Military News

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Air Force Reserve helps to fill AFMC leadership roles

by Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs

12/10/2014 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio  -- Air Force Materiel Command is embracing the total force concept as it relies on Reserve assets to fill key leadership roles at the headquarters.

The command selected Maj. Gen. Catherine A. Chilton to serve as director of its Air, Space and Information Operations directorate. She will be in place indefinitely, replacing Brig. Gen. William Thornton, who retired in November.

Meanwhile, as Maj. Gen. H. Brent Baker transitions into his new position as AFMC vice commander, Maj. Gen. Patricia A. Rose will serve as Logistics director until Brig. Gen. Donald E. 'Gene' Kirkland arrives next year.

Both Chilton and Rose are individual mobilization augmentees who have previous AFMC connections. Chilton previously served as the mobilization assistant to the commanders of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson and the Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, as well as to the director of capabilities integration at the AFMC headquarters. Rose served as the mobilization assistant to AFMC's director of logistics and sustainment as well as to the AFMC commander.

Holiday cheer en route to an island not near you

by Staff Sgt. Robert Hicks
36th Wing Public Affairs


12/10/2014 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Military personnel, civic leaders and leadership throughout the Micronesian area of the Pacific gathered here to officially perform a push ceremony for the 63rd annual Operation Christmas Drop Dec. 9.

The push ceremony marks the beginning of the annual humanitarian airlift mission that supplies residents from 56 islands spread out across 3 million square miles of the Pacific with boxes filled with donations from local and international donors. This year, donations included: non-perishable food items, clothing, medical supplies, tools, toys and other items that make islander's day-to-day life easier.

The mission is the longest-running continuous humanitarian effort in the world, beginning just three years after the Berlin Airlift at the conclusion of World War II.

"When the islanders hear the roar of the C-130 Hercules flying overhead, they know exactly what time of the year it is," said Bruce Best, Pacific program coordinator. "This is Christmas for them."

The effort is a combined coordination between members of the 36th Wing, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, the 374th Airlift Wing, Yokota Air Base, Japan, and members of the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing, especially the Andersen-based 734th Air Mobility Squadron.

Over approximately a one-week timeframe, 374th aircraft and crews will distribute 50,000 lbs of goods in 89 different bundle drops utilizing a process known as coastal drop low cost low altitude bundling. Under this concept, cargo is carefully packed and loaded on C-130 aircraft. The entire bundle is then dropped to designated drop zones on different island, a process that requires precision airdrop techniques and excellent communication between aircrew members.

However, before any bundle can be dropped, it needs to be filled with Christmas cheer. The 734th AMS is charged with directing the receipt of good throughout the year. Through radio communication, they identify specific island needs and cater their collection efforts toward that end. Additionally, food, clean water and clothing are collected and are included in the drop efforts.

"Even though the training missions for OCD are conducted by the Air Force, this is truly joint endeavor as donations also come from our community here on Guam," said Brig. Gen. Andrew Toth, 36th Wing commander. "This year, volunteers were able to arrange 107 drop-off locations, making it possible to send more than 50,000 pounds of supplies, the most supplies received thus far."

Donations for this year's OCD came from as afar away as Japan, where two different Japanese Air Self Defense Force bases contributed supplies to the effort.

Once collection is complete and the boxes loaded, members of the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, join 734th AMS personnel to prepare the boxes for coastal delivery LCLA.

In total, it takes approximately six months to plan and coordinate delivery.

"I've been getting calls for weeks asking me when OCD would be happening," said Best. "I tell them to hold on, but I know they're just excited because it's such a huge event. It couldn't happen without the Air Force and the benefits of this program are truly lifesaving. In some cases, this is literally the only chance we have all year to get much needed supplies to obscure island nations."

"Operation Christmas Drop is an outstanding example of how Air Force members from many different units and specialties can come together to successfully plan, organize and execute missions in support of our local communities," said Col. Jeffrey Pierce, 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing vice commander, the parent organization to the 734th AMS. "It's an opportunity for our Airmen to give back and show their appreciation for the support these local communities provide them each day."

For airlifters, this operation not only fills a critical humanitarian assistance mission; it also provides fundamental aircrew training.

"This event provides the great opportunity to practice critical airlift operations in unfamiliar territories," said Col. Douglas Delamater, 374th Airlift Wing commander. "My Airmen look forward to this event every year as a way to exercise crucial humanitarian relief skills. To do so in a manner that benefits so many people in so many places only adds fuel to their fire. As the airlift hub for the Western Pacific, our mission dictates we stand ready to respond to a variety of response scenarios, and Operation Christmas Drop is one critical way in which we do that."

Merger Adds Efficiency to Nuke Mission, AF Secretary Says



By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2014 – By realigning key elements of its nuclear mission under a dual-hatted, two-star commander, the Air Force hopes to create more efficient life-cycle management of its nuclear systems, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said here last night.

Speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies conference, James said that merging the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and Air Force Program Executive Office for Strategic Systems will combine acquisition and product support management functions.

“The nuclear enterprise goes directly to the readiness of today, but it also talks to the readiness of tomorrow,” James said. “In the future, … we will have one senior leader accountable for the entirety of the weapons system: … the missile, the launch facilities and the supporting equipment.”

The Nuclear Weapons Center subsequently will reorganize into three directorates. Two will focus on intercontinental ballistic missiles and air-delivered capabilities, and the third will bolster nuclear requirements and interagency engagement.

In addition, James said, the 377th Air Base Wing, which hosts and supports the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, will transfer from Air Force Materiel Command to Air Force Global Strike Command.

This, James explained, allows the wing to better focus on installation support at Kirtland with Air Force Global Strike Command oversight, and it enables Air Force Materiel Command to streamline its product support, related functions and modernization.

Pay Raises for Eligible Minot Air Force Base Employees

Noting that budget constraints have whittled current Air Force manning to its smallest numbers since 1947, when the Air Force became a separate service, James said the Office of Personnel Management recently approved a pay increase of 33 to 37 percent for seven specifically targeted nonappropriated-fund craft and trade positions at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. This, she explained, will help the Air Force retain critical support occupations, including custodial and food service workers, child care employees and mechanics.

“That community is in the midst of an energy boom,” James explained. “It is drawing away a lot of our employees from the nuclear mission, … because they can get higher-paying jobs associated with this energy boom.”

James said the restructures, pay raises, ROTC scholarship boosts and enlisted special duty pay increases are part of myriad efforts to fulfill the Air Force’s promise to redirect about $500 million into nuclear priorities such as readiness, modernization, training and munitions.

“I, as an American taxpayer, want to keep the nuclear enterprise strong,” James said, emphasizing that the Air Force’s nuclear goals will remain on course. “It’s partly money and investments, … but it’s partly changing a systemic culture, and we’re committed to doing both.”

Wires, sensors, dials; E&E keeps aircraft in flight

by Staff Sgt Alexandra M. Boutte
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


12/10/2014 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo.  -- Within every U.S. Air Force aircraft there are miles of wire, thousands of sensors and hundreds of dials, switches and indicators.

The electrical and environmental systems (E&E) specialists know each and every one of them, but more importantly they know how to repair them if they malfunction.
"We are like any other maintenance career field," said Senior Airman Colby Nash, 509th Maintenance Squadron E&E systems technician.

The electrical portion of the shop deals with every aspect of the aircraft's electrical system, from power generation to interior and exterior lighting and even fire prevention and suppression. The environmental aspect focuses on the pilots' climate control system inside the cockpit, weapons system cooling, cabin pressurization and oxygen generation.

"If we weren't here, the B-2 (Spirit) wouldn't be able to fly, nor could the aircrew survive the flight if it did," Nash said.

Members of the shop also assist fuels, engines, hydraulics and the crew chiefs with various troubleshooting and repairs.

"On top of our aircraft maintenance we also perform various inspections on liquid and gaseous oxygen and nitrogen carts, as well as support equipment for other shops within our squadron," Nash said.

With maintenance shops, parts availability is an obstacle to overcome in order to get a job done in a timely manner. The E&E shop recently had such an issue; an incident of multiple broken transformer rectifiers almost brought the shop and other maintenance personnel to a screeching halt.

"The parts were designed to be maintenance free, but as with anything, 20 years is a long service life," Nash said. "And needless to say, 20-year-old parts aren't easy to refurbish."

On the B-2, systems require two different types of electricity: either alternating current or direct current. Transformer rectifiers solve this problem by taking AC power from the generators and turning it into DC power for other subsystems.

It took new innovation and clearing some big hurdles in order to put the transformer rectifiers back into working condition. This process required the shop to devise substitutions for unobtainable equipment required to perform the checks, as well as coordinate with engineers to approve their new procedures.

"Without working hand-in-hand with supply and the engineers to supplement a means to power and cool the units while we test them, we wouldn't have been able to put the TR units back into supply in a serviceable condition," said Tech Sgt. Shawn Bloom, 509th MXS E&E systems craftsman.

This team effort is a characteristic of how the Air Force mission gets accomplished day in and day out.

Each time an aircraft flies, it is the result of shops like E&E working hard to make it happen.

Grissom Airmen use math to keep mission flying

by Staff Sgt. Ben Mota
434th ARW Public Affairs


12/10/2014 - GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- High-school algebra, a course many have thought useless for day-to-day activities, is being used to keep Grissom's mission in the air.

Airmen from the 434th Air Refueling Wing completed a pallet build-up course that uses such math to properly load cargo onto an aircraft at Grissom Nov. 2.

"Pallet building combines several basic skills such as high-school algebra and geometry to safely and efficiently load cargo onto aircraft," said Brian Wright, 434th ARW contracted combat readiness resource specialist. "Without the training, cargo could be loaded improperly and lead to damaged equipment or even worse, an injury."

From the beginning of the course, fundamentals of balance and geometry are introduced to allow pallets to be loaded efficiently, said Wright.

"The math ensures that the cargo is loaded in a square or pyramid shape to fit within the parameters set for the pallet size needed for a specific aircraft," Wright explained. "This is where the efficiency comes into play because the better a pallet is loaded the more you can fit in the plane, and this saves the Air Force money."

Loading a pallet and cargo properly also prevents cargo from shifting during flight.

"Cargo that is not loaded and tied down the way it is supposed to can shift during flight and injure passengers," he said. "That is why the palletized cargo has to be distributed evenly and tied with the appropriate straps."

Larger items that can't fit on a pallet due to shape or size still have to be balanced, properly loaded and secured.

"Algebra equations are used to determine the center-of-balance for large items such as cars and trucks," Wright explained. "The center of balance will then determine how and where the item will be loaded."

The principals taught in the course will ensure Airman remain safe and are good steward's of Air Force's money concluded Wright.

Russian Arms Control Violation Prompts Joint Staff Assessment



By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2014 – Russian violation of an arms control agreement poses a threat to U.S. and its allies’ security interests, leading the Joint Staff to conduct a military assessment of its threat, a senior defense official said here today.

Brian P. McKeon, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, testified alongside Rose Gottemoeller, undersecretary of state for international security, in a joint hearing before the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on strategic forces, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on terrorism, nonproliferation and trade regarding Russian noncompliance with the Intermediate Nuclear-Range Forces treaty.

In the course of “closely” monitoring compliance of arms control treaties, McKeon said, it was determined that Russia was in violation of the INF treaty.

Joint Staff Assessment

Despite diplomatic engagement on the issue since 2013, McKeon said, Russia continues to remain in noncompliance.

“As a result of Russia’s actions,” McKeon said, “the Joint Staff has conducted a military assessment of the threat were Russia to deploy an INF treaty-range ground-launch cruise missile in Europe or the Asia-Pacific region.”

“This assessment has led us to review a broad range of military response options,” he said, “and to consider the effect each option could have on convincing Russian leadership to return to compliance with the INF treaty, as well as countering the capability of a Russian INF treaty-prohibited system.”

McKeon emphasized that the department doesn’t want to engage in an “escalatory cycle” of action and reaction.

“However, Russia’s lack of meaningful engagement on this issue -- if it persists -- will ultimately require the United States to take actions to protect its interests and security along with those of its allies and partners,” he said.

“Those actions will make Russia less secure,” McKeon added.

Treaty Importance, Steps Taken

“We believe the INF treaty contributes to not only U.S. and Russian security,” he said, “but also to that of our allies and partners.”

“For that reason, Russian possession, development or deployment of a weapons system in violation of the treaty will not be ignored,” McKeon said.

From the beginning, he said, the objective has been to preserve the viability of the INF treaty and convince Russia to come back into compliance with its obligations under it.

The U.S. has engaged Russia, McKeon said, with a multi-pronged approach beginning with diplomatic engagement while discussing other potential measures in coordination with allies.

“Unfortunately, Russia has not been forthcoming with any information, nor has it acknowledged the existence of a non-compliant cruise missile,” he said.

“Instead, the Russian side has chosen to accuse the United States of violating its obligations under the INF treaty,” he said. “In our view, all of Russian’s claims are categorically unfounded.”

McKeon said the U.S. has been, and remains, in compliance with all of its obligations under the INF treaty, which was fully addressed during a September meeting with Russian officials in Moscow.

“These Russian claims, we believe, are meant to divert attention away from its own violations,” he said.

Gottemoeller testified that in addition to the INF treaty Russia is also in violation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe treaty and there are concerns with its compliance with other treaties as well.

Challenges Ahead

Despite a “significant challenge” ahead, McKeon said, there are hopes the Russian federation will remember why the Soviet Union signed the INF treaty in the first place.

“By agreeing to that treaty, the United States and Soviet Union ensured that both parties benefitted from the removal of weapons systems that posed a real and credible threat to European security,” he said.

McKeon reiterated that the U.S. takes treaty compliance “very seriously,” and the ramifications of Russia’s actions and a U.S. response affect more than just one arms control agreement.

“They affect our agreement to pursue future arms control and nonproliferation regimes,” he said. “Such a violation threatens our security and the collective security of many allies and partners.”

“This violation will not go unanswered, because there is too much at stake,” McKeon said.

Congressional Gold Medal honors Civil Air Patrol’s World War II service



WASHINGTON, D.C. – Forty-six founding Civil Air Patrol members were present today to see the organization honored with the Congressional Gold Medal for the service they and more than 200,000 other CAP volunteers provided during World War II, when they helped protect U.S. shipping against German U-boat attacks and carried out other vital wartime domestic missions.

Speaker of the House John Boehner presented the medal to CAP National Commander Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez and former U.S. Rep. Lester Wolff, who served in CAP’s New York Wing during the war, in a 40-minute ceremony that began at 3 p.m. Eastern time in Emancipation Hall at the Capitol.

Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas all spoke before the presentation, describing CAP members’ acts of selfless service in volunteering to help protect the homefront during the war.
The CAP members being honored “were just private citizens who wanted to lend a hand. They also lent their planes, their two-way radios and their replacement parts,” Boehner said.

“They weren’t pressed into serving – the government was pressed into letting them serve.”
“World War II could have turned out a lot differently if not for the men and women of the Civil Air Patrol,” McConnell told the gathering.

“Today’s gold medal may be overdue, but it’s well-deserved. It’s the highest civilian honor we can bestow, and we’re proud to bestow it.”

Reid acknowledged the service of the World War II members present while also praising those no longer alive to see their service recognized. “Their acts of heroism and bravery will never be forgotten,” he said.

Wolff described the full scope of CAP’s wartime service, telling his audience that the Coastal Patrol mission “began in the dark days following Pearl Harbor, when submarines were sinking oil tankers within sight of East Coast cities.”

“For 18 months we patrolled the Atlantic and Gulf coasts hunting submarines, escorting thousands of ships and searching for attack survivors,” he said.

Coastal Patrol pilots flew 24 million miles through August 1943 over the Atlantic and Gulf coasts in order to ward off German U-boat attacks against U.S. shipping – especially domestic oil tankers bound for Europe to help fuel the military machine. They did so at the request of the U.S. Petroleum Industry War Council, because the U.S. Navy lacked the resources to guard against the submarine attacks and provide escorts for commercial convoys.

Flying out of 21 bases located along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Maine to the southern tip of Texas, Coastal Patrol pilots spotted 173 U-boats and attacked 57. They also escorted more than 5,600 convoys and reported 17 floating mines, 36 bodies, 91 ships in distress and 363 survivors in the water.
Elsewhere, CAP members patrolled the country’s southern border by air, vigilant for potential saboteurs. Others towed targets for military trainees, watched for forest fires, conducted search and rescue missions, provided disaster relief and emergency transport of people and parts and conducted orientation flights for future pilots.

In all, 65 CAP members lost their lives in the line of duty by the end of the war, including 26 Coastal Patrol participants.

“Every one of those lives was given to defend this nation,” Wolff said. “We accept this award particularly for those who did not come home.”

In introducing Wolff, Vazquez referred to the World War II members as “brave and heroic citizen volunteers from America’s greatest generation. They served valiantly on the home front and along the coasts, helping to save lives and preserve our nation’s freedom.”

Along with the 46 members present, more than 50 other pioneering CAP members were represented by family members attending the ceremony.

The gold medal will be placed on permanent display in the Smithsonian Institution. Three-inch bronze replicas will be presented to the veterans and families tonight at a celebratory dinner sponsored by CITGO at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, where bronze replica medals will be presented to the World War II-era CAP members courtesy of the oil giant. Sunoco and Sunoco Logistic are also major sponsors of the events.

In addition to the bronze replicas being distributed tonight, World War II members and families unable to attend today’s events will be presented with replicas of their own in local ceremonies later. Anyone wishing to buy a replica will be able to do so by ordering through the U.S. Mint starting Thursday.
 The story of CAP's World War II service and its members' wartime experiences can be found on the organization's Congressional Gold Medal website.

Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 59,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 70 lives annually. Its volunteer professionals also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs. Visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com, www.capvolunteernow.com and www.capgoldmedal.com for more information.