Tuesday, July 21, 2015

JSTARS Airmen welcome ANG Command Chief Hotaling

by Senior Master Sgt. Roger Parsons
116th Air Control Wing Public Affairs

7/20/2015 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The Air National Guard's top enlisted advisor spent the day with Airmen from the 116th Air Control Wing, Georgia Air National Guard, sharing key messages from his Aim Points and listening to their concerns during his visit here, July 16.

During his visit, Chief Master Sgt. James W. Hotaling, command chief of the Air National Guard, focused on personal interaction with Airmen, conducted two town hall style meetings and met with key enlisted leadership councils and Airmen resiliency representatives.

"There are three things that I think are effecting the Air National Guard right now from an enlisted perspective that we have to get our arms around," shared Hotaling during the enlisted town hall meetings.

"We have to recommit to the profession of arms, ... we need to really be concerned about the health of our force, ...  and recognizing and embracing how awesome you are here at the Georgia Air National Guard and the 116th", said Hotaling.

Each town hall meeting ended with a question and answer session where the chief opened the floor for Airmen to ask anything that was on their minds.

"It was nice having the Chief of the Air National Guard come down and talk to us said," Tech. Sgt. Ronnie Stevens, an airborne radar technician with the 129th Combat Training Squadron. "It was really about getting the Georgia Air National Guardsmen to remember where they came from."

After an early morning session with the Airmen, Hotaling took the opportunity to put one of his key messages in action as he recognized five Airmen; presenting them with his personal challenge coin for their contributions to the JSTARS and Air National Guard missions.

"I was proud to be recognized by the Command Chief of the Air National Guard," said Staff Sgt. Johnathan Strand, a surveillance radar technician with the 116th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "He told me we were images of what the Air National Guard represents and to keep up the good work."

Another group of selected Airmen from both the 116th ACW and the 202nd Engineering Installation Squadron got some face-to-face time with the chief over lunch.

While sharing the story of his career, Hotaling told how he achieved his personal goals leading to the ANG's top enlisted spot.

"Those were personal goals, but they were all built off of solid foundational leadership," said Hotaling. "To be successful in your career it's all laid out there for you. It's a matter of you executing it."

As the day came to a close, Hotaling pointed to the American flag and the wing's newest Airmen to give the audience some perspective during an afternoon town hall meeting.

"You need to look at two things in this room that are probably the most important things," said Hotaling.  "The flag that's in the corner and that young Airmen right there," pointing to Airman 1st Class Willow Gragg, 116th Security Forces Squadron.

"That's what it's all about. We're doing it for that," pointing to the American flag, "and we're doing it with Airmen."

The 116th Air Control Wing is the sole location for the E-8C Joint STARS flying operation providing manned battle management, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to combat commanders around the globe.

Arizona Airmen memorialize fallen Iraqi fighter pilot

by 2nd Lt. Lacey Roberts
162nd Wing Public Affairs

7/16/2015 - TUCSON, Ariz. -- Members of the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Wing honored the life and memory of Iraqi Air Force Brig. Gen. Rasid Mohammed Sideeq Hasan during a memorial service here July 7.

Hasan died June 24 after his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed near Douglas, Arizona, during a night training mission.  He trained with Air Guard members at Tucson International Airport since 2010.

"General Hasan devoted 25 years of service to his country," said Col. Phil Purcell, commander of the 162nd Wing.  "We have lost one of our own and we grieve with his family and countrymen."

During the service each speaker expressed the significance of the sacrifices and dedication to service that he made in his quest to become an F-16 pilot.

Every fighter pilot works hard to acquire the skills necessary to employ an F-16, but he did it worlds away from his home, his wife and his children, said Purcell.

Among those in attendance were other Iraqi student pilots.

"General Hasan was our brother and leader," said one Iraqi pilot. "He made sacrifices for us during his time with us. By his outstanding example, he gave us strength and inspiration. He was dedicated to the Iraqi pilot training program here and each of the fighter pilots training with him."

As he contemplated the idea of one day returning home, he wanted to stay in Tucson for his fellow airmen, said Lt. Col. Brant Putnam, commander of the 152nd Fighter Squadron, speaking of his last conversation with Hasan.

Putnam assured each Iraqi pilot that the 162nd Wing would continue to take care of them.  He also challenged them to help fulfill Hasan's vision for Iraqi fighter pilots.

"Hasan said that his wish was for Iraqi pilots to be focused and work together in Tucson, so they could fly and fight as one cohesive unit," said Putnam. "In so doing, you will become the fighting force your country sent you here to become; and the best part of all is that you will grant General Hasan his wish."

Hasan will eternally be remembered at the 162nd for giving the ultimate sacrifice. His name was engraved on the wing's granite memorial wall for all to see and pay tribute.

Iraqi pilots here said their final farewell to their wingman on July 11, when Hasan was transported home for his final resting.

"We take great pride in knowing the man and his commitment to family and countrymen. May he rest in peace," said Purcell.

Total force effort ensures successful typhoon evacuation

by Senior Airman Orlando Corpuz
154th Wing Public Affairs

7/17/2015 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- A C-17 Globemaster III cargo plane and crew  from the Hawaii Air National Guard evacuated more than 125 Department of Defense members from Wake Island, July 14, 2015.

The evacuation was executed as Typhoon Halola, which at the time was packing sustained winds in excess of 100-mph had a forecasted track that took it dangerously close to the isolated atoll located roughly 2300 miles west of the Hawaiian Islands.

Wake Island functions as a divert airfield or primary stopping point for cross-Pacific military flights. At any one time, more than 100 DoD personnel are on station to maintain and operate the airfield there.

It was planned to be a routine training day with roughly 3 hours of flying time around the Hawaiian Islands for the all guard crew who reported for duty that morning. Upon learning of the real world assignment, the crew sprang into action.

"We train for the unexpected. When leadership tasked us with the emergency evacuation of Wake Island, so many things go through your mind. Are we ready for this mission?  What dangers should we be aware of?" said aircraft commander, Capt. Skip Saito with the 204th Airlift Squadron.

"All questions aside, we were confident and ready to execute anything that was brought to us. That is what we train for."

The crew of 5 took off from Honolulu at 11am and roughly 4.5 hours later landed on Wake Island. With engines still running, Wake Island personnel and their personal effects were loaded onto the C-17. The C-17 was airborne just over 1 hour after landing, this time with a flight plan taking it to Andersen, AFB in Guam, where the evacuees would remain until the storm passed.

"As a Hawaii Air National Guard crew we are here for relief and humanitarian support in the event natural disaster hits the state of Hawaii. Expanding our support to the territories of the United States of America shows that we are not limited in what we do" said, Saito.

An evacuation mission such as this highlights Pacific Air Force's flexibility to generate air response quickly across the theater, a key component to air power.

"This was an exceptional team effort utilizing guard, active, and civilian members of our Air Force to safeguard life and property" said Air Force Col. Gregory Woodrow, vice-commander of the 154th Wing, Hawaii Air National Guard. "We are all extremely proud of the professionalism and can do attitudes displayed by all."

Canadian Detachment welcomes new commander

by John Parker
Tinker Public Affairs

7/21/2015 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The 552nd Air Control Wing Canadian Detachment gained a new commander last week.

Lt. Col. Don "Boc" Saunders took the reins from Lt. Col. Pete "Dozer" Dozois at a Tinker Club ceremony July 10.

Canadian Armed Forces Brig. Gen. Alain Pelletier, deputy commander of the Continental United States NORAD (North American Air Defense) region, said Colonel Saunders brings "vast experience in the command and control domain" to his new command.

"He knows the mission, knows the aircraft, knows some of you and is eager to get to work," the general said at the ceremony. "To you and Shannon (the colonel's wife) and to the whole family, we wish you a happy return to the 552nd wing and all the best in your command."

The Canadian ceremony was similar to those of the U.S. Air Force except for a few remarks in French, some Canadian accents and a bagpiper leading in and exiting the official party. Instead of passing a guidon, the three commanders simultaneously signed change of command certificates at a table at center stage.

Colonel Saunders previously served at Tinker AFB with the 964th Airborne Air Control Squadron, logging over 1,200 hours on E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft.

He has served in the Canadian and Alaskan NORAD defense sectors, ending his Alaskan tour as the region's chief of Command and Control Standards and Evaluation.

Colonel Saunders has also held the posts of deputy commanding officer of 21 Aerospace Control and Warning Squadron and commander of 51 Aerospace Control and Warning Squadron in North Bay, Ontario.

Colonel Saunders told detachment members that "Tinker is the only place that you can come to get an opportunity to be the best at what you have trained to do in your career." A Tinker posting is the best job available for members in the AWACS field, he said.

"It's an exclusive club because we only send our best here," Colonel Saunders said. "Someone along the way has identified each and every one of you and said you're the best at what you do, and that's why you're here. So to get a chance to be a commander of this unit is truly an honor."

General Pelletier said Colonel Dozois focused on readiness and meaningful contributions by the 42-member detachment to the 552nd ACW mission during his nearly three-year command. The colonel also focused on the detachment's charge to represent Canada, he said.

"You've put the right level of emphasis on the readiness of those troops and for that I'm really appreciative," the general said. "But you've also done and taken the element of ambassadorship with great pride because, obviously, wearing this uniform we stand out, not only at the front gate, but also in town in what we do."

Colonel Dozois said he is proud of the detachment's achievements as 552nd warriors.

"You have met your wing commander's priorities of combat operational personal readiness at every turn," he said, "and you guys have totally reset the bar for what Wingman readiness is all about in the way that you take care of each other and the way you've built your command and community. Awesome."

The ceremony also included a significant promotion for Chief Warrant Officer Guy Tremblay. The most senior ranking noncommissioned member of the Canadian Forces was commissioned and immediately promoted to captain.

New Jersey Air National Guard trains with Bulgarian air force at Thracian Star 2015

by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley
177th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

7/21/2015 - GRAF IGNATIEVO AIR BASE, Bulgaria -- Approximately 150 Airmen and eight F-16s from the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard traveled overseas to participate in Thracian Star 2015, a Bulgarian-led training exercise at Graf Ignatievo Air Force Base, Bulgaria, from 13-24, July.

Thracian Star is a bilateral, total force training event to enhance interoperability with the Bulgarian air force and to bolster readiness to conduct combined air operations.

"I'm very happy that the representatives of the New Jersey Air National Guard are here," said Bulgarian air force Brig. Gen. Ivan Lalov, Graf Ignatievo Air Base commander. "It is always beneficial for the both sides, and it goes in two directions. First, in the air combat training such as basic flight maneuvers, to make our way of flying similar to each other's and second, while we're not flying, we succeed in developing new relationships, friendships, cultural differences and interesting facts about each other and each other's country."

Flying training deployments are tremendous opportunities for the 177th aircrews to hone their operational skills from a forward operating location.

"The 119th Fighter Squadron is excited to participate in Thracian Star and it is a great opportunity for us to interact with our Bulgarian counterparts, train with them and show them how flying with them will strengthen our NATO alliance," said Lt. Col. Timothy Hassel, 119th Fighter Squadron commander.

"We came over here primarily to do air-to-air training in basic fighting maneuvers and tactical intercepts," said Hassel. "With their aircraft being former Soviet Union designed aircraft, it will give our pilots a chance to fly against an actual MiG vs. a simulated MiG, which we usually have, and give them the chance to train against some NATO aircraft and observe those capabilities."

None of the currently tasked future missions of the 177th have been curtailed at this time.

Final Rule Puts More Teeth Into Military Lending Act

By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2015 – The Defense Department today closed loopholes to protect U.S. men and women in uniform from predatory lending practices, President Barack Obama said this morning at the 116th Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The heightened level of financial and consumer-rights protection against unscrupulous practices, called the final rule of the Military Lending Act, covers all forms of payday loans, vehicle title loans, refund anticipation loans, deposit advance loans, installment loans, unsecured open-end lines of credit and credit cards, DoD officials explained.

“We’re going to keep fighting to give our troops and veterans a chance to enjoy the American freedom you helped defend,” the president told the veterans.

“There’s already a lot to protect our troops and families against unscrupulous predatory lenders, but some of the worst abusers -- like payday lenders -- are exploiting loopholes to trap our troops in a vicious cycle of crushing debt,” Obama said.

“It is the right thing to do,” he said of the new rule.

"With this action, the department takes an important stand against companies that can prey on our men and women in uniform,” Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said in a news release after the president’s announcement.

“This new rule addresses a range of credit products that previously escaped the scope of the regulation, compromising the financial readiness of our troops. Today, with our regulatory and enforcement partners, we stand united in support of our service members and their families," he continued.

Final Rule Results From 3-Year Study

The revision began with a three-year study by the Defense and Treasury departments, Federal Trade Commission, and financial regulators such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Federal Reserve Board, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Credit Union Administration, DoD officials said.

Congress passed the Military Lending Act in 2006 to provide specific protections for active-duty service members and their families in consumer credit transactions.

Among other protections, the law caps at 36 percent the interest rate on covered loans to active-duty service members, requires disclosures to alert service members of their rights, and prohibits creditors from requiring a service member to submit to arbitration in a dispute.

New Rule Adds Protection

The latest rule allows for industry compliance by Oct. 1, followed by a staggered implementation period, DoD officials said.

The rule will help protect all active-duty service members and their families from committing to loans with excessive fees and charges.

Service members still will have access to no-interest loans, grants, and scholarships from the four military relief societies, and not all credit products will be affected by the regulation -- notably residential mortgages and purchase-money loans to buy cars, for example, which are excluded from the MLA’s definition of consumer credit, officials said.

Fitzgerald's ADEX Improves Readiness During Talisman Sabre 2015

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Dionne, USS Fitzgerald Public Affairs

TIMOR SEA (NNS) -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) participated in an air defense exercise (ADEX) July 16 during exercise Talisman Sabre 2015 (TS 15).

The exercise provided the ship the opportunity to test its MK45 5-inch lightweight gun and its Phalanx Close-in weapon system (CIWS) in a real time environment.

"Live fire events such as this serve to improve overall readiness by providing the gunnery team with a dynamic target and the opportunity to get trigger time," said Cmdr. Christopher England, commanding officer of Fitzgerald. "There is no substitute for live fire events and we take advantage of every opportunity."

The exercise, which consisted of Fitzgerald firing its CIWS and 5-inch gun at a simulated target, is part of TS 15, a biennial exercise that provides an invaluable opportunity for nearly 30,000 U.S. and Australian Defence Forces to conduct operations in a combined, joint and interagency environment.

"The exercise allowed us to test watch stander capabilities, team procedures, and test and deploy procedures and tactics in an integrated strike group environment," said Lt. John Volkle, the ships weapons officer. "Everything about it went well, we established communications early, all the watch standers did an excellent job and the equipment performed as designed."

The exercise kicked off with a Lear jet towing a drone on a 22,000-foot cable, which served as a target for the ships 5-inch gun.

"The 5-inch is a crucial piece of equipment because it uses high-explosive rounds that can be used to neutralize surface, land and air targets," said Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Frederick Alayon, leading petty officer of combat gunnery division. "My group of Sailors got together to successfully engage the target and in order for this to happen it took a lot of attention to detail and precision. They did a wonderful job and I am very proud of them."

Sailors had the opportunity to fire the gun locally, providing valuable training time and to learn and operate the advanced and powerful system.

"Being able to fire the 5-inch was exhilarating and I was so happy to get the chance to do it," said Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Megan Smith. "I love what I do and I never thought I would have the opportunity to do something as exciting as this before the Navy."

Following the firing of the 5-inch, the jet made another pass over Fitzgerald towing a drone connected by a 13,000-foot cable to test the ships CIWS.

"[CIWS] has the ability to track and engage incoming targets and during the exercise it performed flawlessly," said Chief Fire Controlman Travius Caldwell. Any time we get the opportunity to test our communications and equipment in a combat systems scenario is priceless."

The CIWS is a point-defense weapon used for detecting and destroying short-range missiles and aircraft using both air and surface capabilities.

"The exercise was a great experience, we got to shoot about 400 rounds and the gear performed well," said Chad Schmidt, the mount captain for the CIWS. "The fact that it was able to aim and fire at such a small target is incredible. This gave us life-like training so that it becomes second nature to us if we need to use it in a real-life scenario."

Fitzgerald is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

USS Mustin Joins Forces with New Zealand During Talisman Sabre

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David Flewellyn, USS Mustin Public Affairs

TIMOR SEA (NNS) -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) participated in a surface-action-group versus surface-action-group (SAG vs SAG) exercise with the Royal New Zealand Navy Anzac-class Frigate HMNZS Te Kaha (F 77) during exercise Talisman Sabre 2015 (TS 15), July 12-17.

The purpose of a SAG vs SAG exercise is to practice how surface combatants would work together to engage potential enemy surface combatants. During the exercise Mustin and Te Kaha worked together against the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62).

"This exercise gives us a valuable opportunity to integrate with partner nations," said Lt. Jonathon Murray, Mustin's operations officer. "It provides us with the chance to strengthen interoperability, build relationships, and better prepares all involved to respond to potential situations in the region."

Integrating two different nation's navies can be challenging, however, especially during a complicated exercise like SAG vs SAG.

"Although we have a lot of the same equipment, doctrine and procedures, there are many differences in the way we think, communicate and therefore do business," said Lt. Cmdr. Alexandra Haughey, Te Kaha's operations officer. "We all want the same outcome so these challenges are overcome by being flexible and adaptable in the short term, and a willingness to learn from experience in the long term."

The SAG vs SAG was conducted as part of TS 15, a biennial exercise that provides an opportunity for nearly 30,000 U.S. and Australian Defence Forces to conduct operations in a combined, joint, and interagency environment that will increase both countries' ability to plan and execute a full range of operations from combat missions to humanitarian assistance efforts.

"I coordinated with fixed and rotary wing aircraft to properly identify track and engage simulated combatant targets," said Operations Specialist 1st Class Matthew Choi. "It was a bit challenging because we had to adjust our procedures to successfully integrate with our partner nations."

The interoperability between the partner nations was highlighted during a real world-world emergency, when two members of Te Kaha's crew required medical evacuations to George Washington.
"In both cases, at very short notice, the patients were transferred to George Washington by helicopter," said Haughey. "Te Kaha's helicopter transported the first patient...Mustin assisted with the helicopter transfer in the second. The outcome was that the personnel received the required medical attention, are now safe, and Te Kaha was able to continue with our mission in support of exercise objectives."

"Exercises like these build relationships, capabilities, understanding and the confidence that if required, these partnerships would be able to work together to respond to any stability or security issues in the region," said Haughey.

Te Kaha is homeported in Auckland, New Zealand, and is underway to participate in TS 15.

Mustin is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.