Military News

Friday, February 28, 2014

Force Improvement Program team makes final stop at Warren

by Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs


2/25/2014 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo.  -- The Force Improvement Program team made their last stop in a tour of Air Force Global Strike Command missile wings Feb. 23 as they arrived here to conduct their final interviews and compile their data.

The FIP was created as an aggressive, action-oriented effort with the goal of making rapid and substantial change to the ICBM mission. Designed from the ground up, the FIP is a field-level initiative to draw on the experiences of Airmen at all levels.

The Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force tasked AFGSC commander, Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, to create the team and head the program, said Lt. Col. Cynthia Gunderson, 321st Missile Squadron commander and Wing point of contact for the team's visit to Warren. The overall goal is to work with the Airmen of AFGSC and bring attention to various issues that are brought up.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for our Airmen here at F.E. Warren to have their voices heard to make meaningful change to the mission we carry out every day," said Lt. Col. Peter Lex, 90th Missile Security Forces commander and 90th Security Forces Group representative.

The team is comprised of Airmen from each of the three ICBM wings, with augmentation from AFGSC, the U.S. Navy, and the 576th Flight Test Squadron and 381st Training Group from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

"Each organization was tasked to provide personnel to serve with the team. The Force Improvement Program team is broken into smaller Functional Cultural Working Groups - operations, maintenance, security forces, mission support and helicopter operations," Lex said.

The team made a circuit through the AFGSC bases, traveling from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., for initial training at the Command headquarters, to Minot AFB, N.D., and Malmstrom AFB, Mont., to conduct interviews with Airmen working in the field. These interviews assessed their perceptions, ideas and any issues they have seen while doing their daily mission. The team is now here to get input from Warren Airmen.

"The team is here to talk with Airmen and look at the processes of the base and try to fix any issues that we are facing," Gunderson said.

The team conducted their final interviews Feb. 24 and 25 with Airmen from the 90th Missile Wing, Gunderson said. On Feb. 26, the team will begin compiling their data and writing the reports that will be presented to Gen. Wilson.

Face of Defense: Warrant Officer Mentors Soldiers, Students



By Army Spc. Aaron Ellerman
1st Theater Sustainment Command

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Feb. 27, 2014 – An Army Reserve soldier deployed here is a teacher in civilian life, and he puts those skills to work mentoring younger soldiers.

“I do it for the youth,” said Warrant Officer Randy Jones, utilities operations and maintenance technician officer for the 760th Engineer Company out of Marion, Va. “There’s just no substitute for being able to pass your knowledge to the next generation and help make a difference in a young adult’s life.”

Jones said he’s always happy when something happens to show him his mentorship took hold. “It’s a great feeling when a student you taught 15 years ago calls you on the phone and thanks you and invites you out to dinner with their family,” he said.

Jones, an Asheville, N.C., native, was 17 when he joined the Army in 1986. After spending two years on active duty, he was released from service during a force reduction and decided to go into the construction business like the rest of his family.

While working in the industry, Jones said, he gained many certifications and licenses and was content making his career in construction. But that all changed one day while he was reading a newspaper.

“I really don’t know what got me into teaching,” he said. “I was happy at my current job, but saw an ad in the paper one day for a teaching position and applied. The next thing I knew, I was hired, and it’s turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Although his primary focus is on teaching, Jones said, he still operates a construction business and has built more than 50 homes in the past 15 years. “Being an educator is great,” he said. “Not only do I get to teach what I love doing, but the hours are flexible enough to allow me to continue my own business.”

Jones has taught workforce development, formerly known as “shop,” to high school students in Winston-Salem, N.C., for the past 18 years. He said he always has urged his students to look into joining the military for the benefits and experience it provides.

“I advise all my students to look into all their career options when they finish their schooling and point out the many benefits the military has to offer,” he said. “Nearly 20 years after I first joined, I began thinking, ‘Hey why don’t I take my own advice?’”

Since joining the Army again, Jones has served as a drill sergeant and warrant officer, which has given him the chance to continue to teach. He said he takes a similar approach to teaching both soldiers and students.

“To me, there is no difference in teaching a high school student or a soldier,” Jones said. “I can be as hard on them as I need to be, but at the end of the day, I always make sure to tell them they are doing a good job.”

Army Spc. Christopher Fussell, a horizontal construction engineer with the 124th Engineer Company, said he benefits from the mentorship he gets from Jones. “I feel comfortable and confident when he is teaching me something new,” Fussell added.

Jones said his many years of teaching have taught him how to be patient.

“‘Chief’ is a great mentor,” said Army Pfc. Christopher Carter, a carpentry and masonry specialist with the 1223rd Engineer Company. “He watches how we do things and gives us feedback showing us a safer and more efficient way, if possible.”

It’s important to work with his students until they get it right, and it’s his job to ensure that happens, Jones said. Teaching poses numerous challenges, he said, but all can be overcome with a little bit of effort.”

“The biggest challenge in teaching is showing the student what they are capable of, by building their confidence they can start to believe in themselves,” Jones said. “Sometimes it takes a little longer, but it’s definitely worth the effort.”

“[Jones] has taught us to take pride in our work and pay close attention to detail,” said Army Spc. Laquan Johnson, a carpentry and masonry specialist with the 760th.

Jones works with six other soldiers at the 489th Engineer Battalion’s wood shop.

“I’m really proud of my soldiers working in the shop,” he said. “They have managed to produce some great works and have really come together as a family, despite being from all over the U.S.”

Jones noted that teaching isn’t a one-way street. He said he has learned a lot from his soldiers during this deployment and looks forward to getting back home to see his family and start teaching another group of students.

“I never thought I would be a teacher, but looking back, I can’t imagine doing anything else but teaching,” he said.

"Grey Matters": a lesson in consent

By: Airman 1st Class Alex Echols
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


2/27/2014 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 325th Fighter Wing Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office, Tyndall's Victim Advocates, the 325th FW Legal office and the Area Defense Counsel hosted a mock trial Feb. 25 at the base support court room.

"Grey Matters" was a realistic, condensed sexual assault trial and intended to teach the audience as well as the jury, the proceedings and intensity of an actual court-martial and how grey the area of consent is.

"The whole purpose was to define consent and to show that a sexual assault case is never as black-and-white as we would like it to be," said 1st Lt. Heather Van Pinxteren, 325th Force Support Squadron readiness officer. "We need to understand that beyond all of the gray, it boils down to whether or not there is consent and the ability to provide consent."

To keep things as true to life as possible, members of the Legal office played the prosecution and the Area Defense Counsel acted as the legal representation for the defendant.

"It's important for wide exposure to realize that anybody can put themselves in a situation where they might be on trial," said Capt. Cortney Zuercher, 325th FW ADC. "It's important to get this message out as a deterrent and to educate everybody on base to keep them from ever making it inside this courtroom."

VAs played the roles of the alleged victim, her witness, the defendant and a member of the jury.

"It was scary and uncomfortable," said Staff Sgt. Sabrina K. Overmyer, 325th Medical Group preventive dentistry NCO in charge and alleged victim. "It felt real. It felt like, if it wasn't me, it could have happened to someone I know."

Approximately 30 Team Tyndall spectators were in attendance.

"I think it's first hand education," said Airman 1st Class Sarah Webb, 325th Communications Squadron enterprise information management technician. "We have briefings where we're told don't do this or watch out for that, but you never see what can happen. I think it provides that education of what can happen."

Grey Matters was the first of many upcoming mock trials. The SAPR, VA, ADC and Legal Office plan to help educate the Tyndall population one trial at a time.

Syria Slow in Meeting Obligations, DOD Spokesman Says



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

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2014 – Chemical materials designated for destruction are slowly being transported for consolidation at the Syrian port of Latakia, and the United States is urging the Syrian government to accelerate this process, Defense Department spokesman Army Col. Steven Warren told reporters here today.

The U.S. vessel MV Cape Ray has been specially fitted to accommodate destruction of the Syrian chemical materials, and it arrived Feb. 13 in Rota, Spain, to stand by for the mission.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced yesterday that the Syrian government had transported a fourth shipment of chemical materials to Latakia, Warren said. This shipment contained sulfur mustard, he added.

“Of note,” Warren said, “the materials in this shipment are the first which will ultimately be transloaded to the Cape Ray for follow-on destruction.”

The United States continues to urge the Syrian government to meet its obligation and accelerate efforts to deliver the entire declared stockpile to Latakia for transportation and destruction, Warren said. The plan for transloading the chemical weapons onto the Cape Ray, he added, further increase the need for Syria hasten its efforts.

“The plan is that there will be one transload onto the Cape Ray,” he said. “So we have to wait until all the chemicals are out of Syria and on the Danish or Norwegian ships. They’ll then be moved onto the Cape Ray … [and] then be destroyed. We are calling on the Syrians to accelerate their movement of these chemical weapons into the port of Latakia so we can get them all onto the Danish and Norwegian ships and transload them onto the Cape Ray.”

The Syrians, he noted, have obligations that they need to live up to. “These are international obligations, and I know they’ve submitted a plan for a 100-day long extension, and we find that unacceptable,” Warren said. “They have to live up to their obligation. They have to get those chemical weapons out of the country so we can destroy them.”

The DOD spokesman also provided observations on North Korean missile tests conducted yesterday, and the situation in Ukraine.

North Korea launched several short-range scud missiles late last night, Warren said. They impacted off North Korea’s east coast and didn’t appear to target anyone, he added.

“We view this as an unannounced weapons test we see somewhat regularly,” Warren said, noting two to four missiles were launched.

Meanwhile, Warren said, officials are monitoring developments in Ukraine closely. He affirmed America’s strong support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“We expect other nations to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and avoid provocative actions,” Warren said. “We expect Russia to be transparent about its activities, particularly its recently announced training exercise. We urge them not to take any steps that could be misinterpreted or lead to miscalculation during this delicate time.”

Port of Portland selected as Oregon National Guard Employer of the Year

by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel
142nd Fighter Wing


2/25/2014 - PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore. -- The Commander of the 142nd Fighter Wing here welcomed leaders and other staff members from the Port of Portland Thursday to recognize the Port of Portland for being selected as the Oregon Air National Guard's 2013 Employer of the Year.

"This is a great turn out and an extraordinary honor to have you with us today Mr. Wyatt, and others from the Port [of Portland] here for this occasion," said Col. Rick Wedan, 142nd FW commander.

The Port of Portland was chosen based on a several factors to include; "providing support to National Guard members through financial support and incentives, patriotic partnerships, and internal communications and business accommodations," the award read.

"The Port of Portland is very supportive of its employees, some of which are Oregon Air National Guard members," said Wedan.

Several of those members were in attendance for the event, including: Col. Mark Crosby who is the Port of Portland's Chief of Public Safety and the Director of the State Partnership program, Lt. Col. Donna Prigmore who is the Customer service manager for the Port of Portland and the Commander of the 142nd Force Support Squadron, Maj. Kori Nobel who is the Port of Portland's Emergency Program Manager as well as the Assistant Director of Operations for the 116th Air Control Squadron. As a drill status fireman with the 142nd Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron, Master Sgt. Preston Scott is also a full time Lieutenant with the Port of Portland Fire Department, and Staff Sgt. Dan Gates is an inspection and training assistant with the Port of Portland Fire Department as well, and is a member of the 142nd Fighter Wing Medical Group.

"When we first began planning this event several weeks ago, it was to present you [Port of Portland] with the 142nd Fighter Wing Employer of the Year award, but as the weeks passed during our coordination process, overall state winners were selected, and you won that award as well," said Wedan.

In accepting the award for the Port of Portland, Bill Wyatt, Executive Director of the Port of Portland, elaborated on the unique connection with the Oregon National Guard, "We have such a symbolic relationship with the guard, and to be the Employer of the Year probably means more to us than it would to many, many other employers."

"You can see us every day, we can see you every day and we can year you every day and we like that," he said, amid laughter from the audience attending the ceremony.

In January of 2013, the Port of Portland signed a 50-year lease with the Oregon National Guard.

We wanted to do this right, it took us 15 years to get to 50 years, said Wyatt.

Some of the other Port of Portland's accomplishments are; rent-free space for the new USO facility at the Portland International Airport, development of a military appreciation program for military travelers, and the partnership with Alaska Airlines for the implementation of a Fallen Soldier Program which honors and respects all fallen service members whose remains arrive or pass through Portland International Airport.

The Port of Portland handled 14.3 million passengers in 2012, and has nonstop service to the top 25 markets in the U.S., with nonstop international service to Tokyo, Amsterdam, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. The Port of Portland has both domestic and international nonstop cargo service.

The Oregon Air National Guard Employer of the Year Award program began in 2002, as a way for Oregon Airmen to recognize the support of their full-time employers.

While thanking those in attendance, Wyatt closed his remarks once again acknowledging the Oregon National Guard, "This really means a lot to us and is a great honor for all of us at the Port."

Getting the word back home has never been easier

by Senior Airman Jette Carr
Air Force News Service


2/27/2014 - FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS)  -- The Joint Hometown News Service launched a new online submission system Feb. 17, making it easier for service members and Department of Defense civilians to publicize achievements such as promotions and decorations, to their local media outlets.

The new hometown news release submission program is now fully digitized, and includes a feature that provides the service member with a unique link to show their achievements via social media.

"This new system is really a quantum leap forward for the Joint Hometown News Service," said Michael Tolzmann, the chief of the print operation division with the JHNS. "We've gone from the 1980s, where paper and the U.S. postal system were the means to acquire information, to an online system that is modern, easy to use and up to date, with real-time feedback."

The new system will allow the JHNS team to release newly-submitted stories to the hometown newspapers the same day or within a week, depending on the number of submissions, Tolzmann said.

To fill out a hometown news release, visit https://jhns.release.dma.mil/public. After submission to the news outlets, individual service members can expect to receive an email with information on which publications the news release was sent to and links to the published story.

Master Sgt. Brett Fincher, the NCO in charge of software development for DMA, worked closely with the JHNS for two years to build the simplistic processing system.

Rick Blackburn, the director of the Joint Hometown News Service, hopes the new interface will allow individuals easier access and better use of the program.

"The hometown news release makes every member of the Air Force a spokesman for their service and secondly, it gives people back home an idea of what their Air Force is doing and the accomplishments of the hometown person who's involved," Blackburn said.

AF finalizing details for two officer force management programs

by Debbie Gildea
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs


2/28/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- Details for implementation of two fiscal 2014 officer force management programs announced in December are being finalized to allow Air Force officials to release eligibility criteria, Air Force Personnel Center officials said today.

Details regarding the reduction in force board, coupled with voluntary separation pay, and the force shaping board are expected to be released within the next two weeks, said Col. Joe Atkins, the AFPC operations division chief.

"We understand that because the programs were addressed in a Dec. 11 news story, many potentially eligible officers are waiting for the details so that they can make some critical career decisions," Atkins said. "Air Staff and AFPC experts are working aggressively to refine the eligibility criteria and provide accurate information as quickly as possible. This still allows an eligible officer a three-month window to apply for voluntary separation programs."

The application window for other force management programs already announced, such as officer and enlisted Temporary Early Retirement Authority and enlisted voluntary separation pay, remain the same.

To see all available FY14 force management programs, go to myPers at https://mypers.af.mil and enter FY14 Force Management Program in the search window.

Kicking off self-defense on Malmstrom

by Senior Airman Cortney Paxton
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs


2/28/2014 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Nearly 30 Team Malmstrom members gathered at the base fitness center Feb. 22 to attend a Gracie Defense Systems kickoff seminar aimed to promote self-defense among the base population.

Taught by on-base GDS pink-belt certified instructors, the two-hour class was a way for anyone interested to get a taste of the 15-technique course curriculum.

"We're having a two-hour kickoff seminar to introduce the base to Gracie Academy's Gracie Defense System," said Tina Steffen, Malmstrom dependent and GDS instructor. "It's a program they designed specifically for the Air Force to teach people how to combat sexual assault... They realized a couple of years ago that the incidents of sexual assault within the Air Force were high and they felt they could do something, and that's what we're doing today. We're sharing six of the 15 techniques that the Gracie Academy has determined through working with law-enforcement officials that are the most likely scenarios that could happen."

During the seminar, participants were taught combat base, base get up, push base, pull base, wrist releases, one front-choke defense and a trap-and-roll technique. Combat base is a stance, or posture, developed to make an individual more sturdy and stable, and base get up is the technique used to get up off of the ground into a combat base stance. Push and pull base are techniques used to prevent being pushed or pulled into a secluded space and wrist releases are used to release an attacker's grip from a wrist. The front-choke defense taught participants how to get out of a choking scenario, and the trap-and-roll defense taught them what to do if an attacker is on top of them.

The kickoff event was an introduction to a self-defense class that will be taught on Malmstrom Air Force Base every Saturday at 10 a.m. and Tuesday at 6 p.m. starting March 1. One cycle, which teaches all 15 techniques, consists of 10 classes. Successful completion of the GDS program, which would include a video test sent into the Gracie Academy for review, will be awarded with a pink belt for the testing individual. Anyone interested in obtaining their pink belts are encouraged to take the 10-class cycle at least four times to be efficient enough to test.

"You don't have to take the seminar to start taking the classes, and you don't have to take the classes after you've taken the seminar," Steffen said. "[Self-defense] makes a stronger person, not only physically, but mentally. I think everybody should know what to do if somebody grabs you, what to do if somebody is approaching you so that they don't get close enough to grab you, what to do if somebody is sitting on you and they're bigger than you and want to get away."

The GDS self-defense course is taught based on the methods and techniques used in Gracie, or Brazilian, Jiu-Jitsu created by the Gracie family.

"The Grand Master Hélio Gracie, who created Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, was smaller than most of his opponents so Gracie Jiu-Jitsu... was created to allow a smaller opponent to overcome his adversary," said 1st Lt. Jason Sawyers, 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron flight commander. "I think that these specific techniques in the GDS course are potentially lifesaving, so it's invaluable... Brazilian Jui-Jitsu is a very useful tool as far as self-defense goes, but it also teaches you discipline and a lot of these folks here get great workouts. It doesn't just teach you self-defense in the physical aspect, it also teaches the mental preparedness and the confidence to go out and make sure that you feel secure. For a lot of potential victims and also victims out there, it's very important to be able to leave their house and feel confident that they can handle certain situations that can come up."

According to Sawyers, the on-base instructors are trying to expand the GDS course into the surrounding communities. They've contacted Montana State University in hopes of starting a class for the college students.

"We just want to promote a community of people who accept that it's a problem and that there are definitely prevention techniques out there," Sawyers said. "It's absolutely free - we're not interested in any money, we just want to help people to defend themselves if a situation arises and to be confident that they can go out there and handle the situation."

The kickoff event ended up being a tremendous success with individuals learning specific techniques that could help defend themselves in an adverse situation.

"It's been a great experience," said Maj. Marianne Nassef, Air Force Reserve Command chaplain. "I've actually enjoyed learning all of the different techniques, and it's really a lot easier than I thought it would be. I thought it was going to be a lot more complicated, but what they've been teaching us are really easy things that you can practice at home. I really appreciate them offering it."

For more information on Malmstrom's Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, visit their official facebook page at www.facebook.com/malmstromgraciejiujitsu, their blog at www.gfmtgraciejiujitsu.blogspot.com or via email at gfmtgjj@gmail.com.

Sailors, Marines in Hawaii are Honored for Individual Augmentee Service




By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Rose Forest, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Hawaii

HONOLULU (NNS) -- More than 62 Hawaii-based Sailors and Marines and their families were recognized for their service as individual augmentees (IAs) during the sixth annual "Boots on the Ground" IA recognition luncheon held Feb. 21 at the Ala Moana Hotel.

Hosted by the Honolulu Council Navy League and presented by Partners in Patriotism, the luncheon recognized service members who deployed away from their command to regions in need of a unique skill that they possessed.

"This is an opportunity to call out individuals and recognize what they have done," said Rear Adm. Robert P. Girrier, deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet. "The name says it all; it was 'individuals' who came forward to 'augment' critical shortfalls in certain mission areas."

"It's the nature of our force," said Girrier. "This volunteer force that we have created over the decades has some incredible talent at the individual level. This is what you get when you have a professional force."

Since 2002, more than 114,000 active and Reserve Sailors and Marines have served on IA deployments. They leave their normal military duties to fill critical jobs in locations around the world.

"It was a huge learning experience for me," said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Tara Myles. "That's why I volunteered. I wanted to learn and see a different aspect of my rate."

More than 1,400 IA Sailors have been awarded the Bronze Star, and nearly 20,000 have been awarded meritorious service awards of various types.

The Navy League is a civilian non-profit organization that hosted the luncheon to give the Marines and Sailors who served as individual augmentees recognition for their services.

AF improves its personnel reliability program




By Master Sgt. Angelita Colón-Francia and Joel Fortner, Air Force Public Affairs Agency Operating 

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Changes are coming to the Air Force’s program used to ensure personnel who perform nuclear-related duties are of sound mind and body on the job.

The decades-old Personnel Reliability Program, or PRP, is used by all branches of service with duties tied to nuclear weapons to ensure personnel are reliable to perform nuclear-related responsibilities, and its standards apply on and off duty, said Col. Zannis Pappas, the chief, Functional Authority Division and Nuclear & Missile Operations career field manager.

“Certifying officials, who are normally commanders, constantly assess their folks, monitor the program, and watch for problems,” he said. “The whole base is tied into PRP monitoring, from our commander’s and supervisors, to the medical professionals and personnel agencies to a member’s peers and each individual on PRP.”

Everyone on PRP is obligated to report any changes in their work life or personal life that could affect their performance or affect their peers, Pappas said.

“If you were in a non-PRP job, you might not need to report a pending divorce to your unit commander,” he said. “If you are in a PRP job, you are required to do so.”

The colonel said the program is essential, but the time has come to streamline it to ease management and implementation.

To give a sense of the size and scope of the program, in 2012, more than 12,000 Air Force personnel were on PRP, requiring nearly 38,000 hours of base-level workload for program management and execution by the commanders, unit PRP monitors, medical and personnel agencies.

In April of 2013, the Defense, Acquisition, Technology and Logistics undersecretary released the "Follow-on Review of the Air Force Nuclear Enterprise" by the Defense Science Board that, Pappas said, along with comments made by Airmen to the Air Force’s 2012 internal assessment of the Nuclear Enterprise, “highlighted the administrative burden the PRP has levied on our Airmen and made it clear that there were areas for improvement.”

This kicked off a major effort to improve the program, Pappas said.

Improvements included re-writing the Air Force manual on PRP (now AFMAN 13-501) to establish a consistent and understood standard across the Air Force, re-emphasizing PRP is a commander’s program and eliminating the need for supplemental PRP guidance below the headquarters Air Force level, Pappas said.

Additionally, it will clarify medical PRP guidance focused on ensuring members are physically and mentally fit for nuclear duty rather than an overly bureaucratic program.

The colonel explained PRP is important because it is a way to ensure something very subjective, such as an individual’s reliability and ability to do nuclear-related work, is objectively evaluated, managed and documented.

“Our rule of thumb is, when in doubt, report it,” Pappas said. “If a PRP individual is off their A-game for any reason, or has any life event that might distract them or cause their leadership to doubt their reliability with nuclear-related duties like something medical, financial, relationship, or legal, that individual or any other individual aware of the life event is expected to report it.”