Monday, November 16, 2015

First ever Inter-European Air Forces Academy course begins in Bulgaria

11/12/2015 - SOFIA, Bulgaria -- U.S. Air Forces in Europe started its first ever Inter-European Air Forces Academy course Nov. 2, 2015.

IEAFA's mission is to provide education and training to Air Force personnel from NATO and Partnership for Peace nations.

"IEAFA supports improved NATO coalition aviation operations through increased professional development of both combat and support forces," said Lt. Col. Chris Erickson, IEAFA Commandant. "The increased interaction at the junior officer and senior NCO level will dramatically increase and strengthen personal bonds of NATO airmen over time and this will promote improved relations at all levels of Allied Air Forces."

Commander of the Bulgarian Air Force, Maj. Gen. Rumen Radev, welcomed the first class of 23 students from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia and Hungary.

Senior leaders involved in the IEAFA program believe that, increasing our combined training through IEAFA will build future capabilities by developing the most important asset - people.

"By training officers and non-commissioned officers from different nations in parallel, the new IEAFA program seeks to build trust between the ranks and among different nationalities," said Defense Attaché, Colonel James Crowhurst. He thanked the Inter-European Air Forces Academy leadership for hosting the course and their emphasis on developing officers and NCOs in their leadership roles.

Erickson also stressed the importance of professional military education for the development of both officer and non-commissioned officers and how this five NATO nation training event provides a valuable opportunity for the US instructors to learn from Allied air force personnel.

IEAFA will offer the full Squadron Officer School and NCOA courses starting in 2016 at its permanent classrooms near Ramstein AB in Germany.

Airmen honor vets at base cemetery

by Senior Airman Jason Wiese
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

11/10/2015 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- "Once and Airman, always an Airman," is a common mantra in the U.S. Air Force and for Soldiers, Sailors and Marines too. This phrase holds true for the service men and women who are no longer with us, but who will always remembered."

Airmen of the 90th Missile Wing Honor Guard and 90th Force Support Squadron observed on Veterans Day by placing an American Flag at each veteran's grave in the base cemetery and rendering a salute to each Nov. 9.

"They paved the way for us to be here," said Tech. Sgt. Amy Gray, 90th Force Support Squadron Sustainment Services Flight NCO-in-charge. "It's a tradition here and all over the U.S."

Mighty Ninety Airmen continue this tradition for Memorial Day and Veterans Day each year.

21st SW collaborates with UCCS design students

by Rob Bussard
21st Wing Public Affairs

11/16/2015 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- With today's shrinking budgets and lack of resources, a timely and unequaled opportunity between Peterson Air Force Base and the local Colorado Springs community has grown.

Nine hopeful University of Colorado Colorado Springs visual art students submitted sculpture ideas to 21st Space Wing leadership Nov. 3 as part of a unique partnership to design a replacement for the empty pedestal of the now defunct Peterson AFB east gate marquee.

"We wanted to get away from your typical plaque on a rock," said Matt Hamilton, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron facilities excellence architect. "A sculpture that depicts the space command mission might do well."

With no sculptors on his facilities excellence team, he said he thought of using the community as a resource and had the idea that it be great if the base could partner with some sculpture students who planned on doing this for a living'

With that in mind, Hamilton called UCCS visual arts professor Matt Barton to discuss the idea of engaging students in a project to design a replacement for the marquee.

"This is not a money-changing-hands kind of thing," Hamilton said to Barton. "It'll help your students get some real-world experience and also give us some great ideas to move forward with."

Barton said he believed this would be a hugely beneficial learning experience for his students and a good career résumé portfolio piece for them. It was an opportunity not to be missed.

This was an opportunity to give them an expericnce they wouldn't get elsewhere, Barton said.

"If they've done something like this along the way, when they graduate there are opportunities that come up where they can show a completed public work."

Hamilton said he initially provided Barton's team of students with a handbook describing the history and timeline of Peterson and the 21st SW, which they used to design and create various illustrations and models. Many students also used the 21st SW shield colors of yellow, blue and red in their work.

Representing Peterson AFB leadership, the Col. Reginald Ash, 21st Mission Support Group commander and several Peterson AFB facilities architects went on the trip to the visual arts sculpture department on the UCCS campus. There they attended a presentation by the students on their individual design concepts.

Concepts ranged widely from painted or powder coated metals to glass and brushed aluminum. Lighting was also considered, mostly solar powered types.

Some students felt an interactive piece would be of value to viewers while others created an abstract. One student's vision was to have an actual outdoor room-like structure that would blend in with the stars at night.

The students attempted to create their designs in such a way to describe the 21st SW mission or Air Force core values.

"The goal of my sculpture is to align the work with the Airmen's Creed using light, color and form," said sculpture student Su Cho.

Ash and the 21st CES architects reviewed all the student's individual works and asked questions to ensure they understood what each student's vision represented. He was impressed.

"Had my people brought me any single one of these and said 'hey boss, here's what we picked,' I would have said 'well that's great, spot on,'" said Ash. "From my perspective it's all really great work and I'll be looking where I can put more of these things on the base."

After the presentation, Barton offered to send copies of all student work for review by Col. Douglas A. Schiess, 21st SW Commander, who may decide to pick one of the designs to place on the old marquee's pedestal.

Barton said he hopes the partnership continues even if no design is selected, and that future students are given more opportunities like this.

If one of the designs is selected and funded, that student will have designed a legacy sculpture on a very important asset to the Air Force as well as the city of Colorado Springs - Peterson Air Force Base.

Veterans in Blue: honoring those who served

By Senior Airman Hailey Haux, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Command Information

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force maintains a special portrait display in the Pentagon as part of its commitment to honoring the devotion and service of veterans. Volume VI will replace volume V of the Veterans in Blue project this November.

The project started in 2010 as a way to honor pioneers of the Air Force, and has continued to honor Airmen like former Capt. John M. Hayes, now the 24th Congressional District of Texas military and veterans affairs liaison, who recently toured the display.

“It’s pretty impressive and amazing to be part of this group,” Hayes said. “It brings back a lot of Air Force memories -- the training and leadership and a lot of values that actually last through today.”

The project, run by the Air Force Public Affairs Agency, is in its sixth year and has told 144 Air Force veterans’ stories. The 1st Combat Camera Squadron at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, will debut this year’s program.

Volume VI will feature leaders in government, multiple industry CEOs, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, as well as veterans from World War II, the Korea and Vietnam wars, and many others who continue making an impact on society long after their Air Force careers are finished.

“Veterans in Blue is a program which connects the past with the present,” said Larry Clavette, the director of the Air Force Public Affairs Agency. “This year’s program will also feature many veterans telling their stories via video to compliment the classic photo and biography each veteran has had in the past. It’s a truly unique program which shows our Airmen, both past and present, they are and were part of Air Force history and contributed to making our organization great. This program is a guiding path for future generations of Airmen to remember, and honor, their past.”

Displayed in a busy corridor of the Pentagon, the Veterans in Blue selectees’ portraits often gain the attention of passersby who read the short stories of a few veterans.

“I’ve read a lot of the stories and they are really informative of all the significant things these people have done,” said Army Col. Linda Kotulan, an Army service representative to the Defense Business Board. “All these people aren’t all generals or senior leaders, but that’s important because it shows the breadth of the Air Force population.”

The Veterans in Blue mission states the legacy of veterans continues to grow to this day as the Air Force builds a future Airmen will be proud to lead and serve in.

“This is very important, not only for Air Force publicity, but it’s also good to recognize the veterans who are a big part of my life now, too,” said Hayes, who served in Vietnam, flew 166 combat missions and earned a Distinguished Flying Cross. “We can’t do enough for our veterans, especially when you emphasize the Air Force part in these veterans’ lives … and in mine.”

Past Veterans in Blue selectees include Airmen such as Buzz Aldrin, the second person to set foot on the moon; World War II veterans like Doolittle Raider Richard Cole; and Medal of Honor recipients such as George “Bud” Day.

Also among some of the finest and most courageous are veterans such as retired Maj. Suzanne LaForest, medical; retired Senior Master Sgt. Peter Karpawitz-Godt, supply; and former Tech. Sgt. Tap Gaoteote, aircraft armament systems.

“I’ve wanted to see this for a long time,” Hayes said, taking a quick glance at his portrait on the wall. “Looking at it on the computer is something different than actually seeing it in person. It’s very impressive, and I got to visit the Pentagon and as a military veteran’s liaison for my congressman, it’s always important for me to visit with my contacts here. But this is just a special treat to see this.”

Although nominations for Veterans in Blue Volume VI have already been submitted, this is an annual project. Nominations for Volume VII are now open and will be submitted next year through Air Force public affairs offices around the world.

New AMC command chief is proud to be an Airman

by Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade
Headquarters Air Mobility Command

11/16/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- "Airman up!" is a phrase that Air Mobility Command can expect to hear often from the new command chief.

Chief Master Sgt. Shelina Frey loves being an Airman and expects others to hold their head up high, she said.  

"I want our Airmen, with a big 'A', to be proud ... to know the Airman's Creed and to sing the Air Force song."

The chief arrived Nov. 9 after serving at 7th Air Force at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea.  Although AMC's mission is different, she said her favorite aspect of the job will remain the same:  getting out from behind her desk and spending quality time with those who serve.

"That's when you really hear how they feel about any and everything," Frey said.  "To inspire Airmen to be innovative, first you have to figure out what their concerns are. ... What motivates them to get up every day, to want to come to work, and what keeps them up at night?

"Then you have peel the onion back, one layer at a time -- not do the cookie-cutter thing we sometimes do of treating Airmen all the same," she said.

Since she was a child, Frey's parents encouraged her to believe in her unique qualities by defining who she was and not allowing others' perceptions to define this for her, she said. 

"There so many things going on in this world. If you try and adjust yourself to every change, then you will never know who you are. But if you get to know 'you' and have self-respect, everything will fall into place," she said.

Self-respect, loyalty and passion are values instilled by Frey's parents.  She said she grew up the oldest of three children in a safe neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana, where kids played outside after the street lights came on. She went to church and had family dinners often, and to this day her favorite dish to cook is red beans and rice with fried chicken.

"We are not defined by our jobs, we are defined by who we are. I learned early on our Airmen struggle with this.  But if you know who you are, then other people will be able to know who you are. It will also help you develop and figure out who you want to be in the future," Frey said.

The chief's future as an Airman was like many paths of self-discovery.  It took a while.  She left a teacher education program in college to work in the same hospital where her mother worked.  In 1984, after a discussion with her uncle in the Army and some research, she joined the Louisiana Air National Guard as a vehicle maintainer.

One year into the Guard, she knew she wanted more and began pursing active duty. Then on May 14, 1987, at 25 years old, she was on her way to her first duty station as an active duty Airman.

"I believe being in the Air Force was my 'calling,'" Frey said.  "I love being an Airman!"

Frey is AMC's first African American woman to fill the position of command chief.  She said this is an honor, but being an African American woman is an important part of many qualities that make up who she is. 

"More than I am excited to be the first African American female command chief, I am excited to be an Airman who is able to impact and influence change. I am Airman, Chief, Command Chief, African American, female ... all those things together is what makes this exciting." Frey said.

She is also excited to inspire Airmen to be ready.

"They can expect me to engage with them directly and indirectly," Frey said.  "They can expect me to be approachable and passionate about their needs. And last, to focus on maintaining a certain level of readiness.

"We never know where we will be called upon, because the AMC mission is global. When the bell rings, you better be ready."

Yokota enhances capabilities through exercise

By Senior Airman David Owsianka, 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs / Published November 14, 2015

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- Members of the 374th Airlift Wing participated in exercise Vigilant Ace 16 from Nov. 1-10, in conjunction with a Samurai Readiness Inspection at Yokota Air Base.

Vigilant Ace is a large-scale exercise on the Korean Peninsula designed to enhance the interoperability of U.S. and allied forces through combined combat training.

Part of Yokota's mission is to be ready for any type of contingency, and exercises ensure the base is prepared to complete its mission.

"Our airlifters brought Yokota's unique and highly skilled air drop capabilities to this strategic exercise," said Col. Douglas DeLaMater, the 374th AW commander. "The training allowed us to perform our own readiness inspections to test and enhance specific wartime mission capabilities."

As the western Pacific mobility hub, Yokota received and redeployed forces in support of the exercise and performed local tactical training with the C-130 Hercules. Yokota's ability to accept follow-on forces is a vital strategic capability to U.S. forces and allies in any future contingency, which was tested during the exercise.

The 374th AW worked alongside their Air National Guard teammates and conducted 75 missions, generated 186 sorties totaling over 500 flying hours to move more than 776,000 pounds, including 205 pallets and over 1,200 passengers.

One of the key technological advantages the Air Force has over potential adversaries is the ability to operate effectively at night, and Yokota's participation in Vigilant Ace gave Yokota's Airmen the ability to utilize that capability during realistic training scenarios.

"Our night capabilities must be practiced on occasion to ensure they are a realistic deterrent to antagonistic behavior," said Maj. Mark Nexon, the 374th Airlift Squadron assistant director of operations. "This also allows further training for night operations in support of humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions in Japan and the entire Indo-Asia Pacific region."

While the aircraft completed missions, maintainers worked tirelessly around-the-clock to generate aircraft. Maintainers with the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron ensured the aircraft were ready to successfully perform operations.

"It feels good to strenuously work alongside fellow maintainers to help ensure pilots are able to fly their sorties," said Airman 1st Class Austin Brill, a 374th AMXS aircraft hydraulic systems journeyman. "This helps us gain experience on what it's like to generate sorties and ensuring the aircraft are in top shape for missions."

In addition to turning aircraft and flying missions, other Yokota members trained and practiced skillsets to ensure the base is ready to respond to potential real-world contingencies.

Medical personnel participated in a mass casualty exercise, giving them a chance to practice a variety of treatments on more than 20 mock victims. The training also included a full hospital expansion to facilitate those personnel.

"The training was important because it helps ensure that each medic is trained to respond and execute patient evacuation in the area of operation and support our mission here," said Tech. Sgt. Michelle Mickens, the 374th Surgical Operations Squadron otolaryngology clinic NCO in charge. "Having the training as realistic as possible helps us strengthen our ability to swiftly respond to potential contingencies in the future."

Vigilant Ace also allowed Yokota Airmen to improve their operational ability alongside service members from other bases.

"This was a great opportunity for us to work together as one multi-base team focused on a common goal of preparing for potential contingencies or humanitarian relief operations," Nexon said. "The exercise also helped us validate each individual unit's ability to operate together at Yokota."

Overall, the unique exercise was a successful test of Yokota's ability to provide airlift throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific region, according to DeLaMater.

"Yokota played a vital role over the course of the exercise as we built the air bridge that allowed forces to arrive in theater and then forward deploy to the Korean Peninsula during this realistic training scenario," DeLaMater said.

Mobility airmen, nations gather exercise Gunfighter Flag

by Airman 1st Class Amber Carter
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

11/13/2015 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- Airmen from Travis Air Force Base, California, recently participated alongside other Airmen from various bases, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy and the Singapore air force, in the week-long total-force exercise Gunfighter Flag.

The joint advanced combat operations training exercise took place from Nov. 2 to 6 near Mountain Home AFB, Idaho.

"Approximately 13 different airframes participated," said Capt. Chad Murray, 6th Air Refueling Squadron chief of tactics. "Exercise Gunfighter Flag is part of Red Flag geared towards different combat situations."

Red Flag is the Air Forces premier air-to-air combat training exercise. Participants often include both United States and allied nation's combat forces.

"The training touched on all combat situations such as offensive, defensive counter air, destruction of enemy air defenses, high value targeting and search and rescue," Murray said. "Our role is contributing different assets, helping support the fight in terms of operating in a contested environment by keeping the tankers close to the fight but not too close that they will be a target. We also kept track of the refueling operations."

Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Materiel Command participated alongside the Air National Guard, Army National Guard, U.S. Navy and the Republic of Singapore air force unit, to complete the exercise.

"This kind of exercise allows for different airframes and capabilities from the Air Force to come together and work together to figure out what everyone's limitations are," Murray said. "As a tanker pilot, knowing their limitations helps to make the mission more effective."

Another benefit was the specialized training for the boom operators.

"Refueling fighters is a challenge because they move fast and we have to keep up with their speed," said Airman 1st Class Nathaniel Forrider, 6th ARS boom operator student who participated in exercise Gunfighter Flag.

Training as a boom operator involves different phases of training and specific tasks that must be performed before they can be deployable.

"They come up in flights instead of one at a time when compared to heavies like another KC-10 and the receptacle is smaller," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Long, 6th ARS boom operator instructor. "The students will get a chance to refuel fighters during the day and at night which is part of their qualification training to go from a flying boom, local refuels, to mission boom, world-wide refuels."

Airframes such as the KC-10 Extender, C-5M Super Galaxy, RQ-4 Global Hawk, HH-60 Pave Hawk, E-3 Sentry, EA-6B Prowler and multiple F-15 models worked together to achieve the same goal.

"We got a chance to operate with players that we don't normally get to train with at Travis," Murray said. "Without question, we practice like we play to make sure we are always ready. Joint training is great because when we get downrange there is no delineation of services. We may wear different patches but we are fighting the same war. Understanding the differences of the services is helpful and understanding that we are much more effective together is important to accomplishing every mission."

Security Forces Flawless Performance

by Senior Airman Duane Morgan
174th Attack Wing

11/12/2015 - HANCOCK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. -- Approximately 26 Airmen from the 174th Attack Wing's Security Forces Squadron deployed to Al Udeid Air Base in support of Operations INHERENT RESOLVE and FREEDOM'S SENTINEL from January 22, to August 5.

"For a majority of our Security Forces troops, this was their first time ever deploying," said Master Sgt. Christopher, 174th Attack Wing SFS superintendent.

In preparation for their deployment, the Airmen attended a 3-week combat skills preparation course at the regional training center located at Fort Bliss, Texas. While at the center, the Airmen trained on a variety of combat skills needed to defend air bases in combat zones and other austere operating locations.

Following the combat skills training at Fort Bliss, the Airmen received additional training in trauma and casualty care, expeditionary entry control points and vehicle searches in Baumholder, Germany.

Once deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, the Airmen became a part of a 145-person flight made up of active duty, guard and reserve from 24 different bases around the globe.

During their deployment, the Airmen performed various duties such as safeguarding 11,000 multinational forces and securing over 100 combat aircraft, covering over 210 square miles.

While performing their duties, Airmen from the 174th were able to be work with and train alongside the local Qatari security forces.

"Team Syracuse represented the 174th ATKW well," said Christopher. "Our efforts ensured the success of missions stretching across the entire Air Force Central Command area of responsibility."

Some of the accomplishments by members of the wing included:

Assigned to the Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron female engagement team, SrA Sarah trained and mentored the first class of Qatari Female Police at the Qatari National Police Academy located in Doha.

SSgt Mason and SrA Alec worked jointly with the Qatar National Police providing armed vehicle escort for the OIR Air Coalition Conference, which brought in more than 100 Distinguished Visitors from over 22 nations.

SSgt Christopher responded and extinguished a burning building while off duty. Christopher received the Air Force Central Command and Air Combat Command Ground Safety Award. He also accepted a letter of appreciation from Lieutenant General Hesterman, the current assistant vice chief of staff and director.

TSgt Jason and A1C Nicholas participated in the first joint active shooter exercise involving ESFS and Special Operations Command personnel.

In regards to their accomplishments, Christopher stated that he felt that all of the Airmen from the 174th did an outstanding job and had performed their duties flawlessly throughout their deployment.

"I couldn't be more proud of being part of such a professional group of Defenders," said Christopher.