Thursday, April 12, 2018

Face of Defense: Airman Recalls Journey to Lose Weight, Join Air Force

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb 14th Flying Training Wing

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss., April 11, 2018 — Air Force Airman 1st Class Jacob Davis was overweight and the target of bullies throughout his early high school years.

He decided to make some changes.

“I was tired of being bullied for my weight. I was hanging around the wrong groups, and I needed to change my lifestyle,” said Davis, an aviation resource manager with the 14th Student Squadron here.

‘Working Hard, Eating Right’

After his sophomore year in high school, Davis recalled, he “started working hard and eating right when I could.”

“Now looking back on it, lots of people started encouraging me at school and at home,” he said. “They were proud of me.”

During his high school senior year, Davis realized he didn’t want to become stagnant or lose the progress he was making.

“After changing my life around and looking into the Air Force, I saw they would push me to be better, and it seemed like a good fit,” he said. “A few of my friends were preparing to be Marines and soldiers, and they encouraged me to join, too. I didn’t just want to sit around at a comfortable job and gain all the weight back, so I became very interested in the military.”

Family Support

Davis’ family, which has a history of military service, was very supportive of his decision to join the Air Force, he said.

“My parents were helping me and tried to help push me in the right direction,” Davis said. “My brother was in the Marines, so he was a good influence, as well. Regardless of the help and the shift in my daily life, it was definitely an uphill battle.”

He ran almost every day, took up football, lifted weights with friends and consumed smaller portions of food. And over the next two years he lost weight.

“There was a lot for me to prove. I lost over 100 pounds to prepare for basic training, and I when I got there I was proud to be scoring really high on the physical fitness test,” Davis said.

He said his initial goal was just to complete basic training, but by the end of it he never scored below a 90 percent out of 100 on the physical fitness test.

Parents’ Pride

“My first time home after completing basic, my dad reminded me of how he remembers I couldn’t do a single pushup in the living room,” Davis said. “When both my parents saw my progress, I think that transformed my mindset from pride in my progress to pure determination to keep pushing myself up the hill.”

The effort Davis put into his physical fitness carried over into other aspects of his life, he said. After completing technical training, he was assigned here, where he maintains flight records and validates aircrew safety requirements.

“He works really hard. His work ethic did transfer into his career,” Air Force Airman 1st Class Amiron Cottman, the squadron’s aviation resource manager, said of Davis. “Motivation isn’t a question. When I was gone for two weeks, he took over a lot of the work. It shows in everything he does.”

Davis is always driven to achieve more, Cottman said.
“A lot of what Davis does is to better himself and those around him,” he added. “People like him for his sense of humor and the energy he brings every day. He is proof that working hard can get you where you want to be.”

Oklahoma Guardsmen Participate in Water Rescue Training

By Army Maj. Geoff Legler, Oklahoma Army National Guard

OKLAHOMA CITY, April 11, 2018 — Members of the Oklahoma Army National Guard participated in water rescue training last week over the waters of the Oklahoma River here as part of a newly formed rescue task force.

Oklahoma Task Force One is composed of members of the Tulsa, Verdigris, Norman and Oklahoma City fire departments, along with members of the Oklahoma Army National Guard.

The task force’s firefighters are certified rescue divers and paramedics who filled the roles of flood victims and rescue swimmers during the exercise.

Oklahoma Army National Guard helicopters and guardsmen from Army Aviation Support Facility 1 in Tulsa and AASF 2 in Lexington spent most of the day hovering over the Oklahoma Riversport complex in Oklahoma City, hoisting rescue divers from the Oklahoma River.

Rescue Task Force

Task Force One, which officially began operations in October, specializes in rescuing civilians from deadly situations such as open and rapid water, lost hikers, collapsed trenches, and rooftop and post-natural-disaster rescues, among others.

“[We] are deployable during state/local emergencies and regional to national emergencies similar to what [is] seen during our flood season in the spring, [periods of] heavy storm impact, even up to the hurricanes that we’ve seen as recent as last year in Texas,” said Lt. Josh Pearcy, lead rescue swimmer for the Oklahoma City Fire Department.

Together, the firefighters and National Guard aviators make up what is known as an HSRT, or helicopter search and rescue team, which is overseen, funded and dispatched by Oklahoma’s Office of Emergency Management.

Practicing Rescue Techniques

For this exercise, the Oklahoma Army National Guard employed two UH-60 Black Hawk and two UH-72 Lakota helicopters. The aircrews, along with rescue divers, practiced open-water rescue techniques using both strop harnesses and rescue baskets.

Each rescue diver had the opportunity to play both the rescuer and the rescued and to rotate between each of the helicopters using both the harnesses and baskets.
“Next month we’ll be doing rapid-water training, and [for our] final culmination, we’d like to be doing rapid-water training at night, using night-vision goggles,” said Army Capt. Brandon Files, the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s liaison to Task Force One.

Lethality Task Force Leaders: U.S. Ground Fighters Must ‘Overmatch’ Enemies

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

ARLINGTON, Va., April 11, 2018 — American ground fighters must overmatch any potential adversary, now and in the future, the men in charge of the Close Combat Lethality Task Force said here today.

Robert Willke, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, who serves on the task force’s advisory board, spoke about the effort at the Association of the United States Army’s Sullivan Center.

The effort looks to improve the lethality of Army, Marine Corps and special operations light infantry units, and it is personally being pushed by Defense Secretary James N. Mattis.

Scales said the reason behind the task force comes down to three number: 90, 4 and 1. Ninety percent of Americans killed in combat are infantry, he noted. “They constitute 4 percent of uniformed personnel and receive just 1 percent of the DoD budget for training and equipping,” Scales said.

Combat Overmatch

The United States maintains combat overmatch in every other portion of the battlefield – air, sea and space – yet the small infantry unit, the unit most likely to be under fire, is the one that comes closest to a fair fight with an enemy, Scales said.

Success in ground combat “lies not just with technical superiority, but with the human dimension,” Willke said.

“There is nothing more important than focusing our energies now on developing and nurturing the unique capabilities of human performance,” he added. “That means bringing fresh vigor, renewing our sense of urgency and enhancing the lethality of our front-line Army and Marine Corps units.”

Success Comes From Repetition, Training

The task force will look at how the services select the right people for this crucial job and what the services need to do to retain them. It also will examine how the services judge fitness and provide fitness. “Finally,” Wilke said, “do we understand, as do our greatest athletic leaders, that success comes with constant repetition and training?” he said.

Some aspects do not require legislation or extra money. Willke said the Army personnel system can be changed to keep units together and allow infantry personnel to bond with their unit mates. Programs can also be put in place so soldiers and Marines are actually training with their units and not painting rocks or performing an ancillary duty.

“Every plane and ship we purchase comes with sophisticated simulators to train personnel to overcome every conceivable contingency,” Willke said. “We would not buy a plane of a ship that was not packaged along with that technology. But we don’t do that for our ground forces.”

But it can be done, he added, and when combined with exercises at Fort Irwin’s National Training Center or Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in California or at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, this training can be invaluable with keeping infantry alive.

Willke and Scales said the task force will also look at weapons, protective systems, communications gear, unmanned tactical systems, doctrine and many other issues as it continues its work.

And all this will be done quickly, both men said, noting that Mattis is intensely interested in seeing this program succeed.