Military News

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Heritage Flight 2015

by 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

3/4/2015 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Air Combat Command held the Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Feb. 27 - March 1.

The annual aerial demonstration training event has been held at D-M since 2001, providing civilian and military pilots the opportunity to practice flying in formation for the upcoming air show season.

Established in 1997, the HFTCC features aerial demonstrations from historical and modern fighter aircraft which will fly in formation together during air shows across the country.

The aircraft that participated in this year's HFTCC were the historic P-51 Mustang, P-40 Warhawk, P-38 Lightning, P-47 Thunderbolt and the F-86 Sabre. ACC aircraft included the F-22 Raptor and the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Reforms Just as Important as Budget Increase, Dempsey Says



By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2015 – Internal reforms are just as important to the Defense Department as an increase to its budget, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee today.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told the subcommittee that the department requires the flexibility to trim its excess infrastructure; re-examine its pay, benefits and retirement systems; and retire unneeded weapon systems in this fiscally constrained time.

All members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he said, are convinced that this flexibility is crucial to the long-term health of the force.

Budget Increase, Reforms Required

“It’s been difficult to communicate to our men and women serving why we have to do it,” Dempsey said. “But we’ve taken that responsibility on and have made several recommendations to you on internal reforms and we certainly need both the topline [budget] increase that the president has provided, but just as importantly, the reforms that we’ve requested.”

If Congress does not approve the president’s fiscal year 2016 budget request -- which is $33 billion above sequester caps -- or if Congress does not give the department flexibility, “we’ll have to change our strategy,” the chairman said.

The strategy addresses the threats of today and puts in place the force of the future, he said.

“And if we can’t execute it, what I’ll be saying to you is that we're not doing what the nation needs us to do,” the chairman said.

For the past 25 years, he said, the U.S. military has secured the global commons and deterred adversaries.

“We’ve reassured our allies and we’ve responded to conflict and crises by maintaining our presence abroad,” Dempsey said. “It has been our strategy to shape the international security environment by our forward presence and by building relationships with regional partners.”

He explained that under the strategy, one-third of U.S. forces are deployed, one-third returned from deployment, and one-third getting ready to go.

Sequestration Harms Readiness

“Sequestration will fundamentally and significantly change the way we deploy the force and shape the environment,” he said. “We’ll be almost 20 percent smaller when all is said and done, from where we started. And our forward presence will be reduced by about a third.”

This would mean the United States would be less influential and less responsive, the chairman said.

“Conflicts will take longer to resolve and will be more costly in both dollars and in casualties,” the general said.

The global security environment is as uncertain as he has ever seen it, Dempsey said. A resurgent Russia, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, al-Qaida, China modernizing its military, Iran, North Korea and more are of concern to U.S. national security officials, he said.

“We’re at a point where our national aspirations are at genuine risk of exceeding our available resources,” Dempsey said.

The president’s fiscal year 2016 budget request would allow officials to follow the defense strategy, he said.

“It’s what we need to remain at the bottom edge of manageable risk to our national defense,” Dempsey said. “There is no slack left.”

Navy Secretary Explains Significance of Sea Power



By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2015 – National security interests face heightened threats and demands as budget woes grow more challenging and complex, but the Navy and Marines Corps remain the best value to advance global security and presence, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told a Senate panel today.

The secretary testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s appropriations committee for defense to reinforce the significance of the naval forces’ rapid, self-contained response and latitude to execute missions.

Power of Presence

“Uniquely, the Navy and Marine Corps provide presence around the world, around the clock,” Mabus said. “We are the nation’s first line of defense, ready for anything that might come over the horizon.”

Mabus cited Article 1 of the Constitution, which he explained authorizes Congress to raise an Army when needed but directs them to provide and maintain a Navy.

“From the first six frigates to our growing fleet today, from Tripoli to Afghanistan, sailors and Marines have proven the founder’s wisdom,” the secretary said.

He also noted that senior U.S. leaders recognize the value of sea power.

“We are truly America’s ‘away team,’” Mabus said. “We deploy just as much in peace as we do in war, and our role in the last 70 years in securing sea lanes and freedom of commerce has boosted our own and the world’s economy.”

Nearly half the world’s population lives within 100 miles of the sea, 90 percent of global trade goes by sea and 90 percent of all voice and data go under the sea, Mabus said.

According to the secretary, some 38 million jobs in America are directly linked to seaborne international trade.

Mabus described the Navy and Marine Corps as the “primary protectors” of an international system that has created unprecedented economic growth.

“While we’ve led this effort,” he said, “we’ve worked with allies and partners, increasing interoperability, establishing relationships that also help keep the peace.”

As a result, the national defense strategy, Mabus said, is focused on the maritime domain and requires investment in maritime assets.

People, Platforms, Power, Partnership

Still, in recent years, the Navy has braced in the wake of budget turbulence marked by numerous continuing resolutions and the specter of sequestration’s return. The environment, he recounted, has spurred difficult but critical choices, which have helped mold the foundations of presence: people, platforms, power and partnership.

Mabus praised sailors and Marines, whom he described as adaptable and armed with independent judgment.

“We remain committed to providing our sailors, Marines, and our civilians with the training and support they need to maintain our naval presence -- and we include in this their dedicated families and our wounded,” he said. “We’ve launched a comprehensive approach to assure the world’s healthiest, fittest, most resilient and best-educated force, truly representing America’s diversity.”

But people, no matter how prepared, need platforms -- ships, submarines, aircraft, systems and equipment -- to perform their jobs, Mabus said.

Quantity has a quality of its own, he said, adding this philosophy calls for a properly sized and balanced fleet.

On Sept. 11, 2001, the Navy’s battle force stood at 316 ships, Mabus said, before a sharp drop in 2008 to 278 ships. He said the focus on two ground wars over the past decade only partly explains the decline.

Mabus said in the five years before hetook over as Navy secretary, the Navy contracted for only 27 ships, which he maintained was not enough to stanch the decline in the fleet size.

Mabus reported the Navy contracted for 70 ships during his first five years on the job, halting and reversing the decline. And by decade’s end, the service expects to be at 304 ships.

“We accomplished this with a direct and fundamental business approach,” he said, “increasing competition, relying more on fixed-price contracts … and multi-year block buys.”

But budget instability, Mabus said, hampers the Navy’s ability to manage and grow the fleet and maintain the industrial base.

Cutting ships, he added, is the most “damaging, dangerous and least reversible” course of action.

“Fueling those ships, aircraft and vehicles of our Navy and Marine Corps is a vital operation of concern and enables the global presence necessary to keep the nation secure,” Mabus said.

The Navy therefore has a history of innovation, particularly in energy, from sail, to steam, to oil and nuclear pioneering, the secretary said.

“Our national security interests in the Navy and Marine Corps to meet their missions,” he said, “must be enhanced by increasing our energy diversity.”

Additionally, presence and global security will be augmented through partnerships and cooperation, ensuring the Navy remains an immediate, capable and adaptable option when a crisis develops, the secretary said.

Though President Barack Obama’s proposed fiscal year 2016 budget balances current readiness while sustaining a highly capable fleet, Mabus said, the current budget climate demands a rigorous examination of every dollar spent and aggressive efforts to cut unnecessary costs from tail to tooth.

KC-46A Pegasus hangar construction underway

by Airman 1st Class Christopher Thornbury
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


3/3/2015 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan.  -- The construction of three new hangars is underway, preparing for the arrival of the KC-46A Pegasus, here.

The hangars will have the capability of storing of six KC-46As for the 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the 931st Air Refueling Group to perform routine maintenance.

"We laid a new foundation system to support the new buildings and then foundation walls on top of those footings," said Neal Ridgeway, senior project manager. "Now we are in the process of running underground utilities, electric lines and sanitary lines."

Construction workers are working six days a week pouring concrete, welding and raising steel. The steel beams are scheduled to be raised within the next week and will hold the roof on Hangar 1126.

"Hangar 1124 is the most critical because it will have one side dedicated to repair fuel systems and one side for corrosion control, taking care of paint and repairing all of the surfaces on the new aircraft," said Ridgeway.

It is a big project to complete considering the size and the features the buildings will offer.

"The hangars being built are a lot larger than the previous hangars were to accommodate the larger aircraft," said Master Sgt. Danny Rutland, KC-46A Program Integration Office maintenance representative. "The major difference is that these hangars have a corrosion facility being built that will have the capability to paint a full aircraft. We have never had that capability here at McConnell before."

Hangar 1124 and 1125 are scheduled for completion by the end of the year, followed by the arrival of the first KC-46s in 2016. Hangar 1126 is slated to be finished in 2017.

"We were all given a mission to get these hangars built and everyone is working toward getting that done," said Ridgeway. "You couldn't get buildings of this size done in time without the cooperation of all the people involved. We are very lucky to have a good diverse team, a team with a lot of experience with these types of structures. We call on that experience every day."

McConnell Air Force Base is the first main operating base for the KC-46A with the first aircraft scheduled to arrive in fiscal year 2016. The new tankers will offer greater refueling capacity, increased capabilities for cargo and aeromedical evacuation and will provide aerial refueling support to the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps as well as allied nation coalition force aircraft.

319th Civil Engineer recognized at Air Force level

by Staff Sgt. Susan L. Davis
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


3/4/2015 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- One civil engineer here was recently recognized at the Air Force level for a prestigious award.

Kenneth Palm, 319th Civil Engineer Squadron heating, air conditioning and ventilation (HVAC) technician, won the Air Force Outstanding Civil Engineer Manager of the Year Award in the civilian category for his work in 2014 when the unit responded to the base's energy needs following the burst of a natural gas pipeline that services the installation. When the outage happened, he and his team operated Air Mobility Command's only synthetic natural gas plant in temperatures ranging to -35 degrees and provided heat and energy to more than 800 base facilities.

Palm explained that the award took him completely by surprise.

"I didn't even know they had submitted this package for me," Palm said. "I never had a clue."

In spite of the prestigious nature of the award, Palm is still modest about his accomplishment.

"It's really a team thing," he said. "Everyone seems to think it's a big deal, so it must be, but there are a lot of deserving people out there, I'm sure."

Palm's other accomplishments include enhancing quality of life for dorm residents, temporary lodging facility guests and dining facility patrons by repairing or installing air conditioning and chillers, saving the wing thousands of dollars in contractor costs and resources.

Randy Puttbrese, 319th Civil Engineer Squadron infrastructure systems section chief, spoke highly of Palm's work ethic and job performance.

"He is someone you can count on to get the most demanding job done on time, done right, and done like you would want a contractor to do something in your own home or business," he said.  "Mr. Palm's performance is top-notch. When he is given a job, he takes it on as if it is something he is doing in his own house. In other words, he takes pride in the ownership until the job is done."

Our Air Force - diverse in thought, word and deed



By Gen. Darren W. McDew, Air Mobility Command / Published March 04, 2015

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- The Air Force has a rich heritage built on the pillars of diversity and innovation. After African American History Month came to a close and we look on to honor women's history this month, I'd like to reflect on the word “diversity.”

Diversity is often equated to minority, but it's more than that -- diversity is a reflection of what makes us unique, and it fuels our Air Force and our nation.

As the Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark Welsh says, "Every Airman has a story."

Today's Air Force is a product of all of your stories -- your unique experiences, perspectives and ideas -- and we are stronger because of it. Diversity is more important than ever, as the success of our Air Force hinges on bold leadership and innovation to overcome complex fiscal and operational realities.

When I think of leadership and diversity, I think of the Tuskegee Airmen. These Airmen embodied sacrifice, respect and a commitment to excellence, building a legacy and heritage that continues to shape our force. They have been an inspiration to me, and to us all. I think of retired Gen. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., the leader of that historic group, who went on to become the first African American to be promoted to the rank of brigadier general in our Air Force.

I also think of retired Gen. Daniel "Chappie" James, Jr., who was not only a Tuskegee Airman, but also a fellow mobility Airman as the vice commander of the Military Airlift Command, the precursor to AMC. He rose to become the Air Force's first African American four-star general.

You will also find bold, innovative leadership in the example set by Maj. Gen. Jeanne M. Holm, the first woman to attend Air Command and Staff School at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, and the first female Air Force brigadier general. She was a catalyst and pioneer who paved the way for women in our Air Force.

Today, female Airmen make up approximately 19 percent of the Air Force, and we lead the way in the Department of Defense with 99% of our available positions open to women. From the current Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, to Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, our service's first female four-star general; to Col. Jeannie Leavitt, the first Air Force fighter pilot, Women's History Month is a time to remember the importance of valuing our Airmen for who they are and celebrating what's unique in all of us.

African American History Month and Women's History Month give us an opportunity to reflect on how far we've come.

To fully leverage the strength of our diversity, we must respect all of our fellow Airmen as members of an inclusive team, embracing all the experiences and expertise that our Airmen bring to the table. We all have a part to play in shaping the future of our Air Force, the Department of Defense, and our nation.

Although barriers to inclusiveness still exist, I am confident that the current and future generations of Air Force leaders -- each and every one of you -- will continue to find new ways to incorporate the strengths of our individual Airmen to make us a better team.

Diversity is part of our DNA. America's strength is even greater than the sum of its parts. Our best qualities as a nation shine through when we embrace different cultures, backgrounds, and ways of thinking.

Our Air Force is, and will continue to be, the premier fighting force in the air, space, and cyberspace -- and it's because of what our Airmen bring to the mission. To all our diverse Airmen: thank you for your service. Our Air Force is great because of you.