Military News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Cape Ray Crew Continues Neutralizing Syrian Chemical Materials



By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2014 – Teams aboard the U.S. ship MV Cape Ray continue to neutralize materials from Syria’s declared chemical stockpile, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said today.

Warren told reporters the teams had used the installed field deployable hydrolysis system to destroy 411 tons of chemicals as of July 21.

“As of this morning, the crews neutralized over 25 percent of the DF [or methylphosphonyl difluoride], which is a sarin precursor,” the colonel said, adding the international Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has verified the amount.

Warren showed reporters an OCPW pie chart indicating two chemical classifications: Category 1 chemicals, which have little or no peaceful use and were removed from Syria for destruction outside of the country, as well as isoproponol, and Category 2, which includes other toxic chemicals and other chemical agents outside of Category 1.

The chart showed that as of July 21, 36.6 percent, or 380.1 of the 1038.5 metric tons of declared Category 1 chemical materials, had been destroyed, as well as 12.4 percent, or 31.5 of 254.17 declared metric tons of Category 2 chemical materials.

Joint teams from the OPCW and the United Nations began securing Syrian chemical sites in early October, and the Syrian government gave up the last of its declared chemical stockpiles June 23. The Cape Ray was modified and deployed to the eastern Mediterranean to dispose of the chemical agents in accordance with terms Syria agreed to late last year.

Sun sets on Red Flag 14-3

by Staff Sgt. Siuta B. Ika
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


7/25/2014 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- After 12 intense days of relentless aerial, ground and cyber space operations, Red Flag 14-3 concluded here July 25.

During the exercise, U.S. military units from across the globe joined flying units from the French and Singapore air forces under the 'Blue' force flag to wage 'war' against Nellis' 57th Adversary Tactics Group, whose units are specially trained to replicate tactics and techniques of potential adversaries.

The 57th ATG, which played the 'Red' or opposing force, was charged with defending the many red-force assets throughout the Nevada Test and Training Range, and engaged blue forces during various missions over the NTTR's mock airfields, vehicle convoys, tanks, parked aircraft, bunkered defensive positions and missile sites.

These mock battles gives inexperienced pilots, air and ground crews realistic mission training in a simulated war, which will increase the combat capability of our armed forces for any future combat situation, explained Lt. Col. Jordan Grant, 414th Combat Training Squadron deputy commander.

"Red Flag exercises ultimately give us the ability to win," Grant said. "It continues to develop and become a more inclusive exercise as we integrate and fight alongside all of our partners around the DOD and the world, which will make future Red Flags more realistic."

As part of the third and final Red Flag of Fiscal Year 2014, exercise participants - specifically maintenance personnel - furthered their education on how to accomplish the mission in a fully-contested environment.

"This was the third flag of a series of three in the new program that entailed - for our maintainers - very detailed academics of emerging threats and vulnerabilities to maintenance and how that plays into overall operations," said Maj. Christopher Vance, 414th CTS maintenance division chief. "Big picture (our maintainers are) essentially learning how to control information in an environment where the electromagnetic spectrum are contested."

Red Flag exercises also offer participants a different take on training, compared to a phase one operational readiness exercise, which may have a single focus point, Grant said.

"The real value of Red Flag here is not just operating and getting the airplanes airborne, but learning how to work with allied forces to use the pieces that you have on your team to accomplish whatever mission that might be; and in Red Flag that typically involves striking areas that are heavily defended, surviving the effort to do that, and if not, conducting search and rescue operations," Grant said.

Red Flag training began out of the necessity to provide pilots and weapon systems officers more realistic training after the Vietnam War because the U.S.'s overall exchange ratio (kill-to-death ratio) dropped from 10:1 in the Korean Conflict to about 2:1 in Vietnam. A study investigating the drop, called Project Red Baron II, showed that a pilot's chance of survival in combat dramatically increased after the pilot had flown in and completed 10 combat missions.

To this day, Red Flag training remains as important as ever, Grant said.

"A year ago we didn't have the summer flag and that directly translated to less readiness and less training for the aircrews that otherwise would've come to Red Flag," Grant said. "We've had our full three flags this year, and the value of it is such that the Air Force has decided to put on four flags next year because we recognize how important it is that we keep doing this on a regular basis. Everyone who has never been to a Red Flag before will leave here twice as good as when they came."

Kendall: F-35 Rollout Marks U.S.-Australia Partnership Milestone



By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2014 – The official rollout of the first two F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force is a milestone in the U.S.-Australia partnership, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics said yesterday.

Frank Kendall spoke during a ceremony held on the flightline at the Lockheed Martin aviation facility in Fort Worth, Texas.

"We join Australia, as one of our original partners, to celebrate this delivery and the numerous Australian contributions to the joint strike fighter program," Kendall said.

"For both our nations," he added, "this program represents an exponential leap in capability on the cutting edge of technology, and an integral component of our ongoing joint commitment to stability and peace in the Asia-Pacific."

The two F-35A aircraft, known as AU-1 and AU-2, are scheduled for delivery to the Australian air force later this year. They will be based at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona and used for Australian and partner-country pilot training beginning next year. The first F-35s to operate in Australia are expected by 2017.

The F-35 Lightning II program consists of a series of single-seat, single-engine, multirole fighters designed with stealth capability to perform ground attack, reconnaissance and air defense missions. The three variants of the F-35 include the F-35A, a conventional takeoff and landing variant; the F-35B, a short take-off and vertical-landing variant; and the F-35C, a carrier-based variant.

Joining Kendall as members of the official party were Australian Finance Minister and Senator Matthias Cormann, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, chief of the Royal Australian Air Force, and Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson.

Kendall told an audience of about 300 that it takes a community to accomplish something as significant as the F-35.

"In this case it takes a community of nations, it takes a community of companies, it takes a community of militaries and departments within the U.S. and around the world, and all of our partners. It takes a community of industry to come together," the undersecretary added. "This aircraft is a testimony to our ability to do that."

Kendall described a time two decades ago when he served at the Pentagon as director of tactical warfare programs under then-Deputy Defense Secretary John M. Deutch.

"John got a number of us together one day,” he recalled, “and said that he'd decided [to] start a new technology program called the joint strike technology program that would lead to a common set of aircraft, of which there would be three variants: one for the Marine Corps, one for the Air Force and one for the Navy."

Kendall said he didn't think it would work, because the communities would never agree on what to do, or stay together on the agreement long enough to develop three such aircraft.

"Now if John had said, 'Also, we're going to make it a little more interesting by bringing on eight international partners at the same time,' I would have just thrown my hands up in the air and said, 'Forget about it.'" he added.

Admitting he was wrong, Kendall said the “fundamental reason [for the program’s success] is the capability that we've been able to develop and the cutting-edge capability we're offering to all the partners, all the services, all the nations involved in the F-35."

The program's eight partner nations and two Foreign Military Sales countries already have announced plans to procure nearly 700 F-35s. The program of record outlines the acquisition of more than 3,000 aircraft, defense officials say.

Many partners have ordered their first aircraft, and pilots and maintainers from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have taken delivery of their first F-35 aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, where they're training with U.S. counterparts.

The communities supporting the F-35 have stayed together because of common values and shared interests, Kendall said, and because they are committed to having next-generation capability and a multirole fighter that all partners need and will be able to depend on for decades.

In his remarks, Kendall explored the nature of the F-35, which has overcome many issues since its first flight in 2006, by discussing the 1981 nonfiction book he's reading, author

Tracy Kidder's “The Soul of a New Machine.”

The Pulitzer Prize- and American Book Award-winning story is an account of the efforts of a team of researchers at now-defunct Data General, one of the first late-1960s microcomputer firms, to create a new 32-bit superminicomputer.

"At the time, Data General was in trouble,” Kendall said. “A company called Digital Equipment Corp. had introduced something called the VAX. They were cutting-edge in their day, and Data General had to respond to this threat, so they launched a crash program to develop a new design."

Telling the story, Kendall explained the point in the book he considers relevant today.

"The program manager, the chief designer for Data General, realized the computer he was building was too complex to be understood by a single individual," the undersecretary said. But the designer realized that no single person could possibly grasp all the complexity involved in the design they were creating, he added, and the designer had to trust many others to design their parts successfully and bring the machine together.

"It's that complexity that led to a very successful product, and they were successful at the time," Kendall said. "It's that complexity that characterizes the product behind me," referring to a gleaming new F-35.

During one of Kendall's first office calls several years ago with then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, the undersecretary recalled, "[Panetta] said, 'Frank, why can't we make more things like the [mine resistant, ambush-protected vehicle]? Why is the F-35 taking so long and costing so much?'

"My answer was one word," Kendall said. "Complexity."

The undersecretary listed several of the factors that make the F-35 so complex: "Millions of lines of code, an incredibly integrated design that brings together stealth, a number of characteristics, very advanced sensors, advanced radars, advanced [infrared] sensors, incredibly capable electronic warfare capability, integration of weapons and integration across the force of multiple aircraft and multiple sensors to work together as a team."

All of that integrated technology is unprecedented, he said. "You're talking about something that no one has ever done before, which will put us all a decade or more ahead of anybody else out there. And [it will] keep us ahead for some time to come as we continue to upgrade the F-35," he added.

Such complexity has led to the cost and the time it has taken to design and build the F-35, Kendall said, but also to the capability it represents. “That's why we're all still together,” he added. “That's why all the communities I talked about have stayed with this aircraft."

As he ended his remarks, Kendall asked for a round of applause for the engineers and production workers who made the F-35 possible.

DoD Supports Wildland Firefight in Pacific Northwest


By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2014 – As fires rage in two states in the Pacific Northwest, Defense Department fire-suppression efforts are underway with two Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System-capable C-130s from U.S. Northern Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said today.

Warren said the total-force operation includes nearly 300 Washington Army National Guard soldiers and six helicopters working with local first responders. In Oregon, about 40 state Army National Guardsmen and four helicopters are supporting fire suppression operations there.

“To date, the two MAFFS aircraft have flown 27 sorties, executing 41 airdrops and delivering nearly 80,000 gallons of fire retardant on fires in Idaho and Oregon,” Warren said.

Under Northcom authority, he added, nearly 40 active-duty Air National Guardsmen and the two MAFFS aircraft from the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing are supporting the National Interagency Fire Center’s efforts in the region out of Boise, Idaho.

DoD aircraft began missions July 20, and since then, 17 large fires have sparked in Washington and Oregon, with 13 of those in Oregon, said National Interagency Fire Center public affairs specialist Jennifer Smith in Boise.

“Since [July 20], 287,015 acres have burned and 157 structures have been lost in Washington,” Smith said, adding that more than 617,000 acres and nine structures have burned in Oregon.

There has been no containment of the 17 large-scale fires, Smith said, mostly because rainfall has moderated the fires.

“We are expecting nine of the 17 fires will be transferred back to the local units [such as the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management] when they’re under control or contained in a day or so,” which would relieve DoD of its efforts in those fires, she added.

“The [MAFFS] mission is a big job, and I want to emphasize this is a team effort,” Air Force Col. Charles Davis III, commander of the Wildland Firefighting Expeditionary Group, said at a news conference in Boise today. Davis is with the North Carolina Air National Guard and is based at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise for the effort.

The three Air National Guard wings -- the 153rd Airlift Wing from Wyoming and the 145th and 146th Airlift Wings from North Carolina -- – as well as the 302nd Airlift Wing, an Air Force Reserve unit from Colorado, “all support NIFC in fire suppression efforts whenever we are required to join the fight,” Davis said.

“This is 42nd year that C-130 aircraft have fought these fires,” Davis added. “It protects lives and properties of our fellow citizens, and we see it as a vital mission to the Air National Guard and Reserve.”

The Defense Department has eight air tankers at its disposal, said Air Force Lt. Col. Bryan Allen of the California Air National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing said during the news conference. “We have air tankers throughout the country to respond to surge requirements. We maintain a readiness to bring these air tankers to the U.S. Forest Service in all four wings in less than 48 hours based on their needs.”

Allen said if fires break out in California and DoD support is needed, MAFFS are in the state. “We’re ready to rock,” he said.

The MAFFS system is pallet-based and rolls onto the back of a standard C-130, Allen explained. Each contains up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant, which is dispensed under pressure, and can drop 27,000 pounds of retardant in three to five seconds, he said.

Pilots and crew members are Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members, Allen added. “They are considered some of the best C-130 pilots in the world.”

The MAFFS pilots have a minimum of six years flying C-130s before being considered for aerial firefighting missions, he noted. That experience provides continuity over the years, he added, so pilots and flight crew members can perform the mission safely, effectively and efficiently.

“It takes more than an average C-130 pilot to do this type of mission,” Allen said.

U.S. military delivers medicals supplies to Vietnamese soldiers critically injured in helicopter crash

by Master Sgt. Matthew McGovern
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs


7/24/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- 
The U.S. military delivered 200 jars of burn cream to Vietnamese soldiers critically injured in a helicopter crash near Hanoi, July 7.
The MI-171 helicopter was on a parachute training flight near Hanoi when it went down with 21 crew and special forces soldiers, killing 16, three died later and two remain in critical condition at a hospital in Hanoi.
The Pacific Air Forces Surgeon General Office, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, and the U.S. Pacific Command J5 Southeast Asia Policy Division at Camp Smith, Hawaii, received the urgent request from the Vietnam Embassy July 16, seeking assistance for the purchase and delivery of additional medicine to Military National Institute of Burns (NIB) in Hanoi, Vietnam, where the soldiers are being treated.
"As a physician, I'm always grateful for the opportunity to assist in the healing process," said Lt. Col. Cecili Sessions, PACAF Surgeon's Office international health specialist. "As an International Health Specialist, I'm grateful that our team was able to support our Vietnamese military medical counterparts in caring for their injured."
Sessions consulted with dermatologists at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii and the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, to open lines of communication regarding the recommended topical treatment. 
While Chief Master Sgt. Melanie Dolzanie, PACAF SG medical logistics functional manager, was working to locate a pharmaceutical distributor, Col. Tuan Ton from PACOM J5, guided the Vietnamese defense attaché in Washington DC through the process of procurement. This collective effort acquired the quantity and type of burn cream requested which arrived in Hawaii the next day from the east coast.
"I'm really glad we were able to come through for them," Dolzanie said. "It's important that we build strong relationships now so if we ever need to help or support each other in the future we have worked out the challenges."
According to Ton, who made the shipment arrangements, the first shipment of 36 jars was expedited by commercial air to Army Maj. Jacky Ly, Chief of the U.S. Office of Defense of Cooperation in Hanoi.  He then personally delivered the urgently needed cream to the Director of the NIB. 
The second shipment of 164 jars arrived in Vietnam two days later via a C-17 Globemaster III from the 15th Wing at JBPH-Hickam, Hawaii.
"It took a lot of teamwork to make it happened; I am glad to know that the patients were immediately treated with this cream," Ton said.  "Indeed, it was a terrible accident but it brought the two countries closer together, particular in military medicine cooperation."

SECAF discusses current, future challenges with 501st CSW

by Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton
501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs


7/25/2014 - RAF ALCONBURY, United Kingdom  -- Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James visited RAF Alconbury and RAF Molesworth, United Kingdom, to learn more about the mission of the 501st Combat Support Wing and to discuss with Airmen the current state of the Air Force.

During her visit, James was able to meet with 501st CSW Airmen and see firsthand how their innovation and dedication powers the nation's only combat support wing.

"I have full confidence that the Airmen of U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa are well positioned to be forward, ready, now," James said.

The "Forward, Ready, Now" concept allows USAFE-AFAFRICA Airmen to effectively and efficiently provide capabilities and execute missions in support of combatant commanders and national objectives.

"The readiness of today is absolutely crucial," James continued. "We need to be ready to execute our core competencies. Now, more than ever, we need the right training, equipment and people to accomplish whatever our nation asks of us."

Forward-based, ready forces in the European theater have the flexibility to tailor themselves to rapidly deliver airpower to strategic locations all over the world.

"I expect the operations tempo of the Air Force to remain high for what I consider to be the foreseeable future," she said. "Of course we are winding down combat operations in Afghanistan as we enter a new phase, but it's a very busy rest of the world."

James said, despite looming budget cuts, the Air Force is committed to remaining fully engaged during these dynamic times.

"In this dangerous world it's very important that our Air Force have top-notch readiness," she said. "Given the focus on one type of mission over the last dozen years, our full spectrum of readiness today is not where I would like it to be. We are making a big push to get those readiness levels up across the Air Force."

James said the way to improve readiness is to focus on properly funding the Air Force and making tough decisions concerning aircraft and manpower - with the focus of reinvesting the savings in readiness.

While the Air Force does not want to reduce its total force any more than necessary, future cuts are to be expected, James said. She promised to keep commanders informed of significant changes and urged all Airmen to take the initiative and research their eligibility and options through the many resources available to them.

"We are trying as best we can to use voluntary incentives as the primary means to achieve reductions, and only go to involuntary reductions when we must," she said. "We have tried throughout the entire process, to build in time - time to allow Airmen to consider their records; time to allow Airmen to seek out their mentors, supervisors and leaders to get advice; and time to talk it over with their families."

James also said the Air Force has restructured its focus on developing quality Airmen during these uncertain times. The new feedback system, which rolled out July 1, provides Airmen a unique opportunity to reflect on their own knowledge and awareness of Air Force responsibilities, accountabilities and core values.

"This new evaluation system is really designed to make the performance review system much more meaningful for them, and to allow them to grow as Airmen," James said. "It involves continuous and honest feedback. That is the whole purpose of the new system."

James said the future of the Air Force is dependent upon supervisors at all levels mentoring and developing their people into quality Airmen focused on tackling today's challenges through innovation and fiscally-conscious strategic planning. Especially with the unique challenges facing 501st CSW Airmen, James said the relationship between supervisors and Airmen is at a critical juncture.

"More than ever, supervisors must know their Airmen and use this system to align their individual goals and dreams with the needs of the force," she said. "This will allow us to vector Airmen toward a successful and productive career in the Air Force."

3rd AF commander visits RAF Mildenhall

by Airman 1st Class Kyla Gifford
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


7/25/2014 - RAF MILDENHALL, England -- U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, 3rd Air Force commander, along with Chief Master Sgt. Mark Marson, 3rd Air Force command chief, visited RAF Mildenhall July 21 and 22, 2014, to meet with Team Mildenhall Airmen.

The general toured a variety of units, including the 100th Security Forces Squadron, 100th Maintenance Group and 351st Air Refueling Squadron.

Roberson's visit also included piloting a KC-135 Stratotanker during a refueling mission with F-15C Eagles and F-15E Strike Eagles from the 48th Fighter Wing, out of RAF Lakenheath, England. The 351st ARS showed him how they enable the global reach capabilities of the Air Force.

"I am proud and enthusiastic about what you are doing at the 100th Air Refueling Wing. You respond quickly, you innovate and you are motivated," Roberson said after his flight.
Roberson and Marson also dined with top-performing Airmen from across the wing, listened to their feedback and answered questions.

"It was nice to hear our leaders' perspectives on various topics, especially on matters I can personally relate to," said Senior Airman Alexis Musumeci, 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operator from Oregon, Wisconsin. "Gen. Roberson and Chief Master Sgt. Marson were very personable and offered a lot of great advice. It was an awesome mentorship experience."

To end his visit, Roberson held an all call to offer his thanks to the men and women of the 100th ARW.

"The mission that you have is so critical to what we are doing here," said Roberson. "Our Air Force provides global vigilance, global reach and global power. None of these things could happen without you doing what you do every day."

USS Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit Deploy



From Amphibious Squadron 5 Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Nearly 4,000 Sailors and Marines from the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) departed San Diego on July 25 for a deployment in support of the Navy's maritime strategy.

The Makin Island ARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), the command ship for Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5 and the 11th MEU, as well as amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45), and the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) who is embarking upon its maiden deployment.

"These last couple of months the Makin Island ARG has taken on many challenges during this training cycle and have successfully passed every evolution with flying colors," said Capt. Vic Cooper, commander of PHIBRON 5. "The hard work, dedication, and unit cohesion shown by the Sailors and Marines have impressed me and I am confident that we will have a successful deployment and are well prepared for all missions."

While deployed, the ARG/MEU team serves as a sea-based, expeditionary crisis response force capable of conducting amphibious missions across the full range of military operations.

"We have a fantastic Navy and Marine Corps team, and we have just completed, very successfully, a challenging and comprehensive pre-deployment training period that has prepared us for the uncertainty of our upcoming deployment," said Col. Matthew Trollinger, commanding officer of the 11th MEU. "We are ready to get underway and successfully execute any mission assigned."

The mission of the Makin Island ARG is to help provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the seas and provide humanitarian/disaster response as well as supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.