Military News

Monday, January 05, 2015

Official Reports Progress in Awareness of Human Trafficking



By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2015 – Defense Department awareness of slavery and human trafficking issues is paying off significantly because of mandatory employee training, the program manager for DoD’s Combating Trafficking in Persons program has reported.

As DoD observes National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in January, Sam Yousef noted how annual training for DoD’s military, civilian, and contractor workforce is driving home the department’s “zero tolerance” for slavery and human trafficking.

DoD defines human trafficking as using fraud, force or coercion to recruit, harbor, transport or obtain a person for commercial sex, or labor services.

Increase in Workforce Awareness

Surveys indicate a jump in DoD workforce awareness of slavery and human trafficking issues, from 72 percent in 2008 to nearly 90 percent today, he said.

Yousef said when people hear the term human trafficking, they often relate it to sex trafficking, but he noted that DoD’s training emphasizes that people also can be susceptible to labor trafficking.

Occurring particularly overseas rather than stateside, labor trafficking has led DoD’s Combating Trafficking in Persons program to develop new specialized training for acquisition professionals.

“The training is primarily for contractor officers and contracting officer representatives” on foreign soil, Yousef said. “It gives them highlighted awareness of their responsibilities in managing contracts as they relate to human trafficking.”

Using the phrase, “If you see something, say something,” he said awareness training helps all DoD employees identify potential victims of the crime.

Common practices in labor trafficking, for example, include confiscating workers’ passports, withholding wages and creating “inhumane” living conditions.

Training Helps to Alert Employees

While such indicators might not be obvious to some, DoD’s training helps to alert employees to the potential of such scenarios, Yousef said. “You might not think much of it before you take our training,” he added. “But through increased awareness, you’re able to connect the dots a little more.”

DoD employees can file reports with the DoD Inspector General Hotline at http://www.dodig.mil/hotline or by calling 800-424-9098, 703-604-8799 or DSN 664-8799.

Leadership Plays a Role

In addition to DoD’s mandatory annual training, the military’s leadership also plays a critical awareness role in preventing such crimes, Yousef said.

The 7th Air Force in South Korea, for example, issued a policy earlier this year restricting service members from buying drinks for “juicy bar” workers and patronizing establishments that have been connected to prostitution and human trafficking, he said, adding that the policy now covers all of U.S. Forces Korea.

“It’s a very significant accomplishment,” Yousef said of the policy. “In a 2003 DoD-wide survey, we reported that 52 percent of our service members were aware of bars placed off-limits by their leadership, but in 2013 we reported it at 92 percent.”

In addition, programs with nongovernmental organizations also are increasing awareness, he noted.

One such effort will partner the Defense Health Agency with the nonprofit Polaris Project, which combats human trafficking around the world. During January in the national capital area, DHA and the Polaris Project will conduct a drive to benefit international victims of slavery and human trafficking, Yousef said.

Commentary – NCOs echo through eternity

by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Strang
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs


1/5/2015 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas  -- "What we do in life, echoes in eternity."

Taken from the film "Gladiator," General Maximus Decimus Meridius used these words to prepare his troops for battle. While the context of his words can be taken with different meanings, one internet review suggests it refers to the afterlife. The internet post suggests that if the troops fight bravely, they will be rewarded with fame and fortune after death. Although this could be a very real interpretation based on the movie's sequence, this quote can also serve a more grounded role in leadership, followership and a non-commissioned officer's role in the Air Force.

As New Year's Day becomes a memory, many people reminisce about the past year and make resolutions to carry them through the New Year. This is traditionally also a time of reflection. In the reflection of one's past is a mirror of who they are and where they came from. It is their echo in eternity.

Every day, an Airman leaves an echo from the events, actions and interactions of that day. Some thoughts and deeds are short lived in memory and can easily be forgotten. A few echoes of wisdom stretch time and are passed from generation to generation.  As a leader and a follower, NCOs have certain duties that drive the Air Force's mission. How they carry out those duties determines their echo.

Air Force Instruction 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure, lays the framework of an NCO's responsibilities. It states that NCOs must "lead and develop subordinates and exercise effective followership in mission accomplishment."  Good leadership is key to a successful military unit and transcends all branches of service.

Leadership is fluid and one approach does not work with all people. I recently had the privilege of completing a special duty assignment as a technical training school instructor. As such, my team was responsible for the graduation of over 220 students from all branches of service as well as civilians and international trainees. I was responsible daily for keeping my instructor team motivated as well as keeping students engaged who ranged in age from 18 to 40. The way to approach a situation with an 18-year-old female airman first class is not the same as a 35-year-old male major from a foreign country. Although the approaches were different, the leadership ideals of promoting esprit de corps, fostering good relations and staying involved with subordinates on a daily basis, still applied. To this day, hearing from those students, and having them tell you how something you said or did in turn helped them in a real-world situation, is incredibly motivating. It is a humbling feeling to know a few lessons we taught continue to echo.

Although leadership is a valuable asset, being a good follower is also paramount. AFI 36-2618, also known as "The Little Brown Book," spells out an NCO's role in followership.

The Book states that NCOs must "demonstrate effective followership by enthusiastically supporting, explaining and promoting leaders' decisions." Effective followership does not always mean blind followership. As the AFI goes on to read, "Develop innovative ways to improve processes and provide suggestions up the chain of command that will directly contribute to unit and mission success." The key to good followership is open and honest communication up and down the chain of command. The role of an NCO is to be the conduit between leadership and junior Airmen.

As an instructor, there is constant flow of information downward. You are informed daily on your instructor techniques, new course content, new school house or student detachment policies as well as service-wide changes that need to be implemented. The flow also comes up. As instructors, we became the parents of up to 24 trainees at a time. We began to hear all of their personal and professional issues. Although it is a seemingly daunting task, it can also become one of the most honored parts of being an instructor. It means they trusted and believed in us. If a trainee had a legitimate issue that needed to be taken up the chain, my team did everything in their power to make sure this trainee's voice was heard.

It is the responsibility of NCOs to sometimes take the feedback of subordinates and up-channel concerns to leadership for corrective actions. As one of the NCO Charges states, NCOs "are charged with remaining alert to detecting adverse morale trends and initiating corrective action within your control, providing appropriate feedback to superiors." Good followership can echo through subordinates who will someday take care of their Airmen as well as they were taken care of.

Being an Airman can be an incredible adventure. Being an NCO of Airmen is an honor that should not be taken lightly. If NCOs fail, the mission suffers greatly. NCOs are the backbone of the force and need to know their Airmen as well as understand their leadership. We are the first-line leaders and mentors of tomorrow's leaders. An ancient proverb states: "An army of sheep led by a lion would defeat an army of lions led by a sheep." In the New Year, all Air Force NCOs need to follow smartly, lead from the front and have a lion's roar which echoes in eternity.

Living legend receives ROTC Distinguished Alumni award

by Staff Sgt. Erica Picariello
42 Air Base Wing Public Affairs


1/5/2015 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- "Houston, we've had a problem."

Those were the famous words spoken by Astronaut Jack Swigert on April 13, 1970, to the mission control center in Houston, Texas, that ignited a series of events during the historic Apollo 13 mission in which the lives of the crewmembers were at stake.

Leading the group at that moment in mission control  was Gene Kranz, a 1954 Parks College of Saint Louis University graduate and recipient of the 2014 Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Distinguished Alumni award Dec. 16 at Maxwell Air Force Base.

"This is a really special day for Air Force ROTC," said Col. Eric Wydra, Air Force ROTC commander. "The reason I say that is, especially when you look at the officer trainees and ROTC cadets out in the audience, I see unfulfilled potential out there. Today we are honoring Mr. Kranz, who not too long ago was sitting there in an auditorium like this at Lackland Air Force Base as a cadet, just like you, and he is the epitome of fulfilled potential."

In order to be inducted into the distinguished alumni program, a cadet has to attain a high level of recognition or distinction for an accomplishment with Air Force-wide, national or international significance or historically notable service with combat achievements.

According to the award citation, this former ROTC cadet distinguished himself through exceptionally meritorious service to the United States Air Force and NASA for more than 40 years. In 1960 he joined NASA as a member of the project Mercury Space Task Group and served as flight director on 33 missions during projects Gemini, Apollo and Skylab.

Kranz is best known for his role in directing the mission control team during the first lunar landing and successful effort to save the crew of the Apollo 13 after its oxygen system failed. Though Kranz was the leader that day, he credits the collective effort of his teammates for the lives saved during that historical mission.

"I thank you for this year's honor," Kranz said. "This honor really belongs not to myself, but to my staff and many teammates that I worked with in mission control and those aviators that I worked and flew with."

Standing in front of future and current Air Force service members in an auditorium at Maxwell, Kranz thanked the crowd for their commitment and challenged them to take heed the lessons learned on their leadership journey.

"I offer my respect to you for the dedication that you have to our nation," Kranz said. "Duty - honor - country and sacrifice are not words to you. They represent a solemn pledge. 60 years ago I was commissioned and my single goal was to fly. In no way did I grasp the many events, challenges and opportunities, and people that would shape my life. In retirement I wrote a book about my life's journey and for the first time I came to recognize my debt to those who had trained me, taught me, guided me and steered me along the path and gave me opportunities along the way. Whatever role I found myself in, throughout my entire life, I was comfortable in my duty and ability to lead and willingness to risk. It was then that I realized that every skill I possessed and every problem that I faced came from lessons that I learned along my journey."

Kranz also reinforced some of the Air Force core values, reminding Airmen that values are the building blocks of leadership.

"The first lesson that I learned was that leaders learn from leaders but are not made from leaders, leaders make themselves," Kranz said. "Character and integrity is what builds a man or a woman. What builds the capacity to serve?  Integrity. You can build the character and with character you can build trust. With trust you can build shared values and once you have shared values, you can lead. Leadership is now your role in life. It can offer you many challenges."

The newly inducted 2014 ROTC distinguished alumnus ended his address to the crowd with a charge to take risks and control destiny.

"And in mission control, after the disastrous Apollo 1 fire, we sat down and wrote a document we called 'The Foundations,'" Kranz said. "It's a values statement that represents those qualities of excellence we must possess to be successful in our role in spaceflight operations. And it really talks about such things as discipline, confidence, responsibility, toughness, teamwork, but the final item talks about what I call the 'leadership moment.'"

The words "Houston, we've had a problem," signified one of Kranz's most recognizable leadership moments, and as he did, he asks all Airmen to have courage, take the risk and be a leader.

"The leadership moment is the time when risk is extreme, everything is on the line and the fate or the outcome depends on your leadership ability," he said. "The words at the end of this foundations of mission control state, 'Always be aware that suddenly and unexpectedly you may find yourselves in a role where your performance has ultimate consequences.' Leadership moments come to everyone who steps in and accepts the risk to become a leader. When that time comes, you must stand tall because leadership is your destiny, as it was mine."