Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: January, 2013 (8) Currently Viewing: 1 - 8 of 8

January 7, 2013 at 6:42am

Reserve recruiters rock the Tacoma Dome

The Air Force Reserve recruiters have a table set up amongst the Monster Jam crowd at the Tacoma Dome Jan. 5, 2013. This is the third year in a row the Air Force Reserve has sponsored Monster Jam. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Madelyn McCullough)

Similar to a group of friends working in sync to assemble a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, recruiters from the Western Reserve Squadron have the critical mission of searching for the missing pieces of the 2,200-strong members of the 446th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, McChord Field, Wash.

Over the January Reserve weekend, the recruiters were given a monstrous opportunity to flex their muscles at the Air Force Reserve sponsored Monster Jam, Jan. 4-6 here at the Tacoma Dome.

Senior Master Sgt. Kristyn Ervin, the senior recruiter for the 446th AW Recruiting Office, says events like Monster Jam provide an enormous ability to inform the public of the Reserve mission.

"We are looking to create Air Force Reserve awareness and also to generate leads for the 446th (AW)," Ervin, of Dupont, said.

Currently, the recruiters' main target is searching for future Airmen to satisfy key positions in the wing's maintenance and civil engineer squadrons.

Reserve volunteers from both the 446th Civil Engineer Squadron and 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aided the recruiters in representing the Air Force Reserve and the 446th AW during Monster Jam.

Airmen like Senior Airmen Nika Kliebert and Staff Sgt. Dustin Ballard, both out of the 446th CES, partnered with fellow wing mates from the 446th AMXS, Senior Airman Justin Drayer and Senior Airman Marcianco Quinonez-Cheeks to represent the core value of service before self before nearly 20,000 spectators.

"They volunteered were specifically chosen by their fellow squadron members," Ervin said.

The recruiters mingled with potential Citizen Airmen about the Air Force Reserve and the wing, while the Reservists spoke about the intricacies of their career fields.

"I'm talking to people about what I do on the maintenance side, and trying to recruit people as well," Quinonez-Cheeks said. "I'm informing them of the opportunities and benefits of the Air Force Reserve."

Ervin says using active Reservists are one of the best ways to recruit.

"It takes wing members to help recruiting," Ervin said.

After 15 years of recruiting, she says that even with new technology, it still boils down to good old fashion, face-to-face interaction.

Monster Jam is an extension of recruiting and working together, she said.

For more information on the 446th AW or the opportunities offered by the Air Force Reserve, call the 446th Recruiting Office at (253)982-6689.

For more information on the 446th Airlift Wing, Washington's only Reserve Flying unit, please join our Facebook page

January 8, 2013 at 7:11am

U.S., Canada think ahead to NORAD Next

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFPS) -- More than a half century since it was established to confront the Cold War threat, North American Aerospace Defense Command is at a new crossroads as officials in the United States and Canada determine the capabilities it will need to confront emerging challenges and threats in the decades ahead.

Members of the Permanent Joint Board of Defense, the highest-level defense and security forum between the two countries, discussed the so-called "NORAD Next" concept during their meeting in Colorado Springs, Colo., last month, Royal Canadian Air Force Lt. Gen. J.A.J. "Alain" Parent, NORAD's deputy commander, told American Forces Press Service.

The discussion was a first step toward a broad analysis to identify what threats and challenges the United States and Canada will face in the 2025-to-2030 timeframe -- and what steps need to be taken now to prepare for them, Parent said.

NORAD Next is largely a vision at this point, Parent emphasized, and any changes to the binational NORAD agreement would require both countries' approval. But vast changes in the security landscape have produced broad agreement that NORAD must continually evolve to meet challenges to North America, he said.

Throughout its history, adaptation has been one of NORAD's hallmarks, enabling it to remain relevant even as the geostrategic environment has changed, Parent noted.

The United States and Canada formed North American Air Defense Command in 1958, merging their air defense capabilities to provide a continental-scale ability to detect and intercept Soviet bombers, presumably carrying nuclear weapons, explained Lance Blyth, the NORAD command historian.

That same framework -- warning systems that ran across Canada and Alaska, fighter bases with interceptor aircraft and a command-and-control system that tied them together and with national command authorities -- adapted as intercontinental ballistic missiles became the more pressing threat, Blyth said.

This expanded mission led to NORAD's name change in 1981 to North American Aerospace Defense Command.

The command continued to provide aerospace warning and control for North America after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but also began to contribute its capabilities to counterdrug missions, predominantly focusing on airborne trafficking into the United States and Canada.

NORAD's sensors and interceptors supported this new law enforcement mission, providing intelligence to law enforcement agencies and serving as a catalyst for the close interagency collaboration that underpins NORAD's operations today, Blyth explained.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks shook NORAD to its very core, challenging the bedrock assumption on which it had been founded: that an attack on either of the two countries would emanate from outside their borders, he said.

Within hours of the attack, NORAD already had the go-ahead to stand up Operation Noble Eagle. Under this ongoing homeland defense mission, NORAD monitors and intercepts aircraft of interest within both U.S. and Canadian territory, and provides security support for major events ranging from G8 summits, political conventions to even the Super Bowl.

Operation Noble Eagle represented a sea change at NORAD, broadening its focus for the first time to address both internal as well as external threats against North America.

"We weren't postured to be looking inside the continent as we are today," Royal Canadian Air Force Brig. Gen. A.D. "Al" Meinzinger, deputy director of strategy in the NORAD and U.S. Northern Command policy and plans directorate, told American Forces Press Service. "But as a consequence of 9/11, we stood up a whole enterprise to be poised and positioned to deal with the internal threats," he added. "And we all understand that we need to be ready to respond on a moment's notice."

Another major step in that evolution took place in 2006, when U.S. and Canadian authorities expanded NORAD's mandate to address seaborne threats. This maritime-warning mission applies the command's capabilities to identify and track vessels of interest approaching either country's coast, and passing that intelligence to authorities that would intercept them.

More than a decade after 9/11, NORAD officials are widening their field of vision yet again as they discuss roles the command could play in addressing threats from a broad array of domains: air, space, sea, land and even cyberspace.

They also are working to identify what warning systems and processes will be required to address these threats, particularly as the life cycles of many of the current radars expire in the 2020-2025 timeframe.

"We need to think about what is beyond 2015, what the strategic environment will be, and what we need to be doing to move the command into that future," Meinzinger said.

NORAD Next, he said, will be the bumper sticker for that next big step in NORAD's evolution.

"NORAD Next will ensure that NORAD remains forever relevant and ever evolving," Parent said. "If we want to outpace the threats, we have to think in advance of them.

"The important thing," he continued, "is that we maintain relevancy and don't get surprises. The stakes are too big for our two counties to get surprised."

January 8, 2013 at 7:13am

Reservists to get help with travel vouchers

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga (AFNS) -- Air Force Reserve Command is adding resources and changing business practices to make travel voucher processing easier for reservists.

Throughout FY13 the command will increase the number of Defense Travel System travel technicians to assist reservists with their travel vouchers, according to Michael Burgess, AFRC chief of financial operations at Robins AFB. Placing travel technicians at the unit-level will help speed up the voucher process, Burgess said.

In addition, the Air Force Reserve Order Writing System (AROWS-R) will change some of its business rules used that allow travel orders to import into DTS for travel arrangements and subsequent voucher filing. Once these changes are implemented (known as DTS: Phase II), nearly two-thirds of the AROWS-R orders generated each month will be imported into DTS.

"Right now, at our tenant locations, when a reservist files a voucher it goes from the unit to the base financial services office and then to the Air Force Financial Services Center at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., for computation and payment," Burgess said. "If there is an error, the travel voucher gets sent back to the base for the member to correct the error. The process can be repeated several times before a reservist can settle a travel voucher." Using DTS will be reduced the delay from weeks to days.

DTS Phase II is already in play at Headquarters AFRC; Barksdale AFB, La.; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; and Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

Beginning in February, the command will lift the AROWS-R business rules for 5 additional locations, and complete the Phase II implementation at all units by mid-spring.

A potential roadblock to the plan is the filling of the 68 newly created travel technician positions at tenant units. By early December, the Reserve had filled 31 positions, according to Burgess.

Burgess said errors occur because the Reserve travel process is more complex than active duty.

"First, reservists have to be brought on orders before they begin travel," he explained. "They sometimes operate under multiple sets of orders, for example, back-to-back orders, overlapping orders, etc., and it can become a minefield of complexity."

Dedicated travel technicians, who understand Reserve travel peculiarities, will be able to spot issues and aid the reserve traveler in voucher processing in DTS.

"There's no doubt having dedicated travel technicians at the units will reduce the time it takes for reservists to settle their vouchers," Burgess said.

The Department of Defense has mandated that all travel be processed electronically through DTS by December 2013.

"Our goal is to have all travel vouchers processed through DTS by the deadline," Burgess said. "Realistically, there will still be some unique travel situations -- PCS vouchers being one type -- that don't work under DTS. We want to make the travel voucher process as easy as we can for our reservists."

January 10, 2013 at 1:20pm

Hundreds on first 2013 supplemental promotion list

Several hundred Air Force enlisted members were selected for promotion in the January supplemental promotion process, Air Force Personnel Center officials announced today.

To see the list, go to
Airmen on the supplemental list tested outside of their required cycle because of an extended temporary duty assignment or deployment in support of a contingency, promotion and testing representatives said.

Selection is based on overall promotion scores derived from Weighted Airman Promotion System factors, including time-in-grade, time-in-service, enlisted performance reports, decorations, promotion fitness examination score and specialty knowledge test score. For promotion to senior or chief master sergeant, it also includes board scores.

Promotion selections are tentative until the data verification process is complete; generally 10 days after the promotion release date.

For more information about enlisted promotions or other personnel issues, visit the myPers website at

January 21, 2013 at 2:58pm

75 day leave carryover extended

Airmen with more than 60 days of leave at the beginning of next fiscal year may be able to carry it into the next fiscal year thanks to a provision in the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act. The provision extends the maximum leave carryover of 75 days through Sept. 30, 2015, according to Senior Master Sgt. Kreig Cressione, Air Force Personnel Center Special Programs Branch Chief. 

For information about the military leave program and other personnel issues, visit the myPers website at

January 23, 2013 at 1:54pm

Making the most of military leave

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Have you considered the Air Force wants you to work 11 months of the year and the 12th month is yours to rest and recuperate? Most of the demands imposed at the office make it seem like you could work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and there would still be more to accomplish. Leave is important and needs to be budgeted and planned for like a paycheck.

Here are a couple thoughts that may improve your opportunity to take the leave you've earned:

First, plan your leave over the full year. Every September, you should look at the upcoming fiscal year and identify key events in your professional and personal life. Find out when major inspections are planned because leave usually isn't granted at that time. Mark off known or vulnerable periods for deployment. Identify all possible work conflicts like TDY, permanent change of station, and job recertification events. In your personal life, mark off known events such as the birth of a child, weddings, graduations and other significant life events. Also, if you have school-aged children, mark down when they are not in school. Finally, pick a couple options for a seven to 10 day period of vacation that works for everyone.

Second, prioritize when you want time off and share it with your supervisor. Is the priority for the family vacation or the brother's wedding? Most supervisors will be able to work with your requests if you prioritize them. The supervisor must accomplish the mission by balancing the work schedule with leave requests. They have a better chance of doing both if you share your leave desires in the form of a leave plan with a year outlook. It's not a guarantee, but having a plan is better than not planning at all.

Third, failure to plan in advance doesn't mean you'll get priority for "use or lose" in August and September. Some career fields are so tightly manned that only 10 percent or less are allowed on leave at a time.

Your leave is a deserved and valuable compensation for the hard work you put into this profession. Leave is an opportunity to invest valuable time in your family and in recreation to renew and refresh for the future. Learn to plan and budget your leave. The reward is knowing what your tasks are for the year and knowing when you'll have a chance to take the next break.

January 28, 2013 at 4:35pm

8th AS to deploy for overseas contingency

The 8th Airlift Squadron is scheduled to deploy Jan. 31 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

More than 60 Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing's 8th AS will depart for a
60-day deployment to the Middle East. They will be accompanied by Airmen
from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam,
Hawaii. The Airmen will take over operations of the 817th Expeditionary
Airlift Squadron.

The unit will operate out of two bases, managing and flying missions
concentrated in and around Southwest Asia. They are replacing the 10th AS,
which is scheduled to return in early February.

The mission of the 817th EAS is to provide global strategic airlift,
airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and humanitarian relief, to create an air
bridge for personnel, equipment and supplies throughout the assigned areas
of responsibility.

The 62nd AW's four active duty flying squadrons share responsibility for the
deployed squadron and rotate operating the 817th EAS continuously. The
deployments allow Air Mobility Command to consistently position assets
closer to the action.

January 31, 2013 at 2:00pm

McChord Airmen receive Silver, Bronze Stars

Staff Sgt. Sean Tobin Staff Sgt. Adam Krueger receives his Silver Star from Lt. Gen. Eric E. Fiel, Air Force Special Operations Command commander.

The most combat-decorated Air Force unit since the end of the Vietnam War named more heroes Jan. 23 and 24 during medal presentation ceremonies at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Ore.

The 24th Special Operations Wing gained one Silver Star, six Bronze Star medals with Valor, and seven Bronze Star medals when Airmen from the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron were recognized with the nation's third and fourth highest combat decorations.

"Like many, the Airmen's willingness to serve at the tip of the spear, directly going into harm's way to attack the enemy time after time, represents the best of America," said Col. Robert Armfield, commander of the 24th SOW. "We are proud to see their sacrifice recognized. It gives us a chance to pause for just a moment to thank these special operators and, more importantly, to recognize their families, who bear the burden of this relentless mission."

During the ceremony, Staff Sgt. Adam Krueger was awarded the Silver Star, the third highest combat military decoration in the U.S., for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States while engaged in military operations.

While on a foot patrol, his team was ambushed by an entrenched enemy less than 10 meters from the friendly position. The Army Special Forces team was immediately pinned down and then Senior Airman Krueger directed an F-15 strafing run within meters of his position to allow the friendly patrol to fight their way into a compound and establish a strong point.

"He took care of us on that day," said one of Krueger's Special Forces teammates, who attended the ceremony. During the subsequent 12-hour firefight, two Soldiers were hit with enemy rounds. Kruger exposed himself to enemy fire to direct another air attack to allow the wounded members to be moved to safety. He then exposed himself again to mark the landing zone for the medical evacuation helicopter, enabling the lifesaving patient evacuation. Airman Krueger also directed nine danger-close airstrikes.

Krueger's receipt of the medal marks the 32nd Silver Star earned by Air Force Special Operations Command Special Tactics Airmen since 9/11.

"It takes an uncommon bravery to put oneself in direct danger," said Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, AFSOC commander. "If I were to ask any one of these men what they think about these decorations, I'm sure that they would all humbly respond that they were just doing their job."

Fiel told the audience what doing their job and more means for a deployed combat controller as he described actions that resulted in the sixth Silver Star awarded to the 22nd STS.

"Repeatedly exposing oneself to enemy fire after being pinned down by a coordinated, lethal ambush, coordinating for nine danger-close air strikes which allowed your teammates to seek cover and recover wounded personnel, and providing suppressive fire while simultaneously marking a landing zone to enable a lifesaving patient evacuation, without regard to one's own safety, as Staff Sgt. Adam Krueger did, is more than just doing your job," he said.

Fiel also recognized the courageous actions of the Bronze Star and Bronze Star with Valor recipients. Many of the honorees were awarded their third or fourth Bronze Star, receiving oak leaf clusters to indicate subsequent awards.

The recipients contributed to coordinated air attacks, ground combat support, casualty medical evacuation capabilities, and lives saved, all while engaged in combat operations.

"Though each of these men are being recognized for their courage, these decorations were earned in years (of preparation) - through long physical, mental and technical training pipelines. Across experiences from previous deployments and through the lessons passed on by the men who bore the standard before them," Fiel said.

To earn the right to wear the scarlet beret, the mark of combat controllers, candidates must complete 35 weeks of initial training. Additional training for the career field includes pipeline courses which result in mastery of parachuting skills, combat diving, survival techniques, special tactics skills and qualifications in air traffic control. Lieutenant Colonel Thad Allen, 22 STS commander, who has known the Silver Star recipient since 2008, said like many other combat controllers across AFSOC, Krueger trained for years honing his skills to deal with the complexities of combat.

"Often, it's Senior Airmen, like Adam, making life or death decisions under fire, with potential strategic impact. That in and of itself is impressive," he said.


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