Military News

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Montana engineer squadron levels JBER flightline

by Staff Sgt. William Banton
JBER Public Affairs


7/17/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Gray clouds roll down the mountains, across the valley and over Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson as excavators demolish a proverbial mountain.
No one blinks as two F-22 Raptors take off over the construction site, causing a surge of sound on the already-noisy mound overlooking the flight line. 
The inconsistent Alaska weather, and the sounds of freedom, courtesy of America's premier fighter aircraft, have become par for the course for the Airmen working six-day weeks.

They are on a temporary duty assignment from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, as part of the 819th Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer (RED HORSE) Squadron.

"We are a self-contained unit and we can go anywhere in the world and operate," said Air Force Master Sgt. Isaac Moses, 819th RED HORSE project manager.

According to the Headquarters Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency, RED HORSE units are self-sufficient, 404-person mobile heavy construction squadrons capable of rapid response and independent operations in remote, high-threat environments worldwide.

They provide heavy repair capability and construction support when requirements exceed normal base civil engineer capabilities and where Army engineer support is not readily available.

"We use training projects, so if we [deploy] and are tasked with building a runway or setting up a base we already know how to run each piece of equipment and can just roll in and start working," Moses said.

While assigned to a training project, like at JBER, RED HORSE units work as if they were operating out of a deployed environment, he said.

In late May, RED HORSE began removing a hill at the end of one of the runways, hoping to make it easier for pilots to take off and land.

The JBER project originated after the dangers of the foliage around JBER's flight line were reassessed.

As an aircraft was approaching the runway on a north-to-south trajectory, pilots were required to fly over trees on a hill and then drop down onto the airfield.
This approach was complicated by the fact that the short length of the runway would require an aircraft to stop quickly.

"We came up here under a contract and chopped off about 700,000 cubic yards of material (trees), which basically brought the point of the hill down and opened it up so pilots could then see the airfield," said Robert McElroy, 673d Civil Engineer Squadron chief of construction management.

During this time, the 673d CES planned for the removal of the hill, an additional 2.5 million cubic yards of dirt, to ensure the glide slope for the runway was within Air Force regulations.

A single cubic yard of material is the equivalent of three feet in height, by three feet in length, by three feet in depth, and can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds.
The final project required the removal of more than seven billion pounds of dirt.

For comparison, the heaviest object ever directly weighed by Guinness World Records was the Kennedy Space Center Revolving Service Structure of launch pad 39B, weighing approximately 5.3 million pounds.

Projects like these are prioritized based on installation needs and then submitted Air Force-wide for additional support, which is where RED HORSE comes in, McElroy said.

Due to lower labor costs, using military assets can make allocated funds go further.

"The equipment is rented from companies here in Anchorage," Moses said. "Typically, we don't get to work with this equipment at the home station. We would normally operate equipment this size in a deployed environment, so this is a huge plus for us as an added training value."

The professionalism and capabilities provided by the 819th RED HORSE made for easy planning and communication with their counterparts at the 673d CES, McElroy said.

"When the RED HORSE folks stepped in, it was pretty easy to just stand there and say, "Here's our plan, here's what we need to get done, here's what we need to have when we are done moving everything," he said.  "Without even batting an eye, they said 'we can do that.'"

RED HORSE units usually operate by first assigning a project engineer, usually a company grade officer, as well as a project manager, usually a senior noncommissioned officer.

They work with local subject matter experts to coordinate the needed resources prior to arriving on location.

"[The project] is scheduled for three years, but at the rate they are moving, I don't think it will take three years," McElroy said.

The 819th RED HORSE is scheduled to finish up the first phase of construction in early September and to return next spring to continue construction.

"This year we did a three-month and maybe next year we are looking at coming up for four," Moses said. "Now we know exactly what we got into and what we need. Like Mr. McElroy said, maybe next year we could be close to finishing."

Carter Recognizes Agency Devoted to Improvised Threats



By Melissa Tune
Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2015 – Defense Secretary Ash Carter presented the Joint Meritorious Unit Award to the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization -- now called the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency -- in a Pentagon ceremony yesterday.

“You are founders and pioneers in the things that you’ve done for the department,” Carter said. “You made rapid acquisition what it is today. We recognize your contributions and applaud the great things you’ve done to make a difference against IEDs.”

Flanked by members of the unit, Carter presented the award to JIDA’s director, Army Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson. Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, also was on hand.

The award recognizes the agency for its efforts in mitigating the IED threat from 2006 to 2012 in support of operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn. The citation said the efforts of the agency have directly assisted U.S. and coalition forces.

Team Effort

Johnson credited a greater team for the work that earned the award, noting that the agency’s personnel for its efforts in mitigating the IED threat from 2006 to 2012 in support of operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn. worked with the services, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the commanders and troops in the field.

“This was a true team effort,” he said. “JIDA will dedicate itself to meeting warfighters’ urgent needs through even greater collaboration in the future.”

At the end of the ceremony, Johnson presented Carter with the last official JIEDDO challenge coin to signify the legacy of the old organization and JIDA’s establishment earlier this week.

JIEDDO was established in 2006 to counter the emerging threats presented by IEDs. In March, Defense Department officials announced JIEDDO’s transition from a wartime activity to a defense agency under the authority, direction and control of Kendall’s office.

Any military member assigned to JIEDDO from 2006 through 2012 is authorized to wear this Joint Meritorious Unit Award.

Command kicks off fifth Global Strike Challenge

by Carla Pampe
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs


7/17/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Teams from across Air Force Global Strike Command, as well as the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command, Air Force Materiel Command and Air Combat Command, begin competing in the fifth Global Strike Challenge this week.

Global Strike Challenge is the world's premier bomber, Intercontinental Ballistic Missile and security forces competition. Through competition and teamwork, the event looks to foster esprit de corps, recognize outstanding AFGSC personnel and teams and improve combat capabilities.

Operations, maintenance and security forces teams from bomber and missile wings will compete to be named best-of-the-best. All units supporting the AFGSC mission have been invited to compete through November, showcasing their expertise, skill and capabilities.

More than 450 Airmen will take part in Global Strike Challenge competitions at various locations throughout the country, culminating in a symposium and score posting event at Barksdale Oct. 20-21.

The following units will compete in Global Strike Challenge 2015; Barksdale AFB's 2nd and 307th (AFRC) Bomb Wings, 49th Test Squadron and 340th Weapons School; Minot AFB's 5th Bomb Wing, 91st Missile Wing and 219th Security Forces Squadron (ANG); Whiteman AFB's 509th and 131st (ANG) Bomb Wings; F.E. Warren AFB's 90th Missile Wing and 582nd Helicopter Group; Malmstrom AFB's 341st Missile Wing; Ellsworth's 28th Bomb Wing, Dyess AFB's 7th Bomb Wing, Kirtland AFB's 377th Security Forces Group.

Competition began this week, and continues through the summer and into fall.

Face of Defense: Military Leader by Day, Spin Instructor by Night



By Air Force Airman 1st Class Lynette M. Rolen
18th Wing

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan, July 17, 2015 – With her energetic voice, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Bethany A. Watson commands the room full of cyclists from her lead stationary bicycle as they pedal vigorously in the dimly lit, music-filled exercise room at Risner Fitness Center here.

As she guides the rapidly exhausting class members through the rigorous spin workout, it becomes more and more evident: leading is in her blood. Watson is the noncommissioned officer in charge at Kadena’s First Term Airman Center, and she’s one of the first leaders new airmen meet when they arrive here for their first duty assignment.

"The whole reason I came to FTAC in the first place is because I had a rough time as an airman," she said. "I wasn't focused. I didn't know what I was doing and many other things. I was just floundering. That's really why I wanted to come and do this job specifically. I just really have a heart for the airmen -- to get them started out on the right path. "

Incredible Sense of Care

Air Force Master Sgt. Cedric Foster, 18th Wing career assistance advisor and Watson's supervisor, said she demonstrates an incredible sense of care with her FTAC airmen and her spin class members.

"That consistent ability to care for airmen, regardless of who they are or where they work, is really phenomenal," Foster said. Watson became an FTAC instructor in July 2014 in hopes of helping airmen have a great start to their Air Force careers, she said. That same desire to help is behind her spin class instruction, she added, to set her class members on the path to a healthy lifestyle.

Spin is a cardio-based workout that focuses on resistance training. The exercises are carried out on a stationary bicycle with variable resistance settings. The workout can be challenging, but to Watson, the environment makes it enjoyable.

"I always love group fitness and group activities," she said. Watson has been leading the spin class since December. She was introduced to spin in 2010 at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, where one of her co-workers was the instructor. Though a workout on a stationary bicycle can often seem dull, Watson said, she ensures that her workouts are quite the opposite.

Transforming Drudgery to Excitement

She takes what would be a routine workout and transforms it into an enjoyable one. In the exercise room, the lights are turned down and music is played to the speed of the workout. Watson’s personality changes the environment from one of drudgery to one of excitement and friendship.

"She's evolved that program," Foster said. "It's almost like a camaraderie [or] family kind of deal. I can just tell on the Tuesdays and Thursdays that they go, that people really want to be there. They look forward to being there, because it's just a different way of keeping your cardio up and staying physically fit."

Knowing that people rely on her for their physical fitness training is a great motivator, Watson said, and the camaraderie is her inspiration. "If you know that someone's counting on you to be there, like I know my class is counting on me to be there, it kind of gets you there," Watson said. "It motivates you to get there. As soon as I walk in there and I see everybody, I'm like 'Yes, let's do this!'"