Military News

Friday, May 01, 2015

Water, fuel systems maintainers work around clock to keep up flow

by Airman 1st Class Joshua Smoot
36th Wing Public Affairs


5/1/2015 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam  -- Many may not know, but underneath every person's feet at Andersen Air Force Base lie unseen miles of pipeline.

It is up to the water and fuel systems specialists of the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron to not only maintain the 45 miles of fuel pipeline and 100,000 miles of water lines, but also inspect and maintain the Air Force's largest fuel storage buildings, which in total hold 66 million gallons.

Day and night, the 36th CES Airmen install, inspect, modify and repair 600 facilities that include water and wastewater treatment systems, water distribution, waste collection systems, fire suppression, backflow prevention systems and liquid fuel storage.

"Basically from the moment the water reaches the base to the moment it leaves the base as waste, it is our responsibility," said Staff Sgt. Staci Ducusin, 36th CES water and fuels systems craftsman.

The shop is composed of 13 Airmen and 20 civilians working in sync. The military members are trained to work with both water and fuels, while the civilians are specialized and hone in on their skills as liquid fuel maintainers, mechanics and plumbers.

"The beauty of having (civilians) here is that they understand these buildings, that have been renovated many times and sometimes we (military personnel) don't know how the plumbing works in there," said Staff Sgt. John Steklachick, 36th CES water and fuels systems craftsman. "It's a learning process, but experience is obviously going to take the lead."

Since water and fuels systems maintainers are trained to work with both water and fuels, they have a wide variety of skill sets and are tasked with a range of jobs throughout the day.

The utilities systems maintainers' job is to ensure Airmen always have the water they need wherever they are.

"Whenever people call about clogged toilets or backed up floor drains, we are the ones maintaining that and trying to keep flow going downstream," Steklachick said.

The crews are also trained to set up field water purification units and field water distribution systems, as well as maintain and repair permanent water facilities to bring potable water to the warfighter. They also repair, maintain or replace washers, valve seats, leaking faucets and water/sewer lines where needed.

The liquid fuels systems maintainers' job is to perform preventive and major maintenance on liquid fuel systems used for storing, distributing and dispensing gasoline and jet fuel. In addition, they manage periodic inspections on liquid fuel systems for leakage, corrosion, and faulty fittings then make necessary repairs or adjustments.

"Our job is extremely important," Steklachick said. "We deal with the quality of life. Imagine a base without water and fuel. You need a runway and water to establish an Air Force Base."


Military Contractor in Afghanistan Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Offering Bribes to a US Army Official



An independent contractor for a trucking company in Afghanistan that was responsible for delivering fuel to U.S. Army installations was sentenced to four years in prison today for offering a U.S. Army serviceman $54,000 in bribes to falsify documents confirming the receipt of fuel shipments that were never actually delivered.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Kelly T. Currie of the Eastern District of New York, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko, Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez of the FBI’s New York Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer Jr. of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations’ (ICE-HSI) New York Field Office and Director Frank Robey of the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID) made the announcement.

Akbar Ahmed Sherzai, 50, of Centreville, Virginia, pleaded guilty on Feb. 14, 2014, to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery.  In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Margo K. Brodie of the Eastern District of New York ordered Sherzai to forfeit $54,000.

In connection with his guilty plea and in other court documents, Sherzai acknowledged that he was employed by a local Afghan trucking company contracted to transport fuel between U.S. military bases in Afghanistan.  Sherzai acknowledged that, in April 2013, he approached a U.S. military serviceman to discuss instances in which his company failed to deliver the fuel—called “no-show” missions—which resulted in a $75,000 fine to his company for each no-show.  Sherzai admitted that he offered the serviceman bribes to falsify documents to confirm deliveries, so that Sherzai’s company and others could recover the fines they had paid for no-shows.  On several occasions, Sherzai paid cash bribes to the serviceman, who, unbeknownst to Sherzai, was working with law enforcement.  In total, Sherzai acknowledged that he paid the serviceman $54,000 to falsify documents relating to nine deliveries, allowing his company and others to avoid or recover $675,000 in fines.

This matter was investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, FBI, ICE-HSI and CID.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Daniel Butler of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Amir H. Toossi of the Eastern District of New York.

Navy to Escort U.S.-Flagged Ships in Strait of Hormuz



By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2015 – Ships from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain have begun accompanying U.S.-flagged maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, Defense Department officials said.

Sufficient U.S. naval forces are assigned to the command to meet the requirements of the accompanying mission, officials said, adding that Navcent will coordinate with shipping-industry representatives to ensure the operations go smoothly and efficiently.

The mission was prompted by two incidents this week in the Strait of Hormuz in which Iranian navy patrol vessels harassed commercial motor vessels traversing the strait.

On April 24, four Iranian patrol boats approached the U.S.-flagged merchant ship Maersk Kensington, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said during an April 29 briefing.

First Incident

“The boats came astern of the Kensington and followed her for 15 or 20 minutes in actions that the Kensington’s master interpreted as aggressive,” he added.

There was no U.S. military involvement at the time, but after the incident, the ship's master filed a report with Navcent, Warren said.

“It's difficult to know exactly why the Iranians are operating this way,” Warren said. “We certainly call on them to respect all the internationally established rules of freedom of navigation, the law of the sea to which they are a signatory, and other established protocols.”

Then on April 28 at about 2:05 a.m. EST, Iranian patrol vessels approached the M/V Maersk Tigris, a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo vessel, Warren said in a briefing that day.

Maersk Tigris

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 security 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, and the security compact between the two nations includes matters related to vessels flying the Marshallese flag.

The Maersk Tigris was in Iranian territorial waters that also contain internationally recognized commercial shipping lanes, Warren said, adding that the Strait of Hormuz is in Iranian territorial waters, which is within 12 miles of the Iranian coast. But because the narrow strait is recognized as containing international shipping lanes, he added, the principle of “innocent passage” is applied, so ships that abide by international rules of the sea are authorized to pass through the strait.

Innocent Passage

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

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

“The ship's master was contacted [by one of the Iranian ships] and directed to proceed further into Iranian territorial waters,” Warren said during an April 28 briefing. “He declined, and one of the [Iranian] craft fired shots across the bridge of the Maersk Tigris.”

Afterward, the master complied with the Iranian demand and motored into Iranian waters near Larak Island, Warren said. Larak Island is off the coast of Iran in the Persian Gulf. The master then issued a distress call.

Boarding the Tigris

Warren said initial reports indicated that members of the Iranian navy had boarded the Tigris. Navcent, having picked up the distress signal, directed the USS Farragut, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, to proceed to the nearest location to 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 Iranian 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.

Maritime Security Operations

During an April 29 briefing, Warren said the USS Farragut was operating along with three U.S. Navy Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships -- the USS Typhoon, the USS Thunderbolt and the USS Firebolt -- all stationed in Manama, Bahrain.

The ships are conducting maritime security operations, maintaining continual U.S. presence and supporting the monitoring of the Maersk Tigris, which is at anchor near Larak Island and Bandar Abbas, he said.

“As is always the case, these assets give commanders options,” Warren said, adding that the U.S. government is in discussions with the Marshall Islands on the way ahead.

Warren said the Navy ships’ mission is to conduct maritime security operations, “but what they’re doing is keeping an eye on things.”

Traversing the Strait

All of the ships are operating in the Persian Gulf, in the Strait of Hormuz, near where the Maersk Tigris incident occurred, he added. They are close enough to the Maersk Tigris, Warren said, “that they'll be able to respond if a response is required.”

“Two [incidents] within four or five days has certainly created a situation where maritime cargo vessels presumably would have to consider the risks of traversing that strait,” he added.

Warren said that Iran's motive is not clear to the Defense Department and that DoD is not in contact with the Iranian government.

Developing Team Aviano

by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


4/30/2015 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Team Aviano members here, recently had the opportunity to participate in a culture of excellence seminar geared to develop the attributes that enhance human relationships.

The seminar, led by Col. Jeffrey Smith, Air Force Profession of Arms Center of Excellence director from Joint Base San Antonio in Randolph, Texas discussed the importance of understanding human psychology to grow into better individuals who lead Airmen.

"[I am here] to talk about various characteristics of being better people, leaders, spouses, parents and the tools and techniques to consider when on that journey," said Smith.

The seminar's content, focused on enhancing human capital, and discussed the tools to help bring out in every individual which in turn may bring out the best in others.  According to Smith, this concept is important, especially for individuals in leadership roles, because it helps them understand the reasons why their Airmen work in particular ways.  It also aids in developing environments that increase commitment, loyalty and trust.

"If we can develop these three attributes, we can then have better relationships with our kids, spouses, friends, neighbors and those we work with," said Smith. "But we have to deliberately engineer that; it's something we have to do because it doesn't just happen."

Smith also adds that fostering effective relationships may increase a positive influence.  With these tools and the understanding learned during the seminar, Team Aviano leaders can better support their teams to execute the daily mission.

"My hope is that they learn based on a different way of teaching rather than just knowledge," said Smith. "The course calls for a challenge, the idea is that people are challenged and inspired to try and make a positive difference in the lives of other people."

AFGSC maintainers win 2014 AF-level maintenance award

by Carla Pampe
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs


5/1/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The men and women of Air Force Global Strike Command's logistics, installation and mission support directorate recently earned the 2015 Gen Wilbur L. Creech Maintenance Excellence Award, given to the major command demonstrating the most improved performance in the category of aircraft maintenance and logistics readiness for each fiscal year.

During the time period of Oct. 1, 2013, through Sept. 30, 2014, AFGSC significantly improved the logistics and aircraft maintenance performance for its 56 assigned B-52H bombers, 19 assigned B-2A bombers and 25 assigned UH-1N helicopters.

"The men and women of AFGSC are very excited about winning the 2014 Gen Creech Award and it is a true testament of our Airmen's hard work," Lawrence Kingsley, director of the A4/7 logistics, installation and mission support directorate, said. "Through close relationships with each wing, our staff has and will continue to aggressively work sustainment issues with our partners in Air Force Materiel Command to ensure we are not only meeting today's needs but accurately forecasting tomorrow's requirements."

He added that the metric improvements sited in this award were a culmination of remarkable logistics efforts by the enterprise.

Contributing to the award was an active involvement by the team of A4 and A5 professionals, which highlighted opportunities to improve support at the tactical level, said Col. Carey Tucker, A4/7 deputy director.

"As an example, the B-52 team identified a window shortage and worked directly with the System Program Office Defense Logistics Agency to streamline the inspection requirements," Tucker said. "These actions shaved month's off of estimated deliveries and resolved the shortfall."

In order to determine what improvements needed to be made, monitoring of fleet-wide metrics was done on a daily basis.

"Through daily wing interaction and extensive analysis, our staff is intimately aware of and aggressively works to resolve logistic challenges," Steve Brunts, aircraft maintenance division chief, said. "In addition to working current supply drivers, the enterprise is also focused on attacking tomorrow's supply shortfalls through predictive analysis with the goal of having contracts and stock levels in place to meet future demands."

The AFGSC team had to overcome a number of challenges, which helped contribute to their winning the Creech award.

From March to November 2014, Minot's runway was closed for repair. As a result, the 5th Bomb Wing had to operate from three different locations.

"This created strain on manpower, supply and equipment while continuing to meet AFGSC, PACOM and STRATCOM requirements," Brunts said. "We had to take an unprecedented approach to ensure our nuclear commitment was met. This was accomplished through extraordinary maintenance actions that kept the aircraft in flying condition despite not having an operational runway."

Another challenge was the operational loss of UH-1N helicopters.

"Since 2010, AFGSC has experienced two aircraft mishaps with the most current in 2013. With the efforts of our staff, a fast-track approval to repair a crash damage UH-1N in lieu of disposal was obtained and is scheduled to deliver in November 2015," Brunts said. "Additionally, a replacement aircraft was moved from another command to "fill the gap" until the repaired aircraft is returned."

Kingsley said winning the award is really is a testament to the entire aircraft sustainment enterprise.

"It starts with the exceptional maintenance execution accomplished by the maintainers in the wing with the support of the headquarters staff and the AFMC sustainment team," he said. "This is truly an enterprise accomplishment that embodies a team effort. An award like the General Creech gives us confidence that as a focused team, we're meeting our goals and the mission of the Air Force and this nation."

Arkansas Guard Airmen impart milling, asphalt training

by Senior Airman Cody Martin
188th Wing


4/30/2015 - FORT SMITH, Ark. -- Members of the 188th Civil Engineer Squadron at Ebbing Air National Guard Base here provided training for milling and asphalt from April 13-24 to a member of the Ohio Air National Guard's 200th Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer Squadron, as well as members of the 188th Wing requiring recertification.

The 188th CES RED HORSE Training Center is the first in the Air National Guard and provides special capabilities training for RED HORSE personnel, including recertification, which occurs every three years.

The milling and asphalt training occurred on the airfield damage repair pad and Senior Master Sgt. Robert Haag II, RHTC senior instructor, provided critical oversight for the training.

"We are doing the asphalt paving and milling training," Haag said. "We also do special capabilities training with volumetric mixing, which is mixing up concrete in a portable concrete batch plant, concrete paving, crane operations and horizontal drilling."

The milling class instructed civil engineers on the functions of the machines used as well as hands-on training by physically milling a strip of asphalt that was laid down. The milling machine can mill a surface from just skimming it to milling a strip of asphalt six inches deep.

Asphalt training involved different scenarios with various road conditions featuring overhead power lines, intersections, curbs, gutters and parking lots. The Airmen are instructed on different ways to lay the asphalt out and the process of how to roll it.

"This training teaches us to implement good instruction techniques to the students coming through," Haag said. "For the students, they can take the knowledge they learned here and pass that knowledge to other Airmen."

Airman 1st Class Andrew Sneeringer, 200th RHS member, attended the training provided at the 188th Wing and impressed his instructors.

"Sneeringer was very attentive and did an outstanding job with learning how the machines operated while also performing excellent hands-on training with both machines," Haag said. "The knowledge for which he gained operating the asphalt paver and the milling machine will prove to be invaluable to him and to his unit on jobs he will be faced with in the future."

The 188th RHTC will be hosting a group of Airmen from the 203rd RHS during the May unit training assembly and have scheduled multiple classes later in May and throughout the rest of the fiscal year. The classes will include volumetric mixing, concrete paving, and further instruction on asphalt paving and milling.

DC Air Guard deploys for 'RED FLAG-Alaska'

by Airman 1st Class Anthony Small
113th Wing Public Affairs


5/1/2015 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md.  -- Nearly 200 Airmen and 10 Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcons from the 113th Wing, District of Columbia Air National Guard, recently deployed to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, which is located 25 miles south of Fairbanks, Alaska, in support of exercise Red Flag-Alaska.

Red Flag-Alaska, which runs from April 30 to May 17, is a multi-national, air combat training exercises involving multiple units whose military mission sets differ significantly from that of other participating units.

"Taking part in Red Flag-Alaska is about training in realistic environments under realistic circumstances," said Brig. Gen. George M. Degnon, 113th Wing commander. Red Flag ensures our 'Capital Guardians' maintain the highest levels of proficiency and readiness for protecting our nation's Capital and their world-wide assignments."

All Red Flag-Alaska exercises take place in the Joint Pacific Range Complex over Alaska as well as a portion of Western Canadian airspace. The entire airspace is made up of extensive Military Operations Areas, Special Use Airspace, and ranges, for a total airspace of more than 67,000 square miles, slightly larger than the size of the state of Florida.

"This is a great opportunity to train with allied nations and experience working with live munitions," said Degnon. "This training simulates the first 10 days of combat in a war."

On average, more than 1,000 people and up to 60 aircraft deploy to Eielson AFB, and an additional 500 people and 40 aircraft deploy to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, located 10 miles northeast of Anchorage, Alaska, for each Red Flag-Alaska exercise. Most participating Red Flag-Alaska units arrive a week prior to the actual exercise. During that time, aircrews may fly one or two range orientation flights, make physical and mental preparations, hone up on local flying restrictions, receive local safety and survival briefings, and work on developing orientation plans.

The 113th Wing provides air sovereignty forces to defend the Nation's Capital and also provides fighter, airlift and support forces capable of local, national and global employment.

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy to Persian Gulf to provide airlift for Freedom's Sentinel

b
y Maj. Dale Greer
123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


4/24/2015 - KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The third rotation of more than 40 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen departed here today for deployment to an undisclosed air base in the Persian Gulf, where they will fly airlift missions in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel.

Freedom's Sentinel is the follow-on mission to Operation Enduring Freedom. It focuses on training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces; and on counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan.

Kentucky's adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, thanked the deploying Airmen for their continued commitment to military operations all over the world.

"The 123rd Airlift Wing has been engaged in the Global War on Terror from the beginning, and I know you will be a part of this fight until the very end," Tonini told the Airmen in a briefing just before their departure.

"When our nation, our Air Force and our Commonwealth needs the best, they call on you. I have the utmost trust and confidence in your abilities to conduct your mission while overseas, and I thank you for stepping up once again to answer our nation's call," said Tonini.

The director of the state Board of Elections, Matt Selph, also was on hand to wish the Airmen farewell as a representative of Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky's secretary of state.

"As a former Army first sergeant in the reconnaissance field who spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan being transported on C-130s by men and women just like you,"  I'd like to relay on behalf of Secretary Grimes how thankful we are for the jobs that you do and the scarifies that your families make," Selph said.

"I know I was thankful that men and women like you were able to get me and my troops deployed and redeployed safely," Selph said.

The Airmen, who departed aboard a Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft, will replace earlier rotations of Kentucky Airmen who deployed in February. While overseas, the Airmen are expected to transport troops and cargo supporting a range of coalition military operations in the United States Central Command Area of Responsibility, which includes Afghanistan, Northern Africa and the Persian Gulf. Deploying Airmen include aircrew members, aircraft maintenance personnel and support staff.

The mission is expected to conclude by early July.

The deployment marks the sixth time in the past 12 years that the Kentucky ANG has sent its aircraft, aircrews and maintenance personnel to support U.S. military operations in the U.S. Central Command AOR. The wing deployed aviation assets there in 2003, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012, operating from multiple undisclosed locations and Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.

The wing's non-aviation personnel also have been heavily engaged around the world since Sept. 11, 2001, logging thousands of deployments to dozens of overseas locations, including Iraq and Afghanistan. In October, more than 70 of the wing's Airmen deployed to Africa to support Operation United Assistance, the international effort to fight the worst Ebola outbreak in history.