Military News

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

McConnell showcases mission to AMC commander, civic leaders

by Senior Airman Tara Fadenrecht
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


11/18/2015 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan.  -- Viewing the legacy of the KC-135 Stratotanker and the future home of the KC-46 Pegasus, the Air Mobility Command commander, AMC command chief and 19 civic leaders from AMC wings across the country toured McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., Nov. 16-18 to see the premier total force team in action.

"Visiting McConnell provided a first-hand look at where we are and where we are going in regards to tanker recapitalization," said Gen. Carlton Everhart, AMC commander. "I was privileged to showcase the Air Force's first home to the KC-46 to our civic leaders in an effort to educate and inform them on our nation's reliance on air mobility and the importance of aerial refueling."

During the tour, attendees enhanced their knowledge of the base's current and future aerial refueling capacity and capabilities. Events included breakfast with McConnell Airmen and an inside look at what goes into maintaining a KC-135. Everhart and his civic leaders also took a flight on a KC-135 to watch an aerial refueling and later operated a KC-46 simulator. The group also heard success stories related to leveraging resources with total force partners, the 931st Air Refueling Group and 184th Intelligence Wing.

The civic leader program establishes positive relationships between Air Force leaders and leaders within the civilian community in order to maximize opportunities to share the Air Force story, people and mission.  Inviting AMC civic leaders to tour McConnell was just one way to increase public awareness of Air Force missions, policies and programs.

"This has been a wonderful event, and I think we're very fortunate because we do have this new mission to show, and that's energizing and exciting," said Pat Gallagher, Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce government relations manager and 22nd Air Refueling Wing civic leader. "The [other] civic leaders that I have spoken with have been so impressed with McConnell and what's going on here."

Team McConnell welcomed the opportunity to showcase what makes the base the tanker center for excellence. The 22nd ARW manages to lead 42 percent of AMC refueling missions with only 14 percent of the Air Force's KC-135 fleet and was recently awarded the Meritorious Unit Award for the seventh straight year.

"Thanks to all who put in the hard work and time to make this a successful visit and highlight the work done with the 60-year old KC-135 and the bed down of the KC-46, which will be the future in aerial refueling.," said Col. Albert Miller, 22nd ARW commander. "Conversations with strategic advocates provide us the opportunity to showcase not only the machines that make the mission happen, but the dedication and hard work of our Airmen."

Dunford Chooses Korea-Based Sergeant Major as Next Senior Enlisted Advisor



DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, November 18, 2015 — Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell has been selected to succeed Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia and serve as the third senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. announced today.

"All of the candidates epitomize senior enlisted leadership," Dunford said. "Sergeant Major Troxell is someone soldiers, airmen, Marines and sailors can look up to. He can inspire people, and he is someone I trust to tell me things straight."         

Troxell is the command senior enlisted leader of the United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and United States Forces Korea, stationed in Yongsan, South Korea. He enlisted in the Army in 1982 as an armored reconnaissance specialist and has served in numerous units throughout his career. He also served five combat tours of duty in Operation Just Cause, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, two tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom and one in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Principal Advisor on Enlisted Matters

As the SEAC, Troxell will serve as the armed forces' most senior noncommissioned officer and the principal military advisor to the chairman and the secretary of defense on all matters involving joint and combined total force integration, utilization, health of the force and joint development for enlisted personnel.

He will be the third enlisted service member to hold the position. Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. "Joe" Gainey was the first to hold the position from Oct. 1, 2005, until he retired in April 2008, and Battaglia, who was sworn in Sept. 30, 2011, is retiring.

Force of the Future Looks to Maintain U.S. Advantages



By Jim Garamone DoD News Features, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, November 18, 2015 — “Permeability” is a word that will be heard a lot in relation to Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s new Force of the Future program.

Brad Carson, one of the architects of the program and the acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, spoke about the concept and the program during a recent interview.

DoD officials are looking for permeability between the private and public sector, between the active-duty force and the reserve components and between military and civilian life.

U.S. Military is Superb

The baseline for the Force of the Future is today’s military: it is superb, Carson said. In the past 14 years, DoD has fought two wars, maintained alliances around the globe and responded to humanitarian disasters in Japan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Haiti, Liberia and the United States.

While, technology and systems play a part in American military dominance, it is the people of the department that are the real advantage. “There is no guarantee that will continue in the future,” Carson said. The Force of the Future is designed to ensure DoD maintains its most precious resource: its people, he said.

The program covers a number of different initiatives to ensure the military remains attractive to those who wish to serve. This runs from putting in place a blended military retirement system to attracting the best and brightest civilian employees. It also seeks to incorporate the best practices from the private sector.

Defense Digital Service

Carson called one of the initiatives, the Defense Digital Service, potentially transformative. The department will bring in technology entrepreneurs for a few months or years to share their product development or project management skills.

“I envision that Defense Digital Services will be mostly made up of tech people who come in from the outside for a very short time,” he said. “It’s quite possible that defense employees will work alongside them, but the core of the DDS will be tech workers, tech entrepreneurs -- skilled IT professionals working at America’s leading companies.”

The key is small groups working discrete problems, he said, noting tech companies today use “agile development” as their mantra, employing small teams that get products designed and in use quickly.

Effecting Change

“The only way change ever happens is when small groups are committed to it,” the undersecretary said. “In Silicon Valley they say any group that can eat more than two pizzas at a time is too large to get anything done.”

The world-shattering products that Americans use in daily life began with a few men and women working on them. “Then the power of the idea, the beauty of the product sells itself,” he said. “And that’s what we envision here. There are great products that we can get DDS to work on. The power of the skills they bring in will help change the culture and have a direct impact on some of the knottiest problems that we have.”

Almost everything the department does now is embedded with information technology, from digitizing and sharing health records to forming databases for documenting sexual assault.

How these teams approach problems will rub off on DoD employees, Carson said. “There are alternative ways to think about problems, there are alternative ways to go about procurement. They will bring in the best practices that they see every day [and] that they take for granted at their companies,” he said.

An example is at Google and Facebook. On their first day, new employees are expected to write code and apply it to products. In DoD, that might not happen for a year. “They are doing things in smaller batches, iteratively, if it fails they recalibrate,” he said. “It’s just a different way to do business -- a better way to do business, I think.”

Coming Initiatives

The blended military retirement system kicks in Jan. 1, 2018. Those on duty before then will continue to be covered by the current retirement system.

“I think the force will find this to be a great benefit to them and it’s a change all for the better,” Carson said. “While those currently serving will not be affected by the current retirement changes, ... if you served less than 12 years, you will have the opportunity to change over into the blended retirement system, [but] no one will be compelled to do so.”

Another initiative is the entrepreneur-in-residence program. This is a pilot program that will embed entrepreneurs inside DoD to examine some chronic problems within the department, Carson said. “I expect they will be working at the intersection of defense policy and business,” he said. “I really envision it that we bring people in who are very creative, who are extraordinarily energetic. And we say, ‘We’re setting you loose. Go find interesting projects you think you might add value to.’ We want people who are divergent thinkers, who can energize the building.”

The Force of the Future will expand the career intermission program. This program allows personnel to take sabbaticals from the military to raise a family, get a new degree or explore other career opportunities. “I don’t envision there will ever be a world where a large portion of the force will take a sabbatical, but I do think you will see some of the most important people who will rise over time to the senior leadership of the services will take sabbaticals,” he said.

Participants would transfer to the individual ready reserve and wouldn’t count against active-duty end strength. They would still be covered under TRICARE, and they would shift year group so promotion potential is not thwarted, he said. Carson added that he would like to see the services experiment with eliminating the “pay back” obligation under the program.

Shifting Between Active-Duty, Reserve Service

The Force of the Future also wants to make it easier for the services and service members to shift back and forth seamlessly between the active-duty force and the reserve components and vice versa. “Right now, it’s a very hard thing to do,” he said. “We’d like to make it a world where any service can say, ‘Hey, there are people in the RC that we need to bring them back into the AC.’”

The department wants a two-way street between the private sector and the department. “It’s not a world where you have to come to DoD and spend the next 40 years -- if you want to do that you can,” Carson said. “But you can come in for a year or two and make a big impact, and then go back to the private sector. And then maybe come back again in five or 10 years. That’s the kind of permeability that benefits both the private sector and DoD.”

Superintendent one of two PACAF NCOs selected for SLEC Program

by Tech. Sgt. John Gordinier
11th Air Force Public Affairs


11/18/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The day started out as a normal work day for Master Sgt. Abby Keffer, 611th Air Operations Center Strategy Plans Division superintendent.

But in mid-afternoon she received a call from U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. David Goldfein, informing her of, and congratulating her on, selection for commission under the new Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program.

"General Goldfein is an American war hero and I was shocked to hear his name when I answered the phone," Keffer said. "He introduced himself over the phone as our new vice chief of staff and said he wanted to be the first to congratulate me on my selection for Officer Training School.
"I was so excited, I jumped up and down."

Sergeant Keffer is one of only two senior non-commissioned officers selected from the U.S. Pacific Air Forces through the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program.

The SLECP allows designated Air Force senior leaders to directly select exceptionally performing, highly talented enlisted members for commissioning through OTS.

Unlike other commissioning programs, this program allows senior Air Force leaders to choose a SNCO based on performance, ethics and character.

"Being selected for OTS is a dream come true, and it's all thanks to God, my supportive husband, and the wonderful mentors and teammates who helped guide me toward success," Keffer said. "Becoming an officer is something I've always aspired to do and I'm honored to take the opportunity to apply my experience to lead teams in a new and different way."

"One of the proudest moments I have had as a commander ... to see Master Sgt. Keffer's leadership team help her achieve one of her life goals is truly amazing," said Col. Harlie Bodine, 611th AOC commander.

Keffer said she expects to attend OTS in early 2016.

Upon graduation, she will be a lieutenant and already has future aspirations.

"As an officer, I will have an increased capacity to serve," she said. "I will work hard to lead and mentor a broader scope of future warfighters and equip them with the skills necessary to fly, fight and win."

She plans to achieve her goals by applying the experience and expertise she gained from her experiences in all three tiers of the enlisted ranks.

She said SNCOs are vital to managing resources and translating leaders' direction into specific tasks and responsibilities their teams can understand and execute.

"Yes, [the transition] will be a change, but I'm up for the challenge," Keffer said.

"Unfortunately for us, OTS candidate select Keffer will not be able to immediately return to the 611th AOC following her commission," Bodine said.

She has desires to pursue a career path that maximizes her interaction with people because that is what she enjoys the most and explains why she is such a natural leader, he added.

She said she wishes to explore public affairs, personnel or similar career fields which focus on interacting with other people on a daily basis.

"My commander, Colonel Bodine, said it best, that this is a 'team' win," Keffer said. "I'm so thankful to the 611th AOC, the command and control community, and the 11th Air Force team for their support."

"Sergeant Keffer is the epitome of the complete Airmen we must have as the leaders in the Air Force, facing the most volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment," Bodine said.

"I know she will do great things and I'm 100 percent confident whatever career field she is selected for will be lucky to have her."

EUCOM implements travel restrictions to France



By United States European Command, / Published November 17, 2015

STUTTGART, Germany (AFNS) -- United States European Command has implemented travel restrictions to France that apply to all Defense Department personnel. Specifically, unofficial travel (leave, liberty and special pass) to France is prohibited.

This EUCOM policy applies to U.S. military personnel, DOD civilian employees, contractors and command-sponsored dependents and family members.

Paris travel

This prohibition is for unofficial travel to Paris, and includes a 50-kilometer radius around the city. For those requesting official travel or emergency leave travel to Paris (or within a 50-kilometer radius of the city), approval from the first general/flag officer or SES in the chain of command is required.

Elsewhere in France

Official travel and emergency leave travel to France requires approval from the first general/flag officer or SES in the chain of command.

Again, this EUCOM policy applies to U.S. military personnel, DOD civilian employees, contractors and command-sponsored dependents and family members.

These restrictions also apply to cruise ship shore excursions but do not apply to military personnel assigned to diplomatic posts in France and individuals who have commercial airline connections in the country and will not leave the secure portions of airport terminals.

This is a precautionary measure to keep personnel and families safe in light of the recent attacks. This is also an effort to help minimize tourist traffic at the borders in France, and, particularly, in Paris as the French authorities continue their investigation.