Saturday, September 07, 2013

Reserve combat ops squadrons conclude Exercise UFG

by Capt. Joe Simms
940th Wing Public Affairs

9/5/2013 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Reservists assigned to the 940th Wing, Beale Air Force Base, Calif., wrapped up exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian, a two-week joint and combined exercise here Aug 30.

UFG, named in honor of a Korean military leader who repelled a Chinese invasion in the 7th century, is a computer simulated, command and control exercise designed to strengthen the ROK-U.S. alliance and maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula.

940th Wing reservists from the 701st Combat Operations Squadron, March Air Reserve Base, Calif., and the 713th Combat Operations Squadron, Beale AFB, Calif., participated in the exercise to prepare the ROK military to take the lead for the combined defense of the Republic of Korea in 2015.

While administratively assigned to the 940th Wing, both squadrons support a theater of operations outside of the contiguous United States.

Established in 1995, the one-of-a-kind 701st COS augments 7th Air Force, the U.S. Air Force component to the United States and Republic of Korea Combined Forces Command's Air Component Command for exercises such as UFG and Key Resolve.

"The 701st is here to support the air operations center for the exercise," said Lt. Col. John Carkin, 701st COS director of operations.

The AOC mission is divided into five divisions:  strategy, plans, intelligence, operations and air mobility and is responsible for created and executing air tasking orders for the component numbered Air Force.

This is accomplished by deploying more than 75 airmen from different specialties to work alongside their ROK counterparts for this exercise in a hardened tactical air control center, commonly known as the "war room."

While the mission of the 701st is to augment the Korean Theater and the AOC mission, the 713th COS auguments Pacific Air Forces and the Air Force Forces Staff during surge and contengency operations, and during exercise, such as UFG.

"The two combat operations squadrons are separate, but we have to work together, especially in the planning phase," said Lt. Col. Mitchell Costa, 713 COS and AFFOR air operations/plans representative for UFG. "The AFFOR staff is responsible for deciding the best locations for the forces to fight from and making sure they have everything they need to accomplish the mission. This entails working with the AOC."

The need for an experienced AFFOR staff, provided by the 713th is evident in exercises like UFG when the rapidly changing operating environment of the exercise requieres continual adjustments to the operations plan. Especially when the changes are large enough to require formation of an Operational Planning Group to create a solution.

"When a big problem comes up, we bring together representatives from all elements of the commander's staff to form and OPG, define the problem, and create courses of action that can solve the problem." Costa said. "Then we present those COAs to the commander."

"As the fight moves forward, we consistently need to reevaluate our plans to maintain our flexibility and air superiority," he continued.

Currently, the Korean Theater does not have a reserve squadron dedicated to the AFFOR mission, but adding a reserve augmentee force could become a priority for 7th AF in the future.

"We are the only COS in the AF Reserve that supports an AFFOR staff, and PACAF considers us essential to their mission because no other squadron can step in and do what we do as seamlessly as we can," said Costa.

"It is an ideal mission for the reserve. We bring with us a very experienced team of individuals and provide the continuity for the PACAF theater of operations which oversees more than 30 countries," he continued.

With the unique mission come unique challenges. While most reserve missions are performed at home station, the members of the 713th are constantly training with an eye toward the Pacific area of operations.

Each unit training assembly, members of the 713th brief the squadron on items in the theater and current PACAF concepts and strategies. To further assimilate themselves with their PACAF counterparts, the 713th has a detachment with several full-time reservists assigned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

"The whole idea of having the detachment at Hickam is to be able to walk across the street and make sure we stay integrated with PACAF so we can meet their needs," Costa said. "That interface is very important so we can organize, equip, and train the way we should to support them back home at Beale."

Reserve intel squadron brings Total Force Integration concept to Hickam

by Capt. Joe Simms
940th Wing

9/5/2013 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Ten communications specialists from the 50th Intelligence Squadron, Beale Air Force Base, Calif., completed two weeks of annual training at Distributed Ground Station 5, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 17-31.

The arrival of the reserve DGS to work alongside an active duty squadron marked the culmination of several months of coordination between the 50 IS and the 792nd Intelligence Support Squadron, JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

"The 792nd ISS currently has no reserve or Guard associations, so the opportunity to see the Air Force's Total Force Integration concept in action is a first for many of our airmen," said Capt. Brandon Kalski, 792nd ISS Operations Flight commander. " It has been a great opportunity to leverage the experience our reserve brethren bring to the table."

The 50th IS and 792nd ISS support two of the five distributed ground stations throughout the world that make up the Distributed Common Ground System weapons system. DGSs are also located at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., and Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Each DGS is comprised of intel analysts and communications specialists who process multiple forms of intelligence gathered from manned and unmanned reconnaissance platforms such as the U-2 Dragonlady and the RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft.

The task of providing the infrastructure needed to process the vast amount of intelligence gathered by these platforms falls on Airmen with different backgrounds and fields of expertise.

"At DGS-2 (Beale AFB), we have full-time reservists embedded with the active duty. There are also civilian contractors at the DGS who are able to bring another perspective that the military members may not have," said Tech. Sgt. Robert Bower, 50th IS Mission Systems supervisor.

"Finally, our traditional reservists are also able to draw upon their experience from their civilian jobs in the communications industry," he continued. "As the model for Total Force Integration, we're able to bring all three of those domains to the table when we travel to another DGS."

The priorities for the 50th on this trip were to augment their regular Air Force counterparts and prepare the 792nd for their consolidated unit inspection later this year.

Air Force releases results of on-duty fatality Ground Accident Investigation

by Air Force Global Strike Command
Public Affairs

9/6/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The Air Force has completed its investigation into an incident in which an Airman died at Whiteman AFB, Mo. The report discusses factors which may have played a role in the incident.

Staff Sgt. Roderick Davenport, a 23-year-old Airman assigned to the 509th Security Forces Squadron at Whiteman AFB, Mo., collapsed during the run portion of his Air Force fitness assessment April 9, 2012, and subsequently died after being transported to a local hospital. There were no other injuries resulting from this incident.

Sgt. Davenport joined the Air Force Aug. 1, 2007, as a Security Forces Specialist. He attended Air Force Basic Training at Lackland AFB, Texas, prior to his assignment at Whiteman as the police services desk sergeant.

The 509th Security Forces Squadron is part of the 509th Bomb Wing (BW) located at Whiteman AFB, Mo. Its mission is to serve as a global strategic force capable of delivering traditional and precision guided munitions; as well as acting as a key nuclear deterrent. The Bomb Wing includes approximately 5,500 military members as well as 2,800 civilian employees who operate, maintain, and manage the wing's fleet of B-2 Spirit stealth bombers.

Air Force Global Strike Command, parent unit for the 509th Bomb Wing, conducted the ground accident investigation.

AFGSC's report said the toxicology report for the Airman was negative, and the cause of death is listed as undetermined. However, the pathologist did note the presence of sickle cell trait, and stated that this was likely a contributing factor in the Airman's death.

"Our thoughts and sincerest sympathies are with Sgt. Davenport's family," said Brig. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, 509th Bomb Wing Commander. "This was a tragic situation for everyone, and Sgt. Davenport's loss continues to be felt by the Air Force family. We held him in the greatest affection and respect."

Prodigy Trades Music Career for Army Service

By Army Staff Sgt. Ray Kokel
15th Sustainment Brigade

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Sept. 6, 2013 – A soldier serving here on her first deployment was a musical prodigy as a child, and walked away from her job as a music director at Pepperdine University to serve in the Army.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Spc. Pyungan Cho practices with her church choir on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 31, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Raymond Kokel

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army Spc. Pyungan Cho, a logistics specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 15th Sustainment Brigade from Fort Bliss, Texas, was born in Seoul, South Korea, and started playing the piano when she was 5 years old.

“I was first taught at church,” Cho said. “It was a gift I had the opportunity to learn.” When she was 18, her family moved to Los Angeles, and her music career took off.

“I had a great instructor who wanted to take me to Juilliard, but my family insisted that I stay,” she said. “My grandmother had breast cancer, and my family needed my help to take her to medical appointments.”

As it turned out, Cho said, taking care of her grandmother helped her music career. “I would play for her, and she would pray for me,” she explained. “It was her prayers that made everything possible.”

At her parents’ request, Cho auditioned for music professors at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.
“I was so nervous,” she said. “Here were all these men and women, masters in their craft, judging whether I get a full ride to a higher education or not. I played two pieces of music that I had practiced. When I was done, a professor told me they would call me in two weeks.”

But before she could walk out, a professor handed her a thin music book and asked her to play it for the rest of the group. Cho said she did not know that it was a complicated piece and would be the true test of her abilities. What the professors did not know, she added, was that she had a talent her previous instructor identified as perfect pitch.

“When someone has perfect pitch they can hear a note and recognize it by name,” Cho said. “As I read the book, I could hear the notes playing in my head.”

Although it was the first time she had played that particular work, Cho played every note perfectly. One after another, Cho recalled, the professors gave her more books to play, and their moods changed right before her eyes.

“Suddenly they went from ‘We’ll call you in two weeks’ to ‘You have to come to our school,’” she said.

After the audition, Cho said, she walked outside to where her father was parked.

“When I got inside the car, he told me my grandmother had a vision of me in a cap and gown holding a diploma,” she said. “I told my father how it went, then we got out of the car and prayed on the steps of the school.”

Cho later graduated from Pepperdine with a bachelor’s degree in music. She has played at Carnegie Hall, and she performed in front of thousands of people around the world during her time at Pepperdine. She even earned a job as the youngest music director ever at the university.

But despite her successful career in music, Cho said, she joined the Army because she wanted to give something back to the United States.

“The United States, through the help of its military, built schools and hospitals in South Korea,” she said. “That is why Korea has been able to grow so much more as a nation.”

Cho spends much of her off-duty time here practicing with her church choir and performing for religious services on the base.

“Music is a powerful thing. It can make you happy, and even cry,” she said. “I’ve been so blessed in my life, and it feels great to be a blessing for others through my music.”

Cho said she plans to go to Officer Candidate School and play for the Army Band as she continues her military career.

Former DJ finds pulse in the Air Force

by Staff Sgt. Amber Corcoran
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

9/6/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- When he was 8 years old, he would sit in his bedroom and act like Casey Kasem, radio personality and host of the American Top 40, using a tape recorder with a condenser microphone as an 8-track cassette tape or record played in the background.

His aforementioned disc jockey career didn't get its start however, until after being the seventh caller in to a radio station and going to pick up his prize.

"I asked the DJ if I could see the room where they make their announcements and play the music," said Maj. Steve Katsaris. "I then asked to announce a song, but he didn't want to get fired for putting a kid on the radio. I told him I could do it, so he asked if I announced one, what it would sound like. I blurted it out, and he ended up letting me on because he thought it was cute."

Fortunately for both the DJ and Katsaris, the program director who happened to be monitoring the station, heard the song announcement and was intrigued. The director contacted Katsaris' parents and offered to let him come back to the station, work with the DJ's one Saturday afternoon and learn more about the business.

Katsaris, Chief of Helicopter Training at Air Force Global Strike Command, started a path down the broadcasting lane by purchasing his own equipment and DJing at roller rinks, high school and middle school dances or any event he had a chance to hone his skill. As soon as he turned 18, he began working in night clubs and evolved into a very prominent talent in the industry.

Building his experience, Katsaris was on track to continue further into the broadcast world by obtaining an undergraduate degree in radio, television communications.

"There was no surprise as to what I wanted to achieve," said Katsaris. "I was making my transition from radio to television and heading to CNN in Atlanta for an internship. Typically, if you do well during an internship, you obtain ground floor entry into that network."

But Katsaris had another dream that had always lingered in the back of his mind.

While attending the University of Central Florida, Katsaris lived next door to an Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet and shared with him his other dream.

"I told him my real dream was to fly," said Katsaris. "He looked at me funny and said, 'if that's what you really wanted, then why didn't you?' I told him I didn't think I had the mathematical aptitude to be a pilot. I was under the assumption that you had to be able to do calculus in your head and master arithmetic without a calculator."

The ROTC cadet convinced Katsaris to speak with the professor of aerospace science at their school. The professor set him up with appointments to test his hand/eye coordination, aptitude and physical fitness. His transcripts were pulled to make sure he had the grades; after being told he could most certainly obtain a pilot slot for his graduation year, Katsaris finally arrived at the fork in the road.

"I was within four months of being too old to enter pilot training, based off when I would graduate," he said. "So it was a now or never type of decision, especially since I didn't have resources to pay for the training on my own."

Katsaris decided to enroll in an accelerated ROTC program immediately. As the professor predicted, Katsaris picked up a pilot training slot.

Katsaris' new path was paved quickly thereafter. He flew 20-25 hours in the T3-A Firefly during flight screening and moved on to Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., for undergraduate training in the Cessna T-37. He then selected the helicopter track and went to Fort Rucker, Ala., to learn to fly the UH-1H Iroqouis. Katsaris was next ordered to Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., where he learned to fly the UH-1N Huey and he finally settled at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., for his first official Air Force assignment as a second lieutenant.

Throughout his Air Force career, Katsaris continued to blend the worlds he knew by DJing and lending his broadcaster skills.

"I've always volunteered to emcee various functions and would lend a hand when needed," said Katsaris. "I was the emcee for Guardian Challenge in Air Force Space Command and assisted with the Global Strike Challenge here, providing the voice for the trophy return ceremony and events at the convention center."

While stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Cali., Katsaris was given the title of "The Voice of Vandenberg" by Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, AFGSC vice commander, who at the time was Col. Weinstein, 30th Space Wing commander.

As his schedule allowed, he would travel to clubs in San Francisco or Los Angeles and was highlighted as a special guest DJ for one-night engagements. Though, the further he progressed in his Air Force career, the less time he had to DJ.

"When you do something for so long, it's hard to walk away from it; the energy, the pulse of the club dance floor," he said. "I loved the challenge of finding the pulse. Once I found it, I took it in and elevated it to the next level."

Katsaris discovered a different pulse during his Air Force career; one that had started out as a childhood dream - flying.

"As my schedule demands continued to rise, I decided to back away from DJing entirely," said Katsaris. "I couldn't keep up with the music industry and also be the best officer I could at that point. I know where my priorities are and that's to the Air Force."

After more than 25 years of service, including the eight years as an enlisted member of the Florida Army National Guard before his fork in the road decision, AF retirement is right around the corner for Katsaris. At this point, he's confident he'll still fly after his military career has come to a close.

"I may go the commercial route and fly for an airline or continue in rotary aviation as a helicopter pilot," he said. "Who knows, maybe I'll combine the two paths and fly a news chopper and broadcast at the same time; it'd be an interesting mix. I don't know the exact path yet, but whatever I do, it's going to be what makes me happy - flying. The Air Force allowed me to make that dream a reality and made that happiness possible."

Doolittle Raiders' Final Toast Ceremony to take place at National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

By Rob Bardua, National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

 DAYTON, Ohio (AFNS) --
The Air Force will host the famed Doolittle Tokyo Raiders' final toast to their fallen comrades during an invitation-only ceremony on Nov. 9 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

Eighty men achieved the unimaginable April 18, 1942, when they took off from an aircraft carrier on a top secret mission to bomb Japan. Led by Lt. Col. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle, these men came to be known as the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. Today, just four of the men survive: Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, co-pilot of crew No. 1; Lt. Col. Robert L. Hite, co-pilot of crew No. 16; Lt. Col. Edward J. Saylor, engineer-gunner of crew No. 15; and Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher, engineer-gunner of crew No. 7.
At this time, all four Raiders are planning to attend the event.

According to museum director Lt. Gen. (retired) Jack Hudson, the Doolittle Raid was an extremely important event in the development of American air power because it marked the first combat use of strategic bombardment by the Army Air Forces in World War II.

"While the attack itself caused little actual damage to Japanese war industry, the psychological impact on the Japanese military and the American public proved to be immense," Hudson said . "The U.S. Air Force has drawn upon the Doolittle Raiders for inspiration ever since, and we are deeply honored that they have chosen to have this final ceremony at our national museum."

In 1959 the city of Tucson, Ariz., presented the Doolittle Raiders with a set of silver goblets, each bearing the name of one of the 80 men who flew on the mission. At each of their past reunions, the surviving Raiders would conduct their solemn "Goblet Ceremony." After toasting the Raiders who died since their last meeting, they would then turn the deceased men's goblets upside down. The Nov. 9 event will mark their final toast.

Among those scheduled to attend the ceremony to pay tribute to the Raiders are Air Force Acting Secretary Eric Fanning and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III.

The public will also have an opportunity to celebrate these World War II aviation heroes that day through events that include a wreath-laying ceremony at the Doolittle Raiders memorial and a flyover of B-25 Mitchell aircraft. In addition, the Air Force Museum Theatre is planning to show Doolittle Raider and World War II-themed films. More details will be announced as the event nears at

The National Museum of the United States Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, is the service's national institution for preserving and presenting the Air Force story. Each year, more than one million visitors come to the museum to learn about the mission, history and evolving capabilities of America's Air Force. For more information about the museum, visit

President Explains Syria Decision in Weekly Address

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2013 – President Barack Obama today used his weekly address to explain his decisions to take military action against Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria for using chemical weapons against its own people and to seek congressional approval for that action.

More than 1,000 innocent people – including hundreds of children – were murdered Aug. 21 in the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century, the president said, and the United States has presented a powerful case to the world that the Syrian government was responsible.

“This was not only a direct attack on human dignity; it is a serious threat to our national security,” Obama said. “There’s a reason governments representing 98 percent of the world’s people have agreed to ban the use of chemical weapons. Not only because they cause death and destruction in the most indiscriminate and inhumane way possible – but because they can also fall into the hands of terrorist groups who wish to do us harm.”

Last weekend, he said, he announced that as commander in chief he had decided the United States should take military action against the Syrian regime. “This is not a decision I made lightly,” the president added. “Deciding to use military force is the most solemn decision we can make as a nation.”
Obama also explained why he sought authorization from Congress for military action.

“As the leader of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy, I also know that our country will be stronger if we act together, and our actions will be more effective,” he said. “That’s why I asked members of Congress to debate this issue and vote on authorizing the use of force.”

The president emphasized that the pending military action is not an open-ended intervention. “This would not be another Iraq or Afghanistan,” he said. “There would be no American boots on the ground. Any action we take would be limited, both in time and scope – designed to deter the Syrian government from gassing its own people again and degrade its ability to do so.”

Obama acknowledged that the American people are weary after a decade of war. “That’s why we’re not putting our troops in the middle of somebody else’s war,” he said.

“But we are the United States of America,” he added. “We cannot turn a blind eye to images like the ones we’ve seen out of Syria. Failing to respond to this outrageous attack would increase the risk that chemical weapons could be used again [and] that they would fall into the hands of terrorists who might use them against us, and it would send a horrible signal to other nations that there would be no consequences for their use of these weapons -- all of which would pose a serious threat to our national security.

“That’s why we can’t ignore chemical weapons attacks like this one – even if they happen halfway around the world,” he continued. “And that’s why I call on members of Congress from both parties to come together and stand up for the kind of world we want to live in -- the kind of world we want to leave our children and future generations.”