Thursday, January 14, 2016

Admiral Tidd Takes Command of Southcom

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

MIAMI, January 14, 2016 — Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd took command of U.S. Southern Command during a ceremony at Southcom’s headquarters here today, succeeding Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, who is retiring after four decades of service.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presided over the ceremony.

"We count on you to be there when it matters most," Carter said, noting that Southcom’s priorities include responding to natural disasters, detainee operations at Guantanamo, preparing for contingencies, confronting criminal networks and disrupting human and drug trafficking.

Southcom, which is responsible for U.S. military operations in Central and South America and the Caribbean, has an area of responsibility of more than 16 million square miles.

"You work with partner nations to promote the rule of law and democratic principles, and help to strengthen professional, accountable militaries that respect human rights," Carter said of the command.

The military and civilian personnel at Southcom, the defense secretary said, continue to provide the people of the United States and its regional partners a "chance to live in peace, to dream their dreams, to live full lives."

The constant theme of Southcom is partnership, Dunford said.

The command's personnel make an extraordinary difference in developing the deep partnerships and relationships in the region that truly make a difference, he said.

"Pound for pound, I can't think of another organization that is more effective," Dunford said. "For the last three years, that performance is a reflection of Gen. John Kelly's leadership."

Carter and Dunford each praised Kelly’s decades of service and welcomed Tidd in his new role, noting that both men are exceptional military leaders who have made extraordinary contributions to the nation.

Tidd: 'Distinct Privilege' to Serve at Southcom

Tidd said he looks forward to working with the personnel at the command, the command's interagency partners and regional allies.

"It's a distinct privilege and a pleasure to be able to lead this wonderful organization," Tidd told reporters after the ceremony, explaining that Southcom has been safeguarding the interests of the nation for more than five decades.

"I look forward to the opportunity to work very closely with the many close partners with whom we share interests throughout this hemisphere," he said. "It's a wonderful partnership. We have close friends. We have shared national security interests."

At the ceremony, Tidd said the work for the command includes "building innovative solutions to complex transregional challenges" and beginning the next chapter in Southcom's annual multinational exercise, Partnership for the Americas.

Tidd previously served as the assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and commanded U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet.

Afloat, he commanded Carrier Strike Group 8 aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower during a combat deployment in support of coalition forces in Operation Enduring Freedom.

He said he is honored to succeed Kelly, whose career also includes commanding Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North in Iraq from October 2009 to March 2011.

"There is no officer in uniform today who is steadier under fire, more capable in the heat of battle than John Kelly," Tidd said. "He is the gold standard of integrity, humility and heart -- one of the finest officers I know."

Tidd added, "It's an honor and it's a privilege to be able to follow in his wake."

Kelly's Farewell to Southcom

Kelly, who became Southcom’s commander in November 2012, said it was a great honor to serve with a command that has such a wide and deep mission.

He lauded the dedication and hard work of the civilians and military personnel who build those important relationships and partnerships in region, working as diplomats, social developers, human rights advocates, and economic developers.

"They have made a difference, not only for our country, but for our partner nations," Kelly said.

The general praised regional allies as well, noting, "I cannot tell you the honor it's been to make friends throughout Latin America -- equal friends, equal partners."

Official Urges Families to Learn About Veteran Burial Honors

By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, January 14, 2016 — Planning funerals for military veterans and retirees can be overwhelming for their families, and the Defense Department’s director of casualty and mortuary affairs wants family members to familiarize themselves in advance when possible to know what to expect with military funeral honors.

Deborah S. Skillman said families should learn about military funeral honors eligibility ahead of time to know what choices are available.  She also recommends that family members should ensure they have access to the veteran’s discharge papers, also called DD Form 214, to prove eligibility.

It’s also critical for family members who want military funeral honors to tell their funeral director, who can make the request for them, she said. The honors are not automatic, and must be requested through the veteran’s branch of service, she noted.

“Families [also] need to know DoD is going to be there when the honors are requested,” Skillman added.

DoD policy is mandated by law to provide a minimum of a two-person uniformed detail to present the core elements of the funeral honors ceremony, and one service member must represent the veteran’s branch of service, she said. The core elements comprise playing Taps, folding the American flag and presenting the flag to the family.

Burials with military funeral honors can be conducted at national, veterans’ or private cemeteries, she said.

Options Exist if Resources Permit

“While DoD is required to provide a [two-service-member] detail, policy encourages each service secretary to provide additional elements, such as the firing team and pall bearers, if resources permit. However, full honors are always provided for active duty deaths,” Skillman said.

"Military honors may consist of three rifle volleys by a firing team," she said, and added that veteran service organizations often participate in burials with military honors to serve as pall bearers and to provide a firing team.

The Veterans Affairs Department also offers other benefits, such as headstones, Skillman said.                  

“We want to honor every eligible service member,” Skillman said, “and make sure [the services] are there to render honors.”

JBER-wide school volunteer partnership benefits all

JBER Public Affairs

1/14/2016 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Ursa Major Elementary School on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson hosted their spelling bee Jan. 7 with Soldiers from the 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion as the judges and Alaska Representative Dan Saddler as the announcer.

The Soldiers have an ongoing relationship with Ursa Major Elementary as part of the JBER Anchorage School District and partnership program, and the spelling bee is but one of the many ways the 17th CSSB is involved in the school.

"The goal of the SPP is to improve citizenship and the educational experience of students through exposure to positive role models, support of the academic studies and school activities, and support unit sponsorship and mentorship," said Adele Daniels, JBER School Liaison Officer.

"It's really about supporting a community that supports us," Daniels said.

The SPP began with U.S. Army Alaska in 2009, and spread throughout the entire installation when JBER became a joint base, Daniels said.

Now, there are 28 units or squadrons partnered with 29 different schools in the Anchorage School District.

"It's extremely helpful; we don't always have consistent parent volunteers available," said Helen Harmon, a primary resource teacher and this year's spelling bee coordinator. "We have a lot of dual-working families, so having an extra body in the classroom is a phenomenal help."

Depending on the school, the volunteers may be doing anything from sitting and listening to first grade children read to them, to sprinting down the track with high school students as a mentor in a running club.

"A lot of elementary schools have a fall carnival or a holiday family night," Daniels said.

"Troops will help the staff members plan, set up, and attend the event. Volunteers might run a game or a booth. From planning to the very end, they are involved in the whole thing."

JBER service members serve as mentors to young adults all around the community, serving as mentors and role models to students of all ages in after school clubs, family days, and the Junior ROTC. The benefits aren't just to the students, though.

"It's a very positive experience to give back in such a way," Daniels said.

"I think it's very empowering for our service members, because it's not meaningless; they are sitting with a student, mentoring them, watching their face light up when they master a new concept. To see they can have that level of impact is very empowering."

For more information on the SPP, contact your unit SPP representative or the School Liaison Office at 250-3265.

Class is in session: College courses begin on Buckley AFB

by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski
460th Space Wing Public Affairs

1/14/2016 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Buckley Air Force Base has brought college level courses to the base, holding the inaugural class Jan. 12, 2016, at the Airmen Center for Excellence on Buckley AFB, Colorado.

Colorado Christian University was chosen by Buckley AFB to provide the courses being offered. Each course fulfills a requirement for a Community College of the Air Force degree.

Buckley AFB leadership has been working on providing college level courses to members of the base community and it has finally come to fruition this year through a partnership with CCU.

"This was a long process spearheaded by our Force Support Squadron team, specifically the Education and Training Section," said Col. Scott Romberger, 460th Space Wing vice commander. "They solicited for universities based off specific criteria, such as cost, fees, accreditation, course length, established Memorandum of Understanding with Department of Defense, accessibility and flexibility, among other factors. From that list, the options were narrowed until the wing finally selected CCU. Even after selection, there were base visits from the CCU President, legal reviews, and additional MOUs needed between the university and installation."

Having the ability to attend college level courses on the instillation has made earning a higher education more convenient for service members who work on base every day. Now, they don't have to look online in order to obtain the requirements outlined for a CCAF.

"I find it difficult to do courses online and prefer to have human interaction," said Master Sgt. Corinne Zimmer, 460th Space Communications Squadron network operations section chief. "The courses offer me both the ability to have the human interaction, the flexibility of on-line access, and face-to-face time with the professor if I have any questions."

The new partnership between CCU and Buckley AFB encourages service members to obtain higher levels of education because of the ease of enrolling and attending class. As well, tuition assistance offered by the Air Force covers the entire cost of each course, making it a free and easy way to extend future education opportunities.

"Colorado Christian University is very honored and excited to have the opportunity to provide higher education courses in a focused and accelerated format to the airman and other service members at Buckley AFB," said Roger Chandler, Student Success vice president. "We feel this is a natural extension of our already existing relationship. CCU is committed to supporting our local troops with fully accredited higher education courses that will accelerate and help complete their Community College of the Air Force degree. In fact, it is our desire to help all of the Buckley AFB service members to get the most out of their educational benefits so that the CCAF degree completion is only the first step in their educational career. The opportunity of earning a Bachelor or Master's degree should be on everyone's agenda and CCU can help them realize that dream."

This new pathway to achieving a higher level of education will provide Buckley personnel with an easily accessible free option to enhance not only their knowledge, but the mission as well.

"Our military is blessed with the smartest, best trained, best equipped, and most prepared forces in its history," Romberger said. "Part of that success story is providing higher level educational opportunities, like we now have here on base, which go beyond what is taught in basic training and technical schools.  The fact that our Team Buckley personnel can earn higher level education right here on base, not only helps our people both personally and professionally, but in many cases a force multiplier toward mission accomplished. Higher level education ensures Team Buckley is more resilient and better prepared to face all challenges."

Soldiers prepare for a deployment to JRTC to continue mission readiness

by Airman 1st Class Javier Alvarez
JBER Public Affairs

1/14/2016 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- A lone group of artillerymen stand by a M119A2 howitzer waiting for a fire mission.

The Soldiers, masters of their craft, have set up their station. They have trained for this day, practicing every aspect until they could do it asleep.

The call comes, and instantly the team springs into action. Every movement is calculated, each step purposeful. The speed and dexterity of the soldiers make the ring from the incoming call and the billowing smoke from the howitzer seems simultaneous.

It's difficult to determine which is more impressive - their speed, or the strength they exemplify standing in the frigid Alaska winter.

Soldiers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, are preparing to deploy to the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Louisiana, in the coming months.

"We stay overnight, and that's also where we get a lot of our arctic training," said Staff Sgt. Joseph Ricci, B Battery, 2-377th section chief. "We have to sleep outside and use our equipment. There aren't many units in the Army that are artillery like us and work in the arctic. Especially being airborne, we are the only [unit] in the world that are airborne-qualified and arctic-qualified. Arctic warriors as they call us."

Utilizing the weapon in the frigid temperatures of Alaska makes the 2-377th fire missions unique.

"If we have to go to war in a location where [the temperature] is below freezing, we will probably be the first ones they call," Ricci said.

Leading up to the deployment, the Soldiers performed live-fire exercises using the howitzer on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to ensure Soldiers are proficient at their job, said Sgt. 1st Class Jairo Torres, 2-377th platoon sergeant. Current live-fire exercises are part of the certification to then fire at JRTC.

"There are different criteria we have to meet prior to deploying to JRTC," Torres said. "Soldiers have to complete a safety written test, the artillery skills proficiency test, the gunner's test, and section certification. Section certification involves crew drills, dry-fire missions, rigging, and direct-fire missions."

The howitzer can be used to combat a variety of targets, whether they're personnel, buildings or weapons caches, or to support troops in contact with the enemy.

There is little room for error when operating the gun, which is why attention to detail is so important - and why the need for checks and balances for each part of the operation is equally critical.

Everyone's job in the fire mission is important, Ricci said. This is a team effort and no one man can do everything.

After receiving the coordinates from the fire direction center, field artillery units have 30 seconds to launch the round, said Torres. It requires accuracy and precision.

A round from the howitzer can travel miles depending on the charge used.

"The forward observers will call in the data," Ricci said. "They will get a grid and send it to the fire direction center; they're the brains of the artillery. They calculate where the target is and the give us the quadrant and the deflection. We input the [data] into the sight. We line up [our shot]. When [everything] is verified, we launch the round."

While the process might not be instantaneous, it is impressive to consider the speed at which Soldiers calculate the necessary trajectory of the fired round.

"In a real-world [situation], not training, from when the forward observer calls for a fire mission to [...] when we launch it, I would say it could be completed in five minutes," Ricci said. "Downrange, fire missions have to be approved. That could play into some waiting. If troops are dying, or are in contact with the enemy, we can [provide support] in less than five minutes."

While current fire missions might go on until 2 a.m., the Soldiers from the 2-377th don't have the luxury of going home for the night.

"The weapon is made for mountainous regions," Ricci said. "A lot of units that are in Afghanistan right now - that are in the mountains [or] in the outposts - are using the 119A2 howitzer. It is a very maneuverable weapon and is the optimal weapon for Afghanistan."

The AFMS in the Persian Gulf War and the need for critical care

by Kevin M. Hymel
Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs

1/14/2016 - FALLS CHURCH, Va.  -- January 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of Desert Storm, it also marks a turning point in Air Force Medical Service's Critical Care Transport Teams (CCATT). "We were not serving the Army as well as we could have in the Air Force," explained Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Paul K. Carlton, a former Air Force Surgeon General who had been working on the concept of CCATT since the 1980s.

As the U.S. military and its allies assembled in the Middle East in the summer and fall of 1990--Operation Desert Shield--in response to Iraq President Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, then-Col. Carlton set up the 1,200-bed Air Force 1702nd Contingency Hospital in combination with an Army Combat Support Hospital outside of Muscat, Oman. Yet, as Desert Shield turned to Desert Storm on January 19, 1991, the hospital only took in 42 patients, and those were only from surrounding bases. "We did not get any war wounded," said Carlton, who offered beds to the CENTCOM surgeon in an effort to better utilize the facility.

To make the case for his hospital, Carlton traveled to the battlefield to offer assistance. "I picked up a couple of Air-EVAC missions just to let more people know we existed," he said. "I told Army commanders to send anyone to us." But it soon became apparent the Air Force could not meet the Army's needs. "We could not take people with catheters or tubes, much less needing a ventilator."

Instead of relying on the Air Force, the Army built large hospitals closer to the front. "The Army built up just like they did in Vietnam," said Carlton. "They had a very big footprint." AFMS leadership wanted smaller hospitals connecting back to the United States, but to do that, they needed a modern transportation system. Although Carlton and other colleagues had been working on improvements to patient transportation since 1983, air evacuations were still very restrictive. The equipment needed to keep a patient alive was new and untested. "Modern ventilators blew out lungs all the time," explained Carlton. "We needed to work the kinks out and we needed the opportunity to work in the modern battlefield. We needed critical care in the air."

When the war ended in late February, Carlton and other AFMS officers returned home and brought their CCATT ideas to the Air Training Command. "The war was not an aberration," Carlton said, "we had to modernize our theater plans to be able to transport patients." Carlton and his colleagues trained three-person crews to work with new and improved ventilation equipment aboard airplanes. "That was the long pole in the tent," he explained. "When you take a critical care patient you say 'we can ventilate that patient,' and you better be able to." With the new program up and running, the AFMS made CCATT available to the other services.

CCATT gained momentum when, in 1993, Carlton and his colleagues traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia, for an after action brief on the U.S. Army's "Blackhawk Down" engagement, and explained CCATT to the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) surgeon. He, in turn, handed Carlton a check and said "I want that as soon as you can make it."

The turning point came in 1995 during the Bosnian War, when an American Soldier riding a train to Bosnia was electrocuted by an overhead wire and fell off the train. He was immediately transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, where doctors wanted him transferred to the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

When Maj. (Dr.) Bill Beninati picked up the patient for the flight to the United States, he was still very unstable. Somewhere over Greenland, the patient went into septic shock and Beniniati and his team resuscitated him. When they touched down in San Antonio, some twelve hours later, the patient was in better shape than when he left. "That's when the Army took notice," said Carlton. "We had convinced them that we could do what we said."

Soon, the Air Force Surgeon General at the time, Lt. Gen. Alexander Sloan, approved the CCATT concept. Later, with the strong endorsement of Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Charles Roadman II, CCATT became a formal program.

CCATT proved invaluable in the next conflict, Operation Iraqi Freedom, where casualty evacuation became a vital necessity, as well as in Afghanistan. Carlton is proud of CCATT. "We have developed a modern transportation system to go along with the modern battlefield for the Army, Navy, and the Marines." Today, CCATT is considered a vital component of AFMS, but it took a war to liberate Kuwait some 25 years ago for the military to realize how badly it was needed.

Face of Defense: Air Force NCOs Achieve Education Goals

By Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Voss, Maxwell Air Force Base DoD News, Defense Media Activity

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala., January 14, 2016 — Now a Ph.D., Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Jackie-Lynn Brown recalls her mother pecking away, key by key, on an old, manual typewriter at the dinner table. She remembers her saying, "We can be 10 years older and have our degree or we can be 10 years older and not have it."

Brown, the director of education at the Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education here, said it was her mother’s words of wisdom many years ago and the opportunities afforded by military service that propelled her to earn her doctorate in organization and management.

"For many semesters, on school nights I would leave work in time to grab something quick from the vending machines and make it to class by 5:15 p.m., sometimes staying until 9:30 p.m.," she said. "Taking classes like this made for long nights, but it was well worth it."

As an airman, Brown first decided to use her off-duty time and enroll in college classes offered through the base education office. Over the years, Brown used that motivation to pursue a master’s degree in Global Management before moving on to her doctorate.

While it’s a bit unusual to earn a Ph.D. in the enlisted ranks, Brown is far from alone when it comes to pursuing degrees while juggling the demands of enlisted life. Anyone who has carried a full-time schedule of college credits understands what is required to pursue education. It may sound taxing, but each year the Community College of the Air Force awards more than 22,000 associate degrees to airmen.

Many enlisted service members may be interested in obtaining their technical degrees for promotion to the senior noncommissioned officer ranks, but what drives the more than 30,000 enlisted personnel who have obtained bachelor’s, master’s and even doctorate degrees?

Late Nights Studying

Air Force Master Sgt. Alicia Barley, CCAF regional manager, said she pursued an advanced degree to show the importance of education to her children.

When Barley earned her CCAF associate degree, she joined a group of more than 456,000 other airmen who have received the degree since 1972. She also joined a smaller pool of enlisted airmen who obtained an advanced degree.

“There were many nights I spent time doing homework while my children were doing theirs,” explained the CCAF regional manager. “Those days were rough and long, but I can say I did it and did not give up even though I had days I wanted to say forget it.”

Although the continual pursuit of off-duty education is outlined in Air Force Instruction 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure, obtaining an advanced degree is not required for most enlisted jobs, so why do enlisted airmen do it?

The ‘Why?’

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Andrew Hollis, CCAF vice commandant, admits that without his master’s degree, being seriously considered for his current position would have been difficult. However, he wasn’t going after a specific position when he started attending classes. “Each academic advance made me feel like I was changing lanes in downtown Atlanta,” Hollis said. “I started in the slow lane and kept progressing into faster and faster lanes as my knowledge and confidence advanced.”

Hollis said that earning the CCAF associate’s degree and getting an undergraduate or graduate degree can be life-changing for airmen and their families. For many, the CCAF associate’s degree is a stepping stone on their educational journey. A recent CCAF graduating class survey revealed that 29 percent of students stated that with their associate’s degree, they became the first person in their families’ history to graduate.

For airmen who grew up in a difficult environment, like Master Sgt. Anthokira Dobbs, the educational services flight chief at CCAF, pursuing an advanced education was a means of providing a better way of life for her and her family.

“I was determined to not stay there,” Dobbs said, who completed her master’s by the time she was a technical sergeant. “My parents taught me growing up that having a solid education was the foundation to success, and I continued to use those values to motivate me.”

Although there are different reasons enlisted airmen pursue advanced degrees, there are common themes; from wanting to escape a rough childhood to setting a positive example for their children and families.

“I personally put myself through the rigors of balancing work and family to show my son that hard work, determination and some sacrifice is a way of life. Nothing in life is free and these are some of the things I have to do to make sure I am able to provide for him,” Air Force Master Sgt. Kimberly Woods, a CCAF flight chief, said.

“Also, I am trying to lead by example not only at work but at home as well. Education is an important accomplishment that will help to sustain our way of life after I am no longer wearing the uniform,” she said.

Woods recalls her mother working several jobs to provide for her and her brother. She said she saw the fatigue and sometimes sadness in her mother’s eyes, but she also saw her determination.

“I never saw her give up, and for that I am thankful, because that molded me into the woman I am today,” Woods said. “My family looks up to me and is very proud, and I want to make sure my son will look at me just as proudly as the rest of my family.”

A sense of responsibility to family serves as a motivator for many, but others believe the pursuit of higher education comes from a commitment to service before self and excellence.

“For most of us, the time we serve in the Air Force is during our peak productive years. We are trained to prioritize and to engage multiple tasks,” said Tech. Sgt. Jody Bowles, CCAF educational services technician. “I also believe that people will make time for what they want to make time for. If education is a priority for them, they will find a way to make it happen.”

Making Advanced Education Accessible

The Barnes Center, CCAF’s parent organization, has worked to make bachelor’s degrees more accessible to airmen.

Today, programs like the Air University Associate-to-Baccalaureate Cooperative, or AU-ABC, connects CCAF graduates with online four-year degree programs at regionally and nationally accredited postsecondary schools. However, while everyone is for obtaining goals, what good is an advanced degree for an Air Force enlisted member?

According to Dobbs, airmen who are willing to put themselves through the rigor are motivated, determined and always looking for challenges.

“These types of people are not just doing something to check off boxes or fit the status quo,” Dobbs said. “They are people who are determined to do things to better themselves and those around them, and the Air Force benefits from having people of that caliber.”

With 23,206 CCAF graduates in 2015 and more than 1,900 AU-ABC enrollments in October alone, the question has to be do the skills learned in college translate to the military mission?

According to Air Force Tech. Sgt. Derryn Beasley, a 42nd Security Forces flight chief, the answer to that question is a resounding, ‘Yes.’

“As you progress in the military, your job changes from being a technician to mentoring others, even junior officers,” Beasley said. “I believe a college degree, coupled with experience, gives you the credibility needed to do that.”

Setting an Example

Beasley used tuition assistance to finish his CCAF associate’s degree in 2009, a bachelor’s degree in 2013 and is three classes from a master’s. Despite the financial assistance he received, he said there were a lot of sacrifices, but he believes it is about leading from the front.

“I wanted to pursue education to set the example and be the whole-person the Air Force needs,” he said.

Beasley’s sentiments are shared by Bowles, who believes advanced education relates to being a better technician.

“I think pursuing education motivates airmen and gives them life experiences that directly correlate to a higher performing technician,” Bowles said. “It also gives them real-life experiences to pass along to their future subordinates. Being a better technician that can adapt and think critically about their part of the mission will lead to better processes and innovation.”

According to Dobbs, the pursuit of education is contagious, and the Air Force benefits greatly by tracing much of its military innovations to an educated enlisted force.

“Educated enlisted airmen benefit the Air Force mission by fostering an environment of excellence and critical thinking,” Dobbs said. “These airmen will also continue to make the Air Force the best in the world because they will bring their innovative ideas to the table.”

Air Force Col. Ed Thomas, Barnes Center commander, said that what is impressive about these airmen is that they pursue these degrees at the busiest times of their lives.

“This is the time in most airmen’s careers when they are balancing the mission, young children and spouses at home, community involvement and education,” said Thomas, who’s been selected for promotion to brigadier general.
“It’s not news that we have the smartest enlisted force on the planet, but we also have the best-educated force on the planet,” he said. “And it doesn’t happen by accident.”