Military News

Friday, June 26, 2015

US Air Force Airborne Air Control Squadron tests upgraded AWACS platform at Northern Edge 2015

by Chief Petty Officer Larry Foos
NE15 Joint Information Bureau Public Affairs


6/26/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- Calmly soaring at 30,000 feet in the midst of nearly 100 fighters, bombers and refueling tankers executing a battle scenario, an Air Force E-3G Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) surveys every aircraft in a 300 mile radius, calling out commands, verifying target hits and sending aircraft back home safely.

Threat detection, improvisation, air battle management - it was all part of a typical mission for the E-3G crew of the U.S. Air Force 964th and 966th Airborne Air Control Squadron (AACS), Oklahoma City during Exercise Northern Edge 2015 in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex.

"We provide the command and control of the aircraft. It's our job to oversee what's going on, and in real time, make changes in the air," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Dan Sprunger, 964th AACS mission crew commander. "We run the tanker plan so when guys need gas, we send them there. If guys need to fall out, we shift aircraft around. We're like the chess master of the game."

With as many as 24 weapons officers, surveillance officers, radar and communication technicians, and flight deck crew on a single E-3G Northern Edge mission, the AACS gained not only valuable, high-tempo warfare experience, but also met specific testing goals. The E-3G aircraft carries an upgraded computer platform for their weapons and surveillance scopes, known as the 4045. It advances their old operating system by about 30 years. Northern Edge enabled AWACS personnel to try the new system and they quickly learned the value of the new features.

"It provides more situational awareness," said 1st Lt. Breann Hermann, 964th AACS air weapons officer. "You can personalize it and now you can build unlimited airspaces. It's more reliable and more technologically advanced."

After each mission, the crew provides feedback how the 4045 system worked and offer potential areas of improvement. Overall, it's been a success.

"The system cuts down on (operator's) steps. The ease of use is drastically higher, and the tracking process goes faster," Sprunger said.

By the end of the two-week, biannual Northern Edge exercise, the AACS' squadrons will have completed approximately 15 command and control missions using both old and new systems. Both AWACS aircraft effectively brought dozens of aircraft in and out of the battle range safely and successfully hitting their targets.

Alaska's premier joint training exercise, Northern Edge combined approximately 200 military aircraft from all services to practice operations, techniques and procedures while simultaneously enhancing interoperability within the JPARC and the Navy's Temporary Maritime Activities Area located in the Gulf of Alaska. Some 6,000 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from active duty, Reserve and National Guard units participated.

POL keeps planes in the air during Exercise Northern Edge

by Chief Petty Officer Larry Foos
NE15 Joint Information Bureau Public Affairs


6/26/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- Over the course of the two-week-long exercise, known as Northern Edge 15 participants practiced tactics, techniques and procedures in vast Alaskan training ranges. The designated areas include a 42,000 square nautical miles in the Gulf of Alaska, 65,000 square miles of airspace and nearly 2,500 square miles of land space known as the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex.

The planned high operational tempo of Exercise Northern Edge and the influx of manpower and machinery created several logistical hurdles. Critical to these missions is the accurate allocation and timely delivery of fuels.

The 673rd Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) have stepped up to the pump to deliver an average of 360,000 gallons of fuel to Exercise Northern Edge participants and home station units every day.

Keeping these state-of-the-art fighters, air transports and support vehicles operational is a complex and well-orchestrated logistical dance of planning, maintenance and manpower. A fleet of R-11 Refuelers, each boasting a 6,000 gallon capacity are dispatched and able to dispense up to 600-gallons a minute into awaiting aircraft.

"Prior to the start of Northern Edge, 18 R-11 Refuelers serviced an average of 50 aircraft a day, dispensing as much as 150,000 gallons of fuel," said Senior Master Sgt. Ronald Crowl, 673rd LRS. "In anticipation of the influx of aircrafts, two R-11 Refuelers and seven crew members were added to assist with the demands of the exercise."

Transports and fighter aircraft filled with personnel and equipment landed at Alaskan bases just days before the start of Northern Edge 15, each staking claim to sections of flightline. In all, 36 units from across the Asia-Pacific theater and the lower 48 set up a temporary homes in hangars spanning the four corners of the airfield.

"Since the start of the exercise we have had a sound line of communication between the Fuels Service Center and the air wings, allowing us to best coordinate deliveries," said Crowl. "We were prepared to be overwhelmed and with an addition of a fourth shift to create an overlap of drivers, I'd say we are performing like a well-oiled machine."

The professionalism and innovations demonstrated by the 673rd LRS Fuels Management Flight was recently recognized by the American Petroleum Institute (API) with an award as the best in the Air Force for 2014."We are very proud of the hard work we do and the innovations we have instituted to better our operations," said Tech. Sgt. Ronald Aragon, 673rd LRS.

Over a hundred launch and recoveries are performed daily during the exercise where advanced aircraft like the Navy's F-18 Super Hornet and the Air Force's F-22 Raptor provide refueling crews different challenges and communication strategies between the services.

"This exercise has been a great opportunity to learn about the difference and similarities of each platform," said Airman 1st Class Sengchanh Seuam, 673rdLRS - Petroleum, Oils and Liquids - Fuel Distribution operator.

The sharing of information will be invaluable when working in a joint environment.

Northern Edge is one in a series of U.S. Pacific Command exercises in 2015 that prepares joint forces to respond to crisis in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. 6,000 service members and approximately 200 aircraft from every branch of the military have descended on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska.

DoD Receives ‘A’ Grade in Small Business Procurement



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

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2015 – The U.S. Small Business Administration today recognized the Defense Department for its leadership within the federal government and commitment to improving small business procurement.

During a news briefing with Pentagon reporters, Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, was joined by SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet to announce the results of the fiscal year 2014 Small Business Federal Scorecard.

DoD Earns ‘A’

Contreras-Sweet said DoD improved upon its previous grade. Last year, she said, “we gave them a ‘B.’ This year, they received their first ‘A’ for awarding $54.3 billion in prime contracts to small businesses.”

“More than any other single agency,” she said, “it was the Department of Defense’s outstanding progress that allowed us to reach this new level. In fiscal year ’14, the department accounted for about two out of every three dollars deemed small business-eligible.”

Contreras-Sweet said it takes “leadership and coordination at the highest levels of government” to grow small business economy, and DoD is a “shining example” of what leadership can do.

Small Businesses Practical

Kendall said the Defense Department’s emphasis on small business procurement began five years ago with the Better Buying Power initiative, and that it was a practical way to leverage “great ideas” and economic stewardship.

“The department doesn’t encourage the use of small business just because we like small businesses,” he said. “We do it for very practical reasons. One of the greatest engines for innovation in this country is small businesses. Some people have great ideas and want to take them out and make them into businesses.

“The other,” he continued, “is the fact that small businesses, particularly in the services industry, tend to be leaner and more anxious to get work, and thus, tend to be more economic in many cases for the department.”

But it is up to DoD to reach out to these businesses, he said, and to present opportunities while embracing small businesses and finding vehicles to attract them to do business with the department.

‘Engine’ Driving DoD Efforts

Kendall credited Andre J. Gudger, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for manufacturing and industrial base policy, for carrying DoD “through most of this journey.” His dedication and commitment, he added, “are really the engine that has driven this effort.”

Through consistent, tenacious emphasis on small business over a protracted period of time, Kendall said, Gudger has led “steady progress” over the last few years.

The acquisition chief also recognized Kenyata L. Wesley, acting director for the Defense Department’s Office of Small Business Programs, for leading the small business force.

“We're continuing our progress,” Kendall said. “The small business community in the Department of Defense, the small business professionals who help everybody make the connection, to help organize the events and reach out, are a big part of this.”

But at the end of the day, he said, it’s the contracting people, managers and people spending the money at all levels across the department who actually do the work of awarding contracts to small business, and including small businesses in their procurement plans.

Services Embraced Progress

Kendall lauded the Army, the Navy and the Air Force’s willingness and enthusiasm in embracing bringing small businesses into doing business with DoD for the department’s ability to achieve progress.

DoD Not Satisfied

Kendall made it clear the department isn’t satisfied with an “A.”

“We’re going to go for an A-plus next year,” he said. “We’re on the track to get an ‘A’ again this year, but we can do better. And we have one category -- HUBZone -- in which I think we’ve got to stretch a little bit, but I think we can get there, and we’re committed to doing that.” The Historically Underutilized Business Zones program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities.

Another area Kendall said he is also particularly passionate about is disabled veterans. “That’s an area in which we have made a lot of progress, but I think we still have some ways to go,” he said. “And that one is obviously of particular concern to the department.”

Kendall thanked the SBA for recognizing the Defense Department, and he noted that over time, he’s learned the federal government goes as the Department of Defense goes with regard to small business.

“We have tried to deliver,” he said. “We came very close last year. In [2013 and 2014], we made it. We’re going to keep on that track.”

Face of Defense: Airman Beats Brain Tumor, Grateful for Games



By Shannon Collins
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

MARINE CORPS BASE, QUANTICO, Va., June 26, 2015 – Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Craig Zaleski didn’t earn a medal in the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games here this week, but he said the adaptive sports competition was an emotional and rewarding experience.

He competed in shot put and discus June 23, shot the recurve bow June 22 and rode the upright bicycle June 21.

Zaleski went to his first camp in January, where he was selected as an alternate before making the Air Force team.

“Just making the team was a tremendous feeling,” he said. “I do hope to medal one day, but adaptive sports, they help with recovery. Instead of calling myself a professional TV watcher, I can call myself a cyclist or an archer.

“Every morning I wake up here, I get emotional and fired up to be around other … athletes and to feel proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished in my recovery so far,” he said. “I’ve made friends for life here.”

Military Service

Zaleski deployed several times in his 21 years as an aerospace group equipment technician. He said his hardest deployment came in 1996, to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

On June 25, 1996, terrorists detonated a truck bomb containing 3,000 to 8,000 pounds of TNT at Khobar Towers, which housed U.S. and allied forces supporting the coalition air operation over Iraq, Operation Southern Watch. Nineteen airmen died, and about 500 troops were wounded.

“It struck the corner of the building, and I was in the middle,” he said. “I saw the aftermath. I saw this mushroom cloud of smoke. I thought we were going to get attacked again.”

Illness

Years later, Zaleski was stationed with his family at Kadena Air Base on the Japanese island of Okinawa when he began experiencing pressure in his sinuses. He then failed the Air Force physical fitness test for the first time in his career.

He went to the doctor for sinus medication, started training for the makeup PT test and took leave to spend time with his family. He had a seizure while on leave. At the hospital, his wife insisted the doctor perform an MRI, and as they were driving home, the doctor called them and told them they would be leaving within three days for Hawaii, because Zaleski had a brain tumor.

“It was pretty traumatic, because the kids barely had a chance to say goodbye to their friends, and we couldn’t pack up our household goods,” he said. “Plus, I had a brain tumor the size of my fist.”

He spent 200 days in the hospital. Portions of the tumor had to be left in place, because it went around his optic nerve, he said. He lost his senses of smell and taste, but now has regained 50 percent of his sense of taste. But the trauma of a tumor and recovery took its toll, and after 14 years of marriage, the Zaleskis separated.

Positive Outlook

Zaleski said he’s happy they found the tumor in time, and he keeps a positive outlook.

“I’m still recovering, and I want to be a good role model for my kids,” he said. “I could’ve easily turned to drinking or other bad habits, but I didn’t. It’s not worth it.”

Adaptive Sports

Adaptive sports have helped him maintain his athleticism, Zaleski said. He was a high school athlete and played intramural softball in the Air Force.

“I could be at work, but instead, I’m out riding a cycle or shooting archery; there’s no comparison,” he said. “It’s very relaxing. I’m getting a new recurve bow within the next month or so, and I’m going to start competing a little bit more.”

Hanscom Airman lauded for small business efforts

by Justin Oakes
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs


6/24/2015 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- For the first time since 2006, the Air Force exceeded its small business goals, ushering in the highest performance rating in the Service's history. Directly tied to this accomplishment are a handful of outstanding performers and teams who have made a significant contribution to the Air Force's small business efforts.

Don MacMillan is one such example.

MacMillan, a Hanscom AFB program manager, recently received the coveted Air Force Special Achievement Small Business Champion Award for his unique approach and extensive work within the Platform Engineering and Integration for Tactical and Strategic Systems contract.

PEITSS is not an actual program, but a contract vehicle designed for the procurement, integration, fielding and support of battle management and command and control systems.

"For me, this is a team award," said MacMillan, referencing support he received from leadership and contributions made by the local Hanscom Small Business Office. "The beauty of PEITSS is that Battle Management programs will be able to utilize this contract to submit delivery orders to a capable pool of contractors. And by doing so, we're going to see more program offices embrace what small businesses have to offer."

What set MacMillan apart from the rest of the competition could only be described as "an unprecedented level of high-intensity market research," according to his award nomination.

Instead of accepting the status quo that only a large company would be able to provide the support needed for the PEITSS contract, MacMillan took a different approach and began his in-depth look into other options.

With the help of the Hansom Small Business Office, he was able to reach out to more than 200 potential contractors. The research continued with one-on-one evaluations of each company, where he individually assessed each candidate's technical and business suitability.

"The amount of work Don put forward researching and looking for ways to include smaller companies was unreal," said Bill Donaldson, Hanscom Small Business director. "He definitely chose a harder route, but in the end, one that will have a great benefit to the Air Force and the U.S. warfighter."

The deep dive into small businesses took three years, but finally the results were in -- smaller contractors were, in fact, capable of supporting the PEITSS contract.

"Small businesses have the capability to make the PEITSS effort a success," MacMillan said. "I was determined to take this path because we've had good experiences working with these companies in the past, and we'll be able to deliver capabilities to the warfighter faster while also keeping costs low."

PEITSS was originally planned as a $450 million full and open source multi-award contract. However, after surveying other Battle Management programs and determining their suitability, MacMillan and other team members were able to link several future efforts. This resulted in an increased $538 million estimate contract ceiling and a new type of contract -- a multi-award indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract, which will not limit any type of contractor teaming arrangements.

"The work Mr. MacMillan put forward to ensure small business participation should be applauded," said Steven Wert, Battle Management program executive officer. "I expect the PEITSS contract to enable more innovative and agile business relationships with industry, especially for our Theater Battle Control programs."

Currently, the PEITSS contract is undergoing source selection, and the Air Force anticipates an award in fourth quarter this year.

"Outstanding Airmen like Mr. MacMillan, willing to put forth the extra effort, make a big difference for the Air Force and the small business program," said Mark Teskey, Air Force Small Business Programs director. "These contributions directly and positively impact the ability of the Air Force to increase competition in the marketplace, develop the small business industrial base, and provide vital, agile and affordable support to our warfighters both at home and abroad."

700 Students in Military Families Earn Scholarship Awards



By Mike Perron
Defense Commissary Agency

FORT LEE, Va., June 26, 2015 – Seven hundred students of military families will each receive a $2,000 scholarship this year, thanks to the 2015 Scholarships for Military Children program.

The scholarship, created in 2001, recognizes the contributions of military families to the readiness of the fighting force and celebrates the commissary’s role in enhancing military quality of life.

“The scholarship program helps improve educational opportunities for military children,” said Marye Carr, Defense Commissary Agency liaison for the program. “And at DeCA, we are proud to be a small part of honoring the best and the brightest young students in our military communities.”

No Government Funds Used

No government funds are used to support the program. DeCA’s industry partners -- vendors, manufacturers, brokers and suppliers -- and the general public donate money to fund the program. Every dollar donated goes directly to funding the scholarships.

“I’ve always been amazed and impressed with the intelligence, the creativity and the dedication, the pursuit of scholastic excellence shown by these students,” said Michael J. Dowling, DeCA’s deputy director and chief operating officer.

“Our stores host awards ceremonies for scholarship recipients,” Dowling added, “and we all recognize the support of the many folks -- our industry partners and the Fisher House Foundation -- for making the scholarship possible.”

The scholarship program is administered by Fisher House Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to service members and their families.

Keen Competition

“The competition among applicants was keen,” said Fisher House Foundation Vice President Jim Weiskopf. “Those who were selected had excellent grades, had leadership positions in school extracurricular activities and were active volunteers in their communities. Some had full-time or part-time work experience. All wrote thoughtful, well-researched essays.”

Some 4,000 applications were submitted for this year’s scholarships. The number of scholarship awards each year is based on funds available, but the program awards at least $2,000 at each military commissary. If there are no eligible applicants from a given commissary, the funds designated for that commissary are awarded as an additional scholarship at a different store.

Planning for next year’s program is underway, and an announcement of open dates to apply is usually made in the fall. “For the coming year’s scholarship program, we will remind students the program is open with banners at commissary entrances,” Carr said.

Applications will be available in commissaries worldwide and online at http://www.militaryscholar.org. To apply for a scholarship, a student must be a dependent, unmarried child, younger than 21 -- or 23, if already enrolled as a full-time student at a college or university -- of a service member on active duty, a reservist, a Guardsman, a retiree or a survivor of a military member who died while on active duty or of a retiree.

Applicants should ensure that they, as well as their sponsor, are enrolled in the DEERS database and have a current military ID card, officials said.