Foodie Chick Diary- New year, New you… New food

prep work

I’m not generally the sort to go out of my way to make New Year’s resolutions. I know myself well enough to know that I’m not likely to stick with any crazy exercise schedule I try to set in an end of year rush of fantastical whimsy. Instead of saying “Let’s lose 20 pounds this year,” I usually try and set a goal I’m a bit more likely to reach.

Let’s be a bit healthier this year.

Healthy for me, and I think most people will agree, isn’t just about how far you can run and how many pushups you can do. (Albeit, my dog would probably like it if I took him on runs more often. It’s not my fault he’s got stubby legs and can’t keep up! Gosh!) Being healthy is also about what you are eating.

Now, I’m a foodie kinda chick. I’ll blame it on my Italian ancestry and my dad’s insane kitchen talents (Gorden Ramsey’s got nothing on Pops.)

I love to cook. However, I had always thought eating healthy can be a bit of a chore; it’s simply too taxing to look for all the ingredients, when pizza has all four food groups already—(am I right, people?) It’s just cheaper, with respect to time and money, to eat like a fatty-fat kid. I don’t have recipes or the time, and, dagnabbit, I just don’t know where to start.

Well, I heard about this Foodie Friday class being put on by the Health and Wellness Center and thought I’d give it a shot. I got my game face on, went in hungry, ready to take a bite out of whatever healthy challenge they wanted to throw at me — bring on the broccoli!

What did I get?

Lentils.

You read that right.

You may have seen them at the commissary. They are cute, little beans sitting on the shelf that you may have glanced at and hastily scooted your little buggy on by without the thought of ever actually sticking them in your face. Why? Well, that’s often the case for me because I’m a self-proclaimed carnivore.

They don’t look like much and, in my experience, I had found these squishy little pods packed a heck of a lot of “healthy” but not a whole lot of flavor.

Apparently, I’d been doing it wrong.

What was brought to my plate was a heaping serving of witchcraft with a side of homemade pasta. They were great! I wanted more. But the part of me that was carnivore was in revolt.

“Blasphemy,” I thought. “Nothing good for you can have decent flavor; that is a law of nature.”

I opted to steal away the recipe to my dungeon (AKA my kitchen at home) with every intent of garnering their secrets.

And, lucky for you readers, here’s my first attempt…

Swabian-style German Lentils

Prep work:

The recipe itself is pretty easy to follow and all the necessary ingredients can be found in the commissary. If you prefer to shop on the economy, any local grocery store should have what you need. The basic recipe is listed below, but in the class they offered some variations, which I chose to follow instead. You can find them in the additional notes below the main recipe.

Ingredients:

-5 slices of thick cut bacon, diced

-1 large yellow onion, finely diced

-1 tablespoon butter

-1 carrot, finely diced

-1 leek, finely chopped, thoroughly rinsed and drained

-1 pound of dried lentils, rinsed and drained (no need to soak)

-7 cups of beef broth (I used low sodium)

-1 bay leaf

-1 teaspoon of salt

-¼ teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper

-1 teaspoon of white sugar

-¼ cup of white vinegar

-2 tablespoons of parsley, extra for garnish if desired

-6 Wiener Wϋrstchen (optional)

making lentils

Instructions:

Cook the bacon over medium-high heat until done. Transfer to a plate. Cook the onion until soft and translucent 5-7 minutes. Add the butter, carrots and leek and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the lentils, bacon, broth, bay leaf, salt, pepper and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

Add the vinegar and parsley, and simmer another 3-4 minutes. If too thick for your taste, add a little extra beef broth. Add more salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar for taste. Stick in face (or eat, whatever) while still warm or refrigerate for later consumption.

Additional Notes:

In the Foodie Friday class, the gentleman who made this strayed away from the vanilla version, and I opted to follow in the ways of his teaching. I added a can of petite, diced tomatoes (no need to drain them) and I excluded the bacon and German sausage.

Additionally, I substituted all but one cup of the beef broth for vegetable stock. You can exclude the beef broth entirely to make a vegetarian dish, but I tried it to see if it added anything. Really, it didn’t change the flavor all that much, so I’d probably recommend going one way or the other for the sake of simplicity and only having to buy one particular flavor of base.

I may recommend getting an electric veggie chopper to make sure all the pieces are small and evenly cooked. I personally went a little heavy-handed on the pepper and parsley, but that’s my personal preference. Don’t be afraid to play with the herbs, but wait until after you’ve simmered it so the flavors settles in and have some time to come together.

 The Review:

They turned out awesome! However, to make sure my judgement at the time was sound, I opted to refrigerate these bad boys overnight and bring them into the office for my coworkers. After some initial prodding to get them to try it and urging them to reheat the cold dish, I received positive remarks unanimously.

“The recipe screamed healthy to me,” said Tea Rechtz, our resident master food tester (PA would like to note that “Tea Rechtz,” as he chooses to be called, is in fact NOT a licensed master food tester nor have they reached any recognizable level of certification as a taste tester from any accredited organization.) “Part of me wanted to throw in Fritos and shredded cheese, but then I remembered that nothing tastes as good as feeling thin. It may not look like much– I mean, they’re lentil beans. Compared to black-eyed peas or garbanzo beans, they’re the little beans that just couldn’t — but a minute in the microwave brought out the most from this concoction. More please!”

finished prouct

So there you have it: somehow these little beans I had never given a thought about had me wondering what other misconceptions I bought into for years about eating healthy. Where do I or any of us begin on this new found quest for healthy food that is ALSO tasty?

Well, guess what?

The brand spanking new Foodie Friday cookbook has got you covered!

The Foodie Friday Cookbook, presented to you straight from the Spangdahlem HAWC at the astonishing price of absolutely free is a little virtual manual of calorie-conscious goodness ready and waiting to help you get healthy one swift kick in the taste buds at a time!

Sound right up your alley?

GOOD! Because it’s right up mine, too! This little gem contains a handful of popular recipes, each with a healthy twist, to help you get your yum on without gaining 20 pounds around your bum.

BUT WAIT!

Now you might be saying, Sarah, what the poop is Amaranth?

Where do I get green curry paste?

Are these recipes difficult?

These are all amazing questions I have absolutely no idea about the answers. But, I’m willing to find out in Spangdahlem Live’s brand new blog series “Foodie Chick Diaries.”

In the quest to figure out, not only can I make it, but can I eat it, we’ll be covering the contents of the Foodie Friday cook book a recipe at a time. I’ll provide locations to get ingredients, difficulty rating, pretty, pretty pictures, and, of course, taste test reviews by my coworkers here at PA.

It’s a new year maybe with a new you and with new food I can’t wait to sink my teeth into!

If you’ve got an appetite for more, contact the Health and Wellness Center for the full cook book!

 

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Powder Puffs compete to bring breast cancer awareness

It was a grudge match like no other. These warriors clashed on the gridiron, each trying to gain control of the rock and thus the game. These players were out for blood it seemed, but thankfully, none was shed. The only things gained at the first annual Spangdahlem Powder Puff Football Tournament were the coveted 1st Place trophy and bragging rights.

Four teams consisting of 80 players signed up to be part of this one-of-a-kind event at Spangdahlem — to raise awareness and contribute money toward breast cancer research.

“I chose breast cancer awareness because someone close to me is battling the disease and although I can’t be there to show support, I try to do whatever I can to bring awareness to the cause and to honor those we have lost and the ones that are still battling the disease,” said Phillip Hamilton, event organizer. “I chose flag football because I believe it truly shows how strong these women are and even for the ones that have never played before.  Once they hit the field, they become another person. They become competitive and driven and I believe that is what happens when [some] women find they have breast cancer.”

Many of the teams practiced for weeks leading up to the tournament and some even went so far as to get matching football gear made — one, to show their team spirit; and two, to honor those diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I never played flag football before, but I knew it was going to be fun,” said Tamara Lunn, a member of the 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron Pink Ladies team. “So why not do something for a good cause and have fun at the same time? Raising awareness for breast cancer research, knowing the risk factors and knowing what I can do to detect breast cancer early is important.”

group photo

The tournament attracted a huge fan base, even some of the volunteer referees were impressed by the amount of energy the teams brought to the field.

“The games were very intense, but when you think about the reason behind it – Breast Cancer Awareness – Everyone is bringing a different story,” said Andre Thomas, one of the volunteer referees. A lot of these women were representing someone in their family, a loved one or friend. All these women are bringing all that intensity to the football field.

Thomas said he was pretty excited to see the competition. He said at some points of the games, the intensity the ladies brought was higher than what he’s seen when the guys play [intramural flag football].

T.T. Bang-Bang won the championship trophy after defeating the Pink Ladies by one play I overtime. Next year, Hamilton hopes to put together an even bigger tournament, inviting teams from nearby installations to participate – T.T. Bang-Bang will have to defend their championship status against even tougher competition and possibly the Pink Ladies who are looking for a championship rematch.

The tournament raised $1,000 toward a Breast Cancer Awareness Organization which is part of the 2015 Combined Federal Campaign-Overseas. The Combined Federal Campaign-Overseas is Department of Defense Charity dedicated to military and civilians who contribute monetary donations to people and communities in need. In 2014, unified combatant commands pledged more than $8.2 million to many of the thousands of charitable organizations. Thus far, 92 percent of the Spangdahlem community has been contacted through unit CFC representatives with 626 members pledging $88K to the campaign. More donations are expected to come in from electronic pledges via MyPay and the CFC websites.  Spangdahlem community members have until Friday to contribute to CFC-O. To donate, contact a unit representative for a pledge card or logon to MyPay to make an electronic contribution.

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“What do you do, 5J0X1?”

We see them all the time – walking around the installation, wearing their digital-print camouflage uniforms. They go to the super market, collect mail, visit the bank, or grab their meals at the same establishments we do.

Each and every one of our U.S. Air Force Airmen serve a purpose in accomplishing the same mission, but do we really know what they specifically do? Can you confidently say that you know the job specifics of that one Airman you saw carrying one-too-many, heavy grocery bags for one trip from commissary to their car and then the bottom of the plastic bags gave out and the entire contents of their shopping tumbled to the wet pavement and they kind of spent two seconds looking at the mess around their feet before looking up at the sky and give up a huge sigh because: it’s raining, the bags are useless, how are they supposed to make spaghetti dinner now that the noodles are broken and the sauce jar broke, and they don’t have time for this because they just can’t literally even right now?

For those of you just as curious as me, welcome to the third entry in my blog series, “What do you do?” a series in which I, Airman 1st Class Timothy Kim, inform you of exactly what some of our Airmen do to ensure the success of our installation’s mission!

The series will be posted on a monthly basis, each entry identifying a specific Air Force Specialty Code and informing you, my readers, on:

-What they do

-How they do it

-Why they do it

So, without a further ado, a-let’s a-go ahead and dive into today’s highlighted AFSC!

The AFSC 5J0X1 (Paralegal)

What do you do 5J0X1?

Paralegals, by definition, are people trained in subsidiary legal matters but not fully qualified as a lawyer.

I don’t know about you, but studying law and the justice system of our country, let alone the U.S. Air Force’s, wasn’t exactly on the top of my to-do list, but it has been something that has tickled my curiosity. Why?

What do you do 5J0X1?

The legal system is a process developed by our government for interpreting and enforcing the law – which is a set of rules determined by our government as to what is right and wrong.

I’m sure that most of us know the rules, but I think it’s also fair to state that though we are aware of it, we aren’t highly trained in understanding every nook and cranny of our country’s laws. (At least, for me, I know that, according to the Fifth Amendment, I have the right to remain silent.)

It’s for these reasons that lawyers, attorneys and paralegals exist to help us – those that aren’t too familiar or professionally trained in the laws of our country – understand and to counsel us when we have issues that pertain to the legal system.

What do you do 5J0X1?What do you do 5J0X1?

In this issue, we’re going to be looking very closely at what our highlighted AFSC does: The Paralegals.

The What: The 5J0X1 Airmen, part of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, work to deliver professional, candid, independent counsel and full-spectrum legal capabilities to command and the warfighter.

According to the JAG Corps’ mission statement:

The Air Force, like other Services, operates in an increasingly legalistic environment, which demands nothing less than the very best legal capability it can field. The Air Force JAG Corps supplies that demand with its talented and highly trained group of legal professionals.”

JAG and its staff of paralegals ensure that we’re well-counseled and assisted throughout any legal procedures that we need help with. However, according to U.S. Air Force Maj. Mark Golden, 52nd Judge Advocate deputy staff judge advocate, JAG does more than simply handle legal matters and offer counsel.

“They say JA stands for ‘just ask’ and it’s true,” Golden said. “We’re to assist on the whole legal spectrum from military justice to civil issues to legal assistance. We advise wing leadership, Airmen and dependents. If you have a question, just ask and we will provide you with an answer.”

With a policy that encourages clients to come in and ask any questions they have, how does JAG accomplish such a feat?

The How:

The Legal Office and its Paralegal Airmen work in three different departments:

  1. General Law
  2. Military Justice
  3. Area Defense Council

General Law

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The General Law section of JAG is one that caters more toward the base community more than anything else. Have a speeding ticket you need to settle? Filing for a divorce and trying to figure out the logistics and the various state laws that may or may not apply depending where you and your spouse are currently located or will be?

The Airmen located downstairs and normally the place you go to seek legal consultation are the ones that normally greet you with a patient smile that seems to let you know, “Hey, it’s going to be okay – we’re here to help you out.”

“We answer phone calls, answer questions, give power of attorney notaries and we also schedule clients with attorneys for legal assistance and wills,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Catherine Westervelt, a 52nd Judge Advocate paralegal. “It’s important because we are giving the Airmen piece of mind. When they come in they have a personal issue that they’re stressed over and that’s why they come into the legal office. When you’re stressed about personal issues, are you really going to be focused on your job?”

Though they aren’t lawyers, paralegals are very knowledgeable with the Uniform Code of Military Justice and are more than capable of helping clients. However, when it comes to confidential counseling, paralegals can set up appointments with attorneys.

“We constantly work with everyone – anywhere from service members and civilians who live on this base to first sergeants and commanders who have questions,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Lezette Kennedy, another paralegal. “We’re constantly dealing with their personal lives, whether it’s buying their first new homes or selling their old one, getting married for the first time or getting a divorce. These things are things that are close to the heart and can affect a service member’s ability to perform well at their jobs.”

Though the General Law side is quite capable of handling legal matters for clients, it’s important to keep in mind that our paralegals are only well-versed in U.S. laws. So what happens if we have complications that involve the German law? After all, we are guests in our host nation.

What do you do 5J0X1? What do you do 5J0X1?

Luckily, the JAG employs the assistants of German paralegals, who work to ensure that the base’s population is covered when they happen to find themselves in legal situations and they don’t know what to do.

The key thing to remember about the legal system is that every country has a different one (seems fair, right?) It would only make sense that an American paralegal would be well-versed in the ways of the U.S. legal system, after all. With that in mind, USAF employs host national paralegals to perform the same functions as General Law does, but holding knowledge about their country’s laws.

Military Justice

What do you do 5J0X1? What do you do 5J0X1?

The paralegals working upstairs in Military Justice Department handle legal matters from a different perspective. Whereas the General Law section caters towards the base community, the Military Justice department consults leadership in regards to legal matter.

How so?

Say the commander of a squadron needed to write up legal paperwork or an article to distribute punitive actions or other administrative paper trails. To ensure that they were pulling correct citations from the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the squadron’s first sergeant would approach the Military Justice section and request consultation on a specific case that requires legal paper work to be filed.

Additionally, when legal matters are taken to a certain point that calls for a court martial, the paralegals of the MJD step up to assist the attorneys and lawyers that handle the case – backgrounds, articles from the UCMJ and notifying all the departments in order to set up a proper court martial? Yeah, these guys work hard behind draped curtains to ensure that the show must go on.

What do you do 5J0X1?

“There’s not a facet on this base we don’t touch, unlike any other office,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Osby Watts, JA superintendent. “We have our hands, ears and eyes on every single thing that happens on this installation. Our staff’s skill set is so diverse in every area. We provide a top-notch service without a hitch, because I believe a lot of agencies, despite something being their program, still come to us and request counsel on a way ahead. It’s a great opportunity to be a JA professional on this installation.”

Oh, and the legal blotter stuff you see on the main web page that normally notifies you of ongoing cases and the sentences that have been ruled? Also these guys’ handiwork – they draft up the updates and ensure that it goes through the proper process to ensure that those that are invested or interested get a proper update of a specific court martial case.

Area Defense Counsel

The ADC works strictly as a counseling agency for the Airmen that need help when it comes to legal matters. When you’ve been handed legal papers or accused of something in legal terms, you have the right to be represented by counsel at the magistrate hearing when a determination is made regarding continued pretrial confinement, at the Article 32 investigation and during all court-martial sessions.

In plain English, this counsel exists to make sure that you are properly represented and defended, regardless of what comes your way. Got a Letter of Reprimand or an Article 15? The ADC exists to consult you on the gravity of your situation and how they can help you out. As the ADC provides confident counseling, Attorney-client privilege exists between you and your ADC representative.

The Why:

Ultimately, I used to think (as you may have as well, but are afraid to admit), JAG is one of the agencies that we know is important, but not sure exactly how or in what way; unless you have legal matters truly breathing down your neck, what paralegals and those in JAG do aren’t constantly thriving in your mind.

But according to Lt. Col. Christine Lamont, 52nd Fighter Wing JAG staff judge advocate, the agency provides more than just legal consultation or reprieve from judicial due process.

“We have a vast mission set here,” Lamont said. “Well beyond what the typical Airmen would see – which is Article 15s, court-martials and notaries at the front desk. We’re involved in almost every cornerstone of this wing’s mission in an advisory capacity. We also work with our Airmen on an individual basis through our legal assistance program and its preventive law nature. We provide preventive law information as well as working with our Airmen to make them better supervisors through information on how to enforce that good order and discipline well before a subject may receive a commander’s attention. We’re there for Airmen personally and professionally. We’re also there for commanders when an issue gets to that level.”

Honestly, my personal perspective on it changed after getting to know the staff that works tirelessly at JAG.

An Airman, despite his or her dedication to serve their country, is, at the end of the day, a person. A person who feels, stresses, worries, waits and ponders. Though we all hold noble intentions of ensuring that our country can continue to not only maintain, but also better our way of life, we – individually ourselves – cannot put aside all of our personal concerns and worries just to carry on as professionally as we can muster.

What do you do 5J0X1?

The Judge Advocacy doesn’t simply exist to ensure that all legal matters are taken care of with a cold, iron fist. Matter of fact, JAG has a customer service section in their office for a reason. They are here on every military installation, not only to make sure that legal matters are taken care of and proper proceedings are cleared regarding matters to the UCMJ, but they also exist to help you – my dear readers – take care of yourselves.

So, now that you know what Paralegals do, dear readers, could you please tell me:

What do you do?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Been There, Done That … Bitburg Haunted House

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Sabers beware, it’s time for a scare! In order to end this rhyme without reason, I’ll tell you a tale of my favorite season. A visit to an annual attraction, filled to the brim with Halloween action. Let me tell you the tale of a haunted house most horrible and end this rhyme before it gets more deplorable.

 This time on Been There, Done That we braved the annual Bitburg haunted house!

Someone cue the lightening! (Thunder sounds)

The Bitburg haunted house is an annual attraction going on its 13th year and is being put on with the help of over 350 volunteers. The best way I can describe it is an amalgamation of nightmare inspiration by various contributors from both on and off base, all with the aim of scaring your pants off.

Haunted House 2015

As an aficionado of horror video games, I will admit I went into this one thinking myself an unflappable pillar of desensitized awesomeness. In the video games, there is little that cannot be overcome with either a sneaky sneak method or a blind dash for glory bolstered by the battle cry Leeeeeeeeeerooooy Jenkins. This method did not work so well for me in real life (not too surprisingly).

My cool as a cucumber facade aside, I have to say there were parts of the house that were truly spectacular with the effort put in by the volunteers. Many of the scares are just people jumping out and loud noises, true, but there are several areas that are genuinely creepy. You can see the work put in by those who brought the haunted house together this year, and it pays off amazingly. I personally found myself laughing more often than screaming, but I heard more than enough other people to know that only my in-depth training spared me.

My final take away from the attraction is this: even if you aren’t the easily frightened type, the Bitburg haunted house is a blast. You can see the love put into it, the actors are obviously having a lot of fun trying to scare you, and chances are pretty high you’ll have fun too.

 So if you’re a fan of horror just trying your skill or a Halloween goer just craving a thrill, why not head to Bitburg this year for your spine tingling chill! Happy Halloween, Sabers!

 

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Geilenkirchen Haunted House open Oct. 30-31

The scares are even better than last year; The Haunted House Team at Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base has done it again!

This year’s theme is The Evil Dead. The house is comprised of three closed school buildings, with over 19 rooms; more than 40 actors, a concession stand, and a green screen photo booth… there is surely a room to frighten the living daylights out of you.

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The team has been working on this project since Jun 2015, and everything has been well engineered with infrared sensors, automated heads, life like body parts, scary glow in the dark clowns, and zombiland. The sound, smells, and lighting are all there to infect the senses.

A children’s festival will be provided by Team 5/6 to entertain the young while giving parents the freedom to enjoy the Haunted House.

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The GK Haunted House Team is led by Tech. Sgt. Jed Abbot and his wife Heather, Teal Heart, Jake Dean and his wife Tech. Sgt. Neshanne Dean, Capt. Samory Adul-Raheem, Master Sgt. Chris Grube, and Master Sgt. Bryan Henry. The event was proudly funded by local MWA.

The locals say that this is the best Haunted House they have experienced and the price is only 5 Euros.

Event dates: Oct. 30, 5-11pm and Oct. 31, 4-11pm
Location: Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base, 100 Lilienthallee, 52511, Geilenkirchen Germany

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U.S., Portuguese airmen team up for helicopter unload

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Beja Air Base, Portugal, is abuzz with activity as nearly 3,000 service members and 40 aircraft from nine NATO and allied nations take part in Exercise Trident Juncture 2015.

It was hard to decide which unit to cover first, as each one is here to perform a specific mission that is critical to the overall success of this year’s exercise. However, one unit, the 41st Rescue Squadron assigned to the 347th Rescue Group at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, is here to perform a very unique mission — search and rescue — with their primary airframe, the HH60G Pave Hawk helicopter. And according to our Portuguese counterparts, this was the first time this type of airframe was seen on the Beja Air Base flightline

Before the 41st RQS could get up and running here, they had to coordinate with several U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard and Portuguese air force transportation and logistics units, to deliver and unload the equipment and personnel needed to perform their mission.

Senior Airman Kevin Dunn, 52nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, was key to ensuring the 41st RQS was operational within five hours of landing on the flightline.

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It was all hands on deck when the first C-17 Globemaster III touched down on the flightline Wednesday morning carrying two Pave Hawk helicopters, equipment and personnel. This was also a unique opportunity for Spangdahlem Airmen to learn procedures of loading and unloading cargo aircraft from their Portuguese counterparts.

This is the first of many opportunities for Spangdahlem Airmen to work with NATO and allied partners during Trident Juncture 2015. The exercise takes place over the next few weeks facilitating training opportunities ranging from fighter and rescue missions to exchanging best practices among the nine nations.

Trident Juncture 2015 is a multiservice, multinational exercise to demonstrate NATO’s resolve, capability and capacity to meet present and future security challenges. It consists of more than 36,000 troops from 30 Nations and takes place in Italy, Portugal, Spain, the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

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To see more photos of Exercise Trident Juncture visit the Spangdahlem Flickr page by following this link: http://bit.ly/1LN0YFk

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When Sabers Sleep: The Night Shift (726th Air Mobility Squadron)

As the sun touches the edges of our land, the sky turns from a vivacious shade of cerulean to a drowsy tint of purple and pink. Weary feet shuffle toward homes, minds occupied with the inviting arms of families and the soft embrace of pillows.

But if you were to take a moment to glimpse to your left and your right, you may notice something quite interesting –a select few walking in the opposite direction.

Their lives, unknown to us – separated by the intangible line demarcated by the sun and the moon –seem to exist in a surreal realm of twilight, one that seems to escape the confines of our world and awareness.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to “When Sabers Sleep: The Night Shift,” where we unveil the mysteries behind the story of those who work when the sun hides its face.

Tonight, we dive into the mysteries behind the nightly activities of:

The 726th Air Mobility Squadron (The A-Shift)

HEADLINE

Their mission: Serving as a passenger terminal and a pit stop for passing military air crafts, the 726th Air Mobility Squadron and its Airmen work hard to ensure that passing aircraft are well-maintained and taken care of before they leave Spangdahlem Air Base.

HEADLINE HEADLINE HEADLINE HEADLINE HEADLINE HEADLINE HEADLINE HEADLINE HEADLINE

You may have seen their nightly tale here, but you can learn far more about their story by visiting our Flickr page.

 

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“What do you do, 6F0X1?”

We see them all the time – walking around the installation, wearing their digital-print camouflage uniforms. They go to the super market, collect mail, visit the bank, or grab their meals at the same establishments we do.

Each and every one of our U.S. Air Force Airmen serve a purpose in accomplishing the same mission, but do we really know what they specifically do? Can you confidently say that you know the job specifics of that one Airman you saw this morning running at the base track – sweating, panting and producing a bizarre and unnatural whistling noise from their throat every time they take a breath?

For those of you just as curious as me, welcome to the second entry in my blog series, “What do you do?” a series in which I, Airman 1st Class Timothy Kim, inform you of exactly what some of our Airmen do to ensure the success of our installation’s mission!

The series will be posted on a monthly basis, each entry identifying a specific Air Force Specialty Code and informing you, my readers, on:

-What they do

-How they do it

-Why they do it

So, without further ado, let’s go ahead and dive into today’s highlighted AFSC!

The AFSC 6F0X1 (The Financial Management and Comptroller Airman)

HEADLINE

I knew them colloquially as “Finance” and there was only one thing that I knew about their job and what they do:

People handling money.

HEADLINE 150826-F-OG770-030

Okay, to be fair, I was mildly aware of what it is they do before I fully immersed myself in this project.

Here’s what I used to know:

The What: The 6F0X1 Airmen’s responsibility is mainly concerned with handling the budget of the installation and its people.

Here’s what I know now:

Members of the 52nd Comptroller Squadron (which is where our Finance management and Comptroller Airmen work) handles all financial and budget cases within the Air Force at the installation level. I know it sounds pretty simple, but it became quite clear to me during some of my interviews that – like everything in life – there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.

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Much like the way a car seems to run effortlessly down the road or the way a plane takes off and stays afloat thousands of feet in the air or the way your smart phone takes forever to update its operating system– just because it thought that now would be a great time to connect to a WiFi hotspot at the café where you’re supposed to be meeting your cute date – the 52nd CPTS seems to run a “simple” operation of handling its clientele’s cases, but there’s always so much going on behind the curtains. Looking at you, Oz. You ain’t fooling no one, little man.

The How:

Essentially, the 52nd CPTS and its 6F0X1 Airmen are split into two flights:

  1. The Financial Management Flight – Customer Service
  2. The Financial Management Assessment – Budget Analysis

These two sections handle different aspects of their responsibilities, but both work together to work toward the same mission. How? So you find yourself in the office of:

Financial Management Flight (FMF) Customer Service

What happens?

Chances are if you’re at the FMF customer service office, you’re looking for several things: you’re either in-processing, got married, about to travel, about to deploy, out-processing or you got underpaid in this month’s paycheck and came here to get some answers.

HEADLINE

According to U.S. Air Force TSgt Lloyd Mayberry, a 52nd CPTS financial management craftsman, the FMF is split into four sections that handle various aspects of your concerns listed above (and more).

  • Military Pay
  • Travel
  • Special Action
  • Disbursement

Military Pay handles things such as your financial records and statuses that would affect how much you’re getting paid. They look at your Leave & Earning Statement (LES) and can help explain to you why you ended up receiving a total of $400 as opposed to the usual $850 for this month. Because I worked real hard to make sure that I earned that money, and you have got to be kidding me how am I supposed to pay off the credit card bill I used to purchase my next-gen consol – erm, textbooks and classes and stuff.

Communicating with the Defense Finance Accounting System (DFAS), your finance Airmen working at Military Pay ensure they can correct any mistakes that may have ended up on your records.

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If you’re going to be leaving the area, or want to discuss traveling in which you consume your leave, you’d be talking to Airmen from Travel.

The Travel Airmen (not an official duty title, btw) handles all client’s cases pertaining to changes made on a person’s records regarding their current whereabouts, as it directly affects the individual’s financial status.

If you’re in-processing or out-processing, you’d be changing your physical whereabouts, which needs to be recorded in order to determine how much Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) you receive – if you’re still not aware of how that factors in (which is fine, because it took at least an hours’ worth of interviewing for me to grasp the concept – sorry, guys!) your current duty station is still part of a living area which has a dictated cost of living. If you happen to live in an area that’s expensive to live in, you’d be receiving more COLA in your paycheck. Smashing! So in order to ensure that you’re receiving the proper COLA, Travel needs to know if you’re leaving, where you’re going, etc. Capiche? Good!

Special Actions, located on the floor above Military Pay and Travel, deals with the similar issues but deals with specific cases, namely: debts, remission waivers, separations, retirements and even pay reductions dictated by Uniform Code of Military Justice articles.

Disbursement is a small, armored cage that handles cash (the cold, hard kind, yadadamean?) but is also mainly responsible for receiving payments from people who owe the Air Force money, giving money to people the Air Force owes money to and also issuing payment vouchers to units assigned to contingency operations. Though they collect all those green stacks in their vault, they are required to turn the cash into the bank within 24 hours.

Chances are, most of you are keenly aware of Military Pay and Travel, perhaps even Special Actions, as some of us are may face financial concerns, and perhaps there are even fewer who visits the indestructible cages of the disbursement office, but there’s a side to the 6F0X1 Airman’s job that not many of us may know.

Behold:

Financial Management Analysis (FMA) Budget Analysis

The FMA is more or less, as I perceive it, the sort of back side to the CPTS that not everyone sees or knows it exists. As I’ve stated earlier, the FMF is the side that everyone interacts with, but the FMA deals with more of the analytics and assessments of the installation’s finances.

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OK, hold the phone… what does that even mean? I know it seems like I ask a lot of clarifying questions, and true, it may take me awhile to grasp advanced concepts such as “financial stability” and “budget plans” (whatever those are), but at least my thirst for answers will help you help me help you understand the delicate intricacies of this job. Anything for my dear, favorite readers (hi, Mom)!

In plain old English and according to U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jon Candelario, a 52nd CPTS financial management craftsman, FMA functions similarly to accountants. They plan, advise, counsel and help develop budget plans. For whom? The installation, of course.

Congress allots certain amount of money for us, and the FMA Airmen ensure pretty darn-tootin’ that we don’t exceed past the amount that Congress has authorized the U.S. Air Force to use. Cascading down from the top through the proper chain of commands down to our installation like a refreshing waterfall of flowing chocolate running down those wine glass things that are set up to look like pyramids (Mmmmm, chocolate), we receive funds which are then split amongst groups and eventually squadrons.

The budgeting process normally involves the squadron and group advisors, as well as their respective resource advisors, but the FMA budget analysts don’t just counsel – they also help plan the squadron or group’s budget for contingencies.

Say, though all this was accomplished, the squadron still requires more funds because they want to conduct training or need more equipment essential to the mission. Their respective resource advisor speaks with their FMA representative, who then speaks to the requesting squadron’s functional area manager to determine if the request falls within the parameters of their job requirement. Then they go ahead and send the request up the proper chain of command to see if they can get those funds.

…..

Though this article doesn’t encompass the vast and detailed specifics of what our 6F0X1 Airmen do, it is my hope to ensure that you understand at a basic level that the FMF and FMA Airmen don’t just tap away on their keyboard, give you a toothy grin and say, “We’ll take care of your finances for you.”

Perhaps, my dear readers, this article has served its purpose in enlightening you on some of the gears that run behind the clock that allow the 52nd CPTS to continue to function and work hard for our installation. Without our Financial Management and Comptroller Airmen, our base would lose an important function.

Don’t believe me? Read it for yourselves from the 52nd CPTS!

The Why

According to U.S. Air Force Maj. Neil Harris, the 52nd CPTS commander, the Finance Airmen aid the adhesion that binds the base and its community together, promoting teamwork, efficiency and support.

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“The Airmen at the 52nd CPTS work hard to get stuff right the first time,” Harris said. “They’re resourcing all units in the 52nd Fighter Wing, because without the money, the Air Force will experience great difficulty in being able to function and operate. It’s a team effort, and they’ve worked hard to get the job done.”

HEADLINE

So, now that you know what Finance Airmen do, dear readers, could you please tell me:

What do you do?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When Sabers Sleep: The Night Shift (52nd FSS Spangdahlem Fitness Center)

As the sun touches the edges of our land, the sky turns from a vivacious shade of cerulean to a drowsy tint of purple and pink. Weary feet shuffle toward homes, minds occupied with the inviting arms of families and the soft embrace of pillows.

But if you were to take a moment to glimpse to your left and your right, you may notice something quite interesting –a select few walking in the opposite direction.

Their lives, unknown to us – separated by the intangible line demarcated by the sun and the moon –seem to exist in a surreal realm of twilight, one that seems to escape the confines of our world and awareness.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to “When Sabers Sleep: The Night Shift,” where we unveil the mysteries behind the story of those who work when the sun hides its face.

Tonight, we dive into the mysteries behind the nightly activities of:

The 52nd Force Support Squadron’s Spangdahlem Fitness Center

The Night Shift#2

Their mission: To support the men and women of 52nd Fighter Wing and their families, as well as geographically separated units. The squadron provides administrative, personnel, contingency response, force sustainment, family/child care and quality of life support to over 13.5K people.

The Spangdahlem Fitness Center serves to enhance the physical and mental fitness of the base community.

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The Night Shift#2
The Night Shift#2
The Night Shift#2
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The Night Shift#2
The Night Shift#2

You may have seen their nightly tale here, but you can learn far more about their story by visiting our Flickr page.

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When Sabers Sleep: The Night Shift (52nd CMS)

As the sun touches the edges of our land, the sky turns from a vivacious shade of cerulean to a drowsy tint of purple and pink. Weary feet shuffle toward homes, minds occupied with the inviting arms of families and the soft embrace of pillows.

But if you were to take a moment to glimpse to your left and your right, you may notice something quite interesting –a select few walking in the opposite direction.

Their lives, unknown to us – separated by the intangible line demarcated by the sun and the moon –seem to exist in a surreal realm of twilight, one that seems to escape the confines of our world and awareness.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to “When Sabers Sleep: The Night Shift,” where we unveil the mysteries behind the story of those who work when the sun hides its face.

Tonight, we dive into the mysteries behind the nightly activities of:

The 52nd Component Maintenance Squadron

Their mission: To provide safe and reliable aircraft engines, components and combat avionics systems for the 52nd Fighter Wing, enabling unique forward-based airpower capabilities in support of United States Air Forces in Europe and Air Force Africa, U.S. Central Command and NATO objectives.

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You may have seen their nightly tale here, but you can learn far more about their story by visiting our Flickr page.

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