Wednesday, August 19, 2015

65th ABW redesignates at Lajes Field

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

8/14/2015 - LAJES FIELD, Azores  -- Lt. Gen. Timothy Ray, Third Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force commander, presided over a special redesignation ceremony that took place here to mark the changeover of the 65th Air Base Wing to the 65th Air Base Group 14 August, 2015. Brig. Gen. Jon Thomas, 86th Airlift Wing commander, presided over Col. Richard Sheffe's assumption of command of the newly redesignated 65th ABG.

Col. Martin Rothrock served as the 65th ABW commander since June 2014, and departs to Ramstien Air Base Germany, where he will serve as the deputy director of logistics, engineering, and force protection for Headquarters USAFE - AFAFRICA A4.

"Know that today when we change this command, that this is not a shift in the commitment of the United States to the Portuguese people," said Ray. "Portugal it is an incredible strategic partner and we remain committed to that relationship both as a bilateral friend and ally, and as part of the NATO alliance."

The distinguished history of the 65th has a proud heritage tracing its roots to World War II. Though the designation of the unit will change, all lineage and honors of the wing will continue under the 65th ABG.

"To the Airmen, you conduct an incredibly important mission, and I applaud your style and performance. I look forward to continued news of your success and accomplishments as the 65th Air Base Group," said Ray.

During the ceremony, Ray presented Rothrock with the Legion of Merit for his outstanding leadership. Rothrock relinquished his command, and the 65th ABW guidon was furled. The unit was then redesignated as the 65th ABG under the 86th AW.

"I want to extend my greetings to the Airmen of the 65th Air Base Group," said Thomas. "You are now part of the mighty 86th. You can now count on the other members of the mighty 86th to work with you in the success of your mission here at Lajes Field."

After assuming command and receiving the 65th ABG guidon from Thomas and Chief Master Sgt. Justin Walker, 65th ABG command chief, Sheffe spoke to Lajes Airmen, calling it an honor to lead them.

"My promise to the 65th Air Base Group is simple, I will serve you all by leading justly and professionally as we open a new chapter in the story of Lajes Air Base," said Sheffe.

Sheffe, a senior pilot with more than 2,600 flight hours in the C-5, arrives at Lajes Field from NATO Allied Joint Force Command, Brunssum, the Netherlands where he was the Chief of Nuclear Operations.

"When you research the history of this airfield and the nearly 70 year relationship with the U.S forces and our Portuguese hosts you can clearly see the strategic capability resonant in this installation," said Sheffe. "This is a war fighting platform capable of contributing greatly to the defense of our allies and partners in the pursuit of peace."

He is a 1994 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree, and is a graduate of the Naval Command and Staff College and the NATO Defense College.

Thomas addressed Sheffe, with advice for the incoming 65th ABG.

"Command is fundamentally a human endeavor, and we need to remember this at each step of the way, said Thomas. "We need to remember the dignity of all individuals: Americans, Portuguese, military and civilian. That is how we conduct ourselves, and that is how command is successfully executed."

Before closing, Rothrock reflected on the valued relationships he and his family built with Lajes Airmen.

"I could not ask for better professionals to work with than the Portuguese and U.S. Airmen at Lajes Field," said Rothrock. "Although in the midst of change, there is a culture of excellence, loyalty and dedication shared both by Americans and Portuguese.

The 65th Air Base Group is the American unit stationed at Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal. This U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa unit is the largest U.S. military organization in the Azores. The group plays a vital role in combat operations by enabling the expeditionary movement of war fighters, warplanes and global communications to combatant commanders and supporting Joint, Coalition and NATO operations as part of U.S. and Allied Air Expeditionary Forces.

15th MEU Support Operation Inherent Resolve with Harrier Strikes

By Lt. Clint Ramsden, Essex Amphibious Ready Group Public Affairs

ABOARD USS ESSEX, at sea (NNS) -- AV-8B Harriers assigned to the "Greyhawks" of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 161 (Reinforced), which launched from the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), the Essex Amphibious Ready Group's flag ship, conducted strike missions in Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) Aug. 17.

The Harriers executed strike missions to dismantle and ultimately defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as part of the multinational coalition participating in OIR in the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility.

VMM-161 is the aviation combat element of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) currently embarked with the Essex Amphibious Ready Group and deployed to maintain regional security in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

"The Essex Amphibious Ready Group, with the embarked 15th MEU, brings a uniquely agile, flexible, adaptable set of capabilities to the region that spans the full range of military operations," said Capt. Clint Carroll, Commander, Essex Amphibious Ready Group. "The ARG-MEU construct's inherent adaptability allows for immediate tasking across a broad geographic area to be where it matters when it matters. This is yet another example of the Essex ARG's and 15th MEU's quiet, professional execution when called to action."

In addition to supporting sorties in support of OIR, the MEU's Marines and Sailors are deployed to several other locations throughout the 5th Fleet AOR executing sustainment training and engaging regional partners.

"The MEU's ability to source combat sorties from Essex, while simultaneously supporting training and operations in four other countries on opposite sides of the theater, is a clear demonstration of the 15th MEU's and Essex ARG's ability to provide flexible, responsive options to the combatant commander and the coalition fighting ISIL," said Col Vance L. Cryer, commanding officer, 15th MEU. "This is a strong example of the value of forward deployed naval expeditionary forces. These aircraft would not be in a position to make a difference without the combined efforts of the Navy-Marine Corps team."

Minot conducts ICBM test launch on 45 year Minuteman III anniversary

by Capt. Christopher Mesnard
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

8/19/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.  -- It was 45 years to the day that the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, put the U.S. Air Force's first Minuteman III missiles on alert. Today, the 91st MW completed an operational test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile at Vandenberg AFB, California, continuing its mission providing strategic deterrence for the United States and our allies.

Working with members of the 576th Flight Test Squadron and 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg AFB, the Minot team launched the ICBM today at 3:03 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time. The test reentry vehicle impacted in a pre-established test area roughly 4,200 miles away in the Pacific Ocean near the Kwajalein Atoll.

"Launching an ICBM under operational conditions is a whole team effort, and that's what we bring out here to replicate the scenarios in the field as close as possible," said Lt. Col. Eric Thompson, 91st MW Task Force commander. "The operations and maintenance crews who come out here with us know the job they're doing back home is important, and actually coming out here to launch an unarmed missile really solidifies the job we do every day with nuclear deterrence."

Prior to each operational test launch operations and maintenance crews from the supporting missile wing reassemble the missile, pull alert duties and, finally, launch the Minuteman III.

"It's very exciting getting the opportunity to do [the launch], but it's definitely going to be a team effort with our Minot crews, the space wing and 576th all working together," said 1st Lt. Benjamin Shea, 741st Missile Squadron assistant flight commander. "The launch itself is going to ensure that the missile is going to do what it was designed to do, and it's good to see that, because we don't get this every day."

All test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system and provide valuable data to ensure the platform remains a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent, but this launch in particular offered a sense of longevity and persistence the mission the Minuteman III community has experienced over the past 45 years.

The former 741st Strategic Missile Squadron at Minot AFB originally brought the first Minuteman III missiles on alert in 1970 just one day after another ICBM anniversary, the first test launch of an operationally configured Minuteman II missile in 1965. That Minuteman II launch also took place at Vandenberg AFB, stressing the role the base holds in the strategic deterrence testing and evaluation mission.

"Vandenberg has hosted the operational test launch program for over five decades, and it's here that we really have a chance to demonstrate the effectiveness and operational capabilities of our weapon systems," said Col. Craig Ramsey, 576th FLTS commander. "Putting all the pieces together, to make a launch happen, seems simple after the fact, but we have teams from Minot working with personnel from our test and evaluation squadron and the 30th Space Wing. It truly is a complex mission to get an asset from the operational unit, add test and safety packages to it, and ensure all facets of the mission are test-ready -- but it's handled by professionals who are the best in the world at their job."

Air Force Global Strike Command's new commander Gen. Robin Rand was also on hand to see the Airmen in action for the test.

"I'm truly impressed by the knowledge, the skills and the teamwork that our Airmen demonstrated during this test launch," said Gen. Robin Rand, AFGSC commander. "When I think of the value of these types of tests have played over the years, I think of the messages we send to our allies who seek protection from aggression and to adversaries who threaten peace. I also think about the American people we've sworn an oath to protect; people like my grandchildren who count on us to get this right.  We can't let them down."

Currently, Air Force Global Strike Command oversees the nation's more than 400 ICBMs across Minot AFB; F. E. Warren AFB, Wyoming; and Malmstrom AFB, Montana, all of which randomly select ICBMs from their missile fields to perform operational test launches like this one.

Making every dollar count through Airmen Powered by Innovation

Secretary of the Air Force’s Public Affairs Office / Published August 18, 2015

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force has initiated the Make Every Dollar Count program, aimed at creating a culture focused on minimizing costs, harnessing efficiencies and redefining Air Force business paradigms. Currently, the MEDC portfolio consists of 13 Headquarters Air Force-level programs and 26 major command-sponsored initiatives that cut across multiple Air Force lines of business including acquisition strategy, contract management, maintenance repair operations and energy management.

The Airmen Powered by Innovation program is one of the initial 13 Headquarters Air Force initiatives under the MEDC umbrella. Moreover, it is the MEDC initiative most visible to Airmen in the field. API is the platform for empowering Airmen to make every dollar count and is intended to be an engine for grassroots innovation across the Air Force. It is the Airmen’s voice to share innovative ideas that affect cost savings, quality, productivity, cycle time, process improvement and morale from the ground up to Air Force senior decision makers.

“The API program gives Air Force personnel, both military and civilian at all levels, a voice to share their ideas to improve our service,” said Col. Dennis King, the director of transformation outreach. “It allows them to review previously submitted ideas prior to submitting their own ideas which could lead to true savings in time, money and resources. Overall, API is making a real difference across the enterprise.”

Since its inception in April 2014, the API program has received more than 5,300 ideas from Airmen throughout the Air Force which has identified potential cost savings of more than $37 million in taxpayer dollars.

“These figures continue to grow daily and are savings that can be used to make our Air Force more cost efficient, people focused and mission effective,” King said. “It’s exciting to see that the API message is reaching our Airmen out in the field. For instance, I recently met an Airman from the 11th Force Support Squadron, at Joint Base Andrews, (Maryland), who was very excited to learn about API and how she and her colleagues could submit their ideas to improve our service. She was very interested and enthusiastic when learning these API ideas are being reviewed by the Air Force’s most senior leaders -- our leadership is listening. These types of feedback from our Airmen continue to motivate our team, knowing that this program is making a difference.”

Submitting an API idea is simple; in September 2014, the Air Force’s Office of Business Transformation launched an enhanced API page hosted on the Air Force Portal. The page provides information including the latest API approval statistics, access to historical data, current status of ideas in progress and commonly received ideas that were approved or disapproved and rationale for disapproval. These are tools that can help refine and enhance potential submissions, making it even easier for Airmen to communicate their ideas on how to improve the way the Air Force does business.

Although the API program is one of the smallest of the MEDC initiatives that total $8 billion over the next five years, API is changing the way Airmen think about their role in making every dollar count and their responsibility to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.

Face of Defense: 10th Mountain Gets First Female Brigadier

By Army Spc. Osama Ayyad 10th Mountain Division

FORT DRUM, N.Y., August 19, 2015 — Army Col. Diana Holland, the 10th Mountain Division’s deputy commander for support, was promoted to brigadier general and became the first woman to serve as deputy commanding general in any Army light infantry division during a July 29 ceremony here.

Holland, who has served in that position since her arrival here in May, is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan this fall as the division’s deputy commanding general for support, in support of Operation Resolute Support.

Holland previously deployed with the 3rd Infantry Division to Iraq in 2004 and led the 92nd Engineer Battalion and the 130th Engineer Brigade during deployments in Afghanistan.

Because of her qualifications and previous assignments, Holland is well-equipped to be the DCG-S during the division headquarters' upcoming deployment to Afghanistan, said Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Bannister, 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum commander.

Accomplished Officer

"The missions we have during our next deployment are right along her DNA," Bannister said during Holland's promotion ceremony.

Holland was among 895 second lieutenants who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1990. It was the 10th class to graduate women and the first to have a female cadet serve as first captain, the highest leadership position in the Corp of Cadets.

Approximately 2,000 of the 7,000 lieutenants who received their commission that year went on to reach the rank of colonel, and only 40 have been selected to become brigadier generals.

"That's a heck of a cut," Bannister said. "It's a little more than competence. It's about the character and about the reputation that you from the 2,000 to that half of a percentage point who become generals."

After postponing her promotion ceremony so family and friends could attend, Holland began her remarks by making sure her audience could hear her, including the few in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, who watched the ceremony via teleconference.

Many of her friends and colleagues traveled to attend the ceremony, during which she thanked all for their support.

Recognizing Noncommissioned Officers

Holland also gave special recognition of the noncommissioned officers with whom she has worked throughout her career, recalling the names of every enlisted soldier who was part of her command teams: her platoon sergeant when she was a platoon leader, her first sergeant when she was a company commander, and her command sergeants major as a battalion and brigade commander.

"As a leader in the Army, we are charged with inspiring our soldiers," Holland said. "But I often found myself inspired by them.”

She added, "Our soldiers accomplish amazing things every day and under incredible stress, and, when the going gets tough and the mission seems insurmountable, they raise their hands and say 'send me.'”

Serving with soldiers “is a privilege, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside such great Americans," Holland said.

"It is no wonder that we are, and continue to be, the greatest army in the world," she said.

Previously, 18 of the Army's 308 generals were women. Now Holland has joined their ranks.