Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Davis to take command of 507th Air Refueling Wing

by 507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

2/5/2014 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Col. Brian S. Davis assumes command of the 507th Air Refueling Wing during a 10 a.m. ceremony Feb. 8 here. Brig. Gen. John C. Flournoy, 4th Air Force commander, will preside over the proceedings.

Davis served as the 459th Operations Group commander, Joint Base Andrews, Md. He will assume command of the largest Air Force Reserve Command flying unit in the state of Oklahoma.

"I'm very excited for the opportunity to lead the men and women of the 507th," Davis said. "I know the Okies are an excellent unit that always sets the standard. I look forward to the move and can't wait to become an Okie myself."

Col. William Mason, 459th Air Refueling Wing commander, said Davis is a level headed officer with a unique ability to balance mission completion with the needs of his people.
"His down to earth personality along with his vast experience made him a very successful operations group commander," Mason said. "The men and women of the 507th will find their new commander firm but fair. These traits will serve him well as a wing commander."

Davis entered the Air Force after completing Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in April 1986. He entered pilot training at Reese AFB, Texas, earning his wings in April 1987. His first operational assignment was as a B-52G pilot in the 596th Bombardment Squadron, Barksdale AFB, La.

After his initial assignment Davis was selected as part of the initial cadre for the B-1B bomber in December 1989 and was assigned to Ellsworth AFB, S.D., as a member of the 77th Bomb Squadron. While stationed at Ellsworth, he served in various positions including Standardization/Evaluation and was selected as a member of the B-1B initial tactics development team.

In August 1993, Davis separated from active duty and began his career as a restaurant owner and airline pilot. In August 1995, he joined the Air Force Reserve as a KC-135R aircraft commander and in January 2001 accepted a position as an Air Reserve Technician with the 916th Air Refueling Wing. While at the 916th he was assigned to numerous positions - evaluator pilot, chief of current operations and mission development, chief pilot, director of operations and commander. He is a command pilot with more than 5500 flying hours in the KC-135R, B-1B, B-52G, T-38, and T-37.

HQ AMC staff exceed DCO record

by T.G. Kistler
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

2/5/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Headquarters Air Mobility Command staff broke the AMC record for number of participants on Defense Connect Online during a recent commander's all-call.

The all-call had two goals, to inform the headquarters staff and to test the limits of DCO.

Gen. Paul Selva, AMC commander, remarked the only other place he could meet with so many people at one time would be a hangar on base.

The record number of participants was 1,242 and according to Adobe officials, the meeting was the third largest ever in DCO history and the second largest meeting hosted simultaneously on both server enclaves in San Antonio, Texas and Columbus, Ohio.

According to Ashley Keating, Adobe and DCO User Engagement Manager, the two server enclaves have been active, capable of handling heavy traffic and working together for about a year.

DCO is a collaborative tool developed by the Defense Information Systems Agency that builds upon the Adobe Connect web conferencing platform. It is similar to an Internet video teleconference with the added ability to simultaneously chat and view presentations. One advantage over other collaboration tools is the numerous avenues to communicate with the group and with individuals at the same time.

For example, while seeing and hearing the main briefing, participants can offer comments or ask the briefer questions by typing them in the chat screen. In an in-person meeting, asking a question while the briefer talks would be rude, but on DCO, it is not. In fact, it is encouraged because it saves time and provides immediate feedback. In addition, participants may chat privately with one another while the briefing is going on, and are encouraged to do so.

DCO features allow participants to virtually raise their hands, vote on proposals, laugh or applaud during the presentation. Not only does this allow the briefer to monitor his performance, it also allows him to receive immediate feedback from the group, approve proposals or make firm decisions.

The staff at AMC headquarters have been using DCO for their daily meetings with the vice commander for some time. Rather than meet in a conference room, they meet from their own desks. This allows the staff to multitask during non-applicable topics and adds convenience to those whose offices are not in the headquarters building.

Because their physical presence is not required, they can be productive until the meeting starts instead of leaving 30 minutes early, walking through inclement weather or trying to find a free parking spot. They can also resume working as soon as the meeting is over.

While DCO is designed for military use on both the unclassified and secure networks, it is possible to invite civilian participants to connect using their home or office computer, tablet device or smart phone. Selva recently hosted a DCO with his civic leaders who logged in from across the country on a variety of devices.

Tyler Grimes, AMC Public Affairs, contributed to this report.

Virginia National Guard schoolhouse named one of Army’s best in the nation

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy Staff Sgt. Terra Gatti
Virginia National Guard

SANDSTON, Va. (2/4/14) - The Virginia National Guard's Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute has been declared an "Institute of Excellence" following an accreditation process conducted by U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. The schoolhouse earned an overall score of 98 percent, marking it as one of the best U.S. Army learning centers in the nation.

"HQ TRADOC recognizes the dedication and hard work of all personnel committed to ensuring the 183rd Regiment RTI received 'Institute of Excellence' status, and this achievement demonstrates your commitment to meet the competency needs of today's Army and total force," wrote Gen. Robert W. Cone, TRADOC commanding general, in the notification letter dated Jan. 23, 2014.

"Achieving an "Institute of Excellence" rating means we have exceeded the TRADOC and proponent standards for training facilities and training delivery," explained Lt. Col. Jimmy Kilbourne, deputy commander for the 183rd RTI. "It also tells other states' training managers that the Virginia RTI is a great place to send their Soldiers who need the type of training we provide."

The accreditation conducted by TRADOC ensures the institution evaluated has the necessary organizational structure, programs and resources to conduct training, the quality and standardization of that training, and that the training meets the needs of the operation force by being current and relevant to operations in a contemporary operation environments while preparing Soldiers for the future.

The 183rd began preparing for the accreditation more than a year in advance.
"We understood from the beginning of the process that achieving the "Institute of Excellence" level of accreditation would be a discriminating factor in maintaining future mission sets, student throughput, staffing levels and funding," said Col. Doug Messner, commander of the 183rd RTI. "Therefore, we began the process early developing a plan 18 months out."

Staff members researched the standards set by TRADOC, visited other Regional Training Institutes to observe the accreditation process and each of the battalions submitted self-assessments. Accreditation teams then conducted several visits to the 183rd RTI, each lasting three to four days and including an in-brief, a review of each standard, student and instructor interviews, facilities inspections and commander leader interviews.

Virginia's RTI is comprised of the RTI Headquarters and three battalions. First Battalion conducts infantry training, including the infantryman military occupational specialty qualification course, Light Leaders Course and rappel master, while 2nd Battalion conducts the 88M Motor Transport Operator Course. Third battalion includes both Officer Candidate School and Warrant Officer Candidate School and also trains Soldiers as military police officers.

"This accreditation cycle marked the first time that the 183rd RTI was evaluated as a Regimental entity," explained Messner." Past accreditations focused on the individual battalion, and while that same level of scrutiny was applied to each battalion, [this time] there was the added dimension of regimental coordination and support."

Different standards are applied to various parts of the RTI, and include a look at the facilities and environment of the schoolhouse, the mission and functions, training resource management, safety, the effectiveness of the staff and faculty, staff development and training support.

There are four levels of accreditation: Institution of Excellence, requiring a 95-100 percent rating that marks the institution as having exceeded TRADOC requirements; Full Accreditation, requiring an 80-94 percent rating that satisfies the TRADOC requirements; Conditional Accreditation, with a 60-79 percent rating and requiring the institution to correct deficiencies and submit a report for approval; and Candidate of Accreditation, with a 0-59 percent rating and the requirement of reevaluation within 12 months.

All three of the battalions earned high marks, with 1st and 3rd Battalions earning 100 percent ratings and 2nd Battalion earning a score of 97 percent.

"While this seems like a long and arduous process, the RTI staff, instructors, officers and NCOs, take tremendous pride in their level of professionalism and ability to excel," Messner said. " This achievement was only made possible because of our Soldiers' ability, knowledge and experience and their commitment to translate accreditation standards into executing our assigned mission of training Soldiers."

Located at Fort Pickett, the 183rd Regional Training Institute includes 74 instructors supported by 32 staff personnel. The schoolhouse was completed in 2011 and includes approximately 400,000 square feet of instruction space, including a combatives training room, eight modular classrooms and a lecture hall capable of accommodating 480 students, along with three barracks with two-person rooms and open bay housing that can accommodate 275 students. At Fort Pickett, instructors and students can reach training sites within five minutes and that includes a variety of ranges, convoy and live fire lanes, an urban assault course, training villages, field training lanes, an air assault tower and an extensive urban training site.

Soldier takes the long way from life in Nigeria to California National Guard

Click photo for screen-resolution imageCalifornia National Guard

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (2/4/14) - The U.S. embassy in Nigeria is more island than institution. Centered in the most exclusive section of Lagos, a booming city in Africa's most populous nation, America's embassy reflects both the affluence and strength one would expect from the world's lone superpower.

To approach the U.S. seal that adorns its entrance is to pass through well-armed guards and manicured lawns. It was here, in 1996, that 25-year-old Wilson Ugah determined he would claim his birthright as a U.S. citizen.

American born, Africa bound
Ugah's initial stay in the United States was short-lived. His father, a Nigerian infantry officer, was training alongside U.S. forces at Fort Benning, Ga., when his wife gave birth to Wilson in 1975. Less than a year later, the Ugah family was back in Africa, where his father wasted no time moving up the ranks of the Nigerian Army.

By 1985, Lt. Col. Ugah was a battalion commander in the nation's northern region. Wilson and the rest of the family enjoyed the relative luxury of a senior officer's quarters, including the security offered by several armed guards throughout the evenings. In the mornings, one armed guard typically remained to keep watch over the Ugah family.

Aug. 27 was strikingly different.

"I woke up that morning... and 15 soldiers showed up," said Ugah, who was then age 10. "I remember that morning Mom was trying to get to the guest house, and the soldiers wouldn't let her leave."

With his father away on duty, Wilson and his family grew restless in the confinement of this unexpected prison, submerged in worry and ignorance. By mid-morning, a helicopter landed carrying Lt. Col.
Ugah, who emerged only long enough to grab his uniform before disappearing for the rest of the day. It wasn't until 6 p.m. that he returned and announced to the family there had been a coup, and he had been ordered by the nation's new regime to stay home until told to do otherwise.

"My younger brother [asked] "What is a coup?'" Ugah remembered. "Everybody was anxious, but the night passed quietly."

It was only in reading the morning newspaper that Lt. Col. Ugah learned he had been forcibly retired. Though bloodless, the coup went a long way in draining life from the 15-year veteran of the Nigerian armed forces.

"He took it pretty hard. He really wasn't himself for years," Ugah said of his father. "He really had no plans for anything outside the military."

Amid his despondency, Wilson's father failed to maintain critical records regarding his travels and family, something that would haunt Wilson upon graduating a Lagos high school in 1996.

"About that time I was deciding what I was going to do," Ugah said, when a family member suggested possibilities open to him, "if I could just get my hands on a U.S. passport."

Carrying only a U.S. birth certificate and the American dream, Ugah approached the U.S. Embassy to seize his birthright. But the gauntlet of guards proved as uncompromising in action as they were in appearance.

"The biggest issue people have at the Embassy is getting by the guys at the gate," Ugah said. "It would take me about two hours to get there, and I would go every day [only to be turned away for lack of identification]. The guard finally got sick of seeing me [after four months of daily attempts] and let me go in."

The obstacles that awaited Ugah inside proved even less forgiving. Every bit the Nigerian in mannerisms and appearance, his American citizenship made for a tough sell to U.S. officials.

"All I have here is a birth certificate and a body, and somehow I have to connect these two together," Ugah remembers being told by a skeptical Embassy official.

Embassy officials handed Ugah a task list that would have defeated a lesser man. They required he secure a new birth certificate from the United States, provide photographs from nearly every stage of his life and present any paperwork that would prove he was indeed the son of the Nigerian infantry officer whose wife gave birth amid the oppressive humidity of the American South.

In 2000 - after three years constructing a paper trail proving he was a son of the States - Ugah was granted a U.S. passport.

New land, familiar calling
With a mere $300 in his pocket but ambition to spare, Ugah hitched himself to a Canadian oilman who had befriended Ugah's mother during business in Nigeria. The family friend was headed to the Western U.S. in September 2000, and he offered his Alta, Calif., cabin to Ugah until he got on his feet in his new homeland. The cabin was so remote that it lacked power, depending only on an unreliable generator.

"I called my brother, who told me they didn't have power [in Nigeria]," Ugah said. "I told him I didn't have power either, and he said "Are you doing drugs, already? It's not possible. You're in the U.S.'"
With a rich heritage of military service coursing through his veins, Ugah almost immediately made his way to the nearest Armed Forces recruiter. He chose the Marine Corps, in large part due to its association with the U.S. Navy.

"For people outside the U.S., the might of the U.S. military comes in the form of the Navy," Ugah said.
That November, Ugah found himself lined up on the infamous yellow footprints at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, where drill instructors promised to transform him into a Marine or die trying. The transformation for Ugah, however, went smoother than for most.

"I had seen things kids didn't experience over here," said Ugah, who suffered intense corporal punishment and hazing at the hands of his peers in Nigeria's British-based boarding schools. "Someone yelling at me [in boot camp] … I wouldn't be afraid."

Though his high aptitude-test scores allowed him to choose any military occupation, Ugah again honored his family heritage by becoming an infantryman. His training took him to Japan, Australia and Hawaii, and it was in Honolulu that his life would be changed forever, along with the rest of America.
"We were off on patrol early in the morning, and the patrols were called back," said Ugah, recalling his training on Sept. 11, 2001. "The officer asked if anyone was from New York, and there was one guy, and he handed him his phone so he could call his family. We had to run back to base because they were locking it down, and we got the full story of what happened. [The 9/11 attacks] were just horrible to watch occur."

Taking up arms
Ugah's immediate response to the attacks, like most patriots, was "Hey, let's go to war." But it would be a few years before his desire to trade blows with insurgents was realized amid the urban chaos of Iraq.
In 2004, Ugah found himself at Camp Snakepit, a company-sized outpost in Ramadi, Iraq, that offered none of the celebrated comforts of the massive U.S. installations that would later populate the country. Instead of Baskin-Robbins and salsa dance nights, the space was filled by "a place to sleep, a place to wash, a toilet, a chow hall - that's all you get," Ugah said.

If war was Ugah's trade of choice, he would soon ply it in earnest. With President George W. Bush's "mission accomplished" declaration and the traditional war behind them, Ugah and the rest of the U.S. forces found themselves in the thick of a maddening insurgency. The Marine battalion his unit replaced had suffered death or injury to about 50 percent of its men during its tour. "Not a friendly crowd," Ugah recalled.

Only one week into his deployment, Ugah found himself rolling down the recently christened Route Michigan in an armored vehicle when "everything just went black." The Marines in the vehicle behind Ugah "swore [my] entire vehicle went up in a ball of flames," he said.

Ugah exited his charred carriage and sized up the scene. Blood-soaked streets, decapitated heads once belonging to insurgents, screaming Marines and enemy fire from all directions made for a sobering crash course in reality. "It was a hell of a welcome."

Though he escaped his initial brush with death, Ugah would soon lose a close friend to combat, repeatedly gain promotions due to others' injuries as much as his own merit and work his way through a number of ambushes and close calls. Still, when Ugah ruminates on his time in Iraq, he betrays an optimism and resilience that his time with the Marines exposed more than forged.

"We were always on the offensive," Ugah said. "We had a few more KIAs, but it ended up being a good deployment. We killed a lot of bad guys. We brought some safety and stability to that place."

A warrior puts down roots
It would soon become evident that Ugah's dogged spirit translated beyond battles with embassy bureaucracies and Iraqi insurgents. Wanting some stability to pursue his education, Ugah became an embassy security guard with the Marines, a gig that begged "full circle."

During an embassy social event in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, a striking "lady in red" made her entrance, snapping the heads of Ugah and other socially starved Marines. Quickly sensing they were out of their league, the other Marines chose to admire from afar. In Ugah's case, however, social challenges triggered his courage as much as Ramadi firefights.

"No one was talking to her, so I did the smart thing and went and talked to her mom," said Ugah, beaming with pride over his innovative approach. "Once the mom introduces you to her daughter, you know you're in."

Ugah's social instincts were keen, as the woman of interest was also the daughter of the embassy's local guard chief, and she was studying to become a physician. It wasn't long before Olga and Wilson fell in love and found themselves married with a child, eager to make their way to the States. The process of gaining entry for Olga left Wilson shaking his head in both delight and disbelief.

"It took her only three days to get an immigrant visa," said Ugah, remembering his three-year ordeal in securing his American birthright.

Once home, Ugah pursued his education in earnest, and soon set his sights on an officer's commission. Too old to become an active duty Marine officer, he learned of the Army National Guard and its diverse commissioning programs. He ultimately separated from the Marines and became a second lieutenant after two months in the accelerated Officer Candidate School.

Bouncing between several lackluster civilian jobs, including a stint as an insurance agent - "Of course, I didn't sell anything, so I didn't get paid" - Ugah finally found full-time work at the state Military Department, where he excels today as the state's ammunition manager.

His aspirations, however, include a position for which he seems ideally suited: liaison officer for the California National Guard in Nigeria, one of two nations (along with Ukraine) with whom the Cal Guard shares a state partnership program.

"It's something I'd really love to do," Ugah said. "I lived there for 25 years, have ties with their military through my family... I understand the people, understand the language, understand the culture."

Despite his international goals and experience - he traveled to more than 30 nations during his time with the Marine Corps - Ugah is quick to affirm that his heart rests with the United States, the nation of his birth.

"I am an American," Ugah said. "It is home."

New York Guard Airmen and Soldiers teaching emergency response to residents

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Drumsta
New York National Guard

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (2/5/14) - New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are on the frontlines in New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's program to help the public prepare for emergencies.

Guard members trained more than 1,200 people on Feb. 1 as the governor's initiative to provide basic disaster response training to 100,000 New Yorkers kicked off at New Dorp High School here and at Farmingdale State College.
A 17-member team of Guard Soldiers and Airmen on state active duty status will deploy across New York to train participants in the Citizens Preparedness Corps Training Program.

Other Guard Soldiers and Airmen will be called upon to help set up and organize other training events across New York, with events already scheduled for Utica and in Rockland County on Feb. 8.

The program aims to give citizens the knowledge and tools to prepare for emergencies and disasters, respond accordingly, and recover as quickly as possible to pre-disaster conditions.

Participants in the two-hour volunteer training sessions also received a backpack full of emergency supplies.

The disaster and emergency response starter kits, also known as a "go-kit," handed out at the events included a first-aid kit, face mask, pocket radio with batteries, food bars, emergency blanket and other key items to help citizens in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

While the National Guard and other first responders play a critical role in New York's response to disasters, the real first responder is every citizen, the governor told participants in the two training sessions.

"The greatest asset is you," Cuomo said. "That is the greatest asset. You are there first. By definition, you are the first responder in your own home. And you are the first responder on your own block, and you can be the first responder for your own neighbor."

The program, designed by the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office of Fire Prevention and Control covers a broad range of emergency preparedness topics, like developing a family emergency plan, stocking up on emergency supplies, and registering for NY-Alert, the free statewide emergency alert system.

People listened closely to the training, and occasionally applauded. Though the program included a short break, the Farmingdale audience encouraged trainer Capt. Rafael Castillo to continue the class without a break, according to trainer Master Sgt. Pete Towse.

It's a great mission and the trainers enjoy the job, Towse said.

Though he felt that the presentation was a bit long, it still had good information and preparedness points, said Staten Island resident Abe Aruch. The information should be taught in schools, he added.
"We take that stuff for granted on a daily basis," he said.

The go-kit is a good starting point for emergency preparedeness, he said.

"You build off of that," Aruch added.

While speaking at each training session, Cuomo announced the launch of a new website,, which serves as the digital home for the Citizen Preparedness Corps community. The website offers information about additional training, disaster preparedness tips, and ways to volunteer in the event of a disaster.

Ensuring that residents are prepared for emergencies is more important than ever, the governor said.
While there were only a handful of federally-declared disasters during his father Mario Cuomo's 12 years as governor from 1982 to 1994, there have been nine in his three years as governor, Cuomo told the Staten Island audience.

In addition to Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 - an event of historic consequence - there have been other unprecedented situations, like earthquakes and flooding, in upstate New York, he stressed.

"This is a much different reality that we're dealing with," he said. "Whatever is happening is generating an extreme weather pattern like we've never seen before. That is a fact. The extreme weather is a fact."
New York is giving residents training and equipment to go with their willingness and desire to be of service, Cuomo said.

"Just showing up for the training says that you are stepping up to be the first to prepare yourself, to prepare your family, and prepare the community for what could happen next," Maj. Gen. Patrick Murphy, the adjutant general of New York, told the Staten Island audience.

Their presence at the event signified their commitment to personal, family and community preparedness, he added.

The go-kits are the starting point for self-emergency preparedness, as is the training, Murphy said. They hope citizens continue to work toward better emergency preparedness, he stressed.

The Staten Island event also attracted professionals involved with disaster relief.

Patricia Benjamin, a project coordinator for Project Hope, was pleased with the event. The Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services runs Project Hope, which helped Superstorm Sandy victims, Benjamin said.

"I was very pleased to hear the information we got," she said. She was especially glad that Cuomo acknowledged Staten Island citizens, who mobilized on their own ahead of first responders, to help their neighbors in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

She also liked the training program and website, which she described as a clearly designed structure of response.

"There's actually something in place for the citizens now," she said. "We have no control over how a disaster will affect us. But we can control our response."

Natural disasters can damage home-utility structures, like natural gas pipes.

The training program shows people how to turn off home-energy systems, but warns them not to attempt to turn them on again until they've been inspected and approved by professionals.

That was one of the most important parts of the program, Benjamin said.

"A lot of people may not know that minor detail, which is actually a major detail that could avert disaster," she stressed.

People and first responders suffer from trauma and emotional exhaustion during disasters, so she was also glad that the training stressed the need to mitigate those psychological effects, Benjamin said.
Susan Miserandino, a senior planning analyst for the utility Con Edison who deals with storm issues, said the training delivered at the Saturday session was very relevant.

The training program will help citizens to be better prepared, she said.

"If not for themselves, for their family members," Miserandino added.

Miserandino is already using the go-kit as a starting point for her own emergency preparedness. In the days following the event, she added rope, garbage bags and latex gloves to the kit, she said.

Though the kit included work gloves, latex gloves allow for more manual dexterity, she explained.
Big weather events are a new thing for New York, and citizens didn't think much about preparing for emergencies before Superstorm Sandy hit, she said.

"We never experienced anything like (Superstorm) Sandy before," Miserandino said. "It's the old adage...nobody thinks it's going to happen to us until it does."

Kentucky National Guard recognized for best emergency management program

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy David Altom
Kentucky National Guard

FRANKFORT, Ky. (2/5/14) - The Kentucky Army National Guard has been recognized for the top Army emergency management operation in the nation, according to a report from the Army National Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The report, which comes five years after the winter storm of 2009, is seen as a benchmark for the Kentucky Guard's readiness to respond to natural disasters and emergencies on the domestic front.

In January of 2009 more than 100 counties declared states of emergency, necessitating the mobilization of the entire Kentucky National Guard. More than 4,000 troops were deployed across the state, delivering water, food and fuel during freezing temperatures and hazardous conditions. Guard members also conducted door-to-door wellness checks to ensure the safety and welfare of local citizens.

"This is good feedback that we're doing the right thing," said Warrant Officer Charlie Harris, an emergency management coordinator for the Kentucky Guard. "We've worked hard to make sure that the Guard can respond effectively and efficiently in a time of crisis."

"We have to take care of ourselves so we can take of our communities. The winter storm of 2009 was a wakeup call in that regard," Harris said.

By regulation, the Army Emergency Management Program "serves as the single integrated emergency management program for the planning, execution, and management of response efforts ... to mitigate the effects of an all-hazard incident, to include but not limited to, natural, manmade, and technological disasters, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) incidents and accidents on or affecting Army installations, facilities, and/or activities...."

In other words, if there's trouble, the Kentucky National Guard has to be ready to respond. This means Guard facilities must have plans and redundancies in place to minimalize the effects of a disaster or incident, allowing the troops to focus on the local community instead of itself. For example, armory generators have to be ready to go and vehicles pre-placed for rapid deployment when needed. This in addition to training Soldiers on what they are expected to do.

"We have the plans in place, we conduct our exercises, and we're able to get back to those mission essential items as soon as possible because people are depending on us," said Harris. "Our program is so good other states are asking for help. And we're helping them. "This is something we take very seriously."

Alaska Air Guardsmen rescue injured snowmachiner

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy Sgt. Balinda O’Neal
Alaska National Guard

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (2/5/14) - Airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard's 210th, 211th, and 212th Rescue Squadrons medevaced a 25-year-old man from Stoney River Lodge, 35 miles northwest of Sparrevohn, who was injured while snow-machining Feb. 3

The 11th Air Force Rescue Coordination Center was notified at 5 p.m. Monday by the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation in Bethel after the man was found alone and unconscious near the Stoney River Lodge.

According to the RCC, the Alaska State Troopers and LifeMed were unable to execute the mission due to the lodge being out of range for a helicopter and having no landing strip for fixed wing aircraft.
The Alaska National Guard responded by launching an HC-130 King aircraft from the 211th Rescue Squadron and an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th Rescue Squadron, each with a team of Guardian Angels rescue personnel from the 212th Rescue Squadron, from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

"The HC-130 King aircraft arrived on scene before the HH-60 Pave Hawk," said Lt. Col. John Morse, deputy director for the 11th Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, Alaska Air National Guard. "The helicopter fought through weather through the passes and attempted several routes before finally getting through."

Guardian Angels and extra medical kits were airdropped from the HC-130 on scene to provide immediate care.

The man, who suffered from a head injury, was stabilized and loaded onto the helicopter before being transported and arriving at an Anchorage area hospital at 10:30 p.m.

"The lodge owner was prepared for the helicopter by providing a lighted landing zone and accurate information pertaining to the on-scene weather conditions, while remaining cool and collected," said Morse. "Remote lodges need to be able to self-rescue and simultaneously be prepared for outside help. They need to be able to contact AST, medical facilities, or the RCC."

The members of the 210th, 211th, and 212th Rescue Squadrons were awarded with one save for the mission.

It was the second rescue since Sunday of a snowmachine operator. On Sunday, crews saved a 32-year-old man who had broken his leg and injured a knee, according to an Alaska National Guard statement.

USS Green Bay to Replace USS Denver in Japan

From U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy announced today plans to send one of its newest amphibious transport dock ships to Sasebo, Japan, demonstrating the United States' commitment to the defense of Japan and the security and stability of the vital Asia-Pacific.

The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) will join U.S. 7th Fleet in February 2015. She will replace the Austin-class USS Denver (LPD 9), which is the Navy's oldest ship on active duty next the USS Constitution, serving since 1968.

Green Bay is a member of the latest amphibious transport dock (LPD) class and represents a significant improvement in capability for the fleet. She is equipped with an advanced command and control suite; increased lift capacity with substantial increases in vehicle and cargo carrying capability; and advanced ship survivability features. The ship supports the rapid transfer of personnel and equipment via the landing craft and MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, making this ship a critical element for amphibious ready groups and expeditionary strike groups.

Denver will prepare for decommissioning and transit to Pearl Harbor in the summer of 2014 for final decommissioning in September 2014.

The amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5), homeported in San Diego, will proceed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility to mitigate the gap in amphibious presence until Green Bay's arrival.

This ship rotation does not necessitate any changes to base facilities in either San Diego, Sasebo, or Pearl Harbor.

The United States values Japan's contributions to the peace, security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific and its long-term commitment and hospitality in hosting U.S. forces forward deployed there. These forces, along with their counterparts in the Japan Self-Defense Forces, make up the core capabilities needed by the alliance to meet our common strategic objectives.

Navy to Replace Forward Deployed Mine Countermeasures Ships in Japan

From U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy announced today that newer, more capable mine countermeasure ships will forward deploy to Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan, to become part of the U.S. Navy's Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF).

The Avenger-class mine countermeasure ships USS Pioneer (MCM 9) and USS Chief (MCM 14) will report to the U.S. 7th Fleet as part of the FDNF in Sasebo in May 2014. They will respectively replace the mine countermeasure ships USS Avenger (MCM 1) and USS Defender (MCM 2), which have both faithfully served in the FDNF since 2009.

Pioneer and Chief collectively represent a significant improvement in capability for the FDNF. Avenger and Defender will both prepare for decommissioning and eventually be heavy-lifted back to their homeport of San Diego in June 2014. Pioneer and Chief are expected to arrive in Sasebo in the May 2014 timeframe.

Avenger is the first of the Navy's Avenger class of mine countermeasures ships. Built by Peterson Builders Inc., in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., she was christened by Mrs. Sybill Stockdale on June 15, 1985 and placed in active service on Sept. 12, 1987.

Defender is the second Avenger class mine countermeasures ship and the first United States Navy ship to bear that name. The keel was laid down by Marinette Marine Corp. in Marinette, Wis., on Dec. 1, 1983. She was christened and launched on April 4, 1987 and commissioned on Sept. 30, 1989.

The two ships will have faithfully served the U.S. Navy for a combined 52 years.

These hull swaps will not necessitate any changes to base facilities in Sasebo or San Diego.

The United States values Japan's contributions to the peace, security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific and its long-term commitment and hospitality in hosting U.S. forces forward deployed there. These forces, along with their counterparts in the Japan Self-Defense Forces, make up the core capabilities needed by the alliance to meet our common strategic objectives.

This hull swap is called an Overseas Force Structure Change and is part of the Navy's long-range FDNF strategy to rotate newer and more capable units forward. Maintaining an FDNF capability supports the United States' commitment to the defense of Japan and the security and stability of the vital Indo-Asia-Pacific.

33rd Helicopter Maintenance Unit inspects, installs during exercise

by Airman 1st Class Keith James
18th Wing Public Affairs

1/30/2014 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- "Alarm Red, MOPP 4, alarm red MOPP 4," booms from a loud voice system across the base here, during a Mission Focused Exercise Jan. 29.

It is one of many familiar sounds heard throughout a 33rd Helicopter Maintenance Unit hangar, alerting the Airmen of an attack happening on the installation -- directing specific mission-oriented protective posture measures to be taken.

These Airmen are responsible for ensuring the HH-60G Pave Hawk stays mission ready and continues to conduct its day or night search and rescue mission, even during exercises.

"Same mission, same priorities, same need for the helicopter to do its job," said Staff Sgt. Russell Lende, 33rd HMU HH-60G Pave Hawk crew chief. "(Making sure) it's reliable and is always ready to fly when needed or called upon."

During exercises they are challenged with donning chemical gear, conducting post attack reconnaissance sweeps and fortifying their buildings; all seemingly difficult elements which restrict and limit their capabilities are made possible through using teamwork and resiliency.

"Working on the aircraft in (Mission Oriented Protective Posture) gear restricts mobility and slows the maintenance process of the aircraft," Lende said.

Working 12-hour shifts with split manning between days and nights, the members of the 33rd HMU understand the helicopters' role here at the 18th Wing and the huge need to keep these aircraft prepped and ready to go.

"It comes down to the nuts and bolts," Lende said. "We make sure the aircraft stays in top flight condition."

Exercises test the Airmen's ability to survive and operate in many situations while tasking them to perform their job. For many new Airmen, these exercises are their first chance to experience war-like situations in a safe environment.

"It was my first time participating in a simulated chemical exercise," said Senior Airman Joshua Whiting, 33rd HMU communications and navigation system technician, about the MFE. "It helps prepare me for future war-time contingency operations."

According to Lende, the best part of being an HMU maintainer is knowning what the HH-60 is capable of and the thrill of keeping it up in the air.

Regardless of the countless situations these HMU Airmen face, they ensure the 33rd Rescue Squadron can fly, fight and win.

USAF Expeditionary Center Looks Ahead

by Maj Gen Rick Martin
Commander, USAF Expeditionary Center

2/4/2014 - Spring 2014 -- Since my assumption of command in early September, I've had the opportunity to engage over the first 100 days with many amazing units and Airmen who work within the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center (EC) enterprise. I've been witness to excellent trust, competence, and responsiveness--values I hold very dear. As I settled back in at the EC headquarters in New Jersey after much travel, I reflected upon the uniqueness of our mission.

Our mission, under the EC, is to deliver "Airpower ... from the ground up!" Almost 20 years ago, the Air Mobility Warfare Center opened its doors to deliver this same mission. Since then, EC Airmen have been part of a proud airpower heritage, a heritage that has carried us into a matured mobility and expeditionary enterprise. The members who work within the EC have operated across generations of war fighting and mobility missions--proving to be the best at what they do and truly maximizing each other's capacity. In the past year, we've faced a multitude of challenges: reductions in funding, manpower shortages, and a wide array of contingencies spanning all corners of the globe.

Despite these considerable challenges, the resolve of EC Airmen has not wavered. These AMC warriors have triumphed in the face of difficulty and overcome situations that would have broken the Air Force of a lesser nation. I believe the EC to be the center of gravity for all Air Force boots-on-ground operations. We are proud Airmen who fight this nation's wars and contribute to our nation's ability to fly, fight, and win through our ground-based efforts. We not only augment the fight or the response, but we also accelerate it through the expeditionary enterprise of the Air Force. In short, we prepare and send Airmen anywhere their skills are needed, including into harm's way.

Those who go forward must be properly trained, maximizing the odds of mission success and minimizing risk of injury to themselves or friendly forces. It is here at the EC that we prepare Airmen to answer the call anytime and anywhere. Joint partners and a number of worldwide customers rely on our trained Airmen to push forward their missions. Finally, it is here that we proudly shape global response with a tremendous commitment to responsiveness.

The depth and scope of our Expeditionary Center mission is enormous. Our 14,000 Airmen located throughout the globe are masters of their craft, expertly providing installation support, contingency response, en route mobility mission acceleration, and training while building partnership capacity. Furthermore, we thrive in the joint environment. While the Navy covers the sea domain and the Army operates in the land domain, it is the speed, range, and flexibility of the Air Force that makes airpower essential to a global joint team.

Our vision drives us to deliver world class support fueled by innovative Airmen. Fiscal constraints will continue to force us to develop new and innovative ways to safely complete the mission. We must communicate across the command to build our intellectual capacity and prevent stovepipes in processes and procedures. This will enable us to meet the increasing challenges and contingencies around the globe and allow us to provide the same world-class support. All of this is fueled by Airmen at all levels--each making a difference! I remain extremely proud of the hard work the EC has accomplished over the past year, and I look forward to further increasing our capabilities and strengthening our partnerships in the year ahead.

Press Secretary: Ethical Lapses Have Hagel’s Full Attention

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2014 – Cheating on proficiency tests at an Air Force missile base and at the Navy’s nuclear propulsion school have Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel concerned that systemic issues may be threatening the health of the force and they have his full attention, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.

"He is concerned about the health of the force and the health of the strong culture of accountability and responsibility that Americans have come to expect from their military," Kirby told Pentagon reporters.

Surveys have shown that the military is among the most respected professions in the United States, and these ethical lapses work against that perception. In his weekly meeting with the service secretaries and service chiefs, the secretary told them that ethical behavior will be on the agenda for these meetings from now on, Kirby said. The secretary believes military and Defense Department leaders must take a step back and put renewed emphasis on developing moral character and courage in the force, he added.

Hagel gave the service leaders those marching orders just days after Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James reported systemic problems with ICBM launch officers, Kirby said, but before the Navy reported instances of cheating on tests at the Navy Nuclear Propulsion School in Charleston, S.C.

Senior defense leaders have begun work on a plan to fix any systemic issues, the press secretary said. A group co-chaired by officials from the Joint Staff and the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy is set to deliver a report to Hagel within 60 days. "He has made it clear he would certainly welcome the work sooner than that," Kirby said.

In addition, Hagel has asked retired Air Force Gen. Larry Welch and retired Navy Adm. John Harvey to lead an independent review of the military’s nuclear enterprise. "They will offer their views on the quality and effectiveness of the action plan, and they will also provide their insights and recommendations on addressing any systemic personnel problems," the admiral said.

Hagel is concerned about what he doesn't know about the problem, Kirby added.

“What worries the secretary,[is] that maybe he doesn't have the full grasp of the depth of the issue. And he wants to better understand it and to the degree that there are systemic issues, he wants to attack them."

Kirby gave reporters a shorthand definition for what moral courage and moral character mean in the military. "That's doing the right thing when nobody is looking," he said. "That's treating people the right way even when they can't do anything for you. It's about the basic ideas of strapping on this uniform every day. And it's what, frankly, keeps a lot of us in."