Military News

Friday, October 10, 2014

AF releases criteria for new service medal

10/10/2014 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) --  Air Force officials released nomination criteria for the new Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, following Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James' May 27, 2014, authorization.

The medal will be awarded to individuals for their direct support of nuclear deterrence operations.

"This service medal provides a clearly visible way to recognize the dedication and professionalism of our Airmen who are the guardians of our nation's nuclear deterrence. Because of our success, often times nuclear deterrence operations can be overlooked as a critical function," said Col. Zannis Pappas, the missile operations career field manager. "The medal acknowledges the special challenges faced by those Airmen charged with supporting the nuclear enterprise and will be a point of pride by all who wear it."

Service members may be awarded the nuclear deterrence medal if they were assigned, deployed or mobilized to a wing, center or below in support of the nuclear enterprise for 120 consecutive days or 179 nonconsecutive days. Subsequent awards will only be authorized when a permanent change of station to a qualifying unit has occurred.

"The Air Force continues to demonstrate its support to the most vital part of the nuclear enterprise - the Airmen," said Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak, Air Force assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration. "This medal exists as a tangible way to acknowledge the importance of this mission and the dedication and pride that the men and women in the nuclear community show to their country. Having secretary of the Air Force-level interest testifies to the importance of this decoration and impact on nuclear operations."

The medal will be worn with an "N" device for those who dispatched to a missile complex for 179 nonconsecutive days in direct support of intercontinental ballistic missile operations or are in direct support of nuclear laden aircraft. Only one "N" device will be worn, regardless of the number of qualifying assignments. An oak leaf cluster will be worn for subsequent awards, which will only be authorized when a PCS has occurred.

Eligibility for the medal is retroactive to Dec. 27, 1991. Nominations for currently serving Airmen will be processed through their respective chain of command.

A member's current group commander is considered the awarding authority for the medal. Retired or separated Airmen can submit a request submitted to the Air Force Personnel Center recognition section for validation. The award can be presented posthumously, as well, so family members of deceased Airmen can also contact AFPC for information.

The medal is currently under development with a projected date of availability through the Defense Supply System of March 2015.

For more information and full eligibility criteria, go to myPers by clicking here. Guard, Reserve, retired and separated Airmen and their family members may contact the Air Reserve Personnel Center at 800-525-0102, for assistance.

(Information courtesy of the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Office)

Kentucky ANG establishes cargo hub in Senegal for Ebola response

by Maj. Dale Greer
123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


10/10/2014 - DAKAR, Senegal (AFNS) -- More than 80 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Contingency Response Group stood up a cargo hub here Oct. 5, that will funnel humanitarian supplies and equipment into West Africa in support of Operation United Assistance, or OUA, the international effort to fight Ebola.

The epidemic has already claimed more than 3,500 lives, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The majority of Kentucky ANG Airmen arrived Oct. 4, joining a 13-member assessment team that has been in place since Sept. 28. They're operating an intermediate staging base, or ISB, to support Joint Task Force-Port Opening operations at Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport, according to Col. David Mounkes, the 123rd CRG commander.

The ISB is designed to accept large quantities of cargo arriving on C-17 Globemaster IIIs, process the material so it can move forward, and load it onto C-130 Hercules aircraft for distribution into affected areas. Soldiers from the Army's 689th Rapid Port Opening Element also are assessing the movement of cargo here from seaports along the African coast.

The Kentucky ANG Airmen landed in Senegal with all the equipment they need to provide command and control of aircraft and aerial port operations, including all-terrain forklifts, satellite communications gear and power-production capability.

"Our job is to get the right cargo to the right place at the right time," Mounkes said. "This is the mission we train for 365 days a year, and our personnel are some of the best in the business. We're ready to execute."

The Defense Department has committed to deploying up to 3,000 troops in support of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the lead federal agency coordinating the U.S. government's comprehensive response for Operation United Assistance. In addition to the creation of the cargo hub here and logistics nodes across West Africa, American forces will construct a hospital and more than a dozen other treatment facilities in affected areas.

Lt. Col. Matt Groves, the 123rd's Global Mobility Readiness Squadron commander, underscored the importance of the ISB mission.

"What we're doing here could save hundreds of thousands of lives," Groves said. "We're talking about a disease that, if left untreated, has a mortality rate of up to 50 percent. There is absolutely no other mission we will perform this year that is more important, or will impact more people, than this one."

The 123rd CRG is the only unit of its kind in the ANG. Conceived as an "air base in a box," the group acts as an early responder in the event of contingency operations worldwide. Its personnel are capable of deploying into remote airfields, providing command and control of aircraft, and establishing airfield operations so troops and cargo can flow into affected areas.

Unit members represent a broad spectrum of specialties, including airfield security, ramp and cargo operations, aircraft maintenance, and command and control.

In 2010, the group was one of two Air Force contingency response units to establish overseas airlift hubs supporting earthquake-recovery efforts in Haiti, directing the delivery of hundreds of tons of relief supplies into the Dominican Republic for subsequent trucking to Haiti.

Altus AFB Airmen deliver aid to Liberia

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


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

The epidemic has already claimed more than 3,500 lives, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and 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.

Maj. Will McDougall, the assistant director of operations with the 58th Airlift Squadron, said six instructor pilots and four instructor loadmasters with the 58th AS delivered more than 180,000 lbs. of medical and humanitarian aid supplies via two C-17 Globemaster IIIs.

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 Maj. Mathew Foss, a formal training unit evaluator pilot with the 58th AS. 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," McDougall said. "They were eager to get the supplies. That was the most rewarding thing to see.

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

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," Obama said. "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."

Foss said he saw several agencies and military branches working together in Liberia, including the Army, Air Force and the United Nations among others. He said he thinks the support being offered is extremely important.

"Helping with the effort there helps protect us at home," Foss said.

Lackland medical wing emphasizes deployment readiness training

by Staff Sgt. Kevin Iinuma
59th Medical Wing Public Affairs


10/9/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- More than 2,000 Airmen from the 59th Medical Wing ascend on a training site at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland every year. Their arrival marks the organization's commitment to medical readiness training and its support for contingency operations around the world.

Military members receive the biennial deployment readiness training at a site near the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center. The requirement also applies to anyone who is tasked to deploy at a moment's notice.

The hands-on program is a requirement for all wing personnel who support medical operations around the world. The training also includes familiarization with policies in a deployed environment, and learning about prescribed procedures for developing and sustaining comprehensive medical systems abroad.  The program also provides, assesses, and monitors deployment readiness training and medical skills training for military personnel.

Master Sgt. Richard Arthur, NCO in charge of 59th MDW deployment readiness training and the Joint Base San Antonio Self-Aid Buddy Care alternate program advisor, organizes this two-day course every week.

"We, as cadre, are able to influence every individual who is deploying from the WHASC and the San Antonio Military Medical Center," said Arthur. "We impart what we know to help make their deployment less taxing; one has enough to worry about prior to deploying.

"When we send our personnel out the door, there is a less than 1 percent chance that those individuals will have an (deployment) discrepancy, arriving at the (deployed location) without training of some sort," he said.  "This is the lowest in the Air Force, and it is a constant,"

Students receive several different lectures in this course.  They learn about weapons safety. With litter carry training, students learn how to safely transport patients to and from an ambulance to a helicopter or transport plane, vital training a student can use if deployed to a Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility.

"I had a student tell me the other day that she was able to save her brother's life because of what I imparted to her," said Arthur.  "Always stay calm and relax because if you are excited, you will not be able to save a life. As I was taught early in my career, check your pulse and your breathing. If you have those two things down, you can save a life,"

Airman 1st Class Tyler Garcia, a 959th Clinical Support Squadron laboratory technician who attended the course in July said he now has a hands-on feel for what it's like to deploy. A first-term Airman, Garcia had never experienced deployment readiness training until now.

"The best experience in this course was to know how to carry the litters around," said Garcia. As a lab technician, Garcia would typically not perform ambulatory duties, but the possibility increases in a deployment environment.

"It's everyone's job to do that," he said. "You always have to be prepared; now I feel that I am."

Although 59th MDW deployment training is typically available to Airmen, Navy personnel who are assigned to an Air Force unit may attend the course as part of their deployment re

3rd AF commander visits Aviano AB, hosts all call

by Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/9/2014 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, 3rd Air Force commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Mark Marson, 3rd Air Force command chief, visited Aviano Air Base, Italy, Oct. 8, 2014, to meet Airmen assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing and become more familiar with the wing mission.

During his first visit to Aviano as the 3rd Air Force commander, Roberson and Marson visited several units, and hosted an all call.

To welcome Roberson and Marson, a hangar filled with Team Aviano Airmen sounded off with the wing's new mission statement, "Deter aggression. Defend U.S. and NATO interests. Develop Aviano."

"Nice. I like it," Roberson said. "Chief and I are really glad to be here. Let me start by saying thank you ... not only for getting the mission done, but for how you're doing it. You guys are doing an absolutely outstanding job and we're seeing it every day.

"There's a lot going on in our Air Force," he continued. "There's a lot going on here and in Africa, and in many ways, you take part in it every single day."

During the all call, Roberson touched on several key issues. One particular issue discussed, was the Air Force's reduction in force.

"We're on our way to 310,000 Airmen," Roberson said. "We're doing more, we're doing it better, and we're still the best Air Force the world has ever known."

Marson included that, "We're more capable today than we've ever been. We go to large extents to develop our Airmen and that's how we're going to reach 310,000. We're smarter than we've ever been. Look at the changes as an opportunity, if you do what your nation asks, it'll work out for you."

During the commander's call, Roberson stressed the importance of the new performance report program and getting to know our Airmen.

"With the new [system] we're trying to get back to eyeball-to-eyeball ... intrusive leadership," Roberson said. "Ninety percent of Airmen feel the EPR system is overinflated, and we need to get back to better supervising our Airmen."

Marson announced that he was nearly 50 days from retirement and thanked Aviano Airmen for their sacrifices.

"Thank you for being the one percent of Americans who've put on the uniform," he said. "It's difficult to raise a family, develop yourself ... and go into harm's way, all while keeping balance. I have a deep respect for [you] American's in uniform."

After fielding a handful of questions from the audience, Roberson had one final thought to share.

"I'm asking you to work hard and maintain our readiness," he said. "If you do this, you'll continue to exceed our expectations every day."

48th Fighter Wing Airmen team-up to bring pilot home safely

by Staff Sgt. Emerson Nuñez
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/9/2014 - ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England  -- An F-15D Eagle fighter aircraft assigned to the 493d Fighter Squadron crashed in a field near Spalding, England Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014. The only Airman on board, a pilot, ejected and made it back to RAF Lakenheath safely thanks to the work of Airmen from the 48th Component Maintenance Squadron egress section, 48th Operations Support Squadron Air Crew Flight Equipment shop, and the 56th Rescue Squadron.

The incident did not result in any injuries to people on the ground or to the pilot.

Though our pilots prepare for any possible emergencies, they still rely on their equipment to function in these crucial moments.

Col. Robert Novotny, 48th Fighter Wing commander, said "thank you" to the Airmen that made this pilot's return back to RAF Lakenheath possible.

"When the pilot made the last minute decision of 'I have to save my life,' and reached for the handles, it worked, and it worked because of the work you guys do," said Novotny. "Thank you for saving one of our pilot's lives."

Airmen from the three different sections played major roles in ensuring the pilot made it home safe.

Airmen from the 48th Component Maintenance Squadron egress section were responsible for ensuring the pilot's seat and all of the ejection components worked properly safely, allowing the pilot to eject.

Members of the 48th Operations Support Squadron AFE shop made sure the parachute in the seat deployed properly.

Airmen from the 56th Rescue Squadron retrieved the pilot and returned him safely to RAF Lakenheath in a timely manner.

All these moving pieces, working as designed, allowed for a positive outcome and resulted in a grateful Wing.

"I am happy to know that when I go and fly, if I have to pull the handles, I know that everything is going to work and I am going to go home and see my family," said Novotny.

From helicopters to bulldozers - McChord supports ODF

by Master Sgt. Todd Wivell
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


10/9/2014 - CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand -- Continuing the Department of Defense's longstanding support of the National Science Foundation, a McChord crew made up of 62nd and 446th Airlift Wing members safely completed another run to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, Oct 8, as part of their contribution to the U.S. Antarctic Program.

Typically the crews, of Operation DEEP FREEZE, take on passengers and pallets of cargo to include mail, fresh fruits and vegetables and other supplies for those assigned to the station but on this particular mission, they transported a helicopter out to the station and brought back a bulldozer to Christchurch, New Zealand.

The aircraft was an Eurocopter AS350 B2 single engine helicopter that did not have its blades attached. The blades were loaded separately in a crate and then installed once the helicopter was down-loaded from the C-17 Globemaster III at NSF's McMurdo Station.

The weight of the helicopter and blades increased the total weight of the cargo by approximately 4,900 pounds.

"This helicopter will be used to transport personnel around the ice," stated one of the helicopter pilots that flew on the C-17 as a passenger on this particular trip. "It will also be used to lift and move cargo around and has the capabilities of lifting up to 1.5 tons."

With the cargo pallets, the helicopter and the 62 passengers on board, the C-17 had a combined cargo weight of 49,200 pounds. Add that in with the fuel weight and weight of the aircraft, the weight limit on this mission was almost maxed out.

Maximum take-off weight for the C-17 Globemaster III is 585,000 pounds and maximum cargo weight is 170,900 pounds.

That weight limit was pushed further to the limit when on the return flight to Christchurch, the crew picked up a Caterpillar D-8 bulldozer.

The bulldozer did not have its blade attached but still had an approximate weight of 49,200 pounds.

"The C-17 provides tremendous capabilities to the USAP by transporting large equipment such as the helicopter and dozer," said Lt. Col. Rob Schmidt, 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander and 62nd Operations Group deputy commander. "Those stationed at McMurdo greatly appreciate the mail, fresh fruits and vegetables we deliver, but being able to transport this unique and heavy equipment is a key component of the C-17 ODF airlift capabilities."

U.S. Antarctic Program operations for started Sept. 29 when the U.S. military kicked off the 2014-2015 season and will continue through early spring of 2015, however due to the changes in weather over the last few seasons the rotations of McChord crew and aircraft at Christchurch will end in November of 2014.

NSF manages the U.S. Antarctic Program and maintains three year-round stations on the continent.

48th Fighter Wing Airmen team-up to bring pilot home safely

by Staff Sgt. Emerson Nuñez
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/9/2014 - ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England  -- An F-15D Eagle fighter aircraft assigned to the 493d Fighter Squadron crashed in a field near Spalding, England Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014. The only Airman on board, a pilot, ejected and made it back to RAF Lakenheath safely thanks to the work of Airmen from the 48th Component Maintenance Squadron egress section, 48th Operations Support Squadron Air Crew Flight Equipment shop, and the 56th Rescue Squadron.

The incident did not result in any injuries to people on the ground or to the pilot.

Though our pilots prepare for any possible emergencies, they still rely on their equipment to function in these crucial moments.

Col. Robert Novotny, 48th Fighter Wing commander, said "thank you" to the Airmen that made this pilot's return back to RAF Lakenheath possible.

"When the pilot made the last minute decision of 'I have to save my life,' and reached for the handles, it worked, and it worked because of the work you guys do," said Novotny. "Thank you for saving one of our pilot's lives."

Airmen from the three different sections played major roles in ensuring the pilot made it home safe.

Airmen from the 48th Component Maintenance Squadron egress section were responsible for ensuring the pilot's seat and all of the ejection components worked properly safely, allowing the pilot to eject.

Members of the 48th Operations Support Squadron AFE shop made sure the parachute in the seat deployed properly.

Airmen from the 56th Rescue Squadron retrieved the pilot and returned him safely to RAF Lakenheath in a timely manner.

All these moving pieces, working as designed, allowed for a positive outcome and resulted in a grateful Wing.

"I am happy to know that when I go and fly, if I have to pull the handles, I know that everything is going to work and I am going to go home and see my family," said Novotny.

SEALs, Marines use USS George Washington as Forward Staging Base



From Commander, Task Force 70 Public Affairs

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- SEALs and Marine Special Operations (MARSOC) forces from Special Operations Command Pacific conducted maritime interoperability training aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), Sept. 22-29.

Using the carrier as an afloat forward staging base, the task force demonstrated increased flexibility and a range of options to conduct operations when and where needed most.

"The chance to integrate Special Operations Forces (SOF)and a carrier strike group in a full-scale exercise is incredibly important," said Capt. Alec Mackenzie, the Special Operations Task Force commander. "Operating from an afloat staging base gives our forces dramatically increased reach and provides an opportunity to refine tactics, techniques and procedures in a challenging environment. This makes Maritime SOF more effective and provides the requisite experience to conduct real-world contingency operations as needed."

Maritime SOF assigned to Naval Special Warfare Unit 1, including members from a Marine Special Operations Company, a west coast-based Naval Special Warfare (NSW) unit, explosive ordnance disposal element, and a helicopter sea combat squadron staged aboard the aircraft carrier in order to conduct training.

The training exercised the entire spectrum of foundational crisis response skills, including embarkation, command and control, logistics, planning and execution. The participants executed a full range of operations, from special reconnaissance to direct action utilizing rotary wing insertions. The exercise also demonstrated interoperability between SOF and capabilities from multiple other units, including George Washington, the Carrier Air Wing, and strike group ships.

"We demonstrated outstanding synchronization between aviation, special warfare and surface forces in an environment that will continue to grow as an option for afloat staging bases," said Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet, and the officer in tactical control of the exercise. "The ability to seamlessly integrate those forces and quickly conduct operations in a time of crises is key to effective cooperative efforts. Exercises of this kind, reinforcing and refining our capabilities, are further evidence of the U.S. dedication to stability and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region."

The George Washington Carrier Strike Group and 7th Fleet's Special Warfare task force make up two prongs of the air, sea, subsurface, and land operations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific under the Navy's largest numbered fleet.

USS Mesa Verde Departs Split, Croatia



By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shannon M. Smith, USS Mesa Verde Public Affairs

SPLIT, Croatia (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) departed Split, Croatia, Oct. 9, after a scheduled port visit.

Mesa Verde's presence in Croatia reaffirms the United States' commitment to strengthening ties with foreign nations, while working toward mutual goals of promoting peace and stability in the region.

While in Croatia, Sailors and Marines had the opportunity to take tours hosted by the ship's Morale, Welfare, and Recreation team, which showcased some of the unique attractions of the region. Some service members went canyoning in the Cetina River, and some took a city tour of Dubrovnik, where the HBO show "Game of Thrones" recently filmed scenes.

Hospitalman Patrick Powell took the Dubrovnik tour and said he really enjoyed the historic aspect of the city.

"My favorite thing had to have been the cathedral," said Powell. "I thought it was pretty cool getting to see all the history just within one building, all the different stages of the building's construction and going through various times...they said it was one century's worth of history in one building alone, that was pretty cool."

Originally from Acton, California, Powell said he is grateful for the chance he's had to see different places.

"(Traveling) is something that was kind of a bonus on the side really; I knew I wanted to try to get career skills and a chance to get to school," said Powell. "I really am appreciative of what I've been offered and just getting out here and seeing all this, it's really a once in a lifetime chance to check this all out... just being able to share this and these stories with my friends and family, I think that's pretty significant because I know a lot of them won't get the same opportunities."

This was Mesa Verde's first port visit since transiting the Suez Canal, Oct. 2, and leaving the 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

"Sailors and Marines got to experience some great culture in a very relaxed atmosphere," said Lt. Cmdr. Ethan Rule, executive officer of Mesa Verde. "The people of Croatia were very hospitable and we got to see some beautiful countryside. The crew was very respectful and did a great job."

Mesa Verde is part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, is wrapping up an almost nine-month deployment since leaving its homeport of Norfolk, Virginia, Feb. 8.

During its brief time in 6th Fleet, Mesa Verde's presence, along with the Bataan Amphibious Group, will help to strengthen regional maritime partnerships with partner nations and help maintain a safe and secure maritime environment. The U.S. Navy has historically maintained a presence in 6th Fleet.