Military News

Saturday, January 11, 2014

JB MDL mission partners sweep snow

by Airman 1st Class Sean M. Crowe
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs


1/9/2014 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst mission partners rallied to clear the snow following a winter storm Jan. 2, 2014, here.

The agencies, including the 87th Civil Engineer Squadron Snow Team, 87th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance, 305th Operational Support Squadron Weather Flight and 305th Maintenance Group, coordinated all aspects from forecasting through removal and everything in between to keep the base's missions running despite the approximate 8 inches of snow the storm left scattered on the roads and airfield.

The process begins when the Weather Flight observes an incoming weather event that calls for a significant amount of snowfall. The forecasters provide details such as expected temperature, fall rate and accumulation to key leaders two days prior to the event.

"We aim to provide the most accurate details possible to commanders to arm them with the knowledge to make informed decisions," said Senior Master Sgt. Marc Allen, Weather Flight NCO in charge. "We provide details so they can determine removal priorities, reporting conditions and personnel demands."

The information is given to the 305th Maintenance Group's Snow Control Officer, or SNOF, who directly organizes Snow Control's efforts with the Snow Team NCOIC.

The NCOIC then has two team leads, who are in charge of the airfield and base roads snow removal respectively, assess their areas of responsibility to help plan a course of action.

The assigned SNOF and the Snow Team NCOIC, Tech. Sgt. William White, use the weather forecast and team lead observations to create a course of action for removal.
The course of action includes required manning and the flying mission priorities pushed down from the 305th Operations Group.

"We make our plan and follow our checklists but the weather is unpredictable and inevitably forces us to evolve our strategy," said White. "The process is always changing throughout the event."

Snow Control team members will set out with specialized equipment including airfield plows, airfield brooms, blowers and dispensers for anti-corrosive deicing chemicals.

The first priority for snow removal on the airfield is the runway and descending priorities follow suit of the main ramp then departing and arriving aircraft. The team then follows a checklist to remove the rest of the snow.

"Aircraft scheduling receives information about the event and will schedule aircraft movement around the event details Weather Flight gives them," said Allen. "Snow control makes every effort to keep the mission running as smoothly as possible for the aircraft."

The airfield removal is just as important as the road snow removal and warrants a designated team for each of these areas.

The road snow removal team operates in an almost identical manner prioritizing areas for clearing and working down the checklist. Higher-traffic areas, such as gates, and emergency response necessity warrant higher priority for snow clearance. The road teams uses similar equipment geared for use on the normal roads.

The Snow Teams removal vehicles are notorious for breaking down and needing repairs frequently, so they need the Transportation section to keep the vehicles up and running.

"The rigorous demands of our vehicles require constant upkeep and repairs, which is where 87th LRS comes into play repairing our vehicles for us," said White.

The 87th LRS transportation section provides Snow Control with mechanics dedicated to temporary and permanent fixes to the snow-removal equipment.

"Teamwork is a huge part of ridding the snow," said White. "We work very closely with the Transportation section and continuously foster our working relationship with the mechanics and leadership. Every organization plays its part, including the small ones."

The Flight Kitchen provides box lunches to the Snow Control members since they spend so much time in the Snow Control hangar, or snow barn, furthering the team effort.

"We try to coordinate as much as possible with our partners to maximize effectiveness," said White. "It can be difficult with the uncertain nature of weather, so we plan for the worst, hope for the best and push to get the job done."

The various agencies recover and prepare for the next event upon completion of snow removal. Snow Control cleans and repairs their vehicles and restocks on needed supplies, such as salt, while the Weather Flight stays vigilant for upcoming weather.

The mission partners had readied themselves for this storm, but still had obstacles to overcome. The storm forced 305th OSS Airfield Management to stop airfield operations for approximately 15 hours.

"The temperature did not work in our favor for this storm and made it extremely difficult to de-ice the roads and runways," said White. "The salt will not work well if the temperature is too low and the accumulation rate made it that much more difficult to keep up. Nonetheless, we persevere and finish the job."

DoD Withdraws Sponsorship of Automated Housing Referral Network

from 319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

12/27/2013 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The Department of Defense is withdrawing its sponsorship of the Automated Housing Referral Network (AHRN) beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

AHRN is a direct marketing resource for landlords and property managers to promote available rental units to military members worldwide who are seeking housing at a gaining duty station.

The contract between the DoD and Runzheimer International, which owns and manages the website, was originally developed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and is currently administered by the Department of the Navy. It has been determined that AHRN does not meet the DoD information assurance requirements, and therefore, cannot continue to be sponsored. The contract will expire Dec. 31, 2013, and will not be renewed.

AHRN will continue to function as a commercial website without DoD sponsorship in the new year. Members and property managers who continue to use AHRN's services after the contract expiration will be required to review and accept updated user agreements.

Military members will still have other resources to locate community housing after the contract expiration, however; members may contact their installation housing office for information on available rental properties in the local community. The Air Force housing public website, www.housing.af.mil, also offers specific details by installation for family, unaccompanied and privatized housing.

Local media members travel to Transit Center at Manas

by 2nd Lt. Rachelle Smith
92nd Air Refueling Wing


1/9/2014 - Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. -- From Dec. 10-17, local media near Fairchild Air Force Base were immersed firsthand in a week in the life of a deployed Airman from Fairchild going to the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan. The purpose of the media embed was to help the local community see exactly what Fairchild crews do every day overseas, as well as discuss some of the impact of the impending closure of Manas in July.

The embed was made up of Whitney Ward, a KREM 2 News reporter, Young Kwak, a journalist from The Pacific Northwest Inlander magazine, and Sagar Pathak, a San Francisco blogger. Ward focused on "Treats -2-Troops" and holiday messages home from Fairchild Airmen. Kwak focused on the stories of deployed Airmen from the Spokane area. Pathak documented aircraft and the overall refueling mission.

The group was given firsthand accounts of what everyday life is like during a deployment by Col. Brian Hill, 92nd Air Refueling Wing vice commander and Chief Master Sgt. Robert Mueller, 92nd Medical Group command chief.

"It's great to have you out there and have our Airmen heard," said Hill. "What we do is amazing, and they are the men and women that drive our mission. Their stories need to be shared here and abroad, so we appreciate you coming out."

On the 9-hour KC-135 Stratotanker flight with two aircrews and various other members deploying or traveling Space-A, the group observed the rules of crew rest and the challenge of trying to get comfortable. Upon reaching Manas, the media team conducted interviews and watched pallets of their luggage and gear get unloaded from the KC-135. The PA team from Manas greeted the group and distributed itineraries of events for the next three days.

First, the members observed, photographed and interviewed a population of approximately 500 Marine, Army and Air Force units leaving combat processing at Manas customs and boarding the return flight home.

"We use Department of Defense, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health Services regulations to ensure service members aren't bringing anything onto the plane that that could harm anyone," said 1st Lt. Luke Pace, 391st Military Police Battalion Detachment 5.

The media team also went to the 376th Expeditionary Wing Headquarters to meet Col. John Vaughn, 376th AEW vice commander and Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Warren, 376th AEW command chief, for a mission brief and video. They also answered questions about the impending closure of the Transit Center this July.

"We respect our partners over the last 12 years and their aid to us on the War on Terror," said Vaughn. "We'll honor their wishes and depart."

The team came across Pete's Place, a recreational area of the Transit Center at Manas. Pete's Place was named after Peter J. Ganci, a career fire fighter chief that lost his life in the line of duty on September 11th. At Pete's, service members relax, watch TV and enjoy competitive games of bingo, corn hole and table tennis.

The following day, the team experienced an in-theater refueling flight. The media team faced turbulence filled ride, but better understood what crews from Fairchild undergo daily. They experienced a small slice of what it's like to be a part of a mission that offloaded more than 20 million pounds of fuel to over 12,000 combat aircraft in 2012. Over the course of eight hours, eight American aircraft and two Dutch aircraft were refueled during real world contingencies.

"I met those who were deploying for the first time, and some that have been to Manas time and time again," said Kwak. "My mission was simple, document the base and those who keep it running that are far from home and their families."

The final day at TCM was spent delivering care packages compiled by Fairchild and local community members in the "Treats-2-Troops" campaign to deployed members. Boxes were unwrapped, laughs were swapped and each card was read aloud and appreciated. Final media interviews were conducted and holiday greetings exchanged.

"I spent almost 18 hours over Afghanistan seeing the dedication and direct impact these crews have and am impressed," said Pathak. "Those long training flights over the U.S. all come together so that crews can refuel the fight where it counts and when it counts-- no matter what conditions."

The arrival at Fairchild was marked by family members, friends, applause and smiles. Commanders, spouses and kids alike greeted their deployed loved ones with hugs and cheers.

"I appreciate the local media highlighting our Airmen as they 'Fly the hump of the 21st Century' fueling the fight over in Manas," said Col. Brian Newberry, 92nd ARW commander. "Fairchild has been core to Manas' mission since 2005 and telling our story, a story that also includes the extraordinary support from the community, is paramount."

SecDef visits Warren; stresses importance of mission, gratitude for Airmen's commitment to service

by Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs


1/9/2014 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo.  -- U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited Airmen from the 90th Missile Wing here Jan. 9 to learn about the ICBM mission and the people who operate, maintain, secure and support the Minuteman III weapon system. Hagel took time to speak to Airmen who were selected as top performers by their leadership during an Airmen's event in the 90th Maintenance Group high bay.

"One of the reasons I wanted to come here was to first see for myself what you are doing," Hagel said. "And to personally thank you for what you're doing and reemphasize how important your mission is, how important your work is, how we depend on your professionalism, and how [well] you do your work."

Hagel stressed the gratitude he has for Airmen in the ICBM mission, including extending the appreciation and well wishes from U.S. President Barack Obama.

"There is no more noble profession in the world than your profession to keep peace in the world," Hagel said. "The slogan does matter 'Peace through Strength' and you do it very, very well."

The secretary went on to talk about the impact families bring to the mission here and how their support makes it all possible.

"I want to thank your families for what they do," Hagel said. "The kind of sacrifice your families make for our country allows you to do what you do. Give your families our thanks on behalf of the president, the secretary of defense, all of us. We recognize those sacrifices and we appreciate it."

Hagel talked about the Airmen's professionalism, commitment and attitude, and that these all support the ICBM mission to provide a safe, secure and effective weapon system.

"You have chosen a profession where there is no room for error," Hagel said. "What you do every day, there is no room for error. You know that. The American people expect that. And we have great confidence that's the way we are going to continue to do our job."

When addressing budget concerns, Hagel reassured Airmen that the U.S. will be committed to making sure necessary resources would always be available for the 90th MW and 20th Air Force to accomplish the mission.

"You are doing something for the greater good of the world," Hagel said. "You are doing something important for your families, your future, for your country and for our security. We may not go to war every day, but we have to always remember that every day we help prevent war, and we do that better than anyone else, and we will continue to do that."

Hagel's comments stressed that it's people who accomplish the mission, and it's the efforts of those people who make sure the country remains safe and secure.

"We each are people first before we are Airmen, before we're sailors, before we're infantry men, before we're anything else," he said. "In the end, that's who we are. Good people are good people. How you do your job really is just as important as the job itself because it sets a standard of expectation for you and everyone around you."

Hagel said it's important for leadership to make base visits and learn first-hand about how the job is done rather than relying on reports or briefings.

"It is important for leaders to come out and see things at the ground level and see what's going on," he said. "There is nothing like being out in the field with the people and seeing how they do [their jobs]."

As Hagel wrapped up the Airmen's event, he personally coined each Airman, thanking them for their efforts and commitment to the mission.

"What the 20th Air Force represents, and particularly the 90th Missile Wing, is not only impressive, but important," Hagel said. "And it continues to be important to our country and our future and to our security."

Warrior Day showcases Hickam's 'total force' capabilities

by Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez
15th Wing Public Affairs


1/10/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM -- 
Air Force active duty, National Guard and Reserve Airmen participated in the Inaugural Total Force Integration Warrior Day Jan. 10, conducting in-air training that tested the cooperation and capabilities of multiple base agencies.
 
F-22 Raptors, KC-135 Stratotankers and C-17 Globemasters III from the 15th Wing and Hawaii National Guard's 154th Wing participated in the training day, testing their collective communication and mission execution skills.
 
"The objective is to get us talking to each other, and to learn each other's capabilities," said Lt. Col. Rob Jackson, 19th Fighter Squadron commander. "We'll be able to see our strengths and weaknesses so if we ever needed to, we can fight together effectively."
 
Jackson said he came up with the idea to conduct Warrior Day here because he's had similar training at other bases that was very effective, and highlighted the important ability of multiple base agencies working together.
 
"The more we train together, the more we can demonstrate that we can get places quickly and quietly, and when we get there, we are prepared to execute our mission," Jackson said.
 
The Warrior Day training schedule began Jan. 9 with a pre-mission brief led by Lt. Col. Mark Ladtkow, 199th Fighter Squadron commander and the Warrior Day mission commander. The brief brought together all the participants of the training, covered all projected scenarios, and provided an overview of the day's events.
 
Col. Terry Scott, 15th Wing vice commander, was in attendance and said he hoped the participants would get the most out of the important training.
 
"There are a lot of moving parts to training like this, and I hope you all work together and learn from this great experience," Scott said to the audience.
 
The scenarios involved mock regional incidents in need of U.S. support including air support, special forces posturing and equipment movements, to name a few.
 
Jackson said, as opposed to other well known Pacific Air Forces training exercises, this Warrior Day was able to take the best of those exercises and conduct the training here on a much smaller and cost-effective scale.
 
Some training simulations included combat maneuvers with the F-22s, troop and equipment movements of the C-17s, and refueling operations of the KC-135s.
 
Maj. Nuke Nagatani, an F-22 pilot with the 199th Fighter Squadron, said he thinks the training was effective, especially for some of the newer pilots.
 
"We were able to take our youngest F-22 wingman out into this difficult training mission and it was good lessons learned for him," Nagatani said. "This was the most robust training he has seen."
 
The day ended with an afternoon of post-mission briefings that brought together all the participants of the day, and covered the day's successes and failures.
 
"The post-mission brief is where the lessons are learned," Nagatani said. "That's when [participants] can fess up to the small mistakes they made during the training. They might think the mistake they made was contained to their cockpit, but in the bigger picture, it can snowball into something bigger down the road, so it's good to get those mistakes out of the way now."
 
Jackson said he hopes Hickam has more opportunities to conduct these kinds of training days in the future, and envisions including more regional players.
 
"My vision is that Warrior Day will become a more joint [branch] training exercise that doesn't only include Air Force assets." Jackson said. "That type of joint training ties right in with Air-Sea battle concepts and Joint maritime operations. It's always very important to have those capabilities."

Hanscom program office using expertise to protect trainees

by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs


1/10/2014 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass.  -- A program office here is using its expertise to help ensure the safety of Air Force trainees.

Following occurrences of sexual misconduct during basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, a commander's directed-investigation looked at various programs and procedures to see how the behavior could be prevented.

The final Air Education and Training Command report identified surveillance of specific communal areas to detect personnel coming and going as a needed mitigation tactic.

Brig. Gen. Allen Jamerson, director of Security Forces, often referred to as the Air Force's "top cop," recommended the 737th Training Group, the unit responsible for BMT, look to the Battle Management Directorate's Force Protection office.

"Our program office is known to be very good at what we do -- ensuring the safety of bases and equipment," said Pat Dagle, Force Protection chief. "Now we have the opportunity to protect the Air Force's most vital asset: our people."

The program office got a call late on a Thursday last summer and by Sunday had a team of its best people, including contractors and members of the 46th Test Squadron from Eglin AFB, Fla., heading off to JBSA-Lackland to assess the situation.

"We wanted to leverage all the knowledge and expertise we had available to us," said 1st Lt. Austin Whelan, program manager. "We know this is a small piece of a larger effort to restore trust."

The team surveyed all the existing facilities, including the area and buildings where Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training is completed and new training facilities still under construction. Afterward, the team worked with the 737th TRG to develop a set of requirements and provide a cost estimate.

The Force Protection program office is working a sole source acquisition strategy and will be releasing a request for proposal shortly.

"We knew this work could be done by a small business and wanted to leverage the benefits of working with a small business, so after an extensive look at those businesses with needed capabilities in the industry and the area, Force Protection went with one that had extensive knowledge and experience with Department of Defense facilities," said Bill Donaldson, Hanscom's director of small business programs.

The contract calls for a five-month design and installation effort. It will include a design phase, design review at JBSA-Lackland, installation, integration and government acceptance testing. An initial year of follow-on customer support is also included to allow the user time to finalize their support capability for the life of the system.

"Our goal is to provide a tool to deter future incidents, help restore faith in the community and forensically support future investigations or prosecutions," said Whelan. "We want to be able to track movement through public areas; install a system that meets the needs to help combat the threat."

The team has solicited inputs from legal and investigative teams to ensure the system records and stores video in a manner consistent with what is required for legal proceedings.

The requirements include a robust, three-year storage capability, but program office personnel plan to purchase the media storage incrementally to realize gains from price decay over time.

"As commercial technology constantly keeps improving, the quality gets better and the cost lower," said Whelan. "This is one way we can prudently get the best product for the user, and at a better price."

Approximately 35,000 trainees pass through BMT each year. According to program officials, the need for this assurance was so important that the unit did not permit squadrons to house and train trainees in new facilities until a camera system was in place. A locally installed system is in place for the time being, while awaiting the Battle Management Directorate-installed system.

The Force Protection office understands the criticality of getting the surveillance in place.

"We'll be affecting a lot of lives," said Dagle.

Sexual assault reports drop at service academies



By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

Reports of sexual assault decreased in two of the three military academies in academic year 2012-13, officials of the Defense Department's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office said today.

The statistics came from DOD's Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies, which is being delivered to Congress today.

During the academic year, a total of 70 reports were made at the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy or the U.S. Air Force Academy, officials said. The number of sexual assaults reported declined at West Point and Colorado Springs, but rose at Annapolis.

A report of sexual assault means at least one military victim or subject, said Col. Alan Metzler, an official with the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Office.

Of the 70 reports, 53 came from cadets and midshipmen for events they experienced in military service. "We are getting reports from victims for events prior to their military service or prior to entering the service academies," Metzler said.

The report provides an assessment of the effectiveness of the service academies' policies and training to prevent sexual violence. The assessment found the academies were compliant with their policies regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault during the academic year, which ran from June 2012 to May 2013.

"What we found was the academies instituted a lot of new initiatives to enhance training, improve awareness of sexual harassment and assault and to promote a safe environment for all cadets and midshipmen," Metzler said.

The report includes information from focus groups of midshipmen and cadets. "They told us – and we're pleased by this – that reports of sexual assault or sexual harassment would be taken seriously by academy leaders, and they would be dealt with appropriately," the colonel said. "That's the good news."

Still, cadets and midshipmen also identified some peer pressure barriers to reporting these crimes, he said.

Noting that these young men and women are the future officers and leaders of the U.S. military, Metzler said it is important to put in place programs, regulations and policies in these schools to change the culture that permits the crimes of sexual assault to take place.

Dr. Nate Galbreath, who wrote the report, put the drop in reports in perspective. "We want to see more reports," he said. "This is an under-reported crime. The challenge we have this year is that without the prevalence number to understand the rate of sexual assault or unwanted sexual contact, it is hard to interpret this data."

The anonymous survey that provides an estimate of how often cadets and midshipmen experience unwanted sexual contact is only done every two years.

"We do want to continue to see reports of sexual assault go up -- this is a historically under-reported crime," Galbreath said. "More reports means we can provide victims they help they need, that we can independently investigate and hold offenders appropriately accountable. We are encouraging our superintendents to take some steps to increase victims' confidence."

Servicewide, the biggest news in the sexual assault prevention and response world is establishing special victims' counsels. "We believe this is a game-changer," Galbreath said. "These lawyers are provided to victims of sexual assault, and whether they file a restricted or unrestricted report, they will be able to discuss the case with their own attorney and be able to discuss the pros and cons of going forward with their cases or leaving them restricted.
"That and other programs, we hope, will increase confidence in the process, and that seems to be the case."

319th Medical Group Ambulatory Clinic Patient Safety Program named best in AMC

by Staff Sgt. Susan L. Davis
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


1/9/2014 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The 319th Medical Group Patient Safety Program was recently named the best in Air Mobility Command for the first time.

Elizabeth Nelson, Healthcare Team Training Contract Patient Safety manager, credits the win to numerous improvements the clinic has made in the last year.

"In 2013, we added a dedicated Patient Safety Program Manager, increased staff education and training, and bolstered involvement of section patient safety representatives," she said. "Perhaps the most significant improvement was leadership encouragement of near-miss and event reporting in the patient safety reporting system, which helps identify what does and doesn't work. Having their support empowered Airmen to speak up and make suggestions for improving patient care."

Nelson said the purpose of the patient safety program is to prevent patient harm through prevention and process improvement efforts. A large part of the program relies on event and near-miss reporting, which is used to identify procedures needing some changes, as well as various proactive monitoring surveys.

For the 319th Medical Group, she said, it's all about streamlining the process and accomplishing the mission in the most efficient way possible.

"For us, the focus is on the process, not who to blame, and that promotes a learning environment that values integrity and continued improvement," she said. "These values are vital to the medical career field."

Nelson said Patient Safety is also involved in team training and patient-centered events such as National Drug Take-Back Day and Patient Safety Awareness Week. Award nominees were judged on their successes through prevention efforts, leadership involvement and promotion of patient safety.

"It is quite an honor to receive this recognition, and every member of the 319th Medical Group should be proud of their contributions," she said. "In addition to our staff focusing on safety and quality, we hope to empower our patients as well. Patients are considered part of the team, and play a vital role in the healthcare process. Educating patients to be their own advocate will provide them the tools to communicate their needs with the healthcare team. Without their input and understanding of the plan of care, we cannot do our jobs to the best of our ability."