Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Pope Airmen train with Atlas troops to recover aircraft

by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. April Campbell
82nd Combat Aviation Brigade

3/5/2014 - FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade troops hosted joint Downed Aircraft Recovery Team and Crash Damaged Disabled Aircraft Recovery training with Airmen from Pope Army Airfield at Simmons Army Airfield, Feb. 24.

DART and CDDAR teams are responsible for recovering aircraft after they crash or become disabled and can no longer fly.

"Training with the Air Force allows us to see the equipment and techniques they use and vice versa," said Sgt. Zachory McMahon, of the 122nd Aviation Support Battalion.

Soldiers from 122nd ASB and 1-82 Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, and Airmen from 440th Maintenance Group and 2nd Airlift Squadron, 43rd Airlift Group, practiced using the Unit Maintenance Aerial Recovery Kit on an AH-64 Apache helicopter.

"This kit is a set of ropes and slings that is used to rig a downed helicopter for recovery," said1st Lt. Mike Van Oteghem, 122nd ASB DART platoon leader. "The UMARK can be used with a crane to load a damaged helicopter onto a flatbed truck and it can also be used to rig and aircraft to be slung underneath another helicopter for recovery."

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dax Rankin, of the 2nd AS, had never worked with an Apache helicopter.

"Joint training expands our range of knowledge and enables us to help Soldiers if they ever need extra manpower for this type of operation," Rankin said.

While the training focused on using the UMARK on the AH-64, the kit is compatible with all types of helicopters used in the Army.

Learning about the technology of their sister services is not a new endeavor for these service members.

"The 122nd ASB DART and the 440th CDDAR team have worked together in the past to the benefit of both units," Van Oteghem said. "We continue to support each other through joint training events such as this in order to achieve and maintain the highest level of readiness and to foster a cooperative spirit among the Soldiers and Airmen."

Airman Spotlight: SSgt Hector Vaca Flores

by Staff Reports
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

3/4/2014 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --

Unit: 51st Aerospace Medicine Squadron

Job title: Bioenvironmental Engineering Technician

Job description and its impact on the overall mission: As manager of the Bioenvironmental Engineering Special Surveillance program, I lead nine technicians in performing in-depth study of worker's exposures in 98 work centers and 5 GSUs. Over the past 12 months, the team has completed 24 hazardous noise studies; collected more than 22 carcinogenic/ Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) expanded standard air samplings; performed 20 radioactive material measurements; and conducted 9 indoor air quality studies. The results of this surveillance are vital to Air Force's compliance with OSHA, but more importantly, to ensure workers are protected while performing their duties and are "Ready to Fight Tonight."

Time in the military: Nine years

Time at Osan: One year

DEROS: Oct. 2014

Family: My "Mum," dad, two brothers, two sisters

Hometown: Indio, Calif.

Hobbies: Snowboarding and traveling

Why did you join the military? To serve my country

Where do you see yourself in 10 or 20 years? Retired, playing golf

What do you do for fun here? I like visiting and exploring enchanting places in Asia, I've enjoyed the warm waters of Guam and indulged in the food and cultures of Japan and S. Korea. I've climbed Mount Seoraksa and Mount Fuji, snow boarded at Phoenix One and High One ski resorts, and visited Boryeong Town during the famed Mud Festival.

What's your favorite Air Force memory or story? Attending a MAJCOM annual awards ceremony in St. Louis to witness the USAF military pomp and ceremony, I was honored to be invited by my friend.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? Completing my CCAF degree in Bioenvironmental Engineering Technology was a great achievement for me but I hope to finish a BS degree in Environmental Engineering in the next three years.

Who are your role models? It's always been my parents.

Industrial tour showcases Gunsan

by Senior Airman Armando A. Schwier-Morales
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

3/5/2014 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The Airmen watched the screen flicker with images of Korean history, war, peace, development and progress at one of the many stops on their tour of Gunsan, Republic of Korea, Feb. 21, 2014.

Gunsan's history, current events and future plans were right at the fingertips of the Airmen that participated in the Gunsan Industrial tour, one of several tours offered by the 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs community relations office.

"The tours we offer open up the door to not only newcomers, but Airmen unfamiliar with Korean culture and history," said Rosemary Song, 8th FW PA community relations specialist. "Airmen are not just part of the Wolf Pack, they are also part of the city, so we offer a chance for them to develop and build relationships."

During the tour, the Airmen also visited a shipyard and a distillery, both two leading industries in Gunsan, according to Song. Along with the current industries, the Airmen viewed future developments at the Gunsan Industrial Complex - developments in progress since the 1990s.

"I had a great experience on the industrial tour of Gunsan," said Airman 1st Class Khinmyat Tun, 8th Communications Squadron technician. "It showed me that Korea, like America, is trying to rebuild their country by expanding their trade and their land to foreign countries."

While the tour lasted several hours, it gave Airmen only a brief view of Gunsan's history and culture.

"Looking at pictures from World War II and on, you can see that the hard work and dedication demonstrated by the Korean people ... led them to become one of the top leading industries in the world," said Tun. "I think that now after the tour, I have a much better understanding of why U.S. forces are here and why our mission is so critical."

For more information about other tours or community relations opportunities, Airmen can contact the community relations office at 782-5194.

Locklear Warns of Growing Challenges in Asia-Pacific Region

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Mar. 5, 2014 – The top U.S. military commander for the Asia-Pacific region told Congress today that growing challenges posed by China’s rising military power, an increasingly dangerous and unpredictable North Korea, escalating territorial disputes and humanitarian aid efforts after natural disasters are putting the U.S. military in Asia at greater risk.

Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told the House Armed Services Committee the challenges all are part of Pacom’s efforts to defend U.S. interests in a region that spans more than half the globe.

“And we have done all this against the backdrop of continued fiscal and resource uncertainty, and the resultant diminishing readiness and availability of our joint force,” he said.

A day after North Korea tested a long-range rocket and China reported plans to increase military spending by 12 percent, Locklear testified that “those things all make a security environment that’s more complex,” and he called North Korea “very unpredictable and increasingly dangerous.”

A tighter fiscal environment, he said, has led to readiness levels that he considers unacceptable should the United States or its allies be threatened. Forces either are not ready or have been deployed elsewhere in the world, he explained.

“From my assessment, the global demand on maritime forces in general, which include our aircraft carrier force, far exceed what the Navy is able to resource,” Locklear said. U.S. naval assets are now tasked with patrolling a much greater portion of the globe, he added, and that will only increase.

“When I was a young officer, I never considered that we would be contemplating operations in the Antarctic, but that will come, probably in the very near future,” the admiral said. “I couldn’t have found the Horn of Africa on a chart, or wasn’t familiar with it. But now we operate routinely there.”

The added responsibilities come at a time when Asian nations are building “ever more aggressive” and high-end military capabilities, while regional disputes are on the rise, Locklear told the panel. At the same time, he said, the United States has no plans to build new bases overseas, but will instead look to partner with allies such as the Philippines to reach base access agreements.

“I would have never anticipated that there would be the kind of tensions in the vast South China Sea over territorial rights and fishing rights, or in the East China Sea,” Locklear told the panel -- issues he said the United States is watching very carefully, but ultimately have to be settled through arbitration, rather than coercion.

Locklear said China’s expanding military budget should not come as a surprise, but a lack of transparency regarding what the increased spending is being used for concerns him. He also wonders whether the world will see China as a net provider of security or whether Beijing will use its muscle to pursue regional claims, he added.

“We have a military-to-military relationship, which is slow but steady,” Locklear said, “and we are making progress in breaking down the barriers.”

Air Force to award new rescue helicopter contract


WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force announced its intent to award a competitive contract for a new rescue helicopter to carry out the personnel recovery mission.

Due to the criticality of this mission, the Air Force will realign about $430 million from other Air Force priorities beyond fiscal year 2014 through 2019 in order to award the Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) contract to United Technologies’ Sikorsky.

“Moving forward with the CRH contract award protects a good competitive price and effectively uses the $334 million Congress appropriated for the program,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James.

In light of the fiscal situation, the Air Force has made many tough choices to balance strategy and budget.

“Over the last 10 years, the Air Force has discussed upgrading the platform that performs this sacred mission for all DoD personnel who go into harm's way,” said James. “This mission is part of the military ethos, and the Air Force is committed to providing it.”

The contract is expected to be signed not later than the end of June 2014. Before moving forward with the contract, the program must complete a Milestone B review including independent cost assessments. In order to enable this timeline, Sikorsky must also agree to extend its pricing through June.

“The competitive price and the funding provided by Congress will allow us to award the CRH contract, but we could still face significant challenges to keeping this effort on track,” said James.  “We will need to work with Congress throughout 2015 budget deliberations, and if the FY16 DoD budget drops back to sequestration levels, this program, along with many others, will need to be reevaluated.”

President announces intent to nominate top AF finance manager position

Ms. Lisa S. Disbrow

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- President Barack Obama announced Feb. 26 his intent to nominate Lisa S. Disbrow as the assistant secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management.

Disbrow is currently the Joint Staff’s J8 Directorate force structure resources and assessment vice director, a position she has held since 2009.

Prior to this job, Disbrow served as the force management principal deputy from 2007 to 2009. She has served in the J8 Directorate since 1995.

From 2006 to 2007, Disbrow was detailed to the National Security Council as the policy implementation and execution special advisor to the President's National Security Advisor. From 2003 to 2006, she served as the Joint Staff’s J8 Wargaming, Simulation and Analysis deputy director.

On active duty, Disbrow served in multiple capacities as an operational planner, electronic intelligence analyst and programming officer. Following active duty, she served in the National Reconnaissance Office as a senior systems engineer from 1992 to 1995.

Disbrow received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia, a Master of Arts from The George Washington University, and a Master of Arts from the National War College.

181st Intelligence Wing launches first-ever aerial domestic support mission

by Lt. Col. Frank Howard
181st Intelligence Wing

3/5/2014 - HULMAN FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ind. -- The roar of the jets is long gone but Airmen from the Indiana Air National Guard's 181st Intelligence Wing here still stand watch for the Hoosiers of Indiana.

The 181st IW was tasked Feb. 21 to conduct aerial operations for Operation Blue Sky at the request of Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

"The ice dams were moving downstream with the size and potential strength to damage bridges and other key infrastructure in their paths due to the historically heavy icing on the river this season," said Jan Crider, IDHS. "Due to flooding in the area only an 'air picture' could provide this assessment."

The 181st IW along with the Civil Air Patrol launched an Aerial Collections Team sortie to conduct aerial assessment of flooding in Tippecanoe and Fulton Counties to provide IDHS an accurate assessment of the flooding.

"I am proud of how our Airmen responded to this historic tasking," stated Col. Patrick Renwick, 181st IW vice commander. "One of our primary missions is to assist the people of Indiana and this is just one of many ways we are prepared to support our community."

While airborne the team surveyed the ice jam causing the flooding, observed and reported a sport utility vehicle stranded in flood water and provided analysis of areas affected by the flooding.

"Our close working partnership with the Civil Air Patrol and our Wing's focus on disaster response can really make a difference when incident commanders respond to severe weather or disasters," Renwick said.

"The Racers are critical to domestic response and dedicated to supporting the people of Indiana in whatever way we are tasked," said Col. Donald Bonte, 181st IW commander. "While we hope disasters don't happen, we are here and ready whenever the State of Indiana requires our assistance."

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Begins Annual Fund Drive

By Naval District Washington Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) kicked off its annual active duty fund drive with a ceremony at the Pentagon, March 4.

The drive, designed to raise funds necessary to financially assist Navy and Marine Corps personnel and NMCRS programs, will run for six weeks, until April 11.

The NMCRS raises funds for programs and support services through repayment of interest-free loans, proceeds from thrift shops, the reserve fund, and most of all, contributions. Last year, the fund drive raised $9.9 million nationally. Locally in the National Capital Region (NCR) last year, the NMCRS assisted nearly 1,300 active duty and retired Sailors, Marines, and their families, providing more than $1 million in financial assistance.

"The fund drive is very critical for some of the young Sailors out there who don't have a lot of financial experience," said Master Chief Petty Officer Tyrone Blockton, assistant to the 2014 NCR campaign. "This program affords them an opportunity to learn how to manage their money, how to better manage their finances, and also it helps them in cases of emergencies."

Blockton explained the goal of the campaign is not only 100 percent contact with personnel, but stressed meaningful contact that goes beyond simply asking for donations.

"In meaningful contact, you're actually explaining what the program is all about, explaining members of the program, history of the program, and how it's best set up to help your shipmates," Blockton said.

In the 2013 drive, 48 percent of the contributions to the campaign came from active-duty Sailors and Marines helping fellow active-duty members in need, with another 12 percent coming from military retirees.

Blockton said he began donating to the drive as soon as he enlisted more than 20 years ago, but wasn't aware of all the benefits that came from the program. He said he missed a family funeral because of a lack of finances, not knowing he was eligible for aid through the NMCRS. Now, he wants to make sure every Sailor knows the resources available to them.

The NMCRS offers a range of programs beyond emergency loans, including financial counseling, education assistance, health education and post-combat support, child budgeting, disaster relief, emergency travel funding, and access to thrift shops. By using a workforce composed mostly of volunteers, most contributions go back to service members and their families.

Rear Adm. Mark Rich, commandant, Naval District Washington, and Maj. Gen. Juan Ayala, commanding general, Marine Corps Installation Command, are co-chairing this year's regional fund drive, working with installation coordinators to ensure the meaningful impact is spread through the NCR.

For more information on the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and how to donate, visit

Official Provides Details on U.S. Augmentation in Baltics

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Mar. 5, 2014 – Following Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s announcement today during Senate testimony that the United States is augmenting its participation in NATO's air policing mission in the Baltics and will increase joint training through its aviation detachment in Poland, a defense official provided additional information.

In a statement provided on background, the official said the United States currently provides four F-15s to fill NATO's January-through-April air policing rotation in the Baltics.

For the past 10 years, the official said, allies have provided on-call aircraft on a rotational basis to help in identifying and responding to violations of Baltic airspace. In addition to the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Belgium, Poland, Romania, Turkey and Czech Republic all contributed rotations over time since the mission's inception, the official added.

This week, the United States will send six additional F-15s and one KC-135 to augment the mission, the official said. These aircraft -- currently based at Lakenheath in the United Kingdom -- will be deployed to Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania.

This action comes at the request of the United States’ Baltic allies and “further demonstrates our commitment to NATO security,” the official said.

Poland hosts 10 U.S Air Force personnel to support rotations of U.S. F-16s and C-130s for joint training with the Polish air force, the official said. The aviation detachment, or AVDET, is a practical way to strengthen interoperability with a key NATO ally, the official added, and represents the first continuous presence of a U.S. military unit on Polish soil.

The AVDET has supported four training rotations for U.S. aircraft since late 2012. During his trip to Poland earlier this year, the official noted, Hagel visited with U.S. and Polish airmen from the AVDET alongside Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak.

The detachment's presence in Poland also makes it possible to host multiple allied Air Force elements and serve as a regional hub for air training and multinational exercises, the official said, and the Defense Department is consulting with Polish allies on increasing activities associated with the detachment.