Monday, October 21, 2013

Joint Task Force-Bravo provides medical care to more than 900 in Honduras

by U.S. Army Sgt. Courtney Kreft
Joint Task Force-Bravo Medical Element

10/19/2013 - SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element (MEDEL) partnered with Honduran nationals to provide medical care in the Department of Comayagua during a recent medical readiness exercixe (MEDRET).

More than 900 people in the Las Liconas and El Cirulo villages took advantage of preventive medical services such as immunizations, basic gynecology, medications, and some minor medical procedures provided.

"Missions like this give us a chance to give back to the local communities and allows us to strengthen our skills as medical professionals and as soldiers," said Sgt. 1st Class Deborah Jones, MEDRETE official.

JTF-Bravo and the Honduran military, along with the Honduran Ministry of Health and the San Pedro Sula Medical School, also offered classes on hygiene, nutrition, and preventative dental care.

"This exercise gave our medical team a chance to work with our Honduran counterparts, both civilian and military,  and to build our relationship with the host nation population," said U.S. Army Capt. Yasmin Alter, mission commander.

Since October 2012, Joint Task Force-Bravo has conducted five MEDRETES in Honduras and provided medical care to more than 5,000 Hondurans. Along with the Offices of Security Cooperation and partner nation Department of Health officials in all seven Central American countries, JTF-Bravo treated more than 11,000 patients last year.

Joint Task Force-Bravo conducts MEDRETEs throughout Central America each year in support of U.S. Southern Command's humanitarian and disaster relief programs in order to strengthen civil-military cooperation between the United States and nations in the region.

SERE NCOs keep McConnell Airmen trained

by Airman 1st Class Victor J. Caputo
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

10/18/2013 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan.  -- In order to achieve Global Reach, the aircrew of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing and 931st Air Refueling Group must not only accomplish the mission, but to also be prepared for the worst case scenario.

They must be able to survive, evade, resist and escape, and two SERE NCOs here aim to keep McConnell Airmen ready for anything.

"We provide code of conduct continuation for all the aircrew at McConnell," said Staff Sgt. John Michels, 22nd Operations Support Squadron SERE specialist.

All Air Force aircrew go through an initial SERE training course at Fairchild AFB, Wash., during initial training, but they are required to remain up-to-date on the training throughout their careers.

"When they get here, they have to maintain their currency and maintain the skills they already have," said Tech. Sgt. Justin Watters, 22nd OSS SERE NCO in charge. "We tailor those skills to their specific mission sets, aircraft and equipment."

"One thing we try to focus on here, because of the mission, is a lot of urban evasion," said Michels.

The unique mission of the KC-135 means crash landing and long-term evasion are not top concerns for McConnell aircrew. Instead, possible detention on a runway and frequent questioning with possible anti-American sentiment is what a lot of training covers, he said.

In addition to ground and water survival training, Watters and Michels also teach a week-long Army combatives course and offer personnel recovery operation support training and environmental threat analysis for different units on base.

"Ultimately, what we're looking to see is that they've retained some of those skills," said Watters. "We're trying to make sure they can execute what they already have and that they're building upon those skills."

While much of the training offered by SERE is aircrew-centric, Michels emphasized that it's not just for pilots and other "flyers," and Airmen desiring additional pre-deployment training are more than welcome to contact the SERE office.

"I hope anyone who comes through here walks away with the skills required to survive, evade, resist exploitation and escape if the situation dictates," said Michels.

3rd Wing redeploys from Southwest Asia

by Air Force 1st Lt. Matthew Chism
JBER Public Affairs

10/21/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The 3rd Wing's 525th Fighter Squadron deployed to the Central Command area of responsibility to relieve its sister squadron, the 90th Fighter Squadron, also located at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The swap-out of fifth generation aircraft took place after five months of supporting combat operations in Southwest Asia.

Air Force Lt. Col. Nicholas Reed, 90th FS Commander, said though a unit replacing itself is uncommon, 3rd Wing units are well prepared to do so.

"We train for this," Reed said. "Part of our capability is to be able to move at a moment's notice into not necessarily a robust environment and immediately start performing our mission. A lot of times, it makes it easier if you are working with a sister squadron."
Flying is readily associated with providing air dominance for good reason. But the work of maintenance crews is just as crucial to deployed success.

While deployed, the maintainers averaged a 96 percent pass rate in the Expeditionary Maintenance Group's Quality Assurance Program. The QA program tracks maintenance performance against metrics to improve efficiency, production and reliability. The unit's "Outstanding" effort, as rated by the expeditionary group, culminated with the 90th Aircraft Maintenance Unit winning 12 expeditionary maintenance awards.

"The maintainers did an amazing job," said Air Force Capt. Ron Poe, 3rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Operations Officer. "They demonstrated through execution; now they can bring that level of competency back to the unit."

Maintenance units focus on the readiness of the aircraft to fly - the health of the fleet - Poe said, adding that the awards are excellent indicator the unit is accomplishing its core function.

"By performing outstanding maintenance, we're providing a better product to our operators so they can do their mission," Poe added. "It's a daily focus of keeping the mission in mind. Through effective scheduling and a strong focus on operator safety, you're able to improve the health of the fleet."

More than 150 Airmen and civilians from JBER deployed to Southwest Asia with the 525th and the 90th fighter squadrons. This included members from the 3rd Maintenance Group, 3rd Munitions Squadron, 673d Logistics Readiness Squadron, 673d Security Forces Squadron and 477th Fighter Wing.

"Regardless of capability, a 3rd Wing squadron cannot deploy on its own," said Air Force Col. David Nahom, 3rd Wing commander. "The technical expertise and dedicated support of our Total Force Integration and JBER partners are critical to our mission success."

This marks the third time in a year an F-22 Raptor unit with maintenance and support personnel from the 3rd Wing has left in support of a Theater Security Package deployment. TSP deployments demonstrate the wing's continued commitment to security and regional stability, while allowing units to train with international partners. The F-22s compiled more than 90 combat flying hours and 430 combat training missions during the deployment.

"They are very respectful of what the F-22 can do and what it symbolizes," Reed said. "It symbolizes a huge U.S. presence and care for what is going on in that region."

"I am extremely proud of the phenomenal job the 3rd Wing team, along with our partners, did while deployed and we are thrilled to have them back home," Nahom added. "Their hard work and dedicated delivery of combat airpower was essential to the strategic battle space and was highly praised by the CENTCOM commander."

Army National Guard’s first sergeant major runs Army 10-Miler on 80th birthday

By Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau
Click photo for screen-resolution image
ARLINGTON, Va. (10/21/13) - More than 35,000 runners took part in the 29th Annual Army 10-Miler Sunday marking the biggest turnout for the run in its nearly 30-year history. But, for one runner taking part in the event, it marked a different sort of milestone.
For retired Command Sgt. Maj. Al Hunt Jr., who from 1976-1978 served as the first sergeant major of the Army National Guard, the day also marked his 80th birthday. To mark the occasion, Hunt ran this year's course with Command Sgt. Maj. Brunk W. Conley, the current sergeant major of the Army Guard, as well as Soldiers assigned to the Army National Guard Readiness Center.

"Today is my 80th birthday," Hunt said after the race. "I ran ten miles and I finished. It's an experience that everybody needs to challenge themselves."

Hunt finished the course in just under three hours, but it wasn't his first time taking part in the 10-Miler. In 1994 he ran in the 10th 10-Miler and has also taken part in a number of marathons as well.  Running, for Hunt, goes back more than six decades.

"I started running in high school to become part of a team that could challenge you both physically and mentally," he said.  "It also provided individual measurements of one's limits."

And testing your limits was one of the reasons Hunt said he chose to run in this year's 10-Miler. Age alone presented Hunt with limits to test, made even more challenging, many may say, as Hunt is visually impaired and legally blind.

"When you're hearing impaired or visually impaired you don't ever let that stop you," Hunt said. "You can overcome."

Hunt, however, said there were others who kept him motivated.

"The people that really inspired me were the wounded warriors," he said. "I mean, they're coming back with limbs missing. It's just a generation of "you can do anything." All you have to do is just step out and do it."

Hunt said that this was his way of stepping out and doing it. 

"You see all these people around you and they're doing things with no limbs," he said. "They're accomplishing something so I figured I might be blind, I might be deaf but I'm gonna do it. "
It also represented a homecoming of sorts for Hunt.

"My kids used to run with me. When I was stationed here at the Pentagon and lived on Fort Myer, we used to run these same bridges and around all these monuments," he said. "It was a challenge to come back here and do it again."

It was also a homecoming in other ways as well.

"It means that I had returned and experienced running with a team and that's what the Guard is all about," he said.

And for Conley, it was a chance to reconnect with the Army Guard's past as a way to shape the future.
"The back of the (Army Guard 10-Miler) shirt says 'a tradition of excellence,' but excellence has to start with the first," said Conley. "You can't start until the first gets the ball rolling in the right direction. You're looking at where excellence started. Everybody that has followed on since then has built on that tradition of excellence."

And watching Hunt take part and complete the event, for some, served as a way to inspire that tradition of excellence in others.

"They say running is 90 percent mental, and I strongly believe that," said Army Capt. Emilygrace Mate, who headed up the 10-Miler teams and the Army Guard's participation in the event. "I think it's a tremendous feat what he just did and gives us the motivation, especially for those of us that aren't runners, to go out next year and run. I think it's tremendous that he came out here and ran and set the standard for everyone."

This year's event also saw a large turnout for runners from the Army Guard.

"We had 2,025 runners registered, last year we had 1,500 registered, so that was a big increase for us this year," said Mate, adding that the Guard also had two teams - one male team and one female team - running the 10-Miler competitively with both teams taking second place in their respective divisions.
And for Hunt, it all comes back to preparing for and accepting the challenge.

I started (preparing for the 10-Miler) in December because you need to at least do 10 months preparation," said Hunt, who previously coached both child and adult runners. "You can't just go out and start running. Even at that pace and that amount of training I still had muscle cramps but that's just normal. You get to a certain age and you just expect that to happen. But, you just don't quit. That's what this is all about."

And Conley, the tenth Army Guard sergeant major, said he has similar challenge in mind.
"I hope that when I'm 80 I can run with the 20th sergeant major of the Army Guard," he said.
The chance to run with Hunt was an exceptional experience, said Conley.

"It was a pleasure. It was an honor," he said.

New system helps Porters cut load times

by Staff Sgt. Patrick Harrower
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

10/18/2013 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- While there is nothing the Airmen at Travis can do to stop an earthquake, tsunami or hurricane, there is one element they are in total control of; the response time of Air Mobility Command aircraft and its assets.

The 60th Aerial Port Squadron unveiled a new Deployable Automated Cargo Measurement System Oct. 10 here. The new system cuts the average time it takes porters to weigh and measure a vehicle from 20 or 30 minutes to less than 1 minute. That equates to less time military and emergency response vehicles need to spend on base before they can get to the scene of the disaster and begin assistance.

"I wish we had a system like this back in 1995," said Richard Salek, 60th APS cargo operations foreman. "I was stationed at Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, and we had to send over 1,000 vehicles to Bosnia. It took ages to accomplish, but this system would have been great."

Before the 60th APS had the DACMS, each vehicle had to be parked, weighed, measured and labeled before it could be loaded onto an aircraft. With the new system, a vehicle doesn't even have to stop rolling to get all of the same metrics, said Tech Sgt. Arthur Lavoie, 60th APS cargo deployment function NCO in charge.

As a vehicle is driven through, lasers first measure the length, width and height of it and any trailers or cargo that may be attached. Then, without stopping, it is driven over the scales which find the center-of-balance, gross weight and axle weights. A label is then printed out with everything the porters need to know about the vehicle, he said.

"This system, while not new to mobility operations, is a massive victory for Travis porters who work all hours of the day, in any weather condition, to process cargo and load our aircraft," said Col. Mark Weber, 60th Maintenance Group commander. "Before this, our process had customers waiting in long mobility lines as one piece of equipment at a time rolled slowly through the manual Joint Inspection. It wasn't a system flaw, just the reality of the human process. With this specific upgrade we have modernized to the point where we will now be waiting for the customers. Simply awesome."

The system has already been put to use for a real-world mission to move a C-17 Globemaster III engine to Hawaii. Porters were able to get all the metrics on the engine and get it out to an aircraft to be loaded in just minutes, Salek said.