Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Security forces personnel influx to increase morale, readiness

by Airman 1st Class Malcolm Mayfield
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

12/30/2014 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo.  -- The 90th Security Forces Group officially added another 37 Airmen after completion of their Unit Orientation Training, or Phase 1 training, December 23, 2014.

The new personnel report directly to the 90th Missile Security Forces Squadron. Additional Airmen will arrive in the future for the rest of the security forces group.

Along with other units, security forces has suffered from a lack of manning. These new Airmen are the mid-section of an influx of Airmen coming in to fill the ranks of security forces.

Coinciding with Force Improvement Philosophy initiatives, the three missile wing bases' [90th Missile Wing, 91st Missile Wing and 341st Missile Wing] security forces groups pursued a missile field security realignment plan.

"The plan allowed for continued combat readiness and redistributing personnel to meet mission requirements," said Master Sgt. Vincent Bolden, 90th MSFS weapons systems security non-commissioned officer in charge.

Coupled with this reorganization was the arrival of first-term Airmen from technical training into the 90th MW security forces units.

"We currently do not have enough manning for every flight to post out 100 percent," said Master Sgt. Robert Wilson, 90th MSFS flight chief. "In order to make up for that, we pull what we call a standby; essentially, our Airmen are made to work an extra one to two days with other flights to meet mandatory posting requirements."

This improvement affects the morale of the Airmen in security forces as well as readiness of the security forces groups within 20th Air Force.

"When you are on your fourth or fifth day in a row of 12 hour shifts, you get to a state where you may not be as alert or motivated to do your absolute best. This affects readiness as this is when mistakes start to happen; vehicle accidents, forgetting gear, not following proper procedures, etc.," Wilson said.

Bolden said FIP was the tool that brought about the needed reality to Air Force senior leaders that manning was suffering, and prolonged degradation would make matters worse for the mission.

"[People] alone can positively affect the ICBM mission, but these new Airmen need to be trained, certified in their duty positions, and progress in upgrade training," Bolden said. "The additional [personnel] will afford relief in instances where Airmen pulling 'standbys,' or additional days in the field, no longer have to do so."

More manning allows for additional training opportunities. These new additions to security forces also help in mission-related situations.

"Training workloads are going to soar as we train and equip our new Airmen," Bolden said. "Frontline supervisors will feel the effects as they assume greater responsibilities over their new subordinates. None of these tasks are new to our missile field leaders, but to assume these responsibilities in high volume would challenge the best of us. The manning increases have been a topic for months though, and all were eager to accept the challenge."

Even with the additional responsibilities these new Airmen bring, leadership in security forces welcomes the increase in personnel.

"The more security forces Airmen we have, the more we can have out in the field ready to respond to any threats," Wilson said. "It also increases the pool of security forces we have to draw from for our backup forces and the support forces that will be bringing out resupplies."

Helping to create a better Air Force, FIP has been leading the way to make changes at the missile wings, thus making the ICBM mission a more safe, secure and effective means of defending America.

The additional security forces personnel along with the other initiatives, such as the Model Defender initiative, which strives to better equip security forces to defend our ICBMs, and the special duty assignment pay for certain enlisted career fields with primary focus in the missile field, are large changes to the already ever changing Air Force and signifies a move in the right direction.

Face of Defense: Pilot Reflects on Training Afghan Air Force

By Jim Fisher
377th Air Base Wing

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M., Dec. 31, 2014 – Air Force Maj. Mary Clark, a UH-1N Huey instructor pilot and the 58th Operations Support Squadron's assistant director of operations here, knows what it takes to make a good helicopter pilot.

Clark trained pilots at Shindand Air Base, Afghanistan.

She prepared 20 student pilots, including three female members of the Afghan air force and male rotary-wing pilots to fly the Russian-made Mi-17, and contributed to nonflying aspects of all pilot training.

Clark said she hopes the impact made by the mission she made for a year went beyond producing capable pilots for the Afghan air force.

"We exposed one culture to another and did our best to create an avenue for advancement in their society," she said. Students trained by the 58th Special Operations Wing are turned into combat-ready special operations and rescue crew members who can make an impact in operations around the world.

Cultural Restrictions

Due to cultural restrictions on interaction between men and women outside the family environment, it helped the Afghan women to have a female instructor, Clark said. The women were not invited to evening study sessions male students would hold, she added, and were somewhat on their own when coalition instructors were not holding a formal class.

Clark said she was able to provide an avenue for them to get questions answered and facilitate their self-study.

"If they had a question, they would come to me," she said. "They felt more comfortable having a woman present during training."

In addition to helping the women to adapt to the training environment, Clark acted as a role model.

"The women were all very motivated and competent. Despite facing significant threats to their safety, they did well in their training," she said. "These women were very brave to choose this career path. I was happy to be able to be an example of professionalism for them. I think it was important for them to see that a woman could become a pilot."

A Different Aircraft

In addition to adjusting to the culture, Clark said, she had to adjust to a different aircraft. To prepare for the mission, she had to learn how to fly the Mi-17, which she said is very different from the UH-1N. Because the Mi-17 rotor spins in the opposite direction, it has a different flight control arrangement, and it is much larger than the Huey she’s used to flying.

"I got 35 hours in the Mi-17 before I deployed, and the transition was smooth,” she said. “It was fun."

Once Clark had established herself as a well-trained and skilled pilot, she gained credibility with male and female students alike.

In addition to the typical dangers inherent to the deployed environment, Clark also had to contend with a heightened state of alert following a spate of Taliban attacks.

"It's terrorists targeting their own people," she said. "You had to be on guard, but you can't be paranoid. A year is just too long to be paranoid."

More traditional combat-related threats called Clark into action. She took part in a rescue mission after a helicopter was struck by an improvised explosive device during a training mission, and some of her Afghan comrades were killed in the line of duty. This included a safety officer she had advised throughout her year there, who was killed in a grenade attack a week before she left the country.

The female Afghan pilots Clark worked with also had to deal with constant dangers.

While on base, the women were protected, but they could not wear their uniforms in public without making themselves a target of the Taliban, Clark said.

A More Enlightened Society

A competent air force to defend gains Afghanistan has made toward a free society will also translate into a more enlightened society in the long term, Clark said.

"You have to change an entire generation," she added. "Our presence as advisers, airmen, and, in my case, as a woman, served to enlighten the younger generation of Afghan soldiers we interacted with. This willingness to embrace a global perspective, coupled with the establishment of national pride, is essential for the country to defeat terrorist threats to their government and way of life.

"I encountered many intelligent and motivated Afghans,” she continued. “With coalition support we saw many successes, such as Afghan officers becoming instructor pilots and leading real-world missions as well as taking command and leading their own people. … It will be incumbent on these leaders to continue these practices as they assume primary responsibility for defending their country and their freedom."

Dyess, Abilene officials announce plans for 2015 Dyess Big Country Airfest, World's Largest BBQ

by 1st Lt. Nicole Ferrara
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

12/30/2014 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Officials from the 7th Bomb Wing and city of Abilene recently announced plans for the 2015 Dyess Big Country Airfest and World's Largest Barbecue to be held at Dyess this spring.

"As we close out these final few days of 2014, we're looking forward to 2015 for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that for the first time in more than three years, Dyess Air Force Base will be able to host an open house and airshow," Col. Michael Bob Starr, 7th Bomb Wing commander, said during a press conference here Dec. 29.

This year's Airfest is an especially big event, because it coincides with the 30th anniversary of the first B-1B delivered to Dyess, and celebrates 60 years since the C-130 was first presented to the Air Force, said Starr.

The two-day open house is scheduled May 2-3, and the base's gates will open both days at 9 a.m. to allow the public to enter free of admission. The airshow will be headlined by the U.S. Air Force's Thunderbirds' air demonstration team, and feature performances by Dyess' B-1B Lancers and C-130J Super Hercules.

There will be several more acts confirmed in the coming months, as the show is intended to demonstrate the full spectrum of Air Force roles and responsibilities.

"The purpose of the airshow is to present America's Airpower," said Starr. "To showcase the core missions of the Air Force, which are the same core missions we were assigned back in 1947: air and space superiority, rapid global mobility, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, command and control, and global strike, which, of course, we provide with the B-1s."

The open house is also expected to represent the strength of the Department of Defense interagency team, by integrating the other U.S. military services into the show through aerial and ground displays.

The event will serve not only to exemplify partnerships within the DoD, but also the partnership that exists between Dyess and the Big Country, said Starr, before introducing Abilene Mayor Norm Archibald, and Jason Smith, Abilene Chamber of Commerce president, during the Dec. 29 press conference.

Smith announced that the upcoming Airfest marks yet another major milestone, as the Abilene Military Affairs Committee is preparing to host the 50th anniversary of the World's Largest Barbecue May 2. The barbecue is a tradition that honors servicemembers in the Big Country by providing a free meal to active-duty, reservists, guardsmen, and civilians currently in the military, as well as their families.

The annual event, which is known to feed upwards of 5,000 military personnel and their families, generally takes place during the third weekend in April. The barbecue was moved to the Abilene Civic Center in the 1970s, but will return to its original location this year, to be held in one of Dyess' hangars.

Archibald expressed excitement for the weekend's events, and plans to attend the open house with his kids and grandchildren.

"We do things big in Texas, and we do big things in Abilene," said Archibald. "When Dyess puts on an event like this, it will be an airshow like you've never seen before."

USS Sampson Contributes to AirAsia Search Efforts

From U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- USS Sampson (DDG 102) is supporting the ongoing Indonesian-led search and recovery operations for the downed AirAsia flight QZ8501 and assisted in locating the crash debris field yesterday.

At the request of the Indonesian government, Sampson arrived on station in the Java Sea in the early afternoon on Dec. 30 and began assisting in the search. The ship's MH-60R search and rescue helicopters were launched to assist in the search efforts and the crews, working with multiple Indonesian assets, discovered debris late on the 30th.

The ship and her helicopters are still on station and continuing to search in close coordination with Indonesian authorities.

"Sampson will remain on station as long as the Indonesian government feels they are providing useful assistance," said Capt. Christopher Budde, operations director for U.S. 7th Fleet.

Additionally, USS Fort Worth, the littoral combat ship deployed to 7th Fleet, is in port Singapore and is prepared to aid in search efforts if assistance is requested. U.S. 7th Fleet and U.S. Pacific Fleet continue to evaluate ships, aircraft and support units in the area that may be helpful in the search efforts and are taking steps to ensure these assets are ready if the Indonesian government requests them.

"The Indonesian government and Indonesian Rescue Coordination Center have done an outstanding job in very quickly organizing this multi-national search effort," said Budde. "We are preparing additional equipment and assets in case the Indonesian government requests them, but they are doing a tremendous job and additional U.S. Navy assistance may be more than they require."

Authorities in the region continue to lead the search and recovery effort. The U.S. Navy is working closely with the government of Indonesia to identify additional surface or airborne capabilities to best assist.

USS Sampson is homeported in San Diego and is in the midst of an independent deployment to the Western Pacific.

USS Fort McHenry to Spend New Year's in Valencia, Spain

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam Austin, USS Fort McHenry Public Affairs

VALENCIA, Spain (NNS) -- The Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) pulled in to Valencia, Spain for a scheduled port visit Dec. 29.

The visit will give Sailors the opportunity to build relations with the people of Spain while affording them a chance to enjoy the remainder of the holiday season in port.

"We're here to give our Sailors the chance to explore the countryside and learn about the Spanish culture. The local authorities here have been very supportive, and we're grateful that they've worked so hard to accommodate our visit over the holiday," said Cmdr. Thomas Ulmer, commanding officer, USS Fort McHenry. "It's a time to relax and enjoy the New Year celebrations before continuing our mission."

Quick Facts:
* This is the first in a series of scheduled port visits for Fort McHenry during a routine deployment.

* Interactions between the Sailors of Fort McHenry and Spain will help build understanding of maritime tactics, professionalism, cultural understanding and trust. Moreover, this visit helps strengthen the relationships between our two nations.

* Fort McHenry, part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG)/24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.

* The ARG/MEU is also comprised of embarked Marines from the 24th MEU, the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21).

* U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.