Military News

Friday, November 07, 2014

Senior leaders, Airmen gather to focus on mobility mission

by Maj. James Nichols
AMC Public Affairs


11/7/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill -- More than 1,400 Air Force senior leaders and Airmen from across the mobility enterprise attended the 2014 Airlift Tanker Association and Air Mobility Command Symposium from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 in Nashville, TN. The A/TA symposium gathered total force Airmen and civilians, community leaders, and industry experts from across the mobility enterprise to promote education, understanding, and professional development in the mobility air force's mission.
This year's theme was 'Air Mobility: Accomplished by Professionals - Skilled and Respected.'    Retired General Arthur Lichte, former AMC commander and current Chairman of the Airlift/Tanker Association, set the tone by expressing his priorities: supporting mobility airmen, preserving the air mobility culture, and strengthening our bonds.

The event was host to several senior leader keynote speakers, including Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James; Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody; U.S. Transportation Command commander Gen. Paul Selva; AMC commander Gen. Darren McDew; Chief of the Air Force Reserve Lt. Gen. James Jackson; and Director of the Air National Guard Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke III.  A common theme among the keynote speakers was the message for all total force mobility Airmen:  "Thank you for what you do."

The senior leaders had laudatory remarks for AMC's recent operations, which include the 12 million pounds of cargo moved out of Afghanistan over the last 50 days by deployed C-5Ms, as well as the humanitarian support mobility forces have provided, delivering more than 100,000 meals and 46,000 gallons of water over the last few months. Additionally, the leaders commended mobility air forces for their air refueling support to nearly 500 airstrikes against terrorists.  According to the senior leaders who spoke at this year's symposium, these were just some examples of the successful feats by mobility forces throughout 2014.

As Secretary of the Air Force, the Honorable Deborah Lee James put it, "You did this without skipping a beat -- and never getting a break." She added, "It's a total force effort to make these things happen; mobility forces are the bedrock of Air Force operations."

Secretary James also added that mobility airdrops broke ISIL's siege of Mount Sinjar, saving more than 20,000 Yazidi people.  "This was your Berlin Airlift, and you performed admirably," she said.

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Cody also had high praise for the mobility fleet.  "There is no place on the globe that this Air Mobility Command can't get an Airman or where we can't get equipment," he said. "We stand on your shoulders. You are truly giants. Our Air Force is the most globally engaged Air Force in our nation's history. What you do has meaning."

General Selva offered words of praise as well. "I trust mobility Airmen because they provide solutions," he said. "We have run over 100 missions [in support of Ebola relief], all because mobility Airmen have opened the door to a relief effort that will save hundreds of thousands of lives. This air mobility team is unstoppable."

All keynote speakers made a point to highlight the total force effort in current operations.
"You use the total force team to accomplish things that no other military in the world can do," said Gen. Selva.

Echoing his point, Lt. Gen. Jackson's remarks included that more than five thousand Reserve Airmen are supporting rapid global mobility daily, as well as providing local support at home stations supporting firefighting missions, amongst others.

"Your Air Force Reserve is doing just as much as the active duty," said Lt. Gen. Jackson. "75 percent of current reservist joined after 9/11. This gives me the confidence that we [have the right people] to do these mission sets."

The National Guard Bureau's director highlighted the Air Guard's seamlessly-integrated capability as a proven choice for the war fight, an enduring choice for security cooperation, and the first choice for homeland operations.   "Guardsmen are always on mission," said Lt. Gen. Clarke. "You could be overseas defending your country and then come home and have to support a national disaster in your home state."

Across the three main of the AMC symposium, dozens of seminars were offered, focusing on professional development of mobility Airmen from around the globe.  Topics covered everything from current operations like airdrops in Iraq, to "new normal" budget realities, to the outlook and recapitalization efforts for the current and future tanker fleet.

One seminar was dedicated to an update on one of the Air Force's newest organizations, the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, which will have a direct impact on every installation.  The center was officially activated under Air Force Materiel Command Aug. 8, and will serve as the single intermediate headquarters for the delivery of installation support capabilities.

According to Col. Brian Duffy, AFIMSC (Provisional) vice commander, the unit's focus is to provide responsive, seamless support to installations, while reducing overhead and costs at the MAJCOM level. AFIMSC will consolidate functions now performed individually at each of the 10 MAJCOMs, which will help eliminate redundancies in support to Air Force bases.

As the final keynote speaker for the symposium, Gen. McDew provided closing comments and wrapped up the multi-day event.  "You deliver more than just military power.  In ways both obvious and subtle, you underpin American diplomacy." He finished, "You are our mobility professionals and Air Force leaders."

Kowalski first AFGSC Order of the Sword inductee

by Airman 1st Class Joseph Raatz
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs


11/7/2014 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE  -- Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, deputy commander of U.S. Strategic Command, became the first inductee of Air Force Global Strike Command's Order of the Sword in an official ceremony here, Nov. 6.

The Order of the Sword was established by the Air Force to recognize and honor military senior officers and their civilian counterparts for conspicuous and significant contributions to the welfare and prestige of the Air Force enlisted force and mission effectiveness.

"This evening, we celebrate a time-honored tradition in paying tribute to one who has set the standard for leadership and who represents the meaning of our sword: truth, justice and power rightfully-used," said Chief Master Sgt. Terry West, AFGSC command chief. "He is truly a leader among leaders; an Airman among Airmen."

Kowalski, a command pilot with more than 4,500 flight hours in various aircraft, served as AFGSC commander from 2011-2013.

Patterned after two orders of chivalry founded during the Middle Ages, the Order of the Sword is steeped in history.

In 1522, King Gustavus I of Sweden created a system of appointments that worked so well it was incorporated into the Swedish Army as a way to establish and maintain a cohesive, disciplined and well-trained force for protection of lives and property in the kingdom. Swedish noncommissioned officers would honor their leader and pledge their loyalty by ceremoniously presenting him with a sword to serve as a token for all to see and know that here was a "leader among leaders." This ceremony became known as the Royal Order of the Sword.

"It's hard for me to receive this and hear all of the accolades because I honestly was just very lucky," Kowalski said. "I was lucky to end up in the Air Force and to end up being in positions where I was taught and mentored by great NCOs and Senior NCOs."

The Royal Order of the Sword ceremony was revised, updated and adopted by the NCOs of the United States Air Force in 1967. Today's Order of the Sword is the highest honor and tribute the enlisted corps can bestow upon an individual leader.

"Of all the things I have collected over my almost 35 years, this is what I will truly cherish to my last breath," Kowalski said.

Langley Transit Center opens to accommodate military personnel returning from Ebola response mission

by Staff Sgt. Jason J. Brown
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs


11/7/2014 - JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. -- The 633rd Air Base Wing has established a precedent-setting controlled monitoring area at Joint Base Langley-Eustis to comfortably house and serve military personnel returning from missions combatting the Ebola virus in West Africa.

The camp, dubbed Langley Transit Center, is comprised of 21 buildings, including dormitories, bathroom and shower facilities, fitness center, cafeteria, and an entertainment and recreation center -- all built and managed by 633rd ABW personnel.

Per direction from the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all military personnel returning to the U.S. from Joint Task Force United Assistance in West Africa will undergo a 21-day controlled monitoring program, where they will be physically separated from family members and the general public.

"These are Service members that have had no known exposure to the Ebola Virus Disease. We are building a transit center that will facilitate their return from West Africa to their families," said U.S. Air Force Col. John J. Allen, Jr., the JBLE commander.

Constructing the center

Joint Base Langley-Eustis was selected as one of the Department of Defense's controlled monitoring area bed-down sites due to its on-base hospital with access to medical isolation capability, proximity to a military airfield, ability to provide services, lodging, transportation and controlled access to facilities. Installation leadership worked quickly to develop a plan to meet requirements.

The 633rd ABW established the camp in a pre-existing expeditionary training center, historically used during operational readiness exercises, inspections and expeditionary training scenarios.

"Here at Langley, we have a contingency training area where we train Airmen to go forward to various parts of the world and set up this kind of expeditionary site, which is one of the reasons why Langley was viewed as a good opportunity to quickly set up a controlled monitoring area," Allen said. "Our Airmen, the same Airmen that have been doing this kind of work in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last decade, are essentially doing that here."

In less than 72 hours, Langley Airmen, civilian employees and contractors quickly transformed the "bare base" buildings into a veritable "mini-city," ready to comfortably accommodate up to 90 personnel. By mid-December, installation leadership projects the transit center will be able to accommodate up to 150 Service members.

Base civil engineers retrofitted facilities with new heating, ventilation and air conditioning units, and upgraded plumbing capabilities, while communications Airmen and commercial internet and satellite television providers installed lines to pipe in telephone, high-speed internet and TV service for personnel to enjoy entertainment options and keep in touch with loved ones. Force support Airmen appointed the dormitories and common areas with furniture, appliances and linens to keep transit center residents comfortable.

According to U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Anthony Figiera, 633rd Civil Engineer Squadron commander, the existing infrastructure provided an "incredible opportunity" for the base to develop a well-appointed camp featuring as many amenities as possible for Service members to enjoy during their time in contained observation.

"Our goal is to offer the best support we can to the redeployers, provide good facilities where they can relax, [Morale, Welfare and Recreation] facilities so they may be entertained and have productive time while they're here," Figiera said. "Our redeployers coming back from West Africa did a great job over there and we're really proud of their service, and we want to make sure we can reintegrate them with their families as quickly as possible while following [Office of the Secretary of Defense] guidance on controlled monitoring."

"The U.S. military and the U.S. Air Force in particular has been doing this kind of work -- expeditionary bed-down -- for almost 25 years," Allen added. "We're pretty good at it; this is what we do."

Medical monitoring and security

While the first group of personnel arriving at Langley did not have direct contact with Ebola patients, controlled monitoring serves as an additional precaution before personnel are released back to their home station.

"Controlled monitoring is the process by which trained healthcare professionals - in our case, Airmen who are doctors, nurses, public health professionals - monitor the returning Service members for any symptoms consistent with the EVD," Allen explained. "This is just an additional safeguard ordered by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to ensure we are protecting these Service members, their families and the general population."

Medical professionals will abide by the established Ebola Virus Disease protocols, which include twice-daily temperature monitoring and protocols dictating what steps to take in the event a redeployer exhibits symptoms consistent with Ebola.

"We anticipate it will be a very quick easy process where people will breeze through the 21 days with no issues," Figiera said. "However, any time we've got a lot of people in close quarters or they've been traveling for long periods of time other sicknesses could present. Someone could come down with the flu or a common cold that could present a fever, which is one of the symptoms of Ebola. We're doing controlled monitoring tests twice a day to check everyone's temperature."

Figiera explained each Service member staying at Langley Transit Center will be issued a personal thermometer to check their temperature throughout the day if they start feeling sick. Any time a Service member spikes a temperature above the threshold that could be indicative of symptoms of Ebola, medical personnel will be notified immediately to transport the patient to USAF Hospital Langley, where they will enter isolation and undergo testing. Once the patient is determined to be clear of the disease, they will return to the Langley Transit Center to continue on the controlled monitoring period.

"We have very rigorous, well-established, and well-rehearsed protocols in place for the steps that we take should one of these Service members begin to exhibit any kind of a symptom that might become an indicator of the Ebola Virus Disease," Allen explained. "We are very well-coordinated with the Virginia Department of Health and other local medical treatment facilities. We'll get them through this 21-day monitoring process and get them home to their families as expediently as we possibly can."

Creature comforts

Personnel undergoing monitoring at Langley Transit Center will have access to a wide variety of amenities during their 21-day stay in order to provide the most comfortable experience possible.

"It's very important to recuperate the individuals before they head home to see their family members," said Lt. Col. Gregory Beaulieu, 633rd Force Support Squadron commander. "We're here to make sure that they have the facilities they need, whether that's food, fitness, lodging, or recreational facilities and MWR, to make them feel as comfortable as they can during this process."

In addition to climate-controlled dormitories with in-room phones and refrigerators, the camp boasts a robust fitness center, complete with cardiovascular and strength training equipment, as well as high-definition television for patrons to enjoy while exercising.

Beaulieu and his staff leveraged the installation's existing inventory of fitness equipment and furniture to appoint the facilities at the transit center at a minimal cost to the Air Force.

"We were able to recapitalize on the two fitness facilities at Langley Air Force Base and take eight treadmills, eight [elliptical trainers] and other equipment that wasn't most utilized at those centers and move it in here that we know the redeployers could use," Beaulieu said.

Keeping Service members connected to loved ones during their stay is a priority. To improve this, technicians built a Wi-Fi internet network servicing the entire transit center for them to tap into for communication and entertainment purposes.

"We worked with local cable providers to have Wi-Fi for the entire camp," Beaulieu said. "We've also established what we're calling 'The Hub,' a multi-purpose room featuring video game consoles, flat screen televisions to enjoy movies, and computers with video-chat capabilities to contact loved ones across the United States."

Beaulieu's food service team will provide three hot meals each day for those staying at the transit center using a cost-effective process designed to streamline delivery. Rather than establish a new dining facility at the camp, 633rd FSS personnel have created a menu for residents to select from, and will prepare the food at the installation's existing facilities and deliver the meals to the camp.

"Each day [residents] choose their menu for each meal and we'll package that in Styrofoam containers and bring it to them," Beaulieu said. "This allows us to save resources, as we don't have to build a dining facility on camp and can still provide them a hot meal they need versus using [meals, ready to eat] or boxed [meals.]"
In addition to delivered meals, personnel will be allowed to purchase items from an Army and Air Force Exchange Service concessionaire and order items to be delivered to the transit center, where they can utilize outdoor picnic areas at the center's pavilion, grills and fire pits.

Just as separate dormitories are designated for males and females, the camp features two permanent bathroom and shower facilities, which include a pair of washers and dryers for camp residents to utilize. Additionally, the installation will contract laundry service for residents, allowing them to drop off laundry and have it returned cleaned within 48 hours.

Langley Transit Center will feature a "mayor's cell" just outside the perimeter, which will be manned during duty hours and accessible via telephone after duty hours. The installation has appointed a "camp mayor," U.S. Air Force Capt. Jasmine Pettie of the 633rd CES, who will lead a team of Service members to facilitate the administrative needs of personnel staying at the transit center and ensure those staying are cared for.

"The camp mayor cell will be the [command and control] structure at [Langley Transit Center] that will take care of all deploying members," Beaulieu said.
Additionally, Airmen of the 633rd Security Forces Squadron will provide 24-hour security of the complex, and all installation emergency and maintenance services will be readily available at the transit center.

"There are phones in all facilities, fire alarm capabilities, and emergency response just a few minutes away," Figiera said. "Were going to make sure our redeployers are safe and have access to outside sources if they have any needs or wants while they're here."

Allen affirmed the unwavering commitment of JBLE personnel in providing the best experience possible for those Service members in the controlled monitoring area.

"Our timeline is however long Headquarters Air Force needs us to have this facility open, and that's something that we can do," Allen said. "While this is a tough deal for Service members coming back, they understand why it's happening and we're going to deliver an experience that is both comfortable and positive for them."

Guard Airmen join forces in Senegal, establish airlift squadron for Ebola response

by Maj. Dale Greer
Joint Task Force Port Opening Senegal Public Affairs


11/7/2014 - DAKAR, Senegal -- More than 35 Airmen and two Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, arrived here recently to establish the 787th Air Expeditionary Squadron and fly humanitarian cargo into Liberia as part of Operation United Assistance, the mission to fight Ebola in West Africa.

The Dyess Airmen, all from the 317th Airlift Group and 7th Bomb Wing, joined forces with more than 70 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Contingency Response Group, who have been operating a cargo hub at Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport in Dakar since Oct. 5.

The 787th flew its first sortie into Liberia Nov. 4, airlifting more than eight tons of medical equipment, stretchers, blood, bleach and other supplies, according to U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Brock, a C-130 pilot and the squadron's commander.

"Our airlift mission here is extremely important, particularly as the number of deployed U.S. forces continues to increase," Brock said. "We will be flying daily sorties into the affected areas to deliver supplies and equipment that are mission-essential, both to the sustainment of troops and to ongoing efforts to contain and eliminate the Ebola outbreak.

"The 787th is executing a noble mission," he continued. "I'm very proud of the team and their professionalism as we've stood up our squadron here. We're excited to work with the 123rd CRG and build on the foundation they've established in Dakar."

Two more C-130 aircraft and about 90 additional Airmen are expected to arrive from Dyess and Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, in the coming weeks, bringing the 787th to full operational capacity for its 120-day mission by the end of the month.

The 787th's Airmen are working in close partnership with their Kentucky Air Guard colleagues, whose primary task is to offload cargo arriving in Senegal by 747 aircraft, stage it for forward movement, and upload it to Dyess C-130s for delivery to Liberia.

Since Oct. 5, the Kentucky troops -- augmented by six active-duty Airmen from Travis Air Force Base, California, and Joint Base Maguire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey -- have coordinated flights for 128 military and civilian-contract aircraft, processed 336 passengers and handled more than 600 tons of cargo.

"I couldn't be more pleased by what our Airmen have accomplished in such a short period of time," said U.S. Air Force Col. David Mounkes, commander of the 123rd Contingency Response Group and Joint Task Force-Port Opening Senegal. "It is especially gratifying to know that we're part of a much larger, global effort to render assistance to people who need our help fighting a horrible disease that has claimed more than 4,000 lives."

"Our unit was created to respond to contingencies of all kinds, from wartime taskings to natural disasters," he said. "Every Airman in the group volunteered to join because he or she wanted to be a part of something that can deliver aid where it's needed, when it's needed, as efficiently as possible. This is what we do, and we feel privileged to be able to do it."

U.S. Air Force operations in Senegal are part of a massive "whole-of-government" approach to Operation United Assistance, directed by the U.S. Agency for International Development and incorporating a broad array of federal agencies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent to the Department of Defense.

The U.S. military has committed approximately 3,900 troops to support the mission. They will staff medical laboratories, provide training to local health-care workers, and build up to 17 100-bed Ebola Treatment Units and a 25-bed hospital. More than 1,600 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Department of Defense civilian employees and contractors are currently deployed to Senegal and Liberia in support of Operation United Assistance.

NDMS exercise brings mass of emergency responders to D-M

by Airman 1st Class Chris Drzazgowski
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


11/6/2014 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- D-M partnered with multiple emergency response agencies from the surrounding community for a National Disaster Medical System exercise that took place here Nov. 5.

The exercise allowed key stakeholders to improve readiness in the event of a real-world natural disaster.

The conditions of the exercise required D-M to be the primary reception site for victims of a simulated natural disaster occurring on the Gulf Coast.

In the event of a natural disaster, emergency response teams would evacuate personnel to D-M, said Tech. Sgt. Crystal Fabian, 355th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management plans and operations NCO in charge. D-M would then provide the avenue to move patients to appropriate hospitals.

The exercise began when more than 50 simulated patients were unloaded from a C-130J Hercules aircraft.

"As soon as the patients leave the aircraft, they are brought to the triage area where they're registered and their medical conditions are evaluated," said Capt. Tamara Turnbull, 355th Aerospace Medical Squadron flight medicine flight commander. "The more urgent conditions need to be moved first, so they would go on any ambulances we have available."

With the involvement of D-M, eight fire departments, six hospitals, and the Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System, flawless logistics was the key to achieving success during the exercise.

"Any time you involve multiple agencies, there's always going to be areas that need adjustments," Fabian said. "That's just a matter of bringing so many different agencies together with so many different operating procedures. The exercise went very well concerning the coordination between the agencies and their concerted efforts to make it happen."

Aside from sharpening the collaborative efforts between D-M personnel and emergency response teams across Southern Arizona, Turnbull mentioned how she personally benefitted from the exercise.

"This exercise has allowed me to use all of the skills and experiences I've ever had in my nursing career and bundled them into one where I can be an asset to the team," Turnbull said. "This is what we train for."

Offutt Fire Department is recommended for international accreditation

55th Wing Public Affairs

11/7/2014 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- After an intensive, three-and-a-half day look behind the scenes, the Offutt Fire Department was recommended for an accreditation with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International on Nov. 5.

This recommendation comes after an exhaustive, two-year evaluation of the department, including more than 1,500 hours of prep-work, providing data, documents, emergency response information and exhibits to the assessors.

"This is a great day for us, just wonderful news," said David Eblin, Offutt fire chief. "They dug really deep, deeper than even I anticipated, but what they found pretty much validates what we're doing here at Offutt."

Once approved, Offutt becomes just the fortieth fire department within the Department of Defense, the fourteenth within the Air Force, and one of only 195 worldwide to earn the accreditation.

"This is huge and I take my hat off to the whole staff -- they've really earned this," Eblin said. "The bottom line is this all comes back to what they're doing on a daily basis."

The four person inspection team included fire-fighting professionals from Colorado, North Carolina, Washington as well as Italy.

"People have to be brave and show a lot of courage in order to allow four strangers from around the world to come into their facility like this," said Gary Curmode, Copper Mountain, Colo., Fire and Rescue Department fire chief, and assessor team lead.

"We reviewed their files, checked out their computers, watched them train, and asked questions, both one-on-one and in a group setting," he said. "It was very apparent that these guys have a passion for what they do and I commend them for their willingness to get this done."

Overall, the department passed 10 inspection categories 77 core competencies, with 43 different criteria, and 253 performance indicators.

"My sincere congratulations to the Offutt Fire Department," said Gary Chesley, 55th Civil Engineer Squadron director and Offutt fire marshal. "This is a tremendous accomplishment and I couldn't be prouder of them."

The final accreditation process takes place in early 2015 when a nine member Commission on Fire Accreditation International board comes together for a final review. They'll provide questions to the department and then vote on final approval. A majority vote is the deciding factor.

Once approved, the Offutt Fire Department must provide an annual report to the commission ensuring all requirements are being met. The accreditation is good for five years at which time the department must reapply and have established a method for achieving continuous organizational improvement.

"Now that this first step is over, we may stop and take a short breath, but it's important that we continue the process we have established," Eblin said. "We need to keep working hard and ensure our accreditation is where it needs to be going forward."

The Offutt Fire Department is a 62 member team, comprised of all Air Force civilians.

Seymour Johnson enhances USAF Weapons School capability

by Staff Sgt. Michael Charles
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office


11/7/2014 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C.  -- Airmen and aircraft assigned to the 4th Fighter Wing out of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, recently returned home from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, where they were tasked with enhancing the F-15E Strike Eagle capability for the U.S. Air Force Weapons School.

The 335th Fighter Squadron deployed to Nellis AFB from Oct. 11 through Nov. 1 to provide additional air support for the students attending the Weapons School's Weapons Instructor Course.

The squadron helped augment Nellis AFB's 64th Aggressor Squadron's red air forces, the simulated adversary forces, for those participating in the school's Weapons Instructor Course.

"We provide our students advanced scenarios that replicate the toughest tactical problems our graduates and their units may face," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Haynes, USAFWS deputy commandant.  "As part of this training, adversary air is absolutely vital to ensuring a challenging enemy presentation for our students. The members of the 335th FS have been instrumental in helping enhance that training."

The WIC trains weapons officers who will go on to serve as Air Force advisors to military and civilian leaders at all levels of government. The six-month course teaches Airmen to become tactical experts and leaders skilled in the art of integrated battle-space dominance across the land, air, space and cyber domains. During its six-month curriculum, members plan, coordinate and execute various missions on Nellis' 2.8 million acre Nevada Test and Training Range, all the while encountering simulated treats and enemy forces.

"The Weapons School has a mantra," Haynes said. "We build, teach and lead future weapons officers to be humble, approachable, and credible. Upon completion, every Weapons School graduate is immediately charged with providing tactical expertise, integrated experience and unvarnished advice across the joint force. To do that, we must provide our students a challenging syllabus and an authentic simulation of an adversary force."

While the 64th AGRS already contains an F-15 capability, due to the recent deactivation of its sister squadron, the predominantly F-15Cs operated 65th Aggressor Squadron, Weapons School officials began reaching out to various F-15 units to help enhance their training.

"Having the Seymour Johnson operators and aircraft here is critical to achieving our Weapons School advanced training objectives," said Col. Adrian Spain, USAFWS commandant. "It is particularly necessary because we're losing our red air capacity, capable of replicating a high-end adversary, with the stand down of the 65th AGRS and the accompanying loss of those F-15C aircraft."

According to Maj. Lucas Teel, 335th FS director of operations, it was important for those deploying to support the Weapons School to immerse themselves in their role as an adversary force so they can  help provide the best possible training for the future Air Force weapons officers.

"In the adversary role, our job was to study and accurately replicate specific, high-end threats that may be used against our allied forces for any potential conflict in the future," said Teel. "We are helping provide some of the best, most challenging and realistic scenarios available to Airmen. It's really a great opportunity to broaden our aircrew's experience."

During their trip, the 335th FS weapons officers also had the opportunity to integrate with the current WIC class' blue air forces, the friendly forces. By doing so, they were able to fly alongside those currently undertaking the curriculum were able to offer an operational Air Force perspective on accomplishing their assigned objectives.

Haynes expressed the need and importance of the school and the weapons officers it produces.

"Weapons officers are the seed of excellence," Haynes said. "Our school's graduates go on to foster the growth of tactical expertise in their squadrons, groups, wing, and ultimately the Air Force and joint force. Every six months, we graduate a class and replenish this seed. This continual process ensures weapons officers mitigate the risk of rationed readiness. We're fortunate to have squadrons Air Force-wide that can help this process because it's vital to our national security."

Chairman Says Israel Acted Responsibly in Gaza Operation



By Lisa Ferdinando
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2014 – Israel went to "extraordinary lengths" to limit civilian casualties during the conflict in Gaza earlier this year, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday.

Israel dropped leaflets and did "roof-knocking, to have something knock on the roof" to warn civilians to move out of the area, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said during a forum at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York.

"They did some extraordinary things to try to limit civilian casualties, to include calling out, making it known that they were going to destroy a particular structure," Dempsey said.

The chairman said the U.S. military sent a "lessons learned team" of senior commissioned and noncommissioned officers to work with the Israel Defense Forces about three months ago. The U.S. military members were interested in learning about the measures the Israeli forces took to prevent civilian casualties during the operation and how they dealt with tunnels, he added.

Hamas Poses Significant Challenges

Hamas had become "very nearly a subterranean society," Dempsey said, adding that this has caused Israel some significant challenges.

"The IDF is not interested in creating civilian casualties," the chairman said. "They're interested in stopping the shooting of rockets and missiles out of the Gaza Strip and into Israel."

The civilian casualties are tragic, Dempsey said. "In this kind of conflict, where you are held to a standard that your enemy is not held to, you're going to be criticized for civilian casualties," he added.

Dempsey said the Israeli forces "did what they could" to prevent civilian casualties. "It's an incredibly difficult environment, but I can say to you with confidence that I think that they acted responsibly," the general said.

McConnell crews recover downed F-16

by Airman 1st Class David Bernal Del Agua
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


11/7/2014 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Crews from McConnell Air Base, Kansas, helped recover an F-16 Fighting Falcon, Oct. 29, near Moline, Kansas.

The aircraft, which belonged to the Oklahoma Air National Guard 138th Fighter Squadron, crashed Monday, Oct. 20, and Airmen from McConnell provided support from the first response to final aircraft recovery.

"I think the Airmen from McConnell did an excellent job," said Capt. James Barnett, Safety Investigation Board maintenance member. "They were very organized and professional from the moment we arrived until we removed the aircraft."

McConnell Airmen arrived at the scene shortly after the crash occurred, and helped with everything from recovery missions to providing security for the area.

"As the nearest military installation, it was our duty to organize a response team and provide security on scene," said Col. Joel Jackson, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander. "Within an hour, we launched a team of more than 20 highly-trained and mission-ready Airmen from various Air Force specialty codes who secured the scene in just two hours. The team coordinated with local law enforcement, first responders, eye witnesses, and the land owners for the initial investigation."

McConnell partnered with Airmen from the 138th FW to complete the recovery process.

"The teamwork between members of McConnell and the 138th FW has been very fluid," said Barnett. "The total force integration was supreme. Everything from the initial response to the final aircraft recovery was smooth and flawless."

The Interim Safety Board, which was in charge of the initial investigation, handed over all the documentation to the Safety Investigation Board, Oct. 25.

"This has been the best handover I've seen from an Interim Safety Board to a Safety Inspection Board," said Barnett.

Barnett acknowledged the continuous effort put forth by the response crews.

"I was very impressed with the amount of hard work and dedication to doing an excellent job I saw from everyone involved with this accident," said Barnett.

Jackson contributes the successful response to the continuous training which allowed the 22nd Air Refueling Wing to respond in such a timely manner.

"This collective response would not have been possible if our Airmen had not been trained and ready to respond," said Jackson. "The remarkable professionalism, impeccable attention to detail, and flexibility demonstrated by our Airmen truly exemplifies what it means to be a Mobility Airman."

President Awards Medal of Honor for Civil War Heroism



By David Vergun
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2014 – President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to Union Army 1st Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing yesterday for helping to stop Confederate Army Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863.

Helen Loring Ensign accepted the medal during the ceremony, held in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, on behalf of Cushing, her first cousin, twice removed. Some 24 other descendants were present as well.

Long before Gettysburg, Cushing, who graduated from West Point in June 1861, "fought bravely" at the battles of Bull Run, Antietam, Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg, developing a reputation for "his cool, his competence and his courage under fire," Obama said.

Cushing commanded Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac, atop Cemetery Ridge. On that fateful day, some 10,000 of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's troops advanced toward them in a line, elbow-to-elbow, a mile wide, in the final, desperate hours of the battle.

Cushing Refused to Fall Back

Smoke from the guns obscured the battlefield, and the air was thick with lead. In the chaos, Cushing was hit and badly wounded, the president continued. His first sergeant, Frederick Fuger, urged him to fall back to the safety of the rear, away from the punishing fire. But Cushing refused, telling Fuger he'd rather "fight it out or die in the attempt."

Bleeding badly and growing weaker every moment, Cushing moved his remaining artillery closer to the front and continued to defend the Union line. "He used his own thumb to stop his gun's vent, burning his finger to the bone," the president related.

When Cushing was hit the final time, the 22-year-old soldier fell beside his gun. Obama said Cushing was later immortalized by a poet, who wrote: "His gun spoke out for him once more before he fell to the ground."

Letter to Cushing’s Sister

In a letter to Cushing's sister, Fuger wrote that "the bravery of their men that day was entirely due to your brother's training and example set on numerous battlefields." Etched on Cushing's tombstone at West Point is the simple epitaph, "Faithful Unto Death," the president said. And, his memory will be honored later this month, when a Navy cruiser -- the USS Gettysburg -- dedicates its officers dining hall as the "Cushing Wardroom."

Unbeknownst to Cushing, Gettysburg was a turning point in the war, the president said, and it was men like Cushing who were responsible for the victory. Historians often refer to where Pickett's Charge was stopped as the "high water mark of the Confederacy."

When President Abraham Lincoln later dedicated the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, he said these men gave their "last full measure of devotion."

Cushing's story "is part of our larger American story -- one that continues today," Obama said at the ceremony. "The spirit, the courage, the determination that he demonstrated lives on in our brave men and women in uniform who this very day are serving and making sure that they are defending the freedoms that Alonzo helped to preserve.

"And it's incumbent on all of us as Americans to uphold the values that they fight for,” the president continued, “and to continue to honor their service long after they leave the battlefield -- for decades, even centuries, to come."

Medal Was Long in Coming

Margaret Zerwekh, 94, a historian, attended the White House ceremony and was recognized by the president. Zerwekh researched Cushing's service in the Civil War. She was certain his valorous actions merited the Medal of Honor, and she lobbied her congressional representatives for decades to make it happen. She became interesting in Cushing's story because she lives on property in Wisconsin that once owned by the soldier’s father.

Typically, the medal is awarded within a few years of the action. Obama said. “But sometimes, even the most extraordinary stories can get lost in the passage of time,” he added. “No matter how long it takes, it is never too late to do the right thing."

This medal is about more than just one soldier, Obama said. "It reflects our obligations as a country to the men and women in our armed services -- obligations that continue long after they return home, after they remove their uniforms, and even, perhaps especially, after they've laid down their lives," he said.