Military News

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Wounded Warrior Air Force trials to begin at Nellis

by Airman 1st Class Jake Carter
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


4/3/2014 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS)  -- The 2014 Warrior Games Selection Camp will begin April 7 at Nellis AFB.

The trials will last until April 11, where wounded warriors will compete in various events to see if they can make the U.S. Air Force Wounded Warrior team.

"We have close to 100 athletes coming from across the United States to compete for the 40 positions on the USAF team," said Jeffrey McClish, USAF recovery care coordinator for Nev., Utah and Edwards AFB Calif. "The 40 chosen will represent our Air Force at the 2014 Warrior Games this fall."

There will be seven events during the trials to include archery, basketball, cycling, track and field, swimming, shooting and volleyball.

Wounded warriors participating in the camp faced adversities in order to come and compete against other individuals at the camp.

"Adaptive sports provide our wounded warriors an opportunity to get back into life," McClish said. "Quite often they have experienced a long road to physical rehabilitation or recovery; adaptive sports complement the progress by offering a venue to develop skills in new sporting activities or relearning a sport enjoyed in the past."

According to Tony Jasso, adaptive sports program manager, warrior care division directorate of Airman and Family Care at Randolph AFB, Texas, sports are also a way for wounded warriors to push themselves.

"Sports open doors that wounds, injury and illness tend to close," Jasso said. "Additionally, sports push them physically, psychologically, and present many social challenges warriors have not faced since their change in health, and our sports push the warriors further than they have been pushed in their recovery."

Wounded warriors who are interested in participating in adaptive sports should contact a Recovery Care Coordinator or Air Force Wounded Warrior Case Manager.

"Introductory Adaptive Sports Camps are held across the United States and give participants a "test-ride" of different sporting events," McClish said. "From those camps, skills will develop and connections [will be] made to seek additional opportunities within the wounded warriors local community."

This will be the third time Nellis will be hosting the camp and wounded warriors are hopeful to come back.

"Nellis AFB and the surrounding community have provided outstanding support to the USAF Adaptive Sports Camp Program," McClish said. "This is the third camp held at Nellis AFB and we hope to start a tradition of providing a competitive environment to our Wounded Warriors."

Wounded warriors are encouraged to come out and try adaptive sports as a way to begin a new chapter within their life.

"I believe one of the greatest benefits to adaptive sports is when a new athlete realizes that life is not over, just heading in a different direction," McClish said. "When you see that realization in the expression on their face, it is truly rewarding."

The JOC is the center of it all

by SSG Shane Dorschner
364th Press Camp Headquarters


4/3/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Service members from the Joint Operations Center provide civil service, homeland defense and mission assurance for Joint Task Force Alaska, Alaska Command here on a daily basis as well as in support of Alaska Shield 14.

Typically the JOC is run by a five to six person skeleton crew as a part of current operations that report directly to Air Force Lt. Gen. Russell J. Handy, Commander, Joint Task Force Alaska, on significant events going on in Alaska, said Army Maj. Donald (Robbie) Johnson, Chief of Current Operations for Alaska Command, JTF-Alaska.

If an incident or any type of crisis happens, such as a natural disaster or a homeland defense situation, they are the first responders for the command to get the JOC up and running, said Maj. Johnson.

JTF-Alaska has agreements and partnerships in place with the State of Alaska, Coast Guard, Air Force and other agencies to provide support if called on in the event of an emergency to augment their staff. This includes subject matter experts in areas such as land, air, search and rescue, command and maritime operations, said Maj. Johnson.

"Once we say, hey we need help, they're gonna' bring the right help," said Johnson. "The key people will come up here and augment our staff."

Johnson went on to say that the JOC is the focal point of providing information from the DOD's perspective to the state. "We're here to support the state," he said.

Alaska Shield 14 is an exercise that involves state, federal, military and local agencies, designed to test the response and coordination of the disaster modeled after the 1964 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated much of South Central Alaska.

Holloman's new combat chapter

by Airman 1st Class Chase Cannon
49th Wing Public Affairs


4/3/2014 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M.  -- Since the beginning of its existence in the 1940s as the Alamogordo Army Air Field, Holloman Air Force Base has housed historic aircraft such as the B-17 Fortress, the F-117 Nighthawk and the F-22 Raptor.

On April 1, a new page was added to the Holloman history books as the arrival of the first F-16 Fighting Falcon three-ship formation soared through the skies over the Tularosa Basin, finally landing on the runway to their new home away from home.

The 54th Fighter Group, a tenant unit from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., was recently activated here at Holloman as a training unit for F-16 pilots.

"We are so happy to be a part of Team Holloman, and we are very thankful for the unwavering support from the community here," said Col. Rodney Petithomme, 54th Fighter Group commander. "The Tularosa Basin will undoubtedly be a great fit for this new F-16 training mission, and we're looking forward to a great partnership between the 49th Wing and the 54th Fighter Group."

Attributable to the activation of the 54th Fighter Group, Holloman will grow by approximately 800 Airmen, with the addition of over 50 aircraft by the end of 2015.

"The addition of the 54th Fighter Group is an exciting opportunity for the members of Team Holloman, and will allow for combat air power to start here," said Col. Andrew Croft, 49th Wing commander.

Commander Identifies Fort Hood Shooter, Provides Details



By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 3, 2014 – Army Spc. Ivan A. Lopez, 34, was the gunman in yesterday’s shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, the installation commander said today.

Army Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley said there are “strong indications” that the shootings were an isolated incident that may have been triggered by a verbal altercation Lopez had with another soldier or soldiers. What triggered the event remains under investigation, he said.

“At this point, we have not ruled out anything whatsoever, and we are committed to letting the investigation run its course,” the general said, “but we have, again, no indications at this time of any links to any terrorist organizations of any type, either national or international.”

There are currently no signs that Lopez was targeting specific people, said Milley, who also serves as III Corps commander.

An Army Criminal Investigation Command unit is serving as the lead investigating agency, the general said.

“They are right now synchronizing all of the investigative work -- the federal, state, local and Army agencies throughout Fort Hood and the surrounding area,” the general said. “They are interviewing witnesses, and that is an ongoing and active investigation.”

Milley asked that the media respect the integrity of the investigation and avoid interviewing potential witnesses.

Three soldiers were killed and 16 were wounded in the shootings before Lopez turned his gun on himself. Nine victims remain hospitalized at Scott and White hospital in Temple, Texas, while three are at Darnall Army Community Hospital at Fort Hood. Four of the soldiers have been released, Milley said.

A memorial service for the fallen is planned for early next week, he said, noting that more details will be released soon.

With about 70,000 people working at Fort Hood and about 40,000 associated family members, it would not be realistic to conduct pat-down searches of everyone entering the installation as some have suggested, the general said.

Lopez, originally from Puerto Rico, arrived at Fort Hood only recently from Fort Bliss, Texas, after reclassifying from infantryman, the general said. At Fort Hood, Lopez was assigned to the 49th Transportation Battalion, 13th Sustainment Command, as a truck driver, he added.

While the Army has “very strong evidence” that Lopez had a medical history that indicates he had an unstable psychiatric or psychological condition, the general said, no specific incidents led to Lopez’ transfer to Fort Hood, and he was not transferred to join the Warrior Transition Unit there.

“We do know that he was under treatment, so he was in the system and he was being looked at,” Milley said.

There were several instances of clear heroism as yesterday’s events unfolded, the general said, specifically citing a female military police officer “who clearly performed her duty exceptionally well.” Others inside some of these buildings performed heroic personal acts in saving others, he added. He declined to identify the military police officer, noting that she is germane to the ongoing investigation.

At least one chaplain shielded and saved other soldiers by breaking out windows and helping them to safety, Milley said, and the initial triage work performed by the staff at Darnall Army Medical Center was “exceptional,” easily rising to the levels of combat medical standards, he noted.

The first 911 calls came in at 4:16 CDT yesterday, he said. Two wounded soldiers made the call, the general said, noting that he’s now had the chance to speak with them both at Scott and White Medical Center.

“The shooting began just a few minutes prior to that,” Milley said, adding that military police arrived four minutes after the 911 call. The female MP began working the scene with other law enforcement officers, the general said, and a short time later Lopez approached within 20 feet of her position.

Lopez put his hands up, Milley said, but then went under his jacket and pulled out a .45-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun. Perceiving a threat, the MP engaged Lopez with small-arms fire, and Lopez responded by shooting himself in the head, the general said.

Hagel: Shooting Investigators Must Be Allowed to Do Their Work



By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 3, 2014 – Investigators must be allowed to do their work to help everyone understand the events that led to yesterday’s shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today.

During a news conference following the final day of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations defense forum in Honolulu, Hagel said he has been in contact with Army and senior Defense Department leaders as the investigation unfolds.

The department is in the process of implementing recommendations made in reviews that followed the Washington Navy Yard shootings last year, the defense secretary said.

“As the Fort Hood investigation unfolds, we will continue to take a close look to identify any new lessons learned, and implement those, as well,” he said. “In the meantime, we will all stay focused on the victims and their families and the Fort Hood community, who, yet again, are experiencing a terrible tragedy and much grief.”

There’s nothing the department takes more seriously than the safety of the people who work for it, Hagel said. While there are everyday risks in the jobs that the men and women of DOD do for the nation, he added, “there is no mistaking the fact that the prioritization among our service leaders, our commanders [and] our leaders is the safety of those men and women.”

The department has implemented numerous changes based on reviews following the 2009 Fort Hood shootings by then-Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. “We will continue to make the adjustments and implement those recommendations,” Hagel said.

Despite those changes, the defense secretary acknowledged, something went wrong at Fort Hood.

“Obviously, we have a gap,” he said. “Any time we lose an individual, something has gone wrong. But I also noted, and I think it's important here that we all keep in mind, let the investigators do their work. We don't know what all the facts are. We know a lot of things 24 hours later, but we don't know everything.”

Hagel said he’s confident that investigators will be able to determine what motivated Spc. Ivan Lopez to kill three fellow soldiers and wound 16 others.

“And we will do everything possible to implement the kinds of reforms and fill those gaps and assure the security of the men and women who work for our armed forces, and assure their families,” the defense secretary said.

Father and son paratroopers jump together

4/3/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- They took to the sky together for the last time on the first day of spring. A sun-splashed sky lay ahead as the father and son ascended several thousand feet into the air, taking in the vista of the untouched wilderness and mountainous terrain of Alaska. They could see Mount McKinley to the north as they made their way to the storied Geronimo Drop Zone nestled high above in the undulating terrain of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

They pushed off their side-seated perch on the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter they rode in on, their parachute canopies opened, and they took in for the last time together the silence of descent.

The Army's MC-6 Maneuverable Troop Parachute System with the SF-10A main canopy allowed the pair to steer themselves onto the tiny drop zone.

They landed without injury, quickly recovered their equipment, donned snowshoes, and met back up in the assembly area.

Timing is important in the Army, and this time, March 20, was the last time they would jump together as Army paratroopers.

The jump marked coming full circle for the senior enlisted adviser of U.S. Army Alaska, Command Sgt. Maj. Bernie Knight, and his son, Sgt. Charles Knight, a squad leader with Apache Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment.

Beginning their parachuting history together, Sergeant Major Knight attended his son's first jump at Fort Benning, Ga., during the junior Knight's Basic Airborne Course in 2009. At the time, Sergeant Major Knight was the operations group command sergeant major for the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. He was invited to be guest speaker at his son's basic training and infantry graduation ceremonies. From there, he stayed to participate in his son's first jump.

Sergeant Knight said the jump onto the Geronimo Drop Zone was significant because it brought back some good memories.

"This kind of brings me back to when he jumped with me on my first going back a little over five years when I joined the Army, and him ending his career with this," Sergeant Knight said. "It means a lot to me. I know it means a lot to him, too. I'm glad I got to do his last jump with him."

His dad gave him courage and motivation to join the airborne ranks and jump out for the first time.

"I was nervous; I'm not going to lie. Airborne wasn't something I wanted to sign up for, but because he did, I felt I had some shoes to fill. So definitely, having him there helped me have the courage to go up in the bird and jump out."

For the sergeant major, his 109th and final jump was significant because of his son, but also because of the 501st Infantry Regiment.

"I got to do it with the 501st. The first parachute infantry regiment in the Army," Sergeant Major Knight said. "They tested the parachute. I was a sergeant major of that unit, my son is in that unit. I'm doing Geronimo Drop Zone with the Geronimos. I mean, how could you go wrong with that?"

Sergeant Major Knight has been an influential figure in his son's life, helping guide his way through the Army, mentoring him, and setting an example to emulate. He said the Army and the airborne have been a great way to bond with his son.

"It's awesome. This is a great way to do it. Heck, I tried to talk him out of doing this kind of stuff, because, you know, I said, 'Hey, I did this for the family, I got it'. But, he wanted to serve, so what better way, and he wanted to be airborne, so I thought that was cool."
Sergeant Knight worked as a civilian videographer at the National Training Center, and said he was inspired by Soldiers and wanted to do what they did, so he talked to his dad about joining.

"It was during the war, and I had just come back from a pretty serious Iraq deployment. You know, we lost 53 Soldiers in this [Spartan] brigade, so I was a little bit apprehensive about what my son was going to see," Sergeant Major Knight said. "I kind of tried to talk him out of it, because I didn't want his mom mad at me forever, and I didn't want to lose my son.

"I was like, 'Well, you know, you might want to get a skill that will help you when you get out of the Army', and he was like, 'well, it was good enough for you wasn't it?', and that's when I said 'OK ... alright'."

Through his enlistment, Knight said his relationship with his dad has been enhanced.
"We were close before, but definitely, once I joined the Army, we could bond over it. We had something to talk about. We had something in common besides cars, Harleys and other stuff," Sergeant Knight said. "I definitely use him as a mentor, and he helps me be a better Soldier.

"We talk shop a lot. Nothing bad, all good stuff, you know. I tell him my gripes about the Army, and then he tells me, 'That's the Army, suck it up.' I say, 'Roger that.' He tells me to drive on, and I drive on."

After graduating jump school, Sergeant Knight was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. He deployed twice with the division, and on his second deployment, he found himself stationed in the same sector of Afghanistan as his dad, who was at the time assigned to the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

"So, he goes to the 82nd, and I go to the 1-25th up north (Fort Wainwright), and we deployed, and he was right across the river from me," Sergeant Major Knight said. "We deployed to the same sector of Kandahar, southern Kandahar, one of the worst areas, right there where Mullah Omar, who started 9-11, lived."

After the deployment, the Knights reunited in the U.S. when Sergeant Knight re-enlisted with orders to Alaska.

"I love what I do," the younger Knight said. "I'm glad I joined. I'm glad I could be closer to my father. That's why I re-enlisted to come here, so I could be near family, and do the Army life."

According to Sergeant Knight, he and his father call Alaska home, even though his father is originally from Kansas City, Kan., and he is originally from Orange County, Calif.
"I would say I grew up here," Sergeant Knight said. "My dad spent most of his career here, so I definitely grew up in Alaska."

Both Knights said they plan to live in Alaska after their Army service.

"I am going to be a member of this community," Sergeant Major Knight said. "I'll still be a friend of USARAK. I'm still going to try to hang out with them."

Sergeant Major Knight is wrapping up a 31-year, active federal service career. He spent four years with the Marine Corps and 27 years with the Army.

He takes with him many memories and experiences. He said the Army is a big family. An example of this was reinforced when he talked about finishing up his airborne career with Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Hacker, the senior enlisted adviser for the Spartan Brigade.

"The Army, although people say it's big, it's a small Army, and it's a huge family, because on this jump right here, the sergeant major of the 4-25th was with me when I first started jumping out of airplanes back in 1990. We were in a [long range surveillance] unit together, and he is on this jump. That's kind of neat. So you say it's a big Army, but it's not. It's a small Army, but it's a big family."

With his recent home purchase in Chugiak, Sergeant Major Knight is beginning his retirement plans as his son looks forward to tackling upcoming Army challenges. He is going in front of the staff sergeant promotion board this month and plans to attend jumpmaster school, as well as compete for a Sergeant Audie Murphy Club membership. Long term goals include a college degree and a slot at Ranger School.

"I enjoy my job," Sergeant Knight said. "I love the Army. I love the Army life. They are good to my family, and I appreciate what the Army has done for me and my father."

As he snapped the last button of his last aviator's kit bag, the 52-year-old veteran summed up his leadership.

"I would tell people that Sergeant Major Knight doesn't make one decision without thinking about Soldiers first."

Vance spouse named AETC Key Spouse of the Year

by Joe B. Wiles
71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs


4/2/2014 - VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- For her work with the 3rd Flying Training Squadron, one Team Vance spouse was selected as the 2013 Key Spouse of the Year in Air Education and Training Command.

Sarina Houston will be recognized as the AETC Key Spouse during a Key Spouse appreciation luncheon scheduled for April 10 at the Vance Collocated Club.

The award recognizes the critical role of key spouses in successful mission accomplishment at wing, unit and organizational levels.

"Sarina ... has contributed an incredible amount to the success of the 3rd FTS and our wing," said Col. Darren James, the 71st Flying Training Wing commander. "We are tremendously proud of her accomplishments."

Houston, a Minot, N.D. native, is married to Capt. Jake Houston T-1A Jayhawk instructor pilot with the 3rd FTS, who is currently assigned to the 71st FTW Safety Office.

As a certified commercial pilot and flight instructor, she shares a unique skill set with her husband that gives her a better understanding of the stresses of pilot training. Houston also holds a master's degree in Aeronautical Science, and is a member of Women in Aviation International and the National Association of Flight Instructors.

As the 3rd FTS key spouse, she served as a guide and mentor to the spouses of both the student pilots and permanent party Airmen assigned to the unit.

For Houston, the job had its special rewards.

"When I made a difference to another spouse, whether by a phone call as a show of support during a deployment or by welcoming a new family to Vance, that was a big reward," she said.

"She formed an indispensable lifeline between 57 families and squadron leadership," said Lt. Col. Sean Martin, the 3rd FTS commander.

That lifeline had many facets. Houston revamped the squadron welcome package, mobilized a network of squadron spouses who looked after families of deployed members, and focused on several families needing support at critical times.

Knowing the importance of sharing career milestones, she organized "fini flight" and promotion celebrations for squadron members.

The squadron commander noted in Houston's nomination package the significant impact her "warrior mentality" brought to the critical task of maintaining communications between deployed Airmen and their families and teammates. At least 11 care packages left Vance with Houston's fingerprints on the wrapping.

Not content to just be part of a great team, Houston wrote articles for the base website, www.vance.af.mil, which highlighted individuals and provided guidance to spouses in other flying units here.

Her story writing reflected a talent she also brought to a business of her own.

"I started writing as much as I could and eventually landed a few paid contracts," said Houston. "Before I knew it, I was putting in a lot of hours."

She dived in full-time and her freelance writing business has her working on many different writing projects, mostly aviation-related.

"One of the most difficult things as a key spouse is knowing that people are struggling and not knowing what to do or how to help," said Houston. "There are times when you can't 'fix' a problem on your own -- and you can't always help a person if they don't want help."

Her advice to new key spouses was simple:

"Don't beat yourself up when you can't fix every problem," she said. "Get acquainted with the base helping agencies like the chaplains, counselors and the Airman & Family Readiness Center. They can help when the problems are out of the key spouse realm."

Summing up Houston's importance to the unit, the squadron commander said her many activities in support of unit families and her ability to serve as a mentor enhanced the 3rd FTS's ability to execute the AETC mission.

Air Force Leaders Lay Out Budget Priorities, Concerns



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

WASHINGTON, April 3, 2014 – Air Force leaders testified yesterday before the Senate Appropriations Committee on their service’s top priorities now and for the future.

Joined by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and National Guard leaders, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James discussed the challenges of operating in a tough fiscal climate.

“We are living in very challenging times,” she said, “both in terms of our security environments as well as the budget environment that we are facing. We have attempted to take these challenges on directly and deliberately and thoughtfully, and we have done so as a team, very inclusively.”

To make these choices, the secretary said, leaders used the nation’s military strategy as their starting point.

“That begins with the strategy of today, which includes defending the homeland against all threats, building security globally by projecting U.S. influence, and deterring aggression,” James said, adding that it also includes remaining prepared to win decisively should deterrence fail.

The Air Force must invest today in the technologies for future platforms, the secretary said. “We need to also turn ourselves and direct ourselves to new centers of power,” she added, “and be prepared to operate in a more volatile and unpredictable world -- a world in which we can no longer take for granted American dominance of the skies and space.”

James said the Air Force is crucial in both parts of this strategy, but faces trouble with likely budget scenarios that would create gaps.

“I’m certain that that will be the case,” she said. “Now, having been an observer on the scene of defense for more than 30 years … there are always some degree of gaps that we face between strategy and budget -- they never match exactly.” When those mismatches occur, she said, judgment calls must be made about what risks are most prudent.

This year has been more difficult and complex than most, James said, with no “low-hanging fruit” to capture as part of budgetary actions. And while the Bipartisan Budget Act and the Fiscal Year 2014 Appropriations Act provided “bump-ups,” the secretary noted, this didn’t solve all of the Air Force’s issues.

The bottom line, James said, is that the budget and the five-year plan need rebalancing.

“We are coming out of 13 years of a persistent war … and now we need to rebalance,” she said. “We need to recapture our complete readiness and our future capability.

“It’s really not an either/or situation,” she continued, “because we very much need to have both in [those] rebalancing actions.”

James laid the framework for her three top priorities through some of the major decisions the Air Force has made.

Those priorities, she said, are taking care of people, balancing today’s readiness with tomorrow’s readiness, and ensuring the nation has the best, most capable Air Force in the world at the best value for taxpayers.

Delving into each priority, James explained each concept, beginning with the recruiting and development of the best people.

“As far as I’m concerned, 100 percent of the time it always comes down to people,” she said. “So taking care of people, to me, means we need to recruit the right people, we need to retain the very best people.

“We need to shape the force as we go forward as well,” James added, “and get the right balance between our active duty, our National Guard and our reserve components.”

The Air Force’s plan going forward, she said, relies more heavily on the National Guard and the Air Force Reserve.

James also said it is important to protect family programs and to ensure a “climate of dignity and respect for all.”

“We have to continue to combat sexual assault and make sure that everybody is living and leading our core values in the Air Force which are integrity, service and excellence,” she said. Fair compensation also is important, the secretary said, though slowed growth in compensation is necessary.

On balancing today’s and tomorrow’s readiness, the secretary said, the Air Force’s fiscal year 2015 budget request fully funds flying hours and other high-priority readiness issues that, with time, will see gradual improvement. The F-35 joint strike fighter, the KC-46 tanker and the new long-range strike bomber all are protected as well with an eye on investing in tomorrow’s readiness, she added.

Support to the nuclear triad also will continue, James said, noting that two-thirds of the triad -- intercontinental ballistic missiles and bombers -- come from the Air Force.

“We have also made decisions to replace our aging platforms like the combat rescue helicopters,” James said, “and [to] invest in a new jet engine technology that promises reduced fuel consumption, lower maintenance and will help our industrial base.”

Given current budget realities, the secretary said, some “very, very tough choices” had to be made.

“We proposed to retire some entire fleets,” James said. “That way, we will get billions of dollars of savings, vice millions of dollars. This will include the A-10 fleet and the U-2, which have served us well for years. But again, tough choices were in order.”

The tough choices also include limiting combat air patrols and retiring the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle fleet in favor of the “fully capable MQ-9 Reaper fleet in the future,” she added.

James said her final priority is making sure every dollar counts.

“This means keeping acquisition programs on budget and on schedule,” she said. “We’re going to continue to move forward and get to a point where we [have] auditability as a Department of Defense and as an Air Force. We’re going to trim overhead, including that 20 percent reduction you’ve heard [Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel] talk about.”

James said if sequestration-level funding returns in fiscal 2016, Air Force leaders believe it would compromise national security too much. If forced to return to those previous levels, James said, 80 more aircraft, including the KC-10 tanker fleet, would have to be retired, sensor upgrades to the Global Hawk would be deferred, and the purchases of F-35s would slow.

The Air Force also would have fewer combat air patrols, fewer Predator-Reaper patrols, and would be unable to continue the next-generation jet engine program. Other important programs would have to be re-evaluated, she said.

Welsh also testified on the impacts of a return to sequester-level funding, telling the panel that Air Force leaders simply cannot ignore the fact that the law as currently written returns sequestered funding levels in fiscal 2016.

“And to prepare for that,” Welsh said, “we must cut people and force structure now to create a balanced Air Force that we can afford to train and operate in [fiscal 2016] and beyond. We also have to look at where we must recapitalize to be viable against a threat 10 years from now.”

Welsh said while there are no “easy choices left” regarding the budget, the Air Force is the “finest in the world,” and everything needs to be done to keep it as such.

“We built this budget to ensure that Air Force combat power remains unequaled,” he said. “But that does not mean that it will remain unaffected.”

JBSA-Randolph's 560th FTS hosts Freedom Flyer reunion

Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

4/2/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- In the years following the Vietnam War, members of the 560th Flying Training Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph have hosted the pilot requalification program or the final flight for the members of the 4th Allied Prisoner of War Wing returning to the U.S.

"Their first flight with the 560th FTS was designed to duplicate what each returnee's last flight in Southeast Asia should have been like," Maj. Abram Woody, narrator and 560th Flying Training Squadron member, said, during the wreath-laying ceremony March 28 at Washington Circle. "Since May 21, 1973, we have flown 195 former POWs."

Former POWs have travelled to JBSA-Randolph for a Freedom Flyer Reunion for 41 years. The symposium, complete with guest speakers, former POWs, former spouses of POWs and those involved in the repatriation portion was added along with a wreath laying ceremony 17 years ago.

"For American veterans, I think a ceremony like this causes us to remember great selfless Americans, warriors and leaders who gave it all," Col. Gerald Goodfellow, 12th Flying Training Wing commander, said.

The day culminated with a T-38 three-ship flyby and a 21-gun salute.

USAFE volleyball teams compete in multi-national event

by Senior Airman Gustavo Castillo
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs


4/2/2014 - AMSTERDAM -  -- The men's and women's U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa volleyball teams competed in the Headquarters Allied Air Command Inter-Nation Sports Programme Volleyball Championships in Amsterdam, March 25 - 27, 2014.

The tournament brought together six NATO countries for a little friendly competition.

The competition aims to reinforce the mutual respect and goodwill that exists between these nations.

"That's what the whole goal of it is, because these are all Air Force members from six other nations coming together and competing," said Dawn Pierce, Headquarters USAFE fitness and sports coordinator. "There is a lot of friendship in sports and this culminates one of the greatest opportunities we have to be with our NATO partners and just enjoy each other."

Members from the U.S., Poland, England, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgian air forces participated in the multi-day event ending with the championship game on March 27.

The USAFE women's team retained their undefeated record placing first overall, while the men's team placed third.

Battaglia talks top military issues at Scott

by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


4/2/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The most senior NCO in the armed forces visited Scott Air Force Base March 28 to talk to Team Scott about important issues they are faced with in today's military.

Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia discussed a multitude of subjects at the all-call.

He began his discussion speaking about the book, "The Noncommissioned Officer and Petty Officer: The Backbone of the Armed Forces."

The free book, which can be found at www.dtic.mil, is geared toward NCOs to provide insight and direction when supervising members of any branch of service.
He also discussed the new Transition Assistance Program for veterans.

He said, "The most common reason that servicemembers separate from the military is that they want to go back to school. What we expected is that those people would be earning a degree from that, but we're finding out that many are dropping out." TAP readjusted the focus to help people stay in school.

He said there also seems to be a rise in veterans pursuing the route of self-employment or re-entering the work force. TAP is providing resources for them to reach success.

He ended his portion of discussion by stating the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wants all servicemembers to renew their commitment to the profession of arms.

"Although the armed forces has a multitude of differences, there is something that really connects us all together," he said.

"We all have the same oath and have a special bond because of that. Even as a veteran and a retiree, the oath still stays with you for life."

Battaglia said one of the most important issues he champions is to reduce suicides. He wants to improve the morale in Airmen, which includes behavioral, social, physical, environmental, medical and dental, nutritional, spiritual and psychological health.

"Part of my position as the SEAC is to ensure that the 2.3 million enlisted members are taken care of," he said.

Toward the end of the all-call, one Soldier asked Battaglia if there was ever any talk of pushing out the military mottos and resiliency models to schools and society throughout the nation.

Battaglia responded by stating he does want to spread the resiliency models out into society because he knows it can be beneficial to people who are not in the service.

The SEAC recognized and coined eight Airmen and Soldiers who were selected by senior NCOs and officers at the end for their exceptional performance.

His parting words were, "Stay fit, stay strong, and stay resilient!"

Airman values quality of life in U.S. Air Force

by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


4/2/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- She was raised in a small, one-bedroom home made of wood. She and her mother lived in the small, dark, damp basement and slept on an old futon on the concrete floor. There was only one bathroom, which she shared with many cockroaches.

These are the humble beginnings for one Airman, and the conditions that inspired her to come to the United States and serve in the military.

Senior Airman Jorgette Chuang grew up in a very poor, rural area of the Philippines with her single mother. Her mother's family also lived in the Philippines, but didn't communicate with her after she became pregnant.

"In Chinese culture, it's the biggest taboo to get pregnant outside of marriage, so my mom was disowned by her family when she found out she was pregnant with me," the 23-year-old said. "After she was disowned, she realized my father was married and had two kids with different moms. So it was like a triple whammy for my mom, who gave up wealth for love."

Growing up, she didn't have any help from her father, who had left the Philippines for a new life.

"When I was four years old, my father joined the U.S. Navy, and we did not hear from him for a long time," Chuang said. "I was 12 when he came back into our lives. When I was 16, the Navy found out about us, and to keep from getting into further trouble, he petitioned for us to come to the U.S."

It wasn't until she was 18 years old, that the petition was approved. At the time Chuang was pursuing a nursing degree in the hopes her education would help her come to America. When she was notified about the petition, she withdrew from school.

"If you have the chance to come to the U.S., that's the way to go where I come from," Chuang said. "The Philippines is nice when you are a child and don't have to worry about anything, but as you grow up, reality starts to hit that there are no jobs in the Philippines. You could have a Doctorate Degree and not have a job. It's hard to survive if you are not from a prominent family or a business family. Wealth is handed down, so if you don't have anyone to hand it down to you, it's very hard to build anything from scrap."

Chuang and her mother moved to live with her father in Hawaii. Chuang and her father did not get along very well, so she looked for ways take her mom and go elsewhere.

Chuang said, "When I was in Hawaii, I was with my father, and we didn't have a perfect relationship; he's hot and cold and very unpredictable. He would fight with my mom, and I would butt in. It was always like that. I was trying to get out from under him and was looking for a way out. I wanted to be able to stand on my own. The only way out was the Air Force."

At the age of 20 Chuang joined the Air Force so she could get away from her father and take care of her mom. Chuang said that because she grew up outside of the U.S., her English wasn't very good, so going through Basic Military Training was especially difficult and terrifying.

"I went to Basic Training not knowing a lot about the military lifestyle. I wasn't expecting any of it, especially the yelling ... it reminded me of my father whom I'm extremely terrified of. It was the shock of my life. I didn't really know how to speak English before. I started to learn it about the fourth week of training. The instructors would start yelling, and people would start moving, and I wouldn't know what to do. One time, an instructor asked me to go to his office, and he wanted to know what was wrong with me because I was not following instructions. I told him I could understand 50 percent of what he says, but when he yells, it goes down to 10 percent. Starting from that point he knew that I had a little trouble understanding what he was saying, so when he would give commands and I wasn't doing what he wanted, he would walk to me and whisper loudly in my ear, slowly, what he wanted us to do, and then I would do it."

After graduating from BMT, she went to tech school to learn how to become a dental laboratory technician, and then came to Scott Air Force Base. Chuang said she loves working in the lab and learning all the different aspects of her job.

"This is the most amazing job I've ever had," said the 23-year-old technician. "It gives me the sense of accomplishment and pride whenever I fabricate a prosthesis that goes into a patient's mouth, and I know that person is going to use that for a long period of time. They teach you the basics in tech school, but don't teach you everything. So, every opportunity I had, I would stay after work to learn and perfect the task I was assigned."

Chuang said there is one experience that stands out in her mind that is the source of pride and triumph. The lab technicians needed to complete a large job for a patient in a very short amount of time.

"Six porcelain units needed to be completed on one side of the patient's mouth, and it needed to be done in a week," she said. "It takes two weeks to do one, normally. I stayed at work until 10 or 11 p.m. every day to catch up, and came in to work on Saturday and Sunday, because the patient was retiring soon. When Monday came, I was exhausted, but it was done. Everything fit perfectly, and when I got to see the smile on her face, it was priceless"

Even though her job can be very stressful at times, Chuang said she really enjoys working in the lab. The leadership at her office works hard to motivate her to do her job successfully.

"It can get stressful at times, but for the most part, it's very fulfilling," she said. "I have the best leadership. There is a lot of positive reinforcement which is very motivating. Master Sgt. Sanchez is like a father, mentor, teacher and wonderful leader. He's really good to all of us."

Master Sgt. Francisco Sanchez, the dental laboratory flight chief said Chuang has been a valuable asset and brings an amazing passion and talent to the team. Her contributions led to the clinic being awarded Air Mobility Command's 2013 Large Dental Clinic of the Year.

"Chuang epitomizes what it means to be an Airman and medic in the best Air Force in the world," he said. "She has been a true inspiration to not only her peers but to all who surround her. She embodies what the 375th Medical Group mission is, which is, "Enable Team Scott mission execution by ensuring mobility ready medics and Airmen developing healthy families and improving community partnerships."

Since joining the Air Force in 2011, Chuang has continued to embrace the Air Force core values: Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do.

During her technical training, Chuang received the Honor Graduate award, graduating with a 98.25 grade point average, which was the highest GPA in the Medical Education and Training Campus. She was the No. 1 selectee in the wing for Senior Airman Below the Zone. Chuang was also selected as the Dental Squadron Airman of the Year for 2013 and the Air Force Medical Service Outstanding Airman of the year, which is a MAJCOM level award.

Chuang said she hopes to get her commission, earn a medical degree and become a medical officer. She is two classes away from her Community College of the Air Force associate's degree.

"My favorite part about being in the military is being able to take care of my mother; it's the greatest thing. I owe the military so much for that because I would never be able to do this in the civilian world; being able to provide the house we are living in. It's pretty good, compared to what I would have otherwise. It's pretty awesome to have health care too, knowing we can go to the doctor when we get sick."

Chuang said, "In the past, whenever I encounter an exceptional hardship in life, I always tell myself that iron, in its raw state is nothing, you have to forge it through very high heat, drench it with cold water and pound on it repeatedly to create a mighty sword."