Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thai combat controllers, U.S. air support operations make it rain

by Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
JBER Public Affairs

8/26/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Fliers and ground crews got used to a lot of foreign accents throughout Red Flag Alaska 15-3.

However, for U.S. and coalition C-130 Hercules pilots, one unique accent that routinely pierced the steady droning noise of their Pratt and Whitney motors came from Royal Thai Air Force combat controllers.

Going by their call signs, RTAF combat controllers "Nok" and "Piglet," Flight Sgt. 1st Class Saknarong Wongin and Flight Lieutenant Phongsakron Namjit, worked with side-by-side with a U.S. Air Force air mobility liaison officer, Capt. Michael Spanogle from the 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron to drop common delivery system bundles and paratroopers from the back of coalition aircraft in simulated combat situations.

"This was a very unique opportunity for both parties," Spanogle said. "Just to see how their special forces and combat controllers operate is helpful. There are a lot of parallels when it comes to passing nine-lines, radio operations and things of that nature."

While there are vast differences and scopes of responsibility between not only AMLOs and CCTs, one constant is the ability to be a one-man air traffic controller in an austere location.

"Whenever there is an air drop, my job is to go out and survey the area, make sure it's safe for operations, and coordinate with the users," Spanogle said. "My job is to go out as a single resource, which is what I normally do, or, in this case, working with the Royal Thai Air Force to help train them."

The U.S.-Thai ground team focused on improving radio platform integration and streamlining communication.

"It was good working with the Americans to learn new communication techniques and procedures," Wongin said. "It was fun. [Spanogle] taught us a lot. We will use the lessons we learned in the future for improved cooperation."

While the U.S. AMLO and Thai CCT personnel were working to improve their craft, 3rd ASOS technicians, took the opportunity to install radio equipment onboard a Humvee. They were then able to test and demonstrate the improved voice and digital radio capabilities to the Thais.

According to Tech. Sgt. Mike Whiteman, 3rd ASOS support superintendent, the capabilities, tactics, techniques and procedures demonstrated to the RTAF CCT members shows how an improved radio platform can increase communication with both ground and air resources.

The combined efforts are representative of the learning processes required from international forces during large operations and continue to prove how crucial these events are to conducting streamlined operations for future exercises and real world operations, Whitman said.

In addition to radio communication, Spanogle, Nok and Piglet worked together to set up point-of-impact markings and landing zone panels to guide aircraft. They also shared techniques on recording data and how to best pass that information to an inbound aircraft.

"It's absolutely critical," Spanogle said. "From a flying standpoint, when integrating with other nations, you see a lot of dynamics and aspects come together. From the ground sense, it's a very unique opportunity. Learning how they think and operate is awesome. It teaches us how to make things more streamlined and safe. That way, if we do go to combat, those lessons will make us more effective when we integrate."

While the Thai CCT personnel and U.S. AMLO had  operational duties to perform together, the same amount of effort was put into solidifying their personal relationships.

A common understanding among participants at Red Flag was if you went near the Thai aircrew area around lunch time, you'd be invited to stay for food, according to several aircrews.

"Personal relationships are huge," Spanogle said. "That first day you get to meet someone really sets the tone for how things are going to go. I have nothing but accolades to sing for them. They were very professional and kind. They were here for more than to just drop things out of the back of an airplane. They were here to build a relationship with our forces."

JBER partnerships with local schools

by Senior Airman Tammie Ramsouer
JBER Public Affairs

8/26/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Sneakers, boots and other footwear moved across pavement and hallways as hundreds of children made their way back to school, returning to the education that will help them in the future. Service members wanting to contribute to that future have the opportunity to do so through the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson School Partnership Program.

The partnership between JBER and the Anchorage School District began in 2009 with U.S. Army Alaska and expanded to the 673d Air Base Wing in 2011.

"The program is a way to provide positive role models in the school setting and [is] a way to give back to the local community," said Adele Daniels, 673d Force Support Squadron school liaison officer.

In previous years, more than 200 service members have volunteered their time and knowledge to multiple elementary, middle and high schools throughout the Anchorage area.

"Depending on what the principal of each school is interested in having the student body learn, they may have service members participate in career days for the students," Daniels said. "It's a way for them to understand what our military members do in each of their jobs."

The service members express their gratitude by providing a look into military life.

"I heard about the program three years ago," said Sgt. Matthew Macarah, a 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment paratrooper and a volunteer at Gruening Middle and Alpenglow Elementary schools. "We had just come back from a deployment. It was a perfect opportunity for me to work with kids again. My excitement stemmed from being back in the school setting and sharing the daily training activities of a paratrooper."

Macarah has a background in school administration and teaching in the Los Angeles education system.

Although the units stay the same, the personnel volunteering for the program come and go each school year.

"The only difference we have every year is the points of contact for each of the units," Daniels said. "They typically go to another duty location or have decided to put another individual in charge of the program for their unit for that school year."

"We always have new volunteers helping and showcasing what they do in their jobs," said Wendy Brons, Ursa Minor Elementary School principal.

Bronze added that the program is an excellent way for service members to see how different the curriculum is now compared to when they were going to school.

"Even if the individual volunteering is a young Soldier, there is so much information that is new in the school system they never even knew about while going through elementary school," Brons said.

Macarah said the interactions between the Soldiers, faculty and students have been very rewarding.

"Several of the volunteers have aspirations to become teachers," he said. "By volunteering at [the local schools], the faculty is able to help show the Soldiers exactly what to expect in their future careers."

Service members participate in the many activities at each school, by reading to students and working out with the students during physical education.

For those who do not want to directly volunteer with students, there are other ways to get involved.

"We have so many different opportunities for a wide range of volunteers who don't feel comfortable being with the students," Brons said.

These opportunities can be helping the librarian put books away, or by helping teachers get ready for each class.

Throughout the program, service members and students create lasting impacts.

"I think the program creates connections between the students and the service members on a level that isn't like any other," Brons said. "When these Soldiers walk into the classrooms with their uniforms on, the students react in a positive manner."

Both military and civilian students have the opportunity to speak with service members and understand what they do on a daily basis, Macarah said.

Bronze said she hopes the program will last and keep the connection between the military and school districts.

"I think this program is great, because it gets the adults in the community to come in and get a realistic view of what really goes on at school," Brons said. "I hope this partnership goes on so we keep that connection of parents and the school system alive."

For more information about this program or other school-affiliated programs, contact the School Liaison Office at 384-1505.

Carter Praises New Transcom Commander’s Experience, Commitment

By Amaani Lyle DoD News Features, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, August 26, 2015 — As Air Force Gen. Darren McDew took U.S. Transportation Command’s reins during an assumption-of-command ceremony at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, today, Defense Secretary Ash Carter noted the general’s credentials for his new post.

Carter said McDew’s teachers recognized his potential, and that later, when leaders named him regimental commander at Virginia Military Institute, the general’s commitment to service became a hallmark of his educational and professional journey.

“For more than three decades in our Air Force, whether at the squadron, wing or group level, General McDew has stood out for his uncommon ability to lead,” Carter said, adding that the four-star leader brings “an understanding of military logistics from the inside out” to the command, which provides for the Defense Department’s mobility needs around the globe.

A Tested Operator

“He is a tested operator who has logged more than 3,000 hours on tankers, C-17s and C-130s, and delivered critical support and supplies to soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines on several continents.”

In providing the flexibility and mobility to execute missions globally, much of Transcom’s strength, Carter explained, stems from its ability to evolve, adapt and respond quickly to new challenges and demands.

The secretary recalled that while serving as undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, he saw firsthand how Transcom supported deployed troops who toiled during the ramp-up days in Afghanistan.

“It was one of the most difficult places in the world to wage a war,” the secretary said. “It has … some of the most forbidding terrain imaginable, limited transportation system, and landlocked to boot.” And yet, Carter said, U.S. forces were able to surge forces and build hundreds of forward and contingency bases during a period of heated conflict.

But Transcom’s complex logistical orchestration, once dubbed the “Afghanistan miracle,” now must morph strategically into preparation for meeting challenges from high-end adversaries, which he said will require major logistical lift.

Reform, Innovation Are Critical

“As we reduce our focus on counterinsurgency and place more emphasis on full-spectrum, rapid response capabilities, Transcom’s ability to reform and innovate will become more critical,” Carter said.

The secretary’s ongoing Force of the Future discussions have highlighted examples of technology and innovation, and he reported that Transcom already has improved its capacity to track deliveries in real time and predict with greater accuracy the arrival of shipments.

“These reforms have allowed our forces in the field to plan more effectively and efficiently and help bring costs down,” the secretary said.

Transcom also has strengthened and streamlined efforts with private sector providers, Cater said. “By finding new ways to use existing commercial infrastructure, by spurring greater competition among private sector partners, Transcom continues to make our operations more cost effective,” he added.

The command’s commitment to expanding these reforms remains vital, and with good reason, Carter said.

Value for the Taxpayer

“As we deliver for the warfighter, we have an obligation to deliver value for the taxpayer as well,” he said, noting the importance of Congress allowing a budget for Transcom that charts a responsible course and invests in its people. “When we’re forced to make irresponsible cuts, it’s readiness that suffers first,” The secretary said.

Carter commended McDew’s breadth of experience. “Through serving as military aide to the president and as vice director of strategic plans at the Pentagon,” he said, “he has developed a keen, strategic understanding of the judicious and effective use of American power.”

But McDew’s stalwart commitment to the enrichment and development of what he described as the military’s most valuable asset -- people -- is what distinguishes him among leaders, Carter said. He noted that as McDew assumes the vital command, he succeeds Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, now the 10th vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“That the president has nominated some of our most distinguished military leaders to assume this command speaks volumes about the vital importance of Transcom and its people,” he said.

Whether enabling the United States to lead a global Ebola containment effort in West Africa, helping the United States to save lives and provide urgent relief to Yazidis on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq or delivering 70,000 pounds of rescue operations supplies to Nepal after its earthquake, Transcom ensures American power can reach anywhere, Carter said.

“We know the people of Transcom will carry forward a steadfast commitment to deliver what our force requires, whenever, wherever they require it,” he added.

Airman author brings fictional, real heroes to life

by Staff Sgt. Darren Scott
460th Space Wing Public Affairs

8/26/2015 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- In stories, the hero is often called upon to accomplish a great task, to take on the weight of a burden they did not anticipate, even though they know that hardships may plague every step of their journey. For storytellers, joy often comes from seeing the hero overcome the many obstacles placed in front of them to emerge strong and victorious against the odds.

Senior Airman Brian McLean is the author of such stories. He is also, in his own way, the hero.

As a 11th Space Warning Squadron Future Operations Flight staff instructor, McLean has been handed some heavy responsibility of his own, becoming the main point of contact for all things HEO-3, the newest highly elliptical orbit satellite in the Space-Based Infrared System.

"It's very exciting to be in charge of something like this," McLean said. "At the time I didn't really think much of it. I thought 'Cool, I'll get some regular hours, get off shift, you know, do something more than just the routine day to day.' To find out that you're going to be the point of contact for everything HEO-3 is kind of terrifying. You sure? I'm only a senior airman, here."

Aside from being the main point of contact for getting HEO-3 operational, McLean was also responsible for developing and implementing the training program for space operators working with HEO-3, as well as designing their evaluation system. For him, one of the most humbling aspects was that his leadership put their faith in him.

"To be completely trusted to handle all of this, at a senior airman level, that is just insane to me," McLean said, "Having that kind of role and responsibility has been eye-opening. I've been in the military four years and this is where I am right now. That's unheard of for someone at my level, so low on the totem pole. It's intense."

Not only did he head up this initiative, but McLean had an enormous impact on the overall mission. He ensured that HEO-3 was not only operational within one year of launching, but also two years ahead of schedule, securing one more piece of the space-based missile warning mission. It's an accomplishment he is quite proud of.

"The amazing thing is, HEO-3 shouldn't even be doing anything right now. It should just be up there, waiting for us to launch HEO-4, so we can take HEO-1 and 2 and do other things with them. So the fact that it's up in the air and actively in operations right now is great," McLean said, "It really is a point of pride to actually sit back, now that we have HEO-3 up and running and the operators I've trained are actually performing the mission. It's exhilarating."

Staff Sgt. Tim Lukenbaugh, NCO in charge of future operations and McLean's supervisor, says having an Airman like him is a vital asset to the mission and makes his job all the more enjoyable.

"It's easy. He just goes," Lukenbaugh said. "You give him one thing, and he'll do everything you tell him to do better than you ask for. No arguing, no complaining, no negativity. You talk to any leadership in our squadron and they'll give you the same answer: I'll do anything for that guy. That's the kind of reputation he has."

Operations and training aren't the only thing McLean authors, however. He is also a passionate writer, having minored in creative writing in college. Despite the high-speed work environment of his job, he still finds the time to practice what he loves.

"I have a great idea in my head and I need to get it out, that way I can breathe, exhale, walk away and do something else," McLean said. "It's always something I've been passionate about. I'd love to write a book someday, even if it is just some project on the side."

McLean treats his writing just as seriously as he treats his work, devoting himself to his writing with passion and drive. When he gets in the zone, he says, it's like the when HEO-3 got up and running. It's a great feeling.

"When I'm in the zone, I don't even notice the sun come up, I don't notice the sun go down," McLean said. "I'm completely in the moment for that story. When you actually get done with it, and you physically have something in front of you that you're proud of, it's a great feeling."

McLean is proud of the work he's done, and has confidence in the work he has yet to do. In a career field that often deals with spacecraft thousands of miles away, he says having something tangible to see is encouraging.

"It's hard to shake that feeling of accomplishment when you sit there and see all the work just paid off. That's where it is, right there. When I write a story, it's the exact same way. I did something, I accomplished something that is my own voice, no one's ever going to replicate it the same way I do."

Whether he's creating plans for new space operators or a new fictional world, Senior Airman McLean can rest easy, knowing he not only can create a hero, but be one as well.

Team Robins remembers Hurricane Katrina 10 years later

by Angela Woolen
78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

8/26/2015 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The stories tell the same tales. The destruction Hurricane Katrina left when it made landfall Aug. 29, 2005, was immense. Now 10 years later, Robins team members are sharing their stories of what it was like during and after the storm.

"The devastation was unbelievable," said Marty Cain, 78th Air Base Wing legacy systems maintainer, who traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi, with a group of co-workers and church members.

"All the oak trees were just stripped. The houses were stripped to the foundations," Cain remembered. What his group of a few dozen did was mostly repair homes and cut down trees. Part of their efforts included rescuing an elderly lady who had been trapped in her home due to fallen trees.

During his week-long stay -- in which the assembly stayed in tents on someone's farm in Lyman, Mississippi -- Cain saw another place which was buzzing with hummingbirds looking for food.

"You can't appreciate the scope of the damage through videos or pictures," he said.

In fact, the storm affected areas from Louisiana to Alabama causing 1,304 deaths and $50 billion in damages, according to a report by Dr. Daniel Haulman, Nov. 17, 2006, titled, "The U.S. Air Force Response to Hurricane Katrina."

Between Aug. 23 and 29, the Air Force flew 109 hours in WC-130 airplanes which were used to measure and track the hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Air Force fixed wing aircraft, including C-130s, C-17s and C-5s, flew crucial airlift missions to transport both people and equipment and supplies," the report said.

The Air Force evacuated 2,602 medical patients and an additional 26,943 displaced people from the area.

In all branches, the Department of Defense "flew 12,786 helicopter sorties, rescued 15,000 citizens and transported 80,000 people," Haulman said.

A 433rd Airlift Wing C-5 shuttled more than 1,200 patients from New Orleans to San Antonio, Texas. The aircraft also brought in large water pumps from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to help pump water from the flooded New Orleans.

Robins deployed 68 personnel and $4 million in equipment for the relief effort from the 51st Combat Communications Squadron and volunteers from the 52nd Combat Communication Squadron were also called upon to aid in setting up communications, according to Tech Sgt. Joshua Bendall, historian for the group.

"We brought everything we had," said Master Sgt. Brad Schafer, 78th Medical Group first sergeant and formerly with the 5th Combat Communications Group.

The main mission for the group was to set up communications at Keesler Air Force Base near Gulfport, Mississippi, and to provide assistance to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The deployed Airmen stayed in the student triangle at the base during their six- to eight-week stay.

Schafer remembered the base commissary being flooded with water and cars floating. He said technical school students at the base were told to leave their cars and were evacuated to other bases.

Cars were spray painted with insurance company's names, and houses were also marked to let others know it had been checked for survivors.

"It reminded me of a city dump," Schafer said. "All around were trash piles, but those piles were houses. It looked like someone had picked the house up, crumbled it and dropped it back down,"

Master Sgt. Avis Smith, now the the Robins Airman and Family Readiness Center noncommissioned officer in charge, was stationed at Keesler during the storm. Her husband and three children evacuated to Atlanta while she sheltered on base.

She and her fellow co-workers stayed in the dorms, which were made of thick concrete while the storm hit. In the interior rooms, Smith said she couldn't hear much, but in the bathroom or stairwell the noise was a different story.

"It sounds like the roof was falling apart," she said.

Her siblings lived in New Orleans and lost their homes. Her father, a firefighter in the city, had to gut his house.

For years, Smith wouldn't drive along the coast.

"I couldn't stand looking at it," she said of the loss of the antebellum homes along the Gulf Coast along with countless trademark restaurants and shops.

Cain was one who did drive along the beach.

"There was not a single home standing. It was as ugly as it could get," he said.

Joel Watson, a C-130 aircraft overhaul supervisor with the 560th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, was on a different mission. He went to the city as part of an animal rescue. His wife heard there were three women who wanted to help animals in the area.

"When we got off the exit, going into Mobile, Alabama, there were people looting," Watson said.

The closer they got to where the hurricane made landfall, the worse the roads were.

"There were big old shrimp boats turned upside down. It was creepy," Watson said.

Watson said even with all the devastation and the sadness that came with the tragedy, he was able to take away a touch of happiness when he brought home a Catahoula hound dog he named Jazz.

"I got a good dog from it," Watson said.

"Double McGuffin" pulled on SMC/AD and ORS leadership changes

by James Spellman, Jr.
Space and Missile Systems Public Affairs

8/25/2015 - KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- At the beginning of the 1979 film, The Double McGuffin starring Ernest Borgnine and George Kennedy, narrator Orson Welles informs the movie audience a McGuffin is an object that serves as the focal point of the plot in the thriller genre. This particular film had two such objects -- a suitcase of money and a severed hand - leading to the prevention of a political assassination.

Meanwhile, back at the Space and Missile Systems Center . . . nothing dramatic as a movie plot took place. Instead, a couple of leadership changes occurred Aug. 17 within two of SMC's Directorates: the Operationally Responsive Space Office and the Advanced Systems and Development Directorate, both located at Kirtland AFB.

Col. John S.R. Anttonen assumed command as director of the Advanced Systems and Development Directorate and commander of SMC's Detachment 1 at Kirtland in an assumption of command ceremony presided over by Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry, SMC's vice commander. The AD Directorate's mission is to deliver responsive space capabilities to users across the National Security Space community and conduct developmental planning, science and technology, and pre-systems acquisition for SMC, headquartered at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif.

Anttonen leads a combined team of more than 740 military, government civilians, and contractors in four geographically separated units responsible for development, acquisition, demonstration, launch, test and operations of Department of Defense and civil space systems. Prior to assuming his new position, Anttonen was the director of the Operationally Responsive Space Office at Kirtland, overseeing the development, demonstration, and fielding of space capabilities focused on timely satisfaction of joint force commanders' needs.

"Ask yourself, if you aren't trying to change the world, then why are you doing what you are doing? Changing the way space operations is performed now, five years from now, and well into the future is what this directorate is all about," said Anttonen in his remarks upon assuming command of SMC/AD. "My goal is to instill this culture and get each and every person to "Think" especially about their future and how he/she can revolutionize space operations."

Filling the spot freshly vacated by Anttonen during a change of command ceremony an hour earlier and also presided over by General McMurry is Col. Shahnaz Punjani as the new director of the Operationally Responsive Space Office.

"I've been aware of ORS since its infancy," said Punjani in her remarks to the audience. "I'm just ecstatic to be a part of this office with its current path on future programs and role in space. The ORS Office is a proactive step to adapt space capabilities to changing national security requirements and to be an agent for change across the community."

The ORS Office works with the broader space community to provide assured space power focused on timely satisfaction of Joint Force Commanders' needs.  The end state of the ORS concept is the ability to address emerging, persistent and/or unanticipated needs through timely augmentation, reconstitution and exploitation of space force enhancement, space control and space support capabilities.

ORS is taking a new approach to risk and mission assurance to rapidly deploy capabilities that are good enough to satisfy warfighter needs across the entire spectrum of operations, from peacetime through conflict.

Prior to taking command of ORS, Punjani served as commander of the 30th Launch Group, 30th Space Wing, Air Force Space Command at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. In this role, she was responsible for launch processing mission assurance and integration for the DOD, Air Force, National Reconnaissance Office, Missile Defense Agency, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Both officers bring a wealth of experience and unique talents and skill sets to their respective new directorates.

Anttonen was commissioned in 1989 through the Air Force ROTC program at Oregon State University where he studied Mechanical Engineering. During his career, Anttonen served in a variety of space research and development positions including Propulsion Development, Test Resource Management, Military Spaceplane Technology Development, DARPA Deputy Program Manager for the Falcon Spacelift Program and at the National Reconnaissance Office.

He is a graduate of the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, where he earned a Doctorate in Aeronautical Engineering with a dissertation entitled "Techniques for Reduced Order Modeling of Aeroelastic Structures with Deforming Grids." In 2007, he attended the prestigious Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C. where he earned Distinguished Graduate honors and the Department of Homeland Security award for Excellence in Research for his paper entitled "The Three Computer War."

Anttonen deployed twice as a United Nations Ballistic Missile Expert for Arms Control to Iraq. Additionally, he deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom serving in the Office of Security Assistance, Logistics in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Punjani received her commission from the Air Force ROTC program at Pennsylvania State University in May 1991 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. She holds a Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio and a Master of Science degree from the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Ala. She graduated from the Air Force Test Pilot School's Flight Test Engineer Course in 1999.

Punjani is a career acquisition officer with assignments at the research laboratory, flight test center, program office, and Air Staff levels. Her experience includes chemical defense systems; hypersonic propulsion technology; aircraft and weapons flight test; Air Force programming and budgeting; test and evaluation of demonstration satellites; launch system telemetry relay; and acquisition education. Punjani is Level III certified in Systems Planning, Research, Development, and Engineering, Test and Evaluation and Program Management.

"These two organizations -- ORS and SMC/AD -- are as important as ever," said McMurry in reflecting on his presiding over the two ceremonies and changes in leadership. "The nation needs rapid, operationally relevant, and robust solutions to space mission challenges more than ever. Col. Punjani and Col. Anttonen are exactly the right people to lead the way."

Marines overcome hardships, prepare for the battlefield

by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski
460th Space Wing Public Affairs

8/24/2015 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- "Fire mission!" comes out over the radio and creates a frenzy in the gun pit, as each Marine moves rapidly into position to fire the M777 A2 Howitzer. Within seconds, a round is loaded and a Marine stands waiting for the command to fire. 'Fire!' the chief yells, after a last glance at the sights. A thunderous boom shakes the ground as the 100-pound round is ejected out of the barrel. Dirt and gun powder fill the air as the other Howitzers on the line follow suit.  Miles away, black clouds appear on a hillside identifying where the rounds impacted. Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion 14th Marines, has made its presence known in Guernsey, Wyoming.

Q Battery is a reserve Marine artillery unit staged out of Buckley Air Force Base. Recently, Q Battery, which is made up of over 150 Marines, took to the countryside for three days to train at Camp Guernsey.

"Every single Marine plays a huge role in making those guns go boom," said Gunnery Sgt. Zachary Storrud, Q Battery 5/14 battery gunnery sergeant. "Everyone in artillery needs to be there. It's probably the coolest military occupational specialty in the Marine Corps, because we have 13 to 14 different MOS's that do one job, which is make those guns go boom."

Firing artillery is much more complex than just point and shoot. From fire direction control, to communications, to the gun line, the choreography of artillery takes many men with varying specialties to put rounds down range effectively.

Before a Howitzer can fire, an advanced party must scout out an area that the Marines feel is appropriate to fire from. When the advanced party reaches an area they feel comfortable firing from, they scout the area for any signs of enemy combatants before calling in the guns. Once an area is deemed safe, communications, survey, and fire direction control are set up and await the arrival of the guns.

When the guns arrive on scene, they are brought to pre-determined locations marked with aiming posts which help align the guns. Marines use compasses to correctly place the guns on a line they feel will give them accurate fire. Once in line, they lay the guns in place and ready them to be fired.

Geometry is used to calculate the correct position the gun needs to be in for accurate fire. When a round impacts, a forward observer radios back whether the round was on target or if adjustments need to be made. If the round was off target, data collected from the forward observer will be used by fire direction control to calculate what adjustment needs to be made to the position of the gun, which are radioed to the gun line.

"The howitzers have to get laid on an azimuth of fire and it's done by trigonometry," Storrud said. "Once that's done, then they pick a firing point. After the firing point is done, then they can start getting missions."

As a reserve unit, Q Battery only has an opportunity to fire live rounds a few times out of the year. Because of this, these types of exercises are crucial in keeping the Marines proficient at their craft.

"You always learn something new every time you go out," said Lance Cpl. Ulises Araiza, Q Battery 5/14 cannoneer. "Being in the reserves as a cannoneer, you don't get as much experience as active duty does."

This three-day field-operation in Guernsey came with its challenges for Q Battery. Not only was a new staff directing operations, but many of the reservists were doing jobs they hadn't done before.

"We put new guys in new places," Storrud said. "Anytime you put someone new in a new position or a new billet, you degrade the quality. It wasn't due to the Marines, but due to the new jobs. We can't continue to keep our top dogs in the same positions. You have to rotate guys through so we get a wealth of knowledge."

Although the exercise wasn't as clean as Q Battery would have liked, a lot of insight came out of the three-day field-op.

"I thought some of the pluses were we actually came together as a staff and we're now implementing new procedures for drill dates for when we go out to the field and shoot artillery," Storrud said. "I think it was a good thing that we didn't have the best field-op because we learned as a battery what some of our downfalls were and where we can improve and are now putting in procedures for that."

One of the staff members that helps train the reservists, Lance Cpl. Daniil Kravchuk, Q Battery 5/14 towed artillery systems technician, comes from the Fleet and brings experience and knowledge to the reserve battery. As a 'gun doc,' he is able to give valuable training to reservists whose job is to maintain the Howitzer.

"Coming out here, I like to think I bring experience here that other individuals don't have," Kravchuk said. "I am able to pass that down to the reserve artillery mechanics and teach them and give them real world scenarios they can use and learn from."

Active duty Marines like Kravchuk help to train the reservists and keep them up to speed with what is expected from a Marine artillery battery. Although Q Battery was met with challenges during the exercise, it was apparent these Marines are motivated warriors.

"They are dedicated hard working Marines and they want to be there," said Kravchuk. "The guys out there do go the extra mile, they care about their job. We have fantastic chiefs and fantastic cannoneers. Quebec Battery is dedicated."

Quebec Battery is a motivated, hardworking group of Marines. Despite facing hardships during the exercise due to new positions within the battery and limited time conducting live-fire exercises, the Marines came together and showed they can bring the fight to the enemy anytime, anywhere.

Warrior's particpate in adaptive sports camp

by Christina Carmen Crea
Northwest Guardian

8/26/2015 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Commander Col. Daniel S. Morgan calls participants of the JBLM Warrior Care Adaptive Sports Camp the "toughest warriors out there."

"I can't think of a better reason to come together and overcome adversity," Morgan said. "The people out here today are warriors...we asked them to do things in battle that might wound themselves and they had no fear. And today, they are out here being competitive -- they don't want free chicken, they're here to win. They have overcame things most people haven't."

The Warrior Care Camp runs August 25-28 here and is a partnership between the Air Force Wounded Warrior program, Madigan Army Medical Center and the Warrior Transition Battalion supported by the Western Regional Medical Command, and JBLM's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation

The event is an opportunity for all wounded, ill and injured service members to engage in friendly competition. Wounded Warriors from JBLM and veterans from the northwest region were invited to participate in the camp events on McChord Field and on Lewis Main.

The events include cycling on McChord Field's Perimeter Road and wheelchair basketball and seated volleyball at the McChord Fitness Center. There is also swimming at Soldiers Field House, archery and air rifle shooting at the MWR tent, and track and field at Cowan and Memorial Stadiums, all on Lewis Main.

Sixty percent of the participants have combat-related injuries and 40 percent have noncombat related injuries. Some participants are experienced adaptive sport athletes, while others are experiencing a Warrior Care Camp for the first time.

Marsha Gonzales, deputy chief of the Air Force Personnel Warrior and Survivor Care Division, said it's the first time they've been to JBLM.

"We picked the right location to support our wounded Airmen and we hope to make this an annual event here in the northwest region," Gonzales said. "There are 90 Air Force and 35 Army participants here for this event."

Technical Sergeant Ryan Pinney, who was in the Air Force from 2000-2014, said adaptive sports has "given him another mission in life."

"This is my second year being involved, and this has opened my eyes and given me another mission because when we get hurt, we lose our missions," Pinney said. "I'm a cyclist doing that, I realized I could still do something despite my spinal cord injury."

Pinney said he feels a real sense of community at these events.

"You know you can call the people you meet here whenever you need to and we share similar injuries and problems in life," Pinney said. "When I got my injury, I wondered 'How am I going to be able to care for my wife now?' -- but there are other people who have been through it and it has helped strengthen my recovery."

Pinney has won several gold medals in cycling in other competitions and plans to keep competing.

It was Sgt. Cherry Maurice's first time competing in a cycling event.

"I think adaptive sports is inspirational," Maurice said. "I saw a friend do this and thought, 'If they can do it, so can I. I also love the challenge of it...they said I would never walk again, but here I am, surrounded by people motivating and pushing me no matter what my injuries are."

Maurice has paralysis from her lower back to her feet after wear and tear on her body from two Afghanistan tours. Once she finished her first race today, she was laughing, smiling and said she was having a lot of fun.

Maurice is currently still on active duty in the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Carson, Colo., and has served since 2011.

Senior Airman Griselda Calderon, who served from 2011-2014, said it's "nice to be able to express yourself and not be an outcast here."

"This is my first time doing this, and I've become friends with these people...they are closer than family," Calderon said. "They're more helpful than family because your family often times want the old you back...but you're not the same person after a serious injury."

Calderon was hit by a drunken driver and said it's hard to walk, and she suffers memory loss, too, and is almost always in pain.

"I have good days and I have bad days...but I do feel lucky to be alive," Calderon said.

Staff Sgt. Carlos Delgado, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, who is a JBLM volunteer at the event, said he wanted to use his 26-day leave wisely.

"When I was in Hawaii as a flight medic, I picked up a lot of wounded Soldiers, and because I've seen so much of that, I wanted to come here and see Soldiers who were getting back on their feet and getting on with their life," Delgado said. "Although I don't know these Soldiers prior to this, it gives me hope. I also have a brother with Down syndrome, so even before I was a medic, I knew how to be patient. I think everyone should be treated with equality no matter what disability they have."

New Horizons medical personnel provide emergency assistance in mass casualty

by Capt. David Murphy
1st Combat Camera Squadron

8/21/2015 - TRUJILLO, Honduras  -- U.S. Air Force medical personnel treated mass causality incident victims at the Dr. Salvador Parades Hospital in Trujillo, Honduras, Aug. 10, 2015.

The incident involved 14 Honduran army soldiers from the 15th Battalion who were injured in an explosion at their base said a Honduran army official.

The medical personnel, who were in country to provide support for the New Horizons Honduras 2015 training exercise, performed surgery on one injured soldiers and treated 10 others. One of the soldiers died on the scene while two others, who had injuries that couldn't be treated locally, were flown to a hospital in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

The U.S. Air Force Airmen who responded to the incident were Maj. Ryan Jones, 56th Medical Operations Squadron general surgeon out of Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Maj. Frederick Grois, 779th Medical Operations Squadron anesthesiologist out of Joint Base Andrews, Md., and Maj. Chol Kim, 88th Aerospace Medical Squadron physician assistant out Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

"The patient who appeared to be the most severe was triaged and taken to the operating room and received an exploratory laparotomy and as well as an exploration of the femoral vessel," said Jones.

The medical team, which had recently ended regular work at the hospital and were waiting to head back to the U.S., performed more than 100 surgeries, both routine and emergency, on local Hondurans throughout the duration of the New Horizons exercise.

"We do a head to toe examination, evaluation of the patient, in doing this we are trying to decipher who is the most critical patient, who needs the attention first," said Jones, "it needs to be done quickly, but it also needs to be complete. This differs from seeing someone in the clinic where patients are being referred and you are able to do a good work up and diagnose the problem and schedule the surgery electively, for a time that works best for the patient and the doctor. We approach it a little differently... but [during] triaging we do a complete physical exam."

The exact cause of the incident is still under investigation at this time.

New Horizons was launched in the 1980s and is an annual joint humanitarian assistance exercise that U.S. Southern Command conducts with a partner nation in Central America, South America or the Caribbean. The exercise improves joint training readiness of U.S. and partner nation civil engineers, medical professionals and support personnel through humanitarian assistance activities.

Women’s Equality Day Commemorates History, Bridges Future Leaders

By Amaani Lyle DoD News Features, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, August 26, 2015 — Today, Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the ratification of the 95th anniversary of the 19th Amendment -- which solidified women’s voting rights -- but it also coincides with current milestones for women in service, a Pentagon official said in an Aug. 24 DoD News interview.

Officer and Enlisted Personnel Management Director Juliet Beyler, who oversees department-wide policies that include promotions, assignments, separations, force management, and awards and decorations, said casting a wider net for talent and diversity across the force is critical.

“Remembrance and recognition of the 19th Amendment serves as a reminder of the need for gender equality,” Beyler said. “Keeping our eye on it will only help ensure that our women continue to have opportunities to go as far as their talents will take them.”

Women in Service Review

As the Defense Department primes to announce its Women in Service Review final integration decisions for remaining closed positions and any potentially approved exceptions to policy in January 2016, once-prohibited occupations in armor, artillery, infantry and special operations can emerge as unprecedented career options for women, who comprise at least 14 percent of the military, she said.

The Women in Service Review stems from the 2013 decision by former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to rescind the 1994 direct ground combat definition and assignment rule, Beyler explained, and, since 2013, the DoD has worked closely with the services to implement the decision which, to date, has opened more than 110,000 positions to women. 

The move signifies sweeping progress from less than a century ago, an era that predated women’s voting rights and spurred advocates such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Ida B. Wells to dedicate decades of effort to affect equality.

But Beyler noted progression often builds upon previous strides, and the 19th Amendment is no exception.

Building on Achievements

“Hopefully, the women in uniform today will continue to build on those achievements and future leaders will continue to look to the past for lessons learned,” she said. “By removing those old, outdated, gender-based barriers to service [we can] strengthen the total force and enable us to select the best service members for the job.”

The DoD, Beyler added, has also rolled out other initiatives to help service members with work-life balance, including the career intermission program and the recent Navy announcement of extended maternity leave.

Beyler recounted that one of her roles as joint officer policy oversight manager entails the exploration of factors that help develop senior leaders in a modern force.

“We need to mature our thinking; we need joint-qualified acquisition officers, cyber officers, logistics and intelligence officers,” Beyler said, noting that the breadth of skills can only improve the joint force.

Beyler said her decision to join the Marine Corps at age 17 gave her the sense of purpose, discipline and direction she would carry throughout her career and higher education endeavors.

Army Ranger School Graduates

And notably, from both a policy and personal perspective, Beyler said the two recent Army Ranger school graduates represent a major milestone for women in uniform.

“It’s a significant step for the Army because we’re leading up to the final recommendations … and it’s part of the larger effort to validate the standards for all of our occupations but I think we just cannot ignore that milestone we saw last week.”

The director expressed personal pride in the Army’s retention of its high Ranger School standards and conveyed confidence that the women graduates met the rigors of the course. “Nobody associated with the effort -- women or men -- wanted to see a standard reduced, so I think we’re all very proud of their achievement.”

With some 30 years of military and civilian experience under her belt, Beyler shared that a multitude of role models inspired her drive, but perhaps her most significant influences were also the most genuine and successful not in spite of their personalities, but because of them.

“They knew who they were and they knew what they wanted to do,” she said. “When I was a young corporal and sergeant, I thought that in order to succeed I had to be like everybody else.”

Over time, however, Beyler said she not only learned that being herself held the key to her long-term success, but the landscape is evolving, which offers a much broader spectrum of choices for women to do what they love as they serve.

Don’t Fear Taking Risks

“It’s important not to be afraid to take risks,” Beyler said. “It’s good to have a career plan … but don’t be so wedded to your plan that you miss an opportunity that may open three or four more doors down the road.”

Ultimately, Beyler asserts that diversity and inclusion extend far beyond gender, race or ethnicity.

“For me it’s broader than that -- it’s diversity of thought, ability, background, language, culture and all of those things,” she said. “Having people with diverse backgrounds -- not just personal backgrounds, but experiences -- will give us that strategic advantage as we continue to try and maintain a high state of readiness.”