Wednesday, September 18, 2013

B-1 goes to sea for testing, evaluation

by Senior Airman Peter Thompson
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

9/18/2013 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The B-1B Lancer may have made its name supporting ground troops and destroying land-based targets, but the Air Force is now developing tactics for using the aircraft over the ocean.

A B-1B Lancer from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, alongside other bomber and fighter aircraft, participated in a maritime tactics development and evaluation Sept. 4 with the goal of improving and better understanding the aircraft's capabilities in the new environment.

"Many of the dynamic targeting skills we've refined over the past decade on land are directly applicable in the maritime environment," said Capt. Alicia Datzman, chief of weapons and tactics for the 337th Test and Evaluations Squadron at Dyess. . "This is the perfect opportunity to validate and refine these tactics."

During the evaluations, the B-1 dropped a total of six munitions to include a laser-guided, 500-pound bomb GBU-54, as well as 500 and 2,000-pound joint direct attack munitions.

"This evaluation solidifies what our crew members have already known - we can strike surface targets," said Lt. Col. Alejandro Gomez, 337th special projects officer. "The knowledge we gain from these events gives combatant commanders assurance that we can be called upon to complete the mission."

The B-1's role in the tactics development and evaluation exercise was to detect, target and engage small boats using currently fielded and available weapons, which were released in all weather conditions.

Gomez said that B-1s are versatile aircraft, capable of protecting important assets at sea and patrolling allied shipping lanes, because of its speed and ability to stay in the air longer than most aircraft.

"Future wars might not all be on land, some may include surface combat, so we are evaluating the way we employ the B-1 to aid in completing the mission," Gomez said.

With the platform constantly being upgraded and new applications for the aircraft being discovered regularly, the 337th TES is often called upon to find new and innovative ways to use the Bomber.

"We are the 911 of the B-1 community," Gomez said. "When something needs to be adjusted or improved for our aircraft, we are called upon to find the solution."

Gomez said one of the most useful tools in the 337th TES arsenal is the TD&E. During a TD&E, data is collected in flight of all information contributing to the mission. Once completed, the aircrew examines data from the mission to determine how efficiently they tracked, engaged and destroyed the target. From there, the 337th TES develops future tactics, techniques and procedures manuals using the knowledge they've gained.

With more experience in varying environments, B-1s are becoming increasingly capable of serving in joint operations with the Air Force's sister branches.

"Success in these sorts of tests gives our sister services confidence that the B-1 can get the effects they need to meet combatant commander requirements both over land and sea.With the right assets supporting us, this platform is unstoppable," Gomez said. "We can't do it all alone, but by working with others, the B-1 is capable of doing so much to support our nation."

Colorado National Guard, Army Soldiers rescue more than 2,100 people displaced by massive floods

Courtesy story
Click photo for screen-resolution image
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (9/16/13) - More than 550 Colorado National Guardsmen and active-duty Army Soldiers have rescued in excess of 2,100 people and hundreds of pets displaced by flooding in Colorado.

Active-duty Army Soldiers and helicopters from Fort Carson, Colo., joined the Colorado National Guard in rescue efforts Sept. 13.
Additionally, Guardsmen filled nearly 10,000 sandbags in Jefferson County to help civil authorities mitigate flooding effects.

The massive floods left at least four people dead, according to media reports.

Meanwhile, Defense Department spokesman George Little noted that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel supported Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's request Sept. 13 to establish a dual-status commander in the state.

Since then, he added, Air Force Brig. Gen. Peter J. Byrne, joint staff director for the Colorado National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters, and his assigned forces of nearly 560 Colorado and Wyoming National Guard members have evacuated more than 2,100 residents.

National Guard officers designated as dual-status commanders have the authority to command both federal and National Guard forces during a domestic response. In the absence of the designation, federal troops operating under Title 10 authority report to one commander, and National Guard members serving under Title 32 state active duty authority report to another.

"Active duty forces, through the coordination and direction of U.S. Northern Command, are complementing these National Guard assets in the overall response to the flood relief efforts,” Little said. “Seven helicopters from the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson have been conducting search-and-rescue operations under immediate response authority.”

Despite dealing with some tough weather, the press secretary said, 4th Infantry Division soldiers have rescued more than 700 residents, including 85 elementary school students at a camp near Jamestown. Buckley Air Force Base has been designated as a Federal Emergency Management Agency staging area.

"This cooperative effort among active and reserve forces to protect lives in Colorado's flood-ravaged areas is a testament to the department's ability to provide critical and timely support to FEMA and first responders during a domestic crisis,” Little said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those impacted by the events in Colorado and we hope for the continued safety for all emergency response personnel involved."

Senior leaders salute Air Force’s 66th birthday

Air Force News Service
Click photo for screen-resolution image
WASHINGTON (9/18/13) - Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody issued the following message to the Airmen of the United States Air Force:

On the 66th birthday of the United States Air Force, we salute the dedicated Airmen who provide airpower for America.

From 1947 to today, Airmen have accomplished our Service's core missions - air and space superiority; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; rapid global mobility; global strike; and command and control. We have evolved into a service that carries out missions through air, space and cyberspace, but our core missions have remained constant. Advances in technology now allow us to fly faster, farther and higher than ever before. We use aircraft and spacecraft that no one could have imagined at our service's creation, and we continue to provide an asymmetric advantage for America.
Airmen have been and continue to be the strength of our service. The U.S. Air Force was forged by airpower legends with names like Sijan, Levitow, Jones and Day. These heroes and many others made history, and their legacy continues as today's Airmen write the history of this generation. Decades from now, the names of Airmen among us today will be as familiar as the names of the earlier heroes we celebrate.

America depends on the Airmen who provide global vigilance, global reach and global power, and our remarkable total force of active duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian Airmen has never failed to answer the Nation's call. Please join us in proudly celebrating the 66th birthday of the U.S. Air Force. As always, we sincerely thank you and your families for all that you do.

Happy Birthday, Air Force!

Missouri Air National Guard pilot surpasses 1,000 flying hours in stealth bomber

By Senior Master Sgt. Mary-Dale Amison
131st Bomb Wing Public Affairs
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WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. (9/18/13) - A routine flying mission became a major achievement for the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing when Maj. Luke Jayne surpassed 1,000 flying hours in the B-2 Spirit Saturday.

Crossing the 1000-hour mark, Jayne joins an elite group of pilots, said Maj. Jared Kennish, 110th Bomb Squadron commander.
"Maj. Jayne's flight is another milestone for the 110th Bomb Squadron and the131st Bomb Wing," said Kennish, who logged his 1,000th hour piloting a B-2 in 2009.

"In his short time in the squadron, Maj. Jayne has been a great asset. Events like this really highlight the success of our total force integration with the 509th Bomb Wing, and showcase the experience we in the Air Guard bring to the B-2 mission."

Fewer than 600 active duty Air Force and Air National Guard pilots have flown the B-2 bomber and of those only 35 have logged 1000 flying hours or more.

"I have flown a couple of times recently, but was just hours shy of logging 1,000 hours," Jayne said, "I had about a three-month delay in flying due to my transition to the Air National Guard, which is normal, but it was a bit nerve wracking because I was so close."

While relatively new to the 131st, Jayne was active duty for just over 11 years, including duty stations at Vance Air Force Base, Okla., Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, and Whiteman.

"I didn't really pursue aviation until I was in college, but quickly learned that I loved it," Jayne said, "It wasn't until my sophomore year that I looked into a military option when a buddy talked me into joining Air Force ROTC at Kansas State."

Currently the weapons and tactics officer for the 110th Bomb Squadron attached to the 325th Weapons School, Jayne also has flying time in the T-37 and T-38 as an instructor pilot.

Saturday, he piloted the B-2 "Spirit of Alaska" alongside Col. Edward Martignetti, 509th Bomb Wing Operations Group commander.

"I first met Maj. Jayne as his squadron commander and knew straight-away that he's an exceptional aviator and instructor," Martignetti said. "I also knew that he's a perfect fit for our total force integration brethren setting the foundational standard of B-2 Spirit exceptionalism. The 509th hired him directly from undergraduate pilot training for a reason and, a decade later, the 131st hired him for the same reason - his unrelenting drive for perfection in execution and commitment to teaching our officers and pilots the same.

"It was an honor for me, as the 509th Operations Group commander, to be given the opportunity to fly with 'Deuce' on this milestone sortie. He has established a reputation as an outstanding pilot and will be an asset to the 131st Bomb Wing. I have no doubt that he'll be one of the first to achieve 2,000 B-2 hours!"

The 131st Bomb Wing and 110th Bomb Squadron have lived through much of aviation history in 90 years as a unit, and since relocating from Saint Louis to Whiteman in 2008, have seen many achievements, most recently the passing of their initial nuclear surety inspection.

Only 35 pilots have ever reached 1,000 B-2 hours, and just 13 still actively fly the B-2 stealth bomber.
Jayne joins fellow 1,000 hour 131st pilots Col. Mike Pyburn, Lt. Col. Rhett Binger, Lt. Col Dave Thompson, Lt Col. Geoff Billingsley, Maj. Jared Kennish, Maj. John Avery, and Lt. Col Mike Means (over 1700 hours), who recently retired from the 131st Bomb Wing)

"Flying the B-2 is an incredible privilege that I haven't lost sight of in my years at Whiteman," said Jayne, "I can't believe I get to continue doing this as a Guardsman with the Missouri Air National Guard. My family and I are very blessed and thankful for this opportunity."

Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System Completes Successful Intercept Flight Test

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA), U.S. Pacific Command, and U.S. Navy sailors aboard the USS Lake Erie (CG 70) successfully conducted a flight test today of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system, resulting in the intercept of a complex separating short-range ballistic missile target over the Pacific Ocean by the Aegis BMD 4.0 Weapon System and a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB guided missile.

At approximately 2:30 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time (8:30 p.m. EDT), a complex separating short-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii. The target flew northwest towards a broad ocean area of the Pacific Ocean. Following target launch, the USS Lake Erie detected and tracked the missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar. The ship, equipped with the second-generation Aegis BMD weapon system, developed a fire control solution and launched two SM-3 Block IB guided missiles to engage the target. The first SM-3 that was launched successfully intercepted the target warhead. This was the first salvo mission of two SM-3 Block IB guided missiles launched against a single separating target.

Program officials will assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.
This test exercised the latest version of the second-generation Aegis BMD Weapon System, capable of engaging longer range and more sophisticated ballistic missiles. This was an operationally realistic test, in which the target's launch time and bearing are not known in advance, and the target complex was the most difficult target engaged to date.

Today's event, designated Flight Test-Standard Missile-21 (FTM-21), was the fourth consecutive successful intercept test of the SM-3 Block IB guided missile with the Aegis BMD 4.0 Weapon System.

FTM-21 is the 27th successful intercept in 33 flight test attempts for the Aegis BMD program since flight testing began in 2002. Across all Ballistic Missile Defense System programs, this is the 63rd successful hit-to-kill intercept in 79 flight test attempts since 2001.

Aegis BMD is the naval component of the MDA's Ballistic Missile Defense System. The Aegis BMD engagement capability defeats short- to intermediate-range, unitary and separating, midcourse-phase ballistic missile threats with the SM-3, as well as short-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase with the Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) Block IV missile. The MDA and the U.S. Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD program.

U.S., Philippines construct school facilities during Pacific Unity 2013-7

by Master Sgt. Ryan Kruse
Defense Media Activity, Hawaii

9/18/2013 - PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines -- Classes at the Virgilio R. Magbanua Memorial Elementary School, here, have been taught with an orchestra of pounding hammers, loud generators and buzzing circular saws in the background.

The symphony is courtesy of 28 Airmen from the 18th Civil Engineer Group from Kadena Air Base, Japan, with U.S. Navy and Philippine Air Force counterparts, who came out Aug. 12 through Sept. 12, to support Operation Pacific Unity 2013-7.

Pacific Unity is a bilateral Engineering Civic Action Program conducted in the Asia-Pacific region in collaboration with host nation civil authorities and military personnel.

Two permanent classrooms made out of concrete and steel were built to replace an old overhead plastic tent that teachers used to instruct up to 70 students at the small school.

"The goal of Pacific Unity is conducting joint force operations coupled with humanitarian relief and civil military operations," said 2nd Lt. Ethan Widrick, project officer in charge.

The long hours Widrick's team put in does not go unnoticed.

"We are very thankful for the U.S. Air Force," said Maria Bella Magbanua, 3rd grade teacher. "There are 306 students and currently we only have one bathroom."

The school now has five new restrooms inside the classrooms. One teacher joked that another benefit of having a bathroom inside the classroom is that some students don't return to class after using the outside restroom.

The airmen are also replacing a leaking roof and adding a concrete courtyard near the main entrance.

For one Airman, the job reminded him of his childhood.

Tech. Sgt. Donald Sicat, 18th CE structural craftsman, grew up near Clark Air Base, Philippines, when it was still an active base. He moved to the United States when he was 10 years old, but he vividly remembers the humanitarian missions that helped his community with medical and civic action programs.

"For me to be able to do the same thing they did for me is a humbling experience, said Sicat. These are my people and I know firsthand what they're going through. To be able to build them a school like this is a wonderful thing."

This year marks the fourth iteration of the operation which began in 2010.

Welsh champions communication, airpower in Air Force update

By Staff Sgt. David Salanitri, Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Operating Location - Pentagon

WASHINGTON (AFNS) --The Air Force chief of staff discussed airpower and the service’s warfighting capabilities across its core missions at the Air Force Association’s 2013 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition here today. Gen. Mark A. Welsh III presented the Air Force update on the second day of the three-day, 55-session conference covering various topics pertaining to the total force.

Welsh described what the Air Force must do to remain dominant in air, space and cyberspace domains. He noted the service’s 690,000 members performing air-related duties compared to the Navy’s 70,000 personnel, the Marines’ 39,000 and the Army’s 34,000.

“There is one Air Force in America, and you’re in it,” Welsh said. “If the combatant commander wants airpower, there’s only one number to call.”

Welsh also addressed the issue of readiness, especially in light of current budget constraints. “We have to minimize the impact where we can -- it’s not going to be good.”

The general acknowledged other impacts to the force, including scale-backs to exercises and weapons schools but said he remains confident in Airmen.

“Our force is better educated than it has ever been, and we need to empower our Airmen -- they’re remarkably capable.”

Welsh encouraged the use of social media to facilitate two-way communication and buffer against communication pitfalls such as “stove-piped information.”

“Chief (Master Sgt. of the Air Force James) Cody and I are on Facebook and Twitter, which is terrifying,” Welsh said over laughter. “Follow us.”
Welsh said the newest “Global Vigilance, Global Reach and Global Power for America” document is internally focused and designed to help Airmen understand their role in the broader scheme of the Air Force. He also described Air Force 2023, an effort in progress to incorporate resources and strategy.

“Then we start turning the ship and heading to whatever that picture of 2023 looks like,” Welsh said.

With budget woes casting a haze of uncertainty on the future, the general called the furlough “a breach of faith” that he hopes does not occur again. He acknowledged the challenges of Air Force civilians who’ve been without pay raises for three years.

Welsh also expressed concern about retaining the Air Force’s best Airmen, specifically pilots, as training hours dwindle and units are grounded.

“Our rated force has options,” Welsh said. “They served well and now they have choices to make … If we’re not letting them keep their edge, they’ll walk.”

The Air Force’s recapitalization priorities include the KC-46 tanker, the F-35 Lightning II and the long range-strike bomber -- all critical in engaging with a determined, well-armed, well-trained opponent, the general explained.

Welsh said when people ask him if he worries about the Air Force’s future, the response is simple.

“The answer is no … I’ll never worry,” he said. “Not while (they) are on our side,” Welsh said of several Airmen he asked to join him on stage. “This is our Air Force.”

First Rotational U.S. Army Unit to Deploy to South Korea

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2013 – The Marines have a rotational element that deploys to Darwin, Australia, as part of the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. The Navy has started littoral combat ship rotations in Singapore.

Now an Army attack reconnaissance squadron is deploying to South Korea, where it will spend the next nine months as the first U.S. rotational land forces in the region.

The main body of 4th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment will deploy next week from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to join its forward elements already on the ground at Camp Humphreys, Army Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, the 7th Infantry Division commander, told American Forces Press Service.

Army officials announced the deployment earlier this month in support of the U.S. defense commitment to South Korea as specified by the mutual defense treaty and presidential agreements.

The 4-6 Cav’s 380 members will operate in support of U.S. 8th Army, the 2nd Infantry Division and the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, Army Lt. Col. Brian Watkins, the squadron commander, said during a telephone interview from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The unit, commonly referred to as the 4-6 Attack Reconnaissance Squadron, will deploy with 30 OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters. The aircraft where shipped from Tacoma, Wash., and are expected to arrive in South Korea later this month, Watkins said.

Plans call for the squadron to leave the helicopters behind after the deployment is completed for use by the follow-on rotational unit, from U.S. Army Alaska.

While in South Korea, the 4-6 Cav will provide a trained and combat-ready rotational force in support of U.S. Forces Korea, commanded by Army Gen. James D. Thurman, Lanza said.

“General Thurman and the team in Korea are very excited to have them come out, because there are strategic implications of sending this force to Korea,” he said.

Lanza said he, too, is enthusiastic that, as his soldiers’ commitments wind down in the U.S. Central Command area of operations, they will be able to assume more missions in the Asia-Pacific region in support of the U.S. strategic rebalance.

“We are excited to provide resources, capacity and capability to [U.S. Pacific Command] and really support our Army here as we rebalance and support the president’s strategy,” he said.

Watkins said the rotational unit “will tie in and certainly offer some enhanced security for the peninsula,” particularly with the additional reconnaissance assets it will provide.

“We will definitely be adding some capability there,” he said.

Meanwhile, the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade at Camp Humphreys has helped the 4-6 Cav focus its pre-deployment training to fit the mission it will fill during the rotation, Watkins said.

“They have an established headquarters there, and they have done a great job of making sure they are ready to receive us and helping us hit the ground running so we can be successful when we are over there,” he said.

The 4-6 Cav has two combat deployments to Iraq under its belt, Watkins said. The first was to Baghdad from shortly after the initial invasion in 2003 to 2004, and the second was in Mosul during the troop surge from 2007 to 2008.

The squadron was slated for a third Iraq deployment, but was removed from the deployment roster as the United States began scaling down and ultimately withdrawing the force there.

With combat veterans making up about 40 percent of the rotational unit, Watkins said, the combat experience will be “invaluable” during the upcoming deployment.

“The way we will execute the missions will be slightly different, based on the capability of the potential enemy that is out there, but that combat experience gives [the soldiers] the capability to make good decisions when it comes to operating the aircraft and figuring out how to execute the missions,” he said.

Pairing combat veterans with those who have never deployed in the cockpit will help to spread this expertise across the squadron, making the entire organization better, he said.

Watkins said he welcomes the opportunity for his soldiers to partner with their South Korean counterparts.

“It offers a chance for us to share lessons learned and to learn a bit more about how our allies’ armies do their business,” he said.

But particularly exciting, he said, is the opportunity to chart new ground.

“I think it is a great thing for the squadron to be the first,” Watkins said. “It gives us the opportunity to help prepare and lay groundwork for the units that follow us -- not just the squadron that is going to immediately follow us, but the other Army units that potentially could be identified as rotational units.
“This will allow us to look at some of the things we have done, identify some best practices, and help make them successful as they come over and support future rotations,” he said.

Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, the U.S. Pacific Command commander, is a big fan of rotational units that he said provide an “uptick in presence” that complements that provided by the 330,000 service members permanently based within the Pacom area of responsibility.

“What they provide is an ability to work with our allies and to leverage the capabilities of the allies across all aspects of peace to conflict,” the admiral said. Rotational forces, he added, also provide a regional presence that could pay dividends if the United States had to flow more forces into a particular area to protect the interests of the U.S. and its allies.

Locklear acknowledged that the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have tied up many Army assets for the past 12 years, limiting training opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Our ability to operate effectively, cross-Army to cross-Army, has not been good in the last decade or so, because most Army assets were tied up in the Middle East,” the admiral said.

Five of the world’s largest armies are in the Asia-Pacific, said Locklear, who noted that he welcomed the chance for increased U.S. Army engagement in the region.

Strategy, Threats, Resources Must Balance, Winnefeld Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2013 – The tough fiscal environment means the Air Force must make investment choices that protect America and its interests today, but also in the future, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said at the Air Force Association’s annual Air and Space Conference today.
Navy Adm. James A. “Sandy” Winnefeld Jr. said that with less money, it is even more important to make the correct operational and investment decisions.

The threats are out there, the admiral said. In the past, he added, there was enough money to fund responses to those threats to the nation and its interests and allies. But with fewer dollars, he said, it is imperative to prioritize the competing claims on a shrinking defense budget.

Threats run the gamut, “beginning with major nation-states, who have watched the U.S. military’s impressive capability -- with some anxiety -- and who are working hard to catch up,” Winnefeld said. These states cannot challenge American military superiority head to head, he added, but they will try to do so asymmetrically.

The threats include highly insecure authoritarian states such as Iran, North Korea and Syria. Such nations, the vice chairman explained, conclude that obtaining deliverable nuclear weapons is the best insurance policy for their regimes.

“This also has huge implications, ranging from the importance of limited missile defense to how we might handle a conflict on the Korean Peninsula,” Winnefeld said.

And the threat from violent extremists hasn’t disappeared, the admiral said. These terrorists have “morphed from a centrally controlled apparatus within a supportive host nation, to a group of highly diversified, feisty and independent yet weakened franchises living mostly in poorly governed or ungoverned spaces,” he told the audience.

These groups are learning and have become “operationally wiser” over time, and they still threaten American citizens and interests across the globe, he said.

“There are other threats, including transnational criminal organizations and cyber-empowered individuals,” Winnefeld said. “Even the threat of disasters is changing along with the Earth’s climate.”
The Pentagon’s strategy prioritizes these threats, the vice chairman said. But Congress, he added, must provide the Defense Department with the flexibility to manage whatever funds it gets to meet those missions.

Congress should give the department “as much freedom to maneuver as possible within our budgets, and by removing restrictions on our ability to become more efficient,” Winnefeld added. Congress needs to remove limitations on the “downsizing glideslopes,” the vice chairman said, “where we need to get our old stuff out of the system so we can buy and sustain new stuff.”

Congress also needs to authorize a new round of base closures and realignments so the Defense Department can get rid of the 20 percent excess infrastructure it is carrying, Winnefeld said, adding that Congress and DOD officials need to look at personnel accounts as well.

“While everyone here would agree that our magnificent men and women in uniform deserve more than the average bear, we simply cannot sustain our recent growth trajectory in pay and benefits and expect to preserve a properly sized, trained and equipped force,” he said.

“Some will fight some of these needed changes, but I would ask you to stand up and understand that the most important benefit we can provide for our people is to train and equip them to fly, fight and win and come home safely to their families,” Winnefeld said.

Cannon prepares to honor POW/MIA comrades

by Senior Airman Whitney Tucker
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

9/9/2013 - CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Each year, ceremonies affirming the commitment to bring home America's Prisoner of War and Missing in Action service members are held across the country on military installations and ships at sea; at state capitals, schools and churches; by national veteran and civic organizations, police and fire departments; and a plethora of other agencies.

Joining in this collective veneration, Air Commandos at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., have the opportunity to participate in several activities commemorating America's lost, courtesy of the base Air Force Sergeants Association, Chapter 1255. Activities will include a ruck march, monument clean up, name reading vigil, remembrance luncheon and retreat ceremony.

According to the Defense POW/MIA Office, more than 83,000 Americans remain missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War and the 1991 Gulf War.

Even as they stare these statistics in the face, America's sons and daughters pledge to support and defend during one of the nation's most volatile conflicts to date. They do so of their own volition, with the knowledge that some will pay the ultimate price, and others will fall under the power of the enemy.

This fearless demonstration of conviction speaks to the confidence service members have placed in the ability of their government to fulfill the promise to never stop searching, and to bring resolution to past, present and future generations in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

POW/MIA events are scheduled as follows:

· 16 Sept: Ruck March
· 17 Sept: Chapel Monument Clean Up
· 18 Sept: Name Reading Vigil
· 19 Sept: POW/MIA Luncheon
· 19 Sept: 24-hour Vigil Run
· 20 Sept: Retreat Ceremony (National POW/MIA Recognition Day)

For more information regarding AFSA Chapter 1255's planned POW/MIA events, contact Tech. Sgt. Julie McLaughlin at 575-784-2131.

Military Assets Ready to Back Up Diplomatic Push With Syria

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2013 – U.S. military assets remain ready to launch attacks if the diplomatic efforts to secure and dismantle the Syrian regime’s chemical arms should fail, senior defense officials said here today.

In a Pentagon news conference, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the military role today is limited.

“The current role of the military is to provide some planning assistance to the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons … who has the lead, and as well as to maintain the credible threat of force, should the diplomatic track fail,” Dempsey said.

The chairman said he believes forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar Assad have maintained control of the regime’s chemical weapons. The environment inside Syria is “very challenging,” he added.

Still, Dempsey said, he believes it is possible for the international community to work in the country.
“So long as [Syrian leaders] agree to the framework, which causes them to be responsible for the security, the movement, the protection of the investigators or the inspectors, then I think that … it is feasible,” Dempsey said. “But we’ve got to make sure we keep our eye on all of those things.”

The chairman acknowledged that disposing of chemical weapons is a complicated task.

“The framework calls for it to be controlled, destroyed or moved,” he said. “In some combination, it is feasible, but those details will have to be worked by the OPCW.”

Overall, the conflict in Syria ebbs and flows, the chairman said, and rebel groups in the country are concerned that the focus on chemical weapons will detract from the willingness of partners to support them.

“But … in terms of direct threats to U.S. interests, I think … that the elimination of the Assad regime's chemical capability is right at the top of our national interests,” Dempsey added. “If this process bears fruit and achieves its stated purpose, we will be in a better position.”

Generals speak to importance, relevancy of nuclear enterprise

by Tech. Sgt. Lesley Waters
Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Operating Location - Pentagon

9/18/2013 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Three Air Force generals discussed the state of the service's nuclear enterprise during the Air Force Association's 2013 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition here Sept. 17.

Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, the Air Force Global Strike Command commander; Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak, the Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration assistant chief of staff; and Maj. Gen. Sandra Finan, the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center commander, shared their perspectives on the nuclear enterprise and the role of deterrence in the nation's defense.

"The challenges we face today, are different and much more complex than they were back (during the Cold War) in that ideological death struggle with the Soviet Union," Kowalski said to open the panel.

The only capability some countries have is nuclear weapons, which represent existential threats to the United States and the rest of the world.

Kowalski said the United States must be able to deter any adversary and assure any ally, maintaining an arsenal that is safe, secure and effective.

Harencak covered three items that showed how safe, secure and effective the U.S. stockpile is.

"First, we, your United States Air Force, does nuclear deterrence ops superbly, each and every day," Harencak said.

"There has not been a time where there has been a safer, more secure nuclear enterprise than today," Harencak said. "It is because of the senior leadership who is committed to the nuclear enterprise for today and the future."

"Second, is the relevancy of deterrence and the triad," he said. "Deterrence is as relevant today in 2013, as is it was in 1973, 1963 and 1953."

The triad refers to the three arms of the nation's nuclear arsenal, which consists of strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

Harencak echoed Kowalski when he said how difficult it is in sustaining and modernizing the weapon systems to provide deterrence in an ever-evolving strategic environment.

He concluded his remarks by saying, "We maintain a safe, secure and effective stockpile for the United States and its allies for as long as nuclear weapons exist."

Finan concluded the panel saying the Nuclear Weapons Center is responsible for delivering the nuclear capabilities the warfighters use. She highlighted how the NWC plans to recapitalize on the nuclear systems to include the ICBM program and depot maintenance concept.

"These programs will help us squeeze the value from every dollar we have," Finan said.

The Air Force is trying to extend the life of the nuclear systems by working closely with the Navy on an interoperable warhead, she said, fusing capital assets and anything else to share costs and knowledge to make both more effective.

"We are facing some difficult challenges in the budget world," she said. "We have to deliver for the United States the nuclear capabilities with the resources we have."

The three-day conference is a professional development conference sponsored and conducted by AFA in support of the total Air Force.

Global Strike Command pounds the pavement

by Airman 1st Class Joseph Raatz
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

9/18/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Elite athletes from all around Air Force Global Strike Command will compete against thousands of other runners at the Air Force Marathon on Wright-Patterson Air Force base, Ohio.

Scheduled for Sept. 21, the 17th annual Air Force Marathon is expected to draw approximately 15,000 participants across four events. Athletes may elect to run a half-marathon or a five or 10 kilometer race, rather than the full marathon. The 26.2 mile full-marathon course traverses several historic locations on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base including the National Museum of the United States Air Force, the Air Force Institute of Technology and the Wright Brothers Memorial Monument.

As part of the race, AFGSC team members will participate in the Major Command Challenge, an Air Force-wide competition open to active-duty and activated Guard and Reserve servicemembers. The challenge pits MAJCOM teams against one another in a friendly competition to achieve the lowest combined time. A prestigious traveling trophy will be presented to the winning team's MAJCOM commander.

Gen. Bruce Carlson established the MAJCOM Challenge in 2007 to promote broader participation in the Air Force Marathon and foster esprit-de-corps through inter-MAJCOM competition. This is the first year teams will include 10 members and scores will be based purely on combined time.

In accordance with Air Force Marathon regulations the AFGSC team consists of seven men and three women, split into two groups. Members include:

Full Marathon
Capt. Bryan Kelly, 393d Bomb Squadron, Whiteman AFB, Mo.
1st Lt. Elizabeth Brown, 91st Operations Support Squadron, Minot AFB, N.D.
Tech. Sgt. Marc Rehm, 608th Air Communications Squadron, Barksdale AFB
Senior Airman Kyle Sturdefant, 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Minot AFB

Half Marathon
Maj. Warren Carroll, 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale AFB
Capt. Kevin Hostettler, 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman AFB
Senior Master Sgt. Julie Van Hise, 709th Munitions Squadron, Whiteman AFB
Senior Airman Tania Miranda Costa, 90th Logistics Readiness Squadron, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.
Airman 1st Class Timothy Schlappich, 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Minot AFB
Airman 1st Class Cyril Rumsey, 90th Force Support Squadron, F.E. Warren AFB

Sturdefant will return this year to once again represent AFGSC at the Air Force Marathon. Last year he finished the marathon with a time of 2:40, making him the fourth fastest finisher among active duty participants and sixth overall.

"It's my second year on the team, and I feel pretty happy about it," Sturdefant said. "I plan to finish in the top three this year."

The AFGSC team is financed entirely by non-appropriated funds, which are funds raised by the command for the purpose of morale and welfare, rather than by funds budgeted by Congress.

Also participating in the Air Force Marathon is Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, AFGSC commander, who will run the half-marathon with several family members.

U.S., India to Be Partners on World Stage, Carter Says

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2013 – Because they share common values and outlooks on a wide range of issues, the United States and India are destined to be partners on the world stage, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter told Indian officials during a visit there this week, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter holds a news conference on the final day of his visit to New Delhi, Sept. 18, 2013. DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
In a statement summarizing the deputy secretary’s visit, Little said Carter met with National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh and Defense Secretary Radha Krishna Mathur.

Carter discussed with Indian officials the forthcoming meeting in Washington between President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and steps toward deepening the multifaceted U.S.-Indian defense relationship.

“They held in-depth consultations on the ongoing political and security transitions in Afghanistan and other regional security issues, common multilateral engagements, joint military exercises, and the significant and growing defense trade between the two countries,” Little said. “They discussed steps the United States and India are taking to streamline their respective administrative processes and make bilateral defense trade more responsive and effective.”

In addition to these meetings, the press secretary said, Carter was briefed by Indian air force pilots on India's co-produced C-130J transport aircraft and recently procured C-17 cargo jets. He also hosted a meeting of senior representatives from the U.S. and Indian defense industries that focused on additional steps the United States can take to remove barriers to bilateral defense trade, he added.