Friday, January 23, 2015

TOP STORY >> Base conducts Innovation and Improvements Facebook Town Hall

Courtesy of 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Col. Patrick Rhatigan, 19th Airlift Wing and installation commander, hosted Little Rock Air Force Base’s 2015 Innovation and Improvements Facebook Town Hall Jan. 13 from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Team Little Rock community members virtually attended the event, addressing issues on topics such as modernization and enhancement. The discussion ranged from mission objectives to infrastructure to internal processes and more. The base commander was joined by leaders and team members from the 19th Airlift Wing in order to address the community’s concerns.

“I could not be prouder of your accomplishments in 2014, and I want to express one big thank you to our Airmen for their excellence and dedication to combat airlift,” said Rhatigan. “Last year was filled with amazing feats in the face of adversity, but we continued to commit ourselves to executing the mission.”

“So we begin 2015, and a new year brings new changes,” said Rhatigan. “Part of our ability to adapt and overcome when faced with challenges is through innovation.”

More than a dozen questions were posted, and subject matter experts answered most, if not all, concerns during the one-hour event. Here are the questions and answers from the event:

Q1: Issue - Leadership Pathways Participation

A1: I will make sure your suggestions are reviewed by the Community Support Coordinator and the Leadership Pathways POC to find the best way to add classes, improve current classes, as well as, better advertise the classes available. We will work with the respective subject matter experts (financial, Security Forces, and Protocol) to determine if they have the resources to implement your suggestions and if providing possible “tracks or paths” is a direction we wish to take this program. Please continue to send your suggestions and ideas regarding Leadership Pathways to Public Affairs or to our Community Support Coordinator, Mrs. Stephanie Wynn, anytime! Mrs. Wynn and her team review all recommendations and implement new classes or processes continually.

Q2: Issue – Face Time with Leadership

A2: I appreciate your observation and honest feedback. I absolutely agree that opportunities for frank discussions with leadership are valuable and more effort should be made for small group discussions. In the past we have held Chief Chats as well as hosted small group discussions called REAL Talks that focused specifically on the topic of sexual assault. I assure you that I will continue to encourage leadership down to the lowest level to look for innovative ways, and to take the time, to meet with their Airmen to discuss issues in a safe environment. You have given us an important area in which we can better communicate with and understand our Airmen.

Q3: Issue – Security Cameras to Help Prevent Sexual Assault

A3: Thank you for your suggestion to add security cameras in our efforts to prevent sexual assault. I appreciate your commitment to ending sexual assault at our base, and I want to first start to answer your question by emphasizing one of the best tools we have to prevent this crime starts with each of us as Wingmen. We have a duty to intervene when we see something wrong, inappropriate or harmful to our fellow Airmen. 

As far as security cameras are concerned, we have looked into this as a prevention method, but it only goes so far. In 2014, there were 22 reports that occurred on base, with six of those happening in our dorms. These assaults, more often than not, tend to happen at a private residence, behind closed doors. 

As I mentioned before, community self-policing has shown a greater impact. Peers have proven to be the most impactful tool to reduce assaults and other kinds of misconduct. You don’t have to do everything, but we want you to something...start by speaking up! Thank you for thinking hard about an issue that impacts all of us.

Q4: Issue – Community Policing

A4: Our Security Forces Defenders have a serious and difficult mission to protect the base community. If there is threat to life or injury on base, our defenders and first responders have the training and resources to handle such situations. It’s always helpful to have extra eyes on base to alert us if a situation occurs, however Security Forces would be the only organization able to provide a function under the title of a community policing program. Please know we do have programs currently available for our community members to alert us of a security concern, threat, or suspicious activity. You can contact our Crime Stop Hotline 24/7 at (501) 987-6600 or the Law Enforcement Desk 24/7 at (501) 987-3221. You can also learn more about the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations Eagle Eye program:

Q5: Issue – Physical Training Leader Program & Unit PT

A5: Our Force Support Squadron and Health and Wellness Center teams have combined their resources to continue providing monthly PTL training programs. The base’s current program is already using some innovative techniques. For example, as the Air Force transitions the required PTL course to virtual training (CBT), Little Rock will continue to offer our in-house training located at the Fitness Center.

Ultimately, the PTL program is supported at the unit level. In theory, a unit could have as many PTLs they needed/wanted, as long as they meet the requirement. Units are welcome to send any Airmen who meet these PTL requirements to the Force Support Squadron’s training to ensure their unit is adequately supported. Moreover, the kind of creative workouts or supportive fitness programs you mentioned are entirely up to the unit and how it wants to implement the PTL program. I encourage you to bring your ideas for new ways to utilize the PTLs to your first sergeant or direct supervisor in order to help raise the morale and unit cohesion you discussed.

Q6: Issue – Barrier Construction at Front Gate 

A6: I’m glad to hear that the changes implemented by SFS are appreciated. I’ll be sure to pass to our folks standing at the gates your thanks. As to the barriers at the front gate, please understand we have a lot of wear and tear to our roads and barriers. I agree a lot of work still needs to be done to bring our roads up to standards. The project that installed the vehicle denial barriers is an Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection improvements project. The contract is ongoing and some portions of the work have been accepted by CES to include the barriers. The pavement has not been contracted out. Our civil engineers and contracting personnel are monitoring the condition of the pavements. Construction materials and workmanship of construction projects are reviewed by multiple base entities, to include but not limited to, Civil Engineering, Contracting, Communications, Security Forces, and Wing Safety before final acceptance of the contract work. We will continue to monitor the conditions at the barriers and make appropriate changes when and if needed. Furthermore, over the next year or so we will complete multiple pavement projects that will improve some of worst streets across the installation. Thanks for noticing our ongoing efforts to improve our aging infrastructure!

Q7: Issue – Crossing Guard Program

A7: The crossing guard program is taken very seriously as we are all concerned for the safety of our children. I understand the program coordinators are aware of the cases you may be referring to when both the primary and alternate volunteer did not show up. Since these cases, the Rising 6 leaders have been proactive in increasing communication lines with Arnold Drive to eliminate this from happening. If for any reason the volunteers do not show up for their shift, the school has the name and number of points of contact within the Rising 6 to find a replacement. While the Crossing Guard program provides for the safety of the children, the school is ultimately responsible for children crossing the street and must task a teacher to perform this duty in the absence of volunteers. Of course, we never want it to come to a situation where the safety of our children is compromised. I encourage you to get in touch with the school to learn more about the crossing guard program and find out how volunteers are selected. Be assured that safety is a top priority for me. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, your suggestion could prevent an accident in the future! If you have more questions about the program, please contact Public Affairs at (501) 987-5855, and they will put you in touch with the Rising 6.

Q8: Issue – 2015 Outlook for Team Little Rock

A8: I can tell you that Airmen from right here at Little Rock AFB are employing combat airlift around the globe. We have more than 400 Airmen deployed right now. This month, we started our deployment rotations to the AFRICOM and EUCOM. We sent more than 100 Airmen downrange to assist with USAFE’s “New Normal,” missions in the Horn of Africa, all while we are still supporting the follow-on mission to OEF, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Even though our operations are changing, we are still called upon to support many routine airlift missions, support a variety of contingencies around the world, and we are doing heavy lifting in Afghanistan.

At home station, you may start to notice multiple construction projects as we keep striving to improve our infrastructure throughout the installation. Remember this base was built in 1955! Additionally, in April we will officially open “The Commons” building which will serve as a centralized location for the A&FRC, Library, and Community Center.

Lastly, one of our biggest focuses in 2015 will be innovation – a contributing factor for tonight’s town hall theme. I want to challenge Team Little Rock to ask themselves, “how can you enhance or improve your unit’s capabilities?” I’ve said before that we have no extra people or money...our budgets are tight and our personnel numbers are shrinking. We need innovative ideas to help work through these potential manning and fiscal challenges, and continue to make our Air Force the world’s greatest air force. In fact, we will be launching a local program for you to submit your innovative ideas right here on base!

Ultimately, it is difficult to predict what challenges we, as Team Little Rock, will face in the future. No matter what the future holds, exceptional Airmen from Little Rock will stand ready to provide Combat Airlift anywhere, anytime.

Q9: Issue – Child Care at Gym

A9: As someone who has children and loves to work out on a regular basis, I can understand how important it is to have dedicated workout time. In fact, I hear this question on a regular basis. We’ve been researching options for a solution that would meet the needs of parents seeking child care while at the fitness center. We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Please contact Mr. Aaron Leach, the Fitness Center Director at (501) 987-7716, with any ideas you may have. Along with the family fitness room, we also offer the “Mommy & Me” fitness class for those interested working out along with their children. Thank you for your post to the town hall!

Q10: Issue – Old BX Plans

A10: I am really proud to report that we have spent the last couple years renovating the facility and will be opening “The Commons” in early March. The Commons will provide a one-stop-shop for Airmen, families and retirees by housing the Airmen and Family Readiness Center, library, community center, and a coffee shop. It’s going to rock and be a great gathering place for our Airmen in the heart of the installation. Combining these vital base assets, we hope to be able to provide more efficient customer service to the Airmen and families of Team Little Rock. Thank you for your patience as we modernize our aging facilities and posture for the future!

Q11: Issue – Health and Wellness Education

A11: We have an outstanding Health and Wellness Center staff that provides classes on health and exercise, including the “Be Well” class and numerous Vital 90 classes, which both incorporate nutrition and exercise. For class opportunities, please visit the Health and Wellness Center located within the Fitness Center, the LRAFB HAWC Facebook page, or call (501) 987-7288. If there are classes you would like to recommend, please contact Mr. Jeff Vaughn at the HAWC to submit your suggestions. Thanks for trying to make our Airmen healthier!

Q12: Kudos to Team Little Rock

A12: It is great to hear your appreciation for Team Little Rock leadership! I’m humbled and amazed to be a part of what we do here every day. I’ll be sure to pass along your thanks to Lt. Col. Brooks, and we are certainly glad to have her back home. Let me take the time to thank the Team Little Rock Airmen who make the mission here happen every day. You are the reason we remain the world’s greatest Air Force!

Q13: Issue – New Technology Private Org on Base

A13: We appreciate your efforts to bring as many innovative tools, including dedicated organizations to Little Rock AFB. As you continue to seek out establishing a local Armed Forces Communications and Electronic Association (AFCEA) chapter, please reach out to the FSS Resource Management Flight for guidance and support for establishing a private organization. They will help you with any questions you may have throughout the process. Melissa Walsh manages the program, and can be reached at 987-6930. Good luck and thank you for stepping up in the community!

Q14: Issue – Base Housing Safety/Health Concerns

A14: We understand your concern and would also want safe and healthy housing for our families. We are aware of the mold issue and other reports and are actively working with Hunt Communities to identify and address these issues. I know that Hunt has sent maintenance personnel to some of the houses to investigate mold has everyone’s attention! We have Hunt Communities representatives here who promise to continue to work this issue until you are satisfied! We ask you to contact Hunt Communities at (501) 983-9044 to file your specific issue and continue to provide them any updates or information on your specific situation. However, if you are not receiving the help you need with Hunt Communities, please contact our housing liaison representative within Civil Engineering at (501) 987-2358. 

Q15: Issue – Next Airshow

A15: Unfortunately, due to our runway construction, we do not have an open house/air show scheduled for 2015 at this time. Hopefully, when our runway is back to full length in 2017, we will hold our next air show to highlight our Combat Airlift capabilities! Please contact Public Affairs for the latest air show update.

Q16: Issue – Observation Area on Runway

A16: We know that several other bases have observation decks, and how amazing it is to watch the planes bank and fly overhead! We will look into this suggestion, and do some research to see if this project is feasible here. In the meantime, there many areas on base which offer amazing views of our aircraft. The easiest area to access is the open field across from the Base Exchange. If you drive down Cannon Drive and turn right onto Fourth Street just before the soccer fields, you will find a large open area that offers a good view of the flightline. Additionally, if you take Thomas Avenue toward the flightline and turn right on Third Street, you will find an area between Thomas and Vandenberg which offers good views as well. It is slightly obscured by buildings, but closer to the flightline. I hope this helps with your suggestion in the meantime as an interim solution. Keep the good ideas coming!

Q17: Issue – Loose Dogs in Housing

A17: Thank you for your concern regarding loose animals in base housing. An unsupervised animal roaming the neighborhood can be treacherous for the dog and for our fellow neighbors. If you are unable to resolve your problem through conversation with your neighbor, please contact Security Forces at (501) 987-3221. Security Forces will contact the Jacksonville Police Department or Jacksonville Animal Control to collect the animal if it is dangerous or in danger. Also, please contact Hunt Communities at (501) 983-9044 to allow them to investigate and engage the owners if appropriate. 

Q18: Issue – Shoppette Hours

A18: You make a great point about the multiple stores! However, the appropriate source for comments and suggestions regarding the shoppettes is AAFES. AAFES owns all the shoppettes and makes the business decisions on hours, merchandise, etc. You may contact AAFES directly at (501) 988-1150. Otherwise, we will gladly work with them to provide a response in a timely manner following this town hall.

Q19: Issue – Manning in 314th AMXS

A19: Thank you for participating in the town hall tonight! I appreciate your foresight into potential problems in the Aircraft Maintenance Units, but tonight’s purpose is about innovation for the future. If you have questions about your AMU, please contact 314th AMXS leadership. 

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