Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Detainee Transfer Announced

The Department of Defense announced today the transfer of Akhmed Abdul Qadir from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to Estonia.

As directed by the president’s Jan. 22, 2009, executive order, the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of this case. As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, this man was unanimously approved for transfer by the six departments and agencies comprising the task force.

In accordance with statutory requirements, the secretary of defense informed Congress of the United States’ intent to transfer this individual and of his determination that this transfer meets the statutory standard.

The United States is grateful to the Government of Estonia for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The United States coordinated with the Government of Estonia to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures.

Today, 122 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay.

Air Force beats Army 7-5 in community hockey game

by Staff Sgt. William Banton
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs

1/14/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- Air Force goalie Thomas Nguyen looked exhausted, consternation and sweat easing off his face. He had just survived the onslaught of a five-on-three power play, facing an Army team determined at all cost to obtain glory in the inter-service rivalry this year.

Thanks in part to Nguyen's efforts, the Air Force came out victorious in the second annual Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Army vs. Air Force hockey game with a 7-5 win.  The two-point difference hardly depicted the close struggle throughout three periods of furious competition.

The inter-service game at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska, was conceived by Army Maj. Gen. Michael Shields, U.S. Army Alaska commanding general, as a way to foster esprit de corps between the two primary JBER military branches. The teams this year also featured members of the Marine Corps Reserve and Alaska National Guard playing for the Army and members of the Royal Canadian Air Force and Air National Guard playing for the Air Force.

"I knew going into this game that the teams were evenly matched and that it would probably come down to goalies, and I think that played out," said Air Force coach Steven Calvin. "Our goalie had an outstanding game. He stood on his head a couple of times and made some outstanding saves."

The Air Force came out strong and ended the first period with a score of 3-1 - a lead it would hold until the third period.

"Getting that buffer was kind of nice, but we lit a fire underneath them and they came out hard the second and third period; it was a great game," Nguyen said.

According to Army forward Taylor Francis, the Army's strategy was to take advantage of their speed to outmaneuver the Air Force.

"They (Air Force)are definitely all skilled. They have good hands, so it's hard to get the puck away from them when they have it," said Francis. "They can move the puck a lot; they have good crisp passes across the ice and they play well as a team."

In the third period, the Army scored twice, tying the game at 5-5. The tying goal came during an Army power play when Army forward Matthew Hickey, moving down the right boards and catching the Air Force during a line change, passed the puck to forward Theodore Haras, who capitalized on the mismatch and netted the puck.

Despite the Army's momentum, which had been building since the second period, the Air Force scored two go-ahead goals to clinch the win.

"Our defense, for the most part, controlled the puck," Calvin said. "The Army was definitely younger and faster. When we could control the puck we had the momentum, but when we gave the puck away, for whatever reason, we were scrambling a lot of times. It was a stressful game, but it was fun too."

Calvin pointed out the game was played for more than just a year of bragging rights for the winning team and wouldn't have happened without the community's support.

"What we were trying to do is show the community that we are here and part of them and try to put on something that they can enjoy," Calvin said. "The fact that we had a couple of members of the military have a chance to win a new vehicle, to have the community to bring that to the table, say 'We appreciate you'... that's outstanding."

Attendance for this year's game quadrupled over the inaugural game in 2014, with a crowd of more than 2,000 people packing the stands.  The University of Alaska-Anchorage donated the use of the facilities for the game, which was played prior to UAA's military appreciation game later that evening.

"Events like this just show what's already happening on JBER," Calvin said. "It's just amazing what can happen when people put aside their differences and want to work towards a common goal."

Culture Shift

by Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson
673d WSA

1/14/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- According to, Sexual assault reports are on the rise, and have been for years now.

This is a good sign.

An increase in reports directly testifies to a culture shift in the force structure. People who are experiencing sexual assaults are proving to be more likely to report it, which allows commanders to weed out the perpetrators and in turn create a safer environment for everyone.

However, one sexual assault is too many, said Air Force Col. Brian Bruckbauer, commander of the JBER 673d Air Base Wing.

There are computer based training programs and power points galore, but commanders at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson have been looking to approach this issue from a fundamentally new angle to continue the forward progress and spark a cultural change.

Statistics from indicate that 61% of sexual assault completed investigations happen to persons under the age of 25 and 19% do not have an age documented. This means that potentially 80% of completed investigations are in that demographic.

With this in mind, JBER commanders have assembled a team of volunteers to provide first hand insight into what this target age group thinks of the current Sexual Assault Prevention Response training and what they think can be done differently to create results.

What was originally designed as a short-term feedback session to provide new information on preventing sexual assaults to senior leadership has developed into a permanent advisory initiative made up of volunteers with a unique perspective on sexual assault prevention.

Members volunteered to be part of the task force October 26, 2014 and after consultation with their chain of command were accepted when Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Sexual Assault Prevention Response Task Force, (JBER SAPR Task Force-JSTF) formed, November 6, 2014.

Darmaly Williams, the sexual assault prevention and response program manager for the 673d Air Base Wing explained the JSTF is composed entirely of Airmen in the target population that experiences the most sexual assaults. Their task is to give the command staff a peek inside the mind of the younger service members.

Some questions need to be answered - like:

Are they taking SAPR briefings seriously?

In what context do sexual assaults happen?

Why do victims decline to report?

By consulting with the JSTF, senior leadership is able to get an idea of the needs of this audience and begin to tailor SAPR training specifically for them, Williams said.

"We are trying to establish communication, instead of one-way direction," said Williams. "If you don't listen to your customer, how can you improve your service?"

When the JSTF met with JBER commanders Dec. 12, they suggested that they continue to provide information to the commanders as a force multiplier of the installation's SAPR office.

Williams said after everything was put on the table, the commanders decided to continue engaging with JSTF long-term, as it became apparent there was a lot more coming from this effort than originally expected.

"They don't just want to see change, they want to be part of the change," Williams explained. "It's inspiring."

"JSTF members have direct access to commanders and senior enlisted advisors through quarterly meetings," Bruckbauer said. "During these meetings, JSTF members provide feedback on current initiatives, report concerns they experience or that have been brought to their attention, and offer solutions they feel will best resonate with our Airmen."

"Computer-based training and the occasional SAPR down days highlighted a problem, but did not encourage a different kind of culture," said Bruckbauer.

"We are resolved to inspire a change in behavior, and are striving to shape an audience that is receptive and responsive rather than discouraged and potentially apathetic," Bruckbauer continued.

"It's important to us that the community understands we are open to listen; we want them to speak up, to let us know how they feel, and to let us know what they need," Williams said. "We are trying to change a culture, so we need all the help we can get."

Dempsey Praises Scowcroft at National War College Event

By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

FORT LESLEY J. MCNAIR, Washington, D.C., Jan. 14, 2015 – Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, praised the career of retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft during a dedication ceremony in honor of Scowcroft’s achievements held at the National War College here yesterday.

Scowcroft, 89, a War College graduate who retired from the Air Force in December 1975 after nearly 30 years of military service, helped to shape the nation’s strategic thinking, Dempsey said at the ceremony.

The War College, a school with the National Defense University, hosted the event to officially dedicate a Roosevelt Hall room to Scowcroft, a former national security advisor.

Distinguished Military, Civilian Career

During his military and civilian career, Scowcroft served as military assistant to President Richard Nixon and as deputy assistant to the president for National Security Affairs in the Nixon and Ford administrations.

Scowcroft served as Chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005, and assisted President Barack Obama in choosing his national security team.

What binds Roosevelt Hall namesake President Theodore Roosevelt and Scowcroft is that they both are “incredibly principled men,” Dempsey said during his remarks at the ceremony.

“It’s been his heart and soul, it’s been his worth and his actions, that have in fact placed him in rare standing over six decades of service in a quiet, measured, wise way,” Dempsey said of Scowcroft. “He has helped guide the nation through various challenges … whether from direct conflict to a Cold War and back into the very complex security environment in which we find ourselves today.”

Scowcroft’s career in the Air Force after graduating in 1947 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, culminated as lieutenant general and Deputy National Security Advisor, including Professor of Russian History at West Point. He also served as Assistant Air Attaché in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Office of the Secretary of Defense International Security Assistance; Special Assistant to the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Military Assistant to President Nixon.

Provided Strategic Advice, Assistance

The plaque honoring Scowcroft, mounted in the War College’s Roosevelt conference room, in part, reads:

“As a 1968 graduate of the National War College, Lt. Gen. Scowcroft has become one of the nation’s leading experts on international policy providing the nation with unparalleled strategic advice and assistance in dealing in the international arena.”

In his remarks during the ceremony, Scowcroft noted that Theodore Roosevelt was among the presidents that were observed to be “very much in sync with the country” and “exuberant.”

36th SFS conducts advanced MWD training

by Senior Airman Amanda Morris
36th Wing Public Affairs

1/14/2015 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Military working dog handlers from the 36th Security Forces Squadron recently conducted advanced decoy training at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

The training featured the use of tools like padded suit jackets, bite sleeves, hidden sleeves and multiple agitation tools.

"We have had a lot of new guys come in, and we are introducing them to new training and tools," said Staff Sgt. James Colip, 36th SFS MWD trainer supervisor. "This training makes the handlers better, so they can make these dogs better."

Advanced decoy training helps the dogs as well as the trainers. The animals learn different catching methods while the decoys become more comfortable in typically uncomfortable situations, allowing them to get as close to the dogs as possible.

"This training enhanced my skills and taught me better ways to do my job and train these dogs," said Staff Sgt. Mario Rey, 36th SFS MWD handler. "This was my first time doing this kind of advanced training and I learned a lot today."

Training is non-stop, and the handlers spend countless hours training with their dogs. Handlers are assigned to a specific dog and are typically paired by personality. In instances when the handler and dog cannot be paired by personality, the handler will reflect the dog's personality to build a bond.

"The newer dogs have a lot of quirks -- they are puppies around a year and a half to two years old, and they don't know the game," Colip said. "We have to be able to forecast them messing up and try to guide them in the right direction. Similar to having a new troop, you want to put the animal in the right direction, because it's going to shape the rest of their career."

Military working dogs are used for combat missions as well as government support missions whether it's local or global.

"Working with the MWDs is incredibly important; they provide a tool and a method of detection that no other tool on this base can do," Colip said. "No machine or person can do what these dogs can do, so what they provide is very important."

Communication Squadron wins Air Force Reserve Command Information Dominance awards

by Senior Airman Jaimi L. Upthegrove
By the 482nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office

1/13/2015 - HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla.  -- The 482nd Communication Squadron at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, received the Lt. Gen. Harold W. Grant Outstanding Unit award and three Information Dominance individual awards.

This is the second year in a row for the 482nd CS to win the top unit award.

The unit award honors Lt. Gen. Harold W. Grant, the first commander of the Air Force Communications Service. It recognizes cyberspace units for sustained superior performance and professional excellence while managing core cyberspace functions, and for contributions that most improved Air Force operations.

"The Communications Squadron met and tackled many challenges throughout 2014. These awards recognize their achievements and dedication to excellence," said Col. Elwin Rozyskie, 482nd Fighter Wing Mission Support Group commander. "Having the Reserve Command recognize the squadron with these command-level awards is a testament to their achievements and we are very proud of them here."

Lt. Gen. Harold W. Grant Outstanding Unit Award

The 482nd CS brought home the Lt. Gen. Harold W. Grant for their outstanding achievements over the year. They were the first in the Air Force Reserve Command to launch a Knowledge Operations Management Center which is set to become the template for other units. They conducted the first multi-unit base recovery communications exercise which trained five units in one ten day period on contingency planning and support.

"I'm really impressed with what our folks have accomplished this year," said Maj. Michael D. Wells, 482nd CS commander. "They've tackled two major inspections with flying colors and wrote the playbook on how to conduct a communications readiness exercise."

The Information Dominance award recognizes outstanding individuals working in cyberspace career fields for sustained superior performance and contributions to Air Force missions and operations.

Information Dominance Outstanding Radio Systems NCO of the Year Award

Tech. Sgt. Michael Bugger, 482nd CS Radio Frequency Transmission Systems Technician, earned the Air Force Outstanding RF Transmission Systems Non-Commissioned Officer of the year award. Bugger distinguished himself by troubleshooting malfunctioning sirens for the Florida Air National Guard detachment here, overseeing the Homestead ARB E-911 project which assisted increasing safety on base, and spearheaded AFRC upgrade directive of voice over internet protocol phones among other things.

Information Dominance Outstanding Cyber Transport NCO of the Year Award

Tech. Sgt. Bryan Peterson, 482nd CS Cyber Transport Technician, was awarded the AF Outstanding Cyber Transport Systems NCO of the year award. Peterson was a key leader in the Joint Incident Sit Communications Capability workshop and consolidated the base's network infrastructure by installing 30 remote access servers.  Peterson also built an electro-static discharge station which assured the protection of personnel and equipment from electrical shock.

Information Dominance Outstanding Radio Systems Airman of the Year Award

Senior Airman Miguel Luna, 482nd CS RF transmission systems technician, won the AF Outstanding RF Transmission System Airman of the year award. Among his list of accomplishments were arranging and conducting annual wing personal wireless communication system training, installing and configuring more than 25 radios in the emergency operations center, and assisting the air traffic control shop troubleshoot and repair a ramp communication network.

Face of Defense: Troops Stick to Health Practices in Liberia

By Army Spc. Caitlyn Byrne
27th Public Affairs Detachment

MONROVIA, Liberia, Jan. 14, 2015 – Whether they are learning new techniques to stay mentally resilient, exercising to stay physically strong, or washing their hands and applying hand sanitizer to prevent illness, service members deployed under Joint Forces Command – United Assistance in Monrovia, Liberia, are always taking steps to stay healthy.

It is imperative that service members maintain a high level of health and physical well-being so that in turn, they can provide the optimum amount of aid to the people and government of Liberia.

Army Capt. Tyler Mark, force health protection officer for the JFC-UA surgeon cell, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), said soldiers deployed for Operation United Assistance are keeping up with their personal health practice requirements such as frequent hand washing and temperature checks.

Health Checks, Balances

“We have multiple checks and balances in place to ensure that soldiers are staying healthy,” said Mark, who hails from Kenosha, Wisconsin. “We’ve found that one of the most effective methods to have soldiers comply with health standards is command influence, where if the commanding general says that his number-one priority is health protection, soldiers are even more likely to listen and follow instruction.”

However, Mark said, such command influence is more of an assurance than a necessity. Soldiers here, he said, are more than willing to maintain proper health protection practices on their own, using the multiple bleach buckets located outside community buildings, washing their hands frequently, using hand sanitizer, carrying their required personal protection equipment and performing temperature checks twice daily.

Army Spc. William Ferguson, health specialist for Headquarters Support Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, said he feels his work as a health specialist deployed to Barclay Training Center in Monrovia is making a difference in helping to keep soldiers healthy.

“Part of my duties here are to make sure that all the bleach buckets are filled,” said Ferguson, an Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, native. “I check all the buckets spread around camp each hour, and I probably refill them about every two hours. It feels good to be a part of keeping everyone healthy here and make a difference. People need to wash their hands and if I wasn’t doing my job well, then that might not happen -- people could get sick.”

Health Surveillance System

There is a JFC-UA preventative medicine system in place to ensure that not only are soldiers following proper health practices, but that they are provided with the resources and clean environment in which to live and operate, Mark said.

“It is a combined effort from the 61st Preventative Medicine Detachment and the 463rd Veterinary Detachment, who both fall under the 86th Combat Support Hospital,” Mark said. “The 61st conducts vector surveillance, vector sprays, dining facility health inspections and food and water safety, while the 463rd conducts more specific food and water testing of the food and water that are coming in to each camp to ensure they’re up to standard.”

Preventative Medicine Teams

Teams of two to four preventative measure and veterinary health specialists are sent to conduct weekly site visits of Barclay Training Center and all other camps in Liberia, Mark said.

“Preventative medicine teams will walk around a site, checking for things like the proper dispersal and use of bed nets, the cleanliness of personal hygiene areas, dining facilities and sleeping areas,” Mark said. “They will go in and check the quality of the water and food being served to soldiers, as well as randomly ask soldiers if they are carrying the proper PPE.”

Mark said the health of soldiers is paramount to the success of the mission and that JFC-UA has a complex and layered system in place to ensure soldiers are both taken care of and taking care of themselves.

“Not only do we have our preventative medicine teams, we also have inspector general teams that conduct similar, independent assessments as well,” he said. “They mostly check with lower command leaders in charge at the various camps to gauge the level of compliance with health practices. We also have the mayor cells of each camp ensure that there are soldiers refilling the bleach buckets, conducting temperature checks and that sanitation contractors are doing their part as well.”

Tracking Health Information

Mark’s team also has a way of tracking all the information that the preventative medicine teams collect.

“There is a lot of information to disseminate, so we use a disease and non-battle injury report,” he said. “Each JFC-UA camp sends up a daily report of the number of soldiers who go to sick call and what symptoms they have. Based on those numbers we can create a fairly robust tracking system that we can adjust and evaluate. It is both site-specific and a good picture of how our entire operation is running.”

As far as ensuring whether all these systems and preventative medicine practices are actually being used by soldiers, Mark said that Col. Todd Vento, the senior infectious disease subject matter expert from Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, came up with an anonymous survey to gauge exactly how closely soldiers are following the recommended health practices.

“Col. Vento came up with an extensive survey that asked soldiers to verify whether or not they are doing things like taking their anti-malarial medicine daily, are they getting their temperatures checked, are they using Deet or bug spray, are they wearing the proper treated uniforms,” Mark said. “We received about 600 surveys back and all showed good signs of compliance with the standards that we have established.”

Keeping Watch for Malaria

Mark said they have found Malaria-carrying mosquitos in all of the JFC-UA camps in Liberia and the potential attack rate of the mosquitos is between 11 to 50 percent, meaning between 11 to 50 percent of soldiers deployed in Liberia run the risk of getting bitten by a mosquito infected with Malaria. The number of soldiers reported having Malaria is still zero.

“This situation is unique,” Mark said. “This is a different kind of deployment, this being a humanitarian mission with a huge emphasis on medical issues. It differs from the usual deployment because it is a very controlled environment when it comes to public health and preventative measures.

“There is little troop migration and when soldiers do go out on mission there are numerous measures in place to ensure that they come back healthy,” he continued. “A far as force health protection, standards are always maintained -- no matter the situation.”