Monday, March 23, 2015

President’s Council Announces Increase in Veteran Hires

From an Office of Personnel Management News Release

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2015 – In the more than five years since President Barack Obama established the Veterans Employment Initiative, a steadily increasing annual percentage of veterans have entered federal civilian service.

In fiscal year 2014, according to an Office of Personnel Management news release issued today, the percentage of veteran new hires hit a new high of 33.2 percent, surpassing the previous mark set in FY 2013, when 31 percent of all new Federal civilian hires were veterans.

Fiscal 2014 also marked the first time since the president established the Veterans Employment Initiative that new veteran hires increased in a year when overall new employee hires also increased.

‘Ongoing and Sustainable’ Progress for Veterans

The goal of the President’s Veterans Employment Initiative, officials said, is to help federal agencies identify qualified veterans, clarify the hiring process for veterans seeking employment with the federal government, and help them adjust to the civilian work environment once they are hired.

“I am confident that together this council is doing what is needed to achieve the president’s objectives and establish the foundation for ongoing and sustainable progress for our veterans for years to come,” said OPM Director Katherine Archuleta, vice chair of the council.

The council is made up of 24 Cabinet-level members and other independent agency representatives. It is co-chaired by Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald.

Increasing Focus on Female Veterans, Diversity

At a meeting today, officials said, the council discussed the fiscal 2014 veteran employment numbers and recommendations from the Council’s Women Veterans Working Group. Archuleta had asked Catherine Emerson, the Department of Homeland Security’s chief human capital officer, to lead a working group to assess the hiring of women veterans, officials said.

The council approved the group’s recommendation to adopt an addendum to the governmentwide Veterans Recruitment and Employment Strategic Plan FY 2014 -- 2017. The addendum will add measures related to women veterans and diversity to the plan’s existing goal areas of leadership commitment, employment, marketing and information gateway.

Character, Team-building, Discipline

“We know that veterans possess character, team-building skills, and discipline,” McDonald said “Those traits don’t stop when we take off the uniform. They transfer into the workplace and help their businesses grow and succeed.” More than a third of VA employees are veterans, he noted, which “means providing better outcomes and better service to their fellow veterans.

Perez said, “My colleagues at the Labor Department who are veterans embody the very finest qualities of our military tradition, and they demonstrate their character every day while standing up for American workers and their families.”

Breaking down “silos” across the government to explore innovative strategies to boost veterans’ ranks within agencies, he said, “not only helps us honor the men and women who protect our nation with good jobs, but leads to more dependable, professional, and conscientious government services for the American people.”

AF announces OTS rated selection board results

By Air Force Recruiting Service, / Published March 23, 2015

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- A total of 228 men and women from across America have earned an opportunity to become Air Force leaders following their selection for an officer's commission, officials announced March 20.

Air Force Recruiting Service officials considered 453 applications as part of the Officer Training School Rated Selection Board 15OT01. With the board's selection rate of 50.33 percent, 228 applicants were selected to serve as Air Force officers. Also, of the 228 selected, 50 enlisted members earned the chance to attend OTS and trade their stripes for gold bars as second lieutenants.

To see the full list of selectees – click here

As part of the selection process, board members review both objective and subjective factors.

Objectively, the board considers each applicant's academic discipline, grade point average and Air Force Officer Qualifying Test scores.

Subjectively, board members evaluate work experience, accomplishments, adaptability, character, leadership ability, potential for future growth and other recommendations. For active-duty enlisted members, performance reports and commanders' recommendations are also evaluated.

Three Air Force colonels review every application. The selection process is similar to an Air Force officer promotion board. No single factor leads to an individual's selection or non-selection, according to OTS selection officials.

Candidates selected can expect to attend OTS at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, in 2016.

For more information concerning OTS and the application process, active-duty members should visit the officer training website on the Air Force Portal; civilians should contact the nearest Air Force recruiter.

Walden approved to lead Paul H. Lankford Enlisted PME Center

by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
I.G. Brown Training and Education Center

3/23/2015 - MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. -- The 14th commandant of the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center was announced here March 2 by the Commander of the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center.

Col. Jessica Meyeraan said in an email that the TEC expects to welcome Chief Master Sgt. Edward Walden to his new assignment this spring.

Senior Master Sgt. P. Christine Shawhan is currently serving as the interim commandant since the recent retirement of Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Stoudt, the 13th commandant, in January.

Walden will accept responsibility to prepare thousands of future Total Air Force leaders at the Air National Guard's premier center for enlisted professional military education.

The Air National Guard established the training center in June 1968, and it has since trained more than 30,000 Airmen. It outputs the largest volume of Total Force EPME graduates in the U.S. Air Force.

More than 2,000 students per year attend leadership training and other studies through the Lankford PME Center's Airman leadership school and NCO academy, which provide traditional campus classroom coursework as well as distance learning, via satellite broadcast.

Officials said that Walden served in the field as a Texas National Guard Airman for the state's sustainment services as superintendent before taking his current responsibility as the principle advisor to the chief of the Services Division at the National Guard Bureau, Air National Guard Readiness Center, on Joint Base Andrews, Md.

Walden managed, developed and organized Air National Guard Services education and training issues, as well as courses and ANG Services instructors for Airmen at 89 wings, said officials.

Officials said that Walden also served as an advanced certified faculty member for the University of Phoenix, as a researcher/statistical analyst for the Tarrant County College District, and as an adjunct faculty member for the ATI Career Training Center.  He also served as the academic dean at the Career Colleges of Chicago.

Walden earned his associate's degree from the Community College of the Air Force as well as his bachelor's degree in Workforce Education Training and Development from Southern Illinois University. His advanced degrees include a master's in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and a doctorate in Philosophy, Postsecondary and Adult Education from Capella University.

26th annual Bataan Memorial Death March

by Staff Sgt. E'Lysia A. Wray
49th Wing Public Affiars

3/23/2015 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Hours before the sun crests the Organ Mountains, more than 5,600 people from around the world come to show their support and participate in the 26th annual Bataan Memorial Death March held at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. Sunday March 22.

"This memorial march pays tribute to the bravery, heroism and sacrifice of those who defended Luzon, Corregidor and harbor defense forts of the Philippines in 1942 during World War ll," said Brig. Gen. Timothy R. Coffin, U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range commanding general.

The Bataan Memorial Death March, held at the White Sands Missile Range, was created to honor those approximately 75,000 Filipino and American troops who received the order to surrender on the island of Luzon, April 9, 1942. It was there that these troops were taken prisoner by the Japanese and were forced to make the grueling 65-mile march to prisoner-of-war camps. The memorial march honors the sacrifices of those soldiers taken prisoner, and in many cases, gave their lives during captivity.

"With every step you take you have the opportunity to reflect on the story of Bataan. Your participation ensures the Bataan Soldier's story continues to be told, keeping the legacy and character of these great Americans alive," said Coffin.

The memorial event is a challenging trek through the high desert and mountain terrain of southern New Mexico. Participants can choose from two routes. The Green route, which is the full 26.2 miles, and the Blue honorary route which is 14.2 miles.

Both routes allow participants to experience a small portion of what the soldiers endured during their long march through malaria-filled jungles in the Philippines.

"We're not going to make you do 65 miles here today, but, you will begin to feel some of the pain, some of the agony, some of the burn that went on in that march," said Coffin.

Active duty, Guard, Reserve, Retires, civilians, ROTC Cadets, veterans, wounded warriors, volunteers, and spectators all came to pay homage to not only the Filipino and American troops, but also to acknowledge the great sacrifice that local veterans paid during the Bataan Death March.

"Of the approximate 1,800 men from New Mexico's 200th and 515th coastal artillery regiments, that were deployed to the Philippines in 1941, only 900 returned back to the United States at the end of the war. Bataan took a heavy toll on the state of New Mexico," said Coffin.

The annual memorial event ensures that future generations remember and understand the sacrifices of those who came before them.

"The Bataan Death March began and will continue to be a way to honor those who perished and those who lived through that horrific chapter of World War ll. The legacy of the march, which has brought us here today, keeps its history alive and ensures the sacrifices made and lessons learned are not forgotten," said Coffin.

NATO Responding to Russia’s Actions Against Ukraine

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2015 – NATO is responding to Russia’s illegal occupation of Ukrainian territory with the largest reinforcement of collective defense since the end of the Cold War, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said over the weekend in Brussels.

Since the early 1990s, the alliance has tried to establish a cooperative environment with Russia, Stoltenberg told the Brussels Forum, but Russia has violated the rules.

“Russian troops have crossed the borders of its neighbors,” the secretary general said. “They have annexed a part of another country and that is the first time since the end of the Second World War that that has happened in Europe.”

Russia also has troops in Moldova and Georgia, and Russian forces are working to destabilize Eastern Ukraine.

Russian Actions Spur NATO

Russian actions have spurred NATO to make sweeping changes. “The adaptation that is taking place now is a very big and fundamental adaptation of the NATO defense posture,” Stoltenberg said.

The alliance is doubling the size of its response force, the secretary general said. Once finished, he said, the lead elements of this force will be able to move in within as little as 48 hours.

The alliance, he added, is establishing command and control units in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.

This is just a start, the secretary general said.

“NATO is ready to defend all allies against any threat, and we see now an increased threat stemming from the concept of hybrid warfare,” Stoltenberg said.

Hybrid warfare is not new, he said. It is basically the combination of military and non-military means applied toward a strategic goal. “It’s about covert and overt actions, it’s about deception,” he said. “The new thing is its larger scale, and it’s taking place close to our borders, so we have to focus more on the concept of hybrid warfare.”

Hybrid Warfare Lessens Warning Time

Hybrid warfare means less warning time, said Stoltenberg, noting NATO has emphasized the importance of readiness and preparedness.

“Deception also increases the need for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance,” he said. “That’s the reason why one important element of the readiness action plan is to increase our intelligence capabilities, and special operation forces might be extremely important in a hybrid situation. So this is part of the adaptation which we are now undergoing, is to also increase our ability to fight hybrid warfare.”

The alliance’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances has impressed Stoltenberg, who took over late last year. NATO remains the strongest military alliance in history, he said, and the end of the Cold War demonstrated NATO’s ability to change, adapt and operate.

“The basic message is that NATO is ready to defend all allies against any threat and … an attack on one ally is an attack on all 28,” the secretary general said.

Stoltenberg said there is no contradiction between having a strong defense and having a dialog. NATO is responding to Russian actions and that response is designed to change Russia’s behavior. Russia is a part of Europe and a neighbor. NATO provides the basis “to be able to re-establish some kind of cooperative relationship with Russia,” he said. “To increase our collective defense is not a contradiction … . It’s a way to establish the predictability the trust which is needed for a more win-win situation in the future.”