Thursday, February 05, 2015

Retired brigadier general nears second retirement after 46 years

by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Barnett
JBER Public Affairs

2/5/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- In 1969, Richard Nixon became president of the United States. Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon.
And the U.S. continued a draft lottery during the Vietnam War when men of draft age had to register with the Selective Service System in case they were needed.

David Glines, today a retired Army National Guard brigadier general about to retire from another civilian career, chose to follow in his father's military footsteps and enlisted in the Army.

It was a slightly different path than his father, Air Force Col. Carroll Glines, had taken who had recently retired as Alaskan Command's Chief of Public Affairs.

"At the time, and after attending two years of college, I was not enrolled in (school) and I just decided to enlist rather than get drafted," said David Glines, today an administrative analyst for the 673d Comptroller Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. "I wanted to see where it would take me."

He chose a career as a helicopter mechanic and graduated from Army Initial Entry Training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker, Alabama.

After completing the enlisted schools, another opportunity arose for him.

"At the time, they needed infantry officers, so I applied and went there," he said.

In February of 1970, David graduated from Infantry Officers Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

"I'd gotten myself engaged to be married," he said. "I just looked at life and it was an opportunity. They were in need of platoon leaders for Vietnam. I wanted to do something more than I was doing at the time."

After commissioning and graduating from the Basic Airborne Course, Glines was able to choose his first assignment. He chose to return to Alaska.

"They were just things I felt I wanted to do," he said. "They were conscious decisions. I loved Alaska and wanted to stay in Alaska. It just made sense. I came back here with the intent to get out eventually."

Glines spent the next few years his assignments were as a cavalry platoon leader and assistant personnel offficer at Fort Richardson, and as a custodian of non-appropriated funds.

He also was stationed at Camp Casey, Korea, as an armor platoon leader for the 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

"I was very young in my career then," he said. "It was a good learning process and an excellent foundation to build any career path. Leading, being responsible and accountable are life-long lessons.

"Much of what I've learned today started in those four-plus years of active duty. In a lot of ways, I wish I could relive it - but life goes on."
After returning home to Alaska in 1973, he separated from active duty.

"I was able to get a career with the General Electric Company," he said. "And I also joined the Army National Guard as well.

"The National Guard is a diverse organization with a state, as well as a federal mission. It's a complex service, funded through different sources with a variety of missions.

"It was professional but a little more laid-back," he said. "The Vietnam War was winding down and many former active duty Soldiers joined the Guard. I met a wide variety of people."

Over the next 25 years, Glines continued to conduct both careers.

From 1974 to 1984, he served in various officer positions before taking command of the 5th Battalion, 297th Infantry.

His next command position came in 1993 with the 2nd Battalion (Scout), 297th Infantry, that included serving in Bethel, Alaska and later as the commander of the 207th Infantry Group (Scout).

"There were a lot of hard days, but no bad days," he said. "I enjoyed working with the troops. I had positions of leadership I hope benefited them as it did me.

"It was a great assignment with great people. I enjoyed being out there with them.  It was an outstanding assignment and experience teaching the Soldiers, and in turn they taught me their lifestyle and the local culture. They even made me an honorary Eskimo scout."

In 2001, Glines retired from the military as an ARNG brigadier general.

In 2002, he took a job with Federal Express in Anchorage, where he would work in customer service and hazardous goods management for the next five years.

Finally, in 2007, the retired general started working for the Department of the Army again - in resource management at Fort Richardson.

Several years ago, he attended a U.S. Army Alaska ceremony when he ran into an old friend - Marc Coulombe, today  his civilian supervisor, who had once served under Glines in the ARNG.

Coulombe offered Glines the resource management position, he said "He's been a tremendous asset, as you can imagine," said Coulombe, 673d CPTS support agreement manager.

In 2010, under the Joint Basing Initiative, Glines made the move to the Department of the Air Force.

"I came here because the opportunity happened to present itself," he said. "It was an opportunity to serve again. I love being around Soldiers and Airmen. It's an opportunity to work directly with and serve the command again."

Glines said there are some advantages to not holding a leadership position.

"In fact, it's quite a liberating experience. I don't have to carry a Blackberry; I'm not on a tether in that regard."
Now he has his eye on another retirement.

"I'm happy; there comes a point in time when it's time to go," he said. "I just need to go off and do what retirees should be doing.

"My wife of 45 years and I want to do a little more traveling; I'm just about ready. We'll see."

Comaraderie, faith and football

by Air Force Staff Sgt. William Banton
JBER Public Affairs

2/5/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Twenty seconds...

Twenty seconds of exhilaration. There is a clear shift in atmosphere around the Airmen and Soldiers.Twenty seconds of anticipation.

A chaplain in the group leans forward, anticipating the hike of the football. With twenty seconds left on the clock, the New England Patriots hold a 28-24 lead over the Seattle Seahawks and the Seahawks have the ball.

The conclusion of Super Bowl XLIX was at hand. The ball was on the one-yard-line and Seattle's star running back, Marshawn Lynch, was in the game.

A group of service members and chaplains were listening to sports announcers come to the logical conclusion, after a year of watching these teams play - Lynch will run it in.

Based on the passion on the faces of the Soldiers and Airmen watching the game at the Wired Café on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, they definitely knew it. And then, for Seahawks fans at least, all hell broke loose.

In a matter of seconds, a run became a pass, a pass became an interception, the Wired Café filled with groans from Seahawk fans and cheers from Patriot fans and all hope of the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl went up in smoke.

However, for the people in the room, could the experience have meant more than just watching the game?

The event held at the Wired Café, located near the Air Force dorms, was sponsored by the JBER chapel and provided a safe, alcohol-free alternative, and encouraged young Airmen to get out of their dorm rooms, said Spc. Francisco Arias III, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division intelligence analyst.

"I think the biggest thing is that it lets them know we are here," said Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) James Hendrick, a JBER chaplain. "It lets them know that the chapel staff is here.

"Our primary intent is to build relational trust with them so if they have issues in their life and they want to talk about if they can be like 'I know that dude'."

"It's a more relaxed environment, so it's not as much pressure for someone who may be interested in going to church or going into the chapel," said Airman 1st Class Ashley Sass, 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron airborne surveillance technician.

"You get a chance to talk to the people who go, and see if you're interested."

Airman 1st Class Ryan Harper, 673rd Communication Squadron cyber system operations specialist, said the spiritual context of the event was a draw for him.

"My spiritual health is much better after attending events like this and I also just like to be around like-minded people," Harper said. "These events give us a chance to get out of the dorms, to actually do something with people."

Across the installation, the 907 Sports Bar & Grill held an alternative for service members looking for choices to celebrating the game.

"I knew the Super Bowl was on and I knew I was on duty, so I thought I would take a little break and come over and watch a little bit of the game," said Army Capt. Jason Underwood, a support transportation officer with the 532nd Engineer Battalion (Provisional), 2nd Engineer Brigade.

"I think it is great for the Soldiers to have a place to get away on post so they don't have to risk getting a DUI or anything like that."

Underwood said he sees these events as good opportunities for generations to bond and come together over common experiences, like football.
"The biggest reason to have a place like this on base is the camaraderie," said Dan Gallagher, interim club manager.

"We do have the Better Opportunities for Single Service Members program so there is always a safe ride home [with Joint Base Against Drunk Driving]."

Guardian Angel recounts battle which earned him Silver Star

by Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson
JBER Public Affairs

2/5/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The air erupted with the percussive sound of machine-gun fire. Master Sgt. Roger Sparks jumped out of an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter and began the 40-foot hoist down to the bleeding men clinging to a tree for cover.

It was Nov. 14, 2010 - a particularly intense day during Operation Bulldog Bite, in the Waterpur Valley of Afghanistan. Sparks and others were tasked with providing life-saving support to Soldiers already on the ground, often flying out two or three times per day to evacuate those injured in the fierce fighting.

Sparks wrapped his arms and legs around his partner, Air Force Capt. Koaalii "Koa" Bailey, a combat rescue officer also with the 212th, in an attempt to shield him from the firestorm of bullets around them.

"Five seconds into the hoist, I knew we were not going to live through this," said Sparks, a former Force Reconnaissance Marine and now a pararescueman assigned to the Alaska Air National Guard's 212th Rescue Squadron.

As soon as his feet hit the ground, they left it again as a rocket-propelled grenade detonated 20 feet away - knocking him down and Bailey on top of him.
"I've seen RPGs detonate at three times that distance and kill people with shrapnel," Sparks said, clearly still shocked by his luck. "For that thing to go off that close and us to still be alive..."

"I thought: we only had seconds to live; what do I do next?'" Sparks said. "And it went on like that for two and a half hours."

Before Bailey and Sparks could untangle themselves, the Pave Hawk opened up, spewing lead into the oncoming insurgents.

"There were .50-caliber casings raining from the sky, hitting me in the face." Sparks said.

"It was so comforting to know people were dying - people who were trying to kill us."

Because of the high altitude at which they were operating, the air was thin; to carry the weight of the men, the crew had removed the ballistic flooring from the helicopters.

While they were hovering above the wounded Soldiers and PJs, the aircraft was taking heavy enemy fire. Bullets ripped through the Pave Hawk's floorboards and shattered the windshield.

The crew kept the hover, though. They knew just as well as the PJs that there were Soldiers dying down there and if they didn't do anything, those men weren't going to make it.

"Get out of here!" Bailey radioed the helicopter crew, knowing they couldn't maintain their hover for long. After verifying Bailey and Sparks were still alive, the helicopter assumed an orbit around the battlefield providing cover fire for those on the ground.

"They held that orbit until they ran out of fuel and ammo and had to leave us," Sparks said. "They knew they were leaving us to die."

"God bless you guys ... sorry," came the garbled goodbye from the pilot as he rolled the helicopter off the side of the mountain to return to the forward operating base to refuel and rearm.

"We were stranded," Sparks said, but there was no time to reflect on that.

Sparks and his teammate sprinted and crawled their way across a 100-foot gap of honeycombed earth between them and the men they were trying to save.

"I got 10 feet from the guys by the tree and I heard a fwwwwp!, saw a red flash and an RPG detonated on a tree that was just a few feet in front of me," Sparks said. "It was absolutely overwhelming, and I'd been in firefights before."

They held their position by the ruined tree and found themselves in the middle of crossfire with bullets coming from multiple directions chewing down what little cover they had.

That's when Bailey called in the air strikes.

"We didn't believe we were going to live through any of it," Sparks said. "But in that situation, you call in whatever you have available."

Apaches came in alternating runs, firing four Hellfire missiles on nearby insurgents in a tag-team of lethal force.

"When the Apaches ran out of ammo, an F-18 came in with a 2,000-pound bomb," Sparks said.

"Give us your last four, last name and authorize it right now," sounded the pilot's voice over the radio.

Bailey gave the authorization, and the pilot dropped the bomb.

It was "danger close" - the situation dictated that the bomb be dropped on an enemy position dangerously close to the friendly forces.

"We had no reason to believe we would live through any of those air strikes, let alone the 2,000-pounder," Sparks said. But they did, and were rewarded with a brief, but valuable, break from the constant crossfire that surrounded them.

"If you're wounded, come to me!" the pararescueman shouted over the surrounding chaos.

Men began crawling from all directions, dragging friends - and limbs - alike.

"You don't want to have to run back and forth to the wounded," Sparks said. "You need them all in relatively the same place so you can treat them quickly."

The first Soldier he approached wasn't wearing his body armor - it had been blown off.

His legs were turned around backward, and he was hyperventilating.

"That's what people look like when they're dying. It's not a beautiful thing," Sparks said, quietly.

But with injured men all around, there was no time to grieve; he could still help.

One man was lying on his back quietly pleading, "Go help my friends! Help my friends!"

Another lay on his stomach repeating the Lord's prayer.

Sparks ran over to the man who was on his back pleading for his friends, and heard his words turn to gibberish.

"So I reached down and put my hands underneath him to pick him up," Sparks said.

But realized the man had been shot before Sparks even arrived and instead of screaming for help himself, used his last breaths to plead on behalf of his fellow Soldiers.

Sparks ran back to a Soldier he had just been talking to, and asked for help moving the body. The man was face-down in the dirt and wasn't responding.

In a rage, Sparks grabbed him, kneed him in the side, and yelled for him to help.

When the man still didn't respond, Sparks rolled him over to find he had been killed by debris from an RPG which had struck while Sparks was trying to help the man on his back.

"That's how surreal it was," Sparks said. "An RPG hit that close to me and I didn't even realize it."

Sparks looked up and saw a man hanging upside down in a tree above him.

"I grabbed him by the arms and pulled him down on top of me so I could treat his wounds." Sparks said.

The man in the tree was Karl Beilby, a law enforcement professional who was embedded into the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) as a civilian contractor.

Karl said he remembers asking Sparks for morphine, and was given a stick to be held in his mouth.

"What's next, you going to take me out for ice cream?" Beilby asked, amused by receiving a narcotic lollipop, despite the gravity of their situation.
Beilby was the most seriously injured individual to survive the fight.

The helicopters finally returned, having been delayed by fuel complications and the battle damage received earlier.

They loaded the most critically injured first, as many had only hours to live or less without prompt medical attention.

"Then we were left with the dead," Sparks said quietly.

After the helicopters made the five-minute flight to the FOB, unloaded the injured and came back, they began hoisting the dead onto the aircraft two at a time.

When it was all said and done, there were five PJs (including Sparks), four dead bodies, and an Afghan Army member who was missing his lower leg.

They were all crammed into a space the size of a minivan, Sparks said.

"Not only did these guys die in my arms, but now I'm sitting on their bodies," Sparks said. "They were all alive when I showed up."

Back at the FOB, they unloaded the bodies from the aircraft.

Sparks and several others in that engagement were awarded Silver Star medals for valor for saving lives with disregard for their own personal safety that fateful day.

Beilby flew up from California to attend and speak at the ceremony.

During the operation, 11 Americans died and 49 were seriously wounded.

Reflecting on the situation, Sparks said it was important to keep focused during the dangerous chaos.

"You're going to have self-preserving thoughts, but you can't let them take over what you're trying to do," Sparks explained. "You're trying to salvage human lives."

"When you go beyond yourself, that's when magical things can happen."

In Raptor we trust – all others we intercept

by Air Force 2nd Lt. Michael Trent Harrington
JBER Public Affairs

2/5/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The phrase "Top Cover for America" was born of black-and-white newsreel footage of leather-jacketed men clambering into fighter jets to stop the Soviet menace. That vision, of pilots in goggles and ear muffs, sprinting across runways and up ladders, is dated.

What the modern imagination should conjure up is an image of two men in rubber suits sitting in a stuffy old hangar at midnight, sipping stale coffee and staring at the falling snow as "House Hunters" reruns flicker in the background.

Yet as Tech. Sgt. Alan King, non-commissioned officer-in-charge of the support section of the combat alert cell, would note, the few dozen Airmen in the alert footprint are probably the reason half of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson exists.

"In the end, really," King said, jutting his thumb toward the alert hangar and the sprawling airfield beyond, "it all comes down to these few guys."

"These guys" are a skeleton crew of 3rd Wing men and women who support the Alaskan NORAD Region combat alert mission.

They're two pilots and 20 or so maintainers, mostly, but also every 24/7 weather, intelligence, airfield operations and snow-clearing unit on base.

The mission is two-fold. Scrambling fighter jets is usually a response to ANR duties, said Air Force Maj. Peter "Toxic" Tymitz, 3rd Operations Squadron distributed mission operations flight commander.

The other alert duty is Operation Noble Eagle - the Department of Defense-wide enterprise behind the Air Force's homeland security role, according to the Air Force Historical Studies Office.

Noble Eagle is the least-known but longest-surviving triplet of the post-9/11 mission world; its sisters were Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The alert cell's motto reads "In Raptor we trust - all others we intercept," a reference to the base's famous F-22 stealth fighter residents, though many of the complex's windows and doors still hail the now-faraway glory of the wing's former F-15 Eagles.

Heritage Park, near the JBER-Elmendorf flight line, is a monument to the litany of other birds to bear the Alaskan NORAD mission through the years: P-80 Shooting Stars, F-89 Scorpions, F-102 Delta Daggers, F-4 Phantom IIs and the F-15s. The 3rd Wing has been in the alert business since it started.

Even the alert cell hangar is a particularly long and blue part of the Air Force line.

"The building was built in 1954," King said. "If it's torn down, it's a historical site - I doubt they could ever build something else."

The stress and expense of the alert cell, and the reasons for bearing them both, are best understood walking through the combat alert hangars.

Plaques listing planes intercepted by JBER's fighter and E-3 Sentry aircraft are layered head-to-toe along the buildings' hallways. Most expressive of all, though, is a map: a wall-sized map of North America is covered with hundreds of multi-colored star stickers.

"The real reason we're still here," Tymitz said, "is to react very quickly and respond to the threat of the unknown." Each star represents an unknown aircraft intercepted and identified.

Most are encounters with Soviet or Russian planes. More than a few are meetings with wayward Cessnas and passenger airliners with communications issues. The Federal Aviation Administration actually publishes helpful diagrams on how to respond to a fighter intercept, so that, for the most part, there are few surprises. That's the idea.

"We're not launching to shoot at something," Tymitz said. "When they send us out, we're the human eyes to say exactly what is out here."
"Here" usually means somewhere within the North American Air Defense Identification Zone, a vast swath of airspace jointly administered by U.S. and Canadian civil and military authorities.

The boundary line is almost entirely over water, so a big worry is whether to freeze to death over water or over land, said Air Force Capt. Wyatt "Smax" Cheek, 525th Fighter Squadron B Flight commander.

"Sometimes it looks like the Michelin man stepping out to the jet," Tymitz added.

The subconscious awareness of all the time-draining things standing between a pilot jetting to meet whatever's out there - the seconds spent becoming the Michelin Airman, putting on additional layers, waterproof gear and G-suits - is part of the reason few fliers sleep well at the alert cell, Tymitz said.

The novelty of even unscheduled alert scrambles wears off, the maintenance crews and pilots admitted, but not the edge.

"Every time you come out here and read your intel report for the day - it's a part of something bigger than your standard training," Tymitz said.

"For the first few minutes, you're the national response."

"When it's a real world mission," King added, "and you don't know what's going to happen when the plane leaves - your heart races."

It's a sense of pride knowing that he and his team are, at the end of it, about as close to all of the of "tip of the spear" cheerleading talk as anyone can get, King said.

They have to be ready to answer the call no matter the time or the conditions. Those are bold words in Alaska.

"The snow [removal] guys were out here during a snow storm Christmas morning," Cheek recalled.

"They were out front of the alert hangars plowing runways for three hours straight," he added, in case the call came in to go, and go now.

In Anchorage's fickle climate, it's not uncommon for 3rd Wing jets to take off on an alert mission and know they'll have to come back somewhere else for bad weather.

Refueling tanker aircraft from hundreds of miles away at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska and E-3s from a few hundred yards away are crucial parts of the alert puzzle, too.

Both join the F-22s soon after they launch for training runs, practice alerts and real-world calls with sirens blaring.

They're used to seeing each another in the cold, friendly skies of the Arctic Circle.

All others they intercept.

USAF, ROKAF strengthen bonds at Buddy Wing 15-2

by Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/5/2015 - DAEGU AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Airmen from the 8th Fighter Wing sharpened combat skills and gained insight from their Republic of Korea Air Force counterparts during Exercise Buddy Wing 15-2 at Daegu AB, ROK, Feb. 3 to 6.

During this iteration of Buddy Wing, Wolf Pack Airmen deployed to Daegu to train alongside Airmen from the 11th Fighter Wing, learning how to operate as one force with dissimilar fighter aircraft as they integrated mission planning, briefing, flying and debriefing together.

"As the project officer for ROKAF during this exercise, I've been working with Captain Duncan [8th FW Buddy Wing project officer and F-16 pilot] intensively for the past two weeks," said ROKAF Capt. Won Ho Lim, 102nd Fighter Squadron F-15K Slam Eagle pilot. "This has been a really great experience for me. This exercise is not like Max Thunder or RED FLAG -- it's much smaller, so we've been able to have much more face-to-face interactions, which has allowed us to focus more on the relationships between USAF and ROKAF."

Throughout the four-day exercise, pilots exchanged tactics and procedures with their ROKAF counterparts.

"This exercise was unique, because we came to a ROKAF base and operated at their facilities," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Dean Laansma, 80th Fighter Squadron assistance director of operations and Buddy Wing detachment commander. "It was advantageous to see how they ran their operations as we assimilated ourselves to them and increased our ability to understand and work with each other."

Buddy Wing exercises ensure that USAF and ROKAF Airmen continuously enhance combat capabilities, so that if the need arises, they are ready to fight tonight as a combined force.

MacDill's JCSE returns from fight against Ebola

by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

2/4/2015 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
"We've got extraordinary Americans with experience, talent, dedication, who are willing to put themselves on the front lines to get things done," stated President Barrack Obama in a recent address on the American Ebola efforts.

Of these extraordinary Americans, was a small group from MacDill's Joint Communications Support Element, whose recent mission was to establish secure communications in support of Operation United Assistance--the fight against Ebola in Africa.

Although this may seem like an obscure tasking to some, not for the JCSE, whose unique mission is to provide immediate deployment support to regional combatant commands within 72 hours, facilitating a full spectrum of global operations. In short, when world events dictate American aid and expertise, more than likely these tactical technicians are among the first boots on the ground.

Midst the recently deployed crew were 37 personnel who have been lending support in West African countries, Liberia and Senegal--which are part of the U.S. Africa Command's area of responsibility. Now, after nearly a month of hard work, the specialists have recently begun returning home to the Tampa Bay area.

"The 2nd Joint Communications Squadron had an amazing opportunity to support USAFRICOM by providing the initial communications architecture in Liberia and Senegal for Operation United Assistance," said Army Lt. Col. Marne Sutten, commander of the 2nd JC Squadron. "This was a unique opportunity to support a humanitarian mission that is making a huge impact in Liberia."

While Department of Defense personnel are not involved in direct patient care, their efforts are instrumental in the outbreak support. The JCSE troops in particular enabled medical professionals and support agencies the ability to fully function and correspond with sub-located research and treatment facilities.

"Seeing the World Health Organization report that Ebola infection rates were plummeting, was satisfying because it meant that my job was making a difference in people's lives," said Staff Sgt. Chase Renfroe, JCSE operations planner. "It makes me happy that I am a part of a unit that can make this sort of impact."

As a precautionary measure and to stay in compliance with State and Federal mandates, those returning were actively monitored. According to Sutton, all personnel went into controlled monitoring at one of five locations: Baumholder, Germany, Vicenza, Italy, Fort Bliss, Texas, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia or Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

"Rest assured, these members were never in contact with anyone infected by the Ebola virus," noted Lt. Col. Robert Lehman, 6th Medical Group Chief of Aerospace Medicine. "However, to reassure the community and our service members and their families, we remained fully compliant with DOD and State of Florida directives. This included each member being assessed twice daily until 21 days had lapsed since they had left the humanitarian support mission in Western Africa."

Although all members from the JCSE have returned, this is arguably not the last time you will see members from MacDill aiding Operation United Assistance. According to Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby, as many as 4,000 or more American troops could soon deploy to West Africa to help fight the Ebola outbreak there.

Fairchild Airman helps execute final Operation Enduring Freedom tanker mission

by Airman 1st Class Taylor Bourgeous
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

2/4/2015 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash.  -- It's not often an Airman can say they took part in the final mission of a major U.S. operation, but Senior Airman Alexander Orr can.

The 93rd Air Refueling Squadron boom operator was part of the final tanker mission of Operation Enduring Freedom.

According to Orr, his job on the last mission for Operation Enduring Freedom was, "refueling the F-16s to help support (the troops) on the ground, that way they can get air support. Without us, the fighters can't stay in the air."

As a boom operator, Orr not only refuels other aircraft in mid-air, but also supports the pilots, helps load and unload cargo and even assists passengers.

"We support pilots, and know as many systems as they do," Orr said. "We're double checking the dials to help back them up in every possible way."

Orr took part in many combat sorties, and supported combat missions during his deployment.

"We were helping support Afghanistan and seeing what we accomplished put things into perspective," he said. "We knew we were helping support families and troops."

Capt. Remington Barnes, a 92nd Air Refueling Squadron training flight commander, who deployed with Orr, said Orr is an excellent boom operator.

"No matter what circumstances came our way he was always ready to handle them expertly," Barnes said. "He was the glue that kept our crew operating at a high level."

The last Afghanistan sortie they participated in felt like an ordinary day, Orr said. Operation Enduring Freedom started in October 2001 and lasted a little over 13 years ending in December 2014.

Orr said it felt like closure for all the men and women who passed away, and for all of the fighting that happened.

USAF, JGSDF helicopter crews create cohesiveness for future missions

by Senior Airman Michael Washburn
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

2/5/2015 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Service members from the 459th Airlift Squadron invited Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members from Camp Higashi-Tachikawa to ride along in two UH-1 Huey helicopters Jan. 29 near Tokyo, Japan.

The ride along gave JGSDF members a better understanding of the Air Force's aerial formations, maneuvers and terminology to create cohesiveness between how the two countries operate.

"The objective for this is to help introduce [the JGSDF] to our procedures and how we fly our helicopters and help us understand how they fly theirs," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Thomas Powell, 459th AS chief of current operations. "This would help if we ever wanted to do a joint mission between our helicopter units."

For the most part, JGSDF and U.S. helicopter crews operate the aircraft the same way; the differences lie in the technical terms and jargon.

"The big thing is to get the terminology correct between the two of us," Powell said. "So if we say something to them, they know exactly what we're talking about."

While in the air with the U.S. members, the JGSDF pilots observed several different formations such as staggered, combat cruise and combat spread, along with maneuvers like hook turns, check turns, digs and pinches.

"For us, it was extremely helpful to have a clear understanding of the tactics and equipment you [U.S. forces] use and how they differ from ours," said JGSDF Capt. Fujimoto, helicopter pilot.

Powell said that overall this type of training is crucial because it helps instill confidence in JGSDF members.

"If they ever needed our help, we are available and willing to help them," he said. "At the same time, we're capable to fly with them in the same environment without causing a hazard or other problems."

PACAF logistics officers collaborate to enhance skills

by Tech. Sgt. Terri Paden
15th Wing Public Affairs office

2/4/2015 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- The 735th Air Mobility Squadron hosted a tour of their squadron for the Kanaloa Chapter of the Logistics Officer Association here Jan. 29.

The behind-the-scenes tour brought together logistics and maintenance officers from the 15th Wing, Pacific Air Forces and the 154th Wing for an inside look at the squadron's day-to-day operations.

"This was a great opportunity to expose maintenance and logistics readiness officers to the different tribes across the logistics enterprise," said Capt. Blake Johnson, Aerial Port operations officer. "This LOA-sponsored tour bridged some of our interconnected processes and allowed our maintenance brothers and sisters to get a first-person perspective on Aerial Port operations."

During the tour, members of LOA were educated on the inner workings of an Air Mobility Squadron including passenger services, air freight, Air Terminal Operations Center and Air Mobility Command Control Center.

Maj. Jerrymar Copeland, 15th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander and president of the LOA Kanaloa Chapter, said the purpose of the event was to build relationships, increase cross-organizational job awareness and reduce mission delays through education.

According to Copeland, the tour was especially important considering the unique relationship the officers share. Though most LOA members work at different duty centers, all of the officers belong to the logistics career field which includes not only supply, transportation and readiness officers, but maintenance officers as well.

"We all want to know the impact we have on one another and how we can work together to accomplish the mission," said Capt. Kelly Womble, 15th Maintenance Flight commander and Vice President of the LOA Kanaloa Chapter. "Events like these help us see the big picture and things that go on that we don't normally see. It's good to know the 'why' behind the 'what' when it comes to how things are done."

First Lt. Clint Johnson, KC-135 Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge, said he'd never been to the Aerial Port or seen a palette buildup prior to the LOA tour.

"Being able to get out here and get hands-on experience and eyes on the process is definitely beneficial and a better way to learn about the operation," he said.

Copeland said most of the officers who attended the tour work in positions that directly contribute to or impact the 735th AMS mission, so it's important for them to understand their part in the process.

"I know for maintenance officers, it's very easy to get focused on the task at hand and get tunnel vision, but it's so important to take time to understand the other moving parts," he said.

Though the tour was the first event of its kind for the officers, Copeland said he looks forward to setting up more opportunities to professionally develop the members in the future.

"The LOA is a professional organization for logistics and maintenance officers, and this gives us a chance to network within our career field," Copeland said.

In addition to networking, Copeland said LOA events also aid young officers in becoming better leaders.

"The more we know about each other and how things operate, the better we're able to lead our Airmen and help them understand what is needed to accomplish the mission," he said.

Copeland said ultimately the tour and the LOA is about coming together to support other logistics and maintenance officers and work together as a team.

Hagel Meets With Italian Defense Minister in Brussels

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2015 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with Italian Minister of Defense Roberta Pinotti today on the sidelines of the NATO Defense Ministerial conference in Brussels, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby reported.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, Kirby said Hagel thanked Pinotti for her leadership and for the contributions Italy continues to make to the alliance and in Afghanistan, as well as to coalition operations in Iraq.

Hagel also praised the minister's efforts “to help our two militaries maintain a strong defense relationship, as well as Italy's efforts to work closely with other NATO allies across many missions and operations,” Kirby said.

The two leaders also discussed a host of regional security issues, the admiral said, including Russia's continued aggression inside Ukraine, the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the Middle East and recent instability in North Africa and the Levant.

“Minister Pinotti thanked Secretary Hagel for his leadership as he prepares to leave office, and both leaders reaffirmed the importance of renewed focus by the NATO alliance to address both continental and global security challenges,” Kirby said.

Hagel, Georgian Counterpart Confer at NATO Meeting

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2015 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with Georgian Defense Minister Mindia Janelidze today on the sidelines of the NATO defense ministers’ conference in Brussels, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby reported.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, Kirby said Hagel thanked Janelidze for his leadership and for the contributions Georgia continues to make in Afghanistan and other peacekeeping missions, as well as to coalition efforts in Iraq against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Improving Georgia’s Interoperability, Readiness

“The secretary stressed the United States' commitment to helping improve Georgia's interoperability and readiness,” the admiral said, “a process that will be greatly enhanced by continued institutional reform in the Georgian government.”

The two leaders also discussed the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, Kirby said, noting that they reviewed efforts by allies and partners in the region to reinforce international commitments and to continue to apply diplomatic and economic pressure on Moscow.

“Secretary Hagel reaffirmed the importance of the U.S. partnership with Georgia,” the press secretary added, “and pledged to continue our strong defense cooperation.”