Monday, January 26, 2015

COPE SOUTH 15 launches in Bangladesh

by 1st Lt. Jake Bailey
Pacific Air Force Public Affairs

1/26/2015 - BAF BASE BANGABANDHU, Bangladesh  -- U.S. Air Force and Bangladesh air force personnel took to the sky Jan. 24 for the launch of Exercise COPE SOUTH 15, a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored, bilateral tactical airlift exercise at BAF Base Bangabandhu, Bangladesh.

Eighty U.S. Airmen along with three U.S. Air Force C-130H Hercules aircraft from the 36th Airlift Squadron, 374th Airlift Wing, Yokota Air Base, Japan, integrated with approximately 200 Bangladesh Air Force Airmen and one Bangladeshi C-130B during the exercise, which is scheduled through Jan. 30.

"COPE SOUTH provides valuable training for U.S. and Bangladeshi Airmen in air-land and airdrop delivery," said U.S. Air Force Lt Col Andrew Campbell, 36th Airlift Squadron commander. "Our work here is vital in contingency and disaster-response operations.  We build the personal relationships that, at a tactical level, enable us to help when disaster strikes and people are in need, not just in Bangladesh, but across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region."

Campbell said COPE SOUTH, and his squadron's activity with Indo-Asia-Pacific partners throughout the year, builds bonds that enable the region's forces to rapidly respond and operate shoulder-to-shoulder during any crisis.

The first day's operations built on previous COPE South exercises. U.S. Air Force crews safely airdropped Bangladeshi commandos using their host nation's airdrop procedures.

"My crews arrived in Bangladesh only 18 hours ago, and today, we airdropped supplies and personnel using our host's procedures," Campbell noted. "That's an uncommon capability made possible by our regular and enduring engagement that builds trust between my crews and our joint Bangladeshi partners. It's a capability unique to PACOM's assigned forces."  

BAF Group Captain Awal Hossain said exercises such as COPE SOUTH are particularly important to BAF response capabilities.

"Bangladesh is a flood-prone country, and we have been enhancing our capability, so we can drop men and materials in a disaster zone quickly and easily to support locals," Hossain said.

In addition to cooperative flight operations, during the exercise U.S. and BAF Airmen will conduct several subject matter expert exchanges focused on aircraft generation and recovery, day and night low-level navigation, airdrop and air-land tactics, aircraft maintenance procedures and rigging techniques.

"Already, it's clear this year's exercise is further advancing our mutual understanding of each other's capabilities and enhancing our ability to operate together," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Adam Staubach, COPE SOUTH 15 mission commander.

Samurai Readiness Inspection tests focused capabilities

by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Marasky
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

1/26/2015 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Airmen from the 374th Airlift Wing here recently underwent a Samurai Readiness Inspection that tested the wing's capabilities in a unique way.

Instead of a week-long scenario that tested the whole spectrum of contingency responses, the Wing Inspection Team focused the inspection on a few large, specific capabilities of the wing.

"In the past, exercises were designed to take specific scenarios and react to them, performing all the required tasks concurrently in response," said Maj. Gregory Kantz, 374th Inspector General director of inspections.  "This year, we developed an inspection calendar based on evaluating the Wing's ability to perform specific tasks because we understand that you can never know all of the possible scenarios that could occur."

While the focused inspections still use generalized scenarios to set the stage for inspections, the new format didn't test the entire spectrum, allowing the WIT team to more specifically target their efforts, Kantz said.

"We've intentionally removed some capabilities from the exercise scenario so that we can focus on fewer at a time," he said.  "This allows us to inspect at a much deeper level than we've been able to in the past."

The new inspection method was driven the by the 374th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Douglas DeLaMater, who wanted to test large, base driven plans and capabilities.

"We've seen in the past that we can test a number of capabilities at one time in small doses, by sampling off the top," DeLaMater said.  "What I wanted to do was to have our WIT focus on some of our larger tasks and capabilities, and to exercise those in a robust way that allows the Wing to really test its ability to carry out those missions."

Testing the larger and more robust capability in the more intensive manner created unique challenges for the WIT, who had to change their mindset for creating the exercise parameters.

"Due to the challenges associated with evaluating the plans that we did, we had to think outside of the box," Kantz said.  "This inspection was unique because we developed two sets of objectives; one was testing the Wing's ability to respond at the tactical level, while the other was more of an academic exercise to provide greater understanding of the base plan and to see where that would slowly go."

With the Super Bowl fast approaching, Kantz likened the new inspection model to training to play football.

"You don't learn how to play football by throwing on some pads and scrimmaging every day," he said.  "You practice the required skill sets first, and after you're proficient in those tasks, then you start to put it all together and play games."

As the wing continues to focus on testing the larger, fundamental pieces of its mission and slowly builds towards larger, more robust inspections in the future, DeLaMater has been impressed by the results so far and the motivation of the Airmen.

"As we've focused on these larger pieces in depth, we've learned a great deal that we can apply to our future exercises," he said.  "I'm excited to move forward, building larger, more robust inspections that allow the Airmen of the 374th to continue to show why we're the best Wing in the Pacific."

4 countries to participate with PACAF, USN during COPE NORTH 15

Release Number: 150126

1/26/2015 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- The U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force will conduct the 86th iteration of the annual exercise COPE NORTH 15 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Feb. 15 through 27.

Exercise CN15 is part of an annual, long-standing multilateral exercise, designed to enhance each countries' air operations. As part of COPE NORTH 15, additional participants from the Republic of Korea and New Zealand will join with the U.S., Japan and Australia forces to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training.

The U.S. Air Force and Navy will have approximately 1,300 participants; JASDF will have approximately 430 participants; RAAF will have approximately 240 participants; ROKAF will send approximately 20 participants; and RNZAF will send approximately eight. Approximately 100 USAF, USN, JASDF, and RAAF aircraft from 23 flying units will participate in the exercise.

CN15 marks the first year of Royal New Zealand Air Force participation in the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief portion of the training and the second year for the Republic of Korea Air Force's participation. This will also be the first time during a Cope North exercise that the USAF, ROKAF and RNZAF will conduct multilateral personnel recovery and search and rescue operations.

The first week of the exercise will consist of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training and air combat training. During the second part of the exercise, the focus will shift to large force employment training, fighter versus fighter air combat tactics training and air-to-ground strike mission training over the Farallon de Medinilla Range, 160 nautical miles north of Guam.

Since the first COPE NORTH exercise in 1978 at Misawa Air Base, Japan, thousands of U.S. and Japanese Airmen have honed skills vital to maintaining a high level of readiness, inherent to the stability of the region. CN15 is the fourth iteration that COPE NORTH will be a trilateral exercise with the U.S., Australia and Japan.

COPE NORTH was previously held in Japan as often as four times a year, and was moved to Andersen AFB, Guam, in 1999. The exercise is now held once a year, and continues to serve as a keystone event to promote stability and security throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Aircrew flight equipment saves lives

by Tech. Sgt. Daniel Condit
173rd Fghter Wing Public Affairs

1/23/2015 - KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. -- The mission of the 173rd Fighter Wing is the training and support of Air Force military professionals that can successfully serve our state and nation in times of war and peace. This mission cannot be accomplished without the dedication and skill of its Airmen, such as Staff Sgt. Christopher Hernandez.

Hernandez is an Aircrew Flight Equipment specialist tasked with the maintenance and quality control of flight equipment. He is responsible for the equipment that sustains a pilot's life both inside and outside the aircraft.

Hernandez duties range from preventive maintenance, post flight equipment inspection, to fitting of equipment for new pilots--including the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System. JHMCS is a helmet designed to provide the pilot with real-time alerts and weapons information in their visor, similar to the one warn by the Apache helicopter pilots.

Hernandez says he chose to become an AFE specialist because he wanted the challenge and liked the idea of being hands-on.

"I liked the fact there was a lot to take care of, diversity of duties, and providing support for vital systems that keep our pilots alive; it keeps the job interesting and free from monotony," he said.

Hernandez's training extends from technical school to Survival Evasion Resistance Escape and water survival training. This training provides first-hand knowledge of what a pilot may go through in an emergency. This is also the reason AFE specialist fly in the backseat of the jet whenever they get a chance.

"Attending SERE, water survival, and conducting familiarization rides gives us an opportunity to put ourselves in the pilots boots letting us experience how the equipment functions in a operational environment," he said.

In the span of an hour Hernandez performs a quality control check on a harness, survival kit, and a parachute attachment point.  He ensures a calibration check on the JHMCS helmet, while accessing no less than four separate technical orders.

Hernandez notes that there are numerous pieces of equipment he is responsible for, each one providing a different life-sustaining function for the pilot.

He explains how to perform a functionality check of the waterproof "poopie" suits, and how all the various components he is responsible for work together in the airframe to ensure the pilot is as safe as possible. He continues to explain the functionality of a new g-suit which applies pressure to more points of the body during high-g maneuvers helping the pilot stave off g-force induced loss of consciousness.

Attention to detail is emphasized as he holds up a harness logbook and points out, "this harness comes out of service in less than a month, so I need to be thinking about building a new one right now."

Hernandez never repeats himself and cites regulations, best practices and how important it is to document the work; he works like lives depend on it--they do.

Goodbye snow; hello 'Snowbird'

by 127th Wing Public Affairs

1/24/2015 - SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- About 200 Airmen and 10 aircraft from the 127th Wing here deployed to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Jan. 23 to participate in Operation Snowbird.

Operation Snowbird allows military flying units to take advantage of the optimal weather conditions and live-fire ranges available in southern Arizona during the winter months when home station training may be hampered by inclement weather such as snow and ice.

The men and women from various units of the 127th Wing support, operate and maintain the Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft mission.

By deploying to Arizona, Selfridge Airmen also have an opportunity to train and work together in a high-tempo environment. The 107th Fighter Squadron Airmen from the 127th Wing will have more opportunities for sorties during the two-week deployment, almost doubling the number of flights performed each day at Selfridge.  The Michigan Air National Guard unit's focus will be on search and recovery training with local rescue squadrons stationed at Davis-Monthan.

"Training at Davis-Monthan in Snowbird is like a srimmage before playing in the big game," Lt. Col. Shawn Holtz, 107th Fighter Squadron commander.  "Everybody gets a chance to sharpen their skills and build up the team."

The A-10, originally designed for close air support, provides an ideal platform to provide support to rescue operations in potential close proximity to opposition ground forces. The A-10 can also provide airborne command and control support to rescue operations, as well as serve in air interdiction and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capacities.

Guard Soldiers, Airmen Respond to Northeast Storm

By Eric Durr
New York National Guard

LATHAM, N.Y., Jan. 26, 2015 – As blizzard warnings were being issued for the Northeast this morning, the New York National Guard put 260 soldiers and airmen on duty to assist in New York’s response to the storm.

Army and Air National Guard units on Long Island, in New York City and in the Hudson Valley were ordered to mobilize their initial response forces. Meanwhile, the 204th Engineer Battalion -- with headquarters in Binghamton and elements in the Hudson Valley and New York’s Southern Tier counties -- was directed to send snow-moving equipment and personnel to Long Island.

Initial response forces were stood up at:

-- F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base at Westhampton Beach on Long Island;

-- Farmingdale Armed Forces Reserve Center at Farmingdale on Long Island;

-- The Manor Road Armory complex on Staten Island; and

-- The Peekskill Armory in the Hudson Valley.

Stewart Air National Guard Base at Newburgh in the Hudson Valley also prepared.

Teams Prepared for 24-hour Operations

Each initial response force unit consists of 20 soldiers and airmen with five Humvees. The teams are prepared for 24-hour operations.

The response forces can conduct traffic control in support of local police agencies or move critical personnel and supplies as required.

And additional 25 vehicles and up to 50 personnel have been assigned to support fire department emergency medical service locations in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. These military vehicles are on call to help move people and equipment as required by civilian first responders.

The 204th Engineer Company dispatched four front-end loaders, 10 dump trucks and seven small skid-steer front-end loaders, along with operators, to the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Farmingdale. The soldiers and equipment will be hand call if needed to assist in clearing snow.

Seventeen of the soldiers came from the 152nd Engineer Company in Buffalo. In November, the soldiers of the 152nd were among the first New York National Guard units to respond to a massive lake-effect storm that hit Erie County in November.

The New York National Guard stood up its Joint Operation Center here to coordinate the response, while dispatching liaison officers to New York City’s Office of Emergency Management and county and regional emergency management centers in Nassau and Suffolk County on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley.

The New York National Guard’s Joint Task Force Empire Shield, a security augmentation force operating in transportation hubs in New York City, remains on duty at LaGuardia Airport and JFK International Airport and at Pennsylvania Station, Grand Central Station and the Port Authority Trans-Hudson terminal.

Other Guard Personnel Poised to Respond

National Guard personnel also are poised today in other Northeastern states to assist local authorities during an expected massive snowfall, one described by the National Weather Service as a storm of “historic” proportions.

In Connecticut, 250 personnel were expected to be on duty by tonight, providing highway assistance. Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy ordered a travel ban on state highways in response to the expected winter storm. That ban begins at 9 p.m. EST.

“Although storms can be unpredictable, this storm has the potential to have a significant impact on the state and we need to be prepared,” Malloy said. “Just as the state is monitoring and preparing, the public should do the same.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Steve Marshall of the National Guard Bureau contributed to this report.)

Face of Defense: Medic Learns Benefits of Blood Donations

By Shannon Collins
DoD News Features, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2015 – San Antonio Military Medical Center officials at Joint Base San Antonio in Texas encourage people to donate to the Armed Services Blood Program, because the blood directly supports warfighters downrange as well as trauma and burn patients there and other military treatment facilities and Veterans Affairs facilities.

“Whether it’s a trauma patient, burn patient or one of our patients up in the bone marrow transplant unit who needs blood, we need blood every day,” said Mark Salcedo, a blood donor recruiter and public affairs specialist at the medical center’s Akeroyd Blood Donor Center. “Whether it’s here in San Antonio, downrange, wherever, we want to make sure our patients have what they need when they need it. That can only happen when we have blood donors. Thank you to the ones who come in to make sure our patients have what they need, and we invite those who are considering donating.”

Burn Patients Need Blood

Army Master Sgt. Matthew Aaron Deller learned firsthand the benefits of blood donations. On Dec. 8, 2013, he was starting a fire in his fireplace and didn’t know there was a gas leak. It exploded, causing him to be burned over 77 percent of his body. He has since undergone a total of 14 procedures.

Burn patients may not need blood when they are initially seen, but may need blood transfusions during the grafting of their burn wounds during the subsequent surgeries, said Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Wylan Peterson, deputy director of the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center.

“The excision and grafting of burn wounds causes a significant amount of blood loss,” he explained. “As a result, the patients rely on blood transfusions in order to survive these procedures. For example, a patient who suffers from 20 percent total body surface area burn injuries may lose up to three liters or more of blood during surgery.”

Peterson said sometimes a burn victim has a rare blood type.

“We have had a few patients who have had rare blood types, which required our blood bank to place citywide requests for blood donors,” he said. “These are instances when blood donations make a difference.”

A Grateful Recipient

Deller said he doesn’t know how much blood he has received, but he knows it was quite a bit as he underwent major skin graft work. He said if he met the people who donated the blood he received, he would thank them.

“I would hug them first and just say thank you,” he said. “I know that it saved my life.”

Deller, who has served in the Army for 17 years, said when he was a first sergeant, his students used to ask him about donating blood and where the blood would go.

“Knowing it was going to fellow soldiers was a big deal to them,” he said. “I’m a combat medic, and I’ve been deployed a few times. I’ve seen its direct effect on the battlefield and now being a recipient, it’s a big deal. It’s huge.”

He said if students ask him about the program now, “I’m going to tell them I’m alive because of it, and I’m going to stress the importance of it even more so, because I’m a recipient.”

Deller said he was given a negative 12 percent chance of living and when he woke up the first time from his coma. He couldn’t wiggle his toes, couldn’t breathe on his own, and couldn’t do anything without the help of a machine.

“The only thing I had was being able to cry. That was the only thing I had control over, and I did,” he said. “After that, I said you know what, I’m going to live, and if I’m going to live, I’m going to do everything I used to do. The rehabilitation staff, the Army trained physicians and nurses and DoD trained staff, it’s amazing what they do on a day-to-day basis with not just me but with everybody else who’s been through something as traumatic as what I’ve been through or even worse. I’m very lucky.”

Deller said his family and the battle buddies who didn’t make it home inspire him in his recovery.

“There’s nothing more inspiring than thinking about my children and my friends -- those that we’ve lost, those I’ve personally lost, and that hits home -- and I’ve just got to stay alive, and I’ve got to keep fighting to honor their memory and to be there for my own children,” he said.

Armed Services Blood Program

The ASBP provides quality blood products for service members, veterans and their families in both peace and war. As a joint operation among the military services, the many components work together to collect, process, store, distribute and transfuse blood worldwide, said Army Lt. Col. Jose Quesada, chief of blood services at Brooke Army Medical Center.

Each working day, the staff of the Akeroyd Blood Donor Center at Joint Base San Antonio conducts blood drives to support the program. The primary mission of the blood donor center is to support the overseas blood support detachments and medical treatment facilities. Additional products support the San Antonio Military Medical Center’s day-to-day requirement for traumas, burn patients and surgical cases.

For more than 60 years, the Armed Services Blood Program has been collecting, processing and distributing blood products for the military community. It operates more than 20 blood donor centers worldwide.

The Importance of Donors

January is National Blood Donor Month, but the need for donations does not cease at the end of the month, because blood is perishable. Quesada encourages everyone to donate to ASBP.

“Without our blood donors, our patients may not go home,” he said. “Whether it was blood for a patient here at the San Antonio Military Medical Center or for a combat casualty overseas, we need blood donors. We thank them for giving a little of themselves to ensure our patients have what they need when they need it. We thank them for their time and support to our missions.

Transcom System Brings DoD New Capability to Move Patients

From a U.S. Transportation Command News Release

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill., Jan. 26, 2015 – U.S. Transportation Command has rolled out a new capability that will allow the Defense Department to use air transport to move multiple patients with highly infectious diseases.

Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, Transcom commander, introduced the Transport Isolation System here Jan. 23.

TIS has reached initial operational capability, and crews are trained and ready to deploy anywhere in the world in response to a biological event.

The need for such a system came to light During Operation United Assistance, Transcom officials said. Although a commercial company could transport patients, its capacity to do so was limited.

Agencies Converge for Quick Results

A convergence of many agencies quickly moved on acquiring the system, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Transcom, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Joint Project Manager Protection, Air Mobility Command, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, among others.

The Joint Chiefs approved a Transcom request for urgent funding in September, and in less than four months, the TIS went from development through testing and evaluation into production.

Air Force Maj. Gen. John P. Horner, DTRA deputy director; Barry Corona, president of Production Products; Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott M. Hanson, AMC director of operations; and Air Force Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Kory Cornum, AMC command surgeon, joined Selva in the public debut of the system.

“We needed a system like the one you see today,” Selva said. “In short order, we partnered with our technical experts at DTRA, and in about 120 days from the day we said “Go” to the day we had a flight-tested, ready piece of equipment, they delivered.”

But it’s more than just a rapid acquisition-to-fielding success story, Transcom officials said, adding that it also showcases the initiative and innovation of a small minority-owned business, Production Products of St. Louis, which manufactured the commercial isolation units that have been used to air transport patients and now produces the TIS.

“It was a team effort,” Corona said. “Every day, we had people from Transcom in our shop. Everyone that was on this team made it happen in an amazingly short period of time.”

Built to Fit on Existing Transport Aircraft

The system is built to fit on existing mobility aircraft, including the Air Force’s C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster III transports, and is based on existing military patient support pallets. Each unit has a disposable liner supported by a metal structure and an air filtration system.

“The infectious disease module provides us a safe way to bring multiple patients back,” Cornum said.

Compared to the current Production Products system used on commercial air ambulances, the TIS is modular, buildable and capable of transporting up to three litter patients or four ambulatory patients in each module. This allows for flexibility in configuration; the standard configuration is for two seats and one litter.

Two isolation modules and an anteroom module can fit on a C-17 or C-130J Super Hercules, and one isolation module and an anteroom module will fit on a C-130 Hercules. Each module is roughly 9 feet by 7.5 feet, is 8.5 feet tall and weighs less than 1,500 pounds, about the size of a minivan.

The Defense Department has ordered 25 systems from Production Products, with expected delivery of all units by the end of March. Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, has received the first two systems for training and staging. Additional staging locations for the TIS will be developed following delivery and based upon ongoing world events, officials said.