Military News

Monday, June 23, 2014

USAF builds partnership with Baltic States

by Senior Airman Jonathan Stefanko
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


6/23/2014 - RIGA, Latvia -- Airmen from the 435th Contingency Response Group arrived at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia in Europe, June 16, 2014, to participate in the Air Force-specific portion to Saber Strike 2014.

Saber Strike is a regularly scheduled, reoccurring exercise that promotes the enduring commitment the United States and other allied nations have with the Baltic States.

"This is a capability we have not had the opportunity really train on in approximately six years," said Master Sgt. William Mendez, 435th CRG contingency weather forecaster. "Coming to a foreign air base and truly starting from step in making it operable for our guys is a great experience."

During the final week of Saber Strike 2014 the 435th CRG, in conjunction with the 37th Airlift Squadron, trained on the full capabilities to open the Latvian air base. They also trained with Latvian and Estonian service members on airfield operations, command and control of air and space forces, weather support, protection of operational forces, aircraft maintenance and aerial port services.

Exercising these unique capabilities with partner nations represents a step toward further development of the air base's infrastructure and operations that could be used by the United States and other allied nations, stated Lt. Col. Andrew Roberts, bilateral affairs office, U.S. Embassy - Latvia.

"In many situations it's almost a peer experience," Roberts said. "We're giving to them just as we are getting from them. So those lessons learned could come back into the U.S. Air Force structure and we can utilize them at our own bases."

Building upon a foundation of friendship that started in 1991, the U.S. and Baltic States trained together to learn various techniques that ranged from transporting cargo to properly marshaling an aircraft.

"Working with our allied nations was not only a great teaching experience but we also learned various procedures they use which we can implement during joint missions," Mendez said. "From sharing combat life-saver skills, jumping together from a C-130 J-model and for the first time, participating in sling-load operations with the Latvian counterparts.

AF Reserve vice commander visits Travis

by Tech. Sgt. Stephen J. Collier
349th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


6/23/2014 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- The men and women of this northern California base hosted the vice commander of Air Force Reserve Command June 20-22 here for a look at the wing's mission and innovation spurred by individual Airmen.

Maj. Gen. Richard "Beef" Haddad met with both senior wing leadership and individual reservists from the 349th and 60th Air Mobility Wings, gaining what he said was a better understanding of the global mobility mission here and the challenges individual reservists face.

"I'm very impressed with what I'm seeing from these great Americans that put on the uniform," Haddad said of Team Travis Airmen. "As I keep telling folks all the time, 80 percent of our reserve is made up of part-timers and they do some incredible stuff. And some of the things they're doing to enhance the mission and be more effective is so impressive to me."

During his visit, Haddad toured several facilities, including the 312th Airlift Squadron where he received an update on the C-5 Galaxy aircraft conversion and the fleet's ongoing modernization program. The general also toured David Grant Medical Center and spoke with Airmen from the 349th Aerospace Medicine Squadron on the creation of a wing fitness clinic. Among other stops, Haddad also addressed the men and women of the 749th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron during the unit's roll call June 22.

Senior Airman Robert Bonte, Jr., who spoke with the general during his breakfast with wing junior-enlisted Airmen, said it was inspiring to hear him address issues of concern to him.

"I work Monday through Friday with disabled adults and when I hear everything going on with the VA, Iraq, Afghanistan, the budget; there's a lot of confusion out there," said Bonte, who serves as an air transportation journeyman with the 55th Aerial Port Squadron since 2010. "It's good to know the command cares about us, and that we have civilian lives. It's nice to know whatever rank you are, you're still approachable. When you can get information from someone way up the chain of command, it's definitely reassuring."

The general, who has visited the 349th AMW once before, also discussed some larger issues affecting the command. When asked what kept him up at night, Haddad said making sure reservists are taken care of is at the top of his list.

"People are our most important asset," he pointed out. "With issues such as sexual assaults and suicide prevention, it's all about making sure we're taking care of people. Our Chief of Staff of the Air Force says if you're leading our Airmen, you need to know them. If there's someone who is potentially suffering, we should know and be able to assist them in getting help. Those are the challenges that are causing so many issues in our Air Force today."

With visits to operations, maintenance, medical and mission support elements, Haddad said he was delighted to see the progress being made by both the wing, as well as individual Airmen, who have stepped up to the challenge of innovation and bringing civilian ideas to their military positions.

"To see the innovation going on out here, and the resolutions (Airmen) have come up with in regards to issues like eFinance and DTS is amazing," he said. "The concerns that have been brought up are issues we have throughout the command, but it's individual people at this wing that are cominging up solutions. If we can find an easy, effective way of correcting a major problem, why wouldn't we do it? It's this reason I'm extremely impressed by the 349th and all the initiatives Colonel Burger has going on under his command."

Niagara firefighter provides life saving interventions

by Peter Borys and Felicia Redden
914th Airlift Wing


6/23/2014 - NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. -- Quick reaction and ingenuity by an Air Force Reserve emergency medical technician who witnessed a multiple vehicle accident helped save a life.

Joseph Allen, a Department of Defense civilian employee with the Niagara Falls ARS Fire Emergency Services and a senior airman in the 914th Airlift Wing, put his life-saving skills to work after a collision involving a dump truck and passenger car.

The dump truck came to rest on its side, entangled in electrical wires, while the car suffered crushing front end and driver-side damage. Allen observed a woman trapped in the car's driver side bleeding profusely from a severe laceration and possible compound fracture to her arm. Without hesitation, his EMT/military training enabled him to improvise a tourniquet out of a T-shirt and combination screwdriver/scraper.

The victim was extricated from the vehicle and flown by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical-Trauma Center in Buffalo.

Allen's instinctive reactions allowed him to quickly assess the victim and initiate emergency care. These techniques proved to be life-saving interventions, due to the severity of the victim's injuries.

Allen was recognized for his efforts by Col. Steven Parker, 914th Airlift Wing commander, who presented him with a commander's coin in front of his peers and local media.

APF forges bonds in Africa

by Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane
USAFE-AFAFRICA


6/23/2014 - DAKAR, Senegal -- U.S. and African partners concluded a weeklong collaboration event with eight regional air forces in Dakar, Senegal June 20, aimed at strengthening relationships between the air forces and encouraging an exchange of ideas.

African Partnership Flight is a U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa lead program that consists of the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserves and the U.S. Army. It has become a premier program for U.S. Africa Command to help foster security and stability throughout the continent.

"African Partnership Flight is meant to develop interoperability and regional cooperation between African countries," said. Maj. James Renfro, APF mission commander. "We want to develop communication between the separate countries so that if something does happen they are already familiar with each other and can assist their partners in a time of need."

Airmen from Senegal, Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Ghana and Mauritania attended classroom discussions and hands on demonstrations that were relevant to each person's skillset. The classrooms included aeromedical evacuation, flight and ground safety, base defense, mission planning and cargo loading functions.

The discussions uncovered a diverse group of professionals and a wide variety of experiences in each respective air force.

"So far it has been a great event," said Maj. James Renfro, APF commander. "We have 150 participants from nine countries including the U.S. They are all military professionals interacting together to learn from their shared experiences."

Those different experiences are what the students value the most.

"We got to see how they approach problems," said Corporal Jito Alhassen, medical technician from the Ghana air force. "We experienced our job from their point of view and shared our way of doing things with the other countries."

He explained that they have learned more in these five days of discussion and hands on application than he has in any other course in Ghana.

"Everybody in the air force should come to this training," Alhassen said. "We would be a very strong air force if everyone was able to experience what we did."

Networking was one of the highlights for most students who spent their breaks exchanging email addresses and Facebook contacts.

"We built friendships," Alhassen said. "It is good to bring all these people together so we can work together to be united."

Despite the different cultures and languages, the instructors bonded with the students over their shared love for the job they do in the military.

"One goal we all have is to provide great patient care," said Lt. Col. Miguel Jimenez, 146th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flight nurse, "and we have the same passion for trying to move patients from the point of injury to a safe location."

APF provided the opportunity to the students to get the valuable hands on experience that is not so readily available for them. The hands on portion of the class allowed the students to put their classroom experience to the test.

"The students craved hands on training," Jimenez said, "and that is what we provided, which I think was invaluable to them. Ask my students if they thought their time here was valuable. I know the answer will be 'yes'."

SecAF outlines changes for nuclear force

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


6/23/2014 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- 
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James outlined new incentives and measures designed to change the culture of the service's nuclear force June 17.
 
Following a cheating scandal involving intercontinental ballistic missile launch officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, and the subsequent relief of nine officers, a commander's retirement and 91 other airmen receiving discipline, James touched on ways the Air Force has begun to address "systemic issues."
 
"I do think this is more than a single issue," she said in remarks at a Defense Writers Group breakfast. "As I've said before, I do think we need some holistic fixes for the nuclear force. This is not something that happened in the last year or two, or even 10. It's probably been happening gradually over the last 25 years."
 
The secretary said while there are likely no quick fixes to resolve these issues, there are measures she and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III can implement now.
 
"Let's talk money," James said. "Money is not everything, but money's important. So right now, in [fiscal year 2014], just in the last few months, we have redirected $50 million -- $50 million, by the way, is the most that the Global Strike Command said they could reasonably spend in [the fiscal year]."
 
Money should be spent reasonably, she said, so in addition to $50 million, $350 million more will be redirected to the nuclear mission over the next five years. The money will go to sustainment infrastructure and to some of the "people issues," the secretary added.
 
There could be more to come, James said, but this is what officials have decided so far.
 
Another issue being addressed is undermanning in the nuclear force, the secretary told the defense writers.
 
"When you're undermanned, that means the existing people have to work harder," she said. "That impacts morale and it could impact other things as well. We have, right now, already directed 1,100 additional people are going to be inserted into the nuclear force to get those manning levels up."
 
They principally will be in the field, she said, and the Air Force is going to 100-percent manning in the eight critical nuclear specialties. Air Force officials have lifted some of the ongoing servicewide manpower reductions to add people back into the nuclear force, she added.
 
Along with those adjustments, the secretary noted, she has called for elevating the Global Strike Command commander's position to the four-star level and that the related major general position on the Air Force staff be made a lieutenant general position.
 
"We want to up the rank of the nuclear forces within the Air Force," she said. "Rank matters in the military, so that's another thing that we're doing."
 
Additionally, James said, the testing environment that produced the cheating scandal has been revamped, and the inspections environment will also see changes.
 
"It had become this zero-defect mentality, where even the smallest of the small kinds of errors could cause an entire failure," she explained. "That wasn't a healthy environment."
 
In the fall, James said, the Air Force also will introduce a variety of new financial incentives for the nuclear force "to kick it up a notch," including offering accession bonuses for new officers' ROTC scholarships and incentive pay.
 
James also noted 20th Air Force commander, Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, has issued a series of directives to the field designed to start to shift the culture.
 
"Now, you know memos don't shift culture," she said. "Leadership and time eventually shifts culture, but this is a start. This is designed to stop the micromanaging, to push down to the lower levels [and encourage] decision-making."
 
All of that will help, James said.
 
"We didn't get here overnight, and we're not going to fix it overnight," she added.
 
It will take persistent focus, leadership and attention for years to come, she said.
 
"With all of what I've just said, I'm certain that additional resources are probably still in order," James said. "We're going to have to talk about those resources as we get into the next [program objective memorandum] cycle."
 
James said she believes the U.S. nuclear mission is a national mission for the entire Defense Department, not just the Air Force.
 
"So I'll be talking to the deputy [defense] secretary, the secretary of defense [and] the senior leaders of DOD to see what we can do about this," she said.

Washington Navy Yard Honors Shooting Victims, Co-workers



By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2014 – The memory of those killed during a Sept. 16, 2013, shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard will always burn brightly and the wounds will carry on for a lifetime, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said today.

Mabus spoke at a Navy Yard ceremony held to honor the three women and nine men who died that day after a contract employee entered the base and opened fire, as well as to honor the courage and sacrifice of numerous others.

“As a family, we grieve and continue to grieve,” Mabus said. “We gather here again as a family to recognize the heroism of those we lost and the heroism that confronted evil on that day last fall.”

When the shooting began, employees of the Naval Sea Systems and Naval Facilities Engineering commands ran into danger to aid and protect others, the Navy secretary said. He also cited the colleagues, friends and strangers who saved others from peril and comforted one another.

“The courage we witnessed on the 16th of September did not end with the closing of that terrible day,” Mabus said, adding that people began returning to work the following day, and that three days later, most of the Navy Yard was reopened.

“Thousands represented here today, whose lives had been in real peril just three days before, were back doing the vital work of our nation. That courage endures,” he said.

Navy Yard employees embody the mottos Semper Fortis -- “always courageous” -- and Semper Fidelis -- “always faithful,” Mabus said.

Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of naval operations, said Navy Yard personnel comprise sailors, civilians and families.

“We are all shipmates,” he said. “Last September [when] tragedy struck, shipmates demonstrated courage. Since that day, you have all embodied resilience [and] determination to continue the mission.”

Navy Yard employees, both military and civilian, are the foundation of American sea power, Greenert said.

“Your nation turns to you now in this period of our world, and the future, more than ever before,” the admiral added. “You have unmatched dedication, teamwork and patriotism, and I’m honored to call you my shipmates.”

About three dozen awards honored fallen Navy Yard employeesand surviving co-workers, an official at the ceremony said.

Global Strike bombers complete their deployment

by Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson
2nd Expeditionary Group Public Affairs


6/20/2014 - RAF FAIRFORD, United Kingdom -- U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen flew to RAF Fairford, United Kingdom as part of a mission to train and integrate with U.S. and allied military forces in the U.S. European Command region.

Along with them came three B-52 Stratofortesses and two B-2 Spirits. All five bombers departed the EUCOM area of responsibility, following the completion of their deployment.
This mission was made successful by not only aircrew, but also supporting units who worked tirelessly to ensure the mission was a success.

"The B-2 was here to conduct training exercises so we can have our pilots ready to work in this area of operations," said Lt. Col. Bradley Cochran, 393rd Bomb Squadron commander, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. "We are world-wide deployable, so we can go anywhere on the planet. Training opportunities like this one are invaluable to us because they get us familiar with the command and control structure, the air traffic control structure and different procedures that are in the area of operations."

B-2 crews also flew a long duration sortie for more than 20 hours into the EUCOM and U.S. Africa Command areas of operation, Cochran said.

"The B-2 provides stealth, long range precision-guided weapons and a huge payload," Cochran said. "With those combined, we trained for that to be able to strike those long-range deter and assure missions that we are tasked to do."

Maintainers crank up the torque

Global Strike's aircraft would not have been able to lift off the without proper maintenance. Maintainers from the 509th, 2nd and 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadrons provided routine, pre-flight and post-flight maintenance to keep the mission going.

"We're here working 24-hour operations to ensure that aircraft are ready to fly," said Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Bartalini, 2nd Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron superintendent. "We have three aircraft here and we're flying two aircraft a day, so you can imagine that there are a lot of maintenance actions that take place on a 60 year old, huge aircraft."

Maintainers worked through both day and night shifts to ensure B-52 crews were able to complete all sorties, 100 percent on time, Bartalini said.

"We've also enjoyed England," Bartalini said. "The training that they're getting is not something that they'll be able to do at home, except for maybe Red Flag. They get to see a different region and practice with one of our top allies."

Defenders protect resources

While maintainers worked around the clock to allow aircrews to fly sorties, security forces Airmen from Barksdale Air Force Base and Whiteman also played a critical role, according to Tech. Sgt. Nicholous Banks, 2nd Security Forces Squadron flight chief, deployed from Barksdale.

"We were the first line of defense from any potential source of aggression," Banks said.
Along with securing the gates and patrolling the base, defenders ensured safety for more than 400 Airmen and civilians on base.

"We also ensured that resources were secured throughout the entire time, without mishaps," Banks said. "We coordinated with the Ministry of Defense personnel and ensured 100 percent mission accomplishment throughout the entire time we were here."

Being able to integrate with allies was a unique opportunity for Airmen to gain experience on the expeditionary side of the Air Force, Banks said.

"It's one thing to say one thing and support allies abroad, but it's another when you work side by side with them," Banks said. "You develop a bond and a close relationship with them and it's very rewarding. Leaving this place is something that I know my personnel and I will miss."

AFE Airmen keep pilots safe

As security forces Airmen kept personnel and resources safe, aircrew flight equipment Airmen were responsible for keeping pilots safe during flight.

"If our gear isn't working, then aircrew members are not flying," said Master Sgt. Dennis Speicher, Aircrew Flight Equipment section chief, 509th Operations Support Squadron, from Whiteman. "They need to have full oxygen and communications."

If pilots have a communications and they can't speak to air traffic controllers, then they won't be able to go anywhere, Speicher said.

At all times, safety of aircrew members is the most important part of an AFE technician's job.

"Watching the birds take off, knowing you have a direct hand in what happens is a blast. I have fun every day," Speicher said.

Air Traffic Controllers keep a watchful eye

Keeping aircrew members safe was also the primary mission of air traffic controllers. Airmen from Whiteman and Barksdale collaborated to keep pilots safe - painting a clear picture of the airspace around them.

"My mission is to support the aircraft operations for whichever squadron may use the runway," said Staff Sgt. Steven Mohan, 2nd Operations Support Squadron watch supervisor.

While working in the tower, Mohan and his teammates have worked with a variety aircraft, including bomber, transient, fighter, commercial, heavy cargo, transport and distinguished visitors.

"We control anything that touches the runway," Mohan said. "We make sure they have a minimal delay for their arrival and departures so they meet their mission times. "

The procedures for controlling air traffic in England make their job slightly different to what ATC Airmen are accustomed to in the U.S.

"We have different coordination levels through the English air traffic versus the states," Mohan said. "Along with different procedures there is also different equipment to use."

Air traffic coordination in England takes most mostly between person to person, whereas the U.S. uses coordination that is automated through the Federal Aviation Administration.
Overall, Airmen are happy to get some experience controlling air traffic outside of the United States.

"Back at home station you normally have a couple of airframes that are assigned and you work those primarily," Mohan said. "The diversity of aircraft that we've worked with has been refreshing."

ATC Airmen would welcome the chance to come back to RAF Fairford for another deployment, if they had the opportunity, Mohan said.

"This is what my job exists for," Mohan said. "Home station is training for us to deploy, or wherever we may go worldwide. It's really good to get this kind of experience under our belt. It helps everything make more sense."

Fuels Airmen pump up the mission

As air traffic controllers kept the airspace safe, fuels Airmen ensured aircraft had enough gas to fly.

The 2nd and 509th Logistics Readiness Squadrons collaborated to keep the mission pumping with jet fuel for B-2 and B-52 sorties.

"We were instrumental in the success of this mission," said Master Sgt. Mark Smith, 2nd Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels superintendent. "My Airmen also helped fuel a commercial Boeing 757 and C5 Galaxy transient Aircraft."

If it wasn't for the Airmen working in the fuel trucks, the jets wouldn't have been able to take off, according to Smith.

Overall, Airmen from Whiteman, Barksdale and Minot Air Force Bases all played a role in the mission to train and integrate with U.S. and allied military forces in the EUCOM region.

Little Rock Air Force Base supports Green Flag exercise

by Senior Airman Kaylee Clark
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


6/23/2014 - LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark.  -- Three base squadrons conducted the first-ever Extracted Container Delivery System (XCDS) airdrops during the Green Flag Little Rock exercise June 16, 2014.

Crews from the 34th Combat Training Squadron, 41st Airlift Squadron and 61st AS exercised techniques and tactics to employ combat airlift's newest air delivery system during a capabilities demonstration at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana.

The XCDS bundles are engineered to allow the cargo loads to the exit the aircraft in a matter of seconds to reach ground forces faster and more accurately. Increased accuracy during airdrops means safer and efficient resupply on the battlefield. The XCDS is also safer for aircrews because it changes the angle and approach aircraft can use to deliver cargo.

The method of extraction is the biggest difference between the two delivery systems. Unlike the traditional Container Delivery System bundles, the speed an XCDS hurtles from an aircraft facilitates fast and accurate delivery while limiting ground forces exposure to enemy targeting.

Because of the quick delivery and tight dispersal pattern on a drop zone, ground forces can swiftly recover the loads.

"Traditional CDS bundles leave the aircraft due to gravity and their dispersal patterns are variable due to exit times and friction. XCDS bundles are pulled out of the aircraft with an extraction parachute and are banded together to reduce dispersion. This decreases the exposure to ground forces during the recovery of critical supplies. These airdrops were a first for GREEN FLAG Little Rock and the Joint Readiness Training Center. The aircrews from the 41st and 61st Airlift Squadrons performed exceptionally well," said Lt. Col. Steve Smith, 34th Combat Training Squadron commander.

Green Flag Little Rock is a mobility air forces exercise that provides training for aircrews in support of Army exercises in Fort Polk, Louisiana, as part of the JRTC. This exercise teamed Little Rock aircrews with the Vermont National Guard's 86th Mountain Division.

Tech. Sgt. Marcos Garcia, 41st Airlift Squadron instructor loadmaster, served dual purposes during the exercise, training and certifying a 61st AS loadmaster and also assisting with the airdrops.

"The exercise went very well," said Garcia. "The Army was pleased with how close the XCDS landed to target so that the troops could get in, pick up the equipment and get out."
I
t takes a time and technique to perform a successful XCDS airdrop, but the overall product is a great, effective system said Garcia.

"One of the essential parts of the C-130 combat airlift mission is to deliver supplies to coalition troops on the ground and to do it safely and accurately. The XCDS allows us to do this," said Smith.

Saber Strike Co-director Highlights Benefits for Partners



By Army Sgt. Sara Marchus
North Dakota National Guard

ADAZI, Latvia, June 23, 2014 – Exercise Saber Strike 2014, which ran from June 9 to June 20, was beneficial to the United States, the Baltic states and the other partner nations that participated, the exercise’s co-director said.

Army Maj. Gen. Mark McQueen described the exercise’s success in providing training in multinational operations for NATO allies.

McQueen said his goal as Saber Strike’s co-director was to establish an exercise that was beneficial to the Baltic states and all partner nations participating.

“We provided a competitive and dynamic environment with an intent to challenge commanders, staffs and soldiers, with the final objective being for them to perfect and hone their skills so they can operate in an austere environment,” he said.

Saber Strike is a U.S. Army Europe-led, joint, multinational military exercise designed to promote regional stability, strengthen international military partnerships, enhance multinational interoperability and prepare participants for worldwide contingency operations. 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, creating a force of about 4,500 multinational service members.

“Regardless of which nation they were from, the soldiers really enjoyed working with and learning from each other,” McQueen said.

Saber Strike consisted of a variety of training drills and field exercises, with observer coach trainers evaluating soldiers’ skills, methods and capabilities. McQueen said he stayed involved throughout the exercise with troops to understand what skills, knowledge and opportunities the participants were doing every step of the way, speaking with individual soldiers about their experiences.

“It has been a great privilege to see these soldiers train in an environment where all 10 nations can learn together and be able to engage effectively with each other,” the general said.

This year marks the fourth Saber Strike exercise in the Baltic states. This year’s training focus, McQueen said, was to help formations understand defensive operations and then transition into offensive operations and begin their counterattack.

“The significance of this exercise cannot be understated,” he added. “It has helped our troops and our partner nations have the interoperability to perform drills together and hone their skills through complex and dynamic situations and prevail.”

CRW teaches in Honduras

by Capt. Elizabeth Peters
571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron, Aeromedical Evacuation Air Advisor


6/23/2014 - SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- The 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron recently deployed a mobile training team to conduct a five-week engagement with the Fuerza Aérea Hondureña at Héctor Caraccioli Moncada and Soto Cano Air Bases in Honduras.

The 571st MSAS was augmented by a Reservist sensor operator from USSOUTHCOM, based out of Miami. A variety of Air Force advisors taught seminars on maintenance, intelligence, sensor management, fuels and airfield security for 46 Honduran service members from four different bases throughout Honduras from April 27 to May 31.

The joint seminars incorporated the Honduran air force and navy personnel for the first time at Base HCM and utilized capabilities not organic to the MSAS, provided by an augmentee.

The mission of the 571st MSAS, based out of Travis Air Force Base is to support the Air Force's Building Partner Capacity mission. According to Lt. Col. Katherine Callaghan, 571st MSAS mission commander for Honduras, "This was a fantastic opportunity to build a partnership and advise our Honduran partners on how to maximize their resources to promote regional stability, which in turn prevents conflict, thus protecting U.S. and partner nation interests."

During the fuels seminar air advisors worked alongside Honduran air force members to establish standardized fuels operations within the FAH. They focused on development, implementation and adoption of a fuels quality assurance program.

The course also included implementation of fuels emergency procedures. The fuels QA program was an important step in ensuring the Hondurans have a safe, efficient and effective fuels program to support their flying operations.

In addition to fuels, other seminars were aimed at improving procedures for maintaining, operating and protecting aircraft involved in counter-narcotics operations. The maintenance seminar covered basic ground handling and servicing of aircraft, as well as instruction on maintaining a variety of aircraft systems key to optimizing operation of the platform.

A major focus of the maintenance team was to improve FAH maintenance programs to enhance their Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance role in the joint counter-narcotics effort in Honduras.

Air advisors personnel also provided instruction on intelligence and airborne sensor operations. These efforts should improve the Honduran air force's intelligence procedures as well as increase understanding on how ISR systems work and how to plan missions.

"Having a strong partnership with the Honduran air force and navy not only provides guidance to set standards but enables mutual support and cooperation to better improve their joint force," said Tech. Sgt. Francisco Realegeno, 571st MSAS intelligence air advisor.

The aircraft security seminar focused on assessing and improving hangar, base and flight line procedures to protect counter-narcotics assets. FAH members performed vulnerability assessments and streamlined their challenge and detain methods.

"We were able to develop standard operating procedures to present to our leadership on aircraft security as well as create an operational instruction regarding security procedures," said Teniente Antonio Durón, base security supervisor, HCM, FAH.

With both MSAS and Air Force Reserve Command support, the Honduran air force is now better postured to support and execute ISR missions for counter-drug operations in key areas. The partnership built between the US and Honduras will serve to increase stability in the region and promote current and future cooperation and friendship between the two countries.

Face of Defense: Soldier’s Creativity Benefits Mission, Morale



By Army Spc. Reginald M. Graham Jr.
16th Combat Aviation Brigade

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, June 23, 2014 – An allied trade specialist with Task Force Bellator here uses his creativity not only to enhance his unit’s mission effectiveness, but also to raise his morale.

Army Sgt. Marshall R. Meeks enlisted as a metal worker in 2006. As the Army transitioned, his military occupational specialty was combined with the machinist specialty to produce more versatile soldiers.

Meeks, a San Antonio native, said he enlisted as a way to expand on abilities he had developed in his civilian life. “I used to be a mechanic, [used to] build houses, and was a freelance contractor,” he said. “I joined the Army to be a welder.”

Now serving on his third deployment, Meeks transitioned from supporting ground units most of his career to supporting aviation with the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade. His ability to weld, mold and create products from scratch makes him a highly sought commodity among the unit’s logisticians, mechanics, crew chiefs, pilots and senior leaders.

“Being in a welding shop is a real spotlight,” he said. “A lot of people get you to build a lot of different stuff. They will give me a blueprint with tolerances. … As long as you make it to that print, then you are good to go.”

Meeks assisted soldiers in his support battalion by building a cart to carry Hellfire missiles and their cases, which weigh almost 250 pounds each. Moving each case used to require four soldiers carrying it, but now the task requires just one soldier rolling a cart.

Meeks said that on a previous deployment, he was shown a picture of a missile cart, but it carried only the missile and not the case. “I made one so the whole [case] fit in there,” he said. “You can just take the top off … and have the bottom half roll under the wing of the [helicopter].”

When Meeks is not making something for missions, he is turning his military trade into a hobby. In the middle of a work area filled with blowtorches, welding helmets and scrap metal stands an array of animal figurines made from leftover metal that otherwise would be thrown away after a job.

Meeks said he and other soldiers in his shop were off work one day and decided the scraps could be made into things worth keeping. He now uses the shop’s scraps and his imagination to make the figurines out of what would be junk.

Meanwhile, Meeks continues to build his future.

“My next big goal is to finish my schooling,” he said, noting that he has accumulated 28 semester hours in engineering and welding science.

With 12-hour work days, constant requests for missions and a continuation of bettering himself, Meeks said, he has found a way to create an environment that enables individuality within the confines of the unit.

“You can make anything you want as long as you have imagination and the will to do it,” he said.

McConnell AFB to hold KC-46A Pegasus groundbreaking ceremony

from 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

6/23/2014 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- 
A ground breaking ceremony for the incoming KC-46A Pegasus is scheduled to take place at McConnell Air Force Base, June 30, 2014 at 11 a.m.

Gen. Darren McDew, Air Mobility Command commander, Brig. Gen. John Flournoy, Jr., 4th Air Force Reserve Command commander, and other distinguished visitors will participate in the ceremony.

McConnell AFB will be the first active duty-led main operating base for the new aircraft. Air Force officials announced plans to construct a 2-Bay Corrosion Control and Fuel Cell Hangar, a 3-Bay General Maintenance Hangar, 1-Bay General Maintenance Hangar and an Aircraft Parking Apron.

The $197 million hangar contract for McConnell Air Force Base was awarded Thursday, May 22 to Archer Western Aviation Partners of Chicago, Illinois.

Media who would like to attend must R.S.V.P. no later than June 25, 2014 via 22.pa@us.af.mil or contact the Public Affairs office at (316) 759-3141.

Entrance to the ceremony will only be granted to personnel who have coordinated media passes.