Friday, September 12, 2014

PACANGEL engineers build deeper bonds, brighter futures

by 2d Lt. Ashley Wright
Pacific Angel Nepal Public Affairs

9/12/2014 - SHAKTIKHOR, Nepal -- Children crowded up against windows and peeked around doors, watching, wide-eyed, as their school nestled in the rural, mountainous outskirts of Nepal was transformed.
The lives of more than 2,000 students in remote regions were affected by this year's engineering civic action project efforts for Operation Pacific Angel - Nepal.

U.S. military engineers worked with their Nepal Army counterparts to conduct various structural, concrete, electrical and plumbing projects that aimed to improve the safety and functionality of schools in the region.

"It's a good partnership," said Staff Sgt. Benjamin Bogedain, PACANGEL plumber. "It's give and take. They see our techniques, we see their techniques. It's been an eye-opening experience."

U.S. forces, along with regional military partners in Australia, Bangladesh and Mongolia, were invited by the government of Nepal to support its humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capacity building efforts with health services outreach and engineering projects.

According to Master Sgt. Chad Louis, PACANGEL lead engineering planner, this project not only built bonds between the two military forces, but established relationships with locals by improving the lives of thousands of children in Nepal.

"What we're doing here is not just helping this generation," Louis said. "It's going to help future generations as well."

Space control Airmen ensure constant communication

by Staff Sgt. Jarrod R. Chavana
3d Combat Camera Squadron

9/12/2014 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- Air Force Space Command's 16th Space Control Squadron in partnership with the Air Force Reserve Command's 380th SPCS is responsible for ensuring the Defense Department has uninterrupted global satellite communications.

Located at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., two squadrons are responsible for operating space control capabilities to rapidly achieve flexible and versatile space superiority in support of theater campaigns and U.S. Strategic Command's space superiority mission.
To accomplish this, Airmen operate a variety of antennas deployed globally to detect, characterize, geo-locate and report sources of radio frequency interference on Defense Department and commercial satellites supporting combatant commanders.

"Adversaries are always increasing their abilities, and they've identified that communication is one of our primary keys to being successful as a military organization," said Capt. Andrew Buck, 380th SPCS, responsible for both 16th SPCS and 380th SPCS operational training. "They are working on depriving and degrading our abilities to actually use satellite communication."

"Geo-location is math intensive; it requires both science and art. Where we can, we use technology to do the math, so our operators can focus on the art of characterizing and finding the right needle in what can sometimes be a very large haystack," said Lt. Col. Mark Guerber, 16th SPCS commander.

"It's our mission to develop response options by using our front row seat to track what adversaries are doing to our signals, locate their assets, and try to help friendly forces reconfigure to mitigate hostile effects. We want to figure out an adversary's playbook, so we can better help out those who depend on satellite communications, including command and control nodes, naval users, mobile ground units, and our assets in the air," Buck added.

"Here at the 16th we are responsible for protecting ultra-high frequency spectrum satellites in a geosynchronous orbit, which are approximately 22,000 miles out in space," said Tech. Sgt. Dustin Bingham, 16th SPCS, operations training non-commissioned officer. "We continuously monitor friendly signals. As we detect interference, we analyze it to determine a specific profile using parameters such as size, technique, and sophistication. If necessary, we locate any unauthorized users and refer them to command and control centers like the Joint Space Operations Center or a theater Combined Air Operations Center for diplomatic resolution or engagement.

"We have a central operating location here at Peterson with two remote sites, one on the east coast and the other in Asia," Bingham added. "With these sites we have near-global coverage of the UHF spectrum, which provides the ability to monitor just about any UHF signal out there."

Not all interference is caused by an enemy; some is from environmental factors such as sunspots or atmospheric disturbances. Friendly U.S., allied, or commercial communication signals can also be another big source of interference.

"Because we can determine the source of interference, we're a great asset for resolving signal 'fratricide'. Many times, we can tell a fellow Airman, Soldier, or Sailor the exact parameters needed to check to restore communications. We bring a unique ability to help the message get through," Buck said.

"Legacy satellite communications platforms are just the beginning, as the internet expands to include space based networks, I have no doubt, we'll be on the cutting edge of helping protect and deter attacks against those assets as well," Guerber added.

AFSPC hosts JIE summit and plans next one

Air Force Space Command Public Affairs

9/12/2014 - Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. -- The Air Force Space Command Communications and Information Directorate recently hosted a Joint Information Environment (JIE) General Officer Summit at Peterson AFB and will host a second summit in mid-September.

At the first summit in mid-August, key Air Force leaders from AFSPC, the AF Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) and SAF/A6 addressed AF JIE strategy, governance, funding and priorities. Maj. Gen. Terrance Feehan, AFSPC Director of Requirements, opened the summit by describing the strategic goals for the meeting, including addressing Cyber acquisition, leveraging the work the AF has already accomplished in modernizing and consolidating the AF Network and driving next steps in AF JIE implementation and teaming. Key topics addressed during the summit included AF JIE governance, security architecture implementation, data center consolidation, and next generation enterprise services.

Maj. Gen. Craig Olson, Program Executive Officer for C3I and Networks, thanked everyone for embracing the opportunity and closed the summit with a commitment from all involved to continue partnering on JIE efforts through effective governance, strategy, and acquisition.

JIE was recently described by Acting DoD CIO Terry Halvorsen, at the Federal Forum 2014 in August, as "probably the largest modernization effort we have undertaken inside DoD."

To that end, AFSPC, AF and AFLCMC are driving JIE priorities that will modernize and align with sister service components to achieve a common DoD Information Network (DoDIN) environment.

AFSPC scheduled another summit on September 15 at Hanscom AFB, Mass., to continue the focus on JIE priorities. Expected attendees include leaders from AFSPC, AFLCMC and SAF/A6.

"These summits are extremely important for advancing the Air Force's efforts to modernize network transport and security and align them with the JIE framework to enhance mission effectiveness, improve cyber security posture, and increase efficiency," said Bill Marion, chief technology officer for AFSPC. "By working together in these venues, as well as with the other services and DISA, the Air Force is on a path that will set the security foundations for protecting the joint network."

Luke weapons maintainers provide munitions for the mission

by Airman 1st Class James Hensley
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/12/2014 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- 
Most everything that can go 'boom' on base has to go through the 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron here.

The 56th EMS weapons maintenance Airmen manage munitions used by various squadrons on base including the 56th Security Forces Squadron, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal and the fighter squadrons. 

The 56th EMS mission is to provide first-class munitions support to the flightline and the wing, while taking care of their people and developing combat-ready Airmen. EMS plays a critical part in day to day operations for Luke Air Force Base. 

"If a unit on base uses firearms, trains with explosives or flies, we provide them with the proper munitions," said Capt. Talon Pope, 56th EMS Munitions Flight commander. "This is why our Airmen prepare munitions ahead of time for possible changes to flight schedules. If a flight training mission changes and has more aircraft than anticipated, our Airmen know what to do to prepare the right amount of munitions for the mission." 

There are many types of munitions weapons maintenance Airmen prepare: 20 mm rounds, precision-guided munitions, GBU-12s and more. With safety always being a top priority when handling munitions, Airmen perform all safety practices and standards to the letter to ensure they stay safe and to prevent damage to government property. 

"Before our Airmen even touch equipment, they must look through and read each part of the technical orders for the specific task at hand," Pope said. "These technical orders include safety precautions, information about whether what they're working on can explode, and how and where to evacuate to safety." 

Munitions Airmen take pride in their work and maintain the highest safety standards, according to Master Sgt. Jeff Mikaio, 56th EMS munitions materiel section chief. 

"We build and manage the most reliable munitions," he said. "Our Airmen are very good at what they do and know how to do it safely and proficiently."

Luke Thunderbolts save volts

by Senior Airman Grace Lee
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/12/2014 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- With resources dwindling and the earth's population growing, it has never been more important to save energy, fuel and other natural resources to save money, keep costs reasonable, and also ensure it lasts for generations to come.

"Luke is one of the biggest customers for Arizona Public Service, where the majority of our energy use comes from," said Master Sgt. Adam Kelley, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron base energy manager. "For fiscal year 2013, we used $5.7 million in electricity."

The Air Force is the largest consumer of energy in the Defense Department, and with energy costs consistently rising, saving energy has never been more essential to the mission.

"There is a Defense Department energy conservation mandate which states that all Defense Department installations must do their part to reduce energy usage by three percent each year to meet a 20 percent reduction goal by 2020," Kelley said.

To meet the mandate' s requirements, Luke Air Force Base has several energy saving projects in the works including participation in incentive programs with APS.

"We currently have four active solar arrays on base and are in the process of installing four more to produce hot water for three of the dormitories and the dining facility," Kelley said. "We also participate with APS in regards to our incentive program. For example, if we replace old equipment with more energy efficient equipment, APS will write us a check that goes directly back to Luke."

Although Luke's energy managers do what they can to ensure the base is being more energy efficient, it is up to each person on base to make a difference.

"There was a study done that if each person would just turn off their computer monitors before leaving work for the weekend, we would save $70,000 annually and that's just from the monitors," said Master Sgt. Samuel Simien, 56th CES energy manager.

At the workplace one can help by getting rid of unused refrigerators and unplugging appliances that are not regularly used, Simien said. Electricity is still running through them even when not being used, Simien said. Additionally, one can switch from aerial lighting to task lighting.

There are several ways one can save electricity at home.

"Base residents can help by using the highest energy consuming appliances during APS' off-peak hours from 7 p.m. to noon," Simien said. "Many people may have the misconception that turning off the air conditioning when not in use will save them more electricity when the opposite is true. To save money on air conditioning, make sure you keep your thermometer at a tolerable temperature during peak hours. For example, keep it at 80 degrees Fahrenheit when your home is unoccupied, then when off-peak hours hit, turn it down to your desired temperature."

One will save more on energy costs this way because it will prevent the a/c system from overworking to get the temperature of the entire house down more than 10 degrees, Simien said.

Other ways to cut energy costs are changing light bulbs to fluorescent bulbs because they only require 16 watts instead of the 75 watts of traditional incandescent bulbs.

"The smallest changes will make a big difference," Kelley said. "It would help tremendously if every person on Luke would identify areas to save energy at the workplace. If there are issues within the facility let it be known by contacting your designated facility manager who will in turn submit a work order to the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron."

For more information or to put in a work order, the CE help desk can be reached at 623-856-7083.

DRAGON 'fires up' for flight

by Justin Oakes
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

9/12/2014 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The U.S. Air Force and NATO are undergoing a cooperative development effort -- known as the DRAGON program -- to upgrade the cockpits of their E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft.

DRAGON stands for Diminishing Manufacturing Sources Replacement of Avionics for Global Operations and Navigation. And just as its name suggests, finding parts for the aging AWACS fleets is a main concern for both the Air Force and NATO.

"As original equipment manufacturers discontinue support to 40-year-old avionics, replacement parts are becoming harder and harder to come by," said Jennifer Pomphrett, DRAGON project manager.

Easily identified by its 30-foot rotating radar dome, E-3 AWACS use on-board computers and radar to provide a detailed aerial picture of airspace covering more than 200,000 miles in all directions.

The DRAGON program office, located at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the driving force behind the replacement of non-sustainable, mainly analog, equipment. Existing technology will be updated with commercially available, digital avionics systems.

The flight deck modernization replaces most analog indicators with modern digital multicolor graphical displays. In addition, nearly all of the 1970s avionics are being replaced with updated airspace-compliant subsystems. This modernization also allows for elimination of the navigator, dropping the crew size from four to three, as well as adding a Mode-5 Identification Friend or Foe capability.

All aircraft infrastructure such as engines, airframe and mission systems will remain, but the upgraded E-3 flight deck will host a plethora of new technology currently used by the commercial airline industry.

Digital satellite-based communications; modern flight management system suite architecture; and a digital cockpit that includes five glass display screens will offer aircrews easy-to-use and customizable engine, navigation and situational awareness data.

Other new capabilities will include a weather radar that can predict wind shear, an Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System, warnings, cautions and advisories via an Engine Instrument and Crew Alert System and a fully digital flight deck audio distribution system.

In addition to hard-to-find replacement parts, another reason for the AWACS upgrade is due to changing national and international regulations for civil airspace.

The International Civil Aviation Organizations has imposed new flight mandates that need to be met by 2018. With the flight deck modernization, both U.S. and NATO fleets will meet the mandates and will have broader access to airspace.

"Unrestricted flight through preferred airspace takes the E-3 to the fight when it needs to be there," said Sid Kimhan, DRAGON program manager. In addition, "the shorter flying times provided by access to preferred routes reduces costly wear and tear on the fleet and fuel consumption."

The Air Force and NATO are progressing together through risk reduction and engineering, manufacturing and development phases, but the organizations will have separate contracts for the production, deployment and operational stages.

"This cooperative effort is important because it leverages the 95 percent design commonality between the U.S. and NATO AWACS and promotes interoperability, interchangeability, cost sharing and a common sustainment and logistics pipeline," said Rob Stewart, DRAGON logistics manager.

Boeing, which holds the current EMD contract, installed one digital flight deck and avionics system onto the first NATO aircraft, N-1, and will also install another system into an Air Force test aircraft, D-1, in the coming months.

Ground testing for the NATO AWACS is slated for this month with an anticipated first test flight scheduled for November. The Air Force expects its 24 updated E-3s to be delivered by the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2025.

"We're very pleased with the progress that's being made," said Lt. Col. Brian Clifford, E-3 Operational Capabilities branch chief. "This modernization will bring a whole new level of communication, navigation and surveillance to the U.S. and NATO E-3 operational community."

Airmen deliver GPS to the world

by Staff Sgt. Jarrod Chavana
3d Combat Camera Squadron

9/9/2014 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colorado  -- Many people around the world use Global Positioning System receivers and applications in their vehicles and cell phones to guide them to their destinations. But few people know much about the GPS signal itself.

Air Force Space Command Airmen of the 2nd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., are the sole global providers of this free global utility through their command and control operations of the GPS constellation.

On any given day, more than 3.5 billion people around the world have access to GPS signals. With this access, civilians are finding more ways to apply GPS technology in their everyday lives. Today, GPS technology is used to increase productivity throughout global economies. In agriculture, the signal guides tractors and planting operations and has revolutionized global tracking of commercial goods. The signal allows faster emergency and disaster response efforts and has made personal fitness workouts more efficient.

"The U.S. Air Force provides nearly 90 percent of the capabilities the military uses every day in warfighting areas around the world," said Gen. John E. Hyten, AFSPC commander. "It also provides capabilities for citizens around the world who don't even realize it comes from the U.S. Air Force."

This GPS satellite constellation has multiple functions other than providing navigation signals. The system uses an atomic clock, which is accurate within one billionth of a second. The precision of this clock enables banks, the stock market, and even traffic lights to perform with complete precision. In fact, every ATM and debit card transaction relies on the GPS timing signal. This timing capability allows military units around the world to conduct coordinated missions at the exact same time.

"If GPS goes away for any reason, all that stuff comes to a stop. If you're a Soldier, Sailor, Airmen, or Marine ... GPS tells you where you are," said Hyten. "If you want to vector in a precision guided munition, GPS is one of the weapons of choice, as GPS guided munitions like the Joint Direct Attack Munition are most effective."

The JDAM is a guidance tail kit that converts existing unguided free-fall bombs into accurate, adverse weather smart munitions. The weapon system autonomously navigates to the designated target coordinates with a built in navigational system and GPS guidance control unit.

Similar to the guidance kit for munitions, GPS-guided 'smart pallets' allow air-dropped supplies to land at pre-determined locations, improving humanitarian aid delivery or troop resupply, day or night, under any conditions.

"This program is unique as it started out for military, and military only, and then it was opened up to civilian users," said Capt. Aaron Blain, 2nd SOPS chief of navigation. "Many people don't actually understand how GPS works on a regular basis, they think they are actually contacting the satellite directly and this isn't true. Essentially, you are just receiving a signal."

When someone activates a GPS receiver or enters an address into a GPS device, the signal they are receiving triangulates where they are on Earth and where they want to go. Software within the device uses that signal to get travelers from point A to point B.

"Some of the things we do behind the scenes is try to optimize the signal and make it as accurate as possible," said Blain. "Satellites have what we call atomic frequency standards, which is essentially a clock, a very accurate clock. Each satellite has its own personality; we make them more accurate for everyone in the world."

The system's timing synchronization supports major communication networks, financial markets, and power grids. In fact, some wireless services cannot operate without GPS.

"We have a constellation of 39 satellites, so every day is a different type of scenario, and we have contingency plans for any situation," said Senior Airmen Trey Barnes, 2nd SOPS space systems operator. "Some of the situations we contend with are collision avoidance with other satellite vehicles, orbital debris, or space weather. Space is a rough environment and it's important to stay calm."

As the Defense Department's largest satellite constellation, GPS has increasingly exceeded accuracy standards. Today's commercially-available GPS devices are accurate to within one meter (about three feet). The U.S. military's GPS capabilities are accurate to within half a meter.

In 2011, the Air Force GPS program was recognized for its "measurable benefit to humanity." The International Astronautical Federation celebrated their 60th anniversary with a one-time award for the single space event with the greatest contribution to humanity presented at the 62nd International Astronautical Congress in Cape Town, South Africa. Nominated by the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics, the GPS program was awarded for the, "uniqueness of the GPS program and the exemplary role it has played in building international collaboration for the benefit of humanity," according to the IAF website.

"The squadron has been remarkably successful," said Blain. "We're the only unit that operates GPS; the GPS program has been recognized as the greatest contribution to humanity. We're humbled that we can help people every day."

Soldier has a lifelong passion for motocross

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera
JBER Public Affairs

9/11/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Crowds cheering, event announcers commenting, dirt and rocks flying as tires spin, high-speed sharp turns - these can make a huge impact on a seven-year-old.

For Sgt. Jeremy Hazard, 84th Engineer Support Company (Airborne) wheeled vehicle mechanic, it ignited a passion nothing else ever did. Thirteen years after witnessing dirt bike racing for the first time, he finally got his chance.

"I watched my first super cross during the Alaska State Fair in 2012," Hazard said. "So I decided to join the Anchorage Racing Lions."

Seeing first-hand the high-speed off-road terrain and aerial jumps, Hazard wanted to experience what the bikers were experiencing.

According to the Anchorage Racing Lions website, there are about 300 motocross enthusiast members who race to promote fun, fair motocross racing for all ages.

A few obstacles prevented him joining in 2012. His commitment to the military and preparing for an upcoming deployment halted his dream to try out in the motocross race.

"I wanted to participate in the summer series when I first heard about it, but was always in training," the father of one said. "I was deployed from February to October of last year."

But in the back of his mind, Hazard said he was always on the lookout for the next opportunity to join the summer series. After six months of waiting, he was finally able to join the club this year. Hazard started the 'big bike novice' class, and out of the 25 participants, he ended up taking 1st place in the overall category in the summer series.

"The high intensity and adrenaline are some of the factors why I wanted to join," Hazard said. "It's fun to show your competitive side."

He said his family is supportive of his extreme hobby and only asks him to be careful - ironic, given his last name.

"My wife supports me and all the crazy things I attempt to do, while my family thinks it's pretty neat that I am doing this," Hazard added.

His wife and two-year-old son watched him compete in the 3rd Annual Amateur and Youth Supercross Challenge during this year's Alaska State Fair.

Hazard said that before a race starts, he analyzes his strong and weak area on the track.
"I try to get a mental feel of how I will do at the race," said the Jonesborough, Ga., native. "At the start of the race, I try to visualize getting in front."

Initially, starting at fourth place allowed some of the faster riders to get in front of Hazard and caused him to flip on the first lap.

"The bike has a lot of power, so you have to work your clutch and brakes, and have good throttle control so you don't fall," Hazard said.

With only seven of eight laps to go, Hazard tried to recover his fourth-place position. Focusing on his strong areas and taking one competitor at a time, Hazard finished in 10th place.

Despite his finish, Hazard said he had a good time and advised others who are interested in joining the sport to try it out.

"Even if you do not have a bike, just go out and watch people ride their bikes," the eight-year veteran said. "Talk to other riders and ask about their experiences."

Although he is relocating to his next duty station early next year, Hazard said he hopes to come back again to participate in the summer series and state fair in the future.

DOD to Send 25-bed Hospital to Liberia in Fight Against Ebola Virus

By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2014 – The Defense Department will transport a 25-bed hospital to Liberia in western Africa to help in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus there, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.

Equipping, and logistical and training details must be worked out before the hospital can be loaded onto an aircraft transport to deliver it to the stricken nation, Kirby told reporters during a DoD press conference.

DoD has about $30 million in program funding approved for its Ebola response, which includes delivery of the hospital and pay for diagnostic equipment, supplies and training, he said.

“We’ve also requested reprogramming $500 million in this fiscal year’s Overseas Contingency [Operations] fund for humanitarian assistance that would include West Africa,” he said.

In addition to the hospital, Kirby emphasized that “active discussions are going on across the whole United States government about the threat posed by this terrible disease and the urgency with which the international community needs to respond to it.”

He said he is convinced the U.S. government will continue its role to address the Ebola crisis, and that DoD likely has capabilities “that might prove helpful.”

In addition to the hospital, the department has had military physicians in West Africa treating patients with the Ebola virus and battling its rapid spread. “There has been a lot of effort applied,” by DoD, he noted.

“From a military perspective, whatever we offer to this effort [must] be the right capabilities,” Kirby emphasized, noting that the department has a comparatively limited capability in the fight against infectious diseases.

“Most of military medicine has been focused over the last 13 years -- and is designed to be focused -- on battlefield trauma and injuries,” he noted.

Yet DoD is good about rising to the call and doing everything it can, when and where it can, Kirby said.

“I can assure you we’re going to continue in the best way that we can. As a government and at the Pentagon, we’re very actively involved in this,” he said.

Aviano welcomes season of giving with CFC-O

by Staff Sgt. Jessica Hines
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/10/2014 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- The Combined Federal Campaign Overseas makes it easy for military personnel to give back to their community by providing a single, globally-organized fundraising event from September to November.

At Aviano, the 31st Fighter Wing's very own CFC-O drive kicked off Sept. 4 with a burger-burn and information booth near the Exchange, inviting guests to share a meal and browse through a catalogue of various charities.

With more than 2,600 charitable organizations to choose from, service members can put their money where their heart is and support a variety of programs and organizations of their choosing.

"Everyone has a story, everyone has been in a position where they've needed help, and the CFC is a great way to give back and help those organizations that may have helped you or helped somebody you've known," said Senior Master Sgt. Bobby Hickman, 31st Operations Support Squadron and CFC-O Project Officer.

"It also gives you an opportunity to support a specific organization that you're behind and that you believe in," he added.

According to Capt. Marcia Robinson, 31st Aerospace Medical Squadron and CFC-O Project Officer, Aviano's total contribution goal is set at $247,000, slightly higher than last year's grand total.

With the help of unit coordinators, the Aviano CFC team has three major events planned, including a mid-term exercise-a-thon competition among the squadrons, and a lawn movie night for the grand campaign finale.

"CFC unit coordinators can also create their own ways to raise awareness and money," said Robinson. "We are also going to have an awareness booth at the Exchange so people can receive more information about ways to donate on Fridays throughout the campaign period."

To help navigate the donating process, service members can establish monthly automatic payments from their payroll by filling out a form provided by unit representatives. However, members can also give online through the CFC-O website, or by one-time cash donations in-person at an event.

People can also get involved by volunteering in one the events organized by the CFC-O committee and unit coordinators.

106th Rescue Wing participates in regional emergency management training

by Senior Airman Christopher S. Muncy
106th Rescue Wing Public Affairs

9/11/2014 - NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. -- Four Emergency Management Airmen with the 106th Rescue Wing in Westhampton Beach participated in the first Air National Guard Region 2 emergency management training event at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station here Aug. 4-8.

They joined more than two dozen emergency management managers and bioenvironmental technicians representing seven New York ANG wings for critical skill development and improvement.

"Perhaps the most important element of our regional training was the chance to coalesce ... and support one another," said Chief Master Sgt. Doug Treut, the regional chief.

The event was hosted by the 107th Air Wing and included multiple subject matter experts from across the country. New York ANG Airmen from the 105th AW, 106th Rescue Wing, 107th AW, 109th AW, 174th Attach Wing and 177th Fighter Wing trained together for the entirety of the event.

The first several days were dedicated to classroom training and graduated from basic to more complicated scenarios. By the end of the week, Airmen were training under real-world conditions in environments that simulated poisonous air masses, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear events, as well as other catastrophic settings. In addition, the Airmen involved simulated responding to and neutralizing a suspected methamphetamine laboratory.

A proper response involves coordination amongst multiple teams and systems. Working from an Incident Action Plan, emergency managers must be experienced in setting up inflatable decontamination tents, know how to set up communication systems between various agencies spread out through the United States, and how their equipment works to detect possible contaminants.

The event culminated in an "All Chemical Response" exercise with all aspects of the training put into play. Augmentees from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station Fire Department provided a live decontamination line for first responders.

The emergency management training provided a great opportunity for members to develop teamwork, coordination, and overcoming challenges in the event they are called upon during an actual response.

"We encountered problems along the way, but that served the greater purpose of adapting and overcoming, an inherent [emergency manager] trait," Treut said.

Face of Defense: Soldier Gets Honor for Car Crash Heroics

By Army Staff Sgt. Justin A. Naylor
3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., Sept. 12, 2014 – The memory of the fiery accident that occurred near here on Interstate 5 last December is still fresh for Army Staff Sgt. Jose Garcia. His actions that day -- disregarding his own well-being as he rushed into the crash zone to help rescue the injured -- are hard to forget.

For his heroic conduct, Garcia was honored Sept. 10 at the American Red Cross Heroes Breakfast held in Tacoma, along with other community heroes.

Garcia was driving home from a 24-hour shift on Dec. 16, 2013, when he saw a truck towing a trailer heading northbound suddenly cross the center meridian and hit a box truck, both of which burst into flames.

Without thought, Garcia pulled his car over and rushed into the flaming crash where he started to help the injured. Before long, he found himself in the back seat of a truck stabilizing the neck of a man suffering from a concussion. He stayed in the truck with the injured man until the fire department arrived and removed the roof of the vehicle.

Now, almost a year later and in the midst of a busy training schedule, Garcia, who hails from New York City, was surprised to learn that he was receiving an award for his actions.

“Actually, I never even thought about it,” said Garcia, an infantryman assigned to 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team here.

“Once I got contacted the first time it was a shock,” Garcia said. “I didn’t know people even saw the crash. It means the world to think that someone out there put me in for this award.”

For those who honored Garcia and the other community heroes during the breakfast, the awards were a chance to give back.

“When Staff Sgt. Jose Garcia came upon an accident situation, he knew what to do and he didn’t hesitate to act,” said Barbara Hostetler, the director of regional clinical services for UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans, formerly known as the TRICARE West Region. “Even though he had just finished a 24-hour shift, he went above and beyond to save the lives of those people involved in this accident.”

Although Garcia is grateful for the award, he is modest about his actions during the accident, especially after meeting the other heroes who were recognized.

“By far, I think that what I did was nowhere near what they did,” said Garcia, whose three deployments have given him opportunities to practice lifesaving skills. “I train and do this for a living. They are just everyday people putting their lives at risk. Those guys deserve it way more than I do.”

Garcia also maintains that anyone would have done what he did if they saw the accident.

“It’s just one of those things -- I still believe that everyone has it in them to do the right thing,” he said. “I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”