Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rodriguez Calls Partnerships Central to Africom Efforts

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2013 – Five years since it was established as the Defense Department’s newest geographic combatant command, U.S. Africa Command continues to build the partnerships that promote regional capability and a coordinated focus on the African continent, Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez, Africom’s commander, said yesterday.

Partnerships -- multinational and interagency -- are the centerpiece of everything Africom does, Rodriguez told reporters during an online news conference held along with Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Since its inception, Africom has had a senior Foreign Service officer serving as the commander’s deputy for civil-military engagements. In addition, several interagency partners are represented at Africom’s headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.

This promotes close collaboration with the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and other federal agencies as well as U.S. embassies across the continent that Rodriguez said ensures a coordinated U.S. government approach to African opportunities and challenges.

“Every team has a leader, and in countries where we operate that leader is the U.S. ambassador,” he told reporters.

In addition, Africom partners with nongovernmental organizations across the region, the African Union and other regional organizations, and most importantly, the African nations themselves, Rodriguez said.

For example, working through the State Department and African Union, the command sends trainers and advisors to support the African Contingency Operations Training and Assist Mission that prepares African peacekeeping forces for missions on the continent.

“We have a great relationship with the African Union,” Rodriguez said. “We continue to work with the AU and with regional economic councils and all the partner nations that contribute to peacekeeping operations, to advise and assist them and help them build their defense capabilities.”

The goal, Rodriguez explained, is to strengthen the capabilities of individual African states and regional organizations so they ultimately can provide their own security.

“Our strategy is to develop partners’ security capacity, strengthen relationships and enhance regional cooperation,” Rodriguez said. “We conduct all our military activities in close coordination with our African partners and partners in the U.S. government.”

The strategy is bearing fruit, he reported.

“Today, regional partners are making significant progress in addressing security challenges on the continent,” Rodriguez said. He cited their progress in countering violent extremist organizations, cracking down on illicit trafficking, promoting maritime security and strengthening their defense institutions.

Rodriguez said he hopes to continue building on this progress.

“Africa Command will continue to look for opportunities to better coordinate our strategy with multinational and interagency partners,” he said. “We will align our resources and our strategy and do our very best to ensure we are applying our efforts where they are most effective and most needed.”

In doing so, Rodriguez said, the command will keep “partnership” as the driving force behind its efforts.

“We are committed to being effective members of the team that includes the whole of U.S. government,” he said. “With shared interests and shared values, we will go forward, together, with our African partners.”

Technical order archives are leaned, digitized

Brandice J. O'Brien
72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

10/17/2013 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.  -- The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Technical Systems Division Technical Orders Home Office has leaned its processes and in turn saved the Air Force $1,100 per technical order request.

"We're leaning out a paper-based technical order world to a digital-based TO world," said Blaser Munger, TO Home Office lead.

Technical orders in the archive and vault are organized into four missions -- unclassified archives, classified archives, classified TOs and the Army-owned joint munitions effectiveness manuals. Roughly a year-and-a-half ago, the Air Force Sustainment Center Engineering Directorate, which had previously headquartered the TO Home Office lost its funding to sustain the contract support operations. Something needed to change.

A team of approximately five civilians was put together to streamline the TOs and JMEMS and shut down the vault.

"This team did an amazing job to work quickly but smartly," said Marge Webb, Technical Orders Home Office section chief. "They had to do things properly and make sure the customer had exactly what they needed. Some of this data was up to 50 years old."

As the team worked the project, AFLCMC found funds to keep the operation going for another year.

With 180 million pages in all, it was a challenging task that presented unique obstacles including finding missing pages from TOs that were delivered to Tinker in 2000, when two logistics centers closed. Another challenge was ensuring the 406th Supply Chain Management Squadron had digital copies of its TOs. The squadron formed its own team and after several months of working with its senior leaders, it found a workable solution using an existing Robins Air Force Base, Ga., system and digital data at Tinker.

But, the team found ways to move into the digital age without scanning every single page.

"I also found five different studies from the past 12 years that had been done complete with charts, plans and cost analyses with $10-million estimates of how to digitize these archives," Webb said. "And all of these studies ended up in a file drawer. You can't get $10 million, our budgets are too tight."

Not only did the decision to digitize save the Air Force money, it also benefitted the customers. They were rarely asking for paper copies of archived TOs which drove up the cost since the office used contract support to maintain paper.

Last month, a customer asked for a time compliance tech order from the 1950s; if a TCTO is older than six years after it's rescinded, the office wouldn't have it. They only keep them for a short time, Webb said.

"We had begun to realize paper copy TOs had outlived their usefulness," said Pam Green, Technical Orders Home Office publication systems specialist.

But, office personnel will still fill paper orders for accident investigations, legal matters and emergency requests.

647th CES Airmen lend support to C-17 training mission

by Staff Sgt. Terri Paden
15th Wing Public Affairs

10/23/2013 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- Airmen from the 647th Civil Engineer Squadron Engineering Assistants and Structures Flight recently teamed up to paint the first-ever assault landing zone at the Navy's Barking Sands Pacific Missile Range Facility.

Barking Sands, a multi-dimensional testing and training missile range located on the island of Kauai, is the largest of its kind in the world; supporting surface, subsurface, air and space operations. Thanks to the great teamwork from PMRF leadership and 647 CES Airmen, the PMRF runway will now also serve as a temporary ALZ for the active-duty 535th and the Air National Guard's 204th C-17 Airlift Squadrons.

According to Capt. Christopher Adams, 15th Operations Support Squadron, prior to the ALZ installation, there were no available assault landing strips in the Hawaiian Islands which could accommodate the training for the C-17 squadrons. There were no plans to build a new ALZ, and the only existing ALZ in the immediate area is difficult to use because of terrain and noise abatement concerns. Moreover, the existing location is currently under construction, with several phases remaining to be completed.

Adams said the ability to practice assault landings on a short or austere runway is a critical skill C-17 pilots must practice in order to effectively execute the C-17's mission of worldwide airlift, during peacetime and war, in support of national security and the Department of Defense. Having the ability to train at Barking Sands doubles training capacity and provides much needed redundancy for when the primary ALZ is unavailable. "The airlift squadrons needed a suitable place to train and prepare for their wartime mission requirements," said Lt. Joseph Correia, 647 CES EA Flight chief and construction manager on the project. "They turned to the 647 CES to solve this issue and we delivered."

Though the preparation and planning leading up to the mission lasted about three weeks, the crew, which consisted of only 11 members including two Navy civilian contractors, had only 36 hours on ground to get the job done so they hit the ground running.

"Once we hit the ground, with the C-17 engines still blaring, we unloaded the trucks and our equipment and drove to the location to begin immediately doing our site survey and designing the layout," said Correia.

Next up, the structures Airmen and civilians worked quickly to apply the striping material.

"The proficiency and expertise of the individuals that handled the mission allowed the layout and striping portion to be completed in approximately eight hours," said Correia. "We stayed on site until our flight arrived the next day, loaded our materials and we were out of there as fast as we came in."

Correia said the weeks of planning and preparation, combined with the crew's proficiency, allowed for a flawless execution of the mission in the end.

Though Correia and his crew suspected a job well done, he said the final confirmation came on the flight out.

"We received our final confirmation that our mission had been successful when the C-17 came to pick us up and the pilot was able to test out the new ALZ," he said. "After speaking with the pilots, they confirmed that the layout could not have been more perfect."

According to Adams, that perfection will allow more than 100 C-17 pilots stationed in Hawaii to remain combat mission ready.

However, Correiea said though the physical labor could not have taken place in a more unique location, the mission was all in a day's work for the Engineering Assistants and Structures Airmen.

Mongrels, defenders revamp dorm

by Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/24/2013 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Bldg. 1436, home to members of the 51st Security Forces Squadron, underwent a complete transformation, Oct. 23, thanks to the "Worst Dorm First" program and some old-fashioned elbow grease.

Designed by Chief Master Sgt. Patrick Jones, 51st Civil Engineer Squadron chief, the initiative has now been used in two Airman dorm renovations, with hopes to continue until every dorm at Osan has been updated.

Tech. Sgt. Taylor Vandenboogaard, 51st CES airman dorm leader supervisor, said the name of the program says it all.

"We tested the idea out on the 51st CES dorm to see what a group of people could realistically accomplish in one day," Vandenboogaard said. "Due to our success in the trial run, we decided to implement the program in NCO and Airman dorms across the base."

"Worst Dorm First" involves completely refurbishing an entire building in one day, with the majority of the group made up of residents of that particular dorm. Ninety residents of Bldg. 1436 were led by 15 members of the 51st CES Structures shop for this wave of the program.

The group had no shortage of work. A volleyball court and patio area were built behind the dorm using two pallets of bricks, 28 windows were re-screened, the dayrooms were refurbished, five pallets of lava rocks were used to create rock beds to enhance the landscaping and the entire interior was re-painted.

"It's nice for people who live in the dorm because they get to come home to a nicer place," said Senior Airman Robert Grullon, 51st SFS entry controller.

With the average age of an Osan dorm exceeding 20 years, Vandenboogaard said he hopes this program will help the buildings last for even more years to come.

"I think it's great because the residents are personally invested in the transformation," Vandenboogaard said. "It definitely creates that pride of ownership."

"Worst Dorm First" will continue to renovate one dorm per month, alternating between NCO and Airman dorms. The next building in line for updating has not yet been determined.

Hagel: New Protections Needed for Unclassified Data

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently directed that DOD organizations take additional steps to ensure unclassified controlled technical information is protected from cyber intrusions.

“Stolen data provides potential adversaries extraordinary insight into the United States’ defense and industrial capabilities and allows them to save time and expense in developing similar capabilities,” Hagel said in a memo dated Oct. 10.

“Protection of this data is a high priority for the department and is critical to preserving the intellectual property and competitive capabilities of our national industrial base and the technological superiority of our fielded military systems,” he added.

As the world has become increasingly dependent on electronic data, traditional physical security concepts are no longer valid, said Jennifer Elzea, a Defense Department spokesperson.

“The opportunity to gain access to sensitive unclassified information is simply too unconstrained, and we must rethink how we safeguard our technical information,” she said.

Unclassified controlled technical data losses have become a major problem for the nation and its industrial base, Elzea said. And the problem is getting worse. Data and intellectual property concerning defense systems requirements, concepts of operations, technologies, designs, engineering, systems production and component manufacturing are all being targeted, she said. While the information is unclassified, its loss still represents a significant threat to national security.

“The department must be sure that unclassified controlled technical information is protected from network intrusion and that any consequences associated with loss of this information are assessed and minimized,” Elzea said.

To that end, the secretary directed that the offices of the undersecretaries of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, policy, intelligence, and the DOD chief information officer work together to develop any necessary changes to policy, guidance and rulemaking activities to improve the protection of unclassified controlled technical information that resides on or passes through defense contractor systems or networks.

DOD also has proposed an amendment to its acquisition and contracting regulations, Elzea said. The amendment will add language to defense contracts requiring contractors to incorporate established security standards on their networks, and to report cyber-intrusions that result in the loss of unclassified controlled technical information.

The change is part of the effort to balance the cost of increased protection with the ability to conduct business operations at an unclassified level, she noted. The department must be able to safely operate at that level.

Other actions directed in the memo include the establishment of a joint analysis cell to assess losses of technical information. The cell, to be led by the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, will determine the consequences of those losses and develop necessary responses.

In addition, Hagel directed the military departments to identify critical acquisition and technology programs that require additional protection. This process will include a review of the classification guidance for those programs.

Finally, the DOD CIO, the National Security Agency and the Defense Information Systems Agency will continue to identify the technical standards needed to protect unclassified information in the Joint Information Environment.

“The Department of Defense is committed to protecting our unclassified controlled technical information against the threat of cyber intrusions that target the department and our industrial base,” the defense secretary said.

“These actions will ensure that the department provides a cohesive, comprehensive and cost-effective approach to protect priority investments and future defense capabilities while maintaining efficient business operations with our industrial partners,” he added.

New inspection system offers Airmen 'direct line' to Pentagon

by Senior Master Sgt. Angie Sarchet
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

10/24/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- In what officials call a successful first-of-its-kind event, Air Mobility Command inspectors launched the command's implementation of the new Air Force Inspection System at Little Rock AFB, Ark., the last week of September.

Part of that new system included the chance for Airmen and family members to confidentially pass their concerns directly to the Secretary of the Air Force Inspector General at the Pentagon.

Coming eventually to every air base, the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force have approved the new system to be at full-operational capability by October 2014.

Leveraging feedback from the beta-test conducted by United States Air Forces in Europe last year, Air Mobility Command is accelerating implementation of this new way for commanders to assess and maintain the readiness and health of their units.

Some of the inspection changes--the largest in decades--are radically changing how things are done.

One new twist on the inspection process involves confidential interviews some wing-level Airmen and family members will have with headquarters IG team members--called "Airmen-to-IG sessions." Such interviews are meant to allow new and fresh perspectives that couldn't be obtained under the former IG and functional inspections, said Brig. Gen. Steve Arquiette, AMC's Inspector General.

"The feedback from the interviews gives us a different lens to look at things," said Arquiette. "You can really see how there are cross-cutting issues that would either raise the efficiency, effectiveness and economy of a wing, or lower it, but now you can pinpoint exactly what those are and how you can go about addressing those issues. The Airmen and spouse participants were extremely upbeat over having the opportunity to give direct feedback."

The inspection team will gather issues learned from Airmen-to-IG session interviews, which are designed to listen to the needs and challenges of Airmen so that the Air Force can gauge the command's overall effectiveness and highlight areas of undetected non-compliance.

The top five issues from each wing go directly to the Air Force Inspector General's office. Wing leadership also receives a list of wing-specific issues, officials said.

Little Rock AFB, the 'inaugural run'

The19th Airlift Wing's Black Knights volunteered to be the first AMC unit to align under the new system. Over the course of several months, the wing stood-up its Wing Inspection Team and performed required self-assessments, with guidance from the AMC Inspector General team and its functional expert partners throughout the Air Force.

"We had very specific objectives going into this first visit, understanding that we [and the wing] were walking through this together," said Col. Christopher Sullivan, from AMC's Inspector General Team. Sullivan led a small team that observed the new process first-hand and documented lessons learned to apply as the command continues to mature this new assessment methodology.

"We had to establish some trust with the unit by explaining that the Unit Effectiveness Inspection was much more of a process over time, not just a one-week product," he said.

Little Rock Airmen "knew this was a trial run, and kudos to them for being first and leading the way," said Sullivan. "The wing authored a thorough Commander's Inspection Report which provides all wings a very good template to mirror and build upon."

The new approach to inspections launched officially Air Force-wide in June 2013.

"While the new process of commanders ensuring their units are mission-ready presents some near-term challenges," said General Arquiette. "Persistence and patience will ultimately make the inspection system changes very worthwhile. The timing couldn't be better for this program."

"This new system provides us the opportunity to be even smarter with how we inspect, how we execute our missions--and for our wings to be as effective, economical, and efficient as possible through the use of the timely feedback they will gain through their self-assessments and self-inspections," said the general.

The next step for the new system

"We need people to have some 'buy-in' or some faith that this is the right idea, and we need their best effort," said Sullivan. "Developing relationships with Wing Inspection Team members at Little Rock, ensuring they understood the new system and ensuring they were comfortable asking questions represented keys to the assessment's success."

The successes seen at the Little Rock inspection gives General Arquiette great confidence AMC, and the Air Force as a whole, is on the right path, the general said. As all major commands implement the new process, his team says they intend to keep moving forward aggressively and share their developed techniques and best practices to help shape the new system for the rest of the Air Force.

For example, the team's newly developed SharePoint-based Planning and Evaluation Tool, used to gather inspector observations of the wing's performance, greatly increased the speed and accuracy of unit effectiveness inspection information flow.

The general is telling his team "let's innovate, take this framework, apply it to AMC, tweak it to make sure it also works for our Guard and Reserve partners, and in the end we're all going to be much better off," Arquiette said.

"Leading through the uncertainly of significant change brings its share of headaches and growing pains, but it's worth it. Providing commanders the ability to ensure their mission readiness will benefit Total Force Airmen and families everywhere," he said.

Looking forward, the inspector general team must smartly tailor the new system to work for the many different types of wings and unit constructs in AMC, he said. Throughout the upcoming year, the IG team has scheduled one of each unique mission set--for each wing, joint base, joint partner, and Reserve and Guard partners.

In December, AMC will partner with the Air Force Reserve to conduct a Unit Effectiveness Inspection at Joint Base Charleston followed next by teaming with the Air National Guard to inspect the classic-association at Fairchild AFB, Wash., in February.

Learning as they go from the unit-level inspectors is something AMC plans to continue through future inspections, officials said.

The goal is to accomplish "precision inspections," General Arquiette said. By analyzing and applying the data they've gathered, inspectors know exactly where to look and can make informed decisions on how to conduct smarter inspections, he said.

The vision is ultimately, leaders will be able to make data-driven decisions to change policy, resourcing and guidance that bolster wings' mission effectiveness.

Warrant Officer Provides Hot Meals, Morale

By Army Capt. Amanda Kehrrington
18th Military Police Brigade

CAMP SABALU-HARRISON, Afghanistan, Oct. 24, 2013 – In the town of Claxton, Ga., three foster children woke up every day to the smell of a warm breakfast and went to bed at night with full stomachs.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. (left), International Security Assistance Force commander, presents Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Aaron Cox, Task Force Vigilant food service adviser, an ISAF coin in recognition for his excellent service and dedication to soldiers, at Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan, Aug. 7, 2013. U.S. Army photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
These three boys were taken into a family with a son who grew to love cooking for these boys. His love for cooking turned into a career as a food service specialist in the U.S. Army.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Aaron Cox, Task Force Vigilant food service adviser, is the big brother of these three foster children. Growing up his mother took in foster children but she also worked long hours to provide for these children.

Cox began to enjoy the art of cooking while preparing meals for his brothers.

“I like to eat, I don’t like being hungry and I don’t like people around me being hungry,” said Cox.

In January 1995, Cox enlisted in the U.S. Army as a food service specialist not realizing his love for food and serving others came straight from home.

In 2011 in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, Cox heard of a platoon out at a site that had not seen a hot meal in over four months. Cox knew he had to devise a plan to serve these troops. He had two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters fly out a hot meal.

“I stacked the Black Hawks with as much stuff as I could for these soldiers; we came out there with ice, steak, shrimp, Gatorade,” Cox explained. “This showed them that people actually cared about them and the job they do, I had a couple soldiers who came up to me and gave me hugs; they had not seen ice in three months.”

Cox, currently serving as the drop zone dining facility food service adviser for the soldiers here, provides daily meals to nearly 2,000 soldiers.

“Chief Cox is the epitome of selfless servant-leadership. His infectious and caring demeanor has permeated the entire dining facility staff, which is evident at every meal,” said Army Col. Zane Jones, Task Force Vigilant commander.

“I did my research, the 18th Military Police Brigade had not had a food adviser in 4 years and I wanted to come here and make a difference,”, Cox said.

Cox has always been determined to make an impact on soldiers and improve their quality of life.
“I try to keep a variety of different entrĂ©es because I know coming to the same place every day can get boring. I try to spice up the menu with the rations we have in-house,” he said.

Cox was flown to Camp Phoenix Aug. 7, 2013, to be recognized for his dedication to soldiers by Army Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., International Security Assistance Force commander.

“The most exciting thing about my job is making a direct and immediate impact on a soldier at least three times a day,” Cox said.

The soldiers at Camp Sabalu-Harrison are fortunate to receive a hot meal four times a day. Shift workers are afforded hot meals as well. There is not one request Cox has not been able to fulfill.
“His tremendous impact on every person at Camp Sabalu-Harrison is only exceeded by his humility. Chief Cox is a true American hero,” Jones said.

Joint Task Force-Bravo provides life support training for local firefighters

by Capt. Zach Anderson
Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

10/23/2013 - SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element (MEDEL) provided life-saving skills training to local Honduran firefighters, Oct. 22-23.

The MEDEL trained 19 firefighters from the cities of Comayagua, La Paz, La Esperanza, and Siguatepeque. The training consisted of basic first aid skills, such as hemorrhage control, bandage application, treating different types of burns, as well as lacerations, abrasions and cuts. The MEDEL members also taught the firefighters different methods of evacuating and assessing a patient.

"It is a modified basic life support class," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Darlene Hershman, a combat medic/LPN assigned to MEDEL. "A lot of the resources we have in the United States for training, they don't have. So through a class like this, we can work with them to increase their knowledge of medical care, and then they can pass on what they have learned to others."

During the final portion of the class, the firefighters had to quickly attend to individuals who were playing the role of "victims." The firefighters had to provide immediate care to the victim, and then evacuate them to a triage area.

"We are trying to get them prepared for anything they might encounter on the job," said U.S. Army Specialist Lourdes Tarin, an emergency medical technician assigned to MEDEL. "We are working with them to help increase their skills so that when they do encounter a situation, they will be prepared and confident and can use what they have learned to save a life, or multiple lives."

Beale Airman receives GEICO award

by Senior Airman Allen Pollard
9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

10/23/2013 - BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Staff Sgt. Cory Yaws, 9th Civil Engineering Squadron fire inspector, recently received the Air Combat Command Government Employees Insurance Company Military Service Award in the Fire Safety and Fire Prevention category.

This award recognizes enlisted active duty, Reserve, or National Guard members from all military service branches for contributions to military or private-sector communities in any of the following categories: drug and alcohol abuse prevention, fire safety and fire prevention, and traffic safety and accident prevention.

"Staff Sgt. Yaws was selected because of the excellent work ethic he demonstrates daily," said Senior Master Sgt. Bradley Beaty, 9th CES deputy fire chief. "He is truly the go-to person when a task needs to be accomplished."

The San Antonio native has been stationed at Beale for more than three years. He inspects and ensures all building on base are safe and up to fire code. Also, Yaws conducts fire drills at the Child Development Center and Youth Center to educate the children on fire safety. Yaws recently relocated to the Fire Department's logistics section where he researches and purchases the most up to date safety equipment the fire fighters use to protect the base and local community.

He will compete for the fire safety and fire prevention GEICO Military Service Award at the Air Force level next.

"I felt honored to win an award at the ACC level," Yaws said. "It makes me appreciate the mentorship and guidance I have received in my military career."

WWII Veterans Honored at Ceremony

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2013 – Not enough is said about the contribution of the people of Greece to the Allied victory in World War II, Derek Chollet, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs said today.

“During World War II, devastation and sacrifice inhabited every corner of the earth,” Chollet told the audience at a ceremony hosted by the Oxi Day Foundation at the World War II memorial.

At the annual ceremony, three veterans of World War II receive the Greatest Generation Award, which honors a Greek, a Greek-American and an American for their service in the war. Greek Army Lt. Gen. Konstantinos Korkas, the late U.S. Army Lt. Col. Christopher Mehiel and Congressman John Dingell were honored today.

The foundation draws its name from the response given in 1940 by Greece’s prime minister to an Axis demand that Greece surrender. By this point the Axis powers had already defeated 15 countries, Chollet said, but Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxis responded, simply, “Oxi.” -- Greek for “No.”

“In many ways, there might not be a more consequential word for that era,” Chollet said. “Winston Churchill put it best when he said that if there had not been the virtue and the courage of the Greeks, we do not know what the outcome of World War II would have been,” he added.

“The Greeks showed resilience and courage, and ultimately were the first to defeat the Axis powers in World War II,” Chollet said.

The world continues to look to Greece as an example of strength and strong partnership, the assistant defense secretary said.

The United States and Greece have a robust and enduring relationship, Chollet said, noting that the military to military engagement is particularly strong.

“We continue to work together in joint training and multilateral exercises,” he said. “Greece has acquired a significant amount of United States' technology for its military. And we work together in coalition operations around the world.”

Greece also hosts forces at Souda Bay, which was essential to NATO's successful 2011 air campaign over Libya, Chollet said.

As recently as August, President Barack Obama hosted Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at the White House and praised the strong bilateral military and intelligence cooperation between our two countries, the assistant defense secretary said.

“The United States’ relationship with our European partners, especially Greece, is crucial, and we look forward to continuing our cooperation and to working together to achieve our common security interests,” Chollet said. “The three heroes honored here today are a testament to our many decades of work and sacrifice together, and members of my generation draw inspiration from this greatest generation.”

Wounded warrior makes final jump

by Capt. Victoria Porto
Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

10/18/2013 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- One by one, Airmen from the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron lined up at the back of a C-130, paused, then stepped off the aircraft Oct. 16, completing their free fall training jump into the picturesque water of Florida's Emerald Coast.

For Staff Sgt. Johnnie Yellock Jr., this jump was two years and 28 surgeries in the making.

In 2011, Yellock, a 23rd STS combat controller, was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While on a mission checking Afghan local police outposts, his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device.

"When I opened my eyes, I was on top of the truck with my legs hanging down onto the bed," Yellock said. "I had open fractures on both of my feet through my boots."

Despite his injuries, he continued to pass information to his team, including the details for a helicopter landing zone for his own medical evacuation.

"I'd been in the career field for years and I was trained for this type of situation, trained on medical trauma care," he said. "I took pride in the knowledge I had, and I was confident I'd be able to help a teammate if needed. I didn't expect it to be myself."

For two and a half months his parents and sister stayed by his side while he was recovering in the hospital in San Antonio, Texas. Once released, he began his outpatient rehabilitation and the long road to recovery. The first year, he stayed mostly in a wheelchair before he was finally able to walk, first with crutches, then unassisted.

The idea for the jump originated in the 23rd STS as his leadership was coordinating his return to Hurlburt Field to outprocess and medically retire Oct. 18.

"We have a lot of wounded warriors in various stages of recovery, and maintaining care and contact with our wounded brothers is important to us," said Lt. Col. Mason Dula, 23rd STS commander. "Of course, the jump is important for (Yellock) and a nice exclamation point for his career, but it's also equally important for the guys in our squadron to see him come back and see the commitment we have with all of our wounded warriors. They are still our teammates."

Yellock said his leadership made sure his doctors approved and that he could accomplish multiple tasks to prove he was ready, like swimming 100 meters with his gear on and going to wind tunnel training to show he could handle a free fall.

"People have said this is a symbol of resilience--my attitude--since the injury hasn't gotten me down," Yellock said. "But I tell them anybody in my situation, any of these other special tactics operators would handle it in the same way. I just hope they wouldn't have to."

During the jump, Yellock was surrounded by his fellow operators and teammates from the deployment, and supported by the same leadership that was there when he was hurt. He said that was even more meaningful than the jump itself.

"It just represents (Air Force Special Operations Command's) never-ending support for our wounded guys and our fallen comrades," he said. "I may be retired from the military but I'll always be a combat controller."

20 AF commander: 'Standardization, mentorship critical to ICBM mission'

by Tech Sgt. Stacy Foster
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

10/24/2013 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, 20th Air Force commander, addressed Mighty Ninety Airmen and civilians during a commander's call in the Building 1501 Peacekeeper High Bay here, Oct. 22, 2013, sharing his vision for the future of the ICBM mission here and across the wings of his command.

Weinstein opened by stating how proud he was to be back at F.E. Warren, where he was the 90th Operations Group commander from 2003 to 2005, and how proud he is of the ICBM mission and its people.

"What's great about this mission is that 99.9 percent of the time, we do our mission flawlessly, we do it perfectly - we do it every single day," he said. "That's a testament to everyone in this room. The reason we have been so successful, is because everybody who wears this uniform is a leader - every single person."

In an effort to address recent issues throughout Air Force Global Strike Command, Weinstein called for a renewed focus, standardization of policies and mentoring newer generations of Airmen.

"We need to standardize across the board," Weinstein said. "First, we need to standardize ICBM operations across the wings, follow standard Air Force processes, and lastly, mentor our replacements."

Adhering to guidelines and standards are part of the Air Force, and Weinstein said they must also continue to discover new ideas and refine processes.

"We will do innovation as a team," he said. "If there is a better way of doing things, suggested at even the lowest levels, I need to know about it, and we will look at implementation across 20th Air Force."

Weinstein discussed recent budget cuts, and downsizing the Air Force has undergone lately, and believes the Air Force's most valuable asset, its people, will carry the ICBM mission forward successfully. Weinstein also credited the civilian workforce as a critical part of mission success.

"Our civilians are the continuity, the experts," he said. "They are absolutely critical to the success of our mission, and hopefully the issues with furloughs and sequestration are behind us and will never happen again."

Moving forward, Weinstein called upon everyone to mentor one another, sharing job knowledge with peers and colleagues to prepare eventual replacements. Mentorship in the military is a responsibility that typically falls on the shoulders of a seasoned non commissioned officer or an individual who has 'been there' before. Weinstein believes it is everyone's responsibility, from top to bottom.

"As leaders, we need to produce the next generation of Airmen," he said. "Everyone is a leader. To the most junior Airmen, everybody is a leader. We need to mentor everyone who works with us."

As he closed, Weinstein discussed several social issues the Air Force has experienced recently. Varying from discrimination to sexual assault, Weinstein believes all problems can be solved through leadership and by harnessing the diverse views of the entire force.

"What makes America so great is our diversity and all the different views we bring to the table," he said. "Only by developing a culture of respect will we eradicate such issues."