Military News

Friday, October 25, 2013

Combat Engineer Becomes First Female ‘Gunny’


By Marine Corps Cpl. Paul Peterson
2nd Marine Logistics Group

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan, Oct. 25, 2013 – Raised rough and tumble in the modest midwestern city of Mineral Point, Wis., Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Robin Baker came from an extended family dominated by males.


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Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Robin Baker, a Mineral Point, Wis., native and combat engineer with Combat Logistics Regiment 2, Regional Command-Southwest, pins on the rank of gunnery sergeant during a promotion ceremony at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Oct. 1, 2013. Baker became the first female to earn the rank of gunnery sergeant in her military specialty after more than a decade of service. U.S. Marine Corps photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“I grew up running around and playing in the dirt like Indiana Jones,” Baker said. “It was a lot of exploring, running around, and sports. I definitely wasn’t afraid to get dirty. That’s for sure.” It was a humble enough proving ground for the woman who would become a pioneer in one of the Marine Corps’ most male-dominated specialties.

Baker, a combat engineer with Combat Logistics Regiment 2, Regional Command-Southwest, pinned on the rank of gunnery sergeant in October, midway through her deployment to Helmand province, Afghanistan. She is the first female combat engineer to own the cherished Marine rank and title: “Gunny.”

She’s also not finished with coming in first.

An unabashed advocate for the merits of hard work and reputation, Baker more or less stumbled upon the Marine Corps after dabbling with college.

“I was bored,” she laughed, recounting how she ended up in the recruiter’s office.

“He showed me the recruiting video of the explosions,” Baker recalled. “I was like, ‘I want to do that job -- right there.’ Luckily, I got it.”

Baker entered the Marine Corps in November 2000. She spent her holiday season with other recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., where her 13-year career began.

After recruit training, Baker completed her specialty training as a combat engineer and reported to her first unit at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.

“Being in our [military specialty], you’re not going to find a whole lot of females,” said Baker, whose first unit boasted only four other females. “It’s pretty physical, and I was doing everything the guys would do. There was no special treatment whatsoever.”

Baker fell under an uncompromising microscope from the beginning. She refused to separate herself from the rigors imposed upon her male counterparts. She completed the same training, took part in the same missions, and accepted the same punishments for failure.

“When the field first opened up [for females], there was a lot of, ‘Why are you here? You can’t hack [it]. You are the weakest link,’” Baker said. “That drives me even more because I’m not. When we finish whatever it is we’re doing, and I’m not the last person, and there’re people behind me, I’m not the weakest link … I belong here.”

She found no easy paths or simple shortcuts. She didn’t even bother to look. Instead, Baker said she embraced the physically demanding work and recognized it as an opportunity to prove herself and advance.

“I was one of them,” Baker said. “It makes a difference to earn respect from a group like that. Your reputation will precede you. It doesn’t happen overnight. It certainly doesn’t happen after a month or two. But once they realize you are there to do a job and do it professionally … they will protect you with their lives.”

Baker said she found a unique bond amongst her engineer peers. They relied upon each other’s resilience.

“We’re crazy,” she proudly acknowledged. “It’s being in a group of people who are your family through thick and thin and who have the same goals. Our ties are strong.”

Baker attained the rank of sergeant within her first four-year enlistment and continued to push the gender expectations she faced.

She joined the Camp Pendleton shooting team and received accolades for her performance. Baker graduated first in her class at the Platoon Sergeants Course and became the first female master breacher after successfully completing the Marine Corps’ Urban Breachers Course.

She embraced deployments to both Afghanistan and Iraq, where she served on specially organized Lioness Teams in 2006 and 2008. Baker operated in direct support of Marine infantry units while facing down gender biases along the way.

“I imagine it’s the same way for males when they go someplace new,” she said. “You have to prove yourself. That’s the toughest thing about being a female. Even for as long as I have been in, every place I go, I still have to prove myself.”

It has been a long road, said Baker, noting she’s made a mark on her fellow Marines along the way.
“Over time, the Marines who have worked with you go to other places, and people hear about you,” Baker said. “The good thing about my name is when people talk about me it’s not a bad thing.”

Baker accepted no excuses from her fellow Marines and expected nothing less in return. She lived by a “If I can do it, why can’t you?” attitude and actively found ways to stand out among her male counterparts.

She eventually took her hard-earned experiences to Camp Lejeune, N.C., where she became one of only two female Marines to ever teach at the combat engineer school. Baker spent more than three years mentoring hundreds of young service members passing through the course.

“I started right where you are,” said Baker, recounting her conversations with students. “Your reputation is everything. Once you tarnish your reputation, it’s hard to get it back.”

To be sure, Baker never lost her passion for explosions. The same excitement that drew her into the Marine Corps as a young recruit simply grew.

“I like blowing stuff up,” she admitted. “I get a rush out of the shock wave. But I would have to say after all my years being a combat engineer, the best part is being able to see the fruits of my labor. It’s that instant gratification.”

Baker is currently the only female out of nearly 160 gunnery sergeants within her specialty. She already has her eyes on the next step up.

“I like to be one of the first or one of the few,” Baker said. “I’ve been told the majority of my career, ‘You can’t do this. Why are you here?’ I just like to prove them wrong.”

K-9s conquer water

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


10/24/2013 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.  -- "Halt! Halt! Halt! Or I will release my dog," was the common phrase heard throughout the 5-hour controlled aggression water training for military and police dogs Oct. 16, 2013.

Tampa, Largo, Clearwater, Hernando, and Pinellas County police department K-9 units joined forces with the 6th Security Forces Squadron military working dogs to safely introduce controlled aggression in water at a local water park in Tampa, Fla.

A total of 31 dynamic duos, five of which were MWD, ran through three various exercises involving the dogs jumping into deep bodies of water and swimming to apprehend decoy suspects.

Water training is not part of the standardized training MWDs receive; however, being that MacDill Air Force Base is surrounded by water it's beneficial for the K-9 here to have this training. MacDill AFBs geographical location is unique. The base's 7.2 miles of coastline makes its physical security unlike most Air Force bases.

"Training the dogs to perform these tasks in water helps to enhance our security on MacDill by conditioning service dogs to pursue and/or find a person or suspect in water," stated Staff Sgt. Shannon Hutto, 6th SFS MWD trainer supervisor.

Prior to beginning the scenarios, the handlers gave their four-legged partners a chance to become acclimated to the water to ensure highest performance.

The training offered an opportunity to gage the dog's reactions as well as learn from police department K-9 units in the community.

This was the first time the majority of these dogs had been exposed to water scenarios. A few took to the water without an issue, where as some were more timid. However, by the end of the day the dog's confidence was sky-high.

"The training was very successful and the dogs exceeded our expectations," said Staff Sgt. Juan Hinojosia, 6th SFS MWD handler. "It was a great experience and I look forward to continuing this type of training more often."

Africa Command Helps Partners Promote Maritime Security

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Servic
e
WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2013 – Capacity-building efforts being advanced by U.S. Africa Command are helping African nations confront maritime crime, including piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and events currently unfolding off the Nigerian coast, the Africom commander reported.


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U.S. Marines and Senegalese Marine commandos conduct Marine Corps martial arts training during Africa Partner Station 13, Sept. 19, 2013. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Marco Mancha
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
In addition, Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez recognized “major progress” in maritime security along Africa’s East Coast during an Oct. 23 virtual news conference.

Incidents off the coast of Somalia, once a hotbed of pirating activity like that dramatized in the blockbuster movie, “Captain Phillips,” have dropped dramatically.

Meanwhile, “maritime crime continues to be a major challenge in the Gulf of Guinea,” Rodriguez reported. Exemplifying this challenge, pirates reportedly kidnapped crew members of a U.S.-flagged oil supply ship off the Nigerian coast Oct. 23.
Rodriguez noted Africom efforts to prevent such incidents and promote maritime safety and security in the region.

“Our programs are helping partners strengthen maritime security and counter illicit trafficking,” he told reporters.

Key among them is Africa Partnership Station, an initiative that has grown over the past six years to include more than 30 African, European and North and South American countries.

More than 90 U.S. Marines as well as Dutch, Spanish and British forces are participating in Africa Station 2013, currently underway off the West African coast. Operating from a Royal Netherlands Navy landing platform, they will visit Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and Benin during the three-month mission.

The goal is to improve maritime safety and security along the Gulf of Guinea, U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Charles Watkins, security cooperation task force officer in charge for African Partnership Station 13, told American Forces Press Service.

By building capacity among African partner nations, the mission increases their ability to strengthen their borders, control their territorial waters and crack down on illicit trafficking and other destabilizing activity, Watkins said.

Another counterpiracy and maritime security exercise, Exercise Obangame Express 2013, brought together 12 ships from 10 countries off the coast of Cameroon in February to train on a number of maritime scenarios. Planning for the 2014 exercise is underway.

“Obangame Express helps promote relationships between nations to combat these illicit activities,” said Navy Capt. Dave Rollo, U.S. director for Obangame Express 2013. “These acts of piracy are not just an American problem. They are not just a Cameroonian problem. They're a global problem.”
Meanwhile, Africom is promoting other initiatives to increase interoperability among African partners to maximize their maritime security programs, Rodriguez told reporters.

“We’ve … helped build some capacity for some operation centers for several of the nations around the Gulf of Guinea to coordinate their efforts,” he said.

In Cape Verde, northwest of the Gulf of Guinea, an Africom-funded Counter-Narcotics and Maritime Security Operations Center opened in 2010 to help that country’s police, coast guard and military to collaborate more closely to crack down on illicit trafficking, piracy and other transnational threats.
The center features inter-island communications relays that give Cape Verdean government agencies and offices the ability to share information and coordinate their activities against narco-trafficking and other illegal activities.

To complement its operations, the United States also helped Cape Verde upgrade its tiny, four-craft patrol boat fleet and donated another small high-speed vessel.

U.S. and British maritime forces mentored Cape Verdean sailors and coast guard members this spring as they exercised maritime law enforcement engagement procedures in their territorial waters in coordination with the Cape Verde operations center.

“The purpose of these types of military engagements is to help our African partners learn to enforce their international maritime laws at sea,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Adam Chamie, liaison to the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet commander.

“This engagement demonstrated the increasing ability of Cape Verde’s ability to successfully board vessels as needed to enforce those maritime laws,” Chamie said.

While reporting progress in these approaches to maritime security, Rodriguez acknowledged “a lot of challenges out there and a long way to go.”

Continued collaboration is essential to dealing with illicit maritime activity, he emphasized.

“That is a regional problem and a regional challenge that everyone is going to have to work together to solve, because of the challenges that occur in the Gulf of Guinea,” he said.

Luke Airmen serve to honor fallen

by Senior Airman Grace Lee
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/25/2013 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- It's silent except for the clicks resonating from the shoes of six honor guardsmen coming toward the funeral party. In unison they stop, come to attention and march forward to begin the honors for a fallen serviceman.

The Luke Air Force Base Honor Guard team spends numerous hours training and preparing their uniforms while on and off duty to provide proper military service at a variety of events.

"Our main mission is to provide professional military honors for funerals," said Master Sgt. Keith Cooper, 56th Force Support Squadron Honor Guard superintendant and former Air Force honor guardsman. "We also do color guard and retirement ceremonies, sword cordons at weddings, rifle cordons for dignitaries, flag raisings, and retreat and reveille ceremonies."

Luke honor guard members spend countless hours perfecting their movements. It is their service to honor others.

"The amount of training is dictated by our workload," said Senior Airman Jeffrey Borland, 56th FSS A flight trainer. "It really depends on our detail schedule and if there is time in between details to train."

For a new trainee or rookie the training is fitted into a four-week program.

"The first month consists of learning the most fundamental movements for color guard ceremonies and funerals," Borland said. "Rookies will train at least eight hours a day on rifle movements, the basics of carrying a staff and essential flag folding movements for funerals. Typically by their fourth week they will be going on details."

Rookies will also have their uniforms custom fitted during their first month rotation. Once fitted, the uniform must be properly prepared to fit honor guard standards.

"I typically spend four hours working on uniforms with the rookies once they get their uniform back from alterations," Borland said. "These hours are spent getting the aiguillette pinned on, honor guard badge placed along with their ribbons and work badges."

Rookies then spend time on their own to work on taking off excess strings and lint, Borland said.

In honor guard just one string, slightly crooked ribbon or badge can be a demerit when getting their uniforms inspected.

"It's constant maintenance," Borland said. "We steam, iron, shave, lint roll and polish our uniforms daily to make sure they are looking perfect."

Being in the honor guard is serious work, but it is also a great place to make new friends and memories.

"We take our job seriously but we also know when it is the appropriate time to have fun and get to know each other," Borland said. "I like it because it's a good change of pace for me and gets me out in the city to see new things and meet new people. So far, my favorite memory would be going to the NASCAR events since it's not only a lot of fun but we also got to meet celebrities."

For Senior Airman Branden Palmer, 56th FSS honor guardsman, who is on his second rotation, being able to serve in the honor guard is the ultimate honor.

"I take my job very seriously because I want to do the best I can," Palmer said. "When I'm on a detail, I always think of the person I am doing it for. I love being in the honor guard."

MC-12 accident report released

Release Number: 012513

10/25/2013 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va.  -- A stall occurring due to insufficient airspeed caused an MC-12 Liberty to crash 110 miles northeast of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Apr. 27, 2013, according to an Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board report released today.

The aircraft, assigned to the 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, crashed during an Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance mission. The aircraft's crew of four was killed, and the aircraft, valued at $19.8 million, was destroyed.

According to the results of the investigation, the cause of the mishap was a stall due to insufficient airspeed, while in a climbing left turn, which developed into a left spin followed quickly by a left spiral, from which the crew was unable to recover. The MC-12 crew was in a routine, left-turn orbit when they encountered exceedingly cloudy conditions that impeded visibility and masked the horizon. The crew attempted to climb to an altitude where visibility would improve when the stall occurred.

There were no civilian injuries, and there was no damage to private property. For more information, please contact Air Combat Public Affairs at (757) 764-5007 or email accpa.operations@us.af.mil.

Chapel celebrates 50 years of connecting people

by Maj. Rolf Holmquist
99th Air Base Wing Chapel


10/25/2013 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- 10/23/2013 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- As the chapel celebrates its 50th Anniversary this October, 50 years can seem like a long time, but age is relative.

For example, there are ongoing debates of how old the universe is, its existence ranging from thousands to billions of years. Consider that the United States is only 237 years old compared to a more mature 763-year-old Stockholm -- the city that was close to where my father was born. World War II ended 68 years ago, and even our own United States Air Force is 66 years old. Fifty years of ministry for the 99th Air Base Wing Chapel is significant and yet, it is just a moment in time.

A lot has happened in these past 50 years including wars and conflicts in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Deployments have increased across the globe. Our Airmen faced and still face danger and some have even died for their country. The chapel has stood tall as a light on a hill, a beacon in the fog during this period to help people get through these ever changing times.

The 99th ABW Chapel team started taking care of people in 1963, and it still does so today. One reason for this 50 yearlong success is the connect-ability that happens when you are there. The dictionary defines connect as to join, link, unite or bind, to establish communication. Connect-ability is the ability to connect with other people in a variety of social settings.

By nature, people are social creatures. We were never designed to be alone. Humanity thrives on its ability to connect with each other. The chapel has always been a place where people can connect to their faith, family and friends.

This social network happens at this chapel, and other chapels around the world, even in deployed locations. Airmen enjoy this connection to people so much when they retire they still choose to worship at a military chapel. We have lots of veterans that still serve our young Airmen and their families as they meet throughout the week in the chapel.

We owe a debt of gratitude for those that have served in the past to make the chapel the hub that it is today. One of those Airmen is the late Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Robert P. Taylor, former chief of Chaplains, and was the keynote speaker at the Oct. 27, 1963, chapel dedication.

Taylor was a World War II veteran. He survived the Bataan Death March and 42 months in several Japanese prison camps. His job while in the prison camps was to minister to more than 10,000 patients at the prison camp hospital in Cabantuan, Philippines. What Taylor was doing was connecting these patients to their faith and to each other. They could not go to a chapel, but the chapel could go to them in the form of Taylor's ministry.

As the 99th ABW Chapel reaches its 50th year of existence, we have much to celebrate. This chapel has hosted many marriages, baptisms, first communions, confessions, and even funerals and memorials. What is the outcome of all this good connect-ability? -- Resilient families.

Connecting to one's faith is vital for many people. As we connect to our faith, we bring our family along with us. Our family members connect to their faith and to each other and then they make new chapel friends. So the social spiral continues to swirl outwards creating more and more resources for Airmen and our families.

This produces resilient Airmen and that is what the chapel team is all about: connecting Airmen and families to an array of resources in order to weather turbulent times like these. So if you are in the neighborhood Oct. 27come join us at 9:15 a.m. for a slice of cake as we celebrate 50 years of caring for the Nellis AFB community. Come, get connected.

AF chief of safety: 'Double checks, not second thoughts'

by Tech. Sgt. Mareshah Haynes
Air Force News Service


10/24/2013 - FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS)  -- Every Airman needs to be in the habit of double checks and not second thoughts, the new Air Force chief of safety said in an interview highlighting the close of this year's Critical Days of Summer campaign.

"I understand working under time constraints and getting the mission done, but we must be in the habit of double checks," Maj. Gen. Kurt Neubauer said. "The tendency is that with more experience and confidence, we may not be as likely to do double checks, and a double check never hurts."

As the new chief of safety, Neubauer oversees all Air Force Safety Center operations. Charged with the mission to prevent mishaps and preserve combat capability, the Air Force Safety Center's span reaches every Airman around the world.

Neubauer began his tenure as the Critical Days of Summer wrapped up and recently shared his observations of how Airmen can continue to safely operate in the future.

"We finished the Critical Days of Summer with 21 fatalities," Neubauer said. "In each of the past two years, those numbers were 16 and 18 respectively. "

Neubauer also noted the uptick in mishaps toward the end of the fiscal year. This is something he and members of the safety center continue to research and evaluate.

"Over the last five fiscal years, we lost 300 Airmen and 48 aircraft at a cost of almost $2.2 billion," he said. "The value of the resource is important, but the human cost is what I'm most concerned about. Airmen are the chassis of every weapon that we field in the Air Force. Without Airmen, you don't get airpower.

"Certainly, the dollar cost concerns us because we need to make sure we're good stewards of the equipment that we've been given by the taxpayers," Neaubauer said. "But the human cost is just as important -- if not more important -- because it's not just the loss of the Airman in the mishap. That loss ripples through squadrons and families. It changes you forever."

Even though the loss of one Airman is one too many, Neubauer assures the force that on a whole, the Air Force is on par with current safety statistics.

"If you look at it in context over the whole level of activity and operations for the United States Air Force, whether it's in the category of ground, flight, weapons or space related mishaps, and you evaluate all those moving parts that are going on 24/7 365 days a year, I think we do fairly well, " he said. "That said, we need to do better."

According to the Air Force Personnel Center website, there are more than 326,000 Airmen in the Air Force. Neubauer and his team of safety experts are responsible for making sure each of those Airmen is knowledgeable in how to operate safely and successfully in their respective career fields.

"Given the fact that the Air Force is a risky business - what we do in training and in combat, involves a certain amount of calculated risk -- I think we've got some very good control measures to help us balance those risk and reward decisions," Neubauer said. "Whether it's (Air Force instructions) guidance, policies, tactics, techniques and procedures; those touchstones are all the result of years of experience, practice and learning. They provide the foundation for a robust and invigorated safety program."

Throughout the Air Force's history, Airmen have been able to build upon the lessons learned of those who came before them in the form of AFIs and other guidance. Neubauer calls for Airmen to continue to integrate those references into their daily habits and remember the fundamentals of safety in their day-to-day operations.

"If we are brilliant in the basics and always strive to do everything by the book, it will raise the bar for everyone," he said.

Defense Department Successfully Conducts Warhead Sled Test



By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2013 – The Defense Department announced yesterday the successful testing of an advanced conventional precision effects warhead, a critical part of a national effort to establish a conventional prompt strike capability. This capability will contribute to the country to defend its interests with precision weapons at hypersonic speeds.

During an interview with American Forces Press Service, Susan Hurd, special assistant to the director of strategic warfare, called the test a significant technology development advancement.

“The successful execution of this high-speed sled test of a Kinetic Energy Projectile warhead was a necessary step in the progression to a conventional prompt strike capability,” she said. “Now that we’ve demonstrated that the warhead functions in a flight representative environment we’re one important step closer to that goal.”

“High performance computer modeling and simulation as well as a series of small scale and static tests have already been done on this warhead,” Hurd said. “But in order to assess its performance in flight conditions you have to do the dynamic test – you have to do the sled test.

Hurd emphasized this test was “critical” in order to subject the warhead to the “dynamic environment it would see in flight.”

“The sled test was designed to be representative of conditions of flight and target engagement for the warhead,” she said.

The 846th Test Squadron conducted the successful test at the Holloman High Speed Test Track, located on Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. Hurd noted that the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was responsible for the design and development of the warhead itself, while the event was managed by the U.S Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center

Holloman High Speed Test Track also fielded a wide range of diagnostics and instrumentation to collect data and designed the sled train that was used to push the warhead down the track to extremely high velocity, she added.

During the test, according to Hurd, the sled train exceeded 3,500 feet-per-second – greater than Mach 3 or three times the speed of sound.

In addition to testing the warhead under the dynamic conditions of flight, a second objective, Hurd noted, was to collect data to “update and verify our computer modeling and simulation codes that enable us to predict warhead performance”. This program used high performance computers to design the very complex warhead.

The data collected during this test will be applicable to all CPGS concepts under consideration, according to the DOD news release.

“The CPGS program is focused on developing technologies in support of developing a future concept,” she said.

Hurd emphasized that the CPGS technology development and demonstration program is using a nationally integrated team.“We’re working across all the military services,” she said. “We’re working with Department of Energy and DOD laboratories and agencies like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Experts from all over the country are working together to develop a conventional prompt strike capability for the nation.”

Defense Department Successfully Conducts Warhead Sled Test



By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2013 – The Defense Department announced yesterday the successful testing of an advanced conventional precision effects warhead, a critical part of a national effort to establish a conventional prompt strike capability. This capability will contribute to the country to defend its interests with precision weapons at hypersonic speeds.

During an interview with American Forces Press Service, Susan Hurd, special assistant to the director of strategic warfare, called the test a significant technology development advancement.

“The successful execution of this high-speed sled test of a Kinetic Energy Projectile warhead was a necessary step in the progression to a conventional prompt strike capability,” she said. “Now that we’ve demonstrated that the warhead functions in a flight representative environment we’re one important step closer to that goal.”

“High performance computer modeling and simulation as well as a series of small scale and static tests have already been done on this warhead,” Hurd said. “But in order to assess its performance in flight conditions you have to do the dynamic test – you have to do the sled test.

Hurd emphasized this test was “critical” in order to subject the warhead to the “dynamic environment it would see in flight.”

“The sled test was designed to be representative of conditions of flight and target engagement for the warhead,” she said.

The 846th Test Squadron conducted the successful test at the Holloman High Speed Test Track, located on Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. Hurd noted that the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was responsible for the design and development of the warhead itself, while the event was managed by the U.S Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center

Holloman High Speed Test Track also fielded a wide range of diagnostics and instrumentation to collect data and designed the sled train that was used to push the warhead down the track to extremely high velocity, she added.

During the test, according to Hurd, the sled train exceeded 3,500 feet-per-second – greater than Mach 3 or three times the speed of sound.

In addition to testing the warhead under the dynamic conditions of flight, a second objective, Hurd noted, was to collect data to “update and verify our computer modeling and simulation codes that enable us to predict warhead performance”. This program used high performance computers to design the very complex warhead.

The data collected during this test will be applicable to all CPGS concepts under consideration, according to the DOD news release.

“The CPGS program is focused on developing technologies in support of developing a future concept,” she said.

Hurd emphasized that the CPGS technology development and demonstration program is using a nationally integrated team.“We’re working across all the military services,” she said. “We’re working with Department of Energy and DOD laboratories and agencies like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Experts from all over the country are working together to develop a conventional prompt strike capability for the nation.”

14th Air Force JAG serves as Special Victims' Counsel

by Maj. Larry van der Oord
14th Air Force Public Affairs


10/24/2013 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- The Air Force Special Victims' Counsel program provides military sexual assault survivors with a dedicated attorney to help walk them through the entire investigative and prosecutorial process. The program began in its interim phase in January of 2013. Just seven months later, the Secretary of Defense directed all Services to implement special victim's advocacy programs to provide legal advice and representation to victims.

However, for one member of the 14th Air Force Staff Judge Advocate team at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., a passion for empowering victims developed long before establishment of the SVC program.

"I have been interested in victims' rights since before I joined the Air Force," said Capt. Leah Watson, 14 AF/JA chief of military justice and legacy SVC. "Prior to joining the military, I practiced family law and did a substantial amount of pro bono work representing domestic violence victims in family law matters."

Coincidentally, one of Watson's duties during her first JAG assignment was overseeing the unit's Victim Witness Assistance Program. While there, she enjoyed helping victims and witnesses understand the military justice process. It was for those same reasons she was drawn to the SVC program.

When the Air Force first announced the pilot program for SVCs, Watson immediately requested an opportunity to attend the new training. She received instruction from some of the top attorneys in the Air Force, as well as nationally renowned victim attorney, Meg Garvin, executive director of the National Crime Victim Law Institute and clinical professor of law at Lewis & Clark Law School. Additionally, Watson attended training put on by the NCVLI at personal expense to increase her skills and understanding in this area of law.

Upon completion of the training, Watson was among the first interim SVCs in the Air Force. She received her first client Jan. 29, 2013, and continues her SVC work today as a legacy member of the program.

"Fairness in the judicial process is one of the things that attracted me to the military," said Watson. "The extensive inquiry that is required before a person can plead guilty at a court-martial is an example of how the military court process is structured to protect rights. Protecting the rights of victims is equally important for ensuring a just process."

The addition of a victim's attorney through the SVC program helps balance the interests of fairness and justice for the parties to the alleged crime and society, explained Watson.

"I enjoy empowering victims by helping them understand the process and their options," she said. "I learned from my civilian practice that each client will have different interests, and I cannot presuppose a client's goals. I view my job as analogous to a navigator helping clients identify destinations (goals) and then showing routes (options) for them to choose from."

For a sexual assault victim, legal concerns may span from help obtaining a civilian protection order to seeking a divorce from the subject in a case of domestic violence. Unlike traditional legal assistance, an SVC may also assist a victim with civil law related matters that come up in the criminal justice process.

"Much of a victim's anxiety comes from confusion about the process, their role, and what things they have a say in," said Watson. "I am here to help guide them through all of that."

Another aspect of earning a client's trust involves ensuring availability to SVC services.

"I think that accessibility reduces stress," said Watson. "I try to provide multiple options for my clients to contact me such as email, cell phone, text message and video chat."

As of Sept. 6, 2013, 458 victims have requested representation and been detailed an SVC. The Air Force JAG Corps implemented a Victim Impact Survey that sexual assault victims completed. Results showed that 92 percent of individuals indicated they are "extremely satisfied" with the advice and support SVCs provided during Article 32 hearings and courts-martial. Additionally, 97 percent would recommend other victims request an SVC.

One survey participant offered the following insight on the SVC program.

"I cannot imagine how difficult the court process would be without an SVC representative. They do a great job at keeping your privacy. I felt like I understood the entire court process a lot better and liked the fact that they can keep you updated during every step of the court process. My SVC kept in great contact with me and did everything I asked and made sure I understood what my rights were. It was great to have someone there for me, especially when I talked to the defense counsel."