Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: September, 2017 (14) Currently Viewing: 11 - 14 of 14

September 21, 2017 at 1:34pm

Air Force announces 100 percent promotion opportunity to major

In the latest move to restore the Air Force's readiness and lethality, senior leaders are taking a closer look at officer performance management with a focus on developing leaders and retaining the talented professionals the service needs.

Over the last year, Headquarters Air Force has conducted research and developed recommendations on a variety of officer performance management related tools, to include evaluations and promotions. The goal is to better identify talent, future potential and plan for current and anticipated officer shortages.

"There have been no major changes to the Officer Evaluation System in nearly thirty years, but there have been significant changes to our force composition, mission, requirements and how our performance system reflects what we value in officers," said Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, Air Force deputy chief of staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services.

"Although the system hasn't changed, challenges with agility, efficiency, consistency and transparency have been documented by research and in the field for over twenty years," said Maj. Mike Lupher, chief of Workforce Development for the Air Force Talent Management Innovation Cell. "We recognized we needed to do something about it and are taking a comprehensive approach to addressing these challenges."

Field Grade Officer Requirements and Promotion Opportunity

One of the immediate needs senior leaders focused on was the service's requirement for growing and developing enough field-grade officers to meet mission demands. At 92 percent, the Air Force is currently undermanned in Line of the Air Force field-grade officers, with non-rated field-grade officers manned at 74 percent.

As such, beginning December 2017, the pool of line officers considered for promotion to major will have a 100 percent promotion opportunity. Promotion opportunity rates are typically adjusted as required to meet the needs of the Air Force.

"With this change, captains whose conduct has been exemplary can expect to be promoted to major," said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. "We've been letting capable people leave the service and we need them."

Promotion Recommendation Forms will only be required for officers who receive a "Promote" recommendation and have derogatory information such as an Article 15, court-martial, referral report, or letter of reprimand filed in their Officer Selection Record, as well as for officers with a "Do Not Promote" recommendation.

"I fully trust raters and senior raters to continue to ensure the Air Force's high standards of conduct," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.

More information about the initiative is available on myPers.

‘One more swing of the axe'

Goldfein also characterized the move as "one more swing of the axe" for him and Secretary Wilson to increase the lethality and readiness of the force, while smartly reducing administrative burdens on squadron commanders.

"This change, along with many other initiatives, will help reinforce our trust and confidence in squadron leadership and their management of our talented airmen," Goldfein said.

Air Force officials said they will continue to review the research and recommendations on how to improve officer performance management, and will announce new initiatives once they're approved and ready for deliberate phased implementation.

Other talent management initiatives recently implemented by the Air Force as part of its broader effort to restore readiness and lethality include continuing to grow the force, reducing unnecessary administrative burdens on airmen, alleviating unneeded Air Force instructions, providing commanders more say in developmental education opportunities, tackling the pilot retention crisis and more acutely focusing on the needs of airmen at the squadron level to ensure they are fully prepared to accomplish their missions.

September 21, 2017 at 1:38pm

Team McChord airmen honor prisoners of war

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Yeomans, Air Force Sergeants Association president, gives a speech during the POW/MIA wreath laying ceremony Sept. 11 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Divine Cox

Team McChord airmen participated in POW/MIA week at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Sept. 11-15 honoring all prisoners of war and those missing in action through daily remembrance events.  

The week's events included a wreath laying ceremony, motorcycle ride, 24-hour run and remembrance luncheon.  

An annual tradition at JBLM, POW/MIA week brings together airmen from all over JBLM to honor, remember and commemorate the service and sacrifice of POWs and those MIA. This year, more than 400 airmen participated in the different events that were put on by more than 70 volunteers.  

The week kicked off Sept. 11 with a wreath laying ceremony at Memorial Grove Park on McChord Field. The laying of the wreath was to reflect on and remember those POWs and MIAs who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

"It's an absolute honor to remember these POWs," said Col. William Percival, 627th Air Base Group commander. "This is our heritage and this honors really who we are."      

The second event to take place during POW/MIA week was the POW/MIA Remembrance Ride Sept. 12 in Tacoma. More than 20 motorcyclists participated in the ride from Sprinker Park, Tacoma, to Orting Soldiers Home in Orting.    

One of the largest attended events was the POW/MIA Remembrance 24-hour run Sept. 13 through Sept. 14 at the McChord Field track.  

More than 300 airmen, soldiers and civilians ran continuous laps around the McChord Track from 8 a.m. Wednesday to 8 a.m. Thursday. A POW/MIA flag was carried by various participants throughout 24 hours. Participants ran a combined total of 14,159 laps and 3,540 miles.       

"This is a remarkable group of people here, that as busy as they are with the service they already bring to our nation each and every day, took this time to be so vigilant and honor POWs/MIAs," said Col. Reba Sonkiss, 62nd Airlift commander. "A hearty thank you to all the Team McChord folks who put this together and all of JBLM."  

The week concluded with a POW/MIA Remembrance Day Luncheon held on Sept. 15 at the McChord Field Club. The luncheon hosted 13 former POWs from World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam Conflict.  

The event's guest speaker was retired Maj. Joseph Crecca, former Vietnam War POW. Crecca told his story of being held captive as a POW for 2,280 days from November 1966 until his release in February 1973.  

"It is a great honor to host each of you," said Col. Percival. "It's truly an honor to dedicate ourselves to remembering your service and sacrifice."

September 21, 2017 at 1:41pm

AROWS change improves operational requirements

Beginning Oct. 1, a new data field will be added to the Air Reserve Orders Writing System that will be used primarily to track military personnel appropriation and other orders for operational requirements.

This new field will be called Air Reserve Component Operational Requirements Tracker, or ARCORT. The only orders required to have an ARCORT number will be the following Title 10 activations: full or partial mobilizations, presidential recalls, and voluntary (contingency and non-contingency) activations.

For these orders, the ARCORT number should be easy to find as it will be in the Manpower MPA Man-Day Management System, known as M4S, and generated on the Air Force Form 49, Application for MPA Man-Day Tour, when the orders are finalized. If in an email notification the ARCORT number is not included, air reserve component members can ask their orders-generating office for the form, and it will have it.

The number is part of the change to a mission or operational requirements focused way of documenting and resourcing air reserve component utilization for Air Force missions. This change is directed by a program guidance letter issued by the Air Force chief of staff to improve the service's visibility on operational requirements.

The new ARCORT data field for AROWS will link requirement documentation to requirement execution, providing the Air Force visibility over ARC operational utilization.

This shift to an operational requirements focused strategy for ARC utilization has been led by Maj. Gen. Vincent Mancuso, mobilization assistant to the Air Force chief of staff.

"Just like you might use the memo field on a personal check to create sub-totals of personal expenses, ARCORT will allow the director of operations to maintain visibility of the operational execution on various mission areas," Mancuso said.

"The intent of putting the ARCORT number in AROWS is to track all operational uses of ARC members, regardless of the type of man-day resource used," he said. "If you are performing duty on another type of order that qualifies as operational use, your unit's POC for the tasking or mission should be able to provide a specific ARCORT number. If you know the mission is an operational contribution and you don't know the ARCORT number, you can just put 9999999 in the ARCORT field."

Mancuso said the orderly room team member or commander's support staff team member who currently processes duty order requests in AROWS will usually have the responsibility of inputting the ARCORT number into AROWS.

"If you input your own orders details into AROWS, you will need to type the ARCORT for MPA and other select orders," he said.

Following are the answers to some common questions ARC members may have concerning the new AROWS data field:

So what is ARCORT?
ARCORT is a new information technology capability sponsored by the Air Force director of operations that provides visibility of all ARC operational requirements (including deployment requirements tracked in a global force management system). ARCORT is managed by a Total Force ARC Requirements Cell within the HQ USAF Operations Directorate.

So why do I need to put this additional information in AROWS?
The ARCORT field allows the Air Force director of operations to have far better visibility of the past, present and future operational contributions of the ARC. Just like people might use the memo field on a personal check to create sub-totals of personal expenses, ARCORT will allow the AF director of operations to maintain visibility of the operational execution in various mission areas.

What orders will be required to have an ARCORT number?
The only orders required to have an ARCORT number in fiscal year 2018 are the following Title 10 activations: full or partial mobilizations, presidential recalls, voluntary (contingency and non-contingency).

Are orders other than MPA required to have an ARCORT number?
Possibly. The intent of putting the ARCORT number in AROWS is to track all operational uses of ARC members, regardless of the type of man-day resource used (man-days, drills, AFTPs, etc.). If you are performing duty on another type of order that qualifies as operational use, your unit's POC for the tasking or mission should be able to provide a specific ARCORT number. If you know the mission is an operational contribution and you don't know the ARCORT number, you can just put 9999999 in the ARCORT field.

Who will input this number into AROWS?
For traditional reservists, it will usually be the orderly room team member or commander's support staff team member who currently processes duty orders requests in AROWS. If you input your own orders details into AROWS (individual mobilization augmentees, for instance), you will need to type the ARCORT for MPA and other select orders requiring an ARCORT number.

Where can I find the ARCORT number?
For an MPA order, the ARCORT number will be provided in the M4S authorization email message or generated on the E-form 49 in block 50. The list of ARCORT numbers associated with particular M4S numbers will be refreshed periodically and made available on ARC2Mission home page on the Air Force Portal.

If your duty order is funded by the ARC and will include the performance of operational mission tasks (e.g. flying a student sortie while on annual tour orders), the ARCORT number can be obtained via your MAJCOM, Defense Department agency or the Force Generation Center. Most orderly rooms will quickly know the ARCORT numbers for the common operational missions their units perform. There may be a bit of a learning curve in the first few months of implementation.

What if I don't have an ARCORT number for my mission and AROWS requires one?
For FY18, you can use "9999999" to ensure no delay in publishing your orders. "9999999" will serve as a flag for correction to the major command and the ARC Requirements Cell that can be fixed later.

Who can I contact for assistance?
The ARC Requirements Cell at AF/A3OD will assist you or your unit to resolve any problems you have getting the right ARCORT numbers for your AROWS orders.

Contact the ARC Requirements Cell at usaf.pentagon.af-cc.mbx.arc2-mission@mail.mil (email preferred) or at commercial 703.693.5133 or DSN 225-5133. The cell is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT.

September 28, 2017 at 11:10am

Air Force's humanitarian assignments

No single reason exists why a humanitarian reassignment or deferment might be approved. The Air Force’s Personnel Center views each request with compassion and empathy, giving it careful consideration. Photo credit: Kat Bailey

Today's American airmen do the impossible every day. They pursue their mission with excellence and integrity to become leaders and warriors, providing help to a world in need. However, even airmen need help at times, especially if an acute problem occurs with a family member.

The Humanitarian Reassignment and Deferment Program, run by the Air Force Personnel Center, assists active-duty airmen in resolving severe, short-term problems involving a family member while airmen continue to meet the needs of the Air Force.

"The spirit and intent of the program is to place the airman at the closest location to where the problem exists," said Kimberly Schuler, Humanitarian Assignment Policy chief. "Typically, a reassignment or deferment is a one-time action to resolve a critical problem with a family member within a reasonable period of time, normally twelve months."

The definition of "family member" for the Humanitarian Program is limited to spouse; child; parents, to include in-laws, and stepparents; person in loco parentis; or other persons actually residing in the household who are dependent on the airman for more than half of their financial support.

"We often get asked about siblings," Schuler said. "That's always a tough one because siblings aren't within the scope of the definition of ‘family member.' However, if the sibling is terminally ill, we'll look at the request as an exception to policy."

In a case that requires a long-term solution, an airman would have to look at other options, she said.

"The Humanitarian Program is a temporary solution to a short-term problem and the Air Force is unable to consider a permanent or prolonged deferment."

The comptroller general has ruled that the Air Force cannot make moves at government expense based solely on humanitarian reasons. The reassignment or deferment must be to meet Air Force mission needs in addition to helping the airman. Therefore, a valid vacancy must exist at the gaining base and the airman must meet retainability requirements for a permanent change of station.

Schuler's team in AFPC's Military Assignment Programs Branch, along with a team of six case managers in the Assignment Support Section and 11 Total Force Service Center Assignment technicians, processes approximately 1,000 requests annually to expedite assistance to airmen in need.

Humanitarian reassignment or deferment is not limited to a single reason. Circumstances can include the terminal illness of a family member, the death of an airman's spouse or child, the sexual assault of the airman's spouse or child, or issues involving a serious financial impact such as the loss of property through fire or natural disaster.

"The reason doesn't have to fit into a box," Schuler said.

In each situation, the AFPC Medical Review Board or the AFPC Administrative Law Office reviews requests for verification of clinical data submitted with an application or for the verification of legal documentation. Careful consideration goes into the adjudication of each request, as these airmen are normally in a crisis and deserve the most compassionate eyes possible on their situation.

"It's not just personnelists making the decision," Schuler said. "It's a whole system of checks and balances. The entire team looks at the whole-person concept. We look at each situation as if we were in that airman's shoes and view the circumstances with empathy and kindness."

Missing documentation can delay the process, which is normally about two to four weeks. Schuler said the more supporting documentation the airman can provide about every aspect of the situation, the better, as it paints a clearer picture of the scope of the problem. Burden of proof is on the member to prove that their situation is more than what an average airman is going through.

"Everyone has a tipping point, so we weigh everything -- everything -- happening in that airman's life to determine the best course of action," she said.

Currently, 2,916 airmen are directly benefiting from humanitarian assignments at bases across the Air Force. However, if the airman's application does not meet the threshold for an approval under the Humanitarian Program, the case managers take the extra step to research if the airman may be eligible for another alternative assignment option.

"Perhaps the airman can apply for a Base of Preference or a follow-on assignment," Schuler said. "Or maybe they don't meet the requirements right now, but if something changes, they can reapply. We try to manage their expectations and provide resources instead of just simply saying, ‘Denied.'"

Schuler's team is also working on improvements to the application process to make it more intuitive. Two efficiencies they would like to implement include a "delivery" status bar, visible to customers in the virtual Military Personnel Flight, and a defined set of statuses with detailed explanations of the application process.

To help airmen navigate those resources, Schuler's team hosts recurring webcasts on the Humanitarian Reassignment and Deferment Program. The next webinar for all airmen is scheduled for Sept. 27 at 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Central Daylight Time.

Additionally, airmen can chat with a personnel specialist live on myPers about the humanitarian program between the hours of 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT. To access the chat feature, click on the Humanitarian/EFMP link under "Assignment Programs" on the active-duty myPers Assignment landing page, hover the mouse cursor for 30 seconds and a chat window will appear.

For more information about Air Force personnel programs, visit myPers. Individuals who do not have a myPers account can request one by following the instructions on the Air Force's Personnel Center website.

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