Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Michael Murphy Enhances Maritime Security Patrols with Coast Guard

By Cryptologic Technician 2nd Class Ryan Harris, USS Michael Murphy Public Affairs

7TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY (NNS) -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) completed the first mission of its maiden deployment by aiding the United States Coast Guard in patrolling Pacific Ocean waters for illegal fishing and other crimes Oct. 25-Nov. 6.

Michael Murphy helped conducted the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI) during its first two weeks of deployment. The ship departed its homeport of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Oct. 20 for its first deployment to the Western Pacific Ocean.

"The OMSI mission was a great way to start our maiden deployment and provided an excellent opportunity for the crew to immediately begin working on a mission that has a direct, profound impact in the critical Pacific region," said Cmdr. Todd Hutchison, Michael Murphy's commanding officer. "It was an honor sailing with the embarked United States Coast Guard personnel for the OMSI mission. Their professionalism and dedication to protecting and serving the Oceania island nations is impressive and is a tremendous benefit to this region of the Pacific."

By embarking foreign law enforcement officers from the Pacific Island Nations of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, and conducting boardings under their authority, Michael Murphy's crew, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 37 Det. 4 and the embarked United States Coast Guard detachment assisted these nations in maintaining the rule of law and projecting their national sovereignty.

During the patrol, Michael Murphy conducted 11 boardings with the embarked aviation detachment flyinh 24 sorties, making 27 sightings that provided important mission information.

"OMSI is a unique joint mission that leverages surface naval assets with embarked aircraft in conjunction with USCG Maritime Law Enforcement expertise and foreign law enforcement officers to project power and establish a hard, visible presence of maritime governance in the extremely remote expanses of the Oceania Region," said Lt. Craig Dente, command duty officer at the USCG 14th District Command Center, Honolulu, and served as USCG liaison officer for Michael Murphy's OMSI mission. "By establishing and maintaining a robust presence in the vast expanses of the Central Pacific through the OMSI mission, the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard stand together in the deterrence of the global threat posed by illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, as well as other transnational crimes."

The Michael Murphy is named in honor of Lt. (SEAL) Michael Murphy, who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for valorous service during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan in 2005. The ship was commissioned in Oct. 2012 in Murphy's home state of New York.

Michael Murphy is on deployment to the 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Faith in training

by Airman 1st Class Lauren Pitts
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

11/18/2014 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- A pilot is forced to eject, it is a crash landing or their aircraft has been shot down. They are over the open ocean or in enemy territory. For an air crew member, it is one of the worst-case scenarios.

In the middle of the ocean or the wilderness of a combat zone, it is up to the crew to survive on their own. Until help arrives, they must rely on their training: the training to survive in a one-man raft, the training to avoid being taken captive by enemy forces. The training that Staff Sgt. Anthony J. Barrette, 5th Operations Support Squadron operations and training NCO, and Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape instructor, hopes no one ever needs to use.

Barrette, one of only two SERE instructors on base, teaches Code of Conduct Continuation Training, a survival course required for pilots and aircrews every three years.

"Aircrews are in higher risk of being isolated in a number of different places, whether it's combat or non-combat," Barrette said. "Our training is designed to give the skills and knowledge to survive regardless of the situation."

The most recent class to pass through SERE's curriculum underwent both basic water survival and combat survival training, Barrette explained. So, donning full flight suits, parachutes, and life vests, Barrette and the aircrews took to the base pool.

Exercising scenarios where the crew landed over open water, they were taught how to deploy their life raft, survive in it and find sustenance. They also learned how to react in a situation where their parachute has landed over them or inflated and is dragging them through the water.

"We teach them not to panic, regardless of what's going on," Barrette said. "They've been trained on how to handle this."

The second portion of training, combat survival, takes place approximately 50 miles south of Minot. In this secluded prairie, the aircrews and instructors operated the scenario of landing in enemy territory and evading capture. All the while, they trained with the mindset that their worst day as an evader is better than their best day as a captive.

The crews were taught the basics of evasion: navigation, and how to navigate while evading; how to collect food and water; how to properly camouflage; how to build a small shelter and how to build a fire without being seen, Barrette explained.

"Them having this training gives them peace of mind while they're flying and doing their mission," Barrette said. "If something were to happen where they end up on the ground, they know they've been trained on how to survive."

For Barrette, his 12 years of experience in SERE has made this training second nature to him. Aircrew after aircrew, course after course, he passes his knowledge on to each student with both parties understanding the possible reality of each exercise.

"We're sending people over to hostile environments, and there is always the possibility that they'll be shot down. They need to know what to do so they can come home," Barrette said. "The ultimate goal of anyone who hits the ground is to come home."

Military Family Month recognizes sacrifice, duty

by Staff Sgt. Katherine Holt
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

11/18/2014 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The U.S. Census Bureau reported, in their Oct. 3, research, there were more than 115 million households in the U.S.

With service members making up less than one percent of the population, the number of military families is barely visible when thrown in the mix of civilian household numbers; however, they stand out when discussing their sacrifice and responsibility.

"The selflessness of our military families tells a story of unfailing duty and devotion," said President Barack Obama in his 2014 Presidential Proclamation for Military Family Month. "Through long deployments, difficult separations, and moves across the country and overseas, spouses and partners put their careers on hold and children take on extra responsibilities.  With grace and resilience, families endure the absence of loved ones and shoulder the burdens of war.  And when battle ends and our service members return home, their families support their transition and recovery."

While no military family is the same, each branch of the Armed Forces offers programs that support all types of military families. The Air Force's avenue of support comes through the Airman & Family Readiness Center.

"The Airman & Family Readiness Center provides Airmen and families support and services to assist with adaptation to the challenges and demands of expeditionary operations and the military lifestyle, " said Stephanie Reyes, A&FRC chief at Barksdale AFB. "The A&FRC accomplishes this with education, information and referral services throughout the military life cycle from first term Airmen to transitioning Airmen."

Stress is something most men and women, regardless of their military career, face daily.

"Everyone has different coping skills to deal with stressful events in their lives," Reyes explained. "Therefore, military life can create an endless list of potential stress such as being married to a service member, raising military children, military moves and deployments."

The A&FRC provides support for military families through programs like Spouse Employment, Bundles for Babies and the Exceptional Family Member Program.

"Some of the anxiety of military life can be alleviated by knowledge," said Reyes. "Newly married spouses to a military member can attend Heart Link, AF 101 for Spouses, offered quarterly by the A&FRC. The A&FRC offers mandatory weekly pre and post deployment briefings for the service member, and spouses are highly encouraged to attend with or without the service member."

For every change in a military family's life, the A&FRC has an educational class.

"The better prepared an individual is for the changes, the less stressful the life event," Reyes said.

Wrapping up his proclamation, President Obama called on all Americans to, "honor military families...for the tremendous contributions they make in support of our service members and our Nation."

Whether it is a family of two or six, every military family matters, and with the many programs provided, service members can rest easy knowing their loved ones are being cared for.

For more information on support provided to Airmen and families contact your local A&FRC.

Odierno: Changing World Requires New Look at Army’s Size

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2014 – The Army is going to shrink, the service’s chief of staff said here today, but leaders must be careful that cuts aren’t draconian.

Speaking to NPR’s Tom Bowman at the Defense One Summit, Gen. Ray Odierno said events around the world have added their own pressure as leaders debate what ultimately will be the size of the force.

Next year, the Army’s active force will drop to 490,000 soldiers. Given budget realities, leaders have said the service likely will drop to 440,000 to 450,000 in the future, with some estimates putting the number at 420,000 if sequestration spending cuts resume in fiscal 2016.

Odierno has warned repeatedly that dropping the size of the force too low increases military risk.

“When we developed the new defense strategy in 2012, we all agreed that 490,000 was the right strength to execute the strategy,” the general said. “Then what happened on top of that was sequestration, which has caused the Defense Department to make more difficult decisions.”

Force Cuts Mean Increased Risk Level

Reviews after sequestration spending cuts kicked in said the Army still could execute its assigned missions, he added, but would increase the level of risk.

But the world has a say. When leaders made those assessments, Russia hadn’t annexed Crimea and threatened the rest of Ukraine. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant hadn’t invaded northern and western Iraq. Ebola hadn’t metastasized in West Africa.

Today, the United States has an Army brigade from Fort Hood, Texas, in Europe to demonstrate U.S. resolve to defend the region.

“We had also made the assumption that we wouldn’t go back into Iraq,” Odierno said. “We have 1,500 soldiers [in Iraq] now, and another 1,600 that will go in in the next 30 to 45 days, and we believe that is something that will go on for some time -- years, not months.”

And the United States deployed the 101st Airborne Division to West Africa to fight Ebola.

‘We Should be Very Careful’

“The world has changed since we made those [force reduction] decisions,” Odierno said. “Since that time, I have come out and said I have some concerns because of the changing environment. I think we should be very careful and mindful of the decisions we’re making.”

When the strategy was formulated, the general said, the thought was the use of the Army would go down. That has not been the case, the general told the audience. “I still have 55,000 soldiers deployed around the world,” he said. “I still have another 80,000 stationed in 150 countries around the world.”

The Army has soldiers participating in named operations on five continents, the Army chief of staff noted. “That hasn’t happened before in my career,” he said.

Odierno said the “velocity of instability” is increasing significantly, and he doesn’t see a downturn in the use of the Army. Sequestration will cripple the service’s response, he added, forcing leaders to cut the service to 420,000 soldiers.

The general said he will go to Congress to explain the situation again and ask for relief.

Air Force announces criteria for KC-46A Reserve basing

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- After extensive internal review, the Air Force on Nov. 9, released the basing criteria that will be used to select candidate bases for the first Reserve-led KC-46A main operating base.

The KC-46As will begin arriving at the first Air Force Reserve-led global mobility wing in fiscal year 2019.

The basing criteria under consideration include mission (proximity to refueling receiver demand, airfield and airspace availability, fuels considerations and the potential to establish an active-duty association); capacity (hangar, runway, ramp space and facility considerations); environmental requirements and cost factors.

“The KC-46A Pegasus aerial tanker remains one of our top three acquisition priorities,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “We will begin to replace our aging tanker fleet in 2016, but even when the program is complete in 2028 we will have replaced less than half of the current tanker fleet.”

The Air Force will evaluate all Reserve-led global mobility wings with a runway of at least 7,000 feet against the approved criteria. This information will be used to identify candidate bases for the KC-46A.

“This basing action is another great example of the total-force relationship the Air Force Reserve Command has enjoyed for many years with Air Mobility Command,” said Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, the commander of Air Force Reserve Command.

After the release of the candidate bases, Air Force Reserve Command and Air Mobility Command will conduct site surveys at each candidate base. Site survey teams will assess each location against operational and training requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure and manpower, then develop cost estimates to determine how to bed down the KC-46A.

Based on the results of these efforts, the Air Force plans to identify candidate installations in the spring of 2015, select the preferred and reasonable alternatives and begin the environmental impact analysis process in the fall of 2015 and announce a final decision in calendar year 2016.

“Bringing the KC-46A online is an important step in recapitalizing a tanker fleet that has been a leader in air refueling for more than five decades,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Mark A. Welsh III. “This new-age aircraft will achieve better mission-capable rates with less maintenance downtime, improving our ability to respond with rapid, global capability to assist U.S., joint, allied and coalition forces and better support humanitarian missions.”