Friday, August 26, 2011

TOP STORY >> Stepping stones to success: Starting out right

By Staff Sgt. Jacob Barreiro
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

(Editor’s note: this is the first in a series of articles that will provide young Airmen and supervisors with advice to make their careers in the military a success.)

All enlisted Air Force careers originate at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, at Basic Military Training. However, as soon as this initial training is done, service members diverge into many varied career paths. From the first day of basic training to the day of separation or retirement, every Airman has a singular career experience.

While every Airman’s experience is subjective and filled with separate personal goals, all of these goals usually relate to the desire for a successful career. To ensure that every Airman is offered the chance at a successful career, Air Force leaders encourage Airmen to take advantage of educational, retraining and special-duty opportunities. For many, that begins as early as their first days in the First Term Airman’s Center.

What commonly prevents Airmen from making their careers as successful as possible is procrastination and complacency, said Master Sgt. Shannon Wass, the base’s career assistance advisor.

“The majority of people who come to see me for retraining are second-term Airmen,” said Wass. “The problem with that is most first-term Airmen don’t understand how the Career Airman Reenlistment Reservation System window works. It is the only time in their career that they can put in for a retraining or base of preference where manning … has nothing to do with it. If they don’t do it during their CAREERS window, then they lose that opportunity.”

The CAREERS window is a nine-month time frame in which first-term Airmen may apply to retrain to any job or for a base of preference of their choice, said Wass. The window for four-year enlistees is from 35-43 months and the window for six-year enlistees is from 59-67 months. Airmen seeking either a new job or a permanent change of station have the best opportunity to obtain these during these windows.

Applying for retraining as a second-term Airmen involves a lot of variables, said Wass. The only way Airmen retrain beyond their CAREERS window is if they are willing to cross train to a job that is more critically undermanned than their current job.

Taking advantage of retraining opportunities and BOP applications are ways for service members to steer their careers toward success, but the Air Force provides more opportunities to people beyond their CAREERS window, the base career assistance advisor said.

The Air Force needs people to take on special duties and volunteer for short tours, said Wass. It benefits both the Air Force and the member, and one of the best ways to get a BOP is to volunteer for a short tour.

Working at the right job and being stationed at the right base has a lot to do with career success, but there are other factors involved such as finding a mentor and taking advantage of educational opportunities, said Wass.

“Most successful people tend to find a mentor early on in their career,” said Wass. Mentors can encourage Airmen to take advantage of educational opportunities or to get proactive on the base by joining professional organizations, she added.

Being proactive is the most important part of having a successful career, said Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Inskeep, 19th Maintenance Group superintendent. Successful people always have to be willing to try something new.

“It’s important for people to get outside their comfort zone,” said the chief. “Try something different.

Whether it is a retrain or a special duty, it is good to do something else that will broaden your breadth of experience and give you a little better picture of what the Air Force is all about.”

In addition to staying inside their comfort zone, not taking advantage of educational opportunities is a common pitfall that prevents Airmen from having more successful careers, the chief said.

“The biggest pitfall I’ve seen is people not getting their education quickly enough,” he said. “You want your … education done as soon as possible. So that when you’re ready to promote then you don’t have to focus on that. You can focus on being a part of private organizations or leadership.”

Becoming involved in agencies and professional organizations helps Airmen establish rapport with their peers as well as making them visible to their leaders, said Wass.

“Visibility is important,” said the chief. “Being involved in professional organizations is important. It can be anything, even as small as a squadron booster club … when people see you involved that can help them advocate for you for stratifications or below the zone, to name a few things.”

Staying visible and establishing contacts through professional organizations is paramount to having the most successful career possible, said Wass. However, Airmen should stay educated on the benefits and courses of action available for them during their career.

“That’s why we do the mandatory informed decision briefing,” the career assistance advisor said. “I want them to know about their entire benefits package and what’s available to them in the service.”

Staying educated on Air Force benefits is important, but Inskeep said it is up to the individual to make the most of their opportunities in order to have the most fulfilling career possible. “Get educated, get out of your comfort zone and don’t let anyone stand in your way and do everything that you can to achieve,” the chief said.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

TOP STORY > >Building partnerships through training

By Airman 1st Class Regina Agoha
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The mission of the Air Force expands throughout the globe. There are Airmen in many different countries fighting for the same purpose – prosperity of the future. Though there may be a language barrier or diverse cultures, though the uniforms may be slightly different, one thing remains true. “United we stand; divided we fall.”

In order to fight as one and speak as one, international allies train together to increase understanding and open the door for coalitions. At Little Rock Air Force Base, international air force military students from all over the world come here for training.

When international air force military personnel train with Team Little Rock Airmen, these students receive the same training that a U.S. student gets, said Maj. Brian Wester, 714th training squadron international military student office flight commander.

One of the training objectives is to expose the students to the local and U.S. culture as much as possible while they are here, Wester said. “That’s why we have the students come here and train, rather than send a mobile training team there. We really encourage that they send their students here. It’s part of building that partnership with other countries,” he said.

While here, the students are trained in areas such as maintenance personnel, air crew, all positions with the C-130 air crew and other familiarization courses.

“We do not pick the students and we have no control over who comes to train, so rank does not matter,” said Wester. “There can be an E-1 here training as well as an O-10.”

“This training program has been going on for years. We have records dating back to 2000, but the program has really grown in the last three years,” said Wester. “If you look back in 2000, we averaged about 15 students per year, and now we average about 250 students or more per year. It has really grown due to the J model program because a lot of countries are procuring those right now and they want to send their students here to train.”

Depending on what area the students are being trained in, they could be here from as little as two weeks, up to six months.

Regardless of the length of time that the students are here, they are always eager to learn and take as much as they can from us, said Wester.

During those weeks or months, the students go through a field studies program. The field studies program is funded quarterly by Air Force Security Assistance Training. This program aides in the culture awareness aspect of training.

“We take them out on local trips to places like the Clinton Library and other cultural icons around Little Rock. We also do an extended trip to Memphis for a weekend, and we try to get every student to go. We go to several museums including the Civil Rights Museum,” said Wester. “That’s the benefit of having the students come here. They can experience our culture for themselves.”

Working and training together helps countries that are different operate the same, said Tech Sgt. Timothy Geiger, 714th TRS international military student officer NCO-in-charge.

“We work as a coalition, so we can train in the same way, and everyone can speak the same language,” said Geiger.

While the students are here it’s good that they see how this base operates, and hopefully they take their observations back home with them, said Geiger.

“We are building partnerships. We’ve just seen India come through for the first time ever, so there’s a new partner,” Wester said.

Along with India, countries such as Poland and Nigeria are among the 42 that’s been trained here at Little Rock throughout the lifespan of this program. Out of the 42, 14 of those countries have trained here since July 2010.

“Not only do the students learn from us, but they leave bits and pieces of their culture with us and their instructors as well, and we learn from them too,” said Geiger.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

COMMENTARY>>In pursuit of excellence

By Maj. Justin Barry
314th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander

Excellence ... What is it? We all know excellence is one of our Air Force Core Values—Integrity first; Service before self; and, Excellence in all we do. We know that our brothers and sisters in the 19th Airlift Wing will be striving to demonstrate their excellence in the upcoming Logistics Compliance Assessment Program and Operational Readiness Inspections. Certainly, I would say that our RODEO competition teams from the 314th Airlift Wing were excellent in their performance as they garnered awards for the Best Overall Maintenance Team; Best C-130 Maintenance Team; Maintenance Skills Competition Award (as both the best C-130 competitors and the overall winners); Best Overall Aircrew Team; Best Airdrop Score; and Best C-130 Wing. The dominance of the skies engendered by the Air Force, as demonstrated through the fact that no American ground troop has been attacked by an enemy aircraft since the Korean War is truly excellent. Absolutely, all of this is indicative of the “Excellence” we pursue, but still does not define what excellence is.

I was speaking with one of my Airmen recently, who was concerned that they might not be attaining the level of excellence demanded by our profession. They were concerned that in trying to balance the needs of their personal and family commitments against the requirements of the military, that they might not be able to achieve “Excellence in all we do;” that they might not be able to succeed in every facet of their personal and professional life.

I took our discussion as an opportunity to provide some clarifying feedback on my expectations of personnel in the squadron and the requirements of our military profession. I also was privileged to gain greater insight into the family demands and personal aspirations of my troop. I additionally was presented an opportunity to reflect on and clarify my own beliefs regarding what “Excellence” truly means.

Excellence—true excellence—cannot be fully measured by how many trophies or medals one wins. Not everyone will or can win a gold medal in the Olympics or is awarded a Nobel Prize. Failure in any given endeavor does not necessarily relegate one to mediocrity.

Aristotle is often quoted as saying, “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather we have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” From this, one can infer that excellence is actually found in the pursuit of excellence rather than attainment of individual goals.

American poet, Robert Silliman Hillyer once said, “Perfectionism is a dangerous state of mind in an imperfect world. The best way (forward) is to forget doubts and set about the task in hand . . . If you are doing your best, you will not have time to worry about failure.” This I believe is where one finds excellence. If, in pursuit of excellence, one sets aside doubts and dedicates themselves to giving the very best effort possible, in the end they can experience “Excellence in all we do.” This, in my mind is what defines excellence and I am proud to see it every day in so many of those I work with.

Remember that excellence is found in its pursuit. Thank you for all you do in support and defense of our great nation.

TOP STORY > >AETC commander, command chief visit Little Rock

By Staff Sgt. Jacob Barreiro
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The leaders and members of Team Little Rock hosted the Air Education and Training Command commander and command chief here Aug. 10 – 12, as they toured the 314th Airlift Wing.

Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr. along with Chief Master Sgt. James A. Cody, held an all-call at the base theater, where the commander expressed his pleasure with the wing’s accomplishments and operations.

“I know firsthand what kind of professionals you have here and what a professional course of instruction you all are a part of here,” said Rice. “I very much appreciate what you do every day for our Airmen and how much of an impact it has on not only AETC but also the entire Air Force with the quality of the Airmen, officers and enlisted, who come through here.”

The general said he was pleased with the quality of Airmen coming out of AETC, but he stressed service members to not lose focus on their No. 1 priority, which is to produce high quality Airmen ready to accomplish the mission.

“I say that because it is easy to get distracted,” he said. “You can easily get pulled off targethere. Each one of us has a very important job to do, and we can’t be distracted.”

It’s a leader’s duty to ensure their subordinates have the resources to complete the job; and the AETC commander also said luxuries may have to be sacrificed in the future.

“We are always going to have the resources that we must have to do the job,” he said. “What we won’t have in the future is the resources to do some of the things we might like to do.”

While the general stressed the need to accept change in the future and anticipate sacrificing wants for needs, the command chief spoke to Airmen about the importance of staying socially connected to subordinates, peers and leaders.

“We are becoming more socially disconnected as people than we have ever been,” Cody said. “We, as an Air Force family, need to work harder at that. We have to take the time to get to know each other in a way to be connected.”

The chief said people taking the time to reach out and know those around them could mean the difference between success and failure.

“We have to be mission-focused, but if we have people that can’t be focused … and we don’t recognize that because we don’t know enough about them, we’re going to have mission failure.” said the chief.

Spending time with others is the key, said the chief. By taking a little time and talking to their fellow Airmen, face to face, service members can easily catch preventable mishaps early on.

“Our greatest strength sits here in this room: you as individuals.” said the chief. “We need to care about each other as people and not just as a means to an end.”

While the all-call allowed the leaders to communicate their vision to the audience, a question-and-answer session provided them a chance to receive feedback directly from base Airmen. Several questions were asked covering a myriad of challenges the Air Force will be facing in the future.

On rumors in the press concerning changes to the military retirement system, Cody said service members need to keep things in perspective and be keen to distinguish rumors from facts.

“I wouldn’t get too worked up about it because nothing you’ve read so far is official,” Cody said. “There is no official position on this yet. There is lots of discussion on what it looks like in the future. I think we all have to have faith that it’s something that we can live with. It may be different, as things are different today than they were 20 years ago, but that doesn’t mean that it’ll be bad.”

The general added that it is of the utmost concern to the Air Force to duly compensate their volunteer members.

“We have an all volunteer military,” Rice said. “It’s essential to the security of the nation. We are always going to have, in my mind, a total compensation package: pay, leave for 30 days, medical benefits, dental benefits, educational benefits, and yes, a retirement system, and the combination of all that is going to be such that we can attract the quality of people that we have in this room.”

While taking care of service members is the No. 1 priority for the Air Force, one thing that needs to be remembered in the midst of all the upcoming challenges is service before self, said the general. All service members will have to make sacrifices. Yet, in the midst of sacrifices, he stressed that the standard for quality of life won’t change, and neither will the overall goal of the United States Air Force.

“At the end of this we are still going to be the most capable Air Force and the most envied Air Force in the world,” the AETC commander said.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

TOP STORY > >ABC’s of back to school safety

By: Airman 1st Class Regina Agoha
19 Airlift Wing Public Affairs

August marks the start of the end of summer for school-aged children. Parents and those who drive past Arnold Drive Elementary and the newly opening Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter School Flightline Upper Academy, are to be mindful that Monday, school begins and road rules for child safety will be strongly enforced.

Cefus Benner, 19th Security Forces Squadron police services, said that most of the road rules will be the same for both schools.

School zone safety lights will begin flashing promptly the first day of school near Arnold Drive Elementary from 7:25 - 8:15 a.m., and it will start again 2:30 - 3:15 p.m. for school dismissal, Benner said.

“Only traffic coming westbound on Arnold Drive can turn directly into Arnold Drive Elementary school parking lot for picking up or dropping off students,” he said. There are signs posted to inform drivers that no left turns between school hours are allowed.

Evan McGrew, principal of JCLS Flightline Upper Academy, said although school zone lights will soon be in place, it will not be on the first day of school, but SFS Airmen will be on Arnold Drive monitoring speed.

There is a 15-mph speed zone near the school, and there is no tolerance in that area for speeding, Benner said. SFS Airmen will be there to strictly enforce it, and they will catch those exceeding the speed limit, even by one mph, he said. To help deter speeding, a speeding cart will be placed near the school for drivers to monitor their own speed, said Benner. Once the flashing lights turn off, the speed limit is back to its normal 35 mph.

For the Flightline Upper Academy, drivers can turn into the school from any direction, said McGrew. School begins at 7:15 a.m. and is dismissed at 3:45 p.m. For morning drop off, drivers on Arnold Drive should turn on Cannon Circle intothe one-way entrance of the school and leave through the exit past Razorback Inn, he said.

Fifth and sixth graders at the Flightline Upper Academy will be picked up by in the same manner they were dropped off. Seventh and eighth graders will be picked up from the back of the school to ease the flow of traffic during pick-up hours, said McGrew. For safety, homeroom teachers will be with the scholars until they are all picked up and traffic will be directed, as well.

Benner said there is a crosswalk near Arnold Drive Elementary, and there will be a crossing guard there dressed in a reflective vest and holding a stop sign to control the flow of traffic.

Scholars who will be walking to the Flightline Upper Academy in the mornings and after school are advised to use the sidewalk in order to get to school safely, said McGrew.

Benner said drivers need to adhere to the crossing guard and slow down as well as be extra observant of their surroundings while in the school zones because children may disregard the cross walks and run into the street.

“Children are our future, and nothing affects a community worse than to lose a child. You can not be in that big of a hurry to where slowing down to 15 mph for 200 yards is going to kill you. If you are in that much of a hurry, then you need to leave earlier. The biggest issue of course, is the child’s safety,” said Benner.

Arnold Drive Elementary and JCLS Flightline Upper Academy are both public schools. Arnold Drive Elementary teaches students from kindergarten to fifth grade. JCLS Flightline Upper Academy educates fifth to eighth graders.

The new JCLS Flightline Upper Academy is a publicly funded charter school that operates outside of the control of a local school district but is still held to the state’s academic standards by the state’s board of education.

School crossing guards are needed at Arnold Drive Elementary from 2:30 - 3 p.m. To volunteer, call Julia Noe, Airman and Family Readiness Center community readiness consultant, at 987-6801.

TOP STORY > >Little Rock AFB to consider VanPool Program

It’s a well-known fact that Americans love their cars. However, as the burden of economic instability spreads throughout the nation and gas prices continue to fluctuate, commuters have been finding alternatives to sitting behind the wheel. More people are realizing instead of driving to work on their own, they might do better to share a ride with other from their area.

There is no confirmed date when the first VanPool on Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. will begin, but briefings are tentatively scheduled for those who are interested to learn more about the program. A projected number of participants are needed in order to start up a new VanPool. However, once this number has been established, the process from start to finish could be as short as 30-60 days.

On April 21, 2000, Executive Order 13150 was signed, which implemented a transit benefit for federal employees. This transit benefit provides a tax-free monthly benefit of up to $230 for personnel in their local commute, including from residence to permanent duty station or work-place utilizing VanPools or commuter buses. Registration is required through the program point of contact and fare media (vouchers), which are provided to participants.

Not all riders in the VanPool must be federal employees. However, non-federal VanPool members are not eligible for the Federal Transit Benefit, and would pay the same fare as all other van pool participants. They may check with their human resources department directly for availability of this benefit.

A representative from VanPool Service Inc., a Commuter Transportation Company that operates nationwide, will be available at Little Rock AFB at the following time and location to explain the month-to-month turnkey vanpool program and public transportation benefit program procedure. VanPool basics can be found at

Wednesday at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m.

Thursday at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

All briefings are scheduled to be held at the base theater.

For more information about e-mail Lynn Shaw, Base Program POC at

Thursday, August 4, 2011

COMMENTARY>>Mutual Respect: The Power of ‘Aloha’

By Lt. Col. Mike Honma
48th Airlift Squadron commander

Here on the mainland, most people know the word “aloha” as a simple Hawaiian greeting to mean both ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye.’ However, the purest definition of aloha, itself, is unconditional love, free of prejudice or discrimination.

It involves an honest and proactive expression of faith, trust and acceptance given with nothing but good intent. Within the framework of the work environment, it can be interpreted as sincere mutual respect.

Like any organization, our ability to effectively function as a unit hinges on a unified belief that every member brings all their talents, efforts and good will to ensure mission success. Effective teamwork, synergy and morale are directly correlated to each member’s positive perceived value by others in the organization. This mutual respect, or lack thereof, can mean the difference between long-term success or cascading failure.

Helen Keller once wrote, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt within the heart.” The “aloha spirit” cannot be achieved with laws or regulations. Someone cannot be forced to respect another to achieve the desired effect. It cannot be feigned. Sincerity is not derived from words or gestures, but from feelings. Over time, an individual’s honest agenda reveals itself in the heart of those around them.

Leaders at every level must foster a culture where mutual respect is understood and practiced freely by the entire organization. It must be internalized, demonstrated and promoted by leaders, both on and off duty. It must be patiently nurtured like a diverse vegetable garden, each different species truly accepted, valued for its distinctive characteristics and personally cultivated daily. Each unit member must take personal responsibility to aggressively eliminate caustic and self-centered beliefs and behaviors that quickly spread like weeds and undermine an organization’s teamwork and cohesiveness.

Most importantly, every member must want to achieve aloha in their unit. Good intent cannot be a part-time belief. Kindness, caring, and respect does not necessarily exist in the absence of apathy. Mutual respect can only come with true honesty. It’s felt by the giver, conveyed through concerned eyes or an infectious smile, and embraced by the receiver.

Such feelings and actions are what define how others see us and the organization which accepts each individual as a valued team member. This is the catalyst that promotes mutual support between team players, fostering an atmosphere of total commitment to mission objectives. According to Maya Angelou, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Take time every day to embody the true meaning of aloha and inspire others to do the same. That is how we truly take care of the mission and our people. Don’t wait for others to demonstrate mutual respect – show them how.

TOP STORY > >314th AW wrangles six RODEO trophies

By Staff Sgt. Nestor Cruz
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Team Little Rock had another reason to wave their hats in the air and shout “Yee haw!” when members of the 314th Airlift Wing’s RODEO 2011 team came home Saturday with six trophies garnered from the Air Mobility RODEO competition held at McChord Field, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Maintainers and flyers from the team lassoed up the Best C-130 Maintenance Team award, Best Maintenance Skills Team award, Best C-130 Maintenance Skills Team award, Bets C-130 Aircrew (C-130E) award, Best C-130 Air Drop Team (C-130E) award and Best C-130 Wing.

“It felt awesome,” said Maj. Jacob Sheddan, 62nd Airlift Squadron assistant director of operations and 314th Airlift Wing RODEO 2011 team chief, speaking about the moment the awards were announced during the awards ceremony. “This is not only a 314th AW win, it’s also a 19th Airlift Wing and Team Little Rock win.”

Sheddan said winning the RODEO awards would not have been possible without the strong partnership between the two wings and the local community.

“We have a fantastic support structure here with the partner relationships that we’ve got with the 19th AW,” said Sheddan. “There are a couple of people on the 19th side I will thank profusely and personally for their work behind the scenes in order to make sure we got what we needed when we needed it, and also to the Airpower Arkansas committee and our local civic leaders. We couldn’t have done it without the 19th AW and we certainly couldn’t have done it without the community involvement we have, which is absolutely fantastic.”

Wing leaders share that same sentiment, giving credit to both team members and their partners.

“We know how much we rely on our partners in the 19th AW. The Black Knights provide us with A-1 support,” said Col. Mark Czelusta, 314th AW commander. “We could not be successful without support across the entire spectrum of organizations that help us meet our mission from operations support to the maintenance backshops.

“This team was a very special team from both the Legacy and J-model formal training units and aircraft maintenance units,” Colonel Czelusta added. “I am humbled to serve with such great Airmen. Our nation deserves them and every day I consider myself the luckiest commander alive.”

Team members discovered that winning at the RODEO proved to be as challenging as a real-world mission.

“As with any operation or exercise, you’re gonna have some hiccups,” said Sheddan. “One of the issues that we had was a maintenance issue on an aircraft … and calling to reschedule our airdrop because we certainly didn’t want to take zero points. So making sure that the part arrived on time and resetting the aircrew was like building a house of cards.”

Sheddan said he relied on instincts to gauge his team’s standing as the competition progressed.

“We read the reaction of the judges we had with us in order to gauge our performance,” said Sheddan. “We know many of the other teams there because we’ve either been stationed with them, taught them or deployed with them at one point. So we tried to chitchat with each other, but the other teams were trying to be nonchalant in discussions of how they were doing, so we had to go with our gut instinct.

“We had good indications from the judges and our co-competitors,” he added. “The morning of the awards day, when we got the airdrop [award] then the aircrew award, that certainly led us down the road that we were going to be earning the best C-130 wing [award], the General Joe W. Kelly Trophy.”

Following the awards ceremony, Sheddan said he was congratulated by his wing commander.

“Colonel Czelusta congratulated me for an awesome job of getting the team together and making sure they had what they needed [to succeed],” said Sheddan. “[Colonel Czelusta] told me ‘Jake, you nailed it.’”