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Christian Academy-Sidney, Lehman High School, Senior Center of Sidney/Shelby Co., Sidney City Schools, Sidney Holy Angels, Tri-Village Schools,

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Springfield guardsmen to deploy to help during Hurricane Irma

Published: Thursday, September 07, 2017 @ 1:30 PM
Updated: Thursday, September 07, 2017 @ 1:43 PM

Col. Norman Poklar, of the Ohio Air National Guards 251st Cyber Engineering Installation Group and Capt. Craig Conner, of the 269th Combat Communications Squadron, point toward Joint Incident Site Communication Capability equipment that would be used in case of a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina. Jeff Guerini/Staff
Col. Norman Poklar, of the Ohio Air National Guards 251st Cyber Engineering Installation Group and Capt. Craig Conner, of the 269th Combat Communications Squadron, point toward Joint Incident Site Communication Capability equipment that would be used in case of a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina. Jeff Guerini/Staff

Six airmen from the 269th Combat Communications Squadron in Springfield are preparing to deploy to Puerto Rico to provide communication support for first responders and other government agencies in response to Hurricane Irma, according to information from the Ohio Air National Guard.

RELATED: Portman: Springfield base in good position to add missions

The storm, one of the strongest ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, hit the Caribbean Wednesday with winds recorded of up to 185 miles per hour.

WPAFB Puerto Rico delivery

The 269th Combat Communications Squadron has provided tactical communications support for Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and more recently, the 2016 Republican National Convention. The squadron is capable of providing communication capabilities with mobile satellite, electricity, telephone and other services.

READ MORE

Construction begins on road relocation near Air Guard base

Former Springfield base commander retiring from National Guard

Retaliatory culture has not changed in military, ex-prosecutor says

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 4:35 PM


            In this May 15, 2017 file photo, Air Force Academy Cadets pass in review after Brig. Gen. Kristin Goodwin assumed command of the AFA cadet wing at a ceremony at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
In this May 15, 2017 file photo, Air Force Academy Cadets pass in review after Brig. Gen. Kristin Goodwin assumed command of the AFA cadet wing at a ceremony at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Former female Air Force Academy cadets who withdrew after they said they faced retaliation when they reported they were sexually assaulted shows a need for a culture change throughout the military, a former prosecutor said.

“What it says about the climate is that despite all the military’s promise that they are taking this seriously and they are there to support survivors, the reality is that when a person is sexually assaulted in the military and then (reports it), whether they are at the academy or whether they are on active duty, the odds are that their career is going to be over,” said Don Christensen, president of the advocacy group Protect Our Defenders and a retired colonel who was a chief Air Force prosecutor.

“They’ll be subjected to pervasive retaliation both by their peers and by their superiors,” he said.

During a six-month investigation, CBS This Morning reported Monday it interviewed more than a dozen current or former cadets who said they faced retaliation after they reported sexual assaults to the academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Two of those interviewed Monday were women who were cadets but dropped out, and two current cadets whose identities were disguised. One of those interviewed said while she was subject to continued harassment after filing a report, her alleged attacker graduated at the prestigious school that produces Air Force officers.

Wright-Patterson assaults rise

Last month, the Defense Department released data for every major U.S. military installation in the world that showed Wright-Patterson Air Force Base had 30 reports of sexual assaults in 2016, nearly double the number from the previous two years. The Miami Valley base, which has an estimated 27,000 employees, recorded 17 assaults in both 2013 and 2014 and 19 cases in fiscal year 2013.

RELATED: Sexual assaults reported at Wright-Patt doubles in the past two years

The Defense Department data also showed the Air Force Academy had a higher number of sexual assaults than any other Air Force installation. The service academy had 44 reports in 2016, the Pentagon reported.

“Number one, they need to change the culture,” Christensen said. “This isn’t just the Air Force Academy, this is all the service academies.

“The military, as with anything they address (about) this issue, is more empty promises,” Christensen said. “On the one hand, they tell Congress that they’ve got it. On the other hand, behind the scenes, they support the people that have committed the rapes and force out the survivors.”

Meade Warthen, an Air Force Academy spokesman, told this outlet academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay B. Silveria’s would give a response to the investigation Tuesday on CBS This Morning. Warthen also sent this statement:

“What I can tell you in the interim, is that the Air Force Academy is deeply concerned by the allegations regarding the treatment of sexual assault victims at the Academy,” the statement said. “Dozens of professionals like Special Victims Counselors, Mental Health Professionals, Victim Advocates and more dedicate themselves day in and day out to the service of caring for the victims of this horrible crime. But the Academy is also focused on the root cause and believes creating and sustaining a climate of dignity and respect is absolutely essential to ending the scourge of sexual assault. One assault is too many and we will never rest until the number is zero.”

Retaliation complaints

Christensen cited a Department of Defense investigation that showed one in three women who have filed a sexual assault report leave the military within a year. Further, he said, about 60 percent of those who have said they experienced harassment or assault reported instances of retaliation since 2010.

RELATED: 32 sexual assaults reported at Wright-Patt AFB in 4-year period

“It’s not getting any better,” he said. “It’s probably getting worse and the retaliation is as bad as ever. The leadership knows about the retaliation and does nothing about it. That to me is their inability to speak out strongly and to hold people accountable. It sends a clear message to survivors, report at your own peril.”

In a statement last month, Wright-Patterson responded to the sharp increase in reported assaults.

“We cannot identify any significant trends in the increase,” spokeswoman Marie Vanover said in a Nov. 20 email. “While each case has its own unique attribute, the number is not indicative of the number of assaults that occurred at Wright-Patt. There are many factors that go into the numbers; including some cases accounting for more than one incident.

“We’re dedicated to fostering an environment of respect by standing against anyone who commits sexual assault and supporting survivors, whenever and wherever it may have occurred,” the statement said.

Christensen has said in his more than two decades of military judicial experience the “vast majority” of reported assaults occurred on or near the installation where they were first recorded.

2016 Air Force installation sex assault cases

U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.: 44

Kadena Air Base, Japan: 37

Ramstein Air Base, Germany: 36

Travis Air Force Base, Calif: 34

Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.: 33

Wright-Patterson: 30

Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas and Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.: 27

Source: Department of Defense

A return of flying sergeants? Air Force says no despite too few pilots

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 5:00 AM

Could dual-track pilot careers save Air Force pilots?

The Air Force will launch a high-tech training experiment testing both officers and enlisted airmen to prepare pilots for the cockpit faster.

But, despite a growing shortage of aviators, it won’t be a return to the wartime days of flying sergeants – at least for now, according to the Air Force.

The six-month initiative at a military reserve center in Austin, Texas will reportedly include 15 commissioned officers, and five enlisted airmen who have recently graduated boot camp.

RELATED: Air Force facing growing crisis in pilot shortage

The initiative, dubbed “Pilot Training Next,” will use virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, bio-metrics and data analytics to determine if aviators can be trained faster and cheaper using technology, an Air Force spokeswoman said in an interview.

The Air Education and Training Command’s latest training experiment, set to begin next February, is meant to find out if technology can help airmen of different educational backgrounds learn faster in the pilot-training pipeline, the Air Force said.

“We are going to use immersive technology to see how we can help people learn more effectively,” Lt. Col. Robert Vicars, Pilot Training Next director said in a statement. “This is an initiative to explore whether or not these technologies can help us learn deeper and faster.”

The Air Force, the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve, confront a shortage of about 2,000 aviators – and of that about 1,300 were fighter pilots. Many have been drawn out of the cockpit by an airline industry hiring binge or may have tired of a high number of deployments overseas.

RELATED: Wright Patt,defense firm, work to protect weapons from cyber threats

Training military pilots takes time and money: Two years of undergraduate fighter pilot training costs taxpayers more than $1 million for each aviator.

Still, despite the unusual move of including enlisted airmen in the experiment, they will not advance to undergraduate pilot training, according to Air Force spokeswoman Erika Yepsen.

For decades, the Air Force has reserved jobs for pilots to fly aircraft to commissioned officers who are college graduates.

However, to fill a gap of a shortage of aviators in wartime, enlisted pilots flew in World War I and World War II, historical documents show. Thousands flew in World War II alone, but still made up only about 1 percent of pilots, documents show.

RELATED: House defense leader at Wright Patt, says AF pilot shortage is growing

The Air Force has opened the door for enlisted troops in one area: Flying drones, which the service branch calls remotely piloted aircraft.

Since last year, the Air Force has trained enlisted airmen to fly the RQ-4 Global Hawk, a high-flying spy drone.

So far, 11 enlisted airmen have earned their wings as drone pilots, and that number could reach 100 by 2020, Yepsen said.

Kenneth E. Curell, 65, a former Air Force and Air National Guard fighter pilot who became an airline and corporate pilot, said in an email he did not believe enlisted airmen should be pilots of manned aircraft yet.

“If the objective is to proactively address pilot shortages, then the Air Force needs to experiment with and implement other options to entice prospective pilot candidates into the (Air Force) and promote initiatives that directly address areas pilots have identified as retention barriers,” the Centerville resident said. “Air Force leadership has not institutionally affected areas pilots perennially identify as retention barriers.”

Consequently, he added, pilots have “lost confidence” initiatives put in place to address the pilot shortage will stay beyond the next round of senior level leadership.

An F-22 Raptor demonstration pilot in the cockpit of the stealh figther before flying in the Vectren Dayton Air Show in 2008. TY GREENLEES/STAFF FILE PHOTO(Staff Writer)

Air Force Marathon chooses drone as ‘official’ aircraft of 2018 races

Published: Sunday, December 10, 2017 @ 10:13 AM


            The MQ-9 Reaper drone will be the “official” aircraft of the 2018 Air Force Marathon. CONTRIBUTED
The MQ-9 Reaper drone will be the “official” aircraft of the 2018 Air Force Marathon. CONTRIBUTED

The MQ-9 Reaper drone has been chosen as the “official” aircraft of the 2018 Air Force Marathon, a series of races that draw thousands of runners across the nation and other countries to the Miami Valley.

This marks the second time the Air Force has chosen an unmanned aerial vehicle as the aircraft for the contest.

RELATED: Hypersonic research could lead to future spy drone

In 2009, the MQ-4 Global Hawk, a reconnaissance drone, was the first, according to the Air Force.

The Air Force marathon has drawn more than 15,000 runners in recent years, who compete in full- and half-marathons, and a 10K race at Wright-Patterson and a 5K race at Wright State University.

RELATED; Drones, lasers, hypersonic weapons will be ‘game-changers’

The Reaper will be featured on runners’ medals and T-shirts. The marathon is scheduled for Sept. 15, 2018.

Congress passes stopgap spending bill to avert weekend shutdown

Published: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 6:16 PM


            The Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center and the Aviation Trail Visitors Center in Dayton. A partial government shutdown in 2013 temporarily closed the historic sites. LISA POWELL / STAFF FILE PHOTO
            Lisa Powell
The Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center and the Aviation Trail Visitors Center in Dayton. A partial government shutdown in 2013 temporarily closed the historic sites. LISA POWELL / STAFF FILE PHOTO(Lisa Powell)

The House and Senate on Thursday passed a stopgap spending bill to prevent a government shutdown this weekend and buy time for challenging talks on a wide range of unfinished business on Capitol Hill.

The measure passed on a vote of 235-193 in the House and 81-14 in the Senate, and would keep the government running through Dec. 22. The resolution was set to be sent to President Donald Trump for his signature.

Without the stopgap, funding would have run out and a partial federal government shutdown would have ensued.

Cassie B. Barlow witnessed the consequences of a 16-day partial federal government shutdown in October 2013 when about 13,000 civil service employees at Ohio’s largest single-site employer were sent home on furlough at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

“The biggest impact is a loss of trust on behalf of the employees and that’s something that is difficult to recover from,” the retired Air Force colonel and former base commander said in an interview Thursday with this news outlet. “These are people who have made a commitment to serve for 10, 20, 30, 40 years.”

The ripple effect of the shutdown stopped work in many cases throughout the base, which has major headquarters for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and Air Force Research Laboratory that support the entire Air Force.

“It really is just devastating and it’s very disruptive to getting work done,” she said.

RELATED: Base workers ‘concerned;’ top senator says government won’t shut down

Congressional votes

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said he “reluctantly” voted yes for the stop gap spending measure to extend funding for two weeks “on the condition that leadership is making representation that they’re close to a budget deal,” he said in an interview Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, also said he would vote for the stop gap legislation.

“Really my inclination is to vote no except that we can’t really shut the government down,” said Davidson, who expressed frustration with Senate inaction on House spending legislation.

Still, both representatives expected the temporary funding measure to pass Congress.

Turner was “not very confident” a final budget deal would be reached Dec. 22, citing uncertainty of what the Senate would do.

“If this become politics as usual, we could have a shut down,” he said.

Davidson said he was “not incredibly optimistic” a deal would be reached in two weeks with the Senate.

RELATED: Report: Air Force has microwave energy weapon that can zap NK’s missiles

‘Unfortunate mood’

Troy Tingey, president of American Federation of Government Employees Council 214, which represents thousands of Wright-Patterson employees, said members were concerned but expected a shutdown would be avoided.

Still, the years-long cycle of facing potential government shutdowns has taken a toll and led some to consider more stable employment outside of civil service, he said.

“The unfortunate mood is they’ve almost become immune to it so one of these days when it actually hits this time of the year, it will have a great impact on them,” he said.

The last time a shutdown hit four years ago, the Dayton region suffered economically, said Michael Gessel, Dayton Development Coalition vice president of federal programs.

“The effect of a government shutdown would be acute in the Dayton region because our economy is so dependent on the federal government but there would also be detrimental ripples throughout the country and it would cost our nation’s economy significantly,” he said.

RELATED: General: Spending needed if you want to hire; fly B-52s until 2040

S&P Global reported a shutdown could cost the U.S. economy $6.5 billion a week or 0.2 percent of gross domestic product growth in the fourth quarter, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Two key federal agencies in the region will not be impacted, however. The Dayton VA Medical Center and its four community clinics will stay open because the agency is funded through a two-year budget, spokesman Ted Froats said.

The U.S. Post Office, which is self-funded, will continue to deliver mail, post offices will remain open and passport applications processed, according to spokesman David G. Van Allen, an agency spokesman. Mail for federal agencies, however, will be held at processing plants until government operations resume, he said in an email.

If a shutdown had occurred, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force would close Saturday and employees would be sent home until funding was restored, said spokesman Rob Bardua. The world’s largest military aviation museum attracts about a million visitors a year.

National Park Service sites in the Dayton region temporarily closed during the last shutdown.

What will happen?

Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Security in Washington, D.C., has watched Washington politics for years. He said reaching a final budget deal by Dec. 22 was “a flip of the coin.”

RELATED: Air Force facing growing crisis in pilot shortage

“The main obstacles to reaching a budget deal and getting defense appropriations passed have little to do with defense,” he said in an email. “Sixty votes are needed in the Senate to reach a budget deal, which means it has to have some level of bipartisan support. The key budget issue that needs to be resolved is the level of non-defense spending, and both Democrats and Republicans are adding non-budget issues to the negotiations as well, like immigration, health care, and the border wall.”

If a shutdown happened at the Miami Valley base, where more than 27,000 employees work, military personnel and civilian employees in key jobs would report to duty, but would not be paid until the government shutdown is over, Defense Department officials said.

Among civil service workers, the determination of who would stay home and who would report to work would depend on if the activity was tax-funded or self-funded or whether an employee’s job is deemed essential for safety, the protection of human life or national security, Pentagon officials said.

Those exempted in the last shutdown at Wright-Patterson, for example, included firefighters, police officers and health care workers.

RELATED: Lack of defense budget raising concerns at Wright-Patterson

A shutdown this time would have similar results to one four years ago, said Capt. Hope Cronin, an Air Force spokeswoman at the Pentagon.

But even with another long-term continuing resolution, the Air Force and the Defense Department would be unable to start new programs, officials said. For the Air Force, it could reduce flying hours and postpone construction of facilities, among other impacts, she said.

“In essence, it just continues fiscal uncertainty,” Cronin said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.