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Emerald Warrior 22.1 Concludes for AFSOC, Czech Special Forces

Tuesday, May 24th, 2022

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. —  

Air Force Special Operations Command wrapped up its 15th Emerald Warrior exercise that provided realistic and relevant training to prepare special operations forces, conventional forces and international partners for conflict in an evolving, strategic environment. 

The EW 22.1 planning team applied lessons learned from real-world operations to train and ready forces to the joint force, while staying focused on security priorities laid out within the 2022 National Defense Strategy; specifically, pacing strategic competitors. Trained, credible forces and strong international partnerships are pivotal to this effort.  

“In this year’s iteration, we improved our approach to command and control through the employment of the Special Operations Task Group and Special Operations Task Unit,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Kevin Koenig, exercise director of Emerald Warrior. “This dispersion of leadership allowed for real-time, on-the-ground decision making and allowed commanders to perform operations quickly and more efficiently. We exercised our agile combat employment capabilities and focused additional training on non-kinetic skillsets to include public affairs and information operations. With our partner nations and sister services, our goal is to continue to deter adversaries, now and in the future, in all domains.” 

The objective for this year’s EW was to gain and maintain an advantage on the battlefield and in the information environment, and grow kinetic and non-kinetic effects above and below the threshold of armed conflict from strategic competitors. 

This annual exercise is an opportunity to further test and improve future approaches to AFSOC units like the mission sustainment teams. These MSTs established forward-operating bases by providing initial site security, receiving cargo and personnel, and setting up shelter. 

“It was very impressive how the 1st SOW and 27th SOW [from Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico] capabilities came together in order to forward stage our contingency locations during this exercise,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Travis Deutman, commander of the Emerald Warrior SOTG. “As these capabilities continue to progress, it’ll definitely be something that’ll be useful within AFSOC.” 

In line with AFSOC’s Strategic Guidance, the exercise fuels on-going innovation and experimentation efforts within the command.   

“The most important idea to understand about Emerald Warrior is that as AFSOC implements force generation, we’re building new concepts; the two biggest concepts being the SOTG command team and our MSTs,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Haack, deputy director of operations for AFSOC. “These concepts combine to enable the force to do agile combat employment in a contested environment. We increased our agility; we pushed our decision making forward to the lowest level. These teams are trained and enabled, and ready to fight the fight in the contested and uncontested environment.” 

In addition to introducing new command and control structure, the exercise continued as a forum of collaboration between the U.S. and its international partners and allies. This year, AFSOC hosted partners from the Czech Republic. 

“We look forward to working with our partner nations and coalition forces from across SOF,” said Haack. “Emerald Warrior allows us to problem solve in an exercise environment, establish communication and build enduring relationships. Those relationships with our Czech partners and fellow SOF coalition forces are critical so we’re not meeting them for the first time down range.” 

By 2nd Lt Cassandra Saphore, Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

Future of Nursing: Telehealth, More Innovation, Maybe Some Robots

Friday, May 20th, 2022

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AFNS) —  

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has fast-tracked many changes to the Military Health System and forced all providers – especially nurses – to innovate at near-quantum speed with agility and flexibility.

Nurses are the backbone of daily healthcare operations. In the future, nurses will continue to play a vital role in the evolution of modern healthcare.

“Nursing will take on more leadership and strategic roles to transform the healthcare system, better advocate for nursing personnel, and integrate across care to enhance the multi-disciplinary team,” said Brig. Gen. Anita Fligge, Defense Health Agency chief nursing officer.

As the DHA observes 2022 Nurses Week, Fligge and other top DHA nursing officers talked about changes on the horizon for military nursing and the details of how the career field will evolve in the coming years.

They said the pandemic has underscored the connection between health and readiness. Virtual healthcare options will continue to expand, and robotics may play a prominent role in standardized care in the future while continued education for nurses will be essential to maintaining a ready medical force.

Working in a joint environment within the integrated DHA workforce will improve efficiencies for nurses, allowing them to spend more time on patient care by having standardized policies, procedures and tools across the services, Fligge said.

She pointed to the collaboration already underway in the local healthcare markets. For example, she said, Navy nurses in the Puget Sound market help backfill at the Madigan Army Medical Center and vice-versa. The same collaboration is ongoing in the Colorado market, she said. Air Force nurses are assisting at the Army’s Fort Carson Evans Army Community Hospital.

The pandemic “has opened the doors for nursing to see what could change as to how we care for patients in the future, using technology in a new way, and using data to assist in bed expansion or use of resources more effectively,” said Army Col. Jenifer Meno, DHA deputy chief nurse officer.

The pandemic has “required more precision and flexibility, including virtual healthcare, remote patient monitoring, and touchless medication refills to optimize care delivery,” Fligge said.

Virtual health

The future will mean more virtual healthcare and telehealth services for certain specialties such as dermatology, behavioral health, primary care, urgent care, and obstetrics while maintaining the focus on high-quality patient care and increased access to care, Fligge explained.

The expansion of virtual care will help save lives on the battlefield and improve care during humanitarian crises and future pandemics.

Additionally, at home, virtual health will continue to provide MHS beneficiaries with more access and flexibility to get assistance and appointments.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taxed nursing staffs beyond anything in recent memory as they cared for both COVID-19 patients and maintained routine healthcare operations.

The pandemic has “prompted the need for us to re-look at staffing models and ratios to optimize utilization of the workforce, while ensuring safe, high-quality care delivery and positive outcomes.” Fligge said.

The past two-plus years also have seen a “greater awareness and need to address burnout and retention,” Fligge continued.

Better health, better outcomes

Keeping nurses themselves healthy is a key priority for the entire health system, Meno said.

“The more healthy you are makes you more resilient in multiple ways, from being physically healthy, having mental well-being, and spiritual well-being,” she said.

These three are all part of Total Force Fitness, the Department of Defense’s framework for improving holistic health and performance aligned to one’s mission, culture and identity.

She pointed to the increasing use of mobile applications as one way to monitor health across the military community. These apps are available to help decrease stress, monitor exercise habits and support healthy diets.

“Nurses can use that data to assist in educating and teaching patients how to care for themselves as well as recognize triggers that may be a risk to their care,” Meno said.

“If we maintain a healthier mindset, it prepares the body to fight off disease and illness. If we use it to help our patients to be healthier and do preventive activities, that would change potential outcomes for the future.”

More robotics and AI

Nurses have been integrally involved in newer surgical techniques such as robotic surgery since the 2000s.

“Some things never change,” Meno explained. “Nurses in the operating room will continue to be the eyes and ears for the patient. They will continue to ensure that the patient is receiving the best care with high quality and safety.”

Nurses on robotic surgical teams must demonstrate “a very high level of professional knowledge and be experts in robotic technology. This is demonstrated by playing a key role in data collection, analyzing trends and outcomes, and identifying safety issues,” Fligge said.

The nursing team will need to continue to maintain sterile techniques and ensure the integrity of the surgical field, Meno said. The team will need to communicate more in the operating room as technologies evolve. And nurses will use evidence-based teamwork tools from Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety [TeamSTEPPS] to support a highly reliable organization, Meno added.

TeamSTEPPS is an evidence-based teamwork system designed to enhance patient outcomes by improving communication and other teamwork skills among healthcare professionals.

Artificial intelligence is already a technology nurses use in everyday care via mobile health and alerts in joint tele-critical care network units. These are an important force multiplier, leveraging virtual health resources to extend critical care expertise and treatment at a distance.

And without a doubt, there are more changes to come. AI and machine learning will assist nurses by using data to help improve the efficiencies of systems and processes, but those technologies are still in their infancy.

More nursing expertise

The pandemic has also meant an “increased capability and use of our nursing workforce by ensuring that personnel are equipped with the education and training to perform at the highest level and scope of practice and license,” Fligge explained.

Meno said she sees more nurses getting certifications to be the subject matter experts in their field.

The increased number of nurses obtaining their Doctorate of Nurse Practice will also grow now that the American Association of Colleges of Nursing has endorsed the movement of advanced nursing practice from a master’s degree to the doctorate level, Meno predicted.

“This doctorate develops nurses to look at process improvement and holistically at improving systems and processes that include other disciplines in patient care.”

Meno explained that hybrid nursing roles discussions have already taken place.

“We see nurses now that are doing hybrid nursing roles due to their versatility and agility. Nurses are not only at the bed side, but they are also clinical nurse specialists, research scientists, advance practice providers, educators and health system leaders.”

By Janet A. Aker, Military Health System Communications

First Air Force Supports US Space Command as ‘Air Forces Space’

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

TYNDALL AFB, Fla. (AFNS) —  

The Department of Defense designated First Air Force as ‘Air Forces Space’ (AFSPACE), and the fifth service component to U.S. Space Command May 3.

The change postures First Air Force to provide airpower expertise and advocacy in support of USSPACECOM’s mission to conduct operations in, from and to space while integrating space power into the support of First Air Force’s homeland defense mission.

“As USSPACECOM continues to achieve key milestones towards reaching Full Operational Capability, the designation of AFSPACE and the realignment of Human Space Flight Support activities under AFSPACE demonstrates the rapid pace at which the command and components are moving to provide a safe and secure space environment,” said U.S. Army Gen. James H. Dickinson, U.S. Space Command commander. “AFSPACE has achieved an Initial Operating Capability, and like USSPACECOM, is at a point where it can credibly claim to be organized and effective for employing our enduring, no-fail supporting functions to the joint force and civil partners.”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. named First Air Force as the USSPACECOM air component in February 2021. Following that, Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, established an Operational Planning Team to determine the resources required to meet the short and long-term demands for this new mission.

ACC is the force provider for AFSPACE, and existing Continental U.S. NORAD Region and Air Forces Northern roles, responsibilities and authorities.

On July 15, 2021, First Air Force, now AFSPACE, assumed the operational command and control of the Human Space Flight Support, or HSFS, mission, which was previously executed by the Combined Force Space Component Command at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. This First Air Force mission is executed through its assigned Detachment 3 based at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida.

Det. 3, formerly commanded by Space Launch Delta 45, realigned under First Air Force during a redesignation and change of command ceremony held at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, also that day. Air Force Lt. Gen. Kirk Pierce, commander, First Air Force, Continental U.S. NORAD Region, AFNORTH, and now AFSPACE, affirmed his team’s commitment to USSPACECOM.

“Space-based capabilities enable virtually every element of our national power, including diplomatic, information, military and economic,” said Pierce. “It’s an honor to support that larger picture with our actions at a personal level. This includes our new responsibility to plan, train and execute worldwide rescue and recovery of NASA astronauts during contingency operations.”

Human Space Flight Support operations are conducted by the Department of Defense when requested by NASA, and validated by the DoD. These operations include the contingency search and rescue of NASA and NASA-sponsored astronauts.

For all crewed space flights, Det. 3 oversees the training and posturing of rescue forces on alert at Patrick Space Force Base, Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Additionally, Det. 3 is responsible for coordinating astronaut rescue and recovery, contingency landing site support, payload security, medical support, coordination of airlift/sealift for contingency operations, as well as other support services required in the event of a spacecraft emergency.

Det. 3 has a long and distinguished history working closely with NASA to plan and coordinate DoD rescue, recovery, and retrieval support for their crewed space missions.

“It’s immensely satisfying to take another step forward in the larger leap in our role as the Air Force component to U.S. Space Command,” Pierce said. “The First Air Force team appreciates being a valued joint partner in the defense of the Homeland in the air and space domains.”

CONR-1 AF (AFNORTH and AFSPACE) Public Affairs

Revised Air Force ‘Brown, Blue Book’ Released

Friday, May 13th, 2022

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) —  

The Air Force recently updated the contents of The Enlisted Force Structure and The Profession of Arms: Our Core Values, more commonly known among Airmen as the “Brown” and “Blue” books.

Tradition and heritage are themes found within the revamped foundational guides for Airmen to emulate throughout their career.

“Our Airmen are the greatest competitive advantage we have to deter and defeat the fast-paced, complex threats we face around the globe,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass. “Airmen should approach our mission with the mindset of respect, pride, innovation, and a continued commitment to anticipate and embrace change to achieve excellence.”

The Enlisted Force Structure, or “Brown Book,” provides a standard baseline to best meet mission requirements, while outlining foundational and occupational competencies Airmen should develop as they progress in rank and responsibility. It underscores the importance of character in each tier of the enlisted structure, and clearly outlines standards Airmen must meet and enforce to advance a culture of trust, respect and inclusion.

Although the core of the enlisted force structure remains the same, the updated “Brown Book” supports developing current and future Airmen by adding topics such as: Airman Leadership Qualities, teaming, force development and multi-capable Airmen. The updates outline modernized development changes within the Air Force, in line with the vision to accelerate change across the enterprise.

The Profession of Arms: Our Core Values, known as the “Blue Book,” was originally published in 1996 and provides guidance to Airmen at all levels on the service’s institutional values and guiding principles. This revision extensively explains the Profession of Arms; Service Oaths for Enlisted, Officers and Civil Servants; Air Force Core Values and the Code of Conduct.

“We must periodically review and refresh our foundational guides to ensure we’re giving Airmen the tools they need to succeed in the future force,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. “What hasn’t changed, is every Airman’s responsibility to inspire others, set an example through personal conduct, and promote leadership and accountability across our force.”

The Blue Book calls on Airmen to be dedicated to continuous individual and institutional improvements. It emphasizes the importance of showing respect for others and implements a recommendation of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military by clarifying that engaging in and tolerating sexual assault and sexual harassment are violations of the Air Force Core Values. Stalking, bullying, extremism and discrimination are additional behaviors cited as eroding the foundation upon which the Air Force was built.

In addition to the “Brown” and “Blue” books, Airmen can expect a new “Purple Book” to be released in the summer. The “Purple Book” will aim to educate Airmen about how Airpower fits into the joint-force environment, and connects joint doctrine, values, capabilities and warfighting concepts that capture how the Air Force effectively partners with other services to protect America’s interests across the globe.

“Updating these foundational guides equips Airmen with the resources needed to become highly trained, educated, and adaptable to the threats our competitors present, and the significant role every Airman plays for the mission to be successful,” Bass said.

Developing and updating these guides was part of the 28 Enlisted Force Development Action Plan objectives focused on developing the future enlisted force. The revised “Brown Book” can be found here and the revised “Blue Book” can be found here.

Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Gun Safes Excluded from Military Household Goods Weight Allowance

Monday, May 9th, 2022

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) —  

As of May 2022, the Joint Travel Regulations for service members were updated to exclude the weight of gun safes from the total weight allowance of household goods in a permanent change of station.

As the number of accidental child injuries and deaths continue to rise, more and more incidents are attributed to unsecured, loaded guns. Defense leaders are confident this update will help improve overall gun safety in homes, while also helping to decrease service member suicides.

“We will continue to prioritize the health, safety, and welfare of our Airmen, Guardians, and their families,” said Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall. “We want to ensure our service members have a safe home.”

The weight allowance for household goods falls between 5,000 and 18,000 pounds, based on rank and whether or not a service member has dependents.

With the weight of gun safes typically ranging from 200 to over 1,000 pounds, some service members may have experienced a conflict when choosing between safety and convenience. Now, service members are allowed to ship empty guns safes, not to exceed 500 pounds, in addition to respective household goods weight allowances.

Leaving loaded guns in unsecured areas of the home, such as bedside tables, closet storage rooms and unlocked gun cabinets, creates an opportunity for children to gain access to weapons, putting themselves or others in danger.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that firearms were the leading cause of death among U.S. children and adolescents in 2020.

Beyond the impact unsecured guns have on child safety, the Department of Defense has recognized the significant rise in service member suicide rates and established the Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee in March to address and prevent suicide in the military.

The Department of the Air Force Suicide Prevention Program, Integrated Resilience, Security Forces and the Safety Office combined to promote an effort focused on putting time and space between distressed individuals and the means to harm themselves named “Time-Based Prevention,” which became a part of the Department of the Air Force’s comprehensive suicide prevention strategy.

“We know that increasing the time between one’s suicide ideation and one’s access to a firearm can play a critical role in preventing a suicide. If this policy change prevents just one suicide, it’ll be a success in my eyes,” said Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones.

The concept was presented to Total Force Airmen who shared that the cost of going over their household goods limits is a barrier to using weapon safes in the home, leading the Department of the Air Force to pursue this change to the JTR. The DoD went on to adopt the “Time-Based Prevention” approach as a part of the DoD suicide prevention strategy.

In addition to the JTR update, the Department of the Air Force implemented a cable gun lock safety program in 2020, sending 150,000 cable gun locks to every installation in the United States for distribution to service members on a first-come, first-served basis.

“The bottom line is our first obligation is to the Airmen, Guardians, and families who were courageous enough to raise their right hand to serve this country,” Kendall said. “Everything we do is with them in mind, and this regulation update is no different.”

By SSgt Elora J. McCutcheon, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Language-Enabled Airmen Support Mental Health Initiative with Partner Nation

Sunday, May 8th, 2022

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE —  

A team of seven French Language Enabled Airman Program scholars recently partnered with the Defense Institute for Medical Operations to provide language support for a mental health mobile training team in N’Djamena, Chad.

DIMO’s mission is to be the premier provider of security cooperation-focused health education and training that builds strong, resilient, international partnerships. The mental health MTT was part of a multi-phased effort focused on giving military forces in Chad and Nigeria the tools needed to prepare for combat stressors, deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, and return to combat operations.

This MTT emphasized the mission of the ongoing Invisible Wounds Initiative Command Team Campaign launched by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ. Brown, Jr. and Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond. This campaign was developed to lead, support, and engage Airmen and Guardians living with invisible wounds, such as cognitive, emotional, or behavioral conditions associated with trauma or serious adverse life events.

Howard Ward, AFCLC director, commended the LEAP scholars for “bridging the gaps in culture and language to help partners with something we all have in common as humans: mental health.”

The LEAP team virtually translated six curriculum documents, equating to nearly 5,000 words, from English to French. A portion of the translation project was divided out to each scholar based on the subject for each day of the event and that scholar’s area of expertise. One scholar served as team lead to collect the presentation slides and scripts for each day and ensure flow and ease of readability.

“The LEAP scholars’ participation was vital to the process; their translation of the curriculum drastically decreased, if not eliminated, the language barrier. This ensures the material is understood by the Chadians and increases the likelihood the material is retained and utilized when needed. LEAP is definitely an asset to the total force,” said Jerome Johnson, DIMO’s (U.S. Africa Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Pacific Command) Security Cooperation program manager.

Maj. Marie Gaudreault, French LEAP scholar, participated on the team translating documents for the event and leaned on her knowledge from previous Language Intensive Training events and eMentor courses to complete the project.

“During this translation project, my previous LEAP training helped me recognize what phrases and terms translate well from English to French and which do not,” Gaudreault said. “This helped me create the best product possible at the end of the mission.”

Throughout the project, Gaudreault was amazed to see the Air Force’s emphasis on mental health with partner nations.

“I had no idea we were doing things to promote mental health with our partner nations,” she said. “A lot of the time, we take mental health for granted. It’s a big topic in the U.S. as far as making sure service members have access to mental-health resources, so it was nice to see that we are thinking about that when interacting with partners as well.”

By Mikala McCurry, Air Force Culture and Language Center Outreach Team

Genius or Crazy?

Saturday, May 7th, 2022

This image of a modified Air Force Female Service Dress Blouse has been making the rounds on social media. The intent was obvious. Without garter straps connecting the hem of the shirt to the socks, the shirt will invariably come untucked. I find the modification ingenious, but many have called it crazy.

What say you?

Air University Stands Up Global College of PME, Adds Enlisted Education

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. —  

Air University has reorganized and renamed its distance learning program to reflect the direction civilian institutions are taking with their online courses and to recognize and welcome the addition of enlisted professional military education programs to its offerings. 

The activation of the Global College of PME now places the university’s officer and enlisted distance learning programs under one organization. Previously, distance learning programs for officers fell under the eSchool of Graduate PME and the Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education for enlisted members.

The distance learning programs now nested under the Global College of PME are Squadron Officer School; Air Command and Staff College; Air War College; Online Master’s Program; and Airman Leadership School, Noncommissioned Officer Academy and Senior NCO Academy for enlisted members. The enlisted programs are currently transferring to GCPME, with plans to be completely moved over by early summer. Under current Air Force policy, the enlisted online courses are primarily taken by Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members.

The newly launched enlisted PME courses will take advantage of the same Arizona State University learning management system that officer courses have been on for the last two years.

“What I’m most excited about with this change is the impact to our Airmen around the world,” said Col. Craig Ramsey, who assumed command of the Global College of PME as its first commandant on April 1, 2022. “This gives us access to programs and technology that really enhances the student experience as they complete the courses. Instead of completing assigned readings and taking a test on it, there will be the opportunity for peer-to-peer exchange with others in the online class.”

Ramsey now leads an organization with a projected faculty of 96 and more than 30,000 online students, graduating about 20,000 officers and enlisted members annually. Organizationally, the Global College of PME falls under Air Command and Staff College.

“I’m so proud of the Global College team and what they’ve been doing to get to this point. These professionals continue to deliver a learning experience that gets rave reviews from the students,” he said. “There’s an opportunity here to deliver military education to our Airmen throughout their careers in much the same way they pursue education with a civilian institution. We are fortunate to be on the cutting edge of technology and programs in providing our students a valuable learning experience.”

By Phil Berube, Air University Public Affairs