Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Face of Defense: Army Reservist Pursues Higher Education

By Army Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris
99th Regional Support Command

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J., April 29, 2014 – Army Spc. Joshua Meyer used his physical strength and stamina to finish first during the road march portion of the Best Warrior competition hosted here by the Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command and 76th Operational Response Command last week.

In civilian life, Meyer is using his intellectual prowess on the road to obtaining his undergraduate degree from Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, N.Y.

“Being in college during the week and then on duty during the weekends works out quite well with my schedule,” said Meyer, a trumpet player with the Army Reserve’s 198th Army Band, headquartered in Rochester. “The Army Reserve has helped me out quite a bit financially with my civilian education.”

Meyer has served in the Army Reserve for the past three years and is a recipient of the gold German Proficiency Badge.

“Being a citizen-soldier in the Army Reserve means that I get to have a civilian life with a job and school, then I get to become a soldier when I put the uniform on,” he said. “It is the best of both worlds.”

In addition to the road march event, the Best Warrior Competition tested citizen-soldiers’ warrior skills with events such as the Army Physical Fitness Test, M16 qualification and “move and shoot” ranges, hand-to-hand combatives, day and night land navigation, and urban combat.

“We’ve been planning this for the past eight months,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Jesus DeJesus, coordinator and noncommissioned officer in charge of the Best Warrior Competition. “Some of us don’t do this type of training all the time, so it’s good for the competitors.”

The Best Warrior Competition tested the physical, mental and emotional stamina of its competitors over several days, pushing them to their limits.

“The competition was a great experience that was offered to me, and I could not pass it up,” Meyer said.

Firefighters train using ADMS

by Airman 1st Class John Linzmeier
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

4/28/2014 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- A class of 12 firefighters from the 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron completed the Fire Officer II course here, April 18, using newly developed technology.

They were trained by instructors from Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, who brought an Advanced Disaster Management System, a virtual-reality trainer used to simulate emergencies that could happen on any military base.

"With ADMs, we can take young career firefighters and expose them to their first time acting as a fire officer," said retired Master Sgt. Michael Dejacomo, Department of Defense Fire Academy instructor. "They are able to take command of a scene and deal with human resource problems."

The 12-day course helps certify and prepare Airmen to become firefighter-crew chiefs using the Norma Brown training system. It enables them to take control of a team, a crew chief's responsibility if he was the first to arrive on the scene of an emergency.

The first nine days of the course are taught in a classroom setting while students learn different scenarios they may encounter and also how to react to each situation. The remainder of the course is hands-on-training with ADMS.

"They basically took video-game technology and applied it to training for command and control and firefighting," said Dejacomo, who helped develop ADMS for Air Force use.

An example simulation can begin with a team of firefighters driving a truck through the computer generated streets of Goodfellow AFB.

Instructors act as observers, evaluators, and for training purposes, 'arsonists.' From simple kitchen fires to aircrafts burning inside a hangar they create fires throughout the base to test student's abilities to command and control the scene.

"Everything is real time and physic based," said Dejacomo. "So if they don't put water on a fire, the fire grows. If they put the correct amount of water on a fire it goes out."

No training exercise can replicate the emotional gravity of a real fire scene; so instructors prepare a combination of variables for their students to raise anxiety levels.

Since there is no fixed script for each training session, Dejacomo said instructors constantly make adjustments to intensify the scenarios. They can change the size and location of the fire and number of victims who need rescuing.

"If you really wanna see stress levels go up," he said, "we'll put kids in the building."

Firefighters are graded on their performance and have a strict checklist to follow. If a student does not complete a task, he must redo the objective.

"They try to stress you out by throwing a bunch of stuff at you and get you flustered," said Staff Sgt. William Turner, 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter crew chief. "So you have to keep your cool and follow the training."

All firefighters in the Air Force still train with live fires regularly to maintain their mission readiness and proficiency.

The use of ADMS helps Airmen develop their command and control techniques with minimal health risks and experience a level of realism that cannot be found on a table-top setup, which was used to teach the previous course for the past 36 years.

"I thought the class was extremely valuable," said Turner. "It helped us to better understand how to control a scene, handle a large scale incident and manage all of our resources without letting them getting out of our span of control."

The ADMS' portability helps to significantly reduce Air Force expenditures. Rather than sending teams of firefighters to Goodfellow AFB to complete the course, it is now brought to different to bases across the Air Force.

"The things we teach are not just things they might run into someday," said Dejacomo. "When they get back to work, they're going to run into something we taught them. That's the most fun part about our teaching fire officer II."

Some firefighters may not encounter the catastrophes they experience while using the simulator, however, the command and control skills they have learned can be used immediately.

"It was one of the better advanced courses that I have gone through," said Turner. "We use this stuff all the time for all the mass casualty exercises that we do on base. The chances of us running into a large scale incident like this aren't necessarily high, but if that ever happens, were going to be ready for it."

4th CMS propulsion flight: keeping Eagles soaring, engines screaming

by Airman 1st Class Shawna L. Keyes
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

4/24/2014 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C.  -- With more than 90 F-15E Strike Eagles assigned to the 4th Fighter Wing, aircraft maintenance is a huge undertaking for Team Seymour Airmen.

With Seymour Johnson's four fighter squadrons, and factoring in each of the wing's 90 aircraft has two jet engines, one can see how busy a day in the life of an Airman who specializes in maintaining the F-15E Strike Eagle's turbofan engines can be.

These Airmen are the 4th Component Maintenance Squadron's propulsion flight; they know the Strike Eagle engines inside and out.

"The most rewarding part of our job is knowing our engine is allowing the pilot to put bombs on target," said Master Sgt. Daniel Mozier, 4th CMS propulsion flight assistant chief. "When the guys on the ground need air support or the aircraft needs to provide air superiority, they're going to get it because we did our jobs to the best of our ability."

Boasting the largest propulsion flight in the Air Force in terms of the number of engines maintained by the flight, the 76 Airmen assigned maintain approximately 160 more jet engines than their nearest counter part, totaling more than 200 jet engines.

The mandate of the 4th CMS propulsion flight is to supply war-ready engines in support of the wing's aircraft, conduct aircrew training and support real-world contingency operations.

"Our Airmen must be knowledgeable and proficient due to the critical nature of an engine," said Mozier. "They must be able to follow technical data and use a variety of special tools to ensure the engines are safe and reliable."

The flight has six sections responsible for the inspection, disassembly, assembly, and testing of the engines: Jet Engine Intermediate Maintenance, modular repair, support, secondary power, programs and the test cell.

The JEIM section conducts scheduled and unscheduled maintenance on the engines. Modular repair takes the modules, an engine component that's self-contained and interchangeable, from the JEIM section and repairs and rebuilds the module then sends it back to JEIM. Support completes more than 600 inspections each month on consolidated tool kits, test equipment, support equipment and mobility assets. They support all sections in the propulsion flight as well as the flightline. Secondary power ensures all engine transportation trailers and lift trailers are serviceable and readily accessible. Programs ensures everyone's training is up to date and oversees the building manager, security manager and unit deployment manager for the shop. Test cell is this last line of defense. For every engine JEIM works on, the test cell has to complete a certain series of runs that ensures the engines are fully mission capable.

"Engine maintenance is very complex," said Mozier. "All the different components and modules must function properly, and a majority of the maintenance requires attention to detail due to critical measurements, clearances, and tolerances."

In a typical day, the propulsions flight has seven to 10 engines requiring maintenance, and each section plays an important role in producing a serviceable engine. The JEIM section will typically disassemble, inspect, and reassemble an engine in around 15-workdays.

Whenever possible, the flightline crews of the 4th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron try and fix problems in the aircraft before removing the engine and sending it back to the propulsion flight. If fixing it on the flightline isn't possible, the engine is sent back to the shop where they troubleshoot everything to find the problem.

"One thing we do better than most is work with our 4th AMXS flightline counterparts," said Master Sgt. Robert Spears, 4th CMS JEIM section chief. "It takes a combined effort to keep our aircraft operational. Due to our cooperation, the engines on our jets, on average, stay on the aircraft twice as long as most other bases."

According to Spears, the flying at Seymour Johnson is more intensive than anywhere else he's been.

"These maintainers excel at what they do, and they've met every obstacle head-on," said Spears. "All because of their dedication and no-nonsense work ethic, they help produce safe and reliable engines for the aircraft."

Handy speaks to personal responsibility

Commentary by Lt. Gen. Russell Handy
Commander, 11th Air Force

4/29/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- "This is the future we seek in the Asia Pacific -- security, prosperity and dignity for all. That's what we stand for. That's who we are. That's the future we will pursue, in partnership with allies and friends, and with every element of American power. So let there be no doubt: In the Asia Pacific in the 21st century, the United States of America is all in."
-- President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

This quote from our President highlights the rebalance to the Pacific as a national priority. I think it perfectly reflects the importance of our 11th Air Force mission. Whether it involves defending our homeland; supporting civil authorities during a natural disaster; running an enormous joint base; caring for a 30 year-old hangar; maintaining a multi-million dollar jet; or leading a team of Airmen doing all of the above, what each of you do every day, matters.

Because the success of our mission rests on the shoulders of our Airmen, it is critical our 11th Air Force team remains unified and strong. This is why we need each of you to act with personal responsibility and hold one another accountable.

I trust each of you had a chance to reflect on the importance of sexual assault prevention during April--our Sexual Assault Awareness Month. There were 3,200 victims of sexual assault in YOUR Air Force during fiscal year 2012. Does this disturb you? It should! Sexual assault degrades and destroys the foundation upon which our organization has been built and tears at the seams which bind our team together.

Our goal should be easy to understand -- eliminate sexual assault from within the ranks. Each of you must have zero tolerance for disrespect of one another to help prevent sexual assaults. From the time we join the Air Force, we are taught the Core Values of Integrity first, Service before self and Excellence in all we do. I need you to live our Core Values without fail to help achieve our goal.

Take a look at your actions and the actions of those around you. 'Little things' sometimes mean a lot. Perceptions are important. Don't be afraid to speak out against inappropriate discussions. Don't be ashamed to speak up for what you know to be right. If you don't, who will? What occurs after that is a slippery slope. If 'we' somehow get the impression treating each other with dignity and respect is optional, we've failed. It is foundational to preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault in our institution.

We live in challenging times. I know that. I know I put a lot of stress on you to get your mission done in a resource-constrained environment. The key to handling stress is taking care of....NOT taking advantage of...each other. I want you to enjoy Alaska. This place is absolutely breathtaking. I truly feel like we've been given the opportunity of a lifetime to experience the beauty of this Arctic countryside and the warm hospitality of our local community. Let's work together to experience the 'Last Frontier' together...as a family! A family respects and cares for one another. That is what you are a part of, folks. Let's embrace that.

The nation has turned her eyes to the Pacific, and Alaska holds a critical part of that as we not only look to the west, but do what we must to protect the homeland. Remember, each and every one of you is a valuable member of our team, and your role in our mission matters. Do what you must to ensure each of our teammates is treated with dignity and respect.

Thule Air Base continues Operation Boxtop support

by Staff Sgt. Jacob Morgan
21st Space Wing Public Affairs

4/29/2014 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- At the northernmost permanently inhabited place on earth, approximately 508 miles from the North Pole, more than 60 personnel conduct signals intelligence at Canadian Forces Station Alert, and its detachment stations.

By nature of their austere geographical location and with limited access during the year, the station requires a large semiannual resupply mission to get them through the harsh Greenland winters and operate at full capability to complete their mission.

Each year, two operations, titled Operation Boxtop 1 and Operation Boxtop 2, are conducted from Thule Air Base, Greenland, with the primary mission of delivering ultra-low sulfur diesel, called JP-8 fuel, and mobile support equipment. This year, a Royal Canadian Air Force C-17 Globemaster III and three C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the 8th Wing Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Canada, are carrying the cargo to resupply CFS Alert with support from the 821st Mission Support Group at Thule AB.

Boxtop 1, which is typically conducted during the April timeframe, includes the "wet lift" delivery of JP-8 fuel for domestic use in generators for heating and power. Approximately 2.2 million liters are delivered annually, and 75 percent is delivered during Boxtop 1.

Typically, the operation is carried out completely by C-130J aircraft. This year, however, Boxtop is employing a C-17. Carrying the bulk of the "wet lift," the C-17 delivers approximately 50,000 liters of fuel per trip, meaning the aircraft takes many trips from Thule AB to CFS Alert.

Making sure the aircraft turn-around is as efficient as possible, air traffic controllers with the 821st SPTS help guarantee time-on-target arrival and departure times.

"The Reykjavik Oceanic Area Control Center, Iceland, and Air Force personnel reserved specific airways and altitudes for the Boxtop aircraft," said Master Sgt. Karen Cullen, 821st Support Squadron air traffic control complex chief controller. "This eliminates the need for extra coordination during the peak traffic times."

Air traffic controllers with the 821st SPTS also safely launch and recover the aircraft, make sure transient services are provided for, and ensure radar separation services from other aircraft operations within Thule AB's control area.

The Canadian Department of National Defense, the Canadian Joint Operations Command and 1st Canadian Air Division also provide oversight for the joint operation encompassing many international partners.

"Operation Boxtop is truly a joint effort by the Air Force and her allies," said Cullen. "Working collectively with the Greenlandic, the Royal Danish Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force, it is an international collaboration that ensures mission success."

According to Cullen, understanding that there is no one part of the operation that is more important helps all forces operate with maximum effectiveness.

"We consider ourselves fortunate to be in a position to support our allies in their resupply of their forward operating stations," said Cullen. "Operations such as these allow each nationality involved to learn something from each other and embrace cultural differences."

(Editor's note: Tech Sgt. David Buchanan and Capt. Matthew Francom with the 821st SPTS contributed to this story.)

USAFA cadets make finals of National CCDC

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

Cadets from the United States Air Force Academy Cyber Competition Team participated in the finals of the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition in San Antonio, Texas, April 25-27. 
The competition focused on time management to perform against the clock, application of practical knowledge in real time and teamwork to create a sound strategy, according to the CCDC website. 
"The Air Force Academy is committed to producing highly technically qualified lieutenants to lead the defense of our Air Force and nation in cyber.  Competitions like this are incredibly motivational and give cadets invaluable experience facing the kinds of threats we see on networks daily," said Dr. Martin Carlisle, director of the Academy Center for Cyberspace Research.
There were three main components to this year's competition, according to the competition's website.  First, teams were required to maintain a network and its affiliated services.  Next, each team had to respond to changes in security and changes in their networks.  Finally, teams had to defend their network from malicious attacks. 
"It's fun," said Cadet 1st Class Ryan Zacher, captain of the Cyber Competition Team.  "The challenge of protecting a network and constantly battling is cool."
The competition's scenario stated that a fictional company hired an all-new IT staff, the students, to protect the network.  The students were then given control of said network without much additional information.  The students then had to learn about the network and respond to requests from their Chief Information Officer throughout the competition. 
"It's always great to get more experience doing things of this nature in cyber," said Cadet 1st Class Chad Speer.  "It's cool because we are not given any boundaries because cyber is a man-made domain." 
 The National CCDC was the senior class's last competition with the Air Force Academy team.  Recently, the cadets took second place in the National Security Administration's inter-service Cyber Defense Exercise April 8-11. 
The mission of the CCDC is to provide institutions with information assurance or computer security curriculums with a competitive environment to assess their students' depth of understanding and operational competency in managing the challenges inherent to protecting a network infrastructure, according to the organization's website.
"There is a difference between learning in the classroom and actually doing it," said Cadet 1st Class Keane Lucas. 
The competition was created by the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security at the University of Texas at San Antonio, which also serves as the lead technical advisor for CyberPatriot, the nation's largest high school cyber defense competition. 
Ten semi-final victors competed in this year's finals in San Antonio.  The Air Force Academy is the only service academy to make the finals this year.  This is the fourth consecutive year that the team has made the national finals of the CCDC. This year, the University of Central Florida took first place in the competition. 
"It's all about exposure," said Zacher.  "Having seen what can be done in cyber gives us a step ahead as we move forward in this domain."

From Bataan to Typhoon, Obama Praises U.S.-Philippine Alliance

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2014 – From the jungles of Bataan to the rubble following Typhoon Yolanda, American and Philippine troops have worked together to make the region a better place, President Barak Obama told American and Philippine service members near Manila yesterday.

The Philippines was the last stop on the president’s four-nation swing through Asia. He also visited Japan, South Korea and Malaysia. “I’m here in the Philippines to reaffirm the enduring alliance between our two countries,” the president saidduring a stop at Fort Bonifacio.

Obama thanked President Benigno Aquino III for his hospitality and the meetings that forged deeper ties between the two nations.

Near the fort is the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, which the president visited after the speech. It is the burial ground for more than 17,000 American and Filipino service members from World War II. It also memorializes more than 36,000 missing in action in the Pacific during the war.

“These Americans and Filipinos rest in peace as they stood in war – side by side, shoulder to shoulder – balikatan,” he said. Balikatan characterizes American and Filipino cooperation. Yearly, the U.S. and Philippines military participate in Exercise Balikatan.

“Together, Filipinos and Americans put up a heroic defense, at Bataan and Corregidor,” Obama said. “Together, they endured the agony of the Death March and the horror of the prisoner of war camps. Many never made it out. In those years of occupation, Filipino resistance fighters kept up the struggle. And hundreds of thousands of Filipinos fought under the American flag.”

The president noted that the service of these Philippine fighters under the U.S. flag was finally recognized. “We passed a law, reviewed the records, processed claims, and nearly 20,000 Filipino veterans from World War II and their families finally received the compensation they had earned,” he said.

Some of those veterans – now in their 90s – were in the audience, and the president recognized their service.

“The spirit of these veterans – their strength, their solidarity – I see it in you as well when you train and exercise together to stay ready for the future,” Obama said.

U.S. and Philippine service members work together against terrorists, and American service members stand ready to work with their allies in the event of a disaster. The response to Typhoon Yolanda was the latest example of this. “Along with your civilian partners, you rushed into the disaster zone, pulled people from the rubble, delivered food and medicine,” Obama said. “You showed what friends can do when we take care of each other.”

Obama said more will be done in the future under a new defense agreement between the two nations signed during this trip. “American forces can begin rotating through Filipino airfields and ports,” the president said. “We’ll train and exercise together more to bring our militaries even closer, and to support your efforts to strengthen your armed forces. We’ll improve our ability to respond even faster to disasters like Yolanda. Today, I thank the people of the Philippines for welcoming our service members as your friends and partners.”

The ten year agreement is part of the greater vision to deepen American relations in the region. “We believe that nations and peoples have the right to live in security and peace, and to have their sovereignty and territorial integrity respected,” Obama said. “We believe that international law must be upheld, that freedom of navigation must be preserved and commerce must not be impeded.

The president further stated that disputes must be resolved peacefully and not by intimidation or force.

“Let me be absolutely clear,” he said. “For more than 60 years, the United States and the Philippines have been bound by a mutual defense treaty. And this treaty means our two nations pledge … our ‘common determination to defend themselves against external armed attacks, so that no potential aggressor could be under the illusion that either of them stands alone.’

“In other words, our commitment to defend the Philippines is ironclad and the United States will keep that commitment, because allies never stand alone,” he said.

Tornado preparedness storms through Sheppard

by Airman 1st Class Jelani Gibson
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

4/28/2014 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Tornadoes can come through with winds that can exceed 300 mph and also produce hail, lightning, flash floods and a host of other natural disasters. Sheppard potentially stands in the direction of a force that has the ability to irrevocably change lives.

According to the National Weather Service, in 2013 there were 55 tornado-related deaths in the United States.

The 82nd Civil Engineering Squadron aims to bring some order to the chaos through knowledge and preparation.

The squadron makes it their job to educate people on and off base about evacuation procedures and how to shelter-in-place during any natural disasters or emergencies.

The base holds a unique distinction in that it is the first Air Force installation in Texas to be awarded the storm readiness rating by the NWS, an award that requires a community to have proactive and clear-cut guidelines on how to respond in hazardous weather operations.

StormReady, an NWS program started in 1999 in Tulsa, Okla., helps arm America's communities with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property.

"We have to educate people," said Norman Yeingst, base emergency installation manager. "People need to take responsibility and ownership of it."

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States is home to the most tornadoes, with just over 1000 recorded each year. Sheppard lies in what is known as Tornado Alley, which spans the Midwest and southern part of America. This area is where most of the tornadoes in the United States strike.

A tornado hit Sheppard in 1964, damaging hangars, equipment and homes within the local area. With Sheppard being part of the most tornado-stricken section of a country that holds the highest amount yearly, a high level of importance is placed on preparing for something that could strike at any time.

Building emergency kits, going over evacuation procedures, how to take accountability and practicing disaster plans are just a few of the many tips Yeingst encourages in those facing natural disasters.

"Everybody's job on this base is to do their job and we do this so they can do their job," Yeingst said. "If we need to push information up, we push it."

With all of the uncertainty surrounding when and how natural disasters can affect the environment, Yeingst wants the people affected to plan and practice.

"I can only provide the info to you," he commented. "You need to think about it and act."

Jeremy Kirk, 82nd Civil Engineering Squadron emergency management specialist, attributes fear of the unknown as one of the most difficult parts of dealing with a tornado. Regardless of that unknown, Kirk encourages all to find a shelter within their home and workplace, while going over evacuation plans with family members and loved ones.

"You have to be educated and make the best decisions possible," he said.

March honors fallen

by Staff Sgt. Darlene Seltmann
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

4/28/2014 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Airmen and local community members came together April 20 to honor military members who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country by participating in the annual March of the Fallen rucksack march through the White Tank Mountains. There were three different weight categories participants could select to carry ranging from 45 to 75 pounds.

The March of the Fallen is a 4.5 mile hike dedicated to honoring those who gave their lives during the war efforts of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.

The rucksack march was created in 2012 by Staff Sgt. Alan McMurray, 56th Medical Operations Squadron physical therapy technician, and Senior Airman Bryan Shook, 943rd Aerospace Medical Squadron medical technician at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, after consolidating a combination of ideas and past experiences.

"Their watch is now over, so we carry their weight upon our backs and continue onward in their honor," McMurray said.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Wounded Warrior Project and Luke Airman's Fund, he said.

There were 131 participants in this year's event with 30 volunteers. They raised approximately $7,500. This year saw more than triple the amount of participants and money raised since the program began.

The guest speaker, retired Tech. Sgt. Matthew Slaydon, was wounded in 2007 while deployed to Iraq after an improvised explosive device detonated two feet from his face. The blast severely injured Slaydon, resulting in the loss of his left arm and his eyesight.

Slaydon motivated the crowd with his words and by telling his experiences.

"Just remember the experience you're getting to have today - one so many would give much to be able to participate in," he said. "They would give so much to be able to feel that grinding, painful sensation in their steps that you will feel today, but they can't because they left their legs somewhere in Iraq or Afghanistan. Don't just do it today for those who we left on the battlefield, do it for those who are unable to experience this due to their injuries. They are fallen as well."

3 Minot squadrons earn top honors

by Senior Airman Stephanie Sauberan
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

4/29/2014 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Three squadrons at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., set themselves above their peers in being recently recognized for superior performance, each earning a top squadron award: the 742nd Missile Squadron, the 23rd Bomb Squadron and the 5th Operations Support Squadron.

742nd Missile Squadron: The Wolfpack
The 742nd Missile Squadron received the 2013 General Samuel C. Phillips Award as the best overall missile squadron in the entire Air Force.

A total of 10 Missile Squadrons within Air Force Global Strike Command competed for the award. The 625th Strategic Operations Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Omaha, Neb.; three squadrons at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; three at Malmstrom AFB, Mont.; and three here at Minot AFB.

Over the past couple of years, the men and women of the 742nd have worked extremely hard to increase their individual performances and have made the team better as a result, said Lt Col. Christopher Cruise, 742nd MS commander.

"We have a group of dedicated professionals in the Wolfpack," said Cruise. "This is a 24/7/365 mission; we don't get down days, holidays or weekends and the men and women of the 742nd realize the importance of what they do, and they do it very well. It has truly been my honor to serve with them."

The goal of the 742nd MS is to build upon the successes that they have seen, said Cruise. They will continue to improve their procedures and ensure that they take care of the mission daily.

"Ultimately, we need to continue the tradition of excellence that is expected of the Wolfpack," said Cruise.

The award is named in honor of General Phillips, who was the program manager during the development and testing of the Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile system. Many of his ideas and concepts of operations are still in use today.

23rd Bomb Squadron: The Bomber Barons
The 2013 Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker Memorial Award was presented to the 23rd Bomb Squadron due to their unparalleled excellence throughout the 5th Bomb Wing's Consolidated Unit Inspection, for scoring 98 percent on all exams and passing 45 flight evaluations, which led to the wings "Excellent" rating.

Every bomb squadron in AFGSC was eligible for this award, to include Minot, Barksdale, and Whiteman Air Force bases. A bomb squadron from Minot AFB has won this award the last three years in a row: the 23d Bomb Squadron in 2011, 69th Bomb Squadron in 2012, and the 23d Bomb Squadron again in 2013.

"Sustained excellence through teamwork and commitment to mission accomplishment earned us this award," said Lt. Col. Brandon Parker, 23rd Bomb Squadron commander. "This award represents strong unit performance throughout the entire year; not a single event nor any single person. Our team performed at a high level during numerous inspections, a deployment, and various higher headquarters-directed exercises, because we committed ourselves to the mission and each other."

In addition to their score during the CUI the squadron deployed in support of U.S. Pacific Command's Continuous Bomber Presence, moving $450 million of assets and 45 aviators after only one month's notice. Finally, the squadron's flawless execution of a 17-ship surge demonstration during the 5th Bomb Wing's Nuclear Operational Readiness Inspection was instrumental to the wing's "Excellent" rating.

Parker went on to say that he continues to be amazed at how his entire team at Minot pulls together to accomplish the mission. For him, it is not really about winning awards, but how his team goes about accomplishing the mission.

"I am very proud that we strive to do things the right way, every day," said Parker. "I am also very grateful for the outstanding support we receive from our mission partners in the Maintenance, Mission Support, and Medical Groups. They make the mission happen."

The Airmen of the 23rd BS will continue to push themselves to seek continual improvement, said Parker. The wing's tempo provides a steady pace of opportunities and challenges throughout the year.

"We must improve our readiness at every turn," said Parker. "We owe it to our nation, our service, and our wing to be a more capable unit than we were last year. I salute the men and women of the 23d Bomb Squadron for their enduring focus on the mission and thank Team Minot for enabling our unit's success."

The award is given in remembrance of Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker who received the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous leadership above and beyond the call of duty involving personal valor and intrepidity at an extreme hazard to life," according to his citation. As commander of the 5th Bomber Command in 1942-1943, Walker repeatedly accompanied his units on bombing missions deep into enemy-held territory.

On Jan. 5, 1943, in the face of extremely heavy antiaircraft fire and determined opposition by enemy fighters, he led an effective daylight bombing attack against shipping in the harbor at Rabaul, New Britain, which resulted in direct hits on nine enemy vessels, according to his citation. During this action his airplane was disabled and forced down by the attack of an overwhelming number of enemy fighters.

5th Operations Support Squadron: The Ironmen
The 2013 Major Charles J. Loring Jr. Memorial Award was presented to the 5th OSS due to their distinction as the only OSS in the U.S. Air Force to support two legs of the nuclear triad across two separate wings. The squadron supported three combatant commanders in three areas of responsibility, passed two nuclear inspections, a combined unit inspection and a cyber communications readiness inspection with "Excellent" and "Outstanding" ratings. Finally the squadron supported 37 exercises and provided support to 56 units at Minot AFB.

Three OSS teams competed for the award. They include a team at Whiteman AFB, Mo., Barksdale AFB, La., and Minot. The 2nd Operations Support Squadron at Barksdale has won every year since it was first awarded. This is the first time Minot received the trophy.

"It is truly an honor to receive an award named after an American hero and courageous Airman," said Lt. Col. David Gordon, 5th OSS commander.

He went on to say that he has been extremely proud of the incredible work and sacrifice the OSS makes in getting the mission accomplished at Minot.

"No other OSS supports the multiple missions and wings like our OSS supports," said Gordon. "We excel in our support of these missions despite the manning and environmental challenges. I have known that we have the best bomber OSS in AFGSC, but it is nice to have AFGSC recognize it as well."

Moving forward the 5th OSS's focus is not on the award, but on the OSS mission to provide full-spectrum operational support to enable to the nuclear and conventional mission of the 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing, said Gordon.

He continued that the ironmen of the OSS are unrivaled in their efforts to support these missions and will continue to provide world-class support to the B-52s and ICBMs.

The Loring Memorial Award is given to the best overall bomber OSS and was named in memory of Medal of Honor winner Major Charles J. Loring, Jr.

On November 22, 1952, Loring was leading a four ship of F-80s over North Korea when he was called in by a ground controller to dive-bomb enemy gun positions that were harassing friendly ground troops. Disregarding intense and accurate ground fire, Loring aggressively pressed his attack until his aircraft was hit, according to his citation. Flying at approximately 4,000 feet, he then deliberately changed course and elected to sacrifice his life by diving his damaged aircraft directly into the enemy. His selfless and heroic action completely destroyed the enemy gun emplacement and eliminated a dangerous threat to United Nations ground forces.

"At the end of the day, our continued ability to ensure both the deterrence and firepower missions at Minot mean much more than a trophy," said Gordon.

Don't Stress - Decompress

by Senior Airman Kristoffer Kaubisch
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

4/29/2014 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- April is National Stress Awareness Month, and it's especially relevant to men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Minot has its charms, but it's not exactly a common fixture at the top of most Airmen's dream sheets. Due to its bitter cold winters, high operations tempo and dual mission in support of the 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing, Minot can prove to be a challenging assignment. Stress is a constant for military service - it's not a question of will you or won't you encounter it, but how you handle it when you do.

Minot, and other installations, offers a multitude of services aimed at making the stress of military life more manageable, such as the Family Advocacy Office, Military Family Life Consultant, and the military chaplains.

"Stress is recognized as the number one killer today," said Anne Owen, 5th Medical Operations Squadron, Family Advocacy. "The American Medical Association states that stress was the cause of 80-85 percent of all human illness and disease or at the very least had detrimental effect on health."

Stress can even trigger physical reactions like muscle tension, headaches and body pain, and even make an individual more susceptible to illnesses like colds, said Owen. Minot Airmen have enough to worry about already.

"Work stress can come home with you and fester in your family life, causing more stress," Owen explained. "Then you go back to work, stressed about the job and now family added to it and the cycle just keeps spinning out of control and potentially building into something serious."

Ways to reduce stress include exercise, meditation, or talking to supportive people - and there are services on base ready to help, Owen continued.

Owen says that the key isn't avoiding stress, it's managing it gracefully.

"Stress is ever present, and it affects our bodies and our minds," Owen said. "We feel stress when too many demands are placed on us, and we believe that we do not have adequate coping skills and resources to get through. What is stressful for one may be a welcomed challenge for another."

Not all stress is bad - sometimes a little pressure can motivate people to do their best, but everyone's different, and Minot leadership is very serious about making sure people get the help they need when they need it, Owen said.

Emotional reactions to stress buildup can include irritability, negative effects on sleep, isolation, and depression, said Owen. Extreme cases can even lead to suicidal thoughts, so the seriousness of stress' harmful potential can't be overstated.

The base chaplains offer assistance with not only spiritual guidance but also any predicament an Airman may have, including stress with the added benefit that their council is completely confidential.

Legacy airframe and modern technology CONECT

by Airman 1st Class Joseph Raatz
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

4/29/2014 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.  -- Air Force Global Strike Command took delivery of a significantly enhanced Boeing B-52H Stratofortress in a ceremony here, April 25.

The B-52H spent the previous 10 months at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. being refitted with the Combat Network Communications Technology, or CONECT, upgrade. This modification is designed to greatly improve the aircraft's utility in the modern battlespace and to keep the 50-year-old aircraft capable and lethal until at least 2040.

"The first CONECT B-52 we're about to receive is a major leap forward in advancing the BUFF on the battlefield," said Maj. Gen. Scott A. Vander Hamm, Eighth Air Force commander.

The CONECT upgrades provide the B-52H with digital display screens, computer network servers and real-time beyond line of sight communication links, allowing crews to stay connected to the world throughout their mission. A combined air and space operations center can now provide the aircraft with constant updated threat and targeting data, rather than the crew and mission being dependent solely upon information that was available at take-off.

"Over the past two decades we've seen rapid advancements in technology, and that has really changed way we operate on the battlefield, especially in the information environment," Vander Hamm said. "What hasn't changed is the need to advance our capabilities and integrate those technologies with information to provide out aircrew with the most up-to-date information and the ability to act on it."

The machine-to-machine interfacing introduced by CONECT also allows for rapid re-tasking and retargeting while eliminating potential human error, giving the B-52H the capability of conduct digitally-aided close-support missions in coordination with tactical air control parties on the ground. This ability to make precise changes in an instant is critical in the quicksilver world of modern combat.

"It's the integration of these and other CONECT aspects that are increasing the combat capability of this old, but very formidable, aircraft," Vander Hamm said.

Another facet of CONECT is the addition of networking devices to the aircraft to act as a digital framework, allowing for easier incorporation of new technologies in the future.

"Now when we add additional systems to the aircraft at some future date, we will be going from a digital component, across our new digital backbone, to another digital component elsewhere in the aircraft," said Alan Williams, Deputy Program Element Monitor at AFGSC. "In the future, it will make upgrades easier to do because we'll already have the digital infrastructure in the aircraft."

Because CONECT requires making such extensive modifications to the aircraft, the upgrades can only be performed during Periodic Depot Maintenance at Tinker AFB. All aircraft are scheduled for PDM on four-year cycles.

Equipping a B-52H with CONECT requires nearly 7,000 man-hours to complete, or approximately nine months per aircraft. The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex at Tinker currently has the capacity to perform a maximum of 17 of these refits per year. All B-52H's are scheduled to complete the upgrade by 2020.

"The B-52 is here to stay," Vander Hamm said. "CONECT is keeping us current, relevant and credible in today's and tomorrow's fight."

'Culture of excellence' catapults Beale medical squadron to top in AFRC

by Dana Lineback
940th Wing Public Affairs

4/28/2014 - BEALE AFB, Calif. -- The 940th Aerospace Medicine Squadron has been named the Air Force Reserve Command's 2013 Outstanding Ground Medical Unit with a Physical Exam Package.

"It's a long title, but simply put, we were selected as the top unit of all medical squadrons in the command who do our type of mission - and that's the majority of Reserve medical squadrons," said Master Sgt. Amy Stultz, the unit's acting superintendent.

Stultz said the recognition is a result of putting the right people in the right places to motivate airmen and hold members to high standards.

"Over the last few years, there's been an emphasis on a culture of excellence. Our people are striving to be the best here," said Stultz. "No one's ruling with an iron fist. Instead, we've focused on inspiring to greatness, and it's been effective."

Tech. Sgt. Jenna Gasper, an Air Reserve Technician with the unit, spearheads the physical examination and standards section at the squadron.

"This award was a surprise to us and amazing to receive. All of our technicians have worked so hard, creating program effectiveness and enforcing medical standards," said Gasper.

The wing's individual medical readiness percentages are currently at their highest, and the deployment process was "flawless" during a recent unit inspection, according to Gasper.

"And we still find time to smile during physical exams," she said.

"This award shows that someone noticed all our hard work, and it feels wonderful to be appreciated. We're very proud to bring this recognition to the 940th Wing."

Team Seymour stands down during Sexual Assault Awareness Month

by Airman 1st Class Aaron J. Jenne
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

4/29/2014 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C.  -- The 4th Fighter Wing held the first of its two Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program (SAPR) Stand-down days this year, April 25, during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which is observed annually in April.

SAPR Stand-down day, an Air Force wide initiative, focuses on preventing sexual assaults, identifying and ensuring victims receive the help they need, said Bernadine Roy, 4th Fighter Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator's assistant.

The event was organized around three major elements: a commander's call, small group discussions and a team building activity.

Members pledged with their signature to combat sexual assault before beginning a 2-mile walk. Team Seymour victims of sexual assault were positioned along the trail, making the issue more personal and real.

"Events like this are important because education is the key to prevention," said Devin Powner, 4th Contracting Squadron contracting specialist. "The negative effects of sexual assault are wide-ranging and severe, and we can't afford to make room for this kind of appalling behavior in our AF."

The SAPR Stand-down Day was one of six events held during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

"We coordinated multiple events to reach as many people as possible," Roy said. "We have the great responsibility of getting this information to the base. Sometimes people are more receptive to the information when they are having fun, so we're always thinking of new ways to reach Airmen and their families."

Volunteers distributed items at the installation gates, Roy said, all with SARC contact information printed on them.

Additionally, more than 200 participants gathered for a SAPR Awareness 5K race and more than 62 golfers and 17 teams played in a golf tournament supporting the month.

The base theater also had two showings of "The Invisible War," an investigative documentary about sexual assault within the military. The movie followed several young servicemen and women and their personal journeys, said Roy.

"I want to personally thank each of the volunteers who were crucial to the success of the multiple events during Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the SAPR Stand-down Day," Roy said. "We couldn't have done it without them."

For more information about the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, contact the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator office at (919) 722-SARC.

Holocaust, Nazi Germany survivor shares life story

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

4/29/2014 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Members of Team Seymour and the local community filled Heritage Hall to pay tribute and recognize Holocaust Remembrance Day during an event on base, April 28, which featured a Holocaust survivor who shared his journey from oppression to freedom. The event also had a museum arrangement displaying important documents, photos and pieces of literature central to the Holocaust experience.

Alfred Schnog talked about daily experiences living under a Nazi regime, his parents' resilience in protecting their family, and the uncertain train ride from Germany to Holland, which led to his family's eventual freedom.

"Growing up in that environment, I didn't know anything else," he said. "We accepted what it was. As children, we wanted to take part in the things going on--things we were excluded from. There was nothing different about growing up in Germany that there was about growing up in America, except for the hate from many of the German people."

Schnog described how as a child his family was standing in a small town square; one side of the railroad was Holland, the other side was Germany. They were on the verge of crossing the border to their new home in Amsterdam when they were stopped to undergo a Nazi customs inspection.

"There were two Nazis in uniforms," Schnog explained. "They looked at our father and said, 'You and your wife can go, but your children, we are going to take them to a camp nearby, and when you come back you can collect them.' When my identical twin-brother and I heard that, we were upset. We started to cry and scream, 'No, we don't want to go. We want to be with our parents.' We yelled it out loud and made quite a commotion. So my mother pulled out a paring knife and looked those two in the eyes and said, 'Our children are coming with us, and if you attempt to stop us, I'm going to cut their throats right here and then I will cut mine.'"

Schnog said he didn't think for a moment that she would actually carry out her threat. He said he was more concerned about being separated from his parents.

"The Nazis took a minute to think and then said, 'Take your brats and get out of here.' I would like to think it was my mother who saved us that day," Schnog said. "If not for her, we would have wound up somewhere dead in Germany."

But Schnog and his family found their way to Amsterdam, where they enrolled in school and learned the Dutch language.

One day the family received a fortuitous telephone call from the American consulate. The console official told Schnog's family they would be given a visa to travel to the U.S.

"We had won the lottery, and that lottery was worth more to me as I look back than any other I could've won, even for a billion dollars. There's nothing that can compare to coming to the United States," Schnog said. "It was so important to us at that time. And today, I appreciate it more than ever."

Schnog added how important it is to get his story out to people around the world.

"It's out of gratitude and remembrance for the family I've lost in Germany in those concentration camps," said Schnog. "Giving them the honor of telling their story and having it heard here in America is very important. It enables me to give back so that we don't forget the things that have happened in the past."

Master Sgt. Jennifer Walton, 4th Fighter Wing equal opportunity NCO in-charge and event coordinator, said the event is intended to remember both the victims and survivors of the Holocaust.

"It is important we glean from the tragedies to never repeat them again. Today we remember not only the sacrifices, but also the victories, resilience and strength of the Jewish community," Walton said.

Members in the audience said it was quite an experience to hear first-hand the horrors Schnog and his family faced living in Germany during that time.

"[This was] an extraordinary event," said Roy Heidicker, 4th Fighter Wing historian. "To actually hear the personal story of a child and his experiences are amazing. It really brings it home and makes us appreciate how horrible the Holocaust was."

Schnog said that members of his family, together with many Jewish people were transported to concentration camps where they lost their lives.

"I was one of the really fortunate ones," Schnog said. "To be able to get out of Germany and escape by the skin of my teeth, just as the doors closed behind me. And I am forever grateful for that."

Hagel Steps Up Consultations With Eastern European Allies

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has stepped up his consultations with Eastern European NATO allies in light of Russia’s activities along its border with Ukraine, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.

Hagel met at the Pentagon today with Estonian Defense Minister Sven Mikser, and this afternoon he will meet with Czech Defense Minister Martin Stropnicky.

The Estonian leader “thanked the secretary for the United States response for events in Ukraine, to include strengthening the NATO Baltic Air Policing rotation and sending soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team to Estonia for bilateral training and exercises,” Kirby said during a news conference.

Hagel told Mikser that the United States will look for other ways to maintain a U.S. presence in the region. The two men spoke about two upcoming exercises – BaltOps and Exercise Saber Strike – as possible vehicles to demonstrate the alliance commitment to the region. Both exercises will have about a dozen NATO nations participating, Kirby said.

The United States has sent jets to Poland, and to the Baltic Air Policing effort. It has also sent company sized units to Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to exercise with those nations in what defense officials have called a direct response to Russia’s intervention in neighboring Ukraine. Hagel is committed the defense of NATO allies and has also directed U.S. European Command Commander Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove to consult with allies to update defense plans as the security situation in Europe evolves.

“What we’re looking at trying to do is ways in which we can make these preset exercises more robust, using additional assets that are already in Europe, perhaps more aircraft, maybe more ships,” Kirby said. “No decisions have been made yet, but the secretary expressed to the Estonian minister this morning that he’s interested in ways we can make those two exercises more robust than they already are. And they're already pretty good-sized NATO exercises.”

Kirby said the U.S. military will provide a robust rotational presence in the region through the end of 2014 but no final decisions have been made on what that’s going to look like.

Kirby shed more light on Hagel’s phone call with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu yesterday. The 45-minute conversation was described as substantive and the Russian leader said twice that Russian forces would not cross the border into Ukraine.

“Both men had an opportunity to present their views and perspectives and to listen to one another,” Kirby said. “And though it was at times terse, it was never uncivil between the two of them. And both agreed at the end of the call to continue to have those discussions.”

Hagel was very clear with the Russian defense minister that the United States wants a better understanding of Russian intentions and Russian force levels along the border. “The force levels, as they are, are not doing anything to reduce tension in Ukraine -- in fact, quite the opposite -- because they have been there for so long and in such great number that it’s simply making things more tense,” Kirby said.

“Our expectation is that their actions are going to meet their words and their promises,” he added. To date, there has been no indication that large numbers of Russian troops have stepped away from the border, Kirby told reporters.

The admiral also addressed “irregular elements” inside Ukraine fomenting violence. “That’s one of the issues that Secretary Hagel raised with Minister Shoigu yesterday,” he said. “It’s an influence we'd like to see stop.”

These forces are clearly military trained personnel, the admiral said, but Russian leaders say they are not. “I think it’s safe to say that Minister Shoigu held a different view about who those individuals are and who they’re working for,” Kirby said. “But, look, I mean, I grew up in Florida. If it looks like an alligator, it’s an alligator.”