Friday, August 07, 2015

Work Observes Large-Scale Military Exercise at Fort Irwin

By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, Aug. 7, 2015 – The U.S. military faces multiple threats and it must be prepared for every contingency, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said Aug. 5, after viewing night operations as part of the Joint Forcible Entry large-scale exercise at Fort Irwin, California.

The two-day exercise at the National Training Center is one of the most challenging and complex missions in the Army, with 1,500 fighting forces from the Army’s Special Operations Command, Joint Special Operations Command, XVIII Airborne Corps and the Air Force, according to Army officials.

“As all our senior leaders and [Defense Secretary Ash Carter] has said, the number of threats we face have multiplied and they’re all interconnected in different ways, and it requires a really strong military,” Work said.

DoD Focused on Five Threats

The deputy said Defense Department senior leadership is focused on what he called “five big threats.”

One is countering the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. “It’s a fight that’s going to hold on for a while, so it is a fight we have to get ready for and we do it every day,” Work said. “Then we look where potential contingencies are: Iran, North Korea, the South China Sea or China and Eastern Europe.”

Fort Irwin’s National Training Center hybrid warfare exercises reflect those concerns. “We have so many threats, the Army has to be prepared for every [contingency],” the deputy defense secretary said.

For that reason, the training center is reorienting its approach to exercises, Work said.

Training Meets Today’s Needs

The NTC has changed its focus from conventional warfare, Work said, to hybrid and counterinsurgency warfare.

With special operations forces integrated into the exercises, one group focuses on Europe, another on Africa, and one on the Far East, he explained.

Special operations forces are in good shape today with about 70,000 personnel and significant capabilities, Work added. Special operators, he said, were heavily employed during 13 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And as Afghanistan moves toward 2016, DoD hopes to “maintain a sustainable pace” of operations, Work said.

Army’s at the Right Strength

The deputy secretary defended criticism of the Army’s strength as being either too large or too small.

“The last two years, we’ve said an Army of 450,000 active, 335,000 National Guard and 195,000 in Army reserves [that] total 980,000 is the right Army,” Work said. “It’s an army we can afford and one we believe can be shaped to handle the full range of threats our nation faces.”

President Barack Obama has said, “‘We will protect any NATO ally,’” so the Army has to be prepared, the deputy secretary added.

But U.S. military strength is not just about numbers or equipment, Work said.

“What underlines our military is our people,” he said. “Our people are endlessly innovative themselves.”

Outstanding Airmen of the Year honored during ANG's Focus on the Force Week

by Master Sgt. David Eichaker
National Guard Bureau

8/7/2015 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- The Air National Guard Outstanding Airmen of the Year were recognized for their accomplishments as part of Focus on the Force Week during an all call ceremony held at the Air National Guard Readiness Center here, Aug. 6.

Focus on the Force Week is a series of events designed to gather senior enlisted leadership and highlight the importance of professional development for Airmen of all levels, receive feedback from junior enlisted Airmen, and tell the exceptional stories of ANG Airmen throughout the nation.

"This is a time for other Airmen to be mentors and help build a pathway towards creating other great Airmen," said Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke, III, director, Air National Guard, during the ceremony. "This is a celebration of our Airmen."

The top ANG enlisted leader spent the week with the OAY winners and reflected on their character as well.

"These Airmen are exceptional," said Chief Master Sgt. James W. Hotaling, command chief master sergeant of the Air National Guard. "When you spend time with them, you really know how extraordinary they are."

During the week, the OAY winners had a chance to sit in on the Chief's Executive Course, a professional development course designed to give recently-promoted chief master sergeants the tools they need for success in their new rank.

"Having the OAY winners participate in the Chief's Executive Course allows them to see that deliberate development and education doesn't stop at a certain rank," said Chief Master Sgt. Michael Brady, CEC facilitator. "There's always another level."

During the week, the OAY winners had opportunities to speak with the top levels of Guard leadership and get a wider perspective on how the Guard operates.

"Hearing Lt. Gen. Clarke speak about topics at the strategic level was an eye-opener," said Master Sgt. Sally J. Ford, the ANG Outstanding First Sergeant of the Year. "The direction they are taking the force just sheds a whole new light on my understanding of the Guard and the way it functions. Anytime you can broaden your perspective ... you're able to go back to your unit and better explain how they fit into the overall force picture."

During the week, the OAY winners also had time to network with experienced leadership for future development.

"This is a chance to go to work, to meet the right kind of people, make the right connections, get advice and take that back to my home unit and help any Airmen on my base self-improve," said Senior Airman Jonathan R. Smail, ANG Outstanding Airman of the Year.

 The opportunity for mentorship from senior leaders was an invaluable experience for the OAY Airmen.

"It was encouraging to be around people at the pinnacle of their career and ask them what they did to get where they are," said Smail, stating that he was told to take opportunities as they come and to challenge himself.

The mentorship and speaking with senior leaders was beneficial to others as well. Meeting the other OAY winners and getting their perspective on various topics affecting the Air Guard was extremely helpful, said Master Sgt. Maria R. Quitugua, ANG Outstanding Senior Non-commissioned Officer of the Year.

Being recognized can be a humbling experience but personal accomplishments involve teamwork.

"It's really about the entire Air Force's accomplishments and the missions that we all do," said Staff Sgt. Douglas P. Kechijian, ANG Non-commissioned Officer of the Year and one of the Air Force's 12 Outstanding Airman of the Year. "It's not about us, but about the whole Air Force."

Travis' last C-5 departs for upgrade

By Airman 1st Class Amber Carter
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

8/7/2015 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- Travis Air Force Base, California, sent its last C-5 Galaxy to Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, Aug. 4 to be upgraded to a C-5M Super Galaxy.

This will mark Travis from a transition base to a completed C-5M base.

"[The transition includes] upgrades to avionics, electrical, bleed air, pressurization, auxiliary power systems and new engines that are more powerful and more fuel efficient," said Master Sgt. Scott Horant, 22nd Airlift Squadron training superintendent. "The power increase is equivalent to adding a fifth engine to a legacy C-5."

The first C-5M arrived at Travis in April 2014. It has taken approximately 18 months for the 22nd Airlift Squadron, 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 349th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the 312th Airlift Squadron to jointly accomplish the conversion.

"The final C-5M will arrive back at Travis [in] December 2017," said Tech. Sgt. Samuel Callison, 22nd Airlift Squadron C-5M flight engineer and NCO in charge. "This will increase the capability of our mission planners to fulfill combatant commander requirements more effectively."

A Travis C-5M broke records this past April, setting 45 new world records for a total of 89 for the aircraft.

"The C-5M has a higher reliability rate which means less time and money is spent repairing the aircraft," Callison said. "It can reach cruise altitude quicker, which means increased fuel efficiency and it can fly farther than ever before."

The new engine upgrade is also quieter than its predecessors.

"This allows the aircraft to be flown in areas that the C-5B was restricted due to noise ordinances around the world," Callison said.

The upgraded C-5M is expected to be in service well beyond 2040.

"It is a great investment because it saves the taxpayers money and ensures cargo will reach the warfighter in the combat zone and our fellow citizens during a natural disaster," Callison said.

Theater security package A-10s transit Lajes

by 1st Lt. Alexandra Trobe
65th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

8/7/2015 - LAJES FIELD, Azores, Portugal -- Twelve A-10 Thunderbolt IIs transited Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal, after completing their theater security package mission in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve August 1 though 3.

The jets flew in as part of a coronet, a term Lajes Field uses to describe the movement of jets coming in, refueling and departing the island.

The 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron's 12 A-10's and approximately 300 Airmen conducted training alongside our NATO allies to strengthen interoperability and to demonstrate U.S. commitment to the security and stability of Europe. The A-10s and Airmen are returning home to the 355th Fighter Wing, Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.

"This is the first A-10 TSP we've conducted in Europe," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Hayde, 354th EFS commander. "This deployment gave us the ability to train with NATO allies we otherwise would never have had the opportunity to work with."

While deployed, the 354th EFS participated in 21 exercises, compiling more than 1,500 sorties and nearly 2,700 flight hours while engaging with 22 countries.

"The biggest thing about training with our NATO Allies is showing interoperability," said Hayde. "NATO operates under its own close air support standards, and as part of this training we were able to conduct coordination with our allies. This ensures that if we ever have to deploy with these NATO countries, we're all on the same page."

In their capstone event in Poland, the 354th EFS trained their entire squadron on unimproved surface landings in conjunction with the 321st Special Tactics Squadron, RAF Mildenhall and Polish Special Forces. Combat controllers provide Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control and communications in covert or austere environments.

This was the first type of training between these two NATO allies. Without the strategic access provided by the infrastructure, support and host nation relationships at U.S. and host nation installations, these TSP deployments would not be possible.

"As my first deployment, it was a great experience getting to work with different countries, and getting to see how our European allies train and fight," said Capt. Travis Vayda, 354th EFS scheduler. "This TSP gave us a chance to see a different way of doing things, and find better ways to integrate with our allies."

The A-10 TSP redeployment coronet is Vayda's second time at Lajes Field, passing through once before on his way downrange.

"I would definitely say I got the family treatment coming through Lajes," said Vayda.

The Lajes Field flightline is utilized regularly by U.S., Portuguese and third nation military and commercial aircraft. Due to its strategic location and as the Air Force's second largest fuel store, the 65th Air Base Wing is uniquely positioned to provide agile combat support and services to aircraft and aircrews.

"Our Operations Support Squadron's primary mission is to provide first class support for the coronets," said Maj. Lindsey Bauer, 65 OSS operations officer.  "It is an exciting mission because it involves every single one of our shops, teamwork is essential to make it all happen."

PANAMAX 2015 Partner Nation Personnel Tour USS New York

By Ensign Jamar Miles, PANAMAX 2015 Public Affairs

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Military members from 16 Central and South American nations participating in PANAMAX 2015 toured the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), Aug. 2.

PANAMAX is an annual, U.S. Southern Command-sponsored exercise aimed at developing strong working relationships between multinational forces to ensure the defense of the Panama Canal. More than 75 participants from 16 nations gathered at Naval Station Mayport from July 27 - Aug. 7 to conduct simulated crisis action planning to protect the Panama Canal. The tour of USS New York showcased one of the Navy's state-of-the-art amphibious ships and highlighted the variety of assets that can be used in complex, multinational operations.

"This was an excellent opportunity to see first hand a great amphibious asset. Ships like New York can make a huge impact in several types of maritime operations," said Chilean Rear Adm. Ronald McIntyre, the Combined Forces Maritime Component Commander for the exercise.
The tour provided a unique look inside the fifth San Antonio-class ship, whose namesake is one of the most iconic states in the U.S.

Participants viewed many Sept. 11, 2001 artifacts displayed on board, such as signs and uniforms worn by police and first responders that serve as important reminders of the attacks on the World Trade Center towers.

"I really enjoyed the cultural exchange gained by sharing this great ship, her crew, and her story with our partner nations. It felt great to be on the waterfront in the company of so many proud Sailors,"
said Capt. Jo Sarmiento, commanding officer of Navy Reserve component of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet.

PANAMAX 2015 supports U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

Face of Defense: From Puppy to Police Dog

By Army Staff Sgt. Patricia McMurphy
28th Public Affairs Detachment

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., Aug. 7, 2015 – He jumps, he drools, and he sheds like it’s summer all year long, but this is no ordinary pup. This dog is an invaluable part of team that could one day save lives and capture dangerous criminals.

Army Staff Sgt. Adam Serella, a military working dog handler with the 95th Military Police Detachment here, is busy training Greco -- a newly-acquired military working dog, fresh from Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. Greco left there with the basics, just like the airmen who attend Air Force basic training at JBSA, and now he’s ready to learn what it means to really be a MWD.

Serella, a seasoned handler and lead trainer for the kennels, has worked with and trained MWDs for five years and says he enjoys training new dogs.

"I have seen how rewarding and also how frustrating it can be at times," Serella said. "Just like [new] soldiers who come pre-trained or know the basics, I prefer that. I’d rather shape and mold a new soldier. It’s the same with dogs."

Serella said that when he found out he was getting a new dog, he went to work extra early that day just to meet him.

First Day of Training

After reading Greco’s training record and logging some playtime in the yard to get to know each other, it was time for a bath.

"He smelled pretty bad, so I put him in the tub and gave him his toy to chew on," Serella said. "He just had this sad ‘why are you doing this’ look on his face."

After the bath, Serella took Greco to his first training session.

Like all soldiers, military working dogs must practice their skills to stay sharp. The handlers and dogs also learn to work together as a team and complete required tasks.

According to Serella, finding what makes the dogs want to work is the key building a good working relationship -- it’s all about the rewards.

"Unlike dogs at home, these dogs don’t have toys laying around, so, all the working dogs have an extremely high desire for the toy or the reward, and we only play with that reward when they are working and after they have done a good job and have met the standard," said Serella. "That’s their form of currency."

Next Step: Certification

To assure the standards are met, each MWD team is tested on their proficiency during annual certifications, which they must maintain to conduct their garrison missions and in order to deploy.

"Certification is a weeklong process where every aspect of our work is evaluated," Serella said. "The standards are very strict, but they have to be. Bomb dogs can only miss one plant or hiding spot, anything more results in a failure."

Serella said military working dog teams have to meet these strict standards because they could one day lead units on patrol in dangerous locations or even work with the Secret Service, ensuring the safety of the president.

Serella may have been working with Greco for just six weeks, but he said he is confident when the time comes to test for certification, they will pass with flying colors.

"I don’t want to sound cocky, but there is no reason I can’t pass certification with him," Serella said. "He is a good dog."

After certification, the team can be utilized for a variety of missions here and on deployments around the world. They will also be able to add more advanced skills on top of what they already know.

An additional skill Serella is hoping to add is improving his obedience and extending the amount of time he can have Greco stay where he is told, even if Serella is not in sight.

"I would like to be able to say ‘stay’ and walk away for 10 minutes then come back and him still be there," Serella said. "That is obedience, which is the basis of all dog training."

Serella and Greco are scheduled to certify at the end of August, and when they succeed as Serella predicts, they will become an asset to JBLM and those they may serve at home or abroad.