Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: March, 2016 (15) Currently Viewing: 11 - 15 of 15

March 24, 2016 at 10:31am

JBLM not implementing new open-carry protocols

Despite that a few Air Force installations in the U.S. have recently authorized programs allowing an increased armed presence on base, at this time, Joint Base Lewis-McChord is not implementing new security measures.

The Unit Marshal Program, Security Forces Staff Arming, and Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, are protocols some Air Force installations have elected to follow, largely in response to guidance from Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in the summer after a series of mass shootings took place - including the incidents at a recruiting station and Navy Reserve Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where four marines and a sailor died, and others were wounded July 16.

The national conversation after the Chattanooga events centered on how to protect servicemembers at remote locations and recruiting offices, and whether or not arming troops at off-installation DoD facilities should be part of the solution.

According to Mathew Toth, deputy director, Directorate of Emergency Services, people are concerned for all the right reasons, but that doesn't mean JBLM can authorize just anyone to open-carry weapons on base.

Although the joint-base commander has the authority to arm additional servicemembers with government weapons, currently there is no plan to implement UMP or LEOSA programs at JBLM because force protection is well in-hand, Toth said.

The SFSA program is currently being used at JBLM by airmen with the 627th Security Forces Squadron, Toth said.

"Installation commanders have always had the authority to arm people up if they feel there is a threat," he said. "Under existing regulations, they have always had the authority and responsibility to protect their people, and that includes arming people up if necessary."

That decision, however, Toth said, must be based on a credible threat. JBLM has a robust security force in place that stands ready to counter any threat to the installation - active shooter scenarios included.

Unit Marshal Program - This new program's policies and procedures were finalized by the Air Force in November. Select airmen are chosen to train for the program that allows them to carry a government weapon during the duty day where they work.

The purpose is to immediately confront an active-shooter situation - a break glass in case of emergency type of situation, Toth said. The Army does not have a Unit Marshal Program, and the program has not been authorized at JBLM.

For more information or questions about carrying weapons on JBLM, call DES at 253.966.0666.

March 25, 2016 at 12:03pm

Chaplains enrich airmen's wings

Chaplain (Col.) Gary Califf, Air Force Reserve Command chief chaplain with citizen airmen from the 446th Airlift Wing Chaplain Corps during the March Reserve weekend here March 6, 2016. Courtesy photo

Rainier Wing citizen airmen congregated for a commander's call, filling Hangar 9 to the max during the Reserve weekend March 6, to hear messages from leadership, including Psychological Health and the wing chaplain.

After the assembly, Chaplain (Col.) Gary Califf, Air Force Reserve Command chief chaplain, shed light on the importance of these events framed through a chaplain's eyes.

"The Reserve Triad of family-job-(Air Force Reserve) duty results in a blur of demands for most of our citizen airmen," he said. "The Wingman Day provides a time to stop, smell the sweet flowers of success, hear the unit challenges from the (wing commander), and rally around important issues."

Without such events, which place everyone in the same place at the same time for the same messaging, people are just pieces of a large puzzle, Califf explained. Some call that stove-piping, but it really results in the feelings that people are detached from the whole.

Understanding where the pieces fit to accomplish a mission is a key component in how a wing acts as one.

"Everyone knows the Wing has a mission. However, at times we don't absorb the truth everyone prospers by feeling they're part of something larger than themselves," the Chaplain said. "My little job is meaningful, as is each sprocket in the wheel. To experience how it all fits together by having everyone participating in one cheering session, one topical briefing in the same room enhances everyone's effectiveness."

During the event, Jeannie Morrow, the 446th Airlift Wing director of Psychological Health, shared the struggle she has with her fear of flying. Her story resounded with Chaplain Califf, who further framed these battles through the eyes of a chaplain.

"We all struggle with something that affects our career, family and finances in bad ways," he said. "To decide to get the help one needs puts an end to the suffering we often bring on ourselves. And, as we know, when one part suffers - all are affected. The reminder to get assistance when things get difficult, before life spins out of control, yields a much healthier and effective unit pursuing mission accomplishment."

When asked to share his insight into the importance of the chaplain corps in providing spiritual care for airmen and their families, he passed a story.

"One commander I spoke with several years ago said, ‘when you have a good chaplain corps team in your wing, you know it. You feel it. You might not be able to measure it in metrics or chart it, but you just feel it, and you know it,'" Califf explained.

Listening is a vital element transforming a good chaplain into a great one.

"Great chaplains and chaplain assistants listen to the stories of airmen, discern what theme is helpful, and encourage folks to experience what they need at that time and place," he said. "We can listen and provide a perspective on ways of letting go, discovering peace. In the moral realms, the chaplain corps is a reminder of the sacred in life, important core values, and perhaps a divine presence."

Chaplains and chaplain assistants also serve as Religious Support Teams to meaningfully engage with troops in their workplaces in order to assess morale, and develop rapport with the troops, said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Pierre Allegre, 446th AW wing chaplain. Chaplains also provide pastoral care and counseling - which is 100-percent confidential - and advise commanders on matters concerning religion, ethics and unit morale.

"In the 446th, we try to speak encouraging words at commanders' calls in order to reach as many airmen as possible, in hopes that if we engage with them at those large events, they'll feel more inclined to come see us in the future if they ever have a need," Allegre said. "We also provide short worship services in various workplaces during the (Reserve weekends) - not only to meet the religious needs of airmen, but also to train to lead the kinds of worship services we're likely to conduct downrange when we deploy."

March 25, 2016 at 12:07pm

62nd Aerial Port airmen enable robust mission

"When the Air Force needs a squadron to do humanitarian relief in the Pacific theatre or even within the United States, they get this port to do it. That's how big of a deal this Eagle Port is," said Master Sgt. Robert Peaden.

Master Sgt. Robert Peaden, the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron First Sergeant, takes pride in the unit he serves with and has nothing but gratitude for the men and women who "are the Port."

"There's a lot of weight put on the shoulders of these airmen," he said. "They do so much more than load people and cargo to send across the world."

Peaden's knowledge of what the 62nd APS does stems from a personal connection to his time as a firefighter.

"The APS loaded firefighters and supplies to Wyoming to combat wildfires in Yellowstone National Park," he said.

As a former firefighter, Peaden knows just how vital having a reliable transportation and knowledgeable aerial port staff is to ensuring the trusted, responsive and safe global airlift.

The history of the 62nd APS began long before the C-17 Globemaster made an appearance in our McChord Field fleet in 1995.

In fact, the 62nd APS, formerly known as the 62nd Air Terminal Squadron, supported the scientific stations in the Arctic Ocean by airdropping supplies on drifting ice in 1962. Fast forward to 2016 and the 62nd APS is still supporting a similar mission called Operation Deep Freeze, albeit not on drifting ice anymore.

The unit moves all the supplies the 3,000 plus personnel need and require to survive and complete their research in the Arctic.

The 62nd APS is also currently providing support to the 610th Engineer Support Company missions going to Texas for border patrol support.

Their unique mission set and the airmen - civilian, active-duty and Reserve combined have hundreds of years experience. Perhaps it's their Port Dawg mentality that keeps them unified and successful.

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Patrick Fleishman and self-proclaimed Port Dawg, has spent more than 17 years at the port as an active-duty airman and now a civilian.

In his current role as the 62nd APS combat readiness center resources flight chief, Fleishman said everybody in the unit has a Port Dawg mentality with a can-do attitude.

"The deployment tempo is high and usually there are at least twenty-five people deployed in our unit," said Fleishman. "We stay busy supporting the air drop missions, joint related missions, Federal Emergency Management Agency missions and much more."

Fleishman said there is a lot of coordination, restrictions and effort that goes into providing airlift.

When it comes to delivering air transportation, the 62nd APS has been leading the way for more than six decades and will continue to do so.

March 25, 2016 at 12:16pm

Longtime JBLM civilian receives Bryce Lilly Service Award

Col. Leonard Kosinski (left), 62nd Airlift Wing commander, presents the Bryce Lilly Service Award to Mr. Charles Thornton (middle left), Joint Base Lewis-McChord Department of Services joint operations officer. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

Each year at the Team McChord Annual Awards Banquet, one special award is given called the Bryce Lilly Service Award. This award is given at the discretion of the wing commander to the military member, civilian employee, local business leader, community supporter or any other person directly involved in enhancing the quality of the military community at McChord Field.

At this year's awards banquet conducted March 11 at the McChord Club on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, that award was given to Mr. Charles Thornton, JBLM Department of Emergency Services joint operations officer for McChord Field.

"Since I've taken command of the 62nd Airlift Wing, I've been incredibly impressed with the team of dedicated airmen and civilians that make JBLM a premier power projection platform. Many individuals have stood out, but none more than Mr. Charles Thornton in being the epitome of The McChord Way ... Excellence, Innovation, Respect," said Col. Leonard Kosinski, 62nd AW commander.  "He has served his country proudly since his combat time in the Vietnam War and has continued to be that humble, servant leader to ensure we are taking care of our airmen, mission and families at Team McChord."

Unaware of his selection for this award, Thornton, known as "Mr. T" to most, listened as the emcee for the Team McChord Annual Awards Banquet read the script detailing his accomplishments.

"This year's Bryce Lilly Award recipient is a dedicated JBLM and local community member who exemplifies the traits of Bryce Lilly. This individual is a longstanding member of both communities who has supported JBLM events time and time again," said the emcee. "This member is an integral part of the success garnered by all of those participating in base distinguished visits, higher headquarters venues, on and off-base community events and ceremonies recognizing those fallen servicemembers who return through JBLM. This member is a vital part of the team and carries the Air Force core values in all they do."

It was then announced that Mr. Charles Thornton was this year's Bryce Lilly Service Award winner. Totally caught off guard, Thornton proceeded to receive his award in front of a standing ovation of more than 200 Team McChord members.

"I see him behind the scenes at every significant event we've had at JBLM and his standard of excellence and professionalism is unwavering," said Kosinski.  "It is not just me that believes it was important to recognize ‘Mr. T' as the Bryce Lilly Award recipient. I could see the expressions of many in the audience during the announcement at the Team McChord Awards Ceremony, and the response from all that know ‘Mr. T' and his service was overwhelming acknowledgement of him being the absolute right choice for this award."

Charles Thornton arrived to JBLM in December of 1979 from Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, and was assigned as the first superintendent for the 446th AW Security Police Squadron. He transitioned over to the 62nd Security Forces Squadron in 1985 and is currently working for DES under the joint basing construct.

In his time here, Thornton has become a pillar in the communities both on and off base.

He is involved in the Pierce County Police Chief's Association, the Washington State Behind the Badge Committee, the King County Stand With Those Who Serves Committee, the Pierce County Law Enforcement Memorial Committee, and the Thurston County Law Enforcement Working Committee.

He has been involved in base events such as the Air Mobility Command Rodeo, the JBLM Air Show and Open House, high-level distinguished visitor visits to include the President of Columbia and the Secretary of Defense, the return of Matthew Todd Miller and Kenneth Bae from North Korea, and has ensured the return of fallen servicemembers is treated with the utmost honor and respect.

March 31, 2016 at 3:08pm

Specially trained Security Forces airmen protect AMC assets

Ravens guard an Air Force plane. U.S. Air Force photo

In 1996, three specific events highlighted the need for on-the ground, close-in U.S. security at foreign airfields, which led to the establishment of the raven program.

In Mongolia, two children climbed into the wheel well of a C-141 after the aircrew conducted their walk-around. When the aircraft went to altitude, the children froze to death and later fell out of the wheel well as the aircraft landed. In Senegal, with no host nation security forces or AMC aircrew present, a second AMC aircraft was damaged by local nationals. Lastly, the Khobar Towers bombing, and the subsequent Downing Commission Report, re-enforced Force Protection as an inherent commander's responsibility.

The raven program was implemented in 1997 by former AMC commander, Gen. Walter Kross, to better protect military aircraft in an expeditionary environment. Although geographic combatant commanders are responsible for force protection in their theater, AMC recognized it was more practical to provide an organic fly-away security force for the complex missions that AMC and United States Transportation Command perform. In the past 19 years, ravens have protected assets in humanitarian relief missions, contingencies, and numerous named operations.

"Ravens travel as aircrew members on missions to help detect, deter, and counter threats to AMC aircraft and crews to ensure they can complete their mission," said Master Sgt. Greggery Gordon, AMC Phoenix Raven. Gordon has also been a raven since 2001.

A select group of Air Force Security Forces volunteers go through a qualification process and an intensive 22 days of training at the Air Force Expeditionary Center in order to become Phoenix Ravens. The training includes cross-cultural awareness, legal considerations, embassy operations, airfield survey methods, and unarmed self-defense techniques with more than 70 use-of-force scenarios. Ravens are taught to use the lowest level of force necessary, including verbal judo, which is used to deescalate a situation while gaining trust and cooperation of a subject.

"We review the curriculum and update the qualification course constantly to provide the best training possible," said Maj. Jodi DeDecker-Bubar, AMC Deputy Security Forces Contingency Operations Branch. "We currently have 117 funded positions; however, as of April 1, 2016, this will increase by twenty-one because of mission workload. In comparison, there were 250 plus ravens assigned following 9/11."

Each major command is responsible for implementing the way they conduct their fly-away security (FAS) program. AMC utilizes Phoenix Raven, because of the exclusive training they receive. AMC's Phoenix Raven Course has trained Guard and Reserve, sister service, and coalition ravens. The difference between the FAS teams and Phoenix Ravens is the length of the qualification course, UTCs, and specialized in-depth training.

"Ravens are trained to use discrete techniques and procedures; including weapons employment and by wearing flight suits to blend in with the aircrew," said DeDecker-Bubar.

Upon graduation of the course, ravens receive an individual lifetime numeric identifier, special experience identifier, and are authorized wear of the new raven tab. They also commit to being available 24/7 for a mission. Ravens average over 100 missions per month. Of the 19 years since the program evolved, 2015 was the second highest year for missions, with 1,394 completed. The program's busiest year was 2002, due to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom expanding, with 1,442 missions completed.

When a mission is loaded into the Global Decision Support System (GDSS) by the 618th Air Operations Center planners, AMC Raven Program Managers and the Threat Working Group review the mission and compare it to the AMC Phoenix Raven locations list.

Depending on the size of the aircraft and ground time at a raven required location, teams are tasked from one of the six hubs: Joint Base Lewis-McChord; Travis AFB, California; MacDill AFB, Florida; Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina; Dover AFB. Delaware and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

There are also ravens staged at overseas locations. Upon landing, ravens are the first members off the aircraft and the last ones on.

"The raven program safeguards our Nation's Rapid Global Mobility mission. These professional Security Forces airmen ensure the highest level of Force Protection for AMC's Strategic Airlift assets and personnel - no matter what the operating environment may be," said Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, Air Mobility Command commander.

Next year, the Phoenix Raven program will celebrate its 20th anniversary. For those interested in the program, please contact their supervisor and reference AFI 31-104_AMCSUP, Security Forces Specialized Missions for guidance.

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