Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Take me out to the ballgame, warrior style

By Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs / Published June 09, 2015

2015 DOD Warrior Games to begin June 19

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team members and athletes from the NFL joined forces to compete in the 3rd annual Amputee Warrior Softball Classic June 6 at Prince George's Stadium in Bowie, Maryland.

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry O. Spencer threw out the first pitch alongside the mayor of Bowie, Mayor G. Frederick Robinson.

“What better game to celebrate and honor our wounded warriors than this,” Spencer said.

With three historic words, Spencer started the game.

“Let’s play ball,” Spencer said. “Good luck to both teams -- we have some great ball players here and we look forward to a really great game.”

The charity event benefited the Yellow Ribbon Fund, Disabled Sports USA, Connected Warrior Foundation and Operation Second Chance.

According to Spencer, community events like this allow the American people to connect with the military and its service members. The events shed light on what American warriors from all services sacrifice for their country.

“It is really important to connect the American people with their military and in this case, let them see that they (wounded warriors) gave great sacrifice for us to be able to come here and enjoy a game,” Spencer said.

“This event to them helps build their morale, helps get our wounded warriors back into the swing of things,” Spencer continued. “There is great interaction with the NFL players and there are many similarities in what we do. We both work and train hard every day and that allows us to perform at very high levels when ultimately asked to execute our missions.”

Spencer continued, stating his love for showing support to wounded warriors at events like the softball game, and also showing respect for the great sacrifice made by each service member.

“Anytime wounded warriors go anywhere, I want to be there,” the vice chief said. “These are heroes that deployed and didn’t know if they were going to make it back or how they were going to make it back, but they went anyway to support our country by answering the call. It makes me feel great to be here and I wouldn’t want to be any place else. I wouldn’t miss this for anything. They are heroes; they are heroes for our country”

This event is just the beginning of these warriors competing and being honored in June. The 2015 DOD Warrior Games, held later in June, is another outlet to catch these heroes in action.

The 2015 DOD Warrior Games will be held at Marine Corp Base Quantico, Virginia, from June 19-28. The Warrior Games is an adaptive sports competition for approximately 250 athletes representing the Army, Marine Corps, Navy/Coast Guard, Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command wounded service members and veterans.

Utility Jobs Training to Open for Troops, Veterans, Spouses

By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2015 – The Defense Department today announced a partnership to launch employment training for transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses in highly skilled utility industry jobs.

The Utility Industry Workforce Initiative is a public-private partnership comprising DoD, the departments of Energy, Veterans Affairs and Labor, and private-sector companies Edison Electric Institute, Center for Energy Workforce Development, Nuclear Energy Institute, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and American Gas Association, defense officials said.

The initiative’s goal is to promote and design training and credentialing opportunities for applicants to enter the utility industry, officials noted.

Program Builds on White House Efforts

The announcement builds on the White House effort that began in April to help America’s veterans find high-quality jobs, with a goal to train 75,000 workers for the renewable energy industry by 2020. About 200,000 service members leave the military annually.

The energy sector is projected to require an additional 1.5 million workers by 2030 to modernize the nation’s energy infrastructure, according to Quadrennial Energy Review.

VA’s Veterans Economic Communities Initiative will work with local resources to connect transitioning service members, veterans, and their families on training and employment opportunities.

DOL will match military occupation codes with credentialing opportunities in the utility sector, and expand training capacity in SkillBridge through the community college structure.

‘SkillBridge’ Helps Transitioning Troops

The DoD SkillBridge authority promotes civilian job training available to transitioning military service members.

“This announcement is just the latest example of how leveraging our new SkillBridge authority can help in easing the transition of our service members to civilian life -- while delivering real value to the American economy,” said Frank C. DiGiovanni, DoD’s director of force readiness and training.

“As we have seen, [by] the private sector participating in SkillBridge, it just makes good business sense,” he added.

SkillBridge will help link military occupations to utility jobs, and active-duty troops can receive entry-level utility training, such as apprenticeships or internships, in their last six months before separation.

To qualify, the eight- to 12-week training must lead to a “high probability” of employment and must be provided at little or no cost to service members, officials said.

Defense officials said the strategic plan will roll out later this year.

U.S. Air Force takes to the skies for BALTOPS 2015

by Senior Airman Michael Battles
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

6/9/2015 - POWIDZ, Poland  -- The U.S. Air Force, along with its Polish counterparts officially kicked-off Powidz Air Base's portion of Baltic Operations 2015 with the first KC-135 Stratotanker flight from the 507th Air Refueling Wing June 8, here.

In its 43rd iteration, BALTOPS is a multinational maritime exercise in Poland, Sweden, Germany, and throughout the Baltic Sea, including participation from 14 NATO and three partner nations June 5-20.

"This is the 43rd year of BALTOPS, and is one of the largest ever," said Vice Adm. James Foggo III, commander U.S. 6th Fleet. "During BALTOPS, we will focus on enhancing flexibility and interoperability, while demonstrating resolve of our allied and partner forces to maintain the security of the Baltic region."

The U.S., NATO and partner nations sent 49 ships, 61 aircraft, one submarine, and approximately 5,600 Sailors, Marines, airmen, and soldiers to employ land, air, sea and undersea capabilities.

As part of BALTOPS 2015, the U.S. Air Force deployed four KC-135s to Poland from the 100th, 916th and 507th air refueling wings, as well as 14 F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 480th and 157th fighter squadrons, and three B-52 Stratofortress' from the 5th Bomb Wing.

"Exercises such as BALTOPS really allow us to test and practice all of our capabilities," said Master Sgt. Larry Nahalea, Powidz deployed operations superintendent. "It also allows us to work with our NATO allies while gaining an understanding on how our multinational partners conduct exercises."

While supporting BALTOPS, participating forces will conduct training across a broad spectrum of areas including air defense, maritime interdiction, anti-submarine warfare and amphibious operations.

Participating nations include Norway, Germany, Latvia, Poland, Canada, France, Denmark, Georgia, Estonia, Finland, Turkey, Belgium, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and the United States.

BALTOPS is about maintaining NATO's and its partner's common interests.

"NATO and our partners share a common interest in maintaining a Europe and Baltic region that is safe, secure and prosperous," Foggo said. "BALTOPS exercises have resulted in great success, and have created a foundation for the strong relationships we share with the Baltic States."

Along with BALTOPS 2015, the U.S. Air Force is also participating in U.S Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise Saber Strike 2015 and Polish-led combined exercise EAGLE TALON in the Baltic Region, all of which are supported by the Aviation Detachment located at Lask and Powidz air bases in Poland.

"Our 17-nation force is a testament to our collective commitment to regional stability," Foggo said. "For those nations not participating, we have, will, and continue to respect their sovereignty, their fleets, and their commanders. We will conduct our operations in a respectful and professional manner throughout this exercise. We expect the same from them."

17th Airlift Squadron; A look back: 17 AS crew gets top honors at Air Tattoo

by Lt. Col. Ed Memi
437th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/9/2015 - CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Editor's Note: As the 437th Airlift Wing gears up to inactivate the 17th Airlift Squadron, we hope you enjoy the walk down memory lane with us as we reprint stories that highlight the achievements of the Air Force's first operational C-17 squadron. This week's article was first printed in the August 11, 2000 edition of the Airlift Dispatch.

The 17th Airlift Squadron took home top honors as the best aerial demonstration at the Royal International Air Tattoo 2000, held at RAF Cottesmore, Rutland, England, July 22-23.

The award, called the Lockheed Martin Cannestra Trophy, is presented to the best flying demonstration by an overseas participant. The base had beat out a field of mostly fighter jets to win the prestigious honor, the first time any airlifter has won the competition.

Charleston performed a 10-minute aerial demonstration at Cottesmore and also had a static display aircraft on the ground for the crowds to observe. The C-17 drew a lot of attention as the United Kingdom prepares to lease four C-17s from Boeing. An aircrew and C-17 also flew to Farnborough and RAF Brize Norton, near Oxford, England, where they did seven aerial demonstrations July 24-31. The aircrews and aircraft returned here July 31.

"I know that the last eight times that someone has won this trophy, it's been a fighter unit. It's hard to compete against the fighters which often times can steal the show," said Maj. Ken Burch, one of the demo pilots from the 437th Operations Group standardization and evaluation office. The victory was especially meaningful for Burch since he leaves the Air Force this week to join the 315th Airlift Wing and United Airlines. The award allowed him to bring back the traveling trophy on his last "fini" flight.

Burch, along with 17 AS RAF exchange pilot Squadron Leader Darrel Jacobs, thrilled the crowds with an aerial demonstration on each day of the airshow. 15 AS RAF exchange pilot Squadron Leader Jeff Clark had also joined them on the trip. "At RAF Brize Norton, we had a lot of RAF senior officers and maintenance people tour the aircraft since that is where the C-17s will eventually be based in England. We spent about six hours showing the aircraft there."

Each of the three flying squadrons has only three aircraft commanders who are considered "demo" qualified, which requires them to be certified by the wing standardization and evaluation office. The scripted single ship C-17 demo profile consists of a short-field take-off, a high speed pass at about 300 knots, a slow speed pass at about 105 knots, a 360 degree turn at show center, an assault landing at less than 1,500 feet with a full stop followed by a backing demonstration to show the aircraft's maneuverability.

"At Farnborough, the demo was especially impressive since we got to pull within 200 feet of the crowds and then backed into our parking space after the show. People actually started backing up when it looked like the jet might actually go into the crowd. Everyone was very impressed that such a large jet could be so maneuverable," Burch said. The crowd at Cottesmore was equally impressed with the size of the C-17.

The award at Cottesmore was a complete surprise to the aircrew.

"There was a huge celebration after the airshow and that's when they presented us with the award. We know that the demo had impressed the crowds, but didn't think we could compete against the Ukrainian MIG-29s, Dutch F-16s and Swiss F-5s."

Not only did the crowds come out to look at the C-17, but at Cottesmore, a number of heads-of-state, legislators and cabinet officials came out to look at the jet. "There were lots of VIPs that toured the aircraft, to include the King of Jordan and the Prince of Saudi Arabia. There were so many generals that came out that I lost count."

"While Ken was flying the RIAT demo, I was busy with the 315th crew giving VIP tours on the static. The highlight of these tours occurred on Saturday, when the King of Jordan visited. I had him (King Abdullah II) sitting in the pilot's seat of the static C-17 on the ground watching the flying demo through the heads up display," said Lt. Col. John Millander, 17th AS commander. VIP visitors also included Gen. "Speedy" Martin, United States Air Forces in Europe commander; Air Marshall Peter Squires, the Chief of Staff of the RAF; Jeffrey Hoon, the U.K. Secretary of State for Defence and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia Prince Faisel.

"People were just very excited about the aircraft and were impressed with how much you could fit into the back of the aircraft. We would demonstrate  the versatility in the back of the plane to the crowds," said Tech. Sgt. Don Eagle, a loadmaster in the 17 AS. "The crowd was really impressed with how we could back up the plane up and we started to steal the show while backing up the runway," Eagle added.

"Normally at these big airshows, they limit the demonstrations to only 7 minutes, but they made a special exception for us and allowed us to do the full 10 minute demo profile," said Burch, who has more than 5,000 hours flying airlifters. The aircrew became something of a celebrity in the crowds since videotaped interviews were played on at least six massive "jumbotron" screens placed throughout airshow grounds. "We would walk through the crowds and people would recognize us instantly from the videos. IT was like we were celebrities," Burch said.

The Royal International Air Tattoo featured more than 350 aircraft representing military forces from more than 30 countries and drew about 200,000 people each day. RIAT2000 had a major tribute to the 60th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, featuring the Spitfires and Hurricanes that flew to glory six decades ago. The tattoo is staged in support of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, the military charity that reaches out to all past and present members of the RAF and their dependents.

The Tattoo was forces to find a new temporary venue because of extensive runway resurfacing  work at RAF Fairford. RAF Cottesmore, one of the Royal Air Force's frontline bases is home to two squadrons of Harrier GR7s, serving as part of the British Joint Force 2000.

U.S., Turkish Airmen Train in Exercise Anatolian Eagle

By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2015 – U.S. Air Forces in Europe personnel are participating in Exercise Anatolian Eagle with the Turkish air force, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters here today.

About 250 personnel and 12 U.S. Air Force F-15C “Eagle” jet fighters from the 48th Fighter Wing based at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, United Kingdom, are participating in the preplanned exercise, Warren said.

Anatolian Eagle, which is taking place at Konya Air Base, Turkey, began June 8, he said.

The exercise is slated to conclude June 18, Warren said.

Anatolian Eagle is focused on exercising operational and logistical processes for U.S. air forces and increasing tactical interoperability between U.S. and Turkish air forces, the colonel said.