Military News

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Face of Defense: ‘Toys for Tots’ Marks Success in Georgia



By Nathan L. Hanks Jr.
Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

ALBANY, Ga., Jan. 17, 2014 – The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program here wrapped up another successful year of collecting new, unwrapped toys for less fortunate children in the local community and surrounding counties.

The primary goal of the Toys for Tots program is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters, according to Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Ernest Thompson, a coordinator for the Toys for Tots Program.

The Marine reservists kicked off the 2013 Toys for Tots campaign on Oct. 1, 2013, on Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany here. The goal was to collect 15,000 toys.

“During the 2013 campaign, 17,000 toys were collected and $3,000 was donated to the cause,” Thompson said. “The program helped approximately 3,000 children locally.” The Marines’ Albany Toys for Tots campaign also donated about 2,000 toys to the Salvation Army in Thomasville, Ga., which were given out to more than 500 families.

Business members and area residents donated 12,000 toys and Thompson purchased 5,000 more toys using $3,000 in funds received from the public.

“During the 2012 campaign, 15,000 toys were collected and $5,000 was donated to the cause,” Thompson said. “That year’s program helped approximately 3,400 children locally.”

According to Thompson, although monetary donations were down by $2,000, the Toys for Tots Program exceeded its goal by about 2,000 more toys and assisted more than 100 families compared to the 2012 campaign.

Outfitted in their dress blue uniforms, Marine reservists from Detachment 2, Supply Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 453, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Forces Reserve, collected toys from 400 drop boxes distributed in Albany and throughout the surrounding area.

Thompson said the Marine reservists distributed toys to families in Dougherty, Lee, Worth, Mitchell, Sumter, Thomas, Colquitt and Terrell counties, on Dec. 14, 2013.

“Thanks to the outpouring of support from the local community and surrounding counties, we had enough toys to give three to five per child,” said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Johnny R. Ruby, an assistant coordinator for Toys for Tots.

About 90 Marine reservists and 30 volunteers, including active-duty Marines, sailors and their families, civilian employees and contractors worked together throughout the campaign to brighten a child’s Christmas, according to Ruby.

Thompson said the reservists participated in 22 events throughout the campaign and assisted in one event as far south as Tallahassee, Fla.

Events here included a golf tournament, Albany’s Celebration of Lights Parade, and a ‘Stuff the Truck’ event at Wal-Mart.

Thompson said it has been a good year for the Toys for Tots Program in Albany.

“It was gratifying to know that what we were doing was for a good cause,” he said. “Everyone involved -- whether it was giving toys, donating money or volunteering -- made this happen.”

Thompson said community support is what makes the program what it is today.

“I believe every child should have at least one present to open on Christmas Day,” he said. “Without the support of the local community and surrounding counties, many children might not have had a present to open. This just goes to show the giving spirit of the community.

“It was a blessing to get to see the smiles on the faces of those who picked the toys,” Thompson continued. “It’s an awesome feeling to know that you had a hand in giving a child a Christmas or better Christmas.”

Plans for the 2014 Toys for Tots campaign are underway, he said.

Grand Forks AFB Airman sentenced to prison for sexual assault

from 319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office

1/17/2014 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- An airman from Grand Forks Air Force Base was sentenced Monday to 34 years in prison for raping a woman in base housing in the early morning hours of Aug. 10, 2013.

Air Force military judge Col. Natalie Richardson also sentenced Senior Airman Jory Hodge to a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and reduction to the rank of E-1 in the general court-martial. Hodge, 23, must also register as a sex offender.

Hodge will be required to serve 20 years of that sentence because he had a pre-trial agreement with the Air Force. In return for the sentence cap, Hodge had agreed to plead guilty to all charges he faced, including rape by threat or fear; sodomy; assault consummated by a battery; burglary; and communicating a threat.

Prosecutors called several witnesses to testify Monday.

According to testimony, Hodge had attended a party in on-base housing Aug. 9. He appeared intoxicated, but not serious enough to raise concern from those who knew him, according to testimony. "He was just being your average drunk guy," said one witness.

Later that night, Hodge left his home and drove to the on-base house of an airman who he knew was deployed, and climbed through the back window. He told the court Monday his intention was to have sex with the deployed airman's wife, even if it meant "without her consent."

The victim testified she thought she was having a nightmare when she woke to the shadowy figure standing above her in her bedroom. She said Hodge began punching her, and she begged him to stop.

"I thought he was going to kill me from the moment I saw him standing over my bed," she testified.

When Hodge left her house after the attack, she called for help, launching a base-wide search. Within days, investigators had identified Hodge as a suspect, and he was taken into custody. Officials testified DNA samples proved he was the attacker. Hodge remained in pre-trial confinement until the trial.

The victim's husband said he was devastated by the fact his wife was attacked while he was deployed. He said he believed the safest place for his family would be a military base where his fellow airman could look out for them.

The victim said she's still trying to deal with the impact of the attack, which affected her relationship with her husband and caused her to question her faith.

"I just want to move on with my life," she said.

Col. Paul Bauman, 319th Air Base Wing commander, stressed while the vast majority of Airmen serve with integrity and excellence, those who commit crimes must be held fully accountable for their actions.

"The Air Force is committed to preventing, deterring, and prosecuting sexual assault in its ranks," Bauman said Tuesday. "We must foster an environment of dignity and respect for all our Airmen and their families."

SAF IG visits Team Dover

by Tech. Sgt. Chuck Walker
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


1/16/2014 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Sequestration and budget constraints have brought a lot of changes to the Air Force in recent months and one of the areas affected is the Air Force inspection system.

Lt. Gen. Stephen Mueller, Secretary of the Air Force Inspector General, visited Team Dover to address those changes during an all-call Jan. 14, 2014, at the Base Theater on Dover Air Force Base, Del.

Lt. Gen. Mueller spoke on a number of different topics, but his focus was on bringing about what he calls a culture of change when it comes to the Air Force inspection system.

"We are resistant to change," Lt. Gen. Mueller said. "We are part of an organization that is powered by innovation, but we don't like to change. I know that this is a cultural change. I want to see that it takes root."

The new inspection system, which went into effect last June, has eight goals. They are: teach Airmen to report problems accurately, align authority and responsibility of wing commanders, focus staffs on assisting versus assuring, stop "micro-managing" the Air Force with AFIs, really embrace continuous improvement, enable "data-based" decisions, inspect the entire Air Force and focus effort on mission effectiveness, not inspection readiness.

Mission effectiveness is what Lt. Gen. Mueller wants to be the focus of the new inspection system.

"If you focus on mission effectiveness that proves you are inspection ready," Lt. Gen. Mueller said. "We're trying to get rid of things that are not beneficial to the mission. We want Airmen to know your job, do your job and tell us when you can't do your job."

Col. Randy Huiss, 436th Airlift Wing vice commander, said Lt. Gen. Mueller's visit was a success.

"We are pleased Lt. Gen. Mueller came to Dover to talk to our Airmen directly, letting them know his vision for the future of Air Force inspections and the role they will be expected to play," Col. Huiss said. "He also provided an opportunity for our Airmen to ask questions, getting feedback and guidance, so they could better understand where they fit within the new system."

Lt. Gen. Mueller said the key to the success of the implementation of the new inspection system will be getting everyone to believe in the system.

"That's the challenge, getting everyone, particularly leaders to the 'I believe' level," Lt. Gen. Mueller said. "It will get better as current commanders grow into the program. It's going to take time to mature."

CBRNE trains Airmen to suit up, save lives

by Air Force Staff Sgt. William Banton
JBER Public Affairs


1/17/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- When Airmen join the Air Force, they swear an oath to defend the United States and its people. For many, this oath holds the weight of doing jobs which may cause harm to themselves in order to ensure the safety and well-being of American citizens.

The men and women of the emergency management career field come face to face with the realities of possible dangers in the world starting at their technical school.

"Going through tech school at 18 years old, I went through a live nerve agent chamber," said Tech Sgt. Robert Kelly, non-commissioned officer in charge of the Office of Emergency Management for Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. "Any [emergency manager] has to go through a live nerve agent chamber to graduate, so we have to hold VX gas in our hand, a live blister agent. We actually touch that stuff."

The trainees go through the live chamber with the same gear they will eventually use to keep Airmen safe.

"Honestly, I was very nervous about it," said Airman 1st Class Matthew Castellanos, an emergency management specialist with the 773d Civil Engineer Squadron. "Seeing the actual chemicals come up [in the chamber], it's like, 'Wow this stuff can kill you in less than five minutes!'"

Emergency management works within civil engineer squadrons on Air Force installations to prevent, prepare, respond and recover from manmade or natural disasters, Kelly said.
"If there is a chemical incident or a hazmat incident, we go out and we detect what kind of chemical it is, or what kind of hazard, " he said.

They do this by teaching courses on preparation for emergencies and they write base plans on how to operate during emergencies. Examples of their daily duties include teaching chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive weapons defense survival skills classes, and ensuring unit control centers are operational.

They also ensure there is an up-to-date base Contingency Emergency Management Plan, making sure that the plan is functional and that each unit's portion of that plan is realistic and achievable.

"Some of the challenges of operating in a CBRN environment is dealing with the stress of being in the gear, to include not just wearing it but also knowing that if you don't do it properly or if you mess-up, it could be a life-or-death situation," Kelly said.

At Basic Military Training, warrior week teaches Airmen the fundamentals, Kelly said. While computer-based training is intended to be a refresher of those fundamentals, the hands on CBRNE class is designed to teach local procedures and provides hand-on certification.

"You can read how to shoot an M-16 or M-4 all day, but what we are doing would be like certifying you on it," said Kelly.

Castellanos confirmed this sentiment and said he feels this training is important.
"I feel this is important because dealing with all the chemicals, if there is an after-accident incident or a white powder incident, they need someone who knows how to identify if it is hazardous or not," Castellanos said.

They also need to know how to inspect and don their Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear and how to safely inspect their gas mask and MOPP gear, Castellanos said.

Emergency management incorporates CBRNE survivor skills and the local procedures into unit training is by arranging Ability to Survive and Operate "Rodeos." During the next few months emergency management is planning to host multiple week-long rodeos intended to train and test JBER personnel skills on how to operate in a CBRNE environment.

CBRNE is essential to ensuring mission success and unit safety, Castellanos said. Emergency management is there to make sure that Airmen are able to operate and get mission-essential tasks done in a chemical environment.

The Red Tails are alive, well

by 1st Lt. Andrea Dykes
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


1/16/2014 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.  -- The legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen lives at Tyndall with the arrival of the 301st Fighter Squadron.

The squadron is a U.S. Air Force Reserve Command unit that is comprised of combat-ready F-22 Raptor pilots, F-22 Formal Training Unit Instructors, and Adversary T-38 pilots as well as associated support personnel. The 301st FS is integrated across the 95th Fighter Squadron, 43rd Fighter Squadron, and 325th Training Support Squadron along with each of their missions.

The original 301st FS was one of four African-American fighter squadrons to enter combat in World War II. It was engaged in various missions, like harbor protection, convoy escort and armed reconnaissance. Later in the war they were used to provide escort for bombers striking enemy oil in Central Europe. After a long illustrious history the squadron became a Reserve F-22 unit in February 2010.

"It's really great to be in a squadron that has such an immediately recognizable legacy," said Lt. Col. Andrew Lyons, 301st FS commander. "We're really proud that we get to carry on the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen. It's an amazing Air Force tradition."

The 301st FS is part of the 44th Fighter Group, which is also moving to Tyndall from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., with the new combat-coded F-22s. While the squadron is made up of reservists, it functions similarly to its active duty counterparts. The squadron's mission is to provide seamless integration with the active duty in order to provide combat airpower with the F-22.

His job is to make sure the unit is integrated with the 95th FS, and is ready to go to war when we are fully trained and equipped. We must also ensure transparent integration at the 43rd FS and 325th TRSS missions to ensure adequate training for F-22 pilots, said Lyons.

"During day-to-day operations we perform the same functions as our active duty counterparts. We just have a different chain of command," said Lyons. "We fly missions in the same flights as our 325th FW counterparts and we strive to be basically interchangeable with active duty personnel."

The main difference between the squadrons is that the 301st FS will operate normal flying hours on certain weekends, known as drill or Unit Training Assembly weekends.

Airmen in the full-time Reserve are still referred to as reservists, but traditional reservists serve, as a minimum, one weekend a month and two weeks a year. The drill weekends are typically scheduled for the first weekend of every month with flying on Saturday between 10 a.m. to noon.

"The reason we fly on Saturdays is to deconflict with the traditional reservists' schedules. When they aren't doing their other civilian jobs, they can come in to fly or perform other duty to maintain combat readiness," said Lyons.

On weekends the squadron will also fly and integrate with other Air National Guard and Reserve units around the Gulf Coast.

"We are excited about getting established here at Tyndall and becoming combat ready later in the year," said Lyons. "We look forward to integrating with the 325th FW and Team Tyndall."

Kendall: Military Technological Superiority Not Assured


By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2014 – The decline in research and development brought on by budget cuts is contributing to the erosion of the U.S. military’s technological superiority at an alarming rate, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics said.

“Technological superiority is not assured,” Frank Kendall told a conference yesterday sponsored by the Center for a New American Society. “The United States came out of the Cold War, and demonstrated in the first Persian Gulf War, a very significant superiority in military technology and the application of those technologies. And we’ve sort of had an assumption [during] the last 20-plus years that that {American] technological superiority would be a fact of life in the world.”

The Defense Department has “a big part of sustaining the levels of [research and development] investment that I think we need,” Kendall added.

Despite the relief provided by a trillion dollar plus spending bill approved by Congress for 2014, Kendall said the department still faces heavy budget cuts.

“We’re still taking substantial cuts, and [2015] is much worse than ’14 is,” he said. “And then we don’t know what will happen to us after that.

“So with budgets heading in that direction,” he continued, “and all the uncertainty we’re dealing with, the Department of Defense has a very difficult planning problem.”

Part of that planning problem, according to Kendall, is the uncertainty of how much force structure DOD will be able to retain.

“There’s always a tendency to hang onto force structure in order to do to the things we need to do in the world,” he said. “But if we do hang onto that force structure, the consequence of that is R&D has to be cut,” in order to pay salaries and readiness.



“And that’s what you’re seeing even with the appropriations bill the Senate just passed,” Kendall said. “And it gets much worse as we go further out.”

Eventually, “if we know where the [budget] is going, we can get our force structure down to where we can get in balance between those different accounts that I mentioned,” he said.

The undersecretary laid out three points supporting his concern for the erosion of U.S. technological superiority.

“[Research and development] is not a variable cost. There’s a tendency in the Defense Department, when we cut budgets, to kind of cut everything.

“But what drives R&D is the rate of modernization that we desire,” Kendall continued. “[It] is really not dependent on the size of the force structure.”

Kendall’s second point is time is not a recoverable asset. R&D really buys that time in something of a race for technological superiority, he said.

“I can buy back readiness, I can increase force structure, but I don’t have any way to buy back the time it takes me to get a new product,” Kendall said.

That timeline in the acquisitions business is relatively long, Kendall said, noting how often he gets remarks about the length of an acquisitions process which hasn’t changed much over the years.

Essentially, Kendall said, it takes about two years before the department can get a budget to spend serious money on an idea.

“Then we have two or three years to four years of risk reduction where we develop the technology to where we’re confident we can put it into a product,” he said. “Then we have five or six years of development of making the product ready for production.”

Combine that with the “few years of buying enough numbers to make a difference militarily,” Kendall said, and the timeline easily becomes 10 or 15 years.

“So for that reason as well, I’m concerned,” he said. “I’m trying to do a lot of things now to hedge against these [challenges] and make people aware of these things and do more about them.”

Kendall reiterated how important he believes research and development is to maintaining DOD’s edge in technological superiority.

“It’s critical to the department, it’s critical to our future,” he said. “It is not ‘the wolf closest to the sled’ right now, necessarily. But I think it is absolutely paramount that we keep our R&D budgets funded.”

Missileer Retesting Nearly Complete



By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2014 – The retesting of nuclear ICBM launch officers is nearly complete, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said today.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III ordered the retesting after discovering that some nuclear launch officers cheated on proficiency exams. A total of 34 crewmen at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., have been suspended from duty due to the allegations.

By close of business yesterday, 472 officers finished the retesting, Warren said. Of those, 21 officers failed the exam. The pass rate was 95.6 percent, well within historical averages. The 21 officers that failed will undergo retraining and then be retested.

“If they pass they will return to duty,” Warren said.

Another 27 officers who are on leave or who are on temporary duty have not been retested. Officials said they will be retested once they return to their bases.

The 34 officers who were suspended pending the investigation into cheating will not be retested, Warren said.

All told, 82 officers are not available for assignment.

“It is having an impact,” Warren said. “But it is an impact the missileers have been able to schedule around. It has no impact on the operational readiness, no impact on the safety, no impact on the capabilities, it is just more work for the individual missileers in the short term.”

Force management: Be educated, prepared

by Air Force Capt. Matthew Chism
JBER Public Affairs


1/17/2014 - Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska -- Across the Air Force and here at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Airmen are trying to learn about their options and the implementation process of the Air Force Fiscal Year 2014 force management programs.

Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Garcia, Air Force Personnel Center retirements and separations branch chief, is encouraging Airmen to ensure their personnel files are up to date.

"You should review your records now to make sure the information is accurate," Garcia said. "If it isn't, you'll still have time to update your records before the board."

Reviewing all performance reports, making sure decorations are current and reviewing applicable Personnel Services Delivery Memorandums are places to start. Airmen can view their current records by visiting the Virtual Military Personnel Flight and Personnel Records Display Application via the AF portal at www.my.af.mil.

The 673d Force Support Squadron is hosting an AF FY14 force management information meeting today, 2:30 p.m. at the Talkeetna Theater. This event is open to any active duty, civilian supervisors or family members who would like to attend.

Below is a description of the Temporary Early Retirement Authority, Voluntary Separation Pay and Quality Force Review Board programs. This information may be updated or entire programs can be cancelled at any time.

Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA)
Schedule: Eligible Airmen can submit applications between Jan. 14, 2014 - Mar. 26, 2014 with a scheduled separation of August 2014 for accepted applications.

The Air Force will not apply a "first come, first served" process to accepting applications. Factors such as Air Force specialty code, grade, total active federal military service date and active duty service commitments will be taken into consideration.

Voluntary Separation Pay (VSP)
Schedule: Eligible enlisted Airmen can submit applications between Jan. 14, 2014 - May 1, 2014 with a scheduled separation of September 2014 for accepted applications. The officer VSP dates have not been released.

The FY14 VSP program entitles enlisted Retention Board-eligible Airmen 1.25 percent times the rate of full separation pay for volunteers. ERB eligible Airmen not selected for retention by the board will be entitled to full separation pay at the standard rate.

Quality Force Review Board (QFRB)
Schedule: Eligible enlisted Airmen received notice in December 2013. Optional letters to the board are due Apr. 25, 2014, and board results are scheduled to be released Jun. 2014 with a projected separation of September 2014.

The enlisted QFRB will review the records of any Airman with less than 18, or 20 or more, years of total active federal military service as of Sep. 30, 2014 with a quality force indicator for continued retention. Examples of quality force indicators are retraining due to disqualification, awaiting discharge for cause, current referral performance report, grade reduction, rank not commensurate with years of service, five or more days lost time, career field skill level not commensurate with grade, serving a suspended Article 15 punishment, serving on control roster, poor fitness assessment, and denied reenlistment. Board members will review evaluations, decorations, an enlisted retention brief and an enlisted retention recommendation form to determine if an Airman will be retained.

Airmen are encouraged to stay up-to-date with force management information by visiting https://mypers.af.mil/  or by visiting the 673d FSS career development team in JBER's People Center.

Recruiters get a close-up look at history

by Lt. Col. Sharon Presley
345th Recruiting Squadron commander


1/15/2014 - FULTON, Mo.  -- Nov. 18 started as a normal day in the life of Staff Sgt. Jonathan Hamaker, 345th Recruiting Squadron line officer recruiter. With him was Master Sgt. Raymond Boyd, 345th RCS A-Flight chief, who was in contact with an instructor from Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., whose Securities Studies class was interested in Air Force intelligence opportunities.

As Hamaker drove to the lecture hall, he passed a series of what appeared to be graffiti-covered T-walls, an odd thing for a sedate college campus. After addressing the class of nearly 20 students whose diverse interests spanned security, intelligence and special operations, the 345th RCS team learned that the painted walls weren't just another modern art display. What they had seen was the longest contiguous section of the Berlin Wall in North America. The campus had once been the setting for critical Cold War events.

Following Germany's defeat in World War II, Europe split along ideological and physical lines. On March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill used Westminster College as the backdrop to warn the world that "... an iron curtain has descended across the continent."

Forty-six years later, on May 6, 1992, Westminster College again played a key role on the world's stage as former president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, gave a speech in which he declared an end to the Cold War.

What started as a normal day in recruiting looking for our nation's future Airmen instead became a chance to look back and remember why they're needed.

AETC commander visits Laughlin, speaks on key issues

by Senior Airman Nathan Maysonet
47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs


1/16/2014 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas  -- Air Education and Training Command's senior leaders visited Laughlin for a tour of the base's day-to-day operations Jan. 8 and 9.

Gen. Robin Rand, AETC commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Gerardo Tapia, AETC command chief, met with leadership, toured the base, and spoke with Team XL during a two-day site visit of the 47th Flying Training Wing.

"It is amazing what you all do here at Laughlin," said Rand. "I've been watching your base for a long time, and it's amazing what I see here. You have deployed Airmen who are right now walking the line and medics doing great work, but it's what all of you do for the Air Force to help new pilots earn their wings that is so outstanding. Your mission at Laughlin is the pulse, the bread and butter of the Air Force, and I hope you know that."

While here, Rand held a series of all-calls for base personnel to attend, and he spoke about a variety of issues impacting the Air Force.

Throughout the discussions, Rand often referred to his own personal philosophy of reinforcing what people should do to excel, rather than what they shouldn't do.

"I don't want to tell you what you shouldn't do. I want to emphasize what you should do," said Rand. "Talk to your Airmen about excellence. You are a part of the world's greatest Air Force, and you are responsible for teaching them to be great American Airmen."

In speaking about the Air Force's current financial situation, Rand highlighted the importance Airmen play in helping shape policy.

"We have to define the new norm, and I need your help," said Rand. "We are not going to do more with less. We are counting on you to tell us what to do less of to keep quality up."

In answering questions about force reshaping, Rand commented that the process will be accomplished in measured parts to reach the required reduction levels with the hope of limiting the numbers of involuntary cuts required.

More than just policy, Rand spoke of the importance in knowing the legacy and heritage that defines the Air Force.

"We are warriors, do we talk about that?" Said Rand. "Do we talk about our heritage and our legacy? Do we talk about these things with our Airmen? Our traditions were forged with blood, sweat and tears. Never forget about the thousands of airmen who got us to this point. Don't break the faith and always remember what really matters."

Rand concluded his visit by thanking Team XL for all they do.

"Adhere to our core values, maintain our standards, learn about our heritage, and be great role models," said Rand. "This base and its people, Airmen and families alike, are phenomenal. Laughlin is where the rubber meets the road."

Luke pilot selected to fly F-35

by Staff Sgt. Timothy Boyer and Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


1/17/2014 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Flying is a concept that captures the imagination of some people at a very young age; hence the success of characters like Peter Pan, Superman and even a flying house in the 2009 movie "Up."

Few get to realize that dream, but Capt. Joshua Arki, 61st Fighter Squadron instructor pilot and chief of weapons and tactics, realized his dream by first mastering flight in an F-16 Fighting Falcon and has now been selected as the first Luke Air Force Base F-16 pilot to transition to the F-35 Lightening II joint strike fighter, scheduled to arrive at Luke early this year.

"The decision was made that the first pilot to transition had to be the new squadron's chief of weapons and tactics," said Lt. Col. Shamsher Mann, 62nd Fighter Squadron commander. "We needed it to be an Air Force Weapons School graduate. The list was further narrowed based on rank and time on station. We also needed someone who demonstrated superior instructional skills and the competence to take on the daunting task of defining new tactics for a new fighter while building the initial crop of F-35 pilots for the Air Force."

While there were other contenders, Arki met all criteria and was chosen for the big job, Mann said.

It is bittersweet to give up flying the F-16, Arki said, describing the Fighting Falcon as the greatest multirole fighter ever. But he has hopes of helping the F-35 to meet and maybe surpass that legacy one day.

"There are only a small number of pilots qualified on the F-35, so we are literally creating and testing tactics on a daily basis," he said.

Arki is currently TDY to Eglin AFB, Fla., where he is learning the ins and outs of the F-35. As an instructor pilot with the 62nd FS for the past four years, it was an adjustment for him to get in the mindset of being a student again.

"I'm learning a lot from the Eglin instructors, and hope to bring back to Luke many of their lessons-learned," Arki said. "I'm currently in the academic and simulator phase of training, and will begin flying the F-35 in early February."

The former F-16 pilot is scheduled to return from training in March as he pioneers the future of flying the F-35 here at Luke.

"The battlefield dominance that the F-35 will bring to the table is eye-watering," Arki said. "The aircraft is amazing."

Arki was selected for this important role because of his ability to lead the way, Mann said.

"Luke pilots, along with their Eglin counterparts, will be on the leading edge of defining the tactical parameters of how the Air Force will fight with the F-35," the 62nd FS commander said. "Captain Arki has a lot riding on his shoulders. On those shoulders rests the initial trajectory of the combat training effectiveness of the F-35 when it arrives at Luke. Arki brings the right mix of formal training unit instructional experience and tactical forward thinking."

AETC updates mission, vision statements

by Tech. Sgt. Beth Anschutz
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs


1/17/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas  -- The Air Education and Training Command has updated its mission and vision statements, focusing on its roots - recruiting, training, educating and innovation.

The new mission statement, "Recruit, train and educate Airmen to deliver airpower for America," speaks to the charge of the Air Force's First Command and the vital stake it holds in the future of the U.S. Air Force.

The new vision statement, "Forging innovative Airmen to power the world's greatest Air Force," keeps innovation in the forefront, highlighting the importance of AETC finding effective and efficient ways to ensure Airmen are fully prepared to fly, fight and win.

"AETC holds the cherished responsibility of producing the highest quality Airmen - strong men and women who adhere to our core values, maintain our standards, value our heritage, and perform at exceptional levels," said Gen. Robin Rand, AETC commander. "We're part of the world's greatest Air Force, but it's not a birthright. All of us must find innovative and technical solutions to the many challenges our Air Force faces. Therefore, innovative Airmen are our most valuable asset."

The new mission statement brings AETC Airmen - officers, enlisted and civilian members - back to basics while its new vision focuses them on the lofty task of ensuring mission readiness around the globe through total preparation of warfighters.

Joint Base San Antonio selects 2014 Military Ambassadors

by Airman 1st Class Kenna Jackson
Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs


1/16/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Ten service members from across the three Joint Base San Antonio locations were chosen to represent their respective military services as part of the 2014 Military Ambassadors program.

"Military ambassadors are representatives of the military community," Bill Gaines, 502nd Air Base Wing civic outreach chief, said. "The program strengthens military relationships with the local community while educating the public about the armed services and their missions. They are chosen for their communication skills, demonstrated self-confidence and outgoing personalities. In short, they promote an outstanding image of JBSA and their service organizations."

Throughout the year, the 10 service members represent their service and JBSA at events throughout South Texas, including nearly 50 activities associated with Fiesta San Antonio April 10-27.

According to Gaines, Fiesta, which began in 1891, is one of the nation's premier festivals, with an economic impact of more than $284 million for the Alamo City.

Taking part in the event not only allows the military ambassadors to play integral roles for the installation's community relations program, but it permits the continuation of a tradition that goes back to 1891 when the granddaddy of Fiesta events, The Battle of Flowers, began, Gaines said.

"During the event, the Army provided its band to lead the first parade in horse-drawn carriages and supplied a number of carriages for others participating in the parade," Gaines said. "In the 1960s, both the Fiesta San Antonio Commission and local military commanders decided there should be a single point of contact - a military coordinator."

This year's military coordinator is Gen. Robin Rand, Air Education and Training Command commander.

Although the program is aimed primarily at Fiesta, the ambassadors are traditionally invited to parades, federal holiday ceremonies, pageants, hospital visits, and other significant events.

The ambassadors' first event is Feb. 14, for the National Salute to Veterans Day at the Audie Murphy Veterans Hospital.

"Being named an ambassador for my service is an honor and a privilege," Tech. Sgt. Daniel Anderson, 323rd Training Squadron military training instructor and an Air Force military ambassador, said. "As ambassador I want to reinforce public trust in the military services. I can't wait to get started."

2014 Army military ambassadors

Sergeant Doreen Suerte Fajota, who hails from Bacolod City, Phillipines, is assigned to Charlie Company, Brooke Army Medical Center as the NCO in charge of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at San Antonio Military Medical Center. Fajota's job is to oversee the day-to-day operations of all clinical services, assist in clinical procedures for approximately 31,200 patients annually, manage placement, accountability, readiness, training and administrative actions for 168 military and civilian staff members.

Sgt. 1st. Class John Gurisko, who hails from River Rouge, Mich., is assigned to the Army South G-3 Exercises Humanitarian and Civic Assistance Branch as the NCO in charge. Gurisko is responsible for support to the HCA Branch by planning for two operational planning teams, tracking training requirements, accountability and performance within the section, and supporting the branch chief in day-to-day functions of the branch as needed.

2014 Marine Corps military ambassadors

Sgt. Dawn Callaway, who hails from Princeton, Texas, is assigned to the 4th Reconnaissance Battalion as a financial manager. Callaway is responsible for performing accounting, budgeting and all other financial management relevant duties for appropriated funds in support of the 4th Reconnaissance Battalion. She also provides leadership guidance, supervision and counseling to junior Marines and financial guidance to outlying companies within the battalion.

Sgt. Dustin Johnson, whose hometown is Brodhead, Wis., is assigned to the 4th Reconnaissance Battalion as a battalion dive and amphibious chief. Johnson plans and executes dives and amphibious operations and also maintains the equipment relevant to those operations.

2014 Navy military ambassadors

Petty Officer 2nd Class Luz Vazquez, who hails from Lamont, Calif., is a Navy enlisted recruiter. Vazquez is responsible for the enlistment of officers and enlisted members for active service in the regular and reserve Navy components.

Petty Officer 1st. Class Joseph Fountain Jr., who hails from Callahan, Fla., is the mission NCO in charge. Fountain provides daily leadership and administration oversight for about 30 members who support the national mission.

2014 Air Force military ambassadors

Staff Sgt. Kathryn North, who hails from Greenfield, Ind., is assigned to the 382nd Training Squadron Diagnostic Imaging Section as an instructor. North provides instruction on theory of basic electricity, atomic theory, production of X-rays, radiographic technique, radiographic film and chemical processing, radiographically oriented anatomy and physiology, theory of and practice in operation of fixed and mobile radiologic equipment, routine and special radiographic positioning, theory of and practice in accomplishment of, special radiographic techniques and introduction to special radiographic procedures and the associated equipment. As an instructor, she also continues the professional development of 121 Air Force trainees.

Tech. Sgt. Daniel Anderson, who hails from Belmont, N.H., is assigned to the 383rd Training Squadron as a military training instructor, where he conducts basic military training and shifts civilians into the Air Force way of life. Anderson is also responsible for training newly assigned military training instructors who have completed the Military Training Instructor School.

2014 Coast Guard military ambassadors

Chief Petty Officer Wanda Tarasiuk, who hails from Fajardo, Puerto Rico, is assigned to Coast Guard Cryptologic Unit in Texas. Tarasiuk analyzes and reports highly technical information of strategic and tactical importance to fleet commanders and national intelligence agencies while deployed on board Coast Guard vessels.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jim Chance is a San Antonio native and production recruiter for the Recruiting Office San Antonio. Chance's main duties as production recruiter consist of processing applicants for accessions into the Coast Guard, marketing the Coast Guard to potential recruits and the public, representing the Coast Guard in various military ceremonies and conducting military funeral honors.