Military News

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hagel Congratulates Cape Ray For Syria Mission



DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has congratulated the crew of the U.S. ship MV Cape Ray for completing the work of neutralizing Syrian chemical weapons components. 

Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby issued a statement today saying Hagel called Navy Captain Rich Dromerhauser aboard the ship to congratulate the crew on finishing their unprecedented work of neutralizing, at sea, the most dangerous chemicals in Syria's declared stockpile. The secretary said that by ridding the world of these materials, they - as part of an ongoing international effort to eliminate the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal - have helped make an important and enduring contribution to global security.

Secretary Hagel expressed his gratitude for the crew's service, dedication, and expertise, noting that with the world watching, they performed flawlessly every step of the way - despite a very long deployment, and a complex operation that required careful coordination with our international partners. The secretary commended the crew for conducting every aspect of the mission in a highly professional manner, with strict adherence to safety and with no impact to the surrounding environment, and said that they should all be very proud of what they've accomplished to help reduce the threat posed by chemical weapons.

Today's milestone would not have been possible without the contributions of our many international partners, or the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which provided the funding to carry out these operations. While the international community's work to completely eliminate Syria's chemical weapons program is not yet finished, the secretary believes this is a clear demonstration of what can be achieved when diplomacy is backed by a willingness to use military force.

The United States will remain vigilant in our efforts to deter future use of chemicals as weapons, and in ensuring that all questions about the extent of Assad's chemical weapons program are answered in full.

U.S. Navy Works with Indonesian Partners in Protecting, Preserving Sunken Gravesite



From U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- U.S. Navy underwater archeologists, in conjunction with Indonesian Navy divers, have assessed in an interim report that the wrecked vessel surveyed in the Java Sea in June is "consistent with the identification" of the World War II wreck of the cruiser USS Houston (CA 30), and that divers documented conclusive evidence of a pattern of unauthorized disturbance of the gravesite.

"We're grateful for the support of our Indonesian partners in determining the condition of the USS Houston," said Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. "In my discussions with our Indonesian navy partners, they share our sense of obligation to protect this and other gravesites."

"Surveying the site, of course, was only the first step in partnering to respect those Sailors who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the freedoms and security that we richly enjoy today," he added.

As part of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2014 exercise in June, U.S. Navy divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) One Company 1-5, along with personnel from the Indonesian navy, surveyed the wreck during a joint training evolution. Over the course of 19 dive excursions, both ends of the wrecked vessel were marked with buoys and the exposed port side, as well as the deck, was documented using video recording.

After analyzing all of the data, an assessment from the Naval History and Heritage Command concluded that all of the recorded data is consistent with the identification of the wrecked vessel as the former USS Houston.

The site of the sunken ship, while a popular recreational dive site, is the final resting place of approximately 700 Sailors and Marines. The assessment noted signs that unknown persons removed hull rivets and a metal plate from the ship. U.S. and Indonesian representatives are currently coordinating to develop measures to prevent continued disturbance of the site.

During the June survey, the joint team conducted a wreath-laying ceremony on June 11 presided over by the Deputy Chief of Mission to Indonesia, Kristen Bauer, memorializing the loss.

The assessment also said that "evidence suggests the unauthorized recovery of unexploded ordnance (UXO) from the vessel raising public safety and security concerns" and that there is "active seepage of oil from the hull." Underwater archeologists are still working through data collected from the visit, and expect the final report to be completed later this fall.

Houston, nicknamed "The Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast," was sunk in combat during the World War II Battle of Sunda Strait in 1942. Capt. Albert H. Rooks, the ship's commanding officer who was killed in action, posthumously received the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism, while USS Houston was awarded two battle stars, as well as the Presidential Unit Citation.

Lt. Dan Band rocks northern tier

Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

8/18/2014 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Shouts of "Lieutenant Dan!" filled the air as thousands of Airmen and their families rocked out with Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band over the weekend.

Sinise, who made his mark on Hollywood with roles in movies such as Apollo 13 and Of Mice and Men, as well as on CSI: New York, is best known to millions simply as Lt. Dan, a Vietnam veteran in the 1994 film Forrest Gump. The Lt. Dan Band, co-founded by Sinise and in which he plays bass, performed at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, Minot AFB, North Dakota, and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming between Aug. 15 and Aug. 17. Their message was simple: "It is a privilege to play for you - thank you for serving our country."

"Personally, I have made it a particular mission to do what I can to draw attention to our military and first responder communities and to make sure they know they are remembered and appreciated," Sinise said.

The Lt. Dan Band drew record crowds at each venue, with overall attendance totaling approximately five thousand people. Response to the performances was overwhelmingly positive. Some attendees said it was the best thing to happen at their base in years.

The performances are part of a wider, ongoing push by Air Force Global Strike Command to bring high-quality entertainment to the more isolated northern-tier bases.
Also present at the Malmstrom performance was the Steak Team Mission, a Texas-based nonprofit organization that serves steak dinners to servicemembers in remote or hazardous locations, who cooked over 1200 streaks for the Airmen and their families.

The Lt. Dan Band has been active for more than 10 years, entertaining thousands of troops around the world. It is part of the Gary Sinise Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises support and awareness for military members and first responders, and their families.

"Whether through performing with the band, supporting a military charity or visiting the war zones and hospitals to shake some hands and take some pictures, all of it helps them know that there are people out there who are aware of, and appreciate, their sacrifices, and who understand the importance of keeping our military families strong in difficult times," Sinise said.

2-cent difference saves Travis, Air Force millions

by Senior Airman Bryan Swink
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


8/18/2014 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Travis has jumped on board an Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century initiative set in place in 2008 that will eventually save the Air Force and Department of Defense millions of dollars each year.

Recently, Travis' aircraft switched from using JP-8, a military specification fuel, to Jet A fuel, which is more widely available and less expensive. The current cost difference between the two types of fuel might not seem astronomical at two cents per gallon, but when talking about millions of gallons, the savings rise quickly.

Travis is the second-largest fuel consuming base in the Air Force with approximately 4.5 million gallons issued to aircraft every month. Add the cost savings up and Travis will save more than $1 million each year.

"As of Aug. 8, we will have converted 80 percent of the CONUS Air Force locations to commercial Jet A with the same three additives as JP-8," said Staff Sgt. Lee'Etta Norman, 60th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels service center accountant. "We anticipate being at 100 percent by the beginning of November."

For those installations that have switched to Jet A from JP-8, the transition has not caused any maintenance or operational concerns. From October 2009 to June 2014, the Air Force has consumed more than 1.45 billion gallons of Jet A fuel at Air Force and commercial airport locations which constitutes more than 490,000 aircraft refuelings.

"Since the standard price of the fuel changed in June 2011, the Air Force has saved more than $15 million in a little more than three years based on the two-cent difference," Norman said.

JP-8 and Jet A are kerosene-based aviation fuels that have the same density range, energy content and flashpoint and can be blended at any ratio. The primary difference between the two is the specification fuel freezing point. The fuel freezing point requirement for Jet A is warmer at a maximum of minus 40-degrees Celsius while JP-8 has a specification fuel freezing point of minus 47-degrees Celsius, according to the Air Force Petroleum Agency.

"The DOD is converting CONUS fuel stocks from JP-8 to commercial Jet A with additives because JP-8, as a military specification fuel, requires specialized refining processes," said Staff Sgt. Ricky Anthony, 60th LRS base fuels laboratory NCO in charge. "By tapping into the larger commercial Jet A market, the DOD can take advantage of more suppliers allowing for more competitive sourcing, increasing procurement competition to reduce fuel costs and resulting in increased operational flexibility."

D-M pilots have lunch with unique veterans

by Airman 1st Class Chris Drzazgowski
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


8/18/2014 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Pilots from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base met with members from the Veterans of Underage Military Service during a lunch in Tucson, Ariz., Aug. 13.

VUMS is an organization consisting of individuals who served in any branch of the United States Armed Services before they were of legal age to do so.

Maj. Christopher Palmer, 357th Fighter Squadron A-10 pilot, and Capt. Patrick Burke, 55th Rescue Squadron HH-60G pilot, represented D-M to give insight on their units' missions to the VUMS in attendance.

"I hope I was successful in sharing with them a snapshot of what the 357th FS does on a daily basis to produce combat ready A-10 pilots," Palmer said. "As well as share with them some of my experiences in Afghanistan. That way, they can understand the mission downrange and be proud of those who are currently serving overseas much like the VUMS did in the past wars."

The veterans exchanged stories with one another like a group of old friends who haven't seen each other in ages.

Among them was Walter F. Ram, former prisoner of war during World War II. Ram's aircraft was shot down by Nazi fighter planes during a bomb mission in June 1943, beginning his 19 months as a POW.

Ram entered into the U.S. Army by changing the date on his baptismal certificate, making it appear that he was old enough to serve. The more difficult task was convincing his mother to allow his enlistment.

"My mother didn't want me to go," Ram said. "Finally, I talked to her and promised her I'd go back to high school when I came back. When I returned, I went back to high school, went to college and got my degree."

The lunch concluded with the exchange of phone numbers and handshakes between the veterans and D-M pilots.

Palmer was grateful for the opportunity to meet with the group of veterans.

"My goal for the visit was to pay respect to those gentlemen who so bravely enlisted at such a young age and during a turbulent time in our country's history," Palmer said. "These gentlemen are responsible for the freedoms we enjoy today and I hope our presence honored their service."

Breedlove Discusses Russian Threats in Europe



By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2014 – NATO is examining additional ways it can reassure alliance members who feel threatened by Russia’s on-going actions in Ukraine, including positioning forces in new locations, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe told a German newspaper.

In an interview with Die Welt, Air Force Gen. Phillip Breedlove called Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula a new type of warfare, labelling it the DIME model: diplomatic, informational, military, economic. “In this new hybrid warfare, we see Russia applying all of the elements of national power in a coercive way to affect change in other sovereign nations,” he said.

In February, Russia deployed a large force on its border with Ukraine and the Russian army conducted what were described as exercises near Crimea.

“Let’s just look at eastern Ukraine right now. In a diplomatic sense, the Russians are trying to build these international arguments that it is Ukraine that is causing the problem,” and that Russia needs to step in.

However, Breedlove said Russia continues to threaten Ukraine’s sovereignty and he said NATO allies in Eastern and Central Europe feel threatened by this new warfare as well.

A number of reassurance measures have been put in place including bolstering air policing in the Baltics, added ship visits to the Black Sea, increased infantry exercises in the Baltic Republics as well as the deployment of additional NATO air assets as well as infantry exercises in Poland.

“We’re going to look at … specifically the NATO Response Force,” he said. “We’re going to look at how to … be more prepared in a command and control stance to react to Article 5 defense.”

NATO will also station forces “in the right locations to be able to rapidly respond to this new form of warfare that we see being used,” Breedlove said.

NATO nations must develop the police and military capabilities to deal with this new form of war. “How do we now train, organize, equip the police forces and the military forces of nations to be able to deal with this?” he asked. “It is important … to remember that if we see these actions taking place in a NATO nation and we are able to attribute them to an aggressor nation that is Article 5, and it is a military response.”

Weathering the years

by Senior Airman Stephanie Morris
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs


8/14/2014 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D.  -- Three days before Christmas, in 1966, a 17-year-old boy began a journey that would last 22 years and take him around the world. Approximately 40 years after Miller was stationed at Minot, and 26 years after retirement, he returned to the base to take a tour through the weather flight's new facility and see the technology being used today.

Dennis Miller was joining the United States Air Force and heading to basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

"Basic lasted six months," Miller said. "After that I went to tech. school for nine months to learn weather equipment maintenance and become a 302X0."

Fresh from technical training, Miller was sent to Korat Air Base, Thailand where he began installing electrical equipment to aid with the war in Vietnam.

Miller spent a year working on everything from telephones to navigation equipment as a member of the 483rd General Electronics Engineering Installation Agency. He also assisted with the installation of a CPS9 long pause weather radar in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, to monitor the weather over Hanoi, Vietnam.

"If there was cloud cover, the aircraft couldn't drop their ordinance," Miller said. "That meant that they would have to turn back and try to land a plane with armed weapons."

Miller explained this made the radar project in Nakhon Phanom a top priority for the military at the time. During the installation process, he had free reign at the site and a Jolly Green Giant HH-53 helicopter at his disposal, even though he was only an Airman 1st Class.

A year after he began his work in Thailand, Miller was once again on the move. First to McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, maintaining runway weather equipment, and then Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois, where he began a nine month class working toward his upgrade to seven-level.

Three years after Hurricane Camille made landfall in 1969, Miller was stationed at Keesler AFB. Shortly thereafter, he relocated to Wiesbaden Army Airfield located southeast of Wiesbaden, in Hesse, Germany. While there, Miller performed intermediate maintenance on weather equipment for all of Europe as President Richard Nixon announced the beginning of a massive bombing campaign in North Vietnam.

"While in Germany, I got to go on a lot of TDYs and experience a lot of new places," Miller said.

In preparation for a special duty assignment to Puerto Rico, Miller volunteered to be stationed at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.

"I'm originally from North Dakota," Miller said. "During my tour at Minot I went to training for advanced solar optical and radio telescopes."

Once Miller arrived in Puerto Rico he took charge of Operating Location Alpha. At this point he had begun monitoring solar activity to protect assets in space, such as the NASA Space Shuttle. Miller was part of the effort to ensure that Department of Defense communications, such as high frequency radio and satellites, remained operational.

"We were able to turn off satellites during solar flare events," Miller explained. "Turning them off kept them from getting what is called a 'space charge' and destroying their internal components."

The headquarters for Air Force Communications Command at Scott AFB, Illinois, was the next stop in Millers career. At Scott he became a program manager charged with finding new technology for weather equipment, training Airmen on its use, organizing logistics, and field testing. He also managed the world-wide solar maintenance program.

After Scott, Miller maintained equipment at sites in Australia, Italy, Hawaii, New Mexico, Puerto Rico and Massachusetts.

The final stop of his 22 years in the Air Force was McClellan AFB, California. As a member of the Sacramento Air Logistics Center he worked as a liaison for AFCC, overseeing $40 billion worth of communications equipment utilized by the Air Force.

"After retiring, I went to work for a company called Fujitsu," Miller said. "I started as a tech. writer and became the first product manager for high-speed fiber-optic transmission equipment in the United States."

Miller was excited to return to Minot for a visit, and Senior Airman Scott Hilde, 5th Operations Support Squadron weather forecaster, conducted the tour.

"Dennis taught me a lot about previous radars we used, which showed how far we have advanced since Doppler radar," Hilde said. "The programs we have now have clearly made it much easier to obtain weather data and switch between radar sites."

Miller was able to see the variety of radar programs used by the unit, tour their office space at the new base operations building and talk to the Airmen about things he had learned during his many projects in the Air Force.

Hilde explained being able to meet with someone who had retired from his career field was very enlightening, and it was fun to compare what the weather flight does now, to what they did then. Hearing Miller's stories brought to light the vast improvements the weather career field has overcome during the past decades.

"I enjoyed hearing about the mission they had during the Vietnam War and how important the 'weather man' was at that time," Hilde said. "I really liked showing him the new equipment and the advancements in technology we have come to."

DoD Continues Aid to Combat Western Wildfires



From a U.S. Northern Command News Release

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., Aug. 18, 2014 – Two Department of Defense C-130 aircraft equipped with U.S. Forest Service Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems and under the command and control of U.S. Northern Command are assisting with wildfire suppression efforts in the Northwest, Great Basin, and elsewhere in the West at the request of the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

Since July 20, DoD aircraft have conducted 132 air drops and discharged more than 246,800 gallons of fire retardant.

Over the last 24 hours, officials said, DoD aircraft conducted one airdrop and discharged about 2,750 gallons of retardant on the Bald Ridge fire in Utah.

The supporting unit flying the MAFFS mission is the 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard located in Cheyenne.

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 NIFC training and certification to perform these missions each year.

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.

USS Mount Whitney Departs Theoule-Sur-Mer After Operation Dragoon Commemoration Events



By By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mike Wright, USS Mount Whitney Public Affairs

THEOULE-SUR-MER, France (NNS) -- The 6th Fleet flagship participated in the commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of Operation Dragoon, the operation which led to the liberation of southern France by Allied Forces during World War II. This year marked the fourth consecutive visit that the Mount Whitney has made to the allied nation.

During the visit, Sailors hosted ship tours, as well as an evening reception, and took part in remembrance ceremonies throughout Theoule-Sur-Mer. Georges Botella, mayor of Theoule-Sur-Mer, hosted the Mount Whitney at a formal reception at Theoule-Sur-Mer's town hall.

"It was a beautiful reception and a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Electronic Technician 3rd Class Sigui Howardmagras, who attended the event. "I really appreciated the fact that the mayor and the city of Theoule-Sur-Mer welcomed us as family and were as kind as they were."

The last event was a remembrance ceremony at the Rhone American Cemetery in Draguignan, France, home to U.S. service members that fell in World War II, many of whom died in Operation Dragoon. The Mount Whitney Color Guard participated in the ceremony.

"It was such an honor and a privilege to even be considered to be on the color guard in such an event like this," said Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Megan Greenan, a member of the Mount Whitney color guard. "Just being able to witness so many veterans in attendance at the ceremony who served my country more than 70 years ago, and knowing that I am a part of their legacy, is simply remarkable."

Mount Whitney, forward deployed to Gaeta, Italy, operates with a combined crew of U.S. Navy Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners. The civil service mariners perform navigation, deck, engineering and supply service operations, while military personnel support communications, weapons systems and security. It is one of only two seaborne Joint Command Platforms in the US Navy, both of which are forward deployed.

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.