Military News

Thursday, November 05, 2015

AFGSC Airmen support largest NATO exercise in 20 years


by Charles Ramey
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs


11/5/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Two B-52 Stratofortresses and aircrews assigned to Air Force Global Strike Command conducted a long-range bomber mission to the U.S. European Command area of operations Nov. 3-4, where they participated in Trident Juncture 2015 - the largest NATO Exercise to be conducted in the past 20 years.

During the non-stop sortie, which lasted approximately 26 hours, the B-52 aircrews from the 2nd Bomb Wing flew from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, to the multinational exercise area of operations where they executed a show-of-force in Spain, participated in a naval maritime strike scenario, and conducted a large force integration scenario in Portugal.

With approximately 36,000 participants from more than 30 Allied and partner nations, Trident Juncture uses a fictitious training scenario to assess NATO's agility and ability to meet operational challenges while responding to global threats to peace and security.

"[Trident Juncture] demonstrates that we can deploy high-readiness forces from across the alliance in a matter of days," said Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, Supreme Commander Allied Powers Europe (SACEUR) during the exercise's opening ceremonies at Trapani Air Base, Italy, Oct. 19.  "These multinational forces from Air, Land, Sea and Special Operations are highly interoperable and have proven capable of conducting complex military maneuvers across the spectrum of operations."

Participation of a strategic bomber in Trident Juncture highlights the United States' commitment to NATO Allies and partners and enhancement of regional security. This most-recent B-52 mission follows a series of similar partnership activities in the EUCOM AOR. In September, a 2nd Bomb Wing B-52 Stratofortress aircrew flew from Barksdale Air Force Base to Postojna, Slovenia, where they worked with Slovenian and U.S. Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) at a range near the Slovenian town of Pivka to provide close air support to allied forces during Exercise Immediate Response.

In June, three Stratofortresses from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, deployed to Royal Air Force Fairford, England, where the bombers trained and integrated with U.S. and allied military forces in the region during exercises Baltops and Saber Strike.  The deployment followed an April nonstop roundtrip sortie by two Barksdale B-52s from their home station to the North Sea where aircrews participated in dissimilar air intercept maneuvers with fighters from the Royal Canadian Air Force, the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

According to Maj. Gen. Richard Clark, Eighth Air Force commander and the U.S. Strategic Command's Joint Functional Component Command commander for Global Strike, the participation of B-52 forces in Trident Juncture demonstrates the ability of America's long-range strike force to quickly support multinational forces anywhere on the globe.

"Trident Juncture gives us an invaluable opportunity to hone our warfighting skills.  It allows us to integrate with our NATO allies and to train like we will fight," Clark said. "These missions enhance our interoperability and teamwork, demonstrate global reach capability of our bomber force and allow our aircrews to train on the unique demands of long duration sorties."

The B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, multirole bomber that can perform a variety of missions. Through the use of aerial refueling, the range of a B-52 is limited only by crew endurance. It has an unrefueled combat range in excess of 8,800 miles.

"Our participation in Trident Juncture allows B-52 aircrew to enhance their readiness by flying a global strike profile and conducting operations in unfamiliar airspace," said Capt. Kevin Crawford, 2nd Operations Support Squadron flight commander for nuclear plans and operations.  "The opportunity to integrate with both U.S. and NATO forces allows B-52 aircrew to 'practice like we fight' in an international exercise."

28th BW participates in ORE

by Senior Airman Hailey Staker
28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


11/5/2015 - ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE S.D.  -- The 28th Bomb Wing recently participated in a base operational readiness exercise Oct. 20 through 22.

Exercises evaluate the wing's ability to meet wartime and contingency tasks of employing and sustaining forces, and maintaining the ability to survive and operate in a deployed location.

"The intent of this readiness exercise was to evaluate the 28th BW's ability to execute and sustain combat power from a forward operating environment," said Tech. Sgt. Danielle Kahler, 28th Bomb Wing Inspector General Inspections wing inspection team manager. "A variety of base-wide support was evaluated to employ and sustain operations in a contested combat environment, including Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosives (CBRNE) reconnaissance, SABC response and post-attack recovery."

Airmen were also tested on unexploded ordnance identification, marking and evacuation procedures, and contamination avoidance.

"The Air Force defines the most probable threat as tactical ballistic missiles," Kahler said. "Through readiness exercises, we develop tactics and procedures to continue mission operations after conventional and irregular biological warfare attacks."

Conducting exercises would not be possible without Wing Inspection Team members and 28th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management flight personnel.

"Their dedication to getting the job done correctly and efficiently allowed us to put this exercise together in a timely manner and meet all objectives," Kahler added.

One of the objectives met during the exercise was satisfying pre-deployment requirements.

"The IGI office worked with [28th] CES emergency management and put together a mass CBRNE training class in the Pride Hangar Oct. 19," Kahler said. "This met requirements for more than 180 military members."

In supporting the B1- bomber mission at home and abroad, OREs allow Ellsworth to bridge the gap between training and real world so Airmen can continue to win the fight.

Carter Visits USS Roosevelt in South China Sea



By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News Features, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, November 5, 2015 — Defense Secretary Ash Carter today toured the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea and expressed concern about China's activities in those waters.

Carter said the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier’s presence is a "symbol and a sign of the critical role the United States' military power plays in what is a very consequential region for the American future."

The defense secretary also commented on regional tensions resulting from disputes over land features in the South China Sea. Several Asia-Pacific countries, including China, are involved in those disputes.

"There is a lot of concern about Chinese behavior out here," he said.

Those concerns, Carter said, were discussed yesterday at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers’ Meeting - Plus in Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur.

"Many countries in the region are coming to the United States and asking us to do more with them so that we can keep the peace out here," he said.

Asia-Pacific Partners

Carter toured the aircraft carrier with Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. Visiting the ship with his Malaysian counterpart, Carter said, indicates the demand for American presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Stability in the Asia-Pacific region is important to the United States economically, Carter said, noting that half of the world's commerce comes from or passes through that part of the world.

The U.S. military's rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region is intended to maintain and further promote peace and prosperity in the region, according to Carter.

The USS Roosevelt, with about 3,000 crew members, is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations as part of a worldwide deployment en route to its new homeport in San Diego. The move is part of a three-carrier homeport shift.

Carter, who is on an eight-day trip focusing on the Asia-Pacific rebalance, will travel on to Hawaii, then California, before returning to the Pentagon.

Vandenberg Airmen help rescue family

by Senior Airman Kyla Gifford
30th Space Wing Public Affairs


11/5/2015 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- Two Vandenberg Airmen recently helped rescue a family in Goleta, Calif.

While driving along Highway 101 on Oct. 25, Staff Sgt. Bryan Karason, 30th Force Support Squadron NCOIC of assignments, and Senior Airman Sarah Cabrera, 614th Air and Space Operations Center administrator, noticed what looked like flames on the side of the road.

"As we drove a little closer we noticed there was an enormous dust cloud that was generated from a car that had swerved off the road and onto a hill off the expressway, causing it to flip over," said Karason.

Karason immediately pulled his car to the side of the highway, and swiftly approached the scene with Cabrera.

"Initially approaching the car I assumed that everyone was out of the car but then I saw a gentleman kicking open the rear passenger door," said Karason. "Cabrera yelled for one of the members at the scene to call 911. Arriving to the car, the gentleman was in shock and was expressing that there were more individuals located inside the vehicle. He didn't speak English so Cabrera helped with the language barrier and started to communicate in Spanish."

After quickly assessing the situation, the Airmen sprung to action using Self-Aid and Buddy Care techniques.

"I saw a young girl in the backseat, and also heard the screaming of a woman coming from the front passenger seat," said Karason. "Another individual on the scene assisted me with getting the young girl out, and while he tended to her, I responded to the woman and got her out of the passenger seat. Once cleared from the wrecked car, we laid her flat on a blanket, treated her for shock and made sure she didn't move any part of her body to prevent more bodily injury."

When the first responders and paramedics arrived on scene, Cabrera was the only person on site who was able to overcome the language barrier and translate for the victims.

"The cops took me to the side to tell me questions to ask the victims," said Cabrera. "What were their names, dates of birth, current address and other important information they needed."

Cabrera is thankful for her military experience, helping her triumph in a difficult situation.

"We practice situational awareness on and off base, and in this case it happened to be off-base," said Cabrera. "We put our training to the test, and were able to quickly assess the situation and pull a family out of the car to safety."

Cabrera hopes this situation will help shine light on the importance of Air Force training and expand knowledge about different languages and cultures.

"Not only does it open up a new world of opportunities for your career and for yourself, but you never know when you will actually use it," said Cabrera. "In this situation, I was the only one communicating between the crash victims and first responders - because I knew a second language, I was able to help."

The two Airmen remain humble, attributing their quick thinking to military training and experience.

"I would have to say the training the Air Force has provided just took over," said Karason. "I just felt like I knew what to do and what had to be done, and with the help of Cabrera and a couple other individuals we were able to assist the best we could."

Providing fast and effective care, while assisting and supporting to the family, Karason and Cabrera proved the quality of today's American Airmen.

"I am a firm advocate that in our training, you practice how you play," said Karason. "When we are called on, there is no confusion, we just act."

Perfectly wounded

by Staff Sgt. Rachelle Blake
55th Wing Public Affairs


11/3/2015 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb.  -- The Offutt Diversity Team hosted a National Disability Employment Awareness Month Lunch and Learn Oct. 28 at the Patriot Club with several guest speakers including two wounded warriors.

The first of the four guest speakers was John Weinberg, a wounded warrior, who was medically retired in 2008 after serving 12 years in the Army infantry. Before his unit deployed to Afghanistan, he was severely injured during a field exercise, leaving him a quadriplegic.

"We were out doing a live-fire exercise and the last thing I remember was talking on the radio to the platoon leader and telling him we saw the objective and we were going to start the assault," said Weinburg. "The driver must have thought I was talking to him and starting making the turn and clipped a tree, causing the tree to fall on top of the vehicle."

He spent more than six months in the hospital and had metal plates placed in his neck and eight screws into his vertebrae. Weinburg went on to talk about the challenges of being wheelchair-bound.

"When I first got out of the hospital, my kids were 5, 3 and 2. They had no idea what I was going through," he said. "They would come to me and ask, 'Dad, can you open my juice box? Dad, can you button my shirt? Dad, can you tie my shoes?' It made me feel like a bad dad."

Weinburg continued to struggle and in 2010 attempted suicide.

"Thank God I failed," he said. "Pride. That was my problem."

Weinburg finally got the help he needed.

"They sent me to a lock-down PTSD program," he said. "It helped me out drastically. Now I just live day-to-day and don't let anything stop me. My mom always said, 'God doesn't give you anything you can't handle.'"

He said the most important thing he learned was suicide was a permanent fix to a temporary problem.

Weinberg still has days he feels sorry for himself, but he reminds himself that there are always other who have it worse. In the deployment following his injury, his unit lost nine soldiers who were also his close friends.

"One of them just had a brand new baby, she wasn't even 3 or 4 months old. His daughter will never have the opportunity to grow up with him," said Weinberg. "In the infantry we had a saying, 'take a knee, face out, drink water and get back up and keep going.'"

Following his speech Todd Dawson, 55th Medical Support Squadron recovery care coordinator, spoke about the services he offers members transitioning out of the military.

"I want to take care of all non-medical needs," said Dawson. "We want to make sure as members are transitioning out of the military, they are getting out on solid ground. We want to talk about things such as jobs, education, goals and finances. We want to start looking at these things way early on."

Next, the audience heard from John Galbarith, 55th Force Support Squadron Airman and Family Readiness community readiness technician, who also does work with wounded warriors.

He spoke of an Army sergeant he had worked with in the past who lost everything, because he wasn't willing to reach out and get help with his PTSD.

"At the end of the day he did what his country asked him to do and sacrificed a part of himself in doing it," said Galbarith. "Most wounded warriors are no different. They didn't find their disabilities, their disabilities found them. These airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines have to rediscover who they are and where they fit in."

Finally, Staff Sgt. Troy Green, 139th Security Forces Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, and Purple Heart recipient, spoke on his struggles with PTSD. After serving several years in the Air Force, he made the decision to join the Army and found himself at a forward operating base in Afghanistan.

It wasn't long before the base came under attack. During the initial explosion, Green suffered a concussion, traumatic brain injury and shattered two discs, but still continued to fight and assist the wounded until the forward operating base was secured.

"I checked a lot off of my combat bucket list that day," Green said. "I got to see a helicopter fly over and launch a bunch of rockets. I got to see a sniper in action. I got to see a guy self-detonate. It was a weird bucket list. But all that happened in about a span of an hour."

After his unit returned home, they were given five days of leave and then were expected to return to work. There wasn't much in the way of helping them deal with their new issues.

Luckily, Green said he had his wife. He said she was his biggest savior.

But, Green recognizes that not everyone has someone and has become an activist for veteran's needs.

He just finished a 203-mile rucksack march across the state of Missouri and raised more than $7,000 for a veteran's home. He and his wife are also starting a non-profit organization called "Perfectly Wounded" with all proceeds going to support wounded warriors.

Since his deployment, Green switched back to the Air Force and is due to deploy again shortly.

"I am glad to know if something were to happen to one of my [troops], I know where to go know," said Green. "That was one of the problems we had, we didn't know where to go or what to do."

Dunford: U.S. Engagement in Pacific ‘Unprecedented’



By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

TOKYO, November 4, 2015 — Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. met with Japanese leaders here today to discuss freedom of navigation, changes to the U.S.-Japan alliance and threats and opportunities in the region.

Dunford met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, State Minister of Defense Kenjo Wakamiya and Maritime Self-Defense Force Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, the chief of defense, during a round of visits.

“We talked about the Pacific, we talked about their assessment of the challenges in Asia,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in an interview following the meetings. “Frankly, they line up pretty well with how we see it.”

Freedom of Navigation

Dunford said he discussed the issue of freedom of navigation with Prime Minister Abe. The general referred to last week’s passage of the USS Lassen within 12 miles of Subi Reef -- an artificial island China has built in the Spratly archipelago.

The passage, the chairman said, “was not provocative. We made it very clear that the Global Commons is accessible to everybody in accordance to international laws.”

Dunford added, “The Japanese support what we did and they believe what we did is important. They believe we ought to continue to do that.”

The chairman said he and the Japanese leaders also discussed the challenges posed by China, Russia and North Korea.

The threats are pushing Japan to more closely cooperate with others in the region, Dunford said, adding that he dug deep in discussing Japan’s trilateral relationships. These are the United States, Japan and Australia; the U.S., Japan and the Philippines and the U.S., Japan and South Korea.

His meeting with Japanese leaders was the first since Japan passed legislation in September that will allow the country to play a greater role in global security affairs.

“Clearly everyone recognizes that we had a very good relationship with the Japanese before this,” Dunford said. “But this will open up possibilities for more integration in areas that we were proscribed from actually dealing with them in the past.”

The legislation will take effect in the spring and the chairman believes it will allow U.S. and Japanese troops to take their cooperation to new levels.

Alliance’s Importance on the Rise

Kawano hosted a full-honors arrival ceremony at the defense ministry for Dunford. The Japanese admiral told the chairman he wanted to deepen the military-to-military relationship between the two countries.

“The situation in the Asia-Pacific region is severe and that is why the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance is increasing,” Kawano said through an interpreter at the start of the meeting with the general.

“I believe this alliance will contribute to maintaining peace and stability through the region,” he said. “So we would like to make the effort to contribute to the peace and stability not only in this region, but throughout the world.”

Also at the meeting, Dunford said this visit, just a month into his term as chairman, reflects of the importance the United States places on the alliance.

“We have had a relationship with the Japanese Self-Defense Forces for many years, but I don’t think it has ever been more important than it is today,” the chairman said.

There are many challenges in the region, he said, and Japan and the United States must work together to overcome them. But, Dunford added, “there are also opportunities, and those are based on the strength of our alliance.”

Dunford said he was pleased with the overall state of U.S. relations in Northwest Asia. Before coming to Japan, he visited South Korea for the annual Military Committee Meeting.

“My perspective on the trip … is that the relationships at every level were really in pretty good shape,” he said. “The amount of engagement that we have in the Pacific … is unprecedented.”

MSC's Lewis and Clark Arrives in Vanuatu for Continuing Support of KOA MOANA 15-3



By Grady T. Fontana, Military Sealift Command Far East

LUGANVILLE, Republic of Vanuatu (NNS) -- The U.S. Ambassador to Vanuatu Walter E. North attended Exercise KOA MOANA 15-3 Vanuatu opening ceremony at the Vanuatu Police Force here, Nov. 4.

"The waters of the South Pacific are home to some of the riches areas of marine biodiversity and fishery resources, but their vast expanse makes them difficult to patrol and police," said Ambassador North, who is also U.S. ambassador to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. "Protecting these waterways for sustainable use and legal use by all parties is not only in the interest of Vanuatu, it's in the interest of the United States."

Military Sealift Command's dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1) anchored off the coast of Vanuatu and offloaded Marines and equipment yesterday as part of her continuing support of the exercise.

In Vanuatu, the Marines will continue with their military-to-law enforcement engagements, while members of the Navy and Coast Guard will concurrently participate in Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI) operations, just as they did in Fiji and Kiribati, along with their host nation partners.

"As a signal of our enduring commitment to the Pacific, this exercise, with about 120 U.S. Marines, joining their colleagues from the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, and in partnership with the Vanuatu authorities, will conduct operation to help combat transnational crime within Vanuatu's exclusive economic zone," said the ambassador. "The combined teams will look for potential violations and board vessels for further inspection."

The first portion of the exercise was in the Tahiti in September, followed by legs in Fiji and Kiribati in October where Marines conducted theater security cooperation (TSC) activities with those host nation partners.

After Vanuatu, Lewis and Clark, which is also part of Maritime Prepositioning Ships Squadron TWO (MPSRON-2), will carry her personnel and cargo to Timor Leste for more TSC events, then return to her home port in Diego Garcia early December.

"The KOA MOANA exercise is looking at security force relations to expose our Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard elements, in this very interesting environment, to see how we might improve our capacity to work together [with host nations] in natural disasters, to combat transnational crime and other illegal activities like unregulated and unreported fishing by bolstering law enforcement programs through on-shore training and potential boarding of commercial vessels nearby, said North."

During the OMSI operations in Kiribati, the combined Tarawa Maritime Police unit and U.S. Coast Guard enforcement officers boarded nine fishing vessels. Of those nine, the Tarawa Maritime Police unit identified five boats with violations.

Those violations ranged from boats not having proper documentation or licenses to fish in the Kiribati exclusive economic zone, to vessels not having seabird or turtle mitigation measures on board.

OMSI is a secretary of defense program aimed to diminish transnational illegal activity on the high seas and enhance regional security and interoperability with partner nations.

Exercise KM 15-3 is a four-month international exercise with participants from the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and host nation participants from various countries in the Pacific Island Nations of Oceania.

COMPSRON 2, currently embarked in USNS Lewis and Clark and operating in the Southern Eastern Pacific, maintains tactical control of the 10 ships that are forward deployed to Diego Garcia and carrying afloat prepositioned U.S. military cargo for the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Air Force. The squadron's mission is to enable the force from the sea by providing swift and effective transportation of vital equipment and supplies for designated operations.

MSC operates approximately 115 non-combatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.