Thursday, December 16, 2010

COMMENTARY>>A cornucopia of fin flashes

If you’ve been near “The ‘Rock” flightline lately, you may have noticed some C-130s that don’t have “The Rock” or “Arkansas Air National Guard” painted on the tails. There’s new color atop many of our gray transports, and those fin flashes read, “Maxwell,” “Bragg-Pope” or “Youngstown” ... and as of this past Friday, “Texas.”

These are the first four of 18 Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard mid-1980s-era C-130H2s that will continue to arrive through next autumn. The aircraft will come from 12 different locations and will be used to continue legacy training of Air Force and international crewmembers as our venerable C-130Es leave the force. Simultaneously, the Air Force Reserve will stand up the 355th Airlift Squadron, and hire on new Airmen to fly this mission in concert with the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing, which has been training crewmembers alongside the 314th for a quarter-century.

The age difference between our C-130Es and the new C-130H-2s is pretty significant - Lockheed matured many of the systems and avionics in those 20 years, and the newer planes are as different as a 1962 Corvette and its 1984 descendant. Negotiating this transformation means plenty of work for the maintainers and fliers of the 314th, who will operate and teach on these planes until the 355th is “full up” in manning in few years.

With the help of both the 189th and the 19th Airlift Wings, 314th Airmen are doing “differences” training to certify them in the new engines, radars, and other updates that the H-2 brings, topped off with hands-on maintenance and flying certifications. Our contract instructors at the Center of Excellence are also busy - they’re learning and transitioning to the more modern systems too, and preparing to modify four C-130E simulators to C-130H before transitioning their students.

So the next year will bring a welcome challenge for the 314th, because while it’s very common for Air Force C-130 maintainers and aircrew to be certified in more than one flavor of C-130, as both the 19th and 189th are every day, we’ve never had to teach new students in two different versions. While the colorful fin flashes on low-flying C-130s become more varied, our instructors and maintainers will be putting in a little more over-the-holidays study time to gear up for the H-2, readying them to grow the next generation that flies the “four fans of freedom.”

COMMENTARY>>AMC commander: Celebrate the holidays, reflect on a great year and be safe

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- As we look forward to this holiday season and the upcoming New Year, it’s time to reflect on the year gone by. It’s been an incredibly busy one for Air Mobility Command. You have performed magnificently ... rising to meet the challenges head on to deliver hope, fuel the fight and save lives -- I couldn’t be prouder of you!

The year started off with the President’s decision to move 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and soon after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti. Mobility Air Forces responded immediately to the crisis, just as you did this summer in support of Pakistani flood relief efforts. In addition, we set airdrop records in Afghanistan providing a crucial lifeline to our ground forces, while our tankers helped provide a canopy of protection over our troops, and aeromedical evacuation crews brought our wounded warriors home. Chief Spector and I look back with admiration on the amazing work you’ve done and thank each and every member of our Active Duty, Guard, Reserve and Civilian team for their hard work and sacrifices.

You are the reason we’re always effective, and it’s critical that we continue to look out for one another during this holiday season. Please, take time to use sound risk management, especially when driving. Alcohol, excessive speed, and weather remain key contributors to accidents this time of year. So remain vigilant and have a plan beforehand and stick to it -- Take extra time if needed. Remember that AMC’s Holiday Safety Campaign has many good tips and tools for you to use -- see your unit safety rep for details.

While we celebrate the holiday season with family and friends, please think about those who are deployed and can’t be with their loved ones this year. They’re a long way from home protecting the freedoms we hold so dear with families eagerly awaiting their return.

Diana and I wish a safe return for our deployed Airmen and wish all of you and your families a very joyous holiday season and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

COMMENTARY>>Our part in history

By Maj. Dennis Higuera

314th Maintenance Operations Squadron commander

Tuesday marked the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. On that fateful morning of Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet docked there. Unprepared for war, we entered World War II.

Like our nation, the U.S. Army Air Corps was unprepared for war. But those early Airmen, our forefathers, stepped up to the challenge and transformed the Air Corps into the mighty U.S. Army Air Force. From the legendary Doolittle Raiders to the Tuskegee Airmen, they proved the importance of air power to warfare, leading to an independent Air Force.

We in the airlift business can also look back proudly at the exploits of our airlifting forefathers. Prior to World War II, air transport was basically a ferrying command, delivering U.S.-built aircraft to Great Britain under the Lend-Lease Act. When the demands of combat in WWII challenged our airlift capabilities, those early airlifters met the challenge and developed airlift into a major force. From the airdrops that launched the Normandy invasion to the resupply of the “Beleaguered Bastards of Bastogne,” combat airlift showed it was an integral part of air power. Throughout our history, from Khe Sanh during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam to the first Gulf War, we can look back with pride upon the great examples of combat airlift.

Here’s a date that won’t go down in history but signifies our part in history here at the Rock: Nov. 29. That’s the date C-130E tail number 62-1788 was inducted into the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., to retire. Indeed this plane has a story to tell, especially its last mission in Vietnam. On the last day of the war, 62-1788 and its crew encountered heavy enemy fire on a mission to Dalat - Cam Lai. Despite more than 400 holes from shrapnel, the rugged bird enabled the crew to complete their mission, earning crew members the Silver Star Medal. But not only does 62-1788 tie us to our history, it also signifies the fact that history continues.

As we retire our venerable C-130Es and remember their exploits, it’s important not to get stuck looking back. For while we remember our proud past, we must continuously look forward to our future and know we build our history one day at a time.

We come into work every day, professional Airmen, eager to accomplish our mission. This is the attitude that drives our future. It’s no different than those who walked before us. They didn’t think about their place in history, they just did their job the best they could in order to accomplish the mission.

So, as you go about your duties, whether performing training missions here or combat missions overseas, know you’re not just accomplishing the mission - you’re building our part in history.

The successes of today are our collective accomplishments tomorrow, continuing our rich and proud heritage that will continue to inspire future generations of the greatest air and space power the world has ever known.

TOP STORY > >314th AW C-130E retires to Arizona ‘62 vintage ‘Herc’ one of 16 set to go

By Capt. Joe Knable

19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Little Rock Air Force Base C-130E aircraft 62-1788 made its last scheduled flight Nov. 29, to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base’s 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, the aircraft retirement “bone yard,” in Arizona.

Built in 1962, the aircraft’s storied history includes supporting major operations in Vietnam from 1967-1973, such as the Tet Offensive.

The aircraft commander, 314th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Mark Czelusta, wanted to be part of this flight. “At the surface it looks like any other cross-(contiguous-U.S.) mission,” he said. “But to a career C-130 pilot like me, I can’t help but feel nostalgic -- and honored -- to fly a plane on its last flight.”

“(This aircraft) is just as much an Airman as I am,” remarked Tech. Sgt. Ken Williams, a 62nd Airlift Squadron instructor flight engineer, for the aircraft’s final flight. Several other crewmembers echoed similar sentiments.

The aircraft’s assignments include the 1608th Air Transport Wing at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., from 1964 to 1965; the 516th Troop Carrier Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, from 1966 to 1967; the 314th and 374th Tactical Airlift Wings at Ching Chuan Kang Air Base, Taiwan, from 1967 to 1968 and 1969 to 1973, respectively; the West Air Virginia National Guard’s 130th Tactical Airlift Squadron from 1974 to 1985; and finally the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 154th Training Squadron and then with 314th Airlift Wing at Little Rock AFB from 1986 until Nov. 29, according to 314th Airlift Wing historian Chris Rumley.

In all, this C-130E flew 31,565.5 hours, said Capt. Greg Steenberge, 314th Airlift Wing assistant executive officer and the aircraft’s last copilot.

The aircraft was scheduled to fly until three to five days before the crew departed for Arizona, said Col. Adam Dickerson, 314th Maintenance Group commander, an experienced maintenance officer who has worked with the C-130 for 14 years. “I’m coming to the end of my career and these Herks are coming to the end of their careers, so it means a lot.”

The colonel recalled how 19th Airlift Wing commander Col. Mike Minihan, who recently trained with the 314th AW after assuming command of the base, asked if the maintainers did anything special for him because the scores-old planes looked and performed so well. Colonel Minihan’s planes received the same treatment that a first lieutenant initial qualification course student received, Colonel Dickerson explained.

“The maintainers have really done an outstanding job” of keeping the Es in excellent condition,” said Maj. Justin Barry, 314th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander.

“It’s a point of pride with the E model guys ... It’s a pilot’s aircraft. It’s a maintenance guy’s aircraft,” Colonel Dickerson said in response to a civilian reporter’s question.

“It’s supreme in the tactical airlift mission it was created for,” said Major Barry.

After scores of service around the world, aircraft 62-1788 joined several thousand other Department of Defense aircraft in the dusty Arizona bone yard including models from a 1952 EB-57 Canberra to B-1B Lancers and others still flown today.

As he drove through row after row of the more than 4,000 aircraft at AMARG, Colonel Czelusta pointed out specific C-130E models he flew during various assignments. He has flown C-130s his entire career.

The initial resting place for nearly all Department of Defense aircraft upon retirement, AMARG, “is a one-of-a-kind specialized facility within the Air Force Materiel Command structure,” according to the group’s Web site. “309 AMARG provides critical aerospace maintenance and regeneration capabilities for joint and allied/coalition warfighters in support of global operations and agile combat support for a wide range of military operations.”

Aircraft sent to AMARG are put into several types of storage, depending on their scheduled disposition, which can include being used for spare parts, being sold to foreign governments or museums, or being used as drones, to name a few options. Aircraft 62-1788 is scheduled to be used for spare parts, according to AMARG officials.

After retiring aircraft 62-1788, there are 15 C-130Es left in the 314th AW’s fleet. Aircraft 62-1788 was retired as part of a strategic Air Force effort to modernize its C-130 fleet with C-130J and C-130H AMP aircraft to meet the needs of today’s warfighters in a more efficient, cost-effective way.

The final aircraft to beretired, the 314th AW flagship, aircraft 62-1855, is scheduled to be retired at AMARG in September 2011 for the second time, said Major Barry.

The aircraft was retired once before at AMARG, in December 2002, and remained there until January 2005. In February 2005, the aircraft was brought back to active service and assigned to the 62nd AS, said Mr. Rumley.

Colonel Czelusta plans to be part of the crew that flies the flagship to its retirement, he said.

“The greater story is the upcoming retirement of the entire E-model fleet by the end of (fiscal year 2011.)” Colonel Czelusta explained. “These E-models have served us so very well. Prior to our beginning specialized training in the J-model, every C-130 crewmember in the active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command began their mission-qualifying training in the E-model. Their first experiences were shaped by the 314th AW and its sturdy fleet of E-models. “

The C-130E’s service history is extensive, the colonel explained. “The E-model fleet served our nation so very well throughout the Cold War, in Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Somalia, Haiti (1994), Bosnia, and during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. They were there for scores of humanitarian, counterdrug, and diplomatic missions as well. Our servicemen and women typically enter and exit combat zones in the C-130. And many of our fallen heroes began their final journey home in an E-model.”

Colonel Czelusta also mentioned Joint Task Force Full Accounting, which was established in 1992 to search for the Americans who served in Vietnam and remain unaccounted for, “leveraged the flexibility of the C-130 fleet as it brought our repatriated heroes home, as well.”

The end of U.S. C-130E operations, however, is near. “It’s hard to believe that by September, the (Air Force) will no longer fly these venerable planes,” Colonel Czelusta said. “With more than 35,000 hours on each airframe, each tail number developed its own personality over the years. The newer C-130Hs and the most advanced C-130Js are doing phenomenally well, and they will certainly develop their own personalities over time; many already have. But the E-model fleet is special. They are like family members to the men and women who maintain and fly them.”

Friday, December 3, 2010

TOP STORY >> Prevent holiday crime with these tips

By Capt. G. Scott Patton
19th Security Forces Squadron

The winter months aren’t necessarily thought of as a high crime season; however, as many people are finishing their holiday shopping and preparing travel plans, thieves are taking advantage of this time to look for targets of opportunity. Members from the 19th Security Forces Squadron remind Team Little Rock members to remain vigilant and not become complacent during the holiday season. Basic crime prevention techniques can help keep Airmen and their families safe through the holiday season.

“Shoppers should continue to park in well lit parking lots during hours of darkness,” said Senior Master Sgt. Mark Evans, 19th SFS operations superintendent. “Lock your vehicle and make sure the windows are closed. If approached at your vehicle, do not do anything that would put yourself or your family in danger.

“If people are shopping alone and don’t feel safe returning to their vehicle, they should ask an employee or store security member to escort them back,” he added.

Sergeant Evans recommends while out shopping lock valuable items in the trunks of cars and out of view of passersby. He also reminds people to secure their vehicle at home as well, following the same rules as at a store.

“Crime prevention is also important at home,” said Sergeant Evans. “One easy tip is to keep exterior lights on at night along with locking all your doors and windows when not at home. Know your neighborhood and watch for unfamiliar vehicles or people loitering in the area.”

Home security is especially necessary when leaving the home or travelling, according to Sergeant Evans.

“If you are going to be away from home for an extended period of time, have someone periodically check your house and put a hold on your mail and newspaper or have someone pick them up daily,” he said.

Despite taking every precaution possible, 19th SFS officials warn that people may still become a victim or witness of a crime. To report any suspicious activity or crimes in progress, call the 19th SFS law enforcement desk at 987-3221 or the Crime Stop line at 987-6600. When reporting a crime, have detailed information on subjects or items stolen ready to pass on to law enforcement officials.

TOP STORY >> Airmen travel to Rwanda, teach maintenance management skills

By John Ingle
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Members of the Rwanda air force paid a visit to the leaders in C-130 maintenance training at the 373rd Training Squadron Det. 4 at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., which is part of the 982nd Training Group here, which turned into a follow up visit for two Det. 4 members to help build up the fledgling air force.

Capt. Brian DeBruhl, the 373rd TRS Det. 4 commander, and Tech. Sgt. Brandon Macken, a 373rd TRS Det. 4 instructor, traveled to Rwanda Sept. 13 through 17 to discuss the intricacies of maintenance and logistics and conduct a maintenance management training course with the Rwandan air force.

Rwandan air force leaders are exploring the possibility of expanding their rotary-wing only air force to include fixed-wing assets.

“They (have) the opportunity to write the future of their air force,” Captain DeBruhl said. “They are the (Eddie) Rickenbackers and (Hap) Arnolds of their air force.”

Captain DeBruhl said the Rwanda air force has the capability to maintain aircraft.

He described the air force as battle tested, a result of years of civil war and the horrific genocide of the mid-90s that claimed the lives of more than one million people.

“Think about how our Air Force grew up,” the captain said, describing the maturation from the Wright Flyer to current technologies such as stealth aircraft. “They’re definitely eager to get to that level too.”

The first step to achieving that status began in August when members of the Rwanda air force toured maintenance and logistics facilities at the detachment and the 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock AFB. Captain DeBruhl described the Rwandan officers as “kids at a candy store” because of the enormity of the operation and what it takes to support 90 aircraft at the base.

Those basic processes that are taught to U.S. Air Force Airmen from their first day of training is what’s missing from the Rwanda air force, Sergeant Macken said.

“Their air force is at its infancy, so they don’t have those (standard operating procedures),” he said. “They know what they want, they just don’t know how to get there.”

The captain and sergeant traveled to Rwanda in September to help the Rwanda air force begin its journey down the road to becoming the air force it wants to be. What the two found when they arrived was a capable, but unorganized operation.

“They know how to operate,” he said. “They know how to keep their aircraft technically working.”

Captain DeBruhl and Sergeant Macken toured the Rwanda air force’s facilities and adapted their training course to fit the need of the customer.

Captain DeBruhl said they were able to identify specific areas the Rwanda air force could improve and do it at little to no cost.

Some of those ideas included using a chit system to track various tools to repair an aircraft. The Rwanda air force, at the time of the visit, didn’t have a mechanism in place to complete this simple task.

They also recommend the Rwanda air force cross train their maintainers to provide more flexibility within the air force.

Sergeant Macken said he felt the overall experience with the Rwandan air force was a success.
“Though our military cultures are very different, we shared a common goal to make both our air forces better,” he said. “While they learned from us how to better manage their fleet, I learned from them not to take so much for granted. The 16 individuals we worked with that week will shape the future of the Rwandan air force, and it was an honor to be a part of that.”

TOP STORY >> Partners – not communists

By Col. Mark G. Czelusta
314th Airlift Wing commander

As part of our ongoing discussion on leadership themes, we looked at standards that are high and without apology. Prior to that, we examined mission as theme number one. Today, I would like to discuss our third leadership theme: Partnerships.

Our mission is either pointless or impossible without them. Pointless because we must be responsive to our Air Force and joint partners’ needs. We don’t fly large formations over Central Arkansas or combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan without reason. We execute our mission to provide training to front line units and to meet the combat needs of our joint and coalition partners. It makes logical sense then that we form bonds with our customers to meet their needs.
Likewise these planes cannot launch without the teams of maintainers and support organizations that provide the mission ready iron and infrastructure required for success. This consideration answers the “impossible” aspect.

We all understand this, but I challenge you to take “partnerships” a step further and to execute your daily mission with the understanding that there are no communists in our military. I’ll explain.

Throughout the 75 years communism held its grip on Eastern Europe, communist leaders used assumptions of evil to create a distinct us-versus-them mentality. They regularly argued there were circles of individuals that wanted nothing more than pain and misfortune to fall upon the world. However, just the opposite was underway. While the democratic world was enjoying the benefits of intellectual partnerships, the communist world was falling farther behind. Granted, this is a simplification. But the free world can attribute much of its prosperity to shared creativity and open communication. Communism can point to the opposite as one reason for its demise.

How often have we used similar assumptions and arguments as leadership techniques? How often have we failed to assume goodness on behalf of our partners, preferring rather to argue that these people are somehow lazy, incompetent, or simply disruptive, and for no other reason than to see our own organizations work harder, or worse, fail?

Have we ever said that the ‘X’ Squadron or person ‘Y’ just doesn’t “get the mission?” That they just want to have another day off rather than put in a little extra effort? That they are saying “no” or being uncooperative because they don’t really care? Have we argued that folks asking for latitude somehow consider themselves above the rules? Maybe we even suggested they lack integrity.

The reality is every day across Team Little Rock, we see professionals completely committed, maintaining high standards and doing whatever it takes to get the mission done safely, effectively and legally. So then why do we get emotional and prepare to engage in a fight based upon this argument?

This situation is almost completely due to a failure to communicate. We all know “where you stand is based upon where you sit.” But even that quip diminishes the fact we are all empowered to overcome our differences. Communication is not just voicing your own ideas. Effective communication requires active listening as well. We need to not only see the situation from our perspective, but also consider it from the alternative view.

Taking the time to “slam” the alternate party, while providing us the immediate comfort of self-righteousness, rarely contributes to solving the problem at hand and never contributes to a long term partnership. To the contrary, it puts commanders into the role of defending their unit’s honor. Often a senior leader has to intervene, bringing embarrassment to both parties. All this results in reduced possibilities of open communication and shared creativity. Teambuilding opportunities are lost. And in the end, our Air Force mission may be limited.

If you are a service provider, don’t be so wedded to your processes that you overlook an opportunity for improvement just because an outsider has a different idea. Don’t be in a hurry to say “no.” Think of ways to help these folks out within the rules. If you are a customer, remember there may be specific rules--or just a good reason--against your proposal. Remember our partners are great Americans, answering their nation’s call to serve in a difficult environment. Strengthen these partnerships; have a reasonable, non-combative, two-way conversation ... for our mission is both pointless and impossible without them.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

COMMENTARY>>Arnold Drive earns Blue Ribbon for overall excellence

Arnold Drive Elementary School was one of 314 schools across the country recently recognized as a 2010 National Blue Ribbon School.

The school is also one of four in Arkansas to receive the coveted award.

During a recognition event attended by base and community leaders Monday at the school, Col. Mike Minihan, 19th Airlift Wing commander, said students, parents and teachers are part of the “Triangle of Excellence” and praised them for their accomplishments.

“Arnold Drive Elementary is creating the future of service and excellence,” said Colonel Minihan. “We always knew the quality of this school and now everyone knows.”

The Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and private schools meeting the criteria of being ranked among the state’s highest performing schools based on state assessments.

“The award honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools whose students consistently achieve at very high levels or have made significant progress and helped close gaps in achievement especially among disadvantaged and minority students,” said Terry Shaw, 19th Force Support Squadron school liaison officer. “Since 1982, the U.S. Department of Education has sought out schools where students attain and maintain high academic goals, including those that beat the odds.”

School officials see the award not as a pinnacle of success, but the start of greater things to come.

“Last year the school ranked fifth in Arkansas,” said Julie Davenport, Arnold Drive Elementary School principal. “The teachers and administration were challenged to surpass their previous achievement and they went above and beyond. This staff demands success.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan honored the National Blue Ribbon Schools Nov. 16, 2010, during an awards luncheon in Washington, D.C.

(From compiled reports)

COMMENTARY>>Message of thanks

As we enter the holiday season, I find myself reflecting on the many blessings for which I am thankful. I give thanks for the love and support of my family, the many joys of the season, for the opportunity to work with the wonderful members of Team Little Rock and for the freedoms we Americans enjoy.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a declaration that a day of “Thanksgiving” would be held on the last Thursday of November. At the height of the Civil War, President Lincoln proclaimed, “The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart ... In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict ... Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship ... and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving ... And I recommend to them that (they also) commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable ... strife in which we are unavoidably engaged ...”

My time in the Air Force has given me many opportunities to travel to other countries and to explore other cultures. I can say truthfully, that of all the countries I have seen, none holds the promise and opportunity of our great nation. Our nation was founded on the sanctity of individual rights and the freedom to pursue our goals, aspirations and desires. What a precious gift with whichto be presented. I find myself humbled and thankful for the incredible foresight and strength of purpose our forebears demonstrated during the fledgling days of our country. I am equally humbled by the dedication and sacrifice I see freely given every day by family, in the community, on base and throughout the world as Americans strive to continue to improve our nation and assist others around the globe.

I hope you find time this holiday season to relax and enjoy good company, good memories and good food with those you love. I am keenly aware that many families have members serving in other parts of the country and overseas who will not be able to gather with them this year. It is because of their service we are able to enjoy the holidays as we do. To all those families we owe special thanks. Freedom is not free. America is the “land of the free” because of the brave.

Thank you for all you do and God bless.

TOP STORY > >Prevention strategies for cold and flu

As “cold and flu season” approaches, the 19th Medical Group has a few tips to help people minimize their risk of catching or spreading respiratory viruses such as the flu or common cold.

Although cold and flu activity remains low at this time, early prevention can decrease the impact of these illnesses in future months, according to base medical officials.

“The most effective method to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year and wash your hands often. Good habits such ascovering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze and washing your hands with soap and water frequently can also help stop the spread of viruses and prevent illnesses like colds and the flu,” said Lt. Col. Robert Grant, 19th Medical Group chief of aerospace medicine and public health emergency officer.

Here are a few simple tips to help stop the spread of viruses:

1. Limit close contact

Limit close contact with people who are sick. When a person is sick, they should keep their distance from others to protect them from getting sick also.

2. Stay home when sick

If possible, stay home from work and school, and avoid running errands when sick. This will help prevent others from catching the illness. Depending on the illness, people may need an additional day or two at home after they feel well. Airmen should contact their supervisor to obtain permission to stay home until they’re feeling better, or call the appointment line at 987-8811 to obtain authorization for quarters.

3. Cover mouth and nose

People should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around them from getting sick.

4. Clean hands

Washing hands often with soap and water will help protect people from viruses. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

5. Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth

Viruses are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.

6. Practice other healthy habits to keep a strong immune system

Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

For more information, visit these Web sites provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

(Courtesy of the 19th Medical Group)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

COMMENTARY>>Never miss an opportunity

Never miss an opportunity to have a positive impact on someone’s life.

In today’s Air Force, we find ourselves extremely busy - deploying; fixing, loading and flying aircraft, processing travel vouchers, making new ID cards; preparing for the next inspection - the list goes on. Even in our busy lives, we must find the time to impart our wealth of knowledge and experiences onto our younger airmen to help shape their futures. We may not realize the impact we make just by spending a few valuable moments with someone looking for direction.

During my first tour as an instructor pilot at the Flight Training Unit, I was able to fly an aircraft to Texas for an airshow static display. During the flight, I began asking questions in hopes of finding out a little bit about each crewmember. I got to know more about our young staff sergeant crew chief and continued to ask what his future plans were in the Air Force. He said he thought about trying to become a flight engineer, but was happy to stay a crew chief and retire after 20 years in the military.

His response frustrated me and I proceeded to throw my helmet bag back at him, and told him if he had no other ambition in the world than to stay in the same job he was in, he could get off my flight deck and ride in the back of the plane. My intent was not to disparage maintenance or even to praise operators, but to highlight that everyone must continue to strive for more in life; otherwise, we find ourselves stagnating. Throughout the weekend, we continued to discuss available opportunities and what steps were necessary to go down certain paths.

Five years later, I returned for my second FTU tour, and as usual, during a walkthrough of the squadron, I met the new folks and got reacquainted with others I had not seen for a while. As you spend more time in the service, the names and faces and places sometimes get jumbled. I was greeted by a master sergeant whose name and face looked familiar, but I could not place where we had served together. During our discussion, I admitted I didn’t remember where we had flown together, and his reply shocked me. That young crew chief decided he would take a chance and went on to become a flight engineer and was back as an instructor in the FTU. He reminded me of the helmet bag incident and explained it was that event that forced him to look at his future and what he wanted to accomplish.

My actions that day were nothing spectacular. I was merely pushing an individual to continue to work hard and not stagnate. But to that staff sergeant, it was the trigger event that propelled him to a new job and new experiences.

No matter what paths we have taken in our careers, someone else has travelled that same road before us. Search out those that have gone before us, and take the time to share our experiences with those who will follow in our footsteps. And never miss an opportunity to have a positive impact on someone’s life.

COMMENTARY>>Chief promotion lists

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) – Air Force officials selected 504 of 2,287 eligible senior master sergeants for promotion to chief master sergeant, for a selection rate of 22.04 percent.

The average score for those selected was 661.37, with an average time in grade of 3.33 years and time in service of 23.30 years, respectively. The average score was based on the following point averages: 135 for enlisted performance reports, 24.49 for decorations, 70.24 for the Air Force supervisory exam and 381.46 board score.

The chief master sergeant promotion was released publicly Thursday, at 8 a.m., on the Air Force Personnel Center's public website. Airmen can access theirscore notices at the same time on the Virtual Military Personnel Flight and the Air Force Portal.

Those selected for chief master sergeant will be promoted according to their promotion sequence number beginning January 2011.

The promotion release using the Web is one of the many technological initiatives AFPC has taken to effectively deliver personnel services, allowing Airmen around the world 24-hour access.

Another tool recently developed is an online video that offers senior NCOs a comprehensive look at the complete central evaluation board process.

"The senior NCO evaluation board video provides a look into how an evaluation board is conducted, from the date the board convenes to its adjournment," said Maj. Tammy Schlichenmaier, a recorder for the Air Force Selection Board Secretariat. "The video will help demystify the board process and provide Air Force senior NCOs a firsthand look at procedures used to conduct an evaluation board."

The video includes information on board member demographics, the Air Force chief of staff's formal charge, board member responsibilities and overall board processes and procedures.

"This video will assist Airmen in better understanding the board process, so when their record meets the board they will know they are receiving a fair and equitable consideration for promotion," said Col. Jaimie Pease, the chief of Air Force Selection Board Secretariat.

For more information about the promotion board video, visit the AFPC Personnel Services website at and type "4953" in the search engine. Airmen can also contact the Total Force Service Center at 800-525-0102.

(Courtesy of Air Force Personnel, Service and Manpower Public Affairs)

COMMENTARY>>New commander takes reins of AETC

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Gen. Edward A. Rice took command of Air Education and Training Command from Gen. Stephen R. Lorenz during a ceremony here Wednesday.

“The set of activities for which the United States Air Force is responsible is extremely complex,” said General Rice, who previously commanded U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force. “Finding and developing the types of men and women who cannot only execute these activities in today’s highly dynamic environment, but who can shape the future in a way that allows us to continue to be dominate in the years ahead is a breathtaking responsibility.”

AETC, headquartered in San Antonio, is the Air Force major command responsible for recruiting, training and educating America’s Airmen through innovation. With an assigned force of more than 70,000 active-duty Airmen, Reservists and civilians, AETC trains and educates more than 340,000 American and international students each year on bases throughout the country.

“What we do here matters a great deal,” General Rice said. “I am honored to join your team today as we continue to meet the vital mission of recruiting and developing the Airmen who will keep our Air Force and Nation strong today, and tomorrow.”

A distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1978, General Rice is a command pilot with more than 3,900 flying hours. He has considerable experience in combat and contingency operations, including commanding bomber operations during the first four months of Operation Enduring Freedom as the commander of the 28th Air Expeditionary Wing. He also served as commander of the Air Force Recruiting Service.

(Courtesy of AETC Public Affairs)

TOP STORY > >189th AW family named Guard’s best

Senior Master Sgt. Duane Moore, 189th Airlift Wing Operations Support Flight, and his family were presented the Air National Guard Family of the Year award Aug. 2 in New Orleans, La.

The Moore family is truly an involved Guard family. All five members of the Moore family have been involved within some area of the Air National Guard Family Program.

The Family Program is a way for the Air National Guard to bring military families together and get them involved in various programs such as the Key Spouses.

Sergeant Moore and his two youngest children, Kyle and Eden, have been very involved in the annual food and toy drives.

“Their assistance with food and toy drives has allowed the Family Program to impact the lives of several wing/GSU families by providing valuable donations to many local charities,” said Stephanie Wynn, 189th Airlift Wing Family Program manager.

Sergeant Moore’s daughter, Dara, was a fundamental player in the formation of the wing’s youth group. Since the group’s inception, she has been an active member by attending meetings, participating in activities and working on the various community service projects in which the group gets involved.

Lisa Moore, Sergeant Moore’s wife, not only attends Family Readiness Group meetings, but she quite often instructs the training. She also developed a Financial Readiness program and provided briefings and training for the wing as well as several individual squadrons, upon the commander’s request.

“The 189th [AW] has provided a working environment for Duane that has been wonderful for our family, and we want to give back to the wing because of this,” said Mrs. Moore. “On a personal level, I have a passion for making sure our military families are fiscally healthy. Finances affect every area of our lives, including military careers and the ability to carry out the mission without the distractions that financial stress entails.”

In addition to all of the support this family provides to the Arkansas National Guard, they’re also extremely involved in their community and church.

Mrs. Wynn says, “This family is the epitome of an involved National Guard family. Their dedicated work has helped improve the lives of many Guard families.”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

COMMENTARY>>Kicking the habit: Snuffing out tobacco

Team Little Rock members will have extra support to quit tobacco use Monday during the base’s observance of the Great American Smokeout.

An information booth will be set up in the fitness center lobby from 8 to 9 a.m. and 2 to 3 p.m., said Kim Dean, 19th Aerospace Medicine Squadron health promotion educator.

“We’re going to show the hazards of tobacco use and inform people about our tobacco cessation program,” Ms. Dean said.

“Quit kits” will be handed out to encourage tobacco users to kick the habit. Kits include an information booklet, bookmark and chewing gum.

The goal is to go 24 hours without using tobacco, said Ms. Dean.

“We’re hoping people will think ‘If I can do it for 24 hours, then maybe I can do it for 48 or even 72 hours or more ... maybe this is something I can really do,’” she said.

Ms. Dean also said staying a “quitter” is the most difficult part of snuffing out tobacco use.

“Many of our Airmen may quit before they deploy, but with the level of stress [in the area of responsibility] they start back,” she said. “People are successful at quitting, but ‘staying quit’ is a difficult task. For some individuals, it may take three to 10 times before they can actually quit and ‘stay quit.’”

Team Little Rock’s observance of the Great American Smokeout is for all three wings including all active-duty Airmen, retirees and their families. Even non-users can participate.

“[Non-users] can do things such as adopt a smoker or encourage someone to quit smoking, dipping or chewing,” said Ms. Dean.

Statistics show nearly a third of the base population use tobacco products.

“Tobacco usage on Little Rock Air Force Base is 29.3 percent (approximately 4,000) from metrics reported from the dental clinic,” said Ms. Dean.

The national observance of the Great American Smokeout is Thursday.

For more information or tips on quitting smoking and chewing, visit

COMMENTARY>>Hangout gets makeover

The base’s newly renovated Youth Center, located at Bldg. 1992, celebrated its grand reopening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 9.

“This is a great example of turning an idea into action, into support that Airmen and families can feel from the get go,” said Col. Mike Minihan, 19th Airlift Wing commander.

The goal of the Youth Center is to offer a place for children age 9 to 18 to make new friends, discover new interests, develop into productive citizens and have fun.

“Little Rock Air Force Base’s greatest treasure is the Airmen, NCOs and officers that maintain and fly our nation’s airplanes,” said Timothy Perkins, 19th Force Support Squadron fitness center superintendent. “Their greatest treasure is their families. Those families share the unusual burdens of the military life and these shared sacrifices bind them together in the ever strong heritage of the military family.”

The overall mission of the youth programs is the care and well being of the children of Team Little Rock.

According to the 19th Force Support Squadron Web site, the Youth Center has a wide variety of activities planned everyday that will fulfill the needs of anybody that walks through the door. The staff focuses on five main categories when planning the programs, which are: character and leadership development; education and career development; health and life skills; the arts; informal youth sports; and fitness and recreation.

The center’s re-launch coincides with Comprehensive Airman Fitness, promoting positive behaviors and holistic health.

“For you all to take an older building, to give it new vision, new life, and refurbish it in the manner that you did is not only the right thing to do by our Airmen and our families but it’s the right thing to do by our servant leaders,” said Colonel Minihan.

The recreation hours of operation at the Youth Center are 3 - 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 2 - 7:30 p.m. Saturdays. The annual membership is $20 or $2 a day. For more information, call the Youth Center at 987-6355.

COMMENTARY>>Yacht Club reunion

While the surrounding communities of Little Rock AFB enjoyed the Thunderbirds screaming overhead, the Golden Nights silently falling from the sky as our National Anthem played, and a multitude of other attractions that came with this year’s “Thunder Over the Rock” airshow, behind the scenes another time honored tradition took place.

On Oct. 8, the 62nd Airlift Squadron hosted the annual “Yacht Club” reunion. Originating in 1971 as a means to bring the members of the 62nd Troop Carrier Squadron together, it has since opened its alumnus to the men and women of the 62nd who have participated in combat and contingency operations ranging from WWII, to Korea, to Vietnam up through and including current operations and finally the Airmen whose current mission is to produce the finest legacy C-130 Combat Airlift aircrews in the world.

In June of 1944 Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower implemented the invasion of France, codenamed Operation Overlord, with a key supporting operation named Operation Neptune providing the insertion of airborne forces behind enemy lines. Composed of 925 aircraft and six regiments of paratroopers from both the 82nd and the 101st Airborne Divisions, more than 13,000 men took off from England to conduct what would be the first night-time airborne insertion of troops.

Imbedded within this mass operation were 18 C-47 aircraft, 78 commissioned officers and 241 enlisted men of the 314th Troop Carrier Group, 62nd TCS, operating out of Saltby Field, England. As such, “Thunder Over the Rock”, and the hospitality of the Thunderbirds opening up their VIP tent, treated the visiting World War II warriors to a front row surprise as a large formation of C-130 Es and Hs airdropped approximately 350 paratroopers from the 82nd, reminiscent of the 62nd TCS’s role in airdropping the 82nd Airborne into their designated drop zone during the Normandy invasion.

It was a distinct pleasure to see the warriors who laid the foundation of Combat Airlift regale the newest generation of airlifters with their memories of flying in Operations Overlord, Neptune and Market Garden while surrounded by the newest weapon systems that have long since replaced the C-47. In turn, the newest generation explained to these heroes how the lessons, tactics, techniques and procedures, developed over six decades, evolved with technology to enable the aerial delivery of supplies from over 10,000 feet with a delivery precision of up to 50 meters through the advent of GPS guided parachutes. Listening to the various generations of airlifters compare notes, it became apparent that technology was the only difference in the ability to provide time-critical supplies to airborne forces – whether they were surrounded by the German army in the Ardennes forest, or US Special Forces operating in remote locations in Afghanistan.

The heritage of the United States Air Force, though in its infancy compared to sister services, is one full of warriors, tales of bravery, and as shown by the gathering of four brothers of the 62nd TCS who travelled as far as 1,000 miles to gather with Combat Airlifters of the past, present and future a testament to the profound legacy and importance of the mission of tactical airlift.

Thank you to Jack Downhill, Bill Hyden, Ben Setliff, and Ted (Tex) Walters, original members of the 62nd TCS who made the trip to spend time with each other, as well as the men and women of the 62nd AS. It’s a true honor to have hosted such a fine group of warriors, friends and guests who travelled great distances to not be thanked, but to say “thank you” for allowing them to be a member of the “Yacht Club.”

TOP STORY > >C-47 dedication

Every major era of combat airlift is now represented at Heritage Park with the addition of a C-47 Skytrain static aircraft, the workhorse airlifter of World War II.

The Team Little Rock Airmen who worked for several months repairing and repainting the C-47 to match its June 1944 D-Day paint scheme christened the aircraft Wednesday during the Veterans Day Retreat ceremony in memory of all veterans.

“Particularly those Combat Airlifters who carried the paratroopers to their designated drop zones under enemy fire, then resupplied and maneuvered American troops across Europe in the last days of the Second World War. For their service and sacrifice, we are eternally grateful,” said Senior Master Sgt. Robert Russell, 48th Airlift Squadron.

The U.S. Army Air Corps ordered its first C-47s in 1940, and by the end of World War II, procured a total of 9,348. These C-47s carried personnel and cargo around the globe. They also towed troop-carrying gliders, dropped paratroops into enemy territory, and air evacuated sick or wounded patients. A C-47 could carry 28 passengers, 18-22 fully equipped paratroopers, about 6,000 lbs. of cargo or 18 stretchers and three medical personnel.

“We, Combat Airlifters, all trace our lineage back to the C-47. There are seven squadrons on base whose heritage is based partially on this aircraft,” said Chris Rumley, 314th Airlift Wing historian. “All seven active-duty flying squadrons flew this plane during World War II.”

The base now has at least one airlift aircraft representing every major era the base’s squadrons flew in: World War II (the C-47), Korea (the C-119), Vietnam (the C-123 and C-130), and the modern era (the bases’ two static C-130s, in addition to the 84 operating C-130s assigned to the base.)

(Courtesy of the 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

COMMENTARY>>High Standards – No Apologies!

By Col. Mark Czelusta
314th Airlift Wing commander

Last month we discussed our perspective on the mission as leadership theme No. 1. As you recall, our mission is one that we take personally as a reflection of individual contributions to our Air Force during these challenging times. For the 314th Airlift Wing, that sense is embodied in the phrase, “Everyone is an instructor.”

Let’s springboard off this perspective and talk about our second leadership theme: standards. Our standards are high and without apology.

I know we have all heard it and we all have even fallen into the trap of repeating it: “The minimum wouldn’t be the minimum if it wasn’t good enough.” Few phrases are more corrosive to a unit’s success. For us as Airmen, the minimum is largely irrelevant, for our core value of excellence demands that we always perform to our best with a sense of “raising the bar.” Never forget the 314th Airlift Wing prides itself as being a “Center of Excellence” and not the “Center of Satisfactory.”

Oftentimes, discussions of standards become mired in emotion – and for no good reason. The way physical fitness testing has become a lightening rod is just one example. Let’s be clear: haircuts, uniform wear, customs and courtesies, and physical fitness matter ... they are standards and indicators of the sense of pride, professionalism and spirit within a unit. A unit that looks and conducts itself with high standards in these areas will probably accomplish its mission well, too. Sadly, the opposite is also true. Bottom line: through my 21 years of service, I have not seen this rule proven otherwise and I don’t expect any changes soon.

But don’t forget that, particularly when it comes to our daily tasks as operators, maintainers and mission support professionals, standards also include items such as tech order and regulatory compliance, communication skills, checklist discipline and so on. Never let someone say compliance hinders mission accomplishment. To the contrary, compliance guarantees mission accomplishment. By the way, compliance is inherently safe too.

Standards include our professional ethics. And again, the minimum standard is irrelevant when compared to doing what is right.

Just because something is “allowed” doesn’t always mean it is right. I encourage everyone to remember this when we write performance reports, file travel vouchers and make official – and unofficial – statements.

Finally, standards are self-sufficient and independent of relativism. Unit “X’s” or base “Y’s” failure to uphold a standard or simply pursue the minimum does not at all suggest we should follow suit. Society’s abandonment of a certain ethic means little to us. One example is performance reporting. You are not “ruining” anyone’s career by fairly, accurately and uniformly reporting on individual performance against high standards. When it comes to our role in this process, I will always argue for “standards inflation” over “EPR/OPR inflation.” Parallels to this example can be drawn in all areas of professional, technical and ethical standards. For us at Team Little Rock, standards well beyond the minimum are not the “target” or some “goal,” they are the expectation. In the end, what goes on in other units or bases when it comes to standards falls squarely in the category of “interesting, but not compelling.”

If you think about it, standards are the Air Force’s way of demonstrating concretely that our contribution matters. If our contribution didn’t matter, there wouldn’t be a standard against it. Don’t be afraid of standards beyond the minimum ... embrace them, stick to them and enforce them. Safe, effective and decisive mission accomplishment – and deep pride – will no doubt follow.

COMMENTARY>>Respecting reveille

Each morning the night sky fades away, and as dawn breaks on Little Rock Air Force Base, a familiar sound is met with equally familiar greetings. Starting this month reveille found itself echoed by “To the Colors”, a not uncommon pairing. We use this pairing as an opportunity to pay respect to our nation’s flag; and a glimpse back reveals that reveille has long been a part of military tradition.

According to the web site, the word “reveille” originated in medieval times, around 1600, to wake the soldiers at dawn. The name comes from “réveille” (or “réveil”), the French word for “wake up.”

Reveille was first used by the U.S. military in 1812 and was used to muster units or as a means to conduct roll call, as cited on the web site. It was not originally intended as honors for the flag.

Today, reveille serves a twofold purpose, according to the web site. It signals the beginning of the official duty day. It also serves as a moment to pay respect to the flag and those who serve it. It begins a dignified homage to our national flag from its raising in the morning to its lowering in the evening.

Whether in uniform or not, at the first sounds of reveille, stop where you are and turn to face the flag, or in a case where the flag is not visible, turn in the general direction of the music and, if in uniform, stand at parade rest. If not inuniform, protocol still dictates that you stop and face the flag out of respect.

In uniform when you hear the first note of “To the Colors”, come to attention and render the salute. Do not salute if you are not in uniform. Instead, come to attention and place your right hand over your heart. If you have on a hat, remove it with the right hand and hold it at the left shoulder while the right hand is over the heart. Hold the salute and/or hand over heart until “To the Colors” has finished playing.

It is only on occasion that the civilian public has a chance to pay tribute to our flag. We’re privileged to show our respect at the beginning and end of each day. We embrace this opportunity that few experience, and continue to appreciate the freedom that it represents.

(Courtesy Airman Leadership School staff)

COMMENTARY>>Enlisted Perspective: Even one suicide is too many

By Cheif Master Sgt. James A. Roy
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force

WASHINGTON, D.C. – An alarming trend is happening in our Air Force and we need your help. We’ve had a drastic increase this year in the number of suicides among our total force Airmen - active duty, guard, reserve and civilians. Last year we lost 84 Airmen by suicides; this year, we’ve nearly reached that number and it is only October. Even one suicide is too many.

We all take Suicide Awareness training, but that’s just the first step - we must take immediate action and get involved. We need to look out for each other and understand that we’re not alone. Be ready and willing to assist your Wingman and ask for help when you need it. We must all take the time to care about those around us. That’s what good Wingmen do and that’s what our Air Force needs.

Supervisors at every level must act now. Get to know your Airmen better and understand their personal and professional challenges. This is not a time to sit idle and think this won’t happen in your unit. No one is immune. Suicides range the spectrum of ages, locations, major commands and career fields. The two most common factors we’ve seen are problems with relationships and finances.

We need to be good Wingmen for others and also need to develop and maintain trusted relationships and friendships where we can talk openly and honestly about things happening in our own lives. We need to feel comfortable exchanging ideas, views and experiences with those who are closest to us. There is always someone available for you.

So many people care about you - more than you may think; family, friends, co-workers, supervisors, first sergeants, commanders, chaplains, medical professionals and senior leaders are ready and willing to listen and help. Just give them a chance. Don’t ever think you are alone or that no one will understand. We will understand and we will help you. It doesn’t matter whether you write, call or e-mail, please reach out. We are an Air Force family and you mean a lot to all of us. If you feel you are at the end of your road, you are not - talk with someone. We care about you and will ensure you receive the help you need.

You should never be afraid of seeking help for fear of reprisal. Our lives should be the priority. The Air Force also has many resources to help. Military and family life consultants, chaplains and medical professionals are all available. Also, Military One Source counselors are always available by calling 800-342-9647 or visiting their website by copying into your web browser.

With everyone’s help, we can and must step up and reverse this devastating trend.

TOP STORY > >777th EAS/EAMU owns the night

By Tech. Sgt. Phillip Butterfield
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – Charles Lindbergh, American aviator, said, “Whether outwardly or inwardly, whether in space or time, the farther we penetrate the unknown, the vaster and more marvelous it becomes.”

The same can be said about the aviators and Airmen of the 777th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron and the 777th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit, deployed from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark, who brave all weather conditions and missions to defend the U.S. and assist its Iraqi allies.

The 777th EAS, or “Triple 7 Dueling Dragons,” is the largest forward-deployed airlift squadron in Operation New Dawn. Comprised of more than 100 Airmen and a fleet of C-130 Hercules aircraft, the 777 EAS has five primary missions: hub-and-spoke air-land missions, airdrop, aeromedical evacuation, distinguished visitor airlift and communications, and command and control for Joint Airborne Battle Staff support to Coalition forces on the ground.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

C0MMENTARY>>Value of partnerships

By Lt. Col. John Vaughn
48th Airlift Squadron commander

Perhaps some of you have seen that new television show, “Undercover Boss?”

For those of you who haven’t, the premise is that the CEO of a company goes undercover and works in a couple different positions far removed from the office furniture, staff meetings and power lunches we normally associate with the term “CEO.”

While watching a CEO try to man an assembly line or load boxes can be comical at times, there is a bigger point. The CEO wants to know what really goes on in the company and how he or she can make it better.

A few weeks ago, I got to sort of play “Undercover Boss.” I made no effort to hide my identity, and I’m not the boss of the people I went to work with ... Gold AMU. For those of you not familiar with the 48th Airlift Squadron’s relationship with Gold AMU (or simply Gold), Gold provides maintenance support for the seven aircraft at the C-130J Flying Training Unit. We couldn’t train C-130J aircrew members without them. “Vital” would be an understatement.

For that reason, I wanted to go on the flightline, spend time with them, and get to see how they did their mission. What goes into generating an aircraft sortie? How long does it take? Are the people happy? What’s on their minds?

Before I answer those questions, let me start by thanking the leadership at Gold for allowing this to happen. It has made me a better commander – and I sincerely hope you will see that reflected in our units’ relationship. And a special thanks to Senior Airman Daniel Ward who allowed me to shadow him for the day. Airman Ward will be the 48th’s “Commander for the Day” in the near future. I look forward to returning the favor.

I learned that waiting for an aircraft to launch can be pretty boring – if you’ve done your job well ... And they had. I also got a new appreciation for working on top of the wing. Somehow a plane running its engines in the spot in front of me means more to me now than it used to. I can see how people could get focused on a task up there and slip or lose their balance. Did I mention the top of the aircraft gets really hot when it’s 90 degrees outside? And yes, I even got to turn some wrenches – but don’t worry, I was supervised the whole time. And the people? Phenomenal people! Phenomenal professionals. Do they have issues, concerns and complaints? Of course. In fact, I’ve already brought some of those issues up with our senior enlisted members. Will we fix them all? No, but that doesn’t mean we won’t try.

At this point you might be thinking, that’s nice – some guy I don’t know got to be a maintainer for a day, and he had fun and learned a lot – so what? Col. Mark Czelusta, the 314th Airlift Wing commander, says our mission is “pointless and impossible without partnerships.” Normally, when we think about partnerships on that scale, we think about the partnership of the 314th AW, 189th Airlift Wing and 19th Airlift Wing – or between nations like India and the U.S. We don’t think about the guy down the hall who brings in the reports (you need to do your job) twice a week...or the office to which you send every single person after they’ve processed through you. How does that guy do his job? And what about that other office? Are we overloading them? The point is our partners are all those people and organizations we work with and depend on daily. We should all strive to better understand our partners and their needs. If we do a better job of meeting their needs, they’ll do a better job of meeting ours. So who are your partners and what do you need to learn about them? One of mine just happens to set the standard for C-130J maintenance excellence.

Thank you Gold!