Thursday, January 07, 2016

Carter Gets Update on 'Provocative' North Korean Action

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, January 7, 2016 — Defense Secretary Ash Carter received an update today from the commander of U.S. Pacific Command about recent events on the Korean Peninsula, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters today.

North Korea claimed yesterday to have conducted a successful hydrogen bomb test.

Discussions between Carter and Navy Adm. Harry Harris included "North Korea's latest provocative act, as well as steps to further our military-to-military dialogue with allies in the region," Cook said.

The United States, he added, is committed to the defense of its close ally South Korea.

Ironclad Commitment

"We're there every day in South Korea,” he said. “There are more than 28,000 U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula right now. We stand resolutely with our South Korean allies, our commitment to them is ironclad, and we will do everything we can to ensure their defense."

Carter spoke to his South Korean counterpart yesterday, Cook noted.

"The government has concluded that a nuclear test took place, but we're still assessing new information we've received at this point in time," he said.

Officials hope to receive more information that might give them a better understanding of exactly what took place in North Korea, he said. "Our analysis again indicates that it's not consistent with the North Korean claims of a hydrogen bomb test," Cook told reporters.

Army, Air Force team up to move gear to JRTC

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera
JBER Public Affairs

1/7/2016 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaskan -- When the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division is tasked to participate at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, the 773d Logistics Readiness Squadron Deployment Flight, is there to lend a helping hand.

The 773d LRS deployment flight remains an Air Force asset until a unit deploys; then they become a joint service asset known as a Movement Control Center. The MCC transports mission-critical cargo for all services to its final destination.

"The MCC's goal is to meet the 4/25's mission requirement in a timely manner," said John Kim, 773d LRS mobility officer. "We have a wide range of equipment that we can ship such as a Humvee, a howitzer or any other mission requirement."

In order for the MCC to move cargo, units have to provide a list of equipment through the Transportation Coordinator Automated Information Management System for inspection. Once this is complete, the cargo and containers will be inspected.

"The Coast Guard also comes to assist with the inspection," Kim said. "If there's any hazardous materials such as fuel cans, generators or anything with chemicals, the Coast Guard will come and inspect the container."

Safety is the main concern during movement, Kim said.

While the MCC has a 100 percent success rate on safety, the extreme weather here in Alaska presents a challenge.

With equipment exposed to such a harsh environment, some don't survive Mother Nature.

"When we send an initial deployment list through Surface Deployment and Distribution Center, they will start booking with the list we provided. Here at JBER, there are a lot more changes from the original list to the actual unit deployment list," Kim said. "Because of the weather, equipment can be deemed non-mission capable.

"When a vehicle would not start, it has to either be changed or removed to have accurate accountability of equipment. So it delays the operation if we are not careful. But due to the diligence of multiple agencies working together, we are able to meet the mission requirement with minimal delays."

When everything is inspected and accounted for, the cargo movement teams take over to get it shipped out through the Port of Anchorage.

The cargo movement teams are mostly responsible for moving day-to-day Air Force and Army cargo - unless they are activated through the MCC to help ship equipment to a deployed location.

Then they work side-by-side with the MCC until the last cargo has been loaded onto the dock.

As a cargo movement chief, Air Force Master Sgt. Omar CortesAponteCabrera said their sections are the liaison between the Army, Air Force and SDDC.

"They [SDDC] do the booking for us for all the cargo," said the 21-year veteran. "We have all the cargo process through here and get the booking from the SDDC. Then we match the information, inspect it and move it to the port."

Before leaving the MCC location, the cargo movement personnel conduct a cargo line check to make sure everything has the correct paperwork.

If there's missing paperwork or something was not booked, it has to stay at JBER; it will not be accepted at the Port of Anchorage.

Upon arrival at the port, the staff [cargo movement] will conduct a final inspection against the information in the documents to ensure 100-percent-accurate accountability.

CortesAponteCabrera said he can't stress enough that cargo does not move without logistics. He takes pride in his unit's skills, compliance and teamwork to make the mission successful.

"We have our warfighter skills by preparing, deploying or redeploying JBER's capabilities to any location. We cannot move cargo if they are not in compliance, so it is imperative we have the correct paperwork, accurate dimensions and weight," he said. "We also work as a team supporting other agencies involved with any cargo movement, so when we get activated to support a real-world deployment or mission, we are ready."

If a unit requires a cargo movement, the MCC is there to provide a helping hand.

The MCC was able to process more than 600 pieces in three weeks in preparation for JRTC.

Technical Sgt. Jesse Daughtry, 773d LRS cargo movement non-commissioned officer in charge, said that his first experience with the JRTC movement was a learning experience because they were able to show a joint effort supporting the Army and showing their capabilities.

McChord Airman saves girl from drowning

by Senior Airman Divine Cox
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

1/7/2016 - Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. -- Whether in uniform or not, the United States Air Force requires all Airmen to uphold to its core values and encourages Airmen to be aware of their surroundings at all times.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Siegele, 627th Force Support Squadron sports and fitness noncommissioned officer in charge, had his situational awareness tested Jan. 1 when a little girl fell through the ice on Carter Lake, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Siegele was at the park next to Carter Lake with his daughter. While there, his daughter spotted three girls playing and asked if she could play with them.

"Yes you can go play," said Siegele. "As long as you stay off the ice, I'm okay with that."

Siegele said as he watched the girls play, the oldest girl would try and talk the other girls into seeing how far they could walk across the ice. He advised them not to do that, because it might not be safe.

"I took control of my daughter," said Siegele. "The other girls shrugged me off and proceeded onto the ice."

Siegele said later that afternoon, before sunset, one of the girls yelled "It's time to go home."

"As soon as I looked up, I could hear screaming," said Siegele. "I looked back to where I last saw the little girl on the ice and seen that she had fallen in. She was waving her arms in the air and screaming for help."

Siegele made the quick decision to run around the lake to the side closest to her so he could reach her safer.

"I knew the ice couldn't hold my weight," said Siegele. "Running around to the other side was my only option to try to save her."

Siegle said as he round the fence line, he saw a man get out of a silver van and run towards the lake.

"I followed the individual into the ice," said Siegele. "We were determined to help this little girl."

The individual got to the girl before Siegele. Siegele and the guy started swimming back to the shore with the little girl between them when suddenly the guy went under water and Siegele lost grip of the girl and she went under too.

"I reached for her, but I couldn't feel her," said Siegele. "So I dove under to find her and managed to pull her up by her jacket."

Siegele and the little girl resurfaced and headed to shore just as the other guy reached the shore.

"Once we got to shore, I took off her jacket and the individual grabbed my jacket that I took off before entering the water and put it on her," said Siegele.

Siegele said as he picked up the phone to call 911, the girls Dad arrived to the lake in a panic state.

"The Dad grabbed his little girl and headed home," said Siegele. "We all exchanged information, but I was so cold and out of it, I forgot everything."

Later that night, Siegele contacted the parents of the little girl, after finding their phone number in his phone to see if she was okay.

Siegele said her parents thanked me for saving their daughter.

"I'm just glad I was there," said Siegele. "All the training I've got through my years in the Air Force prompted me to react quickly enough and ultimately save her life."

From resolution to reality

by Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson
JBER Public Affairs

1/7/2016 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The year 2016 has descended on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, and along with it, countless resolutions. One of the more common ones is to lead a healthier life.

The resolution itself may be simple, but can also be daunting. However, JBER offers a plethora of resources for families and service members to face the challenge head-on.

"The first thing we address when someone comes to us wanting to make a change is goal setting," said John Limon, director of Buckner Physical Fitness Center. "Many times these goals are either unrealistic, bloated, seem to be unachievable after a short time, [or] eventually lead to the person failing.

So the first step a person should take is to evaluate their resolution and make SMART goals."

SMART is an acronym which means goals should be specific, measurable, adjustable, realistic, and time-specific. The idea is to outline fitness goals in a measurable manner, so progress can be easily seen. This can give realistic perspective on a diet or workout regimen and allow for adjustments to be made.

Writing down one's goals, daily diet and exercises will equip fitness center staff with a way to provide accurate advice down the road if the individual is not getting the results they'd hoped for, Limon said. By approaching health goals much as a scientist would approach an experiment, one can turn their resolution into a reality. There are two main components to a healthy lifestyle - exercise and diet; JBER offers resources for maintaining both.

The health promotions team, located in the Health and Wellness Center at the Arctic Oasis can provide valuable advice and resources regarding nutrition and lifestyle choices.

One of their programs is "Better Body, Better Life," a five-session class that may prove to be a great way to kick-start a health resolution. "Each session covers nutrition, a little bit on fitness, and behavioral modification," said Lisa Schuette, a JBER public health educator on the health promotions team.

BBBL provides general information and guidelines in a group setting for those who are looking for education, encouragement, and a sense of community. Part of going to BBBL is connecting with other assets JBER has to offer.

"We also have the Behavioral Health Optimization Program," Schuette said. "A clinical psychologist talks about the behavioral aspects [of nutrition management.]"

If an individual is unable to make it to all five sessions consecutively, they can hop into their missed session as part of a different cycle, Schuette said. "For those who can't make it to the five BBBL sessions, I also offer a one-session class," Schuette said.

However, BBBL is a single resource amongst the many available. Some may be looking for education without a formal time commitment, for such folks, a quick stop at the HAWC may be in order.

Bring a bag though, because without some form of assistance, one may find there to be too many resources to carry. Not into having piles of paper pamphlets around? That's fine, the health promotions team can offer plenty of digital resources as well.

"If you go to, it can tell you the servings for all the different food groups for losing or maintaining health," Schuette said. "It is a great, overall healthy eating website. I also like the Human Performance Resource Center,, which is a [Department of Defense] website on anything to do with performance. How many grams of protein do I need before or after a workout? You can find it there. It also has a database of supplements where products are catalogued based on whether they are effective or ineffective.

"People think: I want to be healthy; I'm going to take supplements. That's not necessarily correct."

Another common health resolution is tobacco cessation, Schuette said. Some people may not think about that when considering a healthier life, but there is assistance for that as well.

"It is common for people to not want to come to a class," Schuette said. "There are a variety of quit lines, there's an Alaska quit line and a research study which is a proactive quit line. They will send nicotine supplements to your house." Tobacco cessation classes are offered on both sides of JBER.

"I talk a little on fitness, but generally I refer them to the fitness specialists at the fitness centers," Schuette said.

There are four fitness locations on JBER.

The Elmendorf Fitness Center has an indoor track, extensive weightlifting and cardiovascular machines, several class rooms, a spin room, racquetball and basketball courts, saunas, and massage therapy rooms available for service members and their families.

The gym's facilities are free to anyone with a common access card, and services like contracted personal trainers and massage therapists are available for a fee.

The Arctic Oasis is a child-friendly facility, with cardiovascular and weightlifting machines around an indoor playground for the kids while mom and dad work out. The health promotions team is also located there and available for consult at the Health and Wellness Center. The Arctic Oasis is located next door to the Elmendorf Fitness Center.

The Buckner Physical Fitness Center has many of the same facilities as the Elmendorf Fitness Center and is currently receiving substantial additions to its services including a new swimming pool.

Hangar 5, near the Aurora Housing offices offers extreme conditioning training classes as well as resources like tires for flipping and weighted sleds. There is also a larger indoor track in the hangar for those who would prefer a bit more space to run in.

"We have exercise professionals at both gyms," said a former professional rock climber. "By exercise professionals, I mean highly qualified, highly certified individuals."

If someone were unsure as to what an achievable fitness goal looks like, the exercise physiologists at the gym can provide that perspective, Limon said.
These professionals are at the fitness centers to help, Limon said. Due to the sheer number of active duty troops on JBER, they don't have the resources to provide personal training sessions in the classic sense - that task falls under specific contractors who work for the gyms - but they do offer consultations and interviews where they address concerns, goals, workouts, and provide advice.

The contracted physical trainers, exercise physiologists and the strength coaches are all there to help, each with their own specific mission.

"We can give the customer a lot of very good knowledge," Limon said. "We provide a way forward with these consultations. Whatever you want to know, we will answer to the best of our abilities - and our abilities are strong."

Such consultations can add up, especially in the new year, so they are scheduled ahead of time, Limon said.

"We equip our service desk staff with as much knowledge as possible," Limon said. "Form and exercise technique questions can be handled by them, if the question is outside of their expertise, they will refer you to one of our exercise professionals."

A healthier life doesn't have to be limited to the confines of a gym though; JBER's unique location allows for a wide variety of unique opportunities. Want to climb a mountain after work? Here, that's possible.

There are also competitive events year-round where JBER service members and families can compete to be the best, or just want to get out and about.
"We have 16 intramural sports programs each year, several 5-kilometer races and longer, and we have an indoor triathlon and an outdoor triathlon," Limon said. "We also have a push/pull weightlifting competition coming [Saturday]."

"You should stay physically active with regularity, and that will prepare you for the fitness event you are shooting for," Limon said.

For professional advice and resources on maintaining a healthier life, call the health promotions team at 552-5006 or by speaking to someone at a fitness center service desk.

Pentagon announces changes to military decorations, awards program

By Lisa Ferdinando, DoD News, Defense Media Activity / Published January 07, 2016

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Pentagon has made a number of changes to the military decorations and awards program to ensure service members receive appropriate recognition of their actions, according to a statement released Jan. 7.

The changes come after a long and deliberate review, a defense official told reporters in a Jan. 6 background briefing. Then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel initiated the review in 2014 to improve the military awards program by harnessing lessons learned from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the official said.

"He wanted to ensure that we're appropriately recognizing our service members for their services, actions and sacrifices," the defense official added.

The Pentagon statement points out key changes to the decorations and awards program:

- Implementation of new goals and processes to improve timeliness of the Medal of Honor and other valor awards

- Standardization of the meaning and use of the Combat Distinguishing Device, or “V” device, as a valor-only device to ensure unambiguous and distinctive recognition for preeminent acts of combat valor

- Creation of a new combat device, to be represented by a “C” worn on the relevant decoration, to distinctly recognize those service members performing meritoriously under the most arduous combat conditions

- Introduction of a “remote impacts” device, signified by an “R” to be worn on the relevant decoration, to recognize service members who use remote technology to directly impact combat operations

- Adoption of a common definition of Meritorious Service Under Combat Conditions to determine eligibility for personal combat awards

Service cross, Silver Star review

To "ensure that those service members who performed valorously were recognized at the appropriate level," the defense official said that Defense Secretary Ash Carter has directed the military departments to review Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross and Silver Star Medal recommendations since Sept. 11, 2001, for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There are approximately 1,000 Silver Star and 100 service cross recommendations under review, the official said. While there is a possibility a medal could get upgraded, no service member will have the award downgraded, he said.

The defense official noted "unusual Medal of Honor awards trends," as a one reason for the review. The first seven Medal of Honor awards for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan were posthumous, he said. There may have been a perception that only a fallen service member could receive the nation's highest military award for valor, he said.

After the Defense Department clarified the “risk of life” portion for the Medal of Honor's criteria in 2010, all 10 recipients have been living, he noted. The review is to ensure that no one deserving of a higher honor has been overlooked, the defense official said.

The results of the reviews are due to the secretary of defense on Sept. 30, 2017, he said.

Paws to Read events give children confidence

by Airman Valerie Monroy
JBER Public Affairs

1/7/2016 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Library, along with Midnight Sun Service Dogs, is offering the opportunity for children in kindergarten through third grade to read to service dogs.

"Paws to Read is a program, where children who are having difficulty reading are able to come in and read to therapy and service dogs," said Phyllis Talas, 673d Force Support Squadron library technician. "It gets them over their fear of reading out loud and gives them confidence when they're just learning to read."

During the reading session, the children don't have to be worried about making mistakes or stumbling because the dogs don't mind. If the children need help with certain words they can get assistance from the dog handlers.

"If they look to the [dog] handler for help the handler will help them, but we request that the parents don't correct or intervene," Talas said.

The JBER Library plans to have three dogs at most sessions and to slot 15 to 20 minute sessions for each child. If there is extra time throughout the program or at the end, children are allowed extra time with the dogs. "We have one little man that is extremely anxious to get in there every time," said Talas.

So far, there have been three Paws to Read events.

For a program that is just beginning, many people have been pre-registering and bringing in their children.

"We believe it's progressing well," said Marcia Lee, 673d FSS library director. "We have pre-registration and people are showing up because they're interested in their children having this opportunity."

Pre-registration lets the librarians know how many dogs they need at each session. For parents, it guarantees their child a slot, versus coming in and waiting for an open spot. "If people make the effort to call, they are guaranteed [a] spot for their child," said Lee.

The JBER Library has received only positive comments and feedback from the parents and children. "We have a lot of repeat readers [because] the parents feel that this is a worthwhile program and keep bringing their children back," said Lee. In an effort to bring this program to more children, the library is informing local schools about the opportunities. "We're going to expand our offerings to the schools and take our information there," said Lee.

The Paws to Read program is every third Saturday of the month.

Jan. 16 will be the next opportunity for children to participate and read to the service dogs uninterrupted.

To register or for information on more programs offered by the JBER Library, call 384-2665.

Face of Defense: Airman Balances Cycling With Air Guard Mission

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Hughel 142nd Fighter Wing

PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore., January 7, 2016 — With endurance cycling, nearly every part of the sport is tough; from the demands of distance and the quality of the competitors, to the changing natural elements on any given day.

For Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dwayne Farr, those difficulties pale in comparison with splitting his time between the grind of bicycle training to his no-fail mission with the Oregon Air National Guard.

Over the past eight years, Farr has been assigned to the 142nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron here, where he is currently the noncommissioned officer in charge of aircrew egress. It has only been in the past four years that curiosity has transformed him into an elite international cyclist.

“It started off really simple," Farr said. "I wanted to see if I could commute from home by bike and use the time going back and forth to get in some exercise."

Yet six months after jumping on his bike, Farr was involved in racing events on weekends around the Pacific Northwest. The endeavor served to refuel his desire to participate in sports at the competitive level.

Competitive Streak

At slightly less than 6 feet tall, slender and with a constant and contagious grin, Farr’s unassuming and easy-going personality obscures his deeply competitive nature. At Ridgefield High School in Vancouver, Washington, he was a standout point guard for the school’s basketball team, which made several appearances at the state’s finals.

“He was an incredible basketball player growing up and into high school,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Don Brice, 142nd Fighter Wing alert superintendent of maintenance, who is also Farr’s stepfather.

Brice said that Farr’s style on the basketball court over the years put a great deal of impact on his knees and other joints.

“He has an amazing cardiovascular reserve that has translated well into biking, where he now doesn’t do all the cutting and slashing, both up and down the court,” Brice said of Farr.

Brice has been the father figure in Farr’s life since the age of 11, and he made the phone call when Farr wanted to talk to the Air Guard recruiter eight years ago. “One of the reasons I joined was definitely because of him [Brice],” Farr said.

Balancing Priorities

But Farr struggles with a dilemma; balancing his two passions -- cycling and his job with the Oregon ANG. Biking takes time away from his career and continuing education goals, yet the demands of his job makes training problematic because of time and energy constraints.

“He feels a real responsibility to his fellow airmen, especially since he is the shop supervisor with the demands of the mission,” Brice said. “Yet knowing how much the coaching staff and military organization want to support him, he struggled for a while to find the time to commit more to the sport.”

To create a win-win situation, Farr was able to compromise with a work schedule that allows him to thrive at both endeavors. He sat down with his supervisor, Air Force Lt. Col. Todd Hofford, 142nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, and created a schedule that permits him to work four 10-hour days each week, allowing one full day to train with his local team.

“It’s pretty incredible to realize what a professional athlete we have working here every day,” Hofford said. “Not only has he put Oregon on the map, but he’s integrated a team of officers and senior enlisted. He is the fastest contributor [of the team] and also the junior-ranking member."

Inspiring Fellow Airmen

Hofford emphasized that the positives outweigh the negatives in Farr’s circumstances and stressed that he inspires coworkers and leadership throughout the maintenance group.

“What has he done? The real question is what hasn’t he done?” Hofford said. “When you talk to him about his story -- from just jumping on a bike one day for recreation to where he is today -- it’s incredible. His energy and positive approach to everything is infectious.”

Hofford referenced a letter he received from Air Force Capt. Sean Cahill with the Massachusetts Air National Guard, echoing many similar sentiments about Farr. Cahill wrote about Farr’s involvement in the 2015 Military World Games in Mungyeoung, South Korea, in October, saying, “I wanted to let you know what a great guy you have there, both on and off the bike. He did a great job representing the Air National Guard and the 142[nd] FW.”

International Cycling Competition

More than 8,500 athletes from 123 nations participated in the 2015 Military World Games. Of the seven U.S. military competitors who made up the cycling team, Farr was the only enlisted member of the squad.

On a mostly flat course, the 95-mile bike race on Oct. 6 included competitors from 16 nations. “My job was to cover the early moves and breakaways of the other riders,” Farr said of the event and his team’s strategy for the race.

As the race progressed, Farr said that it was up to teammate Ian Holt to chase down the final lead riders. “Ian’s a sprinter and track guy so, by the end of the race, we held our own but were not able to cover other team moves,” he said. “In the end, there was no final card to play.”

Still, Farr said the experience left him with a new level of excitement, representing the United States on a world stage.

“It is something special, and yeah I have to admit, there were chills at the starting line," he said.

Uncommon Balance

Prior to his trip to Korea, Farr said he had competed in other races earlier in the summer to prepare him for the games and once again underlining some of the unique challenges he faces with a dynamic dual career.

At one event, held in Vermont Sept. 4-7, Farr said he competed in four different events on four separate days, and he finished eighth overall. He said his team director and coach, George Gonoung, a retired U.S. Coast Guard commander, told him he was probably the only person with a full-time job to finish in top 20.

Farr said he communicated almost daily with Gonoung, who lives in Washington, D.C., -- sharing training data and discussing diet, weight, cross-training workouts and other performance issues.

Now that it’s the offseason, Farr has reflected on the past year and wonders about what it would take to proceed to the next level of his cycling career. “To sign with a pro team means I would need to quit my job here,” Farr said. “I don’t want to do that.”

Coping With Training Rigors

Having raced now in nearly every state and many other locations in Europe, Farr said some of the excitement is starting to wear off. The training can be grueling, and the elements take their toll over time, he said.

“There are those 20-minute, hill-climbing training rides where I go as fast as I can as far as I can. It’s one of the worst feelings ever,” he said, with a laugh. “But literally, to reach the top of this sport, you have to have that killer instinct.”

And then there are the distinct weather conditions when riding in the Pacific Northwest nine months of the year.

“I’ve come home from a 100-mile training ride and my hands are so frozen I can’t get the key out of my pocket to unlock the door,” he said. “But like a gold fish, a horrible experience on one day is easily forgotten the next day.”

Still, Farr said taking his game to the next level comes with some perplexing choices. At 28, he’s at a prime age for endurance athletes, but he’s not sure at this point what will be the next step beyond his currently synchronized biking and Air Force careers.
“I’m really pleased with where I've gone,” he said. “As much as I love cycling, I love coming here and being part of the team I work with every day. For now, it’s great that I can do both.”