Thursday, February 13, 2014

U.S. pilots share skies with former Portuguese classmates

by 2nd Lt. Allie Delury
31st FIghter Wing Public Affairs

2/13/2014 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Two air force captains sat in the 301st Fighter Squadron, one of two Portuguese F-16 Fighting Falcon squadrons at Monte Real Air Base, Portugal, while reminiscing about their days at Undergraduate Pilot Training in Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas.

One an F-16 pilot, another a C-130 Hercules pilot, both men finished each other's sentences when talking about the various people in their classes, their early and rigorous training schedules, and transitioning into what mission they were going to fly for the last day of REAL THAW 14. Both men were seemingly unaware that their uniforms did not match.

And seemingly unaware that they belonged to two separate militaries.

"I think we all share the same vigor for flying," said Capt. Michael Piazza, an F-16 pilot for the 555th Fighter Squadron. "You notice it when we hang out in their squadron areas after the flying and debriefs are over because we just sit around and talk about it."

Now, years after graduating UPT, Piazza and other pilots from the 555th FS are reuniting with their Portuguese classmates -- this time in the skies over Portugal.

"For us Portuguese pilots, the UPT training in the states is superb, even to this day," said Capt. Rui Silva, a Portuguese C-130 pilot participating in REAL THAW 14. "The year and a half that I spent there is what I'll be talking about for the rest of my career."

Portuguese F-16 pilots have two opportunities to train with American pilots: as a student at various UPT bases or as an instructor pilot at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Silva met Piazza during UPT at Laughlin AFB in 2006 and reunited with him years later at Monte Real AB for REAL THAW 14.

"For any air force pilot, it's good to train somewhere else. If you're exposed to a different environment and a different culture, you adapt and figure out ways on how to function with other people -- whether it's something small like in-processing or something big like air training," said Silva.

The year Silva attended UPT was the second year since the 1990s that the Portuguese have participated in UPT exchange programs with the United States. After taking a nine-week English course in Texas, Portuguese pilots went to their respective training base to train alongside the Americans and compete with them both in the classroom and in the skies.

"Rui is an extremely good pilot," said Piazza. "He graduated at the top of our class and beat out all of the Americans. We were impressed by him, and he deserved it."

When a Portuguese pilot returns to Portugal from UPT, they often bring back more than basic flying knowledge and standardized military procedures. Fighter pilot jargon, mannerism, and other American traits often slip within the walls of the two Portuguese fighter squadrons.

"In Portugal, our focus used to be on flying the mission, so our briefings and debriefings were much shorter," said Silva. "Now, we've been able to implement that debriefing mentality from the U.S. and apply it to much of our air force."

Some of the more experienced pilots within the 555th FS are also reuniting with their Portuguese counterparts--reminiscing not on their time as students, but as instructor pilots.

"My friend was a Portuguese instructor at Luke Air Force Base teaching Americans," said Maj. Michael Stephen Hurt Jr., an F-16 pilot with the 555th FS. "Because of that exchange, which is a prestigious thing for [the Portuguese], he is now the 201st Fighter Squadron commander here at Monte Real Air Base."

Hurt and his friend, now Lt. Col. Joao Rosa, taught at Luke AFB for three years and lived down the street from one another.

"His kids are the same age as mine and our wives became friends, so we were very close," said Rosa. "You're living in a different country so everything is new and exciting, but it wasn't too different teaching a pilot in the U.S. versus in Portugal."

According to Rosa, the experience not only bettered him as an instructor, but showcased the many similarities between U.S. and Portuguese pilots.

"The top-notch pilots still have the same drive and will to learn, so the attitude of the pilots is pretty much the same," said Rosa. "Regardless of where the training takes place, training an F-16 pilot is not that different. One of the greatest things about this jet is that we fly it pretty much the same way all around the world."

As REAL THAW 14 comes to a close, pilots from the 555th, 301st and 201st Fighter Squadrons are reminded of the importance of participating in international exercises and training with other NATO countries.

"It's difficult to coordinate missions due to language barriers and because people do things differently. These exercises allow other people to see what other countries do so that when you go out and fly, you learn to trust one another and their capabilities," said Hurt.

Whether in a classroom setting in Texas, a simulated wartime environment in Portugal or during combat operations in the Middle East, interoperability between various countries is constantly being tested.

If Silva was asked in 2006 if he ever thought he would be flying with Piazza in Portugal, his answer would have been simple:

"It's not 'if,' it's 'when.'"

Marine Aviator Receives British Honor

By Marine Corps Sgt. Justin M. Boling
Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps

FORT MEADE, Md., Feb. 13, 2014 – A UH-1Y Venom helicopter pilot received the British Distinguished Flying Cross yesterday at the British Embassy in Washington.

Marine Corps Capt. Brian Jordan, the second Marine aviator to earn the medal since World War II, was honored for his actions June 21, 2012, while deployed in Afghanistan

“This has been a very amazing and humbling experience for me,” Jordan said. “I really am accepting this on behalf of my flight crew and all of the maintainers who work tirelessly on keeping these aircraft operating. Without them, none of these actions would have been possible.”

Jordan said he the direct efforts of his aircrew -- Capt. Joshua Miller, Gunnery Sgt. Andrew Bond, Staff Sgt. Steven Seay and Cpl. Joshua Martinez – made the award possible. The captain also gave credit to the support of Lt. Col. Stephen Lightfoot and Capt. Frank Jublonski, the pilots of the AH-1Z Viper Super Cobra accompanying them on the mission.

“I am happy for him and anyone else who could accomplish something like this,” said Bond, the crew chief during the mission. “I am very proud of him.”

Jordan arrived on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan’s Helmand province in late May 2012 with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469. He and his flight crew were tasked with a mission to support the British Grenadier Guards.

“We worked together as a constant combat crew, and I had become very used to working with him,” Bond, with more than 14 years of experience, said. “Still being a relatively young pilot, he was doing well and was always open to listen to us.”

The squadron’s aircraft spent 40 minutes providing reconnaissance of buildings surrounding the area the guardsmen were patrolling, and when requested, they supplied cover fire. Jordan and his aircrew had depleted most of their fuel and spent ordinance to suppress an enemy attack, which had pinned down the British soldiers.

Jordan and his crew were preparing to return to Bastion when they saw an explosion.

“I remember the [joint tactical air controller] saying over the radio, ‘Man Down, man down, request immediate medevac,” Jordan said. “One of the guardsmen had stepped on an [improvised explosive device]. He had lost a limb and was going into shock.”

Jordan and his crew began to discuss the situation and began preparing a medical evacuation request form for higher headquarters.

“It can be a little frustrating at times, but you have to follow the orders you are briefed,” Bond said. “The end state was somebody needs our help, and you don’t want to let them down.”

The crew calculated it would take more than 30 minutes for another aircraft to come and pick up the two wounded British guardsmen.

“I talked to the crew, and we made the assessment that we were all comfortable with going down to pick up the wounded soldier,” Jordan said. “We then heard over the radio that there was no time and he won’t make it. We all agreed this is what we need to do. We talked to our section leader and told him our intention, and he said they would provide cover fire as we went down for the pick.”

“Both Staff Sergeant Seay and I are search and rescue qualified, so we began to rearrange and prepare the inside of the aircraft the best we could,” Bond said.

The aircrew landed between enemy fighters and the British troops to pick up the wounded soldiers.

“The situation made it feel like we were on the ground for an eternity,” Jordan said, “even though we could not have been on the ground for more than 10 seconds. Both aircraft were in a very low fuel state. We pulled full torque and got the soldier back to Bastion for medical attention.”

Both wounded British soldiers survived.

“I feel like we were just doing our duty,” Jordan said. “We took the actions we needed to make sure we saved a soldier’s life. Do I think I went above and beyond? No, absolutely not. We are just doing our job to support all the ground forces in any way possible.”

Jordan is preparing to serve as a pilot instructor at Marine Light Attack Helicopter Training Squadron 303 at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. He will teach newly commissioned pilots to fly the UH-1Y Venom.

“You go through a lot of training to make sure you can make the hard decision when things do not go the way you anticipate,” Jordan said. “It is not just pilots. It is all Marines — Marines always do what is right.”

Spartans hone Arctic warrior skills during winter training

by Army Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Smith
JBER Public Affairs

2/13/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Paratroopers with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, along with various units and enablers from across Alaska worked together to demonstrate their unique ability to carry out combat, as well as safety and security operations while in an arctic environment during their winter field training exercise Jan. 28 through Feb. 5 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

More than 3,000 service members participated in the event. It all started with a forced-entry airborne insertion on Jan. 28.

Situational training exercises, to include mounted and dismounted live fire action and gunneries, along with unmanned aircraft system surveillance of the battlefield, 105-mm howitzer artillery crew certifications and firings, air assaults, and mounted and dismounted security patrols were some of the skills paratroopers executed during the event.

Due to regular deployment rotations in support of the Global War on Terrorism, the winter FTX was a first for the Spartan Brigade since its inception in 2008.

The Spartan paratroopers received training while planning and executing missions, further validating the unit's abilities to respond to contingencies and humanitarian relief efforts in the Asia-Pacific Theater. In addition, the FTX helped ready the Spartan Brigade for their upcoming rotation to the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La.

Battalion commanders were pleased with their units' accomplishments and with the support of the outside enabling units that contributed to the training's success.

"I am real proud of how we, as a squadron, as a troop, all the way down to the platoon, at the section, and squad level have performed up to this point," said Army Lt. Col. Richard Scott, commander of the 1st Squadron (Airborne), 40th Cavalry Regiment. "The guys on the ground performed the way that I expected recon scouts to perform; dismounted recon scouts. I think there is a level of discipline that you need to come into an environment like this, and to this point we have had no issues."

The commander of the 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment, Army Lt. Col. Patrick Altenburg, said, "This is the first big arctic FTX the brigade has ever done since it stood up, and dealing with the arctic cold, and how to operate.

"I think it is going really well. I think the key is the planning and rehearsing, and when they plan and rehearse, it all comes together, so, each day they are getting better."
Working together internally and externally with outside enablers was a key piece of the training.

"This is great training," said Army Lt. Col. Tobin Magsig, commander of the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment. "The best part of the training for us though, is the enabler support that we've had, both from our brothers up at Fort Wainwright and [6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment]. We had the [B Company, 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment] 'Sugar Bear' element ... and then today from the Alaska National Guard providing support with the UH-60 [Black Hawks], and then our own brigade enabler support with the [RQ-7 Unmanned Aircraft System] Shadows, MPs, and human contact teams."

Flexibility is essential for military units as they conduct operations in today's world, Magsig said.

"We're focusing on how the battalion is able to seamlessly transition and react and operate in a permissive, semi-permissive and non-permissive environment," he said. "Our ability to rapidly transition between those three operating environments is really what we are getting after during the last week and a half and into the end of this week."

Army Lt. Col. Christopher Ward, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, said his artillerymen benefited from the tough arctic conditions.

"We've trained pretty hard in all of the core artillery proficiency tasks that we have, here last summer and the fall, but now we are doing those same skill sets in an arctic environment," Ward said. "It just increases the level of difficulty. Obviously, colder weather, having more gear on, the mobility is not the same. So just being able to maintain that level of proficiency that we had several months ago in a different environment is always a challenge, and our guys are doing a great job of getting after it."

Combat support and combat service support elements of the brigade played essential key roles during the FTX.

"I believe this is an outstanding event," said Army Lt. Col. Peter Crandall, the commander of the 725th Brigade Support Battalion (Airborne). "It's the first time the brigade as a BCT has come to the field. So, as a support battalion, with co-locating all of the [forward support companies] here with us, and integrating them into synching logistics for the brigade, we've never done this before, so I think going forward, for any exercise, be it Fort Polk, or we deploy to any other country in the [Pacific Command Area of Responsibility] will greatly enhance the [tactics, techniques, and procedures] that we have."

In all, the FTX was a success and integrated systems not often seen and experienced, such as the incorporation of battlefield surveillance provided by one of the brigade's newest assets, the RQ7 Shadow UAS.

The paratroopers gained proficiency and knowledge while operating in the Arctic conditions, and they will carry that experience forward as they continue to train and execute orders handed down to them.

"When push comes to shove, what we're doing, they're (Spartan paratroopers) really excited to do, and it's a challenge," said Army Lt. Col. Kevin Perera, the commander of the 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion (Airborne). "They have distinct pride in the fact that nobody else in the Army comes and hangs out in the field and does combat training like this, in, you know, seven degrees."

In addition to the upcoming rotation to JRTC, the Spartan Brigade continues to train and conduct missions across the Pacific region with recent operations in Australia for the Talisman Saber 2013 mission and the mission to the Kingdom of Thailand for Exercise Cobra Gold 2014.

Air Force Secretary Outlines Plan to Address ‘Systemic Problems’

by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

2/13/2014 - WASHINGTON, D.C. -- WAir Force Secretary Deborah Lee James today shared her observations from her visit with airmen across the ICBM community following revelations of a proficiency-test cheating scandal at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., last month.

Speaking to an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, James discussed her visits to bases in Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana and Louisiana.

"I received command briefs, I took tours, [and] I learned about the mission, firsthand," she said. "And very importantly, I talked directly to airmen."

Using town hall meetings and focus group environments, James said, she spoke to missileers, security forces, maintenance, support and facilities personnel -- all without their commanders or any note-takers present.

"I got a microcosm of all the different types of teammates," she said. "And what I learned in all of these settings was actually very enlightening."

Based on these discussions, James said, she was able to come up with seven areas that she said will be addressed as part of the action plan the Air Force owes to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel within 60 days."

"I believe that, in fact, we do have some systemic problems in the force," she said. "I picked up on morale issues as I went from place to place." James cited spotty morale, micromanagement and the "need for perfection" as part of this systemic problem at every base she visited.

"The need for perfection has created a climate of what I think is undue stress and fear among the missile community about their futures," she said. "And again, it wasn't just at Malmstrom, where the cheating incident occurred. I heard this at every place I visited."

A holistic approach is essential in fixing the problem, the Air Force secretary said. "To just go after the incident of cheating is not adequate," she added, "and so, I think wholistic is the way to go."

The secretary's second observation involved an unhealthy climate bred by the way test scores are used to motivate airmen. In addition to having to score 90 percent or better on three monthly proficiency tests, James explained, missileers also have to perform well on periodic simulations and other forms of outside inspections and evaluations.

"What I found is that the missileers felt driven to score 100 percent all the time," she said. This is because commanders were using test scores as the sole factor in promotions, explained. "So to me, a huge irony in this whole situation is that these missileers who cheated probably didn't even cheat to meet the standard or to pass," she added.

It could very well be that they cheated in an effort to get a 100 percent score all the time, because that is the prevailing mentality, James said.

"The third [observation] is accountability," she said. "I'll be short and sweet on this one: there is going to be accountability in this matter. There certainly will be appropriate accountability for individuals who participated in the incident. We're also assessing leadership accountability in this."

The secretary said her fourth observation dealt with professionalism and leadership development, and "we have some work to do here as well."

James pointed to how airmen receive training and mentorship, not just in their jobs, but also in leadership. "We place a great premium on leadership in the Air Force," she said. "Are they getting the appropriate levels of leadership? Do they get the professional mentorship and supervision that I've seen go on elsewhere in the Air Force? As I mentioned, this is a young, so mentorship and leadership from higher levels is important."

The fifth observation, she said, is a need to reinvigorate the Air Force's core values: "Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do."

"And of course, this was a major failure of integrity -- integrity first," James said. "So airmen need to be reminded, and we need to look for ways to build this in at all levels throughout their careers."

The Air Force secretary also noted Hagel's announcement last week that he will appoint a senior general officer to focus on "core values, ethics, character [and] leadership."

"We want to do this across the board in the military, and certainly, we in the Air Force will be an important part of this effort," James said.

For her sixth observation, James pointed to potential lessons to be learned from how the Navy oversees its nuclear force -- for example, a clear path for promotion.

"I call this 'incentives, accolades and recognition,'" she said. Should we consider some sort of incentive pay or educational benefits for certain types of work in this career field so that it becomes more attractive?" James asked.

"They do such things in the Navy," she continued. Air Force officials are learning more about what the Navy does, she said, to see what might apply.

"What about medals and ribbons, and other forms of accolades?" James asked. "We need to look at all of that, and by the way, we need to know how to do this for our officer corps, but we also need to it for the enlisted force as well, because they are working extremely hard under what are arduous conditions as well."

James called her final observation "other investments," and asked, "Do we put enough of our money where our mouth is?"

By that, she explained, she means whether there should be consideration of additional funding for increased manning levels or higher priority for certain military construction or maintenance, or even toward addressing quality-of-life issues.

"I mentioned earlier these are sometimes remote locations," she noted, "so quality of life counts."

James emphasized that while the specific cheating incident will be addressed, a holistic approach and a look at the totality of the nuclear enterprise will be part of the process.

"You may have noticed that each of my seven observations directly relate and focus on people," she said. "I think people are the core of this, and so getting this done right for people in the future will be key to us moving forward."

James noted while 92 airmen have been implicated in the cheating incident, "the vast majority of our airmen, particularly, the vast majority of the 36,000 that are involved with this mission ... are performing superbly."

"They are working hard," she said. "They are doing great work for you and for me, and with great pride every day."

Joint-service CSAR training proves essential for aircrew survival

by Airman 1st Class Ryan Conroy
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/13/2014 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Joint-service combat search and rescue training missions were held for the first-time Jan. 28 to Feb. 11 at Cellina Meduna training grounds near Maniago, Italy.

The 31st Fighter Wing teamed up with the U.S. Army 12th Combat Aviation Brigade for joint CSAR training. There were several aspects to the training mission to include close air support, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training for personnel on the ground and a search and rescue coordinated with a U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew extracting isolated pilots from "hostile" environments.

"The 12th CAB originally approached us about using our base for training and when we found out what kind of equipment they were bringing down here, which included U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk medical helicopters, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to practice our personnel recovery operations," said Maj. Christopher Potter, 31st FW Plans and Programs air battle manager.

With a long-standing tradition of making Airmen the priority, CSAR training stresses the real-world threat of the Air Force's most precious commodity-- military personnel.

"Not only is the isolated person a U.S. military member but they are also someone's son, daughter, father, mother, family relative or friend," explained Staff Sgt. Claude Brown, 31st FW SERE specialist. "Obviously, the U.S. never wants to lose a military member or see them fall into the hands of the enemy and neither does their family or friend. If the training we provide can help or be the deciding factor in returning them home as safe as possible, then they will live to fight another day and go home to their friends and family."

This unique training allowed the joint personnel recovery team to exercise skills that aren't commonly applied in a field environment here. Firstly, it allowed for SERE specialists and aircrew to evade capture, communicate with assets in the air and practice hoist training with a helicopter.

"In the case of this exercise, we placed opposing forces on the ground. The individuals on the ground executing their survival training evaluated what the threats on the ground were and it really gave them an opportunity to go out there and practice their evasion skills," said Potter.

The training also provided search and rescue training for the pilots in the air. Several F-16CM Fighting Falcons were launched in support of the isolated pilot extraction and were able to practice deploying simulated ordnance on opposing forces to prevent capture. This is most commonly referred to as close air support training with pilots flying as low as 1,000 feet to the ground.

"We had the aircrews simulate what we call a semi-permissive environment," said Potter. "This is similar to what we would be operating in a deployed location, such as Afghanistan, where it is a friendly nation, but there could be some unfriendly forces there if we had to eject or if they had to get recovered."

"We attempt to create as secure of an environment as possible using our available assets so that we can safely get a recovery team in and protect our man on the ground. This is one of the top priorities during a CSAR mission," said Brown.

After successfully evading opposing forces and communicating with assets in the air, isolated Airmen needed to be extracted. This allowed for the 12th CAB to exercise their rescue procedures and hoisting training. The training also allowed for the assimilation of different rescue procedures to become more effective.

"Someone going through the survival training can do everything perfect up to actual recovery," said Brown. "But, if they aren't familiar or know how to deal with the process associated with recovery, they run a greater chance of endangering not only themselves but the recovery team. Anytime we can physically train and integrate an asset like the 12th CAB, it adds more realism to the training."

Citing history, Lt. Col. Christopher Austin, 510th Fighter Squadron commander, the more realistic a training operation is, the better chances at survival the pilot has in a real-world situation.

"I think this is excellent training--there's a will to survive," said Austin, who participated as the simulated isolated pilot. "That's the good thing about training in the field, you get to practice that will to win, will to survive. The history we have at Aviano with Capt. Scott O'Grady is a prime example of why this training is so critical."

O'Grady was a pilot assigned to the 555th Fighter Squadron here when he was shot down over Bosnia-Serb territory while patrolling a no-fly zone in 1995. He evaded capture from unfriendly forces for six days using training he received during a 17-day SERE program before he was extracted safely.

"There are many risks associated with an isolating incident regardless if they're in a combat or non-combat environment," said Brown. "The training we provide gives them the knowledge to deal with any risk they may encounter and mitigate as much of the 'what if' scenarios as possible."

Maintainers counter cyber threats for first time at Red Flag 14-1

by Maj. Teresa Sullivan
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

2/12/2014 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.  -- Maintainers learn how to counter cyber threats on the flightline for the first time through innovation and adaptability here during Red Flag 14-1.

Maintainers are not only expected to keep their aircraft in the fight but are also being tested on scenarios they may face while in the combat zone.

"What we've done is created what we call a 'contested, degraded or operationally limited' environment, or CDO, for our maintainers, and it's designed to prepare our Airmen for what they may face in a major combat environment," said Maj. Christopher Vance, 414th Combat Training Squadron maintenance division chief, and who's in charge of creating maintenance training scenarios. "This is a beta test for maintenance. CDO has never before been applied to maintenance during the exercise."

Red Flag leadership wants to ensure Airmen on the flightline are able to problem-solve and respond to their environment if and when they are faced with a compromise in technology or cyber threat. Scenarios were devised to train maintainers in a similar format to Red Flag pilots.

"Our maintainers are very innovative and come up with solutions to problems on their own all the time, but this has raised their awareness to a new level," said Lt. Col. Tony Lombardo, 366th Air Expeditionary Wing maintenance group commander at Red Flag 14-1, and who's deployed from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. "The good thing is our Airmen are aware of technology, and they're adaptable. It's amazing to see them embrace this challenge."

Red Flag maintainers also receive academics on cyber vulnerabilities, information operations and other CDO-related threats.

"Our Airmen want the feedback," Lombardo said. "At the end of the day, they want to know how they did against the scenario."

Instructors from the U.S. Air Force Advanced Maintenance and Munitions Officer School, the weapons school of maintenance, are also on scene to serve as observers and to document how these Airmen respond to the challenges given to them. Their mission is to take that information and create tactics, techniques and procedures, and recommend official Air Force doctrine on how maintenance will counter cyber vulnerabilities on into the future.

"This training is necessary for our maintainers. This is a new Air Force, and we need to be prepared for all types of threats," said Chief Master Sgt. Gerard Liburd, 366th AEW senior maintenance superintendent at Red Flag 14-1, who's also deployed here from Mountain Home AFB.

When asked how the maintainers are responding to the new challenges while working on the flightline, he said, "They have higher situational awareness. If something looks out of place, they're all over it. If the computer doesn't work, they create a workaround. We're hoping our Airmen can take what they're learning here and incorporate it in to their training back home."

24th AF CCC speaks to new role

24th Air Force Public Affairs

2/12/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- Chief Master Sgt. Brendan Criswell has only been in San Antonio a few weeks, but he is already excited to start making an impact on 24th Air Force.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish in your time here?

A. My overall goal when I am done here is to simply leave the 24th better than I found it. I will continue to build upon the great work of the first two Command Chiefs to develop AFCYBER and Cyber Airmen.

Q. What are you most excited about in coming to 24th Air Force?

A. We are on the cutting edge of unprecedented change, and I can't wait! If there is one business going through a tremendous transition right now it's cyber and I'm excited to be involved in this growth industry at such a foundational stage. There is much work to be done to define the cyber mission for the Air Force and the Joint team.

Q. What do you see as the most difficult part of your job?

A. The cyber domain is unlike any other domain as it's entirely man-made. We are simultaneously creating the environment and developing how we can use that environment to our advantage. This is new territory to operate, defend and, if necessary, defeat the adversary in. It's also difficult to grow a new mission in an increasingly resource constrained Air Force. There will be pressure to create an ideal cyber architecture coupled with a fiscal reality that won't support all of the requirements. From developing the weapons systems to developing the Airmen who fly them, it will be a tough challenge--but Airmen have faced tough challenges before.

Q. What are your expectations of our Airmen?

A. I call on leaders at all levels throughout 24th Air Force to show our young Airmen how to be proud to serve. The Air Force is in tough times now with the budget and reduced numbers. All too often this is what consumes our thoughts, but we are not defined by our budget. We are defined by our legacy of great Airmen accomplishing the impossible. Cyber is yet another element in our incredible history where smart Airmen are turning what was once impossible into just another day at the office. The thing that will get us through trying times is great leadership building great teams focused on service and the mission. An Airman should never be left to make a dollar for dollar comparison between their job in the Air Force and one on the outside. Being an Airman is so much more than a paycheck. This is more than a job--it is a calling to serve something greater than oneself.

Q. What is your leadership philosophy?

A. Leadership is about relationships. The Air Force and leadership is a human endeavor, whether you are dealing with a small group, large group or an individual. You need trust first, and you build trust through communication, and that means lots of listening, insightful conversations, being believable and being in touch. Strong leadership is simply an extension of strong relationships. Without one the other will fail.

Q. What is the most important lesson you've learned that you are bringing with you to 24th AF?

A. Here are a few of the core beliefs that I have developed over my years in the Air Force. These beliefs form the foundation and framework for how I approach the mission and the Airmen that drive it:

-Understanding why we do what we do is essential and drives how well we do it.

-We are the absolute best in the world, but there is room for improvement.

-The outcome of big things is often the result of little things.

-For smart Airmen working as a team, nothing is impossible.

-We can change the Air Force one Airman at a time.

Q. What do the Airmen of the 24th need to do to be better Airmen?

A. If any of us thinks we have cyber all figured out we are wrong. This is a complicated mission and we are still a nascent industry. In order for us to keep our combat edge, the Airmen of 24th Air Force need to be the smartest, most innovative and most capable Airmen in the Air Force. Our mission demands it. In order to be at the top of our game, each of you need to be mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually resilient. Resiliency is not a program, it's personal and you all need to take stock of where you may have weakness. This is not something you can fix in hindsight.

Q. In your eyes, why are you qualified for this position?

A. This is a team sport and I'm a team player. I will do whatever my position avails me of to ensure the success of the team. Let me know where there are roadblocks to success and I will take them head-on.

Welcome, Chief Criswell, to 24th AF!

Resource provider gives back to program that helped her

by Master Sgt. Luke Johnson
943rd Rescue Group

2/13/2014 - INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Prior to a 2012 deployment, Senior Master Sgt. Natalie Gray attended her first Air Force Reserve Command Yellow Ribbon Program training event and learned about the benefits and help available to her.

When the chaplain's assistant returned from her six-month duty, she learned how to cope with reintegrating with her family through another Yellow Ribbon weekend.

"(When I attend the post-deployment Yellow Ribbon event) my kids and I were still going through reintegration and some of the issues that we were going through were highlighted from the travel strains as we were traveling from the west coast to the east coast," said Gray. "My patience levels were very off at that point in time; that was something I was working through."

She learned some very effective communications skills at one of the breakout sessions to help bridge the gap between her and her daughter, then 16.

(We) talked a lot about the things that were discussed in the communications and resiliency briefing afterwards," said Gray. "It opened up an avenue to have some really honest communications with her."

The tranquil environment during her second Yellow Ribbon event allowed her and her children to be at ease.

"It helped us bond as a family and communicate," said Gray. "Being at that neutral location allowed us to have that communication that we were not having prior to that."

Gray gained so much from the Yellow Ribbon Program that she joined it and now provides chaplaincy services to assist those going through same issues she experienced. Now she uses her deployment experiences to help fellow reservists deal with pre- and post-deployment issues that they may face.

Yellow Ribbon Chaplain (Lt. Col.) David Leist said Gray offered words of advice and encouragement to children attending a Yellow Ribbon training weekend Jan. 24-26 in Indian Wells, Calif.

"She spoke openly about her two daughters and how she kept in touch with them and some of the personal issues they went through not having their mommy around," said Leist, a member of the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Gray, who is assigned to U.S. Northern Command as an individual mobilization augmentee, said Yellow Ribbon "is all about giving back and taking care of the Airmen."

"This program is very important, especially for our pre-deployers and those who've never deployed before because there are many things that they are going to experience and also for the second- or third-time deployers because every time it's going to be different," she said.

The most rewarding aspect for Gray of being a Yellow Ribbon service provider, she said, is interacting with her fellow reservists and their families.

"I like the fact that we are not in uniform, and I don't have my rank on me," said Gray. "The lower-ranking Airmen that are talking and sharing stuff with me have no clue that I'm a senior NCO. I've had experiences where Airmen would not want to talk to me because of my rank, and having no uniform provides an even playing field for folks to discuss things."

At the California event, she was able to provide assistance and counseling during breakout sessions for groups of couples and singles.

"She was very open about the separation from her family, especially her daughters and the significant needs that surfaced not being physically available to them at some very crucial times in their lives and at tender teenage years," said Leist.

The chaplain said Gray's warm and welcoming personality was a vital asset at the event and helped make the chaplain ministry very effective.

"Her approachable nature and attention to detail blended well at the chaplain resource table," he said. "She passed out literature and shared candidly and expressively about her pre- and post-deployment experiences as they impacted her military commitment and life events."

Gray feels an important aspect of the Yellow Ribbon Program is that children and families can connect with one another and provide support.

"(When I spoke with the kids) I told them that my daughter was in their shoes, and I was able to give some of the older kids my daughter's advice on what she had done while I was deployed," said Gray.

As reservist assigned to an active-duty unit, she is able to advise the fulltime military members on Yellow Ribbon so they know there is a support system in place for other reservists there.

"This is an area that senior leadership is sometimes not aware of and being in the position that I'm in as an IMA, I can advise leadership of the programs that are available to reservists when they are either getting ready to deploy or coming off a deployment," she said.

Gray said Yellow Ribbon is very important for reservists and their families to get the information they need for all aspects from the deployment cycle.

"As long we have reservists deploying, the program needs to say in place to help them reintegrate," said Gray.

Las Vegas City Council members learn ISR mission

by Airman 1st Class C.C.
432nd Wing, 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

2/11/2014 - LAS VEGAS  -- A group of more than 20 Las Vegas City Council members, including Mayor Pro Tem Stavros Anthony, received a firsthand look at the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance mission during a short visit Jan. 30.

During the tour, the officials viewed static displays of the MQ-1B Predator and MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft and learned about the abilities and functions of each aircraft. The council members also saw flight training simulators, which gave them a firsthand look at how RPAs carry out the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission to help protect forces on land and at sea.

Anthony said he and the other council members wanted to visit so they could learn about the base and interact with the men and women who perform maintenance, training and other duties vital to continuing the ISR mission.

"There are some outstanding military people doing outstanding things," said Anthony. "It's amazing how the RPAs are controlled by people [locally] and they're protecting soldiers all around the world."

Councilman Ricki Barlow said that it was impressive how much information the aircrafts provide and how the communication, ISR and other elements all come together to complete the mission.

In addition to educating local officials on the importance remotely piloted airpower, the visit was a great opportunity for city and base officials to explore ways to bolster the relationship between the base and the city of Las Vegas.

"The visit was a home run," said Chief Master Sgt. Butch Brien, 432nd Wing command chief. "It was a great opportunity for our Airmen to tell their story and showcase what they do best, 24/7, 365. I think it was a real eye opener for our guests and hopefully the visit drove home the importance of our mission here and the impact our Airmen who live in the local communities are making on a daily basis."

CNP to Answer Sailors' Questions, Respond to Feedback in Worldwide All-Hands Call

By Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Elliott Fabrizio, Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP) is scheduled to talk with Sailors around the world in an All Hands Call broadcasting and streaming online live March 5 at 2 p.m. EST.

Vice Adm. Bill Moran, CNP, and Fleet Master Chief for Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education (MPT&E) April Beldo will update Sailors on the issues that affect them and their families and open the floor to live questions from fleet via satellite and social media.

Sailors are encouraged to begin sending in questions and comments now by tweeting @USNPeople or emailing

The programs and policies under the office of the chief of naval personnel directly impact Sailors and include the following:

-Pay and allowances
-Education and training
-Family Support Policies
-Sexual Assault Prevention and Response
-Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions
-21st Century Sailor Initiatives
-Total Sailor Fitness
-Personnel Programs and Polices

More than just asking questions, Moran and Beldo encourage Sailors to use this opportunity to share their feedback--what's working in the fleet, what isn't and what ideas do they have to make our existing policies better.

The event will be broadcast on the Armed Forces Network (AFN), Direct to Sailor (DTS) and The Pentagon Channel (TPC).

Online streaming will be available on the following websites:

JBSA-Randolph dental flight to provide outreach to students

by Robert Goetz
Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

2/12/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- The American Dental Association sponsors National Children's Dental Health Month each February to raise awareness of the importance of oral health for children.

At Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, the annual observance gives the 359th Dental Flight, which serves active-duty members, an opportunity to extend its reach to Randolph Elementary School students and other children, and promote the ADA's message that "developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits help children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums."

Capt. (Dr.) Jessamy Thornton, 359th Dental Flight general dentist, will visit the JBSA-Randolph Library for story time Wednesday and will lead a team to Randolph Elementary Feb. 26, where they will promote oral hygiene during physical education classes throughout the day.

"Children's Dental Health Month is our way of reaching the children," Thornton said. "It's a great opportunity to have an impact on youngsters."

The presentation at Randolph Elementary will include the showing of a video, "Dudley Goes to the Dentist;" a "good food-bad food" game that will show students which foods promote oral health and which ones lead to cavities and discussions about "cavity bugs," the sugary substances that lead to cavities, and how cavities are formed.

"That's our main focus - how to prevent cavities," Thornton said.

Students will also learn how to brush and floss their teeth correctly and will receive a "goody bag" with toothpaste, a toothbrush and dental floss.

The "Dudley Goes to the Dentist" video "depicts the first visit to the dentist and what children should expect," Thornton said.

"We recommend a visit to the dentist by the age of one to get children acclimated to having a stranger looking inside their mouths," she said. "By getting children used to being in the dentist's office, they have less anxiety."

When children are very young, parents can assist the dentist, further easing their anxiety, Thornton said.

Parents should also assist their children when they brush and floss their teeth.

"We recommend that parents help their kids brush and floss through the age of 10, or when they have the dexterity," she said. "It's important to brush for at least two minutes. In addition, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is sufficient."

Another way parents can help their children is by promoting good eating habits and discouraging the consumption of sugary foods and liquids and other foods that promote tooth decay, Thornton said.

"Fruits, vegetables, nuts and fermented cheese are examples of foods that contribute to oral health," she said. "Anything that's good for your overall health is good for your dental health."

13th Bomb Squadron brings global strike capability to Red Flag

by Airman 1st Class Thomas Spangler
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

2/13/2014 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Gliding through the air like a phantom in the night, the B-2 Spirit evades enemy air defenses, finds its target, then unleashes its firepower only to slip away from the enemy as quietly as it came.

During the years, Red Flag exercises have progressed from dog fight air-to-air combat training into complete combat integration involving all aspects of air warfare. Air-to-ground attacks are a vital part of an air campaign, and the 13th Bomb Squadron brings the B-2, a vital asset, to that fight.

The B-2, and its unique characteristics, helps ensure the U.S. and its allies maintain control of the airspace.

"The B-2 can bring a global strike capability at any time," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Schreiner, 13th BS commander.

"The B-2 is a high altitude dominant force capable of taking out any high value target while evading enemy radar," said Master Sgt. David Rohde, 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent.

The B-2 is a low observable aircraft, meaning it can evade enemy air and ground defenses, release its munitions on target, and return home all with-it being detected.

"It is a dual-role bomber, meaning it can carry both conventional and nuclear munitions. During Red Flag exercises, we're using [conventional] ordinance," Schreiner said.

The 13th BS was established in 1917 and has fought in every major conflict the U.S. has been involved in since. The stealth abilities and level of firepower the B-2 has is just the latest in a long line of bomber aircraft and weaponry used by the squadron.

During Red Flag 14-1, the B-2 has participated in exercises alongside more than 125 other aircraft including the F-22 Raptor, F-16 Fighting Falcon, KC-135 Stratotanker, and aircraft from Great Britain and Australia. The B-2 was incorporated into mission packages to take out ground targets presenting a threat to other aircraft that don't have the same stealth characteristics. Once the high-value ground targets were neutralized, the other aircraft were able to conduct their missions.

Getting the B-2s to Nellis AFB was a large operation. The 13th BS brought more than 100 military members from Whiteman AFB, Mo, to include maintainers, operators and defenders from the 509th Security Forces Squadron. All of these people are essential for the B-2 to effectively participate in Red Flag.

The 13th BS brought its own security forces for several reasons. One reason is the B-2 requires around-the-clock armed guard because it is such a valuable asset, and the squadron did not want to lean too heavily on security forces from the 99th SFS. The second reason was Whiteman AFB security forces understand the unique circumstances of guarding the aircraft.

In addition to bringing invaluable assets to Red Flag, the 13th BS also benefited from the exercise.

"Red Flag is a good stepping stone and training environment for real world operations" said Rohde, who has participated in six Red Flag exercises.

"Any time you're away from home it will put on added stress" Schreiner said.

The combined stress of being away from home and training in a fast paced environment ensures the squadron was that much more combat ready and efficient when the time comes for real world operations.

"We are known as 'The Devil's own grim reapers,'" Schreiner said.

The ability to strike any target, any time, at any location with extreme lethality justifies this saying. That lethal efficiency is only possible through the men and women who pilot, maintain, and defend the Spirit.

Soldiers and Airmen in nine states helping as storm pummels South and Middle Atlantic

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy Staff Sgt. Tracci Dorgan
South Carolina National Guard

GAFFNEY, S.C. (2/13/14) - The mammoth winter storm that sliced through southern and Middle Atlantic states Wednesday was keeping about 3,000 National Guard members busy in nine states and the District of Columbia.

As daylight was coming to an end, forecasters predicted more precipitation in some areas, taking the form of either snow, sleet or a mix of both.

Soldiers and Airmen were assisting local authorities in Alabama, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, according to the National Guard Bureau and other officials.

On Wednesday night, as the snow fell on Delaware, Soldiers and Airmen were prepositioned in each of the three counties. The majority of missions involved transportation. "So far we have transported patients to the Veterans Administration Hospital for dialysis treatment, medical workers to the Christiana Hospital to start work shifts, and first responders to emergency operations centers," said Col. Dallas Wingate, the Delaware Guard's Director of Military Support.

In the District of Columbia, National Guard personnel were called up Wednesday by order of the Secretary of the Army.

Air Guard and active duty personnel from the 11th Wing at Joint Base Andrews, Md., were clearing snow to keep the D.C. Guard's 24/7 alert mission up and running throughout the storm, protecting the skies over the nation's capital with F-16 fighters standing by, a mission they have had since 9/11.
D.C. National Guard soldiers and airmen are conducting 24-hour operations at the D.C. National Guard Armory, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, in D.C., Davison Army Airfield, Va., and Joint Base Andrews. One of their jobs is to transport Metropolitan Police and Fire personnel to duty.

"Our hearts go out to those who have had their homes or property damaged in this storm," D.C. National Guard Commanding General Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz said. "We are doing everything we can to help the city return to normal operations. The city has asked for us for help, and we are responding, just as we always have in every emergency throughout its history."

Guard personnel said that prepositioning resources helped officials deal with the effects of the ice and snow, which pummeled areas already hard hit by a storm late last month that paralyzed areas of Georgia.

"We accomplished our objective of getting our units into place before the snow started to fall, and now we are staged and ready to assist with response operations if we are needed," said. Col. James Zollar, director of joint operations for the Virginia National Guard.

Typical of the responses was in South Carolina, where Army National Guard wrecker teams moved out in full force to help during the winter storm that made roads dangerous around the Southeast.

Wrecker teams were stationed throughout the state to help wherever they were called Wednesday, when the storm began.

Staff Sgt. Richard Krause was one of more than 100 Soldiers put on state active duty to support one of 14 wrecker teams from the South Carolina Army National Guard assigned to assist the state Department of Public Safety.

Krause is a maintenance sergeant for the 124th Engineer Company in Saluda and was assigned to wrecker team 5. His team was comprised of other soldiers who live and work around the Columbia area, but were tasked with providing assistance in the Gaffney area.

The team was prepositioned in the Upstate off of I-85 to be ready for whatever was needed.

"We recovered an 18-wheeler that broke down, partially blocking a lane, on I-85," said Krause. "He was having transmission problems and couldn't drive anymore. He was stuck for more than three hours before we got the call to help him. We arrived and towed him to the next exit where he was able to park his truck safely and get out of the storm."

Krause said no other towing vehicles could reach him so it was important for a larger towing vehicle to get him clear of the road to keep all lanes clear on the highway. The South Carolina Army National Guard's 1089 A-1 wrecker weighs about 80,000 pounds, so it was able to safely drive on ice-covered roads.

The wrecker team, in addition to Krause, included Staff Sgt. Jeffery Shaw, Sgt. Chris Barefoot and Sgt. Chris Grant. They were able to move the 18-wheeler off the road within 30 minutes of arriving.

"The team and I were happy we were able use our skills to help our community," Krause said. "We were here before we were needed, staged off exit 90 at the Pilot gas station, ready to help. Because of our planning, we were able to respond quickly when we were needed."

Krause said he was humbled by the number of people who stopped by and expressed their gratitude to the wrecker team while they waited to respond to calls.

Throughout the day and into the night, they, along with other wrecker teams also responded to calls for assistance by stranded motorists and other 18-wheelers who were stuck in areas around Spartanburg, Inman, as well as Gaffney.

"It was a great experience to be able to help," said Krause. "People who passed us were happy for us just being there."

The situation was much the same in North Carolina, where a television news crew came across state National Guard members working to free a stuck civilian ambulance and fire truck. The Soldiers helped reinforce a crucial message in these types of emergencies: Don't travel on the roads unless you absolutely must.

Contributing: Steve Marshall of the National Guard Bureau

Hagel Congratulates Tunisia’s New Defense Minister

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called Tunisia’s new defense minister yesterday to congratulate him on his appointment, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

In a statement summarizing the call, Kirby said Hagel expressed to Defense Minister Ghazi Jeribi the high priority the United States places on supporting Tunisia as it continues its democratic transition.

“Secretary Hagel also thanked Tunisia for its history of strong military-to-military relations with the U.S. and expressed his commitment to maintaining this relationship in the future,” Kirby said. The secretary also congratulated the Tunisian government on the success of its recent counterterrorism operations, he added.