Military News

Saturday, December 21, 2013

"676" Stratofortress static display stands proud

by Scott King
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


12/19/2013 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- There's a story behind everything, and it holds true to the B-52 Stratofortress static display in the Heritage Park near the entrance of the base.

The B-52, serial number 56-0676, is a D model and has a long and impressive history. It was delivered to the Air Force in August 1957, and its first assignment was at Fairchild. During its service career, "676" transferred to numerous Strategic Air Command bases and even returned to Fairchild in the late 1960's.

The 92nd Air Refueling Wing historian, Jim O'Connell, knows the importance and history of this aircraft.

"We are very fortunate to have such a historic aircraft in our Heritage Park," O'Connell said. "Since it was stationed here in the 92nd Bombardment Wing several times during its active duty career [including its first assignment], this is its home - Fairchild is where it belongs."

However, "676" was not assigned here during its most memorable flight. On Dec. 18, 1972, during Linebacker II operations over North Vietnam, "676" became the first B-52 to shoot down an enemy MiG aircraft. The tail gunner, Staff Sgt. Samuel O. Turner, fired his 50 caliber machine guns at a MiG-21 as it moved in to attack the B-52. Turner reported a "gigantic explosion to the rear of the aircraft" and was credited with being the first tail gunner to log a confirmed kill during combat in a B-52.

"I often say that '676' was the first B-52 to shoot down a MiG, but then I have to correct myself," O'Connell said. "The aircraft didn't actually shoot down the MiG; a U.S. Air Force noncommissioned officer shot down the MiG. Although we often focus on aircraft because they're big, fast and powerful, we have to remember that it was the Airmen who flew, maintained and supported those aircraft who have defined our outstanding airpower legacy. That being said, I am still proud to have '676' at Fairchild, because it carried so many Airmen into battle and returned them home safely - it was a great warrior."

The red star on the side of "676" identifies it as a MiG killer. There have been only two B-52 MiG kills in history, the other one occurring on Dec. 24, 1972, also during the Linebacker II campaign. The second B-52 MiG killer is on display at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

On Oct. 12, 1983, "676" departed its last active duty base, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to fly here to its final resting place. This was the Air Force's last B-52 D model flight. B-52 D serial number 56-0676 served our nation well.

AFRC commissions artist to document heroism

by Senior Master Sgt Minnie Jones
433rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


12/18/2013 - Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas -- Maj. Warren Neary, an Individual Mobilization Augmentee historian, was commissioned by the Air Force Reserve Command's History Office to paint scenes of Air Force Airman who were recognized during the 2013 Air Force Association's Air and Space Conference.

Neary, a civil-servant historian at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., is also a member of the Air Force Art program.  "AFRC's History Office thought it would be interesting to have an Air Force artist, who is also a reservist, create the paintings of these great reserve Airmen and their stories," Neary said.

One of subjects of Neary's paintings will be Capt. Adriana Valadez, a reservist assigned to 433rd Aeromedical Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, who was acknowledged at the conference for extraordinary heroism.

Valadez was deployed with the 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. While flying on mission call-signed "Bandage 33" in late March 2013, Valdez and her five-person medical team picked up an Air Force Combat Controller, Tech. Sgt. Zach Rhyner, who had been severely wounded on a battlefield in northern Afghanistan. The Airman suffered extensive wounds, including a gunshot through his leg fracturing his femur.

Rhyner's condition began to deteriorate while en route to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. He began to bleed heavily and his blood pressure dropped.

Valdez contacted the aircraft commander and had the aircaft diverted to Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan. While in flight, the aircraft met with turbulence, making it difficult to keep pressure applied to the wounds. To assist better Rhyner, Valdez strapped herself to the side of his litter and continued to apply pressure to his wounds to control the bleeding until they landed.

Once the painting of the Bandage 33 mission is finished, Neary understands the original portrait may hang in the Office of the Chief of the Air Force Reserve at the Pentagon. Additional copies will tentatively hang at Headquarters AFRC, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., and the 433rd Airlift Wing here.

"It is always a pleasure creating paintings of our Airmen in action serving our county. And naturally, it's a subject that I enjoy as a member of the Air Force Reserve," Neary said.

Individuals can view other artwork of Neary at the U.S Air Force Art Collection website at http://www.afapo.hq.af.mil/Presentation/main/Index.cfm.

Face of Defense: Deployed Airmen Prepare for Holiday Feast



By Air Force Senior Airman Hannah Landeros
379th Air Expeditionary Wing

SOUTHWEST ASIA, Dec. 20, 2013 – Being separated from family during the holidays can be a tough time for deployed service members.

At the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing here, the 379th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron food services team works to bring holiday food and cheer to service members and civilians away from home for the holiday season.

The Independence Dining Facility accomplishes this and feeds the most people in the U.S. Air Force Central Command area of responsibility 24/7.

Holiday meal planning begins nearly two months before the event takes place.

More than 100 volunteers, including other country nationals and military members make up the team that prepares the meal and provide an atmosphere of holiday cheer.

“Our body, mind and souls need a little relaxation from time to time, and celebrating the holidays is a great way to consume the good stuff,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Tanja Hawkins, the 379th’s EFSS food services coordinator, and a Waynesboro, Va., native, deployed from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.

Holiday dinners boost morale and make service members feel at home, Hawkins said.

During the holiday dinner, senior leadership volunteer by serving meals to service members, coalition partners and contractors, explained Air Force Airman 1st Class Sean Jeffcoat, a Fayetteville, N.C., native, deployed from Malmstrom Air Force Bace, Mont.

“It really means a lot to our customers when they come in and see their leadership and mentors going to work with their aprons and chef hats,” Hawkins said.

It’s a team effort bringing the holiday spirit to a deployed location, Jeffcoat said.

The dining facility provides 2,000 to 2,500 meals during the holiday season. Combined with the other dining facilities on base, approximately 9,000 meals are served during this time.

Along with preparations for the holiday meal, members of the food services team continue their daily duties providing quality assurance to the dining facilities. These duties include temperature checks on the freezers, regular temperature checks on food being served on the line and ensuring that the appropriate food is served.

Quality assurance is provided to ensure public health standards are met.

“The best part of a project is seeing the other personnel in awe,” Jeffcoat said. “We appreciate it when patrons show their gratitude for our hard work.”

Ground Fire Injures 4 U.S. Troops in South Sudan



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2013 – Four U.S. service members were injured today when their aircraft came under ground fire in South Sudan during a mission to evacuate American citizens in Bor, according to a statement issued by U.S. Africa Command.

The updated Africom statement reads as follows:

“At the request of the Department of State, the United States Africa Command, utilizing forces from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), attempted to evacuate U.S. citizens from the town of Bor, South Sudan, today.

“As the aircraft, three CV-22 Ospreys, were approaching the town they were fired on by small-arms fire by unknown forces. All three aircraft sustained damage during the engagement. Four service members onboard the aircraft were wounded during the engagement.

“The damaged aircraft diverted to Entebbe, Uganda, where the wounded were transferred onboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 and flown to Nairobi, Kenya, for medical treatment.

“All four service members were treated and are in stable condition.”

The United States recognized South Sudan as a sovereign, independent state on July 9, 2011 following its secession from Sudan, according to the U.S. State Department’s website. The United States played a key role in helping create the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that laid the groundwork for the 2011 independence referendum and secession.

Several disputes between Sudan and South Sudan remain unresolved post-independence, including the management of oil resources and the status of the Abyei region, according to the State Department website. The United States supports the efforts of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel to help the parties work through these issues.

On Dec. 18, about 45 U.S. service members deployed to South Sudan to support the security of U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy, according to a Dec. 19 letter President Barack Obama wrote to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.

The text of the president’s letter reads as follows:

“On December 18, 2013, approximately 45 U.S. Armed Forces personnel deployed to South Sudan to support the security of U.S. personnel and our Embassy. Although equipped for combat, this force was deployed for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property. This force will remain in South Sudan until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed.

“This action has been directed consistent with my responsibility to protect U.S. citizens both at home and abroad, and in furtherance of U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.

“I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in these actions.”

In recent years, South Sudan “has made great progress toward breaking the cycle of violence that characterized much of its history,” Obama said in a separate statement issued Dec. 19.

Today, however, South Sudan’s “future is at risk,” Obama added. South Sudan, he said, now “stands at the precipice,” with recent fighting there threatening to plunge the country “back into the dark days of its past.”

Obama continued: “But it doesn’t have to be that way. South Sudan has a choice. Its leaders can end the violence and work to resolve tensions peacefully and democratically. Fighting to settle political scores or to destabilize the government must stop immediately. Inflammatory rhetoric and targeted violence must cease. All sides must listen to the wise counsel of their neighbors, commit to dialogue and take immediate steps to urge calm and support reconciliation.”

South Sudan’s leaders must “recognize that compromise with one’s political enemy is difficult, but recovering from unchecked violence and unleashed hatred will prove much harder,” the president said.

“Too much blood has been spilled and too many lives have been lost to allow South Sudan’s moment of hope and opportunity to slip from its grasp,” Obama said. “Now is the time for South Sudan’s leaders to show courage and leadership, to reaffirm their commitment to peace, to unity, and to a better future for their people. The United States will remain a steady partner of the South Sudanese people as they seek the security and prosperity they deserve.”

South Sudan is located on the eastern border of the Central African Republic. The United States established diplomatic relations with the Central African Republic in 1960, following its independence from France, according to Africom’s website. The C.A.R. is one of the world’s least developed nations, and has experienced several periods of political instability since independence.

The United States is deeply concerned about “the shocking and horrific atrocities that have been committed by government-affiliated armed groups and independent militias against innocent civilians in the Central African Republic” in recent weeks, a Pentagon spokesman told reporters Dec. 11.

In an audio message released Dec. 9, Obama called on the transitional C.A.R. 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 articles for countries that contribute forces to the African Union-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic. The assistance could include logistical support -- including strategic airlift and aerial refueling -- and training for French and African forces deploying to the Central African Republic.

AF to mandate organizational, command climate on evaluation, feedback forms



The Air Force will reinforce its performance evaluation system by requiring evaluators to assess what Airmen did to ensure a healthy organizational climate.

Policy modifications, performance feedback, and officer and enlisted evaluation form changes will be implemented Jan. 1.

This increased focus is part of the overall Air Force effort to accentuate the emphasis on sexual assault prevention and response but encompasses a great deal more, according to Lt. Gen. Sam Cox, the deputy chief of staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services.

According to the general, organizational climate is defined as the way members in a unit perceive and characterize their unit environment.  All Airmen are responsible for creating an organizational climate in which every member is treated with dignity and respect.

“It has always been the duty of every Airman to positively contribute to a healthy organizational climate by being a good wingman, adhering to and enforcing standards, not allowing any action that is harmful to the good order and discipline of the unit, not tolerating sexual assault and harassment or any type of discrimination, and of course, building an environment based on a foundation of dignity and respect," Cox said. “This modification to policy now reinforces our responsibilities for organizational climate, ensures it is discussed during feedback and mandates its consideration on every Airman’s evaluation.”

To assist evaluators, the evaluation and feedback forms will be amended to list organizational climate as a gradable factor for consideration and discussion, the general said.

“This is extremely important as we place additional emphasis on this topic and truly change how culture is perceived in the Air Force,” Cox said.

Although the climate of an organization is everyone’s responsibility, commanders have the ultimate responsibility for setting the command climate, and it is incumbent on the commander to continually measure his or her climate and adjust accordingly to the needs of that unit, Cox added.  The policy modifications acknowledge this unique responsibility and authority by mandating the consideration of a commander’s success in maintaining a healthy command climate on all commander evaluations.

“A healthy organizational climate is vital to mission accomplishment and the well-being of the members of a unit,” Cox said.

More than $85 million saved at Robins as part of initiative

by Jenny Gordon
78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


12/19/2013 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- When it comes to finding ways of being more efficient and cost effective in today's budget-conscious environment, Robins is doing its share by contributing more than $85 million toward the "Road to a Billion and Beyond" initiative.

Cost-effective readiness initiatives were implemented earlier this year by Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield, Air Force Sustainment Center commander.

To date, a total of $85.7 million has been saved at Robins, with $71.7 million from the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex and $14 million from the 78th Air Base Wing.

Projects have been submitted from across the installation, including the 78th Civil Engineer Group, responsible for providing, operating, restoring, maintaining and protecting managed assets of Robins infrastructure and facilities.

Due to an update in regulations involving extensive emission limits, performance testing, monitoring, operation and maintenance requirements and recordkeeping of peak shave generators, the 78th CEG, working in conjunction with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, reclassified 12 generators as 'emergency use only' generators. This move will limit the generators to an annual use of less than 100 hours, thereby avoiding the requirement to upgrade and monitor them.

"This was a perfect example of showing a different way of doing business. Over a two year period, their projected cost avoidance was $1.32 million. That's huge," said Greg Huttner, Financial Management director of AFSC's operating location at Robins.

By measuring dollar amounts by hard savings, cost avoidance or cost opportunity savings, the installation is starting to change its culture by thinking more about how cost is part of daily decision-making, said Huttner.

For example, at more than 12,000 feet, Robins is home to the longest active runway in Georgia. When aircraft arrive, a safety net exists for tailhook-equipped aircraft that may need emergency assistance when landing. The BAK-9 Aircraft Arresting System was installed at Robins in 1963. Runways were later updated with the installation of the BAK-12/14 in 1977. While both systems have since been upgraded, it was found that the BAK-9 was outdated and due for a replacement in fiscal 2013.

As Robins' mission is not primarily one of a tactical, training or prime divert facility for tailhook-equipped aircraft, there was not a requirement for both arresting systems to be on the runway, said Huttner. By eliminating the outdated BAK-9, decommissioned by Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, there was a cost avoidance of $379,000, and an annual savings of $125,000 for labor, material and repair for system maintenance.

In the Warner Robins ALC, procuring a new hybrid laser trimming system -- a more reliable machine that will meet workload and certification requirements -- saved $367,000.

"In maintenance what drives a lot of cost is re-work and materials," said Huttner. "By purchasing this new system, that's exactly what it's going to avoid. It will decrease the re-work and decrease material scrap."

Whether it's purchasing new equipment to accomplish the mission more efficiently or avoiding the cost of maintaining or upgrading older equipment, Robins continues to look for ways to operate responsibly when it comes to spending money.

"Here at Robins we have been doing a lot of great things," Huttner said.

As his division continues to validate incoming projects and market organizations to document and share savings, he estimated between $60 million to $70 million is currently being validated throughout fiscal 2014.

Mabus Tightens Navy’s Counter-fraud Measures



By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2013 – While the Navy already has one of the strongest counter-fraud efforts in the government, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus today announced new measures to assure contracting integrity and to prevent fraud.

Mabus, who briefed the Pentagon press corps this morning, spoke amid a criminal investigation focused on Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

The U.S. Department of Justice is prosecuting the case, which alleges the company overcharged the U.S. Navy for husbanding services throughout Asia. Husbanding is the services ships receive in port and covers everything from removing sewage to providing transportation to resupply.

Some Naval officers have been arrested for their involvement in the scheme and Mabus expects more announcements as a result of the case.

Mabus is proud of the work Navy personnel did in uncovering the plot.

“The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, NCIS, along with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Defense Contract Audit Agency did and is doing incredibly impressive work to ferret out the alleged fraud and corruption carried out by GDMA and, yes, allegations against naval personnel, as well,” Mabus said.

The investigation has been under way since May 2010.

“Information gathered during this investigation was eventually turned over to government prosecutors and led to the recent charges filed in federal court,” Mabus said. This included charges filed against an NCIS agent.

Throughout the investigation, Mabus repeatedly instructed NCIS agents to take the investigation wherever it led.

“This is a very serious case, and it is a serious issue,” he said.

The secretary has spoken with all three- and four-star admirals about the investigation and the changes he is making.

“The conduct and the behavior alleged to have occurred in connection with this case is absolutely incompatible with the standards we require from our Navy officers and civilians,” Mabus said. “If, as a result of this investigation, criminal prosecutors decide not to pursue criminal charges, but instead refer cases to the Navy for disposition, I’m announcing that those cases will be reviewed and resolved through a consolidated disposition authority.”

This authority will be a four-star admiral who will ensure that if allegations are substantiated, individuals will be held appropriately accountable, Mabus said.

Since 2009, Navy has suspended 252 contractors and debarred 400, the secretary said. Still, he said, the service must do more.

Mabus is taking steps following receipt of a report reviewing acquisition strategies for husbanding and similar contracts worldwide.

Experts are examining the husbanding contractor process from end-to-end and will recommend changes to correct deficiencies in those procedures and to provide maximum effective oversight of the process. When that task is finished, the Navy will issue a revised acquisition strategy that will be used on all husbanding contracts globally.

The Navy will “further standardize requirements, further standardize contract vehicles, further standardize administration and increase oversight of husbanding contracts and contractors,” Mabus said. The Navy will increase the use of firm fixed-price line items and minimize the use and improve the oversight of unpriced line items.

The service also “will remove pay functions to husbanding service providers from ships and provide better guidance on requirements and more contracting support ship COs going overseas,” he said.

The Navy will also incorporate standardized requisition processes fleetwide, and the service auditor general will conduct a special audit of husbanding and port services contracts. That report is due in June 2014.