Military News

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Westover command chief selected for 22nd AF

by Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe
439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


1/15/2014 - WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass.  -- The Patriot Wing's senior enlisted Airman will soon take the same job -- one level higher in the Air Force Reserve chain of command.

Command Chief Master Sgt. Michael Thorpe will become 22nd Air Force Command Chief Feb. 1, replacing Command Chief Master Sgt. Steven Larwood.

Maj. Gen. Mark Kyle, 22nd AF commander, selected Thorpe for the position at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga.

"As my tenure comes to a close and I move on to 22nd to take on a new role, know that the Patriot Wing will also have a special place in my heart," Thorpe said. "The life lessons I have learned over the past 25 years will serve me well. The most important decision I have ever made in my life was to enlist in the Patriot Wing. The missions may change but there is one constant -- your loyalty and dedication. It has truly been an honor."

Thorpe has been the command chief with the 439th Airlift Wing at Westover since May 2011. He joined the Air Force Reserve in 1988.

437th AMXS Blue AMU Airmen save space, money

by Senior Airman Dennis Sloan
Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs


1/14/2014 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C.  -- It only took 30 days for Airmen from the 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Blue Aircraft Maintenance Unit to plan, coordinate and execute a complete re-organization of their office, resulting in increased mission readiness and efficiency with zero cost to the Air Force.

Prior to the re-organization, work areas were scattered throughout the building, limiting one-to-one communications between supervisors and Airemen, and denying members of the Blue AMU easy access to the heart and soul of their operation; the flightline.

Before the upgrade, "There was approximately 1,000 square feet of floor space between maintainers and their actual supervisors which caused a lack of communication within the unit," said Master Sgt. Kristopher Bradley, 437 AMXS production superintendent. "The new layout has improved communication and the career progression of our Airmen."

The overall impact of the re-organization allowed maintainers to reestablish vital communication within their unit, increase morale and cohesion and provide an additional 1,000 square feet of extra work space.

"We examined the square footage of the Blue AMU building and how much of it was actually being utilized for work spaces," said Bradley. "Once we realized there were areas to improve, we set up teams of Airmen to execute the moving process as quickly as possible."

A team of Airmen and civilians determined approximately 300 maintainers occupied only 35 percent of the floor space, and approximately 29 support and administration personnel occupied the remaining 65 percent.

"We saw a problem with the majority of our Airmen and civilians packed into a small portion of the building and much fewer Airmen and civilians in a large area, so we set out to improve it," said Butler, 437th. "Anytime we can improve space, increase productivity and find ways to save resources without spending money, then the Air Force wins."

The unit re-organized more than seven separate offices and work spaces to create a more spacious area for maintainers to log their maintenance data and moved supervisors closer to their Airmen to provide more oversight and direction when needed.

By meticulous pre-planning and expertly managing their resources, not a single computer or power port needed to be moved or added and no additional furniture needed to be purchased when the process was completed.

"The re-organization process cost the Air Force zero dollars and boosted our unit's productivity, cohesion, and overall morale," said Maj. Adam DiGerolamo, 437 AMXS commander. "It was a no brainer to move forward with this plan."

Pararescue squadron deploys to Horn of Africa

from 943rd Rescue Group public affairs
943rd Rescue Group


1/15/2014 - DAVIS MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- A small contingency of reservists from the 306th Rescue Squadron deployed to the Horn of Africa, Jan. 14.

The deploying Reserve Airmen comprised of pararescuemen (PJs) and various support personnel from the 306th RQS.

"You are the best personnel recovery unit in the Air Force," said Col. Harold Maxwell, commander 943rd Rescue Group as he addressed the group of deploying Airmen. "Your presence in the Horn of Africa will make a difference to those in harm's way because they've got the best to back them up."

The PJ's and support personnel will support Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa for personnel-recovery operations along with humanitarian efforts as needed.

The 306th RQS is a subordinate unit of the 943rd RQG, which trains personnel with equipment to achieve and maintain the capability to perform day or night combat rescue missions and provide humanitarian support.

The parent unit of the 943rd RQG is the 920th Rescue Wing, Patrick AFB, Florida.

Air Force pararescuemen are specifically organized, trained and equipped to conduct personnel recovery operations in hostile or denied areas as a primary mission.

337th TES assures JASSM-ER carriage capability

by Senior Airman Peter Thompson
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


1/15/2014 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron has recently completed a captive carriage exercise with a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range to verify the weapon's ability to maintain functionality after being carried for close to 100 total flight hours over several sorties with one single missile.

The JASSM-ER is an autonomous, long-range, air-to-ground, precision missile employed solely by the B-1B Lancer.

"The JASSM-ER is built on the same platform as the baseline JASSM, so most of its capabilities are the same," said Maj. Alicia Datzman, 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron chief of weapons and tactics. "The extended range it provides gives air crews a larger number of options during a mission. This missile can fly into heavily defended areas so our aircraft don't have to."

Currently, JASSM-ER (AGM-158B) is only compatible with the B-1B Lancer, while the JASSM (AGM-158A) is functional on four additional airframes, including both fighters and bombers. The B-1's ability to fly faster, further and with the largest weapons payload in the Air Force, makes it the ideal aircraft for carrying and employing the extended range missile.

In January 2011, the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics approved the JASSM-ER for a low-rate initial production with the program successfully completing operational testing in November 2012. The 337th TES executed the initial operational testing and evaluations.

Later, the Undersecretary of Defense's office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation requested additional testing to demonstrate the 100-hour requirement, assuring the missile's system design is adequate to satisfy the carriage requirements.

"Although captive carriage testing was accomplished to well over 300 hours during initial operational testing and evaluation, it was spread over 21 missiles. No single missile was carried more than 30 hours," said Kenneth Bandy, JASSM Test Director. "The purpose of this captive carry effort therefore, was to complete the captive demonstration, followed by an employment of the missile during a future test mission. This will prove that the missile's system design is adequate to satisfy the operational carriage requirements."

The benefits of this weapon aren't reserved to the B-1 that's carrying it. The potential to release a weapon from the distance the JASSM-ER is capable of not only keeps the aircrew flying the bomber safer, but also other aircraft that would be deployed to support the B-1 during its mission. Pilots and weapons systems officers are afforded additional protection because they can fly further from the enemy's air defenses while employing the weapon.

"While other long range weapons may have the capability of reaching targets within the same range, they are not as survivable as the low observable JASSM-ER," Bandy said. "The stealth design of the missile allows it to survive through high-threat, well-defended enemy airspace. The B-1's effectiveness is increased because high-priority targets deeper into heavily defended areas are now vulnerable."

"Being able to keep our aircraft and aircrews safer is passed on to whoever might be supporting us in the battlespace," Datzman said. "If we don't have to put ourselves at risk by flying into heavily defended areas to reach a target, neither do the fighter aircraft that might be alongside us."

34 ICBM Launch Officers Implicated in Cheating Probe



By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15, 2014 – Thirty-four intercontinental ballistic missile launch officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., have been implicated in cheating on the ICBM launch officer proficiency test, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said today.

The revelations emerged during an investigation into alleged illegal drug possession, James said. The officers range in rank from second lieutenants to captains, and the alleged cheating occurred in the August and September timeframe.

James and Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force chief of staff, clearly were disturbed by the allegation as they briefed Pentagon reporters on the matter, but said they are confident the nuclear mission itself was not compromised by the incident.

“This was a failure of some of our airmen. It was not a failure of the nuclear mission,” James said.

Welsh reiterated that confidence. The nuclear mission requires airmen to meet the highest of standards, the general said, and most of the missileers do. “There’s absolutely no excuse for the breach of integrity,” he said.

Air Force Office of Special Investigations officials were examining allegations of illegal drug possession when evidence surfaced that a missile launch officer at the 341st Missile Wing electronically shared the answers to monthly missile launch officer proficiency tests with 16 other officers. Air Force officials subsequently approached the entire missile crew force at Malmstrom, and 17 other officers admitted to at least being aware of material that had been shared.

“We don't yet know how or if each of those officers used that material, but we do know that none of them reported the incident to their leadership,” Welsh said.

“Cheating or tolerating others who cheat runs counter to everything we believe in as a service,” the general added. “People at every level will be held accountable if and where appropriate.”

All 34 officers have been decertified and restricted from missile crew duty. The Air Force has suspended their security clearances, and the investigation continues. Two of the officers involved in the cheating scandal also are implicated in the illegal drug possession case.

“Every missile crew member in our other two missile wings will be questioned about involvement in or knowledge of sharing test material,” Welsh said.

James ordered that all the members of the ICBM force be retested by close of business tomorrow.

“As of an hour ago, 100 people had completed that test -- that's about 20 percent of our missile crew force. Ninety-seven percent of them passed the test, and there were three failures,” Welsh said. “That 97 percent pass rate matches our historical averages.”

Air Force Global Strike Command will conduct a limited nuclear surety inspection focused on operation crew procedures in the near future. James and Welsh will visit all missile bases next week to ensure that airmen have no question about their expectations.

Welsh called the cheating “a violation of that first core principle of ‘integrity first.’”

“Our actions as we move forward will be about making sure that every member of our Air Force understands that we will not accept or allow that type of behavior, that there is nothing more important to the nation than the integrity and the trustworthiness of the people who defend it and that anyone who doesn't understand that should find another line of work,” he added.

ATC Icemen train Army for fixed-wing aircraft

by Senior Airman Zachary Perras
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


1/15/2014 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Air traffic controllers are nothing new to the Army. The difference is that most of their experience applies to rotary-wing aircraft rather than the usual fixed-wing aircraft flown by the Air Force.

Two Fort Wainwright Soldiers, however, are getting the best of both worlds.

Spcs. Paul Murray and Christopher Smades, Fox Company 1-52, Aviation Battalion air traffic control specialists, have trained with Icemen controllers since August in preparation for an upcoming deployment where they will guide and direct mostly fixed-wing aircraft.

The standards of the Air Force, Murray said, are different in that the two Soldiers have to relearn the air traffic control mindset. For him, the experience feels like a clean slate.

"It's been challenging, almost like starting over," Murray said. "It's very fast-paced, so you've got to have an open mind with everything that's happening around you. You learn to think and act very quickly to situations."

Murray said the amount of increased situational awareness needed has given him a new outlook on being a tower controller.

"I definitely feel like this is going to further my career and help me develop in my job," he said. "I know I wouldn't be able to get this kind of training anywhere else and it's helped me learn so much more about being a controller."

This experience has benefited both Air Force and Army members, said Master Sgt. Dustin Rogstad, 354th Operations Support Squadron tower chief controller.

"It's an excellent opportunity for both services to work together in a joint capacity," he said. "It's important for us to learn from each other so we can better our capabilities in the future, whether it's downrange or at home."

The Soldiers' training will also allow them to become certified through the Federal Aviation Administration, furthering their abilities as air traffic controllers.

"While it's completely different from what I've learned from the Army, I feel privileged to be getting this kind of experience with the Air Force," said Smades. "It's not only going to help prepare for our deployment but it's also going help us years down the road."

At the end of the day, the training is vital for the Army's continued presence in deployed locations.

"There's no downside to this," Murray said. "It's only going to further our capabilities overseas and help us do our job and win the fight."

9 Medal of Honor recipients visit Charleston

1/14/2014 - Congressional Medal of Honor recipients (in order of military rank) Maj. Gen. James Livingston, Maj. Gen. Patrick Henry Brady, Col. Donald Ballard, Col. Harvey Barnum, Jr., Lt. Col. Harold Fritz, Maj. Bruce Crandall, Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Kelley, Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Stumpf and Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, pose for a photo prior to eating brunch Jan. 11, 2014 in downtown Charleston, S.C. The nine Medal of Honor recipients were in town for The Medal of Honor Bowl to raise money to construct a new Medal of Honor museum in Charleston. The Medal of Honor Bowl is a senior college all-star game pitting the American team against the National team. The American team won this year’s inaugural game 20-3. (U.S Air Force photo/William O’Brien)

Hagel Reaffirms Bilateral Relationship With Colombia



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon last night to continue the strong defense cooperation between the United States and Colombia, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

In a statement summarizing the call, Kirby said Hagel affirmed the importance of the bilateral relationship and that the Defense Department is committed to further strengthening the partnership between the two countries.

“In addition to Colombia's excellent progress in defense transformation and in consolidating gains in internal security,” the admiral said, “Secretary Hagel and Minister Pinzon also discussed opportunities for the United States and Colombia to continue close collaboration on various security issues, including in preparation for the 11th Conference of the Defense Ministers of the Americas, to be held in Peru later this year.”

Hagel and Pinzon met at the White House in December during Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos's visit to Washington, Kirby said.

Retiring Army Guard director Ingram: 'Preserve this national treasure'



By Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. (1/15/14) – Retiring after 43 years serving the nation, the director of the Army National Guard challenged his successors to maintain the standard of a force at a 377-year peak.

"The Army National Guard after 12 years of war is undoubtedly the best we've ever been," Army Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr. said at a Tuesday morning ceremony here. "The Army National Guard is unequivocally the best-manned, best-equipped, best-trained, best-led and most experienced ever. Our soldiers continuously demonstrate courage, experience, dedication to the mission and a sense of patriotism that is unrivaled in our 377-year history.

"It's extremely important that we preserve this national treasure, even as we navigate through the current period of fiscal uncertainty. The National Guard is a great value today and into the future. Preserving a high-quality, all-volunteer force – active, Guard and Reserve – and upholding our standards, discipline and fitness is essential."

Ingram called the Total Force, the active Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve, "Unquestionably the finest Army ever produced by the greatest nation on earth."

But the bulk of his parting remarks were highly personal, focusing on the profession of arms and on the team of service members and civilians who surrounded him through a career that included command in the Balkans and nine years as the adjutant general of the North Carolina National Guard, an appointment once held by his father.

"Behind every soldier is a committed and a resilient family," Ingram said, telling his children and grandchildren, "Few people outside the military understand the sacrifices you made for me to be a Soldier. … Thank you for all the love and support that allowed me to follow this career path and to be standing here today."

It was a career Gen. Ingram loved.

"As a nation, we're blessed to have such magnificent patriots in our ranks," he said. "I'm awed by their devotion to duty, humbled by their sacrifice and deeply honored to serve beside these extraordinary warriors.

"I quickly discovered that I truly love being a Soldier. I love wearing the uniform. I love serving our country. Soldiering is as much about the heart as the mind. There's much passion in what Soldiers do. I've learned that what matters most is the cause we have been privileged to serve and those we've been privileged to serve with.

"I think about the selfless and total commitment of our men and women and their families. They give all they have: sometimes, their lives. They speak in whispers or not at all about what they've done. They're the best we have in America. I'm deeply indebted and eternally grateful to the many superior peers and subordinates that have shaped me over the years."

Ingram quoted retired Army Gen. Frederick M. Franks, whose own career included combat in Vietnam and command during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Ingram noted that he had read Franks' words at retirement ceremonies he hosted for others, and that he now wished to use them at his own.

"If you like what our country stands for and want to serve those ideals you ought to be a Soldier," Franks wrote. "If you want to be around a lot of other people who feel the same way about that as you do, you ought to be a Soldier.

"If the sound of the national anthem, and the sight of our flag stirs something inside you then you ought to be a Soldier.

"If you like a challenge, are not afraid of hard work and think you are tough enough to meet the standards on the battlefield, you ought to be a Soldier.

"If you and your family are strong enough to endure the many separations often on a moment's notice and can live that kind of life, then you ought to be a Soldier.

"If the thought that at the end of your life you can say I served my country and that appeals to you, then you ought to be a Soldier."

Illinois National Guard members conclude winter storm duty



SPRINGFIELD, IL (1/15/2014) - The last of the approximately 35 Illinois National Guard members who assisted the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and other state agencies completed state active duty Jan. 14 following a snow storm that dropped up to 17 inches of snow in some parts of the state.

"Not only am I glad we can help out, but it's a great learning experience," said Sgt. Eric Thrasher of Clinton, Ill., a mechanic with Company B, 634th Brigade Support Battalion (BSB) in Champaign, Ill. "We get to understand their operation and work on non-military equipment and vehicles."

Approximately 400 vehicles were stranded on three different Illinois roads. The Illinois National Guard recovered eight vehicles, allowing more than 200 stranded motorists to exit the roadway.

"Hundreds were rescued thanks to the dedicated Illinois National Guard Soldiers who worked day and night to help stranded motorists," said Ann L. Schneider, IDOT secretary. "These individuals went above and beyond the call of duty to provide critical services and assistance in some of the most difficult conditions imaginable."

Soldiers from Company B, 634th BSB in Champaign; Company D, 634th BSB in Galva; Company E, 634th BSB inJoliet; Company G, 634th in Crestwood; 3625th Maintenance Company in North Riverside and 3637th Maintenance Company in Springfield; Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 33rd BSTB in Machesney Park; 631st Engineer Company in Lawrenceville; and the 766th Engineer Battalion in Decatur were mobilized to assist in 14 separate locations throughout the state.

The Soldiers performed wrecker and maintenance operations of IDOT equipment damaged and stranded during snow removal operations. Wrecker operations concluded on Jan. 8 and maintenance operations concluded Jan. 14.

In all, the Illinois National Guard recovered one IDOT vehicle and repaired 65 IDOT trucks and pieces of equipment. Additionally, Illinois National Guard Soldiers serviced 30 trucks.

"There is definitely a need for us here," said 1st Sgt. Corey Heath of Mahomet, Ill., a mechanic with Company B, 634th Brigade Support Battalion in Champaign. "We have kept busy with plenty of mechanical work and saved them many work hours."

This was Heath's second state active duty. His first was Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

This is the second time in less than two months Illinois National Guard service members have assisted their community. In November, several service members assisted following the deadly tornado in Washington, Ill.

"While defending our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan, some may not have recognized what our National Guardsmen continually do for their communities," said Brig. Gen. Daniel M. Krumrei of Springfield, the adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard. "From snow and freezing temperatures to flooding and tornados or any emergency, our Citizen-Soldiers are here to help their neighbors and protect their community."

Officer who chronicled New York's 'Fighting 69th' from Ground Zero to Baghdad takes battalion command

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy Eric Durr
New York State Division of Naval and Military Affairs

NEW YORK (1/15/14) - Army National Guard Maj. Sean Flynn, a Delmar, N.Y., resident who wrote a book about New York's "Fighting 69th" Infantry in Iraq, and a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been tapped to take command of the battalion.

Flynn served as a company commander in the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry in Baghdad in 2004 and 2005, and deployed again as the second-in-command of the New York Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry in western Afghanistan in 2012.

A member of the Flynn family has served in the 69th Infantry, headquartered at the historic Lexington Avenue Armory in Manhattan in the Civil War, World War I, and World War II.

In a statement released Wednesday, Jan. 15, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was proud to announce Flynn's appointment to the job.

"The Fighting 69th has a rich history of defending our nation and keeping New York's communities safe," Cuomo said. "This battalion fought to end slavery during the Civil War, supported New York City in the aftermath of September 11th, and most recently came to the aid of the many New Yorkers who were displaced by this past summer's flooding. It is with great pride that I announce Maj. Sean Flynn's selection to lead this regiment."

Flynn is a full-time National Guard officer who serves as chief of operations at the New York National Guard Joint Force Headquarters in Latham. In that position he is responsible for coordinating the National Guard response to domestic emergencies in New York State, like the Mohawk Valley floods in the summer of 2013.

He will continue to serve in that position while also commanding the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry in his traditional National Guard role.

He replaces Lt. Col. Vincent Heinz, another veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, who is employed as an investigator by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board in New York City. Heinz decided to retire from military service after a 23-year Army National Guard career.

The battalion is headquartered at the Lexington Avenue Armory in New York City and has units located at the Farmingdale Armed Forces Reserve Center on Long Island, the Camp Smith Training Site near Peakskill, and the Leeds Armory in Greene County.

The unit first earned fame as the heart of the historic "Irish Brigade" of the Union Army during the Civil War, and was the subject of a 1940 movie "The Fighting 69th" about the unit's World War I accomplishments. The battalion leads the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City each year.
Flynn is the author of the book "The Fighting 69th: From Ground Zero to Baghdad" (Viking 2007). The third person narrative is recommended by the Army's Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth for its focus on small unit leadership.

The book details the unit's response to the 9/11 attacks and its training before deploying to Iraq and the assignment of securing "Route Irish," the road from the Baghdad Airport to the Green Zone that saw frequent and deadly insurgent attacks. Flynn received the Military Order of St. Louis for "significant contributions to military history" for his authorship of the book.

He responded to Ground Zero with the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry on Sept. 12, 2001 when, along with other members of the New York National Guard, the National Guard provided response and recovery support to the City of New York. He went on to command a company of the battalion at the United States Military Academy at West Point when the unit was charged with providing security for that location later in the fall of 2001.

Flynn earned his commission in 1994 through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Maryland at College Park and holds a BA in Journalism. He served in the Air Force as a public affairs officer from 1994 to 1997 before joining the Army National Guard.

He has served as an infantry platoon leader, division operations officer and as a rifle company commander and battalion executive officer.

He is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the Department of State's Afghanistan Field Orientation Course, the Department of Defense's Joint Public Affairs Officers Course and the military's Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training course.

Flynn's awards and decorations include the Combat Infantryman's Badge, Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, National Defense Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the NATO Medal.

Flynn and his wife Lori Ann have two children, Hudson and Lucia.