Military News

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Kendall: Initiative Aids DoD Acquisitions Culture Change



By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 10, 2014 – The undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics told Congress today that numerous attempts to improve the acquisitions process over the years have had little discernible impact.

“The evidence, in terms of major program costs and schedule slips, shows very little statistical change,” Frank Kendall told members of the House Armed Services Committee.

Three conclusions, he said, can be drawn from this fact.

“The first is that fixing defense acquisition isn't as easy as a lot of people seem to think it is,” Kendall said.

A second possibility, he said, is that the department hasn’t been patient or tenacious enough with acquisition policies.

“We don't always leave policies in place long enough to find out if they work or not,” the undersecretary said. “The frequent rotation of leadership -- particularly political appointees and career military people -- makes it hard to sustain initiatives long enough to determine if they are succeeding or not.”

Lastly, it’s possible that the department has been focused on the wrong things, he said.

“Defense acquisition is a human endeavor. And my view is that we may have focused too much on organizational structures, processes, compliance with policy and oversight mechanisms, and not enough on providing people with the skills and incentives they need to succeed,” Kendall said.

But, he added, with the introduction four years ago of the Better Buying Power initiatives, the acquisitions process is showing signs of progress.

Better Buying Power is “an approach of continuous incremental improvement based on pragmatism and evidence,” the undersecretary said.

“I can report to you today that after four years, I believe we are seeing changes for the better,” Kendall told committee members. “And I'm encouraged that organizations, like the GAO, agree with that conclusion.”

Acquiring cutting-edge weapon systems is a complex job, he said.

“It requires getting every one of hundreds of decisions right in an environment where the real incentive systems are not always aligned with the goal of increased efficiency,” the undersecretary said.

When there is uncertainty about future budgets, as there is currently, planning becomes excessively difficult, he said.

Better Buying Power initiatives, Kendall said, are particularly beneficial in a constrained fiscal environment, when every dollar spent on one program could mean dollars are cut from some other program.

“The Better Buying Power approach identifies areas of acquisition where the greatest good can be achieved and tries to attack those opportunities,” he said. “As we learn from our experience, we periodically make adjustments and bring in new ideas. We reject ideas that don't work.”

This is a pragmatic, incremental approach that stretches across the entire acquisitions program, Kendall said. From setting affordability caps to constrain program costs to developing strong contractual incentives to reduce to a focus on the professionalism of the department's acquisition workforce, it’s hard, detailed work, he added.

“It takes time, constancy of purpose, and tenacity to be effective. I don't believe there is any other way to achieve lasting improvement,” the undersecretary said.

The changes in defense acquisitions aren’t just procedural -- they’re also cultural, Kendall told the committee.

“Academic business literature suggests that two things are necessary to effect major change in an organization; a period of four or five years of sustained commitment by senior leadership -- and a crisis,” he said. “I'm trying to supply the leadership. And the budget situation is supplying the crisis.”

Against this backdrop, the undersecretary said he is working to transition the acquisitions workforce from a culture that values spending to one that values controlling costs.

“In government, the built-in incentive system is to spend one's budget so that funds are not rescinded or reduced in subsequent budgets,” he said. “Many of the Better Buying Power initiatives are intended to reverse the situation.”

The second cultural transformation is to eliminate the check-the-box, or school-solution approach to acquisition, Kendall said.

The defense acquisitions culture should be based on “professionalism, sound business and technical analysis, and most of all, critical thinking,” he said.

“The vast array of product and service types the department buys makes this a necessity,” the undersecretary added.

“One-size-fits-all rules are not the right answer for our acquisition problems, and cannot substitute for the effective professional judgments that are needed for success in defense acquisition,” Kendall said. “I do believe we are making progress, but I also believe we have ample room for additional improvement.”

Arctic Thunder Open House looks to wow the crowd

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
JBER Public Affairs


7/10/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- You've been thunder-struck! The words to a popular 1990 rock song might just be the impact on the crowd during Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's Arctic Thunder Open House July 26 and 27, which is free and open to the public.

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, "America's Ambassadors in Blue," will headline two full days of aerial performances. Charged with demonstrating the professionalism of Airmen and the capabilities of modern airpower, the Thunderbirds were formed in 1953 and is comprised of nearly 130 Airmen. The primary product of that teamwork is approximately 40 maneuvers, varying between formation flying and solo routines. The entire show lasts about one hour.

The Thunderbirds have been flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon, a multi-role fighter, since August 1982.

"The F-16 is a remarkable and dependable aircraft," said Air Force Capt. Lucas Buckley, Thunderbirds maintenance officer. "The aircraft is fast, loud and highly maneuverable. That's what makes it fun and exciting to watch, especially at the relatively low altitudes required in the show."

JBER's own F-22 Raptors will also be in the Alaska skies, as well as several civilian acts. Additionally, static displays ranging from the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber to an F-16 Fighting Falcon to a KC-135 Stratotanker Aerial Refueler will be on display.

"The whole purpose is to let taxpayers know where their money is being spent and how it's being spent," said Song Johnson, 673d Air Base Wing community engagement chief. "Also, it's a way for us to give back to the community that has been so kind to us."

The open house director, Air Force Maj. Karl Easterly, 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron, encouraged families and community members to attend the biennial event.

"Really, the draw - besides the show itself - the spirit of the Air Force and America is represented with the Thunderbirds," Easterly said. "We want people to be excited about the Air Force and excited about JBER. It's very much a family-friendly event. We're going to have all sorts of fun, games and food; from bouncy castles to jets, we'll have it all."

Each branch of the military will be represented during the open house, with each service showcasing the mission it performs at JBER. Both days begin at 9 a.m., when the JBER-Richardson and Boniface gates will open to the public, and will end at 5 p.m. Department of Defense ID card holders can still access the installation through any of the gates.

The Thunderbirds were last at JBER in 2012, and according to Johnson, were a hit.

"It was a huge crowd favorite and we're happy to have them back again," Johnson said. "JBER is one of the few places in the country that's been authorized to have the Thunderbirds and an open house."

Due to sequestration, DOD officials have limited open houses and demonstration teams, but according to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, there is a continuing need to maintain their mission.

"Community and public outreach is a crucial departmental activity that reinforces trust and confidence in the United States military and in its most important asset - people," Hagel said. "It is our obligation to sustain that trust well into the future."

According to organizers, many of the static displays will be set up where people can actually walk into and sit in military equipment.

"We want this to be an interactive event where people can experience what it's like to be in a military aircraft or vehicle," Johnson said.

With an event of the magnitude of JBER's open house, Johnson encouraged people to plan ahead with transportation.

"Parking will be limited," Johnson said. "The best advice I can give people is carpool. There will not be any public transportation from town into JBER. For people who want to ride bicycles, there will be areas for people to lock up their bikes.

For updated ATOH information, to include performances, displays, and prohibited and recommended items to bring, visit www.jber.af.mil/arcticthunder/index.asp. Updates are also posted on the official JBER facebook page.

The 126th ARW refuels global strike mission

by Senior Airman Elise Stout
126th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


7/10/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- The U.S. Strategic Command's Air Force Global Strike Command's mission relies on the Illinois Air National Guard's 126th Air Refueling Wing for execution.

The wing supports STRATCOM's global strike and strategic deterrence missions with aerial refueling, said Adm. Cecil D. Haney, the STRATCOM commander, in a 2014 congressional posture statement.

"The existential threat posed by a nuclear attack requires the U.S. to maintain a credible and capable deterrent force," Haney said.

The 126 ARW KC-135RT Stratotankers support STRATCOM's bomber portion of that deterrence mission; and are the only aerial refuelers in the Illinois ANG.

"The 126th ARW always betters the mission of nuclear deterrence by being in a constant state of training to always be ready to execute the nuclear mission," said Maj. Benjamin Louden, a pilot assigned to the 126 ARW.

Practicing the nuclear mission keeps the wing at a high level of readiness, said Lt. Col. Ralph Delatour, chief of wing plans assigned to the 126 ARW.

"This is a key component of the nuclear triad, and provides national leadership flexible options in deploying nuclear deterrence and strategic threat response, worldwide," Delatour said.

The wing maintains the highest level of readiness, being able to respond in support to the global strike mission.

"This instills credible deterrence in our countrymen and our allies, the ability to safely and effectively safeguard our nuclear arsenal, while also ensuring our adversaries have no doubt of our ability to protect our national interest," Delatour said.

Without aerial refueling, other planes could not reach their destinations and not complete their mission, said Col. Peter Nezamis, the 126 ARW commander.

"... Our nuclear mission is the most important thing because it has to be perfect," Nezamis said.

Airmen, aircraft continue Greenland mission

by Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt
109th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


7/10/2014 - KANGERLUSSUAQ, Greenland (AFNS) -- Approximately 70 Air National Guard Airmen and two ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules completed the fourth rotation in the Arctic region to support the National Science Foundation, June 27-30 here.

A group of Airmen and LC-130s head for the Arctic region every year to support the foundation and get real-world training out of their base at Kangerlussuaq.

The Airmen and aircraft are with the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing based out of Stratton Air National Guard Base, Scotia, New York. During the U.S. winter season, the 109th AW is supporting Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica, and in the summer months, the unit flies to Greenland to not only continue their support for NSF but to also train for the exercise. There are only two rotations left here before the 2014 season comes to a close.

"The overall mission here is two-fold," said Capt. Rachel Leimbach, the supervisor of flying for the most recent rotation. "Our primary mission is in support of the NSF and CPS (CH2M Hill Polar Services). We fly missions to (forward-deployed locations) for the enhancement of science, similar to what we do in Antarctica."

The LC-130s are the only aircraft of its kind in the military, able to land on snow and ice and fly supply and refueling missions to the different camps the foundation utilizes.

"The other part of our mission is training out of Raven Camp," she said. "There is minimal science that we do at Raven, making it primarily a training site, which is how we get the crews ready for Antarctica."

Greenland makes for a much safer environment to train aircrews for the deep-freeze season, she said.

Besides the aircrews, deployments to Greenland also include maintainers that tend to the aircraft. Airmen with the small air terminal handle the cargo and passengers, and the first sergeant and various other support staff, help keep the mission going.

"We have about 40 maintainers here this rotation," said Master Sgt. Joseph Deamer of the 109th Maintenance Group. "Our primary mission is to fix the aircraft so they fly their missions while here."

"We have a great working relationship with the CPS civilians and the research staff that goes up to the camps," he said. "I think that helps us get our work done because it's their cargo that we're moving."

Each year weather delays and cancellations are pretty typical, but Master Sgt. Scott Molyneaux said his section and everyone else still push on to complete the mission.

"It's quite a unique mission up here, and the roles of the first sergeant are very extensive," said Master Sgt. Michael Lazzari, the first sergeant for this rotation. "It can be hectic but it's still a lot of fun."

Lazzari said he spoke to the first sergeants who had been up to Greenland before him to better prepare for the deployment.

"I felt great coming into it for the first time and had a good idea of what to expect," he said. "Everyone here was a great help. This isn't the first trip for a lot of people, so I relied on their experience to help me do my job well."

Typical rotations in Greenland last about two weeks and consist of an average of three to five aircraft. The season starts in the March-April timeframe and comes to a close in August.

Iowa youth gets rewarded

by Master Sgt. David Fenner
Air National Guard Readiness Center


7/10/2014 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md.  -- The 2014 Air National Guard Youth of the Year representing the 185 Air Refueling Wing, Iowa Air National Guard, was recognized by ANG Manpower, Personnel and Services Director at the Air National Guard Readiness Center.

Caroline Ascherl, daughter of Lt. Col. Joe Ascherl and Donna Ascherl, was selected for this year's award because of her dedication to her family, school, community, and the 185th Air Refueling Wing.

"Caroline is an outstanding young woman who can and will accomplish anything she puts her mind too," said Flanagan, director of ANG Manpower, Personnel and Services. "A role model for all teenagers and an example of what we desire our youth of today to aspire to be"

The YOY program recognizes teens ages 14-18 for their outstanding service, academic achievement, moral character and family values by competing on a national level highlighting examples of the leadership they have provided at their school, in their community and within their family.

The competition is judged on school participation; Non-school sponsored activities; leadership accomplishments; home and family; honors and Awards; service to club and community and two written short essays.

"I hope that my actions can help myself and others grow into people of character," said Caroline, "Living in the mid-west I have been exposed to the values of hard work and genuine care for your neighbor. As I go through life I want to be a person others know they can always depend on, no matter what the situation."

Hagel Discusses Nuclear Deterrence, Modernization



By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE KINGS BAY, Ga., July 10, 2014 – During a visit to the East Coast homeport for six Ohio-class fleet ballistic-missile and two guided-missile submarines here yesterday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke with 14 female submariners, toured the ballistic-missile submarine USS Tennessee, and took questions at an event with 180 sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.

The secretary’s stop here was the on first day of a two-day trip that includes visits today to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, home to the Air Force’s first full squadron of F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft, and a stop at Fort Rucker, Alabama, the home of Army aviation.

Hagel is traveling to these southeastern U.S. bases to ensure the department stays focused on long-term concerns affecting American interests and allies in Asia, Europe and worldwide, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said earlier this week in announcing the trip.

The submarine base is home to Submarine Group 10, Submarine Squadrons 16 and 20, the Trident Training Facility, the Trident Refit Facility, the Strategic Weapons Facility-Atlantic, and other support-providing commands. More than 8,000 personnel work at the base, including nearly 5,000 active-duty Navy personnel, 2,322 civilian employees and 1,298 contractors.

At the Kings Bay troop event, Hagel greeted an auditorium full of Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard service members, bringing them greetings from President Barack Obama and everyone at the Defense Department.

“We thank you for what you're doing [and] what you have been doing here. I know occasionally you might wonder if anybody is paying attention or cares,” the secretary said. “We are paying attention. We know what you do. We appreciate what you do.”

Hagel also sent thanks to their families and said the department appreciates their sacrifices. “We understand their sacrifices and we don't take those sacrifices for granted,” he told the service members.

Hagel has made it one of his highest priorities to ensure the United States maintains a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent. This includes commitments to modernizing the nuclear enterprise infrastructure and maintaining a highly capable, skilled and motivated force.

In early January, Hagel traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for briefings at Kirtland Air Force Base and the Air Force Materiel Command's Nuclear Weapons Center, whose responsibilities include nuclear system program acquisition, modernization and sustainment for the Defense and Energy departments. While there, he visited Sandia National Laboratories, where scientists and engineers develop, engineer and test non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons.

The next day in Cheyenne, Wyoming, he visited the Missile Alert Facility and Launch Control Center, where he received briefings and had lunch with missile combat crew members and security forces.

Afterward, at nearby F.E. Warren Air Force Base, where the 90th Missile Wing operates 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, he held a troop event for 200 service members.

“I think it’s very important that all of us who have some responsibility for the national security of this country pay attention to every aspect of that responsibility,” Hagel said in Cheyenne, “and certainly the nuclear component of our defense capabilities -- the deterrence capabilities that nuclear gives us.”

Also in January, Hagel also called for an independent review of the strategic deterrence enterprise as it relates to Defense Department personnel, and he since has continued to meet directly with officers and enlisted personnel who have day-to-day responsibility for carrying out that mission, senior defense officials said.

“I think you all know that I ordered an … internal and external review of the nuclear forces a few months ago,” Hagel said here yesterday. “Those internal and external reviews have come back. I've been briefed on the reviews.”

The secretary added that he is working with DoD leaders to decide which recommendations the department will adopt to strengthen the health of the nuclear workforce, strengthen the nuclear enterprise and ensure that those involved in the enterprise have the resources they need to do their jobs.

Over the last 13 years as the United States was involved in two large land wars, “we let our focus on the nuclear deterrence aspect of our national security drift a little,” Hagel acknowledged. “Because of that,” he added, “priority was put on those wars in funding, leadership [and] attention.”

The nation, Hagel said, must now “prioritize the importance of the nuclear enterprise and what you represent and the importance of what you do every day to deter aggression in the world and protect our country and protect our interests around the world. I want you to know that.”

The secretary also told the service members about the hour he spent in a private discussion with 14 female submarine officers.

In 2009, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced that for the first time in Navy history, women would be assigned to serve aboard Navy submarines. The first contingent of 24 women who completed the Navy’s nuclear submarine program met in May 2012 with the president and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. Today, more than 60 female officers serve aboard 14 crews on seven submarines, typically with at least three female officers per crew.

“It was really a tremendous experience for me to listen to these young officers talk about their experiences -- how proud they are to serve on submarines,” Hagel said.

“The Navy has broken through on so much of this over the last three or four years,” he added, “and as you know, we're in the process now of preparing to integrate enlisted females on submarines.” In May, the Enlisted Women in Submarines Task Force began planning to introduce enlisted women into the submarine force over the next few years, officials said.

The submarine force also is in the process of assigning female officers to four Virginia-class submarines. In 2015, the USS Illinois and the USS Minnesota are scheduled to become the first attack submarines with female offices on board, DoD officials said.

Hagel is the first defense secretary to visit a ballistic missile submarine since women began serving aboard them in November 2011. Before he shook hands and took pictures with the troops, he invited them to step up to the microphones in the audience and speak their minds.

A Navy recruiting instructor from the Naval Submarine Support Center asked if sequestration budget cuts, scheduled to return in fiscal year 2016 unless Congress acts to stop them, would allow the department to continue to develop the replacement for the Ohio-class submarine. A senior chief petty officer from the Coast Guard Maritime Force Protection Unit asked Hagel what kept him up at night, given all the threats facing the United States.

The topics differed, but Hagel’s answers arrived at the same destination.

DoD’s plans call for 12 Ohio replacement ballistic-missile submarines to replace the 14 Ohio-class submarines now in commission. Because the new submarines will have shorter maintenance cycles and more capability, 12 new ships will replace the original 14.

The president’s budget request meets DoD near-term needs, defense officials say, but it will be difficult, and perhaps impossible, to execute the shipbuilding plan if the harsh budget cuts of sequestration are implemented.

A key element of the shipbuilding plan is the Ohio-class replacement submarine.

“We have every commitment to the projections to bring on that new class of submarines,” Hagel told the recruiting instructor. “Yes, it's forcing us to make some hard choices in our budget. But I've been clear on this, the president's been clear -- all of our senior leaders -- that we need a new generation of Ohio-class submarines, and we're going to prioritize that.”

The naval submarine base and the expertise it represents will continue to be important for the nation’s strategic interests, the secretary said.

But the budget cuts are presenting big problems, he added.

“There's only so much to go around,” he said. “You can't get any more. So it’s forcing us … to prioritize. If we had more time to prioritize, … it would be more responsible. But unfortunately, that hasn't been the case, and it will not be the case if sequestration continues to hold. But we are continuing to be committed to a new generation of Ohio-class submarines.”

To answer the up-at-night question, Hagel went back to the budget.

“There are threats everywhere in the world, and many are external,” he said. “But [we’re dealing with] a lot of internal dimensions as well.” The senior chief had mentioned the National Defense Authorization Act when asking his question. Hagel mentioned the defense budget in his answer.

“Sequestration has been devastating to this institution. It's something that our leaders and I work with every day trying to convince Congress to change,” the secretary said.

“We've got a year or so to help inform and educate and try to persuade the Congress to change that,” he continued. “If they don't change that, we are going to be faced with deeper and bigger cuts. We're continuing to be faced with deep cuts now. That's what I refer to when I talk about an internal challenge when you ask me what keeps me up at night.”

Joint Base San Antonio NCO named an Air Force Outstanding Airman of the Year

by Airman Justine Rho
JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs


7/10/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- An Airman from the 502nd Air Base Wing here is an Air Force Outstanding Airman of the Year.

The Air Force recognized Tech. Sgt. Latoria R. Ellis, 502nd Contracting Squadron, contracting officer, medical support flight NCO in charge, as a 2014 OAY.

In April, Ellis was named Air Education and Training Command's NCO of the Year, identifying her as number 1 out of 13,039 NCOs.

The Air Force OAY are chosen from 35 nominees representing major commands, direct reporting units, field operating agencies and Headquarters Air Force; only 12 Airmen were chosen as the elite.

During the 2013 calendar year, Ellis was recognized at the quarterly awards, contracting annual awards and enlisted NCO annual awards at the wing level. Because of that recognition, she was then selected to submit a package for the 12 OAY awards at the MAJCOM level.

Aside from outstanding work performance, the OAY nominees must set themselves apart by exemplifying leadership, illustrating significant self-improvement and having base or community involvement.

"Some of Ellis' strong suites are leadership qualities," said Senior Master Sgt. Toni Wiser 502nd CON, Operations superintendent. "She does a great job being in tune with her Airmen and she is a very hands-on leader."

In 2013, Ellis led a team of 25 to complete 86 contracts for Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, the Air Force's largest medical wing. She spearheaded a $2 million energy savings acquisition in which 19 buildings were retrofitted with solar panels, reducing the utility bill and saving the Air Force $6,000 a year. She also steered a $1.9 million generator efficiency project, replacing 33 percent of defective grids in Military Family Housing, reducing output by 14 percent and saving the Air Force $24,000 a year.
Additionally, Ellis aced 223 hours of training at the NCO Academy, achieving Distinguished Graduate and Academic Achievement Awards.

"Sergeant Ellis is a ball of fire," said Wiser. "She's one of those individuals that you can give a task and not have to check up on the progress of that job. I think that she is such a good selection for the 12 OAY Award, also because she is so humbled by the experience."

With family members throughout the military services, dedication and discipline have been qualities instilled in Ellis. Originally from Miami, Ellis began her Air Force career in information management and later cross-trained into contracting.

The military runs through my blood, said Ellis. Coming from a military family and participating in junior reserve officers' training corps since ninth grade, her main career path decision was choosing between military services.

"I have always applied a lot of pressure on myself," said Ellis. "And now I know that I have to push myself even further for my troops and my office."

Ellis continues to better herself and achieve personal goals at work and throughout her off-duty life.

In addition to continuing work on her master's degree and eventually progress to a doctoral program, Ellis, pregnant with her first child, said that she has another big goal right now.

"One of my main goals is to make it through this child birth," said Ellis.

"As far as this award and nomination, I know you probably hear it over and over again, but this was not accomplished without a team," adds Ellis. "I have had so many supporters, motivators and mentors in my life. I am just so grateful."

Spangdahlem participates in first Mosel Firefighter Combat Challenge

by Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs


7/8/2014 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Spangdahlem firefighters hosted and participated in the first Mosel Firefighter Combat Challenge in Ediger-Eller, Germany, July 5-6, 2014.

"A firefighter combat challenge is where all the firefighters from across Europe come together to have fun and compete against each other," said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Jason Theriault, 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron deputy fire chief. "We have firefighters here from Poland, Slovenia, Great Britain, Canada, France and three U.S. air bases in Europe."

The trial consisted of obstacles a firefighter could face while battling a real fire.

"The challenge simulates a structure fire, such as people going inside a building, hoisting up equipment, hammer blow, pulling hose and rescuing a victim," said Gerd Mueller, 52nd CES firefighter. "It's a task of five different events, combined into one sporting event."

Mueller was a key organizer of the challenge, which took more than six months to plan and execute.

"As firefighters, this is the best way to showcase our job to the public," Mueller said. "A lot of people think we just sit around waiting for a call, but we have to train and maintain our fitness and firefighting techniques."

The Spangdahlem firefighter team beat out firefighters from Ramstein Air Base and Royal Air Force Alconbury to take home the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa championship.

The challenge is known by firefighters as the toughest two minutes in sports.

"Pain!," said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Scott Weeks, 52nd CES firefighter. "It's a pain like no other. You can train as hard as you can for this competition and you're still going to feel the same when you finish. Doesn't matter if you finish in four minutes or a minute and a half, you're going to feel the same."

To see the official results of the first Mosel Firefighter Combat Challenge visit www.firefighter-challenge-mosel.de/. For up-to-date information on upcoming firefighter combat challenges Spangdahlem is competing in, visit https://www.facebook.com/SpangdahlemFCC.

Kadena Reopens After Typhoon, Sasebo Braces for Storm



By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 9, 2014 – American facilities at Kadena Air Base, Japan, are reopening in the wake of Typhoon Neoguri, and while Okinawa has weathered the typhoon, it is now mainland Japan’s turn to feel the wrath of the storm.

Neoguri, one of the strongest storms to hit the Ryukyu Islands in years, knocked down trees and utility poles and caused some localized flooding, but precautions minimized damage, base officials said.

Some 61 Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps aircraft flew to bases in South Korea, mainland Japan and the Philippines in advance of the storm. They will return to Kadena when all debris is cleaned up, officials said.

Kadena is now at the lowest tropical cyclone condition of readiness the minimum readiness state from June 1 to Nov. 30, the season for such storms, base officials said. Okinawa gets hit by an average of 10 typhoons annually.

The Navy base at Sasebo, Japan, -- located on Kyushu, one of the country’s three main islands -- is taking precautions now because of Neoguri. Navy officials said four ships have left the naval base and all aircraft have been moved. The George Washington Carrier Strike Group is at sea and is not affected by the storm or evacuation, officials said. Many ships remain berthed in Sasebo, including the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, they added.

The typhoon has weakened, but still poses a danger. Forecasters say the area may receive up to 28 inches of rain by tomorrow night. Flooding and landslides are dangers.

116th Security Forces turn up the heat in North Georgia

by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons
116th ACW Public Affairs


7/9/2014 - TUNNEL HILL, Ga. -- Heavy machine gun fire, rifle and pistol competitions, counter insurgency operations and military operation urban training and were the order of business for the Georgia Air National Guard's 116th Security Forces Squadron as they completed 10 days of annual training at the Catoosa Training Site in North Georgia.

"Annual weapons qualification was our primary objective at the range, but Catoosa provided additional training opportunities that directly correlated to what we do as ground forces when we deploy," said Senior Master Sgt. William Greenway, 116th SFS manager.

In addition to firing ranges that accommodated all the weaponry the Airmen were required to qualify on, the site included a mock village similar to ones common in urban warfare environments.

"With us being a rapid deployment unit, honing our skills is a must, especially for the younger Airmen who have been on few deployments or who have never deployed in a combat environment before," said Master Sgt. Richard Ross, a squad leader with the 116th SFS.

"For some of our younger Airmen," shared Ross, "this is the first time they've received ASO training, or what we call outside the wire training. This will be the foundation that is crucial to them if and when they get orders to deploy in a combat situation."

Airmen with the unit reiterated how important this training is, as a number of the members participating in this event have been on multiple deployments in combat environments around the world.

For Airman 1st Class Paula Helms, just recently graduated from technical school, this was her first chance to perform annual training with her new unit.

"This training has helped give me a refresher of things I learned at tech school and I've been able to learn new things from the more experienced noncommissioned officers," said Helms. "Since so many of them have deployed, they have real-life experience to share."

In addition to the preparation the training provided for overseas deployments, many of the principles and techniques learned come into play during times when the Georgia Guardsmen are called on for domestic support.

"Members of the 116th Security Forces were the first group to set up operations in the Lower 9th Ward during Hurricane Katrina," shared Capt. Robert Brumfield, 116th Security Forces Squadron operations officer. "We did some of the same type of things there, like building clearing and rescuing people, which we trained on here."

"Having these types of facilities where everything is built and in place allowed our folks to hit the ground running and meet our training requirements in a shorter amount of time," said Brumfield.

On any given day, the reverberation of heavy machines guns, grenade launchers, shotguns, rifles, pistols and the yelling of troop commands could be heard ringing throughout the hills of the 1600 plus acre site.

Battling high heat, humidity, insects, and rain, the Airmen were given different scenarios and missions meant to mimic real life situations common for Security Forces. They were tested on their ability to communicate and react as a team while remaining flexible and adapting to the harsh environment.

"We're always looking for opportunities for more and better quality training," shared Greenway. "We train our people hard because of the job we do. It could mean the difference between life or death."

Southeast Air Base Renovation

by Senior Airman Melanie Bulow-Gonterman
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


7/9/2014 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.  -- By the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Southeast Air Base was opened and built as a World War II strategic air base position. Using the federal relief program created during the Great Depression, our flightline was constructed.

A lot has changed since the opening of Southeast Air Base in 1939. For starters, it is now called MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

Through the years, Tampa and the community have witnessed this base become a significant part of their economy from the airshow, building contracts and the economic boost the troops give to the community. Nevertheless, the community and base support have supplemented each other equally.

The generations of MacDill AFB have worked hard to maintain the base as a first class establishment.

Air Force funding, approved by President Barrack Obama and Congress, with the delegation command of Col. Scott DeThomas, 6th Air Mobility Wing commander, allows our historic flightline to undergo much needed renovations.

"Plans to start this renovation project began in May 2014 with the mission of repairing and relocating the outdoor wash rack area," said Randy Jackson, 6th Operation Support Squadron airfield management. "U.S. Central Command will be extending a parking lot that will accommodate 300 vehicles where the wash rack was originally and the wash rack will be moved up."

This renovation is expected to cost the Air Force $1.4 dollars and is contracted through a local Tampa construction company.

The projected completion time of this contract is Oct. 17, 2014. Airmen can expect to see noticeable improvements to the pavement and outside areas of the flightline.

According to Jackson, other projects you can expect to see over the next couple of years are the filling of ponds far south of the flightline, which will decrease the amount of birds in the area, cutting back of the tree line along the runway, continued repair of discrepancies in airfield pavement and a runway asphalt mill and overlay.

This will ultimately make the ground safer for the Airmen and aircraft stationed at MacDill AFB.

Without these improvements, mission requirements could be diminished or impeded. Our national security, compared to the cost, outweighs the chances of security vulnerabilities. The United States Air Force comes second to none!

15th OSS airfield management team kicks into overdrive for RIMPAC

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


7/8/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- The JBPHH flightline is a hub of flight activity for RIMPAC 2014, and with more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel slated to participate in the exercise the 15th Operations Support Squadron Airfield Management Flight have their hands full playing host to the array of aircraft and people transiting the airfield.

Rim of the Pacific, which is a U.S. Pacific Command-hosted biennial multinational maritime exercise designed to foster and sustain international cooperation on the security of the world's oceans, kicked off at JBPHH, June 26 and runs through Aug. 1.

"For RIMPAC it's our job in airfield management to accommodate aircraft parking for joint and multinational forces aircraft, as well as our own," said Tech. Sgt. Bryan Masters, 15th OSS Airfield Management Operations NCO in charge. "We've had to get creative with our aircraft parking plan due to the limited amount of real estate that we have here, but we made it work."

Masters said it's taken a staff of 10 airfield management Airmen and more than four months to set up a parking plan to accommodate all the aircraft.

During the exercise, the airfield management flight expects the ramp to see the most aircraft to participate in RIMPAC in 24 years to include F-15C Eagles, F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-22 Raptors, HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, C-130J Super Hercules and a host of aircraft from visiting nations and sister services.

Masters said due to the continuation of real-world missions the biggest challenge for his staff has been finding space for the visiting RIMPAC aircraft while ensuring zero delay of non-exercise related missions.

"The Air Force criteria for parking and staging aircraft and equipment differ from those of our joint partners so we have to try to work within their confines while sticking to Air Force criteria as well and it only gets more complicated when you consider the needs of the multinational aircraft, he said."

Additionally, to ensure more efficient helicopter operations during RIMPAC, Masters' team designed and constructed a temporary helipad on the flightline.

"We don't usually do this, but we wanted to streamline helicopter landing and parking operations, which will also allow for better traffic flow throughout other areas of the airfield," said Masters.

In addition to parking and placement of aircraft, the airfield management flight also oversees the airfield driving program, and expect an additional 100 vehicles to be present on the airfield during RIMPAC.

More than 400 personnel have already been trained on the rules of driving on the JBPHH flightline, and, in an effort to be even more engaging and proactive, members of the team flew out to the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) ahead of the exercise to provide flightline drivers training to Sailors before they arrived here.

"Being the RIMPAC POC for the airfield is by far the busiest I've ever been in my 13-year career," Masters said of the increased work load.

And the extra hard work hasn't gone unnoticed by the airfield's visiting units.

"The airfield management team did an excellent job on the parking plan," said Navy Lt. j.g. Matthew Agee, a pilot assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Four. "The Helicopter pad that was made for RIMPAC works very well. The parking spots are well spaced with plenty of room between helicopters and equipment. The glint tape is especially helpful for taxiing and definitely helped to avoid confusion about where to taxi on the ramp and how to get to the departure point and back to the parking area after landing. The large 'H' made it easy to spot the landing zone from a distance which is very helpful when operating in such a busy and unfamiliar airport. Overall, it was well planned and well executed."