MacDill Airmen watch over DOD aircraft in foreign nations

MacDill Airmen watch over DOD aircraft in foreign nationsMACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS)

A single error on an airport approach procedure can put the lives of pilots, crew members and their passengers in danger. To protect Defense Department aircraft, specialized teams of air traffic controllers personally ensure they land safely when flying abroad.

The Terminal Instrument Procedures (TERPS) team at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, works with nations in Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico.

Although they report directly to headquarters Air Mobility Command at Scott AFB, Illinois, the team is housed at MacDill AFB to be near the countries in their areas of responsibility (AOR).

“Each of us has our own countries that we deal with on a daily basis. That way we always maintain continuity of what is happening in the country,” said Tech. Sgt. Bruce Dally, a TERPS specialist assigned to the AMC Air Operations Squadron. “We get the host nation’s information off the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) website, and then rebuild it into our software and apply Air Force criteria to it.”

This special duty was created following a tragic accident in April 1996 when U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown and 34 other passengers and crew members were killed when their aircraft crashed into a mountain at Dubrovnik Airport, Croatia. An accident investigation board concluded that the cause of the crash was pilot error and a poorly designed approach procedure.

In response, the defense secretary put a policy in place requiring all DOD aircraft Foreign Terminal Instrument Procedures (FTIP) be evaluated and reviewed by a TERPS office before pilots take off on a mission.

Currently, there are four specified areas of responsibility for FTIP that fall under major commands, which includes Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Air Combat Command and AMC. Everything the specialists do is for safety, which means even the smallest changes are recorded.

“We review and publish procedures supporting all DOD aircraft, including for the president, that fly into the AOR,” said Dwayne Emsweller, the TERPS chief assigned to the AMC AOS. “We review more than 1,200 procedures a year, and more than 600 procedures are published.”

However, the TERPS specialists cannot rely on the NGA website alone. They also work closely with their host nation counterparts for updated information, and each specialist visits their assigned countries, big or small, to build strong, trusting partnerships.

One of these established partnerships was called on in 2010 when a massive earthquake devastated Haiti, and a way to provide humanitarian aid was quickly needed.

It just so happened that six months before the crisis, Emsweller received a call from a U.S. Southern Command member in the Dominican Republic asking for assistance to get newly installed navigational equipment inspected at a host nation military airfield. Although it wasn’t his job to request this type of inspection, Emsweller was the AOR expert.

“We assisted with everything they needed to get the inspections completed, which was for one of their military airfields; San Isidro,” Emsweller explained. “When the Haiti crisis happened, the first place we wanted to stage out of was San Isidro.”

With the Dominican Republic located adjacent to Haiti, access to San Isidro gave the U.S. forces a way to quickly respond with humanitarian support.

“Something may not be our job, but as the AOR experts, we try to help out any way we can,” he said. “The troops are air traffic controllers, but when they are assigned to the unit, they are Air Force ambassadors.”

It is through enhancing partnerships with host nations that TERPS specialists are able to help ensure the Air Force can safely execute rapid global mobility.

AF announces stand up of Integrated Wing

AF announces stand up of Integrated WingWASHINGTON (AFNS)

The Air Force will stand up an Integrated Wing pilot program at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, according to Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James.

“The Air Force remains on its flight path toward increasing our effectiveness and efficiency as an integrated total force service while meeting our nation’s military objectives,” James said. “The Integrated Wing concept is an opportunity to more fully integrate and break down barriers between the components as we operate as one Air Force.”

The I-Wing concept evolved from an extensive review and analysis of Congress’ National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force report, originally delivered in 2014. The I-Wing is an in-garrison model designed to better leverage the strengths of each component while balancing capacity, capability and readiness. Although there are several possible I-Wing models, all are designed to functionally integrate similar organizations and streamline chains of command in order to more effectively meet mission requirements. In our current fiscally constrained environment, initial analysis suggests this new total force construct could help the Air Force more effectively provide mission capability and capacity at best value.

The I-Wing is scheduled for initial operational capability in fiscal year 2017. If successful, this model has the potential, together with the highly successful unit associate program, to offer home station commanders another organizational construct to meet mission requirements. The testing phase is expected to take three years, but planners will adjust the timeline as necessary. Lessons learned from the initial I-Wing testing will influence the scope and timing of follow-on locations.

“We are excited about this opportunity to test our highly successful active association at the 916th (Air Refueling Wing) with a new Integrated Wing model,” said Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, the chief of Air Force Reserve. “This pilot program will determine whether additional synergies can be garnered at this unit during the test and whether any lessons learned are repeatable at other locations in the Air Force.”

The I-Wing structure will not be identical, nor implemented, at every location due to the complexities inherent in each organization. It is also not designed to replace successful unit organizations. Factors such as location, mission, airframe, and composition will necessitate tailoring the exact structure and framework to effectively accomplish the mission while still taking care of our Airmen and families.

Currently, Air Reserve component and active component Airmen are working together in an active association at Seymour Johnson AFB. The 911th Air Refueling Squadron, an active component tanker unit, functionally falls within the organization of the 916th ARW, an Air Force Reserve Command wing, but reports administratively to the 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill AFB, Florida. Under the current construct, the organizations work together but are administratively separate, with two corresponding chains of command. In the new I-Wing model, all units will effectively function as a single organization to accomplish the mission.

“The Air Force is always looking for ways to better integrate our components, from the Air Staff to the tactical level. It’s all about making the Air Force more effective and efficient,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. “We believe the Integrated Wing is one of the concepts that will take us to the next level of that effort.”

Specific implementation details, such as final wing structure, unit manning documents, and required exceptions to policy are still in concept development, and courses of action will be finalized prior to the I-Wing’s initial operating capability date.

Black history museum is retired chief’s passion

Black history museum is retired chief’s passionTHOMASVILLE, Ga. (AFNS)

(This feature is part of the “Through Airmen’s Eyes” series. These stories focus on individual Airmen, highlighting their Air Force story.)

Winter is the busiest time of year at a black history museum here named after its founder a city native and retired Airman, who remains the driving force behind the collection of more than 5,000 items, most of them acquired locally.

“We have so many visitors in February for Black History Month that we can’t handle them all,” retired Chief Master Sgt. James Roosevelt “Jack” Hadley said. “We have to ask some to come in March.”

The 79 year old’s personal touch is all over the Jack Hadley Black History Museum, which is housed in a former elementary school. As part of its monthlong tribute to African-Americans, it will host a free Buffalo Soldier Heritage Festival 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 27. Dr. Tom Phillips, co-author of “The Black Regulars: 1866-1898,” will talk about the original Buffalo Soldiers, blacks who served in the Army on the western frontier in the ensuing decades after the Civil War. Buffalo Soldier re-enactors will participate at the fest, as will members of a national motorcycle club named after the historic black GIs.

Hadley tends constantly to the collection, said retired Air Force Reserve Senior Master Sgt. Walter Leslie, a member of the museum’s board of directors.

“He is the go-to guy for local black history. It’s his passion,” Leslie said.

Hadley grew up at Pebble Hill, a former Thomasville cotton plantation. Three decades after slavery was abolished, the property was purchased by an Ohio family who ran it for decades as a shooting estate where wealthy northerners hunted quail as an escape from frigid winters. It was still being used largely for hunting at the time of Hadley’s birth in 1936. The property now hosts tours, arts events, weddings and other celebrations.

Hadley joined the Air Force upon graduating Thomasville’s Frederick Douglass High School in 1956, eight years after President Harry Truman integrated the military services via an executive order.

“I was a supply guy, logistics, a box kicker,” he said. “I knew I had to bust my (butt), being black, to get recognized.”

He married a classmate, Christine Jackson, who had grown up on a different Thomasville plantation, Greenwood. They raised three children and moved 14 times during Hadley’s 28-year career. He started to develop a deeper interest in the American experience and achievements of those from his race in the late 1970s when he helped his son, Jim, put together a black history project for a school assignment when the family lived in Wiesbaden, West Germany. Hadley later presented it at his squadron before storing it for future use.

After retiring, the Hadleys returned to Thomasville, and the chief went to work for the U.S. Postal Service. He displayed the research project at a church, where it caught the eye of the director of the Thomasville Cultural Center for the Arts and Heritage Foundation, who invited him to participate in the city’s Black History Month events. He started to collect local items of black history and eventually had so much that he began to think of how best to share it with others.

Hadley signed a deed for the school property in 2003, paying $10 for the 7-acre site and $10 for surplus furniture. He raised $82,000 in the next few years, enough for the museum to open its doors in December 2006. He estimated that two-thirds of the collection is material from the surrounding area, giving visitors a feel for the lives of local African-Americans from slavery, through the post-Civil War Reconstruction period and into the Jim Crow era. Hadley experienced the latter firsthand as a child and teen. The museum features extensive information about early black educators in Thomas County and has a tribute to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, an author and historian who, in 1926, started a weeklong celebration of black history that expanded to Black History Month 50 years later.

Hadley co-authored the 2000 book “African-American Life On the Southern Hunting Plantation” with Dr. Titus Brown, associate professor of African-American history at Florida A&M University, after conducting many interviews with his elders from Pebble Hill and surrounding plantations.

Leslie, the museum board member and retired Airman, is a native of La Grange, Georgia. He moved to Thomasville, his wife’s hometown, in 2012 after 26 years in California where he worked in information management before becoming a unit historian at March Air Reserve Base.

“I hated history in high school,” Leslie said. “The Air Force made me like it.”

An acquaintance introduced him to Hadley, who persuaded him to help at the museum.

“His enthusiasm was contagious. It was overwhelming. I couldn’t say no to him,” said Leslie, 56, who works at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, Florida.

He occasionally shadows Hadley as he leads tours, trying to absorb all of his knowledge.

“I’m not there yet,” Leslie said. “Sometimes the responses you get from kids are breathtaking. Some of the things you see (on display) in here are not encouraging.”

Hadley’s goals for the museum include increasing visitors to make it sustainable and to recruit an executive director to succeed him upon his eventual retirement.

“I’m into it for the kids,” Hadley said. “They say ‘Wow.’ I do it so (they) don’t forget their heritage, I really do. It’s hard work, not easy. It costs $2,300 a month to keep the doors open.”

Cody testifies to the readiness, resilience of Airmen, families

Cody testifies to the readiness, resilience of Airmen, familiesWASHINGTON (AFNS)

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody testified on the quality of life in the military before the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs on Capitol Hill Feb. 26.

“There is no doubt today’s Airmen are the most talented, educated and experienced force our country has ever assembled,” Cody said. “They are professional men and women who are proud to serve, but remain concerned as fiscal restraints limit their capacity to accomplish the mission and erode at the compensation they earn in service to our nation.”

During his testimony, Cody focused on several areas concerning the service’s quality of life, to include compensation and readiness.

“Our Airmen continue to provide the preponderance of combat force against our adversaries around the globe,” Cody said.

Cody testified that from 2012 to 2015 limited budgets have forced the Air Force to cut its manpower by nearly 24,000 Airmen on active duty and in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. However, combat operations around the globe have remained steady for the Air Force in some areas while escalating in others; as of this January there are 24,000 Airmen deployed worldwide.

“In that same time period, diminished budgets have forced the slowing of normal growth in compensation, and have begun to cut at our Airmen’s buying power,” Cody said.

According to Cody’s written statement, the fiscal year 2017 budget request grows the active force to 317,000 Airmen in order to meet global warfighting requirements. The plan requires a focused effort to ensure critical resources are available in a timely manner in the recruiting, accession and training pipelines. The Air Force has met accession requirements for the past 16 years.

“We plan to monitor the recently enacted compensation changes to ensure they do not hurt recruiting and retention,” Cody said.

Cody also stated 2015 was an extremely difficult year due to the highest number of suicides in his tenure as the chief master sergeant of the Air Force. “We must, and will, do more to combat suicide and prevent Airmen from making a terrible, life-ending decision,” Cody writes. He added that following a suicide prevention summit in September 2015, Air Force leadership directed working groups to define specific actions to reduce interpersonal and self-directed violence and destructive behaviors.

Cody closed his opening comments by reinforcing the nation’s responsibility to the men and women who serve.

“As we continue to implement these reform measures, including changes to retirement, basic allowance for housing, Tricare and more, we must never lose sight of the full impact on our Airmen’s readiness and resilience,” Cody said. “The Airmen who serve today do so freely, proudly and voluntarily because they believe in what America stands for and are ready to defend its cause, but our nation must honor that commitment by providing for them and their families.”

New runway opens, enhances readiness

New runway opens, enhances readinessOSAN AIR BASE, South Korea (AFNS)

The Army Corps of Engineers, 51st Civil Engineer and 51st Operations Support Squadron completed a five-year project of constructing a new runway for Osan Air Base and began flying operations in January.

Osan AB has the Air Force’s oldest runway, constructed in 1952, which supported operations from the Korean War’s F-86 Sabres to today’s A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and F-16 Fighting Falcons.

“After over 60 years of use, our (old) runway made our increasing need of delivering air superiority a challenge,” said Johnny Duraccio, the 51st OSS airfield manager. “If one of the runways goes down due to maintenance, we have backup capabilities from the other, so we can sustain our training and combat missions.

“This new runway enhances our combat capabilities by expanding the (51st FW) commander’s vision and philosophy of ‘Fight Tonight’ readiness,” he added.

Construction on the new runway began in 2011 under the Land Partnership Plan, an agreement between U.S. Forces Korea and South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense to reshape the posture of U.S. military forces in the country.

After opening the new runway for operations, the 51st CES is scheduled to begin repairs on the old runway this fall.

AF implements new DOD-wide changes to maternity leave

AF implements new DOD-wide changes to maternity leaveWASHINGTON (AFNS)

Editor’s note: The Office of the Secretary of Defense clarified the expanded maternity leave effective date of Feb. 2.

Beginning Feb. 2, active-duty female Airmen will receive up to 12 continuous, non-transferable weeks of fully paid maternity leave in accordance with Defense Department-wide changes to the policy outlined in Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s Force of the Future announcement Jan. 28.

This new policy applies to all Airmen in the active-duty component, and those Reserve component service members on orders to active service for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

“This change, like many others we’ve made, will help ensure our high-performing female Airmen can continue to serve both their families and the Air Force,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “In this case, these Airmen can concentrate on their family without the undue stress or pressure associated with returning to their job on a short timeline. This change in policy carefully balances mission effectiveness with our ongoing efforts to retain talent.”

Airmen who are currently on maternity leave will automatically be granted a 42-day extension. Those Airmen currently on approved ordinary leave in conjunction with their maternity leave are authorized to convert their regular leave to non-chargeable maternity leave, not to exceed a total of 12 weeks.

Commanders may not disapprove maternity leave, which begins immediately following a birth event or release from hospitalization following a birth event for a continuous 12-week period. This policy in no way restricts unit commanders or medical professionals from granting convalescent leave in excess of 12 weeks if a medical authority deems that leave is warranted.

A birth event refers to any birth of a child or children to a female service member wherein the child or children are retained by the mother. Multiple children resulting from a single pregnancy will be treated as a single event so long as the multiple births occur within the same 72-hour period.

The new policy also protects Airmen from any disadvantages in their career, including but not limited to assignments, performance appraisals or selection for professional military education, as a result of maternity leave taken.

“While some initiatives are force-wide, others are more targeted, but all have the same objective,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. “Where we can, we will ease the burden on our Airmen by not forcing a decision between either having a family or career. We believe our Airmen should be able to have both.”

In addition, DOD is requesting legislative changes to paternity leave. “We will seek authorities to increase paid paternity leave for new fathers from 10 to 14 days, which they can use in addition to annual leave,” Carter said.

Airmen with questions can contact their chain of command or local force support squadron for more details on eligibility, applicability and any other specifics related to the new benefit as the Air Force begins incorporating the changes into appropriate regulations and guidance.