Wednesday, January 08, 2014

New Law Brings Changes to Uniform Code of Military Justice

By David Vergun
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2014 – The National Defense Authorization Act passed last month requires sweeping changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, particularly in cases of rape and sexual assault.

“These are the most changes to the Manual for Courts-Martial that we’ve seen since a full committee studied it decades ago,” said Lt. Col. John L. Kiel Jr., the policy branch chief at the Army’s Criminal Law Division in the Office of the Judge Advocate General.

Key provisions of the UCMJ that were rewritten under the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2014 -- signed Dec. 26, 2013, by President Barack Obama -- are Articles 32, 60, 120 and 125.

Article 32

The law now requires the services to have judge advocates serve as Article 32 investigating officers. Previously, the Army was the only service in which judge advocates routinely did not serve as Article 32 investigating officers.

Article 32 hearings -- roughly equivalent to grand jury proceedings in the civilian judicial system -- are held to determine if there’s enough evidence to warrant a general court-martial -- the most serious type of court-martial used for felony-level offenses such as rape and murder.

Congress decided that the services needed to have trained lawyers -- judge advocates -- consider the evidence, since in their view, trained lawyers often are in the best position to make determinations to go forward with general courts-martial, Kiel said. Judge advocates didn’t always serve as Article 32 investigating officers in the Army “largely because we try four times the number of cases of any of the other services,” he explained -- an issue of not having enough judge advocates for the high volume of cases.

Army officials asked Congress to consider its resourcing issue, he said, so the legislators wrote an exception, stating that “where practicable, you will have a judge advocate conduct the Article 32 investigation.”

Kiel explained what “where practicable” means, citing a number of circumstances where it could apply.

Many courts-martial were conducted over the years in Iraq and Afghanistan where soldiers were deployed and some of those involved war crimes, he said. In these cases, the Army found it sometimes was best to have line officers be the Article 32 investigating officers, because they could best put themselves in the shoes of the accused.

Those line officers “understood what it’s like to make decisions in the heat of battle better than a lawyer without those experiences,” Kiel said. “They added a level of judgment that sometimes judge advocates could not.”

Another example, he said, might be travel fraud.

“In the case of complex [temporary duty] fraud, for instance, you might want to have a finance officer as the IO,” Kiel said.

Besides subject-matter experts being in the best position to be Article 32 investigating officers, he said, there simply might not be enough judge advocates in the area of the installation. For example, U.S. Army Forces Command would have enough judge advocates to do Article 32 hearings, Kiel said, but if a number of hearings came up at once at U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command installations -- a smaller major command -- they might come up short.

That might jeopardize the right of an accused to a speedy trial if the clock runs out, he noted. And, if a judge advocate is flown in from another installation, travel costs would be incurred.

“Those are very real situations that could impact the ability to get it done expeditiously and cost effectively,” Kiel said.

Other attorneys on an installation cannot always be tapped for Article 32 investigating officer work, he said. On larger installations, “we have operational law attorneys that potentially could cover down on some of these areas, but we don’t have a lot of those,” he added.

On other installations, Kiel said, administrative law attorneys might have conflicts of interest if they’ve previously rendered some kind of legal review on a case.

“And, our administrative law attorneys are always busy reviewing various sorts of investigations and helping the command deal with such things as ethics and family readiness issues,” he continued.

“Then we have our criminal law advocates, trial counsels and defense counsels,” Kiel added. “They’re all conflicted out from being IOs, because they’re actually tasked with presenting evidence during the [Article 32 hearing] as they’re acting as counsel to the government or to the accused.”

The fiscal 2014 National Defense Authorization Act gives the services one year to phase in this change to Article 32, stipulating that where practicable, judge advocates conduct the investigations. This one-year time period provides needed time for the staff judge advocates to figure out if they have enough judge advocates to fill the requirement to cover down on all the Article 32 hearings and determine which installations are struggling to meet the requirements, Kiel said.

Another impact to courts-martial practice is the new requirement for a special victims counsel to provide support and advice to the alleged victim, Kiel said. For example, the special victims counsel must inform the victim of any upcoming hearings -- pretrial confinement, parole board, clemency and so on -- and inform the victim that he or she can choose to attend any of those. The victim also will be notified in advance of trial dates and be informed of any delays.

Furthermore, Kiel said, the special victims counsels may represent the alleged victims during trial, ensuring their rights are not violated, as under the Rape Shield Rule, for example. The Rape Shield Rule, or Military Rule of Evidence 412, prevents admission of evidence concerning sexual predisposition and behavior of an alleged victim of sexual assault.

Kiel provided an aside regarding the Rape Shield Law and how a high-visibility case a few months ago involving football players at the U.S. Naval Academy influenced changes to Article 32 by Congress.

In that case, the defense counsel had the victim on the stand for three days of questioning about the alleged victim’s motivations, medical history, apparel, and so on during the Article 32 hearing, he related. The cross-examination was perceived by the public and Congress to be disgraceful and degrading, and potentially violating the federal Rape Shield Rule. With passage of the fiscal 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, alleged rape and sexual assault victims are no longer subject to that kind of interrogation at the Article 32 hearing, he said.

Before the new law, alleged victims of sexual assault were ordered to show up at Article 32 hearings and frequently were asked to testify during those hearings as well.

“Congress thought that wasn’t fair, since civilian victims of sexual assault didn’t have to show up or testify,” Kiel said.

“Now, any victim of a crime who suffers pecuniary, emotional or physical harm and is named in one of the charges as a victim does not have to testify at the hearing,” he added.

Article 60

Like Article 32 changes, modifications to Article 60 are to be phased in over the course of 12 months. Article 60 involves pretrial agreements and actions by the convening authority in modifying or setting aside findings of a case or reducing sentencing. A convening authority could do that in the past, and some did, though rarely.

Changes to Article 60 were influenced last year by a case involving Air Force Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, a former inspector general convicted of aggravated sexual assault, Kiel said. The convening authority, Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, overturned the findings of guilt.

“That got Congress stirred up,” Kiel said.

In the new law, legislators said the convening authority can no longer adjust any findings of guilt for felony offenses where the sentence is longer than six months or contains a discharge. They cannot change findings for any sex crime, irrespective of sentencing time.

One way a commander still can modify a sentence is, “if the trial counsel comes forward and says, ‘This particular accused was very helpful in securing evidence or cooperating with the government in prosecuting someone who was accused of committing an offense under the UCMJ.’ That is a trigger for the convening authority to be able to modify a sentence,” Kiel said.

The other way a convening authority can modify a sentence, even involving rape and sexual assault, is if a pretrial agreement is in place, he said, meaning that the case could close, but the pretrial agreement would still take effect.

Congress realized that Article 60 was still needed to continue the option for pretrial agreements, Kiel said. Had Article 60 been done away with altogether, he added, that “would have likely meant all courts-martial would have gone to full contest, and that would have bottlenecked the entire process.”

Voiding Article 60 also would have meant that all alleged victims of sexual assault likely would have to testify.

“Sometimes, victims supported the pretrial agreement, supported the potential sentence and supported the fact that they didn’t have to testify -- when it was in their best individual interest,” Kiel said.

Other changes to courts-martial practice were made.

Prior to the new law, the convening authority could consider the military character of the accused in considering how to dispose of a case, Kiel said. Congress decided that should have no bearing on whether or not the accused has committed a sexual assault or other type of felony.

Also, he said, previous to new law, “sometimes the [staff judge advocate] would say, ‘Take the case to a general court-martial,’ and the convening authority would disagree and say, ‘I’m not going forward.’” Now, he said, “if the convening authority disagrees, the case has to go to the secretary of the service concerned, [who] would have to decide whether to go forward or not.”

In the case of an alleged rape or sexual assault in which the staff judge advocate and the convening authority decide not to go forward because of a lack of evidence or for any other reason, that case has to go up to the next-highest general court-martial convening authority for an independent review, Kiel said.

So if the case occurred at the division level in the Army, for example, and a decision were made at that level not to go forward, then the division would need to take the victim’s statements, its own statements for declining the case, and forward them and the entire investigative file to the next level up -- in this case, the corps.

At the corps level, the staff judge advocate and the corps commander would then review the file, look at the evidence and make a determination whether or not to go forward, Kiel explained.

If it’s decided to move forward the case would be referred at the corps level instead of sending it back down to the division, he added. This, he explained, avoids unlawful command influence on the case’s outcome.

Articles 120 and 125

The UCMJ’s Articles 120 and 125 now have mandatory minimum punishments: dishonorable discharge for enlisted service members and dismissal for officers, Kiel said. Article 120 deals with rape and sexual assault upon adults or children and other sex crimes, and Article 125 deals with forcible sodomy. In addition, the accused now must appear before a general court-martial with no opportunity to be tried at a summary or special court-martial, Kiel said.

A summary court-martial is for relatively minor misconduct, and a special court-martial is for an intermediate-level offense.

Furthermore, Congress highly encouraged the services not to dispose of sexual assault cases with adverse administrative action or an Article 15, which involves nonjudicial punishment usually reserved for minor disciplinary offenses, Kiel said.

Rather, Kiel said, Congress desires those cases to be tried at a general court-martial and has mandated that all sexual assault and rape cases be tried only by general court-martial.

Prior to the fiscal 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, there was a five-year statute of limitations on rape and sexual assault on adults and children under Article 120 cases. Now, there’s no statute of limitations, he said.

Congress repealed the offense of consensual sodomy under Article 125 in keeping with previous Supreme Court precedent, Kiel said, and also barred anyone who has been convicted of rape, sexual assault, incest or forcible sodomy under state or federal law from enlisting or being commissioned into military service.

What’s Ahead

Congress could make even more changes that address sexual assaults in the military as early as this month, Kiel said. And later this year, changes to the Manual for Courts-Martial should be signed by the president after review by the services, the national security staff, the Defense Department and other agencies, he added. The updated manual would codify all the changes, although some already are in effect, he said.

Force support squadron earns AFRC awards

477th Fighter Group Public Affairs

1/7/2014 - Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska  -- Air Force Reserve Command named the 477th Force Support Squadron's military personnel program best in the command and bestowed top honors to its operations officer Dec 6.

For the second year in a row, the squadron's military personnel section earned the AFRC-level Gerrit D. Foster, Jr., Award as the command's top military personnel program. The AFRC Directorate of Personnel and Manpower Programs announced the awards in a memorandum.

"This is really something everyone in our military personnel section should be proud of," said Lt. Col. David Kurle, 477th FSS commander. "These Citizen Airmen and civilians work extremely hard during the week and over unit training assemblies to meet the needs of the 477th Fighter Group.

"I am really happy for them, it validates a lot of effort over the past year," he said.

Senior Master Sgt. R. Adam Keele, the section's superintendent for the past three-and-a-half years was also proud of his team's efforts.

"Obtaining the title 'Best MPS in AFRC' during a time of manning issues, dwindling resources, increasing workload and increased deployments for MPS members, speaks volumes about the caliber and resiliency of our Airmen," he said. "I think this is tremendous recognition of the fine work our MPS performed over the last year.

"We have served our customers with pride, passion and dedication," Keele said.

In addition to the MPS award, Capt. Magaret Kuntz, the squadron's operations officer, was named the AFRC Personnel Company Grade Officer of the Year at the installation level. It was Kuntz's first time receiving this honor.

"This award is truly a recognition of the outstanding team found in the 477th Force Support Squadron," she said. "Their exceptional dedication to service is inspiring and motivating. It's an honor to lead such a fantastic group of Citizen Airmen."

Kuntz and the 477th FSS Military Personnel Section will go on to compete for the same awards at the Air Force level.

Face of Defense: Son Reflects Army Father’s Work Ethic

By Army Pfc. Ian Valley
205th Public Affairs Operations Center

SAN ANTONIO, Jan. 8, 2014 – Shaun Hamilton, a linebacker from Carver High School in Montgomery, Ala., is ranked 102nd in the ESPN 300, a list of the 300 best high school football players in the country. He has a 3.9 grade point average, is graduating a semester early from high school, and is the front-runner to be his class’s valedictorian.

He credits his military father for the drive that allows him to conquer obstacles to success.

Lt. Col. Shelton Hamilton, an Army Reserve soldier for 23 years, serves with U.S. Army Reserve Deployment Support Command. Throughout his life, Shaun said, he has seen sacrifice, hard work, dedication and discipline pay dividends in his father's career.

Shelton said his mindset came from his Army Reserve background and the Army’s values, and that Shaun has translated those values in the classroom and on the football field.

Growing up, Shaun had to go through the same hardships as other children of a military parent, including two deployments for his father.

“There were missed birthdays and holidays, and that's tough for a young kid,” Shaun said. “I'm very lucky to have him here to see me now.”

Watching his father work hard at his military career contributed to his own athleticism, Shaun said.

“I saw him when I was little waking up in the morning and go running through the neighborhood, getting ready for a [fitness] test.” he added.

Now Shelton gets to see his son do the same thing.

“I have seen this guy wake up at 5 a.m., go out and work out, take a shower, go to school, and at the same time, exceed academically,” the proud father said.

Discipline, duty, hard work and diligence were never just words in the Hamilton household -- they were the way to live, and they were displayed in day-to-day life.

“I believe in doing whatever it takes to get the job done, and I have instilled that into my son,” Shelton said. “I told him, ‘If you’re going to play football, you're going to go out there and do whatever it takes to compete.’ He has done whatever it took to get him into this situation. It wasn't a given.”

Shaun's hard work and “go-get-it attitude” were the driving forces to his early success in life, Shelton said. Father and son agree it started with discipline.

“I coached him through 6th grade and instilled hard work and expectations,” Shelton said. “He knew what Dad expected out of him. You have to have discipline to succeed in the classroom, as well as on the football field. [I] had the discipline to join the military and be successful in the military.”

Shelton had the chance to watch Shaun play at Bryant-Denny Stadium here Jan. 4 in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, the premier high school football event in the country. The game featured more than 90 of America's best senior high school football players.

21st SW fallen Airman returns home

from 21st Space Wing Public Affairs

1/8/2014 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Capt. David I. Lyon, 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron, returned home for the final time Jan. 6.

Lyon was part of the 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron and was killed in action Dec. 27 when the enemy attacked his convoy in Afghanistan. Lyon was working with Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, performing a Combat Advisory mission with Afghan National Army Commandos.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Capt. Lyon during this difficult time," said Col. John Shaw, 21st Space Wing commander. "The Air Force and our Nation lost one of our very best. We will never forget him or his sacrifice."

During his time in the 21st LRS, Lyon served as the Director of Operations as well as the 21st Mission Support Group executive officer.

"Capt. Lyon was a model officer and exemplary young leader," said Col. Chuck Arnold, 21st MSG commander. "Dave was special -- he was an intelligent, charismatic, natural leader who was widely respected by senior leaders, his peers and the Airmen he led."

Members of Team Pete lined the streets to honor Lyon as he departed Peterson Air Force Base for the final time. Lyon's funeral was Jan. 8 at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Lyon, a 2008 graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy, was interred at the USAFA cemetery.

(More information from the funeral ceremony will be published online and in next week's Space Observer.)

Shelton discusses importance of space defense

by Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

1/8/2014 - WASHINGTON -- Space is fundamental to the economy, the military and the way of life in the United States and officials must continue to guard against challenges in the domain from adversaries, the commander of Air Force Space Command said today.

Gen. William Shelton shared with students at George Washington University here some of his worries and concerns.

In the past 60 years, space has grown from a domain with a lone satellite beeping across the heavens to a $300 billion economic engine.

"The advent of space systems has allowed citizens and governments to engage routinely in the world around them, communicate at the speed of light and to tap sources of information previously unavailable to them," Shelton said.

Satellites are now essential parts of the 21st century way of life for all nations. Weather forecasting, precise navigation, instant communications and many other capabilities tie space to Earth.

These are incredibly important during crises. The death tolls from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Japanese tsunami in 2011 would have been even higher had not satellite surveillance and communications been available, he said.

Space has also changed the military. "In all of recorded history, when armies met on the battle field, they fought for the coveted high ground because of the obvious advantage it gave them over the adversary," Shelton said. "Later, balloons performed that function and even later, airplanes were used as observation platforms."

Space is the ultimate high ground, he said.

Shelton's command has a global mission with global responsibilities reaching all corners of the planet and up to 23,000 miles in space and geosynchronous orbit. "We get space-derived information to all sorts of users, including the military operators of our nation's Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines -- those who rely on timely and accurate data," he said.

Intelligence, logistics and other operationally relevant data flow seamlessly to the front lines in Afghanistan as well as to other parts of the world where U.S. forces are operating.

"I can't think of a single military operation across the full spectrum from humanitarian relief operations all the way to major combat operations that doesn't somehow depend on space for mission success," Shelton said. "But frankly, this dependence on space has also become quite a bit of a double-edged sword. Our potential adversaries have been going to school on us during these many years of combat operations."

Adversaries are mimicking American procedures and looking for chinks in American armor, the general said. "More concerning, as they've watched us, we've watched them develop systems to challenge our advantages in space," he said.

"Because space launch is so expensive, we loaded as much as we could onto our satellites -- multiple missions, multiple payloads, " Shelton said. "After all, we were operating in a relatively peaceful sanctuary in space."

Not today. "As I look at the next 20 years in space, we have a difficult, up-hill climb ahead of us," he said. "I equate this to the difficulty of turning the Queen Mary. You send the rudder command and the delayed response tries your patience."

To sustain space services, the United States must consider architectural alternatives for future satellite constellations. "These alternatives must balance required capability, affordability and resilience," he said. "There are many options that we're actively studying right now. The notion of disaggregation is one. And what we mean by this is moving away from the multiple payload, big satellite construct into a less complex satellite architecture with multiple components."

Distributing space payloads across multiple satellite platforms, increases U.S. resiliency. "At a minimum, it complicates our adversaries' targeting calculus," he said.

Air Force Wounded Warriors hone skills while at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam

by Master Sgt. Jerome S. Tayborn
15th Wing Public Affairs

More than 120 wounded warriors arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to prepare for the 2014 Wounded Warrior Pacific Invitational.
The WWPI is one in a series of adaptive athletic events leading up to the 2014 Warrior Games, an annual competition among wounded warriors from all branches of military service.
The Air Force athletes will train on the fundamental techniques of cycling, seated volleyball, swimming, track and field and wheelchair basketball, they will also scrimmage against, JBPHH Airmen, the Chief's Group and Pacific Air Forces senior leadership Jan. 5-7.
After the practice competitions the thirty Air force athletes will face off against the 90 other athletes for the Wounded Warrior Pacific Invitational Jan. 8-10.
The scrimmage games help the Air Force wounded warriors prepare for the Invitational.
"Competing in wheelchair basketball is very intense," said Staff Sgt. Blake Coney, 647th Logistic Readiness Squadron material management specialist and volunteer competitor.
"There's a lot of multitasking involved in the sport. Being able to see the court, pushing the wheelchair, and dribbling, are all very difficult tasks," said Coney.
Coney is one of several JBPHH Airmen who volunteered to practice with the Air Force wounded warriors.
"The wounded warriors that I practiced with are really sports enthuse and I like that, but they also know how to have fun." said Coney. "It's a lot to take in; the biggest challenge was dribbling and controlling the wheelchair. This experience has made me have a lot more respect for these warrior athletes."
Tech. Sgt. Ryan Pinney Wounded Warrior from the Arizona Air National Guard said these sport camps are fun and help to produce good camaraderie.
"It's a great opportunity to compete against new players and more experienced players. But every sport still needs structure, and requires a leader or captain within the team. But in these competitions were not focused on rank or titles. It's not about active duty, National Guard or civilian, it's all about the camaraderie and the most important aspect of the game is to just have fun." said Pinney.

First combat deployable F-22s arrive at Tyndall

by Staff Sgt. Rachelle Blake
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/7/2014 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.  -- Tyndall Air Force Base received the first five-of-24 F-22 Raptors scheduled to transfer from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Jan. 6 as part of the new combat mission.

The aircraft are now a part of the 95th Fighter Squadron, which reactivated in October 2013.

"We have been talking about the arrival of this mission for a few years," said Lt. Col. Erick Gilbert, 95th FS commander. "Unfortunately, we had a one year delay, but today we were able to successfully bring in the first wave of aircraft."

He said six more will arrive in February, with six more in March and the final wave in April.

The squadron's mission is to project unrivaled combat power in support of national military objectives and combatant commander requirements through strategic application of 5th generation air dominance fighter aircraft and personnel.

"The 95th Fighter Squadron showing up represents a new era of capability at Tyndall," said Col. David Graff, 325th Fighter Wing commander. "No combat aviation unit has ever deployed out of Tyndall Air Force Base. Now, we will have the largest collection of F-22s in the world and will stand ready to project air power and defend our nation's freedom."

Base officials expressed the importance of this as the next step towards the new combat mission, responsible for deploying a large number of Airmen and aircraft at any given time.

The new mission adds to Tyndall AFB's current role as the home of F-22 pilot training. In total, more than 50 of the world's most advanced aircraft will call Tyndall home, making it the largest single-base contingent of F-22s in existence. More than 1,100 positions are associated with the new mission.

"We are bringing in close to 1,100 uniformed members to Tyndall plus their families, which will bring us back to a lively state like we had a few years ago," Gilbert said.

The transfer of the planes and people does not come without its challenges, but base leadership is confident the 95th FS will come out on top, thanks to the help from the Airmen and civilians at Tyndall and the local community.

"Bay County has not let us down in the 72 years we have been here and I know our partnership will continue to grow and prosper ... today is a great day," said Graff. "The sound of freedom just got a little louder over the world's most beautiful beaches."

B-52 upgrade to increase smart-weapons capacity

by Mike W. Ray
Tinker Air Force Base Public Affairs

1/8/2014 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFNS) -- Tinker AFB Airmen will update ground maintenance and mission planning software in support of a new Air Force contract that will increase the B-52 Stratofortress's "smart-weapons" capacity by 50 percent.

The $24.6 million agreement stipulates that Boeing will develop a modification to existing weapon launchers so the aircraft can carry smart weapons in the bomb bay, which will enable aircrews to use the B-52's entire weapons capacity.

"With this modification, we're converting the bomb bay from dropping just gravity-type bombs to releasing precision-guided weapons," said Jennifer Hogan of Boeing Communications.

"When you combine that ability with the B-52's unlimited range with air refueling, you have an efficient and versatile weapon system that is valuable to warfighters on the ground," said Scot Oathout, the Boeing's B-52 program director. "This weapons capacity expansion joins the Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT) program, a comprehensive communication upgrade that's being installed on the aircraft, to give the warfighter even more flexibility."

Boeing will produce three prototype launchers for test and evaluation. Initial capability is expected in March 2016, and potential follow-on efforts could add more weapons and allow a mixed load of different types of weapons.

Upon completion of the first phase of the upgrade, the B-52 will be able to carry two dozen 500-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions or twenty 2,000-pound JDAMs. Later phases will add the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, or JASSM, and its extended-range variant, as well as the Miniature Air Launched Decoy, or MALD, and its jammer variant.

The bomb bay renovation will enable the B-52 to carry all of its weapons internally, thereby increasing fuel efficiency in flight. The modernization work will use parts from existing Air Force rotary launchers repurposed for conventional missions, as well as hardware and software already developed for the wing pylons.

Engineers from the 76th Software Maintenance Group, 557th Software Maintenance Squadron, B-52 Software Avionics Flight here, are modifying the 1760 Integrated Weapon Bay Upgrade, or IWBU Ground Maintenance Computer Program to test out the additional Integrated Weapon Interface Unit being added in the bay location on the B-52 in order to launch additional weapons from the weapons bay location.

The primary function of the Ground Maintenance Computer Program is to test the B-52 Offensive Avionics System Prime Mission Equipment that is capable of communicating with the Avionics Control Units via the MIL-STD-1553A data busses and the Fiber Channel. The Ground Maintenance Computer Program will detect faults and aid in fault isolation of Prime Mission Equipment Line Replaceable Units on the aircraft. The GMCP software will execute within the Avionics Control Units and communicate with the Line Replaceable Units via the MIL-STD-1553A data busses and the Fiber Channel. Ground testing of this effort will occur in late 2014.

In addition, engineers from the 76th SMXG, 557th SMXS, B-52 Software Avionics Flight are transitioning mission-planning software from a unix-based Mission Planning System to a Windows-based Joint Mission Planning System. The B-52 JMPS Unique Program Component v1.0 software release will include conventional mission planning support for B-52 Software Blocks 04 and 05. It also adds capability for all variants of JDAM, JASSM and MALD at the bay location to support capability added by the 1760 IWBU program. Formal Qualification Testing will be accomplished by July 2014, and the software will fielded by July 2015.

The CONECT system will enable Stratofortress aircrews to send and receive information via satellite links, which will enable them to change mission plans and retarget weapons while in flight; currently, mission information must be uploaded to a B-52 before a flight. In addition, pilots will be able to interact better with other aircraft and with ground forces.

Other improvements will include a state-of-the-art computing network with workstations at each crew position and an integrated digital interphone with increased capacity that will allow crew members to talk to each other on headsets equipped with noise-canceling technology.

The $76 million CONECT upgrade installation will be performed during programmed depot maintenance by the 565th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, while Boeing will provide the low-rate initial production of the first CONECT kits, along with spare parts and maintenance and service at Tinker AFB.

The B-52H was delivered to the Air Force in 1961-62. Those aircraft have been kept aloft through regular maintenance and periodic upgrades. For example, GPS capabilities were incorporated into their navigation systems in the late 1980s. Citing engineering studies, Air Force officials have said the heavy bombers could keep flying for at least another quarter-century.

Memorial honoring fallen Airman unveiled

by Staff Sgt. Jacob Morgan
21st Space Wing Public Affairs

1/8/2014 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Airman 1st Class Matthew Seidler, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal technician, was honored by more than 150 attendees from the 21st Space Wing, his family and EOD members from the area at a dedication ceremony Jan. 5. During the ceremony, as the wind chill reached -1 degree Fahrenheit, Col. John Shaw, 21st SW commander, issued the order to rename El Dorado Street to Seidler Street, the future home of the EOD flight.

Matthew Seidler was killed by an improvised explosive device exactly two years before the dedication -- Jan. 5, 2012 -- while deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, performing route clearance while attached to an Army platoon. The rest of Seidler's team, Team "Tripwire," Tech. Sgt. Matthew Schwartz and Senior Airman Bryan Bell, also lost their lives that day and were honored at the ceremony.

During the ceremony Shaw described Seidler's dedication to the Air Force.

"I am very honored to be speaking here today," said Shaw. "Matthew Seidler was a great Airman and a selfless American and that is what we are here to remember and celebrate. For those who have given the last full measure of devotion to our nation and the cause of freedom, we can never do enough, but we do our best to honor them, to remember them and to follow them along the path of dedication and service to something greater than ourselves."

Shaw spoke on the impact Matthew Seidler had on those closest to him and those who never had the opportunity to meet him.

"We have all certainly come to know of Matthew Seidler's courage and heroism. Whether you knew him directly or not, he has made a difference; not only for this nation, but in the lives of his loved ones, members at Peterson (AFB) and those across the EOD community," said Shaw. "Explosive ordnance disposal is an extremely dangerous job. When there is a threat, Airmen like Airman Seidler are the ones who go forward to safeguard others from harm. To Mr. and Mrs. Seidler and all of those who loved him, I do not know what words or length of time will allow you to truly heal or if the mourning will ever stop, but I hope that the dedication of this street and park may bring some measure of healing."

In addition to renaming the street, there was a park and memorial dedicated in his honor.

The memorial at Seidler Park was designed by members of the 21st CES. Special focus was brought to the plaque, which was explosively engraved by members of the 21st EOD. After accepting an identical copy of the plaque that now sits at the Seidler Park memorial, Seidler's father removed his coat, scarf and gloves before speaking in the freezing temperatures.

"I am braving the cold for a reason today; Matt's entrance into the military started cold," said Marc Seidler, Mathew's father. "When he graduated boot camp, it was the coldest day in 30 years. He stood outside for the pre-run at 5 a.m. and the ceremony at 8:30 a.m.

"How they stood in 13 degree weather in dress blues is phenomenal to me," said Marc Seidler.

Marc Seidler continued by saying Matthew seemed the happiest he had been in years just before he was killed in action. He also thanked the Air Force and the EOD family for the support and inclusion into the EOD community.

"We are here to celebrate Matt, what he did for his country and the Air Force and what the Air Force did for him. We feel lucky that we have had so many of you to hold us in these dark times," said Marc Seidler. "I would never call myself religious, but I am sure spiritual now. I am warmer standing here now than I was sitting down with my jacket on, Matt is here keeping me warm."

Marc Seidler concluded the ceremony with a poem he wrote for his son before his son's memorial in 2012.

Another sleepless night, my son.
Another sleepless night

Our Journey's been long and hard, so long and hard

You went places we can never go
Seen things we will never see

But were closer now, closer now
Closer than we have ever been

You left us when you were so far away, so far away

But we are together now, together now.

Your face we will forever see, because now you are inside of me

We get out strength from knowing that you would have wanted us to know...
That you left us following your dream

And in that dream you will come back to us...
To help us understand.....
That what you did was for all of us...
To protect this great land.

So now that we are closer now, closer now
We reach out to hold your hand

Another Sleepless night my son
Another sleepless night

But we must get up, must get up, to face the day
So much work to do, so many things to say
People must know, must never forget, what happened that day
So very far away, so very far away

Another Sleepless night my son
Another sleepless night
Rest my son, rest, your work here is done.

Love, Dad

Fairchild Airman earns STEP promotion to technical sergeant

by Airman 1st Class Sam Fogleman
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

1/7/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Tech. Sgt. Vikas Kumar received his technical sergeant stripe under the Air Force's Stripes for Exceptional Performers program during a 92nd Medical Group commander's call at the base theater Dec. 18, 2013.

Kumar serves as the 92nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron Aerospace & Operational Physiology Flight NCO in charge. He was born in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and grew up in India. He moved to the U.S. in 1998 and joined the Air Force in 2004.

"I was surprised and shocked beyond my imagination," Kumar said of his promotion announcement. "I have never been surprised like that in my life. It was a very happy ending to the year for the Kumars after some turbulent times."

The STEP program is designed for rare situations that, in the commander's judgment, clearly merit promotion.

"He is a critical part of our team who takes on senior NCO and officer-level work," said Lt. Col. Matthew Albright, 92nd AMDS Aerospace & Operational Physiology flight commander. "He is a leader amongst his peers and will be a future senior NCO leader in our career field, and the Air Force. He is actively involved at all levels of the wing, group and squadron, to include having Air Force-level impact. I cannot think of a finer NCO to have received this STEP promotion."

Kumar's promotion is a tribute to his service and is the latest in a long line of awards and decorations. He was named 2012 Air Mobility Command Aerospace Physiology NCO of the Year.

"The new rank brings with it additional responsibilities, and a lot of expectations from family as well as work," Kumar said. "I will work hard to ensure that I meet these responsibilities and expectations."