Military News

Monday, June 08, 2015

Buddy Wing 15-4: ROKAF, USAF ready together

by Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


6/5/2015 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- Wolf Pack pilots practiced combined flying operations with their Republic of Korea Air Force counterparts during Exercise Buddy Wing 15-4 here, June 1 through 5.

During this iteration of Buddy Wing, the 8th Fighter Wing hosted Airmen from the 123rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Wing, Seosan Air Base, to train alongside the Wolf Pack's 35th Fighter Squadron as they sharpened their air combat capabilities together at Kunsan Air Base.

"This is my first Buddy Wing, and I gained a lot of insight on how the U.S. and ROK air forces integrate together," said 1st Lt. Brad Leffler, 35th FS F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot. "We train and work together, and we also learn from our strengths and weaknesses. If the time comes to take the fight north, we will work better as a combined force."

During Buddy Wing, the two countries' pilots operated as one force as they integrated mission planning, briefing, flying and debriefing together, while practicing air-to-air and air-to-ground tactics.

"We may operate differently during the execution of various formations, but we train on very similar tactics," Leffler said. "At the end of the day, we all work together to accomplish the same mission. The fundamental purpose of [ROK and U.S. Air Force] practicing together is to tighten up our combined wartime readiness."

Capt. Bong Seop Kim, 123rd TFS KF-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, discussed how Buddy Wing 15-4 provided a great opportunity for ROKAF and U.S. Air Force pilots to exchange knowledge on their tactics and weapons system posture.

"When we work together as a combined military, we can exert such power that enables us to always be ready," Kim said. "We may face obstacles, to include the language barrier and other challenges during combined operations, but we overcome these barriers through continued discussions and understanding each other's differences and cultures."

According to Capt. Matthew Kimmel, 35th FS F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot and Buddy Wing 15-4 project officer, an additional aspect of strengthening combined, allied military operations is enhancing personal partnerships.

"This exercise provided not only the tactical integration with our counterparts, but also provided an opportunity to create new friendships as we - the U.S. Air Force and ROKAF - got to know each other at various social events outside of the flying operations here," he said.

Kim added how working and spending time together increases interoperability and combat capabilities.

"As two countries, we create and carry out combined operations to deter the same enemy," Kim said. "By coordinating with each other through programs such as this Buddy Wing training as well as other combined operations, these experiences add to the success of combined operations and the continued success of the ROK-U.S. Alliance."

Officer Describes Life After ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal



By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2015 – Defense Department efforts to increase diversity in its workforce welcomes talented people to hire on and help protect national security, the deputy chief of staff of the Army Reserve said last week.

In a DoD News interview, Army Brig. Gen. Tammy S. Smith discussed the importance of leadership, this year’s theme for DoD’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month observance.

“The entire Defense Department is about leadership, and [that theme] is in line with what DoD values most in uniformed individuals and civilians,” Smith said of the June recognition.

From leadership springs diversity and inclusion in the LGBT community, she noted, and it makes LGB service members and LGBT civilians feel welcome in jobs where they can thrive and contribute.

"I felt that DoD leadership embraced the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in 2011,” Smith said.

And when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, Defense officials “stepped up and said similarly situated families should be treated as families,” she said.

As a service member who can now serve as “openly” as a member of the LGBT community, the observance marks professional and personal milestones for Smith.

“The LGBT observance in 2015 is significant to DoD when you consider it was only in 2011 when someone like me would have been kicked out of the military simply for being who I was, regardless of how qualified I was in my job,” she said.

Lived a Compartmentalized Life

The first 25 years of her 29-year military career presented challenges for Smith.

Before the DADT repeal, Smith said, “I handled it by living a compartmentalized life. I had two sets of friends: work friends and my off-the-grid friends -- members of the LGBT community. We knew who each other was, and in that world we could be who we really were.”

And her two worlds could never cross, the general said.

“If I saw off-the-grid friends at work, I had to walk past them and pretend I didn’t know them,” she said. “It would have raised questions like, ‘How do you know Jones?’”

Keeping her two worlds separate was difficult and took great physical and emotional effort, Smith said.

While she felt relieved from the burden of living two lives after the 2011 DADT repeal, Smith said she had to heal after 25 years of being unable to be herself.

Smith said she had to learn new social skills, such as knowing it was OK to introduce her civilian wife, Tracey Hepner, at social functions as her spouse.

“In the military, we put so much emphasis on family support,” she said. “Under DADT, I couldn’t share my family -- the most important thing in my life.”

But in 2013, when the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down and more doors opened to the LGBT community, Smith said she was able to marry Hepner and do what heterosexual military families were permitted to do, such as live on post.

Today, Smith feels as though the Army accepts her for who she is, and she can share in workplace conversations about her family without hiding.

Educating Others with Outreach

In her outreach work, Smith speaks to people at the installation level and sometimes at commands and other agencies.

Her audiences learn the observance of LGBT pride isn’t about orientation, the general said. It’s about “who we are and who our families are,” she said, noting that she tells her personal story so others know what it was like to live under DADT and how the repeal changed her life.

“I hope it validates individuals who have lived through it,” she says of her work. She also hopes her outreach work will help DoD keep up with the rapid pace of change, she added.

Just Another Day After DADT Repeal

Smith recalls Sept. 20, 2011, when DADT was repealed. In the dining hall at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, she wanted to catch another’s eye to see if someone else was having a “completely different day,” like she was.

“You know what? I got nothing. It was just another day at Bagram … and that was absolutely perfect about the repeal,” she said.

US delivers airpower in Baltic exercise

by Capt Chase P. McFarland
USAFE-AFAFRICA Public Affairs


6/8/2015 - ADAZI TRAINING AREA, Latvia -- About 6,000 personnel from 13 countries, including the United States, are participating in the Saber Strike 15 exercise taking place in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, June 8 through 19.

Saber Strike is a long-standing U.S Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise conducted annually since 2010. The aim of the exercise is to improve the cooperation and capabilities of the participating nations for future contingency operations.  This year's exercise objectives facilitate cooperation among Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The U.S. Air Force plays a critical role by providing aerial refueling, aerial port support capabilities, joint tactical air control, personnel and equipment airlift, and close air support to U.S. and partner nation ground forces while demonstrating air deployment of forces and equipment.

"Saber Strike is a great opportunity to showcase and foster our interoperability between ally and partner nations," said Gen. Frank Gorenc, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander. "Combined training and theater security cooperation engagements with our allies and partners demonstrate that we share a commitment to promoting a Europe that is whole, free and at peace."

U.S. Air Force capabilities in the exercise include KC-135 Stratotankers from the Michigan Air National Guard, the Pennsylvania Air National Guard and the U.S. Air Force Reserves out of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina; F-16 Fighting Falcons from the South Carolina Air National Guard; A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the Maryland Air National Guard; B-52 Stratofortresses from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota; and C-130J Super Hercules from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Additional support is provided by the 435th Contingency Response Group and the 435th Air-Ground Operations Wing from Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

"Maintaining a forward, ready presence in Europe is critical to assuring our allies and to deter real and potential adversaries," said Gorenc. "We are only able to maintain this global presence through total force cooperation with our National Guard and Air Force Reserve partners."

Multinational Baltic Defense Exercise Showcases Interoperability



By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2015 – The U.S. has joined 16 other NATO and partner nations in a Baltic regional maritime exercise demonstrating various integrated military capabilities, Defense Department spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said here today.

“Seventeen NATO and partner nations are participating in the 43rd iteration of the multinational, maritime exercise [Baltic Operations] 2015,” Warren told Pentagon reporters.

BALTOPS is an annual multinational exercise, Warren said, “designed to enhance flexibility and interoperability as well as demonstrate the resolve of allied and partner forces to defend the Baltic region.”

Multinational Participation

The training event, which began June 5, includes forces from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, the United States and the United Kingdom, Warren said.

“These exercises are taking place in Poland, Sweden, Germany and throughout the Baltic Sea through June 20,” he said.

Warren said 5,600 ground, maritime and air force personnel -- 2,000 of which are American -- and about 49 ships, 61 aircraft and one submarine, are participating in the operation.

“It will demonstrate air defense, maritime interdiction, anti-submarine warfare and amphibious operations in a joint environment,” he said. “This is all to ensure regional security.”

Face of Defense: Archaeologist Preserves Base Histories



By Air Force Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis
99th Air Base Wing

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev., June 8, 2015 – Unlike a base or wing historian, who specializes in records and documents of people’s lives, Kish La Pierre, 99th Civil Engineer Squadron archaeologist, studies the lives people may have led through what they left behind, such as fossils, buildings, markings or human remains.

“I manage Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases, and the Nevada Test and Training Range’s cultural resources,” La Pierre said. “The goal here is to protect and document these resources as U.S. Air Force projects arise.”

Typical resources include World War II or Cold War era buildings and infrastructure, mining sites, and prehistoric archaeological sites -- which includes rock art, stone tool quarries, sacred Native American sites, rock shelters and caves.

“We have approximately three million acres of land that hasn’t been touched for over 50 years,” said Jeff Kirkwood, 99th CES environment assessment section chief. “There are a lot of culturally significant sites on the range that need to stay protected.”

Nellis Air Force Base is mandated by several federal laws to protect the country’s cultural resources.

“As we know, history repeats itself, therefore by studying the past we can prepare for the future in many ways,” La Pierre said. “Plus we preserve and safeguard these resources for future generations to enjoy and study.”

Cataloguing Every Building

Military installations are ever-changing, with new buildings and development potentially colliding with historically significant sites. La Pierre documents every construction project so there’s an official record of changes to the bases she’s responsible for.

“These projects are important for legal purposes first of all, and it is also important because we include the Native Americans on those projects involving prehistoric sites,” La Pierre said. “This gives them a chance to see how their ancestors lived thousands of years ago and it gives them a chance to voice an opinion on how we should be managing resources such as rock art.”

The rock art study gives the chance to record, view and share data with local Native Americans. This data will also protect rock art sites from any disturbances. Rock art sites are automatically eligible for listing on the nation’s register for historic places.

“Our goal is to finish [cataloguing] the buildings and infrastructure projects and define those resources that are eligible to the National Register of Historic Places,” La Pierre said.

According to La Pierre, a management plan is in the works for these resources once they are recorded. From the management plan, she hopes there will be portions of the base that represent the old Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases, so future visitors have the opportunity to look into the base’s past.

Tribal Liaison

“Kish is very passionate, especially when it comes to the Native Americans,” Kirkwood said. “She is willing to share data and why things are significant. The range is very unique because it is entirely shut off from the public and there are items on the range that have been preserved for hundreds if not thousands of years.”

La Pierre is the tribal liaison to 17 Native American tribes who have ties to Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases and the NTTR. Her work allows her to instill and uphold the U.S. Air Force’s culture of climate, trust and respect by allowing access to Native Americans for the purpose of cultural and spiritual matters.

“There are many things that I love about my job. I really enjoy working with the local tribes,” La Pierre said. “They have so much information about the land we manage. Their culture supports a strong oral history, which they have passed down for thousands of years. They have taught us about plant usage for food, medicine and hunting techniques. They have the scoop on desert survival which benefits the military in many ways."