All posts by dfaggard

Chief Airey, you will be missed. We thank you and we’ll remember you.

The following is from an Airman who attended the ceremony, Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski.  

Today the Air Force said good-bye to one of its legends. The first Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Paul Airey, was laid to rest in section 34 of Arlington National Cemetery.

From his grave site, you can see the headstones of fellow Airmen, and towering above them nearby is the Air Force Memorial.  The funeral service was respectful and humbling. There were senior enlisted leaders from all over the world in attendance. There were NCOs who heard Chief Airey speak at Airmen Leadership School. There was an Airman 1st Class, celebrating her fourth month in the Air Force by being at Chief Airey’s funeral.  

Chief Airey.
Chief Airey.

It was inspiring to see so many Airmen gathered in one place so they too could pay tribute to the legendary Chief Airey. Everyone has a story about the man. Our current Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Chief Rodney McKinley, reflected on studying about Chief Airey while at basic military training waiting in line to eat. As the procession of hundreds of Airmen walked to Chief Airey’s grave site, you could hear so many people sharing their stories. 

I met Chief Airey while at the annual Air Force Sergeants Association conference. He was getting ready to go up for the former CMSAF Panel Discussion. I was but an E-3 at the time and was walking down the hall with two other Airmen 1st Class. Chief Airey saw us and broke away from talking with a couple of other chiefs and came over to us. He introduced himself and asked how we were enjoying the conference. Being a dutiful PA, my camera was around my neck. The chief saw it and said he wanted a picture with my two junior enlisted compatriots and I was to ensure they got a copy of the photo. Naturally, I did just that.

Chief Airey cared so much about junior enlisted Airmen. He’s been a legend for all of us who learned about him while waiting in line to eat, while hearing him speak at a graduation, while wandering the halls at a convention. The 13th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Jim Finch, called him the “Father of the Enlisted Corps.” There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind the impact he had on us all, and he will truly be missed. 

 

ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, Va. -- Close to 500 Airmen gathered to pay tribute to the first Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Paul Airey, who was laid to rest here May 28. Seven former Chief Master Sergeants of the Air Force joined the current CMSAF, Chief Master Sgt. Rodney McKinley, at the funeral service and grave site service. Chief Airey's marker is located in Section 34 of the cemetery. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski)
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, Va. — Close to 500 Airmen gathered to pay tribute to the first Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Paul Airey, who was laid to rest here May 28. Seven former Chief Master Sergeants of the Air Force joined the current CMSAF, Chief Master Sgt. Rodney McKinley, at the funeral service and grave site service. Chief Airey’s marker is located in Section 34 of the cemetery. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski)

 

 

Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen discuss social networks

In Georgetown University’s Riggs Library, built in the 1890s and filled with with vast resources, about two dozen members from various U.S. military organizations gathered to discuss the military’s use of social media with industry and academia reps.

The event hosted by the University is part of DOD’s Armed Services Working Group on Social Media and consistently addresses the current and future roles the military is taking with social media.

“There has been an absence of our voice online,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Arata, a Public Affairs officer with the U.S. Army  “That’s why we’re here. And for the most part, people are saying great things about the services; these tools help get our messages out.”

A monthly lessons-learned session on social media issues and answers, to include what to do right and what not to do is the focus of DOD’s working group in which all services and the Coast Guard are represented.

Today’s sessions included presentations from the services about social networking and by executives from many organizations including facebook, an insanely popular social networking site. 

All military services are represented on the site which now hosts more than 200million users. 

The Air Force has undergone challenges with its facebook profile; however, we’re committed to revamping, rebuilding and rebranding the site to make it effective for those interested in obtaining Air Force information via social networks and have a new site in the development stages. Any ideas out there?

One organization that understands social media and its ability to provide truthful and transparent discussions is the U.S. Army which doesn’t censor its own facebook page, allowing any user to post comments that fit within a rough commenting policy. 

This is a basic building block of social media and their community of users can make positive or negative comments, correct the record on an issue if needed, share ideas and comments, engage employee communication, as well as encourage thoughtful debate on issues.

“Leaving up negative comments adds to the organization’s credibility,” Colonel Arata said about the Army’s facebookfan page which attracted more than 24,000 fans in about a month. 

Adam Connor from facebook’s Washington, D.C. office gave a good presentation on what organizations and people should do to stay in touch with people and also discussed how communication is changing.

“We’re a new space,” he said reflecting on his company’s mission: give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. 

Some stats about the site: it’s only five years old and is in 40 languages and if it was a country, it would be the fifth largest in the world. Only 60million of facebook’s 200million are in the U.S.

 

“There’s a new communications’ method now for the officer corps in the military, due in large part from their acceptance in college like the service academies,” Mr. Connor said due to the large amounts of college-aged users signing up.

Understanding the intricacies of organizational military communication, usually top-down, and how it fits in a social network will be interesting due in large part to the democratized information flow at a lateral level between users and organizations. 

Air Force officials hold open forum on Twitter about GPS

Air Force officials held their first news event, dubbed an  “open forum,” via the popular micro-blogging application Twitter last week largely due to the fact that they needed to get the word out concerning a report issued about the Global Positioning System, according to Air Force Space Command spokesperson Mr. Dan Wade.

Integration engineer Willie Jackson shows units presently located at Robins Air Force Base, Ga, using the Blue Force Tracker system. Friendly units are indicated by a blue dot. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sue Sapp)
Integration engineer Willie Jackson shows units presently located at Robins Air Force Base, Ga, using the Blue Force Tracker system. Friendly units are indicated by a blue dot. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sue Sapp)

 

 

The added muscle provided by social media was due in large part because of what appeared to be a “stagnant” reception of the facts, he said.   

 

The forum wasn’t like a traditional Air Force-mainstream news conference; it allowed anyone, anywhere with Internet access the ability to ask a Headquarters Air Force Space Command official a question about the GPS system.

 

The back and forth dialog allowed people an unfiltered approach to developing their own opinions about the subject.

 

“Is there any actual probability of the GPS systems going down in 2010, or is it just worst case scenario – like my commute?,” said Justin Herman, a Washington, D.C. based blogger who was online for the forum.

 

“No, the GPS will not go down. GAO points out, there is potential risk associated with a degradation in GPS performance,” said Col. Dave Buckman, AFSPC command lead for Position, Navigation and Timing who was online to respond to the questions.

 

See more here and here The archived conversation is here.  Check out Air Force Space Command’s Twitter profile here.  The online forum has resulted in hundreds of stories and comments from bloggers and mainstream media.

 

Air Force Space Command’s Commander General C. Robert Kehler said: 

 

“Let me state emphatically – since we declared Full Operational Capability in 1995, the Air Force has maintained the constellation above the required 24 GPS satellites on orbit at 95 percent.  In fact, we have achieved sub-three meter accuracy,” said General Kehler. “The Air Force has been a good GPS steward continually providing ‘better than expected’ service to our GPS users.  At this point, we foresee no significant loss of service in the future, near or far.”

Advanced Contingency Skills training wraps up, Airmen move out

The graduates of the 16+ days of training at Ft. Dix, N.J. have something to be proud of, they’ve learned valuable skills that may save their life, or the lives of their fellow joint servicemembers on the ground.  Time and time again, we heard plenty of stories from Airmen and Soldiers about Airmen performing more and more ground missions outside the wire.  Gun truck stories, patrols, medical evacuations, you name it, it came up here.

An interesting point about this training has been that it appears to be creating a cultural shift in the Air Force, one from the ground up. Training and educating a few Airmen at a time on skills necessary to contribute to the fights on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Most of this training is completely new to Airmen.  The ground up training is led by the”senior” folks teaching the classes who weren’t senior in age or rank, but senior in experience.  Most instructors were Staff and Tech. Sgts; they were pros! Real pros with experience, motivation and Airmanship and these very few are providing skills that “hopefully will never be used,” according to an instructor on the first day.

 

The training from one student, Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski: “The training at the Air Force Expeditionary Center was above and beyond training I’ve received at other locations run by other services. The instructors pride themselves on their ability to motivate and stay motivated. That esprit de corps makes learning the material they have to teach more approachable and easier to retain.

Personally I know I’ll be using the skills we learned while we were here. When I deploy, I know I’ll be on convoys, I’ll have to know how to defend a forward operating base and if someone gets hurt, I feel confident that I’d be able to help keep them alive until medical professionals can treat them.

The biggest benefit for me has been the chance to document the course by carrying a camera and notepad on almost all our training days. As a result, I have more than a thousand photos for people to take home and remember not only what we learned, but with whom we all learned these valuable skills. We’ve made friends and gotten to know people who will deploy and work with us. I can’t wait to look them up when I get downrange.

For many Airmen, continuing to serve in the Air Force is largely due to the people in it. The last three weeks have been a testament to that thought as we prepare to go into harm’s way alongside these new comrades in arms. The confidence we have in ourselves and in our fellow Airmen will make mission accomplishment that much easier.”

This post is part of a series on the U.S. Air Force’s Advanced Contingency Skills Training at the Expeditionary Center at Ft. Dix, N.J.  Photos and video will be posted soon.

Air Force’s Combat First Aid…

I’ll admit that when I first heard the phrase Air Force combat first aid, I was somewhat unclear on the training and the need.  But as the scenarios played out and real-life examples were given from our instructors, it was clear, these were skills Airmen can use in any trauma, especially downrange. Fantastic and realistic class.

 

Tech. Sgt. Scott Haas provides cover while other Airmen perform first aid on a simulated victim.
Tech. Sgt. Scott Haas, a contracting NCO from Moron AB, Spain provides cover while other Airmen perform first aid on a simulated victim.
Tech. Sgt. Scott Haas said: “Combat First Aid was much better than I thought it would be. The SABC [self aide buddy care] system that we have been taught for all these years doesn’t relate well to a combat environment. The quicker we can get a downed person out of harm’s way, the better chance everyone has to come back with their life. Granted we were being fired at with blanks but hopefully with the training we received today everyone will be able to recognize and react to what needs to be done if we are put in a real world situation.”
Hotel Flight Airmen demo the litter.
Hotel Flight Airmen demo the litter.
Tech. Sgt. Scott Haas, a contracting NCO from Moron AB, Spain moves through the Ft. Dix, N.J. woods.
Tech. Sgt. Scott Haas, a contracting NCO from Moron AB, Spain moves through the Ft. Dix, N.J. woods.