Wednesday, December 03, 2014

PACAF commander visits JBER Airmen, families

by Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs

12/3/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Gen. Lori Robinson, Pacific Air Forces commander, visited Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Dec. 2-3 to gain a better understanding of unit readiness and base capabilities and services while interacting with Airmen face-to-face.

While here, Robinson hosted an all-call with hundreds of JBER Airmen and Soldiers, where she introduced herself and outlined her priorities, which included taking care of Airmen and prioritizing efforts on the PACAF lines of operation.

"My first priority is taking care of Airmen and their families," Robinson said. "To me, that is huge. That is our nation's asymmetric advantage because of our national treasure of our Airmen and their families deployed throughout the world."

In focusing on PACAF lines of operation, the general pointed out that it was important for Airmen at all levels to give feedback to their chain of command to ensure maximum job impact to the mission. PACAF's lines of operation are: Theater Security Cooperation, Integrated Air and Missile Defense/Resiliency; Power Projection Agile, Flexible Command and Control; and Resilient Airmen.

"I can stand up here and talk all I want, but what we need to make sure we get is feedback, especially in these constrained times," Robinson said. "If something you're doing does not directly contribute to a line of operation, then tell somebody about it. Make sure leadership knows."

Overall, the general stated PACAF mission and goals will not change significantly.

"The mission, vision and goals -- I can tell you those aren't going to change," Robinson said. "We might tweak a little on the edges but the clear, unambiguous guidance is not going to change: It's the same with the PACAF strategy. Everything you're doing each and every day that relates to the lines of operations, keep doing it. It's important to keep doing what you're doing because what you're doing is incredibly successful."

Robinson also spoke to the importance of readiness to continued mission success across PACAF.

"We can have a force that's postured, but if we don't have a ready force, then when it's called upon, it won't be able to do the things asked of it. I expect you to be ready to fight tonight," Robinson said. "Whether it's flying, maintaining, wherever that is, that is important. What's also important is that you're mentally, physically and spiritually ready to fight tonight. Comprehensive Airmen Fitness and your ability to take care of yourself are hugely important."

Developing new leaders is also high on the general's priority list.

"To me, one of the most important things is making sure I find and develop new leaders. If I learned anything over my 33 years of being in our Air Force, it is that it's about being a part of something bigger than yourself. It's about understanding that it's not about me and it's not about you. It's about what we do and how we do it."

Robinson stressed leadership as key to one of her other priorities: fostering a climate of dignity and respect.

"In that leadership vein, the environment that your commanders set, and I set and I create is the most important thing in this leadership development idea," Robinson said. "I think the environment needs to be healthy where we all understand the rules and regulations. Each and every one of us needs to create an environment of dignity and respect."

The general lauded JBER's efforts to foster that type of environment.

"The things you're doing with sexual assault -- those small, group-to-group conversations you're having, you're being incredibly blunt and candid -- and that's huge," Robinson said. "It's a tribute to all of you wanting to create a better environment and create a better culture of dignity and respect."

Robinson was also impressed with how JBER's Airmen persevere despite the austere conditions, as her arrival coincided with Anchorage's first significant snow accumulation of the season.

"One of the things that really struck me this morning as I was looking out at the snow is, 'Wow! How do each of you embrace that arctic warrior culture?"' the general said. "You think about things differently here. If you're on the east coast, everybody races home to hunker down. [Here at JBER] now, the skis and snowboards can come out; all those things you do, you embrace it. When you embrace the culture like that, you embrace the arctic warrior spirit. It's a real tribute to the team and leadership here."

Airman 1st Class Kurt Lantz, 673d Contracting Squadron unit program coordinator, was one of JBER's Airmen in attendance and said he was impressed with the new PACAF commander's ability to connect with Airmen.

"I felt like she was very down to earth," Lantz said. "I felt she was genuine. She talked about family and that's important. It meant a lot. I felt her coming from an Air Force family, she's seen the sacrifices that have been made. She's definitely well in tune with the culture, the way the force has been growing, and where it's going."

Finding life’s new direction after a loss

By Airman 1st Class Erica Crossen, 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs 
Published December 03, 2014

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- Sometimes it takes a difficult situation in your life to not only be reminded of the things you are truly grateful for, but also to serve as a catalyst for change.

That moment for me came during the beginning of 2012 when my mother died suddenly at just 43 years old.

We had just finished observing Christmas and like always, she was the absolute fixture in our celebrations.

I can still hear the sound of my mom's laughter, smell the delicious food we prepared and see the tree twinkling as it sheltered cheerful little packages beneath it. She would initiate "Star Wars" and "Godfather" movie marathons as part of our yearly traditions, and I never expected that anything could shatter my excitement for this time of the year.

However, the New Year began in a tragic way. Mom had collapsed and hit her head, hard. She was admitted into an intensive care unit, slipping into unresponsiveness due to a brain hemorrhage. My husband drove us eight hours to the hospital where I found her on life support with the haunting beeping and alarms going off in her room. It was the worst thing to have to hold her hand and acknowledge that she was truly gone, never to smile proudly at future graduations or hold my children as a grandmother.

After I lost my mom, I never thought the holidays could regain their happy luster. It was a hard reality to accept that I couldn't just pick up the phone and talk to her. I was so angry with her and confused as to why she let her health decline, leaving me and my sister without a mom.

As you can imagine, as the next holiday season approached I looked at it as something to get through. She had represented the togetherness of friends and family, and now she was gone. I had to make sense of it, and I continued to do a lot of soul searching.

During this process I decided that while I could hold on to her legacy of a great sense of humor and honor the way she loved me, there were unhealthy lifestyle habits I needed to let go of. That's when I decided that I needed to take care of my body better and eventually I lost 50 pounds.

After achieving success with that goal, I then decided to join the Air Force. I'd been an Air Force spouse for four years, but my mom's death made me realize that I shouldn't wait to do the things I felt I needed to do.

With a new outlook on life, I felt I could power through anything. I wanted to make every moment count and not regret at least trying. I wanted the next holiday season at home to be a time of looking back on what I had accomplished that year.

It was the Christmas I spent in basic training down at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, that I realized I had become part of another family with new traditions which helped fill the emptiness from my mother's passing. On Christmas Eve we marched to the chapel for services and as I looked around me, I knew the other trainees were experiencing difficulties, too. Some were missing their children, some were still trying to adjust to this new life, and some were just missing friends and family back home.

As we marched under a crisp star-lit Texas sky, our "Lackland Laser" flashlights swung in unison. It made the ground sway with light, competing with the sky, and it seemed almost magical. For someone half-way through training and with just two days to go before her 25th birthday, it just made me smile. On Christmas, the drill instructors were surprisingly nice to us, and we had an elaborate, relaxed meal that day.

Two days later, my flight sang "Happy Birthday," which helped to lift my spirits as did the daily letters unfailingly sent by my husband. He knew what I was going through, but better yet he knew something that I was just realizing: hope and gratitude can buoy us through any difficulties. Moreover, the Air Force family that I always knew was there, but never quite relied on until that point, came through for me when I needed it most.

Now as I approach each holiday season, I pause to remind myself that there is always something to be thankful for and to challenge myself to keep setting--and achieving--new goals for myself.

Sometimes it's those difficult circumstances that help us change and grow the most. I still miss my mom, yet the memories and traditions I will always carry with me. However, she also gave me an opportunity change the course of my life -- something that I'm very thankful for this year.

Hickam Airmen exercise Rapid Raptor in Guam

by Bekah Clark
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

12/3/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Airmen from the 15th and 154th Wings at Joint Base Pearl-Harbor Hickam, Hawaii, exercised the newest approach to fighter employment Nov. 20-24 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

Rapid Raptor, which is still in the proof-of-concept phase, uses at least one C-17 to swiftly move, refuel and rearm a minimum of four F-22s in unfamiliar, austere environments.

"The ability to launch F-22s to a nontraditional location with a complement of additional pilots, embedded maintenance, as well as fuel and munitions, allows for unprecedented flexibility in 5th generation fighter aircraft deployment," said Lt. Col. David Eaglin, Pacific Air Forces' Chief of Current Operations and Power Projection Division.

These small detachments of U.S. fighters performing short-duration deployments will ultimately strengthen the overall U.S. posture with a smaller footprint than traditional expeditionary forces or theater security packages.

"This concept embodies the fundamental tenants of air power:  speed, flexibility and surprise," said Eaglin. "Rapid Raptor, once operationalized, will enable us to deploy to and operate from austere locations with a contained cell of personnel and equipment. This will provide us a much greater capability to swiftly respond in support of security and stability in the region."

This iteration of the program - which was pre-planned and has been tested three times previously - was held in a simulated austere section of Andersen where personnel stayed in tent city.

This was also the first time that the 36th Contingency Response Group was embedded as a part of the detachment supporting Rapid Raptor.

The CRG, a rapid-deployment unit designed to be a "first-in" force to secure, establish and maintain an airfield and airfield operations, provided tents, water and air conditioning in addition to moving and inspecting the cargo.

"Our detachment operated independently from the rest of the base," said Capt. Mike Ball, the project officer for this iteration of the program.  "But we were close enough to support agencies in the event we found a gap in our plan; which is what these proofs-of-concept are all about - finding the gaps in the plan and finding a way forward."

The detachment made strides in advancing the Rapid Raptor capability during its four days on the ground in addition to flying in support of Continuous Bomber Presence, Air Sea Battle and Jungle Shield missions.

"All in all this iteration of the Rapid Raptor concept development was a success," said Ball. "We're one step closer to increasing operational approaches available to ensure security and stability across the Asia-Pacific Region."

Operation: Next Chapter

The December 18, 2014, episode of American Heroes Radio features a conversation with Vietnam Veteran and author Cym Lowell about Operation: Next Chapter, funding voice-controlled laptops for wounded warriors.

Program Date:  December 18, 2014
Program Time: 1500 hours, PACIFIC
Topic: Operation: Next Chapter

About the Guest
Operation: Next Chapter is “working with Soldier’s Angels Project: Valour-IT to provided 100 voice-controlled, adaptive lap-top computers for military personnel who have lost the use of their hands.  Vietnam Veteran and author Cym Lowell will donate 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of his latest novel, Jasper’s War, to purchase these individually adapted computers which cost $500 a piece.  The laptops allow warriors who are healing from amputations, paralysis, eye injuries, burns and brain trauma to stay in touch with their family and their units during their recovery period.”

Cym Lowell "was born in Montana to academics and spent his youth traveling the world. To put it politely, he was an undistinguished student, rewarded with assignment to the U.S. Navy at 18. After two years in Vietnam, college and law school were a challenge. Being a veteran in the political turbulence of the late 1960s and early 1970s taught humility. Raising three children in the Midwest and Texas brought love and responsibility. An international tax practice in the financial crises of the past 40 years provided insight into motivations of actors on the global stage. Friends, clients, adversaries, and colleagues, like victory and defeat, added color and context. The result is a writer with a treasure trove of experience to frame compelling characters enmeshed in heart-thumping challenges." Cym Lowell is the author of The Gift, Riddle of Berlin and Jaspar's War.

About the Watering Hole
The Watering Hole is police slang for a location cops go off-duty to blow off steam and talk about work and life.  Sometimes funny; sometimes serious; but, always interesting.
About the Host
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster was a sworn member of the Los Angeles Police Department for 24 years.  He retired in 2003 at the rank of Lieutenant.  He holds a bachelor’s from the Union Institute and University in Criminal Justice Management and a Master’s Degree in Public Financial Management from California State University, Fullerton; and, has completed his doctoral course work. Raymond E. Foster has been a part-time lecturer at California State University, Fullerton and Fresno; and is currently a Criminal Justice Department chair, faculty advisor and lecturer with the Union Institute and University.  He has experience teaching upper division courses in law enforcement, public policy, law enforcement technology and leadership.  Raymond is an experienced author who has published numerous articles in a wide range of venues including magazines such as Government Technology, Mobile Government, Airborne Law Enforcement Magazine, and Police One.  He has appeared on the History Channel and radio programs in the United States and Europe as subject matter expert in technological applications in law enforcement.

Program Contact Information
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA

33rd Fighter Wing honored with top modeling and simulation award

by Staff Sgt. Marleah Robertson
33rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/3/2014 - ORLANDO, Fla. -- The National Training and Simulation Association selected the F-35 Lightning II Training System for the 2014 Modeling & Simulation Award, here.

The award recognizes the U.S. Air Force's 33rd Fighter Wing, the F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin for delivering an effective, immersive training experience for F-35 pilots and maintainers. The F-35 team is one of six winners, across industry and defense, honored for advancing modeling and simulation technologies.

The 33 FW on Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, was re-designated under the Air Education and Training Command on Oct. 1, 2009, to establish the F-35 Lightning II training mission. The pilot and maintainer qualifications are accomplished through simulations to ensure efficient mission readiness.

"F-35 pilots and maintainers prepare with a revolutionary training system," said U.S. Air Force Col. Todd Canterbury, 33 FW commander. "We train like we fight to provide the foundation that the United States and our international partners require to take the F-35 into its initial operational capability."

In an effort across 12 nations, the F-35 Lightning II program continues to serve as the centerpiece of the 21st century global security strategy. As the first of its kind in the Department of Defense, the wing is responsible for F-35 Lightning II pilot and maintainer training for the DOD and, in the future, at least eight coalition partners. Recently, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, also established an F-35A Lightning II training mission.

"The comprehensive training technology suite delivers the experiences that enable F-35 teams to maximize the aircraft's sensor information and stealth," said Mary Ann Horter, F-35 Sustainment Support vice president at Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems and Training business. "Flexibility is fundamental to the design, providing the ability to accommodate the three aircraft variants and all F-35 services."

To date, more than 140 pilots and 1,500 maintainers from the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have graduated from the 33 FW's F-35 Integrated Training Center.

Forty sorties

by Airman 1st Class Sahara L. Fales
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

12/3/2014 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Battling harsh winds and temperatures 20 degrees and below for several days, operations and maintenance Airmen joined together to successfully fly 40 out of 40 sorties during Prairie Warrior surge week, Nov. 17-20, on Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.

The purpose of the exercise was to demonstrate conventional capabilities in a realistic training environment to simulate combat.

"Prairie Warrior provided us with some outstanding visibility, because we were able to exercise realistic and challenging scenarios that we don't normally encounter," said Col. Kieran Denehan, 5th Operations Group commander. "This is where we put our training to the biggest possible test outside of a combat environment."

Air crew members were issued weapons, met with a chaplain, received a weather intel brief and a pre-takeoff brief just as if they were preparing for war, said Capt. Michael Devita, 5th Operations Support Squadron conventional plans flight commander.

With only 16 jets available and 12 scheduled to fly on the first day, the maintainers' skills were put to the test to have 10 jets prepared for takeoff first thing the next day.

"A B-52's normal flying rhythm is every other day," said Senior Master Sgt. Paul Crisostomo, 69th Aircraft Maintenance Unit lead project supervisor. "Our ability to be able to fly a jet one day and turn around and fly it twelve hours later speaks volumes of the good work that our Airmen are doing out there."

In addition to the 22 sorties in the first two days, they also flew 10 on the third day and eight more on the fourth to conclude the exercise, Crisostomo said.

The demanding mission of Prairie Warrior had Airmen working 12 hour shifts the entire week to provide full-spectrum deterrence and maintenance on the B-52H Stratofortresses. Day shift focused primarily on getting the bombers loaded and up in the air, while night shift was responsible for recovery, refueling, service and pre-flight checks.

"I only had so many load crews and maintainers," Crisostomo said. "They were all hopping from jet to jet just getting the job done!"

Because of their hard work throughout the week, the base was able to fly 40 out of 40 sorties with 33 on-time takeoffs and successfully dropped 119 munitions.

Crisostomo attributes the most successful surge MAFB has had in about five years to the outstanding teamwork among all of the squadrons.

"Prairie Warrior was a huge success for us," said Col. Jason Armagost, 5th Bomb Wing commander. "Just weeks after coming out of succeeding in a large-scale nuclear exercise, we accomplished our base's largest conventional exercise of the year -- and we crushed it."

Cox to replace Ellis as 307th Bomb Wing commander

by Tech. Sgt. Ted Daigle
307th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

12/2/2014 - Barksdale Air Force Base, La. -- Col. Bruce R. Cox, currently the director of 10th Air Force Operations and Plans Directorate, will replace Col. Jonathan M. Ellis as commander of the 307th Bomb Wing during a change of command ceremony here Dec. 7.

Ellis will move to Air Force Global Strike Command to serve as the Mobilization Assistant to the Director of Operations.

A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Cox received his commission to the United States Air Force in 1986.  After completing pilot training at Reese Air Force Base, Texas, where he was named a distinguished graduate, he completed F-16 Viper training at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.  He is a graduate of Texas A&M University, the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College, and the U.S. Air Force Air War College.

"The excitement of learning new missions with the great Airmen of the 307th, along with learning the B-52 and B-1 aircraft, is an honor and a privilege to be cherished," Cox said.  "I hope to gain familiarity with every seat on the airplanes operated by the Wing.  In the end, I'll sit wherever I'm told and execute the mission to the high standards taught by the 93rd Bomb Squadron instructors."

He stated that his first priority as the new wing commander is to take care of the Airmen of the 307th Bomb Wing so they can execute the mission.

"It is the responsibility of leadership to provide our Airmen the tools and opportunities to balance civilian pursuits and military operational and strategic demands all while caring for each other and our families."

Face of Defense: Marine Helicopter Crew Chief Aims High

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Caitlin Bevel
I Marine Expeditionary Force

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., Dec. 3, 2014 – The Marine Corps is known as the elite fighting force of the United States and it draws that strength from the experiences and contributions of each individual Marine.

Marine Corps Cpl. James Hibler, a UH-1Y Huey helicopter crew chief with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, Marine Aircraft Group 39, I Marine Expeditionary Force here, said he enlisted in the Marines to help secure his future.

Needing a Change

Hibler grew up in Arlington, Texas. His father and brother both served in the military, so he knew where to turn when he decided he needed a change.

“I went to the University of North Texas and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice,” Hibler said. “I didn’t want a normal job, so I decided to join the Marine Corps.”

When Hibler started looking into joining the military, he said, there were a number of things that drew him to the Marine Corps.

“If you’re going to join the military, you want to be one of the best, so you’re going to join the Marine Corps,” Hibler said. “Not only do we have the best reputation, our uniforms look better.”

Loss of Close Friend

Before enlisting, Hibler received a harsh reminder of what the price of service might be. On April 6, 2011, Hibler’s friend from elementary school, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith, was killed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

“One of my buddies called me and told me it happened,” Hibler said. “I was just numb; you don’t think that it’s going to happen to you, especially when you think so highly of your buddy.”

Despite the potential danger, Hibler spent approximately five months in the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program before leaving for Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego to start his training in January 2012.

Marines’ Iconic Image

While the Marine Corps offers a variety of potential jobs, Hibler’s career choice was inspired by imagery from the era in which his father served.

“If you look at iconic pictures and videos of Vietnam you see Hueys coming over the trees,” Hibler said. “What better job than to fly around in a Huey, shooting machine guns?”

As a UH-1Y Huey crew chief, Hibler helps ensure the aircraft is safe to fly and he also serves as a door-gunner in combat.

Hard, Sweaty Work

Hibler described one of the days on the job that gave him a sense of fulfillment as a Marine. It involved lots of hard work and a .50-caliber machine gun.

“We went to go shoot at Mount Home Air Force Base in Idaho and everywhere we flew there was snow on the ground,” Hibler said. “The .50 cal[iber] I was shooting broke, so we had to get the ammo to another helicopter.

“We landed in a field and had to carry about 800 rounds of ammo 200 yards uphill, but every step we took we would sink four or five inches into the soil,” he continued. “We only have a certain amount of time on station when we can deploy our weapons systems before we have to leave, so we had to hurry.”

Hibler and his comrades delivered the ammunition, he said, but not before they became soaked in sweat.

“Then we had to run back to our helicopter and keep flying around and it was about 40 degrees outside,” he added. “It was miserable, but it was kind of fun.”

Enjoying Camaraderie

Despite the excitement associated with his job, Hibler explained that the happiest moments of his career so far have involved in getting to know his fellow Marines.

“It’s when you’re sitting out on the flight line with a couple of your fellow crew chiefs waiting to go test some helicopters, or when you fly out to Twentynine Palms and you’re waiting for a fuel truck and you have down time just sitting in the back of a Huey talking to your buddies,” Hibler said. “That’s when you get personal with people. You get to know one another.”

Since joining HMLA-469 approximately a year and a half ago, Hibler has developed a reputation with his fellow noncommissioned officers.

Good Reputation

“His maturity shows on a day-to-day basis,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Robert Brown, a UH-1Y crew chief with HMLA-469, MAG-39, I MEF. “He comes in and does what he needs to do to get his job done. And now as a corporal, he keeps his Marines on track.”

Hibler accomplishes “whatever he sets his mind to” said Marine Corps Sgt. Eric Seaman, a UH-1Y crew chief with HMLA-469, MAG-39, I MEF.

“He’s already got a plan going, right now,” Seaman said of Hibler, “and as long as he continues on the outside world what he did here he will achieve whatever he needs to do.”

Aside from being part of an elite fighting force, Hibler explained that he was drawn to the Marine Corps by the opportunities that would be available when he completed his enlistment.

“When you’re in the Marine Corps, you meet so many people and open up avenues for yourself when you get out,” Hibler said. “Everybody likes to hire a veteran. Plus, you will always have that sense of pride of being a Marine.”

Plans for the Future

Hibler added that he has a plan to use his education in conjunction with the skills he gains during his military service.

“What I want to do is utilize my bachelor's in criminal justice and pursue one of the federal careers like the [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] or the [Drug Enforcement Agency],” Hibler said. “They all have helicopters so I want to try to pursue a career related to flying and stay working for a federal agency.”