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2011 year in review


Registration starts for advanced ID system
Registration for the Defense Biometric Identification System began at Maxwell and Gunter, and everyone needing access to base was required to register by July.

"(With DBIDS) guards will scan the ID of the accessing individual to check for authorized access," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Allen, 42nd Security Forces Squadron assistant noncommissioned officer in charge of pass and registration and site manager for DBIDS. "They will be able to check new digital entry authorization lists."

CCAF adds two professional certification programs
At the start of the new year, the Community College of the Air Force strengthened its credentialing program by adding two professional certification programs -- the Professional Manager and CCAF Instructor certification programs.

"Both the PMC and the CIC provide Airmen with transcripted credentials beyond their CCAF associate degrees that measure their professional development and support their career transitions," said Lt. Col. Timothy Albrecht, CCAF commandant.


City plans Riverwalk extension to Maxwell
As the Montgomery Riverwalk and downtown development progresses, the next phase of the plan may directly affect base personnel.

"The city's vision is for the eventual (extension) of the Riverwalk to connect downtown with Maxwell. Thus, residents at Maxwell will be able to walk or bike via the Riverwalk into downtown," said Tyler Caldwell, planner at the Montgomery Department of Planning and Development. The extension is part of the larger revitalization and redevelopment of downtown.

AU honors Alabama Goodwill Ambassadors
The annual Alabama Goodwill Ambassador's Appreciation Night, held at the officers' club Feb. 3, honored sponsors who volunteer their time so international officers attending Air University schools will have a better experience during their visit to Maxwell.

The event included more than 400 people this year, including about 125 AGA sponsors and more than 180 international officers from 79 countries.

Programs share Prop and Wings run
On Feb. 8, officer candidates from the Air National Guard and officer trainees from the active duty Air Force came together to mark a historical event for the Officer Training School's commissioning program. The first joint Prop and Wings run was a shared common experience between the Academy of Military Science and the Basic Officer Training programs.

"This morning's run was a remarkable way to reflect our total force," said Col. Roger Watkins, the Holm Center commander.

Arbor Day recognition educates next generation
Feb. 24 marked National Arbor Day and Maxwell's 18th consecutive annual designation as a Tree City USA.

The base was also awarded the Tree City USA Growth Award for increased commitment to its urban forestry program.

The Gunter Child Development Center's children took part in the ceremony held at the center, which included the reading of an Arbor Day proclamation from the 42nd Air Base Wing, a presentation of the Tree City USA award to 42nd Air Base Wing Vice Commander Col. Christopher Sharpe, a parade and the planting of new trees around the center.


International festival brings world to Maxwell
The Air War College held its annual International Culture Festival with more than a thousand people flocking to the Civil Air Patrol hangar to enjoy a Saturday afternoon filled with food and fun.

The event has been held for the past 15 years and featured 44 countries. It offered international students an opportunity to showcase their native countries and share their unique culture with others.

Etchberger award honors teamwork
The Air Force honored one of its own March 10 with its first award dedicated to teamwork at the Air Force Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy.

During a ceremony at Gunter Annex, the school unveiled a display on the Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger Team Award and the medallions for the recipients.
Each medallion features Etchberger and the Medal of Honor on one side, and Lima Site 85 in Laos, where he was killed, on the other.


Maxwell stages tornado relief
Local and federal emergency agencies arrived at Maxwell in response to the April 27 storms that ravaged the state. Maxwell served as an incident support base for ongoing disaster relief efforts in the northern part of the state.

Col. Brian Killough, commander of the 42nd Air Base Wing, said the base is ready to aid the disaster relief efforts in any way it can. Part of that aid is providing the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies a staging area to handle supplies and logistics.

That area was up and running about 16 hours after FEMA received the call to respond.

Lake Martin recreational area severely damaged
Though a tornado caused severe damage to the Air Force recreational facility at Lake Martin April 27, no people were injured in its wake.

"The first thing we did was take a head count and make sure all the people were accounted for," said Doug Hooks, the Lake Martin recreation area manager. Twelve renters and several locals took shelter in the bathhouse, which had minor damage.

The National Weather Service classified the storm, known as the Lake Martin Tornado, as an EF-4 after it ripped through Elmore and Tallapoosa counties. The path was more than 44 miles long, half a mile wide.


Combat fitness offers full-body physical training
The Maxwell fitness center has added a new program to its lineup.

The combat fitness program is a rigorous combination of sprinting, gymnastics and weightlifting designed to improve cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, flexibility and strength.

Combat fitness is one of the most physically challenging training programs the fitness center has hosted in many years, according to Charles Atchley, the Maxwell- Gunter sports director. It allows people to attain the maximum effectiveness from their workout in a shorter amount of time.

AU hosts National Security Forum
The National Security Forum drew an expected 115 civilians to Maxwell-Gunter from across the nation.

Hosted by the Air University's Air War College and sponsored by the secretary of the Air Force, the weeklong forum is designed to familiarize members of the private sector with the Air Force and engage their ideas and perspectives on national and international security issues.


AU gains rare virtual reality tool
The Squadron Officer College has taken virtual reality to a whole new level. Two Virtu-Sphere locomotive simulators have been installed and are being tested for applications in educating Airmen. Of the 20 Virtu-Spheres existing, the only two in the Air Force are located at Maxwell.

The Virtu-Sphere, developed by brothers Ray and Nurulla Latypov, is a new simulation platform for engaging learners with simulated dangerous or otherwise challenging ACSC students set high standard.

ACSC holds commencement
The Air Command and Staff College held commencement ceremonies, graduating more than 500 students. The students this year performed at an impressively high level, according to ACSC Commandant Brig. Gen. Stephen Denker.

"The class has done exceptionally well in both the classroom and as vibrant members of many local communities," General Denker said.

Colonel Drew soared on final Discovery mission
Sometimes education can get you a promotion. For others, it can take you further.
Five years after Col. Benjamin Alvin Drew graduated from Air War College with a master of strategic studies in political science, he was aboard the final Space Shuttle Discovery mission.

"The educational and training opportunities (at Air University) are second to none," he said in a phone interview from his office at the Johnson Space Center. "Looking back, any colonel or general will tell you, the educational opportunities are there, and you don't want to pass up on them."

'Eagles' inspire new generation
The Air Command and Staff College hosted its annual Gathering of Eagles, a program that honors pioneers in aviation and heroes of air, space and cyberspace. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the program, which honored 14 aviators.

The event spanned the first week of June and included in-depth interviews with each Eagle that recounted stories, leadership lessons and the contributions made to air and space power.

SecAF congratulates SAASS grads, marks school's 20th anniversary
The graduation of the 20th class of the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies June 15 also marked the 20th anniversary of the school's founding, a fact highlighted in the commencement address by Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley.

Donley said the ceremony honored not only this year's SAASS graduates but the school's nearly 700 graduates over the last 20 years.

Forum provides base key venue for feedback
Members of the Maxwell-Gunter community let their voices be heard at the installation, major command and Air Force levels during the Caring for People Forum June 7.

Nerissa Keeler, the Integrated Delivery System chair who organized the event, thanked participants for improving conditions for Airmen and the families. She said she appreciated the "willingness to serve not only your family but the others who have access to Maxwell-Gunter services."


908th practices targeted drops
Parachutes bloomed over the 908th Airlift Wing drop zone near Autaugaville during its tactical airdrop weekend June 24-26.

Reservists practiced their wartime aerial delivery mission, dropping 3,700-pound training loads and 1,500-pound Containerized Delivery System bundles from altitudes ranging from 600 to 1,200 feet. The drop accuracy is judged by how close the loads land to an orange triangle near the center of the drop zone. The majority of the bundles and platforms fell within 100 yards of the target.

Company grade officer PME undergoes transformation
Air Force senior leaders recently approved a plan to transform professional military education for company grade officers.

The two existing developmental education venues for lieutenants and captains merged into a single in-residence opportunity for CGOs.

The Air and Space Basic Course at the Air University transferred portions of its content to the Squadron Officer School in-residence program, and the final group of lieutenants will graduate ASBC this summer.

The revamped SOS course expanded from its current five-week duration to an eight-week program and retained combined operations with the U.S. Air Force Senior NCO Academy.

Last class graduates from ASBC
Air and Space Basic Course graduated its last class July 22, with 146 officers receiving their diplomas. The course focused on foundational instruction in Air Force doctrine, leadership, team-building and communication skills.


New commander, president takes over AU
The change of command ceremony Aug. 12 was unique for the Air University, as Lt. Gen. David Fadok became the organization's first president and 29th commander.

"We produce the future and must never forget how important that mission is," Fadok said after assuming command from Lt. Gen. Allen Peck, who retired later in the day after 36 years of service.


IT conference emphasizes partnership
The Air Force Information and Technology Conference, held Aug. 29-30 at the Renaissance Hotel and Spa in Montgomery, brought together thousands of industry, defense and government attendees to exchange information on IT acquisition reform and cloud computing.

ACSC ceremony marks 9/11 anniversary
For many, the first reaction to the attacks was disbelief, Air Command and Staff College Brig. Gen. Stephen Denker, ACSC commandant, remembered going to sleep after a night shift at Aerospace Data Facility-Colorado at Buckley AFB, Colo., and waking up to the phone ringing.

After hearing a plane hit the World Trade Center, "I thought it was nothing more than an accident and went back to sleep," he said. His phone kept ringing. He finally turned on the television, and "I sat in horror and watched the towers fall," he said.

CI ratings: AU 'excellent,' wing 'sat'
After months of hard work, Maxwell celebrated the end of the Air Education and Training Command compliance inspection with noisemakers, horns and hamburgers.

Cowbells, whistles and sirens filled Polifka Auditorium when the Air University learned it had earned an "excellent" rating Sept. 19.

The 42nd Air Base Wing learned of its "satisfactory" rating during an outbrief at the base theater and then hosted a cookout at the Maxwell Event Center to celebrate the base's hard work.

'Outstanding' FOAs credit teamwork
It's a tale of two field operating agencies: one on Maxwell and one on Gunter. Both share something in common: an "outstanding" rating on the recent compliance inspections.

The Air Force Historical Research Agency on Maxwell and Air Force Logistics Management Agency on Gunter each achieved the elite rating, a feat the leadership of both organizations attribute to interagency teamwork.

Symposium bridges threats, responses
The Air University hosted the first Air Force Minerva Initiative Energy and Environmental Security Symposium at the officers' club at Maxwell the last week of September. The symposium brought together experts on energy, environment and related defense fields to promote a better understating of emerging security risks in these sectors.


Race series combines heritage, fitness
Maxwell kicked off the second annual "Heritage of Air Power" race series with the Spaatz Five-Miler Nov. 4. The second race, a 15k run, will be held in April 2012.

ESC challenges fitness
Electronic Systems Center took physical training to the next level Oct. 27 with a combat fitness challenge.

About 60 volunteers helped five five-person teams complete the course at Gunter, which included a 50-yard tire flip, Professional Development Guide quiz and vehicle pull.


Restructuring impacts base
Base officials discussed, during town hall meetings held Nov. 3, civilian positions being eliminated at Maxwell-Gunter during first-round restructuring efforts aimed at leveling civilian growth to fiscal year 2010 levels. According to civilian personnel officials, the number of civilian positions being eliminated from unit manpower documents is 99, with about 50 percent of those being vacant positions.

Cyber conference extolls virtues of collaboration
The Air Force Research Institute, or AFRI, held its cyber power conference at Maxwell, bringing together experts in the burgeoning field of cyberspace.

The conference addressed a lack of accepted standards for definitions, data structures, threat assessments and policies both within and across communities employing cyber power.

Air University awards first doctorate
Air University took its next step in developing the elite warrior scholar when it awarded its first doctorate degree Nov. 14.

Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis, deputy director of public affairs at Headquarters Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Va., received his doctorate of philosophy in military strategy during the ceremony in the Squadron Officer School's Polifka Auditorium.

Through writing his dissertation, Sholtis said he appreciated the opportunity to explore communication issues he and other military and civilian officials faced when discussing the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

AU honorary degree to Brokaw

The Air University honored Tom Brokaw with an honorary degree Nov. 14.

"You are one of the most trusted and respected figures in broadcast journalism," said Lt. Gen. David Fadok, commander and president of the Air University, during the ceremony at Polifka Auditorium. "The magnitude of a news event could be measured by whether or not Tom Brokaw showed up on the scene."

Fadok, Dr. Bruce Murphy, vice president for academic affairs, and Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr., chair of the AU Board of Visitors, presented Brokaw with a hood and diploma recognizing his honorary Doctor of Letters degree.

State Department diplomats enrich AWC experience
New perspectives enhanced the education of Air War College students as 15 State Department diplomats participated in seminars during the National Security Decision Making course.

"Having the State Department representatives join us in lecture and seminar discussion was beneficial to us all, and I believe that our guests would say the same thing," said Col. David Lowthian, an international officer from Canada.

MWD Blek earns state kudos for Afghanistan service
Retired military working dog Blek and his handler, Staff Sgt. Brent Olsen of 42nd Security Forces Squadron have been through a lot together. While in Afghanistan in 2010, the pair was injured after a Soldier stepped on a pressure plate, setting off a series of five mortar rounds. More than a year later, Olsen and Blek celebrated Blek's induction into the Alabama Animal Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Birmingham Nov. 6.

OTS marks 20,000 COT graduate
Through 15 years of motivation, dedication and perspiration, the Officer Training School graduated its 20,000th commissioned officer trainee during a ceremony at Boyd Auditorium Nov. 17.

"As a flight nurse, (Commissioned Officer Training) has made me feel like I am now acculturated as a new Air Force officer and able to function within the military and at my squadron," said 1st Lt. Christopher Hendricks.

Experts discuss future of Asia-Pacific
The Air Force Research Institute, or AFRI, hosted the Asia-Pacific Symposium at Maxwell. Titled "The Asia-Pacific Century: Overcoming the Strategy Gap," the event brought together key experts to discuss the shifting economic and strategic focus of the United States, according to Dr. John Shaud, the director of the AFRI and retired Air Force general.


Courses mix accessibility, personal touch
The Ira. C. Eaker Center for Professional Development has taken to cyberspace with five new blended e-learning courses, using a combination of online webinars and self-paced curriculum to allow students the benefits of the classroom anywhere with an internet connection, according to Barry Waite, chief of workforce diversity and civilian professional development division.

"Our students need courses to further refine their job skills and develop their functional leadership. Blended e-learning takes the classroom to the student, which opens up many more learning opportunities than in the past," he said.

CAP celebrates 70 years

Civil Air Patrol celebrated its 70th anniversary Dec. 1 by honoring two World War II veterans and thanking those who have served and continue to serve.

"Patriotic service is the hallmark of success for the Civil Air Patrol," said Col. Paul Gloyd, commander of CAP-U.S. Air Force. "CAP members never cease to amaze me."