Military News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Powering the flight-line

by Airman 1st Class Tammie Ramsouer
JBER Public Affairs


9/30/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- People use electricity every day, whether by turning on a light switch or vacuuming the carpet. For others, it is powering a multi-million dollar flightline and ensuring it stays powered so the mission is accomplished.

The 773d Civil Engineer Squadron Airfield Lighting electricians are hard at work each night to keep the lights lit for the many cargo, fighter, and other aircraft coming in and out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's airfield.

"Our main active runway of the two on JBER, is 10,000 feet in length and 200 feet wide," said Lance Davis 773d CES Airfield Lighting electrician. "The power we use for the runways comes from our electrical substations. Our substations power [more than] 1,500 light fixtures on JBER runways."

The electricians monitor and keep the electricity that powers these lights under control to ensure the right amount of voltage is sent to where it needs to go.

"Commercial power is extremely vital to the mission of the Air Force," said Jefferson Craven, 773d Civil Engineering Squadron Airfield Lighting electrician supervisor.

As airfield lighting electricians, one of their roles is to maintain and upgrade the runway lighting.

"Airfield lighting plays a vital role in launching and recovering aircraft," Craven said. "Without electricity, I can't think of one job that wouldn't be affected."

Currently, the lighting is going through an upgrade from fluorescent lighting to light emitting diode lighting, and has been in the process of upgrades for 10 years, Craven said.

The lighting fixtures currently waiting to be replaced by LED's are consuming 96 watts of power while in use. More than half of the lights have been replaced with the new LED lights, which only consume 8 watts of power.

"The longevity of this new technology also reduces the amount of maintenance time servicing each fixture," Craven said.

The airfield lighting vault, which contains high-voltage cables and back-up lighting fixtures, has also gone through some upgrades as well.

To provide a safer work environment, the exposed 4,160 high voltage wiring has been replaced with an enclosed regulator system, so when the electricians walk inside the vault the high-voltage cables are not exposed.

Craven said their training prepares the crew members for both all-enclosed vaults and vaults where the high-voltage cables are exposed.

To begin their job as an airfield lighting electrician, the newest crew members must go through many evaluations and on-the-job training.

"All employees must accomplish our flightline [driver] training course, which consists of computer based training and must pass with an 80 percent minimum, 40 hours of driving on the flightline with a qualified trainer, day-and night-time orientation,and a medical eye exam to ensure no one is challenged with shade blindness," Craven said. "Once these tasks are accomplished, there is a two-part written exam administered from base operations."

Though 80 percent in required for subsequent exams, a 100 percent is required for the first exam sue to the importance of the tested knowledge. Passing the exam ensures individuals know their location on a map of JBER's flightline and the hazards associated with that location while keeping communications with the control tower.

"If successful with the map test, you're given the second exam," Craven said. "It is over the information associated with driving a vehicle on the flightline and must be passed with an 80 percent minimum."

For the Airmen, their training continues with completing their career development courses and on-the-job-training that includes an interview to better understand what training the Airmen need before they are authorized to work on the lighting systems. This process takes an average of four to six months.

"Training never stops because technology never stops, and as long as we have a need to go to the sky, we will have a need for lighting systems to launch and recover aircraft," Craven said.

Craven said lighting electricians develop a healthy regard for electricity through their training.

"Electricity is a dangerous career field, and you rarely get a second chance if you encounter its power. That is why we conduct so much training," Craven said. "Don't fear electricity, but give it all the respect it is due."

25 AF: New chapter in a storied legacy

by Wayne Amann
25 AF Public Affairs


9/30/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - LACKLAND, Texas -- As the Air Force's premier intelligence organization approaches its 66th Anniversary, it will mark the occasion under a new unit name and structure.

The Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency is now the Twenty-Fifth Air Force, following its re-designation ceremony Sept. 29 in the headquarters Ardisana Courtyard here on Security Hill.

It's the sixth iteration of the organization which was activated as the United States Air Force Security Service in October 1948.

This latest re-designation allows 25 AF, realigned under Air Combat Command, to focus on ISR, electronic warfare, airborne national command and control, nuclear detection and treaty monitoring, targeting and analysis operations. The newest Numbered Air Force will provide decision advantage from those operations, through ACC, to joint commanders, national leaders and coalition partners.

"Placing Twenty-Fifth Air Force under ACC is all about operations effectiveness," said Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of Air Combat Command, who officiated the ceremony. "It'll be the one-stop shop for operational ISR within the Air Force, which will streamline program accuracy and presentation by the Air Force."

As the ISR force provider, ACC can ensure consistent presentation of ISR resources to warfighters.

Maj. Gen. John Shanahan, former Air Force ISR Agency commander, assumed command of 25 AF and presided over the re-alignment of the 55th Wing, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., and the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale AFB, Calif., from 12 AF to 25 AF.

"As we begin to write the next chapter of Air Force ISR, titled Twenty-Fifth Air Force, our legacy will become even richer and even more storied," Shanahan told the courtyard gathering.
"For the first time in Air Force history, ISR will have a 4-star leader with the mandate, force structure and resources to truly maximize the entirety of the vast Air Force ISR enterprise."

Twenty-Fifth Air Force will create an opportunity for greater operational synchronization and greater integration of Air Force ISR products and analysis for the national intelligence community.

"The men and women of Twenty-Fifth Air Force have a tremendous opportunity to shape Air Force ISR in ways I and other AFISRA commanders could only have dreamed of," said Lt. Gen. Robert Otto, Headquarters United States Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and former commander of the Air Force ISR Agency. "I know it's your hard and selfless work that has gotten us to this day. Your leadership, innovation and commitment will deliver success. It's in your DNA."

The newest NAF will also provide an organizational link to strengthen full-spectrum targeting and threat warning to Air Force and Joint Force commanders through ACC.

During the ceremony Otto and Shanahan teamed with AF ISR Agency Command Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman to furl the AFISRA flag which is now a permanent part of the unit's storied heritage. It joined predecessor flags representing the USAF Security Service, the Electronic Security Command, Air Force Intelligence Command and Air Intelligence Agency. Each iteration met growing mission requirements.

Through nearly seven decades its silent warriors have analyzed and exploited near real-time intelligence to provide decision advantage for combatant commanders on the ground and our Nation's leadership.

Today, 25 AF continues that commitment as it meets ever-changing global challenges.

First DOD general officer completes F-35 qualification training

by Samuel King Jr.
Team Eglin Public Affairs


9/30/2014 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- When the wheels of his F-35A Lightning II touched down here around 1 p.m., Sept. 26, Maj. Gen. Jay Silveria became the first Department of Defense general officer to complete qualification training in the joint strike fighter.

Silveria, the commander of the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center at Nellis AFB, Nevada, wrapped up his seven-week training filling approximately five hours of F-35 seat time with back-to-back sorties and a hot pit refuel.

"His qualification training was seamless.  He met all his requirements on the ground and in the air to be a newly qualified F-35 pilot," said Lt. Col. Matt Renbarger, the 58th Fighter Squadron commander and Silveria's trainer.

The general was chosen to become qualified based on his leadership position at the USAFWC and pilot experience.  The center he leads is responsible for current and future F-35A operational testing, tactics development and eventual advanced training exercises and weapons school.

"The Warfare Center is so involved with the development and future of this aircraft that it was important for me to see and experience this new program at the lowest tactical level and bring that knowledge base back to the higher level strategic discussions with groups like F-35 program office and Air Combat Command," said Silveria, a 29-year veteran and F-15 pilot.   "The training provides me insight into the entire spectrum of the F-35 program."

Based on his interaction with the F-35 integrated training center and the 33rd Fighter Wing, he said the Air Force is on the right path forward.

"It is everything we want it to be as far as training our F-35 pilots and maintainers," he said.  "It's only the beginning, but it is easy to see the wing and other services are ready to handle the increase in students as this program begins to grow quickly."

The general said while he was surprised at how easy the aircraft was to fly, the most impressive part of the F-35 is the fifth generation fusion features that will ultimately benefit the warfighter.

"The real upgrade is the integration," said Silveria.  "The fusion of all those flight components in sync with each other was the most impressive.  The communication and navigation work with the flight controls which connect to the radar.  They all come together to make the aircraft that much more capable."

The data and information passing through those integrated systems is constantly being updated.  Many of those updates are built at Eglin in the 513th Electronic Warfare Squadron's F-35 reprogramming lab.  The lab is managed by the 53rd Wing, which reports to the USAFWC.

"The 513th is vital to this program," he said.  "They are not only providing mission data to the Air Force, but for the other services and our allied partners.  They are making world-wide impacts in that little building."

After completing his qualifying flight, Silveria took a moment to reflect on what it was like to fly DoD's newest fighter aircraft.

"It's like seeing into the future," said ACC's former Inspector General.  "We're still at the beginning on so many levels with the flight and employment of this aircraft and we'll continue to improve, but even now what we're seeing is amazing.  After flying it, I just foresee what a powerful weapon it will be."

"I'm confident this program will develop to reach and even go beyond our high expectations.  There's an immense capability here that's going to be amazing."

919th SOW supports newly activated reserve ISR unit

by Dan Neely
919th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs


9/30/2014 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla.  -- A Duke Field-supported intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance unit held a combined activation and assumption of command ceremony Sept. 24 at its new permanent home here.

In a formal ceremony that also saw installation of its inaugural commander, Air Force Reserve Command officially stood up the 28th Intelligence Squadron (the squadron's official activation order was effective April 17).

The unit operates in a Reserve classic association with Hurlburt's active-duty 25th IS and is part of the independent 655th ISR Group at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

Like Duke's 919th Special Operations Wing, the reserve squadron is a subordinate of 10th Air Force, its numbered air force headquarters at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas.  It provides ISR support to Air Force Special Operations Command, and Air Force ISR Agency.

Following the ceremony's unit activation segment, Lt. Col. Joseph Marcinek received the 28th IS command guidon from his boss, Col. Douglas Drakeley, 655 ISRG commander.

Repeating a popular special operations mantra, Marcinek coached his assembled Airmen, "Moderation is for cowards.  I'm putting you on notice now.  Get ready for extremes because we've got a lot of work to do ... and the Air Force and this great country are counting on us."

According to its mission statement, the 28 IS will organize and train to deliver specialized intelligence directly to Air Force Special Operations forces.  It will deliver specialized analysis to U.S. special operations forces as integrated tactical systems operator crew members; ensure mission equipment is properly maintained, configured and loaded; and execute the National Tactical Integration mission and associated collection, analysis and dissemination for mission planning and execution via reach-back.

The squadron is still actively recruiting personnel for its more than 50 positions that include traditional (part-time) and air reserve technician (full-time) reservists in 14 different Air Force specialty codes.

"We will recruit highly motivated, proven performers with great attitudes and strive for the seamless integration of our members into the diverse mission sets of our classic associate unit, the 25th Intelligence Squadron," Marcinek said.

Drakeley and Marcinek praised the 919th SOW for its help in standing up the new unit and for agreeing to provide a wide array of continuous support, including financial management, military pay and force support functions.

"The 919th is an important partner to our Reserve unit, and our mission could not be accomplished without their support," Marcinek said.

Prior to the ceremony, Marcinek was asked how he feels his reservists will contribute to national defense.

"We will augment the AFSOC mission by supplying highly qualified airborne ISR operators, analysts and maintainers who will ultimately provide home station continuity and better dwell rates," he said.  "Reserve personnel have a unique combination of civilian and military work experience.

"We have members who are full-time engineers, managers, teachers, law enforcement, civilian pilots, employed with the Department of Homeland Security and other organizations within the government.  This allows us to provide a cost-effective, experienced force that is both professional and sustainable."

The 28th IS is the last of 11 squadrons to be activated under the 655th ISRG and the only Air Force Reserve ISR squadron within the group supporting special operations.

The squadron traces its origin to the 28th Photographic Laboratory Squadron, activated Aug. 1, 1944 at Dalhart Army Air Field, Texas as part of the 501st Bombardment Group, and the 28th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron, activated  May 1, 1950 at Rapid City (later, Ellsworth) AFB, South Dakota, as part of the 28th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing.

The 28th PLS remained active through the remainder of  World War II, participating in the Japan Air Offensive and was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation before being inactivated February 22, 1946 and later disbanded Oct. 8, 1948.

The 28th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron participated in the atmospheric nuclear testing programs of the Defense Nuclear Agency at the height of the Cold War before being inactivated April 15, 1955.

Acquisition strategy to improve stakeholder relationships, transparency

by Senior Airman Alexander W. Riedel
Air Force News Service


9/22/2014 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition outlined the Air Force procurement priorities at the 2014 Air Force Association's Air & Space Conference and Technology Exhibition here Sept. 16.

In his first address to AFA as assistant secretary, Dr. William A. LaPlante said his aim is to improve upon the services' track record by building stakeholder relationships and transparency.

"The strategy of Air Force acquisition is really the 'what' we want to do ... We want to have a good, effective acquisition process that delivers to the warfighter capabilities that will be with them for years to come and are sustainable and economical," he said.

While previously dramatically understaffed before his arrival to the Pentagon, the secretary said his office is now beginning to reshape its outlook for the future.

"We're at full strength for the first time in more than five years," LaPlante said. "We're now tackling not just the execution, but tackling strategy and moving together to where we need to go with Air Force acquisition."

Part of the initiated changes, LaPlante said, is a reshaping of acquisitions along with the five-center construct restructuring at Air Force Materiel Command.

"One of the benefits of the construct from an acquisition perspective is that the program executive officers, or PEOs, own the life-cycle sustainment for systems. That's a very important thing and a difference in culture and outlook," he said. "When you have to live with what you're building and with the legacy systems that you're replacing, it gives you a totally different view on acquisitions."

Bringing in sustainment and life-cycle support to the acquisitions thinking, LaPlante said there will be a common approach to find the most cost effective program -- not just in the near term but during a program's life cycle.

"I think what you're seeing is a strategic shift, where the Air Force is leading ahead of the other services in having both our PEOs and our headquarters mindful of sustainment," he added. "In regards to depot management, the Air Force is considered to be the best among the services and we want to build upon that success."

LaPlante said going forward, Air Force acquisition will need to follow principles of strategic agility and adaptability and described the five acquisition priorities: getting high priority programs right and keeping them on track; ensuring transparency; owning the technical baseline for important programs; building on "better buying power" to achieve best outcomes; and finally, building a long-term strategy that includes strategic agility.

Listing current progress on top priority acquisitions programs, F-35 Lightning II, the KC-46A Pegasus, and long-range strike bomber, LaPlante said these programs are largely on track without major changes.

The secretary said while an acquisition program is often at the center of scrutiny when there are challenges -- such as the recent engine fire of the F-35 and others -- there are many preconceived misperceptions. Acquisition processes are often complex and explaining them in a way that is clear and concise is a challenge.

"When you look at (Air Force) acquisitions, there are a lot of good things going on," LaPlante said. "We just have to tell those stories."

Part of better telling the acquisition story, he said, is transparency about progress on innovation and modernization programs.

"Development programs take too long," he added. "The average planning is for a five-year program and we end up executing, on average, a seven-year plan. That's true for the other services as well -- and that's not good."

LaPlante further stressed the importance of reducing costs through increased efficiency and effectiveness by reducing time-to-contract award without compromising cost negotiations.

Another part of transparency is working with industry partners in actively developing Air Force programs by connecting warfighter needs with industry expertise.

"We want to bring industry in before we have the requirements figured out," he said. "How can we ask industry to help us innovate if they are not in at the front end when we're working on these concepts?"

Other factors to control cost include empowered, strong program offices who own the technical baseline and data on their programs.

LaPlante also called for adaptability and said that in a changing world, Air Force acquisition needs to be able to adjust to changing requirements.

"Increasing the agility and effectiveness within our acquisition workforce will set us on the right path to meet the dynamic needs of our warfighters," LaPlante added. "It's a great time to be in Air Force acquisition."

Face of Defense: Chicago Soldier Trains in Indonesia



By Army Sgt. Brian Erickson
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2014 – A 19-year-old Army private stands over a smoldering fire, cooking snake meat in the middle of a mango grove during a jungle survival training class in East Java, Indonesia.

In his short time in the Army, Pvt. Juan Gonzalez, a native of Chicago and an infantryman assigned to Blackwatch Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division from Joint Base Lewis-Mchord, Washington, has transformed from a high school athlete to a squad automatic weapon gunner.

The “Legion” battalion is participating in exercise Garuda Shield and is partnered with the 411th Raider Infantry Battalion from the Tentara Nasional Indonesia, the Indonesian armed forces.

Garuda Shield is also part of the training pathway for the 2nd Stryker Brigade, linking home station training to a series of military-to-military exercises in the Pacific region.

Major training exercises

As part of the Legion Battalion, Gonzalez has found himself in two major field exercises in the past year, -- a month spent at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, and now a month in East Java.

The training in California wasn’t easy, Gonzalez said, but he feels it has better prepared him for his time he is spending in Southeast Asia.

“NTC was pretty rough, especially the temperatures and the hours we spent out there,” he said. “Being mentally prepared when the going gets tough, I feel like it has been handy here.”

Killing, eating snakes

One thing that NTC didn’t prepare him for was what he encountered during the jungle survival class on how to properly kill and cook a venomous snake commonly found in the jungles of Indonesia.

“I have a big fear of snakes and never thought I would be eating one,” Gonzalez said. “It was an awesome experience but I will probably never do it again.”

Still in his first unit, Gonzalez has gone from being the new private in the squad to the dependable and reliable SAW gunner within his first year.

“As a SAW gunner you possess the biggest fire power in your squad. It is your responsibility to bring that gun to the fight,” Gonzalez said.

He added that holding such a position means the team leader has trust in him and he has to be a reliable part of the team and know everything about the weapon and how it operates in every type of environment.

“[Gonzalez] is everything a private should be, he is outstanding, that is the reason he is the SAW gunner,” said Sgt. Jeffrey Baldwin, a squad leader with 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry.

Pushing himself to excel

Gonzales says sometimes it gets tough carrying the weapon up hills, but he pushes himself knowing the other guys on the team are counting on him to get that weapon system there.

With his father’s motivation to participate in sports, he knows the importance of being a team player.

“My father always kept me and my younger brother involved in sports since we were old enough to play,” Gonzalez said. “I played football in the fall, and wrestling during the winter.”

“Working with the [Indonesian troops] has been awesome, I have learned a lot of tips from them,” Gonzalez said.

Building friendships with Indonesian troops

It was easy to bond to build friendships with the Indonesian soldiers, Gonzalez said, when you are placed in a harsh environment together, which was the case during their field training exercise portion of Garuda Shield.

The infantryman prides himself on his work ethic and drive.

“I always strive to shoulder my share of the task and then some,” Gonzalez said. “I always strive to be better than I was yesterday.”

Gonzalez says he constantly is setting both short- and long-term goals for himself.

Ranger School

“I want to go to Ranger School, I think it is a great leadership course,” he said. “I feel I could take a lot away from it.”

His squad leader believes he has what it takes to accomplish his goal.

“Gonzalez has the physical potential and the head for it, he has a great chance of passing,” Baldwin said.

On top of graduating Ranger School, Gonzalez wants to earn the Expert Infantry Badge.

Plans to re-enlist

The Chicago native plans on re-enlisting and staying in the Army.

“I feel that the Army is the place for me to be now,” Gonzalez said.

When the exercise in Indonesia ends, his unit will make the trip to Japan to take part in exercise Orient Shield, -- the final stop in the Pacific Pathway -- before making their way back to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

“I really hope that I will be able to get to know and bond with them [Japanese soldiers] like we were able to do with the [Indonesian troops],” Gonzalez said.

USS Boxer Commanding Officer Relieved



From Commander Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The commanding officer of USS Boxer (LHD 4), Capt. Wayne R. Brown, was relieved Sept. 29 by Rear Adm. Frank L. Ponds, Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3, of his duties as commanding officer.

The relief stems from the results of a command investigation into Equal Opportunity concerns, and is not tied to a specific event.

Brown has been temporarily re-assigned to Commander Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Capt. Keith Moore, deputy commodore of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 1, will temporarily assume the duties as CO.

Boxer is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship homeported in San Diego.