Monday, September 09, 2013

Dobbins reservists return from six-month deployment

by Senior Airman Elizabeth Van Patten
94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

9/6/2013 - DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. -- More than half a dozen reservists were welcomed home by family, friends and fellow Airmen Sept. 3.

Members of the 94th Security Forces Squadron returned from a six-month deployment to Southwest Asia, during which they supported Operation Enduring Freedom.

"Welcome back!" said Timothy Martz, 94th SFS commander. "Our Airmen have returned home from serving their country. I am very proud of our team. They left with honor and returned with honor. Thank you for going over there and doing it right. As a commander, nothing is better than to have everyone come home safe. Thank you."

The "Road Dawgs" served a critical role in the defense of their assigned bases. Some Airmen, like Tech. Sgt. Michael Chambers were forward deployed to other bases.

"That was my first time being forward deployed," said Chambers. "We set up a base that had never been set up there before. So, working with 47 other Airmen from other bases was awesome experience for me."

Chambers was the team leader for the deployed 94th SFS Airmen. However, when he forward deployed, newly promoted Tech. Sgt. Daunte Saloy was selected as the new team leader.

"This was a great group that went," said Saloy. "We had several of our Airmen took on leadership roles within the deployed base's community. Deployed Airmen starting the base Honor Guard, completed Airman Leadership School, become officers in the charitable organization 'Cops for Kids', and intramural sports, for example."

All in all, the Airmen are glad to be back home and plan to utilize the Yellow Ribbon Program.

For more information of the Yellow Ribbon Program, please contact Capt. Travis Shepard, 94th Airlift Wing Yellow Ribbon coordinator, at 678-655-2701.

The returning Airmen extended their heartfelt thanks to the 94th SFS key spouse, Lauren Ozwald, 94th information security specialist, who was recently selected as the 2013 94th AW Spouse of the Year.

"You hear all the time when people say they're going to keep in touch," said Saloy. "You actually did it. You kept in touch with our families, and you worked with the commander to keep in touch with us. We received packages, emails, and calls. You went above and beyond to help us. We truly appreciate everything you did for us."

Reserve pilot wins top award for research

by Senior Airman Chelsea Smith
514th Air Mobility Wing public affairs

9/7/2013 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- "I can't tell you why I was selected," said Maj. Brian Alexander, 78th Air Refueling Squadron KC-10 Extender pilot. "I wrote the paper to finish the program. I didn't even know they awarded papers for outstanding academic research."

It was an unintended result after nearly four years of strenuous classwork, independent research, edits and re-writes that all culminated into a stellar research paper awarded the Airlift Tanker Association "Global Reach" award for excellence in research.

Alexander's journey began in the winter of 2009 when he enrolled in the online master's program at Air Command and Staff College in pursuit of his master's along with 507 other long distance candidates. Alexander endured 11, eight-week classes covering subjects such as leadership in warfare, joint planning, and international security studies.

Each week students were tasked to compose a five-page paper resulting in a collective research paper accounting for 40 percent of the student's final grade, said Alexander.

In total, Alexander said he spent 16 weeks developing a proposal and drafting a final product, though astonishingly, he was able to balance a full-time work schedule around school deadlines. Often dedicating up to 12 hours per week on school work, he completed the program in less than four years.

"The schedule was demanding," he said. "The concept of writing a research paper was daunting, but I had tremendous guided instruction from my advisors throughout the entire process."

Surpassing 480 in-residence students and 507 online students, his paper, entitled "Every Last Drop in the Tank: Analyzing Air Mobility Command's Fuel Usage, Policies, and Savings Efforts during Ground Operations," differentiated fuel efficiency standards between Air Mobility Command and commercial airliners, a topic he was self-admittedly well-versed in.

"There were other students that I felt were doing much more groundbreaking research," he said. "Some were writing about teams on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan and environmental issues such as fracking, but I felt like I was stating the obvious because it was all very common sense to me."

His common sense approach to the subject actually began years before hunkering down to complete his paper. Drawing on years of experience piloting KC-10 aircraft and flying commercially for JetBlue Airways and FedEx, Alexander translated his experienced, deep-seeded understanding of the subject matter to his academic work.

"Alexander is one of the best officers and pilots that we have in the squadron," said Lt. Col. Michael Cruff, 78th ARS commander. "Between active-duty and reserve deployments, he has supported more than 12 overseas operations and was the first KC-10 deployed in response to the Sept. 11 attacks."

Cruff and Alexander's friendship dates back to the late 1990s when they were first commissioned as second lieutenants following initial pilot training, in which Cruff described him as one of the most talented in his training class and the best KC-10 pilot in their peer group.

"He was always very laid back and quiet," said Cruff. "But he has always excelled academically, and outside of flying, he's also a talented golfer and swimmer."

Praise also comes from Dr. Bart Kessler, ACSC Distance Learning dean, who recognized Alexander in a signed letter championing his win as a significant accomplishment underscored by outstanding sustained performance.

Naturally, his illustrious academic achievements pre-date his award and entry into the Air Force.

He holds a bachelor's degree in engineering sciences from the University of Virginia, and his family, also highly accomplished, include his father, a retired naval officer who has a doctorate in electrical engineering and his mother, an English teacher for more than 20 years. Additionally, his wife currently works as a civil engineer while his sister works as a certified public accountant for Ernst and Young.

However, the accolades and full throttle adulation from his superiors and fellow unit members don't curtail his humble disposition because Alexander said he never thought there would be an ounce of repercussion after completing the program.

"A major motivation for enrolling initially was to obtain credit for ACSC to become more competitive for promotions," said Alexander. "But in hindsight, I gained a heightened sense of the Air Force as a whole because the program opened my eyes to functions beyond KC-10 operations."

It is this methodical and pragmatic rationale to all his successes that have relentlessly allowed him to excel academically and professionally in both his civilian and military careers.

The lieutenant colonel-select has been promoted to assistant director of operations and will assume additional duties of authoring awards and decorations and editing officer and enlisted performance reports, said Cruff.

"Good work is always rewarded with more work," said Cruff. "I anticipate continued successes in his leadership capacity as he takes on these crucial new roles."

As he officially settles into his new position, Alexander said he credits his school advisor, Dr. Dennis Duffin, his family and unit members for acting as a support system throughout the process.

"All I did was follow directions," said Alexander. "When they reviewed my research paper, it contained all the necessary components they were looking for. I take a very common sense approach to writing and ultimately, I was really just trying to graduate."

The online master's program, launched in 2007, operates through the ACSC and provides Air Force majors and civilian equivalents an educational opportunity to meet the needs of service while also accommodating current high operations tempo. Students are encouraged to finish the 88-week course within five years of their start date.

Vietnam Wall gives veterans a moment to reflect

by Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

9/7/2013 - CONCORDIA, Mo. -- Civilians, servicemembers and veterans in the Johnson County area gathered to attend the opening ceremony of the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall at the Concordia Aquatic Center in Concordia, Mo., Sept. 4.

The wall will be on display at the baseball field near the aquatic center until Sept. 8.

"I guarantee that six months from now, when there will be snow blowing out here, some will come out here and stand; they will remember this weekend," said retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Greg Welsh, Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall manager.

Welsh is a Vietnam veteran who served in the Air Force for more than 21 years.

"For some, this will never be a baseball diamond. This will be hallowed ground where the wall was and some will come out here and just stand and look at an empty ball diamond and they will remember them - this weekend we were here in Concordia," he added.

Hosting the wall in Concordia provided a unique opportunity to honor those who served in the Vietnam War, said one of the event's key organizers.

"It's been a distinct honor to bring the wall out to our community," said Mark Heins, Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall committee chairman. "We've had an amazing turnout and a constant flow of traffic. All of the area schools have been bringing busloads of children for educational opportunities."

Even though it has been a half a century since the Vietnam War, it is still very meaningful and touching to a lot of people, he said.

More than 1,200 people attended the ceremony, which included speeches given by Vietnam veterans and the playing of music by various music groups including the Airlifter Brass Band from Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

The event also included a presentation of colors and a wreath-laying ceremony conducted by the Whiteman Air Force Base Honor Guard.

The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall helps bring past and present military members and civilians of all ages together to view the names of lost family members and fallen companions, said retired U.S. Navy Col. Donald Ballard.

A Vietnam War veteran, Ballard is the only living Medal of Honor recipient in Missouri and dedicated more than 35 years of his life to military service.

"It's heartfelt to see everyone come out tonight to share their love, understanding and feelings with this wall," Ballard said.

Since the Vietnam War was an unpopular conflict during the 1960s and early 1970s, it was difficult for post-war veterans to easily transition back into society after returning from overseas, Ballard said.

"It was already hard enough because all of us suffered from some level of post-traumatic stress disorder," said Ballard, who still suffers from PTSD today.

While encouraging other veterans who also have PTSD, Ballard said he deals with his stress on a personal level.

"None of us wanted to go to war," Ballard said. "None of us wanted to go to combat and put ourselves in harm's way."

Surrounding himself with others who have been through similar experiences helps him cope with memories from the frontlines he has to live with forever, he said.

"I share my stories with people and I gain a lot by listening," Ballard said. "I listen and encourage other people to talk. By me helping them, I help myself."

Like Armed Forces members who are serving tours around the world today, the veterans engraved on the wall responded to their nation's call because their country needed them to, Ballard said.

"The 58,000 people who are on the wall own this Medal of Honor," Ballard said. "I wear it for them because they have earned more in my heart and my soul than any accolades or awards this government could ever offer. They were mostly 18-, 19- and 20-year-old men who gave up their lives so we could enjoy the freedoms we have today."

Those who come to see the wall pay an honor not only to the 58,000 veterans that are on the wall, but also to veterans of all wars.

"We've got the best country in the world and it is well worth fighting for," Ballard said.

Reserve C-130s return after battling largest wildland fires in US

by Ann Skarban
302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

9/9/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Two Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System-equipped C-130s from the Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing, aircrews and maintainers returned Aug. 30 after providing support to U.S. Forest Service aerial firefighting operations in the Western U.S.

The 302nd AW C-130s and approximately 30 Air Force Reservists were part of a duty rotation including three Air National Guard wings that fly the MAFFS mission.
During August the reserve C-130s made 124 drops using more than 335,000 gallons of retardant on fires in Oregon, Idaho, Nevada and California. This included more than 50 drops on both the Beaver Creek fire, a large fire in eastern Idaho and the Rim fire, California's fourth largest fire in that state's history that also threatened Yosemite National Park. As of the end of August, the Rim fire was the largest wildland fire currently burning in the U.S.

The 302nd began participating in the latest round of wildfires on Aug. 7 when a MAFFS-equipped C-130, aircrew and approximately 10 support personnel joined the 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard in MAFFS operations at Boise, Idaho Airport, making retardant drops on more than a dozen fires in Idaho, Oregon and Nevada. Two MAFFS C-130s from the California Air National Guard's 146th AW were also activated at their home base in Channel Islands, Calif. An additional 302nd AW C-130 was called up on Aug. 23, bringing to five the number of MAFFS C-130s used in the wildland fires.

The U.S. Forest Service redirected firefighting operations to McClellan Airfield, Calif., on Aug. 27, moving all five MAFFS firefighting resources closer to the Rim and Fish fires. The Rim fire burned more than 184,000 acres and threatened land and structures in Yosemite National Park. At that same time, the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group increased the national fire preparedness level to its highest point, PL-5. This was the fifth time in the last 10 years that PL-5 had been reached.

According to Lt. Col. Luke Thompson, 302nd AW chief of aerial firefighting, August was a somewhat typical month for the fire season.

As the month progressed, all MAFFS assets were activated to support the Rim fire. "With a fire that grows so fast in such a short time, it sometimes seems impossible to stop," Thompson said. "But once we began operations out of McClellan with full force committed to the Rim fire, it was like a construction project. Load after load of retardant was dropped to reinforce bulldozer lines and support the ground crews. We all were getting in as many drops as daylight allowed. After a few days of this the containment levels finally started going up. It's hard to see much difference made by one drop, but by the end of five days you could definitely see progress."

Reserve C-130s performed more than 50 drops on the Rim fire.

"Firefighting is a very fluid and dynamic endeavor," Thompson said. "The locations and intensities of fires change rapidly and MAFFS is required to react accordingly. Several times MAFFS systems had to be moved to other aircraft to accommodate new maintenance requirements. This requires a huge amount of work by maintenance and aerial port and they never batted an eye. They got the systems moved; accommodated short notice location changes, and kept the mission going."

To meet the needs of MAFFS operations, the aircraft maintainers worked a split shift operation. Basic post flight and pre-flights were worked nightly to ensure any aircraft discrepancies noted during that day's mission were corrected allowing the aircraft to be ready for the next day's missions. "The aircraft flew great every day, flying 16 of the 18 days deployed," said Chief Master Sgt. Mike Sanchez, 302nd Maintenance Operations Flight superintendent.

"We know the fire season is far from over so although the MAFFS systems have been downloaded so the aircraft can be used for their normal mission, we will continue to be ready if called. The systems are fully functional and all other operations and support equipment is ready to go, added Thompson.

This year the 302nd AW fire support season began June 11 when the U.S. Forest Service requested assistance for the Black Forest fire in northern Colorado Springs. Through Sept. 4, MAFFS-equipped C-130s flew 572 missions, made 535 drops using 1,375,981 gallons of retardant on fires in Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon and California.

"MAFFS is a very gratifying mission. The days can be long, and high stress knowing people's homes and lives may be in jeopardy. But compared to other endeavors, the impact [of MAFFS' containment] can be seen in a relatively short period of time," said Lt. Col. Jason Terry, 52nd Airlift Squadron commander.

As of Sept. 4 the National Interagency fire center reported 35,430 wildland fires had burned nearly 3.9 million acres in the U.S., roughly half of the 2004 to 2013 average of 6.1 million acres burned.

Unitas Maritime Exercise Promotes Unity, Interoperability

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2013 – Ships, aircraft and personnel from 15 nations launched the most enduring maritime exercise within U.S. Southern Command’s area of responsibility yesterday, with scenarios designed to increase their ability to work together to address regional challenges and threats.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Rentz anchors in the harbor of Cartagena, Colombia, to prepare for the start of the annual Unitas multinational naval exercise. The Colombian navy is hosting the exercise, which began Sept 8 and runs through Sept. 15. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, the Southcom commander, joined Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon and other regional defense leaders in kicking off Unitas 2013 in Cartegena, Colombia.

Unitas, Latin for “unity,” is a combined South American and U.S- sponsored exercise series focused on building cooperation, understanding and partnership among participating navies.
The Colombian navy is hosting this year’s exercise, the 54th since the first in 1959.

“This is the oldest maritime security exercise in this part of the hemisphere,” Kelly noted in his welcoming remarks. “For 54 years, we’ve been learning from one another and improving communications and interoperability between our sailors and Marines. Maritime security in this hemisphere is much stronger now, thanks to these exercises.”

Operating in the Caribbean waters off Colombia through Sept. 15, the participants in Unitas 2013 will focuses on coalition building, multilateral security cooperation, tactical interoperability and mutual understanding among the participants, said Navy Rear Adm. Sinclair M. Harris, the U.S. 4th Fleet commander overseeing its execution.

The goal, 4th Fleet officials said, is to develop and test participating navies’ capabilities to respond as a unified force to a wide variety of maritime missions.

"While the overarching goal of the exercise is to develop and test command and control of forces at sea, training in this exercise will address the spectrum of maritime operations," Harris said. Scenarios are expected to include electronic, anti-air, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare as well as air defense and maritime interdiction operations.

The United States, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Peru and the United Kingdom are providing sea and air assets for this year’s exercise. In addition, Belize, El Salvador, Germany, Jamaica, Panama and Mexico have sent observers or other staff.

USS Rentz, a guided-missile frigate with two SH-60 Seahawk helicopters and Coast Guard Cutter Forward are among the U.S. forces taking part in the exercise. Other U.S. participants include P-3C Orion fixed-wing aircraft from the Navy’s Patrol Squadron 47, BQM-74 Chukar air drones and a drone team, a command element and a public affairs team. U.S. Navy Reserve augmentees are operating the Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System friendly force tracker

THC yogurt reminds Airmen to read labels

by Staff Sgt. Steve Stanley
Air Combat Command Public Affairs

9/9/2013 - Langley AFB, Va.  --  It has become increasingly important for Airmen to read the labels of products they consume to ensure there is no damage to their career due to traces of hemp seeds and its derivatives being ingested from their day-to-day consumer products.

 A yogurt brand directly violates the Air Force's prohibition of products containing hemp seeds or hemp seed oil.

 Chobani, Inc., a Greek yogurt company, introduced the product, Blueberry Power, under their "Flip" line of yogurts.

 The prohibition is outlined in Air Force Instruction 44-120, Drug Demand Reduction Program, Paragraph 1.1.5 and states the ingestion of products containing, or products derived from, hemp seed or hemp seed oil is prohibited.

 Hemp seed and hemp seed oil contains tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, an active ingredient of marijuana, which is detectable under the Air Force Drug Testing Program.

 "The best advice to give anyone is read the label and do a little research," said Col. James Mullins, ACC command public health officer.

 By not reading these labels, Airmen have a greater chance of consuming products that may violate regulation and can fall subject to punishment under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

 The use of hemp seeds is prominently labeled with other ingredients on the top of the
Chobani yogurt's package, but ingredients may not be as clearly displayed on other consumer products.

 While Blueberry Power never made its way on to commissary shelves, some items containing hemp seeds or hemp seed oil can be found in commissaries and other various stores on and off base, to include health food stores.

KC-46 Tanker ‘On Cost, On Schedule,’ Acting AF Secretary Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2013 – The Air Force’s KC-46 air refueling tanker project is “on cost and on schedule,” Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning said here today.

In an interview with American Forces Press Service, Fanning said the program “is in a real healthy place.” The Air Force will buy 179 of the aircraft to replace the venerable KC-135 refuelers, which generally are older than the crews flying them.

The Air Force announced selection of the Boeing tanker in February 2011.

Fanning visited Boeing’s KC-46 plant in Everett, Wash., recently. Two KC-46s now in production there will be ready for flight next year. The KC-46 is based on the Boeing 767 aircraft, which had its first flight in 1981. The company has 32 years of experience with the plane.

“It’s a commercial derivative concept, and we are doing more on the line than we would normally do, which is why we are able to meet the timelines,” the acting secretary said. “Everything is coming together really well.”

The biggest reason this program is such a success is because the requirements were clearly defined and they were locked down, he said. The service has resisted adjusting the requirements during the course of development.

Still, there has to be flexibility to adjust for the learning process and that is also a part of the contract, Fanning said.

The acting secretary stressed that the new tanker is important for the Air Force. “When we went into sequestration, it was priority No. 1 to protect this,” he said. “We didn’t want to reopen it, because it’s got very favorable terms for the Air Force.”

The tanker will replace one-third of the refuelers in the Air Force. Follow-on contracts – for what the service today calls KC-Y and KC-Z tankers – will follow, he said.

 Fanning noted that while the KC-46 is an Air Force project and capability, all service members will benefit from it. “The Air Force moves everyone and everything,” he said. “All the other services depend on the Air Force to get their people and stuff around the globe.”

The KC-46 will make refueling aircraft of all services and allies easier, Fanning said. “It is truly one of the most important backbone platforms for the joint fight,” he added. “No other country can do this.”

Fanning said the Air Force mobility story is “fascinating,” adding that in visits to bases, he notices that the service’s efficiency and reach rival those of successful companies such as UPS or FedEx.

Airmen are proud of that, Fanning said, and are excited that there is progress on getting the new refuelers. “They take [the KC-46] as a commitment by the Air Force to their community,” he said.

National Security Advisor Makes Case for Action in Syria

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2013 – National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice today explained the objectives of punitive military strikes under consideration in response to the use of chemical weapons by the Bashar Assad regime against Syrian civilians.

In a speech at the New America Foundation, Rice said President Barack Obama’s administration has collaborated with the United Nations, Congress and other allies to isolate the Assad regime, deny its resources, bolster civilian and military opposition and secure diplomatic agreement with other key countries.

“We can and we will stand up for certain principals in this pivotal region,” Rice said. “We seek a Middle East where citizens can enjoy their universal rights, live in dignity, freedom and prosperity, choose their own leaders and determine their own future, free from fear, violence and intimidation.”
The military action, Rice said, is by no means the sum total of the U.S. policy toward Syria. “Our overarching goal is to end the underlying conflict through a negotiated political transition in which Assad leaves power,” she added.

But to this end, the national security advisor said, all parties must be willing to negotiate to avoid more direct action in the region.

“Only after pursuing a wide range of nonmilitary measures to prevent and halt chemical weapons use did President Obama conclude that a limited military strike is the right way to deter Assad from continuing to employ chemical weapons like any conventional weapon of war,” she said.

Rice said the lack of a response to the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons would present several risks.

“Failing to respond means more and more Syrians will die from Assad’s poisonous stockpiles,” she said. “Failing to respond makes our allies and partners in the region tempting targets of Assad’s future attacks.”

Risks also include opening the door to other weapons of mass destruction and emboldening those would use them, she said.

“We cannot allow terrorists bent on destruction, or a nuclear North Korea, or an aspiring nuclear Iran to believe for one minute that we are shying away from our determination to back up our long-standing warnings,” Rice said. “Failing to respond to this brazen attack could indicate that the United States is not prepared to use the full range of tools necessary to keep our nation secure.”

Rice also said inaction could undermine the United States’ ability to rally coalitions and lead internationally. “Any president, Republican or Democrat, must have recourse to all elements of American power to design and implement our national security policy, whether diplomatic, economic or military,” she said.

The sarin gas used in the Syrian regime’s Aug. 21 chemical attack is an odorless and colorless poison undetectable to its victims until it’s too late, Rice said, and which targets the body’s central nervous system, making every breath a struggle and causing nausea and uncontrollable convulsions.

“The death of any innocent in Syria or around the world is a tragedy, whether by bullet or landmine or poisonous gas,” the national security advisor said. “But chemical weapons are different -- they are wholly indiscriminate. Gas plumes shift and spread without warning.”

Chemical weapons kill on a scope and scale that is entirely different from conventional weapons, Rice said, adding that their effect is immense and the torturous death they bring is unconscionable.
The Syrian regime has one of the largest stockpiles of chemical weapons in the world, and Assad, Rice said, has been struggling to clear neighborhoods in Damascus and drive out the opposition amid an ever-waning conventional arsenal.

“Assad is lowering his threshold for use while increasing exponentially the lethality of his attacks,” Rice said.

Unaddressed, she said, the unrest creates even greater refugee flows and raises the risk that deadly chemicals would spill across borders into neighboring Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, as well as the closest U.S. ally, Israel.

“Every time chemicals weapons are moved, unloaded and used on the battlefield, it raises the likelihood that these weapons will fall into the hands of terrorists active in Syria, including Assad’s ally Hezbollah and al-Qaida affiliates,” Rice said. “That prospect puts Americans at risk of chemical attacks, targeted at our soldiers and diplomats in the region and even potentially our citizens at home.”
Every attack also serves to unravel the long-established commitment of nations to renounce chemical weapons use, Rice said, specifically 189 countries representing 98 percent of the world’s population, which now prohibit development, acquisition or use of these weapons.