Military News

Friday, December 05, 2014

U.S. Air Force B-52 takes part in joint training at RAAF Darwin

by Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

12/5/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- The U.S. Air Force will send one B-52 and one KC-135, operating from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin later this week to take part in short term joint training with the RAAF. The B-52 is assigned to Andersen AFB as part of U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Air Force rotational presence in the Pacific, and the KC-135 is part of the Tanker Task Force in the region.

The aircraft landing at RAAF Darwin marks the second such event since the United States and Australia announced the U.S.-Australia Force Posture Initiative in November 2011.

This will enhance U.S. ability to train, exercise and operate with Australia and with other allies and partners across the region, further enabling the U.S. to work together with these nations to respond more quickly to a wide range of challenges, including humanitarian crises and disaster relief, as well as promoting security cooperation efforts across the region.

This purposed event is to highlight the intent for increased U.S. Air Force training with the RAAF; decisions on future rotations are still under discussion.

While in Australia, the B-52 will conduct simulated ordnance drops over the Delamere Training Range, a fighter intercept exercise with the 75th Squadron, as well as a subject matter expert exchange with RAAF airmen.

This is the third time a B-52 has landed at RAAF Darwin since 2010. The first landing was in August of 2012 after the multilateral Exercise Pitch Black. The Royal Australian Air Force was a key part of this event, as their C-17 brought forward personnel and critical equipment from Andersen AFB to support the B-52 arrival at RAAF Darwin.

For additional information, please contact Pacific Air Forces public affairs at 808-448-3226 or by e-mail at pacaf.paops@us.af.mil. Duty hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Hawaii Standard Time.

Top USO Honor Goes to Vice Chief, Wife



By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2014 – Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Navy Adm. James A. "Sandy" Winnefeld Jr. and his wife, Mary, were honored yesterday with the USO’s Distinguished Service Award, marking the first time a military leader and his spouse were handed the honor.

The USO of Metropolitan New York gave the award to the Winnefelds as the city hosted the 53rd Armed Forces Gala & Gold Medal Dinner. The vice chairman said he and his wife were honored to accept an award from an organization they admire and respect.

“We should be awarding [members of the USO] for the things that you do each and every day,” he said.

Winnefeld recognized the military family members in the audience and particularly Gold Star mothers, calling the military a family business.

The vice chairman singled out his wife for her decades of work on behalf of the military community.

“I’m fairly certain we are here tonight primarily because of her,” he said.

Mary Winnefeld Dedicated to Military Causes

Mary Winnefeld has helped military families for 30 years by cooking meals at Fisher Houses, comforting thousands of newly deployed sailors’ families shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, and remains a strong advocate of wounded warrior care, their caregivers, and hiring veterans, the admiral said.

She went “undercover” at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center as “Aunt Mary” to see, first-hand, how wounded troops and their families were treated there, and her efforts resulted in numerous improvements, Winnefeld said.

“She got up in the middle of the night recently and drove nearly an hour from home to help find and recover a wounded warrior with severe [traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder], whose wife was out of town ...This person had wandered away from his care center. No problem,” the vice chair said.

“She has a heart of gold and I’m so very proud of her,” he said.

Vice Chair Calls USO Members ‘Remarkable’

While the couple has dedicated themselves to helping the “home-team” Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore USO, they’ve traveled on USO tours to visit military men and women around the world with celebrities and major sports figures, including Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

“And no matter where we go, we always find the remarkable men and women of the USO,” he added.

“Your remarkable employees and volunteers are always there with a smile in the middle of the night, helping lift the spirits of our people and lighten the load of military service,” he told members of the USO.

Remembering Troops in Combat

The vice chair reminded those attending to remember the U.S. troops “in every time zone across the globe, who are hot, tired and dirty, who are sailors standing the watch on a ship’s bridge or in an engine room, or soldiers or Marines gearing up to go outside the wire, or airmen getting an airplane ready to launch out at some remote desert airfield.”

And to the “amazing millennials” who look after U.S. security, he said, the nation has four simple but solemn obligations, which are the essence of the magic of leading these young men and women:

“We will hold them to high standards. We will only send them into battle for something that really matters to this great nation. We will ensure they always have what they need to do their job,” he said, “And we always will take the best possible care of them.”

Gortney Takes Command of Northcom, NORAD



By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jake Richmond
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2014 – Navy Adm. Bill Gortney today became the senior leader of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command during a change of command ceremony at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.

Gortney, a naval aviator, is the former commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command. As the new chief of Northcom and NORAD, he succeeds Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., who is retiring after a 35-year military career.

In ceremonial fashion, Gortney accepted the NORAD flag from Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson and the Northcom flag from U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work.

“Chuck Jacoby has proved himself as one of our nation’s most seasoned and capable leaders,” said Work, citing the general’s combat leadership in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jacoby was the first Army officer and first non-aviator to lead NORAD and Northcom, according to Work.

‘We Have the Watch’

Jacoby’s vision of vigilance and security he brought to this command is captured well in his motto: ‘We have the watch,’” Work said.

The deputy secretary said NORAD, the country’s only bilateral command, is truly one of a kind. Combined with Northcom, Work said the dual command is “a difficult balancing act, protecting the U.S. from external threats as well as dealing with natural disasters and other internal emergencies.”

Noting Jacoby’s leadership over the quick and effective responses to Hurricane Sandy and regional wildfires, Work praised Northern Command’s strong record of accomplishments.

For his service, Jacoby received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal from Work and the Canadian Meritorious Service Cross from Lawson.

A Sacred Mission

After officially assuming command, Gortney also praised Jacoby’s leadership. He said commanders should strive to turn over a better command than the one they took over.

“You have done so, Chuck. Our homelands have been in great hands for the past three and a half years,” Gortney said. “I hope I will be able to say the same in a few years.”

The people who serve NORAD and Northcom are the organizations’ lifeblood, the admiral said. And he had a message for them: “We are accountable to our nations and the execution of our duties, 24 by seven.”

Gortney added, “Rest assured, we will succeed. We have the watch.”

Vance senior leader accepts top-level defense awards at Pentagon

By 71st FTW Public Affairs

12/5/2014 - VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The 71st Operations Group commander recently accepted the Secretary of Defense Group Achievement Award and the Joint Meritorious Unit Award on behalf of his former unit's successful destruction of over 600 tons of Syrian chemical weapons material.

Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense, presented the awards to Col. John Cinnamon during a ceremony at the Pentagon Nov. 12.

Prior to joining Team Vance, Cinnamon served in triple hatted assignments as the lead planner on the Office of Secretary of Defense Acquisitions, Technology, and Logistics Syrian Integration Team and the chief of plans for both the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Strategic Command Center for Combatting Weapons of Mass Destruction.

"The threat of Syrian chemical weapons was extremely significant," said Cinnamon. "The Syrian regime had already used chemical weapons against enemy forces and innocent civilians, and the likelihood for terrorist elements gaining control of these weapons was high."

Cinnamon led DTRA's Regional Contingency Team that created a first-ever means to destroy chemical weapons aboard a ship. For years, the U.S. has disposed of chemical weapons material on land, but according to Cinnamon, the State Department was unable to gain agreement from any other nation to host destruction operations. That's when his team stepped in and recommended a ship-borne option--an international operation that took 16 months from beginning to end.

The team developed a Field Deployable Hydrolysis System uniquely capable of destroying massive quantities of Syrian chemical weapons. The FHDS used the same technology and chemical process used on land sites, but the addition of a field deployable system brought on many challenges.

"This historic mission was the result of a large number of DTRA professionals that refused to accept failure and worked round-the-clock to keep finding ways to say 'yes, we can make this happen' despite innumerable obstacles," said Cinnamon.

Cinnamon's RCT coordinated efforts between U.S. government agencies, foreign governments, international organizations and environmental groups.

The recognition the team received is really for all the individuals at DTRA who poured their hearts and souls into making the world safer by removing these chemical weapons from the world stage, said Cinnamon.

"I know the team saved the lives of countless innocent civilians with their efforts," he said.

Cinnamon was also the primary author on the Framework Agreement with the Russian government that detailed the cooperation necessary to receive the Syrian chemical weapons and transfer them to the Motor Vessel Cape Ray for destruction.

"Successfully negotiating with the Russian government to assist the international community in removing and destroying these weapons was the absolute highlight of my tour of duty in the D.C. area."

The final demolition of the chemical stockpiles ended in August, a neutralization process that took four months onboard the MV Cape Ray.

Hagel added that accomplishments like this are not new to the Department of Defense, but this mission was truly exceptional and represents a perfect example of how the Department can respond rapidly to emerging threats.

Warfighters reap benefits as critical upgrades continue

by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs


12/2/2014 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The Airborne Warning and Control System 40/45 program office is delivering, and potentially accelerating, critical upgrades to the service's primary airborne early warning and control platform.

Replacing the mission computing system and software originally installed in the 1970s, the new capability will enhance tracking and combat identification capabilities in addition to providing operators with a better picture of the battlespace, said 1st Lt. Evan Porter, Block 40/45 production lead.

"The 40/45 capabilities put AWACS at the forefront, especially in theater," he said.

Following the delivery of six aircraft with the modifications to the 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker AFB, Okla., the Air Combat Command commander declared initial operational capability in July. The program is now in full rate production with three additional aircraft in the modification process, one of which inducted early. The next aircraft is slated to begin modifications in December.

According to program officials, the team has worked aggressively to overcome multiple challenges to achieve these program successes and continues to look for ways to overcome additional challenges brought on by budget uncertainty.

"The Block 40/45 program office continues to execute the program successfully by continually assessing budget and aggressively pursuing innovative should-cost savings initiatives using appropriate contracts to save additional cost and schedule," said Lt. Col. Frank Gaillard, E-3 Net-centric Capabilities materiel leader and Block 40/45 program manager.

Another initiative implemented throughout the course of the program is kit installations during programmed depot maintenance.

Personnel from the 566th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Tinker said that installing the modification concurrently with PDM reduces up to eight months of aircraft downtime and allows for maximum aircraft availability.

The squadron was able to sequence their workload so all tasks could be performed on time.

"We started our first low-rate production concurrent PDM/mod at the depot in November 2010," said Jeff Base, E3/Services Weapons System Support Center Flight chief. "Through process improvements and reducing the learning curve, the modification has realized a 48 percent reduction in hours."

Base also emphasized that advanced planning and stakeholder involvement were critical.

The upgrade provides multi-sensor integration onboard the aircraft, improves data link infrastructure, increases machine-to-machine interaction and compresses the targeting chain timeline.

Users are already seeing advantages.

"The 40/45 upgrade's human-machine interface allows a greater ability for the AWACS to concentrate on bringing order and command decisions to the battlespace," said Capt. James Capra, 963rd Airborne Air Control Squadron director of operations. "With the upgraded ease of obtaining command and control data, the enhanced focus allows greater war management and will lead to ensuring the JFACC's (Joint Force Air Component Commander) risk level is assured during operations."

One user, a surveillance officer on the E-3, sees the advantage for her role.

"The software is more user-friendly than before and allows operators to focus on executing the mission," said Maj. Amy Chaplin, 552nd Training Squadron assistant director of operations.

Many players have worked to get this program to this point. According to program officials here, it's been a total team effort.

The overall team included personnel from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center 's AWACS Division at Hanscom AFB and Tinker AFB, the Air Logistics Center and the 566th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, as part of the Air Force Sustainment Center, both part of Air Force Materiel Command, and the 552nd Air Control Wing from ACC.

"This is truly fantastic collaboration across multiple commands, stakeholders and organizations," said Gaillard. "We are absolutely committed to upgrading the fleet for the warfighter, en route to achieving full operational capability." 

FOC is anticipated by fiscal year 2020.

Team Vance earns AF Outstanding Unit Award

71st FTW Public Affairs

12/5/2014 - VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Air Education and Training Command announced Nov. 26 that the 71st Flying Training Wing earned an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for duties performed between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2014.

The 71st FTW was one of 12 AETC non-headquarters units selected for the award.

"Though I did not arrive here until June of this year, it was apparent from day one that I was working with an exceptional group of people," said Col. Clark Quinn, the 71st FTW commander. "The nomination form for an outstanding unit award has 93 lines. Every work center in the wing contributed to at least one of those lines, so the award is a reflection of the entire team's effort...and it's clearly well deserved. Congratulations, and thank you for your hard work."

The work performed throughout the two-year time frame includes many AETC best practices and AETC firsts.

For example, the 71st FTW Legal Office earned best 2013 Article 6 Inspection in the Air Force with four strengths lauded and two inspector general professional performers earning the best-ever result in AETC.

Another example of top performances included the 71st Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog handlers who logged five presidential and vice presidential missions and had two TOP DOG graduates. The TOP DOG award is given to distinguished graduates from the SFS working dog technical school.

The 71st Medical Group had the number one laboratory in AETC with a 100 percent readiness rate. These Airmen processed 45,000 lab tests for 4,200 beneficiaries.

The 71st Operations Group produced 505 joint pilots while flying 107,000 sorties and 150,000 flying hours in three aircraft.

The 71st FTW Operations Support Squadron ensured 100 percent safe operations for the Air Force's fourth busiest air traffic control facility, monitoring 20 training routes with four memorandums of agreement covering 12,000 square miles of special-use airspace.

"These are only some of the outstanding achievements for Vance Airmen since July of 2012," said Quinn. "Every Airmen, Civilian, Contractor, Family Member and Enid Community Partner made earning this award possible."

The Air Force Outstanding Unit Award can be worn by Airmen permanently assigned to the 71st FTW from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2014.

403rd Wing reservists depart for deployment training

by Maj. Marnee A.C. Losurdo
403rd Wing Public Affairs


12/5/2014 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Mississippi -- About 30 reservists with the 403rd Security Forces Squadron departed for Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, today for combat and expeditionary skills training in preparation for their deployment to Southwest Asia next month.

This group is the second wave of 403rd SFS Airmen to head to Nevada for the training.

Airmen who left today are attending the Base Security Operations Course and will receive advanced weapons training, learn how to defend an air base in a combat zone or in hostile areas, and how to operate convoys, said Master Sgt. Lucas Applewhite, 403rd SFS operations superintendent.

"It's a refresher course covering all the security forces duties that will be required of the Airmen in a deployed environment," said Applewhite. Some of these duties include monitoring security checkpoints and securing the base perimeter, airfields and assets.

Staff Sgt. Aubrey Morrow was one of the security forces members who left today. It is his third deployment. He said it's a challenge to be away from friends and family during the holidays but deploying and accomplishing the mission is what he raised his hand for when he volunteered to be a reservist.

"This is why we train. Our job is to make sure all the base's assets are secure and all personnel return home safely," he said. "This is an awesome unit. All our people are real tight and we are ready to go and do our job."

Unlike Morrow, it's Senior Airman Cherelle Capobiano's first deployment.

"I'm excited, and I'm glad that I get to deploy with my unit members," she said. "It's a challenge to be away this time of year but I come from a military family so they understand."

"This is an outstanding and professional group of Airmen who are ready to complete their mission," said Col. Frank L. Amodeo, 403rd Wing commander. "We are proud of them."

Vance signs agreement with Altus AFB to host ALS

71st FTW Public Affairs

12/5/2014 - VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- It took two commanders from two bases coming together Nov. 21 to sign a Memorandum of Understanding that will allow Team Vance to host two Airman Leadership School classes in 2015.

For many years, senior airmen selected for promotion to staff sergeant have been attending ALS, the professional military education course required to sew on staff sergeant stripes, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

"Team Vance will now get to celebrate and take park in an ALS class here on their own soil," said Chief Master Sgt. Peter Speen, the 71st Flying Training Wing command chief. "They will perform Reveille and Retreat and will participate in wing physical training, and round table discussions with chiefs, shirts and NCOs from Vance."

Speen led the battle to host ALS here, copying an idea he was part of at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.

Assisting Speen was Senior Master Sgt. John Horton, the 71st FTW career assistance advisor.

The move to host ALS at Vance has benefits grounded not only in promoting the tradition and heritage of the 71st FTW, but also in supporting Air Education and Training Command efforts to embrace a cost-conscious culture, said Horton.

It's more fiscally sound to bring a few instructors to Vance twice a year than to send 30 plus Airmen on a temporary duty assignment to Altus, he said.

The classes will be held at the Professional Development Center. Speen believes it will eliminate some stresses that are placed on Airmen who had to go TDY to Altus.

"The stress of a TDY will be removed, and an Airman will be at home going through their first and most important part of PME," said Speen. "A supervisor is just a call and a couple of minutes away from getting answers or help during the class, vice having to drive 3.5 hours for the same type of assistance."

Reservists train special operators in AC-130U

by Tech. Sgt. Samuel King Jr.
919th Special Operations Wing


12/4/2014 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Special operations reservists are now training active-duty Airmen in the AC-130U.

Majors Francis Poindexter and David McGourin, 5th Special Operations Squadron, fill instructor roles for the active duty formal training unit, the 19th Special Operations Squadron. The new training program began in September.

"The AC-130U has a very dynamic mission and a proud tradition," said McGourin.  "Being part of the team that provides combat ready aircrew to the operational squadron is incredibly rewarding.  The students are very motivated to become part of the mission, which makes instructing them exciting."

Poindexter instructs the fire control officer course while McGourin teaches qualification and mission training to pilots and co-pilots.

Reserve instructors are a common practice within the special operations training community and the Air Force Special Operations Air Warfare Center.  The 5th SOS Airmen provide instructor manning for the Combat Aviation Advisor Fixed Wing (C-145) FTU, the U-28 FTU, and are posturing to support MC-130H and C-146 FTU operations in the future, according to Lt. Col. Michael Lee, the 5th SOS commander.

The integration into the "Spooky" training expanded this summer with a goal to supply three full crews for training.  The 5th SOS would then make up approximately 40 percent of the instructor force for the AC-130U.

"The reservists bring continuity and depth of experience to the training environment," said McGourin.  "The reserve instructors will stay in place through changes in the active duty cadre due to the PCS/PCA cycles.  They also have a large amount of operational, combat, and instructional experience that allow them to adapt to the needs of the student and be flexible in their approach with the students."

The course is accomplished mostly in the aircraft with academic and simulator training mixed in.  The first four phases cover basic flight operations.  The last four phases prepare Airmen to employ the aircraft in a combat environment.

"The AC-130U has such a unique and rewarding mission," said Poindexter, who has more than 2,000 combat hours flown in the AC-130U.  "I enjoy passing on what I've learned to the students.  It's a great feeling when you see a student struggling in the beginning and then they have that moment of clarity.  That moment when everything you've been trying to explain finally makes sense and you see the proverbial light bulb come on in their head."

The 5th SOS is constantly looking for qualified instructors to join the squadron and incorporate into the Air Force Special Operations Command total force initiative efforts including more AC-130U instructors.

"(This mission,) it's literally taking and saving lives.  The stakes don't get much higher than that.  I want to do everything I can to make sure the next generation of Ghostriders is ready to do the job," said Poindexter.