Military News

Thursday, April 16, 2015

297th BFSB conducts training in Bethel

by Sgt. Marisa Lindsay
ANG Public Affairs


4/16/2015 - BETHEL, Alaska -- Alaska Army National Guardsmen with the 297th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade conducted their two-week annual training in Bethel and outlying villages last month, concluding April 1.

The region's ice-covered tundra and frozen river provided an ideal environment for arctic air and land training operations.

With a population of over 6,000, Bethel - located at the mouth of the Kuskokwim River 40 miles from the Bering Sea - lies in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, 400 air miles from Anchorage.

The Guardsmen received guidance on how to safely use arctic specialty equipment under harsh winter conditions, while simultaneously protecting themselves and each other from the elements.

"We saw this exercise as the perfect juncture to get reacquainted with our primary mission, and that's supporting Alaska regardless of the weather conditions we may be up against," said Maj. Aaron Kelsey, tactical command post officer for 297th BFSB. "With Alaska and its vast weather system, you never know the type of circumstances and situations you'll be facing -- this is our way of preparing our Soldiers for the what-if scenario, and what better place to engage them than Bethel's delta system."

A vital component of arctic operations and Soldier safety is the proper use of their specialty cold weather gear. The Guardsmen trained on and tested their gear for days at a time, including sleeping in tents while evening temperatures dipped to single digits.

Small unit support vehicles, unique to Alaska, played a crucial role - used to reach smaller villages as the Soldiers acquainted themselves with the 10,000-pound, heavy duty vehicle.

Terrain in Alaska can be extreme, and even more challenging depending on the region and time of year, Kelsey said. Some areas aren't accessible in the summer because travel depends on ice-covered rivers and lakes.

SUSVs help Soldiers overcome these challenges, and are an important asset to the Alaska Guard's inventory.

SUSVs were also used to transport ground-support Soldiers to create a drop zone, located on the outskirts of Bethel, and test for safe weather conditions for airborne operations.

Community awareness and involving the rural villages that surround Bethel was a priority for the exercise. Guardsmen interacted with the residents of Nightmute, Napaskiak, Toksook Bay, Kwethluk, Akiachak and Akiak. The villages each average a population of about 500 people.

"Because we conducted our annual training in Bethel, it created a long overdue opportunity for residents in rural communities and our Guardsmen to interact as a common group, to interact as Alaskans," said Sgt. 1st Class Kyle Wait, the operations non-commissioned officer for 297th BFSB. "The community and village outreach were made possible during this one training event, and the positive reception received from the greater Bethel area was overwhelming."

Students at ZJ Williams Memorial School in Napaskiak, a town approximately seven miles downriver from Bethel, received an impromptu visit and presentation by Soldiers during a break from their SUSV training on the Kuskokwim River.

A cultural day was held at the Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center and Museum in Bethel, where community leaders spoke with the Soldiers, to include a visit from the Alaska National Guard's adjutant general, Brigadier General (Alaska) Laurie Hummel.

During a one-day arctic training event in Nightmute, Guardsmen conducted funeral honors for Alaska Territorial Guardsman, Moses Tulik, and his family.

"All of these opportunities were made possible by one training event," Wait explained. "With future training and eager communities, the National Guard's presence in rural Alaska is surely to increase. We look forward to reconnecting and strengthening that relationship," he said.

Support organizations who helped to make the annual training possible included the 207th Aviation Regiment, meteorologists with the Oregon Air National Guard, and airborne drop assistance from United States Army Alaska; 176th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard; 167th Airlift Wing, West Virginia National Guard; Brigade support staff and sustainment; Veterans Affairs and various civilian organizations.

"It's not just about us," said Kesley. "It's about learning to work in tandem with a team of organizations and with the residents of our great state."

Spartan sisters in arms conduct all-female jump

by Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Love
4/25 IBCT Public Affairs


4/16/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- A single C-130 Hercules approached the drop zone and a line of paratroopers sprouted across the sky from the rear ramp.

This in itself is not a rare occurrence.

But Monday, every one of the paratroopers on the 4th Brigade (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division jump was female.

Though women were first allowed to enlist in the regular Army in 1948, women have contributed to the war effort in every U.S. war since the American Revolution in 1775 - before we were even a country.

"It's not hard for females to forget we've come a long way," said Spc. Kaitlyn Neely, a paralegal specialist in the 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion. "We used
to just be in the home taking care of children, and now we're out doing just about anything a male can do.

"Being a female in the Army today is the same as being a man in the Army. The Army doesn't treat you any differently," Neely said.

The jump, dubbed the Sisters in Arms jump, supported the Department of Defense observance of both Women's History Month and Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

"As a female in the Army, it can feel like you have more to prove," said Sgt. 1st Class LaKeshia Harris, a platoon sergeant and jumpmaster with 4th Quartermaster Company, 725th Brigade Support Battalion. "We can make things happen, and we're here to help finish the mission just as much as the males are. I believe if you try to do better every day, your work speaks for itself, regardless of gender."

The U.S. Marine Corps in Japan provided the C-130 Hercules. However, even the jumpmasters on this Army operation were female.

"I see the Army going in that direction," Harris said. "They understand that we are part of this fight just as much as the males are. The younger generations of Soldiers are looking up to us to make the progress needed to achieve and sustain equality for everyone."

Sisters In Arms started in 2012 as a forum for female Soldiers to help enhance avenues of mentorship and empowerment in order to help women reach their full potential. It has gone viral and spread through the Army worldwide.

Women serve in almost all Army occupations and make up about 15.6 percent of the active-duty Army.

193rd SOLRS earns ARC Basic Logistics Activity of the Year Award

by Tech. Sgt. Culeen Shaffer
193rd Special Operations Wing Public Affairs


4/6/2015 - MIDDLETOWN, Pa. -- 
The 193rd Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron was awarded the 2014 Air Reserve Component Base Logistics Activity of the Year Award for outstanding contribution to the success of the Air Force and Department of Defense missions.
 
The 193rd SOLRS was evaluated on direct mission support (peacetime and deployed), innovative management and quality of life programs to earn the award. The squadron has previously received this award  in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

This award is a significant honor for the squadron, said 1st Lt. Thomas Bagnell, 193rd SOLRS installation deployment officer. It shows their hard work is recognized at a national level.

Senior Airman Karl A. Hawkins, a 193rd SOLRS heavy mobile maintenance mechanic, said,  "We are told that we do great work constantly, however, this kind of national recognition really drives the point home."

Many factors contributed to the unit's award, including multiple airlifts in support of various exercises, training and deployments and enhancement of NATO ties by teaching cargo build-up, hazards and rigging to four Lithuanian soldiers and one Latvian soldier. The squadron also created a small terminal training program and assisted with the removal of approximately 500 pounds of debris from a stream outside of the base.

"Every year LRS continues to excel despite the fact that we continue to have reductions in manpower and resources. This illustrates the unwavering level of commitment the individuals of LRS display on a daily basis," said Bagnell.

Hawkins said he believes the combination of a can-do attitude coupled with a deep desire to go the extra mile is the force behind this award winning squadron.

Two Silicon Valley-based Air National Guardsmen receive national recognition

by 1Lt. Roderick Bersamina
129th Rescue Wing Public Affairs


4/14/2015 - MOFFETT FEDERAL AIRFIELD, Calif.  -- Two California Air National Guardsmen from the 129th Rescue Wing have received national honors from the Air National Guard.

Master Sgt. Sally J. Ford, 129th Mission Support Group First Sergeant, has been selected the First Sergeant of the Year for the 2015 Air National Guard. Technical Sgt. Kevin B. Centinaje, 129th Recruiting Office, has been selected the National Rookie Recruiter of the Year for 2015 by the Air National Guard.

"Today's military environment demands the best people and that's what we have here at the 129th Rescue Wing," said Col. Gregory F. Jones, 129th Rescue Wing Commander. "Two national honors in a week for the 129th is noteworthy and I applaud these two California Air Guardsmen for their achievements."

The First Sergeant of the Year award recognizes the important contributions and leadership qualities exhibited by Air National Guard members in the first sergeant special duty career field.  First sergeants provide a dedicated focal point for all readiness, health, morale, welfare and quality of life issues within their organizations.

"So much of a first sergeant's job involves working behind the scenes; it is with amazing pride that we can publicly acknowledge Master Sgt. Ford's accomplishments," said Senior Master Sgt. Lindsey Bartlett, 129th Rescue Wing First Sergeant. "Her dedication to the men and women of the 129th Rescue Wing is a testament to the core values we all hold close: Integrity First, Service before Self and Excellence in all we do."

The National Rookie Recruiter of the Year award honors the top recruiters in their first 24 months from around the country. The greatest factor for the award is production over 100% of the local recruitment goal for the year. The 129th's local goal was 50 recruits; Centinaje recruited 65 qualified candidates. Like all other candidates, Centinaje had to have also won multiple recruiting awards throughout the year for recruiting diversity and both non-prior service and prior service members.

"Technical Sgt. Centinaje is driven by his sense of family and community," said Master Sgt. Monica Roberts, 129th Recruiting Office Supervisor. "He is heavily involved in his childhood schools, which contributes to his success."

Based in the heart of Silicon Valley, the primary mission of the 129th Rescue Wing is to perform personnel recovery anywhere in the world. Equipped with MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft, HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters and Guardian Angel teams, the 129th Rescue Wing performs a wide variety of civilian and military personnel-recovery missions, including the rescue of distressed persons aboard ships, lost or injured hikers, and medical evacuations. To date, the wing is credited with saving the lives of more than 1,000 people.

AFMAO conducts first dignified transfer divert exercise at New Castle ANG Base

by Veronica Aceveda
512th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


4/6/2015 - NEW CASTLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Del. -- Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations conducted a dignified transfer divert exercise March 19 in collaboration with the 166th Airlift Wing at the New Castle Air National Guard Base, Delaware.

The mission involved up to 60 total force members executing a contingency DT plan at another location.

"We hope this is something we will not have to do, but it's something we must be prepared to do," said Capt. Matthew Frebert, the exercise officer in charge.

Cory Larsen, AFMAO's chief of operations, later explained the importance of the drill.

"In the event there's some type of weather issue or another situation which precludes an aircraft from landing at Dover [Air Force Base] due to the runway construction, the aircraft can be diverted to New Castle," Larsen said. "Today, we're transporting all our capabilities here to see how it works - including a simulated family in a surrey, driven by Dover's [Logistics Readiness Squadron]."

Three months of planning led up to this dry run, but initial dialogue regarding an alternate DT location began last summer, said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Celesky, New Castle ANG's airfield manager and the 166th AW's liaison for the exercise.

New Castle's team of guardsmen assisted with various aspects of the exercise's sequence of events as well as other logistical considerations such as staging areas for the families, distinguished visitors and parking plans.

"The Delaware Air National Guard is very proud to assist our Dover Air Force Base partners with this noble mission," said Col. Donald R. Bevis, 166th AW vice commander. "It is imperative that the families of the fallen are supported to the best of our capabilities. It is our honor to assist in keeping this critically important mission in the great state of Delaware."

The total force team conducting the divert dignified transfer for the exercise included civilians and active, reserve and guard service members from the Air Force, Army and Air National Guard.

"This exercise represents the benefits of maintaining close operational ties with our total force partners both here at Dover and at New Castle," said Col. Daniel F. Merry, AFMAO commander. "We will build upon the lessons learned and relationship forged from this event, so we can continue to successfully accomplish our 'No Fail' mission of taking care of the fallen and their families."

In addition to the essential participants of a dignified transfer, AFMAO's exercise team also included several subject matter experts from their respective fields to ensure every detail was covered at the alternate location, approximately 45 minutes north of Dover.

These members included a 436th AW protocol specialist, a contracted military family life counselor and five-time AFMAO deployer Senior Airman Omar Hall, who has served as a carry team member more than 100 times.

Near the flightline, Hall provided some coaching to first-time AFMAO deployer Senior Airman Marcus Wesley, who has served as a carry team member three times. Both Hall and Wesley are reservists deployed from the 512th Memorial Affairs Squadron.

Another AFMAO reservist on site for the exercise was Senior Airman James Arredon deployed from Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, New Jersey. His charge for the operation was as a marshaler, assisting the drivers of the families of the fallen in parking their vehicles.

"It's not the most glamorous job, but I'm proud to do it," he said. "And, I would volunteer for it every time."

While most of AFMAO's members are in tune with the dignified transfer mission, the exercise served as a first-time experience for most of the guardsmen involved.

"I felt very honored to be part of such a professional and sacred event in which loved ones and family members are cared for and for those who have fallen," said Chaplain (Capt.) Susannah Tulloch, 166th AW chaplain. "Participating in this exercise was extremely helpful in understanding how AFMAO leadership sees the importance and weightiness of their mission and the role of the chaplain."

In addition to the chaplains on site for the exercise, AFMAO members from its departures, dress and restoration, and public affairs sections fulfilled their roles associated with a DT.

There are a lot of moving pieces," said Frebert. "So, it's important to test our abilities to ensure we carry out the same dignity, honor and respect no matter where we may be diverted to." 

Education center names building in honor of former commandant, enlisted leader

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


4/10/2015 - MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. -- The I.G. Brown Training and Education Center dedicated its unnamed dormitory building April 10 in honor of a former commandant who served in the highest enlisted position in the Air National Guard.

During a naming ceremony, the former building 412 was re-named Moon Hall in honor of retired Chief Master Sgt. Richard Moon, who served as the fifth senior enlisted advisor to the Director of the Air National Guard before his retirement in 1994.

"Chief Moon, we are inspired by your contributions and it is so very fitting that we should continue to honor you with the naming of this building," said Col. Jessica Meyeraan, TEC commander.

"It is an extremely humbling experience," said Moon, who also once served as commandant for TEC's Paul H. Lankford Enlisted PME Center. "Back when I was the commandant, those who worked for me were called Moonies, and I considered that a compliment, so from this point forward, everyone in that building will be a Moonie," he said.

The multi-story, three-section brick complex holds the base's billeting offices as well as 68 dormitory rooms and 126 beds. That includes five distinguished visitors' suites named after former commandants - Moon Suite is among them.

During the dedication ceremony, Meyeraan unveiled for Moon a photograph of his memorabilia, which will be hung for display. The group also watched a time-lapse video of the Moon Hall letters being installed on the building's north, outside wall last week. Moon's wife, Margret, also watched in attendance.

"This is where it started," said Moon, who recounted his service at the TEC. "It inspired me, and the rest is history."

Moon, a lifelong Iowan, first joined the U.S. Navy in 1964. He joined the Iowa Air National Guard in 1972. He was a firefighter, a first sergeant and an instructor, among many other duties and positions.

At his career high, Moon oversaw the Air National Guard's enlisted force at a time just weeks following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the ensuing Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Considerable national events also followed during his tenure, including the Cold War's end, the Los Angeles riots, Hurricane Andrew, the bombing at the World Trade Center, the Storm of the Century, and the Northridge earthquake.

Officials credited Moon as a key figure in establishing the Air National Guard's enlisted field advisory council.

The building now bearing his name was constructed in the early '90s during the final phase of a multi-million dollar construction project. It remained undedicated after all other campus buildings were named after former TEC staff and supporters.

Moon Hall was refurbished recently with new furniture, mattresses and pillows. Some third-floor dormitory rooms offer guests open views of the surrounding Smoky Mountains from the hillside location.

Moon also gave a keynote speech during the day's NCO academy and Airman leadership school graduation ceremony.

AFMC promotes Strengthening Workplace Relationships campaign

Air Force Materiel Command Wellness Support Center

4/16/2015 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- During the months of April and May, Air Force Materiel Command will promote its Strengthening Workplace Relationships campaign.

Building and maintaining good work relationships is the key to a positive work environment. Many full-time employees spend more of their waking hours with fellow staff than they do with their families or personal friends. Co-workers rely on each other to contribute support, expertise and other resources to fulfill the AFMC mission. Benefits of establishing positive workplace relationships include enhanced teamwork, improved employee morale, increased productivity and higher employee retention rates.

To encourage positive workplace relationships:
     · Be friendly and approachable to co-workers.
     · Communicate effectively -- The best way to connect with co-workers and reduce potential conflict at work is through open and honest communication. Your co-workers are not mind readers, so it is important to understand the need for two-way communication.
     · Take responsibility -- If you fail to meet deadlines and commitments, you affect the work of other employees. If you can't complete a task on time, make sure you keep everyone involved in the loop.
     · Respect people's time -- Be mindful of a colleague's workload when you stop by to chat. During scheduled meetings, don't make others wait for you.
     · Clarify roles -- Knowing everyone's role and being familiar with the responsibility of those roles creates efficiency and flexibility. Review responsibilities when action planning.
     · Be professional -- Rise above office gossip. It can erode your credibility and trust.
     · Participate in social events -- These are great opportunities to mingle with everyone at your workplace regardless of their position. The healthy connections formed during these events will make it easier to interact at work.

Good workplace relationships and a positive work environment are important to fulfill the AFMC mission. The key to avoiding a stiff and unfriendly work environment is to treat others as you wish to be treated.

Resources on strengthening workplace relationships are available. Civilian employees can contact the Employee Assistance Program for free, confidential counseling services and in-person presentations at (800) 222-0364, or by visiting the EAP website at FOH4YOU.com. Active duty military can contact Military OneSource at (800) 342-9647, or by visiting militaryonesource.com.

For additional information on base resources for strengthening workplace relationships, visit AFMCwellness.com or contact your local Civilian Health Promotion Services team.

Submarine Group 7 Participates in SMASHEX



By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian G. Reynolds, Commander, Submarine Group 7 Deputy Public Affairs

FLEET ACTIVITIES YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Sailors attached to Submarine Group 7 and the Indonesian navy (TNI-AL) participated in training for Simulated Submarine Casualty Exercise (SMASHEX) in Surabaya, Indonesia, April 13.

SMASHEX is a table top exercise that tests the procedure for the very unlikely case of a submarine search, escape and rescue event.

Although the exercise involved no real units, it gave the participating parties insight on the measures and actions necessary in the unlikely event that a submarine finds itself in a distressed state.

Several external organizations also participated in the event, including the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office (ISMERLO) and the U.S. Navy Undersea Rescue Command (URC).

The primary focus of the SMASHEX was the actual steps taken to mobilize for a rescue. Responders coordinated which platforms would be available and the estimated time to first rescue through the ISMERLO website.

Within minutes of the alert, responders were offering assistance and preparing a plan for rescue.

USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) Returns to Singapore



By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Conor Minto, USS Fort Worth Public Affairs

CHANGI NAVAL BASE, Singapore (NNS) -- The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) returned to Singapore April 15 after a two-month stint operating in Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia.

Singapore is the maintenance and logistics hub for rotationally deployed LCSs and Fort Worth returned to port to conduct a planned maintenance availability.

"It's been a 'tour of firsts' for Fort Worth, and the LCS program as a whole, as the ship operated throughout Northeast Asia for the first time," said Capt. Fred Kacher, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7. "Through the hard work and ingenuity of our Sailors on board Fort Worth, each and every day we are realizing the true operational potential of LCS and are learning how best to employ these ships here in U.S. 7th Fleet."

Since departing Singapore in February after the first of three crew swaps, Fort Worth has completed two of her deployment milestones, which included participation in exercise Foal Eagle 2015 with the Republic of Korea Navy and a routine planned maintenance availability in Sasebo, Japan. Both events underscore Fort Worth's growing operational reach throughout U.S. 7th Fleet.

"I couldn't be more proud of the entire crew of Fort Worth for successfully completing two of our deployment milestones," said Cmdr. Matt Kawas, Fort Worth Crew 103 commanding officer. "Crew 103, along with the surface warfare mission package and air detachment, have time and time again proved that LCS has a strong future here in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and I look forward to rounding out our deployment with the same amount of success."

Prior to returning to Singapore, Fort Worth participated in Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) Vietnam with the Vietnam People's Navy April 6-10, as both nations celebrated the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2015. NEA Vietnam is designed to foster mutual understanding, build confidence in the maritime domain and strengthen relationships between the U.S. Navy, Vietnam People's Navy and the local community.

During the five-day engagement, subject-matter expert exchanges focused on maritime domain awareness, shipboard damage control, submarine rescue, band concerts, community service events, and team sports. A brief at-sea phase allowed ships from both navies to practice the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) and ship handling.

"I was really excited to get the chance to come back to Vietnam where I was born," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Peter Tassani. "Participating in community service events with the local community and engaging with the Vietnam People's Navy as a U.S. Navy Sailor was a great experience, and I hope to get the opportunity to do it again one day."

Fort Worth will depart Singapore again after her maintenance period and return for the International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference (IMDEX) 2015 just ahead of the next crew swap in late May.

Throughout the summer and fall, Fort Worth will take part in most of the 2015 Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series. In its 21st year, CARAT is an annual, bilateral exercise series with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the armed forces of nine partner nations including, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Republic of Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

Fast, agile and mission-focused, littoral combat ships are designed to operate in near-shore environments and employ modular mission packages that can be configured for surface warfare, mine countermeasures or anti-submarine warfare.

Fort Worth will employ the surface warfare (SUW) mission package for her entire deployment, augmenting her 57mm gun and rolling airframe missile launcher with two 30mm guns, two 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats, and two six-member maritime security boarding teams. Enhancing the SUW mission package is the embarked aviation detachment from Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 35, the Navy's first composite expeditionary helicopter squadron, which consists of one MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter and one MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system. The Fire Scout complements the MH-60R by extending the HSM-35's range and endurance, enhancing maritime domain awareness.

The U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy's largest numbered fleet, U.S. 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.