Military News

Monday, August 26, 2013

Jumps and chutes: 736th SFS conduct airborne training

by Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
36th Wing Public Affairs


8/26/2013 - Andersen Air Force Base, Guam -- The blood vessels dilate. The heart starts pounding faster as adrenaline kicks into full gear. The jumpers manage to keep a calm bearing as they wait for the signal. They're ready. The light turns green, and from the dark cargo hold of a C-130 Hercules, they jump into the bright tropical skies of the Pacific.

As part of the 36th Contingency Response Group, members of the 736th Security Forces Squadron provide an integrated force protection element that arrives first at operating locations. Without existing airfields, CRG members are sometimes required to arrive by parachute.

"The whole 36th CRG falls under a designed operational capability statement that requires us to respond within a certain time frame," said Capt. David Bullock, 736th SFS director of operations. "Our airborne capability is intended to be the advanced echelon of that force protection element. They facilitate the follow-on forces that support the air base opening package."

Members of the 736th SFS conduct regular static line jump training on the flightline at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, in order to maintain airborne qualification.

"Once the parachute opens, it's just peaceful and quiet," said Staff Sgt. Jacob Thompson, 736th SFS fire team leader and jumpmaster. "Yesterday I hit about 41 jumps overall. I used to be really nervous, but now, with all the experience, I'm getting a lot more comfortable with it. You just focus on steering to where you have to land."

The Air Force static line capability falls under the Personnel Parachute Program. Jumpers first attend a three-week basic airborne course at Ft. Benning, Ga., where they learn jumping proficiency. After passing the course, jumpers can maintain their qualification from their designated bases if training is available.

The jumpers receive standardized airborne training right before every jump, starting with a pre-jump brief from jumpmasters. The training includes everything from emergency landing procedures to activation of reserve parachutes. The training also involves simulations for static line control, emergency exiting and red-light procedures. Additionally, the jumpmasters receive a briefing from the aircrew regarding the flight path, different jump scenarios and safety precautions.

"The briefings refresh everything we learned in the airborne course," Thompson said. "We do it every time because safety is one of the main priorities here at the 736th SFS. We don't want anything to happen to our jumpers, especially since we're conducting a high-risk activity. If anything is unsafe, we cancel the jump or ask the pilot to do another pass."

Along with supporting contingency missions of the U.S. Pacific Command, Bullock said having airborne capability is also beneficial to humanitarian aid and disaster response operations.

"That's huge in this theater because PACOM and all our regional partners are scattered in a geographical location that is historically subjected to natural hazards and disasters," Bullock said. "Our airborne capability plays into that role by providing a means of getting into areas that an aircraft may not be able to land on. With the strategic pivot to the Pacific and international attention on this region, it's our responsibility to maintain the capability of providing aid in the event of a disaster."

Despite rigorous airborne qualification procedures, members of the 736th SFS continue to train regularly to keep their proficiency and ability to jump into any situation in support of missions all over the Pacific.

Face of Defense: Marine Knows Someone’s Always Watching

By Marine Corps Sgt. Jonathan Wright
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

AT SEA ABOARD USS BONHOMME RICHARD, Aug. 26, 2013 – With 11 brothers and sisters, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Gregg J. Schaefer grew up with a lot of eyes following his every footstep. Impressed by his oldest brother’s decision to join the military, he enlisted in the Marine Corps to protect his family and turn his life around.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Gregg J. Schaefer holds a picture of himself with his 11 brothers and sisters, Aug. 21, 2013, while deployed in the Asia-Pacific region aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Codey Underwood
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Schaefer, a landing support specialist with 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Combat Logistics Battalion 31, became the role model he strove to be. But before he matured enough to make a change, he acknowledged, he was setting a poor example.

From a young age, Schaefer had younger siblings watching him in their family’s small home just outside St. Louis in Barnhart, Mo. Schaefer, now 20, was born in 1993 into a family with three older brothers: Jarred, now 28; Sam, now 22; and Devin, now 21.

Starting in 1995, Schaefer’s parents added more to the family. Over time, he welcomed five younger brothers -- Carson, Andy, Parker, Tyson and Griffin -- and three younger sisters -- Ellie, Nina and Kristian.

Growing up, Schaefer said, he had problems with authority and rules in school. Until high school, he added, all of his transgressions were minor, but he still realized he was setting a bad example for his siblings.

His parents switched him from a private school to a public school, he said, hoping the change would help, but he soon slipped into a group of troublemakers.

Throughout his four years of high school, Schaefer spent a total of eight nights in the local jail. He was arrested once for painting graffiti on a public building, and on several occasions for fighting. An argument with his father concerning his behavior, he said, made him realize his siblings were watching his actions.

“Growing up in a family with so many brothers and sisters, you never stop to think how many eyes are watching your every step,” Schaefer said. “Sometimes you have to set aside your personal problems and think about how it could be affecting the loved ones around you. I just wish it wouldn’t have taken me until I enlisted into the Marines to learn that.”

The day of the argument with his father, he said, he was done setting a bad example. It was time to make a change in his life, for himself and for his siblings.

“An older brother can be one of the biggest role models for younger siblings,” he said. “It wasn’t until I realized the way I look at Jarred is the way my younger brothers and sisters look at me. Seeing that, I couldn’t keep going down this same road.”

In his junior year of high school, Schaefer sought a Marine recruiter, intent on following the lead of his eldest brother, Jarred, who enlisted in the Army as an infantryman. He said he recognized the character that military service built in his older brother and thought it could change his life for the better so he could set a good example for his younger brothers and sisters.

“If it wasn’t for [my brothers and sisters], I don’t know where I would be right now,” Schaefer said. “I am not saying that I would be in jail, but they made me change my act and do something better for myself.”

After graduating high school in 2011, Schaefer enlisted and attended boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif. When he returned, he said, his family noticed a significant change in him.

“Joining the Marines was probably the best thing for Gregg,” said his eldest brother, Army Sgt. Jarred K. Schaefer, an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment. “I’m proud of him for what he has done by becoming a Marine. I truly think that he is setting a good example for our little brothers and sisters.”

Following Marine Corps boot camp, Schaefer completed infantry combat training at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and a course for his military occupational specialty at Jacksonville, N.C. In April 2012, he received orders to 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Combat Logistics Battalion 31 in Okinawa, Japan.
Schaefer recently participated in the bilateral exercise Talisman Saber 2013 in Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland, Australia, and now is deployed in the Asia-Pacific region on a regularly scheduled patrol.

The 31st MEU is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region and is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU.

Dreams do come true at McChord Field

by Staff Sgt. Jason Truskowski
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


8/23/2013 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Most 16-year old boys wish for their driver's license, their first date or making the sports team. For one 16-year old boy, his dream has always been to pilot an aircraft.

The McChord Air Force Association, joined forces with Joint Base Lewis-McChord Airmen and soldiers, Aug. 22, to help make that wish come true. Christian Ball, from Spanaway, Wash. was the honored guest at the Pilot for a Day program at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

The Pilot for a Day program, which has been hosted by the 4th Airlift Squadron for three years, provides youth with a limiting disability the opportunity to live out their life-long dreams of aviation and share those memorable experiences with their family and close friends right by their side.

"I am so glad that we could give Christian a special day," said Capt. Marc Meier, 4th AS assistant support flight commander. "Being able to help make his dreams come true is really a humbling experience."

Christian's thirst for aviation began five years ago when his grandmother, Cathy Ball took him to visit the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Wash. It was then Christian had the opportunity to sit in a flight simulator and in that moment, his love for flying was born.

"The moment he stepped out of the flight simulator at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, I instantly knew he was hooked," said Cathy. "He has had such a passion for aviation ever since that day."

Christian's grandmother, Cathy and close family friend Bill Britt accompanied him on this memorable day.

"This wish started with me trying to get Christian on a tour of a C-17 before he goes completely blind," said Bill. "It's amazing to see so many people coming together to help make this happen. All I did was request a tour and look what happened."

Their journey started bright and early at CoinForce.com, LLC, just outside of McChord Field, where Christian received a flight suit, patches and flight cap with first lieutenant rank insignia. Donna and Jordan Haines, Owners of CoinForce.com, LLC presented Christian with a check made out to Graham Emanuel Baptist Church, the charity of Christian's choice, for $444.44.The dollar amount of the check represents the bond that the agency has with the 4th AS and the Pilot for a Day program.

"I was in the military for 22 years," said Donna. "For us to be a part of this program truly is an honor."

Departing from there, Christian, Kathy and Bill were shuttled to the parking lot of the McChord Club where soldiers from Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 423rd Infantry, 2nd Stryker Brigade combat team were waiting.

The soldiers gave Christian a tour of the Stryker, let him control the turret, and presented him with a memento of their battalion's crest and sergeant first class insignia, which were pinned to his flight suit. Christian, Kathy and Bill rode in the Stryker to each of the remaining stops on the tour.

This was the first time the Army or a Stryker had ever been used for Pilot for a Day at McChord Field.

Arriving at McChord Field's air park, Christian stepped out of the Stryker into an Explosives Ordinance Disposal team display. He was shown numerous versions of the explosives that military personnel encounter while in deployed locations. He was given the opportunity to drive the ordinance disposal robot from the Off-base/On-base Response Vehicle and using onboard cameras, he was able to pick up a mock hang grenade.

"The Pilot for a Day is an incredible program that helps children on so many levels," said Senior Airman Christopher Benefield, 627th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD technician. "I really enjoy working with this program and being able to give back to the community."

What 16-year old wouldn't want to watch military working dogs attack a mock assailant? That is exactly what Christian got to see at his next stop, where military working dogs ran the obstacle course and attacked Christopher Crawford, a Department of the Army police officer.

After, McChord Field's control tower provided a panoramic view from the top of one of McChord Field's tallest buildings. Christian had the opportunity to watch CV-22 Osprey aircraft landing, and was also able to watch aircraft movements on radar.

Within walking distance of the control tower is McChord Field's fire department. "Fire Chief Christian Ball has arrived," bellowed from the fire departments speaker system as Christian walked into the main lobby area. Christian was presented with the honorary fire chief's white helmet, which he wore while getting suited up in a full fire fighter ensemble.
"I was really honored they made me the fire chief for the day," said Christian. "This has been an amazing experience so far and it just started."

Christian and his guests received a warm welcome from crewmembers of the 4th AS upon entering the squadron's heritage room for a pizza-party luncheon. They spent lunch-time getting to know the people that helped make the Pilot for a Day program possible for Christian.

Before any pilot flies a mission they receive a mission brief, spelling out the intricate details of their unique assignment. Before heading out on the flightline for a hands-on tour of a C-17, Christian heard intelligence and tactics information on the simulated mission he would fly later in the day.

Climbing back into the Stryker, Christian and his entourage drove out to the flightline for a tour of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. With flight controls in hand, Christian sat in the pilot's seat looking out the windows at the aircraft parked in front of him. This was his first taste of what it truly felt like to be in the hot seat of a military aircraft.

"I've never seen an aircraft like this in my life," said Christian. "It's incredible, really incredible, to sit in the pilot's seat and to walk around the cargo area."

After getting a feel for what it was like to walk in the shoes of aircrew members aboard a C-17, Christian headed to the C-17 simulator building where he and Bill partnered up with Capt. Mike Knapp, 4th AS awards and decorations officer, where they took a simulated flight around the local community. Christian performed 2 touch-and-goes and landed successfully on his last attempt.

"It was a privilege to fly with Christian in the simulator today," said Knapp. "Christian took off, landed, performed air-refueling, and even accomplished an airdrop. He completed the mission we briefed him on earlier in the day."

Christian's day ended back at the 4th AS where he was given a proper "Fly, Fight, Live Proud!" send-off by Col. Jeffery Philippart, 62nd Airlift Wing vice commander, and aircrew members. He was given a model C-17 and a 4th AS coin to help him remember the day he became a Pilot for a Day with Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"Pilot for a Day presents a unique opportunity to share the many aspects of our mission," said Philippart. "It was a great opportunity to make a difference in this young man's life."

The most memorable moment for Christian during his Pilot for a Day was flying with Knapp in the C-17 flight simulator.

"Overall, today was a little overwhelming, but in a good way," said Christian. "I have never had this much attention in my entire life. Thank you."

Cathy would like to leave a message for the members of Team McChord and to the soldiers from Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 423rd Infantry, 2nd Stryker Brigade combat team who joined them on their tour today.

"This was a blessing and truly a-dream-come true for Christian. The overall experience was an enlightening one. Christian, Bill and I have learned so much about Joint Base Lewis-McChord and what you actually do behind the wire. It's nice to see that the military does more than just go to war. I had no idea you were all so family oriented and community minded. Thank you."

"This program is something that the AFA hopes to be able to continue for many years to come, said Robert Branscomb, Pilot for a Day McChord chair member. "This program really wouldn't be possible without fundraising and the generous support of our local community sponsors."

Hagel Announces U.S. Deal to Sell Helicopters to Indonesia

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Aug. 26, 2013 – In a first-of-its-kind deal worth about $500 million, the United States has agreed to sell eight new Apache AH-64E attack helicopters and Longbow radars to Indonesia, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said here today.

Hagel announced the deal during a joint news conference with Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro after productive meetings this afternoon with Yusgiantoro and earlier today with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The secretary is visiting Indonesia as part of an eight-day, four-nation trip that has included a stop in Malaysia and will take him this week to Brunei and the Philippines.

“Providing Indonesia these world-class helicopters is an example of our commitment to help build Indonesia’s military capability,” Hagel said.

The U.S. military will train Indonesian pilots and help in developing tactics, techniques and procedures for operating in the Southeast Asian security environment, a senior defense official said, adding that details of the delivery and training timeline are being determined.

The agreement represents a significant advance in military capabilities by a key U.S. partner and is the sort of investment the United States believes is prudent to support security in the Asia-Pacific region, the official said.

The new capability “will help Indonesia respond to a range of contingencies, including counterpiracy operations and maritime awareness,” he added.

“The United States is committed to working with Southeast Asian nations to grow defense capabilities and deepen military-to-military cooperation with all of our partners,” the official said.

During the news conference with Yusgiantoro, Hagel said it has been impressive to watch a democratic Indonesia emerge as one of the most important contributors to peace and prosperity, not only in Asia, but also globally.

“Helping ensure the region’s security and prosperity is a goal the United States strongly shares,” the secretary said. “The strong and enduring security partnership that has been built between the United States and Indonesia is a relationship the United States greatly values.”

Hagel said President Barack Obama looks forward to his October visit to Indonesia and to deepening ties between the two countries.

Progress on security includes increasingly complex exercises between the two militaries, and growing defense, trade and high-level policy engagement, the secretary added.

The two militaries recently launched an initiative to share best practices in defense planning and management to increase Indonesian military capability, Hagel said, and next month the United States and Indonesia will cohost a counterterrorism exercise under the framework of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus.

ASEAN is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, whose 10 member states are Burma, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Defense ministers from these nations attend the annual ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting, or ADMM. And the ADMM-Plus is made up of ASEAN members and eight dialogue partners: the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, New Zealand and Russia. This year’s ADMM-Plus meeting will be start tomorrow in Brunei.

Hagel said the United States welcomes Indonesia’s leadership in promoting regional security cooperation through ASEAN and regional forums such as the East Asia Summit.

“The United States is committed to further strengthening the U.S.-ASEAN relationship and I look forward to meeting with my counterparts this week at the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting- Plus in Brunei to address the many security challenges we face in this region,” he said.

Developing long-term and enduring solutions to challenges like maritime security, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, counterterrorism, and the peaceful management of disputes in the South China Sea calls for greater cooperation and respect for rules and norms among all parties and the institutions that underpin them, the secretary noted.

“I am also pleased to be able to announce that the U.S. and Indonesia have pledged mutual support and cooperation on the search and recovery of U.S. personnel missing from World War II,” Hagel said.

Several Indonesian ministries have oversight of such requests, including defense, education and culture, and research and technology. All have agreed to process future requests from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, a joint task force within the Defense Department whose mission is to account for Americans listed as prisoners of war, or missing in action, from all past wars and conflicts.

The United States believes that about 1,800 U.S. personnel are still missing in action from World War II in the waters and lands of Indonesia, a senior defense official said, adding that while not all are recoverable, current research indicates that hundreds ultimately may be found and brought home.

“The United States commitment to this effort is important to our personnel serving today,” Hagel said, “to make clear that we stand by our pledge to leave no one behind.”

PJs keep lines of communication open

by Staff Sgt. Emerson Nuñez
7th Air Force Public Affairs


8/25/2013 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- One of the biggest challenges the Air Component Commander in the Republic of Korea faces is how to ensure seamless communication between forces who speak different languages.

While the shared mission might be clearly understood, how to get there might not always be easy to translate. That's where the ACC plans and coordination team comes in.

"Bringing both U.S. and ROK forces together is our goal," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Bryan Christensen, incoming director for the ACC/PJ team. "We are a combined force and make sure both sides are communicating effectively together -- we bring both services together as one team to accomplish the mission."

A large part of their mission is to coordinate senior leadership battle rhythms between U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas, the Air Component Commander, and ROKAF Lt. Gen. Cha-Kyu Choi, Air Force Operations Command commander.

The team's operations tempo kicks into high gear during yearly exercises such as Key Resolve and Ulchi Freedom Guardian as military members and civilians come from all over the world to take part in scenarios designed to ensure readiness to defend the ROK and sustain the capabilities that strengthen the ROK-U.S. alliance.

Interpreters on the ACC/PJ team have to worry about more than just simple translation between English and Korean. They must also overcome cultural differences and nuisances while also figuring out how each service works to accomplish their goals.

"The cultural differences between USAF and ROKAF is vast and its can be difficult to ensure that both sides understand each other," said Capt. Min-kyung Park, ACC/PJ contingency planning officer.

KASC provides vital combat readiness

by SSgt. Emerson Nuñez
7th Air Force Public Affairs


8/25/2013 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Every military member stationed in the Republic of Korea knows they need to be able to fight tonight.

But, how can they maintain such a sharp edge of readiness without actually throwing lead downrange or putting bombs on target?

That's where the staff of the Korean Air Simulation Center comes in. This diverse group of ROK and U.S. military members, civilians and contractors receive augmentation from around the world to create realistic battle scenarios on the peninsula during yearly exercises Key Resolve and Ulchi Freedom Guardian.

"We exist for combat readiness for the Seventh Air Force team and all of our supporting war fighting team whether it's a Sailor, Soldier, Airman or Marine," said U.S. Air Force Col. Tracey Murchison, 7th Air Force Programs and Analyses Directorate director.
To ensure the best possible battle simulation is carried out, the KASC is integrated with the Korean Battle Simulation Center at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, as well as other simulation centers around the world.

"We are linked in with simulation centers back in the United States, Japan, and all over the Republic of Korea," Murchison said. "All those models and simulations are connected and are interacting with each other in order to provide the training audience with what they need for this exercise."

Two of the main reasons why simulation centers exist is to allow senior leadership to practice vital decision making in wartime scenarios, and to save money in a world of ever-decreasing budgets.

"When there's just 0s and 1s being exchanged, in the models and simulation business, there is a lot of money being saved," Murchison said. "You're not flying live sorties or maneuvering units on the field which definitely adds up."

UFG 2013 is one of the biggest exercises that the KASC has participated in within the past seven years. The personnel tasked with writing the script for the exercise are assigned to the wing operation cell, which also acts as the WOC for other air bases as the simulation is played out. This can be an extremely time consuming and tedious task for WOC personnel.

"In the initial planning phase for the script, we receive request from different career fields of what wartime related issues they want the air operations center to work though during the simulated war," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jared Marvin, Wing Operations Cell deputy.

The WOC cell not only writes the script for the exercise, but also reports to tactical-level commanders on how the war is playing out during the simulation to provide instant feedback.

The KASC's mission is to provide the world's finest exercise planning and simulation support to U.S. Pacific Command, Pacific Air Forces, 7th AF, and the Korean Air Operations Center -- and they successfully and proudly carry out their mission with excellence, said Murchison.

Reserve F-22 pilots lend expertise to Red Flag Alaska

by Capt. Ashley Conner
477th Fighter Group Public Affairs


8/24/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- With more than 20 Red Flag exercises between them, Majs. Caleb Haley and Jonathan Gration are a part of a group of Air Force Reserve Command F-22 pilots from the 302nd Fighter Squadron here who bring a diversified skill set to Red Flag Alaska 13-3.

"I've been in about 10 Red Flags as an Air Force aggressor pilot," said Haley. "This is my first Red Flag on the blue side."

During his time as an aggressor pilot, Haley's job was to replicate the tactics used by enemy forces in combat situations, known as "red air". Now as a "good guy" in the "blue air", he is able to take his previous training to ensure success.

"The aggressors are very good at replicating threat countries," said Haley. "If blue air makes mistakes, the aggressors will punish those mistakes without mercy! Knowing this gets my adrenaline pumping and motivates me to be on my game every time."

Along with Haley's aggressor expertise, Gration, who graduated from the first F-22 weapon school class in 2009, brings a wealth of knowledge as one of the most experienced F-22 weapons officers in the Air Force.

"Being able to pass along lessons learned from previous exercises so we don't relearn the same lessons is important," he said. "There are a lot of pilots in the squadron that are flying in Red Flag-Alaska for the first time. It's incumbent on us old, more seasoned guys to make sure we educate the new guys."

During the two-week exercise that concluded Aug. 23, the F-22 pilots flew two or three, two and a half hour sorties, a week and mission planned on the days they weren't flying.

"Red Flag is the closest we get to simulating air combat. It provides us an opportunity to mission plan and execute a Large Force Exercise with all types of aircraft with different roles and mission sets," said Gration. "This flag is especially unique in that there are international players to include Japan, South Korea, and Australia. I hope to gain a better understanding of the capabilities and limitations of all the different units so that when it comes to executing the real job one day, whether in a Joint or Combined manner, I can help the team most effectively integrate to achieve mission success."

LRS, 46 years of friendship

by Airman 1st Class Kaleb Snay
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


8/24/2013 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan  -- If a large group of people come together with a common goal, they can accomplish great things through hard work and dedication. For more than 45 years the 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron has come together to support a group of kids in need.

Located in Aomori City, Japan, the Fuji Seiboen orphanage currently has about 70 children trying to live cohesively like a family.

Adoptions tend to be rare, so the children must get used to spending their days together, said Takeji Araya, Fuji Seiboen orphanage liason. Life can be uneventful at times, which is where the 35 LRS shows how much they care.

Since the late 1960s, the 35 LRS has built a tradition of visiting the orphanage once a year, buying gifts and spreading cheer, to the children during Christmas. As time passed, LRS felt one celebration a year wasn't enough. In 2011 a new tradition was born where the children would come out for some summer fun, at Misawa Air Base.

"Three years ago, before a squadron picnic, we decided to invite the orphanage to see if they would like to join us," said Tech. Sgt. Suleiman Meho, 35 LRS non-commissioned officer in charge of personal property. "We ended up having a beach party complete with a good old American barbeque. They loved it, they were really thankful that we invited them and so we continued to do so again in 2012, and this year."

As the children prepare for school in September, the 35 LRS once again prepared food, and fun at Misawa Air Base. The children's ages vary from two to 18, and about 80 children are expected each year, along with their adult chaperones.

"We did it again this year at Leftwich Park," said Meho. "We had a blast. We got the grills out for burgers and hotdogs. There were bouncy castles, tug-o-war and volleyball. Other than the language barrier, it was almost like a carnival for them."

With all the activities going on at the picnic, there is excitement around every corner for both the children and LRS.

"My favorite part is seeing the children's reactions," said Maj. Paul Miller, 35 LRS commander. "They have a light in their eyes as they get a chance to just have fun playing games. We try our best to make sure the events are as robust and fulfilling as we can, and each year we like to throw in something new."

Money for the picnic is raised throughout the year with donations and fundraising events on American Day, Freedom Fest, and more. During the Christmas get-together, members from LRS will often sponsor a child and buy gifts for each child, individually.

Although 35 LRS has been supporting Fuji Seiboen for more than 45 years, the orphanage was supported by service members before. Traced back to 1948, two years after the orphanage was founded, American service members showed their support in the form of food supplies and blankets. This shows that LRS has continued a legacy that started three years after the U.S. military first arrived at Misawa Air Base.

"It's an honor to show our support and have it welcomed in return. It enriches both LRS and the orphanage," said Miller. "These days there are many opportunities to get involved with the community. The Japanese community has been good to us and this is one way of showing our thanks. I'm very happy to be able to participate in such a positive community event and I hope this relationship will continue to grow in the years to come."

Commission visits Tinker, gains insights from Airmen

by Maj. Jon Quinlan
507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


8/26/2013 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force visited with National Guard, Air Force Reserve and active-duty members here Aug. 20 to get their perspectives on how best to shape the future force.

The commission was established by Congress earlier this year to study the Air Force's three components to determine if and how the structure should be modified to best fill current and future mission requirements with available resources. This independent analysis and the commission's recommendations are due to the president and Congress by Feb. 1, 2014.

Reservists from the 507th Air Refueling Wing along with their Air Reserve Component association partners, Oklahoma Air National Guard's 137th ARW, came together to provide the commissioners a unique look at the KC-135 association through briefings, tours and discussions.

Reservists in the 513th Air Control Group provided the commissioners a look at the E-3 Sentry and detailed how their classic association with the active-duty 552nd Air Control Wing has garnered success, especially in support of the combatant commanders in deployed theaters.

"We're here to listen and learn," said the Honorable Dennis M. McCarthy, the commission's chair, a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant general and a previous assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs at the Pentagon. "You've got some great people here, and that's no surprise."

Along with McCarthy, three other commissioners visited Tinker AFB. They are former Oklahoma Adjutant General, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry (Bud) M. Wyatt III, retired Air Force Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr., and Dr. Janine A. Davidson.

During the visit, the commissioners ate breakfast with junior grade Airmen. Wyatt later recalled a theme that came out of the breakfast with one guardsman telling him, "I want to be trained to get into the fight, to do the mission," said Wyatt. "They want to be part of the operational force."

The executive director of the commission, Dr. James Blackwell highlighted that the visit to Tinker and all visits they make are important steps in gathering information so the commission can make the best recommendations.

"Once again we have heard from the Airmen about the real impact of transforming the Air Force. What we heard today is confirming what we have heard at other visits," Blackwell said. "We have seen different perspectives here and you can really tell the Airmen speak with a lot of conviction."

Tinker AFB has all members of the total force team, guard, reserve, active duty and a robust civilian workforce. This made Tinker a prime location for the commission to see total force integration in action and to see details about the unit associations.

"One thing that was unique about our visit to Tinker is that here your tanker units (507th and 137th ARWs) have a real unique association," Blackwell said. "It's the first time the commission has seen an ARC association, and it provided us with a lot of valuable information."

The commission held an off-base hearing in Midwest City, Okla. next to the base. They first heard from squadron commanders and superintendents from the active, guard and reserve units on Tinker. Next they heard from state and local community leaders as well as members of the public.

U.S. Senator James M. Inhofe and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin each addressed the panel highlighting the importance of the commission's visit and their recommendations in the defense of the nation.

"The commissioners heard something else here for the first time. The military has been accustomed, in a decade of wartime decision making, to focusing on effectiveness," executive director Blackwell said. "Now for the foreseeable future, the Air Force has to focus on a steady state that will emphasize peace time cost effectiveness. That message seemed to resonate with commissioners."

The NCSAF will continue to visit with more units with future visits scheduled for Selfridge ANG Base, Michigan and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

(Barry Willey, NCSAF public affairs contributed to this story)

Vigilant Eagle continues closer U.S.-Russian cooperation

WASHINGTON (AFPS) --
Beginning Aug. 27, fighter jets from the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the Russian air force will scramble to track and intercept "hijacked" aircraft during an air defense exercise viewed as a steppingstone toward closer military-to-military cooperation in additional areas.

Vigilant Eagle 13 kicked off Aug. 26, with scenarios that present the United States, Canada and Russia with a common enemy: terrorist hijackers, Joseph Bonnet, director of joint training and exercises for NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, said during a telephone interview with American Forces Press Service.

The exercise is the fifth in a series, based on a 2003 agreement between the sitting U.S. and Russian presidents to strengthen the two militaries' relationship and their ability to work together. The threat of international hijackers served as a foundation to help advance that effort, resulting in an exercise program that addresses a recognized threat, Bonnet explained.

Vigilant Eagle began in 2008 as a command post exercise. At Russia's request, it now alternates between CPXs that test out principles and procedures in a computer-based setting and "live-fly" exercises that apply those principles and procedures the following year.

This year's exercise is the third in the series to incorporate actual aircraft, Bonnet reported. A Russian Tupolev and a commercial aircraft contracted by the United States will simulate commercial airliners seized by terrorists. The U.S. Air Force's Airborne Warning and Control System and Russia's A-50 Beriev will serve as command-and-control platforms.

Live fighter jets -- Canadian CF-18 Hornets and Russian Sukhois -- will track, identify, intercept and follow the hijacked aircraft, and both Canada and Russia will conduct air-to-air refueling operations. The Canadian air force has been integral to past Vigilant Eagle exercises, but is contributing aircraft for the first time this year, Bonnet said.

In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration and its Russian equivalent are participating.

The scenario involves two "hijacked" commercial aircraft that challenge participants on the ground and in the sky to provide a coordinated response, Bonnet explained. The first flight, to originate tomorrow from Anchorage, Alaska, will travel into Russian airspace. The following day, a Russian aircraft will take off from Anadyr, Russia, toward U.S. airspace.

When the aircraft fail to respond to communications, NORAD, the U.S.-Canada command that safeguards U.S. skies under Operation Noble Eagle, and the Russian air force will move into action. Both will launch or divert fighter jets to investigate and follow the suspect aircraft headed toward each other's airspace. At that point, they will hand off the missions to each other to complete.

Working together in Anchorage and Anadyr and at the NORAD headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., participants will cooperate in escort and handoff procedures using two distinct communications, command-and-control and air traffic control systems, Bonnet said.

Vigilant Eagle has become more ambitious and valuable with each iteration, Bonnet said, noting that this year's exercise will be no different.

"This is the culmination of everything that has gone on in previous exercises, and we expect it to continue to mature," he said. "Like us, the Russian Federation air force is eager to expand the scope and complexity of the exercise, and to look into other areas," such as related search-and-rescue and airfield operations.

Bonnet called continuation of Vigilant Eagle, particularly at a time when budget costs have caused the cancellation of many other exercises, a success in itself. With fewer than 100 people directly involved from the United States, Vigilant Eagle offers tremendous "bang for the buck," he said.

"This is a small, relatively inexpensive exercise with a huge payoff," he said. "It doesn't cost any of the countries a lot of money, but it is building things that have immediate value for all of them. When you have procedures and a means of communicating information between both sides, that has a lot of value."

Another big success, Bonnet said, is that the exercise has transcended leadership changes both in the United States and in Russia, as well as recent political tensions between them.

Both countries recognize the importance of continued cooperation to keep their international borders safe, he said.

"It is one of the biggest single areas where the Russian Federation, U.S. and Canada can truly cooperate," he said. "All three countries share a common objective in thwarting, combating and cooperating against terrorism."

As their militaries work together to confront terrorist hijackers, Bonnet said, they are laying the foundation for future cooperation in other areas.

"What we are trying to do is continually build and expand the exercise and use this as a basis for moving the relationship forward," he said. "That, to me, is the biggest value of Vigilant Eagle."

Overcoming contingencies: 91st MW conducts natural disaster field training exercise

by 1st Lt. Jose R. Davis
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs


8/26/2013 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The 91st Missile Wing conducted a field training exercise here, Aug. 20, to evaluate and validate the integration and response of emergency management, security forces, fire department, medical and missile field operations during a natural-disaster situation.

The exercise was conducted at one of Minot AFB's training launch facilities. Evaluators from Air Force Global Strike Command were on hand to inspect the efficacy of the 91st MW's and 5th Bomb Wing's total-force response to the singular event.

This field training exercise provides training similar to the Nuclear Weapon Accident Incident Exercise (NUWAIX) held here in 2012, but on a far smaller scale.

In the exercise scenario, a payload transporter, carrying an important missile wing asset, is en route to one of the missile facilities out in the prairies of North Dakota, near the towns of Carpio and Berthold, N.D. A sporadic storm system, common in North Dakota during the summer season, enters the vicinity of where the payload transporter is located. The storm system eventually develops into a tornado, with estimated winds of 166 to 200 mph. The 91st MW commander orders a shelter-in-place directive, ordering the payload transporter to shelter at the nearby missile alert facility, Juliet 1. The tornado's path is inevitable; the tornado passes within 50 meters of Juliet 1.

The exercise scenario also included significant damage to the payload transporter: the catalyst for a full-scale, integrated emergency response to the site.

"These contingency exercises are very important for us," said Col. Robert J. Vercher, commander of the 91st Missile Wing. "They prepare us for various scenarios, such as tornados and other natural events, which can occur outside of our control."

In 2003, President George W. Bush issued Homeland Security Presidential Directive-5, providing a single and comprehensive approach to domestic incident management. From the directive came the National Response Framework and the National Incident Management System (NIMS), which instantiated a required multi-agency response to any domestic incident or accident of significant consequence.

Based on this framework, various federal, state and local government agencies would converge onto the site involving a 91st MW asset. This exercise is meant to practice such integrated response of all the various government agencies involved.

"In this scenario, which involves very important national resources, a combined federal, state and local response is expected," said Vercher. "Providing a safe and secure deterrent force is our mission, so naturally we want to execute and train hard for unexpected circumstances."

The field training exercise is only one aspect of the 91st MW's three-day training. For the next two days, AFGSC evaluators will sit down with the 91st MW and supporting agencies to go over strengths and weakness of their initial response during the field training portion, in addition to a step-by-step walkthrough of the transition process, from the incident response force initially on scene to the response task force that concludes the situation.

Reserve F-22 pilots lend expertise to Red Flag Alaska

by Capt. Ashley Conner
477th Fighter Group Public Affairs


8/24/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- With more than 20 Red Flag exercises between them, Majs. Caleb Haley and Jonathan Gration are a part of a group of Air Force Reserve Command F-22 pilots from the 302nd Fighter Squadron here who bring a diversified skill set to Red Flag Alaska 13-3.

"I've been in about 10 Red Flags as an Air Force aggressor pilot," said Haley. "This is my first Red Flag on the blue side."

During his time as an aggressor pilot, Haley's job was to replicate the tactics used by enemy forces in combat situations, known as "red air". Now as a "good guy" in the "blue air", he is able to take his previous training to ensure success.

"The aggressors are very good at replicating threat countries," said Haley. "If blue air makes mistakes, the aggressors will punish those mistakes without mercy! Knowing this gets my adrenaline pumping and motivates me to be on my game every time."

Along with Haley's aggressor expertise, Gration, who graduated from the first F-22 weapon school class in 2009, brings a wealth of knowledge as one of the most experienced F-22 weapons officers in the Air Force.

"Being able to pass along lessons learned from previous exercises so we don't relearn the same lessons is important," he said. "There are a lot of pilots in the squadron that are flying in Red Flag-Alaska for the first time. It's incumbent on us old, more seasoned guys to make sure we educate the new guys."

During the two-week exercise that concluded Aug. 23, the F-22 pilots flew two or three, two and a half hour sorties, a week and mission planned on the days they weren't flying.

"Red Flag is the closest we get to simulating air combat. It provides us an opportunity to mission plan and execute a Large Force Exercise with all types of aircraft with different roles and mission sets," said Gration. "This flag is especially unique in that there are international players to include Japan, South Korea, and Australia. I hope to gain a better understanding of the capabilities and limitations of all the different units so that when it comes to executing the real job one day, whether in a Joint or Combined manner, I can help the team most effectively integrate to achieve mission success."

On 40th anniversary, Air National Guard MAFFS crews busy fighting wildfires

by Army Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau


8/26/2013 - ARLINGTON, Va.  -- Air National Guard crews from two states were dousing wildfires from the air in three western states this week as the National Guard marked its 40-year anniversary flying aircraft equipped with the Modular Airborne Firefighting System.

MAFFS-equipped C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft and support personnel from the California National Guard's 146th Air Wing and the Wyoming National Guard's 153rd Air Wing were dropping retardant or water on six wildfires in California, Idaho and Nevada.

The Colorado Springs Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Air Wing also was engaged with the fires, adding a fifth MAFFS-equipped C-130 to the mix as wildfires raged in the West.

Three Air National Guard units and one Air Force Reserve unit can contribute up to eight MAFFS to support the Forest Service's annual wildfire battle. The third MAFFS-equipped Air National Guard unit is the Charlotte, N.C., 145th Airlift Wing.

Airmen started flying the Congressionally-established MAFFS mission to assist the Forest Service in wildfire suppression in 1973. Through Monday, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve crews had flown 10,294 sorties, logged 10,945 flying hours and dropped more than 28.2 million gallons of water or retardant in 40 years of service.

"Since the program started in 1973, service members have provided MAFFS support during 29 of those years," said Army Gen. Frank Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "Air National Guard MAFFS crews have fought wildfires in the United States, Europe, Africa and Indonesia, and we are proud of this unique contribution to civil authorities' firefighting efforts."

According to National Guard Bureau officials, MAFFS crews average 251 sorties, fly 267 hours and drop 688,292 gallons of water or retardant. The last three years have seen significant wildfire activity and been far from average for the MAFFS mission.

With four months left in the year, 2013 already had seen crews log 378 sorties through Monday, dropping 904,631 gallons. Air National Guard crews flew 884 sorties and dropped more than 2.3 million gallons in 2012. In 2011, crews flew 443 sorties and dropped 1.2 million gallons.

"We implemented a new system in 2011," Grass explained. "MAFFS II has given us improved capability. It's less reliant on ground equipment and personnel. Onboard compressors have reduced downtime and allowed us to make multiple drops on each mission. The new system provides better coverage and is cleaner and more environmentally friendly."

The MAFFS mission brings defense support to civil authorities after the capabilities of commercial and contract air tankers have been exhausted.

Guided by Forest Service aircraft, the C-130 Hercules releases water or retardant in less than five seconds from special tanks through two tubes at the rear of the airframe, saturating an area one-quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide, which can provide critical fire breaks on the leading edge of fires.

The aircraft require only minor electrical modifications. The MAFFS is loaded from specially designed trailers at each operational unit.

The National Guard also supports civil authorities with UH-60 Black Hawk, CH-47 Chinook and UH-72 Lakota helicopters that use water buckets to extinguish wildfires, in addition to numerous other capabilities the Guard can bring to the Forest Service's fight, including medevac support and ground-based troops providing firefighting, traffic control and other support.

"Our contribution to Forest Service wildfire suppression is a significant domestic operation that greatly helps civil authorities in the 54 states and territories," Grass said. "We are proud to be a part of the team of local, state and federal agencies engaged in this vital mission."

U.S., Chinese Navies Exercise Counterpiracy in Gulf of Aden

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 2013 – After concluding an ambitious counterpiracy exercise yesterday with the Chinese navy, members of the U.S. 5th Fleet expressed hope it will lay groundwork for closer future cooperation in ensuring freedom of movement in the Gulf of Aden, other regional waters, and beyond.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
An MH-60S Seahawk helicopter assigned to the “Swamp Foxes” of Maritime Helicopter Combat Squadron 74 departs the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason during a U.S.-China cross-deck landing exercise with the Chinese navy destroyer Harbin in the Gulf of Aden, Aug. 24, 2013. The operation was part of a two-day counterpiracy exercise between U.S. 5th Fleet and the Chinese navy. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Rob Aylward
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Mason joined the Chinese destroyer Harbin and Chinese auxiliary replenishment oiler Weishanhu for the two-day exercise in the Gulf of Aden, Navy Capt. Joseph Naman, commander of Destroyer Squadron 50 and Task Force 55, said during a phone interview from Bahrain.

The Chinese oiler played the role of a pirated vessel, as crew members from the Mason and Harbin conducted a combined visit, board, search and seizure drill that included a night boarding, reported Navy Cmdr. D. Wilson Marks, Mason’s commanding officer.

Simulated medical emergencies and hostage scenarios required the sailors to work together to provide a coordinated response.
In addition, the crews demonstrated synchronized maneuver techniques during a live-fire proficiency exercise, engaging an inflatable target with the 5-inch MK-45 lightweight gun and 3.9-inch ENG deck guns, Marks said.

Another “significant milestone,” Naman said, was the landing of a helicopter from each country aboard the deck of each other’s ship.

The exercise represented a big step beyond the first counterpiracy exercise between 5th Fleet and the Chinese navy, conducted in September near the Horn of Africa, Naman said. The 2012 exercise, which involved the USS Winston S. Churchill and the Chinese frigate Yi Yang, lasted only about six hours and was limited to a basic visit, board, search and secure exercise, follow-on discussion and crew lunch.
Throughout this week’s mission, Marks said, he was struck by how similarly the two navies operate.
“What my crew found out is they are sailors like we are,” practicing many of the same techniques as they confronted the same challenges, he said.

Both the United States and China recognize the importance of freedom of access and movement in the maritime environment, uninhibited by piracy or other illicit activity, Naman noted.

“I think both China and the U.S. share the common goal to make that happen,” he said.

Both navies, for example, regularly conduct counterpiracy operations in the Gulf region.

The United States is part of a multinational coalition task force that works collaboratively in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. China, in contrast, operates independently. Naman said he would like to see that change, and that he hopes exercises like the one conducted over the weekend will encourage China to consider joining the coalition.

International cooperation and measures taken by the civilian shipping industry to discourage pirates have brought a dramatic drop in piracy compared to just three to four years ago, he reported.

“The sum of the parts is greater than the one, which is what the coalition brings in,” Marks said. “You can share best practices, build on each other’s strengths [and] capitalize on those strengths. … We are all working toward that shared goal of freedom of movement in the maritime [domain]. So if we all share the same goal, we ought to be working together, and that is what we are really trying to do.”
In the meantime, he said, exercising together helps to increase interoperability between the U.S. and Chinese navies that they can draw on in the future, anywhere in the world.

“As we have learned in the past, military-to-military engagement pays big dividends, because we operate in the same environment and … share the same common goals for that maritime environment,” Naman said.

Marks, who called the exercise “one of those once-in-a-career experiences,” said he and his crew hope for more opportunities to work with the Chinese navy.

For one of the participants, Navy Seaman Yi An, the exercise was particularly memorable. A naturalized U.S. citizen, the culinary specialist was born in China’s Quingdao province -- which the Harbin’s crew calls home.

Yi served as an interpreter during the exercise, generating a lot of excitement among the Chinese sailors as he shared hometown stories, Marks said. He was treated as an honored guest aboard the Harbin during a luncheon yesterday that concluded the exercise.

But exercising with their Chinese counterparts gave the entire Mason crew new insights, Marks said.
“Watching U.S. and Chinese sailors working side by side was amazing,” he said. “We may come from different places and speak a different language, but at the end of the day, we all share a common interest in protecting the maritime environment.”

(Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Rob Aylward contributed to this article.)