Thursday, November 06, 2014

Airman wears many hats - and keeps them all tidy

by Tech. Sgt. Vernon Cunningham
JBER Public Affairs

11/6/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARESON, Alaska -- When inspecting dorms on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, you may expect to come across personal collections which catch your attention.

A miniature library, a fanatical assortment of sports memorabilia, or even an impressive stock of movies might make a room more memorable - but it would also add to the clutter that makes dorm residents sweat during an inspection.

One Airman maintains a sizeable display of his dedication to video gaming ... and still earned his squadron's Dorm of the Quarter award.

"My kitchen wasn't up to par for the wing," said Senior Airman Adam Fisher, 673d Communications Squadron client systems technician. "So I didn't win that one."

Fisher's full collection of gaming gear includes 20 different console systems; most Xbox and Nintendo series, PlayStation versions, and even a variety of hand-held gaming systems.

There are also more than 700 games. Some of the collection has been sent to his home of record for storage.

Fisher is a dorm chief, and helps fellow Airmen when they get locked out of their rooms or need other assistance with their lodging.

He also maintains a good working relationship with local dorm leaders and noncommissioned officers-in-charge of the facilities, and does what he can to improve the morale of his peers.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Fisher's volunteer efforts in the dorm seem to fit a motif.

"We play a lot of video games," he said. "We do a monthly LAN party at the Wired Café on the dorm campus. It brings together a lot of different units, and raises a lot of morale for that weekend."

He also works with the Wired Café annually to sponsor a 24-hour video-gaming marathon for charity; proceeds go to the children's hospital of each participant's choice.

"He is very passionate about a lot of things," said Adam Allen, 673d CS computer technician.  "He picked up the fundraiser, which I normally run, and did great. Last year we [raised] $500,but this year we raised $1,600."

Allen said Fisher took the initiative and went off the installation to find new venues for fundraising, coordinating a similar charity event in Anchorage.

"I would have never thought to host an event at a local computer store," Allen said.

Allen said one of Fisher's best qualities is that he is willing to boldly accept new challenges.

"One of the things that really sets him apart is that he is quick to learn and pick up new things, and dive into things he doesn't really understand yet," Allen said. "He is not afraid to do things wrong."

Despite being a new Airman with no computer experience prior to technical school, Fisher used the same bull-by-the-horns approach at the Communications Focal Point position where they currently work, Allen said.

"He just dove in," he said. "Once he got enough motivation and resources available, then he got going. He still makes mistakes - everyone makes mistakes - but that doesn't discourage him."

Allen said the Comm Focal Point is a broad, generalized job which can create a lot of stress because it requires knowledge of many different specialties. But Fisher keeps learning and pushing forward, Allen said.

"The work day is how you make it," Fisher said. "If you try to have a positive attitude and put a smile on your face and have fun with people, it gets more productive."

When Fisher is not organizing morale events, setting the example for dorm-room cleanliness, or motivating and learning at work, he finds the time to actually play some of his collection of video games as a method of rest and relaxation.

"I like sports like ultimate Frisbee, bowling, tennis and racquetball...but gaming is also a good form of interaction, if you have friends who are willing to bring their systems or towers to the day room or get together somewhere just to play," Fisher said. "It definitely brings up spirits when you are making jokes with each other and having a good time, hanging out with friends."

A day in their shoes: Defying gravity

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

11/6/2014 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy  -- The shrill sound of an engine resonates throughout the squadron as a captain taxis onto the flightline for another day of -- defying gravity.

Capt. Matthew Alexander is a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot assigned to the 555th Fighter Squadron and the mission is to deter aggression through a rigorous training program. It is his job to control a multirole fighter aircraft and push its capabilities to the limit, daily.

"At Aviano, we train for a lot of missions," said Alexander. "We simulate air-to-air and air-to-ground so we're capable of fulfilling those roles if the Air Force ever calls us to perform them in real world situations."

As a U.S. Air Force pilot, he is trained to execute a varied repertoire of maneuvers and missions but he begins his day like many others ... with a cup of coffee. But, any similarities to the Average Joe's office day end there.

Alexander arrives at the squadron three hours before his flight. This time is spent getting mission materials ready and going through a pre-flight mission plan in the vault. He and his flight lead will plan their execution of simulated scenarios that are thrown their way.

The briefing is crucial to the success of the day's flight, as any safety concerns are discussed during this time. The flight instructor and Alexander chatter back and forth, assessing the mission for the day and asking each other questions with their own language of technical aeronautical jargon.

Once both feel sufficiently educated on the day's mission plan, Alexander makes his way to the Aircrew Flight Equipment building to suit up for the skies. The gear, to the common eye, is similar to a jumpsuit and helmet, but each piece serves a specific function to ensure the safety and survival of any pilot that enters a cockpit.

For instance, donning an anti-gravity suit, commonly referred to as a G-Suit, helps a pilot withstand pressure put forth by aggressive maneuvers in the air and oxygen equipment allows Alexander to breathe in higher atmospheres. A pilot relies on all the equipment issued to him at AFE to keep them alive and if necessary - survive.

After dressing, Alexander walks to the step desk, where he is met by the day's flight supervisor. This allows for last-minute weather updates, flightline conditions, potential flight hazards and aircraft assignments before flying.

It's time to step.

A shuttle takes several pilots to their assigned jets. Alexander steps off, issues a sharp salute to the crew chief and begins his pre-flight inspection. With the maintainer in tow, he conducts a thorough, hands-on assessment of the jet. Once finished, he climbs the rungs of the ladder and enters the cockpit.

The engine screams to life. He slowly maneuvers the jet off the line and onto the taxiway.

He takes his position at the end of the runway and he and his flight lead hurtle down the airstrip and into the air.

"Flying definitely feels surreal at times, especially here in Northern Italy over the Dolomite mountain range as we can see for miles from the coast up over the snowcapped mountains," said Alexander. "We aren't up there sightseeing by any means but we can appreciate the view during our tactical training scenarios."

For training, pilots will fly either a missionized or non-missionized ride, Alexander explains. Today, Alexander is flying a non-missionized ride which means a pilot trains on a specific set of skills that they are trying to hone. Similar to practicing free throws in basketball, repetition is fundamental.

"I am going up to practice short-range air to air fighting" said Alexander. "[The flight instructor and I] work together to set up about a mile apart and call 'Fights on.' The defensive pilot will do everything he can to maneuver out of harm's way and the offensive pilot will  do everything he can to maneuver his aircraft to a position where he is able to deploy weapons. We'll set that up continually until we essentially run out of gas, so we get the repetitions needed to improve whatever skill we're working on."

The average training flight lasts approximately an hour to an hour and a half, said Alexander. After the flight, he turns the jet over to the waiting hands of the crew chiefs and heads to his debrief.

Each debrief consists of watching what occurred during the flight. This is possible thanks to a system that records the flights events through the heads-up display and multi-function displays. A debriefing can last approximately three to four hours.

"A lot of our day is spent learning from the debrief," explains Alexander. "We watch what we did in the air, if we made any mistakes, what we can do to correct them and do better the next time up."

Each flight fine tunes the skills of the F-16 pilot for the day he's called into battle and it's imperative that each pilot trusts their wingman. Their lives are in each other's hands and safety is crucial.

"When we fly in formation together, we are all responsible for safety but there are moments when one pilot completely depends on the ability and awareness of his wingman in order to come home safely," said Alexander. "That trust is forged through our daily flights together and results in a comradery unparalleled in other lines of work. Everything we do is founded on mutual support of each other to ensure that we fight, win and return home safely."

Dempsey Discusses Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions

By Lisa Ferdinando
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2014 – Though the U.S. military will respond to the Iranian nuclear issue if asked, diplomatic resolution remains the preferable option, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.

"Obviously, without straying into classified matters, we do have the capability, were we asked to use it, to address a Iranian nuclear capability," Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said during a forum at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York City.

There is a "challenge," however, Dempsey said: using the military instrument of power simply would delay Iran's nuclear ambition, as opposed to eliminating it.

Iran Abandoning Nuclear Ambitions is Best Solution

"What really makes the nuclear capability of Iran an issue is not centrifuges and ballistic missiles, but rather the human capital that has the expertise to regenerate it," the general explained. "Ultimately, the Iranian government itself would have to take a decision to move away from that aspiration entirely, and that's why the diplomatic track is actually the right track."

Iran has an opportunity for a diplomatic solution through negotiations with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5-plus-1, the chairman said.

"If they refuse to take the opportunity that the P5-plus-1 are presenting to them, and if asked, we do have the capability to delay their nuclear enterprise by some number of years, which I won't, obviously, articulate here," he added.

It would be a "much wiser course" for Iran to go the diplomatic route, Dempsey said.

59th MDW civilian named AFA's Outstanding Civilian Program Specialist of the Year

by Staff Sgt. Christopher Carwile
59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

11/6/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas  -- Each year the Air Force Association selects one Air Force civilian to receive the Outstanding Civilian Program Specialist of the Year Award. This year that award went to Nancy Hansen from the 59th Medical Wing at the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center.

Hansen is a restoration technician and certified clinical anaplastologist assigned to the 59th Dental Training Squadron.

According to the AFA website, the nominees are judged based on the "nature of their achievement, development of techniques or procedures that significantly increased mission effectiveness and breadth of impact."

Among her laundry list of accomplishments, Hansen and her team, have improved the lives of more than 1,400 patients (to include wounded warriors and trauma patients) through creating custom prosthetics. She has also provided world-class health care valued at more than $1.1 million dollars making her an instrumental part of the medical wing's prosthetics program.

"Our mission and goal is to help give those service members and wounded warriors a little bit of what they lost," said Hansen. "Hopefully, our work can help restore their self-image and give them some confidence."

In addition to her work providing direct patient care in the clinic, Hansen also helps educate and train future providers and technicians.

Hansen has lectured Air Force and University of Texas Health Science Center residents on maxillofacial and dental prosthetics. She is also credited with creating the first-ever facial prosthetic hands-on training used in the Medical Education Training Campus and joint dental laboratory technician training.

Although she's received awards at the squadron, group and wing levels; and has been featured in publications such as Airman Magazine and Air Force Times; the true honor for Hansen is being able to care for the patients.

"It is an honor to treat our patients, especially our wounded warriors," Hansen said. "I consider it a privilege to be able to help them in their recovery."

The Evolving Industrial and Contractor Complex

By Major General John Cronin, USMC, Ret.

Author of “An Inconvenient War

Why is it so normal for people to have profound understandings of a principle in one instance, only to have that understanding fade in instances that are eerily similar? Some can identify the symptoms of a sociological problem after a major event draws national attention to an issue. Fewer are they who can apply the lessons learned from these national problems to other areas that don’t necessarily share the exact same characteristics—but are related in important and obvious ways.

Everyone understood that having a police force that was not representative of the population of Ferguson, MO was a bad idea. Yet, in our democratic society, we have allowed our military to become uncharacteristic of the population. Basically, the socio-economic split between those fighting our wars and those avoiding national service has never been greater.

In WWII, probably the last war in which the entire country recognized that everyone had a stake in the outcome, all the population was represented. Looking at the names of people from elite families who sacrificed indicates that the war was a truly national effort. Importantly, everyone across the spectrum of society was in some way involved. The wealthy, with their ability to sway government, were attuned current events with much more interest to determine how their progeny were being used.

Contrast that to today, where only 1 percent of the people—generally the poor—carry this country’s burden. The super-wealthy who no longer have any skin in the game know the deployment of the military doesn’t affect them and therefore don’t exert their power to determine how it is used. In war, a nation’s most important endeavor, an event that should be all consuming, few sacrifice. Sure, many are concerned, but cheerleading doesn’t count.

Carl von Clausewitz, considered the world’s greatest political-military thinker, stated war is national undertaking that should touch everyone. Only in that way will wars be entered into with serious deliberation and pursued intelligently.

Based on that historic principle, let’s take a look at our current military model. Our latest wars were not paid for in real time. Taxing people to pay for the wars would have raised awareness in them, but the intent of fighting wars off the books is to anesthetize the population from taking interest. Having only one percent of the population impacted also allows for lack of public discourse over how our leaders are using or wasting our blood and treasure. The poor are under-represented in our society and don’t have a strong public voice that is heeded, so politicians go merrily along forgetting them and their sacrifices, other than to continually and cynically mention them while campaigning. In all wars money is made, but we have now developed a military-industrial-intelligence-contractor complex and each cashes in. Mercenaries are now a part of the warfighting equation. Clausewitz had no use for them. He considered them dangerous to nations because they represent the quest for money and are therefore antithetical to the national ethos of duty, honor, and country.

The events in Ferguson inform us of the dangers of non-representation of the public by the people who carry guns in the public service, yet we blithely allow this problematic template to be followed in pursuing our nation’s most important undertaking.

About the author
John F. Cronin holds a master’s degree in international relations from Salve Regina University. He served as base commander of Quantico, was chair of the Marine Reserve Policy Board and was a commanding general of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing. His new novel “An Inconvenient War,” explores the first days of the American conflict in Afghanistan.

CMSAF Cody visits Minneapolis Reservists

by Paul Zadach
934th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

11/6/2014 - MINNEAPOLIS ST PAUL AIR RESERVE STATION -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody visited Airmen of the 934th Airlift Wing and listened to some of their concerns during the Unit Training Assembly Nov. 1-2.  The chief and his wife, Chief Master Sgt. (Ret) Athena Cody, conducted an Airmen's Call and visited work centers where they met one-on-one with many 934th Reservists.

Cody explained that their visit was planned to coincide with the UTA weekend so they would be able to meet the greatest number of Reservists while visiting the 934th. "On behalf of Secretary James, General Welsh and the two of us, we are just here to thank you,"  Cody said as he kicked off the Airmen's Call Saturday.  "We want to thank you for everything you do, everything you will do, and we want you to extend that appreciation and gratitude to your families.  I didn't realize until today that you come here from thirty-three different states to serve our country, so it's important that we get out to talk to you to see what's on your mind and to just say thank you."

Airmen brought up their concerns about the downsizing of the Air Force and what that means to the future of the reserve.  Cody emphasized that there are four components to the Air Force: Active, Reserve, Guard and civilian.  "There is one Air Force, with four components. We are busy, we are not going to be less busy in the future but we are going to get smaller," he said. "That's what we're doing, and it's hard.  It's hard on you, and it's hard on the families, but it is the reality."

"By the end of the year we will have evaluated 80 percent of all the mission sets of the U.S. Air Force.   After we are done we will make some real decisions about where we will put missions.  There are some missions that better align with the Reserve component, so it makes sense to put more of the balance of these missions into the reserve so we have more capacity for the nation," he explained.  "I would be excited to be in the Reserve today knowing that the Secretary and Chief of Staff have publicly stated that they are looking to move as much of the right missions to the reserve component."

The Air Force today is the smallest since its inception in 1947.  Cody pointed out that at the height of World War II there were nearly 2.2 million Airmen in all components and at the end of 2015 there will be less than 500,000.  "In the last 20 years we have not grown one Airman, yet we are more globally engaged than we have ever been in the history of our country.  We are in the longest sustained combat operation in the history of the United States.  That is you, the ones who put the uniform on to serve this country, and it's your families who fought and sacrificed along with you."

After spending two days with the men and women of the 934th Airlift Wing, Cody said, "I came in here with a great impression of the Air Force Reserve and this visit just validated that impression.  I look at our Air Force as one Air Force: Active, Guard, Reserve and civilian Airmen.  They are impressive all over the globe; it's impressive what we do all over the globe.  Every time we get out and visit that is just further validated."

Hiring Heroes Career Fair Links Vets, Families to Employers

By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va., Nov. 6, 2014 – Private-sector recruiters seeking skilled wounded, ill, injured and transitioning service members, their spouses, family members, and primary caregivers offered interviews and showcased their companies during the Hiring Heroes Career Fair here today.

Jessica L. Wright, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, noted that while many younger veterans have not yet necessarily interviewed for jobs, their military skill sets and leadership responsibilities distinguish them as potential civilian employees.

“[Service members] are calm, cool and collected under stress,” Wright said. “They are responsible for individuals’ lives, a mission that takes them far from home, [where] people are depending on them every minute of every day.”

Employers Should Connect Skills to Positions

Employers, she added, should try to understand the rigors and responsibilities veterans have faced and best connect those skills to the right positions as they embark upon their civilian careers.

“You will understand the value and the leadership they can give you,” Wright said. “Frankly, they have preserved this intangible thing that every day we all get to enjoy –- it’s called freedom.”

Though the event focused on creating job opportunities for wounded service members, interviewers and booth recruiters also welcomed transitioning veterans and family members with a range of experience and education.