Thursday, January 22, 2015

Service beyond the uniform

by Senior Airman Alex Echols
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/22/2015 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.  -- Airmen are vigil on and off duty, in and out of uniform. That means watching for danger and taking care of people no matter the situation.

Technical Sgt. William Dryden Jr., 325th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department station captain/crew chief, proved that when Airmen and the community come together they can do a lot to help others, even after a devastating car crash.

Dryden was driving home from the gym after working a night shift when he came across a vehicle collision at Transmitter Road and County Road 390 around 8:45 a.m. Jan. 15.

When he arrived at the scene, Dryden saw a red car with a crushed front end and airbags deployed and a black sports utility vehicle flipped into a ditch.

"I feel like it's my job, you know?" said Dryden. "When a type of situation that you train for comes, you have to take on that task and responsibility and just let the training take over."

Dryden's fire fighter training kicked in at this point. He blocked traffic from the scene with his personal vehicle and jumped out to assess the situation.

The SUV was taking on water from the flooded ditch, and its gas tank had ruptured from the crash. Four people were inside.

"There were people in the front yelling," said Dryden. "I could see one person upside-down, face down, not talking, not responsive and not asking for any help what so ever."

He broke the driver's side window allowing the two front passengers to clamber out. Both people in the back seat were upside-down, unconscious and resting on their necks.

"My biggest concern was to try to get them out and open their airways up because they were lying on their neck and not responding," said Dryden.

With the help of two Bay County citizens, Dryden pried the window up, climbed into the vehicle, got those passengers out and ensured their airways were open. An off-duty nurse also arrived on the scene to provide care to the passengers.

"The biggest thing that helped me out was the community," said Dryden. "If I wouldn't have had them there it would've been much more difficult."

All of this happened in about five minutes. Once the Bay County Fire Department arrived, Dryden briefed them on the situation and let them take it over from there.

"I applaud his courage and quick-thinking, as well as the initiative to take action rather than remaining a bystander," said Col. Christopher Holmes, 325th Mission Support Group commander. "This speaks volumes about Dryden's quality of character along with his caring for others.  He certainly personifies our Air Force core value of 'Service Before Self.'"

All six occupants were taken to the hospital with two sustaining severe injuries.

Travis Airmen support music education through social media

USAF Band of the Golden West

1/22/2015 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- According to YouTube, people watch more than 6 billion hours of video every month. Many videos on the popular social media site are dedicated to instructional videos with topics ranging from changing a car tire to braiding hair.

In August 2014, the U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West began creating instructional videos. These videos support music education and aim to reach student musicians. Each video, two- to-three minutes in length, contains demonstrations of a particular musical skill.

"The videos are a unique way for students to have access to high quality instruction from any place with internet access," said Staff Sgt. Caleb Brinkley, the project's leader. "They also present a positive image of the Air Force to the American public."

While touring the Western United States the Band of the Golden West often provides educational clinics to inspire passion and patriotism in school musicians. During the clinics, band members share tips and tricks with the musicians. The same tips and tricks are featured in the YouTube videos.

"A large group of people can relate to the videos," said Master Sgt. Heather Kirschner, Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of Productions at the Band of the Golden West. "Students of all skill levels and ages can gain insight into skills we possess in the Air Force."

Band of the Golden West fans find the videos informative and appreciate the band's efforts to spread music education. 

The videos provided awesome tips for my 11-year-old, a 5th-grade trombone player, said Deb Scott-Rowe, a fan of the Band of the Golden West.

Using the popularity of social media, the Band of the Golden West is educating young musicians and strengthening partnerships between the Air Force and the civilian community in a creative way.

The videos are available on the Band of the Golden West's YouTube page at

Finding time to run

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera
JBER Public Affairs

1/22/2015 - JONT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- A lifelong runner, Air Force Capt. Allison Easterly, 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron Delta flight commander, has participated in several marathons and half-marathons since her first full marathon in 2006.

In 2012, when she was 12 weeks pregnant, she participated in a half-marathon, and then ran another one six months after her daughter was born. Last year in September, she helped her team win first place in the Air Force Marathon Major Command team challenge.

Easterly loves running; she found her niche in running at a young age.

At the age of seven, she wanted to one day run the fastest mile at her school. Her aunt, who used to be a professional triathlete, was thrilled when she showed an interest in running.

"There was nobody else in my family who was interested in running, so I would spend a week in the summer with her," Easterly said. "We would run every day and she would give me different types of drills, training tips, record my running form and give feedback on how I could be more efficient."

As she got older, the Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, native would set goals of distance and time, and her aunt would provide her with a training plan two to three months out.

However, when she was in middle school, Easterly injured her knee and had to have surgery. Coping with the injury, she still continued to run.
"I was a lot slower in high school and it held me back," the runner said. "When I got to college and ROTC, I was able to push past it. Running was solely on me, my choice and my drive -- that is when I realized how much I enjoy running."

Easterly noted that with the typical injuries runners deal with -- such as pulled muscles or sprains -- it's necessary to listen to the body, take it easy and pull back from training before pushing it again.

The flight commander said Alaska hasn't been a challenge for her due to the mild winter. In fact, the different possibilities in Anchorage keep her training interesting and effective.

"I actually prefer the running environment here to my last base [Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma] because in the summer, the weather is absolutely perfect. There are many trails that have different routes and options," Easterly said.

"My training is very fluid," Easterly said. "I run five to six days a week and I always try to have one speed-workout and one long run (nine miles or more) each week."

While she's not always prepping for a specific race, Easterly said she always considers herself in training and can easily accumulate more than 40 miles a week.

"I always have a good base mileage going on, which is the biggest thing with training for a half or full marathon or any long distance," Easterly said. "You have to have a base mileage [set miles you want to run] before you can build on that."

As an avid runner, she found out about the opportunity to represent Pacific Air Forces in the Air Force Marathon Major Command team challenge at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, from her leadership.

"Our first sergeant had gotten an email from the fitness center here [JBER] and was looking for people to represent PACAF team," Easterly said. "I heard about it and at that time, I hadn't picked a race so it was a good opportunity to try it out."

To be considered, Easterly submitted a request for U.S. Air Force Specialized Sports Training and her last three years of run times and accomplishments.

During the team's win, the total run time for the PACAF half-marathon team was 9:07:38 with an average time of 1:31:17. Her individual run time was 1:37:24.

Easterly's advice to anyone who wants to run or participate in any marathon, "[is that] running is at least 80 percent mental, so anyone who can get past their mental hang-ups and self-imposed limitations can compete," she said. "It's really just about overcoming those mental blocks."

"Running is something I feel like you have to get in a habit of and once you get in the swing of it and start racing, it's hard to let go of," she said.

"My wife gets up early and runs way more than I do," Air Force Maj. Karl Easterly, 962d AACS assistant director of operations, said. "She does this on a daily basis, goes to training and puts in a lot of hard work."

On the day of the Air Force Marathon Major Command challenge team, Easterly's husband, their daughter and her mother were there to cheer her on.

"I was running fast as I could at the end of the race and congratulated her," Karl Easterly said. "I was definitely proud of her."

Airman finds fulfillment in weapons instruction

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
JBER Public Affairs

1/22/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Senior Airman Jamarcus Perry's average work day "at the office" includes teaching classrooms full of people about marksmanship, handling and issuing various weapons, and running a firing range at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

A first-term Airman with six years of service, serving as a Combat Arms Training and Maintenance instructor wasn't what he expected to be doing when he grew up.
Perry had been thinking about joining the military since eighth grade, when his math teacher recommended he try ROTC.

When he started high school, he learned they had an Air Force Junior ROTC program and signed up.

"She said try it out, and if I didn't like it after the first two years, get out," the native of Newport News, Virginia, said. "I think it was worth it; they show you some good stuff. I ended up staying in all four years."

After high school, he saw two choices for himself: college or the military.

"I wasn't ready for the freedom of college," he said. "I wanted the stability. I wanted the self-discipline. I believe it was worth it. [JROTC] shows you good stuff to help get by in [Basic Military Training].

"Facing movements came easy. Marching and the commands came easy. They show us how to wear the blues jacket and ribbons and stuff. When we got to that point in basic, I was already a step ahead."

Today, Perry is a Combat Arms instructor with the 673d Security Forces Squadron.
"I think I've grown a lot," he said. "Security Forces was actually my last choice, but I love working and interacting with people, getting to meet new people, so I figure having the chance to be an instructor, and work with the weapons, that's a win-win - make the best of the situation."

The training was challenging, he said, but it helped him realize he wanted to teach it to others.

"When I first started the weapons course, it was kind of hard. But after a while, it got easier. I just wanted to make it easier for somebody else."

"Airman Perry teaches a lot; he runs the weapons vault and the firing line," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Aric Shott, CATM instructor and a native of West Palm Beach, Florida. "He helps people qualify on the M4 carbine and M9 pistol for their deployment or their temporary duty, or their next assignment."

Combat Arms instruction exists to familiarize Airmen with the basics, he said.

Perry said one of the reasons he loves his job are some of the unusual things being in Alaska offers - such as an indoor firing range, which has been upgraded over the last few years.

"I really thought the range was the best part of coming to Alaska," he said. "That made Alaska so much better. It's been upgraded - we've got the target retrieval system that brings the targets up and takes them back for us.

"We actually have an iPad so we can do it from the computer. We can run the range from the tablet from outside of the room. It makes it much easier."

Perry said teaching is his favorite part of the job.

"It's the interaction - getting the chance to teach somebody something new," he said. "We have a good time in class, it makes it enjoyable for everybody. I know for a fact, if you do get into a fire fight [while deployed], you'll need to know how to operate in case something happens.

"If someone's weapon goes down, or your weapon goes down, you'll at least know how to get it operational enough to defend yourself. What we teach, and what the students teach us, can be important in dire situations," Perry said.

"That's why we make sure everybody gets the basics down in class - to be able to defend yourself and your comrades."

The most interactive part of the class is when they start breaking down the weapons and naming the parts, he said.

"You get to talk to them about what the weapon does and what it can do," he said. "You get some pretty good answers."

Perry said he continues to grow and improve his skill set, better himself as a person, and better support his and JBER's mission.

"It's great, I love it," he said. "It really helps that we're here to get everybody on the right track. I'm doing my best, everyday becoming a better person than yesterday. That's the goal."

New squadron highlights importance of cyber security

by Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich
15th Wing Public Affairs

1/22/2015 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- Recognizing the growing importance of cyber security in the Air Force and the nation, the 561st Network Operations Squadron Det.1 was deactivated here Jan. 6 and activated as the new 690th Cyberspace Operations Squadron.

The squadron will take advantage of the efficiencies gained from the Air Force Network that will allow Air Force cyber experts to be better prepared to operate, maintain and secure the Air Force Information Network.

"The 690th COS can provide a more proactive mission of  identifying  and closing vulnerabilities, as well as interpreting cyber intelligence and implementing new network configurations," said Col. Chad Raduege, 690th COS commander.

The new squadron consists of 144 Airmen who conduct 24-hour operations seven days a week. Their mission is to provide agile cyber combat support worldwide and enable warfighters the ability to leverage advanced weaponry against those who seek to harm the United States and global allies.

"What is improving with the 690th COS activation is an effort to develop better network situational awareness [and] to become less reactive and more proactive," Raduege said.

NATO Focuses on Russian Violations of Ukraine's Sovereignty

By Lisa Ferdinando
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT, Jan. 22, 2015 – NATO is focused on strategies to deal with its two biggest threats -- Russian aggression to its east, and the threat of terrorism from its south, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey and other alliance defense chiefs today concluded two days of talks at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Russian aggression, Dempsey said, has "changed sovereign borders with the use of coercion." And the recent terrorist attacks in Paris underscore the "very real threat of terrorism that comes up into NATO's southern flank."

There was consensus among the military chiefs that NATO must confront these threats, he said.

NATO Needs to Address Both Threats

"I thought this would be the most important meeting of its kind that I've had with NATO since I've been chairman, and in my judgment it proved to be just that," the chairman said in an interview on his plane back to Washington.

"We came to an agreement that NATO really does have to address both threats, and that NATO has the capability and the resources to address them both," Dempsey said. "We don't have to pick which threat is more serious."

While Dempsey declined to discuss details of the most recent allegations of Russia violating September’s Minsk ceasefire agreement, he did underscore the seriousness in which NATO views the Russian aggression.

"It is indicative of efforts on the part of Russia to support separatists in, frankly, violation of Ukrainian sovereignty," Dempsey said. "We're very concerned about it."

Eastern Europeans are very unsettled about the threats to the east, and the southern Europeans are very unsettled about the threats to the south, Dempsey said.

U.S. and European officials have expressed concern about the return of foreign fighters through NATO's southern flank, and the threat that those extremists pose to Europe.

NATO to Evolve Strategy to Address Threats

The defense chiefs also discussed the strategic concept, crafted in 2010, that informs NATO's defense planning. Global security has changed "pretty dramatically" in those four years, Dempsey said.

NATO will evolve its strategies to deal with the threats to its east and south, and the military chiefs will make recommendations on the way the NATO military arm is organized and resourced, he said.

Dempsey said it is important to demonstrate "our resolve and our reassurance" to NATO's Baltic and Eastern European allies through the Readiness Action Plan, NATO's response to the Russian aggression.

Alliance officials say the Readiness Action Plan will significantly enhance NATO’s readiness and responsiveness and ensure that NATO forces remain ready. In the interim, NATO has established a “very high readiness” joint task force coordinated by Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe.

NATO has bolstered its presence in Eastern Europe, while the United States has conducted a variety of reassurance measures to include airborne exercises in Poland and the Baltic nations.

"We have the very real requirement to reassure our allies, to increase the readiness of NATO's forces, and to adapt some of the organizations that provide NATO rapid response and the NATO command structures," Dempsey said.

The defense chiefs did "really big lifting" to address the near-term requirements on readiness and assurance, he added, and on the longer-term approach to the threats to east and south.

Pleased With Transition in Afghanistan

Dempsey said the defense chiefs were pleased with the successful transition from the combat International Security Assistance Force mission to the Resolute Support mission that trains, advises, assists and builds capacity.

Flexibility is needed in the strategy for Afghanistan, Dempsey said, encouraging the allies to "stay committed at the regional level through the fighting season of 2015." It is prudent to stay at the regional level militarily through the year, he added.

Dempsey, who said the alliance has a great ally in Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, said the strategy must consider both conditions on the ground and a timetable for progress.

"Milestones based on time are an important goal, so that you have something to reach for and to plan for and to resource for," he said. "It just seems to me that in these kinds of missions, it is useful to have both a timetable but then be willing to assess and reassess and assess again the conditions."

The United States has demonstrated flexibility, he said.

"Initially we were supposed to be at 9,800 [troops in Afghanistan] by the end of 2014, but our NATO allies had some challenges in resourcing, and so we've left an additional 1,000 there into the spring, to allow NATO to catch up with its resourcing challenges."

First missileer Pathfinder reflects on experience

by Capt. Christopher Mesnard
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

1/22/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Career development comes in many shapes and forms in the military, and for Capt. Jacob Lusson, Air Force Global Strike Command Manpower and Personnel, the Striker Pathfinder program has opened up an opportunity for him to learn in a fast-paced environment at the major command level.

Lusson, a Phoenix native, first entered the internship-style program a year and a half ago, and has since filled two different staff positions in addition to attending advanced educational training at a number of locations, including Sandia Labs at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

"Getting this experience in the MAJCOM now has been hugely beneficial so far," said Lusson.  "There's quite a bit of extra responsibility than what I'd normally have as a captain right now, also the extra [training] opportunities we get as Pathfinders are invaluable."

The program was developed to provide AFGSC captains a three-year internship opportunity on the MAJCOM staff, rotating participants through various directorates. The knowledge and network connections gained will ideally help participants once they return to their respective wings.

The program isn't necessarily a precursor for a command position upon return to the wing, but the ability to perform at the command level and integrate that skill with the leadership requirements at the wing, has the potential to pay dividends to every Global Strike base and their Airmen.

"I was placed in the ICBM Operations Division for my first rotation on the MAJCOM staff," said Lusson, an Arizona State University alumnus. "Starting off in operations, where I have the most experience, made learning the staff piece a little easier and provided a good transition."

According to the program manager, Maj. Dustin Harmon, AFGSC Field Activities Branch chief, the experience at the MAJCOM will benefit the individuals selected, but the greater goal is to develop leaders who know how to talk at both the base and staff levels.

"We wanted to take young officers, primarily captains, and bring them to the MAJCOM to grow and let them get a better idea of how [it] works," said Harmon. "We wanted to get them out of the day-to-day ops and get them that big picture to develop them as leaders for the future."

Applicants are competitively selected and the program is open to AFGSC bomber pilots and combat systems operators and missileers. Air Reserve Component members have a similarly competitive ARC Pathfinder program consisting of Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard bomber pilots and combat systems operators.

Lusson is the first missileer selected to the Pathfinder program, and in the future Harmon expects the application process to open up to include security forces and eventually future enlisted leaders.

Hagel, Qatari Minister Discuss Regional, Security Issues

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2015 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke to Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Abdallah bin Nasir Al Thani today to discuss mutual regional and security issues, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, Kirby said Hagel thanked the prime minister for his efforts to advance the strategic partnership the United States and Qatar enjoy.

“Prime Minister Al Thani reaffirmed the strong relationship, noting that the two countries share many common interests,” he added.

Hagel Thanks U.S. Military, Lauds American Leadership

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

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2015 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today expressed his gratitude to U.S. service members for their service and to their families for their sacrifice, as well as his pride in America’s global leadership role.

Speaking to Pentagon reporters, Hagel recalled his recent three-day trip to bases around the country to personally thank service members.

“As we leave 2014 behind, I want to, first of all, thank all the men and women of the Defense Department for their sacrifice, their service, for this country,” he said. “I also want to thank their families for the incredible sacrifices they make. All of America, I know, is very proud of the men and women of this institution.”

Commitment to Service

In what may be his last news conference before leaving office, Hagel recognized U.S. troops for their commitment to service all over the world.

“We see their agility today in the Middle East, where our men and women continue to stay on high alert, particularly off the coast of Yemen, where that situation changes hourly,” he said.

“We’ve seen their agility in West Africa, where thousands of our troops deployed to help stop the spread of Ebola at the source.”

The defense secretary also pointed to the ongoing efforts of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, and said that while there is still much more work to do, he is encouraged by the progress that has been made.

“This is an ongoing process of development measured by many metrics as to the progress we’re making,” Hagel said.

American Leadership

“In Afghanistan,” he said, “we’ve transitioned with our ISAF partners to the new Resolute Support mission -- training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces as they assume full responsibility for their nation’s security.”

In Iraq, Hagel said, U.S. troops are working with coalition partners to help train and support Iraqi forces as they take the fight to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and as the country seeks to form an inclusive government that represents all the people of Iraq.

Noting he’d just received a briefing yesterday, Hagel said troops soon will begin deploying to the region to help in training and equipping the moderate Syrian opposition.

Strengthening Alliances

Hagel said these missions demonstrate the critically important roles U.S. allies play in advancing shared interests around the world.

“Since our alliances and long-term partnerships are important to our own security,” he said, “strengthening these allied relationships with a core strategic focus for this department in 2014 has been very important, and it will be an ongoing priority.”

During the past year, Hagel said, the first U.S.-Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Forum on American soil took place and the U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council defense ministers met for the first time in more five years.

And as Russia’s aggression in Ukraine galvanized the NATO alliance, the secretary said, the United States bolstered its training exercises and rotational deployments, continuing to make progress, reassuring its allies and demonstrating its resolve.

Hagel also said he has put the U.S.-India relationship “as high on my priority list as any one area” can be, and noted he has worked “very hard” not only on finding common ground, but also on advancing the relationship. President Barack Obama’s upcoming trip to India, he said, may “produce some very tangible and positive results” of the Defense Department’s efforts.

“It’s a particularly, I think, unique time for this relationship between India and the United States,” Hagel said. “I am very proud of the progress we’ve made.” The relationship will continue to progress, he added.

Necessity of U.S. Leadership

The past year, Hagel said, was marked by persistent and varied threats that included terrorism, global health pandemic, sectarian violence, cyberattacks, state-on-state aggression and transnational crime. Though predicting the next crisis is impossible, he said, he noted that Obama said during his State of the Union address earlier this week that if there’s been one constant seen over the last year, it is the necessity of American leadership in the world.

“That leadership,” Hagel said, “and the ready and capable military that supports it, will be even more important in the years to come.”