Friday, March 28, 2014

Belizean, US officials make final preparations for Corozal MEDRETES

by Tech. Sgt. Kali Gradishar
12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)

3/28/2014 - COROZAL, Belize  -- Belizean government and U.S. military officials met March 24 to discuss final preparations for the upcoming New Horizons medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES, in the Corozal region in Belize.

Belizean and military medical providers will use the MEDRETES as an opportunity to learn from one another as they provide medical care to residents out of schools in Chunox, Progresso and Libertad.

"The three schools agreed to let us use their facilities to provide medical care, so we reconnected with the principals to make sure everything was ready to go," said Lt. Col. James Smith, New Horizons chief liaison officer. Belizean and U.S. medical teams will work side by side "to provide general medicine, dentistry and veterinarian care to the local population" and their pets.

"New Horizons is an example of one of the humanitarian and disaster relief missions," Smith said. "Not only is it a way for us to provide direct medical care on an individual basis to the people of Belize, it allows us an opportunity to train."

For the past few months, the Belizean government and U.S. military representatives have coordinated these exercises to ensure the best possible care is provided to the locals while also providing valuable training opportunities for Belizean and U.S. medical professionals.

The final visit was to touch base with administrators at each school, said Pablo Gonzalez, Ministry of Education School Community Liaison Officer. "Permission has been granted by the Ministry of Education, [so we were] reiterating that the mission will take place, and it's very close."

The training exercises are a two-way partnership during which Belizean and U.S. participants can benefit from working with one another as they share knowledge in their respective specialties of general medicine, dental and veterinarian practices. Sharing lessons learned and best practices between the countries' medical professionals is advantageous to both countries as they strive to better the care provided.

"When it deals with getting things to the community, for example medical services or any other form of help and assistance to the community, our leaders are quite helpful for that," Gonzalez explained. "Getting permissions and planning has been smooth running because we see the need."

Belize was the site of New Horizons 2013, during which great benefits were seen on both the Belizean and U.S. military fronts.

"The people are what make the country," said Smith of his perception of Belize. The magnitude of "accomplishments they've made and the milestones they've met is great, and they've made great strides in the care they provide to their people.

Residents of all ages in regions near the schools can meet with medical providers and receive care at each of the three schools where Belizean and U.S. medical professionals will be stationed.

"I just want to encourage the community to come out," Gonzales said. "Take advantage of this opportunity" as Belizean and U.S. medical teams provide care in Chunox, Progresso and Libertad.

"The doctors will be waiting to assist you," he added.

Exercise Tonnerre Lighting 14-1: Refining the language of war

by U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

3/28/2014 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany  -- British, French, and U.S. Airmen wrapped up the inaugural Exercise Tonnerre Lightning 14-1 here and other operating locations Friday.

The tri-lateral exercise, which replicates a coalition response to a contingency operation, developed as a method for the U.S., the United Kingdom and France's air forces to strengthen their combined interoperability.

"We are always looking for ways to exercise and improve our methods as allies," said Brig. Gen. Christopher J. Bence, Joint Forces Allied Air Component commander for the exercise. "We are extremely fortunate that our forward-based presence allows us to constantly train with our French and British allies."

The first of these multiple tri-lateral exercises, which has been in the planning phase for over six months, focused on communications integration and interoperability to support air operations.

Partner nations synchronized command and control efforts at the 603rd Air and Space Operations Center at Ramstein Air Base while deployed forces conducted training operations off the coast of England.

"This exercise allowed us to test and refine secure communications with our close partner nations," said Maj. Jan-Peter Linch, U.S. Air Force action officer for the exercise. "In a short amount of time, our three nations' teams effectively validated significant capabilities that are crucial to the success of our tri-lateral operations."

Planners coordinated and directed a large-scale air campaign including aircraft from the 48th Fighter Wing and the 100th Air Refueling Wing along with allied strike, refueling and airborne control aircraft.

Friendly forces conducted strikes against simulated enemy targets while simultaneously fighting enemy air forces, all played by allied fighters.

The overall goal for the exercise was to smooth out complications that arise when communicating between air forces, said Linch.

"The training is aimed at reinforcing a common understanding between partner nations," he said. "This allows for more effective operations at any given time while strengthening our combined capabilities."

During contingencies, allied air coalitions can be quickly assembled to meet desired objectives, which can range from delivering humanitarian assistance to launching air strikes.

The United Kingdom, France and the U.S. have continuously collaborated over the years to provide airpower assistance on numerous occasions, including Libya in 2011, and the recent crises in Mali and the Central African Republic.

"Based on past experiences with our allies, I have seen our effectiveness at quickly putting teams together and achieving the objectives," said Squadron Leader Gordon Ferguson, UK action officer for the exercise. "But this success does not come without complications. That's the advantage of practicing--we can refine our processes together through robust training exercises."

Tonnerre Lightning is planned to be held twice a year with the command rotating among the three nations.

While this iteration was led by the U.S., the next Tonnerre Lightning will be led by France later this year.

"The goal for each exercise is to become progressively more complex than the previous one," said French Lt. Col. Pascal Sotty, director of the French JFAC in Lyon. "For this
iteration we focused on communications and creating the products needed for forces to effectively talk, plan and execute the mission. We look forward to the next opportunity together to test our procedures."

ARPC hosts Defense Council

by Lt. Col. Belinda Petersen
Air Reserve Personnel Center Public Affairs

3/28/2014 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- With a little bit of AC/DC music, hot breakfast burritos, and videos showcasing innovative Airmen from the Air Reserve Personnel Center, members of the Defense Council were treated to an early morning meeting that was anything but dull.

Brig. Gen. Samuel "Bo" Mahaney, ARPC commander, along with breakfast staff from the Hilton Garden Inn, hosted this month's Defense Council meeting at the ARPC conference room March 27.

"One of the things I've learned in my five months here is that ARPC is a premier organization made up of innovative Airmen who are experts in their field," Mahaney said. "That's the thing that strikes me is the innovation found in the center."

Defense Council is a committee of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce that is dedicated to building greater understanding between military and business communities in the local area. The committee is comprised of local business and military leaders and public servants to provide for the integration of military personnel into the local community.

The meeting was attended by nearly 100 people and included updates from base partner commanders, local and state organizations, planning partnership from the city of Aurora, and video presentations by Mahaney.

Through four fast-paced presentations, Mahaney highlighted the Air Force Reserve mission, the history of ARPC, how ARPC is creating the future, and virtualizing work such as force development.

"I'm used to seeing mission briefings and standard powerpoint slides, but Gen. Mahaney's presentations were very entertaining and enlightening," said George Peck, vice president, public affairs and operations of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce. "I appreciated how he presented his concepts in a way that was easily understandable."

During his presentation, Mahaney explained that ARPC is moving from a brick and mortar concept to technological innovation. "Instead of focusing on what we're doing right here right now, we're thinking ahead - two years, five years, and 10 years, to what the future will look like for our customers," Mahaney said. "We've got to stay out in front of this thing. We are made up of Total Force Airmen of nearly 1 million customers, but we're going to transition into having about 1.3 million in the future. It's in our DNA to serve generations of Airmen."

To illustrate his point, Mahaney showed a video on virtual developmental team boards. By virtualizing these boards, senior leaders and career field managers can stay at their home station while still meeting together to develop and mentor Airmen in their careers.

"We are working on perfecting this process which will save money and travel time and keep people at their home station," said Lt. Col. Michael Ortiz, project manager team lead for this initiative. "Other agencies are beginning to see and coming here to learn how we do that here. That's why it's so important that we get this right."

Mahaney also talked about infrastructure. "We don't own the infrastructure; we are not the architect. But we are still responsible to our customers who rely heavily upon those systems. Therefore, we are their advocate, their champions. We will take the lead in repairing, correcting, and developing these systems," Mahaney said.

Mahaney concluded by stating that ARPC is a force of innovation. "We're taking today's challenges and converting those into tomorrow's solutions. I talk about ARPC as the thundering herd. Either get with us or get out of the way. If not, you know what happens," he said.

Lisa Buckley, Defense Council chair, thanked Mahaney for his presentations. "One of our goals is to identify common interests of the civilian and military populations and support efforts of mutual concern," said Buckley. "Thank you very much for everything that you and the thundering herd do."

Cumberland County Planning Department employees receive Patriot Awards

by Jon Sole
Cumberland County

3/28/2014 - FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- Three Cumberland County Planning and Inspections Department employees recently received Patriot Awards from the Secretary of Defense for their support of an Air Force reservist who works as a code enforcement officer with the department.

Planning Director Tom Lloyd, Deputy Director Cecil Combs and Code Enforcement Manager Ken Sykes were recognized for their support of Christopher Fulton, an Air Force Reserve staff sergeant who has been employed by Cumberland County Government for three years and has been a Planning and Inspections code enforcement officer for a year. Fulton is assigned to the 440th Airlift Wing at Pope Army Airfield and has served in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Darrell Johnson of the North Carolina Employer Support of Guard and Reserve Committee presented the awards March 4. Reserve and National Guard members can nominate employers for the Patriot Award through the ESGR. The award acknowledges employers' efforts to support "Citizen Warriors" through such measures as flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, care for families and leaves of absence if needed.

Col. Don Wren, 440th Airlift Wing mission support group commander, and Lt. Col. Jimmy Wood, the support group deputy commander, attended the award presentation.

"We support Christopher in his Air Force Reserve service," Combs said. "Being from a military community, we understand his commitment and we embrace it."

Keeping the Eyes of the Eagle sharp

by David Bedard
JBER Public Affairs

3/28/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- On the night of Oct. 4, 1958, 111 passengers boarded a Pan Am Boeing 707 at New York's Idlewild Airport for a non-stop 8 hours and 41 minutes flight to Paris' Le Bourget Airport. The journey ushered in the jet age for the United States and made the world a seemingly smaller place.

Nearly 34 years later in 1992, the final E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft rolled off the assembly line. Based on the venerable 707-320, the E-3s were among the last 707s built, ending serial production 14 years after the last commercial passenger variant left the factory.

More than 55 years after the 707 began commercial service and 22 years after the last Sentry was delivered to the Air Force, Airmen of the 962nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit, 703rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, are charged with keeping Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's two E-3s mission ready.

Air Force Master Sgt. John Sheuer, 962nd AMU production superintendent, said it can be a challenge harnessing eight different career fields for three around-the-clock shifts, which ensure 24-hour support of the 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron and the Alaska NORAD Region AWACS mission. It's a contrast to operations at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., where the 552nd Air Control Wing operates 28 E-3s serviced by hundreds of maintainers.

Sheuer said Sentry maintainers who cut their teeth at Tinker can become accustomed to a parochial maintenance environment. For instance, aircraft hydraulic systems specialists would band together and jump on an E-3 with a radar dome hydraulics failure, and would not typically be expected to change a tire.

Because of shift work at JBER, there may only be one or two hydraulics specialists available, so it necessarily becomes an all-hands-on-deck operation to get the radome fully operational again.

"You may have eight to 12 people on a shift," Sheuer, a native of Avon Lake, Ohio, said. "You don't have the luxury of waiting for more guys to come in. You borrow somebody."
Tech. Sgt. Christopher Foreman, 962nd AMU radar surveillance craftsman, said he spent 10 of his 12 years at Tinker Air Force Base. Until he reported to JBER, the Pangburn, Ark., native focused solely on radar maintenance. Today, he is involved with all aspects of E-3 maintenance, from aircraft launch and recovery to fitting engine covers.

Because there are a lot of common skills among electronics disciplines such as radar, computers and instruments, Foreman said the career fields help each other out more than they would at other bases.

"Electronics is electronics," he said. "A hot wire over here is still a hot wire over there. So, if they have an electronic problem, I can pitch in and help them. If they need muscle to change a tire, I can help with that. Maintenance is maintenance. You're not going to be good at everything, but you're going to be good enough to pitch in where needed."

The unit's multifunctional approach paid off when a 962nd AACS E-3 Sentry deployed last month to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for exercise Cope North 2014, with maintainers of the AMU ensuring the airframe didn't miss a mission due to maintenance.

Sheuer said the AWACS self deployed Feb. 14 with 24 aircrew, 12 AMU Airmen, mission equipment, and the tools and parts necessary to keep the Sentry fully operational.

The production superintendent said he coordinated closely with the E-3 crew that deployed from Kadena Air Base, Japan, to ensure he brought the right 12 Airmen. A Sentry normally deploys with 18 AMU Airmen. The E-3 was able to fly 15 of 16 missions, missing one due to weather.

"Since we were held to 12 people, we had to make the most of a package footprint of 12 people, including as many multi-role people as possible," Sheuer said. "Its a pretty good chest bump on your Airmen when you don't fail any missions because of maintenance. If the weather holds you down, there's nothing you can do about Mother Nature."

Constrained to one shift's Airmen during the exercise made for some long days, Sheuer said. During preventive maintenance of an engine's pressure shutoff valve, they found a broken pre-cooler. The E-3 is allowed to have three of four operational, but it left them no margin for error. The part was dispatched from Kadena via commercial carrier and was delivered on a Saturday, a scheduled day off from the exercise.

"Our goal was to maintain the aircraft and if it requires you to work a 12-hour shift on Saturday or Sunday, or not have any days off, then that's what we're paid to do," Sheuer said. "We're paid to work that aircraft."

Sheuer said because the E-3 can be classified as a legacy airframe owing to its 707 platform, the plane's age comes with maintenance advantages and disadvantages.
He said the decades of institutional knowledge certainly helps to prevent recurring problems. Legacy aircraft develop patterns and wear cycles that can be predicted and mitigated. Many parts are warehoused at Tinker, including crated TF-33 engines that haven't been produced in nearly 30 years.

An older aircraft makes for some interesting challenges finding certain parts, Sheuer said. For years, the E-3's two galley refrigerators were typically repaired at Tinker - cooling fins cleaned, joints re-soldered and freon refilled. It saved the Air Force money, but a demand was never recorded for the FAA-approved refrigerators, and they consequently disappeared from the supply chain making replacing a truly broken refrigerator difficult.

Despite the challenges of smaller pools of maintenance disciplines, Sheuer said he relishes working with AMU Airmen to meet those challenges. He said he was especially proud of how his small team worked together during Cope North.

"It's a three-shift operation at home station," Sheuer said. "And when you have 12 people and you are the shift, you can rely on the other base, but it's your aircraft, it's your maintenance and to stick your chest out and say this is our maintenance, this is what we made happen - that's pretty cool."

Generating Airpower: From the ground up

by Senior Airman Derek VanHorn
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

3/26/2014 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- (This article is the initial piece of a series featuring the 35th Maintenance Group on their ability to generate airpower for the 35th Fighter Wing's Wild Weasels. The 35 MXG is compiled of 22 career fields that support the mission of the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses, the only SEAD wing in Pacific Air Forces.)

From beginning to end, it's 9,999 feet. For many Airmen here, it's a home away from home. It has to be. Some of the world's most threatening machines live here and must always be prepared to strike, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

It's Misawa Air Base's flight line, and it hosts some of the most resilient Airmen in the entire U.S. Air Force. Most of them are maintainers from the 35th Maintenance Group, and they're the backbone of an unrivaled aerial force that provides the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses if called upon.

"This flight line never sleeps," said Staff Sgt. Seth Puit, a 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief who has spent the past 18 months at Misawa.

Puit is one of about 975 enlisted maintainers across 22 career fields who brave the cold, snowy winters and hot, muggy summers here to keep 44 F-16 Fighting Falcons - split between the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons -- in action year-round.

Puit said each day starts nearly the same with an early morning wakeup and an old-fashioned roll call to make sure headcounts are where they need to be.

"The next thing we do is get to fixing jets," he said. "We get our assignments, get our tools ready and get to work."

It's not always that simple, but maintainers know how to find their way around just about any problem. As one of about 180 crew chiefs at Misawa, Puit has a hand in almost every fix possible on an F-16. It's a congruity shared by most of those who spend their time in a world full of long workdays, ear protection, busted knuckles and the undying scent of jet fuel.

"We [pilots] know these guys are out there when the snow is coming down, the wind is blowing -- out in the elements," said Lt. Col. John McDaniel, 35 FW F-16 pilot and special assistant to the commander. "They're out there changing tires, fueling jets and making necessary fixes to keep us airborne."

From planning and scheduling flights to loading up AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles on swarms of jets, these Airmen have their hands on literally every aspect of the operation. They work in Pacific Air Forces, which is responsible for 50 percent of the world's population stretching across 36 nations.

The sole purpose of this huge area of responsibility and worldwide presence is to project airpower from the ground up. The mission here is the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses, and its terminating stages are carried out by more than 50 F-16 pilots assigned to the wing.

"We're the only SEAD game in town," McDaniel said, who commanded the 13 FS for nearly two years. "We're capable of a lot; we can kill all enemy air threats, suppress or kill surface threats, and have the ability to drop bombs on targets."

The SEAD mission has a worldwide impact, and there's no question that maintenance is the framework for its success, said Lt. Col. Gene Sherer, 35th Operations Group commander who has been flying the SEAD mission for nine years and has flown with the 13 and 14 FS's here.

"We are incredibly proficient; the integration between squadrons is seamless and both contain outstanding pilots and maintainers," Sherer said.

Sherer has flown in Operation Northern Watch, Operation Southern Watch and most recently in Operation Iraqi Freedom where he was able to execute the SEAD mission in its purest form.

"It's an amazing experience," Sherer said. "We did some dropping on troops in contact, on some enemy vehicles -- the whole mix. After we established our air dominance with SEAD, we were able to lean more toward helping our guys on the ground."

It's fitting those in the air provide security for those who spend countless hours preparing jets on the ground.

"They're exceptional -- I've never seen it better," Sherer said of 35 MXG maintainers.

McDaniel echoed those thoughts and said he'll always remember a story that epitomizes the nature of a maintainer. He was driving into work during a winter storm in almost 30 mph winds, and as he entered the flight line he could faintly make out the shape of an F-16 through the snow as it rested outside its hangar.

McDaniel said it was nasty out and the snow was coming down hard, and on top of the jet were a crew of maintainers working on the jet's gun in the frigid conditions.

"If the jet is outside, we're outside," Puit said. "We take pride in our work. A good maintainer always takes pride in his jet."

"These guys are dedicated," McDaniel said. "They're really the unsung heroes; they do a ton of work and don't always receive credit for it."

That type of dedicated work translated into more than 6,000 sorties and 8,000 hours flown in 2013 alone, with higher rates projected through 2014. More flights mean more maintenance - a lifestyle maintainers embrace, especially at Misawa.

"We know we have to keep jets in the air, and these jets aren't flying without us," Puit said. "We have the right people working here to get the job done. I never want to leave."

It's a sentiment shared by pilots as well.

"Ultimately, our success is only made possible by their success," Sherer said. "It's all about teamwork."

Women's History Month: Diamonds of the Wolf Pack

by Staff Sgt. Jessica Haas
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

3/27/2014 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- When most women think of a diamond, they think of something bright and tough, something that can weather anything.

Similarly, first sergeants in the Air Force are tough with an ability to withstand lots of obstacles - they're also outgoing and approachable.

"My son often gets asked, 'What does your mom do in the Air Force?' He replies saying a first sergeant, followed with an explanation of, 'She's like a mom to the Airmen in her squadron'," said Master Sgt. Jennifer Shelley, first sergeant to both the 8th Force Support Squadron and 8th Fighter Wing Staff Agencies.

Here at Kunsan, the Wolf Pack is graced with seven of their very own female first sergeants. These women are in a special career field already, but being a female does make their role a little more unique than most.

"I became a first sergeant because I wanted to broaden my perspective on how the Air Force works," said Shelley. "Additionally, I like helping people. It is very rewarding when you get to make a difference in someone's life."

And these first sergeants do make a difference. First sergeants are charged with the vital task of helping Airmen when they are going through a hard time, no matter the case.

"I think females have a natural ability to nurture," said Shelley. "Therefore, when someone is going through something very emotional, it is very easy for us to take on that motherly role."

"I grew up military and knew what a first sergeant was," said Senior Master Sgt. Karen Muncey, 8th Maintenance Squadron first sergeant. "The first sergeant was always the one person you could turn to when nobody else could help during adverse times, and I wanted to be able to help others overcome adversity in their life. It is something I'm passionate about and am grateful for the opportunity."

While helping others in difficult times is a pro in this duty, it too comes with its own set of cons.

"Biases continue to be a challenge," said Muncey. "I have found that when a male Airman has an issue going on with a spouse, they are concerned to bring that to me for fear that I will automatically side with the spouse and not give them a chance."

Muncey says she values fairness and integrity, so as long an Airman is telling the truth and has evidence to back it up, then the Airman will usually leave feeling relieved.

"I really do care about them and am willing to listen to their side of the story," continued Muncey. "I overcome these challenges by leaning on my own personal values and experiences."

When Muncey first decided to become a first sergeant, her then chief for the medical group, asked her if she was sure she wanted to do it.

"She said, 'You know you will be challenged as a female and you will have to prove yourself every day'," said Muncey. "Being female is not new. I have faced gender bias my entire career and it only gives me a greater appreciation for those who came before me and even more for those that will follow."

She said she's well aware as a female, she is under a microscope - but she also knows what she does can make a difference, even if it's as simple as setting an example.

Another challenge female first sergeants must overcome is the stereotype that since they are female, they won't be as tough in terms of discipline.

"Some might think because we are female that we are going to be easier on them or lax with our standards," said Shelley. "I think they are usually pretty shocked when they find out that isn't the case at all!"

Even with these challenges, these women don't let it deter them in their duties, and they still love their job and the fact there are many women as first sergeants here.

"I definitely think it's neat we have so many females as first sergeants here," said Master Sgt. Richelle Baker, 8th Operations Group first sergeant. "Normally you don't see very many female first sergeants. I was one of two out of 20 at my last base."

"I think it's a great example to set for other female Airmen out there who may be afraid they won't make it that far in the military," said Shelley. "It's good for them to see others who have made it far - the same goes for Falcon and Wolf Chief. It's an inspiration to see, and I'm proud to be part of it."

Like an actual diamond, they are strong enough to withstand the pressures and continue to serve their Airmen on a daily basis. Day or night, these women of the Wolf Pack work hard to ensure their Airmen are always ready to take the fight North.

Former Norwegian Prime Minister Designated to Lead NATO

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2014 – Former prime minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, was designated today to serve as the next secretary general of NATO.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement that he welcomed the selection.

“Former Prime Minister Stoltenberg will bring strong credentials and experience to the alliance at a critically important time,” Hagel said.

“NATO has been and continues to be a force for peace, prosperity and freedom, not only in Europe, but around the world,” the defense secretary said. The United States, he added, will continue to strongly support the alliance and all of its member nations.

America's commitment to NATO's collective defense is firm and resolute, Hagel said.

Stoltenberg will succeed current Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen when his term expires Oct. 1, 2014. Rasmussen was prime minister of Denmark for eight years before becoming NATO secretary general in 2009.

"I want to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to NATO Secretary General Rasmussen for his many years of strong leadership, for his commitment to strengthening the alliance, and for his continued hard work in bringing a critical NATO summit together this coming September in Wales," Hagel said.

The 2014 NATO summit will take place Sept. 4-5 in Wales. The last NATO summit was in Chicago in 2012.

Hagel Thanks Alexander, Cyber Community for Defense Efforts

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has paid tribute to retiring Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, who is stepping down as head of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, crediting him with leading key assets in the intelligence community through one of the most challenging periods in history.

“Thanks to General Alexander’s visionary leadership as the first commander of U.S. Cyber Command, the Department of Defense is on its way to building an elite, modern cyber force,” the secretary told military and civilian NSA employees at the agency’s Fort Meade, Md. Headquarters.

Hagel credited Alexander with working to protect the nation at a time when the NSA has faced controversy for its surveillance programs leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden.

“He did so with a fierce, but necessary, determination to develop and protect tools vital to our national security,” the secretary said. “President Obama’s reforms, including his announcement yesterday on government retention of telephone metadata, reflect both the importance of signals intelligence, and the importance of honoring our nation’s tradition of privacy rights.”

The United States will maintain the investment in intelligence,  one of America’s most important national assets, Hagel said. “We also are protecting critical investments in our military’s cyber capabilities.”

Hagel noted how often Pentagon computers are targeted.  “During the course of my remarks today, DOD systems will have been scanned by adversaries around 50,000 times,” Hagel said. “Our nation confronts the proliferation of destructive malware and a new reality of steady, ongoing, and aggressive efforts to probe, access, or disrupt public and private networks, and the industrial control systems that manage our water, energy, and food supplies.”

America has always adapted to new threats, the secretary said.

“But today, a networked world -- a world in which oceans are crossed at the speed of light -- presents challenges to American security that our nation has never before confronted,” Hagel said. “Our responsibility, whatever the revolutions in technology, is to guard not only our nation, but also the fundamental character of our open society.”

Alexander is stepping down after a 40 year military career, and Hagel noted how technology has changed during his years in uniform.

“Today, more than 40 trillion emails are sent each year,” Hagel said. “There are 60 trillion web pages. The internet accounts for one-fifth of GDP growth among developed countries. And it continues to connect, improve and transform the lives of billions of people.”

Alexander has helped leaders across DOD recognize that cyberspace will be a part of all future conflicts.

“The United States does not seek to ‘militarize’ cyberspace,” Hagel said. “Instead, our government is promoting the very qualities of the internet -- integrity, reliability, and openness -- that have made it a catalyst for freedom and prosperity in the United States and around the world.”

DOD will maintain an approach of restraint to any cyber operations outside of U.S. government networks.

“We will continue to take steps to be open and transparent about our cyber capabilities, doctrine, and forces -- with the American people, our allies and partners, and even competitors,” he said.

This capability requires dedicated professionals, Hagel said, and Alexander has assiduously been recruiting and training these computer warriors.

“In 2016, that force should number 6,000 professionals who, with the close support of National Security Agency, will be integrated with our combatant commands around the world,” the secretary said. “Continuing General Alexander’s work to build this cyber force will remain one of DOD’s top priorities.”

Hagel also credited the NSA’s rank and file for protecting Americans in ways most will never know. “Your contributions have been decisive,” Hagel said. “You enabled the military to dramatically reduce casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan by helping disable improvised explosive devices, and provided critical intelligence that helped hunt down the world’s most notorious terrorists.”

The agency also worked with U.S. and Mexican authorities to combat the violence associated with the ongoing struggle against drug cartels.

“There is much more we simply can’t discuss in public,” Hagel said. “But we can say that, from the Battle of Midway to the age of terror, our nation’s history would read differently were it not for the NSA and its predecessors.”

Robert G. Bradley is Decommissioned

By Ensign Christopher M. Cate, USS Robert G. Bradley Public Affairs

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Nearly 30 years after she was commissioned in 1984, Cmdr. Pete Ehlers, commanding officer of USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49), decommissioned the ship March 28, at a Naval Station Mayport ceremony.

Lt. Gen. Joseph L. Votel, commander, Joint Special Operations Command, was the guest speaker; Commodore, Destroyer Squadron 14, Capt. Ryan Tillotson, presided over the decommissioning event. Also in attendance were previous commanding officers, as well as three survivors of USS Princeton (CVL 23).

FFG 49 was the first U.S. Navy ship to be named for a Washington D.C. native. Lt. Robert Graham Bradley served as assistant first lieutenant aboard Princeton, where he led a repair party in efforts to save the ship after it was attacked by a Japanese dive bomber during the battle of Leyte Gulf. Bradley and his repair team lost their lives when the flames spread to an aft torpedo magazine and detonated four, 100-pound bombs. For his actions, Bradley was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.

"For nearly 30 years this ship has carried Lt. Robert G. Bradley's name and spirit in defense of our nation," said Ehlers. "It has been a privilege and an honor to be the commanding officer of the last crew of 'Bradleymen.' I could not be more proud of them."

After participating in UNITAS in the Western Caribbean Sea in September 2012, and completing a Board of Inspection and Survey, the ship departed in late October for a seven-month deployment to the 6th Fleet Area of Responsibility.

Initially assigned an Africa Partnership mission, the crew quickly reconfigured the ship with four MQ-8B Fire Scouts to support Africa Command, Counter-Terrorism Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance tasking. They completed more than 900 flight hours with the MQ-8B Fire Scouts while on station and conducted the first concurrent Dual-Air-Vehicle mission with another Fire Scout-equipped frigate.

The end of 2013 found the crew assisting in deployment preparations and certifications for USS West Virginia (SSBN 123), George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group, and the Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group.

The ship is slated to be offered for foreign military sales.

Pope Airmen team with Army depot to learn Lean

by Jacqueline Boucher
Tobyhanna Army Depot

3/28/2014 - TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. -- Air Force aircraft maintenance mechanics recently teamed up with depot employees to standardize processes for work performed on a satellite communications system and tactical radios.

Lean proponent and former Tobyhanna Army Depot employee Senior Master Sgt. John Sosko brought four reservists from Pope Army Airfield, N.C., here to benchmark the depot's Lean Program and participate in two Lean events -- a value stream analysis and rapid improvement event.

Lean is a program of continuous improvement based on eliminating unnecessary steps in a process, such as rearranging an area to improve work flow, to improve efficiency. Value stream analysis is a program to identify what can be improved. A rapid improvement event targets a specific area to improve organization.

"It's always good to gain a fresh perspective and capture great ideas," said Sosko, Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assistant superintendent at Pope. "Tobyhanna is at the forefront of Lean thinking and will always be our first choice to learn more about the program."

The Satellite Transportable Terminal is new workload being inducted now. The value stream analysis was used as a planning event to define, develop and document a standard process. The mobile satellite system provides communications virtually anywhere.

"It was very rewarding for us to have the opportunity to work and interact directly with the Airmen," said John Scott, process improvement specialist in the Productivity, Improvement and Innovation Directorate's Process Improvement Division. "We learned a great deal from them."

According to Scott, the STT program is another opportunity to develop a process built around predictability, standardization and visibility. "Putting quality products on the battlefield is our number one priority and who better to get feedback from but the users themselves."

Process improvement specialist Clark Ross explained that the AN/VRC-104(V)6 Joint Tactical Radio System is one of four joint (used by more than one military service) radios that are overhauled at Tobyhanna. The Rapid Improvement Event was held to adjust for an 83 percent average monthly increase in workload.

"Our goal was to standardize the overhaul process, document the standard process and reduce over runs," said Ross. Furthermore, the team mapped the process and verified the processing time needed to complete the radios on schedule. Ross noted that lessons learned from this event will be applied to the other joint radios
This was the second visit for personnel from Pope AAF, according to Sosko. What is learned here will be applied to processes at their home station.

"This time we were able to use the depot's manufacturing and repair experience to Lean out our isochronal (thorough examination of the entire aircraft) inspection process. We came here to benchmark ideas on saving steps and time to create a better product with less waste," he said.

Sosko and his team also looked at several product lines and intend to incorporate standard tool boxes and automated key receptacles for signing out the tools.

Visits like this are "definitely value added," said John Nicholoff, explaining that everyone brings something to the table. "It's a face-to-face sharing of ideas and problem solving that benefits the warfighter." Nicholoff is the Tactical Satellite Systems Branch chief.

Reservist shares perspective on balancing the triad

by Dana Lineback
940th Wing Public Affairs

3/27/2014 - BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Balancing reserve commitment, civilian career and personal life can be a struggle for reservists. But Capt. Francis Tobias, 940th Wing Equal Opportunity director, may have mastered the trick.

Tobias said he doesn't prescribe to the three-legged stool analogy often used to depict the Reserve triad of family, civilian job and military. He feels life's balance is always shifting, and a solid foundation is the key.

"I think we all feel imbalanced at times," Tobias said. "We just need a solid personal foundation to build on - for me, that's family and faith."

Tobias' mounting successes in both his civilian and military careers seem to attest to the validity of his personal approach to achieving stability in the face of life's demands.

This past year, he was recognized by his civilian employer, Autozone, as Regional Human Resources Manager of the Year for the second consecutive year.

Michael Estes, Autozone's regional manager for Northern California, said the accolade is especially impressive because Tobias has worked for the company only three years.

"I've been around a while, and I've never seen someone come in at the middle management level and adapt as quickly as Francis. I'm extremely impressed," Estes said.

Tobias was unable to accept the Autozone award in person. At the time of the company's award ceremony, he was training at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., for his new position at the 940th Wing.

News from his civilian supervisor about award did not distract Tobias from the task at hand. He completed the nine-week Personnel Officer Course, garnering a 99.14% average. His training flight achieved a cumulative 97.8% academic average, the highest since the course began in 2009.

While at the training course, Tobias balanced the rigors of his studies with volunteer efforts, logging more than 34 hours of off-duty volunteer work in the community there.

"As reservists, we learn to balance a lot. It's about focusing your efforts," Tobias said. "My advice is when you're on their time, whoever 'their' is, be one hundred percent on their time."

Support at home, according to Tobias, allows him to be fully focused on his job at Autozone which, in turn, allows him to focus on his reserve job. He said dedication to his civilian career is reciprocated by Autozone's supportiveness for his reserve commitment.

"As my military career progresses, I know I'll be challenged more and more to stay balanced. It's helpful that Autozone is flexible with the changing nature of my responsibilities as a reservist."

Tobias said he takes every opportunity to capitalize on the similarities between his reserve and civilian positions.

"As an HR manager, I advocate for employees from recruitment to retirement. It mimics what an EO director does for members of a military unit," Tobias said. "A lot of what I do in both jobs is raise awareness and educate about what to do in certain situations. I'm very passionate about motivating, coaching and mentoring others."