Thursday, June 11, 2015

Ambassador Kennedy visits Misawa

by Airman 1st Class Jordyn Fetter
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

6/11/2015 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy visited U.S. military and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force members at Misawa Air Base June 11.

As part of her first visit to the Aomori Prefecture, Kennedy stopped at Misawa to understand the role it plays as the only bilateral, joint-service air base in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and to see the positive relations fostered by U.S.-Japanese interactions here.

"The rebalance to Asia is the [U.S.] President's signature foreign policy initiative, and I think it will be something that, going forward, is going to prove to be tremendously important for the future of our country," Kennedy said. "I have a much better understanding of Misawa's role after hearing about it today."

As part of the visit, Kennedy, her cousin Maria Shriver and Shriver's children Patrick, Katherine, Christopher and Christina Schwarzenegger, met Misawa base leadership, Japanese Air Self-Defense Force generals and the Misawa City mayor for a tour of various aircraft. Subject-matter experts were on hand to explain the roles of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, JASDF F-2 Fighter, EA-18G Growler, P-3 Orion and P-8 Poseidon in protecting U.S. and Japanese interests in the Pacific.

"For us to be here and see the work you're doing and how closely we're working with the Japanese Self Defense Force is incredibly meaningful," Kennedy said. "It shows the power of reconciliation and the hard work that goes into reaching across and creating friendships with others around the world."

The distinguished visitors spoke with U.S. military members and their families during a meet and greet at the Misawa Officer's Club.

"What you go through is mind blowing," Shriver said. "I'm sure it's emotionally trying when you have loved ones far away. I have respect for what everyone here is going through and for the service you continue to display."

Kennedy also touched on the various types of involvement Misawa members have with the Japanese community including base spouses teaching English in the local elementary schools, hosting local students on base, and sponsoring American Day to help Japanese nationals learn about U.S. culture.

"Being back in Washington D.C. recently during the [Japanese] prime minister's visit, as well as serving in Tokyo, I see the importance of this for our country," Kennedy said. "All of you live and breathe the U.S.-Japan alliance every single day."

With further understanding of Misawa's interoperability, Kennedy will continue her tour throughout the Aomori prefecture.

AF focuses 3rd round of VERA/VSIP for civilians

By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs, / Published June 11, 2015

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- In an effort to lead its force management actions with voluntary programs, Air Force officials announced a third round of civilian workforce shaping measures beginning June 15.

The measures are necessary to meet the Air Force’s headquarters organization and staffing reductions, which were designed to eliminate redundant activities, improve efficiencies and satisfy previous secretary of Defense direction to reduce management headquarters costs and staff levels by 20 percent.

Voluntary early retirement authority (VERA) and voluntary separation incentive pay (VSIP) will be used to realign and rebalance the civilian force during the third round of the program. The final round of voluntary measures focuses primarily on Headquarters Air Force-assigned civilian employees.

“As in past years, we will continue to offer voluntary early retirement authority and voluntary separation incentive pay to the maximum extent possible before we implement a reduction in force,” said Debra Warner, the director of Civilian Force Policy. “The Air Force is committed to sustaining excellence, meeting fiscal requirements and minimizing negative impacts on our current permanent civilian workforce and their families.”

Civilian employees will receive VERA/VSIP interest surveys from their local civilian personnel sections (CPS) on or about June 15, with responses due by June 26, unless an earlier date is established by local CPSs. Applicants approved for this final round of fiscal year VERA/VSIP programs must separate no later than Sept. 30.

“Our civilians are an integral part of our force, and their contributions are instrumental in our mission success,” Warner said. “Our challenge, in a fiscally constrained environment, is to maintain the ready and capable civilian force today and a modern workforce tomorrow.”

The processes available to rebalance or reskill the workforce includes using reduction-in-force procedures to determine overage employee priority placement rights into positions, as well as, providing the flexibility to waive qualifications and provide retained grade and pay if placed in a lower graded position.

In that regard, the Air Force headquarters and other participating bases will begin their preparations for submitting requests for approval to use reduction-in-force procedures in an effort to place employees in continuing permanent positions.

“The Air Force is committed to using voluntary separation programs as much as possible before pursuing involuntary options,” Warner said.

Drink up: Airmen train to purify warfighter water

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

6/11/2015 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam  -- Water is the essence of life and likewise essential to support any military operation.

At Andersen Air Force Base, specially trained Airmen are able to turn untested water into potable H2O.

Airmen from the 554th RED HORSE Squadron, who are Pacific Air Forces Command Silver Flag instructors, train service members from Air Force bases, other military branches and different nations once a month on how to properly use the unit known as a Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit 1500 (ROWPU 1500).

"[During Silver Flag] learning how to use the ROWPU is important because Airmen, particularly water and fuels systems maintainers, possess the organic capability to produce, store and establish a potable water source for self-sustainment and support purposes," said Tech. Sgt. Roshia Johari, 554th RED HORSE NCO in charge of water and fuels systems maintenance contingency training.

The purification process starts with detecting a viable water source, which can be fresh, brackish or even saltwater. As soon as a water source is established, crews connect two raw water pumps that push water from the source to the ROWPU 1500. The water then goes through three types of filtration: the first stage is a four-layer multimedia filter, the second stage uses a bag filter and the third stage uses eight reverse osmosis elements.

As Airmen push water through the filtration process, they add functional chemicals to purify and disinfect the water. After the water has left the last stage of filtration from the reverse osmosis elements, the newly potable water is tested by the 36th Medical Operations Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight technicians, who verify the water is safe to consume. When the water is deemed safe, it is then stored and utilized for drinking, personal hygiene, sanitation, food preparation or medical support in an expeditionary environment.

Since most water on Guam is considered clear water, the ROWPU 1500 is used primarily for training purposes. Even though the water is considered fresh, it isn't considered potable until it has been treated through the ROWPU.

The ROWPU's "1500" designator stands for the machine's ability to purify 1,500 gallons of water per hour if pulling from a salt water source. The cleaner the source is, the more potable water the ROWPU can produce per hour, Johari said. If filtering fresh water, the ROWPU can produce up to 2,200 gallons of potable water per hour.

In addition to filtering out selenium, iron, magnesium and chloride from water sources, the ROWPU also has the capability to filter out nuclear, biological and chemical contaminants by installing additional deionization cartridges. During the disaster relief effort of Operation Tomodachi following the 2011 earthquake in Japan, U.S. military units utilized ROWPUs to cleanse water contaminated by radiation.

A minimum of two Airmen are needed to operate the ROWPU. With proper training and experience, the purification process can take as little as an hour to complete.

The ROWPU can be considered a vital asset to deployed troops or anyone in a location where clean water is scarce.

"ROWPU operations are vital, because we cannot survive without water," said Master Sgt. Brian DuBord, 554th RHS infrastructure superintendent.

Communication Airmen hardwire BALTOPS mission

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

6/11/2015 - POWIDZ, Poland  -- In support of Baltic Operations 2015, a team of Airmen from the 1st Combat Communications Squadron deployed to Powidz Air Base charged with the responsibility of maintaining all communication requirements for the U.S. Air Force at the installation.

BALTOPS is a multinational maritime exercise in Poland, Sweden, Germany, and throughout the Baltic Sea, including participation from 14 NATO and three partner nations taking place June 5-20. BALTOPS is designed to enhance flexibility and interoperability, as well as demonstrate resolve of allied and partner forces to defend the Baltic region.

The three-person team; Staff Sgt. Dean Gage, 1st CBCS cyber systems supervisor, Senior Airman Ian Philips, 1st CBCS tactical network operations technician and Senior Airman Brendan Kennedy, 1st CBCS satellite communications technician, are the sole points of contact for BALTOPS communications at Powidz.

According to SrA Kennedy, upon arrival at a deployment location, the three Airmen work around-the-clock to ensure communications are setup within 24 hours, so all requirements for operations are met and running efficiently before the deployment teams arrives.

"You need communications or nothing will get done," Kennedy said. "We arrive early so that once boots hit the ground, they are good to go. If we didn't, everything would go to a standstill."

During rotational deployments such as BALTOPs each Airmen on the communications team is selected due to their specific skills sets.

"Each one of us comes from a different communications background," Gage said. "We handle completely different communication aspects here at BALTOPS, but those differences are what makes us a well-rounded team."

A large portion of the communication specialists' setup requires the team to establish a link with their home station at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Additionally, the team enables all network capabilities, programs, computers, phones and radio connections.

Along with setting up the initial communications, the team is responsible for resolving any communications issues the 100th, 916th and 507th air refueling wings may have during their 15-day deployment.

"Without us, the missions will go on," Gage said. "But the deployers will have overall limited capabilities. We setup everything from phones to laptops, Wi-Fi and email."

9 units team up for PACAF ammo production exercise

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

6/10/2015 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam  -- Airmen participated in the Pacific Air Forces' 2015 Combat Ammunition Production Exercise here May 31 to June 5.

The annual exercise tested more than 250 Airmen from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam; Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea; Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea; Kadena Air Base, Japan; Dyess Air Force Base, Texas; Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota; Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; and Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. CAPEX evaluated each unit's ability to build various live munitions in large, real-life quantities capable of supporting combat sorties. The Airmen were assessed on their ability to safely produce and transport hundreds of bombs in real-time while meeting all demands of the wartime exercise scenario.

With actual munitions assembled and prepared for combat, CAPEX allowed combat planners an opportunity to analyze whether current munitions planning would be able to meet wartime operational plans and consumption rates.

"This is probably one of our most important operational and tactical exercises for our ammo Airmen," said Chief Master Sgt. Melvin Jobe, PACAF evaluator. "It's the only thing that we have in our community across the entire combat Air Forces which allows us to evaluate, in large-scale, these capabilities and we are fortunate to be able to do that here in the Pacific."

Airmen were tasked to build 1,100 bombs in different configurations for different jets. Everything they did was timed by evaluators including their ability to react to abrupt time changes.

"I enjoy the fact that multiple units from essentially all over the U.S. and PACAF come together to work as a team and share different perspectives and ideas on how to get the job done quicker and more efficiently," said Senior Airman John Berthold, 36th MUNS munitions inspector. "It's beneficial because you may not have gotten to learn those if we didn't get to work as an integrated team."

Along with other munitions, CAPEX Airmen worked with general purpose bombs such as the Mark 82 and the Mark 84 bombs during the exercise.

"This exercise is important because it tests our unit and our visiting units' capabilities to rapidly assemble and deliver high volumes of munition assets and bombs to and from the flightline to different explosive locations within our munitions storage area," Berthold said.

Despite the added workload and long shifts of simulated contingency operations, the Airmen surpassed the original goal of building 1,100 munitions by building 1,344.

"The exercise was outstanding," Jobe said. "Over the past couple of days these munitions teams formed a deep, synergistic bond which forms the foundation of real combat capability and effectiveness.  They've far exceeded anyone's expectations and this year's CAPEX has been a real success."

Carter, Chinese Official Discuss Military Relationship

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 11, 2015 – Defense Secretary Ash Carter met at the Pentagon today with Gen. Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, Defense Department officials reported.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, officials said Carter stressed his commitment to developing a sustained and substantive U.S.-China military-to-military relationship based on a shared desire to deepen practical, concrete cooperation in areas of mutual interest, including humanitarian assistance and disaster response, peacekeeping, military medicine, counter-piracy, and constructive management of differences.

Carter and Fan exchanged views on key issues of mutual concern, officials said, including military-to-military relations, regional security, and maritime issues, including land reclamation in the South China Sea.

U.S. Concerns

“Secretary Carter reiterated U.S. concerns on the South China Sea, and called on China and all claimants to implement a lasting halt on land reclamation, cease further militarization, and pursue a peaceful resolution of territorial disputes in accordance with international law,” the Pentagon statement said.

Carter also reaffirmed his commitment to reach consensus on the air-to-air annex to the Rules of Behavior for the Safety of Air and Maritime Encounters Memorandum of Understanding by September, officials said, explaining that this annex will reduce the risk of miscalculation or accidents when the two countries' aircraft operate in close proximity.

Dialogue Mechanism Framework Document

Carter is pleased that Fan and Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff, will witness the signing the U.S.-China Army-to-Army Dialogue Mechanism framework document tomorrow, the statement said. This framework will open a new channel for leaders in the two armies to raise and discuss issues of mutual concern, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster response practices, they added.

The two sides have agreed to renew efforts to account for missing U.S. military personnel in China, the statement said, noting that a 2008 agreement to search for information relating to U.S. military personnel missing in action before, during and after the Korean War will now be expanded to include personnel from the World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Soldier Missing From Vietnam War Accounted For

The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of three servicemen, missing from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be buried with full military honors.

Army Chief Warrant Officers 3 James L. Phipps of Mattoon, Illinios, and Rainer S. Ramos of Wiesbaden, Germany, were the pilots of a UH-1C Iroquois (Huey) helicopter gunship that was shot down in Quang Tin Province, South Vietnam. Also aboard the aircraft were door gunners Staff Sgt. Warren Newton of Eugene, Oregon, and Spc. Fred J. Secrist of Eugene, Oregon. The crew was assigned to Troop C, 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 14th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade. The crew will be buried, as a group, on June 17 at Arlington National Cemetery.

On Jan. 9, 1968, the crew was on a mission over Quang Tin Province (now part of Quang Nam Province), South Vietnam, when the Huey was struck by ground fire, causing it to crash and explode in a North Vietnamese bunker and trench system. The crew was declared missing in action. On Jan. 20, 1968, a U.S. led team recovered the body of Secrist and he was returned to his family for burial.

Between August 1993 and August 2011, U.S.-Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) teams surveyed and/or excavated the site three times. From Aug. 6-21, 2011, a joint U.S.-S.R.V. team recovered human remains and personal effects.

In the identification of the recovered remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) analyzed circumstantial evidence and used forensic identification tools, to include mitochondrial DNA, which matched Secrist’s sister and brother. Remains not individually identified represent the entire crew and will be buried as a group.

Today, 1,627 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. The U.S. government continues to work closely with the governments of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to recover Americans lost during the Vietnam War.