Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Meeting halfway: ADR gets the job done

by Senior Airman Areca T. Bell
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/22/2016 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy  -- No U.S. Airman is the same. Although they all work together to ensure the Air Force remains the world's greatest air, space and cyberspace power, each person may have a different outlook when approaching circumstances.

Sometimes conflicting opinions cause tension between parties due to a lack of understanding from each other's point-of-view. To help achieve open communication and contribution of ideas to constructively resolve conflict in the work center, the 31st Fighter Wing Equal Opportunity Office manages the Alternative Dispute Resolution program.

"Sometimes when people are having an argument, they only see their side of the situation," explained Master Sgt. Melinda Morris, 31st Fighter Wing EO superintendent and ADR manager. "We act as a third, neutral party and try to restore a healthy and happy environment."

The voluntary and confidential program was created after the Administrative Dispute Act of 1996, which called for all federal agencies to adopt and promote ADR.

"This is an avenue for people who can't see eye-to-eye," said Morris. "Conflict has always been around, but healthy conflict resolution hasn't necessarily been the way it is today."

Today, ADR offers many advantages. It promotes the opportunity for parties to speak directly to each other, identify differences and find common ground, which helps create a win-win situation.  Also, the time, resources and money necessary to achieve a resolution at the lowest level is reduced.

"If a complainant comes in and if the root cause may be a lack of communication, a [review] is usually conducted by the Legal Office [to determine if ADR is suitable]," said Morris. "A session is then scheduled. When a settlement is reached, it is routed through the appropriate agencies, whether it is the Legal Office, Civilian Personnel Office or even Air Force Personnel Center."

Additionally, ADR conflicts are resolved in an average of 42 days, which drastically contrasts Equal Employment Opportunity complaints procedures and EEO settlements, which average 405 days and 247 days respectively.

"We are neutral, we don't side with management or the complainant," Morris explained. "We are protectors of the process. We are here to help articulate what the issues are and to help solve them."

For more information on the ADR program, contact the EO Office at 632-5934 or visit

CENTCOM Theater Course offered on JBER

by Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
JBER Public Affairs

1/27/2016 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The U.S. Central Command Theater Course is coming to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson the first week of February. Two separate three-day iterations of the course are being offered: Feb 1 to 3 and Feb 3 to 5.

The course is designed for special operations personnel who will be operating in the CENTCOM theater, with emphasis on special operations forces aviation. The focus audiences include combat aviation advisors, aviation special tactics personnel, and standard and non-standard aviation mission planners. Other audiences include non-aviation SOF and those who support them.

One of the training organizers, Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Bliss, 703d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, said the course is beneficial to any Airman or Soldier of any rank or career field.

"For decades, SOF have been involved with face-to-face cross-cultural interaction," Bliss said. "In today's high operations tempo environment, regular Airmen and Soldiers are involved in cross-cultural interactions that previously would have only involved SOF. Cross-cultural training is beneficial for you no matter if you're in intelligence picking targets or in civil engieering making road repairs. Every year, many units and people from JBER deploy to the CENTCOM theater, and 2016 will be no exception"

Some of the topics covered include the history of Islam, Arab social and military culture, introduction to Iraq and Syria, Islamic radicalization and terrorism, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. foreign policy and the Arab spring, Iran: engagement vs. containment, Yemen, Pakistan and India, the drawdown in Afghanistan, Central Asia; and Afghanistan Transition and Development.

"This orientation course is important for all military members as we work to understand the layered complexities of the Middle East and Central Asia," said Air Force Maj. Justin Hickey, Deputy Division Chief for Theater Engagement at the USAF Special Operations School at Hurlburt Field, Florida. "Simultaneously, it will help our people better appreciate our CENTCOM allies and their culture, regardless of the type of deployment. The training originates from the SOF schoolhouse, but has been tailored to introduce Airmen and Soldiers of all backgrounds to CENTCOM's culture and security concerns."

According to Bliss, the training initiative's purpose is to develop Airmen.

"Equipping our Airmen with knowledge, understanding, and training to better accomplish their mission is our mission as tactical and operational leaders," Bliss said. "Cross-cultural (political and historical) knowledge are areas of focus that will only grow in importance. It's been said, 'an intimate understanding of culture's effects on human behavior is crucial to mission success.'"

Hickey, one of the course instructors, said the main takeaway he hopes to give students is to encourage them to critically think about the complex security issues in CENTCOM.

The training will be held at the 517th Airlift Squadron auditorium, Hanger 21, on the second floor. The Feb 1 to 3 course runs from 8 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. on days one and two, concluding with lunch at noon on the third day. The Feb 3 to 5 course runs from 1 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. on the first day, 8 a.m. to 3:50 p.m. on the second day, and from 8 a.m. to 1:50 p.m. on the third day.

AF sends F-35A to UK for air shows

By U.S. Air Force Public Affairs, / Published January 26, 2016

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force is taking the future of airpower to international audiences in England this summer.

The 56th Fighter Wing from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, will send F-35A Lightning IIs to fly in heritage flights and to be on public display at the Royal International Air Tattoo at Royal Air Force Fairford, England, and the Farnborough International Airshow. This will be the first time the Air Force sends an F-35 to an overseas airshow.

"We're very excited about demonstrating this capability to the world," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. "The F-35 represents a new way of thinking about data integration, weapons and tactics. We're thrilled to highlight the program and the amazing Airmen who support this cutting-edge fighter."

The Air Force Heritage Flight program features modern Air Force fighter aircraft flying alongside World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War-era aircraft in a dynamic display of our nation's airpower history.

"Being a part of these heritage flights allows the world to learn more about the F-35 and at the same time see just how far airpower has come over the years," said Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, the 56th Fighter Wing commander. "The F-35 will be the backbone of the Air Force fighter fleet and represent the future for the U.S., our partners and allies. This will be a great opportunity for everyone to see how amazing the F-35 is."

Officials Announce Winning Design Concept for National WWI Memorial

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, January 27, 2016 — The United States World War One Centennial Commission yesterday announced the winning design concept for a national memorial for what was known at the time as “The Great War.”

The incredible service and sacrifice of those who served in World War I a century ago finally will be honored in a memorial in the nation's capital, said Edwin Fountain, the commission's vice chairman.

Fountain, the grandson of two World War I veterans, announced the winning design concept at an event at the National Press Club here.

The winning concept is "The Weight of Sacrifice" by 25-year-old Joe Weishaar, a yet-to-be licensed architect, and veteran sculptor Sabin Howard.

The design concept met the challenges of creating a concept for such an important memorial, Fountain said. Those challenges, he explained, included finding an appropriate way to honor the magnitude of the service and sacrifice of the nearly 5 million people who served and the more than 116,000 who died.

Will Be Located Near White House

In addition, Fountain said, the design concept had to work into the surrounding landscape, complement the iconic architecture and design of historic Washington, and serve as a city park.

The memorial will be located in Pershing Park, near the White House. While the National Mall, where other war memorials are located, would be the preferred location, a law prohibits new construction on that expanse, Fountain said.

Architectural perspective drawing of the winning design for the World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C. Image courtesy of Joe Weishaar & Sabin Howard
Architectural perspective drawing of the winning design for the World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C. Image courtesy of Joe Weishaar & Sabin Howard
Besides serving as a permanent tribute to the service members, the memorial is meant to educate Americans and inspire them to learn more about the largely overlooked war that has profound influence to this day, Fountain said.

Honoring Those Who Served in Overlooked War

Those who fought and died in World War I did so with the "same courage and tenacity and sacrifice" as veterans of wars that have national monuments in Washington, Fountain said. Those who served in The Great War, he added, withstood the inferno of artillery barrages, and went down to the bottom of the sea in their ships.

"They fell from the skies in burning wreckage of airplanes, and they charged out of trenches across open fields and into woods and up hills that the enemy had spent years fortifying to defend," he said.

The service and sacrifice on such a scale must be commemorated, he said, adding it would be an injustice to not have a national memorial in Washington for them.

World War I began in July 1914 with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. It ended with the armistice on Nov. 11, 1918.

Memorial to 'Restore the Honor'

There are no living World War I veterans, Fountain noted, but descendants of those who served in the war have supported the efforts for the memorial.

Sandra Pershing's late husband, Jack Pershing, was the grandson of World War I Army Gen. John J. Pershing. The memorial is of tremendous significance to her family and the nation, she told the audience at yesterday’s event.

While noting there is a statue for General Pershing in Washington, she said her husband felt strongly there should be a memorial to honor the millions of others who served.

"Today we're going to start to restore the honor that has been so long in coming," she said.

Commission Hopes for 2018 Dedication

The winning concept will go through an extensive design review from a number of agencies, including the Commission of Fine Arts, the National Capital Planning Commission, and the National Park Service, Fountain said.

The commission hopes to begin construction on Veterans Day 2017, with a possible dedication on Veterans Day 2018. The commission is looking to raise $30 million to $40 million for the memorial, Fountain said.

366th Fighter Wing airmen prep for Combat Archer, Hammer

by Senior Airman Lauren-Taylor Levin
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/25/2016 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Airmen from the 366th Fighter Wing at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho sent personnel, aircraft and 41.4 short tons of cargo to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Jan. 24, in support of Combat Archer and Combat Hammer, a Weapons System Evaluation Program.

The WSEP combines the live air-to-air missile firing of Combat Archer and the air-to-ground bomb drops of Combat Hammer. The exercise is designed to test each participating units' WSEP, determine reliability, evaluate capability and limitations, identify deficiencies, recommend corrective action and maintain combat readiness.

Offutt gives students a chance at mechanics

by Senior Airman Rachel Hammes
55th Wing Public Affairs

1/26/2016 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Students studying Airframe and Power Plant disciplines at Iowa Western Community College have a unique opportunity to intern with the 55th Maintenance Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.

Twelve years ago, the squadron cut roughly 300 military slots and replaced them with approximately 150 civilian slots in a move to save the Air Force money. The squadron hired their civilians from a pool filled predominately with retired Air Force service members. That pool has been getting smaller.

"Basically, about nine months ago we were having trouble hiring civilians to fill slots that were coming open," said Wayne Welter, the Aircraft Maintenance Flight Chief of the squadron.

"What we've been trying to do is recruit across the nation, but one of the issues is we are one of the lower-paying areas because our economy is really good here in the Midwest," Welter said. "It's hard to get people to move from the east and west coasts to come here and take a drop in pay."

By recruiting from IWCC near Offutt, the 55th Maintenance Squadron is able to give students important experience, and there is an added bonus after graduation.

"We give them an opportunity while they're in school, to come over here and get paid, get job experience. If we have open slots once they graduate they can be hired," Welter said. "It's great for us, because they don't have to be trained and they have the experience already. They can come right in, and we can continue working without skipping a beat."

Even if the squadron doesn't have any open positions, the students are qualified for any Department of Defense aircraft mechanic position.

"Trying to get into a government job without a military background is hard, but this internship was a nice gateway for that," said David Garretson, a second year student in the program. He has been interning with the squadron since October.

Students ideally begin the program - known as the Grow Your Own Mechanic Program - in their first year. They compete amongst themselves for the six slots. If chosen, they start working 10 hours a week. As they grow more proficient, their hours are increased. Students must have 642 hours upon graduation to be hired.

"The first priority is their schooling, and we don't want to interfere with that," Welter said.

Even outside of the DoD, this internship provides students with valuable experience, he said.

"They will be qualified mechanics once they graduate, but the problem is people are looking for experience," he said. "Just because you have the book knowledge doesn't mean you'll be able to find a job. Most of their training, too, is on the smaller Cessna planes, which are completely different from what we have here. They're getting valuable experience they might not get otherwise."

There are currently three students in the program, but Welter hopes to bring the number up to six.

"We have a full force right now, but any day we could have three or four retirements, or someone could be married to a military member who PCSs to another base," he said. "The more we can train, the better we can be down the road."

By recruiting from close to home, Welter hopes to encourage the students to stay close to home.

"I think it'll encourage people to stay in the area, because if a job opens, it's a great job to have," Garretson agreed. "A lot of the guys who work in this shop were in the military for several years beforehand, and for many of them this was their first base. They decided to work the civilian side after leaving the military, which says a lot for the area."

Face of Defense: Air Force Couple Balance Military, Personal Lives

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Brandon May 47th Flying Training Wing

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas, January 27, 2016 — Despite sharing a stressful career for more than 10 years, one that included numerous moves from base to base, combat deployments and long and erratic working hours, one Air Force family has found a balance between the military and their personal lives.

Joining the Air Force, commissioning, becoming a pilot, progressing to the rank of major -- all of these things define the word "exceptional," yet Air Force Majs. Regina and Jared Wall have done all of the above.

Regina Wall, the assistant director of operations for the 86th Flying Training Squadron, and Jared Wall, the T-6A Texan II standardization and evaluation branch chief for the 47th Operations Group, have shared almost every duty station and three deployments since beginning their careers in 2005.


The Walls’ story began at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, where they first met in 2005 during the Air and Space Basic Course. Upon completion of ASBC, they found themselves on their way to Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, where they completed Initial Flight Training and each received a follow-on assignment to Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas.

After arriving at Laughlin, the Walls officially began their pilot careers in the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training program.

“Not only did we both get assigned to class 07-04, but our assigned seats were right next to each other in the flight room,” Regina said.

After the completion of the T-6 program, Jared continued at Laughlin as a T-1 Jayhawk student and Regina moved to Corpus Christi Naval Air Station, Texas, to fly the T-44A Pegasus. This was the couple’s first experience with a long-distance relationship.

“It was a good test for our relationship,” Regina said. “We both knew by being in the military we might have to spend some time apart, and it was something we needed to be prepared for.”

But this long-distance relationship was only temporary. On Dec. 14, 2006, toward the end of pilot training, Jared proposed to Regina. Two days later, they married. Then,

Jared and Regina were assigned to fly C-130 Hercules aircraft at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.

From Dyess, the Walls deployed together three times to Kuwait and were able to see various parts of the world and share unique and life-changing experiences.

“Sharing our deployments together and day-to-day Air Force life together has been a great experience,” Jared said. “It has allowed us to easily relate to each other. It also helps that during those deployments and during much of our career, we have had very similar jobs and the same mission.”

Family Life

In the spring of 2012, Jared and Regina relocated to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. That fall, their first child was born and would change the way Regina and Jared would go about their lives.

“It wasn’t just about us anymore,” Regina said. “Making decisions about our positions, assignments and deployments affected more than [us]. We had to do what was best for our whole family.”

While keeping their family’s needs in mind, the Walls’ careers continued to progress, and they moved back to Laughlin in January of 2014. Regina became a T-1A Jayhawk instructor pilot and Jared became a T-6A Texan II instructor pilot.

Since arriving here, the Walls have changed more than duty titles. They also had their second child and were promoted to the rank of major together.

This is unlikely to be the case for the next rank of lieutenant colonel, as the Walls will have to compete against each other to see who pins on first.

“We have a healthy competition,” Regina explained. “Of course I like to win, but if I was to get beat-out by anyone, I’d want it to be him.”

At this point, Jared and Regina aren’t sure where their careers will go, but they are ready for whatever comes next.

“We’re just going to do our best in the positions we hold now and go from there,” Jared said. “We know we can’t always get the exact assignment we want, but we’ve learned to compromise with each other and find a balance.”

“It is very easy for us to relate to each other,” he added. “We speak the same Air Force language.”

Although moving from base to base, deploying and working long and erratic hours can be stressful for dual-military couples, Jared and Regina say they have found the right balance for them and their family.

“We’ve learned to craft many of our career decisions around our family and relationship,” Regina said. “It’s not always easy, but sometimes what’s best for our careers may not be what’s best for our family.”

Both Jared and Regina say they are thankful for what they have and are eager to see what the future holds.
“We’ve overcome every obstacle we’ve been presented with so far,” Regina said. “Only time will tell what comes next.”