Military News

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Reserve unit breaks ice on new Air Force inspection program

by Capt. Cris Medina
433rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


11/3/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND -- In the pre-dawn calm of a November morning, 433rd Airlift Wing members gathered outside Building 828 donning personal protective gear and preparing for transport to fictitious "Camp Bramble" to initiate Operation Ice Breaker.

Operation Ice Breaker marks the dawn of the newly revamped Air Force inspection system aimed at giving more power to wing commanders.

The program, which was established under Program Action Directive 13-01 and beta tested by United States Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa, aims to empower wing commanders to run their wing's inspection system. By doing this, each commander will be able to focus on improving mission effectiveness, balancing resources and risks without the wasteful peaks and valleys of preparing for inspections.

The goal of the new system is to make inspections a non-event, part of the daily battle rhythm of continuous improvement, according to a July 2013 article by the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs.

The main objective for Col. William W. Whittenberger Jr., 433rd AW commander, who led the first group on the Ability to Survive and Operate phase of the exercise, was measuring wing readiness.

"The overall purpose of the ice breaker was to confirm 433rd Airlift Wing readiness, capabilities and to train to proficiency when deficiencies were noted," said Whittenberger, emphasizing the wing's mission-readiness goals in a high tempo global-readiness environment.

"The 433rd has to assure to a combatant commander that the person we are sending to the AOR (Area of Responsibility) is ready. This (exercise) is the stepping off point to assure that," he said.

Lt. Col. Fred McMahon, 433rd Airlift Wing Inspector General Inspections and Readiness director, also emphasized the importance of mission readiness and the transition from the old Operation Readiness Exercise to the new Air Force Inspection System.

"Our goals were to meet the commander's expectations, identify efficiencies and areas of non-compliance" said McMahon.

The wing plans to conduct more training and inspection exercises in the near future to continue to prepare members for deployment requirements.

AFGSC kicks off fourth Global Strike Challenge

by Carla Pampe
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs


11/4/2014 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The fourth Air Force Global Strike Command Technology and Innovation Symposium kicked off Nov. 4, here.

The symposium is part of the culmination of Global Strike Challenge, a competitive event where the top security forces, maintainers, and missile and bomber crews are recognized as the "best of the best" in their specialties. Competition events took place August through October back at the Airmen's home bases.

Teams from AFGSC's six wings, as well as competitors from the Air Force Reserve and Air Combat Command, arrived in the Bossier City area Monday for the symposium and official score posting and awards ceremony at Hoban Hall at Barksdale AFB.

Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, opened the symposium, stressing the importance of the strategic deterrence mission.

"We are a big piece of our nation's strategic deterrence -- that foundation, that bedrock from which our nation gets its security," he said. "We've assembled some of the best and brightest from around the country.... Ask [them] challenging questions, think about what they say and internalize it. Think about how we can make ourselves better."

Retired Gen. Jack Chain, former commander-in-chief of Strategic Air Command, was the opening guest speaker for the day, and highlighted the importance of leading from the front.

Chain shared valuable lessons he learned over the course of his 35-year Air Force career with the symposium attendees.

"One is to always set yourself apart from the crowd," he said. "Know what your boss needs. Know what you know and what you don't know, and how to fill that void. Always have personal integrity, and learn to work with a diversified team.

"Most importantly, do what is right -- and you always know what's right," Chain said.

Former Eighth Air Force commander, retired Lt. Gen. Robert Elder, talked to the group about the Air Force's legacy of providing alternatives to force-on-force conflict for the Commander-In-Chief.

"We are a multi-dimensional Air Force," he said, "and we are known for innovation."

Elder highlighted the Air Force's contributions to joint military actions from its inception in 1947, including the Korean War, the Cold War, Vietnam, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Odyssey Dawn and today.

"We protect the nation and its global interests by conducting global, regional and tactical operations in concert with national and partner instruments of power," he said.

The last speaker for the symposium session was Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak, Assistant Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.

Harencak's focus was on engagement and advocacy, telling the group, "the continuing relevance of what you do needs to be talked about, by all of you.

"For generations, the American people understood the value of what you do in the deterrence mission. They don't now. That is my fault -- it's all of our faults -- because we don't talk about it," he said.

The general spoke about the nuclear triad of bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and sea-launched ballistic missiles, and the importance of each, saying that if you cut even one leg of the triad, the deterrence mission is weakened.

"The nuclear triad allows us to give the President of the United States options," he said. "We have to make people understand the value of what we do. You are doing incredibly cool things, so let's talk about it."

Global Strike Challenge concludes Wednesday with a traditional score posting and trophy presentations at Hoban Hall on base.

Focused on the future: FIP leads the way

by Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs


10/31/2014 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont.  -- Over the past few months, many changes have come to the Air Force Global Strike Command community. What started as a grass-roots effort has become a monumental effort by the Air Force and its leadership to foster positive changes within the command.

Leadership being the key word; problems that arise from systemic deficiencies will inevitably make their mark on the leaders who command the system. It is the trademark of a good leader to implement swift and effective change to remedy those deficiencies and work hard to make a better life for the men and women they command.

"The nuclear mission is the most important mission in the Air Force," said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. "Were we backing that up with appropriate resources for people in maintenance with spare parts and modernization and all of the rest of it? Were we talking the walk or walking the talk? It struck me maybe we weren't doing a good enough job there, so I thought to myself 'we need some additional investments in people, facilities, maintenance, spare parts and so forth.'"

Through teamwork, and also with great success the leadership within AFGSC and higher have proven how important the nuclear mission is to them by providing swift change, and how much every Airman means to them by providing these changes based on their reliable feedback.

These changes have paid dividends to the success of the nation's global nuclear deterrence, while improving the quality of life for the countless Airmen who make up the backbone of this deterrence.

To date, more than 350 recommendations have been made by Airmen within the ICBM force, and senior leadership has listened.

"Last month, at the Air Force Association national convention, I was pleased to hear Secretary James mention various force improvements, announce key areas the Air Force needs to devote its attention to, and describe the nuclear mission as 'first and foremost,"' said Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, AFGSC commander.

"For AFGSC team members, having the support of both senior AF and DoD leadership is critical to continuing our cultural change," he continued. "These latest statements of support confirm the new 'Continuous Force Improvement Philosophy' is taking root, not only within our command, but also within the DoD. Thank you for your hard work in making lasting change for present and future Airmen."

The latest FIP implementations include final guidance for a new Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, which pays tribute to the men and women of AFGSC who execute the Air Force's most important mission.

For maintenance, $300,000 in funding has been designated for new tools and equipment, and six new authorizations per ICBM wing were approved to stand up the launch control center survivable systems team sections.

For security forces, $10.1 million has been approved to purchase new optics for defenders. An additional $330,000 has been approved for collapsible stocks and shorter barrels, improving tactical effectiveness. One million dollars has also been budgeted to improve training courses at Camp Guernsey, Wyoming.

In all, more than $200 million in funding between fiscal years 2014 and 2015 has been set aside for this mission. Over the next five years, Airmen of AFGSC will enjoy an additional $350 million, all being used to back them up and support what they do.

"I'm really proud of all the accomplishments that have taken place in less than one year; these are unprecedented shifts in our culture and philosophy", said Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, Task Force 214 and 20th Air Force commander. "I look at the Airmen in 20th Air Force today as America's greatest generation. They're all serving their country.  They're all volunteers.  They're all committed to the mission.  And they do a great job.  I have faith not only in the weapon system, but I have more faith in our Airmen because they care about what they do and they believe in what they do."

Throughout the command, there may be no one who knows how much this funding helps better than Tech. Sgt. Lee Olson, 341st Operations Group supply coordinator. Olson, currently stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base, sees and moves every piece of FIP equipment that flows from the commercial warehouses to the Airmen in Malmstrom's missile field.

He personally ordered more than 1,200 FIP items, totaling more than $400,000. Every item was hand selected and purchased by him based on direct requests from the field.

"Lately, there has been a lot going on in the Global Strike community," Olson said. "The Force Improvement Program has been at the spearhead of upgrades and changes that all revolve around improving the day to day lives of our people out in the field. At (the 341st) Operations Group supply we get a lot of direct feedback from the facility managers, chefs and missileers at the missile alert facilities. I am in a unique position to ensure this feedback and these recommendations get turned into actions."

Olson sees the whole process through from start to finish. Starting with input from the Airmen, he coordinates the requests through his chain of command and purchases the equipment needed to solve the issues. From there he distributes those supplies out to the field via the Airmen who drive out to the sites on a daily basis during shift change.

He gets a first-hand look at how the changes are having a positive impact on the living conditions of those posted out to the field. According to him, the new kitchen equipment, cold-weather gear and LCC quality of life items have caused a lot of excitement within the ranks.

"When we get feedback like that, it shows the FIP initiative is working and it is having a positive and immediate impact," Olson said. "I hope initiatives like FIP continue and we don't lose focus to continually strive to improve."

PACFLT Commander Awarded the Korean Tong-il National Defense Medal



By Arlo Abrahamson, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea Public Affairs

SEOUL, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- Adm. Harry Harris Jr., the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, was awarded the prestigious Korean Tong-il national defense medal Nov. 3 during a ceremony at the Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense in Seoul.

Republic of Korea Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Hwang Ki-chul, presented Harris the medal on behalf of South Korean President Park Geun-hye. The Tong-il is the highest in the order of Korean national security merit citations and is awarded to individuals who render distinguished service and meritorious contributions to the security of the Republic of Korea.

"Through six decades of armistice, our two nations have remained together, the closest of friends and the closest of allies," said Harris. "I am honored to accept this award today on behalf of all of our service members who have forged this great alliance over the years and continue to make it strong today."

The Tong-il award ceremony was part of a two-day visit to Korea, where Harris met with senior military and government leaders to reaffirm the U.S. Navy's commitment to the alliance with the Republic of Korea and the ongoing U.S. rebalance to the Pacific. Harris met with the Honorable Mark Lippert, U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Korea; Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. Forces Korea; Adm. Choi Yoon-hee, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Park Seon-woo, deputy commander, Combined Forces Command; and Adm. Hwang Ki-chul, the chief of naval operations, where he received operational updates and discussed future initiatives to enhance the alliance.

"Maintaining stability, peace and prosperity is what the U.S. rebalance to the Pacific is all about," Harris said. "A key component to that policy is strengthening our regional alliances and partnerships. I am committed to deepening the maritime element of our defense relationships with all of our regional allies and partners."

Harris also thanked the people of the Republic of Korea for their support of U.S. Navy forces who are forward deployed on the Korean peninsula.

"Thanks to the wonderful support we get from the Korean people, the U.S. Pacific Fleet can remain forward deployed," said Harris. "This allows the U.S. Navy to be where it matters, when it matters."

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

Pittsburgh named best command installation

by Staff Sgt.Jonathan Hehnly
911th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


11/3/2014 - PITTSBURGH  -- Cheers erupted from the crowd as the 911th Airlift Wing commander delivered the news to more than 1,200 Airmen gathered for a commander's call Nov. 1.

Col. Jeffrey A. Van Dootingh enthusiastically announced that Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station was the Air Force Reserve Command's pick for the 2015 Commander-in-Chief's Annual Award for Installation Excellence.

"This is phenomenal," said Van Dootingh. "It's great to have the base and its outstanding Airmen get credit and recognition for what we knew all long. It takes a complete wing-wide effort to accomplish the mission."

The annual award recognizes the top five military installations that are the most effective at using their available resources to accomplish their mission and have demonstrated innovative progress in successful installation operations.

Every year, the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Defense Logistics Agency nominate their "best of the best" installation to be recognized by the president and the secretary of defense.

Pittsburgh ARS has represented the command four times in the Air Force competition. Pittsburgh competed against four other AFRC host installations and won $100,000.

Pittsburgh distinguished itself in each of the graded categories that measured installation management.efficiency and effectiveness. The award focused heavily on mission support group functions, encompassing 12 out of 18 graded categories.

"Reading through the award proposal I could not imagine anyone beating us," said Van Dootingh. "Every possible section was covered and the numbers were outstanding. The efficiencies that we gain here I think could be benchmarked throughout the Air Force."

The award proposal package highlighted the air reserve station's efficiency across all facets of the installation.

Setting itself apart from other installations, Pittsburgh ARS turns a profit for the Air Force through strategic partnerships with the community, to include a joint use agreement with Pittsburgh International Airport.

Construction of a new lodging and Navy facility won the installation Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold awards. Pittsburgh became a joint service installation with the construction of  the Navy Operational Support Center.

"We have so many accolades already from the past year that we have received, which made it relatively easy to put the package together and win," said Col. Stacey Scarisbrick, 911th Mission Support Group commander. "We won multiple AFRC awards and individual awards throughout the year."

Pittsburgh will now compete against active-duty bases for the distinction as the top Air Force installation and for the top prize of $1 million to be used for morale, welfare and recreation purposes.

Installation Excellence review committees will visit and inspect the top three installations.

"Competition is tough," said Van Dootingh. "We will be up against the best from each major command. I look at us as a David in comparison to some of the active-duty Goliaths. They have larger bases and a lot more resources, but as I recall David won in the end; so I think our chances are good."

Face of Defense: Sailors’ Artwork Showcases the Navy



By Navy Seaman Everett Allen
USS George Washington

WATERS NEAR GUAM, Nov. 4, 2014 – For more than 20 years, sailors have painted bulkheads, angle irons and decks on the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington. But for a talented group of artists aboard the vessel, painting is a pastime, a bonding experience and a unique way of telling the Navy’s story.

In October 2014, Aerographer’s Mate 3rd Class Kristena Huck, from Deming, Washington, and Machinist’s Mate Fireman Elizabeth Bowmer, from Astoria, Oregon, completed the painting of two large-scale murals on the ship’s aft mess decks.

One mural depicts USS George Washington “crossing the line,” and the other displays the diversity of sailors through the depiction of various “faces of the Navy.”

Artwork Features Members of Crew

“Four of the five faces are actually based on people around the ship,” Huck said. “It was fun to do because a variety of sailors volunteered to have a character in the painting modeled after their face, which allowed the mural to reflect some of the Navy’s ethnic diversity.”

Each mural spans more than 136 square feet. Although several sailors helped throughout the process of creating the murals, only two remained to see the project through to completion.

“There was a small group of us that were actively working on the murals at the beginning,” Huck said. “By the end, it was just Bowmer and I pushing each other to get the project done. We both have similar artistic styles, so the murals really blended together easily.”

Determined to Complete Work

Sometimes finding the time to work together on the mural became a challenge, but Bowmer and Huck were determined to finish.

“Since we have two different rates, we didn’t get to work on the project together very often,” Bowmer said. “But we did try to schedule it so that we worked at the same time, so that we could bounce ideas off of each other.”

According to Bowmer, they share a commonality in their artistic passion and skill, and their completion of the murals means the beginning of new painting endeavors.

“Even outside of this mural, Huck and I work on paintings pretty regularly,” Bowmer said. “We live in the same berthing, so we get to sit down in the lounge and work on artwork together.”

According to Bowmer, her desire to keep painting and designing will never wane.

“I plan to continue with this hobby,” she said. “Whether we’re underway or in port, I try to practice as much as I can to sharpen my skills. I plan on becoming a concept artist and art designer for video games after my enlistment in the Navy.”

Homestead pioneers emergency communications kits, joint exercise

by Senior Airman Jaimi L. Upthegrove
482nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs


11/3/2014 - HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla.  -- The 482nd Communications Squadron here pioneered a joint base recovery exercise designed to shape the way  communications squadrons throughout the Air Force Reserve respond during emergencies.

"We're really proud to be the first base to plan and hold a joint base recovery exercise. We want to show AFRC that we're serious about how we operate this program," said Maj. Michael Wells, 482nd CS commander.

Five Air Force Reserve units from across the nation came here Oct. 18-26 to practice setting up Joint Incident Site Communications Capability kits and develop kit operating instructions.

"We all came together as a way to improve our knowledge and abilities for when we're called to deploy in support of a natural disaster," said Capt. Ryan Liss, 482nd CS cyber transport systems officer in charge here. "This exercise is about learning from one another so we can demonstrate air superiority during outages."

Each kit is catered to the needs of the base and local area, but in essence each kit contains telephones, land mobile radios, a satellite dish, laptops, and network connection equipment. All the tools necessary to keep key leaders informed of what is happening in and around the base during an outage.

"With this kit we can sync our radio frequencies with the responding local authorities so we can coordinate our efforts during emergencies," said Liss. "Being able to communicate is crucial to successfully handling any emergency and ours is specifically designed to hold that function at any military installation between the Keys and Tampa."

Participating units included the 452nd Communications Squadron, March Air Reserve Base, California, 440th Communications Flight, Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, 914th Communications Squadron, Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, New York, and the 94th Communications Squadron, Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia.

"The exercise allowed us to network with our sister squadrons at the hands-on level," said Wells. "We glean operating and repair information you can't obtain anywhere else."

With hurricane season at its peak, the timing was right for a practice run.

"During the response to the 9/11 attacks, inter-agency first responders weren't able to effectively communicate with one another which brought the concept of these kits into the minds of the emergency management community," said 1st Lt. J. Anthony Rubio, 482nd CS cyber systems operations officer in charge. "The concept became a reality when the issue arose again during the response to Hurricane Katrina, and the kits were put together shortly after."

Rubio said there was currently no standardization among the kits or instructions on how they should be used. He said the base recovery exercise mainly focused on what worked and what didn't so the teams could start drafting instructions to ensure efficient utilization of the kits.

The units spent most of the week setting up and tearing down the kits provided by the 482nd and 914th CS so that when disaster knocks on their door, they'll be ready.

"We were able to let some of our new technicians touch every piece of the JISCC operation. That isn't usually possible during a busy UTA," said Wells. "Working together with the other units has been great. They've come up with some really creative ideas that we can use here."

Once the manual labor was completed, the units started the process of tailoring comprehensive operating instructions to meet the needs of each distinct unit.
Meanwhile, members of the 482nd CS put themselves to the test while wing inspection team members inspected them as part of the ongoing Unit Effectiveness Inspection cycle Oct. 23.

"For the first of its kind, this inspection was a success," said Liss. "The members performed very well, mistakes were made, but nothing critical that can't be fixed with time, training, or a baseline operating instruction."

Representatives from the Army, Navy, and Broward county emergency management office came out to watch as the members demonstrated their proficiency during the inspection.

"We received a positive reaction from the guests that came out during the inspection," said Liss. "We were able to develop some potential future exercises from this and incorporate some of the local emergency response teams."

The operating instruction drafts will be sent to the units that weren't present for review and then package everything for Air Force Reserve Command headquarters to review and potentially implement.

"This was a big step forward in standardizing how we provide emergency communications support, and we look forward to this being an annual event that rotates between AFRC bases," said Wells.