Military News

Friday, September 27, 2013

Resilient Airmen rally during Storytellers II

by Staff Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


9/26/2013 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo.  -- Years of marriage spent apart, abusive relationships, banishment from family - these are the stories of Airmen who stood before their wingmen during the Storytellers II breakfast Sept. 19 at Whiteman Air Force Base.

Storytellers events around the Air Force started after a prompting question from senior leadership: "Every Airman has a story. What's yours?"

Storytellers acts as a platform from which Airmen and dependents who have overcome difficulties in their lives can share their tales of resiliency.

"It takes incredible bravery for them to stand on stage without hesitation and share the hardships they have gone through," said U.S. Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) Kenneth Johnson from the 509th Bomb Wing while addressing the audience. "The stories are meant to inspire you and inspire hope, as well as to encourage you to share the knowledge and advice you learn here with others."

This time around, the event featured the stories of four Airmen and one dependent who all went through challenging times in their lives but came out more resilient when all was said and done.

One of the Storytellers, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Pamela Field from the 509th Maintenance Group, dealt with a string of abusive relationships before joining the Air Force. After enlisting, though, the trouble did not cease.

"The reason I tell my story is because some people don't know what a healthy relationship looks like," Field said. "They might think they can't do better because they've heard all their lives how horrible they are. They might be trapped physically, emotionally or financially, but still think they can endure everything.

"There is so much more than physical pain that comes with being in an abusive relationship," she added. "It changes who you are. But with the bad things come resiliency and forgiveness. More important than forgiving them is forgiving yourself for things you don't have control over. You have to surround yourself with positive people who make you feel good."

This sentiment was echoed by many of the speakers - in the end, having someone there for them helped them heal. But the victory of getting to that point was often hard-won.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Maurice Ingram from the 509th BW Equal Opportunity Office shared his story of overcoming depression. In 2004, he became overwhelmed while juggling everything expected of him personally and professionally while simultaneously managing his terminally ill mother's care even though they were geographically separated.

"The situation was tough on everyone, but everyone was looking to me for hope," Ingram said. "I was an NCO, a dad, a minister. I might have looked together on the outside, but I was dead inside. I didn't even realize I was depressed. I made it to work on time and I had money in my bank account, but there were not enough extracurricular activities or work in my ministry to lift me up out of that."

Also present at the event were resources available to help attendees who might also be going through tough times, including a chaplain, a mental health representative and a victim's advocate.

Overall, Storytellers is not just an opportunity for Airmen to share their stories, it provides a unique chance to find strength in shared experiences and community in the Air Force family.

Military Health Chief Discusses Suicide Prevention Efforts

Military Health System

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2013 – In a statement issued today, Dr. Jonathan Woodson, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and director of the TRICARE Management Activity, urged the military community to stand together with national and worldwide organizations to prevent suicide. September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month.

Dr. Woodson’s statement reads as follows:

The Military Health System joined with others in the Defense Department and national and worldwide organizations this month in bringing attention to one of our most preventable public health issues -- suicide.

Suicides have increased in recent years around the world, in the United States, and among our armed forces.

More than one million people worldwide died from suicide last year -- more than those killed by homicides and war combined, according to The International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organization, which co-sponsor World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10. More than 34,000 Americans took their own lives last year, surpassing the number who died in vehicle accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While attention to suicides has focused on young people, the rate of those between the ages of 35 and 64 who killed themselves grew by 30 percent between 1999 and 2010, the CDC reported.

Our service members are not immune. While the suicide rate has traditionally been lower for the military ranks than for civilians, that trend has begun to reverse. The number of suicides among our 1.4 million active-duty troops remains relatively low by comparison, at 350 last year. Still, the number has more than doubled since 2001 and even one is too many.

We’ve learned much about suicide in recent years. We know there are clear risk factors, including substance abuse, depression and other mental health related causes, at least one of which is present in 90 percent of suicide victims, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. We also know that financial and relationship problems play a role.

Among our service members, we know that half of those who died by suicide in recent years never served in Iraq or Afghanistan. But we also know that war trauma weighs heavily on those who did.
Most importantly, we know that suicide is preventable. We in military health, like those across the department, are working to spread awareness of suicide risk factors, reduce the stigma of treatment and educate our military community about the many ways to get help.

One of the most important things we can do is to promote the department’s Military Crisis Line. If you or a loved one are experiencing a crisis, do not hesitate to call 1 (800) 273-8255, and press 1 to speak to a trained counselor. Put the number in your cellphone. Share it through social networking. A caring professional is there to listen 24/7.

The military has hundreds of initiatives aimed at preventing suicide, and the Defense Suicide Prevention Office currently is streamlining them to promote the best programs and practices. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are actions that we can and are taking to ensure that everyone is aware of what can be done.

Our services have adopted programs to build resilience and instill the skills to manage life’s challenges and bounce back from adversity. We’ve increased the number of mental health providers in our network to some 60,000 professionals. We are training our leaders at all levels to recognize who is at risk and respond to their needs. And, we are working to reduce the stigma so that asking for help is considered a sign of strength and not a sign of weakness. Let me be clear: asking for help for yourself, a loved one, those around you or a battle buddy is a sign of strength.

We must stand together as a community to fight suicide. Because suicides often are impulsive, the importance of being vigilant cannot be overemphasized. The key is recognizing when others are at risk and in crisis -- and not being afraid to step in. Our job as military health care providers, paraprofessionals, and members of the DOD community at large is to have the courage to intervene.

91st MW conducts successful Simulated Electronic Launch

by 1st Lt. Jose R. Davis
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs


9/26/2013 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The 91st Missile Wing successfully completed a Simulated Electronic Launch - Minuteman, or SELM, operational test, meeting all test objectives, Sept. 17 to 18.

A SELM is the most complete test of the operational capability of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.

The tests occur while the ICBMs are in their deployed locations out in the prairies of North Dakota. No actual missiles are ever launched.

The tests are meant to reinforce the confidence in the continued operation of the Minuteman III force. The SELM tests the people and equipment from the initial "on alert" transmission to the simulated first stage ignition.

SELM tests differ from ICBM test launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., known as Operational Test Launches, in that SELM tests the ICBMs in their deployed environment without actually launching.

Both OTL and SELM tests are overseen by the 576th Flight Test Squadron out of Vandenberg AFB, which is involved from the initial planning stages up to the completion of the final report.

In addition to verifying the weapons system and its associated infrastructure, SELM also verifies the procedures in the Launch Control Center, ensuring that the missile launch officers are proficient in executing their mission.

"Providing a safe and secure deterrent force is our mission," said Col. Robert J. Vercher, commander of the 91st Missile Wing. "So naturally we want to execute and train hard."

SELM reinforces Air Force Global Strike Command's and Minot AFB's commitment to providing a safe, secure and effective nuclear arsenal.

The SELM test conducted by the 91st MW was concluded Sept. 18. The weapon system is presently in the process of being restored back to its operational configuration.

Face of Defense: Deployed Airmen Provide Morale-lifting Mail

By Air Force Senior Airman Bahja J. Jones
379th Air Expeditionary Wing

SOUTHWEST ASIA, Sept. 27, 2013 – Nothing can compare to the feeling a deployed service member gets when he or she receives a care package from a loved one back home.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Staff Sgt. Eugene Dolor seals a bag of outgoing mail at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia, Sept. 17, 2013. The post offices here receive anywhere from 500 to 1,500 pieces of incoming and outgoing mail each day. Dolor is a postal specialist deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. He hails from Virginia Beach, Va. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bahja J. Jones
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
But packages don’t just appear out of thin air at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing here -- it takes a team of postal services airmen working every day to ensure all mail items get to the right place.

“Whether you are saying hello, getting goodies from home, sending Christmas gifts, seeing pictures of your baby for the first time or simply paying a bill -- mail makes that happen,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Scott Boucher, the 379th Expeditionary Communications Squadron’s postal affairs noncommissioned officer-in-charge who’s deployed from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., and hails from Salem, Mass.

With the largest mail volume in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility, the two post offices here receive anywhere from 500 to 1,500 packages of incoming and outgoing mail, while serving an average of 75 customers each day, Boucher said.

“Another thing that makes this post office different is we are open seven days a week,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Eugene Dolor, a 379th ECS postal specialist deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and a Virginia Beach, Va., native.

In their customer service role, postal clerks help make the shipping process as easy as possible, ensuring all items meet the required specifications prior to being shipped and the customs screening is seamless.

“We are required to inspect every single parcel and look for items unable to be shipped,” Dolor said.

Each day, postal services airmen procure the mail for the base populace.

“We are one of the very few locations that have a mail control activity [airman] who goes to the airport every night to pick up mail,” Boucher said.

During that time, the MCA also drops off the outgoing mail items for shipment and the new mail items are brought to the installation for processing.

“As soon as the incoming truck arrives, we unload and scan the parcels,” Dolor explained. “From there, we divide the mail by the unit it belongs to. Unit mail clerks come through the next day to pick up and disperse [the mail] to the individuals within their respective sections.”

Holiday seasons are especially busy for the post offices here as the mail volume can double or even triple in size, Boucher said. To alleviate the impact, the post offices enlist the help of volunteers to assist with the nightly sorting process.

“Volunteering is important because it gives people a chance to be a part of something so crucial,” Boucher said. “Not to mention there aren’t too many jobs in the Air Force where others can help out; you don’t see the ‘regular Joe’ helping civil engineers build walls or charge heating ventilation air conditioning systems.”

The hard work of the postal services airmen and the continued support of volunteers helps to keep the flow of what Boucher noted is the most important function of the post offices here.

“Delivering morale,” he said. “And keeping our military, Department of Defense employees, and contractor brothers and sisters from all branches of the military, to include other nations, connected with their families.”

Airmen train, dream of making Air Force-level teams

by Senior Airman Daniel Hughes
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


9/27/2013 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.  -- An approved Air Force form 303 can launch the athletic career of an aspiring Airman- athlete and lead to a slot on official Air Force teams.

Larry Bridges, Nellis' Warrior Fitness Center sports director reviews these athletic resumes and helps choose elite athletes who will receive dedicated training, and possibly represent every Airman during national competitions.

"Not every Airmen who submits [the AF Form 303] makes it," Bridges said, "But every once in a while, I get the chance to see a tremendous athlete. Nellis [AFB] has great Airmen and great athletes."

Bridges notes the potential for an Airman who runs track to have a great chance of making the Air Force team and possibly making the U.S. Olympic team. He also recognizes the skill of a basketball player who executed a successful windmill dunk at a team U.S.A. basketball game at the Thomas and Mack Center, University of Las Vegas, July 25 in front of spectators and professional players, who is trying out for the Air Force basketball team.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Yarbrough Bloomfield III, 99th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle dispatcher, can run a 100-meter dash in 10.1 seconds and is training to do it for the Air Force track and field team.

"I've been running my whole life," Bloomfield said. "I was fast as a [child] and everyone always picked me because of my speed. My cousins used to set up races for me with [children] on the block, and I would literally have [children] that I didn't even know get mad at me before I raced them because of how much my cousins talked me up."

Bloomfield, who hails from the small town of Canton, Miss., said he feelt like he wasn't supposed to make it out of there.

"There are gangs, drugs, and education isn't a priority," Bloomfield said. "You don't make it out and succeed."

Bloomfield's drive comes from remembering where he came from and aspiring to reach his dream of joining the Air Force team and participating on the U.S. Olympic team.

Bloomfield uses Air Force facilities, training five days a week for about three-to-four hours a day at the Warrior Fitness Center.

"When the day comes when I tryout, I want to be proud of my effort," Bloomfield said. "I don't care if I come in last with a broken leg. I will cross that finish line, and I will give everything I have."

"From what I have seen, Bloomfield is a special talent," Bridges said. "I hope he does well and is able represents Nellis [at the Air Force level]."

Senior Airman Nathaniel Mills, 99th Security Forces Squadron patrolman traces his passion for basketball to watching the Chicago Bulls in 1995 with his father. He saw his father's reactions to the big dunks of Michael Jordan, and he wanted to be able to do the same thing.

"From that day on I played ball, whether it be beautiful outside or raining, sleeting [or] snowing," Mills said. "I didn't care; I just wanted to play. I wanted to be better."

In high school, Mills just wanted to touch the rim, and during his sophomore year, he did just that. The following year, he had a growth spurt and was able to dunk.

"It was during a game and [another] player tossed me a pass, and I dunked it," Mills said. "I knew it was a little dunk, but at the time, I felt like Jordan."

When Mills joined the Air Force, he wasn't going to put basketball on the back burner, but his obligation was to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. So he would always try to practice and play when he was off duty, but that commitment would be tested when he got orders for a deployment.

"When I was deployed, I was upset because my daughter was just born, and I felt I had missed the first milestones of her life," Mills said. "I had to go, so I did my job the best I could. Where I was had a basketball hoop, so I made a promise to myself. Every night that I was off duty, I would shoot 400 shots and practice dribbling."

He figured if he practiced when he got back, he would be able to try out for the Air Force team and found different ways to increase his skills.

"I found old chairs, pieces of wood and I would make defenders out of them," Mills said.

Mills received a call from the coaches of the Air Force basketball team a couple days after the USA Basketball game at the Thomas and Mack Center asking if he was going to try out for the team this year.

"[I told the Air Force Basketball coaches] it is a goal of mine to play for the team," Mills said. "Being able to play at a very competitive level and represent the Air Force would be an honor I wouldn't take lightly."

The road these two Airmen have traveled to try out for Air Force teams have been different. The hurdles are high for both because of low acceptance rates
"Gold medals aren't really made of gold," said Dan Gable, retired wrestling Olympic Gold Medalist. "They're made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts."

B-1 conducts first live-fire test of anti-ship missile

by Senior Airman Charles V. Rivezzo
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


9/27/2013 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- A B-1B Lancer successfully struck a waterborne target with a live warhead for the first time Aug. 27.

The 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron completed their first of three scheduled live-fire tests of a Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, or LRASM, on-board a B-1.

The mission sought to evaluate the separation of the missile from the aircraft and monitor the weapon's flight path to its intended target. Assessment tracked and documented the missile's in-flight data with an F/A-18 Hornet.

Designed and developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Office of Naval Research, the LRASM is based off the Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range, or JASSM-ER, and was constructed as part of an effort to overcome challenges faced by current anti-ship missiles penetrating sophisticated enemy air defense systems.

Armed with a 1,000-pound penetrator and blast-fragmentation warhead, LRASM employs a multi-mode sensor, weapon data link and an enhanced digital anti-jam Global Positioning System to detect and destroy specific targets within a group of ships.

According to 337th TES officials, the anti-ship missile is intended for rapid transition to the Air Force and Navy. Because the LRASM is based on the JASSM-ER airframe, it can be transitioned to the B-1, allowing DARPA to add the new technology and create a usable anti-ship missile.

The test squadron's current LRASM project officer, Capt. Alicia Datzman commented that they are currently working in parallel with the weapon that may be operational within a few short years.

One unique technological feature specific to the LRASM that DARPA wishes to exploit and integrate into the new JASSM-ER variant, is the missile's ability to receive target or coordinate updates while in-flight.

"Unlike the JASSMs fire and forget mentality, this new technology gives you the chance to fire and change your mind," said Maj. Shane Garner, 337th TES. "Because of the standoff feature these weapons possess, they tend to be airborne for some time, and for us to be able to change their coordinates in-flight provides us with a large-range of flexibility."

At this time, the B-1 is the only aircraft currently testing the anti-ship missile.

Should the LRASM technology be fielded installed in the JASSM-ER missile, the B-1 presents itself as the most likely platform to carry the weapon, as it is currently capable of carrying 24 of the long-range missiles the highest capacity in the Air Force.

"We can not only carry more of this weapon than any other platform, but our versatile speeds that have proven useful in the past decade in Afghanistan will also prove useful in the vast maritime environment," Datzman said. "With our loitering and refueling capability we can hang out for a while waiting on a specific target set or sprint to where we need to deliver these weapons."

The overarching concept behind the B-1's rise in the maritime environment can be attributed to the Department of Defense's Air-Sea Battle concept, in which long-range bombers serve as a key tenet.

The new concept should guide the four branches of the armed forces as they work together to maintain continued U.S. advantage against the global proliferation of advanced military technologies and anti-access/area denial capabilities.

The 337th TES is scheduled to complete the remainder of their live-fire tests by the end of 2013.

DOD honors top employers of Guard, Reserve members

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
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Such support is critical to the nation's security, said Jessica L. Wright, the acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, who attended the award ceremony.

Wright said the event was a "monumental night" to formally honor the 15 recipients with the coveted Secretary of Defense Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Freedom Award.

"Your energy and support for the warriors is enormous, and it is clearly appreciated," Wright told the employers, who represented public- and private-sector companies and organizations from across the country.

In a memo, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Guardsmen and reservists could not uphold their military duties "without supportive, helpful and encouraging employers and communities back home."
Hagel continued, "By doing more than is expected, these organizations serve as models for employers and communities nationwide. Their accomplishments are an important reminder that supporting citizen warriors and their families is a responsibility all Americans share."

The 15 awardees were nominated by their Guard and reserve employees, and were chosen from nearly 2,900 entries, according to the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a DOD office that seeks to foster good relations between Guard and reserve members and their civilian employers. Selection for the award was based on an employer's ability to meet or exceed support for their deployed service members, according to ESGR.

Wright said the support that employers provide to their deployed employees runs the gamut of small- and large-scale needs, from helping spouses back home with child care, repairing a roof or shoveling snow.

"They're always there to assist the families [with] a robust network of support," she said.
One employer, Wright said, "even hired a spouse when her husband was deployed, after she lost her job."

And employers have contributed millions of dollars to military support organizations, including support of disabled veterans, Wright said.

"They're the front-line runners when it comes to military talent," Wright said of the awardees. "They've established leadership programs within their organizations [to help military members] achieve management jobs, they ran mentoring programs and helped veterans transition back from service life into civilian life."

Saying "thank you" doesn't seem to be enough, Wright said.

"I wish there was some monumentally big word for 'thank you,'" she said.

"But I will say thank you over and over again to the employers here; employers that are out there working very hard.

"We're recognizing 15 great employers today," Wright continued," but every employer who supports a member of our Guard and reserves is near and dear to the Department of Defense and in our hearts ... thank you for what you do for the fighting force of the United States of America. We are all grateful for your efforts."

The 2013 Secretary of Defense ESGR Freedom Award winners are:
  • Albuquerque Fire Department, Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Bank of America, Charlotte, N.C.
  • C.W. Driver, Pasadena, Calif.
  • City of Columbus, Columbus, Ohio.
  • Colorado Springs Utilities, Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • DaVita Inc., Denver.
  • Eastman Chemical Co., Kingsport, Tenn.
  • Family Allergy and Asthma, Louisville, Ky.
  • Humana Inc., Louisville, Ky.
  • Pape-Dawson Engineers, San Antonio
  • Richland County Sheriff's Department, Columbia, S.C.
  • Safeway Inc., Pleasanton, Calif.
  • Steel Plate Fabricators, Knoxville, Tenn.
  • U.S. Bank, Minneapolis
  • U.S. Marshals Service, Washington, D.C.

Reserve units take part in extensive patient evacuation exercise

by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega and Staff Sgt. Joshua Nason
944th Fighter Wing


9/26/2013 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The 944th Aeromedical Staging Squadron and the Carl Hayden Veterans Administration Medical Center took part in Operation Swift Savior, one of the most extensive patient evacuation exercises in the Southwest, Sept. 16 - 20.

Lt. Col. Michael Chesser, 944th ASTS chief hospital services flight critical care air transport physician, was one of the original architects for the exercise. When not at his reserve job, Chesser is employed by the VA as one of the physicians on the VA's emergency management committee, and designated medical care director.

Chesser, in collaboration with Lt. Col. Lisa Banyasz, 34th Air Evacuation Squadron, Peterson AFB, Colo., Luke Ritz, Phoenix and Tucson Veterans Administration Area Emergency Manager- Region IX, VHA/Office of Emergency Management, 302th Airlift Wing, Peterson AFB, Colo., and the 56th Medical Group, successfully organized the most extensive cooperation in an exercise between the VA and U.S. Air Force in the Southwest.

The exercise scenario began with the President of the United States declaring a "state of disaster" in Arizona as a result of the extended power outage. The scenario required patients (mannequins) to be transported from the VA medical center to Luke AFB for staging at the 944th ASTS. Once at the 944th ASTS the patients were stabilized and prepped to be loaded onto a C-130 and delivered to Nellis AFB, Nev., the next day. The final destination for the patients was the Las Vegas Veterans Administration Medical Center where they stood up their federal coordinating center to receive the casualties from Phoenix.

"We did a patient reception exercise in Phoenix in 2010 where we flew a plane in from the Channel Islands and conducted our care portion on the ground here," said Chesser. "This exercise was built on that concept but was much more extensive."

Capt. John Lewis, 944th ASTS medical readiness officer, and Master Sgt. Alan Boss, 944th ASTS medical readiness/logistics superintendent, designed, wrote and organized the official training plan for the Luke AFB portion of Operation Swift Savior. Ritz drafted the operational plan for the regional exercise.

"The primary purpose of this training was to provide the members of the 944th ASTS with Air Force specialty code specific and readiness skills verification training," said Boss. "The second purpose was to provide manpower and support to the VA health care system's operational mission and build stronger relationships between the VA, Arizona Department of Health Services, 944th FW, the 56th FW and all the other participating units."

The exercise was planned and coordinated over the past six months between the players in Arizona, Nevada and Colorado through frequent conference calls. Many parts of the community (federal, state and local level) are motivated to build on these experiences and continue to improve integration and cooperative ability.

In conjunction with the official exercise, additional training for Luke participants also took place. The 944th ASTS, MDS, and civil engineer squadron members, as well as 56th MG, security forces, and CE members participated in an introduction to radiological and nuclear response course put on by the Defense Nuclear Weapons School, Kirtland AFB, N.M. during a portion of Operation Swift Savior. The one-day course was designed to train Airman in different situations on equipment needed for dealing with a radiological or nuclear response.

"It's important that they understand how the detection equipment works, to provide an accurate response," said Master Sgt. Lucas Avery, Defense Nuclear Weapons School. "And this was a perfect tie in to the exercise they were already conducting."

When asked how he thought the exercise went Lewis said, "The exercise went off without a hitch on our end. Deficiencies seen in past exercises, such as poor litter carry were definitely remedied before this exercise and were performed flawlessly. We are looking forward to bigger and better exercises in the future."

Nellis AFB and the 99th Medical Wing had approximately 400 participants in the exercise. The Las Vegas venue also included 12 local hospitals which provided the final reception point for 150 live patients to replace the mannequins arriving on the C-130.

"We had such great success with the exercise this week," Chesser stated. "We are very excited about recreating "Swift Savior" again in the near future and broadening the pool of who we exercise with. There are discussions to incorporate more military units within Arizona including more active duty, reserve, National Guard assets in the Air Force and Army. We also hope to integrate with state, local and tribal entities for our next exercise making it a premier event."

U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center commander visits Pope AAF

by Marvin Krause
43rd Airlift Group Public Affairs


9/27/2013 - POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, FORT BRAGG, N.C.  -- Maj. Gen. Rick Martin, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center commander, met with Airmen of the 43rd Airlift Group here Sep. 16 during a visit to see the group's mission firsthand.

During the visit, Martin received a Global Response Force mission briefing from Col. Daniel Tulley, 43rd AG commander, and attended meetings with Brig. Gen. James Scanlan, 440th Airlift Wing commander and U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John Nicholson Jr., 82nd Airborne Division commander. He also held an all-call with Pope Airmen and visited 43rd AG units.

During the all-call, the general highlighted the group's Global Response Force mission. The GRF is a joint force that can deploy on short notice anywhere in the world by land, air or sea to conduct a variety of missions. As an element of the GRF, the 43rd AG provides precise outload, enroute support and mobility operations supporting the 82nd Airborne Division.

"All of you are part of this great team, but your mission and units are unique. It's a unique challenge, and you are up to that challenge. The GRF mission defines what this wonderful group does here." said Martin. "The GRF exemplifies two things - the power projection and sustainment of the 18th Airborne Corps, 82nd Airborne Division, Task Force, and Air Force units and then the tremendous training that goes on here. There's not a single person in our United States military and our civilian leadership that doesn't appreciate the center of gravity that resides at Fort Bragg, Pope Army Airfield, and the Airmen who support and make that mobility strategic response capability mission happen. So, my hat's off to you on the Global Response Force mission set that each of you support in your way."

Martin also commented on importance of building relationships and partnerships between the Army and the Air Force at Fort Bragg and Pope Army Airfield.

"There's no better place to see partnerships happening than here. Gen. Allyn, U.S. Army Forces Command commanding general said that he is rock steady on the 43rd. He couldn't be more proud of what you all do. Those partnerships here in this Army-Air Force team is what we are about in the military now," said Martin.

The general also charged Airmen to increase mission capability while maintaining fiscal responsibility and to build relationships that establish trust to get the mission accomplished effectively.

"Gen. Selva, Air Mobility Command commander, is asked how would we collectively maintain or increase mission capability while maintaining fiscal responsibility. So, that's the challenge to all of us in this mission. That's a charge to your leadership, that's my charge from my leadership, but it's about going far together, and it's about partnerships and relationships. Relationships determine everything."

The general concluded his visit to Pope by visiting 43rd units and presenting his commander's coin to several Airmen and civilians, recognizing them for their outstanding performance.

Veteran's Olympics puts focus on service

by Airman 1st Class Brittany A. Chase
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


9/27/2013 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- More than 600 Gunfighters, retirees and community volunteers watched the lighting of a flame kicking off the 26th Annual Idaho Veterans Olympics Sept. 21, in Boise, Idaho.

Gunfighters and local community members gathered to show their gratitude and support for veterans by volunteering to help make the four-hour event possible.

"This year's Veterans Olympics is a special day that allows the community, military members and veterans to participate in some fun and friendly competition," said Capt. Sarah Allen, 366th Logistics Readiness Squadron materiel management flight commander. "This allows us to strengthen our relationships with one another and grow stronger ties with the community."

The day celebrated the patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice, which was personified in the veterans at the games.

"Our veterans have missed the births of their children, wedding anniversaries and graduations," Allen said. "They have spent holidays in foreign lands, sometimes amid terrible conditions. They gave up everything for their country, for us. All we can do is remember."

While many have paid the ultimate price, more than 22 million who stood up and fought for America and its values are alive today.

"They represent the finest men and women America has to offer and for most, their time in uniform represents a defining period in their lives," Allen said. "They came to understand the price of freedom, because they could put names and faces to it. Freedom was not just an abstract concept; it was the bond of loyalty they forged with their buddies in the ranks."

This year's Veterans Olympics are in honor of the female veterans, who make up 2.5 of the 22.3 million veterans.

"The face of the veteran is changing to include many different people who have dedicated their time and lives to this country," Allen said. "That's why we remember and acknowledge all of the men and women who have served."

Like many veterans in the event, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Richard Lee Seher participated for the men and women who sacrificed their lives.

"It's very special for me to participate in the Veterans Olympics," Seher said. "I was a platoon sergeant in Vietnam. We lost a lot of guys but I made it out. I'm doing this for my best friend James Brian Dillard and everyone else who was not able to be here today."

Allen agreed and said he encourages all service members, both past and present, to be extremely proud of what we've done.

"Active duty military members should be especially cognizant of veterans as they have paved the way for us and provide us a legacy to live up to," Allen said. "Giving back to them by volunteering at events like the Veterans Olympics is the least we can do to repay their contribution to our nation."

Team Eglin improves CAF capability

by Chrissy Cuttita
96th Test Wing Public Affairs

9/26/2013 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- To provide Air Combat Command the best assessment of Maritime Strike Operations, the 53rd Wing partnered with other members of the Team Eglin test community to deliver increased combat capability for the warfighter.

The final phase of the two-year evaluation was a month-long test over the Gulf of Mexico that ended Sept. 6.

"Team Eglin successfully conducted the largest scale of DOD weapons test against small boats in recent history," said Chris Nixon, 96th Range Support Squadron director who oversees Eglin's Gulf Range of 120,000 square miles of overwater airspace and 724 square miles of overland space.

The 53rd Wing, headquartered here, tested the combat capabilities of 42 fighter and bomber sorties expending a total of 53 munitions last month in a maritime environment about 15 nautical miles south of Destin's coastline. Results from nine aircraft test missions will help the Air Force and its sister services develop joint platform-specific weapons loadouts, tactics, techniques and procedures.

The wing's 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron oversaw the unique test they said ranked fourth in priority in a list of more than 300 Air Combat Command test missions.

"There are difficulties in finding, tracking and successfully engaging these threats because they provide challenges unique to the maritime environment," said Lt. Col. Ben Wysack, the 28th TES's project manager responsible for the test. "High speed, unconstrained maneuvering and sea surface conditions present difficult circumstances for successful target engagement."

The 53rd Wing is ACC's operational test and evaluation organization responsible for the management, execution and reporting of operational test and evaluation activities such as Force Development Evaluations, Operational Utility Evaluations and Tactics Development for all fighters and bombers in the Combat Air Force inventory.

Aircraft charged with the maritime challenge included the A-10, B-1, B-52, F-15 and F-16 from the 53rd Wing which manages units in 17 U.S. locations. Depending on their platform, fighters and bombers were armed with Sniper and Litening Advanced Targeting pods and various combinations of munitions such as laser-guided bombs, Joint Direct Attack Munitions, Maverick air-to-ground missiles, cluster bombs and 20mm and 300mm high-explosive incendiary ammunition.

"The 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron's highly experienced F-16 and F-15E crews successfully led 36 of the 42 sorties, expending more than 80 percent of the available munitions," said Wysack about the 53rd unit that participated in all nine maritime test missions. "Access to their well-maintained aircraft and vast pilot expertise was critical to effective and efficient test execution. Without the hard work and dedication of so many at Eglin, this test could not have been conducted as quickly as it was."

The 96th Test Wing's operations, range, civil engineering and maintenance groups' personnel and contracted partners provided a wide variety of distinctive support to ensure the success of this test program.

"The 96th RANSS and its operation and maintenance contractor, InDyne, acquired and prepared 56 marine target boats for static testing (boats with identification numbers, 3D mannequins and radar reflectors at anchor) and 12 remote control targets," said Nixon. "Our personnel modified, pre-tested, deployed and remotely operated the remote control boat targets for the mission."

The 53rd Wing destroyed or damaged 51 of the 56 static target boats and 11 of the 12 remote control boats during the test.

Team Eglin personnel spent more than a year and a half planning test operations, procuring maritime targets and equipment, completing environmental reviews and permits, contracting local boat support, determined mission safety requirements and hazard areas, scheduling missions, and providing weapon and aircraft support, according to the 96th Operations Group.

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

The 337th TES, another 53rd unit, tested the capabilities of a B-1B Lancer launched from Dyess AFB, Texas. During the evaluations, the B-1 dropped a total of six munitions to include a laser guided 500-pound bomb GBU-54, as well as 500 and 2,000-pound joint direct attack munitions.

Other 53rd Wing aircrews who took part in the Team Eglin maritime strike test missions included B-52s from the 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Barksdale AFB, La.; A-10s from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nev., and F-16s from the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Test Center, Tucson, Ariz.

In the Gulf, 96th Test Wing units positioned an instrumentation barge with cameras and remote control relays, placed boat targets for each mission, piloted remote controlled high speed target boats. They also provided eight vessels for support. Prior to and after each mission environmental surveys were conducted. The test hazard area was also monitored and kept clear with the aid of 19 boats from the local communities' charter fleet, lessening the burden of the 950 square mile safety cordon placed on the local fisherman.

During flight operations, the 96th TW provided aircraft traffic control, central mission control, radar tracking of aircraft and weapons and unexplosive ordnance disposal when needed. After each mission, target boats were retrieved for data analysis, and floating debris in the water was cleaned up by local boats contracted by Jackson Guard.

The 28th TES is responsible for evaluating the large volume of data collected from flight tests. Once completed, various operational experts will examine data from the maritime strike missions to determine how efficiently they tracked, engaged and destroyed the target.

Then operational testers will develop future joint military tactics, techniques and procedures manuals -- something of significant interest from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Navy counterparts, according to the 53rd Wing.

"Success in these sorts of tests gives our sister services confidence the B-1 can get the effects they need to meet combatant commander requirements both over land and sea," Gomez said.

"The 28th TES, in cooperation with other 53rd Wing units located in Northwest Florida, maximized resource efficiencies and leveraged our COMBAT HAMMER air-to-ground weapons expertise not only for this test, but for weapons evaluation opportunities in the future," said Wysack.

"Maritime strike is just one of a variety of operations our military tests annually here on Eglin's land and Gulf ranges," said Lt. Col. Peter Vitt, 96th Operations Support Squadron commander. "Each mission is unique and complex so our team of engineers and operators are crucial to ensuring the right support for the operations tested here."

The 96th TW, in partnership with its associate units like the 53rd, is the heart of the team that covers the complete weapon-system life-cycle from concept through development, acquisition, experimental testing, procurement, operational testing and final employment in combat. This synergy is called, "Team Eglin."

Stranded pilot saved: Misawa SNCO named best in SERE

by Senior Airman Derek VanHorn
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


9/27/2013 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Following the most challenging spell of his 14-year career in Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, one Misawa Airman was named the top Air Force senior NCO of the year in the career field.

Master Sgt. Frank Smith, superintendent of the 35th Fighter Wing's SERE program, spent the past four years leading U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots through SERE training. He trained 93 combat-ready pilots between two fighter squadrons for more than 4,300 sorties throughout 2012, teaching them various aspects of emergency parachute, water survival and combat survival training.

"We're solely at Misawa to support our 35 FW pilots," said Smith. "It's important to me that I give our pilots the right information to keep them alive if the time comes where they're forced to eject behind enemy lines or survive in the environment of the local area."

Last summer, that's exactly what happened when a fuel valve malfunction forced an F-16 pilot to eject his aircraft into the waters of the Pacific Ocean about 250 miles from land. The pilot spent more than six hours stranded in the ocean as water temperatures dipped below 50 degrees. Smith provided the pilot water survival training only six days earlier, ultimately playing a significant role in saving his life.

Smith said he never expected to receive the award, but that he views it as a reflection of his job performance.

"It makes me feel great, it's validation that I am doing my job right," he said. "There are a lot of SERE specialists out there doing great things, and I have to credit my chain of command for recognizing the effort and the importance of our mission."

Running the SERE mission at Misawa is unique; it's only a two-deep shop supplemented by fellow specialist Staff Sgt. Mike Dixon. Rather than being stationed at a SERE-specific training base like most Airmen in the career field, Smith's assignment to Misawa forced him to reshape his view of the Air Force.

"In the past, I was always familiar with exactly what my role was within the unit," Smith said. "Here, I was put into a situation where I was directly supporting war fighters who were moving into theaters throughout the world and engaging enemies. I had to learn the processes and educate myself to areas around the world where conflict is present and how our roles change to train our guys."

Dixon said the opportunity to work with Smith has been great and he's learned a lot of lessons not only on the job, but in life as well. He wasn't quite as reserved as Smith when discussing the award selection.

"It's a pretty big deal to be the one guy recognized as the best at your level, especially with a competitive career field like ours," Dixon said.

Smith trained more than 300 Airmen for deployments, was key in guiding the 35th Operations Group to an "Excellent" rating in the base's compliance inspection and also supported cross-cultural relations by leading a 27-member parachutist team for Misawa's Airfest in front of nearly 100,000 spectators.

"I've been very lucky throughout my career," Smith said. "I've been able to take part in great training courses and experience some amazing things in the Air Force. This job has been very rewarding."

Kadena proves able in Tactical Ammunition Rapid Response Package exercise

by Staff Sgt. Lauren Snyder
18th Wing Public Affairs


9/27/2013 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Airmen of the 18th Munitions Squadron practice readiness with a Tactical Ammunition Rapid Response Package exercise, Sept. 23-27 on Kadena Air Base.

The week-long exercise tests the squadron's ability to move munitions from storage bunkers to the awaiting aircraft in times of war. Every missile, container and pallet built is inspected numerous times during the exercise, regardless of the specific simulated mission tasking.

The September '13 TARRP mission is to move approximately 40,000 munitions items, weighing 124,000 pounds and valued at more than $148 million, which is still only a fraction of what Kadena and the 18 MUNS are capable of supplying if U.S. forces are called on to assist countries in the region, defend host-nation sovereignty or maintain regional stability.

To pass the exercise, each completed pallet must receive proper inspection and information documentation by Airmen of the 18 MUNS, together with the 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron and 733rd Air Mobility Squadron. Once the chains and straps are aligned and tightened, the pallets are ready to be sent on their way.

"We're getting assets to the fight as quickly, proficiently, and safely as possible," said 2nd Lt. Patrick Stanton, 18 MUNS System Flight commander. "We are practicing efficiency in movement, doing it right the first time quickly, and effectively getting munitions to where they are needed."

While the TARRP simulates how the squadron would respond in times of war, the Airmen handle live missiles and every care is given to follow procedures. Nothing is simulated in how dangerous the munitions truly are.

With just a one-week break between Kadena's local operational readiness exercise earlier in September and the TARRP exercise, 18 MUNS practices another scenario with this exercise. They are ready at a moment's notice to prepare missiles for transport.

Kadena bone marrow drive draws 900 new potential donors

by Senior Airman Marcus Morris
18th Wing Public Affairs


9/27/2013 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Team Kadena registered more than 900 potential bone marrow donors to help retired Chief Master Sgt. Kim Jochem and other individuals.

More than 20 squadrons and community organizations, like Airmen Committed to Excellence, volunteered 277 hours at nine registration sites during the seven-day campaign Aug. 20-26.

Jochem reached out to Master Sgt. Geoff Robertson, Kadena's career assistance advisor, to grab the attention of the retired chief's fellow service members and help her find a donor who can ultimately save her life.

Senior Airman Taniah Otis, 18th Medical Support Squadron laboratory technician, said the chief has been waiting at least a year for a donor since four potential donors declined the opportunity to give bone marrow to her, and she is in desperate need a donor.

"This drive is for the Department of Defense bone marrow program and, not only are donors helping friends and co-workers, they are helping past leaders who have led the way for us," Otis said. "The DOD gets first pick of any donors registered with the program and then the names go on to the national bone marrow program."

Eligible donors have to be ages 18-44 years old, meet general health requirements, fill out a consent form and be under the Status of Forces Agreement.

"The drive may be over, but people can register for bone marrow donation at the 18th Medical Group at any time," said Tech. Sgt. Johnathan Robinson, 18th MDSS NCO in charge of acquisition management. "We made five matches on the island last year and it feels good to give back to the community."

ACC graduates first Singaporean ALS students

by Airman 1st Class Malissa Lott
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


9/27/2013 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho  -- Air Combat Command's first three foreign students graduated from the Mountain Home Air Force Base Airman Leadership School Sept. 7.

The three RSAF Airmen from the 428th Fighter Squadron attended the command's first Secretary of the Air Force International Affairs- and Air Force Security Assistance Training Squadron-sanctioned ALS class Aug. 7 - Sept. 12.

"Being selected to come to Mountain Home Air Force Base and work with our American partners has been the most profound moment in my fairly new professional career," said ME1 (senior airman equivalent) Joshua Chiang, 428th Fighter Squadropn, Republic of Singapore Air Force, of the Carvin V Detachment. "Since arriving here I've tried to assimilate into the Gunfighter spirit, share the RSAF culture and embrace our partnership. So being selected to attend ALS was really exciting. My goal was clear and simple. It was to do my utmost best, give it my all, and most importantly, treasure the experience. Being named a distinguished graduate of a U.S. Air Force ALS came as a surprise to me and it will be a moment I'll carry with me in my entire career."

ME1s Ianko Koh and Ian Francis also graduated the course.

Not only was the experience unique for the RSAF members, but American Airmen said they benefited from the combined experience.

"Having the Singaporean Airmen in the class with us proved to be a valuable experience," said Senior Airman William Tibbetts, 366th Comptroller Squadron budget analyst. "I knew we'd mutually learn from each other, but I also wondered how they'd socially integrate into the U.S. Air Force class. On the very first day, they fit right in. They were professional and motivated, and it quickly became apparent we'd get along well."

Getting permission for RSAF Airmen to attend the Mountain Home ALS was no easy task, requiring approval from multiple organizations.

"This was the culmination of more than a year's work and coordination," said Senior Master Sgt. Steven Mullens, ACC enlisted force development functional manager. "It's gratifying seeing the fruits of our labors come true at the ALS level, with a nation we have such a solid partnership with."

The RSAF students were integrated in each of the ALS flights, and worked side-by-side with Mountain Home Airmen.

"The Singaporean students were much like the typical U.S. Air Force students we teach. They were razor-sharp, had impeccable military bearing and came to class ready to learn," said Tech. Sgt. Andrea Espinoza, 366th Force Support Squadron ALS instructor. "This is testament to the quality of RSAF Airmen whom we're very fortunate to partner with. I think our American and Singaporean students mutually benefitted from this combined experience, and it was equally beneficial for the Gunfighter ALS instructors."

With the students integrated smoothly in the class, the instructors all agree the experience expanded international interoperability at the E-4, promotable to E-5, level.

"ALS teaches introduction to culture as normal curriculum," said Staff Sgt. Shane Flahaut, ALS instructor. "Typically, Airmen learn how to engage with other cultures. However, having a different culture within the class, they actually utilized the lessons in person, instead of in theory. All the instructors were excited for this new opportunity."

The RSAF-USAF partnership isn't new to most Gunfighters.

"We've been working with them for four years and if we are more molded together at even the most junior ranks, then our partnerships can only grow," said Flahaut. "I think this definitely gave everybody a better opportunity to understand the similarities between Singapore's Air Force and ours."

(U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace contributed to this article.)

Hagel Discusses Security Issues With Uganda's President


American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2013 – Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met at the Pentagon Friday with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to discuss a range of security issues including last week's terrorist attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya.

The meeting included Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Uganda's Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga.

After the meeting, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little issued a statement saying Hagel thanked Museveni for Uganda's leadership in the region and its commitment to the African Union Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM.

"The secretary praised Ugandan forces for their efforts to defeat al-Shabaab, for which Congress recently approved more than $14 million in additional Section 1206 support. Secretary Hagel also praised Ugandan security forces for their efforts against the Lord's Resistance Army and its leader, Joseph Kony," Little said.

Approximately 100 U.S. personnel are currently deployed in Central Africa, where they are advising and assisting the Ugandan army in this effort.  Little said Hagel welcomed the progress that the Ugandan and other partner forces have achieved in reducing the threat posed by the LRA and expressed his hope that the mission would result in the elimination of the LRA threat to civilians and regional stability.

Secretary Hagel concluded the meeting by expressing his appreciation for the close relationship enjoyed by Uganda and the United States.

Poland's top enlisted airman tours PME facilities

By Master Sgt. Norris Agnew, U.S. Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

 KAPAUN AIR STATION, Germany (AFNS) -- Poland's air force senior enlisted leader is partnering with U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa officials to strengthen his service's operational capacity. But his efforts are focused on a more foundational level of airpower -- enlisted professional military education.

Warrant Officer 1st Class Krzysztof Gadowski, the top enlisted adviser for the Polish air force, visited the Ramstein First Term Airman's Center, Kisling NCO Academy, and the Airman Leadership School Sept. 17-19. The trip included an overview of the academic curriculum, multiple sessions of observing instructors interact with students, and one-on-one discussions with the enlisted leaders of both PME facilities.


Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, USAFE-AFAFRICA and the Polosh air force have shared a strong alliance. More recently, a U.S. aviation detachment was established at Lask Air Base, Poland, in 2012; recurring air exercises such as Screaming Eagle and Brilliant Ardent seek to improve the interoperability of the two air forces; and a 2010 agreement made between the 86th Airlift Wing here, and the 3rd Airlift Wing at Powidz Air Base, Poland, connected the two units as sister wings.
During his visit, Gadowski attempted to glean best practices from USAFE-AFAFRICA's professional military education programs.

"It's nice to see the U.S. Air Force system myself, especially the education system for NCOs," Gadowski said. "I hope that some parts of this system I will be able to adopt for our NCO education system."

Gadowski was particularly impressed with the leadership focus he observed during his visit.

"I really like how you teach leadership to young NCOs," he said. "We have a few courses for our senior NCOs, but we need more for our young NCOs. I want to take your style back to Poland as much as possible."

In an era where both economic and security challenges are increasingly becoming permanent fixtures across the European landscape, Gadowski said he understands the need to boost his force's partnership capacity.

"(USAFE-AFAFRICA) Airmen have great combat experience," he said. "As a NATO member, Polish airmen have to achieve the same standard, so we have to learn from our (USAFE-AFAFRICA) partners. For many years, we have been working to adopt our NCO system to yours, so that we can make our NCO corps stronger."

Poland is a priority nation for the Air Force's Building Partnership Capacity initiative, a core function of airpower doctrine.

"This is basically a continuation of our strong partnership with Poland's air force that started about three years ago," said Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Moore, the NCO Academy commandant here. "Our two air forces are already partnering on a more operational level, but from a leadership and management capacity, this is how we are helping them professionalize their NCO corps.

"This is really important, because when we deploy together we can interoperate and take care of the mission," Moore said. "In my opinion, all of that starts with enlisted force development."

Throughout the three-day visit, Gadowski was invited into different classrooms to observe actual academic instruction, allowing him to gauge the interaction between instructor and students that serves as the foundation of PME training.

It's professionalism and passion that Gadowski said he is looking to take back to his enlisted airmen. But he said he knows it's not an easy task.

"The Polish air force has many years of tradition," Gadowski said. "Tradition is not easy to change. But what I see here with the education system would be a good change for our air force."

Gadowski pointed to one key observation he made during his tour of USAFE-AFAFRICA installations -- the high levels of responsibility frequently given to NCOs. Based on his air force's tradition, critical duties are typically reserved for senior NCOs or officers.

To highlight his point, Gadowski relayed a story about a young Polish NCO.

"He was really good at his job, whatever he did," Gadowski said. "Once he did a job (of) calling down a (mock) airstrike during an exercise. This is the job usually done by someone much higher ranking. But the NCO did the job beautifully.
"The word was spreading that this NCO had done such a wonderful job," Gadowski said. "What was so amazing to many people was his rank. Some people had never seen an NCO take (on) so much responsibility."

Adopting a more cutting-edge approach to airpower is a daunting task for any leader, especially when it involves developing and empowering an entire enlisted corps.

For that reason, Poland's top airman said he doesn't mind going back to the classroom, especially if the lessons learned are exactly what he needs to take his air force to the next level.

Officials Discuss Intelligence Programs at Senate Hearing

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2013 – At a hearing yesterday before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. discussed a NSA-managed classified intelligence program, one of two made public by a security leak in June.

Joining Alexander and Clapper was Deputy Attorney General James Cole. All were called to testify about both programs leaked to the press by former NSA systems administrator Edward Snowden -- Section 215 of the Patriot Act, also known as NSA's 215 business records program, and Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

In the months since the leaks, media reports have said the programs involve secret surveillance by NSA of phone calls and online activities of U.S. citizens, and revealed unauthorized disclosures of information by NSA, generating distrust of the agency and calls for an end to the programs.

Section 702 of FISA and Section 215 of the Patriot Act both were authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, first approved by Congress in 1978.

Section 702 authorizes access, under court oversight, to records and other items belonging to foreign targets located outside the United States. Section 215 broadens FISA to allow the FBI director or other high-ranking officials there to apply for orders to examine telephone metadata to help with terrorism investigations.

In 2012, these programs resulted in the examination of fewer than 300 selectors, or phone numbers, in the NSA database, Alexander said during a congressional hearing in July.

In his remarks, Cole described the 215 program, explaining that it involves collecting only metadata from telephone calls.

“What is collected as metadata is quite limited. … It is the number a telephone calls … It doesn't include the name of the person called,” Cole said. “It doesn't include the location of the person called. It doesn't include any content of that communication. It doesn't include financial information … It is just the number that was called, the date and the length of the call.”

“If you want any additional information beyond that, you would have to go and get other legal processes to find that information and acquire it,” he added.

Such metadata can only be looked at when there is a reasonable, articulable suspicion for a specific phone number to be queried in the database, Cole said.

“Otherwise,” he said, “we do not and cannot just roam through this database looking for whatever connections we may think are interesting or in any way look at it beyond the restrictions in the court order.”

Only a small number of analysts can make such a determination, and that determination must be documented so it can be reviewed by a supervisor and later reviewed for compliance purposes, Cole added. The program is conducted according to authorization by the FISA Court, which must reapprove the program every 90 days.

“Since the court originally authorized this program in 2006, it has been reapproved on 34 separate occasions by 14 individual Article Three judges of the FISA Court,” Cole said. “Each reapproval indicates the court's conclusion that the collection was permissible under Section 215 and satisfied all constitutional requirements.”

Article Three of the U.S. Constitution establishes the judicial branch of the federal government.
Oversight of the 215 program involves all three branches of government, including the FISA Court and the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees of both houses of Congress, Cole said. Every 90 days, the Department of Justice reviews a sample of NSA's queries to determine whether the reasonable articulable requirement has been met.

DOJ lawyers meet every 90 days with NSA operators and with the NSA inspector general to discuss the program’s operation and any compliance issues that may arise, Cole explained.

With respect to Congress, “we have reported any significant compliance problems, such as those uncovered in 2009, to the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees of both houses,” he said.

“Those documents have since been declassified and released by the DNI to give the public a better understanding of how the government and the FISA court respond to compliance problems once they're identified,” Cole said.

In his testimony, Alexander told the panel that NSA’s implementation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act focuses on defending the homeland by linking foreign and domestic threats.

Section 702 of FISA focuses on acquiring foreign intelligence, he said, including critical information concerning international terrorist organizations, by targeting non-U.S. persons who are reasonably believed to be outside the United States.

NSA also operates under other sections of the FISA statute in accordance with the law's provisions, Alexander said.

“To target a U.S. person anywhere in the world, under the FISA statute we are required to obtain a court order based on a probable cause showing that the prospective target of the surveillance is a foreign power or agent of a foreign power,” he explained.

“As I have said before, these authorities and capabilities are powerful,” Alexander said. “We take our responsibility seriously.”

NSA stood up a directorate of compliance in 2009 and regularly trains the entire workforce in privacy protections and the proper use of capabilities, he said.

“We do make mistakes,” Alexander noted.

“Compliance incidents, with very rare exceptions, are unintentional and reflect the sorts of errors that occur in any complex system of technical activity,” he said.

The press has claimed evidence of thousands of privacy violations but that is false and misleading, Alexander said.

“According to NSA's independent inspector general, there have been only 12 substantiated cases of willful violation over 10 years. Essentially one per year,” he said. “Several of these cases were referred to the Department of Justice for potential prosecution, and appropriate disciplinary action in other cases. We hold ourselves accountable every day.”

Of 2,776 violations noted in the press, he said, about 75 percent were not violations of court-approved procedures but rather were NSA's detection of valid foreign targets that traveled to the United States. The targets are called roamers and failure to stop collecting on them as soon as they enter the United States from a foreign country is considered a violation that must be reported.

“NSA has a privacy compliance program that any leader of a large, complex organization would be proud of,” Alexander said. “We welcome an ongoing discussion about how the public can, going forward, have increased information about NSA's compliance program and its compliance posture, much the same way all three branches of the government have today.”

NSA's programs have contributed to understanding and disrupting 54 terrorism-related events, Alexander told the panel, with 25 in Europe, 11 in Asia, five in Africa, and 13 in the United States.
“This was no accident. This was not coincidence. These are the direct results of a dedicated workforce, appropriate policy, and well-scoped authorities created in the wake of 9/11, to make sure 9/11 never happens again,” Alexander said.

In the week ending 23 Sept., he said, there were 972 terrorism-related deaths in Kenya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Iraq. Another 1,030 people were injured in the same countries.
“The programs I've been talking about -- we need these programs to protect this nation, to ensure that we don't have those same statistics here,” Alexander said.

With respect to reforms, he said, on Aug. 9 President Barack Obama laid out specific steps to increase the confidence of the American people in the NSA foreign intelligence collection programs.

“We are always looking for ways to better protect privacy and security,” Alexander said. “We have improved over time our ability to reconcile our technology with our operations and with the rules and authorities. We will continue to do so as we go forward and strive to improve how we protect the American people, their privacy and their security.”

In his remarks to the panel, Clapper said that over past 3 months he’s declassified and publicly released a series of documents related to Section 215 Section 702.

“We did that to facilitate informed public debate about the important intelligence collection programs,” he said. “We felt in the light of the unauthorized disclosures, the public interest in these documents far outweigh the potential additional damage to national security. These documents [allow them to] see the seriousness, thoroughness and rigor with which the FISA Court exercises its responsibilities.”

Even in these documents, Clapper said, officials had to redact some information to protect sensitive sources and methods such as particular targets of surveillance.

“We'll continue to declassify more documents. It's what the American people want,” he said. “It's what the president has asked us to do. And I personally believe it's the only way we can reassure our citizens that the intelligence community is using its tools and authorities appropriately.”

But, Clapper said, “we also have to remain mindful of potentially negative long-term impact of over-correcting to the authorizations granted to the intelligence community.”

Clapper added, “As Americans we face an unending array of threats to our way of life -- more than I've seen in my 50 years in intelligence. We need to sustain our ability to detect these threats. We welcome a balanced discussion about civil liberties but it's not an either-or situation. We need to continue to protect both.”