Military News

Saturday, February 08, 2014

‘Great deal of symmetry’ between AF, national commission recommendations



By Jennifer Cassidy, Secretary of the Air Force / Published February 07, 2014

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The national commission which was created to examine how to modify the Air Force's structure to best fill current and future mission requirements, presented its recommendations during two public meetings on Capitol Hill here Jan. 30.

The National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force was established by Congress in 2013 to comprehensively study the Air Force and its three components.

The commission’s report, which was due to the president and Congress Feb. 1, included findings and conclusions, as well as recommendations for administrative actions and legislation that may be required.

"Going forward, there's no doubt in my mind that our Air Force is going to rely more, not less, on our National Guard and Reserve forces," said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. "This makes sense from not only from a mission standpoint, but from an economic standpoint. I think there will be a great deal of symmetry between many of the recommendations from the commission and what the Air Force proposes for its way ahead. Our thanks go to the commissioners for their report, which will help inform us in the future."

The Air Force conducted its own total force review, led by three major generals from the active-duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve components of the service, deemed the Total Force Task Force, or TF2.  To continue TF2’s work and make it part of the permanent staff, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh directed the stand up of a transitional organization, the Total Force Continuum, or TF-C, in October. The TF-C analysis will help guide the service's proposed fiscal 2016 budget.

While considering recent lessons learned and existing fiscal realities, Air Force officials are already taking steps to increase integration while preserving capability and capacity across all three components, James said.

“Current plans call for more collaboration and cooperation among the components in the years to come; working on these relationships and seeing real improvements so that these cross-component efforts become second nature and not the exception,” James said.

First, the Air Force will work on a continuum of service initiatives, to include improving personnel systems and processes to better serve Airmen and leaders. This also includes efforts to keep the best Airmen in our service by recruiting them for the Guard and Reserve, James said.

Second, the Air Force is pursuing ways to improve collaboration between component commands. This will include staff integration efforts to ensure appropriate representation and to improve understanding of each component’s strengths and core identities.

“We must also identify ways for headquarters elements to integrate efficiently and creatively,” James said.

Third, the service will continue to examine total force associations, which make the service more efficient by sharing resources and reducing duplication of effort. They also increase capability, while at the same time preserving a corporate body of knowledge, she explained.

“Highly experienced Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard members allow us to retain valuable experience in the force and capitalize on the talents of part-time citizen Airmen, and help season junior, regular Air Force members," she said.  "Associations have been a great success story for the Air Force overall. So it’s important to capture lessons learned from our experience at the 120 current Air Force total force associations and apply them to future associations with the F-35 Lightning II and KC-46 Tanker.”

James also emphasized that developing the fiscal 2015 budget proposal was a collaborative effort between active-duty, Reserve and Guard leaders, with an aim to preserve combat capability and stability for the total force.

“The upcoming budget submission will rely heavily on the Guard and Reserve -- more than what we do today,” James said. This approach looks at how to use the Guard and Reserve components more effectively.

“I’m a true believer in the Total Force Air Force that former Air Force senior leaders created," said Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke, the Air National Guard director. "We will continue to adapt as one Air Force that provides the best value for America. The Air National Guard is committed to continuing to work closely with the regular Air Force and the Air Force Reserve to review requests and direction from Congress, when received. We all share the common goal of ensuring we have the best Air Force now and into the future.”

Although no component is totally sheltered from reductions, the reserve components will be relied upon more in the future for the success of the overall mission,  with particular emphasis in the areas of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and cyber, James said.

"Today's debate should be centered on how to best capitalize on our strengths and core competencies to improve the Total Force team,” said Lt. Gen. James Jackson, the chief of Air Force Reserve and Air Force Reserve Command commander.  “We're optimistic about the future, and we're working hard to shape the Air Force for the future fight in 2023.”

Hagel recognizes DOD agencies for audit progress



By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service / Published February 07, 2014 

WASHINGTON (AFNS) --  A clean audit is the Holy Grail of U.S. military financial goals.

Generations of defense secretaries have pushed an unwieldy and confusing financial system closer to a clean audit, and Feb. 6 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recognized Department of Defense organizations that are at the forefront of this charge.

The Marine Corps and nine other defense agencies are leading the Defense Department in this effort. The Corps is the first military service to clear a financial audit; the other services expect to clear this hurdle later this year.

The goal is for all of DOD to be fully audit ready in 2017.

"The Air Force remains committed to financial improvement and audit readiness," said Doug Bennett, the deputy assistant secretary for financial operations with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Financial Management and Comptroller, here. "In the last 12 months, we have overcome challenges arising from a lengthy contract protest, sequestration and the government shutdown. While each of these events has created schedule delays, we have made significant progress and are regaining momentum. We plan to achieve audit readiness and excellence in financial management by focusing on processes, people and systems, and we're on the path to achieving audit readiness of all of our financial statements by 2017."

The ceremony recognizing the organizations was held in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes.

"I know it might seem a bit unusual to be in the Hall of Heroes to honor a bookkeeping accomplishment, but damn, this is an accomplishment and I think it deserves a Hall of Heroes recognition," Hagel said.

The secretary specifically thanked Robert F. Hale, the DOD’s comptroller, for his work in making this happen. Hale is retiring later this year.

While Air Force officials are working to reduce budget concerns, the way to savings for the Marines was tough. The service consolidated 790 financial processes into 59, officials said. It linked previously "siloed" systems to trace transactions from start to finish. And it has done all of this while fighting two of America's longest wars.

Hagel reiterated that a clean audit is one of his priorities.

"We're not where we need to be yet, but we've come a long way," the secretary said.

The accomplishment does not grab headlines, Hagel acknowledged, "but it makes a huge, huge difference in everything we do," he said.

Audits ensure that taxpayers are getting what they invest in, and also reassure Congress.

"You don't invest in anything without some accountability, some audit, and we're no different," Hagel said. "For us to do our jobs better, we need to know what we're doing and how we're doing it. And that's what audits do for an institution."

The secretary also commended the following agencies for their audit work:

-- The Defense Finance and Accounting Service;

-- The Defense Contract Audit Agency;

-- The Defense Health Agency - Contract Resources Management;

-- The Medicare-Eligible Retiree Health Care Fund;

-- The Military Retirement Fund;

-- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Civil Works;

-- The DoD Inspector General;

-- The Defense Commissary Agency; and

-- The Defense Information Systems Agency.


Hagel, Foreign Minister Discuss U.S.-Japan Alliance



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met at the Pentagon yesterday to discuss ways to deepen and enhance bilateral cooperation, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, Kirby said Hagel expressed appreciation for the Japanese government's efforts in moving forward on the replacement facility for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma at Camp Schwab-Henoko Bay on the island of Okinawa.

“The two nations are committed to working together to reduce the impact of training on Okinawans,” he added.

Hagel also endorsed a forward-looking revision of the 1997 Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation to enable Japan to play a more active role in promoting regional peace and stability, the press secretary said.

“Secretary Hagel said the United States would continue to cooperate closely with Japan on strengthening and broadening the alliance to meet the security challenges of the 21st century,” Kirby said.

Face of Defense: Band Member Entertains at Home, Defends Abroad



By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jonathan Boynes
1st Marine Division

ESCONDIDO, Calif., Feb. 7, 2014 – The lights in the auditorium began to dim until the low mumbles of the audience ceased. The large red curtain on stage rose slowly, revealing dozens of Marines in their dress-blue uniforms, instruments in hand.

Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Tracy Martinez, the 1st Marine Division band conductor, stood in front of the band at the 73rd anniversary concert at Escondido, Calif., Jan. 31. He led the band through each song, ensuring that the sound flowed with swift precision.

Martinez, a native of Newbury Park, Calif., is responsible for much more than turning the spirit of the Marine Corps into music. He is a professional warrior first, always prepared to answer the call of his nation.

“I deployed to Iraq with the band in 2003 and was part of a heavy machine gun platoon,” Martinez said. “The band’s job is to entertain people, but the Marine Corps’ job is to protect the nation. The band shares that goal, too.”

Martinez emphasizes the band’s importance of contributing to the Marines not only through musical gifts, but also through physical training and discipline. The band members constantly train, whether it’s qualifying at the rifle range or running fitness tests. They are held to the same standards that make Marines the nation’s force in readiness.

“A lot of people separate the band from the rest of the Marine Corps and put us in a different category,” Martinez said. “The band is full of regular Marines and has some of the most qualified in the Marine Corps.”

Martinez, who earned a master’s degree in music education from Boston University, said he didn’t join the Marine Corps with intentions of joining the band. But after his recruiter discovered that he was a skilled saxophone player, Martinez auditioned for the spot and eventually changed his contract.

Almost two decades later, Martinez has held a variety of positions in the band, from saxophone instrumentalist to instrument repair technician and now as conductor.

“Gunnery Sergeant Martinez is a great conductor and a professional with an extensive history with music and the Marine Corps,” said Lance Cpl. Gregg Alvarez, a trumpet instrumentalist with 1st Marine Division Band. “He holds himself to a high standard and makes sure we all do the same.”

Martinez practices for hours each day, both individually and with the band. Being musically proficient and performing hundreds of times a year is only half his job, he said, but he knows he must be ready to deploy into a combat zone.

“Deploying as a band member is unique, because we put our instruments down and everything else we train to do comes into play,” Martinez said. “The band is full of fantastic musicians, but more importantly, it’s full of fantastic Marines.”

65 ABW events focus on spirituality, Comprehensive Airman Fitness

by Staff Sgt. Angelique N. Smythe
65th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


2/7/2014 - LAJES FIELD, Azores -- Military life brings many challenges. Sometimes it gets really tough, and trials become overwhelming. How do you respond as an individual, a couple or a family when the wind knocks you off your feet, and life delivers an unseen blow?

The Lajes Field Chapel presented two seminars and a luncheon Feb. 4 through 6 to help Airmen strengthen their resiliency and spirituality, one pillar of Comprehensive Airman Fitness.

One seminar, Marriage Ready, a spiritual-based seminar for both singles and couples of all faiths, was Feb. 4, focusing on spirituality. The second seminar, Fireproof Your Marriage, was a Christian-based religious program held Feb. 6.

Guest speakers of the week's events were U.S. Army Col. (ret.) Keith Morgan and his wife, Sharon, who visit military bases in efforts to help build resiliency within military ready families.

On Feb. 5 two hundred Lajes members attended the National Prayer Luncheon to pray for the base, community and government, as well as listen to the guest speaker highlight the importance of spirituality.

"The Air Force recognizes we are spiritual beings and these events presented tools to increase spiritual awareness within ourselves," said Chaplain (Capt.) Sean Knox, 65th Air Base Wing Chapel. "To ignore any one pillar of the Comprehensive Airman Fitness would be to ignore part of who you are."

Comprehensive Airman Fitness is an Air Force-wide initiative based on improving Airman readiness by solidifying the mental, physical, social and spiritual pillars.

Many denominations were recognized during the National Prayer Luncheon, which is normally observed the second Thursday of each February. This tradition was initiated in 1953 when former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower joined members of the government together to pray for the country.

"Since then, there has been a National Prayer Breakfast or a National Prayer Lunch in military chapels all around the world," said Knox, a Catholic chaplain and the 65th ABW National Prayer Luncheon organizer. "These programs are important for all Airmen as people come to pray together in a non-denominational way and bring their petitions to whatever god they believe in."

Air National Guard Readiness Center recognizes top performers

by Senior Master Sgt. Jerry R. Bynum
Air National Guard Readiness Center Public Affairs


2/7/2014 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- The Air National Guard Readiness Center recognized the outstanding work and accomplishments of the ANGRC's top performers during the ANGRC 4th Quarter Awards Ceremony and Commander's Call Thursday at the ANGRC here.

The ceremony was hosted by Air Force Brig. Gen. R. Scott Williams, the commander of the ANGRC, and focused on the accomplishments of the ANGRC staff.

"This [ANGRC] team continues to prove their dedication to our county by leaning forward and getting the mission done," said Williams.

The top performers for the 4th quarter were:
  • Civilian of the Quarter Category 1, Sharnea Craig-Woods, Logistics
  • Civilian of the Quarter Category 2, Judy G. Rodgers, Operational Support and Compliance
  • Civilian of the Quarter Category 3, Cathy S. Rico, Air, Space and Information Operations
  • Airman of the Quarter, Senior Airman Hailey C. Breen, Air Surgeon
  • Non-Commissioned Officer of the Quarter, Tech. Sgt. Daniela W. Ricci, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance
  • Senior NCO of the Quarter, Master Sgt. Jamel L. Forte, Logistics
  • Company Grade Officer of the Quarter, Capt. Thomas B. Billingsley, Commander's Action Team
  • Field Grade Officer of the Quarter, Maj. James W. Hudson, Air, Space and Information Operations
Three other members also received recognition. The Command Chief for the ANGRC, Chief Master Sgt. Tony L. Whitehead, Maj. Dianna M. Lebedev, and Master Sgt. Karen A. Marshall received the Meritorious Service Medal.
Whitehead received the MSM, first Oak Leaf Cluster, for his work as the Air National Guard Security Forces Division Career Field Manager from May 16, 2010, to May 5, 2013. Some of his accomplishments included oversight and deployment of more than 4,800 Security Forces members in support various combat operations around the world.

Lebedev received the MSM, first Oak Leaf Cluster, because of her work as the Information Operations Area Functional Manager in the Air, Space and Information Operations Directorate from Oct. 1, 2011, to Aug. 4, 2014, developing the first ever ANG standardized cyber red team to perform a unique operational mission covered by no other source.

Marshall worked as the ANG Recruiting and Retention Creative Advisor from Oct. 1, 2009 to July 31, 2012. She received the MSM for her work creating the first complete return on investment for the military marketing program. This enabled investments to be compared with industry standards, creating a transparent $18 million program.

"My hat is off to each and every one of you," Williams said. "Thank you for all your great work."

Williams took time during the ceremony to discuss the successes of the ANG during 2013 and how those successes were made possible by the groundwork laid at the ANGRC.

"We laid the groundwork in 2013 by improving combat readiness and meeting our end strength in an environment of government shutdown, furloughs and groundings," said Williams. "Amazing ... we saw the benefits of staying focused on our goals. Let's look forward to impact we can have for 2014."

NSA Bahrain hosts 21st Century Sailor All-Hands Call



By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mike Wright, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs

NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY, Bahrain (NNS) -- The director of 21st Century Sailor Office held all-hands calls with Sailors and Marines aboard Naval Support Activity Bahrain, Feb. 6.

Rear Adm. Sean Buck spoke about topics ranging from suicide prevention to fitness during four separate sessions held for E-6 and below, E-7 and above, one for the Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD), and one for Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARCs) and Victim Advocates (VAs).

Buck said two of his main objectives are to provide Sailors with an update on how the Navy is doing in reducing destructive behaviors that his office oversees and to solicit feedback from Sailors.

"It's one thing for me to perceive how the Navy is doing; it's another thing to listen to you all and see what you are thinking out in the fleet," he said. "The most important thing I can do is to come here and listen to you."

Buck led his discussions by talking about resiliency.

"Resiliency is our total health," he said. "It's all aspects of our well-being; our mental health, our physical health, our spiritual health and our social health."

Buck said there are a lot of things that impact resiliency and eventually break down Sailors to the point where they are not operating at their full potential. He said 10 to 11 straight years of combat, fighting two wars and family separation have had the biggest impact on resiliency for the Navy.

"All of that begins to break us and our families down," he said. "Then we are not as safe as we can be, and we are not as mission effective as we need to be to always fight the fight that wins the fight. That's what our Navy and our nation needs us to do."

He also addressed destructive behaviors and their impact on mission readiness. He spoke about suicide, sexual assault and alcohol and substance abuse in the Navy. He said alcohol related incidents (ARI) are the underlying cause of most destructive behavior.

"I'm convinced that if we reduce ARIs, we will have a significant impact on reducing all the other destructive behavior," said Buck. "As I look at all the statistics, 70 percent of all sexual assaults are associated with alcohol use. Alcohol related incidents are probably one of the easiest things we can tackle."

Buck focused his question and answer sessions on hearing feedback directly from the Sailors he serves. Topics ranged from input on ways to better communicate with Sailors through social media venues, to ways to improve training that Sailors find to be redundant.

NSA Bahrain CSADD President, Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Harold Howard, said he enjoyed the open discussion with the admiral.

"The fact that Rear Adm. Buck came out here and asked us what we think, is a really good thing," said Howard. "It says a lot for someone of his rank to come out and speak to us. You never really know what Sailors are thinking until you ask them directly. Having open discussions with groups turns out even better because everyone will be willing to join the conversation."

The 21st Century Sailor office is responsible for total Sailor fitness, resilience and readiness. The office is also the Navy lead on suicide prevention, sexual assault prevention and response, hazing prevention, fitness and nutrition, personal and family readiness, and the "Keep What
You've Earned" campaign.

NAVCENT is responsible for approximately 2.5 million square miles of area including the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea. NAVCENT's mission is to conduct maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts, and strengthen partner nations' maritime capabilities in order to promote security and stability in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

For more information on 21st Century Sailor and Marine, visit www.21stcentury.navy.mil.