Wednesday, February 12, 2014

McRaven: People, Technology, Partners are Socom Priorities

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2014 – At U.S. Special Operations Command, taking care of special operators and their families, using technology to increase the safety of exacting special ops, and expanding partnerships of all kinds worldwide are priorities, the Socom commander said here yesterday.

In his morning keynote address at the National Defense Industrial Association’s 25th Annual Special Operations/Low-intensity Conflict Symposium, Navy Adm. William H. McRaven described recent efforts on behalf of what he called “the finest special operations forces in the world.”

At Socom, he said, “we have spent the last year knitting together this incredible expanse of [special operations forces] talent into the global SOF network. We instituted a disciplined battle rhythm, [and] video teleconferences that allow me as the commander … to talk to senior leaders and [noncommissioned officers] around the world every week to ensure they are getting what they need to do the mission.”

McRaven said Socom is bringing more allies into headquarters, expanding its U.S. liaison efforts overseas, realigning special operations talent to Theater Special Operations Command and redistributing manpower from the Iraq war and the drawdown in Afghanistan.

“Most importantly,” the commander added, “we continue to work with the geographic combatant commanders to ensure Socom is providing the best trained and equipped SOF operators to meet the needs of the region.”

Socom’s No. 1 warfighting priority is and will remain Afghanistan, McRaven said, noting that he sees progress each time he returns to the country thanks to the work of U.S. service members, the International Security Assistance Force and partnership with the Afghan security forces.

“Afghan security forces are good, and thanks to our SOF investment, they are getting better,” he added.

Afghan soldiers and police now protect their fellow Afghans, and local police are the first layer of defense against the insurgency, especially in rural and remote areas, McRaven said.

“No matter the size of our presence there next year,” he added, “our future [military-to-military] engagements with the Afghans will remain vital in the region.”

Because of lessons learned in Afghanistan, some of them learned the hard way, the commander said, Socom established a program called the Tactical Assault Light Operator-Shooter, or TALOS, program, sometimes called “the Iron Man suit.”

The TALOS program is a collaboration of efforts, he said, involving 56 corporations, 16 government agencies, 13 universities and 10 national laboratories. The goal is to give operators lighter, more efficient full-body ballistics protection and beyond-human strength. Embedded antennas and computers will provide user-friendly, real-time battlefield information.

Integrated heaters and coolers will regulate the suit’s temperature and embedded sensors will monitor the operator’s core body temperature, skin temperature, heart rate, body position and hydration levels.

If an operator is wounded, the suit’s final version may be able to administer the first oxygen or hemorrhage controls.

“The TALOS project is leveraging the expertise of leading minds throughout the country to redefine the state of the art in survivability and operator capability,” McRaven explained. “We're already seeing astounding results.”

Three prototype suits are being assembled, and in June will be delivered to Socom. They will be rigorously evaluated to produce a deployable combat suit in August 2018.

The TALOS team also will host a Monster Garage-type event to pair the creativity and ingenuity of local garage tinkerers with the expertise of professional engineers, designers and craftsmen to build components for the suit, potentially even a complete suit, in a collaborative environment, the admiral added.

“This unique collaboration effort is the future of how we should do business,” McRaven said. “If we do TALOS right, it will be a huge comparative advantage over our enemies and give warriors the protection they need in a very demanding environment.”

Because he sees education as a critical factor in producing the nation’s finest special operations warrior, McRaven said, in the past year he approved a plan for the Joint Special Operations University to become what he called “the internationally recognized, regionally accredited, degree-producing SOF university that our special operations forces deserve.”

Much of the advanced education will help operators become regional experts, he said.

“If we want to be value-added to the regional combatant commanders, SOF operators require the ability to think, assess and rapidly respond at the tactical level while always considering the strategic implications,” McRaven said. Such operators need more language training and an understanding of the historical, political, sociological, economic and geographic underpinnings of the region, he added.

And because the forces rely heavily on noncommissioned officers, Socom is developing a world-class NCO education program. The Joint SOF Senior Enlisted Academy has been online for two years, with a resident and nonresident professional military education program for senior NCOs, McRaven noted.

“Ultimately, however, the future of SOF lies in how well we take care of our men and women and their families who have shouldered the burden of 13 years of sustained combat,” the commander said.

On Feb. 21, McRaven said he will sign a memorandum of agreement with the Agriculture Department that will enable Socom to access more than 100 land-grant universities to conduct research and implement programs to support and promote the well-being and resilience of U.S. Socom service members and their families.

“The recent passing of the 2014 [National Defense Authorization Act] gives the Socom commander authority to use SOF funds to support family programs,” the commander said.

The three-year pilot program authorizes Socom to use up to $5 million a year to supplement service-provided programs or develop innovative programs that meet family needs, he said, adding that the focus will be on building and maintaining resilient, fully functioning families.

Socom also is working to increase the predictability of its deployments and standardize the time a service member is deployed, he said.

For special ops warriors who are wounded, injured or ill, McRaven called the Socom Care Coalition a gold standard in nonmedical care. The program supports the entire family, and the advocacy is for life, according to the coalition’s website.

“The Socom Care Coalition serves a multitude of roles,” McRaven said, “acting as advocates and liaisons, connecting service members and families with charitable organizations and or federal entities to fill gaps the government traditionally does not fill.”

Socom’s future is full of challenges and opportunities, the admiral said, and the world is a difficult place where a handful of men and women of talent, character and commitment can make a huge difference.

“On any given day in the special operations community, over 10,000 of America's finest soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and DOD civilians are engaged in more than 70 countries around the globe, supporting the geographic combatant commanders and the chiefs of mission,” McRaven said.

“If we continue to carefully select our warriors, train them to the highest standard, equip them with the finest tools and demand the best from them,” he added, “then wherever they go they will be a tremendous resource for our policymakers, our diplomats, our geographic combatant commanders and our nation.

AF announces 'pro-gear' policy change

by Joel Fortner
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

2/12/2014 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force officials recently announced changes to the Department of Defense's policy on transporting member's professional books, papers and equipment, or PBP&E, shipped in household goods during permanent change of station moves.

Known as "pro-gear," the new PBP&E policy will impact orders issued on or after May 1.

At that time, PBP&E will be limited to a maximum of 2,000 pounds, and will include items in a member's possession needed for the performance of official duties at the next assignment. Those items include instruments, tools, and equipment unique to technicians, mechanics, medical professionals, musicians and members of the professions; and specialized clothing, such as diving suits, astronauts' suits, flying suits and helmets, band uniforms, chaplains' vestments, and other specialized apparel and abnormal uniforms or clothing, according to Michael Topolosky, the Air Force Personal Property Policy chief.

He said the policy excludes other items of a professional nature that will not be necessary at the next duty station, such as text books from schools and personal books, even if used as part of a previous professional reading program, and some previously allowed categories such as, personal computer equipment, memorabilia and table service.

The new policy does include a grandfather clause to allow anyone stationed overseas who transported more than 2,000 pounds of PBP&E before the change to return the same PBP&E amount to the continental U.S.

For more information, see Joint Federal Travel Regulation change 327 and Joint Travel Regulation change 581, dated March 1, 2014.

Recruiter Assistance Program: More than meets the eye

by Senior Airman Ashley Nicole Taylor
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/12/2014 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska  -- I remember five years ago when I started the long process of joining the military. I was nervous, excited and had no idea what to expect when going into the Air Force.

The person who assured me, mentored me and put tons of hours into my career is the reason why I stand behind the lens telling the stories of other Air Force service members - my Air Force recruiter.

I was recently given the opportunity to participate in the Recruiter Assistance Program in my home town of Junction City, Kan. This was the third time I have participated in this permissive temporary duty.

Making sure my dress blue uniform was looking sharp and knowing I would be representing the Air Force to students who may have never dealt with the military before is always a little unnerving. However, the thought that I could be the voice in someone's ear to encourage them to join "The greatest Air Force in the world" made me want to tell them everything amazing that has happened to me since joining.

I also gave some relief to potential recruits' parents by answering questions about how the military works.

Visiting high schools, driving from town to town and working until six at night, I got an inside look at what a recruiter actually goes through and it made me respect them more for all the time they put into their job.

Recruiters work a job that entails a lot of time traveling, working long nights and stacks of paperwork making sure potential enlistees are mentally and physically qualified.

Knowing I could relieve even the tiniest amount of work for my recruiter, Tech. Sgt. Kevin Baird, and provide him company during the visits to different schools was also gratifying.

I enjoy participating in RAP because each time I relive my enlistment experience, get to mentor new enlistees and give them advice to prepare them for Basic Military Training.

I also get to see firsthand where the future of the Air Force is headed. The people interested in the Air Force have to be top-notch material and could become my brothers and sisters-in-arms.

Airmen can participate in RAP as often as their supervisors approve their leave, their commanders approve their eligibility and recruiters need assistance.

The Air Force grants up to 12 days of nonchargeable leave, including one weekend, in accordance with AFI 36-3003. RAP is open to Airmen of all ranks interested in participating and having a positive impact on recruiting.

I encourage all Airmen to do RAP after technical school at least one time. Now that you have the knowledge of the operational Air Force, spread that knowledge with potential enlistees and see the hard work the Air Force recruiters are doing to bring in future Airmen.

Oklahoma reserve wing welcomes new commander

by Senior Airman Mark Hybers
507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

2/11/2014 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Col. Brian S. Davis assumed command of the 507th Air Refueling Wing here Feb. 8 with a ceremony presided over by Brig. Gen. John C. Flournoy Jr., 4th Air Force commander.

Davis served as the 459th Operations Group commander, Joint Base Andrews, Md. He assumes command of the largest Air Force Reserve Command flying unit in the state of Oklahoma, a job which Flournoy said Davis is more than capable of handling.

"Your incredible experience as a combat veteran, operations expert and team builder, leading warriors in associated units and experienced in three different weapons systems make you the perfect choice to lead the 507th Air Refueling Wing," Flournoy said during the ceremony. "I can't think of a more qualified officer, aviator and family man that I'd rather have taking the helm."

The general also said Davis brings an uncommon level of operational experience to the wing.

"You're very lucky to have that - we (the Air Force) are very lucky to have that, and lucky to have him here," the general said.

After the publishing of the order, Davis said, "I'm very excited for the opportunity to lead the men and women of the 507th. It's a humbling experience to stand in front of you as the commander - walking into a unit that is steeped in history and success."

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. "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 Air Force Base, 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.

"I like the phrase 'you can count on me,'" Davis said. "So if I stand up here as your wing commander and tell you that I am your ardent supporter, that I will work endless hours to make sure that you have all the tools that you need to be successful, that I will help you and your units to create a culture where you can thrive and become excellent -- you can count on me."

Flight simulator program hopes to spark youth's interest in education

by Delanie Stafford
55th Wing Public Affairs

2/10/2014 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Students from Alfonza W. Davis Middle School and Bellevue East High School visited Offutt Feb. 3 and 6 as part of a program that promotes learning by showing the students that with a good education, the sky's the limit.

"We attempt to use aviation and aeronautics as a hook to gain their interest," said Bob Rose, a retired Air Force captain and president of the Alfonza W. Davis chapter of Tuskegee Airmen Inc. "Then we try to convince them that by embracing education they will be in much better position to achieve their dreams. We also try to impress upon them the traits of the Tuskegee Airmen."

Rose established the program as a way to promote aviation and education among youth while also preserving the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen. More than 300 students from the local area have visited Offutt as part of the program since it began less than two years ago.

Until now, students were only given tours of the RC-135 simulator. Now they have the opportunity to visit other areas such as the security forces training facility and the air traffic control tower. While some students get an up-close look at small-arms weapons and tactics used by security forces, others take an elevator up to the thirteenth story of the air traffic control tower where they got a bird's-eye view of aircraft approaching and landing at Offutt's airfield.

Rose hopes the unique opportunities they get to experience at Offutt, such as flying the simulator, will stick with them as they return to their schools and that they will share those experiences with their peers.

"You can tell the difference, especially when they get back," Rose said. "They want to talk about who crashed, and who didn't crash, and who almost crashed...out of the thousands of people here at Offutt, there's probably only a few hundred that fly this machine. We've got 300 kids here in Nebraska who can say they've flown the RC-135."

Many of the students were nervous at the thought of piloting the $15 million flight simulator that is packed with buttons, lights, switches and moving parts. After a brief lesson, each took a turn piloting the simulator from the co-pilot seat where they performed take-offs, landings and aerial refueling.

"I was expecting it to be like video games and not very good graphics, but it was super real life," said Markell Riley, a Bellevue East High School student. "The motion was very realistic and made you feel like you were actually flying."

"You feel like you're actually in the airplane...the pressure and control of the yoke felt so real," said Lexi Johnson, a Bellevue East High School student.

Although nobody crashed during their flight (with a little help from the flight instructor), all gained a better appreciation of flying and the type of training required to pilot the aircraft.

"All of the controls were stressing me out," said Alaina Babbitt, a student from Alfonza W. Davis Middle School. "I would think [the pilots] would have to get some training in here before actually flying [the jet] just to make sure they knew the controls."

Rose said he works with local schools and youth organizations to identify students who might be interested in aviation or who would benefit the most from the experience. He says that the program is operated by volunteers and hopes to increase membership in the Alfonza W. Davis chapter of Tuskegee Airmen Inc. Rose emphasized that the organization is open to all. Anyone interested in joining the chapter can call Bob Rose at (402) 292-8912.

LEAP spring application window delayed

by Jodi L. Jordan
Air Force Culture and Language Center

2/11/2014 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The spring 2014 Language Enabled Airman Program application period has been delayed.

The application window was scheduled to open in February. A new date to apply has not been set, and the spring application period may be cancelled, said program officials. LEAP administrators cited several factors in the decision to delay the application period, including resource constraints and technical issues.

Typically, LEAP application windows and their associated selection boards are held twice a year. The spring application period is typically for enlisted candidates, with officer and officer candidates applying in the fall.

"We're very sorry to have to delay the application period for enlisted Airmen," said Lt. Col. Julie Solberg, the Air Force Culture and Language Center's Language Division director. "We know there are a lot of great enlisted Airmen with language abilities who can't wait to apply for LEAP. We're going to make sure they have that opportunity, either by holding an additional application period in the future, or by possibly combining the enlisted and officer application period in the fall."

The updated application window dates will be posted on the Air Force Portal and on the AFCLC's website as soon as details are available. For more information on LEAP, please review the Frequently Asked Questions document located at

Feature: 'We're American, that's all there is to it'

by Brian Shreve
78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

2/11/2014 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- When it comes to the military, most have heard the term brothers in arms. But for two Airmen at Robins, that expression takes on a whole new meaning.

Both Senior Master Sgt. Keyser Voigt and Master Sgt. Sven Voigt have served 17 years of active duty in the Air Force, both took the oath of re-enlistment together Jan. 29, and, yes, they are brothers.

Adding to the story, the Voigt brothers were born in Germany to German parents, though the United States is the only place they'll ever call home.

Sven, 35, works as a senior surveillance manager aboard the E-8C JSTARS aircraft and has served 10 of his 17 years at Robins -- most recently since 2006. Although his base of preference application was denied due to manning, Keyser was able to get orders to Robins via special duty assignment, volunteering to serve as an international health specialist assigned to the Air Force Medical Support Agency.

"It's a nice situation to be able to be here with my brother," said Sven. "I never thought in a million years he'd be assigned to the same base as me, and it means quite a lot to be able to go through the whole process with him."

The Voigts were born in Bitburg, Germany, spending most of their early lives in Kaiserlautern.

When the brothers were still small children, their mother met an American serviceman, who would later become their stepfather. He was later reassigned to Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., providing Sven and Keyser -- ages 4 and 5 respectively -- with their first encounter with the country they quickly grew to love.

After six years, the family moved back to Germany due to their stepfather's reassignment to Ramstein, but the American seed had been planted in the Voigts.

They were German by birth, but already American by gut passion.

"At that point, we felt more of a connection with America than we did with Germany," said Keyser. "We'd see [U.S. military] exercises in Germany, and there we were, waving our little American flags. We felt in our hearts, that's us."

The brothers returned to the U.S. and both were granted full citizenship in 1995. One year later, they enlisted in the Air Force, and after many stops in between, ended up together in what they admit could be the twilight of their careers.

"I felt like I owed the military something because it gave us the opportunity to come to the United States," said Sven. "We wanted to do something for the country in return."

The brothers have one other sibling, a younger sister who still lives in Germany. Keyser has returned to his birthplace only once, serving there for three years in an effort to be near their gravely ill mother; Sven also returned when she died in 2003.

Though the Voigts admit to preserving their fondness for the beer and bread of their German roots, their identities lie not only in America, but with the South in particular.

"We moved to Alabama, got our citizenship in Atlanta, and I've been stationed here more than half my career, so Georgia is home," said Sven. "I love the heritage that we have in Germany, but we're American. That's all there is to it."

Army Family Member Wins Team Figure Skating Bronze

By Gary Sheftick
Army News Service

SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 12, 2014 – Before receiving a bronze medal in the inaugural Olympic team figure skating event, Ashley Wagner said her experience of more than 20 years as an Army family member helped to strengthen her skating.

Growing up with the military broadened her horizons and exposed her to many different people, she explained, and some of those folks helped to sharpen her skating skills. They also helped instill a competitive spirit, stamina and determination, especially after she moved nine times as a youth.

Wagner, 22, was born in Heidelberg, Germany, and began skating at age 5 in Arkansas. Her mother offered her the choice between ballet lessons or skating, and Wagner told other media she “never liked the pink tutus,” so she picked ice skating.

Installations where she lived as a youth include Campbell Barracks in Germany and Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She’s now a student at Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo, Calif.

Her father is a retired lieutenant colonel who worked at the Pentagon during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and still lives in Alexandria, Va.

Her dad has always supported her in skating, she said, and he’s here watching the competition.

“It’s the thrill of a lifetime,” Wagner said about earning an Olympic medal. “It’s what I’ve always dreamed about.”

She was selected for the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi despite falling twice on the ice during her free skate at the National Championships in Boston and ending up in fourth place. Members of the national governing body for figure skating reportedly took her overall winning record into consideration.

Wagner was the “Four Continents” champion in 2012, and finished fourth in the World Championships that year in Nice, France. Last year, she finished fifth in the World Championships and second in the Grand Prix here. Over the past month, Wagner said, she has stepped up her training routine, working harder than ever.

On Feb. 8 here, she finished fourth in the Ladies Team Short Program, with an overall score of 63.10, earning Team USA a total of 7 points. That score put USA among the top five teams and enabled Gracie Gold to continue the next night in free skating. Gold finished second Feb. 9 in free skating, scoring 67.49 to earn 9 points and guarantee a bronze medal for Team USA.

The team competition includes four events: men’s singles, women’s singles, pairs and ice dancing. The USA ice-dancing duo of Meryl Davis and Charlie White scored 114.34 during the final team competition Feb. 9, earning 10 points for the USA and setting a new record for ice dancing.

This was the first Olympics for the team event in figure skating. Russia took the gold with a total score of 75. Canada took silver with 65 points, and Team USA finished with a total of 60 points. Italy trailed in fourth place with 52, and Japan was fifth with 51.

The last time a new event was added to Olympic figure skating was in 1976, officials said, when ice dancing was introduced. This means that a competitor can now win more than one medal in figure skating at an Olympic Winter Games for the first time in 78 years. In 1936, Ernst Baier from Germany won gold in the pairs event and silver in the men’s singles.

Wagner will strive to tie that record of two medals next week when she returns to the Sochi ice to compete in women’s singles Feb. 19.

Airman pins on SSgt in hospital

by Airman 1st Class Betty R. Chevalier
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/12/2014 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -  -- Military members usually have their days planned out, even months in advance. When we leave work at the end of the day, we know what we will be doing tomorrow and have a rough draft of how the day will go, but sometimes life happens and our plans change.

Staff Sgt. Andrea Pabon, 25th Operational Weather Squadron knowledge operations manager, was scheduled to be at the non-commissioned officer induction ceremony January 31. She was scheduled to pin-on the rank of staff sergeant, but ended up giving birth to her daughter, Arizona, that morning.

Pabon attended the rehearsal for the ceremony on January 30, which happened to be her birthday. During the rehearsal, Pabon started having mild contractions.

Pabon said participants in the rehersal joked about her giving birth on her birthday or during the ceremony.

Pabon and her husband went to the hospital for her severe contractions around midnight. The hospital examined her and sent her home around 3 a.m. telling her to come back if things got worse. Two hours later, they arrived back at the hospital. After another examination they rushed her to the delivery room, where she gave birth at 6:15 a.m. Pabon's due date was not until February 27.

"She was supposed to pin on January 31," said Chief Master Sgt. Peter Buzynski, 25th OWS chief enlisted manager. "She called me at 7 o'clock in the morning and said 'Hey Chief, I'm not going to be able to make my pin-on ceremony. I had my baby a few minutes ago.'"

Since she missed her first pin-on ceremony, Lt. Col. Michael Marsicek, 25th OWS commander, Master Sgt. Nathan Rice, 25th OWS first sergeant, and Buzynski, surprised her at the hospital and pinned stripes on her and presented her with her promotion certificate.

Pabon and her husband said they are glad she has very good, supportive leadership. Although her daughter was born weeks earlier than expected, her family and her leadership were able to adjust e and continue to support her.

Green named MMA 2013 Soldier of the Year

By Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Piper

FORT BENNING, Ga. –  The Military Marksmanship Association named Staff Sgt. Brandon Green their 2013 Soldier of the Year during the association’s annual meeting Feb. 7 at the Pool International Shooting Complex.

“I’m very proud to be a member of this unit … and proud to be the Soldier of the Year,” said Green, a member of the Service Rifle Section. “I really appreciate this opportunity … to train and work here.”

Green, a native of Covington, La., won the National Rifle Association’s 2013 National Highpower Rifle Championships at Camp Perry, Ohio. It was his first national championship after several second and third place finishes throughout his career. Winning there is winning against the best in the country, said (Ret.) Col. Robert I. Hoidahl, Jr.

Green also won the 2013 Interservice Individual Championship for the fourth time and was a member of the team that swept all team matches on their way to the overall team title. He aided his team to shatter records and gain victories in team matches at Camp Perry and during the Interservice Team Championships.

The MMA supports the goals and objectives of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit and provides a link to the history of the unit while hosting ceremonies and social events. The organization has more than 500 members, made up mostly of USAMU alum.

As it is for most years, Hoidahl, former USAMU commander and president of the MMA, said that it was extremely hard picking a winner among the finalists for the award.

The MMA 2013 Soldier of the Year nominees were: Staff Sgt. Patrick Franks, Cross Functional Team-Pistol; Staff Sgt. Daniel Horner, Action Shooting Section; Staff Sgt. Michael McPhail, International Rifle Section; Spc. Reuben Anderson, Custom Firearm Shop; Staff Sgt. Glenn Eller, Shotgun Team member; Sgt. John Joss, Paralympics Team member, and Sgt. Curtis Yetman, Instructor Training Group.

The members of the unit are extremely competitive, Green said.

“You have all of these outstanding shooters and anytime they pick up anything it becomes a competition,” he continued.  “Whether we’re training on a different range or a different discipline, it’s that world-level competition that drives us to be as good as we are.”

USAMU is part of the U.S. Army Accessions Brigade, Army Marketing and Research Group and is tasked with enhancing the Army’s recruiting effort, raising the standard of Army marksmanship and furthering small arms research and development to enhance the Army’s overall combat readiness.

Army National Guard Soldier Pleads Guilty to Role in Scheme to Defraud U.S. Army National Guard Bureau

To Date, 20 Individuals Have Pleaded Guilty in Ongoing Corruption Investigation 
A U.S. Army National Guard soldier pleaded guilty for her role in a bribery and fraud scheme that caused $30,000 in losses to the U.S. Army National Guard Bureau. 
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas made the announcement.
Specialist Danielle Applin, 27, of Harker Heights, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of bribery.  The case against Applin arises from an investigation involving allegations that former and current military recruiters and U.S. soldiers in the San Antonio and Houston areas engaged in a wide-ranging corruption scheme to illegally obtain fraudulent recruiting bonuses.  To date, the investigation has led to charges against 27 individuals, 20 of whom have pleaded guilty. 
According to court documents filed in the case, in approximately September 2005, the National Guard Bureau entered into a contract with Document and Packaging Broker Inc. (Docupak) to administer the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP).  The G-RAP was a recruiting program that offered monetary incentives to soldiers of the Army National Guard who referred others to join the Army National Guard.  Through this program, a participating soldier could receive bonus payments for referring another individual to join the Army National Guard.  Based on certain milestones achieved by the referred soldier, a participating soldier would receive payment through direct deposit into the participating soldier’s designated bank account.  To participate in the program, soldiers were required to create online recruiting assistant accounts.
Applin admitted that she paid an Army National Guard recruiter for the names and Social Security numbers of potential Army National Guard soldiers.  Applin further admitted that she used the personal identifying information for these potential soldiers to claim that she was responsible for referring these potential soldiers to join the Army National Guard, when in fact she had not referred them.  As a result of these fraudulent representations, Applin collected approximately $13,000 in fraudulent bonuses. 
The charge of bribery carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the pecuniary gain or loss.  The charge of conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the pecuniary gain or loss. 
Applin is scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal in Houston on June 11, 2014.
This case is being investigated by the San Antonio Fraud Resident Agency of Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Sean F. Mulryne, Heidi Boutros Gesch, and Mark J. Cipolletti of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pearson of the Southern District of Texas. 

USS Donald Cook Begins Forward Deployment to Rota, Spain

From Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) arrived at Naval Station Rota, Spain to begin her forward deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations, Feb. 11.

Donald Cook is the first of four Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers to be stationed in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations, and will be joined by other guided-missile destroyers, USS Ross (DDG 71), USS Porter (DDG 78) and USS Carney (DDG 64), over the next two years.

"Security and stability require the efforts of all nations," said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. "To ensure that security and stability, our European and American naval forces must be there. These destroyers will help ensure we are here with our friends and allies when it counts, not just in the right place at the right time, but all the time."

The four destroyers will be forward deployed to enhance the security of the European region. While in U.S. 6th Fleet, these ships will perform numerous missions, including NATO missile defense, maritime security operations, bilateral and multilateral training exercises, and NATO operations and deployments.

"This arrival ceremony reflects the exceptional collaboration and common interests shared between the United States and Spain," Adm. Bruce W. Clingan, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, said during the arrival ceremony. "It marks the vanguard of a build up of forward stationed naval forces in Rota"

Clingan also expressed his gratitude to both Spanish and U.S. Sailors, along with their families, who were on hand to welcome Donald Cook. He also thanked the host country by acknowledging that, "Today would not have occurred without Spain's willingness to host Donald Cook and her sister ships."

The arrival ceremony marks a historic moment between Spanish and United States navies by furthering a mutual bond that began more than 60 years ago.

"The arrival of the USS Donald Cook is a key milestone from the military point of view as it confirms the trans-Atlantic bonds within NATO, and corroborates the Spanish allegiance with the Organization and all those initiatives intended to strengthen its unity and achieve its objectives," said Spanish Chief of Naval Staff, Adm. Munoz-Delgado Diaz del Rio. "The deployment of these ships in our main naval base will permit joint exercises, training collaborations and the exchange of procedures and expertise, which will undoubtedly contribute to the benefit of both navies and nations, and to the benefit of those alliances and organizations to which we belong."

Ross is scheduled to join Donald Cook in Rota later this year, with Carney and Porter arriving sometime in 2015.

"Donald Cook, and her three sister ships that will be based here alongside the Spanish fleet, represent a significant contribution by both the United States and Spain to continued trans-Atlantic security," said James Costos, the U.S. ambassador to Spain. "But underlying the undeniable political and strategic importance of this partnership are the equally important person-to-person connections that our long history of sharing military bases enables."