Military News

Monday, September 15, 2014

HIANG unit conducts first Pacific Unity operation in Papua New Guinea

by By Tech. Sgt. Terri Paden
PACUNITY Public Affairs


9/15/2014 - MOUNT HAGEN, Papua New Guinea  -- 
Pacific Unity has been ongoing in the Asia-Pacific region since 2010, however the current iteration in Mount Hagen Papua New Guinea marks the first time the Air National Guard has taken the lead on the humanitarian assistance based operation.
Pacific Unity is a bilateral Engineering Civic Action Program conducted with host nation civil authorities and military personnel. The primary mission of Pacific Unity 14-8 is to construct two new dormitories for female students at Togoba Secondary School while promoting interoperability between the U.S. and Papua New Guinea, a task the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing readily agreed to take on.
"This is a big commitment by the National Guard Bureau," said Lt. Col. Brad Waters, 154th Civil Engineer Squadron commander. "This is a first for us, but I knew we were going to be successful from day one. We wanted to showcase that the Guard is a viable option for projects like this; we have the knowledge, capability and resources."       
In addition to showcasing the ANG as an operational force, Waters said PACUNITY has provided his team a vital opportunity to strengthen their core skills and grow as a team.        
The PACUNITY 14-8 team from the 154th WG is comprised of volunteers from within the unit. Though most hold Air Force Specialty Codes within the civil engineer skill set, few of the volunteers had construction backgrounds or experience.   
"I was amazed at the level of support from our team," Waters said. "We didn't shy away from volunteers with skill sets that weren't construction and we've been amazed at what non-traditional construction Airmen have been able to do."
In approximately four weeks, the Pacific Unity 14-8 team, which includes not only HIANG Airmen, but active-duty Airmen, Papua New Guinea Defense Forces and day laborers from the local community as well, has managed to complete the construction of two dormitories, upgrade the electrical system in the school's administrative building, re-paint the entire school, re-roof four boys' dormitories, renovate the dining hall, add gravel to the school's entry road, reconstruct the covered walkway and build new basketball goals for the school's recreation area.
"Working on an installation is great because it's mostly maintenance," Waters said. "But when we go into our wartime task we have to be able to construct. That's why small scale construction projects and training opportunities like this that involve all of our skill sets are invaluable."
To off-set the lack of experience, Waters said the operation has relied heavily on the knowledge of the senior NCOs on the team. Five SNCOs with extensive construction experience were chosen as team leads.
"This project was perfect for what we intended to do, which was get our Airmen familiar with the construction process," said Chief Master Sgt. Robert Davis, 154th CES chief enlisted manager and structures subject matter expert. "The first week was a learning experience but after the first week we felt confident they were knowledgeable to do things on their own."
Davis said they knew they had the leadership and experience to move the project through completion, but wanted to take the opportunity to offer younger Airmen in the unit something they couldn't get at homestation--real construction experience.
"The unit will lose its current subject matter experts through attrition so we are trying to grow our unit again and develop new leaders," he said. "Exposing them to construction is one way we can do that."
Waters said he's seen significant growth in the younger Airmen over the course of the operation.
"One of the challenges we face in the Guard is to teach people to perfect a skill they don't do every day and you can't do that over one weekend a month," Waters said. "That's why we need to continue to seek out these opportunities and be ready for anything that comes our way."
"Our Airmen are educated and they've been able to take instruction and run with it," Waters said. "It's about being able to take direction and understand it and execute it. I would take this team anywhere to complete any mission," Waters said. "Our capabilities make this a unit that is very flexible and able to meet any type of objective."
Waters said the 154th WG looks forward to taking the lead and participating in many future opportunities to come.

The Future USNS Fall River (JHSV 4) Delivered



From Team Ships Public Affairs

MOBILE, Ala. (NNS) -- The Navy accepted delivery of Joint High Speed Vessel, the future USNS Fall River from the Austal USA shipbuilder, Sept. 15.

The delivery marks a major milestone, the official transfer of the vessel from the shipbuilder to the Navy. USNS Fall River is the U.S. Navy's fourth Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV).

"Today the Navy received a tremendous asset," said Strategic and Theater Sealift Program Manager Capt. Henry Stevens. "The addition of Fall River to the fleet will enhance our forward presence and ability to bolster global security from the sea by quickly transporting significant resources to a wide array of geographic regions throughout the world in time of need."

Joint High Speed Vessels are versatile, non-combatant transport ships built from a commercial design with limited modifications for military use. These ships enable the fast, intra-theater transport of troops, military vehicles and equipment. Each JHSV is capable of transporting 600 short tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots.

The unique characteristics of JHSVs include a versatile off-load ramp and flight deck for helicopter operations. This further enhances port access and the Navy's operations in littoral areas.

The USNS Fall River has a core crew of 22 civilian mariners who operate and navigate the ship as part of the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command. The ship is designed to be used in support of a variety of different missions.

"The speed, cargo capacity and all around flexibility are game changing for military, relief, and humanitarian operations," said Stevens. "The ship's flight deck, ramp and shallow-draft provide options for employment across a wide spectrum of operations, particularly in austere regions of the world."

Delivery of Fall River follows the completion of its builder's and acceptance trials in July. The program continues to progress with JHSV 5's launch which is expected to occur in the coming weeks. All ten ships of the JHSV class are under contract with Austal USA.

As one of the Defense Department's largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and special warfare craft. Delivering high-quality war fighting assets - while balancing affordability and capability - is key to supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy.

USAF, IAF complete historic joint training at JBER


by Air Force Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
JBER Public Affairs


9/12/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Airmen from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and the Indian Air Force achieved a historic milestone after completing a joint air transportability training sortie Tuesday.

Three Indian Air Force Airmen rode along on a C-17 Globemaster III crewed by the 517th Airlift Squadron as part of a tactics, techniques and procedures exchange program between the two countries, marking the first time such training has been conducted between India and the United States at JBER.

"We are here to practice procedures we are adopting in India," said Wing Cmdr. Sukumar S.Kumar, IAF 77th Squadron parajump instructor leader. "Quite often, this will help us when operating together in the future."

The three-day exchange allowed the IAF members to see many different facets of JBER. The highlight of the exchange was the sortie, in which Army personnel and their equipment were airdropped to Allen Army Airfield, Fort Greely, Alaska.

"As pilots, our objective was to see and understand how USAF pilots are operating their aircraft while the drops are taking place," said Squadron Leader Hans Raj Bhatt, IAF 77th Squadron C-130J Hercules pilot and transport combat leader. "We want to see and compare the nuances so we have a better understanding of how to better operate."

U.S. Air Force Capt. Zach Coburn, 517th Airlift Squadron C-17 instructor pilot, said focusing on communication was a key teaching and learning point for the sortie.

"Communication is very important," Coburn said. "There are critical crunch points throughout the flight. The IAF was able to observe and see they have a lot of the same challenges and we shared ideas on how to work through them."

Bhatt said he agreed with Coburn and said the trip also served as a quality control check. The IAF had received similar training three years ago at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.

"The procedures we have set in place, they are primarily based upon the training that was imparted to us during out trip to Little Rock," Bhatt said. "The objective was to see if we have departed anywhere from that training, and we are happy to say we have not. That's a big takeaway for us."

Although the pilots who visited currently fly the C-130J, the IAF is beefing up its transport capability in the form of a C-17 fleet.

"The IAF will have the second largest C-17 fleet in the world," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Michael Bliss, 703d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. "They are a key partner in the Pacific Command Area of Responsibility. Events like this, where ideas and lessons learned are exchanged, are key to the further interoperability in capabilities such as airlift, air delivery, search and rescue, and aeromedical evacuation."

Bliss emphasized the mutual shared benefit of the program as key to the program's success.

"I think both countries desire to coordinate closely to enhance the ability for PACAF and IAF to operate alongside each other in bi/multi-lateral operations. Tactical exchanges like this will make that a reality."

While there are worlds of difference between a C-130 and a C-17, Bhatt said the concepts of airdrop and transportation is similar.

"The concepts are more or less the same, so we received some very beneficial training," Bhatt said. "It was an awesome learning experience."

Both sides had only glowing reports for each other.

"They are extremely professional, upstanding and friendly people," Coburn said. "They were here to observe but wanted to help wherever they could - push a pallet or carry something. It's always rewarding when you get to meet an individual who does the same thing you do but from a different cultural perspective. Meeting them and learning from them was a fantastic experience."

The IAF echoed their USAF counterpart's words.

"We are proud and privileged to be here," S.Kumar said. "Everyone we have interacted with has been so warm and welcoming. The crew we flew with today was very professional. We are looking forward to when we can do this again."

Run for remembrance

by Senior Airman Michael Washburn
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


9/12/2014 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- In homage of firefighters who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, the 374 Civil Engineer Squadron fire department hosted a memorial tower run Sept. 11, 2014.

"The 343 Firefighters that passed away on Sept. 11 made it up to the 110th floor in full gear trying to get people out after the first plane hit the towers," said Tech. Sgt. Stephen Sanabria, 374 CES firefighter. "We're trying to simulate that today."

Five four-person teams came out to compete in the run. Each member had to run to the ninth floor of a base tower wearing a 30-pound air tank, and run back down, where the next member would be waiting to go. Each person had to make the climb twice and the team with the fastest overall time took home a trophy.

"Sept. 11 is such a significant day in our history and it's important for us to pause and mark the sacrifices of everyone that we lost that day," said Lt. Col. David McCleese, 374 CES commander. "To us as emergency responders and firefighters, it's especially dear because those that were lost were family."

Some may have participated to test themselves or to exercise, but Airman Sean McMillan, 374 CES structural apprentice, did it to honor a fallen relative.

McMillan is a Manhattan, NY, native and was there when the attacks took place.

"My Uncle was a Port Authority (Police Department) officer and was killed, so I do something every year to honor him."

The winning team for this year's Tower Run with an overall time of 21:47 was the 374 Surgical Operations Squadron.

Hurricane Hunters fly Odile

by Senior Airman Monteleone
403rd Wing Public Affairs


9/15/2014 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The Air Force Reserve's Hurricane Hunters flew into Hurricane Odile Sunday to collect critical weather data for the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Odile formed in the Pacific Ocean and made landfall this morning in Baja, California. After reaching Category 4 strength on Sunday, Odile weakened to a Category 3.

This was the first flight into this storm by the Hurricane Hunters, who went on another reconnaissance flight today.

The Hurricane Hunters of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron are assigned to the 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. The team of reservists collected data to help determine the storm's strength and path. They found that while the projected models showed the storm moving in a more westward direction, it was in fact now moving further north, said Lt. Col. Brian Schroeder, 53rd WRS aerial reconnaissance weather officer.

During a tropical storm or hurricane, 53rd WRS crews can fly through the eye of a storm up to four to six times. During each pass through the eye, crews release a dropsonde, which collects temperature, wind speed, wind direction, humidity, and surface pressure data. The crew also collects surface wind speed data and flight level data. This information is transmitted to the NHC to assist them with their storm warnings and hurricane forecast models in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific.

"This storm is still a very powerful one, even though it dropped from a Category 4 to a Category 3 while we were flying through it," said Schroeder. He said the eye was developing a new eye, called a concentric eye during the flight. While the older eye was diminishing a new, more narrow eye of 10 miles across, was forming, he said.

WPAFB hosts national disaster training

by Wesley Farnsworth
88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


9/15/2014 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- More than 55 personnel from various mobile acute care teams within the National Disaster Medical System attended a three-day training event conducted by Department of Health and Human Services, Headquarters Air Mobility Command and U.S. Transportation Command, which was held here Sept. 3-5.

The National Disaster Medical System is a federal system designed to augment the nation's medical response capability by assisting both state and local authorities in dealing with the medical impacts of major peacetime disasters. It also supports the Department of Veterans Affairs and military medical system in caring for casualties evacuated back to the United States from overseas armed conventional conflicts. Additionally, the system can be used to support responders during major emergencies, including natural disasters, major transportation accidents, technological disasters and acts of terrorism.

Mobile acute care teams (MAC-T), part of the National Disaster Medical System, are responsible for packaging and preparing any patients who may require transformation on Air Force aircraft at specific aerial ports of embarkation; however they don't actually fly the missions with patients.

Lt. Col. Alan Guhlke, United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine instructor and cadre for the event, said this type of training is very important.

"This training teaches the MAC-T teams how to receive patients that may need one-on-one care from hospitals if it needed to be evacuated during a national disaster such as a hurricane or tornado," Guhlke said. "It also teaches them how to translate the skills they've developed from their normal job into the skills they will need in a natural disaster where they may have to operate in less than ideal conditions with the possibility of limited supplies."

To ensure these skills remain sharp, training for MAC-T teams is typically done on a yearly basis and normally has between 60 and 65 participants, including instructors from around the United States who attend. During the training events, participants learn about some of the capabilities of Department of Defense aircraft when it comes to transporting patients and are able to practice their skills on mannequins and low-end human patient simulators.

"We are here to teach them how the DoD does things so that they can prepare the patients for safe transport on our aircraft," Guhlke said. "Our overall goal is to be able to provide the same level of care or better that they received at their hospital while they are in transport, so that they can continue to improve."

Col. Christian Benjamin, 711th Human Performance Wing, Air Force Research Laboratory commander, says communication is key to ensuring that level of care is provided.

"This has been a great opportunity for civilian disaster response teams and Air Force personnel to get together and learn to speak the same language for a common goal: quality and safe patient evacuation," Benjamin said. "This is crisis leadership in action. It's all about spanning boundaries. This critical training forges common ground to share in a common purpose and build trust. Merging our differences and integrating our skills and talents allows us to pave a path toward a future of seamless teamwork when responding to disasters."

Dr. Elieen Bulger, International Medical Surgical Response Team trauma surgeon, is one of medical personnel who attended the training. She agrees that this type of training is critical to their success.

"Disasters fortunately don't happen every day, but these teams are made up of people from all over the country who have never met each other in many cases," Bulger said. "This training is able to bring us all together so that we are learn how to work together and attempt to figure out where the problems may be in advance, which will make us for efficient when the time comes."

Overall, Guhlky, Bulger and Benjamin agree that this training was a huge success.

"Our country is ready for a natural disaster. We have medical teams of very qualified providers that stand ready to help when asked," Guhlke said.

USS Warrior joins ROK Navy to Commemorate 64th Anniversary of Incheon landing



By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Frank Andrews, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea Public Affairs

INCHEON, South Korea (NNS) -- Sailors from USS Warrior (MCM 10) joined Republic of Korea navy ships in a naval demonstration and reenactment Sept. 15 to pay tribute to Korean War veterans who fought side-by-side during the Incheon landing 64 years ago.

The commemoration also included amphibious assault vehicles, helicopters, and a landing force from the ROK marines. More than 3,000 Korean War veterans from the U.S., ROK, and participating United Nations sending states joined senior military and civic leaders for the event.

"We are honored to have this opportunity to bring USS Warrior to Korea and represent the U.S. Navy for the 64th anniversary of the Incheon Landing," said Lt. Cmdr. Robert Biggs, commanding officer of Warrior. "By participating in the reenactment, our Sailors gained a better appreciation of the courage and heroism displayed by Korean War veterans 64 years ago. Our alliance with the Republic of Korea remains strong today because we take these occasions to honor the decisive battles that shaped our history together."

The Incheon landing, which occurred between Sept 15-19, 1950, was a daring amphibious assault carried out by a force of 261 allied navy ships and 75,000 UN troops that led to the liberation of Seoul from North Korean forces. The victory was made possible through the sacrifices of UN troops, along with Korean service members who fought side-by-side and laid the groundwork for a military alliance that remains in place today.

"It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of the 64th anniversary of the Incheon Landing," said Rear Adm. Hugh Wetherald, commander of Amphibious Force 7th Fleet. "The amphibious forces of the Seventh Fleet were a vital piece of this historical operation that helped to turn the tide of the war and demonstrate the cooperation and close ties between our services and our nations that we still share today."

Local U.S. Sailors on hand for the ceremony said the event made them appreciate the close bond that exists today between U.S. forces and the Korean people.

"To actually witness the reenactment of how the U.S., ROK and other UN sending states defeated the North Korean military at Incheon was educational on the history of how our alliance began," said Quartermaster 2nd Class William Jones, assigned to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea. "I was really impressed by the support of the Korean people and the camaraderie we shared with them today."

Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea is the regional commander for the U.S. Navy in the Republic of Korea and provides expertise on naval matters to area military commanders, including the Commander, United Nations Command, the Combined Forces Command, and Commander, U.S. Forces Korea.

Navy Medicine Charms in Maryland's Largest City



By Lisa Johnson, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

BALTIMORE (NNS) -- Navy Medicine met with Maryland educators, universities, and prominent medical leaders to discuss shared health care initiatives, and partnerships as part of Baltimore Navy Week, Sept. 9-11.

Rear Adm. Elaine C. Wagner, deputy chief, Wounded, Ill and Injured, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, was the senior medical officer during the visit.

"I have visited many cities during Navy Weeks to showcase our Navy's history and rich heritage, but there's truly something special about the city of Baltimore," said Wagner. "I was sincerely honored and also humbled to represent not only Navy Medicine but the nearly 330,000 active duty Sailors across the entire Navy."

During Wagner's Navy Week outreach, she visited with the renowned orthopedic team of professionals at the Rubin Institute Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. She shared with them about Navy Medicine's commitment to readiness, value and jointness and learned that they are eager to form partnerships in order to deliver the best possible health care to their patients.

"I believe the future success of health care delivery in the U.S. will be dependent upon partnerships. We can no longer afford to operate in discreet silos," said Mark Bittle, director, Rubin Institute Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. "For the benefit of our patients, every opportunity to connect and integrate across the continuum should be explored."

Wagner echoed those same sentiments during her discussion with the Rubin Institute leadership team.

"I am very interested in partnering with civilian organizations," said Wagner. "What our corpsmen and medics have done on the battlefield for more than the last decade has forever changed the way first responders operate. Now, we need to be able to maintain our skills to stay current and proficient. Partnering with like-minded professionals can help us do that."

During a meeting at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Wagner toured the facility and met with leadership and staff to discuss shared initiatives and potential for partnership.

"We were honored that Rear Adm. Wagner chose to spend time at Johns Hopkins during Navy Week, said Melissa A. Teves, senior director, Johns Hopkins U.S. Family Health Plan. "Rear Adm. Wagner and the Johns Hopkins Medicine leaders in attendance identified numerous areas for possible future collaboration between our organizations."

Wagner noted that by working together, the two organizations could achieve much.

"I was fascinated to learn how their medical research is helping to advance and improve lives all over the world," said Wagner. "The things Johns Hopkins has done and is looking to do in the future are amazing. The team at Johns Hopkins could be a great education and research partner."

During a visit to the VA Maryland Health Care System, Wagner met with leadership and discussed their shared dedication to providing quality, compassionate and accessible care to our nations heroes.

"Today's visit is an example of the care that we take to make sure that those who are transitioning from uniform to the civilian sector get the comprehensive care that they need in every way," said Adam Robinson, chief of staff, VA Maryland Health Care System. "Her being here today is just another example of making sure that those who wore the cloth of our nation get the care they deserve."

Robinson, who served as the 36th surgeon general of the Navy and chief of the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, was also pleased to see his former colleague entrusted with this responsibility.

"The sacred trust of care doesn't just exist on the military side; it also exists on the VA side," said Robinson. "I've watched [Rear Adm. Wagner] grow from a junior officer to a very accomplished senior health care executive. It's very rewarding to see someone of her talent and abilities doing the work required to make sure that we effectively transition our veterans and take care of them."

Wagner is grateful and honored for the opportunity to serve so many, but feels that it is her responsibility to do so.

"It's an honor and a privilege to care for the world's most deserving patients who often work in austere and dangerous environments," said Wagner. "Those brave men and women are the reason I go to work every day."

Wagner, also a Navy dentist and graduate of Butler and Indiana Universities, also toured the University of Maryland School of Dentistry during Baltimore Navy Week, met with the Center for the Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills team at Baltimore Shock Trauma and received a demonstration from the award-winning all-girl's robotics team of Western High School.

Navy Medicine is a global health care network of 63,000 Navy medical personnel around the world who provide high quality health care to more than one million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.