Military News

Monday, April 14, 2014

Director of Air National Guard swears in 15 Airmen to kick off Louisville air show

by Maj. Dale Greer
123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


4/14/2014 - LOUISVILLE, Ky -- Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, director of the Air National Guard, swore in 15 members of the Kentucky Air National Guard during a live television coverage event kicking off Thunder Over Louisville here April 11.

These newly sworn in Airmen are the newest members of the Kentucky Air National Guard.

"It's pretty exciting to begin my career in the Kentucky Air National Guard by having a three-star general swear me in on live television," said Samantha Ruzanaka, a new recruit who will be joining the 123rd Security Forces Squadron here as a fire team member. "This a great unit, and that was a great way to begin serving my state and nation."

The event also was a great experience for Clarke, whose son-in-law, Jacob Reynolds, was among the Airmen being sworn in. Reynolds is joining the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron as a C-130 crew chief.

"This was my first Thunder, and I was just overwhelmed by the support of the local community," Clarke said. "I was extremely impressed by how engaged people are with the military, how much they love the Guard and, especially, this wing."

Clarke noted that his friend, retired Lt. Gen. John Conaway, a former Kentucky Air Guardsman who served as chief of the National Guard Bureau from 1990 to 1993, had been encouraging him to visit Louisville and the 123rd Airlift Wing for a long time.

"General Conaway's been telling me for years that this is a great unit," Clarke said, "Now I can go back and report to him that he is correct."

The annual show, one of the largest air show and fireworks displays in North America, is staged over the Ohio River and featured performances this year by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team and 15 other acts, drew a crowd of more than 650,000 spectators.

Television coverage, broadcast in Louisville will be edited down for global rebroadcast on Armed Forces Network over the 4th of July weekend.

Flying Critical Care Team displays capabilities during open house

by Airman 1st Class Daniel Lile
14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs


4/11/2014 - COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Medical personnel from Keesler AFB, Miss. and Air National Guard personnel from Jackson, Miss. , joined to display critical care aeromedical transport teams in a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft to the public during the Columbus Air Force Base open house April 5-6. Aeromedical and critical care teams specialize in transporting injured or sick service members when they are unable to fly commercially.

Today, if a wounded American presents with a pulse at a combat hospital in Afghanistan, they have a 99 percent chance of surviving. The combination of rapid surgery near the battlefield to stabilize wounded service members, coupled with early evacuation using flying intensive care medical capability such as CCATT has been responsible for saving thousands of American lives over the past decade.

"A CCAT team consists of three medical personnel and includes a critical-care physician and nurse and a respiratory therapist," said Lt. Col. Heidi Stewart, 81st Medical Group, Keesler AFB, Miss. "We provide care for the most critically-injured service members requiring transportation."

In the past when a military member was injured, they would be kept at their current location until a near full recovery. This proved to be ineffective and inefficient; CCAT teams were created as a solution.

"When a military member is injured or sick and needs transportation, we will send an aeromedical team like the ones from the Mississippi Air Guard on a mission to transport that person to higher level medical care," said Col. Allen Kidd, 14th Medical Group Commander at Columbus AFB. "If that person is critically ill, a CCAT team will join the aeromedical team."

A very important part of helping injured service members is getting them back home to their families as soon as possible; with CCAT teams service members get home faster than ever thought possible.

"Back in the Vietnam era when service members got injured they would stay in-country until they almost fully recovered, then come home," said Stewart. "Now if a service member is injured downrange we could have him or her back home within 72 hours. This new capability has saved many thousands of lives."

Since aeromedical teams often don't know what aircraft they will be flying in, they must adapt to the situation.

"We fly with any aircraft of opportunity, which is what makes us so flexible. This airshow was unique because we demonstrated aeromedical and critical care evacuation capabilities on many of the major types of aircraft we fly, including the C-17, the C-130 Hercules and the KC-135 Stratotanker, but also on the HH-60 Blackhawk helicopter," said Stewart.

During the 2014 Columbus AFB Air Show and Open House, medical personnel from both Keesler AFB and 172nd Airlift Wing at Jackson combined for an aeromedical display on multiple aircraft to show the public the capabilities and versatility of their medical teams. The Mississippi Air Guard has been a important player in aeromedical evacuation for wounded service members for the past decade.

"We're out here to show the community and the citizens of Mississippi that active duty, guard and reserve Airmen can come together and get a bigger bang for the buck," said Stewart. "We have a great working relationship and this event is a good opportunity to show that off."

The Wings Over Columbus Heritage to Horizons Open House and Air Show provided a stage to showcase the Total Force Aeromedical capability that uniquely resides in the state of Mississippi.

"This airplane is ready to go. All we need is the gas and a tasking," said the 172nd AW's Lt. Col. Kem McEntyre.

81 SFS honors fallen Airmen with new memorial

by Airman 1st Class Stephan Coleman
81st Training Wing Public Affairs


4/14/2014 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The 81st Security Forces Squadron unveiled its memorial to fallen Airmen defenders April 11, in the guard mount room of the SFS headquarters building.

The memorial honors all nine security forces Airmen who lost their lives during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom:

1st Lt. Joseph D. Helton; Tech. Sgt. Jason L. Norton; Staff Sgts. Todd James Lobriaco, John T. Self, Brian S. McElroy, and Travis L. Griffin; Senior Airmen Nicholas J. Alden and Jason D. Nathan, and Airmen 1st Class Elizabeth N. Jacobson and Leebernard E. Chavis,

"We talk about a tradition of honor and a legacy of valor," said Tech. Sgt. Vincent Brasher, 81st SFS. "This is it. The memorial speaks for itself."

The new display is a "fallen soldier battlefield cross," which consists of a standing rifle with a helmet and dog tags adorning it, and boots at the base. The biographies of the deceased Airmen are mounted on the wall being the memorial.

All aspects of the new addition to the room, including a new paint job, were donated or paid for by fundraising among the security forces squadron, said Major Brian Fitzpatrick, 81st SFS commander.

The idea, put forward by Senior Master Sgt. Robert Degennaro, came from his time stationed overseas.

Degennaro explains that he needed a project to instill pride in an Airman who was dealing with a hard time. The project was originally just to display the photos of fallen security forces Airmen, but became something more as it was worked on.

"She kept coming to me and asking to do more, and I told her to run with it," said Degennaro. "She told me afterward that reading the biographies of the fallen Airmen made her reflect on how her own troubles weren't so bad."

Enlisting the help of Airmen 1st Class Joseph Prescott, Airman 1st ClassAlec Blackmon and Senior Airman Kevin Rozas, Brasher took donations from security forces personnel and other base agencies to build Keesler's own memorial. They acquired the helmet and boots from a recently retired Airman and the display weapon from combat arms training and management.

Several security force Airmen had stories of who they knew on the wall, either from being deployed or training together.

The guard mount room is used by flight sergeants to conduct roll calls, inspect the flight members, disseminate information and ensure each security forces member is fit for duty. The memorial will be visible to all SFS Airmen before starting their shift.

"We always talk about history, heritage, and try to make it apply to everyday life," said Chief Master Sgt. Farrell Thomas, 81st Training Wing command chief. "Sometimes we go back to WWI and the Civil War, but these are Airmen we can relate to. These are Airmen we knew."

Every day Airmen put your life at risk, whether deployed or at home. The memorial is a testament to their efforts, said Thomas.

The security forces memorial will be a daily call to Airmanship for security forces personnel.

"When I greet new Airmen, I try to impress upon them to aspire toward Airmanship, to embrace our heritage and our core values," said Col. Rene Romero, 81st TRW vice commander. "That means doing the right thing each and every day."

"This is a great example of that," he added. "It's telling these Airmen's story. It's a sad thing when we've lost folks that we know, we wish that that didn't have to happen. It's a reminder that we never know when our time is up, so it's our charge to live each day honorably."

AF Surgeon General aims to help cyber Airmen

by 2nd Lt. Meredith Hein
24th Air Force Public Affairs


4/11/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- 
Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Thomas Travis, Surgeon General of the Air Force, visited 24th Air Force April 10 in an effort to learn about ways that the medical community can support cyber operators. 
"AF Medicine is here to support operations," said Travis.  "We need to provide the right support for Airmen and their families.  I wanted to start this conversation with cyber."
In many areas, including cyber, there is high stress related to the high tempo of operations, noted Travis.  With so much at stake, there is a need to go directly to the operator.
"We are aiming to customize access, customize prevention, and customize care for this growing operational capability" said Travis. 
The general discussed an initiative he began which aims to either embed or dedicate the right type of medical support for operational units.  This practice has been in the works for several years in special operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, remotely piloted aircraft and explosive ordnance disposal career fields. 
"People have to be healthy and fit to be effective," said Travis.  "If we can help people with injuries or mental health issues in the near term, or prevent them to begin with, mission success and Airman wellness is far more likely."
Mental health practitioners have been particularly useful in at-risk, high-pressure jobs, including ISR and RPA career fields, where operators may be more comfortable discussing issues before they become a real problem, said Travis.  These providers have the right clearances to be adjacent and available to these operators in their workplace.  They know the individuals and the mission, and the individual knows and trusts them.   A trip to the clinic may not even be necessary.  But if it is, they go see "their doc", much like we have been doing in flight medicine for many decades
 "The members of the units know their doctors.  That breaks down the stigmas and barriers to care," said Travis.  "It helps to know somebody who you can talk to who has the right clearance to hear what you have to say."
The special operations community, for instance, has specialists who train operators in advance of deployments to prevent injuries and mental health issues.  These same providers then provide care for any problems when the operators return from deployment, enabling them to get better quicker.  In some cases, such as EOD, flights are enrolled to a provider, who works and trains with the flight to get a sense of the physical and emotional stresses the operators are facing, said Travis. 
"This program also gives a sense of mission and purpose to providers like some have never had before," said Travis.  The goal is to teach providers to understand the missions that they are supporting in order to provide the best level of care. 
Travis noted that line mission commanders have been actively seeking the support the Air Force Medical Service has been working to provide through these programs, and he hopes to be able to extend this initiative into the cyber domain to help cyber operators. 
"Cyber is growing in importance, and the Airmen doing this mission perform brilliantly," said Travis.  As such, we are trying to adapt to this new brand of operators.  We have to provide a new kind of support that allows these Airmen to have better access to the help they need."
The general was impressed with the mission carried out by these cyber operators each day. 
"Being here has reaffirmed to me that cyber is clearly operational" said Travis.  It is more than network support.  It's projecting power where it is needed.  Cyber is no doubt part of air power dominance."

90th FS Pilots, equipment tested at Tyndall AFB

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
JBER Public Affairs


4/11/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Air Force Capt. William Albert could feel the missile bay door opening on his F-22 Raptor as the Air Intercept Missile-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile was launched outside, the rocket motor then engaged, giving the missile speed and shooting it out into the sky near Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., March 19, 2014.

The target was an orange, remotely-piloted, BGM-167A Subscale Aerial Target, designed as an evasive target for fighter jets during a Weapon System Evaluation Program at Tyndall Air Force Base. Twelve jets and more than 200 people, including 25 pilots, went to Tyndall Air Force Base to evaluate everything from procedures to equipment.

"It was pretty cool," said Albert, an F-22 pilot with the 90th Fighter Squadron out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. "I could feel the launcher kicking the missile out of the jet."

Once the rocket motor burnt out, the smoke trail stopped and the pilot lost sight of the missile. He watched the progress on the radar.

Albert wasn't the only pilot monitoring the drone on radar. He and Air Force Maj. Russell Badowski and were the third and fourth shooters against the drone. They flew parallel to each other, about a mile apart, and simultaneously fired their AIM-120 missiles.

Albert's missile got there first. For training purposes, the missiles didn't have warheads - his missile speared the drone.

"I was able to see it twist and turn as the drone basically disintegrated at the moment of impact and dropped out of the sky," said the pilot from Olympia, Wash. "It was pretty cool to get to see what that looked like on the radar."

Badowski's missile connected seconds later, hitting the already-damaged target.

"It was pretty cool for both of us to get that kind of success on a shot at a $750,000 drone," Albert said.

Going to WSEP is a Pacific Air Forces requirement. The program is run by the 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron, part of the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group at Tyndall Air Force Base. The 90th FS went there from March 17 to 28 for the two-week evaluation.

"The Air Combat Command commander has a directive that he would like everyone to get evaluated down there on a regular basis," said Badowski, director of operations for the 90th FS. "However, due to our remote location, funding and deployment requirements, we haven't been able to go since 2010."

The program ensures the jets work, the maintainers have them ready to go, the AMRAAM launchers and the AIM-9 launchers are working appropriately, and the fire control system on the aircraft is working appropriately, Badowski said. It validates the missiles are made properly. The whole system is validated by going to this evaluation.

"I thought just loading them up was a lot of fun," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan Miller, 90th FS weapons team chief and native of Chino Hills, Calif. "The pilots came; they were all excited. They were still all hyped up when they came back. Everyone was really excited, it was a good experience."

It's important to have the experience of physically firing weapons, Badowski said.

"If we were to get called to go to war," Badowski said, "a lot of the young guys have never seen what it looks like to actually have a missile come off the jet; to see what the smoke plume is going to look like; to verify that missile is looking the way that it should. It's good for the guys to have that experience before the first time is in the heat of battle."

The pilots shot 12,000 rounds of bullets through every M-61 A1 gun they brought to ensure they were working properly, he said.

"When there's a Gatling gun that's going off about 10 feet over your shoulder, knowing what it feels like in the jet and having the sights, sounds and experiences those things are crucial because while we train, we don't have actual ammunition coming from the jet," he said. "We train on a daily basis but you don't get to experience what that feels like."

WSEP was developed in the Vietnam War, he said. It is designed to validate the pilots, the aircraft and the missiles to make sure they function properly.

"It was definitely a really valuable experience as a fighter pilot, to use your primary weapon and feel what it's like to have a missile come off the jet and actually hit something," Albert said.

"WSEP provides us the opportunity to evaluate the man, the machine and the missile," Badowki said. "We make sure everything is working perfectly so that when we go to war, we can go in confidence that everything is going to work as it's supposed to and we can be successful."

C-17'S JOIN ARMY TO TOTE THE LOAD

by STAFF SGT. RASHARD COAXUM
315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


4/14/2014 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. April 14, 2014 -- Four Air Force Reserve Command C-17 Globemaster III's moved four tanks weighing more than 260 tons in addition to a contingency of Army personnel last week from Wright Army Airfield, Ga.

C-17 air and ground crews - from the 315th Airlift Wing here and the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio - teamed up to transport the M1A1SA Abrams battle tanks and an element of Soldiers from Wright AAF, Ga., to McEntire Air National Guard Base, S.C., in support of a tank movement for the Army's 1/118th Combat Arms Brigade.

Coordinating the effort was the 315th Airlift Control Flight from JB Charleston, under the command of Lt. Col. Lamar Thigpen. "What's so great about this mission is that we are really moving something that has to go somewhere," Thigpen said. "Typically in exercises we pick it up here and move it to another base then pick it up there and bring it back where it started, but this to me is a real world movement and operation."

The ALCF, the Air Force's mobile command and control contingency response unit, provides oversight on air mobility processes such as air operations planning and execution, load planning and aerial port operations. The Air Force Reserve command currently operates five airlift control flights that provide highly trained airlift personnel to manage, coordinate and control air mobility assets as well as having the capability for operating at locations where there is limited support. In addition to those capabilities, ALCF's are able to deploy within 36 hours of being tasked as a contingency response element to the most austere places, Thigpen said.

"Let's say that the Army or Marines have located an area with nothing on where support is needed. They call us and we can go in and set up command and control fast," Thigpen said. "We have the personnel who can coordinate the airflow of things coming in so that we can get them off the airfields and to the people who really need them." "If we look back to the earthquake in Haiti, the ALCF was tasked with running Homestead Air Reserve Base [Florida] as an intermediate staging base in support of the emergency relief missions," he said. "Our command and control had visibility on all the missions and were able to contact people down in Haiti to find out what they needed."

"Based on what was needed, our guys were able to prioritize the shipments, get the chalks together and figure out what needed to get there first," he said. Lt. Col. John Russi - the airlift operations coordinator for this tank mission and aircraft commander for the second transport C-17 from JB Charleston - helped plan this first ever combined operational movement of the Abrams tanks with the South Carolina Army National Guard.

He said that it takes a combined effort for the ALCF to make a mission like this tank movement successful. "We've done a lot of coordinating with the Army," he said. "We had to handle issues like making sure we had the performance we needed. We came down a month ago and did site surveys. We had to make sure the ramp could handle the aircraft and that after the plane was on the ground, it could turn in addition to so many other things." In addition to the safety aspect, Russi noted that a heavy focus of the mission was placed on effective training for the air and ground crews. "We wanted to make sure that everything would be safe for everyone training during the mission because that training is extremely important to what the ALCF does," he said.

"We don't normally lift this kind of weight," Russi said. "There have only been a handful of times a C-17 has been used to carry an M1 tank. That was either to take them to Iraq or Afghanistan or for the initial operational phase for the C-17 to do capability demonstrations." "This gives us more real-time real-world experience in the case we're actually transporting these into combat again," Russi said. The 315th ALCF was recently awarded as the Air Force Reserve Command ALCF of the year for 2013.

Thigpen said that he was proud of all the Airmen involved with missions like the tank movement and how they work together to make the ALCF entity it is to be in position to receive these types of accolades. "We really are the grease of the machine," Thigpen said. "We are the conduit between the user and our higher headquarters." "We make the centralized control and decentralized execution, and we make that happen because we are the bridge between the two.

He said that in the long term, he hopes that being that conduit will help build stronger relationships not only nationally between our military service branches but internationally with other countries. "We are the smallest group of a contingency response force. We can get out and help you get your stuff where it needs to go regardless of who you are," Thigpen said. "Ultimately, the Airlift Control Flight is about building relationships because that is what ALCF's do."

AFSOC command chief bids farewell

by Staff Sgt. Erica Horner
Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs


3/17/2014 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- After three years, three months in a front row seat to the dynamic mission of special operations, Chief Master Sgt. William Turner, command chief of Air Force Special Operations Command, will be heading to the U.S. Transportation Command as the command senior enlisted leader.

"[AFSOC] has been my heart. It's been my passion. It's what I believe in," said Turner. "I know what these guys do, I know what their families give to this mission and I know the sacrifices that are being made every day to make sure that our nation is safe."

In 1986 the Kentucky native enlisted in the Air Force as an F-15 weapons loader, but moved into AFSOC after only a few years.

"In 1990, I applied to be a gunner on the AC-130H gunship," said Turner, who received orders to the 16th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla. "As soon as I arrived and met the people at the squadron, they took me under their wing and showed me the way. I've loved it ever since."

The chief said he's seen the command go through numerous changes throughout the years.

"When I showed up [to Hurlburt Field] in 1991, there were about 4,500 service members and civilians working on the base and we were flying the Vietnam era aircraft," he said. "The new kids on the block were the Talon IIs."

Today Hurlburt has more than doubled their number to approximately 11,000 while AFSOC has grown to more than 19,000 personnel and has expanded its aircraft fleet to support the warfighter's capabilities.

"AFSOC is a step ahead in the changing world," he said. "And as this world continues to change, AFSOC will always be at the forefront of getting things done and getting out on the battlefield and executing the mission of our nation; because we can't fail at this. [The mission] is too precious."

Turner, who has served 21 years of his 28-year career in AFSOC, speaks fondly of the Air Commandos.

"I'm proud of our Air Commandos," said Turner. "Everybody everywhere talks about AFSOC forces. They talk about the great pride and professionalism that our Air Commandos possess. And I can tell you with great confidence that we have the best leadership team assembled taking care of our great force."

Although Turner will miss his Air commandos, he is excited for his assignment at U.S. TRANSCOM.

"They do everything," he said. "Whether it's moving stuff by rail, by ship, or plane, they move stuff to the warfighter and make sure they have what they need to execute the mission. It's going to be a very important mission and I look forward to the challenge."

Frank Cable Visits Malaysia



By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zac Shea, USS Frank Cable Public Affairs

SEPANGAR, Malaysia (April 13, 2014) (NNS) -- The submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) arrived at Sepangar, Malaysia, April 13, for a port visit as part of a regularly scheduled underway period in the Western Pacific.

"The purpose of our visit to Malaysia is to promote stability and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, to demonstrate commitment to regional partners, and to foster growing relationships," said Capt. Mark Benjamin, commanding officer of Frank Cable. "This port visit offers Frank Cable Sailors an opportunity to learn the rich culture and deep heritage of the great nation of Malaysia and to meet the friendly people therein."

During the port visit, Frank Cable Sailors plan to participate in community service events and get to know the local culture by visiting museums and sight-seeing locations throughout the area. The community service events planned include visits to Likas Hospital, Bukit Harapan Children's Home and Single Mother's Association of Karambunai. There will also be opportunities for Frank Cable Sailors to meet with and exchange ideas with their counterparts from the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN).

"Our goals are to engage RMN submarine force leadership to continue building relationships and a better understanding of each others' capabilities," said Benjamin. "The U.S. Navy and RMN will train together in the areas of Anti-Surface Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare, and Quality Assurance maintenance practices. Frank Cable will also host the RMN on board the ship for tours which will be focused on submarine repair and support."

Many among the crew look forward to volunteer opportunities and to experience the local culture.

"I'm excited to see more of Malaysia," said Yeoman 2nd Class Tui James, who has visited Malaysia once before. "I'll be going to the Bukit Harapan Children's home. It's great seeing the kids, they always make me smile."

Malaysia is a nation of approximately 30 million people located in southeastern Asia and has had diplomatic ties with the U.S. since the nation was established in 1957.

"We must maintain our growing relationship with the RMN in order to promote the region's security and prosperity," said Benjamin. "Our strong and enduring security partnership is critical to combating transnational threats, international peacekeeping, maritime security, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response."

Frank Cable, forward deployed to the island of Guam, conducts maintenance and support of submarines and surface vessels deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility and is currently on a scheduled underway period.

Russian Aircraft Flies Near U.S. Navy Ship in Black Sea



By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2014 – A Russian attack aircraft repeatedly flew near the USS Donald Cook in international waters in the Black Sea on April 12, a Pentagon spokesman said today.

The USS Cook was patrolling in the western Black Sea when an unarmed Russian Su-24 Fencer attack aircraft repeatedly flew near the Navy ship, Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters.

“The aircraft did not respond to multiple queries and warnings from Donald Cook, and the event ended without incident after approximately 90 minutes,” Warren said. “This provocative and unprofessional Russian action is inconsistent with international protocols and previous agreements on the professional interaction between our militaries.”

Two Russian aircraft were present, but only one took part in the provocative actions, Warren said. The aircraft flew from near sea level to a couple of thousand feet, he added, but never overflew the U.S. Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.

“The Russian plane made a total of 12 passes,” he said.

The wingman stayed at a considerably higher altitude, Warren said.

Officials later said the aircraft approached within about 1,000 yards of the ship. The USS Cook was never in danger, Warren said.

“The Donald Cook is more than capable of defending itself against two Su-24s,” the colonel said.

Warren said he does not think this is an example of a young pilot joyriding. “I would have difficulty believing that two Russian pilots, on their own, would chose to take such an action,” he said. “We’ve seen the Russians conduct themselves unprofessionally and in violation of international norms in Ukraine for several months, and these continued acts of provocation and unprofessionalism do nothing to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, which we called on the Russians to do.”

109th AW participates in Canadian Forces Arctic exercise

by Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt
109th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


4/10/2014 - STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. -- Nearly 40 Airmen and two Air Force LC-130 Hercules ski-equipped aircraft from the 109th Airlift Wing will be demonstrating their vast capabilities on the Arctic ice as they join the Canadian Forces April 11 to participate in Canada's annual Operation Nunalivut Exercise.

Canada's Joint Task Force-North has been conducting this exercise in and around the area of Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada, since 2007.

This will be the first year the 109th will participate. This year more than 250 people will be involved in the exercise, including the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy Fleet Diving Unit, and the Royal Canadian Air Forces 440 (Transport) Squadron.

The New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing team, which will consist of maintainers and aircrew, will be operating out of Resolute Bay and Thule Air Base, Greenland during the weeklong exercise. Shortly after arriving, maintainers and operations Airmen will establish a "skiway" camp in the vicinity of Resolute Bay to support LC-130 flight operations.

"We see on the horizon the need for aircraft capabilities to meet Arctic taskings," said Lt. Col. Clifford Souza, 109th Operations Group who will be the lead 109th officer on the exercise. "We're trying to get out ahead of it and demonstrate LC-130 capabilities. So we're taking advantage of this exercise - we want to develop joint capabilities and interoperability with the Canadian Arctic Forces because they have a need to maintain an airlift reach throughout the high Arctic."

The Canadians have ski-equipped CC-138 Twin-Otter aircraft which don't have the lift capacity or range the 109th LC-130s have. The 109th will help bring fuel and supplies to the forward-deployed locations during the exercise. Normally Canadian aircraft would do this, but the LC-130 is able to do in one trip what they would need to do in 10, Souza said.

"That shows interoperability and integration between the U.S. and Canada to jointly develop capabilities for the future to operate in the Arctic," Souza said.

"The Canadians are very interested in what we can provide," he said. "We're also taking advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate those capabilities to set up an expeditionary skiway on the sea ice. That has significance for search and rescue, because now we have the ability to go somewhere where there's no runway, set up a ski landing site on sea ice which can provide a forward staging area for personnel, supplies and fuel to increase the operating radius of other aircraft."

While the 109th AW's primary mission is to support the National Science Foundation in Antarctica and Greenland, in the past "the unit existed to support military customers from the high arctic," Souza said. This is the opportunity for the 109th AW to show that they can still support those missions if needed.

In 1975, the 109th received their first ski-equipped LC-130s and assumed the responsibility of resupply missions for the Greenland ice cap's radar stations.

Since then, the 109th Airlift Wing has provided the U.S. military's only ski-equipped aircraft, which has been supporting polar research in the Arctic and Antarctic since 1988. Since 1999, the unit has been the sole provider of this type of airlift to the National Science Foundation and U.S. Antarctic research efforts.

ANG command chief pays 188th Fighter Wing visit

by Maj. Heath Allen
188th Fighter Wing executive officer


4/11/2014 - FORT SMITH, Ark. -- The 188th Fighter Wing here received a visit from the Air National Guard's top enlisted Airman April 5.

ANG Command Chief Master Sgt. James W. Hotaling made a stop at the 188th FW and met with 188th Command Chief Master Sgt. Stephen Bradley and Arkansas Air National Guard Command Chief Master Sgt. Asa Carter before addressing the 188th's enlisted force.

Hotaling spoke about the 188th's on-going conversion from fighters to an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, space-focused targeting and remotely piloted aircraft mission. Hotaling said he understands the challenges the 188th faces as it ventures into unchartered territory.

"We really just try to do a temperature check and I understand this is a very stressful moment in time right now," Hotaling said. "But your wing is very resilient."

The 188th is no stranger to change, flying 16 aircraft, including nine primary mission aircraft, in its 60-year history.

"As I came in I saw many mission set changes," Hotaling said referring to the row of static aircraft that lines the street adjacent to the 188th headquarters facility. "The air park that's there right now represents a mission set change that you've experienced during your entire history here at the wing. So I have pride, confidence that you're going to get over this mission set change."

While the 188th has without question endured the gamut of transformation, this mission transition is the most complex in the 60-year history of the 188th. Hotaling said the wing should be proud that the Air Force has entrusted it with such a cutting-edge assignment.

"We are entering into a new era of warfare and you're going to be on the leading edge of that," Hotaling said. "We like to say that the Air National Guard is the first choice for homeland operations; you prove that at the 188th."

Hotaling also lauded the 188th's combat performance. The wing shattered deployment records in combat hours, munitions expended and mission capability metrics in its last two Air Expeditionary Forces deployments to Afghanistan. Hotaling also praised the 188th's community outreach and the support exhibited by the local community.

"You have a wonderful combat record and something that you will do again in the future," Hotaling said. "And you have enduring voices in the community and partnerships overseas; you're a great partner in this community for sure. The 188th is a resilient wing with a great future."

Bradley, the 188th's top enlisted advisor, said Hotaling's visit came at just the right time for the wing.

"I think it was good for our enlisted force to hear from Chief Hotaling," Bradley said. "We're happy that he took the time to pay us a visit and see what the 188th has to offer. It's important for our future leaders - those young Airmen and junior noncommissioned officers - as well as our senior enlisted to have the opportunity to sit down with the ANG's top chief and catch a glimpse of what's on the horizon for us all. With the challenges we've been through over the past year, his visit was perfect timing."

Following his enlisted call, Hotaling met with 188th chief master sergeants and first sergeant before sitting down with the wing's director of psychological health, Airmen and Family Readiness reps and the chaplain office.

After enjoying lunch with 188th members in the Citizen Airman Dining Hall, Hotaling also popped in to sundry offices at Ebbing Air National Guard Base to visit with Airman across the wing before sitting down with 188th senior leadership and a Special Forces representative to receive a mission and capabilities briefing.

Hotaling then hopped on an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from the Arkansas Army National Guard's 77th Theater Aviation Brigade and took an aerial tour of nearby Fort Chaffee Maneuver Training Center before landing at the 188th's Detachment 1 Razorback Range. While at the range, he met with 188th pilots and representatives from the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron who were conducting close-air support training with the 188th's A-10C Thunderbolt II "Warthogs". Hotaling observed the A-10s dropping ordnance and firing its 30mm Gatling gun before departing for the 189th Airlift Wing, the second leg of his Arkansas Air National Guard tour.

Reserve security forces squadrons hone combat basics at Air Force Academy

by Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Fitzmorris
310th Space Wing Public Affairs


4/11/2014 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo -- The Air Force Reserve's 710th and 310th Security Forces Squadrons sharpened their deployment skills April 7-9 at the U.S. Air Force Academy Jack's Valley training range in southern Colorado.

More than 15 of the SFS "Defenders," from here and Buckley AFB, Colo., took part in the Combat Leaders Course, teaching security forces members to lead Airmen under the stress of combat conditions. With a majority focus on the non-commissioned officer ranks, members took turns in leadership positions while a variety of scenarios challenged each SFS Airmen to think critically under fire.

The three-day course was broken down into multiple teaching environments and scenarios, including improvised explosive device discovery training, camouflage and concealment, ambush retaliation, enemy combatant searches, rescuing injured personnel from downed aircraft and land navigation. All the while, successfully executing the scenarios as cohesive teams.

Keesler Reserve security forces element comes home

by Master Sgt. Brian Lamar
403rd Public Affairs


4/11/2014 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Even during an annual emergency management exercise, the Biloxi-Gulfport International Airport was filled with smiling faces, laughter and cheers as a dozen Airmen passed through the terminal doors and into the arms of their loved ones April 10.

The 403rd Security Forces Squadron Airmen had just finished a voluntary five-month deployment to Qatar in support of Operation Enduring Freedom where they missed holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year, as well as, anniversaries and in the case of Senior Airman Justin Jackson, the birth of his son.

"This is my first time seeing him. This is surreal, when I left I didn't have a child, now I am coming back to my son," said Jackson. "It was hard knowing that I was missing his birth, but as soon as he was born, I was notified by Red Cross and was relieved of duty so I could go and call my family," Jackson explained.

The deployment came at a good time for the squadron. A lot of experience was gained by a handful of Airmen who had never experienced a deployment. That experience will come in handy on their next assignment," said Master Sgt. Lucas Applewhite, the 403rd Security Forces Operations NCO in charge.

ANG command chief pays 188th Fighter Wing visit

by Maj. Heath Allen
188th Fighter Wing executive officer


4/11/2014 - FORT SMITH, Ark. -- The 188th Fighter Wing here received a visit from the Air National Guard's top enlisted Airman April 5.

ANG Command Chief Master Sgt. James W. Hotaling made a stop at the 188th FW and met with 188th Command Chief Master Sgt. Stephen Bradley and Arkansas Air National Guard Command Chief Master Sgt. Asa Carter before addressing the 188th's enlisted force.

Hotaling spoke about the 188th's on-going conversion from fighters to an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, space-focused targeting and remotely piloted aircraft mission. Hotaling said he understands the challenges the 188th faces as it ventures into unchartered territory.

"We really just try to do a temperature check and I understand this is a very stressful moment in time right now," Hotaling said. "But your wing is very resilient."

The 188th is no stranger to change, flying 16 aircraft, including nine primary mission aircraft, in its 60-year history.

"As I came in I saw many mission set changes," Hotaling said referring to the row of static aircraft that lines the street adjacent to the 188th headquarters facility. "The air park that's there right now represents a mission set change that you've experienced during your entire history here at the wing. So I have pride, confidence that you're going to get over this mission set change."

While the 188th has without question endured the gamut of transformation, this mission transition is the most complex in the 60-year history of the 188th. Hotaling said the wing should be proud that the Air Force has entrusted it with such a cutting-edge assignment.

"We are entering into a new era of warfare and you're going to be on the leading edge of that," Hotaling said. "We like to say that the Air National Guard is the first choice for homeland operations; you prove that at the 188th."

Hotaling also lauded the 188th's combat performance. The wing shattered deployment records in combat hours, munitions expended and mission capability metrics in its last two Air Expeditionary Forces deployments to Afghanistan. Hotaling also praised the 188th's community outreach and the support exhibited by the local community.

"You have a wonderful combat record and something that you will do again in the future," Hotaling said. "And you have enduring voices in the community and partnerships overseas; you're a great partner in this community for sure. The 188th is a resilient wing with a great future."

Bradley, the 188th's top enlisted advisor, said Hotaling's visit came at just the right time for the wing.

"I think it was good for our enlisted force to hear from Chief Hotaling," Bradley said. "We're happy that he took the time to pay us a visit and see what the 188th has to offer. It's important for our future leaders - those young Airmen and junior noncommissioned officers - as well as our senior enlisted to have the opportunity to sit down with the ANG's top chief and catch a glimpse of what's on the horizon for us all. With the challenges we've been through over the past year, his visit was perfect timing."

Following his enlisted call, Hotaling met with 188th chief master sergeants and first sergeant before sitting down with the wing's director of psychological health, Airmen and Family Readiness reps and the chaplain office.

After enjoying lunch with 188th members in the Citizen Airman Dining Hall, Hotaling also popped in to sundry offices at Ebbing Air National Guard Base to visit with Airman across the wing before sitting down with 188th senior leadership and a Special Forces representative to receive a mission and capabilities briefing.

Hotaling then hopped on an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from the Arkansas Army National Guard's 77th Theater Aviation Brigade and took an aerial tour of nearby Fort Chaffee Maneuver Training Center before landing at the 188th's Detachment 1 Razorback Range. While at the range, he met with 188th pilots and representatives from the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron who were conducting close-air support training with the 188th's A-10C Thunderbolt II "Warthogs". Hotaling observed the A-10s dropping ordnance and firing its 30mm Gatling gun before departing for the 189th Airlift Wing, the second leg of his Arkansas Air National Guard tour.

Face of Defense: Army Infantryman is Proud to Serve



By Army Sgt. Antony S. Lee
Regional Command South

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, April 14, 2014 – Clark Cepeda, now serving as an infantry private first class in the U.S. Army, was a civilian when he took his two sons to get their hair cut near their home in Marlton, N.J., in 2013.

Cepeda came across a military recruiting station close to the barber shop.

It had been less than a year since he moved his family from the Philippines to the United States, and Cepeda’s dream as a child growing up in the Philippines was to serve in the military.

His grandfather, whom he helped to care for, was a decorated veteran who fought for the Philippines during World War II and survived the Bataan Death March. His service, Cepeda said, was a major influence for his childhood dream.

Cepeda said he tried to join the Philippine navy years ago, but was turned down. “I thought I could no longer be in the military because of my age,” he added, noting that he was 34 when he decided to look into joining the U.S. Army. Despite his doubts, he said, he talked to a recruiter. When he learned he could join and pursue his childhood dream, he wasted no time scheduling an appointment to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.

“When [the recruiter] told me I could still join, I didn’t believe him at first,” he said. “This [was] my last chance. This was my dream since I was a kid.”

Cepeda enlisted May 20, 2013, and shipped to Fort Benning, Ga., to complete his training as an infantryman. After graduating in September 2013, he was stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., to serve with the 4th Infantry Division’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. He recently arrived here with the unit for his first deployment.

“I’m now with one of the most prestigious military organizations in the world,” he said.

Cepeda’s time in the Army thus far has provided him several valuable experiences, including his participation in a naturalization ceremony. Three days before he graduated from infantry school, he officially became a U.S. citizen -- a moment he said was “very much” a big one for him. He was promoted to private first class shortly after arriving here.

Army Staff Sgt. Benjamin Kimball, Cepeda’s supervisor, said Cepeda is one of the hardest-working soldiers he has ever worked with. “He is an excellent soldier,” he said. “As soon as he understands his task, he completes it and excels at it.”

Though trained as an infantryman, Cepeda has been working as a training room clerk, and he has adapted to his new job, Kimball added.

Cepeda said he serves in the Army in large part because he and his wife, a nurse, want to provide better lives for their children than they had growing up. His first son recently told him that he wants to join the Army one day.

“It makes me very proud, because he already knows what he’s doing,” Cepeda said. “He knows I’m fighting for the country that provided us the opportunities and accepted us wholeheartedly.”

Cepeda said his dream of serving in the military became even greater after seeing the Sept. 11 attacks on television while he and his wife were preparing for their son’s first birthday in 2001.

“You [could] feel the pain,” he said. “It [made] you angry at whoever did this.” More than 12 years later, Cepeda reflected on the opportunity to serve his country in Afghanistan.

“This is my dream -- to be in the military,” he said. “I love my job.”