Military News

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

'Final toast' honors remaining Doolittle Raiders

by Desiree N. Palacios
Air Force News Service


11/13/2013 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) -- The Air Force hosted the famed Doolittle Tokyo Raiders' final toast to their fallen comrades during an invitation-only ceremony Nov. 9 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

"Tonight is a night of conflicting emotions: pride in our Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, sorrow at the end of a mission and a myriad of other emotions," retired Maj. Lloyd Bryant, the Master of Ceremonies, said as he opened the ceremony.

On April 18, 1942, 80 men achieved the unimaginable when they took off from an aircraft carrier on a top secret mission to bomb Japan. These men, led by Lt. Col. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle, came to be known as the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders.

The ceremony was attended by three of the four living Doolittle Tokyo Raiders: retired Lt. Col. Richard "Dick" E. Cole, the copilot of Aircraft No. 1; Lt. Col. Edward J. Saylor, the engineer-gunner of Aircraft No. 7; and Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher, the engineer-gunner of Aircraft No. 7. The fourth living Doolittle Raider, retired Lt. Col. Robert L. Hite, the copilot of Aircraft No. 16, could not attend the ceremony due to health issues.

"The Doolittle Raiders are the epitome of this innovation spirit of Airmanship. We owe these 80 men as well as their army and navy teammates a debt of gratitude," said Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning. "Gentlemen, once again, thank you for what you did for your country.

"Thank you for representing all those you served with and thank you for inspiring all of us everyday since then. Godspeed."

Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III followed Fanning.

"As far as I'm concerned, this is the greatest professional honor I've ever had to speak here with this crowd at this event," Welsh said.

"The very first book I read as a young guy was Thirty Seconds over Tokyo. It was given to me by my father, also a World War II vet, with the words that I should read it closely because this is this what America is all about. I've never forgotten those words.

"The Doolittle raiders have been celebrated in book and in journals ... in magazines ... in various papers. They've had buildings named after them ... had streets named after them. People play them in movies.

"They hate to hear this, but Jimmy Doolittle and his Raiders are truly lasting American heroes, but they are also Air Force heroes. They pioneered the concept of global strike ... the idea that no target on earth is safe from American air power.

"In the last two weeks gentlemen, I've received emails from a number of today's bomber crew members. They asked me to assure you and your families this evening that your legacy is strong and safe with them.

Welsh ended his speech by thanking the Raiders for their service to the nation.

"Sir (Cole), for you and the brothers beside you ... your service was a gift to a nation at war ... the family and friends who stood proudly beside you since and to hundreds of thousands of American Airmen who continue to stand on your shoulders and hope to live to your example. Airpower ... the raiders showed us the way," he said.

Fanning and Welsh presented the Doolittle Raiders with an Eagle as a token of their appreciation and gratitude.

Cole was then asked to open the 1896 Cognac and give a toast. The year of the bottle of cognac is Doolittle's birth year.

"Gentlemen, I propose a toast," Cole said. "To the gentlemen we lost on the mission and those who have passed away since.

"Thank you very much and may they rest in peace," he ended.

The 80 silver goblets in the ceremony were presented to the Raiders in 1959 by the city of Tucson, Ariz. The Raiders' names are engraved twice, the second upside-down. During the ceremony, white-gloved cadets poured cognac into the participants' goblets. Those of the deceased were turned upside-down.

The Doolittle Raiders received a standing ovation from the crowd, but before closing the ceremony retired Col. Carroll "C.V" Glines, the historian for the Doolittle Raiders and a distinguished author, said, "This concludes the ceremony and also completes a mission."

RPAs: One more arrow in the quiver

by Senior Airman A.K.
432nd Wing, 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs


11/13/2013 - LAS VEGAS, Nev.  -- The Airmen who work with remotely piloted aircraft believe reaching 2 million flight hours was just the beginning of the still untapped capabilities of the systems and program.

This feat continues to expand the future of the RPA community with infinite possibilities.

Col. James Cluff, 432nd Wing/Air Expeditionary Wing commander, said hitting a milestone with this significance highlights the tremendous potential of remotely piloted aircraft and its technology.

"For our allies, it is one more opportunity for combined operations and increased chances for interoperability," he said. "It also highlights that the true strength of our military is our people - this achievement was a direct result of dedicated, innovative Airmen who were given a challenge and did not limit their thinking as they solved a problem. It proves that this is not an 'unmanned' system - very far from it. Our people made this possible."

Misconceptions about the RPA community include the notion that using RPA technology replaces current manned assets in the Air Force inventory.

"There is nothing further from the truth," Cluff said. "Those of us who are part of this amazing enterprise are the first to admit that RPAs have limitations and that there are some missions and mission areas where we are not capable. The RPA community is a complement to manned assets, not a replacement. We are just one more arrow in the joint warfighter's quiver."

When talking about the future of the program, Cluff, said as the community advances forward it's important to take what accomplishments have already been achieved and capitalize on those.

"The Marine Corps have used RPAs to move supplies around the battlefield; the Navy is starting to develop remotely piloted capability in order to defend ships," he said. "We recently saw the use of an MQ-1 as a tool to help fight the Yosemite forest fire. While there are definitely some missions where the technology is not mature enough to use remotely piloted assets such as air-to-air combat, in other areas I think we are more limited by either our current fiscal challenges like air refueling for, or our cultural expectations, the transporting of personnel by unmanned vehicles, than we are by technology."

Cluff said the best way to reassure people that RPAs are not used to invade privacy, is by telling the RPA story and exposing citizens to the incredible capabilities.

"I think their fears are a direct result of not being accurately informed rather than as a result of any misdeeds by the military in our employment of this capability," he said. "We are very cognizant of the federal law with respect to use of military intelligence assets inside the borders of the United States."

Over the life time of the program, RPA's have provided support not only to war time missions, but have provided immense support to humanitarian operations.

"It would not have been possible for the U.S. Air Force to provide the amount of multi-role support that the joint warfighter needed without the use of remotely piloted aircraft," Cluff said. "And without a doubt, those two million hours of RPA support have directly saved thousands of American and allied lives.

"It should not really surprise anyone that there are significant capabilities that RPAs bring to humanitarian operations. The U.S. military, active duty and the total force, has for years been able to use tools of warfare and adapt their use in order to save lives. Just like in wartime operations, RPAs are proving to be an outstanding complement to manned assets in the area of humanitarian relief and defense support to civil authorities (DSCA)," he added.

As the role of the Air Force has changed over the last decade, so has the capability of RPA's to adapt to the ever changing mission set that they face.

"I think the past ten years have demonstrated that RPAs are a perfect match for the total force," Cluff said. "The ability to fly combat/operational support missions from stateside allows our total force personnel to continue to support our combatant commanders on a daily basis without having to leave home or be mobilized. Additionally, the use of an MQ-1 to help fight forest fires, as well as recent use of an MQ-9 to perform search and rescue, demonstrates how valuable of an asset RPAs can be for a state beyond just being a combat asset. They are truly multi-role assets and I fully expect more and more governors to request RPA units and capability for their states."

36th MXG adopts maintenance operations flight

by Airman 1st Class Emily A. Bradley
36th Wing Public Affairs


11/13/2013 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam  -- The 36th Maintenance Group's Maintenance Operations Flight was recently renamed "maintenance operations" and merged with other elements of the 36th MXG staff in early September as part of an Air Force-wide deactivation order.

"Although with this deactivation comes the end of the 36th Maintenance Operations Flight, their strong tradition of maintenance excellence remains inherent in the 36th Maintenance Group staff. The merger ensures that the functional competencies of maintenance operations are a direct reflection of maintenance group leadership goals and objectives," said Col. Kim Brooks, 36th MXG commander. "We will continue to depend on the outstanding contributions of our maintenance planners, schedulers, analysis, training, programming and operations center members."


Maintenance operations, previously known as the maintenance operations flight, is responsible for five functional sections: maintenance management analysis, maintenance management scheduling, maintenance training, maintenance operations center and programs and resources. Each section will continue their respected missions as they normally would.

"The maintenance operations flight is traditionally subordinate to a maintenance operations squadron, but the squadron does not exist on Andersen," said Master Sgt. David Whetzel, 36th MXG maintenance operations superintendent. "The [maintenance operations flight] still offers all the services that would normally be provided by the squadron."

The inactivation of the flight is part of an Air Force-wide initiative, initially presented by the Air Force Reserve Command, to better align maintenance objectives for the future fiscal years, Whetzel said.

The primary cause of the deactivation of all maintenance operations squadrons and flights is a shortage of field grade officers, specifically majors, in the maintenance community, he added.

Functionally, there has been no change in the day-to-day procedures. Maintenance operations is the central agency for monitoring and developing long-range strategies to maintain aircraft and resources. The section ensures effective use of available resources to accomplish the aircraft support and maintenance events to support the flying schedule.

"Maintenance operations will continue to provide the same expertise in contribution to the wing's overall mission success," Whetzel said.

Exercise MAX THUNDER wraps up

by Tech. Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher
7th Air Force Public Affairs


11/13/2013 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Exercise Max Thunder, the bilateral aerial training exercise that trains U.S. and Republic of Korea Air Force pilots to work closer together against a hostile force, ended on Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Nov. 8.

The exercise is held twice a year, once on Gwangju Air Base hosted by the ROKAF and once on Kunsan AB hosted by the U.S. Air Force.

In total, 97 aircraft from the ROKAF, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps flew 849 sorties simulating a broad array of air-to-air and air-to-ground missions while U.S. and ROK air defense artillery units, including two batteries from the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, exercised their air defense mission.

New to this year's exercise was the U.S. Marine Corps' Marine Air Group 12, who flew F/A-18C Hornets to Kunsan AB from bases in Japan to participate. Maj. Kendall Spencer, Exercise Max Thunder U.S. Air Force Exercise Lead, said the Marines fit right in and provided a valuable perspective to the exercise.

"We had much more joint integration this year," Spencer said. "It was the best integration in a joint and combined fashion that we've had yet. We had Marines here and also U.S. and ROK air defense artillery units participating. We also supported a special operations course so we worked with several different components in Combined Forces Command."

ROKAF Col. Min-Oh Seo, ROKAF 38th Fighter Group commander, said the exercise is indicative of the strength of the ROK-U.S. Alliance.

"Max Thunder provided us the opportunity to experiment and enhance ROK-U.S. Air Forces' combined war-fighting capability and reception and support of augmented forces," he said. "As we utilize more of these opportunities, the combined Air Power is committed to be the strong deterrence force and will be the first to strike the heart of the enemy with precision in combat."

The 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan AB hosted Max Thunder participants, who came from all over Korea and Japan to train together. Col. Timothy Sundvall, 8th Fighter Wing vice commander, said the U.S. and Korean militaries have come a long way in combined training.

"Sixty years ago when the United States fought alongside of the Republic of Korea, we had to learn how to fight together during battle," he said. "Exercises like this allow us to train like we are going to fight if the defense of the Republic of Korea should ever be necessary in the future. Max Thunder provided invaluable training and enhanced U.S. and ROK interoperability to ensure we are ready for any contingency."

Spencer said the exercise could not have happened without the total team effort of the 8th FW.

"The 8th Fighter Wing supported this exercise in a world class manner," Spencer said. "The men and women of the Wolf Pack did an outstanding job. It was seen by all the Air Force personnel and every Marine I talked to."

Exercise Max Thunder is part of a continuous exercise program to enhance interoperability between U.S. and ROK forces and is not tied to any real-world or specific threats. These exercises highlight the longstanding military partnership, commitment and enduring friendship between the two nations, help ensure peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to stability in Asia.

The next Max Thunder exercise will be held in the spring of 2014.

Candy Bomber drops in 65 years after Berlin Airlift

by Staff Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla
59th Medical Wing Public Affairs


11/13/2013 - HONDO, Texas  -- It was 1948, World War II was over and the Cold War had begun. For many German families, living conditions were tough and food was scarce. But for the children of Berlin, there was a glimmer of hope, and it came from the sky.

Army Air Corps 1st Lt. Gail Halvorsen, a C-47 pilot stationed in Germany in support of the Berlin Airlift, handed two sticks of gum to local children peering through a fence near a local airport. That small gesture at Berlin's Tempelhof Airport led to Operation Little Vittles, a humanitarian mission that continued for 15 months.

After that first meeting with the children, Halvorsen decided to collect his candy rations and fasten them to parachutes made with cloth and string.

"The look in their eyes, I could see their appreciation for something so small," Halvorsen recalled. "I wanted to do something more so I told them to come back later."

His plan was to fly over and drop the candy to the children.

"They asked how they would know it was me," Halvorsen said. "I told them I'll wiggle the wings."

From that point on, he was known to the children as "Uncle Wiggly Wings." To the rest of the world, he would become the "Candy Bomber."

On Nov. 9, Halvorsen, now a retired colonel, took part in a re-enactment of the Berlin Airlift at the South Texas Regional Airport in Hondo, Texas. The community and service men and women gathered to participate in the event, watching as more than 160 children ran to gather the 2,000 candy bars, which descended from a vintage C-47 Skytrain.

Among the crowd was a special visitor, Berlin-native Heike Jackson, nee Kiausch. Jackson, who lived in Germany during the Berlin Airlift, remembers what it was like to see Halvorsen's plane approach and the candy drop from above.

At age 6, Jackson, like other children in the local area, would anxiously await the plane with the wiggly wings.

"He was our savior," Jackson said. "We had nothing to eat; we would've died."

Jackson later married a U.S. Army soldier and moved from Berlin to the United States while he was still in the service.

Jackson never thought she'd come face-to-face with "Uncle Wiggly Wings," but 65 years later, she did. What did she do to commemorate the event? She brought some candy along.

"It's kind of like déjà vu. The feeling is hard to describe. To see that wonderful man alive is amazing," she said. "It's a full circle somehow. I'm very touched and overwhelmed."

"I did it for the children, to see the smiles on their faces," said Halvorsen, now 93.

And 65 years later, halfway around the world, he managed to get one more smile from a surviving child of the Berlin Airlift.

Joint Task Force-Bravo provides medical care to more than 1,200 in Honduras

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


11/12/2013 - SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- Joint Task Force- Bravo's Medical Element partnered with the Honduran Ministry of Health and the Honduran military to provide medical care to more than 1,200 people in Plan de Leones and Cuesta de la Virgen, two remote villages in the department of Comayagua, during a Medical Readiness Exercise November 4-6.

"This exercise offers an opportunity for growth for all involved, not just in their medical field, but to learn and train with other medical specialties in the military and the civilian sector," said U.S. Army Capt. Andrew Foss, the commander for this mission. "The personnel on these exercises have a unique opportunity to work together and learn from each other whether they are U.S. armed forces, Honduran military, or from the Honduran Ministry of Health."

The JTF-Bravo and the Honduran military worked jointly to provide preventative medicine to more than 1,200 patients, including classes on hygiene, nutrition, and preventative dental care. They also provided dental care, immunizations, wellness checkups, medications, and some minor medical procedures.

"Missions like these give us a chance to test our skills and they allow us to provide medical help to people in areas that might not always have access to a hospital or clinic." said U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Clayton Perry, the noncommissioned officer in charge for this exercise. "When women and children wait for up to an hour just to see us, you know you're doing something special and it's great when you see all the different services and civilians coming together to make it happen."

Members of the 228th Combat Support Hospital, San Antonio, Texas, were at Soto Cano for their pre-deployment site survey and were also able to go on the MEDRETE and help their counterparts while receiving a firsthand experience of some of the work they will be doing when they replace the current MEDEL next year.

Joint Task Force-Bravo conducted MEDRETES in all seven Central American countries last year providing health care to more than 11,000 patients. These missions help to support U.S. Southern Command's humanitarian and disaster relief programs in order to strengthen civil-military cooperation between the United States and nations in the region.

50th anniversary flag commemorates Vietnam war veterans

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


11/12/2013 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Service members past and present gathered at the commissary here to pay tribute to Vietnam War veterans, and witness the unveiling of the 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration flag, Nov. 7, 2013.

Ret. Col. Ray Kleber was the guest speaker at the ceremony. Kleber served as the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base commander from 1973 until 1975.

"I spent 25 years of service flying fighters and being combat ready, waiting, to go to Vietnam and be able to fight in a war to do what I wanted to do when I first started my Air Force career," said Kleber. "Today, we remember the individuals who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country."

Kleber added that the personnel working on military installations today are the real heroes.

More than 50 people, including a dozen Vietnam veterans, attended the event to bear witness to a flag unveiling for their contributions from years past.

"This was a very impressive ceremony, long overdue for a lot of my men," said Eric Cantu, Vietnam War veteran. "I'm a little bit stronger today because of some ceremonies I've been to and side projects I've been involved in. For any Vietnam Veteran who has not been exposed to this type of support and gratitude, I believe it would be overwhelming for them."

Col. Lamar Pettus, 4th Fighter Wing vice commander, reflected on the contribution of Service members past and present to conclude the ceremony.

"This flag symbolizes the sacrifices made by over 58,000 service members in Vietnam," Pettus said. "Those who didn't come home, who made the ultimate sacrifice and those who still bear the scars of their service there. We still have service men and women (overseas) fighting and although we are commemorating Vietnam today, it's important for us to remember that."

In honor of all veterans, more than 500 Airmen from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base will march in a Veterans Day parade in Downtown Goldsboro, N.C., Nov. 11 at 10 a.m.

A Lasting Legacy: The 92nd Bomb Wing and the Strategic Air Command emblem

by Mr. Jim O'Connell
92nd Air Refueling Wing historian


11/6/2013 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Throughout its history, Fairchild Air Force Base has been assigned to a variety of commands. These include Air Services Command, Army Air Force Material Services Command, Air Technical Services Command, Air Materiel Command, Strategic Air Command, Air Combat Command and Air Mobility Command.

Of all these, Fairchild spent the majority of its time under the SAC emblem. The base was transferred to SAC on Sept. 1, 1947, and remained a SAC base for 46 years until June 1, 1992. On that date, Fairchild was reassigned to ACC. The final move transferred the base to AMC on July 1, 1994.

During it tenure in SAC, the wing's B-29 Superfortress, B-36 Peacemaker, B-52 Stratofortress and KC-135 Stratotanker played integral roles in the nation's nuclear deterrence mission. The base's B-52s went on 24-hour alert beginning on Jan. 7, 1958, and remained on continuous nuclear alert until Sept. 28, 1991. The KC-135s joined the alert force in early 1958.

While the aircraft and their mission played an integral role, an Airman from the 92nd Bomb Wing also made a lasting contribution to SAC's legacy. In late 1951, SAC held a command-wide contest to design its emblem. The winner was a 92nd Bomb Wing Airman, Staff Sgt. R.T. Barnes. He was a senior operations intelligence specialist who worked in the wing intelligence office. One of his responsibilities was to design posters and displays seen throughout the briefing room area. A recalled reservist, Barnes formerly attended the California College of Arts and Crafts. He planned to return to the college after his release from service to complete his art education and obtain a teaching certificate.

His iconic design won in the SAC-wide contest from a field of 65 entries. Designs were judged on artistic conception of SAC's mission. The judges were: General Curtis E. LeMay, SAC Commander-In-Chief, Gen. Thomas S. Power, SAC Vice Commander-In-Chief and Brig. Gen. A. W. Kissner, SAC Chief of Staff. Barnes' winning design netted him a $100 United States Savings Bond.

Like Barnes, our Airmen continue to make a difference through their deeds. Whether great or small, these actions all contribute to Fairchild's legacy of excellence and continue to make an impact refueling freedom around our world. It is upon their shoulders that the following generations of Airmen will stand as the long, blue line continues.

Active shooter exercise tests medical group

by Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


11/12/2013 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho  -- Shots rang out and rounds echoed off the floor of the 366th Medical Group building here Nov. 13.

Unknown to hospital personnel, at exactly 12:15 p.m. and 1 second a gunman, escorted by exercise controllers, was calmly surveying the hallways for anyone who decided to be curious or forgot their active-shooter training.

"With recent active shooter incidents throughout the country, it's important to get this valuable training out and prepare both military and civilian counterparts either here on- or off-base," said Master Sgt. Francis Woznick, 366th Security Forces Squadron NCO in charge of standards and evaluations. "This training isn't isolated to just casual work-center drills, these are vital survival skills."

The purpose of the exercise was to prepare the hospital staff to respond to an active-shooter situation.

"The safety of our patients and staff is extremely important to 366th Medical Group leadership and they felt the time spent on such training would enhance the level of safety," said Lt. Col. Robert Corby, 366th Medical Support Squadron commander. "We want to be able to expose opportunities for improvement in an exercise environment so we are fully prepared to respond in the event of a real-life situation. The training exposed hospital personnel to a realistic active-shooter situation that mirrored the environment and associated confusion brought on by a heightened state of anxiety."

The confusion tested hospital personnel as well as the systems in place to address such a situation.

"While the exercise did identify some opportunities for improvement with respect to those systems and processes, the greatest impact was that it generated discussion among our personnel," said Corby. "As staff departed the exercise area you could hear discussions concerning what we could do better and how we would react next time. This type of situation at the 366th MDG is no longer a theoretical possibility but a situation our staff can identify with and actively participate in planning for. We have made the choice to be ready."

Woznick explained the steps individuals must take in order to protect themselves during an active shooter rampage.

"The main points are basically to run, hide and fight," he said. "Run by having an escape plan and help others if possible. If you cannot safely run then hide from view of the shooter, block any entryway and remain silent."

"As a last resort don't become a victim by choosing to stand in place," said Woznick. "If you find yourself face to face with the shooter and all other options of running and hiding have failed--fight. Use any means possible, throw items at the shooter, and even turn the tables and attack the shooter. Use as much aggression as you can possibly use to protect your life. Go for vulnerable points such as eyes, throat, groin...no parts are off-limits. At this point it's your own personal war; fight to win."

Medical Group squadron commanders received a briefing and presentation prior to the exercise about the actions people should take during this kind event.

"This exercise was a team effort between the 366th Fighter Wing leadership, MDG, SFS and Public Affairs," said Corby. "The goal of today's exercise was to expose MDG personnel to a realistic active shooter scenario. The teamwork between base leaders was essential to ensure we could generate a realistic situation while keeping our patients safe and community informed. People took the exercise very seriously and reacted with a great sense of urgency. The addition of an armed aggressor in this exercise brought a level of realism that significantly contributed to the staff's situational awareness."

'I will die before I give up' : ACC Commander vows deploying Airmen will remain trained, equipped

by Senior Airman Jack Sanders
451st Air Expeditionary Wing


11/12/2013 - KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan  -- The Commander of Air Combat Command visited Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Nov. 8, 2013, to meet with Airmen and leadership during a tour of the Southwest Asia Area of Responsibility.

Gen. Mike Hostage said understanding the conditions and expectations of the Airmen here will help to ensure training standards continue to prepare Airmen to meet all aspects of future deployments.

"One promise that I will make, that I will die before I give up on it, is that I will not send an Airman over here who is not trained and equipped to do the job," Hostage said.

While meeting with Airmen of the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing, Hostage took time to answer multiple questions. The questions ranged from retrograde of the mission in Afghanistan, fiscal restraints and training, to future Air Force development and operations.

"After we're done with Afghanistan are we all going home and stopping this deployment stuff?" Hostage asked. "Sadly, no. When I first came in the Air Force we had 700,000 Airmen. Since then we've cut ourselves in half. We have 500 fewer airplanes than we had back then. Back then, we had 11 fighter wings in Europe. Today we have three. Yet, we're required to be forward during peacetime. That hasn't gone down, in fact it has gone up. For our Air Force that means a continuous ops tempo, maybe not the same places, and maybe not the same types of missions."

Hostage said that Airmen will see things like retraining and a slimming of the fleets as fiscal budgets continue to tighten.

"We can meter our numbers and bring in a few less and let a few more leave who want to leave; so we can adjust the numbers over time to get our force numbers down," Hostage said. "The problem is when we have to come down in those numbers faster than those voluntary means can get us there. That's when we have to do things like career job reservations. If you're in an overage career field, there are times when we have to say, 'Well I'm sorry, I know you want to reenlist, but we don't have room for you in your career field, so you don't get to reenlist. However, if you want to retrain into one of our shortest career fields then you can probably stay.' That's the type of things that you'll see as we move forward."

Talk of moving forward brought questions from Airmen about future programs and policies.

"I'm fighting hard to keep our future programs on track," Hostage said. "So today we have F-15s and F-16s that are 25, almost 30 years old. Most fighters are meant to last about eight to 10 years. We've got them triple that. They're still very capable, and they're still better than anything else out there. But, we've got folks out there who are building the next generation of competitive airplanes. They potentially can be much more capable than an F-15 or an F-16.

"Eventually we have to replace our old airframes," Hostage said. "We're still having political problems because it's expensive to buy new airplanes, and it's expensive right in a time when our budget is being constrained."

Hostage concluded the visit with Airmen by saying he was impressed by the questions addressed to him.

"Today's Airmen are very smart," he said. "They ask the hard, important questions and genuinely take an interest in the future of their Air Force."

Hostage has several other stops scheduled to meet with Airmen all around the AOR. He said meeting Airmen here allowed him a better understanding of expectations and requirements and gave him a chance to address concerns of deployed Airmen.

Mortgage Investors Corporation Involvement with Veterans Airlift Command



The Mortgage Investors Corporation is well known for their involvement with the Veterans Airlift Command (VAC). In fact, MIC recently made a $200,000 donation to VAC, a non-profit veteran support agency. By providing service to the VAC, they are supporting America's troops by allowing our troops to be able to get a mortgage when they return from their tour of duty in addition to other financial services. Founded in 1938 by Veterans, it is the ideal choice for others serving our country. The MIC corporate headquarters is located in St. Petersburg, Florida, and it is also state licensed and VA approved in more than 20 states.

Providing Veterans with excellent service is the number one goal of the MIC. Serving those who have fought in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the MIC has a vision of being the number one lender for all members of the VA in current times. When they have the capacity, they also assist those who have served in other military operations. According to their website, the MIC has "resulted in more than 350,000 satisfied Veterans and over $43 billion dollars in Veterans' mortgage refinancing in the last 15 years alone." Their dedication to the VAC helps strengthen family stability in the country thus helping form bonds in communities and neighborhoods.

Perks of using MIC are that they come to the homes of Veterans to conduct business. They also take care of other tedious aspects when it comes to purchasing or selling a home. The MIC wants to make the experience as pleasurable and pain-free as possible. They show their thanks to our Veterans by serving them in the same dedicated manner that those Veterans have to serve our country.

With 75 years of service, the MIC continues to exemplify their dedication to the service men and women of our country. Giving back to the VAC shows the appreciation felt and the understanding that these Veterans need excellent service in terms of settling back in to daily life after a tour. The MIC offers a convenient service that allows Veterans to feel comfortable while taking care of important home and family matters.

Helping out an unsheltered individual with a meal is an obvious-enough move, and this is relatively easy to find. It's more difficult to find assistance with long-term responsibilities like mortgages and credit ratings, which are difficult enough to navigate without additional challenges cropping up from the outset.

A good example of a company working to help correct this deficiency is the Mortgage Investors Corporation. They specialize in assisting veterans with the refinancing of homes. This is a very specific thing to assist with, but it is also a source of critical scarcity. Refinancing appropriately can have a major impact on anyone's long-term financial situation, but this isn't the sort of thing you can find assistance for per-se. Having a dedicated organization for veterans to turn to means that they can find dedicated help immediately, securing a more stable financial future for themselves an their families.

Many organizations shy away from this sort of long-term assistance because it doesn't have quite the same cachet as pulling someone off the street and finding them a job. However, the impact is just as pronounced, if not moreso, insofar as the number of lives it can touch. Finances are a defining factor in quality of life, so assistance with their long-term organization can completely change one's life.

As the plight of veterans comes to light more, and more people come to understand how much more important long-term assistance can be, it's nearly certain that more organizations will follow the example of MIC and their peers. Providing financial assistance in the form of collective bargaining and investment will never be as glamorous as rescuing someone at the end of their rope. However, it is still very deep and meaningful assistance that cannot be ignored. "Refinancing" doesn't sound like something that can be heroic. It sounds like a boring, grown-up responsibility that no one will explain in high school. Nevertheless, for those with families, it can secure a brighter financial future, the impact of which can be felt for generations, and assistance can be deeply heartfelt.

Cutlass Express Boosts Maritime Interoperability in East Africa

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2013 – A maritime exercise underway in East Africa is helping regional partners build capability and an ability to work together to better confront piracy, illegal fishing and other transnational challenges, reported Navy Capt. Guy Jackson, the exercise director.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Navy Chief Petty Officer Charles H. Johnson guides a practice illegal fishing scenario during the preparatory phase of Cutlass Express 2013 on a Seychelles Coast Guard base, Nov. 8, 2013. U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Luis R. Chavez Jr.
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Cutlass Express 2013 kicked off yesterday, with the maritime forces of 13 nations and several international organizations participating in the week-long exercise, Jackson told American Forces Press Service during a telephone interview from Seychelles.

The exercise is in its third year, one of four Africa-focused regional “Express” series exercises led by U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. 6th Fleet and in support of U.S. Africa Command’s theater engagement.

All are part of Africom’s efforts to improve the quality of military-to-military engagements across the African continent and help African partners increase their capacity to provide their own security.

Last month during a virtual news conference, Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez, the Africom commander, reported “major progress” in maritime security along Africa’s East Coast, thanks largely to more robust multinational cooperation.

About 300 participants in Cutlass Express 2013 hope to build on that progress during operations at four naval hubs: Port Victoria, Seychelles; Mombasa, Kenya; Djibouti; and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Initially training in port, with a two-day at-sea phase to begin Nov. 14, they will focus on improving cooperation, tactical expertise and information-sharing practices, Jackson said.

The participants will exercise boarding procedures and techniques, medical casualty care, radio communication and information-sharing techniques during scenarios designed to mirror real-world operations to counter piracy and illicit trafficking, as well as actions to deter illegal fishing, Jackson said.

The training has become increasingly advanced each year since the first Cutlass Express exercise in 2011, which focused primarily on partnership building, he said. “Now we are moving forward with more formalized training and with more resources around the exercise and scenario development,” he said. “So it is becoming more sophisticated, with a goal of getting the teams better trained.”

One of the big challenges, Jackson explained, will be to ensure seamless operations among the four maritime operating centers involved in the exercise. “We want to make sure there is a good handoff across those areas, because illegal fishing and piracy can move very fluidly across those areas,” he said. “So we really want to make sure we have helped to enhance the coordination, cooperation and interoperability in that area.”

Following the “underway” portion of the exercise, the participants will spend a day assessing the operations and identifying lessons learned that can be applied to future operations.

“For me, this is about sharing best practices and enhancing interoperability,” Jackson said. “There are a lot of great skills out here, and we are seeing some very well-qualified folks working to help bring everyone to the same level of expertise. That ensures we are stronger as one team, able to work together across each of the locations.”

Speaking during an opening ceremony yesterday in Seychelles, Jackson described the impact of exercises such as Cutlass Express 2013 on regional security.

“We want to continue to make the waters off East Africa a safer place, and that’s what you’re here to do,” he told participants. “Cutlass Express is designed to enhance maritime security capabilities, improve information sharing and strengthen the bonds of each and every participating nation, so we can all work together for the long term.”

Participants in Cutlass Express 2013 hail from Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, Comoros, Yemen, the Netherlands, Denmark and the United States. The exercise also includes representatives from the Eastern Africa Standby Force, NATO and the European Union Naval Force

Centcom Strives to Preserve, Share Combat Trauma Lessons



By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2013 – U.S. Central Command is working to ensure the lessons learned and experience gained in combat medicine during the past 12 years of conflict in its area of responsibility are preserved so they can be adapted for future missions anywhere in the world.

The Centcom surgeon’s office developed the Joint Theater Trauma System in the mid-2000s to improve the level of care provided to wounded warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan. The system, which addresses combat care from the point of the injury through increasing levels of care and into rehabilitation, is credited with some of the most sweeping advances ever made in military medicine.

Calling the medical professionals who promoted them “the heroes of this conflict from a medical standpoint,” Air Force Col. (Dr.) Mark Mavity, Centcom’s command surgeon, said he is committed to ensuring those gains aren’t lost as combat operations wind down in Afghanistan.

“As we move forward, the challenge is now to take those lessons and be able to sustain those and move those forward in preparation for the next conflict,” he said. “So as the JTTS gets smaller in the theater, we are working through those issues to ensure we can ramp it back up to its potential when and if we would need to.”

The success of that effort will extend far beyond Centcom’s area of responsibility, Mavity said.

“This is a capability we tested and developed in Centcom, but it is absolutely applicable to any theater of operations that we could find ourselves engaged in as a U.S. military,” he said. “That drives us to work hard to make sure the experience we have gained in this single theater are distributed and that the knowledge gained is available to the Military Health System, regardless of the theater.”

The JTTS provides a proven model for projecting “this very low-supply but high-demand capability of trauma specialists and pre-hospital care specialists,” Mavity said. “We have got to get this captured, all the way from ‘How do we execute a joint trauma system in a deployed environment?’ to the very individual tactics, techniques and procedures in the medical level of execution.

“What’s important,” he continued, “is that we make sure we understand the process, we capture that, and then we build the pieces into our deployment machinery such that we can replicate this same capability with the same kinds of skills mixes and insert them, no matter where this military is asked to go fight in the future. That way, when we go establish another theater of operations somewhere, we will be able to capture those lessons as we plug the same capabilities with the same kinds of experts from trauma surgeons down to forward-based operational medical folks.”

But Centcom isn’t waiting for the end of combat operations in Afghanistan to begin its outreach. While remaining focused on the ongoing wartime military medical mission, the command’s medical staff already is at work helping counterparts at the U.S. Pacific Command develop a model of the Joint Theater Trauma System relevant to the Asia-Pacific region.

“The objectives are the same, but the practice environment is very different,” said Air Force Col. (Dr.) Jeffrey Bailey, director of the Joint Trauma System, who recently returned from Afghanistan, where he served as the Joint Theater Trauma System director.

A Pacom working group dedicated to the project interfaces closely with its Centcom counterparts “and is pretty far down the road” in developing its own model, Bailey reported.


Welsh: Air Force Will Resist ‘Requirements Drift’ in New Bomber



By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2013 – The Air Force’s long-range strike bomber program continues to ramp up, and senior leaders are determined that the platform will come in on budget and on time, the service’s top officer told the Defense Writers Group today.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III told the group that any change to the requirements for the long-range strike bomber program must go through him.

“And I don’t intend to approve anything until I am absolutely convinced that it makes sense to change the requirement,” he added.

The bomber program is needed, Welsh said, noting that the newest B-52 Stratofortress entered the Air Force fleet in the early 1960s. The last B-1B Lancer bomber was delivered to the Air Force in 1988, and the last B-2 Ghost stealth bomber entered the inventory in 2000.

“The important thing is we need a bomber fleet in case -- God forbid -- we have to conduct a large-scale campaign,” Welsh said. “We need a sufficiently sized bomber fleet to do that.”

Current plans call for the new aircraft to enter the inventory in 10 years. The Air Force is spending $440 million on the program this year, but that cost will rise to $1 billion next year. This increase enables the Air Force to plan how to integrate the bomber and its systems, Welsh said.

The aircraft’s operational capabilities will remain secret.

“Cost is an independent variable on this playing field, because we have to field this platform,” Welsh said.

At a cost of $550 million per aircraft, he added, “we can field a meaningful platform that will be effective in the future warfight.”

The bomber will not feature a leap in technology, the general said, but it’s going to be a very capable machine.

“What we don’t want to do is reach into some level of technology that is impractical,” he added. “That’s where prices start getting out of control.”

The Air Force must resist “requirements drift,” Welsh said, and it will not keep adding to the requirements base for a platform without proven technology.

“We are not going to go there,” he told reporters.