Military News

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Major accident response exercise prepares Fairchild for SkyFest

by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


4/30/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Fairchild Airmen practiced emergency response procedures during a major accident response exercise preparing the base for the upcoming SkyFest open house and air show here April 22 to 24.

There isn't any expectation for an accident to occur, but practicing for various emergency scenarios allows those response agencies the opportunity to be ready, to mitigate potential issues and, in the rare event something does occur, to save lives.

"This was an awesome opportunity for our emergency responders to practice for the real deal," said Lt. Col. Jason Campbell, the 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron commander.

The installation's emergency responders worked alongside partnering agencies from around the community to ensure seamless operations, especially during a crisis.

"We set a new benchmark for Fairchild," Campbell said. "Our partnerships with downtown emergency responders are as strong as ever and with the lessons we've learned from this MARE, we're ready for the air show."

Fairchild emergency responders worked hand-in-hand with nine off-base agencies as part of the Spokane County Incident Management Team. This Type III response team includes various agencies, such as fire, medical and law enforcement from various organizations and jurisdictions within a state or region, activated to support incidents that extend beyond one operational period. These agencies will be staged on base during the air show in order achieve maximum preparedness and response in coordination with Fairchild emergency response organizations.

"I suggested we ask the Spokane County IMT to shadow us in the emergency operations center and invited our mutual aid partners to help us with a combined response force ready to act," said Kimo Kuheana, the Fairchild Fire Emergency Services fire chief. "The IMT provides a vast liaison between Fairchild and Spokane County resources that would be needed in case of a major event. By having them already in place along with our security forces, medical personnel and mutual aid forces puts Fairchild in a best case scenario for a quick response."

Kuheana said the MARE served as a great opportunity to see how the installation's emergency responders with nine mutual aid agencies would work together in a mass casualty event.

"I have never seen that many outside agencies working together so flawlessly, and especially for an exercise," Kuheana marveled. "The Wing Inspection Team did a fantastic job putting it together and evaluating the entire exercise."

With more than 100,000 spectators expected to attend this year's air show, exercises like these are specifically designed to test the base's response to disaster.

"Our main focus is to safely respond and mitigate the emergency," explained Kuheana. "I can't stress how important running exercises like these are as it gives us an opportunity to see how each agency works, ensuring operations run smoothly. It really makes a difference in how we respond for a real event."

Kuheana said MAREs, table top exercises and weekly meetings among all emergency responders and other event players is the best preparation for any air show.

"I just recently became fire chief and had a few goals I wanted to accomplish during my tenure, figuring they would take a few years to accomplish," Kuheana continued. "One of them was to bridge the gap between our department and all of our off-base departments with particular focus on communication, training and joint response, so that together we can make this a safer place for all our citizens in the Inland Northwest. Due to the air show preparations, we have met these goals much faster than planned!"

While there are many players in making sure SkyFest 2014 is a success, Kuheana said knowing his team is prepared to answer the call will make SkyFest that much more safe and fun for all involved.

"I have told many responders over the past few weeks that we are to be mentally and operationally ready to respond to all scenarios," he said. "It is hard to put into words what emergency responders provide until it's a bad day -- then people understand what we do and why we are here."

As is every emergency responders wish, Kuheana said he hopes nothing happens and everyone can sit back and enjoy SkyFest.

"But if something does happen, know that your Community Emergency Response Force is capable and ready," he said assuredly.

British 1st Battalion Scots Guards Band Performs at Pentagon



By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2014 – The British army’s 1st Battalion Scots Guards band performed at the Pentagon today, nearly a week after five British soldiers died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, and on the first day of National Military Appreciation Month in the United States.

Between performances, James J. Townsend Jr., deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy, and British Army Brigadier Douglas M. Chalmers, liaison officer for the chief of the British defense staff, delivered remarks to an enthusiastic Pentagon audience.

“We have bled together not just in Afghanistan and Iraq, but over history in many places, in Europe in World War I and in World War II,” Townsend told Chalmers and the Guardsmen.

“Having you here today is especially important to us,” he added, “as once again in Europe, in the Baltics and other places, we're together again facing down activities happening in Crimea and the Ukraine that go against our values, and it's great to have you alongside us.”

The band is made up of 12 bagpipers, 10 drummers and two dancers and is led by a pipe major. But for the benefit of the American audience, Townsend said, the band members do more than play the drums or bagpipes.

“You are the oldest infantry battalion in the U.K., and you also have skills in terms of engineering and in terms of all aspects of combined arms that you display on the battlefield,” he said, adding, “So while we enjoy your musicianship here, we know being good Scots Guards you enjoy a scrap.”

As Chalmers addressed the audience, he said he and the Scots Guards were happy to be at the Pentagon to show their appreciation for the defense and security partnership the United Kingdom shares with the United States.

“That partnership is deep, it is advanced and it sits on a bedrock of shared values and beliefs,” he said, adding that over the years “events have more often than not seen us serve alongside each other in foreign fields as a result of that partnership.”

“That fact is vividly brought to life to me today by the Guardsmen … and the pipes and drums, who are infantrymen first,” he added. “Most of them served alongside U.S. Marines in Helmand toward the end of 2012 and into 2013.”

The Scots Guards formed in 1642 as the Royal Guard to King James I, Chalmers said, and he encouraged all to reflect on the long history of military cooperation that has and will continue to be the driving force behind the U.S.-United Kingdom strategic defense relationship.

“I think our common language, our geography and very much our shared interwoven history, for all its ups and downs over time, has been one of genuine trust and honesty,” Chalmers said. “It's not politically correct. It’s is a genuine relationship that has stood the test of time, and it’s been proven.”

Over the past 10 years, U.S. and U.K. service members have worked hand in glove at every level, building up personal relationships between soldiers and Marines on the U.S. side and on the British side, the brigadier added.

When British soldiers fought in Afghanistan’s Helmand province alongside their U.S. Marine Corps colleagues, he said, “it created a very strong bond, a brothers-in-arms type of affair, that is really special. And unfortunately, the future looks like it's going to continue keeping that relationship in place.”

Townsend explained that crises come at the world fast, and the velocity seems to be increasing. “It's tough to face these kinds of crises as the United States by ourselves,” he said. “We have the NATO alliance, we have many bilateral relationships around the world, many allies globally, but we depend on the U.K. in so many different ways.”

The United States depends on the United Kingdom “not just to be with us in a scrap somewhere or to handle a crisis, but around the negotiating tables or the planning tables or around the tables where we try to think about the future or about what kind of capabilities we should have or what we can do jointly,” the deputy assistant secretary observed.

“We depend on our relationship with the U.K. to help us face these things as they come at us,” he added, “so in a lot of ways the U.K. is first among equals when it comes to dealing with the international crisis of the day. And I cannot tell you how important that is and how much we depend on it. They’ve always been there for us, no matter how tough the scrap.”

Hagel Praises Montenegro for Defense Modernization, Reform



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today praised Defense Minister Milica Pejanovic-Djurisic for the significant progress Montenegro has made in modernizing and reforming its defense sector.

In a statement summarizing the meeting at the Pentagon between the two defense leaders, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said Hagel also encouraged continued efforts as Montenegro pursues membership in NATO.

“Secretary Hagel also expressed gratitude for Montenegro's contributions to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan,” the admiral said. “The meeting also provided the opportunity to discuss Russia's intervention in Ukraine and impact on Southeast Europe.”

Hagel: Numbers Reflect Victim Confidence in Reporting Assaults



By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2014 – A 50-percent increase in sexual assaults in the armed forces reflected in the Defense Department’s latest annual report indicates growing willingness among victims to report the crime and increasing confidence the military is providing them with support and taking action against perpetrators, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today.

The latest report -- which covers the period from Oct. 1, 2012, through Sept. 30, 2013 -- says there were 5,061 reports of sexual assault in the Defense Department, a 50-percent jump from the previous year. More than 70 percent of all cases in which the military had jurisdiction resulted in criminal charges, officials said.

“We have a long way to go before we get close to solving this problem,” Hagel said at a Pentagon news conference today where the report’s findings were announced, linking the sharp increase in reports of the crime to steps the military has taken to encourage reporting by victims and prosecution of offenders.

“We believe victims are growing more confident in our system,” the secretary said. “Because these crimes are underreported, we took steps to increase reporting, and that’s what we’re seeing.”

But Hagel said the nearly two dozen directives he has issued over the past year intended to reduce sexual assaults within the military -- including ensuring an appropriate command climate and improving victim support -- have not been enough. “We must do more,” he said, and he announced six additional directives.

“They include a departmentwide review of institutional alcohol policies, which will be revised where necessary to address risks that alcohol poses to others. … They also require new methods to better encourage male victims to report assaults and seek assistance,” he said, noting that DOD officials believe sexual assaults against men constitute half of all cases.

Of the assaults included in the report released today, just under 1,300 cases were not investigated for various reasons, including at the victim’s request or because the cases lacked sufficient evidence to support a charge or occurred outside the military’s jurisdiction.

“When commanders took disciplinary action on sexual assault offenses, they moved to court-martial a record 71 percent of alleged perpetrators,” Hagel said. “These results indicated that our investments in training investigators and attorneys are continuing to make a difference in holding offenders accountable.”

Noting that sexual assaults often are underreported, DOD officials stressed that the findings of this 10th annual congressionally mandated report are evidence not of an increase in actual crimes, but rather of a growing level of confidence among service members to come forward.

The military estimated in 2006 that only 7 percent of those who experienced sexual assault reported it, while more recent reports have put that figure as high as 14 percent.

Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Snow, director of the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, described the 50-percent increase in reporting as representing “a courageous choice” by victims to come forward.

“They’re doing so in unprecedented numbers,” he told reporters at the same news conference. “It does not mean we’re satisfied,” he added, but he pointed to progress in adjudicating such cases.

“The system of military justice that we have in place today is significantly different from the one that existed as recently as two years ago,” the general continued. “Commanders are taking allegations of sexual assault very seriously and holding offenders appropriately accountable.”

Ultimately, military officials want to make the Defense Department “the last place a military offender wants to be,” Snow emphasized, adding that victims should know the department is doing everything it can to provide support and eliminate the threat.

“To the offenders: We don’t care who you are or what rank you hold. If you don’t understand our core values and are not prepared to live by and enforce those values every day, then we don’t want you in our military,” Snow concluded.

Peterson AFB C-21 unit inactivates May 2

375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

4/30/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The 311th Airlift Squadron from Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, will mark its inactivation in a small ceremony May 2 here in Hangar 1.

The 311th AS was a geographically separated unit of the 375th Air Mobility Wing, having stood up with the wing in 2005. Before that the unit had its origins beginning in 1975 and went through a number of designations and various number of C-21 aircraft, before having just two assigned as part of the 375th Operations Group.

According to its commander, Lt. Col. Mark Keener, the Air Force approved consolidating the C-21 fleet last year, and as such the two C-21s will be returned to the Air Force for disposition yet to be finalized. The nine pilots who were assigned to the unit have other assignments designated or pending.

"The 311th Airlift Squadron maintained a proud tradition of excellence and continued to uphold the highest standards of professionalism set by past Airmen," said Keener. "At any given time our unit was deployed providing valuable theater airlift in Southwest Asia, supporting war-fighting efforts in Operations New Dawn, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom as well as Combined Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa. We have provided world-class operational airlift support to our nation's highest ranking civilians as well as senior military leaders to include Combatant Commanders and the Commander, Air Force Space Command. Additionally, we have supported countless NORAD/NORTHCOM exercises designed to hone effectiveness and strengthen our nation's airspace defense network."

These are just a couple of examples showing the unparalleled success and extraordinary performance that has become synonymous with the 311th Airlift Squadron.

Scott AFB hosting two historic changes of command

375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

4/30/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Two commands here will usher in new leaders in historic changes of command to be held at the parade field May 5.

At 10 a.m., Gen. Darren W. McDew, former 18th Air Force commander, will assume command of Air Mobility Command. He takes command from Gen. Paul J. Selva who will assume command of U.S. Transportation Command in a ceremony at 1 p.m. Current USTRANSCOM commander, Gen. William M. Fraser III, is retiring after 40 years of service.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III will preside at AMC's change of command. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will preside at USTRANSCOM's afternoon ceremony, and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will also be part of the program.

AMC, headquartered at Scott AFB, is an Air Force major command and the air component of USTRANSCOM. AMC provides worldwide cargo and passenger delivery, air refueling and aeromedical evacuation. More than 133,700 active-duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command and Department of Defense civilians make the command's rapid global mobility operations possible.

USTRANSCOM, one of nine combatant commands, provides air, land and sea transportation, terminal management and aerial refueling to support the global deployment, employment, sustainment and redeployment of U.S. forces. Along with AMC, the following commands are subordinate to USTRANSCOM: Army's Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, the Navy's Military Sealift Command, and the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command.

Maj. Gen. Barbara Faulkenberry, who is currently the vice commander at 18th Air Force, will serve as 18th AF commander. The mission of the 18th AF is the tasking and executing of all air mobility missions. Units reporting to 18th AF include 11 airlift, air mobility and air refueling wings, one airlift group and the 618th Air and Space Operations Center. There is one contingency response wing, and two air mobility operations wings in Germany and Hawaii.

Face of Defense: Airman Catches Milestone Homer, Returns It



By Air Force Senior Airman Zachary Vucic
Air Force News Service

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2014 – Even before he took his seat at Nationals Park here April 22, Air Force Staff Sgt. Thomas Sherrill said, he fantasized about what he would do if he somehow caught the milestone home run ball off the bat of slugger Albert Pujols.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim first baseman began the game against the Washington Nationals two home runs shy of 500 in his Major League Baseball career. He struck for home run 499 in the top of the first inning. Anticipating Pujols’ next time at bat and seated in foul territory, Sherrill said, he and a friend spotted an opportunity to sit on the fair side of the foul pole, creating an outside chance of being in the area where the potential home run might land.

With Pujols down in the count with one ball and two strikes, Sherrill said, he started to feel that it just wasn’t in the cards that night. The next pitch was a sinker that Pujols took deep to left-center field.

“I could tell where it was going,” Sherrill said. “It was well above me, so I just jumped out of my chair and started running up the stairs.”

Sherrill said he looked up to see another man running down the steps – the race was on.

“I knew it was going to him. … I gave up on the ball at that point,” he said. “But it bounced off him, and I was able to grab it off the hop.”

He said he looked down at the ball in his hands, and all at once he realized he had just caught Pujols’ 500th home run. At this point, the decision literally was in his hands: Give the ball back to Pujols, or keep the high-value souvenir for himself.

“Even before that day, … I had already decided if I somehow caught it, I would give it back,” Sherrill said. “It just seemed like the right thing to do. When I actually had the ball in my hand, nothing changed. I still felt the same way.

“It’s his milestone. It’s his ball,” he continued. “Who am I to try to sell it back to him?”

As Chris Gordon, the man who missed his chance at catching the home run, shook Sherrill’s hand and congratulated him, Sherrill said, he felt compelled to offer a consolation prize, and arranged for Gordon and his children to accompany him to meet Pujols.

“I felt really bad for him,” he said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it just slipped through his fingers.”

As security escorted him through the stadium and beyond the restricted areas, Sherrill said, fans made it known what they thought he should do with the baseball.

“People were screaming at me as I was walking away, telling me to sell it [and] how much [Pujols] makes a year. … People made sure I knew that it was valuable,” he said.

But through it all, he said, the decision he made while entertaining his fantasy of catching the ball was never in jeopardy. Minutes after catching the ball and already under scrutiny, his integrity was unwavering.

The entire experience was unforgettable, he said, adding that he feels a sense of satisfaction in giving the ball back to its rightful owner. Pujols himself has said Sherrill was “very honest to give it back,” and that he appreciates it.

VMTS Enables NFOs' Seamless Transition



From Naval Air Training Command

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (NNS) -- When Vice Adm. David Buss, the Navy's "air boss," spoke at the Chief of Naval Air Training change of command ceremony in September, he talked about the importance of "transferability of training" from the training environment to the fleet.

"The skills we provide our student Naval Aviators and NFOs (naval flight officers) should be directly applicable to those skills they'll need in the fleet," Buss said. "It doesn't help to train someone to be successful in the training environment only to have the equipment, systems and processes they've learned be completely different from those used in the fleet."

One new way the Naval Air Training Command is accomplishing this is the Virtual Mission Training System (VMTS) recently implemented at Training Air Wing 6 aboard Naval Air Station Pensacola.

The mission of Training Air Wing 6 is to produce the highest quality NFOs and international military flight officers in the world through a well-rounded curriculum of academics, simulator training and flight time. Training Squadron (VT) 86 is one of three squadrons in the wing, and they provide the advanced level of training for student NFOs to develop the skills they will need in the fleet.

Those skills include navigation, operating radar systems and communications. In the past, in order to teach these skills, the wing would require additional aircraft to serve as "red," or enemy aircraft. This advanced training required the additional expenditure of fuel, required maintenance and a corresponding reduction in the aircraft service life. In some cases, the training was simply not feasible to execute in the training command, so the students waited until they flew in the more expensive F/A-18 platform to learn the skills.

But all this is changing with VMTS. The system is embedded in the T-45 aircraft and contains a processor and a data link. The processor works with the aircraft navigation system to provide a virtual radar presentation that corresponds to where the aircraft is actually flying. Through the data link, an instructor NFO at an Instructor Ground Station is able to monitor the student's performance in the aircraft real-time and can control the scenario, inserting surface-to-air and air-to-air threats into the virtual situation.

The surface-to-air threats and enemy aircraft a student experiences via the radar display are virtual only, but the heavy communication environment, weather and G-loading they feel are completely real.

The VMTS syllabus is a significant update as well. It has been modeled on the Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) syllabi to develop the exact skill sets required by 21st century NFOs. The students train on radar systems similar to those they will operate in the fleet - in fact the radar hand controller is based on the one used in the F/A-18F Super Hornet.

After the students land, VMTS continues to improve the training through its detailed debriefing system. The system records the radar display as well as all of the flight performance characteristics, radio, and integrated communication systems. It then synchronizes between multiple aircraft and provides playback that allows for a detailed review of radar work, flight geometry, communications, and other fleet-relevant skills. The instructors now have the ability to gather the significant learning points from each flight, improving the quality of training by showing the students what they did well and what they need to improve.

The Navy's aircraft are improving and adding more capabilities, but they require better-trained aircrews to make full use of these capabilities. The VMTS system and syllabus is a revolutionary advancement in training that will ensure NFOs have the skills to operate these aircraft and prepare them for the challenges they will face in the 21st century.