Military News

Monday, August 11, 2014

440th reservists bring healthcare to Garden Island

by Tech. Sgt. Elizabeth Moody
440th Airlift Wing, Public Affairs


8/9/2014 - POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, N.C.  -- A team of reservists from the 440th Medical Squadron here travelled to Kauai, Hawaii, June 16-26 to join other reserve volunteers from the armed forces in support of 2014 Tropic Care. Members of the medical team included a physical therapist, several dentists, optometry and dental technicians.

Their joint-service humanitarian mission involved working long days in make-shift clinics, while providing basic medical care for more than 9,000 people on the island. According to Hawaii's Department of Health, more than 22,000 patient services were provided, including more than 5,000 pairs of new eyeglasses for the islanders during the 11-day assignment.

"I am extremely proud of the service my team provided in support of Tropic Care," said Col. Eugene Gaspard, 440th medical squadron commander. "This was an awesome opportunity for them to provide medical and dental care to an underserved population as well as gain experience in working and training in a 'deployed' environment on real patients."

Gaspard said not only did the patients benefit from the care they received, but our Airmen gained invaluable experience that will strengthen their military and professional careers.

The humanitarian mission also provided an opportunity to demonstrate how to deliver world-class healthcare services in a joint civil and military environment.

"I really enjoyed working with the Navy and seeing how each branch works while learning different techniques," said Airman 1st Class Jatoni White, a 440th MDS dental assistant.

"I've never felt that there's much difference between the uniformed services," said Maj. Eric James, 440th MDS physical therapist, here. "We're all in the same fight. And when you drill down to the fact that we're all medical people, it doesn't matter if you're Army, Navy, Marine or Air Force because we're all medical providers and we're all one mission and one fight."

"It was good teamwork," said Capt. Jason Young, 440th MDS dentist. "Working with people from other armed forces was my favorite part of the mission."

Providing care for so many people during the mission in such a short period of time was challenging for the medical teams but the outpouring of appreciation by the islanders made every hour worth the labor, said Young. Before leaving Kauai, Young said a traditional Hawaiian luau was given by the local community to thank the Tropic Care team for their work supporting the humanitarian operation.

"The appreciation shown by local people for the care given by the medical teams was the best part of the trip," said Capt. Bryan Roach, 440th MDS dentist. "The folks were really nice and they appreciated our work so it made the long work days really worth it."

Diet technicians help Airmen stay healthy

by Master Sgt. Stephen Staedler
440th Airlift Wing, Public Affairs


8/10/2014 - POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, N.C. -- There's no question that the Air Force wants healthy Airmen.

Mind, body and spirit - the three components that comprise a healthy Airman - are outlined in the Air Force Core Values, Air Force Standards and the Airman's Creed. Of course the component that's of most interest to the diet technicians of the 440th Airlift Wing is body.

The wing's diet technicians help develop and implement nutrition plans to keep Airmen at their peak mental and physical ability.

"This is a very interesting and necessary career field," said Master Sgt. Houston Gilliand Jr., NCOIC, professional services, 440th Medical Squadron. "Our team (Nutritional Medicine Flight) has information and resources available to help every Airman in the wing lead a healthier lifestyle."

It should come as no surprise that the way to start the journey to a healthier life is through the foods Airmen choose to eat.

"I think most people know what they should and shouldn't eat, but it's all about practicing good eating habits," said Airman 1st Class Allison Hixson, diet technician, 440th MDS. "The goal is to cut out a lot of the unhealthy snacks and make sure you're getting the right amount of fruit, protein and vitamins, because together they affect how your body works every day. As long as you're getting the right amount of nutrition from your meals, your body will function a lot better."

In addition to advising Airmen on the best foods to eat, Air Force diet technicians perform a wide variety of duties, including:

· Promoting sound nutrition practices and providing a supportive environment for in-garrison and deployed military operations that optimize human performance
· Performing a variety of management and clinical duties, including nutrition assessment and patient education, menu planning, conducting patient interviews and training nutrition personnel
· Formulating and implementing policies for nutritional medicine service and serving as an advisor to the commander in matters of nutrition and dietetics.

The geographic location of any military installation and the local foods and drinks people consume poses a challenge to our diet technicians. Pope Army Airfield is in the heart of sweet tea country, a high sugary drink that people need to drink in moderation, Gilliand said, adding a tasty alternative is water with a slice of lemon or cucumber to give it a little flavor.

"There are a lot of different things out there for those who don't like straight water," he said.

The bottom line is that Airmen need to be physically fit and ready to deploy, and making healthy eating choices is the best way to do that.

"The Air Force is pushing for a lifestyle of healthy living," said Gilliand. "The key is to make smart healthy choices, exercise and eat in moderation. Do that, and you'll be fine."

For more information on healthy eating, or to speak to one of the wing's diet technicians, call 910-394-3299.

ARPC makes progress improving system reliability

by Lt. Col. Belinda Petersen
Air Reserve Personnel Center Public Affairs


8/8/2014 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Systems, such as the virtual Personnel Center-Guard and Reserve, experience severe spikes in personnel program usage during the first weekend of every month as Citizen Airmen and Guardsmen perform required duty. As a result of these spikes, vPC-GR crashed almost without fail. Such hindrances have caused world-wide headaches until recent efforts by Air Reserve Personnel Center officials helped improve system reliability and proved it by keeping vPC-GR up for three unit training assembly weekends in a row.

"On the first full weekend of any month, [parts] of the system would overheat and vPC-GR would go down for the rest of the weekend," said Brig. Gen. Samuel Mahaney, ARPC commander, during a meeting with members of the Senior Executive Service who visited ARPC Aug. 5.

Daniel Sitterly, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, and John Fedrigo, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force Reserve Affairs and Airman Readiness, received feedback from ARPC members and leaders which could potentially help improve policy or change legislation.

"Our mission is for us to continue to improve our human capital programs and policies so that we can execute our mission today and for the future force," Sitterly said. "What I intend to get out of [these meetings] is the fourth tenet of your commander's leadership style and that is feedback. What we want from you is to hear all the wonderful things that you are doing for sure, but we want to hear what you think are some good ideas for the future as we go forward."

Progress and feedback is what they got.

"Our guys worked with the system program office to replace those old parts [on vPC-GR] and as a result, we've had three months in a row where that has not happened," Mahaney said. "Because of the infrastructure, not the software, we went from basically unsatisfactory to barely satisfactory, so we're at least at a level now where we are able to look at wing commanders in the eye and say we're making some progress," the general said.

ARPC relies heavily on a complex relationship of outside organizations that own the infrastructure. The majority of problems causing systems degradation of virtualized personnel services do not occur within ARPC or its control.

Regardless, ARPC members are committed to providing generations of Airmen with world-class customer service.

"We could say we don't own the infrastructure and stop right there, but it's our responsibility to take care of our customers," Mahaney said. "We have to go ahead and come up with solutions ourselves."

ARPC has not only generated solutions, but has begun an implementation plan that wastes no time in improving service for customers.

"We are doing a phased approach to come up with mid-term solutions. And we're expecting to have something in place by January of next year," Mahaney said. "At that point, we will have gotten far above the satisfactory line in pursuit of excellence."

The first phase will virtualize ARPC's server at Buckley AFB. The next step will be to put that server on a cloud and connect to a mid-tier server at Robins AFB, Georgia, which will also be virtualized. The final phase will determine a hosting solution.

In the meantime, ARPC members have implemented a number of short-term solutions that have increased vPC-GR's reliability and speed.

The team started by expanding the bandwidth from 20 megabytes to 45 megabytes resulting in faster service and fewer spinning "doughnuts of death," the familiar spinning icon that indicates a program is locked up and not responding. Next, they focused on increasing the thread count (the number of processes computers can fit through the network), which was set at 200.

"The 201st customer would get a message saying service unavailable. So we increased that to 750 [thread count] and we are working towards increasing that even more," said Mahaney.

Other briefings presented to Sitterly and Fedrigo included process integration with the Air Force Personnel Center at Randolph AFB, Texas, and an update on Human Capital Transformation which is almost 100 percent complete.

To learn more about these initiatives, as well as all of ARPC's goals and objectives, click here for ARPC's Strategic Plan, 2014 - 2018.

Lewis-McChord joint forces conduct Operation Desert Cougar

by Airman 1st Class Jacob Jimenez
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


8/8/2014 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Air Force and Army service members from here participated in Operation Desert Cougar, a joint emergency deployment readiness exercise that took them to Schoonover, California, August 4.

Airmen from the 446th Airlift Wing and the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron worked with Soldiers from the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) to deploy a scalable force package to a simulated area of responsibility.

"It's cool to be able to do different kinds of missions," said Army Staff Sgt. Michael Burns, 1st Special Forces Group unmanned aircraft maintainer. "This is good training and a great learning experience."

The exercise took root three months prior when 1st SFG (A) recognized the need for air mobility in order to practice transporting a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear special forces package. They contacted the 446th AW for assistance. In the following months, the 446th AW, 22nd STS and the 1st SFG (A) worked together to plan and coordinate the exercise, holding numerous joint meetings and practice runs to develop the necessary standard operating procedures to conduct the operation.

"First Group had the need for airlift and we met it," said Capt. Patrick Hancock, 446th AW combat weapons and tactics chief and mission planner for the exercise. "The coordination and planning among joint agencies was key to the success of this exercise."

The CBRN special forces package included an unmanned aircraft, Humvee, two all-terrain vehicles and15 airborne insertion personnel.

The exercise began with loading of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft with the CBRN special forces package departing McChord Field enroute to the designated training area in Schoonover.
With the direction and coordination of the 22nd STS combat controllers, 446th AW pilots landed the C-17 on an unimproved dirt runway at the designated training area. Upon landing, 446th AW loadmasters assisted the 1st SFG (A) in unloading the unmanned aircraft and its support equipment from C-17 before departing.

"The 22nd STS and 446th Airlift Wing are both professional units that always deliver top notch training and support to their Army JBLM partners," said Maj. Gerry Tuck, 1st SFG  support company commander. "Without either of these units, this mission would not have happened."

Departing Schoonover, 446th AW pilots flew to the designated drop zone where they airdropped the two ATVs situated in container delivery system bundles. Following the airdrop, pilots then performed the final leg of the mission, dropping 15 static jumpers into the insertion zone.

"What we did today was a great example of us utilizing the capabilities of the C-17 as a joint force," said Tech. Sgt. Scott Templin, 728th Airlift Squadron loadmaster.

In addition to providing valuable training, the exercise provided useful feedback for future operations.

"This exercise set new standards for providing the necessary support systems to provide signal support, intelligence analysis, and the ability to render safe extremely dangerous situations," said Tucker. "The new standard operating procedures developed to make this exercise a success have immediate practical applications across the military."

Yokota hosts displaced passengers

by 2nd Lt. Ashley Wright
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


8/8/2014 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Nearly 200 passengers unexpectedly took up residence at the Samurai Fitness Center here Aug. 1, 2014, after a flight to Kadena Air Base, Japan, was delayed by a monsoonal trough passing through Okinawa.

Members of the 374th Force Support Squadron worked in conjunction with the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron to provide lodging for the displaced passengers.

"Mother Nature had a vote on this one and made flight conditions unsafe," said Mission Support Group Commander Col. Scott Maskery. "When on-base lodging and the off-base contract hotels were at max capacity, we decided to prepare an alternate location."

Volunteers set up cots, fans and water coolers inside the Samurai Fitness Center in order to accommodate the passengers. Army and Air Force Exchange Service locations also stayed open an hour late and opened one hour early.

"Our primary focus was on the health and welfare of the stranded passengers, especially the families," Maskery said. "I'm very proud of how well our team used a tried and true 'plan on the shelf,' quickly modified it for the situation, and then executed that plan in less than two hours from the word 'go.'"

EA-18G Growler officially the combat aircraft flown by 390th ECS

by Airman 1st Class Malissa Lott
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


8/11/2014 - NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. -- A chapter in military aircraft history officially closed in July as the Air Force flying operations at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island transitioned to the EA-18G Growler.

Air Force aircrew members with the 390th Electronic Combat Squadron, who work alongside and train U.S. Navy pilots and weapons system officers, took a final flight in the EA-6B Prowlers July 9, 2014. Now the EA-18G Growler is officially the combat aircraft flown by the 390th ECS.

"Our main mission is to train combat-effective aviators who will be flying in the EA-18G Growler throughout the worldwide theatre of operations," said Air Force Captain Ruskin Herrera, VAQ 129 Training Squadron electronic warfare officer.

These missions will be strategic resources for Air Force aircrew or combat forces.

"We will be supporting the Air Force whether it's in training environments or combat," said Air Force Major Ajay Giri, VAQ 129 Training Squadron EWO. "We help increase aircraft lethality and preserve our war-time reserves and equipment. We're going to minimize the exposure that our aircrew or our combat forces will be exposed to."

Electronic attack missions are extremely complex and vital to providing cover for friendly aircraft during joint-combat operations.

"Electronic attack is jamming radars, detecting signals being emitted from other radars and being able to protect other aircraft from those radar along with surface-to-air missiles," said Herrera. "This allows the overall mission to be accomplished."

Though the EA-6B Prowler and the EA-18G Growler are similar, the Growler has much more state-of-the-art equipment than the Prowler.

"We have the air-to-air capabilities and can self-protect, should we get intercepted by an enemy fighter," said Giri. "It also has highly modern and capable sensors too. We're building on the capabilities the Prowler had by providing state-of-the-art warfighter lethality."

The job of the Growler is more than jamming signals; it collects information which supports aircrews and ground forces.

"Anytime you get more information and send it out to the air players, they will have a much better picture of the battlefield as it develops," said Giri. "Now aircrews have the most up-to-date information going into the threat area and can react more efficiently and lethally."

For the individuals who flew the EA-6B Prowler, this transition brings mixed emotions.

"One of my last flights was to physically fly the Prowler from here down to the boneyard at Davis Monthan Air Force Base [Ariz.]--it's a little bitter sweet," said Air Force Maj. Shalin Turner, 390th ECS assistant director of operations. "Any aviator has a fondness for the aircraft that keeps them safe. It's an old jet but it got the job done for many years."

Rescue reservists collaborate with joint, civilian partners for Operation Pathfinder Minuteman



by 2nd Lt. Anna-Marie Wyant
920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs

8/8/2014 -  CAMP RILEA, Ore. --

Reservists from the 304th Rescue Squadron, Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore., worked alongside Air and Army National Guardsmen and civilian medical personnel during a joint disaster response exercise Aug. 5 at Camp Rilea on Oregon's northwest coast. The exercise, Operation Pathfinder Minuteman, simulated a post-earthquake and tsunami environment with mass casualties in need of medical attention.

 The 304th RQS reservists who participated in the exercise included pararescuemen, combat rescue officers, intelligence specialists, and a ground radio specialist. Along with their National Guard and civilian counterparts--local, state, and federal employees and volunteers--the reservists worked through two scenarios to locate, rescue and provide medical care for simulated patients, including life-size mannequins and real people.

Dr. Jon Jiu, team leader for the Oregon Disaster Medical Team, one of the civilian agencies involved in planning and executing the exercise, said having joint disaster response training is essential in the case of a real-world emergency. He explained Operation Pathfinder Minuteman had three main purposes.

"The first one is building relationships--getting to know the people who are going to be responding," Jiu said. "The second is knowing the capabilities of the organizations you're working with and making plans to organize those capabilities in a cohesive fashion. The third is to work on areas we can improve on before a disaster rather than after."
 
Coming together from across the state and region to prepare for the legitimate possibility of a natural disaster has its challenges due to various agencies, both military and civilian, working in different ways. However, Jiu noted that they were all there for the same reason and were able to communicate and collaborate effectively to meet the exercise objectives.

"All of us medical people, frankly we just want to save lives and do better," he said.

The exercise comprised two scenarios: the first was rescuing personnel in difficult to access wooded/rural areas, while the second centered on rescuing personnel from an urban environment. Both were completed successfully. Jiu thanked the 304th RQS personnel and said they were an integral part of the exercise due to their unique capabilities and operational efficiency.

"The 304th is the epitome of rescue in both capability as well as the medical management in the field," Jiu said. "They're superb to work with--very capable for obvious reasons and actually very facilitative to work with as well."

Lt. Col. John Graver, 304th RQS commander, oversaw rescue operations during the exercise and actively participated in the joint operations center, which was used as the central communications hub for the simulated rescue efforts. He said the exercise was great training for the reservists to work side-by-side with not only fellow Airmen, but also Soldiers and civilians who bring different skills and expertise. Becoming familiar with other agencies' capabilities is mutually beneficial, he said, but also challenging.

"The challenges included integrating with people who have little experience working with the other units and coordinating their efforts for the greater good," Graver said.  "We all know something about medical care and must combine our hospital and field medical skills to provide the right level of treatment in a traumatic setting. It was really eye opening for everyone."


He said despite some challenges, all personnel involved came together to manage the incident sites, triage and treat patients, and move them on for continuing care.

Lt. Col. Kristen Leist, commander, 173rd Medical Group, Kingsley Field, Ore., said she and her personnel who participated in the exercise were impressed by the 304th pararescuemen's skills and capabilities.

"I did not know the scope of their medical skills," Leist said of the PJs. "They're not just going out and finding people--they're triaging and treating... they can go anywhere anytime."

Leist, whose organization is the Oregon Air National Guard unit responsible for coordinating most of the exercise, recognized that for both training and real-world mass casualty disasters, there is a need for military medical personnel across the services and components to work together, but also to include their civilian counterparts. She said having these exercises helps all parties to continually improve their relationships and efficiency.


"We're starting to know each other... know how to work together," she said. "That was the biggest, greatest value from the exercise--being able to talk to each other and network together, plan, and see the benefits."

Jiu echoed Leist's sentiments from a civilian perspective. He noted that while challenges exit, the symbiotic relationship is priceless.

"Political, operational, and financial challenges occur, but with that being said, there are a lot of things we (civilian medical personnel) can't do without the military," Jiu said. "The PJs led the rescue... We're delighted to have them."


Jiu, Leist and Graver agree that the exercise objectives were met, and they look forward to working alongside each other's organizations again in the future. Graver said the 304th RQS was proud to be a part of this important exercise. Creating the opportunity to cultivate these mutually beneficial relationships across several organizations is one of Operation Pathfinder Minuteman's major successes.

"The biggest takeaway is that in the event of a natural disaster, we're going to have to come together," Graver said. "It's not something the military alone can do, so we must learn to work with civilian and other military units in order to all come together to accomplish the same goal: to save lives and aid the injured."

ANG medical decon team preps for worst case scenario

by Airman 1st Class Cody Martin
188th Wing Public Affairs


8/8/2014 - FORT SMITH, Arkansas -- To prepare for future contamination threats, a dozen volunteers from the 188th Wing here learned to assist victims of this particular threat during a training event July 17 at Ebbing Air National Guard Base here.

Part of the Air National Guard's responsibility is to ensure it is always ready, whether it's a deployment or an emergency within the local community.

"I had a great experience with the team," said Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Carbonia, team member. "I can see the team will have a great impact on the 188th and the surrounding community."

Although the team, identified as a 976A Patient Decontamination team, completed the initial trainer course, they will require practice and dedication to hone their skills. This first team is qualified to train additional teams for work and rest replacement cycles which depends on the severity of temperatures. Important aspects of training include quick actions and dedication of team members.

"They picked up training quick and were actively engaging me during training," said Alex Ibarra, Chemical, Biological, Radiation and Nuclear training specialist.

If a chemical incident were to occur, there are two types of patient decontamination care, ambulatory and non-ambulatory services. Ambulatory is for patients that can walk on their own through a self-decontamination area prior to receiving medical evaluation. The non-ambulatory is for patients that are unable to walk on their own; these patients are moved through a team-assisted decontamination area.

"The way the team is set up we will be able to triage 100 people per hour," said Gray. "That's 60 ambulatory and 40 non-ambulatory patients."

Both types of patient decontamination care require movement through five stations for processing before they are able to receive medical care. The first station is the clothing removal and self-decontamination station.

Here, the victims clothing is removed and an M-291 charcoal skin decontamination kit is used to blot where contamination is suspected.

In Station 2, affected individuals are cleaned in shower facilities using soap. Station 3 is a final rinse off. Station 4 is the re-monitor and dry station. Here, the 976A team will ensure the victim didn't miss any contaminants on them; the patient will dry themselves or will be dried off by a team member if unable to do so on their own. Afterwards the patient will precede to the last station, where they will begin to receive medical care.

"This exercise provided team members with an understanding of the tasks they will need to accomplish the mission while providing much needed hands-on-training with the equipment they will use in the field," Ibarra said. "It's designed to give them a base to build on."

To gauge what they learned through the course, the Airmen were tested with the setup of a decontamination tent in 20 minutes or less. The team was able to show proficiency by putting up the tent in 17 minutes and 51 seconds.

"I feel with scheduled training and continuous exposure to the equipment, the team will be able to accomplish the tasks that they have been given to complete with flying colors," Ibarra said. "I expect nothing but the best out of this team."

There will be challenges to overcome. The 976A team will still need to train more teams to obtain the versatility to maintain a long operation, especially in adverse conditions.

Another challenge to overcome requires the team chief to work on a local policy so the team can operate with city personnel during a contamination incident.

"My plan is to try to do a complete package exercise where we can get involved with city personnel," said Tech. Sgt. Kelli Gray, 976A team chief for the 188th Wing. "We will get together with emergency management and fire department personnel to work together with a city response team."

Additionally, the team will also need to recruit more females to better facilitate female decontamination through-put.

Despite the challenges that stand before them, the 976A team has shown the determination to complete their mission and will continue to train to attain the proficiency required of them. With the help of future teams they train, the 976A team will provide an extra measure of safety and is a vital asset for members of the 188th Wing.

Airman breaks three state records


by Airman 1st Class Sivan Veazie
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


8/8/2014 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.,  -- An Airman stepped onto the platform, hands at his side, ready. He closes his eyes, blocked out all distractions and focused on the task at hand. Once he's chalked up and squats down, the gun goes off.

Staff Sgt. David Labrie, 612th Support Squadron lead meteorologist, participated in the 2014 National Powerlifting Competition, which was held in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 27.

Powerlifting is a strength sport that consists of three attempts at maximal weight on three different lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift. The only types of authorized lifts that can be performed are the equipped or un-equipped, which is typically referred to as raw or classic style of lifting.

"I fell in love with the idea of power lifting in high school when I first began training for the high school football team," said Staff Sgt. David Labrie, 612th Support Squadron lead meteorologist. "It takes a lot of mental and physical determination to be successful."

During training, Labrie and his team worked on strength and endurance depending on their overall health and work schedules. The team helped and supported each other all the way through until it was time for nationals. Labrie was surprised to see that he had more supporters than he knew of, one of which was his flight supervisor.

"I believe to be an effective leader, you need to take a vested interest in how your Airmen live outside the blue," said Master Sgt. Joseph Andrukaitis, 162nd Weather Flight NCO in charge. "Being a part of a team, you are always showing support for one another. Even though we are not in the same chain of command, I feel it is nice for supervisors to show an interest in Airman's outside interests."

As the competition started, Labrie detached himself from everyone, closed his eyes and mentally pictured himself lifting the proposed weight.

"It's like tunnel vision almost, I completely separate myself from the world and mentally prepare for what I'm about to do," said Labrie.

Throughout the competition, each competitor is allowed multiple attempts on each lift depending on their weight class. The contenders are judged against other lifters of the same gender, age and weight class.

"I put my entire being into becoming stronger and I actually did better than I ever expected," said the meteorologist.

Labrie came in second place and broke three of Arizona's state records. He broke the deadlift record with 722 pounds, squat record 556 pounds and beat the overall record with a total score of 1658 pounds.

Face of Defense: Combat Engineer Practices Skills in Exercise



By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Angel Sema
1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif., Aug. 11, 2014 – On an uncomfortably hot day in the Mojave Desert, many service members participating in Large Scale Exercise 2014 were preparing for the day to end.

But one Marine decided it was the perfect weather to bring out his tools and some spare wood to create something from scraps of nothing.

Cpl. Tanner Lechner, a combat engineer with Combat Service Support Company, 1st Brigade Headquarters Group, 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade, said he enjoys his time out in the field regardless of the weather, because he gets to practice and improve his construction and creativity skills.

Before he joined the Marine Corps, Lechner lived in Topeka, Kansas, up to his early adulthood. After high school, he said, he wanted to take charge of his life and do something he enjoys.

His life-changing decision was inspired by his grandfather, who retired as a captain from the Marine Corps, Lechner said. His grandfather’s stories of his career motivated him to the point that he decided to join the Marine Corps in 2011, he added.

“I picked combat engineer as my [specialty] when I joined,” the 21-year-old Marine said. “It wasn’t my first choice, but I couldn’t do reconnaissance, because I was color blind. My recruiter mentioned to me, ‘As a combat engineer, you’ll get to build things and blow stuff up,’ so I said, ‘Yeah! Put me there.’”

After graduating from recruit training and his specialty school, Lechner said, he moved on to the operational forces, which gave him the opportunity to deploy and conduct his job.

“We made what [we] would call a ‘triple-nickel 40’ out of cratering charges on a partially dry lake bed in the Philippines,” he said. “When this thing went off, it made this massive crater, and all of the water that was underground came rushing in. It instantly filled with water, and we were like, ‘Hey, we made a big pond.’”

After realizing how much he enjoyed his job, Lechner said, he knew that joining the Marine Corps was one of the best decisions he’s made.

“My job is the best job in the Marine Corps,” he added. “Whether the ground needs to be blown to bits, a house needs to be repaired, or a simple plaque needs to be created, I could do it all.”

Quentin Sanders, also a combat engineer with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade, spoke highly of Lechner.

“Lechner is a good guy,” he said. “We’re like brothers, because I’ve been with him since Day One. That guy is a hard worker, and he takes a lot of initiative.”

Large Scale Exercise 2014 is a tool used to build U.S. and Canadian forces’ joint capabilities through live, simulated, and constructive military training activities. It began Aug. 8 and runs through Aug. 14.

Lechner said he supports the brigade by building things that aid with the setup of the camp.

“Pretty much anything wooden you see out here, we made it,” he said. “We made the billboards in the command operations center, the benches and tables in the shower rooms, and the little tables next to the [restrooms] that hold hand sanitizer. We build those things that help you out, and it’s hardly noticeable, but it’s those little things that count.”

Lechner said he enjoys the work he is tasked with during the exercise, because it allows more room for creativity, and it’s different from a typical work day on Camp Pendleton. He added that he plans on making a career out of construction after his enlistment, because he likes his job so much.

“After I get out of the Marine Corps, I’m going to start some college classes and join an apprenticeship program,” he said. “I want to become a journeyman and then work my way to the top from there.”

Eventually, he said, he wants to own his own construction company and to buy and rebuild older houses. After the restoration process, he added, he hopes he can rent his homes out, then eventually live off that money and retire at an early age.

Lechner said he will continue doing what he loves, whether building benches and tables at Marine Corps exercises, or rebuilding homes and easing into retirement. Either way, he said, he is grateful to have honed his craft in service to the country.


USecAF holds all call at Spangdahlem

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


8/11/2014 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- The Under Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning recently visited Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and held an all call, which he kicked off by complimenting Airmen on their attention to detail.

"Your base looks amazing," Fanning said. "Clearly that shows a lot of pride in what you do, and I appreciate that."

Fanning discussed his role as the USecAF, the importance of the capabilities the Air Force brings to the fight as well as his assessment on manning and budget constraints affecting the military.

"Without the Air Force, the other three services couldn't fight the way they do," said Fanning. "They couldn't do what they do, the way they do, without the Air Force."

As under secretary, he is the senior Air Force energy official and the focal point for space operations, policy and acquisition issues on the Air Force staff. He oversees the Air Force's annual budget of more than $110 billion.

"The Air Force is in a lot of different places, a lot of different domains that aren't necessarily accessible to people because you can't see them," Fanning said, referring to space and cyberspace.

Fanning said the U.S. Air Force continues to delivers its core mission capability of global vigilance, global reach and global power every day.

"We are really the joint glue--the ones that hold the fight together across all services," Fanning said. "The Air Force approaches things more jointly than all the other services do."

Fanning explained the Air Force provides a critical connection between the warfighting services and the intelligence community.

"That is a very powerful place to be," said Fanning. "We are one-stop shopping for the president and we will be even more so going forward. We can tell him or her what's going on anywhere in the world, and then something can be done about it, anywhere, anytime."

By law, Fanning serves as the Chief Management Officer of the Air Force, responsible for the efficient and effective management of Air Force resources and providing for the welfare of more than 333,000 active duty men and women, 178,000 Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members, and 182,000 civilians.

"If you look at the Air Force Memorial, it is three spires," Fanning said. "Some people say it's air, space and cyber. Some say it's global reach, global power and global vigilance. I've been saying it means, 'if you hide, we will find you', 'if you move, we will see you,' and 'if you deserve it, we will punish you.' None of the other services can do that the way the Air Force can."

180th FW slated to become Active Associate unit

by Master Sgt. Beth Holliker
180th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


8/11/2014 - SWANTON, Ohio -- The Ohio Air National Guard's 180th Fighter Wing here is slated to become an Active Associate unit in fiscal year 2016 as part of the Air Force Total Force Integration concept adding active-duty pilots and maintenance personnel to the wing's authorized manning document.

The 180th FW became the first Ohio National Guard unit in history to become part of the Air Force's Total Force Integration concept when the wing was assigned an active-duty commander in March.

Col. Craig R. Baker, former vice wing commander for the 57th Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, assumed command of the 180th FW during a change of command ceremony March 2.

Baker's assignment to the 180th FW aligns with the Air Force goal to increase overall integration between the Active Component and the Air Reserve Components comprised of the Air Force Reserve and the ANG.

The assignment of Baker to the 180th FW is laying the foundation for the wing's future role in the Total Force plan, beginning in the first quarter of FY 2016, when the four active-duty pilots and 40 active-duty maintenance personnel will be added to the wing's existing authorized manning document.

"Col. Baker's selection was borne out of the desire to more closely integrate the three components," said Maj. Gen. Mark E. Bartman, Assistant Adjutant General for Air, Ohio National Guard. "One method to that end is through the integration of leadership positions."

Bartman was the ANG representative for the Total Force Task Force made up of three two-star generals, now known as the Total Force Continuum. The task force, now made up of three one-star generals, one from each Air Force Component, is charged with providing guidance on how to bring the three components together as One Air Force.

"As One Air Force, we will continue to integrate the staffs of Air Force units and organizations from squadron levels to headquarters levels," Bartman explained. "The most effective method for our Airmen to better understand their counterparts in the other components will be a deliberate process of allowing seamless movement between the components."

Since the end of World War II, the nation has maintained separate identities for the National Guard and Reserves despite several attempts at mergers to include a 1947 recommendation to abolish the National Guard and the 1964 recommendation to merge reserve components of the Army under the National Guard, as annotated in the January 2014 report by the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force.

Though the Air Force associated a Reserve unit with an Active in 1968, where both units flew and maintained the same aircraft, the TF concept was officially introduced, and met with opposition in 1973, when Defense Secretary, James Schlesinger, developed the Total Force Policy, highlighting recommendations to integrate RC forces and AC forces, blurring the distinction between components.

Total Force gained more visibility in the 1990s with large-scale National Guard deployments in support of the Gulf War. Since the Gulf War's Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, the Air Force has continued to welcome the transformation and evolution of the reserve components from a strategic and ready reserve force to the operationally capable and readily available force we know today.

Today, with ever evolving mission demands, coupled with fiscal constraints, the foundation of the TF concept is finally beginning to take shape.

"The Air Force must change the way it organizes, functionally integrates, aligns and employs the great Americans who volunteer to serve in its ranks," according to the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force.

The initial stages of the TF construct are to provide the basic framework, while the details of the more than 40 suggested recommendations from the Commission report, presented to President Barack Obama and Congress in January 2014, are being fine-tuned and implemented.

The Commission recommended two major changes. The first is to increase the number of associate units throughout the Air Force. Today, the Air Force has 120 current or planned association units.

This recommendation would shift the force structure to focus greater reliance on the ANG and AFR, expanding multi-component operations, enhancing the TF and One Air Force concepts. The intent of this recommendation would lower overall military personnel costs, produce a more ready and capable force by preserving funds for readiness operations, maintenance, recapitalization and modernization.

The TF concept pairs two units, a host and an associate, representing two of the Air Force's three components, Active Duty, Reserve and Guard, operating together to enhance the ability of the Air Force to conduct missions through the sharing of resources and utilizing the seasoned RC personnel to aid in the training and growing of AC Airmen.

Association units primarily fit into one of three types: Classic Association, where RC units collocate with AC units; Active Association, where AC units collocate and jointly operate aircraft on a RC base; and Air Reserve Component Association, where ANG and AFR units are collocated and share equipment.

The second recommendation is that all associate wings implement and maintain a single, integrated chain of command, resulting in a fully integrated wing, or i-Wing.

In the more well-known Classic Association, where RC units are physically collocated on AD installations, both the RC and AC units maintain their separate reporting instructions through their Major Command, or MAJCOMs, with their own individual chains of command and local commanders.

"The long-term goal of the i-Wing model is one team made up of the three components integrated at all levels," said Baker. "The concept is that the wing would be commanded by a member of any component, which will reduce chain of command confusion, duplicative overhead and the number of bosses overall."

Increased use of the i-Wing structure, coupled with future changes to the Active and Reserve component end strengths, the number of personnel authorized by legislation for a given fiscal year, will enhance the Force's ability to scale available forces to meet continually changing mission demands and fiscal constraints.

Baker's assignment as commander of an ANG wing is also being used as a test measure to identify potential challenges and develop effective solutions for Airmen transitioning between the Active and Reserve Components.

Airmen assigned to the AC fall under Title 10, active duty federal funding under the U.S. Code and are exclusively a federal organization.

Members of the ANG fall under the Title 32 category, but with additional complexity. ANG units fulfill both federal and state missions, but report directly to their state's Governor and are manned by a mix of full-time, Active Guard Reserve and Dual Status Federal Technicians, and part-time personnel, referred to as Drill Status Guardsmen.

Though ANG Airmen report directly to the governor during normal day-to-day operations, they can easily transition to Title 10, active duty status, in times of war or national emergencies when AC forces are insufficient or unavailable, upon collaboration with individual state governors.

The ANG's unique mission of supporting their state, communities and the homeland allows for the governor to activate ANG members within their respective state to provide Defense Support to Civil Authorities in response to natural and man-made disasters.

Because state governors are essential stakeholders of the Air Force they are becoming more involved as the TF concept begins to rapidly take shape and the One Air Force concept becomes a reality.

"The process used to assess Col. Baker to the Ohio National Guard is one that will be duplicated many times over for both AC Airmen moving to the RC, as well as RC Airmen moving to the AC," Bartman said. "Currently, the process requires the governor of the state involved and the Secretary of Defense to sign a letter of agreement, or LOA, enabling AC Airmen to hold a dual commission in both the Title 10 status and Title 32 status."

The fiscal appropriations, personnel processes and pay statuses are not the only differences or challenges that will be faced as the 180th Fighter Wing and the Air Force continue to move toward the fully operational construct.

"Historically, the RC was intended to provide a strategic reserve, called upon only in a time of war or national emergency, when AC forces were insufficient or unavailable," explained Bartman. "Numerous federal laws were drafted with the strategic reserve in mind. In today's environment, characterized by an increased utilization of the RC, some of these laws impede efforts to move to a 'One Air Force' solution."

"Some of these laws need to be amended to allow the three components of the Air Force to work together to provide the world's best airpower and homeland defense in a fiscally responsible way," continued Bartman.

The transition for Baker is still ongoing, but is providing the task force with the information necessary to develop and execute solutions for those challenges not identified during the initial planning and staffing process.

"Challenges to the long term vision effect not only my transition, but the whole process," said Baker. "These challenges include separate AC and RC funding appropriations, making complete integration impossible under current law; statutes that restrict the use of fulltime RC forces which are not fully interchangeable with active personnel at home station; budgetary challenges hinder Military Personnel Appropriations funding for home station operations; and pay, promotion and assignment systems are not fully interoperable between AC and RC personnel."

The One Air Force initiative is not only geared toward maximizing effective use of the three components, sharing personnel and equipment to meet mission requirements, it is also a solution to meet the Defense Strategic Guidance directive for the Department of Defense to continue efforts to reduce the cost of doing business.

"Our military has an imperative to spend resources in a fiscally responsible way," Bartman said. "The necessity to reduce cost is, perhaps, the most compelling catalyst for examining the mix of Active and Reserve Components."

Though there remain differences in personnel pay statuses and mission sets between the AC and RC, the Commission concluded that, when used in the traditional part-time or rotational basis, the RC is significantly less expensive than an AC force of the same size.

The RC requires fewer Airmen to be trained from the "ground up," as many of its part-time Airmen have civilian occupations closely aligned with their Air Force career field and training from one occupation is mutually beneficial to the other. These part-time Airmen are only paid by the Air Force when preforming their military duties on a periodic or rotational basis. The RC also has access to seasoned Airmen transitioning from the AC to the RC who require less periodic, or refresher training, to maintain war-ready skill-sets.

The Commission also highlights that traditional, part-time, Airmen in the RC are entitled to retirement benefits, but cannot receive them until the age of 60 and are not supported throughout their careers in the same way AC Airmen are. Reserve Component Airmen do not have base housing or child care provided, or schools, health care or Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities that are provided to AC Airmen and included in the cost of maintaining the AC force.

"As a member of the ANG, you live off of the local economy," Baker explained. "There is no base housing, commissary, hospital, pool or golf course provided on the installation."

The Commission determined that, based on research and testimonies at the time, the cost of a part-time RC Airman, who is not preforming active missions throughout the year, is approximately 1/6th the cost of an AC Airman.

"The National Guard, primarily a part-time force, is held to the same readiness standards as the AC, continues to demonstrate their readiness capabilities, execute missions in an unprecedented manner, both at home and abroad," continued Bartman. "And, because all three components are required to maintain the same standards, they should be viewed as a system of systems based on a symbiotic or mutually beneficial relationship. When the service is imbalanced, the benefits of the relationship dissipate."

Bartman continued to explain, "A part-time force, by nature, is a less costly force, but the more it is used, the less cost advantageous it becomes. Likewise, an AC force that is too large can become characterized by extraordinary costs. There are numerous gives and takes impacted by changes to force mix and each of those implications must be considered."

The Total Force initiative is well underway throughout the Air Force today, but the expected pace of operations over the next decade will be a significant driver in determining an appropriate mix of AC and RC forces and the necessary level of readiness required by the RC.

The 180th FW is already marking its place in history and finding its place in the Total Force Initiative with its first AC commander.

"While there will be challenges moving forward toward an Active Associate wing, there is no doubt that the men and women of the 180th Fighter Wing will prove successful in leading the way for the Total Force," said Baker.

Prairie Rampart 14-2

by Senior Airman Brittany Y. Bateman
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs Office


8/11/2014 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- "The key is training for first responders, and evaluating their ability to quickly adapt as the situation evolves," said Rodney Onstott, 5th Civil Engineer Squadron readiness and emergency management deputy flight chief and the installation emergency manager.

The entire base participated in Prairie Rampart 14-2, an exercise involving a simulated radiological terrorist attack on Minot AFB. It also included exercising our anti-terrorism force protection plan, and had a mass casualty requirement.

"We simulated the exercise based on national events. What would we do if we had a terrorist attack at the base with an improvised explosive device that had a radiological material in it," Onstott said. "This basically represents an unknown hazard that we have to respond to, and it gives us the opportunity to practice our all-hazards response capability for the installation."

A little over 11,000 people played in the exercise, from the wing commander and his senior staff, referred to as the crisis action team, down to the role players. Of those, 100 to 125 people were first responders and 12 were youth accident victims.

"We had the opportunity to train and get participation from the teen youth program through the youth center, and that gave a whole new spin for our emergency responders," Onstott said. "They never dealt with dependent youth in a hazardous situation like that."

Onstott explained there is not an ideal response because you have an unknown situation.

"The exercise started out with what seemed to be a vehicle that blew up and caught on fire, which is a fairly common thing," Onstott said. "But when our responders get there under their all-hazards approach, they have detection equipment that would have alerted them that there were additional hazards."

When that happens, they fall back and regroup, continued Onstott. The incident commander then follows new tactics and procedures to address the new identified hazards.

"The main scrutiny for any kind of emergency response falls under the wing commander," said Onstott. "Personnel under the 5th Mission Support Group emergency response forces, whether it is the fire department, security forces or ambulance services, are here for the 5th BW commander to execute the protection of his base and base populace."

It is the responsibility of each emergency response function to prepare, train and equip their people to respond to an all-hazard event.

"We use these exercises to train and educate people, evaluate our capabilities, find areas to improve. Then we work together as a response force to implement those improvements," Onstott said. "Then we will exercise again."

Air Force to activate Provisional Installation and Mission Support Center, names commander

by Ron Fry
AFMC Public Affairs


8/11/2014 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio  -- Air Force officials have announced the activation of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center (Provisional) at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, and named Maj. Gen. Theresa Carter as its provisional commander.

The provisional center activated Aug. 8. AFIMSC aligned as a center under Air Force Materiel Command.

Carter has served as the special assistant to the commander of AFMC, developing the strategy and implementation plan for the center.

This location will serve as a temporary headquarters for AFIMSC(P) until the Air Force makes a basing decision and formally activates the permanent center.

The Air Force will use its standard Strategic Basing Process over the next several months to evaluate potential candidate locations and select a permanent location that best serves the mission of the center.

In 2013, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel directed service secretaries and chiefs to find efficiencies across their headquarters organizations that will save 20 percent in total operating budgets. Then-Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Mark A. Welsh III challenged their staffs to identify options to reduce overhead costs, increase efficiencies, eliminate redundant activities, and improve effectiveness and business processes to help meet the 20 percent reduction target.

AFIMSC, as the single intermediate-level staff performing major command-level installation and mission support activities, will consolidate functions now performed at 10 MAJCOMs and two direct reporting unit staffs.

Also, the center will become the parent organization for several existing field operating agencies to include the Air Force Security Forces Center, Air Force Civil Engineer Center, Air Force Installation Contracting Agency, the Services Directorate of the Air Force Personnel Center and other FOAs providing installation support capabilities.

"This challenging fiscal environment requires us to think differently about how we deliver installation and mission support capabilities for the Air Force and the combatant commanders," said Carter. "With this center, we're creating a single organization focused on supporting commanders at the installations and MAJCOMs and we are committed to building a responsive, mission-focused organization."

Hurricane Hunters assist with rescue mission in Pacific Ocean

by Master Sgt. Brian Lamar
403rd Wing Public Affairs


8/11/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- A 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron crew assisted the U.S. Coast Guard with locating and rescuing three people north of the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean Aug. 10.

The Air Force Reserve unit assigned to the 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, deployed to Hawaii Aug. 5 to gather weather data on Hurricanes Iselle and Julio.

The Hurricane Hunter WC-130J and its crew were headed back to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after completing the last Hurricane Julio reconnaissance mission when Maj. Dena Williams, 53rd WRS aircraft commander, was alerted by the U.S. Coast Guard that they needed their assistance.

A 42-foot sailboat had sent a distress mayday signal Sunday. The captain of the boat radioed that his engine had blown, and he was taking on water. To make matters worse, the captain also relayed his location, which was northeast of Hurricane Julio in an area projected to have 40-to-50-foot swells. With the boat's engine gone, and one sail ripped to shreds, the three people on board needed immediate attention.

"The latitude, longitude coordinates at the time of the mayday call placed the sailboat near the northeast side of the eye wall with approximately 55 knots of wind," said Tom Birchard, a senior forecaster and hurricane specialist with the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

It was in a dangerous place in the core of the wind field, said Birchard.

The Hurricane Hunters, who had just finished collecting data from the eye of Hurricane Julio, turned back toward the storm and began the search.

A stroke of luck had occurred for all parties involved in the rescue mission.

"We had already fueled up the plane for a 10-hour mission, but our second storm fix requirements were cancelled, which meant we had extra fuel to search for the plane," said Williams.

As the Hunters neared the last known location of the endangered sailboat, they dropped to a low altitude to begin a visual search. Initially, they were not able to see the boat due to the weather, but once they got closer, they were able to hear the mayday signal and worked their way toward the disabled craft.

"One of the Navy oceanographers spotted the boat," said Williams. "If he hadn't seen that, we might have gone by."

"It was complicated to find the boat," said Tech. Sgt. Jenna Daniels, the loadmaster for the flight. " Once we got down below the cloud-level, we spotted it pretty quickly."

"I was working with a superstar crew," said Williams. "I had a lot of useful input from the crew, which helped me make quick and sound decisions. All we could do was stay calm with these guys on the radio. Somehow it all came together. Everyone was working together as a team and handled the situation well. It was a hug morale boost for us to find them."

Once the location was confirmed, the mission was turned over to a U.S. Coast Guard C-130.

"We were very lucky to have a Hurricane Hunter WC-130J nearby that bought us some time and offered a great sense of hope to the sailboat to see the aircraft flying above," said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Jason Hagen, the command duty officer at the U.S. Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center.