Thursday, May 08, 2014

Michigan Guard Soldiers Arrive in Latvia

By Angela Simpson
Joint Force Headquarters, Michigan National Guard

GRAYLING, Mich., May 8, 2014 – A 30-member Michigan Army National Guard Unmanned Aircraft System platoon arrived in Riga, Latvia, yesterday.

The platoon, which is led by Capt. Adam Wurth, is scheduled to be deployed for two months practicing UAS operations throughout Latvia in conjunction with Latvian army counterparts.

After training for the mission, the unit, part of the Michigan National Guard's 126th Cavalry Regiment located near Grand Rapids, packed gear, food, clothing and supplies, and headed out. With stops in Canada and Iceland, the platoon traveled in two C-130 aircraft, compliments of the Minnesota and North Carolina Air National Guard.

Latvian army Sgt. Yuri Putnich greeted the platoon in Latvian by saying, “Laipni Ludzam!” which means “Welcome to Latvia.”

Michigan National Guard State Plans and Operations Deputy Lt. Col. Ryan Connelly and Sgt. 1st Class Richard Ochoa were among the first to shake hands with Latvian army representatives.

“We are looking forward to training with the Latvian army and establishing a working relationship in the field of unmanned aerial systems,” Ochoa said when boarding a C-130 before it departed the United States for the trip.

“I continue to be amazed by the abilities of Michigan National Guard soldiers and airmen,” said Maj. Gen. Gregory J. Vadnais, adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “In little more than a month, these men trained up for the mission and made arrangements for jobs and other responsibilities at home. I am also impressed by the flexibility Michigan employers give to their soldier and airmen workers and am floored by the support that wives and family members give, and the sacrifices they make, to support such short-notice mobilization.

“The soldiers, airmen, employers, family, friends and community networks all contribute to the success of Michigan National Guard missions,” Vadnais added.

The Michigan National Guard and Latvian military forces have formed a family-like bond over the past 22 years of partnering through the National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program. The program encourages sharing information, equipment and strategic skills between U.S. National Guard forces and each state’s respective partnership country.

Latvian leaders, soldiers and airmen visit and train in Michigan as active, committed participants of the partnership.

French village memorializes US WWII aircrew

by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Wilson

5/8/2014 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- The people of Avord, France, dedicated a memorial May 8 honoring the crew of a U.S. B-17 Flying Fortress shot down during World War II.

The B-17, nicknamed the Georgia Rebel II, crashed at about 12:00 p.m. April 28, 1944, on a mission bombing a Nazi German-occupied airfield, Avord Air Base, located in the middle of France.

"For some of us it is very important to remember these young guys," said Frederic Henoff, event organizer. "Like me, when I go for the first time in the U.S., I don't know this big country and these young guys are from the middle of the U.S., some poor farmers' sons and they came for the first time over the ocean in another country and they were killed for us -- for freedom -- it's very important."

Seven of the crew members were killed during the raid and the three who survived became prisoners of war. Family members from three of the crew members attended the ceremony, including 2nd Lt. and navigator Arthur Guertin's sister, Marie Lukacs-Buchannan, and her daughter, Ann Lukacs.

"It is so humbling and we are so grateful for the French to actually be doing this ceremony," said Lukacs. "I mean, it means a lot that after 70 years they would even still remember and care enough to honor the seven of them that were killed in the plane."

During the war, Guertin's family received notification that he was missing in action shortly after the mission, in May 1944. The family was notified by telegram that he was confirmed as killed in action on New Year's Eve that year.

Lukacs said her mother, who is now 92, took the news especially hard because the two were extremely close siblings.

"He was the brother that always looked out for her and, you know, they had this special bond."

The news also came as a shock because the family had dealt with a similar situation during the war, which had a much different outcome.

"I think the thing that was deceiving for the family was that he had been MIA (missing in action) once before when he was in Sweden," said Lukacs. "He had just been reunited with his squadron after being in Sweden for eight months and a month later this mission happened."

The dedication ceremony included a church service, wreath-laying ceremonies, an exhibition on the 1944 bombardments, and dinner. The local community, French air force, and U.S. Air Force had representatives in attendance.

"I was extremely honored to represent the United States Air Force to the family and to see the emotional impact it had on them to have a U.S. representative," said Colonel Robert Huston, U.S. Air Force representative at the event. "It made it that much more special and reminded me just how much of an honor it is to represent our country and our Air Force when I get a chance."

Henoff expressed the importance of this ceremony and memorial for him and the Avord community.

"When you see the white crosses in the American cemetery, I have tears in my eyes," said Henoff. "When you look at the birth date, it's just young men. It's very important for us to remember these guys, not only for me, for many, many people in France."

The crew of the Georgia Rebel II consisted of:

1st Lt. Harold F. Henslin, pilot -- killed in action
Major Osce V. Jones, co-pilot -- survived, POW
2nd Lt. Arthur L. Guertin, navigator -- killed in action
1st Lt. Eugene Arning, bombardier -- killed in action
Tech. Sgt. Jo. R. Karr, engineer -- killed in action
Tech. Sgt. J. W. Padgett, radio operator -- survived, POW
Staff Sgt. George B. McLaughlin, ball turret gunner -- killed in action
Staff Sgt. Clarence T. Williams, right waist gunner -- killed in action
Sgt. William B. Blackmon, Jr., left waist gunner -- survived, POW
Staff Sgt. Edward H. Sell, tail gunner -- killed in action

Tacoma Airmen killed in Laos 44 years ago finally home

by Tech Sgt. Sean Tobin
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

5/7/2014 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- After having been missing for more than 44 years, the remains of Air Force Capt. Douglas D. Ferguson, who was killed when his F-4D Phantom aircraft was shot down over Laos in 1969, returned home May 1 in Lakewood, Washington.

Last year, members of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command excavated the Dec. 30, 1969 crash site in Laos and found remains and artifacts they believed were those of Ferguson, a Tacoma native and 1963 graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School.

Through DNA testing and a dental records match, JPAC officials were able to positively identify the remains as being Ferguson's, said the captain's sister, Sue Scott, who was notified of the DNA match last January.

"When I received word of the positive identification, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops," said Scott. "We've been working on this for more than 40 years."

Ferguson's remains arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Wash., May 1. McChord Field Honor Guard members met the casket at the airplane and ceremoniously transferred it to the awaiting hearse.

A procession of vehicles, including Ferguson's hearse, police vehicles from Joint Base Lewis-McChord as well as state and local agencies, family members, and Patriot Guard Riders, left the SeaTac airport and headed to the Mountain View Funeral Home in Lakewood.

From a freeway overpass along the route, firefighters from JBLM and Central Pierce County, shadowed by a large U.S. flag draping down from the extended ladders of their fire engines, saluted the procession as it passed below them.

"That's what makes me teary is that I feel like we are embraced by love," Scott later said, referring to the firefighters on the procession route.

The following day, 627th Air Base Group Chaplain (Maj.) John Shipman held a funeral service for Ferguson at the McChord Theater. Hundreds of family members, former classmates of Ferguson, and members of JBLM attended the service. Col. Anthony Davit, 627th ABG commander, provided opening remarks.

"While I know that Captain Ferguson's family has been waiting for his return for more than 44 years, I have been waiting for nearly 28," Davit told those in attendance, referring to his time as a cadet in college where he always wore a POW/MIA patch on his flight suit. "I would often think about all the sacrifices those that came before me had made, and in many cases, may still be making. These thoughts guided my growing desire to serve and uphold the legacy of the great men and women that came before me."

Scott reflected on all the people over the decades who have helped her brother return home, and those who came to show their support once he finally did come home.

"I am so grateful," said Scott. "This is the best of who we are as Americans."

Ferguson was buried with full military honors later that day at the funeral home in Lakewood, in a plot just a few feet from where his parents are buried.

"There have been ups and downs over the years for sure," said Scott. "But the process has allowed me to meet the people who honor our country, not just with their service, but those who continue to give and give. That's what blows me away."

Spokane awarded Air Mobility Command Abilene Trophy 2013

by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

5/7/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Fairchild Air Force Base has a continuous global mission that employs more than 5,700 personnel and supports 17,000 retirees; and the Inland Northwest community has proven to be the grassroots supporting Fairchild and Air Mobility Command.

The 2013 Abilene Trophy was awarded to Spokane, Washington, this week by AMC. This award is presented annually to the community in AMC that is most supportive of its local Air Force base.

"Team Fairchild celebrates the Abilene award for our All-American community. 2013 was arguably one of the more difficult years for the base since 1994 and the patriotic Spokane community was our closest wingman during every challenge," said Col. Brian Newberry, the 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander. "Their Lilac heart beats strong for our Airmen. We salute the Abilene Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs committee, specifically Ms. Kristina Jones and Mr. Gray Bridwell, for hosting an award that recognizes our red, white and blue communities that make us stronger. Congratulations Spokane and the Greater Spokane Incorporated!"

Spokane has neighbored Fairchild and its military units for more than 93 years. Many of the city's accolades last year gave proof that it is still, more than ever, proudly supporting its American Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Inland Northwest.

"I truly believe that our community's relationship with the Air Force represents the best in the nation. This award is an incredible honor for our citizens and a testament to their unwavering support of Fairchild and our local military families, whom we honor every year in May with the Lilac Festival and Parade," said Spokane Mayor David Condon. "We pride ourselves on that legacy and will continue to uphold the mission of Fairchild Air Force Base, the individuals who serve here, and their families."

Below are some of the attributes of why the Abilene Trophy was awarded to the city of Spokane:
· The Spokane Liliac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade continues to be the largest U.S. nighttime parade, which attracts more than 150,000 visitors saluting the military.
· Operation Spokane Heroes donated $5,000 in holiday gift cards to military families; in 2013, Treats-for-Troops donations tripled for Soldiers and Airmen overseas.
· Spokane Military Alliance was created to better funnel business support for military.
· The state of Washington employs more than 700 traditional Guardsmen, and a majority in the City of Spokane. Just in 2013, these employers have supported their Airmen who executed 227 deployments with a total of 17,408 days to serve around the world.

"This is truly a community honor and shows how fortunate we are to have Fairchild Air Force Base and its personnel part of our community," said Rich Hadley, President and CEO of Greater Spokane Incorporated.

These milestones will be honored and celebrated with a trophy to the City of Spokane at a later date and will be presented by the Abilene Community.

Please refer all questions to the 92nd ARW public affairs office at (509) 247-5705.

Team plans fire mitigation efforts

by Alethea Smock
21st Space Wing Public Affairs

5/6/2014 - CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. -- With the wildfire season starting, a team of wildland fire experts met here recently to discuss best practices for fighting fires in the arid west.

The team was comprised of top fire experts from agencies such as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Air Force, and local Department of Defense wildland fire experts from bases across the Front Range including Peterson AFB and Cheyenne Mountain AFS. They met for three days to develop practices and procedures to efficiently work together during a catastrophic fire.

The Colorado Front Range is a top priority for the Air Force to ensure comprehensive response during a potential incident such as the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires. Wildland fires are of large concern in a dry state such as Colorado and highlight the need for a comprehensive approach to preventing, mitigating and extinguishing burns. What is described initially as a small fire can quickly be pushed by the strong winds to become a major fire in a matter of hours -- making response times critical.

"The Air Force has recognized that fighting fires is an interagency effort that requires cooperation," said Kevin Hiers, the acting chief of the Wildland Fire Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. "There is a significant risk of fire along the Front Range and we are building processes to leverage expertise from all agencies to be in a better position to fight the next major fire."

"We need to take proactive steps in our approach to fire mitigation and be collaborative when we discuss how to mitigate the fuels that help fires grow," said Hiers.

Discussion centered on the lessons learned from the last major fires in Colorado Springs. Since fires don't recognize boundary lines, the team worked on ways to better collaborate during an incident to reduce the devastation of large burns. Diverse land ownership highlights the need for joint response to an incident and also fire mitigation efforts to help prevent an incident.

The Air Force installations in Colorado Springs are surrounded by local communities who share an interest in keeping fires contained. Cheyenne Mountain AFS shares a fence line with both a state park and a local homeowner's community.

The team at CMAFS is focused primarily at stopping a fire at the fence line. The team has computer-modeled potential fire paths and determined best practices to fight a fire given different wind, weather and terrain combinations. This has allowed them to prioritize mitigation efforts and plan resources.

The steep terrain of Cheyenne Mountain, coupled with the wildland-urban interface makes fighting a fire along the installation a challenge. Large fire trucks cannot maneuver into remote locations and wildland firefighters are typically not equipped to handle a structure fire. This makes the need for fire preventative programs even more valuable.

The installation has partnered with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Service to create a firebreak along their shared fence line. This is one of the several recommended steps to become fire-wise. Other steps include reducing the amount of available fuel to burn and removing lower tree branches so a fire will not ladder, or climb, trees.

"I am excited to have such an experienced team working here," said Steve Rose, 721st Mission Support Group deputy director." This has been a great week of collaboration in support of maintaining our mission, as well as protecting our installation and our community during a potential fire. With fires in Colorado, it's not an issue of if, it's a matter of when and preparation is key."

"Regional response to emergencies, such as wildland fires, is all about relationships. If you wait until a fire breaks out to build a relationship, it's too late. Working with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center's Wildland Fire Center now will pay great safety dividends for Cheyenne Mountain AFS, and all the bases on the Colorado Front Range," added Rose.

56th RQS trains to rescue in contested environments

by Staff Sgt. Emerson Nuñez
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/7/2014 - ROYAL AIR FORCE LEEMING, England -- "These things we do, that others may live." This phrase is always in the back of a rescue Airman's mind.

For them to be certain they're trained for the mission when the call comes, they train how they fight.

The 56th Rescue Squadron spent a week at Royal Air Force Leeming training to survive, deny and defeat radar threats, to accomplish the search-and-recovery mission.

"The nature of our job is to rescue people in any type of scenario," said 1st Lt. Ryan Martelly, 56th RQS pilot. "We have to be ready to fly into any scenario, bad weather, radar threats or other people shooting at us. I think it's crucial that we have training like this since we have to be ready for any situation that may occur."

This training is a rare but critical time to gain valuable experience outside of a computer simulation.

"Experience is the best teacher that we have," said Maj. Daran Gaus, 56th RQS chief of weapons and tactics. "So, when the timeline is compressed and the minutes matter, this is going to give our aircrew the tools that they need to be successful despite the adversary."

This training is not just for pilots; it also sharpens the expeditionary skills of the maintenance and support Airmen.

"None of this training happens in a vacuum," Gaus said. "Not only are the aircrew exercising their ability to go out and fight these threats, but the maintainers are also working on their ability to keep putting aircraft up from a geographically-separated location.

"Additionally, the entire squadron, and all the support functions that come along with it, come here, and they are really what makes this training happen for us," Gaus added.

This training is conducted annually with the help of RAFs Leeming and Spadeadam and receives positive feedback from its participants.

"I would say this is the most exciting and worthwhile training I've done with the HH-60 because it was so applicable, dynamic and such a rare opportunity," Martelly said.

SECAF gets firsthand look at JB Charleston mission

by Staff Sgt. William A. O'Brien
Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

5/8/2014 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Taking care of people, balancing the readiness of today with the readiness of tomorrow, and making every dollar count are the three top priorities of Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James.

"These three priorities underscore all the work I have ahead of me over the next three years," said James.

James shared her vision during a visit to Joint Base Charleston, May 7, 2014, where she and her spouse, Frank Beatty, received a firsthand look at the unique capabilities, key initiatives and attributes that make JB Charleston one of the nation's premier joint bases.

"Taking care of people is everything to me. In every job I've had over the last 30 years in the business of defense, I have become convinced that it always comes down to people. You need to make sure you have the right people in the right jobs and you take care of them appropriately and fairly."

With additional fiscal constraints on the horizon, James said fiscal responsibility is even more important than it has ever been.

"Money is precious and budgets are declining. As they say, flat is the new up. We're not going to see 'up' budgets in the foreseeable future. My crystal ball says at least the next 10-12 years we'll be lucky to be flat, and we may continue to go down some. So we need to make every dollar count."

James said with the decreasing budget and the decline in readiness, she and Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force Chief of Staff, have proposed allocating more money to programs to keep Airmen and equipment ready, operational and fully trained.

"The readiness of today has slipped and has been slipping for the past 15-20 years overall. One of the key judgments we made in the budget, which is now before the Congress, is that we need to pump up that readiness funding, so we put quite a bit of money into readiness," said James. "To be able to restore flying hours for example, to increase the money we're putting into maintenance and spare parts and other types of investments to help the equipment of today remain ready and help restore other sorts of training that have taken a hit."

James is the 23rd Secretary of the Air Force and is responsible for the affairs of the Department of the Air Force, including organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of its more than 690,000 active duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian Airmen and their families.

The SecAF's day began with a brief about Joint Base Charleston and its various mission sets, including the C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlift mission. Afterward, James and Beatty spent much of the day speaking with Airmen in their respective work centers as they toured the joint base, asking questions not just about their particular missions, but also focusing on quality of life issues affecting Airmen and their families. Some of the units visited were the 628th Medical Group, the Airman and Family Readiness Center and the Child Development Center. James also toured a C-17 Globemaster III, where she received briefings from pilots, loadmasters, "Port Dawgs," aeromedical units and 1st Combat Camera Squadron Airmen.

After a lunch with enlisted Airmen and Sailors at the base dining facility, James and Beatty visited the base dorms, where junior ranking enlisted members live when they first arrive in the Air Force.

James finished her tour with a base "all-call" at the Air Base theater where she discussed the budget, force shaping programs and quality of life issues.

"Thank you for what you do for the Air Force," James said. "As far as I'm concerned, Joint Base Charleston rocks. I spent my time today seeing the C-17's operational missions, and I also had the chance to explore some of the support functions here on base."

James opened the all-call by commending the Airmen for their accomplishments over the past year.

"I'm very impressed across the board here at Joint Base Charleston," said James. "You guys don't miss a beat. You certainly didn't miss a beat last year while facing many challenges. This is a hard-working crowd and not only are you working hard, you're delivering."

Since becoming the Secretary four months ago, James has divided her time between learning all the challenges impacting the Air Force and getting around to see the Airmen who make the mission happen.

"My favorite part of these last four months are days like today; getting out around our Air Force and meeting our Airmen directly and seeing them right on the front lines of their mission. In this brief time I've seen all five core missions in our Air Force in action."

After James had finished, Col. Jeffrey DeVore, 628th Air Base Wing commander, and Col. Darren Hartford, 437th Airlift Wing commander, thanked her for taking the time to visit JB Charleston and presented her with a core sampling from the newly paved runway, which is symbolic for Charleston because it ties the three wings and the local community togethe

Eye on the NAGA

by Airman 1st Class Lauren Pitts
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

5/6/2014 - MINOT, N.D.--  -- It has been said that the American dream has always been about the underdog and striving to achieve your goals no matter what. Rooting for the "little guy" is an inspiration to work and train hard enough to overcome all odds. Minot Air Force Base is home to a few of its own underdogs - a handful of Airmen who commit themselves as much off duty as on.

What began as a small gym for amateur wrestlers and Jiu Jitsu fighters in downtown Minot, N.D., made its way onto the map of the martial arts world through the training of the dedicated members and what they describe as a traditional mindset of Jiu Jitsu.

"Our instructor believes in Jiu Jitsu," said Senior Airman Joseph Rhoades, an electrician for Minot AFB's 5th Civil Engineer Squadron, who explained that the mentality of the whole team is respect for the sport. "He teaches us the background and the history of it, so we're not just in there to kill each other."

As the group continued to train, Senior Airman Darin Nieuwsma, a Fargo, N.D., native, and a response force leader with the 791st Missile Security Forces Squadron, told his team about a grappling tournament in Fargo at a facility he used to train at.

"Once I told the guys about it, that's when we got really focused," said Nieuwsma. "We were training hard because we had a goal."

Stepping onto the competition scene, the members of Minot's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu team seemed like an easy target. What their competition didn't know, was that their training focused on technique and execution over size and strength giving them an edge, said Senior Airman Andrew Magathan, 791st MSFS response force leader.

After forcing his first opponent to submit in a matter of seconds, Magathan and his team watched as shock blanketed the faces of their opponents in the arena.

"We were going up against high established schools with a lot of experience, but we did the best collectively," said Magathan. "We definitely put Minot on the map at that tournament."

With every member of their team bringing home at least bronze, the Minot Brazilian Jiu Jitsu team returned home with confidence, and an even bigger goal in mind.

The North American Grappling Association, the host of a competition held all around the country, is the next big test for Minot's underdogs. Heading to Minneapolis, Minn., next month, the team has no clue what they're in for but will continue to train none the less.

"That's what makes this team a threat," said Magathan. "It's our level of dedication - we're always helping each other get to the top."

Training seven days a week, members of the team have come to see each other as brothers, said Rhoades. Building themselves up individually, they in turn build each other up collectively.

"There's a saying in our gym, 'how can you make a friend without choking him out first,'" Rhoades explained. "It sounds strange, but it's true. We share a different kind of bond, and we do what we do for each other."

With their mind set on the upcoming NAGA, the team is more focused than ever, Rhoades said.

"Whether we are learning a new move or one we just haven't done in a while, we cover it over and over again, drilling, making it perfect and committing it to muscle memory," he explained. "In our gym, drillers make killers."

20th Air Force commander visits Malmstrom, hears FIP feedback from Airmen

by John Turner
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

5/7/2014 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont.  -- Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, 20th Air Force commander, visited Malmstrom Air Force Base last week as an opportunity to receive feedback from Airmen of the 341st Missile Wing about procedural and incentive changes suggested by the Force Improvement Program, and to speak frankly with them about his proposals for bolstering the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile mission.

"I wanted to sit down with Airmen in all disciplines to talk with them about what they thought about how we're taking their inputs from the FIP and how we're going to be implementing them pretty rapidly," Weinstein said. "I think it is going great and I've gotten really good feedback from it."

Weinstein toured several work centers and stayed overnight at a missile alert facility while here April 30 to May 2. He also met informally with small groups of junior enlisted Airmen and company grade officers from across the wing to hear their opinions on a wide spectrum of changes that are either being enacted or are under consideration by the commander. These suggestions include an immediate overhaul of training and evaluations for the missile combat crew force; an administrative streamlining of the Personnel Reliability Program; possible deployment credits and other incentives for all who serve in the missile field; special field uniforms for security forces that are better matched to the environment; and new tools and vehicles for maintenance teams.

In February, FIP teams visited each missile wing in Air Force Global Strike Command to conduct one-on-one interviews with Airmen. Following the analysis of more 1,800 survey responses and 835 interviews, more than 350 recommendations were briefed to AFGSC, 20th AF, Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. An immediate action prompted by FIP feedback has been the realignment of $19 million in the Air Force Fiscal 2014 budget to rejuvenate the ICBM mission. Nearly $3 million has already been received at Malmstrom for ICBM weapon systems parts and Launch Control Center refurbishments. An additional $1 million has been received for quality of life improvements.

"FIP has been a grassroots effort," Weinstein said. "This is talking to the Airmen who are actually doing the mission, finding out what their concerns are, and then going through the recommendations."

During the visit, Weinstein met with nearly a dozen missile combat crew officers for a crew force discussion. The meeting lasted approximately 90 minutes and covered changes in training and evaluation for missile operators including:
  • Missile combat crew commanders are going to be given formal training responsibilities for their deputies.
  • A standardized question bank, more formally known as an MQF (Master Question File) of up to 500 questions will be developed that represents the most important items crewmembers need to know.
  • Monthly testing is now documented only as pass or fail instead of recorded by score. In the future, all questions will come from the MQF instead of generated by the individual units.
  • All monthly training will be done in a single day.
  • There will be two Missile Procedures Trainer rides each month instead of one, but comprising the same number of hours. One of the training rides could be dedicated to what the MCC feels is needed for team proficiency.
  • Evaluations will be performed every 18 months instead of every 12, a cycle similar to how aircrews are evaluated. A complete evaluation would consist of an MPT ride, a field evaluation, and questions from the MQF.
  • An advanced ICBM course has been developed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, and will debut in June. In addition, an in-residence flight commander course is being developed at Malmstrom and an MCC course may soon follow. These courses would eventually be taught at the other 20th AF bases.
"Really, what we are doing is a foundational change to the way we operate the ICBM missiles," Weinstein said. "Nothing is going to change in our ability to be safe, secure and effective in operating nuclear weapons in our mission."

Similarly, changes to PRP will make it easier for members to be continuously available for duty. For example, a downtown medical appointment will no longer automatically take a member off of PRP. Airmen will now only be taken off of PRP only when they need to be, instead of simply to follow an administrative protocol.

Weinstein envisions an electronic data base for PRP notifications, and plans to test the system at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, in a joint evaluation between the 91st Missile Wing and the 5th Bomb Wing, both of which are AFGSC units.

A reevaluation of PRP could potentially lower the overall number of security forces personnel on PRP status, putting only those whose duties actually place them near nuclear weapons in the program. This would make it easier for the Air Force to rotate security forces personnel through the ICBM wings, which would ease manpower shortages at the northern tier bases and allow members assigned here to transfer out sooner.

Weinstein's small group discussions with Airmen throughout the visit revealed a wide array of incentives and changes he is considering as he charts the best way forward towards mending the nuclear enterprise. Among the items he discussed in these informal forums were:
  • All members who deploy to the missile field should receive a deployment credit. "It doesn't matter if you are sleeping in Afghanistan or in the missile field, you are away from home," Weinstein said. This credit will bolster members' careers because they would have deployment time banked when they move to their next assignments.
  • Medals should be awarded for ICBM duty.
  • Incentive pay for each day an individual is deployed to the missile field is being considered; however, Weinstein favors a balanced approach that is fair to everybody. This is a soft consideration right now because budget dollars are limited, and because other incentives might have a more positive net result.
  • Security forces deploying to the missile field may eventually receive the multicam pattern uniform that was developed by the Army. Weinstein endorses this uniform because it is better for the missile environment. It provides better camouflage than the Airman battle uniform, and as a layered clothing system it keeps wearers warm in subzero temperatures.
  • Maintenance personnel may see master team chief and other recognition patches restored to their uniforms. "They used to wear that but based on the ABU uniform we took it away," Weinstein said. "We're working with senior leadership to put that patch back. That is extremely important to people."
  • Similarly, a return to squadron patches on ABU uniforms and colored organizational caps is under consideration.
  • Weinstein wants to realign his helicopter squadrons to a helicopter group that would be commanded by a full colonel. He is aggressively pursuing this and hopes the new group will stand up by the end of July.
"The feedback I've been getting from the field has been awesome," Weinstein said. "We listen (to Airmen) and now we're implementing what they said. It doesn't get any better than that."

509th Bomb Wing receives Omaha Trophy

by Senior Airman Bryan Crane
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

5/2/2014 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The 509th Bomb Wing was awarded the 2013 Omaha Trophy in the Strategic Aircraft Operations category, April 28, 2014, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.

This is the second time Whiteman has one this award, the title was previously held in 2006.

The Omaha Trophy, sponsored by the Omaha's Strategic Command Consultation Committee, is awarded annually to four outstanding units that represent USSTRATCOM's mission areas, their role in global operations and USSTRATCOM's continued emphasis on strategic deterrence.

The four awards given are the Global Operations, Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, Submarine Ballistic Missile and Strategic Aircraft Operations trophies. Selections are based on formal evaluations, meritorious achievement, safety and factors such as community involvement and humanitarian actions.

The Omaha Trophy was first awarded in 1970 by the citizens of Omaha, Nebraska, through the Strategic Air Command Consultation Committee, to the most outstanding SAC wing in honor of the 25th anniversary of the SAC.

Over the years more categories have been added. In 1992 when SAC was deactivated and USSTRATCOM was activated, USSTRATCOM Consultation Committee went to two awards.

In 2003, two more categories where added.The award was dropped back to two categories for one year in 2007 and returned back to its current format of four categories in 2008.

Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, U.S. Strategic Command deputy commander, presented the award on behalf of Adm. Cecil Haney, U.S. Strategic Command commander, before addressing Team Whiteman's Airmen and praising their continuous mission success.

CNRC Visits New England and Welcomes Future Sailors at Fenway Park

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kim Smith

BOSTON, Mass. (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Annie B. Andrews, commander, Navy Recruiting Command (CNRC) received a warm welcome from the Sailors and staff of Navy Recruiting District (NRD) New England during her recent visit to Boston, May 2-3.

Andrews started her two-day engagement trip with a tour of district headquarters given by Cmdr. Andrew Plummer, commanding officer, NRD New England. "This was a great opportunity for Admiral Andrews to meet with and engage our Sailors on a wide variety of topics" said Plummer.

The overall "Big Picture" to include mission accomplishment, female accessions and the welfare of both military and civilians were some of the topics discussed during her visit.

But, before delving into those topics, she started the all hands call with a bit of nostalgia.

"It's taking me really way back, It was actually right here in the New England states where I had my first take on getting to know about recruiters and all about recruiting" said Andrews. She once served as the Officer in Charge (OIC) of the Boston Military Processing Station (MEPS).

"But this morning I just wanted to come and get the opportunity and chance to just meet and see you," Andrews said. She also made a point to thank everyone for the great work they've done to support Navy Recruiting Nation. "I couldn't be more pleased" said Andrews.

Day one ended at Fenway Park where Adm. Andrews had the opportunity to swear-in 20 future Sailors and all were formerly recognized in front of thousands of Red Sox fans during pre-game ceremonies.

The trip concluded on May 3 when Andrews' visited with Navy Reserve Sailors at NOSC Quincy to engage in another all hands call "There will be an opportunity to ask questions and concerns will be addressed... we'll lay it on the table... whether it's big navy picture or what we do here in recruiting," said Andrews.

Andrews visit had a positive impact on the Sailors at NOSC Quincy "I think it's great to have the opportunity to speak with someone who can address issues that often get lost in the shuffle," said Damage Controlman 2nd Class Matthew Lehr, NOSC Quincy's Junior Sailor of the Year.

Cmdr. Andrew Plummer summarized the visit by saying, "Her visit was also productive in terms of community outreach with Massachusetts General Hospital, the Homebase Program, the Boston Red Sox and the Navy Reserve at NOSC Quincy, Massachusetts. We were happy to be able to show the Admiral our superb team of Civilian and Military members who accomplish our critical mission each and every day and look forward to her next visit with "Team Patriot" said Cmdr. Andrew Plummer.

NRC's mission is to recruit the best men and women for America's Navy to accomplish today's missions and meet tomorrow's challenges. With 70 percent of the world covered in water, 80 percent of the world's population living near coasts and 90 percent of the world's commerce traveling by water, America's Navy is very much a global force for good. NRC's mission is to recruit the best men and women for America's Navy to accomplish today's missions and meet tomorrow's challenges.

Dirt Boyz: Paving the way for a cleaner base

by Senior Airman Ashley Nicole Taylor
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/8/2014 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- In the winter, they're seen driving giant snow brooms to ensure base personnel are able to drive safely. Now that the snow is gone, Dirt Boyz from the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron continue to work hard in cleaning the base and making it safe to drive.

"We're going to get into summer repair, which includes fixing fences, signs and anything else that the base would need, to get it back to how it was before the winter season," said Master Sgt. Mathew Fleming, 354th CES section chief of pavements and construction equipment. "We have a few projects planned this summer for construction, but our main project is going to be building an extended parking lot for people here supporting RED FLAG-Alaska."

From all the wear and tear the base endured during the long winter, the Dirt Boyz only have a few months before the snow starts again. They focus on areas that need the most work, all while keeping next winter in mind.

"Every year, the snow removal equipment needs to be turned in for summer rebuild, which means we have to clean up around 35 pieces of equipment and it takes a huge effort to wash all the grime from this past winter," said William Ferenc, 354th CES engineering equipment operator supervisor. "After the crews are finished cleaning them, it goes to the 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron for vehicle maintenance so when winter hits next season, we get the vehicles back in tip-top shape."

Street sweepers, water trucks and hand brooms are just some of the many tools Dirt Boyz use to make sure all of the streets, even the roads less traveled, are kept clear of sand and pebbles.

"The gravel and sand we laid down over the winter becomes a hazard for windshields and motorcyclists," said Ferenc. "We have to make sure we clean all that up so everyone can move around safely."

Pesky potholes also become a problem now that winter is over and the Dirt Boyz have a hand in filling those as well.

"When water gets into a pothole, the pavement gets softer and it expands and ruins the road," said Ferenc. "We have to keep our Airmen and their families safe and if we take care of the pothole when it's small we spend less money when fixing it and save damage to vehicles."

Along with the snow melting, the risk of floods from water becomes an issue, potentially causing damage to base structures if not taken care of in a timely manner.

"Every year, some of the channels are frozen and when they thaw out certain areas won't drain very well," said Ferenc. "Our job is to pump water from one section to another to avoid the chance of a flood. To maintain flood control, we had a bunch of water pumps throughout base pumping water from one section to another."

The Dirt Boyz will be working year-round regardless of season, temperatures and weather conditions.

"We work really hard in the winter when it's 24 hours, seven days a week. These guys have to be here to allow everyone else to get to work safely," said Fleming. "Although we aren't working 24 hours a day right now, we always have somebody on stand-by and will respond to any situation where the Dirt Boyz are needed."

George H.W. Bush Forecasters Critical to Smooth Operations

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW/AW) Ben Kelly

USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH, At Sea (NNS) -- Strategically placed in the aft-most section of the super structure is a vital aspect of USS George H.W. Bush's (CVN 77) mission; Meteorology and Oceanography (METOC). Without this mission-essential workcenter, pilots would lose efficiency and be at a higher risk of danger, which puts the entire ship at higher risk.

"Everyone knows that we deal with weather," said Aerographer's Mate 1st Class Chad McLaren, METOC Leading Petty Officer (LPO). "What a lot of people don't realize is that we deal with anything atmospheric or oceanographic. We even do a little bit of space weather and anything environmental. We put out the five-day forecast, do products for undersea warfare and a little bit of atmospheric refraction dealing with radar ranges. It's a pretty wide-reaching rate."

McLaren's main responsibility is to make sure the division runs how it is supposed to, regarding forecast products and range predictions.

McLaren explained that early in an AG's (Aerographer's) Navy career, "C" school is mandatory following their first command. That is where they learn to forecast the weather. At their next command they will be known as a "forecaster," being primarily responsible for forecasting weather. Forecasters aboard USS George H.W. Bush predict the weather for all the ships in the strike group.

Personnel that have not yet attended "C" school are known as assistant forecasters, or observers. Their job is to observe the current conditions, record them in a weather observation log and assist the forecasters in anything else they need.

Every 30 minutes, an assistant forecaster takes a reading with a Kestrel, a handheld instrument that measures the air temperature and the dew point. McLaren explained how the Sailor will look all around the ship checking the sea state, what the visibility is like, how high the clouds are and how much of the sky is covered by clouds.

"Cloud height can affect air operations quite a bit," said McLaren. "We get pilot reports, but for the most part, the sea state and cloud coverage is judged by eye. It's an experience thing. After you've done it for a while you can tell based on how the clouds are moving, how fast they are moving and how much you can see them changing. You get pretty good at judging heights accurately."

METOC meets daily requirements such as forecasting weather for all ships in the strike group. However, safety trumps everything.

"The primary objective of METOC is safety," said McLaren. "Specifically, safety of navigation, personnel and flight operations. However we can support the warfighter, that's what we're going to do. We have the capability of knowing how a specific radar is going to perform in the atmosphere for a certain day or we can determine what the survivability is if there's a man overboard."

McLaren said that as far as the mission goes, the secondary goal is to exploit the environment to the best of their ability. They make sure that they know more about the environment than the enemy does, and use that to the ship's advantage.

"We take our observations from the 09 level between 24 and 48 times per day," said Aerographer's Mate Airman Taylor Kane, assistant forecaster. "It's necessary and very beneficial to the pilots to know what is going on at all times throughout their operations."

Every day, METOC provides vital information to people that truly need it and appreciate it.

"My favorite part about this job is being involved in just about everything that's going on," said McLaren. "We play a part in almost every operation that goes on underway. Whether it's flight operations, replenishment-at-sea or search and rescue. We have to be integrated into what everyone else is doing. It's fun, especially when you can give that essential information to people that truly require it. When you're getting good feedback and you know that you've actually contributed to the success of the mission; those are the good days."