Military News

Friday, October 03, 2014

Airman uses LEAP experience to enhance AFSOUTH mission

by Jessica Casserly
12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs


10/3/2014 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB, Ariz. -- The U.S. Air Force is made up of a diversely talented group of people whose personal skill sets often enhance their careers; one Davis-Monthan Airman is using his language and culture skills to support a unique Air Forces Southern mission.

Capt. Kawika Berggren, a C-130 navigator by trade and a fluent Spanish speaker, who is currently serving as the executive officer for the System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces, was accepted into the Language Enabled Airman Program in 2011.

"The Language Enabled Airman Program is meant to facilitate the development and sustainment of foreign language skills of those serving in the Air Force," said Mr. Zach Hickman, the Language Intensive Training Events Program Manager, which is part of LEAP and falls under the Air Force Culture and Language Center at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. "The program is voluntary for Airmen and participants may be accepted for multiple languages. Once a candidate applies, that application is evaluated by the LEAP selection board, which typically meets twice per year."

After receiving an endorsement from his commander and being accepted into LEAP, Berggren traveled to Ecuador for LITE, a program designed to immerse participants in the culture associated with their respective language, as well as bolster their language skills.

"With acceptance into LEAP, which is a life-long program, we're supposed to attend a language intensive or language immersion event within the first 24 months," Berggren said.

In addition to LITE, LEAP participants also take part in eMentor training to further strengthen their language skills and increase their understanding of the cultural elements associated with their respective languages.

"Like any form of training, participation in LEAP enhances and develops the innate language skills and interests of individual Airmen to their fullest potential," Hickman said.

While all of the training and immersion has been personally rewarding, Berggren realized his LEAP experience has the potential to further the Air Force mission as well.

"The entire LEAP program is so that we have cultural SMEEs in different career fields," Berggren said. "I'm a navigator, who is considered a subject matter expert in Latin culture, not only because I speak the language, but because I have been down there learning the culture, going through the history, the mythology and the politics."

A combination of his LEAP training and communication with his commanders about his skill sets and career goals propelled Berggren to his current position with SICOFAA.

"SICOFAA originated in 1961," Berggren said. "The overarching mission [of SICOFAA] today is to promote and strengthen trust, friendship and mutual support among its members. Currently we have 20 member nations from Canada all the way down to Argentina. We also have five observing nations."

Having an understanding of Latin culture and being able to communicate fluently in Spanish, allows Berggren to facilitate SICOFFA exercises and events with these member and observing nations, which promote interoperation for humanitarian and disaster relief.

"This past [air chief's conference], we had a memorandum of understanding for bi-lateral humanitarian and disaster relief assistance," Berggren said. "For example, the earthquake in Haiti, if we had communications with them and if we would have had all of this already set up, we could have sent a message to all of our stations and let them know, 'They had a pretty bad earthquake, be on standby for assistance.' We're trying to guide towards cutting all of that red tape."

Ultimately, preparing Airmen who can effect change and strengthen partnerships through programs such as SICOFAA is what LEAP is all about.

"By identifying Airmen with proficiency, the Air Force gains a ready pool of language-capable individuals across a wide variety of career fields, affording a great deal of flexibility in fulfilling missions requiring language skill," Hickman said.

Team Navy Archers Hit the Bullseye at Warrior Games



By Robin Hillyer-Miles, Fleet and Family Readiness Marketing Public Affairs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (NNS) -- Team Navy scored a gold medal in the individual archery (recurve) competition at the 2014 Warrior Games, Oct. 1, at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Navy Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Jonathan Adviento, who is a first-time Warrior Games competitor, advanced to the quarterfinals after contesting and oversetting a loss in the open shoot off. During the final match, Adviento outscored his Air Force opponent 90 to 87 to win the gold.

"I wasn't nervous at all," said Adviento. "I knew I would be going against seasoned archers with better equipment and better training facilities. All I could do was hope all the hours I spent in my garage and a local outdoor range on weekends would pay off."

"I cannot say enough good things about my competition. They all looked amazing and their performances were top-notch," he added.

Last March, while cleaning his gun after shooting practice, Adviento's left hand was severely injured when his gun accidentally discharged. He has undergone multiple surgeries and therapy, but he still has limited functionality of his hand and arm.

Adviento also was part of Team Navy's three-person archery (recurve) team, which narrowly defeated the Marine Corps 162 to 161 to win the bronze. Navy Machinist's Mate 1st Class Michael Dayton and Navy Chief Logistics Specialist Averill Malone, another first-time Warrior Games competitor, were part of the team, as well.

Navy Counselor 1st Class Misty Taylor, one of the two females competing for Team Navy in archery, enjoyed her first competition after learning to shoot a recurve bow in recreational therapy one year ago.

"Our archery team clicks well and gets each other's sense of humor," she said. "We work well together in both the team and individual events. All the other team coaches and the athletes have been positive and congratulating each other and us."

Taylor added, "it's almost our whole archery team's first year and next year we're coming back and taking all the medals."

Also, Team Navy defeated the Air Force 28 to 20 in wheelchair basketball Wednesday evening, ensuring the team a medal. The team will face off against the Army to determine which team will advance to the finals against the Marine Corps.

Thirty-nine seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors are competing on behalf of Team Navy this year. The Warrior Games are being held Sept. 28-Oct. 4. Approximately 200 wounded warrior athletes are participating in the competition.

Team Navy is sponsored by Navy Wounded Warrior (NWW)-Safe Harbor, the Navy and Coast Guard's wounded warrior support program. The team members have upper-body and/or lower-body injuries, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, visual impairments, serious illnesses and/or post-traumatic stress.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Delivers USS Springfield Ahead of Schedule, Under Budget



From Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Public Affairs

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) delivered USS Springfield (SSN 761) back to the fleet on Sept. 12 ahead of schedule and under budget.

PNSY conducted Springfield's docking continuous maintenance availability off-yard at Sub Base New London in Groton, Connecticut. Although PNSY routinely performs work outside the Kittery, Maine shipyard, off-yard availabilities are unique and an all-inclusive team mentality from planning to execution is especially important.

The Springfield Project Team and Ship's Force, with support from PNSY and the Regional Support Group in Groton, led the submarine's availability. Project Superintendent Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Luteran attributed the successful maintenance availability to teamwork and adhering to project management fundamentals.

"Portsmouth prides itself on first-time quality, and it couldn't have been more evident than the work completed during this maintenance period," said Luteran. "The project team's performance during the docking period enabled us to undock one week early and ride that success into the end game of the availability, returning Springfield to the fleet sooner than expected."

Throughout the docking phase of the maintenance period the project team successfully executed nearly 24,000 man-days of maintenance. This contributed to the delivery of Springfield one day early and $3 million under budget.

"Springfield's project team kept its focus on safety and first-time quality," said Shipyard Commander Capt. William Greene. "It's the team's commitment to excellence that delivers results in submarine maintenance and returns mission-ready submarines back to the fleet on-time and on-budget."

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is the Navy's center of excellence for fast-attack submarine maintenance, modernization, and repair. The on-time or early completion of submarine availabilities are critical in the maintenance of the fleet and are essential to maintaining warfighter readiness. As a field activity of NAVSEA, PNSY is committed to maximizing the material readiness of the fleet by safely delivering first-time quality, on time, and on budget.

621st CRW Airmen, 688 RPOE Soldiers deploy to Liberia in support of Ebola outbreak humanitarian relief operations

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


10/2/2014 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J.  -- A rapid-response team of U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army air and surface mobility specialists deployed to Liberia, Sept. 17, in support of Operation UNITIED ASSISTANCE, a comprehensive U.S. effort to support the World Health Organization and international partners to assist the governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in their efforts to contain the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa.

Approximately 60 members of  the 621st Contingency Response Wing, based at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, and the 688th Rapid Port Opening Element from Joint Base Langley-Eustis,Virginia, merged as a Joint Task Force-Port Opening and began assessment operations at Roberts International Airport, Monrovia, to evaluate the airfield infrastructure.

"The Airmen and Soldiers of our JTF-PO team train together on a routine basis for missions such as these," said Air Force Lt. Col. Kyle Benwitz, JTF-PO contingency response element commander. "When the call came in, we were ready and able to assist the host nation's residents in their moment of need."

The JTF-PO specializes in rapidly establishing hubs for cargo distribution operations worldwide, to include remote or damaged locations, on short notice. Previous deployments include humanitarian assistance support missions to Haiti, Pakistan and Japan, and contingency deployments in support of military operations in Eastern Europe, Afghanistan and South America.

AFGSC on path to modernize ICBM sustainment

by Kate Blais
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs


10/3/2014 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- In an ongoing effort to better manage the sustainment of intercontinental ballistic missiles, Air Force Global Strike Command has implemented an ICBM Parts Centralized Funding Program designed to help alleviate budgetary pressure on missile wing leadership.

Leaders in the ICBM community have applauded this effort as one of the most important improvements to ICBM sustainment activities since ICBMs went on alert in 1960.

The centralized funding program is AFGSC's first attempt to bring funding used for purchasing missile system parts, which previously resided at the wing, up to the major command level. As of Oct. 1, the beginning of the 2015 fiscal year, AFGSC is responsible for day-to-day funding of the weapon system's parts costs.

"What happened before was that wings had to choose between whether or not to buy a missile part or buy something to support their people," Daryle Fry, AFGSC ICBM program analyst said. "That is a choice a wing commander shouldn't have to make."

Any item that an ICBM technical order covers is considered part of the weapon system and will be centrally funded. Basically, anything used in direct support of the weapons system is covered, Fry said.

"As of Oct. 1, a technician can go into supply and ask to order a part without being concerned about funding," Fry explained. "The wing orders the parts they need, and the bill gets sent to AFGSC. Wing commanders can focus more on their people and support structure and 20th Air Force won't have to worry about advocating to command to find funding for parts."

The shift in funding responsibility not only decreases the sustainment burden that once resided at the wing level, but will allow AFGSC to determine the weapon system's true requirements.

"Before I couldn't tell you what the true requirement was, because in the old days the requirements were based off of funding availability and parts orders were deferred sometimes to pay for other priorities," Fry said. "Now unit funding availability is not really a factor anymore; requirements will be driven by a true weapon system need."

Fry expects the centralized funding to remain at AFGSC for about a year while the command determines the requirements. After, funding will be elevated up to Headquarters Air Force and ICBMs will be funded like the service's other weapon systems.

"The entire Air Force is aging, but while the rest of the Air Force moved on with sustainment, ICBMs did not, but we're changing that now," said Lawrence Kingsley, Logistics, Installations and Mission Support director at AFGSC. "My priority is to modernize how the ICBMs are maintained and sustained. This centralized funding program is part of that effort, and will allow AFGSC to become proactive as opposed to reactive in our approach to managing the ICBM force."

This program will not only help AFGSC determine the true requirements, but Fry anticipates that it will fix a lot of second and third order effects that cause improper weapons sustainment, he said.

"It fixes supply issues that aren't addressed until the last minute," he continued. "It allows us to do programming and budgeting because we'll have accurate information on what our true requirement is. We'll have forward thinking plans and better life cycle management."

In the long run, this program will start to reverse the effects of failing equipment, which will in turn reduce man hours, increase weapon system reliability and improve the overall performance of the weapon.

The effort began in 2009 when AFGSC became the Air Force's newest MAJCOM and merged the ICBM and bomber communities. Combining the two legs of the nuclear triad allowed for cross-flow of information and ways of doing business.

"I believe we've moved off the island and moved onto a continent," Fry said. "That has broadened our perspectives and horizons to see that there's other ways of doing things more efficiently. There's better ways to do things and make Airmen's life easier in the field."

Better ways of doing things locally have impacts globally.

"ICBMs are on alert underground 24/7, 365, and have been for more than 50 years," Kingsley said. "ICBMs are the cheapest insurance policy this nation has and the ultimate defense against strategic attack. For that reason it is imperative that we work to maintain and sustain these weapons in the most effective and efficient way possible."

Airmen celebrate 50 years of civil engineering heritage

by Senior Airman Franklin R. Ramos
97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


10/2/2014 - ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Airmen from the 97th Civil Engineer Squadron celebrated their Air Force heritage at a briefing Oct. 1, 2014.

Oct. 1, 1964 was the birth of the Prime Base Engineering Emergency Force and Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer units established Oct. 12, 1965, in Air Force history.

"The purpose of this briefing was to inform the wing of the heritage of both the Prime BEEF and RED HORSE units," said Tech. Sgt. Randy Crum, 97th NCO in charge of pavements and heavy equipment. "It shows some of the history of how they developed and some important events that have occurred within the two units."

The U.S. Air Force primarily established Prime BEEF to support combat and warfighting teams. They also responded to peacetime tasking's such as major accidents, training exercises and natural disasters.

"The first Prime BEEF team out of Myrtle Beach AFB, S.C., was deployed within seven months of being established," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brooke Byerley, 97th engineering assistant. "They were deployed to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic to help bed down personnel. In 1965 they were also deployed to three bases in Vietnam to help build 12,000 linear feet of revetments for aircraft."

"For operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, 3,000 Prime BEEF members bedded down about 55,000 people and 1,200 aircraft," said Byerley. "In operation Iraqi Freedom about 18,000 Prime BEEF personnel helped open and expand 22 bases on nearly 200 sites which supported not just the Air Force, but all services."

RED HORSE is a highly mobile self-sustaining unit that encompasses its own services personnel, security forces and vehicle maintenance. They are a deployable heavy engineer repair squadron.

"All of those things are within a RED HORSE unit so when one deploys which is what it was primarily designed to do, it's entirely self-contained, it runs itself. It doesn't require any outside support whatsoever from any other unit," said Crum. "It's one of the first units on the ground when we go to a new location."

They are responsible for the major projects being constructed at new locations.

"We do large scale projects from nothing such as setting up a bare base camp, a new forward operating base and living quarters," said Crum.

For the past 50 years these two units have been crucial assets to the U.S. Air Force by constructing facilities and flightlines for new bases, assisting with natural disaster relief and even supporting humanitarian needs.

JBSA-Lackland systems administrator earns silver medal at Invictus Games

by Jose T. Garza III
JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs


10/3/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas  -- A 59th Medical Support Squadron systems administrator earned a silver medal as a member of the United States Armed Forces National Team at the first ever Invictus Games, Sept. 12 in London.

Staff Sgt. Mark Johnson earned the medal competing in Wheelchair Rugby after the U.S. national team suffered a 13-12 loss to the United Kingdom. Despite coming up short in the gold medal game, Johnson said his experience in London was amazing.

"It was cool because it was my first major international competition," the staff sergeant said. "It was a dream come true to perform on an international stage."

The Invictus Games was started by Prince Harry of Wales after he attended the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo. The games featured teams from 13 nations comprised of injured active duty and veteran service members who competed in track & field, wheelchair rugby and basketball, archery, indoor rowing, road cycling, seated volleyball, powerlifting and swimming.

Johnson, whose right leg was amputated following a motorcycle accident in April 2013, described the close-scoring gold medal game as "intense."

"It was two superpowers going against each other, and the fans were going crazy," he said. "(Not winning the gold) was heartbreaking but not too much because we took the silver medal and represented our country the best we could."

Johnson became aware of the Invictus Games via the Air Force Wounded Warrior program. The program encouraged him to participate in the South Texas Area Regional Adaptive and Paralympic Sports program in February following his recovery at the Center for the Intrepid at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston. He said competition helped him with his recovery.

"I was in rehab for seven months and learned to walk again while gaining my strength and balance back," Johnson said. "Competing in this event showed that I can lead a normal life and there are no limits to what I can accomplish as long as I put the dedication and work in."

Johnson said he will resume training in October for the 2015 Warrior Games trials and hopes to compete in next year's Invictus Games.

Air Force rebuts report due to outdated data



 Published October 02, 2014

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force believes a recent Department of Defense Inspector General report that critiqued Air Force MQ-9 procurement plans to buy 401 Reaper aircraft, stating that 46 aircraft may not be needed, is based on data that is out of date.

"The data in the report is a year old," said Lt Gen Robert Otto, Air Force deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. "The Air Force is only buying 346 aircraft, 55 fewer than the 401 figure contained in the report and we've only received about half that number.  The projected total Reaper fleet of 346 is far less the service had originally estimated prior to sequestration."

The Air Force was acting expeditiously upon direction from the Secretary of Defense to procure enough aircraft to meet the increasing number of combat air patrols the Service was being tasked to provide.   

The Air Force requested funds to procure 83 more of the ISR workhorse in its fiscal year 2015 President's Budget Request.

With its significant loiter time, wide-range sensors, multi-mode communications suite and precision weapons, the MQ-9 provides a unique capability to perform strike, coordination and reconnaissance against high-value, fleeting and time-sensitive targets.

"There isn't a Combatant Commander that doesn't want more of this capability," said Col. Ed Thomas, spokesman for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  "The need for ISR remains a top requirement for our theater commanders and our national leaders."

A dynamic and volatile threat environment created a demand for the platform.

"The MQ-9 has played a vital role in combat operations and has resulted in saving American and coalition lives overseas," said Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers.  "This is a capability that is in high demand."

"The MQ-9 Reaper is a success story," said Otto. "The soldiers and Marines love it. Combatant Commanders want more of it. We’re working hard to make more, as directed by the Secretary of Defense.”

The aircraft has made significant contributions to mission success.

“The MQ-9 has made tremendous contributions in combat operations, which has saved countless American and coalition lives, said Otto. “Over its lifetime, the Reaper has flown nearly 700,000 hours, most of those in combat operations, and continues to prove its worth daily in operations over Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa."