Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Asking for help is sign of strength not weakness

By Maj. Gen. Mark Brown and Master Sgt. Derik New, 2nd Air Force / Published December 02,

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFNS) -- Growing up I was a big fan of Muhammad Ali. He was the world heavyweight boxing champion and unashamedly referred to himself as "The Greatest." I vividly remember a reporter asking Ali, "When did you know that you were 'The Greatest?’" Before Ali could answer, the reporter offered, "Perhaps it was when you knocked out George Foreman in 1974?"

Ali shook his head in disagreement, so the reporter continued.

"Maybe it was when you destroyed Sonny Liston in the world heavyweight championship in 1964?" Again, Ali shook his head.

Then Ali told the story of when he knew he was the greatest. It happened in 1973 when he faced Ken Norton at the San Diego Sports Arena. As Ali entered the arena, the crowed was in a frenzy, cheering "Ali, Ali, Ali!"

The world champion stepped in the ring and quickly found himself overmatched against the bigger Norton, suffering a broken jaw in the second round. Ali found the strength to finish the 12-round bout, but suffered only his second defeat in 43 professional fights. Through this trial, after having his jaw broken and being knocked senseless but somehow remaining on his feet, is when Ali truly came to believe he was the greatest.

To prove that point, Ali went on to beat Ken Norton in their next two matches.

Being knocked out and having to bounce back is all but inevitable for most of us. This is especially true for those of us in the business of delivering air power for America. Our mission can be stressful and those stresses can be further complicated by the everyday challenges of life. The good news is that, regardless of our situation, there is always a helping hand. The act of reaching out to these individuals may be difficult, but should never be thought of as a sign of weakness. In fact, recognizing you need help, and seeking that help, only builds resilience and strengthens your character. Knowledge of this indirect benefit is well documented throughout history.

Per John Heywood, an English author and playwright in the early 16th century; "If you will call troubles experiences, and remember that every experience develops some latent force within you, you will grow vigorous and happy, however adverse your circumstances may seem to be."

We all need help every now and then. Some individuals feel very comfortable asking for financial, spiritual, physical, or emotional help during difficult times; however, many others are unable to recognize when help is needed, or are just reluctant to ask. For those who prefer to do things themselves, so as not to burden others, the situation or experience can eventually become such a weight that the individual is unable to go at it alone or is already in over their head.

Air Force physicians, mental health providers, chaplains, first sergeants, commanders, and wingmen are all there to help. There are also many programs that allow you to talk or research your situations, such as our family readiness centers, our Military Crisis Line, the Air Force Suicide Prevention web site, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, and The Airman's Guide for Assisting Personnel in Distress. But the fact remains, if you don't reach out, it's difficult to offer assistance.

As military members, your country relies on your service and we understand the burden that can be levied upon you and your families. Always remember, you are not alone with this and someone is there to help.

My wish to you this holiday season is that you will ask for help if you need it. Just remember that even "The Greatest" had to bounce back to truly realize his greatness.

COMACC visits Team Al Udeid

by Senior Airman Kia Atkins
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

12/2/2014 - AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar  -- Wingmanship, budget concerns, and force management were a few of the topics Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, discussed with Airmen during his visit here, Nov. 25.

"I know force management caused a lot of turbulence for folks, and for that, I sincerely and truly apologize," Carlisle said. "The good news is that most of the force shaping is done and we expect little in the future. It will still happen inside the margins, but it will be handled mostly through normal attrition and voluntary programs."

Carlisle also offered his perspective on another important issue impacting the force, namely the budget.

"The budget will continue to go down," he said. "All of us, collectively, and certainly the leadership of the Air Force, have to make sure that whatever our budget is, we owe it to the American people to give them the best Air Force we can with the amount of money and resources we have. Today, we have more mission requirements than we do money, manpower, or time; which means, we are going to have to prioritize."

Carlisle briefly spoke about the changes affecting enlisted and officer professional development as well as more difficult subjects such as safety, suicide, and sexual assault.

"We need to have this conversation even though it's difficult," he said. "The fix, the answer to our challenges, are all of us. When you see someone having a problem, you need to reach out to them."

Carlisle wrapped up his all call by thanking Grand Slam Airmen.

"Thank you for the incredible work you do and thank you for stepping up and doing every single thing the Air Force asks you to do and doing it better than anyone else in the world. Take care of yourselves, take care of each other, and we will continue to be the best Air Force in the world."

It was a message he and Chief Master Sgt. Steve McDonald, ACC command chief, also brought to individual Airmen as they visited facilities and met with Airmen.

The general and ACC command chief also each attended luncheons for enlisted personnel and officers where they answered questions ranging from the changing culture of the Air Force and its strategic focus, to budget concerns.

During the visit Carlisle and McDonald also recognized 379th Air Expeditionary Wing's outstanding performers, including Master Sgt. Daryl Bagley, 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, Staff Sgt. Lakeva Parrott, 379th AEW, Tech. Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, Tech. Sgt. Matthew Otteman, 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron and Capt. Sean Finney, 379th Expeditionary Medical Support Squadron.

"Thank you all for what you do," Carlisle said. "Thank you for being great Airmen and for stepping up and making things happen."

Report details causes of July accident at Pope Army Airfield

Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

12/2/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill -- Air Mobility Command released the results of a ground accident investigation board regarding the July 17 accident at Pope Army Airfield, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Staff Sgt. Timothy Wright, assigned to the 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, was struck by a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (Humvee) during the course of an Air Force squadron-level training exercise. Although several unit members were medical personnel and immediately performed advanced life support measures, Staff Sgt. Wright died as a result of the injuries sustained in the mishap.

The board president identified several relevant human factors in the mishap: the driver may have focused his conscious attention on certain cues to the exclusion of others, leading to an unsafe situation; a lack of understanding of changes to the exercise scenario; insufficient time to adequately plan those changes; and an inadequate risk management assessment.

The GAIB report is the result of a four-week investigation that included site visits; witness testimony; input from technical experts; review of security footage; review of planning, maintenance, and training records; and review for compliance with Air Force directives and guidance.

Slotkin Vows to Address Global Security Challenges

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2014 – If confirmed as the next assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, Elissa Slotkin told a Senate panel today that she’d develop U.S. policies and partnerships to address security challenges in an increasingly complex world.

Slotkin, currently the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs is the principal adviser to the defense secretary and the undersecretary of defense for policy on security policy and strategy involving Europe -- including NATO -- the Middle East and Africa.

“America’s security interests in these parts of the world are as profound as they are vast,” she said.

NATO Alliance

The United States needs to ensure the NATO alliance is prepared to meet the challenge Russia poses with its aggressive behavior, Slotkin said. The U.S., she added, must also meet the threats emanating from the Middle East and North Africa and proliferating extremist groups in both Central Asia and Africa. There is also the challenge posed by transnational criminal gangs in the Western Hemisphere.

Slotkin spoke about a Turkish request to create a no-fly zone or a buffer zone against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant inside Syria along its border with Turkey.

“The idea of a safe zone or a buffer zone or a no-fly zone is something the Turks have been talking to us about for a couple of years now,” she said. “We’re in regular discussion about their proposal.”

She noted Vice President Joe Biden talked about the proposal with Turkish authorities during his visit to the country last week.

“We currently don’t think a no-fly zone fits the bill, but it is something that the elements of which we are looking at very closely to see if there is a proposal that advances our combined objectives,” she said. “The proposal involves a full range of air and land elements.”

Assistance for Ukraine

On Ukraine, U.S. officials are looking at proposals to provide lethal defense assistance.

“I think it is important to note that we have provided over $116 million worth of security assistance to the Ukrainians,” she said. “More important than that is the joint commission we have set up with the Ukrainians, the 25 visits that our generals have made from U.S. European Command to work on the medium and long-terms of the Ukrainian military to build them into a truly substantial force.”

In Iraq, Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi “is saying the right things and starting to do the right things on the critical issue of reform and reconciliation in Iraq,” Slotkin said.

“This is different than what Prime Minister (Nouri al-) Maliki did, particularly after 2011,” she added. “In fact, Prime Minister Abadi has been deconstructing some of the things that Maliki did during his time.”

Abadi removed 20-plus Ministry of Interior officials today for corruption and mismanagement, Slotkin said.

If confirmed, Slotkin said she’d push to build capabilities and capacity for allies worldwide.

“We’ve all talked about the complexities of the world problems, the unpredictability of the world and there is nothing more important than the capacity and capabilities of partners in addressing those common threats,” she said.

North Korea 'Volatile and Dangerous' Pacom Nominee Says

By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2014 – The nominee to become the next commander of U.S. Pacific Command told Congress today that North Korea is the most volatile and dangerous threat in the Asia-Pacific region.

North Korean Threats

Kim Jong Un is opportunistic, unpredictable and ruthless as he seeks to acquire nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them intercontinentally, Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. said during his nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

And, he added, Kim is likely to take advantage of a weakened U.S. presence in the region if sequestration returns in 2016 as scheduled and forces the Navy to make cuts to its carrier strike groups.

“I believe that if there's no relief to the sequester, it will, in fact, increase risk,” the admiral noted. “It will increase risk to the lives of service men and women ... [and] it will affect the strength and the reach of our rebalance to the Pacific.”

North Korea's destabilizing efforts extend beyond the maritime realm and into cyber, he said.

“I believe that North Korea is seeking asymmetrical advantages over us and our allies in the Pacific, and cyber is just one of those methods by which they're seeking to get that advantage,” the admiral said.

China an “Enduring Challenge”

Harris, currently serving as the commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, told the committee that in addition to the threats posed by North Korea's activities, “The dramatic rise of China's military, the uncertainty about how it will use its growing capabilities and its provocative actions in the region represent our most enduring challenge.”

“I believe that a strong China, of itself, a strong military in China of itself is not a bad thing, and we welcome the rise of a strong China that participates in the international arena,” he said.

Harris said that while he's concerned about China's provocative behavior in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, he wanted to acknowledge and applaud China's efforts in other areas. China assisted in the removal of chemical weapons from Syria, he said, and in counter-piracy efforts in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden region. “Their work in the search for the Malaysian airliner, MH-370, their work in supporting the Philippines during the [Haiyan] typhoon disaster last year. These are positive things,” the admiral said.

But, Harris added, China's anti-access/area-denial strategies are worthy of a hard look. The greatest advantage the U.S. has in the region, he explained, lies in its submarine fleet. While fighter aircraft are the key to “being able to get in there to do the missions,” submarines provide “indisputable leverage” over China and any other adversary in the Pacific for the foreseeable future, Harris said.

India Key to Regional Security

And India's importance to regional security shouldn't be overlooked, Harris said.

“I believe that India is a key nation in the region,” he said. “I refer to my responsibilities as a Pacific Fleet commander as covering the Indo-Asia-Pacific. I use that term intentionally, because I believe in the strategic value or the strategic balance that's offered by India.

“It's a critical country and it's an important country, and I believe an important friend to the United States,” the admiral said.

“As we continue to defend our national interests abroad, our efforts are bolstered by our teammates in the State Department and across government,” he said. “Our collective efforts amid the challenges I have mentioned underscore the importance of America remaining strong and engaged in the region.”

“American leadership does matter,” Harris said. Since the strategic rebalance was announced, he said, the U.S. has broadened its operations with Japan, deployed Marines rotationally to Australia and improved missile defense and cooperation with South Korea.

“We've also signed an important security agreement with the Philippines,” the admiral added.

“The rebalance is real and, although we all have concerns about the fiscal landscape, I believe that America has the staying power to sustain it,” Harris said.

But more can be done, he said, vowing that, if confirmed, he will “remain laser focused on deepening our regional alliances and partnerships to increase our combat agility and readiness.”