Tuesday, April 07, 2015

NORTHCOM, NORAD Strengthen Homeland Defense, Says Commander

By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2015 – Four months into his tenure as leader of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, Navy Adm. Bill Gortney conducted a Pentagon press briefing today on priority efforts in homeland defense.

Currently the Defense Department’s only bilateral command, 58-year-old NORAD brings Americans and Canadians together, Gortney said. NORAD works in tandem with Northcom, established in 2002, to protect the homeland from external threats as well as respond to natural disasters, homeland extremists and cyberattacks, he explained.

“[The mission set] encompasses the traditional NORAD role of air defense, as well as … maritime warning,” Gortney said.

Northcom, the admiral noted, rounds out the mission set with its maritime defense and control elements and includes Operation Noble Eagle, U.S.-Canadian homeland security operations that have been ongoing since just after 9/11.

The commands’ responsibilities also include homeland ballistic missile defense and countering transnational criminal networks to thwart smugglers or others who engage in nefarious activity, he said.

Federal military forces provide defense support of civil authorities, which Gortney said has expansive functions across myriad mission requirements.

“Many people think [that support] involves Hurricane Katrina or Super Storm Sandy, an earthquake or a flood, but it encompasses much more than that,” the admiral said. “It’s helping our interagency … and law enforcement partners, predominantly homeland security, in their particular missions.”

Importance of Homeland Partnerships

Gortney described homeland partnerships as NORAD’s and Northcom’s “center of gravity,” with not only a large interagency and law enforcement presence, but some 60 senior federal and senior executive service employees whose tasks cross mission sets.

NORAD and Northcom, he added, also work with governors, the Army National Guard and Air National Guard, and the functional and geographic combatant commands. “[They all work] together to close those seams that the enemy will try and exploit to get after us,” Gortney said.

International Partnerships

Gortney said that as the unified command plan directs, his people emphasize international partnerships with Canada, the Bahamas and Mexico to assess and solve shared problems.

DoD is also “the advocate of the arctic,” Gortney said, adding that he and his team are working to better define roles and doctrine by determining operational requirements, necessary investments and partnerships that will best inform DoD plans for the region.

Focus on Professionalism, Warfighters, Families

Along with professionalism and excellence, which Gortney described as full-time jobs, he told reporters NORAD and Northcom’s people focus on warfighters and their families.

“We rely on those who wear the cloth of our nation to defend our nation,” Gortney said. “It’s both an away game and a near game, and our families are the very stitches that hold [it] together.”

Largest Kadena flying exercise successfully completed

by Airman 1st Class Zackary A. Henry
18th Wing Public Affairs

4/4/2015 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan  -- Team Kadena pulled off their most aggressive exercise to date with Forceful Tiger off the coast of Okinawa April 1.

Forceful Tiger was a large force exercise designed to demonstrate the 18th Wing's combat capabilities to defend Okinawa and had more participation from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron than ever before.

"What we accomplished was an integration of all the mission sets at Kadena over an extended period," said Lt. Col. Jack Flynt, 909th ARS commander. "This is so we could actually exercise multiple different tactics, techniques and procedures we normally don't get to in an LFE scenario."

Twenty-four F-15C Eagles from the 67th and 47th Fighter Squadrons along with eight F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing, simulated allied and opposing forces to strengthen their ability to defend Okinawa in realistic scenarios.

The 33rd and 31st Rescue Squadrons were able to play on both sides as well. The allied side practiced rescuing downed pilots while the opposing forces simulated aggressors during the mission.

In order to ensure the "allied" pilots and crews could accomplish the mission, the 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron provided an E-3 Sentry to manage the battle, guaranteeing each aircraft had enough fuel, weapons and were postured effectively within the training range.

"The E-3 Sentries played an important part within this exercise," said Capt. Jesus Barciaga, 961st AACS air battle manager. "They were responsible for making sure the right assets were at the right place, at the right time."

For the aggressors, the 82nd Reconnaissance Squadron and 623rd Air Control Flight provided a similar function. The 82nd RS RC-135 Rivet Joint provided intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support, while the 623rd ACF provided radar support.

With 50 aircraft in the air, the 909th Air Refueling Squadron and 17th Special Operations Squadron fueled the fight with 11 KC-135 Stratotankers for the fighters and an MC-130P Combat Shadow for the HH-60G Pavehawks. The Stratotankers alone provided more than 800,000 pounds of fuel in-air.

Although this is not the first exercise that the 909th ARS has participated in, Forceful Tiger did present a unique opportunity for them.

"We have a number of exercises that happen on a routine basis and luckily the 909th ARS has been able to support these missions," said Lt. Col. John Burdick, 909th ARS director of operations. "We have never been able to support an LFE to this scale like we have with Forceful Tiger."

Flynt explained that this was due to the high operations tempo and demand for air refueling in the Pacific Air Force's area of responsibility.

"This was one of the largest exercises we have ever had just because of the amount of air refueling tanker play that we put forward," Flynt said. "That refueling allowed us to push this exercise to four hours."

An exercise of this proportion from mostly within Team Kadena would not have been possible without the help and support from other key players.

"This exercise would not have been nearly successful without the support of the 18th Operational Support Squadron, 718th Air Maintenance Squadron, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution operators, as well as the Joint Personnel Recovery Center and  Air Mobility Division within the  613th Air and Space Operations Center at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii," Burciaga said. "Their support was critical to enhancing our ability to defend Okinawa."

Redeyes fly in Korean skies

by 1st Lt. Earon Brown
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

4/6/2015 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Making their way from Aurora, Colo., more than 200 Airmen and F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard touched down at Kunsan AB in February as part of a rotational Theater Security Package.

For many of the Colorado Airmen, this is their first visit to the ROK as they take part in the routine deployment of fighter squadrons, fuel tankers, support personnel and equipment meant to augment U.S. forces stationed across the Asia-Pacific region, also referred to as a TSP.

"Over the past 12 years, our wing has deployed to the Middle East routinely, however, this time the 120th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and 120th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit have deployed as part of a TSP to South Korea," said Lt. Col. Mitchell Neff, 120th EFS commander. "We are here to integrate with the 8th Fighter Wing as part of Armistice operations on the peninsula."

For three to four months, the "Redeyes" will be integrating their operations with those of the 8th FW's Wolf Pack and the Republic of Korea Air Force 38th Fighter Group.

Since March 2004, deployments mirroring the Redeyes' have been an integral part of U.S. Pacific Command's combat capable air forces, which are postured for averting threats to regional security and stability.

"We are here to deter, but if called upon, we will defend South Korea," added Neff.

With units deploying to Guam, Japan, and South Korea, these movements underscore the U.S. commitment to regional partners and U.S. security obligations.

"The tempo is fairly rapid here as personnel rotate in and out of the peninsula daily," said Neff. "It requires everyone to hit the ground running to be ready to 'fight tonight.'"

As the only base in the ROK that houses U.S. and ROKAF flying squadrons, the deployment of rotational fighters to Kunsan AB also provides unique possibilities to integrate various forces into combined bilateral training.

"There are many training opportunities we can capitalize on while deployed to Kunsan," said Neff. "We've been able to integrate with the 8th FW in their operational readiness exercises and understand how we would take part in combat operations. In addition to that, we have successfully flown with the 38th Fighter Group's 111th Fighter Squadron in a large force employment exercise."

With the completion of Exercise Beverly Midnight 15-2, Kunsan's first of multiple OREs this year, the Redeyes have already received invaluable training to impart on their fellow Buckley Airmen.

"Our exercises back home are a bit different from the ones here at Kunsan, mostly due to time constraints," said Senior Airman Dusty Alynn, 120th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief. "At home our exercises last four days and we only do them once every couple of years. There is a lot thrown at us in a short amount of time, which is why it's good to see how other units conduct their training and base operations."

In addition to maintaining readiness, base operations at Kunsan include the acceptance of follow-on forces, with the guardsmen being a welcomed addition to the Wolf Pack family.

"I cannot even put into words how thrilled I am with the people that I have met here," said Alynn. "Every single individual that I have come across is so overwhelmingly helpful, kind, friendly and greets us with open arms. The family that has been created here is so amazing."

For both the Redeyes and the Wolf Pack, living, training and flying together has been beneficial as they aid one another in deterring aggression on the Korean Peninsula.

"The experience is not over yet, but so far it has been a very good one," added Neff. "For our young, inexperienced Airmen, this deployment is great because they can get the experience they need for future deployments and exercises, while also interacting with another culture. We can train like we fight as we maintain stability in the region."

AMC commander visits Ramstein

by Senior Airman Nicole Sikorski
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

4/6/2015 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany  -- General Darren W. McDew, Air Mobility Command commander, visited Ramstein Air Base March 28 through April 2.

During his visit, he held an all-call for more than 500 Airmen from U.S. Air Forces in Europe, 3rd Air Force, the 86th Airlift Wing and the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing.

At the all-call, the general discussed the value of bringing forward different outlooks to bolster innovation.

"We need to include different perspectives to keep moving forward," he said. "Doing things the same way we always have isn't going to solve a lot of our problems," he explained.

McDew emphasized the importance of living the Air Force core values and knowing their full meaning: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.

"It's important to get back to those values," he said.

The general also spoke of plans for fiscal year 2015 with budget constraints. McDew reiterated the Headquarters Air Force position that there will be no force shaping in the upcoming year.

"If we don't get the requested budget, something has to be cut," said McDew.  "It won't be people. It will stop us from growing, but we're not going to cut people."

McDew explained the impact each Airman has on the Air Force, and the importance of diversity and inclusion.

"It is all about performance," said McDew. "It is all about getting the right and best people to the table ... if you don't capture diverse perspectives, you don't have a chance of getting the very best."

In addition to his all-call, McDew presented Airmen from across many Ramstein units with coins for their superior job performance.

"It was great to have a leader come visit," said Senior Airman Lindsay Meyer, 721st Aerial Port Squadron passenger service specialist. "It makes me realize the impact my job has on the Air Force."

Leaders Reaffirm U.S.-Saudi Arabia Defense Ties

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2015 – Defense Secretary Ash Carter spoke by telephone with Saudi Arabian Defense Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman yesterday and praised the countries’ strategic relationship, Pentagon officials said in a written statement.

Carter underscored the U.S. commitment to the region and Saudi Arabia's security, emphasizing the importance of limiting civilian casualties when conducting airstrikes, the statement said.

“The two leaders agreed on the need to work toward a political solution in Yemen, and they discussed the importance of continuing to combat al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula,” the statement said. “They also promised to collaborate closely over the next several weeks to address security issues in the region.”

Face of Defense: Daughter, Father Serve as Air Force Instructors

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Justine Rho
502nd Air Base Wing

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2015 – When Air Force Staff Sgt. Amanda MacFarlane first donned the traditional “campaign hat” of the service’s military training instructors, she made history.

The man handing her the hat was her father, Tech. Sgt. James MacKay, a military training instructor with the 321st Training Squadron. They are now the first father-daughter duo to serve together as instructors for new recruits.

MacKay and MacFarlane have both had unique career experiences before becoming instructors, but they both noted their shared passion for mentorship and developing airmen. They both joined the Air Force Reserve as training instructors and are now training the next generation of Airmen.

"In my previous positions, I was often responsible for training new members on their on-the-job responsibilities, and to me, that was the best part of the job," McFarlane said. "I felt like I could make a positive impact by ensuring the airmen and noncommissioned officers had the knowledge and tools they would need to get their job done and contribute to the mission. As an MTI, you have the tremendous opportunity to have a positive impact on the next generation of airmen."

A Unique Path

MacKay entered the Air Force as a member of the Michigan Air National Guard in November 1983 and has since been a munitions systems specialist, air traffic controller and a fire protection specialist. He’s served on active duty, in the Air National Guard, and now, the Reserves.

In 2013, MacKay was accepted as an instructor candidate and transferred into the reserves. He credited his personal success to outstanding mentors who encouraged him to complete all of his goals, including graduating from the Defense Department Fire Academy at the age of 47.

"There were many times my mentors set me up for success, both personally and professionally," MacKay said. "I hope to pay that forward and give our newest airmen the tools they need to thrive in today's Air Force."

MacKay, who has another daughter currently serving in the Air Force as an air traffic controller, said he feels an immense amount of pride in both of his daughter's careers.

Family Pride in Service

"I have always been proud of my daughters and their military careers," MacKay said. "When (Amanda) told me she had been accepted into the instructor program, I was thrilled. I think she has the same passion for teaching and mentoring others as I do, and I believe she will find this position as challenging and rewarding as anything she's done previously."

MacFarlane said she’s always been proud of her father's service and professionalism and that she looks up to him for being a positive influence.

"I'm also proud to have this chance to be a part of [basic military training] and to be able to help prepare men and women for their careers as airmen," she continued. "I get to serve alongside my Air Force family as well as my actual family, and that means a lot to me."