galaxy loadmaster training instructor with the 312th AS, said he and others in the unit are very impressed with Zachary's work ethic. Because she is very self-motivated, they have all the faith in the world that she will thrive in the competition as well.

"Tech. Sgt. Zachary is a wonderfully professional and dedicated member of the Air Force," said Senior Airman Cassandra Love, C-5 Galaxy loadmaster, with the squadron. "Her dedication and enthusiasm for all she does will definitely show in her practice and competition. I wish her the best of luck and wonderful time in Germany, she's earned it."

Upgrades target decompression sickness in U-2 pilots

by Airman 1st Class Bobby Cummings
9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs


8/15/2013 - BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- There are a multitude of potential risks that exist while flying at more than 70,000 feet, and many of them have substantial consequences. Decompression sickness was one of the chief concerns for U-2 "Dragon Lady" pilots flying within arm's reach of the stars.

Commonly referred to as DCS, decompression sickness generally begins with the formation of nitrogen bubbles in blood or body tissues, and is caused by inadequate elimination of this dissolved gas after exposure to extreme pressures.

Thanks to an Air Force-wide effort, Cabin Altitude Reduction Effort (CARE) modifications have been implemented into 27 U-2 airframes, reducing the altitude equivalent within the cockpit from 29,500 feet, roughly the height of Mt. Everest, to 15,000 feet, while at altitude. The CARE modification reinforces the airframe structure, replaces valves, changes the bleed air system logic, and alters cockpit controls.

DCS was a major concern U-2 pilots faced prior to the CARE modification, according to Lt. Col. Brian Musselman, 9th Physiological Support Squadron commander.

The total cost of the CARE program for the 22 Aircraft which received modifications here was $8.7 million.

"It's heartening to know even in these financially constrained times money is being utilized to ensure the safety of our pilots," said Lt. Col. Colby Kuhns, 1st Reconnaissance Squadron commander. "Since the CARE modifications have occurred, there have been no reported DCS incidents."

U-2 pilots reported an increased number and severity of neurological DCS incidents during 2002-2009 compared to earlier periods . The CARE modification seeks to eliminate the risk of DCS.

"To eliminate the risk of DCS for U-2 pilots is phenomenal," Musselman said. "It's an operational solution for a human performance issue."

Lockheed Martin maintenance crews worked 10-hour shifts for six days a week from September 2012 to June 2013. To complete the project, an additional five airframes received CARE modifications at Program Depot Maintenance in Palmdale, Calif.

Each aircraft modification took 33 days to complete. At any given time, four aircraft were simultaneously receiving modifications, which minimized the number of available aircraft for missions.

"It was a huge team effort from the maintenance squadrons here and Lockheed Martin to maintain combat mission readiness for our pilots," said Col. Chad Clifton, 9th Maintenance Group commander. "Before CARE started, we were conducting 141 sorties per month. Once CARE commenced, we were still able to conduct 140 sorties per month, and we are very proud of that."

Thanks to the CARE modifications, the risk of DCS is decreased.

"Maintaining the health of our pilots is paramount," Clifton said. "An unhealthy pilot force would have substantial negative effects on mission capability. The CARE modifications are a game-changer for the U-2 community."

Team McConnell wins 2013 Verne Orr Award

by Master Sgt. Brannen Parrish
931st Air Refueling Group Public Affairs


8/15/2013 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- The Air Force recently named the 931st Air Refueling Group and the 22nd Air Refueling Wing the recipients of the Verne Orr Award.

McConnell Air Force Base was selected as the winner for the 2013 Verne Orr Award for its superior performance as a Total Force Initiative installation.

The Verne Orr Award was established by the Air Force Association in honor of former Secretary of the Air Force Verne Orr to recognize mission oriented unit accomplishments and achievements that used personnel to their full potential in order to accomplish the mission.

"This award is an example of the effectiveness of utilizing the Total Force to accomplish the mission of the Air Force," said Col. Mark S. Larson, 931st Air Refueling Group commander. "The 22nd Air Refueling Wing is an incredibly supportive host unit, and our strong partnership with them ensures that we as an Air Force Reserve tenant unit are able to successfully contribute to that mission."

The 931st Operation Support Squadron and 22nd Operation Support Squadrons submitted a joint package for the award, highlighting the accomplishments of the total force integration between the units in 2012.  In January Air Mobility Command announced that McConnell was the recipient for the major command.

According to the Installation commander, the award recognizes that the Total Force Concept is effectively practiced at the base.

"This award shows that Total Force Integration is more than just a catch-phrase here at McConnell," said Col. Joel D. Jackson, 22nd ARW commander. "When we all work together without worrying about who gets the credit, anything is possible."

Former JCS Chairman, Air Force Leader Passes Away

Air Force News Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15, 2013 – Retired Air Force Gen. David C. Jones, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who was also a chief of staff of the Air Force, passed away at age 92 on Aug. 10 at the Falcon’s Landing military retirement community in Potomac Falls, Va.


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Retired Air Force Gen. David C. Jones, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who was also a chief of staff of the Air Force, passed away at age 92 on Aug. 10, 2013, at the Falcon’s Landing military retirement community in Potomac Falls, Va. U.S. Air Force photo
  

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Jones served as the Air Force’s chief of staff from 1974 to 1978 until he was appointed as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff where he served as the military’s top officer until 1982.

Jones was assigned to a bombardment squadron during the Korean War and he accumulated more than 300 hours on missions over North Korea.

In 1969, Jones served in Vietnam as deputy commander for operations and then as vice commander of the Seventh Air Force.

A graduate of the National War College, the general was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1974, an honorary doctorate of laws degree from Louisiana Tech University in 1975, and an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree from Minot State College, Minot, N.D., in 1979.
Jones was born in Aberdeen, S.D., and graduated from high school in Minot, N.D., in 1939.

He attended the University of North Dakota and Minot State College until the outbreak of World War II. At that time, he entered the Army Air Corps, beginning aviation cadet training in April 1942.

Jones received his commission and pilot’s wings in February 1943.

At the time of his death, Jones was battling Parkinson’s disease.

Jones retired from the Air Force on July 1, 1982.

Florida-based Navy Squadron Completes First F-35C Sortie

American Forces Press Service
SAN DIEGO, Aug. 15, 2013 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, the Navy's first F-35C Lightning II carrier variant aircraft squadron, yesterday completed its first flight in its new aircraft at the squadron's home at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.


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An F-35C Lightning II aircraft piloted by Navy Lt. Cmdr. Chris Tabert, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101 based at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., flies the squadron's first local sortie on Aug. 14, 2013. U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin by Liz Kaszynski
  

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The 1.3-hour flight was made by VFA-101 aviator Navy Lt. Cmdr. Chris Tabert.

The flight followed an Aug. 8 decision by Commander, Naval Air Force, Pacific, Navy Vice Adm. David Buss, granting the Fleet Replacement Squadron interim "safe for flight" status.
"The Lightning II strike fighter represents the future business end of our nuclear powered aircraft carrier force, the embarked carrier air wing," Buss said. "The men and women of VFA-101 are now cleared to take the first steps toward that future as they operate these amazing Navy aircraft and train the aviators who will fly them."

"VFA-101's achievement of the Interim Safe for Flight criteria constitutes a significant milestone in the introduction of the F-35C Lightning II into the fleet," said Navy Capt. Mark Black, commander, Strike Fighter Wing, Pacific. "VFA-101 will now begin to schedule and perform sorties under their own charter from their facilities at Eglin AFB. This will permit the re-established Grim Reapers to begin training for the original flight instructor cadre that will teach future F-35C pilots in the intricacies of mastering the Navy's first 5th-generation fighter."

The squadron received the Navy's first F-35C from contractor Lockheed Martin on June 22. The Aug. 14 flight was the first in the new Navy aircraft flown by a VFA-101 pilot at Eglin.

"The first flight of Grim Reaper 102 today is the acme of many years hard work and planning by the sailors of VFA-101 and our Lockheed Martin partners and is an exciting first step in introducing the Navy's first 5th-generation fighter to fleet," said VFA-101 Commanding Officer Navy Capt. John Enfield. "Now that we're flying, we will be able to validate and evaluate both the pilot and maintainer syllabi as we train the initial cadre of instructors."

VFA 101 is the F-35C Fleet Replacement Squadron, training Navy aircrew and maintenance personnel to fly and repair the F-35C, a 5th-generation fighter that combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment.

"The Interim Safe for Flight will begin in earnest the training of the U.S. Navy personnel in how to maintain this impressive new aircraft," Black said. "Proficient Lockheed Martin technicians will lead sailors in verifying prescribed maintenance procedures that will ultimately be converted into a robust syllabus that will permit future Navy maintenance personnel to develop the skills necessary to ensure and sustain the flight integrity of the aircraft. Designating VFA-101 as Interim Safe for Flight signifies that the Navy F-35C has begun its service in naval aviation for real."

The F-35C will enhance the flexibility, power projection, and strike capabilities of carrier air wings and joint task forces and will complement the capabilities of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, which currently serves as the Navy's premier strike fighter.

By 2025, the Navy's aircraft carrier-based air wings will consist of a mix of the F-35C, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growler, E-2D Hawkeye, Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike air vehicles, MH-60R/S helicopters and Carrier Onboard Delivery logistics aircraft.

Airman captures images of EPME studies

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


8/15/2013 - MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. -- Tech. Sgt. Lakisha Croley from the 1st Combat Camera Squadron is putting together her photo album on what she did this summer: Noncommissioned Officer Academy.

Croley is an active duty Air Force photographer assigned at Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina. For the last six weeks she studied leadership here at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center, so she decided to photograph the experience.

"It's really out of habit," said Croley. "Whenever I go TDY, if I can bring my own camera equipment and just document what I'm doing and what I'm going through, I do that just to tell the story."

Croley serves in the largest of four Air Force combat camera squadrons. The squadrons give Defense leaders and the public firsthand images "during wartime, worldwide crises, contingencies, joint exercises, and other events," said officials.

"I like our purpose," she said. "I like that we are telling the military story and letting the public know what we are doing too."

She took hundreds of images on campus this summer, but her real focus was on future opportunities because Noncommissioned Officer Academy is needed for her next promotion.

The TEC's Paul H. Lankford EPME Center - a detachment of the Air National Guard Readiness Center - delivers both NCOA and Airman Leadership School to thousands of Total Air Force students each year, as well as Coast Guard and international students.

"I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to come here," she said.

She said her favorite part of the academy was learning the "Four Lenses" - a lesson that clarifies personality traits and their effect on communication and understanding.

"I want to be a good supervisor, and I want to take care of, and understand, my people," she said.

Croley said that an understanding of others can also be communicated through a camera's lens. She photographed candid images of service members in oversees contingency operations that helped communicate their service to viewers around the world.

"I think what makes a good military photo is a powerful image, something that needs no caption and evokes an emotion," said Croley.

Of the many moments she captured here, her favorite was of students training in the Profession of Arms - especially reveille and retreat practice with the flag.

"With the mix of Guard and Reserve and the active duty and international, there's some of us that don't do it very often," she said. "And [I liked] just capturing how people evolved into a working group," she said.

Croley plans to share her photographs with her classmates, so their summer scrapbooks can also hold memories at TEC.

"It's been a good experience, said Croley. "I've learned a lot."

Kentucky Air Guard unit verified for domestic disaster-response mission

by Maj. Dale Greer
123rd Airlift Wing


8/14/2013 - MASCOUTAH, Ill. -- When a natural disaster strikes the homeland, civilian authorities often find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the crisis.

Power and communications may be knocked out, roads and airports are frequently impassable or inoperative, and food or water can be dangerously scarce.

But the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Contingency Response Group was designed from the ground up to provide essential help during such emergencies, ensuring the rapid delivery of food, water, medicine and other assistance by airlift, even when local airports are closed, said Col. Mark Heiniger, the unit's commander.

On Thursday, those capabilities were verified by U.S. Transportation Command when the defense agency gave its stamp of approval to the 123rd, saying the unit was fully mission-capable to provide domestic disaster assistance to civilian authorities.

The verdict came at the end of a four-day earthquake-response exercise called Gateway Relief, during which the 123rd teamed up with the active-duty U.S. Army's 689th Rapid Port Opening Element from Fort Eustis, Va., to operate a Joint Task Force-Port Opening at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport here.

"The inspectors told us we knocked it out of the park and awarded us an overall grade of 'outstanding,' " said Heiniger, who also served as commander of the Joint Task Force-Port Opening. "They found no discrepancies in any of the five graded areas and said several of our functions were 'best seen to date.'

"That's a direct result of the hard work of our dedicated Airmen, but it's also an indicator of the exceptional performance turned in by our brothers and sisters in the 689th RPOE. The key to this mission was teamwork -- our motto going in was 'one team, one fight' -- and our Airmen and Soldiers lived it from the start."

A Joint Task Force-Port Opening, or JTF-PO, is a logistics hub that combines an Air Force Aerial Port of Debarkation with an Army trucking and distribution unit. The aerial port ensures the smooth flow of cargo and relief supplies into disaster areas by airlift, while the trucking unit facilitates final distribution over land, Heiniger explained.

The Army and Air Force units deploy with everything they need to operate, from all-terrain forklifts, satellite communications gear and sleeping quarters to aircraft mechanics, security forces and power-production specialists.

During Gateway Relief, Airmen from the 123rd offloaded cargo from inbound aircraft and passed it on to Soldiers from the 689th. The Soldiers then transferred the cargo to specialized pallets, called flat racks, and trucked it to a nearby cargo yard, called a forward node, where it was staged for final delivery to civilian authorities and relief agencies.

"We moved every piece of cargo the inspectors could throw at us, and we maintained a smooth flow of logistics from the airfield to the forward node at all times," said Lt. Col. Bruce Bancroft, director of the Joint Operations Center for Gateway Relief. "It was a seamless process, thanks to a high level of integration between the Army and Air Guard forces."

Army Capt. Charles Greene, commander of the 689th, also described the exercise as "seamless."

"Since we hit the ground, we were a purple force," he said. "Throughout the exercise, we had a synergy which resulted in a hugely successful mission. The Air Force and the Army came together as one."

Gateway Relief began Aug. 5 when a Joint Assessment Team of 11 personnel arrived via a Kentucky Air Guard C-130. Their initial task was to survey the notionally inoperative airport, determine whether the infrastructure could support large-scale relief operations, and provide a "go-no go" decision to U.S. Transportation Command within four hours of arrival.

The mission was based on a scenario in which two major earthquakes struck the New Madrid Seismic Zone, resulting in mass casualties and widespread destruction across Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Once the airfield was approved for use, more than 120 follow-on personnel began arriving from the 123rd and 689th, augmented by multiple planeloads of support equipment like tents, generators and communications gear, Bancroft said. By the end of the first day, the camp was fully operational, and relief supplies began flowing to the forward node.

From the very beginning, the 123rd's Airmen set new records for performance. The Joint Assessment Team, for example, was required to establish secure data communications with U.S. Transportation Command officials within four hours of landing, but the Kentucky team accomplished the task in just six minutes. In another case, Kentucky Air Guardsmen stood up a complex Small Package Initial Communications Element in only three hours and 10 minutes - nearly nine hours sooner than required by USTRANSCOM.

"Both of those accomplishments were all-time records for a JTF-PO mission," Bancroft said.

Greene noted that he had never seen a JTF-PO stood up so efficiently, and he praised the 123rd for its professionalism.

"It was an honor to work with the Kentucky Air Guard," he said. "I've been an evaluator before, and I couldn't ask to work with better people. If we ever get the call to respond to a crisis, I would want to go out the door with the 123rd. This is what right looks like."

The Kentucky group is one of only eight contingency response units in the U.S. Air Force and is the first fully operational CRG in the Air National Guard. In 2010, the unit was selected to establish and operate one of two overseas airlift hubs supporting earthquake-recovery efforts in Haiti, directing the delivery of hundreds of tons of relief supplies into the Dominican Republic for subsequent trucking to Haiti.

In 2012, the 123rd was verified by U.S. Transportation Command to perform the JTF-PO mission overseas.

Dempsey Visits U.S. Troops Serving in Jordan

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

AMMAN, Jordan, Aug. 15, 2013 – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey today capped a four-day Middle East trip with a visit to deployed U.S. troops partnering with Jordanian forces here.

Some 200-plus troops are here as U.S. Central Command Forward, Jordan -- a deployed element that coordinates between U.S. and Jordanian forces, as well as among other U.S. organizations, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. State Department, and the roughly 1,000 members of the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force in-country.

Much of the group comes from the headquarters of the U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Division, with augmentation from other services and a sprinkling of civilians. The team in Jordan also includes liaison officers linking them to the services, special operations forces, the U.S. Embassy in Jordan, USAID, Britain, Canada and France. Its primary focus is planning for Syria.

When he walked in to speak to the troops, Dempsey commented on the combined, joint team in front of him. The ability to form such teams, he said, is one of the things that make the U.S. military great.

The chairman then paused and looked around the tactical operations center. Surrounding him were plywood walls sporting horizontally mounted, waist-high conduit pipe enclosing communications cables, among folding chairs, computer monitors, and tiers of closely-packed work stations rising like bleacher seats in formation.

“Well, there are two things that make us great,” Dempsey amended. “One is the way we can build these plywood TOCs. I’ve never seen so much plywood in my life as I have in the last 10 years.”

Dempsey told his audience what they’re doing in Jordan demonstrates the partnering approach that defines today’s U.S. military. They also serve, he said, as eyes and ears able to see and hear regional ground truth daily.

“You’re here to help us principally partner with our Jordanian teammates, to ensure and assure them that in a very volatile region, at a very critical time in their history, they can count on us to continue being their partners,” the chairman said. “You’re also here to help … senior leaders of the U.S. military to understand the issues that are cascading through this region.”
Team members who spoke to reporters on background made it clear they do understand the issues. One said, “We’re here to help Jordan remain stable any way we can.”

While the State Department has the lead on all refugee and population issues, another team member said, the military supports that work with logistical and planning skills.

All the service members who spoke to reporters asserted they do not go across the border to Syria or into the refugee camps. They are there not to take charge or direct Jordan’s response, they said, but to contribute to it.

American F-16s and Patriot missiles are partnered with Jordanian forces as a defense and deterrent, group members said. Similarly, U.S. military chemical, biological and radiological specialists work with Jordanian forces, but again in a defensive mode, as they practice how to decontaminate people, equipment and facilities.

The U.S. group is based on the outskirts of Jordan’s capital, Amman. Several of the unit’s junior and mid-level leaders who talked with reporters showed a nuanced grasp of their mission: team with Jordan’s government and military to plan for contingencies, and “fill the gaps” in Jordan’s effort to incorporate yet another refugee population without alienating its own people. Doctrinally, it’s a “phase zero” operation, several noted: they are setting the conditions, and nothing else.

Jordan’s forces are professional, well-trained, and well-integrated with U.S. military leaders through school exchanges and shared deployments, one team member said, but added, “We’re very digital and they’re very analog.”

A primary effort for the unit, another said, was sharing some of the “breaking down the stovepipes” lessons the U.S. military has learned about joint operations and interagency cooperation.

Most troops at the planning group arrived in May or June, after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the mission in April. Power at the unit’s site is limited and prone to outages, and network issues early on slowed work considerably, though it now works well, one soldier noted. With no typical base support such as a commissary or an exchange, the troops turn to local options for shopping.

Dempsey praised the troops for their efforts, and thanked them and their families for their service and commitment.

“We are at our best when we can actually shape events and prevent conflict,” the chairman said. “And that’s another reason why we’re here.”

Dempsey has often said he’s impressed with how Jordan has welcomed and incorporated waves of refugees in the Middle East through the years. Palestinians, Iraqis and now Syrians have all found refuge there, but not without causing strain to the Jordanian population.

Jordanian authorities say their country has absorbed more than a half-million refugees -- about a 10-percent increase in their overall population -- from Syria since hostilities there began in March of 2011.

Throughout his trip to Israel and Jordan this week, Dempsey has consulted with defense leaders who, he said yesterday, all agree Syria is not likely to see peace soon, and a surge of conflict in the south could spike another wave of people fleeing from war to Jordan. A second danger leaders recognize, he said, is that extremist elements now opposing Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria may eventually export terrorism to other countries in the region, including Jordan.

The chairman told his audience today he doesn’t know whether the planning and coordination cell will become a permanent, named mission, or even whether the number of troops will grow or shrink. He added that the military professionals now here, with their intelligence, logistics, communications, air defense and other systems augmenting Jordan’s efforts, will help decide “what we need to do.”

Dempsey did tell the troops he expects the planning unit’s mission, like the Syrian conflict, to last for years, through several troop rotations.

“To be successful in phase zero we would have to reach a point where the Jordanians, our partners, felt themselves fully capable of dealing not only with their humanitarian crisis but also the potential that they would suddenly have to defend Jordan,” he said. “And they would have to reach that point against not only conventional but, likely, unconventional and terrorist threats.”

Medical General Urges Reserve Components to Look Forward

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15, 2013 – Addressing an audience of reserve and National Guard medical professionals here Aug. 7 at the Reserve Officers Association National Security Symposium, Army Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Richard A. Stone challenged the group to plan now for the future of military medical care in the field.

“[My] goal is to get you to think strategically about where we are going, and what we should be thinking about,” Stone, the Army’s deputy surgeon general and deputy commanding general for support, told the audience. “What should military medicine look like in 2020; where should we be in seven to 10 years from now?”

Stone’s remarks come at a time when the U.S. military is reducing the numbers of active-duty medical personnel and its overall troop strength.

“As we downsize the active Army, it only stands to reason that Army medicine is going to be downsized,” Stone said. “And in the process … the percentage of expeditionary capability with the Army reserve components will grow, and it’s my prediction it will grow 75 [percent] to 78 percent in the next decade.”

The strength of the reserve components has been proven “over and over again in these [past] 13 years [during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan],” he said.


But the future of military medicine will face obstacles, Stone cautioned.

“Our ability to sustain beds [in theater] will be challenged. We will continue to evolve as smaller and smaller ground platforms, and we will continue to [use] our coalition partners,” he noted.

A question Stone put before the audience was how to maintain reserve components as a rapid insertion force to support a “small portion of the active component of the medical force” that can allow medical personnel to move in on a rapid basis.

“We have been spoiled by a mature theater,” he said. “We haven’t opened a theater in more than a decade. What you need to think about is how to train your force to open [a theater].”

A “takeaway” Stone wanted for members of the audience was to plan for theater-opening exercises that comprise all components and joint forces, “especially with our NATO colleagues.”

“At the beginning of this war, a combat support hospital in the Army reserve took 140 days to go out. Today, those numbers are under 30 days and are equal to an active component,” Stone said.
“The only way we remain relevant is our ability to move out quickly with fully certified, fully-competent medical providers,” he added.

The soon-to-be-opened Defense Health Agency will offer education and training sustainment, Stone told the audience.

“You’re going to see way more robust e-learning, as well as modeling and simulation capabilities by 2016,” he predicted.

Fort Eustis personnel deploy to test their disaster response mettle

from Joint Task Force Civil Support Public Affairs

8/15/2013 - FORT EUSTIS, Va.  -- Personnel from Joint Task Force Civil Support deployed to Camp Atterbury, Ind. Aug. 10 to begin participation in a major joint field training exercise, Vibrant Response 13-2.

Approximately 3,500 Service members and civilians from the military, federal and state agencies, and various units from approximately 27 states and territories are participating in the exercise, projected to last until Aug. 17.

This multi-service, multi-agency exercise will evaluate the ability of JTF-CS and other Department of Defense entities to respond to a complex catastrophic event in a major metropolitan city involving a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear response (CBRN) incident.

During the exercise, the task force will be evaluated on the ability to effectively command and control the subordinate forces of the Defense CBRN Response Force (DCRF) on its six core functions: mission command, identification and detection of CBRN damage, technical and non-technical search and extraction of casualties, mass casualty and non-casualty decontamination, medical triage and stabilization, and medical and non-medical air and ground evacuation.

This exercise  is conducted annually by U.S. Northern Command and led by U.S. Army North to test federal response force ability to meet the expectations of the American people. It will feature realistic environments, fire and smoke effects, mannequins and civilian role-players to simulate a demanding nuclear disaster environment.

Vibrant Response 13-2 is the largest DoD confirmation exercise for specialized response forces to confirm the capability to maintain mission command, operate in a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear contaminated environment while on life-saving missions.

JTF-CS provides command and control for designated DoD-specialized response forces to assist local, state, federal and tribal partners after a simulated nuclear detonation in a major metropolitan city.

National Plan Supports Veterans’ Mental Health, Brain Injury Care

By Ellen Crown
U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Aug. 15, 2013 – Experts from the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs gathered here yesterday to discuss the future of veterans’ mental health and traumatic brain injury research efforts at the Military Health System Research Symposium.


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Army Col. Dallas Hack, director of the U.S. Army’s Combat Casualty Care Research Program, right, and Dr. Terry Rauch, health affairs director of medical research, left, discuss veterans’ mental health and traumatic brain injury research and care issues during the Military Health System Research Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Aug. 14, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Melissa Miller
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Discussion leaders included Health Affairs Director of Medical Research Dr. Terry Rauch, Acting Chief Officer of the VA Office of Research and Development Dr. Timothy O’Leary, U.S. Army’s Combat Casualty Care Research Program Director Col. Dallas Hack, Deputy Director of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center Katherine Helmick, and Uniformed Services University School of Medicine’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress Director Dr. Robert Ursano.

Discussions turned toward the National Research Action Plan, which is the result of an executive order signed a year ago by President Barack Obama to improve access to mental health services for veterans, service members, and military families.
The plan directs DOD and the VA to work with the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S.
Department of Education to share resources and complete certain goals, such as complete within the next year the current DOD-CDC-Brain Trauma Foundation mild TBI/concussion classification project to clarify what is known and unknown about mild TBI and the critical gaps that need to be addressed.

“The National Research Action Plan creates a common roadmap for medical leadership to follow as we move forward to work on incredibly complex issues,” said Hack, who is stationed at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command that’s headquartered at Fort Detrick, Md.

“The National Research Action Plan demonstrates a dedication across multiple agencies to close critical research and care gaps, both in the military and civilian sector,” Rauch said.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 2.5 million service members have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn. The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center data indicates there have been more than 250,000 cases of TBI in the military between 2000 and 2012. However, more than 80 percent of these cases were the result of non-combat injuries.

“Clearly, we are not going to stop seeing traumatic brain injuries, even in times of no war,” Hack said.
The NRAP also addresses the frequently co-occurring conditions, such as depression, substance abuse related to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, including the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs, and chronic pain, each of which can complicate the prevention and treatment of PTSD, TBI, and suicidal behaviors.

“The interrelationships between TBI, PTSD, and suicidality are complex, to say the least,” Ursano said. “In fact, I think it was this war that highlighted these areas in relation to each other, as a opportunity for further investigation for research and treatment.”

Announced within the NRAP is also the creation of two joint research consortia, including the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD and the Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium. The two consortia will be established within the next six months and are within the first phase of the NRAP.

The Consortium to Alleviate PTSD is a collaborative effort between the University of Texas Health Science Center – San Antonio, San Antonio Military Medical Center and the Boston VA Medical Center, with the goal of developing the most effective diagnostic, prognostic, novel treatment, and rehabilitative strategies to treat acute PTSD and prevent chronic PTSD.

The Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium is a collaborative effort between Virginia Commonwealth University, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and the Richmond VA Medical Center with the goal of examining the factors which influence the chronic effects of mild TBI and common comorbidities in order to improve diagnostic and treatment options.
A key point will be to further the understanding of the relationship between mild TBI and neurodegenerative disease.

“Mild traumatic brain injury is an area we need to continue to focus on, in terms of rapid evaluation, treatment and patient management,” Helmick said. Most service members with TBI, he said, have a mild injury or concussion.

“With a mild TBI, most service members can have a full recovery,” she said.

In its first 12 months the NRAP will focus on developing a more precise system to diagnose TBI and standardizing data on TBI and PTSD. Longer-term goals include confirming biomarkers for PTSD and TBI, identifying changes in brain circuitry after successful treatment, and exploring genetic risk factors.
“The plan lays out the next five years, but this is really a lifelong commitment,” O’Leary said. “That is the promise we make to our warfighters.”

Eglin AFB F-35 fleet exceeds 2K sorties, training presses on

by Maj. Karen Roganov
33rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs


8/15/2013 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --  -- Airmen and Marines assigned to the F-35 Integrated Training Center at the 33rd Fighter Wing here have consistently flown successful training sorties and generated their 2,000th sortie Aug. 13 with an instructor pilot of the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron-501 (VMFAT-501), at the controls.

Marine Maj. Adam Levine, who flew in a two-ship formation, said he was surprised with the news upon landing but said that is typical since the flightline members are focusing on safe and effective flying rather than keeping pace with data tracked by those in statistical analysis.

"Every sortie, every takeoff, every hour is a win for the F-35 enterprise," he said. From his cockpit, Levine also witnessed the first taxi of the U.S. Navy's F-35C carrier variant preparing for its maiden flight from Eglin AFB.

With the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy pressing forward to meet goals of initial operating capability in the next few years for their respective services, getting ample time in the air is crucial to meeting their timelines.

"Flying the 2,000th sortie highlights the accomplishments of the entire F-35 airpower team at Eglin AFB and moves us one step closer to the aircraft's initial war fighting capability," said Col. Todd Canterbury, the commander of the 33rd FW.

The Eglin AFB F-35A, B, and C variant joint training has been accomplished while operational and developmental test missions at flight test sites on the east and west coasts have been conducted simultaneously -- a process known as concurrency.

In these last couple weeks, Eglin AFB officials sent a handful of their pilots to Luke Air Force Base Ariz., to become the initial cadre of F-35A leaders at the 61st Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Wing, said Col. Stephen Jost, the commander of the 33rd Operations Group here. Luke AFB's first joint strike fighters are scheduled to arrive in spring 2014 with plans to grow to 144 aircraft in the out years.

For now, the Eglin AFB-based flyers are expanding their training curriculum as they double up to full aircraft strength in the spring with all 24 Air Force F-35As expected to be on base. Jost will lead the group's transition to the Block 2A aircraft, which carry upgraded computer software, in the first quarter of calendar year 2014 in order to accommodate more aircraft capabilities.

"We will increase the current syllabus from 6 student sorties to 8 and even 9 depending on when we will be cleared by the test community to fly at night," Jost said.

Aside from flight operations, this also entails transitioning the ground school instruction such as flying more advanced scenarios in the full mission simulator.

"The primary capability of Block 2A is use of the plane's multifunction advanced data link," he said.

Currently, voice transmission is the primary means of communication.

While Air Force planners is busy seeding Luke AFB with an initial F-35 team, the Marines have been doing the same for Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., just a short flight away.

Having trained up the initial cadre of U.S. and United Kingdom pilots and maintainers at VMFAT-501, Marines at Eglin AFB continue to train instructor pilots with a portion of the classes' students being operational test pilots. These pilots are standing up MCAS Yuma's operations at Marine Fighter Attack Squadron-121, Levine said.

In the near future, Eglin AFB's VMFAT-501 is preparing to conduct its first local short take-off and vertical landing of the F-35B, an accomplishment realized at MCAS Yuma in March that the VMFAT-501 helped make possible. Meanwhile, the Navy's Strike Fighter Squadron 101 at Eglin AFB, has conducted its first maintenance check flight yesterday, is preparing for its first student flight this week.

In the upcoming years, when operating at full capacity, the Eglin AFB fleet will grow to 59 aircraft with about 100 pilots and 2,100 maintainers graduating yearly.

The F-35 joint strike fighter program is a joint, multi-national program. In addition to U.S. armed forces, the F-35 increases operational flexibility and interoperability with the eight other international partners participating in the development of the aircraft. They are the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark, and Norway.

With so much history in the making, the F-35A, B and C fighter units at Eglin AFB are making strides for airpower for years to come, officials said.

"The versatile and high-tech aircraft will carry the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy into the next 50 years of air dominance, and the men and women here can reflect back knowing they were among the pioneers in its initial phases," Canterbury said.

Family tree rooted in military service

by Michael Golembesky
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer


8/13/2013 - CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. -- From the Civil War battlefields to modern day clearing operations in Iraq, the Deeds family has a long tradition of military service that is rooted deep in American history.

When it comes to recalling his family history, Scott "Scooter" Deeds, 721st Security Forces Squadron Plans and Programs chief at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, has details and stories that would capture the attention of any military history buff.

"We have got a tremendous amount of history in military service that (my family) had never really pieced together," said Deeds.

Deeds served in security forces and retired from the Air Force in 1998. When he retired, his father William Deeds gave him a family heirloom as a gift. It was a small, worn and tattered New Testament Bible from a tiny church in Little River, Kan., that Deeds' grandfather, Frank Elijah Deeds Sr., had carried with him in Europe during World War I.

During World War II, another Deeds family member, Frank Elijah Deeds Jr., was saved by a similar small Bible that he carried in his pocket.

"He was carrying the Bible in his left breast pocket, got shot and he went down. They assumed he was dead because he wasn't moving," Deeds said. But the bullet had struck the Bible and knocked him unconscious.

"He regained consciousness, got up and went on about his business," Deeds said.

Deed's son Roger carried on the legacy of military service when he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2003.

"9/11 shook-up a lot of people, and when we moved into full on war he really wanted to do his part. He wanted to be involved," Deeds said about his sons' motivation for joining the military.

The Deeds family has had a family member serve in every major conflict since the Civil War, but miraculously they have only lost one family member in combat.

"I was very guarded initially about him going into the Corps, knowing we are already at war and I knew he would be on the front line. When I watched him march across the parade deck at Parris Island I could see how proud he was," he said.

In 2004, on his first deployment to Iraq in the battle of Fallujah, Lance Cpl. Roger Deeds was wounded when his convoy was hit by a road side bomb. His Humvee was the third vehicle in the convoy when the first two vehicles were destroyed killing some of his fellow Marines.

"I look at my great-grandfather; they didn't have a choice, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam. None of them had a choice but they all served because they felt they needed to give back, they needed to protect the United States," he said. "I look at our young people nowadays, my nephews, my nieces, my son, those serving in my unit, the Air force and our sister services. They are choosing to do this freely, that says a lot about our young people," he added.

On Nov. 16, 2005, Lance Cpl. Deeds was killed by sniper fire as he was providing medical care to a wounded Marine during Operation Steel Curtain in the town of New Ubaydi, Iraq. He was assigned to Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

"Would I change anything? No, no I wouldn't," Deeds said. "He died doing exactly what he wanted to do, carrying on the legacy."

Face of Defense: Army Women Qualify for Tank Maintenance Duty

By Nick Duke
Fort Benning Bayonet and Saber

FORT BENNING, Ga., Aug. 15, 2013 – Four female soldiers, including two with the Army National Guard, made history here Aug. 1 when they became the first women in the Army to obtain the 91A M1 Abrams Tank System Maintainer military occupational specialty.


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Army Pvts. Kaitlin Killsnight, left, Emma Briggs, center, and Erika Leroy work on an Abrams tank simulator during training in the 91A Abrams tank maintainers' course at Fort Benning, Ga. U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Pfc. Emma Briggs, the honor graduate of the course, is in the 737th Support Company, Ohio Army National Guard. Pvt. Erika L. Leroy is with the California Army National Guard. They graduated with Pfc. Anna Ramirez and Pvt. Kaitlin Killsnight from the 91A course conducted by E Company, 3rd Battalion, 81st Armor Regiment, 194th Armored Brigade.

Both Briggs and Leroy said they did not know they were going to be the first female Abrams maintainers until they arrived at Fort Benning.

"I didn't know I was going to be one of the first females until I got to basic training, and one of the drill sergeants mentioned it to me and told me how hard it was going to be," said Leroy, a San Diego native.

Briggs, of Cincinnati, said she had no prior mechanical experience before coming to the course, but that she was eager to learn.

"When I first joined, it was kind of a process of elimination," Briggs said. "I was given a lot of choices, anywhere from a human resources job to other types of desk and supply jobs. I have no mechanic background, but I was excited to learn. It's awesome to be a female and know some of these things, and maybe I'll be able to translate this into some kind of car mechanics or even go into that field in the future."

Briggs and Leroy attended basic training together, where they formed a friendship that both said has been beneficial to them throughout the tank maintainer training.

Leroy said watching Briggs complete tasks helped to make her more confident.

"I didn't know how to act or how to handle the stress of knowing that you're going to be picking up a 110-pound part, but watching her do it made me believe that I could do it," Leroy said.

Both Briggs and Leroy also said they were able to lean on Killsnight and Ramirez when times got tough.

"We've all become very close and we have a very good relationship," Briggs said. "We are very good at working together, and that has really helped us all because sometimes it takes a team of females to get on the tank and take care of it since you have heavy equipment and heavy stuff on the tank."

Army Staff Sgt. Jahi Foster, one of the 91A instructors, said Briggs' willpower was what set her apart from the rest of the class.

"She had a lot of self-motivation and she came in with the same attitude every day," Foster said. "A lot of the students have problems and they've been here for months dealing with things, but she always came out with the same hard-charging, ready-to-go attitude every day."

Briggs said she had no idea she was going to be the honor graduate until the class was put through an obstacle course.

"My sergeants were kind of helping to motivate me during it by saying things like, 'Come on, distinguished honor graduate,' so the whole company knew the same time I did," she said. "I had no idea."

With the course at an end, the four soldiers must now prepare for the responsibility of working on Abrams tanks in a real-world setting.

"It's a lot of responsibility to take in, but I'm pretty confident," Leroy said. "I know my material, and hopefully I'll be able to come back here and show more females that they can do this and give them someone to relate to."

Bright Star Stoppage Signals U.S. Objection to Violence in Egypt

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15, 2013 – Canceling U.S. participation in the Bright Star military exercise with Egypt sends a strong objection to the Egyptian government about the recent violence in the country, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said here today.

President Barack Obama announced the decision earlier today.

Despite the cancellation, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has told Egyptian Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Abdelfattah al-Sisi the U.S. military will maintain its relationship with the Egyptian military.

“But I made it clear that the violence [in Egypt] and inadequate steps towards reconciliation are putting important elements of our longstanding defense cooperation at risk,” Hagel said in a written statement.
Canceling Bright Star was a prudent step, Little said.

“We strongly encourage the government of Egypt to take appropriate measures to move toward a political transition that emphasizes inclusivity and emphasizes freedom of assembly and to take steps to refrain from violence, and exercise restraint,” he said.

More than 500 people were killed in fighting in Cairo yesterday and there have been more outbreaks of violence today.

Keeping the lines of communication open between the two militaries is important, Little said, if only “to convey the strong views of this government about developments in Egypt.”


Little said Egyptians must make these decisions, not Americans.

“I would expect contacts … to continue, and for us to continue to urge Egyptian authorities to choose the right course for the Egyptian people,” he said.

Hagel Issues Statement on Call to Egyptian Defense Minister

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued a statement describing his phone conversation today with Egypt’s Minister of Defense to discuss the U.S.-Egypt defense relationship.

Hagel’s statement reads as follows:

Today I called Egyptian Minister of Defense Al-Sisi to discuss the U.S.-Egypt defense relationship. Since the recent crisis began, the United States has made it clear that the Egyptian government must refrain from violence, respect freedom of assembly, and move toward an inclusive political transition. Recent developments, including the violence that has resulted in hundreds of deaths across the country, have undermined those principles. As President Obama has announced, the United States military will not conduct the Bright Star training exercise scheduled for later this year.

In my discussion with Minister Al-Sisi, I reiterated that the United States remains ready to work with all parties to help achieve a peaceful, inclusive way forward. The Department of Defense will continue to maintain a military relationship with Egypt, but I made it clear that the violence and inadequate steps towards reconciliation are putting important elements of our longstanding defense cooperation at risk.

605th TES tests next-gen weapons systems at Langley

by 2nd Lt. Brooke Betit and Senior Airman Jason J. Brown
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs


8/15/2013 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va.  -- A massive screen displaying the Korean peninsula, pockmarked with vividly colored icons, looms over the bustling command center where rows of military and civilian personnel in headsets process line upon line of digits and figures. Senior leaders huddle at the center of the room, gazing at the immense monitor above them and discussing what they're watching.

The scene has the feel of a big-budget military thriller. In reality, the production is an elaborate hands-on evaluation of new software upgrades to the Air Force's Air Operations Center Weapons System, conducted by the 605th Test and Evaluation Squadron. The evaluation lasted from Aug. 5 through 9 at the Combined Air and Space Operations Center-Experimental, inside the Ryan Center, Langley Air Force Base, Va.

The test, known as Recurring Event 12-1, was designed to put new and upgraded AOC-WS software elements through realistic simulations to determine the suitability and effectiveness of those products as it applies to joint warfighters serving the Joint Forces Air Component Commander (JFACC) in the theater of operations.

"We test what we field, and field what we test," said Lee Grieve, the AOC-WS test director.

Langley's CAOC-X houses a massive computer network tracking simulated war efforts downrange. The AOC-WS acts as an operating system for the CAOC-X, giving information to commanders who orchestrate battle plans in air, space and cyber space.

The CAOC-X also serves as a testbed for this new operating system, which, when approved, could eventually be used at all Combined Air Operations Centers CAOCs throughout the world.

According to Grieve, software updates can be equated to computer operating system service packs, which are patches that update existing software to the end-user -- in this case, U.S. military personnel serving in the Air Operations Center.

The upgrades, which include tweaks to existing platforms and introduction of emerging technologies, improve the efficiency, effectiveness, security and usability of existing systems while maintaining user awareness and familiarity.

"With this technology, our warfighters are able to execute the mission quicker, with greater capabilities and without the large footprint of a mass deployment," said Lt. Col. Ray Zuniga, 605th TES commander. "It saves money, increases cyber security and keeps our people in a safer environment."

In this scenario, a team of more than 70 military and civilian personnel from across the country used the developmental system upgrades to execute a simulated Air Tasking Order over the Korean peninsula.

At the culmination of the week-long test, evaluators assessed how effectively AOC personnel used the weapons system upgrades to accomplish their mission. Air Combat Command leadership takes the feedback and either recommends or does not recommend adoption and distribution of the proposed software package to units in the field.

Ultimately, this test leads to the recommendation of distribution of software upgrades designed to improve the way the commander responsible for joint airpower application in a battle employs that airpower using the AOC's capability to track and monitor combat from a centralized location.

Additionally, new software or applications can be included in the updates, giving warfighters new tools to better accomplish mission objectives and stay ahead of the enemy.

"Our upgrades help us apply the concept of the OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide and Act) faster than the enemy, which makes us quicker and more capable than the enemy," Zuniga said. "In nearly every case, the force that has that advantage wins the battle."

Senior Airman Javier Torres Rios, an ATO re-planner from the 608th AOC at Barksdale AFB, La., has participated in five developmental tests, and said he is privileged to be part of the process in which warfighters get the best available technology to complete their mission.

"It's definitely good to get hands-on with the systems before they go out to the Air Force. I work with this software every day at home station and know what to look for, how it should work and how it can work better," he said. "I'm glad I get to give my input to help build a better experience for our people."

If approved, the WS upgrades will be fielded at the 612th AOC at Davis-Monthan AFB, N.M., for operational testing in October.