Military News

Monday, February 23, 2015

U.S. Air Force marks first RQ-4 non-military base landing at Australia Air Show

by Maj. Ben Sakrisson
15th Wing Public Affairs


2/23/2015 - MELBOURNE, Australia  -- A remotely piloted U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft landed under its own power Feb. 22, at Avalon Airport, Australia, marking the first time the high-altitude asset flew into a non-military air base for viewing by the general public.
       
The aircraft's arrival at the 2015 Australian International Airshow and Aerospace & Defence Exposition enables civil authorities to personally see the high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of a platform that is critical to the success of the U.S. military's rebalance to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

"This is significant on a number of fronts," said Air Marshal Geoff Brown, Royal Australian Air Force Chief of Air Force. "It is the first time a military Unmanned Aerial System has been in civil airspace with a civil air traffic control service in Australia, and the first time a military UAS has landed at a civil airport. Additionally, we have a keen interest in seeing the RQ-4 up close given our recent acquisition of the MQ-4C Triton, which provides the needed capability to monitor and protect Australia's vast ocean approaches."

The safe arrival of the RQ-4 demonstrates that procedures developed in concert with the RAAF and civil air traffic control and aviation safety organizations can allow RPAs to operate safely in civil airspace, in a similar manner to manned aircraft.  This arrival can also help pave the way for safe operation of Australia's newly acquired MQ-4 Triton.

"The close coordination required to bring the Global Hawk to Australia will pay great dividends in the future," said Col. Art Primas, the U.S. 'air boss' at Avalon. "Creating standardized procedures will enable us to work together much more effectively and efficiently during whatever missions future requirements dictate."

The integrated sensor suite aboard the Global Hawk provides theater commanders day and night all-weather ISR capabilities with greater than 24-hour loiter time, which contributes to stability and security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Approximately 100 Airmen are participating in AIA15 to showcase the capabilities of U.S. air assets.

New ISR Wing joins Air Force with unique mission

Headquarters Air Combat Command

2/23/2015 - JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. -- The Air Force's newest wing, and one with a unique mission, was activated here Jan. 18, in a ceremony officiated by Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, headquartered here.

The stand-up of the 363rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing continues the Air Force ISR transformation process begun last fall with the re-designation of the Air Force ISR Agency as the 25th Air Force, an operational Numbered Air Force within ACC. The 363rd will be the first and only wing of its type within the Air Force, providing integrated cross-domain targeting and analysis, and producing tailored, integrated analytical and targeting products for the operational and tactical-level warfighters. The new wing is aligned as a subordinate unit to 25th AF.

"The creation of this wing is a resounding statement that we are serious about revitalizing, reconstituting and revolutionizing two core Air Force competencies:  targeting and all-source analysis," said Maj. Gen. John N.T. Shanahan, 25th AF commander and host of the ceremony. "We'll provide this new wing with the resources and the advocacy needed to focus on content-dominant, multi-intelligence analysis and targeting. And we'll foster partnerships and expand intelligence sharing across other 25th Air Force wings and centers, as well as 24th Air Force, 14th Air Force, [National Air and Space Intelligence Center] and our Intelligence Community partners."

The wing will be the only Air Force entity solely focused on content-dominant multi-intelligence analysis and targeting for five distinct mission sets: Air Defenses, Counter-Space, Counter-ISR, Theater Ballistic Missile/Cruise Missile Threat, and Air Threat.

The new wing was created by combining existing organizations, including the Air Force Targeting Center at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., the 361st ISR Group at Hurlburt Field, Fla., the 526th and 547th Intelligence Squadrons from the Air Force Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and reassigning or activating appropriate intelligence squadrons.

Col. Michael Stevenson took the reins of the new wing during the ceremony and said bringing these organizations together as one offers incredible opportunities for the Air Force.

"Through this wing we will harness the power of both the Air Force and the national intelligence enterprises for our Air Force operational and tactical commanders," Col. Stevenson said as he became the wing's first commander.  "Our ultimate customers -- the men and women who plan and fly operational missions -- will see dramatic boosts in our target systems analyses, and greatly enhanced understanding of the threat. No matter what's being flown -- from the AC-130 to B-2 to C-17 to F-22 -- or where they're flying, we'll be judged by the quality our target materials and the threat assessment we provide. This is a no-fail business."

The 363rd headquarters will remain at JBLE in the space occupied by the former AF Targeting Center.

Virginia National Guard Responds to New Snowstorm



By Cotton Puryear
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

SANDSTON, Va., Feb. 23, 2015 – The Virginia National Guard deployed nearly 20 soldiers for duty in Wise and Highland counties yesterday to assist local emergency response officials after another round of heavy snow and frigid cold hit the commonwealth, officials said.

Ten Guard members from the Cedar Bluff, Virginia-based 1033rd Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion were on duty supporting the Wise County sheriff’s office. Soldiers transported one person in need of medical attention who could not be reached by emergency services personnel and also delivered water to two different locations. Two Guard members were assigned to duty in the county’s emergency operations center.

Heavy Snow

Seven Virginia Army National Guard members from the Staunton, Virginia-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team were on standby in the town of Monterey in Highland County. Local emergency services officials estimate more than 20 inches of snow fell in the region over the last 48 hours. The Guard members will provide transport for emergency services personnel by Humvee or light medium tactical vehicle if they are called out to a rural area where roads have not been cleared.

Virginia National Guard aviators were also on standby for possible aerial reconnaissance missions.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Feb. 16 and authorized up to 300 Virginia National Guard personnel who could be brought on state active duty for possible response operations, and more than 125 personnel were staged and ready at locations across the commonwealth by that evening. The soldiers, airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force were ready to support the Virginia State Police, the Virginia Department of Transportation and other state and local emergency response organizations.

Tangier Island Aerial Supply Mission

McAuliffe also authorized rotary-wing aviators from the Sandston, Virginia-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment to deliver food, mail and medical supplies Feb. 16 to residents of Tangier Island. The 1.2-square-mile island, located in the Chesapeake Bay, had been unable to receive routine seaport deliveries due to icy conditions.

About 400 National Guard personnel were still on winter-related duty in Massachusetts, Tennessee and Kentucky, according to a summary from the National Guard Bureau.

Carter Thanks Kuwait's Leaders for Strategic Partnership



DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2015 – In Kuwait, Defense Secretary Ash Carter expressed U.S. appreciation for the strategic partnership between the United States and Kuwait during his meetings with His Highness Amir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Sheikh Khalid al-Jarrah al-Sabah, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement issued today.

Appreciation for Strategic Partnership

Carter also expressed his thanks for Kuwait's willingness to host U.S. and coalition forces in support of military operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Kirby said in the statement.

The leaders also discussed their shared commitment to continue the two nations' close security cooperation during Carter’s leadership of the defense department, Kirby said.

Afghanistan, Middle East Visit

The meetings come at the end of the defense secretary’s first week in office, the admiral said, during which he made it a priority to travel to Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Airman embodies 'RUfit?' lifestyle, dominates IRONMAN

by Senior Airman Michael Battles
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


2/20/2015 - INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey  -- For service members, physical fitness is a key component to maintaining combat readiness. But for one Incirlik Airman, staying physically fit is about more than just readiness. It's a lifestyle, and every workout is an opportunity to test his physical endurance at a maximum level.

Col. Andrew Meadows, 39th Medical Group commander, competed alongside 2,000 international competitors during the 2014 IRONMAN competition in Busselton, Australia in early December.

An IRONMAN competition is a triathlon that consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 26.2-mile run and 112-mile bike ride, which equals an overall 140.6-mile challenge. Meadows completed the IRONMAN race in 11 hours and 58 minutes.

"There really is no better test of your fitness than an IRONMAN," Meadows said.

According to Meadows the reason for competing in Australia was the result of a deployment.

"Essentially, when I finished my last deployment and came here I was pretty fit as many people are when they finish a deployment," Meadows said. "I just didn't really want that fitness to go to waste, so I kept the training up."

In preparation for his IRONMAN debut, Meadows trained 18 to 20 hours a week.

"On the weekends I would do 6-hour bike rides and 2 to 3-hour runs," he said. "The majority of the base population has probably seen me doing laps on the bike or running around the flight line."

Meadows also explained that he has done triathlons and other competitions in the past, but this was the most in-depth.

"This was by far the most challenging, organized and formalized event that I've ever competed in," the triathlete said.

When asked what he learned from his first IRONMAN competition, Meadows said, "It taught me there are many ways to be fit. That a person shouldn't limit themselves to one thing, but branch out."

Meadows also offered advice for individuals that might be interested in competing or getting involved in their first IRONMAN race.

"Speak to someone who is knowledgeable first," Meadows said. "I think it's very easy to over train when it's your first time, so get the guidance early. There are some great resources online, but there is also several people right here on base that can help."

With one IRONMAN complete, Meadows now sets his sights on future bragging rights by researching upcoming competitions.

Congressional staffer returns to squadron he once commanded

by Tech. Sgt. Travis Edwards
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


2/20/2015 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- A professional staff member from the House Armed Services Committee sat with Ramstein commanders Feb. 20, 2015, during a European tour to learn and discuss future European consolidation, which included a stop at the 435th Air Ground Operation Wing's Construction and Training Squadron -- a squadron he once commanded.

Michael Miller, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, led the squadron of approximately 275 Airmen, civilians and German local nationals from 2010 through 2012.

"It's really nice to be back here at my old stomping grounds at the 435th CTS. I'm excited to hear the command has looked at the CTS to, hopefully, fulfill some of the [European Reassurance Initiative]-related requirements," said Miller. It's great to see [U.S. Air Forces in Europe] use and maintain this great capability."

Miller's visit included many stops across Germany and a multitude of other American bases in Europe, including the new transit center in Romania. However, his focus for the visit was to gain military perspective on European infrastructure consolidation, the ERI and how it might affect the European theater of operations.

"What we're really here to find out is what, if any, capabilities are lost with the decisions surrounding the infrastructure consolidation and reassurance initiative in Europe," said Miller. "We're also checking in on the larger [military construction] investments that are going on here or are being considered in the area," like the new multi-million dollar joint intelligence center in the U.K.

Miller said part of his reason for visiting so many sites is so he can understand the "why" in reference to where certain sites are housed, to include the status of those projects.

"We want to be sure we understand USAFE's plan and what they are going to be looking and asking for in the future, and what investments and renovations are necessary to make ERI happen in the next five years," he added.

Miller said he and his team would take the knowledge and information gained from the various stops in Europe to help articulate the strategic picture to Congress so they can make a more informed decision concerning the EIC and supporting the ERI.

"We want to ensure we have the right force structure and are postured correctly in Europe to effectively meet the national security interests of our nation," Miller said. "It comes down to being able to defend our nation and protect its allies."

Miller has been a member of the House Armed Services Committee since September 2014 where he works on the readiness subcommittee as a military construction expert. The committee is responsible for the single largest account within the Department of Defense's budget. It oversees military readiness, training, logistics and maintenance issues and programs, military construction, installations and family housing issues, in addition to the base realignment and closure process.

57th RQS activation provides stronger, more efficient force

by Airman 1st Class Dawn M. Weber
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


2/19/2015 - ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- They are trained to risk it all to save a life, going anywhere necessary to rescue a wounded service member. Whether it be in a turbulent environment or hostile territory, pararescuemen are willing to serve "that others may live."

The 48th Fighter Wing activated a new squadron, the 57th Rescue Squadron, with a ceremony here, Feb. 18. The 57th RQS is comprised of about 30 pararescuemen and equipment personnel already stationed at RAF Lakenheath. The 56th RQS continues to operate and maintain the HH-60G Pave Hawks.

According to Maj. Patrick Gruber, 57th RQS commander, in the early 2000s, Air Force rescue squadrons began to separate their weapons systems and activate Guardian Angel squadrons, populated by combat rescue officers, pararescuemen and survival, evasion, resistance, and escape specialists. Due to their extensive training, these battlefield Airmen are considered weapons systems, along with the aircraft they use for transport.

"As long as we are flying combat missions over hostile territory, there is a need for people like we have here today," said Col. Scottie Zamzow, 48th Operations Group commander.

The first Guardian Angel squadron was established at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, in 2001. The most recent rescue squadron stood up in 2004 as the 48th rescue squadron at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.

"Today, the fifth and final active duty Air Force Guardian Angel rescue squadron has broken apart from its helicopter rescue squadron," Gruber said.

This activation aligns the U.S. Air Forces in Europe personnel recovery mission to the standard U.S. Air Force structure and will improve training opportunities and support new operational requirements in the U.S. European Command and U.S. African Command areas of responsibility.

According to Gruber, as the security environment around the world changes, so must U.S. forces. The U.S. makes changes to personnel and operations based on this environment in order to better support U.S. and Allied interests with a stronger and more efficient force.

"To be commander of the 57th RQS is an amazing feeling," Gruber said.  "I'm so proud to be your commander, to answer the challenge with you to provide personnel recovery wherever and whenever we are called."

Airman's finance efforts honored

by Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez
Northwest Guardian


2/22/2015 - JOINT BASE LEWS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- One McChord Field senior NCO recently received the highest Air Force-level finance award that a superintendent can receive, but she said she didn't do it alone.

"I work with great people," said Senior Master Sgt. Melisa Bumgardner, 62nd Comptroller Squadron superintendent. "You don't come by an award like this by yourself. This wasn't just me. It's a direct reflection of my entire team."

Bumgardner was recognized Feb. 5, by Col. David Kumashiro, 62nd Airlift Wing commander, for winning the Air Force's "Chief Master Sergeant Larry P. Gonzales Superintendent of the Year" award.

"I'm very honored to have won this award," Bumgardner said. "This was completely unexpected. It's a blessing, a surprise and an honor."

Bumgardner won the award after leading the squadron through sequestration and furloughs, and improving and making financial processes more efficient -- saving numerous manning hours. Under her leadership, more than 20 Airmen were recognized for outstanding performance, winning both McChord Field "Airman of the Quarter" and Air Mobility Command "Airman of the Quarter" awards.

"Being able to help my Airmen progress in their careers tells me I'm doing my job," Bumgardner said. "Leading people in the right direction is paramount to me. It's not about me; it's about them."

Her inspirational leadership also helped three Airmen receive early promotions to the rank of senior airman.

"She cares about the mission, our Airmen and doing what's right," said Maj. Jennifer Smith, 62nd CPTS commander. "I can't imagine another person more deserving of this award. She embodies what an Air Force finance superintendent should be."

According to Bumgardner, she was just doing her job.

"I don't know how I won," Bumgardner said. "I come in every day and do my job just like everyone else. I don't see myself different than anyone else."

Bumgardner is humble enough to say she doesn't deserve this award, but she does, Smith said.

"She is the heart behind the mission and what we do," Smith said. "Without her, we wouldn't be as successful as we are today. She is the glue that holds this squadron together."

Bumgardner said her main objective is to take care of her Airmen.

"These Airmen are the future of our Air Force and part of my family," she said. "One, if not several of them, will be sitting where I am today. I hope to pass on what I've learned in my career to them so they can build upon it and pass it on to future Airmen."

Smith said she never doubts that the Airmen of the squadron are equipped and fulfilling their duties while underneath Bumgardner's supervision.

"She shows our younger Airmen what they are supposed to be doing, how to treat our customers and mentors them on a personal level," Smith said. "She understands that she is mentoring our next generation of Airmen. You can walk around the squadron and see morale here is high as result of her. Her infectious laugh and smile is echoed in our Airmen."

Bumgardner has been at here since 2012. She leaves for a new assignment as a comptroller squadron superintendent in Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in May, where she says she hopes to continue to make a difference.

"I look forward to get into a new command and learn about their mission," Bumgardner said. "If I can help one more Airmen and make an impact in their career or life, I will have accomplished what I set out to do."

USS Paul Hamilton Enters US 7th Fleet AOR



By Ensign Ashleigh Share, USS Paul Hamilton Public Affairs

WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) arrived in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), Feb. 19.

The destroyer is scheduled to conduct presence operations and good will port visits to enhance maritime partnerships and promote security and stability in the region.

"Paul Hamilton will strengthen and sustain invaluable global partnerships while operating in the Pacific region," said Cmdr. John Barsano, commanding officer, Paul Hamilton. "We are proud to serve our Navy and our nation during these challenging times."

The U.S. 7th Fleet AOR covers more than 48 million square miles and spans from west of the international dateline to the western coast of India. Vice Adm. Robert Thomas Jr., commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, is responsible for more than 45,000 Sailors, 100 ships and submarines, and more than 200 aircraft in the largest naval AOR.

Paul Hamilton departed from its homeport in Pearl Harbor, Feb. 14, for a training exercise and its deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet and U.S. Central Command AOR. Paul Hamilton's last deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet AOR was in 2013.