Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Oregon Air National Guard members earn high honors

by Oregon National Guard

3/25/2014 - CLACKAMAS, Ore. -- The Oregon Air National Guard honored a group of Airmen with the 125th Special Tactics Squadron with a Silver Star and Bronze Star medals, during a ceremony Monday.

Attending were Lt. Gen. Eric E. Fiel, commander, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla.; Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, director, Air National Guard, the Pentagon and Maj. Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, adjutant general of Oregon.

The Airmen recognized were Tech. Sgt. Doug Matthews with the Silver Star; Staff Sgt. Matthew Matlock with the Bronze Star Medal with Valor and second Oak Leaf Cluster; Staff Sgt. Christopher Jones with the Bronze Star with Valor and first Oak Leaf Cluster; and Tech. Sgt. George Thompson with the Bronze Star.

"The 125th STS has a proud history of displaying valor and heroism in combat," said Maj. TJ Awada, commander of the 125th STS. "The actions of Sergeants Matthews, Jones, Matlock, and Thompson are in keeping with the highest traditions of this squadron and the Oregon National Guard.

On Nov. 27, 2012, the vehicle Matthews was riding in struck an improvised explosive device, triggering a coordinated ambush near Jalrez, Wardak Province in Afghanistan. Despite being ejected from the vehicle, and sustaining head injuries and multiple lacerations, he immediately came to his feet and faced small-arms fire from 12 different enemy fighting positions, some as close as 30 meters.

Although seriously wounded, Matthews returned fire and made his way back to the overturned vehicle to aid his wounded teammates. He located his team leader, who was ejected from the vehicle and seriously wounded, and moved him to safety while continuing to exchange fire with the enemy. As his Special Forces teammates regrouped, Matthews coordinated close air support and medical evacuation for the wounded. Despite being exposed to enemy fire, he continued to direct close air support, which eventually repelled the enemy.

"His heroism under fire while directing close air support allowed friendly forces to recover all personnel with no loss of life and maneuver out of the ambush's kill zone. Sergeant Matthews' actions undoubtedly saved the lives of his wounded teammates and an Afghan interpreter," the award citation reads.

On Oct. 6, 2012, Matlock's team began receiving intense enemy fire while conducting a patrol in Arabon Valley, Wardak Province, Afghanistan. Matlock dove into a nearby irrigation ditch and returned fire while coordinating air support to suppress the enemy fire pinning down his team. He crawled to a vantage point where he determined that two Special Forces and two Afghan partner force soldiers were severely wounded. Matlock soon realized that his team leader was also injured. With complete disregard for his own safety, Matlock jumped to his feet and ran to the aid of his teammates. He rendered first aid while coordinating medical evacuation flights and close air support. As medical evacuation helicopters arrived, he carried one of his injured comrades to safety while under enemy fire.

On Oct. 8, 2012, Jones served as the primary joint terminal attack controller assigned to an Army Special Forces Team conducting a tactical ground movement in Paktiya Province, Afghanistan. The team's lead vehicle struck an improvised explosive device, triggering a coordinated ambush. Jones immediately returned fire while coordinating close air support aircraft overhead. After the initial volley of enemy fire, Jones exited his vehicle and rushed to the command element, which was pinned down by enemy fire. As he made his way to the front of the convoy, Jones continued to engage the enemy and provide air support. While coordinating airstrikes, Jones lost line of sight communications with the aerial support. Without regard for his personal safety, Jones immediately moved to an exposed position in order to regain communications and continue aerial coordination to repel the enemy assault.

Between Jan. 15 and April 15, 2011, Thompson served as a joint terminal attack controller attached to an Army Special Forces team, conducting more than 35 combat patrols in the rugged terrain of Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. During one mission, insurgents ambushed his team with machine gun and small arms fire. Thompson returned fire, enabling the team to reach cover. He quickly relayed the location of two insurgents he identified, enabling Afghanistan Local Police to defeat both insurgents. Also, during a separate patrol, his team came under heavy small arms fire from insurgents. Thompson returned fire, re-supplied the M-249 machine gunner, and directed mortar fire. He then controlled fixed-wing air support, initiating an enemy withdrawal. Throughout the deployment, Thompson controlled 34 aircraft during multiple life-threatening missions.

The 125th STS was officially established on May 1, 2005, and is headquartered at the Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Ore. The 125th Special Tactics Squadron has 79 members made up of Combat Controllers (CCT), Special Operations Weathermen (SOWT), and numerous support positions. Members of the unit undergo a rigorous two-year training program where they graduate as combat divers, military free-fall and static-line parachutists and are trained to operate in any environment in the world.

Soldiers ready for World Cup on home range

By Michael Molinaro

FORT BENNING, Ga. – Seven Soldiers from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) will join members of the U.S. National Shooting Team to compete in the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Cup starting Friday at the USAMU’s Pool International Range Complex and Phillips Range on Fort Benning.

Enthusiasm surrounding the match has been amplified by Team USA’s home field advantage.
“It is very nice to be able to compete on our home range,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker, rifle team coach. “Hosting the World Cup on Fort Benning allows us to continue with our normal routines, and gives our families a rare opportunity to come out and watch us compete on the world stage." 

More than 400 competitors from 50 nations are expected to compete in the first of three scheduled World Cup rifle and pistol events leading up to the ISSF World Shooting Championships in September.
Leading the way in the rifle event are 2012 Olympians Sgt. 1st Class Eric Uptagrafft and Staff Sgt. Michael McPhail. The duo will compete against a stacked field in the Men’s Rifle Prone event that kicks off April 1. Included in the field are the 2012 Olympic Silver and Bronze Medalists from London: Lionel Cox of Belgium and Slovenia’s Rajmond Debevec.

“World Cups are significantly more competitive than some of the other competitions we attend,” Parker said. “Countries from all over the world send their best athletes to win medals… making a World Cup an extraordinary event."

Also competing in rifle are Staff Sgt. Joe Hein in Men’s Three-position rifle; Staff Sgt. George Norton, Air Rifle; and Sgt. Erin Lorenzen, Women’s Three-position rifle. Hein is a past World Cup gold medalist, while Lorenzen makes her first appearance at a World Cup.

Two pistol shooters will be part of the U.S. team — Sgt. 1st Class James Henderson and Staff Sgt. Brad Balsley. While Balsley will go for gold in Men’s Rapid Fire, Henderson will be looking to build on a strong performance at the U.S. World Cup selection match in Colorado Springs in February. The eight-time Interservice Pistol champion and 2009 National Pistol champion turned his attention to Olympic-style pistol shooting over the past year and looks to continue his progression in Men’s Free Pistol. Henderson said he is excited to begin his quest for the 2016 Olympics in comfortable surroundings.

“I’m really looking forward to competing in front of the home crowd,” Henderson said. “I’ve had a good start to the year thanks to hard work, dedication and input from my teammates. Now I have to go out and perform on the big stage.”

The World Cup kicks off Friday with the Men’s Air Rifle and Women’s Air Pistol events and concludes April 2. For match results follow AMU at facebook.com/USMAU1956 and at Twitter @USAMUSoldiers.
USAMU is part of the U.S. Army Accessions Brigade, Army Marketing and Research Group and is tasked with enhancing the Army’s recruiting effort, raising the standard of Army marksmanship and furthering small arms research and development to enhance the Army’s overall combat readiness.

Greenert: Forward Presence is Navy, Marine Corps Mandate

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2014 – The Navy-Marine Corps team is united in fulfilling the mandate to be where it matters, when it matters, Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, the chief of naval operations, said today.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos is “a great shipmate,” the admiral added during a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee.

Interaction between the two services has never been better, Greenert said, noting that he is committed to continuing that momentum.

“Forward presence is our mandate,” the admiral said. By operating from forward locations, the Navy and Marine Corps provide President Barack Obama with options to deal promptly with global contingencies, he explained.

“As we conclude over a decade of wars and bring our ground forces home from extended stability operations, your naval forces will remain on watch,” Greenert said.

The Navy’s efforts are focused in the Asia-Pacific region and the Arabian Gulf, he said, but the service continues to provide presence and response as needed in other theaters. “Now, with this forward presence, over the last year, we were able to influence and shape decisions of leaders in the Arabian Gulf, in Northeast Asia and the Levant,” the admiral said.

To protect American interests and encourage regional leaders to make the right choices, the Navy patrolled off the shores of Libya, Egypt and Sudan, he continued. And, he said, naval forces relieved suffering and provided assistance and recovery in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

The Navy’s forward presence dissuades aggression against the nation’s allies in the East and the South China Seas, the admiral noted, and helps to deter piracy in the Horn of Africa.

“And we continue to support operations in Afghanistan while taking the fight to insurgents, terrorists and their supporting networks across the Middle East and Africa with our expeditionary and our special operations forces,” he said.

The 2014 budget will enable the Navy to maintain an “acceptable” forward presence, Greenert said. There are sufficient funds to restore fleet training, maintenance and operations and recover a substantial part of the 2013 backlog, he noted.

Recognizing that budgetary constraints will continue through fiscal year 2015, the admiral said he set six priorities: sea-based strategic deterrence; forward presence; the capability and capacity to win decisively; readiness; asymmetric capabilities and maintaining technological edge; and sustaining a relevant industrial base.

“Using these priorities, we built a balanced portfolio of capabilities within the fiscal guidance provided,” he told the committee.

The Navy will continue to combine rotational forces and forward-based and forward stationed forces to maximize its presence in the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East, the admiral said.

The force still faces shortfalls in shore support, Greenert noted, and a facilities maintenance backlog that “will erode the ability of our bases to support the fleet.”

“We have slowed modernization in areas that are central to remain ahead of or keep pace with technologically advanced adversaries,” he said. “Consequently, we face higher risk if confronted with a high-tech adversary, or if we attempt to conduct more than one multiphase major contingency simultaneously.”

The prospect of returning to sequestration-level funding in 2016 is “troubling,” Greenert said. “That would lead to a Navy that is just too small and lacking the advanced capabilities needed to execute the missions that the nation faces and that it expects of its Navy,” he told the panel.

If defense funding reverted to the caps imposed in the 2010 Budget Control Act, he said, the Navy would be unable to execute at least four of the 10 primary missions articulated in the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review.

The Navy’s ability to respond to contingencies would be dramatically reduced, Greenert said, and, in a global crisis, the nation’s options and time to make decisions would be limited.

“We would be compelled to inactivate an aircraft carrier and an air wing,” the admiral said. “Further, … our modernization and our recapitalization would be dramatically reduced, threatening the readiness and threatening our industrial base.”

Greenert noted that the Navy is on board with the effort to get the nation’s fiscal house in order, but any budgetary solutions need to sustain readiness while building an affordable and relevant future force.

Navy Secretary: Naval Forces Support Nation’s Global Mission

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2014 – More than 200 years ago, the architects of the Constitution recognized that the nation needed a naval force to operate continuously in war and peace, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said today.

At that time, the United States had a crucial role in the world, he said at a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee.

“Today, that role is exponentially larger,” Mabus noted. “Whether facing high-end combat, asymmetrical threats or humanitarian needs, America's maritime forces are ready and present on Day One of any crisis for any eventuality.”

In today's dynamic security environment, the forward presence of naval assets serves to reassure the nation’s partners, he said, “and remind potential adversaries that we are never far away.”

When an international crisis develops, this presence offers the president immediate and capable options, Mabus said. In just the past year, he added, naval forces have operated throughout the Pacific region, in Afghanistan and from the Gulf of Guinea to the Arctic Circle.

The 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review are focused on maritime issues and require naval forces to be forward-deployed, the secretary said. People, platforms, power, and partnerships -- the key factors that enable the global presence and global action of naval forces -- have been Mabus’ focus as secretary, he added.

“In our fiscally constrained times, we have used these priorities to help balance between the readiness of the force, our capabilities, and our capacity,” Mabus said. “Our people are our biggest advantage, and we have to ensure that they continue to get the tools they need to do their jobs.”

One way the Navy is recognizing its people is by increasing sea pay for sailors and Marines deployed aboard ships, he said. But, Mabus noted, the growth in compensation and benefits threatens to affect all areas of the defense budget.

“If this is not addressed, as [Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations] puts it, the quality of work for our sailors and Marines will almost certainly decline,” he said.

Shipbuilding and naval platforms remain key elements of the nation’s maritime power, Mabus said. “While we have the most advanced platforms in the world, quantity has a quality all its own,” he added.

Under the budget plan proposed by the Defense Department, the Navy is on course to return the fleet to 300 ships, the secretary said. The Navy continues to look for ways to spend smarter and more efficiently, Mabus said, an effort that has driven down costs through competition, multiyear buys and “driving harder bargains for taxpayer dollars.”

Ensuring that ships, vehicles and aircraft have adequate fuel is a national security issue, he said, noting that fuel price increases threaten to degrade operations and training and could affect the number of platforms the nation can afford.

“Having more varied, stably priced, American-produced sources of energy makes us better warfighters,” Mabus said. “From sail to coal to oil to nuclear, and now to alternative fuels, the Navy has led in energy innovation.”

Since the end of World War II, the security and stability provided by the forward presence of U.S. naval forces has helped maintain the foundation of the world economy, he said.

Today, partnerships with other nations continue to increase in importance, the secretary told committee members. By virtue of their forward presence, the Navy and Marine Corps are well-suited to develop these relationships, Mabus said, “particularly in the innovative, small-footprint ways that are required.”

With the fiscal year 2015 budget submission, the Navy is seeking to provide sailors and Marines with the equipment, training and other tools they need to carry out the missions that the nation needs and expects from them, he said.

“There are never any permanent homecomings for sailors and Marines,” the secretary said. “In peacetime, wartime and all the time, they remain forward deployed, providing presence and providing whatever's needed for our country. This has been true for 238 years, and it is our task to make sure it remains true now and in the future.”

Air Force defeats Army 5-4 in JBER's first inter-service hockey game

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Blake Mize
JBER Public Affairs

3/25/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- Jacques Lamoureux scored a late goal to lift the Air Force to victory in Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's first Army vs. Air Force hockey game March 15.

A capacity crowd, hosted by the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, filled the Wells Fargo Sports Complex on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus to watch the game.

The Air Force's Josh Riley scored the game's first goal late in the first period, which the Army's John Orendorff equalized shortly after. The Army's Michael Lemanski opened the scoring in the second period, taking their first lead at 2-1. Lamoureux evened the scored at two, but Orendorff's second goal of the game took the Army into the third period with a 3-2 lead.

However, the Air Force capitalized on four third-period penalties against the Army, scoring two quick goals for a 4-3 lead. Matt Hickey scored the Army's fourth and final goal before Lamoureux netted the game winner with just over five minutes left in the game.

"I thought it was a lot of fun, very competitive," said Lamoureux, who was named game's most valuable player. "One of my old teammates from the [Air Force] Academy was out there and Matt Hickey played at West Point. We played against each other, so it was fun to renew those rivalries."

Hickey agreed the game was well-played but said it could have turned out better for his team.

"We hurt ourselves with penalties, just like with any hockey game," he said. "I think if we played seven games it would be a 4-3 series, but it was one and done - and they got the better side of it tonight."

The game at UAA was the second such Air Force vs. Army game in the last few weeks. The first, also won by the Air Force 9-6, took place in the Fairbanks area between Airmen from Eielson Air Force Base and Soldiers from Fort Wainwright.

The inter-service games off base were the idea of Army Maj. Gen. Michael Shields, U.S. Army Alaska commanding general, who also played for the Army team in Saturday's game.

In addition to the opportunity for friendly athletic competition, the purpose of the game was to foster esprit de corps between JBER military branches and to reach the local community by playing in Anchorage.

90th CES Fire & Emergency Services accredited

by Staff reports
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

3/25/2014 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- The 90th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services received Accredited Agency status with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International for meeting the criteria established through the CFAI's voluntary self-assessment and accreditation program.

F.E. Warren's fire department is one of 150 agencies to achieve Internationally Accredited Agency status with the CFAI and the Center for Public Safety Excellence, Inc. Out of the of the 30,125 registered with the United States Fire Administration, 150 fire departments have the accredited status with the CFAI . The 90th CES fire department is the ninth Air Force fire & emergency services flight to receive this status, the first in Air Force Global Strike Command and the first in Wyoming.

The CFAI assists fire and emergency service agencies throughout the world to help them achieve excellence through self-assessment and accreditation in order to provide continuous quality improvement and enhanced service delivery to their communities.

Accreditation is voluntary and provides an agency with an improvement model to assess their delivery and performance internally. The agency works with a team of peers from other agencies to evaluate their completed self-assessment.

The department completed the self-assessment consisting of 258 different performance criteria in the past three years. Additionally, a four-person peer team visited the department in early December 2013, to validate the documents and data previously presented, as well as confirm performance measures met established industry standards.

The commission convened in Henderson, Nev., March 10 and 11, and agencies recommended for accredited status appeared before the commission to answer questions and defend their respective documents and data. The commission voted unanimously to award F.E. Warren's fire department the status.

"The achievement of Accredited Agency status demonstrates the commitment of our department to provide the highest quality of service to F.E. Warren Air Force Base," said John McDougall, 90th CES fire chief. "I am very proud of our department for this achievement."

Hagel Chooses Navy Admiral to Oversee Ethics Efforts

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has chosen Navy Rear Adm. Margaret “Peg” Klein to serve as his senior advisor for military professionalism.

A 1981 graduate of the Naval Academy, Klein is currently serving as chief of staff to the Joint Staff’s director of strategic plans and policy.

In her new job, Klein will report directly to Hagel. In addition to coordinating the actions of the Joint Staff, the combatant commands and the military services, she will work directly with the service secretaries and chiefs on the Defense Department’s focus on ethics, character and competence in all activities at every level of command with an uncompromising culture of accountability, Hagel said in a statement announcing Klein’s selection.

“I appreciate Rear Admiral Klein’s willingness to take on this new assignment,” Hagel said. “She brings to the position a wealth of operational and leadership experience, including command responsibilities at various levels throughout the Navy community.”

Klein served as the 82nd commandant of midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, the secretary noted. “She knows that ethics and character are absolute values that must be constantly reinforced,” he added.

Klein has served in numerous operational assignments as a naval flight officer, and has held several command and leadership positions and staff assignments. She has more than 4,500 flight hours in the EC-130 and the E-6. Her decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Thousands across the state gear up for Alaska Shield 2014

by Capt. Melonie San Pietro
Alaskan Command Public Affairs

3/25/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 9.2-magnitude Great Alaska Earthquake, the State of Alaska will host Alaska Shield 2014 from March 27 to April 3. Federal, state and local authorities will join together to test interagency response in a natural disaster scenario.

Northern Command's Exercise Ardent Sentry, Joint Task Force-Alaska's Arctic Edge and the Alaska National Guard's Exercise Vigilant Guard and numerous other large-scale exercises will sync together under one vast exercise umbrella, Alaska Shield, to respond to a catastrophic natural disaster resembling the Great Alaska Earthquake.

In addition to the 10,000 Alaska-based Department of Defense assets taking part, 1,200 are deploying in from the lower 48 to participate. The State of Alaska, the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Army and Air National Guard, Joint Task Force-Alaska and many other federal, local and state agencies will play major roles in the exercise.

"In real life, all of these agencies would have to work together in response to a natural disaster, so it is important that they work together in an exercise setting," said Richard Everson, an exercise planner for Joint Task Force-Alaska.

"The state has had ambitious public outreach," Everson said. "The last Alaska Shield exercise in 2010 had over 4,000 interagency participants. We are expecting much higher numbers this year."

Not only are agencies participating, but entire communities are getting involved. Anchorage, Cordova, Fairbanks, Homer, Kenai Peninsula Borough, Kodiak, Juneau, and Matanuska-Susitna Borough are all heavily invested in the exercise.

A variety of scenarios, ranging from search and rescue to hazardous material spills to providing shelter and food for victims, are planned across the state of Alaska in these communities each day of the exercise.

For example, this Friday, Samaritan's Purse, an international relief organization, will deploy its Mobile Field Hospital along with a 22-person medical team of surgeons, physicians, nurses and anesthesiologists. Patients will arrive with simulated injuries like broken bones and hypothermia to simulate the injuries that would occur in an actual earthquake.
In Cordova, residents of an entire apartment building will practice a full evacuation. A simulated earthquake will also leave the harbor in shambles, leaving seven fishermen dead or injured. Participants will put on their survival suits and simulate the injured or dead fishermen by floating in the water until they are rescued.

Joint Logistics Over the Shore, or JLOTS, is a term the U.S. military uses to describe the loading and off-loading of ships in unimproved areas where ports are unavailable or damaged. The exercise will simulate that the Port of Anchorage is severely damaged by an earthquake making normal port operations impossible for immediate relief operations.

JLOTS will bring approximately 700 active-duty and Reserve Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen from all over the United States, said Everson. It will test their ability to reestablish port facilities, offload containers, equipment and bulk supplies, and transfer, store, and deliver fuel to the area.

According to The Great Alaska Shakeout website, an impressive 100,000 residents across Alaska have signed up to participate in the Great Alaska Shakeout. The goal of the event is to get organizations and families prepared for big earthquakes by practicing how to "drop, cover, and hold on", along with other aspects of emergency planning.

The overarching Alaska Shield 2014 exercise will provide participating organizations an opportunity to test procedures and refine the interagency partnerships critical in all phases of response to a catastrophic widespread natural disaster in Alaska.

It's also important to improve the ability of every resident in Alaska to respond to a natural disaster.

"Anyone remotely paying attention knows this exercise is going on," said Everson. "Because of the media coverage that is planned throughout the exercise, every Alaskan really has a great opportunity to learn from Alaska Shield."