Military News

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Thule tugboat plies frigid Arctic waters

by Steve Brady
21st Space Wing Public Affairs Office


9/30/2013 - THULE AIR BASE, Greenland -- Life at Thule Air Base is unique. Located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle at the Air Force's northernmost base, residents must acclimate to bitter cold, months of darkness and even the occasional polar bear wandering through base.

While Air Force bases are synonymous with aircraft and runways, another unique Thule aspect is that it is home to the northernmost deepwater port in the world. With that comes a need for an Air Force boat - a tugboat to be exact.

"Some small boats are used by security forces in Florida and some missile retriever boats are used to return target drones at Tyndall AFB," said Tech. Sgt. T. Read Harris, 821st Support Squadron vehicle maintenance representative. "But Thule can claim the only Air Force tugboat."

The "Rising Star," Thule's harbor tugboat, was built by Swiftships in Morgan City, La., and delivered in 1991. The 71-foot tugboat is powered by two Detroit diesel two-stroke V-16 engines, each producing 900 water-churning horsepower.

Each summer, when the port is not frozen, Thule stages its annual resupply mission for fuel and other necessities needed for the long and brutal winter. During resupply, the tugboat obediently motors into North Star Bay to align massive cargo ships to the pier, push fuel tankers into position, and guide the fuel hoses to transfer the essential fuel to the base. It is also used to push icebergs away from the pier to prevent damage in the ice-cold 41 degree water.

"We have the boat because there is no maritime support this far north in the Arctic," Harris said. "Without the tugboat, our annual fuel resupply would not be possible. Because of this, I know I play a part in the survivability at Thule."

The boat is operated and maintained by Danish contractors, and overseen by Harris, who makes sure technical orders and AFIs are followed.

"I ensure the boat is serviced and inspected before 'port season' and ensure the boat is prepped for winter storage," he said.

At the end of the brief summer, the Rising Star is pulled out of the frigid water on a tracked trailer and stored on the beach. There it slumbers through the dark winter, awaiting its next mission when winter releases its icy grip on Thule Air Base.

Army, Air Force collaboration leads to improved SIPR email service

by Maj. Brooke Brander
Air Force Space Command Public Affairs


10/2/2013 - Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. -- In continued collaboration between the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army, the entire Air Force will migrate to Secure Internet Protocol Router, Department of Defense Enterprise Email over the next year.

Approximately 150,000 SIPR Network users will migrate to the Defense Information Systems Agency SIPR email enterprise services over fiscal year 2014. The Air National Guard will be first to transition to the SIPR email enterprise.

"The SIPR DEE migration allows the Air Force to leverage an enterprise JIE capability and improve secure email delivery services," said Brig. General Kevin Wooton, Air Force Space Command director of communications. "The migration to SIPR DEE provides significant operational efficiencies and allows the Air Force to focus on our cyber mission sets rather than email infrastructure."

The migration to SIPR DEE will reduce Air Force Operations and Maintenance cost while modernizing infrastructure. In addition, the migration will converge infrastructure services and make available enterprise services, providing operational capabilities that will enhance the Air Force cyber mission.

"The continued spirit of cooperation and partnership between the Air Force, Army, and DISA as we move toward JIE is greatly appreciated," said General William L. Shelton, Commander of Air Force Space Command. "The SIPR DEE migration will allow us to more efficiently use our cyber professionals, ensuring the cyber domain is secure as we continue to operationalize capabilities."

The SIPR DEE migration is another step toward the Air Force's move toward the Joint Information Environment architecture.

"The Air Force is very committed to JIE and we want to make sure we do it the right way," said General Shelton. "There are great opportunities that the Air Force is leveraging with SIPR DEE; however, there are still challenges with enterprise services on the NIPR Net specifically in the area of cost efficiencies."

The SIPR DEE migration is in addition to the new architecture-sharing and modernization agreement among the Air Force, the Army and the DISA focused on next generation network configurations and regional security stacks that will increase bandwidth and network security and avoid more than $1 billion in future costs.

Cannon remembers

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


9/23/2013 - CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Local veterans and Air Commandos stood at attention as the familiar notes of the national anthem reverberated through a loudspeaker, enveloping the assembly as it has for more than 230 years, and signifying the commencement of a Prisoner of War/Missing in Action retreat ceremony Sept. 20 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.

In a gesture as timeless as Old Glory itself, a flight of uniformed Airmen formed ranks and rendered a salute in the shadow of the POW/MIA flag as the nation's colors were lowered into the white-gloved hands of Cannon's honor guard.

The collection of attendees - a visage of camouflage interspersed with the regalia of conflicts past - bore testament to the transcendence of the occasion and the endurance of a cause too important to forget.

"Today is a day of remembrance and a day of pride," said Lt. Col. Travis Norton, 3rd Special Operations Squadron commander. "Since 1979, we as a nation have taken the third Friday of each September to remember those who went missing during combat and to honor those who served our nation under unbelievable conditions as prisoners of war."

Having endured unspeakable sacrifice and loss fortifying the bedrock on which this great nation was founded, the contributions of America's POW/MIA service members are evidenced in every liberty enjoyed in the land of the free.

"I'd like to challenge each of us to look upon this day as a day of pride: pride in a nation that not only supports and promotes freedom for all people, but a nation with citizens willing to defend that freedom no matter what the cost," Norton said.

Unique among all other nations, the U.S. maintains a constant, inexhaustible effort to bring its lost home, granting closure to fractured families and honoring the promise to leave no man or woman behind even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

"We should take pride in the very notion that we live in a nation that will never forget the service and sacrifice of the men and women in uniform," Norton said. "And we will stop at nothing to find our brothers and sisters lost in service to their country."

Even as the assemblage dispersed and the POW/MIA flag - with its depiction of a gaunt silhouette, a length of barbed wire and a looming watchtower - was furled and tucked away, the search continues in deserts, jungles and oceans across the globe, spanning continents and bridging generations of brethren until the last comrade comes home.

Thurman Passes Command to Scaparrotti in Multi-Flag Ceremony

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

SEOUL, South Korea, Oct. 2, 2013 – Korean and American service members proudly carried the three flags signifying the change of command in South Korea from Army Gen. James D. Thurman to Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti here today.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, left, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, receives the battle colors from U.S. Army Gen. James D. Thurman during the U.S. Forces Korea change-of-command in Seoul, South Korea, Oct. 2, 2013. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The flags represented three commands all under one American officer. They snapped in a brisk wind under nearly cloudless skies as Thurman passed the flags of the United Nations Command, the Combined Forces Command and United States Forces Korea to Scaparrotti.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Korean Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, resided at the ceremony.
The ceremony was much like the commands themselves – joint and combined. Korean service members stood shoulder-to-shoulder with American soldiers.

The change of command followed the Security Consultative Talks hosted by South Korean leaders, and also celebrated 60 years of the signing of the U.S.-South Korean alliance.

“For 60 years our commitment to each other has [withstood] many hardships, weathered numerous changes in military and civilian leadership and has never waivered,” Dempsey said, after watching Thurman and Scaparrotti pass the flags.

The chairman noted that since 1953, the allies have endured “three generations of constant provocations together, and we’ve never backed down.”

American and South Korean troops have lived together, trained together and grown together. “Today, no one can doubt that if it becomes necessary to fight on the Korean peninsula, we will go together – Kapshi Kapshida,” Dempsey said.

“This is more than a partnership,” the general said. It’s a living and enduring alliance.”

The alliance is based on common values, mutual trust and a vision of a peaceful Korean peninsula, he added.

Dempsey praised Thurman as a man who puts people first and inspires trust. Thurman has worked tirelessly to increase the readiness of U.S. troops in Korea while improving South Korea command and control capabilities.

Scaparrotti “is smart and decisive. He cares about the mission and cares about his people. He knows the importance of building relationships and reinforcing trust,” the chairman said

West Virginia Air Guard crew honored for saving plane after bird strike

by Master Sgt. Matthew Hilborn
Air National Guard Readiness Center Public Affairs


10/2/2013 - NATIONAL HARBOR, Md -- Quick thinking and exemplary teamwork allowed an aircrew from the 167th Airlift Wing to land safely after their Air Force C-5 Galaxy aircraft sustained severe damage to its engines as a result of multiple bird strikes during takeoff.

The West Virginia Air National Guard members received the Earl T. Ricks Award during the 2013 Air Force Association's Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition here Sept. 16. The award recognizes Air National Guard personnel for outstanding airmanship.


Those honored were Air Force Lt. Col. Jonathan Goldstein, Capt. Ryan Hawk, 1st Lt. Samuel Harrison, Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Nicholson, Master Sgt. Michael Kalbfleisch, Master Sgt. Devin Paskewich, Tech. Sgt. Nicholas McFadden, Staff Sgt. Chad Witmer, Staff Sgt. Jordan Soltis and Senior Airman Jeremy Barr.
"Both the unit and other training really prepare you for these types of emergencies," said Master Sgt. Micheal Kalbfleisch, a 167th flight engineer who was part of the aircrew. "In fact, there is a simulation training scenario that we do once a year where you lose two of your engines and have to handle the situation."


The fully loaded aircraft departed April 19 from Navy Station Rota, Spain, en route to an Air Base in the Middle East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom when the incident occurred. The crew assessed the damage and was able take the appropriate actions saving themselves and the plane.


Col. Shaun Perkowski, the 167th Air Wing vice commander, said the unit is proud of the Airmen and how they handled themselves under duress.


"The way they worked together to safely land their crippled airplane was simply outstanding," Perkowski said. "It took great technical skill and knowledge, awesome leadership and a crew working together at their best."

Combat communications wing, group inactivate

by 2nd Lt. Meredith Hein
24th Air Force Public Affairs


9/30/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- The 689th Combat Communications Wing at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. deactivated September 30, along with the 3rd Combat Communications Group at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

With this change, the 5th Combat Communications Group at Robins will be the only active duty combat communications group in the U.S. Air Force.

The inactivations are the result of an evaluation of the need for combat communications. As aircraft operations are reduced worldwide, the need for aircraft support operations, including combat communications, is also diminished.

Commanders worked to examine how much combat communications capability they would need in the future to support airpower, closing several guard combat communications units in the process over the past five years.

The 3rd CCG, affectionately known as the "3rd Herd," was activated in South Ruislip, England in 1957 and has participated in every major military conflict since that time, as well as a large number of humanitarian missions.

The 5th CCG, or "the 5th Mob", is nearly identical to the 3rd CCG. It is a newer group, founded in 1964, and made up of about 750 Airmen in five squadrons who train, deploy and deliver communication, air traffic control and landing systems for humanitarian relief and dominant combat operations.

Combat communications are one of the first units involved in an operation, working to set up communication equipment in deployed, "bare base" environments. Over the last decade, these groups have supplied relief to such disasters as Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, Superstorm Sandy and the Moore, Okla., tornado in May. The 5th CCG was also the last communications unit to leave Iraq during the drawdown of American forces in 2011.

Col. Richard Folks II, the vice commander of the 689th, stated that despite the inactivation, the combat communication mission will remain strong. "We will continue to supply the capabilities that were provided by the 3rd and the 5th combat communications groups to ensure the same level of airpower protection."

The 750 Airmen who made up the 3rd CCG moved on to other bases, been reassigned, or retired or separated from the Air Force. Civilians were given priority placement by the Civilian Personnel Office in order to locate jobs at Tinker.

The wing has already been dismantled for the most part, with the wing commander leaves in June.

Activated in 2009, the 689th brought the 3rd and 5th groups together into one wing under the 24th Air Force, which conducts the full range of cyber operations missions for Air Force Space Command.

Closing the wing helps improve efficiency, as the 5th CCG will become a direct reporting unit under 24th Air Force, and the Air Force will avoid the cost of sustaining a separate wing.

Folks noted that the Air Force has "more reliance on the total force," to complete the combat communications mission, using reserve and Air National Guard units.

"There is no major difference between guard, reserve and active duty combat communications units," said Maj. Barry Roche, the commander of the 5th Combat Communications Support Squadron. "We all provide the same capabilities, just in different amounts."

Combat communications units currently re-shape their employment concepts, moving to a focus on smaller operations while retaining the capability to stand up communications for Air Expeditionary Wings when called upon during future conflicts.

"We will use the innovation technology provides to reduce manpower and our equipment footprint to accomplish the operation," said Folks. "The future of combat communications is to become a lighter, leaner and more capable force. We will use technology to be more efficient and as mobile as possible."

Selva challenges innovation at MacDill

by Senior Airman Melanie Bulow-Kelly
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


9/27/2013 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Gen. Paul J. Selva, Air Mobility Command commander, visited MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., to get a first-hand Airman perspective and find out what is important to them during a two-day tour Sept. 26-27.

Selva visited twice before, but this was his first opportunity to interact with Airmen and experience the mission at MacDill.

During his visit he took a boat ride along MacDill's coastline by 6th Security Forces Squadron marine patrol, a Hillsborough county sheriff's department helicopter ride, a boom simulator demonstration, a tour of the MacDill Resilience Center, a walk-thru of several squadrons, and an "all-call."

On Selva's agenda was spreading a message that detailed leadership's diligence to resolve budget issues, train Airmen, and provide a top-level perspective of the future of the force.

His top priority as commander is ensuring Airmen are resourced, equipped and trained to do the mission.

"We are going to be faced with some pretty tough challenges, but what we would ask you to do is throw all the resources you have at helping us solve those problems. I have already seen that alive and well right here at MacDill," said Selva.

"You have more Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century trained Airmen than any other base in our command. Not only are you trained, but you're using the skill...That's innovation, it's a discipline process and you're very good at it."

Selva ended his address by reiterating the need to work together, take care of our fellow Airmen and have a positive outlook for the future.

"I expect that you will take care of each other and respect each other as professional Airman," said Selva. "That is not an environment that just naturally grows from an organization, it's the product of good leadership, and it's a product of people in this room insisting on a relatively higher standard."

"Never let opportunities pass you by. I would like you to think about what your place is in this Air Force, from the youngest airman to the colonel lined up in the front. Our Air Force can only do what it does because of you," concluded Selva. "Your place in our institution is a building block to freedom; because of each of you, we are the best Air Force on the planet."

As commander of AMC, Selva leads 135,000 air mobility personnel, whose mission is to deliver unsurpassable, global air mobility support to joint partners, allied nations and fellow Americans in need by providing aerial refueling, airlift, special air mission and aeromedical evacuation.

C-17 maintainer awarded Purple Heart

62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

9/30/2013 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- An Airman from the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron was awarded the Purple Heart medal during a ceremony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Sept. 27.

Senior Airman Anthony Haupert, 62nd AMXS communications and navigation systems specialist, sustained injuries during a deployment last year to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, when the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft he was working on came under attack.

Haupert's actions during the attack helped prevent further damage to the aircraft, and potentially saved the lives of other military members in the area.

In the early morning of Aug. 22, 2012, under the cover of darkness with just a portable flood light illuminating their work area, Haupert and a team of maintenance personnel worked to replace the aircraft's radar dome, or radome.

Shortly after midnight, a 107 mm rocket exploded approximately 250 yards from where the team was working, forcing them to take cover inside the plane.

The Airmen realized that the enemy was using the illumination from the floodlight to target the aircraft and that they needed to quickly turn it off.

Haupert, along with Senior Airman Justin Wiliker, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron communications and navigation systems specialist, left the protection of the C-17 and ran to turn off the light.

Just as they turned off the light and started heading back to the aircraft, a second rocket exploded less than 50 yards away, knocking both Airmen to the ground and rendering Haupert unconscious. Wiliker picked up Haupert and carried him into the aircraft.

Back in the relative safety of the C-17, which itself sustained damage in the attack, the team began providing first aid to Haupert. Upon regaining consciousness, Haupert was transported to the hospital to be treated for head injuries.

"When the first mortar came over, I was caught off guard," Haupert said looking back at the incident. "We all ran for cover and it was then that I realized they were targeting the light cart. Shutting off the light became our main priority."

Haupert's supervisor, Tech. Sgt. Marco Alcala, 62nd AMXS element leader, attended the Purple Heart ceremony and commended Haupert's actions on that day.

"Airmen Haupert helped save the aircraft and the Airmen that were there," said Alcala. "He more than deserves this medal and I am proud to have worked with him and have him as part of our unit."

Haupert reflected on the events that occurred on the flight line night, and how things could have ended up much worse.

"Many receive the Purple Heart posthumously, so for me, to be standing here today with my wife, it's a very humbling experience," he said. "I never would have expected this to happen in my Air Force career."

The ceremony took place on Haupert's last duty day at McChord Field. He is scheduled to move to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., where he will begin training as a satellite command and control specialist.