Friday, January 30, 2015

Spartan paratroopers graduate from Finnish cold-weather course

by Sgt. Brian Ragin
4-25 IBCT Public Affairs

1/30/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Three U.S. Army Alaska Soldiers and five Marines completed the Finnish Army's Cold Weather Operations Basic Course near the Arctic Circle in Lapland, Finland Jan. 16.

"It is a course that mirrors our Cold Weather Leaders Course," said Sgt. 1st Class Shalim Guzman, a platoon sergeant with Delaware Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division. "We were there to compare their knowledge and [ours] within the cold-weather operation and environments."

Guzman, a Puerto Rico native,  has now attended both courses.

"Once we got there we recognized immediately the difference in the courses," Guzman said. "Everything their course does is on skis and mainly the stuff that we do here is done on snow shoes."

The key elements of the Finnish course include squad movement and fighting techniques, safe and effective weapons handling in sub-zero conditions and military ski techniques.

It also teaches about using snow vehicles, making and using snow shelters, orienteering, survival, and sustaining health and performance.

"Overall it was a tremendous experience," said Sgt. 1st Class Cory James Birdsong, a Salina, Kansas, native and 4-25 schools non-commissioned officer. "It was a unique opportunity to see how the Finnish army operates and get a different take on how another unit also operates in an arctic environment."

The 10-day course is divided into three parts. The first part - five days of basic training and exercises - ends with a test before students can continue.

"The training was physical," said Guzman. "It was the second hardest school I have done since Ranger school. We skied about 120 kilometers ... you have your skis on the entire time."

"We as U.S. Soldiers in Alaska are not used to skiing as much as we did in Finland; we do ski for physical training every now and then, but to ski as much as we did for that period of time was really hard to adapt to," Guzman said.

The second part of the course included four days of live-fire training; students were divided into small groups and given scenarios to complete.

"The training was all delivered in English, the instructors and students there all spoke English very well," Birdsong said.

"The first few days they showed us how everything worked, how they did everything, and the rest of the time we were doing operations, raids and missions using the skills we learned."

Finnish soldiers helped by making most of the task easy to understand, Guzman added.

"I think this partnership will work out great," Guzman said. "The Finnish soldiers I got to meet were extremely happy for us to be there and to actually do some of the things they do. They were also happy to let us use their equipment and give them an honest opinion on how well it worked.

"Overall the partnership was amazing and they took really good care of us from the beginning."

"We were treated very well," Birdsong said. "Finnish Army Capt. Juha Massinen, the overall course leader, treated us just like we were his soldiers."

In the final part of the course, the students jumped into freezing water, removed their skis, came out of the water and built a fire.

"Here in Alaska, we don't do that," Guzman said. "For me to go to another country, and jump into below-freezing water at the very end of all the training was mentally challenging, but overall it was a good course.

"I can't wait for them to come try out CWLC."

Andersen, GovGuam test joint emergency response during island-wide exercise

by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wilson
36th Wing Public Affairs

1/30/2015 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam  -- Team Andersen members joined with emergency responders from the Government of Guam, Joint Region Marianas, Naval Base Guam and other government agencies to conduct a two-day exercise Jan. 27 through 28 across the island.

"This exercise was a deliberate move to integrate Andersen Air Force Base and all of the emergency response forces on the island," said Capt. Brian Slater, 36th Wing Inspector General Office director of inspections. "The exercise strengthened relationships among island first responders and removed assumptions between leadership chains."

The exercise, designated Sling Stone 15-1 for Andersen and Kontra I Piligru for GovGuam, tested the response and coordination of military-based teams from JRM and GovGuam. The exercise scenarios saw teams responding to an aircraft crash, active shooter events and a mock Ebola outbreak.

"The island has a Civil Support Team that focuses on responders to large-scale events, but they need local response teams to be involved with emergency situations in order to activate," said Master Sgt. Michael Wilson, 36th Wing Inspector General's Office. "By participating in an island-wide exercise, not only did we get the chance to exercise our own processes and procedures, we also were able to enable the local response teams to exercise as well. It was definitely a 'win-win.'"

For the aircraft crash, an Andersen-based U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron-25 MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter simulated a crash at the Andersen South training area in Yigo, Guam.  Yigo firefighters responded to the call and put out the fire on a burning training structure and responded to 15 Andersen role players with simulated injuries.

"It went extremely smooth," said John Thompson, Andersen Fire Department chief. "As far as we were concerned, it was a huge success."

Thompson noted he was given guidance from Brig. Gen. Andrew Toth, 36th Wing commander, to look for opportunities to train with the local fire department when he arrived several months ago. This exercise allowed him to do just that.

"It's best to meet and work together under these circumstances," he said, referring to the joint exercise. "You don't want to have to do it when lives are on the line."

Andersen responders also faced an active shooter simulation shortly after the helicopter crash that required a base-wide lockdown and required all Andersen workers, family members and visitors to participate while security forces Airmen tracked and eliminated the shooter threat.  The base also faced a mock Ebola outbreak scenario when a simulated patient arrived for an appointment describing Ebola symptoms that required the medical group to enact quarantine procedures.

"We thought it would be prudent to take advantage of an evaluation opportunity to work on scenarios with real-world impacts," Wilson said.  "This was a phenomenal opportunity to test the command and control architecture between JRM, Naval Base Guam, Andersen, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies."

A key objective for both the military and civilian planners was to overwhelm the command and control functions of the applicable response organizations and responders to identify where the breaking point was and if there were shortfalls that could be identified.

The next Kontra I Pilligru exercise is scheduled for 2017 and IG officials are optimistic for the continued participation of Andersen and local responders.

"[We] are extremely excited to participate in an effort to keep making things better," Slater said, noting that the previous exercise in 2013 had more limited federal participation and was mostly run by GovGuam forces. "If something were to happen, this training will prove to be invaluable."

Wolf Pack, ROKAF volunteer at local special needs center

by Senior Airman Taylor Curry
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/30/2015 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- Twelve Airmen journeyed with their Republic of Korea Air Force counterparts Jan. 22 to the Gunsan City Rehabilitation Center, Gunsan City, ROK, for special needs patients to assist the staff with cleaning the facility and to interact with the residents.

"This volunteer event is designed to foster relationships with the local community," said Tech. Sgt. Crystal Ballard, 8th Fighter Wing command chief executive assistant. "Every month, we perform a different task. For example, this time we went to the rehabilitation center. In the past, we have done community service on base, beautification projects, food preparations for local facilities and other community involvement. It just depends on what people need help with, and we will be there to support them."

Once the team of U.S. and ROKAF volunteers stepped off the bus, they were divided into groups to assist the center's staff with a variety of tasks. Teams helped with taking out trash, scrubbing down exercise equipment, removing furniture from living areas and putting together art pieces with residents during an arts and crafts session.

"It was great being able to help the rehabilitation center, as well as work side-by-side with ROKAF personnel," said Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Ceballos, 8th Operations Support Squadron wing scheduler. "I felt it was a personally rewarding and humbling experience, and I would encourage other Airmen to do it for future events."

Although there was a language barrier, U.S. and ROK forces stepped up to work together as a team to tackle all objectives set before them.

"This is my first time volunteering at this center, and it has been a very meaningful experience," said ROKAF Airman 1st Class Son, Tae Seon. "I'm glad I had this opportunity to spend time with the people here, as well as work with the U.S. Air Force Airmen too."

After both teams of volunteers finished with their duties at the center, the group sat down together to enjoy a Korean-style meal in the cafeteria.

"It's not just about volunteering," said Ballard. "It's another chance to bond with our ROKAF partners and members of the Gunsan community."

Cyberwarrior home from Liberia, Ebola free

by Staff Sgt. Lealan Buehrer
182nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

1/29/2015 - PEORIA, Ill. -- A cyber transport systems specialist with Peoria's 264th Combat Communications Squadron returned home in November from the fight against the Ebola epidemic in Africa where he and his unit led the way in building up communications for hospital training centers as part of Operation United Assistance.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Springsteen, a Chicago suburb native, was augmenting the Joint Communications Support Element at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, when he was handpicked for deployment to Liberia.

Springsteen said he knew it was going to be an interesting assignment because it was the first time he had deployed with a JCSE command and control core unit with such short notice.

"We basically had a week to get everything up and running before we had to get everything out. Compared to the last mission they had, they knew about it four months in advance," he said.

Springsteen saw his boots on the ground Oct. 15 in Monrovia, Liberia, building from scratch the command and control location for 600 joint-force personnel at the Armed Forces of Liberia's Barclay Training Center.

"Basically, I set up all the servers that these guys use to pull the services - their email, the databases, everything that they use to do their job - that's what we set up down there," Springsteen said. "We cable everything up, power everything up. We basically ensure that they have an office space to work at, that they see nothing different from when they work at home than when they work at a forward-deployed location."

Springsteen's home station commander at the 264th, Lt. Col. Ronald Crouch, was very proud of his troop answering the call to assist in the global crisis.

"Tech. Sgt. Springsteen is your ideal Airman from a commander's perspective," said Crouch. "He's a self-starter, mission focused and technically proficient with a thirst for knowledge while constantly challenging himself to improve his skillset. He stands out because he is good at what he does."

However, unlike a typical deployment, Springsteen found himself working in the heart of a viral outbreak that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say has killed more than 3,600 people in Liberia.

Did he find the situation intimidating? Yes. Was he fazed? Hardly.

"I knew there wasn't going to be many concerns, but when you mention Ebola and people don't know, people tend to panic," Springsteen said. "And going to Liberia where you can handle getting shot at but then you have this Ebola thing where you have no idea. I mean, you know you're safe, but you still have no idea."

Springsteen's superior never doubted his ability to make a difference.

"Tech. Sgt. Springsteen is a deployment warrior, mission-hacker who relates to the big picture and doesn't get overly excited when things don't go perfectly," Crouch said.

While Springsteen's unit did not expect to be in contact with the local population, the risk of exposure in the joint-force environment was a stressor.  Despite multi-service barriers and technological setbacks, they were ultimately successful.

After a month in Africa, Springsteen's unit was relieved by the Army's 101st Airborne Division and 35th Signal Brigade, and he was on his way back to the States. The final stop between him and home was a 21-day quarantine in the transition center at Langley Air Force Base, Virginai, beginning Nov. 14 -- a precaution for all returning service members to ensure the virus was not carried into the United States.

Springsteen said he found quarantine to be actually very nice.

"We were set up in little bungalows, eight persons per bungalow. We got three hot meals a day," he said.

Springsteen and his roommates passed the time by making use of the facility's gym equipment, entertainment and a computer lab to keep current on training and work. During the illusion of normality, they were constantly tested for symptoms of Ebola.

"They whole time before, the whole time during my deployment and the whole time during quarantine you get your temperature taken twice a day, and if there's a variance of .5 degrees above 98.6 [F] then they'll hold you," Springsteen said. "So if you've not got a temperature and nothing's happened for 21 days, then they know you're Ebola free for a fact."

Springsteen and his roommates were released from quarantine Dec. 4, just in time to come home for the holidays. He took some leave before packing his bags again and transferring from MacDill AFB to continue his work at United States Pacific Command in Honolulu, where there are already forward missions to the Asia-Pacific region waiting for him.

CCAF affiliate school creates two new online courses for DOD personnel

by Michael Peer
USAF Expeditionary Operations School

1/30/2015 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, NJ -- During the days of vacation, excitement, and reflection that surround the beginning of a new year, setting resolutions is a common occurrence for many. If your resolution was advancing your education, the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Operations School located at the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center can get you started.

The USAF EOS recently began two new distance learning courses in response to combatant commander and AF educational needs. The "Air Force Expeditionary Site Survey Process" and "AF Fundamentals of Expeditionary Mobility Operations" joined 23 other interactive distance learning courses developed by the USAF EOS here.

Sgt. Ellsworth Cupid of the 11th Quartermaster Company, who completed "Intro to Air Mobility Operations," said the course was extremely informative. "This course surprised me, I did not expect to learn as much material as I did," Cupid said.

The courses are open to all Active, Reserve, Air National Guard, and Civilian Department of Defense members with a desire to learn Expeditionary Mobility skills. The curriculum offers comprehensive training especially designed for new to mid-level personnel.

The school provides traditional classroom education at the USAF EC, but develops online courses as well to provide flexible options to help Total Force students reach educational and professional goals. More than 2,000 students began online training managed by USAF EOS instructors this January.

"Being that I was out of the career-field for a year, this training is a big help in me getting back my 1CO skills," said Chief Master Sgt. Patrick McFarlin, of Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, about his experience in "Aviation Resource Management Fundamentals."

The amount of time it takes to complete a course varies, from 3-36 hours, based on which course you enroll in and your individual learning pace. Some of the available courseware also serves as a prerequisite to attend advanced training conducted by USAF EOS instructors.

"With over 30,000 graduates within the last 12 months, our online training provides a superior introduction to many of the mobility concepts our people face every day," said Col. Jay Junkins, USAF EOS commander. "Personnel from any DoD service can gain valuable information on many AMC processes such as how we load aircraft or procedures regarding the shipment of hazardous materials."

Steve Mortensen, 62nd Operations Group, said the "Flying Hour Reconciliation" course provided an "excellent manner of capturing material in an easy-to-understand format. It was very valuable."

The online courses offered by the USAF EOS are the first distance learning training to be accredited by the Community College of the Air Force. Enlisted Air Force members can receive credit towards their degree by completing one of the CCAF accredited distance learning courses and then passing a proctored exam at their local base Education Center

Whether it is a general mobility enterprise concept like "Introduction to Air Mobility Operations," or an Air Force Specialty Code specific opportunity like "Aviation Resource Management Fundamentals" there is something for everyone.

"This training was very informative and well thought out," said Master Sgt. James Melford, 752nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, who participated in the "Intro to (Mobility Air Forces) Maintenance Production" course. "The module flowed in such a manner it gave me a better understanding of the big picture."

Life Support: Award-winning SNCO backbone of depot flight safety

by Capt. Christine Miner
413th Flight Test Group

1/30/2015 - WARNER ROBINS, Ga. -- On Jan. 15, Senior Master Sgt. Dana Capaldi was notified she'd been selected as the Air Force's top senior noncommissioned officer of the year in the Air Reserve Component Aircrew Flight Equipment annual awards.

Capaldi, shying away from the fact that this is her second time earning this recognition, admits it's a prestigious award for such a small career field.

After serving more than 24 years in the Aircrew Flight Equipment career field -- formally known as Life Support -- she finds her current assignment as the 413th Flight Test Group Aircrew Flight superintendent the most rewarding of her career thus far.

"I love the challenges that come with supporting two major commands, five geographically separated units and 12 different weapons systems," said Capaldi. When asked what she likes least about the job, she gave the exact same response.

"Depends on the day I guess," she said with a laugh.

Capaldi's primary duty is ensuring the pilots who clear every aircraft coming out of the Air Force depot process at all three Air Force Logistics Complexes are equipped with the lifesaving equipment necessary for flight, and that it works properly in an emergency situation.

"We're meticulous with our work," said Capaldi. "From parachutes to helmets and antigravity suits, if our equipment fails, our pilots' lives will be endangered."

That meticulous work resulted in 465 aircraft safely returned to the warfighter last year.

Every weapon system in Capaldi's portfolio has its own set of requirements for safe flight operations. One of the actions lauded in the award package was her work with the emerging F-35 workload. The aircraft began undergoing modifications at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, early last year. The 514th Flight Test Squadron has since turned out multiple aircraft thanks to her efforts. She was the first in the AFE career field to attend the F-35 training at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

When asked what she would tell an Airman new to the career field, she spoke without hesitation.

"Recognize the importance of the job and the critical role you play in Air Force readiness," she said. "We have an incredible career field filled with tremendous talent and dedication. It's important to remember that no airplane goes back to the fight without AFE."

Airmen in the field: UH-1N aircrew secure ICBM force

by Airman 1st Class Dillon Johnston
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

1/30/2015 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Arriving at the squadron building before the sun has poked above the mountains in the distance, a crew of three begins preparations for a day of helicopter flying.

Making calls to arrange refueling support and flight plans, the two pilots busily work to ensure the mission is able to take off on time. Meanwhile, the crew's special missions aviator makes preparations for the flight to include pre-flight checks on the chopper, as well as checking over the manifest of those who will be flying that mission.

For this tight-knit group, all the preparation and attention to detail pays off ten-fold, as the joy of being in the air is compensation enough.

"(My favorite thing) is flying, hands down," said Capt. RJ Bergman, 40th Helicopter Squadron rescue pilot. "It's what we enjoy doing, and everything else is just so we can fly."

And flying is exactly what was on the menu that morning. An all-day sortie was ahead of them, covering a large portion of the missile field as part of a launch facility security sweep with Tactical Response Force Airmen from the 341st Security Forces Group.

"We, as well as the security forces members, are responsible for the security of the entire missile field," said 1st Lt. Greg Johnston, 40th HS rescue pilot. "We are that forward presence, letting people know we are out there and watching."

This presence in the field is paramount in deterring those who would seek to disrupt or attack the launch facilities.

"Sometimes it's kind of hard to quantify what we do, because we go out there and day-to-day we never expect something to be going on," Bergman said. "But it's hard to say how many (incidents) may have been prevented just by helicopters and security forces being out patrolling the missile field."

In order to complete these sorts of missions, which are normally low-level flying, the entire crew needs to be working in conjunction with one another.

"We have a pretty good view up front, but I can't tell what is directly below the helicopter," Johnston said. "So crew resource management comes into play with basically every flight we do, especially where we are yanking and banking pretty close to the ground."

Utilizing each other's strengths, the crew was able to effectively survey and clear launch facilities as they made their way east, toward the Lewistown Municipal Airport in Lewistown, Montana, for a quick break for lunch and fuel. Trading in their UH-1N Huey for a loaner car provided by the airport, a less-than-mint 1986 Oldsmobile nicknamed the "Brougham," the crew climbed in and headed for town for some much needed nourishment.

Arriving at a small burger restaurant, they grabbed some food, unwound and talked about their personal lives, work struggles and joked with each other like it was any other day. This level of camaraderie is something Staff Sgt. Ryan Oliver believes is essential in the flying world.

"There's so much work to do, and there are so few people, but we all are happy," said the special missions aviator. "It's not a big deal to work a 12-hour day, because you just get to hang out with these guys all the time; you work with them and they're right there with you, always with a smile on their face. It's a good working environment."

"Obviously we haven't been hard enough on you!" Bergman chimed in jokingly.

Finishing their meal, the crew climbed back into the Brougham and headed back to the airfield. Just barely making it over the hill leading to the Huey, the car sputtered and muscled its way there and was traded back in for their chopper.

With a fresh tank of fuel, it was time to complete the last leg of the mission before heading back to base. Continuing through the mountainous terrain on an unusually clear and calm day, the helicopter made its way from LF to LF, occasionally buzzing over missile alert facilities when they were close by.

After securing the last LF on the roster for that day, Johnston and Bergman took a scenic route back to base, taking in the beauty of the wilderness in the missile field. Arriving back at base with almost a half an hour of fuel left, the crew decided it was a perfect opportunity to practice their approaches and hovers, as well as takeoff procedures.

"I wanted to get a lot of approach work done," Johnston said. "I haven't really been able to do as much (of that) with the kinds of missions I've been flying lately.

"It was one thing I felt like I was getting kind of weak on, so I was making sure I was focusing on that today, and I came out of the flight like, 'Yep I got that done, I feel like I'm better than I was when I got in the aircraft this morning,'" he continued.

Once they felt they had gotten in enough training, the crew put the chopper down on the landing pad and headed back inside the squadron building to return their gear and debrief. With a successful flight under their belts, they went over what went right, what went wrong, and how to improve for future missions.

Beyond the joy of a job well done, the crew all agreed the best part of the day was simply working with each other and strengthening their interoperability and bonds as brothers in arms.

"My whole purpose of becoming a (special missions aviator) was for this community," Oliver said. "Hanging out with some good guys and spending some time with them is always a good thing."

The pilots both nodded in affirmation, with Bergman adding, "We are incredibly lucky to have a job we love and a job not many people get to do. They give us a helicopter and we have a 14,000 square mile missile field that we get to patrol, so we get to see some pretty awesome things and do some pretty awesome flying. I'm honestly just thankful for that."

With more than 20 LFs secured over the course of the day and the sun beginning to dip below the horizon, the crew headed out for some rest before getting up and doing it all again the next day.

DFC with Valor: A-10C pilot recognized for heroism in combat

by Airman 1st Class Ceaira Tinsley
23d Wing Public Affairs

1/30/2015 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- For one Moody Airman, what seemed to be a standard patrol mission from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan Oct. 28, 2008, concluded with him receiving a Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor here Jan. 29.

Ultimately, the actions of U.S. Air Force Maj. Jeremiah "Bull" Parvin and his wingman, Capt. Aaron Cavasos, saved the lives of six Marines that day.

In recognition of his selfless and heroic actions, Maj. Gen. H.D. Polumbo Jr., Ninth Air Force commander, presented Parvin with the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor.

The DFC is awarded to any officer or enlisted person of the Armed Forces of the United States who distinguished her or himself in actual combat in support of operations by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.

"This was not an easy situation for Major Parvin," Polumbo said during the ceremony. "He made his way there in an expeditious way, and I will tell you after flying a number of different types of airplanes in the mountains of Afghanistan, it is not an easy environment to fly in. Those of you who have flown in Afghanistan know that it's significantly challenging ... especially when the weather is not good. For me, it was the most challenging environment I have flown in during my Air Force career.

"That was the beginning of the bravery, the courage, the flight discipline and the real Airmanship that we're going to recognize today. It's what Airmen do to work their way into the fight in order to put fire down on the ground to support our men and women under fire. This is the bravery that we in the U.S. Air Force identify that it takes to get a Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor."

Polumbo isn't the only one who advocates Parvin as a hero. One Marine in the audience said he knows his team would have died that day if it wasn't for the bravery of Parvin and Cavasos.

"It was the first time in my life that I thought to myself 'this is it we're going to die, we're not going to make it out of this,'" said U.S. Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Richard Wells, who was the Marine Special Operations Team chief. "[If it wasn't for him] I don't think I'd be doing this interview right now. I'm certain that I wouldn't have made it out. There is no way that we would have made it all of the way back to the base."

Although many see Parvin's actions as heroic, he said any of his counterparts would have done the same thing in his situation.

"Any of the guys we train with on a daily basis, given the same set of circumstances and information would do the exact same thing," Parvin said. "That's what we want to train guys to do.  Whether it's here or Davis-Monthan [AFB, Ariz.] we try to train them to a set standard: the same one that we used that day."

Parvin may have thought the mission was just another day's work, but seven years later he still remembers all of the accounts of that day.

Then Captain Parvin and Lieutenant Cavasos, both A-10C pilots, were circling their area of responsibility when the air support operations center relayed a call for help.  "We have troops in contact," chirped over the radio and the pilots raced to the coordinates provided.  The pilots made contact with the joint terminal attack controller on the ground, call sign: HALO 11.

Parvin battled poor weather conditions during his 320-mile flight to their location.
As he thumbed through his maps, Parvin realized neither he nor his wingman had a map of where they were going. Although the odds were stacked against them, they used their experience to find the location. Upon arrival Parvin descended below a thick cloud cover and maneuvered through the mountainous terrain to reach the unit in need.

Once overhead, they determined a Marine Special Operations Team was being relentlessly assaulted and the enemy was closing in fast.  After nearly two hours of close-quarters combat, the team was in dire need of support and there was no way for ground forces to reach them. There were also a number of Marines who sustained gunshot wounds and needed medical care.

"You get there and there's this huge excitement and adrenaline rush that you try to tamper down," Parvin said. "You hear gunshots in the background; you hear screams of urgency in their voices. You could just tell they need help and they need it now."

Parvin turned on the A-10C's overt exterior lights to divert enemy fire toward himself and away from the Marine unit. With the help of the JTAC, he was able to distinguish the friendlies from the enemies and provide close air support.  While maneuvering in the mountainous terrain taking heavy surface-to-air fire, Parvin destroyed multiple enemy positions - some within 40 meters of U.S. forces.  His actions gave the Marines enough time to retreat to safety.

The hour flight back to Bagram was silent as the exhaustion from the day's events set in.

"In 2008, we did the mission and we landed," said Parvin, a native of Rocky Mount, N.C.  "It was counted as an everyday mission and we didn't think anything about it."

Parvin, now a major and the 75th Fighter Squadron director of operations, said it wasn't until six years later that he realized this was no ordinary mission: It was something more. The ramifications of his actions didn't occur to him until talking with the Marines he helped that day.

"It was unbelievable to hear the ground guys' story," Parvin said. "Once I heard their [account of the events] and listened to the trials and tribulations they went through, I was like 'whoa.' I knew what we did was really important."

Now, with three deployments, 280 combat hours and 83 sorties, Parvin has had a lot of diverse experiences throughout his career.

"It feels great [because] we train with all services all the time," Parvin said. "It doesn't matter who's on the ground. We're going to work with them no matter what and no matter when. That's our job as A-10 guys to make sure they remain safe at all the times and to provide accurate firepower for them."

Cavasos, now stationed at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., was also awarded the DFC with Valor in a ceremony at Luke Jan.

Massachusetts Guard Helps Combat Blizzard

By Army Lt. Col. James Sahady
Massachusetts National Guard

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass., Jan. 30, 2015 – Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker activated nearly 500 soldiers and airmen of the Massachusetts National Guard Monday in response to a historic January blizzard that dumped three feet of snow in areas of central Massachusetts.

Soldiers and airmen were called to state active duty to provide support to civil authorities in response to the winter storm conditions in order to save lives, prevent further injury and protect critical infrastructure. The Massachusetts personnel joined National Guard members from several other states in responding to the threat presented by the blizzard.

Winter Storm’s Snow, High Winds

Winter Storm Juno pounded Massachusetts with snow and high winds leading to thousands of power outages, especially on Nantucket. About 24 inches of snow was reported in Boston and 36 inches was reported in Auburn and Luneburg. Wind gusts of more than 70 mph were reported Tuesday night on Cape Cod.

“We have been working in coordination with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency to ensure that we respond to the right situation, with the right people and equipment, at the right time,” said Air Force Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, the adjutant general of the Massachusetts National Guard.

“Our immediate tasks were to develop emergency response plans and evaluate conditions pending specific support tasking from MEMA,” Rice said.

The Guard pre-positioned 40 trucks at 30 different locations to transport first responders, evacuate civilians and conduct wellness-check support to civil authorities in areas affected by the blizzard.

Assisting Local Authorities

The Guard assisted local authorities during the disaster response and rescued and evacuated several people. The main rescue and evacuation missions took place in the towns of Scituate, Hull, Weymouth, Hopkinton and Marshfield. The Guard was staged in several areas throughout the commonwealth, particularly in the coastal communities where high tidal surge was possible.

The Massachusetts National Guard’s Task Force Yankee provided command and control of soldiers, airmen and equipment from the 26th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 102nd Intelligence Wing, 104th Fighter Wing, 51st Troop Command, 151st Regional Support Group and the 65th Public Affairs Operations Center.

The Guard completed 10 major missions in more than 20 communities. Missions included stranded motor vehicle recovery teams, high water rescue and evacuation teams, shelter operations, emergency roadway clearing, logistical and liaison support, communications and command functions.

Founded as the Massachusetts Bay Colonial Militia on Dec. 13, 1636, the Massachusetts National Guard has provided a trained and ready force, serving the community, the commonwealth, and the nation for 379 years.

Navy Information Dominance Forces Command Hosts Ceremony Commemorating Navy's Newest TYCOM

From NAVIDFOR Public Affairs

SUFFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- An official ribbon cutting ceremony marking the establishment of Navy Information Dominance Forces (NAVIDFOR) Command was held Jan. 28 at the DoD complex in Suffolk, Va.

The ceremony commemorated the establishment of the Navy's newest global Type Command (TYCOM) responsible for the man, train, equip and readiness mission for all Navy Information Dominance (ID) capabilities afloat and ashore.

"Much work has been done to prepare for NAVIDFOR's establishment," said Rear Adm. Matthew J. Kohler, commander, Navy Information Dominance Forces Command, as he spoke to an audience of flag officers, senior executives, local community leaders and NAVIDFOR personnel. "I'd personally like to thank all of you who were essential in getting NAVIDFOR on its feet and underway."

NAVIDFOR was established to improve the generation and sustainment of ID force readiness across the Navy under a single TYCOM. Since Oct. 1, 2014, NAVIDFOR has been consolidating and aligning missions, functions, and tasks previously managed by separate ID commands (specifically, Navy Cyber Forces Command, Fleet Cyber Command, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, and the Office of Naval Intelligence).

"NAVIDFOR's mission is unique among the TYCOM's," said Kohler. "While it has traditional man, train and equip readiness responsibilities for afloat and expeditionary units, NAVIDFOR also supports the Information Dominance commands ashore [Fleet Cyber Command, Office of Naval Intelligence and Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command] as well as readiness of the Navy's networks both afloat and ashore."

The Navy doesn't establish a TYCOM very often. The most recent being the U.S. Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) nine years ago.

"Navy Information Dominance Forces joins the ranks of the Navy's other TYCOMs; Naval Surface Forces, Naval Submarine Forces, Naval Air Forces, Naval Special Warfare Command, Military Sealift Command and Naval Expeditionary Combat Command," said Kohler. "Unlike other TYCOM's that are usually formed around "platforms" such as ships, submarines and aircraft, NAVIDFOR is the first TYCOM to be formed around a capability; Information Dominance."

TYCOMs drive the business of the Navy as force-generating organizations, ensuring that deploying Navy units are ready for the full scope of warfighting missions. They ensure units are properly equipped and manned with the appropriately skilled personnel. TYCOMs ensure these forces are trained on the latest tactics, techniques and procedures, and are equipped with the best weapons and tools the Navy can provide.

As warfighting has evolved over the years, so too has the United States Navy, always striving to meet the nation's needs, said guest speaker Adm. Phil Davidson, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. "Today the establishment of NAVIDFOR represents the next evolution in the Navy's effort to keep the fleet ready to fight and win."

Davidson highlighted the impact the new TYCOM will have on the Navy and Information Dominance Corps. "Our fleet and our tactical commanders must have information dominance capabilities to fight and win - especially in a contested battlespace," said Davidson. "That's why NAVIDFOR has been established here in Hampton Roads with the fleet - bonding the ID forces and [other] fleet forces inextricably, closer than ever before."

While just getting started, NAVIDFOR has been given all the tools necessary to succeed. NAVIDFOR is fully operational and already making improvements to advance warfighting capabilities. Since establishment of the command in October, it has begun capturing and standardizing readiness reporting and has improved cybersecurity capabilities through nearly a dozen man train and equip initiatives.

"While much work has been done, much more will be accomplished by NAVIDFOR to improve Navy warfighting readiness and mission success." said Kohler. "We are excited about the opportunities to elevate the Navy's and information dominance capabilities to the next level of warfighting."