Thursday, December 10, 2015

ACC charts path for remote aircrews, units

By Headquarters Air Combat Command Public Affairs, / Published December 10, 2015

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. (AFNS) -- Air Combat Command officials announced the results of their study into the remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) community in an attempt to normalize operations and ensure long-term mission success.

Initial recommendations from the command's ongoing Culture and Process Improvement Program (CPIP) were derived from nearly 2,500 inputs from Airmen across the RPA community as well as staff analysis and budgetary planning. The result was over 140 tasks the Air Force is undertaking to improve RPA operations. The CPIP initiative supports current and previous efforts to normalize operations and is the first of its kind with this level of collaboration and top-level interest across the Air Force.

Over the years, Air Force leaders have made or pushed for substantial base-level investments in support of RPA Airmen and their families. Earlier this year, an initiative led by the secretary of the Air Force reduced RPA operations from 65 to 60 lines daily, while temporarily managing pilot assignments to stabilize the career field until the remote pilot training pipeline could be expanded. The draft 2016 National Defense Authorization Act includes language that expands the Air Force's bonus authority for remote operators and aligns RPA operator entitlements with those for other rated positions. The service is working a plan to apply that authority.

In addition, Air Combat Command has established and held the first meeting of a general officer-led working group that will provide guidance and gain consensus across commands to enhance the development and execution of a strategic vision for the RPA enterprise.

Moving forward, Gen. Hawk Carlisle, the ACC commander, has directed his staff to develop detailed implementation plans for the following activities:

- Approximately double the number of RPA flying squadrons.
- Create a new wing to normalize organizational and command and control structures relative to other weapon systems.
- Standardize the squadron, group and wing structure.
- Assign RPA units in new locations to potentially include overseas locations.
- Decrease the heavy burden of persistent in garrison combat operations by increasing RPA manning and associated resources by 2,500-3,500 Airmen.
- Define career tracks for officer and enlisted RPA operators and maintainers.
- Study the promotion and professional military education selection rates for RPA officers.
- Study the feasibility of a single specialty code for RPA maintenance personnel.
- Streamline processes to better enable Reserve component forces to support the mission.

"Our RPA enterprise was born in combat and recently surpassed 20 years of service, many of which were executed at surge levels," Carlisle said. "We owe it to our Airmen to remove the daily stressors that are responsible for the challenging environment they are operating in."

An integral part to improving the organizational and command and control structures for remote aircraft is examining where to base new organizations to sustain the enterprise for the long term, according to the general.

"As we strategically analyze the RPA community, we need to take a hard look at our operating locations," Carlisle said. "Expanding our RPA basing to potential sites such as Davis-Monthan (Air Force Base, Arizona), Langley (AFB, Virginia), and a few overseas locations is a discussion we need to entertain as we stand up a new wing. We would look to take advantage of the synergy between RPA operations and command and control or intelligence processing, exploitation and dissemination nodes."

Carlisle emphasized that "of course we must follow the established strategic basing decision process."

"Resourcing these changes is not within ACC's direct control," Carlisle noted. "So we will have to work with the Department of Defense, the White House and Congress on the resources to get this done."

"RPAs have changed the game on the battlefield with their persistence and ability to both build situational awareness and close the kill chain," Carlisle said. "Ultimately, CPIP is about establishing a coherent, Air Force wide strategic plan that enables us to continue to provide this incredible capability to the joint force by moving the RPA community toward the sustainment model we've established for other Air Force weapon systems."

Transitioning Soldiers learn skills through Toastmasters

by Tech. Sgt. Raymond Mills
JBER Public Affairs

12/10/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Stress, worry, anxiety.

These are symptoms associated with retiring or separating from the military, but the transition to the civilian workforce doesn't have to be an overwhelming ordeal. For service members who are separating, the Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is available to provide a helping hand during their next transition.

SFL-TAP provides information, training and tools to successfully navigate the rigors associated with civilian employment and education.

"SFL-TAP is very important, because it helps create a plan for Soldiers and Airmen who are transitioning to shift their mindset from the military to the civilian," said Pua Naluai, SFL-TAP career counselor. "The biggest part is planning what they want to do and how to get there whether it's going to school or finding a job. We offer a lot of classes to prepare for that step."

Although SFL-TAP offers a variety of classes from résumé writing to financial readiness, part of the training that is particularly helpful in preparing members transitioning to the civilian workforce is Toastmasters.

According to the Toastmasters International website, their organization helps members improve skills by regularly giving speeches, gaining feedback, leading teams and guiding others to achieve their goals in a supportive atmosphere.

"The Toastmasters program is for anybody who wants to improve their communication and leadership skills," said Maj. Raul Rovira, U.S. Army Alaska.  "Toastmasters specifically targets public communication and speaking skills."

When transitioning to the civilian sector, potential employees will brave interviews before getting hired. During the interview process, perspective employees want to appear cool, calm and collected. The Toastmasters portion of the course teaches verbal skills which improve confidence and and better prepares candidates to articulate their thoughts.

During the class, students engage in various verbal exercises that remove them from their comfort zone. The goal is to evaluate the speaker's ability and provide positive feedback so the person can learn from and improve upon their mistakes.

Rovira pointed out it is better to make mistakes in a non-threatening environment with a group of people who are there to help than to do so during a real interview. "Toastmasters changed how I look at public speaking," said Sgt. James Hurst, an assistant team leader, 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division. "This is one of the better classes I have attended at the SFL-TAP, because it includes valuable information such as interview techniques, talking to people and overall interactions. I would highly recommend this class to anybody who wants to do anything outside of the military."

Although the program is Soldier oriented, the JBER SFL-TAP provides assistance to Soldiers and Airmen.

SFL-TAP is a mandatory program for Soldiers that follows a pre-separation timeline.

Soldiers are encouraged to visit the SFL-TAP website to learn about specific requirements, as well as a range of available resources that will assist them during their transition.

Retiring personnel should register for SFL-TAP 12 to 24 months prior to their transition, while those finishing their term of service should begin 12 to 18 months prior to their separation date.

Keep Your Holidays From Going Up in Flames!

21st Civil Engineer Squadron

12/8/2015 - CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. -- For most of us, the holiday season represents a time for family festivities and good cheer. What few of us consider is that the holiday season is a time when there is an increased risk of home fires.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, many households engage in holiday activities that serve as some of the leading causes of U.S. home fires, including cooking. Christmas trees, candle usage and holiday decorations also significantly contribute to the seasonal causes of home fires. Add to that the hectic nature of the holidays, when people are trying to accomplish multiple tasks at one time, and the chance for home fires grows even more.

"As everyone gets busier during the holidays, we often become rushed, distracted or tired," says Guy Chastain, assistant chief of Fire Prevention at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station Fire Department. "That's when home fires are more likely to occur."

Fortunately, with a little added awareness and some minor adjustments to holiday cooking and decorating, the season can remain festive and safe for everybody.

"By taking some preventive steps and following simple rules of thumb, most home fires can be prevented," said Chastain.

With unattended cooking as the leading cause of U.S. home fires and home fire injuries, people should stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food. Most cooking fires involve the stovetop, so keep anything that can catch fire away from it, and turn off the stove when you leave the kitchen, even if it's for a short period of time. If simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly and use a timer to remind you that you're cooking.

Cheyenne Mountain AFS Fire Department also suggests creating a "kid-free zone" of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food and drinks are prepared or carried.

Candles are widely used in homes throughout the holidays, and December is the peak month for home candle fires. NFPA statistics show that two of every five home decoration fires are started by candles. Cheyenne Mountain AFS Fire Department encourages personnel to consider using flameless candles in their homes.

However, if you do use traditional candles, keep them at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn, and remember to blow them out when you leave the room or go to bed. Use candle holders that are sturdy, won't tip over and are placed on uncluttered surfaces. Avoid using candles in the bedroom where more than one-third of U.S. candle fires begin or other areas where people may fall asleep. Lastly, never leave a child or pet alone in a room with a burning candle.

According to NFPA, U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 210 home structure fires caused by Christmas trees per year. Three of every ten are caused by electrical problems, and one in four result from a heat source that's too close to the tree. Cheyenne Mountain AFS Fire Department offers the following advice for picking, placing and lighting the tree:

· If you have an artificial tree, be sure it's labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.
· If you choose a fresh tree, make sure the green needles don't fall off when touched; before placing it in the stand, cut 2" from the base of the trunk. Add water to the tree stand, and be sure to water it daily.
· Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit, and is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, space heaters, radiators, candles and heat vents or lights.
· Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory, and make sure you know whether they are designed for indoor or outdoor use.
· Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords, or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer's instructions for number of light strands to connect.
· Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
· Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving the home or going to bed.
· After Christmas, get rid of the tree. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside the home.
· Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.

By following these fire prevention tips and measures, people can greatly reduce the risk of fire in their home, and enjoy a safe holiday season.

"The holidays can quickly turn from joyful to tragic when a fire occurs," said Chastain. "By taking simple precautions, people can avoid potential fire hazards, and make this time of year a healthy and happy one."

Visit for more information and safety tips.

Thule Airmen receive support from Illinois elementary school

by Tech. Sgt. Jared Marquis
21st Space Wing Public Affairs

12/8/2015 - THULE AIR BASE, Greenland  -- Holidays can be a difficult time for the Airmen stationed 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle. They are separated from family and have limited resources with which to celebrate. While they do have a tight knit community to depend on, a little help can go a long way. This year's help came in the form of 50 care packages courtesy of Northview School in Peru, Illinois.

The 821st Air Base Group leadership team received a request in early September from the elementary school asking if the kids could send the Airmen care packages for the holidays, said Master Sgt. James Morgan, 821st ABG first sergeant.

"I called them back that day and told them we would be grateful for the packages," said Morgan.

Fast forward a couple months and the first half of the care packages arrived Nov. 19, the week before Thanksgiving. Since they only get a weekly rotator flight to Thule, they had to wait for the second half to show up, and were grateful for the supplies.

"The kids did a phenomenal job with the boxes," said Morgan, who set up his office like a shopping center with the supplies and gave Airmen the opportunity to pick out what they wanted.

The boxes included baking supplies, cold weather supplies, personal care products and more. Some of the most popular items were the cake mixes and other baking supplies. These are the types of items the Airmen can't get at Thule.

"Our Base Exchange carries a lot of snack foods, but not much in the way of baking supplies," said Morgan. "The Airmen have kitchens in their room, so everyone benefited from the baking supplies. Those who like to bake were able to and shared with those who don't."

"These children may not comprehend what it means to receive something as simple as a box of cake mix, but to us it turns a cold winter day with no sunlight into a warm tangible holiday celebration," said Tech. Sgt. Monique Wright, 821st ABG chief of safety. "The children also wrote us letters; thanking us for our service and having curious minds, asked several questions.  As I read these letters tears welled up in my eyes and I thought to myself how wonderful for these children to give to complete strangers without a second thought."

To say thank you for the supplies, the Airmen participated in a Skype call with the school children Dec. 2. Morgan said the entire school packed into the auditorium while nearly 100 Thule Airmen showed up for the call.

"That shows the appreciation," said Morgan. "We only have about 160 Airmen here and the only ones who didn't participate in the call were those who were working, or on a mid-shift."

During the Skype call, Col. Stuart Pettis, 821st ABG commander, thanked the children for the care packages and then gave the kids the opportunity to ask the Airmen some questions.

"He called up a different Airman each time to answer the kid's questions," said Morgan.

The kids asked questions about the weather, the radar and if the Airmen had seen Santa (the right answer, according to the teachers, is "you haven't seen Santa, but Santa is watching them!")

The call lasted about thirty minutes and ended with the children singing God Bless America and We Wish you a Merry Christmas.

"It was phenomenal for the Airmen to be able to share their gratitude with the kids," said Morgan. "It really was an awesome experience."

Chaplain team earns AFSPC honors

by 2nd Lt. Darren Domingo
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

12/7/2015 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Chaplain (Capt.) Jennifer Ray, 50th Space Wing chaplain, and Staff Sgt. Jacqulyn Rider, chaplain assistant, earned Air Force Space Command's Outstanding Religious Support Team for the third quarter of 2015.

Chaplains and chaplain assistants are assigned as Religious Support Teams to each of the Schriever units. Each RST takes care of the needs of every squadron by encouraging them in work, in life and providing for their free exercise of religion.

Both Ray and Rider earned the award by upholding support for their Wildly Important Goal, set by the Chaplain Corps, to spend quality time with their units and support them by always being available and approachable.

Ray explained there is a shared energy in the relationships they have with their units.
"We've just been successful at getting into our [assigned units] and being who we are," said Ray. "If they're receptive and happy to see us, it makes our job that much easier and it's just a pleasure."

It's not always the case a chaplain and chaplain's assistant mesh well together as a RST. An important aspect to Ray and Rider's success is the trust in their partnership.

"It's not always guaranteed that you're going to have a RST partner that you're going to like," said Rider. "But I've been so fortunate to have been partnered with Chaplain Ray. As soon as she got here, we bonded instantly and it was just so amazing. Chaplain Ray puts a lot of trust in me and gives me a lot of ownership with our programs."

Rider explained their primary focus is warrior care-caring for Airmen across the different units on Schriever.

"All of those agencies have such vital missions and we all work together to complete the wing mission as a whole," said Rider. "If there is a strained relationship between [Chaplain Ray] and I, we won't be able to serve our units effectively. When we're in sync, our units are more likely to feel comfortable coming to us."

Ray explained Rider has been in the chaplain corps longer than she has - a huge benefit to her.

"Her expertise just complements the ministries we offer and we're able to effectively serve our units," said Ray. "Her input and experience is very valuable to me. As we're going forth in whatever we're doing, I'm constantly learning from her."

Ray and Rider are currently assigned to several space operations and support squadrons. However, Ray stressed all Schriever personnel may approach them, regardless of unit affiliation.

For more information on RSTs or Schriever Chaplain's office initiatives, call 567-3705.

Carter Calls U.S.-India Defense Partnership ‘Anchor of Global Security’

By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, December 10, 2015 — The defense partnership between the United States and India will become an anchor of global security, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today in a joint news conference with Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar.

Following a meeting between the defense leaders, Carter said Parrikar’s first official visit to the Pentagon is a sign of the growing strength of the defense ties between the two democracies.

The two leaders in June signed the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative, which Carter described as a framework that charts a course for the U.S.-India relationship for the next decade, fosters technology cooperation, works to build industry-to-industry ties and identifies opportunities for the co-development and co-production of defense systems.

“For instance,” Carter said, “today, Minister Parrikar and I discussed the progress that’s been made toward cooperation on jet engines and aircraft carrier design and construction [and] opportunities to collaborate on additional projects of interest.”

The growing strategic partnership between the United States and India is rooted in shared ideals, mutual interests and a spirit of innovation, the secretary said.

Joint Military Exercises Vital

The secretary said he and Parrikar also discussed the importance of India’s participation in U.S. military exercises such as Malabar, Rim of the Pacific, and for the first time in eight years for India, participation in Red Flag, which Carter called “the premier air-to-air combat exercise.”

As the first U.S. defense secretary to visit an operational military command in India -- the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam -- Carter emphasized that Parrikar also became the first Indian defense minister to visit U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii and meet senior military leaders there on his way to Washington.

The defense partnership between India and the United States “reflects shared values and interests,” Parrikar said.

‘Relationship is Stronger’

“Defense and security cooperation is a vital component of this partnership,” he said. “Our relationship has grown stronger.”

The Indian defense minister also called for international response in the realm of terrorism.

“Terrorism has become a global phenomenon, and requires a comprehensive response,” he said. “All affiliations must be countered without any differentiation.”

Parrikar said he looks forward to working with Carter to “further expand and deepen our defense relationship [between] the two great democracies.”

Later today, the defense leaders will observe live flight exercises aboard the USS Eisenhower. Carter said it will mark the first time an Indian defense minister has boarded a U.S. aircraft carrier. This speaks not only to aircraft carrier technology cooperation between the two nations, he said, “but also to expanding cooperation in maritime security.

“As we work toward a common future … between the United States and India, … this is a relationship that will be critical in strengthening the Indo-Asia-Pacific security architecture so that everyone there can continue to rise and prosper.”

Chairman’s USO Holiday Tour Concludes in Ramstein

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany, December 10, 2015 — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thanked USO performers for touching the lives of service members during the week-long holiday trip that ended here last night.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. led the 2015 USO Holiday Show, which included actor/director/producers Elizabeth Banks and David Wain, singer Chris Daughtry, singer/songwriters Kyle Jacobs, Brett James and Billy Montana; comedian Sydney Castillo and Red Sox baseball players Steve Wright and Heath Hembree.

The group met and entertained thousands of troops and civilians on three continents, stopping in Sigonella, Italy; Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti; Manama, Bahrain; and Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, before ending here.

In an interview, Dunford recalled his first experience with the USO.

“The first one I remember was in 1985 and I was having shoulder surgery at the Naval Hospital in Okinawa, and I woke up after the surgery and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders are standing around my bed,” he said. “And it wasn’t a dream --- it was the USO show was in town on tour and stopped by the hospital.”

Thirteen Years of Chairman-Led Holiday Tours

Then-chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers led the first holiday tour in 2002.

“And it is my honor to do so this year,” Dunford said.

The shows are more than just entertainment, he said.

“I can tell [the troops] that people back home support them,” the general said during a farewell dinner in Kaiserslautern, Germany. “But after a while, it sounds like just talk. But when we go out there and say, ‘Look who is here with us,’ they see that Americans really do support them.”

The performances really do touch the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, Dunford said.

“I asked how people liked the show,” he said, “and about four or five times people told me, ‘For a couple of minutes, I actually forgot I was here.’ You know, when you are in Djibouti or you are in Bagram [and] just for a few minutes you actually forgot that you were there -- it’s a big deal.”

In addition to being on stage, the performers also meet with service members who explained their jobs, how they do them, and why they are there. The performers met special operations forces in Bagram and pararescue airmen in Djibouti. They toured a minesweeper and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter in Bahrain. The examined C-130 Hercules refueling tankers, C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and Predator and Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft.

Everywhere the performers went, they spoke with service members and got to know them. They also visited the USO Wounded Warrior Center at Landstuhl Hospital in Germany.

“You brought a piece of home out here to young men and women that I am incredibly proud of,” Dunford told the performers. “For those of you who hadn’t been around them before, I hope what you’ve seen this week tells you why I am so proud of them. Because they are incredibly talented, capable, smart young men and women who are committed, yes, to America, but really to each other.”

Humbling Experience

The performers said that they often felt humbled on the tour. “It’s easy to feel insignificant compared to them,” Daughtry said. “I mean, we’re entertainers. We’re having fun. To see the gratitude and appreciation on their faces is moving and humbling.”

Wain said it is one thing to read about a deployment or watch a news report, but it is quite something else to be there. “Speaking to [troops] one-on-one and understanding these are people who are smart, interesting and caring and have families and dreams and being able to do that has been inspiring, educational and a true honor,” he said.

Banks said her father served in the Navy in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam War. “My father tells very few stories about Vietnam, but he tells a story about when he left Vietnam and was transferred to the eastern [Mediterranean Sea],” she said.

“His ship hosted David Niven and his very hot and considerably younger wife. That’s what he remembers. He remembers that day very fondly and not many others,” Banks said. “And I really felt if I could make someone’s deployment feel a bit more like home -- feel special, give them a special day they can focus on rather than the bad -- then that is definitely worth my time.”

James called the experience “life changing.”

And Jacobs -- for whom this was his 9th USO trip -- said he’ll “continue doing this as long as I am needed. We owe it to them.”