Military News

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Face of Defense: All-Army Wrestler Sets Sights on Olympics

By Army Sgt. Tamika Dillard
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division

FORT RILEY, Kan., Sept. 24, 2013 – Army Capt. William “Billy” Simpson learned from an early age to never give up on his dreams. With that always on his mind, his dream to become a soldier and a world-class wrestler is now a reality.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Capt. William “Billy” Simpson, a field artillery officer with 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, competed in his first Armed Forces Freestyle Wrestling Tournament, March 16-17, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. Simpson along with his teammates was awarded the Armed Forces Freestyle Wrestling Championship. Simpson also named the 2013 All-Army Freestyle Champion. U.S. Army photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Simpson, a field artillery officer with 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division was recently accepted into the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program. He will receive the support and training to compete and succeed in national and international competitions including the Olympic Games, while maintaining a professional military career and promoting the U.S. Army to the world.

Simpson worked toward this his whole life.

“My dad was a wrestling coach,” Simpson, a native of Belleview, Tenn., said. “He made sure my brothers and I could wrestle by the time we could walk. Every time we would play a game or a sport around the house, it always turned into a wrestling match.”

As Simpson got older, his love for wrestling grew -- to the point he begged his father to let him compete.

“When my brother reached the age where he could wrestle, my father became his coach,” he said. “I would be there for every match, just screaming and yelling for him. Afterwards I would ask my dad how much longer I had until I could wrestle.”

Finally the day came when Simpson took part in his first competition.
“I was in the sixth grade when I had my first match,” he said. “I went into the match more experienced and so I had much success. The thrill, excitement and full body exhaustion from my first match set the stage for me … from that point on, I knew I wanted to do this as long as I could.”

Simpson continued to wrestle through junior high and high school with the goal of one day becoming an elite freestyle wrestler, but he had an even bigger dream in mind: becoming a soldier.

“When my big brother said he was joining the military, I was excited,” he said. “On top of that, he received a wrestling scholarship from West Point. After witnessing this, I knew what my plans were going to be.”

Simpson was accepted into the United States Military Academy Preparatory School at West Point in 2004 on a wrestling scholarship. After finishing West Point Prep in 2005 he went on to graduate from West Point in 2009.

Simpson competed in more than 80 matches during his time at the military academy, but one match sticks out.

“My most unforgettable fight was during my sophomore year at West Point, he said. “I entered into the New York State Tournament as an unranked competitor but I made it to the finals where I was to wrestle the No. 10 ranked wrestler in the country.”

Simpson described the final minutes of the match, in which he was considered a major underdog.
“I knew I was going to have to give it my all, plus more, to beat this guy,” he said. “At about 30 seconds left in the match, I realized we were tied but I was on top of him. I decided to risk the competition by letting him up in the hopes of bringing him back down before the clock ran out.”
The match went down to the wire.

“We were going back and forth until we went out of bounds with eight seconds left on the clock,” Simpson said. “When we came back in the circle, I took him down at the last second and won the match.”

Simpson was named the outstanding wrestler of that tournament, but more success was ahead.
Upon graduating from West Point as a field artillery officer in 2009, Simpson received orders for the 1st Bn., 7th F.A. Regt., 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf. Div. He deployed November 2010 for a yearlong mission to Baghdad, Iraq, in support of Operation New Dawn.

A year after returning from deployment, Simpson decided he was ready to start wrestling again.
“I was a little bit hesitant at first but I spoke with my battery commander in October 2012 about competing again,” Simpson said. “I expressed to him how I have been dreaming for an opportunity like this. Before I could blink he turned to me and asked me if I felt I had a chance at winning it and I quickly replied, ‘Yes, I do.’”

With the support of his battery commander, Capt. Ritchie Rhodes Jr., and his battalion commander, Lt. Col. John Mountford, Simpson applied and was accepted to the 2013 All-Army Freestyle Wrestling Team. He eventually walked away as the 2013 All-Army Freestyle Wrestling Champion.

After competing and winning the All-Army title, Simpson asked his chain of command if he could apply to join the World Class Athlete Program.

“Capt. Simpson came to me and mentioned that he wanted to take his wrestling career to the next level,” Rhodes said. “He told me he wanted to pursue the WCAP program and so we filled out a list of pros and cons to fully evaluate the opportunity.”

The solution did not immediately present itself.

“When we compiled the list and it came out 50/50 split, the only two questions I had left for Simpson to answer were quite simple: ‘Would you regret passing on this opportunity when you get older’ and ‘Would you tell your grandkids?’”

The answer to both questions? Yes.

Immediately after receiving notification of his acceptance into the program, Simpson received permanent orders to the WCAP unit at Fort Carson, Colo., until 2016. Through Army funding, he will receive the best-possible coaching, access to training venues, and state-of-the-art sports medicine. He will also participate in top national and international competitions including the Olympic Games and national governing body amateur championships.

Simpson said the opportunity would not have been possible without the support of his chain of command. For their support, he will continue to represent “First Lightning” by wearing the battalion T-shirts as much as he can.

“There is no greater opportunity than to be able to do what I love,” Simpson said. “The Army has given me the opportunity to remain a soldier all while training to be a professional wrestler and hopefully represent them in the Olympics.”

First unmanned QF-16 flight takes place

by 2nd Lt. Andrea Valencia
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


9/24/2013 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.  -- The QF-16 full scale aerial target's inaugural unmanned flight occurred Sept. 19.

The 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron and Boeing Co. conducted the flight, which is the first step in a two year process to phase out the QF-4 full scale aerial target.

"The QF-4 did a good job for many years, but it's time to turn the page in the aerial target program. This program will bring us into the 4th generation aircraft," said Lt. Col. Ryan Inman, 82nd ATRS commander. "And will provide us with a mission capable, very sustainable aerial target to take us into the next 10 to 20 years."

A pilot performed all normal preflight checks before climbing out of the cockpit and locking the canopy from the outside. Control was then turned over to Thomas Mudge, 82nd ATRS pilot controller, sitting in a control room on the opposite side of base. The QF-16 took off at 3 p.m. for an hour long mission profile including take off, conducting a series of simulated maneuvers and reaching supersonic speeds before returning to base and landing.

"The flight itself went very well," said Mudge. "Its performance and abilities are great and we're looking forward to this airplane."

The first QF-16 was delivered to Tyndall in November 2012 for operational and developmental testing to ensure their viability for aerial targets. The QF-16 is a supersonic reusable full-scale aerial target modified from an F16 Fighting Falcon. The emergence of U.S. 5th generation fighters such as the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning means American forces need an advanced target, similar to what they would actually find on the battle field.

"It takes it to the next generation, which now provides the shooters an aircraft that is completely a replication of current real world situations," said Inman. "The new targets will allow the Air Force and allied nations to have a realistic understanding of what they could face."

With successful testing at Tyndall complete, the targets will be now move to Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., to begin testing on an air-to-ground system. They will be part of live-fire testing before being sent back to Tyndall for operation.

The 82nd ATRS is part of the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group, which falls under the 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base. The unit operates the Department of Defense's only full-scale aerial target program, which provides Air Force, Navy, Marine and Army customers targets for developmental and operational tests.

Grissom takes flight in Bold Quest to improve battlefield communication

by Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner
434th ARW Public Affairs


9/24/2013 - GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- By definition, a bold quest is a courageous pursuit of a valued objective, and to many servicemembers no objective could be more valued than solid battlefield communication.

Grissom Airmen endeavored upon such a pursuit to improve military communications during Bold Quest 13.2 by taking flight to refuel coalition aircraft as well as provide logistical support for a NATO E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft here Sept. 4-24.

Bold Quest is a coalition capability demonstration and assessment series held on a recurring basis. Among the technologies being demonstrated in BQ 13.2 were various types of radios, tactical data links and network equipment used to support joint fires, joint terminal attack control, personnel recovery and other missions.

"Bold Quest is an exercise that tests coordination and identification systems between airborne assets and ground troops," said Lt. Col. Edward J. Dieringer Jr., 434th Operations Support Squadron plans officer, who spearheaded Grissom's involvement in the BQ exercise.

"(We) try to get all systems to talk the same language," explained German Air Force Capt. Martin Vogt, an AWACS fighter locator. "It's not going to happen, but what you need to do is find out where you have commonalities, where you can exchange that data and where you need to improvise."

Joining U.S. military and civilian members from the four military service branches were those from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

The majority of BQ 13.2 was held at and over Camp Atterbury - Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex, Ind., convening warfighters, developers and analysts in a unique, problem-solving environment.

A 434th Air Refueling Wing KC-135R Stratotanker and E-3A flew out of Grissom while fighter aircraft, such as French Air Force Mirage 2000Ds, U.S. Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt IIs, U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets and U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers, flew out of the 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Grissom's refueling operations extended the flight times of the French fighters just as they would in a real-world operation, allowing for a longer and more thorough testing and assessment of new systems, said Dieringer.

The AWACS was described by Vogt as a command post in the air that acts as a medium between headquarters and the troops on the ground. He said their mission during BQ 13.2 was to both supplement other coalition military force assets as well as experiment with communicating to those forces with a new internet protocol communication system.

"We have a IP (communications) upgrade that we'd like to test out here, where we are trying to get an IP connection into the NATO AWACS," the captain continued. "We need to make sure we can communicate with everybody on the battlefield, and IP connection, nowadays, is the media to go to to do that."

Communicating their enthusiasm, Grissom's aviators said they were excited to be a part of the joint and coalition exercise.

"This is really an awesome experience because it not only helps us keep our positive relationships with other countries, it makes sure we can operate as one team," said 1st Lt. Jason Bireley, a 72nd Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 pilot who flew during BQ 13.2 to refuel French Mirages.

And, Bireley said, operating as one joint and coalition team in an exercise environment is important because that is how real-world operations take place on the modern battlefield.

"This exercise helps iron out our flaws and gives people and heads-up as to what goes on out there in the real world," added the lieutenant, who has served since 2002 as both a KC-135 crew chief and in-flight refueling specialist before becoming a pilot.

Vogt agreed, stating that interoperability and compatibility will be key to future mission success.

"In the future it's always going to be a multi-nation operation, so you're going to have all these systems that are not normally designed to be compatible, and you want to get them to have a certain compatibility, so that you can exchange data between the different nations, between the different systems," he added.

With Grissom's piece of BQ 13.2 now complete, coalition participants can now reflect on the experience.

"This year's exercise has been successful on many levels," said Dieringer. "(We look forward to seeing) the new systems deployed with troops around the world."

To see that fully come to fruition, Vogt said there is still work to be done, but BQ 13.2 definitely set the coalition partners on the right path for success.

"People are going to go away from here saying, 'yeah, we know what we need to do, we know what we need to fix to get this thing working,'" he said.

Grissom is home to the 434th Air Refueling Wing, the largest KC-135R unit in the Air Force Reserve Command, as well as three Army Reserve units and a Marine Corps communications detachment.

Obama Urges UN to Confront Syrian Violence, Chemical Weapons

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2013 – While the world has made strides toward stability, the situation in Syria illustrates the dangers of current trends to the Middle East and the rest of the globe, President Barack Obama told world leaders at the United Nations today.

Obama spoke to the General Assembly meeting in New York this morning, giving a synopsis of the situation in Syria and how the United Nations must work to end the violence that has killed more than 100,000 people.

The Syrian civil war has escalated with the government using chemical weapons on its own people. “The international community recognized the stakes early on, but our response has not matched the scale of the challenge,” the president said. “Aid cannot keep pace with the suffering of the wounded and displaced. A peace process is stillborn.”

The crisis in Syria goes to the heart of broader challenges the international community must confront, Obama said. From North Africa to Central Asia, there is turmoil and getting these nations through this time peacefully is the challenge.

With respect to Syria, the international community “must enforce the ban on chemical weapons,” the president said.

“The evidence is overwhelming that the Assad regime used such weapons on August 21st,” Obama said. “U.N. inspectors gave a clear accounting that advanced rockets fired large quantities of sarin gas at civilians. These rockets were fired from a regime-controlled neighborhood, and landed in opposition neighborhoods. It’s an insult to human reason -- and to the legitimacy of this institution -- to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack.”

Obama initially considered launching a limited U.S. military strike against Syrian regime targets, but the United States now is testing a diplomatic solution.

“In the past several weeks, the United States, Russia and our allies have reached an agreement to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control, and then to destroy them,” Obama said.
The Syrian government has now begun accounting for its stockpiles.

“Now there must be a strong Security Council resolution to verify that the Assad regime is keeping its commitments, and there must be consequences if they fail to do so,” Obama said. “If we cannot agree even on this, then it will show that the United Nations is incapable of enforcing the most basic of international laws.

“On the other hand, if we succeed,” he continued, “it will send a powerful message that the use of chemical weapons has no place in the 21st century, and that this body means what it says.”
If diplomacy works, it could energize a larger diplomatic effort to reach a political settlement within Syria.

“I do not believe that military action -- by those within Syria, or by external powers -- can achieve a lasting peace,” Obama said. “Nor do I believe that America or any nation should determine who will lead Syria; that is for the Syrian people to decide. Nevertheless, a leader who slaughtered his citizens and gassed children to death cannot regain the legitimacy to lead a badly fractured country. The notion that Syria can somehow return to a pre-war status quo is a fantasy.”

Obama stated that Russia and Iran must realize that insisting on Bashir al-Assad’s continued rule in Syria will lead directly to the outcome that they fear: an increasingly violent space for extremists to operate.

“In turn, those of us who continue to support the moderate opposition must persuade them that the Syrian people cannot afford a collapse of state institutions, and that a political settlement cannot be reached without addressing the legitimate fears and concerns of Alawites and other minorities,” he said.

The United States is committed to working the diplomatic track, the president said, and he urged all nations to help bring about a peaceful resolution of Syria’s civil war.

He asked U.N. members to step forward to help alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. The United States has committed more than $1 billion to this effort, and he announced the United States will donate a further $340 million.

“No aid can take the place of a political resolution that gives the Syrian people the chance to rebuild their country, but it can help desperate people to survive,” he said.

Culture, language and negotiation experts participate at Army conference

by Jodi L. Jordan
Air Force Culture and Language Center


9/24/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --  -- Five culture, language and negotiation experts from the Air Force were special guests of the U.S. Army last week, offering expertise to the premier gathering of armor and infantry soldiers for the 2013 Maneuver Warfighter Conference at Fort Benning, Ga.

Faculty from the Air Force Culture and Language Center and Air Force Negotiation Center of Excellence here traveled to Fort Benning Sept. 12 to serve as panel members during the Regional Expertise and Cultural Integration Working Group, attended by nearly 200 soldiers, including service members from nine other nations. The conference was hosted by the Army's Maneuver Center of Excellence, the largest training organization in the Department of Defense.

Topics addressed in the working group included how the Army could integrate and sustain language, regional and cultural expertise, to include cross-cultural negotiations, throughout professional military education. Also discussed was how to deliver cultural training without increasing soldiers' current course loads. These topics are non-negotiable for today's soldier, according to the lead organizer of the conference.

"In today's environment, not understanding regional and cultural expertise is not an option," said Lt. Col. Trevor Robichaux, as he introduced the AFCLC panelists. "We're trying to institutionalize this here at the MCoE. Teaching soldiers how to be able to operate in any environment - a skill set that transcends any one individual culture."

AFCLC participants were Dr. Stefan Eisen, director of the Air Force NCE; Dr. Will Dulaney, AFCLC assistant professor of organizational communication; Dr. Lauren Mackenzie, AFCLC assistant professor of cross-cultural communication; Dr. Jennifer Tucker, AFCLC professor of assessment; and Zach Hickman, AFCLC Language Division chief.

Eisen, who coordinated the AFCLC's participation, said the event was a great example of pooling geographic resources to facilitate partnerships across services.

"The MCoE reached out to their Army liaison at the Air War College to see if there was in-house expertise to support the Regional Expertise and Cultural Integration Working Group, " Eisen said. "From there, we assembled a representative group that could tell the story of how the Air Force approaches what we call 'LRCN,' or language, region, culture and negotiations. Each of these components supports the concept of an adaptive Airman, able to quickly assess environment and appropriately operate to achieve mutual mission success. At the MCoE conference, we were afforded the opportunity to share our experiences with institutionalizing cross-cultural competence in the U.S. Air Force, but we also gained useful insights on the Army's approach to these concepts."

Kosovo Campaign Medal Shifts to Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2013 – The Defense Department has announced the transition of the Kosovo Campaign Medal to the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, effective Jan. 1, 2014.

In a Sept. 19 memorandum, Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Jessica L. Wright stated that the KCM recognized the significant contributions of U.S. military personnel in support of Operation Joint Guardian since 1999 as part of the NATO-led Kosovo Force.

“The contributions of U.S. military personnel have been integral to ending open hostilities and to reducing ethnic tensions, allowing for the dramatic reduction of force levels over the past decade,” Wright noted.

As smaller contingencies of U.S. forces continue to support Operation Joint Guardian and NATO headquarters in Sarajevo, the AFEM will accordingly recognize that support of operations in the Balkans, the memo states.

The AFEM area of eligibility mirrors that of the KCM, Wright explained, with the addition of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Hungary. The eligible area also encompasses Serbian land and airspace including Vojvodina, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, and U.S. Naval vessels operating in the Adriatic Sea.

The Department of Defense Manual 1348.33, Volume 2, “Manual of Military Decorations and Awards” contains specific eligibility criteria.

Obama Describes Core US Interests in the Middle East

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2013 – In a speech at the United Nations today, President Barack Obama described key United States’ interests in North Africa and the Middle East and made clear America is prepared to use force to back them up.

“The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the region,” Obama told the General Assembly in New York.

The nation, he said, will confront external aggression against allies and partners in the region.

“We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world,” Obama said. While the United States is reducing its oil imports, the world still depends on Middle Eastern oil and gas. A severe disruption could destabilize the global economy.

“We will dismantle terrorist networks that threaten our people,” the president said. “Wherever possible, we will build the capacity of our partners, respect the sovereignty of nations, and work to address the root causes of terror. But when it is necessary to defend the United States against terrorist attack, we will take direct action.”

And, the United States will not tolerate the development or use of weapons of mass destruction. “Just as we consider the use of chemical weapons in Syria to be a threat to our own national security, we reject the development of nuclear weapons that could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region, and undermine the global nonproliferation regime,” Obama said.

It is in U.S. interests to see a peaceful, prosperous, stable and democratic Middle East, Obama said, but the United States cannot force this.

“We can rarely achieve these objectives through unilateral American action, particularly through military action,” he said. “Iraq shows us that democracy cannot simply be imposed by force. Rather, these objectives are best achieved when we partner with the international community and with the countries and peoples of the region.”

The president illustrated the U.S. position using Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the Arab-Israeli conflict as examples.

“While these issues are not the cause of all the region’s problems, they have been a major source of instability for far too long, and resolving them can help serve as a foundation for a broader peace,” Obama said.

The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic relations since 1979. Mistrust between the two nations has developed over the years.

“This mistrust has deep roots,” the president said. “Iranians have long complained of a history of U.S. interference in their affairs and of America’s role in overthrowing an Iranian government during the Cold War. On the other hand, Americans see an Iranian government that has declared the United States an enemy and directly -- or through proxies -- taken American hostages, killed U.S. troops and civilians, and threatened our ally Israel with destruction.”

Resolving the issue of Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons could go a long way toward an improved relationship between the two countries, Obama said.

The United States is resolved to not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. “We are not seeking regime change and we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy,” the president said. “Instead, we insist that the Iranian government meet its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and U.N. Security Council resolutions.”

On the Iranian side, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and new Iranian President Hasan Rouhani has just recently reiterated that the Islamic Republic will never develop a nuclear weapon.

“These statements made by our respective governments should offer the basis for a meaningful agreement,” Obama said. “We should be able to achieve a resolution that respects the rights of the Iranian people, while giving the world confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful. But to succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable. After all, it's the Iranian government’s choices that have led to the comprehensive sanctions that are currently in place. And this is not simply an issue between the United States and Iran.”

The president has directed Secretary of State John Kerry to pursue this effort with the Iranian government in close cooperation with the European Union, Russia and China.

The conflict between the Palestinians and Israel is also a flashpoint that needs to be dampened, the president said. “I’ve made it clear that the United States will never compromise our commitment to Israel’s security, nor our support for its existence as a Jewish state,” he said.

The United States also remains committed to the belief that the Palestinian people have a right to live with security and dignity in their own sovereign state, he said.

Now is the time for the entire international community to get behind the pursuit of peace in the area, Obama said. Israeli and Palestinian leaders are meeting. Current talks are focused on final status issues of borders and security, refugees and Jerusalem.

“So now the rest of us must be willing to take risks as well,” the president said. “Friends of Israel, including the United States, must recognize that Israel’s security as a Jewish and democratic state depends upon the realization of a Palestinian state, and we should say so clearly. Arab states, and those who supported the Palestinians, must recognize that stability will only be served through a two-state solution and a secure Israel.”

The nations of the world must recognize that peace will be a powerful tool to defeat extremists throughout the region, and embolden those who are prepared to build a better future, Obama said.
Real breakthroughs on the Iranian nuclear program and Palestinian-Israeli peace would have a profound and positive impact on the entire Middle East and North Africa, the president said.

“But the current convulsions arising out of the Arab Spring remind us that a just and lasting peace cannot be measured only by agreements between nations,” he said. “It must also be measured by our ability to resolve conflict and promote justice within nations. And by that measure, it’s clear that all of us have a lot more work to do.”

Austin: Understanding Region Vital to Addressing Centcom Challenges

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2013 – Take a look at the globe, and one would be hard pressed to come up with a region as dynamic and unpredictable as the U.S. Central Command area of operations -- but also as vital to U.S. national security interests.

“The Middle East is an incredibly complex, dynamic and volatile area,” said Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, who assumed command in March with responsibility for overseeing U.S. military operations in most of the Middle East as well as Southwest Asia.

“It is also one of the most strategically important regions of the world and one that merits our focus and attention and continued efforts,” Austin said.

Complicating those efforts, he told American Forces Press Service via an email interview, is a laundry list of conflicts and other situations that he acknowledged present “significant challenges.”

Amidst this volatility, Austin and the Centcom staff must remain postured to respond to military crises, if required, while at the same time working in tandem with regional partners and U.S. diplomats to carry out U.S. strategy in the region.

This dual-pronged approach requires a clear-eyed recognition of not only activities causing instability in the region, but also their underlying causes.

“Key to addressing them effectively is understanding what is driving the behavior,” Austin said. “The fact is, there are a number of underlying currents that are causing much of the violence and discord.”

Among them is a growing ethno-sectarian divide that, if it continues on its current path, Austin warned “could result in a decade-long conflict that stretches from Beirut to Damascus to Baghdad to Bahrain.”
Meanwhile, the struggle continues between radical Islamists and moderates in Egypt and other parts of the region.

“We are also witnessing a rejection of oppressive governments and corruption, primarily through populist movements characteristic of the Arab Spring,” he said.

Austin identified another current, referred to as the “youth bulge.” Almost 65 percent of the region’s population is under age 30, and many are frustrated by a perceived lack of opportunity.

“The growing population of educated, yet largely unemployed and idle young people is choosing to express general dissatisfaction through social uprisings and other forms of violence,” Austin said.
The Arab Awakening exemplifies what can happen when these factors converge.

Austin said he is amazed that the Arab Spring began with a Tunisian vegetable merchant self-immolated in protest and, with the power of social media, has spread throughout the Middle East.

“Many thought early on that the Arab Spring represented a march toward democracy,” he said. “We now realize that’s not the case. In most instances, it represents a desire for representative government and rejection of authoritarian rule and corruption.”

In many ways, social media and the Internet have opened people’s eyes to opportunities elsewhere in the world not available to them, Austin said.

“Their protests have also shown to have a significant and speedy impact,” he said. “They are proving even more effective than the ballot box in many instances.”

That’s exactly what has happened in Egypt. Dissatisfied with the government of Mohamed Morsi, elected president in June 2012, Egyptians took to the streets and demanded change. Morsi was forced from power in July.

“Unfortunately, the situation deteriorated into violence and circumstances have made it increasingly difficult for all involved to achieve peaceful reconciliation,” Austin said. “Ultimately, the hope is that the interim government and the Egyptian armed forces will work together to attain stability, adopt a new constitution and elect a government representative of all parties.”

This resolution is important not just to Egypt but to the United States and its partners in the region, Austin said. He noted Egypt’s longstanding peace treaty with Israel and its ownership of the Suez Canal.

“Egypt is an important and influential ally, and we need them to remain as stable as possible,” he said. “We have long enjoyed a strong military-to-military relationship, and I firmly believe we need to do all that we can to maintain that relationship in order to help shape outcomes for the future.”

Working with their counterparts across the U.S. interagency and regional partners, Austin said he and his staff are committed to helping defuse situations that, if not addressed, could have a destabilizing impact on the entire region and beyond.

“We are taking the necessary steps to help address the immediate conflicts, outbreaks of violence and growing tensions that exist throughout the region,” he said. “However, our ultimate goal is to ensure that we help set the right conditions to achieve positive and lasting change for the future.

“And, to do so effectively,” he continued, “we must understand what forces or core influences are generating the tensions that are behind the violence and conflicts that we’re seeing erupt with increased frequency in this most important part of the world.”

Reservist protects her country with two careers

by Master Sgt. Kelly Ogden
12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs


9/24/2013 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB, Ariz.  -- Most of the time you'll find Yvette Orellana serving as a federal police officer for the U.S. Forest Service in Santa Barbara, Calif., patrolling in her squad car, writing tickets, protecting natural resources, as well as serving her local community as a mentor to teens heading down the wrong path.

One might assume that in her offtime in federal law enforcement, she'd enjoy a quieter life reading books, walking alongside the beach or just enjoying a slower pace. Nothing could be further from the truth. In her "down-time," she trades in her police uniform for camouflage and serves as an anti-terrorism officer for 12th Air Force (Air component to U.S. Southern Command, or AFSOUTH).

"In a traditional security forces squadron I belong to a unit and would serve as either a team leader or a fire team leader," Orellana said. "Here the job is totally different, you aren't just protecting the base - you're in charge of all of the security for Department of Defense personnel in our area of responsibility (AOR)."

Tech. Sgt. Yvette Orellana, who has served in the U.S. Air Force for 11 years as both active-duty and an individual mobilization augmentee (IMA) in the security forces career field, has had several deployments and assignments that have taken her all over the world.She views her current position in the 12th AF (AFSOUTH) Force Protection Office as the best assignment to date.
Orellana says that as an Airman she didn't get to see behind the scenes and didn't always understand the operational and tactical direction she was given Time here at AFSOUTH, has opened up her eyes to the level of time, effort, and operational planning that goes into making every mission and exercise a success, she says.

For Orellana, operating as traditional squadron-level security forces versus working at the Numbered Air Force (NAF) was like night and day. The most difficult part of her job is getting people to realize that there are dangers in their environment, and practicing operational security (OPSEC) at all times.

"We do things that are for other people's own good, but they don't always see that until something bad happens," she says. "We have the responsibility of making sure everyone follows regulations and policy for equipment storage, weapons accountability and equipment accountability because if it gets stolen it falls on us."

During a recent deployment in support of New Horizons Belize, Orellana deployed for fourmonths as the anti-terrorism officer for several medical readiness training exercises where she assessed vulnerabilities on all of the schools, hospitals, hotels and restaurants, coordinated and supervised more than 50 Belizean Defence Force members. She says her favorite part of the deployment was interacting with the locals and learning their culture.

Having a father from Guatemala and being able to speak fluent Spanish assisted Orellana in removing some of the culture divided between U.S. service members and their partner nations in Central America, South America and the Caribbean. She said she was better able to create partnerships and long-lasting friendships despite the fact that male-dominated military structures in central and south America were not accustomed to working with females.

"It's a double-edged sword because some of the countries we visit have very male dominated militaries and by my position, I often have to interact with their higher echelon leaders," Orellana says. "The U.S. is very diverse in the fact that a man and woman can do the same job, and I think that we are kind of showing these other countries that if given the opportunity, a woman can succeed in any position."

5 mobility school courses held at once

by Staff Sgt. Amber R. Kelly-Herard
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs


9/24/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- With the right combination of people and places, the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Mobility Operations School, Detachment 2, here, held five courses at the same time simultaneously.

The schoolhouse offers 17 different curriculums to support the Air Mobility Command mission, but they had never held more than four courses congruently.

When Airmen come to a Mobility Air Forces Global Command and Control position, they go to the detachment first.

The purpose of the school house, which was established Dec. 1, 2005, is to provide the skills and knowledge to be integrated into the air mobility enterprise.

"AMC brings America to the fight - whether it be a rescue or humanitarian mission, we move the people and equipment to support the war effort," said Rudy Becker, U.S. Air Force EC Mobility Operations School director. "This school trains the people on the ground."

The five courses held include: the Global Mobility Air Operations Core Course, Global Mobility Air and Space Operations Executive Course, AMC Command Post Manager Course, Air Mobility Liaison Officer Qualification Course and the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst-based Advance Air Mobility Operations Course.

The Global Mobility Air Operations Course is an eight-day course for everyone assigned to the 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center).

"This is our bread and butter," said Lt. Col. Christopher Fuller, Detachment 2's commander. "We graduate on average 210 students a year. Students range from colonels to Airmen new to the Tanker Airlift Control Center and AMC mission."

After the GMAOC, most students will attend a Global Mobility Air Operation Track which is more job-specific.

The Global Mobility Air and Space Operations Executive Course is a two-day course for senior leaders assigned to 618th AOC.

The AMC Command Post Manager Course is an introduction to the responsibilities of being a command post manager. To add to the detachment's success, recently the AMC Command Post Manager Course became the Command Post Manager Course for the Air Force.

"The functional manager sits through every course we hold. Access to the AMC Staff and functional managers is another benefit of the school being located at Scott." said Fuller, a Miami, Fla., native.

The Air Mobility Liaison Officer Qualification Course is a five-week course for MAF officers preparing to become air mobility liaisons in a joint environment.

Lastly, the Advance Air Mobility Operations Course, which is based out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., was also held. AAMOC enhances understanding of the Air Force's air mobility capability, including how air mobility forces are organized, employed and executed to support joint mission objectives.

"We mirror the mission environment when we train so our students leave the class confident," said Becker, a Huntington, Conn., native.

New Book Provides Resilience, Mental Health Resources

From a Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences News Release

BETHESDA, Md., Sept. 23, 2013 – The Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences here has just published a new book titled, “Disaster, Disease and Distress: Resources to Promote Psychological Health and Resilience in Military and Civilian Communities.”

Available for free download on the center’s website, the book is a compilation of fact sheets and educational resources developed over a 10-year period that address important health and mental health issues of service members and their families impacted by deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, officials said.

The resources are geared toward civilian communities around the globe affected by natural and human-made disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes and incidents of community violence, officials added.

Experts in the fields of military and disaster psychiatry developed the fact sheets, many in the immediate aftermath of specific incidents, officials said, and many address health and mental health issues related to the risks of suicide.

The book features four sections:
-- Caring for our Nation’s Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines: The Role of Medical and Social Service Providers;
-- Military Family Health;
-- Disaster Preparedness and Response; and
-- Special Populations.

Dr. Robert J. Ursano, director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, said officials hope the book will have enduring value.

“Because many of the signature wounds of war -- visible and invisible -- persist and will affect individuals and families over time, and because natural disasters and public health threats endure, we believe these fact sheets will be useful and valuable to many audiences in the public and private sector for many years to come,” he said.

Muddy mavens: Reservists run dirty for a cause

by Senior Airman Meredith Thomas
315 Airlift Wing Public Affairs


9/22/2013 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Several members of the 315th Airlift Wing here joined forces and braved boot-camp style obstacles, biting insects and lots and lots of mud during Charleston's inaugural Dirty Girl Mud Run at Legare Farms on Johns Island Sept. 14.

Dirty Girl partners with Bright Pink - an organization dedicated to finding a cure for breast cancer - started the mud run to educate women on the risk factors and warning signs of breast and ovarian cancer.

In addition to educating women, Dirty Girl plans on donating more than $250,000 toward cancer research in 2013, according the organization's website.

Organizers of the women's-only 5K touted the experience as an untimed, non-competitive exercise in teamwork and perseverance. Participants of all fitness levels were encouraged to tackle obstacles like the "utopian tubes" tunnel crawl and the "PMS (Pretty Muddy Stuff)" mud pit.

Senior Master Sgt. Karla Rose, 315th Force Support Squadron superintendent here, saw the event as the perfect opportunity to have a great time but also show solidarity and support for cancer survivors and women currently battling the disease.

"Initially it just sounded like fun," Rose said. "But then I looked at the date and realized it was on Lisa Sweatt's birthday. She's a multiple-time cancer survivor so it just seemed right."

Rose assembled a team of 12 "Mudruckers" including Sweatt and seven reservists to tackle the 3.1-mile course.

Sweatt - the chief of Family Support with the wing - ran the race free of charge thanks to the Dirty Girl organizers who offer free registration to any cancer survivor looking to take to the mud.

Others on the team ran in honor of someone close to them who had struggled with a cancer diagnosis.

Master Sgt. Barbara Sosebee, 315th Mission Support Group career advisor, fought through a knee injury to complete the course for her friend who is currently receiving cancer treatments.

"I just prayed the night before that I would have the strength to make it through," Sosebee said. "She's in physical therapy right now to learn how to the walk to the mailbox, walk to the bathroom. I figured if she could do that, then I could do this run with a messed up leg."

Sosebee, despite spending the previous week on crutches, only had to forgo one obstacle, a military-style low crawl under a wall, due to the help of her teammates.

"It was difficult but we got each other through it," said Sosebee. "I really enjoyed the spirit of our team. We were all in it together and that's the way we are with everything."

In the end, the "Mudruckers" headed toward the finish line linked arm-in-arm and took part in one final, celebratory mud bath.

"We started as a team and we finished as a team and we laughed the whole way," said Rose.