Military News

Monday, March 02, 2015

Rogers Discusses Cyber Operations, ISIL, Deterrence



By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 2, 2015 – Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers, commander of U.S. Cyber Command, took questions here recently on many topics -- cyber defense and offense, finding the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on the dark Web and cyber deterrence -- during a New America Foundation cybersecurity conference.

Rogers, who’s also director of the National Security Agency, spoke with CNN national security correspondent Jim Sciutto and took questions from the audience and from Twitter and other social media outlets.

Rogers often says, as he did at this conference, that he believes in appearing publicly and putting no restrictions on questions asked of him.

“You can ask me anything,” he said, “because we have got to be willing as a nation to have a dialogue” on cyber issues.

Cyberspace as a Domain of War

On a question about whether the United States is positioned effectively to address cyberspace as a domain of warfare, Rogers said the nation is in a better position in many ways than most of its counterparts around the world.

“We've put a lot of thought into this as a department,” he added. “U.S. Cyber Command, for example, will celebrate our fifth anniversary this year. This is a topic the department has been thinking about for some time.”

But the admiral said he doesn’t think Cybercom is where it should be yet in preparation for fully engaging in cyberspace.

“Part of that is just my culture,” he explained. “My culture as a military guy always is about striving for the best, striving to achieve objectives. You push yourself.”

Defending the Networks

From a defensive standpoint it’s difficult to defend a network infrastructure that has been built over decades, Rogers said, noting that most of it was created at a time when there was no critical cyberthreat.

“We're trying to defend infrastructure in which redundancy, resiliency and defensibility were never design characteristics,” he said. “It was all about ‘build me a network that connects me in the most efficient and effective way with a host of people and lets me do my job.’” Rogers noted that concerns about an adversary’s ability to penetrate the network and manipulate or steal data was not a primary factor at the time.

The department is working to change its network structure to incorporate core security characteristics, the admiral said.

On the offensive side, Cybercom is “working its way,” Rogers said, and doing this within a broader structure that dovetails with the law of armed conflict.

Cyber as an Offensive Tool

“Remember,” he said, “when you look at the application of cyber as an offensive tool, it must fit within a broader legal framework -- the law of armed conflict, international law, the norms we have come to take for granted in some ways in the application of kinetic force.”

Cybercom must do the same thing in the offensive world, the admiral said, “and we're clearly not there yet.”

Like many nations around the world, the United States has capabilities in cyber.

“The key for us is to ensure that such capabilities are employed in a very lawful, very formulated, very regimented manner,” Rogers said.

Legal Framework for Cyberspace

In January 2014, in Presidential Policy Directive 28, Rogers said President Barack Obama laid out the framework he wanted used in the conduct of signals intelligence.

Today, the admiral said, “all that remains applicable.”

Another question from the audience referenced ISIL’s use of the dark Web to raise money through Bitcoin, a form of digital currency.

The questioner described the dark Web as “a bunch of anonymous computers -- a bunch of anonymous users -- that are still able to find each other” using a browser that protects users’ anonymity, no matter what a user is doing there.

Nature of the Business

On collecting intelligence from the dark Web, Rogers said, “We spend a lot of time looking for people who don't want to be found.”

In some ways, he added, that is the nature of the business, particularly involving terrorists or individuals engaged in espionage against the United States or against its allies and friends.

Such activities, the admiral said, are a national concern.

“ISIL's ability to generate resources, to generate funding, is something that we're paying attention to,” Rogers said.

Focusing on ISIL

“It's something of concern to us,” he noted, “because it talks about ISIL’s ability to sustain themselves over time [and] about their ability to empower the activity we're watching on the ground in Iraq, in Syria, in Libya [and] in other places.”

Such activities also are of concern to a host of nations, the admiral said, adding, “I won't get into the specifics of exactly what we're doing, other than to say this is an area that we are focusing attention on.”

When asked about deterring America’s adversaries from carrying out cyberattacks, Rogers said the concept of deterrence in the cyber domain is relatively immature.

“This is still the early stages of cyber in many ways,” he said, “so we're going to have to work our way through this” by developing and accepting norms of behavior in cyberspace that will underlie and support the notion of deterrence.

Mock trials teach SAPR through demonstration

by Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


2/27/2015 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- "At midnight you decided to go to another bar is that correct?" asked Capt. Erin Kenny, 8th Fighter Wing Area Defense Counsel attorney.

Tech. Sgt. Katherine Simpkins, 8th FW command section superintendent, nods as she clasps her hands, looking down. Question after question, she attempts to recall the reported events that transpired over the course of the night. The defense attorney, trial counsel and the alleged perpetrator look intently upon the victim as they shift uncomfortably in their seats.

This is the scene witnessed monthly by Airmen from the First Term Airmen Center, whose training incorporates the realistic portrayal of a sexual assault trial. In an attempt to highlight the emotional, legal and wide-reaching ramifications of sexual assault on individuals, work sections and units involved, the 8th FW Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office teams up with the base legal office to conduct the mock trials for every first-term Airman entering Kunsan.

Throughout the course of the trial, it is revealed that both the alleged victim and perpetrator met through mutual friends. As the night progresses, Airmen discover two primary factors involved in the sexual assault case are high alcohol consumption and the female was left without a Wingman, thus leading to the alleged perpetrator offering to take her home. The events that transpired, including the male entering the female's room, led her to make a sexual assault report.

"The first time I saw a mock trial I was shocked, because I've never heard a sexual assault case scenario play out step by step," said Airman 1st Class Shain Ruhl, 8th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance journeyman. "But since I've become a victim advocate, I really think it's important for first-term Airmen to have a chance to see these. It opens people's eyes to this topic, because it forces you to see that it is a very real problem that must be addressed."

Mock trials are just one of Kunsan's SAPR programs, which take a unique approach to prevention by emphasizing the aftermath of a sexual assault that goes to trial.

"Here, we have a unique opportunity to demonstrate to Kunsan Airmen a different perspective -- what happens after a report of a sexual assault is made," said Capt. Claudia Santos, 8th FW sexual assault response coordinator. "By working together with our base legal team and the office of the Area Defense Counsel, we re-create a realistic scenario in which the victim, the alleged perpetrator and witnesses all take part in the court proceedings."

The demonstration provides not only insight into what occurs during a sexual assault trial, but also a chance to review and analyze the facts as they would be presented in court.

Although the mock trial may be an uncomfortable experience to witness, it provides Airmen a chance to see how events from one night out can lead to a sexual assault. In an environment of zero tolerance for sexual assault, it is every Airman's responsibility to combat and prevent sexual assault.

"Through these mock trials, Airmen see how serious and terrifying the court-martial process can be instead of just telling them about it," Kenny said. "Conducting mock trials show Airmen how quickly a night of fun can escalate to a sexual assault allegation."

According to the Kunsan SAPR office, 71 percent of sexual assaults in U.S. Forces Korea involve alcohol consumption.

"The statistics are staggering," Santos said. "What people may not realize is that only about 20 percent of all assaults are committed by offenders that are strangers to the victim.

Unfortunately, a majority of cases we see involve situations with family, intimate partners, friends, co-workers or acquaintances."

Although the purpose of the trial wasn't to reach a final verdict, Airmen took away valuable insight into how the Wingman concept, responsible alcohol consumption and bystander intervention can each play a role in preventing sexual assault. Although alcohol intoxication is not the cause of sexual assault, mock trials provide insight to Airmen by showing the correlation between sexual assault and reduced inhibitions.

"Mock trials demonstrate how perfectly innocent nights can go extremely wrong," said Capt. Brian Adams, 8th Fighter Wing deputy judge advocate. "I hope that discussing the topic of sexual assault through mock trials can be a reminder to Airmen to always be mindful of how their actions affect others and the importance of always having a plan."

Avalon aircrew educates local students on B-52 Bomber

by Maj. Ben Sakrisson,
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs


3/2/2015 - MELBOURNE, Australia  -- Crew members from a U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber, in town for the 2015 Australian International Airshow and Aerospace & Defence Exposition at Avalon Airport, visited with students at Lara Primary School Feb. 25 and answered questions about flying and life in the U.S. Air Force.

It was the first time in a number of years that aircrew members were able to visit the local school during the airshow, according to teachers at the school.

"The students were really wrapped to meet a U.S. air crew as they are viewed as celebrities who fly such awesome aircraft," said Barb Whelan, a school teacher. "We were really impressed with the crew's friendliness and how well they interacted with students and staff at Lara Primary."

Approximately 250 students ages 8-12 asked dozens of surprisingly detailed questions of the crew about their experiences and specifics about the bomber.

"They have been to so many places around the world I have forgotten them," said Kiara, a student from the audience.

"I also [learned] they wear three different uniforms to be worn for different things," said Sienna, another student.

"It was an amazing experience and I [learned] a lot about the B-52 bomber; I hope that they might come again," said Josh, a primary student.

The visit was also a great experience for the B-52 crew.

"The kids were really intelligent and asked great questions," said Maj. Kevin Carrigan, a B-52 weapons systems officer from the 96th Bomb Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. "They were very impressive for how young they were."

Visits such as this are an important outreach venue for airshow participants, as it enables them to educate students in much greater detail than would be possible at the airshow itself on specifically what their aircraft is used for.

Approximately 100 Airmen are showcasing the capabilities of U.S. air assets, including the B-52 Stratofortress, F-22 Raptor, F-16 Fighting Falcon, RQ-4 Global Hawk, KC-135 Stratotanker and P-8A Poseidon at the AIA15 public airshow.

MacDill hosts first ever joint port security exercise

by Senior Airman Ned T. Johnston
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


3/2/2015 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 6th Air Mobility Wing hosted two Coast Guard exercises for the Port Security Unit 309 from Feb. 18 through March 1, 2015, at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

The PSU 309, out of Port Clinton, Ohio, is an elite Coast Guard Reserve task force with the unique mission of maintaining readiness to deploy within 96 hours of activation to active-duty status. They provide sustained force protection and port security anywhere in the world.

"The Great Lakes freeze over during the winter months making training difficult," said Coast Guard Lt. Faith Schultz, PSU 309 force protection officer. "By coming to MacDill, we not only maintain proficiency and keep certifications current, but it gives us the opportunity to conduct joint, inter-service training with the Air Force."

The first exercise was a global mobility exercise that tested the 309th's ability to rapidly deploy their people, ships and equipment. The 309th "deployed" their unit to MacDill providing experience for their engineering and mobility crews, and Air Force loadmasters to load and transport equipment.

Furthering their mobility training, the 309th completed additional evolutions involving the loading of 32-foot transportable port security boats into a C-17 Globemaster III in a joint effort with the 6th AMW.

"We were even able to complete the extremely difficult task of loading two TPSBs in a side-by-side configuration, certifying the C-17 for this type of transportation," said Schultz, "potentially reducing the number of aircraft needed to move the unit during a deployment."

The completion of the mobility exercise was just the beginning for PSU 309 and the 6th AMW.

For the remainder of the training, Coast Guard boat crews trained in and around the waters of MacDill with assistance from the 6th Security Forces Squadron marine patrol. The dual ops training consisted of weapon proficiency training, day and night operations, high-speed tactical boat maneuvering and other qualification training.

"Despite some weather related challenges, training was completed on basic and tactical crew operations," said Schultz. "By the end of the exercise, both the Air Force and Coast Guard were fully mission capable."

618 AOC commander honors Pope Airmen and families

by Marvin Krause
43rd Airlift Group public affairs


2/27/2015 - POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, N.C. -- The Commander of the 618th Air Operations Center, (Tanker Airlift Control Center), Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, praised service members, and their families at Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, February 21 for their professionalism, commitment and support.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Timothy Zadalis, former commander of Pope Air Force Base and the 43rd Airlift Wing from July 2006 to May 2008, spoke during the 440th Airlift Wing and 43rd Airlift Group's annual awards banquet, where he lauded Pope's Airmen for their service, their families for their unwavering commitment and local community leaders for their vital support.

"Everyone with a medallion around your neck needs to know that what you have done has been noticed. What you have done has made a huge, huge, difference--not only for Pope, but for our Air Force, for the Army here at Fort Bragg and for our nation," he said.

Also, Zadalis said, I also want to say thank you to the spouses and family members because there is a strength that is required to support somebody throughout their career and I'll tell you that tonight is just as much your night as it is their night.

There will be some winners tonight and there will be some who don't come up to the front, but they are still winners, the general said, "everyone one of you are because of the difference you make every single day so, I thank you for that and I salute you."

Zadalis shared his thoughts on leadership concerning people and the mission and which of these should come first. He shared with the audience that he has always been a people first person from listening to his father, a 33-year retired chief master sergeant, who would say, nine times out of ten, I'm not taking care of my people. It bothered Zadalis when he joined the service that there was even a question of which came first--people or the mission. For years and years, he couldn't make the argument one way or the other because he believed in both.

"If any leader is going to put people first, you have to give them knowledge of the mission. For each and every one of us that starts at basic military training or your commissioning source through technical training, all of that military education, all of that experience that you have, gains you that knowledge of the mission. It's really incumbent upon those of us in leadership positions to make sure that next generation of leaders has the opportunity to learn because without knowledge of what they're supposed to do, it's just a job and we won't develop professionals in the profession of arms," he said. 

The second thing we owe our people are the tools to do the mission, the general continued, "that could be as simple as a wrench to turn on an engine and it could be something as elaborate as a fifth-generation fighter. We owe them the tools because we're going to ask them to use those tools to accomplish the mission and it's incumbent upon us as leaders to make sure they have the very best. We have to advocate for our people--we have to tell everybody when things are not where they need to be for us to execute the mission," he said.

"The third thing that we have to do is we have to give our people time to train with those tools. If we give them the knowledge and the tools, we have to respect their time and arguably, time is the most precious commodity of an airman. We have to give them the time to work with those tools to put that knowledge because eventually, we're going to ask them to deploy. We're going to ask them to take those skills and to go into harm's way potentially and execute them. We have to give you the time to train," he said.

"Now eventually when we ask airmen to deploy, we need to do something for their families back at home. We have to take care of them. We have to make sure that every family member that remains behind has the support installation they need. The spouses, the children, the family members that they leave behind. They should not want for the littlest thing for the support that they need while they are deployed. We as airmen, soldiers, marines, sailors, we have to take care of our families. As we deploy forward, have that faith, not only that our loved ones are taken care of at home but we have to know if we make the ultimate sacrifice, our families will be taken care of when we don't come home," he said.

"For the longest time in my career, those were the things that I had and why I argued people were placed ahead of mission but there was something missing with that and one day I was listening to a four-star commander that I happen to serve under talk about holding people accountable in the context of the military justice system. It dawned on me--there's two sides to accountability. Sure, we do not want to have those among us don't deserve to wear the union amongst us, we need to find those folks and send them away. We need to give them what they deserve because they bring us all down and they don't deserve to wear the uniform. There are hundreds of thousands of young men and women who would give any opportunity to have the chance of what many of us have. So there is that side of accountability," he said.

"The other side of accountability I see here tonight as I look across the room--it's that positive side of accountability. It's taking that time with your airmen to give them the credit for the things that they do. It's taking that time and writing that performance report or that promotion recommendation or that annual awards package that sets them apart from everybody else. It's taking that airman who has the idea and innovation, putting them in front of that general officer that comes and walks through and giving them the credit for what they have done," he said.

"There are supervisors here in this room who have taken the time to hold you accountable for the things that you have done. My thanks to the supervisors for holding their people accountable in that way," he said.

After his speech, Zadalis recognized the 440th Airlift Wing and 43rd Airlift Group's annual award recipients by presenting them with their awards along with their commanders and senior enlisted leaders.

Blown away

by Airman 1st Class Ryan Conroy
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


2/25/2015 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Growing up in one of the most dangerous cities in America, Senior Airman Jonathan Thompson wasn't expected to live until 18 ... then a hurricane changed his life forever.

Thompson was raised, surrounded by tumultuous violence, in the St. Thomas projects of New Orleans.

"It was a place where arguments would escalate in the blink of an eye," stated Thompson, 31st Aerospace Medical Squadron bioenvironmental engineer technician. "You weren't allowed to show weakness and if it even appeared like someone was disrespecting you, you were expected to act hostile in response. Perception was everything and if you were viewed as weak it could cost you your life."

This life was normal for Thompson, his mother and his older brother. His childhood was met with unprovoked anger that only escalated further during the transition from middle to high school.

Thompson had no other option than to embrace his reality and conform to his volatile surroundings. He was a product of his neighborhood - angry and unbridled.

"When I was in that environment, I was a completely different person," said Thompson. "If someone showed any kind of disrespect toward me, it was a test and I had to act against it."

Celebrating someone's 18th birthday is a common coming-of-age event in most communities, but in the St. Thomas projects, it was an uncertainty. To give a sense of what survival meant to the community, in 7th grade, one of Thompson's teachers asked a classroom of students to look at the person to either side of them. The teacher shared that, according to statistics, the person to the left and right of them would be dead or in jail before they graduated high school.

To stay alive, St. Thomas residents depended heavily on their friendships for protection. According to Thompson, due to their unfortunate circumstances, the bonds he formed with his childhood friends made them family.

"Whenever you go through a life or death situation with someone, you grow so close to those people. By blood I have one brother, but all of my friends are like brothers to me," said Thompson.

Sadly, the city turned his extended family into a statistic.

"One of my friends lent his car to an acquaintance of ours who used it in a robbery," began Thompson. "He never told my friend when he returned the car. The person who was robbed recognized the car later on and retaliated. There were four of my friends in the car and everyone was shot to death in the middle of the street."

"I was angry and heart-broken all at once, because my friend died at no fault of his own," added Thompson. "I lost a brother that day because of someone else's crimes. I felt like my environment would take my life as well. I saw no end to the chaos I was living in."

Fast-forward two years, a hurricane was expected to make landfall soon, nothing uncommon for New Orleans residents. According to Thompson, every year a hurricane was forecasted to be the biggest one ever. This was executed to encourage evacuations.

"Evacuations cost money, which is one thing our community didn't have a lot of," said Thompson. "So, since storms had been exaggerated in the past, a majority of New Orleans residents decided to stay home."

Hurricane Katrina was not exaggerated and annihilated everything in its path.

"When Katrina hit ... it was awful. I can't describe the smells or the panic. The entire police force quit and people went crazy. There were murders everywhere, people were getting shot, robbed and beat up and it was just crazy," said Thompson.

Thompson and his family needed to evacuate - soon. Unfortunately, Thompson's mother was a nurse- assistant and was called into the hospital to work. She arranged for her sister to pick up Thompson and his brother on their way out, but his brother couldn't fit and caught a ride with someone else. Thompson made it out safely with his aunt in the packed car. They made it to Mississippi, where he held up with extended family with no way to contact his mother or brother.

"That was one of the hardest things I've lived through," said Thompson. "Communication was nonexistent. I heard the news and I saw what people were acting like in New Orleans and I was scared for my family. I didn't know if they even made it out alive."

For three months, Thompson had no answers to the relentless questions that haunted his thoughts. Then, he received a phone call - his mother and his brother were alive and they were moving to Texas.

"In that moment I felt relief and happiness like never before," said Thompson. "I was so thankful just to hear their voices again."

The Thompson family began to rebuild what the hurricane stole from them and started a new life in Killeen, Texas. The transition from the St. Thomas project housing to Texas was dramatic and Thompson had trouble adapting to the overwhelming change.

"I was so used to the violence where I was from, that I assumed it was normal everywhere else as well," said Thompson. "I learned quickly that everything was different and I needed to adapt to my new surroundings."

The opportunities he once only dreamt of before became real possibilities. His attitude changed, his schoolwork improved significantly and he started capitalizing on this unexpected opportunity for success.

"When I was growing up, I wanted to be doctor but I pushed that to the back of my mind because surviving was first and foremost," said Thompson. "But, when the hurricane relocated my family and me, I had a chance and I was able to enroll in community college."

Thompson beat the odds set forth by his former teacher - he celebrated his 18th birthday alive and free.

"My 18th birthday was the greatest birthday I've ever had," said Thompson. "I was able to change who I was, overcome the statistics and make something of myself. It was an amazing feeling. I look at Katrina as the best thing to happen to me because I don't know where I would be now if it didn't happen."

To go along with his new perspective on life, Thompson decided to strive for more than community college and searched for a progressive new life plan to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a doctor. Joining the Air Force became the answer to his aspirations.

"My goals coming into the Air Force were to finish as much school as I could in six years to prepare myself for medical school," said Thompson.

What Thompson did not expect was how much the people he worked with cared for him.

"I wasn't used to people asking me how I was doing every day and if everything was alright," said Thompson. "It caught me off guard, in a good way, and I owe my supervisors for pushing me to meet the goals I set for myself."

In almost 6 years, Thompson has completed 90 college credit hours and was accepted into the University of Texas for the fall semester. After two years of pre-medical school, he plans to enroll in medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon.

"I know I was given a unique opportunity to change everything about myself," said Thompson. "That's why I work so hard, day in and day out, because I could have died, but now I have so much to live for."

Sometimes, all you need is a friend

by Airman 1st Class Joel Pfiester
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


2/27/2015 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Sometimes, feeling down or being in a bad mood can spiral you into a deep and dark place where you start to feel helpless.

You may start to believe that no one cares about you or understands the situation you are in. Problems might begin to snowball and the next thing you know, you could find yourself convinced life isn't worth living anymore.

This is a cold and sad reality some people find themselves in. However, thanks to the military's strong focus on suicide prevention, there are many avenues available for individuals who might be contemplating taking their own life.

Sometimes, all a person really needs is a friend.

Recently, two Airmen here started to notice something might be going on with one of their good friends.

"We saw the breadcrumbs which led us to the problem," said Senior Airman William Sines, 709th Munitions Squadron weapons maintenance team member.

"It was during the holiday season, so we thought maybe he was lonely or feeling down," added Senior Airman Mark Folse, 709th Munitions Squadron.

The breadcrumbs they spoke of were indicators that maybe something was wrong.

"We heard he was walking around Warrensburg, Mo., handing out large amounts of money," Sines said.

"He tried to play it off as like a good Samaritan thing, like he was paying it forward," said Folse.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, they didn't look too much more into it until another indicator reared its head.

"His mother sent a message to another one of our friends and asked 'Hey, can you guys go check on him?'," said Sines. "It was nothing too big at that moment and we still didn't really suspect it at the time.

At that point we were considering that we should just try to get him out of his place," Sines continued. "It wasn't obvious at that point, we just thought maybe he was feeling lonely or down."

Soon after, Folse received yet another message from a mutual friend saying she was concerned as well.

Realizing their friend might be in dire need, Folse and Sines decided to intervene.

"We met up with the shirt and went to our friend's place, but his car wasn't there," said Folse. "I checked the front door and it was open."

After entering the apartment and realizing their friend was not there, they knew this was a serious situation.

"After realizing the door was unlocked, that's when my heart sank," said Sines. "After looking around we saw some key indicators and knew we needed to find him right then."

Their friend had some common indicators evident on his computer desk. Ammunition, medication and alcohol; a potentially fatal combination.

"We realized this was a major, major concern," said Sines. "We were considering where else we could look for him and it turned out he had just left to get food so we got extremely lucky he came back."

Sines and Folse showed their friend something that a lot of people are afraid to--tough love.

"We basically cornered him and let him know we knew something was going on," Sines said. "We told him what we found in his apartment and that we knew what his plans were. At first he was kind of standoffish but we just started picking away at the armor. The next morning, we went to mental health."

By intervening and supporting their friend, they potentially saved his life.

Sines and Folse recognized the signs and stepped up to own the problem. Without hesitation, they were there for their friend.

"Before we went to his place we were thinking there's only going to be three possible outcomes to this. He's either going to hate us forever, love us forever or we're not going to get there in time," said Sines. "Luckily we did get there in time. We're all still good friends. He actually comes over to the house even more than he used to."

Even though their friend may still have his ups and downs, he now knows that he has a support system within his friends.

"The cool thing is that he will sometimes have bad days and he'll just randomly show up at our place and start venting about things," said Sines. "We opened up that bridge for him and he knows we are here for him. When you get in a dark place, you think that nobody loves you or that you don't have any friends. The biggest thing we showed him is that a lot of people care."

Their friend is now on the right path, out of his dark place.

"He's been doing well and is back at work," Folse said. "If you are ever concerned about a friend, don't be afraid to say something. In the end, they will thank you."

Resiliency results in success

by Senior Airman Keenan Berry
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


2/27/2015 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- To have resilience means to be able to withstand difficult conditions and come out on top.

In every Air Force career, Airmen are taught to be resilient when they are away from their homes and families.

However, for Airman 1st Class Henry Sorenson, 509th Security Forces Squadron member, this was a trait he learned before joining the Air Force.

Sorenson, who is from the small town of Cedar City, Utah, was born and raised as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was chosen to serve a mission in Brazil for two years. While there, Sorenson learned a great deal about the Brazilian culture.

"The process for applying for missions is similar to joining the Air Force," said Sorenson. "I had to do an interview, a screening and a background check to ensure I met the qualifications for the mission. The church then selects and sends qualified applicants to different places around the world. I happened to be chosen for Brazil. For two years, I went around communicating to the locals about the church."

Adjusting to different cultures can be tough, and for Sorenson that was a lesson he learned firsthand.

"When I first arrived in Brazil, I figured the local language was Spanish because I was in South America," said Sorenson, "but I was wrong. I went to a place called the Missionary Training Center in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where I received training for eight weeks along with other American missionaries. I had to room with Brazilian locals and none of them spoke English. It was a bit awkward and challenging trying to communicate with them with the little knowledge I had."

Sorenson eventually became fluent in Portuguese, but it was a rather difficult experience.

After eight weeks of training, Sorenson was sent to the missionary field where he was accompanied by a fluent expert. They assisted him with communicating to the locals whenever he required interaction. Throughout 22 months he began to pick up on the language the more he spoke with the locals. It was still a struggle.

"It was really awkward at times trying to convey religious messages to the locals," said Sorenson. "There were times I would go to someone with a memorized line and when they started to talk I would look to the expert for help. Some locals would hear my American accent and would shun me away; others were sincere enough to assist me with communicating to them."

Despite the difficulties with learning Portuguese, Sorenson learned the significance of work ethic.

"I was frustrated a lot of times because I didn't understand the language," said Sorenson. "Also I was a bit homesick missing my family and friends, but I kept persevering and eventually came out on top. A good life lesson I learned is when things get tough, that's the time when you really have to stand up and keep going."

Sorenson became resilient in his struggle to master the language and communicate his religious messages to the locals. Because of his dedication, Sorenson was able to pull through and accomplish his mission.

"Life is full of trials," said Master Sgt. Andrew Wells, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron assistant chief of hazardous material safety. "That adversity will give us experience and has the potential to strengthen us. An attitude of resiliency comes when we view mistakes and weakness as opportunities to learn, to the point that we accept losing as learning. This will help us focus on what we can do to change the situation instead of worrying about what is outside of our control."

Not only did Sorenson receive knowledge, he spent time giving back by teaching English to some of his friends.

"I didn't just go to Brazil for the religious aspect," said Sorenson. "I taught English to a few people who were going to universities. All the textbooks are written in English and they have to know it in order to progress through college. I think that benefited them in their endeavor to pursue a higher education."

Sorenson demonstrated resiliency on several accounts throughout his mission in Brazil. Despite his time away from family and friends, he gained new experiences that will last him a lifetime.

"I was able to make close friends and I still communicate with them via social media, which also keeps me fluent in the language," said Sorenson. "I've had the opportunity of visiting different locations, trying new foods and many activities others don't get a chance to experience. It's taught me life lessons which have carried on into my Air Force career, making me the Airman I am today."

Barksdale's best maintainers recognized for service in 2014

by Senior Airman Benjamin Raughton
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs


2/27/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -  -- The 2014 Maintenance Professional of the Year awards ceremony was held at the Weapons Load Training facility Feb. 20.

The ceremony, held annually for more than 10 years, recognizes the 2nd Bomb Wing's top performers in the maintenance career fields across the base.

"This is a good way to recognize [Airmen] not just at the flight, but at the group level," said Tech. Sgt. Adam Levandowski, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons expediter who emceed the event.

This year's event comes after a successful and productive 2014.

"We've flown more than 1,200 sorties and amassed over 7,000 flight hours," he said. "We've had 13 aircraft maintenance inspections during which we inspected over 17,000 target items and discovered and corrected over 33,000 discrepancies."

The maintainers also worked on more than 917 pieces of mission critical and nuclear certified aerospace ground equipment, assembled more than 2,400 bombs, hosted several distinguished visitors and given numerous static tours.

"We've also won awards," Levandowski continued. "During the 2014 Global Strike Challenge, we won the Ellis Giant Sword... presented for best bomber maintenance in the command. Additionally, the 2nd AMXS won the best conventional weapons load team, and the 2nd Munitions Squadron won best conventional maintenance team."

Tech. Sgt. Erin Bernik, 2nd MXS lead crew member, won the Maintenance support professional of the year, NCO category.

"It was a big surprise to me but I'm very grateful," she said. "I was really surprised and extremely happy."

Bernik advises others to recognize their Airmen and make sure they're aware of opportunities to excel and to take any chance they can to go above and beyond the call of duty.

B-52 flyover to honor 50th Vietnam War anniversary

by Capt. Kathleen Ice
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs


2/27/2015 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D.  --
A B-52H Stratofortress from Minot Air Force Baseis scheduled to fly over a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, March 2, 2015 at the Air Force Memorial in Washington D.C.

The ceremony is to honor prisoners of war and missing in action veterans and their families during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Air Force Memorial site.

March 2, 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of, then, 1st Lt. Hayden J. Lockhart's aircraft being shot down over Vietnam and his becoming the first Air Force POW. The day also marks the beginning of the Operation Rolling Thunder bombing campaign.

The Minot B-52 will fly a U.S. flag on the mission and bring it back to be raised on the base's flag pole.

"It's certainly an honor to be able to do this, just the connection with our past heritage and to know B-52 combat veterans will be at the ceremony and still see the B-52 flying and projecting air power," said 69th Bomb Squadron pilot Capt. Will Swift, who is scheduled to fly on the mission.

The Stratofortress was impressive to see during the Vietnam War, said Terry Hanscam, a Navy petty officer who served on the USS Goldsborough guided missile destroyer and tracked the bombers on radar.

"When the bombs went off, that sure got your attention," Hanscam said.

"The B-52s came in real early one morning, they started bombing about 4, 5 o'clock in the morning, they bombed for a couple of hours -- flattened the beach with jungle behind it.  It didn't leave much but stumps standing when they were done," Hanscam said.

Then came the U.S. Marine amphibious invasion.

"We watched them put about 5,000 Marines ashore in 45 minutes," Hanscam said. "It was something to see."
Approximately 200 B-52s were deployed overseas at the peak effort of the Vietnam War, delivering more than 5 billion pounds of bombs.

Hanscam's daughter, Maj. Nickole Lensgraf, is a 705th Munitions Squadron missile maintenance officer at Minot AFB. She said it's important to honor her dad and all of those who served in Vietnam.

"They deserve to have their accomplishments and their participation recognized, because it was a harsh conflict," Lensgraf said. "Taking the time to recognize their service and contributions aside from the political and ideological questions is important; because regardless of those things, they did what they were asked to do."

The wreath-laying ceremony will be the first Headquarters Air Force event in support of the 50th Vietnam War Commemorative Partner Program. This multi-year campaign aims to thank and honor the veterans of the Vietnam War for their sacrifice and service and pay tribute to the contributions of their families.

ACC commander unveils priorities

by Staff Sgt. Candice Page
Headquarters Air Combat Command Public Affairs


3/2/2015 - JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va.  -- Discussions on tomorrow's challenges and the roadmap of priorities to help safely navigate them took center stage as Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, spoke with Headquarters Airmen during three all calls here Feb. 24.

Carlisle opened each session by reminding Airmen of the critically important responsibilities they're tasked with--air superiority; command and control; global integrated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; global precision attack; and personnel recovery.

"We are in charge of five core functions and we're helping design what the Air Force of 2030 looks like," Carlisle said. "ACC is all about Combat Air Forces and it is our responsibility to make sure the Air Force that follows us is better than it is today."

After offering his thoughts on where the command stands today, Carlisle introduced his priorities and where he hopes to take the command into the future in support of the Air Force.

"The three broad priorities are win today's fight, ensure we are sending the most capable folks downrange and to build the best Air Force for the future," he said. "It may be smaller because we can't afford it all, but is has got to be the most capable ... so that we are still the greatest fighting force in the world in 2030."

After offering a broad view of the priorities, Carlisle offered specifics on the three priorities:

Provide for today: deliver the greatest amount of combat capability to meet our national security objectives and win our nation's wars.

Prepare for the future: balanced capabilities and capacity to meet the demands of a complex and uncertain world.

Support the foundation of airpower: Airmen and their families.

The general further explained each priority was equally important and would ultimately help ensure the success of the MAJCOM's most important task: "...to provide the most combat capability to the combatant commanders we can to win today's fight and secure the national security objectives of the United States."

The general was also clear about what he saw as the foundation of the command's overall success:  its Airmen and families.

"We can have the best equipment in the world, but if we do not have the right people operating it and if we have not taken care of them and their families so they can do the best job we ask of them to when they go downrange, then we fail," Carlisle said.

The general noted that the road ahead would not be easy, explaining that while today's Air Force is the smallest it has ever been, demands on the service show no sign of slacking.

"Today, we have more requirements and more missions than we have money, manpower or time," he said. "The only reason we can do this is because of all the incredible Airmen we have and what they are able to do every day."

General Carlisle stressed that critical challenges also extended inside the service's own ranks, particularly the continuing problems of sexual assault and suicide. Noting that both were "problems we own" he went on to say the answer lies with Airmen.  "We need to help and be present so we do not have people that are attacked or so depressed they think the only way out is to take their own lives."

The general closed by offering thanks to the assembled Airmen for the important work they do every day.

"Thanks for stepping up and answering the call even through our challenges and doing everything to fix them," said Carlisle. "The work you provide to the wings, squadrons and Airmen going downrange are unbelievable."

NFL great tackles mental health issue during Tinker visit

by John Parker
Tinker Public Affairs


3/2/2015 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Former NFL running back Herschel Walker knows how to overcome obstacles.

To defeat a stutter early in life, he repeatedly practiced reading aloud in front of a mirror. Although the stutter had nothing to do with his smarts, he became an "A" student to boot.

When University of Georgia football coach Vince Dooley told his new freshman he wasn't ready to play, Walker trained harder. He eventually won the 1982 Heisman trophy and a national championship at Georgia.

When he realized later in life that he had mental struggles - in his case, dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder - he got help.

"We all fall short of the glory of God," Mr. Walker said, "and I'm telling you that we've all got problems, and we can't hide the problems. Because if you've got to hide the problem, then that problem gets bigger and bigger and bigger.

"I'm telling you that if you take care of that problem now, that problem becomes small," Mr. Walker said.

Although taking on a serious subject, Mr. Walker entertained hundreds of members of the 552nd Air Control Wing and Team Tinker on Tuesday during two speeches in the Bldg. 230 AWACS hangar. Autograph seekers queued up after both events.

His theme, "There's no shame in asking for help - I did," coincided with the Air Force resiliency program's four pillars of Comprehensive Airmen Fitness -- mental, physical, social and spiritual. He spoke on behalf of the Patriot Support Programs of Universal Health Services, Inc., Behavioral Health treatment centers.

Mr. Walker drew laughs with his personal tales of struggles from elementary school to the NFL. In the late 1980s, he said he was called into the office of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Jimmy Johnson, who promptly told him he'd been traded to the Minnesota Vikings.

Mr. Walker said the high-powered duo had forgotten one thing: his contract said he couldn't be traded without his consent.

The Wrightsville, Ga., native told the audience, "Ya'll know what? Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones were in a bind right now because Herschel Walker hates cold weather, and I'm not going to Minnesota."

Mr. Walker said he was told to make a list of anything he wanted to agree to the trade. He said it included large amounts of money, new cars, a new house and a bass boat. Jones signed the list without looking, he said.

Minnesota became "one of the best places I've ever lived in my entire life," Mr. Walker said. "Terrible football team. Great place to live, though."

Mr. Walker said one of his early indications of mental illness arose when he was enraged about a person who stalled for weeks in delivering a personal package in the Dallas metro where he lives. He felt disrespected. When the delivery arrived, he slipped on his holster and gun to meet him at a service station, he said.

"Voices were going off in my head. 'Herschel, people got to quit disrespecting you like that,'" Mr. Walker said. He prayed for help to not make a mistake, he said.

"I still remember getting out of my car, and I put my hand on my holster and I walked up to this guy's truck," Mr. Walker said. "He had a sign on the back of his truck that said, 'Honk if you love Jesus.' And it calmed me down."

Mr. Walker said he sought help from others. They included a Christian group that tried to do an exorcism, which he walked out of, and a different pastor who helped him find a psychologist. The doctor diagnosed him with DID and Mr. Walker entered a care facility, which helped him to recover, he said.

The solution is "not just going to fall out of the sky just because you pray," Mr. Walker said. "God says you still have to get up and do something."

Col. Jay R. Bickley, 552nd Air Control Wing commander, told Mr. Walker that he was always amazed at his "unbelievable athletic ability," but his admiration grew "a hundred-fold" for his perseverance and resiliency.

"We ask our military members to go through a lot of stuff," Colonel Bickley said. "And they see things that nobody should ever see. In the past there was a negative stigma attached when a service member sought help.

"We're changing that in the military.  We now understand that sometimes people need to take a knee. And to hear you come out and talk about it is just phenomenal -- a tremendous, tremendous story."

Women's History Month: Remembering the past, looking toward the future

by Senior Airman Matthew Lotz
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


2/27/2015 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- During the 1900s, answering phone calls, maintaining records and providing minor health care were just some of the roles women were permitted to serve in the military. Jobs left open because men left for war, gave women the opportunity to step up and volunteer on the home front.

A century later, women across the Department of Defense have responsibilities such as maintaining multi-million-dollar aircraft, leading troops through battlefields and serving in higher leadership positions.  Women's History Month honors the hard work and contributions made in the past and present.

"Those women paved the way for me to be able to serve as a United States Air Force firefighter," said Senior Airman Chelsea Westfall, 31st Civil Engineer firefighter. "Because of them, I can come to work and feel like I belong. Women are no longer seen as the outsiders."

Knowing the efforts of women in the past allow for today's women to prevail and make their own history, not defined by their gender.

"We celebrate Women's History Month to remember the struggles women went through to get the equalities we have today," said Chief Master Sgt. Dorothy Olson, 31st Operations Group chief. "We have achieved what our ancestors worked so hard for."

Today, in the U.S. military, there aren't many jobs women cannot volunteer for. Serving as a testament to this, John McHugh, Secretary of the Army, announced that women, for the first time, will be eligible to participate in U.S. Army Ranger School.

"Physically, there may be things that women might not be able to do," said Olson. "But technically or academically, we are the same. The Air Force offers everyone the same opportunities. That's the best part about being in the military -- no one has to worry about whether or not a woman will be able to accomplish a task."

Individuals like Col. Linda McTague, the first female fighter squadron commander and Honorable Sheila Widnall, the first appointed secretary of the Air Force, have led by example and proven women can perform in non-traditional jobs.

Technical careers, equal pay and voting rights were merely dreams for women in the past, but now those dreams are constitutional rights.

"If you're a technical sergeant, you get paid as a technical sergeant. If you want to make chief master sergeant during your career, with hard work, you are eligible to make chief," said Olson.

According to the Air Force Personnel Center, there are more than 58,000 females in the U.S. Air Force. These women have the opportunity to ensure the empowerment given to them is carried on to the next generation.

"In an ideal world, people wouldn't focus on our gender, rather how we can be better together," said Westfall. "We go through the same training as men. If I'm wearing a duty badge on my uniform, you should know without hesitation that I belong. We are strong women who fought to be here and we aren't going anywhere."

AFSOUTH trains for humanitarian crisis, joint operations

by 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs

3/2/2015 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz  -- Air Forces Southern joined forces with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Southern Command and multiple other federal agencies to improve their ability to operate as a team in the event of a mass migration, Feb. 20-27, in Exercise Integrated Advance 2015.

Integrated Advance (IA) is a biennial U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)-sponsored interagency exercise that focuses on supporting the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State (DOS) in the event of a humanitarian crisis in the Caribbean.

"IA provides a great platform to train command and control efforts not only across the DOD but across the full spectrum of U.S. government response to crises," said Lt. Gen. Chris Nowland, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander.

The exercise anticipated the mass migration of people from multiple Caribbean islands after a series of hurricanes devastate the area. The goal of the exercise scenario was to effectively interdict and repatriate the migrants at sea who were attempting to enter the United States.

The majority of the exercise is simulated and designed to improve command and control among governmental agencies focusing on interoperability with DHS and SOUTHCOM.

During the scenario-driven exercise, Joint Task Force - Migrant Operations (JTF-MIGOPS) operated out of Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas and practiced the ability to temporarily house migrants in a safe and humane manner until they could be repatriated to their country of origin.

The Air Force's role focused on providing airlift, medical care and surveillance capabilities to other agencies during the simulated operation.

"Our goal was to move people, equipment and supplies as quickly as possible to the affected areas, as well as provide the Navy and Coast Guard with additional surveillance assets to locate migrants at sea," the general said.

"The Air Force brings some unique capabilities to this sort of operation," he said, adding, "Not only technologically through the use of air, space and cyber assets, but especially through our expeditionary medical squadrons and engineers who supported JTF-MIGOPS."

About 600 personnel from Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and state of Florida agencies participated in the week-long exercise.

By training with interagency partners on complex scenarios involving interdicting migrants at sea - most of whom are in unseaworthy and overloaded craft - U.S. Southern Command and its components are better prepared to respond should such humanitarian assistance be required.