Military News

Friday, June 27, 2014

New commander to lead 65th Air Base Wing

by Capt. Mark Graff
65th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


6/26/2014 - LAJES FIELD, Azores -- Col. Martin Rothrock assumed command of the 65th Air Base Wing during a change of command ceremony here June 26. Rothrock took command from Col. Chris Bargery, who had commanded the wing since July 2012. Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, 3rd Air Force commander, presided over the ceremony.

Rothrock arrives at Lajes Field from the Republic of Korea where he was Chief of the Joint 3/4 Theater Antiterroism, Force Protection and Critical Infrastructure Division for United States Forces Korea. He is a career security forces officer and a veteran of six overseas assignments and deployments.

Rothrock is a 1990 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree. He has earned four Master's Degrees from various civilian and military institutions.

Bargery departs to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, where he will command the Air Force Security Forces Center. He will direct the AFSFC's day-to-day operations and lead three Air Staff divisions and two geographically separated corrections facilities.

Check back to Lajes Link for updates to this story. 

The 65th Air Base Wing is the American unit stationed at Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal. This U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa unit is the largest U.S. military organization in the Azores. The wing plays a vital role in combat operations by enabling the expeditionary movement of war fighters, warplanes and global communications to combatant commanders and supporting Joint, Coalition and NATO operations as part of U.S. and Allied Air Expeditionary Forces.

US Olympian Graduates 'A' School in Mississippi



By Penny Randall, Naval Air Station Meridian Public Affairs

NAVAL AIR STATION MERIDIAN, Miss. (NNS) -- Rodney Martin may hold the title of U.S. Olympian, but he is now referred to as U.S. Navy Seaman Rodney Martin - a title he says is just as special.

Martin, 31, was a member of the 4x100 relay team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and earned a gold medal in track and field at the 2007 World Championships.

Martin, who calls Las Vegas home, holds a bachelor's degree in criminology from the University of South Carolina. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in February 2014, after boot camp he arrived at Naval Technical Training Center on board Naval Air Station Meridian to learn his job specialty.

"Most of the student population here is 18 years old, so I'm ancient - I'm a nerd," Martin said. "I love the yeoman rating. I got the highest GPA in the class. The instructors did a great job presenting the information. I'm confident know that when I get to the fleet I will know my job."

Martin's next step is to attend submarine school and begin paperwork for the All Navy Sports Team.

"I am equally proud of Martin's accomplishments on the athletic field as his commitment to our nation and Navy," said Cmdr. Robert Stockton, commanding officer of Naval Technical Training Center Meridian. "He is the embodiment of our core values, truly believes in being a part of something bigger than himself and represents the finest our nation has to offer."

Martin said he did his research before deciding on which branch of the service to join.

"My family is big on the military, but it's the Army that my father and grandfather served in. The Navy's ethos of Honor, Courage and Commitment really spoke to me - especially commitment. It takes a lot of commitment to reach the Olympics and the Navy is big on commitment."

Martin was recently asked to participate in the opening cermoney of the State Games of Mississippi. He took the stage with two other Olympian who are Mississippi natives. George Wilson earned a gold medal in basketball in the 1964 Tokyo games and Midrette Netter ran the third leg of the U.S.'s 4x100 women's relay team that won a gold medal in 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

"It was such an honor to stand along side two great Olympians," Martin said. "I did not earn a medal my year, but I'm extremely proud to have had the chance to reach the Olympics."

Martin said there is no greater pleasure for him than to be able to give back to his country, one that has given him so many opportunities.

In fact, his goal is to once again step onto the field with the U.S. All-Navy Sports Team.

"It's a time to pave another path for myself - the Navy offers a wealth of opportunities and I want to take advantage of them," Martin said. "I'm looking at the 2016 Olympics. It was disappointed to not earn a medal in 2008. I ran the first lead, but two guys dropped the baton and it costs us the medal."

Martin's fifth-place 100m finish at the 2008 Olympic trials placed him in the 4x100m relay pool for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Martin set personal bests in 2008 in the 100 meters (9.95).

An estimated 5,000 people packed downtown Meridian for the opening ceremonies June 20.

"The age range of the athletics was shocking," Martin said. "Kids came up to me wanted high-fives and to take photos with me. I told them all to keep up the hard work...athletics can take you far. It took me to the Olympics, paid for my college and gave me many, many opportunities to travel the world. But I also want to tell the athletes to have fun with it. I took my career very seriously - the way I ate, the way I trained - I missed out on activities in my youth. You can still have a normal life and be a great athlete. I know God gave me a gift, I can naturally run faster than most people. I don't think I realized it when I was young. Now I embrace it and hopefully I can do more great things with the All Navy Sports Team."

Former command chief remembers career

by Senior Airman Michael Battles
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


6/26/2014 - Aviano Air BASE, Italy  -- Education is the foundation for every story written. As an Air Force chief master sergeant, education is a tool to write not only his story, but the story of every Airman he came into contact with.

For three decades, retired Chief Master Sgt. Don Schroeder moved through countless assignments, experienced both happy and painful moments and adapted to changes from a forever-growing Air Force, which guided him to his final position as a command chief.

On May 16, 1980, Schroeder a young 23-year-old, enlisted as a firefighter in the U.S. Air Force.

"I really wanted to do something different," Schroeder said. "I was a mailman at the time and loved it, but I couldn't see myself doing it for 20 years. I saw the Air Force and knew I had to do it."

After completion of basic and technical training, the new Air Force firefighter moved to his first duty location: Royal Air Force Greenham-Common. According to Schroeder, his inspiration to become a firefighter was the result of the May, 1979, Beverly Hills Supper Club fire tragedy in northern Kentucky that took the lives of 165 people. Schroeder is a native of Covington, Ky.

After his second duty assignment, RAF Fairford, Schroeder decided he wanted another change in his life and cross-trained into education and training. Education would become the foundation for not only his military career, but his post-military life.

"While at Fairford, I started conducting fire prevention training for the base populace and really enjoyed it," Schroeder said. "Upon making staff sergeant, I had the opportunity to retrain into Education and Training under the Careers Program. I quickly volunteered so I could help Air Force personnel in more aspects than just fire prevention."

After cross-training, Schroeder transitioned through two more assignments including Robins AFB and RAF Lakenheath as an education and training manager before arriving at one of his favorite assignments -- Headquarters Air Force Office of Special Investigations at Bolling AFB.

"We would develop and create realistic scenarios to train the new agents," said Schroeder. "I loved playing the bad guy, it was the best part."

During the next several years, Schroeder progressed through the ranks and multiple education and training positions at Scott, McChord and Mountain Home air force bases. Mountain Home AFB became a particularly memorable duty station for him since it was where he was stationed on Sept. 11, 2001.

As a then newly promoted chief, Schroeder recalls the details of that day as if it were yesterday.

"Back then Mountain Home was known as one of two 911 wings for the Air Force," said Schroeder. "During 9/11 it was our turn to be the on-call wing, so as soon as the attack happened our base was activated to support the mission."

Working as a maintenance training flight chief at the time, Schroeder transitioned into war time operations, and with his staff assumed the role as the cargo deployment function.

"Our mission was to work with our aerial port to ensure the needed materials were getting processed and sent over to support the war," he said.

As the war overseas began to move forward, so did Schroeder. Leaving in Mountain Home AFB post 9/11, Schroeder moved on to his new position at RAF Alconbury as air mail terminal postal detachment chief, which meant he was responsible for all mail movement for Air Force military bases within the United Kingdom

RAF Alconbury would be Schroeder's last overseas assignment while on active duty, but he was elated to accept his next stateside assignment as the 17th Training Wing, Goodfellow AFB's command chief.

When asked how he felt about his selection for command chief Schroeder responded, "I was filled with both excitement and anticipation when I was selected to be a command chief, and completely humbled to have that opportunity."

Schroeder would serve as the command chief at two wings.

"I have always been about trying to make a difference and help people the best I can," he said. "First, and foremost, it has always been and continues to be about our Air Force and the people we serve."

While serving as the 17th TW command chief, Schroeder met two Airmen, SrA Brian Kolfage and A1C Elizabeth Jacobson who would change his outlook on the Air Force forever.

Jacobson lost her life and Kolfage sustained injuries, both in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"As the command chief, the commander and I had to notify the security forces squadron of Koflage's injuries and the death of Airman Jacobson," he said. "That was my first experience with that type of situation and the hardest. It really hit home of what we are here to do, and one reason why I continue to thank our SFS members for "doing what they do" as I enter any gate on our Air Force bases."

As if the responsibilities of being a command chief wasn't enough, between wing assignments Schroeder took an assignment as the vice commandant of the College for Enlisted Professional Military Education, which is now called the Barnes Center at Maxwell-Gunter AFB, Ala.

On June 1, 2010, after 12 assignments, Schroeder retired from U.S. Air Force as the command chief of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild AFB.

After three decades of service, Schroeder said one of his proudest moments was watching his son and grandson follow in his Air Force footsteps.

As a civilian, he continues to serve the Air Force within the education world. Working in education center, Schroeder serves as an education services specialist where his duties include conducting education briefs throughout the wing, facilitating higher education workshops for transitioning personnel, discussing GI Bill benefits with military and veterans, and assisting customers with their off duty education goals.

After years in the education environment, Schroeder also left service members with one last piece of advice.

"Remember we are here to serve our country and it's not about us," he said. "Be the best Airman you can be both on and off duty, get involved in the community and get your education. The better you make yourself, the better you make the Air Force."

Leave no man behind: Joint-service search, rescue integration

by Airman 1st Class Ryan Conroy
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


6/26/2014 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- U.S. Airmen and Soldiers integrated combat search and rescue capabilities during training exercises, June 23, at Cellina Meduna training grounds near Maniago, Italy.

The training aimed to enhance interoperability between sister services, allowing Team Aviano personnel an opportunity to practice potential real-world scenarios.

"Heaven forbid we have a real-world downed pilot behind enemy lines -- we don't want that to be our first experience rescuing them," said Col. Scott Price, 31st Medical Squadron chief of flight medicine. "Nowadays, our services are more integrated than ever and it's more realistic that way. Air Force doesn't only rescue Air Force and Army doesn't only rescue Army. We work as a team and this helps streamline the process."

Establishing a good relationship with other branches of the U.S. military helps mitigate risk and confusion in the event of a real-life situation requiring military intervention and assistance, said Price.

The exercise included the assimilation of 12th Combat Aviation Brigade UH-60 Black Hawk medical and AH-64 Apache assault helicopters, 510th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcons; 31st Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists and dozens of "opposing forces" on the ground.

"The Air Force and the Army have a great responsibility to ensure we have the ability to recover isolated personnel," said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wilson, 31st OSS SERE specialist. "The capability must be maintained so that we can ensure the safe return of our men and women if they find themselves isolated."

This is the second time the 31st FW has hosted the 12th CAB for joint training. This time, a more in-depth training was held to incorporate medical scenarios in the field and on return from a "combat environment."

An advanced medical simulator dummy was incorporated into the scenario along with one pilot from the 555th Fighter Squadron, who served as the downed pilots. An opposing ground force consisting of four vehicles and 20 personnel were involved and served as dynamic targets for the air assets to engage.

The pilot is taught all the things necessary to evade capture and get recovered successfully. These things include movement, camouflage and signaling techniques. He is also taught how to operate his survival radio and other aircraft-specific survival equipment.

"Training and working closely with the CSAR helicopter assets is an added benefit here, because they are our main source of transportation to isolated personnel," Wilson said. "They provide an excellent training platform for us. We work congruently to help each other keep up on mandatory training requirements."

After the pilot is rescued, Soldiers and Airmen worked hand-in-hand to treat the "patients" to ensure proper medical attention was received. The practice ensures a seamless transition between the two services.

"SERE originally wanted to include helicopters into their monthly isolation training for a more realistic experience in the field for pilots," said Price. "We figured a lot of downed pilots are also injured and wanted to incorporate that into the scenarios. Having an injury in the field makes it reprehensibly more difficult to survive across the board and utilizing up-to-date training such as this only increases the chances of survival in the real world."

With such an in-depth training regimen performed this quarter, there are those behind the scenes coordinating for the next iteration.

"I think we learned a lot from the 12th CAB's last visit as far as how much we could expand our training capabilities for these joint exercises," said Tech. Sgt. Ashley Shows, 31st FW Plans and Programs NCO in charge. "This training was much more in depth and I only see it continuing to grow. We have learned lessons every time, which we can improve on the next time. New personnel bring new ideas and the environment here at Aviano provides great training opportunities for these types of exercises."

RTC Holds Change of Command Ceremony



By Brian Walsh, Recruit Training Command Public Affairs

GREAT LAKES (NNS) -- Recruit Training Command (RTC) held a traditional change of command ceremony at Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall, June 25.

Capt. Douglas Pfeifle relieved Capt. John Dye as commanding officer.

Commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), Rear Adm. Rich A. Brown, was the keynote speaker at the ceremony.

"There is not a commanding officer in the entire Navy who has had a more significant impact than Capt. Dye has had here at RTC," said Brown. "In the short time I've been here, I have truly been impressed with his energy. You only have to attend one graduation to understand the reason - the pride and energy is palpable. You had the honor of introducing family, friends and loved ones to the newest, sharpest Sailors that the United States Navy has to offer. As someone who has met many of the young Sailors you have launched on their Navy journey, I can attest to the fact that you have done a superb job in training them."

More than 300 special guests, Sailors and friends and family of the command were on hand for the ceremony.

"I certainly could not have accomplished anything at this command without the support from my family and the military and civilian staff members assigned to RTC. Thank you for your unwavering dedication," said Dye during his final remarks as commanding officer of RTC. "I leave 'The Quarterdeck of the Navy' knowing that the command is in good hands."

While serving as commanding officer, Dye led more than 1,100 military and civilian staff members in the training of nearly 80,000 recruits during their transition from civilians to basically trained U.S. Navy Sailors. He hosted 96 Pass-in-Reviews for the Navy's most senior leadership, dignitaries and family and friends of graduating recruits.

Dye will next serve in Norfolk, Virginia as the director for Naval Education Training Command's (NETC) Learning and Development division.

Pfeifle, a native of Lexington, Kentucky was commissioned through the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of Pennsylvania in May 1991. Prior to taking the helm at RTC, he led as commanding officer of Helicopter Sea Combat Weapons School Pacific and managed the Navy Marine Corps Flying Hour Program at the Pentagon.

"Recruit Training Command is unlike any other command in the Navy," said Pfeifle. "The opportunity to mold and train these new Sailors for service in the fleet is a humbling responsibility. It will be an honor to forge the next generation of leaders in our Navy."

RTC is primarily responsible for conducting the initial Navy orientation and training of new recruits. The command is commonly referred to as "boot camp" or "recruit training".

Boot camp is approximately eight weeks, and all enlistees into the United States Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms familiarization, firefighting and shipboard damage control, lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. Since the closure of RTCs in Orlando and San Diego in 1994, RTC Great Lakes is, today, the Navy's only basic training location, and is known as "The Quarterdeck of the Navy." Today, approximately 38,000 recruits graduate annually from RTC and begin their Navy careers.

RTC is overseen by Brown and his Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) staff, headquartered in Building 1; the historic clock tower building on Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill. NSTC oversees 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy. NSTC also includes the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps at more than 160 colleges and universities, OTC Newport, and Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.

Face of Defense: U.S. Soldiers Host Bosnian EOD Technicians



By Walter Ham
20th Support Command (CBRNE)

FORT BELVOIR, Va., June 27, 2014 – When the war in Bosnia ended in 1995, it was one of the most heavily mined countries on Earth.

Almost 20 years later, Bosnian army explosive ordnance disposal technicians are visiting U.S. Army EOD technicians in the United States.

"Bosnia has a unique EOD challenge," said Army Capt. David Watkins, commander of the 55th EOD Company based here. "The country is heavily mined with both anti-personnel and anti-tank landmines. Recently, heavy flooding has proposed an even more complex problem as minefields are shifting to unmarked areas."

Watkins said the Bosnian army EOD visit is part of the National Guard-managed State Partnership Program and an American team from the 32nd Civil Support Team traveled to Bosnia in April.

During their current visit to the U.S., the Bosnian EOD troops will observe Exercise Ravens Challenge, a joint and interagency exercise hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Bosnian army is preparing to conduct new missions, said Watkins, an Atlanta native who served in Afghanistan.

"The Bosnian army is looking to do a mission shift from strictly homeland defense to more of a civil support role for emergencies," he said.

"These [military to military] swaps give American and Bosnian soldiers the chance to train together and refine best practices for ensuring the safety of the public," Watkins added.

Part of the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the 55th EOD Company provides support to the national capital region and the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

With specialized units serving on 19 military installations in 16 states, the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-based 20th CBRNE Command is the U.S. Army's only formation tasked to combat chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats.

Sikorsky wins Combat Rescue Helicopter contract

6/27/2014 - WASHINGTON -- The Department of Defense announced June 26 that Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Stratford, Connecticut, has been awarded a $1,277,618,606 fixed-price-incentive-firm at target price/firm-fixed-price contract for the initial engineering, manufacturing and development Combat Rescue Helicopter program. 

The CRH program will replace the aging HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter with new air vehicles, training systems, and product support required for the Personnel Recovery mission.

The requirement is for 112 new air vehicles (most probable quantity); however, the contract has been structured to handle fluctuations of quantities. The contract will include the development, integration, production, and initial sustainment of the entire CRH system.

Work will be performed at Stratford, Connecticut, and is expected to be completed by June 2029, if all options are exercised. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition. If all options are exercised, the total contract amount is estimated at $7,900,000,000.

One offer was received in response to the solicitation issued Oct. 19, 2012. Fiscal 2013 and 2014 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $298,458,978 are being obligated at time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/WISV, Rotary Wing Branch of Special Operations Forces and Personnel Recovery Division/ISR Directorate, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8629-14-C-2403).

Spokane resident earns more than wings as pilot for a day

by Tech. Sgt. Michael L. Brown
141st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


6/25/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Most pilots go through months of training and receive several certifications before grabbing the yoke of an aircraft. Sam Diaz, an 8-year-old-boy from Spokane, Washington, recently earned his honorary pilot's wings over the course of a single work day here June 18. His wings earn him a spot as an honorary pilot in the 116th Air Refueling Wing; but it is outside the aircraft that really matters to Sam.

The weather-loving third-grader been diagnosed with epidermolysis bullosa, a rare genetic skin disorder that causes wounds all over the body due to extremely fragile skin. That doesn't stop Sam from living life. Sam's interests include playing soccer, learning about science and he loves tornados and hurricanes.

"He checks weather radar daily," his mother, Allison said. "He really hopes to see a tornado someday."

It wasn't a surprise when Sam's face lit up at the weather shop, during his visit with the Air Force meteorologists. . When he saw the 3-D weather radar a big smile crept across his face. The weather shop explained to Sam why monitoring and producing weather reports are important to the Air Force and how weather affects flight operations. Sam learned how to use a handheld weather meter and a lensatic compass. Staff Sgt. William Guthrie then took Sam outside and let him put what he learned to practical use. He judged the wind speed and direction, which is critical information to a pilot landing a KC-135 Stratotanker here at Fairchild.

"I have a special present for you," said Guthrie. "You get to take home that weather meter."

Sam's eyes got wide with disbelief, and then a rush of happiness washed over his face. "Thank you," Sam said while playing with his new gadget.

"That's not all, I think Mr. Scheidt has one more special gift for you," said Guthrie.

As the group moved indoors out of the balmy weather they met Tim Scheidt, he looked at Sam and smiled.

"I have a friend that works down at KHQ, a Mr. Dave Law," said Scheidt. "He is the meteorologist there and would love to have you visit to tour the studio and see a news weather station."

At this point the excitement is visible on Sam and his parents face.

"That is so great," said Allison, "We have been trying to get him into a live news weather station for some time."

Sam also visited the Aircrew Flight Equipment shop, the Flight Safety Simulator, the Fairchild Fire Department and toured a KC-135 Stratotanker and a UH-72A Lakota Helicopter.

At each stop Sam was introduced to the military personnel responsible for each section and each gave him a demonstration of what they do there. Night Vision Goggles and survival gear were demonstrated to Sam at Aircrew Flight Equipment; he got to fly the flight simulator and control the computer terminal for the boom operator simulator at flight safety; and then he got to control and put out a fire with a water cannon mounted to one of the fire trucks at the fire training site.

At the end of the day he was brought back to the 116th Air Refueling Squadron for the official "pinning on" ceremony presided over by the 141st Air Refueling Wing Commander Col. Daniel J. Swain.

When Col. Swain asked Sam what his favorite part of the day was there was a long pause while he thought of all the things he had done, then, "the weather guys," Sam said. "And I liked the flight simulator," Sam said. "It was cool."

Communicators Practice Joint Interoperability Skills



By David Vergun
Army News Service

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., June 27, 2014 – Napoleon Bonaparte once said: "The secret of war lies in the communications."

This is as true today as it was two centuries ago.

The Army, along with its sister services, allies and first responders from across the country tested those lines of communications during a month-long Joint Users Interoperability Communications Exercise, or JUICE, which ends today.

Leading the Army's portion is U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, or CECOM, located here, the communications hub of JUICE.

On 9/11, the diverse array of first responders to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were in many cases not able to communicate with each other over their radios. The same situation occurred during operations in Haiti, said John R. Kahler, team lead for the Joint On-demand Interoperability Network.

"We don't want that ever happening again," said Kahler, an Army civilian who has participated in annual JUICE exercises since they began 21 years ago.

This year is the first time organizations within the Department of Homeland Security, first responders from across the U.S. state emergency operations centers and the U.S. military and its allies were able to "communicate seamlessly," he said.

The umbrella these entities operated under is known as the Defense Support of Civil Authorities. DSCA is not just for training. In a real emergency, it would be activated, so this accomplishment is especially significant, he said.

"They didn't have to buy any special gear or anything else. They came to the battle with their own gear, hooked it up, and they were very happy," he added, explaining that their special multimedia software enabled this to happen.

The exercise scenario included an earthquake with power outages, so exercise players had portable power on-site at various locations throughout the world that were solar powered so communications would not be disrupted, he said.

The exercise also evaluated communications security and protection.

Kahler called it a "real war," with more than three million "hits" occurring. A hit might include someone trying to or successfully hacking into the system to monitor communications. It might also include the installation of malware to disrupt the exercise.

Every year of JUICE there's been an increase in attacks, but every year, the situational awareness of the JUICE participants has also increased, he said.

There had been discussions for forming a red team or an enemy player, but "we don't need a red team," Kahler said.

"We've got plenty of red players out there attempting to get into our network,” he said. “We're in the middle of a battle right now."

Air Force Maj. Stefano McGhee, director of the Joint Cyber Center for JUICE, explained how intruders are battled.

Joint Cyber Center comes up with solutions, should an intruder be detected in one of the world-wide networks. That solution is then sent to the Joint Network Control Center, which executes the solution by adding it to the database and installing a protective filter.

Most of the uniformed participants in JUICE are National Guard or Reserve service members. And most of those, McGhee said, work civilian jobs in information technology.

McGhee himself is in the Rhode Island Air National Guard and he said he is always in close communications with his Army Guard brethren, since nearly all missions and training they perform is in a joint environment.

The skills these citizen-warriors perform in JUICE are very similar to what they do outside the military. "We're basically geeks," he said.

Marine Corps Lt. Col. Grant Johnson, U.S. Strategic Command, said the exercise is incredibly important to what he normally does on the battlefield, which is flying F/A-18 Hornet jets in support of forces on the ground.

As a pilot, Johnson said he needs seamless communication on the ground with the soldiers, Marines and coalition forces he's supporting.

Just as important is protecting the homeland during earthquakes, floods or man-made disasters, he added.

Air Force Col. Eric Good, JUICE communicator, said in addition to ensuring secure and working communications across the services and civilian agencies, this exercise gives operators a chance to, "plan, collaborate, coordinate" tactics, techniques and procedures, as well as to learn about the cultures of other agencies, which may call the same piece of gear or system by a different name.

Air Force Maj. Chris Wimberly, JNCC officer-in-charge, said that in addition to uniformed personnel, contractors, armed forces civilians, and industry representatives are involved in the exercise.

Having technical representatives present “allows us to understand their technology and be able to use it more effectively without having to go through their training courses," Wimberly said.

While JUICE is an important annual exercise, the involvement of CECOM continues year-round in the form of the Joint On-demand Interoperability Network, or JOIN, of which JUICE is a part.

Power cords and cables hang down in cages overhead in a stadium-sized building at Aberdeen, so they can be quickly and easily accessed for re-routing as new hardware and software comes in for testing by JOIN personnel.

"JOIN provides a distributed testing environment in which systems can be tested across the same environment and can be leveraged to connect the tactical community into the acquisition community so they can test the sustainment, new software and new hardware, set up software and hardware and operate it," Kahler said.

JOIN also saves the services money and man hours by testing and setting up networks at Aberdeen to locations worldwide, he said.

For instance, when the Army conducts its annual network integration evaluation exercises, JOIN will pre-test all of the gear that will be used to ensure it's in working order and networked correctly, Kahler said.

During the Network Integration Evaluation event itself, labs at Aberdeen participate by collecting data for scientists and researchers to pore over so they don't have to send their people out to Texas and New Mexico, he said.

That type of assistance occurs across the services worldwide all the time, Kahler added.

JOIN also helps with systems certification and has a working relationship with Joint Interoperability Test Center at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, he said.

"So if a program manager has a system that's prepared for joint certification, rather than send it out there for 45 days with technicians, we can do it remotely here on site and watch and document the test results," Kahler explained.