Military News

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Paratroopers train with SUSVs to prepare for winter ops

by Sgt. Brian Ragin
4/25th IBCT Public Affairs


10/9/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Spartan paratroopers with the 725th Brigade Support Battalion (Airborne), 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, participated in a small unit support vehicle driver's training course in preparation for the upcoming winter months at the Malemute Drop Zone Oct. 2.

The SUSV is a tracked, articulated vehicle designed to support infantry platoons and similar-sized units during operations in arctic and alpine environments and conditions. The SUSV can be used in all types of unimproved terrain, such as rocky and boulder-covered land, bog, marsh and water, and can operate in environments varying from arctic cold to tropical heat.

"I think that the SUSV is definitely going to help out with winter operations," said Army Staff Sgt. Nicholas Lucas, the master driver for A Company, 725th BSB. "The more [SUSVs] that we have during winter operations, the more the unit is going to benefit."

The SUSV driver's training is a week-long course. It includes a 40-hour block of instruction taught in classroom and in a field environment. The last three days are spent driving the vehicle. The trainees practiced driving in parking lots with orange-cone obstacles, then headed out to the Malemute DZ's rough terrain to experience the vehicle's capabilities. The final day is a road test when, if they pass, a certificate of completion is awarded.

"I enjoyed the class," said Spc. Andrew James, a Tampa, Florida, native, and a B/725th BSB SUSV mechanic. "It's different from the daily task that we normally do, to get to drive a piece of equipment like this [SUSV] on terrain that I honestly didn't think it could drive through."

"During winter operation out here, [Malemute Drop Zone] gets pretty nasty," Lucas said. "Our [light medium tactical vehicles] and cargo trucks are going to get stuck in the snow and mud, and it's going to be a hard time getting them out, and the SUSV will do just that."

The average annual snowfall at JBER is 68.48 inches, which makes for difficult navigation across unimproved terrain, especially at the drop zone.

"We're an airborne brigade combat team," Lucas said. "We're going to drop heavies. PFAR [2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment] is going to drop their guns. We're going to drop our Humvees. In order to get those pallets out of there, off the drop zone, and get back to the unit 100-percent accountable, a big part of that is going to be the SUSV dragging those pallets back."

Coast Guard exercises spill response with other agencies

by Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert
Sector Anchorage Public Affairs


10/9/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- From its extreme weather to its remote communities and limited infrastructure, Alaska can present many challenges for response agencies in times of crisis. Plans for how to remove pollution or conduct a rescue at the edge of the Last Frontier are becoming increasingly important as the state sees more maritime traffic through its ports and waterways. That's why the Coast Guard, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and city of Unalaska came together with industry members from North Pacific Fuel and Alaska Chadux Corporation to conduct Aleutians PREP Exercise 2014 in Dutch Harbor, Sept. 24 and 25.

Aleutians PREP Exercise 2014 was part of the national Preparedness for Response Exercise Program and entailed the deployment of oil spill response equipment and a full-scale, government-led, multi-agency exercise that tested the agencies' ability to respond to a simulated fuel spill while navigating the limitations of working from the isolated island town of Unalaska.

"The exercise was designed to evaluate the capabilities and effectiveness of the federal on-scene coordinator, Alaska state on-scene coordinator, the Aleutians Area Committee and local and industry partners," said Jackie Stephens, Coast Guard Force Readiness Command Exercise Support lead for Aleutians PREP Exercise 2014. "This exercise provides the response community an opportunity to improve preparedness by validating information and procedures within their contingency plans."

The scenario for the exercise,  which involved a massive diesel fuel spill caused by a landslide at the North Pacific Fuel terminal in Unalaska,  provided many challenges for responders. Besides the obvious task of removing the diesel and rescuing impacted wildlife, federal, state, local and industry members had to figure out how to get equipment and personnel on scene while dealing with limited communications, sparse lodging, vast distances and poor weather conditions.

"Participants in the exercise were evaluated on their ability to effectively respond to the scenario and also on their ability to work around the challenges inherent to working in a remote location," said Coast Guard Capt. Paul Mehler, federal on-scene coordinator and Sector Anchorage commander. "The Coast Guard and our partner agencies have a responsibility to the safety of Alaska's residents and the accessibility of its ports no matter how secluded so we need to be prepared for situations that test both our skill and our ingenuity."

Upon completion of the Sept. 24 exercise, personnel deployed spill response equipment Sept. 25 in order to test the readiness of response and cleanup crews from North Pacific Fuel and Alaska Chadux Corporation. The entrance to the Iliuliuk River was boomed off and skimmers were operated from both the shore and a Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System after the area was examined by a state historical properties specialist from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.

"It's important for responders to have a working knowledge of how to operate spill-response equipment, but it's equally important that these exercises are conducted in a way that doesn't endanger or adversely affect historical sites or environmentally sensitive areas," said Coast Guard Lt. Matthew Mitchell, Coast Guard Sector Anchorage planning department chief.

At the end of the exercise and equipment deployment, planners, evaluators and participants gathered or contributed feedback on performance and suggestions for future response efforts. Aleutians PREP Exercise 2014 may have only been a simulation, but the lessons learned may give responders the edge they need to quickly and successfully tackle a real spill if that day comes.

Former CSAF Fogleman honored today for contributions to air power

by By Karen Petitt
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


10/9/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- Rainy weather couldn't dampen the spirits of those who attended the unveiling of a bronze bust of former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, who was recognized today for his contributions to the air mobility community.

"I'm humbled by this honor," said Fogleman, who joined the ranks of other legendary mobility leaders in the Airlift Tanker Association's Hall of Fame. "However, these ceremonies are not about the individual.  Credit goes to the A/TA for the idea of recognizing people who contribute to the overall mission and through this program keeping our history alive.  The tribute also goes to all the great men and women who have made the mobility mission what it is today."

Rain had caused the first part of the ceremony to be moved indoors where retired Gen. Arthur Lichte, former AMC commander, and Gen. Darren W. McDew, current AMC commander, paid tribute to him.

Litche explained how Fogleman could in fact be inducted into a "fighter pilot hall of fame" with his Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Crosses and the many other accolades that are his.  Yet, since Fogleman drove through those Scott gates in 1992, "mobility blood has flowed through his veins."

"He's the one who put this command on the right path," said Litche, who also served as the Air Force's vice chief of staff from 2005-2007.  "He brought [AMC] to a whole new level of respect throughout the Air Force, and he did it by doing the things that come naturally to him, such as teaching.  He not only set the standard, but also taught them to all of us.  He set standards for base appearance and for how we would manage our ops tempo.  He demonstrated leadership in all he did for our community, and he deserves to be on this Walk of Fame along with the others who we try to emulate because they worked to make our Air Force better."

McDew reflected on how Fogleman laid the foundation for the DNA of today's Air Force in establishing the core values with the very traits that define Fogleman as a leader:  Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do.

"[Those values] are the fabric of our lives," said McDew.  "You should be justifiably proud of the organization you commanded, but even more proud of the Airmen who carry your legacy today."

Fogleman acknowledged other former Hall of Fame inductees and commanders who were present at the ceremony that included retired Gen. Tom Ryan who commanded the Military Airlift Command before it was reorganized to AMC, as well as retired Gens. Duane Cassidy, James Baginski, Tony Robertson and Duncan McNabb.

"If you look at the whole list of recipients, you'll see that most of them spent a lot more time in the tanker/airlift business than I did.  Having spent 29 and a half years in the fighter world, Miss Jane and I arrived here to be the commander in chief of U.S. Transportation Command and commander of Air Mobility Command, something I didn't anticipate at all in my career . . . nor did I fully appreciate until I became part of this tremendous team.

"All my life whenever I needed a tanker, I just looked on my flight card to find out where and when to meet up," he said.  "I never realized how much went into these missions and the extreme ops tempo that existed within the command."

Fogleman recalled how former MAC commander Gen. Robert "Dutch" Huyser told him "he would grow to love the mission and the people."  From that day on Fogleman said he was welcomed into the mobility community and quickly worked to advocate the command's issues and contributions to the Air Force.

Since then and under his leadership, the command accomplished many significant achievements to include the revitalization of the use of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet program, to assuming a new aeromedical evacuation mission and developing the Department of Defense's process for patient movement.  His contributions to the command are vast and the full write up with which he was recognized in 2013 can be found at www.atalink.org. 

The weather cleared up just in time for the entire group to walk outdoors for the unveiling of Fogeleman's bust on the Walk of Fame.  Before doing so, Fogleman explained why he chose to be portrayed in the battle dress uniform.

"There are two reasons.  First I felt that we, as a headquarters, weren't focused on what we were doing for the nation.  Air Mobility Command in 1992 had more men and women in harm's way in more places throughout the world than any other command in the Air Force.  I decided that we were going to drive this point home so our uniform of the day would be BDUs until there were no more men and women in our command in harm's way.  Second, if you know what the birds do to the statues out there, then you'll understand why I want a cap on. If a bird wants to get to my face, he's got to work on it.  And, working on it is what AMC is all about!"

Spartans welcome forward support company

by Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Smith
4/25th IBCT Public Affairs


10/9/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Paratroopers with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, welcomed some new comrades into the Spartan Brigade during a reflagging and re-patching ceremony Oct. 1 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

The 725th Brigade Support Battalion formally added a new forward support company, attaching it to the 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion during the ceremony.

The new logistics support company, Echo Company, transferred into the 4/25th IBCT from U.S. Army Alaska's 6th Engineer Battalion, 2d Engineer Brigade, as part of the larger Army-wide force restructuring currently underway.

The unit will bring direct support to the 425th BSTB in the way of equipment maintenance, fuel and ammunition supply.

The FSC was originally constituted into the 2nd Engineer Brigade in 2008 at Fort Richardson and has supported operations around the world to include missions in Micronesia, the Philippines and Australia.

The unit, composed mostly of qualified parachutists, will continue to train in airborne operations as it joins the Spartan Brigade. The 4/25th IBCT, one of five airborne brigades in the Army, has undergone extensive airborne training this year. The unit has coordinated with not only its joint Air Force partners at JBER, but also with Air Force units from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington , and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The additional aircraft have allowed the Spartan Brigade to schedule large packages of personnel and equipment drops, leading to greater brigade-wide efficiency and ability in airborne operations.

"It's awesome, we get to jump more now," said Army Staff Sgt. Danny Uk, a section sergeant with Echo Company. "And we can provide support to the whole battalion. Our guys are motivated and we will bring a lot of capabilities to our new team."

Echo Company's leadership expressed confidence in the unit's ability to conduct operations and its dependability.

"We have competent and capable NCOs and Soldiers," said 1st Sgt. William Plachinski, Echo Company's first sergeant. "We have a great track record of servicing and maintaining equipment as well as providing fuel and ammunition distribution, and we intend to bring those same qualities and attributes to the 4/25."

Air Force personnel changes call for proactive Airmen

JBER PAO staff report

10/9/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Air Force members will see changes to the Air Force Development Education, the Enlisted Evaluation System, and the Weighted Airman Promotion System, which have begun. They will continue over the next 18 months for active duty; next 30 months for both Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard as part of a comprehensive personnel overhaul.  Air Force officials are asking Airmen to be proactive and be on the lookout for upcoming changes.

Weighted Airman Promotion System
In August 2014, the Air Force announced a series of changes to the Weighted Airman Promotion System, slated to be implemented in the coming months, which will focus on improving the enlisted evaluation and promotion process to ensure promotions are based on performance.

"We want to make sure performance is the most important thing in every aspect of an Airman's career," said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. "So the evaluation process is going to measure performance and the promotion system is going to emphasize performance."

During Phase 1 of the changes to WAPS, the calculation for technical sergeant and below promotion will use the three most recent evaluations. The most, intermediary and least recent Enlisted Performance Reports will weigh as 60 percent, 30 percent and 10 percent respectively, increasing the maximum possible EPR points from 135 to 250. Time-in-grade and time-in-service points will decrease during the next several years to ensure promotions are base on performance. However, the decorations, specialty knowledge test and the promotion fitness examination points under WAPS will not change at this time, according to the Air Force Personnel Services report.

The top 60 percent of Airmen, who score the highest in their Air Force specialty code, will move on to Phase 2, where their record will be reviewed by an evaluation board.

"The commanders will have force distribution where they will recommend members eligible for promotion, when the new EPR is implemented," said Air Force Master Sgt. Carrie Rowland, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson career assistance advisor. "Members who were not placed in the top 60 percent of their AFSC will be non-selected for promotion."

Rowland said Airmen should be up to speed with the changes and ask questions. As the CAA, Rowland offers guidance to all enlisted personnel and their spouses on matters pertaining to retraining, special duty assignments and benefits. The CAA will assist the enlisted force when it comes to making informed decisions about each individual's career.

"So the important take away from this is for members to be aware of all the changes in [Air Force instructions 36-2406, Officer and Enlisted Evaluation System, and 36-2301, Developmental Education] that govern those changes and timelines," Rowland said.

Starting in November, static EPR closeout dates based on current grade will be used for each rank tied to regular Air Force promotion eligibility cut-off dates. The static dates and new EPR form (when released) will enable the implementation of the force distribution and restricted-stratification policy and result in more accurate, useful performance-based evaluation. The new reports include a section for promotion recommendations that will curb inflation. Chief master sergeants will see the static enlisted performance report closeout dateson May; senior master sergeants in July; master sergeants in September; technical sergeants in November; staff sergeants in January; and senior airman and below in March.

Professional Military Education
In addition to the Enlisted Evaluation System and promotion changes, the Professional Military Education program is also going to focus on a blending approach from in-residence training to distance learning.

"The blended approach is the most effective approach; it is more adaptable [and] we can deliver it to more Airmen," said Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody, during the 2014 Air Force Association's Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition. "We can make sure that every component of our Air Force has access to it in an equal way, where we don't have to prioritize one over the other because of the cost associated with it."

The PME curriculum will facilitate using a two-part process. The first portion is going to be a distance-learning course known as Course 15 for noncommissioned officers and Course 14 version 6 for senior noncommissioned officers, said Air Force Master Sgt. Levi Roberston, PME Center director of operations.

All Airmen who finished Phase 1 - in-resident Airman Leadership School - are required to meet the basic learning requirement for PME through distance learning. NCOs beginning at the seven-to-12 year time-in-service window need to enroll in the Phase 2 Distance Learning, while Phase 3 will meet the basic requirement for the Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy beginning at the 12-to-18 year time-in-service window after completing and passing Phase 2. They will have 12 months to complete the course. An Airman who fails to enroll, completeor pass Phase 2 and 3 are ineligible to reenlist and compete for promotion until they meet the requirement.

"These courses are self-paced, but must be completed within 12 months of enrollment," Robertson said. "Completing these courses prepares NCOs and SNCOs for in-residence PME by assisting them in a higher comprehension level of lesson principles prior to in-residence
attendance."

After the completion of the distance learning Phase 2 or Phase 3, eligible Airmen can be scheduled to attend in-residence PME.

The comprehensive in-residence requirements for PME are no longer a requirement for promotion. "As we transition into the new curricula, there is a chance that not everyone will have a chance to attend PME in-residence," Robertson said. "As of now, this will not be a limiting factor when it comes to promotion. Completing rank-appropriate distance learning courses, Course 15 and Course 14 version 6, will ensure that members' records reflect completion to be eligible for promotion."

The comprehensive portion of Noncommissioned Officer Academy is called the Intermediate Leadership Experience, and the Senior Non-commissioned Officer Academy is called the Advanced Leadership Experience.

Members attending the ILE and ALE in-residence are going to focus on group interaction, leadership exercises, and communication. No testing is going to be administered at the end of these courses, as members already completed distance learning Phase 2 'Course 15,' and Phase 3 'Course 14 version 6.'

The requirement for NCOs who are eligible for Phase 2 NCOA ILE are for technical sergeant selects and non-selects across AFSCs who have a minimum of eight years and no more than 12 years TIS. While Phase 3 SNCOA ALE is a resident opportunity for all senior master sergeants, selects and non-selects across AFSCs who have a minimum of 13 years and no more than 18 years TIS.

"Those members in their window [distance learning Phase 2 and Phase 3 window] need to self-enroll on the Air University student information system website [https://auportal.maxwell.af.mil/auportal/welcome.airuniversity]," Robertson said.

Robertson's advice is for members to be proactive.

"If you are a technical sergeant with fewer than 11 years time-in-service and have not completed NCOA, you should already be enrolled and working on Course 15," Robertson added. "SNCO, if you completed the old Course 14 and plan on attending the SNCOA, you need to complete Course 14 version 6. These distance learning courses are not easy; they will take studying and time management to be successful. Our goal in PME is to guide our future Air Force leaders into becoming more efficient operational and strategic thinkers. This PME transition will help make this goal happen."

For more information about the enlisted evaluation system and WAPS, visit the myPers website at https://mypers.af.mil. Select "search all components" from the drop down menu and in the search window enter "27948" for enlisted evaluation changes or "27949" for enlisted promotion changes. For information about PME changes, please read AFI 36-2301, Developmental Education.

Editor's note: Information for this story from myPers and AFI 36-2301, Developmental Education

Chemistry students get real-world lesson from 140th Emergency Management

by Capt Kinder Blacke
140th Wing Public Affairs


10/3/2014 - LITTLETON, Colo. -- Students at Rock Canyon High School witnessed exactly how the science they are learning in class is used daily by emergency management professionals in the Colorado Air National Guard Sept. 23.

Master Sgt. Jared Hiles, emergency manager, 140th Wing, shared his expertise and equipment with high school students whose science teacher, Mr. Bart Blumberg, is also a Traditional Guardsmen and Staff Sergeant in the 140th Maintenance Squadron.

On a day-to-day basis, Hiles ensures the 140th Wing is prepared to respond to and recover from a wide array of hazards. He is also a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear defense specialist and conducts CBRN defense training and performs Hazardous Material response.

Blumberg, who recently graduated from Colorado State University and started teaching at Rock Canyon High School, was formerly a member of the Emergency Management Flight for six years. He realized that many of the tools he used in EM were developed with the science he was currently teaching his students.

Hiles explained that part of the Core curriculum at RCHS is to not only teach the students the material, but to also show them how what they have learned is being used in real world applications.

"I invited Master Sgt. Hiles to talk to the class because of my experience working with him and his knowledge of the career field," Blumberg said.  "He is extremely knowledgeable about Emergency Management both as a career field in the Air Force, and its applications in the civilian sector."

Blumberg wanted the students to apply the concepts he had taught them in class. "It is important for them to know that this information can be carried outside of the classroom," he said, and Hiles' diverse and unique knowledge base helped the students to further understand the concepts and their application.

Since the science department just learned about light and nuclear chemistry, Hiles brought in some chemical detection equipment that uses infrared spectroscopy and some radiation detectors to reinforce those lessons in Blumberg's classes.

Based on the students' reactions, they really enjoyed the presentation, seeing the different kinds of equipment and hearing actual stories of where they were used. "A lot of them left with either new knowledge or new ways of thinking about prior knowledge," Blumberg said. The majority also enjoyed seeing and working with equipment during the hands-on portion of the class.

Hiles enjoyed it as well. "Talking to students at RCHS was an amazing experience," he said. "I have always enjoyed teaching CBRN to military members, but this was a little more fulfilling because at the end of the day, it felt like I had shown a majority of the students that there are multiple applications in multiple career fields in the civilian world that use light and radioactive material."

Blumberg fully agreed. "Students are able to grasp the concepts more when they see it as it can relate to them in the real world," he said. "It is also important for the students to see there are many opportunities both within and outside of the military where they can use this information."

Sometimes it's hard to relate how chemistry can be applied to professions other than chemists, so Hiles was happy that the kids were interested and engaged. "It was fulfilling to see some of the students light up when they realized that what they had learned could apply to what they want to do in life," He said. "Also, it is always a great thing to be out in the community in uniform and representing the Colorado Air National Guard in a positive way."

Blumberg, like all of Colorado's Citizen Soldiers, represents the COANG in a positive way every day with his students since he is not only their teacher, but also an Airman. "I try not to talk about my military life too much, however, if there is an opportunity where I can correlate my military experiences with the material to make it more relevant, I do that when I can."

While this was not a recruiting event, Hiles is confident it was a worthwhile endeavor. "For the students to know that we weren't there trying to recruit them, but to actually teach them, really put a lot of them at ease. They seemed to focus on the equipment and technology more than the uniform," he said. "Even if we don't get any recruits out of this, I know that there is a new generation coming up that will better understand what the COANG can do and we will have continued support for and from our community."

BMT trainees complete last run on closing obstacle course

by Senior Airman Krystal Jeffers
502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs


10/9/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas  -- Air Force basic military trainees completed the obstacle course at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland for the last time before it closed Sept. 24.

A new course, called the Leadership Reaction Course, was integrated into Creating Leaders, Airmen, and Warriors - or CLAW - mission at basic expeditionary Airmen's training, also known as BEAST week, at JBSA-Lackland Medina Annex and became fully operational Sept. 29.

"The obstacle course has a long history at the Air Force's basic military training," said Col. Michele Edmondson, 737th Training Group and BMT commander. "It affords the trainee an opportunity to dig deep within themselves and realize they are stronger than they think. It builds their self-confidence as they proceed throughout the course. The CLAW builds on this by developing teamwork and leadership skills as well."

"The change is a new element in BMT's move from an eight and a half week program to a seven and a half week program and the transition from the obstacle course to the CLAW allows us to consolidate all like training during BEAST week," Edmondson continued. "This frees up the eighth week for a transition week between graduation and technical training where new Airmen will be afforded the time to reflect and develop their Core Values."

The original obstacle course, which was built in November 1942, was about a mile to a mile and a half long depending on what obstacles were open. Of the 14 obstacles, the two water obstacles would close seasonally affecting the course length.

The new course is 1.3 miles and takes trainees two to two and a half hours to complete. Previously, the trainees completed the obstacle course individually, but CLAW will require the Airmen to work together in teams.

"The CLAW is about completing the course as a team," said Edmondson. "It's a mission oriented course where a team of 24 trainees complete a series of checkpoints to complete an objective."

The new course checkpoints include more than just physical goals, which is a difference compared to the original obstacle course.

"The CLAW course maintains the challenges of the obstacle course while adding in teamwork, communication, and problem solving skills," said Edmondson. "The teamwork and leadership roles that will now be incorporated will challenge trainees and invoke thought in real-world battlefield scenarios."

"It requires the trainees to actually work together vs just being physically strong and motivated," added Tech. Sgt. Richard Harding, 319th Training Support Squadron military training instructor and NCO in charge of the obstacle course. "The new course adds many more scenarios which will require them to use skills like self-aid buddy care, CRP, wingman-ship and teamwork. They get to apply foundational expeditionary skills training like tactical formation movements, low and high crawling, basic defense, force protection conditions, and weapon fighting techniques. Basically, they will be applying everything they learned in BMT."

The differences in obstacles, however, weren't the only changes made to invoke real-world scenarios and simulate a deployed location.

"At the old course, the obstacles were completed without their (M-16 trainer) weapons," Harding elaborated. "Now, they run with their gear (Kevlar vest and helmet) and have their weapons so there is more real-life application."

According to the 737th TRG, there are currently no plans in place for the old obstacle course to be demolished or re-purposed.

Altus Airmen deliver aid to Liberia

by Airman 1st Class Nathan Clark
97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


10/9/2014 - ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Ten Airmen from the 97th Air Mobility Wing delivered humanitarian and medical supplies to Liberia Sept. 25 - Oct. 3, 2014, in support of Operation United Assistance to provide aid to the Ebola stricken region.

The Ebola virus epidemic has grown since March 2014, killing thousands in Africa and presenting a threat to the world. President Barack Obama has stated the U.S. will be leading the effort to fight the virus using a civilian-led, whole-of-government approach.

This approach gave Altus Air Force Base, a base dedicated to training pilots, loadmasters and inflight refueling boom operators, an opportunity to help with a real-world issue.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Will McDougall, assistant director of operations with the 58th Airlift Squadron, said six instructor pilots and four instructor loadmasters with the 58th took more than 180,000 pounds of medical and humanitarian aid in two C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft.

The medical supplies were taken to a nearby hospital and the humanitarian supplies were taken to a site near the airport in Monrovia, the country's capital, said U.S. Air Force Maj. Mathew Foss, a formal training unit evaluator pilot with the 58th. The humanitarian supplies were intended for living quarters being built for U.S. Army Soldiers, which will be adjacent to a field hospital being set up near the airport.

"We were very well received and our help was clearly appreciated by the residents," said McDougall. "They were eager to get the supplies. That was the most rewarding thing to see."

President Obama met with his senior advisors Oct. 6 to review the U.S. response to the epidemic. "As I've said from the start of this outbreak, I consider this a top national security priority. This is not just a matter of charity - although obviously the humanitarian toll in countries that are affected in West Africa is extraordinarily significant. This is an issue about our safety. It is also an issue with respect to the political stability and the economic stability in this region," said the president.

"It's not very often Altus crews get to support Air Mobility Command in this way," said McDougall. "We were all very happy to directly impact the humanitarian effort."

Foss said he saw several agencies and military branches working together in Liberia, including the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and the United Nations among others.

Foss agrees with the U.S. taking responsibility. He said, "Helping with the effort there helps protect us at home."

The whole-of-government approach being used to contain the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa is not just a term. It's putting any government agency that can help into the fight, including a U.S. Air Force training base in Oklahoma. Even though Altus is known for its training mission, Airmen here are able to deploy in support of larger Air Force and DOD objectives when called upon.

MQ-1B Predator Accident Report Released

Release Number: 081014

10/9/2014 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- An oil leak led to an MQ-1 B Predator crash near Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan, Apr. 26, 2014, according to an Air Combat Command abbreviated accident investigation board report released today.

The aircraft and its aircrew were assigned to the 214th Reconnaissance Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. At the time of the mishap, the aircraft was conducting an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission. The aircraft was destroyed on impact with a loss valued at approximately $4.61 million. There were no injuries or damage to private property.

The board president found by clear and convincing evidence that the cause of the mishap was an engine oil leak. The rapid rate at which the oil leaked out ultimately caused the Predator's engine to completely seize, resulting in the aircraft's inability to maintain altitude or return to base. No portion of the wreckage was recovered.

Army Ten-Miler team zeroes in fitness at JBER HAWC

by Sgt. Eric-James Estrada
4-25 IBCT Public Affairs


10/9/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Soldiers with U.S. Army Alaska learned more about their physical fitness during a running analysis recently at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson for the upcoming Army Ten-Miler in Washington, D.C.

The 14-member USARAK Army Ten-Miler team went through VO2 max, or maximum oxygen uptake, and gait assessments at the Health and Wellness Center on JBER to learn about themselves as runners and how to adjust their training to stay competitive.

The fitness tests administered by the HAWC are targeted toward improving the way people run and their overall fitness regimen, which extends beyond physical fitness and readiness, improving overall fitness.

The VO2 max is one factor used to determine an athlete's capacity to perform sustained exercise and is linked to aerobic endurance.  A gait analysis assesses the way a person walks or runs in order to highlight biomechanical abnormalities.

"This goes well beyond the operation our team is doing, and it's a way for us to take this data and put it to use in our everyday life," said Army Maj. Brian Mayer, the signal officer for U.S. Army Alaska's 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, and captain of the USARAK Ten-Miler team.

Mayer, a four-time Ten-Miler veteran, added the efficiency in running is more than putting shoes on and going out and running.

"It's hitting the hills, and it's working with the [HAWC] to continually assess, and through assessment comes improvement."

The HAWC's mission is to ensure all service members are fit for duty by providing a wide range of services such as health education, fitness assessments, exercise prescriptions, and prevention and intervention programs.

"This analysis gives us a chance to look at stuff that isn't really physiology," said John Limon, exercise physiologist for the HAWC.

"His mechanics, his head, shoulders, knees and toes, [they are all] all tightening up."

Limon added that having the ability to process more oxygen per minute means you are able to use an energy system which doesn't make the muscles burn.

"To have this type of equipment available is a tremendous asset," Mayer said.

Mayer said he hopes the added help from the HAWC will help him and his team at the race.

Sponsored by the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, the Army Ten-Miler is the second-largest 10-mile race in the United States and is hosted every October in Washington, D.C.

This year, the race is scheduled to include other events - like a youth run, a youth activity fair and a pre-race pasta dinner.

Representing USARAK at the Army Ten-Miler race are:

Army Staff Sgt. Sterling Yazzie, Pfc. Hunter Phares and Pfc. Chad Miller of the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division; Army 2nd Lt. Daryl Brown, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1/25 SBCT; Army Maj. Timothy Brower, Alaska National Guard; Air Force Maj. Ron Oliver, 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron; Army Maj. Brian Mayer, 4/25 IBCT (Airborne); Army Master Sgt. William Wisecup, USARAK Aviation Task Force; Army 1st Lt. Elizabeth Hayward and Pfc. Chelsea Scheuerman of USA MEDDAC-AK; Army Capt. Nick Shamrell, U.S. Army Garrison; Army Staff Sgt. Robert Hibbert, 109th Transportation Company, 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 2nd Engineer Brigade; Spc. Keith Robinet, 84th Engineer Support Company (Airborne), 6th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Engineer Brigade; and Sgt. Malcolm Smith, 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4/25 IBCT (Airborne).

Hawaii Air National Guard Tankers Return from Deployment

by Senior Airman Orlando Corpuz
154th Wing Public Affairs


10/8/2014 - Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii -- Hawaii Air National Guard personnel and two KC-135 Stratotankers returned home October 7, from a deployment to the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility.

Approximately 40 HIANG men and women from the 203rd Air Refueling Squadron and 154th Maintenance Group deployed for 4 months to the CENTCOM AOR during which time they refueled various types of U.S. Navy and Air Force aircraft conducting operations in and around Iraq.

"They have been very busy and making significant contributions to an important mission in that part of the world," said Col. Glen Naka¬mura, vice commander of the Air Guard's 154th Wing. "We're very proud of the job our airmen are doing".

An anxious crowd of family members and military officials awaited on the flightline during the early morning hours for the returning air crews, HIANG personnel and the 96th Air Refueling Squadron active duty members.

Training the trainers

by Master Sgt. Mark Olsen
NJDMAVA Public Affairs


10/9/2014 - PEZE HELMES, Albania  -- There have been many firsts in the 21-year State Partnership Program relationship between New Jersey and the Republic of Albania.

The New Jersey National Guard assisted the Albanian military in preparing themselves for NATO membership.

The first Albanian officer candidate class trained by the NJNG was also the first State Partnership Program country to ever have its officer candidates trained in the United States.

The New Jersey Army National Guard and Albania conducted five successful deployments to Afghanistan to train that nation's army.

And now training an Albanian explosive ordnance disposal class to become trainers for a future Albanian EOD school.

For three-weeks, members of the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard EOD team led by Master Sgt. David Niedzwiadek, Tech. Sgt. John Hurley and Staff Sgt. Joe Coates have been training a core group of Albanian Army EOD experts to become level 1 EOD trainers.

According to Hurley the purpose of this training is two-fold: "Albania has munitions that date back from 1950s through the 1980s that they have been disposing of for the past several years - they need more EOD technicians to help in this process. Additionally, Albania wants to create their own EOD curriculum, this class is the first step toward that goal."

"This course is helpful because it builds our future instructors," said Capt. Vladimir Pica, commander, 1st EOD Group, Albanian Army.

This class is an extension of the Humanitarian Mine Action program. The 177th EOD team is also teaching unexploded ordnance disposal practices to the Albanian EOD technicians. Prior to that training, in July, Airmen from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 108th Wing Medical Group came to Albania to instruct the Albanian EOD medical center soldiers on advanced lifesaving techniques. Airmen from the 108th and the 177th will return to Albania next year to evaluate the progress of both groups in developing their own curricula.

"These Airmen have shared their experiences in Afghanistan," said Pica. "They know what to stress, what to focus on for our students."

"This benefits both EOD teams," said Niedzwiadek. "It reinforces our ability to train, especially working with a foreign class of trained EOD technicians."

After the students have demonstrated their ability to safely dispose of munitions, the next step is to teach them to become trainers.

This is the big leap for the future trainers. Again a munition is placed somewhere in the training area, but this time the person being tested is not the technician, but the trainer. A student is chosen to disarm the unexploded ordnance. The trainer must observe them going through the disposal process, which includes interviewing the person who found the UXO, talking with the incident commander, finding the UXO, measuring it, identifying the device, determining the proper disposal method and executing that procedure.

During the last week of the class, Hurley and Niedzwiadek train the future trainers using a drill called practical problems - an EOD term where a replica of an unexploded ordnance device is placed in the field.

This time the students who are responding to the UXO are prepped by Hurley or Niedzwiadek to make specific mistakes; the key is for the trainer to identify those mistakes, write them down and then at the end of the session when they "grade" the student on their performance, explain whether they passed or not. If the student failed, the trainer will explain what additional training the student must do before they can retest and advance to the next level.

This process is used in the field with trainer Sgt. Servet Lika recording "student" Sgt. Marjan Alhysa's description of what safety procedures he is going to take while measuring the UXO.

As Alhysa clears debris from the UXO, he slightly moves the UXO; Lika catches this mistake and records it. At the end of the test, during the feedback session, Lika explains to Alhysa, Hurley and Pica what Alhysa did right and where he made mistakes.

Hurley reviews Lika's presentation and sums up his performance as a trainer.
"Perfect job," said Hurley.

A day in their shoes: Launching a Fighting Falcon

by Airman 1st Class Ryan Conroy
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/8/2014 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy  -- The steady screech of the F-16 Fighting Falcon can be heard for miles around; an imposing bird soaring through the sky, ready to strike those who wish to do harm to the U.S. and its NATO allies.

Its warden, an Airman on the ground who meticulously maintains every aspect of the multimillion-dollar jet, and without him -- the lives of every pilot sent into the sky would be jeopardized.

The day begins with an early morning roll-call as each crew chief at parade rest confirms their presence. The faint voice of a crew chief assigned to the 31st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron named Airman 1st Class Matthew Galati from Lancaster, Penn., sticks out amongst the group of outgoing professionals. The 26 year old has been stationed here for three months, but his responsibility and task for the day is immeasurable - get a fully-functioning fighter jet into the air in three hours.

"Before the Air Force, I worked manufacturing sports flooring, installing natural gas lines and as a parking garage security guard," said Galati. "The jobs I used to do don't compare to what I do now. When I went to work back then, I wasn't proud about what I was doing; I just did it for the money. When you're in the Air Force, you're a part of something so much bigger than yourself."

After receiving his jet assignment and location during roll call, Galati makes his way to the tool dispensary, where the crew chiefs receive their tools for the day. This includes keys for a toolbox on the flightline, a laptop with a list of the training orders, cleaner fluid, ear protection, rags and an inventory checklist. The training orders on the laptop contain everything, step by step, the crew chief needs to inspect and maintain the jet.

Before touching the fighter jet, Galati must perform a Foreign Objects Debris check in the protective aircraft shelter in his area of responsibility. During the inspection, he looks for anything that could potentially damage a running aircraft.

"I look for safety wire, hardware, packing material, trash, pens, pencils, tools or anything that could get sucked into the intake," said Galati. "Even something small, like a pen, could cause major damage to the jet and cost the Air Force lot of money."

After the painstaking search for FOD in the PAS, Galati turns his attention to the task at hand.

He retrieves his toolbox and pushes it to its final destination -- a lifeless jet parked next to the taxiway. Here, Galati ensures every tool is accounted for on the inventory checklist. All the while, the unusually warm October sun beats down on the maintainer, vulnerable to the elements.

"Some of these days can get pretty long, but when you like what you do it makes it a lot easier," said Galati.

Now, it is time for this crew chief to get to work. The young Airman darts back and forth underneath the aircraft, inspecting every nook and cranny, every screw and bolt, his unfaltering concentration on the task at hand. He runs his hand over every inch of the F-16, looking for anything that could cause a problem in the sky. This inspection is crucial and the life of the pilot is in Galati's hands.

"When we go out there, we want to make sure the aircraft is safe because a pilot's safety is paramount," said Galati. "We're putting a live body in the air and they have a family waiting for them to come home, just like we do."

The initial pre-flight inspection is finished and a yell rolls down the flightline, "Pilots are stepping!"

Col. Anthony Abernathy, 31st Operations Group commander and pilot, arrives to the line and Galati renders a sharp salute and a handshake. Abernathy runs through his own pre-flight inspections with Galati close behind him answering any questions the commander has for him. Once finished, Abernathy climbs the ladder into the cockpit and Galati helps him strap in.

The Fighting Falcon roars to life climbing from a high-pitched whine to a deafening thunder. A smile creeps onto Galati's face as he establishes communications with the colonel. The two discuss launch procedures as the crew chief does one final inspection.

It's time to fly. Galati stands in front of the jet with his arms crossed high above his head and suddenly, his hands are in a flurry, signaling for Abernathy to begin rolling out. Once the jet taxis by, Galati renders one final salute. His work is finished for now as the F-16 taxis to the end of runway for takeoff.

From a short distance away, the fighter jet speeds down the flightline and takes flight. All the while, Galati takes it in and knows his day is finished.

"At the end of the day, when you walk off the flightline, you feel accomplished--like you did something," said Galati. "You feel like you did something and that makes the day complete.

"I enjoy my job because it's not something most people do every day," added Galati.  "I talk to family and friends back home and they're an auto mechanic or work at a fast food restaurant and I'm out here launching million dollar F-16s. It's a one-of-a-kind experience."

Former 552 ACW commander to be inducted into Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame

by Staff Report

10/9/2014 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE - Okla.  -- A former commander of the 552nd Air Control Wing and two World War II fighter pilots who later served in the Air Force will be inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame next month.

The induction ceremony, which will recognize seven other honorees, will be held Nov. 8 at the Oklahoma Tower Hotel, formerly the Marriott, at 3233 Northwest Expressway in Oklahoma City. Registration begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by the ceremony at 7 p.m.
Maj. Gen. Jerry D. Holmes became commander of the 552nd Airborne Warning and Control Wing at Tinker AFB in July 1981. He was born in Jenks and raised in Wewoka.

General Holmes, a combat pilot and graduate of the University of Oklahoma, is now an adjunct professor in the OU College of Engineering. He also works with U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe as a military adviser and liaison to military installations in Oklahoma.

From October 1969 to October 1970, General Holmes flew 135 combat missions over Vietnam in the RF-101 Voodoo and the RF-4 Phantom.

While in Vietnam, the general was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for flying an unarmed reconnaissance mission over a heavily defended target in Laos to obtain vital photographic intelligence.

Despite adverse weather and an extremely hostile environment, General Holmes skillfully and aggressively obtained complete photographic coverage of the assigned target, his medal citation said.

After stops at the Pentagon, South Carolina and Idaho, General Holmes' final assignment was as commander of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Airborne Early Warning Force, headquartered in Belgium.

He was promoted to major general in November 1984.

Brig. Gen. James R. "Robbie" Risner enlisted in the U.S. Army's aviation program in 1943 and earned his pilot wings in May 1944. He flew P-38 Lightnings and P-39 Air Cobras in Panama during the war.

He joined the Oklahoma Air National Guard in 1946. Recalled to duty in 1951, he flew 110 combat fighter missions during the Korean War. He destroyed eight MIG-15s in aerial combat, becoming the 20th jet ace of that war.

Remaining with the Air Force, General Risner's F-105 Thunderchief was shot down over North Vietnam in 1965. He was taken prisoner in 1965 and released in 1973. He is honored with a 9-foot tall statue of him at the Air Force Academy.

General Risner was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1974 and retired from the Air Force in 1976. He died last year and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Born in Tulsa, Capt. Joseph H. Powers was a fighter pilot ace during World War II. He was attending the University of Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Captain Powers entered the U.S. Army Air Forces and was assigned to a fighter squadron in Halesworth, England. He became an ace flying a P-47C in 1943. Captain Powers officially was credited with shooting down 14.5 enemy aircraft by the time World War II ended.

Serving in the Air Force in the Korean War, he was flying a P-51 Mustang in support of ground units during his last mission on Jan. 18, 1951, when he was shot down by the enemy.

Gunston Hall Works with Cyprus SAR units



By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jesse A. Hyatt, USS Bataan Public Affairs

USS GUNSTON HALL, At Sea (NNS) -- The amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) participated in a bilateral search and rescue exercise (SAREX) off the coast of Cyprus with search and rescue (SAR) units from the Republic of Cyprus, Oct. 7.

The SAREX focused on daylight search and rescue operations, deck landings with SAR helicopters, and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) drills aboard Gunston Hall's flight deck.

It also focused on personnel and rescue units' capabilities and readiness, responding to potential SAR missions or other humanitarian operations within the Republic of Cyprus region and throughout the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

"Anytime we get an opportunity to participate with an ally in any exercise, it truly benefits both sides," said Gunston Hall's Commanding Officer Cmdr. Sean K. Burke. "If a MEDEVAC mission were to present itself, the Cypriots now have the confidence and experience to react swiftly and cohesively with our Naval forces."

The exercise began when the Cyprus Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC Larnaca) received a simulated distress call from Gunston Hall requesting MEDEVAC of two injured Sailors. AgustaWestland AW-139 rescue helicopters assigned to Cyprus' 460 SAR Squadron and the Cyprus Police Aviation Unit were dispatched in response.

The SAREX marks the third exercise completed with the Republic of Cyprus this year. Each SAREX had a unique scenario and was completed successfully.

"Today's success shows that when the time comes, we can work with our allies to accomplish our mutual goals," said Burke. "Everyone involved on both sides performed flawlessly and professionally. It was an honor working with the country of Cyprus."

Gunston Hall is part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, with the embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, and is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.

Southern Partnership Station 2014 AFPs Complete Mission in Central, South America



By Lt. Jessica Crownover, Southern Partnership Station Joint High Speed Vessel 2014 Public Affairs

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- The Southern Partnership Station Joint High Speed Vessel 2014 (SPS-JHSV 14) mission came to an end and the vessel returned from deployment Oct. 7 after concluding a successful four-month deployment involving subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) in Belize, Guatemala, Colombia, and Honduras.

SPS-JHSV 14 focused on building partner capacity with host-nation counterparts and fostering relationships with their militaries and communities, while using the Military Sealift Command JHSV USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) for sealift of personnel and 500 tons of cargo and vehicles between each country.

Adaptive Force Packages (AFP) comprised 144 U.S. service members representing all military branches to include: Commander, Destroyer Squadron 40, Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 202, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3, Mobile Dive and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2, Coastal Riverine Squadron (CORIVRON) 2, Navy Expeditionary Intelligence Command, Joint Communications Support Element, Navy Criminal Investigation Service, assessments from Navy Information Operations Center (NIOC) San Antonio and Cyber Forces Norfolk, Signal Intelligence support from NIOC Norfolk, NIOC Georgia, NIOC Texas and NIOC Yokosuka, and public affairs support from Navy Public Affairs Support Element East and Fleet Combat Camera Pacific.

U.S. Marine Corps AFP elements included: Landing Attack Support Operations (LASO), 8th Engineer Support Battalion (ESB), and civil affairs, which include Military Information Support Operation, Information Operation and Combat Camera. The medical AFP comprises personnel from: CORIVRON 8, Public Health Command Region-South, Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Expeditionary Medical Facility Great Lakes, Navy Entomology Preventive Medicine Unit 2 and Army Dental Activity from Fort Worth, Texas, and Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

The mission began in Belize from June 2 to July 22 in Punta Gorda and Price Barracks, the two locations where U.S. service members conducted SMEEs. Participants covered 64 training topics during that time with 205 Belizean participants. While ashore in Belize, U.S. Marine Corps 8th ESB built an obstacle course at Price Barracks, CORIVRON 2 worked jointly with the U.S. Marine Corps LASO team, and the medical AFPs facilitated the treatment and care of more than 300 patients in various medical specialties.

"We had a great welcome and it was a good opportunity to be able to work alongside our Belizean counterparts," said Cmdr. Jeffrey V. Morganthaler, ashore deputy commander of SPS-JHSV 14. "They brought a different set of experiences to the table, which enabled the exchange of ideas to occur and better the forces involved."

SPS-JHSV 14 continued work in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala from July 28 to Aug. 27. There, Sailors covered 71 training topics with 249 Guatemalan participants. There were also many opportunities for involvement in the local community.

One of the largest projects completed was the renovation of Puerto Barrios City Library. Additionally, a Medical Civic Actions Program (MEDCAP) event allowed for a joint effort between the medical AFPs and Guatemalan medical teams. More than 400 women were given prenatal care, and many children were treated for parasitic infections. Outside of the MEDCAP event, medical AFPs also tended to more than 250 people and conducted SMEEs that will help in future medical procedures.

"Doctors in Guatemala are very well trained, but they have some limitations that we don't have in the United States," said Cmdr. Michael Cackovic, senior medical officer and native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. "It's a very good learning experience to work with them and see how they overcome those limitations, but yet they still have the same product that we have, which is delivering healthy babies."

In order to support the mission in Colombia, Navy divers from MDSU 2 and explosive ordnance disposal technicians from EODMU 3 travelled to Colombia for engagements from Aug. 14 to Sept. 4. MDSU 2 worked with Colombian Navy dive school students and instructors, increasing proficiency, training, and techniques. EOD classroom training was also conducted, facilitating tactical training and procedures.

The final stop in the SPS-JHSV 14 mission was Honduras, from Aug. 30 to Oct. 4, where Sailors conducted SMEEs in Puerto Castillo. Sailors covered 70 training topics with 231 Honduran service members. U.S. Marine Corps 8th ESB Marines constructed an obstacle course, and medical AFPs facilitated a MEDCAP that tended to more than 400 people. Hospital renovations were also completed at the Dr. Salvador Paredes Hospital, improving the facility where host nation personnel receive treatment.

This mission allowed for service members to expand their knowledge and skill sets outside of their specialties.

"I am thankful most of the work I did here was outside my rate because I had the opportunity to learn new skills, work with new people, and help out our host-nation counterparts," said Electronics Technician 3rd Class Phillip Clark, a native of Chesapeake, Virginia, attached to CBMU 202.

USNS Spearhead continued the second portion of its maiden deployment in the Caribbean Sea while the SPS 14 mission also continued in the various countries. Spearhead conducted experimentation with Navy Warfare Development Command that included many firsts for the JHSV class.

In June, the Bat Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) was launched successfully off a rail launcher and recovered onboard. Throughout the deployment, the Aerostat, an un-manned blimp with a radar and electro-optical/infrared payload, was used with the hand-launched Puma UAS to conduct detection and monitoring operations in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility in support of Joint Interagency Task Force-South. Spearhead also conducted refueling operations with smaller vessels, using a rig developed on board and further expanding potential JHSV capabilities.

In support of the SPS mission, USNS Choctaw County (JHSV 2) transported the AFPs and their cargo from Honduras back to Mayport, Florida, and Norfolk, Virginia, to conclude the SPS-JHSV 14 deployment.

"SPS-JHSV 14 took the Southern Partnership Station mission to new levels with the number and diversity of expeditionary AFPs as well as the testing of various capabilities of the JHSV," said Capt. Sam Hancock, SPS-JHSV mission commander. "There was a great deal of learning with the new JHSV platform and we look forward to continuing to expand the platform's capabilities."

SPS-JHSV 14 is a U.S. Navy deployment focused on subject-matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces. U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet employ maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability and build enduring partnerships that foster regional security in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility.