Monday, December 16, 2013

4 AF Award honors fallen Scott Airman

by Maj. Stan Paregien
932nd Airlift Wing

12/15/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Fourth Air Force has named a new award after a 932nd Airlift Wing Airman who lost his life during Operation Enduring Freedom.

The "Fourth Air Force Technical Sergeant Anthony C. Campbell Award for Mission Support Group Excellence" honors the explosive ordnance disposal technician who was killed Dec. 15, 2009, while attempting to steer his team clear of an improvised explosive device during a cordon and search mission in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Campbell, assigned to the 932nd Civil Engineer Squadron, here, stymied enemy bomb makers with the discovery and destruction of more than 280 pieces of ordnance and bulk explosives used to make IEDs.

Lt. Col. Lori Walden, 932nd CES commander, was appreciative when hearing the news of the award with Campbell's name attached to it.

"I'm pleased to see the memory of Tech Sgt Tony Campbell will remain at the forefront of our attention by remembering his dedication and sacrifice in the form of the 4th Air Force Mission Support Group Annual Award. Sergeant Campbell's heroic actions and unselfish devotion to his country are a testament to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician he was," said Walden.

"He courageously cleared a safe path to the mission objective, provided security over-watch for his team and selflessly moved the team out of danger upon recognizing an improvised explosive device in the team's path just before it detonated. His quick actions contributed to the safety of the other team members.

"Tech. Sgt. Campbell will never be forgotten by the Civil Engineer family and it's an honor for this award to be named after him," added Walden.

The award will be given to the best Mission Support Group in 4th AF each year.  The 932nd AW is a subordinate unit under 4th AF, headquartered at March Air Reserve Base, Calif.

Hagel Continues Consultations With Israeli Defense Minister

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon today to continue their close consultations on shared regional security challenges and the strong defense cooperation between the United States and Israel, Assistant Pentagon Press Secretary Carl Woog said.

In a statement summarizing the call, Woog said the two defense leaders discussed Hagel's recent trip to the Gulf region and his Dec. 7 remarks at Manama Dialogue in Bahrain.

“Secretary Hagel underscored the United States' commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Woog said. “They also discussed the situation in Syria, including the international community's efforts to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons program.”

Hagel and Yaalon pledged to continue to stay in close touch on these and other priority regional issues, and reaffirmed the unprecedented strength of the U.S.-Israel defense relationship, Woog said.

Today's phone call followed the fourth meeting between Hagel and Yaalon this year, he added, which took place at the Halifax International Security Forum last month in Canada.

Komatsu ATR wraps up

by Staff Sgt. Amber E. N. Jacobs
18th Wing Public Affairs

12/16/2013 - KOMATSU AIR BASE, Japan -- The 67th Fighter Squadron from Kadena Air Base, Japan, concluded a week-long Aviation Training Relocation Program with Japan Air Self Defense Force members at Komatsu Air Base in western Japan, Dec. 14.

Approximately 90 Airmen and six F-15 Eagles were deployed from Kadena to Komatsu for the ATR where pilots conducted tactical air combat training with JASDF F-15s.

The ATR Program is designed to increase operational readiness and interoperability between U.S. and Japanese forces while reducing the impact of training on local communities in southern Japan. One of the benefits of the ATR program is it promotes U.S. and JASDF squadrons to build relationships not only face-to-face but also in the air.

"ATRs bolster interoperability by getting face time, as opposed to sending emails or doing coordination over the phone or going to conferences and just sitting around the table talking about it," explained Lt. Col. Morris Fontenot, 67th Fighter Squadron commander. "Instead, we actually get to go out and do it."

This ATR mission was the first time Kadena fighter pilots have flown with the JASDF 303rd and 306th Tactical Fighter Squadrons in nearly 6 years.

"It was very positive." said Maj. Daniel Yerrington, 18th Wing chief of safety. "We were able to brief, fly, debrief together ... and all of that accumulated to where we were able to have a great success for interoperability."

The JASDF's 6th Wing at Komatsu Air Base, flies many aircraft including F-15s. Working side-by-side Kadena Airmen, mostly from the 67th Fighter Squadron, have had many opportunities to interact and see how JASDF Airmen accomplish a similar mission.

"We provided red-air for them (JASDF pilots)," Yerrington explained. "Despite the JASDF executing different tactics then we normally would, they proved to be successful, and I was impressed they did a good job overall."

Many career specialties spent time learning how their JASDF counterparts did the same job as well as showing them how they do their job. Airmen from the 18th Security Forces Squadron and 18th Operations Support Squadron even held demonstrations promoting an exchange between the two countries.

"I would say the overarching theme is ambassadorship," Fontenot said. "We ask a lot of our Japanese partners ... so this is one of many opportunities that our United States militaries has to engage with them and show them that we can come here, we can be good stewards, and when we leave here the goal is we leave a good impression."

While poor weather led to the cancellation of some training missions, the overall objective was met and the ATR was a success, according to Fontenot.

"It's a chance to practice our expeditionary skills," Fontenot explained. "We also work on building relationships, so if we ever integrate in a real-world scenario the faces are familiar and the tactics are familiar."

Although the training is important, the relationships and interactions will also be remembered as this ATR comes to an end.

517th AS reflects on Exercise Kiwi Flag

JBER Public Affairs Staff Report

12/16/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The end of November is usually a busy period. A time when most celebrate one holiday and immediately begin preparations for a second, only weeks away. The 517th Airlift Squadron experienced a different urgency during this period, but with warmer weather.

In November, the 517th AS participated in Kiwi Flag, a multinational tactical air mobility exercise in New Zealand. Kiwi Flag was the airlift portion of Exercise Southern Katipo 2013, the joint military exercise, which hosted ten nations and more than 2,000 people.

"Kiwi Flag provides the 517th Airlift Squadron an opportunity to practice deploying into an environment simulating wartime operations in a foreign country," said Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel Dobbels, 517th AS commander.

Air Force Capt. Gabriel Wetlesen, 517th C-17 Globemaster III AS pilot, said the practice mirrors some aspects of deployments.

"Both require extended time away from home and family," Wetlesen said. "Both have a higher operations tempo and integration with foreign countries."

The unit's role in Kiwi Flag was to move cargo and people between New Zealand's north and south islands.

"More airdrop and formation training is available in these exercises than at home station," Dobbels said. "This increases the level of experience crews gain during condensed training timelines."

Dobbels also mentioned the exercise serves as an opportunity to strengthen partnerships with U.S. allies in the Pacific region, which the tasked aircrew reiterated.

"We were constantly working hand-in-hand with the New Zealand Air Force from mission planning to loading cargo and personnel," said Senior Airman Chelsea DiMarco, 517th AS loadmaster. "If we weren't capable of doing something, they were right there trying to problem solve with us. We were able to show them just how much cargo and personnel the C-17 is capable of loading as well as all the different procedures we have for loading specific items."

Wetlesen said members of the Royal New Zealand Air Force flew with them on every flight. They shared perspectives and experiences to include one such conversation with the Singaporean Air Force C-130 Hercules director of operations.

"They fly with five crew members, but may reduce that after their C-130s are upgraded," Wetlesen said. "He flew with me to see how we operate a C-17 with only three crew members."

DiMarco and Wetlesen said they had great experiences during the exercise, but one event that stuck out was flying the first C-17 mission of the exercise.
"We had to deal with low ceilings and poor visibility to make it into the airfield," Wetlesen said.

"We flew into Timaru to drop off the first load of cargo and personnel," DiMarco said. "There were so many locals gazing through the fence line, snapping photos and watching our every move. It was amazing to see that many people interested in what we were doing down there."

"It was after this sortie that I found multiple entries in blogs and on YouTube, which highlighted the importance of the (USAF) C-17s as part of the exercise," Wetlesen said. "New Zealand is a beautiful country and the people are wonderful to get along and work with. We learned a lot about flying in New Zealand, which we will pass to the group going next year."

DOD Continues Central African Republic Peacekeeping Support

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2013 – The Defense Department sent another Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport jet from Burundi to the Central African Republic today in support of the African Union-led International Support Mission in that beleaguered nation, Army Col. Steve Warren, a Defense Department spokesman, told reporters here.

The aircraft carried 39 personnel, a 1.5-ton truck, an armored personnel carrier and six pallets of equipment totaling 42 tons, he added.

Since Dec. 12, when the airlift mission began, eight C-17 flights have traveled from Burundi to the Central African Republic, carrying 432 passengers, 25 pallets of equipment and 13 Burundian military vehicles, Warren said.

“There’s another flight scheduled today, and two more scheduled for tomorrow,” he added. “We estimate another 165 personnel will move on those three flights.”

Two of the C-17s and a small command and support team were on the ground in Uganda by Dec. 11, preparing to conduct airlift operations in support the ongoing peacekeeping operations, Warren said last week.

Also last week, a Pentagon official said a second small team of Air Force logisticians was on the ground in Burundi to prepare equipment for loading, and a third team was in the Central African Republic to help with security operations at the airfield.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian requested limited assistance from the U.S. military to support this international effort, Assistant Pentagon Press Secretary Carl Woog said in a Dec. 9 statement.

“In the near term,” he said, “France has requested airlift support to enable African forces to deploy promptly to prevent the further spread of sectarian violence in the Central African Republic.”

In an audio message released Dec. 9, President Barack Obama called on the transitional government to arrest those who are committing crimes.

“Individuals who are engaging in violence must be held accountable -- in accordance with the law. Meanwhile, as forces from other African countries and France work to restore security, the United States will support their efforts to protect civilians,” Obama said.

On Dec. 10, the president authorized the State Department to use up to $60 million in defense services and equipment for countries that contribute forces to the international support mission.

The assistance could include logistical support such as strategic airlift and aerial refueling, as well as training for French and African forces deploying to the Central African Republic.

The United Nations has estimated that more than 600 people have been killed in sectarian fighting in the Central African Republic. In addition to troops from African countries, France has dispatched several hundred troops to its former colony to help quell the unrest.

Can't fly without supply

by Senior Airman Zachary Perras
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/16/2013 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- For a select group of Icemen, Eielson's mission of prepare, deploy and enable is one they contribute to directly by supplying the needed equipment to successfully accomplish it.

Airmen with the combat-oriented supply organization of the 354th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron play an integral role in assisting the maintainers who work on Eielson's Aggressor aircraft by ordering parts that will either replace or fix different pieces of the jet.

"We're very meticulous in what we do because the success of the maintainers often depends on how we perform," said Tech. Sgt. Karlisa Dawes, 354th AMXS COSO NCO in charge. "COSO is a vital part of getting the aircraft off the ground here."

COSO Airmen also check the serviceability of items and maintain the hazardous materials on the flight line. They work closely with maintenance Airmen, so it is absolutely important they understand what is needed.

"You almost have to know how to speak two different languages," Dawes said. "We've got to have a general idea of what it is the maintainers need when they come and ask for it, even if it's not what we'd normally call a piece."

This type of interaction keeps COSO Airmen on their toes, said Senior Airman Heidi Agustin, 354th AMXS COSO technician.

"There's more to supply than just ordering and counting parts," said Agustin. "You've got to be on your game and take initiative to provide the maintainers the opportunity to do their job to the highest ability."

For the maintainers who work closely with COSO, they know just how important getting the supplies is, whether it's day-to-day tasks or during RED FLAG-Alaska.

"Our job doesn't get done without COSO," said Staff Sgt. Patrick Fallis, 354th AMXS avionics technician. "It's just that simple - without them, we'd fail."

For Agustin, working at COSO has provided a deeper sense of belonging.

"It truly is amazing to work here - it makes me feel like we get to see the bigger picture because I understand just how important my job is," she said. "I really couldn't appreciate my significance until I understood that I was directly engaged with the mission here."

18th Operations Support Squadron provides vital support

by By Staff Sgt. Amber E. N. Jacobs
18 Wing Public Affairs

12/13/2013 - KOMATSU AIR BASE, Japan -- Several F-15 Eagle aircraft sat at the end of a runway. Then, in what seemed like a blink of an eye, they zoomed across the landscape and took to the air soaring high into the gray morning sky here Dec. 11.

This scene is the bedrock of the U.S. Air Force's operations, but before the pilot can step into a jet and take off to support the mission whether it is at home station or down range, there is one critical stop that must be made: the aircrew flight equipment section.

Pilots cannot fly these aircraft without the help of aircrew flight equipment specialists who ensure the safety of the Airmen through the maintenance of helmets, oxygen masks and garments which counteract centrifugal forces, or "G-suits."

"We are extremely important to the mission," said Tech. Sgt. Nicole Mather, 18th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment specialist, "Because the pilots don't fly without our equipment, so it is important for the equipment to be fully operational and ready to go at all times."

The aircrew flight equipment specialists play a vital role in not only allowing pilots to easily fly, but also keeping them safe.

"The equipment is critical because it is what supports our life; we call it life support equipment for a reason," explained Maj. Jay Talbert, 67th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations. "It protects us if we have to bailout of the aircraft and it also allows us to function inside the aircraft."

Anytime the jets deploy or go on TDY at least two aircrew flight equipment specialists need to go for on the site fixes.

"Everyday something may come up," Mather said. They may need to get refitted to their G-suit, or need an ops check on their mask or their helmet. If something happens to their equipment they need to have aircrew flight equipment there to support them."

Aircrew flight equipment specialists must be precise in ensuring the function of all equipment, Mather said. Meticulous inspections are performed, such as checking the visors for cracks, ensuring the helmets have no dents or cracks and all of the interior parts are in place.

"So when we go to a pilot's peg we make sure all of their gear is serviceable and it has a good serviceable date," Mather explained. "We do a communications check on it to make sure the pilots are able to speak to one another; that they can breathe, and everything fits properly."

The harness and survival gear are also inspected and repaired on an as needed basis so if the pilot has to eject, the proper gear is in place and operational to aid in survival and rescue efforts, providing the pilots reassurance when they fly their missions.

"I know that I have good folks that have done their job to make sure that the equipment is doing its job so we can do ours," Talbert said.

But at the end of the day after all of the helmets have been turned in and have been post-flight inspected, for Mather it wasn't about long hours and detailed inspections, it was about the final product.

"We work very hard," Mather said. "But the most rewarding part about my job is just knowing that I'm putting out a good product and it does its job effectively."

Airmen in Damayan: Helping from 50-feet above

by Senior Airman Marianique Santos
36th Wing Public Affairs

12/16/2013 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam  -- Editor's note: This is the first of a three-part series featuring the personal experiences of 36th Contingency Response Group Airmen who supported Operation Damayan -- a U.S. humanitarian aid and disaster relief effort to support the Philippines in the wake of the devastating effects of Typhoon Haiyan.

More than 80 Airmen from the 36th Contingency Response Group made their way to the Philippines in support of Operation Damayan, a multi-national effort to bring relief and aid to the island nation devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, and after assisting Philippine forces in clearing and managing Tacloban airfield and unloading water and relief goods intended for survivors, the Airmen returned here with an experience they will remember forever.

Master Sgt. Clinton Dykes, 36th CRG air traffic control NCO in charge, viewed the devastation through the shattered windows of the 50-foot control tower where he saw the devastating effects of the category 5-equivalent super typhoon.

"I had a view of the ocean-surrounded airport, and I was in disbelief that a storm could produce such havoc, as I had never seen this type of damage in person," Dykes recalled. "It was at that moment I experienced sadness and a heart-wrenching feeling knowing there were thousands of displaced families and many lives lost, yet thankful we were there to help the Philippine military make a huge difference for this devastated area."

As the sole representative of the Air Force on the control tower, he worked with three U.S. Marine Corps air traffic controllers around the clock to control military aircraft traffic, splitting shifts in order to get enough rest for demanding work conditions. He also worked alongside Manila International air traffic controllers who volunteered to control civilian aircraft traffic.

"It was a tremendous experience, and we all learned from one another," Dykes said. "We actually utilized one another's techniques to control the chaos within the airspace and ramp.

"Before our arrival, there was a ground time of over 60 minutes which truly hindered aid operations," he continued. "However, once we implemented control priority procedures for arrivals, departures, and ground traffic, ground time decreased to 30-40 minutes."

The air traffic controllers' contributions increased operations and ensured timely arrival for the incoming aid and relief goods. The air traffic control team supported helicopters, small civilian airframes, aircraft carrying distinguished visitors, commercial and cargo aircraft, as well as assets from the United States, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Italy and Sweden.

According to Dykes, the biggest challenge was adapting to the environment and moving from an exercise to a real-world mindset.

"This is what the CRG trains for, and we executed our duties extremely well," he said. "Knowing that we contributed millions of pounds of aid and seeing the people of Tacloban smiling and thanking us provided me with great satisfaction. Once we had to leave, I knew we were leaving it much better than we found it."

Because of the long-standing partnership and friendship between the two nations, the U.S., working with the Philippine government, was able to rapidly respond with critically needed capabilities and supplies in times of crisis. The U.S. military teamed with the Philippine government to rapidly deliver humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to the areas the Philippine government deemed most in need.

"This is the CRG's main mission focus, and we were absolutely ready to deal with this disaster," Dykes said. "Our training had a great deal to do with the success of this humanitarian aid and disaster relief mission and our efforts contributed to the end state desired by the Philippine government.

"This is absolutely the highlight of my career," he continued. "If it were not for me being in the CRG, this opportunity would never have been possible."

Joint U.S., Japanese senior enlisted leaders visit Okinawa

by Senior Airman Marcus Morris
18th Wing Public Affairs

12/13/2013 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The U.S. and Japanese military forces have been working together for more than half a century, and one way they have kept their bonds strong is through an annual joint Senior Enlisted Leaders' Conference.

While it is usually held in Tokyo, Japan, this year Okinawa military took the reins and hosted the event.

"This was the first time the annual bilateral SEL conference was able to be hosted in Okinawa," said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Montgomery, 353rd Special Operations Group command chief. "The conference increases coordination and communication between the U.S. and Japanese forces by allowing us to share mission operations and better understand one another."

During the three-day conference American and Japanese senior enlisted leaders learned how the Japanese and U.S. forces are trained, revealing similarities in the way each other conducted international operations. They also demonstrated to each other their war and peacetime procedures, such as their combat medical skills, local security procedures and gun-line drills and rescue operations.

"The conference allows the U.S. and Japanese forces to get to know each other and interact more smoothly as a joint force," said Japan Joint Staff Warrant Officer Mitsunori Watanabe, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chief of Joint Staff. "It also allows us to teach our leaders and subordinates how the military forces act with each other to better work together."

"We are grateful for the time shared with our Japanese counterparts," said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. James Laurent, 5th Air Force command chief. "We look forward to next year's joint SEL conference."