Military News

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Celebrating Academy's 60th anniversary: 'We've come a long way'



By Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, Academy superintendent
April 04, 2014

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AFNS) -- As we celebrate the Air Force Academy's 60th anniversary, I salute all of the proud servicemen and women who have devoted themselves to producing leaders of character for our Air Force and our nation. As the United States' youngest service academy, our Air Force's Academy continues a proud heritage built on the foundations of integrity, service and excellence.

When an air academy was first suggested almost a century ago, the notion was quickly dismissed. Even when the Air Force was established as an independent service in 1947, many were skeptical of the value of an Air Force academy.

To the group of officers and civilians who were charged with establishing guidelines for an air academy, it was clear: no one else could produce the right combinations of qualities that would be required of leaders in the nation's newest and most technologically advanced branch of military service. Thus, on April 1, 1954, President Eisenhower signed the legislation that established our Academy.

We've come a long way the last sixty years. We have established ourselves as a leader alongside the other military service academies, and among the best universities in the nation. We are ranked among the top 25 liberal arts colleges. Our engineering and management programs are consistently ranked in the top five, and we have the distinct honor of being the no. 1 undergraduate-only institution for research funding. Our graduates are general officers, astronauts, professional athletes, business leaders, and civil servants. We are the Academy; and we have much to be proud of.

We are celebrating our 60th birthday in an exciting, yet turbulent time. We find ourselves entering an interwar period, during sequestration -- an historic period of budgetary decline, and at a time when institutions of higher education are defending their very existence. While some may find the times daunting -- we are seizing the opportunity to be bold! We will move with confidence into the next 60 years, contributing to the Air Force mission to fly, fight, and win in air, space and cyberspace," and preserving the essence of what we do here at the Air Force's Academy -- graduating lieutenants prepared to lead.

While the Air Force finds ways to meet shrinking budgets, the Academy must do the same.

We will use these constrained budgets to refine our operations, honoring the vision established 60 years ago while preparing for our future missions. We will become leaner and more streamlined, but we will not lose who we are in the process. We remain dedicated to developing character and leadership.

Our focus on the Air Force mission in air, space and cyberspace remains undiminished. Through the four-year immersion experience, our cadets internalize the Air Force ethos and garner unrivaled exposure to the Air Force professional culture. Competition across the many facets of cadet life, including athletics, is balanced with a strong core curriculum, where the liberal arts find harmony with science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We do all of this on the shoulders of an exemplary Air Force institution.

This is who we are. Our task to produce leaders for the Air Force and our nation is a profound one. The profession of arms requires much of those who serve.

The Academy was founded upon the notion of service and we are continuing that proud heritage today with a renewed emphasis on our culture of commitment and climate of respect. We are committed to service to our nation, and to the Air Force and our core values of integrity, service and excellence. This commitment is what enables us to endure.

USS Stout Returns to Norfolk



From USS Stout Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Guided-missile destroyer USS Stout (DDG 55) returned to Naval Station Norfolk April 4 after an eight-month deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet Area of Responsibility.

The ship departed Aug. 18, 2013 for the Mediterranean and has since covered more than 36,000 nautical miles in support of the nation's ballistic missile defense strategy.

"We provided a ready, flexible force where it mattered, when it mattered," said Cmdr. Robert Alpigini, Stout's commanding officer.

Arriving in theater as the Syria crisis was unfolding, Stout participated in interoperability exercises with more than 10 partner nations and allies, including Germany, Great Britain, France, Israel, Italy and Turkey. Stout capped her time in theater by participating in the maritime operation that re-took the vessel "Morning Glory" that had been seized by three armed pirates.

"A great deal was asked of this crew and at every point they shattered all expectations," said Alpigini. "Both my crew and our nation are stronger for what we have done over the last eight months."

In addition to the missions Stout conducted, her crew of nearly 280 Sailors found time to make tremendous personal strides. Thirty-eight Sailors were promoted and more than 120 earned their Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist designations.

A multi-mission ship, Stout is designed to conduct sustained combat operations in anti-air, anti-submarine, anti-surface, strike warfare and BMD environments. Stout is named after Rear Adm. Harold Stout, a decorated World War II destroyer captain, and Adm. Arleigh Burke's most trusted subordinate throughout the war in the Pacific.

Arming All Personnel on Installations Unsafe, DOD Official Says



By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 4, 2014 – The Defense Department does not support allowing its personnel to carry weapons on military installations, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said today.

“The department took a close look at this after the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood and again after [last year’s] Washington Navy Yard shooting,” Warren said.

Such a move would create a number of complications, he said, not the least of which is safety.

“Another reason is the … prohibitive cost of the training, the qualification requirements [and] recertification,” the colonel said.

There are legal obstacles as well, he said. Local, state and federal policy requirements pose numerous challenges.

Warren pointed at the Lautenberg Amendment to the Gun Control Act of 1968, which makes it illegal for persons convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes to possess firearms or ammunition, as one example. Service members convicted of such crimes may continue to serve under certain circumstances, but still are prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition.

“So, there are a lot of barriers to this besides the department's position, and we've spelled this out before that we do not support it,” the colonel said.

The ongoing investigation into the shootings April 2 at Fort Hood, Texas, should be allowed to develop in due course, Warren said.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been clear that something did go wrong, the colonel said. “Now we're allowing this investigation to unfold before we make any major steps,” he added. “The focus right now is on caring for the wounded, caring for the family members of those wounded and the greater Fort Hood community, and proceeding with the investigation.”

Investigators are looking for potential gaps in the mental health care system or in security procedures, Warren said. One aspect of the investigation will cover whether red flags were raised about the alleged shooter by mental health professionals, he noted.

“It's entirely too early to make a judgment. … We have to let the investigation unfold, and then we have to examine what we can do better,” he said.

Medical group sharpens patient evacuation skills during exercise

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
JBER Public Affairs


4/3/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- In 1964, a 9.2-magnitude earthquake ravaged Southcentral Alaska. Streets and buildings were ripped apart, tsunamis devastated towns and the need for medical services was dire.
Fifty years later, the state of Alaska hosted exercise Alaska Shield 2014 from March 27 to April 3. Federal, state and local authorities worked together to test interagency response during the disaster scenario - the largest exercise of its kind in Alaska.

"The last Alaska Shield exercise in 2010 had more than 4,000 interagency participants," said Richard Everson, an exercise planner for Joint Task Force - Alaska.

This year's exercise has more than doubled in participation. In addition to the military involvement, approximately 10,000 Alaska-based Department of Defense assets participated in the exercise.

"I can't think of a time we've ever had this volume, size and scope for a 'bed down' exercise," said Air Force Lt. Col. Chad Hazen, acting 673d Mission Support Group deputy commander.

During the exercise scenario, a simulated 9.2-magnitude earthquake hit Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson March 27. The simulated natural disaster was the start of Mission Assurance Exercise 14-3, and included multiple simulated casualties and more than two dozen simulated injured military and civilian personnel at Fire Station 2 on JBER.

Additional scenarios included road blocks and emergencies such as gas or fuel leaks in various locations across the installation throughout the remainder of the week.

Firefighters and medical services responded to the scenes, removed the simulated victims from any immediate dangers, and helped care for injuries in the simulated crisis.

More than 1,200 service members traveled to JBER to participate in the exercise, playing as responders or victims. Many residents of JBER also role-played so emergency services could practice their responses, Hazen said.

Buses and ambulances arrived with medical services and transported the injured to the hospital.

On March 31, the 673d Medical Group began evacuating role-playing patients due to simulated earthquake damage to their facilities, reducing their echelon capabilities and causing the hospital to seek air transport to get patients to medical treatment facilities capable of meeting their needs.

The Critical Care Air Transport Team's mission is to operate an intensive care unit in an aircraft cabin during flight, adding critical care capability to the U.S. Air Force Aeromedical Evacuation System. CCATT patients received initial stabilization, but still required evacuation to a more capable hospital.

A CCATT consists of a three members: a physician, a critical care nurse and a respiratory therapist.

Most of the victims had simulated crash or accident injuries. Many patients required procedures that could not be received on JBER, said Air Force Capt. Fernando Tovar, 673d Medical Group anesthesiologist.

With the degraded capability of medical centers caused by the earthquake, higher echelons of care could be damaged or destroyed, requiring medical personnel to transfer the patients to the continental United States, he said.

Practicing their response and transport of patients helps give them confidence in themselves and their equipment, he said.

"It's important for us to know that our equipment functions correctly," the anesthesiologist said. "We go through the motions of preparing a patient for transport, thinking about all that we need to set up our equipment, to go through the logistics of transporting from the hospital to the ambulance, from the ambulance to the airplane."

The patients were transported to Hangar 5, where they simulated travel to medical centers capable of providing a higher echelon of care than an earthquake-damaged hospital could provide.

"I'm learning the logistics of transporting patients," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Melissa Lepp, 673d Medical Group cardiopulmonary therapist who served as respiratory therapist in the CCATT. "It's interesting because this scenario is a natural disaster, so it's slightly different than being down range. This is a good chance to brush up on my skills that I use in a deployed setting."

Transporting patients out quickly is a capability that's unique to the Air Force, Tovar said.
"I think it's good," said Air Force Capt. Annie Nesbit, 673d Medical Group critical care nurse. "You need to actually get in there and physically have people being moved, orders being written and things being coordinated for the patients so that muscle memory would come. [Medical personnel] would say 'we know what we are doing now, so let's do it' and it wouldn't be such a surprise. If you don't practice this once in a while, things will never go smoothly, especially in something like a natural disaster."

They coordinated efforts with the Army, Tovar said, with the sister service providing many of the simulated patients.

The exercise also demonstrated how the military could provide emergency aid to the state.
"If there were a natural disaster, we'd be able to transport any patient, civilian or military - there would be no [dividing] line," Tovar said. "We'd provide not only care here in the hospital, but transport by air to any injured or ill patient."

Northern Command's Exercise Ardent Sentry, Joint Task Force - Alaska's Arctic Edge, the Alaska National Guard's Exercise Vigilant Guard, JBER's MAE 14-3 and several other large-scale exercises working together under Alaska Shield to respond to the simulated natural disaster.

"There are a lot of people coming together for a greater good," Nesbit said. "It's a really great practice and exercise with all the different in-state and out-of-state agencies, Army, Air Force, Guard - all the different types of people who can come together and work through a true crisis."

NAVFAC Marianas Financial Manager Receives Peggy B. Craig Award for Life Service



By Bill Austin, U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas Public Affairs

PITI, Guam (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Marianas Financial Manager Rose Wright was honored for 47 years of tireless and dedicated service with the Peggy B. Craig Life Service Award April 4.

Wright is the first NAVFAC Financial Manager to receive the prestigious award.

"I am extremely honored and proud to receive this award and I whole heartedly appreciate the command's nomination," said Wright, who began her career in civil service as a mail clerk.

The Peggy B. Craig Lifetime Service Award was established in 2012 in honor of a longtime NAVFAC employee.

Wright, who hails from Agana, Guam, has what she describes as a photographic memory, a talent that was recognized in her early years by Catholic nuns at school. "They told me back then that I have a photographic memory and I believe I just might," said Wright. At NAVFAC meetings, the impeccably dressed Wright normally takes her turn during round table briefs with financial updates that strike with pinpoint accuracy with barely a glance at crib notes. Her expertise has been shared throughout the years through mentorship and she has introduced numerous process improvements that have been adopted in her community.

"To just say that Rose is an expert and extremely professional in the financial management world, would be limiting and incomplete," said NAVFAC Marianas Commanding Officer, Capt. Glenn Shephard.

"Her unrivaled dedication to the welfare of the NAVFAC enterprise, her colleagues, and compassion for the men and women she's served provide tremendous contribution to our team's success. I'm very proud to have served with Rose, and I can't thank her enough for her expertise and service."

Air Force launches new program to capture innovative ideas



WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force officials announced the creation of a new program April 4, designed to harness Airmen’s innovation.

Airmen Powered by Innovation, or API, will replace three existing Air Force “good idea” programs – the Innovative Development through Employee Awareness, Productivity Enhancing Capital Investment, and Best Practices programs – and expand the role of Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century.

“API will consolidate the benefits of each program and simplify the process for submitting ideas, making it easier for our Airmen at the lowest levels to effect change across the entire Air Force,” said David Tillotson, the Air Force deputy chief management officer.

Installations’ manpower offices will be responsible for assisting and supporting Airmen as they submit ideas. In addition to gaining efficiencies by consolidating existing programs, API will also offer Airmen increased access to assistance prior to submitting ideas and institute a top-down tracking requirement, which includes confirming and documenting savings realized from implementing Airmen’s ideas.

“The requirement for us to track these ideas from the top down recognizes the importance we place in having an environment that fosters and rewards innovation at all levels,” said Gen. Larry Spencer, the Air Force vice chief of staff. “In this fiscally-constrained environment, we need every Airman engaged in finding smarter ways to do business.”

API will serve as a follow-on program to institutionalize the success of the 2013 Every Dollar Counts campaign. During the campaign, 302 ideas submitted by Airmen were implemented by the Air Force, generating savings of $71 million and 24,000 hours annually.

“Our Airmen are the finest in the world and care about making sure our Air Force remains the best in the world,” Spencer said. “I wasn’t at all surprised by how many good ideas they had, and as leaders, we owe it to them to make sure their ideas are heard. API will ensure their ideas can be implemented.”

Airmen who wish to submit ideas through API may do so by going online to https://ipds.afpc.randolph.af.mil or by working with their local AFSO21 office.