Tuesday, April 22, 2014

U.S. Troops to Arrive in Baltic Region for Exercises

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2014 – A company-sized element of the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team -- about 150 soldiers -- will arrive in Poland tomorrow to begin a bilateral infantry exercise with Polish troops, the Pentagon press secretary said today.

In the coming days, about 450 additional soldiers from the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd ABCT will arrive for similar exercises in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

The exercises are the first in a series of expanded U.S. land force training activities in the Baltic region scheduled to take place this year and possibly into next year, he said.

“Russia's aggression in Ukraine has renewed our resolve to strengthening NATO's defense plans and capabilities, and to demonstrate our continued commitment to collective defense in reinforcing our NATO allies in Central and Eastern Europe,” Kirby said.

The troops will be in place in all four countries by April 28, he said, noting that the exercises will last about a month. “But then we will rotate fresh troops in for more exercises,” the admiral added.

The intent is to develop a persistent rotational presence through the exercises, Kirby explained.

Discussions are ongoing about expanding the bilateral exercises into other countries in the region, he said. Discussions regarding the establishment of combined exercises involving other NATO member and partner countries also are taking place, Kirby said.

“It doesn't have to be either/or,” he said. “I think we're looking for a broad swath of ways that we can help reassure our allies and partners, and it doesn't all have to be through the alliance.”

Since Russia's aggression in Ukraine began, the admiral said, the United States has been constantly looking for ways to reassure its allies and partners of the nation’s commitment to the collective defense principles in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

These bilateral exercises were conceived in part to do just that, Kirby said.

The message to the people of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, is that “the United States takes seriously our obligations under Article 5 of the NATO alliance, even though these aren't NATO exercises,” he said.

“It's a very tangible representation of our commitment to our security obligations in Europe, … and we encourage our NATO partners to likewise look for opportunities of their own to do this same kind of thing for one another,” the admiral continued.

If there’s any message to Moscow, Kirby said, it’s the same as that being sent to the people of the Baltic region: “We take our obligations very, very seriously on the continent of Europe.”

The exercises are more than symbolic, the admiral said. The commitment to putting troops on the ground for an extended period and conducting exercises is “not insignificant,” he noted.

“These are countries that we routinely operate with,” Kirby said. “These are units that the 173rd have worked with before, in all four countries. So they know each other. This isn't the first time that the 173rd has done exercises with these countries. So there's a relationship there.”

The situation remains tense along Ukraine’s eastern border, he said. “Nothing we've seen out of Moscow, nothing we've seen out of Russia or their armed forces is de-escalating the tension [or] is making things any more stable in Ukraine or on the continent of Europe,” the admiral said.

“What would be very helpful is if they removed their forces off that border and took concrete actions to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine,” he said.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said that the events in Ukraine have had the effect of consolidating the alliance and giving it a sharper view of itself and its future, Kirby said.

“NATO is a very strong alliance, more relevant now than it's ever been. … Secretary Hagel was pretty clear with the military leadership that he wanted to look for a wide range of opportunities through which we could continue to reassure our partners in Europe,” the admiral said.

Elsewhere in the region, the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook is wrapping up its rotation in the Black Sea, Kirby said.

The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Taylor returned to the Black Sea today after completing repairs in Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, and will assume the reassurance mission from the Donald Cook, Navy officials said.

Walking on her own

by Senior Airman John Nieves Camacho
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

4/22/2014 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C.  -- At two-years-old, she still wasn't walking and suffered from balance and coordination issues. Due to a variety of medical conditions, caring for her was a 24-hour, 7-day a week job. The family needed help, but didn't know where to turn.

In time, it came to the family's attention that she needed medical equipment to help her walk. The equipment turned out to be $657.87 more than retired Air Force Master Sgt. Brian Buss had in his pocket.

After exhausting most of his resources and options, Brian was referred to the Air Force Aid Society, an Air Force charity that provides Airmen and their families with worldwide emergency financial assistance, education assistance and base-level, community-enhancement programs.

"I didn't know as a retiree we would even be eligible," said Brian. "Once we contacted them and found out we were, I said 'Wow, this is great.' We were grateful they were there and could help us out. It's such a relief to know there are resources available to also help retirees."

Not only was the Buss family's situation eligible, they were approved for a grant to cover the cost of the medical equipment needed for Brian and Jennifer's daughter.

"Without the grant they gave us, our daughter's mobility would still be challenged," said Jennifer Buss, Brian's wife. "They've given her freedom. When we were notified we would be receiving a grant for the equipment, I cried. I had a sense of overwhelming gratitude that just meant the world to me."

With the approved grant in hand, the Buss family immediately ordered the medical equipment that would help their daughter walk. Soon, a pediatric wheelchair and walker was on their doorstep.

"My daughter can now walk on her own with the help of her equipment," Buss said. "If it wasn't for the Air Force Aid Society, and the generosity of not only the individuals in the 4th Fighter Wing, but the whole Air Force, the equipment she has today wouldn't be here. Every time I see her in her walker with that smile on her face, I'm overwhelmed with happiness. It's really a blessing beyond compare."

The Buss family is one of many families impacted by the AFAS. The AFAS receives its funding by way of the Air Force Assistance Fund. The AFAF is a charitable fund by Airmen for Airmen. Currently, the AFAF drive runs through May 14 and this year Seymour Johnson's goal is to raise $82,260. The base currently has reached 45% of its goal this year. All monies raised during the campaign go to supporting the Air Force's four charities: the Gen. and Mrs. Curtis E. LeMay Foundation, the Air Force Enlisted Village, the Air Force Villages Charitable Foundation and the AFAS.

"Donating to the AFAF directly supports our Airmen, retirees, and their families," said Capt. Steve Keefer, 334th Fighter Squadron pilot and the installation project manager for this year's campaign. "It's an opportunity to make a difference for someone who has fallen on hard circumstances."

Brian says having the AFAS there to help in a moment of need, and for it to come from the kindness of Air Force members is a blessing.

"When I was still active duty, I contributed," he said. "I never thought about it; like what it goes into. You often don't see the end result. And here, we've seen it."

Donations can be made by cash, check, money order or payroll deduction. For more information about the AFAF, visit www.afassistancefund.org or contact a unit AFAF representative.

Hagel to Visit Mexico, Guatemala to Affirm U.S. Commitment

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel begins a three-day trip to Mexico and Guatemala tomorrow to meet with allies and partners in the Western Hemisphere and affirm America's commitment to the region, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said here today.

Because an important part of U.S. strategy there is building partner capacity through military-to-military engagement, Kirby told reporters during a briefing, Hagel will start the trip at Fort Bragg, N.C., to meet with special operations personnel who lead such missions and to receive a briefing on these capabilities.

Hagel then will travel to Mexico City to attend the second U.S.-Canada-Mexico North American Defense Ministerial conference.

“This ministerial, which first met [in Canada] in 2012,” Kirby said, “provides an opportunity to expand our bilateral defense ties with Canada and with Mexico to a trilateral framework for increased defense cooperation and coordination as we confront shared security challenges.”

The Mexican government has asked to buy 18 Black Hawk helicopters and associated support equipment from the United States, the press secretary said, adding that the State Department has approved the potential sale and the sale notice, as required by law.

Congress was notified of the sale request April 17, Kirby said, and the process will continue from there.

“We believe this proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy national security of the United States by helping improve the security of a strong, strategic partner in Mexico, both in terms of combating organized crime and drug trafficking,” he added.

Also in Mexico, Hagel will lay a wreath at the monument for the 201st Mexican Air Force Squadron, which fought alongside the United States as part of the allied forces in the Pacific campaign during World War II -- specifically, the fight over the Philippines, the press secretary said.

About 250,000 Mexican citizens served in the U.S. armed forces during World War II, he added. More than 1,000 Mexicans received Purple Hearts, and three received the Medal of Honor.

Afterward, Kirby said, Hagel will travel to Guatemala to convey U.S. support for a key partner in the region challenged by narcotics trafficking and transnational crime.

Hagel’s visit will be the first visit to Guatemala by a U.S. defense secretary since 2005, Kirby said. “The secretary looks forward to meeting with the country's leadership,” he added.

While in Guatemala, Hagel also will visit with U.S. troops who are engaged in medical training and civil affairs exercises alongside members of the Guatemalan military.

Combined celebrations bring nations together at Incirlik

by Senior Airman Chase Hedrick
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

4/21/2014 - INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- If April showers bring May flowers then Turkish and American citizens who attended the first ever joint Spring Fling and Children's Day event April 19, at Arkadash Park should be looking forward to a colorful month.

The joint Turkish air force and United States Air force event brought in attendees of multiple nationalities determined to have a good time despite the light rain that that persisted throughout the day. Organizers from both nations filled the park with foods, games and stage performances that cemented the cohesion of the previously separate celebrations.

Incirlik AB has long held a Spring Fling festival near the Turkish children's day holiday of April 23 of each year, said Mary Wall, 39th Force Support Squadron community services flight chief. In the interest of partnership the idea to combine the celebrations was brought up a couple of years ago, but hadn't worked until this year, she said.

"For a lot of different reasons we weren't able to do the festivals on the same day, but we were able to do it on the same weekends," said Wall. "Then this year we started asking the Turkish air force back in January if they would like to participate with us on the same day this year. When we got a response it just started rolling from there."

The top ranking officers on Incirlik from each nation, Turkish air force Air Pilot Brig. General Serdar Gulbas, 10th Tanker Base commander and U.S. Air Force Col. Craig Wills, 39th Air Base Wing commander, led the event's welcome ceremony together.

"Ladies and gentlemen, and ladies and gentlemen of the future, we really appreciate you coming out for today's joint ceremony with 10th Tanker Base children's day festivities and 39th Air Base Wing Spring Fling festivities," said Gulbas. "Last year we had those celebrations separately and we got wet. This year with the hope we would not get wet again we held our celebrations jointly. We still got wet, but we are lucky we didn't get that much rain this year."

Wills added his thoughts on the event including his hopes the day would provide attendees the opportunity to get to know each other outside of the working environment. More such opportunities may also be coming up according one member of the 39th FSS .

"We're also looking forward to the World's Faire Day on May 17," said Barbara Stewart, 39th FSS deputy commander. "We're trying to do something with the four corners of the world by asking the Dutch, Germans, Turks and all of the heritage committees to be a part of this and give everyone a chance to show their culture in a little bit of a different fashion."

As the many nationalities and cultures on and near Incirlik AB continue to interact hopefully the weather will hold, but if not Team Incirlik now knows nature can't rain on its parades.

Rep. Tom Cole visits AF Reserve's only AWACS unit

by Staff Sgt. Caleb Wanzer
513th Air Control Group Public Affairs

4/21/2014 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- 
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., visited the 513th Air Control Group here April 18 as part of a base-wide tour.

The 513th is the only Air Force Reserve unit to maintain and fly the E-3 Sentry, an Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft.

During a morning briefing, 513th Airmen explained how they support the AWACS mission by providing maintenance and aircrews when the active-duty 552nd Air Control Wing, also at Tinker, is unable to provide enough Airmen to fulfill mission requirements.

Cole asked questions during the briefing ranging from the proposed inactivation of the 513th to the unit's role in allied operations. He expressed appreciation for the reservists during his visit and voiced his support of their mission at the Oklahoma-based installation.

"With this latest round of cuts, we've run the risk of cutting into military muscle," Cole said. "I don't think the president wants to leave the military less capable than when he found it, and Congress doesn't want to either."

The majority of 513th members served at the active-duty 552nd before becoming reservists,  explained Lt. Col. Steve England, 970th Airborne Air Control Squadron director of operations. Allowing the Airmen to move to a part-time status allows the Air Force to keep experience maintenance and aircrew Airmen who don't need the training that new service members require. Typical training time for AWACS career fields ranges from eight months for certain aircrew positions to four years for radar and avionics maintenance jobs.

"I was really pleased that he took time out of his busy schedule to visit the 513th and hear our story," said Col. David W. Robertson, 513th ACG commander . "It's good to have people at his level able to tell our story and address the issues that we're facing."

Cole also visited Navy and active-duty Air Force units on base during his tour. First elected in 2002, he is the representative for the fourth district of Oklahoma.   

Face of Defense: Belize Native Returns Home in U.S. Uniform

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kali Gradishar
12th Air Force

COROZAL, Belize, April 22, 2014 – While Army Sgt. Karen Burbank was growing up in Belize City, Belize, her mother always emphasized that if she stuck with her education, she would succeed. She heeded that advice, and with five years of training and experience as a medic, Burbank recently deployed to Belize from the 349th Combat Support Hospital in Los Angeles.

From April 7-17, Burbank helped people from her home nation receive proper medical care while working in the triage section of the New Horizons Belize 2014 medical readiness training exercise. Burbank was responsible for obtaining blood pressure and pulse readings and for determining patients' main reasons for visiting the temporary clinic.

New Horizons is a multi-faceted exercise geared toward providing mutual medical and engineering training opportunities for Belize’s defense force and for Canadian and U.S. military members. This was Burbank's first time supporting a New Horizons exercise in Belize.

"This is a real emotional and appreciative experience for me, because I get to actually take care of my own," she said. "I think it's a real good opportunity for us to learn, to build relationships with another country, and also for [Belizeans] to learn the things we can teach them.

"I'm just happy to be here and be a part of this mission supporting a place where I came from,” she added. “I know how important it is."

Many Belizean patients did not immediately recognize Burbank’s accent, but once they did, she said, their demeanor changed and they were stunned that she is from Belize but serves in the U.S. military. "They're amazed. … They're happy when they hear me speak the mix of English and Creole," she said.

The path from Belize City to Los Angeles involved a determination to succeed and continuous encouragement from her mother to value education, Burbank said.

"I was raised up with my mom being a single mother having four kids,” she recalled. “What she always told us was school is very, very important. It's a way of a better opportunity. It's a way of getting out of poverty. … She also used to tell us that nobody can take your education away. We realized how hard it was for her taking care of all four of us, so we couldn't let her down. I realized that I had to focus."

When Burbank's mother died in 1999, she began her path to life in the United States and, eventually, a life in uniform.

"I decided to join the military because it's something that I thought was a very good opportunity for me and my family,” she said. “That's how I ended up in the Army from Belize. It wasn't an easy path. … However, you have to be determined. You have to want it."

Burbank got her education at Queen Square Anglican School and Wesley College, both in Belize City, and then received training in the Army to become a soldier and a medic. She is continuing her education, in line with her mother's advice.

"My daughter, right now, she looks at me as an example," Burbank noted. "If I didn't make that change for myself, or if my mom didn't encourage me, it would have been the same pattern of not wanting more. Now my daughter can see, and she can use me as a positive role model. My mom is not here today, but I know if she was she would be very, very proud."

Advisory team supports multinational exercise in Cameroon

from 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron

Members from the 621st Contingency Response Wing participated in exercise Central Accord 14, at Air Base 101, Douala, Cameroon, Mar. 10-21.
Eleven 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron air advisors participated in the exercise, which involved nine nations. The team focused their efforts on familiarizing the Cameroon Air Force with skills for fixed wing airdrop and aerial port operations and to aid in future interoperability requirements between the U.S., African nations, and intra-Africa regional partners.
"The exercise is to improve the capability of Cameroon, Burundi, Chad, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, the Republic of Congo, Sao Tome, and Nigeria and to logistically and medically support forward-deployed forces," said Maj. Sean Hook, 818th MSAS air advisor. "Our role in the exercise was to familiarize participating partner nation personnel though briefings and ground demonstrations."
According to Master Sgt. Jerome Williams, 818th MSAS air advisor, the engagement was a success.
"All nations in attendance were able accomplish the goals that were identified ahead of time," he said. "This was easily observed during the second week when they had to perform the skills they learned. From safe ingress and egress of aircraft, to instructing lessons in front of other partner nations."
Lt. Col. Sean Kuponiyi, Nigerian Air Force C-130 pilot, said the exercise provided a great learning experience.
"The crew resource management lecture was very informative," he said. "I am much better informed of the relevance in the prevention of incidents and accidents related to CRM now.
The MSAS are tailorable expeditionary organizations established to conduct building partnership and building partner capacity engagements at partner nation locations where air mobility operational support is non-existent or insufficient. The core capabilities that define the MSAS are command and control, air operations, aerial port and aircraft maintenance. The unit provides air force leaders with the ability to employ teams of knowledgeable, expeditionary air mobility air advisors from a dedicated squadron.

medics provide care in Guatemala

by Airman 1st Class David Bernal Del Agua
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

4/21/2014 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan.  -- Airmen from the 22nd Medical Group deployed to Guatemala Saturday to participate in medical readiness training exercises and provide humanitarian assistance to those in need.

"The MEDRETE program is one of the premier U.S. engagement efforts in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility, giving U.S. military health care personnel the opportunity to have a positive impact on thousands of people who may not have had any medical care in years," said Lt. Col. Victor Ortiz, 22nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander.

Six medical providers from McConnell will be part of a team from across the country to provide primary care at the remote location of Zacapa, Guatemala.

"Most dentists dream about going on these humanitarian missions, but they don't happen very often," said Capt. John Mallya, 22nd AMDS dentist. "This is a great opportunity that I might not have again. I'm excited and honored that my commander recommended me for it."

MEDRETEs are U.S. Southern Command-sponsored readiness training exercises designed to provide humanitarian assistance and free medical care to the people of the host nation, while helping improve the skills of U.S. military medical forces and those of military medical professionals of the host nation.

"MEDRETEs are also one of the military's more unique and successful training programs," said Ortiz. "They provide invaluable real-world preparation for troops while reaching out to and working alongside partner nations."

The exercises include, but are not limited to, preventive medicine education, pediatrics, primary medical care, immunizations and dental activities including fluoridation, dental extractions, and oral hygiene education.

"This is a good opportunity to train and go through the deployment process, and it's going to be a great experience, said Mallya. "I'm expecting to extract more teeth in two weeks than what I've done in my 5-year career in the Air Force."

Child abuse and neglect: what it means to the Air Force

by Senior Airman Stephanie Sauberan
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

4/21/2014 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- -- When raising children, parents will often do their best to ensure they are giving them the proper care and attention needed to grow into strong healthy adults. Many parents would never dream of abusing or neglecting their children. However, the definitions of abuse and neglect in the civilian sector do not necessarily carry over to military life, and some military parents may be found guilty of these crimes without knowing they had been committing them.

According to Air Force Maltreatment Definitions, there are four basic types of maltreatment: emotional abuse, neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse.

Emotional abuse of a child includes, but is not limited to, berating a child, humiliation, threatening the child and excessive discipline.

Neglect is defined as egregious acts or omissions on the part of the child's caregiver that deprives the child of needed age-appropriate care. Examples of neglect include lack of supervision, exposing a child to physical hazards, educational neglect, neglecting to provide a child with proper health care, deprivation of necessities such as food and shelter as well as abandonment.

Abandonment occurs when a caregiver is absent and does not intend to return or is away from the home for more than 24 hours without arranging for an appropriate surrogate caregiver.

Physical abuse is defined as the non-accidental use of physical force on the part of a child's caregiver. Examples of physical abuse include, but are not limited to, shaking a child, pushing or shoving, slapping, hitting a child with an object or restraining a child.

However, acts committed to protect a child from immediate physical harm, such as grabbing a child to prevent them from being struck by a car, are not classified as physical abuse.

Sexual abuse is defined as sexual activity by an alleged abuser with a child for the purpose of sexual gratification of the child, the alleged abuser or any other person. Examples of sexual abuse include, but are not limited to, exploitation such as photographs, molestation and sexual assault or rape.

In many cases parents who are suspected of maltreatment towards their children will be referred to the Family Advocacy Clinic on base.

"Allegations come to us through either self-referral, third interest party, Ward County, medical, or Command," said 1st Lt. Natasha Hilts, 5th Medical Operations Squadron alternate Family Advocacy officer. "At that point, I will review the allegation with the administrative staff to determine if it meets the threshold to take the case and decide if it is egregious and whether it fits within the definitions of abuse or neglect."

If a case meets the threshold, Family Advocacy will open an incident notify the Office of Special Investigations; the base legal office; the 5th Security Forces Squadron; and Command, said Hilts. Ward County Social Services is also notified if children are involved. FA will then conduct interviews with all beneficiaries within 3 days of opening the incident.

"FA then gathers any collateral information and adds it to the file," said Hilts. "We are required to take that information to the Central Registry Board within 60 days of receipt of referral."

On the board sits the Vice Wing Commander, Command Chiefs, OSI, a base legal representative, A 5th SFS representative, Command, and the Family Advocacy Officer.

Based on the definitions and criteria of abuse and neglect, the board votes to see if the case "Meets or Does Not Meet Criteria" for maltreatment.

"If a case does not meet criteria then we close the case at the next staffing and make recommendations for prevention, such as anger management class or parenting classes," said Hilts. "If it does meet criteria then we begin officially working with the patients depending on the allegation."

For example, in a case concerning child maltreatment, FA focuses on educating parents on punishment vs. discipline and appropriate discipline behaviors, said Hilts. If the parents comply with the recommendations, attend all the classes recommended and FA personnel see progress and improvement the case will be closed and marked as resolved.

If the patients are not engaged, FA attempts three times to reach them. Additionally, FA gives their leadership a courtesy notification and closes the case as unresolved if they do not receive support from that member's leadership, Hilts explained.

FA members have no legal authority to make participants engage, nor can they take children out of the home, Hilts clarified. The power to remove children from a home falls under Ward County's realm of authority. Although, FA can make those recommendations if they feel the children are unsafe.

Though FA cannot physically remove children from a home, they are one of the last agencies to review a case before it reaches the board, and ultimately may make the final recommendation that leads to parents losing their children, said Hilt.

The consequences for a closed or unresolved case are: ineligibility to receive Pacific Air Force orders or overseas assignments; no volunteering with children; and their next commander can deny Permanent Change's of Station as they see fit.

"We offer so many options to squadrons in regards to child abuse and neglect," said Hilt. We are here to help and it never needs to get to the point of maltreatment."

USAF doc preps Romanian air force pilots for F-16 training

by Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

4/21/2014 - CAMPIA TURZII, Romania  -- U.S. Air Force Capt. (Dr.) Rocky Jedick, 510th Fighter Squadron flight surgeon, provided a G-force brief to Romanian air force MiG-21 Lancer pilots in preparation for F-16 Fighting Falcon training, at Campia Turzii, Romania, April 11, 2014.

Soon after collaborating with the U.S. forces for bilateral training during Exercise Dacian Viper 2014, Romanian pilots will visit Brooks City-Base, Texas, for centrifuge training to prepare for the transition from the MiG-21 to the F-16. The Romanian government signed a contract with Portugal to acquire 12 F-16s to replace their MiG-21s.

"We're sending our first six pilots to San Antonio to become F-16 pilots," said Romanian air force Col. Nicolae Tanasie, 71st Flying Operations Group deputy commander and exercise director. "They need to be academically prepared to get inside the centrifuge and this training helped prepare them."

A human centrifuge tests a pilot's G-tolerance, or ability to remain conscience under several G's. A G is the measure of gravitational force on an object. Normally, on earth, a person is under one G of force, which is one's body weight.

The pilots, familiar with the MiG-21's ability to withstand up to seven G's, must prepare for the nine-G limit of the F-16.

According to Jedick, the difference between seven and nine G's is substantial. For example, a person who weighs 150 pounds under one G would weigh 1,050 pounds under seven G's and 1,350 pounds at nine G's.

"At nine G's you'll get an idea of what you'll look like in 60 years," Jedick said joking. "The anti-G straining maneuver is a method the pilots use to compensate for excessive G-forces they face.

"We also covered some statistics in terms of the seriousness of excessive G-forces ... so they can understand how serious this can be [when] flying high-performance aircraft," added Jedick.

Another substantial difference between the MiG-21 and F-16 is the seat in the cockpit of an F-16 reclines 30 degrees. According to Jedick, this changes the direction in which the pilot feels the G-force upon their body, which can increase or decrease their tolerance level to G's.

At the invitation of the government of Romania, more than 150 Aviano Airmen are currently serving at the 71st Air Base during the bilateral training exercise. The training exercise aims to enhance interoperability and readiness with the Romania air force through combined air operations.

Always there: Chaplains provide source of comfort

by Senior Airman Kristoffer Kaubisch
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

4/22/2014 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Serving at a Nothern Tier base isn't an easy assignment for everyone, but an option that's often overlooked during times of hardship is the Chaplain Corps.

Chaplains want people to know there's always someone they can turn to, said Maj. Mark Williams, deputy wing chaplain, 5th Bomb Wing. Regardless of faith, religion, belief or absence of belief, a chaplain is there for someone to lean on.

Capt. Anthony L. Wiggins, chaplain, 5th Bomb Wing, describes the Chaplain Corps as "a calming presence and a listening ear." A term used in the Chaplain Corps is ministry of presence; the opportunity to be out with Airmen in their work places to show that chaplains are available.

Although April is the Month of the Military Child, with special events throughout the month, the Chaplain Corps efforts are year-round, said Wiggins. They would like to increase awareness of their presence and availability.

"For us, it's not just this month, though we choose one month to focus on child abuse and neglect and awareness of alcohol abuse, this is something that we see regularly," said Williams. "It tears apart families, it shortens careers and there are so many negative consequences to some of this.

"If we can help people - kind of partner with them, talk to them about where they are, where they need to be, what's going on - we can help them to make good choices."

The chaplains are ready to assist anyone, regardless of religion or worldview, said Wiggins. Chaplains don't turn individuals away, and they work hard to make themselves available. They're a base agency like any other, which means people can make appointments to see them at any time, during the duty day or even after duty if necessary.

"With counseling we address life, career transitions, marital issues, relationships, grief, loss, financial issues - pretty much anything that deals with a person's personal, spiritual or family level," says Wiggins.

Chaplains don't fill an exclusively religious role - they're present to help with personal problems as well, and they're especially serious about respecting the privacy of those who talk to them.

"We are the only agency on base that has 100 percent absolute confidentiality protected under the Military Rule of Evidence 503," said Williams. "This keeps the communication purely between the chaplain and the person that came to speak with him or her.

"Whatever they say to us, it stays with us, it is protected communication."

With over 60 percent of the base on the Personal Reliability Program, that confidentiality can be critical, added Williams.

"Those who are on PRP don't always have the opportunity, or feel that they have the opportunity to go to different places and talk. Whether it could adversely affect their career or someone else's, it doesn't matter, it stays with us," said Williams.

Chaplains bring resources in addition to their presence in that concept by advising leadership at all levels.

"Every day we have an opportunity and are blessed to engage with Airmen and engage with family members," said Williams. "We realize that there are so many more, whether they are in the dorms or base housing, dependents, active duty members - whoever it may be that sometimes feel like they have no other place to go or they don't have anybody that they can talk to."

One way the base chaplains are increasing awareness is through a juice bar at the gym, open Tuesday through Thursday mornings, where they hand out free slushies' and coffee.

While the chaplains work hard to help people directly, they also help Minot Airmen with the Chaplain presence itself, said Wiggins. He further explained that the Chaplain Corps believes that the simple act of being on hand and doing what they do can make them a source of comfort. Even if an Airman never makes an appointment, it can do them good to know that they have the option to advice our counseling from a Chaplain.

"Even while we are not present, we are still with the people we counsel," said Wiggins. "The very values, the aspects, the things that we may have said or done will stick with them when we are not there.

"They always have the option to call or email us no matter what they may be going through."