Thursday, September 03, 2015

Munitions bunkers become rubble, save AF $3.5 million

by Airman 1st Class Mackenzie Richardson
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

9/2/2015 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Members of the 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron and the 92nd Contracting Squadron are working toward an Air Force goal of reducing our building footprint by demolishing 1950s-era munitions bunkers here and saving the Air Force approximately $3.5 million in the process.

The project, originally a group of five separate projects estimated at a cost of $6.5 million, was consolidated into one demolition project saving the United States government approximately $3.5 million, also supporting the Air Force's "Make Every Dollar Count" campaign.

"One of the reasons for this project is to help meet the Air Force's goal of removing 20 percent of our building footprint by the year 2020," said Jay Logan, 92nd CES project manager.

The project is scheduled to take a year to complete, and is currently in phase two, or the physical demolition. Phase three, which includes closing out the contract and final submittals, is scheduled to begin in December and be completed in April 2016. Phase one began in the summer of 2014.

"At first we thought it would be quite expensive on a square-foot basis to remove these reinforced concrete structures," Logan said. "Fortunately with some help from the contracting office packaging this project, we were able to get a great bid from a contractor well experienced in this type of demolition."

Fairchild Air Force Base was previously part of Strategic Air Command and utilized these bunkers in storing munitions as part of the mission. More than 60 years later, the majority of the original buildings are being demolished, recycled or reused. The project will demolish 33 munitions storage bunkers and portions of four different roads throughout the grounds.

The 92nd CES and CONS are working closely with the contractor to remove these 1950s munitions bunkers that are no longer needed. Approximately 15 to 20 people are working on the site daily, moving soil, recycling rebar and removing potentially dangerous materials.

"Contractors are an extremely important asset to Fairchild," said Staff Sgt. Justin Hayes, 92nd CONS contracting officer. "Not only does contracting for these efforts allow us to seek this outside expertise and free up man-hours, but it also allows us the opportunity to support small businesses with these contracts.  Ultimately this helps to improve the local economy and creates strong relationships between the Air Force and our community."

Once the land has been cleared and the extra soil removed, the area will be shrunken down. Discussion on the use of the land after the project is complete is still in the beginning stages.

Where the rubber meets the road

by Master Sgt. Todd Wivell
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

8/31/2015 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- A combat offload process is defined as an expedited way to move materials into an austere location that is either being built up, lacks the capability to move certain pallets from the aircraft or to offload quickly in a combat environment.

C-17 pilots across the Air Force are trained on this process and in order to remain proficient on it, practice combat offloads using mock pallets built by aerial port squadrons.

At McChord Field, typically these pallets are built using wood or recycled rubber and hardened plastic material called Rumber.

The 62nd Airlift Wing APS has found a more proficient way of building these combat pallets and their efforts are saving the 62nd Airlift Wing more than $4,400 and 19 man hours per pallet built.

"I was part of the group who built the original wooden pallets back in 2004," said Jason Aven, 62nd APS freight load leader. "Costs were approximately $2,800 per pallet and it would take on average 16-20 man hours for 2 people to build one of these pallets.

"The pallets were being dropped on an average of 15-20 times a month for the last 11 years, but over the last 3-4 years they have been falling apart and we needed to come up with another idea."

It would take on average 4-6 hours of labor to rebuild the wooden combat pallets and even then when they were being dropped out of the back of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft they were leaving behind broken boards, chunks of wood, nails and other materials on the taxiway, otherwise known as foreign object debris.

"We knew we needed a solution and researched looking for something other than wood," said Aven. "We found a company that built combat pallets to Air Force specifications using Rumber, a combination of recycled rubber and hardened plastic material.

"They were somewhat durable but more expensive, costing the Air Force $5,500 per pallet and would take 30 minutes of man power to secure to a platform.

The 62d APS purchased four of these Rumber pallets but accordingly to Aven after an average of 40-50 drops, they began to notice cracks in the center of these pallets.

It was back to the drawing board for Aven and his team.

It was David Faires, 62nd APS resource manager and Tony Bamba, 62nd APS ramp foreman who came up with the current idea that is saving the government money and man hours.

Faires knew of a local rock quarry, Corliss Resources, that had worn out tires from their earth movers that they needed to get rid of and could no longer use.

"Corliss Resources is run by Tim and Scott Corliss and I go to church with Tim," said Faires. "We began to talk about our issue here at McChord with these combat pallets and it was through these talks that we came up with the idea of using these earth mover tires."

Combat offload pallets have to weigh between 900 and 1,200 pounds and the tires the quarry provides weigh between 1,000 and 1,100 pounds each, exactly what the 62nd APS was looking for.

"The tires are given freely to McChord and the costs for the pallet materials to make these work is only $156 per platform," said Aven. "Finally, these new pallets can be ready for dropping within 90 minutes of delivery.

"The motto of 62nd APS is 'whatever it takes,' and that is what has kept us moving forward with making the needed changes to these pallets."

In total the 62nd APS plans on replacing all of their wooden and Rumber pallets with these new earth mover tires and in all they will have 17 of them in stock when finished.

"This last generation pallet is able to exceed all restraint requirements for airlift, will hold up in weather, will not cause FOD on the taxiway and will hold up to the stressors involved with being dropped out of a C-17," said Aven.  "The total costs savings for 17 pallets of $75,000 and manpower hours of 323 hours saved along with a safe airdrop platform that will not fall apart and is easy to load are the culmination of our 62nd APS team working together.

"From the beginning of this project, this small team of aerial porters kept focused, pushing forward and bouncing ideas off each other and we are all very proud of our end result."

The mock pallet product has only been tested and used at McChord Field and meets the requirements set by the AF for what a mock combat pallet needs to be built like for training use only. The product is currently only being used for training purposes and is going through the process approval to be used operationally.

Enlisted Symposium Cultivates NCANG's Most Vital Resource: People

by by Lt. Col. Robert Carver
Joint Force Headquarters, NCANG Public Affairs

8/31/2015 - CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The 145th Airlift Wing held the first unit Enlisted Symposium Aug. 14, at the base recreation center near Charlotte Douglas International Airport headquarters.

The symposium was sponsored by the North Carolina Chiefs Council providing more than 50 Airmen a day of instruction on topics including the Air Force fitness program, career progression and how to write evaluation bullets.

"This is a monumental event," said Chief Master Sgt. Maurice Williams, 145th AW, command chief, referring to the first Enlisted Symposium. "It provides a foundation that will help develop future leaders in the 145th Airlift Wing."

The goal of the Symposium was to emphasize to the next generation of leaders that superior job performance is only one prerequisite for advancement. Just as important is how you represent yourself. To emphasize this, organizers included mock interview boards and advice on how to properly prepare an official Air Force biography.

"We owe it to our young Airmen to set them up for success," said Williams. "If they don't know what they need to do and how they need to do it, then we've done them and our unit a disservice."

The symposium extended beyond just military-related topics. Airmen attending could get lessons in how to handle their personal finances from experts on site. If not handled well, personal finances can often spill over into an Airman's military career with many potential adverse consequences.

"This was a wonderful event and an investment in our future." said Chief Master Sgt. Susan Dietz, 145th Medical Group, superintendent. "Our Airmen deserve to have more resources available to them to plan out their careers and make their goals achievable."

Williams says the Chiefs Council plans to make the symposium an annual event.

A Wingman forged in blood, sweat, tears: New AFGSC commander builds foundation

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

9/3/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.  -- Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, and his wife, Kim, visited Barksdale Air Force Base, Aug. 27-28, to engage with the Airmen who make the 2nd Bomb Wing mission possible.

Hundreds of Airmen across the wing had the opportunity to interact with the command's new leadership team and discuss the mission of providing unparalleled B-52 combat capability and expeditionary combat Airmen.

"I'm going to be the best commander I can for you by providing advice when it's warranted, giving you advocacy, and giving you top cover," Rand said. "I'm not going to get in your way. I'm not going to slow you down. I'm going to always try to represent you with class and dignity -- you deserve that."

Throughout his two-day immersion, the general re-enforced the importance of the global strike mission during briefings with squadron commanders, officers and enlisted Airmen.

"I want to tell you how important your mission is to our Air Force," he said. "What you do at Barksdale is unique to the United States Air Force. No one else in the Air Force can do what Barksdale and Minot do. No one. You need to be aware and you need to understand just how critical you are.

"There are people in this world who don't care about anything else besides staying in power. They don't care about their people. They don't care about their nation. They don't care about anything...but power. And there's only a couple platforms that can keep people like that in check...and one of those is a B-52."

The Air Force leader with 36 years of service explained how Barksdale bombers were recently called upon to do what they do best -- deter and assure -- when a tyrant was attempting to impose his will.

"That B-52 is a beast, isn't it?" he asked a crowd that responded with cheers.

After speaking about the mission, Rand talked about his other two priorities: Airmen and families.

"You are important, and without you we can't get the job done," he said. "My world, our world and the world my grandchildren grow up in is safer because of you. So, DO NOT take for granted what you do and how important it is."

"You are the fuel that propels the engine. This is not a job -- this is a calling. This is not a job -- this is a profession, the profession of arms. I want to thank you for your service, but I want to thank your families for their sacrifice. We recruit Airmen. We retain families."

He also discussed core values and our Air Force's rich heritage.  He  talked about the Airman's Creed, noting that Airmen fresh from basic training have memorized it, but haven't yet experienced its meaning. He charged the NCOs and senior NCOS with making sure our young Airmen understand what the words in the creed mean.

"You are warriors.  Many of you have deployed; some of you have ducked for cover, been shot at and have returned fire; and held the hand of a wounded or dying sailor, soldier, Airman or Marine.  You know that war is tough and ugly. Have you passed that on to your Airmen? You also know what our heritage is and what a proud legacy we come from. You know that some things are worth dying for...and you know what it means to be a good wingman."

The general spoke highly of the term 'wingman' -- a term that should not be taken lightly, a term that represents those who went before us, those who have shed blood, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

"Wingman," he said, is a term "forged in blood, sweat and tears.

Boom simulator cuts dollars, increases training availability

by Staff Sgt. Mary Thach
155th Air Refueling Wing, Public Affairs

9/3/2015 - LINCOLN, Neb -- At 12,000 feet, the airman from the 155th Air Refueling Wing lies on his stomach in the KC-135 Stratotanker's boom pod, his hands tense on the controls.

"Start guiding in the receiving plane," a voice tells him. The airman may feel nervous, but the B-1 Lancer pilot sounds calm as he receives permission to approach. With tracking lights the airman guides the B-1 closer: To within 10 feet, then 5, then 2. To the operator, the extending boom seems to touch its own shadow on the jet nose. It squeezes past the white "fishbone" pattern painted on the nose and nears the refueling socket 15 inches below the pilot's front windshield. The airman hesitates to press the button as the nozzle hovers over the target--his delay proves costly.

A violent burst of wind pitches the bomber's nose toward the tanker as the boom nozzle lunges unsuccessfully at the opening. Instantly the nozzle smacks the windshield, cracking both on the $283 million bomber. The broken glass forms a spider web on both windshields. "Well, I've never seen that before," observes the voice. Gravely damaged, the B-1 zooms from view. The airman's stomach turns, sweat collects on his forehead. This flight is over.

Luckily for the airman, he is aboard the 155th's new $1.1 million Boom Operating Simulator System. Luckily for the squadron, the airman is not a real boom operator and the bomber is not a real plane. The digitally-rendered B-1 Lancer, cracked windshield and all, exists only within the safe confines of the high-definition screens in the boom pod, a product of the computer program whirring nearby.

The voice belongs to instructor Gene Ernst, the man controlling the weather and the B-1 Lancer. Ernst chuckles as the airman gets his bearings and climbs out of the boom pod, which is an exact replica of the one found on the Stratotanker. This mission was purely educational, but don't let that fool you: The system, which debuted in October 2014, means serious improvements - at far lower costs - to airman readiness for the nineteen boom operators assigned to the wing

From his five monitors beside the machine, which measures 22 feet by 21 feet, Ernst, a retired boom operator with 28 years of Air National Guard experience, controls the weather, the planes, even the time of day.

"I can do clouds, fog, pitch and roll. It's as realistic as it can get with current technology," says Ernst.

So realistic, in fact, that some onlookers develop motion sickness when watching the video displays.

The launch makes the Lincoln Air National Guard Base, Nebraska one of 16 in the country to house the BOSS.

"We don't want our base to be the only one without a system," says Ernst. Instead, the 155th can count itself on the cutting edge of efficient and effective training.

Tech. Sgt. Brad Musick, also an instructor, says the wing has a clear plan to take full advantage of the addition. "Once the TOs are updated and the BOSS is certified, it will be used for semi-annual continuation training of emergency procedures and general checklist usage in air refueling."

Speaking to BOSS's strengths, Musick adds, "It benefits the wing by allowing the boom operators to see emergencies we normally wouldn't see. That keeps our skills sharp."

The topography that the airman saw below him was a Google Maps overlay - capable of portraying Nebraska corn fields or foreign windswept deserts with equal accuracy. In early April, the U.S. Air Force deployed Stratotankers to provide fuel for F-15 fighter jets in the Saudi-led coalition against Yemen, according to the Pentagon.

Theoretically, simulator missions could be designed in this bay to mimic the backdrop and challenges unique to that theater. Using safety reports from the field, boom operators could then run test scenarios and prevent repeating the errors of their real-life counterparts were they to find themselves in a similar situation elsewhere.

Not only does the boom pod look real, it sounds real too. A Bose sound system inside the pod mimics the Stratotanker's noise levels while Ernst, from outside, throws curveballs at the operators inside, from blown circuit breakers and wobbly boom equipment to turbulence and aggressive or novice receiver pilots. If an operator listens closely, they can hear the circuit breaker pop.

The machine is fully-automated - capable of recognizing an operator's voice and answering back. It is this feature, says Ernst, which can be programmed to mimic real-life emergency scenarios and provide invaluable experience to airmen without their ever leaving the ground. In years past, staying qualified obligated boom operators to participate in actual flights, the price of which adds up as the operating cost per KC-135 flying hour exceeds $11,000. And even when simulators became available, 155th boom operators had to travel to Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, a trek they made only twice a year.

Ernst said, "It's going to increase the ability and the training of the boom operators. Instead of only going to Scott AFB twice a year, now they can access the simulator any time they want."

And instead of making due with a limited number of training sorties, airmen can perfect their technical skills through repetition on the simulator.

Because of the potential for the system to enhance Guardsmen proficiency, Ernst expects technical order guidance to begin integrating these missions into student training later this summer. Once students complete a mission, an instructor can review with them the entire exchange on computer screens nearby, a sort of play-by-play of the action after the fact.

And while the airman in this scenario cozied up with a B-1, the program can simulate missions with any aircraft the US Air Force refuels, from U.S. Navy planes and NATO aircraft to those involved in secret operations and even the Stratotanker's Multi-Point Refueling System. Previously, as Ernst points out, airmen could only qualify on the system while deployed. In the future, however, they will be able to qualify at their home base and be ready when the time comes to contribute on deployment, when they are called on to fly other squadrons' planes.

According to Ernst, airmen can expect greater integration in the years to come.

"In the future, the 155th will get a pilot simulator, which will sit out in the neighboring bay. Then they can simulate the entire mission. Later, we'll hook it up to receivers off base."

The addition of more training variables means a more varied proficiency for boom operators. The addition of more proficient operators, of course, means more successful missions and increased readiness for our expeditionary Air Force.

102 IW holds first SAPR 5k

by Staff Sgt. Tom Swanson
102nd Intelligence Wing Public Affairs

8/30/2015 - OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. -- Members of the 102nd Intelligence Wing came together on base to participate in the first Sexual Assault Prevention and Response 5K Run/Walk on August 29.

The purpose of the event was to promote awareness of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program.

The 5K course had signs posted along the route that provided statistical information about sexual assault prevention. The purpose of the signs was to teach and bring attention to the magnitude of the problem we face as a military community.

"We want male and female members to know that they can report any incidents of sexual assault to one of the victim advocates here at the 102nd Intelligence Wing." said Senior Master Sgt. John Noland, Wing Victim Advocate.

Victim advocates are non-biased wing personnel who help survivors get the services they need, in addition to assisting them in reporting the incident through restricted or unrestricted reporting channels.

"It is a silent issue that affects many." said 102nd Intelligence Wing Chaplin Derek White. "The more awareness we can raise, the better for our wingmen.

There were over 150 participants and volunteers who enjoyed the afternoon event. Runners registered as individuals and as members of their unit to compete in the monthly Commander's Cup competition. This month the 102nd Medical Group won the Commanders Cup. Individually, the top three women to finish the race were 1st Lt. Elise Galvanin-Ellsworth  of the 102 Medical Group, Tech. Sgt. Mary Hartford of the 101st Intelligence Squadron, and Capt. Suzanne Carson of the 102 Air Operations Group.  The men were led by Tech. Sgt. Aaron Hero of the 202nd Weather Flight, followed by Rank Airman First Class Ian Connell of the 102nd Security Forces Squadron, and Senior Airman Antonio Polson of the 101st Intelligence Squadron.

Currently the wing Victim Advocates are Maj. Michael McGourty, Senior Master Sgt. John Noland, Master Sgt. Tracy Sylvia and Tech. Sgt. Alexis Colonna.  The wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator is Lt. Col. Lisa Ahaesy.

"This is a wonderful way to raise awareness about this issue in the military, and we did it together to raise support," said Chaplain White.

New training brings new opportunity for Security Forces Airmen

by Airman Ashley Williams
121st Air Refueling Wing

8/28/2015 - RICKENBACKER AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ohio -- Airmen with the 121st Security Forces Squadron deployed to Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, Mich. for their annual training Aug.6- 21.

The purpose of this training is to get SFS Airmen ready to deploy overseas at a moment's notice.

"We like to instill in them skills that allow them to accomplish deployed missions in a safe manner." said Tech. Sgt. Stephen Nace, an AT instructor with the 121st SFS.

The Airmen covered a wide gamut of training evolutions to include land navigation, squad movements, reactions to contact, weapons training, mounted and dismounted operations, and other small details for safety in a deployed location, said Nace.

"We simulate real world battle events to stress the importance of leadership and decision making," said Capt. John Haley, with the 121st SFS. "By the time they get called to combat, it won't be the first time they've seen it, and they'll be prepared for that challenge."

In a new twist added this year, the Airmen were sent to Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center, Mich. to spend three days in the field as part of a simulated deployment experience.

"The Airmen were presented with an opportunity they haven't seen before, to get used to going into the unknown," said Haley. "They are the best-hearted, highly motivated people in the Air Force."

The Airmen endured three days of constant training, applying the skills they've learned up until that point.

"Every day was like a piece of the pie and now we're sitting here with the whole pie," said Airman 1st Class Trey McHenry, with the 121st SFS.

Together, they established their operation order and carried out their missions with background supervision from their instructors.

"To have the opportunity to teach them is so fulfilling it's unbelievable," said Nace. "Our Airmen are highly educated and driven individuals looking to take on more responsibility, gain more knowledge and make themselves a more valuable asset to the unit as a leader, an Airman and a defender."

Face of Defense: Air Guardsman Competes on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

By Air Force Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen, 108th Wing DoD News Features, Defense Media Activity

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J., September 3, 2015 — New Jersey Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Justin B. Gielski may not be the next “American Ninja Warrior,” but he provided an inspiring athletic performance on the popular TV show.

Gielski was in Las Vegas in June to compete alongside those who made it through the city qualifying rounds to the four-stage finals of the television show that requires strength, agility, endurance and more than a little grit. The episode aired Aug. 31, and Gielski was not among the 16 who finished the obstacle course to earn a spot in the second stage.

Gielski, a loadmaster with the 150th Special Operations Squadron of the 108th Wing here, took part in an all-military preliminary competition and placed fifth. His performance in that competition aired Aug. 17. In all, 30 military members competed and the top 15 were invited to the finals.

Following his elimination from the finals, Gielski said on his Facebook page that he had learned a valuable lesson in the competition. “The course isn't finished until it's finished,” he said. “I was very confident about the coin flip and was looking at the next obstacle before I finished it. A costly mistake.” But, he added, he plans to be back again next year to summit Mount Midoriyama, the name given to the final obstacle course on the show.

Difficult Obstacle Course

"I think it reflects well on the New Jersey Guard and the Air Force because there are not that many Air Force or Guard members that made it through to this level," Gielski said.

Gielski also gives credit to the creators of "American Ninja Warrior" for creating a diabolically difficult obstacle course.

"Lot of bizarre obstacles, the people who engineer these things have to be partially insane, but they're fun, they definitely test your abilities," he said.

This is Gielski’s first season competing on "American Ninja Warrior," but his interest started long before the American version of the show came out.

"I used to watch the Japanese version of Ninja Warrior when I was younger and I thought to myself, ‘This looks really fun, I think I could do this,’" Gielski said. "I found a parkour gym in Cherry Hill [N.J.] ... I actually really enjoyed it and I had a lot of fun and saw the potential that I could be good at it."

It is not an easy road; the training is intensive -- an hour during lunch and then another one to three hours in the evening.

Grateful for Unit’s Support

"I have definitely gotten a lot of support from the wing in this adventure, which I thought has been really cool; it's been neat that they've allowed me to do this," Gielski said. "I'm glad I could represent them well in return for their sacrifices to help me with my dreams."

There was also an unforeseen benefit from preparing for the competition: Gielski's family got interested in working out.

"My kids kind of started taking an interest in it ... as they saw me doing it, so we started building some things in our backyard like bar setups and stuff and they really love it," Gielski said. "We just have a blast and I've noticed it has actually brought our family a lot closer together."

Strives to Improve

He added, "Every day is different -- we're not just working out. We're always striving to meet a new goal, to accomplish some new flip, hang longer, swing farther, things like that. We get really excited when someone in the family does something new that's awesome; we take a lot of videos and post a lot of video."

One of the show's hash tags for Gielski was #MagicFingers.

"We're a Seahawks family and when the Seahawks are close to the end zone, we'll send magic to them,” he said, demonstrating by extending his hands and wiggling his fingers toward the television screen. “We try to will them to score,” Gielski said. “So it just became something that we do. [If] my son is having a hard time with this obstacle, [we'll say,] 'You're really close, let's give him some magic' and we give him magic and it kind of motivates you to do well.”

"I got up there the first night [of the show] and I saw my kids there [and I said] 'Alright kids give me magic, it's going to be tough,’” he continued. “So it became a thing I talked about [on the show] and they gave me the hash tag #MagicFingers."

He added, "I hear stories of, 'Hey, my kids were giving you magic through the TV, rooting you on.' and it's pretty cool to hear that. I'm glad our family could share something like that."

Preparation for floods

by Airman 1st Class Christopher Morales
JBER Public Affairs

9/3/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Anywhere it rains, it can flood. In late September 2012, Anchorage had a flash flood, stranding cars and shutting down streets, which resulted in one fatality and 23 million dollars in damage.

That was from rainfall alone, but other conditions can cause flooding.

In Alaska, it is most likely to occur due to the melting of snow and ice in varying degrees. A midwinter or early spring thaw can produce large amounts of runoff in a short period of time. When the ground is still frozen hard, water cannot be reabsorbed, causing excess water to spill over banks.

Floods are strong enough to roll boulders, rip trees, and outright destroy buildings and bridges, and can occur any time of year.

"Springtime is the biggest time for flooding here," said Jilene Reichle, JBER Emergency Management plans and operations manager.

During a long cold spell the surfaces of rivers and lakes freeze. Rising water levels or a thaw could break the ice into chunks, eventually floating into choke-points causing ice jams which can lead to severe flooding depending on river-flow.

"Typically if there is a heavy winter snowpack, you're going to have a flood," said Air Force Capt. Ted Labedz, JBER Emergency Management flight commander.

Flash floods can also occur after the collapse of a man-made structure like a dam.

"If the Ship Creek dam [broke], in conjunction with a large-magnitude earthquake, several areas [would] have minor floods," Labedz said.

During a flood, it is best to always go to the highest level of your home or workplace, Labedz said. Do not drive if there is more than a foot of water on the road and if you have to drive, know the safest routes on high ground.

For any disaster, it is paramount to have an emergency kit. Especially during a flood, if there are no clear pathways to food and water, your kit should have the necessary supplies to last at least a week.

Some helpful links are:,,,, and

For more information, visit the JBER Emergency Management office or call 551-7526.

National Preparedness Month

by Airman 1st Class Christopher Morales
JBER Public Affairs

9/3/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Alaska has experienced more than 60 magnitude 6.0 and higher earthquakes in the past 10 years.

"We have a very different geographical layout. So a 6.0 in California is more severe than a 6.0 here because most of our earthquakes are remote," said Michael West, State Seismotologist with the Alaska Earthquake Center. "The one that I fear is the 6.0 that will happen in Juneau or any other city."

Earthquakes are not our only danger in Alaska; earthquakes can cause a multitude of disasters afterward like landslides, soil slumping, flooding, tsunamis and can negatively affect volcanoes.

September is National Preparedness Month, and local emergency services encourage people to prepare for and be educated on what to do before, during and after a disaster.

Alaska has its own unique circumstances that must be considered when planning for emergency contingencies like floods, wildfires, earthquakes, snowstorms and volcanic activity.

"National Preparedness Month is an opportunity for us to refocus on the threats we confront, what we can do to be ready," said Air Force Capt. Ted Labedz, JBER Emergency Management flight commander.

Alaska has earthquakes every day, and volcanic eruptions once a year for the past 40 years.

"If you don't have your [emergency] kit ready now, afterward is not the time to put it together," said Jilene Reichle, JBER Emergency Management plans and operations manager.

Readiness reduces the threat of structural damage or personal injury by responding quickly and allowing other emergency responders to focus their efforts on more critical cases.

Disasters can interrupt commutes by destroying bridges or flooding roads, so being prepared with plenty of supplies or having a plan could save a life.

The American Red Cross recommends emergency kits be tailored to threats in the local area, and must contain the basics. These include: water, non-perishable food, first-aid kit, important documentation, flashlight/light source, hand-cranked or battery-powered radio, extra batteries, multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, extra cash, emergency blanket and map(s) of the area.

"All the items in a kit are important... they all serve a purpose and are equally significant," Reichle said.

The Mat-Su Emergency Expo and Safety Fair is scheduled for Sept. 19 at the Mat-Su College. Emergency Management hosts an informational booth at the Base Exchange, Sept. 2, 9,16 and 23, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Preparing for emergencies can be an intimidating task, but there are many resources on the specifics of creating a kit and being prepared in general.

Some helpful links are:,,,, and

All it takes is the right amount of rain to cause a landslide or a flood. All it takes is one rough earthquake to negatively affect a volcano or break a dam. All it takes is one disaster for it to be your last.

"If you're not prepared, you're not ready," Reichle said. "If the lights go out, do you [even] have a flashlight?"

For more information, visit the JBER Emergency Management office or call 551-7526.

Forest Service firefighting arsenal getting a boost from ANG, Coast Guard

by Jerry Stoddard

9/3/2015 - JOINT BASE MARYLAND, Md. -- Airmen from the Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing recently began training the U.S. Forest Service in the use of the ANG's aerial firefighting system at McLellan Airfield, California.

In April, the Forest Service acquired the first of seven HC-130H aircraft authorized by Congress to be transferred from the Coast Guard for use in wildfire suppression.

"The 153rd Airlift Wing is proud of the 40 year partnership we have with the U.S. Forest Service." said Col. Bradley A. Swanson, 153 AW commander, "The MAFFS mission is an excellent example of the dual-use value of the Air National Guard and we are extremely pleased to be able to leverage our experience and our long-standing relationship with the USFS to provide this critical training. The unique firefighting capability provided by working together allows us to assist communities throughout the country when they're in need."

The 153rd's instructor team is training Forest Service aircrews in the use and operation of the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, or MAFFS, which is used to drop water or fire retardant onto a wild fire from an altitude of about 150 feet. Using the MAFFS system will allows the forest Service to rapidly integrate the new aircraft into their existing fleet.

Training conducted by the 153rd Airmen consisted of 8 hours of ground training, followed by 12 hours of airborne training over the course of multiple flights. Topics covered include the MAFFS system, emergency procedures, weather avoidance, aircraft performance and mountain flying.

"MAFFS is one of the most rewarding missions we accomplish as Guardsmen because it directly supports the homeland and demonstrates our domestic response ability," said Lt Col Todd Davis, MAFFS instructor pilot and 153rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. "This is a true interagency response between the Guard and Forest Service; it gives each of us a great sense of accomplishment to be able to assist in adding to their aerial firefighting capability."

The Forest Service plans to use MAFFS through the 2015 and 2016 fire seasons. By 2019, all seven aircraft are scheduled to be delivered to the Forest Service and converted to a gravity-fed firefighting system. The MAFFS equipment will then be returned to the Air National Guard inventory in order to continue their mission of providing support in a surge capacity.

The 153rd Airlift Wing has been operating MAFFS-equipped aircraft since 1975.

Illinois National Guard, IEMA conduct major earthquake exercise

by Lt. Col. Laura Forgerty
183d Air Operations Group

9/2/2015 - SPRINGFIELD, Ill.  -- Members from the Illinois Army and Air National Guard recently hosted an earthquake response exercise at the 183rd Fighter Wing and the Joint Forces Headquarters with the coordination of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

The joint exercise provided incident management and emergency management teams, agency technical experts and military personnel from U.S. Northern Command, the Polish Armed Forces and other state agencies to support the military's training scenario.

"We gained a tremendous amount of insight by having IEMA, other civilian agencies, National Guard Bureau, U.S. NORTHCOM and Poland participating in this event," said Col. Rick G. Yoder, commander of the joint task force. "It's critical to strengthen partnerships with local, state and federal personnel before a disaster happens."

The exercise simulated a 7.2 magnitude earthquake centered on the New Madrid Seismic Zone. More than 200 Army and Air National Guard members and over 100 civilian emergency management personnel participated in the scenario.

The National Guard has a standing mission to provide support to civil authorities during natural disasters. The joint task force provides command and control of military personnel and equipment in support of civil authorities during a complex catastrophe like an earthquake.

"We want to be able to respond rapidly and efficiently, and training together supports that goal," said Yoder. "We train the force to anticipate need. It's ultimately about saving lives and property."


by Airman 1st Class Zachary Cacicia
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

9/2/2015 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- For children, watching their parents go off on a deployment can be a dramatic and frightening experience.  Team Dover recently hosted an event to help make that experience a little less scary for children.

The 2015 Operation Kids/Teachers Understanding Deployment Operations (KUDOS/TUDOS) took place to give children a better understanding of what their parents go through during military deployments, while also educating teachers on what their students and their students' parents go through Aug. 26, 2015, at the Youth Center on Dover AFB, Delaware.

"This event is meant to be fun, not scary," said Staff Sgt. Nicole Hawley, Mission Support Group NCO in charge of executive support staff and primary event organizer.

The event was open to all Team Dover children and school teachers from the base schools and local school districts. More than 250 students and 100 teachers participated in the annual event.

The children and teachers started their day with mock pre-deployment briefings and processed through a deployment line where the children received school supplies. Once processing through the deployment line was complete, the children and teachers were organized by mock military training instructors, who formed them into a formation and marched them to the track and field to participate in deployment exercises. The kids tried on gas masks and chemical suits, received self-aid buddy care training, had their faces painted with war paint and went through an obstacle course. This gave them an overall fun, but educational experience.

"This year we incorporated operational security," said Hawley. "We taught them what they can and can't say on social media, helping keep their deployed parents safe."

Military members are trained repeatedly on what they can and cannot say online. Examples include not disclosing where members are deploying to and when. Children may overhear their parents talking about these and post this information onto social media, not knowing or comprehending the damage it could potentially cause.

Kerry Phillips, wife of Lt. Col Michael Phillips, 436th MSG deputy commander, attended the event with her 10-year-old daughter, Ashlynn. Being a military spouse, Kerry accepted the challenges that she and her husband go through, but their kids did not have that choice. They were born into this life.

Speaking on military deployments, Kerry said that they can be a real challenge on the children.

"We have a lot of support when it comes to this," Kerry said. "We do things like this to help them understand the concepts."

Ashlynn enjoyed her experience at KUDOS/TUDOS.

"It's fun; I enjoy coming here because my dad is in the military," said Ashlynn. "We've been trying on gear and we've been looking at Nerf guns."

More than 100 teachers from on and off base schools took part in the event. These teachers all have students in their classes with parents in the military.

"Well, I'm a civilian," said Nelle Cox, Dover AFB Middle School 7th and 8th Grade language arts teacher. "So for me, I'm learning a lot about what my students and their parents are going through and how I can better help them."

Cox went on to say that she now has a better understanding on why one of her students might perform poorly on a test or neglected homework, due to a parent's deployment.

"They have to deal with some issues that I myself have never had to experience," Cox said. "If it weren't for this event, I would have never been able to understand."

Not only did the children and teachers have fun at the event, so did the countless Airmen who volunteered their time. One of these volunteers, Airman 1st Class Jorge Rijo, 436th Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental engineer, took part in teaching self-aid buddy care to the children and said he felt it was a rewarding experience.

"I'm gaining a great opportunity to help kids," said Rijo. "Teaching them what their parents go through on a deployment helps them put their minds at ease."