Friday, September 20, 2013

F-35 program chief cites steady progress

By Airman 1st Class Alexander W. Riedel, Air Force News Service

 WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Citing changes to one of the Defense Department’s most ambitious acquisition programs, F-35 Lightning II development is making steady progress, the F-35 Joint Program Executive Officer said here Sept. 17.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan told military and industry experts at the Air Force Association’s 2013 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition that the program has changed for the better over recent years.

“A number of years ago there was not a great balance of risk between industry and the government,” Bogdan said, noting that a year later, the progress, though accelerating, will still take time.

Among the improvements, Bogdan reported increases in flight testing, including plus-ups in testing locations and qualified personnel resulting in increased production.

“This program is slow because it is vast,” he said. “Progress takes a lot of time, but time is something we don’t have a whole lot of.”

The general said he was confident the U.S. Air Force will have what it needs by 2016 to declare initial operating capability.

“I’m also confident that ... our Italian partners and our Israeli friends will get delivery of their airplanes.”

Other changes include the establishment of a “cost war room,” an industry-financed office, which Bogdan said integrates industry and government experts in manufacturing, supply-chain and cost-analysis to monitor and control costs.

Also essential to driving down costs, Bogdan said, is increased buy-in and support from partner nations.

The general cited an example that the Netherlands recently announced their commitment to purchase the fifth-generation fighter as replacement for their aging fleet of F-16s.

“When we buy more aircraft, the price per airplane comes down,” Bogdan explained. “From a warfighting perspective, the ability for us to be side by side with our allies, flying the same aircraft with ... similar capabilities in an (area of responsibility), is a very powerful signal to the rest of the world that we are one team.”

Running with McGuire's dog whisperer

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

9/19/2013 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- As the van rounded the corner into the vacant parking lot, five eager heads peered through the crack of its windows revealing large gaping eyes, the silhouette of wagging tails and a hyper-awareness of what was to come.

When the door glided open, frantic paws paced the van floor never exceeding the door seal as each anxiously awaited their turn to be leashed and released. With verbal assurance and the release of his hand, Lt. Col. Dean Owens gave the cue as they accelerated towards the parking lot to embark on a normal exercise routine, yet an aesthetically unique version of troop running.

The network of canines forged ahead and dispersed, instinctively assuming their self-designated slots while Owens kept pace behind their strides. Unified despite their size difference, each dog understood the cadence of its siblings as they pushed full throttle into their much anticipated run.

The crew can often be sighted running at various locations on base or in local neighborhoods, four times a week, drawing admirers and amazed spectators along the routes of their passages.

Owens, 514th Air Mobility Wing chief of wing safety and devout dog-lover, said he enjoys running three to four miles with his dogs to satisfy his love of running while simultaneously maintaining Air Force fitness standards.

Although he may feel exhausted after a long workday, once he straps on his running shoes he's motivated to start and maintains that motivation witnessing the dynamic of his dog pack, he said.

"When I come home at the end of the day and I've got those excited pairs of eyes staring at me, it's hard to deny them a run," said Owens. "Even if I don't feel like running that day, I feel guilty not taking them out because they walk me to the door in the morning and greet me when I return home in the evening."

Owens said he initially started running with one dog, but as he added more to the family it was a natural decision to include each additional dog to the expanding bunch.

Although he said he can't take credit for their ability to stay in sync, he can credit them for encouraging him to maintain high fitness standards and achieve excellent physical training scores on every fit-to-fight test.

"If I keep up with them, I'm able to keep a consistent pace--usually around a 7:30 mile," he said. "It's also fascinating to watch them naturally align so it diverts my focus from being tired."

With more than 28 years of combined active-duty and Reserve time in service, Owens said he has exceeded Air Force fitness standards largely due to routine runs with his dogs, but also due to innate qualities of his thin stature and love of exercising.

"I fully embrace the concept of keeping in good shape as a tenant of our roles as service members," he said. "Running is necessary, but as I get older and the joy of running diminishes, it's more motivation when I look at their expectant faces eager for a run."

Owens' motivators--all rescue dogs, include Lucy, a Jack Russell and Chihuahua mix, Cocoa, a Dachshund, Jake, a Boxer and Great Dane mix, Duke, a German shepherd, and Ivy and Wylie, both Chow and Rottweiler mixes.

Appropriately, Owens said he'd welcome adopting a seventh dog admitting there would be no problem handling another furry family member.

"I'm confident that any dog we take in would jump in and learn the routine" he said. "Each time I'd add a new dog there would be some confusion for the first half mile, but every dog eventually falls into place."

However, taking care of his current brood is a priority for Owens. Taking his roles as owner, alpha dog and friend seriously, he often alters running schedules based on extreme temperatures and monitors each dog's physical condition, he said.

"Chaining your dog and throwing them a bone every now and then does not equate to responsible ownership," he said. "Find an activity to include them in because the relationship between dog and owner is symbiotic so it's mutually beneficial. Luckily, all my dogs share my love of running."

Lt. Col. Dean Owens' tips for running with your dogs:
  • If you don't have a dog, get one. If you have one - get two. If you have two, what is one or two more?  
  • Be a responsible pet owner. 
  • Be mindful of extreme weather conditions when exercising. 
  • Know their physical limitations - they've got aches and pains just like humans. 
  • Running is a great way to bond, but you can also incorporate other activities to ensure their emotional and physical well-being. 
  • Guaranteed way to improve your fit-to-fight scores.

ISAF Air Training Commander Describes ‘Delicate Balance’

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., Sept. 20, 2013 – The commander of NATO’s Air Training Command Afghanistan admits that he has a public perception problem: while polls show Americans have largely dismissed the war in Afghanistan as an effort that’s winding down, his mission is ramping up in size and complexity and in the number of obstacles encountered.

Air Force Brig. Gen. John E. Michel’s command is responsible for training the Afghan air force, or as he puts it, building a minimum, sustainable air capability suited to Afghanistan’s needs, terrain, development and resources.

While visiting here this week to attend an Air Force conference, Michel spoke to American Forces Press Service about the challenges his command faces in ramping up a training mission to last through 2017 as the rest of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force looks to draw down troops by the end of next year.

He acknowledges that to accomplish his mission by December 2017, he’ll need every advantage he can wring from dwindling war funds.

“It’s very easy to lose this in translation, because most people don’t realize [air trainers are] staying [in Afghanistan] until ’17,” he said. “The mindset is, ‘We’re done in ’14,’ and I got that, but the biggest challenge is just where we are in time and space. The story has shifted to another direction.

“Everyone else is leaving, and we’re growing,” he continued. “We’re building an 8,000-person force that can do what they need for Afghanistan -- humanitarian [missions], basic intelligence, troop insertion, resupply [and] casualty evacuation.”

Michel’s coalition aircrews fly alongside their Afghan counterparts during training, combat and joint missions, conducting resupply, troop and passenger movements and casualty evacuation for the Afghan army. Coalition advisors also train in maintenance, logistics, finance and communications.

The Afghan air force is divided into three wings, located respectively in Kabul, Kandahar and Shindand. The command center is in Kabul, and the Shindand Air Base in Herat province is the main training area.

The Afghan air force’s fleet eventually will include 58 Mi-17 transport helicopters, six Mi-35 attack helicopters, 20 C-208 turboprop airliners, four C-130 transport aircraft and 20 A-29 light attack aircraft. The training command staff that will grow in the next few years as Afghan air capabilities come online, Michel emphasized, will shrink as the Afghan force develops its own experts.

“We’ve got to go from 649 to 1,114 people,” he said. That number will plateau for a time, and then gradually decline as Afghan air capabilities are ramped up, brought to sustainment and handed off, the general said.

Michel said the American people are the command’s “stockholders,” along with the coalition nations and the Afghans.

His trainers are “very good stewards of every dollar we spend, every person we bring in,” Michel said. He and his staff use detailed charts that show growing Afghan air mission capability to brief NATO International Security Assistance Force leaders. They demonstrate the progress made and justify future effort, he said.

Fighting for funding is becoming familiar again in military circles, Michel said, noting the importance of what he views as a mission vital to U.S. and Afghan security.

“My goal is, ‘Let’s use data to keep us on the intellectual high ground, instead of being pulled to the emotional low ground,’” he said.

Partner commitment is as important as economic commitment in mission success, the general noted.
“There are things the U.S. Air Force cannot build in an Afghan air force, because those skills aren’t requisite [to American needs],” he said. “Where are we going to get Mi-17 talent? Where’s my Mi-35 talent? Who’s going to turn wrenches?”

American pilots have learned to fly those Russian helicopters, Michel said, and the training command relies on ISAF coalition partners, including Croatia and Italy, to teach the Afghan force how to maintain and support them. But some partners are reluctant to pledge people or funds after the larger national security mission transition wraps up in 2014, he added, partly because of uncertainty over U.S. intentions in Afghanistan.

“There’s a series of concerns, realistically,” he said, listing partner questions about final troop numbers, funding and security concerns. All contribute to an environment in which partner nations postpone commitment, Michel said.

“So we’ve got this very perilous situation setting up that, without the coalition support -- if we don’t get the right people … for the right time frame -- then we’ll have to start de-scaling capabilities,” he added.

Among other metrics, Michel said, the charts his command keeps track growth in the Afghan air force’s overall and detailed capabilities, using a green-yellow-red legend. Given the state of development the Afghan forces have achieved to date, he said, “if we stop [training] today, the only things they could sustain is what’s green.”

Those capabilities all are in the “air movement” category, and about halfway mature there, judging by the green-yellow chart pattern, he said. The yellow areas, he added, “where we are currently improving slowly, would immediately start to diffuse and be unsustainable. And then if it’s red, we haven’t started it yet.”

Red areas on the chart include advanced combat capabilities such as close air support and close air attack, which now are mostly yellow.

Likewise, he said, the air training command is still building infrastructure which will continue through 2015 if current plans hold. It was just last month, he noted, that the Shindand Air Wing Training Complex opened, adding 32 facilities from aircraft hangars to flight simulators to Afghanistan’s training inventory.

“But now there are pressures to potentially reduce infrastructure,” Michel said, noting that a recent report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction drew media and congressional attention when it blasted an unused headquarters building that was built in Helmand for $34 million.

“Every [inspector general] report is killing us,” he said.

The general emphasized that all new Afghan air force facilities will be designed for Afghanistan’s needs and budgeted accordingly. But, he added, “if all of a sudden we change our minds on infrastructure, that significantly impacts our ability to build a sustainable air force.”

Michel and his staff also are preparing for a scaling-back in funding on Kabul’s part; he said the Afghan air force is projected to cost its government between $600 million and $620 million a year after coalition funding support ends.

“Let’s look at their overall defense budget,” he said. “Because of the Chicago accords, it’s fixed at $4.1 billion. So as a percentage, 3.5 percent of the force -- their air force -- is going to, now, absorb as much as 15 to 20 percent of their budget.”

Planning in true military fashion for likely contingencies, Michel said, he and his staff offered to plan force structure options at a number of funding levels for Afghan leaders.

“The smart thing to do is find efficiencies [and] recommend options,” he said.

Synchronizing the systems and subsystems that are working toward a self-sustaining Afghan air force with its own training, command, maintenance and support systems requires a delicate balance, the general said.

“We think [what they can pay for] is the right question,” he said. “Because we can go to the [Afghan] leadership and say, ‘It is affordable, therefore it’s sustainable.’ … They’ve got to steward their own resources when we leave. It’s our job to create the conditions, and advise, and train.”

Joint Task Force-Bravo hosts orphanage visit inb Honduras

by Spc. Ryan Stufflebeem
Joint Task Force-Bravo Joint Security Forces

9/20/2013 - SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- Joint Task Force-Bravo's Joint Security Forces welcomed more than 30 children from a local orphanage to participate in a day of fun and games at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, Sept. 12, 2013.

Members of JTFB-JSF set up stations consisting of basketball, dodge ball, kickball, and soccer for the children of the CasAyuda orphanage. The children rotated through each station to ensure that everyone had a chance to participate in each activity.

"The event and planning took a lot of hard work and dedication, but the rewards of making a difference in the lives of children in an area where they often struggle to survive were worth every bit of work I put into the event," said U.S. Army Cpl. Lance Golay, who served as the overall coordinator for the event.

Following a morning of activities, the children were served pizza and juice for lunch. The children then participated in the day's grand finale, hitting two piñatas, one for the boys and one for the girls.

"These types of events are a core part of serving as a member of Joint Task Force-Bravo," said Golay. ""I believe in the JSF mission here and I am grateful for the outstanding support I received from the other MSC's on base. I could not have done it without their help."

The day ended with the children enjoying dancing to music along with members of JTFB. The children finally departed the base, smiling and waving goodbye to their new friends from JTFB.

A munition's guiding light

by Airman 1st Class Brittain Crolley
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/20/2013 - STUMPY POINT, N.C. -- When employing airpower down range, multiple units must work as a cohesive team to ensure the aircraft is properly equipped to successfully complete its mission.

To train for these missions, aircrew from the 335th and 336th Fighter Squadrons along with joint terminal attack controllers from the 15th Air Support Operations Squadron, at Fort Stewart, Ga., recently teamed up for joint close air support training at the Dare County Bomb Range in Stumpy Point, N.C.

"[The training] allows us to test our capabilities to coordinate with aircraft and provide terminal guidance of munitions on the battlefield," said Staff Sgt. Robert Carrington, 15th ASOS joint terminal attack controller, or JTAC. "It helps us maintain our proficiency and makes us faster and more effective at taking out hostile targets."

Inside the wire and prior to takeoff, maintainers, logistics, munitions and aircrew all must communicate with each other , and outside the wire, ,aircrew members communicate with joint terminal attack controllers on the ground to employ successful airpower, eliminate threats and save lives. In the heat of battle, when time is of the essence, JTACs must be able to direct multiple aircraft, set precise coordinates for targets, and clearly communicate information to aircrew all while under enemy fire.

According to 1st Lt. Nathan Maxton, 15th ASOS air liaison officer, communication during CAS close air support , or CAS, missions is crucial for aircrew and JTACs. Being able to discuss the different perspectives from ground and air allows for a better overall picture of the battlefield and gives ground troops more fire power to get out of perilous dangerous situations.

The training aircrew and JTACs receive during the exercises provides both parties the opportunity to practice multiple combat scenarios that can be translated into real-world situations. It is through constant and rigorous training that aircrew and JTACs gain the confidence and capability to ensure airpower is deployed when and where it is needed.

During these scenarios, JTACs must communicate with multiple aircraft to take out a variety of targets, from hostile buildings to bunkered snipers to mobile ground troops. The aircrew also practices non-lethal tactics, such as a show of force, which requires flying at low altitudes to intimidate the opposing forces.
According to Nadeau , the practice situations give aircrew experience and the ability to handle different missions, such as over watch and convoy escorts, special operations, and troops-in-contact situations.

"The most important thing is when we have a troops-in-contact situation, where the enemy is bearing down on or shooting at our troops," Nadeau said. "It's imperative that we get there as quickly as we can, find out where the enemy is and then suppress them."

On the other end of radio, JTACs have the responsibility of communicating clear and precise commands to successfully direct aircraft to destroy targets during CAS missions.

Since JTACs can be responsible for several aircraft at a time, they use the help of a radio operator, maintainer and driver to spot aircraft and targets and maintain an organized airspace. Although they share the same skill sets, the operator, maintainer and driver are not yet fully qualified, and therefore cannot give the command to finalize the aircraft to drop their ordnance on a target.

However, simply communicating with ground commanders and aircrew is not why the Air Force classifies being a JTAC as a hazardous duty. Making accurate measurements and calculations for coordinates and the blast radiuses of different munitions in time-sensitive and stressful situations can be the difference between eliminating a threat and being one.

Carrington credits the training and mentorship he has received throughout his career for keeping him alive during a recent deployment. His team overtook a hostile building, but the enemy quickly tried to regain it back. Despite being under heavy fire, he said, they were able to maneuver aircraft to drop five, 500-pound bombs and thwart the enemy's retaliation.

"It puts a lot of things in perspective when you've been down range and put your training to work," Carrington said. "You have to be fully ready to handle a lot mentally to get the job done and to keep your team alive."

MC-12W airframe now boasts 'Buddy Lase' capability

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

9/20/2013 - BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Beale Airmen are training to operate a new system which gives the MC-12W Liberty, an unarmed reconnaissance aircraft, the ability to guide a bomb during the last part of its trajectory into a target using laser sensors.

Multiple airframes, as well as Joint Terminal Air Controllers and other ground units already have the capability to target bombs with lasers, but this is a new addition to the MC-12W's expansive intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

"The new capability is extremely valuable," said Maj. Tanner, 489th Reconnaissance Squadron pilot. "This specific capability has been requested by ground force commanders and close air support aircraft downrange."

Tanner and others from the 489th RS and 427th RS are currently deployed to train Liberty aircrews. Once the crews have been certified, the Buddy Lase capability will become operational. It works across services, meaning the Liberty can guide bombs deployed by the U.S. Army and Navy.

The Buddy Lase instructors conducted the majority of their training at Mountain Home Air force Base, Idaho, with the 391st Fighter Squadron and the Idaho Air National Guard's 190th Fighter Squadron.

"We have forged a great relationship with the 391st Fighter Squadron from Mountain Home (Air Force Base, Idaho) and the 190th Fighter Squadron of the Idaho Air National Guard," said Col. Robert Haines, 9th Operations Group commander. "These two squadrons have supported most of our training sorties and have provided valuable feedback to our initial instructors."

According to Haines, the Liberty, has flown more ISR sorties during Operation Enduring Freedom than any other aircraft.

The 391st FS operates F-15E Strike Eagles, and the 190th FS operates A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. Buddy Lase enables a shortened and more precise ordnance delivery from fighters like these. The Liberty's new capability gives the Air Force another accuracy-ensuring tool when dropping bombs, say operators.

"Previously, (MC-12W) Liberty aircrews would determine the target through use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and then pass the information to a joint terminal attack controller for coordination with a strike aircraft," Tanner said. "Buddy Lase allows the MC-12W to provide terminal guidance for laser-guided munitions. This increases the opportunities and timeliness of kinetic support available to the ground force commander."

Buddy Lase will provide valuable assistance during life-or-death situations on the ground. MC-12W aircraft fly directly over the battlefield, enabling aircrews to witness the events with heightened situational awareness.

"The MC-12W has been a valuable asset during our most recent conflicts," said Maj. Michael, 489th RS pilot. "Laser targeting is just one more tool we can use to keep the warriors on the ground safe and to neutralize targets."

"Warfighters have requested this capability to help ensure precise targeting," Haines said. "If the MC-12W is on station prior to kinetic strike platforms, the MC-12W aircrew to develop high situational awareness on both enemy and friendly positions."

According to Master Sgt. Thomas, 427th RS, the MC-12W has proven itself time and again to be a priceless asset downrange by finding and fixing high value targets and providing timely overhead support to friendly forces in harm's way. Using the MC-12W in a Buddy Lase capacity gives additional kinetic options to the warfighter and ensures a greater chance of success during kinetic strikes.

"Buddy Lase is a Tactics Improvement Proposal (TIP) success," Haines said. "The warfighter had a need, and we believed we could provide a capability to fulfill that need. We tested the capability, developed the tactics and syllabus, and are now ready to execute."

[Editor's Note: Last names of some ISR personnel were removed for operational security reasons.]

Military Flood Support Mission Shifts in Colorado

From a Colorado National Guard News Release

CENTENNIAL, Colo., Sept. 20, 2013 – Members of the Colorado National Guard, the Army's 4th Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Carson, Colo., and the Wyoming National Guard are shifting their support of civil authorities in Colorado flood evacuation operations.

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Helicopters and crews of the 4th Infantry Division’s 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, prepare for a ceremonial flyby to mark the end of the unit’s rescue and recovery mission in Boulder, Colo., Sept. 19, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jonathan Thibault

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As the state transitions from emergency response to recovery operations, the number of military forces will drop as civilian resources arrive, officials said.
A total of 555 troops, 20 helicopters, two ground search-and-rescue teams, a search-and-extraction team, an engineering team and 53 traffic-control points are operational.

"Our hearts go out to everyone affected by this tragedy," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Peter J. Byrne, commander of Joint Task Force Centennial and director of the joint staff at the Colorado National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters. "Working directly with flood victims has been both heartbreaking and thoroughly rewarding for our troops, and the outpouring of love and support we've received from our neighbors has been overwhelming."

A team of Colorado National Guard civil and structural engineers is now supporting the Colorado Department of Transportation to assess the safety of roads and bridges in the affected area. All helicopters and crews from the Army's 4th Infantry Division are now staged at Fort Carson. A special Colorado National Guard search-and-extraction team is augmenting Colorado Task Force 1 in a wide-area search.

As of 11 a.m. MDT yesterday, National Guard and active-duty military members had evacuated 3,465 people and 887 pets. Aerial teams had evacuated 2,758 people and 887 pets -- 22 by hoist. Helicopters and crews also transported 39 tons of cargo, including critical food, water and clothing, as well as transportation and engineering supplies.

Colorado National Guardsmen evacuated 707 people by ground, along with a number of animals estimated to be in the hundreds. Two teams are on standby in Boulder. To ensure public safety and to protect property, Colorado National Guard members are manning 67 checkpoints in Boulder County, Larimer County and Weld County. About 175 military vehicles are being used to support missions.

Leaders Honor Missing, Captured Service Members, Families

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2013 – The Defense Department will never stop working to bring captured and missing service members home, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pledged at a Pentagon ceremony today.

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel greets former prisoners of war following a ceremony to remember POWs and service members missing in action at the Pentagon, Sept. 20, 2013. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

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That commitment extends to Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by enemy forces in Afghanistan more than four years ago, Hagel said.

“Our hearts today are with the Bergdahl family. Using our military, intelligence, and diplomatic tools, the United States is continuing its strong efforts to secure Sergeant Bergdahl’s safe release,” he said.

DOD’s commitment to leave no service member behind also extends to the more than 80,000 Americans who remain missing in action, the secretary said.

Hagel noted this year marked the 40th anniversary of Operation Homecoming, when hundreds of American prisoners of war returned to freedom from captivity in Vietnam. Retired Navy Rear Adm. Robert H. Shumaker, in the audience for today’s ceremony, was one of those prisoners, the secretary said.

“He, along with hundreds of other service members and civilians, endured unspeakable cruelty, attempts at political exploitation, and years of confinement,” Hagel said. “But through courage, resilience, and determination, they survived to return home to a grateful nation.”

The secretary said he admires the inner strength that enabled prisoners of war to survive harsh physical and mental abuse at the hands of their captors.

“Americans in uniform today are inspired by the fierce resolve of generations of American POWs,” Hagel said. “We also draw inspiration from the bonds of camaraderie, compassion, and love that prompted our POWs to care for each other, and sustain each other, through terrible, terrible months and years of hardship.”

Such bonds are fundamental to the American military and underpin “who we are and everything we do,” he said. “We protect each other. And we vow to never leave a fellow service member behind.”
Every day, Hagel said, hundreds of DOD staffers, including forensic anthropologists, underwater archeologists and other experts, scour the globe and work in laboratories to identify the missing.
“Since this time last year we have been able to account for 61 service members from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam,” the secretary noted. “Each case represents years of effort -- meticulous work piecing together evidence and clues from across many continents.”

Hagel said he’s deeply aware that many thousands of families are still waiting for a breakthrough.
“Words and promises cannot make the lingering uncertainty and heartache go away,” he said. “But I hope it provides comfort to know that as long as members of our armed forces remain unaccounted for, the Department of Defense will do whatever we can to find them and bring them home.”

Hagel said that as the black-and-white flag honoring America’s prisoners of war and missing in action is raised in communities across America today, “We pledge to live by its creed, ‘You are Not Forgotten.’ We as a country are committed to our former POWs, our missing, and their families, … just as we are committed to those who wear the uniform today.”

The POW/MIA flag is a symbol and a call to action, Dempsey said.

“For wherever our missing lie, wherever a prisoner waits, we will remain committed to freeing them,” he said.

More families deserve closure, the chairman said. “More of those who’ve worn our nation’s cloth deserve to come home,” he added.

Dempsey said the department will not rest or “call our mission complete, until our family is whole again.”

Face of Defense: Airman Describes Military Journey

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Brittain Crolley
4th Fighter Wing

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C., Sept. 20, 2013 – She had a limited English vocabulary that made it difficult to understand and communicate with her instructors. Her family was thousands of miles away, though it felt even farther for her. Nothing came easy.

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After spending the first 27 years of her life in Puerto Rico, earning two college degrees and working as a pharmacy chemist, Senior Airman Yesenia Camacho-Arce joined the Air Force as a nondestructive inspection specialist, but never forgets her Hispanic roots. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 each year and highlights the achievements and

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But after completing eight weeks of Air Force basic military training, there was finally a light at the end of the tunnel.

For Senior Airman Yesenia Camacho-Arce, 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron nondestructive inspection specialist, the support of her family has encouraged her to reach the goals and dreams she has set for herself.

“I was so happy and proud that I made it,” Camacho-Arce said. “It was a very special moment when I graduated and got to see my family again and share it with them.”

Graduating from basic training was just the beginning of her transition into the blue.

Originally from Dorado, Puerto Rico, a small town on the northern coast, Camacho-Arce said her family has a very strong heritage and bond with each other. Puerto Rico has nearly 4 million residents, yet the island is only slightly larger than Delaware, a state with fewer than 1 million residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

With so many people in such a relatively small space, Camacho-Arce said, families and townspeople tend to be very close.

“The biggest difference [between Puerto Rico and the United States] is the people,” she explained. “I am very close with my entire family -- aunts, uncles and cousins. It made it really hard to leave them behind.”

During her last few years in Puerto Rico, Camacho-Acre spent her time earning two degrees from the University of Puerto Rico. She received an associate’s degree to become a pharmacy technician and quickly began putting her skills to work. While working full-time to help support her family, she also went to school to achieve a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial chemistry.

She spent more than a year working as a chemist at a pharmacy before the idea of military life crossed her mind. Her brother, a Navy chief petty officer and one of her role models growing up, influenced her to enlist, she said.

Camacho-Arce said she joined the Air Force in November 2010. As a nondestructive inspection specialist, she is responsible for inspecting jets, munitions and ground vehicles to ensure all moving parts are in working order.

The job is similar to a doctor taking an X-ray of a body to see exactly where the problem is, she explained, and it requires attention to detail. Spotting imperfections, such as wears and cracks, she said, is critical to the aircraft’s operational safety.

In her short time in the Air Force, Camacho-Arce has piled up a list of accomplishments. She earned a below-the-zone promotion to senior airman in June 2012, and was recognized as the Quality Assurance Top Performer later that year.

“She is the first to accomplish a job without anyone having to tell her to start the job,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Cinnamon Linkous, Camacho-Arce’s supervisor. “Her motivation is admirable, and I see a lot of potential in her with her leadership skills.”

With a bachelor’s degree on her résumé, Camacho-Arce originally considered becoming an officer, but she said the timing just wasn’t right. But as much as she enjoys her job now, she added, she’s still considering obtaining a commission in the future.

Regardless of her decision, Camacho-Arce said, her family has always supported her in whatever goals she sets out to accomplish.

“Every day I tell my wife that she is capable of doing anything she wants to, because she is so persistent,” said Evaristo Santiago, her husband of six years. “We are always going to be there for her and be so proud of her.”

Camacho-Arce said she looks forward to continuing to excel as part of the Air Force family.

“I never could have accomplished the things that I have without the support of my husband and family,” she said. “The Air Force has been a big change from my life in Puerto Rico. My family keeps me going, even though it’s hard sometimes, but it has been a great opportunity for us.”

"These things we do that others may live"

by Senior Airman Camilla A Elizeu
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/18/2013 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.,  -- Eight Airmen from Davis Monthan Air Force Base will receive two prestigious military awards Sept. 20, 2013 at the 55th RQS hangar.

Capt. Brian Dicks, Capt. Charles Napier, Master Sgt. William Fritsch and Staff Sgt. Joshua Reid will receive the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal with Valor, while Capt. Ryan Prince, Capt. Patrick Mount, Tech. Sgt. Justin Wilks and Staff Sgt. Jason St John will receive the Air Medal with Valor for their actions during a contingency operation Dec. 10, 2012.

According to the citations, while deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, the 55th RQS members distinguished themselves during a high-risk mission to rescue a four critically wounded coalition soldiers.

During the mission two HH-60G, Pave Hawks, Pedro 61 and Pedro 62,were responding to an evacuation site when both aircraft came under small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades. The plan entailed one aircraft landing while the other maneuvered to engage the threats.

Though two U.S. Army OH-58 Kiowa attack helicopters attempted to engage the threat, they were unsuccessful because they could not positively identify the enemy positions. Pedro 61 and Pedro 62 maneuvered their formation, placing themselves between the enemy and friendly forces.This allowed them to engage the threats themselves, while marking the enemy for the attack helicopters.

Their actions allowed the attack helicopters to destroy the enemy position and give the Pedro crews enough cover to return to the hot landing zone to complete their mission of evacuating the critically wounded. Their actions also protected more than 25 coalition soldiers on the battlefield during this exchange.

Military Well Positioned a Year After Benghazi, Official Says

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2013 – The U.S. response to the deadly attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a year ago would have been faster if military assets now in place to deal with such a crisis had been forward postured and placed on alert status at that time, a senior Defense Department official with responsibility for special operations told Congress yesterday.

Gary Reid, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, told a House Armed Services Committee subcommittee that additional Marine security guards have been dispatched to U.S. missions in high-risk areas, and that the Marine Corps has stood up a security augmentation unit to provide trained detachments available for worldwide deployment on short notice when requested.

“At the request of the Department of State, Marines from these units were sent to eight posts in advance of the Sept. 11 anniversary last week,” Reid said, adding that the deployment reflects a shift in strategy “from simply reacting to crises to proactively addressing potential crises.”

Yesterday’s hearing was held to review changes DOD has made to ensure the military is positioned to respond quickly to threats or attacks like the one on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi a year ago that killed the American ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. In February, Leon E. Panetta, who was defense secretary at the time of the Benghazi attack, told Congress “this was, pure and simple, a problem of distance and time,” in explaining why military assets were not able to provide quick assistance.

Reid was asked to list the most significant changes that have emerged from the lessons learned since the Benghazi attack.

“Putting tailored response forces in closer proximity to the area of a most anticipated need [and] dedicating airlift to those assets,” he replied, adding that he believes significant progress had been made in getting the balance right.

“I want to underscore that we are more ready than ever to respond to a crisis or attack if one occurs without warning,” he added.

A year after the tragic events in Libya, Reid said, the chiefs of mission at U.S. outposts where threat levels are considered high “have our best estimate of response times to inform their decisions about adjustments to staff presence in times of increased security threats.”

In addition, he said, the United States continues to work with forces from less-capable host nations to help them carry out their obligations to protect U.S. missions.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Darryl Roberson, vice director for operations for the Joint Staff, said at the same hearing that some countries that have experienced the Arab Spring, including Libya, are incapable of providing any security for American facilities.

“We are working very hard to try to increase the capacity of the host nations,” said Roberson, who also noted that because of gaps in security, the United States recently withdrew personnel from embassies in several Middle Eastern countries.

Laughlin NCO saves life in Houston

by Senior Airman Scott Saldukas
47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

9/20/2013 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- One Laughlin Airman has lived up to the military's motto of being on duty 24/7.

Nearing the end of his leave in Houston on Sept. 12, Staff Sgt. Robert Niter III, 47th Medical Operations Squadron NCO in charge of optometry, and his girlfriend, Rita, had planned an afternoon trip to the Houston Museum of Natural Science before they realized there would be a slight detour on the way.

On their way to the museum, Niter noticed a man lying on the ground with a crowd of people around him.

"It took a second for things to sink in before I told Rita to turn the car around," Niter said, who hails from Memphis, Tenn. "When we turned around, I had Rita stop the car in the middle of the road where the victim lay on the other side of the road. I sprinted across the street and asked folks what had happened. They stated how the man was jogging, then he sat down with his water bottle and proceeded to pass-out."

After gaining an understanding of what took place, Niter instructed someone to call 9-1-1 immediately before he began to perform CPR.

"I checked for a response and I asked the young man if he was okay, but got no response," the Laughlin NCO said. "I then opened his closed eyelids and saw his eyes were rolled in the back of his head. I checked inside his mouth to ensure nothing was lodged in it and checked if he had a pulse. The gentleman did not have a pulse, he was not breathing, and he was a bluish purple color in the face with cold, clammy and wet skin. I then began administering CPR."

While performing CPR, his girlfriend elevated the feet and loosened the footwear of the downed pedestrian.

Niter explained, as people were beginning to pray for the unconscious man, an older gentleman began to assist him in the CPR process due to fatigue beginning to set in for the airman.

"After about 25 minutes of continuous CPR, the man began gasping for air and elevating his right arm," Niter said. "He opened his eyelids but his eyes were rolling all around. The man began coming back to life after appearing dead for a few minutes. His color was still abnormal, but had improved since arriving."

Approximately 30 minutes after noticing a crowd of people around a man lying down, the emergency medical technicians arrived on scene and took control of the situation.

"We placed the man on a stretcher and into the ambulance where the EMTs continued to perform CPR, hook him up with an IV and use an automated external defibrillator," Niter said. "The patient slowly began to stabilize under the care of the EMTs."

The patient didn't have any identification as he only carried a water bottle and cell phone, Niter said. The EMTs used the patients phone to call the most recent contacts to notify them of what had occurred, he added.

"After speaking with the lead EMT firefighter, he said that without us performing CPR, the guy would have died," Niter said. "Many of the people standing by thanked us for bringing him back. I really just saw myself as a vessel being called on at the right time. It is something any airman or military member would have done in that case."

Even though Niter was lauded by on-lookers and rescue personnel, he said he took something away far greater than recognition.

"Sure it's nice to be recognized," he said, "but it's not about an award or a medal. The feeling of knowing that you saved someone's life is truly an amazing feeling. Knowing that our actions that day prevented someone from dying and gave them another chance."

Niter said since the incident, he was told that the patient had recovered and was stable with no issues.

Crossing borders to cross into the blue

by Airman 1st Class Brittain Crolley
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/19/2013 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- She had a limited English vocabulary, making it difficult to communicate with her instructors. Her family was thousands of miles away. Nothing came easy.
After enduring eight long weeks of Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT), there was finally a light at the end of the tunnel.
For Senior Airman Yesenia Camacho-Arce, 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron nondestructive inspection specialist, the support of her family has encouraged her to reach the goals and dreams she has set for herself and has been her driving force to succeed.

"I was so happy and proud that I made it," she said. "It was a very special moment when I graduated and got to see my family again and share it with them."

Graduating BMT was the highlight of her military career, but that was just the beginning of her transition into the blue.

Originally from Dorado, Puerto Rico, a small town on the northern coast, Camacho-Arce said her family has a very strong heritage and bond with each other. The island of Puerto Rico is home to more than 3.5 million, yet is only slightly larger than the state of Delaware, which has slightly less than 1 million residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

With so many people in such a relatively small space, Camacho-Arce said families and townspeople tend to be very close.

"The biggest difference [between Puerto Rico and the United States] is the people," she explained. "I am very close with my entire family; aunts, uncles and cousins. It made it really hard to leave them behind."

During her last few years in Puerto Rico, Camacho-Acre spent her time earning two degrees from the University of Puerto Rico. She earned a pharmacy technician associate's degree and quickly began putting her skills to work.

While working full-time to help support her family, she enrolled again at The University of Puerto Rico, this time to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial chemistry.
She spent more than a year working as a chemist at a pharmacy before the idea of military life crossed her mind. Her brother, a chief petty officer in the Navy and one of her role models growing up, influenced her to enlist, she said.

Camacho-Arce joined the military in November 2010, opting to join the Air Force rather than the Navy because she was offered a job more suitable to her. As a nondestructive inspection specialist, she is responsible for inspecting jets, munitions and ground vehicles to ensure all moving parts are in working order.

Camacho-Arce said the job is similar to a doctor taking an x-ray of a body to see exactly where the problem is. It requires a sharp mind and attention to detail. Spotting imperfections, such as wears and cracks, are critical to the operational safety of the aircraft and missing them can have catastrophic effects.

In her short time in the Air Force, she has piled up a list of accomplishments. She earned a below-the-zone promotion to senior airman in June 2012, and was recognized as the Quality Assurance Top Performer later that year.

"She is the first to accomplish a job without anyone having to tell her to start the job," said Staff Sgt. Cinnamon Linkous, 4th EMS nondestructive inspection craftsman and Camacho-Arce's supervisor. "Her motivation is admirable and I see a lot of potential in her with her leadership skills."

With a bachelor's degree on her résumé, Camacho-Arce originally considered becoming an officer, but said the timing just wasn't right when she joined. As much as she enjoys her job now, she is still considering commissioning in the future.

Regardless of her decision, she said her family has always supported her in whatever goals she sets out to accomplish.

"Every day I tell my wife that she is capable of doing anything she wants to because she is so persistent," said Evaristo Santiago, her husband of six years. "We are always going to be there for her and be so proud of her."

With a great family support system that has carried her thus far, Camacho-Arce said she looks forward to continuing to excel as part of the Air Force family.

"I never could have accomplished the things that I have without the support of my husband and family," Camacho-Arce said. "The Air Force has been a big change from my life in Puerto Rico. My family keeps me going, even though it's hard sometimes, but it has been a great opportunity for us."

Patient expresses gratitude for lifesaving care 30 years later

by Elaine Sanchez
Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs

9/18/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas  -- An ambulance carrying a critically ill newborn sped across town to Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio.

Every second counted as the military doctors raced to save Jacquelyn Burke's life. A neonatal team hooked her up to a heart-lung bypass machine, dubbed ECMO. Jacquelyn's heart and lungs were failing, and the new technology was the only remaining hope to keep her alive long enough for her lungs to recover. As her parents stood by, the doctors and nurses worked for days in the hopes she'd pull through.

Burke not only survived, she thrived. Nearly 30 years later, she's come forward to share her story -- and gratitude -- for those who saved her life back in April 1986.

"I proudly wear the scars on my neck and chest with honor," she wrote in a recent email. Without them ... I would not be here raising my son. I am very blessed and grateful."

ECMO, which stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, is a heart-lung bypass system that circulates blood through an external artificial lung, oxygenates it, then delivers it back into the bloodstream. It does the job of the patient's heart and lungs and gives them time to respond to treatments and heal, explained Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Daniel Dirnberger, chief of neonatal medicine at San Antonio Military Medical Center here.

It's a proven lifesaver for infants with critical issues such as certain congenital defects , pulmonary hypertension, or, as in the case of Burke, meconium aspiration, which is when a baby inhales fetal meconium either before or during birth.

"With ECMO, we are adding a layer of care and allowing babies more time to recover," Dirnberger said. "In many cases, we're turning less than a 20 percent chance of survival into 80 percent."

The timing of Burke's treatment was fortunate. The hospital had stood up its neonatal ECMO program just one year prior, becoming the 12th of its kind in the country.

"It was new technology at that time," Dirnberger noted. Wilford Hall stood up the first ECMO center in Texas in 1985, and it was the only one in San Antonio when Burke was born. Burke, he added, was just the 10th neonatal ECMO patient at Wilford Hall.

In 2011, the program moved to SAMMC as part of the Base Realignment and Closure directive. It remains the sole neonatal ECMO program in the Department of Defense.

Over the years, more neonatal ECMO centers have been established, but the program here remains one of a few ECMO transport centers in the world. The SAMMC team has picked up and transported infants needing ECMO from around the United States and as far as Spain and Japan. The long-range transports are "tremendous endeavors," Dirnberger said, in some cases requiring two shifts of personnel and 2,000 pounds of equipment.

Dirnberger recalled the military's longest-range ECMO transport out of Wilford Hall in 2000. It was his first day as a staff neonatologist in Okinawa when a baby was born with meconium aspiration. The baby's health spiraled down so they requested an ECMO team for transport. The team arrived 36 hours later, placed her on ECMO and flew her back to San Antonio, where she was successfully treated.

That was the first of six ECMO transports out of Okinawa, Dirnberger said, noting that Wilford Hall and SAMMC have executed a total of 81 neonatal and pediatric global ECMO transports since 1985.

"Some of our most memorable ECMO babies were ECMO transports," he said.

As he spoke, Dirnberger pointed to a framed article about the baby from Okinawa hanging in the NICU hallway, which is lined with dozens of plaques and baby pictures. Each of these plaques, donated by grateful parents, tells a story about a baby who was treated at Wilford Hall or SAMMC. Some are adorned with pictures and others with simple words of gratitude. "Thank you for saving our son's life," one plaque reads. "It's amazing how one miracle can touch so many lives."

While these plaques are greatly appreciated, the doctor said, just knowing he had a hand in a baby's recovery is the only thanks he needs.

"This is why I went into neonatal medicine," he said. "To be involved with any lifesaving procedure ... it's tremendously gratifying."

Burke, who now lives in San Antonio with her 7-year-old son, said her aunt reminded her about her ECMO treatment at a recent lunch, and felt compelled to thank the doctors and nurses who saved her life 27 years ago.

"I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them," she said. "I will always be grateful for what they did."

Former POW: 'Never Give Up'

by Senior Airman Jesse Lopez
97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

9/20/2013 - ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -  -- Altus AFB honored National POW/MIA Recognition Day with the third annual Remembrance Ceremony Sept. 19 at the Wings of Freedom park. This day is observed on the third Friday of September each year to remember those who were prisoners of war and those who are missing in action, as well as their families.

The Warrior 5/6 Council, comprised of non-commissioned officers from the base, organized the event consisting of a firing party, playing of "Taps," a speech from a former POW Marine Sgt. Jack Warner and a twenty-four hour remembrance relay run.

"I think this is essential to upholding military traditions and honoring those that served in the past," said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Noble, Vice President of the Warrior 5/6 Council. "If you look at someone like Warner and the things he went through, he spent three and a half years in captivity. Service members should take every opportunity to recognize the service and sacrifice given to this country by individuals such as Warner."

Warner's account as a POW was among the events in remembrance of those who were imprisoned while serving in conflicts and those who remain missing. He visited the base and shared his experiences with Airman from Altus and provided a message for young service members.

"Don't ever give up," said Warner. "A lot of guys gave up and their life spans weren't very long."

His visit concluded with a base tour and lunch at the base track where the twenty-four hour remembrance relay run was held, using a baton engraved with Warner's name.

"The support from the base for my family and I has been wonderful," said Warner.

On August 10, 1990, the 101st Congress passed U.S. Public Law 101-355, which recognized the POW/MIA flag and designated it as the symbol of the United States' concern and commitment to resolving as the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for

Powered flight program prepares prospective pilots

by Don Branum
Academy Spirit staff writer

9/20/2013 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Four T-53 Kadet aircraft line up on the taxiway leading to Runway 16. Inside each aircraft sits one cadet pilot and one instructor. They're the last group to fly for the day on Sept. 9.

The weather, however, might cut their flights short. Maj. Nanette Menath, the 557th Flying Training Squadron's operations supervisor, warns them of cells forming over the mountains to the west.

"If the weather deteriorates, I'll call you back, either for patterns or for a full stop," she explains. "Fly safe."

One potential future pilot, Cadet 1st Class Joel Cramer, is assigned to fly with Capt. Nolan Thompson.

Monday's flight marks Cramer's seventh. He'll practice touch-and-go passes, bringing the aircraft onto the runway and quickly taking off again, before heading east to one of the Academy's training airspace areas. There, Thompson will lead Cramer through steep maneuvers and stalls and will grade Cramer on how well he controls the airplane. The entire training session will last one hour and 20 minutes, weather permitting.

But first Cramer and Thompson have to get off the ground. The first two T-53s in the queue take off; the third and fourth, including Cramer's aircraft, are told to wait while another aircraft approaches the runway. That aircraft, coming in too high, aborts its landing attempt.

A few minutes later, Cramer and Thompson are airborne. The weather holds, and they land later on without incident.

Thompson, Menath and others assigned to the 557th FTS, part of Air Education and Training Command's 12th Flying Training Wing, lay the groundwork for cadets' careers: Half the Academy's graduates become Air Force pilots, and those who don't will have a background in flight and a greater strategic understanding of how the Air Force projects global reach and global power. The program provides unique leadership opportunities and character development, said Col. Kim Hawthorne, the Academy's Airmanship Program director.

"Our graduates consistently tell us that their airmanship experiences while at the Academy significantly developed their character and leadership, and prepared them to serve as Air Force leaders," Hawthorne said. "As the Air Force's Academy, it is essential that we expose and motivate all cadets to aviation operations and airmindedness -- the lens through which Airmen perceive warfare."

From her perspective as the operations director, Menath sees this first hand when dealing with the cadets in the program.

"This motivates the cadets," Menath said. "They get a lot out of it. Overall, they really enjoy this program, but more importantly they gain experience and character development through the opportunities presented by the program."

Officials: Fort Hood Lessons May Have Saved Lives at Navy Yard

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2013 – Of 89 recommendations that came from two reviews of the 2009 shooting that killed 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas, 52 are fully implemented, and some may have helped to save lives during the Navy Yard shooting here Sept. 16, senior defense officials said.

The officials, who briefed reporters here this week, were unable to discuss the ongoing investigation involving a civilian contractor, 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, who killed 12 people and wounded several others at the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters building before being killed by police.

But they did discuss results of the Defense Department’s 2010 independent review of events at Fort Hood and final recommendations from that review, and of a 2012 Defense Science Board review sought by DOD to look deeper into the motivations of Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist, and other potential violent actors.

“In the area of response, there are a few very specific things that I believe helped save lives as a result and led to a faster response time [and] greater cooperation between local law enforcement with the FBI and in terms of warning people … on the Navy Yard at the time,” a senior defense official said.

Specifically, he added, as a result of one of the DOD recommendations, the department is using a North American telephone network feature called enhanced 911, or E-911, to push out alert notices during emergencies on DOD installations.

Because of some of the recommendations, the official said, guards have received training for scenarios in which they must respond to emergencies involving an active shooter or shooters, and there are new information-sharing agreements between the FBI and local law enforcement agencies that allow military-civilian collaboration.

“There are two examples of how we've increased information sharing,” the official said. First, “the Department of Defense and the FBI signed a memorandum of understanding by which if either organization has information about a threat to or from DOD personnel, we are obligated to share with each other.”

The senior defense official said that’s important because DOD persons and installations are a prime target of what's called homegrown violent extremism.

For those wanting to commit acts of violence, DOD people and facilities often are the target, he added, “so it matters to us when FBI has an operational case that they share information about threats that might be around a particular location or base.”

Second, he said, the Defense Department now has people working in a significant number of FBI-led joint terrorism task forces, giving DOD personnel insight into and awareness of FBI cases and how they may be relevant to DOD safety and security.

“I think we're in a significantly better place,” the official said. “Obviously we're not there fully, based on Monday's events, but there has been a lot of progress.”

After the Fort Hood incident, he added, then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates established an independent review of events that produced an August 2010 report and 79 recommendations to improve the ability to identify patterns that might lead to violence and to safety and security on installations.

One of the recommendations was to ask the Defense Science Board to look for useful indicators of warning in individuals who might be prone to acts of violence, the official said, adding that the board’s task force provided 10 recommendations of its own, for a total of 89 recommendations from reviews of the Fort Hood incident.

About 52 of the recommendations have been adopted and fully implemented, he said, and the vast majority of the remaining recommendations have been agreed to. Most are in various stages of implementation, he added.

The defense official said that some of the remaining tasks have to do with a Defense Science Board recommendation that the defense secretary direct a departmentwide requirement for the military departments and DOD agencies to establish a multidisciplinary threat management unit that identifies, assesses and responds to or manages threats of targeted violence.

“The kinds of things we're wrestling with right now [are], ‘How tailored do they have to be? Should there be one unique to the Navy, one to the Army, one to the Marines, one to the Air Force? Do you have something at headquarters?” he said.

And DOD officials are still working through some of the privacy issues involved in sharing information, he said.

“When an individual is assigned to one base and events and incidents that might happen at a base don't rise to the level of criminality -- because for criminal cases there's a pre-existing system by which that information is captured permanently -- and here someone could be going through a difficult period of life, and it could be a one-time incident,” he explained.

“We’re trying to make sure we have a system by which we are appropriately protecting [people] but providing information to the experts who need to know it,” the official said.

Such details, he added, “are difficult and important things for our military families.”

In March, the official said, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued an instruction directing rapid completion of the remaining tasks. “So this is something that's been very much on his mind as well,” he added.

This week, before a news conference with Pentagon reporters, Hagel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed condolences to the families and coworkers of the 12 Navy employees gunned down at the Navy Yard.

Hagel said he’s asked Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter to lead two departmentwide reviews. The first will examine physical security and access procedures at all DOD installations.

In the second, Carter will look at DOD practices and procedures for granting and renewing security clearances, including those held by contractors. He will coordinate with officials at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of Management and Budget, Hagel said.

The secretary also has directed an independent panel to conduct its own assessment of security at DOD facilities and of the department’s security clearance procedures and practices.

Proclamation Honors Reserve Component Employers’ Support

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2013 – To honor employers who support their employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserves, President Barack Obama today signed a proclamation declaring Sept. 22-28 as National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week.

Here is the text of the president’s proclamation:

Across generations, members of the United States Armed Forces have made America the greatest force for freedom and security the world has ever known. This week, we honor members of the National Guard and Reserve who carry that legacy forward. We thank the employers who support them; and we reaffirm our promise to provide our troops, our veterans, and our military families with the opportunities they have earned.

The men and women of the National Guard and Reserve come from every background, race, and creed, and demonstrate an unfaltering commitment to our Nation. On the field of battle and here at home, they place themselves in harm's way to protect our freedoms, our lives, and our communities. We are grateful to the employers that provide our Reservists and National Guard members extraordinary support and flexibility. We commend the businesses that help service members advance their civilian careers and ease transitions between military and civilian life.

America must pledge our full support to those who serve in our Armed Forces and their families. That is why First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched the Joining Forces initiative -- a program that expands employment opportunities for veterans and military spouses. My Administration has also worked to connect veterans to the workforce through an online Veterans Job Bank and through the Veteran Gold Card program, which provide enhanced services to post-9/11 veterans. I also signed into law tax credits that provide incentives for businesses to hire returning heroes and wounded warriors.

The patriots who serve under our proud flag never lose that sense of service to one another or to country. This week, we pay tribute to these selfless men and women who wear the uniform, to their families, and to their dedicated employers, whose enduring commitment keeps our military strong and our Nation secure.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 22 through September 28, 2013, as National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week. I call upon all Americans to join me in expressing our heartfelt thanks to the members of the National Guard and Reserve and their civilian employers. I also call on State and local officials, private organizations, and all military commanders, to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.


460th SW members embrace new inspection system

by Staff Sgt. Paul Labbe
460th Space Wing Public Affairs

9/20/2013 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --  -- With the recent implementation of the new inspection system, 460th Space Wing members are taking the reins to self-evaluate and strive for success.

In the past, senior leaders would notify a base in advance of an upcoming operational readiness inspection. This notification would allow the base to prepare and become compliant in operations they may not have kept current prior to the inspection. When an inspection was conducted, senior leaders from the major command level would evaluate various exercise scenarios to determine the effectiveness of base operations.

After a rating was given to the base from these evaluations, the base commander would typically either praise his base's performance or work to fix any deficiencies found. Because of this cycle, a base would spend vast amounts of time getting ready for an inspection.

"There is data that shows that the Air Force was spending one full time year out of five on nothing but inspections," said Larry Tunnicliff, 460th SW inspector general.

The new inspection system contains various components and changes to the old inspection system that will help commanders highlight and correct discrepancies on their base throughout the year rather than on a major cyclical inspection schedule.

One of the initial changes is getting rid of the old ORIs and switching to the unit effectiveness inspections. Instead of inspections every two years based on the old system, bases now conduct continuous evaluations. The responsibility of making sure a unit is compliant has become an everyday occurrence and a part of everyone's primary duties.

"With the old system it was very much like taking a photo snapshot, while the new Air Force Inspection System is like creating a lasting photo album," Tunnicliff said.

Additionally, various systems already in place are being overhauled - with a new name, a new program or a few changes to existing procedures within a current program.

One minor change is the exercise evaluation team, which was previously an additional-duty function overseen by the wing plans and programs office, is now known as the wing inspection team and falls under the base inspector general.

Other changes include the addition of the Management Internal Control Toolset, MICT; Inspector General Evaluation Management System, IGEMS; and Commander's Inspection Management Board, CIMB; as well as an overhaul of the Commander's Inspection Program, or CCIP.

With the guidance of the base IG office, each program will be implemented and used cohesively to create an easier overall inspection process.

The use of MICT, which is a computer database that contains unit-specific checklists and is used Air Force wide, will help track the findings of discrepancies that may have been disregarded or undetected during past inspections. Discrepancies will be easily viewed and corrected by senior leaders or a delegated authority.

According to Tunnicliff, the MICT program aims at empowering wing commanders to run their own inspection program with the goal to make inspections a non-event and gives senior leaders the opportunity to log in and get a visual snapshot of the status of their units.

One step ahead of MICT, 460th SW members will have to get used to another new program implanted in the new AFIS - IGEMS. This program will track findings associated with discrepancies found in MICT checklists, but the findings may not necessarily warrant inputting a discrepancy in MICT. That's when IGEMS becomes necessary.

IGEMS is an unclassified web-based software program serving as an inspection tool comprising planning, executing, reporting and corrective action management.

For example, if during an evaluation on self-aid and buddy care two individuals fail to react correctly, it can lead to an IGEMS write-up. Within MICT, the unit may be complaint because they conducted necessary training required by the checklist; however, a 460th SW IG member will likely place those write ups in IGEMS to initiate a more focused evaluation to determine why these individuals didn't respond appropriately.

Another addition to the new AFIS is the CIMB made up of 460th SW commanders. Their main focus is to review the status of all open inspection items, to include progress and updates on corrective action plans; estimated close-out dates; mitigating circumstances; recommendations for closure, if warranted; and external assistance required.
Lastly, members of the 460th SW will adapt to the overhaul of the CCIP.

The focus of CCIP is to ensure the wing commander knows all he needs to know to assess risk, identify areas of improvement, determine root cause and efficiently apply resources where most needed. This process is completed by the IG office and the wing inspection team. The WIT coordinates with IG to create and conduct base exercises to discover and evaluate discrepancies across the 460th SW. After the findings are properly identified, they are then presented to the commander to be discussed during the CIMB.

The 460th SW, with guidance from the inspector general office, has significant change to adapt to, but base entities are coming together to become compliant with Air Force standards and ensure it stays that way.

Team Buckley CGOs dedicate time to honor Air Force

by Senior Airman Phillip Houk
460th Space Wing Public Affairs

9/19/2013 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- A group of company grade officers have worked to organize an Air Force Tradition - the Air Force Ball.

This year's ball will commemorate the 66th birthday of the Air Force and has been eight months in planning.

"The Air Force Ball is an event that allows us to celebrate, encourage comradely, and increase morale," said 1st Lt. Tyrone Martinez, 566th Intelligence Squadron mission manager and Buckley Air Force Ball Committee president. "You are being invited by the wing commander of Buckley Air Force Base to celebrate the birthday of the Air Force."
As with every celebration a lot of planning goes into a successful execution, and this year is no different.

"Well over 150 hours to date has gone into the planning of this event," Martinez said. "It is hard work but someone has to do it."

The Buckley Air Force Ball committee, led by members of the company grade officers committee, has more than 15 members in varying positions of responsibility.

"I devote at least four to five hours each week," said 2nd Lt. David Coyle, 566th IS intelligence officer and ticket sales lead. "I am responsible for organizing, getting the word out and working with different units points of contact across base concerning ticket sales.

"I first got involved after the committee got started and offered help wherever it was needed," he said.

The planning process for the Air Force Ball has taught those involved valuable skills for their Air Force career.

"There is a lot that we get from our operational roles that allow us to do well planning for this kind of event," Coyle said. "The skills involved whether you are selling tickets or leading operationally, remain the same. You are still directing and motivating people.

"When you get involved with an event like this you will not only draw upon your experience as a leader, but also build on your experience," he added.

For more information or tickets, contact your unit's Air Force Ball representative. Tickets for the Air Force Ball will be on sale until Sept. 23.

Upgrade gives B-52 more teeth

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

9/20/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The B-52 Stratofortress is set to receive an upgrade that will significantly increase its weapons payload.

The initial 1760 Internal Weapons Bay Upgrade (IWBU) will allow the B-52 to house up to eight advanced precision-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions in its internal weapons bay, in addition to the 12 it can currently carry on exterior weapons pylons.

"It will increase the B-52's overall carrying capacity by 67 percent," Alan Williams, B-52 Deputy Program Element Monitor at Air Force Global Strike Command, said.

The 1760 IWBU is based on rewiring the existing B-52 launcher into a Common Rotary Launcher, which carries the munitions and is housed in the B-52's bomb bay. The rewiring allows the B-52 to communicate with the newest weapons in the Air Force's arsenal.

"Military Standard 1760 is the technical name," Williams said. "It determines how the wiring will be laid out and what signals will go through them. It's similar to your home's internet connection; you need a specific type of wiring to access the signal and a software agreement as to what those signals will be. Without that correct type of wiring and the software agreement, your computer can't talk to the internet."

While the B-52 has long been able to carry JDAMs and other cutting-edge weapons from that family, on an exterior pylon under each wing, the interior weapons bay was not equipped to communicate with those types of munitions.

"The system uses a digital interface," Williams said. "Then there's a software piece called a storage management overlay, or SMO. We currently have the SMO that can talk to the weapons on the wing. With the new wiring in place, we're now going to be able to change the software to also allow for communication with those weapons in the bomb bay."

The addition of the 1760 wiring in the internal weapons bay also lays the groundwork for future expansion to other advanced weapons.

"By having 1760 in the bay, it allows us to upgrade the aircraft," Williams said. "As new J-Series weapons come onboard, all we have to do is rewrite the software and add those weapons to the aircraft inventory. For instance, increment 1.2 will add the JASSM-Extended Range missile and the MALD-J missile into the complement in the bay," Williams said, adding that these missiles will bring greater mission flexibility to the B-52.

A contract for Engineering and Manufacturing Development, or EMD, has been awarded to Boeing to develop and produce six of these upgrades by April 2016. After those have been installed and tested, a new contract will be awarded for procurement of an additional 38 units.

All 1760 IWBUs should be online by October 2017, Williams said. With them, each B-52 will bring much more firepower to the fight.

"Now instead of three aircraft carrying 36 weapons, we can have two aircraft carrying 40 weapons," Williams said. "That lowers your number of crews for a mission, and lowers your fuel requirement, or it gives you the option to be able to put more weapons on target with the same number of aircraft. It will make us more efficient and more responsive to the warfighter."