Military News

Saturday, February 15, 2014

NBA Honors Troops During All-Star Weekend



By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 15, 2014 – Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife, Lisa, joined about 2,500 service members, veterans and their families at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center yesterday where the troops were honored guests at the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge Practice.

The NBA Cares Hoops for Troops program hosted the veterans and service members, who were invited to take part in on-court activities with NBA rookies and second-year players during breaks in the practice.

Hoops for Troops is a year-round initiative, in partnership with the Defense Department and the USO, to honor active-duty and veteran service members.

Following the practice, the Battaglias traveled to the New Orleans community of Algiers to spend several hours working alongside about 250 service members and veterans as well as current and former NBA players as they rehabbed six homes, including the homes of four veterans, as part of the NBA Cares Day of Service.

“It's great working together with NBA All-Stars and vets to rebuild a Vietnam vet's home,” the sergeant major said. “These are awards you wear in your chest, not on them.”

Rebuilding Together organized the volunteer work and selected the homes that would receive work, said Tim Parsons, director of marketing and communications for Rebuilding Together. Included in the thousands of homes the group has rehabbed for low-income homeowners are about 1,500 homes for veterans, he noted.

“We do about 10,000 projects a year rebuilding homes for low-income homeowners who have to make tough choices every day between things like food and medicine or fixing their homes,” Parsons said.

Battaglia also met with a number of NBA officials yesterday and today, including Commissioner Adam Silver and Jerry Colangelo, the president of Team USA, as part of a Defense Department initiative to increase hiring of veterans by Fortune 500 companies.Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife Lisa joined about 2,500 service members, veterans and their families at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center yesterday where the troops were honored guests at the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge Practice.

The NBA Cares Hoops for Troops program hosted the veterans and service members, who were invited to take part in on-court activities with NBA rookies and second-year players during breaks in the practice.

Hoops for Troops is a year-round initiative, in partnership with the Defense Department and the USO, to honor active-duty and veteran service members.

Following the practice, the Battaglias traveled to the New Orleans community of Algiers to spend several hours working alongside about 250 service members and veterans as well as current and former NBA players as they rehabbed six homes, including the homes of four veterans, as part of the NBA Cares Day of Service.

“It's great working together with NBA All-Stars and vets to rebuild a Vietnam vet's home,” the sergeant major said. “These are awards you wear in your chest, not on them.”

Rebuilding Together organized the volunteer work and selected the homes that would receive work, said Tim Parsons, director of marketing and communications for Rebuilding Together. Included in the thousands of homes the group has rehabbed for low-income homeowners are about 1,500 homes for veterans, he noted.

“We do about 10,000 projects a year rebuilding homes for low-income homeowners who have to make tough choices every day between things like food and medicine or fixing their homes,” Parsons said.

Battaglia also met with a number of NBA officials yesterday and today, including Commissioner Adam Silver and Jerry Colangelo, the president of Team USA, as part of a Defense Department initiative to increase hiring of veterans by Fortune 500 companies.

USS George H.W. Bush departs for 2nd Deployment



By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shaun Griffin

NORFOLK (NNS) -- USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Carrier Strike Group (GHWB CSG) departed for its 2nd deployment Feb. 15.

The strike group, led by the Navy's newest aircraft carrier, George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), and its nearly 6,000 Sailors; is scheduled to conduct operations in the U.S. Navy's 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.

The deployment is part of an ongoing rotation of U.S. forces supporting maritime security operations in international waters around the globe.

Working with allied and partner maritime forces, GHWB CSG units will focus heavily on maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts which help establish conditions for regional stability.

"This team has worked hard in preparation for this deployment and is ready to go," said Rear Adm. John C. Aquilino, Commander of GHWB CSG. "The dedication and commitment shown by our Sailors will serve the country well in support of our global national interests."

The five ships and eight aircraft squadrons of GHWB CSG consist of approximately 6,000 Sailors who have spent the last year conducting intensive training and certification exercises to establish a safe, cohesive organization capable of performing a wide variety of missions across the globe, ranging from counter-piracy and ground support operations to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The George H.W. Bush Strike Group consists of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 22 staff and George H.W. Bush.

This is the 2nd deployment for the Navy's last Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which recently became combat ready after the successful completion of Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX) and Joint Force Exercise (JTFEX).

"I am very pleased that all essential training has been completed," said Commanding Officer Capt. Andrew Loiselle. "During this long workup period, excellence has been the standard set by the crew, and I am confident that we are the best prepared carrier to go on deployment."

George H.W. Bush was commissioned Jan. 10, 2009 as the 10th and last Nimitz-Class aircraft carrier. Named after the 41st U.S. President, USS George H.W. Bush is the only aircraft carrier in the fleet with a living namesake.

Cope North '14 commences on Guam

by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wilson
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs


2/15/2014 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam  -- More than 1,800 service members and approximately 50 aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Royal Australian Air Force and Republic of Korea Air Forces came together to kick off the 85th iteration of Pacific Air Forces' Cope North exercise Feb. 14 on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

The trilateral field training exercise features a full spectrum of fighters, bombers, transport, re-fueling and command and control aircraft from the U.S., JASDF, and RAAF designed to improve combat readiness, develop a synergistic disaster response, and increase interoperability between partner nations. Also as part of Cope North 14, Republic of Korea Air Force will join with the other nations to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training.

"Cope North is a tremendous opportunity for nations in our region to train together at Andersen building a common set of tactics, techniques and procedures" said Brig. Gen. Steven Garland, 36th Wing Commander. "We live in a very dynamic region of the world and the Airmen participating this year in our largest Cope North to date, all recognize the value provided to the region from great team work.

"The flexibility and rapid response exhibited during the recent Philippine typhoon relief effort of Operation Damayan underscores the value of training opportunities during times of relative calm so nations are prepared to respond in times of crisis to support their nation," said Garland.

Exercise directors representing each nation's component all remarked on the uniqueness and quality of Andersen's infrastructure, facilities and the Central Marianas airspace the units will use during the two-week exercise.

"We have great facilities, great airspace here and this exercise is all about getting better, learning from each other and doing it safely," said Col. John Parker, U.S. Cope North exercise director and 35th Operations Group commander at Misawa Air Base, Japan.

The three participating countries each feature an exercise director, leadership teams, planning sections, aviators, maintenance and other support members, said Maj. Micah Bell, an exercise planner from 5th Air Force at Misawa. Through interoperability, the three teams each assume the lead on various operations throughout the exercise and work closely with their counterparts.

"Interoperability is a word that gets used often during this exercise," he said. "We take that very literally; we want to not only get safe, effective training, but also want to learn from our partners and share lessons learned."

The exercise is unique in that it combines air-to-air and air-to-ground combat training with allied partners and additionally incorporates a humanitarian aid and disaster response portion concurrently.

"We live in a region with lots of natural disasters," said Group Capt. Glen Beck, RAAF exercise director. "The (Australian Air Force) isn't very large so we are always grateful for training opportunities; this is the largest international exercise we do and it's definitely the largest footprint."

Col. Hiroshi Kurata, serving as exercise director for JASDF, noted the significance of both training for disaster and building professional relationships.

"It's been three years since the earthquake hit eastern Japan and I appreciate all the support and cooperation we received during Operation Tomodachi," he said. "Additionally, I ask three things from all in attendance here: Do your best, enjoy your job and make as many friends as possible."

Naval Base Guam and Partners Complete Initial Cleanup, Assessment



By Lt. Matt Knight, Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs

APRA HARBOR, Guam (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy, in partnership with other federal and local agencies, completed initial assessments and cleanup of the beach at Spanish steps near the grounded Japanese commercial fishing vessel Daiki Maru in outer Apra Harbor Feb. 15.

Representatives from Guam Fish and Wildlife Services, Sailors from U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam, and natural resources specialists from Naval Facilities Engineering Command conducted an assessment of the beach and determined that there was no evidence of leaking contaminants visible.

Contracted divers boarded the vessel and completed an assessment. While inspecting the vessel they ensured that all oil vents found were securely closed and a baseline for future oil removal was established.

Throughout the day, cleanup crews on the beach and on personal watercraft in the harbor collected debris and transported them to a safe location on shore to prevent environmental damage.

"The unified command made a lot of progress today and the on-site team made some significant first steps in mitigating the potential damage this vessel could do to the environment" said Dennis Siler, Naval Base Guam Operations Manager. "Our objective as we enter the third day is to complete the safe transfer of heavy oils off the vessel which represent the greatest danger to the environment."

The unified command consists of representatives from Naval Base Guam, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam, Guam Environmental Protection Agency, and the responsible party. Other agencies that have been involved in all aspects of planning from the standup include Joint Region Marianas Operations, Naval Facilities Command Environmental personnel, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Guam Fish and Wildlife Service, Cabras Marine and Osroco.

The Navy and all partners in the unified command are taking all the necessary steps to address the situation and ensure the protection of the environment. The unified command's top priority is to assess, plan, and remove hazardous materials from the vessel to mitigate damage to the environment.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Airmen clear range

by Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


2/14/2014 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- After a long day of dropping bombs and firing missiles at targets, hard work and caution are needed to clean up the Barry M. Goldwater Range.

It is the job of the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron to clear the range so maintenance personnel can repopulate it with targets. They remove hazards such as fragments from bombs, scrap metal from targets and unexploded duds.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Airmen, accompanied by Chief Master Sgt. John Mazza, 56th Fighter Wing command chief, performed an annual clearance Jan. 30 of the BMGR and surrounding areas by searching for unexploded bombs or missiles at the high explosive hill and performing sweep line runs at the South Tactical range.

"Because we clear the range of explosive hazards for the safety of the range management office maintenance unit, the maintenance personnel can then either repair or replace targets for the pilots to train on," said Staff Sgt. Stephen Alvarez, 56th CES EOD team leader.

At the high explosive hill, pilots fly over and drop live bombs that sometimes can be duds. To ensure duds are disposed of properly, EOD members are sent in to identify the ordnance, mark it off with flagging ribbon and place C-4 onto the ordnance. After placing C-4 onto the ordnance, EOD backs away to the safe zone where they detonate the duds and any missiles.

"Due to multiple detonations with large radiuses, safety becomes a big issue," said Tech. Sgt. Charles Cowart, 56th CES EOD team leader. "It also gives us a chance to train on a large scale demolition with live munitions."

In addition to clearing out the high explosive hill, EOD performed sweep lines at South Tactical range. Trucks lined up and EOD Airmen scouted the area for scrap metals and other debris that could harm personnel.

"EOD forces accomplish the mission using safe disposal procedures developed to counter U.S., Allied, or enemy explosive ordnance discovered in a hazardous condition due to accidents or other circumstances," said Chief Master Sgt. William Ewing, 56th CES EOD flight chief. "EOD forces must be capable of countering threats from weapons of mass destruction, conventional and chemical unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive devices that may be from enemy or friendly forces."

As a former CE Airman, Mazza said being in the field with the EOD Airmen reminded him of the pride he has in the career field.

"I had a great time spending the day with EOD Airmen," he said. "What they bring to the fight is immeasurable. Clearing and rendering the BMGR safe is vital to the 56th Fighter Wing's mission. This was also a reunion of sorts, since I was the squadron chief for a couple of these guys a few years back."

SecAF outlines plan to address 'systemic problems'



By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr., American Forces Press Service
 Published February 13, 2014

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James 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 Base San Antonio kicks off energy campaign

by Mike Joseph
JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs


2/13/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- The 502nd Air Base Wing launched an energy campaign designating 2014 as an Energy Action Year throughout Joint Base San Antonio during a ceremony Feb. 6 at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.

Brig. Gen. Bob LaBrutta, 502nd ABW and JBSA commander, signed a proclamation focusing an energy campaign throughout JBSA on reducing consumption and creating efficiencies.

"I call this a 'campaign' for a reason," LaBrutta said. "It's going to take all of us in Joint Base San Antonio - every single person is going to be part of this energy campaign.

"Everybody can participate whether it's turning on/off lights in their facilities and the peripherals or getting involved in one of these great energy programs we've got coming," he said.

LaBrutta called the JBSA energy action campaign one of his top priorities for 2014. He said that in a resource-constrained environment there is a responsibility to maximize available resources.

"We also have an obligation to the American taxpayer to be as efficient as we possibly can with our installations and that includes energy," he said. "I also know the benefits we can gain from this campaign are in real dollars - they come back into our coffers."

LaBrutta was 72nd Air Base Wing commander at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., from June 2010 to January 2012 when a similar energy awareness campaign was kicked off.

Later in 2012, Tinker signed an $80.6 million energy efficiency project with Honeywell to improve operations and cut utility costs. The retrofit project is expected to generate more than $170 million in savings over 20 years, which is also guaranteed by Honeywell through an energy savings performance contract.

"Tinker was able to save $2 million in utilities costs last year," he said.

Efforts to increase energy awareness at JBSA began last May when LaBrutta took over command.

LaBrutta requested some changes be implemented at the 502nd ABW headquarters building on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston in June 2013 to help reduce its energy consumption. Those changes included raising set points to meet energy policy on average, taking advantage of daylight, reducing hallway interior lighting to safety levels, turning off lights and equipment during off duty hours, and reducing exterior lighting.

Those small changes brought significant savings even though summer months were hotter and winter months were colder in 2013 compared to 2012.

The normalized energy savings for electric and gas were $840 a month or $5,880 total, when consumption was compared from June-December 2013 to June-December 2012.

"If everybody gets on board doing that, just think how many dollars we can save in utility costs a year," LaBrutta said.

The campaign identified six strategic energy goals for implementation across JBSA. The goals are based on executive order mandates, applicable law provisions and Air Education and Training Command directives.

Executive Order 13423 was issued in 2007 to strengthen energy conservation and improve efficiency across all federal agencies, and an extension and expansion of that order (Executive Order 13514) was signed in 2009. The Air Force then tasked all commands to follow the '20/20 by 2020' initiative, which requires a reduction in facility footprint by 20 percent, and utility and sustainment costs by 20 percent by 2020.

According to Ruben Ramos, JBSA-Randolph energy manager and a member of the joint base energy team, the JBSA strategic energy goals provide a framework of objectives and priorities that can be used to develop unit specific initiatives representing the tactical elements of the program.

JBSA's six strategic energy goals:
  • Increase Energy and Water Conservation Awareness: The success of the JBSA water and energy conservation program is absolutely dependent on eliciting the support of the entire joint base populace. This can only be realized by creating a culture where energy conservation is "a consistent and serious consideration in everything we do."
  • Incorporate Energy and Water Conservation in Operations, Maintenance and Design: Every unit has a part in achieving this goal. The following are items to be considered in developing units' specific energy and water conservation programs - maintain proper climate control per JBSA energy policy, implement adequate facility lighting controls, implement workplace policies that support JBSA energy conservation efforts, and find ways to "slow the spin" on the meter.
  • Reduce Water Consumption Intensity: The JBSA populace can help by promptly reporting any water drips or leaks to the 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron, facility maintenance. During any renovations, the 502nd CES will ensure low-flow faucets and toilets have been installed.
  • Install Facility Metering: As per the saying, "we can't manage what we can't measure," the 502nd CES must play a key role in realizing this objective in an orderly fashion. In particular, the 502nd CES must assess JBSA facilities and develop a carefully prioritized schedule for meter installation based on facility energy consumption and the potential for near-term facility demolition or major refurbishment.
  • Implement Renewable Energy Options: JBSA continues to actively investigate potential renewable energy production means. The average rate of electricity per kilowatt hour is in the range of $0.073. However, partnerships and new technology is rapidly changing and helping JBSA to add renewable energy to its site.
  • Conduct Facility Audits: Facility managers can greatly support JBSA on this strategic goal by completing their annual audit checklist and returning it to one of the JBSA energy managers.
"What we're going to do is use our partnership with the City of San Antonio, in particular our great partnership with CPS Energy, to help us achieve some of this," LaBrutta said.

"We can make big, big gains on the energy front if we all contribute and participate."