Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Face of Defense: Champion Army Skeet Shooter Aims High

By Army Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks
3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment “The Old Guard”

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va, Dec. 4, 2013 – “I have to keep myself calm and focused when I am standing there with my shotgun waiting on that target to fly,” said Army Capt. Michael Marano, a world-class skeet and trap shooter.

 “The best feeling in the world is turning that clay disk into dust,” he said.

Marano, who serves as the ceremonies and special events officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), has enjoyed the sport of skeet and trap shooting since 2006, his sophomore year at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. His passion and dedication to the sport would later lead him to a first-place title at the 2013 World Skeet Championships.

Marano started shooting for sport because of an incident that sidelined him from his first love, football.

“I sustained a major injury to my shoulder and needed surgery,” he said. “I had to look for a less-impact sport so I joined the skeet and trap team.”

Marano found that he was good at shooting. He competed in many collegiate competitions and by his senior year he was named team captain by his coach and peers.

“I really enjoyed my time as a leader on the team,” Marano said. “We pushed each other to get better and to shoot more consistently.”

Marano received orders to Germany following his graduation from West Point. Unfortunately, he couldn’t bring his shotguns or compete. He didn’t go a day without thinking about the sport he loved during the three years he spent in Germany and his deployment to Afghanistan.

“It was pretty tough for me, but I knew that I would get back into the game when I got stateside,” Marano said.

His prayers were answered when he was assigned to The Old Guard in Arlington, Va.

“I was excited about the unit and my opportunity to start shooting again. I searched for different skeet and trap ranges in the area and I went as often as I could.”

Marano connected with a member of the U.S. Army Shotgun Team during one of his training sessions.

“We shot together very often so he knew what I could do. He invited me to join the five-man team to contend with the best.”

The USAST competes in military, national, international and Olympic shooting competitions every year. The team finished in the middle of the pack during the 2013 Armed Forces Skeet Shooting Competition at Camp Lejuene, N.C.

“We did OK, but I felt as though I was still getting warmed up. We kicked our training into high gear after the competition.”

All of Marano’s hard work paid off during the 2013 World Skeet Championship at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio. Marano placed first in the B Class category, shooting 438 out of 450 targets.

“The competition was tough, but my team helped me stay focused,” he said. “I felt right at home on the range shooting those targets.”

Marano considers it an honor to be a part of a team that represents the Army while also doing something he loves. He plans to continue shooting with the USAST as long as they will allow him.

“I am a very competitive guy. One great thing about this sport is that there is always something to learn.”

Wounded Warriors Get Halftime Salute in Hawaii

By Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Cynthia Clark
Defense Media Activity - Hawaii

HONOLULU, Dec. 4, 2013 – Wounded warriors were honored at Aloha Stadium here during a Nov. 30 football game between the University of Hawaii’s Warriors and the Black Knights from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Many dignitaries attended the event, including U.S. Army Pacific commander and West Point graduate, Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks.

The game was special for several reasons, Brooks said.

“First, the military is being appreciated. I think that’s the most important thing,” Brooks said. “Then, especially, those who have taken on wounds while serving our nation. It’s important to recognize there’s an extra burden that they carry and also to let them know they’re not alone.”

The festivities began before the game with a ceremony honoring Hawaii’s Outstanding Military Spouses for 2013. The wounded warriors and active-duty service members were honored at halftime.

The halftime program kicked off with the U.S. Pacific Command’s Joint Service Color Guard leading soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division, Marines from the Combat Logistics Battalion III from Marine Corps Base Hawaii, sailors from the guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin and airmen from Pacific Air Forces, both stationed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The ceremony also included U.S. Coast Guard members from the 14th Coast Guard District.

One of the wounded warriors, information systems technician Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Christian Pollock, served two tours in Iraq, one tour in Afghanistan and one tour in the Arabian Gulf. Pollock currently is stationed here with U.S. Pacific Command.

“I think it’s very important to bring light to the situation,” Pollock said. “People come back who have physical and mental problems, so we need to make sure we take care of our guys when they get back.”

When asked how it felt to be honored by such a large group of people, Pollock responded, “It always feels good when you’re appreciated for your hard work.”

After halftime the Black Knights continued to give their all, but at game’s end they were outscored by the Warriors, 49-42.

March Airmen demonstrate imagination, flexibility, vision

by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

12/4/2013 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- The 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander and command chief visited with Team Fairchild Airmen serving at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., Nov. 22, to meet and motivate Airmen administratively attached to Fairchild.

Col. Brian Newberry and Chief Master Sgt. Wendy Hansen met with 912th Air Refueling Squadron Airmen from maintenance, crew communications, intelligence and operations during their visit.

"It was a privilege meeting with Airmen from the 912th ARS," said Newberry, who, as the 92nd ARW commander, is also the 912th ARS administrative commander. "While we at Fairchild have strengthened relationships with our Air National Guard partners, the 912th ARS have done the same using passion and professionalism to continually evolve their association with their Reserve partners."

This association is also referred to as Total Force Enterprise, a concept integrating active duty Airmen with their Guard and Reserve counterparts. The goal of TFE is to enhance the Air Force's ability to conduct its mission through the sharing of resources, to include aircraft, crews, maintenance, and support, between active duty and the air reserve component.

The 912th ARS is a sister unit of the active duty 92nd and 93rd Air Refueling Squadrons assigned to the 92nd ARW here. Much like its family ties at Fairchild, the 912th operates the KC-135 Stratotanker conducting aerial refueling and other air mobility missions. However, unlike its sister squadrons, aircrew only represent 20 percent of the 912th ARS. The remaining portion of the squadron is composed of elements and career fields that would normally reside in an aircraft maintenance squadron, operations support squadron, aeromedical and dental squadron, wing staff agencies, force support squadron and logistics readiness squadron.

"Despite being two states away, the men and women of the 912th know they are part of Team Fairchild," said Lt. Col. Scott Minton, the 912th ARS commander. "The support we receive from every squadron assigned to the 92nd ARW only proves we are able to execute the mission and take care of people on a global scale."

World War II, Vietnam, the Cold War and the Gulf Wars are but a few combat operations the 912th has seen during its tenure, moving about the country to support worldwide aerial refueling missions across the decades. The squadron was inactivated at Grand Forks AFB, N.D., in 2009, following a base realignment and closure commission action directing the transition of Grand Forks from an air refueling mission to an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft mission with the RQ-4 Global Hawk.

In 2010, the 912th was reactivated at March ARB as an Active Association organization assigned to an Air Force Reserve Command flying unit. As part of the 452nd Air Mobility Wing at March, the 912th is an active duty squadron with Fairchild family ties.

"March Airmen demonstrate incredible imagination, flexibility and vision," Newberry said. "Taken together, they soar as a team, offloading 20 percent more fuel than previous years. In my mind, they are a benchmark as an Association, and I salute them for their commitment to excellence."

Africom Helps Regional Militaries Fight HIV/AIDS

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2013 – U.S. Africa Command is making headway in helping militaries across Africa confront the HIV/AIDS epidemic through a program focused on prevention, care and treatment, a senior command official reported today.

“The whole focus is to reduce the incidence of HIV in foreign militaries,” Mike Hrshchyshn, chief of humanitarian and health activities for Africom’s Security Cooperation Programs directorate, said during a web chat commemorating World AIDS Day earlier this week.

The office oversees the strategic direction of the Defense Department’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Program in Africa. Of more than 70 nations that participate in the DOD program, 45 are in Africom’s area of operations, Hrshchyshn reported.

HIV and AIDS represent a potential threat to Africa’s regional security and stability, he said. The disease weakens national governments and economies and erodes the readiness of their militaries.

That degrades their effectiveness, not just within their own countries, but also in their ability to provide peacekeeping forces that support regional stability, he explained.

“Without militaries that are able to discharge their missions, … security starts to degrade,” Hrshchyshn said. “And not only does it have an impact on that specific country but also on a regional basis, beyond their borders.”

This vulnerability could provide opportunities for others to exploit in destabilizing ways, he said.

Since Africom’s standup five years ago, it has focused heavily on regional outreach through its Partner Military HIV/AIDS Program. The program’s goal is to help regional militaries reduce the incidence of HIV and AIDS within their ranks.

The effort, provided with strong support from the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego working in lock-step with embassy country teams, has been highly successful in increasing awareness about HIV/AIDS and ways to prevent it, Hrshchyshn reported.

The effort has reached nearly a half-million troops and their family members with educational programs about prevention and treatment, provided about 4,000 healthcare workers trained in HIV/AIDS care and treatment, and provided support to about 75,000 people living with the disease.

But Hrshchyshn said the impact goes far deeper, with every person who receives education and training amplifying the message through their daily personal and professional interactions. “They become force multipliers in reducing the transmission of HIV/AIDS,” he said.

Recognition of the consequences of the disease -- and successes in confronting it -- makes nations eager to work together to confront it, he noted. Partner nations share state-of-the-art developments regarding HIV and AIDS during biennial conferences sponsored by DOD’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Program. The most recent one, hosted by Mozambique in 2012, attracted representatives of 70-plus militaries from around the world. “That reflects the large global interest,” Hrshchyshn said.

That outreach is bearing fruit. “We have made considerable progress,” Hrshchyshn said. He noted one country that was losing two to three soldiers a day to AIDS at the program’s inception. Today, that figure has dropped to about one loss every 10 days.

“That gives you an idea of how dramatic the impact [has been] in reducing mortality,” he said. “The impacts have been considerable, across the board.”

Although the extent of the problem may be diminishing, Hrshchyshn said it’s too soon for Africom to declare success. “This is an area of focus we won’t take our eyes off of,” he said. “It will take a while, but I think we are on a solid path.”

As the United States assists African partner nations, its ultimate goal is “to build up the capacity and capability of our partners so they can take this issue on,” he said.

“They are best positioned in terms of sustainability,” he said. “So it is important that, whether it is on the military side or the civilian side, that they have been able to take the tools, the techniques, the technical assistance that we have provided [and] to mold that to their own cultural environment and then to … effectively design services to their citizens.”

Those efforts will pay off through “ready, able, healthy and well-trained African militaries that can do their part on the continent to provide a safer and secure environment” to support peacekeeping efforts and to reduce the likelihood of conflict, he said.

Air travel becomes easier for U.S. service members

by Airman 1st Class William Johnson
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

12/4/2013 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del -- The Transportation Safety Administration is making air travel easier for military members and their families with new updates to their security procedures.

The TSA program, called TSA Pre-Check, expedites screening procedures for active-duty, reserve and Coast Guard service members. Once verified as an active-duty service member, TSA Pre-Check participants will receive expedited security screening such as keeping on their shoes, belt, and light jacket, and being able to leave laptops and 3-1-1 compliant liquids in their carry-on bags.

Lisa Furbstein, TSA public affairs manager, said that the TSA Pre-Check program will expedite military members through screening to allow for safer and easier travel. There are more than 100 airports using TSA Pre-Check and the new procedures will go into effect Dec. 20, 2013.

"Members in the Pre-Check program have volunteered more personal information about themselves," said Furbstein. "This allows us at TSA to focus greater attention on people we know less about, therefore enhancing security."

U.S. service members can use their Department of Defense identification number, found on the back of their common access card, as the known traveler number when making reservations through the Defense Travel System, Commercial Travel Office/Travel Management Center or when booking leisure travel through airline or travel websites.

Once at the airport, military members should present a valid CAC ID card along with their boarding pass to the TSA travel document checker at the TSA Pre-Check lane. Military members do not need to be in uniform or on official travel to take advantage of the program. Family members under the age of 12 traveling with their dependent may also take advantage of the program. Presently, dependents over the age of 12 are not eligible for the program.