Tuesday, April 28, 2015

NASA astronaut, Miracle on Hudson copilot, Outstanding ANG Airman to headline Executive Safety Summit

by Staff Sgt. John E. Hillier
Air National Guard Readiness Center Public Affairs

4/24/2015 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- The Air National Guard Safety Office announced that guest speakers slated for the upcoming Executive Safety Summit will include NASA astronaut US Navy Capt. Barry E. Wilmore, US Airways pilot Jeff Skiles, the co-pilot of the "Miracle on the Hudson" US Airways Flight 1549, and Tech. Sgt. Douglas Matthews, silver star recipient and the Air National Guard's 2014 Outstanding Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

The Executive Safety Summit held this year at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, brings adjutants general, wing commanders, wing command chiefs, and other senior leaders from across the ANG to discuss safety, risk engineering, cross-cultural negotiation and lessons learned over the past year of operations.

Director of the Air National Guard and host for the summit, Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, provided this overview, "Our straight-forward objective is to identify and address strategic challenges to mission readiness and Airmen resilience at the executive level across the Air National Guard."

"Virtually all mishaps come down to managing risk and human factors. Some military missions must be accomplished, despite the inherent risk," said Col. Edward L. Vaughan, ANG Director of safety. "Summits like this permit us to understand those risk factors and better address them. In a resource-constrained environment, we rely on the creativity and innovation of our spectacular ANG airmen to manage that risk."

Wilmore has been with NASA for almost 15 years. He most recently served as the commander of the International Space Station from November 2014 to February 2015. At NASA, he previously served as the pilot for STS-129 which delivered components and supplies to ISS, also as a technical expert on propulsion systems, and as launch and landing operations support at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

During his tenure as a fleet Naval officer and pilot, Wilmore completed four operational deployments, flying US Navy A-7E and FA-18 aircraft from the decks of the USS Forrestal, USS Kennedy, USS Enterprise and the USS Eisenhower aircraft carriers. He has flown missions in support of Operations Desert Storm, Desert Shield and Southern Watch over the skies of Iraq, as well as missions over Bosnia in support of United States and NATO interests.

Skiles, along with Captain Chesley Sullenberger, became national figures when they landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River after the aircraft suffered dual engine failure from a bird strike during the plane's climb out. Their quick thinking and calm professionalism in a crisis saved the lives of all 155 passengers and crew on-board while performing what the National Transportation Safety Board called "the most successful ditching in aviation history."

Skiles has been flying for US Airways for 23 years as a first officer and captain. He began flying at age 16, and has more than 15,000 hours of flight experience. During his career, he has also been a flight instructor, as well as a cargo and commuter airline pilot.

Matthews is a combat controller from the Oregon Air National Guard's 125th Special Tactics Squadron, who was awarded the Silver Star for his gallantry in combat after his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device in November 2012, in Afghanistan. The explosion injured Matthews and triggered a large-scale ambush on his patrol. Despite his exposed position, he coordinated close-air support against enemy forces. He refused medical evacuation to remain and engaged the enemy with multiple air platforms, which allowed his team to break contact and return to base--remarkably with no loss of life. Matthews was named the 2014 ANG Outstanding NCO of the year, and was selected as one of the 12 Air Force Outstanding Airmen of the Year.

"The real value from this summit is when leaders share this information with their Airmen," said Vaughn. "Our senior leadership will learn a great deal from the knowledge and experience of all of our presenters, and take that back to their units."

USS Farragut Responds to Distress Call From Maersk Tigris

By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, April 28, 2015 – U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain answered a distress call this morning issued by the Maersk Tigris container ship, after an Iranian Navy ship fired shots across its bridge and Iranian personnel boarded the commercial vessel, a Pentagon spokesman said today.

Army Col. Steve Warren told members of the Pentagon press corps that at about 2:05 a.m. Eastern Time, several Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, or IRGCN, patrol vessels approached the M/V Maersk Tigris, a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo vessel.

The commercial ship was in Iranian territorial waters transiting inbound, or north, in the Strait of Hormuz, between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman in the Arabian Sea. It is one of the world’s major strategic choke points, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Shots Across the Bridge

“The ship's master was contacted and directed to proceed further into Iranian territorial waters. He declined and one of the IRGCN craft fired shots across the bridge of the Maersk Tigris,” Warren said.

After this, the master complied with the Iranian demand and proceeded into Iranian waters near Larak Island, Warren said. Larak Island is off the coast of Iran in the Persian Gulf.

Warren said the Maersk is still at sea. Initial reports are that members of the Iranian IRGCN have boarded her and there are no further updates, he added.

Navcent, having picked up the distress signal, directed the USS Farragut, an Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, to proceed to the nearest location of the Maersk Tigris, Warren said.

Navcent also directed a Navy maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft to observe the interaction between the Maersk vessel and the IRGCN craft, he added.

The Tigris’s destination, according to a marine-traffic website, was Jebel Ali, a port town 22 miles southwest of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Under a Marshall Islands Flag

Maersk is a Danish company, but the Maersk Tigris was sailing under a Marshall Islands flag.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands is a sovereign nation for which the United States has full authority and responsibility for security and defense under the terms of an amended compact that entered into force in 2004.

The United States and the Marshall Islands have full diplomatic relations, according to the U.S. State Department.

Navcent is the U.S. Navy element of U.S. Central Command. Its area of responsibility includes the Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. Navcent consists of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and other subordinate task forces.

“Navcent is communicating with representatives of the shipping company,” Warren said. “We continue to monitor the situation.”

Innocent Passage

The Pentagon spokesman said the Strait of Hormuz is in Iranian territorial waters, which is within 12 miles of the Iranian coast.

But, he said, because the narrow strait is recognized as containing international shipping lanes, the principle of “innocent passage” is applied, so ships that abide by international rules of the sea are authorized to pass through the strait.

Warren said that there are no Americans among the 30 or so people aboard the Maersk Tigris.

Club Day: 4th Fighter Wing initiative reinvigorates Airman morale, networking

by Senior Airman John Nieves Camacho
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

4/28/2015 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C.  -- The second Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Club Day was held at the dorm campus, here, April 24.

Club Day is part of the "Make It Better" initiative from 4th Fighter Wing leadership to raise morale by getting Airmen to network through common interests.

"Club Day assists the 4th FW population with finding avenues to be a part of activities or programs that are enriching," said Senior Master Sgt. Keith Castille, 4th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron armament flight superintendent. "These activities will promote camaraderie and esprit de corps throughout the wing, which in turn will spread like wild fire throughout the community. It gives everyone purpose and hope and aids in combatting defeating behaviors that can lead to negative trends."

Currently, there are more than 75 clubs on base, ranging from computer building to live action role playing. More than 20 clubs were showcased at Club Day to generate interest in their passions, as well as expand horizons. Additionally, live music and entertainment was provided by the Seymour Johnson Live and DJ clubs.

Since the first Club Day that saw more than hundreds of attendees, word of the clubs has spread base-wide with the assistance of the Make It Better team, a group of leaders dedicated to making opportunities for voices to be heard.

"The MIB (team) takes the ideas of our populace and turns them into action," said Castille. "This action leads to productive events that meet the wing's intent of taking care of Airmen and their families."

Col. Mark Slocum, 4th FW commander, held multiple commander's calls throughout the day to address numerous topics, such as sexual assault prevention and new base venues opening up.

"I have to thank everyone for doing things right around here," Slocum said. "That is enabling us time to concentrate on (our) quality of life."

Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Craver, 4th FW command chief, also spoke at the all calls, discussing topics like the Make It Better initiative and mentorship.

"You have no idea how impressive you are each and every day," Craver said to the audience. "The fact that we continue to make this mission happen with the people that we have and the shortages, the financial and physical constraints; it's amazing. It's a testament to your professionalism and dedication to this mission. Colonel Slocum and I have the best job in the world, because we get to lead and support some of the best that we have to offer. So thank you very much."

Castille believes toward the end of the year, the MIB initiative will be stronger than ever.

"We believe MIB is the start of a revolution, a revolution of good." Castille said. "By the end of 2015, there will be over 100 clubs servicing the 4th FW. There will be events and programs throughout the base and local community assisting in bringing balance in everyone's lives. It will be successful because it is built by our Total Force, for our Total Force."

Two Airmen nominated for A/TA young leadership awards

by Senior Airman Krystal Ardrey
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

4/28/2015 - INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey  -- Our Air Force's commitment to air superiority is not based in our equipment, but in our Airmen.

The Airlift/Tanker Association hosts several awards to recognize outstanding performers in air mobility actives. Recently, two Airmen were chosen as the U.S. Air Forces in Europe - U.S. Air Forces Africa nominees for the 2015 Airlift/Tanker Association Young Leadership Awards. Capt. Tyler Perry, 39th Air Base Wing executive officer, and Master Sgt. Kenneth Daugherty III, 39th Communications Squadron section chief, were these Airmen.

The ATAYLA focuses on identifying both officer and enlisted Airmen who show outstanding leadership and performance excellence in Air Mobility Command related jobs. Having won at the USAFE-AFAFRICA level, Perry and Daugherty will move on as the USAFE-AFAFRICA nominees to compete at the Air Force-level to try to place in one of the 12 ATAYLA committee member positions.

If chosen to be committee members, both Daugherty and Perry will serve as a focal point for young leader activities, generate new ideas to enhance the Airlift/Tanker Association and be involved in their local chapters by promoting the A/TA and recruiting new members into the association.

After the committee members are selected, the committee will elect two of the winners to serve as primary young leader advisors to the A/TA Board of Officers. In the position, the two officers will attend chair meetings of the Young Leader Advisory Committee, act as a spokesperson for the committee and assist the board with organizational duties at the annual convention.

Perry was nominated due to accumulating more than 1,400 flying hours during his previous assignment at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. While there, he also sustained three deployments and supported three separate operations.

Daugherty earned his nomination due to his leadership abilities. He currently leads eight personnel in providing command, control, communications, computers and information services to the more than 5,000 military and civilian personnel at the 39th ABW, tenant and geographically separated units.

In the coming months, Perry and Daugherty will compete at the Air Force-level.

JB MDL hosts large scale, multi-agency exercise

by Spc. Devon Bistarkey
444th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

4/24/2015 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Their wails of pain sound real, their wounds look tangible, as the crowd of men and women move toward the initial chemical response zone during a Homeland Emergency Response Force training exercise on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst April 17, 2015.

The week-long simulated, multiphase incident scenario training was hosted at the Joint Base and involved partnerships between state, federal and local agencies, including New Jersey and New York National Guard units, state police, and urban search and rescue.

"Their day started on the Dix side of the joint base with a convoy of 41 vehicles that deployed to Lakehurst," said Steven Robertson, 87th Civil Engineer Squadron readiness and emergency management chief. "Once they arrived, were briefed on their requested mission and accepted the assignment, all units deployed their individual equipment sets and personnel to work in a coordinated fashion to support the exercise incident commander's objectives."

In hazardous material suits, participants secured the area, organized and treated disaster victims.  The simulated scenario involved emergency personnel responding to a building collapse, rescuing the 600 people inside and providing care to 180 casualties.

"The NJ State Police Task Force 1 (Urban Search and Rescue Team) collapse training area, located on the Lakehurst side of the JB, was an ideal location to conduct this type field exercise," said Robertson.

Role players in full makeup emerged from an engineered pile of rubble appearing disoriented and injured - that's when the exercise participants kicked into high gear and responded immediately to the situation.

"In [the Joint Base's Office of Emergency Management], we always welcome the opportunity to participate in any exercise that minimizes simulations, allows a realistic and complete test of capability and furthers interoperable relationships," said Robertson. " This HRF exercise was a major-league example of how a cooperative spirit can directly translate to individual and regional operational excellence."

Realistic interoperability drills among a variety of agencies like this ensures that agencies are trained, equipped and prepared to respond to disasters at a moment's notice, according to Robertson.

"JB MDL's central New Jersey location provides superb regional options for operations," he continued. "This, coupled with a unique and extensive portfolio of highly capable mission and skill sets from across the entire installation, enables MDL to support a wide range of events in our region.  Unrivaled mission partner collaboration is a key to MDL's success in providing rapid and responsive emergency services and world-class base and event support.  In addition, the lynchpin to our highly effective regional operations is the tremendously positive and close working relationships we have with (local agencies)."

At the conclusion of the exercise, the simulated victims are treated and the scene is cleared - an ideal ending to any situation.

"As infantrymen, we're used to engaging, but today we're here to help civilians on the home front," said Spc. Joesph Margeotes of Colonia, New Jersey.

Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs Office edited this story.

Face of Defense: From Bare Feet to Combat Boots

By Marine Pfc. Alvin Pujols
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif., April 27, 2015 – People come from around the world to join the ranks of the U.S. Marine Corps. For one Marine in particular, earning the title meant the biggest opportunity of his life.

Being born in Colon, Panama, Marine Cpl. Osmar S. Gorish couldn’t imagine that one day he would be in charge of a $2 million piece of equipment for the Corps.

“We used to play soccer in the streets barefoot and our toys consisted of bike tire rims being pushed by clothes hangers,” said Gorish, now a section chief for Battery A, 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

“We made a makeshift foosball [game] out of a shoe box, clip hangers and a shaved down rock,” Gorish said.

A Big Blue Banner

When Gorish’s mother married his stepfather, he was given the opportunity to come to the United Sates and become a naturalized citizen. He and his family moved to Dallas, where Gorish finished high school.

During a job fair at his high school, Gorish noticed a man in blue with a big blue banner reading “MARINES” and quickly approached. He explained that he did not speak English very well and told the recruiter his story.

“The Marine recruiter was not only the first to call me back, but the only one that showed interest of all the recruiters I talked to,” Gorish said.

Gorish decided to take the opportunity and left for Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego on Sept. 5, 2011, with an open contract. He learned he was to become a field artillery cannoneer and after completing Marine combat training, he was off to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for field artillery school.

Ambition Leads to Leadership

Gorish was then stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, with 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, where he gained more hands-on experience with artillery. As his capabilities grew, Gorish learned to perform the responsibilities of each of the crew positions in the M777A2 155mm Medium Towed Howitzer.

Marine Cpl. Jonathan V. Morales, an assistant gunner for Battery A, said Gorish was always a hard worker and always a team player.

With his ambition driving him, Gorish soon went to school to become a gun chief, which meant he would now be leading the Marines he had been working with for years.

“Gorish was very nervous his first field operation as chief,” said Marine Cpl. Jose S. Perez, a gunner for Battery A. “He kept asking the gun section how he was doing and was more like a team member with a leadership role.”

Close, Proficient Team

Marine Staff Sgt. Miguel A. Placido, the battery gunnery sergeant, said after a year as a chief, Gorish has now become a great leader with a close team. He grew with his team since they were privates and has even deployed with his Marines, Placido added.

Gorish and his team have become so proficient in their field that not even the audience of Maj. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, the commanding general of the 1st Marine Division, could rattle their focus and precision during a live-fire mission.

The gun respects Gorish not only because he sweats with us but because he looks after his team, Cpl. Michael A. Chavez, a field artillery canoneer with Battery A, said.

“His hard work and dedication to what he does has created a really tight knit [team],” Placido said. “He leads his peers well.”

With his enlistment coming to an end, Gorish said he’s grateful for the opportunity the United States Marine Corps has given him. He said he plans to study computer science when he returns to Dallas.

Airstrikes Hit ISIL in Syria, Iraq

From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release

SOUTHWEST ASIA, April 28, 2015 – U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Airstrikes in Syria

Attack and fighter aircraft conducted four airstrikes in Syria:

-- Near Hasakah, three airstrikes struck two ISIL fighting positions, destroying an ISIL armored vehicle.

-- Near Kobani, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

Airstrikes in Iraq

Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 16 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:

-- Near Huwayjah, two airstrikes struck two ISIL staging areas.

-- Near Beiji, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying two ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL warehouses and an ISIL motorcycle.

-- Near Fallujah, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying two ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL vehicle bombs, an ISIL mortar system and an ISIL heavy machine gun.

-- Near Mosul, five airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and two ISIL checkpoints, destroying two ISIL excavators, an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Ramadi, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL excavator.

-- Near Sinjar, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL building and an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Tal Afar, three airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units, destroying an ISIL excavator, an ISIL building and an ISIL machine gun.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region, and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project terror and conduct operations, officials said.

Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.