Military News

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Face of Defense: U.S., South Korean Troops Bond at Cleanup


By Army Cpl. Dong-weon Kim
19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command

DAEGU, South Korea, June 19, 2014 – Soldiers from the United States Army’s 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command and Republic of Korea Army’s 5th Logistics Support Command cleaned up the Apsan Memorial Park here June 18 in recognition of Republic of Korea Remembrance Month.

The two commands have been cleaning the memorial together in June for the past five years. The month of June is a designated memorial period for all Koreans as well as the anniversary of the outbreak of the 1950-53 Korean War. This year, a total of 64 soldiers from the two commands participated.

“Commemorating the month of remembrance, the 5th LSC has been partnering with the 19th ESC since 2008,” said Master Sgt. Jung Goang-ho, 5th LSC G4 logistic support controller. “I hope soldiers from the two countries understand each other’s culture and establish a better sense of our history.”

After a morning formation, U.S. soldiers and Korean Augmentation to the United States Army, or KATUSAs, marched to the Apsan Memorial Park with their cleaning equipment. Soon after, South Korean soldiers from the 5th LSC arrived to the park wearing their green uniforms.

Before the cleanup, Sgt. Maj. Prentiss E. Hall, 19th ESC operations and plans sergeant major, and the 5th LSC’s command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Sin Young-jik, honored the war dead with a ceremonial offering. Soldiers in the formation rendered their salutes in respect to fallen heroes.

Soldiers from the two countries divided into their respective groups. As the day progressed, however, the teams began integrating with one another, ultimately working together as a single unit. KATUSAs served as translators and soon both sides were interacting with their counterparts and learning about each country’s military courtesies.

“It was my first time seeing a U.S. Army soldier and a very new experience to work with them,” said Pfc. Lee Sung-min, 32nd Supply Battalion, 5th LSC petroleum specialist. “If I have the chance, I would like to engage in a combined exercise with the U.S. Army.”

For the second time during his military service, Sgt. Son Hong-keun, 19th ESC information technology specialist, took part in this cleanup.

“Compared to when I was a private last year, I have learned better to appreciate the war fighters who have protected our country. It is an honor to clean up the memorial park and respect their selfless service,” Son said.

Although soldiers learn to work together during formal training exercises, events such as this allow an opportunity for them to bond while paying their sincere respect to the warriors that have gone before them. It is this shared commitment that enables the two countries to work side-by-side and be prepared to “Go Together” when the time comes.

Fairchild and Air Force Space Command Firefighters have an Intervention

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


6/18/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- You and your best friend are blinded as your whole world comes crashing down around you. Through the haze, you hear loud sirens screaming as they speed closer. Temperatures rise higher than those in California's Death Valley and as you look around, slowly regaining your bearing, your only means of escape, oh....and the 10 flights of stairs between you and freedom, have collapsed. How do you survive?

Firefighters across the Department of Defense have begun training just like their civilian counterparts in the hope of aiding in future structural fire rescues.

These firefighters will receive Rapid Intervention Team, also known as RIT. This is a fairly new type of training for the DOD and while it's critical, it's also beneficial to the safety to responders.

Teams of two train together in buildings compiled with scenarios that help mimic the real life possibilities of being trapped, injured or lost. Some rooms were constructed with plywood tunnels filled with cables and wires to simulate fallen ceiling that responders crawl through while blind folded and wearing their protective gear.

"In 2010, the National Fire Protection Association published a new standard, NFPA 1407, which required Fire Ground Survival and Rapid Intervention training," said David Killpack, the 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron fire training chief. "The Air Force adopted the standard as written, along with the process of figuring out how to meet the standard."

Over the past several years, there has been a significant increase in the death of firefighters due to structural fires. Now that there are newer and hotter fuels being produced, fires are burning faster and stronger, trapping firefighters inside buildings and sometimes killing them.

"This is one of the most critical areas in the fire department," Killpack said. "There has been a marked increase in firefighter deaths per structural fire in the past few years. It went from 1.8 victims to 3.2 victims per 100,000 fires."

It took the RIT program nearly three years in the developmental stage before it was practiced here. The program was implemented by the Air Force Space Command, with its own personnel being the first to attend RIT training.

The 92nd CES helped host RIT with 14 firefighters from seven separate departments, including Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, Cheyenne Mountain Complex, Colorado, Clear Air Force Station, Alaska, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, and Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.

"The course is a 'train-the-trainer' course, so our students completing the training can return to their bases and train their responders," said David Killpack. "Essentially, nearly 200 firefighters will be trained in this program this year."

The Fairchild AFB Fire Department lead the training here with two additional instructors invited from Clear AFS. The department's goal is to continue training the DOD in RIT and Fire Ground Survival. With the growing constraints on the DOD budget, KillPack said that the possibility of having Air Mobility Command Airmen train here and become instructors for their departments could be very beneficial, said David Killpack.

"It cost approximately $60,000 to train one base of firefighters," said Killpack. "This course may have been $60,000, but now we have the ability to train seven bases. That's a savings of nearly $36,000."

Keeping up the local fire stations, the 92nd CES will begin training in August on RIT and FGS with their local mutual-aid partners. These types of partnerships help ensure that every on-scene responder knows how to work with each other to save each other if needed.

"This training was literally created to keep firefighters alive so they can go home to their families," said David Killpack. "Injured and dead firefighters cannot serve the public; so ultimately, keeping them safer will keep the public safer."

Work Salutes Army’s Service on its 239th Birthday



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

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2014 – Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work saluted the U.S. Army on its 239th birthday for its versatility and adaptability during a cake-cutting celebration in the Pentagon’s courtyard here today.

Work wished the Army a happy birthday, and expressed his confidence there will be many more to come.

“Happy 239th birthday to the United States Army, whose fighting spirit, patriotism and unwavering zeal I am absolutely confident will last another 239 years,” he said.

Joined by Army Secretary John M. McHugh, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, Work lauded the Army for its “illustrious” history.

“It is such a pleasure for me to be here today as we celebrate your 239th birthday which, as a Marine, I have to admit you are the oldest branch of the armed services,” he said.

“Two weeks ago … we commemorated the 70th anniversary of D-Day when American soldiers mind you -- not Marines -- stormed ashore in the largest amphibious operation in history,” Work said.

The June 6, 1944, D-Day allied landings in Normandy, France, during World War II “led to the breakout in the Normandy beachhead and the dash across France ultimately ending in [the defeat of] Germany,” the deputy defense secretary said.

And, while American soldiers were storming ashore in Normandy, he added, other U.S. soldiers, alongside U.S. Marines, were fighting in the Pacific Theater on the Japanese-handheld island of Saipan.

“And, at the very same time in the China-Burma-India theater, General Frank Merrill and his famed Marauders were raiding deep behind enemy lines,” Work said. “They marched 750 miles through the sweltering jungles … in the mountains of Burma.”

That incredible versatility, the secretary said, fighting on the shores of France, on the islands in the Pacific, in the jungles of Burma and the ability to fight on any terrain, carrying out lightning strikes behind enemy lines, storming through or around even the stoutest of defenses, is a hallmark of the Army.

The secretary noted today’s U.S. Army has demonstrated the exact same versatility and adaptability in getting the job done regardless of circumstances.

“Over the past 12 years, this U.S. Army has followed in the footsteps of all those soldiers who have come before you and have served our nation so proudly and effectively,” Work said. “It didn’t matter whether it was in the deserts of Iraq or the mountains of Afghanistan, the jungles of the Philippines or the dark alleys of cities in numerous countries around the world.”

Whenever the nation has called, the Army has answered -- and “answered brilliantly,” he said.

Today’s world presents very complex security threats and challenges, Work said, noting America requires an Army that’s just as adaptable, versatile, prepared and lethal as any before it.

America needs an Army that can go anywhere, fight anywhere, and defeat any and all adversaries wherever they may be in any corner of the globe, he added.

“[Defense] Secretary [Chuck] Hagel and I are absolutely confident that today’s Army … is going to continue to provide our nation and our citizens with just such a force,” Work said.

For generations, American soldiers have demonstrated an unwavering dedication to the security of their nation and its citizens, as embodied in the Army motto: ‘This We’ll Defend,’” Work said.

“And along the way, you’ve added bright chapters to an already illustrious volume of battle honors,” Work said. The same principles that united those freezing, ill-clad soldiers at Valley Forge, he said, unite those who today patrol the mountains of Afghanistan, train foreign armies in Africa, Central and South America, and assist our allies in Europe and Asia.

“Secretary Hagel and I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” the deputy defense secretary said. “All of you bear a heavy burden protecting our country.”

Work, who noted he was raised in a military family before having his own on active duty, paid tribute to Army families around the world for their support.

“I, like Secretary McHugh and the chief, would like to thank the families,” he said. “None of us could do our jobs without you … and I thank you for the love and support you give your soldiers.”

Hagel, German Defense Minister Discuss NATO, Iraq


By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen met this morning at the Pentagon, reaffirming the two nations’ strong friendship and alliance, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.

The leaders discussed security challenges, ranging from post-2014 commitments in Afghanistan to recent developments in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine, Kirby said.

"Secretary Hagel and Minister von der Leyen discussed both nations' efforts to reinforce NATO and to reassure our NATO allies since Russia's aggressive actions in Ukraine,” he said, adding that such reassurance includes ongoing air, land and sea measures by the U.S. military and other NATO members.

The measures include President Barack Obama's June 3 announcement of the European Reassurance Initiative of up to $1 billion to fund increased rotational presence and exercises across Europe, and Germany's contributions, which in September will include support to NATO's Baltic air policing mission, Kirby said.

Hagel also thanked von der Leyen for Germany's contributions and sacrifices in Afghanistan.

“Germany has been the third largest contributor of troops and the leader of Regional Command North,” the press secretary said. “We welcome Germany's willingness to continue leading Regional Command North as part of NATO's post-2014 Resolute Support mission.”

Hagel and von der Leyen also discussed the upcoming NATO Summit, to be held Sept. 4-5 in Wales.

Kirby said the United States and Germany count on each other to be credible, capable partners as leaders in the transatlantic alliance and the global community.

“As the crises in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine remind us,” he added, “our leadership roles require investment in ready, modern, agile militaries.”

He added, “Both leaders recognized the importance of investing in capabilities that will strengthen our collective security.”

Both also agreed that, as the NATO Summit approaches, they must renew their commitments to transatlantic security, Kirby said.

After their meeting, Hagel left the Pentagon for the White House where the president met with members of his national security team in the Situation Room ahead of Obama’s statement on the U.S. response to violence in Iraq.

Von der Leyen, who Hagel invited to Washington in February during the Munich Security Conference, held a press conference on the steps of the Pentagon’s River entrance.

The German defense minister characterized her conversation with Hagel as “trustful and constructive,” and on the crisis in Iraq she said, “For the long term we need a sustainable solution for the whole region. That is, we have to integrate the diplomatic and political solution from neighboring countries of the whole region.”

Airmen wrap up 'Eager Lion' over Jordan skies

6/19/2014 - JORDAN  -- For the past few weeks, Airmen from Misawa Air Base, Japan, and around the world converged in Jordan to provide airpower to sister services and partner nations throughout Exercise Eager Lion 2014.

Between May 25 and June 8, the scenarios that played out over the skies of Jordan included various air-to-air and air-to-ground missions that were possible because of the efforts of all the Airmen involved.

"Eager Lion is a fantastic exercise when you look at the size and scope," said Brig. Gen. Kevin Schneider, Eager Lion air component coordination element and 380th Air Expeditionary Wing commander. "It involves 20 nations right now, and thousands and thousands of Soldier, Sailors, Airmen and Marines from those nations. As I look to the future, it's for continued expansion and continued development."

This is the fourth iteration of the exercise, and featured continued interaction and sharing of experiences at all levels, from the maintainers who put the jets in the air to pilots who helped plan the exercise's scenarios.

"As with any exercise, it's about getting pilots together, letting them plan together and letting them fly together," said Maj. Ali Shabana, an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot with the Royal Jordanian air force. "We all have the same name for missions, but we execute them in different ways. The benefit that we get from exercising with the U.S. and other countries is that guys who have a lot of experience with real-world situations are able to share that experience."

For all partner nations involved, sharing those experiences leads to a new, mutual experience that will benefit them in the future.

"When I look at building relationships, Eager Lion is a tremendous foundation for continuing to do more together and continuing to learn from each other," said Schneider. "My favorite part of the exercise was seeing the multinational partners, pilots and crews focused on doing the mission. We all grow up learning different languages, but we all eventually learn to speak the language of aviation."

USS Pennsylvania Earns Meritorious Unit Commendation



By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Ahron Arendes, Submarine Group 9, Public Affairs

BANGOR, Wash. (NNS) -- USS Pennsylvania (SSBN 735) Blue and Gold crews were presented the Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC) June 18 in a ceremony on Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor for completing the most successful return to strategic service to date for an Ohio-class submarine following a refueling overhaul.

According to the award citation from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, Pennsylvania was recognized for meritorious service from Sept. 2012 to July 2013 during which the ship completed an engineered refueling overhaul (ERO) and returned to service 27% faster than the previous fastest time for a ballistic missile submarine. This resulted in three months of additional SSBN operational availability.

"You not only completed your overhaul period faster than it's ever been done before, but you did it better," said Rear Adm. Dietrich Kuhlmann, commander of Submarine Group 9 to the Pennsylvania Blue and Gold crews. "Every milestone and event that you had to go meet to regain your strategic mission proficiency, operational ship-driving proficiency, and tactical weapons proficiency were done better collectively than any boat had ever before coming out of that transition period. This is fantastic testament to the leadership and professionalism of everyone standing here."

While completing their 32-month ERO and expedited return to service, Pennsylvania also earned a third consecutive Pacific Fleet Retention Honor Roll award.

"This award, while recognizing a lot of work completed about a year ago, is very much well deserved," said Cmdr. Tiger Pittman, Pennsylvania Gold crew commanding officer. "We were able to accomplish what we did in large part due to the hard work, dedication and teamwork both crews displayed. We couldn't have done this though without our families. They support us in the long hours, long weeks, and the time at sea, and that allows us to come to work focused and accomplish our very challenging and complex jobs."

The MUC was established by Former Secretary of the Navy John T. McNaughton in 1967 to be given to a unit for valorous or meritorious achievement.

Pennsylvania Gold crew recently returned home to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor following an Ohio-class SSBN record-setting 140-day patrol. The submarine is one of eight Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, providing the survivable leg of the nation's strategic deterrent forces.

'Local boy' pins on third star

by Staff Sgt. Clinton Atkins
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs


6/19/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Tony Rock never imagined his career would take him this far, but the University of Texas-San Antonio alum and Alamo City native pinned on his third star here June 19, right where his Air Force journey began 32 years ago.

Lt. Gen. Rock, who grew up in Hollywood Park and graduated from Churchill High School in 1977, never gave military service much thought back then. And even though his father, Master Sgt. Bob Rock, retired from the Army in 1969 and instilled in him drive and discipline, it was his dad's second career as a teacher at MacArthur High School that most influenced him during his college years.

Halfway through his tenure at UTSA, while pursuing a history degree, Rock pondered about following in his father's footsteps as a teacher. Then, as happenstance would have it, a curious Rock wandered into an Air Force recruiter's office. Soon after his encounter, Rock took the Air Force Officer Qualification Test and discovered he was qualified to fly airplanes.

With a plan now in place, Rock seized the opportunity to serve and was offered a pilot training slot at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas.

"I decided I would give it a shot even though I had no flight experience. After all, the commitment was only six years after completion of flight school," he said.

After earning his commission from Officer Training School at Medina Annex in San Antonio in 1982, Rock's life seemed all the more fortuitous when he married his wife, Kim Graves, a Uvalde, Texas, native whom he met in 1980 while she worked at a law firm in San Antonio.

"It was an exciting time for Kim and I to be entering the Air Force as the [President Ronald] Reagan years began," Rock said. "It really doesn't seem that long ago and I can tell you don't blink because three decades goes by in a flash."

His Air Force career took off quickly with six years spent at Laughlin AFB as a student and an instructor pilot, then four more years as an F-15C fighter pilot at Langley AFB, Virginia. During that time, the couple had two sons, A.J. and Bennett, and a daughter, Meggie. Bennett, the middle child, continues the Rock family legacy of military service as a helicopter pilot in the Army, soon to report to Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas.

Nineteen duty assignments have come and gone since Rock swore an oath to defend his country in 1982. Included in that are nearly two years of deployments during Operations Desert Storm and New Dawn and 150 combat hours in the F-15C. The general's commitment today burns even brighter with the pinning of his third star in his hometown.

"As I've continued to serve, the Air Force has graciously given me more opportunities to advance while continuing to contribute, and I hope I am up to the next challenge," he said.

"The chance to have this ceremony is my hometown is unbelievably fortuitous," said Rock. "I am very excited to be surrounded by so much of my family and so many local friends who've been so supportive over so many years. Many of them have never been to a ceremony like this and have had little exposure to our military, so it's really a chance for them to share in the experience in a meaningful way. In many ways, the people here with me today are responsible for me being who I am today, so this is my chance to give back to them just a little."

He recounts how different this promotion is from his last one, to major general in October 2011.

"That one was executed in Baghdad, Iraq, and my family observed via a video teleconference link that we established between Baghdad and Randolph Air Force Base," Rock said. "It was truly unique as two Iraqi generals pinned on my rank as my family watched from half a world away."

Judging from his long list of achievements that include several stints as a commander as well as a decorated combat pilot, few would assume he never expected to make it this far.

"I always thought if I retired as colonel I would have been exceptionally successful," said Rock.

"I often wonder, 'Why me?'" he said. "As I think back, I can name dozens of my peers who could have done as good, or better, a job as me, but for whatever reason the Air Force chose to let me continue to serve. The opportunities I've had, to be an instructor, to fly fighters both in training and combat, to be assigned to Germany and visit so much of our world, to serve with the finest officers and enlisted men and women in the world, for my children to have had such diversity in their lives, to help rebuild the Iraqi Air Force, and to have had the educational opportunities both in schools and in jobs, where do you find that kind of experience if not our Air Force?"

His next opportunity will take him to the other side of the world where he will serve as Chief, Office of the Defense Representative-Pakistan, at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan.

"I want to represent the Air Force, Department of Defense, and the United States in the best way possible working with a very critical partner in a part of the world crucial to our future," Rock said. "What we are doing there with the Pakistani military is important to the region but it is even more important to global security when you consider all the factors in South Asia --terrorism, and extremism, the presence of nuclear weapons, the relationship between Pakistan and its neighbors to the west and east [Afghanistan and India], a fragile but promising economy, and a population of nearly 200 million people.

"Our relationship with Pakistan has been on a better trajectory over the last couple of years, but there are some real friction points we will have to work through as our relationship continues to evolve," he said. "My job is to make sure we continue on the improving trajectory and that we take on the tough work to meet common objectives that will lead to security and stability and a better future."

Rock claims that keeping South Texas a constant presence in his family's life served as a, pun intended, rock-solid foundation to build their lives upon.

"Perhaps it is most my sense that, for both me and my family, South Texas is really home," he said. "Kim always took the kids home to Uvalde for the entire summer regardless of where we were. That sense of home has served us well and really gave our kids the anchor they needed growing up.

"It is important to understand that home is not where the Air Force stations you; home is where the people you love and those who love you are. For me, that is South Texas," said Rock.