Military News

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Transcom Commander Discusses Mission Priorities



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

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2014 – President Barack Obama’s mandate to reduce U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan by the end of 2014 is U.S. Transportation Command’s top priority, Air Force Gen. William M. Fraser III told Congress here today.

Fraser, commander of Transcom, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on the state of his combatant command and its global mission.

“United States Transportation Command continues to support our force reductions in Afghanistan through our close working relationships with the geographic combatant commanders, other federal agencies and our commercial partners in various host nations,” he said.

“We are postured to achieve the president’s directed reduction in Afghanistan by December 2014,” Fraser said. “Our transportation command team remains fully committed.”

He said his command is focused on supporting U.S. forces worldwide and executing the redeployment from Afghanistan.

Fraser lauded the men and women of his command for their commitment to supporting the troops around the world, noting Transcom’s joint forces team is dedicated to providing reliable and seamless logistical support to warfighters and their families around the world.

According to Fraser, Transcom, which is comprised of active duty, reserve and National Guard troops, civil servants, Merchant Mariners and commercial partners, has met the past year’s challenges while supporting combat operations, sustainment efforts, humanitarian relief missions, and crisis-action responses.

“From supporting relief efforts following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines,” he said, “to continuing development of innovative ways to maximize throughput into and out of Afghanistan to meeting the directed 34,000 troop-reduction level by February 2014, the [Transcom] team committed themselves to ensuring our joint force maintains global logistics superiority.”

Fraser praised Transcom’s people as “world-class professionals” who continue to conduct the nation’s business “magnificently” without fanfare, and often, under stressful conditions.

“We are looking towards the future and we’re preparing for a different operating environment. Declining [DOD] business for our industry partners requires careful consideration of how we ensure readiness of our organic and commercial air, sea and surface capabilities into the future,” Fraser said.

“We will continue to work with Congress, the Department of Defense, the interagency and our commercial partners to find that right balance,” he added.

As the global distribution synchronizer, Transcom depends on a worldwide, multi-mobile network of military and commercial infrastructure, Fraser said, to ensure rapid delivery of forces and sustainment for humanitarian and contingency operations.

“This global network provides the strategic reach necessary for any contingency and highlights the need for assured access and delivery capabilities,” he added.

In order to support any worldwide contingency or humanitarian event, Fraser said it is essential to preserve and improve partnerships with allied nations, maintain infrastructure and continue to strengthen commercial partnerships.

“The United States Transportation Command team is committed to working on these relationships and seeking innovation solutions to support our forces around the world,” he said.

Friendship strengthens during JCET exercise

by Tech. Sgt. Kristine Dreyer
353rd Special Operations Group Public Affairs


2/20/2014 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Members from the 353rd Special Operations Group joined members of the Royal Thai Air Force for Exercise Teak Torch Jan. 27 through Feb. 7 in Udon Thani, Thailand.

"This exercise is conducted to focus on exchanges with our Thai counterparts in order to enhance interoperability through combined training with U.S. Air Force Special Operations and host nation forces," said Maj. Chandler Depenbrock, Teak Torch mission commander.

Throughout the 2-week exercise, different career fields from around the 353rd SOG were able to link up with their Thai counterparts. The cultural exchanges included aircrews from the 17th Special Operations Squadron, maintainers from the 353rd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, combat controllers from the 320th Special Tactics Squadron, Defense Air Ground Response Element teams, independent medical technicians, a flight doctor, as well as survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists, all from 353rd Special Operations Support Squadron.

For many the first week of exchanges took place in the classroom while the second half gave each group a chance to put their newfound knowledge to the test.

"We focused on training for combat casualty evacuation and tactical combat casualty care," said Lt. Col. Mark Anderson, 353rd Special Operations Group, Surgeon General. "They trained us on local plants and snakes as well as their experiences in flood relief. Our Thai counterparts were actively engaged and extremely motivated, which made for a productive exchange."

After holding survival exchanges with the U.S. Air Force and RTAF pilots along with RTAF security forces, Tech. Sgt. Cody Lefever, 353rd SOSS, SERE specialist, learned that some parts of survival is universal around the world.

"Their survival school is very similar to our school," Lefever said. "All their pilots had an understanding of survival skills. We shared how to build snares, procure water from plants, build fires and construct ground-to-air signals while the Thai pilots shared with us their ideas and concepts with these same skills."

While learning how to improve their skills in their own career fields is the focus for both the Thais and Americans, there was more than just building technical expertise.

"We made new friends," Anderson said. "We were able to participate in several events outside of training as well, which solidified long lasting friendships."

"This is my third time on this exercise," said Staff Sgt. Michael Garrison, 353rd SOSS, DAGRE team leader. "We have good camaraderie. The Thais love working with Americans, and we love working with the Thais. These exchanges help us learn how to communicate better and that will definitely help if we ever have to work together in a real world operation."

While the 353rd SOG has been working with the RTAF since 1991 and has completed more than 60 training exercises together, the benefits are built upon each other each year.

"Being able to adapt and work in different constructs and different societies are skills needed while working in special operations," said Depenbrock. "Building these long-lasting relationships help us realize that there is so much more to learn. The cultural broadening that we get from these exercises benefits us all both personally and professionally."

644th Combat Communication remains ready to respond

by Airman 1st Class Emily A. Bradley
36th Wing Public Affairs


2/26/2014 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- The 644th Combat Communications Squadron Airmen are capable of rapidly deploying in various situations where communications have not been previously established such as air support operations, air base openings, humanitarian assistance missions and disaster relief efforts.

They are capable of quickly having people out the door after receiving a request for their assets, as was the case after Typhoon Haiyan swept through portions of Southeast Asia Nov. 8, 2013, devastating the Philippines and leaving thousands of people homeless.

"We deploy capabilities to (locations and) units that need it," said Maj. Patrick Smyth, 644th CBCS deputy commander. "We train for the times when we are needed, which could be anytime, and we can be there at a moment's notice."

The 644th CBCS is an expeditionary unit, aligned under the 36th Contingency Response Group, is able to rapidly deploy. The 36th CRG is intended to be a "first-in" force to secure an airfield and establish and maintain airfield operations.

"When the [36th CRG] deploys downrange, we leverage the comm flight of the 36th Mobility Response Squadron initially, then bring the more robust package that [644th CBCS] provides," said Col. Thomas "Doc" Livingston, 36th CRG commander. "The 644th provides enough communications capability such that, when we turn over operations to an air expeditionary wing, there are enough resources in place to support a large team such as a joint task force or long-term presence if needed."

Any time not spent supporting a contingency operation is spent on preparing the unit through training, said Lt. Col. Kato Martinez, 644th Combat Communications Squadron commander. Airmen are responsible for continuously having their equipment and themselves ready to leave on no-notice deployments.

"Combat comm is also unique in their ability to enhance the air base opening team," Livingston said. "They have the shoot-move-communicate skills needed to integrate with our defenders, and they have forklift driving skills to integrate with the aerial port team."

The squadron is also accountable for pre-positioned communications equipment, which remain stationary on pallets, ready to go where the 36th CRG goes.

Their three-full sized servers, which can provide communications support for 3,000 users, are continuously running to ensure the programs are always updated and no viruses or bugs have made their way into the computers. These servers can be packed by unplugging them and putting the covers over the body of the server in minutes.

The training and building of capabilities with the 36th CRG and commitment to the principles of expediency played a crucial role in ensuring CBCS Airmen are able to meet requirements in real-time, Martinez said.

JBER civil engineers garner high honors for deployed service

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Blake Mize
JBER Public Affairs


2/25/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- The 673d Civil Engineer Group recognized three Airmen Feb. 19 for exceptionally meritorious service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

During an early-morning ceremony on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Air Force Col. Anthony Ramage, 673d CEG commander, presented Air Force 1st Lt. Josef Kallevig, 673d CEG executive officer, and Air Force Staff Sgt. Scott Rice, 673d Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance technician, Bronze Star Medals and Senior Airman Andres Fossi, 673d Civil Engineer Squadron engineer technician, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

The three civil engineers distinguished themselves while on separate deployments to Afghanistan during 2012 and 2013.

While deployed, Kallevig was handpicked to be the officer in charge of Regional Training Center-Herat and was responsible for the safety and accountability of 120 U.S., coalition and civilians at an Afghan National Police training center. He was also the Infrastructure Transition Advisory Group site leader at Regional Support Center-West. According to his BSM citation, Kallevig's leadership was instrumental to the success of RC-West.

"Like so many of our fellow Air Force engineers, this deployment asked us to expand on our skill sets and take on new challenges," Kallevig, of Sidney, Mont., said. "I am truly proud of the progress we made during the deployment and how well we represented the engineers in our command."

During his time in Afghanistan, Rice, from Boise, Idaho, served as an EOD team leader on more than 60 EOD missions and completed 16 post-blast analyses. He led multiple demolition operations, destroying more than 7,000 pieces of foreign unexploded ordnance and eliminating 7,272 unserviceable U.S. military munitions.

Among his many responsibilities while in Afghanistan, Fossi, who was an airman first class at the time of his deployment, managed 12 Afghan interpreters who transitioned mission-critical documents from English to Dari and vice versa. He was responsible for the translation of more than 500 documents, including military-related technical manuals, laws, government relations, engineering policies, technical specifications and legal documents.

"I wasn't doing those things to get something out of it," Fossi, a Hackensack, N.J., native, said. "The way I see it, I was just doing my job. So it feels good to get the recognition and know the things I did actually mattered."

According to the Air Force Personnel Center, the Bronze Star Medal is awarded to those in any branch of the military who, while serving in any capacity with the armed forces of the United States, distinguished themselves by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight, in connection with military operations against an armed enemy.

The Defense Meritorious Service Medal is awarded for non-combat meritorious achievement or service that is incontestably exceptional and of magnitude that clearly places the individual above his peers while serving in one of the assignments for which the medal has been designated.

Andersen Airmen first to learn innovative airfield damage repair capability

by Airman 1st Class Emily A. Bradley
36th Wing Public Affairs


2/26/2014 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- The 36th Civil Engineer Squadron was the first unit in the Air Force to receive training on a new airfield damage repair technique here Jan. 21 through Jan. 24.

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., selected Andersen as the test base for the Airfield Damage Repair Capability program, in part, because of its key location in the Pacific. It also has a large enough flightline for the Airmen practice the new process without impacting daily missions.

"This is a significant step in base recovery that provides (more) capability in addition to traditional rapid runway repair," said Lt. Col. Christopher Carter, 36th CES commander. "The Civil Engineer Center taught our engineers critical skills that we can use (if) called upon to ensure the 36th Wing's mission is successful. We are excited to be a part of the training team and looks forward to working with AFCEC as we help pave the way for the future of ADR."

Under the new process, Airmen clear the debris from the surface of the flightline and then cut a square around the damaged area with specialized saw and the remaining concrete is removed. Then they fill the hole with a low-strength concrete, followed by a rapid-set concrete cap.

This process can be done quickly in combat situations so airfield operations can resume. The repair is also semi-permanent, so Airmen won't have to return later to perform further maintenance to the area. It is estimated that 3,000 aircraft of any size or weight can pass over the restored area without causing degradation to the runway.

The previous method for repairing the flightline, known as rapid runway repair, was introduced in the late 1950s and became more refined in the 1960s. The standard allowed engineers to repair three large craters formed from 750-pound bombs within four hours after damage was made.

"(Rapid runway repair) was a way that was in-grained in the Air Force for around 50 years," said Capt. Benjamin Carlson, Air Force Civil Engineer Center ADR officer in charge. "This is a new way of doing things that is more beneficial and cuts down on repair times."

Father, son serve in Illinois Air National Guard wing

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy Staff Sgt. Lealan Buehrer
182nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

PEORIA, Ill. (2/28/14) - When it comes to the expression "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree," no irony is lost when Wes and Jared Paver are seen together.

Besides their shaved heads, both father and son have the same rambunctious smile and an air of confidence and approachability. Perhaps it comes from their common background as first responders. More uniquely, both are Illinois Air National Guard members stationed together at the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, Ill.

When Master Sgt. Wes F. Paver of East Peoria, Ill., enlisted in November 1983, working in law enforcement just felt like a natural fit, he said. His initial plan was to gain experience as a law enforcement specialist in the 182nd Security Police Squadron and then apply to civilian departments.
"The longer I was in, the more I liked it, and I decided to stay," he said.

Sgt. Paver rose through the ranks as his career progressed, becoming a squad leader on drill weekends, a full-time shift supervisor and the base's non-commissioned officer in charge of physical security. Then in November 2009, he received a call to meet with Col. Cory K. Reid, the 182nd Mission Support Group commander.

"In my career as a security supervisor, it was never a good thing to get a phone call to go see the mission support group commander, because it usually meant that I had done something, or somebody that worked for me had done something," Sergeant Paver said.

The meeting, however, turned out to be positive. The group commander asked him to consider becoming his first sergeant, a trusted position responsible for the morale, welfare and conduct of the unit's enlisted airmen. Sgt. Paver applied and was accepted.

He found similarities between being a senior non-commissioned officer, a first sergeant and a parent, both in helping subordinates reach their potential and in dealing with life issues.

"If you treat (a kid) like a young adult, they will act like a young adult. If you treat an Airman like an Airman should be treated, and hold them to a standard, most people rise to that standard," Sgt. Paver said. "Being a first sergeant is very similar to being a parent, because you do deal with a lot of the same types of problems coming across your desk that come across the dining room table."

Meanwhile, over the years the father had brought home to his family the values and discipline instilled in him by the military.

"I've always had a lot of respect for him," said his son, Airman 1st Class Jared A. Paver, a fire protection specialist with the 182nd Civil Engineer Squadron, also from East Peoria. "Now that he's my senior NCO, it's still the same. He's always raised me the same way. I've always had that sort of discipline."

When Airman Paver enlisted in February 2012, he found no difference in his father as a parent versus a service member.

"He's always the same person, he's never different. He's very disciplined, very motivated, in everything that he does," he said.

Likewise, Sgt. Paver described his son as always having been a forward-thinking type of kid who especially excelled in sports. He soon recognized the military potential in his son.

"Early on, I saw some leadership in him as he was moving his way through high school football, track and wrestling," the father said. "I could see the leadership abilities coming out in him."

However, Sgt. Paver believed that not forcing the idea of joining the Armed Forces on him was important. He wanted the decision to enlist to be his son's alone.

"We talked a little bit about it when he was a senior and he wanted to pursue college and possibly go into sports in college. I let him work his own path through life," Sgt. Paver said. "And then finally he came to me and was like, 'Hey, I think I want to join the Guard.'"

Perhaps his father's consistent military character left an impression during Airman Paver's upbringing. The son became a dorm chief in basic military training and then became the class leader at the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy.

Sgt. Paver remembers the first time he saw the 182nd Civil Engineer Squadron's fire trucks responding to an emergency after his son had come home from technical training school.

"All of a sudden I see the fire trucks roll out and I'm like, 'Wow, my kid's probably on one of those.' That's an interesting thought," he said.

After doing seasoning days with the fire department, Airman Paver took a temporary technician job at the Logistics Readiness Squadron to help with their mobility and inventory operations, where he is working full-time for the wing like his father.

Sgt. Paver said the best compliment paid to him was from his son's supply superintendent.

"He said, 'Jared's doing a really good job. He's made a very good name for himself out here,'" the father said. "There's a sense of pride knowing that he's made his own name out here now."

Airman Paver also takes pride in his father and credits him for being a big influence in his life.

"He's always been a leader, whether it's in my personal life or things that I've seen out here at the base with him being first sergeant," he said. "People can come to him for anything, and I hear from people all the time (saying), 'Hey, I love your dad.'"

No matter how busy things get during the duty day, the Pavers make a point to check up on each daily to see how the other is doing. The concept of a family in uniform is something that Airman Paver found to be consistent throughout the entire wing.

"At the base Christmas party I got to see how big of a family this wing is," he said. "It's not just working with a bunch of people. The 182nd is one giant family. The 182nd is an outstanding wing."
Similarly, his father said he enjoys working at the wing because of the unit members' professionalism and the constant "get the job done" attitude he sees in members of all ranks.

Both Pavers recommend potential recruits make the decision to serve for themselves, and not to join just to follow a parent's footsteps.

"No matter what we do in the military, you may be asked to give your life for your country. So, it's a decision I think each person must come upon themselves," said Sgt. Paver.

His son agreed. "Don't join until you're ready," he said.

Hagel Meets With Defense Ministers of Spain, Italy, Denmark



By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

BRUSSELS, Feb. 27, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met here yesterday with defense ministers from Spain, Italy and Denmark on the sidelines of the two-day NATO defense ministers conference, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

Today, on the final day of the meeting, the ministers will discuss defense capacity building, cyber defense and maritime security, along with NATO’s Connected Forces Initiative, which involves improving operational collaboration with other military forces, according to NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu.

Also today, the defense ministers will meet with International Security Assistance Force contributing partners and Afghanistan’s defense minister, Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, she said.

During Hagel’s meeting with Spanish Defense Minister Dr. Pedro Morenes, they discussed the strength of the U.S.-Spain military relationship and opportunities to broaden the relationship bilaterally and through the NATO alliance, Kirby said.

The defense secretary thanked Morenes for Spain's hosting of U.S. ballistic missile defense-capable ships at Rota and for support Spain has provided for U.S. Marines at Moron.

Hagel also expressed appreciation for Spain's ongoing commitment to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan.

Both leaders talked about security challenges in Africa, pledged to continue the dialogue and expressed interest in improving bilateral training opportunities, especially in the maritime environment, the Pentagon spokesman said.

In the secretary’s meeting with Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti, the defense leaders discussed a range of mutual security issues, including political unrest in Ukraine and ongoing operations in Afghanistan, Kirby said.

Hagel thanked Pinotti for her leadership and Italy’s strong contributions to the NATO alliance, including the ISAF mission. He also pledged to continue to seek ways to deepen the bilateral relationship with Italy.

During his meeting with Danish Defense Minister Nicolai Wammen, Hagel thanked the minister for his leadership and for helping the United States and Denmark maintain a close military-to-military relationship. The secretary expressed gratitude for Denmark's leadership and capabilities in the future transfer of chemical materials out of Syria, Kirby said. The two leaders discussed the importance of the Arctic and promised to continue consulting as both nations explore ways to deal with the challenges of climate change in that region, he added.

Hagel and Wammen also discussed regional challenges in the Asia-Pacific region, political unrest in Ukraine, and the NATO ISAF mission in Afghanistan, the Pentagon spokesman said.

Mission Spotlight: HVAC/R technicians keep Airmen cool

by Airman 1st Class Deana Heitzman
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


2/27/2014 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Every day, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technicians contribute to a positive work atmosphere for Airmen by maintaining HVAC systems throughout Aviano.

By properly maintaining the more than 1,700 HVAC systems here, technicians are able to reduce the risk of extreme temperature changes in work centers, which helps maintain a more productive work experience for all Team Aviano.

"A lot of our job is quality of life," said Master Sgt. Christopher Cluff, 31st Civil Engineer Squadron NCO in charge of HVAC/R. "In general, people do not want to work in a cold or hot environment, and this could potentially affect the overall mission due to Airmen experiencing uncomfortable working conditions."

While helping to ensure Team Aviano stays cool and comfortable, HVAC/R personnel also work around the clock to ensure important communications equipment stays properly ventilated.

"Our primary concerns are the communication buildings that contain rooms filled with electronics including instrument landing systems," said Cluff. "These electronics produce massive amounts of heat and it is our job to provide the right amount of air conditioning so nothing overheats. If it overheats, they would shut down and not work."

Electronics temperatures should be maintained at less than 85 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Cluff. When electronics starts exceeding that threshold, the communication squadron begins to shut down equipment, which can cause the base to lose connectivity. It is up to the HVAC/R team to maintain the temperature so the base can continue to communicate effectively.

The HVAC/R team receives 20 to 30 work orders daily, ranging from lack of hot water in a building to emergency requests for communication buildings. The challenging part of processing all the daily work orders is finding the available Airmen for the job.

According to Cluff, there are only 13 qualified HVAC/R technicians for the more than 1,700 facilities throughout Aviano, which can be overwhelming at times.

"Due to lack of manning we try to focus on emergencies, preventative maintenance and anything that directly affects the base," said Cluff. "We ask people to generally understand that even though they may be uncomfortable in their offices for a while, we still have Airmen taking care of jobs day-in and day-out."

Even though HVAC/R technicians experience long working days, they gain knowledge and a sense of brotherhood from constantly working together on projects.

"I enjoy the camaraderie between the Airmen in the shop," said Cluff. "I love to see the difference our Airmen make to the base on a day-to-day basis. When they come back at the end of the day after completing the job, the look of satisfaction on their faces makes my job easier and moves toward completing our mission."

Fairchild completes UEI Capstone event

by Airman 1st Class Janelle PatiƱo
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


2/26/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Team Fairchild, the third base in Air Mobility Command to go through an inspection and the first base of a KC-135 Total Force Integration organization under the new Air Force Inspection System called the Unit Effectiveness Inspection, earned an initial rating of, 'Effective' for both the 92nd and 141st Air Refueling Wings.

A few indications in being an effective base are as follows: requirements are met in all mission areas and are managed in an effective and compliant manner, personnel are proficient, leaders treat Airmen with respect and provide a healthy and safe work environment, Commander's Inspection Program provides the command chain an accurate, adequate and relevant picture of unit performance, etc.

"A rating of 'Effective' means that the base is proficient and mission capable in all areas of being in the Air Force," said Lt. Col. David Parlotz, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Inspector General. "This base shows that we are above the line when it comes to AMC because of having fewer discrepancies and a lot more strengths."

With the new UEI, Fairchild will not have any major inspections until the next one in two years.

"They basically rolled all other minor inspections into this one which makes it important for the base," said Parlotz. "During the two-year cycle, wing and unit commanders along with other personnel are responsible for inspecting their own programs and noting discrepancies in the Management Internal Control Toolset as often as possible."

The inspection basically has two report cards that get graded, which include the base and higher headquarters. It is based on how well the communication, support and relationship is between the two.

"This new system is an effective way of helping us voice out the things we need to AMC leadership on how to improve and support the both the 92nd and 141st ARW to stay mission ready," Parlotz said. "Compared to all other previous inspections, having the ability to show higher headquarters how well we are doing and vice versa is all new."

The UEI is graded in a five-tier scale used to grade every base which goes from ineffective, marginally effective, effective, and highly effective to outstanding. It also consists of four major graded areas such as Managing Resources, Leading People, Improving the Unit and Executing the Mission.

In addition to the inspection, the AMC inspector general also recognized multiple top performers from the base, which includes giving out nine IG coins, four certificates of recognition and six team accolades.

The recipients of the IG coins are: Lt. Col. David Parlotz, 92nd ARW, 1st Lt. Katelyn Smith, 92nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron, Tech. Sgt. Shane Sweeney, 92nd ARW, Staff Sgt. Kyle Eisenbarth, 92nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, Staff Sgt. Jason Markham, 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, Staff Sgt. Christopher Moore, 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Staff Sgt. Joshua Pagel, 92nd Maintenance Squadron, Senior Airman Kimberly Carter, 92nd Comptroller Squadron, Senior Airman Jahrod Cyrus, 92nd Comptroller Squadron and Airman 1st Class Eric LaPlante, 92nd Medical Support Squadron.

The recipients of the certificates of recognition are: Maj. Philip Postell, 93rd ARS, Capt. Dana Stockton, 92nd Operations Support Squadron, Capt. John Welch, 92nd ARW, Capt. Matthew Willerick, 92nd Medical Operations Squadron, Tech. Sgt. Noel Hachtel, 92nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, Staff Sgt. Gerson Hernandez, 92nd Force Support Squadron, Staff Sgt. Jason Mayers, 92nd LRS, Senior Airman Jeffrey Watson, 92nd ARS and Ms. Lana Jones, 92nd MDSS.

The teams recognized for their outstanding performance are: 92nd Weather Flight Team, AFSO 21 Alert Force Team, Individual Protective Equipment Team, Inspector General Team, Personnel Redeployment Team, Radio Frequency Transmission Team, and Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape Injury Reduction Program Team.

Col. Brian Newberry, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, commended and thanked Fairchild Airmen for their hard work over the past two months in preparation of the inspection.

"The AMC IG Team Chief said it best: 'Great Wing... highly motivated Airmen....' and highlighted 13 strengths across our Wing," Newberry said. " We do have some "significant" write-ups and many minors we will absolutely laser focus on to make our Wing better, but overall we are absolutely effective at answering our nation's call."

Manas KC-135s complete final mission, leave Kyrgyzstan

by Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs


2/27/2014 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan (AFNS) -- The Transit Center's final aerial refueling mission over Afghanistan landed here Feb. 24, completing the end of an era.

After six hours of traveling, refueling A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, and F-16 Fighting Falcons, the KC-135 Stratotanker touched down to a fanfare of saluting Airmen.

Col. Mike Seiler, the 376th Expeditionary Operations Group commander, piloted the historical flight.

"It's pretty special to be able to say that we were able to fly on the last sortie out of Manas," Seiler said. "When (I) think about it, we flew our last sortie just like we did our first one--fighter support, troops in contact. ... I got chills rolling down the runway for the last time."

Over the last 12.5 years here, KC-135s flew 33,500 sorties that led to 135,000 aircraft refueled with more than 12.2 billion gallons of fuel delivered, enough to fill 9,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

"I wish there was an honest way to track how many times a tanker mission has directly affected troops on the ground, " Seiler said.

Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Bishop, the 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron superintendent, was the boom for the final mission.

"It all comes down to people ... Airmen with a big 'A,'" Bishop said. "This team -- I would go to war with them anytime."

Patrol Squadron 9 and Turkish Maritime Patrol Forces Exchange Tactics in East Med




From Patrol Squadron 9 Public Affairs

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (NNS) -- Members of the Turkish armed forces joined Patrol Squadron (VP) 9 Sailors to exchange maritime patrol tactics and techniques during a one-week detachment at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Feb. 24.

The exchange included three flights, which helped build Maritime Domain Awareness for NATO forces in the Eastern Mediterranean. Two members of the Turkish Naval Forces flew aboard a U.S. Navy P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft to share their experiences with the American crew.

"Working with professionals from other countries who do the same mission is always eye-opening," said Naval Aircrewman Operator 1st Class (AW) Beau Brian, a member of the U.S. exchange crew.

The flights included maritime security tasking for the maritime patrol aircraft, along with crew drills and simulated emergency procedures. VP-9's Officer in Charge and Mission Commander, Lt. Cmdr. Jerod Konowal planned the missions alongside his Turkish counterpart, Lt. Levent Yaar.

"I was very impressed with the insights that the Turks shared," said Konowal.

The P-3 detachment to Turkey during VP-9's deployment in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations serves as an important event in promoting and strengthening maritime partnerships with European nations.

VP-9 is assigned to Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 2, Marine Corps Base Hawaii. The squadron consists of 71 officers and 276 enlisted personnel who maintain and operate eight P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft.

The squadron is forward deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations and is currently assigned to Commander, Task Force 67, responsible for tactical control of deployed maritime patrol and reconnaissance squadrons throughout the European and African areas of responsibility.

Navy Divers Achieve Pre-Deployment Milestone in Key West



By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Wyatt Huggett and Mass Communication Specialist 2rd Class Jared Aldape

KEY WEST, Fla. (NNS) -- Navy divers traded white snow for white sands, clear water, and diving and are now one step closer for deploying having completed their unit level training in Key West, Fla., Feb. 1-24.

Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2's MDS Co. 2-3 and MDS Co. 2-4 both left snow ridden Virginia Beach, Va. earlier this month and were able to reach deeper and more advanced dives in Key West as the local conditions typically provide a safe visibility range of 50 feet between trainee and facilitators.

"[Key West] gives our divers concentrated training away from home as well as an environment that enables them to see what correct procedures look like when they're in the water," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 James J. Hordinski, training and readiness officer at MDSU2. "If they ever encounter problems they will know what 'right' looks like and how to handle those issues."

This unit-level training is important for the MDS Companies as they advance towards certification through MDSU2 and become ready to deploy.

"This is part of their fleet readiness training plan each mobile dive and salvage company goes through in preparation for upcoming deployments," said Hordinski.

"We have to continue to train so that we can maintain a standard in all aspects of our operations and our mission requirements. We have to be able to fulfill all mission areas at all times so this training is to develop and sustain the skill sets required to complete that mission."

During their time in Key West, divers trained with a variety of dive rigs to demonstrate proficiency on equipment they may use while operating in a deployed environment.

"In Key West, we are doing a mixture of different types of diving; surface supplied air diving, surface supplied mixed gas diving, MK16 diving, and SCUBA," said Navy Diver 2nd Class Jonathan Pounders, a diver assigned to MDS Co. 2-3.

During mixed gas dives, for example, divers use a helium and oxygen mixture (HeO2) to submerge to deeper depths. With this type of diving, Navy divers must slowly ascend to the surface to allow their bodies to decompress and acclimate safely.

"Many times, things that need to be salvaged out of the ocean are deep, and with that kind of diving come decompression obligations," said Pounders.

Senior Chief Navy Diver Steve Askew, MDS Co. 2-3 master diver, explained the importance of mastering all dive stations whether it's the dive rigs themselves,
operating the console that supplies the diver's air, supervising the dive, or tending the divers.

"The team needs to function as a unit to make sure everyone is trained so we can effectively go out and complete missions."

No matter what station they operated, all Navy Divers conducted an average of three to five dives a day while descending to depths below 100 feet, where HeO2 is needed, and to as deep as 195 feet to successfully complete their unit level training as a team.

While diving in any capacity can be dangerous, the steps taken to properly train and build the confidence of Navy divers mitigates many of the hazards divers face in real world salvage operations.

"During any dive the dangers range from injury, decompression sickness, arterial gas embolisms, as well as a myriad of things that are well defined within the [U.S. Navy] dive manual," said Hordinski. "We do our best to ensure that the divers' heads are in the game during any dive operation. The training prepares them for the operational situations that they may encounter along the road."

Navy divers observe strict standards when conducting dive operations where safety is routine and reinforced throughout their careers.

"Being safe is the most important part of the training, it takes the entire team, everybody is here to ensure all the divers are getting the best training while being as safe as possible," said Askew.

Navy divers trained aboard rescue and salvage ship USNS Grapple (T-ARS 53). Grapple, one of four Navy rescue and salvage ships owned by Military Sealift Command, is operated by 26 civil service mariners and four military personnel.

"We wouldn't be doing the training without Grapple," said Pounders. "It's home base, it's where we plan our dives, and it's where we execute our dives. Everything that we are doing out here is based off this ship."

"Grapple provides fixed support for diving operations," said Timothy Kelly, ship's master. "We have a recompression chamber, we have wenches that will raise and lower the diving stages, we are able to recover heavy materials off the bottom using our 40-ton boom and we have berthing available to support a mobile dive and salvage team."

Having completed their unit-level training milestone, MDS Co. 2-3 and MDS Co. 2-4 will now prepare for their final evaluation problem scheduled for later this spring.

MDSU 2 is an expeditionary mobile unit homeported at Joint Expeditionary Base, Little Creek-Ft. Story in Virginia Beach, Va. They previously conducted successful salvage operations supporting TWA Flight 800, Swiss Air Flight 111, the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, the I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapse in Minnesota, the Civil War ironclads USS Monitor, CSS Georgia, and recovery of downed F-16Cs off the coast of Italy and Virginia.