Tuesday, July 01, 2014

JASDF trains, excels during RF-A

by Senior Airman Zachary Perras
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

7/1/2014 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- RED FLAG-Alaska is a melting pot of different units from around the world, all training to accomplish the same goal: Mission success among allied and coalition partners.

The familiar faces of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force members are among those here at Eielson during RF-A 14-2, and the roar of their Mitsubishi F-15J Eagles is a welcome sound.

The JASDF is no rookie to RF-A, having participated in numerous exercises over the years. Still, they always arrive with the mentality that there is something new to learn each year.

"This is an excellent environment for training, one that we're proud to be a part of," said Maj. Taro Murao, JASDF F-15 pilot. "When we participate and cooperate with other nations, we learn not only a lot about them, but a lot about ourselves as well."

Historically, if a pilot survives his or her first 10 combat sorties, their ability to make it through an entire campaign dramatically increases. During RF-A, Eielson's 18th Aggressor Squadron aims to simulate those first 10 sorties through realistic combat experience to help increase participants' survivability and lethality.

"Every year we've come to RED FLAG, we look for ways we need to improve," said Murao. "We take those lessons learned back to Japan and seek ways to increase our capabilities as well as help our junior pilots learn the bigger picture of training with our allies."

With the help of the 18th AGRS, JASDF pilots have been able to experience "combat" in a simulated environment under conditions that are more challenging than any they are likely to face in a real-world engagement, said Maj. Robert Lindblom, 353rd Combat Training Squadron RF-A 14-2 team chief.

"The JASDF integrated extremely well with their allied partners and contributed to overall mission success," said Lindblom. "They truly seem to improve every year."

Murao said he looks forward to participating in RF-A in the years to come and is eager to develop a better understanding with allied partners in a joint environment.

"Through this exercise and with the help of U.S. forces, we're able to understand each other's capabilities. In turn, we can do our best to help one another in the future," he said. "The bilateral training ability of RED FLAG allowed us to expand our fighter tactics and has given us a great chance to show what the JASDF can do."

15th Wing bids "aloha" to new commander

by Tech. Sgt. Terri Paden
15th Wing Public Affairs

6/30/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- The 15th Wing guidon was passed to Col. Randall Huiss, 15th Wing commander, June 27 symbolizing the formal transfer of leadership of the wing from Col. Johnny Roscoe during a change of command ceremony on the flightline at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

"Men and women of the 15th Wing, I look forward to meeting each of you and facing these challenges in the days and weeks ahead," he said. "Our job is to be ready and provide options for our senior leaders. This is something we cannot take lightly as failure is not an option. We'll practice safe mission execution as we take care of our nation's business. In short, our job is to ensure that when our president threatens with a clenched fist or offers with an open hand, that his words become reality."

Huiss went on to declare total support for his new Airmen.

"I pledge to you my unwaivering commitment to your mission readiness, your health and welfare and the safety and security of you and your families," he said. "I'm here to serve rather than be served and I've experienced no greater honor and responsibility than to stand beside you as your commander."

Huiss thanked Roscoe for his leadership and incredible hospitality before addressing the formation of Airmen.

"[Roscoe] obviously left some very big shoes to fill," said Huiss just after taking command. "My goal is to build upon those relationships and the success he fostered with the hopes of taking the wing's performance to even greater heights."

During the ceremony, Roscoe was awarded the Legion of Merit for exceptional meritorious conduct and performance of outstanding services as the 15th WG commander. Roscoe is now retired after 26 years of Air Force service.

Among the many things accomplished under Roscoe's tour as commander were the activation of the Air Force's only active-associate F-22 Raptor squadron, an "EXCELLENT" rating on the wing's consolidated unit inspection and the execution of a total force response to the Philippines for disaster relief after the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded tore through the region.

Huiss is a 1993 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and a command pilot with more than 4, 200 hours in the C-17A, T-37 and T-38. Prior to taking command of the 15th Wing, he was vice commander of the 436th Airlift Wing, Dover Air Force Base, Del., where he served as assistant to the commander for leadership in the combined C-5 and C-17 wing, providing worldwide movement of high priority personnel and cargo.

Cape Ray Arrives in Italy to Receive Syrian Chemicals

By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2014 – The MV Cape Ray docked in the southern Italian port of Gioia Tauro today and will begin transferring Syrian chemical agents and precursor materials soon, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters today.

The Cape Ray will receive about 600 metric tons of material from the MV Ark Futura, a Danish roll-on/roll-off freighter. The transfer is expected to take two to three days, Kirby said.

Once the chemical materials are aboard the Cape Ray, the ship will “transit to international waters to neutralize the chemical agents in a safe and environmentally sound manner,” Air Force Gen. Phillip M. Breedlove, the commander of U.S. European Command, said yesterday during a news conference.

Two shipboard field deployable hydrolysis systems -- developed specifically for this mission -- will take about 60 days to neutralize the materials, a defense official said.

“The mission to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons program has been a major undertaking marked by an extraordinary international cooperation,” said Ahmet Uzumcu, the director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, one of the organizations overseeing the transfer.

“Never before has an entire arsenal of a category of weapons of mass destruction been removed from a country experiencing a state of internal armed conflict,” Uzumcu said. “And this has been accomplished within very demanding and tight timeframes.”

Syria declared and delivered 1,300 metric tons of chemical materials, the defense official said. While the Cape Ray will destroy about 600 metric tons of that material, the remainder is being delivered to commercial and government facilities in Europe and the United States for destruction.

The materials to be destroyed include sulfur mustard, or HD -- commonly referred to as mustard gas -- and methylphosphonyl difluoride, or DF, which is a precursor agent to sarin and soman, both nerve agents.

Once neutralized, the remaining material is considered hazardous waste, but can no longer be used to create chemical weapons. The hazardous byproducts from the Cape Ray will be processed by facilities in Germany and Finland, the defense official said.

Joint chemical weapons teams from the OPCW and the United Nations began securing Syrian chemical sites in early October, and the Syrian government handed over the last of its declared chemical stockpiles June 23.

“This is a unique mission, and the whole process has been an excellent example of international collaboration under the joint UN-OPCW mission,” the defense official said.

“We are proud to be able to contribute to this mission, along with our international partners and the OPCW,” the official added. “We're also very proud of the team aboard Cape Ray who has remained prepared for this mission for several months as the Syrians delivered their materials. We're pleased that they can now begin their critical work.”

Face of Defense: Airman Brings Military Discipline to Cycling

By Air Force Senior Airman Nesha Humes
11th Wing

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md., July 1, 2014 – It was summer 2007 in Wausau, Wisconsin. David Flaten, now a senior airman assigned here, had completed his first mountain bike race through the 9-mile forest course with no racing experience and only a simple knowledge of cycling. But after regaining the feeling in his legs, he said, he knew he had fallen in love.

In January 2013, just three years after enlisting and with eight years of experience cycling, Flaten started racing professionally.

"I apply a lot of my military bearing in my training and racing. It's important to treat every competitor with respect," he said. "I take pride in taking care of my bike and equipment, just as I take pride in wearing the uniform."

Flaten is ranked 43rd on a list of 250 for cross-country mountain bikers, according to USA cycling, the official cycling organization responsible for identifying, training and selecting cyclists to represent the United States in international competition. He participated in the 2013 Conseil International du Sport Militaire cycling competition in Belgium as one of two active-duty cycling professionals for the Armed Forces Cycling Team.

To be selected for that elite group, a cyclist must be rated as a professional mountain biker or as a Category 1 road cyclist.

Flaten said he is most proud of his continuous self-motivation and added that he is "always pedaling in a forward direction."

The 21-year-old's training includes core exercises, stretching and high-intensity cycling on roadways and through mountain terrain. He works out at least 20 hours a week. Clean eating, staying hydrated and resting are a 24/7 discipline, he said.

"The drive you have to force yourself to [train] is more important than being able to physically turn over the pedals," he said. "I get a lot of satisfaction from the hard work I put in every day. I'm hoping that the top step on the podium someday will make it all worth it."

Flaten attributes his successes to his family, friends, military leadership and his coach, 2003 Pan American gold medalist and highly decorated mountain biking professional Jeremiah Bishop.

When Flaten isn't challenging himself biking through back country roads during a rough rainstorm or making a strenuous trek over sun-baked mountains, he is working with the 811th Security Forces Squadron. The squadron is the Air Force's largest protective services unit, providing primary escorts and inner-perimeter security for distinguished visitors here.

"I've often observed Senior Airman Flaten excelling in his duties by providing direct security support to the president of the United States one day and then competing in a world-class cycling event the next," said Air Force Maj. Aaron Rittgers, the 811th SFS commander. "He epitomizes the whole-person concept by giving his all in every area of his life. His exceptional dedication and sacrifice have allowed him to excel both his professional and personal endeavors."

This dedication to his job also led Flaten to be named as the 2013 Airman of the Year for the 11th Security Forces Group.

"The Air Force has certainly helped me maintain structure on a day-to-day basis," Flaten said. "When it comes to work, diet and training, maintaining balance is key to my success."

The military has played a significant role in Flaten's cycling career, he noted, providing more than just a paycheck to cover his racing expenses.

"My leadership has given me encouragement to pursue my dream," Flaten said. "They're almost as invested as I am to get me to the Olympics one day. It's an awesome feeling to have that kind of support, and that is worth way more than any paycheck in my book."

Meanwhile, Flaten is awaiting acceptance into the exclusive Air Force World Class Athlete Program, which allows active-duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve personnel an opportunity to be released from their primary mission for two years to participate at national and international level sporting events. The program makes it possible for selected athletes to train and compete full-time, with the ultimate goal of selection to the U.S. Olympic team.

"Every athlete has a shelf life," he said. "I don't want to look back in 30 years and ask myself, 'Why didn't I give everything I had to be an Olympic athlete?' It would be awesome to be part of a more than a thousand-year-old tradition."

Howard Becomes Navy’s First Woman to Reach Four-star Rank

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2014 – Michelle Janine Howard today became the first woman to attain the rank of four-star admiral in the Navy’s 238-year history during a ceremony at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus presided over the ceremony and administered the oath of office.

"Michelle Howard's promotion to the rank of admiral is the result of a brilliant naval career, one I fully expect to continue when she assumes her new role as vice chief of naval operations, but also it is an historic first, an event to be celebrated as she becomes the first female to achieve this position," Mabus said. "Her accomplishment is a direct example of a Navy that now, more than ever, reflects the nation it serves -- a nation where success is not born of race, gender or religion, but of skill and ability."

Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of naval operations, noted Howard’s success through more than decades of service. "Michelle's many trailblazing accomplishments in her 32 years of naval service are evidence of both her fortitude and commitment to excellence and integrity," he said. "I look forward to many great things to come from the Navy's newest four-star admiral."

Howard, who most recently has served as the deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategy, will relieve Navy Adm. Mark E. Ferguson III as the 38th vice chief of naval operations later today.

Howard is a 1978 graduate of Gateway High School in Aurora, Colorado. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982 and from the Army's Command and General Staff College in 1998 with a master’s degree in military arts and sciences.

Her initial sea tours were aboard USS Hunley and USS Lexington. While serving on board Lexington, she received the secretary of the Navy/Navy League Captain Winifred Collins Award in May 1987. This award is given to one woman officer a year for outstanding leadership.

She reported to USS Mount Hood as chief engineer in 1990 and served in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. She assumed duties as first lieutenant on board the USS Flint in July 1992. In January 1996, she became the executive officer of USS Tortuga and deployed to the Adriatic in support of Operation Joint Endeavor, a peacekeeping effort in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Sixty days after returning from the Mediterranean deployment, Tortuga departed on a West African training cruise, where the ship's sailors, with embarked Marines and U.S. Coast Guard detachment, operated with the naval services of seven African nations.

Howard took command of USS Rushmore on March 12, 1999, becoming the first African-American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy. She was the commander of Amphibious Squadron 7 from May 2004 to September 2005. Deploying with Expeditionary Strike Group 5, operations included tsunami relief efforts in Indonesia and maritime security operations in the North Arabian Gulf. She commanded Expeditionary Strike Group 2 from April 2009 to July 2010. In 2009, Howard deployed to the U.S. Central Command theater, where she commanded the Task Force 151 multinational counterpiracy effort and Task Force 51 expeditionary forces. In 2010, she was the Maritime Task Force commander for Baltic operations under 6th Fleet.

Howard was the USO Military Woman of the Year for 2011 and the NAACP Chairman's Image Award recipient in 2013.

Ramstein C-130s begin deployment to Poland


7/1/2014 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany  -- The U.S. and Polish air forces are participating in bilateral training during a flying training deployment at Powidz Air Base, Poland, July 1- August 31.

During the deployment, three U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules from the 86th Airlift Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, will train with the Polish air force focusing on maintaining joint readiness while building interoperability capabilities.

This training event is in addition to the regularly scheduled C-130 training deployments, which the airlift wing's 37th Airlift Squadron has participated in with Poland twice a year since 2012.

For more information regarding this deployment, contact U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa public affairs at usafepao.pao@us.af.mil or +49 0671 47 6558.

USS Oscar Austin, HSM 72 Sailors Visit Latvian Children's Hospital

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class DJ Revell, Navy Public Affairs Support Element - East

RIGA, Latvia (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 72 participated in a community relations (COMREL) project while the ship made a port visit to Riga, Latvia, June 29.

Sailors assisted Latvia's largest children's hospital by cleaning out a warehouse and also spent time with some of the children.

"It was very rewarding to be able to come out here and help, said Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Shaun Darnell. "With our efforts, the hospital can concentrate their time and efforts for the kids."

The Sailors removed old hospital furniture and supplies no longer in use that was in the warehouse. Later, the hospital's director gave COMREL participants a tour of the hospital.

Sailors were also able to interact with the children of the hospital, showing videos of helicopter operations and allowing them to try on air crew gear.

"It felt great to be able to interact with these kids and show them some of our gear we use for helicopter operations as well as some videos of it," said Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 2nd Class Michael Haines. "They were a little shy at first, but they seemed to enjoy what we had for them and it was great to be able help out today."

Oscar Austin, home ported in Norfolk, Virginia, is conducting naval operations with partners and allies in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in order to advance security and stability in Europe.

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.

Pilots, combat systems officers may be eligible for retention incentives

7/1/2014 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Eligible active-duty pilots and combat systems officers have until Sept. 30 to apply for the fiscal year 2014 Aviator Retention Pay Program, Air Force officials said June 25.

"As we resize our force with the right balance of skills to meet Air Force mission requirements and continue to focus on retaining high-performing Airmen, ARP is a necessary hedge against external factors that could adversely impact the Air Force's rated inventory," said Brig. Gen. Brian Kelly, the director of force management policy.

This year, ARP provides specific eligible pilots and combat systems officers with monetary incentives in exchange for active-duty service commitments of five years, he said. Similar to the fiscal 2013 ARP program, fighter pilots are eligible for longer contracts of up to nine years.

Additionally, the program permits Airmen who will complete their undergraduate flying training active-duty service commitment anytime in fiscal 2015 to lock in a contract for next year. Aviators in this category were not included in past ARP programs, Kelley said.

"The Air Force's early sign-up option will contract aviators to a future service period before their current undergraduate flying training ADSC expires," Kelly said. "Kind of a bird-in-the-hand approach to ARP - since budget pressures and force dynamics have created such a fluid environment. Payments will not begin until after completion of the undergraduate flying training ADSC, but they will be guaranteed."

This year's ARP program applies to lieutenant colonels and below who will not reach 16 years of total active federal military service by the end of the fiscal year that their undergraduate flying training ADSC expires. Applicants must not be eligible for any voluntary or involuntary force management programs as of the implementation of the fiscal 2014 ARP program. Also, these officers must be qualified for operational flying duty and entitled to and receiving monthly flight pay.

Depending on the aviator category and length of the ARP contract, incentives will vary from $15,000 to $25,000 per year with some categories eligible to receive 50 percent of the ARP total payable up front.

"Aviator retention pay remains a viable and cost-effective method to help retain our experienced Air Force aviators and plays a huge role in sustaining a predictable inventory of well-trained rated officers to execute the Air Force's war-fighting mission," Kelly said.

For complete eligibility requirements and application instructions, visit the myPers website, select the compensation link in the left hand column and select the Aviator Continuation Pay Program link.

(Courtesy of Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs)

Youngstown commander shares 910th connection on Capitol Hill

by Master Sgt. Bob Barko Jr.
910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office

6/30/2014 - WASHINGTON, D.C.  -- Air Force Reserve Col. James Dignan, 910th Airlift Wing commander, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, visited the congressional offices of five states during his Capitol Hill visit, June 25 and 26.

Dignan had the opportunity to discuss the 910th's mission as well as several issues concerning the unit and installation during scheduled visits with members of the Ohio and Pennsylvania congressional delegations. The commander met with office staff members from both Ohio senators, a Pennsylvania senator and staffers from House offices representing six districts in the Buckeye state and two in the Keystone state. More than 1200 members of the 910th Airlift Wing are constituents in these congressional districts.

The commander also visited congressional offices representing the states of Kansas, North Dakota and Utah over the course of two days. These visits highlighted the unit's one-of-a-kind mission in the Department of Defense. The commander wanted to make the legislators aware of the wing's unique large area, fixed wing aerial spray capability. He also wanted to share how the 910th's mission contributes to the well-being of the populations of their states and what it brings to the Air Force Reserve and the DoD.

"I want them to know about our unit, our installation, our mission and what it means to them," said Dignan. "I want everyone to know how this great little Northeast Ohio base benefits all of these different states across the country."

The Air Force Reserve Capitol Hill Visit program enables wing commanders to meet annually with congressmen representing their areas. The primary purpose of the program is to assist commanders in improving and building on relationships established with congressional delegations and to increase their unit's visibility with members of Congress.

AFPS, Pentagon Channel, Social Media to Merge as ‘DoD News’

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

FORT MEADE, Md., June 30, 2014 – To better serve the service members and civilian employees of the Defense Department and their families with the latest news about DoD, officials at the Defense Media Activity here are combining three platforms to form a new division they said will better deliver news and information.

On July 8, American Forces Press Service, the Pentagon Channel and Defense Department Social Media are combining as DoD News.

“This merger allows us to harness the power of our delivery platforms while meeting the expectations of our ever-changing audience,” said Cathy Milhoan, DMA's DoD Production director.

New elements of DoD News will include an enhanced website at Defense.gov, integration of Web and video news and features products and a more comprehensive social media conversation, Milhoan said.

The DoD News broadcast channel will provide up-to-date coverage of the most important issues in the Defense Department. Viewers will find an up-to-the minute news ticker that will feature defense news from around the world. New segments – DoD News Now, DoD News Update and DoD News Live -- also will launch on the broadcast channel. Throughout the day, military audiences will be able to view leadership briefings, congressional hearings and similar news events of interest to service members.

AFPS is the oldest brand affected by the consolidation. It began during the Vietnam War as Armed Forces Press File, and was renamed as American Forces Press Service in 1972. From its inception through most of the rest of the 20th century, it was a weekly mailing of camera-ready feature articles, photos and graphics for editors to use in installation newspapers.

Then, the World Wide Web changed everything. With the ability to make articles available to readers directly and as soon as they were written and edited, AFPS evolved into a news service. It continued to be available to installation newspaper editors, but also became available to anyone with an Internet connection.

As AFPS transformed from a feature service for military newspapers to a real-time news outlet for the Defense Department, its reporters began traveling with the secretary of defense and other leaders to report on their activities around the world, and they began covering news events in the Pentagon and wherever DoD-related news was happening.

The Pentagon Channel launched May 14, 2004, with a live broadcast from the Armed Forces Day joint-service open house at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. Since then, it has been on the air 24 hours a day, seven days a week, available to all military installations in the United States via domestic satellite and overseas through the American Forces Radio and Television Service.

The channel continued to evolve, presenting newscasts and original programming, and its reach branched out to include major cable television providers throughout the United States, making it available to service members, civilian employees and their families living outside the installation’s gates.

As social media began to proliferate in the past decade, the Defense Department stood up an “emerging media” branch to reach its audience that way. Quickly, sites such as Twitter and Facebook became far too developed to be thought of as “emerging,” and officials learned that each outlet the department was using to reach its audience could and should complement one another.

Milhoan acknowledged that the change turns the page on some long-established brands, but she pledged that the consolidated effort will be stronger than the sum of its parts.

“We are bringing a lot of experience to bear here, and now that our new team has begun to work together closely, I believe the consolidated effort will build a successful new brand,” she said. “I think our readers, viewers and followers will be able to identify more readily with all of our products.”