Monday, April 15, 2013

Dyess readiness tested, proven

by Airman 1st Class Damon Kasberg
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

4/15/2013 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Through rain, hail, heat and high winds, Airmen from throughout the 7th Bomb Wing tirelessly engaged in an Operational Readiness Exercise at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, April 8-11.

An ORE is one of many realistic exercises designed to test a base's ability to deploy at a moment's notice.

"It's a wing-wide inspection that involves almost every unit on base," said Master Sgt. Corey Riley, 7th Bomb Wing Plans and Programs. "This is a way to see if the wing is ready for contingency operations."

The first two days of the exercise were conducted as a Phase I exercise and the last two as a Phase II exercise.

"Phase one is all about getting the personnel and cargo to the deployed location," Riley said. "In Phase two, the scenario is that we've been at the deployed location for 'X' amount of days or months. The main difference is during phase one we see if we can get to base 'X' and during phase two we test our ability to survive and operate in a contested environment."

Once the exercise kicked into Phase II, Airmen traveled to Ray Rangel Air Base, Dyess' mock deployment location, where Airmen were tested on their ability to function in a deployed environment.

"For us, the purpose of this training was to act as a deployed medical facility," said Maj. Andrew Allen, 7th Aerospace Medicine Squadron. "We're practicing for a deployment where we have to go to an austere location and set up a few small tents to take care of an expeditionary force. When the base is attacked, we perform our alarm black or alarm red procedures, then we prepare for our casualties to come in. Once they've come in, we train on how to treat battle casualties."

While at Ray Rangel, Airmen faced many challenges in the form of injects, which are scenarios that can vary from unexploded ordinances to opposition forces attacking the base.

"There've been a variety of injects," said Senior Airman Tory Lyde, 7th Medical Operations Squadron. "We saw shrapnel in a sucking chest wound, allergic reaction to food, shrapnel to the lower legs, heat exhaustion, labor and delivery. We also had a mass casualty exercise, which was designed to overwhelm our facility and teach us how to prioritize and treat the most critical wounds first."

This kind of training gives new Airmen the opportunity to learn from seasoned servicemembers. It also sharpens skills that are implemented in a deployed environment and helps train Airmen to support and accomplish the Dyess mission which is to "provide dominant air power and combat support to combatant and joint force commanders... anytime, and anywhere!"

"I've learned quite a bit from my NCOs," said Airman 1st Class Zachary Shives, 7th Security Forces Squadron. "Even though I've had training, those guys have been in real-world situations. A lot of the things we're doing here now, they're doing overseas. It's good to see it firsthand, because we'll be able to take it overseas with us."

Exercises such as these not only prepare Airmen for deployments, but also prepares them for the Operational Readiness Inspection next year.

"A successful inspection and culture of compliance was one of my top priorities when I took command," said Col. Glen VanHerck, 7th Bomb Wing commander. "This exercise was a successful step forward in preparation for next year's ORI as well as providing our Airmen valuable training and experience for any contingency operation."

AFNORTH commander chooses new command chief

by Mary McHale
AFNORTH Public Affairs

4/11/2013 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region and 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern) commander has chosen the command chief master sergeant from the 113th Wing, District of Columbia Air National Guard to be the next CONR-1 AF (AFNORTH) command chief.

Lt. Gen. William Etter chose Chief Master Sgt. Ronald Anderson Jr. who entered the Air Force in 1987. The chief has a background in vehicle and aircraft maintenance, recruiting and several assignments throughout the National Guard Bureau.

"The opportunity to serve the men and women of CONR-1st Air Force is incredibly humbling," Anderson said. "I am honored and looking forward to not only the opportunity to work at the numbered Air Force level, but more importantly to remain engaged in the defense of the homeland. Like my fellow 113th Wing Capital Guardians who have scrambled over 4000 times since 9-11, I understand the incredible responsibility of our no-fail mission. I will bring that steadfast mission focus to my new position."

As the command chief, Anderson's responsibilities will include advising the CONR-1 AF (AFNORTH) commander on matters regarding the health, morale and welfare of assigned enlisted personnel and their families. First Air Force is one of three numbered air forces assigned to Air Combat Command and has the responsibility of ensuring the air sovereignty and air defense of the continental United States (CONUS). As the CONUS geographical component of NORAD, it provides airspace surveillance and control and directs all air sovereignty activities for the continental United States.

"Given the outstanding caliber of applicants, this selection proved to be a challenging decision," said Etter. "But in the end, Chief Anderson is the right person and I very much look forward to working with this exemplary chief."

131st Bomb Wing Chaplain receives Samuel Stone Award

by Staff Sgt. Traci-lyn Payne
131st Bomb Wing Public Affairs

4/11/2013 - WHITEMAN AFB, Mo -- Chaplain Lt. Col. Michael T. Butler, 131st Bomb Wing, was recently awarded the 2012 Samuel Stone Award, recognizing him as the Chaplain of the Year for the Air National Guard.

"The Missouri National Guard is proud of Lt. Col. Butler and his service as chaplain with the 131st Bomb Wing," said Maj. Gen. Steve Danner, adjutant general of Missouri. "Chaplains have a key role in our warrior support and resiliency programs, which ensure our Soldiers and Airmen are able to complete their missions. To have Lt. Col. Butler recognized on the national level is a testament not only to his hard work, but to the dedication and professionalism of all of our chaplains."

The Samuel Stone Award is named for the late Chaplain Samuel Stone, the first recorded chaplain to serve in the militia of colonial America. The annual winner is chosen based on training accomplishments or contributions to mission support, exhibition of and enrollment in off-duty programs dedicated to professional self-improvement.

"This award is an impressive accomplishment that is so richly deserved," said Col. Michael J. Francis, 131st Bomb Wing commander. "Chaplain Butler's consistent passion and dedication to not only the mission, but the men and women he serves with, truly epitomizes the ideal Citizen-Airman."

Currently, Butler is deployed to the Transit Center at Manas AFB, Kyrgyzstan, serving as the wing chaplain. He volunteered for the 6-month deployment, which is a follow-on to his 13-month volunteer deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, as the wing chaplain and Catholic priest.

"I believe in the end, this award recognizes the 131st Bomb Wing's outstanding leadership and chapel team, not just myself as an individual," said Butler.

Ordained into the priesthood in 1989, Butler received his commission as a Catholic chaplain with the 131st Bomb Wing in 1991. In 2008, he joined the active-duty Air Force as the deputy wing chaplain, and later wing chaplain, at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. In 2010, he rejoined the 131st Bomb Wing where he serves on extended active duty.
"I love being a priest and I certainly am honored and privileged to be member of the Missouri Air National Guard," said Butler. "That is truly the best award I have received."

After his deployment, Chaplain Butler plans to return to the Archdiocese of St. Louis, where he is a priest, and to continue as a chaplain for the 131st at Whiteman.

180th FW serves Toledo's homeless

by Senior Airman William Winston
Public Affairs

4/14/2013 - Toledo, Ohio -- Volunteers from the 180th Logistics Readiness Squadron served dinner to more than 200 of Toledo's homeless on Feb. 25 at the Cherry Street Mission.

The 180th LRS increased the visibility of the Ohio Air National Guard in the Toledo area by working with the Cherry Street Mission Ministries to provide coats and meals for the homeless.

Established in 1947, the Cherry Street Mission Ministries provides services to help the less fortunate in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. This organization also supports two local homeless shelters: the Cherry Street Mission, a men's shelter, and the Sparrow's Nest, a females' shelter.

In November, the 180th LRS kicked off their volunteer efforts at Cherry Street Mission with a coat drive that replaced their annual holiday gift exchange. "At the end of the year we always do a gift exchange and people don't know what to get," said Senior
Master Sgt. Joy Chittum, 180th Fight Wing distribution flight supervisor.

Also, "everyone in LRS was receptive to the idea of the coat drive because it was for a good cause," said Senior Master Sgt. Annie Menchaca-Bratton, a Toledo native, and member of 180th HazMat Pharmacy. "Not to mention, it was the Christmas season."

"I had expected people to donate only a few coats, but every time I turned around the bin was full," said Chittum. "It was pretty amazing delivering the coats because the Cherry Street staff was so overwhelmed and amazed by the number of coats we gave. Seeing that made us feel good about what we were doing."

"LRS donated approximately 75 coats to Cherry Street Mission," said Lt. Col. Frank Dailey, 180th FW LRS commander.

Having walked away with good feelings, the members of the 180th LRS decided to donate their time again at Cherry Street Mission in February, during a week of annual training.

"We went to Cherry Street Monday, Tuesday and Thursday," said Chittum. "We fed the homeless two of the nights, and we did a non-perishable food drive on the last day."

When told they could be feeding up to 300 people, Menchaca-Bratton said, she felt overwhelmed initially. However, things went smoothly once they got to Cherry Street because of the good planning and coordination by leadership at LRS.

Furthermore, Menchaca-Bratton said, it was remarkable to witness the volunteers bringing food out to the women at the Sparrow's Nest, almost restaurant style. This moment was all about putting service before self, one of the Air Force core values. Those women were so appreciative of how our service made them feel special.

"When Rosilyn Goodwin, director of Stewardship Services at Cherry Street, first came out to give the 180th FW was in the area," said Chittum. "I think it is important to get out in the community to let them know we are here."

"The 180 FW has a proud history of supporting our local community through numerous events, volunteerism and donations," said Col. Steve Nordhaus, 180th FW commander. "We are committed to protecting and serving our nation at home and abroad."

LRS's community service work has inspired other squadrons at the 180th FW to get involved at Cherry Street Mission.

"The 180th must have had a huge impact on Cherry Street and Sparrow's Nest because they want us to come back," said Menchaca- Bratton. "Volunteering at Cherry Street Mission was something I had always wanted to do, and now it is something that I will continue to do."

Face of Defense: Army Trumpeter ‘Swings’ With Salvadorans

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mark Wyatt
U.S. Army South

SONSONATE, El Salvador, April 15, 2013 – Music provides many things to many cultures. It is important everywhere. But here in El Salvador, music is big. Really big.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
New Hampshire Army National Guard Warrant Officer Sean Pinsonneault, the Joint Task Force Jaguar base operations officer in charge, performs during an evening concert with the Salvadoran Military District Six Band in Sonsonate, El Salvador, April 11, 2013. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Wyatt

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
So, for a soldier from the New Hampshire Army National Guard, an opportunity to perform with the Salvadoran army band while here on a training mission was a big deal.
“I was invited to rehearse and perform with the Military District Six Band here on base,” said Army Warrant Officer Sean Pinsonneault, the Joint Task Force Jaguar Base operations officer in charge. “They are putting on a concert here for soldiers participating in Beyond the Horizon-El Salvador, and invited me to perform alongside their talented musicians.”

According to his Salvadoran counterpart, Pinsonneault was given an opportunity that has never happened before.

“It was a pleasure because it's the first time someone has joined us, to carry forward the art of music,” said Salvadoran army 1st Lt. Fabricio Hernandez.

Being able to read music is a universal language, Pinsonneault said.

“I speak very little Spanish, and they speak very little English. The beauty of music is that we speak a universal language,” said Pinsonneault. “I didn’t need to understand what the conductor was saying in Spanish, I knew what he meant just by his actions and by what the musicians next to me were playing, so I didn’t actually need to understand Spanish, I could understand his music.”

The Salvadoran conductor was grateful for the opportunity.

“We enjoyed it. We've never had such an experience,” Hernandez said. “We enjoyed the experience we've had with each other.”

Pinsonneault said he appreciated the opportunity to play with the Salvadoran military musicians.

“I was honored,” Pinsonneault said. “I was concerned about not playing my instrument for three months while assigned here, but having a band that I can actually practice with is amazing. So when they asked me to join them, I was honored to sit in with them.”

Pinsonneault and other U.S. service members are here as part of Beyond the Horizon-El Salvador 2013, an annual humanitarian and civil-assistance exercise. The exercise provides construction and medical assistance to partner nations throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean.

While in El Salvador, active duty, National Guard and Reserve service members will conduct civil-military operations, including humanitarian civic assistance and medical, dental and engineering support, and participate in cultural exchanges.

A trumpeter himself, Pinsonneault said he was impressed by the Salvadoran trumpet players.

“Their trumpet players are amazing,” he said. “They are really good. It was a little intimidating sitting next to them because of how good they play.”

A tradition with concert bands, the feature performance is a way to recognize talented musicians.

“The conductor of the band wanted me to play a solo on a song I didn’t know very well,” Pinsonneault said. “I tried to practice it, but I didn’t really know the song and didn’t have much time to practice it, so the conductor graciously chose a song I knew well, ‘In the Mood.’”

Later that night, the band performed for more than 150 Salvadoran and U.S. personnel at a local bazaar. The bazaar was an opportunity for the first rotation of BTH soldiers to experience some Salvadoran culture mixed in with American music.

“While U.S. soldiers were buying souvenirs at the bazaar, the Salvadorans chose American music to make us feel more at home while here building schools and providing medical and dental care to local communities alongside our Salvadoran partners,” Pinsonneault said.

The American military trumpet player said he would like to play with the Salvadorans again.

“I hope I get the opportunity to come back and perform again with their talented musicians,” Pinsonneault said. “I would really like to bring my [Army] band down here and have a cultural exchange with the bands. I think that it would be beneficial to my band and beneficial to the Salvadorans as well.”

Cyber Tops Intel Community’s 2013 Global Threat Assessment

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 15, 2013 – National security threats are more diverse, interconnected and viral than at any time in history, the director of national intelligence said last week in a statement for the record delivered to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

“This year, in content and organization, this statement illustrates how quickly and radically the world and our threat environments are changing,” James R. Clapper said in the statement’s introduction.

At the top of the U.S. intelligence community’s 2013 assessment of global threats is cyber, followed by terrorism and transnational organized crime, weapons of mass destruction proliferation, counterintelligence and space activities, insecurity and competition for natural resources, health and pandemic threats, and mass atrocities.

“This environment is demanding reevaluations of the way we do business, expanding our analytic envelope and altering the vocabulary of intelligence,” Clapper said in his statement.

The 30-page statement, based on information complete as of March 7, also lists threats in terms of regions such as the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, East and South Asia, Russia and Eurasia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe.

As the top-listed global threat, cyber is discussed in terms of increasing risk to U.S. critical infrastructure, the erosion of U.S. economic and national security, information control and Internet governance, and other areas.

“We judge that there is a remote chance of a major cyberattack against U.S. critical infrastructure systems during the next two years that would result in long-term, wide-scale disruption of services such as a regional power outage,” Clapper stated.

The technical expertise and operational sophistication needed for such an attack is out of reach for most actors, he added, and “advanced cyber actors like Russia and China are unlikely to launch such a devastating attack against the United States outside of a military conflict or crisis that they believe threatens their vital interests.”

But, he stated, isolated state or nonstate actors might deploy less sophisticated cyberattacks as a form of retaliation or provocation.

In terms of eroding U.S. economic and national security, the director said in his statement: “We assess that highly networked business practices and information technology are providing opportunities for foreign intelligence and security services, trusted insiders, hackers and others to target and collect sensitive U.S. national security and economic data.”

Such activities are allowing adversaries to close the technological gap between the U.S. military and their own, he added, slowly neutralizing a key U.S. advantage internationally.

In the area of online information control, he said, some countries, including Russia, China and Iran, focus on cyber influence and the risk that Internet content might contribute to political instability. The U.S. focus is on cyber security and the risks to network and system reliability and integrity.

This fundamental difference in defining cyber threats was a core part of discussions as countries negotiated a global telecommunications treaty in Dubai in December, Clapper said.

“The contentious new text that resulted led many countries, including the United States, not to sign the treaty because of its language on network security, spam control and expansion of the U.N.’s role in Internet governance,” the director added.

Negotiations showed that such disagreements will be long-running challenges in bilateral and multilateral engagements, he said.

“We track cyber developments among nonstate actors, including terrorist groups, hacktivists and cyber criminals,” Clapper noted, adding, “We have seen indications that some terrorist organizations have heightened interest in developing offensive cyber capabilities, but they will probably be constrained by inherent resource and organizational limitations and competing priorities.”

In Clapper’s statement to Congress, he said terrorism is divided into subcategories that include the evolving homeland threat landscape, the global jihadist threat overseas and its affiliates, allies and sympathizers in Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah.

Terrorist threats, the director observed, are in transition as the global jihadist movement becomes increasingly decentralized.

“The Arab Spring has generated a spike in threats to U.S. interests in the region that likely will endure until political upheaval stabilizes and security forces regain their capabilities,” Clapper said.

The nation also faces uncertainty about potential threats from Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah, which see the United States and Israel as their principal enemies.

For al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, attacks on U.S. soil will remain part of its transnational strategy and the group continues to adjust its tactics, techniques and procedures for targeting the West, Clapper said.
The intelligence community assesses that al-Qaida-inspired homegrown violent extremists will continue to be involved in fewer than 10 domestic plots per year and will be motivated by global jihadist propaganda to engage in violent action, he added.

For core al-Qaida, the director said, “senior personnel losses in 2012, amplifying losses and setbacks since 2008, have degraded that organization to a point that the group is probably unable to carry out complex, large-scale attacks in the West … [but] its leaders will not abandon the aspiration to attack inside the United States.”

Iran, North Korea and Syria figure prominently in the statement’s discussion of weapons of mass destruction.
“We assess Iran is developing nuclear capabilities to enhance its security, prestige and regional influence and give it the ability to develop nuclear weapons, should a decision be made to do so,” Clapper said.

“We do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons,” he added.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs pose a serious threat to the United States and to the security environment in East Asia, a region with some of the world’s largest populations, militaries and economies, the director said.

“North Korea’s export of ballistic missiles and associated materials to several countries, including Iran and Syria, and its assistance to Syria’s construction of a nuclear reactor, destroyed in 2007, illustrate the reach of its proliferation activities,” Clapper said.

“… Although we assess with low confidence that the North would only attempt to use nuclear weapons against U.S. forces or allies to preserve the Kim [Jong Un] regime,” he added, “we do not know what would constitute, from the North’s perspective, crossing that threshold.”

Syria has an active chemical warfare program and maintains a stockpile of sulfur mustard, sarin and the nerve agent VX. The intelligence community assesses that Syria has a stockpile of missiles, aerial bombs and possibly artillery rockets that can be used to deliver these agents, the director said.

“Syria’s overall CW program is large, complex and geographically dispersed, with sites for storage, production and preparation,” Clapper said.

“This advanced CW program has the potential to inflict mass casualties,” he added, “and we assess that an increasingly beleaguered regime, having found its escalation of violence through conventional means inadequate, might be prepared to use CW against the Syrian people.”

Some elements of Syria’s longstanding biological warfare program may have advanced beyond the research and development stage and may be capable of limited agent production, the director said.

Syria is not known to have successfully weaponized biological agents in an effective delivery system, he added, but it has conventional and chemical weapon systems that could be modified for biological agent delivery.

In this threat environment, Clapper said, “… The intelligence community must continue to promote collaboration among experts in every field, from the political and social sciences to natural sciences, medicine, military issues and space.”

He added: “Collectors and analysts need vision across disciplines to understand how and why developments -- and both state and unaffiliated actors -- can spark sudden changes with international implications.”

192nd Fighter Wing Fights the 'Aggressors' at Red Flag

by Master Sgt. Carlos J. Claudio
192FW Public Affairs

4/12/2013 - Langley Air Force Base, Va. -- The 192nd Fighter Wing pilots and maintainers recently put their skill and capabilities to the test. 42 members of the 192nd traveled with the 27th Fighter Squadron to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada to participate in a three-week, large-force exercise known as Red Flag.

"Red Flag is a unique training opportunity that is intended to prepare our pilots to survive the first few days of combat in a major theater war," said Lt. Col. McAtee, pilot participant and 192nd Maintenance Squadron Commander. "Red Flag brings together a myriad of assets from the blue air side (or coalition forces) and the red air side (also known as "aggressors") to create giant, real life war games that involve many different aircraft types performing many different missions, all of which are choreographed to achieve specifics affects that emulate large-scale combat."

Red Flag missions were conducted during daylight hours and at night, and contained up to 100 aircraft, fighting to win control of the air space and accomplish their missions. The U.S. Navy, Marines and Britain's Royal Air Force also participated. Each mission was fought against approximately 40 to 50 enemy aircraft. These "Aggressors" are Nellis AFB permanent staff pilots who fly in camouflage-painted F-16s and F-15Cs to look like a threat-type aircraft. The mission of the Virginia Air National Guard team was to protect the blue forces from these aggressors and establish "air dominance" with their F-22 Raptors.

"We were responsible for protecting all of the airplanes out there so they were able to do their mission," explained McAtee. "Whether the airplanes were finding high-value targets, bombing pre-planned targets, finding mobile SCUD launchers, or conducting intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, we were responsible to make sure the aggressors didn't shoot any of them." McAtee said the F-22s successfully established dominance over the aggressors enabled the blue air to conduct their missions.

This is McAtee's fifth Red Flag exercise and although they don't use real bombs, he says a lot has evolved. Today's' modern aircraft and technology make aerial combat training extremely realistic with the use of training emitters and sensors.

"With the advent of data links and advance sensors on our airplanes, we have the ability to keep global situational awareness of what is going on around us and it's a huge advantage," McAtee said, "because the enemy aircraft don't have nearly this much awareness."

McAtee flew nighttime missions and put in some long days while he was there. The missions were complicated and usually involved an entire day of planning preceding each sortie. "Everyone gave it their all to launch and fly these missions. From the flight line and back shop maintainers, to the ammo, weapons and support personnel- it was a total team effort."

Aircraft maintainers in the low observables paint section made sure the aircraft were ready to fly.

"We tailored our swing shift around the flying schedule, so when the aircraft landed during my shift, it was my job along with two other active duty air force airmen to go out and perform OMLS (outer mold line) inspections of all the jets," said Master Sgt. David Buckley, 192nd FW maintenance squadron. "You're looking for any outward damage to the outside of the aircraft and to the coatings."

Master Sgt. David Dehart was the maintenance squadron non-commissioned officer in charge. This was his fourth time at Red Flag.

"As the maintenance squadron NCOIC (non-commissioned officer in charge), I coordinated with fabrication, accessories, fuels, NDI (non-destructive inspection), low observables, egress and other shops, to keep the jets flying."

The Virginia Air National Guard has flown the F-22 aircraft in Red Flag exercises since 2007.

Hagel Eliminates Distinguished Warfare Medal

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 15, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has eliminated the Distinguished Warfare Medal, DOD officials announced today.

Instead, the military will recognize service members who directly affect combat operations without being present through distinguishing devices that will be affixed to already existing awards.

Soon after being sworn in as defense secretary Feb. 27, 2013, Hagel asked Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to lead a review of the medal.

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the concurrence of the service secretaries, have recommended the creation of a new distinguishing device that can be affixed to existing medals to recognize the extraordinary actions of this small number of men and women,” Hagel said in a written release.

“I agree with the Joint Chiefs’ findings, and have directed the creation of a distinguishing device instead of a separate medal,” Hagel said in the release.

Hagel added: “The servicemen and women who operate and support our remotely piloted aircraft, operate in cyber, and others are critical to our military’s mission of safeguarding the nation.”

The distinguishing devices will serve to recognize these service members’ achievements, he said.

The undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness will develop the award criteria in close coordination with the services and the Joint Staff, officials said.

DOD announced the creation of the Distinguished Warfare Medal Feb. 13, 2013.

“I’ve always felt -- having seen the great work that they do, day-in and day-out -- that those who performed in an outstanding manner should be recognized,” then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said during a news conference announcing the medal.

“Unfortunately,” Panetta added, “medals that they otherwise might be eligible for simply did not recognize that kind of contribution.”

Members of veterans’ service organizations and others objected to the Distinguished Warfare Medal, officials said. The medal’s order of precedence was to be just below the Distinguished Flying Cross and just above the Bronze Star. Some commentators objected that it would rank higher than the Purple Heart -- awarded to those wounded or killed in action.

“When I came into office, concerns were raised to me about the Distinguished Warfare Medal’s order of precedence by veterans’ organizations, members of Congress and other stakeholders whose views are valued by this department’s leadership,” Hagel said.

The distinguishing devices can be affixed to awards at different levels, so, once written, the criteria for the awards must reflect that, officials said. For example, the criteria for affixing a device to an Army Commendation Medal would be different than those for a Meritorious Service Medal -- a higher award.

Laughlin XLer earns NCO of the Year award

by Airman 1st Class John D. Partlow
47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

4/12/2013 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Tech. Sgt. Mitchell Valentine, 47th Operations Support Squadron NCO in charge of weather operations, earned the NCO of the Year award out of all weather operators in the Air Force.

The purpose of the award is to acknowledge Air Force military and civilian individuals and units for exceptional performance in the line of duty.

"I'm really excited I won the award," said Valentine. "I think this reflects well on the shop and the base as a whole."

Valentine, a native of Atlanta, Mich., has served in the Air Force for 12 years and has spent the last eight years in weather operations.

Valentine says the best part of his job as a weather operator is working with student pilots.

"Interacting with the student pilots lets you know how important your job can be," said Valentine. "These pilots usually have very little experience, so predicting the right weather for their flight is very important."

Tech. Sgt. Brian Aragon, 47th OSS NCOIC of weather systems and one of Valentine's coworkers, said the award could not have gone to a more deserving person.

"He's a hard charger," said Aragon. "Many things that were done here couldn't have been accomplished without him. In the short time he's been here, I've learned a lot from him."

One of Valentine's accomplishments was his creation of the weather page on Laughlin's official website to deliver accurate and up-to-date weather information to Team XL and the Del Rio community.

Valentine originally joined the Air Force for its educational benefits, but now plans to make the Air Force a life-long career.

As far as winning the award, Valentine credits the work to his coworkers and fellow Airmen.

"The shop has done all of the work behind this award," said Valentine. "I've had a lot of hard-workers around me and some great mentors."

Two Laughlin controllers named "Best in Command"

by 2nd Lt. Evan M. Ross
47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

4/12/2013 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Two air traffic controllers from Laughlin's 47th Operations Support Squadron earned Best in Command accolades from Air Education and Training Command for 2012.

Tech. Sgt. Donald Dalrymple, 47th OSS NCO in charge of air traffic control training, was named the best ATC trainer in AETC, and Staff Sgt. Benjamin Murphy, 47th OSS ATC watch supervisor, was named the best ATC of the year in AETC.

Both were lauded by their supervisors who submitted the paperwork for these men to be awarded.

According to his supervisors, Murphy, a former John Levitow Award recipient from Airman Leadership School, excels in more ways than just his job duties. He finished his associate's degree from the Community College of the Air Force recently with a grade point average of 3.9 and says that he plans to begin his bachelor's degree soon.

Murphy also, along with several other controllers, consistently embodies the Air Force's second core value by volunteering in the community and helping the needy.

The command singled Murphy out for his excellence in his job duties. Over the last year, Murphy coordinated and helped bring a safe conclusion to three emergencies requiring cooperation with local law enforcement agencies and aircraft in Laughlin's airspace.

Much like Murphy, Dalrymple has also been recognized by his supervisors and AETC for his excellence.

In his duties as NCOIC of ATC training, he has ushered in the lowest withdrawal rate from ATC training in AETC. The quality of training that Laughlin controllers receive allows more student controllers to get to Air Force standards than any other AETC base, which saves the Air Force money in additional training and reclassification of airmen.

During Laughlin's most recent Consolidated Unit Inspection, Dalrymple earned the title of "AETC benchmark" for ATC trainers due to his tireless efforts and adherence to standards.

His excellence in training also extends beyond ATC duties, however, as he also created his squadron's self-aid and buddy care medical training and tracking programs while supervising the training and qualifications for more than 90 airmen.

Dalrymple and Murphy were both quick to give the credit for these achievements to their coworkers instead of taking it for themselves.

"The team as a whole is responsible for everything we've been able to accomplish to this point," said Dalrymple. "The people I work with are great at their jobs, which makes my job a lot easier."

Chief Master Sgt. Howard Teesdale, chief of ATC, was quicker to give credit where credit was due.

"Both of these men are exactly what you want as a supervisor," said Teesdale. "They're excellent at their jobs, excellent role models for our younger men and women and truly embody all of our core values."