Tuesday, January 19, 2016

ACC Commander paves way for RPA enterprise improvements

by Staff Sgt. Adawn Kelsey
432nd Wing/432nd

1/19/2016 - CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nevada -- Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Steve McDonald paid a visit to the Airmen of the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, Jan. 14, 2016, to address some of the challenges and unique issues the remotely piloted aircraft enterprise faces.

During the visit, Carlisle held an all-call where he talked about Culture and Process Improvement Program and the results that came from that initiative. He also thanked the thousands of members who attended the focus sessions and responded to the surveys.

"I want to thank you all for your feedback," Carlisle said. "We took what you said and put them into about 140 action items. These items are things we think we need to do to make this enterprise right. We want to build the force structure, and build the capability to have a sustainable enterprise that provides the warfighter with what they need, while taking care of the people who are doing the mission."

Looking forward, Carlisle informed the Airmen of the progress and changes they can expect with the information gathered during the CPIP. One of the key issues he touched on was RPA manning and the need to increase that number by 2,500-3,500 Airmen.

"First and foremost you have to have people," he said. "I need to take a portion of this enterprise and put them in dwell. I need to take those folks out of the fight and let them do tactics, techniques and procedures and let them figure out how else we can take advantage of this weapons system, and how it can help the warfighters."

One significant change coming to the RPA enterprise is the expansion of location options through the strategic basing process.

"What we have here at Creech is huge," he said. "It's a lot of squadrons within a wing with a huge population. That is not average for a wing in our U.S. Air Force. We need to build at least one more wing, build more groups and more squadrons that are standard with the right equipment to do 'X' number of lines each day. With this we will be able to take squadrons out of the fight so they can do all of the other things squadrons do to keep themselves, healthy, trained and capable."

Another project his group is working on is the force presentation and organization model and building the RPA enterprise in support of this mission.

"There are a couple of key things when we look at new bases because of the size of this enterprise," Carlisle said. "One of these is the flow of the information, does this place have an Air Operations Center, do these bases have infrastructure for information transfer."

The ACC commander also talked about other opportunities that can be made more readily available to the RPA enterprise, such as education, promotion opportunities, and alternative job opportunities to build up the career track including the RPA maintenance career fields.

"We are looking at career progression and a career pyramid and how do we get you all the opportunities that every single other enterprise in the United States Air Force gets so you can move forward," he said. "There are several other things we are looking at when it comes to enlisted retention opportunities with respect to bonuses and air crew incentive pay. We have lobbied hard with congress to make those changes and the potential of bonuses."

Carlisle said the members of Creech AFB and the future of the RPA enterprise will continue to play a huge role in furthering our national security interests through persistent ISR and combat engagement when required.

"The men and women at the 432nd Wing are dedicated professionals, committed to the mission and every day they are contributing to our nation's security today and maintaining readiness for tomorrow's fight," he said. "I'm extremely impressed not only by their professionalism, but also by their resiliency and the way the 432nd Wing has ensured that we win today's fight but not lose sight of taking care of people and preparing for the future.  I've been inspired by the innovation and devotion these men and women show seven days a week, 365 days a year in executing one of our nation's most critical missions."

B-Course series: Students take first flight

by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/12/2016 - KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. -- After a month of intensive academics and many, many trips to the simulator 1st Lt. Scott McGowen arrived at the pre-flight brief for his maiden flight in the F-15 Eagle aircraft.

He describes the journey to this point as an uphill climb, one that's lasted nearly three years.

It began for him as an enlisted member at Barnes ANG base in Massachusetts, where he developed a passion for flying that has fueled his dream of one day piloting the Eagle.

The first item on the agenda was his bachelor's degree, followed by the expense and rigor of earning a private pilot's license--something nearly all Air National Guard accessions to pilot training have in common.

On Dec. 10, 2015, McGowen and his instructor pilot Maj. Victor Knill walk to a waiting F-15, greet the crew chief, and climb aboard the aircraft.

"The only thing I was thinking about, the only thing you can think about when you climb into the cockpit, was making sure to do everything right, just the way you cover in the brief," said McGowen. The preflight brief for this flight lasted nearly an hour and a half and the first hour was largely devoted to checklist items that have to happen before the jet moves an inch.

Knill rapid-fired a technical litany ranging from the simple to the complex, beginning with the walk-around and progressing to preparing all of the aircrafts different systems to take flight.

One interchange sounds like this: "... with the course align we are gonna go to our HMD pitch, we are going to containerize record, we are recording on the RMM, we are gonna hit align. When you do this the HUD is basically blanked, all you are doing with that is superimposing them on each other. 'have you done this in the SIM? You have, ok.' Then you go down long left for greater than two seconds what you'll see is align, aligning, align ok, fine align, so deselect align here and you should be good to go, any questions?" asks Knill.

To the uninitiated this techno-speak is nearly impossible to decrypt, but Knill says he is merely reiterating steps that the students have committed to memory over the past month since their arrival. They do this by repeated trips to the simulator logging two to three times the number of required simulator sessions, by sitting-in while classmates do their simulator sessions and by "chair flying" or practicing their procedures in a chair at home when they are off-duty.

Mentally all of these procedures are second nature, and during the entire brief McGowen does not ask a single question, but the test of the first flight is seeing if that cognition can survive contact with the real thing.

"Everything changes when you feel the power of the aircraft, when being safe isn't just something you talk about in a classroom anymore but an actual life-and-death consideration for you and others you fly with. For some it makes them better and for others it presents a hurdle," says Knill.

On this particular day McGowen completes his checklists and taxis to the north end of the runway. A few minutes later he engages the afterburner on both engines and rockets south, taking to the air for his first time at the controls of an F-15.

"It was a good flight; he was well prepared and confident and those can be keys to having a good first flight," said Knill. He goes on to say that this particular juncture in the course can be the most challenging psychologically as a student moves from a sterile academic environment to the rigors of the cockpit. Students are often surprised when during a break in the action they realize they are soaked in their own perspiration--brought on by a combination of stress and exertion. And it's in that environment that an instructor pilot needs to see their preparation shine through. They need to have command of their procedures and excellent situation awareness even as they fight off task saturation.

At this point, for this B-course, flying is primarily just that--flying--but just on the horizon is the next big challenge, which is employing the aircraft as a weapon. When that day arrives all of this flying should be second nature as well.

Team Dover chief recounts his Gulf War experience

by Senior Airman Zachary Cacicia
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

1/19/2016 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- The second half of 1990 saw the Middle East erupt in turmoil, as Iraqi forces under the leadership of Saddam Hussein launched an unprovoked invasion of Kuwait. This resulted in the formation of a U.S.-led coalition whose purpose was to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

In January 1991, the buildup of U.S. forces in the region, known as Operation Desert Shield, saw then 20-year-old Senior Airman Geraldo Moore performing his duties. He was assigned to the 52nd Military Airlift Squadron as a loadmaster on the C-141B Starlifter, an aircraft no longer flown by the U.S. Air Force, at Norton AFB, California, a base that no longer exists. Jump ahead 25 years to today, Senior Airman Moore is now Chief Master Sgt. Moore, 436th Operations Group superintendent and 436th Airlift Wing interim-command chief.

"I was flying the air-bridge from the United States through Europe, down into Saudi Arabia to plus up the forces for Desert Shield," Moore explained.

Throughout Operation Desert Shield and its successor Operation Desert Storm, Moore estimates that he accumulated more than 1,500 flight hours.

"This was a time when the Air Force wasn't as close to the fight as we are today," said Moore. "Most of our bases were in Saudi Arabia, well away from the Kuwait border. So it isn't like it is today where we put an airfield where all the action is."

This is not the only thing that has changed in the Air Force over the past 25 years. We have gone from a total force of more than 712 thousand and 8,600 aircraft, to a force today of 486 thousand and 5,500 aircraft.

Over the past 25 years, Moore has watched and been a part of the ever changing Air Force. He has seen it shrink, grow and shrink again. He has been amazed by the level of professional growth that he has witnessed in the force's newest Airmen.

"The everyday Airman now is more combat ready and equipped for contingency operations," Moore said. "I am amazed by them and I thank them, because they are coming into the United States Air Force when we are in a shooting conflict, and the Air Force is right where the bullets fly. When I came in, that concept was unheard of."

Moore elaborated.

"The combat attitude, the warrior Airman spirit, that's all new over the last 20 years or so," he said. "It gives us a capability that is unmatched by any other nation to be honest."

Not only have the Airmen changed for the better, but so has the Air Force as an institution and organization, said Moore.

"We are better equipped to deal with emerging threats in an expeditious manner," said Moore. "If you look how long it took us to get ready for combat in the Gulf War, it was almost nine months; it took a long time. Now if you compare that on how long it took to insert ourselves and get ready for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, we are light years ahead of where we were then."

The Air Force has changed dramatically throughout its history, especially the past 25 years. But more so, its Airmen have changed as well, and for the better.

"Today's Airmen carry a heavier responsibility than the Airmen of my time," said Moore.

Yellow Ribbon program helps Airmen readjust after deployment

by Senior Airman Cody Martin
188th Wing Public Affairs

1/14/2016 - EBBING AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ark. -- The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program was the main topic of discussion for members of the 188th Wing during a seminar held here Jan. 10, by Mark McDaniel, Arkansas YRRP coordinator.

The YRRP's mission is to assist, collaborate and partner with the Armed Services at the lowest level possible in order to provide service members, veterans and their family members with informational events and activities, referrals and proactive outreach services throughout the phases of deployment or mobilization.

"Yellow Ribbon talks about the tools and things that are available for you to get ready to deploy," said McDaniel. "By doing this, service members are better integrated back into the norms of society."

There are five types of Yellow Ribbon events. The first is before the deployment, the second is during the deployment for the family members left behind and the final three are 30, 60 and 90 days after the deployment. McDaniel encourages Airmen and their families to participate in YRRP events throughout the deployment process.

"Those that deploy should come to learn about communication," said McDaniel. "I think it is crucial for their families to attend because there are a lot of times where there are misunderstandings that create differences and puts wedges in place that don't need to be there."

The program also helps service members with post-traumatic stress. The U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs estimates that 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD in a given year.

The YRRP provides avenues for our Guardsmen to get support.

"Since its integration, the YRRP has shown a significant increase in service members learning to cope with PTSD," said McDaniel. "If we can help people help themselves and give them the tools to get past what may have occurred, they can learn to retrain themselves."

The families of our deployed Airmen are also affected during the deployment. The YRRP is able to provide information, resources, referral and proactive outreach throughout the deployment cycle.

"I believe not only does the service member serve, the family serves as well," said Michelle Pike, Airmen and Family Readiness program manager at the 188th Wing. "That separation is very difficult and we owe it to our family members to teach them some coping mechanisms and let them know the types of resources available."

Additional information on the YRRP can be found online at jointservicessupport.org/YRRP.

Recruiter earns 'top production' in Missouri ANG

by Senior Airman Bruce Jenkins
139th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

1/12/2016 - ROSECRANS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mo. -- A recruiter assigned to the 139th Airlift Wing in St. Joseph, Mo. was the top production recruiter in the Missouri Air National Guard for 2015.

For his efforts, Tech. Sgt. Jason Jones received the Air Force Commendation Medal from Col. Ralph Schwader, commander of the 139th Airlift Wing during January drill.

Jones enlisted 36 new Airmen in 2015, which was 103% of his assigned goal, which included 'hard to fill' or 'critical career fields' as designated by the National Guard Bureau.

Jones also reached out to events such as the Kansas City Gay Pride Parade, which had an attendance of 25,000 people, the Downtown Kansas City Air Show with attendance of over 20,000, and the Tarkio Fly-In including 1,000 people.

14th Air Force leadership visits Buckley AFB

by Airman 1st Class Gabrielle Spradling
460th Space Wing Public Affairs

1/16/2016 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Lt. Gen. David J. Buck, Commander, 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic), Air Force Space Command; and Commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space, U.S. Strategic Command, toured base facilities and met with Team Buckley Airmen Jan. 14 and 15 at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado.

During his visit, which was a stop on his tour of 14th AF wings, he also took the time to see how Airmen were doing, discussed the importance of the 460th Space Wing mission and held a commander's call.

"I've been exposed to the 460th over the last day and a half, and I've taken a couple things away," said Buck. "What I've taken away from here is it's hard to argue that Buckley is not the center of the space community, all through space and above. You lead U.S. Strategic Command's number one mission area of missile warning."

During the commander's call, Buck told stories about his AF career. He talked about the importance of people and how much you can learn from simple conversations. Chief Master Sergeant Craig A. Neri, Command Chief Master Sergeant, 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic), Air Force Space Command; and Command Senior Enlisted Leader, Joint Functional Component Command for Space, U.S. Strategic Command, who also visited Buckley AFB, agreed with the importance of people and stressed the value of wingmanship.

Neri held a senior NCO call where he discussed promotions, enlisted performance reports and better support for Airmen.

"We have got to get back to the business of taking care of Airmen because they are the future," said Neri.

Buckley leadership valued the time to showcase the vital missions on base and the Airmen who operate them.

"It was great to highlight our amazing team to our 14th Air Force Commander and our operational Commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space, along with the 14th AF Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Craig Neri and Tech. Sgt. Tamara Acfalle, one of the Air Force's Twelve Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2015," said Col. John Wagner, 460th Space Wing commander.

As Buck and Neri's visit came to a close, they felt as though they got a true sense of what Team Buckley is about.

"I think the real take away for me as I leave Buckley is the incredible sense of community that is here," said Buck. "What a close-knit community."

Face of Defense: Ballroom Dancing Enhances Soldier’s Free Time During Deployment

By Army Sgt. Ian Kummer DoD News, Defense Media Activity

January 19, 2016 — After the day’s tasks are done, just about any conversation with Army Spc. Megan O’Malley will lead to one topic: her love for ballroom dancing.

O’Malley is a automated logistics specialist deployed here with the Washington Army National Guard’s Echo Company, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation Regiment, 40th Combat Aviation Brigade. A military compound marked by faded wood and damp concrete jutting from the mud of the winter desert, Camp Buehring is not the first place that comes to mind when the word “ballroom” is mentioned. But according to O’Malley, all one really needs to ballroom dance is an empty motor pool bay and a nice shirt.

She said she grew up on a farm in Port Angeles, Washington, where she and her older brother were first introduced to dancing by their mother, who used to be a professional dance roller-skater.

“We started dancing as a family and branched out with our own interests as individuals,” O’Malley said.

Shortly after turning 16, O’Malley said she found a new enthusiasm for dance when she saw the 1998 film “Dance with Me.” She said she fell in love with ballroom dancing.

“As a teenager, I had two passions: dancing and horses,” O’Malley said. “In my twenties, every weekend I would drive two hours to meet up with friends and ride all day, then shower and change to go dancing.”

In Tough Times

In January 2012, O’Malley said she faced the darkest period of her life, losing her job and home in the same month. That May, O’Malley enlisted in the Washington National Guard and started basic training on her 30th birthday.

“My ex told me I wouldn’t even make it through boot camp. Yet, there I was,” she said.

After completing her training, O’Malley started drilling at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. She said she had no problem fitting in with her fellow soldiers and becoming a valuable team member.

“She really enjoys helping people,” said Army Pfc. Logan Easton, a generator mechanic in the company. “She acts like a [noncommissioned officer].”

Since her deployment began last October, O’Malley said she has turned to dancing more frequently after duty hours. With the support of her company leaders and the local morale, welfare and readiness center, she’s started a dancing class for other soldiers. She said she looks forward to growing both as a soldier and as a dancer during her unit’s tour in Kuwait.