Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Pease ANGB selected to receive KC-46A Pegasus

WASHINGTON (AFNS) --  Air Force officials announced Aug. 6, Pease Air National Guard Base, New Hampshire as the Air Force's first Air National Guard-led KC-46A Pegasus main operating base.

"The KC-46A Pegasus aerial tanker remains one of our top acquisition priorities. Making a final basing decision is an important step in recapitalizing the tanker fleet," said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. "We will begin to replace our aging tanker fleet in 2016, but even when the program is complete in 2028 we will have replaced less than half of the current tanker fleet and will still be flying over 200 half-century-old KC-135s."

Pease ANGB was selected as preferred alternative in May 2013. The Air Force recently completed the environmental analysis required by the National Environmental Protection Act to provide further information concerning the basing process.

Air Force officials analyzed operational considerations, installation attributes, economic, and environmental factors for each location before making a final basing decision. Subsequent KC-46 basing decisions will use similar criteria.

Air Force officials also explained their rationale for choosing Pease.

"The Air Force chose this base using operational analysis, results of site surveys, and military judgment factors," said Timothy Bridges, the Air Force deputy assistant secretary for installations.

Officials said Pease ANGB was selected as the first Air National Guard-led KC-46A main operating base because of its highly successful existing active-duty association, which would lead to lower active-duty manpower requirements. Its location in a region of high air refueling receiver demand was also a key consideration.

Selection of Pease ANGB will minimize the challenge of fielding a new weapon system and avoid having to simultaneously establish a new active association.

"Tankers are the lifeblood of our joint force's ability to respond to crisis and contingencies," said Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh III. "The Pegasus will be capable of day and night operations and enable a rapid, global capability that will support U.S., joint, allied and coalition forces. The aircraft will also underpin our humanitarian missions."

Welsh also committed to ensuring continued support of combatant commander tanker requirements during a tanker recapitalization effort that will last decades by continuing to fully fund upgrades and improvements to the KC-135 fleet.

The first aircraft are scheduled to begin arriving at Pease ANGB beginning in fiscal year 2018. The formal training unit and first main operating base will begin receiving aircraft in fiscal year 2016.

Subsequent KC-46 decisions will use similar criteria.

The KC-46A will provide improved capability, including boom and drogue refueling on the same sortie, world-wide navigation and communication, airlift capability on the entire main deck floor, receiver air refueling, improved force protection and survivability, and multi-point air refueling capability.

Nellis AFB Airmen save elderly couple during flash flood

By Staff Sgt. Siuta B. Ika, 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
August 06, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AFNS) -- Three Airmen from the 820th RED HORSE, assisted by three members of the 799th Air Base Squadron, saved an elderly couple during a flash flood Aug. 4 while they were on their way home from their work sites at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.

Tech. Sgt. Adam Dixon, the first 820th RED HORSE responder, was one of the first to see the couple’s Toyota Prius stuck in the median after they had attempted to evade the rapid rising water by crossing over U.S. Route 95, north of Las Vegas.

“The water was flowing over the shoulder and cutting across the road, so people were backing up and crossing the median – which was actually lower than the interstate – so at that point we started seeing cars get stuck in the mud,” Dixon said. “Me and (Airmen 1st Class Joshua Parnell and Christopher Jones from the 799th ABS) first tried to push their car out of the mud, but it wasn’t budging. Within seconds the water went from being at boot level to waist level, so I knew we just needed to get them out of there at that point.”

As the water level picked up, so did the current’s force, which made opening and holding the car door for the elderly couple to escape extremely difficult.

“That’s when I saw Sergeant Dixon on the driver’s side yelling for them to get out, so I ran to that side to help him hold the door open,” said Staff Sgt. James Maxwell, the second 820th RED HORSE responder. “It was pretty intense because we could see another car floating towards us and we didn’t want to get pinned by it, so I know we were both pushing as hard as we could on that door.”

After getting the door open, the elderly man quickly exited the vehicle, but with each passing second the current grew even stronger and the man’s wife needed additional assistance exiting the vehicle.

“Sergeant Dixon got her close to me and I grabbed her and carried her up to higher ground,” said Airman 1st Class Christopher Fitzgerald, the third 820th RED HORSE responder. “It all happened so fast that I didn’t really think – it was just all reaction.”

After the elderly couple were safe on the embankment of the median, one rescuer that had been assisting the three RED HORSE members was swept away by the current, but was grabbed and pulled out of the water by Jones, as Parnell and Staff Sgt. Tye Warner, also with the 799th ABS, repositioned cars on the highway so that they would not be caught and swept into the median.

“I just saw an arm and a head flying down the water and was like, ‘I’m going to pull them out and hope I don’t fall in,’” Jones said. “It was the right thing to do.”

If the rescue took even a few more seconds, Dixon said the results could have been gravely different.

“Right after the couple got out, the car floated down the median, and seconds after that we saw it upside down,” Dixon said. “I’m just happy they were both okay, and I’d think that even if we weren’t there, somebody else would have gotten them out of there.”

The 820th RED HORSE commander, Col. Aaron Young, praised the rescuers for their efforts.

“I’m very proud of their heroic actions,” Young said. “They were in the right place at the right time and took swift, life-saving action. They are but a few of our many great American Airmen who demonstrate extraordinary instinct and initiative in times of need. It is an honor and privilege to lead and serve with Airmen like them.”

Hurricane Hunters fly into Hurricane Iselle for life-saving data

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFNS) -- Airmen with the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, also known as the Hurricane Hunters, deployed to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, from Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, Aug. 5 to collect weather data in Hurricane Iselle as it approaches the Hawaiian Islands.

The team of reservists flew into Iselle Tuesday evening and the morning of Aug. 6 to collect weather data to assist forecasters in determining the status of the storm, which is now a category 1 hurricane. The data the Hurricane Hunters provide to the National Hurricane Center in Miami and the National Weather Service's Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu increases the accuracy of the forecast up to 25 percent, said Maj. Jon Brady, a 53rd WRS aerial reconnaissance weather officer, or ARWO.

"Measuring the conditions within the storm provides emergency managers with the best information possible to assist them with determining the impact, issuing evacuation notices, and saves lives by letting the public know what to expect," Brady said.

The category 1 hurricane is expected to reach the Hawaii Island in the afternoon of Aug. 7 and impact the islands throughout the weekend, according to the NWSCPH. Hurricane Julio is about two to three days behind Iselle and is expected to follow in the same path.

The Hunters plan to fly reconnaissance mission into Hurricane Julio once Iselle passes and is no longer the main threat to the island chain, Brady said.

People in the areas that could be affected by this storm are urged to monitor local weather reports, he added.

According to Lt. Col. Roy Deatherage, an ARWO and the mission commander for the squadron's forward deployed operation center, squadron personnel will continue to operate from the island until approximately Aug. 13.

Unusual sport sends fuels Airman to France

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
JBER Public Affairs

8/6/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Cycle polo? What in the world is cycle polo? That's a thing? These are questions Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan MacPherson, 673d Logistics Readiness Squadron Fuels Management Flight, fuels service center controller, is accustomed to hearing.

A passionate competitor in the sport, MacPherson said he is happy to explain.

However, what the Hoboken, N.J., native sometimes leaves out is the fact he has world-class talent, demonstrated by recently qualifying to compete in the World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championships in Montpellier, France, later this month.

Not only is it a "thing," it's a sport played in more than 30 countries and, according to WHBP officials, the sport grows in popularity each year.

MacPherson qualified to compete in the world championship after competing in the North American Hardcourt regional qualifier in July.

MacPherson's team was one of the top 16 qualifiers to advance to the world championship.

For some people, the word polo might conjure up images of English gentlemen on horseback and oversized clubs playing what looks to be a hybrid version of hockey and golf; and, in its essence, that's not far off the mark, MacPherson said.

However, the game of polo has evolved and taken on many forms since the late 1800s.
One of the more popular iterations of the sport is known as "hardcourt," typically played on a street hockey rink.

"The best way to describe it is three-on-three hockey," MacPherson said. "You put the ball in the middle, somebody counts down and one person from each team sprints at each other in what's called a joust, and after that, you try to put the ball in the goal."

Although game rules and length vary based on location, in general, games are 15 minutes long or the first team to score five goals.

There are many rules within the game, but one consistent rule is players are not permitted to touch the ground with their feet. This is known as a "dab" and requires the offender to stop competing and cycle to midcourt to tap their mallet on a designated penalty stripe before returning to the action.

Additionally, mallets have a narrow end and a wide side. To score a goal, players must hit the ball with the narrow end; using the side is called a "shuffle," and the shot does not count.

Balance, cardiovascular endurance, communication and hand-eye coordination are key in the game, MacPherson said.

"This isn't a sport that's natural to your body," MacPherson said. "Trying to hit a ball with a stick while riding a bike sounds like something you would do in a circus. It's really awkward at first."

The ability to master all these things is what sets him apart from most competitors, said David Henke, an Army veteran and teammate.

"He's really fast and has an accurate shot," Henke said. "The coordination he has, comparatively to a lot of people, is incredible."

Prior to picking up the sport in 2011, MacPherson had experience in bike riding, soccer and hockey, three sports that primed him for bike polo. The championship-hopeful Airman also attributes much of his success to intangible qualities he's picked up in the Air Force.

"The mental tools the Air Force gives you carry over well into the game," MacPherson said. "The sport is controlled chaos, so passing, communication and teamwork is huge. There's no coach or assigned positions, really. However, my job is communication. Being a leader in the Air Force, I find myself in a leader position on the team, so there is a lot of correlation there."

While MacPherson is able to contribute to the game with skills given to him by the Air Force, the game, and his training for it, gives back to him by improving his physical fitness, directly impacting mission readiness.

"I try to go for a 30-40 mile bike ride at least once a week," MacPherson said. It helps staying in shape. Riding a bike is a great way to help with your run time. I've knocked over a minute off my time, just from riding my bike."

MacPherson also learned perseverance through the game.

"The first time I came out here, I was falling all the time and couldn't hit the ball at all," he said. "I just stuck with it, and gradually picked it up. You'd be amazed what you can do when you set your mind to something."

The fuels sergeant is hopeful the skills he's acquired will carry him and his team to victory later this month.

"I'm really excited for it," MacPherson said. "Just going to the North American championship was my goal this year. It's been my dream for the past two years."

MacPherson's success comes as no surprise to his leadership.

"After speaking to him about the competition, it didn't surprise me that he met the stringent criteria," said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Ronald Crowl, 673d LRS fuels management flight chief. "It is a great honor, and the flight is standing behind him in hopes that he will come out with top honors. Not too often do you have members of your flight associated with activities that bring such prestige, and showcases their abilities to strive to a higher calling of their talents."

While he's a competitor at heart with a fierce desire to win, MacPherson said the most fulfilling aspect is the camaraderie he has with not only his teammates, but other competitors as well.

"My favorite thing I take out of this is the sense of community" MacPherson said. "We're like a big family. Everyone who goes to these tournaments instantly becomes friends. I know people from the U.S., Australia, Japan and all over Europe. These are friendships I will take to the grave. This silly game brings us together.

"Maybe we're a little crazy, but we're crazy together."

B-2 Spirits Conduct Routine Deployment to Andersen AFB

Release Number: 140806

8/6/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- Three B-2 Spirit aircraft from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Aug. 6, 2014, to conduct familiarization training activities in the Pacific region.  
This training deployment demonstrates continuing U.S. commitment to regular, global strategic bomber operations throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
The bombers will be accompanied by 220 Airmen from Whiteman AFB.
Air Force Global Strike Command continues routine deployment of bombers to Andersen AFB, providing U.S. Pacific Air Forces and U.S. Pacific Command commanders global strike capability and extended deterrence against potential adversaries.
For more information, contact the PACAF Public Affairs office at 808-448-3291.

CNO Visits Naval Base Ventura County

By Kimberly Gearhart, Naval Base Ventura County Public Affairs Officer

PORT HUENEME, Calif. (NNS) -- Fourteen Sailors stationed at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) in Southern California rededicated themselves to military service with Adm. Jon Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), opening an all-hands call question and answer session at Needham Theater Aug. 4.

It's not every day you make the decision to re-enlist in the Navy, let alone have the CNO administer your oath.

During the re-enlistment, Greenert recognized the important contributions families make in a Sailor's career. Vying to be heard over a baby who was particularly upset to be separated from her re-enlisting father, Greenert jokingly credited himself as the reason for her tears.

Jokes aside, Greenert said, "This is why we do what we do. This is why we serve."

Opening the all-hands call with a current events run-down, Greenert detailed some of the many conflicts bubbling up around the globe. Ukraine. Gaza. Libya. Instability around the globe, answered at every turn by the U.S. Navy, Greenert noted.

"We're busy," he said. "We're in demand."

For most of the hour-long event, Greenert took questions from the floor, which covered everything from contracting standards to tuition assistance requirements.

Yeoman 3rd Class Kwanza Coxbaker, of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 55, opened the question and answer session with a bang.

"I'm going to be the next CNO," she declared. "What do I need to do to take your job?"

Noting that transitioning from enlisted to officer and making CNO is not unprecedented. Adm. Mike Boorda enlisted in the 1950s and became the 25th CNO in 1994. Greenert also noted that hard work and a "relentless" dedication to your goal is necessary to accomplish anything. That includes becoming CNO.

An ensign from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3 wanted to know how to foster an ethical work environment for her team.

"Example," Greenert said. "You've got to lead an ethical life. Define precisely what your standards are, then live them."

He also addressed the changing landscape of naval warfare, addressing questions about drones, deployments and drawdowns. Gaps at sea are a concern, he said, but one the Navy is working diligently to correct. As for the future, NBVC is well positioned as a "big hub of future capabilities," Greenert said.

In addition to the All Hands Call, Greenert was here to gain a better understanding of the support being provided to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) with unaccompanied children, which included a tour of the facility at Building 267.

"What I saw was great cooperation with no impact to our Navy missions," Greenert said.