Thursday, May 21, 2015

Air Force leaders’ Memorial Day message

By Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, / Published May 21, 2015

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III send the following Memorial Day message to the Airmen of the Air Force and their families:

To the Airmen of the United States Air Force and their Families:

On Memorial Day, Americans pause in solemn remembrance of the more than one million Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who gave their lives to secure our freedoms. American flags will be lowered to half-staff in town squares, on military bases, private homes, and American government facilities around the world in everlasting tribute to those who gave their all in our Nation’s defense.

This year is particularly poignant as it marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. With each passing day, the memories of war, the faces of the fallen, and the stories of heroism in battle fade as the surviving members of the Greatest Generation become fewer. Their spirit of sacrifice and devotion to duty, however, remain steadfast. America’s debt to its brave servicemen and women is one that can only be repaid by continuing their legacy of patriotism and valor. To the families of all who have served and who serve today, we offer our humble gratitude on behalf of a grateful nation.

At noon on Memorial Day, flags will once again be raised to full staff – a symbol of the resilience of America and those who serve her even today in countless areas around the globe. To those who are currently defending our Nation, we say “thank you!” We are privileged to stand with you in service to the United States of America.

Wolfenbarger wins Air Force Small Business Director’s Award

by Stacey Geiger
Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs

5/21/2015 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Air Force Director of Small Business Programs Mark Teskey presented Air Force Materiel Command Commander Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger the 2014 Secretary of the Air Force Small Business Director's Beyond Goals Award during a May 20 visit to headquarters here.

This award recognizes outstanding leadership in support of the Air Force Small Business Program. Wolfenbarger was critical to the program's successes and achievements by increasing small business contract awards through various initiatives, tools and policies.  She demonstrated her commitment to improving the small business program by directing the reporting of small business execution as part of the command's strategic plan.  During fiscal year 2014, AFMC achieved $3.7 billion dollars in small business contracts.

The Secretary of the Air Force Annual Small Business Awards Program recognizes teams and individuals who have contributed significantly to strengthening the industrial base and meeting warfighter needs through an array of small business capabilities that bring innovation, agility and efficiency. AFMC managed approximately 65 percent of the Air Force contracts and 46 percent of the Air Force small business prime awards.

ALCOM, USCG District 17 host Arctic General Officer/Flag Officer conference

by Tech. Sgt. John Gordinier
Alaskan Command Public Affairs

5/20/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- Alaskan Command and U.S. Coast Guard District 17 hosted an Arctic General Officer/Flag Officer (GO/FO) Conference April 29 - May 1, which included flag officers and senior enlisted leaders from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, Alaska National Guard and Canadian Forces, to strengthen partnerships and discuss future Arctic and Alaskan challenges and joint capabilities.

"The GO/FO conference presents an ideal way to bring Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security leaders together to discuss current and future Arctic issues and challenges," said Lt. Gen. Russ Handy, commander of Alaskan Command.  "This is particularly pertinent for us, given the recent transition of the chairmanship of the Arctic Council to the U.S."

"Another purpose of the conference is to increase capabilities, bring forces together from a variety of different components, joint and coalition, in order to increase our understanding and collective capabilities," Handy continued. "That way, if a crisis occurs and you are thrust into a partnership and leadership responsibility, we will be better prepared and understand each other's capabilities to enhance our ability to save lives and shift the tide of a contingency."

For this GO/FO conference, the attendees visited U.S. Coast Guard Base Kodiak, Alaska, to better understand Alaska Coast Guard capabilities, assets, missions, as well as present and future challenges.

"Our units work very closely with District 17 on a daily basis," said Handy. "This conference will help us all understand what they do day-to-day. Also, our Canadian partners have a big area of responsibility and it's right next to ours, so we have to be ready at a moment's notice to partner on large issues in the context of an evolving Arctic environment. These issues are becoming more and more important so we need to build those relationships and it is better to build them in the context of a learning environment versus during a catastrophe or crisis."

The conference itinerary included briefings on Coast Guard missions, operations area, and assets and responsibilities by Rear Admiral Daniel Abel, District 17 commander, and Captain Jeffery Westling, Base Kodiak commander. The attendees toured Kodiak's North Pacific Regional Fisheries Training Center, which is a school house designed to educate Coast Guardsmen on their job responsibilities such as Alaska fishing rules and regulations, types of fish in Alaskan waters and proper emergency and water survival gear.

After the schoolhouse visit the flag officers and senior enlisted leaders toured the Cutter MUNRO and Buoy Tender SPAR maritime vessels. They were briefed by several Coast Guardsmen on ship performance, missions, capabilities and the daily life aboard the ships in Alaska.

After touring the Coast Guard's maritime assets, the group viewed air assets at the air station, with briefings and static displays of the C-130 Hercules, UH-60  Jayhawks and UH-65 Dolphins by aircrew and rescue swimmers.

"There is some heroic Coast Guard activity here in Kodiak," Handy said. "This was the perfect place to conduct the GO/FO conference. During the Coast Guard tour we were thinking, 'wow, I didn't know that' or 'that's interesting, how can that apply to this emergency situation?'  What the Coast Guard does in Alaska is very strategically important."

"As a leader, you never want the first conversation to be in the moment of crisis," said Royal Canadian Navy Rear Admiral William S. Truelove, commander of Maritime Forces Pacific/Joint Task Force-Pacific. "You want to have (relationships built) in advance and it's through mechanisms like these that make that happen. Whatever future (possible) scenarios we are talking about, when it hits, it's not going to recognize any borders."

Soldiers Learn Survival Skills at Jungle Training Center

By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii, May 21, 2015 – On a hilltop nestled deep in the Wahiawa jungle, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jeff Bermudez reminded his students, laden with gear and rifles, that despite their imminent task to rappel down a 60-foot drop to flatter ground, they’re lucky.

“A little while ago it was raining, and this ground would’ve been slicker than goose grease,” he told his trainees, who eyed the rope and small tree they’d soon rely on to buffer gravity.

Bermudez, a cadre instructor, teaches hasty rappel in addition to several other courses, including communications and how to counter improvised explosive devices, at the 25th Infantry Division’s Lightning Academy Jungle Operations Training Center, which is almost two years old.

Operating in a Jungle Environment

The rigorous, realistic, yet safety-focused training courses are open to both U.S. service members and Asia-Pacific partners, which cadre members said strengthens trust, increases cultural awareness and fosters teamwork among the different militaries.

Typically, the schoolhouse runs consecutive cycles with courses in session each month and separated by breaks ranging from a week to about 30 days, Bermudez explained.

But the objective for each class remains consistent, he said.

“We want the students to pull out of the course the skills needed to operate in a jungle environment,” Bermudez said. “Everything that we teach here is relevant … from basic skills to how to operate as a team.”

He noted the need to learn not only survival techniques, but methods that may protect others’ lives in remote regions subject to extreme factors such as heat, humidity, dense foliage and sudden weather changes.

Value of Training With Partner Nations

Since his involvement with the school, Bermudez said he has already traveled to Australia, where he completed a 10-week operations course, and Malaysia, to conduct a five-week jungle warfare course which consisted of survival, combat tracking, classroom instruction and an overall field training exercise.

He also recently returned from the Philippines, where he participated in a three-day survival course the host nation’s special operations forces conducted for the 25th Infantry Division and other partner militaries.

“That was informative and thus far the best survival training I’ve been through,” Bermudez said.

Conversely, in the last year, the 25th ID Lightning Academy, also known as Tropic Thunder, hosted Malaysian army cadre for and exchange of ideas and best practices.

“The [Malaysian soldiers] do this on a daily basis, so they have more than enough information to pass on to us,” Bermudez said. “Having them come down is here was very helpful and much appreciated.”

Even relatively simple tasks such as rope tying, water procurement and campfire basics can pay great survival dividends in an operational or humanitarian assistance environment, Bermudez said, noting the latter’s particular relevance in light of Nepal’s April 25 magnitude-7.8 quake and ensuing devastating aftershocks.

Though other training and real-world events create some uncertainty in class sizes, Bermudez said a maximum student capacity of 100 is what best facilitates clear, concise instruction and closer attention to students’ grasp of the material.

Bermudez noted that some students have queried about the long-term payoff of the course.

But his response, he said, is consistent: “Take the skill that we teach you here and apply it throughout your missions.”

Still, Bermudez said he ultimately hopes to soon see the Lightning Academy become not only an accredited school, but evolve into an even greater valuable training venue that creates competent, resilient and adaptable soldiers.

Colonel Sloane takes command of the Wolf Pack

by Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/21/2015 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -  -- The Wolf Pack welcomed Wolf 55 during a change of command ceremony at the 3-Bay Hangar here May 21.

Col. Jeremy "Wolf" Sloane, 8th Fighter Wing commander, accepted the guidon from Col. Ken Ekman, outgoing commander, as Lt. Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, 7th Air Force and Air Component Command U.S. Forces Korea/U.S. Combined Forces commander, presided over the ceremony.

"It is my pleasure and privilege to welcome the 8th Fighter Wing Wolf 55, Colonel Jeremy 'Kid' Sloane and his new Wingman, Wolf Chief 18, Command Chief [Daniel] Simpson," O'Shaughnessy said. "As a command pilot with over 2,500 fighter flying hours, including 250 combat hours, and multiple challenging commands, Colonel Sloane understands what it takes to serve as the leader of the Wolf Pack. Today you take command of not just 2,700 of the finest Airmen in the world, but of the Air Force's most storied wing. As the Wolf, you will ensure the readiness of this wing and maintain its abilities to 'fight tonight.'"

After previously serving as the vice commander of the 56th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, Sloane expressed his enthusiasm for his first assignment on the Korean Peninsula.

"To the men and women of the 8th Fighter Wing, I am humbled and honored to be taking command of the Wolf Pack. Across the Air Force, there's always been a mystique surrounding this place," Sloane said. "From BOLO to Beverly, the history of the wing resonates across the ages, and I see its legacy in you. Now that I'm here, I sense that that mystique comes from a pride and a focus that's been uniquely forged in a combat wing that has spent decades as the tip of the spear; decades taking mission readiness to another level."

Before relinquishing command to Sloane, Ekman saluted the Wolf Pack one last time as wing commander before reflecting on his time with the Wolf Pack.

"This has been the most rewarding service in my professional life," Ekman said. "To the members of the mighty Wolf Pack, the achievements we reflect on today are yours. I am so proud of your endeavors--spanning mission, Airmen and families and peninsula cooperation. You have advanced our ability to fight tonight and you have taken care of each other in the process."

Sloane echoed Ekman's confidence in the Wolf Pack's ability to uphold its mission capabilities.

"I'm excited, and I'm honored to be your commander," Sloane said. "We stand ready to defend the base, accept follow-on forces and take the fight north."

As part of the 7th AF and U.S. Forces Korea, Sloane will serve as Area VI commander for more than 7,000 combat-ready and forward-stationed U.S. Armed Forces personnel.

NMOTC Commanding Officer Throws First Pitch

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Kaitlyn C. Boland, Navy Medicine Operational Training Center Public Affairs

PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- The commanding officer of the U.S. Navy's premier training facility for operational medicine and aviation survival training threw the ceremonial first pitch during the Pensacola-based Blue Wahoos May 20 game against the Mississippi Braves in Pensacola, Florida.

Navy Medicine Operational Training Center(NMOTC) Commanding Officer Capt. Paul D. Kane, MC, threw out the first pitch in front of more than 2,000 fans at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium, considered one of the premier facilities in Minor League Baseball.

"Pensacola and the Navy have such a unique bond," he said. "The military presence here and the reception to the men and women in uniform in the Pensacola area are really quite special. It was an honor for me to be invited by the Blue Wahoos and the Greater Pensacola Chamber to represent the Navy, Navy Medicine and the Navy Medicine Operational Training Center. On behalf of them, I would like to say thank you for the support the Blue Wahoos, the Pensacola Chamber and the city of Pensacola show Sailors."

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos are the double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Established in 2012, the Blue Wahoos - located in the Panhandle of northwestern Florida - play baseball at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium and are highlighting and recognizing area military commands in conjunction with the Greater Pensacola Chamber during Military Appreciation Month, observed annually in May.

The Greater Pensacola chamber procured nearly 2,000 ticket vouchers from various Pensacola-area businesses and organizations to Blue Wahoos home games during May 2015, with the Chamber's Military Affairs Committee disseminating tickets to Pensacola-area commands, service members and military family members.

The Greater Pensacola Chamber Military Affairs Committee is designed to develop strategic economic growth opportunities that promote and enhance Department of Defense investments in the Pensacola area. The Department of Defense is the largest economic engine in the Pensacola Region, with more than $5.1 billion in total economic impact produced annually by more than 22,000 active duty and military/federal employees.

NMOTC, the recognized global leader in operational medical and aviation survival training, reports to Navy Medicine Education and Training Command (NMETC). NMETC manages Navy Medicine's formal enlisted and officer education and training programs, medical operational training for medical and medical support personnel deploying worldwide, and training that prepares aviators and flight crews to survive in land and water mishaps.

NMOTC and NMETC are all part of the Navy Medicine team, a global health care network of Navy medical professionals around the world who provide high-quality health care to more than 1 million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ships, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.