Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Obama Signs Congressional Gold Medal Bill for Puerto Rican Unit

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 10, 2014 – President Barack Obama signed a bill today awarding the members of Puerto Rico’s 65th Infantry Regiment -- the Borinqueneers -- the Congressional Gold Medal.

The medal recognizes the contributions and extraordinary heroism of the men of the regiment, who served during a time of segregated units.

“Shortly after Puerto Rico became part of the United States in 1898, a regiment of Puerto Rican soldiers was formed, and they served our nation bravely ever since,” Obama said during the White House signing ceremony.

The unit served in World War I and World War II and earned everlasting glory for its service in Korea. Segregation “set them apart from their fellow soldiers -- but their courage made them legendary,” the president said. “They earned thousands of medals for their service in Korea.”

The Congressional Gold Medal is one of the highest awards the United States bestows. Previous military recipients include Gen. of the Army George C. Marshall and Navy Fleet Adm. Ernest J. King.

Units recognized include the Navajo and Native American code talkers, the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots and the Tuskegee Airmen.

“Only a handful of military units have ever received this award, and only one other Hispanic-American has received this award: Roberto Clemente,” Obama said, referring to the baseball hall-of-famer who died in a plane crash during an off-season humanitarian mission. “So on behalf of the American people, we want to thank all the Borinqueneers for their extraordinary service. You’ve earned a hallowed place in our history.”

Day in the life of a U-2 crew chief

by Senior Airman David Owsianka
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

6/9/2014 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- Imagine working on something worth approximately $60 million and being responsible for the safety of another person's life.

For the crew chiefs of the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron, that's just another day at work as they repair and maintain U-2 Dragon Ladies to ensure the Squadron's pilots can safely complete their reconnaissance and surveillance missions.

The crew chiefs are split into two shifts - preparation and launch, and recovery and inspection. Each shift begins with the prior shift leader providing information to the incoming crew chiefs on what maintenance has been completed and with Airmen assembling the necessary tools to for their shift.

"The preparation and launch shift begins the launch preparation approximately five hours prior to takeoff," said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Trusnik, 5th RS expediter. "They start by removing all of the dust excluders, protective covers and other items on the aircraft."

The crew chiefs then turn on the power to check the lights, oxygen, fuel tanks and balance the wings for flight. Next, they check the intakes and tail pipes for foreign, objects and debris. Once completed, the crew chiefs prepare the aircraft for launch and set up the necessary ground equipment.

About one-hour before launch the crew chiefs do a FOD walk on the entire ramp to ensure it is safe for the aircraft to take off.

The crew chiefs begin launch procedures once the pilot has settled into the cockpit. After the plane has been cleared to fly, the Airmen marshal the pilot out and release him for his six- to 10-hour mission.

"It feels good to see the aircraft launch and know I was part of it," said Senior Airman Aaron Wood, 5th RS crew chief. "It's important that we maintain the jet correctly to ensure the pilot can safely complete the mission."

In flight, the U-2 is used for both tactical and strategic reconnaissance to deliver imagery and signals intelligence to decision makers throughout all the phases of conflict in contingency operations. It is equipped with sensors that capture high-resolution images from the edge of space, which can be enlarged beyond the resolution of any other digital sensor.

Once the aircraft is in the air, the Airmen complete any necessary training before the recovery and inspection shift arrives.

The recovery and inspection crew's shift starts with preparation for recovering the aircraft about 30-minutes prior to landing. The Airmen have the tools prepositioned and have the cockpit stand set up.

"After the aircraft is marshaled to a stopping point, the pilot briefs us on any issues with the aircraft," Trusnik said. "We tow the jet into the hangar for maintenance afterwards."

The crew chiefs then perform a post-flight inspection at the end of the flying day to ensure the aircraft will be structurally fit for its next flight as well as that all fluids and lubricants are at a sufficient level.

"Troubleshooting maintenance problems helps me gain a better understanding of how everything in the aircraft works together and broadens my knowledge base of the jet," Trusnik said.

Once the maintenance work is complete, the aircraft is refueled and Airmen service oxygen into the aircraft and prepare the jets for the next flight.

The Airmen are proud of the work they perform each day.

"I have worked on this aircraft my whole career, and I love it," Trusnik said. "It is very satisfying to watch the aircraft take off after we have sunk more than 12-hours into repairing it to meet each mission requirement."

B-29 Ceremony cultivates compassion, understanding

by 2nd Lt. Ashley Wright
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/9/2014 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Saturday was a dreary and rainy day for many at Yokota, but in Shizuoka, where the 42nd annual B-29 Memorial Ceremony was held on Sengen Hill, blue skies prevailed.

Every year, U.S. and Japanese service members hike to the Sengen Hill monuments in honor of those who lost their lives in a B-29 collision over Shizuoka City on June 19, 1945. The crash took the lives of both aircrews and resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 Japanese citizens.

Fukumatsu Ito, a Japanese farmer, came to aid of the U.S. victims-- managing to pull out two of the aircrew from the wreckage. The aircrew later died from their injuries but Ito respectfully buried them next to the Japanese citizens. He then built the Sengen Hill monuments in hopes of promoting peace between the U.S. and Japan.

"The actions of Ito-san serve as an example of the potential for compassion that exists in all of us," said Col Robert Blagg, 374th Operations Group commander. "Let us continue to strengthen the bond our two great nations share and ensure harmony and freedom for future generations."

Dr. Hiroya Sugano, who was 12-years-old on the date of the crash, was inspired by Ito's gesture of benevolence and began hosting the B-29 Memorial Ceremony in 1972. Without exception, 89-year-old Sugano makes the long trip up to the Sengen Hill monument every year to ensure the trail is in good condition before guests arrive for the ceremony.

"I am grateful to see a good relationship between the United States and Japan," Sugano said in his opening remarks. "I hope our ceremony can act as a step toward world peace."

This year's ceremony had two parts: the "Blackened Canteen Ceremony" and the "Friendship Blossom Dogwood Initiative" tree planting.

The Blackened Canteen is filled with bourbon that service members use to pour over the B-29 monument. The gesture symbolizes a final drink shared with their departed comrades.

"The Blackened Canteen is used in the ceremony as both a symbol of the horrors of war and a representation of the humanitarianism shown by Ito on the day of the B-29 crash," said Retired U.S. Navy Adm. Ronald Hays, who served as the unified commander in Hawaii during his naval career.

Hays said that during his many visits to Japan, he admired the lifestyle and culture of the Japanese people. That sentiment led to the introduction of the dogwood tree planting into the memorial ceremony this year. As a boy growing up in Louisiana, Hays was very familiar with the native Dogwood trees that populated the country landscapes.

"Just as the Japanese look forward to the cherry blossoms and ohanami each springtime, we always looked forward to the beautiful dogwood blossoms," Hays said.

100 years ago, Japan presented 3,000 cherry trees to America as a gesture of friendship and good will. In 2012, the U.S. returned that gesture by sending 3,000 dogwood trees to Japan.

"I don't know why it took us 100 years to return that gesture, but I am delighted to say that Japan is now the custodian of our dogwoods," Hays said. "We trust that when you view these trees in years to come, you will remember the act of friendship that brought them to your shores."

Nellis graduates newest Physician Assistants

by Airman 1st Class Joshua Kleinholz
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

6/10/2014 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, NEV.  -- Two of the newest graduates of the Inter-Service Physician Assistant Program graduated and commissioned to the rank of 1st Lt. during a ceremony June 6, at the Mike O' Callaghan Federal Medical Center.

The students, (former) Tech Sgt. Kevin Stuessy and (former) Tech Sgt. Christopher Gomez made up class 01-11 and graduated with their Master in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

The 29-month IPAP course was developed to take Airmen with or without prior medical experience and educate them to effectively provide quality medical care under the supervision of a physician. IPAP students receive training in an array of medical specialties including Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Ophthalmology and accumulating more than 100 college credit hours and 2500 hours of vital patient care. During each rotation, the students are placed in an apprenticeship under a physician specializing in the respective medical field.

"Most of us choose this path because unlike physicians, we don't often have to specialize," said Capt. Breanne Kormendy, IPAP clinical program director. "But the opportunity to observe specialists benefit students in knowing what conditions can be treated in the [Family Practice] clinic, and which ones are best referred to a specialist."

Upon completion of the IPAP, Air Force PA's start their career with 4 years in the Family Practice clinic as a primary care provider before given the option to specialize. PA's can also serve in orthopedics, flight medicine, general surgery, dermatology and emergency medicine.

"It really hasn't hit me yet," said 1st Lt. Kevin Stuessy, a former aircraft jet engine maintainer, upon graduating the course that took him from a Tech Sgt. to a Lt. in just 29 months. "I think after I get to my first base on my own, and I'm the last word in care for my patient; that's when it will hit me."

Both graduates of IPAP 01-11, 1st Lts Stuessy and Gomez have received orders for reassignments to new bases where they will begin their new careers. The Air Force's newest Physician Assistants will be heading to Barksdale AFB, LA, and Minot AFB, ND, respectively.

Air Force, Navy join forces for B-1 naval mine deployment training

by Senior Airman Yash Rojas
28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

6/10/2014 - ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D.  -- Ellsworth Airmen partnered with several U.S. Navy minesmen during a joint training mission to exercise the B-1B Lancer's capabilities in deploying Navy mines June 2-7.

The 28th Munitions Squadron members teamed up with midshipmen from Naval Munitions Command Seal Beach for the first time to assist in building, loading and deploying Mk-62 and Mk-65 Quick Strike mines.

"It was definitely a good experience," said Staff Sgt. Raymond Elmendorf, 28th MUNS conventional maintenance crew chief and munitions inspector. "I had never worked with the Navy before ... but it was good to build that camaraderie. When we were out there building [mines], it wasn't really just Air Force [and] Navy ... [it was much more] of a team."

The midshipmen primarily focused on the building of Mk-62s and Mk-65s, while the Airmen from Ellsworth concentrated more on loading the mines into the aircraft.

"Working with the Air Force wasn't all that different for us, especially since we do this all the time," said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jeremy Frick. "We worked really well with the Airmen who took part in this build. They made it easy for us to build, load and wait for deployment of our mines."

While the Air Force does not routinely build Navy munitions, Ellsworth demonstrated it possesses the capabilities and the personnel to deploy Navy mines.

"If we had the technical guidance, we could definitely build it too," said Elmendorf.

The experience was beneficial to all Airmen involved, said Elmendorf, who added this kind of training had not been performed for several years. Unique training opportunities give everyone a chance to build upon skills and become familiar with different munitions.

The multi-mission B-1B is the backbone of America's long-range bomber force, carrying the largest payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the Air Force inventory, including Naval mines. It can rapidly deliver massive quantities of precision and non-precision weapons against any adversary, anywhere in the world, at any time.

"If we are called upon to work alongside Airmen to, we'll be ready," said Frink. "You don't want to have to be in a situation where you have to deploy mines, but if the threat is there, you want to know you and everyone you are working with knows what they're doing."

Tinker Airman receives ACC award

by Kimberly Woodruff
Tinker Public Affairs

6/10/2014 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- A Tinker Airman is the Outstanding Department of Defense Service Member with a Disability Award winner for Air Combat Command.

Tech. Sgt. Chad Molenhour lost his leg in a near fatal motorcycle accident two years ago, but with a positive attitude, remains on active duty with the 552nd Air Control Wing and mentors other wounded warriors.

On Sept. 30, 2012, Molenhour and his wife, Twyla, were on leave when the motorcycle accident occurred. Both were severely injured, each sustaining a fractured pelvis, a fractured arm/shoulder and both having a leg amputated.

The couple, hospitalized for 10 months in five different medical facilities, endured 15 surgeries.

"Initially, my morale was very low and I was unsure about what life was going to be like from that moment on," said Molenhour.

His perspective would soon change. After a call from his first sergeant, Molenhour learned that he and Twyla had been selected to continue their recovery process at the Center for Intrepid in San Antonio.

"I had that opportunity to recover alongside my combat injured brothers- and sisters-in-arms," the sergeant said. "My attitude toward life changed drastically while at the CFI."
This past year, Molenhour was called on by his first sergeant to aid a young Airman who had been in a similar motorcycle accident sustaining a lower limb amputation.

"As a wounded warrior myself, I was uniquely able to console the Airman through this rough time and mentor him through the five stages of grieving to help him through his healing," said Molenhour. The Airman is still recovering at CFI.

Col. Jay Bickley, 552nd ACW commander said recognition outside of the wing, especially at the major command level, is a testament to Molenhour's exceptional work ethic.

"Sergeant Molenhour's amazing story of experiencing and overcoming adversity is truly remarkable and his adherence to our Air Force's core values certainly merits receiving this prestigious award," the colonel said.

Molenhour said he was honored to be nominated and selected for this award.

"I know there are many other DOD employees out there with disabilities even worse off than mine, yet they still get the job done," he said. "I feel it is my duty to share my experience with others and show them that there is nothing that cannot be overcome."

Since his accident, Molenhour and his wife have met several people who have sustained similar injuries and share their stories to inspire them to overcome.
"I was given a second chance, and I will not waste another minute without making the most of my life," he said.

Russian Action Creates New Paradigm in Europe, Breedlove Says

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

DEAUVILLE, France, June 10, 2014 – The Russian annexation of Crimea and its actions on the Ukraine border have prompted NATO to undergo future self-evaluations in three areas, the alliance’s supreme allied commander for Europe said last week.

Speaking to American Forces Press Service during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, who also commands U.S. European Command, discussed how Russia has create a new paradigm in Europe.

“If you look across the last 12 years, we have purposely set out to try to have a partnership relationship and make Russia a partner,” he said. “And we have made decisions about numbers of forces, readiness of forces [and] basing of forces on the fact that Russia was going to be a cooperative partner in the future.”

The general explained a timeline of events in which Russia has undertaken provocative actions detrimental to its cooperative partnership in NATO.

“What we’ve seen, unfortunately, -- first in Georgia in 2008, and now in Crimea in ’14 -- we have seen a nation mass forces on a border, cross an internationally recognized border and annex by force portions of a sovereign nation. We kind of thought that was over in Europe. But apparently it’s not, and so we will now have to look at three things in the future.”

Breedlove said NATO will review its readiness, responsiveness and basing in Europe, and he explained the alliance’s approach in each area.

“We’re going to have to look at the readiness of our forces. … Is it appropriate?” he asked. “We’re going to have to take a look at the responsiveness of our forces. Is it right? We have the [NATO Response Force] on 15 days, 30 days or more. Do we need to have it on two days, five days, a week?”

Also important, the general said, is where forces are positioned, because basing has a lot to do with responsiveness.

“If you don’t have to get on a train or a plane, you’re much more responsive then if you have to get on a train or a plane,” he explained. “So we’re going to have to look at that.”

Breedlove also discussed NATO’s joint warfighting approach, noting the value of the alliance’s ability to pull together a joint force quickly for missions in Libya and elsewhere.

“We absolutely embrace and understand that no service stands alone,” Breedlove said. “No service can do the mission alone. Every service is dependent on every other service, so joint warfighting is all that we do.”

The general noted that this is how the U.S. military has operated for the last two decades, and he said he thinks the notion has “caught on with our friends and neighbors.”

“You see the British talking about building a joint expeditionary force,” Breedlove said. “It looks very much like what we have done in NATO.”

Hammer time: B-2, B-52 aircrews evaluate combat capability during ACC evaluation

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

6/10/2014 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Several Air Force Global Strike Command B-52H Stratofortresses and B-2 Spirits recently participated in an Air Combat Command evaluation involving the use of live cruise missiles and precision guided munitions.

"The Air-to-Ground Weapon System Evaluation Program, also known as 'Combat Hammer,' allows ACC to confirm the accuracy and capability of our conventional weapons from end to end while integrating with other assets in a realistic combat environment," said Lt. Col. Richard Armstrong, AFGSC Weapons and Tactics Branch chief. "It ensures the combined effort of our maintainers, loaders and operators is always ready to effectively deliver weapons if called upon."

During the evaluation, the aircraft flew multiple sorties to the Utah Test and Training Range where they engaged simulated enemy targets with missiles and other munitions while practicing combat maneuvers.

"One of the best things about Combat Hammer, for the crews, is that it really provides additional hands-on experience with the weapons that they train [with]," said Maj. Chris Weir, wing weapons officer for the 2nd Bomb Wing here. "There's no substitute for using the actual hardware, the actual software, the actual missiles that you see here. It provides experience that you just can't get any other way."

The Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, or JASSM, carried by AFGSC aircraft during Combat Hammer is one of the Air Force's newest and most effective weapons. This stealthy Air-Launched Cruise Missile is compatible with a wide variety of aircraft and is designed to be launched from outside of the combat area, allowing crews to strike distant targets with extreme accuracy without exposing themselves to potentially deadly enemy fire.

"The JASSM is one of the most cutting-edge weapons we have," said Weir. "It is one of the newest weapons to be integrated onto the B-52. Its low-observable characteristics really make it one of the most capable weapons that we have to destroy targets in a contested environment."

Precision guided munitions used during Combat Hammer included Paveway II laser-guided bombs and multiple variants of the Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM. These weapons have a proven track record and have been used to great effect in conflicts around the globe.

ACC led the two-week evaluation, coordinating the efforts of five different types of aircraft from seven bases, as well as remotely-piloted aircraft from Creech AFB, Nevada.

"Combat Hammer provides data on the effectiveness of precision guided munitions in both contested and uncontested environments, directly affecting the warfighter's weapon choice," said 2nd Lt. Victoria Carrillo, a weapons and tactics analyst with the 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron at Eglin AFB, Florida. "While primary results have been encouraging, until all the data has been collected and analyzed from the range, final conclusions cannot be made."

"For the crews, training is the biggest thing that we get out of this," Weir said. "We do everything just the way we would fight it. That's what puts the 'combat' in Combat Hammer."

Saber Strike unites ten countries

by Senior Airman Jonathan Stefanko
U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa

6/10/2014 - ADAZI TRAINING AREA, Latvia -- Approximately 4,700 service members from ten countries including the United States have come together during a kick-off ceremony for Saber Strike June 9, 2014 at the Adazi training area, Latvia.

Saber Strike is a long-standing, multilateral security cooperation exercise that is conducted at locations throughout the Baltic region. This year's objective is to facilitate cooperation amongst the United States, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to improve joint operational capability in a range of missions as well as prepare the participating nations and units to support multilateral contingency operations. A U.S. Army Europe-led exercise, Saber Strike 2014 is also supported by joint and total force service members from the U.S. Air Force, and the Army and Air National Guards.

"Saber Strike will prove invaluable to the interoperability as we move towards a post international security assistance force environment," said U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Gen. Mark T. McQueen, deputy chief of staff, mobilization and reserve affairs. "Despite the uncertainty of the world I am certain of one thing, and that is that the United States of America will continue to stand in the defense of freedom and will maintain our commitment to our partners in the face of tyranny."

Participating countries include the Baltic Nations of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, as well as Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States. The diverse allied nations gathered together with the goal to improve synchronized and prepared responses to regional security threats and missions.

"It is my pleasure to welcome everyone participating in Saber Strike 2014," said Raimonds Vejonis, Minister of Defense to the Republic of Latvia. "The exercise has proved to be an excellent operational tool to its allies and is important to conduct with the current security situation." Mr. Vejonis expressed appreciation for the "cooperation, contribution and willingness to strengthen and boost training activities in the region."

The various exercises conducted will focus on command and control as well as interoperability with regional partners and will be comprised of host nation-supported command post, computer assisted, and situational training exercises. The U.S. Air Force will also be playing a role by providing close air support to partner nation ground forces and demonstrating air deployment of forces and equipment.

"As we stand shoulder to shoulder I am personally honored to serve with you in the defense of our nations," McQueen said. "These are difficult and dynamic times but I am confident that we will continue to demonstrate to the world that we are a shining example of what the best of alliances and partnerships can look like. I thank you for the investment of your time and your energy and all that you have done to be here and I personally look forward to working with all of you."

By looking forward the United States and its allies ensure they are ready to provide capabilities and execute missions in support of combatant commands and achieve national objectives. Saber Strike, and exercises like it, allows the U.S., the Baltics and other partner nations to integrate capabilities and interoperability to help sustain alliance and partnerships, and to protect the security and stability of the region.

USAFE-UK hosts spring reception, welcomes new director

by Airman 1st Class Preston Webb
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

6/9/2014 - RAF MILDENHALL, England  -- U.S. Air Forces in Europe-United Kingdom's annual 2014 spring reception marked a change in responsibility for the organization May 30, 2014, at Middleton Hall on RAF Mildenhall, England.

Brig. Gen. Christopher J. Bence, 3rd Air Force vice commander, introduced Brig. Gen. Douglas A. Cox as USAFE-UK's newest director to a room full of civic and military leaders, officially passing over responsibility for maintaining the special relationship between the U.S. and the U.K.

As U.S. European Command's country representative, the USAFE-UK director is entrusted with establishing and maintaining enduring relationships with the British community. This is accomplished through a variety of engagements, including social receptions.

Events such as the reception take place a few times a year, and allow local military and community leaders to build social bonds, further strengthening the U.S. visiting forces relationship with British neighbors.

"The Spring Reception offers an opportunity for new mayors, high sheriffs and military personnel to gather together as we work together during the upcoming year," said Bence. "As guests in the U.K., building relationships and getting to know the local community is very important. The special relationship the U.S. enjoys with the U.K. is based on our open dialogue with our neighbors."

Gathering leaders together in such social settings offers a platform for discussion of any upcoming events or issues, while in a relaxed environment.

"The reception allows all the mayors, high sheriffs and leaders know what the mission is," said Ken Thompson, British-American Community Relations chairman, who had the opportunity to be a part of several similar events during his 25-year tenure with the BACR. "We're lucky to have [these leaders at] RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath, because they let the public know what's going to happen [ahead of time], instead of when it happens, so we can be prepared."

The spring reception also serves as an opportunity for new leaders to meet one another, and establish working relationships with U.S. Force leadership and each other.

This year's spring reception served just that purpose for Cox, who was introduced to the key leaders he will be working with for the first time.

"[The reception] is a great opportunity to meet our allies, express a sense of cooperation with them, and discuss any issues which may need to be addressed in the near future," Cox said. "I look forward to a continued relationship with these impressive community leaders, as we work together in the interest of defense for both of our countries. We have a great partnership -- a strong partnership. We're very lucky to have such staunch allies."

Saber Strike 2014, distinguished visitor and media day announced

Public Affairs

6/10/2014 - ADAZI TRAINING AREA, Latvia -- On June 12, 2014 the distinguished visitors and media day for exercise Saber Strike 2014 will take place in Ādaži. It will be attended by Chief of Defense of Latvia, Lieutenant General Raimonds Graube, and other officials.

Media and distinguished visitors will be briefed about the exercise at 9:30 a.m. At 10:15 a.m. they will watch UAVs operating from a tactical runway and JTACs calling F-16 maneuvers. They will also meet soldiers from participating nations and see various equipment and vehicle displays.

The international military exercise Saber Strike 2014 will take place June 9-20 in multiple locations in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

This year, the exercise trains approximately 4,700 participants from 10 NATO and partner nations - Canada, Denmark, Estonia, the U.S., the U.K. , Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Finland. Several hundreds of the exercise training audience will train in Estonia, around 2 thousand in Latvia, and approximately 2.6 thousand in Lithuania.

Saber Strike 2014 will include a brigade-level command post exercise and a computer assisted exercise throughout the Baltic States, and a company-level tactical field exercise and a situational training exercise at Ādaži Training Area, Latvia and Gaižiūnų Training Range, Lithuania.

Saber Strike is an annual multinational exercise organized by the U.S. Army in Europe (USAREUR), and hosted by the three Baltic States. This will be the fourth time this exercise is conducted.

This year's exercise objectives facilitate cooperation amongst participating nations to improve joint operational capability in a range of missions as well as preparing the participating nations and units to support multinational contingency operations. The exercise trains participants on command and control as well as interoperability with regional partners.

Saber Strike 2014 also features the integrations of U.S. close air support with partner nation ground forces and a demonstration of U.S. air deployment of forces and equipment. The air assets of Saber Strike 2014 will also participate in exercise BALTOPS 2014, a U.S. Navy Europe-led exercise taking place in the Baltic region. All activities will feature joint, multinational training among the participating nations.

Exercise Baltic Host will be integrated in Saber Strike 2014. Baltic is Host is a command post exercise that is aimed at training the Baltic States defense sectors together with other state institutions in providing host nation support while receiving allied troops and humanitarian support.

Media organizations interested in covering the Saber Strike 2014 Distinguished Visitors and Media Day should contact Daina Ozolina, Latvian Military Public Affairs, at +371 67335224 or +371 26174707, or daina.ozolina@mod.gov.lv. If interested, media is invited to arrive at 7:15 a.m. to see paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade perform a jump nearby, though this is NOT in conjunction with Saber Strike 2014. Otherwise, the Distinguished Visitors and Media Day for Saber Strike 2014 will begin promptly at 9:30 a.m. Please send Ms. Ozolina the following credentialing information by close of business on 11 June: name, surname, affiliation, email, and press card number (if applicable).

Media organizations interested in covering U.S. Air Force participation in Saber Strike 2014 should contact USAFE Public Affairs Office at +49 162-425-5428 or Kristal.gaul@us.af.mil.