Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sheppard graduates Air Force's first RPA avionic maintainers

by Airman 1st Class Jelani Gibson
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

11/12/2013 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Sheppard graduated the Air Force's first group of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Avionics Systems apprentice's Nov. 7, during a cermeony here.

The group of newly trained students is stepping into a career field that's seen an increasing amount of importance in the Air Force mission, which recently reached its two million hours of flight Oct. 22.

"I can't wait, I really want to get on that flight line," said Columbia, S.C. native, Airman 1st Class Adryen Reed, a 365th Training Squadron graduate.

The aircraft, which provide enhanced mission capability while keeping service members out of harm's way, will soon have its first batch of formally trained Airmen. Before the course itself came into existence, avionic maintainers had to learn through on the job training. With the first class of graduates, the avionic technicians are formally trained to ensure the electronic systems on RPAs are functioning correctly, and are ready to meet the mission objective of global readiness.

As Reed prepares to move on to Creech Air Force Base, Nev., he is proud of his new career and the role it will play in defending America.

"I'm very happy," he said. "Taking care of it means the people we're defending aren't getting hurt over there."

As the Airmen received their diplomas and pinned on their coveted occupational badges, there were a mixture of emotions for attendant and attendee alike.

"Everyday bought new challenges, but they (students) overcame them all," said Tech. Sgt. Richard Ashley, RPA and F-22 Raptor element chief.

For Airman 1st Class Austin Catey, a 365th TRS student from Lincoln, Ill., he looks forward to the impact he will have on the aircraft itself.

"I feel important because what I do matters," he said. "I like watching them take off and knowing I'm the reason why."

Teaching the course for the first time presented challenges as well for the instructors.

"It was overwhelming at first," said Staff Sgt. Stan Dunahoo, primary RPA avionics course instructor.

Regardless of the initial difficulty of being an instructor for the Air Force's first RPA avionics class, Dunahoo knew he wanted the job from the moment he took it.

"I had pride from day one, I jumped at the opportunity," he said. "To be a part of that is amazing."

Dunahoo looked forward to the challenges his job offered and impacting other Airmen's lives in a positive manner.

"UAV's are the future," he said. "To be one of the pioneers teaching the course is a good experience."

When the graduation ended and each Airman filed out, having overcome one set of challenges, they face an entirely new one of going into a career field where the sky is literally the limit.

U.S. Air Force, Pacific partners hone tactical flying skills, enhance interoperability

by Senior Master Sgt. Denise Johnson
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

11/8/2013 - OHAKEA, New Zealand -- More than 70 United States Air Force Airmen joined representatives from four nations on a deployment to Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea Nov. 7 to participate in a three-week tactical flying exercise, Kiwi Flag.

The Airmen will work side-by-side with members of the RNZAF, Republic of Singapore Air Force, French Armed Forces of New Caledonia, and Royal Australian Air Force during the New Zealand-hosted exercise, scheduled to run through Nov. 27.

"New Zealand's unique landscape provides a multitude of opportunities to practice tactical-flying operations over an array of varied terrain -- that equates to a higher learning curve and the ability to enhance our interoperability with the other participants," said U.S. Air Force's 517th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Phillip Shea. "The more exposure we have to different geographic environments, the better prepared we are to respond to a host of contingencies in a unified manner."

Shea is assigned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, as the director of operations for the 517th Airlift Squadron. He hails from Winthrop Harbor, Ill.

The 517th EAS, comprising Airmen from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, and JBER, will conduct flying operations using the C-17 Globemaster III platform. Kiwi Flag operations will support Exercise Southern Katipo which is a field training exercise held on New Zealand's South Island. Southern Katipo hosts nine countries involved in air, land and maritime operations.

The C-17's flexibility provides the capability to perform strategic and tactical airlift; transport troops and cargo; in addition to supporting medical evacuation and airdrop duties.

The RNZAF's air fleet doesn't maintain airframes similar in size to the C-17's bulk, which provides yet further opportunities for learning and sharing subject-matter expertise. This difference also yields some challenges such as airfield and runway incompatibilities in addition to the standard cultural differences, which can be found when visiting a foreign country.

"Those are welcome challenges," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Gabriel Wetlesen, a C-17 pilot and flight commander for the United States' second airlift mission of the exercise. "[The challenges] all represent opportunities to enhance my pilot skills and further my ability to respond to real-world incidents."

Wetlesen is assigned as the 517th Readiness Flight commander at JBER and is also a certified C-17 instructor pilot, a skill he shares with RNZAF's Flight Lt. Tim Pevreal. Pevreal is currently assigned to the RNZAF Central Flying School where he is earning his instructor-pilot certification.

The aspiring instructor, who assumed liaison officer duties onboard the C-17 for Wetlesen's mission, said he expected the flight to be mutually beneficial as he geared up for the sortie.

"I'll be there to help with New Zealand-specific protocols and any translations or verbiage which might occur due to the dialogue differences," Pevreal said. "I'm excited to join the mission; this will be my first flight on this airframe so I expect to have a good subject-matter exchange with the aircrew. Any chance to share information and get better at working as a team is a win-win for all."

Kiwi Flag is a multilateral RZNAF-sponsored tactical airlift exercise conducted in New Zealand. Air assets from the USAF, RNZAF, RAAF, RSAF and FAFNC will participate. Air operations will be conducted out of RNZAF Base Ohakea, New Zealand. Kiwi Flag personnel will provide air support to Exercise Southern Katipo, New Zealand Defence Force's largest-ever multilateral joint force amphibious exercise with eight other nations participating: United States Army and Marines, Australia, Canada, France, Malaysia, Singapore, Papua New Guinea and Tonga.

Honor and Camaraderie: Chaplain receives knighthood and continues to serve

by Airman 1st Class Jelani Gibson
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

11/12/2013 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- He may not wear medieval armor while on horseback wielding a man-sized sword, but he does live by a code of honor as a knight.

Through dedication and motivation, Chaplain Maj. David Kruse, 82nd Training Wing, has achieved knighthood through the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem during a ceremony in Ft. Worth, Texas, Oct. 25, 2013.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is a Catholic organization that recognizes and promotes priests who have exemplified high standards of religious dedication and work ethic. As a Catholic chaplain in the military, Kruse is already among a chosen few. According to the Archdiocese for Military Services, the supervising body for Catholic chaplains, Catholics make up 25 percent of the military, while only eight percent of military chaplains are Catholic themselves.

Kruse described the ceremony as a somber and eye-opening moment.

"It was a very riveting and spiritual experience," he said.

During the ceremony, each candidate approached the presiding Grand Master and was tapped on the shoulder with a sword. As the concluding rite began with the uttered sentence of "blessed be the name of the Lord," each candidate was accepted in an elite brotherhood. Characterized as an honor for Kruse, it is a motivating factor for the faith he preaches and the service members he provides for.

"My role is to defend the faith through my contribution to church and society," he said. "It's an honor."

While Kruse holds pride in his accomplishment, he looks toward those he preaches to as his motivation and beacon of support.

"My success can only be measured through the community in which I serve," he said.

Kruse initially joined the military as a chaplain because he felt it was a profession that he was fated to do. He noted that oftentimes throughout multiple deployments and moving to new locations, the one constant for many service members was the church and the faith they adhered to.

"I felt I was being called," he said. "I felt I could best serve by being that stability."

As a chaplain, Kruse wants to allow others to better themselves through their faith, so they can become better individuals overall.

"It's our (chaplains) responsibility to provide opportunities for people to practice and grow with their faith," he said.

Although Kruse focuses on the religion of those he preaches to, he also makes sure that his members are ready to complete the Air Force mission through spiritual preparation.
"If they (service members) have a foundation then they can focus on the mission that's been entrusted to them," he said.

The priest to the Airmen here might not be seen any time soon riding around base on horseback in shining armor, but he will be ready to take on the spiritual needs of the Airmen and their families, as a knight defends the realm.

Innovation streamlines AMC requirements process

by Katherine Kebisek
Air Mobility Command Chief Information Office

11/12/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Air Mobility Command officials recently introduced an innovative tool that is transforming the command's process for gathering and prioritizing Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) requirements, and will soon be expanded to include other requirements.

The Enterprise Requirements Evaluation Tool, or ERET, streamlines the C4I requirements process giving senior leaders the information they need to make decisions on the command's C4I investments, ultimately providing Airmen the capabilities they need to accomplish the mission. The tool, developed collaboratively by personnel in three headquarters AMC directorates, was built completely within existing resources; it simply took some creativity to bring it to life.

When a program or platform needs to be modified or upgraded - for example, information technology or aircraft - personnel submit a requirement to the capability's designated Requirements and Planning Council (R&PC). R&PCs gather requirements from across the command then prioritize them based on areas such as mission criticality, risk and available funding. Once "racked and stacked," senior leaders make the final determination on which requirements will receive investment funding.

The ERET, a simple tool built using SharePoint, walks personnel through the process of submitting C4I requirements by having them answer a series of questions by selecting responses from a drop-down menu. The tool then calculates a score for the requirement, allowing it to be objectively prioritized against other requirements. One of the most valuable features of ERET is that it provides a repository of requirement information so users can reference and update past requirements rather than research and submit the information every year.

Prior to ERET, the command used a manual, paper-based checks-and-balances process to gather and assess its C4I requirements. While it got the job done, there were several areas for improvement.

"[The process] wasn't widely visible to everybody, and a lot of people didn't really understand it," said Jan Van Horn, AMC Command and Control Systems Functional Manager, AMC Directorate of Operations. This lack of understanding, he said, often resulted in personnel providing insufficient information on requirements which made it difficult to effectively prioritize them. Sometimes requirements didn't even move forward because of missing information.
Additionally, with the variety of mission needs, it was often difficult to rack and stack requirements against each other.

"The problem with comparing requirements is that they're so different," said Baxter Swift, Chief Information Office Support consultant, AMC Directorate of Communications and Information. "How do you compare an aircraft requirement to an IT requirement to a training requirement ... they're all important but so incomparable."

Swift, Van Horn and others knew there had to be a better way to conduct this process. Their goal was to develop a tool that would somehow provide information and a score for each requirement, allowing them to be objectively racked and stacked. And the tool had to be simple, otherwise personnel would be reluctant to use it.

The team began by determining what criteria would be used to score requirements. They studied the Air Mobility Master Plan to understand and incorporate the strategic direction of the command, then worked with AMC's Strategic Planning division to determine capability gaps within the command's four mission areas: airlift, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation and mission support.

"With such varying requirements, the only way to really compare them is against the strategic direction of the organization and see what [the requirement] contributes to that," said Swift. "We went through and identified all of the capability gaps for all the [mission areas] ... and that was a big score contributor. If a requirement was going to fill a capability gap then it would typically score better than one that would not."

"It's very important for our senior leaders to be able to link requirements to the gaps and the focus areas," said Teri Alesch, requirements analyst, AMC Directorate of Strategic Plans, Requirements and Programs. "It's often a matter of explaining [the requirement] better and that's what ERET helps us do." Alesch further clarified that ERET informs decision makers but it does not make the decision; it simply provides a solid, objective starting point where military judgment can then be applied.

Since ERET has only been used in one requirements cycle so far, it's too early to determine metrics for how much time the tool will save. However, the team has already noticed such significant improvements in the process that the AMC Director of Strategic Plans, Requirements and Programs recently directed them to expand the tool to all R&PCs for the next cycle.

"We saved [decision makers] a lot of time and gave them, I think, more confidence in the product that came out of it," said Van Horn. He noted one general officer level "rack and stack" meeting that traditionally took at least 90 minutes was finished in less than 20 minutes because of the solid presentation, scores, and information provided for the prioritized requirements.

"I think this year there will be a lot more time savings for those of us working at the Requirements Working Group action officer levels because when the call for requirements goes out, so will the link for ERET," said Heidi Kukowski, operations analyst, AMC Directorate of Operations. "We can pull inputs from last year and it will just be a re-verification."

Kukowski added that a huge benefit for stakeholders is that ERET provides them insight into the requirements process, allowing them to understand how to get their requirement visibility, and why it did or didn't rank.

As the team helps the AMC R&PCs adapt and implement ERET, they also hope to share the tool with other MAJCOMs. Swift said he recently gave permissions to a counterpart at a System Program Office who was able to test out the tool and adjust it to fit his mission. The two shared lessons learned and questions, ultimately improving both of their processes.

"Anybody that works in requirements probably struggles with how to compare one requirement to the next ... at the end of the day it's always going to come back to money. What this tool is really trying to do is learn as much about a requirement as possible so if I have one more dollar to spend I can put it in the right place to get the most value for the organization," said Swift. "That's what everybody wants to do: invest wisely so they're building for the future."

Mail early to ensure packages reach loved ones over holidays

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy David Vergun
Army News Service

WASHINGTON (11/12/13) - With the holidays coming up fast, now is the time to consider mailing early, especially to loved ones overseas, said Peter Graeve, a retired Soldier who is now with the Military Postal Service Agency.

Despite the popularity of sending cards via the Internet and chatting on social media, Soldiers really like to receive something they can put in their hands, he said. "It's one of those traditions that's still with us. They still appreciate getting letters and packages."

Graeve said the volume of letters and packages increases this time of year due to gifts being sent by spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, family and friends. But he said in addition to that, care packages seem to be especially popular.

Care packages include things like chocolates, soap and toothbrushes. "Even though they have it over there, the Soldiers really seem to appreciate receiving the items anyway," he said.

Although there are fewer Soldiers in remote areas of Afghanistan and other countries, there are still some in outposts that don't have Internet access, he said. These Soldiers especially look forward to mail call.

Getting your package there on time

To get mail to a Soldier by Christmas at APO/FPO/DPO AE 090-092, 094-098, 340, or 962-966, the latest a package can be sent to arrive on time is Dec. 17 - that means senders have to pay for Express mail. To send them earlier - and pay less - senders can put them in the mail by Dec. 10, and pay for either 1st Class or Priority mail.

Priority mail to APO/FPO/DPO AE 093 must be sent by Dec. 3.

The deadline for Parcel Post to all locations mentioned is Nov. 12.

The deadline for SAM parcels for all locations mentioned is Nov. 26. SAM parcels are paid at the Parcel Post postage rate with maximum weight and size limits of 15 pounds and 60 inches in length and girth combined. SAM parcels are first transported domestically by surface and then to overseas destinations by air on a space-available basis.

The deadline for PAL for all locations mentioned is Dec. 3. PAL is a service that provides air transportation for parcels on a space-available basis. It is available for Parcel Post items not exceeding 30 pounds or 60 inches in length and girth combined. The applicable PAL fee must be paid in addition to the regular surface rate of postage.

All classes of mail addressed to FPO/APO addresses must use the nine-digit ZIP code to ensure delivery. Mail not addressed correctly will be returned to the sender as undeliverable.

It is recommended that customers check with their local civilian or military post office for information on size restrictions and the possible need for customs declaration forms.


As a reminder, some items cannot be mailed. Examples include switchblade knives, pornography, controlled substances, and explosive or incendiary devices. If in doubt as to what can or cannot be sent through the mail, contact your local civilian or military post office.

Some other tips include choosing a box with enough room for cushioning material around the contents, and ensuring that old labels and markings on used boxes are covered.

Senders should also be sure to use adequate tape to seal their packages, and reinforce the seams with two-inch wide tape. Use clear or brown packaging tape, reinforced packing tape or paper tape.

As a final note, customers are cautioned that packages must not be mailed in boxes that have markings related to any type of hazardous material, such as bleach, alcohol, or cleaning fluids. Parcels found by the U.S. Postal Service with such markings or labels on the outside of the box will not be processed.

States focus on deployment health to improve readiness and resilience

Click photo for screen-resolution image
ARLINGTON, Va. (11/12/13) - For 376 years, the National Guard has proudly served both our local communities and our nation at home and around the world." In 2012/2013 alone, states mobilized and responded to domestic floods, wildfires, tornadoes, and hurricanes, and deployed overseas in support of training foreign allies, humanitarian relief and combat operations.

"The past decade has created the most capable and battle-tested National Guard units and seasoned leadership in history" said Col. Jill Faris, deputy surgeon general, Army National Guard." "Given the experience of our Soldiers, and several states responding to CONUS (domestic) and OCONUS (overseas) deployments throughout the year, we have to get in front of health risks and mitigate any challenges our Soldiers face during deployment and redeployment."

To improve access to care and strengthen ready and operational units across the Guard, the Army has developed the Deployment Health Assessment Program (DHAP), a preventive tool that provides early identification and care for emerging physical and behavioral health conditions during the deployment cycle." Each assessment addresses health issues and injuries such as traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, environmental exposures and combat-related injuries."

"The DHAP provides Soldiers and Army civilians the chance to discuss a wide range of physical and behavioral concerns in a private and confidential setting with a trained health care provider" said Maj. Traci Willie, program executive officer for the Army National Guard, DHAP. "DHAP is a vital tool for each Soldier who receives orders to deploy, and also a valuable way for commanders to champion medical readiness within their units and across states and U.S. territory."

As a critical tool of the Army’s Ready and Resilient Campaign (R2C), DODI 6490.03 mandates DHAP execution for all OCONUS deployments greater than 30 days to locations not supported by a fixed U.S. Military Treatment Facility (MTF)." Additionally, DHAP assessments may be required based on environmental risks and commander’s discretion for all other deployments (OCONUS) less than 30 days, OCONUS deployments with fixed U.S. MTFs, or CONUS deployments).

"To maintain a strong force and maintain operational commitments at home and abroad, we must invest and take action to protect the physical and behavioral health of our Soldiers." The DHAP provides Soldiers a gateway to care and gives commanders the ability to reduce non-deployable status across their unit and get care for those Soldiers that need it the most" Faris said."

The three DHAP assessments are completed in the following order during the deployment cycle:

•Pre-DHA (Pre-Deployment Health Assessment, DD Form 2795) is taken within 120 days of deployment and revalidated within 60 days

•PDHA (Post-Deployment Health Assessment, DD Form 2796) is taken during redeployment

•PDHRA (Post -Deployment Health Reassessment, DD Form 2900) is taken 90-180 days after deployment

The DHAP execution takes place at the unit level. It is the responsibility of unit commanders to take measures to provide a healthy and supportive environment for all deployed and redeployed Soldiers/Army civilians to openly and honestly participate in the DHAP within the specific time frames for each assessment.