Military News

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Legislators from a dozen states take tour of JBER

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
JBER Public Affairs


8/14/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- A cross-section of state legislators from more than a dozen states across the U.S. visited Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Monday as part of the Council of State Governments of the West.

Air Force Col. Brian Bruckbauer, 673d Air Base Wing and JBER commander, briefed the group of approximately 50 legislators.

They were shown around the installation and saw demonstrations of the importance and capabilities of the joint base.

"It's a real pleasure to be able to share the people, facilities and missions of JBER with my colleagues from around the country," said Alaska state representative Dan Saddler. "CSG brings some people from the legislative, judicial and executive branches of the entire country here. It's great to be able to show the rest of the country what Alaska has to offer and the responsibilities JBER bears for our nation's defense.

"It's a real thrill to educate them about what the military does here."

The lawmakers toured the 90th Fighter Squadron to view a static display of an F-22 Raptor, and visited U.S. Army Alaska's Combatives Academy for demonstrations of modern hand-to-hand training. Through these activities, the politicians learned about the scope of the JBER mission.

"I really enjoyed the hand-to-hand combatives," Saddler said. "It's an aspect of the military people don't get to see that often. It's a rough, mean world out there and I'm pleased to know that there's good training to make sure that the Soldiers and the Airmen can stay safe and take the fight to the bad guys. It was very entertaining, too. "

At the end of their tour, the group met with members of the Alaska Civil Air Patrol to learn what CAP does in the Final Frontier state.

"I love Civil Air Patrol. I'm a pilot myself and if I ever go down by mistake, I want young, skilled people like these out there looking for me," Saddler said. "It's great to get young people the opportunity to learn leadership skills, and to plus-up the great search-and-rescue team here in Alaska. I wish more kids knew about it, and more kids were involved in it."

The tour was part of an annual legislature meeting in Anchorage.

The CSG West is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that serves the western legislatures of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. 

Associate members include the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia and the Pacific islands of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.

Founded in 1947, CSG West is one of four regions of the Council of State Governments that form part of a national community of states. 

CSG's regional and national structure invites focused participation from members on a more intimate, regional level while also providing a national platform to exchange ideas and information. 

This structure allows western lawmakers to engage with state officials of all three branches of state government, access national policy research and stay abreast of national trends and developments in Washington, D.C. impacting state governments, according to their website.

Spartans jump into Big Lake to practice water landings

by Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Smith
4-25th IBCT Public Affairs


8/14/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Paratroopers with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, took advantage of the pleasant Alaska summer by carrying out a water-landing airborne operation Aug. 6 at Big Lake.

The day-long exercise, jointly assisted by the Alaska National Guard's 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, used a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to airlift 200 Soldiers, six at a time, over the lake for the jump.

The Spartan Brigade used the training event to further enhance and broaden its range of airborne capabilities.

The water jump was a first for many paratroopers, and the operation was the first of its kind for the unit since 2011.

"I'm pretty excited! This is actually my first UH-60 jump, and first water jump," said 1st Lt. Mekko Gillen, an ordnance officer and jumpmaster with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, shortly before her jump.

"I think it will help me for future airborne operations. I'm hoping to gain a lot of knowledge from this experience," Gillen said.

The excitement of the upcoming jump resonated throughout the formation.

Sgt. Joseph Beasley, an allied trade specialist, also with Fox Co., 2-377 Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, said, "I've jumped from Black Hawks before. They're pretty amazing, and hitting that water should be pretty good, too."

Safety is a key component in all airborne operations. The Spartan Brigade trains continuously to maintain proficiency, so confidence was high among the troops.

"I'm confident in all of these jumpers and jump masters," said Beasley.

He said the training they have done in preparation for the jump has made him even more confident.

"It was awesome," said Pfc. Tyler Steane, a healthcare specialist with Blackfoot Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment. "It was definitely a lot more peaceful, [than an airplane jump]; quieter coming out, you can actually communicate with your other jumpers. We were talking about moving our equipment properly, a quick question here and there, and then, 'Hey, there's the water!'"

The water temperature was mild, and not as cold as many had anticipated.

"It was warmer than I expected," said Steane. "The air coming in from the helicopter was cold, so when I hit the water, it was a lot warmer. It was nice, the floatation device worked well too."

The floatation device is employed about 200 feet above the surface, and it tucks efficiently under the arms for easy maneuverability.

"I hit the water and was under for a fraction of a second, and just came back up," said Steane. "I looked up to make sure my canopy was going over my head. There were no issues. It was a perfect jump!"

Steane said the training leading up to the water jump included practicing many safety standards.

Swimming pool training included various floatation drills, treading water, and techniques on how to prop up the canopy to create an air pocket in the event it covers the paratrooper while in the water, along with training on how to swim out from under it.

"Everything was done with extreme safety standards," Steane said.

Training, safety, and fun were all mixed together during the event which was shared by community members of Big Lake and Spartan families as they watched paratroopers leap out of the helicopter, float down, and splash into Big Lake.

Stratcom Conference Focuses on 21st-century Deterrence

by Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity


8/14/2014 - WASHINGTON -- 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.

Chaplain's assistant helps Airmen, families keep the faith

by Gina Randall
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


8/13/2014 - RAF MILDENHALL, England  -- Many service members and their families may turn to their faith in difficult times. Whether it's marriage, finance, family or work problems affecting the spiritual or mental health of Airmen -- the chapel is there to help.

One such Airman serving the chapel, and the community, is U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Hartvigsen, 100th Air Refueling Wing NCO in charge of chapel readiness and training from Bountiful, Utah.

He sees the stress the community is under and wants to help. He believes in the Air Force and the way of life it offers people and their families. But life isn't the same as it was when he joined in October 2003.

"Take it as it is, it's a changing Air Force. You've got to come in with an open mind," Hartvigsen said. "You've got to come in knowing that you might only be here for your enlistment, or for longer."

But he knows it isn't just the military world that is changing; military leaders are reacting to an ever-evolving world.

"Everything is so uncertain right now. I think that's the times as well. We live in a world that is really unstable. Sometimes you have to react to it," the Utah native said. "If you do join, live your day, do your best that you can every day, take advantage of all that the Air Force has to offer."

It's at times of uncertainly that many people look to their faith to offer a sense of stability -- something that will always be a part of their life no matter what country they are stationed in.

The chapel offers a wide range of support to the Air Force community with many programs, including Protestant Women of the Chapel, bible study, men's bible study group, single Airmen bible study group, and Mothers of Preschoolers where a group of moms get together to offer support to each other.

"They have an uplifting message, they can bring their kids, it gives the moms some time to themselves, it gives kids time to play with other kids and run some energy out before going home. It's a time for the moms to get revitalized," the NCO added. "We've got Club Beyond that we work with over at RAF Lakenheath. We're really involved with that program as well as Approved Workman Are Not Ashamed which is geared toward the younger group of kids."

He helps get the programs, which begin in September, ready and keeps them running.

"It's more of helping the community in the bigger scheme of things. We have these programs that help individuals get connected," Hartvigsen added.

Hartvigsen enjoys his job as a chaplain's assistant, ensuring the chapel is ready for the community. He helps takes care of the logistics in the chapel. He makes sure the facility is looking its best to offer a sanctuary for users.

"As well as with the chaplains out in the squadrons, we team up with them in religious support teams," he said. "We're out there probing the morale, finding out what the pulse of the base is so that we can up channel our thoughts to leadership."

Base leaders care about their Airmen and their families and want to balance getting the demanding mission done with less people, while still allowing them time to work on their spirituality.

Many service members don't always have time to come to the chapel when they dedicate so much of their time to the mission. So the chapel believes in getting out into the work centers.

"If they can't come to the chapel, the chapel comes to them. I enjoy getting out and meeting different people. Being out in the units has really opened my vision of a bigger Air Force," Hartvigsen reflected. "Even though people may think they have an insignificant part, they really do have a huge place in the bigger scheme of the Air Force. It's like a jigsaw puzzle, with one piece missing, the whole puzzle can't be completed."

Meeting the community also helps develop Hartvigsen as an NCO, and as an Airman. He learns a great deal from the Airmen -- knowledge he can use to help others.

"The other thing I like is actually going out there and participating and learning what others do. Sometimes we have the ability to do that. We've gone on refueling missions to learn about their job so we can get a better understanding of what they do. We go over to the comptroller squadron to find out what finance does and learn the ropes," he said. "It broadens your horizons. That's what I really enjoy, being out there and helping individuals with issues that they might have in their life."

Coming in hot

by Airman 1st Class Trevor T. McBride
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


8/14/2014 - Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England -- In a world where tragedy can strike at a moment's notice, the 48th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department honed their response, communication and live-fire procedures during fire training on a mock F-15 Aug. 12-14.

"Live-fire training ensures that firefighters are able to save lives and protect government assets, by performing the required tactics and techniques, in the event of an aircraft fire," said Master Sgt. Daniel Parker, 48th CES fire chief.

According to Parker, this training is required twice a year and is vital to all ranks.

"Even our most senior firefighters require this training to avoid skill fade and to keep their qualifications current," Parker said. "We train for muscle memory so our firefighters can have confidence in their job."

The live-fire training proved to be beneficial to Airman 1st Class Matthew McPherson, 48th CES firefighter.

"I feel that the training is a vital asset for the fire department, because it keeps our skills sharp to maintain proper techniques for an emergency situation," McPherson said. "You can actually feel the heat as if it was an actual aircraft fire."

To do this, there is behind-the-scenes work that ensures a successful training event.

"We have to send out notifications to all of the base agencies in advance to avoid false calls," Parker said. "We also have to make schedule changes to ensure all firefighters are receiving the training."

Although the live-fire aircraft can produce large flames, the fire on the mock-up is controlled to ensure the safety of the firefighters.

"The aircraft control tower operator has an overall view of the area and has the ability to conduct an emergency shutdown in the case of an emergency or mishap," Parker said. "It allows us to ensure our firefighters get the proper training and use effective techniques to put the fire out.

"It is real. They can see it, feel it, and it comes down to them using sound judgment and making the right decisions during the event. Fortunately, there are not many real-world aircraft incidents thanks to great Air Force Fire Prevention and Safety programs."

Parker said live-fire training prepares firefighters for real-life situations and it's what the 48th CES lives for.

"I always get excited to get out and train because you're brushing up on skills that needed work or learning something new," McPherson said. "I feel our teamwork made everything run smoothly and communication was key to mission success."

Teach the Chief: Meet Airman 1st Class Caitlynn White

by Senior Airman Shannon Hall
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


8/14/2014 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Airman 1st Class Caitlynn White, 7th Force Support Squadron force management technician, was shadowed by the 7th Bomb Wing command chief as part of the "Teach the Chief" program.

This program was implemented for senior leaders to gain first-hand experience and knowledge about what enlisted members accomplish every day to support the Dyess and Air Force mission.

A1C White is from Nashville, Tenn., and joined the Air Force right out of high school. She has been stationed at Dyess since March 2014 working in the Evaluations and Classifications office. Her days consist of processing enlisted and officer performance reports, updating members' special duty pay and their duty statuses.

Chief Master Sgt. Eddie Webb, 7th Bomb Wing command chief, shadowed White at the evaluations office, learning how to close out EPRs and OPRs for the base.

"It was a neat experience to spend the day teaching Chief Webb how to do some of my job," said White. "He took time out of his busy schedule to step into my boots and learn from me. He is a great role model, gives good advice and taught me a lot as well."

Although White has been in the Air Force for less than a year, she has excelled in her job and in the Abilene community.

White recently volunteered for the Alameda Spring Cleaning event, where she spent her time picking up trash. She also volunteered at the Abilene Zoolute event, assisting zoo patrons visiting during the yearly salute to military members.

"Chief Webb helped me realize that you have to make the best out of everything," White said. "Therefore, I want to always exceed in everything I do. I plan on becoming a senior non-commissioned officer, getting my education and becoming a doctor."

Thursdays with the Chief: Meet Senior Airman Ryan White

by Senior Airman Shannon Hall
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


8/14/2014 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Senior Airman Ryan White, 7th Component Maintenance Squadron support technician, shadowed the 7th Bomb Wing command chief as part of the "Thursdays with Chief" program.

The program helps Airmen understand the big Air Force picture and allows them behind closed doors to experience first-hand the work put in by command chiefs.

Senior Airman White, a native of Baltimore, Md., has been stationed at Dyess for three and a half years, working as an aerospace propulsion journeyman.

White spent an entire day shadowing Chief Master Sgt. Eddie Webb, 7th Bomb Wing command chief, attending a wing staff meeting, luncheons and sitting in on various meetings.

"It was very enlightening to spend my day with Chief Webb," White said. "He inspired me to better understand how all the base counterparts form together to oversee and maintain our war fighting capability."

Airmen selected for this program are chosen based on their outstanding achievements.

White recently volunteered at the Taylor-Jones Humane Society, donating his personal time to help others by relocating two storage sheds for an annual yard sale. In his primary job, he restored his sister flight's tool tracking system, which prevented manual input of over 6,000 tool inspections, and was named Airman of the Month for December 2012 within his squadron.

"Even with all that I have accomplished I still have a ways to go," White said. "I would like to make at least one permanent improvement to more efficiently accomplish the 7th Bomb Wing mission."

4th FW breaks ground for new medical group clinic

by Airman 1st Class Aaron J. Jenne
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


8/14/2014 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- The 4th Fighter Wing broke ground for the construction of the new 4th Medical Group Thomas Koritz Clinic here Aug. 12, 2014.

The $53 million construction project features a 106,500 square-foot, energy-efficient facility to replace the existing 4th MDG clinic.

"Today represents a benchmark in the history of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base," said Col. Mark Slocum, 4th Fighter Wing commander. "This facility is going to bring new efficiencies to patient care and customer expectations."

Construction of the outpatient medical facility is scheduled to begin in January of 2015, with completion scheduled for middle to late 2016.

The new facility will be one of the most significant upgrades to Seymour Johnson AFB in the last 30 years, said Slocum.

"The project will bring a brand new, state-of-the-art facility complete with the integrated technology necessary to ensure the health and wellness of the community and maintain a combat-ready and deployable force," Slocum said.

The project will undergo several phases over the next two years, including building construction, transition to the new facility, demolition of the old facility and restoration of the grounds.

The new facility's improvements extend beyond technological capabilities and accessibility. The architects' designs pay homage to aviation history and maximize energy efficiency.

Currently, the total operating cost for all 4th MDG utilities exceeds $30,000 per month. Through the use of natural light and more environmentally friendly practices, the clinic hopes to cut energy costs in half.

According to Slocum, by improving patient flow, space utilization and energy efficiency, the vastly improved facility, in conjunction with its medical professionals, will provide an unrivalled patient care experience.

According to Slocum, by improving patient flow, space utilization and energy efficiency, the vastly improved facility, in conjunction with its medical professionals, will provide an unrivalled patient care experience for more than 37,000 active duty, Reserve, and retired members and their families who use the medical facilities.

"Our new building will house an amazing medical home for our patients, and the 4th Medical Group will continue to deliver ready medics and quality care," said Col. Eleanor Nazar-Smith, 4th Medical Group commander. "This is an exciting day for the 4th Fighter Wing. We're proud of what will be an incredible facility and home to our vital Strike Eagle Medics and the patients they serve."

New inspection system taking form at Nellis

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


8/14/2014 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS) -- The publication of Air Force Instruction 90-201, Air Force Inspection System, brought fundamental changes to the way the base conducts inspections.

Under the new system, units will no longer be spending weeks and months preparing for a one-week inspection from the Air Combat Command Inspector General team, explained Col. Richard Boutwell, 99th Air Base Wing commander.

"In the past, we've spent a lot of resources and manpower in gearing up for an inspection, which is really a 'snap shot' of our climate at that particular moment," Boutwell said. "The new system will allow us to have more inspections throughout the year, so we'll have more of a 'portfolio' of how we're doing, so we can assess how well we're doing more accurately. The analogy was we would go out and paint the grass for the inspection, but now we're going to cultivate that grass and maintain it."

Another important change in the new AFIS is the Commander's Inspection Program, or CCIP, which is designed to give more power to wing commanders by allowing them to run their wing's inspection system.

"I think this is what inspections should have always been like; they should align with the commander's priorities and not necessarily be externally imposed," said Lt. Col. Yira Muse, 99th ABW IG. "The idea is you should operate the same way day-to-day as you would during an inspection."

The CCIP involves a continual assessment of four major graded areas: managing resources, leading people, improving the unit and executing the mission, which will allow the wing to focus on mission readiness and improve mission effectiveness rather than inspection readiness.

The 99th ABW IG team is now charged with implementing the CCIP, inspecting units within the wing, and reporting back to the wing commander. However, internal inspections are the foundation of the AFIS, promoting responsibility and accountability within the unit and allowing commanders to control the depth, scope and frequency of inspections.

"Essentially, we want unit commanders to self-identify areas where they cannot meet the mission fully or they feel their unit is not as strong on," said Maj. Jennifer Cowie, 99th ABW IG director of inspections. "They really need to give an honest and accurate self-assessment of what it is they have and if they are able to effectively meet the mission. We understand it's going to be difficult at first and every unit's program is going to be a little different. There's not going to be this off-the-shelf program that works for everybody, because it is very much mission-dependent and a lot of answers aren't out there yet."

The inspection cycle, which is referred to as a Unit Effectiveness Inspection, spans the course of two years.

"We're in a UEI right now, and the inspection has been and will be on-going," Muse said. "Come November 2015, [the ACC IG team] will come for the capstone then the two years will start over again. Consider yourself under inspection all the time."

In order to be successful, Muse said Airmen will need to get over one common misconception.

"It's important for Airmen to understand that red is not 'dead' and we're looking for honest reporting," Muse said. "If you can self-identify deficiencies or areas of non-compliance, that's what we're trying to do. Where we can get in trouble is if there are undetected non-compliance areas. If an external agency came to look at Nellis and found areas of non-compliance that we did not identify ourselves, then that would be a problem."

Overall, Cowie said the wing will ultimately benefit from the new AFIS.

"Once we get through the growing pains and out of that old-system mentality, we can definitely be successful," Cowie said. "Units should be mission-ready at all times and reporting how they maintain mission readiness, not necessarily spending extra man hours gearing up for a one time inspection. Essentially, this new system will hold everyone responsible, which is a good thing."
New inspection system taking form at Nellis

Posted 8/14/2014   Updated 8/14/2014 Email story   Print story

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


8/14/2014 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS) -- The publication of Air Force Instruction 90-201, Air Force Inspection System, brought fundamental changes to the way the base conducts inspections.

Under the new system, units will no longer be spending weeks and months preparing for a one-week inspection from the Air Combat Command Inspector General team, explained Col. Richard Boutwell, 99th Air Base Wing commander.

"In the past, we've spent a lot of resources and manpower in gearing up for an inspection, which is really a 'snap shot' of our climate at that particular moment," Boutwell said. "The new system will allow us to have more inspections throughout the year, so we'll have more of a 'portfolio' of how we're doing, so we can assess how well we're doing more accurately. The analogy was we would go out and paint the grass for the inspection, but now we're going to cultivate that grass and maintain it."

Another important change in the new AFIS is the Commander's Inspection Program, or CCIP, which is designed to give more power to wing commanders by allowing them to run their wing's inspection system.

"I think this is what inspections should have always been like; they should align with the commander's priorities and not necessarily be externally imposed," said Lt. Col. Yira Muse, 99th ABW IG. "The idea is you should operate the same way day-to-day as you would during an inspection."

The CCIP involves a continual assessment of four major graded areas: managing resources, leading people, improving the unit and executing the mission, which will allow the wing to focus on mission readiness and improve mission effectiveness rather than inspection readiness.

The 99th ABW IG team is now charged with implementing the CCIP, inspecting units within the wing, and reporting back to the wing commander. However, internal inspections are the foundation of the AFIS, promoting responsibility and accountability within the unit and allowing commanders to control the depth, scope and frequency of inspections.

"Essentially, we want unit commanders to self-identify areas where they cannot meet the mission fully or they feel their unit is not as strong on," said Maj. Jennifer Cowie, 99th ABW IG director of inspections. "They really need to give an honest and accurate self-assessment of what it is they have and if they are able to effectively meet the mission. We understand it's going to be difficult at first and every unit's program is going to be a little different. There's not going to be this off-the-shelf program that works for everybody, because it is very much mission-dependent and a lot of answers aren't out there yet."

The inspection cycle, which is referred to as a Unit Effectiveness Inspection, spans the course of two years.

"We're in a UEI right now, and the inspection has been and will be on-going," Muse said. "Come November 2015, [the ACC IG team] will come for the capstone then the two years will start over again. Consider yourself under inspection all the time."

In order to be successful, Muse said Airmen will need to get over one common misconception.

"It's important for Airmen to understand that red is not 'dead' and we're looking for honest reporting," Muse said. "If you can self-identify deficiencies or areas of non-compliance, that's what we're trying to do. Where we can get in trouble is if there are undetected non-compliance areas. If an external agency came to look at Nellis and found areas of non-compliance that we did not identify ourselves, then that would be a problem."

Overall, Cowie said the wing will ultimately benefit from the new AFIS.

"Once we get through the growing pains and out of that old-system mentality, we can definitely be successful," Cowie said. "Units should be mission-ready at all times and reporting how they maintain mission readiness, not necessarily spending extra man hours gearing up for a one time inspection. Essentially, this new system will hold everyone responsible, which is a good thing."

4th SOS Air Commando to compete in Warrior Games

by Airman 1st Class Jeff Parkinson
1st Special Operation Wing Public Affairs


7/25/2014 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Staff Sgt. Erin McLoughlin, 4th Special Operations Squadron special missions aviator, has been selected to compete in the Warrior Games at the Olympic Training Center, Fort Carson, Colo., Sept. 28 through Oct. 4.

The Warrior Games take service members who were wounded, ill or injured during combat or training and allows them to compete against each other in various events including shooting, track and field and wheelchair basketball.

Approximately 250 athletes are expected to participate in the 2014 games, according to U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ligia Cohen, U.S. Special Operations Command public affairs officer.

Cohen said there will be five teams, representing each of the four branches of the U.S. military and USSOCOM.

The USSOCOM team is compiled of 40 wounded warriors, including an Air Commando from Hurlburt Field, Fla.

McLoughlin will be representing the 1st Special Operations Wing on the USSOCOM team.

"Being part of the SOCOM team is great," she said. "Being around these people, while training, brings a lot of camaraderie, teamwork and things that I have been missing while coping with my injuries.

Two years-ago McLoughlin was hurt in an altitude chamber, where she developed type-two decompression sickness, affecting her brain and central nervous system causing lingering injuries and minor brain damage.

McLoughlin has suffered from neurological issues ever since.

McLoughlin said she is training to compete in the shot put, discus throw, seated volleyball and backstroke and freestyle swimming events.

Since 2010, the Warrior Games has showcased the resilient spirit of today's wounded, ill and injured service members from all branches of the military.

After overcoming significant physical and behavioral injuries, these men and women demonstrate the resilience of today's force and the spirit of competition.

Contracting team ensures JBER has necessary gear

by Senior Airman Omari Bernard
JBER Public Affairs


8/14/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The average cost of an F-22 is 54 million dollars; the average cost of the clock that hangs on the wall in an office, only $25.

But the average cost of the realization that almost everything in sight on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson has been contracted ... priceless.

The 673 Contracting Squadron provides their customers business solutions to fit their needs while training and developing the skills of their personnel to provide JBER enhanced readiness every day, from Humvees to housing.

"Contracting is an integral part of the Air Force and the Department of Defense," said Gina Parks, 673 CONS director of business operations. "We are owners of the taxpayers dollars. Our job is to ensure that contracts are at a fair and reasonable price and that they are compliant with all the rules and regulations."

Contracts range from concessionaires' contracts such as swimming pool operators, to base-level contracts or systems-level contracts, which include munitions, aircraft, research, development and more.

"The mission happens with the support of contracting," said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Venning, 673 CONS superintendent. "If you use a government purchase card, thats a contracting action. Whether its a F-22, for millions of dollars, or a box of computers for a few thousand dollars, it all gets purchased through a contract action."

Contracts contain terms and conditions that outline specific requirements. If the terms are not met, actions may be taken in order for the contractor to fulfill their obligations.

The time it takes to complete a contract can be instant - with the swipe of a government purchase card - or take up to 18 months, depending on the complexity of the contract.

The contract process begins when a purchase request is sent to the Contracting Squadron.

"When we get a purchase request in, we work right beside our customers, especially if its a larger project, said Senior Airman Geoffrey Reid, 673 CONS contracting officer. "We research the laws and regulations, and get to know the project. Then we try to figure out the best way that we can buy that and try to make sure they [customers] get it in the time they need."

When Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson combined to become JBER in 2010, the 673d Air Base Wing was activated as the host wing combining installation management functions of Elmendorf Air Force Bace's 3rd Wing and U.S. Army Garrison on Fort Richardson.

"When we joint-based, we consolidated all contracting efforts to include the garrison piece of the Army mission," Parks said. "We garnered manpower and also their contracts that transferred over."

To save money, the 673 CONS combines similar contracts for both the Army and Air Force on JBER.

"We did an analysis of similar contracts, and over the past three years we have worked to consolidate contracts to save the government money," Parks said.

"Instead of having two custodial contractors, one for Elmendorf and one for Richardson, we have combined them to have one for the entire installation."

Contracting officers have the ability to obligate the government.

"An average person cannot obligate the government, without being a warranted contracting officer," Venning said. "They have to go through years of training, certifications, interviews and a board process, then we give them a piece of paper that states you are now authorized to obligate the government."

The contracting squadron is organized into flights who have flight chiefs, then team leads, contracting officers and contract specialists.

"Contract specialists do a lot of the work," Venning said. "But they are not authorized to sign the contract."

The mission of the 673 CONS is to ensure the units of JBER are well stocked by managing contracts, following marketing trends, evaluating offers, gathering supply sources and sharing their findings so they can maximize efficiency and set appropriate terms in their contracts.

"If you look out on this base, every unit is affected by contracting," Venning said. "All that money has to go somewhere, and a lot of it ends up in this squadron, to purchase goods, services, and construction that makes the mission happen."

Asia-Pacific Rebalance Remains Central to Strategy, Spokesman Says



By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 14, 2014 – Despite recent events in the Middle East, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the Defense Department remain dedicated to the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters today.

“Given the fact that there's a lot going on in the world, that we're still making these visits and still having these discussions, speaks volumes about how important we believe the Asia-Pacific theater is,” he said at a Pentagon news conference.

With more than 350,000 American troops based in the Pacific -- including the majority of Navy assets -- and with five of the seven U.S. treaty alliances there, DoD is very committed to the region, Kirby said.

“It doesn't mean that we take our eye off the ball of the rest of the world,” he said. “We know we have security commitments around the world in the Middle East, in Africa [and] in Europe, and we continue to work mightily on those commitments. And there's been no slackening in that regard.”

But, Kirby noted, if sequestration remains the law of the land, “it's going to be harder and harder for us to meet those commitments.” Unless Congress acts to change the law, sequestration spending cuts will return in fiscal year 2016.

“The defense strategy that we put forward, which allows us to conduct this rebalance and still focus on those parts of the world, will be put in jeopardy” under sequestration, Kirby said.

Hagel returned yesterday from a trip that included a stop in India, where he met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to discuss the importance of continuing robust defense cooperation.

“It was a very successful visit. … There are opportunities here for co-development and co-production that we hope will come to fruition here in the future, particularly with the Javelin anti-tank missile, shows great promise,” Kirby said. “But we were warmly received by Indian officials, came away from it feeling very, very positive. In fact, the secretary was talking about that this morning to the staff about the trip and feeling very, very encouraged by it.”

The department is looking forward to continuing to develop the defense relationship with India’s new government, he said.

“We had a great set of discussions. We believe the relationship is on a good, strong path forward, and that's the secretary's focus -- it’s on the future,” he added.

Barksdale participates in MITO exercise

by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs


8/14/2014 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.  -- Ten B-52H Stratofortress bombers took part in a minimum interval takeoff exercise, or MITO, showcasing ground and aircrew's abilities, here Aug. 14.

During a MITO, each aircraft is equipped with eight starter cartridges filled with gunpowder, that allows the engines to start up faster than a normal takeoff.

"We are practicing for a real world event; if something were to happen, this is how Barksdale would respond," said Senior Airman Mitchell Dexter 96th Aircraft Maintenance Unit aircraft powerplant general. "We use starter carts so we are able to get the engines started faster than using traditional methods, which allows us to get the planes started and taxing within minutes from the alert call."

Common place during the Cold war, a MITO challenges crews to get multiple aircraft off the ground within 15 minutes of initial alert notices.
"The MITO proves the teamwork between both the aircrews and ground crews is solid," said Col. David Foote, 2nd Maintenance Group commander. "This allows Barksdale to provide nuclear deterrence giving our allies the assurance that we have the capability needed to deter our adversaries."

While the small launch window is challenging in itself, turbulence created from the leading aircraft can create rough air for the following planes, testing the aircrew's skills.

"Our maintainers and operators did a magnificent job preparing and executing this exercise," said Col. Kristin Goodwin, 2nd Bomb Wing commander. "This launch is a testament to our capability and what our crews are able to accomplish."

Although the days of the Cold War are over, a MITO showcases the operational capability Barksdale continues to maintain, proving aircrew and maintenance personnel are ready to perform and execute at a moment's notice.

"A MITO launch is another example of the flexible and responsive combat capability the B-52 can project on a global scale," Goodwin said. "Our mission is to provide decisive nuclear deterrence and conventional firepower anytime, anywhere. That's not a statement...a MITO is one way we prove it."

Face of Defense: Reserve Soldier Trains With Danish Home Guard



By Army Staff Sgt. Kai Jensen
76th U.S. Army Reserve Operational Response Command

SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 14, 2014 – Through the Military Reserve Exchange Program, a computer operations officer with U.S. Strategic Command’s Army Reserve Element trained with the Danish Home Guard in Denmark.

“The entire trip was fun,” said Army 1st Lt. Kyle Kennedy, a Columbus, Nebraska, native. “The Home Guard liaisons made sure our days were packed from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and they went above and beyond to make sure we got to see the whole country and experience the Danish Home Guard way of life.”

While working in Demark June 11-25, Kennedy learned how the Danish Home Guard runs its logistics, medical and armor operations, its shooting competitions, and its day-to-day activities.

Military Reserve Exchange Program provides reserve-component officers with training associated with mobilization duties while enhancing their ability to work and communicate with service members of the host nation.

“He is a unit role model and leader with impeccable character,” said Army Lt. Col. Mike Poss, commander of Stratcom’s Army Reserve Element. Based on these qualities, he added, Kennedy was a great selection to be an ambassador of the Army Reserve for the Denmark exchange program.

Through the program, soldiers gain an understanding of the training, doctrine and operations of a major alliance partner.

“The experience of working with allied militaries makes [soldiers] more experienced and teaches them how these other militaries operate,” said Army Maj. Benjamin Flosi, manager of the exchange program. “They build relationships so that later on in their careers, when they actually do work with allied militaries, they already have a point of contact, relationship and experience to fall back on.”

During his time in Denmark, Kennedy said, the Danish Guard’s shooting competitions stand out the most in his mind.

“The Home Guard’s shooting competitions were fantastic,” he said. “They had different stages and events, [including] distance shooting, movement shooting, close-contact firing, speed shooting, shooting at unique angles and shooting while on an elevated platform at pop-up targets. I placed first for the American group and third overall in the second-day shooting competition.”

Kennedy said he spent the first few days in Copenhagen, nine days in Skive and the remaining days in Tranum.

“Copenhagen was my favorite location,” he said. “Everyone there is so active, from people on bikes to kayaking to running. The prices were extremely high, but it helped you manage your money better and appreciate the things you have.”

Kennedy said he wanted to be in the Army and support his country ever since he was a boy, and with 17 of service, this was another unique experience that he was able to add to his list.

Secretary of the Army recognizes members of Joint Task Force-Bravo

by Capt. Steven Stubbs
Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs


8/14/2014 - SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras  -- Saying their efforts are invaluable to the growth and stability of Central America, the Army's top leader lauded members of Joint Task Force-Bravo Aug. 13 while in Honduras.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh recognized Soldiers and Airmen from the Medical Element and 612th Air Base Squadron fire department in a coining ceremony for their cooperation with the Comayagua Fire Department during a major vehicle accident response just outside the base where several people were trapped.

"Your courage, devotion and professionalism at the scene of that horrific and tragic accident speak volumes about this task force and this tremendous joint force that America repeatedly brings to bear to help try and make the world a better place." McHugh said.

While at Soto Cano McHugh also observed how the 1-228th Aviation Regiment, Army Forces Battalion, Medical Element, Joint Security Forces and 612th Air Base Squadron work together to promote security and stability in the Central America region.

"I can't stress enough the importance of the contributions to the security of the region that Joint Task Force-Bravo has made," McHugh told the Task Force members. "Your commitment to building and sustaining partnerships with the Central American nations will help strengthen their security capacity, disrupt transnational organized crime and improve citizen security which is the foundation for stable, prosperous and democratic societies."

McHugh also applauded the efforts of the service members here that provide much needed healthcare to the citizens of the region who often will travel several miles by foot to get there.

"The Army medical staff, working side-by-side with local medical teams and military forces, has provided medical care to more than 340,000 people in Central America since they started way back in 1993," McHugh said. "The treatment you provide to them fills the gap in the healthcare system of these countries."

During a town hall meeting with members of the task force McHugh expressed his appreciation for their efforts and how "they continually learn to collaborate in new ways".

"You've shown exactly what we can achieve when we break down barriers and build on one another's strengths," McHugh said.

McHugh said it was vital that service members of Joint Task Force-Bravo know that their hard work doesn't go unnoticed.

"We're deeply appreciative for what you do on a day-to-day basis in Central America. The work that you are doing is important, in fact invaluable, to the future growth and stability of this region."

Touchdown: new rotation takes reigns at Powidz

by Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton
USAFE-AFAFRICA Public Affairs


8/14/2014 - POWIDZ AIR BASE, Poland  -- With a shrill squeal rubber met road as two C-130J Super Hercules' touched down at Powidz Air Base, Poland, Aug. 14 - their crews ready to begin a flying training deployment in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

Hailed as a demonstration of the United States' ongoing commitment to the collective security of NATO allies and European partners, Operation Atlantic Resolve allows Airmen deployed to Poland the opportunity to augment allied capability with the aim of designing and hosting a broad range of training opportunities.

"As representatives of the U.S. military in Poland we value the shared commitment and close cooperation with NATO partners on countering a range of regional and global threats," said Lt. Col. Barry King II, 37th Airlift Squadron detachment commander at Powidz. "Our continuing contributions to develop and improve air readiness are significant in maintaining security and building partnership capacity."

In addition to building relationships, Airmen deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany will spend the next few weeks conducting bilateral exercises with Poland and the neighboring Baltic States. They will hone their skills while practicing low-level flight training, touchdowns at unimproved landing zones and airdrop training of both cargo and personnel.

"This training is absolutely invaluable toward maintaining joint readiness, building interoperability and strengthening relationships with NATO partners," King said. "We are serving as the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa's forward presence in this region. It is our goal to ensure both the United States and NATO know we can move forward quickly to support, and defend our allies."

Demonstrating the "forward, ready, now" capabilities of Air Force Airmen and equipment is made possible through the application of regular combined training exercises.

"These exercises don't simply strengthen our capabilities, they strengthen the bonds with our host nations," said King. "They send a message that we are committed to a peaceful, stable and secure Europe."

Israeli Defense Minister Updates Hagel on Cease-fire



DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 14, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel received an update by phone yesterday from Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon on the cease-fire underway between Israel and the militant group Hamas, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

“Secretary Hagel reiterated his support for Egypt's mediation efforts and underscored the importance of achieving a sustainable outcome that ensures Israel's security and addresses Gaza's humanitarian crisis,” Kirby said in a statement summarizing the call.

Hagel and Yaalon agreed to continue working closely on the broad range of security issues facing the United States and Israel and agreed to speak again soon, he added.