Military News

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Team Malmstrom works with Montana National guard, local emergency services during MARE

by Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs


8/12/2015 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont.  -- Medical personnel, emergency response and flight crew members from Malmstrom Air Force Base banded together Monday Aug. 20 to participate in a Major Accident Response Exercise along with members of the 120th Airlift Wing and flight crew from the Montana Army National Guard.

Implemented to evaluate how Airmen on the base could organize and execute a massive casualty response while coordinating with multiple agencies across the state of Montana, the event proved to be a challenge that would take teamwork to execute effectively.

"The exercise was successful in that the objectives we set out to perform were accomplished," said Capt. Jason Garcia, 341st Medical Support Squadron diagnostics and therapeutics flight commander. "There were many moving parts to include multiple emergency response and ground transition vehicles, and six aircraft."

Forty-two simulated casualties were successfully flown from the scene of the accident to virtual triage centers in Great Falls and Helena, Montana.

At the scene, The 341st Medical group integrated their team with members of the Montana Air National Guard's 120th Medical Group and processed 15 simulated casualties.

"We demonstrated the ability to communicate and coordinate with the Army National Guard's 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion who provided medevac support for 26 casualties, and local Great Falls emergency services," said Garcia.

The local Great Falls emergency services simulated transport of one critical casualty to Benefis Health System.

According to Garcia, all the units and community partners involved performed very well throughout the exercise while garnering valuable observations and lessons to improve upon in the future.

Leading up to the event, preparation was crucial.

If members of Team Malmstrom and coordinating emergency personnel already have experience in dealing with a disaster situation, that can translate to reduced response times, eliminate confusion and ultimately save lives with a better synchronized response.

According to participants, the best part of the MARE response was the professionalism on display at all levels.

"There was a focus by all the players involved," said Garcia. "Everyone was clearly there to learn and improve."

Keeping the Buff young: Nondestructive inspection



by Senior Airman Jannelle Dickey
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

8/11/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Like a radiologist who can see fractures without using a scalpel, there are Airmen who can find deficiencies in the B-52 Stratofortress bones to proactively ensure its structural integrity.

Experts from Nondestructive Inspection, a shop within the 2nd Maintenance Squadron Fabrication Flight, interpret and evaluate aircraft or equipment defects the visual eye can't see without dismantling the whole component.

"NDI has six groups of methods we use to look for surface and subsurface defects in aircraft or equipment parts," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Martinez, 2nd MXS nondestructive inspection assistant NCO in-charge.

NDI uses methods to include liquid penetrant, magnetic particle, eddy current, ultrasonic, and x-ray to interpret and evaluate defects. They also inspect aircraft engine oil to identify contaminations.

"Every 150 hours the crew chiefs pull an engine oil sample and bring it to us to test for wear metals inside the compartment," said Martinez.

The detections from NDI are cost-effective, save time and prevent serious damage to the aircraft.

"We are a preventive maintenance because we catch a defect before it can cause any catastrophic failure in the sky or on the ground," Martinez explained. "Through our inspections we save the Air Force a lot of money by prolonging the life of the part instead of replacing it."

"I would consider NDI personnel as the doctors of maintenance," said Airman 1st Class Danielle Harrington 2nd MXS NDI apprentice. "If we find a crack in the wing before it grows to a certain extent, we save the engine from falling off the aircraft."

After utilizing various inspection methods, NDI notes the status, sends the part to the appropriate shop to be repaired and conducts a final inspection before it is returned to operational status. There is no room for error in this shop.

"We are hard on all of our young Airmen about how important it is to pay attention to detail," said Martinez. "Potential for catastrophic failure is high. If we miss something, the lives of the pilot and aircrew could be at stake."

As the mission weighs heavily upon the shoulders of the B-52, it is crucial for NDI to detect flaws early in order for it to provide decisive nuclear deterrence and conventional firepower anywhere, anytime.


Conservation Challenge Winners Protect Military Base Environments



By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12, 2015 – Military installations and their partners in three states have won an annual Defense Department conservation challenge created to protect nearby ecosystems while supporting critical military test, training and operational missions.

An important goal of the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program Challenge is to harness private-sector creativity in accessing and leveraging novel funding sources, philanthropic sources and market‐based approaches, REPI Program Director Kristin Thomasgard-Spence told DoD News today in a phone interview.

The program, known as REPI, lets the military services enter into cost-sharing partnerships with state and local governments and private conservation organizations to preserve land use around military installations and conserve natural landscapes in support of military readiness, she said.

“To that end, the 2015 challenge was a great success,” Thomasgard-Spence added, “bringing together all levels of government -- federal, state and local-- local and national land trusts, other conservation organizations and even private foundations.”

For the winning REPI 2015 projects, $6.2 million in program funds leverage more than $21 million in partner funding to protect 28,050 acres at military installations in three states.

Georgia Winners

In Georgia, REPI partners are Fort Benning, Fort Stewart, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Knobloch Family Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service.

A $2 million REPI award, plus $2 million from the Army, leverages more than $12 million in partner contributions to protect 7,016 acres of habitat for about 1,877 gopher tortoises. The project seeks to avoid an Endangered Species Act listing that could affect maneuver areas for tactical tracked and wheeled vehicles at regional installations.

Gopher tortoises, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, are dry-land turtles that dig and live in multiple burrows. The burrows add value to the ecosystem because about 360 species of other animals -- some also protected -- use them. The species include black pine snakes, gopher frogs, Florida mice, foxes, rabbits, burrowing owls and others.

Nevada Winners

In Nevada, REPI partners are the Naval Air Station Fallon, the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the Nevada Land Trust, the Nature Conservancy, the Nevada Conservation Districts Program, the Bureau of Land Management and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The high-desert Fallon Range Training Complex has the most realistic strike and integrated air-warfare training available to the Navy and Marine Corps. It covers more than 234,000 acres of land and 40,000 square miles of airspace with extensive instrumentation and target sets.

The $2 million-plus REPI award leverages more than $4 million in partner funding to protect 11,306 acres of sagebrush habitat from development, make it safe for the greater-sage grouse, and keep critical range training areas unrestricted.

Some species of sagebrush survive for at least 150 years. Healthy sagebrush protects the growth of grasses that offer shelter and forage for many species, from songbirds, pygmy rabbits and the endangered greater-sage grouse to mule deer, elk and pronghorn.

Maine Winners

And in Maine, REPI partners are the Naval Shipyard Portsmouth Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, or SERE, School, the Trust for Public Land, Trout Unlimited, the Mountain Conservancy Collaborative, the High Peaks Alliance, the Maine Audubon Society, the Mahoosuc Initiative, and the Natural Resources Conversation Society.

The Navy’s Redington Township property offers a harsh, isolated winter environment where personnel at risk of capture learn survival skills as part of the SERE school’s field training exercises.

A REPI award of $2 million is being leveraged by more than two to one to permanently restrict development on 9,728 acres that will provide timber harvesting and wildlife habitat, and is part of a long-term plan to create a national remote lands triathlon dedicated to veterans’ rehabilitative services.

Larger Efforts

“Work on these projects has already begun as the projects at [Naval Ship Yard] Portsmouth SERE School and Fort Benning and Fort Stewart build on existing partnerships at these installations,” Thomasgard-Spence said. “These projects, including the Fallon Training Range Complex project, are also part of larger efforts already underway to conserve important landscapes and species habitat.”

The REPI Program began in December 2002 when Congress passed statutory authority for the military services to partner with conservation organizations and state and local governments to prevent development and preserve habitat around military installations, the program director said.

So far the REPI Program has protected more than 362,000 acres of buffer land around 80 DoD installations in 28 states, she said.

The REPI Program started the REPI Challenge in 2012, and after a successful pilot program in Florida and Georgia, the director said, “we expanded the competition nationwide beginning in 2013.”

Even for applicants who weren’t selected for 2015, the effort has spurred interest, she said. A new partnership was developed in the local community at Camp Williams, Utah, for example.

“This was the first time Camp Williams submitted a REPI proposal,” Thomasgard-Spence added. “This project also included very innovative partner funding, provided through water utility surcharges.”

Good Steward

For those who wonder why the Defense Department invests resources and effort in species and natural resource management, the director explained that as a federal landholder, the department is legally required to protect species, especially those listed as endangered or threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

And often a species’ only good-quality remaining habitat is on DoD installations, she said.

“DoD is a good steward of natural resources,” Thomasgard-Spence added. “We actively manage and protect the lands we own and control because it promotes a better quality training and testing environment for soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who conduct training there.”

The department also does proactive work in areas around installations through other partnership efforts with states and local governments and other federal agencies, she said, because the more habitat that is protected for these species, the less they will depend on military installations for habitat.

“By increasing that baseline of habitat,” the director explained, “we're improving the outcome for the species, which helps relieve some of the pressure and some of the legal requirements that DoD has relative to those species.”

Senior ROK-N Official Visits USNS Montford Point



By Grady T. Fontana, MSC far East Publlic Affairs

BUSAN, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- A senior official from the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy visited one of Military Sealift Command's newest class of Maritime Prepositioning Force ships, the mobile landing platform USNS Montfort Point (MLP 1), Aug. 8.

Vice Adm. Hyun-Seong Um, commander, ROK Fleet, received a guided tour of USNS Montford Point, a mobile landing platform that can serve as a floating base for amphibious operations and operate as a transfer point between large ships and small landing craft.

"The tour consisted of a walk-through of the (landing craft air cushion) deck, a tour and presentation of the ballast control, the bridge, a video about the vessel, and meaningful discussions of the Navy's sea base concept," said Navy Cmdr. Eric J. St. Peter, commanding officer, Military Sealift Command Office Korea, MSC Far East.

According to St. Peter, these types of tours give U.S. forces in Korea an opportunity to build a stronger alliance with the commander of ROK Fleet.

"Anytime we have an opportunity to share information, I think we should. It promotes interoperability," said St. Peter. "These types of tours and key-leader engagements are important because they help in sustaining and strengthening the ROK-U.S. combined forces alliance. We are stronger and better postured to deter external aggression and defend the Korean Peninsula when we are familiar with each other."

According to Um, the Montford Point crew was working on behalf of Korea so the ROK Navy was very supportive and proud of the strong alliance. Additionally, Um, who travelled with a staff of other high-ranking officials, displayed great interest in the Montford Point for its "very interesting concepts."

"Montford Point can operate like a floating pier at sea, 25 miles from shore," said civilian mariner Captain Kurt N. Kleinschmidt, the Montford Point's master. "We are still in our infancy, but are working to be able to serve a variety of shore connectors for Marine Corps amphibious landing forces."

Montford Point is one of two MLPs that will be part of the Navy's "Sea Base" concept that provides the capability to transfer vehicles and equipment at-sea through Sea State 3, improving the U.S. military's ability to deliver equipment and cargo from ship to shore when land bases don't exist, according to Kleinschmidt. Sea state is the general condition of the free surface on a large body of water and Sea State 3 is marked by wave heights of about two to four feet.

"When the MLP is on mission, the ship will submerge to about 40 feet while underway to the area of operations. Once on station it would submerge to about 50 feet, so that the (landing craft air cushion) can drive right up on the mission deck to pick up cargo," said Kleinschmidt. "This allows it to operate like a floating pier and will serve as a transfer point for Marine Corps amphibious landing forces."

The MLP's flexibility is critical for humanitarian response to natural disasters and for support to warfighters ashore. The size allows for 25,000 square feet of vehicle and equipment stowage space and 380,000 gallons of JP-5 fuel storage.

USNS Montford Point was named in honor of the first African Americans who entered the Marine Corps at Montford Point Camp, New River, North Carolina, from 1942 to 1949.

MSC operates approximately 115 non-combatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.