Military News

Monday, September 30, 2013

Assistant Secretary, Manpower and Reserve Affairs visits Alamo Wing

by Elsa Martinez
433rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


9/27/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- The Honorable Daniel Ginsberg, assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, visited the 433rd Airlift Wing along with other units here on Sept. 25 .

Col. Jeffrey Pennington, 433rd Airlift Wing commander, led the tour of the maintenance and C-5 Formal Training Unit facilities.

"The rich history of the Alamo Wing speaks volumes, and I was delighted to meet the men and women of this outstanding unit and convey my sincere appreciation for the tremendous work they not only do for our Air Force, but our nation," Ginsberg remarked.

Accompanying the secretary was Chief Master Sgt. Jack Johnson,  Secretary of the Air Force senior enlisted advisor. He echoed the secretary's positive reflections about his time spent at the "Alamo Wing." 

"It was Secretary Ginsberg's intent to visit the Air Force Personnel Center and Total Force Airmen, which include our civilians, serving throughout San Antonio," he said.  "Integral to the Secretary's focus was to thank the men and women of 433d Airlift Wing for the remarkable work they perform every day. Equally important to the Secretary was to listen and gain a first-hand perspective on all things centering on manpower and reserve affairs."

433rd AW Airmen were excited for the opportunity to showcase their talents in providing combat ready forces for the nation.

"This visit allowed us an opportunity to not only show off the amazing things we do on a daily basis, but also a chance to get some of the concerns addressed," said Capt. Kimberly Bryant, 433rd MXS operations officer.

433rd AW senior leadership was honored to host the secretary and the opportunity for Airmen's concerns to be heard.

"It was an honor to host Mr. Ginsberg as he interacted with the fine men and women of the 433rd," said Pennington. "His genuine concern and interest helped our Airmen know that our leadership values them and their sacrifices."

U.S., South Korean Military Leaders Hold Talks in Seoul

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

SEOUL, South Korea, Sept. 30, 2013 – American and South Korean military officials discussed interoperability, capabilities and the threat from North Korea during the 38th Military Committee Meeting here today.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his South Korean counterpart, Gen. Jeong Seung-jo, held talks discussing the U.S.-South Korean alliance, problems confronting the allies and ways ahead. They were joined on the American side by Army Gen. James D. Thurman, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, and Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command.

Jeong and Dempsey both took office in 2011, and the U.S. general said the two men have a good relationship. “It was a genuine exchange of where they think they are … and where we are,” Dempsey said during an interview after the meeting. Both militaries are making changes, he added, and as close allies they need to be informed and work out how to best operate together.

The meeting started with a discussion of the threat. “That starts with the North Koreans and trends,” Dempsey said. “Then we moved to capabilities – everything from command and control to intelligence sharing to joint integrated air defense – because the better we can operate together, the better deterrent we have to a miscalculation by North Korea.”

Dempsey said that with the exception of NATO, the U.S. military and South Korean military may be the most interoperable in the world. “But boy, there is always room for improvement,” he added.

Sharing information and intelligence is a key part of this equation. And given the threat that North Korean ballistic missiles pose to the Korean Peninsula and the region, the Joint Integrated Missile Defense System becomes more important, the chairman noted. “As the capabilities of the North have changed, we have to change right along with them,” he said. “In fact, we try to change before they change.”

The tactical interoperability between U.S. and South Korean forces largely has been based on an exchange of liaisons, the chairman said. “In the 21st century now, with information technologies available, we think we can do better at being interoperable in terms of command and control electronically,” he said.

The alliance, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, has helped to secure peace in the region and has allowed South Korea to prosper, Dempsey said. “On the back of that security, the South Koreans have built the 12th largest economy in the world,” he said. “So, our commitment today was ‘OK -- 60 years down, let’s shoot for another 60.”

Budget woes in the United States did not come up in the discussions, Dempsey said. “The assumption is – and it’s a valid assumption – that where our greatest national interests lie, we will find a way to find the resources to make the kind of commitments we need to make,” he added. “Clearly, right here on the peninsula -- where we not only have a 60-year alliance, but we have 28,000 Americans and about 4,200 families -- that’s a pretty significant commitment.”

Budget discussions don’t come up in places like Korea, the chairman said, but rather in areas where the U.S. interests are not as clearly defined.

After the meetings, Dempsey met with South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the Blue House here. Tonight, he will join the president, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and many South Korean and American dignitaries to mark the alliance’s 60th anniversary.

Airman intervenes after fiery highway crash

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


9/27/2013 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- The morning of Sept. 7 began normal for Senior Airman Chad Turko, 714th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron KC-10 crew chief, who left his home in Rockaway Township, N.J. to attend unit training assembly here. Suddenly deterred by ominous smoke on the horizon, Turko encountered a surreal scene unfolding in real time while traveling southbound on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Approaching exit seven, he drove upon an overturned 18-wheeler tractor trailer engulfed in flames under an overpass surrounded by excessive debris and papers strewn about the area. The intense flames from the burning truck caused structural damage to the bridge.

Venturing towards the site of the accident, he immediately felt the impact of the smoldering heat. As Turko approached the damaged 18-wheeler, he noticed a man slumped over inside the burning tractor trailer, he said.

"The scene was unfathomable," Turko said. "There was a huge cloud of thick black smoke, so thick you could barely see the car in front of you."

As a registered emergency medical technician for two years and a firefighter for three years, Turko instinctively grabbed his EMT bag and swiftly pulled the injured man from the truck's cab, now severely engulfed in flames.

"I immediately felt concern for whoever was inside that truck," he said. "My only thought was to jump out of the car to do anything I could to rescue and help the man."

With an EMT bag and sense of urgency, Turko immediately began rendering emergency care to stabilize the injured man before first responders arrived. Fortunately, he was able to determine that the driver had no apparent concussion and continued to clean his wounds. Turko determined that the driver suffered a head laceration and other minor injuries. A second vehicle involved in the accident had its entire left side shattered, leaving debris strewn all over the roadway. The driver from that vehicle emerged unharmed, he said.

Reports quickly spread of Turko's courageous actions and he was promptly recognized by Col. Michael Underkofler, 514th Air Mobility Wing commander at the quarterly commander's call and within his own squadron by Maj. Joseph Zackaricz, 714th AMXS commander.

"I believe his actions were absolutely heroic," said Maj. Joseph Zackaricz, 714th AMXS commander. "Regardless of his training, I believe he would have stopped even if he had not been a three year first responder."

Turko's proactive intervention saved lives and prevented casualties. He attributes his actions to holding a steadfast moral code of responsibility.

"I didn't waste time trying to make a decision," he said. "I had the skills and ability to intervene and I was raised to help people whenever you're capable."

Throughout the chaos, other vehicles diverted to side lanes to drive past the accident site. No other vehicle stopped to assist Turko or the driver. Shortly after the accident, police and emergency responders arrived to assess the scene and take statements from witnesses, said Turko.

"His actions not only bring great pride to the 714th AMXS, but they are a true testament to the caliber of people we have in our units," said Zackaricz. "I continue to hear and experience story after story of how our folks have taken care of each other, or have gone above and beyond to help others even at their own peril. I have been to the desert with these men and women and have witnessed their selfless sacrifices. Turko is another great example of how awesome our Airmen are."

Hagel Watches Training, Tours DMZ During Korea Visit

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

SEOUL, South Korea, Sept. 30, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel traveled north from the South Korean capital today, visiting U.S. and South Korean soldiers, observing training, then continuing on to Panmunjom, site of the Demilitarized Zone separating democratic South Korea from its communist northern neighbor.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel observes a gunnery range at Rodriguez Live Fire Range in South Korea, Sept. 30, 2013. Hagel visited with several military units along the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
At Rodriguez Live-Fire Complex, about two-thirds of the way from Seoul to the DMZ, Hagel observed training and certification of a U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Division platoon. The division’s soldiers certify on critical tasks annually, a spokesman said, and today’s training simulated breaching an enemy-emplaced obstacle during a mounted attack.

The joint, combined scenario involved U.S. Bradley fighting vehicles and Apache helicopters, and South Korean K1A1 tanks. Platoon leaders must incorporate air, engineer, indirect fire and allied capabilities to successfully complete the simulated mission.

Hagel spoke to U.S. and South Korean troops at the live-fire complex after observing the training. He explained he is visiting here this week to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the U.S-South Korean alliance and to celebrate South Korean Armed Forces Day.

“The South Korean soldiers are particularly important in this celebration,” he said. “And we want to help celebrate this special day. It's a day that also gives us an opportunity to acknowledge this partnership.”

The secretary noted that during this visit he also will preside, along with Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, over the change of command ceremony that will mark the transition of U.S. Forces Korea command from Army Gen. James D. Thurman to Army Gen. Curtis M. “Mike” Scaparrotti.

Hagel thanked the troops for the opportunity to observe their training, which he called “impressive.” He also thanked them, and their families, for the mission they are undertaking: protecting South Korea from its northern neighbor and maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

“I'm also here to send some time with the South Korean defense minister and the leaders of South Korea in talking about what we do next -- how we go forward with this relationship,” Hagel told the troops.

The secretary noted he received a 2nd Infantry Division jacket during his visit, which he wore to speak to the troops. “I shall wear it proudly, and I'll wear it more than just here to show off the 2nd ID,” he said.

The division’s soldiers have a big responsibility, as they are well aware, Hagel said.

“You are the only forward-deployed division we have in the United States Army in the world. … That responsibility doesn't cease. It doesn't ease, and it is one of constant vigilance, and I know that's a big burden,” he said. “But I suspect that each of you wouldn't want it any other way, or you wouldn't be here.”

Hagel said from the president on down, Americans appreciate what their deployed and forward-deployed troops are doing here and around the world.

“I know sometimes you're out here alone and wonder if anybody's paying attention and really does understand or appreciate what you do,” he said. “We do. And thank you.”

From the live-fire complex, the secretary traveled to the DMZ, where he and South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin visited the Ouellette Observation Post. Also known as Guard Post 142, it’s closest to the dividing line and the last U.S.-manned outpost on the southern DMZ, all others being the responsibility of South Korean troops.

The secretary also toured Panmunjom, site of the line of demarcation, where both North and South Korea maintain military headquarters and keep vigilant eyes on each other.

Speaking to reporters at Panmunjom, Hagel said it’s “probably the only place in the world where we have always a risk of confrontation, when two sides are looking clearly and directly at each other all the time.”

There is no margin for error along the DMZ, the secretary said, and he credited the strong alliance between South Korea and the United States for keeping the region stable and peaceful.

“There's always a challenge; there's always a threat,” he said. “But this partnership and this relationship is really unique, and it has been able to manage through many ups and downs in the differences between the two countries that share the Korean Peninsula.”

Responding to a reporter’s question, Hagel said he believes Kim Jong-un’s regime in North Korea, which possesses chemical weapons, is watching closely to see what the world will do in response to Syria’s use of such illegal weapons.

“We've always got to keep in mind that threats that come from use of weapons of mass destruction are not limited to borders or regions,” he said. “They are global threats. And nations who possess those kinds of weapons and who are irresponsible do watch how the world responds and reacts.”

Hagel also responded to a question asking whether the Pentagon has considered reducing its about 60,000-member force forward-deployed to the Korean Peninsula.

“No,” he said. “There has not been any consideration or conversation about that. … The Department of Defense will manage through whatever reductions we have to take … [and] at the same time, assure our partners -- and specifically here in the Asia-Pacific -- that our commitments still stand.

“There's never been any consideration of changing our force protection or force presence here in Korea or anywhere else in this area,” he said.

South Korea has made great strides militarily, Hagel said, and “is continuing to enhance and improve and strengthen its capabilities in all areas.”

“And that's good,” he added. “That's what they should do and they want to do and we want them to do. And we're supporting that.”

As his final act on the DMZ, the secretary administered the oath of office to Marine Corps Capt.
Bradlee J. Avots and promoted him to major. Avots is a member of the secretary’s public affairs team.
The secretary’s visit to South Korea will continue tomorrow, with senior-level meetings and celebrations in honor of South Korea’s Armed Forces Day.

Later this week, Hagel will travel to Japan, where he will join Secretary of State John F. Kerry and their counterparts for “2-plus-2” meetings between U.S and Japanese foreign and defense ministers.

18th CEG keep runway clear to land

by Senior Airman Marcus Morris
18th Wing Public Affairs


9/30/2013 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 18th Civil Engineer Group has implemented an initiative created by Master Sgt. Richard Vaden, 18th CEG heavy equipment operator, saving the Air Force approximately $180,000; 784,000 gallons of water; and, 2,000 man hours annually.

When an aircraft lands, the tires are not spinning and, until they get up to speed, they are put under pressure and dragged, causing rubber to adhere to the runway. Over time, the deposits build up and cause the runway to become extremely slippery and greatly reduce pilot visibility of the centerline, making it harder to land safely.

In order to mitigate the risk, Kadena's 18th CEG Airmen would have to shut down the runway for hours at a time to scrub the rubber off the flightline using Avion 50 detergent; however, the process is not a quick fix.

"It took a day just to fill a water truck with Avion 50 detergent," said Airman 1st Class Travis Drouin, 18th CEG heavy equipment operator. "Also, the Avion 50 would get under our personal protection equipment leaving chemical burns."

Vaden saw not just an excruciatingly long process, he saw a safety issue.

That's why Vaden developed an initiative through the Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century program using an ultra high-pressure (UHP) water system to blast away the rubber deposits.

"The new process takes around 8 hours to clean a 2000 feet by 50 feet spot of the flight line, while the old way took 12 hours" said Vaden. "Also, the new process allows the Airmen to clean lines at any time and be off the flight line in 10 minutes, while the old method required all air operations for that particular runway to be suspended because the slippery detergent prevented aircraft from landing safely."

Due to sequestration, the 18th CEG had to design a new self-contained UHP system for a vehicle they already had. Not only is the machine capable of scraping off rubber from the runway like a knife, it can also strip the paint lines off, which saves the need for contractors to do the work.

"I love this new process," said Senior Airman Brandon Davis, 18th CEG heavy equipment operator. "It is 10 times easier, saves the Air Force money and we don't have to worry about chemicals getting into the grass."

Carter: U.S.-India Defense Collaboration Moves to Next Level


By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2013 – Deputy Secretary Ash Carter delivered a groundbreaking collaborative defense proposal to Indian military officials during his recent trip there and is committed to continuing to put new ideas on the table, he told an audience today at the Center for American Progress.

Carter traveled to India, Afghanistan and Pakistan on a 7-day trip that began Sept. 12, but at this event he focused on what he called the strong and rapidly growing defense partnership between the United States and India.

“In the United States, with U.S. industry … we identified and put forward to the Indians a truly groundbreaking entirely new collaborative proposal to co-develop with India a next-generation Javelin antitank capability,” Carter said.

The proposal addresses a key military requirement for both armies and is an unprecedented offer the United States has made unique to India, the deputy secretary added.

During the trip, Carter delivered a second round of potential capability areas of cooperation proposed by U.S. industry. And in India, Carter said he made sure to hear from senior Indian industry representatives about their ideas for increasing private-sector partnerships.

The push to reach the next level of defense collaboration and co-development with India comes after 15 months of effort between the countries to overcome bureaucratic obstacles to such work, Carter said.

The underlying program, called the Defense Trade Initiative, was devised by former Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Indian National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, and Menon and Carter used DTI to find ways to take the nations’ defense cooperation to the next level.

Among the advances made possible through DTI, Carter said, involved export controls.
“We have demonstrated repeatedly that we can release sensitive technology to India,” Carter said.

“We've adapted our system in ways that will speed our release process for India,” he added, “especially in the Department of Defense, recognizing that for … all partners this process is subject to case-by-case review and there will always be some technologies that we will keep to ourselves.”

Areas of progress include technology transfer, licensing agreements, license exceptions, end-use monitoring and others.

“We've also taken unprecedented steps to identify forward-leaning proposals by industry, from industry on both sides for defense items to be co-produced and -- the true measure of our common goal -- co-developed by the U.S. and India,” Carter said.

These include a maritime helicopter, a naval gun, a surface-to-air missile system and a scatterable antitank system, all of which the deputy secretary discussed with Indian officials during his recent visit, he said.

“In each instance,” Carter noted, “the United States has fast-tracked these projects to ensure that our internal processes are ready to go as soon as the Indian government wants to move forward.”

U.S. and Indian research and development experts also play a critical role in areas that include the cognitive sciences and others in which DOD would incentivize increased cooperation by U.S. defense researchers, the deputy secretary said.

“I let the Indian government know last week that I will be incentivizing U.S. researchers who seek and find Indian partners in key research areas we identified previously,” he added. “We'll ensure that those innovative projects receive priority funding. This is an approach we've only ever taken with the United Kingdom and Australia, and now India will join that company.”

When Carter visited India a year ago, he visited the Lockheed Tata plant in Hyderabad, which assembles parts for the C-130J cargo plane, a partnership between an American company and an Indian company, he said.

“This was a partnership that was encouraged and applauded by the U.S. and Indian governments but was not founded by either one,” Carter added.

“This year I had the opportunity to travel to Hindon Air Force Station, where the Indian Air Force operates a growing number of C-130Js and also C-17s,” he said.

While he was there, the deputy secretary was briefed by an Indian Air Force pilot who landed and took off in a C-130J in the Himalayas from an altitude well above 16,000 feet, “certainly a record and quite an accomplishment,” Carter said.

“We're excited to have the next tranche of six C-130Js included in a pipeline of several major defense sales currently under consideration by the Indian government,” he added. “Our goal is for India to have all the capabilities it needs to meet its security requirements and to be a key partner in that effort.”

The Defense Department also invests in joint exercises, Carter said, because the U.S. and Indian militaries remain the most visible cooperative efforts between the two nations and serve as a cornerstone of the defense cooperative relationship.

Such exercises allow the U.S. and Indian militaries exposure to one another's tactics, techniques and procedures, he said.

“They also allow Indian troops access to U.S. troops, making operating together possible if it proves necessary to further U.S. and Indian interests and, perhaps most importantly, helping foster person-to-person ties in the defense area that are so important to our two countries in other areas,” Carter observed.

In May, he said, 200 Indian Army soldiers trained with members of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, [N.C.,] where they jointly conducted various scenarios related to a U.N. peacekeeping mission, from humanitarian assistance to air assault.

“I hear Indian soldiers were even able to shoot off a Javelin or two,” the deputy secretary added. “And one day soon I'm confident that we'll co-develop these weapons.”

As for the United States and India, Carter said, “we're each big, complicated democracies. We move slowly, but over the long run we also move surely. And that to me is the trajectory for us and India in the defense area.”