Thursday, April 24, 2014

23rd Airlift Wing unveils latest plaques honoring retirees

by 2nd Lt James W. Killen
123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

4/24/2014 - LOUISVILLE, Ky.  -- The newest retirees from the Kentucky Air National Guard were honored at April 12 when two black-granite plaques inscribed with their names were unveiled during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base here.

The plaques join six others dating back to the first retirement in 1962 and honor those who have devoted much of their lives to the service of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the Kentucky Air National Guard.

The annual unveilings started 11 years ago as "a way of permanently enshrining the people who have really been the cornerstone of what the Kentucky Air National Guard is all about and the excellence we have shown through the years," said Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, the adjutant general for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

This year's ceremony honored the 46 Airmen who retired in 2013.

"We've been here since 1947, and the legacy that has been left by the people whose names are on these plaques is incredible," said Col. Barry Gorter, commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing. "We're out here today to carry forward the legacy of excellence that has been handed down to us by all of you."

The director of the Air National Guard, Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, also spoke at the ceremony, addressing an audience comprised of current and former members of the Kentucky Air Guard and their families.

"For the members who are retiring, I want to tell you that this is special because your family is here, your friends are here, and your community is here," Clarke said.

The plaques, which line the front of the 123rd Airlift Wing's Lt. Gen. John B. Conaway Headquarters Building, were donated by the non-profit Kentucky Air National Guard Retiree Group.

Load crews compete for honors

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
673d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

4/24/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- Air Force Staff Sgt. Jarrett Hayman, 90th Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons load team crew chief, raced around an F-22 Raptor, performing final checks on a Guided Bomb Unit-32 on the flightline at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, April 18, 2014.

His team, Senior Airman Stephan Doherty and Airman 1st Class Deangelo Hamilton, had finished loading the training ammunition onto the aircraft. Hayman completed his final review as his teammates finished putting the tools away, then the three stood in position and formally announced they had finished the load crew competition. The team won the quarterly 3rd Maintenance Group competition, beating their rivals from the 525th Aircraft Maintenance Unit.

"It's good; I felt we had a good load," Hayman said. "We were doing what we would do in the real world - load munitions on the jet for wartime."

The mission of a load crew is to load munitions onto the aircraft safely, efficiently and reliably. The weapons load competitions test the unit's abilities and help them improve in the safety of a training environment. The competition is performed with training missiles that weigh and feel like the real thing, but lack the explosive risk, said Air Force Staff Sgt. Jamie Swanston, 3rd Maintenance Group weapons standardization member.

This training prepares the load crews for higher standards in the real world mission. It also saves money since the competition takes place at JBER, Swanston said.

The load competition consists of dress and appearance, a knowledge test, an inspection of their tools and equipment, and the load itself, he said. During the load portion of the competition, one person has to operate the MJ-1 Lift Truck used to transport the GBU-32 into the main weapons bay while the other two guide and load the missile. The three also have to carry a separate AIM-9 Sidewinder missile to be loaded onto the side of the aircraft.

"Loading and maintaining the aircraft is the meat and potatoes of their job," Swanston said. "If we have to load weapons up at a moment's notice, we know it can be done safely, proficiently and in a timely manner. It's a combat job."

The 90th and 525th aircraft maintenance units train regularly to be proficient at their jobs, including competing in quarterly loading competitions. The leadership of the load crew members ensure their people are trained to keep the mission running smoothly.

"We train monthly, and whoever gets the best score throughout one quarter gets to go up for load crew of the quarter," Hayman said. "It's an honor to be able to do that."

"It's definitely an honor to be chosen as the crew to do this," said Airman 1st Class Sean Lancaster, 525th AMU. "It was a little intense. This is my first load competition; I was fairly nervous going in. I feel like we did well; it's a good experience."

The members have the opportunity to demonstrate what they do and how well they do it to their friends and family during the quarterly competitions.

"It's making sure that all the weapons load crews are proficient at doing the task," Hayman said. "I feel like we're ready if we're called upon."

California State Military Museum Fighting for Its Survival

California State Government Attempting Takeover of Private Weapons Collection

For over 43 years the State Military Museum in Old Sacramento has been operated by a non-profit foundation.  During this period, the Museum has served thousands of visitors with numerous displays honoring California’s rich Military history.  The Museum Foundation has continually upgraded the displays and exhibits, added a Wall of Honor commemorating all those from California who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the Global War on Terrorism, and preserved the legacy of California’s rich military history.

During the past 18 months the California State Military Department (which controls the National Guard and other entities), under the direction of its Adjutant General, Major General David Baldwin, has been making a determined effort to discredit the Foundation and assume control over the Museum and all its artifacts.  They have directly violated a signed Memorandum of Agreement between the two parties and are misrepresenting California’s Military and Veterans Code, Section 179, for their own purposes. In July 2013, the Military Department sent 3 State employees to the Foundation’s storage facility (which is a Federal Building) and cut the locks, seizing control of the facility and its contents, including property belonging to the Foundation and to the Federal Government. They have filed a lawsuit against the Foundation claiming poor management, lack of accountability, loss of property, and posing a threat to public safety.

The Military Department is proposing to amend approved legislation under which the Museum is granted $100,000 from the General Fund.  These funds cover less than 25% of the Museum’s annual budget.  These funds were created as a “pass through” for the Military Department directly to the Museum Foundation. The Department, however, wants the funding to come directly to them so they can maintain total control over the Foundation via control of the funds.

Thousands of California veterans, their families, and California citizens have donated military artifacts and/or funds to the Museum Foundation over the past 43 years. Many were given tax deductible credit for artifacts or donations because the Museum Foundation is a non-profit 501(C) (3) tax-free status entity and, as such, can accept the items and grant tax credit.  In this lawsuit, the Military Department is claiming all of the items donated are now “State property”, thereby negating the original intent of the donor and nullifying the tax deduction citizens claimed.

In fact, the Museum Foundation was specifically created to make sure that the Military Department would never attempt to take ownership of the donated items and takeover the museum operation. The Adjutant General, who is appointed by the Governor and is, therefore, a political appointee, runs the Military Department. The Museum Foundation was created to avoid any such action each time the Department leadership changes.

In addition, as part of their signed agreement, the Military Department is to reimburse the Foundation for some of the operating costs in order to keep the Museum open. On September 11, 2002, Governor Davis made it the  permanent California State Military Museum with the California Military Department, providing its ongoing funding.  As a result of the current disagreement, however, the Military Department has cut off all of the funds that they previously agreed, in writing, to provide. 

As a result, California’s State Military Museum has had to close its doors and lay off its employees.  The Museum is not just a “National Guard Museum” but represents all branches of the Armed Forces who have been affiliated with the State in some manner.

Part of the lawsuit also alleges that the Foundation has lost and mismanaged firearms and other weapons over the years,.  There is no evidence to support these allegations. During the same period, however, the California Military Department has had numerous weapons lost and/or stolen. In fact, the loss of two fully automatic weapons from a Guard unit was just reported on Friday, March 21, 2014 in the Sacramento Bee and on Channel 13 News. 

The Military Department allegations against the Museum Foundation are totally without merit and constitute a malicious abuse of the judicial process. This lawsuit is  predatory in nature and designed to put the Foundation out of business.  In the first two court hearings regarding this lawsuit, the court has ruled in favor of the Foundation. 

It is time the public be made aware of the actions taken by the Military Department as directed by The Adjutant General, Major General David Baldwin, and the resulting forced closure of the California State Military Museum.  This is only hurting the preservation of the military history and heritage of California and the honoring of our veterans and their families.

DOD Maintains Support to Find Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2014 – The Defense Department is continuing to support the international search mission for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said today.

The total cost of the search to date is $11.4 million, Warren said. This figure includes $4,200 per flight hour for the two P-8 Poseidon aircraft involved in the search, he added. The plane and its 239 passengers disappeared March 8 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The costs break down as follows, Warren said:

-- $4.6 million in operations and maintenance funds;

-- $3.2 million in overseas humanitarian disaster and civic aid funds; and

-- $3.6 million for underwater search equipment and support.

The P-8s continue conducting aerial search operations, and the Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle completed its twelfth search mission, the colonel said.

“Bluefin-21 has now completed more than 90 percent of a focused underwater search ... . Unfortunately, no contacts of interest have been found,” he said.

The department has received no requests for additional underwater search assets, Warren said.

The Military Sealift Command dry cargo ship USNS Cesar Chavez joined the task force April 10 to provide logistical support.

Chavez is the Navy's newest combat logistics force ship, and is operated by a crew of 125 civil service mariners. The ship also has a complement of 11 U.S. Navy personnel, who provide operational support and supply coordination, a Navy news release said.

SecAF visits Altus AFB, discusses priorities, future

by Senior Airman Franklin R. Ramos
97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

4/23/2014 - ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James visited Altus AFB April 23, 2014, to get a firsthand look at the wing's mission, visit with Airmen and civic leaders, and learn the unique capabilities, key initiatives and attributes of Altus AFB.

Her visit consisted of one-on-one discussions during breakfast with Airmen, a wing mission brief, an assault strip rubber removal demonstration, and an Airmen's call open to all base personnel.

During the Airmen's call, James announced Altus AFB as the formal training unit for the KC-46A Pegasus.

"The studies are done, the evaluation is complete and the verdict is in," said James. "I am very pleased and honored to tell you that Altus will be the formal training unit for the KC-46A Pegasus."

The KC-46A FTU will be an additive mission to Altus.

In addition to the announcement, James also touched on her priorities of taking care of people, balancing today's readiness for tomorrow, and making every dollar count.

"We have got to make sure that our Air Force today has the tools, flying hours, training and all the other pieces of readiness required so they can step up to the plate tonight if necessary and do whatever missions leadership may ask of us," said James. "We have to invest now in the technologies, platforms, techniques and procedures that will carry our Air Force forward. All of this is costly, it means we have to free up money from one area and apply it to others."

James expressed making every dollar count is something Altus does well.

"I really want to congratulate and thank all of you at your level because I have heard a lot of stories this morning about how everybody here at Altus is making every dollar count and really thinking innovatively about how to do things differently," she said.

James recognized a few of the base's innovators during the Airman's call, including Tech. Sgt. Bartek Bachleda, 97th Operations Support Squadron assistant non-commissioned officer in charge of wing current operations, and William Coleman, 97th Civil Engineer Squadron heavy repair shop pavements and equipment engineer foreman.

"Sergeant Bachleda told me about how he redesigned a cushion to be used for boom operators so that there would be less strain on the back and neck," said James. "This is a great innovation that is going to help Airmen save medical costs down the line and help in the overall training mission.

"Bill Coleman has come up with an alternative way to take the rubber off the runway," said James. "This service use to be contracted out; we use to have to pay more money to remove the rubber at the appropriate times and now thanks to Bill and his team it's about a hundred thousand dollars in savings per application four times a year."

James covered other topics including the challenges the Air Force faces such as force shaping, budget constraints and core values.

"Integrity is not only a personal responsibility, but it's very much a team sport," said James. "If you see something in your environment that you know is not right, your integrity requires you to do something about it. The wingman culture is fabulous but it never means taking care of people that are doing wrong."

James concluded with a description of a smaller, capable force in the future.

"Tomorrows Air Force will be smaller but it will be agile; it will be credible; and we will be an affordable total force team. We're going to do our job for the country, fulfill our defense strategy, we're going to be ready and we're going to be modern," she said.

SELM test comes to a close

by Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

4/24/2014 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Ninetieth Missile Wing Airmen participated in a Simulated Electronic Launch-Minuteman test April 11-17.

The SELM testing is performed every six months on a rotating schedule for each of the missile bases - F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., and Minot Air Force Base, N.D., meaning each base is tested every 18 months.

"SELM represents the most complete test of our ICBM weapon system," Capt. Joseph Liles, 576th Flight Training Squadron test manager, said. "In this test, we evaluated six launch facilities from their day-to-day operational state through issuance of the first stage ignition signal. All six performed exactly as expected."

The tests were designed to assess the reliability of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile weapon system in a realistic, deployed environment. This year's testing included a variety of new scenarios.

"We tested some exciting new concepts and were able to validate the system's flawless performance when exposed to certain modern threats," Liles said.

The SELM testing required preparation and teamwork from the whole wing. A number of organizations worked together for the test - the 90th Operations Group and the 90th Maintenance Group were at the forefront of the preparation for the testing, and they, along with the 90th Security Forces Group, worked together for the actual testing phase.

"The 90th Missile Wing put a significant amount of work into safely executing this valuable test of the weapon system all while ensuring that their operational mission never missed a beat," Liles said.

The 90th OG was the primary focus of the test, and Liles said they did not disappoint.

"We were responsible for monitoring the shifts of the testing sites, and when the time came, we physically went through all the processes necessary to simulate an official launch," 1st Lt. Joseph Wyatt, 319th Missile Squadron, said. "The test went perfectly and we didn't run into a single issue."

The 90th MW is next scheduled for a SELM test in fall of 2015.

USS Donald Cook Departs Black Sea

From U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

BLACK SEA (NNS) -- The forward deployed guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) departed the Black Sea, April 24.

Donald Cook's presence was an example of the U.S. Navy's commitment to enhancing interoperability at sea, serving as a cornerstone of NATO's military strength, while demonstrating the U.S. and allied forces' capability to provide the right presence, in the right place, at the right time.

While in the Black Sea, Donald Cook reassured our allies of the United States' commitment to the region, conducting a port visit and exercises at sea with the Romanian navy and the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Taylor (FFG 50).

"We were able to conduct a variety of exercises with not only our Romanian partners, but also with USS Taylor, who will be operating in the area," said Cmdr. Scott Jones, commanding officer of Donald Cook. "These exercises were invaluable to us, as well as our Romanian partners."

Donald Cook arrived in Constanta, Romania, April 14. The crew was honored to welcome aboard Romanian President Traian Bsescu, who toured the ship, including the Navigation Bridge, Combat Information Center and Engineering Control spaces.

During the visit, Jones stated that operating in the Black Sea had been an incredible opportunity to strengthen ties and improve interoperability with Romania.

"We feel that this is an important time to demonstrate our resolve and shared commitment with NATO; we also believe that this is the time to maintain the right presence where it matters to promote peace and stability," said Jones.

The day before her scheduled departure from the Black Sea, Donald Cook conducted a surface exercise with Taylor and the Romanian navy ships ROS Regina Maria (F 222) and ROS Marasesti (F 111). The exercise consisted of a simulated attack by small, fast attack craft, requiring exercise participants to work in close communication with each other to repel the simulated attack.

"We were fortunate to have the opportunity to embark Romanian navy personnel to carefully plan and coordinate with during our operations in the Black Sea," said Jones. "Their presence strengthened our personal and professional ties. We look forward to our continued partnership."

The Romanian sailors embarked Donald Cook, and conducted a visit, board, search and seizure exercise aboard the ship. The sailors simulated boarding a ship and controlling it, while also ensuring the safety of its crew and any passengers.

The U.S. Navy, on a normal and routine basis, operates ships in the Black Sea consistent with the Montreux Convention and International Law.

Donald Cook is deployed in a multi-mission role in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations to contribute to regional maritime security, conduct bilateral and multilateral training missions, and to support NATO operations and deployments throughout the region.

Donald Cook, the first of four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to be forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, is serving on a scheduled patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations as part of the President's Phased Adaptive Approach to European ballistic missile defense.

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts a full range of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation missions in concert with coalition, joint, interagency, and other partners in order to advance security and stability in Europe and Africa.

Building a legacy: Capt. Tyler Voss

by Senior Airman Mary O'Dell
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

4/24/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- The memory of a fallen Airman will live on with the help of the friendship, dedication and loyalty of one Fairchild Air Force Base staff sergeant.

Capt. Tyler Voss of the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron was one of three Airmen who perished in an aircraft accident nearly one year ago, and Staff Sgt. Matthew Perroux, a 373rd detachment aircraft maintenance instructor, is ensuring his legacy will live on within the airframe of an "experimental plane."

After meeting through an everyday class taught by Perroux, Voss reached out to the electrical environmental specialist for help with his project, rebuilding an RV-8 aircraft.

"He asked me to help him re-do the wiring and update the panel and instrument systems," Perroux explained. "I immediately agreed as long as we had a solid plan of attack."

In January, 2013, Perroux was officially recruited to help Tyler with his re-build, something he was known to be very passionate about.

After several weeks of re-wiring the panel, Voss and Perroux were able to start it up and witness their project coming to life together. Soon after, Voss deployed to the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan.

Voss coordinated through email with Perroux while serving his country overseas; ensuring parts were received as Perroux continued working from home.

Perroux never expected their time working together to come to an end so quickly.

"I was at work when the news came through that an aircraft had gone down," Perroux reflected. "That bad feeling in my gut took over."

When the names were finally released, Perroux was busy working on the plane, as he did most weekends.

"I placed a flag over the wing and wrote up a small piece about Tyler," Perroux said. "When I met his parents a week or so later, I offered to finish the project and close that chapter for Tyler."

The plan is for the plane to be flown down to Voss' hometown of Boerne, Texas, once the project is complete.

At the point of the accident, the plane was mostly gutted, as Voss and some friends had been working on the interior of the plane. Perroux continued working on the wiring and panel from home.

Some of the work Perroux has done includes power distribution, engine information systems, lighting systems, rebuilding the canopy and re-integrating the panel and wiring from nose to tail and from wing to wing.

While friends of Tyler's helped out with some expenses, about 90 percent of the costs have come straight from Perroux's pocket.

"I'm working on the plane every week, at least once a week," Perroux said. "I've even taken leave to work on it for weeks at a time. I'm to the point that I mostly know where everything goes and how it fits, I just need to put everything into place."

In several short weeks the plane will be ready to fly, with just a few items left to replace, and hopefully make an appearance during Skyfest 2014 at Fairchild AFB.

"Tyler's family lost their son, but I was more than happy to give them back a piece of Tyler to keep with them always," Perroux lamented. "If he wasn't flying a tanker, he was working on his plane. Being able to finish this for him means more to me than anyone will ever know."

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21st Century Sailor Office Director Briefs Sub Community, Senior Leaders

By Lt. Stephanie Homick

BOSTON (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Sean Buck, director, 21st Century Sailor Office,recently traveled to the New England area to meet with Sailors from the submarine community, Command Leadership School, Senior Enlisted Academy, Boston-area Navy recruiters and members of a two Boston universities, April 21-23.

Buck conducted a three-day fleet engagement trip to visit with Sailors at Naval Station (NS) Groton, NS Newport and Navy Recruiting District New England to introduce the 21st Century Sailor Office, update the fleet on where the Navy stands regarding sexual assault, suicides, and alcohol-related incidents, and to solicit feedback from the Fleet about how to best communicate information and how to improve the delivery of future training for the fleet.

"Let me update you on how our Navy is doing in eliminating many destructive behaviors," said Buck. "Sexual assault awareness has vastly improved. Awareness about the reporting process is up because of all the training you've completed over the last year. We have also worked hard to develop a benchmark response system for victims of sexual assault. As we sustain this awareness and response system, now is the time to further step up our prevention efforts. To that end, my office will be rolling out skills-based bystander intervention training later this year. We will also introduce other scenario-based training focused on eliminating negative behaviors on the left side of the Continiuum of Harm such as sexual harassment."

In addition to sexual assault prevention and response, the 21st Century Sailor Office is responsible for suicide prevention, drug and alcohol abuse prevention and the physical fitness program.

"We saw a 26% decrease in suicides last year from the previous year," said Buck. "However, one suicide is one too many... There have been decreases in the number of alcohol-related incidents and DUIs. Since we started testing for synthetic drugs, the number of Sailors popping positive for synthetic drugs has dropped off tremendously. PRT-related administrative separations are down."

Buck also wanted to solicit feedback from the fleet. He asked Sailors how they wanted to receive information from the 21st Century Sailor Office and how they best receive training so it is relevant and meaningful.

Sailors advocated for information to be passed to them via social media, but continued to agree that the best method was face-to-face interaction so that there can be an open dialogue in better understanding and comprehending the information. Additionally, the submarine community asked for resources to be downloaded on the SIPR network, so that they would have access to it during their working hours. For training, Sailors requested small, peer-led focus groups of mixed gender and rank. They would like short and concise training that is impactful in its messaging, but that has minimal impact to the workday.

The trip concluded with visits to two Boston-area universities, Wellesley College and Northeastern University. Buck met with the psychology departments, school of criminal justice and the college of health sciences to share best practices and resources for sexual assault prevention and response.