Military News

Friday, November 20, 2015

Idaho Airman takes Gold in Air Force Half Marathon

by Tech. Sgt. Sarah Pokorney
124th Fighter Wing


11/16/2015 - BOISE, Idaho -- Airman 1st Class Annelise Rowe, with the 124th Fighter Wing, Idaho Air National Guard, finished as the first place military female and third place female in the U.S. Air Force Half Marathon in Dayton, Ohio, on Sept. 19.

Rowe was one of three female runners on the Air National Guard MAJCOM Challenge Team of 10. The ANG team runners were selected from across the nation from a pool of more than 90 applicants and notified in June that they had been selected. There were around 15,000 runners, military and civilian that participated in the Air Force Marathon this year.

"The entire way, people kept saying, 'You're the second place female!' and wouldn't you know it, I was passed by another girl in the last half mile, who was sponsored--mind you--and a rock star! I didn't let that crush my spirits, however, and ran all the way through the finish, where I was greeted by a Major General and awarded my finisher medal," said Rowe.  "I ended up finishing with a time of 1 hour, 31 minutes, 47 seconds--a 7:01 per-mile average--earning the award for 1st Place Overall Military Female and 3rd Place Overall Female."

The ANG team was a balanced mix of members--half officers, half enlisted; half full time and half traditional or drill status guardsmen. Six members, four men and two females, competed in the half marathon. Four members, three men and four women, competed in the full marathon.

Rowe trained for 12 weeks before the Air Force marathon. She also ran a race every month in 2015 and had been on several relay teams including Hood to Coast and the Sawtooth Relay.

She won two overall races this year--the Freakin Fast HalfMarathon and  the Freakin Fast Full Marathon, a Boston Marathon qualifier that is a mostly downhill course that starts at the top of Bogus Basin Ski Resort. "That was a fun run but really hurt," she said.  But these recent running adventures are nothing new for this life-long runner.

"I started running when I was just a kid with my mom. She has run several full marathons including the Boston Marathon. I always watched her while I was growing up and wanted to be fit like my mom," said Rowe.

She competed in the 400-meter run and the 800 in high school and college.

"There was a lot of pressure to be the best and compete and win, I really enjoyed running for the fun of it and didn't so much enjoy the competitive aspect," she said.

After graduating college Rowe and her mother started doing fun runs including a few half marathons. Then, when she went to basic training in 2014 where they used an interval training technique, things changed for Rowe.

"In basic training I set a record for the fifth fastest female ever to go through. I had no idea that my run time met that qualification until graduation; I got called up to receive a coin for it," she said. "That style [interval training] of running really clicked with me. When I came home I was a lot faster."

She returned home, continued running races and a short time later was happy to receive an email calling for runners to apply for the ANG MAJCOM team. To be considered, they had to submit their run time from a half marathon they had participated in within the past year. She registered for a race two weeks later, ran, submitted her time and was selected as one of the ten fastest over 80 other applicants.

Since competing in the Air Force Marathon, Rowe continues to train daily.

Tech. Sgt. Daniel Rowe, Airman Rowe's husband and 124FW recruiter, said, "She's ridiculously regimented. It's early morning workouts--whether it's running or cross fit workouts--literally every day." Rowe said, "We live a very active lifestyle. When we vacation we don't just sightsee, we take hikes and workout."

She offers three training tips for anyone that has considered running competitively; first, get a plan; second, stick to a schedule; and third, start small.

"Your first race doesn't have to be a full marathon, a half marathon or an Ironman--it can be a 5k or jog a 10k but having a training plan is essential," she said. Her training plan includes strength training, running and cross training.

Since the Air Force Marathon, Rowe has participated in several runs including two full marathons in less than a week and even earning Boston Marathon qualifying times in both. She ran the City of Trees Marathon Oct. 12 with a time of 3 hours, 16 minutes and the Freakin' Fast Marathon on Oct. 17 winning first overall female with a time of 3 hours, 6 minutes, 58 seconds--a 7:08 per-mile average and her new personal best.

Rowe, a force support specialist, was recently selected to be the 124th Security Forces Squadron Operations Officer.  If you'd like to stay up her running adventures, visit her AunieSauce blog.

Diversity: More than meets the eye

by Staff Sgt. Hannah Dickerson and Senior Airman Cody Martin
188th Wing


11/16/2015 - EBBING AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ark. -- What is diversity? Most would think of a person's race, gender and ethnicity; however diversity includes a number of various qualities. The 188th Wing embraces all forms of diversity as it continues its transition to a remotely piloted aircraft, space targeting and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission sets.

The changes in mission sets, the inclusion of men and women from other branches, the change in American culture throughout the years and a number of other various differences have brought not only a modern diversity among Airmen in the 188th, but an overall change from how the unit appeared throughout the years.

Chaplain (Col.) Thomas Smith, Arkansas Joint Force Headquarters command chaplain and 188th full-time chaplain, first came into the unit in 1983 and is one of the unit's longest standing members.

"What I see is that the younger generation is coming in [to the Air Force], and I am excited about it," Smith observed. "They bring in a different view of things and I believe if we will capitalize on that, utilize them and challenge them, then there is no way to go but up."

Smith's time in the unit, as well as his 10 year expedition to the Philippines as a missionary, has brought an enormous amount of experience with different cultures and ways of thinking.

"Diversity is essential," Smith added. "We all have different gifts and abilities. When we blend everything together we can create a diverse culture that is still focused on a singular mission."

Throughout the unit's history, the wing has broadened their diversity by gaining service members from every branch of the military, including the active, guard and reserve components.

Master Sgt. Jodie Haralson, 188th Communications Flight noncommissioned officer in charge of infrastructure, was formally a Marine and currently volunteers as a vice commander of U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 15-5 in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

"In my opinion, diversity is a conglomeration of different backgrounds of people brought together," Haralson stated. "When I first came here, you had the same type of person at the 188th. Now we are totally different. We have people that come from other states, different upbringings and possess a different mentality. Now we're challenged with bringing all of the people together and becoming one."

Haralson's time in different military branches has brought an extraordinary amount of experience to the wing.

"In every military branch, you have a mission to perform," said Haralson. "We cannot have animosity. It doesn't fit in. We all work together and blend our experiences to get the mission done."

The unit has also been a source of inclusion for different nationalities of people.
Airman 1st Class Emmanuel Quarshie, 188th Civil Engineer Squadron electrical systems technician, was born and raised in Ghana, Africa before coming to the United States.

"I wanted to serve this nation because it has a lot of things to offer," Quarshie remarked. "Everyone in America is blessed and I truly appreciate being here and serving this country."

Quarshie's stints in both Ghana and the U.S. have not only provided a unique perspective, but also an understanding of how diversity can strengthen the bonds between individuals.

"We are one team one fight," Quarshie stated. "If we all thought the same way, I don't think this country would be so great."

With Airmen from different backgrounds, the 188th utilizes the differences in gifts, abilities, views and values to bring new ideas, knowledge and experience to accomplish the mission and positions themselves for long range success. Each unique member of the 188th Wing and the Air National Guard is cultivated into ready, responsive and highly-skilled Airmen and brought together to create one powerful force.

"We must blend together like an orchestra," Smith said. "The orchestra has a lot of different moving pieces, but a conductor must take those diverse talents and blend them together so that it makes a beautiful symphony and that's what we're doing here at the 188th."

Upgraded E-3 Sentry deploys to combat theater



By Darren D. Heusel, Tinker Air Force Base Public Affairs / Published November 19, 2015

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFNS) -- The long-awaited, highly anticipated deployment of the E-3 Sentry (AWACS) Block 40/45 is finally over, with the deployment of the first upgraded weapon system to a combat theater of operations.

The first E-3G arrived in Southwest Asia Nov. 18, marking the deployment of the most comprehensive modification to the weapon system in its 38-year history. The changes improved communications, computer processing power, threat tracking and other capabilities.

The $2.7 billion upgrades replace some hardware and software that dates to the 1970s, signaling a game-changer to airborne surveillance and air battle management.

"This modification represents the most significant upgrade in the 35-plus year history of the E-3 and greatly enhances our crewmembers' ability to execute the command and control mission, while providing a building block for future upgrades," said Col. David Gaedecke, the commander of the 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker Air Force Base and E-3 pilot.

To date, nine of the 27 E-3s assigned to the 552nd ACW have received the modification and have met their crew certification on the Block 40/45 systems.

"This is the initial combat deployment for the capability after numerous exercises," Gaedecke said. "Crews will be able to process tactical information, providing combatant commanders with increased situational awareness."

The Block 40/45 provides operational and technological reliability, maintainability, supportability, and integration of future technologies and growth opportunities.

The new modifications also automate previously manual functions and improve the amount of data E-3 aircrews can receive and share with allied forces on missions such as counterdrug surveillance.

"This upgrade takes computing capability from 1970s technology to current day," Gaedecke said. "Tied with the Deployable Ground System, this allows both operators and intelligence personnel capabilities far beyond (the older model) 30/35."

The upgrade has been a partnership between the 552nd ACW; the E-3 System Program Offices at Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts; Tinker AFB; the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, which performs the modification; and the Boeing Co., the prime contractor.

The E-3G model reached initial operating capability on July 28, 2015, and the OC-ALC went into full-rate production shortly thereafter, a milestone marking the start of faster upgrades for the remainder of the airborne surveillance and battle management fleet.

While the E-3Gs have been flown in counterdrug operations for U.S. Southern Command and in homeland defense missions as part of Operation Noble Eagle, they have yet to be flown in active combat missions until now.

Gaedecke has previously laid out the plan for the aircraft to participate in Red Flag in August and, if all went well, deploy the weapon system in combat this fall.

"While our tactics, techniques and procedures employing this new capability continue to be refined, exercises like Red Flag allowed crews to gain experience with the system, which included capabilities unavailable with 30/35," he said.

Known for its signature black-and-white rotating radar dome that sits on top of the aircraft, the E-3 provides all-weather surveillance, command, control and communications needed by commanders of U.S., NATO and other allied air defense forces.

In support of air-to-ground operations, the Sentry can provide direct information needed for interdiction, reconnaissance, airlift and close air support to friendly ground forces. It can also provide information for commanders of air operations to gain and maintain control of the air battle.

As an air defense system, E-3s can detect, identify and track airborne enemy forces far from boundaries of the U.S. or NATO countries. It can direct fighter-interceptor aircraft to enemy targets. The E-3 is designed to respond quickly and effectively to a crisis and support worldwide deployment operations.

With its mobility as an airborne warning and control system, the Sentry has a greater chance of surviving in warfare than a fixed, ground-based radar system. Among other things, the flight path can quickly be changed according to mission and survival requirements.

The E-3 can also fly a mission profile for more than eight hours without refueling. Its range and on-station time can be increased through in-flight refueling and the use of an onboard crew rest area.

The 552nd ACW is home to the E-3, with 27 of the fleet's 31 AWACS being housed at Tinker. The remaining aircraft are stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan, and Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

The fleet continues on its upgrade timelines, with a rate of approximately five aircraft being modified each year.

The 552nd ACW will continue to operate out of their current forward operating location for operations in Afghanistan as part of Freedom Sentinel and against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Now that the E-3Gs have been deployed to a combat theater, Gaedecke said AWACS will continue to be relevant in the battle space of the future.

"Deploying to the combat theater is the culmination of many hard hours, learning and building standard operating procedures to execute the mission in any combat or contingency environment," he said. "What the E-3 brings to the fight is essential to our combat commanders, both in the air and on the ground."

Gaedecke said the new E-3G will begin flying combat missions immediately.

Idaho Air National Guard recognized as 'one of the best of the best'

by Tech. Sgt. Joshua C. Allmaras
124th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


11/16/2015 - Nov. 10, 2015 -- The Airmen of the Idaho Air National Guard's 124th Fighter Wing received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for their meritorious service from Oct. 1, 2012 to Sep. 30, 2014.

The 124th Fighter Wing distinguished itself during this period by executing more than 7,800 mishap free flying hours, the medical group maintained an 87% individual mobilization rate, the operations support squadron conducted 180 hours of training which resulted in 82 students being trained at the only A-10 Intelligence Formal Training Unit, more than 11,500 meals were served, more than 480 passengers and more than 135 short tons of cargo in support of seven exercises were processed, and the wing created a five day NCO enrichment course with three sessions per year.

"The Airmen of the 124th Fighter Wing have demonstrated that they truly embrace the wing moto of first class or not at all," said Col. Tim Donnellan, the 124th Fighter Wing commander. "The Air Force has recognized the sacrifices our Airmen make and the hard work they accomplish each and every day they serve their community and their country."

"During the award time period, the medical group conducted the first physical health assessment festival ever, the maintenance group received an excellent on their logistics compliance assessment program inspection, and the mission support group did phenomenal on their environmental, safety and occupational health compliance assessment and management program inspection,"  said Donnellan.

"The competition was extremely keen," said Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, director of the Air National Guard. "Each winner is commended for having been selected from an outstanding group of nominees. The dedication and commitment of the members of these organizations enable the Air National Guard to fulfill its commitment to the missions of peacekeeping, humanitarian relief, domestic improvement, and most important of all - defense of America. Again, my congratulations to the best of the best."

The Air Force Outstanding Unit Award is awarded by the secretary of the Air Force to units that distinguish themselves by exceptionally meritorious service or outstanding achievements that set them apart from similar units. It was established in 1954.

"I'm extremely honored to serve with each and every one of you," said Donnellan. "America and Idaho are better as a result of your sacrifice."

Commander Discusses Lessons Learned From Africa Service



By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, November 20, 2015 — A contingent of U.S. soldiers has helped to strengthen capacity among African partner-nations and assisted them to work together in confronting joint security challenges on the continent.

The 4,500 soldiers of the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Armored Division based at Fort Bliss, Texas, learned just how diverse Africa is during their nine-month rotation as the Army’s second regionally aligned brigade for Africa. Brigade commander Army Col. Barry “Chip” Daniels briefed reporters yesterday in the Pentagon about his unit’s experiences.

Developing Partner Capacity

The overall mission in Africa is to “develop partner capacity so they are able to find regional solutions to their own problems,” Daniels said.

Unlike past deployments to the Middle East or Central Asia -- where the full brigade deploys -- the Bulldog Brigade deployed in portions.

The brigade had three primary missions. The first and largest was as the security force for U.S. installations in Djibouti and Kenya as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa. A battalion spent the full nine months on that mission.

But more typical was the second role -- theater security cooperation missions across the continent. These missions are the crux of U.S. Africa Command’s strategy for the continent. The missions serve to strengthen partnership capacity in the nations and help the nations work together to confront joint challenges.

“We ended up doing roughly 100 of those missions and it ended up being in 26 different countries,” Daniels said. “At the high point, we had about 1,100 of our 4,500 soldiers deployed on the continent at one time.”

The third role was to conduct joint and combined exercises for U.S. Africa Command across the continent.

“We executed all four Accord-series exercises focused on facilitating partner capacity and regional stability,” Daniels said. The Accord exercises were in East Africa, West Africa, South Africa and in the Netherlands, which took the place of Liberia after the Ebola epidemic started. There is no Accord-series exercise in North Africa.

Deploying Small Teams

For the most part, the brigade rotated small teams -- from three people to 130 -- to the continent to conduct the theater security missions or the exercises, Daniels said. They could go for as little as a week to four months. The brigade set up a 24/7 operations center at Fort Bliss to monitor the teams.

The countries on the continent would ask for small teams with small footprints to either conduct tactical level training on specific skills or headquarters-level staff functions. Many of the nations were “stability exporters,” Daniels said. They would send these troops to United Nations peacekeeping operations on the continent.

Many African nations impressed Daniels as they trained.

“The first questions I learned to ask were, ‘Who is motivated and why are they motivated?’” he said. “One of the things we found to be very refreshing was the level of motivation. These are countries that are exporting security and they are very interested in stabilizing their own backyard.”

In Zambia, Malawi and Ethiopia brigade soldiers trained forces that were shortly going to go to Somalia, the Congo or the Central African Republic as part of U.N. missions or under the auspices of the African Union.

“They had the level of motivation; the capability is the next question,” Daniels said. “We were particularly impressed with the Ugandans – they are very serious about improving their capability to securing East Africa through a regional approach. I was pleasantly surprised by the professionalism and capability of the Ugandan’s Peoples Defense Forces.”

Daniels said it is important to look at the strategy in Africa with the long view, and that is often difficult for those in the military because they want immediate results.

“I was asked by a lot of folks in the Army, ‘Okay, you were just over there. How is it better today than in January,’” he said. “I don’t think that’s the right question to ask. I think we need to ask, ‘How is it better three, five, 10 years from now?’ And then we need to assess this, over time.”

The 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Stewart, Georgia, relieved the Bulldog Brigade and those soldiers are currently performing the mission. Daniels made sure he shared his unit’s experience with the follow-on force. He said there was too much emphasis on language training and not enough on the cultures. The most popular courses for the African nations, he said, are field medicine and communications.

Daniels emphasized ensuring training units bring the right technology to assist African forces. He said it is important to ensure the African nations can continue follow-on training by themselves.

Daniels said his soldiers enjoyed their experiences in Africa.

Soldiers join the force to “do something,” he said, and they enjoyed traveling to places they hadn’t been.

Deputy Defense Secretary Attends Halifax International Security Forum



By Cheryl Pellerin DoD News, Defense Media Activity

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, November 20, 2015 — Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work is on his way to the annual Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada, where military and strategic thinkers representing 60 countries will gather to discuss global security and prosperity.

Speaking last night with reporters traveling with him to Halifax, Work said that he will participate in a plenary panel focused on Russia and titled, “Cooperate, Contain or Conquer: Prioritizing Strategy 70 Years On.”

Joining him will be speakers from Eastern European and European countries.

Bilateral Meetings

The deputy secretary also will hold bilateral meetings with representatives of Colombia, Montenegro, Georgia, Ukraine and Albania, he said.

In September, Work made a weeklong visit to Iceland, Norway and the United Kingdom to discuss regional security issues.

During a roundtable there, he said, “It was very interesting to me to hear their perspective on what Russia is doing. Do they perceive it as a threat to their countries? Do they perceive it as a more general competition? So I'm looking forward to doing the same thing [at Halifax].”

Great-Power Politics

Work said that during the panel he’d talk about the current era of what he called great-power politics. Great powers, according to scholars and other experts, are sovereign states recognized as exerting influence on a global scale.

“I would call Russia a resurgent great power that still is declining over the long term,” he said, “and China is a rising great power.”

The deputy secretary added, “I think we're coming out of a 25-year period where we've been focused on regional adversaries.”

Grand Strategy

Now, Work said, “we have to think about grand strategy again. We have to think about globally approaching these great powers. We need to up our strategic game. We need to think about maintaining technological parity if not superiority with them, which is why we talk about the Third Offset.”

And more important than ever, Work said, in great-power competitions allies are critical.

“The thing you see right now is that Russia and China are not accumulating allies,” he said. “That's a good thing and it speaks to the power of the liberal world order that we have helped create over the last 70 years, which is a rules-based, open-economy, free-trade type of order.”

Allies and Partners

Work says he feels confident about the chances of the United States in long-term competition with other great powers because of the strength of U.S. alliances and partners.

In a Nov. 16 National Post essay previewing the Halifax Forum, Sir Lawrence Freedman, emeritus professor of war studies at King’s College London and one of Work’s favorite authors, advanced a similar view.

“The main strategic priority of the West must be to maintain the structures that have served them well over the past 70 years, especially the network of alliances and systems of international trade and finance,” Freedman wrote.

Strategic Priority

“Other powers might be frustrated by their existence but they can’t match them,” he added, “and in the end if they want to prosper they need to adjust to their presence.”

Something else also bolsters Work’s confidence in the United States’ competitive great-power advantage.

Russia and China are authoritarian great powers, he said, “and we believe quite strongly that an enduring competitive advantage we have is in our people, because they've grown up in this open order.”