Thursday, February 12, 2015

Face of Defense: Couple Will Still Be Valentines Across Miles

By Air Force Senior Airman Austin Harvill
633rd Air Base Wing

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va., Feb. 12, 2015 – Air Force Staff Sgt. Denise Brown remembers the day she flew from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, to Seattle, and the subsequent 10-hour plane ride to Japan.

It was Christmas week, and she would soon see her boyfriend, Johnny, for the first time since he moved earlier in 2014.

Brown, an F-15 and F-22 mission-capable supervisor for the 438th Supply Chain Operations Squadron here, said she knew the distance would make it hard to maintain their relationship, but that at no point did she regret her decision to stay together.

She was about to find out how much Johnny shared her sentiment.

A Christmas Proposal

"He proposed to me on Christmas Day, and of course, I said yes," Brown said. "From that point on, I knew we would make it, no matter the distance or the struggles we faced."

They married a week later. This year's Valentine's Day is the first one in their marriage, and they'll spend it apart, but they’ve found ways to not just bear their separation, but to grow from it.

"Whether preparing for a deployment, temporary duty, [permanent change of station] or anything else, there is nothing that can tear apart a solid relationship," she said. "It can be stressful to maintain the relationship while we are both on active duty, but it isn't impossible. Sometimes, it is even helpful."

Brown said she believes the need to keep their mental, spiritual, emotional and physical pillars strong lends to their success.

"We take time to schedule video calls, we have similar physical fitness goals, we maintain our work ethics, and we both exercise our spirituality," Brown said. "It isn't easy -- I won't lie -- but staying healthy individually makes our challenges more bearable."

Personal, Professional Lives Both Benefit

Air Force Senior Airman Johnny Brown, Sergeant Brown’s husband, is an F-15 crew chief for the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan. He said their lives as airmen and their marriage benefit each other.

"We understand our roles as airmen require us to stay strong, and it is a blessing to see that success positively impact our marriage," he said. "In turn, having a successful relationship also makes us [individually] stronger, so it is beneficial both ways."

Sergeant Brown said seeing the big picture is important in coping with separation from a loved one.

"I know the Air Force mission is important, and I know there will be more Valentine's Days to spend with him,” she said. “Understanding that life can be hard, accepting those curveballs and finding the positive aspects of a bad situation can make all the difference."

Perspective is a Choice

Sergeant Brown admits it’s easy to become lonely and frustrated with the separation, but she said her perspective ultimately is a choice.

"I choose not to have that attitude, and so can anyone else,” she said. “I don't think about how my husband is gone on Valentine's Day. “I am just grateful to have the best Valentine any one could ever ask for."

Sergeant Brown won't take a plane to see Airman Brown this Valentine’s Day. Due to the 13-hour time difference and his work shift, she may not even get to talk to him. But even though he is thousands of miles away, she said, she knows a quick prayer and a glance at the rings on her finger will put her Valentine right by her side.

Carter ‘Will Help Keep Our Military Strong,’ President Says

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2015 – Ash Carter, a former deputy defense secretary who today received a 93-5 affirmative vote by the U.S. Senate to succeed Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, received a welcome back and praise from President Barack Obama.

“Ash Carter served as a key leader of our national security team in the first years of my presidency, and with his overwhelming bipartisan confirmation by the Senate today, I’m proud to welcome him back as our next secretary of defense,” Obama said in a White House statement issued today. “With his decades of experience, Ash will help keep our military strong as we continue the fight against terrorist networks, modernize our alliances, and invest in new capabilities to keep our armed forces prepared for long-term threats.”

As secretary of defense, the president continued, “Ash will play a central role in our work with Congress to find a more responsible approach to defense spending that makes the department more efficient, preserves military readiness, and keeps faith with our men and women in uniform and their families.

“We have the strongest military in the history of the world,” Obama added, “and with Secretary Carter at the Pentagon and our troops serving bravely around the world, we’re going to keep it that way.”

Hagel will remain in office as defense secretary until Carter is sworn in.

Air Force Chief: Force Modernization Not Optional

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2015 – It is imperative to modernize the Air Force despite difficult budgeting choices that will have to be made, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said today in Orlando, Florida.

Speaking during the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition, the general discussed the need for force modernization.

“We must modernize the Air Force,” he said. “This isn’t optional; we must do it. And it will be painful, because we have to make very difficult choices to get the money inside our topline at current funding levels to do it.”

Aging Fleets

Welsh explained how aging fleets and less personnel strength can affect the Air Force’s mission.

“Most of you will remember Desert Shield and Desert Storm,” he said. “When we deployed in 1990 to that conflict, the United States Air Force had 188 fighter squadrons -- 188. In the FY ‘16 budget, we’ll go to 49; 188 to 49.”

Welsh noted in 1990, there were 511,000 active duty airmen; now the Air Force has 313,000 -- a 40 percent smaller force.

“There is no excess capacity anymore,” he said. “There is no bench to go to in the Air Force. Everything’s committed to the fight.”

“I’d love to be able to tell you that, that much smaller force is more modern, more capable [and] younger, but I can’t,” Welsh said.

Providing perspective on the age of the fleet, Welsh said during Desert Storm the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress wasn’t considered for bombing Baghdad.

“If we had used the B-17 in the first Gulf War,” he said, “it would have been five years younger at that time than the B-52, the KC-135 and the U-2 are today.”

“We have 12 fleets of airplanes … that qualify for antique license plates right here in the great state of Florida,” Welsh said. “And we have four that qualify for … [AARP].”

NASCAR Analogy

The general used a NASCAR race picture led by the #43 Air Force-sponsored stock car to further drive home his point.

“Four laps before this picture was taken, the 43 car had a four- to five-car-length lead,” Welsh said.

“For the last couple of laps, the #41 and #55 cars have been steadily closing,” he said. “The gap’s shrinking just like our technology lap, just like our capacity gap is shrinking.”

When do we get to the point, Welsh asked, where no matter how fast #43 tries to accelerate, the momentum gained by 41 and 55 puts them in the lead?

“That’s the game we’re playing,” he said. “Tough game; maybe a dangerous one.”

Resetting the Force

Welsh said Air Force leadership has been trying to reset some areas for the last couple of years.

“Not because they’re broken,” he said, “not because we’re not doing great work, but because we need to reset some things. We’ve done this before.”

Following World War I, Welsh said, the Army Air Corps noted the “big lessons” learned, which were reconnaissance and pursuit. Then, he said, during World War II the lessons of strategic bombardment became clear.

“We came out of World War II with this idea that strategic bombardment was the future of air forces,” Welsh said. Except for a tactical diversion in Korea, he said, the service’s leaders focused on building the best strategic Air Force they could.

The general said Vietnam yielded tactical lessons learned, which led to a “really good” tactical and strategic Air Force.

Then 1990 came, Welsh said, “and we made Operation Desert Storm look ridiculously easy.

“It wasn’t that easy, but we were that good and that large,” he said. “And then for the last 25 years, we’ve been fighting a different type of enemy -- a shadowy enemy, harder to pin down, harder to isolate.”

Serving in more of a counterinsurgency supporting role, Welsh said, the Air Force “revolutionized and gave birth” to an entirely new generation of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability, and a new understanding of how it could be used.

“Where we’ve come in the last 25 years in ISR is stunning,” he said. “We operationalized space capabilities; we jumped into the cyber domain. But it’s been about 25 years and that’s about the cycle for these resets –- it’s time to do it again.”

Next for the Air Force

Welsh noted there are specific areas in need for reset -- namely infrastructure.

“We’ve spent a lot of time lately taking money out of this [area] to pay for operational activity as our budgets were stressed,” he said.

“But there is infrastructure in our Air Force which creates mission capability,” Welsh said. “I’ll refer to it as critical mission infrastructure. This isn’t something [like] you can just not build another dorm and it won’t hurt you over time … this is stuff that will keep you from developing combat capability.”

This infrastructure, he said, includes test facilities, training ranges and simulation, education infrastructure and nuclear infrastructure -- things that the service cannot do without.

“We have got to get back,” Welsh said, “to a persistent, consistent investment in this kind of infrastructure, or our Air Force will break 10 years from now.”