Military News

Monday, September 08, 2014

KRO Program Active at Osan

51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/7/2014 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The first rounds of service members are graduating from the new Korean Readiness Orientation program here.

The new policy, enacted July 1 by Lt. Gen. Marc Jouas, 7th Air Force commander, requires all active duty Airmen assigned to or attached for duty to 7th AF to complete a number of activities within their first 30 days on station.

The new policy is about maintaining readiness through knowledge of the operational mission on the Korean peninsula, said Jouas in a 7th Air Force press release.

"Airmen must understand the threat when they come here," said Jouas. "We have a serious mission with a serious enemy, and we must be ready to contend with that by utilizing personal resiliency and a readiness orientation program."

In addition to arming newcomers with the knowledge of why they are here, the program also intends to inspire Airmen to build on their long-standing partnership with the Republic of Korea through respect and understanding of their host nation's history.

Airman 1st Class Iris Claudio, 51st FW executive administrator, arrived here July 18, said she benefited from the KRO.

"I think it's a good program," said Claudio. "I think hearing the (51st FW) Commander speak firsthand about what we do gave me a better understanding of what we're here for."

Additionally, Claudio said the program gave her the opportunity to network and make friends.

"I've been out in town, gone on a lot of hikes and met a lot of people," she said. "There are a lot of things to do here other than going out and partying."


The KRO prescribes conditions for all 7th AF personnel to follow in their first 30 days on station such as receiving a 7th AF classified mission brief, issued all wartime gear, trained on their wartime role, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response training, alcohol awareness and accountability training and getting a formal feedback by their supervisor. While in the KRO program, personnel are also restricted from purchasing or consuming alcohol. Furthermore, all 51st Fighter Wing personnel, E4 and below, must develop a "51st Fighter Wing Flightplan," or goals worksheet (optional for others), detailing their goals while stationed here. Members in the KRO program must also observe an adjusted curfew from 10 p.m. - 5 a.m., instead of the standard 7th AF curfew of 1 a.m. - 5 a.m.

Staff Sgt. Joel Gardner, a 51st Comptroller Squadron budget analyst, said it was harder staying in with the adjusted curfew while all of his friends were out, but he used the time to play sports.

"It wasn't really that bad," he said. "I was fine and got through because I had basketball and movies on the weekends. Other squadron events, like going aways, made the time go by fast."

Gardner also said the briefings he had to attend during the orientation helped him understand the base's mission, in a broad sense, better.


Above all, the program is about maintaining readiness and changing the culture of an assignment in Korea.

"I believe that Team Osan and quite honestly most military personnel in Korea understand that it's time for us to change our legacy perception of what an assignment to Korea holds," said Chief Master Sgt. Terrence Greene, in a July 4 interview with the 7th AF newspaper, the Crimson Sky. "It's time we as U.S. military catch up to the changed Korean landscape and let go of those out-of-date beliefs from years ago. We will need continued bold leadership and strong policies at all levels to reinforce these changes as we turn the tide."

U.S., Nepal celebrate PACANGEL opening ceremony

Pacific Angel - Nepal Public Affairs

9/8/2014 - CHITWAN, Nepal -- Nearly 700 local men, women and children lined up outside the gates of Shree Rastriya Rotary Secondary School in Manahari for day one of Operation Pacific Angel - Nepal.

U.S. and Nepalese service members came together alongside regional partners to celebrate the opening ceremony, which featured a traditional Nepalese lamp lighting and ribbon cutting that was presided over by Nepal Army Maj. Gen. Baldev Mahat.

"I want to thank everyone for their selfless service to the people of Nepal," Mahat said.
This year, the U.S. and Nepal will conduct humanitarian assistance capacity building operations Sept. 8-13 in the various areas of the Chitwan region.

In 2012, more than 4,000 local villagers in Pokhara, Nepal were given medical care in general medicine, optometry, dentistry, physical therapy, women's health and pediatrics.

"We share a deep bond with our brothers and sisters here in Nepal," said Lt. Col. Marc Martinez, Operation Pacific Angel - Nepal mission commander. "It is a tremendous honor and privilege to be invited to work hand in hand with our Nepalese counterparts."

Air Force revamps AEF

Air Force Public Affairs Agency OL-P

9/8/2014 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force will deploy Agile Combat Support Airmen under its redesigned air expeditionary force construct October 1.

The primary purpose of the redesign was to look at ways to deploy more ACS Airmen with their units and standardize dwell times across the Air Force as much as possible to present a consistent Air Force capacity to the warfighter.

While the construct was approved in April 2013 by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, the first deployments under this construct will be October 2014. Under the revised AEF construct, installations will deploy larger numbers of Airmen from the same unit under a 1:2 deploy-to-dwell ratio for active component, ACS Airmen. The revised construct establishes an 18-month battle rhythm where an Airman may deploy for six months and be home for 12. This will allow wings to more effectively posture their forces to meet global mission requirements as well as continue home station training.

In the past, Airmen deployed as individuals or small elements via "tempo bands" based on their Air Force specialty codes. Those Airmen met downrange from bases across the Air Force.

"Our Airmen have performed superbly in their individual deployments under the current AEF structure for the last 11 years," Welsh said. "This new construct will facilitate even better teamwork and unit performance during deployed operations. I visited a deployed squadron last year that was manned by 81 Airmen from 41 different bases! While we've proven we can be successful with that approach, we believe the new AEF model is a more efficient way to get the job done."

While there are some other subtle changes, the most noticeable change to ACS Airmen will be a stabilized battle rhythm at 1:2 deploy-to-dwell ratio. Some Airmen will see this battle rhythm as an increase in their deployment vulnerability. Requirements for most skill sets have remained constant. However, those who deployed less frequently may be more vulnerable. Not all Airmen will be selected for deployment in their vulnerability window.

Air Force leadership has worked very hard to secure 1:2 as the standard battle rhythm therefore reducing the number of Airmen who will deploy at rates greater than 1:2. While this is the goal, there may still be some high-demand specialties that may deploy under a different scheduling construct.

"Previously, Air Force specialty codes played a large role in determining an Airman's battle rhythm and deployment location; the redesign focuses on aligning Airmen to deploy with their unit," said Col. Stephen Hart, the Chief of War Planning and Policy Division. "Deploying with members of their own unit increases continuity of work, allows our junior Airmen to deploy with their supervisor, trainers, and enhances the skills and management of wing missions."

According to Hart, there are benefits to the Airmen and to the service, as it allows the Air Force to better understand its available capacity and it allows Airmen to have a better idea of when they will be deploying within the given year.

For Airmen maintaining expeditionary readiness, it's "business as usual." Airmen should continue preparing themselves and their families for the reality of deployment, and ensure they are ready to go when called.

For more information on AEF battle rhythm and individual base dwell times, Airmen should contact their local unit deployment manager or base deployment manager.

(Senior Airman Jason J. Brown, 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs, contributed to this article.)

Mauritania hosts U.S. Airmen, leads multi-national event

by Master Sgt. Brian M. Boisvert
AFAFRICOM Mauritania


9/2/2014 - ATAR, Mauritania  -- A total of 17 U.S. Air Forces Africa and Air Mobility Command Airmen arrived here Aug. 25 to 30 to participate in African Partnership Flight, co-hosted by the Mauritanian government and the U.S. Air Force.

This event involves Airmen from the U.S. and six African countries including, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal and Tunisia.

"This event is designed to give our African partners the ability to increase the effectiveness of their aviation capabilities and provide mutual support for each other in air operations," said, U.S. Air Force Maj. Hartmut Casson, APF Mauritania mission commander.

APF is a security cooperation engagement in which African air forces build aviation capacity, enhance regional cooperation and increase interoperability.

This is the third APF event this year, following similar events in Senegal and Angola. This is an essential engagement event for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, whose involvement on the continent is centered on building partnerships and advancing African airpower.

APF Mauritania will include classroom discussions and hands-on learning in Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance mission planning, air operation fundamentals, and flight and ground safety. Sharing techniques and information is vital to building and maintaining successful partnerships in Africa.

Following the two-day classroom events, the airmen will participate in a capstone event. This is a field exercise where participants will have an opportunity to apply the knowledge gained during classroom discussions.

Senior Master Sgt. Philip Leonard, APF Mauritania team sergeant said, "A safe, stable and secure Africa is a combined goal for all the participating African partner nations and the U.S., and this APF is designed to provide the tools required to meet that goal."

"APF Mauritania demonstrates both the capability and promise of forming global partnerships," said Casson.

Airmen operate America's fortress: Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station

by Staff Sgt. Jarrod Chavana
3d Combat Camera Squadron


9/8/2014 - CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. -- Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, also known as America's Fortress, is portrayed in movies, books and documentaries as a top-secret base similar to that of Area 51.

Built during the Cold War and housed 2,000 feet within a granite mountain, the Cheyenne Mountain Complex provides a survivable, reliable and secure complex, providing missile and air warning, space situational awareness, command and control and cyber capabilities to defend North America in direct support of North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Strategic Command and Air Force Space Command. NORAD is a combined command with operations conducted in partnership with the Canadian armed forces since the facility was established.

A small city lies behind the two 25-ton and one 17-ton blast doors that protect the more than 500 military and civilians performing the critical missions conducted within AFSPC's 721st Mission Support Group's granite facility.

When the blast doors close, the AFSPC installation becomes a self-sustaining city; with the 721st Security Forces Squadron, 721st Communications Squadron and 721st Civil Engineering Squadron among other tenant units and facilities.

"Cheyenne Mountain is more unique than most bases being we are within a mountain," said Senior Airman Zachary Castillo, 721st Security Forces Squadron member. "It's amazing to be a part of what the Air Force does here every day."

The 721st Mission Support Group operates, maintains, secures, sustains, mobilizes, tests, and controls the worldwide warning and surveillance system for North America, normally referred to as the Integrated Tactical Warning and Attack Assessment weapon system.

"It's our job to ensure constant data flow for the strategic warning system for NORAD, U.S. STRATCOM and AFSPC," said 2nd Lt. Rachel James, 721st CS crew commander. "We tie into the AFSPC mission, as they own the assets that we monitor."

"We are constantly looking at computer screens to monitor circuits, switches and where this information is going to transverse," she added. "Missile events occur and launches occur and it really is the (potential) nuclear aspect of it, which forces us to be tucked away in a mountain with blast doors. This information is critical for our forward users as they need to know when they are happening and exactly what type of event it is."

Customers of this unique capability include military service components, the Secretary of Defense and the President.

The excavation of Cheyenne Mountain began in 1961 using a then-revolutionary technique called "smooth-wall blasting." Miners completed the excavation in 367 days. The project used nearly 1.5 million pounds of explosives, provided by the Canadian government. The explosives produced more than 460,000 cubic yards of debris and opened approximately five acres within the mountain.

Critical to daily operations facility operations are engineers like, Roy Audibert, 721st CES electronic industrial controls mechanic lead, who is part of the central control center team. His team of engineers are the lifeline for the complex responsible for power, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, generators and water. "If we don't do what we're supposed to do, then nothing can happen in the complex," said Audibert.

The 15 buildings within the mountain sit upon more than 1,300 springs, which weigh more than 1,000 pounds each and serve as giant shock absorbers to insulate the buildings from nuclear blast or earthquake damage. This is just one of the many safety mechanisms built into the base.

"The central control center basically controls all aspects of the life within the mountain," he said. "It's a point-and-click system, where we can pull up any room or system we want and trouble shoot it from here."

Each of the six generators within the complex provide more than 1,700 kilowatts of energy -- enough power to sustain about 5,000 homes. There are multiple redundancies built into all critical systems to ensure 99.999 percent reliability to support its critical missions.

As an underground complex with industrial hazards and critical national defense missions, it is essential for Cheyenne Mountain to have a dedicated fire department.
"This is a subterranean complex with industrial and administrative spaces and it has the potential to turn into one large confined space," said Chris Soliz, CMAFS Fire and Emergency Services assistant chief. "With office buildings and industrial hazards underground with critical mission systems and people, it's our job to resolve any issues as fast as we can."

Not only does the department have the ability to fight fires, but they are also qualified to perform technical high-angle rescues, essential to safely operating within the mountain.
Due to the sheer size of the complex, the fire and emergency services practice repelling to maintain rescue skills unique to the vast complex.

"For Cheyenne Mountain to work, it takes multiple teams operating together to ensure mission success," Col. Travis Harsha, 721st Mission Support Group commander. "Without security, power and emergency services, AFSPC's Integrated Tactical Warning and Attack Assessment Weapons System would be unable to provide strategic and theater commanders with timely and accurate information critical to national defense.

"Like the granite it's housed in, America's Fortress stands survivable, reliable and secure to defend North America," said Harsha.

Old plane, new part

by Airman 1st Class Tori Schultz
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


9/5/2014 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- For over 50 years, the KC-135 Stratotanker has been an integral part of the world-wide aerial refueling mission...but from time to time, this aging airframe needs minor touch-ups.

Recently, MacDill was selected as a pilot base for a new replacement part called the Improved Nose Wheel Snubber Brake.

The KC-135 uses a snubber brake system to eliminate noise and vibration when the nose landing gear is retracted, which currently cost the Air Force $350,000 in parts and labor every year on average.

Throughout the years, the brake arms have experienced fatigue cracks around the mounting holes due to the limited surface area needed for stress distribution. Subsequently, this part is typically replaced every seven years due to the deficiency.

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/Legacy Tanker Division designed the Improved Nose Wheel Snubber Brake to address this deficiency by making the mounting portion of the spring arm thicker and wider.

To coincide with the replacement, the Air Mobility Command Test and Evaluation Squadron constructed a two phase Logistics Service Test, which evaluates the operational effectiveness and suitability of the INWSB.

The first phase, which occurred in August, consisted of the 6th MXG personnel installing one set of INSWB arms. Phase two will consist of normal aircraft operations with routine inspections for a period of six months to include no less than 50 sorties. At the end of the testing period, the INWSB arms will be removed and receive a thorough product quality inspection.

With the success of this part the Air Force could potential save  $330,000 per year, per aircraft and remove certain inspections entirely.

Pope parachute team finishes third at Leapfest

by Marvin Krause
43rd Airlift Group Public Affairs


9/3/2014 - POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Four Airmen from the 18th Air Support Operations Group finished third place last month during the Rhode Island National Guard's annual Leapfest competition held at West Kingston, Rhode Island.

This year's event held Aug. 2-4, consisted of 57 teams from the U.S. and international militaries that included participants from the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Netherlands and Italy.

Competing from Pope were Master Sgt. Troy Misiak, Tech. Sgt. Christopher Allen, Staff Sgt. Cassandra Napolitano-Ramero, combat weathermen assigned to the 18th Weather Squadron, and Master Sgt. Warren Williams, a Tactical Air Control Party Airman, assigned to the 18th Air Support Operations Group.

"This was a great opportunity to strengthen the camaraderie between airborne brothers from allied nations in a competitive environment and being able to finish in the top three in such an experienced group of paratroopers really instills a sense of pride," said Master Sgt. Troy Misiak, team captain from the 18th Weather Squadron. "Most people always think Army when you speak of airborne forces but for an Air Force team to finish this high in an international competition speaks to the competence and skill of my team members. I couldn't be more proud of their accomplishment," he said.

This year's competition additionally commemorated the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy, when allied forces invaded German-occupied France during World War II. Organizers held a wreath-laying ceremony to honor all allied paratroopers and honored a distinguished guest during the event, World War II paratrooper and 82nd Airborne Division veteran Robert "Ozzie" Osborne.

Since 1982, Leapfest is the largest and longest-standing, international static line parachute-training event, where paratroopers from around the world compete in both individual and team timed events. The competition highlights accuracy in airborne operations with jumpers exiting from CH-47 Chinook helicopters at 1,500 feet using MC-6 static line, steerable, parabolic parachutes, trying to land as close as possible to a designated target within a landing zone. Upon landing and completing a parachute-landing fall, judges time participants until they reach a designated area.

This is both an individual and team event. Each jumper must complete two jumps to be qualified for an individual award, and each team must complete eight jumps in total to be qualified for the team award.

"I was grateful that I would be able to represent my unit and compete against the other U.S. and international teams," said Master Sgt. Warren Williams, a JTAC assigned to the 18th Air Support Operations Group. "This is the first time I competed at Leapfest and winning third place was a nice surprise," He said.

Airmen sharpen skills during Eagle Flag 14-3, 14-4

by Staff Sgt. Gustavo Gonzalez
621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs


8/27/2014 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- For the second time this year, the 621st Contingency Response Wing completed Eagle Flag at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station here, Aug. 11-22.

More than 200 621st CRW Airmen and 47 Soldiers from the 689th Rapid Port Opening Element (RPOE) from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, participated in the two-week long exercise that tested their ability to work along-side each other as a Joint Task Force-Port Opening (JTF-PO) team. The JTF-PO specializes in establishing hubs for cargo distribution operations worldwide, to include remote or damaged locations, on short notice.

During week one of Eagle Flag, the 818th Contingency Response Group stationed here, worked with the 689th RPOE, while in week two, the exercise scenario restarted but this time the RPOE teamed up with the 571st Contingency Response Group from Travis Air Force Base, California.

"First, a big congrats for completing another successful Eagle Flag exercise," said Maj. Nicholas Carden, 818 Global Mobility Readiness Squadron operations officer and Eagle Flag lead planner. "A sincere thanks for the hard work and continued dedication to excellence."

In this fictional scenario, the JTF-PO were deployed to the Republic of Dakaar, in support of Operation Stealth Eagle, a United Nations directed stability and humanitarian relief operation. The exercise keeps all scenarios as realistic as possible to help the Airmen and Soldiers prepare for almost any circumstance they may face during a real-world JTF-PO deployment.

"I think the exercise scenarios are pretty close to what we might face in a real JTF-PO deployment," said Senior Master Sgt. Rich Holbert, aircraft maintenance superintendent assigned to the 621st CRW. "It's stressful at times but that's just what we need to make sure that we are ready for the real thing and for our leadership to know that we can get the job done if we're called upon."

On day five, the Airmen and Soldiers were debriefed where the participants were briefed their strengths and weaknesses observed during the exercise. According to Col. Bradley Johnson, 571st CRG commander, they met their main objective.

"Our Airmen and Soldiers were able to work together as a JTF-PO," Johnson said. "Our professionalism and attitude demonstrated that we can get the mission done with anyone, anytime and anywhere!"

AFRL internship program inspires innovation, service

by Derek Hardin
Air Force Research Laboratory Headquarters


8/27/2014 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- An honors student/student body president, a Ph.D. student at the University of California-Berkeley, and a recently hired mechanical engineer at Robins Air Force Base, Ga.: What do all of these people have in common? They are all former participants of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Internship Program at the Air Force Research Lab who credit the program as a key component of their successes.

AFRL has been involved in the TMCF program for 15 years, and 300 student interns have participated to date. Each year, this national scholarship internship program offers students attending the 47 publically supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including law and medical schools, a first-hand professional development experience. The program focuses on developing leadership skills, introducing various career opportunities, creating a community of scholars, providing companies access to a talented and diverse student population, and helping students make connections that lead to internships and full-time positions.

"Our goal for the program is to establish and foster effective practices by promoting elite workforce initiatives," said Justin Lee, AFRL program manager for the TMCF Internship Program. "By focusing on exclusive workforce initiatives to build morale, we explore revolutionary new ideas through basic science that delivers new capabilities to the warfighter. AFRL is a place where diverse cultures are accepted and all students and employees strive to foster an environment of acceptance, inclusion, and cooperation. AFRL is focused on acquiring and retaining a unique workforce."

This year, 30 TMCF interns gained knowledge and experience in many of AFRL's technology directorates, including Materials & Manufacturing, Sensors, Munitions, Information, and the 711th Human Performance Wing. Interns were involved in such projects as autonomous air vehicles, Shape Deposition Manufacturing and other rapid prototyping techniques, and the development of novel diagnostics of material properties. There was also an intern who served at AFRL headquarters, as part of the communications team within the Commander's Action Group.

This intern, Maso Cotton, is a recent political science graduate of Virginia State University, and he is another program participant who feels the TMCF internship program has positively impacted his young professional career.

"The TMCF Internship program was able to place me in an internship where I would be able to apply skills that pertain to my major," said Cotton. "I am thankful that this opportunity was presented to me because it definitely exposed me to a division of public service work that I may not have otherwise considered as a possible career choice."

Cotton adds, "I would certainly recommend the program to other students. Both AFRL and TMCF provided me with the necessary tools to be productive in this internship opportunity, and I believe that both organizations are helping me improve my work ethic and abilities, professionalism, and overall preparedness for my career."

Donyai Moffatt, a senior at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina, recently participated in his second TMCF internship at AFRL, within the Sensors Directorate. One of his projects this year was the creation of engraved patterns on a copper plate for use in an antenna measurement system. Moffatt states that interning with AFRL has provided him with valuable experience.

"I have capitalized on my opportunities with my AFRL internship experience by working in a diverse workforce and gaining knowledge in cutting-edge software, setting myself as a contender for a government job post-graduation," said Moffatt.

Michael McConkey, RF Technology Branch Chief of the Sensors Directorate at AFRL and TMCF program mentor, believes the benefits of the TMCF internship at AFRL are two-fold.

"It provides AFRL the opportunity to discover talent from colleges/universities that may not normally participate in summer intern programs," McConkey said. "The program then provides valuable professional and real-world experience to those interns who participate. That experience is taken back to their respective institutions, and hopefully shared with others."

The 2014 TMCF internship program at AFRL has come to a close. As AFRL surges into the future, it will continue to seek out the best and brightest workforce. AFRL leaders noted the TMCF Internship is one investment program that will help AFRL accomplish this goal.

"Many of these young people had no knowledge of AFRL or the science and technology research opportunities we offer for both military and civilians employees," said Ricky Peters, AFRL executive director. "I believe this exposure will excite their interest and provide a pipeline for recruitment and innovation that will serve the nation well in the future."

Hill AFB begins F-22 Raptor depot maintenance consolidation

by Richard W. Essary
75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


9/3/2014 - HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- The Air Force's decision to consolidate depot maintenance for the F-22 Raptor at Hill Air Force Base in order to reduce costs and improve efficiencies is coming to fruition. F-22 depot maintenance, which is currently split between Hill AFB's Ogden Air Logistics Complex and a Lockheed Martin facility in Palmdale, Calif., will begin relocation exclusively to the Ogden ALC this month.

"The Ogden Air Logistics Complex has long been a leader in depot repair, overhaul and modification for a number of different weapon systems," said Maj. Gen. H. Brent Baker Sr., Ogden ALC commander. "Consolidation of F-22 depot maintenance at Hill Air Force Base will create greater efficiency in the F-22 program by allowing the Air Force to cost-effectively maintain the F-22, and ensure this critical front-line weapon system is readily available to the warfighter."

The decision to consolidate the Raptor's depot modification and heavy maintenance was made in May 2013 following a comprehensive business case analysis led by the F-22 System Program Office. Air Force analysis determined the consolidation of F-22 work at Hill AFB would result in a minimum cost savings of more than $300 million during the program's life cycle.

Jointly, the Program Office, Ogden ALC, and Lockheed Martin Corp. implemented a 21-month incremental transition plan, which included the modification of existing base facilities, movement of specific support equipment, and hiring of additional ALC personnel.

The F-22 System Program Office said the coordinated ramp-down at Palmdale and ramp-up at the Ogden ALC will result in the standup of six additional F-22 depot production lines starting with the first this month, reaching full capability in February 2015. The consolidated depot at Hill AFB will double the current workload, bringing approximately 200 new jobs to the base.

"It doesn't get dirtier than this"

by Senior Airman Matthew Lotz
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


9/8/2014 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- "I can't think of a job being dirtier than ours," he says jokingly just seconds before an unwelcoming aroma fills the air as he lifts the cover off a manhole. "I mean come on; we are constantly around sewage lines, fuel, and used toilets and urinals."

The men and women responsible for managing these unfriendly smells are the Airmen with the 31st Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuel systems maintenance team. They are in charge of making sure Aviano has clean water, unclogged sewers and clean fuel for the aircraft.

According to Senior Airman Robert Young, 31st CES water and fuel systems technician, they work on water running to every building, fire systems, the base pool, and of course, toilets and urinals.

When asked what their biggest job on base is, he laughs and replies, "cleaning urinals."

"Although it seems like we are doing that every day, we are much more than that," explained Senior Airman Leontre Harris, 31st CES water and fuel systems technician. "Over in billeting, if there is a minor leak, it could potentially end up ruining that entire room's ceiling, light fixtures and floors. So not repairing that minor problem can be detrimental to a building. And that's where we come in."

These Airmen get more than just their hands dirty for these jobs, but also, most of their uniform.

"No day is the same, which makes it interesting," says Harris. "We don't just sit in an office, but instead get to go out and meet new people. I can't see myself doing anything else in the Air Force."

While these water and fuel system technicians are able to handle a variety of jobs around base far beyond plunging toilets, their spouses have a different view.

"My wife understands what I do and would definitely say I'm just a plumber," Young says. "She's been with me since the beginning [of my career]so I know my wife gets more angry with me when I leave pens in my uniform when she does laundry, than the actual smell I bring home."

According to Harris, they are very aware of the smell they bring home. First thing he does, since he has a newborn, is take off his boots. On the days he works with fuel, he takes off everything to ensure the baby doesn't inhale anything from his clothes.

"I know my husband's job is dirty, but it's an important asset to this base and its mission," said Senior Airman Deja Harris, 31st Comptroller Squadron. "Without him we would have a lot of backed up sewage lines, no clean running water and without them inspecting the fuel, the jets wouldn't do their mission."

At the end of the day, these Airmen arrive home with boots and uniform in hand, often wear the unpleasant smell that followed them from work.

"My husband is the type of person that likes to be outside and get his hands dirty," explained Harris. "I would never ask my husband to change jobs.

"As long as he doesn't get my house dirty, I really don't mind," she joked.

Buzzard F-16's support AvDet rotation, Ample Strike

by Tech. Sgt. Eric Donner
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


9/5/2014 - LASK AIR BASE, Poland -- Seven F-16 Fighting Falcons from 510th Fighter Squadron and approximately 150 support personnel from the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy, arrived at the U.S. Air Force Aviation Detachment here, Sept. 4 and 5.

Service members from U.S. Air Forces in Europe and the Polish air force will conduct joint training over the next several weeks, upholding long-standing commitments to allies and ongoing efforts to increase interoperability of NATO forces.

"Our main goal here is to increase our partnership with our Polish allies," said Maj. Freddie Helton, 510th Fighter Squadron Detachment commander. "Our continued training with the Polish air force allows us to enhance our tactics and increases interoperability if needed for a real-world event."

The opportunity to train with NATO allies not only gives units the ability to employ fighter aircraft and pilots, but also provides training for aircrews and support personnel in a forward location.

The Aviation Detachment in Poland, activated November 2012, makes it possible for U.S. Air Force aircraft and personnel to participate in joint training exercises and host a regular rotation of aircraft.

"The continued training here helps the Airmen of the 510th Fighter Squadron stay forward, ready, now and strengthen our relationship with the men and women of the Polish air force," said Helton.

As part of the rotation at the AvDet, the 31st Fighter Wing will support the NATO close air support exercise Ample Strike. The exercise, hosted by the Czech Republic, will allow the 510th and USAFE to work with a planned 11 nations. The purpose of the exercise is to test the ability for close air support and evaluate aircraft and personnel capabilities and increase military relationships and NATO interoperability.

"Poland is a key ally in Central Europe, and has been one of the United States' strongest supporters," said Helton "Exercises like Ample Strike and the continued rotations here, allow us and our NATO allies to develop the tactics and relationships needed to enforce NATO priorities in Europe."

Colonel Webb takes command of 603rd AOC

by Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane
USAFE-AFAFRICA Public Affairs


9/8/2014 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Col. Michael Webb took command of the 603rd Air and Space Operations Center from Col. Jeffery Marker during a change of command ceremony here Sep. 4, 2014.

Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, 3rd Air Force commander, who officiated the ceremony, spoke highly of Marker just prior to awarding him the Legion of Merit.

"Without the 603rd doing the job," said Roberson, "we would not be able to answer the request for airpower when the combatant commanders call. Magic [Marker], you have embraced innovation to overcome any challenge your team was met with."

The 603rd AOC is home to 600 Airmen, Soldiers and Sailors who are responsible for executing command and control of air, information and space operations throughout 32 million square miles of air space in U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa

Command. The AOC responded to numerous events on the global scale to include the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, air operations over Mali and the U.S. Embassy evacuation in Tripoli.

"I have said several times how much it has meant to me to serve with this team," said Marker. "I have had the opportunity to have a front row seat and be witness to all of the great things these Airmen have accomplished.

"When they read that award citation," he said to the Airmen in attendance, "those accomplishments they attributed to me, those are your accomplishments."

Marker, who took command of the AOC in 2012, retires from the Air Force after 27 years of service.

Roberson took time to convey his appreciation for the leadership Marker displayed during his tenure in the AOC.

"Europe and Africa are both in a better place because of your command in the AOC," said Roberson. "You are the definition of a selfless leader, and we are grateful for that."

Embracing the future of the 603rd, Roberson welcomed Webb as the new commander of the 603rd AOC. Webb's previous assignment was at U.S. Special Operations Command, Macdill Air Force Base, Fla., as a strategic planner.

"I am proud of our Air Force and proud to have Col. Webb come in and take command," said Roberson. "And I challenge you to these three priorities: motivational mission accomplishment, compassionate care of Airmen and their families, and the drive to constantly improve and innovate."

Webb, a master navigator in the F-15E Strike Eagle with more than 2,200 hours and 240 combat hours expressed his appreciation to Gen. Roberson for entrusting him to the position of command.

"Thank you for putting your trust in me to lead such an amazing team," said Webb. "Thank you for trusting me with the men and women of the 603rd Air and Space Operations Center who, when called upon, expertly command and direct our nation's air power and the air power of our NATO and coalition allies."

Webb turned his attention to the men and women he is now charged with leading.

"This tremendous geographic responsibility is accompanied by an even more diverse set of challenges that vary across the entire spectrum," Webb said. "You, the men and women of the 603rd must find innovative ways to continue to dominate our adversaries to gain and maintain air superiority."

Webb said that he is dedicated to the team and the mission.

"I look forward to working with each and every one of you over the next few years as we tackle these challenges together as a team," Webb said.

Volcanos are just the tip of the iceberg

by T.G. Kistler
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs


9/8/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- 
Air Mobility Command led a technical information exchange recently to study damage to aircraft engines caused by volcanic ash and airborne dust.
 
Scientists from the United States and Canada met in person and virtually with operators from AMC and Air Force Global Strike Command to share research and discuss policies and procedures for aviation encounters with ash and dust.
 
"Volcanic eruptions are, fortunately, fairly rare events," said Dr. Donald Erbschloe, AMC chief scientist. "We have a good idea where volcanic activity is located or concentrated, but we can't predict well in advance when those eruptions will occur, their severity or character. One thing is certain though, sufficiently intense eruptions can cause major disruptions to our operations and to overall flight safety."
 
While it's well known to aviators that volcanic ash can cause a turbine engine to shut down, this gathering also focused on the long-term effects on engine components.
 
Dr. Prakash Patnaik, National Research Council Canada principal research scientist, spoke about his research, which explains why maintainers might not discover gas turbine hot section damage until two years after an aviation ash encounter. He said that during short exposures to volcanic ash, problems may not be easy to see. However, small concentrations of sulfur and other alkaloids in the ash can start a chemical reaction on engine components at high temperatures that can lead to catastrophic metal failure after hundreds or thousands of hours of operation.
 
In an attempt to combat these long-term problems, Dr. Patnaik and his Canadian colleagues are researching erosion resistant coatings for gas turbine compressor blades and the usefulness of protective coatings and filters at air inlets.
 
"Our studies have shown where to look for damage and what to look for," said Patnaik. "Now is the time to extend our studies to identify the risk, and cross-leverage information across agencies to develop mitigation strategies and create a win-win situation."
 
Capt. Eric Lyall, Air Force Research Laboratory, gave a briefing on aircraft maintenance procedures. He said on-going studies will help Air Force personnel determine how the amount and length of ash exposure affects the maintenance needed.
 
Both Lyall and Patnaik also spoke about the costs associated with volcanic ash. Even small amounts of exposure can shorten the life of aircraft engines.
 
During  a discussion on the effects of the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallaj√∂kull volcano in Iceland, Brig. Gen. Brian Robinson, 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center) vice commander, noted that costs are also inflated when aircraft have to modify their flight paths to avoid volcanic ash.
 
Because of widespread ash over the European continent, the Tanker Airlift Control Center routed flights to Afghanistan through Spain rather than Germany. This added time, used more fuel and cost more money. When the second eruption made those secondary routes unusable, AMC was forced to fly the opposite direction and travel two-thirds of the way around the world, or twice as far, to get to the destination. While aerial refueling was not used on the Pacific route, if it had been necessary, Robinson said, it would have required three or four times the number of tanker aircraft and cost much more.
 
In addition to volcanic ash, scientists have also studied the effects of dust on aircraft engines.
 
"Our nuclear deterrence mission holds the nation's highest priority," said Dr. Christopher Yeaw, Air Force Global Strike Command chief scientist. "At events like these, we share our scientific knowledge of atmospheric contamination and the effects debris like volcanic ash, atmospheric dust or even nuclear contamination might have on our forces. Sharing that technical knowledge and operational procedures, better prepares Global Strike Command to defend the nation and ensure a safe, secure, and effective deterrent force."
 
Elaborating, Colonel Joel Dickinson, Deputy Commander of the 608th Air and Space Operations Center said, "Atmospheric contamination can force us to alter our strategic bombers' routes of flight, or altitudes, or affect our ability to command and control our forces. Understanding these atmospheric phenomena, and their effects on our operations, is crucial to our demonstrated ability to hold at risk any target anywhere in the world."
 
Dr. John Lekki, from NASA's John Glenn Research Center, spoke about the vehicle integrated propulsion research studies he conducted involving the ingestion of controlled quantities of volcanic ash into an operating engine, which will replicate the conditions of what aircraft would have been exposed to while flying through volcanic ash. He said results from the studies will reduce the cost of operations as agencies share information and cooperate to arrive at a solution faster, cheaper and better than trying to do it alone.
 
Lekki hopes the gathering will result in a combined enthusiasm among many agencies, which will generate interest and funding for a long-term study.

All-AF Men's Softball Team focused on winning gold medal after two-year drought

by Jose T. Garza III
JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs


9/5/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas. -- The All-Air Force Men's Softball Team announced its 15-player roster Sept. 2 from its training grounds here.

Representing the Air Force in the Armed Forces Men's Softball Championships:

Senior Airmen Johnny Allen, Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, Chadon Bowman, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and Cody Marshall, Tyndall AFB, Florida.
Staff Sgts. Jose Otero, March Air Reserve Base, California, and Will Twaddell, Scott AFB, Illinois, Tech Sgts. Kevin Cumbie, Spangdahlem AB, Germany, Antonio Rivera III, Hill AFB, Utah and Travis Wollison, Wyoming Air National Guard Base, Wyoming. Master Sgts. Rich Burley, Ellsworth AFB, North Dakota, Travis Herrell, MacDill AFB, Florida, Dexter High, Nellis AFB, Nevada, Lenny Myers, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Roger Stewart, Tyndall AFB, Florida, Chris Markey, Vandenberg, AFB, California, and Mike Charvat, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

The team will compete against All-Army, Marine Corps and Navy men's softball teams in a triple round-robin tournament Sept. 14-19 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and will attempt to win its first championship since 2011. The All-Air Force Men's Softball Team took home silver medals in 2012 and 2013, losing both years to the All-Army team.

Training camp began Aug. 28 at JBSA-Lackland with 26 players, and Coach Steve Shortland said it was a difficult decision process picking the best 15 players to represent the team. He is happy with the final roster, adding that this year's squad is "a special team."

"There is more talent here than we've ever had," the coach said. "It seems like their chemistry is pretty good. As a coach, you can select the best players, but you have to go to be on bended knee every night hoping that the chemistry is right and that is the part you can't put into an equation."

Shortland hopes good team chemistry equates to a gold medal victory because he is accepting nothing less. The coach said that two consecutive second place finishes has left a sour taste in the team's mouths.

"We are going in there with the mindset of being super focused to win it all," he explained.

Two players who are extra focused on winning the Armed Forces Men's Softball title are Master Sgts. Dexter High and Chris Markey. Both Airmen, who are veterans on the team, will retire from the active duty Air Force at the end of the year, and want to end their careers on a high note.

"I would be absolutely elated (to win one final gold medal," said Markey, 30th Medical Group superintendent of education and training, who has been selected to the team eight times since 2002. "I will be the happiest man on the planet. There is not a team I would want to win a gold medal with than this one."

"It will be bittersweet to win a final gold medal in my final year on the All-Air Force Team, after winning a gold medal in my first year in 2002," said High, 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron specialist section chief, who has made seven All-Air Force Men's Team appearances since 2002. "Hopefully my veteran leadership can help this team win."

AMC brings the Strykers

by Senior Airman Damon Kasberg
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


9/6/2014 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Air Mobility Command's mission is to provide rapid, global mobility and sustainment for America's armed forces, a capability demonstrated during Steadfast Javelin II, a large-scale, joint, multinational exercise held on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, from Aug. 31 through Sept. 11.

The exercise further focuses U.S., NATO and partner forces on concepts such as decisive and sustainable land operations.

Aircrew from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, boasted AMC's airlift abilities when they loaded Strykers and Soldiers from the 2nd Calvary Brigade into their C-17 Globemaster IIIs and rapidly deployed them to Latvia as part of the exercise.

"I absolutely love flying the C-17," said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Brian Dunlap, 7th Airlift Squadron C-17 co-pilot. "We can transport cargo, Soldiers and equipment anywhere in the world and our missions can vary from airlift and airdrops to medical evacuations. For Steadfast Javelin II, each of our aircraft airlifted three Strykers along with vehicle crew members from Ramstein to Latvia, allowing the Army to accomplish their objectives."

U.S. Army Strykers are vehicles designed to quickly and safely transport Soldiers throughout their area of responsibility. They also provide vehicle-borne weapon systems, enabling them to engage a wide variety of threats. Unlike heavy armored vehicles, Strykers have low logistic requirements, allowing them and their crew to rapidly deploy in great numbers.

"Our Strykers are very fast and quiet, so they can maneuver stealthier than heavily armored vehicles," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David Chadburn, 2nd Calvary Regiment platoon sergeant. "The Air Force enables us to put our Soldiers where ever we're needed."

"It's awe inspiring to see so many Strykers loaded in an aircraft," he add. "It really shows how far we can reach out and put Soldiers on the battlefield."

The success of airlifting Soldiers and equipment to every corner of the world begins long before getting in the air. Training together ensures everyone knows how to safely and properly load cargo into the C-17s. Stryker crew members and C-17 loadmasters spent time prior to takeoff working together to make sure the vehicle drivers knew exactly how to enter the aircraft.

"It's not just about speed," Dunlap said. "It's about making sure people are safe and equipment doesn't break."

It's during these types of exercises that different military branches learn to appreciate each other's strengths and come together to accomplish the mission.

"The Air Force has been great," Chadburn said. "They welcomed us with open arms and trained us on what to do. Our unit's mission is to be deployable anywhere in a short notice; we couldn't do that without the Air Force."

"I learned that there's a lot more than just Air Force during this exercise," Dunlap said. "Working with our Allies and the Army is essential when we're executing operations to perfection."

Preventing Suicide: The ‘Power of 1’ Could Save a Life



By Shannon Collins
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2014 – As Suicide Prevention Month and year-long Defense Department and Department of Veteran’s Affairs efforts continue to combat suicide, Pentagon officials emphasize the importance of the power of one, peer support and resources.

The DoD, in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, has launched “The Power of 1" campaign in observance of Suicide Prevention Month during September 2014. The theme underscores the belief that one person has the power to teach resilience, recognize warning signs, intervene, chat, or make a call; it only takes one person or one act to save another person's life.

Secretary emphasizes collective responsibility

“Watching out for each other every day is a collective responsibility for the Defense Department’s military and civilian workforce,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said.

“Preventing military suicide is one of DoD’s highest priorities and something I’m personally committed to as Secretary of Defense,” Hagel said. “As we observe Suicide Prevention Month, we must rededicate ourselves to actively working not only every month, but every day to fulfill our collective responsibility to watch out for each other and take care of each other.”

One way service members and DoD civilians can take care of each other is by using the “The Power of One” theme, said Jacqueline Garrick, director of the Defense Suicide Prevention Office.

“One conversation, one text, one chat, could save a life. Know the resources out there,” Garrick said. “Reach out, find the person who can help you; don’t be afraid to have these kinds of conversations, whether you’re the one who needs help or you see someone who needs help. One conversation can save a life.”

Helping those at risk

Suicide is currently the 10th-leading cause of death in America, and the second- and third-leading causes of death among young adults, Garrick said. Some of the indicators of persons considering suicide, she said, could include talking about suicide, making plans, stockpiling medications, and withdrawing from people and activities that were previously enjoyable. Persons at risk could also be going through a significant loss, relationship issue, financial problems, drug and/or alcohol problems or legal or punishment issues.

The key is that whatever issue someone is facing, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, officials said.

And Pentagon leaders encourage leadership at all levels to reduce the stigma for those needing help.

“When someone is going through challenges and comes to you for help, it doesn’t make them weak,” Hagel said. “It means they’re strong, because asking for help when you need it takes courage and strength. What we need to remember -- what our entire country needs to remember -- is that these brave individuals shouldn’t be avoided or stigmatized. They need to be embraced.

“Whether you’re a service member, a veteran, a DoD civilian, or a friend or family member of someone who is, you have the power to make a difference,” the secretary continued. “It only takes one person to ask one question or make one call -- and that single act can save a life.”

Garrick echoed Hagel’s sentiment, noting that leaders at all levels should be “open to having these kinds of conversations” with potentially troubled troops and civilians.

“You have to be able to ask the question,” she said. “One small act can save a life and that’s what you want to do. You just want to be able to reach out, let people know what you’re concerned about them. If you see something that doesn’t look right, say something and get involved. Provide those resources that are out there.”

Resources are available to help

Garrick encourages those needing help to use the many resources available, such as chaplains, military family life consultants, mental health clinics, peers, community support organizations, Vets4Warriors and the Military Crisis Line.

“We want to encourage people to seek help when and where they need it and know that those resources are there for them,” Garrick said of the Military Crisis Line and Vets4Warriors programs. “You don’t have to have a diagnosis. A peer is there because they understand what someone is going through because they have gone through it themselves and can talk you through the situation.

“The peers on the line are veterans themselves,” she continued. “We have some spouses on the line who can work with family members about family issues. Our peers are just good to be able to talk to, whatever your problem is, whether you’re having a financial problem or a relationship issue.

“You can talk through the issue with a peer who understands what it’s like to access healthcare, find a good provider, talk to your command and talk to other unit members,” Garrick added. “They’ve had to do those things themselves, so they can really guide you and help you make those decisions.”

When people call the Military Crisis Line, 1-800-273-8255, and press 1, they can speak to a confidential peer responder specifically trained to deal with any crisis or stresses the service member, veteran or family member may be facing, Garrick said. People can also reach it via an online chat or text message or online at http://www.militarycrisisline.net. It is free, confidential, and trained professionals are there 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year.

Vets4Warriors is also free and confidential for service members, their family members, veterans and DoD civilians. It can be reached at 1-855-838-8255 or by visiting http://vets4warriors.com. Peer support is available 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year.