Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

July 27, 2017 at 11:04am

Is Mobility Guardian Rodeo 2.0?

Air Rodeo was part competition and part community celebration. Mobility Guardian focuses more on training and international interoperabilities. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Mobility Guardian is not Air Rodeo 2.0, according to Air Force officials.  Rodeo, which was hosted at McChord for nearly two decades, was a competition - Mobility Guardian is an exercise.  This Q&A from Air Mobility Command provides the explanations.

How will Mobility Guardian be different from AMC's Rodeo in previous years?

Mobility Guardian is a time for discovery and learning. It is a completely new exercise meant to enhance mobility partnerships and test the full spectrum of capabilities Air Mobility Command provides the nation. AMC Rodeo was primarily a friendly competition between various joint and coalition partners, while Mobility Guardian will put mobility airmen, and their partners, to the test in real-world scenarios that aircrews face in today's contingency operations as well as those they expect to see in the future. This forum will allow participants to share tactics, techniques and procedures essential to maintaining readiness and sustainment in coalition campaigns around the world.

What inspired the change?

Exercise Mobility Guardian is crucial, because no matter how the world acts, one constant remains - the need to reach any point on the globe quickly and with ready military forces. In the face of high operations tempos and limited resources, AMC owes it to their airmen and the American people to maximize efficiency and produce ready forces always. AMC Rodeo's evolution to Exercise Mobility Guardian is a crucial opportunity to maintain readiness and improve interoperability with joint and coalition partners. To be prepared for tomorrow's challenges, airmen must train like they fight. Exercise Mobility Guardian gives them the chance to do just that, working with their mobility partners to tackle highly complex scenarios which will increase their ability to employ forces in the tough situations they find themselves in around the world.

What are the similarities between Mobility Guardian and past Rodeos?

Exercise Mobility Guardian grew out of a need to sharpen the skills of mobility crews to meet current and future demands of combatant commanders. Air Mobility Rodeo focused on specialized crews in competition, whereas Mobility Guardian is driven by readiness, which is what is required in today's volatile environment.

What are the training goals for the exercise? What types of scenarios will participants see?

Exercises like these offer an opportunity to learn and evolve as a force. With mission readiness as the ultimate training objective, the exercise is being designed to sharpen airmen's skills in support of combatant commander requirements. The exercise training scenario will feature joint forcible entry and airfield seizure, a joint mission between Air Force airdrop crews and Army Airborne units which will take place at locations across Washington state. It will also incorporate contingency response and humanitarian relief operations to include aeromedical evacuation efforts.

July 27, 2017 at 10:59am

AMC commander meets with Congress on mobility

U.S. Rep. John Garamendi and Gen. Carlton Everhart discuss rapid global mobility during a Mobility Air Forces Caucus breakfast in Washington, D.C., July 12. Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Robert Barnett

The Air Mobility Command commander, Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, was invited by Congress to speak to congressional leaders at the Congressional Mobility Air Forces Caucus Breakfast, July 12, in Washington, D.C.

He traveled there to speak with lawmakers regarding worldwide mobility operations.

The CMFAC, co-chaired by U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Washington, and U.S. Representative John Garamendi, California, provides an opportunity for government leaders and their colleagues to discuss Mobility Air Forces contributions to national defense. It establishes a forum for exchange amongst its members and ensures they have access to the most accurate and up-to-date information about developments in air mobility.  

Rep. McMorris Rodgers highlighted the value and need for Gen. Everhart's perspective to ensure enhanced understanding of the mobility mission set to national defense in order to fulfill its oversight role.

"Mobility airmen and aircraft are vital to our national defense because they give the United States global reach," said McMorris Rodgers. "In today's volatile environment, with new and diverse threats all around us, it's incumbent upon us to advocate and strengthen Air Mobility Command's unique ability and mission in providing for our national defense."

Everhart's speech was tailored around AMC's four mobility focus areas: readiness, growing and developing airmen, modernization and the nuclear mission. He spoke on the capabilities of AMC and enabling joint force operations to take place, anywhere on the planet within hours versus days.

"Mobility Air Forces are the backbone of joint operations," said Garamendi. "Rapid global mobility enables our Armed Forces to project American power around the world, whether for major combat operations or for humanitarian relief."

With the Air Force being the smallest and busiest it has ever been, Everhart thanked the caucus for recognizing AMC's mission impact and highlighted the continued partnership with Guard and Reserve forces to accomplish the command's mission.

Readiness, Growth and Development of Airmen

AMC's readiness is not solely reliant on modern technology to get the mission done, but also having its most valuable resource, well-trained and well-equipped airmen, ready to go at a moment's notice, said Everhart.

The general discussed AMC's role in squadron revitalization and work being done to further demonstrate the value airmen and their families bring to national defense.

"Mobility airmen are committed, selflessly face adversity, and work diligently with fewer resources and funding - the tradeoff has resulted in manning issues such as the national pilot shortage," said Everhart.

The Guard and Reserve are already 315 pilots short today, and over the next four years, there are another 1,600 AMC pilots eligible to leave the service.

Everhart spoke on how the Chief of Staff of the Air Force is committed to improving quality of life and service within the pilot force and across the broader Air Force.  He added how AMC is actively investigating ways that he can enact measures within his span of control to bring about change and improvement as well. He specifically discussed AMC's Aircrew Crisis Task Force and the over 600 responses the team processed in developing courses of action to address the top concerns.  

Everhart thanked the caucus for their efforts in supporting aviator retention initiatives. He highlighted the need to ease the transition of dual-career families into communities and enhance education.

Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, Air Mobility Command commander, and U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, have a conversation outside the Red Morgan Center recently, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Everhart was invited by Congress to speak at the Congressional Mobility Air Forces Caucus Breakfast, July 12, in Washington D.C. Photo credit: Senior Airman Sean Campbell
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Modernization

Everhart discussed the command's look at making the mobility aircraft more survivable, aircraft availability, and creating pathways to modernize the fleet. He noted that without a stable defense budget, modernization innovations are difficult to achieve.

The full funding for 15 KC-46 aircraft that happened in December helped prevent the MAF from potentially breaking its contract with Boeing, Everhart said. The Armed Services Committee has requested 17 KC-46s in the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

He shared the importance of continually enhancing aircraft refueling capabilities and creating predictable budgetary pathways to modernize the mobility fleet.

Nuclear Mission

Everhart noted the tanker fleet's role in the nuclear mission, and how modernization and survivability of the platform ensures the nation's ability to assure allies and deter potential adversaries. The mission set requires the ability to execute global reach quickly and over vast distances.

"The tanker underwrites our nation's ability to project power rapidly," said Everhart. "It enables the ‘global' aspect in global vigilance, global reach and global power."

He noted AMC's support of nuclear-capable B-2s on their way to eliminate terrorist training camps in Libya. In a 30-hour nonstop flying mission, 15 Total Force tankers from five different bases were able to make that possible.

The general concluded by informing the caucus about the inaugural Mobility Guardian exercise.  The exercise is designed to test the four core mobility capabilities - aerial refueling, airlift, aeromedical evacuation and enroute support. The exercise will improve the readiness of mobility, joint and international partners to meet increasing demands of worldwide operations. He explained how this is no longer a mere skills competition, but a cutting-edge exercise that will afford Airmen the opportunity for learning and discovery in a challenging operational environment.

With the exercise consisting of more than 3,000 personnel and more than 30 partner nations, it represents the full spectrum of mobility air forces.

"Those in attendance gained firsthand knowledge of General Everhart's leadership and commitment to Air Mobility Command, and all of our servicemen and women," said McMorris Rodgers. "General Everhart emphasized the need for a strong and ready force, the need for modernization of aircraft and equipment, and the need to honor the service and sacrifice of those who put their lives on the line every day for this country ... Air Mobility Command plays an integral role in keeping our nation safe."

Rep. Garamendi remarked on how important it was for the AMC commander to take the time to assist Congress in fully understanding the role and importance of Mobility Air Forces to national defense.

"General Everhart made it clear he is thinking about how Mobility Air Forces will evolve in response to 21st century challenges and threats," said Garamendi. "As the United States continues to operate around the world, the Total Force of mobility airmen will need the support and the platforms necessary to (counter) fights from insurgents like ISIL and near-peer competitors."

July 20, 2017 at 11:13am

Air Force announces Enlisted Professional Military Education redesign

The three major initiatives of EPME 21. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Air Force officials announced major changes to the Enlisted Professional Military Education program Wednesday via an initiative called Enlisted Professional Military Education for the 21st Century, or "EPME 21."

A major initiative of EPME 21 is that time in service will no longer dictate an airman's EPME enrollment - airmen will only be required to complete distance learning courses as a prerequisite to their resident attendance. This initiative is now in effect.

Also, the Air Force will transition to 100 percent resident EPME, allowing all active-duty, Guard and Reserve airmen an opportunity to attend Airman Leadership School, the NCO and senior NCO academies prior to promotion.

The changes are a result of the 2017 EPME triennial review, said Chief Master Sgt. JoAnne Bass, the Chief of Air Force Enlisted Developmental Education at the Pentagon.

"The committee determined changes were needed to the existing EPME structure in order to align EPME with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's policy requiring rank-based educational opportunities," Bass said. "This also enables all airmen an opportunity to attend resident PME in order to truly leverage the educational experiences gained from instructors and peers."

One of Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright's three priorities is leadership - developing airmen who are ready to lead. One of his objectives in this is to cement EPME changes and infuse agility into Air University processes to improve the ability to provide timely, updated content delivery.

"If this sounds familiar, it should. It was the staple of our EPME for almost forty-three years before a recent change to a time in service model," Wright said. "While this model was effective for some, we quickly found it didn't meet the needs of all our airmen, causing many NCOs to lose the opportunity to attend in residence at all."

Rather than requiring airmen to complete EPME at set times based on how long they've been in the Air Force, the new model transitions to a rank-based continuum of learning.

Removing the TIS determination "just makes sense," Wright said. "We must ensure timely, focused and operationally relevant training and educational solutions at all levels. Providing airmen with the appropriate PME at the right times in their career is a must. If we deliver it too soon, it's not effective for where they are in their careers. If we deliver it too late, it's not effective at all."

Wright notes that the model provides airmen greater flexibility and time, allowing them to focus their energies on the mission.

"Commanders, superintendents, first sergeants and supervisors remain central to inspiring a culture of innovation, agility and excellence, while promoting a continuum of learning that spans an Airman's career," he said.

Airmen will not be notified from the Air Force Personnel Center or Air University on when to enroll themselves into distance learning, but must manually enroll themselves.

"This new EPME structure allows airmen to decide the best timeframe to complete their distance learning," Bass said. "They will have to complete the distance learning prior to being scheduled for the resident portion, but each airman now has more flexibility as to when the right time is for them."

Bass explained that distance learning provides students with basic competency development and the resident courses allow students to apply what they learned.

"It is necessary to complete both the distance learning and the resident courses to achieve development of the required competencies at the appropriate proficiency levels," she said. "We expect staff and master sergeants to complete their respective distance learning so when they become technical and senior master sergeants, they are immediately eligible for resident attendance."

Resident EPME is a promotion requirement - Airman Leadership School, NCO Academy, SNCO Academy and the Chief Leadership Course are required for promotion to E-5, E-7 and E-9, respectively.

Airmen who have previously completed NCO or SNCO distance learning courses under the previous policy and have not attended resident EPME, will still receive EPME credit and will not be required to attend the resident portion. Additionally, those currently enrolled in NCO or SNCO distance learning courses may still complete the course and receive credit upon completion. Or, they may withdraw with no adverse actions and reenroll at a later date, prior to attending resident EPME.

"This change clearly sends a signal that our senior leaders value deliberately developing our enlisted corps," said Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services. "This is a positive move in the right direction, as we continue to develop the force and support our airmen."

Additionally, EPME 21 will institute a new requirement called Professional Development Unit that will capture diverse education, training and life experiences. This will allow the AF to capture those experiences. Each airman will complete 24 PDUs per year with one PDU equaling approximately one hour of learning, which equates to three days of development in the span of a year.

Many activities that enlisted airmen already do will count towards the 24 PDUs. Professional Enhancement Seminars, Senior Enlisted Joint PME, college classes and even earning professional certifications accumulate points. Many airmen have already attended programs like Profession of Arms Center of Excellence or other major command courses. Additionally, airmen actively plan and participate in Air Force, Joint and coalition exercises, gaining experience in warfighting activities ranging from aircraft generation, command and control and force protection. And finally, airmen deploy and lead both small and large teams across our Combatant Command Areas of Responsibility. These all count.

For more information, visit myPers. Individuals who do not have a myPers account can request one by following the instructions on the Air Force Retirees Services website.

July 13, 2017 at 3:57pm

A bright future for JBLM and Team McChord

Col. Leonard J. Kosinski, commander of the 62nd Airlift Wing at McChord, took his final flight here and received the ceremonial dousing of water and congratulations this week as he prepares to leave command. Photo credit: 62nd PAO

Thank you for all that you do on a daily basis to make Joint Base Lewis-McChord an incredible place to live and work. It is a total force team that makes JBLM the premier installation that it is today. From our community partners, civic leaders, and honorary commanders who have embraced the soldiers and airmen of the joint base with unparalleled support, to our joint partners who enable the 62nd Airlift Wing's mission to "deliver safe and reliable global airlift." As I look back on my tenure here at JBLM, it is obvious how special these Team McChord partnerships have become and how vital they are for our continued success.

Dual-hatted as both the commander of the 62nd Airlift Wing and the Air Force Senior Service Component Commander, it has been a true honor to serve all of Team McChord as your advocate for Air Force equities on JBLM. I would like to thank not only Lt. Gen. Gary Volesky (I Corps commanding general) as our partner mission commander and Col. Dan Morgan as the (JBLM) installation commander for their continuous support of the Air Force mission on McChord Field, but also my fellow commanders in Team McChord. It has been a true pleasure to work alongside each of you.

The advancements we have made together over the last two years to advance joint basing are undeniable. Here are just a few of the highlights: In 2016, JBLM hosted the Joint Airshow and Warrior Expo, a first-of-its-kind event designed to highlight the full spectrum of combat capabilities at JBLM and the first airshow at McChord Field since 2012. The Warrior Expo highlighted how JBLM now embraces the tenants of joint basing and opened the doors to share this success with the local community. We continued this progress through the development of the JBLM Standards Book, a collaboration between the services, designed to educate members on the differences between the services, as well as relay a common vision and purpose for all airmen and soldiers stationed here. Through these efforts, JBLM has become a model for the Department of Defense for the benefits of joint basing and collaboration between the services.

Joint training has also become commonplace at JBLM. From the integration of ground liaison officers and air mobility liaison officers, to weekly mission operational trainers and the evolution of Rainier War from a semi-annual airlift exercise to a truly joint event, we have begun to implement the lessons of our current conflicts and truly "train as we fight." These principles will be on full display later this summer as JBLM prepares to host Exercise Mobility Guardian. As Air Mobility Command's premier exercise, 3,500 participants from 29 nations will descend upon JBLM to take part in and observe the capstone-training event. Although centered on the air mobility mission, this exercise, like the daily operations of the 62nd Airlift Wing, would not be possible without the continuous support of our joint partners.   

Finally, to the airmen of the 62nd Airlift Wing, you are the best at what you do and I am proud to serve with each of you. It has been an honor to be your commander over the last two years and I am continuously impressed by the way that you embody "the McChord way: excellence, innovation, respect." These principles and the way that you exemplify them in every facet of the mission have made the 62nd Airlift Wing and JBLM a true leader in global airlift. Although these remarks are bittersweet, I know that the wing and Team McChord will be in very good hands with the arrival of Col. Rebecca Sonkiss, and I cannot wait to see where she leads Team McChord in the future.

July 6, 2017 at 10:59am

Transition program keeps servicemembers employed

Senior Airman Ethan Eastling receives career counseling from Steve Holley, Service Member for Life Transition Assistance Program unit outreach team member, June 27, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

The transition from military to civilian life is inevitable for every servicemember, but with help from the Service Member for Life Transition Assistance Program, it doesn't have to be done alone.

The SFL TAP on Joint Base Lewis-McChord provides relevant and practical tools and services to help transitioning servicemembers reintegrate into the civilian workforce.  

"This helps prepare them and give them the resources needed for their future career," said Pat Jackson-Holly, SFL TAP unit outreach team member. "I wish there was something like this when I was transitioning from the service."

A Department of Defense-mandated program, SFL TAP ensures that career readiness standards are met for all servicemembers separating or retiring from the military.

"There is no understandable reason why servicemembers wouldn't take advantage of this," said Jackson-Holly. "On the outside you'd be paying a pretty penny for services like this."

Servicemembers within 18 months of separating or 24 months of retiring are required to enroll in SFL TAP.

"I highly recommend that servicemembers take getting involved with TAP very seriously," said Jackson-Holly. "Transition data shows that servicemembers are not starting SFL TAP within the mandated timeline, and that they are having insufficient time to complete training needed to integrate into the workforce."  

Servicemembers starting the program are given a pre-separation briefing and a counseling. They are then taken through a number of briefings and workshops which include a financial briefing, Department of Labor workshop, and a Veterans Affairs brief.

"When you start the process, you'll do a career assessment to find a field of work you might like," said Jackson-Holly. "There is also a class that translates military skills to civilian jobs."

The program provides resumé writing classes and a variety of hiring events and opportunities, as well as programs to learn different trade skills.     

"Sometimes it can be misleading when you are applying for jobs online," said Jackson-Holly. "This program gives servicemembers a leg up and can actually grant interviews with potential employers."

Going beyond job placement, the program helps servicemembers find a career they enjoy doing, said Jackson-Holly.  

"If you don't love what you're doing you have nothing to lose," said Jackson-Holly. "We don't want to just find employment for you, we want to put you in a job you'll love."  

Tailored to work around busy schedules, servicemembers shouldn't let their military jobs or hectic work schedule deter them from attending, said Jackson-Holly.   

"This is a command-mandated program, and servicemembers should not let their busy schedule stop them from participating," said Jackson-Holly. "This program is in everyone's best interest."

To find out more information about SFL TAP, call 253.967.3258.

July 6, 2017 at 10:55am

Manpower at McChord

Tech. Sgt. John Major, 62nd Airlift Wing manpower and organization NCOIC, reviews a manpower document June 29, 2017, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

Small but mighty, the six-person manpower office, here, has been crunching the numbers and advising leadership on their resources.

The 62nd Airlift Wing manpower and organization office advises Team McChord leadership on issues pertaining to wartime and peacetime manpower resources, organization structure, productivity and performance management.

"Our goal is to ensure units have the proper number of requirements to accomplish the mission," said Tech. Sgt. John Major, 62nd AW manpower and organization NCOIC. "We do that based on the latest policies and directives, while promoting the most cost-effective and efficient use of resources through continuous improvement activities, consultant studies and productivity enhancement."

Major said the manpower office acts as an honest broker between Air Force, major command, and base-levels.

"We don't just advise leadership on the management of their organization, we also try to convey their needs or differences back up the chain," said Major. "When an Air Force manpower standard is published, we translate it and it gets passed down to the base-level, then we convey the needs back up the chain to make sure the base-level differences are translated into the source documents."

All of the Air Force assets on McChord are associated with the 62nd manpower office.

"My office is responsible for all the AMC requirements on the base," said Major. "We can offer information to the tenant units, but we can't make any changes to their positions because each MAJCOM owns their own requirements."

While the manpower office does a great job crunching the numbers and advising leadership on their resources, there are some challenges associated with being assigned to a joint base.

"Not every base is a joint base, so here, besides working normal Air Force rules and regulation, we also have the joint base construct to deal with," said Major. "The fact that the Army is the lead service on this base means that some things we would normally do are different. Certain things that we would expect to be available are not, so we have to help the units ask for things they need. It's a little bit more difficult allocating for positions here than a normal Air Force base."

Another challenge that manpower faces is miscommunication on shared assets.

"Part of our role as an advisor is to mediate an issue," said Major. "When we do a continuous process improvement event, we bring in a lot of agencies and discuss how a process they share could be improved. We lay that out in a process improvement document; we may solidify that in an Air Force instruction, or a local operation instruction, and then take those documents, publish them, and make that their new standard for sharing that resource."

While being a retrained-in-only career field, the manpower career field is a unique one.

"Manpower is not an easy fit for everybody," said Major. "We are very small with about four hundred positions. Our goal is to be that outside voice when leadership is trying to make changes. We have the amazing opportunity to touch every unit on base.  We touch every functional area the Air Force has to offer. That's why I love being a manpower analyst."

June 30, 2017 at 11:26am

Team McChord chaplains uplift airmen

Capt. Thomas Simmons, McChord Field chaplain, poses for a photo June 22 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

Dressed in the same uniform as the airmen they serve, Team McChord chaplains do more than preach and pray.

Charged with the responsibility to spiritually advise and counsel airmen and leadership, chaplains help keep airmen mission-ready and resilient to overcome work and home stresses.

"What I'm finding is that a lot of airmen haven't been able to find their spiritual foundation," said Capt. Thomas Simmons, McChord Field chaplain. "As chaplains, we are here for spiritual accommodation according to what is meaningful and relevant to your life whether it be your religion or a matter of conscience."

A confidential outlet for airmen to reach out to, chaplains provide counseling in a wide variety of areas and administer spiritual services for airmen of different religions, or no religion.

"We want every airman to have a strong spiritual foundation to overcome life stressors," said Simmons.

"Advising is not always of religious nature but many times of ethical and moral nature." 

Besides working directly with airmen, chaplains work on behalf of airmen through advising unit leadership.

"We should always be mission-minded," said Simmons. "Commanders rely on chaplains to ensure they have the trust of their airmen and they're willing to make tough decisions to earn their trust."

Chaplains provide motivational and inspirational advice and support to airmen at their work centers.

"We want to ensure airmen are feeling appreciated and recognized, and to remind them that they have an advocate to represent them," said Simmons. "When they are on the flightline in freezing cold, a hot cup of morale and a pack of cookies will go a long way."

Chaplains work to help airmen navigate the stressors of everyday life, said Chaplain Capt. Jammie Bigbey, McChord Field chaplain.

"I believe life can be challenging for anyone, now add deployments, additional duties and trainings, along with the uncertainty of how world events may affect your life if a call to war comes," said Bigbey. "I want to be there to help airmen and families navigate their lives and achieve their calling."

Stressors for airmen can cause a crisis and interfere with them doing the mission, said Simmons.  

"In the midst of an emergency situation or some level of crisis, we provide counseling to include suicidal thoughts, depression, domestic violence, sexual assaults or whatever impedes airmen from being fully available to do the mission," said Simmons. "We want to get you solution-focused and make airmen available again to fulfill the mission and their families."

Not your everyday pastor, chaplains undergo extensive training prior to receiving the title of chaplain. They are required to receive an endorsement from an ecclesiastical body, hold a master's degree or higher in theology or religious studies and be ordained as a minister or spiritual leader. Prior to entering the Air Force Chaplain Corps, they are required to have served two years in ministry, attend commissioned officer training and the Air Force Basic Chaplain Course.

"We are required to have a level of confidence and proficiency in our responsibilities," said Simmons. "We want to make sure we are professionals in the profession of our faith."

A mandatory requirement for all chaplains is to uphold 100 percent confidentiality for all airmen they serve.

"This creates a safe place to talk about anything," said Bigbey. "Everybody has many human dynamics to them and it is important to have chaplains who can speak into the various contexts where people are involved."

Chaplains hold different professions of faith but provide an array of religious services and material to airmen of every faith group. Their services include couples counseling, marriage counseling, grief counseling, anger management, family counseling, resiliency and marriage retreats, and the officiation of marriage.     

To contact the McChord Chapel, call 253.982.5556.

June 29, 2017 at 2:42pm

Civil Engineers shine at Schriever

Tech. Sgt. Jon Vinson and Senior Airman Mason Conner with the 446th Civil Engineer Squadron from JBLM, replace power production equipment at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, June 15. Photo credit: Senior Airman Arielle Vasquez

Air Force officials are making three substantial changes to the developmental special duty process that will significantly improve the Air Force's ability to fill these important positions by adding more flexibility to the process and increasing opportunities for NCOs.

The changes include opening military training instructor opportunities to staff sergeants, reverting the technical training instructor process for three-level awarding schoolhouses back to the Enlisted Quarterly Assignment Listing-Plus website and lowering the physical training score for all DSD and TTI positions to the Air Force standard of 75 points versus the former DSD standard of 80.

Rank changes for military training instructors

The change allows staff sergeants to be nominated for military training instructors overseeing basic military training.

This change replaces the 2012 policy that limited the ranks of MTIs to technical and master sergeants.

The DSD process for MTIs will now afford commanders the opportunity to nominate staff sergeants with at least two years' time in grade for this critically important special duty. This change more appropriately aligns the eligibility aspect of the nomination process with other DSD opportunities that already allow staff sergeants to serve, such as military training leaders, professional military education instructors and recruiters.

"Allowing skilled staff sergeants to once again serve as MTIs provides greater NCO developmental opportunities," said Chief Master Sgt. Stephanie DeSouza, the Operations and Special Duty Airmen Career Management Division superintendent at the Air Force Personnel Center. "We are confident that mature, experienced staff sergeants have the skill set necessary to thrive as MTIs and better balance the (basic military training) work load."

There are currently 557 airmen serving as certified MTIs at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

"MTIs represent the Air Force enlisted corps on a national stage and they are called upon to develop America's sons and daughters into our next generation of airmen," DeSouza said.

Technical training instructor assignment process reverts back to EQUAL Plus

The second change authorizes airmen interested in volunteering for the Air Force's TTI duty to volunteer for these positions directly through the EQUAL Plus assignment system. This change became effective June 26, 2017, when the initial group of EQUAL Plus advertisements began appearing live on the Assignment Management System.

"Requirements for these instructors are rank and Air Force specialty code-specific," said Chief Master Sgt. Dave Staton, the command chief for Air Education and Training Command. "It has been difficult to identify enough of these AFSC-specific, qualified candidates using the DSD nomination process. Through EQUAL Plus, we expect to find qualified candidates in a more timely manner and have the flexibility to react to short-notice changes and requests for fills to include instructor increases."

Since July 2013, more than 2,700 TTI positions were included in the DSD process along with nine other special duties that were filled utilizing a commander nomination process. Staton said using EQUAL Plus should prove more effective to fill and manage the assignment process for technical school instructors.

Airmen interested in applying to become TTIs can begin looking for positions via AMS after June 25. A large number of TTI positions will be filled over the next year which presents an excellent career opportunity for many airmen.

PT score changes to 75

Effective the fall 2017 DSD assignment cycle, the physical training test scores will now be set at 75 or above on the previous three assessments, which aligns this requirement with the Air Force standard.

"This change just makes sense for the process," said Maj. Gen. Mark Anthony Brown, the AETC vice commander. "If you meet Air Force standards, you should be qualified to perform in a DSD or TTI position.

Brown said this change also opens the aperture and allows more airmen to qualify and compete for these positions "that are so important in professional development."

Identified as developmental due to their unique leadership roles and the responsibility to mentor and mold young airmen, the nine DSDs are: career assistance advisor, military training instructor, military training leader, Air Force Academy military training instructor, Airman and Family Readiness Center NCO, first sergeant, Air Force Honor Guard NCO, recruiter and PME instructor.

Developmental special duty qualifications are outlined in the special duty catalog.

Additional information about specific rank requirements, nomination eligibility criteria, process and other specifics can be found on myPers under Special Duty Assignment Programs on the Active Duty: Enlisted Assignments Home Page or select "Active Duty Enlisted" from the dropdown menu and search "DSD."

June 29, 2017 at 2:34pm

AF releases criteria for new valor "V", combat "C" and remote "R" devices

Air Force officials released criteria for the new “V”, “C” and “R” devices, following the secretary of Defense’s Jan. 7, 2016, authorization. Courtesy photo

Air Force officials released criteria for the new "V", "C" and "R" devices, following the secretary of Defense's Jan. 7, 2016, authorization.

Following a comprehensive Military Decorations and Awards Review in 2015, the secretary of Defense implemented several changes to ensure the Defense Department's military decoration and awards program continues to appropriately recognize the service, sacrifices and actions of servicemembers.

"As the impact of remote operations on combat continues to increase, the necessity of ensuring those actions are distinctly recognized grows," DoD officials explained in a memo released Jan. 7, 2016.

The "R" device, which may be affixed to non-combat performance awards, was established to distinguish that an award was earned for direct hands-on employment of a weapon system that had a direct and immediate impact on a combat or military operation. These actions can be performed in any domain but must not expose the individual to personal hostile action, or place him or her at significant risk of exposure to hostile action while engaged in military operations against an enemy of the U.S.; or involved in a conflict against an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in military operations with an opposing armed force in which the U.S. is not an aggressive party.

"Airmen assigned to cyber operations and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operators would be examples of those eligible for the ‘R' device," said Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, the deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. "These members create direct combat effects that lead to strategic outcomes and deliver lethal force, while physically located outside the combat area."

The standardization of the "V" device as a valor-only device will ensure unambiguous and distinctive recognition of distinguished acts of combat heroism.

The new "C" device was created to distinctly recognize those servicemembers performing meritoriously under the most difficult combat conditions. To further emphasize the value placed on meritorious service under combat conditions, the "C" device may be affixed to several performance awards earned while serving under combat conditions. Unlike the "R" device, the "C" device may be authorized for sustained performance or service, provided the criteria of personal exposure to hostile action or significant risk of hostile action are met.

All devices may be awarded retroactive to Jan. 7, 2016, the day the Secretary of Defense established the devices.

For more information on Air Force recognition programs, visit myPers, the Air Force Personnel Services website, at https://myPers.af.mil.

June 22, 2017 at 3:22pm

MXG commander speaks at Lunch and Learn

Col. Anthony Clavenna, 62nd Maintenance Group commander, speaks at the Lunch and Leadership Lecture June 16 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Clavenna provided his personal thoughts on leadership and command. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

More than 50 airmen gathered at the McChord Club for this month's Lunch and Leadership series, June 16, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

This month, the Lunch and Learn session featured one of Team McChord's very own. Col. Anthony Clavenna, 62nd Maintenance Group commander, provided his personal thoughts on leadership and command.

"All I've got for you today is my thoughts on leadership," said Clavenna. "I am not an expert on leadership, but I will talk about some of my personal thoughts on what a good leader is and what it takes to be a good leader."

Before Clavenna gave his thoughts on leadership, he requested to be asked questions that he could answer during his lecture.

Throughout his lecture, Clavenna showed photos of people and events that happened throughout his career that helped him become the leader and mentor he is today.

Clavenna said to be a great leader, it is important to know and celebrate why you serve.

"One of the reasons I stand before you today is because of my dad," said Clavenna. "He was a Vietnam-era pilot and served twenty-three years. I grew up in an Air Force family and don't know if I would have joined the Air Force if it wasn't for him."

One airman in attendance wanted to know senior leaders' thoughts on helping airmen build resiliency.

"The way you build resiliency, you've got to keep your family balanced," said Clavenna. "No airman can serve if things aren't good at home. No family or relationship is perfect, you just have to find that happy medium and build on that. Maximizing your family time can help you stay resilient."

Another airman in attendance wanted to know what leadership was doing to help with retention.

"One way we can help retain airmen is to listen to what they are saying," said Clavenna. "We are all born with two ears and one mouth. If we as leaders would just take the time to listen to what our airmen have to say, their innovation and suggestions may be what it takes to make things better, ultimately making the unit a desirable work place."

Clavenna encouraged all leaders to get out there and work alongside their airmen.

"No matter what your career field is, you've got to get out there and work with your airmen for a couple reasons," said Clavenna. "One: You get to learn about the operations; two: You get to see the work environment first-hand; and three: Your airmen start to feel important because their leadership is out there working with them."

Clavenna closed out his lecture by thanking everyone for coming.

"Thank you to everyone for taking the time out of your busy schedule to listen to my thoughts on leadership," said Clavenna. "I really wanted this time together to be valuable for you."

To find out more information about future events, call the commander's action group at 253.982.7832.

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