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Officer Training School graduates first total force class

First Joint BOT and AMS Class graduates

Air Force Officer Training School held its first simultaneous graduation of active duty, Reserve and Air National Guard officer trainees Oct. 10, 2014. The graduation moved OTS closer to complete total force integration. The guidon bearer on the left represents OTS graduates and the one to the right represents the Guard’s AMS graduates. (U.S. Air Force Photo by/Melanie Rodgers-Cox).

The first class to graduate from the new-and-improved Officer Training School marked a second celebration: they are the first class to graduate active duty, Reserve and Guard officer trainees at the same time.

The first class of FY 2015 graduated 193 new 2nd lieutenants on Oct. 10, consisting of 73 active duty and 12 Reserve members completing Basic Officer Training and 108 ANG officers completing the Academy of Military Science, according to an Air Force release.

This is the first time both active duty and reserve component officers simultaneously ran through the new eight week curriculum. The OTS curriculum was shortened from 9.5 to eight weeks in August for active duty and extended from six weeks for Guard members, said 42nd Air Base Wing spokesman Phil Berube.

The most recent class had some combined lecture sessions and parade and drill training, but the Air Force is pushing to educate all members collectively within the OTS program.

“The vision is to merge the classes, meaning have active duty, Reserve and Guard students sit in the same classes together,” Berube said.

While active duty and Reserve members already train together, the Guard moved the Academy of Military Science, its commissioning school, in 2009 from McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base near Knoxville, Tennessee, to Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The move came three years after then-Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley expressed his vision of a “shared common experience” at a single location for active duty, Reserve and Guard officer trainees, the release said.

For airmen entering OTS, the ability to train and learn together will set “the stage for working and cooperating as a total force from the inception of an officer’s career,” OTS commandant Col. Scott Lockwood said in the release.

OTS commissioned 748 2nd lieutenants and trained more than 1,300 officers in fiscal 2014 through its Commissioned Officer Training and Reserve COT programs. AMS commissioned 511 Guard officers during that same time period.

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Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James to chat on Twitter

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James will take your questions on Twitter next week.

The Air Force announced she will be available at 2:30 p.m. next Monday to talk about “top life and leadership lessons.”

Get your questions ready, this is the first chat with James and the first for a current Air Force secretary.

Have an injury? Website offers virtual doctor’s office to airmen

Is that ankle sprain getting worse? Your knee acting up again? Maybe it’s time to consult someone who isn’t WebMD.

(via http://hprc-online.org/)

(via http://hprc-online.org/)

Now you can “Ask the Expert,” an online program military members and DoD civilians can use to submit questions to sports medicine experts.

Under a new partnership between the Air Force Medical Service and the Defense Department’s Human Performance Resource Center, airmen can consult HPRC experts on sports medicine, physical therapy, exercise physiology, athletic training, nutrition and more, according to an Air Force release.

“All Air Force healthcare providers — whether active duty, Guard, Reserve, civilian, or contractor — need a solid grounding in sports medicine,” said Col. John Oh, the chief of health promotion at the AFMS agency, in the release.

“Ask the Expert” users will input their branch, status, medical topic, and their question and submit it to a sports medicine expert who will respond via email. A response may take a few days, so members who need immediate assistance should see a doctor.

The program also accepts questions on a variety of other health- and performance-related topics, including: nutrition, dietary supplements, family and relationships, environment, mind tactics, and total force fitness, the release said.

“Our Airmen need to be fit to fight, and we medics need basic clinical skills in preventing, diagnosing, treating, and rehabilitating musculoskeletal injuries and conditions; referring patients appropriately; and profiling Airmen accurately for work duties and fitness assessments,” Oh said.

HPRC is a DoD initiative that provides “evidence-based tips and information to Warfighters and military families for optimal performance and health,” according to its website.

To learn more about “Ask the Expert” and HPRC, click here.

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Airman proposes to Cardinals cheerleader at Sunday game

Washington Redskins v Arizona Cardinals

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It was a moment worthy of instant-replay.

During the first half of Sunday’s NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and Washington Redskins, Air Force Capt. Erick Straub popped the question to girlfriend and Cardinals cheerleader Claire Thornton.

She said yes.

The sidelines proposal was caught on the jumbotrom, eliciting thunderous applause from the crowd at the University of Phoenix Stadium, according to news reports. The Cardinals went on to win the game.

Congrats to the happy couple!

Air Force Times’ Oct. 20 issue comic

0361 copy

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WWII airplanes to fly over Arlington Cemetery Friday

North American AT-6C Texan aircraft in 1943. (National Museum of the Air Force)

If you’re near the Pentagon or Arlington National Cemetery today, you might want to watch the skies around lunchtime. About 30 T-6 Texan aircraft — a two-seater used for advanced pilot training during World War II — are going to take off from Culpeper Regional Airport in Virginia around noon, and fly over Northern Virginia in formation.

The Potomac Flight is scheduled to swing by Andrews Air Force Base, before flying over Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon in formation around 12:30. The T-6s will then return to Culpeper.

The ceremonial flight is part of this weekend’s Culpeper Air Fest, and is in honor of disabled American veterans.

North American Aviation built more than 15,000 Texans between 1938 and 1947, and about 400 are still flying today.

Check out the flight plan here to see if they’ll be coming by your area. And if you happen to get any good shots of the Texans, tweet your pictures to Air Force Times, and we’ll retweet them.

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Blood moon over the Air Force Memorial

The lunar eclipse over the Air Force Memorial, Oct. 8, 2014. (Joseph Gruber/used with permission)

The lunar eclipse over the Air Force Memorial, Oct. 8, 2014. (Joseph Gruber/used with permission)

This morning’s lunar eclipse — which produced a coppery-red effect known as a “blood moon” — brought out skygazers of all kinds. Among them was pilot, former Air Force contractor, and amateur photographer Joseph Gruber, who snapped this outstanding photo of the blood moon hovering over the Air Force Memorial.

Gruber, who is also a first lieutenant with the Civil Air Patrol, said he was trying to find some high ground to snap a good shot of the eclipse in the Crystal City, Va., area where he lives. He realized Long Bridge Park, on the Potomac River, would provide a great view of the eclipse lined up with the Air Force Memorial. He headed there with his Canon T5i, and snapped the shot that is now spreading across social media.

In a Twitter exchange this morning, Gruber told me he’s “not a pro photographer by any means but learning.” But judging from this shot, it’s clear he’s got a knack for dramatic framing. Thanks to him for letting us use his picture.

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CCAF graduates largest class ever

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Staff Sgt. Vanessa Glenn, Community College of the Air Force student services technician, organizes the diplomas for the October graduating class at the CCAF headquarters at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala., Sep. 17, 2014. There were 13,042 diplomas printed off for the graduates of the October class. (Airman 1st Class Alexa Culbert/Air Force)

The Community College of the Air Force has hit a milestone.

CCAF graduated its largest class to date, according to an Air Education and Training Command release. CCAF graduated 23,160 members in 2014 with the help of the October class: 13,042 members earned their Associate of Applied Science degrees this month.

That’s a bump from last year — the college graduated 20,271 members in fiscal 2013, Michael Ritz, spokesman for the 42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, told Air Force Times.

But graduating students in the thousands every year comes as no surprise, writes Airman 1st Class Alexa Culbert: CCAF is the largest community college in the nation with a 6,000-person staff, 2,000 courses and more than a quarter million students, all distributed within 108 affiliated schools.

With such a vast reach, the college graduates more than twice the amount of students annually than the top civilian community colleges in the nation, the release said. To date, the CCAF has granted 445,600 degrees in just 36 years, which is “enough to grant the entire population of Atlanta a degree.”

Founded in 1972, the college began issuing degrees in 1977, and was granted accreditation from the Commission on Colleges in 1980; CCAF now shares Air University’s accreditation, CCAF commandant Lt. Col. Michael Artelli said in the release.

Congrats to this year’s graduates!

(via http://giphy.com)

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Civilian casualties front-and-center on ‘Homeland’ premiere

The poster for season 4 of "Homeland." (Showtime)

The poster for season 4 of “Homeland.” (Showtime)

Showtime’s controversial CIA drama “Homeland” returned with a two-part episode Sunday night. And in the premiere, the Air Force plays a central role in a fatal airstrike that will clearly drive this season’s plot.

Major spoilers for the premiere follow, in case you haven’t seen it yet.

The episode begins with brilliant-but-unstable CIA analyst Carrie Matheson (Claire Danes) — now the station chief in Kabul — ordering a strike on a terrorist leader named Haqqani in the Pakistani tribal region. However, the CIA’s intel didn’t include the fact that Haqqani was at a wedding, and multiple women and children are killed alongside him.

The American ambassador to Pakistan soon vents to the Islamabad chief of station over the increasing outrage from the Pakistani crowds over the civilian casualties, and refers to it as a drone strike. He points out that it technically wasn’t a drone strike, but a bombing run from two manned F-15Es. The ambassador is incredulous, and says she won’t mention that distinction to the Pakistani foreign minister.

But the tensest confrontation comes, when Matheson is attempting to unwind by drinking beer in what appears to be an embassy bar. An angry Air Force first lieutenant walks in and asks if she’s the CIA station chief. Matheson denies it, and claims to be a State Department foreign service officer. When the lieutenant identifies himself by his call sign and says he was the one who dropped the bomb on the wedding, Matheson drops her cover. He asks if the rumors that it was a wedding are true, and Matheson lies and says she doesn’t know.

The lieutenant grows furious, tells her that he also once dropped a 200-pound bomb on some Canadian soldiers based on bad intel, and calls spies like her “F—ing monsters, all of you.” Flabbergasted, Matheson tells the lieutenant to “Get the f— out of my face;” he says, “Yes ma’am,” and departs.

Aside from the fact that it’s pretty lousy tradecraft for a CIA station chief to take all of five seconds to drop her cover in public while drinking heavily, what’s your take on this weekend’s episode? Is the idea of an Air Force lieutenant publicly dressing down a CIA station chief over a strike complete Hollywood baloney? Is it good for pop culture to take on some of the more controversial aspects of tactics in the War on Terror? Sound off in our comments section below.

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