Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fort Worth Conducts First Maintenance Availability in Sembawang

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joe Bishop, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

SEMBAWANG, Singapore (NNS) -- The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) is making preparations to get underway from Sembawang after successfully conducting preventive maintenance availability (PMAV) and restricted availability (RAV) maintenance.

This availability was particularly unique, as it was the first maintenance availability conducted at Sembawang. Typically Fort Worth will conduct maintenance availabilities at Changi Naval Base, but the ability to shift the location to a different port further demonstrates the flexibility of the ship as well as the shore support, which will be beneficial when more LCSs are operating in the region.

"With only two weeks to refit the ship and conduct preventive maintenance, all parties had to be firing in sync and on all cylinders," said Cmdr. Christopher Brown, commanding officer of Fort Worth. "And they certainly did."

After a scheduled underway period where Fort Worth completed Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Indonesia, as well as CARAT Malaysia, the ship was due for an in port maintenance period.

"The point of RAV is to get the ship re-fitted and repairs accomplished which otherwise could not be conducted at sea," said Lt. Lakir Patel, main propulsion assistant of Fort Worth. "It is also a time when major maintenance is completed, which requires contractors because typically the scope of such work is outside the ship's capabilities, especially given the LCS operational manning."

This maintenance period had the added complexity of simultaneously undertaking both restricted availability maintenance and preventive maintenance.

"RAV started two days before PMAV to ensure work on the corrective maintenance side could commence prior to the preventive maintenance," said Patel. "PMAV is a time in port when the ship completes all required preventive maintenance on vital systems to support operational requirements. During RAV we fix items that are broken, and during PMAV we prevent items from breaking in the future."

"For this in port maintenance period Fort Worth completed 638 PMS (preventive maintenance system) checks with 96 checks added after we commenced the availability for a total of 744 PMS checks," said Brown. "Additionally, we completed 25 RAV scheduled repairs, 20 Voyage repairs, and a major "D-Phase" maintenance availability on our embarked MH-60R(helicopter)."

In the Airborne Mission Zone sailors assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35, Detachment 3, currently embarked aboard Fort Worth, were engaged in tearing down and inspecting major and minor components of the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter.

"The Enforcers (Detachment 3) completed Phase D while Fort Worth was is in port for RAV/PMAV," said Lt. Mark Edson, maintenance officer for HSM-35, Detachment 3. "This is scheduled maintenance that is completed based off flight hours on the aircraft. The focus of maintenance has been on the rotor head of the aircraft, requiring the maintainers to disassemble and reassemble the rotor head, along with various other components of the aircraft. The Enforcers have done an excellent job of this task."

The hundreds of preventive maintenance checks that Crew 102 performed over the maintenance period varied from simple tasks to complicated undertakings.

"We have maintenance on everything from ship's ventilation systems to checks on habitability gear, combat systems gear and all of the engineering equipment," said Patel. "This could be as simple as changing filters or replacing batteries to more extensive checks such as TRS-3D (Fort Worth's radar) output frequency checks."

Fort Worth is the second LCS to deploy to U.S. 7th Fleet as part of an initiative to simultaneously deploy up to four LCS to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region in just a few years. The third and fourth LCSs are planned to arrive in 2016, when the region will see two of these ships deployed at the same time.

137 AES holds joint emergency training with diverse airframes

by Senior Airman Kasey Phipps
137th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

9/21/2015 - WILL ROGERS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Okla. -- Members of the Oklahoma Air National Guard, 137th
Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron participated in a joint Air National Guard training mission Sept. 12, with West Virginia's 130th Airlift Wing.

The mission provides the two 137 AES crews the essential flight readiness training on an Air Force C-130 Hercules airframe piloted by different flight crews.

"It enforces the total force concept," said Major Robert Huhn, medical crew director.  "I mean, we fly with active duty, guard and reserve. Everybody does something just a little bit different. So the more exposure to the different units that you have, the more you learn the tricks of the trade."

Each crew had three medical technicians and two flight nurses who trained in multiple scenarios designed to test their knowledge and skill in specific flight treatment areas. The crews treated and stabilized patients through several obstacles, including unexpected landings, cargo loads, in-flight fires, rapid decompression and trauma emergencies.

"I like that sometimes we sit down and break down the scenario, and that's really great to be able to think about what you're going to do," said Senior Airman Josselyn Davis, a medical technician on one of the crews. "When we're in a real-world situation, we'll have a more broken down way of looking at it. For me, that's extremely vital."

To successfully complete these scenarios, Airmen had to learn to navigate the complexities of the C-130 as opposed to the KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, which they train on regularly. This included learning different space conservation techniques, litter positioning, tie down configurations and even power outlet locations.

"Today simulated a real world mission that the Guard and Reserve are going to be taking on more often, which is a CONUS redistribution mission where the patients arrive from Germany," said Huhn. "We're going to pick them up at Andrews Air Force Base, and we're going to distribute them either up and down the coast or out to San Antonio for their redistribution west. This is the exact type of aircraft that we'd be doing that on."

"There's no way to fully understand what you're getting yourself into without fully doing what we do, coming out here and getting the rhythm down," Davis added.

While the major focus of the mission was recruit readiness, there were other equally beneficial outcomes, said Huhn.

"The biggest benefit from today was exposure to different airframes and different air crews from around the Air National Guard," he said.

D.C. Air National Guard demonstrates its Air Power

by Senior Airman Erica Rodriguez
113th Wing Public Affairs

9/23/2015 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- The
District of Columbia Air National Guard participated in the 2015 Joint Base Andrews Air Show Sept.18 to 19.

The 113th Wing was able to showcase its mission to their local community and other military personnel during the public air show.

The air show comprised of active duty Air Force, Army and Air National Guard and AF Reserve units featured many aerial demonstrations, static displays of military vehicles and equipment, entertainment for kids and various vendors including recruiters.

The event was especially important to the 113th members because it gave them a chance to engage with the local community.

"I'm glad they brought the Air Show back finally," said 1st Lt. Charlie Wilkinson, 121st Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot. "I think it's important for us to be out here and get some face-to-face time with the people living within the area; the people we help support and defend. It's nice for them to able to see that we are here and what we are doing here."

Wilkinson was one of the pilots who stayed with Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft static display during the event to answer spectator questions about the aircraft, the 113th mission and what it takes to become a pilot.

Spectators were also able to check out the wing's domestic operations capabilities first hand. The wing's Disaster Relief Mobile Kitchen Trailer, Mobile Emergency Operations Center and the Fatality Search and Recovery Team equipment were on display along with some of their operators that could explain the capabilities and importance of each.

Beyond the displays, the 113th also kicked off the aerial demonstrations and ceremony with the time honored Missing Man Formation to honor fallen service members for POW/MIA day.

"It's an honor for us to be able to participate as the opening act of the Joint Base Andrews show this year," said Brig. Gen. George Degnon, 113th Wing commander. "It's an opportunity for us to integrate with the active duty and the Reserve as well as other services here In the National Capital region as we showcase the military."

And it was that coordination of the event with all joint forces coming together in support of community relations that made the show a success.

Airmen Walk To Honor POW/MIA

by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Farson
117 ARW Public Affairs

9/22/2015 - HOOVER, Ala -- Tech. Sgt. Matthew Crawford, from the 99th Air Refueling Squadron, coordinated and participated in a 16-mile walk to honor Prisoners of War and Missing in Action personnel on September 18 at Veterans Park.

Each foot in the walk represents the more than 83,000 missing Americans in conflicts dating back to World War II. 

Military personnel and members of the community were invited to participate.  The event is an effort to show solidarity and appreciation by the armed forces and civilians so those missing will be remembered.

"This is my way of trying to show support," said Tech. Sgt. Laribeth Matter from the 99 ARS. "We are giving everyone else the idea we are here and those before us are not forgotten."

Crawford and Matter started walking at 7 a.m.  Other participants joined in after it was kicked off and walked as much as they desired to show support.  A POW/MIA flag was handled and passed to different people to carry throughout the event.

"This is a good way to recognize the faith we have in each other as service members," said Crawford. "The U.S. is not giving up on any POW or MIA."   

Crawford has led this event for the 117th Air Refueling Wing the past three years. He got the idea for the walk in 2011 after he participated in a similar event in Japan at Kadena Air Base.  The walk falls on National POW/MIA Recognition Day which is observed the third Friday in September each year.

For Crawford, the observance also offers the realization that service carries inherent risks and nothing is certain.

"We put ourselves in harm's way," said Crawford.  "There's always a chance we can end up in a bad situation like that."

ANG Director discusses reserve component issues during AFA conference

by Staff Sgt. John E. Hillier
Air National Guard Readiness Center Public Affairs

9/21/2015 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- The director of the Air National Guard spoke about several issues currently faced by the Air Reserve Components during the Total Force panel at the Air Force Association's 2015 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition, held in National Harbor, Maryland, Sept. 14-16.

Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, ANG director, addressed topics ranging from civilian employer support, retention, integrated bases, working with civilian employers, and increased interoperability across the total force.

Clarke addressed the change in the reserve components' role in the warfight from a strategic to an operational one, noting that "how we use people became different, but the way we apply administrative rules to them is still trying to catch up. But we have to be careful not to break the model."

The Panel also featured Chief of Air Force Reserve Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements Lt. Gen. James M. Holmes, and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Manpower and Reserve Affairs Daniel R. Sitterly.

Despite the heavy tasking Guard members face, not just during deployments, but in service to the homeland and state missions, both employers and the public have their backs, said Clarke.

"We're doing so much at home for the Air Force, for the states, for our citizens, in addition to all of our deployment and readiness training," said Clarke. "Things like airborne firefighting, search and rescue, [Joint Terminal Attack Controller] training, and joint air drop requirements - none of that is deployment. All that being said, our Airmen are still coming to drill, they're still part of the Guard, and they're still staying in with a retention rate of ninety-something percent. And I couldn't be more proud of them."

Holmes discussed pathways for increasing cooperation among the regular Air Force and the reserve components.

"I think the way forward is to swap leaders," said Holmes. "We've grown people who can serve as leaders in each other's organizations, in the senior NCO level and in the officer level, and I think our path is making sure we continue to develop leaders who understand all the components."

Clarke also stressed efforts the reserve components are making to adapt to missions transferred from regular Air Force units.

"There is some movement actually that is occurring," he said. "It's not large pieces because, in almost every single analysis, what's revealed is that whether it's Reserve, Guard, or regular Air Force, we don't have enough to do some of the missions out there now."

He also discussed efforts to increase cooperation with commercial airlines in attracting new pilots, and helping current members keep flying in both their Guard and civilian careers.

"As the economy continues to improve, there's going to be a greater demand [for pilots] as we see it," Clarke said. "We hosted nine of the major airlines' chief pilots about a month ago to discuss some of these issues and how in the future we might share some of [our people]. All nine of them said 'we want that. We want to share assets and not have to pull people out of the uniform.'"

First All-Female Honor Flight Gets Hero's Welcome in Washington

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, September 23, 2015 — Female veterans, trailblazers who served in the military decades ago, received a hero's welcome yesterday after arriving in the nation's capital on the first all-female honor flight.

"Best day of my life" is how retired Army Sgt. Maj. Sue Williams described the visit, which included stops at Arlington National Cemetery and the World War II Memorial.

Williams, who retired in 1995 after nearly three decades of service, helped lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. "I could have died and gone to heaven right then," she said.

The women, from wars including World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, traveled with Honor Flight Tri-State, which covers southern Ohio, northern Kentucky and southeast Indiana.

They arrived to a hero's welcome for the day-long trip, receiving applause, handshakes and greetings of "thank you for your service" at all the sites they visited.

"It's a dream come true," according to Sara Abrams, who served in the Army from 1963 to 1964. She said she never imagined a day like this would happen.

She was thrilled, she said, by the warm welcome from service members and the public. People were everywhere "cheering everybody on," she said. "It's really great. The people are just fabulous."

Cheryl Popp, the director of Honor Flight Tri-State, said she expects there to be more all-female honor flights. There were 250 applications for 140 seats on the airplane.

The veterans were from all the services, she said, and included younger female veterans who were partnered up as a guardian for an elder veteran for the journey, she said.

"It's been historic. I think you can kind of feel it wherever you go," Popp said.

Proud Service

Air Force veteran Andrea Kovar posed at the World War II Memorial in front of the quote from the late Army Col. Oveta Culp Hobby, the first director of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, which later became the Women's Army Corps.

The quote etched into the stone -- "Women who stepped up were measured as citizens of the nation, not as women... This was a people's war and everyone was in it" -- also graced the back of the shirts the Honor Flight veterans.

"I've never been here. This whole thing has been absolutely amazing and I wish I would have met Col. Hobby," stated Kovar, who served from 1963 to 1966.

When asked about her time with the Honor Flight, Kovar said it was an emotional experience. "I have been crying all day," she said, adding that she loved visiting Washington. "It's a beautiful city and I'm glad I'm here."

Trailblazer Greets Trailblazers

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught greeted the women at the Women In Military Service For America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. She is the president of the board of directors at the women's memorial foundation.

It was a proud moment and very inspiring to see the female veterans, said Vaught, who retired in 1985. She was the first woman selected for promotion to brigadier general in the comptroller career field.

"Every job that I had that was my assigned job when I was in service, I was the first woman to ever hold that job," she said.

"This put pressure on me to be sure that I did it in such a way that another woman would have an opportunity to fill that job," she said. "To a degree, that situation in many instances still exists today."

She noted how two female soldiers recently became the first women to pass the Army Ranger course. If they get an opportunity to serve as Rangers, Vaught said, they too will get the chance to "prove that women can do it."

A Grateful Nation

The veterans are "simply inspiring," Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said at the women's memorial during a luncheon program.

The nation honors them for their "fundamental sense of duty and courage," McDonald said.

"You didn't sign up to shatter glass ceilings; you came to serve and you served with distinction," he said. "But you knew the stakes were high, if you failed, it might make it much harder for those who followed you."

There is another part of being the first, he said, explaining the women were often considered outsiders or intruders. "Yet, you refused to quit," he said.

"Our nation is grateful. We're grateful for the challenges you've endured and overcame and the sacrifices you've made that men simply didn't have to make," he said. "The service you rendered to this nation is more valuable than you could ever have imagined.”

Rory Brosius, the deputy director of the White House Joining Forces initiative, sent greetings from first lady Michelle Obama, and applauded the women for their service.

"During times when our country called upon you, you stood up, you raised your hand, and you served. Your contributions meant that our country was better equipped for missions all around the world," Brosius said.

"You are all trailblazers and your service has inspired many generations of women," she said.

Brosius read a letter from Mrs. Obama thanking them for their inspiring service and the important role they played in moving the country forward. Each veteran received their own copy of the official letter from the first lady.

357th FS trains at Green Flag-West

by Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/22/2015 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- More than 100 Airmen and eight A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, arrived at Nellis AFB to participate in Green Flag-West 15-10 from Sept. 13-25.

Green Flag-West is an advanced, realistic, and relevant air-to-surface training exercise, preparing joint and coalition warfighters to meet combatant commander requirements across air, space, and cyberspace. It is a joint exercise administered by the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center and Nellis AFB through the 549th Combat Training Squadron.

"Green Flag-West is the premiere U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps joint close air support integration exercise," said Capt. Christopher "Geronimo" Johns, 357th Fighter Squadron flight commander and Green Flag-West project officer. "Ground units will utilize Fort Irwin, (California) and the National Training Center to execute a large force-on-force ground battle between two superior forces while integrating rotary and fixed wing assets to destroy 'enemy' forces in the scenario."

During the exercise, eight units from around the country, including the 41st Electronic Combat Squadron and the 357th FS from D-M, will team up to create the scenario. The scenario portrays threats friendly forces can expect to encounter including tanks, artillery, surface-to-air gunfire and missiles, rotary and fixed wing air threats and command and control jamming.

"Units participating gain realistic wartime experience in order to clear some 'fog and friction' prior to actually supporting COCOMs in active areas of responsibility," Johns said. "Ground commanders will take away a better understanding of what air power can do to shape the battle space and attrition the enemy forces. Joint Terminal Attack Controllers will experience communication challenges in the field, gain aircraft control experience, and receive instruction from A-10 instructor pilots on close air support procedures through face-to-face debriefs after each mission."

There are 17 pilots from the 357th FS playing a role in Green Flag. Along with them, they brought six upgrade training A-10 pilots from the formal training unit on D-M. Because they are not fully mission qualified, Air Force Instructions prohibit their participation in a Flag exercise, but they can utilize the training complex ranges and resources the instructor pilots are using.

"For us as student pilots, this is our first exposure to a large force exercise," said 1st Lt. Shannon Smith, 357th FS student pilot. "We get use to the scenery (in Arizona) and the type of missions we are flying. Coming here now, we get exposed to different airframes and JTACS, and then we actually get to work with the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft and refuel as part of our mission."

While here, the students will qualify on different aspects of the aircraft including aerial refueling and weapons.

"They are flying syllabus sorties that provide instruction on low altitude surface attack tactics, flying as a wingman, executing briefed geometry, and employing weapons in close proximity to the ground and friendly personnel to destroy enemy targets while providing mutual support to their flight lead in order to survive against enemy threats," Johns said.

Although the 357th FS has been participating in Green Flag for multiple years, this is only the third time the unit has brought the upgrade training pilots in an effort to expand their experience before they are assigned to their first operational squadron.

"Flying out of a different location and observing the instructor pilots prepare and debrief Green Flag sorties exposes the upgrade pilots to additional airmanship tools, understanding of operations away from home station, and they receive a glimpse into the life of an A-10 pilot during 'deployed' operations," Johns said.

By the end of the two-week exercise, the 357th FS instructor and student pilots will leave Nellis AFB with more knowledge and skills then when they came. They will able to use these skills while deployed and during future exercise around the country.