Thursday, June 25, 2015

McChord commander summits mountains with squadron pride

by Airman 1st Class Keoni Chavarria
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/23/2015 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- If you wanted to show the pride you have with the Airmen you work with every day, how would you do it?

To show his pride, Maj. Clinton Varty, 62nd Maintenance Squadron commander, has carried the 62nd MXS flag to the summit of Mount Rainier, Mount Baker and Mount Adams, the three highest mountains in Washington.

"Taking the flag up was something I found important. I wanted to carry the pride of our squadron up these mountains, and I hope it encourages more Airmen to get out there," said Varty.

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Varty has also accomplished a long awaited goal he has had since he was a child.

"I have admired Mount Rainier my whole life growing up and looking at it," said Varty.  "When I look up at the summit now, it's cool knowing I've climbed the mountain."

To prepare for the hikes, Varty and his partner practiced rescue procedures, checked their gear to ensure they are ready, and went into the climb knowing that there is a possibility that something bad could happen.

"For Mount Rainier, we even did three training climbs with our packs containing all of our gear to prepare," said Varty.

Even though Varty thoroughly panned each hike, it did not eliminate all of its challenges.

"Coming down with a pack and heavy gear, going down a steep hill was more nerve racking then going up because you are looking down."

On all three of the hikes, Varty set up camp to stay on the mountain for the night.

"The hard part was trying to get some sleep at 8 p.m. in the summer while the suns still out," said Varty.

A key point to the hike was to keep moving, according to the major.

"You don't want to stop," he said. "At above 10,000 feet, if you stop for more than 10 minutes your face, hands and feet start to get cold along with the sweat on you. It takes about half an hour for you to get warmed up again."

Varty added that one thing that pushed him through the hike was the belief of mind over matter.

"If you put your mind to anything, you can accomplish it," said Varty. "Physically it was difficult, but if you keep your end goal in mind, which was the summit, you will be able to do it."

During the time of these climbs, Varty was a newcomer to the world of hiking, but he hopes that in the near future he will be able to take other Airmen that are interested out to the summit.

"I highly encourage all Airmen to get outdoors and explore the Pacific Northwest. There are oceans, rainforest, skiing, and amazing hiking, climbing, and camping areas out here," said Varty.

For more information on these opportunities contact the Northwest Adventure Center at 253-967-8282.

Hot maintenance

by Airman 1st Class Zachary Cacicia
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/23/2015 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Carrying out maintenance on Team Dover's fleet of C-5M Super Galaxies and C-17A Globemaster IIIs can be challenging at times, but extreme heat and humidity can add additional challenges during the summer months.

Throughout the hottest months of the year, Team Dover Airmen from the 436th and 512th Maintenance Groups regularly spend their work days sweltering through 90-plus degree Fahrenheit temperatures, the scorching sun and extreme humidity.

"It's exhausting at times, you have to stay hydrated," said Airman 1st Class Kyle Ahearn, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief.

Ahearn and his fellow Airmen of the 436th AMXS work maintenance on Team Dover's C-5Ms, spending most of their time out on Dover AFB's flight line where the aircraft are parked. They are responsible for the everyday maintenance and inspections of the airframes and components. This occasionally requires them to crawl into tight confined spaces to perform this maintenance.

"Confined spaces in a C-5 get really hot," Ahearn said. "Heat rises, so anytime you are upstairs or in any enclosed space without a hatch or door open, the heat can really get to you."

But many Airmen actually prefer the hot weather. Originally from a much warmer part of the country, Airman 1st Class Ryan Forslund, 436th AMXS crew chief, feels this way.

"Me personally, I love it," Forslund said. "I'm from Texas, so I love the heat and I dislike the cold. I love coming out here and working in the sun."

Forslund takes satisfaction from working in the extreme heat.

"I know it's gross," he said. "But when I work and get all sweaty, it just makes me feel more accomplished."

For the maintenance Airmen, staying safe in the hot weather means that proper hydration is key.

"It's hot!," said Senior Airman Shaquille Taylor, 436th AMXS crew chief. "It's important to hydrate and get as much shade as possible; otherwise it's like working in a microwave."

But even when the heat index rises well about the 100 degree Fahrenheit mark, most maintainers prefer it to the sub-zero temperatures they experience every winter.

"The cold is the worst," Taylor said. "When it's cold, your fingers get stiff; when it's hot, you can just sweat and get through it."

Staff Sgt. Peter Aguilar, 736th AMXS communications countermeasures navigation technician, agrees that the winter is worse.

"We sometimes have to work with tools without wearing gloves and it really hurts your hands," Aguilar said.

Forslund, who frequently crawls into tight spaces on an aircraft, has issues with the cold as well.

"Having to wear multiple layers in the winter makes it tough to access confined spaces," he said. "During the summer, I just wear what I am required and it's a lot easier."

Master Sgt. William Garcia, 436th AMXS first sergeant, is consistently pleased with the hard work that his Airmen perform, regardless of the working conditions.

"When I see the maintainers out there in environments, whether it be heat, cold, snow, whatever it may be; I'm always amazed by their professionalism and getting the job done," said Garcia. "They don't complain, they don't moan, they do what they got to do, and they do a great job, day-in and day-out."

Spiritual doctors support Airmen

by Airman 1st Class Kathleen D. Bryant
23d Wing Public Affairs

6/25/2015 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga.  -- They don't work in hospitals, wear lab coats or fix broken bones but they can heal hidden wounds. Some people may refer to them as pastors, while others consider them counselors. But these spiritual doctors are known to the military as chaplains.

Chaplains work 24/7 to help Team Moody members cope in life through counseling and carry the responsibility of their welfare, morale and spiritual fitness.

"We are truly committed to taking care of our people," said U.S. Air Force Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Kim Bowen, 23d Wing chaplain. "Sometimes the awareness that people have or don't have [about counseling] makes all the difference in the world as to what we offer. We understand that not everybody's religious. The Air Force understands that, but it also understands that we are all, at least in part, spiritual."

Although church is their workplace, much of what chaplains do fall outside the realm of religion.

"We hope that people know we are a counseling resource here as well," said Bowen. "Principally because of the privileged communication that we offer. No other agency has that level of confidentiality."

Privileged communication, under Military Rules of Evidence 503, means that anything you speak to a chaplain or chaplain assistant about in a counseling setting is confidential.

"We can't release that information to anyone without written permission from the member," said Master Sgt. John Davis, 23d Wing chaplain assistant. "It's a really good service we have, because there may be someone experiencing difficulties at home or in the workplace. A lot of times they just need to vent without fear of retribution or being judged. That privilege, being able to share that with us so we can help them through that difficult time, is a really good thing. It's make them comfortable and more willing to share."

Chaplains counsel during the day, but also work around the clock in order to help Airmen connect with their spirituality.

"We deal with all sorts of elements of life, from cradle-to-grave--literally," said Bowen. "Whether someone's celebrating something or someone has received some bad news, we are available all the time. Sometimes that comes in the middle of the night. We always have a chaplain on call. You can reach them by calling the command post. [They have] a list of our schedule."

Chaplains rotate being on call on a weekly basis and during the day work side-by-side with their assistants.

"Chaplain assistants are a vital part of the Chaplain Corps," said Bowen. "They manage the chapel when it comes to the administrative, logistical and financial side of how things are run."

Chaplains and chaplain assistants work together as a unit, also known as a Religious Support Team to accommodate the needs of the base.

"We operate on the group-level in RSTs," said Bowen. "What we do [on a daily basis] depends on the needs of each unit. For example, if a traumatic event happens[such as death] in a unit we work with the leadership to come up with a response plan, help advise the unit and participate in the memorial service."

Each RST finds the time to visit their assigned group on base, such as the Medical Group, the Mission Support Group, the Maintenance Group and the Fighter and Rescue Group.

"Years ago, when I came in as young Airman Basic Bowen, if you wanted to find a chaplain you'd go to the chapel," said Bowen. "Well [since then] we've realized we have to get outside the chapel and be with the people. We are a lot more mobile so we can build relationships with people. We are only as affective as those relationships of trust that we've built."

A chaplain's mobility goes beyond their home base and extends into all parts of the world, even deployed locations, in order to support Airmen everywhere.

"It's an interesting thing what happens when people get away from the comforts of home," said Bowen. "They start to really think about the purpose and the meaning of life. They start evaluating their lives and relationships back home and that can stir up some things. So there is an increase in [the need for] counseling that we do in overseas locations."

Service members may seek out chaplains frequently in a deployed environment, but chaplains have been one of the military's resources for over two centuries.

Marksmanship on Display at DoD Warrior Games

By Karen Parrish
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2015 – Tomorrow's competition at the 2015 Defense Department Warrior Games will feature shooting, long the foundation of success in battle.

This year’s Warrior Games began June 19 at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia and run through June 28.

The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines -- all sponsoring competitors in this year’s Games -- place varying emphasis on marksmanship skills in their initial training phases for recruits, based on their core missions.

Service Requirements


-- Week four, marksmanship training, starting with issue of the Army’s individual standard weapon, the M16A2. According to the Army’s website, “You will be taught everything there is to know about this weapon. Learning to shoot a rifle is more than pulling the trigger. Marksmanship courses will teach you not only the proper way to hold a weapon, but also how to breathe and shoot from many different positions.”

-- Week five, trials, including the basic rifle marksmanship qualification course.


-- Week four, weapon safety training, weapon on-range training.

Air Force:

-- Week one, weapon issue, weapon parts identification.

-- Week two, weapon handling and maintenance.

-- Week four, weapons evaluation [breakdown and assembly].

Marine Corps:

-- Week 1, marksmanship basics “without firing ammunition [and] while sitting, kneeling, standing and lying down,” according to the Marine Corps site. “Marksmanship instructors teach recruits that the principle difference between pulling a trigger and being a rifleman is having complete control over their rifle and their body.”

-- Week 2, firing week: live fire exercises, learning to fire from any position and at ranges of 200, 300 and 500 yards. Recruits begin with 50 rounds of “slow fire,” one shot at a time, and progress to rapid fire with 10 shots in a row.

“On qualification day,” according to the Marine Corps, “recruits strive for their highest score out of 250 points on the Field Fire portion and the Known Distance course. They will earn the Rifle Marksman badge, the Rifle Sharpshooter badge or the coveted ‘Crossed Rifles’ badge.”

F-18 Hornets at NE15: Lessons learned on how to communicate from a force multiplier

by Staff Sgt. William Banton
NE15 Joint Information Bureau Public Affairs

6/25/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Exercise Northern Edge 2015 played host to a "force multiplier" capability giving operational commanders flexibility when employing tactical aircraft in a rapidly changing battle scenario.

The F/A-18 Hornet strike fighter is according to the nation's first strike fighter, was designed for traditional strike applications such as interdiction and close air support without compromising its fighter capabilities. But how do you integrate traditional strike applications in to the Northern Edge exercise environment, which is designed to sharpen tactical combat skills, improve command, control and communication relationships, and develop joint interoperability?

"A lot of the tactics are very similar [between the services], obviously there are different capabilities on both sides but for the most part, at the base line, the tactics are relatively similar," U.S. Navy Lt. Nicholas Fritzhand, F/A-18, weapons systems officer. "It's the language we use to talk about things, which is completely different now. "

NE-15 provides a unique opportunity to increase operational knowledge of other services airframes, however, for the most part, the tactical mission sets different airframes preform are similar across all branches, he said. For example, a Navy fighter is capable of doing escorts and fleet air defense but if it was assigned an attack mission it would also be able to perform force projection, interdiction and close and deep air support.

"The learning process for us is getting there after an event," Fritzhand said. "The [mission] will take us an hour of being in the sky fighting, but we will spend four hours debriefing."

Part of this process takes place as the pilots unwind from the day's events.

"We may end (the day) drawing arrows (representing the day's events) saying 'okay when we do this the Air Force uses that kind of language,'" he said.

An advantage to a joint exercise involving approximately 200 aircraft from all service branches and units including U.S. Pacific Command, Alaskan Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Pacific Air Forces, Marine Corps Forces Pacific, U.S. Army Pacific, Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command, Air Force Materiel Command, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command and U.S. Naval Reserve is the proximity to a knowledge base pilots usually don't have access to.

"Next door there is a Raptor squadron. Next to them there is an F-15 squadron. We are able to just go over there and ask these guys, 'hey, when you said that what does that mean? Would you mind coming over here and drawing us some arrows? What does your tactics involve when we set this kind of presentation,'" Fritzhand said.

These types of lessons are also carrying over to the maintainers who help keep the fighters flying.

"Not many people realize the amount of inspections and maintenance we do and the number of hours we put in," said Aviation Electrician's' Mate 3rd Class Lucas McLean.

People have spent days, if not weeks' worth of time, just to get one aircraft off the ground we don't want to put all that work to waste, he said.

"We have to exhaust every resource we have even if that means we have to go to every squadron and say 'we need this part' and if it's not available [the aircraft] is going to get bumped out,'" McLean said.

Like the pilots, a lot of the interaction and learning on how to operate within other branches environment happens after regular duty hours.

"It's great because they live a totally different life," McLean said. "It's like you're growing up and you have couple of brothers who all go different routes in life and then you get together at Christmas. Everyone wants to talk about what they do. Everyone has great stories. You get to hear about their experiences. Everyone does things slightly differently and you think your stuff is the coolest."

Intel Community Aims to Maintain U.S. Military Advantage

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2015 – U.S. dominance will shrink in the new multipolar world but the military is working to maintain its advantage, Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre said at the GeoInt Symposium here today.

“We’ve laid out detailed strategies and investment plans for preserving and growing key capabilities that make up our strongest advantages,” Lettre said.

These include special operations forces, power projection, space capabilities, cyber defense and in intelligence collection and analysis.

Defense Intelligence Undergoing a Transformation

Defense intelligence is undergoing a transformation, Lettre said. The intelligence community will concentrate on global coverage, anti-access/area denial capabilities, counterterrorism and counterproliferation capabilities and protection from insider threats.

In addition, DoD must ensure the “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities provide the warfighter with the ability needed and particularly that it is persistent, resilient and innovative,” he said.

Lettre noted there will be two types of intelligence support for operations. First, he said, intelligence professionals must enhance their capabilities against terror groups in the Middle East, Africa and other areas of the world.

“Second, we must ensure that [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] capabilities are available to support potential conflicts against nations or peer competitors, including ones that might be fielding very capable anti-access/area denial capabilities,” Lettre said.

DoD must fund enough ISR capabilities to cover the full range of conflict, he added.

Funding Space-Based Capabilities

It also must fund space-based capabilities and protect them, Lettre said. China has demonstrated the ability to shoot down satellites. Russian strategy calls for conflict in space.

This is expensive, but necessary, Lettre said, because many earthbound capabilities rely on information, whether generated in space or information that travels through space.

Lettre noted that while the intelligence community does a good job with fixed sites, it is less able in tracking mobile targets. Mobile missile launchers are a problem and only persistent geospatial intelligence will solve this, he said.

“We believe the future solution is an integrated overhead architecture, a system of multiple layers tightly linked with airborne systems,” Lettre said.

Carter Meets With Dutch Defense Minister at NATO Ministerial

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2015 – Defense Secretary Ash Carter met today with Netherlands Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert at the NATO Defense Ministerial in Brussels to discuss the U.S.-Dutch defense partnership, according to a DoD news release.

The two leaders also discussed commitment to NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force and European security, the release said.

Carter thanked Hennis-Plasschaert for the Netherlands partnership with the VJTF and for making progress toward fulfilling the commitment made by NATO member nations at last year’s defense ministerial in Wales to spend a minimum of 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense, the release said.

Carter also reaffirmed America's commitment to transatlantic security, citing Operation Atlantic Resolve as an example of that commitment, the release said.

The U.S. defense secretary also thanked the minister for the contributions of the Netherlands, including trainers and airstrikes, to the coalition to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and for their support of United Nations peacekeeping operations, the release said.