Thursday, January 23, 2014

Becoming an Air Force pilot: a worthwhile challenge

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Blake Mize
JBER Public Affairs

1/23/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENODRF-RICHARSON, Alaska -- The U.S. Air Force is widely recognized as the best air and space force the world has ever known. To maintain this status requires filling its ranks with some of the best educated and highly trained aviators in the world. While many career fields throughout the Air Force are experiencing a reduction in force due to the current fiscal environment, pilots continue to be in high demand.

Even during a time of monetary restraint, the Air Force requires the services of those who can successfully complete the extensive training needed to fly.

"Since the Korean War, this nation has deployed about seven million men and women at arms to different contingencies around the world, and tens of thousands of them have died there," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh at the American Enterprise Institute in December. "None of them have died as a result of enemy air attack - that doesn't happen by accident."

The general's quote articulates the Air Force's contribution to national defense, although some have recently discounted it, and the importance of pilots to the Air Force mission.
To become an Air Force pilot, one must first commission into the Air Force. There are three ways to accomplish this - the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., the Reserve Officer Training Corps program and Officer Training School.

"During the commissioning process you apply for various jobs in the Air Force," said Air Force 1st Lt. Brendon Boston, 90th Fighter Squadron F-22 Raptor pilot. "Depending on your performance, you may or may not get what you put down as your number one choice."

Only those who distinguish themselves from their peers are selected to go to Undergraduate Pilot Training. Selection depends on variables such as grade point average, fitness scores, an aptitude test, prior flight experience and hand-eye coordination.

Once selected to go to UPT, candidates go through a thorough medical screening and Initial Flight Screening.

"IFS is a short program out in Pueblo, Colo., where you learn the basics of flying and you are essentially screened to see if you have the aptitude, attitude and ability to learn the military way of flying on their timeline," said Air Force 1st Lt. Kyle Oliver, 90th FS F-22 Raptor pilot.

Getting selected and screened at IFS is relatively easy compared to what it takes to complete the grueling, year-long UPT course at either Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas or Vance Air Force Base, Okla.

"Every student starts out in the T-6 [Texan II] learning basic aviation skills, aerobatic confidence maneuvers, emergency procedures, instrument flying and basic formation," Oliver said. "After six months, the classes are divided into three tracks for the fighter and bomber aircraft, cargo and tanker aircraft, and helicopters."

Students on the fighter and bomber track spend the remainder of the course becoming proficient in the T-38 Talon. Those selected for cargo and tanker aircraft learn in the T-1 Jayhawk and future helicopter pilots go to the TH-67 Creek helicopter.

"There is a significant amount of dedication required for pilot training," Boston said. "There is an immense amount of material to learn and to be able to recall from memory on the spot. There is always something - the next flight, simulator, academic test or emergency procedure evaluation - to prepare for. Twelve-hour days are commonplace."

Air Force Capt. Jared Moore, 517th Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III pilot, emphasized the need to be focused solely on becoming an aviator during those 12 months.

"You need a pure passion for aviation," Moore said. "Aviation regulations are typically written in blood from someone else that messed up in the past, so you need to be committed to what you're about to do and be able to learn from others' mistakes. Pilot training is a fun time with great people, but you have to have your priorities in life set straight so that you can dedicate all your spare time to ensure that you succeed in pilot training. As a pilot, you can't study enough. The more you study, the more you learn how much you don't know."

Upon graduation from UPT, pilots are assigned to a specific airframe and begin learning to fly it. There are differing courses and durations of training depending on which airframe a pilot is learning. An F-22 pilot, for example, will complete a 12-week Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals course at either Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, Sheppard Air Force Base, or Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., then go to Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., for F-22-specific training, which is approximately eight months long. Pilots then arrive at their assigned duty station where they begin Mission Qualification Training. Once that is complete, there is a continuous process of upgrade training in place that spans their entire Air Force career, said Air Force Capt. Ryan Sivertsen, 90th FS F-22 Raptor pilot. They never stop training until the day they no longer fly.

"It's all stepping stones," Sivertsen said. "Once you feel like you're starting to learn how to do something, they throw something else at you that you have to learn. You never fully master anything before you're already moving on to the next thing. It's all building blocks."
Sivertsen said being a pilot is not for everyone.

"The best thing is to get some exposure," he said. "Make sure it's actually what you want to do, because it's a lot of work once you get there. You want to be certain that's what you want to do."

Despite all the hard work, long days, sacrifice, studying and never-ending training, you'd still be hard pressed to find an Air Force pilot who would trade his or her job for any other.
"Being an Air Force pilot is an absolute blast," Boston said. "It's a huge commitment but it is well worth it."

For more information on how to commission into the Air Force, contact your base education center or go to

U.S. Air Force B-52 to take part in bilateral training at RAAF

Release Number: 020114

1/23/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  --  The U.S. Air Force will send a B-52 operating from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to Royal Australian Air Force Base (RAAF) Darwin, Australia, later this week to take part in short term bilateral training with the RAAF. The B-52 is assigned to Andersen AFB as part of U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Air Force rotational presence in the Pacific.  
These rotations enhance U.S. ability to train, exercise and operate with Australia and with other allies and partners across the region, further enabling the U.S. to work together with these nations to respond more quickly to a wide range of challenges, including humanitarian crises and disaster relief, as well as promoting security cooperation efforts across the region.
The last landing of B-52 at RAAF Base Darwin took place in August of 2012 after the multilateral Exercise Pitch Black. The Royal Australian Air Force was a key part of this event, as their C-17 brought forward personnel and critical equipment from Andersen AFB to support the B-52 arrival at RAAF Base Darwin.  Decisions on future aircraft rotations and bilateral training opportunities are still under discussion.  
For additional information, please contact Pacific Air Forces public affairs at +1 808-448-3226 or by e-mail at Duty hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Hawaii Standard Time.

Air Force's top leaders visit Global Strike bases

by Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

1/23/2014 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody completed visits to Air Force Global Strike Command bases this week.

Leaders met with Airmen at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., Malmstrom AFB, Mt., Minot AFB, N.D., and here to gather feedback from the force and to reinforce Air Force standards and expectations following an announcement on cheating allegations within the missile community.

"As Airmen, we must be committed to our core values--it's our bedrock," said James. "This was a failure of integrity by a group of Airmen, not a failure of the nuclear mission. But it was still important for me to get on the road quickly to find out what was going on and get to the bottom of it."

During their visits, the senior leaders met with missile and bomber force members, congressional representatives and command leaders, and addressed Airmen during All Calls. James and Cody answered Airmen questions on force management programs and structure, their concerns about lack of funds for training and maintenance, and how future cuts could affect military family programs.

Traveling separately, Welsh shared his expectations specifically with missile and bomber forces during smaller sessions. James and Cody also met small focus groups of officers and enlisted members to discuss the mission and collect recommendations on improving the nuclear force.

"I've done a lot of listening and have benefited from it," said James. "Based on discussions with Airmen at some locations, morale was a concern. Morale is a multi-faceted subject that means different things to different people, but it is a topic that will be addressed."

A recurring concern was the stress of operating in a high pressure environment where perfection is perceived to be the standard.

"We want to create an environment where Airmen can train and if they make a mistake, they can learn from it and move forward," James said. "I want to come up with a plan about what we are going to do for this mission in a matter of weeks not months."

James, stressing her full confidence in the security of the nuclear enterprise, wants Airmen to know the importance of the nuclear mission and their role in it.

"I remain as confident as ever in the overall ability of our nuclear forces. While the Cold War may be over, there are a multitude of new threats that demand this deterrence. This mission is solid and is here to stay."

Soldier Trio Nominated to U.S. Olympic Luge Team

By Tim Hipps
U.S. Army Installation Management Command

PARK CITY, Utah, Jan. 23, 2014 – Three soldiers from the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program earned nominations for the U.S. Olympic Luge Team for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Team USA luge coach Staff Sgt. Bill Tavares will lead Sgt. Matt Mortensen and Sgt. Preston Griffall, who secured their spot with a ninth-place finish in doubles at the Luge World Cup stop, Dec. 13, 2013, at Utah Olympic Park.

The U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, or WCAP, duo completed its first run down the 1,335-meter track that features 15 curves in 43.948 seconds, followed by a shakier slide down the mountain in 44.132 seconds -- for a cumulative time of 1:28.080. Germany's Tobias Wendl and Bvias Arlt won the race with a 1:27.326 clocking.

"There's always a little bit of pressure when you're sliding, but for Preston and I, the main thing was just get down to the finish without walls -- do something that you've done hundreds of times, and just do it OK," said Mortensen, 28, of Huntington Station, N.Y. "Second run, I tried not to do it OK, but we still managed to get down without any walls."

Griffall, a 2006 Olympian who just missed making the team in 2010, had even more reason to be concerned. As the bottom guy on a doubles team, it's often difficult to see what is happening.

"Our second run, like Matt said, we had some problems on the run," said Griffall, 29, of Salt Lake City, Utah. "There's a big scoreboard, actually, behind curve 14 -- because I can't see directly in front of me because Matt's sitting there -- so I was turned around and trying to look at the scoreboard to see what place we were in. And we're still traveling at 60 or 70 miles per hour, and I couldn't see where the place was on the board."

Another four years instantaneously flashed through the mind of Griffall.

"I had no idea what place we were in, and Matt wasn't doing anything, so there was no reaction at first. I was like, 'Oh, my God, maybe we didn't get the place that we needed,' he recalled. "I finally was able to see around him once we got further up the outrun and I saw that we were in second place [at that point in the competition] and at that point I knew that we had met the place we needed to in order to qualify for the Olympics.

"I was just extremely excited," Griffall said. "That was what we needed to do. I was happy for both Matt and I that we were finally able to do this after seven years. This is the goal that we had, and we finally met that goal. I'm just trying to enjoy it right now and we're going to look forward toward Sochi, get there and try and go for it -- give ourselves the possibility of going for a medal."

Mortensen was "paralyzed by emotion" the moment he realized the WCAP duo's second run was good enough to earn an Olympic berth.

"All that matters is that we qualified for the Olympics and we're going to Sochi," he said. "We ended up in ninth place today, which is same as last week, so that's really, really good for us."

The next day, Mortensen and Griffall enjoyed a "victory lap," of sorts, by anchoring Team USA to a silver medal in the World Cup team relay, an event that will make its Olympic debut in Sochi. Kate Hansen slid the women's singles leg and Chris Mazdzer filled the men's singles spot on the relay team.

USA Luge officially announced nomination of the 2014 Olympic Luge Team, at the Utah Olympic Park Museum.

Joining the WCAP lugers on Team USA: Mazdzer of Saranac Lake, N.Y., Tucker West of Ridgefield, Conn., and Aidan Kelly of West Islip, N.Y., in men's singles; Erin Hamlin of Remsen, N.Y., Hansen of La Canada, Calif., and Summer Britcher of Glen Rock, Pa., in women's singles, along with Christian Niccum of Woodinville, Wash., and Jayson Terdiman of Berwick, Pa., in doubles.

"It's unbelievable," Mortensen said. "I get emotional thinking about it. It's been almost 17 years that I've been working toward this point, and for it to finally happen is like a dream come true."

Griffall hopes his third go-round might indeed produce the charm.

"Emotionally, it's a pretty powerful thing," he said. "This is the biggest event for our sport. It only happens every four years. We have World Cups and World Championships in between, but this is the big one, you know? Yeah, after Matt and I missed it narrowly in 2010, this has been a long time coming."

1st CTCS hosts ATSO exercise with AF combat camera squadrons

by Airman 1st Class Clayton Cupit
Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

1/21/2014 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON - S.C. -- The 1st Combat Camera Squadron at Joint Base Charleston - Air Base, S.C., hosted an Ability to Survive and Operate exercise Jan. 6 through 17.

This year, the 1st CTCS invited all four Air Force Combat Camera squadrons with the 2nd out of Hill Air Force Base, Utah and 3rd out of Joint Base San Antonio, Texas attending for the two-week long exercise.

The exercise is designed to sharpen Airmen's skills and their ability to operate as combat documentation specialists while deployed.

The first week of the exercise consisted of intense classroom training taught by experienced combat documentation specialists who have been on multiple deployments as combat cameramen.

After the first week of training was complete, more than 90 Airmen from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd CTCS were transported to a nearby camp at North Auxiliary Air Field, S.C., their simulated deployed location for the duration of the exercise.

The Airmen were separated into four groups of approximately 24 Airmen. Each 24-man group was further divided into two teams of 12 Airmen each. Each group would eat, sleep and train together as one cohesive unit throughout the week.

"I learned how to be more effective in a team, so that when I deploy I am not a liability to myself or others," said Senior Airman Roswell Sartwell, 3rd CTCS combat broadcaster. "The three combat camera squadrons worked as one to accomplish the same goal of being better combat documenters as well as more efficient combat Airmen."

Each group would spend an entire day learning about various battlefield threats including: Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape as well as Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosives.

Other portions of the training included Tactical and Convoy operations and Self Aid Buddy Care. "This training has a lot of value to me," said Sartwell. "It's something I can take back and show the rest of my squadron what I've learned here."

The Airmen started each day at 6 a.m. and trained until 8 p.m., and sometimes beyond. There was also a set time for documenters to edit photos or video when training was done for the day.

The SERE portion of the training consisted of hand-to-hand combat skills, disarming an enemy, navigation and surviving in the wild.

The CBRNE portion of the training tested Airmen and their ability to quickly gear up head to toe with protective clothing and masks to prevent contamination such as biological, radiological or just airborne toxins to themselves and their equipment. Airmen also had to thoroughly document a hazardous waste scene in a short amount of time.

Medical specialists from the 628th Medical Group trained the Airmen on Self-Aid Buddy Care and how to treat real world medical concerns. The medics spent the entire week in the field with the Airmen.

Aside from the SERE and self-aid buddy care, the Airmen trained on tactical procedures with experienced combat documentation specialists from morning well into the night.
The Tactical portion included: weapons familiarization, team tactical movement and close quarters battle.

The Airmen went on numerous patrols where they were met by small arms fire from role players. Shoot houses were also set-up where the Airmen were trained on close-quarter battle and proper procedures for clearing buildings.

There was also convoy training which required individuals to enhance their voice communication skills and alertness. The convoy rode a set route with artificial IED's set up throughout the course.

Airmen from the 628th Civil Engineer Squadron, Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit made the scenarios as real as possible and provided oversight during the training.

"This was a great learning experience," said Airman Taylor Queen, 2nd CTCS combat cameraman. "The scenarios felt very realistic and I know I'll be more prepared if I ever have to experience this in a deployed location."

The final day of the exercise tested the Airmen on all the skills they learned inside and outside of the classroom with a four part, four-hour scenario.

"Our Airmen periodically deploy with one another, so this training provided them the opportunity to share similar skill sets to grow and develop those skills sets together and to get to know each other better ," said Lt. Col Michael Johnson, 1st CTCS commander.

ATSO was brought back last year after six-years of not conducting the training. This year, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd CTCS were all able to go through the training together to improve synergy among the Airmen.

"The success of this year's ATSO rests solely on the shoulders of the Airmen and their attitude, commitment and motivation," said Johnson. "There wasn't a day between last week and this week where the morale and attitude wasn't very high."

MHAFB remembers retired Col. Chester 'Soapy' Walborn

366 Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/17/2014 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho  -- The 366th Fighter Wing pauses to remember retired Col. Chester "Soapy" Walborn, a local Mountain Home hero, who died Jan 16.

"Our deepest condolences go out to the Walborn Family at the passing of Col. Chester A. 'Soapy' Walborn," said Col. Christopher Short, 366th Fighter Wing commander. "He was an American Hero who proudly served his country as a military officer and in the community after he retired from military service. During all of this he considered himself the luckiest person on earth to do what he loved ... serve his country and fly airplanes."

Walborn was born in the hills of Kentucky on September 8, 1932. When he was 9 years old he lived near Scott Field, Illinois, where he saw every type of airplane flown in World War II - as Scott Field was a common stopping point for planes transiting the country to Europe. This introduction to aviation gave birth to him eventually achieving his goal of becoming a military officer and a pilot.

He was commissioned March 15, 1953, and over his career, he flew more than 8,400 flying hours in 15 different airframes, from B-25s, to F-111Fs and F-15s. In these aircraft, 2,600 hours were in combat operations over two tours in Vietnam, one as an Airborne Liaison Officer with the Vietnamese Army and the other with the 391st Fighter Squadron, a current MHAFB squadron. While in Vietnam, he received the Silver Star, nine Distinguished Flying Crosses, 27 Air Medals, two Purple Hearts, Bronze Star with "V" for Valor, four Vietnamese cross of Gallantry with Palm and the Vietnamese Medal of Honor.

After Vietnam, he became the Deputy Commander for Operation at MHAFB in 1974 and Vice Wing Commander in 1975. He retired July 1980 and moved back to Mountain Home and became involved with the community and military associations,

Some of his notable community contributions include the Daedalian's, charter member and past Flight Captain Billy Mitchell, Flt #19 in Wiesbaden, Germany, original Charter Member Gunfighter Flight #93 at Mountain Home, launched the local Air Force Association chapter in 1980 and served as chapter and Idaho state president for 18 years.

Weapon Systems Officer reaches 1,000 combat flying hours

by Staff Sgt. Michael Means
380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

1/23/2014 - SOUTHWEST ASIA  -- (Editor's note: The name of Major Dozer is withheld due to security and safety reasons.)

Air Force Maj. "Dozer," a weapons systems officer assigned to the 335th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (Chiefs), exceeded 1,000 combat flying hours since his first combat sortie in Spring of 2004.

He reached this feat during his 176th combat sortie which happened here, Jan. 12, 2013.

It just means I've been doing this a while and now I cannot deny that I am one of the old guys, said Dozer.

"Dozer's 1,000th combat hour is a testament to the sustained contribution by both him and the F-15E community over the past 10 years - from the maintainers that keep the jets flying to the operators who employ them in combat," said Air Force Lt. Col Todd Dyer, 355 EFS commander. "There aren't many fighter aviators who can claim that particular accomplishment."

"This has been a team effort," said Dozer. "For every hour that I have spent in the air, our maintainers have spent hundreds of hours keeping these jets in the air. They do great work, and we put our lives in their hands every time we take off."

There are many people and organizations that contribute to a single mission.

Within the operations group we have Aircrew Flight Equipment and Squadron Aviation Resource Management, but there are things happening behind the scenes, said Dozer.

"There are things that we take for granted sometimes, like our security forces Airmen keeping us and our jets safe, logistics keeping parts stocked or fuel in the jets, medical keeping us healthy, or mission support keeping us paid and fed," said Dozer. "I wouldn't have a single combat hour without the contribution of the entire team."

Dozer, a Beeville, Texas, native who is currently assigned to Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., has more than 2,200 flying hours throughout his 13-year career.

"I love my job, protecting the troops on the ground and that there is always something new to learn or improve," said Dozer. "I am surrounded by highly motivated, intelligent, talented people who hold themselves to the highest standards.

Beyond reaching this milestone Dozer is seen as more than a WSO in his unit.

"Dozer is an outstanding asset to the Chiefs," said Dyer. "He also serves as an assistance director of operations, flight examiner and mission commander - he does it all."

"I love being able to say that I've done my part to defend America and all of the great things that America represents," said Dozer.

Army Officer Candidates Learn to Serve

By Army Sgt. Tanangachi Mfuni
7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

COLUMBUS, Ga., Jan. 23, 2014 – Whether it was a unity walk alongside Columbus’ mayor, reading with kids at a local library or raising Fort Benning’s garrison flag, future officers attending the installation’s Officer Candidate School spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend serving the community.

“For leaders especially, you need to show your support for your surroundings and the areas in which you live,” said Officer Candidate Kristen Smith, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., who’s enrolled at the school.

OCS is an intensive 12-week course that trains soldiers to become United States Army officers and future leaders of America. It is one of only three U.S. Army officer commissioning sources, alongside U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Reserve Officers' Training Corps.

Smith was one of about 40 officer candidates who participated in Columbus’ Martin Luther King Jr. “The Dream Lives” Unity Processional and Celebration. The walk drew hundreds of representatives from civic groups. They marched through the streets of downtown Columbus to the trombone beat of high school bands, convening on the Government Center Plaza.

In the plaza, the festivities continued as participants, holding bold black and gold signs that read, “I am the dream” and “the dream lives,” prayed, danced and listened to speeches honoring the civil rights leader. King’s 85th birthday was nationally observed on Jan. 20.

“We’re here today because of the significant impact Martin Luther King had on the community, just to remember that,” said Capt. Michelle McDevitt, commander of OCS’s Headquarters Company.

McDevitt was among a group of leaders invited to walk with Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson during the processional.

In nearby Phenix City, Ala., officer candidates gave back in other ways. Officer Candidate John Thompson was among a group of volunteers who spent Saturday morning at Phenix City-Russell County Library helping children to read.

“As a former educator, I wholeheartedly believe that reading is the basis of children’s education,” said Thompson, who previously taught middle and high school students in Potosi, Mo., before joining the Army.

Each OCS class is challenged to collectively volunteer a minimum of 500 hours during the three-month course. OCS administrators like 1st Sgt. Marcus Brister, the senior noncommissioned officer of the school's Alpha Company, say they hope volunteering will lay a foundation of selfless service in candidates’ lives that carries over into the future.

“The first thing you have to learn is how to be selfless and how to give to others because that’s what steward-leadership is all about,” Brister said.

“We start that here with very simple products, just going out and serving the community hoping that we instill the bedrock [of selfless service] that later on in your career is going to mean saving a life,” Brister said.

Candidates had ample opportunity to practice selfless service when they raised and lowered Fort Benning’s massive garrison flag on MLK Jr. Day.

Officer Candidate Cuong Tran was among those who got up at 4:30 a.m. to perform the duty.

“When I think about it, it’s getting up to do something for the nation,” said Tran, a resident of Worcester, Mass.

“It made me feel proud of the community, proud of the country,” Tran said.

It is with a sense of pride and duty that officer candidates look forward to future opportunities to serve the community.

“We need to more events like this,” observed Officer Candidate Shirley Charles, who hails from Brooklyn, N.Y. “It brought us closer together.”

Military Chiefs Look to NATO’s Future

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT, Jan. 23, 2014 – The NATO chiefs of defense “talked a little bit about today, a little bit about tomorrow, and a little bit about 10 years from now,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said as he returned to Washington today from alliance meetings in Brussels.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey took advantage of the 170th Chiefs of Defense Meeting to not only address NATO issues, but to strengthen military-to-military relations with other nations.

The chairman’s first engagement in Brussels was a meeting with his Russian counterpart Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov. Dempsey said the session was very positive and constructive, describing U.S.- Russian relations as important “not just because of the issues that are apparent to us, but the ones that are not yet apparent,” he said. The alliance’s possible future in Afghanistan after its current mission ends this year was also discussed. At the NATO meeting itself, he said, “We reminded ourselves that while the discussions are going on about our 2015 presence, we still have some tasks at hand to accomplish,” he said.

The chiefs looked at ways to increase the pace of development of the Afghan national security forces – focusing on how to improve the institutions that build and manage them. And, they discussed what can be done to help Afghans hold a credible, transparent and fair presidential election in April.

Most of the NATO support will be peripheral, as the Afghans have the lion’s share of conducting the vote. The United States will provide some logistical support and transportation for election observers.

The chiefs also discussed how they can “preserve our options so when the political decision is made on 2015 and beyond, we’ll have a pretty clear understanding of how we will have to shift to accomplish it.”

The other main outcome of the meeting was an increased awareness of the threats and risks building on the alliance’s southern flank. The United States has long spoken about transnational threats emanating from North Africa and the Middle East. Terrorist organizations take advantage of weak governments or ungoverned spaces and use them as safe havens, Dempsey said. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Mahgreb is one of these groups and there are others.

“I am encouraged that the alliance is beginning to understand some of the risks that are building on its southern flank,” the chairman said. “Now we have reached the point of entering into conversations about what as an alliance we might do about it.”

The chiefs spoke about NATO’s nascent cyber defense capability. “It’s mostly all national level,” he said. “We’re trying to find ways to link it together to make ourselves more capable in the cyber dimension.”

The meeting in Brussels will be followed by a NATO defense ministers’ meeting next month, which will help set up a NATO Summit that will be hosted by the United Kingdom later this year.

Maintain mental fitness for a healthy life

by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

1/21/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- The challenges of working in the Air Force can be both physically and mentally taxing. Mental fitness is approaching life's challenges in a positive way by demonstrating self-control, stamina and good character with choices and actions.

"When we celebrate attitudes and actions, we want to encourage it and reinforce those behaviors," said. Dawn Altmaier, the 92nd Air Refueling Wing community support coordinator. "It requires intentional effort to connect; a vital aspect for every human."

Altmaier and Team Fairchild are committed to investing in readiness of the force and quality of life for Airmen, family members and civilians. This philosophy focuses on developing the mental, social, physical and spiritual fitness of Airmen and their families through the Comprehensive Airman Fitness program.

"CAF is about being good Wingmen to ourselves and others," Altmaier said. "Our CAF goal is to create and strengthen a community of fit and resilient Airmen, civilians and families. It is not a program, but a culture change that enhances mission effectiveness by focusing and investing in people."

This quarter, the Air Force is focused on improving the mental resiliency of Airmen. Mental fitness requires effective coping skills, a strong self-image and a positive approach to life. People who are mentally fit demonstrate self-control and make good choices, said Col. Brian Masterson, the Air Force Reserve Command's command surgeon.

According to the AFRC's Wingman Toolkit, maintaining mental and emotional fitness is critical for all Air Force members. Some people seem to achieve this naturally. However, more often, it's the result of some hard work and longstanding good habits, officials said. It all begins with good nutrition but involves much more.

"The good news is healthy brains remain capable of growth throughout a person's life, so everybody can improve their mental fitness," said Airman 1st Class Andres Gutierrez Gonzalez, a 92nd Medical Operation Squadron mental health technician.

Another important aspect of mental wellness is admitting when help is needed. Experts say, if you have genuine concerns about the health of your brain, seek help from a qualified mental health counselor or start with your primary care physician.

"You're never alone," said Altmaier. "We have dozens of helping agencies here ready and willing to help you."

Mental health service specialists at Fairchild interview patients to obtain clinical information that may assist in determining the patient's psychological and psychological status. They provide guidance and counseling to assist patients in achieving a more satisfying personal, family, social and occupational adjustment.

"Mental fitness is very important for functioning while going through the day that way you don't have any distractions, you can do your job and can be happy," Gutierrez Gonzalez said. "Follow your routine, eat healthy and talk out your issues if you have any. We offer various mental fitness assistance avenues from therapists and psychologists, family and behavioral health specialists, as well as Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment and family advocacy."

Gutierrez Gonzalez added the Fairchild mental health office is doing walkabouts through different units affording Airmen an opportunity to talk about whatever may be on their minds.

"This is a new program we are doing to help Team Fairchild maintain their mental fitness," he said.

Airmen participate in joint exercise Global Response Expeditor

by Marvin Krause
43d Airlift Group public affairs

1/22/2014 - POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Total force mobility Airmen and 23 aircraft conducted joint exercise Global Response Expeditor alongside U.S. Army soldiers here Jan. 6 through Jan. 16.

The purpose of this exercise was to prepare United States Transportation Command units, Air Mobility Command forces and elements of the XVIII Airborne Corps to respond as part of the Global Response Force and to conduct Joint Forcible Entry operations.

The GRF is a force dedicated to maintaining the capability of deploying on short notice anywhere in the world by land, air, or sea to conduct a variety of mission sets. This force must be flexible and able to integrate Joint Operations Systems in any operating environment.

As an element of the GRF, the 82nd Airborne Division provides a unique forcible entry capability through airborne and air assault operations. The Division contributes manpower and equipment which can be inserted into an area within hours of notification.

Mobility crews and aircraft air dropped approximately 1,124 paratroopers and offloaded more than 120 short tons of cargo at drop zones at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La.

"These exercises are great for us and the Army," said Col. Johnnie Martinez, air mission commander from the 19th Operations Group, Little Rock AFB, Ark. "Working together gives us all a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities that we have as part of the GRF." As the air mission commander, Martinez led the large formation flight of C-17s and C-130s from here to Fort Polk.

"Overall, I think everything went well," Martinez said. "We launched 19 of 20 aircraft from Pope Army Airfield so we were down just one C-130J, but I still think it was a success overall with the number of chutes that we got out," Martinez said.

According to exercise planners, the joint team successfully met all of their training objectives and aided the brigade combat team in achieving jump currency while preparing for an upcoming overseas deployment.

"This exercise required a lot of integration and planning for all of the different aircraft involved, including the C-17 and C-130s from Charleston, Elmendorf, McChord, McConnell, Little Rock, Dyess, and then all of the other capabilities that need to go along with them, including the maintenance personnel, ramp coordinators, joint airdrop inspection and intel," said Maj. Joe Bonner, Air Force lead planner from the 61st Airlift Squadron, Little Rock AFB, Ark.

"We received some great training throughout the week," Bonner said. I think it was a resounding success, all the way from the outload to the aircraft and then all the way through execution. Out of 1,124 chutes we delivered 1,073 personnel - more than 95 percent of what the Army provided us as well as all their equipment and container delivery systems. I was very happy with how it turned out."

Global Response Expeditor also illustrated the critical partnership between Mobility Air Forces and the U.S. Army by exercising Joint Forcible Entry: the capability of rapidly introducing forces into hostile environments to conduct operations - whether for combat operations or humanitarian support.

"This exercise was a great opportunity and really the key words that we think about when we do this is joint integration and composite force integration," said Maj. Leonardo Tongko, C-130J Hercules aircraft formation flight lead from the 61st Airlift Squadron, Little Rock AFB, Ark. "The things that we don't get to practice a whole lot like joint command and control execution are what we want to continuously prove and work on so that when we actually get in combat, we're that much more prepared."

By interacting and working closely with their joint partners, Airmen participating in Global Response Expeditor are able to develop refinements to processes and procedures that can potentially enhance their effectiveness for contingency operations.

Exercise participants included Air Force airlift and air refueling aircraft units from across the country, including C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft. Units belonging to the 621st Contingency Response Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., included the 570th Contingency Response Group, Travis Air Force Base, Calif., 817th Contingency Response Group, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., and the 43rd Airlift Group, Pope Army Airfield, N.C., participated in the exercise as well.

CMSAF Cody shares advice on EPR, AF changes ahead

by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

1/22/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The Air Force is moving forward with new programs affecting the enlisted corps and Airmen need to learn how to adapt and deal with the changes ahead.

Those were just two messages shared by Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody during his visit here Jan. 15-17. Cody and his wife, Athena, spent several days meeting with Airmen to discuss changes that involved the Enlisted Evaluation System and force management programs affecting the troops.

A hot topic during two Airman's Calls and smaller focus groups was potential changes to the Enlisted Evaluation System. Cody explained the Air Force is not looking at numbers to determine an Airman's performance, but a word picture that describes the performance.

"You either perform to a certain level or you don't, and we want to be able describe that in words," said Cody.

He said changes to the Enlisted Evaluation System will be better for supervisors and for Airmen-- along with it being more efficient, it will better delineate and reward those who excel.

"Most people just want honest and constructive feedback as well as a more level playing field for everyone. The reality is there is always a top performing Airman, and supervisors need to evaluate their Airmen accordingly."

In the most recent "CHIEFChat," which can be viewed on, Cody stated Airmen will start to see the evolution of the EES when they see the release of the new feedback forms, called the Airman Comprehensive Assessment.

Another message Cody wished to emphasize was Airmen need to support each other as the Air Force goes through the historic force management changes to reduce the size of the force. Among the efforts are enlisted retention boards, something that has not been done before with junior enlisted members.

"Some Airmen will be losing their jobs and the Air Force is doing all it can to work voluntary measures first, followed by the forced reductions," Cody said. "Everyone probably knows someone who is affected by these life-changing actions, so "we need to be there for each other. We have to help the Airmen and the families who are going through this in a way that is meaningful."

As people navigate this "sea of change," Cody said he expected Airmen to be the best they can be.

"There are a lot of Airmen in the Air Force. We need to make sure there's a lot of Air Force in Airmen." They do that, he said, by taking pride in the uniform, and displaying integrity and dedication to their service.

"Don't lose faith with your Service over these challenges," said Cody. "Remember the pride in what you do for our nation. It's still the greatest Air Force in the world because of the men and women who serve ... and it still will be as we go through these reductions."

Airman 1st Class Bradley Beetz, 375th Communication Squadron, said "I think Chief Cody is really looking out for the Airmen and has the best interest for us."

Cody said, "Don't lose sight of the value and purpose you bring to the fight each day."

"Learn to deal with the changes ahead. Make the best decision you can for you and your family, and keep working hard. You and your families are without a doubt our most valuable asset. Look out for each other and be a good Wingman. There is still much to do and much to accomplish, and I continue to be impressed with you and the incredible work you do."