Tuesday, August 11, 2015

43rd AG exercises deployment readiness

by Marvin Krause
43rd Airlift Group

8/10/2015 - POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, N.C. -- Airmen from the 43rd Airlift Group participated in an operational readiness exercise here Aug. 3-4 testing their ability to deploy personnel and equipment worldwide on short-notice.

The deployment exercise was initiated by Col. Kenneth Moss, 43rd AG commander, with a recall of personnel and a deployment execution order informing the installation deployment officer, unit commanders and deployment managers of the personnel and cargo requirements for the exercise.

"Today, we are conducting a deployment exercise, testing our readiness to deploy from home station to the AOR," said Ray Baloyot, Pope Field's installation deployment officer from the 43rd Air Base Squadron. "On the first chalk, we have 17 individuals and on the second chalk, we have 20 individuals from across the group including a little less than a ton of cargo supported by the 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and the 43rd ABS."

Deployment planning and execution is conducted by implementing the group's installation deployment plan that provides detailed procedures, instructions and comprehensive data required to expeditiously deploy personnel and equipment.

To deploy personnel, a personnel deployment function is established consisting of representatives from the military personnel section, Airman and Family Readiness Center, medical, legal and finance that serves as the focal point for monitoring all personnel processing activities. The PDF includes eligibility screening, pre-deployment briefings, orders preparation and production, passenger manifesting, baggage handling and passenger loading.

"The PDF does a last spot check on everyone's mobility records prior to their deployment and to just make sure everyone is good to go to deploy," said Tech. Sgt. Donell Walker, Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of the personnel deployment function from the 43rd Air Base Squadron.

The group commander's inspection team comprised of twenty subject matter experts from multiple specialties conducted the inspection and evaluation of the deployment exercise. They provide inputs for exercise scenario development, inspect assigned areas and functions, evaluation scenarios and inputs to the inspection report.

"We're processing two lines right now and the people handling it are doing a great job of handling multiple folks at once," said James McVay, 43rd Airlift Group director of inspections. "Overall, we're pleased with the performance of the participants."

McVay and the inspection team will provide the group commander and senior leaders with an inspection outbrief after the exercise highlighting their findings during their evaluations. In 30-days, they will prepare a validated official exercise report for the commander and Headquarters, Air Mobility Command.

The group inspection team conducts quarterly exercises that include deployment exercises depending on the commander's intent.

The 43rd AG's 900 active-duty Airmen and civilians provide contingency outload, en route support and mobility operations for Joint Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg's XVIII Airborne Corps and the 82nd Airborne Division. This partnership with the Army provides the nation a unique Joint forcible entry capability through rapid global airborne and air assault operations within hours of notification. Missions can range from humanitarian assistance to providing combat capability to the combatant commanders.

Airmen Participate in Joint C-17 Training

by Staff Sgt. Shane Hughes
180th Fighter Wing

8/7/2015 - Toledo, Ohio -- Airmen from the 180th Fighter Wing participated in a joint multi-unit Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft training exercise from June 3-8, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The training provided Airmen with an opportunity to practice realistic scenarios with other military units and civil authorities as a way to help build strong working relationships and improve deployment capabilities.

Members of the Ohio Air National Guard, the U.S. Air Force Reserves, U.S Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, Ohio Red Cross, Ohio Disaster Medical Assistance Team and U.S. Customs and Border Protection participated in the training.

During the event, Airmen learned about the proper preparation and loading of a C-17. The training covered a wide range of topics including vehicle preparation, pallet building, winching, chain restraint procedures, trailer uploads and heavy equipment uploads.

"Most of our Airmen never seen any of the heavy equipment they're training on," said Master Sgt. Craig Essert, the load trainer noncommissioned officer-in-charge for the 89th Airlift Squadron at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. "They'll be much better prepared if they have to do this during a deployment, which helps them be more efficient and reduces the risk of damaging any gear or the aircraft in the process."

The training also incorporated aeromedical evacuation procedures including loading and unloading patients, and in-flight emergency medical response, such as resuscitating a simulated patient experiencing cardiac arrest while flying.

"This was a great opportunity for our Airmen to build teamwork and relationships with people from other organizations we don't normally train with," said Master Sgt. Rob Garcia, a load instructor with the 89th AS. "It will really help us be more effective if we need to work with other agencies in the future."

"This was a great event that demonstrated a joint effort, highlighting Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, government agencies and community partners working and training together to become better and more efficient at what they do," said Lt. Col. Steven Agard, commander of the 180th FW Logistics Readiness Squadron. "Outstanding training was provided and everyone learned and improved."

Guard, Reserve officers gain safety expertise

by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
I.G. Brown Training and Education Center

8/7/2015 - MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. -- About 60 Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command officers and safety experts met at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center campus here this week for lessons on safety.

The Air Reserve Component Chief of Safety course addresses several training requirements that the officers use to manage their safety programs, said officials.

"The biggest thing is taking care of your base," said Senior Master Sgt. Eric Apelskog, senior NCO for the Air National Guard's Flight Safety.

Air Force chiefs of safety manage all safety aspects at a wing- or base-level. They supervise mishap prevention for a commander as well as promote a professional attitude toward safety.  There's ground and flight safety, risk management and weapons safety among their primary concerns.

"We teach them everything they need to run their safety programs," said Apelskog.

The course included about 34 presentations, in four days, on ground and flight safety topics as well as lessons on mishap investigation and others from more than a dozen speakers. Subject matter experts were representatives from the Air National Guard Readiness Center, the Air Force Reserve Command, the Air Force Safety Center and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Apelskog said that the training is mandatory for all chiefs of safety in the Air Force. This Reserve component version meets those criteria, with an added focus on the unique aspects of the Guard and Reserve.

This was the first time they held their training at the TEC. They met in Wingman Hall.

Military and civilian first responders partner in Pathfinder-Minuteman exercise

by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel
142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

8/7/2015 - CAMP RILEA, Ore. -- More than 250 participants from U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Air Force Reserve, Army and Air National Guard units, civilian organizations, and state and county agencies took part in Pathfinder-Minutemen exercise here, Aug. 5.

Pathfinder-Minutemen was a joint multi-agency, multi-state exercise based on response exercise designed to replicate a post-earthquake and subsequent tsunami environment with casualties in need of immediate medical treatment.

Military members worked side-by-side with their civilian counterparts in 12-member teams, accomplishing two scenarios during the day to find and rescue simulated causalities and provide immediate medical care and recovery.

The teams were organized to have a variety of skills in each group, to include specialists in search and rescue, medicine and other key first responders.

As the exercise began, participants explored various designated training areas on Camp Rilea including Slusher Lake, a mock village known as Military Operations in Urban Terrain or MOUT site, and a large purpose-built rubble pile designed to simulate a collapsed structure.

A key aspect of the training was ascertaining a common language between team members while integrating skill sets during the search and recovery process.

Overseeing rescue operations from the joint operations center, Lt. Col. John Graver, 304th Rescue Squadron commander, said that working with others in a training environment not only helps focus resources but also enhances communication abilities.

"When a disaster strikes, no one group or agency can do it all," he said. "So why wait until game day? In these events we are learning a common language between group members while building relationships and incorporating vital skills sets."

As the exercise unfolded, three separate scenarios began to unfold. The first involved a water rescue and drowning victim recovery in Slusher Lake. An air crew with the U.S. Coast Guard's Air Station Astoria assisted with hoist operations using a HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, while members of the Oregon Air National Guard's 125th Special Tactics Squadron provided the water recovery and search teams on the ground.

The second scenario focused on house to house searches for injured victims at the MOUT Site, while the third training scenario involved teams locating and rescuing victims trapped in vehicles and simulated collapsed buildings at the rubble pile.

"The fortunate part of doing a morning and afternoon exercise is that we can learn from the mistakes from the first half and in the second half play a little better," said Graver.

Working in concert with the military was the Oregon Disaster Medical Team, led by Dr. Jon Jiu, a professor at the Oregon Health Science University in Portland.

Jiu described how he joined the ODMT in 2000 when his friend, Dr. Helen Miller, 'twisted his arm' to join. "Nine months later 9/11 happened," he said.

Officials believe the Pacific Northwest is overdue for a magnitude 7.0 or greater earthquake, due to the Cascadia Subduction Zone--an area that extends along the Pacific coastline from California to Vancouver, British Columbia. Staying prepared is never too far from Jiu's mind even in light of recent media reports of a devastating earthquake for the region.

"We have been focused on this training for over five years so it is not like we are just now beginning the process," Jiu said. "But yes, having the public being aware of the hazards as well."

Jiu said in the past several years these exercises continue to grow and become more complicated as areas to improve and shortcomings are identified and built into subsequent training scenarios.

"This is a full-scale exercise from start to finish and requires both the military and civilians to do the job," Jiu said. "Certainly having the military with search and rescue capabilities and air evacuation assets are critical to having our doctors and medical teams treat the injured."

Jiu echoed Graver's assessments about the training for Pathfinder-Minuteman 2015and emphasized how communication is the common thread.

"Honestly understanding each other's capabilities and the abilities on how to work together is the most important aspect of this type of training," he said.

Many live in the local area and would be susceptible to the hazards of a tsunami following a major earthquake.

Corinne Bechet from Manzanita, Oregon, played the role of a diabetic patient who had missed two dialysis treatments and was suffering weakness. Later on that day, she role-played someone who had suffered burns from a house fire. Having done this training over the past three years, she said she understands the importance to the overall objective.

"It's very important to know what to do because we live in an earthquake place. I already have a bag ready to go at home," she said.

Knowing the risks, Bechet weighs the pros and the cons of living in a tsunami zone.

"The beach is my medicine, I run every morning with my dogs," she said. "I am more and more prepared, and the more training and awareness allows me to feel at ease with nature's uncertainty."

Previously a caregiver and medical provider, the roles were reversed for Oregon Air National Guard Senior Airman Melinda Duran, who is amedic with the 173rd Fighter Wing's Medical Group. She said reversing her role as casualty victim gave her a renewed understanding what a patient would experience in a natural catastrophe.

"I guess I did not realize how complicated it was to get someone out of a fallen building," Duran said. "It took six people to drag me on a skid through a series of holes. Now I know that the things a patient will experience by the things that hurt me in the extrication process."

Duran begins medical school soon but will continue to participate in this type of training and hopes to draw upon the experience from these exercises. She sees the benefits for all parties to constantly improve understanding, efficiency and readiness.

"Communication is huge. It was the biggest issue today especially across the different services with civilian and military. It probably was my biggest takeaway from the training," she said.

Testing the steps that it took to find, recover and move patients put into play all of the preparation that Graver and Jiu established before this year's exercise.

"Victims were found, teams were sent to triage to treat them, they were flown on hypothetical helicopters [pickup trucks] all the way to casualty collection points," said Graver. "We accomplish all of that in this exercise."

"We are trying to standardize the information flow so we can do the 'best for the most' when we find victims in these situations," Graver said.

Graver said the learning will continue even after the last tents and radios are packed up. All participants received packets during the start of the exercise, and are encouraged to share their experiences and feedback, which will be used in future training exercises.

"The last page of the packets is an after action report," Graver said. "They can give us their thoughts and offer other vital information so we can regenerate substantial knowledge going forward."

Hawaii Air National Guard unveils new indoor shooting range

by Senior Airman Orlando Corpuz
154th Wing Public Affairs

8/10/2015 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- The Hawaii Air National Guard debuted its new indoor live-fire shooting range in a ceremony here Aug. 8.

The new 6000 square foot unit located on the grounds of the Hawaii Air National Guard gives the HIANG a capability it's never had before; the ability to qualify and train its Airmen in small arms fire and prepare them for deployments in-house.

"Small arms qualifications was conducted at the only USAF firing range on the island, which happens to be located approximately twenty miles away on Schofield Barracks" said  Maj. Dane Minami, 154th Security Forces Squadron Commander. "The HIANG had to compete for scheduling of the firing range with both the Active Duty and the Reserves and because we did not own the range, we normally had low priority."

According to Minami, in addition to improving readiness capability, benefits include cost savings due to the reduction in the resources and manpower previously needed to coordinate, schedule and transport airmen to an off-site firing range.

"For a traditional Guardsman, time during drill weekends is a precious commodity. Having an indoor firing range right here in our own backyard saves time, money, and gas for our unit members and all Hawaii Air National Guard personnel with weapons qualification requirements" said Minami. "The ability to schedule live-firing at any time of the day and night or week, will allow us to more effectively support the entire organization with short notice deployment and annual qualification requirements."

The Modular Containerized Small Arms Training Sets as its name implies, utilizes a prefabricated and modular design concept. Prefabrication of the units was done by a company in Nevada and then shipped to the Hawaii Air National Guard where it was assembled on an empty asphalt area on the HIANG's compound.  Because of this, many of the pre-construction costs, such as engineering, architecture, and site prep were minimized. Its modular design allows it to be disassembled and moved to another location should the need arise.

The MCSATS has twelve shooting lanes and is fully enclosed with heating, ventilation, and cooling systems. Everything from target control to shooting environment is monitored and adjusted from a master control room.  Depending on the training requirements, lighting systems can simulate low light or night time shooting conditions and an automated target retrieval system makes feedback to the shooter timely and convenient.

The ceremony which included a traditional Hawaiian blessing with Ti leaves and Hawaiian salt signified the range's first official day of operation and was the culmination of months of planning and procurement challenges.

"The list [of challenges] is long and wide" said retired Brigadier General Stan Osserman, a former commander of the Hawaii Air National Guard.  "Everything from having to build a standard configuration that the Guard Bureau and USAF accepted.  Then there was the typical case of Hawaii being so far away from Washington D.C. that we couldn't always make sure we kept our priority place in line.  We nipped that one on my last trip to D.C. and got the HIANG put back in the right place."

While the firing range's primary use is to train HIANG airmen, there are plans to eventually make the facility available to other DoD organizations.

The facility is the third one of its kind in the Air National Guard; the Nevada Air National Guard and New York Air National Guard began operating similar facilities in 2014.

F-16 crashes in Bavaria

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, crashed Aug. 11 at approximately 9:38 a.m. near Engelmannreuth in the county of Bayreuth, Germany.

The incident happened during a training flight at U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria in Grafenwoehr, Bavaria, Germany.

The pilot safely ejected.

U.S. military first responders are working with German authorities to secure the crash site. A 1,000-foot cordon was established around the crash site.

The cause of the accident is currently under investigation.

Face of Defense: Guardsman Balances Civilian, Military Lives

By Army Maj. Jamie Delk
South Carolina National Guard

COLUMBIA, S.C., Aug. 10, 2015 – For years, Army Sgt. Brian Calhoun, a photojournalist in the 108th Public Affairs Detachment, South Carolina National Guard, has balanced his day-to-day civilian life and military obligations.

“I initially enlisted in the South Carolina National Guard while I was a senior in high school,” Calhoun said. “I would go off and train on drill weeks, which made my senior-year experience much different than my classmates’.”

Calhoun initially joined Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion 1/263 Air Defense Artillery, a brand-new unit where he served for seven years as an Air Defense Artillery Command and Control System Operator-Repairer.

Taking a Break

When that unit was deactivated, Calhoun was at the end of his enlistment and decided to leave the National Guard.

“When my original unit deactivated, it was a good time for me to take a break from military service,” Calhoun said. “I had just completed mortuary college and was beginning my professional career as a funeral director. My new job would require me to work weekends. I didn’t want weekend drill or annual training to interfere, so I decided to take a short break.”

Calhoun’s “short” break from the military ended up lasting 16 years.

“I never intended to be away from the Guard for that amount of time and I always missed it,” Calhoun said. “I think once you become a soldier you never stop. A part of me was missing and I wanted to get back in the Guard to fill that huge hole.”

Back in Uniform

In 2010, Calhoun decided to re-enlist and he turned to the Internet to find the perfect job.

“When I found public affairs and photojournalism, I was surprised,” Calhoun said. “I didn’t know the Army had this [job], and I was certain the South Carolina National Guard didn’t have this -- or so I thought. I started making phone calls and the rest is history.”

He added, “I wanted my new MOS to be more like a hobby for me. I also wanted my new military skill to benefit my employer. There isn’t a job or employer anywhere that cannot utilize a highly-trained public affairs professional skilled in writing, public speaking, photography, managing social media, or print layout and design.”

Through his service as a military public affairs specialist, Calhoun said he’s “able to provide these same skills to my company and the families that we serve here in Charleston.”

Grateful for Employer’s Support

As a licensed funeral director, Calhoun has worked for J. Henry Stuhr, in Charleston, South Carolina, for nearly 17 years. He currently serves as the firm’s director of information technology.

“I am very fortunate to work for a company that has embraced my desire to serve my country,” Calhoun said. “They have never hesitated when I have asked for time away to attend training or to answer the call. Our duties in public affairs do not always fall inside the lines of the one weekend a month and two weeks a year scenario. The Stuhr family has never once told me no.”

In 2015, Calhoun graduated from the Warrior Leader Course held at McCrady Training Center in Eastover. WLC is the initial leadership course for noncommissioned officers. During this month-long course, the specialists and corporals are being prepared for the rank of sergeant by learning skills to lead smaller groups of soldiers.

Military Leadership Training

“I knew my class would be full of young specialists or newly-minted sergeants, so I could not compare myself to them physically,” said Calhoun, who is 43 years old. “But I went into the course and gave it 100 percent.”

Calhoun felt that being older gave him an advantage throughout the course.

“When it came to preparing a brief, giving a block of instruction, or being graded on leadership, I always received the highest marks because of my confidence,” he said. “I believe that my age and experience led to those qualities.”

On top of holding down a steady civilian job, Calhoun also has a wife and two children. His family, he said, had as much to do with his re-enlistment as did his own personal desire to be back in uniform.

Freedom Isn’t Free

“I wanted my kids to witness, first-hand, me sacrificing time away from home for the benefit of the greater good,” Calhoun said. “I wanted them to know that the benefits we have as Americans are not free and do not come without a cost.”

The National Guard responds to natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, forest fires, search-and-rescue operations, counter-drug operations, among others. On top of that, the National Guard has a federal mission to maintain well-trained units available for mobilization during war or national emergencies.

“There is no doubt that being a soldier benefits me every day,” Calhoun said. “It gives me pride and confidence as a person and it reminds me that I am a part of something that is much bigger than myself.”

Logistics is key at the Top of the World

by Tech. Sgt. Jared Marquis
21st Space Wing Public Affairs

8/11/2015 - THULE AIR BASE, Greenland -- THULE AIR BASE, Greenland - Logistics anywhere in the Air Force is all about planning. Making sure everyone has the supplies necessary to complete the mission. But what if the time frame for getting the majority of supplies is severely limited?

The Airmen at the Top of the World know exactly how that feels. With only a three month window to receive the majority of the supplies they will need to survive the long winter, the logistics Airmen at Thule Air Base, Greenland, work to ensure the Air Force's most remote base has everything it needs.

The busy season starts around the end of June each year, said 1st Lt. Douglas Ruark, logistics flight commander. That is when the port opens and ships start arriving.

The base receives, on average, a ship a week until the port closes in September, and then they are completely dependent on airlift until the port reopens in June.

Ships from Canada, Denmark and the U.S. deliver the much needed goods.

Not everyone in the Air Force gets to run a sea port and Ruark said it is a very unique experience.

"It's a very different aspect of Air Force logistics," he said. "There are not many places in the Air Force where you run a port. That's also compounded by the timing. The ships come in a couple months out of the year and you have to plan ahead. Anything you need, it's got to come on the ship because airlift is so expensive."

While some items still come by air, like food and household goods, the ships are the base's chance to get big items or heavy shipments to sustain the work done at Thule through construction season and the long winter, approximately 90 percent of their yearly supplies, he said.

Fuel is one of those needs, said Master Sgt. James Poulos, logistics flight superintendent and fuels coordinator.

Everything here runs on JP-8 aircraft fuel, said Poulos. That includes the vehicles and power plant.

To keep their tanks full, Poulos said they usually get a barge every year. To ensure they don't run out, they typically keep a three-year supply on hand, but the barge helps keeps their supply full in the event they miss a ship.

Flexibility is key, Ruark said. Nearly every ship or aircraft this summer has been either early or late.

In addition to planning for shipments and running the port, manning can be a challenge for the flight.

One of the biggest challenges with the Thule mission is the amount of logistics Airmen to accomplish it.

"In most logistics squadrons, you have 200 people," said Poulos. "Here, all our positions are one deep. So, we all need to have an understanding of each job so we can backfill that position when a person goes on leave."

Through that teamwork and planning, the logistics flight here ensures they take full advantage of their port window. Knowing that if they don't, they will either have to coordinate the more costly airlift, or wait for the next ship in June.

(Editor's note: This story is part 1 of a 4 part series about life at the Top of the World: Thule Air Base, Greenland.)