Military News

Monday, March 03, 2014

DOD Puts Military-to-military Activities With Russia on Hold



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Mar. 3, 2014 – The Defense Department has “put on hold” military-to-military activities with Russia, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said this evening.

In a statement released to reporters, Kirby said the suspended activities include exercises, bilateral meetings, port visits and planning conferences.

Although the Defense Department finds value in the military-to-military relationship developed in recent years with the Russian Federation to increase transparency, build understanding and reduce the risk of military miscalculation, Kirby said, “we have, in light of recent events in Ukraine, put on hold all military-to-military engagements between the United States and Russia.”

The Defense Department is closely monitoring the situation and remains in close contact with the State Department and other government agencies, as well as with allies, partners and NATO, the admiral said. “We call on Russia to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine and for Russian forces in Crimea to return to their bases, as required under the agreements governing the Russia Black Sea Fleet,” he added.

Though some media outlets are speculating on possible ship movements in the region, Kirby said, there has been no change to U.S. military posture in Europe or the Mediterranean Sea.

“Our Navy units continue to conduct routine, previously planned operations and exercises with allies and partners in the region," the press secretary said.

US, Greek forces complete bilateral flight training, build partnerships

by Capt. Emily Grabowski
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


2/28/2014 - SOUDA AIR BASE, Greece -- U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles and Hellenic air force F-16s flew a combined 270 missions during two weeks of NATO training at Souda Air Base, Greece.

The 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, known as the Mighty Black Panthers, departed Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Feb. 13, to work alongside the pilots of the HAF's 343rd Squadron at the 115th Combat Wing on the Greek island of Crete.

"This has been a unique opportunity for us to exercise and evaluate our aircraft and personnel in a NATO training environment," said Lt. Col. Philip Principi, 494th EFS commander. "We've been able to challenge ourselves daily during large-force exercises consisting of up to 30 aircraft - six different airframes from four different bases."

Greek and U.S. military relations can be dated back to the early 19th century when Greece was fighting for their independence, as the two nations found commonality under their values of freedom and democracy. Today, those values are still at the heart of their missions. 

"We've been able to share tactics, techniques and procedures in the planning, execution and debrief; which will continue to build the tactical partnership between our two countries," Principi said. "With key training opportunities like this one, we gain the experience of flying together, and we're better prepared to execute a successful, tactical game plan."

This is the first time in more than 10 years that the HAF has hosted a flying training deployment of this size. For Greek and U.S. pilots, working together brought new philosophies to the table, despite the language barrier and difference in aircraft. 

"The U.S. Air Force has a lot of experience, and we can gain a lot of benefit," said HAF Capt. Nickolas Danias, 343rd FS F-16 pilot. "In the beginning, it was hard. The Eagle is huge; it turns different; but similar capabilities, similar radar."

Bilateral FTDs, like this one in Greece, are planned in advance to strengthen military-to-military relationships and increase NATO interoperability.

"Training starts from the briefing," Danias said. "The [F-16] Block 52+ is multirole, just like the F-15. We try to show how we [F-16s] protect, while the Eagles strike."

While aircrew and aircraft were key to the overall mission, Airmen from the 48th Maintenance Group made up the majority of the 260 personnel on the U.S. side of training operations in Greece.

"Many of the maintainers on this trip have spent a great amount of time working in the back shops and providing tours of our aircraft and operations," said Capt. Timothy Aanerud, 494th EFS maintenance officer-in-charge. "I believe these actions are paving the way for future maintainers to come to Souda Bay. The maintenance support provided by the HAF has been really awesome."

The 494th EFS' headquarters, the 48th Fighter Wing, also recently sent aircraft to participate in allied training or support air policing operations in Norway, Iceland, Lithuania, and Spain.

"As NATO allies, our countries could be called upon at any time to project combat air power," Principi said. "This joint training is essential to our preparation should we ever need to respond.

Interview notes for HAF Capt. Nickolas Danias, 343 Squadron, HAF F-16 Block 52+ pilot. "Training starts from the briefing. In planning, we see new philosophies." "We try to show how we [F-16s] protect, while the Eagles strike."

While aircrew and aircraft were key to the overall mission, Airmen from the 48th Maintenance Group made up the majority of the 260 personnel on the U.S. side of training operations in Greece.

"Many of the maintainers on this trip have spent a great amount of time working in the back shops and providing tours of our aircraft and operations," said Capt. Timothy Aanerud, 494th EFS maintenance officer-in-charge. "I believe these actions are paving the way for future maintainers to come to Souda Bay. The maintenance support provided by the HAF has been really awesome."

The 494th EFS' headquarters, the 48th Fighter Wing, also recently sent aircraft to participate in allied training or support air policing operations in Norway, Iceland, Lithuania, and Spain.

"As NATO allies, our countries could be called upon at any time to project combat air power," Principi said. "This joint training is essential to our preparation should we ever need to respond."

Romanian transit center celebrates major milestone

by Senior Master Sgt. Steve Horton
HQ 3rd Expeditionary Air Forces Public Affairs


3/3/2014 - MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU AIR BASE, Romania  -- The Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base Passenger Transit Center celebrated a major milestone with a ceremony here Feb. 28 to mark the attainment of full operational capability.

Maj. Gen. John R. O'Connor, the commanding general of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, and Air Force Maj. Gen. Laurian Anastasof, chief of the Romanian Air Force Staff, co-hosted the event which marked a major joint, combined achievement and launched a new level of mission capability.

"The establishment of the transit center at Mihail Kog─âlniceanu strengthens an effective network of capabilities protecting the interests of the U.S. and our allies," O'Connor said. "Our partnership helps to shape the region, build trust, and provide critical capabilities to our combatant commanders as the mission in Afghanistan winds down."

"Both NATO and strategic partnership commitments of the Romanian Air Force, as well as the path we have chosen to meet them, give expression to our solidarity and determination to successfully complete joint projects such as this one on the benefit of peace, freedom and democracy," Anastasof added. "The notable accomplishments in theaters of operations clearly show the benefits of military cooperation such as between the U.S. and Romania, guided by the principle, 'we train together - we fight together.'"

The MK Air Base Passenger Transit Center is absorbing much of the workload from the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyz Republic which is scheduled to close later this year.

The transit center provides essential logistics, transportation, and morale and welfare services to accommodate the flow of U.S. service members into and out of European and Central Asia operating areas. The base now serves as a hub for U.S. Army soldiers and Marines deploying to, and redeploying from Afghanistan.

"From my perspective, the MK passenger transit center is yet another example of why the United States benefits from having forces that are 'Forward, Ready, Now,'" Col. Robert Dotson, MK Air Base senior airfield authority said. "Without the forward basing of forces that are ever ready to execute missions shoulder-to-shoulder with our partner nations across Europe, you wouldn't have seen such a rapid and smooth stand up of the new passenger transit center at MK."

"The 21st Theater Sustainment Command, joined by elements of United States Air Forces in Europe, leveraged the assistance of the Black Sea Area Support team and existing Army infrastructure at MK, as well as strong relationships with our Romanian civil and military partners, in order to seamlessly set the conditions for effective troop movement operations at MK starting in January 2014." he said. "The team was simultaneously rounded out by 18th Air Force's 780th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, and what you see now is a perfect picture of teamwork between joint and combined partners, supporting an immensely important national mission. MK serves as a poignant reminder of how forward based forces continue to enable U.S. global vigilance, global reach, and global power on a daily basis."

Airman continues fight against 'The Big C'

by Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez
15th Wing Public Affairs


2/28/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Being diagnosed with cancer can be a hard battle to overcome, but for one Hickam Airman, it was a fight she knew she could win.

"No matter how much you prepare for it, no one wants to hear those words - 'You have breast cancer,'" said Staff Sgt. Amanda Dick, 15th Medical Support Squadron patient flight. "After getting the news, I cried a little bit, but knew I had to get in the right frame of mind -- 'Ok, I know what I have, I know what I need to do to beat it, let's get this done.'"

Since day one of finding out her diagnosis, Dick has been on the offensive in her fight to beat breast cancer.

"My mind has just been on getting through this and I know I'll beat it because my mother did 11 years ago; she's a survivor," Dick said.

Dick found out she had cancer in October 2013 after a routine breast exam. She felt a hard lump the size of a pea, and made an appointment with her primary care manager the next day to start the diagnosis process. All of this happened while she was stationed in England, and immediately after confirming it was cancer, her office made arrangements for a humanitarian permanent change of station to Hawaii so she could be with her family.

"When I first got here [my parents] gave me a place to stay during my surgery and they gave me that comforting, home feeling," she said. "I'm the type of person who when I'm sick I want my mom by my side so it's nice to have her here, and to have my dad come and sit with me during my chemotherapy.

Also, with my mom having gone through this before, it's nice to have a survivor at home so that at my lowest points, I can remind myself that she was strong, and it makes me stronger. I don't think I'd be able to get through this without my family."

So far in her battle, Dick has had a double mastectomy procedure to rid her of the detectable cancer. And as a precautionary measure, she is now in the middle of chemotherapy to ensure no cancer remains behind.

To make the chemo process easier on her body, Dick had a portacath surgically placed under the skin of her upper chest area, which connects to a vein that allows chemo medicine to be directly delivered to the heart, minimizing the risk of infection or damage to her arm veins.

After the successful mastectomy and port insertion surgeries, and a rest period for healing, she was ready to start the preventative chemotherapy process.

Dick said she had a moment of realization during her first chemo session.

"I remember thinking, 'Uh, this is really going to happen,'" she said. "You're told that you can have all of these side effects like hair loss or nausea, but you don't know exactly how your body is going to react. I felt my head tingling so right away I just knew my hair was going to fall out. All I could do was mentally prepare."

So far, Dick has completed one-of-two chemo rounds, with four treatments in each. For a treatment, she reports to her oncology team at Tripler Army Medical Center.

"It's nice to see the same nurses and doctors, and occasionally you'll see another chemo patient and just say 'hey' and ask how they're doing, so that's comforting," Dick said.

With the shocking realization of cancer, multiple surgeries and now chemotherapy, Dick said, she follows the Four Dimensions of Wellness: spiritual, emotional, physical and social.

"It's something we always talk about in the Air Force, but in times like this, it is really important to keep healthy in all of those areas," she said. "Detecting [cancer] is the first step, the next step is fighting and getting through it by being prepared in all areas in your life."

Her father, Mike Dick, said he's extremely proud of his daughter for her strength through the cancer fight.

"I'm extremely proud of her," he said. "You're never prepared or ready for something like this, but we've done a good job coming together as a family. We all talk about it and even joke about it to relieve the tension."

Depending on how she reacts to the next round of chemo medication, she should be done with treatment at the end of April. Dick said after everything, she is most looking forward to running again.

"Right now I can't really run due to the pain I have and reaction to some of my medications," she said. "I also can't wait to not feel tired and nauseous all the time."

So far, Dick's fight against cancer is no contest; she's winning.

"My faith has been getting me through this," she said. "My family has been a big help, but my faith is ultimately what will pull me through."

Latest East Coast winter storm triggers response from more than 300 National Guard members

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy Steve Marshall
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va. (3/3/14) - While heavy snow continued falling Monday on some East Coast states, more than 300 National Guard members from five states were at the ready to assist local governments and their fellow citizens.

As of Monday morning, Guard members in Arkansas, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia were prepared to help out if needed.

The storm, the latest to hit the region this winter, is expected to dump up to 9 inches of snow on the U.S. capital as it sweeps from the Mississippi Valley to the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states, the National Weather Service said.

If needed, National Guard vehicles will assist police and fire personnel in the District of Columbia during the storm.

The Delaware National Guard, in coordination with the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, will preposition personnel and vehicles in all three counties tonight in preparation for the latest winter storm.

"Current predictions call for heaviest snow in the central part of the state, but prepositioning troops and equipment throughout gives us the ability to respond wherever needed." said Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, Delaware's adjutant general.

A news release from Delaware said the majority of its approximately 150 Soldiers and Airmen are vehicle operators and typical support missions include: transport of Delawareans to safety, transport of police and other first responders, transport of medical workers to hospitals, and assisting stranded motorists.

In Virginia, the story was much the same.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency authorizing state agencies to identify and position resources for quick response anywhere they are needed in Virginia. The Virginia Guard is authorized to bring up to 100 personnel on state active duty.

A Virginia Guard news release said about 70 members were positioned at readiness centers along the northern I-81 corridor, Leesburg and Fredericksburg.

An additional 20 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force are on duty at the Joint Operations Center in Sandston, Logistics Operation Center at Fort Pickett and Virginia Emergency Operations Center in Richmond to provide mission command, administrative and sustainment support for units in the field, the Virginia Guard news release said.

Contributing: Delaware National Guard and Cotton Puryear of the Virginia National Guard

Alaska Air National Guard units complete massive ‘Lava Rescue’ training exercise

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy Maj. Candis Olmstead
Alaska National Guard

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (3/3/14) - Airmen from the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Wing completed an 11-day flying training exercise, "Lava Rescue 2014," on Friday. Seventy-seven members of the 210th and 212th Rescue Squadrons, the 144th and 249th Airlift Squadrons, and the 176th Maintenance Group participated in a first-ever opportunity of its kind in the Alaska Air Guard.

"What makes this unique is having the largest operations group in the Air National Guard train together for a mass casualty water search and rescue response, and conduct air refueling and air drops with other service components in the Pacific Command area of operations," said 210th Rescue Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Steve Latham. "Few folks in our ops group have had much opportunity to perform our mission and get this type of training in our tasked AOR," he said.

Training exercises included search and rescue operations performed at sea during the day,and additional SAR training after dark with night-vision equipment. For one of the scenarios, simulated survivors were placed about five miles off of the coast of Oahu, with 212th RQS Guardian Angel pararescuemen in place on a water craft,and additional PJs in the 210th RQS HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter to practice exiting the helo, rescuing survivors, and being hoisted back onto the aircraft.
In another search and rescue exercise-a mission that only the Alaska Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III aircraft has performed-PJs and two SAR watercraft were dropped from the aircraft over water, simulating a long-range SAR mission.

This was the first time that a Guardian Angel rescue craft has ever dropped from a C-17 over water.
"We are the only C-17 unit in the Air Force and ANG who currently executes the C-17rescue airdrop," said Maj. Scott Altenburg, a C-17 pilot and mission commander for the C-17 portion of Lava Rescue 2014.

"We wrote the book on it. It's now published in our tactics and procedures and will be released this year for other C-17 units to reference," Altenburg said.

The C-17 also practiced air refueling this week with the Hawaii Air National Guard's KC-135 Stratotanker, and conducted formation flying with the Air Force's 535th Airlift Squadron.

A C-130 from the 144th Airlift Squadron flew a mission in support of 35 Marines and Navy personnel that included static line drops with special operations Marines, and high altitude low opening personnel drops with Navy SEALS.

The144th also transported personnel and cargo from Alaska for the exercise and all will return home this weekend, along with the C-17 that will be loaded with two folded HH-60s.

The first-ever Lava Rescue 2014 exercise would not have been possible without the support and hard work of maintenance crews, logistics and support personnel.

"Maintenance and logistics personnel have performed flawlessly to support generation of aircraft, equipment and cargo, which was essential for the success of Lava Rescue 2014," said Lt. Col. Karl Westerlund, the mission commander.

Lava Rescue 2014 included many high-value mission opportunities for aircrew, pararescuemen, maintenance and support personnel from the Alaska Air Guard to train together, and in joint training events with other military services. They flew more than 25 sorties.

"The combination of training opportunities really couldn't have been any better," Westerlund said.

Fairchild commemorates milestone moment with Manas redeployers

by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


3/3/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Team Fairchild has supported expeditionary operations with the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgystan, for more than a decade. After nearly a year of planning, the wing's KC-135 Stratotankers and crews returned home from Manas for the last time to a commemoration and welcoming home ceremony here Feb. 25.

"Working side-by-side, Fairchild and Manas never missed a performance in the war on terrorism," said Col. Brian Newberry, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander. "We answered the call so others may prevail. Thousands of lives were saved because we were fueling freedom overhead."

Without missing a beat, the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing commander at Manas, Col. J.C. Millard, added global reach airpower in the war on terrorism was made possible by expeditionary mobility Airmen at the transit center.

"We finished the way we began: fueling the fight in support of coalition troops in contact in Afghanistan," Millard said. "For more than a decade, we made good on our promise and motto: 'Liberandos Deliver.'"

While supporting expeditionary operations at Manas, the 92nd Air Refueling Wing flew more than 20,000 sorties in nearly 125,000 hours, offloading some 1.5 billion pounds of fuel to more than 110,000 U.S. and Coalition aircraft during the decade-long partnership.

"Our Airmen, at the 376th, have certainly answered the call, offloading a total of 12.2 billion pounds of fuel to coalition forces providing overwatch, and ensuring our forces in Afghanistan prevailed," said Lt. Gen. Darren McDew,18th Air Force commander. "We truly appreciate our Manas partners who have been absolutely pivotal in support of our operations as we close this historic chapter."

As one chapter in the war on terrorism closes at Manas, another begins as operations at Romania's Mihail Kogalniceanu (MK) Air Base have reached initial operational capability as the new air hub. Chris Rosenthal of the 18th Air Force said the transition from Manas to MK will enable U.S. air power to continue supporting the movement of troops without missing a beat.

"This really is a testament to having the right people in place to perform a challenging task with leadership and ingenuity," Rosenthal said.

Innovation is nothing new for Fairchild Airmen, and as the Air Force transitions operations to Romania, the 92nd ARW will never forget the sacrifices made by the Team Fairchild family, Newberry said. The Air Force and U.S. military couldn't have accomplished so much and saved so many lives without the family and friends back home supporting their loved ones downrange, added the colonel.

"I'm very proud of the Fairchild family," Newberry said. "Over the last decade, our families were just as integral to fueling freedom as our men and women in uniform. From sending care packages to staying up late at night for video calls, we will never forget the sacrifices our families have made."

One family member said today is both a somber and happy moment, but that she's more than ready to have her husband home.

"It's amazing to have him home again, especially with twins, the extra hands will be great," said Staff Sgt. Cassandra Bucklin, a 92nd Maintenance Group crew chief, who braved the blistery flightline with her three children to welcome their dad and husband, Staff Sgt. Isaac Bucklin, home. "Our little boy has been searching every room in the house for his dad the last couple days when I told him 'daddy' was coming home."

Today may mark the end of an era for Fairchild and Manas, but cues the beginning to a new chapter of possibilities, alluded Newberry.

"This is a day to celebrate," he said.

Editor's note: The 18th Air Force and 376th Air Expeditionary Wing public affairs offices contributed to this article.

Special Tactics Airman fatal training mishap

from 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

2/25/2014 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- A U.S. Air Force Special Tactics Airman died Friday during free fall proficiency training in Eloy, Ariz. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Master Sgt. Josh Gavulic, 34, was a tactical air control party member assigned to the 17th Special Tactics Squadron at Fort Benning, GA. He was a 16-year veteran with 10 deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan where he earned three Bronze Star Medals, two Air Force Commendation Medals, two Joint Service Commendation Medals with Valor and an Army Commendation Medal.

"Joshua was a tender warrior -- fierce on the battlefield, a consummate professional whose commitment to his team was only surpassed by his love and commitment to his wife Alyssa and their wonderful children," said Lt Col John Traxler, 17th Special Tactics Squadron commander.

Gavulic is survived by his wife and six children.

"We talked frequently of the responsibilities we hold as husbands and fathers," said Traxler. "Those were the roles he held most dear. I loved him for that, and he personified qualities that I strive for."

Air Force Special Operations Command TACPs with the 17 STS conduct joint special operations and are trained in multiple types of infiltration techniques including parachute operations. Gavulic was a qualified jumpmaster.

Gavulic was an Airman, a TACP, a Special Tactics operator, and a Ranger, he was driven by an intrinsic desire to serve his God, his family, and his country, said Traxler.

As a TACP, he was an expert in planning and controlling air combat resources for joint operations. He was also proficient in operating and supervising communications networks to support ground maneuver elements.

AFSOC TACPs can be attached to Navy SEAL and Army Special Forces and Ranger units and possess the joint terminal attack control qualification to call in close air support from fighter jets, attack helicopters, gunships, artillery and naval surface fire.

"The 17th Special Tactics community should be focused on the wealth of things that he taught us through his work, his home life, and his actions: living our lives in a manner worthy of his legacy and his values."

Face of Defense: Radio Station Honors Marine as ‘Hometown Hero’



By Joycelyn Biggs
Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga., Mar. 3, 2014 – After a flood of calls, texts and Facebook posts, Marine Corps Sgt. Thomas Over learned he had been selected as Hometown Hero of the Week by radio station WYRK in Alden, N.Y.

Over is licensing noncommissioned officer for Garrison Mobile Equipment, Logistics Support Division here.

Each week, WYRK honors a service member who receives a “thank you” on the air. The station dedicates the first song of its “Noon Tunes” feature to the chosen service member.

“My phone was ringing nonstop, and everybody was posting on my Facebook page that day,” Over said. “At first, I thought my friends were just playing a joke on me, but so many people were contacting me. I later found out my sister nominated me for the title and the station selected me.”

This is not Over’s first time being considered a hero. In 2013, he saved his wife’s life while celebrating his sister’s birthday in Panama City Beach, Fla.

Over and several friends were on a rented boat when his wife and her friend decided to jump off the boat into the water.

After watching the two, Over realized they were in trouble. He jumped into the water and swam to the struggling duo. Over said the currents were strong, and it was impossible for him alone to rescue them both. He called for help, and another friend in a kayak came and delivered the pair safely to shore.

Over downplayed his role in the rescue, saying he considers it a group effort.

“I would not have been able to get them back to safety by myself,” he said. “I’m just glad I was able to assist. Lifeguard training and advanced swim qualification with the Marine Corps equipped me with the skills I needed that day.”

For as long as he can remember, Over said, his dream was to become a Marine. Wasting no time in making his dream come true, he joined the Marine Corps two days after graduating from Alden High School.

His responsibilities include facilitating 40-hour, five-day classes to become a forklift operator, hazardous and explosive material classes, commercial bus classes, and commercial 3-ton truck safety training. He also has additional duties, participating in funeral details and helping Marines and employees here to prepare their tax returns.

Kitras Thomas, Garrison Mobile Equipment training and licensing instructor, said Over is professional and motivated.

“Even when he is not in uniform, Over is a person who makes the Marine Corps proud,” Thomas said, noting that Over volunteers during his off-duty time as a coach for youth football.

“When he is in the office, he shows such dedication and willingness to go above and beyond what he is expected to do,” he added. “I feel proud to have him on my team.”

Over also is working toward a business degree at Darton State College here.

“I plan to make the Marines my career,” he said. “I want to serve my country for as long as they will allow me to serve, but I want to be as prepared as possible for whatever I am tasked to do. I think earning my degree will only ensure I am best prepared for any task assigned to me.”

ARPC in the 2000s

by Mark Nelson
Air Reserve Personnel Center Historian


2/28/2014 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- (This feature is the last of a monthly series celebrating ARPC's 60th anniversary which is March 1, 2014. Each month highlighted a decade starting with the 1950s.)

Packed with promotion boards, retirement actions, musters, and customer service to Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and retired members, the new millennium looked quiet for the Air Reserve Personnel Center. But when terrorists attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, ARPC, and the world, changed.

ARPC members watched with horror from televisions around the center. Immediately, ARPC leaders activated a crisis action team and evacuated the building. However, the staff, united by their sense of duty and patriotism, as well as a strong sense of purpose, set upon doing their part to defend the nation.

When ARPC reopened Sept. 13, the staff transitioned into its wartime mission. Hundreds of phone calls came into what is now known as the Total Force Service Center from Reserve members who wanted to volunteer for active duty.

The next day, President George W. Bush declared a national emergency and authorized the call-up of the Ready Reserve. That same day, the secretary of defense instituted Stop-Loss, which allowed service secretaries to suspend any provision of law related to retirement or separation during a period of time when Reserve members were on active duty involuntarily.

By November 2002, ARPC officials had involuntarily activated nearly 3,500 individual mobilization augmentees for Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom, military operations against terrorism on the homeland and outside the U.S. respectively.

Also in 2002, Air Force officials sponsored a study for a contractor to perform records management and logistics support in order to reduce personnel costs. Known as the A-76 study, it recommended a contract to the National Institute for the Severely Handicapped organization.

A local NISH contractor took over management for officer selection, field, medical and microfiche master records. A sub-contractor performed education and training, supplies, logistics and multi-media operations.

Another significant change occurred April 1, 2005, when the Readiness Management Group was activated at Robins AFB, Ga. RMG took over IMA management oversight from ARPC and put the program under the Air Force Reserve Command. As a result, the center lost a number of manpower positions.

That same month, ARPC technology experts launched a new personnel website called virtual Personnel Center for the Guard and Reserve. Steadily through the years, vPC-GR evolved and is now a benchmark for personnel delivery service and efficiency for the Air Force.

In 2009, officials from the Air Force Personnel Center at Randolph AFB, Texas and ARPC created the Total Force Service Center by collaborating on a single toll-free number which provided all Air Force personnel including active duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, civilian and retired members with seamless access to personnel services. While ARPC customer representatives and the Reserve Component have used this toll-free number since 1970, it was a new phone number for AFPC and their customers.

While all of these changes took place, a Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended relocating ARPC's processing functions to AFPC and relocating ARPC's IMA management functions to RMG.

ARPC leadership quickly formulated a strategy to show the commission that ARPC was better suited to perform their mission than AFPC. As a result, the commission voted in August 2005 against the proposal to realign ARPC at Randolph AFB. Instead, commissioners voted to relocate ARPC to Buckley AFB, Colo.

The construction of the new building took about two years and on Aug. 1, 2011, ARPC moved into its new home.

In early 2013, as part of the Air Force Reserve Human Capital Transformation initiative, personnel workload from AFRC and RMG began transitioning to ARPC using a phased approach. Completion date is targeted for Sept. 30, 2014.

This initiative included the standup of Headquarters, Individual Reservist Readiness and Integration Organization Feb. 1, 2014. RIO will assume a major portion of the workload currently managed by RMG. Once the transition is complete, RMG will be deactivated and ARPC will come full circle since its creation with managing IMAs.

For six decades, the people of ARPC have served the nation faithfully and well. The future may be uncertain, but one thing is sure...ARPC members have been serving generations of Airmen since 1954; with pride, honor, and strength.

Editor's Note: Lt. Col. Belinda Petersen and Master Sgt. Christian Michael, ARPC Public Affairs, contributed to this article.

Parker takes command of 914th Airlift Wing

3/2/2014 - NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. -- Col. Steven B. Parker assumed command of the 914th Airlift Wing today from Col. Walter Gordon, who retires after 30 years of military service.

Parker most recently served as commander of the 340th Flying Training Group, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, where he was directly responsible for the overall success of the Reserve Associate Instructor Program. He is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and a command pilot with more than 3,600 flying hours in fighter and trainer aircraft including combat missions in Operation Southern Watch.

Following the assumption of command ceremony, the wing recognized Gordon in a retirement ceremony to celebrate a 30 year distinguished career that began with the 107th Fighter Interceptor group in 1982, and culminated with his service as vice commander and commander of the 914th AW. During his short time as commander, Gordon led the wing during the government shutdown of October 2013, the successful disassociation from the 107th Airlift Wing and the deployment of more than 100 troops to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"It has been a privilege to work alongside of the fine outstanding, professional members of the 914th Airlift Wing," said Gordon. "I am extremely proud of the outstanding performance of this unit, particularly when operating at minimum manning during the government shutdown last October. Parker will continue the great traditions and success of the 914th Airlift Wing and the Niagara Falls Reserve Station."

Parker, in his new position as Installation and wing commander, will be responsible for the daily operations of a base which supports more than 3,000 Citizen Airmen and Soldiers. The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is the largest employer in Niagara County with an annual economic impact in excess of $140 million.

Climate limits C-17 support of Operation Deep Freeze this season

by Sandra Pishner
446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


3/3/2014 - MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- Severe melt issues at Pegasus Airfield's white ice runway left little choice other than to cancel most of the planned C-17 missions supporting Operation Deep Freeze in the 2013-2014 season.

A little more than 1,200 feet of the approach end of the primary 10,000-foot-long white ice runway had turned to water up to a foot in depth in places by early January.

"We had an interesting year. We completed 17 missions this season," said Lt. Col. Timothy Davis, 728th Airlift Squadron here and operations officer for the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, Christchurch, New Zealand. "Due to a number of factors, including sequestration, customer demand, and weather, we flew the fewest missions since the C-17 has been involved with Deep Freeze."

Reservists from the 446th Airlift Wing and active-duty Airmen from the 62nd AW join to form the 304th EAS. They fly missions from the C-17 staging point in Christchurch, New Zealand to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. They carry cargo and people. During the 2012-2013 season of Deep Freeze, C-17s from McChord Field flew 42 missions. A melting runway was also an issue that season. By comparison, the 2011-2012 season saw the McChord team fly 74 missions in support of Operation Deep Freeze.

"The entire main season support with the C-17 was cancelled due to climate change, so we only did 17 flights this year, mostly during WINFLY (August through November)," said Chief Master Sgt. James Masura, chief loadmaster for the 304th EAS and from the 446th Operations Group here.

Weather data for the first half of January 2014 shows that the maximum temperature for 12 of 14 days got above freezing, including a streak of four days, Jan. 3-6, when temperatures climbed above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Gary Cardullo, airfield manager for the U.S. Antarctic Program, said the white ice runway officially shut down for wheeled aircraft like the C-17 on Jan. 3.

"Winds carried dirt from nearby Black Island and deposited much of it on the airfield (Pegasus). Dark-colored dirt plus 24 hours of sun each day equals melting snow on the airfield. While this was eventually cleared, summer temperatures made repairing the snow-covered ice runway challenging," said Davis.

"While the temperatures are now back to normal and the airfield has been repaired and opened, it didn't make sense from an operational and financial perspective to deploy a C-17 package this late in the season," said Davis.

But the weather was not the only challenge to this year's C-17 support of Operation Deep Freeze. Sequestration and customer demand were also factors in determining how many C-17 sorties could be flown.

"Sequestration was the first curve ball we were thrown," said Davis. "At first, we weren't sure how much, if any, flying we would do. That delayed preparation and scheduling until we had a firm 'go' from the National Science Foundation (the customer). Also due to budget issues, we were aggressive in matching the most efficient type of airlift with the cargo and passenger needs, often teaming with our New Zealand partners. For example, instead of flying 100 passengers on a C-17, they now fly on the RNZAF 757 when possible, saving limited resources. We try to utilize the C-17 where it shines - heavy, outsized cargo."

Training also took a hit with the limited use of the C-17, with the McChord Airmen conducting only one airdrop trainer.

"Several pilots were trained in the procedures for polar airdrop, but we didn't drop anything at the pole," said Masura. "Luckily, we had many of our rotations filled with already certified pilots and loadmasters. The 62nd AW missed out on some training, but it will not affect the mission."

Not only was Operation Deep Freeze lacking in C-17 flights this year, it also lacked in the ability of the 304th EAS to donate to New Zealand children's charities as it does each year.

"The charity took a major hit," said Masura. "We decided not to give any money this year and double up our efforts next year."

C-17 totals for the 2013/2014 season are: 321 pallets of cargo, 17 pieces of rolling stock, (1,975,800 lbs. of cargo total), and 1,277 passengers moved.

"We expect to have a robust WINFLY next August. The rest of the 2014-2015 season won't be finalized until approximately late May," said Davis

ODF is possibly the military's most difficult peacetime mission due to the harsh Antarctic environment. The Air Force is specially equipped with trained and experienced personnel to operate in these austere conditions and have provided support to the NSF since 1955.

McChord has participated in ODF since 1983 using the C-141B Starlifter. The 446th AW got involved in 1995. The first C-17 trial for use to support ODF was Oct. 15, 1999.

(Peter Rejcek, Antarctic Sun Editor, contributed to this report).

Fairchild Airmen experience the "Big Picture" from 20,000 feet above

by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


2/28/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Ten Airmen from various base agencies were given the opportunity to experience Fairchild's mission during an air refueling flight, Feb. 26, as part of a new incentive program facilitated by the 92nd and 93rd Air Refueling Squadrons.

These Airmen were selected by their leadership as participants in the incentive program, which aims to entice good morale, a sense of purpose and recognition of a job well done.

"I am a maintenance Airman and work on these jets every day," said Airman 1st Class Travis Bostain, 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron propulsions systems journeyman and member on the flight. "It's awesome I got a chance to fly in one today and see what our hard work goes into."

With a cold snap in the air, the selected Airmen met up early in the morning. They were escorted to the KC-135 Stratotanker that took them on their first air-refueling journey.

Once onboard, they were introduced to the pilots and boom operators, and given a safety brief. After everyone was familiarized with the safety procedures, it was time to strap in, bundle up and take off.

When the aircraft reached 20,000 feet in the air, the boom operators began taking two Airmen at a time inside the refueling area. One by one, each person was given a chance to operate and receive knowledge on how the air refueling operation is conducted.

"I'm happy the incentive program is back, it helps other Airmen see and experience what all their hard work goes into," said Senior Airman Michael Weidman, 93rd ARS boom operator. "Not everyone gets a chance to see how we operate on a day-to-day basis."

Weidman said he was glad to have the opportunity to show other Airmen on base what a refueling mission is like, and give back a little by teaching them.

Two C-17 Globemaster aircrafts were part of the day's training mission. Because they were training missions, no fuel was exchanged. Each aircraft approached several times to connect and disconnect to the KC-135 for refueling.

Along with watching how refueling worked, the Airmen were also allowed to sit in the cockpit. During this time, they were able listen to all three main working parts of the mission; the pilots, the boom operator and the aircraft, and witnessed how everything worked together.

Now that the incentive program is back in action, there are opportunities for Airmen throughout Fairchild to fly and see the "big picture" of the mission 20,000 feet above in the clouds.

For more information on the Fairchild incentive program, Airmen should contact your first sergeant or commander.

Wings of Blue to jump during open house

56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/28/2014 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- It all started in the spring of 1962 when a band of bootleg jumpers made their first parachute jumps as cadets. Using condemned survival, evasion, resistance and escape rigs and local aviation pilots, these cadets made several jumps in the Colorado area. During that spring, a few cadets, at their own risk and expense, made a number of demonstration and competition jumps to include their first collegiate-national appearance in Wisconsin, winning a gold medal.

The U.S. Air Force Academy Parachute Team Wings of Blue is scheduled to wow the crowd March 15 and 16 with their high-speed maneuvers in free fall as well as precision canopy flight during the "Lightning in the Desert" Open House and Air Show at Luke Air Force Base.

The primary mission of the Wings of Blue is to run the Air Force basic free-fall course, AM490. Members of the team serve primarily as jump masters and instructors for this course, devoting most of their time to teaching students about parachuting and training them to make unassisted freefall skydives.

AM490 is the only first-jump program in the world where students can make their first free-fall jump without assistance. The Wings of Blue makes roughly 19,000 jumps per year for AM490 and training, which results in approximately 700 jump wings being awarded annually.

The Wings of Blue demonstration team is composed of U.S. Air Force Academy cadet jumpers and 98th Flying Training Squadron staff members who perform globally on a regular basis. When the team is not teaching AM490, they are training for aerial demonstrations or parachuting competitions.

The Wings of Blue demonstration team performs at home Air Force football games, air shows throughout the nation, and other high-profile venues. Some of these include aircraft carriers, the Rose Bowl, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, NFL games, and MLB games.

In addition to demonstrations throughout the nation, the Wings of Blue have also appeared on the international scene performing in countries such as Chile, Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The Wings of Blue hold the collegiate formation - a formation comprised of 41 people.

The "Lightning in the Desert" Open House and Air Show is 9 a.m. till 6 p.m. March 15 and 16.

For more information, including performers and a list of prohibited items, visit www.luke.af.mil and click the open house graphic in the center of the page.

Air Force documentation team completes 28-day journey through AFGSC

by Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Public Affairs Agency


3/3/2014 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- An Air Force documentation team completed its 28-day journey through Air Force Global Strike Command today after flying more than 7,500 miles and visiting six Air Force installations.

The news team traveled to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Malmstrom AFB, Mont., Minot AFB, N.D., F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., Whiteman AFB, Mo. and Barksdale AFB, La., from Feb. 1-28, producing news features, broadcast video products and capturing mission imagery for AFGSC's official blog and other social media channels.

Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, AFGSC commander, said sending the news team was important to promote the hard work being accomplished by total force Airmen throughout the command who perform their duties in extreme weather and austere conditions.

"Our people are my biggest priority, and I'm committed to making sure our nuclear Airmen know how critical they are to the nation's security," Wilson said. "I was excited for the American public to get a glimpse of the deterrence mission, and the work that goes into ensuring a safe, secure and effective force."

The command is also celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, and Wilson said AFGSC has made important strides in strengthening the Air Force's nuclear enterprise since 2009.

"We've improved our Intercontinental Ballistic Missile and bomber readiness across the fleet," Wilson said. "We've also taken action to create personal development programs and educational opportunities for our Airmen."

The news team captured the personal experiences of AFGSC Airmen across a variety of Air Force specialties, including missileers, missile maintainers, pilots, missile field chefs, weapons loaders and crew chiefs. The team witnessed firsthand some of the conditions these Airmen endure on a daily basis to accomplish their respective missions.

"I sincerely hope the American public enjoyed seeing our Airmen showcased as they perform the nuclear deterrence mission 24/7/365," the general said. "We are an elite and disciplined team, and the pride our Airmen show in the work they do often goes unseen as they deter our adversaries and assure our allies."

ARPC marks 60 years, showcases progress

by Tech. Sgt. Rob Hazelett
Air Reserve Personnel Center Public Affairs


3/3/2014 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- More than 150 people attended the Air Reserve Personnel Center's exhibition of history as the center commemorated its 60th anniversary here Feb. 28.

The event was open to all current and former ARPC employees, Buckley Air Force Base leadership and community partners. They were treated to a briefing highlighting ARPC's history and advancement in technology, policies and procedures of six decades and historic memorabilia on display for everyone to see.

"The overarching theme through our history is change," said Brig. Gen. Samuel "Bo" Mahaney, ARPC commander. "And everything that we do in the personnel system requires that we stay ahead of the changing environment. That's why we are concentrating for the future on people, systems and policy."

Previously known as the Air Reserve Records Center, the center was established Nov. 1, 1953, and opened its doors March 1, 1954 at 3800 York Street in Denver with 250,000 records from eight separate locations.

Having been re-designated as ARPC Sept. 1, 1965, the center moved to the former Lowry AFB in Denver Sept. 1, 1976 where it remained until moving to its current location on Buckley AFB in Aurora, Colo., Aug. 1, 2011.

The event culminated with a ceremonial cake cutting, each cake representing ARPC's past, present and future.