Thursday, August 27, 2015

Rickenbacker ANGB hosts Jake Sprowl as Pilot for a Day

by Airman Ashley Williams
121st Air Refueling Wing

8/26/2015 - RICKENBACKER AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ohio -- The 121st Air Refueling Wing hosted Jake Sprowl, a 12-year-old from Springfield, Ohio, as Pilot for a Day Aug. 12, at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, Ohio.

The Pilot for a Day program offers youth with chronic or life threatening illnesses the opportunity to spend time with Airmen and enjoy a day of military experiences.

"It was an honor to swear in Jake as our pilot for the day," said Col. Douglas Pennington, commander of the 121st Operations Group. "It was great to see his face light up as he stood on stage and took the 'Oath of Fun' in front of everyone. You could see that he was ready to take on his role as pilot for the day and we were excited to have him here."

Sprowl, who suffers from Asperger's and Tourette's syndrome, spent the day touring the base and learning about the missions of various squadrons.

The day included a pre-flight briefing, a tour of an Air Force KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft, a visit to the fire department and a ride in a fire truck, a brief about emergency management procedures and equipment, and time spent in the security forces squadron.

"Having the opportunity to spend the day with Jake was a reward," said Tech. Sgt. Mark Perkins, a boom operator with the 121st Air Refueling Wing. "We often forget how fortunate we are to do what we do every day, so to see Jake come in and be so excited about our jobs made it a fun day for everyone."

Sprowl also enjoyed a lunch with the Airmen in a tanker static display inside a hangar.

"The Pilot for a Day program for Jake and our family meant that Jake got to feel normal and be included in everything," said Crystal Sprowl, Jake's mother. "He felt like he fit in."

Sentry Eagle 2015 caps a busy summer for 173rd FW

by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

8/20/2015 - KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore -- More than 40 fighter aircraft and two tankers visited Kingsley Field for a multi-force exercise July 30-Aug. 2 hosted by the 173rd Fighter Wing.

Sentry Eagle 2015 marked a nearly 30-year-span for the exercise featuring dissimilar air combat techniques among fighter airframes.

The exercise drew units from as far away as South Carolina and included units from Arizona, Texas, and California and aircraft from U.S. Naval Air Station Lemoore.

"Sentry Eagle 2015 was a huge tactical success for all of the participating units, preparing them for the battlefield we may encounter in the future," said Maj. Victor Knill, the assistant project officer for the exercise.

"[Among the various scenarios,] units faced-up against an outnumbered, realistic enemy air threat," said Knill. "Additionally they practiced defensive counter-air, or protecting something from an enemy air strike, and offensive counter-air where they escorted a strike force to eliminate a defended target."

Bringing the exercise to fruition required the fuel shop to pump more than 1 million gallons of fuel, the maintenance group to coordinate ramp space for all the visiting aircraft, and the 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron to orchestrate launch and recovery of 1,128 arrivals and departures for the four days of Sentry Eagle.

"That is close to triple our normal operating tempo," said Doug Cunningham, the air traffic manager.

In order to accommodate this high traffic time the tower brought in extra people as did many base organizations. Fuels added an entire extra shift to help cover everything from fueling more than 50 aircraft to receiving 12-14 delivery tankers daily to maintain enough fuel for another day of flying.

Master Sgt. Eddie Gibson, the fuels shop superintendent, reports receiving and delivering 1.3 million gallons of fuel for the exercise.

Additionally, parking for all of the visiting aircraft takes precise planning. Maintenance troops created an alternate pattern utilizing closer spacing, stored a number of resident Kingsley jets that didn't fly in the exercise, and worked closely with operations to coordinate traffic flow, .said Master Sgt. Bryan Johnson, the lead maintenance expediter for Sentry Eagle.

"Setting up the parking is the most difficult part." said Johnson. "You have to get out and physically measure the spaces; we are literally down to the foot for parking these aircraft."

Another feature of the exercise since its inception 30 years ago is an open house. On Saturday the public was welcomed to the base for most of the day to observe the large number of aircraft launching and departing and a festival-like atmosphere surrounding the flight line.

"We had static displays, a climbing wall, and some really interactive displays set up for the community." said Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar, 173rd FW Public Affairs manager. "We estimated 10 thousand people visited the base for the open house."

Organizers hope to host the next Sentry Eagle in 2017, but with sequestration and budget cuts prevalent around the Department of Defense they say that they will have more certainty as that time draws closer.

Winter clothing exchange program kicks off in September

by Senior Airman Tammie Ramsouer
JBER Public Affairs

8/27/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- As the days get shorter and colder, children need to start bundling up. For some, their winter jackets, gloves and boots don't quite fit anymore.

Fortunately, the Army Community Service Center on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson offers the "Koats for Kids" program to service members and their families. The annual event is an opportunity for the JBER community to receive and exchange winter clothing before the seasonal change.

"This program has been offered to all [service] members and their families for about 11 years now on the installation," said Anthea Acosta, Army Community Service Center relocation readiness program manager. "We receive anywhere from infant to adult winter clothing in our donation boxes, so even single service members can use this program if they need it."

The program collects any winter clothing in good condition from September to October. The Army Community Service Center encourages everyone to go through closets and find unneeded winter items to donate.

"This program is used for the families that really can't afford to buy their children new winter clothing," Acosta said.

Donation boxes are placed throughout the installation including the commissary, Child Development Centers, School Age Programs and at the 673d Medical Group hospital. This allows the parents to donate while they are out shopping at the commissary or dropping off their children at the CDCs.

"Sometimes, we have to pick up the donated items every day because our boxes get so full, so fast," Acosta said. "The boxes at the CDCs are always the most popular donation boxes, because parents are always cleaning out their closets; I will normally get a call from the faculty asking me to come pick up the items."

Once donations are picked up, they are sorted by size and type of clothing for distribution during October.

"We don't mind if people want to exchange for other items while they are donating at the boxes; it is all free and going to a good cause," Acosta said. "I have children, and I know it is hard trying to save money when they need new winter gear."

"Here at the Talkeetna Child Development Center, we have parents [who] donate to the 'Koats for Kids' and we have parents who definitely need it," said Lisa Aguilar, 673d Force Support Squadron education and training technician at the Talkeetna CDC. "If we can help them, why not donate our extra winter gear that we know will not be used and give it someone who can use it?"

Nicole Collins, Ursa Major Parent-Teacher Association vice president, said she is glad this program is on base to help her and those in her community.

"I used the program because it helps all families," Collins said. "Let's face it, kids' winter gear isn't cheap. This program helps those who might need a little support. I see several kids come to school with either no winter gear or little spring jackets every year. This program can help those children."

The Army Community Service Center will be distributing differently this year. Hours will be during both duty and off-duty hours to accommodate working families.

"I will be putting the clothing out on the tables until we run out," Acosta said. "No volunteers will be watching the distribution tables, but we do ask that people only take what they need so another [person] in need can have [the] opportunity to provide for their family as well."

"It is a great program, and I do believe it helps families here on JBER," Collins said. "I myself use the program and will continue to use it as long as they have it."

For more information about the "Koats for Kids" program, contact the Army Community Service Center at 384-1518.

JSTARS hosts large joint-force exercise: integrates with Navy's P-8A for simulated war at sea

by Senior Master Sgt. Roger Parsons
116th Air Control Wing

8/27/2015 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The Georgia Air National Guard's 116th Air Control Wing hosted the eighth annual Boars Nest Large Force Exercise bringing together more than 20 joint-force units and 55 different aircraft for aircrew training in a realistic threat environment, August 18-20.

Boars Nest provided the unique opportunity for aircrews from the 116th ACW; flying the Air Force E-8C Joint STARS aircraft, a manned, battle management, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform, to integrate with the Navy's newest marine patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon from Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing ELEVEN out of Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida.

One of the chief planners for the exercise, Capt. Clayton Gibbs, an air battle manager with the 116th Air Control Wing, served as a liaison officer at the exercise air operation center based at The Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Georgia.

"This exercise showed that the JSTARS manned platform and the P-8 provided an amazing capability to detect, locate and classify maritime targets when the two aircraft are linked in together working cooperatively," said Gibbs.

Broadening the integration between the ANG and naval air assets, two JSTARS liaison officers flew missions aboard the P-8, a first for the 116th ACW.

"I learned a lot of very useful information and was able to share a lot of information while flying with the P-8 Poseidon crew," said Lt. Col. Victor Ellis, liaison officer for the exercise from the 116th ACW.

"During the Boars Nest simulated war at sea, we used the complementary strengths of JSTARS and the P-8 to positively identify maritime vessels over a large area of responsibility and determine whether they were friendly, enemy, or neutral." said Ellis. "Our timeline to successfully interdict enemy maritime targets was significantly shortened using our collective capability."

Adding another joint aspect to the maritime portion of the exercise, Marine Aircraft Group 31, flying F/A-18 Hornets out of Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station, South Carolina acted as mission commander for all JSTARS controlled maritime strike packages.

"We don't normally train with the F-18's so this was another highlight for us," said Gibbs.

In all, this year's Boars Nest allowed the 116th ACW to bring together joint assets including fifth-generation Air Force F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft for a large force exercise in keeping with one of the wing's long-term goals said Gibbs.

"Our long-term goal is to tap into on-going exercises and resources available at The Air Dominance Center and take it to the next level with JSTARS integration," said Gibbs. "Traditionally when a unit comes to The Air Dominance Center it's for more of an air-to-air type of environment. With exercises like Boars Nest, we bring the air-to-ground perspective and are able to do it more economically by tagging onto an existing exercise."

Carpathian Summer's first week closes on high spirits

by Senior Airman Timothy Moore
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

8/26/2015 - OTOPENI AIR BASE, Romania  -- Spirits were high among the participants of exercise Carpathian Summer as the first week came to a close Aug. 20, at Otopeni Air Base, Romania.

The exercise, which was designed to increase readiness and interoperability between the U.S. Air Force and Romanian air force, was not the first time the allies have trained together and had already shown the progress prior exercises had produced.

In previous exercises with the 37th Airlift Squadron, Romanian pilots aided the U.S. pilots by providing intelligence about the area and the weather they would be flying in for planning purposes. For Carpathian Summer, the Romanian pilots flew alongside their partners in formations made up of U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules and Romanian air force C-27J Spartan aircraft.

"It's not only a matter of how you plan or execute a mission," said Romanian air force Lt. Col. Emil Tecuceanu, 902nd Transport and Reconnaissance Squadron commander and Carpathian Summer director. "Today, we are flying in a peaceful environment. Tomorrow, we could fight together, and we have to know each other's techniques in order to be successful in the mission. This is the main objective of such exercises."

The first week of the two-week long off-station training exercise, though suffering from minor setbacks due to weather, produced favorable results as pilots, loadmasters, maintenance personnel and other supporting members conducted training which increased their proficiency as well as allowed them a view at the Romanian forces' operations.

"It's been fantastic," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Lindsey Kinsinger, Carpathian Summer mission commander. "The Romanians are extremely helpful. They have been supporting all of our requests, and they're always here to learn from us and give us feedback we need to improve our own training."

Approximately 80 personnel and three C-130Js spent the first week working on a multitude of training events.

U.S. Air Force pilots conducted low-level, day and night flying operations, dropping both cargo and personnel. Thus, loadmasters were able to complete training involving loading and dropping airborne deliveries that allows them to support real-world contingencies. Romanian paratroopers also practiced both freefall and static line airborne operations alongside their U.S. counterparts, further increasing their infiltration capabilities.

The 37th AS swapped out personnel on Aug. 21 to allow for more individuals to experience working alongside their NATO allies, and with the kinks ironed out during the first week, these personnel and their Romanian counterparts stood the have the chance to get even more value for the remainder of the exercise.

"My favorite part is when I see my guys and all the squadrons involved flying and executing missions," Tecuceanu said. "This is the most exciting part of an exercise, as a squadron commander, when you see your guys accomplishing the mission together with your partners."

Tecuceanu said he looks forward to how the two forces will evolve while training and conducting missions together in the future

US Sailors, Marines Enhance Regional Cooperation During CARAT Thailand 2015

From Task Force 73 Public Affairs

SATTAHIP NAVAL BASE, Thailand (NNS) -- The 21st annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the Royal Thai Armed Forces began Aug. 27 in the vicinity of Sattahip Naval Base.

The Thailand phase of CARAT 2015 consists of eight days of shore-based and at-sea training events, through Sept. 3, designed to address shared maritime security concerns, build relationships, and enhance interoperability among participating forces.

"CARAT Thailand continues to be a great venue to promote regional security cooperation," said Rear Adm. Charlie Williams, commander, Task Force 73. "Twenty-one years of CARAT brings complexity and sophistication to this exercise, which allows our navies to refine tactics and enhance readiness to meet emerging maritime challenges."

CARAT is a series of bilateral naval exercises between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

More than 1,000 U.S. military members will participate in CARAT Thailand alongside their counterparts from the Royal Thai Armed Services. The exercise will feature amphibious landings, surface warfare drills, visit, board, search and seizure demonstrations, maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations, coastal riverine training, diving and salvage operations, and community outreach engagements by U.S. Navy Seabees and the U.S. 7th Fleet Band.

While CARAT Thailand focuses on legacy maritime security training, this year's exercise will have increased emphasis on Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA-DR), search and rescue, and community outreach activities.

After more than two decades of annual CARAT training engagements between U.S. and Thai armed forces, the exercise reflects the maturity of regional defense cooperation between the two nations.

"CARAT 2015 will allow our forces to continue enhancing our interoperability while addressing shared maritime security priorities," said Capt. H.B. Le, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7. "The exercise demonstrates our commitment to our regional partnerships and stability and security in the Asia-Pacific."

American units participating in the exercise include the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42), a P-3C Orion, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5, Coastal Riverine Group 1, Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 5 and U.S. Marines assigned to the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Commander, Task Force 73 and Destroyer Squadron 7 staff conduct advanced planning, organize resources and directly support the execution of maritime exercises such as the bilateral CARAT series, the Naval Engagement Activity with Vietnam, and the multilateral Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

USS Frank Cable Holds Change of Command

From USS Frank Cable Public Affairs

POLARIS POINT, Guam (NNS) -- The submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) held a change of command ceremony pierside on Polaris Point, Aug. 26.

In front of Frank Cable crew, dignitaries, commanding officers, family and friends, Capt. Andrew St. John relieved Capt. Mark Benjamin as Frank Cable's commanding officer during a change of command ceremony held on the pier.

Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer, commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet, was the guest speaker at the ceremony where he congratulated Benjamin and the crew of Frank Cable on a job well done.

"Mark, you and your team, which is a hybrid crew of civilian mariners and Sailors, can be justifiably proud of all they have accomplished together," said Sawyer. "To all of the men and women of Frank Cable, please accept my profound gratitude for everything you do day in and day out. Everything you do matters and helps form the most formidable Navy in the world."

Sawyer presented the Legion of Merit award to Benjamin for his accomplishments during his time as commanding officer.

During Benjamin's tenure as commanding officer, the ship completed more than 522 thousand man-days in support of submarines and surface vessels in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility and earned numerous awards including the Battle Efficiency Award.

"I am so proud of this crew. When I took command, I tasked them with making tenders more relevant while increasing our repair capacity," said Benjamin. "They have done exactly that. Frank Cable has restored capabilities onboard that were lost and we have become more relevant to the Navy. We are doing things now that haven't been done since our fathers and grandfathers were on these ships."

Benjamin will report to Commander, Submarine Group 7 as chief of staff in Yokosuka, Japan.

St. John, a native of Texas, received his commission in 1991 after graduating from Rice University with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology. He most recently served as the chief of staff for Joint Interagency Task Force West, the executive agent for DoD counter-narcotic efforts within U.S. Pacific Command.

St. John said he is excited to command Frank Cable, and hopes to exemplify the significance of the Navy's submarine tender force during his time aboard.

"Across these decks, have walked some of the giants in the United States Navy and the crew assembled before us today is no less impressive, added St. John. "The future of Frank Cable is bright and you, her crew, should be proud of all your accomplishments in making Frank Cable a true warship that fixes warships."

Frank Cable, forward-deployed to the island of Guam, conducts maintenance and support of submarines and surface vessels deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

Women's Equality Day: Ladies fueling the fight

by Senior Airman Kate Thornton
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

8/26/2015 - RAF MILDENHALL, England  -- It's been 95 years since the 19th Amendment to the U.S. constitution was ratified, granting women the right to vote, and Aug. 26 remains a day of celebration as Women's Equality Day.

Nearly a century later, some women continue to fuel their equality by refueling planes 30,000 feet in the air.

Female boom operators from the 351st Air Refueling Squadron make an impact on current training and operations all over the world almost every day - just like their male counterparts.

"(Being in a male dominant career) isn't anything I notice, because I look around and my only thought is 'these are the people I work with,'" said Senior Airman Amy Lizauckas, 351st ARS boom operator.

Staff Sgt. Catherine Norcom, 351st ARS instructor boom operator, explained how this is a day to celebrate coming a long way from where women were all those decades ago. She celebrates by wearing her flight suit with pride.

"I think it's important that people see women in flight suits and uniform, because there are so few of us," said Norcom. "It really sets an example."

The 351st ARS has four female boom operators out of the 36 total assigned, but they agree that everyone is held to the same standard.

"When we're being evaluated, they're not basing it off our gender, they're basing it off our performance," said Norcom.

"I think you just go to work, do your job and don't even have to think about it," Lizauckas added.

Although they're treated equally, there are some situations they find themselves in that males don't even think about. Norcom and Lizauckas listed things they, and other female booms, have had to worry about at some point in their careers:

"What do I do with my flight suit when I use the bathroom?"

"Is the toilet working on the jet?"

"Is there toilet paper on the jet?"

"Can I wear an underwire bra or will it melt to my body in the event of a fire?"

The last one received the reply of "If your bra is melting to your body, the material wouldn't save you anyway."

They're small issues and easy to work around according to the ladies, but they both agree that more women in the career field would be helpful for mentoring young female Airmen and answering questions that males might not have the answer to.

"I think it's strange that it's male dominated, because there's nothing specifically masculine about this job," Lizauckas said.

Women have progressed and are still striving not to be better than men, but to be seen as equal human beings. With all the advances in politics, military, science and education, there is still some concern as to whether or not women are truly equal. The female boom operators seem to think so.

"I'm an equal part of the aircrew when I fly and I'm an equal part of the squadron when I come to work every day," said Norcom.

The successful passage of the 19th Amendment marked a crucial milestone in the fight for women's equality in the U.S., and so did the designation of Aug. 26 as Women's Equality Day in remembrance of women's suffrage and the continuing efforts toward women's equality in the U.S.

New 3rd AF commander charts path to organizational success

by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane
U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

8/27/2015 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- In 9th grade he made up his mind.

Lt. Gen. Timothy M. Ray, 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force commander, had dreams of flying his whole life and, at the end of his freshman year of high school, determined the Air Force Academy would make his dream a reality.

Thirty years after graduating from the Academy and more than 4,000 hours in seven military aircraft, Ray's focus has shifted to that of a strategic leader and commander of operational air forces in Europe and Africa.

The general outlined his priorities and shared his vision for the future of the 3rd AF and 17th EAF during an interview here Aug. 7.

"It's not about what you are here to do, but why you are here to do it," he stressed. "it's all about producing American Airpower and we all have a key role in that.  We are not just here to execute a flying schedule or pull our shift. We are here to produce American airpower and that takes American Airmen and the unique Airman's culture.  Europe is a very strategic place at an important time in history, and American airpower will be the difference between success and failure for our nation and our joint and combined team. What we are doing makes a difference in the world."

Ray explained that the U.S. Air Force is able to respond quickly to support U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Central Command priorities because of the forces stationed here.

"We can make an immediate impact for peace and stability in these areas," Ray explained. "It's different than being in the States. Our presence and our capabilities directly supports two combatant commanders in executing the mission we have right here in front of us every day."

He said that while the command supports many contingency operations, he still has an obligation to ensure the Airmen in his command are organized, trained and equipped properly.

"We have to keep a very careful balance between operational missions and training, and we have to make sure that balance is correct," Ray said.

He said whether it's an operational mission or a training exercise, leaders set the tone for success in any unit.

"Leaders strike a vision for the future and chart the course for change," Ray said. "My job is to lead leaders and set the culture and the climate."

The success of an organization can be traced back to the climate a commander has fostered. Ray hopes to foster a climate that values dignity, respect and a balance of work and family. He and his wife have been married for 28 years and have four children.

He said his family's support has been invaluable throughout his career.

"When you can choose between work and family, choose your family," Ray said, "because there will be times where you can't choose, and your family needs to know when those times are. The peace and happiness you get with your family when you are out of the military is worth 10 times more than any rank you will ever make."

The DeLand, Fla., native said that after pride in his family, and being an American Airman he takes great pride in airpower and the faith he has in his peers and fellow Airmen.

"The people I work with are just incredible," Ray said. "It is absolutely fascinating to be working the operational issues in the strategic landscape of Europe and Africa with them. I can't think of a more exciting place in the world to be than right here with this team. This is the best job in the U.S. Air Force right now."