Monday, November 05, 2012

Deputy SecDef visits Minot

by Tech. Sgt. Thomas L. Dow
5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

11/5/2012 -  MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (AFNS) -- The Deputy Secretary of Defense, Dr. Ashton B. Carter, visited Minot Air Force Base here Nov. 2.

Carter came to Minot AFB to be briefed on the base's capabilities and to speak to the Airmen on base.

During Carter's visit, he received briefings on B-52 and intercontinental ballistic missile readiness capabilities at Minot AFB. Leadership from both the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Missile Wing showcased the effectiveness of the dual wing mission here.

Following the joint mission briefs, he was taken to the Weapon Storage Area for a tour of the facilities. During the tour, he discussed the importance of ensuring our nuclear capabilities are safe, secure and effective.

Next, he visited the 91st Missile Wing's missile training facilities. These included a training launch facility, a payload transporter and a missile procedures trainer where missile crews demonstrated procedures that they use in the field on a daily basis.

Carter was then taken to a hangar for a tour of a B-52H Stratofortress. He was given a briefing on the strategic deterrence capabilities of the bomber and shown the multiple weapons the aircraft can employ for combat operations.

After the visit to hangar, Carter talked with more than 200 Airmen at the base's Defender Dome to thank them for their service and let them know the importance of their mission.

Speaking to the Airmen in attendance, Carter said, "I've spent the day learning what you do, appreciating what you do and being amazed at what you do here. The first thing I want to say is thank you."

"When you wake up in the morning and you go to bed at night, you know that you are part of something bigger than yourself," he added.

During his discussion with the Airmen, Carter stressed how Minot AFB's role is especially important to the nation's security.

"What you do here, particularly the nuclear mission, is the bedrock of our security. It is what stands in the background and looms over every action this country takes on the world stage," said Carter. "It is the foundation for everything we do."

Following his speech, Carter presented coins to the Airmen to show his appreciation for the hard work and dedication to the mission they show on a daily basis.

"I want you to go home and tell your loved ones that you were thanked by your country for what you do," said Carter.

62nd Port Dawgs do 'whatever it takes' to support hurricane relief efforts

by Staff Sgt. Sean Tobin
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

11/4/2012 - JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. -- Airmen from the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron worked tirelessly through the night Nov. 2 and well into the afternoon Nov. 3 to process more than 20 vehicles and support equipment destined for the East Coast to support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

The vehicles, sent from the Seattle City Light power company in Seattle, Wash., and Bonneville Power Administration, in Olympia, Wash., along with utility workers from those agencies, are being sent to locations in New York and New Jersey to help restore electrical power to residents there.

"The utility workers will be the ones doing the hard work back east, but I'm glad to play a part in getting them there so they can help out," said Tech. Sgt. Kyle Hersel, 62nd APS cargo processing supervisor.

The Deerlodge, Mont., native's job in the cargo deployment process is to ensure that all equipment going on a military aircraft is airworthy and safe.

This can prove to be a difficult task when dealing with large vehicles that are not necessarily designed to travel on aircraft.

"Most pieces of equipment we deal with here on a daily basis have special tie-downs and are built specifically to travel on military aircraft," said Lt. Col. Robert Farkas, 62nd APS commander. "But these vehicles present a special challenge for us."

That challenge is dealt with at all levels throughout the deployment process, beginning at the load planning stage, all the way up to the point of getting the cargo onto the aircraft.

Another cargo processing supervisor with the 62nd APS, Tech. Sgt. Carrie Lee, is in charge of the load planning process. Her job is to balance the requests of the customer against the capabilities of the aircraft. She is also in charge of making sure any hazardous materials in the cargo are properly accounted for and dealt with.

For Lee, this mission hits close to home.

"My aunt lives back there, so it's especially important for me that I play a role in this," she said. "I can't be there to help with cleanup efforts, so it feels good to be able to get the workers and equipment where they're needed."

Helping to determine whether the customers' requests can be met falls on the shoulders of Port Dawgs like Airman 1st Class Joseph Flores-Constancio, 62nd APS cargo processing journeyman.

His job is to weigh and measure each piece of equipment going on an aircraft to ensure that it will be able to be loaded without damaging it or the aircraft. He must also determine the center of balance of each piece, so load planners can determine the best placement on the aircraft to ensure the plane is balanced properly.

His task requires precision, especially with atypical cargo, such as the electrical utility vehicles. Some of the vehicles clear the top of the inside of the aircraft by only a few inches. Without careful measurement, an oversized vehicle could cause severe damage.

Flores-Constancio, a native of Mong Mong, Guam, said being able to be a part of Sandy relief efforts is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

"I play a small part in this larger effort to help out those on the East Coast," he said. "It's small, but an important part."

That sentiment is also felt by Staff Sgt. Bradley Burfield, 62nd APS joint inspector from Russelville, Ala.

"It is very rewarding to be a part of this mission and getting this equipment where it's needed," said Burfield, who has the job of being the final inspector to determine airworthiness of the equipment before it's loaded.

The Airmen of the 62nd APS, or Port Dawgs, as they're called, live by the motto, "Whatever it takes."

"When tasked with any mission, and something needs to go on an aircraft, we need to think about how this is going to happen," said Farkas. "Whenever that happens, Port Dawgs will say, 'We'll make it happen - whatever it takes.'"

WV Air National Guard delivers power support to NY during Sandy relief efforts

by 2nd Lt. Stacy L. Gault
167 AW/PA

11/5/2012 - MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The Air National Guard has answered the call for assistance in the wake of Hurricane Sandy that made landfall Oct. 29 in the Northeast U.S. causing more than 80 deaths and left millions without power and other critical supplies.

Considered one of the largest storms in the past few years, it left millions of Americans without basic necessities such as water, heat, fuel and electricity.

To help the process of restoring electric, civilian power companies from the West coast lent equipment and personnel to the heavily affected areas. Saturday Airmen with the 167th Airlift Wing, West Virginia Air National Guard, transported four power utility trucks in a C-5 Galaxy aircraft from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix, Ariz., to Stewart Air National Guard Base, Newburgh, N.Y.

Senior Master Sgt. Doug Ferrell, the primary loadmaster for the mission, said transporting civilian equipment provides challenges in securing the cargo in the aircraft because they are tied down differently than military vehicles.

"There aren't any specific tie down rings on the vehicles, so it' very important to make sure everything is marked correctly and balanced," Ferrell said.

Cargo can be loaded at either the front or back of the C-5. With that in mind, Ferrell said if the vehicles could make it under the 153-inch clearance at the back of the aircraft; they would easily drive through the front cargo door at the nose because of higher height restrictions.

In addition to the cargo, four utility workers accompanied the equipment on the aircraft to volunteer their time and skills to assist the residents of New York and New Jersey, the most heavily affected areas.

"I guess I felt like if something like that ever happened here, I'd want people to help out," said J.J. Muth of Salt River Project, one of the utility companies represented.

As for Phil Ochoa of Arizona Public Service, he recently vacationed to Long Island, N.Y., with his family and found the residents friendly and welcoming. So when the hurricane hit, he knew what he was going to do.

"Seeing the devastation instantly made me want to go back and help the people there," Ochoa said.

Located at Stewart Air National Guard Base, the 105th AW is less than 70 miles north of New York City. It established an Aerial Port of Debarkation to bring critical power line reconstruction personnel and equipment from the West coast to the Northeast, expediting the return of power to citizens.

"The complexity of and effort involved in this APOD mission directly corresponds to the importance of the effort to the overall Hurricane relief effort," said Col. Timothy LaBarge, the commander of the 105th AW. "We are all grateful for the opportunity to help our fellow New Yorkers in another way."

Air National Guard units around the country continue to engage in the Domestic Operations mission, serving both the individual states and country as a whole.

Ferrell said he loves this type of mission and has participated in every disaster relief effort the 167th AW has helped with since 1982.

"It's what we do and what makes us the unit we are," said Farrell.

AFGSC commander visits Team Malmstrom

by Airman 1st Class Katrina Heikkinen
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

11/1/2012 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont.  -- Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, Air Force Global Strike Command commander, visited Malmstrom Air Force Base to meet with Airmen serving in support of the nuclear deterrence mission on Oct. 28 to 30.

Kowalski began his three-day visit with civic leaders of Montana including Great Falls Chamber Executive Board members, the Military Affairs Committee, and city and county commissioners.

The general spent the rest of his stay traveling all over the installation meeting with Airmen in various work centers to include the 12th Missile Squadron, the 40th Helicopter Squadron, the Weapons Storage Area and the 341st Medical Group. He also had the opportunity to fly in a UH-1N Huey helicopter, observe a convoy demonstration and tour a launch facility.

On his final day here, Kowalski spoke with 20 Airmen at the Elkhorn Dining Facility over breakfast with an emphasis on leadership, success and discipline.

"What you do here is important and how you do it is important," Kowalski said. "If you [Airmen] weren't critical to this mission [at Malmstrom], you wouldn't be here. That discipline and professionalism you are being emerged in as young Airmen is one where we follow all checklists. Every day we carry around a significant trust and responsibility. You will not find anyone who is successful in their career field without having discipline in their life."

Following Kowalski's breakfast, he spoke to officers and senior noncommissioned officers during a briefing at the base auditorium.

"I need you to take a strong message back to your Airmen," Kowalski said during the briefing. "And that is what you do is important. It's not on the front page of the paper. It's not supposed to be something we get silver or Bronze Stars for; it's called deterrence. What you do day-in and day-out is prevent bad things from happening - on a global and small scale. What you do every day is maintain that ultimate guarantee of our national sovereignty. And the need for that is not going away anytime soon."

From junior enlisted Airmen and senior noncommissioned officers to lieutenants and colonels, Kowalski's message was the same to all: leadership and discipline applies to all members of Air Force Global Strike Command.

"Everyone is a leader here," he said. "This is not an Air Force where leadership starts when you are put in a leadership position.... As part of that special trust and responsibility is the attention to detail, discipline, professionalism, and compliance with checklists, technical orders and Air Force instructions. [All Airmen] have the responsibility for ensuring these incredibly powerful weapons remain safe, secure and effective. It's significant and it's something everybody in this command bears to some degree or another."

Official Describes Sequestration’s ‘Devastating’ Impact

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

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2012 – A senior Pentagon official today reflected on his past service in a hollow military as a precautionary tale to lawmakers to prevent sequestration from devastating the Defense Department’s budget.

Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, shared his perspective as a former Army officer while speaking to an audience during the 31st Annual Government Contract Management Conference here.

“In the 70’s, I was an Army captain deployed in Europe, and I saw what it was like to live within a hollow force,” he said. “I saw what it was like to have no parts for our systems, not be able to do any training and have very poor readiness. We don’t want to go back there.”

“We could make cuts in that way, but we don’t, definitely, want to do that,” Kendall said. “It’s one of the tenets [Defense] Secretary [Leon E.] Panetta put forth when he asked us to redesign both the strategy and the budget. We need to have a modern force.”

Sequestration refers to a mechanism in the 2011 Budget Control Act that would trigger an additional $500 billion across-the-board defense spending cut over the next decade, in addition to $487 billion in cuts already programmed, unless Congress identifies equivalent savings by January.

“We have to collectively do everything we can do to see to it that [sequestration] doesn’t happen,” Kendall said. “It would be a devastating result, not just for the department, but for the country if cuts of that magnitude were applied so indiscriminately.”

Kendall said the defense secretary, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior Pentagon leaders have been “very articulate about this” with strong comments on the topic.
“Nobody in Congress likes the idea of sequestration – that I’ve been able to find anyway,” he said.

“Everybody wants to avoid it. The question is how do we do it? It’s in the law, and unless Congress acts it’s going to stay in the law and be implemented.”

Kendall explained the nuances of the law: “We essentially have to go into every budget account and maybe every budget line, and take the same percentage out of essentially every line.”

“[Sequestration is] really a singularly stupid way to take money out of the Defense Department,” he said. “It is a ridiculous way to do it. It doesn’t allow us to prioritize; it doesn’t allow us to align our spending with the strategy.”

Kendall pointed to the Defense Department’s efforts last year to adhere to the Budget Control Act by taking “$50 billion a year out,” and said Pentagon leaders decided against a “traditional budget cutting, damage limitation exercise.”

Kendall said instead there was a concerted effort to build a budget and develop a strategy supporting the type of military, capabilities and force structure needed for Joint Force 2020.

“It was a painful process because taking $50 billion a year out over 10 years is not an easy thing for us to do,” he said. “But we came back with a strategy we think is sound. It was well received in general.”

“The budget we sent up has not been attacked particularly,” Kendall noted. “There’ve been some [additions], actually, to the budget that we sent up. So we’re sitting here under a continuing resolution waiting to see what’s going to happen with sequestration.”

Sequestration would require leaders to make very hard choices, Kendall said, to ensure the department maintains technological superiority, maintains faith with its workforce and achieves the necessary cuts.

“There aren’t a whole lot of things left in the budget that we can cut,” he said. “But if we’re going to have a superior force -- a force that’s agile, that’s ready to go -- … then the additional cuts are really very hard for us to absorb.”

“I think that’s becoming pretty well understood,” Kendall said, noting he believes a “lame duck” session of Congress will postpone sequestration.

“I do expect there’ll be a delay for a few months, and then after the new Congress comes in, in January, we’ll sort it all out,” he said.

Transcom Transforms for Changing Global Requirements

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill., Nov. 5, 2012 – Putting in place the most-sweeping strategic planning effort in U.S. Transportation Command’s 25-year history, Air Force Gen. William M. Fraser III, Transcom commander, said his organization is revolutionizing the way the military deploys, sustains and redeploys its forces around the globe.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Gen. William M. Fraser III, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, unveils his command’s five-year strategic plan designed to guide the command as it evolves to meet future challenges, Oct. 12, 2012. U.S. Transportation Command photo by Bob Fehringer

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Fraser assumed his post overseeing the Defense Department’s global air, land and sea transportation enterprise in October 2011. It was a year of unprecedented geopolitical change across the Middle East and Northern Africa; the massive earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Japan; the logistical drawdown in Iraq and surge operations in Afghanistan.

In every case, Fraser noted, the combatant commanders responsible for these and every other effort the military conducted turned to Transcom and its unmatched transportation and distribution capabilities to carry out their missions.

Speaking with American Forces Press Service in his headquarters office here, Fraser said he’s been amazed that the people of Transcom, including its service components and commercial and international partners, make such a daunting task look almost easy.

During any given day, he said, the command oversees 100 rail car shipments, 26 ships underway and another nine ships being loaded or offloaded, 2,000 truck cargo shipments, 2,000 household goods movements, 900 airlift sorties, 97 operational air refueling sorties, seven air evacuation sorties and 30 courier deliveries.
“It is fascinating that we are able to do what we do the way that we do it, and I think others enjoy being able to turn to us to provide them options to … accomplish their mission,” Fraser said.

Transcom was never envisioned as a permanent combatant command when it initially stood up in 1987. It was meant to be a planning headquarters, to be activated only in wartime to deal with the associated transportation and logistics challenges.

Operation Desert Storm -- the largest deployment of U.S. troops and equipment since the Vietnam War -- changed that thinking. “There came a realization that you really need to do in peace what you do in war,” Fraser said.

So for the past two decades, Transcom has matured its processes, evolving into what Fraser calls a “world-class, joint deployment and distribution enterprise that provides unfailing support to our warfighters and their families around the globe.”

The challenge now, he said, is that what has worked so well in the past isn’t necessarily the best formula for the future -- particularly in light of budgetary constraints and changing support requirements as the United States draws down in Afghanistan.

“We are at a point in time where things are going to be different,” Fraser said. “We are not going to be as engaged in as many areas constantly, and there is not going to be as much business.”

That, he acknowledged, is one of Transcom’s big challenges moving forward.

A state-of-the-art global transportation and distribution enterprise simply can’t be turned on and off like a spigot, he explained.

The enterprise, Fraser said, relies on ready, well-oiled capabilities within Transcom’s organic assets, provided by the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, Military Sealift Command, Air Mobility Command and Joint Enabling Capabilities Command.

Not as well recognized, he noted, is the key role commercial partners play: contributing ships, cargo space, aircraft and logistics support to complement what the military provides.

“We really rely upon our commercial partners,” Fraser said. “They provide tremendous capability to us, when we need it and where we need it, and we are able to capitalize upon their infrastructure and the capabilities they have to accomplish our mission.”

The general said Transcom’s new strategy recognizes the importance of keeping its organic and commercial enterprises viable so they’re able to support future missions -- whether for humanitarian assistance and disaster response or kinetic operations.

The way to do that, Fraser said, is to remain the uncontested “transportation provider of choice” that combatant commanders keep busy supporting their exercises and engagements, even as wartime requirements decrease.

So as it strives to preserve readiness capability, Transcom is focusing on improving its business model to better align resources and processes to support the mission, Fraser said. For example, he noted, the command is investing heavily in information technology to give leaders the tools to make the best -- and when feasible, lowest-cost -- options as they make transportation and logistics decisions.

And in what Fraser said he considers one of the most important engines for change, Transcom is looking inward, to transform its workforce into “enterprise-focused professionals.” The goal, he explained, is to encourage collaboration, build trust and empower people to make decisions and inspire innovation.
That makes each and every member of Transcom a partner in transforming the command for the future, Fraser said. “I feel that this sets us up for success, because the workforce has all been a part of this,” he said. “They have been part of the process, they bought into the process and they understand where we are going to go, why we are going where we are going and how we are preparing for the future.”

Fraser said he’s already seeing the difference this emphasis is making. And based on past performance, he said, he’s convinced that the men and women of Transcom will continue to live up to their motto, “Together, we deliver.”

“It really is about people,” Fraser said. “Because it takes all of us to provide whatever is needed -- humanitarian supplies, disaster response, responding to a crisis … or sustaining the forces.

“Wherever that may be, they know that we are going to deliver,” he said. “And it is all of us doing it. It is the people that are making that happen – and will continue to, into the future.”

Hancock Field deploys to Support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts

by Maj. Jeffrey D. Brown

11/2/2012 - SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- One hundred forty members of the 174th Attack Wing of the New York Air National Guard have deployed for at least 10 days Friday to New York City and Long Island to support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

"Seeing the tunnels flooding and the water coming out of those subways, it's amazing," said Lt. Col. Ron Berzins, from the 174th AW. "Seeing the streets of New York City just empty of people ... it's amazing to see that happen unfortunately."

The 174th AW picked up dozens of HUMVEEs at Fort Drum Tuesday morning. After refueling and picking up supplies at the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base here, they headed down to Camp Smith near Peekskill. Others headed to Long Island to set up emergency communications systems.

"We had more volunteers than we needed than were tasked for it," said Berzins. "People are anxious ... they're all raising their hand, they all want to go. There's a look of disappointment for those that didn't get chosen. So it's always great to be a part of a team that wants to do this and help others."

Some of these airmen were deployed to help with Irene recovery efforts last year. They expect a similar mission.

"I don't know if it's cleaning up or driving through neighborhoods, making sure everyone's taken care of, meeting immediate needs of people who might need food or water or supplies," said Berzins. "We have the HUMVEEs here that can drive through the flooded streets, so we can bring the supplies to them."

"Much like this, we didn't really have a specific mission set other than to get down there, set up some command and control and get some boots on the ground so we can assist wherever down in the city," said Tech. Sgt. Jason Hancock, a member of the 174th AW.

"Establish communications if we can," added Airman 1st Class Steve Mueller, also of the 174th AW. "That's our primary job. But really just help everyone out."

Whatever their mission, all the New York ANG memebers deploying say they're prepared to help.

Water provided by NY Air National Guardsmen during Sandy relief efforts

by Senior Master Sgt. Ray Lloyd
107th Airlift Wing

11/3/2012 - FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- The Air National Guard's 107th Airlift Wing in Niagara Falls got the call Friday to join efforts with the New York Army National Guard to assist residents in the hardest-hit areas of Queens in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Guardsmen from the New York Air National Guard responded at a moment's notice airlifting more than 30,000 bottles of water here just outside Queens.

"This is what is needed now for this area," said Major Roberto DeMarquez, New York Army National Guard. "My troops are helping out in Queens and fresh water is what is in short supply."

The 107th AW with the C-130 Hercules aircraft can move multiple types of cargo and fly into small airports. When the state needs the of help the National Guard, Airmen and Soldiers work together to help our fellow residents.

"This is my first humanitarian mission and I'm proud to do my part to help," said Senior Airman Shaun Pierce, a C-130 loadmaster for the 107th AW.

Pentagon Moves to Refine Acquisitions Process, Official Says

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

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2012 – The Defense Department continues to do all it can to enhance the defense acquisition process, improving the Pentagon’s buying power and maximizing value for taxpayers’ money, a senior Pentagon official said today.

Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, shared his latest efforts to improve the process as he spoke during the 31st Annual Government Contract Management Conference here.

“The essence of [my] job has always been about getting as much value as possible for the taxpayers,” he said. “[Former Defense] Secretary [Robert M.] Gates saw the kind of coming storm with the deficit problem that we have and realized early on that defense was going to have to do its share.”

In response, Kendall said, he and his predecessor, Ashton B. Carter, who now serves as the deputy defense secretary, developed the ‘Better Buying Power’ initiative just over two years ago and have been implementing its principles ever since.

“We’re going to move from them onto what I’m going to call ‘Better Buying Power 2.0,’” he said. “It’s one of several things I’m doing to kind of move the acquisition process.”

Kendall explained he refers to the entirety of the acquisition enterprise when he speaks of acquisition.

“It includes technology, it includes logistics; so my idea of acquisition is the total set of things,” he said.

Acquisition, he added, involves not just buying new equipment and equipping the nation’s forces, “but also sustain[ing] the force over time. So the readiness side of it is very much a part of this.”
The undersecretary explained some of the efforts he has undertaken to enhance the defense acquisition process, including updating the flagship guidance for defense acquisitions.

“I’m re-writing [DOD] 5000.02, the DOD instruction that covers the acquisition system and how we do business,” Kendall said. “What I found is that there had been a lot of laws that had been a passed that needed to be integrated into the document.”

Secondly, “the document really lays out … one thing called the acquisition system,” Kendall said.
“There are so many different types of products that we buy, and so many different ways to structure programs around the type of product that you’re buying, that I really felt that we needed something that emphasized those different ideas,” the undersecretary said.

The new guidance, he said, will include several models for structuring programs. Kendall noted DOD 5000.02 was 20 pages long when he began his career and has now ballooned to about 200 pages.

“Another thing I’m doing -- it’ll be probably around the first of the year -- is putting out a report on the performance of the acquisition system,” Kendall said. “I have a very strong belief that we need to be data-driven in what we do.

“I have a sign outside my door that says ‘In God We Trust, all others must bring data,’ he continued. “We’re going to try to take a look … at what actually works. Try to look at the data and try to understand what actually works and how much it works.”

Kendall noted the report, which he described as “the beginning of a long journey,” will start to put some quantitative analysis and data analysis into the defense acquisition equation.
“It’s about putting it out in the public domain so everybody that thinks they’re an expert on acquisition … can go back and look at this data and see if there’s anything in the history that tells us what works and what doesn’t,” he said.

Fairchild aids in Hurricane Sandy recovery

92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

11/3/2012 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- A C-5 Galaxy from the 60th Airlift Wing, Travis Air Force Base, Calif., departed Fairchild AFB, Wash., Nov. 2 at about 11 a.m. filled with 19 Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) volunteers and five of their support vehicles. They will land at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst where BPA will make their way to Long Island, New York to help restore power following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Airmen from the 92nd Logistics Readiness Squadron weighed, measured and performed safety inspections on 14 BPA vehicles last night beginning around 9 p.m. Within six hours, every vehicle was inventoried and each was slated for a particular flight for today. The rest of the equipment will be flown on two C-17 Globemasters from Joint Base Charleston, S.C.

"Our logistics Airmen were running 24-hour operations as soon as we were notified yesterday afternoon," said Col. Shawn Teagan, 92nd Operations Group commander. "The attention to detail they've given to this mission has been first class. Fairchild Airmen are proud to serve this country and are humbled to answer the call of others in their time of need."

AF officials delay MilPDS upgrade

by Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

11/2/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Air Force officials are delaying the upgrade of the Military Personnel Data System that was originally scheduled for December.

Delaying the upgrade is necessary to ensure the new system is thoroughly tested by the Air Force Personnel Center and other Department of Defense and Air Force agencies that use personnel information from MilPDS.

"Despite the best efforts of many, we must delay the upgrade," said Robert Corsi, Air Force assistant deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. "It's critical we ensure our Airmen have the best possible personnel data system, and to do that we need to complete testing on the new system before we upgrade MilPDS."

The delay will have minimal impact on total force Airmen as personnel processes have been established to allow Airmen to continue to submit early retirement and separation applications until February 1, 2013. The personnel processes and programs identified below will revert back to the requirements and timelines outlined in their respective Air Force instructions:

  • Scheduling oral proficiency interviews, Defense Language Proficiency Tests for foreign language proficiency bonuses
  • Applying for reenlistments and enlistment extensions
  • Completing base of preference applications
  • Completing in-place base of preference applications
  • Applying for voluntary retraining
  • Updating Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance policies
MilPDS is the primary records database for personnel data and actions that occur throughout every total force Airman's career. MilPDS is also used to initiate Airman pay actions, maintain Air Force accountability and strength data and support a host of interactions with other Air Force processes and systems that rely on personnel data.

Reserve and Guard members will receive specific instructions from the Air Force Reserve Command and Air Reserve Personnel Center concerning how the delay will impact their personnel programs. More information is available on the ARPC public website at

For more information about personnel services and programs, visit the myPers website at

D-M hosts adaptive sporting demo

by Senior Airman Brittany Dowdle
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/5/2012 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.  -- Disabled athletes from the University of Arizona performed an adaptive sporting demonstration as the final event of National Disability Employment Awareness Month at the Benko Fitness Center on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Oct. 30.

Pete Hughes, University of Arizona women's wheelchair basketball team head coach, along with a team of six coed athletes came to D-M with extra sport wheelchairs to participate in a basketball exhibition against Air Force members.

"The event was highly successful," said Staff Sgt. Karolien Thornton, 25th Operational Weather Squadron zone supervisor. "We had a great turnout of spectators who were very enthusiastic about the contest. Even Col. Greg Williams, 355th Mission Support Group commander, got in on a match."

The University of Arizona's adaptive athletics program is the largest and most successful program of its kind in the country. The program provides disabled students and community members opportunities to participate fully in all the experiences higher education has to offer. The adaptive athletics program offers its own sports teams for men and women's basketball, quad rugby, tennis, track and road racing.

"These athletes are an inspiration to the community and to members that wear a uniform," Thornton said.

The adaptive sporting demo was the first of its kind on Davis-Monthan.

"All in all, this event, which wrapped up the successful NDEAM campaign, was perfect," Thornton said. "We were able to positively promote disability awareness and employment opportunities for those serving our country and our community."

'Spartan' aircrew helps bring power to New York

by Tech. Sgt. David Speicher
175th Wing Public Affairs

11/5/2012 - BALTIMORE, Md. (AFNS) -- A C-27J Spartan aircraft crew from the 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard, flew power generators and other equipment to New York in support of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts Saturday, Nov. 3.

ANG crews from Ohio, Mississippi and Maryland flew the first-ever C-27J domestic operations missions transporting power generation equipment and HUMVEEs to Stewart Air National Guard Base, N.Y., to help provide needed power resources in the affected area.

ANG domestic operations provide support during and in the aftermath of a domestic emergency, in this case Hurricane Sandy.

"It is really nice knowing that when flying the C-27J that if you have to get to the small airfields that the big planes can't, you can provide the supplies for the people who need it," said Master Sgt. Matt Kerstetter, a loadmaster from 135th Airlift Squadron here.

The C-27J is a medium-sized military transport. It has the similar logistical and maintenance characteristics of the C-130J Hercules aircraft and has access a wide range of airfields, including short, unprepared strips while transporting heavy loads.

"The C-27J can get into some smaller airfields due to weight restrictions," said Capt. Paul Mercier, co-pilot from 135th ASQ.

According to 1st Lt. Kevin V. McGee, a public affairs officer for the Ohio Army National Guard, the 1484th Transportation Company was convoying about 70 trucks and 118 soldiers to set up a food and water distribution point in New York City as part of Ohio's response to assist neighboring states. An advance team was airlifted by three C-27Js: one each from Maryland, Ohio and Mississippi ANG units.

"This gets the equipment there faster than on the ground," said Lt. Col. Gary Laubach, an aircraft commander from 135th ASQ.

The C-27J crew flew their plane to Macon, Ga., October 27 - safely out of the path of Hurricane Sandy. On Wednesday, they returned and were immediately put on alert for disaster relief missions.

"It feels different when you are so close to home and closer to your state," said Laubach while talking about the difference between this mission and past disaster relief missions. "One of our pilot's mothers is in the affected area and will be out of power for a week. This mission was great - extremely satisfying. It feels good to get stuff to the people who need it; I only wish I could be there when the generators get plugged in where the people need the electricity. This is the best mission you could get."

"It was nice to provide a little help to the folks in the New York area. It feels good," said Mercier. "This is close to home and I have friends in the New York area. Hopefully I have been helping our friends in the area."

According to Mercier, the aircrew worked hard to avoid refueling on the mission. Fuel is at premium in the hurricane affected areas.

"Two factors were in play, said Mercier. "We do not want to use any additional fuel out of Newburgh. We planned for our fuel burn. We came up with a good plan to arrive back with enough reserves."

Mercier was deployed earlier in the year to Afghanistan and was happy to do a state-side mission.

"We finally get to do what the Guard is designed to do," said Mercier. "It is nice to do the state-side mission, which is why a lot of people signed up in the National Guard. It was very successful and showed the capabilities the C-27J."

"It is a great experience to get out there and help people and do what we are meant to do in a National Guard unit," said Senior Airman Ian Beanland, a loadmaster from 135th ASQ. "We do a lot of training with the C-27J, today is one of these days we executed the mission as planned."

"It was very rewarding after watching the news and being able to help," said Kerstetter.

JB MDL firefighters save more than 250 in hurricane rescue efforts

by Capt. Brooke Brzozowske
621st Contingency Response Wing

11/5/2012 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J.  -- Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst's firefighters supported hurricane rescue operations near Ortley Beach, N.J., as part of New Jersey Task Force One, Oct. 29 to 31, 2012.

The emergency responders supported local communities with swift-water and water-rescue technicians, who led in the recovery and rescue of more than 250 victims.

"It was incredible," said Capt. Len Dotson, 87th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter. "We were driving the boats down flooded streets, listening to pleas for help. It was sad, but we knew we had to focus."

The captain admitted to facing real challenges during the restoration phase of the storm response.

"We were answering 9-1-1 calls, trying to get to certain addresses," said Dotson. "But we'd get to where the house was supposed to be, and the house just wasn't there. More often than not, the houses had slid down the street and into another neighborhood."

Rescue technicians Joe Brown, Brian Middleton and Karl Ramm, also with the 87th Civil Engineer Squadron, were part of NJ-TF1. The joint base also sent firefighters to assist in communities such as Toms River, Atlantic City, Seaside Heights, Ortley Beach, Lavallette, Brick and Normandy Beach, N.J.

"We've got a good family and support network here," Dotson said. "We're lucky to have such strong ties with our communities, and we're honored to help them out during this time of need."

The primary mission of NJ-TF1 is to provide advanced technical search and rescue capabilities to victims trapped or entombed in structurally-collapsed buildings.

For more information about the joint base and its hurricane support efforts, contact the Joint Base Public Affairs office at (609) 754-0541.

Face of Defense: Marine Bridges Communications Gap

By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Karen Blankenship
Amphibious Squadron 11

SOUTH CHINA SEA, Nov. 5, 2012 – Marine Corps Capt. Benjamin Leatherbury, a communications officer, was promoted Nov. 2 while serving aboard amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard on deployment here.

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Marine Corps Capt. Benjamin Leatherbury is promoted by Navy Capt. Cathal S. O'Connor on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, Nov. 2, 2012. The Bonhomme Richard is part of a U.S. Navy group currently operating in the South China Sea. U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Lacordrick Wilson

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Leatherbury, the officer-in-charge of the Marine Communication Detachment from Expeditionary Strike Group 7 and commander of Task Force 76 aboard the Bonhomme Richard, works to ensure the integration of the Marine Air Ground Task Force’s communication structure into the ship’s existing communication system.

“Our main responsibilities are keeping the Marines’ spaces operational for communications when they come on board,” Leatherbury said. “For example, if an antenna on one of the ships used by the Marines does not work, we work to ensure the blue side is working on the issue and follow up until the problem is solved.”

Leatherbury, an Indianapolis native, graduated from Indiana University. He said that he joined the Marines because he wanted to serve his country and to travel and see the world.

“I like being around Marines and the cohesiveness of a disciplined unit,” he said. “After working in a joint environment, I now have a much better appreciation for the camaraderie that Marines have.”

Leatherbury said he enjoys his job and plans to stay in the Marines for a few more years. He added he would eventually like to become a foreign area officer.

“I like the challenge and difficulty that my job presents, and I like working with the extremely bright people who are in my field,” Leatherbury said. “They do some pretty amazing work and many outside the field don’t realize what goes into making even the basic communications work.”

The Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group, commanded by Navy Capt. Cathal S. O’Connor, is made up of amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, the amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga and the amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver. The group is currently operating in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

Ohio native answers call to fly

by Staff Sgt. Alexandria Mosness
U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs

11/5/2012 - KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- The toy trains went into a box and the toy planes came out after his first plane ride. He was only five years old, but after that first ride, he was hooked and knew he wanted to be a pilot.

Capt. Brian Dicks, HH-60G Pave Hawk combat rescue pilot with the 26th ERQS here is a native to Alliance, Ohio, and is deployed from Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

With both of his grandfathers in the military, he said it felt like a calling to join the service.

Dicks graduated from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, and commissioned as an officer. Although he always knew he wanted to be a pilot, he had an inkling it would be helicopters, he said.

While his grandfather was his hero growing up, his heroes today are the men he serves with, he said.

"The last couple of years I have seen them do some amazing stuff," he continued. "I can't say anyone else is my hero when they are out here saving lives."

Being in the right place at the right time is sometimes all it takes to save a life, Dicks explained.

"In Helmand Province in 2010, we were hopping from forward operating bases to forward operating bases picking up patients who had minor injuries," he said. "We received a call about a two-month-old Afghan infant who had fallen into a well. Once out of the well, her father ran a mile and a half to the nearest base. A joint terminal attack controller knew we were in the area, so he called us and we were only one minute away. We landed, the PJs got him and his daughter in the back and we took them to Bastion Airfield where they got her heart beating again."

It is this serendipity that amazes the helicopter pilot.

"If we didn't have to pick up the guy who broke his leg, we wouldn't have been in that specific location at the right time," he said. "To see all the events and people link together is amazing."

Though the pilot has flown a little more than 500 missions, he still keeps in touch with the family of a fallen Airman.

"We launched to recover Staff Sgt. Christopher Frost who was on a Mi-17 helicopter when it went down in Iraq," Dicks said. "I happened to be flying a flag for my grandfather that day. After we came back, I was able to find out who his wife and widow were and send them the flag that was flown that day. I still try and keep in touch with his family. You don't get a lot of that in this job."

Dicks is the lead pilot of the helicopter, but he wouldn't be able to get off the ground without his crew, he said.

"We rely on each other so much," Dicks added. "I rely on them to keep me safe and give me a reality check if it's needed, and they expect the same from me."

"I am the one who inspects the aircraft, so he trusts me to make sure it is mission ready," said Tech. Sgt. Will Frisch, 26th ERQS flight engineer. "Opinions matter a lot in this type of job. If something doesn't look right, we speak up to the pilot. And that works both ways. There is a mutual respect and what we say is taken into consideration. We have each other's lives in our hands."

Frisch, who has known Dicks for two years, said he liked the captain's approach on getting the job accomplished.

"He is very intelligent, but not to the point of fault," he added. "He knows his job very well and helps you do yours better. It has been very enjoyable working with him. There is no nonsense with him. He just wants to get the job done and done well."

But for Dicks, it is more than just a job.

"I enjoy the challenge of making things work," Dicks said. "The most rewarding part is saving a life. That'd be the best part - knowing they are going back to their families."

"This is where I was meant to be," he said.

New York National Guard Troops Aid Neighbors

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau

NEW YORK, Nov. 5, 2012 – Members of the New York National Guard distributed critically needed fuel throughout the New York City area as residents and local authorities continue with cleanup and recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast.

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Soldiers and airmen with the New York National Guard distribute fuel to local residents at the Staten Island Armory in New York, Nov. 3, 2012. The fuel was provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and distributed at various armories throughout the New York and northern New Jersey areas. U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy

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The fuel was provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and distributed at National Guard armories in Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn as a response to gas stations and other infrastructure being shut down as a result of Sandy.
“It’s a great mission for the National Guard in that it’s a humanitarian mission,” said Air Force Capt. Ryan Abbott, with the New York Air National Guard’s 152nd Air Operations Group, who oversaw distribution operations at the Staten Island Armory. “We’re out there with the populace and letting them know that the Guard is here to take care of you.”

Fuel distribution isn’t the only mission that Abbott and those at the armory have been taking on.

“We just had one of our patrols come back and they were just in one of the worst-hit areas of Staten Island helping to distribute food, water, some much needed clothing and blankets, especially because the weather is getting much colder out here,” Abbott said.

Abbott said missions like this led him to enlist in the Air Guard.

“This is one of the reasons why I joined the Guard and I didn’t go on active duty,” he said. “I wanted to be part of that humanitarian mission for my state when I was called upon, and for me this is the first time in a long time that I’ve gotten to do that.”

Abbott said local residents’ reception has been overwhelming.

“The feedback we’re getting from the community is great,” he said. “There has been such a huge outpouring of support for us, the Guard. A lot of people try and bring us items and help us out, where in turn we’re here to help them. It’s much appreciated that they offer it to us, but we in turn take it and distribute it [among] everybody else [in the community].”

Abbott said he’s seen consistent support throughout the community

“Our guys that have been on patrol have seen houses [where] the watermark is on the second floor of the outside of the house,” he noted. “We go to approach the people in the house to see how they’re doing and if they need anything, and those people are more concerned about the people lower down on the island than they are.”

Abbott said the mission comes back to simply helping the community.

“A lot of us that joined the Guard, we joined to take care of those at home -- and New York is home,” he said. “We’re here taking care of our folks.”

National Guard Members Provide Post-Sandy Aid

By Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau

NEW YORK, Nov. 5, 2012 – More than 7,000 National Guard members are providing aid to Hurricane Sandy-impacted communities along the East Coast and other areas, including thousands of Guardsmen in New York and New Jersey helping residents get onto their feet after the superstorm destroyed homes and crippled infrastructure.

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New York Army National Guard soldiers assist residents at Long Beach City Hall, N.J., for evacuation to shelters. Guard members are assisting throughout the flood-ravaged region. U.S. Army photo by Col. Richard Goldenberg, New York National Guard

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National Guard members on Nov. 3 started supporting other state and federal agencies working to ease gasoline distribution challenges in New York. Guard members also provided food, water, presence patrols and transportation, going from house- to house on Staten Island conducting wellness checks and running pumps and generators.

More than 4,000 Guard troops are focused on the two states where Sandy did the most damage: New Jersey and New York.
“The National Guard takes its missions from the governor, and they’re supporting the first responders, so when the capabilities of the first responders have been exceeded, then the National Guard is called in to support,” said Army Gen. Frank J. Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

The National Guard has hundreds of thousands of troops available nationwide and a plethora of capabilities a phone call away, the general noted.

“We’ll tailor those to meet the need, based on what the city and the state require,” Grass said.

“More than 6,000 Army National Guard soldiers are part of the massive relief effort across the entire region,” said Army Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr., the director of the Army National Guard. “Our soldiers are concentrated in communities hardest hit by the cold, flooding and power outages.

“We're ramping up our future operations as well," Ingram continued. “About a thousand additional soldiers from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Delaware are on their way to help out with critical transportation, security and supply distribution efforts in New York and New Jersey.”

Grass saw the challenges New Jersey and New York residents face first-hand Nov. 2 during an eight-hour visit to assess damage and needs and thank troops.

“New Jersey is in consequence management, recovering,” he said. “Lots and lots of contract capability, construction capability … still long lines in some places as they recover and at the gas stations.”

As Grass conducted a damage-assessment survey from a National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter over New York City and its environs Nov. 2, he saw houses off their foundations, piles of soaked possessions including mattresses dragged to the curb, and sand-covered roadways from shore to shore of narrow barrier islands. As darkness fell, chunks of the metropolis were in darkness and gas stations were easy to identify by the police lights flashing outside and the miles-long lines of tail-lights snaking along approach roads.

“In New York, it’s going to be a long haul there,” Grass said. ”So much damage -- especially the subways. It’s going to take a while to get those pumped out. But the city looks like it’s ready to roll. It’s functioning down there. Some of the outer islands, you could see a lot of damage, and it’s going to take a while to get that cleaned up.”

“The National Guard has been called on again when our citizens are in need of help -- neighbors helping neighbors,” Army Maj. Gen. Patrick Murphy, the adjutant general of New York National Guard, said during a visit to Manhattan to assess possible National Guard support to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers efforts to remove water from flooded road and subway tunnels.

“These are soldiers that have trained for combat but serve in domestic operations,” Murphy said. “They’ve done just incredible work in the area of security, logistics distribution and working with law enforcement and their local partners. Our soldiers and airmen … are true professionals and they want to help the citizens that they live with every day, their neighbors.”

When he wasn’t talking with troops on the ground Nov. 2, Grass was engaged in a steady stream of phone consultations with federal, state and local officials that left no time for even a food break. Returning to the Pentagon late Nov. 2, his weekend continued with a steady stream of White House, secretary of defense, Federal Emergency Management Agency and other meetings that started as the storm approached more than a week ago.

“I saw today many, many soldiers and airmen who have deployed overseas,” Grass said as he returned to the Pentagon. “You couldn’t ask for a better team to be ready to support the citizens and every one of those soldiers and airmen out there I saw today was very happy to do the mission they are doing.”

Residents returned Guard members’ enthusiasm for the post-storm aid mission with appreciation.

“The level of appreciation for the soldiers and the airmen is just unprecedented,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Jerome Jenkins, the senior enlisted leader of the New Jersey Army National Guard. “Astounding, great reaction, because they know that we’re here to help. When they see the Guard, they know that we’re here to help.”

Search and rescue, sheltering, debris removal, food and water distribution, power generation support, door-to-door wellness checks, damage surveys and working with local authorities to maintain civil order are among New Jersey Guard members’ missions, he said.

“It’s been a great opportunity for us as Guard members to show our neighbors, the citizens of New Jersey, what they’re paying for,” said Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Vincent Morton, the senior enlisted leader of the New Jersey Air National Guard. “We bring a calming effect. Outside the door, the wind is blowing, the tide is coming up; when they see us in uniform, it brings that calming effect.”

Morton added: “We get an opportunity to serve right here in the state of New Jersey. It’s our neighbors. … It’s very rewarding: You go overseas, you serve your country -- but it’s even more rewarding when you get back and you serve your neighbors. The Air National Guard is a key piece when there’s a state emergency, we’re always easy to get to, and we bring a huge skill set to the fight.”

Guard members continued to provide support in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia.

Operations in those states included route clearance, mounted presence patrols, commodities distribution, power generation support, sand and debris clearance, snow clearance, traffic control, search and rescue and health and welfare checks on residents in remote areas, according to the National Guard Coordination Center in Arlington, Va.

States outside the affected area also were contributing. For the first time, a C-27J Spartan military transport aircraft from the Ohio National Guard supported a domestic mission by transporting soldiers and vehicles headed to New York to support relief efforts there.

Marines Help Staten Island Residents

Headquarters Marine Corps

NEW YORK, Nov. 5, 2012 – Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived here yesterday via CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters to aid Staten Island residents impacted by Superstorm Sandy.

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Marine Corps UH-1N Iroquois “Huey” helicopters with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit deliver meals-ready-to-eat to Staten Island, N.Y., Nov. 4, 2012. The Navy-Marine Corps team is well equipped to respond to national disasters when required, through the coordination of U.S. Northern Command. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Megan Angel

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The group of 20 Marines worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the New York City Parks Department and other civilian authorities to provide relief to citizens affected by Hurricane Sandy’s damaging winds and flooding.

“It feels good to help,” said Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Antonio M. Medina, an optics technician attached to the 26th MEU. “We’re trying to coordinate efforts with the local and some state agencies so that we can try to help with the situation, take furniture that’s rotten, get medicine, whatever it takes to relieve [people’s] problems.”

The Marines are moving house to house through Staten Island, surveying damaged structures, assisting those in need of medical support and providing manpower to remove damaged household goods from residents’ homes.

The 26th MEU Marines are scheduled to provide assistance as the surrounding New York communities return to normal operations and power is restored. The eastern shore of Staten Island has seen some of the worst destruction from Hurricane Sandy; homes were flooded, power lines broken and, as of yesterday, some fallen trees remained atop homes and vehicles.

“… [A]s long as the mission needs us to be here or until we’re told to move to somewhere else to help, we’ll be here,” Medina said. “The [locals] appreciate the help a lot. They shake our hands and say ‘Thank you.’ They even have offered us food in several locations but we’re not here to take their things. We’re here to help them out.”

Many of the residents expressed their gratitude to the Marines for lending a hand. Salvatore Greco, who served in the Marine Corps during the early 90’s, said he was excited when he saw a group of Marines helping out with the recovery.

“It’s a blessing,” Greco said. “The first thing I asked was, ‘Where’s my Marines at?’”

Greco’s wife, Sebahet, said she wants to see more Marines helping out.

“I was hoping that the Marines were here,” she said. “I was happy to see them here.”

The Marines, operating from the USS Wasp, USS San Antonio and USS Carter Hall off the coast of New York City, are part of a Navy and Marine Corps team that provides crisis response anywhere in the world. The Navy-Marine team can land forces ashore by air and sea, and is uniquely suited to assist local authorities in moving personnel and equipment.

National Parks Free to All for Veterans Day Weekend

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2012 – America's 398 national parks will offer the public free admission Nov. 10-12 during Veterans Day weekend in honor of those who serve and have served in the U.S. military, according to a National Park Service news release.

"National parks preserve places that commemorate our country's collective heritage -- our ideals, our majestic lands, our sacred sites, our patriotic icons -- which our military has defended through the years," National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in the release.

"We are grateful for the service and sacrifice of military members, past and present, and honored to tell their story at many of our national parks," Jarvis added.

From frontier forts to World War II battlefields, more than 70 national parks have direct connections to the military, the release said. These include the earliest national parks, where Army engineers designed park roads and buildings and the cavalry enforced regulations from 1886 until the National Park Service was established in 1916.

National parks throughout the country will hold special events to commemorate Veterans Day, according to the release. Highlights include:

-- Evening candlelight tours of Vicksburg National Cemetery, Miss., where visitors will encounter historical personalities;
-- The 7th annual illumination of 6,000 graves at Poplar Grove National Cemetery in Petersburg National Battlefield, Va.;
-- A Continental soldier encampment at Independence National Historical Park, Pa.;
-- A talk on the African-American Civil War experience at Natchez National Historical Park, Miss.; and,
-- An exhibit and talks about the Roosevelts in the World Wars at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, N.Y.

Additional benefits for veterans on Veterans Day include a free Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area cruise that will pass the USS Constitution on its way to Georges Island, home of Fort Warren, according to the release.

The National Park Service is also, in partnership with the Gettysburg Foundation, offering veterans free entrance to the Gettysburg National Military Park museum in Pennsylvania, the release said.

Barksdale Airmen join 36th EAMXS

by Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
36th Wing Public Affairs

11/5/2012 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- The 36th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, comprised of members from the 96th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., is supporting the 96th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron, also from Barksdale AFB, here during their deployment.

The 36th EAMXS is deployed on Andersen to provide maintenance support to the B-52 Stratofortresses for the Continuous Bomber Presence.

The CBP is an ongoing effort by the U.S. Pacific Command to show the United States' commitment to the security and stability of the Pacific area of responsibility.

"I'd like to think that we are here to raise the bar a little bit higher than the previous maintenance unit," said Capt. Scott Eberle, 36th EAMXS officer in charge. "We believe that if better is possible, good is not enough."

Even though some of the 36th EAMXS Airmen have been on island before, most of the squadron's Airmen are still getting acclimated to the new environment.

"People have to understand that our living conditions here - the location, weather and the distance they have to travel to get from one place to another for work - are completely different from what we have back in Barksdale," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Hollister, 36th EAMXS crew chief expediter. "But as we get more accustomed, I know we have the capacity to exceed expectations."

Sergeant Hollister said that thinking ahead and expecting worst-case scenarios, such as sudden onset of strong wind and torrential rain, will help them be ready to perform maintenance that the B-52s may require in a tropical environment.

"We just need to remedy the situation as it requires," said Sergeant Hollister. "Like for weather, we just have to remember to keep the windows closed and aircraft sealed up."

Aside from the environmental changes, the Airmen are also getting accustomed to the fast-paced deployed environment and the amount of maintenance required on aircraft that are always on the go.

"We fly a lot more, which requires more maintenance," said Airman 1st Class Benjamin Deachin, 36th EAMXS dedicated crew chief. "The aircraft need to be fixed and ready right away. We do lot of the same work, but with less people and at a faster pace here. I also think our mission here has a higher purpose, especially since the Department of Defense's focus has shifted to the Asia-Pacific region."

In order to recognize the hard-working Airmen, the 96th EAMU will continue the "Nine-O-Nine" award that the 69th EAMU introduced to the 36th Maintenance Group. The award recognizes aircrews that accomplish 20 consecutive sorties without maintenance abort in a deployed location.

"I hope the majority of our Airmen will get the Nine-O-Nine award," said Sergeant Hollister. "Any recognition we can get - individually, as crews or as a unit - are important. Everyone plays their part to make sure the aircraft gets off the ground, so I would like to see all my guys be recognized, because they deserve it."

The unit prides themselves in cohesion. With the amount of time they spend together, they attribute their past and future successes to the harmony brought about by friendships that the Airmen have built within the unit.

"In order for us to work towards excellence, we need to be in sync," said Captain Eberle. "We try to work harmoniously, foster friendships and do so in a fashion that still maintains military discipline. We eat together, we work together and we live amongst each other in the dormitories and housing through the duration of this deployment. We will look back six months from now at the success of the 36th EAMXS, and we'll be able to attribute much of the success to the overall cohesion and morale of the unit."

As the Airmen of the 36th EAMXS grow as maintainers and as a unit during their deployment, the unit remains adamant in bringing the values that they have at Barksdale to their deployed location, upholding the maintenance standards that they set for themselves back home.

"We have high expectations," said Captain Eberle. "We expect excellence out of our Airmen and our aircraft, and in order to have both of those, we need to adhere to maintenance standards. We will work in a way that will reflect the motto of the 2nd Maintenance Group, our group back in Barksdale. 'Excellence is our standard and nothing else will suffice.'"

36th MXS AGE proves there's no airpower without ground power

by Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
36th Wing Public Affairs

11/5/2012 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- As exercises, evacuations and day-to-day operations keep the Andersen flightline busy, the Airmen of the 36th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment flight overcome a demanding work schedule and workload on a daily basis.

AGE provides support for the aircraft when it is on the ground. Maintenance units use AGE to conduct maintenance work on the aircraft and run aircraft systems when the it is parked on the flightline.

"It saves money and is more reliable to use our equipment to run and perform maintenance on aircraft systems than to use the aircraft's own multi-million dollar systems," said Master Sgt. Brian Cudnik, 36th MXS AGE flight chief. "If our systems go down, it's easier and costs less to fix or replace them."

With a total force of more than 50 Airmen assigned to maintain more than 700 pieces of equipment, AGE runs a shop that is on 24/7 operations, 365 days a year.

"We have about 30 Airmen assigned to our flight and we're currently getting tremendous support from Airmen deployed from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and Barksdale Air Force Base, La.," said Sergeant Cudnik.

Even though Andersen does not have a permanent aircraft unit, AGE Airmen are always on the go, catering to the maintenance equipment needs of deployed and transient aircraft, along with other units on the base.

"The reason why we have AGE here, despite the fact that we do not have a permanent aircraft unit, is that transient and deployed units need our equipment to launch out of here," said Sergeant Cudnik.

The AGE flight supports the bombers, fighters, Global Hawk Detachment, Air Mobility Command, the Marines, the Navy and other units that bring aircraft to the Andersen flightline. The flight also supports 36th Security Forces Squadron, 36th Munitions Squadron and other units on base in their equipment needs.

The workload in supporting all these units is divvied up into four sections within the AGE flight: production support section, bomber and Global Hawk section, wing section and War Reserve Materiel section.

Productions support provides the AGE maintainers all the vital equipment, tools and tech data they may need to work on the equipment. The section also runs the safety program and all other major programs that keep AGE operational.

The bomber and Global Hawk section support the expeditionary bomber units that rotate out of Andersen AFB and the Global Hawk Detachment by providing them with aircraft jacks, generators and other generalized equipment they need to maintain their aircraft.

"Our section has a large number of equipment that requires on-schedule maintenance," said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Tombre, 36th MXS AGE bomber and Global Hawk section noncommissioned officer in charge. "We also dispatch the equipment to the flightline and come out to do quick fixes as required. Right now, we have several airmen that are supporting the B-52 Stratofortresses out on the ramp."

The section also accepts all the AGE maintainers deployed with the bomber squadron rotation.

"The challenging part is that they are only here for a limited amount of time, and it takes time for them to get accustomed to the shop and our procedures," said Senior Airman Justin Mayo, 36th MXS AGE flight bomber and Global Hawk section journeyman. The important thing is finding the areas they are strong in and placing them in those areas. Usually, once people get acclimated, everything else goes smoothly."

The wing section supports the Air Mobility Command, tanker task force, the fighters and 36th Wing units that need to use available equipment.

"We cater to both flying and non-flying units, which make us busy," said Tech. Sgt. Dewey Riden 36th, MXS AGE flight wing section noncommissioned officer in charge. "It's not an easy workload, but we schedule and plan accordingly to make sure we can assist everyone."

Some of the aircraft the wing section supports have specialized equipment needs. In those cases, the aircraft unit brings their own maintenance crew and their specialized equipment. In such cases, Sergeant Riden takes this as a learning opportunity for his Airmen.

"The fighters bring their own people, especially when they need to utilize specialized equipment for maintenance," said Sergeant Riden. "Given the chance, I let the Airmen learn to operate or maintain them because even though specialized equipment has its quirks, they don't get to work on such equipment on a daily basis and it's a good learning opportunity."

The WRM section has all types of AGE in their section, but most of them are in storage. This is equipment that is ready for dispatch at a moment's notice to support operations and exercises.

"The Vast majority of equipment comes from WRM," said Tech. Sgt. Ben Peredo, 36th MXS AGE flight WRM section noncommissioned officer in charge. "We also support the Marine Aviation Training Relocation and major exercises like Cope North and Valiant Shield. It's all ready and available for their use."

Since everything is already stored and ready in the WRM section, if there's a shortage on any of the other sections, the WRM section is authorized to provide assistance.

With a multitude of units to support and a plethora of equipment to maintain, the Airmen accomplish their tasks and understand the importance of their role.

"Every day we have to hit the ground running," said Airman Mayo. "I learned, especially here, that if I don't do my job, I'm a weak link in the chain. There is an ongoing mission out there that we support each and every day. Numbers aside, we need to make sure that all the equipment works and that we get the equipment out there on time."

With the U.S. Department of Defense's focus shifting to the Asia-Pacific region and the Andersen flightline bustling with operational activity or exercises, AGE Airmen continue providing well-maintained ground equipment to users on the flightline and around base.

"This is a very unique base; its mission is ever-evolving," said Sergeant Cudnik. "We are the farthest reach of sovereign territory in the West; the farthest that U.S. aircraft can land without having to go through rigorous and time-consuming approval processes. That's why we're always ready. When these units arrive, our hard-working Airmen out on the floor will provide them with top-notch equipment to assist them in making the mission happen. I appreciate what our Airmen do, and they deserve more recognition than what I can give them."