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CAMP DENALI, Alaska – Two hunters found themselves huddled over a fire in the middle of the woods, clinging to hope that help would arrive, after their small propeller plane crash landed outside of Talkeetna, Alaska, earlier this month. Their rescue on July 1 would prove to be a significant milestone not only in their memory banks but with the search-and-rescue community as well. “Your hope is in being found; I don’t think I could have walked out of that area, and that’s something I don’t think people really take that seriously,” said Bill Gough, the pilot of the downed aircraft from Vancouver, Wash. Gough and his friend were rescued by the Alaska Air National Guard under command and control of the Alaska (11th Air Force) Rescue Coordination Center. He became the 2,000th life saved since July 1, 1994, when the RCC became manned solely by Alaska Air National Guardsmen under the operational active-duty commander of the 11th Air Force. Since that time, the men and women of the Alaska Air National Guard have been keeping watch 24 hours a day, seven days a week, coordinating an average of more than five missions a week. “We were extremely lucky and those guys did a bang-up job,” Gough said. “It’s a real wake-up call, and I just want to thank those guys.” Throughout the past 19 years, there have been more than 5,000 missions that have led to the 2,000 lives saved. “People know that when they go out recreating that if they get lost or in distress, they can count on us to come and look for them,” said Senior Master Sgt. Robert Carte, RCC superintendent. “Our mission is to provide a safe and timely response to aircraft events over the land mass of Alaska. In addition, we assist any other search-and-rescue agency should they need military assets and coordination, so we’re often involved with ground searches and missions in Alaska’s waters as well.” Many survivors keep in touch with rescuers and find they form unbreakable bonds rooted from these life-and-death situations. “Thank you would be the first thing that would come out of my mouth, but more than that, I feel like I owe it to them to keep in contact a little bit to let them know I’m recovered, and I’m taking ownership of my recovery and making sure that I get back to that 100 percent functional state,” said Jake Collins, who was rescued in 2006 after a fall while sheep hunting left him unconscious for weeks and suffering from hypothermia and seizures. “It means the world to me that they were on call, that there was someone for my dad to call in the wee hours of the morning to get help out here and get me off the mountain.” It’s a test of true heroism that rescuers put themselves in perilous situations to save another life, but they say, it’s a fulfilling mission. “We train all the time for this stuff, but at night we do sit and think about the gravity and intensity of the things that we all have to do,” said Master Sgt. Roger Sparks, 212th Rescue Squadron pararescueman, Alaska Air National Guard. “I do it just because I think it’s a very virtuous job to be able to do things that I’ve trained my whole life at; I’ve been in the military 20 years and to use those things for virtuous activity, to save other human beings, it gives back to you quite a bit.” “It’s an extremely rewarding mission,” Carte said. “We know the citizens and state depend on us, and it’s not a responsibility we take lightly.” The RCC relies heavily on the support of other agencies during search-and rescue missions. Aside from the Alaska Air National Guard and Alaska Army National Guard, these agencies can also be called upon: Alaska State Troopers, U.S. Coast Guard District 17, Civil Air Patrol, National Park Service, North Slope Arctic Borough Search and Rescue, Alaska Mountain Rescue, SEADOGS K-9 Search and Rescue Team, Anchorage Nordic Ski Patrol and various other volunteer search groups. “From helicopter crews to maintenance to surgical teams at the hospitals to everybody, it is a completely total team concept,” said Master Sgt. Brandon Stuemke, 212th Rescue Squadron pararescueman, Alaska Air National Guard. “It takes everybody to get the job done and the mission accomplished. It’s not about one individual; it’s about everybody.” Although only the individuals in distress are counted toward the mission totals, survivors say the impact of the rescuers’ actions reaches far beyond what can be measured with tally marks and save summaries. “I was a life that was saved but also because I was saved I have two beautiful girls now and I have a lovely wife,” Collins said. “It’s the spider effect as it goes out and all the lives that are affected in addition to the one life that may have been saved.”


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Public Domain Mark
This work, Alaska Guardsmen Save 2,000 lives, by George Kale, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:07.24.2013

Date Posted:09.11.2013 1:53PM

Category:Package

Video ID:301048

VIRIN:130724-D-FZ583-172

Filename:DOD_100909490

Length:00:05:37

Location:JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, AK, USGlobe

More Like This

  • Two hunters found themselves huddled over a fire in the middle of the woods, clinging to hope that help would arrive, after their small propeller plane crash landed outside of Talkeetna, Alaska, earlier this month.

 

Their rescue on July 1 would prove to be a significant milestone not only in their memory banks but with the search-and-rescue community as well.

 

“Your hope is in being found; I don’t think I could have walked out of that area, and that’s something I don’t think people really take that seriously,” said Bill Gough, the pilot of the downed aircraft from Vancouver, Wash.

 

Gough and his friend were rescued by the Alaska Air National Guard under command and control of the Alaska (11th Air Force) Rescue Coordination Center. He became the 2,000th life saved since July 1, 1994, when the RCC became manned solely by Alaska Air National Guardsmen under the operational active-duty commander of the 11th Air Force.

 

Since that time, the men and women of the Alaska Air National Guard have been keeping watch 24 hours a day, seven days a week, coordinating an average of more than five missions a week.

 

“We were extremely lucky and those guys did a bang-up job,” Gough said. “It’s a real wake-up call, and I just want to thank those guys.”

 

Throughout the past 19 years, there have been more than 5,000 missions that have led to the 2,000 lives saved.

 

“People know that when they go out recreating that if they get lost or in distress, they can count on us to come and look for them,” said Senior Master Sgt. Robert Carte, RCC superintendent. “Our mission is to provide a safe and timely response to aircraft events over the land mass of Alaska. In addition, we assist any other search-and-rescue agency should they need military assets and coordination, so we’re often involved with ground searches and missions in Alaska’s waters as well.”

 

Many survivors keep in touch with rescuers and find they form unbreakable bonds rooted from these life-and-death situations.

 

“Thank you would be the first thing that would come out of my mouth, but more than that, I feel like I owe it to them to keep in contact a little bit to let them know I’m recovered, and I’m taking ownership of my recovery and making sure that I get back to that 100 percent functional state,” said Jake Collins, who was rescued in 2006 after a fall while sheep hunting left him unconscious for weeks and suffering from hypothermia and seizures. “It means the world to me that they were on call, that there was someone for my dad to call in the wee hours of the morning to get help out here and get me off the mountain.”

 

It’s a test of true heroism that rescuers put themselves in perilous situations to save another life, but they say, it’s a fulfilling mission.

 

“We train all the time for this stuff, but at night we do sit and think about the gravity and intensity of the things that we all have to do,” said Master Sgt. Roger Sparks, 212th Rescue Squadron pararescueman, Alaska Air National Guard. “I do it just because I think it’s a very virtuous job to be able to do things that I’ve trained my whole life at; I’ve been in the military 20 years and to use those things for virtuous activity, to save other human beings, it gives back to you quite a bit.”

 

“It’s an extremely rewarding mission,” Carte said. “We know the citizens and state depend on us, and it’s not a responsibility we take lightly.”

 

The RCC relies heavily on the support of other agencies during search-and rescue missions. Aside from the Alaska Air National Guard and Alaska Army National Guard, these agencies can also be called upon: Alaska State Troopers, U.S. Coast Guard District 17, Civil Air Patrol, National Park Service, North Slope Arctic Borough Search and Rescue, Alaska Mountain Rescue, SEADOGS K-9 Search and Rescue Team, Anchorage Nordic Ski Patrol and various other volunteer search groups.

 

“From helicopter crews to maintenance to surgical teams at the hospitals to everybody, it is a completely total team concept,” said Master Sgt. Brandon Stuemke, 212th Rescue Squadron pararescueman, Alaska Air National Guard. “It takes everybody to get the job done and the mission accomplished. It’s not about one individual; it’s about everybody.”

 

Although only the individuals in distress are counted toward the mission totals, survivors say the impact of the rescuers’ actions reaches far beyond what can be measured with tally marks and save summaries.

 

“I was a life that was saved but also because I was saved I have two beautiful girls now and I have a lovely wife,” Collins said. “It’s the spider effect as it goes out and all the lives that are affected in addition to the one life that may have been saved.” Also available in high definition
  • This week on Today's Air Force the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force gives his take on force management, Airmen plan recovery operations for NASA's Orion spacecraft, and an Air Force First Sergeant learns how to let go.

Script:

THIS WEEK ON TODAY'S AIR FORCE, THE CHIEF MASTER SERGEANT OF THE AIR FORCE GIVES HIS TAKE ON FORCE MANAGEMENT ... AIRMEN PLAN RECOVERY OPERATIONS FOR NASA'S ORION SPACECRAFT, AND AN AIR FORCE FIRST SERGEANT LEARNS HOW TO LET GO.  WE'LL HAVE ALL THOSE STORIES AND MORE RIGHT NOW, ON TODAY'S AIR FORCE.  
SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE DEBORAH LEE JAMES AND THE CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE AIR FORCE GENERAL MARK WELSH THE THIRD MET WITH THE HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE TO DISCUSS THE FUTURE OF THE AIR FORCE UNDER FISCAL CONSTRAINT. SENIOR AIRMAN JAMIE JAGGERS HAS MORE. 
SRA JAMIE JAGGERS: THE SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE AND THE CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE AIR FORCE HAVE SPOKEN BEFORE THE HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 2015 DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION BUDGET REQUEST. SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE DEBORAH LEE JAMES OPENED WITH HER THREE MAIN REQUESTS. 
JAMES: FIRST OF ALL I HAVE NOTED LEADERS AT ALL LEVELS, AND THESE ARE OUR OFFICER LEADERS AS WELL AS OUR ENLISTED LEADERS, AND THEY ARE TAKING ON TOUGH ISSUES IN A TOUGH BUDGETARY ENVIRONMENT BUT THEY'RE DOING IT WITH A CAN DO SPIRIT AND THEY'RE GETTING THINGS DONE DESPITE DIFFICULTIES. SECONDLY I HAVE SEEN SUPERB TOTAL FORCE TEAM WORK AND HERE I'M TALKING PARTICULARLY WITH OUR NATIONAL GUARD RESERVE FORCES OPERATING WITH OUR ACTIVE DUTY AIR FORCE - AND THIS IS FROM HEADQUARTERS RIGHT ON DOWN TO THE UNIT LEVEL - I'VE SEEN THEM GET THE JOB DONE. AND NUMBER THREE ACROSS THE BOARD JUST AMAZING AMAZING AIRMEN WHO ARE ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT WHAT THEY'RE DOING IN SERVICE TO OUR NATION. EVERYWHERE I GO I DO TOWN HALL MEETINGS - WITH THAT ENTHUSIASM THEY ALSO ARE LOOKING TO US, THEY'RE LOOKING TO YOU, THEY'RE LOOKING TO OUR NATION'S LEADERS FOR DECISIONS, SOME GREATER STABILITY IF WE CAN GIVE IT TO THEM AND ... LEADERSHIP IN THESE CHALLENGING TIMES. 
CHIEF OF STAFF GENERAL MARK WELSH ALSO EMPHASIZED THE DIFFICULTY OF BUDGET CONSTRAINTS. 
WELSH: THERE ARE NO MORE EASY CUTS THAT'S JUST WHERE WE ARE. AND WE CANNOT IGNORE THE FACT THAT THE LAW SAYS WE'LL RETURN TO SEQUESTERED FUNDING LEVELS IN FY16. TO PREPARE FOR THAT THE AIR FORCE MUST CUT PEOPLE AND FORCE STRUCTURE NOW TO CREATE A FORCE THAT IS BALANCED ENOUGH THAT WE CAN AFFORD TO TRAIN AND OPERATE IT IN 16 AND BEYOND. WE STARTED OUR BUDGET PLANNING BY MAKING TWO SIGNIFICANT ASSUMPTIONS. FIRST IS THAT THE AIR FORCE MUST BE CAPABLE OF FIGHTING AND WINNING A FULL SPECTRUM FIGHT AGAINST A WELL-ARMED, WELL EQUIPPED, WELL TRAINED ENEMY. SECOND - IS THAT "READY TODAY" VS. "MODERN TOMORROW" CANNOT AN "EITHER-OR" DECISION - WE MUST BE BOTH. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE FISCAL YEAR 2015 BUDGET, HEAD TO OUR FEATURED LINKS ON AF.MIL. FROM WASHINGTON, I'M SRA JAMIE JAGGERS. 
IN RESPONSE TO FISCAL CONCERNS VOICED BY AIRMEN, THE UNDERSECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE, ERIC FANNING, HAS ALSO PROMISED AIRMEN THAT LEADERSHIP WILL REMAIN TRANSPARENT IN ITS DECISIONS. FANNING DISCUSSED EQUIPMENT AND PERSONNEL BUDGETS CITING CONCERNS FROM AIRMEN THAT SUGGEST THE AIR FORCE CARES MORE ABOUT ITS AIRCRAFT AND GEAR THAN ITS OWN PEOPLE. THE SECRETARY ASSURED AIRMEN THAT THIS IS NOT THE CASE BUT RATHER THAT THE AIR FORCE IS CONCERNED WITH PROVIDING THE BEST EQUIPMENT FOR ITS AIRMEN, ESPECIALLY THOSE THAT THEY ASK TO GO INTO HARM'S WAY.
WITH THAT BEING SAID, AIR FORCE OFFICIALS HAVE RESUMED FORCE MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS AFTER ENDING A STRATEGIC PAUSE.

CHIEF MASTER SERGEANT OF THE AIR FORCE JAMES CODY, FIELDED QUESTIONS REGARDING RUMORS AND SPECULATIONS SURROUNDING FORCE MANAGEMENT ISSUES ON SOCIAL MEDIA. SO FOR THIS WEEK'S STRAIGHT FROM THE TOP WE'LL TAKE A PEEK AT WHAT THE CHIEF HAD TO SAY DURING THE LATEST EDITION OF CHIEFCHAT, A MONTHLY SHOW WHERE THE TOP ENLISTED LEADER ANSWERS TOUGH QUESTIONS FROM AIRMEN ... WHO WANT TO KNOW.  
SRA ALINA RICHARD: BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA FOR ANOTHER QUESTION - FROM FACEBOOK. THIS ONE IS FROM ADAM WRIGHT.  HE SAYS THAT THERE ARE ALOT OF RUMORS ABOUT THE DELAY ON VSP AND TERA. FOR EXAMPLE IT'S RUMORED THAT TOO MANY FOLKS VOLUNTEERED TO SEPARATE IN THE FIRST STAGES OF THE FORCE MANAGEMENT PROCESS, CAN YOU CLARIFY THE FACTS FROM FICTION.

CMSAF JAMES CODY:  SO THAT WOULD BE ALL FICTION.  WE HAVE NOT HAD TOO MANY PEOPLE APPLY FOR THE VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS. WHEN WE SENT OUT THE ININTIAL NOTIFICATIONS IT WAS OVER 80,000 PEOPLE THAT WERE NOTIFIED OF THE POTENTIAL - EITHER FOR THEM TO VOLUNTEER OR INVOLUNTERAILY BE PART OF THE FORCE MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS. TODAY WE'VE HAD ABOUT 11,000 AIRMEN WHO'VE APPLIED OUT OF THAT 80,000. BUT TO BE HONEST - IT WASN'T ALL FROM THOSE 80,000. WE ONLY HAD ABOUT 5,000 FROM THAT 11,000 THAT WERE ACTUALLY ELIGIBLE FOR ANY OF THE PROGRAMS THAT WE SENT OUT. SO YOU HAD AIRMEN THAT ACUTALLY WEREN'T ELIGIBLE FOR PROGRAMS VOLUNTEERING BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T UNDERSTAND WHAT THE GUIDANCE WAS OR WHAT NOT. SO REALLY NO - NOT IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM HAVE WE HAD TOO MANY PEOPLE VOLUNTEER. IN FACT, QUITE THE CONTRARY. PEOPLE ARE REALLY LOOKING FOR ANSWERS TO YOU KNOW ... "ARE WE REALLY STILL ON TRACK?" "WHERE ARE WE GOING?." AND THEY'RE CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR VULNERABILITY WHILE CERTAINLY 5,000 AIRMEN THAT ARE ELIGIBLE - WOULD LIKE TO LEAVE UNDER THOSE PROGRAMS. 

TO CATCH THE FULL EPISODE OF CHIEF CHAT YOU CAN VISIT AF.MIL OR CHECK US OUT ON FACEBOOK AT FACEBOOK-DOT-COM FORWARD SLASH AIR FORCE T-V - WHERE YOU CAN SUBMIT YOUR OWN QUESTIONS TO THE CHIEF. 

BIG NEWS FOR LUKE AIR FORCE BASE. THE FIRST F-35 LIGHTING II ARRIVED IN ARIZONA EARLIER THIS MONTH. TECH SERGEANT XAYVER ORTIZ HAS MORE. 

TSGT XAYVER ORTIZ: LUKE AIR FORCE BASE'S FIRST F-35 LIGHTING II ARRIVED HERE MARCH 10TH. THIS IS APPROXIMATELY 144 TOTAL AIRCRAFT LUKE WILL RECEIVE IN THE COMING YEARS. 

LT COL MIKE EBNER: THIS IS THE FIRST AIRCRAFT OF ABOUT 16 OR SO THAT WE EXPECT TO RECEIVE OVER THE CALENDAR YEAR 2014. AND THEN OVER THE NEXT TEN YEARS OR SO  - WE EXPECT TO ACHIEVE THAT NUMBER OF 144 AIRCRAFT. 

ORTIZ: THE LIGHTNING II BRINGS CAPABILITIES THAT WILL STRENGTHEN LUKE'S MISSION. 

COL JOHN HANNA : HAVING F-35S HERE ON THE RAMP ENSURES THE LONG TERM VIABILITY OF OUR MISSION AND SAFEGUARDS THE LONG-TERM PRESENCES OF OUR BASE. 

ORTIZ: TECH SERGEANT XAYVER ORTIZ, LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, ARIZONA.

WELCOME BACK - LET'S GET STRAIGHT TO IT AND TAKE A LOOK AT THE HEADLINES.

WITH THE HEADLINES, I'M STAFF SERGEANT ALINA RICHARD.

AIRMEN WILL BE REQUIRED TO REVALIDATE DEPENDENTS WITH THEIR FINANCE OFFICE BY DECEMBER 31ST THIS YEAR. THE ONE-TIME AIR FORCE-WIDE RECERTIFICATION PROCESS WILL ALLOW THE AIR FORCE TO VALIDATE BASIC ALLOWANCES AND HOUSING ENTITLEMENTS TO ENSURE EVERY DOLLAR IS ACCOUNTED FOR AND AUDITABLE.

U.S. F-16 FIGHTING FALCONS ASSIGNED TO THE 31ST FIGHTER WING BEGAN OFF-SITE AERIAL TRAINING IN POLAND FOR THE FIRST TIME. THE TRAINING IS MEANT TO ENHANCE INTEROPERABILITY BETWEEN THE U.S. AND NATO PARTNERS. 

THE TOP CADET AT THE AIR FORCE ACADEMY'S AERONAUTICS DEPARTEMNT WAS RECOGNIZED FOR BEING AMONGST THE BEST AEROSPACE GRADUATES IN THE COUNTRY LAST WEEK. CADET FIRST CLASS CHRISTOPHER SHANNON RECEIVED THE TWENTY FOURTEEN "TOMORROW'S LEADERS AWARD" FOR HIS OUTSTANDING LEADERSHIP AND NASA RESEARCH CONTRIBUTIONS - CONGRATS! 

THAT DOES IT FOR THE HEADLINES, I'M STAFF SERGEANT ALINA RICHARD.

WITH NEW AIRCRAFT LIKE THE F-35 TAKING TO THE SKY, IT'S IMPORTANT TO ENSURE AIRMEN ARE PREPARED TO HANDLE ANY EMERGENCIES THAT MIGHT SURFACE. FOR THIS NEXT STORY TECH SERGEANT COLLEEN URBAN TAKES US BEHIND THE SCENES TO SEE HOW AIRMEN YOU NORMALLY WOULDN'T EXPECT TO RESPOND TO IN-FLIGHT EMERGENCIES HELP TO KEEP EVERYONE SAFE.

("FIRE IN THE HOLE! FIRE IN THE HOLE! FIRE IN THE HOLE!")

TECH SGT. COLLEEN URBAN: THIS MIGHT BE WHAT COMES TO MIND WHEN HEARING "EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE DISPOSAL", OR EOD.  HOWEVER, AIR FORCE EOD HAS AN ADDITIONAL--DISTINCTIVE MISSION.

SRA WILIAM RIDDLE:  AIR FORCE EOD SPECIFICALLY RESPONDS TO ANY KIND OF AIRCRAFT OR AIRFIELD RESPONSES. WHETHER, THAT BE POST-ATTACK OR JUST IN-FLIGHT EMERGENCIES, WE'RE THE ONES WHO HANDLE THAT.

URBAN: EOD TECHNICIANS FROM THE 380TH AIR EXPEDITIONARY WING FOCUS THEIR TRAINING ON THAT VERY MISSION SET CENTERED ON THE AIRFIELD AND AIR OPERATIONS. 
("SAFE")

TECH SGT. KENNY GUINN: OUR MISSION HERE IS COMPRISED OF THREE MAIN COMPONENTS. THE FIRST IS LAUNCH AND RECOVERY OF THE AIRFIELD OPERATIONS, THE SECOND IS FORCE PROTECTION - SO THAT'S LIKE IF SOMEBODY HAS SUSPECT PACKAGES OR IF THERE IS A VBIED AT THE FRONT OF THE GATE AND THE THIRD PART IS THE RECOVERY OF THE AIRFIELD DENIED BY ORDNANCE.

URBAN: IT DOESN'T MATTER IF IT'S AIR FORCE, ARMY, MARINE, OR NAVY EOD ALL TECHNICIANS HAVE A HIGHER OBLIGATION AND RESPONSIBILITY.

GUINN: IT'S UP TO US TO MAKE THE SOUND DECISIONS TO KEEP EVERYBODY SAFE AND KEEP EVERYBODY ALIVE.

URBAN: REPORTING FROM SOUTHWEST ASIA, I'M TECHNICAL SERGEANT COLLEEN URBAN.
IN FLIGHT EMERGENCIES AREN'T THE ONLY POTENTIAL DISASTER AIRMEN TRAIN TO RESPOND TO ... AIRMAN FIRST CLASS JARROD VICKERS SHOWS US HOW AIRMEN WORK TOGETHER TO PREPARE FOR MOTHER NATURE'S WORST.
A1C JARROD VICKERS: A TORNADO HAS JUST ROLLED THROUGH MCCONNELL AFB, LEAVING IN ITS PATH DEATH AND DESTRUCTION.

BUT TODAY IT'S ONLY AN EXERCISE... AN EXERCISE THAT CAN EASILY BECOME REALITY HERE IN TORNADO ALLEY.  

LT COL DAVID MAZZARA: IN KANSAS IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO PRACTICE, ESPECIALLY SEVERE WEATHER TYPE SCENARIOS - AND THAT'S WHAT WE'RE DOING HERE TODAY. 

VICERKS: SO WHEN THE ALL CLEAR WAS GIVEN DURING THE CITY WIDE TORNADO DRILL...  THE AIRMAN OF THE 384TH AIR REFUELING SQUADRON WENT TO WORK TREATING THE WOUNDED.  FROM BROKEN BONES TO SHRAPNEL WOUNDS, THEY DID WHAT THEY COULD TO SAVE LIVES.  AIRMEN HAVE TO BE PREPARED TO TREAT ANYTHING. AND WITH ROUGHLY A THOUSAND TORNADOES TOUCHING DOWN IN THE UNITED STATES EVERY SINGLE YEAR IT NEVER HURTS TO BE PREPARED. WITH THE SELF-AID BUDDY CARE DONE, THE FIRST RESPONDERS ARRIVE ON THE SCENE AND TAKE CHARGE.  IT'S ALL DESIGNED SO MCCONNELL AIRMEN KNOW WHAT TO DO IF AND WHEN A TORNADO STRIKES.

MAZZARA: LIKE I SAID THERE'S A HIGH PROBABILITY OF SEVERE STORMS AND TORNADOS AROUND HERE - WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO MAKE SURE WE CAN ASSESS THE DAMAGE AND THE INJURED AND GET THE BASE BACK ON MISSION READY AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. 

VICKERS: MISSION READY, NO MATTER WHAT MOTHER NATURE THROWS THEIR WAY. AIRMAN FIRST CLASS JARROD VICKERS, MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, KANSAS.

AIRMEN AREN'T JUST WORKING TO SUPPORT OPERATIONS ON THE GROUND. NOW THAT SHUTTLE FLIGHTS FOR NASA HAVE ENDED, THE ORION MULTI-PURPOSE CREW VEHICLE WILL SERVE AS THE PREMIERE VEHICLE FOR DEEP-SPACE EXPLORATION. TO ACHIEVE NASA'S GOALS, AIRMEN FROM THE FORTY-FIFTH OPERATIONS GROUP AT PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, FLORIDA HAVE WORKED HAND IN HAND WITH THE U.S. NAVY TO PLAN AND TRAIN FOR ORION RECOVERY OPERATIONS ... AS THE FIRST LAUNCH DATE FOR THE SPACE CRAFT APPROACHES THIS FALL. STAFF SERGEANT PETE ISING SHOWS US JUST HOW WELL THE AIR FORCE'S PRE-PLANNING PAIRED WITH THE NAVY'S RECOVERY MISSION.


NASA'S SPACE CAPSULE ORION NEEDS TO GO THROUGH RIGUROUS TESTING BEFORE ITS TEST FLIGHT SHCEDULED FOR SEPTEMBER.  BUT BEFORE IT CAN TAKE TO THE SKIES THE  AIR FORCE AND THE NAVY NEED TO DO SOME TESTS ON THE GROUND.  STAFF SERGEANT PETE ISING HAS THE STORY.

STAFF SGT. PETER ISING:  THIS IS ORION, AND ORION IS AMERICA'S NEWEST SPACECRAFT THAT WILL TAKE ASTRONAUTS TO DESTINATIONS NOT YET EXPLORED BY HUMANS, INCLUDING AN ASTEROID AND MARS.  IT'S FIRST UNMANNED TEST FLIGHT IS SCHEDULED FOR THE FALL OF THIS YEAR, SO MANY OF THEIR PROCEDURES ARE BEING TESTED IN THE ACTUAL ENVIRONMENTS THE SPACE CAPSULE WILL ENCOUNTER. NASA AND A JOINT SERVICE TEAM LEAD BY THE US NAVY TESTED RECOVERY OPERATIONS IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN. 

SPCO JUSTIN MILLER: WE'VE SPENT ABOUT THE LAST 8 OR 9 MONTHS WORKING WITH NASA, AND H-S-F-S DET 3 PLANNING THIS MISSION. 

ISING: AFTER ORION IS FINISHED IN DEEP SPACE IT WILL RE-ENTER EARTH'S ATMOSPHERE A LOT LIKE BACK IN THE OLD APOLLO DAYS.  BACK THEN THE SPACE CAPSULE WAS RECOVERED BY AIRCRAFT, BUT WITH THIS CAPSULE THAT'S NOT POSSIBLE.

MILLER: THE CAPSULE NOW IS BIGGER THAN IT WAS BACK IN THE APOLLO, GEMINI MERCURY DAYS.  AND SO THAT ELIMINATES THE ABILITY OF THE AIRCRAFT, OR ANY AIRCRAFT TO PULL IT OUT OF THE WATER LIKE WE USED TO. 

ISING: NOW, NASA PLANS TO USE A SAN ANTONIO-CLASS AMPHIBIOUS TRANSPORT DOCK, LIKE THIS ONE, THE U.S.S. SAN DIEGO, TO PULL THE CAPSULE INTO ITS WELL DECK.

MILLER: THIS SHIP IS DESIGNED TO LAUNCH MARINES AND SEND THEM TO A BEACH TO ACCOMPLISH THEIR MISSION.  THE ORION MISSION SET REQUIRES FOR THE SHIP TO SINK ITSELF AND PULL THE CAPSULE INTO THE HANGAR BAY HERE OR THE WELL DECK AND ACQUIRE AND RETRIEVE THE ASTRONAUTS AND CREW.

ISING: RIGHT NOW, NAVY DIVERS ARE ON HIGH ALERT AND TRAINING WITH THE U.S. AIR FORCE TO RECOVER OTHER PIECES OF THE ORION CAPSULE THEY'LL NEED TO FIND IN THE OPEN WATERS OF THE PACIFIC. FOR NAVY DIVERS THIS PARTICULAR SCENARIO PRESENTS SOME UNIQUE CHALLENGES BECAUSE THIS ISN'T THEIR TYPICAL MISSION. 

SPCO TIM ROFF:  COMING UP WITH DIFFERENT WAYS AND PROCEDURES ON HOW TO RECOVER THIS.  A LOT OF OUR JOB THAT I'M NORMALLY DEALING WITH HAS TO DO WITH SALVAGE AND RECOVERY OF SUNKEN OBJECTS.  SO IT'S SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT IN THAT THIS IS A LITTLE MORE CRITICAL ON HOW WE RECOVER IT TYPICALLY IF WE ARE RECOVERING SOMETHING FOR A SALVAGE JOB THE CONDITION IN WHICH WE BRING IT UP ISN'T THAT IMPORTANT.  BUT HERE, THAT'S THE MOST CRITICAL FACTOR IS TRYING RECOVER THE OBJECT WITHOUT PUTTING OUR HANDS ALL OVER IT AND DAMAGING IT.

ISING: AFTER A WEEK OF TESTING AND LOOKING AT THE DATA, NASA, AND THE US AIR FORCE, AS WELL AS THE NAVY STILL HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO WITH THE LAUNCH DATE QUICKLY APPROACHING.

COL SHANE KIMBROUGH: WE HAD SOME SUCCESSES AND SOME FAILURES IN THE TESTS THAT WE DID BUT THAT'S WHY WE TEST.  SO THE ONES THAT DIDN'T GO PERFECTLY - THOSE ARE THE ONES THAT WE LEARNED A LOT. HOPEFULLY A FEW MONTHS FROM NOW WE'LL DO MORE TESTING ON A SHIP LIKE THIS AND HOPEFULLY IRONED OUT - GET IT ALL WIRED TIGHT SO THAT WHEN IT HAPPENS FOR REAL IN SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER, THAT WE DON'T HAVE ANY SURPRISES. SO THAT'S THE WHOLE GOAL OF THE TESTING.

ISING: DURING EXPLORATION FLIGHT TEST-1, AN UNCREWED SPACECRAFT WILL TRAVEL TO APPROXIMATELY 3,600 MILES IN ALTITUDE BEFORE RETURNING TO EARTH AT SPEEDS AS FAST AS 20,000 MPH AND TEMPERATURES ABOVE 4,000 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT TO EVALUATE THE SPACECRAFT'S HEAT SHIELD AND OTHER SYSTEMS. ORION'S FIRST MANNED FLIGHT IS SCHEDULED FOR 2017. REPORTING FROM NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, I'M STAFF SGT. PETE ISING.

NOW ... LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT'S GOING ON AROUND THE AIR FORCE - THIS WEEK IN PHOTOS.
STAFF SERGEANT SHELESE GARCIA PERFORMS A DAILY INSPECTION DURING THE FUELS OPERATIONAL READINESS CAPABILITY EQUIPMENT COURSE AT SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, TEXAS.

AIRMAN 1ST CLASS CURTIS DOHERTY, A 374TH MAINTENANCE SQUADRON AIRCRAFT METALS TECHNOLOGY SPECIALIST, WELDS A SECTION OF A METAL RACK AT YOKOTA AIR BASE, JAPAN.

AIRMEN AND THEIR FAMILIES, ALONG WITH OTHERS FROM DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, DELAWARE, PARTICIPATE IN THE 15TH ANNUAL 436TH SECURITY FORCES RUCK MARCH.

SENIOR AIRMAN SETH ALLEN OPERATES A CARGO LOADER AS AIRMEN MOVE EQUIPMENT IN PLACE ON A C-17 GLOBEMASTER III AT TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, KYRGYZSTAN.

AND THAT'S THIS WEEK IN PHOTOS, I'M STAFF SERGEANT MICHAEL BRADY.

WELCOME BACK TO TODAY'S AIR FORCE. I'M STAFF SERGEANT SHAUN HOSTUTLER.
THROUGHOUT OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM, AIRMEN HAVE WORKED HARD TO ENSURE THE AFGHAN AIR FORCE IS TRAINED AND PREPARED TO TAKE THE REINS IN THEIR OWN OPERATIONS AND MISSIONS. BUT NO MATTER HOW GOOD THE TRAINING IS ON THE PART OF THE U.S. - THE SUCCESS OF THE AFGHAN AIR FORCE IS FUNDAMENTALLY INFLUENCED BY THE ATTITUDE AND DETERMINATION OF ITS AIRMEN. SENIOR AIRMAN BRANDI HANSEN SHOWS US HOW - DESPITE CULTURAL DIFFERENCES - WHEN WE WORK TOGETHER, PROGRESS CAN BE ACHIEVED.
THE 438TH AIR EXPEDITIONARY WING IS TASKED WITH THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE ADVISING MISSION. THIS MISSION IS TO ADVISE OVER SIXTY SEPERATE CAREER FIELDS WITHIN THE AFGHAN AIR FORCE. ONE OF THESE ADVISORS IS SENIOR MASTER SGT. CARMELO VEGA-MARTINEZ.

MARTINEZ: I HAVE A RECRUITING TEAM ASSIGNED. THE AFGHAN AIR FORCE RECRUITING TEAM THAT WAS CREATED ABOUT SIX MONTHS AGO TO BUILD, BASICALLY, A SUSTAINABILITY INTO THE AFGHAN AIR FORCE PERSONNEL - BRINGING IN THE RIGHT PEOPLE, WITH THE RIGHT SKILLS, AT THE RIGHT TIME. I HAVE A 7-YEAR-OLD AND ... SHE'S VERY SPECIAL. SHE HAS THIS LITTLE STUFFED ANIMAL. AS I WAS MAKING MY WAY TO AFGHANISTAN - EVERY STOP, EVERYWHERE I STOPPED - I'VE TAKEN PICTURES WITH HIM. THAT'S A WAY FOR ME TO CONNECT WITH MY DAUGHTER BACK HOME. I TELL HER STORIES ABOUT IT - TO THE POINT WHERE I BROUGHT HIM HERE, TO THIS CLASS ROOM AND I GOT A COUPLE OF PICTURES WITH OBI. 

HANSEN: SGT. VEGA MET OBI DURING A VOLUNTEER ENGLISH CLASS. OBI IS A 22-YEAR-OLD AFGHAN PILOT. AND THEIR CONNECTION STARTED WHEN HE CAME TO THE CLASSROOM WITH A REQUEST ... AND A STORY. ONE DARK NIGHT IN KABUL, AS OBI WAS WALKING HOME, HE CAME ACROSS A GROUP OF PEOPLE BURNING AMERICAN LITERATURE. ALTHOUGH INTERVENING WAS DANGEROUS, THE YOUNG PILOT STEPPED IN. 

OBI: HE SAID THAT "IF YOU RESPECT THE AMERICAN'S BOOK, AMERICAN'S FOLLOW THIS BOOK, IT IS NOT GOOD." I SAID "NO. WE RESEPCT THEM." BECAUSE OF THIS I SAID "GIVE THIS TO ME" AND HE STARTED ALSO SOME FIGHT TO ME. NOT THAT MUCH - TO HIT ME OR PUNCH ME. BUT I HAVE THAT AND I ESCAPED FROM THAT AREA.

HANSEN: THE NEXT WEEK OBI BROUGHT THE BOOK TO SGT. VEGA. 

VEGA: THAT'S WHEN THAT SPECIAL CONNECTION CAME INTO PLAY. AND I THOUGHT - YOU KNOW OUT OF EVERYBODY HE INTERACTS WITH HE CHOSE ME, HE CAME TO ME. HE COULDN'T HAVE PUT IT IN A BETTER WAY - HE SAID "WE MAY BE, WE MAY HAVE DIFFERENT RELIGIONS BUT WE'RE ALL BROTHERS. WE'RE ALL CONNECTED IN A WAY."  AND THAT TELLS ME THAT WHAT WE HAVE DONE HERE, WHAT WE HAVE INVESTED HERE - FOR YEARS - WORKING WITH THE AFGHAN PEOPLE - THEY SEE IT. YOU KNOW? THEY SEE THE VALUE OF IT. AND THEY KNOW WE'RE HERE TO HELP AND THAT WE WANT THEIR COUNTRY TO SUCCEED. 

HANSEN: THE STORY BETWEEN OBI AND SGT. VEGA SYMBOLIZES A DEEPER IMPACT. THE ADVISORS' MENTORSHIP ROLE CARRIES FURTHER THAN JUST THE CLASSROOM OR THE FLIGHTLINE. IT SPREADS THROUGH THE AFGHAN PEOPLE. ADVISING THE AIR FORCE TO BUILD A SUSTAINING FORCE IS A TOP PRIORITY OF THIS WING. BUT IT'S ALSO ABOUT THESE PEOPLE WHO MENTOR, LEARN, AND HELP ONE ANOTHER ON A DAILY BASIS - BUILDING CONFIDENCE IN THE AFGHAN PEOPLE'S HEARTS AND IN THEIR AIR FORCE. SENIOR AIRMAN BRANDI HANSEN, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN.
WHEN YOU'RE AN AIR FORCE FIRST SERGEANT - SAFETY AND RISK MANAGEMENT ARE ESSENTIAL TOOLS YOU WANT ALL OF YOUR AIRMEN TO USE TO ACCOMPLISH THE MISSION. BUT AT NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, NEVADA, ONE FIRST SERGEANT AND HER FAMILY GAUGE RISK WITH BECOMING FASTER AND STRONGER. STAFF SERGEANT CHRIS PYLES HAS MORE.
MASTER SGT. CRISTY ANDERSON: DECISIONS WE MAKE NOW COULD AFFECT SOMEONE LONG-TERM CAREER AND EVEN THE AIR FORCE CAREER AND THEIR LIFE AND ALL THE THINGS THAT PLAYED UP TO THAT MOMENT; IT HAD TO BE SAFE FOR THE MEMBER, THE UNIT, AND FOR THE AIR FORCE AT ALL TIMES. WE'RE NOT JUST AFFECTING OURSELVES. WE'RE AFFECTING MANY PEOPLE AND THEIR FAMILIES."

PYLES: FIRST SERGEANT CRISTY ANDERSON TENDS TO THINK OF HER AIRMEN AS HER OWN CHILDREN.

CRISTY ANDERSON:  I HAVE TO… I THINK OF THEM AS… I MEAN I'M OLD ENOUGH TO BE THEIR MOTHER (LAUGHS) MOST OF THEM.

PYLES: LARGELY FOCUSED ON HER AIRMEN'S SAFETY, IT'S KIND OF IRONIC... SINCE HER OWN 17 YEAR OLD SON, IAN, COMPETES IN SOMETHING MOST OF OUR MOTHERS WOULDN'T EVEN DREAM OF LETTING US DO AS KIDS. AND MOST OF IAN'S FRIENDS DON'T EVEN KNOW HE DOES IT.

IAN ANDERSON:  I DRIVE A RACE CAR AND I'M A NATIONAL CHAMPION. YOU'RE NOT JUST GONNA WALK UP TO SOMEONE AND GO, "WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE-TIME?" "WELL, I'M A RACE CAR DRIVER!" WHO GONNA BELIEVE YOU IN THAT? IT'S NOT WHAT PEOPLE THINK IN VIDEO GAMES OR THAT YOU PASS THEM BECAUSE YOUR ENGINES SUPERCOOL OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. MY DAD TEACHES ME A LOT JUST BY SAYING THAT THESE PEOPLE ARE DOING THIS… AND, THE FACT THAT I'VE BEEN DRIVING THESE THINGS SINCE I WAS 5. THAT'S TWELVE YEARS OF EXPERIENCE. AND THEN I DIDN'T REALLY MATURE AS A DRIVER UNTIL LIKE TWELVE. I'VE DRIVEN GO-CARTS, AND LEGENDS CARS… BANDALEROS. YOU HAVE TO THINK ABOUT IT. YOU HAVE TO TIME YOUR APEX; YOU HAVE TO HIT THE GAS IN THE RIGHT SPOT. YOU HAVE TO FIND WHERE THEY'RE SLOW SO YOU CAN BE FASTER THAN THEM. YOU CAN'T JUST WILL YOURSELF THROUGH THEM. 

CRISTY ANDERSON:  WHEN HE GOES ON THE TRACK, I ALWAYS FEEL LIKE I'M GONNA GET SICK. I MEAN, THAT'S THE FIRST THING I TELL HIS DAD, "I FEEL LIKE I'M GONNA THROW UP." AND I GENUINELY TRULY FEEL THAT WAY. I FEEL LIKE I'M GONNA BE SICK CAUSE I DON'T WANT ANYONE TO WRECK HIM, I DON'T WANT HIM TO GO UP OVER THE WALL. I DON'T WANT ANYTHING BAD TO HAPPEN. BUT I ALSO KNOW, IT'S WHO HE IS.

IAN ANDERSON: THERE IS NOTHING TO COMPARE IT TO. IT'S A SPORT ON ITS OWN. I JUST WANT TO BEST MYSELF. IT'S ALL ABOUT BEING BETTER THAN THE DAY AFTER YESTERDAY.

PYLES: MOTHERS CAN BE FORGIVING; WALLS ARE QUITE THE OPPOSITE.

CRISTY ANDERSON: THERE HAS BEEN A MOMENT WHEN WE DIDN'T KNOW SOMETHING WAS WRONG WITH THE CAR THAT WE LET HIM GO ON THE TRACK AND IT PROBABLY WASN'T THE SAFEST THING TO DO BUT WE JUST DIDN'T KNOW. AND YOU'RE GOING OVER 100 MPH AND SOMETHING GIVES OUT… THAT'S NOT VERY SAFE. SO OCCASIONALLY THINGS SLIP BY. IT'S HUMAN NATURE. WE'RE NOT PERFECT.

PYLES: FOR IAN, RACING IN THE THUNDER ROADSTER CLASS ISN'T FOR FAME OR FORTUNE. IT'S FOR THE SPORTSMANSHIP. THIS YEAR IAN EARNED THE TITLE OF THUNDER CAR NATIONAL OVAL CHAMPION. AND THAT'S JUST SO FAR THIS YEAR... WITH ALL OF THOSE ACCOMPLISHMENTS, IAN STILL REMAINS A HUMBLE TEEN AND CHALKS THE WHOLE EXPERIENCE UP AS FAMILY TIME. 

IAN ANDERSON: IT'S THE MOMENTS THAT YOU GET THE TROPHIES MORE THAN THE TROPHIES. THE TROPHIES JUST REMIND YOU OF THE MOMENTS. I THINK THAT I GET TO KNOW MY PARENTS MORE BECAUSE OF THIS RACING. BECAUSE A LOT OF TIMES FAMILIES CAN'T CONNECT WITH EACH OTHER AND THIS IS SOMETHING WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME PAGE WITH. WE ALL HELP AS A FAMILY, BECAUSE IF WE DIDN'T I WOULD NOT BE THIS SUCCESSFUL AT ALL. 
PYLES: DON'T EXPECT TO SEE IAN ANDERSON SHOW UP ON THE NASCAR CIRCUIT, OR EVEN IN THE AIR FORCE FOR THAT MATTER. HE HAS HIS MIND MADE UP.

IAN ANDERSON: COLLEGE. I'M GONNA DO SOMETHING IN BUSINESS, THAT'S WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE. I MEAN, I MIGHT DO THIS IN MY SPARE TIME. I MIGHT NOT. IT'S FUN BUT IT'S NOT WHO I AM. IT'S NOT LIKE EVERYTHING THAT MAKES ME.

CRISTY ANDERSON: IAN WOULD SAY I SHIRT HIM A LOT. WHICH I DON'T THINK THAT'S NECESSARILY A BAD THING. I WANT HIM TO BE SUCCESSFUL THE SAME WAY I WOULD GO OUT THERE AND WANT ALL MY AIRMEN TO BE SUCCESSFUL. YOU JUST HAVE TO HOPE YOU ARE DOING THE BEST YOU CAN AS A PARENT AND SUPPORT THEM IN WHATEVER IT IS THAT THEY LOVE; EVEN THOUGH IT SOMETIMES MAKES ME ILL.

PYLES: REPORTING FROM NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, NEVADA. I'M STAFF SERGEANT CHRIS PYLES.

THAT DOES IT FOR THIS EDITION OF TODAY'S AIR FORCE. FOR ALL OF US HERE AT DEFENSE MEDIA ACTIVITY AT FORT MEADE, MARYLAND, I'M STAFF SERGEANT SHAUN HOSTUTLER. THANKS FOR WATCHING. Available in High Definition.
  • CAMP DENALI, Alaska – Three Alaska Air National Guardsmen with the 212th Rescue Squadron were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Nov. 3 during a ceremony at the Talkeetna Theater on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Senior Master Sgt. Christopher “Doug” Widener, Master Sgt. Brandon Stuemke and Staff Sgt. Aaron Parcha received the medals for having distinguished themselves in combat 
by “heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.” 

“During the span of five days, these warriors, these pararescuemen, flew 25 missions retrieving a total of 49 U.S. and coalition personnel, with 11 of those personnel deceased,” said Maj. Joe Conroy, 212th Rescue Squadron commander, Alaska Air National Guard. “Nineteen of the personnel they retrieved were rescued by conducting a hoist insertion and extraction, often under heavy fire from the enemy.”

Conducting actions in the face of extreme danger, these pararescuemen supported missions during Operation Bulldog Bite in November 2010, an operation that involved some of the largest rescues and evacuations since Operation Anaconda in 2002.

“These brave and courageous warriors exited an HH-60 helicopter while in-flight, by a cable hoist system under extreme and intense circumstances to recover fellow combatants wounded during ground combat operations with the enemy,” Conroy said. “Their direct actions led to lives saved and those Soldiers have now returned to duty and back to their loved ones.”

While the ceremony recognized the actions of these three heroic pararescuemen, Conroy also asked people in attendance to honor the Soldiers who perished during Operation Bulldog Bite. Sentiments echoed by Distinguished Flying Cross recipient, Master Sgt. Brandon Stuemke.

“It’s so much more than just a medal,” Stuemke said.  “Yes, it’s the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor, but it goes way beyond that. It goes to what it represents. It goes to the men out there in the Watapur Valley that sacrificed their lives. It goes to the men out there in the Watapur Valley that we pulled off the hill during that week.  It’s so much more than just a medal.  Numerous individuals that week paid the ultimate sacrifice.  Those are the guys. Those are wounds that I will carry with me internally for the rest of my life.  Those are faces that I will never forget.” Available in High Definition.
  • NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen giving a speech at the Yerevan University in Yerevan, Armenia.

Transcript follows:

Rector Simonyan,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends,
Thank you, Rector Simonyan, for that kind introduction.  It is indeed a great to be in Armenia.  I am also happy to see a lot of young people and students in the audience. I always enjoy talking to young people.  And it is an honour to do so at Yerevan State University.  This is a prestigious institution. Armenian presidents, poets, and philosophers studied in these halls.  And I am certain that many of Armenia’s future leaders are sitting here in the audience this morning.
 
I studied economics. And I have always been enormously impressed by the incredible potential of this country and this region. We all know that centuries ago, this was one of the richest regions in the world.  And I believe that it can achieve that distinction once again.
This is particularly important for you, the young people of this country.  You must live in the future that you inherit.  But you can also help create the future that you desire.
My message to you today is that only cooperation, dialogue, and compromise can build the stability and security that prosperity requires. 
The organisation that I represent, NATO, is proof that this formula works.  And through our partnership with Armenia, we want to contribute to building stability and security in this region too.
In my remarks today, I want to cover three key points.  First, I would like to tell you a bit about NATO.  Second, I will explain how NATO and Armenia are working together today and describe some of the support NATO is providing your country.  And third, I want to look at how Armenia, and this region, can reach their true potential. And I would also like to express my views on the Safarov issue.
So, first, NATO.  The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is unique, both an international political alliance and a military alliance.  Two of our Allies - the United States and Canada - come from North America.  The other 26 Allies come from Europe. 
All Allies, on both sides of the Atlantic, have undertaken a solemn commitment.  They have agreed that in the event of an attack on the territory or population of one Ally, then all the others will come to that country’s help, according to the principle “all for one, and one for all.” It is a group of like-minded democracies who are willing, able and ready to defend each other come what may – which is all the more important during times of uncertainty.
But NATO is more than just a collective defence Alliance.  It is also a political Alliance united by common beliefs and principles.  All Allies share the same fundamental values of liberty, democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.  And the Allies are prepared to act to defend these values whenever necessary.
We see that commitment today in many places around the globe, where we have operations under the mandate of the United Nations.  In Afghanistan, where we are working to make sure that the country can never again be a safe haven for terrorists.  In Kosovo, where we continue to help provide a safe environment for all communities.  In the Indian Ocean where we help to ensure free passage for ships facing the threat of piracy.  And last year over Libya, where we prevented a massacre and helped protect civilians from attack. 
In everything we do - politically and operationally - we have found that the keys to success are consensus and cooperation.  Some Allies are large, like the United States. Others are smaller, like my own country, Denmark.  But every decision in NATO is taken by consensus.  This means that all Allies, regardless of their size, must agree.  And it means all Allies have an equal voice.
From time to time, we do have disagreements.  But we work through them like true friends.  We talk - a lot. Eventually, we compromise.  And we come to an agreement that all of us can live with. It’s not always easy. But we do it every day.
And it’s a virtuous circle.  Cooperation requires dialogue.  Dialogue brings compromise.  Compromise permits cooperation.  And cooperation enhances our security.
 
It is this approach that has made NATO the most successful Alliance in history.  But of course, we do not live in history.  We must face the threats of the future, not the past.  Our times are changing.  Our challenges are changing.  And NATO is constantly changing to meet them.
Over the past two decades, we have come to understand that the simple physical defence of our populations and territories is not enough. Tanks massed on borders can no longer guarantee our security.  New threats are too complex, too interconnected, and too unpredictable.  They require a different approach.
Challenges like terrorism, cyber warfare, or the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction cannot be confronted by any one army, any one country, or even NATO acting alone.  They require teamwork across borders, across regions, and even across cultures. 
That’s why achieving security in the 21st century must be a truly cooperative endeavour.  We need partners – here, in this region, and across the world – partners who share our values and our desire for security. 
Your efforts to work towards improved democracy, fair elections and a free media are welcome.  They are good for Armenia.  And they lay the foundation for an even stronger partnership with NATO. 
And that leads me to the second point I want to make today – how NATO and Armenia are working together.
Armenia has been an important NATO partner for many years.  Your country’s contributions to our operations in both Kosovo and Afghanistan are significant -- and highly valued. 
In Afghanistan, you are part of a NATO-led coalition of 50 nations, one quarter of the countries of the world.  To ensure that Afghanistan will never again provide a safe haven for terrorists who threaten our nations.  I have visited Afghanistan many times, and I have seen the tremendous job that your service personnel are doing.
I know the challenges, and I have seen with my own eyes the significant progress we are making across the country. By the end of 2014, we will complete our current combat mission there.  But our commitment to Afghanistan will continue.  After 2014, we will start a new mission to train, advice and assist the Afghan security forces. And I very much hope that Armenia will be part of that support.
Your country’s contributions to NATO-led operations mean that Armenian troops have received valuable training and peacekeeping experience.  This is an important part of developing your country’s own peacekeeping capabilities, both at home and abroad. NATO is providing significant support to help you build-up these capabilities. 
We are also assisting Armenia in other areas, such as border security, defence reform, and cyber security.  This makes Armenia stronger, safer, and better able to contribute to security elsewhere.
But our partnership also makes sense for Armenians here at home.  One important priority in our partnership has been civil defence and disaster response. We all know that earthquakes are a recurrent danger here in this region; this country has suffered terribly.  The quake in 1988 killed more than forty-five thousand people.  So we are providing training to help Armenian rescuers strengthen their capabilities in search and rescue.
These are just some examples of what we do together.  And we do it in full respect of Armenia’s balanced foreign and security policy.  To put it more clearly, we see no contradiction between good NATO-Armenia relations, and good relations with Russia.  It can work.  It does work.  And by the way, it works for NATO too – we have a deep, well developed relationship with Russia as well.  Because we believe that, at this time in European history, we can have a virtuous circle.  All countries can put the past to rest, and move forward.  And that the whole continent would benefit as a result.  
 
This leads me to my third and final point – how Armenia, and this region, can reach their full potential.  A potential of open borders.  Increased investment.  Extra trade opportunities for your industrial and agricultural products.  Better job opportunities.  Strengthened regional political and economic cooperation.  Enhanced stability and security.  And greater prosperity.
We know what is holding back this potential. Unresolved conflicts. Closed borders. Minefields. Trenches. Closed airspace. This region has more barriers to cooperation between neighbours than almost anywhere in the world.  We need to break down those old barriers of mistrust.  And we must build up new bridges of regional reconciliation. 
A crucial step has to be finding a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. 
Two things are clear.  First, there is no military solution.  And second, the only way forward is through dialogue, compromise, and cooperation.
NATO as an organisation is not involved directly in finding a solution to this conflict.  Nor do we take sides.  But we will continue to support the Minsk process and efforts towards a peaceful settlement.
I am deeply concerned by the Azerbaijani decision to pardon the Azerbaijani army officer Safarov. The act he committed in 2004 was a terrible crime that should not be glorified. The pardon damages trust and does not contribute to the peace process.  There must be no return to conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.  Tensions in this region must be reduced, and concrete steps must be taken to promote regional cooperation and reconciliation.   
Dear friends,
The Caucasus region has great potential. Armenia has great potential. And our NATO-Armenia partnership has great potential, as well.
The countries of this region have been locked in conflict for too long.  It is time to build peace.  Let us seize this moment to create the stability, the security, and the prosperity that Armenia deserves, that this region deserves, and that you deserve.
Some people wish it will happen.  Some people think it can happen.  You can make it happen. 
Thank you very much.

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