The DoD Warrior Games, Chicago, IL, 30 June – 8 July 2017
From DoD Warrior Games web site     http://www.dodwarriorgames.com/

The 2017 Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games will be held June 30 – July 8 in Chicago, Ill. Approximately 265 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), as well as the United Kingdom Armed Forces and the Australian Defence Force will participate in the competition.

The Warrior Games exist to provide an opportunity for athletes to grow physically, mentally and spiritually from the sportsmanship and camaraderie gained by representing their respective service teams in a friendly and spirited competition. It is an opportunity for athletes to showcase their enduring warrior spirit in the presence of their families and a grateful nation.

Teams include active-duty service members and veterans with upper-body, lower-body, and spinal cord injuries; traumatic brain injuries; visual impairment; serious illnesses; and post-traumatic stress. They will go head-to-head in archery, cycling, sitting volleyball, shooting, swimming, wheelchair basketball, track and field, engaging in friendly competition and experiencing the healing power of sports.

2017 marks the first year the Warrior Games will be held entirely outside a military installation or a U.S. Olympic Committee facility. Bringing the Warrior Games to Chicago increases public exposure of the event and provides new opportunities to showcase the strength, resilience, and dedication of the participants. With downtown Chicago as the backdrop, the 2017 Games promise to be memorable for the wounded warrior athletes, enjoyable for their caregivers and family members, and inspirational and educational for spectators and other supporters.

The Warrior Games were established in 2010 as a way to enhance the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded warriors and to expose them to adaptive sports. Sponsored by the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, Colo., the inaugural Warrior Games hosted approximately 200 wounded, ill and injured service members. During the following years, the Warrior Games expanded in size and scope.

Defenders on the USAF Team:

 

 
Jamie Biviano, Veteran/Senior Airman
MOS: Security Forces
Hometown: East Syracuse, NY
Events: Archery, Cycling, Field, Shooting, Swimming, Track
“Don’t think that this is the end. We tend to get comfortable in the roles that we made for ourselves, without thinking of the what ifs. None of what we are going through right now was ever planned, but that doesn’t mean we can’t thrive with the cards that were dealt.”

 
Matt Cable, Staff Sergeant
MOS: Security Forces
Hometown: Great Falls, MT
Events: Field, Track
“Seeing individuals who go through tragic events and find the strength to keep fighting and pushing through each and every day is what keeps me pushing and fighting each day.”

 
Vincent Cavazos, Staff Sergeant
MOS: Security Forces
Hometown: Fresno, CA
Events: Archery, Field, Swimming, Track
“Know that even though it may seem like no one understands you or what you are going through there are people in the program that can help you find whatever it is to help bring you happiness and peace in your heart again.”

 
Michael Christiansen, Technical Sergeant
MOS: Security Forces
Hometown: Layton, UT
Events: Archery, Shooting
“Only you hold yourself back. Find your own motivation/what drives you and press the gas pedal. When it gets tough and it hurts and you want to quit, give it 10% more.” 
 

 
Larry O’Neil, Jr., Technical Sergeant
MOS: Security Forces
Hometown: Miami, FL
Events: Field, Sitting Volleyball
"One small crack does not mean that you are broken, it means that you were put to the test and you didn't fall apart."

 
Benjamin G. Seekell, Technical Sergeant
MOS: Security Forces
Hometown: Charlestown, RI
Events: Cycling, Field, Track, Wheelchair Basketball
“There are two choices for those who face adversity: Be defined by your adversity, or be defined by how you overcome it.”

 
Brian Williams, Master Sergeant
MOS: Security Forces
Hometown: Sierra Vista, AZ
Events: Cycling, Sitting Volleyball, Wheelchair Basketball
“Remember where you come from, when you have the opportunity to help and mentor do it. As soon as you feel as though you are too good to do those things, you have forgotten, and might be in the wrong venue; don’t forget.”

  
Terrance Williams, Technical Sergeant
MOS: Security Forces Defender
Hometown: Kankakee, IL
Events: Sitting Volleyball, Track, Wheelchair Basketball
“Try everything, don't quite. You might find that the sports you thought you could no longer do are there for you and only need you to adapt a little bit.”

2017 AFSFA National Meeting Update

If you have never attended an AFSFA National Meeting this summary article about our upcoming 2017 National Meeting will give you a flavor for what to expect in Washington D.C. late this August. Keep in mind, every meeting and location has unique and varied attractions and the banquet will often take on a regional flare highlighting those very differences.

First – registration packets went out 5 July to all current AFSFA members. Look from them in your mailbox any day now.

Second – you can already make your room reservations and have been able to since late May. Here are the dates, contact information and the link to the hotel reservation site:

31st National Meeting 24-27 Aug 2017

Westin Crystal City, 1800 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA 22202

Reservations: (888) 627-8209 or

http://goo.gl/yIg0Iz

You MUST use group name: 2017AFSFA.

Room block is for dates August 23 - August 28 only. There are a LIMITED numbers of rooms available outside these dates (3 days before and after at the same rate). To book outside of these dates, please contact Ashley Foster at 703-769-3940. Room rates are: $129 per night for single occupancy and $139 for double occupancy which includes a full hot breakfast each morning.

General Meeting Summary:

Thursday:

- Morning golf tournament at Joint Base Andrews golf course.

- Morning three professional Security/Law Enforcement training sessions in the hotel for continuing education credits and free to all AFSFA members.

- Afternoon/Evening -- members will start picking up their registration packets in the hotel lobby at 1600 and the Meet and Greet Social will start at 1800.

Friday:

- Morning General Membership Meeting from 0800 to noonish.

- Noonish depart hotel by bus to Joint Base Andrews for lunch and to meet Defenders and receive unit briefings and witness SF demonstrations.

- Friday evening dinner on your own but there is an evening Washington DC monuments bus tour at 1930 hours.

Saturday:

- Morning General Membership Meeting from 0800 to noonish.

- Afternoon open but there is a US Capitol tour available.

- National Meeting Banquet social hour starts at 1800 with dinner at 1900.

Sunday:

- Morning Fallen Defender remembrance ceremony. This is the last official event.

Throughout most of the weekend the hospitality room in the hotel is open for all to relax in and enjoy. The AFSFA Country Store and most of the chapters will have lots of memorabilia for sale. 

Hope to see all of you there!

Reserve Defenders Keep Watch

By Maj. Jon Quinlan, 507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs, Published April 24, 2017

 

 

Senior Airman Micheal Thomas, 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group security forces member, provides armed overwatch for contractors and air advisors performing maintenance on an Afghan Air Force MD-530 Light Attack Helicopter, April 16, 2017, at Kandahar Air Wing, Afghanistan. Thomas is deployed with other Citizen Airmen from the 507th Security Forces Squadron, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Katherine Spessa)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- A group of Citizen Airmen from the 507th Security Forces Squadron here deployed March 31 to Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan, to support the Afghan Air Force in their fight against insurgents in support of NATO’s Resolute Support mission.  

For the next six months, the team of Reserve defenders will be part of a Fly Away Security Team while in Afghanistan. Air Force FAST teams are made up of Security Forces Airmen who travel with aircraft to provide extra security around unsecured foreign airfields.

As a civilian, Senior Airman Casey Jardot of the 507th SFS is a research technician at an oil and gas company. This is his second deployment. He left the Marine Corps to join the Air Force Reserve, and said he is excited to go downrange to perform a vital security mission.  

“It’s important because we are there to show a presence of force and relieve active duty,” Jardot said. “We do so much as Reservists. We’ve got to go to the fight.”

Part of the fight is protecting personnel, multi-million dollar aircraft and sensitive equipment. When air missions depart, security forces travel with the aircraft to protect the mission and provide full security overwatch at forward operating bases.

The defenders also provide security for air advisors while training and advising Afghan security forces at Kandahar Air Base.

According to the 507th SFS unit deployment manager, Tech. Sgt. Kathelene Mercado, the Airmen trained for several months in preparation for this deployment. As Reservists with civilian careers and families, time management and prioritization of training are key elements in preparation for deployments.  

“This mission still exists. The threat is still real,” Mercado said. “We sent out a well-trained team to accomplish the mission.”

The commander of the 507th SFS, Maj. Richard Martin II, said farewell to both groups as they departed Oklahoma City, stating that he would go anywhere at any time with his deploying team.

“They sacrifice a great deal,” Martin said. “It never ceases to amaze me as long as I’ve been doing this job. I watch mothers and fathers hand over their infants and toddlers to go do something they feel very strongly about. That sacrifice they make for the greater good is tremendous.”

Fellow defenders from the 507th SFS joined the Airmen at the airport to show their support and to bid them farewell. When Jardot and his team boarded the plane, he said even though he felt sad to leave his family, he felt anxious to support the mission.

“My hopes are to execute my job to the best of my ability, deliver the commander’s intent, watch my brothers’ backs and come home safe,” he said.

Air Force Buys 100 Dronebuster Devices for Security Forces

By: Charlsy Panzino, June 15, 2017 (Photo Credit: Ng Han Guan/AP)

 

Instead of lugging around 30-pound counter-drone equipment, some security forces airmen will soon have a 5-pound device they can use to jam weaponized drones from the enemy.

The Air Force purchased 100 handheld Dronebuster devices, according to Clay Wild, vice president of marketing for Radio Hill Technologies, a Portland, Oregon-based technology startup that completed the contract for the Air Force. 

The company worked with the Air Force’s Installation Contracting Agency on the $2.5 million purchase.

The use of weaponized drones by the Islamic State has been a rising concern for the past year or two. ISIS drones are now attacking U.S. Special Operations forces around Raqqa, Syria, as U.S.-backed Syrian Defense Forces attempt to liberate the militants' self-proclaimed capital, according to a report Wednesday in The Washington Post. 

The Dronebuster can detect incoming radio frequency signals, which helps troops aim the device in low visibility. It can jam consumer and modified drone radios in several frequency bands, and the five custom antennae provide directional jamming over longer ranges, he said.

Wild said the company Radio Hill Technologieswill start delivering the Air Force systems in July, and then the company will train Air Force trainers on how to use the devices so they can train their airmen. 

“There’s a little bit of classroom time that is warranted for the airmen to understand the radio frequency spectrum, how jammers work, what radio frequencies the drones are flying on versus regular communications versus other systems,” he said. 

The classroom time and practice will only be a few hours, and the device itself is easy to use, Wild said.

 

Air Force Dronebuster

Radio Hill Technologies will start delivering 100 Dronebusters to the Air Force in July, and then train airmen on how to use the devices. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Radio Hill Technologies I 

The Dronebuster, which starts at $30,000, has a “technique generator” that uses less than 10 percent of the battery power for the jamming signal. This allows the device to be smaller than other similar devices.

Most jamming tools are mounted on a rifle, with the jamming antennae stuck on the end of the rifle butt, Wild said. The power is kept in a backpack, and the whole system weighs about 30-40 pounds.

That’s a pretty big unit for airmen or soldiers to carry,” he said. “If any security forces personnel were going to deploy anything, it had to be really small.”

Anything smaller than 5 pounds is tough, Wild said, because the antennae must be a certain size.

Air Force Times

'If you can't talk, you can't fight': Compass Call planes confuse ISIS

Security forces with Air Force Global Strike Command will use the devices at a “variety of sites,” according to an emailed response the Air Force sent to Air Force Times.

“Countering the threat that small, unmanned aircraft systems pose, whether in the hands of hostile forces or negligent actors, is vital to ensuring continued air superiority and protecting U.S. personnel,” the statement said. “The Air Force identified the Dronebusters as an immediately available, off-the-shelf option to aid the Air Force in countering the emerging hostile threat posed by small, unmanned aircraft systems.”

The Air Force said they couldn’t release further details because of security reasons.

The Army's Rapid Equipping Force bought 50 Dronebusters in April.

Charlsy Panzino covers the Guard and Reserve, training, technology, operations and features for Army Times and Air Force Times. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Airman of the Year Saves Lives, Prepares New Airmen for Service

By: Stephen Losey, AF Times, June 27, 2017 (Photo Credit: Andrew C. Patterson/Air Force)

Saving one person’s life usually is enough to establish someone as a hero.

Tech. Sgt. Megan Harper saved two lives in a single evening.

Harper is Air Force Times’ 2017 Airman of the Year due to her nearly 15 years of service excellence — from the battlefields of Iraq as a security forces airman, to her devotion to producing outstanding young airmen as a Military Training Instructor, to serving her community and saving lives at home.

Harper’s flight commander, Maj. Christopher Sweeney, said her passion and enthusiasm have made her respected by all as she trains and inspires her basic trainees. She leads from the front, with compassion, and doesn’t hesitate to do as much as she asks of her trainees.

“She’s an instructor who’s going to get out there and do it with you,” Sweeney said. “If it’s time to get down and do some push-ups, she’s going to get down and do them with you. She’s going to lead you through them.”

Harper, of Mesquite, Texas, is the child of two soldiers — her mother was in the medical field, and her father was a personnelist. She joined the Air Force in November 2002, after the Sept. 11 attacks because, she said, “It was my turn to serve

“It was something that I was moved to do, and … be a part of that initiative to take that fight downrange as opposed to having it here on American soil,” Harper said. “When I went to the recruiter, they asked me what I wanted to do, and I said, ‘I just want to kill terrorists.’ And they looked at me and said, ‘Oh, we have the job for you,’ and told me that security forces, if I wanted to deploy and have a weapon and get into the fight, that was going to be my best chance there.”

The recruiters steered Harper right, she said. She deployed five times — first to Kirkuk, Iraq, in fall 2003 for six months, and later to Balad, Iraq; Kuwait twice; and Manas, Kyrgyzstan.

'Constant action, constant alert'

In Kirkuk, Harper and her fellow airmen provided airbase defense, securing the perimeter and the entries to facilities. It was intense and dangerous, Harper said. Her base was mortared several times, and she was involved in firefights.

“Definitely grew me up,” Harper said. “It was almost constant action, and on constant alert. [But] I was actually more amped up to be part of the mission, as opposed to actually fearing anything.”

 

 Tech. Sgt. Megan Harper leads a small group discussion with airmen in basic military training. Photo Credit: Andrew C. Patterson/Air Force

In May 2004, Harper became the ninth woman in Air Force history to finish the elite security forces Phoenix Raven program, which specially trains airmen to provide security on-board aircraft while in flight — such as protecting the cockpit when foreign nationals are on board — and provide ground security when those airplanes land in dangerous areas. That training program was intensely physical, she said, teaching hand-to-hand combat and baton techniques, as well as undergoing air marshal training.

In 2014, Harper became an MTI and said it was the “absolute best decision I’ve ever made in my career.”

Today, she said, she doesn’t see the same “call to service” that there was right after 9/11. So when a young man or woman decides to take the oath and serve, she’s honored to help them become airmen.

“It’s incredibly important that we teach and we train and we mentor and inspire our replacements, because that’s who we’re handing the security of our nation over to in the future,” Harper said. “I’m incredibly humbled to be able to do that every day — to take someone from a civilian and teach them what it is to serve by that oath, and encompass and embody core values and commitment to service.”

Harper has trained 1,125 new airmen and graduated 22 flights since she became an MTI at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas.

Recently, Sweeney said, Harper was named a master military training instructor and received the blue rope showing she is among the top 10 percent of MTIs in the Air Force.

She also oversees 14 other instructors as an interim instruction supervisor — the only one in her unit who is not a master sergeant, although earlier this year she was selected for E-7. That promotion will take her past 20 years of service, though she wants to stay in uniform as long as possible.

“They’re going to have to force me out,” Harper said.

 

Tech. Sgt. Megan Harper, a military training instructor, works with airmen on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Harper is the 2017 Airman of the Year. Photo Credit: Andrew C. Patterson/Air Force

Saving lives

 On May 9, 2016, Harper’s quick thinking and dedication saved the lives of two people in separate incidents.

 First, she performed the Heimlich maneuver on a trainee who began choking in the dining facility at Lackland. Another trainee motioned to the instructors' table that the choking trainee needed help, and Harper and another instructor responded. The trainee was holding his neck and turning blue, Harper said, so she told him to stand up and that she was going to perform the Heimlich maneuver. She dislodged the stuck food with three forceful thrusts, and the trainee was fine.

Less than three hours later, as she was leaving base, Harper saw a pedestrian who had been struck by a motor vehicle and stopped to help. The young woman’s breathing and heart rate were shallow, she said, so Harper sprung into action.

She went back to her car and grabbed gloves, dressing and a few bandages, and light-up discs to set up around the area and redirect traffic. She then started to perform first aid. She took off her ABU blouse, balled it up, and slid it under the victim’s head to keep her stable in case her spine or neck was injured.

The victim was bleeding profusely from the back of her head, which was also swelling severely, so Harper applied pressure to try to stop the bleeding. When Harper was silent, the victim would start to violently shake, so she kept talking to the victim to calm her down, reassure her that an ambulance was coming, and kept her from going into shock.

Harper followed the ambulance to the hospital and waited until about 2:30 in the morning in case they got in touch with the woman’s family, so she could tell them what happened. Harper knows the woman survived the night and was in critical condition, but because of privacy rules, she never found out what happened to her afterwards.

For her actions, Harper received the Air Force Achievement Medal — though Sweeney said that due to Harper’s humility, other airmen had to drag the details of the incidents out of her.

Harper is also heavily involved in volunteer activities that support veterans, such as the Bataan Death March memorial race and drives to collect hygiene supplies for female veterans in San Antonio and uniforms for junior ROTC cadets.

She also works with Team Rubicon, a veterans organization that responds to natural disasters such as tornadoes and flooding, and programs to help underprivileged youth like the Juvenile Justice Center, an alternative school for at-risk young people who have been kicked out of school.

Harper also heads up a mentorship program for young LGBT troops coming in to the military. And later in June, Harper is scheduled to brief a two-star general on implementing transgender policies at basic training.

“She is knowledgeable, she is approachable, credible, all of those professionalism pieces you look for, that’s her,” Sweeney said. “She’s just hungry for it. She just really wants to be the best airman she could be.”

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