Military News

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Team Andersen strengthens ROK bonds with capstone visit

by Staff Sgt. Robert Hicks
36th Wing Public Affairs


2/10/2015 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam  -- More than 100 Republic of Korea senior military leaders received a first-hand look at Andersen Air Force Base and other military installations on Guam during a Korean National Defense University capstone event.

The visit, supported by U.S. Pacific Command, is designed to educate newly selected generals and admirals on key issues and capabilities as well as strengthen the U.S.-ROK alliance.

Split between two days on Jan. 23 and Jan. 30, the visit provided ROK flag officers a chance to view B-52 Stratofortress bombers and ask maintainers and pilots questions in order to gain a better understanding of the role Andersen Airmen play in maintaining stability in the region.

"[It was great to have the opportunity for the ROK military leaders] to see the strategic mission that is enabled by the airpower stationed at Andersen and the Naval base....which directly affects and improves the ROK and U.S. alliance and also our combined defense readiness posture," said ROK Lt. Gen. Seung Ho Wee.

ROK flag officers also met with Team Andersen leadership.

"It's an honor to have our ROK partners here," said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Andrew Toth, 36th Wing commander. "Hosting this capstone tour offers military members from both our nations the opportunity to meet face-to-face, build relationships and learn more about our partners' capabilities."

The ROK leaders later noted the unique capabilities Team Andersen brings to the Pacific theater.

"I think [the tour] will have a great impact on the ROK and U.S. alliance," Wee said. "Our future leaders of Korean military, the 41 flag level officers and the officers selected to be flag level officers are here to directly witness and see for themselves the assets of the Air Force and Navy stationed on Guam."

ROK leaders also visited various sites in Hawaii before they arrived in Guam. While in Hawaii, they visited the Punchbowl National Cemetery, Pacific Warfighter Center, Pacific Aviation Museum and the Navy's USS Missouri, as well as tour Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Hagel Meets With Romanian Prime Minister



DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2015 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta today at the Pentagon to discuss NATO and coalition operations, according to a senior defense official.

Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby summarized the meeting, reporting that Hagel thanked Ponta for the Romanian government's offer to commit more troops to the mission in Afghanistan, as well as Romania's continued strong support in other NATO and coalition activities.

Kirby noted that Hagel and Ponta met briefly last June when the secretary travelled to Constanta, Romania, to thank U.S. and coalition troops at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base.

“In his concluding remarks, Minister Ponta thanked Secretary Hagel for his attention to Black Sea security issues and his stewardship of the Department of Defense during a period of unrest for NATO allies,” Kirby said.

New 3rd AF command chief talks mission, family

by Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane
USAFE-AFAFRICA Public Affairs


2/11/2015 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- The new 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth O. Wright, outlined his priorities and leadership philosophy for the command during an interview here Feb. 5.

With two previous command chief assignments under his belt, Wright said he is excited to get to work with the Airmen and hopes to build on the enormous successes the command has seen under Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, 3rd AF and 17th AF commander.

He explained that the path to future success will come from embracing the general's priorities: motivational mission accomplishment, compassionate care of our Airmen and families, and the constant drive to improve and innovate.

"His priorities are my priorities," Wright said, but added that other main focus areas for him include, information sharing, building relationships with our joint/coalition partners, and developing the next generation of leaders.

His goal is to make sure the Airmen are plugged in so they can remain "Forward, Ready, Now!"

"Last year, nobody saw the events in Ukraine coming," Wright said. "Nobody predicted an Ebola outbreak in Western Africa or the emergence of ISIL. So readiness will be one of our biggest challenges. Making sure we are ready at all times will be key for us here in Europe and Africa."

"I'm confident these challenges will be met head on by the great leaders we have throughout the Third Air Force.  Attitude reflects leadership and leaders set the tone for how their organizations function. I really believe that the amazing work being done by our Airmen to stay ready is empowered by great leadership up and down the chain."

But, beyond the operational challenges they might face, he has his eye on the changes to multiple enlisted programs as well.

"On the enlisted side of the house we will be watching the new enlisted performance report, the static closeout dates and the master sergeant promotion boards," said Wright. "I think if we provide information and clarity we will be able to help Airmen make it through these changes."

He said his desire to take care of people can be traced back to the values his parents instilled in him growing up in Columbus, GA.

"My parents have been instrumental to my success and always great role models throughout my career," Wright said. "Everything I do, I do to make them proud.  I am also thankful for my wife, Tonya and kids, Nicole, Kaleth, and Isaiah. They keep me motivated, encouraged, and inspired to give my very best every day."

Despite growing up in Georgia, Wright made it clear that he is an avid, life-long Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Lakers fan. "When I was nine years old, I didn't watch sports at all, but my older brother was a Cowboys and Lakers fan and since I looked up to my big brother I instantly adopted those two teams."

However, he admitted that his true passion is playing golf.

"Cold, hot, rain, sleet, snow, whatever, it's my favorite sport to play." Wright said with a smile.

Between football, family and the fairway, Chief Wright's ultimate goal is to support the Airmen in Europe and Africa as their command chief.

"When I walk out the door after being the command chief here, I would like to say that we left a legacy of improvement," Wright said. "I want to say we ensured the command was ready to meet the operational challenges facing both EUCOM and AFRICOM, we took care of our Airmen and their families, and we improved the 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force through innovation. I hope that people were motivated and excited to be a part of this mission."

"I am very excited to be here, and looking forward to getting out to meet the Airmen and see all of the wonderful things they are doing," Wright concluded.

Most DoD Personnel to Return From West Africa



DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2015 – Most Defense Department personnel who deployed to West Africa to support the U.S. Agency for International Development and international partners in fighting Ebola at its source already have returned to their home stations, and nearly all will return home over the next two months, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said last night.

In a statement, Kirby said DoD will identify 100 personnel who will maintain a continued presence in the region, working to strengthen the disease preparedness and surveillance capacity of the national governments.

“DoD personnel will build on a strong military partnership with the armed forces of Liberia to enhance their Ebola response efforts and provide disaster response training to the government of Liberia,” the admiral said.

Life-saving Resources

Starting in September, the Defense Department has delivered critical life-saving resources, built Ebola treatment units, trained hundreds of local and international health care workers and provided logistical support to humanitarian and public health workers who provided care throughout West Africa.

At the height of the epidemic, 2,800 DoD personnel were deployed to West Africa. About 1,500 of those personnel have returned home, Kirby said, and nearly all of the rest will be home by April 30. All have or will undergo established controlled monitoring procedures, he noted.

To support the 10,000 civilian responders who remain on the ground in West Africa, he added, the Defense Department will leave behind assets that can help health workers stem potential future outbreaks.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is grateful to the men and women of the U.S. military and their families who supported Operation United Assistance, Kirby said. “Their swift response demonstrates the need to maintain readiness, capacity and capabilities to respond to the diverse array of challenges facing the United States and our partners,” he added.

Cleaning hazardous waste under Arctic conditions

by Capt. Anastasia Wasem
11th Air Force Public Affairs


2/10/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst, members of the 611th Civil Engineer Squadron, along with five other state and federal agencies, practiced techniques to deal with an oil or hazardous waste spill under cold weather conditions during an exercise here Feb. 3 through 5.

As the lone CES in the state of Alaska that responds to oil spills, a characteristic that is also very unique Air Force-wide, the 611th CES acts as first responder to incidents on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and King Salmon Divert Airfield, Alaska, as well as secondary responder to 21 remote operating locations in Alaska and around the Pacific.

"With this exercise, we show it is possible to find and recover oil during Arctic conditions," said Scott Partlow, U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving assistant base manager. "I think it's a good thing everyone gets out here and gets their hands dirty to figure out how the equipment works and why we do it."

U.S. Navy SUPSALV was just one of the agencies working with the 611th CES to increase interoperability and complete this exercise. In addition, the Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, Cook Inlet Spill Prevention & Response Inc. and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation had representatives to help plan, execute and receive training as part of this cold weather operations exercise.

"It's a unique opportunity just to have all these different agencies working together with the same focus in mind -- to respond to a crisis and to be able to deploy the different techniques and be responsible for the cleanup," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Petree Buford, 611th CES operations engineering superintendent.

The response teams learned and practiced several different types of techniques to use in the event of an oil spill.

The Trenching and Rope Mop Method includes creating a trench through the ice, without penetrating it, and then drilling holes down to the water through the trench, Partlow said. The oil or hazardous waste floats up through those holes, becomes trapped in the trench and is picked up by a rope skimmer, a device that resembles a long, frayed rope specially designed to absorb oil and fuel. The rope skimmer picks up the trapped oil, a machine at the end of the trench separates the oil and water, and the oil is then sent to a holding tank.

Another technique practiced during the exercise was the Diversionary Tactic. This method starts by drilling holes in the ice to help determine the location of the spill and then simply inserting plywood to divert the spill to the location needed in order to clear it from the water.

"If the flow of the water is coming one way, we want to try to divert or control the flow," explained Buford. "We'll make a slice in the ice and then insert the plywood to act as a barrier or blockade to shoot the oil and water where we want it to go."

While the techniques practiced and employed by the 611th CES are effective, these are only temporary measures to prevent spreading or to cleanup a small spill until larger assets can be deployed from other agencies. The methods practiced during the exercise are meant to control 60 to 70 thousand gallons of hazardous waste in a lake or river. According to Buford, the 611th CES can respond to an incident on JBER in about 12 hours and about 24 to 48 hours for an incident at King Salmon.

"This is important to the state of Alaska, because here oil would travel to the ocean and have a much larger effected area if the spill wasn't contained," Buford said. "It could have a major impact on the residents of Alaska."

Massachusetts National Guard Responds to Snow Emergency



From a Commonwealth of Massachusetts News Release

BOSTON, Feb. 11, 2015 – With recent snowfalls measured in feet and more snow on the way, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has declared a state of emergency and deployed about 500 Massachusetts National Guard members to assist with snow removal and cleanup efforts.

The National Guard has mobilized its heavy equipment for snow removal, and through the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, the commonwealth has authorized the purchase of two additional snow-melting machines and more heavy equipment from surrounding states to clear roadways and sidewalks.

The snow melters can process about 120 tons of snow, about 25 truckloads, per hour. MEMA will coordinate deploying these resources to the communities with the greatest public safety need, officials said.

“After three major storms in two weeks and multiple discussions with MEMA, State Police and the National Guard, we have deployed 500 National Guardsmen to dig out fire hydrants and other critical assets,” Baker said.