Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Donation helps connect deployed service members to home

July 31, 2012
In honor of the Year of the Veteran, Gov. Scott Walker announced AT&T will be donating 600 pre-paid calling cards to Wisconsin National Guard units and Reserve units in Wisconsin to help service members stay in touch with their families. 

"These AT&T calling cards will be important lifelines home for our brave men and women in uniform serving our country overseas," Walker said. "This program is a great way to connect our heroes with home, and show them how much we appreciate all they've done for us." 

AT&T donates hundreds of thousands of phone cards every year to help connect service members serving overseas with loved ones back home. Each card provides service members with 100 pre-paid minutes. To date, AT&T has donated more than $9 million of pre-paid calling cards to military personnel nationwide.
"Every day of the year, brave men and women protect and serve our country, and we want to thank them," said Scott T. VanderSanden, president of AT&T Wisconsin. "We are proud to partner with Gov. Walker to donate these calling cards to our National Guard and Reserve troops to honor their service and help them stay connected with home." 

"Having visited our Soldiers and Airmen overseas and at mobilization stations across the nation, I know that the ability to reach back and stay connected with loved ones is a powerful morale boost," said Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin. "I am grateful for AT&T's generosity." 

"We owe a debt of gratitude to the members of our Wisconsin National Guard who dedicate their lives in service and sacrifice to our nation," said Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. "Being separated from their loved ones at home is especially challenging and we are so thankful to AT&T for their support of our military members and their families. We truly hope this gift will be a way for our brave men and women to stay connected to their family and friends back home." 

The governor also joined with "Cell Phones for Soldiers" Co-Founder Robbie Bergquist to encourage all Wisconsin residents to donate their old cell phones to support the charity. "Cell Phones for Soldiers" uses recycling proceeds to buy and send free phone cards to military members stationed away from home.
"Recycling our old cell phones is the really the very least we can do to support America's heroes," Walker said. "I encourage all Wisconsin residents to join me and our state employees in donating old cell phones and honoring our troops." 

Wisconsin residents can donate old cell phones in a number of ways:
  • Donate old cell phones at any AT&T store located in Wisconsin
  • Visit the "Cell Phones for Soldiers" website to locate a drop-off location near you; or
  • Print off a free shipping label by visiting the "Cell Phones for Soldiers" website and mail in your old phones.
  • Drop boxes at the Wisconsin State Capitol visitor's desk in the rotunda
In April, Governor Walker launched a "Cell Phones for Soldiers" collection drive among all Wisconsin state government agencies. State employees teamed up to collect nearly 1,500 gently-used cell phones. Due to the success of the drive, AT&T and the Department of Administration (DOA) have partnered up to continue accepting donated cell phones from state employees throughout the Year of the Veteran. AT&T collection boxes are located in the Governor's Office, the Capitol Rotunda, and the DOA lobby. 

Robbie and Brittany Bergquist co-founded "Cell Phones for Soldiers" in 2004, at the ages of 12 and 13. The charity has since provided more than 150 million minutes of free talk time to service men and women stationed around the world. AT&T has also strongly supported "Cell Phones for Soldiers" since July 2007, donating more than $4 million, and helping to collect hundreds of thousands of old cell phones for the cause.
"Each year, we have been humbled by the amount of people like Gov. Scott Walker and organizations like AT&T that take the initiative to support our troops and veterans," Robbie said. "We would be honored to have the residents of Wisconsin collect unwanted cell phones on our behalf." 

"Cell Phones for Soldiers" also just announced a new initiative designed to support veterans. Called "Helping Heroes Home," the program provides emergency funds for veterans returning home. AT&T is supporting the program by donating more than $450,000 to address the communication needs facing today's veterans. AT&T will also donate $2 when an individual watches the Helping Heroes Home video and $1 when that person shares it with friends for an additional donation of up to $50,000. 

All old cell phones collected will support both the calling card program and the Helping Heroes Home program. 

"With partners like AT&T and Cell Phones for Soldiers, we are supporting veterans and their families," Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary John Scocos said. "Above all else, we are here to serve a unique and remarkable customer base - Wisconsin's veterans and their families. It is our honor and privilege to join with the governor, AT&T and 'Cell Phones for Soldiers' to give these men and women the best service possible."

Exercise Screaming Eagle IV continues, improves Poland, US, partnership

by Senior Airman Aaron-Forrest Wainwright
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

8/1/2012 - POWIDZ, Poland  -- Ramstein Airmen from the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing and 86th Airlift Wing continue to train together along with Polish military members in exercise Screaming Eagle IV, here July 24th through August 3rd.

"Poland is one of our strongest and closest allies in the world and is a leader in Europe," said President Barack Obama. "What we want to do is to create an environment in this region in which peace and security are a given. That's not just good for this region. It is good for the United States of America."

Screaming Eagle is an annual exercise at the 33rd Air Base here, that allows pilots from the 37th Airlift Squadron to conduct training with the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, while facilitating training for several other units.

"Poland provides an excellent place for our aircrews to increase proficiency on several different flying scenarios, as well as training opportunities for maintainers, aerial porters, and the airborne personnel we have here with us," said Capt. Dean Brown, exercise mission commander and 37th AS pilot. "In addition, we get to learn from and share information and tactics with the Polish while integrating partnerships."

The 435th Contingency Response Group used this opportunity to work together with the 37th Airlift Squadron at this location to complete night vision goggle qualifications that are otherwise difficult to maintain at home station.

"Here we are able to train CRG aerial porters to operate in complete darkness using NVG," said Master Sgt. Jeffery Platz, NVG instructor, 435th Air Mobility Squadron. "At Ramstein, we cannot get the flightline completely dark, so the training we conduct here is more realistic."

This training gives the pilots and the ground crew critical experience on possible future contingencies where landing on an airfield under the cover of darkness is essential to mission success.

Also benefiting from the training opportunities in Poland are two Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists from Ramstein who are jumping side-by-side with ten members of the Polish special forces during the second week of the exercise. The U.S. jumpers and Polish special forces conducted high altitude, low opening jumps multiple times during the days and nights.

"Anytime we have a chance to build partnerships and enhance the interoperability between our respective forces is an opportunity that should be taken advantage of to the utmost," said Staff Sgt. C. Brandon Fountain, 435th CRG SERE specialist and air advisor.

The partnerships built between Poland and the U.S. during this exercise and others have paved the way for a new aviation detachment to be established in Poland to support quarterly joint training exercises with F-16's and C-130's.

With the advent of the new 33rd A detachment Dec 8, the two countries plan to continue to strengthen bonds as allies while preparing their armed forces for joint contingencies.

Acting Under Secretary of the Air Force visits basic military training

8/1/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO -- LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) -- Acting Under Secretary of the Air Force Dr. Jamie Morin visited with Air Force basic military training officials and trainees here July 30.

During a trip to San Antonio, Morin met with the 37th Training Wing leadership and toured the BMT campus.

In June, Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., Air Education and Training Command commander, appointed Maj. Gen. Margaret H. Woodward to lead a command-directed investigation into BMT and technical training throughout the command following reports of misconduct by some military training instructors at BMT.

"Sexual assault is a serious crime and is deeply corrosive to military readiness," Morin said. "It is all the more so at Basic Military Training, which is foundational to everything our Air Force does. The men and women entrusted with molding civilians into Airmen must maintain the highest standards of professionalism in discharging their duties--both in how they treat trainees and how they handle reports of mistreatment.

"While the vast majority serve with honor, those who have betrayed the sacred trust we place in them will be held to the most stringent levels of accountability," he continued. "I know that Gen. Ed Rice and Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward will continue aggressively investigating these crimes and will work with senior Air Force leadership to take all necessary steps."

AF medical team integral part of mass casualty exercise

by Army Sgt. 1st Class Raymond J. Piper
Defense Media Activity

8/1/2012 - CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. (AFNS) -- The "walking wounded," arrived first to the field hospital set up by the 779th Medical Wing. The warbling siren from an ambulance heralded the arrival of patients on litters. The doctors, nurses and medical technicians greeted them with the initial care that could save their lives or at a minimum alleviate some of their suffering.

The Joint Base Andrews unit is part of the nearly 9,000 service members and Department of Defense civilians taking part in Vibrant Response 13, which is designed to test the ability of the DoD to respond to a nuclear disaster on U.S. soil.

The unit is part of a joint homeland support mission designed to step in when there is a disaster that goes beyond the scope of local authorities and local medical facilities to handle the injured.
"We are available at their request to come in and setup our EMEDS unit and provide attitudinal hospital and surgical support to the local authorities," said Maj. (Dr.) Patrick Huck, a general surgeon with the 779th.

The 779th arrived July 28 and began to set up their field hospital made up of several interlinked tents to provide an emergency room, a surgery, an intensive care ward and a pharmacy.

"These patients are complicated by having radiological exposure, so that does put it in a little bit of a different light from what we traditionally deal with," Huck said .

As the patients arrived, their clothes were replaced with hospital gowns due to the risk of contamination from radioactive particles. They used wet wipes and water to remove any particles from exposed skin.

"If there are radiation particles on the patients, 90 to 95 percent of them could be removed when they take off their clothing," said Maj. Elisa Hammer, bio-environmental engineer.
Hammer and her team are one part OSHA and one part EPA. They ensure that the environment that the staff works in remains safe from hazards.

"We advise on decontamination and detect contamination, so based on that, just like OSHA, we can protect our providers," she said. "At the same time we want to get outside to get an environmental health assessment and a good feel for what's around our area."

Medical technicians and nurses began the screening process to take stock of the injuries and begin treatment for the wounded. Common questions that the roleplayers might have heard in a regular doctor's visit, but now cots replaced the usual sterile environment of a normal examination room. The usual banks of equipment to test for blood pressure are all portable and ready to be moved to another patient if needed.

"You have to rapidly assess them, get them stable and if they were able to go home, send them home or to the FEMA tent. If they weren't we would move them to another part of the hospital for further care," said Maj. (Doctor) Michael Maine, a family practice doctor.

The injuries from the blast were varied, and the airmen saw both the effects of radiation exposure, leading to abdominal pains, nausea and itching all over the patients' skin, and the direct effects from the blast where victims were thrown or slammed against something, creating injuries from the impact. Additionally people further from the initial blast could still suffer burn injuries.

Given the chaotic nature of the aftermath as first responders arrive and as people try to escape, the hospital would still see normal trauma from car crashes and falls.

"We have learned a lot as far as how much radiation a human is suppose to have and the different injuries that they can have when they get exposed to a significant amount of radiation," said Staff Sgt Rewa Price, an ER tech. "The kind of injuries you're going to see might be similar, like nausea, vomiting; however, it's related to radiation."

As the patients filtered through emergency room, being screened and treated, an ambulance brought in a training mannequin, simulating someone who was close to the area of the detonation of the nuclear device. From the blast, he received an abdominal wound caused by blunt trauma that resulted in a ruptured spleen. Doctors, nurses and medical technicians worked to keep him stabilized as the observer/controller told them the results of their examination.

"I saw the patient in our emergency room, evaluated him per our advanced trauma life support protocol, and we recognized that he had a condition that required surgical support. We stabilized him ... and brought him to the operating room and performed surgery on the patient to repair the hemorrhage," Huck said.

All of the wounds are simulated and in some ways that makes everything more difficult, according to Maj. Maj. Matthew Uber, a nurse anesthetist.

"Although they do their best to make the victims look traumatically injured, anyone who has been deployed in a war-time situation knows the stakes are lot different when you know there is a life on the line," he said. "The adrenaline doesn't surge when you get a mannequin patient, so the cohesiveness of the team develops more in a real-world scenario."

He explained though the wounds aren't real, setting up the mobile hospital and working through the different scenarios shows the potential shortfalls that may exist.
"It's great that we are doing that now for a potential homeland response because that (mission) brings a lot of unique problems," Uber said.

Huck agrees that the realism does not lie in the patient care, but rather in t he coordination of the care patients receive, transporting them through the hospital and making sure they have the supplies they need to take care of the wounded if it should happen for real.

The joint nature of the exercise provides the participants with a unique opportunity even if members of the unit have worked with other services in the past.

"It's great when the forces work together," Uber said. "Initially I think there is always that thought 'we do things differently,' but we find, especially in the medical field, that we have a lot more in common than differences and it breaks down those barriers quickly."

He continued, "The training in trauma is pretty much universally prescribed by civilian authorities. Advanced trauma life support is the same whether you're Army, Air Force or Navy, so I think we speak the same language as far as trauma, physiology, air way breathing, circulation. Universally I believe trauma is the same language to every branch. The challenges and differences probably come in equipment, capability, expectation of what we have whether it be supplies or equipment."

Price has been working with contingency air medical staging facilities throughout her 10-year career and said that this was an extremely different mission than what she was use to.
"I'm trying to apply that prior knowledge that I have working with our wounded warriors overseas and at home," she said. "It's a lot of blast injuries, which is quite similar (to a war zone), but then the radiation injuries and things like that are new where it's a learning experience."

They have learned a lot so far, such as how much radiation a person is suppose to have and the different type of injuries that they can have when they are exposed to significant amounts of radiation, Price said.

"The kind of injuries you're going to see might be similar, like nausea and vomiting; however, it's related to radiation," she added.

Although Uber doesn't expect there will be mortar fire coming into the hospital, he said, that doesn't mean it'll necessarily be easier.

If an event such as nuclear attack was to happen in downtown Chicago, they would be facing an entirely different patient population than they do with military members.
One discussion Uber and his team had was about the weight standards of their operating tables.

"Typically in a deployed environment, we deal with active duty military or Afghan forces where there is a potentially a healthier population," he said. "If this did happen in downtown Chicago, we might see a much different patient population that might exceed some of the standards we have here."

In addition the hospital would face many medical issues beyond the surgical trauma. He explained they might see heart failure, diabetes and other ailments that would keep a civilian out of the military because their focus would be on treating the local population.

A challenge that Maine sees is that many of their assets from the larger staff at a normal hospital will be unavailable.

"What you have here is what you're sent out with ..., so you make the decision right there with the capabilities you have. That can be a challenge not having multiple access to specialists," Maine said.

Although the mission poses many challenges and be it a natural or man-made disasters the airmen are ready to help people on American soil, when called.

Uber said, "I'm not excited about the possibility of what would trigger the mission, whether it be a nuclear or chemical or even a natural disaster type of an event, but I look forward to the fact that we would be able to help the civilian population and work with local authorities."

2013 Verne Orr award nominees sought

by Gloria Kwizera
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

– Air Force officials are seeking nominations for the 2013 Verne Orr Award.

The Air Force Association established this award in honor of former Secretary of the Air Force Verne Orr to recognize mission-oriented unit accomplishments and achievements that used personnel to their full potential in order to accomplish the mission.

The Verne Orr Award recognizes an Air Force unit’s effective use of human resources. The award is open to all Air Force units and organizations regardless of size.

Organizations and base-level personnel must contact their major command, field operating agency or direct reporting unit for applicable suspense dates and additional information regarding nomination procedures.

Each MAJCOM, FOA and DRU may submit one nomination. Completed nomination packages are due to the Air Force Personnel Center by Jan. 7, 2013.

Air National Guard, Reserve MAFFS-equipped C-130s integral part of wildfire suppression

By Army National Guard Sgt. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau

Click photo for screen-resolution image
open link in new windowARLINGTON, Va.  (8/1/12) - The Air National Guard has been increasingly working alongside the U.S. Forest Service and other emergency responders this summer, in what officials call one of the worst wildfire seasons in the U.S.
Flying C-130 Hercules equipped with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, Air National Guard members - as of today - have flown more than 340 flights.

Those flights have culminated in 368 fire retardant drops in which more than eight million pounds - or 888,981 gallons - of fire retardant was dropped on wildfires over the span of 329 flight hours. This year alone, MAFFS units have assisted with more than 35 wildfires.

Wildfires across the U.S. have destroyed more than 1.2 million acres and on June 28, President Barack Obama approved a disaster declaration request for Colorado providing additional support to state and local officials responding to the fires there, as well as federal assistance for individuals affected by both the High Park and the Waldo Canyon Fire.

There are currently seven Air National Guard C-130 aircraft equipped with the U.S. Forest Service’s MAFFS. Those C-130s are available for the command and control of U.S. Northern Command to continue support efforts to control fires in the Rocky Mountain region and western United States at the request of the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

As of July 26, there were more than 8,400 personnel, 600 fire engines, 19 large air tankers, including the seven MAFFS-equipped C-130s, as well as 71 Single Engine Air Tankers available nationally to combat fires burning across the United States.

According to an Air Force report, MAFFS units provide emergency capability to supplement existing commercial tanker support on wild-land fires. MAFFS aid the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service when all other air tankers are activated but further assistance is needed.

The Forest Service can request help from the Air Guard, Reserve and active Air Force MAFFS units, highlighting interagency cooperation.

In the 1970s, Congress established the MAFFS system after a major fire burned into Long Beach, Calif., destroying hundreds of homes, and overwhelming the civilian tanker fleet's ability to respond at the time.
Today, the 302nd Airlift Wing in Colorado Springs, Colo., an Air Force Reserve unit, and three Air Guard units – the145th AW in Charlotte, N.C.; the 146th AW in Channel Islands, Calif. and the 153rd AW in Cheyenne, Wyo. – each have two MAFFS-equipped C-130s able to respond to wildfires throughout the U.S. The 146th is currently the only Air Guard Wing still performing MAFFS related missions.

The 145th - of the North Carolina Air National Guard - held a private memorial service July 11 for the four Airmen killed in the crash of an Air National Guard MAFFS equipped C-130. The men died Sunday, July 1, when their plane went down while fighting the White Draw fire near Edgemont, S.D. The service was held at the 145th AW base.

Ohio Guard members, Marines work jointly to clear rubble, evacuate survivors during Vibrant Response 13

By Army Staff Sgt. Keith Anderson
U.S. Army North

Click photo for screen-resolution image

MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING CENTER, Ind. (8/1/12) - Search and Extraction team members cleared away rubble, pulled survivors to safety and stabilized a building to breach and extract those trapped inside July 27 as part of a major incident exercise.

The search and extraction team, part of the Ohio National Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package, performed the critical lifesaving and life-sustaining mission a day after a simulated 10-kiloton nuclear device detonated in a major Midwestern city as part of Vibrant Response 13 - an exercise conducted by U.S. Northern Command and led by U.S. Army North.

The Marine Corps’ Chemical, Biological Incident Response Force, II Marine Expeditionary Unit, headquartered in Indian Head, Md., also assisted in the mission, searching for survivors in the rubble and in a nearby trailer park.

Army Staff Sgt. Kevin Craig led search and extraction team members to the partially collapsed building and adjacent rubble pile.

“As a hot-zone noncommissioned officer, I took two squads in to conduct a recon of the rubble pile and extract the injured,” Craig said. “My job is to make sure team members are conducting safe operations, coordinating objectives and extracting victims.”

Search and extraction missions can be dangerous.

“You’re going into confined spaces and unstable buildings,” said Army 2nd Lt. Chris Brandt, search and extraction officer-in-charge. “Our mission is to save lives without endangering additional lives. When you’re moving 1,000-pound slabs of concrete, people can get hurt.”

Unlike normal engineer units, search and extraction teams don’t have heavy equipment like bull-dozers to help in the process.

“You don’t use heavy equipment around victims,” Brandt said. “We use pry bars and shoring equipment. We’re light, but we’re capable of doing pretty much everything.”

The search and extraction team uses many types of specialized and routine equipment, including jackhammers, electric saws, concrete band saws, SnakeEye flexible cameras, electric hot sticks to detect electricity, air and gas monitors to detect broken gas lines, thermal imagers and Delsar Life Detectors.

The mission is rewarding, said Army Sgt. Jezrael Holt.

“The reason I do this is to help out people caught in horrible situations,” Holt said.
For members of the Marine Corps CBIRF, many of whom served in recovery operations in Japan after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the training at Vibrant Response is important.

“This is one of the only places we can rehearse extracting and providing care for large numbers of civilians with live role-players, and because of the unique domestic scenario, rehearse coordination with multiple civilian and federal agencies,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Jonathan Betschart, recon team leader, Incident Response Force B, CBIRF.
“After the tsunami, we were staged in Yakota Air Base; and before we began assisting the people of Japan, there were a lot of bilateral coordination’s with the government to see what we could do in their environment, and what we could provide.”

For one role-player “rescued” by the Marine team, the experience led to a new purpose.

“We were out there in the trailer hollering for help, and the team came out quickly and helped us out,” said Cody Kissick. “I want to join the Marines now.”

The joint Army National Guard/Marine Corps mission was unique.

“It was the first time the CBIRF and the CERFP had combined operations,” said Duane Bowen, Exercise Control Forward chief of operations, U.S. Army North. “We’ve identified some coordination issues and had the chance to improve so definitely a very beneficial operation.”

Navy to Host Memorial Service for Former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral James D. Watkin

A memorial service for the 22nd Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Adm. James D. Watkins, will be on Friday, Aug. 3, 2012, at 11 a.m. EDT at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Church in Washington, D.C

Watkins passed away on July 26 at the age of 85, and is survived by his wife Janet and six children.

Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and current Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, will both participate in the service.

"Adm. Watkins served the nation leading Sailors during some of our nation's most trying and challenging times from 1949 to 1986," said Greenert.  "His strategic approach to safeguarding our national security and interests at sea set a precedent for generations to come.  Adm. Watkins was an innovative thinker who pushed our Navy forward.  He was known for developing a Maritime Strategy for dealing with the U.S.S.R. and improving the quality of life for Sailors and their families.  We will always remember the life and honorable service of a great shipmate."

A 1949 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Watkins became CNO June 30, 1982 and served until June 30, 1986 during the height of the Cold War.  A career submariner, he also commanded the Navy’s Sixth Fleet in Naples, Italy, and later the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor.  He also served as Chief of Naval Personnel and Vice Chief of Naval Operations.

"Few have lived as full or accomplished a life as Adm. Watkins," said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.  "Although we mourn his passing, we celebrate his accomplishments not only as a consummate naval officer and public servant, but also as a man who understood the importance of taking care of the entire Navy family."

As CNO, Watkins led a Navy that operated in support of national objectives in Grenada, Lebanon, and the Persian Gulf.  Appreciating that changes that were occurring in the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War, he initiated a review of American naval strategy.  He precipitated a renaissance in naval operational thought that encouraged a new generation of officers to become more deeply involved.

After retiring from the Navy, he led a very active life.  In 1987, he chaired President Reagan's Commission on the HIV epidemic.  Known as "The Watkins Commission," it investigated the AIDS epidemic and eventually recommended support for increased AIDS research, laws protecting HIV-positive people, and treatment of drug addiction.

On March 9, 1989, Watkins was sworn in as Secretary of Energy by President George Bush.  As energy secretary, he developed a 10-point plan to strengthen environmental protection and waste management activities, established the Office of Environmental Restoration and Waste Management, and recognizing America’s dependence on foreign oil, instituted policy designed to increase oil production and decrease consumption to counter Iraqi-Kuwaiti oil losses caused by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.  He remained in his position as energy secretary until 1993.
The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy became the second presidential commission chaired by Watkins.  Established by The Oceans Act of 2000 on Jan. 20, 2001, the commission was charged with developing a comprehensive national ocean policy including governance, research, education, marine operations, stewardship, and investment.  It conducted hearings and research before producing its final report, "An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century" on Sept. 20, 2004.

Media interested in attending the funeral mass should contact Jacquelyn Hayes, Director of Communications for the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, at 202-281-0615.  The Basilica is located at 400 Michigan Ave., Northeast, Washington, D.C., and is easily accessible by car and by Metro on the red line at Brookland/CUA.

Additional news media queries may be addressed by calling the Navy Office of Information at 703-697-5342.

Family Matters Blog: Job Fairs Join Spouses, Employers

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1, 2012 – Tomorrow marks the start of an open season of sorts for job fairs for military spouses in what one Pentagon official calls the “high-touch” part of a “high-tech, high-touch” process.

Meg O’Grady was a military spouse herself, having moved 13 times in 17 years, when she began working at the Pentagon just before the June 29, 2011, launch of the Defense Department’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership. . Today, she is its acting program manager.

The partnership hosts an online job portalwhere military spouses can search for jobs, post resumes and receive education and training, and where employers can post openings and search for new talent. The site has posted 500 million job ads in the past year, and has 220,000 ads on any given day, O’Grady said. That’s the high-tech part.

The high-touch part gets under way tomorrow as MSEP’s partner, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program, ramps up its “touch” tactics by sponsoring numerous job fairs in the coming weeks in military-populated cities such as Hampton, Va.; Minneapolis; Utica, N.Y.; Sugar Grove, Ill.; Lake Charles, La.; and Quantico, Va., to name a few. The DOD and Chamber programs compliment that of Joining Forces, a program started by First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Jill Biden that also works to improve military spouses employment.

The job fairs not only bring employers to job seekers, but also offer forums for helping spouses with resume writing, networking and the like, Laura Dempsey, director of Hiring Our Heroes, told me. Dempsey, too, is a military spouse, and so knew the potential of those who mostly have been an untapped resource in hiring.

When Dempsey was building the Hiring Our Heroes staff, she turned to Noreen O’Neil, a military spouse she knew socially who had volunteered for the program’s launch, to be its events director. Like many military spouses, O’Neil had an employment gap of more than 10 years, but “had either been the president or chief fundraiser of every spouse club she was in,” Dempsey said. “That certainly qualifies her to do the job.”

The hiring fair forums will address how military spouses, especially those with employment gaps, can market their volunteer experiences to civilian employers, she said.

“You have to help spouses sell it, is the problem,” said Dempsey, a lawyer who has maintained her skills through nine moves with the Army. “Employers are open to it, if they understand it.”

Telling a private-sector manager you were a family readiness group leader may not resonate – until you say you were in charge of the well-being of 750 families, Dempsey said. And, “saying you were a spouse club president may sound like a boutique social position,” she added. “But if they say they were in charge of a budget of tens of thousands of dollars and hosted 10 major events with hundreds of attendees, that’s an event planner.

18th Wing History Office gives Airmen glimpse into WWII history

by Airman 1st Class Maeson L. Elleman
18th Wing Public Affairs

8/1/2012 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The Americans sank their combat boots deeply into the black volcanic sand that lined the coast of Iwo Jima.

For three days prior to the Feb. 19, 1945, invasion, U.S. naval ships in the surrounding waters shelled the tiny island from end to end in an attempt to eliminate most of their adversaries' defensive positions. Judging by the eerie silence and stillness hanging over the grounds, the attack had been a great success.

But as the first of 30,000 Marines advanced toward Mount Suribachi, machine gun nests and other cleverly concealed enemy weapons roared back to life from their presumed graves, breaking the unnerving, fraudulent peace in a rain of molten lead and mortar attacks.

When they first arrived, American forces expected small resistance and at most, a quick, week-long struggle with their enemies based on their intelligence reports.

Instead, the U.S. service members were confronted with one of the most heavily fortified Japanese defenses encountered thus far, and a 36-day assault with little to no cover for defensive positions or field hospitals. Despite frequent cover fire from Army Air Forces, the interconnected caves and tunnels used by the Japanese yielded no quick victory for the Americans.

After more than a month of non-stop fighting through day and night, the American flag was finally lifted into place and perched upon the mountain that stood like a sentry overlooking the entire island. Soon after, the first American flag was brought down as a battle trophy to the Marines and replaced with a second flag, which was captured in the iconic photo "Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima."

In the end, American casualties had reached more than 26,000 - including approximately 6,800 deaths. Japanese fatalities reached more than 22,000 during the gruesome battle.

"We will never understand what they went through," said James D'Angina, 18th Wing historian. "You would have to have been there."

This is why the 18th Wing History Office, led by D'Angina and Casey Connell, gave Airmen from the 18th Maintenance Group an opportunity July 26 to tour the battle site known by its veterans as "Pork Chop Island" for its unique shape.

Though the trip was D'Angina's fourth trip to the island, it was his second time guiding Airmen from the 18th Wing to the top of Suribachi in an effort to further their military education.

"Primary military education is important so that people don't forget the past," said D'Angina. "Knowing where we're at today on Okinawa and Iwo Jima, we should have background in what took place here during World War II."

Though the infamous battle site has changed its name to Iwo To since the war ended, the island has shown little to no change since the invasion more than 67 years ago. To this day the scars of war have been preserved in untouched destroyed pill boxes and rusted weapons still lying around - some still dangerous - as well as monuments dedicated to the fallen heroes of both countries.

Some could argue which part of the journey was most memorable, whether it was visiting the memorial atop Suribachi or climbing through the caves used by the Japanese during the war. However, Senior Airman Tiffany Hughes, 44th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, said it's easy to pick out the experience she'll never forget.

"The most memorable for me was the beaches," said the Pittsburgh, Pa. native. "I was trying to imagine how many lives were lost there within minutes after they arrived, especially after seeing how tough it was to walk through the black sand. I just tried to put myself in their shoes and imagine what they saw when they came up on the beach."

The main objective of securing the island during the war was to provide Army Air Forces a midway point for bombers and eventually fighter escorts for raids on Honshu, Japan. It wasn't long after fighting began that the objective seemed more and more essential.

A total of 2,251 B-29 emergency landings on the island were recorded during the war. Similarly, 1,191 fighter escorts and 3,081 strike sorties were flown from Iwo Jima against Japan.

Because the strategically placed island had been such an invaluable asset to the Airmen during the war, Hughes said it means much more for today's Airmen to give their respects to those who gave their lives in battle for it.

"It shows our kinship to each of the other branches, and how we work together to accomplish the same mission," said Hughes. "It shows how we really are brothers and sisters in arms."

Because the island remains off-limits to most civilian personnel due to dangers still hidden on the battle site, the trip truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

However, the history office has implemented plans to return as frequently as possible with a different group from the wing each time. Hughes said she encourages the trip to anyone who gets the chance to collect sand from the shores.

"I would recommend it to anybody who has a passion for history and anybody who is willing to make the trip up Mount Suribachi to see what we were up against," said Hughes. "When you walk down on the beach, you can look up and see what they saw back then."

Despite the grueling eight-mile hike to and from the top of the mountain, Hughes said the trip was well worth the effort.

"You can go to a museum or different places like Pearl Harbor or anywhere where there were a lot of lives lost from battle, walk right up to any monument and look at it and take pictures," Hughes said. "Whenever you go to Iwo Jima, you actually have to work for it. It's a reward to see."

Navy Medicine Deployers Begin Role-3 Kandahar Course

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Bruce Cummins, Navy Medicine Support Command Public Affairs
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (NNS) -- Nearly 200 active-duty and Reserve Sailors scheduled to deploy to the world's busiest military trauma hospital began the second iteration of a training program July 30 at the Naval Expeditionary Medical Training Institute (NEMTI) in Camp Pendleton, Calif.

The training evolution, designed to integrate and develop them as a medical team, marks only the second time the entire staff of enlisted and commissioned medical professionals and support personnel assigned to a forward-deployed medical facility began pre-deployment training together.

This is an effort NEMTI Officer-In-Charge Capt. Thomas Sawyer, said supports the current role of U.S. Navy healthcare professionals in contingency operations around the world.

"Navy Medicine has historically been capable of operating in any environment," he said. "A pillar of our training - team training with service members with whom they'll rely on heavily during the deployment - is exercised using high-fidelity simulation, which provides enhanced current skills to be able to do what they do best - save lives."

The NEMTI-sponsored Kandahar Role-3 Hospital course is a two-week program designed to foster teamwork, and build and hone medical skills specific to what U.S. military medical professionals might expect while on deployment to the Role 3 Hospital at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan. The course was initially offered in January 2012 and met with resounding success. Service members previously deploying in support of operations in Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq were either sent individually or in small groups, replacing other personnel with similar specialties or Navy Enlisted Classifications (NECs) on a "one-for-one" basis.

U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Navy Medicine Support Command and the operational training leadership, however, recognized the need for additional requirements in the training pipeline, suggesting a course that would allow deploying personnel the opportunity to train together from the inception, fostering a sense of teamwork and unity imperative for the continued success medical personnel have affected in some of the most dangerous areas in the world.

"It is gratifying to watch personnel from all skill levels come together as a team," Sawyer said. "We are training both Role 2 and Role 3 deployers during this course. They arrived as individuals and will depart as medical teams ready to perform their specific mission."

The term "role" describes the tiers in which medical support is organized, with Role 3 describing the capabilities of a theater-level hospital.

The course, designed by NEMTI, was approved by the US Fleet Forces Command, CENTCOM and the former Navy Medicine Support Command in response to deployment requirements and feedback received from previously deployed personnel including past and current commanding officers of the North American Treaty Organization-run Role 3 Kandahar Medical Facility. The course includes a variety of medical training courses.

The curriculum for this course includes JTTS Clinical Practice Guidelines and incorporates concepts of pre-deployment trauma requirements such as tactical combat casualty care. Additional subjects include ethics, psychiatric disorders, Army working dogs and unexploded ordinance.

Kandahar Role 3 students participate in a lecture/question and answer forum with members from the NMCSD Wounded Warrior Battalion, and the course culminates with a mass casualty drill.

"It is a privilege to serve the Marines," Sawyer said. "The Wounded Warriors provide a final crescendo that brings the trauma instruction and team building all together."

Service members completing the Kandahar Role-3 Hospital course will next complete U.S. Central Command military requirements aboard training sites such as Fort Dix, N.J., and Fort Jackson, S.C.

NEMTI, the premier U.S. Navy training facility for expeditionary medicine, reports to the Navy Medicine Operational Training Center (NMOTC) in Pensacola, Fla., and the Medical Education and Training Command in San Antonio, Texas.

NEMTI and NMOTC and are part of the Navy Medicine team, a global health care network of 63,000 Navy medical personnel around the world who provide high-quality health care to the operational forces and more than one million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.

Carter Describes Possible Unintended Effects of Sequestration Law

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1, 2012 – While the Defense Department can foresee the harmful effects of sequestration, the nature of the legislative mechanism makes it impossible to devise a plan that eliminates or substantially mitigates those effects, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said here today.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Carter explained the law’s effect on the defense budget and overall strategy.

Sequestration refers to a mechanism built into the Budget Control Act that would trigger an additional $500 billion across-the-board cut in defense spending over the next decade if Congress doesn’t identify alternative spending cuts by January.

“We’re working with [the Office of Management and Budget] to understand this complex legislation, and we are, as I described, assessing impacts,” Carter said. “But we’re still five months from January. I’m hoping, to quote [Defense] Secretary [Leon E.] Panetta, that Congress -- both Republicans and Democrats -- will exercise the necessary leadership to make sure that sequestration is de-triggered. In the unfortunate event that sequestration is actually triggered, we will work with OMB, and like all the federal agencies affected by this law, we will be ready to implement it.”

Carter also discussed the unintentional effects of the mechanism if it isn’t “de-triggered” in a reasonable amount of time.

“While we’ll not fail to prepare for sequestration, we’re equally worried about a different type of error,” he said. “This would occur if sequestration does not happen, but we end up triggering some of its bad effects anyway.

“For example, we do not want to unnecessarily alarm employees by announcing adverse personnel actions or by suggesting that such actions are likely,” he continued. “For efficiency reasons, we do not want to hold back on the obligation of funds, either for weapons projects or operating programs, that would have been obligated in the absence of a possible sequestration.”

The deputy defense secretary also noted the department doesn’t want to cut back on training, which would harm military readiness as the nation faces a complex array of national security challenges. Also, Carter said, private companies that serve DOD and constitute “important members of our national security team” also need to make decisions on issues related to sequestration.

Carter said a number of these private companies have expressed alarm at “such a wasteful and disruptive way” of managing taxpayers’ money and their employees’ talent.

“We will continue to consult closely with them, along with the OMB, and other government departments,” Carter said. “The best thing that can happen to our industry partners, as well as the department, is for the Congress to enact a balanced deficit reduction plan that halts implementation of this inflexible law.”

After outlining his thoughts on sequestration’s potentially “devastating” impacts, Carter re-emphasized the Defense Department’s position.

“Secretary Panetta and I strongly believe that we need to deal with the debt and deficit problems in a balanced way and avoid sequestration,” he said. “This will require legislation that both houses of Congress can approve and that the president can sign.”

Carter said Americans, the nation’s allies, and even its enemies, need to know the U.S. government has the political will to implement the defense strategy that has been put forth.

“The men and women of our department, and their families, need to know with certainty that we’ll meet our commitments to them,” he said. “Our partners in defense industry, and their employees, need to know that we’re going to have the resources to procure the world-class capabilities they can provide, and that we can do so efficiently.”

Mobility 'ballet' key to rescue of F-16 pilot

from 18th Air Force Public Affairs

8/1/2012 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Shortly after an Air Force pilot ejected from his F-16 Fighting Falcon into the North Pacific July 22, he found himself under the watchful eyes of Mobility Airmen, who worked as part of a coordinated behind-the-scenes "ballet" to ensure his dramatic recovery less than six hours later.

A KC-135 Stratotanker belonging to the 22nd Air Refueling Wing at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., and two others belonging to the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, Japan, were among the first on scene in the wake of the late morning incident, relaying news to the 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center), Air Mobility Command's operational nerve center here.

"When the call first came in from one of the KC-135 commanders we found out that we had an F-16 pilot who had just ejected. The pilot wasn't injured but he was busy bailing out his raft," said Col. David Smith, TACC Director of Operations during the incident. "We told the aircraft to stay in radio contact and let the pilot know that help was on the way and that we were immediately commencing rescue operations. Our commitment was not to let him down."

That call put into motion the race to quickly recover the pilot. TACC immediately provided air traffic controllers at Fukuoka, Japan, and Anchorage, Alaska, with the incident's location. That information was quickly passed to the Japanese Rescue Coordination Center to begin search and rescue operations. Those efforts were bolstered
by the rapid passing of information to the U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center in Alameda, Calif., which shared it with ships closest to the area.

"We were convinced that the quicker the rescue, the higher the probability of survival," said Benjamin Nevin, TACC Flight Manager. He noted that although the situation was unexpected, the team was prepared. "I flew refueling missions for F-4s as a second lieutenant in 1979," Nevin recalled "The crews did the same things in this case that we did then: they quickly reviewed procedures for changing their refueling mission to a rescue mission and got to work."

Capt. Gabe Arrington, the commander of the McConnell KC-135, agreed.

"In pilot training they prepare you to act under pressure and keep a level head so you can think through situations and act correctly during an emergency," he said. "Overall, I think the air crews were just glad that we were able to be at the right place, at the right time, with the right training to help a fellow Airman."

As the minutes passed, TACC officials ensured regular communication with the pilot, with the KC-135 crews closely monitoring his condition and continuing to provide him
reassurance that help was enroute. At the same time, TACC flight managers began planning for the possible launch of additional KC-135s out of Kadena to relieve the ones on scene, while weather experts provided continuous updates on conditions.

"After we were notified of the search and rescue operation, we had to quickly evaluate surface and enroute weather conditions and hazards for a data sparse region. Fortunately conditions favored recovery, with the greatest concern from lower ceilings across the area," said Tech. Sgt. Timothy Launius, the initial shift lead for weather operations.

While all these actions went on behind the scenes, Japanese and U.S. military, coast guard, commercial and research vessels worked together to ultimately rescue the pilot and return him to his home station of Misawa Air Force Base, Japan.

"It was an outstanding team effort, everyone was participating and making a positive impact, asking if there was anything they could do to help," said Maj. Mark Ladwig, TACC's Assistant Tanker Deputy Director of Operations. "It was a great feeling when I heard the pilot had been picked up and was safe and healthy."

"This is what our team does...and nobody does it better," said Maj. Gen. David Allvin, TACC Commander. "It happens again and again all over the world, whether it be Haiti, Japan, or Libya. In this case, working as part of a multinational effort with many
agencies, including Japanese air traffic control, naval and air assets, the Japanese and U.S. Coast Guards, the Joint Personnel Recovery Center, 5th Air Force, Pacific Air Forces, and U.S. Forces, Japan, we once again answered the call to save a life. They made the extraordinary look mundane, a hallmark of our tremendous Mobility Airmen."

Air Advisors inspired to find training opportunities in deployed mission

by Staff Sgt. James Stewart
621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

8/1/2012 - TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- "It's hot-wash time!" A voice echoes down a shallow wood-paneled hallway. Commotion erupts; Airmen pour into the cramped passage heading into a small meeting room. Metal chairs clang open and shriek across the white polished tile floor as bodies squeeze into the tiny space. It is a tight fit but the Airmen settle in. The commotion fades just as suddenly as it began. Quiet grips the room; Lt. Col. Joseph Sanchez has everyone's attention. He addresses his team.

"Let's go around the room and discuss how the day went and what you learned. Maintenance, you guys start us off."

Sanchez and his Airmen deployed to Honduras in the middle of July. Since they have been in country, the group sets aside time everyday to conduct a hot wash. It has become a ritual. As part of the custom each Airmen contributes their experiences and an overall image of the day's activities comes together. Communications follows maintenance.

"We worked together with the Honduran network folks and exchanged ideas about setting up network servers and workstations." Tech. Sgt. Richard Rubalcava explains.

"I had some trouble translating some of the technical terms," Tech. Sgt. Brian De Luca chimes in.

Sanchez nods his head. This feedback is exactly what he looks for in the daily hot wash. He grabs hold of the moment to drive home one very vital part of his team's mission.

"I'm pleased to hear you've used this as a learning experience. Our mission here has two equally important halves."
He gestures with his hand and holds up two fingers.

"First we must continue working together with our Honduran friends and build a lasting relationship. Second, we have to train and hone our skills improve ourselves as air advisors."

The Airmen gathered inside the undersized room are air advisors from the 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. The MSAS recently celebrated its first year of initial operations. During the past year the unit has deployed to Central and South America, working with foreign air forces establishing lasting relationships.

The squadron is just more than a year old and the date marking full operational capability for the MSAS is fast approaching.

Sanchez is intensely aware of this fact and reminds his team, "Not long from now we reach F-O-C and our focus turns to our partner nations. This is the time to identify where we can further develop our skills. This deployment is just as much about training as it is working with the Hondurans."

De Luca looks on intently as his commander speaks.

De Luca agrees, "Yes sir, it's great to learn where the holes in my Spanish are. I have the Hondurans to thank for their patience and working with me to improve my Spanish."

"This is the place where we build upon our air advisor fundamentals." Sanchez's comments follow.

His eyes move across the room; it is a sea of nodding heads.

"Take advantage of the fact we are here. We cannot simulate the challenges of this mission anywhere else. Right here each of you discovers what to expect in our AOR."

Each MSAS Airman must build skills relevant to the unit's area of responsibility. The MSAS' AOR requires them to know how to connect with Airmen from other countries. MSAS members must competently communicate with their partners to exchange ideas effectively. Necessity demands each air advisor be aware of a multitude of matters in the countries they are building partnerships with, such as: force protection; cultural awareness; customs and courtesies; local opinions of the military and Americans; increasing interoperability with partner nations; and the list literally goes on and on.

Sanchez believes his Airmen train to deploy and deploy to train. Every interaction with a member from a partner nation is a valuable training opportunity for MSAS Airmen. His goal is to inspire a training mindset.

"The best place to train is our AOR. Here the training is right in front of us. There is no lesson plan. We are building it right now; each day that goes by every one of you is adding to your toolbox." Sanchez motions around the room, pointing an approving figure at each Airman. "Every day all of you are figuring it out, answering the questions we didn't even know we had."

In his remarks Sanchez describes to his Airmen how being an air advisor should become second nature for them. As the MSAS mission continues to emerge, he adds working with partner nations will become the primary focus. Deployments will continue to offer opportunities for each air advisor to grow.

"But this is where we lay the foundation of what we are about and at the end of the day, every exchange is an opportunity to focus on becoming better air advisors." The conversation proceeds around the room.

Under Sanchez's guidance, each Airman recounts the unique outcomes from their day. Their commander guides them, urging them to see the countless training prospects they encounter every day.

In time the hot wash draws to a close, this one ran a little longer than the previous meetings; for Sanchez it is time well spent. The overall goal is bare in his mind; prepare his Airmen to recognize the importance of training for the distinctive mission they are executing. The best method of preparing them to safely accomplish the mission and build lasting relationships with the United States' partner nations is through training, training they can only obtain with boots on the ground and in the thick of the action.

Team McConnell helps Haiti

by Airman 1st Class Victor J. Caputo
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

8/1/2012 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Members of the 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron gathered and prepared cargo to help orphanages in Haiti July 26, 2012.

The team constructed several pallets of cargo for airlift from McConnell Air Force Base, Kan.

The experience of helping with the relief mission was gratifying for those involved in the effort.

"Instead of the everyday military mission, taking part in a humanitarian mission is very rewarding and fulfilling," said Staff Sergeant Kris Aguila, 22nd LRS Air Terminal operations NCO in charge. "We're very proud to be able to help personally."

Airmen made several pallets which included rice, beans, shoes and other basic supplies. Shipments are usually made once a year to Haiti since the devastating 2010 earthquake, but this is second load in 2012 thanks to a greater amount of donated materials.

"We're part of the bridge they use to get the supplies out," said Aguila. "A lot of the stuff we send is used to build up their homes and their lives."

The knowledge that the supplies sent to Haiti will be used to benefit children was especially gratifying to members of the 22nd LRS.

"Knowing children will have bikes, shoes and other things that people here take for granted is great," said Staff Sgt. Victoria Mastey, 22nd LRS Passenger Terminal NCO in charge. "As members of Team McConnell we're glad to have helped improve peoples' lives."

Once all of the supplies are loaded onto the pallets, all 13 pallets of cargo will be airlifted by a C-5 Galaxy to Haiti.