Military News

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Voting now open for American Airman Video Contest



By Senior Airman Michelle Patten, Air Force Public Affairs Agency
Published August 13, 2014

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) -- Voting for the 2014 American Airman Video Contest is now open and runs until Aug. 22 at 3 p.m. CDT.

The contest launched July 1 for all total force Airmen to showcase their Air Force stories in short selfie videos.

“Every Airman has a story -- and smartphone technology now allows those Airmen to share those stories with a wider audience than ever before,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III at the start of the contest.

The finalist videos from Air Force major commands and agencies are now available for public voting on the Air Force’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/AFBlueTube. Voters can “like” their favorite videos, and the video with the most “likes” by Aug. 22 at 3 p.m. CDT will win.

The winning video will be featured in a special presentation by Welsh during the Air Force Association’s Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition in September in Washington D.C.

For more information about the contest, visit http://airforcelive.dodlive.mil/contest.

"Our Airmen are an amazing communication resource,” Welsh said. “No one tells the Air Force story like they do.”

51 WSA Airmen 'Shadow their Shirt'

by Senior Airman David Owsianka
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


8/12/2014 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Throughout their career, Airmen have the opportunity to apply for a special duty outside of their enlisted specialty.

Master Sgt. Jessica McWain, 51st Fighter Wing Staff Agencies and Comptroller Squadron first sergeant, opened her doors and gave Airmen the opportunity to shadow her for a day to experience first-hand what a first sergeant does on a daily basis.

"I have realized throughout my career that often times we have a misconception of what a job or position is like and what a certain environment will be like," McWain said. "Allowing Airmen to shadow me and sit on the other side of the desk helps them to understand what I do and know if being a shirt is something they really want to do."

Some of the duties of a first sergeant are to provide the commander with a mission-ready enlisted force, to execute the mission and remain vigilant for and move to resolve issues that, left unchecked, would impact the readiness of enlisted members. They also advise the commander on a wide range of topics including the health, esprit de corps, discipline, mentoring and recognition of all assigned enlisted members.

McWain decided to implement "Shadow a Shirt," after having two senior noncommissioned officers fill in for her as first sergeant during her mid-tour.

"I had them shadow me before I left to understand my role and know what to anticipate, so they would know what my expectation was for sitting in my seat while I was gone," she said. "That helped me realize there are other people who might be interested in seeing what my job is about."

McWain feels that opening her doors for Airmen has a dual purpose.

"I hope this will open the Airmen's eyes and give them a better understanding of what a first sergeant does, and maybe even give them the drive to become a first sergeant," McWain said.

Tech. Sgt. Alejandra Chavez, 51st FW Equal Opportunity NCO in charge, is one of the Airmen who shadowed McWain.

"During my time shadowing, I learned that it is a very fast paced job with some similarities to my current job," Chavez said. "For example, you could come in with the intent of performing certain jobs, but at the end of the day you never get around to it because there was always somebody who needed help or something that needed to be taken care of. Your day does not start at 7:30 a.m., the day starts as soon as somebody needs something."

Chavez's passion for becoming a first sergeant began as a junior Airman when she had the opportunity to commission.

"I spoke to one of my mentors, and he asked me 'Do you want to lead people or do you want to lead missions?'" Chavez said. "Since I wanted to lead people, he said to stay enlisted because as a senior NCO, you have access to our greatest asset, which is our Airmen."

Chavez hopes to become a first sergeant and make a difference in the lives of her future Airmen.

"I believe that as a first sergeant you have the greatest impact with the Airmen, and have the best contact with the enlisted personnel who tend to be the ones who carry the mission more heavily," Chavez said.

Support from the shadows: Medic maintainers

by Senior Airman Jose L. Hernandez-Domitilo
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


8/13/2014 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- When caring for patients, doctors at Misawa Air Base's 35th Medical Group use the latest in biomedical equipment to assist in diagnosing or providing treatment.

Whether it is medical imaging equipment, defibrillators, surgical or clinical laboratory machinery, these pieces of equipment are likely to require corrective maintenance at some point in their life span.

When these machines go down, there is a team of experts to look to in order to get their machinery back up and running.

The Medical Maintenance team composed of biomedical equipment technicians are just that group of experts to call in order to troubleshoot and repair malfunctioning machinery.

"We must have equipment up and running to provide care to patients," said Staff Sgt. Paul Kerkman, 35th Medical Support Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of Medical Maintenance.

As highly skilled maintenance technicians, Misawa's BMETs are entrusted to make sure an estimated 2,000 pieces of medical equipment at Misawa are in working condition to help serve patients' medical and veterinary care, as well as DODD schools, and Public Access Defibrillators located throughout the 35th Fighter Wing.

Servicing equipment with a total value of more than $14 million, the team has their daily work cut out for them as they average completion of approximately 300 work orders each month.

"Preventative maintenance is similar to the flight line, it extends lifespan of the equipment and ensures it is available to providers for patient treatment." said Staff Sgt. Aaron Becker, 35th MDSS NCO in charge of Scheduled Maintenance.

While most of the work is preventative maintenance, approximately one-third of them are unscheduled work orders on equipment that unexpectedly malfunctions or requires upgrades.

The team is committed to making sure work orders are serviced on a priority basis order because it often involves equipment that prevents healthcare providers from fulfilling their job.

"If we don't fix equipment, then providers are cancelling appointments, or surgeries at times," said Tech. Sgt. Daniel Johnson, 35th MDSS NCO in charge of Facility Management. "Our job is very critical and in turn very stressful, but we know if we do our job right, then there is nothing to worry about."

Being the technical experts in medical equipment repair also means they need to be ready to respond on site at any given moment.

"We are always on call," Johnson said.

Even during a surgical procedure, technicians need to be able to emergency respond and come to straighten things out. BMETs may be called upon to troubleshoot equipment while patients are within the surgical field or awaiting treatment.

"The buck stops with us," Johnson stated.

If there was ever to be a medical mishap involving any piece of medical equipment, then any previous maintenance done on it would be scrutinized. Thus there are no cutting corners when it comes to fixing up equipment because BMETs are entrusted with dealing with life-saving technologies. Annual quality assurance inspections conducted by Pacific Air Forces Medical Equipment Repair Center personnel out of Yokota Air Base, Japan, audit equipment and programs to ensure proper calibration and functionality.

Even though BMETs are in the background, they affect every patient that comes through the 35th MDG because every piece of equipment a provider uses, the BMETs have evaluated or serviced it prior to issue to the work center.

In addition to working on the mechanical aspects of equipment, BMETs are also trained on plumbing, electricity and even computer systems administration. But, one unique aspect of their job's requirement is being knowledgeable on certain facets of anatomy and physiology.

When troubleshooting a piece of equipment, communication with the doctor or operator who is utilizing that machine is key to figuring out what might need to be corrected.

"This is what sets us apart from other maintenance career fields," Johnson said. "When it comes down to diagnosing and troubleshooting a problem or teaching the clinical application of a medical device to a doctor, it takes the knowledge of anatomy and physiology in knowing what it is going to take to get the equipment up and running."

One technician who has seen the ins and outs of BMET at Misawa is Junji Maruya, a Japanese civilian 35th MDSS BMET, who has worked on base for 27 years. Maruya is a unique asset available to the 35th MDG. He is the only Japanese national BMET working within the Air Force.

Having been here since the days when the 35 MDG was operating from what is now the Collocated Club, he has seen the technology expand and advance.

"My favorite part of this job has been working with all kinds of equipment," said Maruya. "Every day is different."

Though now assisting as a liaison for high priority item repair from local contractors among other things, he knows they'll always get the job done or at least find the right person to assist in doing so.

"If you don't see us in the work center then that's a good thing," said Master Sgt. Robert McNeill, 35th MDSS NCO in charge of clinical engineering. "That means everything is operational."

Air Force Team completes training camp

by Senior Airman Daniel Asselta
Air Force Space Command Public Affairs


8/13/2014 - Colorado Springs, Colo. -- The Air Force Wounded Warrior program Warrior Games team completed a week-long training camp Aug 8. Airmen from throughout the country gathered here to train at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Fort Carson, and the U.S. Olympic Training Center to prepare for the 5th annual Warrior Games in September.

Team members are healing from both visible and invisible wounds, suffered on active-duty or after joining the service. The training camp allowed Airmen to train for adaptive sports, including wheelchair basketball, seated volleyball, cycling variants, target shooting and more.

Air Force Space Command supported the training camp with visits from the commander, command chief master sergeant, and members of the Colorado Springs Area Chief's Group.

"Those in leadership positions in the Air Force are very, very proud of you -- for what you've done, what you've accomplished, the way you've carried on with your lives with very difficult circumstances. We couldn't be prouder of you and it's good to see you out here competing, having fun, and representing the Air Force so well," said General William L. Shelton, Commander, Air Force Space Command, during opening remarks at the start of the camp.

The Warrior Games provide athletes an opportunity to show the world they are still more than capable, and feel a sense of camaraderie that aids in the healing process, according to one competitor.

"I think the opportunity to see others who have gone through their own challenges is the most inspiring. I think we all have challenges and we see that others have challenges too and are finding their own way through it. I think as military people, we are good at setting goals, challenging ourselves, and competing, so all around, I think this is a great program for healing," said retired Capt. Jeff Haugh, a cycling and shot-put competitor.

Haugh, a former Air Force Office of Special Investigations agent, graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1989, and was wounded in Operation Iraqi freedom while conducting counterintelligence. While deployed, Haugh was involved in a high-speed vehicle accident, suffering a traumatic brain injury and a spinal injury. He said training with fellow wounded veterans and active-duty Airmen helped in his recovery process.

AFSPC Command Chief Master Sergeant Douglas McIntyre met with coaches and athletes on and off the court to show his support and learn more about the Warrior Games.

"My visit is two-fold. It's for me to come out and support these individuals who have given a lot for our nation, and to learn. I want to learn more about the program, and how Air Force Space Command can support it, and partner with the command chiefs and senior leaders to get more support when they come back in the fall," said Chief McIntyre.

Twenty-two Airmen will become part of a 103 person team of wounded warriors from throughout the Defense Department, Sept. 10 to 14 in London to compete in the Invictus Games, the first international adaptive sports event dedicated solely to wounded military veterans. The 5th U.S. Warrior Games are Sept. 28 to Oct. 4 in Colorado Springs at the USOTC, and Fort Carson.

DoD Announces Operation Atlantic Resolve Brigade Rotation



By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2014 – The Defense Department announced today the next scheduled unit rotation as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which a Pentagon spokesman said continues to demonstrate U.S. commitment to reassuring its NATO allies.

Army Col. Steven Warren told reporters that about 600 soldiers from the Fort Hood, Texas-based 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, will rotate to Poland as the next unit to participate in the reassurance initiative.

The brigade will be the next unit to take part in ongoing land forces exercises that fall under the umbrella of Operation Atlantic Resolve, he said.

The United States is demonstrating its continued commitment to collective security through a series of actions designed to reassure NATO allies and partners of America's dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region, in light of the Russian intervention in Ukraine, officials said.

“These units will replace the paratroopers of U.S. Army Europe’s 173rd Airborne Brigade ‘Sky Soldiers,’” Warren said, “who have, since April, been participating in multinational training with U.S. allies in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. These land training exercises, which came at the request of host nations, help foster interoperability through small-unit and leader training.”

Warren noted the “Ironhorse” soldiers who will replace the 173rd Airborne Brigade will participate in the theater rotation exercise for about three months.

“They are bringing training equipment,” the colonel said, “to include infantry fighting vehicles, cavalry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, M-1 Tanks, engineering equipment and other equipment organic to U.S. cavalry units.”

Serving the country that welcomed them

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


8/12/2014 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Two Airmen from Minot Air Force Base recently received their United States citizenship. Both Airmen, from the 5th Comptroller Squadron, further cemented their commitment and service to the U.S. during a naturalization ceremony held in Bismarck, North Dakota, July 31.

"I came to the United States six years ago with my family and lived five years in New Mexico. I graduated high school in Alamogordo, New Mexico in 2012," said Airman 1st Class Jens Kaiser. "On June 18, 2013, I joined the Air Force and started the citizenship process. I joined the Air Force to commission as an officer later in my career, and the citizenship was one big step towards it."

Kaiser also said he chose to become a citizen because he believes you should swear your allegiance to one nation only and becoming a citizen puts him one step closer to that belief.

Airman 1st Class Iryna Lutsiv was born in Ukraine, where she spent the first 20 years of her life. After she graduated college, she came to the U.S. to improve her English, which is what she majored in.

"It seemed as a fitting next step after joining U.S. military," Lutsiv said. "My husband served in the Army for six years, with a year-long deployment to Afghanistan. Living around military and seeing what they do inspired me to join; it was my way to give back to the country that welcomed me. Becoming a citizen and committing to this country completely seems only natural."

Hagel Lauds U.S.-Australia Force Posture Agreement



By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2014 – The new U.S.–Australia force posture agreement will broaden and deepen the alliance’s contributions to regional security and advance America’s ongoing strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in Sydney yesterday.

Hagel made his remarks during a news conference following the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultation -- the main annual forum for talks between diplomatic and defense officials from both nations. He appeared with U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Australian Defense Minister David Johnston following the agreement signing.

The long-term agreement calls for rotational deployment of U.S. Marines in Darwin and American airmen in northern Australia.

Hagel also provided his insights from the ministerial conference.

“Today's agenda for the U.S.-Australia alliance spanned issues ranging from the South China Sea to Iraq, where Secretary Kerry and I expressed our appreciation for Australia's offer to contribute to the humanitarian relief operations. … America is prepared to intensify its security cooperation as Iraq undertakes and makes progress toward political reform,” he said.

The conference also addressed the Ukrainian crisis and Australia's loss of 38 citizens and residents aboard the Malaysia Airlines jet that officials believe was shot down July 17. Hagel offered condolences to the Australian people, especially the families of those who were lost in the tragedy.

“America will continue to work with Australia as we have said clearly and plainly to provide requested support and assistance,” he said.

The secretary noted he had come to Australia after a visit to India and that he has consulted closely with the defense ministers of Japan, South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. “I see a new, committed resolve to work together to build a security system across this Indo-Pacific region,” he said, “recognizing the independent sovereignty of nations, respecting that sovereignty, but also recognizing the common interests that we all have for a stable, peaceful, secure world.”

The U.S.-Australian alliance will remain a bedrock for a stable and secure order, he added.

“We live in an immensely complicated world,” Hagel said, “but a world that is still full of hope and promise if we endeavor to bring resolute, strong leadership … that is committed to these virtues and values and principles that we all share, and living up to the highest responsibilities, as [former] Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies once said.”

Hagel also quoted Menzies from his visit to the United States in 1960, when he said strength is admirable, but only for the responsibilities it accepts and discharges.

“America and Australia in this historic alliance have always, always sought to live up to those responsibilities around the world,” he said.

Stratcom Conference Focuses on 21st-century Deterrence



By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2014 – How strategic deterrence has changed and whether the United States is equipped for deterrence in the 21st century are among the questions that will be debated at the U.S. Strategic Command Deterrence Symposium in Omaha, Nebraska, Stratcom’s commander said today.

Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney kicked off the two-day symposium this morning.

“At the heart of any deterrence analysis is the understanding of the strategic landscape,” the admiral said.

Today’s world is a complicated place, Haney said, and he listed some of the concerns that America must address. He noted the continuing threat from North Korea and Iran. He talked about the ongoing threat in Syria and Iraq posed by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists. The Russia-Ukraine situation, transnational criminal groups, Israel and Palestine, frictions in the Western Pacific, terrorism and threats in the cyber realm all are concerns and all must be addressed, he said.

“Despite the unrest around the globe,” he added, “I firmly believe that strategic deterrence is relevant and is working.”

At its base, deterrence means adversaries understand that the response to actions they take would be unacceptably costly, so they refrain from taking those actions.

But deterrence has changed since the last half of the 20th century, when mutually assured destruction served as its basis, Haney said. Today, he said, it is about deterring strategic attack on the United States and its allies, dissuading adversaries from actions that would counter stability and peace, and partnering with other combatant commands so all can work together to demonstrate U.S. resolve.

Nuclear deterrence has its place, Haney said, and Stratcom must ensure these weapons remain viable. But the nuclear triad, global conventional strike capabilities, defense in space and the cyber realms are just a part of deterrence, he added. It also includes robust intelligence capabilities, a credible missile defense system and a robust communications and ground infrastructure, he said.

But rogue states, terror networks and transnational criminal networks, the admiral said, are willing to pay to develop capabilities that threaten America and this changes the deterrence calculus.

“Threats are evolving at an incredible pace in this complex world,” he said. “We must look at each one differently, but in an integrated manner, to make sure we get the deterrence solution right.”

The United States, allies and partners must ensure adversaries understand that “restraint is always the better course,” he said.

Haney stressed that recapitalization is needed to maintain effective deterrence in this century. He mentioned the Ohio-class submarine replacement program, upgraded radars and survivable communications systems, missile defense investments and investments in people as the most pressing needs.

“We should not overlook the value to the nation of a credible strategic deterrent now and into the future,” the admiral said.

Northcom Provides Update on Firefighting Effort



From a U.S. Northern Command News Release

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., Aug. 13, 2014 – U.S. Northern Command officials today provided updated facts and figures on the Defense Department’s assistance to wildfire-suppression efforts in the West.

Two DoD C-130 aircraft equipped with the U.S. Forest Service’s Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems and under Northcom’s command are assisting with the efforts at the request of the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

Since July 20, DoD aircraft have conducted 131 airdrops and discharged more than 244,100 gallons of fire retardant on the fires, officials said.

Within the last 24 hours, crews conducted seven airdrops over fires in Idaho: two airdrops at the Arrow fire, discharging about 3,000 gallons of retardant, and five at the Koke fire, discharging about 11,500 gallons of retardant.

The Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing based in Cheyenne is flying the MAFFS mission.

Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard C-130 aircraft assigned to units in California, Colorado, North Carolina and Wyoming are capable of dropping fire retardant using U.S. Forest Service MAFFS units. Aircrews, maintenance crews and support personnel undergo special National Interagency Fire Center training and certification to perform these missions, Northcom officials said.

U.S. Northern Command, established in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, is responsible for homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities.