Military News

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Air Force makes strides in combating sexual assault



By Staff Sgt. Torri Ingalsbe, Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Operating Location – P
Published December 04, 2014

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Eight-hundred fewer Active-Duty Airmen experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact in fiscal year 2014 than in fiscal 2012, and 500 more Airmen reported the crime over the same period.

This data was part of a report provided to the President, Dec. 2, that summarizes the progress the Department of Defense and all the services have made in eliminating sexual assault in the DOD over the past three years.

“The increase in the reporting shows us that victims are more comfortable coming forward, and believe they will get the services they need to recover from the trauma” said Maj. Gen. Gina Grosso, the director of Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.

A sexual assault report does not automatically trigger an investigation. Victims who choose to file a restricted report can get the care to help them cope with the crime, and the sexual assault response coordinator will assist them in getting any desired assistance. Unrestricted reports also provide care and assistance to a victim, while automatically launching a criminal investigation by The Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Victims can always seek care from a medical provider without triggering any kind of report.

“We strongly believe in victim’s choice,” Grosso said. “Victims always have voice and choice when seeking care after an assault. We want all victims to get the help they want and need and should never be pressured into filing one kind of report over another.”

She attributes the decrease in prevalence and increase in reporting to the culture change within the Air Force toward sexual assault, particularly at the commander level.

“Leadership involvement at every level the past three years has resulted in fewer sexual assault incidents and more victims reporting the crime,” Grosso said. “However, we still have work to do.”

Providing a robust sexual assault response system will continue to be a focus moving forward, but Grosso also wants to take a new approach to prevent sexual assault, emphasizing it’s everyone’s responsibility: individual Airmen, peer groups, leadership at all levels, installation-level programs and Air Force-wide programs working together to eliminate the crime.

“We’re starting the new year with a week-long prevention summit in January,” she explained. “We’re pairing Airmen from the field with primary prevention research experts to develop new prevention tools that will drive us to our vision of an Air Force free from sexual assault.”

Another focus area the general wants to address is social and professional retaliation that victims have reported.

“We have training modules this year designed to address communication and training to foster victim empathy,” Grosso said. “This needs to happen at all levels – from the peer group, to the first-line supervisors, with commanders taking the lead.”

Grosso shared that she is often asked if the Air Force’s vision is attainable and she unequivocally says yes. She believes Airmen join the Air Force to be a part of something that’s important for the Nation’s defense and have a set of values they want to live by.

“I believe we can absolutely create an Air Force free from sexual assault because there is no important task for the nation that Airmen cannot achieve,” she said.

AMC staff sees 'Excellence' first-hand with visit to the USAF EC

by Capt. Matthew Chism
USAF Expeditionary Center Public Affairs


12/3/2014 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J.  -- Twenty four Air Mobility Command staff members visited the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center to participate in an open forum here, Tuesday.

AMC staff members received a mission briefing, an overview of the USAF Expeditionary Operations School, educational demonstrations, and exchanged ideas about the future of education and training at the USAF EC.

"A number of us were discussing how many things the EC is involved in as we walked to the demos," said Brig. Gen. Kory Cornum, AMC command surgeon. "Thank you to all of your folks. Thank you for being persistent to get this group here because we have all really gained a lot of understanding about the EC from this trip."

The USAF EC is the Air Force's Center of Excellence for educating and training General Purpose and Mobility Air Forces personnel across the range of expeditionary knowledge and skills. The command trains over 37,000 total force students yearly through 92 separate courses and three geographically separated units under the USAF EOS. The EC also has direct oversight for en route and installation support, contingency response and partner capacity building mission sets within the global mobility enterprise.

"We are very proud of the twenty year heritage of this organization and our mission to arm service members with the skills necessary to project rapid global mobility," said Maj. Gen. Rick Martin, USAF EC commander. "Understanding AMC warfighters' needs only enhance the support we are able to provide to the field, so having the feedback and face-to-face interaction with this group is extremely valuable."

USAF EOS cadre prepare service members to be indispensable partners in support of Combatant Commanders across multiple environments. The newly consolidated Air Force Combat Airman Skills Training course represents the most recent adjustment to training at the EC.

"AMC was vital in assisting our organization through the process of consolidating the CAST course at the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Operations School," said Col. Jay Junkins, USAF EOS commander. "We could not have achieved this without their support and we stand ready to continue to provide the highest caliber of training to ensure our general purpose forces are prepared to survive and operate in a hostile environment."

The consolidation of CAST brings all pre-deployment training for combat support personnel, more than 3,000 individuals last year, to the EC. The consolidation is expected to create fiscal and training efficiencies for the global enterprise and more consistent and adaptable training programs.

Tailored and agile course development is a cornerstone for training at the EC. Course cadre are continuously looking for updated requirements and new delivery methods to provide better overall training for service members.

"We have an initial feedback when students complete the course, another feedback four to six months after students finish our course, and we do an annual course review to ensure that we are teaching the most up to date information in all of our courses," said Master Sgt. James Harris, 423rd Mobility Training Squadron Maintenance Supervision and Production Course director. "We are also constantly in the AFI's, talking with AMC (Logistics) and people in the field to stay current. If we're not at the cutting edge with the material we are delivering, then we are failing the customer and we take that very seriously."

McConnell Airmen mentor Kansas State University cadets

by Airman 1st Class Tara Fadenrecht
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


11/21/2014 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Twenty-four Airmen from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, took part in four enlisted-perspective panels to mentor over 70 Kansas State University Air Force ROTC cadets, Nov. 20, in Manhattan, Kansas.

The McConnell mentors were broken up into four groups: junior enlisted, non-commissioned officers, senior NCOs, and first sergeants.

Each panel included Airmen from different backgrounds and Air Force jobs. The Airmen spent 25 minutes talking to and answering questions from four groups of cadets that rotated to each panel.

Once these cadets get their four-year degree, they will be commissioned as second lieutenants.

"It's important that these cadets get a variety of information from the enlisted force," said Master Sgt. Ronald Cervera Jr., Air Force ROTC Detachment 270 NCO in charge of personnel. "It's important that they hear different viewpoints. It's important that they see what's really out there."

The mentoring session was an opportunity for the students to learn what kind of expectations enlisted personnel have for junior officers entering the Air Force.

Cadet Chris Campbell, Air Force ROTC Detachment 270 bravo flight commander, said that his goal is to hopefully become an air battle manager.

He said he enjoyed hearing advice from the junior enlisted members who are able to see Air Force daily operations first hand and emphasized the importance of having leadership who present themselves as being approachable and supportive.

"It greatly helps to know what all to do and what not to do as a second lieutenant coming in," he said.

The event was a chance for Team McConnell to get involved with the community and invest time into the future of the Air Force.
"We want to groom our up-and-coming officers to make them more effective when they hit their first duty station," said Master Sgt. Travis Craig, 22nd Force Support Squadron and Director of Staff first sergeant.

This was the second time that Team McConnell traveled to Kansas State University to provide mentoring to the ROTC cadets.

Cervera expressed gratitude toward the enlisted members who participated in the panels and said he is looking forward to working more with Team McConnell in an effort to grow and develop the future officers of the Air Force.

PACAF commander visits JBER Airmen, families

by Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs


12/3/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Gen. Lori Robinson, Pacific Air Forces commander, visited Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Dec. 2-3 to gain a better understanding of unit readiness and base capabilities and services while interacting with Airmen face-to-face.

While here, Robinson hosted an all-call with hundreds of JBER Airmen and Soldiers, where she introduced herself and outlined her priorities, which included taking care of Airmen and prioritizing efforts on the PACAF lines of operation.

"My first priority is taking care of Airmen and their families," Robinson said. "To me, that is huge. That is our nation's asymmetric advantage because of our national treasure of our Airmen and their families deployed throughout the world."

In focusing on PACAF lines of operation, the general pointed out that it was important for Airmen at all levels to give feedback to their chain of command to ensure maximum job impact to the mission. PACAF's lines of operation are: Theater Security Cooperation, Integrated Air and Missile Defense/Resiliency; Power Projection Agile, Flexible Command and Control; and Resilient Airmen.

"I can stand up here and talk all I want, but what we need to make sure we get is feedback, especially in these constrained times," Robinson said. "If something you're doing does not directly contribute to a line of operation, then tell somebody about it. Make sure leadership knows."

Overall, the general stated PACAF mission and goals will not change significantly.

"The mission, vision and goals -- I can tell you those aren't going to change," Robinson said. "We might tweak a little on the edges but the clear, unambiguous guidance is not going to change: It's the same with the PACAF strategy. Everything you're doing each and every day that relates to the lines of operations, keep doing it. It's important to keep doing what you're doing because what you're doing is incredibly successful."

Robinson also spoke to the importance of readiness to continued mission success across PACAF.

"We can have a force that's postured, but if we don't have a ready force, then when it's called upon, it won't be able to do the things asked of it. I expect you to be ready to fight tonight," Robinson said. "Whether it's flying, maintaining, wherever that is, that is important. What's also important is that you're mentally, physically and spiritually ready to fight tonight. Comprehensive Airmen Fitness and your ability to take care of yourself are hugely important."

Developing new leaders is also high on the general's priority list.

"To me, one of the most important things is making sure I find and develop new leaders. If I learned anything over my 33 years of being in our Air Force, it is that it's about being a part of something bigger than yourself. It's about understanding that it's not about me and it's not about you. It's about what we do and how we do it."

Robinson stressed leadership as key to one of her other priorities: fostering a climate of dignity and respect.

"In that leadership vein, the environment that your commanders set, and I set and I create is the most important thing in this leadership development idea," Robinson said. "I think the environment needs to be healthy where we all understand the rules and regulations. Each and every one of us needs to create an environment of dignity and respect."

The general lauded JBER's efforts to foster that type of environment.

"The things you're doing with sexual assault -- those small, group-to-group conversations you're having, you're being incredibly blunt and candid -- and that's huge," Robinson said. "It's a tribute to all of you wanting to create a better environment and create a better culture of dignity and respect."

Robinson was also impressed with how JBER's Airmen persevere despite the austere conditions, as her arrival coincided with Anchorage's first significant snow accumulation of the season.

"One of the things that really struck me this morning as I was looking out at the snow is, 'Wow! How do each of you embrace that arctic warrior culture?"' the general said. "You think about things differently here. If you're on the east coast, everybody races home to hunker down. [Here at JBER] now, the skis and snowboards can come out; all those things you do, you embrace it. When you embrace the culture like that, you embrace the arctic warrior spirit. It's a real tribute to the team and leadership here."

Airman 1st Class Kurt Lantz, 673d Contracting Squadron unit program coordinator, was one of JBER's Airmen in attendance and said he was impressed with the new PACAF commander's ability to connect with Airmen.

"I felt like she was very down to earth," Lantz said. "I felt she was genuine. She talked about family and that's important. It meant a lot. I felt her coming from an Air Force family, she's seen the sacrifices that have been made. She's definitely well in tune with the culture, the way the force has been growing, and where it's going."

AFSOUTH Airmen train Salvadoran firefighters

by Tech. Sgt. Heather Redman
Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs Office


12/4/2014 - SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- Firefighters from the 612th Air Base Squadron's Fire Emergency Services facilitated the El Salvador's Autonomous Executive Port Commission airport firefighter live-fires for 12 firefighters, Dec. 3.

The Salvadoran airport firefighters are required to have their qualifications completed annually on their ability to control a live-fire.  The evaluation and qualification, although held at Soto Cano Air Base, is not provided by the members of the base fire department.

"Holding the live-fires here at Soto Cano AB, works out well for everyone involved," said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Steven O'Connell, 612th Air Base Squadron fire chief.  "They use the same equipment we do, so there is no teaching or training necessary.  The only thing we have to provide is the self-contained breathing apparatus, firefighting equipment, and live-fires.  The Salvadorans provide their own internal validation of their airport firefighter skills."

The idea to hold the live-fires here at Soto Cano AB came last year during the CENTAM SMOKE exercise.  The Central America Sharing Mutual Operational Knowledge and Experiences, or CENTAM SMOKE, allows multi-national firefighters from around Central America four days of team-building exercises.

"During the CENTAM SMOKE exercise, the Salvadoran firefighters noticed we had a lot of the same equipment that they use for their yearly live-fires," added O'Connell.  "Previously they were traveling to Brazil which was costing their country over $140,000 to get everyone qualified.  Now they're saving nearly $100,000 in training costs with virtually no cost to us.  The only thing we are supplying is our time."

Not only do the live-fires help assist El Salvador in achieving their annual firefighting qualification, it also helps strengthen relationships between the U.S. and El Salvador.

"Events like this make a dramatic impact with our relationship with El Salvador," said O'Connell.  "This is really about continuing to build a strong relationship with our partner nations, while helping them achieve their training needs."

"This is the third time I've helped facilitate live-fires like this.  We did them a lot during my previous deployment," said U.S. Air Force Senior Amn. Christian Mejia, 612th Air Base Squadron firefighter.  "It's always a lot of fun to interact with people from other countries.  It's an opportunity to share our different techniques with each other."

Another certification session will be held from Dec. 15-18.

JASDF CSAF visits Columbus AFB

by Senior Airman Stephanie Englar
14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs


12/4/2014 - COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The Japan Air Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff toured Columbus Air Force Base Dec. 1-2 to check in on the pilot training program and boost morale.

Gen. Harukazu Saitoh expressed his gratitude to Columbus AFB and the U.S. Air Force for welcoming the JASDF pilot students into the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training course.

The JASDF's pilot training with the U.S. Air Force began in 1991. At first, the students only took the UPT course (T-38s), but later on took both the SUPT course as well as the Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals course.

"Two hundred and fifteen JASDF pilots have completed their training [with] the U.S. Air Force so far," Saitoh said. "Some of them were promoted to major generals this year, and are now wing commanders. Others are playing active parts in various fields as commanders or staff members of command headquarters, who constitute the core of the U.S.-Japan bilateral operations. Thus, I believe that our training pilots in the U.S. is very important for the JASDF."

During his visit, Saitoh met with the 10 JASDF students currently in training and said he is sure the students will play an active part in their units when they return to Japan.

"[Columbus AFB] is one of the best places for flight training," he said. "The extensive training range rather close to Columbus AFB enables the U.S. Air Force to train pilots quite effectively, and its three runways allow them to respond to unexpected situations flexibly."

Saitoh said the U.S.-Japan Security Arrangements are a cornerstone of Japan's security.

"Japan is now working on building up and enhancing its cooperative relationship with the U.S. in a wide range of domains, including education and personnel exchanges," Saitoh said. "The JASDF members who completed pilot training in the U.S. have a good understanding of the U.S. Air Force operations as well as flight techniques. They can plan and coordinate various programs based on their knowledge of operations both in the U.S. and Japan. As a result, they contribute to efficiently improving the U.S.-Japan interoperability."

Saitoh said he was very happy to have the opportunity to take a firsthand look at the training the pilots were going through.

"I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Col. Nichols and the men and women of Columbus AFB for giving us such a warm welcome and [for] the great support in making this visit happen," he said.

Transcom Develops System to Transport Ebola Patients


By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2014 – U.S. Transportation Command has developed a module-system capability to evacuate patients with infectious diseases such as Ebola or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Transcom’s commander, Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, said here today.

Selva told the Defense Writers’ Group the command did not have the capacity to evacuate a person infected with Ebola when the current epidemic started in West Africa.

“We have the capacity to isolate a single person and that capacity was designed exclusively to handle a SARS patient,” the general said.

System Facilitates Patient Movement, Treatment

Over the last 60 days, the command put a requirement on the street for a transportation/isolation module system. That system would load aboard a C-17 or a C-130. The module would isolate the patient, filter the air that moves through the compartment, and would allow access to treat the patient that has a communicable disease that is airborne, or, in the case of Ebola, fluid-borne.

“It accommodates the Ebola issue, but it also accommodates airborne contagions,” he said.

The command went from an idea for the module on the first week in October to a design the first week in November and started testing the module in aircraft yesterday, Selva said. The system will move two patients per module, he said, and four modules fit in a C-17. One module will fit in a C-130 aircraft.

Module Available Soon

“It’s the only capability of its kind other than the small-scale single evacuation capability that’s available on commercial carriers,” Selva said. “This provides us the military capacity to handle casualties that might be infected … with communicable diseases.”

The module will be available in the next few weeks, the general said.

The command has funded for 12 modules, he said. Transcom officials, he added, worked with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services to develop the system.

“Our approach was if we are going to put military members in harm’s way, the capacity to move a single patient at a time was insufficient to the mission we were asking our team to do,” Selva said. “We put an urgent operational needs statement together and challenged industry and the defense engineering community to come up with an operational solution for it. And in 60 days, they’ve delivered a solution that looks like it will work.”

Gettysburg Receives Navy's Top Community Service Award



By Ensign Tommy Changaris, USS Gettysburg Public Affairs

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- The chief of naval operations named guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) as the recipient of the Navy's highest award for community service, Nov. 24.

Gettysburg received the 2014 Navy-wide Project Good Neighbor Community Service Award in the medium sea command category and is joined by awardees in various other sea, shore and overseas categories.

The Project Good Neighbor Award, a Navy Community Service Program award, recognizes the best year-round, volunteer-supported program or special project that promotes outreach activities to establish and restore hope to the community.

Serving the local wounded warrior population and supporting community programs like Habitat for Humanity, Gettysburg's crew volunteered thousands of hours of their personal time in 2014. Beyond the crew's efforts, the ship's Family Readiness Group (FRG) also volunteered in the Jacksonville, Florida, area while the ship was deployed in early 2014.

"I could not be more impressed by the crew and our families right now," said Gettysburg's Command Master Chief Dan Hacker. "Even though we have had a lot on our plate for a while now, these Sailors remain motivated to get out there and help their community. To me, that just speaks volumes to the character of our people."

The Gettysburg crew undertook community service efforts throughout 2014 that included partnerships with the Jacksonville Wounded Warrior-Safe Harbor office and Beaches Habitat for Humanity, as well as a special project at the American World War II Cemetery in Rhone, France while on deployment.

Lt. j.g. Stephanie Santarelli, Gettysburg's auxiliaries officer, said as soon as she checked aboard, she was invited to take part in a command project for Habitat for Humanity.

"It was clear early on that serving our community was a priority on board," Santarelli said. "Going out and taking on a project, especially one that benefits someone in need, is a great way to build that teamwork and camaraderie that a ship needs."

Homeported in Mayport, Gettysburg is in the middle of an 11-month maintenance period, which will include significant upgrades to its hull and engineering plant.