Thursday, December 16, 2010

COMMENTARY>>A cornucopia of fin flashes

If you’ve been near “The ‘Rock” flightline lately, you may have noticed some C-130s that don’t have “The Rock” or “Arkansas Air National Guard” painted on the tails. There’s new color atop many of our gray transports, and those fin flashes read, “Maxwell,” “Bragg-Pope” or “Youngstown” ... and as of this past Friday, “Texas.”

These are the first four of 18 Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard mid-1980s-era C-130H2s that will continue to arrive through next autumn. The aircraft will come from 12 different locations and will be used to continue legacy training of Air Force and international crewmembers as our venerable C-130Es leave the force. Simultaneously, the Air Force Reserve will stand up the 355th Airlift Squadron, and hire on new Airmen to fly this mission in concert with the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing, which has been training crewmembers alongside the 314th for a quarter-century.

The age difference between our C-130Es and the new C-130H-2s is pretty significant - Lockheed matured many of the systems and avionics in those 20 years, and the newer planes are as different as a 1962 Corvette and its 1984 descendant. Negotiating this transformation means plenty of work for the maintainers and fliers of the 314th, who will operate and teach on these planes until the 355th is “full up” in manning in few years.

With the help of both the 189th and the 19th Airlift Wings, 314th Airmen are doing “differences” training to certify them in the new engines, radars, and other updates that the H-2 brings, topped off with hands-on maintenance and flying certifications. Our contract instructors at the Center of Excellence are also busy - they’re learning and transitioning to the more modern systems too, and preparing to modify four C-130E simulators to C-130H before transitioning their students.

So the next year will bring a welcome challenge for the 314th, because while it’s very common for Air Force C-130 maintainers and aircrew to be certified in more than one flavor of C-130, as both the 19th and 189th are every day, we’ve never had to teach new students in two different versions. While the colorful fin flashes on low-flying C-130s become more varied, our instructors and maintainers will be putting in a little more over-the-holidays study time to gear up for the H-2, readying them to grow the next generation that flies the “four fans of freedom.”

COMMENTARY>>AMC commander: Celebrate the holidays, reflect on a great year and be safe

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- As we look forward to this holiday season and the upcoming New Year, it’s time to reflect on the year gone by. It’s been an incredibly busy one for Air Mobility Command. You have performed magnificently ... rising to meet the challenges head on to deliver hope, fuel the fight and save lives -- I couldn’t be prouder of you!

The year started off with the President’s decision to move 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and soon after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti. Mobility Air Forces responded immediately to the crisis, just as you did this summer in support of Pakistani flood relief efforts. In addition, we set airdrop records in Afghanistan providing a crucial lifeline to our ground forces, while our tankers helped provide a canopy of protection over our troops, and aeromedical evacuation crews brought our wounded warriors home. Chief Spector and I look back with admiration on the amazing work you’ve done and thank each and every member of our Active Duty, Guard, Reserve and Civilian team for their hard work and sacrifices.

You are the reason we’re always effective, and it’s critical that we continue to look out for one another during this holiday season. Please, take time to use sound risk management, especially when driving. Alcohol, excessive speed, and weather remain key contributors to accidents this time of year. So remain vigilant and have a plan beforehand and stick to it -- Take extra time if needed. Remember that AMC’s Holiday Safety Campaign has many good tips and tools for you to use -- see your unit safety rep for details.

While we celebrate the holiday season with family and friends, please think about those who are deployed and can’t be with their loved ones this year. They’re a long way from home protecting the freedoms we hold so dear with families eagerly awaiting their return.

Diana and I wish a safe return for our deployed Airmen and wish all of you and your families a very joyous holiday season and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

COMMENTARY>>Our part in history

By Maj. Dennis Higuera

314th Maintenance Operations Squadron commander

Tuesday marked the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. On that fateful morning of Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet docked there. Unprepared for war, we entered World War II.

Like our nation, the U.S. Army Air Corps was unprepared for war. But those early Airmen, our forefathers, stepped up to the challenge and transformed the Air Corps into the mighty U.S. Army Air Force. From the legendary Doolittle Raiders to the Tuskegee Airmen, they proved the importance of air power to warfare, leading to an independent Air Force.

We in the airlift business can also look back proudly at the exploits of our airlifting forefathers. Prior to World War II, air transport was basically a ferrying command, delivering U.S.-built aircraft to Great Britain under the Lend-Lease Act. When the demands of combat in WWII challenged our airlift capabilities, those early airlifters met the challenge and developed airlift into a major force. From the airdrops that launched the Normandy invasion to the resupply of the “Beleaguered Bastards of Bastogne,” combat airlift showed it was an integral part of air power. Throughout our history, from Khe Sanh during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam to the first Gulf War, we can look back with pride upon the great examples of combat airlift.

Here’s a date that won’t go down in history but signifies our part in history here at the Rock: Nov. 29. That’s the date C-130E tail number 62-1788 was inducted into the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., to retire. Indeed this plane has a story to tell, especially its last mission in Vietnam. On the last day of the war, 62-1788 and its crew encountered heavy enemy fire on a mission to Dalat - Cam Lai. Despite more than 400 holes from shrapnel, the rugged bird enabled the crew to complete their mission, earning crew members the Silver Star Medal. But not only does 62-1788 tie us to our history, it also signifies the fact that history continues.

As we retire our venerable C-130Es and remember their exploits, it’s important not to get stuck looking back. For while we remember our proud past, we must continuously look forward to our future and know we build our history one day at a time.

We come into work every day, professional Airmen, eager to accomplish our mission. This is the attitude that drives our future. It’s no different than those who walked before us. They didn’t think about their place in history, they just did their job the best they could in order to accomplish the mission.

So, as you go about your duties, whether performing training missions here or combat missions overseas, know you’re not just accomplishing the mission - you’re building our part in history.

The successes of today are our collective accomplishments tomorrow, continuing our rich and proud heritage that will continue to inspire future generations of the greatest air and space power the world has ever known.

TOP STORY > >314th AW C-130E retires to Arizona ‘62 vintage ‘Herc’ one of 16 set to go

By Capt. Joe Knable

19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Little Rock Air Force Base C-130E aircraft 62-1788 made its last scheduled flight Nov. 29, to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base’s 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, the aircraft retirement “bone yard,” in Arizona.

Built in 1962, the aircraft’s storied history includes supporting major operations in Vietnam from 1967-1973, such as the Tet Offensive.

The aircraft commander, 314th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Mark Czelusta, wanted to be part of this flight. “At the surface it looks like any other cross-(contiguous-U.S.) mission,” he said. “But to a career C-130 pilot like me, I can’t help but feel nostalgic -- and honored -- to fly a plane on its last flight.”

“(This aircraft) is just as much an Airman as I am,” remarked Tech. Sgt. Ken Williams, a 62nd Airlift Squadron instructor flight engineer, for the aircraft’s final flight. Several other crewmembers echoed similar sentiments.

The aircraft’s assignments include the 1608th Air Transport Wing at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., from 1964 to 1965; the 516th Troop Carrier Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, from 1966 to 1967; the 314th and 374th Tactical Airlift Wings at Ching Chuan Kang Air Base, Taiwan, from 1967 to 1968 and 1969 to 1973, respectively; the West Air Virginia National Guard’s 130th Tactical Airlift Squadron from 1974 to 1985; and finally the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 154th Training Squadron and then with 314th Airlift Wing at Little Rock AFB from 1986 until Nov. 29, according to 314th Airlift Wing historian Chris Rumley.

In all, this C-130E flew 31,565.5 hours, said Capt. Greg Steenberge, 314th Airlift Wing assistant executive officer and the aircraft’s last copilot.

The aircraft was scheduled to fly until three to five days before the crew departed for Arizona, said Col. Adam Dickerson, 314th Maintenance Group commander, an experienced maintenance officer who has worked with the C-130 for 14 years. “I’m coming to the end of my career and these Herks are coming to the end of their careers, so it means a lot.”

The colonel recalled how 19th Airlift Wing commander Col. Mike Minihan, who recently trained with the 314th AW after assuming command of the base, asked if the maintainers did anything special for him because the scores-old planes looked and performed so well. Colonel Minihan’s planes received the same treatment that a first lieutenant initial qualification course student received, Colonel Dickerson explained.

“The maintainers have really done an outstanding job” of keeping the Es in excellent condition,” said Maj. Justin Barry, 314th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander.

“It’s a point of pride with the E model guys ... It’s a pilot’s aircraft. It’s a maintenance guy’s aircraft,” Colonel Dickerson said in response to a civilian reporter’s question.

“It’s supreme in the tactical airlift mission it was created for,” said Major Barry.

After scores of service around the world, aircraft 62-1788 joined several thousand other Department of Defense aircraft in the dusty Arizona bone yard including models from a 1952 EB-57 Canberra to B-1B Lancers and others still flown today.

As he drove through row after row of the more than 4,000 aircraft at AMARG, Colonel Czelusta pointed out specific C-130E models he flew during various assignments. He has flown C-130s his entire career.

The initial resting place for nearly all Department of Defense aircraft upon retirement, AMARG, “is a one-of-a-kind specialized facility within the Air Force Materiel Command structure,” according to the group’s Web site. “309 AMARG provides critical aerospace maintenance and regeneration capabilities for joint and allied/coalition warfighters in support of global operations and agile combat support for a wide range of military operations.”

Aircraft sent to AMARG are put into several types of storage, depending on their scheduled disposition, which can include being used for spare parts, being sold to foreign governments or museums, or being used as drones, to name a few options. Aircraft 62-1788 is scheduled to be used for spare parts, according to AMARG officials.

After retiring aircraft 62-1788, there are 15 C-130Es left in the 314th AW’s fleet. Aircraft 62-1788 was retired as part of a strategic Air Force effort to modernize its C-130 fleet with C-130J and C-130H AMP aircraft to meet the needs of today’s warfighters in a more efficient, cost-effective way.

The final aircraft to beretired, the 314th AW flagship, aircraft 62-1855, is scheduled to be retired at AMARG in September 2011 for the second time, said Major Barry.

The aircraft was retired once before at AMARG, in December 2002, and remained there until January 2005. In February 2005, the aircraft was brought back to active service and assigned to the 62nd AS, said Mr. Rumley.

Colonel Czelusta plans to be part of the crew that flies the flagship to its retirement, he said.

“The greater story is the upcoming retirement of the entire E-model fleet by the end of (fiscal year 2011.)” Colonel Czelusta explained. “These E-models have served us so very well. Prior to our beginning specialized training in the J-model, every C-130 crewmember in the active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command began their mission-qualifying training in the E-model. Their first experiences were shaped by the 314th AW and its sturdy fleet of E-models. “

The C-130E’s service history is extensive, the colonel explained. “The E-model fleet served our nation so very well throughout the Cold War, in Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Somalia, Haiti (1994), Bosnia, and during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. They were there for scores of humanitarian, counterdrug, and diplomatic missions as well. Our servicemen and women typically enter and exit combat zones in the C-130. And many of our fallen heroes began their final journey home in an E-model.”

Colonel Czelusta also mentioned Joint Task Force Full Accounting, which was established in 1992 to search for the Americans who served in Vietnam and remain unaccounted for, “leveraged the flexibility of the C-130 fleet as it brought our repatriated heroes home, as well.”

The end of U.S. C-130E operations, however, is near. “It’s hard to believe that by September, the (Air Force) will no longer fly these venerable planes,” Colonel Czelusta said. “With more than 35,000 hours on each airframe, each tail number developed its own personality over the years. The newer C-130Hs and the most advanced C-130Js are doing phenomenally well, and they will certainly develop their own personalities over time; many already have. But the E-model fleet is special. They are like family members to the men and women who maintain and fly them.”

Friday, December 3, 2010

TOP STORY >> Prevent holiday crime with these tips

By Capt. G. Scott Patton
19th Security Forces Squadron

The winter months aren’t necessarily thought of as a high crime season; however, as many people are finishing their holiday shopping and preparing travel plans, thieves are taking advantage of this time to look for targets of opportunity. Members from the 19th Security Forces Squadron remind Team Little Rock members to remain vigilant and not become complacent during the holiday season. Basic crime prevention techniques can help keep Airmen and their families safe through the holiday season.

“Shoppers should continue to park in well lit parking lots during hours of darkness,” said Senior Master Sgt. Mark Evans, 19th SFS operations superintendent. “Lock your vehicle and make sure the windows are closed. If approached at your vehicle, do not do anything that would put yourself or your family in danger.

“If people are shopping alone and don’t feel safe returning to their vehicle, they should ask an employee or store security member to escort them back,” he added.

Sergeant Evans recommends while out shopping lock valuable items in the trunks of cars and out of view of passersby. He also reminds people to secure their vehicle at home as well, following the same rules as at a store.

“Crime prevention is also important at home,” said Sergeant Evans. “One easy tip is to keep exterior lights on at night along with locking all your doors and windows when not at home. Know your neighborhood and watch for unfamiliar vehicles or people loitering in the area.”

Home security is especially necessary when leaving the home or travelling, according to Sergeant Evans.

“If you are going to be away from home for an extended period of time, have someone periodically check your house and put a hold on your mail and newspaper or have someone pick them up daily,” he said.

Despite taking every precaution possible, 19th SFS officials warn that people may still become a victim or witness of a crime. To report any suspicious activity or crimes in progress, call the 19th SFS law enforcement desk at 987-3221 or the Crime Stop line at 987-6600. When reporting a crime, have detailed information on subjects or items stolen ready to pass on to law enforcement officials.

TOP STORY >> Airmen travel to Rwanda, teach maintenance management skills

By John Ingle
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Members of the Rwanda air force paid a visit to the leaders in C-130 maintenance training at the 373rd Training Squadron Det. 4 at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., which is part of the 982nd Training Group here, which turned into a follow up visit for two Det. 4 members to help build up the fledgling air force.

Capt. Brian DeBruhl, the 373rd TRS Det. 4 commander, and Tech. Sgt. Brandon Macken, a 373rd TRS Det. 4 instructor, traveled to Rwanda Sept. 13 through 17 to discuss the intricacies of maintenance and logistics and conduct a maintenance management training course with the Rwandan air force.

Rwandan air force leaders are exploring the possibility of expanding their rotary-wing only air force to include fixed-wing assets.

“They (have) the opportunity to write the future of their air force,” Captain DeBruhl said. “They are the (Eddie) Rickenbackers and (Hap) Arnolds of their air force.”

Captain DeBruhl said the Rwanda air force has the capability to maintain aircraft.

He described the air force as battle tested, a result of years of civil war and the horrific genocide of the mid-90s that claimed the lives of more than one million people.

“Think about how our Air Force grew up,” the captain said, describing the maturation from the Wright Flyer to current technologies such as stealth aircraft. “They’re definitely eager to get to that level too.”

The first step to achieving that status began in August when members of the Rwanda air force toured maintenance and logistics facilities at the detachment and the 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock AFB. Captain DeBruhl described the Rwandan officers as “kids at a candy store” because of the enormity of the operation and what it takes to support 90 aircraft at the base.

Those basic processes that are taught to U.S. Air Force Airmen from their first day of training is what’s missing from the Rwanda air force, Sergeant Macken said.

“Their air force is at its infancy, so they don’t have those (standard operating procedures),” he said. “They know what they want, they just don’t know how to get there.”

The captain and sergeant traveled to Rwanda in September to help the Rwanda air force begin its journey down the road to becoming the air force it wants to be. What the two found when they arrived was a capable, but unorganized operation.

“They know how to operate,” he said. “They know how to keep their aircraft technically working.”

Captain DeBruhl and Sergeant Macken toured the Rwanda air force’s facilities and adapted their training course to fit the need of the customer.

Captain DeBruhl said they were able to identify specific areas the Rwanda air force could improve and do it at little to no cost.

Some of those ideas included using a chit system to track various tools to repair an aircraft. The Rwanda air force, at the time of the visit, didn’t have a mechanism in place to complete this simple task.

They also recommend the Rwanda air force cross train their maintainers to provide more flexibility within the air force.

Sergeant Macken said he felt the overall experience with the Rwandan air force was a success.
“Though our military cultures are very different, we shared a common goal to make both our air forces better,” he said. “While they learned from us how to better manage their fleet, I learned from them not to take so much for granted. The 16 individuals we worked with that week will shape the future of the Rwandan air force, and it was an honor to be a part of that.”

TOP STORY >> Partners – not communists

By Col. Mark G. Czelusta
314th Airlift Wing commander

As part of our ongoing discussion on leadership themes, we looked at standards that are high and without apology. Prior to that, we examined mission as theme number one. Today, I would like to discuss our third leadership theme: Partnerships.

Our mission is either pointless or impossible without them. Pointless because we must be responsive to our Air Force and joint partners’ needs. We don’t fly large formations over Central Arkansas or combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan without reason. We execute our mission to provide training to front line units and to meet the combat needs of our joint and coalition partners. It makes logical sense then that we form bonds with our customers to meet their needs.
Likewise these planes cannot launch without the teams of maintainers and support organizations that provide the mission ready iron and infrastructure required for success. This consideration answers the “impossible” aspect.

We all understand this, but I challenge you to take “partnerships” a step further and to execute your daily mission with the understanding that there are no communists in our military. I’ll explain.

Throughout the 75 years communism held its grip on Eastern Europe, communist leaders used assumptions of evil to create a distinct us-versus-them mentality. They regularly argued there were circles of individuals that wanted nothing more than pain and misfortune to fall upon the world. However, just the opposite was underway. While the democratic world was enjoying the benefits of intellectual partnerships, the communist world was falling farther behind. Granted, this is a simplification. But the free world can attribute much of its prosperity to shared creativity and open communication. Communism can point to the opposite as one reason for its demise.

How often have we used similar assumptions and arguments as leadership techniques? How often have we failed to assume goodness on behalf of our partners, preferring rather to argue that these people are somehow lazy, incompetent, or simply disruptive, and for no other reason than to see our own organizations work harder, or worse, fail?

Have we ever said that the ‘X’ Squadron or person ‘Y’ just doesn’t “get the mission?” That they just want to have another day off rather than put in a little extra effort? That they are saying “no” or being uncooperative because they don’t really care? Have we argued that folks asking for latitude somehow consider themselves above the rules? Maybe we even suggested they lack integrity.

The reality is every day across Team Little Rock, we see professionals completely committed, maintaining high standards and doing whatever it takes to get the mission done safely, effectively and legally. So then why do we get emotional and prepare to engage in a fight based upon this argument?

This situation is almost completely due to a failure to communicate. We all know “where you stand is based upon where you sit.” But even that quip diminishes the fact we are all empowered to overcome our differences. Communication is not just voicing your own ideas. Effective communication requires active listening as well. We need to not only see the situation from our perspective, but also consider it from the alternative view.

Taking the time to “slam” the alternate party, while providing us the immediate comfort of self-righteousness, rarely contributes to solving the problem at hand and never contributes to a long term partnership. To the contrary, it puts commanders into the role of defending their unit’s honor. Often a senior leader has to intervene, bringing embarrassment to both parties. All this results in reduced possibilities of open communication and shared creativity. Teambuilding opportunities are lost. And in the end, our Air Force mission may be limited.

If you are a service provider, don’t be so wedded to your processes that you overlook an opportunity for improvement just because an outsider has a different idea. Don’t be in a hurry to say “no.” Think of ways to help these folks out within the rules. If you are a customer, remember there may be specific rules--or just a good reason--against your proposal. Remember our partners are great Americans, answering their nation’s call to serve in a difficult environment. Strengthen these partnerships; have a reasonable, non-combative, two-way conversation ... for our mission is both pointless and impossible without them.