Military News

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Secretary of the Navy Names Littoral Combat Ship



Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced today that the next Independence variant littoral combat ship will be named USS Oakland (LCS 24).  The ship will be named to honor the long-standing history its namesake city has had with the Navy.  The future USS Oakland will be the third naval ship to bear the name.  The first, commissioned in 1918, was largely used to transport cargo; the second, commissioned in 1942 during the height of World War II, was only in service for seven years, but was key during many antiaircraft missions in places such as Pearl Harbor, Marshall Islands, Pagan, Guam, Iwo Jima, Rota, Peleliu and Okinawa.  After the war, Oakland performed two duty patrols off the coast of China before being decommissioned.

A fast, agile surface combatant, the LCS provides the required war fighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute a variety of missions in areas such as mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare.  The ship will be built with modular design incorporating mission packages that can be changed out quickly as combat needs change in a region. These mission packages are supported by detachments that deploy both manned and unmanned vehicles, and sensors, in support of mine, undersea, and surface warfare missions.

Carter Congratulates Army Ranger School Graduates



By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, August 20, 2015 — The women who passed through the Army’s elite leadership proving ground are trailblazers, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today.

During a Pentagon news conference, Carter said that earlier in the day he had congratulated the soldiers who will be graduating from the Army Ranger School tomorrow and earning the Ranger tab.

“Like every Ranger serving today, help lead the finest fighting force the world has ever known,” Carter said, and called Ranger school graduation a credit for any man or woman who endures its intense training and curriculum.

The secretary noted that the military services are due to provide their reports Oct. 1 requesting any exceptions to the policy that opens combat jobs to women. Carter said he will make the final determination on that issue by the end of the year.

Defense Budget

Turning to the defense budget, Carter reminded reporters that 41 days remain until a National Defense Authorization Act must be passed.

"To build the force of the future -- the one our warfighters, our taxpayers and our nation deserves -- we need budget certainty," he said.

The Defense Department needs to be back on a multiyear budgeting plan, Carter said, warning against continuing to operate on continuing resolutions. If a continuing resolution results by the end of September, he added, it will be the seventh consecutive year for such a budget and "would have essentially the effect both in dollars and authorities of sequester."

“This is no way to run a department strategy,” the secretary said. “Strategy isn't a one-year-at-a-time thing. Aircraft carriers are not something you build in a year. Our troops, our force -- they deserve to know where things are going.”

He added that “people around the world might get a misleadingly diminished view of the United States by seeing this budget drama play out year in and year out.”

The secretary said he continues to hope for a consensus behind a multiyear budget and that a presidential veto, a continuing resolution or a second round of sequestration spending cuts won't be necessary.

“These things are no good for the country,” he said.

Approach to Closing Guantanamo

The wartime prison at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, must close in a responsible manner, the secretary said, telling reporters that as long as the prison remains open, “it will remain a rallying cry for jihadi propaganda.”

“Taxpayers are paying too high a financial price to keep it open,” Carter said, “and closing the facility should not be left to the next president.”

DoD will work with the White House’s national security team and with Congress on how to handle the prison’s two groups of detainees, Carter said. One group of about 50 prisoners has been deemed to be eligible or could be eligible for transfer to other nations, the secretary added. “but only in a way that mitigates the threat that these detainees might pose to the security of the United States.”

Transferring those prisoners involves complicated negotiations with international partners and extensive consultations with the leaders of the national security and legal organizations and final approval by me, Carter said, noting that he has final approval authority.

“We do this carefully -- we do it deliberately,” he said. “I've approved the transfer of several detainees and … will continue to do so when appropriate.”

Teams Assess Placement of Other Detainees

The second group of detainees is not eligible for transfer, the secretary said, and should remain in law-of-war detention. “I, therefore, want to complete a responsible, realistic and security-focused plan for an alternative defense detention facility in the United States for that second population.” he added.

Carter said he recently directed DoD assessment teams to evaluate alternative detention sites and costs to make other facilities suitable for holding the second group.

While the teams have looked at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and will visit Charleston, South Carolina, other sites will be considered so that DoD, the White House and Congress can “chart a responsible way forward and a plan so that we can close the detention facility at Guantanamo and this chapter in our history once and for all,” the secretary said.

South Carolina Air National Guard welcomes special guest

by Airman 1st Class Ashleigh S. Pavelek
169th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


8/19/2015 - MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- Six-year-old Declan Alexander was honored as a Swamp Fox Pilot for a Day, receiving a hero's welcome from the moment he arrived here on base August 15.

Declan and his father Brian Alexander, were guests of the South Carolina Air National Guard as part of the Pilot for a Day program, which allows children with disadvantages or debilitating illnesses to experience the life of a Swamp Fox fighter pilot for a day.

"Pilot for a Day allows us to reach out to the community, make community bonds and make a difference in someone's life," said 1st Lt. Cody May, a fighter pilot assigned to the 157th Fighter Squadron and Declan's host for the day.

The tour, led by May, began at Base Operations where Declan received a custom Swamp Fox pilot's flight suit from the aircrew flight equipment shop. He was later escorted to the end of the runway to watch F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft land and was greeted with 'thumbs up' and well wishes from the Airmen he met on base.

"It is hard to express how cool it is to have everyone take time out of their day to set all this up and show us around and create lasting memories," said Declan's father, Brian Alexander.  "It really is an amazing experience. There really are not words to express how much of a big deal this is for him and for us."

Declan displayed a big smile while sitting in the cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft bearing his name on the side.  He also enjoyed spraying the water cannon from McEntire's largest fire truck provided by the 169th Civil Engineer Squadron while touring the fire department, said his father.

"Getting to ride in a fire truck and getting to sit in a fighter jet are two things you don't ever get to do," Alexander said. "Those were definitely a ton of fun and put a smile on his face."

The Pilot for a Day program helps a child and the child's family to gain a memory of a lifetime, and is just as important to the Swamp Fox family who welcomed the young hero.

May said the most important part of the Pilot for a Day program is it has the ability to take a family's mind off of an illness by allowing them to experience something that very few people will ever get to experience.

"I really enjoyed being able to make a difference in someone's life," said May.

The 169th Fighter Wing has supported the Pilot for a Day program for nearly two decades.

Malmstrom's ICBM Operations team targets big win in Global Strike Challenge

by By John Turner
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs


8/19/2015 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Three missile combat crews who will represent the 341st Missile Wing at Air Force Global Strike Command's Global Strike Challenge 2015 are deep in training this month, honing their skills for the ICBM Operations competition.

The six crew members were selected from the 341st Operations Group's three tactical missile squadrons through written tests of procedural knowledge. Each two-person missile crew is now in intensive training to harmonize interpersonal efficiency and broaden their knowledge of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile weapon system.

The missile combat crews are from the wing's 10th, 12th and 490th Missile Squadrons and will compete Aug. 31 in the missile procedures trainer at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana. Their scores will be compared to those of similar crews competing at Minot AFB, North Dakota, and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, and will be revealed in October.

The ICBM competition is approximately two hours duration for each crew and consists of various stimuli including Emergency War Order actions, simulated emergencies, maintenance actions, and security situations that require crew members to respond according to tech data and knowledge. Crews must prioritize events presented simultaneously. The final score for each wing is calculated by adding the individual scores earned by their three competing crews.

And now let's meet Team Malmstrom's GSC 2015 ICBM Operations team:

1st Lt. Ian Sylvester, 10th MS crew commander, enjoys the outdoors and spending time with his wife and his growing family. He has previous GSC experience, and describes the team's preparation for this year's event as "training every single day" and "digging through all our documents, really trying to get into the fine details."

"Competing is an outstanding opportunity," Sylvester said. "I'm really looking forward to developing more as an individual in this competition and increase my knowledge, and then give that back to the crew force here at Malmstrom."

2nd Lt. Michael McCrary, 10th MS deputy crew commander, has been at Malmstrom for a little over a year and already has approximately 70 alerts and last year's GSC competition under his belt.

"It feels great to do it a second time," McCrary said. "Last year I had a blast learning about the weapons system. This time around I have a lot more experience so we have a much better chance of bringing home some trophies."

McCrary enjoys mountain biking and snowboarding in the Lewis and Clark National Forest.

1st Lt. Robert 'Bob' Schell, 12th MS crew commander, has been a crew member at Malmstrom for over two years and has completed 180 alerts here. He is currently a squadron instructor, a role he's been in for about three months.

"We have a strong team," Schell said. "I think we have a good chance."

While this is Schell's first GSC, the daily operations of the wing, especially alerts at Missile Alert Facility I-01, have helped him prepare. And, he believes his prior experience with a similar competition may help his crew.

Schell likes skiing and snowboarding, video games and "some yard work now that I have a lawn."

2nd Lt. Hunter Parisian, 12th MS deputy crew commander, has been at Malmstrom--his first choice for an assignment--for less than a year. He has completed almost 50 alerts and is still gaining a lot of experience, he said.

Parisian said the team trains several hours every day this month for GSC.

"I think Global Strike Challenge is definitely a lot of work to put in for the month but hopefully after the competition we'll all feel pretty good about ourselves," he said. "Hopefully we have a great sense of accomplishment."

Parisian enjoys riding his motorcycle, hunting and snowboarding.

1st Lt. Joseph 'Joey' Whelan, 490th MS crew commander, was on last year's GSC team as a deputy crew commander. He performed well, trailing first place by one point, and he sees this as his redemption year to win a trophy. He is doing a lot of studying to prepare for the competition, he said.

"Everybody knows how to do the job but it's a matter of doing it very efficiently and very quickly, and getting through stuff a lot faster than crews are normally going to get to it," Whelan said.

He describes the competition as exciting and fun.

Whelan enjoys sports including basketball, football and skiing. He has been in the Air Force three years.

2nd Lt. Angelica 'Ange' Phillips, 490th deputy crew commander, graduated from the Air Force Academy last year and arrived in Montana in February. She enjoys running and has a dog and a motorcycle. She has completed 16 alerts so far.

"It's a fairly awesome experience, just being so new to Malmstrom and the missile career field, to be able to do Global Strike Challenge within my first year," Phillips said. "I'm learning quite a bit."

1st Lt. Emily Barielle, 10th MS, and 1st Lt. Aurea Pomales-Martinez, 490th MS, are the team's instructors as well as Malmstrom's alternate crew.

Global Strike Challenge is the world's premier bomber, intercontinental ballistic missile and security forces competition. Through competition and teamwork at various locations throughout the country, the event looks to foster esprit de corps, recognize outstanding AFGSC personnel and teams and improve combat capabilities. More than 450 Airmen from across AFGSC, as well as the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command, Air Force Materiel Command and Air Combat Command will take part in Global Strike Challenge competitions at various locations throughout the country.

The wing's Global Strike Challenge 2015 kickoff activities will be Aug. 28 at the Grizzly Bend.

Mobility Airmen recover radiological material from Mexico

by Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade
Air Mobility Command


8/20/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- Headquarters Air Mobility Command, in close partnership with the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration recently executed a C-17 Globemaster III mission to repatriate three Husman irradiators containing radioactive material from Mexico to the United States for final disposition.

One of the NNSA's primary missions focuses on nonproliferation efforts and they work closely with a wide range of international partners and key U.S. federal agencies to detect, secure and dispose of dangerous nuclear and radiological material.

According to an NNSA press release, the irradiators were provided to Mexico by the U.S. more than 30 years ago and have played a critical role in the eradication of a devastating livestock parasite, the screwworm.  At the time of their removal, the three irradiators contained more than 50,000 curies of cesium-137, a high-activity radioisotope that could be used by terrorists or other nefarious organizations to construct a radiological dispersal device.

Due to irradiator's significant size and weight -over 16,000 pounds each- a comprehensive plan was required to remove the items from the operating facility, transport them to a nearby airfield and properly configure them for air transport.  For nearly a year prior to mission execution, Senior Master Sgt. Toby McKnight and Master Sgt. Kim Fabian from AMC 's Nuclear Airlift Operations Division, provided the NNSA, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, critical subject matter expertise regarding various aspects of the logistics operation.

"The NNSA sought out AMC's Nuclear Airlift Branch and specifically McKnight and Fabian due to their C-17 experience preparing and transporting nuclear, nuclear-related, and sensitive cargo," said Maj. Anthony Cappel, HQ AMC Nuclear Airlift Operations deputy chief.  "With a combined 23 years of loadmaster experience, their unique credentials transporting sensitive material made them indispensable subject matter experts to the repatriation effort."

To ensure the irradiators would be transported safely and legally, McKnight and Fabian augmented DOE-led teams on two separate site visits to develop the plans, coordinate international agreements, and review host-nation support material and capabilities.  Among their many contributions, they designed a cargo preparation and tie-down plan and ultimately secured a special cargo certification by the Air Transportability Test Load Agency for air transport.

Despite a myriad of challenges, the DOE-led team worked closely together and kept the mission on track.  Fabian and McKnight helped coordinate equipment and an aircraft. A C-17 Globemaster III mission was tasked by the 618th Air Operations Center at Scott AFB, Illinois and flown by the 4th Airlift Squadron at McChord Field, Washington.

"Although, the irradiators were not classified as nuclear-related material, the 4th AS was tasked with the mission due to the units' experience transporting sensitive material," said Fabian.

The 4th AS aircrew transported the material from an airfield in Southern Mexico to an Air Force base in the United States.  The shipment was then securely transferred to a permanent storage facility.

"We all understood that removing these items to a secure U.S. location was a top DOE and NNSA priority," said McKnight. "This mission was truly a Joint and Inter-Agency effort.  I feel fortunate to have worked with such an amazing team to accomplish something so important for our national defense."

No more free rides: AADD reconstructs framework

by Airman 1st Class Curt Beach
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs


8/19/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Once a program has been in place for an extended period of time, its original focus can sometimes become blurred. Changes are sometimes necessary in order for the program to remain effective and productive. Airmen Against Drunk Driving found themselves in a similar situation, seeking a solution.

Effective immediately, Airmen receiving rides from AADD will be required to return the favor through a new Pay it Forward initiative, in which they will complete an AADD shift within two weeks of using the service.

"The program was turning into a taxi service more than an education and training program, and Airmen were using AADD as their plan for getting home after a night of drinking versus being responsible and having a designated driver in place or calling a taxi," said Master Sgt. Jack Pate, 2nd Medical Group first sergeant. "Changes were necessary due to the route the program was taking."

This new framework was agreed upon after much collaboration among the Chiefs Group, First Sergeant Association and the AADD council.

"The Pay it Forward policy allows AADD to better nurture the elements of responsibility it was founded upon," said Airman 1st Class Breanna Beck, AADD president. "We needed to address the misuse of the program that had been taking place. If we are going to see a reduction in our drunken driving occurrences, we must first see an influx in self-control. We are there for our fellow Airmen, but they must also be there for themselves."

In the past, the identity of Airmen using the program had remained anonymous. With this new policy, that won't entirely be possible anymore. Airmen will need to present their Department of Defense ID card to get a ride. Names will be documented to ensure compliance with the new initiative.

"This is a good direction for the program since it creates a shared responsibility and in essence causes members who use the program to take some responsibility for their poor planning; even though I understand plans can and do fall through, this should be the exception - not the norm," said Pate.

Failure to complete a Pay it Forward shift, will be handled accordingly by squadron leadership and first sergeants.

"Adopting the Pay it Forward concept should not be viewed negatively or as punishment," said Chief Master Sgt. Tommy Mazzone, 2nd Bomb Wing command chief. "The goal is to remind Airmen to plan responsibly. If need be, their wingmen will be there for them.  All we ask is they provide that same courtesy for their fellow wingmen."

This change may not be embraced with open arms by those who regularly neglect to plan ahead.

"I would ask why [Airmen who use the program] would not want to volunteer for a program they received free of charge, and why they would expect their fellow Airmen to give up a Friday or Saturday night just so they don't have to pay for a taxi," said Pate.

This new initiative is designed to reinforce responsible decision making as well as help bridge the gap between high caller volume and low volunteer numbers.

Desert Airmen head to mountains for expeditionary skills training

by Tech. Sgt. Michael Matkin
161st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


8/19/2015 - BELLEMONT, Ariz.  -- Airmen from the 161st Air Refueling Wing based in Phoenix traveled to Camp Navajo, the Army's high elevation training center here, to complete vital training requirements Aug. 4 through 7.

During the training, Airmen learned contingency skills such as self-aid buddy care and the ability to survive and operate during chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive attacks. The Airmen also participated in diversity training and learned land navigation skills.

Completing ancillary training at Camp Navajo versus home station allows Airmen to focus solely on training, while also providing a location to complete both classroom and field instruction said Col. Kyle Kobashigawa, 161st Mission Support Group commander and camp commandant.

"When we are at home station we have a lot of stuff to do and so the training gets put on hold. There's a lot to accomplish in just one weekend," said Airman 1st Class Robert Thompson, 161st Medical Group aerospace medic. "It's nice to come up here and not have to worry about all the other stuff we need to do around base."

Tech. Sgt. Steven Isaman, superintendent of nursing services at the wing, said focusing on training without distractions can save a life. He said when self-aid buddy care is taught at home station; Airmen are often called away in the middle of training because they are needed elsewhere. This can take away from vital hands on training, which builds the muscle memory needed in real-life situations.

"It's not only your life, it's your buddy's life too," said Isaman. "It's one thing to see something demonstrated, but when you actually perform it, you find there are little nuances that maybe you didn't notice before. You could be making a swath to support a broken arm and realize you need to lift the arm higher to tie the knot; things that if you don't practice you will fumble through when they happen in real life. If you fumble in real life you are delaying care and putting people at risk."

Thompson said he enjoyed reinforcing skills and building new ones - especially land navigation.

"I learned how to shoot an azimuth and how to read a map and find points on it," he said. "I never thought about counting my paces and paying attention to that. I don't know if I'll ever have to use it, but it was fun learning it, and I guarantee someone up here will use it someday."

Thompson also enjoyed getting to know new people.

"It's nice to be able to meet people outside of drill," he said. "You see people around base, but you don't know their names or really know them personally."

Kobashigawa said meeting new people was almost as important as the training itself.

"Meeting new people helps with base communication, and thereby, helps the mission," he said. "Being traditional guardsmen it's hard to remember someone's name from month to month. We do our jobs and then go home. At [Camp] Navajo, we ate our meals together, we trained together and we spent time after the duty day getting to know each other. Having the time to meet new people and get to know them on a personal basis, will pay huge communication dividends down the road. Now they know someone from base supply, or Petroleum Oil and Lubricants, or the clinic - and they met at [Camp] Navajo."

Face of Defense: Air Force Fighter Pilot Reaches 3,000 Flying Hours



By Air Force Airman Shawna L. Keyes 4th Fighter Wing

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C., August 20, 2015 — For F-15E Strike Eagle aircrew at the 4th Fighter Wing here, flying through the skies is a regular part of life. But for Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Hibbard, a 333rd Fighter Squadron instructor pilot, the clouds are like a second home.

Hibbard is in rare air, indeed, after recently surpassing the 3,000-hour mark in the F-15E -- the equivalent of more than four continuous months in the air.

He said he still remembers hour number one, back on Feb. 9, 1995, as a student in the first F-15 basic course held here.

"My first couple of hours in the Strike Eagle were exhilarating," Hibbard said. "What an amazing machine. The simulator and ground briefs prepared us for all of the procedures we would execute, but nothing prepares you for the kick in the pants, the G-forces and the mind-racing visuals of a flight in an F-15E. Over time, I've grown accustomed to the physical demands, but the joys of dominating the aerial environment haven't faded."

Diverse Career

Following initial training, Hibbard explained he had a unique experience to be assigned to four different F-15E operational squadrons.

Hibbard has flown with the 494th FS at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England; the 389th FS at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; and the 335th FS at Seymour Johnson AFB. He's also spent time at the 90th FS at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, when F-15Es were assigned there.

"I've participated in operations or exercises supporting our national military objectives in over 21 nations throughout four continents," Hibbard said. "While amazing and rewarding, I wouldn't call it exceptional. Airmen, soldiers, sailors, Marines and (Defense Department) civilians are making the amazing possible every day in places more far-flung than I ever experienced. They are the exceptional ones."

Mutual Milestone

Hibbard has flown more than 1,550 sorties and deployed seven times. But he said he's not crazy about statistical credentials.

"I don't want to be known as the guy with 1,000, 2,000 or 3,000 hours," Hibbard said. "Demonstrated performance was always, and remains, my benchmark, and that is only as good as your last sortie."

Upon landing from the sortie that took him over the mark, Hibbard's family and friends joined him on the ramp to celebrate his achievement. He said he was especially appreciative that his family was allowed out because they don't get to participate in a lot of what he does.

"So few Strike Eagle aircrew reach this milestone, and I didn't get there on my own," he said. "My wife of 22 years has supported me the whole way (as well as) all the unsung Airmen doing their best to make this milestone possible."

Sharing Expertise

As an instructor pilot, Hibbard is charged with training new Strike Eagle aviators during the qualification course. Lt. Col. Frederick Haley, the 333rd FS commander, said having someone with Hibbard's expertise provides an added benefit to those with zero hours in the aircraft.

"There are only two other actively flying F-15E pilots who have achieved this rare milestone," Haley said. "The 333rd Fighter Squadron is fortunate to have an officer of such tremendous talent and rare experience committed to developing the next generation of Strike Eagle warriors."

Hibbard said he plans to continue passing down his knowledge and expertise to all the younger pilots who come through his classroom.
"I can tell you the 3,000th hour didn't feel very different from the 2,000th or 1,000th hour, but it feels a lot different from that first hour," Hibbard said. "I look forward to being able to continue to fly the Strike Eagle for as long as the Air Force will allow me."