Hill’s F-35s drop first weapons
MDAA recognizes Air Force Missile Defender of the Year
Comm Airmen keep $84M network running

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.”

AF announces year two adjustments to enlisted evaluations, promotions

AF announces year two adjustments to enlisted evaluations, promotionsWASHINGTON (AFNS)

Incorporating various observations and assessments from the first year under the new enlisted evaluation and promotion systems, the Air Force is making several adjustments for year two to ease execution and strengthen processes.

In 2015, the Air Force began execution of the new enlisted evaluation and promotion systems with the goal of ensuring performance as the main factor when promoting or evaluating Airmen. The new systems also increased a commander’s opportunities to identify top performers and clearly indicate an Airman’s promotion potential to the boards.

Enlisted performance reports available for review by senior NCO evaluation boards will decrease from the previous 10 to five years beginning with the calendar year 2016 master sergeant evaluation board. This change allows an increased focus on recent performance and compliments implementation of restricted stratification and forced distribution rules that also emphasize recent performance.

With the change from reviewing 10 years of reports decreased to five years, the Air Force is also transitioning to a single-phase process for the upcoming master sergeant evaluation board.

Starting with the 2016 promotion cycle, the master sergeant evaluation board will be condensed into a single-phase process in which all weighted factors and board scores are combined into one score for each Airman. Accordingly, this single-phase approach will eliminate the EPR points as a separate weighted factor similar to senior and chief master sergeant evaluation boards.

“After going through the first master sergeant evaluation board in 2015, we were able to assess our capacity to review all eligible Airmen. We now know our systems, facility and annual board schedule can support boarding all eligible technical sergeants,” said Brig. Gen. Brian Kelly, the director of military force management policy. “This adjustment allows every technical sergeant a chance to have their performance reviewed on its own merit directly by the board.”

Under these adjustments the master sergeant evaluation board will review all eligible technical sergeant selection folders containing each Airman’s evaluation brief, EPRs closing out within five years of the promotion eligibility cutoff date (PECD), and all decorations received over the Airman’s entire career. Any Article 15 received within two years of the PECD and recommended for placement in the selection folder by a commander will also be visible.

Another announced adjustment for 2016 is the continuation of the previously-planned reduction in points associated with time-in-service and time-in-grade. For calendar 2016, the multipliers for calculating total TIS and TIG points will be reduced again by another one-third, impacting the 2016 E-5, E-6, E-7, E-9, and 2017 E-8 promotion cycles. The Air Force will again conduct analysis on the impact of this change and determine if future reductions to completely eliminate the TIG and TIS weighted points from the Weighted Airman Promotion System will continue in calendar 2017.

Finally, beginning in calendar 2016, EPR point calculations for promotion to grades E-5 and E-6 will be based solely on an Airman’s last three forced distributed reports in their current grade. This adjustment provides an equitable method for transitioning from the legacy to the new system. Accounting for legacy EPRs, if in current grade, is accomplished by considering and factoring them into an Airman’s promotion recommendation. This allows a clean break under the new Forced Distribution system where no points are awarded for legacy EPRs.

For more information about senior NCO evaluation board processes or other adjustments related to enlisted evaluation and promotions, visit the myPers website.

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.

High year of tenure extension for 122 specialties

High year of tenure extension for 122 specialtiesJOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS)

Eligible senior airmen, staff sergeants, technical sergeants, and master sergeants in 122 Air Force specialties can apply for a high year of tenure extension and, if approved, will be able to extend between 12 and 24 months past their current HYT.

Eligible Airmen who apply for an extension should be approved by their unit commander or civilian leader, and should meet regular re-enlistment criteria as well. Airmen with a re-enlistment restriction are not eligible to apply for an HYT extension.

The HYT extension application window will be open Feb. 1, 2016, through May 31, 2017.

Eligible Airmen with a current HYT in February 2016 should apply as soon as possible to obtain approval prior to their current HYT. Eligible Airmen with a current HYT March 1-May 31, 2016, should apply at least 30 days prior to their current HYT. All other eligible Airmen should submit their requests for extension at least 120 days prior to their current HYT.

Eligibility is limited to specific control Air Force specialty codes and grades as of Jan. 26, 2016, but the following Airmen may also apply:

- Airmen who previously held an eligible AFSC, who are projected to return to the eligible AFSC on or before Sept. 30, 2017, and who have a current HYT between Feb. 1, 2016, and Sept. 30, 2017, may apply. Airmen in this category should provide documentation showing their projected return date with their HYT extension request.

- Airmen who are in a special duty or developmental special duty assignment, who have an eligible AFSC, and who have an assignment availability code or date eligible for return from overseas date that expires on or before Sept. 30, 2017, may apply. Airmen in this category should provide documentation of the eligible AFSC with their HYT extension request. DEROS and AAC curtailment requests will not be approved for this program.

Airmen approved for an extension should get required retainability within 10 days of being notified or they will forfeit the opportunity for an HYT extension.

For complete eligibility criteria and application information, go to the myPers website, select “Any” from the search drop down options and enter “FY16/17 High Year of Tenure Extension Program” in the search window.

For more information about Air Force personnel programs, go to the myPers website. Individuals who do not have a myPers account can request one by following the instructions on the Air Force Retirees Services website.

3-time Super Bowl champ, AF pilot reflects on America’s game

3-time Super Bowl champ, AF pilot reflects on America’s gameFORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS)

Super Bowl 50 is just days away and it’s hard not to wonder how one of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s best all-time players fits into that history.

Chad Hennings won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys during the 1990s, and his first appearance was within a year’s time of flying his A-10 Thunderbolt II in a combat sortie in northern Iraq.

Hennings, a 1988 Academy graduate, led the nation with 24 sacks and was awarded the Outland Trophy during the 1987 season an award that recognizes the nation’s best interior lineman.

Committed to serve

Following graduation, Hennings now a member of the College Football Hall of Fame was drafted by the Cowboys in the 11th round of the 1988 draft. Before he could even suit up in the NFL, Hennings had to first fulfill his military commitment, a move that was initially hard to accept.

“I wouldn’t say there were regrets, (but) it was an emotional struggle because I wanted to be able to compete,” Hennings said.

From a character perspective, he knew without a doubt what he needed to do because he made a commitment and he was going to stick to it. The drive to compete, however, made his transition from school to pilot training and then into his active-duty squadron a difficult one. That void would eventually be filled with friendly competition as an A-10 pilot.

“We did compete on the range; we competed for performance,” he said. “There (was) always competition and it was a healthy competition.”

After pilot school, Hennings was stationed in the U.K. and deployed twice to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in 1991 and 1992. While deployed, he flew 45 combat sorties in northern Iraq in support of Operation Provide Comfort, an international relief effort after the Gulf War.

After getting settled into the Air Force, Hennings said he contemplated making a career out of it.

“Football was a distant memory and something in the past that I never really thought about until the Air Force went through the reduction in force and they started the waivers in the spring of ‘92,” he said.

Pro player

Hennings separated from active-duty Air Force in April 1992 and transitioned to the Air Force Reserve. He continued to serve in the Reserve individual mobilization augmentee program for almost 10 years.

The next month, Hennings found himself in Dallas working out for the Cowboys.

“It was extremely stressful, initially transitioning in ‘92, because I’m leaving one career for another,” he said. “I’m moving from one continent to another, taking on a whole new different position. There were a lot of just stress factors there, and it wasn’t assured that I would make the team.”

Hennings said it was tough coming into the league and competing at a level of competition that was much higher than he experienced before.

But all the downtime spent in the weight room and working out when he wasn’t flying during his deployments and TDYs paid off. He would go on to secure a spot on the team, and kick off what would eventually be a nine-year career with the Cowboys, playing in 119 games and recording 27.5 sacks.

In his first season, Hennings and the Cowboys would go on to beat the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl 27.

“It was pretty surreal,” he said. “I essentially flew a combat mission and then played in the Super Bowl all within a year’s time.”

He compared that Super Bowl experience to his first combat mission. He said he knew he had a job to do, and being around a set of guys who were experienced made it easier to navigate and process all of his emotions.

During his next three seasons, Hennings would go onto win two more Super Bowls with the Cowboys.

“You got to a point in our culture of being a Dallas Cowboy, that that’s what was expected. We knew we were the best team out there,”

Hennings said. “I kind of compare that analogy to being a fighter pilot. It’s kind of that confident arrogance, where you know you’re good, you know your abilities; you walk out there, you don’t flaunt it, but you walk with an extreme amount of confidence.”

It wasn’t until the latter part of Hennings’ career that he fully appreciated winning three Super Bowls, he said.

Two decades after he appeared in his last Super Bowl, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl 30, Hennings has a sincere admiration for those moments in time and truly appreciates how special those teams really were.

“As a kid growing up, all your heroes, the role models that you looked up to on the gridiron you know those guys they were able to hold that trophy up,” Hennings said. “I was a Minnesota Vikings fan, so they went there four years and they never won one, and that’s where I realized too how difficult it is, not only to just get to the Super Bowl, but to win one how truly special that is.”

Hennings said one of the best memories is from Super Bowl 30, where he recorded two sacks a Super Bowl record that he shared with several other players before it was broken the next year.

Humble beginnings

Being a solid performer on the gridiron and in his jet, Hennings has always tried to strive for excellence.

Growing up in Elberon, Iowa, Hennings would sometimes put in 12-plus-hour days helping his father and grandfather on their farm, where they predominately raised corn and a feedlot operation for cattle. He’d help wherever needed, whether feeding the cattle, bailing hay, driving tractors, or performing maintenance.

“The work ethic came from watching my father, my grandfather, but a lot of it I can attribute it to my older brother, who really pushed me to workout with him,” he said.

Hennings’ older brother, Todd, was a couple years older and was the quarterback for their high school football team. Hennings said he was a tight end, and he recalled his brother dragging him off to run routes and lift weights.

“When I started to see the success of all the hard work that I put in, then it became more of a self-driving motivation than having somebody externally motivate me,” he said.

That motivation to be a better player and better person carried over when it was time to attend college. Hennings had several scholarships, but said he wanted a “holistic experience.” He yearned to be challenged academically and wanted to have the experiences a typical college graduate wouldn’t have.

Looking back, the leadership skills gained, the experience of flying jets, and the camaraderie within his fighter squadron are things that gave him skills he used on the gridiron and in his everyday life.

“You know, it all worked out great,” Hennings said. “I had an experience flying that I would never trade. If I had to do it all over again, I would do it exactly the same.”

Where he is now

Today, Hennings lives outside of Dallas, where he’s a partner in a commercial real estate company and does a lot of public speaking, which he said is his way of giving back.

“That’s my passion now in this last half of my life, is to be an evangelist, in essence, for that aspect of a need of character in our community and for us as individuals,” Hennings said.

An author of three books, he’s also married with two children, who are both in college.

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.

Keeping the C-17 in the fight

Keeping the C-17 in the fightAL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar (AFNS)

The C-17 Globemaster III is a versatile aircraft in high demand across the globe. The airframe is used to haul cargo, transport passengers and medically evacuate wounded service members.

The 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron maintenance team at Al Udeid Air Base helps keep the base’s C-17 fleet mission ready by performing regular maintenance on each aircraft. The unit provides the only tier two C-17 maintenance capability in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility with the ability to replace engines and perform fuel cell work.

“Our goal is to maintain our C-17s so they’re ready to go at a moment’s notice,” said Senior Airman Matthew Vanderbosch, a 8th EAMS C-17 crew chief from Buffalo, New York. “We need to make sure the aircraft is crew ready. We configure the cargo bay for each mission, inspect everything on the aircraft and call in specialists, as needed, to fix problems quickly.”

Conducting preflight inspections is one of the many responsibilities of 8th EAMS crew chiefs. During inspections, nearly a half dozen crew chiefs inspect every system on the aircraft, Vanderbosch said.

“We inspect the interior and exterior of the aircraft, all lights, computer systems, hydraulics, every brake and tire … everything,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Hill, a 8th EAMS C-17 crew chief from Helena, Montana. “Each inspection consists of hundreds of items.”

Ensuring the C-17, an aircraft called upon to evacuate 80 U.S. Embassy personnel from Yemen in February 2015, is mission ready is vital, Hill said.

“Everything we do here has an impact. Every time we support a jet launch we’re making things happen,” Hill said. “Whether it’s moving passengers across the AOR, delivering munitions or delivering humanitarian aid like water, blankets or food to people in need; we are here to support all of that.”

One day, Vanderbosch was informed of a C-17 waiting to takeoff to transport wounded Soldiers out of Afghanistan. The aircraft was fueled up, the pilot was ready to start engines and the aeromedical evacuation crew was ready to go. However, there was one problem two tires needed to be replaced.

“Without hesitation, a team of us went out to the jet, jacked it up and replaced the tires,” Vanderbosch said. “Behind every flight crew, there’s a team of crew chiefs and specialists ensuring they can do their jobs, because if we don’t do our jobs, the flight crews can’t do their jobs.

“Knowing we were able to help bring those Soldiers home and get them the care they needed … being a part of that, was pretty cool,” he continued.

During his time at AUAB, Vanderbosch said he’s replaced C-17 brakes, lights and more tires than any other time in his Air Force career.

The 8th EAMS maintainers perform maintenance actions on a routine basis in an effort to ensure assets are available at the time of need, Hill said.

“We track the maintenance needs for every aircraft; we assign people as necessary, perform our inspections and focus on preventative maintenance so we take care of problems before they arise,” Hill said.

The 8th EAMS currently has a logistics departure reliability rate of nearly 93 percent. That means for every 10 aircraft assigned to missions, nine take off on time.

The LDRR is one of many achievements made possible by the hard work of the 8th EAMS maintenance team, said Capt. Danielle Rogowski, a 8th EAMS maintenance operations officer from St. Cloud, Minnesota.

“Our guys understand the importance of what they’re doing and they see the impact of what they do every day,” she said. “When a C-17 is transporting service members across the AOR or when someone needs to get medevac’d out, that’s possible because of the work my Airmen do.”

Rogowski said she’s impressed with the dedication her Airmen bring to the mission.

“I’m so proud of our people, to do what they do every day in extreme heat; I’m having to pull them off of stands to take breaks because they won’t stop. If something is broke, they won’t stop until it’s fixed,” she said. “To display such tenacity, that’s impressive and they bring that tenacity every day. They come here ready to go, focused on getting the mission done.”

In 2015, the 8th EAMS supported more than 1,700 sorties delivering nearly 24,000 tons of cargo and more than 9,000 people to locations across the CENTCOM AOR.

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