Military News

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Spartan MPs inactivate after more than 70 years of continuous service

by John Pennell
U.S. Army Alaska Public Affairs

9/4/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaksa -- The 793d Military Police Battalion had already amassed quite a history before the unit transferred from Germany to Alaska in 2010. By the time the unit was inactivated last week, Alaska-based Soldiers had added yet another combat deployment to a lineage that reaches back to the most decisive campaign of World War II.

The 793d MP cased its colors Aug. 28 in the Buckner Physical Fitness Center, bringing to a close nearly 72 years of consecutive service to the U.S. Army and the nation since its activation at Camp Maxey, Texas, on Dec. 26, 1942.

The unit first deployed to Scotland in February 1944 for training prior to movement to France. In August 1944, the battalion conducted route-security operations on the famous Red Ball Express, a truck convoy supply operation that ran 24 hours a day from the Normandy beaches to the front lines. The operation used almost 6,000 vehicles and transported a total of 412,193 tons of supplies.

From December 1944 to June 1945, the Spartans conducted port security operations in Antwerp, Belgium, and was cited in the Order of the Day by the Belgian Army. In June 1945, the battalion was assigned port security operations in Marseilles, France, until January 1946 when it entered Germany.

The battalion was subsequently assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, and moved to Nuremberg where it conducted law and order operations as part of the occupation force and security for the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial. The 793d MP was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation-European Theater and campaign streamers for Northern France 1944 and Rhineland 1944 to 1945.

The 793d MP next deployed to Saudi Arabia in December 1990 in support of VII Corps during Operation Desert Shield/Storm. The battalion advanced into Iraq and Kuwait in February 1991 at the start of the ground offensive in support of the 1st Armored Division, 3d Armored Division, and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, where it conducted extensive enemy prisoner of war operations.

In April 1991, the battalion supervised the evacuation of thousands of refugees from Iraq to Saudi Arabia. The 793d MP was awarded a Meritorious Unit Commendation-Desert Shield/Storm and campaign streamers for Defense of Saudi Arabia, Liberation and Defense of Kuwait, and Southwest Asia Cease Fire.

In December 1995 the battalion deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of Task Force Eagle and Operation Joint Endeavor. For almost 11 months, Soldiers of the battalion performed a wide variety of missions including battlefield circulation control, area and route security operations, VIP security and critical site security. During the Bosnian national elections in September 1996, the battalion provided around- the-clock support to nearly 200 election sites and counting houses in the Tuzla Valley.

The 793d MP deployed to Kosovo from June to December 1999 in support of Task Force Falcon to implement the peace initiatives following the NATO-led air war with Yugoslavia. They established the Bondsteel Detention Facility, the first facility of its kind in Kosovo. The unit returned to Kosovo from November 2000 until May 2001. In October 2002, the battalion returned to Kosovo for a third tour and conducted operations in support of Multi-National Brigade East until August 2003.

The 793d MP deployed to Iraq in December 2004 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The battalion redeployed to its home in Bamberg, Germany, in November 2005. The unit was awarded a Meritorious Unit Commendation-Iraq and an Iraq campaign streamer.

The battalion once again deployed to Iraq from April 2008 to June 2009, where it oversaw 12 subordinate units professionalizing the Iraqi Police across seven provinces in central and southern Iraq, from Baghdad to Basra, serving under the Multi-National Division-Central, Multi-National Division-Southeast and Multi-National Division South.

After returning from deployment, the battalion moved north to Alaska in May 2010 as part of the 2d Engineer Brigade. The 793d MP deployed for the final time from October 2012 to May 2013, to Gardez, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The battalion was responsible for running Combat Outpost Justice, partnering with the Afghan zone headquarters, and overseeing the operations and logistical support for four companies across RC-E.

Of the battalion's sub-units, Headquarters Detachment, 793d MP Battalion; the 164th Military Police Company; and the 472d Military Police Company will officially inactivate Sept. 15. These units were symbolically inactivated during the battalion's ceremony. In July, the 545th Military Police Company was transferred to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, and the 28th Military Police Detachment was transferred to the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

Army Brig. Gen. Mark Spindler, commandant of the U.S. Army Military Police School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., spoke about his days commanding the 793d MP as a lieutenant colonel in Germany and described the feeling of pride of accomplishment the unit would leave as its legacy.

"This is a source of great joy, not sadness, and pride for all of us in the regiment who celebrate you," he said. "You who have been the jewel in the crown of our regiment for over 70 years. I am not articulate enough or creative enough to offer any final words to match the magnitude of this occasion, other than to say as your commandant, 'Thank you, 793d, and well done, good, and faithful servant. Well done. We will miss you.'"

Spindler also pointed out inactivation is not the end of the 793d MP.

"Rest assured, our Army again will call upon the 793d to unfurl her colors in a time of great need and great strife," Spindler said. "And when that time comes, a new generation of Spartans ... will once again fill her ranks."

1 Geronimo paratroopers train with Bangladesh Army

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

9/4/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Paratroopers with the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, were introduced to jungle warfare training as they took part in "Aurora Monsoon," the first platoon-level bilateral exchange between Soldiers of the U.S. Army and the Bangladesh Army at the Rajendrapur Cantonment Area near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Aug. 24 to 28.

Aurora Monsoon featured soldiers from both sides establishing relationships as they taught and learned each other's tactics, techniques and procedures in platoon attack, counterattack and ambush. They trained side-by-side as they maneuvered though the thick vegetation, heavy humidity, high heat and muddy terrain of the jungle environment.
The training was made as comfortable as possible by the Bangladesh soldiers of the 46th Independent Infantry Brigade as they ensured their guests were well fed and housed during the exchange. Classroom instruction preceded the actual events, so each soldier understood what they were supposed to do during the exercises.

The bilateral exercise was one the Geronimo paratroopers will not soon forget, said Spc. Anthony Davis, an infantryman with the 1-501st Infantry.

"I'm having a blast," he said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I'm excited to show my family all of the pictures I've taken over here, and what I've learned.

"It's been great for learning for both sides," Davis added. "There hasn't been a lot of pressure from anybody, and no one is getting frustrated. We all understand it's a learning experience and it's process. [Bangladesh soldiers are] willing to help us out, and we're willing to help them out, so I think that makes it a lot better."

Army Lt. Col. Tobin Magsig, the commanding officer of the 1-501st Infantry, said the exchange is important because the relationships built by his paratroopers and the soldiers of the 46th IIB will be a foundation for future bilateral exercises.

"This bilateral exchange is a tangible commitment to a lasting military partnership between our two great nations," Magsig said. "Together, we must continue to work closely to promote peace and deter aggression.

"The training that we did here was absolutely fantastic," Magsig continued. "It was a wonderful opportunity for the men of Comanche and Delaware Companies to partner, side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder, with soldiers in the Bangladesh army.

"It's been a long time since we've trained in the jungle, and it's been even longer since we've IMT'd (individual movement techniques) through rice paddies, but that's exactly what these men did. They demonstrated shared hardship and true partnership with our Bangladeshi brothers," Magsig said.

According to the command leadership team of D/1-501st Infantry, the jungle's muddy terrain and thick vegetation created unique operational challenges for the U.S. troops.
Army Capt. Bradley Benjamin, D Company commander, said, "One of the biggest pieces we are learning is how to operate in a much different environment, how to control your men and equipment in a jungle environment, and how to communicate effectively with our radios and also visual hand and arm signals."

"The placement of weapons, and the effects of weapons in a jungle is much different than many environments we train in," Benjamin added.

Delaware's first sergeant, 1st Sgt. Matthew Delisle, said, "It's a huge learning curve when you get down in the prone, and you can't see anything. If you take a knee, you can't see anything because it's all shoulder-high vegetation.

"You really have to slow down and control your men more," continued Delisle. "And the mud is definitely an obstacle."

The bilateral exchange provided soldiers from both armies insight on procedures in planning, communicating and maneuvering on the battlefield. The exchange also served as a foundation to continued interoperability between the two nations' Armed Forces.
A Bangladesh Army officer with the 46th IIB, 2nd Lt. MD Julkar Nine, said, "You have taught us how to do your enemy clearing drill, and for our case, we have taught you how to do ambush.

"It was a successful mission for us," Nine said. "That we could successfully give some idea about our views and our armies to you guys. You also passed down some knowledge to us. It was about information transfer; tactics, techniques transfer."

Nine said he really enjoyed getting to know the Americans while teaching and learning with them.

"For me, all through my life, I will carry this experience, and obviously I will pass down this experience to all my friends, so they can understand," Nine said. "They can have a better idea about American troops."

Nine said he would welcome continued bilateral training in the future, and would like to learn more about combat in urban environments, along with longer training time in the jungle.

"The American Army is very much efficient and very good in fighting in a built-up area, like house-clearing drills," Nine said. "It would be great if the American Army could teach us how to fight in a built-up area."

"Then, it would be great if we stayed together outside," Nine continued. "Like for four days or five days in the jungle. We'll make tent, or take hideout somewhere. We'll take duration or food, or MRE [meals, ready to eat], so we will get some real-time scenarios and get some real-time experience."

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Vance Meier, a squad leader with C/1-501st Infantry, said it's good to come to Bangladesh to compare doctrine.

"I am very impressed with what they have going on here," Meier said. "I always like training with foreign militaries. It helps me understand how they work. If we need to work together in the future it will be better for me as a leader, because I will know, and I will understand, and I will be able to explain to my Soldiers what's going on."

Soldiers from both sides expressed their support of future U.S. and Bangladesh bilateral exchange exercises.

Bangladesh Army Maj. Mohammed Bahalul Alam, said, "This is a globalized era, so if you want to operate your army anywhere in the world, you need to have knowledge on different armies."

"This bilateral exercise helps in many ways," Alam said. "especially in tactics, techniques and procedures. The environment, the ground configuration, and other important factors, such as the differences in Alaska and Bangladesh.

"Armies should go and work in different environments, so definitely this is very good that you [U.S. Army] are here. The initiatives you take help grow our friendship and understanding," Alam said.

Benjamin echoed Alam's thoughts, saying, "The friendship that we're developing is probably the most important piece to this whole operation. Creating that friendship and that partnership is important, because you never know where the next mission is going to be in the world.

"I see Aurora Monsoon getting much bigger in the future," Benjamin said. "Hopefully next year we can make it a little bit longer with a larger element, so instead of sending a platoon, hopefully we can get a company here and make this bilateral exercise much larger."

Benjamin said he was proud of his men and what they achieved at Aurora Monsoon.

"It's really an honor to be here," Benjamin said. "It's a great opportunity for our Soldiers, and I think the guys who came out here were the right people. The [noncommissioned officers] did a fabulous job, and all of the Soldiers who came out here represented the 4/25, [U.S. Army Alaska], [U.S. Army Pacific], and their country very well."

SMA talks professionalism, commitment with Alaska Soldiers

by Army Master Sgt. Jennifer K. Yancey
U.S. Army Alaska Public Affairs

9/4/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III visited the Last Frontier Aug. 25 to 28 to thank Soldiers, Army civilians and families of U.S. Army Alaska for their service and commitment, and to hear them voice concerns he will bring back to senior Army leadership.

Chandler traveled first to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, where he observed training and met with small groups of Soldiers at the Sgt. 1st Class Christopher R. Brevard Noncommissioned Officer Academy and the Alaska National Guard Armory. Chandler and his wife, Jeanne, engaged a larger audience from around the installation during a town hall meeting.

"Ninety-nine percent of the American population is either unwilling, or unable, to do what you've chosen to do," Chandler said. "And that is to serve your nation."

While the Army contains some phenomenal NCOs and leaders, Chandler said, he recognized the NCO Corps faces some challenges and must look inward to figure out how to make the Army even better than it is today.

One way of doing so is to actively combat the threat of sexual harassment/sexual assault, and prevent suicide within the ranks.

"Does everyone here know what 'right' is?" Chandler asked. "Everybody tells me they know what's right, but why do we still have perpetrators in our formations looking to commit crimes against their fellow Soldiers?"

The Army's top enlisted leader urged all Soldiers to look out for one another, to display courage through deeds, not words.

"It's not just wearing the uniform that makes you a Soldier," Chandler said. "It is the character demonstrated by your actions both on and off duty - by living the Army Values and aspiring to live the Warrior Ethos.

Leaders who embodied character, competence and commitment in all aspects of their lives understand what the Army profession really means.

"I will tell you, ladies and gentlemen," he added, "you are not a rat, or a narc, or a snitch, or diming someone out if you're going to stand up for your brother and sister ... If we're not, if we're just letting stuff happen, then you are not the professional you say you are."
Chandler also ventured 350 miles north to visit with Soldiers and Army civilians at Fort Wainwright and the Northern Warfare Training Center, the Army's proponent for training and surviving in harsh, Arctic conditions.

While there, Chandler also visited with the Soldiers attending the Infantry Mortar Leaders Course, and re-emphasized the importance of the profession of arms during the Fort Wainwright Town Hall.

While there is an ongoing rebalance, or "shift," to the Pacific Region, the Army remains engaged throughout the world.

"So we don't just have one focus within the Army," Chandler said. "We've got people in South America, Africa, North America and in Europe. But I think you see an increased readiness here in Alaska and also throughout the rest of the Pacific."

But with the Army undergoing a number of changes - including the current personnel drawdown and its effect on readiness - uncertainty proves to be the service's biggest challenge. Chandler cautioned that under such circumstances, it is hard to predict how the Army trains and what it trains for.

He added, however, that the Army still has a responsibility to the American people to be ready. "And they can't care less what your level of readiness is," he said. "They just want to know that if called upon, you'll get the job done."

To the Army's senior enlisted Soldier, the Army remains a phenomenal force. And he credits Alaska's Soldiers, family members and civilians for their contributions and degree of resiliency.

"This is not the easiest place to live, to work and train," Chandler said. "It takes special people who desire to do what needs to be done in order to ensure that these units in Alaska are well-trained and ready for whatever the nation asks them to do."

Take a selfie with the new Air Force Inspection System

by Air Force Lt. Col. John Krellner
3rd Wing Inspector General

9/4/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- It may not seem like it, but our next Pacific Air Forces unit evaluation inspection has already started.

You may have heard this evaluation referred to as a look into our "unit performance photo album." This is a stark contrast to those of us who remember the "snapshot" of performance garnered by the operational readiness inspections of years past. This is really important for all Airmen to understand, because the chief of staff of the Air Force and the secretary of the Air Force have entrusted us with certifying our own ability to execute the mission. Let me explain how this works.

The new Air Force Inspection System relies on every Airman to continuously innovate, critically self-assess, report, and fix non-compliance as part of the commanders inspection program. The work we are doing today to lead, innovate, document deficiencies, and manage resources will represent the front cover of our 2016 UEI photo album. During the UEI, PACAF will simply validate and verify we effectively self-inspected and reported during the two previous years.

I see Airmen innovating, finding and fixing problems every day. However, if we fail to go the extra mile to document our innovation, shortfalls and fixes in Management Internal Control Toolset or the Inspector General Evaluation Management System, then our 2016 UEI photo album will contain a very blurry picture of how we executed the mission during these next two years.

What can you do? Focus on your job and your part of the mission; follow your technical orders and Air Force instructions. Highlight problems instead of hiding them. Be empowered to think and innovate. Embrace the mentality that identifying deficiencies is a strength, not a weakness.

Finally, when you correct problems or develop best practices; take the final step to ensure it is documented in MICT/IGEMS. Take a selfie, and put it in our wing photo album. If you make critical self-assessment and reporting part of your normal battle-rhythm, then you will find that a UEI will come and go with little additional effort. If you do not know how to report deficiencies, talk to your supervisor, wing inspection team representative or self-assessment program manager.

What is your wing IG inspection team going to do? During daily mission execution (deployments, Red Flag etc...), we will be there to help facilitate your self-reporting in MICT and IGEMS. When real-world missions do not test our full capabilities - the IG will organize exercises specifically tailored to help you self-assess those areas where you were unable to assess during daily training and mission execution.

The AFIS and UEI are great in that they discourage behavior like painting the grass green (ask someone who was around to see the old ORIs if you don't know what this means).

However, the strength and weakness of the AFIS lies with you. The AFIS needs every Airman to be a sensor and innovator. Be proud of what you do and make sure your selfies get included in our 2016 UEI photo album.

Airmen need to be aware of medical screening for PCS

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera
JBER Public Affairs

9/4/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Getting notified of a permanent change of station can be daunting for any Airman. There are steps, suspense dates and appointments, which need to be done to get orders.

Before receiving PCS orders, Airmen and their families must accomplish these steps and one of them is the medical clearance. Medical screening and clearance are requirements for all PCS processing.

"PCS orders cannot be submitted to Air Force Personnel Center until the member and dependents have been medically cleared for assignment," said Suzanne Crossen, 673d Force Support Squadron outbound assignments chief.

Airman 1st Class Victoria Adewusi, 673d Medical Support Squadron admissions, stressed the importance of accomplishing the overseas medical clearance.

"It's an important step to ensure that the medical, mental, and educational needs of the dependents are met whenever they PCS stateside or overseas," said the Lagos, Nigeria, native. "Without accomplishing this, the sponsor wouldn't receive his or her orders in a timely manner."

When the task is not completed on time, it creates significant delays for the service members and families, which can make the PCS [overseas or CONUS] process more frustrating that it needs to be.

If an issue arises during the process or an assignment gets cancelled, the sponsor would have enough time to redo the process before his or her date eligible for return from overseas.

The admissions office, which handles up to 50 clearances a month during PCS season, can take up to two months to process a request. They recommend members be proactive with their medical clearance. In order to get medically cleared, dependents need to have a DD Form 2792 [Family Member Medical Summary] completed by their primary care manager, Form DD 1466D [Dental Health Summary] completed by their dentist for individuals age two and up and DD Form 2792-1 [Special Education/Early Intervention Summary] completed by the school for school-aged children.

The sponsor must also fill out the AF Form 1466 [Request for Family Member's Medical and Education Clearance for Travel].

"Once all the forms are completed, they need to be brought to us," Adewusi said. "An appointment will be made for the dependents to speak with a medical review officer and a special needs coordinator."

In some cases, dependents going stateside also have to be medically cleared if they are enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program.

When a sponsor is coded with a "Q," the sponsor has dependent(s) who need to be medically cleared whenever they are due to PCS, stateside or overseas.

"These are people who have been identified as needing to see a specialist or have chronic medical, mental or educational conditions," Adewusi said. "That way, they are assured that their needs will be met at their next base."

Adewusi added, "If there are issues identified, the medical clearance forms will need to be sent to the gaining military treatment facility for approval."

People are usually leery about completing the medical clearance because of the possibility of having their assignment denied.

"Dependents are usually denied if there are limited or no resources in the MTF or in the local area that the dependents need," Adewusi said. "Although the service might be available in the area, it may not be TRICARE approved, or exceed the travel area TRICARE would reimburse or cover."

"If the member has not been cleared, we will work with AFPC to load the member with a new assignment," Crossen said. "If the dependents have not been cleared, the sponsor will need to request an EFMP re-assignment through the virtual military personnel flight."

EFMP assignments can take six weeks or more to process, according to Crossen. However, if a sponsor receives a new EFMP assignment, they no longer need to do another medical clearance.

Another option, besides requesting an EFMP reassignment, is filing an appeal to the admissions office by providing documentation that the needs of the dependent can be met at the gaining base. Once the appeal paperwork has been received, the admissions office will send it to the gaining base, which will make the final determination.

In an effort to better accommodate and assist service members and their dependents, the Air Force wants to ensure all personal and professional needs are fulfilled during the PCS process. By doing so, the Air Force can alleviate stress and concern on the parts of service members and their families, Adewusi said.

Field training benefits Boy Scouts, Kentucky Air Guard civil engineers

by Master Sgt. Phil Speck
123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office

8/28/2014 - LOUISVILLE, Ky.  -- Civil engineers from the Kentucky Air National Guard spent part of their summer giving back to the community while accomplishing valuable annual training, renovating a Boy Scout camp in rural Maine.

About 30 Airmen from the 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron from Kentucky Air National Guard Base, based in Louisville, joined with 18 Airmen from the Tennessee Air Guard's 118th Civil Engineer Squadron and 20 Marine Corps Reservists to build cabins, install equipment and improve roads at Camp William Hinds in Raymond, Maine, as part of a Department of Defense program called Individual Readiness Training.

The training, which took place during two weeks in June, provided an outstanding opportunity to do something valuable for the civilian community while enhancing war-time readiness skills in civil engineering, said Chief Master Sgt. Marty Fautz, chief enlisted manager for the 123rd CES.

"Every career field had work," Fautz said. "The overall quality of the training was the biggest accomplishment. We got a lot of hands-on training for all of our [career fields] that the guys can't get back home. Some of the guys haven't touched the equipment we used since technical school, so it was a good two weeks for those guys."

The Scouts supplied building materials and equipment rentals, paid for with private fund-raisers, while the Air Guard and Marine troops provided labor that matched with their unique areas of expertise. Plumbers, carpenters, electricians, power production specialists, heavy equipment operators and civil engineers all helped in the renovations, Fautz said.

The Airmen installed a zip line, graded roads, built cabins and renovated a dormitory building for Scouts and Scout Masters. Air Guard surveyors also worked extensively with the Marines, establishing plots for a shooting range by moving dirt and cutting into a hillside.

Fautz said mission was an especially rewarding one.

"When you talked to the civilians there that run the program, you could see how wrapped up they were with the Scouts, and how important and meaningful it was to do these upgrades for the benefit of the Scouts coming in," he said. "There were no big roadblocks, the equipment was there, the supplies were there, the manpower was there ... we just had to cut the guys loose and let them go to work. When we left, everyone felt good about what they did and the training they got. It was a great trip."

Lt. Col. Phil Howard, commander of the 123rd CES, explained that a lot of summer IRTs come with a checklist of items that have to be accomplished on a tight schedule, but this one provided enough time to work at a measured pace.

"This allowed the guys to slow down and actually train some of the younger troops," he said. "Give them a hammer, in other words, rather than have the supervisors work on it because they have to get it done. So it was really an excellent training opportunity and one of the best [IRT missions] I've been on."

Ramstein welcomes partners for NATO exercise

by Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

9/3/2014 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- The 86th Airlift Wing opened its flightline to Air National Guard C-130 Hercules' from six states and U.S. Transportation Command C-17 Globemaster IIIs Aug. 31, to support an international, Allied exercise.

Exercise Steadfast Javelin II features a number of dynamic events designed to challenge multi-national forces in airborne operations, conventional warfare scenarios as well stability and defensive operations, and support of civil authorities operations.

A few of Ramstein's own C-130J Super Hercules' aircraft will take part in the exercise by facilitating personnel and equipment air drops in support of airfield seizure to reinforce the U.S. commitment to the peace and security of Europe.

"We're really excited to be working with our Army brothers and Allied partners during this exercise," said Capt. Scott Vander Ploeg, 37th Airlift Squadron flight commander and C-130J instructor pilot. "It is also important to recognize our gracious German hosts; it is because of their support that we are able to practice our multi-national, strategic airlift capabilities here at Ramstein."

The exercise features participation from 16 different nations, with more than 5,800 personnel. Steadfast Javelin II is designed to prepare U.S. and multi-national service members for decisive and sustainable land operations through simultaneous combination of offensive, defensive and stability operations and on interoperability with partner nations.

Multinational partners participating in this exercise include the following NATO allies: Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, United Kingdom, and the United States; and the following NATO Partnership for Peace nations: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Sweden.

The exercise will continue until Sept. 11.

Pentagon Notes ‘Exceptionally Capable’ Russian Force

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

WASHINGTON, Sept. 4, 2014 – The Russian troops amassed along the Ukrainian border have evolved to an exceptionally capable force, Defense Department spokesman Army Col. Steven Warren told Pentagon reporters today.

While NATO estimates the number of Russian troops inside Ukraine number between 1,000 and 2,000, a significantly larger force is massed at the Russia-Ukraine border, Warren said.

“We are continuing to say [there are] more than 10,000 Russian personnel along the border,” he said. “What I will say is that the force that we see [already] along the border is exceptionally capable,” adding that it’s probably more capable and more lethal than it was before.

Combined arms Russian force

“This is a combined arms force,” the colonel said. “It includes land power, indirect fire [and] air defense. It is a capable combined arms force that we remain very concerned about.” It is organized with ground forces, the colonel said, and there are higher concentrations of field artillery, air defense and rockets, along with enablers such as engineers, logistics and combat service support

Warren noted the buildup of the Russian forces on the border has occurred over time and is an “evolution.”

The Defense Department continues to provide assistance to Ukraine in the form of nonlethal aid, Warren said.

De-escalate the situation

“The whole idea is to de-escalate [the situation],” he added, “so we’re very sensitive to providing things that will cause an escalation. We’ve been looking at it very seriously, and the decision now is to focus on non-lethal aid.”

Warren said Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, commander of U.S. European Command, and NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, also has expressed his concern. “And I know General Breedlove was out earlier this morning, in fact, also talking about this and discussing the fact that several nations, individually and bilaterally, are in discussions with the Ukrainians as well as NATO as a whole,” Warren added.

NATO heads of state began an alliance summit meeting today in Wales.

NATO dialogue

Russia’s actions, Warren said, have forced an increased dialogue on the financial contributions of all of the NATO nations.

“We’re seeing that in everyone’s public discussions from all of our senior leaders that actions out of Russia … are cause for all of the NATO member states to take a close look at their contributions to defense,” he said. “This is the purpose of these summits -- to work through these kinds of issues. There’s no question the Europeans are acutely aware of Russian actions in their back yard.”

ASU ROTC cadet is top in nation

by 1st Lt. Nathaniel Roesler
17th Training Wing Public Affairs

9/3/2014 - SAN ANGELO, Texas -- The Air Force Association named Cadet Dylan J. Meador of Angelo State University's Air Force Reserve Officers' Training Corps Detachment 847 the Outstanding ROTC Cadet of the Year for 2014.

The AFA annually chooses one cadet from 13,400 nationally, based on academic achievement, physical excellence and military performance.

Detachment 847 selected Meador as the top ROTC student and put him up against the best cadets from the Southwest region, comprising of 36 schools. Once he won the regional award, he was compared to the best from the entire country and was selected as the top cadet.

Meador will attend an awards ceremony hosted by the AFA in National Harbor, Maryland Sept. 15th. The AFA is a nonprofit, independent professional military and aerospace education organization, according to their website,

Meador sees this honor as a team effort.

"The detachment itself has an atmosphere that inspires people to go above and beyond," said Meador. "I had great mentoring from upperclassmen who set me up for success by challenging me constantly and continually pushing me out of my comfort zone."

Col. Jeffrey F. Staha, Southwest Region ROTC commander, agrees that Detachment 847 at Angelo State had a big impact on Meador being named cadet of the year.

"By his achievements and actions, Cadet Meador exemplifies excellence in every aspect of his academic and cadet life," said Staha. "He models the behaviors we want in our officers, and he has learned this at Detachment 847."

The award-winning cadet is also a leader in his home detachment.

"He's always been a go-to cadet," said Lt. Col. Pedro E. Matos, ASU Air Force ROTC Detachment 847 commander. "Cadet Meador's also a team player that younger cadets look up to."

Meador has been selected to attend pilot training after graduation and already has his private pilot's license. He hasn't been assigned a location, but he knows which state he'd like to train in.

"There are a few bases for pilot training, and I'd like to go to one of the bases in Texas," said Meador.

AFMOA welcomes new commander

by Staff Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla
59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

9/3/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas  -- Col. Lee E. Payne assumed command of the Air Force Medical Operations Agency from Brig. Gen. Sean L. Murphy during a ceremony at nearby Port San Antonio Aug. 29.

Lt. Gen. Thomas W. Travis, Air Force Surgeon General, presided over the ceremony.

Payne takes charge of the agency responsible for executing Air Force Surgeon General policies, which support expeditionary capabilities, health care operations and national security strategies across 75 military treatment facilities worldwide. AFMOA's reach affects 40,000 medical Airmen in support of approximately 2.6 million beneficiaries.

"This is so important to the Air Force," said Travis. "What happens here in AFMOA affects Air Force medicine worldwide."

Travis spoke of the vital role Murphy played in establishing the AFMOA six years ago, hailing him as the architect of the organization strategy. He also noted how instrumental the AFMOA has been to health care operations and to the overall readiness mission.

"There are a number of things that [Murphy] has been involved with that have made a deep imprint and a lasting impact on Air Force Medicine," Travis said.

After reflecting on both the outgoing and incoming commanders' careers, Travis highlighted parallels between the two and expressed confidence in Payne's ability to lead AFMOA.

"We've chosen very well the next AFMOA commander to follow General Murphy, and that's Col. Lee Payne," he said.

Prior to being chosen to lead the AFMOA, Payne served as the Deputy Assistant Surgeon General for Health Care Operations where he was responsible for executing health care policy.

Payne, who was promoted to brigadier general later that afternoon, expressed his gratitude for taking command and spoke directly to the men and women of the AFMOA.

"I'm honored to be the next AFMOA commander," Payne said. "To team AFMOA, I know these are difficult times and challenging times but from experience, I can tell you that every time faces a unique obstacle. It's just when we're going through it, it seems like the most difficult and the most challenging. I really look forward working with you as we tackle those obstacles."

Koats for Kids 2014

by Airman 1st Class Tammie Ramsouer
JBER Public Affairs

9/4/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Snow falls on a cold Alaska day as children make snow angels and snowmen in their warm winter jackets, hats and gloves, but one child has a difficult time getting his old winter gear on; it's too small. Fortunately, there's a good way to get the right size--and help others in the process.

The Army Community Service Center offers the "Koats for Kids" program to military members and their families in need of winter clothing, such as jackets, hats, gloves and boots--anything that can be used during the winter.

"This program has been offered to all military members and their families for about ten years now on the installation," said Anthea Acosta, Army Community Service Center relocation readiness program manager. "We receive anywhere from infant to adult winter clothing in our donation boxes, so even single service members can use the program if they need it."

The program collects any winter clothing items in good condition Sept. 2 through Oct. 3. The Army Community Service Center encourages everyone to go through their closets and find any unneeded winter items to donate.

"This program is used for the families that really can't afford to buy their children new winter clothing," Acosta said. "They could be a high-ranking individual but they might have financial difficulties and can't provide for their family."

Donation boxes are placed throughout the installation for people to donate while they shop or when they drop their child off at a child development center.

"We place donation boxes at the Joint Military Mall, Building 600, the Military and Family Support Center, Talkeetna Child Development Center and the Illa School Age Program Building," Acosta said.

Items donated are picked up every other day by the volunteers from the Army Community Service Center.

"Sometimes we have to go pick up the donated items every day because our boxes get so full, so fast," Acosta said. "The box in the CDC is always the most popular donation box, because parents are always cleaning out their closets; I will get a call from their front desk to come pick up the items."

After donations are picked up they are sorted by size and type of clothing for distribution at a later date.

"We don't mind if people want to exchange for other items while they are donating at the boxes, it is all free and going to a good cause," Acosta said. "I have children, and I know it is hard trying to save money when they need new winter gear."

"Here at the Talkeetna Child Development Center we have parents that donate to the 'Koats for Kids' and we have parents that definitely need it," said Lisa Aguilar, 673d Force Support Squadron education and training technician at the Talkeetna CDC. "If we can help them, why not donate our extra winter gear that we know will not be used and give it to someone who can use it?"

The Army Community Service Center will distribute the items from Sept. 17 through Oct. 15 at Building 600.

"I will be putting the clothing out on the tables every day until we run out," Acosta said. "No volunteers will be watching the distribution tables, but we do ask that people only take what they need so another [person] in need can have an opportunity to provide for their family as well."

"I hope this program keeps going, because people on base do use it and it is very beneficial to the families that do need it," Aguilar said.

Breedlove Discusses NATO’s Military, Political Moves

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 4, 2014 – NATO is both a military and political alliance, and this has a bearing on how member countries deal with Russia, Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove told National Public Radio today.

NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe spoke to “Morning Edition” via telephone during the first day of NATO’s summit in Wales. He said Russia’s annexation of Crimea and operations inside eastern Ukraine have put the goal of a peaceful, free Europe at risk.

“We’ve always worked for a Europe free and a Europe that is able to choose its own destiny and a Europe that is wide open for all to participate in trade, economics, etc.,” the general said. “And what we see in what’s happened recently in Ukraine is what we thought would never happen again.”

Russia amassed a military force on its recognized border with Ukraine, crossed that border “and annexed, at the point of a gun, a portion of another sovereign nation,” Breedlove said. “We thought this kind of thing was over in Europe. And so, NATO now has to consider what does this mean.”

NATO nations respond

Noting that NATO is both a political and a military alliance, Breedlove said NATO nations are making political moves to counter Russia’s aggression while ensuring that the defensive portion of the alliance is robust.

“I think what you will see from the summit is that NATO, among other European nations, will begin to take even more strident measures if we continue to see the overt Russian business being done inside a sovereign Ukraine nation,” he said.

NATO has made moves to reassure allies who once were in the orbit of the Soviet Union and who have no desire to be under the Russian heel again. These short-term measures -- more planes patrolling, more ground exercises, more ships -- will remain in place until they are no longer needed, the general said. “I fully expect that we’ll be tasked today or tomorrow to extend those assurance measures until we come to those long-term adaptions that will be discussed as a part of the readiness action plan here by our senior-most leaders,” he added.

The readiness action plan will look at options for forward-based forces on a rotational, persistent basis, he said.