Military News

Friday, October 18, 2013

New York's 'hire heroes' job fair attracts hundreds of vets and service members

By Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Drumsta
New York National Guard
Click photo for screen-resolution image
LATHAM, N.Y. (10/1813) - Opportunity rocked for American veterans and service members at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's "Hiring Our Heroes" job fair held at the New York National Guard armory here Oct. 16.

More than 200 veterans and service members of all ranks, stripes and services took the opportunity to meet with scores of potential employers such as Federal Express, General Electric, Time Warner Cable, National Grid and CVS Pharmacy stores, who were stationed at tables arranged around the armory floor.

The fair was also designed to allow National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, military Reserve members, active duty service members, veterans and military spouses to learn how to use job-hunting tools. General Electric held workshops on resume writing and interviewing in an armory classroom.
Veterans who served in Vietnam, the Gulf Wars and Afghanistan worked the floor for several hours, spoke with company representatives, learned about job openings, filled out applications and submitted resumes.

The New York National Guard has also hosted "Hiring Our Heroes" events across New York in Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, Farmingdale, Peekskill and Binghamton.

Veterans' job skills are almost too numerous to list, said Eric Eversole, executive director of the "Hiring Our Heroes" program and a U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president.

Among other things, veterans have work discipline and - most importantly -- the ability to solve problems, he emphasized.

"Each of you, as members of our military, have done that, day in and day out," Eversole said to the veterans who were on hand for the fair's opening at 10 a.m.

Eversole thanked the New York National Guard and Maj. Gen. Patrick Murphy, the adjutant general of New York, for hosting the event.

"Without the support of the National Guard, events like this would not be as successful as they could be," he said. "The support of the guard is integral to the events and the efforts to ensure vets and their spouses have meaningful job opportunities."

National Guard leaders also have the pulse of their communities, Eversole said.

"They understand, first hand, the sacrifices vets have made over the last decade," he stressed. "They also know that these vets make tremendous employees. They've solved problems in difficult situations. They know how to get the job done."

Thomas Lang, a Gulf War and navy veteran from Watervliet, N.Y., said he handed out 15 resumes, and he estimated that he spoke with about 30 company representatives.

"I lost count after five," he recalled.

The fair was a great opportunity, and a far cry from the experiences of returning Vietnam veterans, Lang said.

"The community recognizes the sacrifices we made," he said. "Today, veterans have more of a chance to succeed."

But veterans and others must learn how to adapt to changes, recognize opportunities and seize them, Lang said.

"You have to go out there and talk to people," he said. "Be open-minded, learn new things, don't dwell on the past. If you take care of today, the future will be written."

The event was co-sponsored by the New York National Guard, New York State Department of Labor, Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce, Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Employer Support of the Guard and reserve (ESGR), NBC News, the U.S. Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Service (DOL VETS), US Department of Veterans Affairs, and The American Legion.

National Guard engineers from four states continue Colorado highway repair

By Colorado National Guard Public Affairs
Click photo for screen-resolution image
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (10/18/13) - National Guard members from four states are continuing to support the Colorado Department of Transportation in repairing a 25-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 36 between Lyons, Colo., and Estes Park, Colo.

Approximately 200 National Guard Citizen-Soldiers or -Airmen are working on the project at any given time.

Because of the large scope of the project, National Guard engineering units from Colorado, Utah, Montana and Kansas are assisting.

National Guard engineers from Kansas arrived Oct. 16, and most of the Guardsmen from Utah are scheduled to depart Oct. 18.

"All of the states coming together to help Colorado's citizens during their time of need shows the value of the National Guard," said Adjutant General of Colorado Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards. "The National Guard is all about neighbors helping neighbors, and our neighbors from the Utah National Guard?, Montana National Guard? and Kansas National Guard? are here to assist with the manpower and technical expertise needed for a project of this size and scope."

The National Guard is working on 18 different project sites along the highway. Four sites have been completed and others are at various levels of completion. The National Guard's portion of the project is an estimated 55 percent complete.

The goal of this project is to create a passable, 24-foot, two-lane causeway that will allow passenger vehicles to get through the area, before the weather halts construction.

Since operations began in September, the multi-state, National Guard team has worked 7,150 man hours, placed 320 feet of culvert, and hauled 10,980 cubic yards of fill material.

"This mission couldn't be completed without the help of other states' National Guards," Edwards said. "This is a true testament of the flexibility and dedication of our members who continued with this essential project, without delay, even through the recent government shutdown."

Flood support by the numbers:

Evacuation totals:
During the Colorado flooding, the military members provided aviation support, ground search and rescue, traffic control points, engineering support, and many other services to affected communities.
A total of 3,233 people and an estimated 1,300 pets were evacuated by either military aircraft or military vehicles.

At the peak of flood evacuation operations, more than 750 troops, along with 21 helicopters, 200 military vehicles, 20 ground search-and-rescue teams, and 67 traffic-control points operated in support of lifesaving and protection efforts.

Aviation evacuation totals:
Helicopters and crews evacuated a total of 2,526 people - 83 by hoist - and 1,047 pets who were in immediate danger or cut off because of impassable roads in Boulder County, Larimer County and Weld County.

Aviators transported 48.3 tons of cargo, including critical food, water and clothing; as well as transportation and engineering supplies.

The Colorado National Guard provided nine helicopters and crews from the 2nd Battalion, 135th General Support Aviation at Buckley Air Force base in Aurora, Colo., and the High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training site in Gypsum, Colo.

The Wyoming National Guard provided five helicopters and crews from the 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment in Cheyenne, Wyo.

The U.S. Army provided seven helicopters and crews from the 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division.

Ground evacuation totals:
A total of 285 Colorado Notional Guard Soldiers and Airmen were assigned to ground search-and-rescue efforts. There were a total of 23 GSAR teams; a GSAR team consisted of three Light Medium Tactical vehicles and six Guardsmen.

Colorado National Guardsmen evacuated a cumulative 707 people and an estimated 300 pets by ground search-and-rescue efforts.

GSAR teams assisted local authorities in Boulder County (including the major effort in Lyons, Colo.), Weld County and Larimer County.

Colorado National Guardsmen filled, moved and stacked more than 12,000 sandbags in Jefferson County to help civil authorities mitigate flooding in affected areas.

Security totals:
At the peak of operations, Colorado National Guard members manned 67 checkpoints in Boulder County, Larimer County and Weld County. They assisted local authorities to ensure public safety and to protect property of those displaced by the floods.

More than 590 Soldiers and Airmen worked side-by-side with local authorities at traffic-control points and roving patrols in affected areas.

PACAF Airmen wrap up busy year

By Master Sgt. Matthew McGovern, Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

 JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AFNS) -- Throughout fiscal 2013, the key aspect of Pacific Air Forces was engagement as more than 45,000 Pacific Air Forces Airmen conducted a broad spectrum of operations, from humanitarian relief to decisive combat employment, in an area covering 13 time zones and 100 million square miles.

These operations began with the inactivation of 13th Air Force and the operationalization of the Headquarters PACAF Staff, as the Air Force established its benchmark component major command (C-MAJCOM). This unified structure gives PACAF dual focus: support to an operationalized staff across the range of military operations and performance of mandated duties of organizing, training, and equipping Airmen.

Throughout the year, PACAF Airmen expanded engagements, increased combat capability and improved warfighter integration by participating in more than 25 exercises and humanitarian operations throughout the region.

"Engagement is something we are doing every day across the Asia-Pacific region," said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Pacific Air Forces. "I cannot overstate the importance of working with our allies, partners and the international community to deter aggression and to maintain peace and stability in the region."

Operation Pacific Angel is an example of PACAF's expanded engagements, as more than 275 PACAF Airmen and joint service members joined host nation military and civilian forces, multilateral military, and non-governmental organizations in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam to promote regional humanitarian assistance and disaster relief interoperability.

The PACANGEL engagements included medical, dental, optometry, and engineering programs, as well as various subject-matter expert exchanges. More than 22,000 total patients were cared for in these countries and 15 structures such as schools or medical clinics were built or refurbished during these operations.

"Partnering in operations such as Pacific Angel enhances our ability to work together and effectively respond to humanitarian disaster relief and international peacekeeping operations," said Lt. Col. Keith Gibson, commander of Pacific Angel 13-2, from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Increased combat capability was another focus this year, as exercises such as Red Flag Alaska involved more than 110 aircraft and the participation of more than 5,200 personnel from the U.S. Air Force active duty, Reserve and Air National Guard, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and Marines, Singapore, Australia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. Three Red Flag multinational exercises occurred this year. The two week-long tactical air combat exercises replicated the stress warfighters face during their first 10 combat sorties of a conflict.

Expanding engagements as well as theatre security cooperation was also evident in early February as Cope North was in full swing. Participants from the U.S. Air Force, the Japan Air Self Defense Force and the Royal Australian Air Force focused on Large Force Employment scenarios, which enhanced the interoperability of 15 different airframes.

"During Cope North, we are able to facilitate an environment, in coordination with our international partners, which allows us to share information to decision makers," said Lt. Col. Michael Erickson, 962d Airborne Air Control Squadron commander. "This provides those on the ground and in the air the best possible situational awareness."

Besides exercises, multi-national leadership visits and exchanges also increased the situational awareness and solidified partnerships. Lt. Gen. Cha-Kyu Choi, Republic of Korea, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, visited PACAF headquarters in November to discuss ways to further improve support and cooperation between our nations' air forces.

Another significant meeting was the first-ever Medical Acupuncture and Battlefield Medicine Subject Matter Expert Exchange in Beijing, China Oct. 21-27. U.S. Air Force medical physicians attended at the invitation of China's People Liberation Army to help U.S.-China militaries increase mutual trust and understanding while sharing practices in traditional Chinese medicine.

In addition, General Carlisle hosted a 14-member Chinese People's Liberation Army of China delegation as part of an agreed upon reciprocal visit between Chinese and American military officers. During their visit, the Chinese officers received a briefing from General Carlisle on PACAF's priorities, and toured a C-17 Globemaster III.

The year closed with General Carlisle representing PACAF along with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, meeting with People's Liberation Army Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Li Chunchao, in Beijing, China, Sept. 24. The U.S. Air Force leaders visited with various military leaders in China as well as tour the Chinese Air Force Aviation Medicine Research Institute as part of a weeklong trip.

Working with our allies and partners to expand engagement is crucial to PACAF's responsibilities in the Department of Defense's largest area of responsibility.

Throughout this past fiscal year and into the next, PACAF has and will continue to work together with established allies and partners, to help build their confidence, improve combined interoperability, disrupt proliferation and provocations, and solidify joint access during contingencies and/or for throughput to critical locations across the Asia-Pacific region.

Luke EOD blows it up

by Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/18/2013 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The sun blazed down as they hiked and climbed through the rough terrain. As the search for improvised explosive devices continued they were forced into a defensive stance, firing at enemy targets.

The 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit participated in predeployment training Sept. 17 through 20 at the Barry M. Goldwater Range in Southwest Arizona.

"This training is vital to the safety of our team and the success of our deployed missions," said Capt. Justin Schultz, 56th CES EOD commander. "Our ability to detect IEDs is critical to the safety of countless deployed service members all over the globe."

The unit trained on TNT, Semtex, C-4 and other explosives, and then split into three teams. The teams went into predeployment exercises designed to mimic dismounted operations in Afghanistan. The scenarios included disarming and disposal of IEDs.

Each scenario presented its own challenges such as simulated enemy combatants, steep terrain and inaccessible IEDs that were handled manually instead of by an explosives robot.

"It's important for our team to get training in all these scenarios because they are all real possibilities when downrange," said Senior Airman Timothy Donnan, 56th CES EOD team member who planned and organized the training. "We want our Airmen to be the best prepared professionals so they can do their part to save lives and ensure a successful mission."

Throughout the training, EOD members slept in tents and cots and ate MREs for all meals. The munitions that were set were connected to 50-caliber bullets that would be set off if the ordnance was triggered.

"We made it as realistic as possible," Schultz said. "The idea is for them to learn to be successful here, so they make it home from their real-life deployments."

At 'tip of spear,' passion keeps pilots sharp

by Staff Sgt. Luther Mitchell
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/18/2013 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- It's a dark night over Baghdad. Storm clouds rumble with the sound of thunder. In poor weather, Air Force pilots move in to escort a navy strike package, dodging surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery fire, wondering whether they will make it back alive.

This is part of the job for Air Force fighter pilots, but a love for the job and good training keep pilots ready to fight.

Lt. Col. Shamsher Mann, 62nd Fighter Squadron commander, has been flying F-16s for more than 15 years. He said his mother told him he was playing with airplanes before he could talk. He had two dream careers, either become a fighter pilot or play in the National Football League. Mann chose to focus on being a fighter pilot. He said it was a good thing that the first career choice worked out since career choice two was never going to happen.

"I love my job," Mann said. "I've had the opportunity to fly all over the world and go to combat in the F-16. It's been exciting and rewarding."

Mann, who played football in high school, compares flying jets to being good at a sport. Pilots train every day just like athletes, so when it's time to perform a mission they're ready.

Mann deployed to Iraq for Operation Northern Watch, Operation Southern Watch and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He describes his first combat mission with gut-wrenching detail.

"It was intense," Mann said. "You spend years training for combat scenarios and the first time you go into hostile territory, it's like wrapping up all the emotions you've ever felt -- love, hate, fear, anger -- all at once and magnifying them a thousand times. Your heart is beating a thousand beats per minute."

Pilots spend three to seven hours in the air or sometimes even more flying combat sorties. They receive taskings from the ground and are continuously on the hunt for the enemy. Jets are refueled in flight, targets are updated and munitions are put on targets until none are left.

During combat operations, pilots must be calm and calculating while dealing with the intensity of being in combat. This means maintaining the highest level of personal readiness.

"We mentally rest, stay in good physical condition and eat right," said Maj. Derek Pegg, 62nd FS assistant director of operations. "We really don't know how long we're going to be airborne. We must mentally get ourselves in gear and define what it is we're going to accomplish."

Stakes are high when flying a $30 million aircraft into combat and getting shot at, Mann said. It's mentally and physically straining, but pilots constantly prepare.

"Pilots go through survival, evasion, resistance and escape training, and have very specific plans for how to evade the enemy or what to do if they are captured by the enemy in combat," he said.

Being a fighter pilot sometimes means having to put bombs on target. It's a matter of life and death, kill or be killed, and is a fact pilots must accept.

"Knowing you are putting ordnance toward the earth, you accept that fact as part of war," Mann said. "There are people on the ground shooting at you or maybe friendly troops, and both of you are trying to get the other first. It's a matter of one being successful and the other not. When the nation says it is time to go to war, all hesitation needs to go by the wayside. You reflect on missions in quiet times, but I've never had any regrets."

Mann has described his most intense missions as almost spiritual experiences and says they gave him confidence that his priorities in life were right. His advice to young pilots is to fly with a zeal.

"Fly fighters like an athlete approaches his sport, with passion," Mann said. "You want to be a good fighter pilot and learn from your mistakes. You can't treat it like a nine-to-five job. Our training prepares us for the mechanics of flying fighters, but to be a good fighter pilot you have to put in passion and effort."

Airmen check engines, save millions

by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Raughton
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs


10/17/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Every time the B-52H Stratofortress takes off, eight engines battle intense heat, wind, pressure and foreign object damage to get the 488,000 pound behemoth aloft.

Altogether, are more than 216 B-52H Stratofortress engines on Barksdale and five Airmen from the 2nd Maintenance Squadron are responsible for maintaining each one.

This includes monitoring engine flight hours and maintenance, trending engine data over time to determine recurring problems, and coordinating engine investigations and overhauls with Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

"Every time there's a sortie and engines are operated and flown in flight, pilots fill out an engine performance sheet which has all of the engine parameters," said Tech. Sgt. William Cheese, 2nd Maintenance Squadron engine trending and diagnostics monitor. "After the sortie debriefing, I'll compile and trend the data."

Trending engine data allows the engine management shop to document an engine's ongoing behavior in flight or problems the engine has had in the past.

Every 6,000 flight hours, the engine is shipped to Tinker, for an overhaul, which replaces most components with new ones. An engine may also be shipped to Tinker for other reasons.

"Some things we can fix here on the flightline," said Cheese. "But as far as taking the entire engine apart, that happens at Tinker. We'll ship any motor or engine with internal damage or part failure and then issue a spare."

To prevent a costly $1.5 million replacement, engines are also inspected at regular intervals.

"There are phase inspections every 450 flight hours," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Percy, 2nd Maintenance Squadron base engine manager. "It's when the engine is inspected for its condition to see if its parts are maintaining their integrity or becoming worn down."

Parts may become damaged or worn down by more than an engine surpassing recommended flight hour limits. FOD remains a real threat to turbines and can cause malfunctions.

"The turbine blades have to withstand a lot of heat and stress and if they aren't changed in time, they'll break down," Percy said. "A piece of FOD can get inside the blades of the engine. At Tinker, an investigation will be done to find out the source of the FOD."

In case of an engine failure or malfunction, engine management also maintains a number of spare engines while the damaged unit is repaired at Tinker.

"We need those spare engines," Cheese said. "We want to have two right-hand motors and two left-hand motors at all times. The B-52 is an older aircraft but if an engine problem arises, we're the Airmen who have to keep the mission going."

Elite gate guards maintain professionalism day in, day out

by Senior Airman Sean Martin
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs


10/17/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.  -- The 2nd Security Forces Squadron recently created an elite gate guard section consisting of 40 hand-selected Airmen who exemplify professionalism and adherence to the Air Force core values.

Barksdale is one of only a few bases around the Air Force that has done so.

"What sets us aside from regular Airmen is that everything we do is crisp and done with excellence every time; from the salute, to our appearance, to our posture at the gate," said Senior Airman Deon Abdullah, 2nd SFS elite gate guard. "We want to show no flaw as people come through the gate so they know the gates and the base are being manned by true professionals."

Elite gate guards are the first people someone sees when they arrive at the base.

"Making a first impression is one of the most important things you do and it can never be taken back," said Tech. Sgt. Nicholous Banks, 2nd SFS elite gate guard NCO in-charge. "As elite gate guards, we are the faces of Barksdale."

Professionalism is something that is instilled in every Airman from day one of Basic Military Training and elite gate guards are no exception.

"To be professional, you need to be humble, respectful and disciplined," said Deon. "Professionalism is not a clock-in and clock-out kind of thing, it is a 24/7 type of thing and takes discipline to be able to learn. You also have to maintain a positive attitude and show that to each person no matter the rank."

The wingman concept within the elite gate guards is a way for them to always have someone there to make sure they are squared away no matter the time of day or shift they are on.

"The wingman concept can never be over emphasized," said Deon. "For example, during the nights when there may not be a car for hours and all you have is your wingman, this is the time you should use to check each other's uniform, ensure your post is in order and to keep each other alert."

The Air Force core values play a big part into how the elite gate guards are expected to act.

"Excellence in all we do is very important to everyone, but especially us," said Nicholous. "The core values are called core because you build off them. If you can't understand these basic building blocks of the Air Force, then you are not going to be able to get the important stuff done right."

Excellence means showing up to work on time, wearing the uniform properly and being prepared for duty with the right mindset and performing those duties to the absolute best of one's ability, said Nicholous.

"Being the best we can be is something that we strive for day in and day out," said Deon. "Each and every person in this unit is strictly dedicated, highly motivated and are ready to meet any kind of challenge to the best of our abilities."

9th SFS conducts pilot-rescue exercise

by Staff Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo
9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs


10/18/2013 - BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Airmen from the 9th Security Forces Squadron conducted a pilot-rescue exercise at Dragon Town here, Oct. 9.

The scenario involved the simulated downing of a U.S. aircraft and the capture of the pilots by opposition forces.

With the aid of Air Force contractors, security forces Airmen were tasked with recovering the downed pilots.

The rescue team conducted a recovery operation in a simulated village while using Beale's MC-12W Liberty aircraft to provide tactical reconnaissance.

"The (MC-12) is our eyes in the sky. It allows our ground forces a real-time view of the battle space," said Capt. John Hart, 9th SFS commander. "Our defenders were able to utilize this cutting-edge technology just like they would in a deployed location."

Once in the village, the rescue team was engaged by opposition forces with simulation and blank rounds.

Air Force contractors with real-world recovery operation experience demonstrated proper movements, communication and tactics.

"There is no substitution for first-hand knowledge," said Staff Sgt. Kirsten Bradley, 9th SFS trainer. "Our Airmen received training straight from subject matter experts."

According to Hart, the exercise highlighted security forces' ability to execute outside-the-wire missions.

"Current conflicts require our Airmen to go outside the wire and bring the fight to the enemy," Hart said. "This training is essential."

Master Sgt. Damien Larche, 9th SFS NCO in charge of training, emphasized the importance of the training.

"Having the opportunity to simulate a scenario our Airmen may encounter downrange is time well spent," Larche said. "The knowledge gained from this exercise is vital."

Special Ops Command Seeks Prototypes for ‘Iron Man Suit'

By David Vergun
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18, 2013 – U.S. Special Operations Command wants its operators to be protected with what it informally calls an “Iron Man suit,” named after the fictional superhero.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
An artist's rendering of what the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit might look like with its desired capabilities. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency courtesy graphic
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
In September, Socom announced it is seeking proposals for prototypes of the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS.

The goal of TALOS is to provide ballistic protection to Special Operations Forces, along with fire-retardant capability, said Michel Fieldson, TALOS lead for Socom.

"We sometimes refer to it as the ‘Iron Man’ suit, frankly, to attract the attention, imagination and excitement of industry and academia," Fieldson said. "We're hoping to take products we're developing in several technology areas and integrating them into a consolidated suit to provide more protection for the [special operations forces]."
Other technologies include sensors, communications, energy and material that can store and release energy to prevent injuries and increase performance.

Materials that can store and release energy might be similar to the Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis, now used by some wounded warriors for lower-leg injuries. So TALOS could benefit wounded warriors too, Fieldson said.

The Homeland Security Department and firefighters have expressed an interest in this technology as well, he said, and it eventually might become available for other service members.

"Our goal right now is to try to get the word out and bring industry partners together," Fieldson said. The technologies that will go into the suit’s development are varied, he said, so it is unlikely one contractor would be able to specialize in the entire ensemble.

The traditional approach, Fieldson said, was to pick a prime contractor, usually a traditional defense partner, give them the design requirements and let them come up with the solution. That would take a long time, he noted.

"In this case, the government will be the lead integrator, and we'll look to work with traditional or nontraditional partners in industry and academia who are innovative," he said. "We'll leave no stone unturned."

The goal, he said, is to begin integrating capabilities over the next 12 months and have the first suit ready for full field testing in four to five years.

Fieldson thinks TALOS will become a reality because it protects the warfighters and has the backing of Socom's commander, Navy Adm. William H. McRaven.

"I'm very committed to this," McRaven said to industry representatives at a July 8 TALOS demonstration in Tampa, Fla. "I'd like that last operator that we lost to be the last one we ever lose in this fight or the fight of the future, and I think we can get there.

"I'm committed to this," he continued. "At the end of the day, I need you and industry to figure out how you are going to partner with each other to do something that's right for America."

Hagel, Romania's Defense Chief Reach Significant Agreements

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with Romania's Minister of Defense Mircea Dusa today at the Pentagon, a meeting that produced a number of significant agreements, which Pentagon Spokesman George Little said will enhance the strong and productive partnership the U.S. enjoys with Romania.

Among the agreements reached Little said, is for Romania to support logistics in and out of Afghanistan, including both personnel and cargo movement.

"Secretary Hagel praised this agreement, which is particularly important as the U.S. prepares to wind down transit center operations at Manas, Kyrgystan next year," Little said in a statement issued after the meeting. "Secretary Hagel highlighted this agreement as a further testament to Romania's steadfast commitment to the ISAF mission and its commitment to regional and international security," he added.
In addition, Little said Hagel thanked Romania for its decision to host the Aegis Ashore missile defense system, emphasizing that the agreement reaffirms and strengthens the collective defense upon which NATO was founded.  "This system represents an important component of the larger European Phased Adaptive Approach and is expected to be operational in 2015."  At Hagel's direction, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Dr. James N. Miller will attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the Aegis Ashore system at Deveselu later this month.

Little said Hagel further praised Romania's decision to purchase 12 F-16 aircraft from Portugal. He added that this significant investment in air superiority capabilities will open the door for greater regional collaboration and will be valuable to future NATO and coalition operations.

"Secretary Hagel reaffirmed that Romania is one of the United States' staunchest allies. The two leaders also agreed to look for ways to expand our strong military cooperation as well as to support Romania's efforts to become a leader in the region and in NATO."

Airman escapes adversity for shot at new life

By Airman 1st Class John Nieves Camacho, 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. (AFNS) -- One Airman underwent the toughest challenge of her life in 2007, transitioning from her native background to a land she never imagined.

After spending the first 15 years of her life in Bogota, Colombia, Airman 1st Class Andrea Spanjer, 4th Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental engineer, left her family and friends to escape adverse living conditions and start down a new path in Federal Way, Wash., a small town south of Seattle.

"It was hard to leave when I had many friends and most of my family in Colombia," Spanjer said. "I was already halfway through my ninth-grade year and when I came to America I had to do it all over again."

Spanjer enrolled in a new school where she didn't know anyone, was unfamiliar with the surrounding area and couldn't speak the primary language.

"It was really hard adjusting in America, especially interacting," Spanjer said. "I didn't know that much English and tried communicating to people with hand gestures. My stepfather helped me in his spare time to learn the language."

For Spanjer, learning English was a challenge as it wasn't an essential tool in Colombia.

"I thought learning English was unnecessary," she said. "Nobody in my family spoke English, and everything around me was in Spanish, like the music we listened to and the shows we watched on television."

Although she struggled, Spanjer said she eventually learned to speak and understand a fair amount of English, through multiple helping agencies.

"In school there was a class offered called English as a second language and that is where I made most of my progress," Spanjer recalled. "My aunt got me a tutor who would come over to help me every weekend for about two hours. I also had friends who helped me when they could."

Once Spanjer reached 12th-grade, she took an Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps class, which she said propelled her interest into joining the Air Force.

Shortly after graduating high school, Spanjer enlisted in the Air Force. She embarked on her journey to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, for Basic Military Training (BMT).

"BMT wasn't so hard after the first week," Spanjer recalled. "At first I didn't talk to many people because I am shy and wasn't comfortable communicating fluently in English, but after a while people in my flight realized that and helped me when I needed it."

Upon her graduation from BMT, Spanjer received her citizenship during the Airman's coin ceremony. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services established naturalization, the process in which citizenship is granted to non-citizens after fulfilling certain requirement, at basic training in August 2009. The process includes a recording of identifiable traits, a 10-question exam, a naturalization interview, and the administration of the Oath of Allegiance.

"Getting my citizenship was an overwhelming feeling," said Spanjer. "It was a great accomplishment in my life and my family being there made it perfect."
Following BMT, Spanjer went to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, for her technical training in the bioenvironmental career field. There she learned the aspects of her job and how to accomplish daily tasks. Afterwards, she reported to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base for her first duty assignment where she is currently serving as a bioenvironmental engineer.

"She's very unique, always happy and brings good morale to the flight," said Staff Sgt. Sherring Goodwin, 4th AMDS NCO in-charge of environmental surveillance. "She thinks outside the box and she's a great asset to the Air Force. You learn a lot from new people from different places, and she's taught us a lot. She's on top of her job and she makes sure she does it to the best of her ability."

Spanjer said she is proud of her heritage and appreciates Hispanic Heritage Month and all those who pay respect to it. During the month, she said she got together with fellow Colombian friends to eat and drink Hispanic foods, and share stories from their past.

Spanjer said she plans to continue her Air Force career, expand her education and look toward a bright future, while never forgetting where she came from.

Barksdale, community enjoy long partnership

by Tech. Sgt. Mike Andriacco
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs


10/17/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- In 1931, construction began on what would one day become Barksdale Air Force Base, but the Shreveport and Bossier City communities' close relationship with and support of the military began long before.

As early as 1924, a group of prominent civic leaders began looking for a location to host a new military installation and began a tradition of partnership that continues to this day.

Today, Barksdale and its neighbors rely on each other for everything from financial support to employment. The spouses and dependents of Barksdale Airmen often find work in the local community and many Bossier City and Shreveport citizens are employed by the base.

According to the base's last economic impact statement, Barksdale employs 4,445 civilians. In turn, the community helps support more than 6,000 dependents with employment opportunities, medical care and recreation, which is often mutually beneficial. Many Airmen also take the opportunity to volunteer and support off base nonprofit organizations and events.

Three local organizations that stay heavily involved in supporting the base are the Military Affairs Council and the Shreveport and Bossier City Chambers of Commerce.

"We are a diverse organization that has one goal in mind; to support the men and women that defend this country and to honor the sacrifices they and their families make every day," said Kathi Smith, MAC executive director.

In her role with the MAC, Smith keeps her finger on the pulse of the military and civilian community partnership and attends regular meetings on base to make sure the MAC is able to support the base as needed. Barksdale also has regular representatives at local chambers of commerce meetings.

"The Military Affairs Council participates in several events throughout the year," Smith said. "We recently sponsored Celebrate Barksdale, our annual picnic to express the community's collective appreciation to the men and women who serve while stationed at the base."

The MAC has assisted with Barksdale's annual air show by helping fund civilian acts, publicity and other special needs to supplement military demonstration teams and static displays in an effort to draw as many civilian guests to the event as possible. But their support does not end there.

"The MAC also supports awards that recognize and encourage Airmen for a job well done," Smith added. "Modest cash gifts and MAC coins are given at the wing level to monthly, quarterly, and annual award recipients as a token of our community's appreciation for excellence in service."

MAC members come from all walks of life, some of them former military themselves.

"The MAC membership is comprised of civic leaders, business owners and retirees, both military and civilian," Smith said.

She herself is a prior active duty Airman, retiring after more than 30 years of service at the rank of chief master sergeant.

The chambers of commerce also sponsor events for Barksdale's Airmen. Upcoming events sponsored by the Bossier City Chamber of Commerce's Military Relations Committee include a semi-annual career fair, members and military bowling tournament, the preferred military merchant program, the annual patriot awards ceremony and several military education seminars.

The organization also champions for quality of life improvements for Bossier Parish's military families through advocacy to the business community, in addition to encouraging social interaction between the civilian and military communities.

"The Bossier Chamber values our partnership with Barksdale Air Force Base and we consider it an honor to be able to give back to these Airmen who truly exemplify Service Before Self," said Monique Roux, the chamber's director of business development and military relations liaison. "Our goal is to improve the quality of life for the Airmen and their families to make their time at Barksdale a great experience."

The MRC makes sure Airmen know what services the group offers as soon as they arrive on base; briefing them at the base's Right Start and Air Force Global Strike Spouses' orientations.

After more than 80 years of existing side-by-side, the relationship between Barksdale Air Force Base and its surrounding communities remains as strong and vibrant as ever, thanks in no small part for the efforts of community organizations and the Airmen who make it a point to participate as active community members, both on and off base.