Thursday, October 25, 2012

COMMENTARY>>Observe, orient, decide, act

By Lt. Col. Toby Sernel
19th Operations Group, Deputy Commander

Several decades ago, the great Airpower strategist Colonel (retired) John Boyd developed the “OODA loop”–observe, orient, decide, act–as a continuous feedback mechanism focused on obtaining positive results. The most common example of the OODA loop at the tactical level would be the means by which a fighter pilot maneuvers in reaction to an enemy aircraft in order to shoot it down. However, we can apply feedback mechanisms such as the OODA loop much further than just combat operations.

All of us routinely apply feedback in our everyday lives. If I recognize that I’m driving too fast, I take my foot off of the accelerator or apply the brake. A football coach must adjust the offense when the playbook fails to result in touchdowns against the Crimson Tide. I would assert that we all use some sort of feedback process for every function of our daily routines. I would also say that we are good at feedback because it is a personal survival function. We wouldn’t be here today if we were not masters of feedback, especially the routine, informal types of feedback. We receive, provide, and process informal feedback every day on both the personal and interpersonal levels.

We consistently use feedback in our Air Force lives in the accomplishment of our unit mission, whether we are accomplishing everyday tasks, providing training, preparing for deployments, or career counseling. The list of tasks a unit must accomplish in order to stay healthy and maintain good order and discipline seems endless: fitness assessments, records management, PIMR, EPRs, PRFs, mentoring, career counseling, performance feedback, training requirements, just to name a few. Mentorship has been and remains a primary aspect of leadership. One important facet of mentorship is performance feedback. Performance feedback is very easy to overlook simply because there are not many controls over it. If you are lucky, you get a feedback notice from the personnel system requiring raters and ratees to document that a feedback session has been accomplished. And, of course, there is that date that we must put on performance reports documenting that the performance feedback sessions have been accomplished. Unfortunately, there is no oversight to ensure that leaders are providing effective performance feedback. Inspector general teams will not come to your unit and observe the quality of these sessions, and therefore it’s easy to let performance feedback to go the wayside. Fortunately, however, the Air Force has a formal performance feedback process to ensure that Airmen receive this form of mentorship. I would assess that we, as Airmen, are very good at providing routine, informal feedback ... “Lieutenant, you really screwed up that report” or “Airman, your uniform is a mess.” Formal performance feedback, on the other hand, requires raters to apply significant forethought and effort in order to be effective.

Air Force Instruction 36-2406, “Officer and Enlisted Evaluation Systems,” makes performance feedback easy. This AFI describes performance feedback as “private, formal communication” between a rater and a ratee to define duty performance expectations and to provide feedback on how well the ratee is meeting those expectations. Performance feedback is the responsibility of the rater, the ratee, the rater’s rater, and, ultimately, unit commanders. Essentially, performance feedback is everyone’s responsibility. Initial feedback sessions provide a great opportunity to establish expectations and provide career counseling. Midterm or follow-up feedback sessions provide the time to provide “course corrections” and guidance on how to improve performance well before a performance report closes. If you are not familiar with Chapter 2 of AFI 36-2406, I would recommend you take a few minutes to refresh yourself on these essential requirements.

Leaders, and I include every member of the Air Force as a leader, please make the most of performance feedback. If Airmen are truly our most precious commodity, they deserve our best efforts at constructive and effective performance feedback. The performance feedback OODA loop can provide positive results in our Airmen, which creates improved combat capability for the Air Force and our great nation.

TOP STORY>>Jean and Janet: Surviving breast cancer at Little Rock Air Force Base

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

Oct. 20, 2012, at approximately 6:25 a.m. in North Little Rock, Laura Jean Gayles, also known as, “Momma Jena,” and Janet Foster, are bright-eyed, smiling and dressed almost completely in pink. Though they are surrounded by thousands of strangers, they said they feel at home. As the countdown begins, ten… nine… eight… massive cheers spread throughout the crowd like wildfire in a forest.

Go! And they’re off. The mass of people cross the starting line and walk. Though their experiences may have been different, everyone there had one common purpose, to walk/jog/run for a cure for breast cancer. Team Little Rock Members, Gayles and Foster, both breast cancer survivors, have participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure every year since defeating their battles with breast cancer and urge everyone to start monthly self-exams.

In 2001, 72-year-old Gayles, child program assistant at one of the two Child Development Centers on Little Rock Air Force Base, said she was devastated when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. For six weeks she endured radiation, but throughout her treatment, she never stopped working and always kept going.

“I am so thankful for the medicine, doctors, nurses, the ladies at the center and just the everyday people in my life that helped me through it,” she said. “My husband was my backbone all the way through everything.”

After her radiation was complete Gayles’ cancer was gone.

“Words can’t explain how I felt,” she said. “I was overjoyed.”

Though Gayles has been a survivor for 11 years, she still has to do regular annual checkups with her oncologist and her surgeon. Since her devastating diagnosis in 2001, Gayles said she makes sure she does her self-exams and encourages others to do the same, especially if there’s any type of cancer history in their family.

Janet Foster, a child program assistant and also a breast cancer survivor, said self-exams are very important.

“I didn’t have the normal signs of breast cancer,” said Foster. “No lumps. No abnormalities. If I hadn’t gone in to get a mammogram, it would have been too late for me because my cancer was so aggressive. From the time I got the mammogram and the test to see if the lump was cancerous to the time of the surgery, which was three months, my cancer had already started spreading. I did the self-exams, but it was in the milk ducts. So, I felt no lump.”

Foster was diagnosed two years ago in April. At the time of her diagnosis she said she wasscared because her cancer was aggressive. She had to do six treatments of chemotherapy, one every two weeks and radiation therapy once a week for six weeks. She was able to come to work during only four treatments, but the treatments eventually became too difficult, and she had to stay home.

“Gayles was there for me every step of the way,” said Foster. “With her having gone through this nine years earlier, she knew exactly what I needed. She brought me everything I would need for the chemo. It’s nice to have someone there who knows what you’re going through. She’s like a mother to me.”

In March, after almost one year after Foster’s diagnosis, she became cancer free.

“I celebrated when I found out,” she said. “I was so excited.”

Since Foster’s diagnosis, she said her life has changed because if she finds out someone is going through cancer and needs help, she’s there.

“I didn’t know what people go through until I went through it myself,” she said. “I want people to know that they’re not alone.”

For 11 years now, Gayles gets a team together to be a part of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. They both said they walk to remember what they went through and to meet others who’ve been through the same or are going through the same.

“The walk is like a celebration,” said Foster. “It keeps you aware of what you’ve been through. You talk to other people and share stories. That’s how you deal with cancer… with other people. I’ve been walking for two years.”

For those men and women who haven’t been doing their monthly self-exams, Gayles and Foster urge everyone to start.

“It is critical,” said Foster. “You need to get the checkups. Do your self-checks once a month, but also get mammograms once a year because there’s not always a lump.”

“Please try and do it,” said Gayles. “Get to know someone who can help you understand the importance of knowing what’s going on in your body. It could be the difference between life and death.”

TOP STORY>>Retirement application window gets extension

By Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) — Air Force Personnel Center officials have extended the window for eligible active-duty Airmen to submit their retirement or separation applications. Airmen who are eligible and would like to apply early to retire or separate on Dec. 1, 2013, Jan. 1, 2014, or Feb. 1, 2014, are authorized to complete these personnel actions through the myPers website and their base military personnel sections immediately.

This opportunity expires on Nov. 16 and applies to members in the ranks of second lieutenant to lieutenant colonel for officers and airman basic to senior master sergeant for enlisted Airmen.

“By extending the application window for voluntary retirements and separations beyond the normal 12 months, Airmen will have an approved date of separation prior to MilPDS being offline in December,” said Lt. Col. Tara White, AFPC retirements and separations branch chief.

Airmen will notice minimal processing delays if they initiate their retirement or separation paperwork before Nov. 16. Base MPSs will also have a reduced backlog of transactions to process after the Military Personnel Data System upgrade is completed. Airmen who intend to voluntarily separate or retire can have their approved dates of separation updated and potentially avoid being selected for a deployment or assignment. The Air Force processes about 12,000 retirements and 23,000 separations annually.

Airmen need to accomplish these actions because the Air Force is upgrading and transferring the MilPDS to the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Defense Enterprise Computing Center in December. The upgrade project is scheduled to take about 23 days to complete, during which time, MilPDS will not be available.

MilPDS is the primary records database for personnel data and actions that occur throughout every total force Airman’s career. MilPDS is also used to initiate Airman pay actions, maintain Air Force accountability and strength data and support a host of interactions with other Air Force processes and systems that rely on personnel data.

Reserve and Guard members will receive specific instructions from the Air Force Reserve Command and Air Reserve Personnel Center concerning how the MilPDS upgrade will impact their personnel programs. More information is available on the ARPC public website at http://www.arpc.afrc.af.mil.

Officials will continue to release additional information and guidance to the Air Force’s manpower, personnel, services and pay communities and total force Airmen to continue to educate them on how the service will perform critical personnel and pay tasks during the MilPDS upgrade.

For more information about the MilPDS upgrade, visit the myPers website at http://mypers.af.mil.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

COMMENTAY>>First things first: Get your degrees in order

By Chief Master Sgt. David Brinkley
451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) — In 1972 the Community College of the Air Force was established by the Air Force Chief of Staff, General John D. Ryan.

Four years later, President Gerald Ford authorized the Air Force, by law, to confer the associate degree. The CCAF was accredited in the start of 1977 and by the spring of that same year it awarded its first Associates of Applied Science degree.

This year the CCAF is expected to award the 400,000th AAS degree since the college’s establishment. This is milestone stands as an impressive achievement for the college and a testament to the character of the men and women who make up our enlisted corps.

Unfortunately, some view the CCAF as a degree mill and discount the value of the degree.

Frankly, the investments toward the professional development of our own Airmen can’t be matched by any corporation or any other service - it’s foolish to undermine the efforts of nearly half a million Airmen.

Our enlisted corps is a highly-motivated, well-educated force, and the numbers back it up.

According to official records as of this month, within 412,000 Airmen serving in the Air Force you will find 77,343 with associate degrees, 29,487 with a bachelor’s, 5,090 master’s degrees, and 88 who have reached the highest academic levels and have earned a doctorate or professional degree.

As we continue to challenge our enlisted corps to chase educational goals, they will continue to reach more educational milestones; however for some the accomplishment of their AAS through the CCAF takes a backseat as they pursue their own interests. As a result, these well-meaning Airmen have their educational goals operating in reverse.

How do we keep them focused on the importance of completing their CCAF first?

From personal experience, I’ve reviewed countless Enlisted Performance Reports and award nominations that highlight a member’s progress towards a baccalaureate degree. At first glance this looks great, balancing school and work isn’t easy but upon further review many have not completed their CCAF degree.

This tells me the member is more focused on their personal goals than taking care of the Air Force’s fundamental educational expectations. Some leaders offer guidance and encourage their subordinates to transfer their baccalaureate degree courses to CCAF so they get credit. But again, this is another step that reinforces the notion that the CCAF should be an afterthought and not at the forefront.

As enlisted leaders we are charged to deliberately develop our force. In the realm of education we must focus our subordinates on the importance of attaining their CCAF degree first.

This starts with properly approaching Career Development Courses with the right attitude. Upon completion of CDCs and in conjunction with on-the-job and up-grade training, members receive college credits; remind your Airmen they are in fact completing college level courses through their CDCs.

It is customary to prohibit members in UGT or who are enrolled in CDCs to simultaneously be enrolled in off-duty civilian education. We advise our Airmen that when their CDCs and UGT are complete they can then take college courses. This guidance is misleading. We should be telling our Airmen that because of the CCAF and their CDCs they are already enrolled in college and taking college courses.

We have a tendency to reward our Airmen for CDC completion by allowing them to pursue their bachelor’sdegree. Instead, we should continue to mentor our Airmen and keep them focused on their AAS. Once the first part of their education (CDC, OJT/UGT) is completed we can focus them on the other approximately 16 semester hours of classes they need for completion of their CCAF degree. Typically Airmen will enroll in be a bachelor’s degree plan to further their educational goals; however, the focus should be on accomplishing the CCAF degree requirements rather than pursue an advanced degree from the beginning.

An Airman would be much better served if their advancement toward a BA or BS degree would be the by-product of their pursuit toward the AAS through the CCAF not vice versa. We need to remind our Airmen why CCAF accomplishment is important.

Some will say that CCAF completion is important because without it a member hurts their promotion potential; but leaders need to look at the bigger picture.

Individuals may only participate in CCAF degree programs designed for their Air Force occupation. Why is this? The US Air Force is the best at developing its workforce for current and future leadership and technical challenges. The 64 degree programs offered through CCAF are specifically created and tailored to address technical and leadership issues a member will encounter in their specialty. Nearly every profession requires its members to complete some type of education or certification. Our profession of arms is no different.

Completion of a CCAF degree helps members progress from apprentice to journeyman and onto craftsman in their trade. Of the 64 credit hours required for the CCAF AAS, 24 are in the technical education area. These 24 hours are accomplished through Technical School, OJT, UGT and the CDCs. The Air Force views the AAS as the first important step in the development of our junior enlisted corps, a step that can’t be substituted with civilian academic degrees. Once Airmen complete this first and critical obligation then we can encourage them to continue and achieve other educational goals.

Our force benefits by having a team of educated leaders, managers and Airmen.

The road to educational excellence starts with understanding the true value of the CCAF AAS degree, accepting and tackling CDC, UGT, OJT as college level courses and not treating the completion of the CCAF AAS degree as a secondary goal, but making it our primary purpose and fulfilling the Air Force’s educational expectations before seeking out further educational opportunities.

COMMENTARY>>What is your mission statement?

By Chief Master Sgt. Charles Fletcher
314th MXG Superintendent

We all know what our Air Force’s, wing’s, and squadron’s mission statements are. But that’s not what I’m talking about here; I’m talking about your personal mission statement. In other words what are your short, medium and long term goals? Do you want to become the best Airman or NCO you can be? Do you want to get promoted? Do you want to be the best parent or spouse you can be? Do you want to get in better physical shape?

Are you someone who lets things happen to them or do you affect your own change. In other words are you proactive in attaining your goals and have you developed your own mission statement? If you haven’t I would suggest that you do. You are responsible for your future. Only by setting goals and measuring our performance against those goals can we become more effective people. Steven Covey the author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” states that “A personal mission statement based on correct principles becomes the same kind of standard for an individual. It becomes a personal constitution, the basis for making major, life directing decisions in the midst of the circumstances and emotions that affect our lives. It empowers individuals with the same timeless strength in the midst of change.”

Where do you see yourself in one, three, five years? What do you want to accomplish? Set your goals and then establish the steps for how you are going to get there. Make small achievable goals initially and then progress to bigger more challenging goals. Before you know it you will have achieved more than you ever thought possible. The ultimate outcome is to become a well rounded person for yourself, your family and your service. By affecting your own future and being proactive you can accomplish your mission. But only by first establishing what your mission statement is can you start to set out on your goals. Good luck.

TOP STORY>>Vital 90: One of LRAFB’s great secret weapons to whipping TLR into shape

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

“Here we go,” he said. With about six to 15 people following behind, Jeff Vaughn, 19th Medical Group health and wellness flight chief and Vital 90 instructor/creator, leads his class on a half-mile run around the base gym. “OK, that was a good warm up, right?” he said with a smile as to hint that the pain was only beginning. His students enter the workout room with heavy breathing as they take a sip of water and continue on with the rest of their hour-long class.

At Little Rock Air Force Base, there are numerous ways to get in shape. There’s squadron physical training for military members. Both military and civilians can use the gym’s equipment or partake in the classes offered there, including Zumba. They can also run at the base track or for the most part, anywhere on base. However, there’s also a class located inside LRAFB’s gym called Vital 90, where anyone who has access to the base can come and work up a sweat for 60 minutes.

Vital 90 is a high intensity, group fitness program that builds strength and aerobic performance, but also improves an individual’s self-efficacy and self-esteem said Vaughn.

“At the time of creation,” Vaughn said, “the base needed a fitness improvement program that met the three criteria needed to see sustained fitness improvement in Airmen failing to meet standards: consistency (5 times per week), high intensity (tough workouts), and total fitness (aerobic and strength).”

In the fall of 2008, Vital 90, which was originally called Burn Hour because it was voluntary, was created. Vital 90 can be a commander-approved program when an Airman has failed their P.T. test. It can also be used as an alternative to squadron P.T. The “90” in Vital 90 means one has to participate in 90 sessions in order to complete the class.

Vital 90 is held five days a week, in the morning, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6:45 to 7:45 a.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 7 to 8 a.m. and in the afternoon from 3 to 4 p.m.

Since its origin, Vital 90 has added a nutritional briefing to the class and a few more instructors.

Diane Novotny, a vital 90 instructor, has been instructing since the beginning, four years ago.

“I love seeing people make progress,” she said. “If someone wants to make progress, they will. It’s great to see someone go from the score of 68 to 98. It’s exciting watching the progress every day.”

Vaughn said the significance of the class is in the lives it changes and the relationships it builds.

“The best part for me is watching someone transform,” said Vaughn. “So many people show up on day one and many are not happy to be there. Slowly you break down walls and watch the person get stronger physically and mentally until the defeated, mad person who showed on day one, is now the person befriending the new guy and helping someone else achieve. It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”

Both Vaughn and Novotny said no day in Vital 90 is the same. It constantly changes, which keeps the students guessing, anxious and excited.

“There is no such thing as a typical day at Vital 90,” said Novotny. “Each instructor has their own way of training. Some instructors like to use the bike as a warm up; some like to do stretching exercises as a warm up.”

“It depends on the instructor,” said Vaughn. “All the instructors have different qualities and specialties that result in a varied program daily. The thing we strive for is providing a great workout that was different from the workout yesterday and providing an opportunity to learn and grow. At the end of the day, Vital 90 is a super tough workout that participants can be proud they finished.”

Vital 90 student, Staff Sgt. Alex Hooper, noncommissioned officer in charge of Pest Management, said he was skeptical at first about the class but really enjoys it now.

“I had to enroll in Vital 90 because I failed the abdominal circumference part of the fitness test,” said Hooper. “My initial thoughts on Vital 90 wereopen, but wary. I have seen the Air Force go through a lot of fitness programs to rehabilitate failures. The bottom line is you have to want to pass for any program to work. The classes are a good workout. I enjoy some more than others. The instructors are knowledgeable and concerned about your general safety.”

Novotny, who’s 60, motivates those in the class is by doing the workouts herself.

“I don’t only teach it, I do it,” she said. “I also offer words of encouragement like, ‘What?… Are you going to let a grandma beat you?’” she laughed.

For those who can’t keep up however, the classes are designed for the instructors to also be able to demonstrate modified ways of doing the same workouts.

“The class also uses the scale method,” said Novotny, “meaning if someone has been in the class for months and can lift heavier weight, or run farther, adjustments can be made for those just starting.”

Not only does Vital 90 strive to improve the body physically with exercise, the class also offers educational tips on nutrition.

Jill Hinsley, Little Rock AFB Health and Wellness Center dietician said her contribution to the class is showing someone where to start if they are ready to make nutritional changes.

“Sometimes it’s just to have an accountability partner,” Hinsley said. “Nutrition education and counseling are the things I focus on. I can meet with someone every week or twice a month; it just depends on the person and where they are. The class’s goal is to try to get people off of their profiles instead of putting a bandage on it.”

Hinsley, who’s been a dietician for six years, said she loves helping people become healthier.

“The impact by building relationships is the best part of the job. The struggle of convincing people that nutrition does play a major role in physical performance is the hardest part of the job. You have to change your eating habits as well. Missing meals does not help with sports/fitness performance. You’re not only taking away from your lean body mass, you’re not providing your body fuel to perform the best. Processed food doesn’t help performance, so change the quality of your food intake as well as the quantity. And that fixes more than sports performance. It’s the model for healthy weight and disease prevention. Choose more fruits and vegetables and whole grains.”

Vaughn is very hopeful that Vital 90 will continue to grow and evolve.

“My biggest hope is sustainment,” he said. “For me it’s about more than helping someone pass their P.T. test, it’s about changing the person physically and mentally. It’s about providing confidence through hard work.”

For those people who need help with nutrition and fitness, but haven’t the motivation or courage to start, Novotny and Vaughn both offer encouraging words.

Novotny said, “There is no time like the present. Vital 90 is not about, ‘I failed a P.T. test’. We can help you get where you need/want to be if you put forth the effort.”

Vaughn said, “The first day/week is brutal. You will be sore and wonder why anyone would want to put themselves through such torture. However, stick with it over the next two to three months and you will transform your body and your mind into something you can be proud of. You will become physically and mentally tougher than you thought possible. Nothing worth doing is easy, if it were, everyone would do it; steel sharpens steel.”

TOP STORY>>Little Rock squadron plays crucial role in one of Mobility Air Force’s largest exercises

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

Somewhere amidst the 600,000 acres of the Kisatchie National Forest, which spans several districts and parishes in Louisiana, Airmen and Soldiers are working around the clock, conducting contingency response training to increase their combat readiness, expeditionary skills, and joint effectiveness.

The Green Flag exercise, held at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Ft. Polk, La., is intended to assess and certify the combat readiness of Air Force strategic airlift, contingency, and support forces in a simulated expeditionary environment. In addition to exercising the joint capability of rapidly introducing forces into hostile environments to conduct operations it provides Airmen with the opportunity to develop refinements to processes and procedures that can potentially enhance the effectiveness of real-world operations.

The exercise is part of an on-going training regimen at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Ft. Polk, La., and the Airmen of the 34th Combat Training Squadron, part of the 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, make monthly trips to Ft. Polk to play their important role in this training.

Although they are only a small part of a large joint team gathered for the exercise, Lt. Col. Drey Menard, 34th CTS commander, said the importance of his squadron’s mission at the JRTC isn’t lost on him. The 34th CTS’s primary duty in the exercises at Ft. Polk is to train, said Menard. Constant demands for training make the JRTC exercises a commodity, and members of his unit can expect to spend 10 days or more, 10 times a year, at Ft. Polk participating in the simulated deployment exercises, said Menard.

“Working in this unit, you can expect to spend almost four months out of every year at Ft. Polk,” he said. “We’ll finish up this exercise later in the month, and be back (to Ft. Polk) for the next one at the beginning of November.”

The 34th CTS provides training and certification for air crew at the exercise, but also is responsible for having observers, coaches and trainers with “boots on the ground,” during the exercise, to evaluate the performance of Airmen on the ground. Typical deployment exercises at the base are scaled to be as realistic as possible and include situations that might arise in real-world deployments, such as paratroopers jumping from planes to advance teams sleeping in tents or holes in the ground before they’re able to establish hard facilities.

While service members are no strangers to exercises of every stripe, Green Flag Little Rock is set apart by the level of realism and detail. Bart Westfall, of the 34th CTS and contractor player during the exercise, said while the scenarios and exercises are simulated, they are as close to the real thing as possible.

Details and realism are apparent in “the Box,” the area that is “in play” during the exercise. The Box is a simulated deployed area located in the Kisatchie National Forest, specially built to imitate real-world deployment zones. The Box has towns and villages fabricated to resemble actual villages located in Southwest Asia. Morethan 17 “tribes” live in the Box during the exercise, and the JRTC employs more than 100 foreign nationals to play foreign villagers.

Among the towns and cities in the Box is Dara Lam, a sizeable town with gas stations, a restaurant, a hotel and other commodities. Everything is in play in the Box, the restaurant in Dara Lam actually serves coffee and food, and the town’s residents interact with the service members they come into contact with.

“The Box is designed to be as realistic as possible,” said Westfall. “There can be as many as 5,000 soldiers out there in training at once; it can be really chaotic.”

Menard, who worked as the Director of Mobility Forces during the exercise, said anticipating and overcoming chaos is the standard for his unit. The exercise is a “free-play” exercise, which means events are unscripted and subject to change at any moment. The players have no clue what’s going to happen before it happens and are encouraged to learn from their mistakes.

“This exercise is going to start and it’s going to end,” said Menard to his team before the exercise began. “We’re not going to break any people, and we’re not going to bend any metal. Everything we do in the middle is going to be a lesson learned. I want to see safe execution of the mission and a good collection of lessons learned at the end.”

The list of lessons learned, while always important, may be more so for this exercise because Menard, who has been participating in these exercises since June 2010, said the October exercise will be the largest one the JRTC has done in nearly two years.

While some exercises at the JRTC involve simulated deployments to areas with an already established U.S. presence, but not this one. The simulation for this deployment was based on building a base from scratch. Menard added that by its very nature an exercise of this magnitude takes a lot of effort.

For example, the Aeromedical Evacuation teams evacuated greater amounts of simulated injury/casualties every day. Also, while last September’s JRTC exercise involved 200 personnel parachuting into the Box, this one included more than 600 jumpers. Planning and executing the jump is always a harrowing and complicated job, but coordinating a jump as large as this requires special attention.

“This is the biggest jump we’ve done out here in a long time,” said Menard.

Among the AMC Airmen playing their part in this massive exercise was a team of observers, coaches, and trainers from various AMC bases dedicated to watching, evaluating and instructing Air Force members during the exercise.

Menard said exercises of this magnitude are challenging, but provide abundant opportunities for training, learning and enhancing joint force capabilities for the U.S. military, which is what joint training exercises are all about.

“From Army guys on the ground, who may have been to theater already, this puts them in a new role,” said Menard. “Army and Air Force people are challenged with jobs they’ve never had before. For MAF guys, our co-pilots need training before they deploy. We’re really proud of the ones that come in and say they feel much better prepared for their deployments. It’s better to feel pain and pressure here so downrange you survive and come home. It’s important for an exercise on this scale to learn the lessons we learn. It’s better to learn some things now than in theater.”

Thursday, October 11, 2012

COMMENTARY>>‘I am Air Force Energy’

By Lt. Gen. Robert R. Allardice
Air Mobility Command Vice Commander

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – October is Energy Action Month. This year’s theme is “I am Air Force Energy.” As the theme implies, whether you are a military member, civilian or contractor, your ideas are vital to improving efficiency.

In the last 6 years, Airmen in Air Mobility Command have reduced aviation fuel consumption 4 percent, ground fuel consumption 6 percent and facility energy intensity 18 percent. Some of these accomplishments, which many of you contributed to, are described below.

AMC Airmen reduced aviation fuel consumption 4 percent since 2006 by eliminating unnecessary cargo, flying more fuel efficient routes, cleaning engines regularly and even loading cargo to balance aircraft weight. Initiatives like these saved the Air Force $165 million, and allowed us to transport 24 percent more cargo while using 5 percent less fuel.

Since 2003 AMC Airmen have reduced facility energy intensity 18 percent by upgrading lighting with energy efficient technology such as fluorescent and LED, improving insulation around windows and doors, and modernizing heating and air conditioning systems. These efforts reduced future utility bills while improving the quality of the AMC work environment.

A recent example of Mobility Airmen embracing “Air Force Energy” can be found in Mobility Air Forces aircrew electronic flight bags. The 21-member AMC Electronic Flight Bag team sought to deliver a single automated platform, consolidating paper flight references for 18,000 aircrew members assigned to more than 100 units across five major commands. This initiative will save $5 million annually in printing costs alone and a productivity increase of 22,000 man-hours, placing an emphasis back on the mission. Moving from a paper-based electronic flight publication system to an electronic-based system not only improves operational efficiency and safety, but saves the Department of Defense significant time and money. The AMC EFB team is currently one of the three finalists vying for the 2012 Chief of Staff Team Excellence Award. The Department of Energy recognized the work of Airmen with six Federal Energy Management Program awards this year out of fifteen competitive nominations submitted by the Air Force. These winners will help save the Air Force more than $289 million, including 42 million gallons of jet fuel. Two AMC winners were identified, one from Headquarters AMC and the other from the 375th Air Mobility Wing, both at Scott Air Force Base.

The AMC Fuel Efficiency Office successfully implemented a mission index flying optimization tool. The software gives pilots the most energy-efficient altitude and speed based on atmospheric conditions. AMC alsosecured funding for the KC-135 engine upgrade and KC-10 drag clean-up fuel efficiency initiatives. These three initiatives, officials said, are projected to save the DoD $284 million over the next 10 years.

Liz Toftemark, Scott AFB utility engineer and energy manager, successfully negotiated electrical contracts over the past two years that will save the Air Force $5.5 million. She helped implement energy-saving projects such as heating, cooling, lighting and window upgrades that will save $4

million over the life of the projects. Through her efforts, the base library now has a reflective “cool” roof and 55 skylights which reduced electrical usage 30 percent at the facility.

Additionally, Jim Shores, 22nd Operations Support Squadron short range scheduling chief, from McConnell AFB, Kan., was awarded $10,000 through the Innovative Development Employee Awareness program, for identifying a recalibration during KC-135 air refueling training missions. This recalibration will save AMC approximately $472,000 annually in fuel waste.

I commend each of you who have had an impact on making our Air Force more energy efficient thus far. Now, I challenge each of you to seek even more ways to create a culture of energy awareness and to identify and follow up on energy saving initiatives so that those dollars saved can continue to enhance our nation’s combat capability.

COMMENTARY>>Standards? What standards?

By Chief Master Sgt. Phillip Robinson
8th Fighter Wing

KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea (AFNS) – Recently, I was asked the difference between a good NCO and a great NCO. Well, I answered the question as best I could, but failed to mention “standards.”

You see, a good NCO sets his sights on just meeting standards, while a great NCO is continually trying to exceed standards and motivates his Airmen to do the same.

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “standard” as something established by authority, custom or general consent as a model or example. It also defines it as a measure of quantity, weight, extent, value or quality.

Do you prepare for your PT test not knowing what it will take to pass? Do you perform an operational check on a jet without knowing the technical order pass-fail limits? Do you get a tattoo not knowing what is acceptable per Air Force Instruction 36-2903, “Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel”?

Recently, the Air Force published Air Force Instruction 1-1, “Air Force Standards.” It took guidance from different sources and put it into one instruction that we can all easily refer to. This instruction covers standards that have been around for decades and added new standards that deal with issues that face our Airmen today such as social media, the wingman concept, resiliency, etc. It also serves as a great tool during official feedback sessions.

Now why is this important? As a custom or example, Airmen need to reflect a professional image that encompasses proper dress and behavior. If you need a haircut or your uniform needs attention, take the necessary time to make sure you represent your unit and the Air Force in the right manner.

Demonstrate proper customs and courtesies by standing up when a senior member visits your work center; respond to him or her by saying Sir, Ma’am, Chief or Sergeant. As a measure of quantity or quality, when you perform your daily duties, you need to know the requirements of that task and try to get it done in a timely, cost effective and quality manner to assure we exceed the minimums of what is being asked of us. Bottom line, have pride in oneself and in your workmanship.

How will you know if you are meeting and exceeding standards? Through timely and proper feedback and encouragement from your supervisors so you clearly understand what is expected of you. Also, demanding perfection from yourself so you can assure you will exceed the standard every time.

I’ve heard from time to time what we allow in our presence becomes the standard. As supervisors we cannot make excuses for our Airmen and allow them to ignore our Air Force core values. We would be doing them a disservice and putting their careers in jeopardy.

So know, abide and exceed the standard for yourselves and your Airmen so the next time someone thanks you for your service, you will walk away sharing the same pride they have for you!

TOP STORY>>Close call for 19th EMS

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

With similar records, the 19th Equipment Maintenance Squadron with one loss and the 19th Communications Squadron with two, both teams played with victory in mind. This was the first time these two teams have met on the gridiron to compete against each other, which made the desire to win even greater. Offensively, both teams brought the heat from beginning to end, scoring touchdowns one after another, but in the end, time and a strong determination gave the 19th EMS a final touchdown and the win 38-33.

The 19th EMS scored the first seven points of the game with a touchdown and one-point conversion. Their lead however, was short lived when the 19th CS answered back with two back-to-back touchdowns, one being a 50-yard run. A 19th EMS wide receiver returned the 19th CS’s answer with a 40-yard reception touchdown. At the end of the first half, the 19th CS scored one last touchdown and got the additional one-point conversion to take the lead 20-19.

During halftime, the teams regrouped and discussed strategies on what their game plan was for going into the second half. Barry Wertz, 19th EMS coach, said his team was hanging in there, but they were in trouble defensively. He also said the 19th CS was pretty good, but he believed in his team and that they would come out on top. Danny Bise, 19th CS coach, said his team was playing well, but they needed to get everyone involved. He also said he thought the other team was doing a good job.

During the second half, the intensity magnified as the coaches’ passion for victory increased. Taking command of their teams, both coaches pushed their teams to work harder offensively, as well as defensively.

Back and forth, both offenses continued to dominate. The final minutes had the 19th CS still in the lead with 33-32. Not giving up, Wertz threw a two-yard pass to a 19th EMS receiver, Brett Meyers, who made the touchdown.

With less than two minutes in the game, the 19th CS drove down the field and had shot to win it. The final few attempts from the quarterback weren’t successful, one falling short and the other being over thrown. The 19th EMS took the ball back with a turnover on downs and ran out the clock for a 38-33 win.

“Offensively, we did really well,” said Wertz. “Defensively, we did what we had to do, but we need work. We played really weak. I told my team to stay together. I told them that if we could keep the 19th CS’s fast quarterback in the pocket and make him pass the ball, we would win.”

TOP STORY>>DADT repeal study reveals no loss in readiness, retention

By Don Branum
Air Force Academy Public Affairs

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AFNS) — Two professors with the Behavioral Sciences and Leadership Department here contributed to a study released by the Palm Center Sept. 20 that reaffirmed findings in the Defense Department’s 2010 comprehensive working review group prior to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Col. Gary Packard Jr., the Behavioral Sciences and Leadership Department head, and Dr. Steven Samuels, a professor in the same department, are two of four service academy instructors who contributed to the study, which found that repealing DADT had no effect on recruiting, retention or readiness.

What’s notable about the paper, Samuels said, is that “it’s been described as 40 single-spaced pages of ‘nothing happened.’”

While no significant changes in military readiness occurred – as studies have predicted for nearly 20 years since the Rand Corporation study in 1993 – the available data soundly disproves statements by retired flag officers that repeal would “undermine recruiting and retention ... and eventually break the all-volunteer force.”

“I think this paper, more than anything else, is a vindication for why we value science over simple opinion,” Samuels said.

The study acknowledges that some people’s morale dropped because they don’t agree with the change but notes that the positive effect on morale of gay, lesbian and bisexual service members balanced it out.

“The bottom line is, when you look at the key attributes – can we do our job, can we fight the nation’s wars, will it affect the readiness of the United States military – we predicted the answer would be no,” Packard said. “And the data at least one year out suggests that the answer is that this does not affect the key factors of the military’s ability to do its job.”

The environment at the Academy didn’t significantly change after DADT was repealed, Samuels said.

“I don’t think anyone’s noticed anything,” he said. “There was a pride flag on Sept. 20 last year that appeared on the Ring Wall, and I haven’t heard anything else.”

“The anniversary came and went,” Packard added. “Not a peep.”

One reason for that might be that cadets don’t see it as a big deal.

“I wouldn’t say nobody cares, but it’s a fairly small minority,” Packard said.

He said the most memorable response from a cadet was, “Well, some people’s Facebook statuses have changed, and that’s about it.”

Dr. Dave Levy, a professor with the Management Department, also contributed to the study. Levy recalled talking to cadets in a class for Rhodes and Marshall scholar applicants about DADT before the repeal last year.

“A kid raises his hand and says, ‘Sir, no offense, but why are you here?’ And I said, ‘None taken. I’m here to talk about DADT. Isn’t it a significant issue?’” he said.

The cadet replied that no one cared because they all knew gay and lesbian cadets were already here.

“It wasn’t just one cadet,” Levy said. “There was a whole lot of agreement, and the big issue was, why are we making a non-issue an issue? The issue was that DADT existed when the culture had actually changed already, and I think it took us a while to recognize that the culture moved without us.”

However, that’s not to say there’s no conflict at all or that there won’t be in the future, Packard said.

“It’s na├»ve to think we’re not going to have incidents,” he said. “But we’ve had incidents based on race since we’ve integrated racially; we’ve had incidents based on gender since we’ve integrated women more fully into the force.

“We still ... have people who are really struggling with this issues, who don’t agree with it, and that’s fine,” he continued. “The resolution of this is not to change everyone’s mind to work the same way. The resolution of this is, how do you professionally deal with these incredibly difficult differences of opinion and do it in a proper way?”

For the Defense Department, the answer was to get commanders in front of the policy change.

“What really matters from a military leadership perspective is ... you ought to see me as the commander supporting the policies and the laws of the land in accordance with my oath of office and really not have a good perspective on where I stand on this issue personally,” Packard said. “I might talk personally to my commander when I disagree with the policy, but when I’m out in public, I’m a servant of this nation, and I follow the laws of this land.”

That’s what Packard witnessed while deployed as the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing’s director of staff when the training rolled out.

“I went to probably greater than 80 percent of the individual commanders’ briefings,” Packard said. “I can tell you without exception, every commander stood up and delivered the (repeal) message correctly. I can tell you from talking to them personally, not all of them agreed with the change.”

The emphasis on professional leadership is a sharp contrast from the climate when women entered the Air Force Academy, Packard said.

“When I was a four-degree, the class of ‘79, the last all-male class, were seniors. So I got to see that transition firsthand, and that was an openly debated topic in classrooms,” he said. “Faculty members were not shy about telling you their opinions about whether or not women should be here, pro and con.”

“Not all commanders were on board. You heard commanders saying, ‘Come on, we’ve got to do this. It’s a dumb idea, but you know we’ve got to do this,’ which is why it was so brutal for (women in) those early classes,” Samuels added.

“Much different leadership message than what we got last year,” Packard said.

Opponents of the repeal have said it’s too early to tell what the repeal’s full effect will be, but Samuels disagreed.

“We know from behavioral science that most of your problems come when they’re proximal, not when they’re distal – that is, most of the problems come immediately, not in the distant future,” he said. “You had more racial problems when desegregation happened immediately, not afterwards. So to say that things are going to become worse over time ... doesn’t hit reality at any two contiguous points.”

Packard holds a Doctorate in Developmental Psychology from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Samuels has a PhD in psychology from Stanford University. Levy, a 1988 Academy graduate, has a PhD in organizational behavior from Webster University.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

COMMENTARY>>Special needs families find support from DOD panel

By Maj. Nicholas Sabula
Air Force News Service

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS) – Recently I had the opportunity to serve on a Defense Department advisory panel dealing with special needs issues across the military.

The panel’s meeting last month in Alexandria, Va., was the third of its kind conducted by DOD’s Office of Community Support for Military Families with Special Needs, or OSN, in the past year to address the Exceptional Family Member Program’s family support priorities.

The panel was comprised of family representatives from all services, including active duty and reserves, and addressed communication issues and concerns from military families. The event was chaired by Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy Charles E. Milam.

As the father of three boys, one with autism, I took my role in the process very seriously. In reaching out for input from families through networking, meet-ups and even an unofficial online survey, I found myself not only serving not only as the Air Force representative, but also as a joint representative to all our families.

EFMP impacts a lot of families, with enrollment mandatory for active duty families with a special need. As of December, total EFMP service member enrollment was projected at 93,706 with numbers of EFMP family members estimated at 126,153 across services.

The program becomes especially important when planning and making a permanent change of station move. Some families need support before the move to determine if services are available for their particular special needs. Some find that they need family support assistance to navigate the system when they arrive at a new duty station. Contacts must be made with new school staff, to locate medical providers and work with a variety of offices to support providers on or off the installation.

During previous panels, we presented families’ frustrations with accessing information and services and confusion about policy since each service implements a slightly different program. Lack of standardization and consistency at different installations were top priorities. The panel listed as its three key areas for improvement consistency of support, communication and health care.

What I found is that much of the work our panel initially identified and advocated for a year ago was taken to heart by leadership and we are seeing results. OSN recently completed the first phase of an analysis aimed at standardizing service support for special needs families across DOD. The analysis used a series of site visits to installation-level, headquarters-level and any centralized locations dealing with personnel, family support and assignment processes. The culminating activity was a review by the services to look at enrollment and identification; assignment coordination; overseas family travel; and family support.

Ultimately, the outcome is to consolidate these processes and make it easier for families to maintain support from location to location. Simple things like common forms, databases talking to each other, more user-friendly websites to help families as they transition from one location to another, accessibility of information to understand how to obtain care and support from available resources were all presented.

A TRICARE representative spoke about the health care management activity’s efforts to improve communication with families and collaboration with OSN, such as simplifying online navigation. The representative discussed TRICARE’s Patient Centered Medical Home, which the services are implementing and eventually will address many of the panel’s issues related to lack of consistency of medical providers and timely access to specialty care. It places emphasis on personal relationships, team delivery of holistic care, coordination across medical specialties and settings, and increases access to affordable care.

EFMP representatives from each service’s headquarters shared their efforts to improve communication and outreach, as well as awareness on adult-age children or spouses with special needs, respite care and other EFMP initiatives such as joint base support.

I was especially pleased to see that the services are working more closely together to build cohesion across the joint force. It might not sound like much, but as an Air Force family on an Army installation, such cohesion is important and reflects a readiness issue for the military community at large.

Perhaps the hardest part of participating in these panels has been the expectations of families after it ends. It’s hard to tell families that their concerns were presented, but won’t be fixed right now. As I’ve learned, the complexity of coordination and needed approvals at the department or service level means change typically gets accomplished at one speed: glacial.

Despite more work to be done, military families like mine with special needs should see some direct benefits from the recommendations brought forth through this panel, indicating the importance DOD is putting on listening to families’ concerns and working to act on their issues.

There’s still going to challenges with support and services in the short term, but the ball is rolling on lasting improvements to make things better for all our families.

Maj. Nicholas Sabula is a communication plans officer at the Defense Media Activity. He was selected to a 10-member panel as part of the Defense Department’s Exceptional Family Member Program. He has a son with autism and, off-duty, is an advocate for military families dealing with autism.

TOP STORY>>‘I am Air Force Energy’ campaign is under way

October — Energy Action Month — provides an opportunity to promote energy and water conservation awareness to Airmen as part of a national campaign led by the Department of Energy. This year’s theme, “I am Air Force Energy,” puts the Airman at the center of the campaign. The goal is to inspire the Total Force to make a commitment to a continual change in organizational and personal energy use, and help Airmen realize they can make a difference in overall Air Force energy efforts.

Beginning this month, the Air Force will highlight energy success stories from around the Air Force enterprise in videos, fact sheets, and articles distributed via the Air Force website, Facebook, YouTube and base newspapers. These will celebrate the innovative ideas and accomplishments of Airmen at all levels across the country and around the world and provide energy-saving tips to reduce energy and water use and save money.

“Every Airman is charged to “make energy a consideration in all we do” and through active awareness and training programs we enforce that charge,” said Maj Gen Timothy Byers, the Air Force Civil Engineer. “We must take the lead in energy conservation, renewable energy utilization, and energy security as the Air Force seeks to save energy, reduce costs, and keep our country insulated from the volatility energy engenders.”

All the data is not in yet, but the Air Force estimates it spent more than $10 billion on energy in fiscal year 2012, almost 10 percent of its total budget. “The Air Force is fully committed to improving resiliency, reducing demand, assuring supply and fostering an energy aware culture,” said Terry Yonkers, Assistant Secretary of Air Force Installations, Environment and Logistics. “The overriding concern is to secure energy for the future.”

Achieving each of these goals – improving resiliency, reducing demand, assuring supply and fostering an energy aware culture – involves the hard work and innovation of Airmen. In the last year, a number of Airmen have gone above and beyond to have a real impact.

IMPROVE RESILIENCY

Capt. Reid Touchberry, the energy manager at Misawa Air Base, Japan, helped get the power back on immediately following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. He led the “Base Energy Nerve Cell” consisting of Airmen, Japanese engineers, and contractors. The team tracked generator assets; developed contingency plans to restore power using large-scale mobile generators; developed and implemented an emergency conservation plan and promoted energy conservation across the base that will save an estimated $3 million annually.

REDUCE DEMAND
Air Mobility Command provides worldwide cargo and passenger delivery, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation, and transports humanitarian relief supplies in response to global disasters. AMC successfully implemented software that gives pilots the most energy-efficient altitude and speed based

on atmospheric conditions. AMC also upgraded the KC-135 engine and is funding a fuel efficiency initiative to reduce drag on the KC-10. These three initiatives are projected to save the Department of Defense $284 million over the next 10 years. The 75th Medical Group at Hill AFB, Utah, reduced energy demand in its two clinics by 43 percent in 2011. The 75 MDG created customized climate control settings for telecommunication equipment rooms on a designated air conditioning system; adjusted indoor climate set-points, replaced single pane windows, doors, and inefficient light bulbs.

ASSURING SUPPLY 


To increase fuel supply the Air Force is looking to alternative domestic fuels. In support of this initiative, Thunderbirds pilot Major Aaron Jelinek flew the first solo flight on a 50/50 blend of JP-8 traditional jet fuel and a biomass fuel derived from plant seed oil and animal fat in 2011. Since then, the Air Force has certified all aircraft on a 50/50 blend of JP-8 and synthetic fuel; and 80 percent of its aircraft on a 50/50 blend of JP-8 and biofuel. By 2016, the Air Force will be prepared to meet half of its domestic fuel requirement with alternative fuel blends.

FOSTERING AN AWARE CULTURE 

The Air Force is implementing energy awareness training and education for Airmen, civilians and contractors during basic training, officer training, technical school and more. There is also an online outreach module available to all Air Force personnel with a Common Access Card on the Advanced Distance Learning System. It provides energy tips specific to various job functions.

TOP STORY>>Rockin’ the end of fiscal year

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

Fiscal year 2012 ended with Little Rock balancing every cent of the 19th Airlift Wing’s $106 million annual budget spent to employ Air Mobility Command’s busiest base.

September marks the end of a season, and while a lot of people take to the outdoors to enjoy the cooler autumn air, don their cleats and trample leaves of grass while playing football or futbol, enjoy watching the sunrise later in the mornings and set earlier in the evenings, or delight in any number of pleasures the turning of the seasons brings, there’s another end of a season going on at the base, and a large contingent of Airmen, civilian and military, are working around the clock to meet goals and deadlines. The end of September marks the end of the fiscal year, and Team Little Rock has been working feverishly for the last several weeks to ensure the base is fiscally prepared for the upcoming year.

The fiscal year officially ends September 30 of each year, but Air Force mandated a September 20 closeout for all bases as a main push to allow concentration on awarding construction project funding and other fallout.

“Thanks to an absolute team effort from all our unit commanders, Government purchase card holders, resource advisors, legal, and 19th Contracting Squadron mates made possible the success achieved on September 20 closeout,” said Lt. Col. Eric Upton, 19th Comptroller Squadron commander.

Every office has their duties at the end of the fiscal year, but perhaps none are more hard-pressed than the comptroller or contracting offices. While most offices are scrambling on how to spend their fallout funds or held-over dollars from the year, these two offices are virtually flooded with tasks, responsibilities, phone calls and paperwork. Capt. Peter Eshenour, 19th CPTS financial analyst flight commander, said for his office, working through the end of the fiscal year is like standing under an enormous running faucet.

“All of our ops culminate with the end of the fiscal year,” Eshenour said. “It’s really crunch time for us.”

Crunch time was even a little more hectic for his flight this year, said Eshenour. The base’s busy and varied operations in September added to the mania.

“This year was a really different year,” he said. “After the omnibus bill passed through congress, we got additional funding... on September 12, we got almost $22 million for end of year spending.”

It’s typical for the budget flight in CPTS to work long hours during September, and this year was no exception, but Eshenour said he’s proud of his team and the way they handled the workload.

“This whole thing is a team effort,” he said. “We rely on resource managers and advisors to do their part, even small things like pushing through travel vouchers helped. This whole thing is about being a good partner and helping everyone get the work done. I’m really proud of my team. These Airmen made a real difference.”

An integral part of the end of fiscal year team is the contracting office, which rewards myriads of contracts, large and small, during “crunch time” in late September.

Lt. Col. Lateef Hynson, 19th Contracting Squadron commander, said once September starts, the working day goes anywhere from 10-12 hours and it’s possible there will be people still working at Midnight on Sept. 30, to ensure all the money is spent.

One of the offices in the 19th CONS is the commodities office, which deals with small contracts. Tech. Sgt. Eric Lannon, NCOIC of the commodities office, said in September his office executed nearly $5 million in funds, compared to $1.4 million in August. Along with the increased operations Lannon worked with an inexperienced staff, but he said he’s proud of the effort everyone put in.

“No one person could do this,” he said. “I’m really proud of the way these guys, doing it with less experience, still got it done with a team effort.”

One of the commodities office biggest customers is the 19th Civil Engineer Squadron, which also plays a significant role in the end of year proceedings. Capt. Corey Alfred, 19th CES operations flight chief, said in the last three weeks of September her flight spend $1.6 million and processed 550 line items and 240 job orders.

The resource advisors for the 19th CES said working in their office for the end of fiscal year is comparable to owning a household and having to pay every bill at once.

The end of summer is an enjoyable time for a lot of people, whether due to cooler temperatures, the changing colors or just having the kids back in school. But on the business side, fall also brings with it the end of the fiscal year, and a lot of overtime for the men and women on base. Monday was a commander authorized minimal manning day, in part for all of the Airmen, civilian employees and contractors who poured out extra hours of their time to complete the mission at hand.