Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Oldest Rocketeer turns 100

by Airman 1st Class Ashley Williamson
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/15/2015 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Airmen from the 336th Fighter Squadron Rocketeers traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sept. 3, for the 100th birthday celebration of the oldest surviving Rocketeer fighter pilot, retired 1st Lt. William "Bill" Corbett Slade.

The celebration was an opportunity for six Rocketeers to learn about their squadron history, meet some war heroes and shake hands with a legend.

Slade, a native of Paris, Texas, turned 100 on Sept. 5, 2015, at Roswell Air Force Base, New Mexico. He was a member of the 133rd Pursuit Squadron when it changed its squadron number from the 133rd PS to the 336th FS.  The 133rd Pursuit Squadron, Royal Air Force, was the third Eagle Squadron formed from American volunteers serving in the RAF during World War II.

"We benefited just by going down there to meet upwards of 100 veterans, who were all World War II-type people, Korea and Vietnam vets," said Flt. Lt. Douglas McKay, an RAF pilot assigned to the 336th FS. "We got to chat with a guy who flew a Spitfire and a Thunderbolt. This guy was a pilot in our squadron when he transferred over from the Spitfire to the P-47 Thunderbolts."

At his birthday celebration, Slade met the current youngest Rocketeer, 1st Lt. Benjamin Bowman, an F-15E Strike Eagle weapons systems officer.

"It was humbling to meet a Rocket, who at the same age I am now, was flying combat missions in Europe against the Nazis during World War II, particularly the Battle of Britain," Bowman said. "There is a lot of history with our eagle squadrons at Seymour Johnson that we all know about, but to hear it firsthand really brought it to life. Bill Slade helped lay the groundwork for the fighter pilot ethos that lives on today in the 336th FS."

Slade first flew the Spitfire for the 133rd Pursuit Squadron in April 1942 during tense times on the Western Front as the Allied forces fought to maintain superiority while wielding an effective, strategic bombing campaign against the Nazis.

"The most rewarding part of the trip was hearing his stories," Bowman said. "He was still remarkably sharp for turning 100 years old. He clearly enjoyed flying back in the day and still loves talking about it. Telling us all of his stories and talking about his plane, the Spitfire, seemed to be the part he enjoyed most of the night."

Members of the 336th FS presented Slade with a photo of the squadron in front of a Spitfire, which stands tall in front of the Heritage Hall at Seymour Johnson AFB, and picture of an F-15E Strike Eagle signed by all the current Rocketeers.

Dempsey Visits U.S. Troops in Estonia

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, September 15, 2015 — The highest-ranking U.S. military officer today took part in his final official overseas troop event while visiting with U.S. rotational forces in Estonia.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff greeted soldiers and U.S. personnel during a visit to the headquarters of the Estonian 1st Brigade in Tapa, about 60 miles east of Estonia’s capital city of Tallinn.

"I was especially proud to see those young men and women I met out in Tapa wearing the uniform of our country with the flag on their right shoulder," said U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, who retires at the end of this month.

Dempsey said there's no "greater symbol of commitment" than the presence of U.S. troops, America's sons and daughters, on the ground in the region.

The U.S. soldiers are with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, based in Vicenza, Italy, and are on a six-month deployment to the Baltic nation to train alongside Estonian forces as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

The operation is a demonstration of continued U.S. commitment to the collective security of NATO and to enduring peace and stability in the region in light of Russia's illegal actions in Ukraine.. About 5,000 U.S. troops have rotated through Estonia since April 2014, with other rotations taking place in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.

In a talk with the U.S. troops, the chairman thanked them for their service and their commitment to the mission and peace and security in the region.

"The United States in particular, but also several other of our NATO allies, responded quickly and effectively to create a new baseline of activity in Estonia and some of the other nations in the Baltics and in Eastern Europe," he said.

U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Porter, who was manning a gun on a Humvee during Dempsey's visit, said he welcomed the joint training because it allows for the two nations to learn from each other.

"We get a lot of valuable feedback on the way we handle different situations," Porter said. "It's kind of nice to see the way they do things and then we can compare and change things up and make it better."

Sending U.S. troops to Estonia is a "strong gesture" in reassuring the people of the small Baltic nation, said Estonian Land Forces 1st Sgt. Pirger Laur, whose face was painted in camouflage and was manning a jeep disguised in leafy greens.

"One key factor I think [the training] brings here, if you do it on your own, sometimes you go in the wrong path," Laur said. "But if you exchange information, it improves the training."

Dempsey said he and his host nation partners, including Estonia, are assessing what worked and what needs improvement in the operation and looking at long-term strategy for the mission.

After his visit with the troops, Dempsey returned to Tallinn to meet with Estonian President, Toomas Hendrik Iles. He also held a press conference at the Tallinn airport with his counterpart in the Estonian defense forces before departing for Washington and bringing an end the weeklong tour that also took him to Germany and Turkey to close out his final foreign voyage as chairman.

AF releases Future Operating Concept

By WASHINGTON (AFNS), Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Command Information / Published September 15, 2015

Today the Air Force officially released the Air Force Future Operating Concept, which is the latest in a series of strategic documents designed to guide the organizing, training, and equipping of the force over the coming decades.

The Air Force Future Operating Concept serves as a companion document to America’s Air Force: A Call to the Future and the USAF Strategic Master Plan and seeks to answer the question, “Where are we going?” It describes an Air Force that is the product of two decades of implementation of the strategic guidance in A Call to the Future through the USAF Strategic Master Plan.

Primarily written for Air Force planners, the Air Force Future Operating Concept explains how agility applies to Air Force warfighters, illustrating application of operational agility through the Air Force’s five core missions in 2035.

The Air Force Chief of Staff introduced the Future Operating Concept during his remarks at today’s Air Force Association Air Force Update.

“This is an internal challenge document,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. “It’s intended to make Airmen think about where we should be 20 years from now and not get comfortable with where we stand today.”

The Air Force Future Operating Concept broadly portrays how the Air Force will perform evolved core missions twenty years into the future, as part of a joint, interagency, or multinational force, or independently in support of national security objectives, to provide responsive and effective Global Vigilance-Global Reach-Global Power in light of a projected future strategic and operational environment.

The Air Force Future Operating Concept provides a picture of future operations, rather than identifying specific capabilities, programs, or platforms, to provide context for future force development. The ideas in the concept are subject to testing, experimentation, evaluation and assessment to validate them and/or suggest better alternatives.

“The Air Force does not presume to forecast the future; instead, we seek to develop the agility needed to succeed amidst uncertainty,” said Maj Gen Jeff Newell, the director of Air Force Strategy, Concepts and Assessments. “In this document we’ve included illustrative vignettes that serve to stimulate the imagination and articulate the benefits of committing to a path of operational agility.”

The document closes with a series of implications and direct linkages to the goals and objectives of the USAF Strategic Master Plan.

“We invite you to read this concept and visualize how its future forces will contribute to a strong National defense, support allies and partners, and help ensure a free and stable world for all,” Newell explained. “The future will be rife with challenges and surprises, but the Air Force’s heritage has demonstrated the indomitable spirit of the American Airman.”

Two fallen special tactics Airmen honored, remembered

By 1st Lt. Katrina Cheesman, 24th Special Operations Wing / Published September 15, 2015

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (AFNS) -- More than 1,000 family members, friends and teammates from around the country gathered here Sept. 14 to honor and remember two special tactics Airmen who were killed in action last month in an insider attack.

As the procession of family members departed the memorial, nearly 2,000 Air Commandos lined the roads and saluted to honor Capt. Matthew D. Roland, from the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Staff Sgt. Forrest B. Sibley, assigned to the 21st Special Tactics Squadron. Both were killed Aug. 26 at a vehicle checkpoint near Camp Antonik, Afghanistan.

“There are no words, lessons (or) themes that could properly memorialize Matt and Forrest,” said Lt. Col. Paul Brister, the 23rd STS commander, at the memorial service. “They both lived lives bigger than that. The best way we can memorialize them is to live life with as much zeal, humor and love as they demonstrated in theirs.”

Roland, 27, a special tactics officer and team leader, was a qualified special operations battlefield commander who had deployed three times in his five years of service. Roland graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2010 and completed the rigorous special operations training pipeline in 2012. He was a native of Lexington, Kentucky, and is survived by his parents and sibling.

“Matt was anything but typical,” Brister said. “On the battlefield he was a lion — lethal, precise, humble and compassionate. He was always flawless. I’m convinced I learned more from him than he could ever learn from me.”

Roland lived to protect his teammates, said Master Sgt. Jared Hodges, assigned to the 23rd STS.

“He was our leader, mentor and brother,” Hodges said. “His biggest fear was letting (us) down.”

Sibley, 31, a combat controller stationed at Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, had deployed four times to numerous sensitive locations in his seven years of service. For his commitment in the face of consistent danger, he received four Bronze Star medals, one with the Valor device for bravery against an enemy of the U.S. in combat. He was a native of Pensacola, Florida, and is survived by his parents and siblings.

Capt. Michael Bain, the 21st STS director of operations, said Sibley was a selfless man.

“Men like Forrest run toward the sound of chaos,” Bain said. “He cared more about others than himself.”

Staff Sgt. Bob Sears said Sibley was an incredible warrior, friend and teammate.

“We are hurting for Forrest and Matt, but they will never be forgotten,” Sears said. “We will never stop talking about them.”

As tradition dictates, during the memorial service, there was a final roll call to account for special tactics Airmen. When Roland’s and Sibley’s names were called three times with no response, Airmen responded they were no longer present to report for duty, as they were killed in action.

After the conclusion of the ceremony, service members lined to salute the two battlefield crosses representing both Airmen, which were a pair of boots, a rifle, their special operations berets and dog tags. Special tactics Airmen also tacked their flashes, or special operations insignia normally found on their berets or uniforms, next to the battlefield cross, to honor their fallen comrades.

Following the memorial, hundreds of special tactics Airmen saluted Sibley’s coffin, draped in an American flag, as a FA-20 aircraft completed the dignified arrival before his interment at a local cemetery.

Both Airmen will be interred at military cemeteries with full military honors at a later date.