Military News

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Face of Defense: Military Life Suits Traveling Texan



By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Keenan Zelazoski
1st Marine Logistics Group

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif., Jan. 21, 2014 – Introduced to traveling frequently at a young age, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dustin Luse learned to love the itinerant lifestyle that’s part of serving in the military. Because of his father’s job, he lived in several states throughout his childhood, including Ohio, Illinois and Texas.

“My dad worked in drywall,” said Luse, a native of Vidor, Texas. “We just traveled around whenever there was a job to be done.”

After he graduated from Vidor High School, Luse said, he realized he had fallen in love with the nomadic lifestyle. He was not satisfied with his job at a fast food restaurant, he added, so he decided to join the military.

His father, John G. Luse, said Dustin wanted to be in the military from a very young age. “I remember watching ‘Heartbreak Ridge’ with him,” he recalled. “He said, ‘Daddy, who are those people?’ and I said, ‘Those are the Marines, son. From what I hear, it is the toughest branch of service.’”

When he heard these words -- even as a young child -- he decided that his dream was to be a Marine, Luse said.

“I remember the first time he talked to a recruiter and found out he was 2 pounds overweight,” his father said. “I told him I was proud of him for even trying, but that was not good enough for him.”

Luse completed his basic training in July 2013. Now, he is a motor transportation operator for Combat Logistics Battalion 5, Combat Logistics Regiment 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group. Since July, he has supported and trained with the infantry during cold weather mountain warfare training in Northern California.

“It feels good to do my job and help people,” he said. “Without the supplies that we transport, a unit can’t function efficiently for very long.”

His father says the young Marine always has been active and has had a great work ethic.

“We didn’t have a babysitter when he was young, so I would take him to work with me,” he said. “Dustin would always want to help with anything he could.”

Luse recently supported the annual Steel Knight exercise by transporting food, water and fuel to units throughout remote training areas in Twentynine Palms.

“Luse had a good time,” said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Escalante, Luse’s staff noncommissioned officer in charge in Luse’s battalion. “Coming out here to the field is a good way for us to get used to operating the vehicles in different types of terrain, and Luse makes the most of it.”

Later this year, Luse is slated to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He said he is excited for the adventure that awaits him.

“I have a steady-paying job, a roof over my head and I’m living the way I want,” he added. “What more could anyone want?”

Rescue Airmen deploy to Horn of Africa

by Master Sgt. Paul Flipse
920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs


1/21/2014 - PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.  -- A group of reservists from the 920th Rescue Wing here deployed to the Horn of Africa Jan. 19 - 20 for contingency support there.

Approximately 70 helicopter crew, maintenance, operations and support personnel deployed along with several of the wing's HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters aboard C-17 Globemasters from the 315th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Charleston, S.C.

The Reserve Airmen will serve as part of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and will be in place for personnel-recovery operations along with humanitarian efforts as needed.

The 920th Rescue Wing is the Air Force Reserve's only combat rescue unit. Air Force rescue units are the Department of Defense's only elite combat forces specifically organized, trained, equipped and postured to conduct full-spectrum personnel recovery, to include both conventional and unconventional combat-rescue operations.

Pacific Air Forces releases report on F-15 accident near Kadena AB

from Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

1/21/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- 
Headquarters Pacific Air Forces today released the results of its investigation into a May 28, 2013, F-15C aircraft accident which occurred east of Kadena Air Base, Japan.
 
Gen. Hawk Carlisle, Pacific Air Forces commander, directed an investigation into the incident.
 
The accident investigation board found clear and convincing evidence the cause of this accident was the aircraft failing to respond to the pilot's flight control inputs due to a failure in the aircraft's hydro-mechanical flight control system. Additionally, the Pitch Roll Channel Assembly provided inputs to the flight control surfaces not commanded by the aircraft pilot. The investigation also found by a preponderance of evidence that the pilot had limited time for malfunction analysis and a lack of simulator emergency procedure training for the malfunction in the hydro-mechanical flight control system also substantially contributed to the accident.
The incident occurred as the pilot was on a training mission as part of a two-ship formation. After executing take off, airspace entry and two flight training engagements without incident, the pilot attempted to rejoin with the lead pilot, but the aircraft no longer responded to his flight control inputs. At approximately the same time, the pilot noticed the hydraulic, yaw, roll, and pitch control augmentation system warning lights were illuminated. The pilot was unable to recover the aircraft from a left descending spiral for over 20 seconds, and ejected at 4,500 feet above sea level as the aircraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean approximately 60 miles east of Kadena AB.
Col. Terry Scott served as the Accident Investigation Board president. He is the vice commander of the 15th Wing at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The colonel is a command pilot with more than 3,900 flight hours.

National Guard civil support teams assist with water sampling in West Virginia

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy Cotton Puryear
Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (1/21/14) - National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are using the skills and training they have for sampling and identifying unknown chemical or biological agents to help West Virginia officials evaluate the quality of water after a chemical spill left more than 300,000 residents without drinking water. Weapons of mass destruction civil support teams from five different states have been working in the Charleston area since Jan. 9, 2014, to assist the West Virginia National Guard's 35th CST with the collection, data entry and transport of water samples for evaluation.

"The impact of the National Guard has been huge," said Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water. He said that his company has a lot of capability and technically savvy people, but the Guard has played a key role in helping with a water sampling effort that spans more than 3,000 square miles. "Their support shows us how important the National Guard is to a state and community or even a private enterprise that can't do everything it needs for the people of West Virginia."

West Virginia officials lifted water restrictions that began Jan. 9, but sampling continues to evaluate the water supply. Officials say they will continue testing until the system has been sampled and tested at 1/100 parts per million (10 parts per billion), a level well below the Center for Disease Control recommended threshold for public health and considered to be the level of non-detection.

CSTs from Tennessee, Ohio and Washington, D. C. deployed for duty soon after the initial spill to assist the 35th CST with water sample collection, inputting tracking information and transporting samples to testing labs for evaluation. CSTs from Virginia and Pennsylvania arrived Jan. 18 to continue support after the initial CSTs departed.

"After our initial response, we realized pretty quickly that we were going to need some help," said Lt. Col. Greg Grant, commander of the 35th CST. He said that while the water company was very skilled and experienced in their operations, the demand of collecting more than 1,500 samples over a period of more than 10 days required a huge effort. With the help of the other CSTs, water sampling operations have been running 24 hours a day.

For the sampling operations, National Guard Soldiers and Airmen pair up with employees of West Virginia American Water, travel to a designated survey point, collect a water sample, label it, then return it to a collection point where the key data is captured and then the sample is sent off for evaluation. CST personnel continue to track the samples until the evaluation results are returned from the lab.

"Our baseline survey task is to go to a point, take a sample, bring it back and get it to an analytical lab," said Maj. Casey Cox, commander of the 34th CST. He said the nuts and bolts behind effective sampling is the data and being able to carefully and accurately track the sample results through the entire process.
The coordinated multi-state response has also validated many of the training practices and procedures used by the CSTs. Grant explained that because CSTs are regionally aligned and often train together, there were already established relationships that improved the effectiveness of the initial response. Because CSTs follow standard protocols and procedures, it was easy to integrate new CST members into the operation without compromising mission effectiveness, he said.

According to National Guard Bureau, there are 57 WMD-CSTs located in each state, U.S. territory and Washington D.C. with two each in California, Florida and New York. The teams are on stand-by 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can deploy an advance team within 90 minutes of notification. The main body deploys within three hours.

Grant said that he called the commander of the Tennessee CST at 10:30 a.m. and they were on a plane at 3:30 in the afternoon. "The professionalism and skill sets of the National Guard and CSTs are really remarkable, and we know we can count on each other," he said.

"I am very pleased with how quickly we were able to alert, marshal and deploy safely into West Virginia," Cox said. He added that their experience in West Virginia is allowing them to exercise their sampling skills and will make them more effective. "What we are doing here is allowing us to hone our skills for future missions," Cox said.

A National Guard weapons of mass destruction civil support team is comprised of 22 full-time Army and Air National Guard personnel with the mission to support civil authorities at a domestic chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incident site with identification and assessment of hazards, advice to civil authorities, and facilitating the arrival of follow-on military forces during emergencies and incidents of weapons of mass destruction terrorism. Following Hurricane Katrina, the CST was expanded to include natural and man-made disasters. The unit complements and enhances, but does not duplicate, state CBRNE response capabilities and is divided into six sections: command, operations, communications, administration/logistics, medical/analytical and survey.

More than 500 members of the West Virginia National Guard have been on duty assisting with water testing as well as distribution of bottled water to residents in support of the state's multi-agency response to the situation.

Chief of Naval Personnel Visits Bataan Sailors, Talks Value of Sea Duty



By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mark Hays, USS Bataan Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP) Vice Adm. Bill Moran visited multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) Jan. 21.

During his visit he held an all-hands call in the ship's hangar bay to discuss important issues such as pay, benefits, manning and deployment cycles.

Moran announced during the all-hands call that the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) and Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) are moving forward and will soon announce changes to career sea pay for all Sailors while on sea duty.

"It's long overdue; we haven't adjusted sea pay in over 10 years," Moran said. "We are convinced it's the right thing to do for Sailors who are serving at sea. We want to compensate you more for the work that you do."

With Bataan preparing to deploy early next month, the discussion of a career sea pay raise was great news for Sailors and their families.

"I'm excited about the changes, especially with deployment coming up," said Electricians Technician 2nd Class Thien Nguyen. "This will help me when I consider doing back-to-back sea duty."

Moran also stressed that when you read a headline today in the media about important sailor and family issues, "read the whole story."

Rumors are out there that we are cutting pay, benefits and retirement. He explained that none of the rumors are true.

"We are not cutting your pay," Moran said. "The retirement system that you came into the Navy with is the retirement system you are going to get."

As CNP, he said he and his staff remain focused on putting the right Sailor with the right education in the right billet at the right time. That means getting manning levels to appropriate levels earlier in a ship's training cycle.

According to Moran, the Navy brought in 8,000 additional Sailors in the last two years to help reduce the number of gaps at sea and minimize the dip in manpower after deployment in preparation for the next.

"Real progress is being made on the manning front--we have cut our gaps at sea in half, and are getting folks to ships earlier in the training cycle. There is still work to do, but our collective efforts are making an impact."

Moran concluded his remarks by discussing the recently announced Optimzed Fleet Response Plan (OFRP).

"This is good news for Sailors who stay in the Navy for the long term," said Moran. "It's going to provide stability and predictability on deployments. It's going to provide Sailors with more time at home for longer stretches, which I think is good."

O-FRP aligns carrier strike group assets to a new 36-month training and deployment cycle. Beginning in fiscal year '15, all required maintenance, training, evaluations and a single eight-month deployment will be efficiently scheduled throughout the cycle to drive down costs and increase overall fleet readiness. O-FRP reduces time at sea and increases home port tempo from 49 percent to 68 percent for our Sailors over the 36 month period.

403rd Wing rates 'effective' in first unit inspection

by Tech Sgt. Ryan Labadens
403rd Public Affairs


1/21/2014 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The 403rd Wing successfully completed its first unit effectiveness inspection here Jan. 13 with an overall rating of "effective."

About 50 personnel from Air Force Reserve Command and Air Mobility Command Inspector General's Offices visited Keesler Air Force Base January 9-13 to evaluate the wing under the new inspection system that assesses the unit's mission effectiveness, efficiency and readiness.

Of the four major graded areas, the wing was scored "effective" in managing resources, leading people and improving the unit and "highly effective" in executing the mission.

Inspectors met with 403rd Wing members in various organizations to determine unit performance based on the new UEI construct.

"This is the first 403rd Wing inspection that falls under the new UEI system," said Lt. Col. Allyson Chauvin, 403rd Wing inspector general.

The UEI is meant to replace major operational readiness and compliance evaluations, such as OREs and ORIs, and do away with units 'ramping up' for inspections, said Chauvin.

According to AFI 90-201, the unit effectiveness inspection system is designed to foster a culture of critical self-assessment and continuous improvement, providing a "photo album" versus a "snapshot" view of wing effectiveness.

The inspection team primarily came to perform spot checks and conduct Airman-to-IG individual and group sessions geared toward climate assessment, said Chauvin.

Col. Barbara King, an inspector with the Air Force Inspection Agency, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., served as the leader for the surgeon general team of the UEI. Her team evaluated the 403rd Aeromedical Staging Squadron during the inspection.

King said there are some essential differences between the UEI and previous inspection systems.

"Past inspections really work off of compliance checklists: show us your checklist and show us how you're doing that'," said King. "This really reverses that process and puts much more empowerment on the Airman at the unit level: show us your self-inspection program and how you are meeting your mission effectiveness."

The 403rd Wing is only the second wing in the Air Force Reserve Command to undergo inspections under the new UEI system; the 315th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Charleston, S.C., was the first wing to receive a UEI inspection. This capstone event is scheduled to be performed once every 24-30 months.

"It's really designed to help Airmen understand how they should be inspecting themselves so, they can show sustained progress toward improving mission effectiveness," said King.

Commander of ACC visits Beale

by Staff Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo
9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs


1/21/2014 - BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of Air Combat Command, visited Beale AFB and held an Airmen's call at the community activity center here Jan. 14.

During the forum with Airmen, Hostage addressed top issues within the Air Force, such as budget concerns, force management programs and retirement benefits.

"The Air Force has been working hard over the past decade to fulfill its expeditionary mission and still have a stateside mission," Hostage said, in explaining that shrinking budgets have made it difficult to support current operations while training forces to support the full range of combat operations.

Last summer, Hostage observed, sequestration impacts resulted in 17 ACC flying squadrons being temporarily grounded. Recent legislation is intended to provide the funds needed to maintain readiness, but the Air Force still needs to find ways to reduce spending over the coming years.

Hostage said that budget environment is driving personnel reductions and a reorganization of the Air Force.

"The truth of the matter is our Air Force is getting smaller," Hostage said. "Beale will see a lot of change. The good news is that this nation will always require high-altitude ISR, and you're the experts."

The Air Force is slated to reduce its manpower by 25,000 people throughout the next five years.

"In a perfect world, we would be able to accomplish this over time through our normal attrition rates, but we just don't have the budget," Hostage said.

In an effort to reach manpower goals, the Air Force has launched various voluntary force management programs from early retirement to special separation bonuses for Airmen who elect to leave the Air Force.

"It's a way to encourage people who were already thinking about leaving and incentivize them to do so within the allotted time frame to help resolve the issue," Hostage said.

Voluntary programs began Jan. 14, but, if quotas are not met, involuntary separations or retirements are expected to be implemented early this summer.

"Lurking out there are the involuntary programs, from (Date of Separation) roll-backs to reductions in force, all meant to get us down to a size we have a budget to pay for," Hostage said. "Hopefully, with our incentive programs, we won't have to resort to that."

"I truly appreciate your service," Hostage said. "Our military gets to protect and preserve something unique in the world: freedom."