Thursday, January 31, 2013

COMMENTARY>>Penthouse view

By John Chavis,
19th Mission Support Group deputy commander

After 42 years in the trenches, in one fashion or another, I’m in the “Penthouse” or “The Big House,” or “On the Hill,” or in the “Rabbit Cage,” …whatever your pseudonym is for your leadership’s office digs. As the very first civilian deputy ever for the 19th Mission Support Group, I am experiencing the penthouse view. It’s for sure a more expansive view of everything around me, not just the MSG penthouse, but now the wing and all the group’s penthouses. Stress level is different also (less I’d have to say.) One thing I recognized right off the starting line is it seems to be the daily task of everyone that has the penthouse view to make sure they maintain a vivid image of the ground floor and things going on beneath them; that’s sort of my job in a one liner too. I suppose that could apply to any group or squadron or section leadership position, so in a sense, all buildings have a “penthouse.”

To be honest, before I got the seat, I had thoughts (just occasionally boss) that the occupants of the “Penthouse” were so strategically driven in their thinking that they lost touch with reality. Now don’t try to sell me that some of you didn’t, or don’t now have, similar thoughts that the penthouse only sees the thousand-foot perspective and totally misses the real issues in front of them. I’m not denying that it’s easy in some penthouses to see the issues as smaller and less important, and therefore never get the true picture of the problems folks at ground level face, but generally your penthouse teams on “the Rock” get it and recognize it’s critical to regularly disconnect from the penthouse, get down to the ground level, mix it up with the folks in the trenches and get a little dirty.

As we get closer to the action, it gives us first-hand knowledge of the circumstances and allows us to have a greater understanding of situations or issues. We love that stuff! Restricting ourselves to the top floor, looking at our plans without attaining execution and expecting to solve issues on the ground floor is a hallucination. This principle should apply to every leader and great supervisor out there at any level.

Does that mean we will never find ourselves coming up short if we get to the trenches? Heck no, but don’t throw out our courageous attempt with the trench water or confuse the attempt with having lost touch with the reality of the issue. The people who are experiencing the issues and are close to the process, know the real issues and have the solutions; we just have to get close enough to find out what they are, who they are and how to draw out the real solution.

That brings up a final thought or observation. When the penthouse asks for feedback, don’t give us the watered down version because you think the raw information is not polished enough for our ears. We didn’t get to the penthouse because of thin skins or lack of common sense; most of us, me included, got here because of your hard work to make us look good. By the way, you did a good job…keep it up. Let’s start reducing barriers that stifle honest dialogue and block the source to address your real issues.

Team, believe it from a prior trench guy (an engineer…I built things that worked for gosh sakes,) the leaders do see the issues from the penthouse view. The penthouse view does not make the perspectives, or you, any less important. Your opinion is valuable; we can all learn something from each other no matter what status we hold.

Thank you for making a let’s go get dirty!

top story>>Preparing for CUI: Part I

By Greg Call
19th Airlift Wing Operations Security

“What is a CUI?”

This is the first in a series of articles to inform the base populace and extended Little Rock community about our upcoming inspections and exercises. Through these articles, we hope to educate Team Little Rock about the expectations, preparations, and execution of our exercise and inspection programs.

A Combined Unit Inspection is one of the single most significant inspections that a base can receive and is a combination of many higher headquarters inspections. The CUI concept is brand new and is a way to give back time to Commanders and Airmen by combining many inspections into one. The 19th Airlift Wing CUI will be like an inspection on steroids, with the following inspections happening all at the same time: Compliance Inspection (typical inspection from a UCI), Heath Services Inspection, Standardization and Evaluation Program for Weather Operations, Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health Compliance and Management Program Inspection, Airfield Operations Compliance Inspection, Metrology and Calibration Engineering Inspection, Logistics Compliance Assessment Program Inspection, Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care Inspection, Real Property Accountability Inspection, and the Judge Advocate Article 6 Inspection.

So when is the 19th AW receiving its CUI? The CUI starts Sept. 20, where over the course of nine days, 200 Air Mobility Command inspectors from Scott Air Force Base, Il., and Air Force Inspectors will evaluate and inspect all groups and units on their day-to-day compliance with executive orders, DoD directives, Air Force and MAJCOM instructions, local supplements and Operating Instructions and by-law programs such as the Voting Assistance Program and Sexual Harassment Education and Prevention.

So what should you, as a member of Team Little Rock, expect to do as we get prepared for our upcoming CUI? First, we have to clearly define our requirements through regulations and ask ourselves this simple question: “Do we comply?” Being honest in your unit’s self-assessment is key and commanders have to be directly involved. Second, we will measure our success through self-assessment checklists within the new Air Force Management Internal Control Toolset. Your group and squadron CUI representatives are currently knee deep in this self assessment MICT process. Everything contained within these MICT checklists will cover what the AMC inspectors are looking for. Your Air Force Specialty Code functional managers ensured this by uploading their most current checklists to the MICT website. 19th AW Inspector General office has validated and disseminated each of these checklists to group and unit level MICT representatives. Your unit MICT program managers should be educating you on your unit SIP. Third, we will analyze our procedures and processes through exercises, Functional Managers Staff Assistance Visits and compliance spot-checks conducted by 19th AW Inspector General personnel. Fourth, the 19th AW will use our partner wings at the base and conduct a mini compliance inspection on June 24-28. We have to learn from our previous inspection write-ups, SAV write-ups, suggestions and exercise feedback and then begin the process again by returning to the original question: “Do we comply?”

Bottom line: Attitude is everything! As Air Force members, we are already “can do” people. We overcome adversity every day and succeed where others would easily fail. So what can you do right now? Ask tough questions about yourself and your programs such as: “What would an inspector say if they came right now?”, “What do I already know I need to fix but haven’t done so?”, “What can I do to make my program stronger?” and “Who do I need to team-up with in order to resolve this problem?”

Get ready Black Knights. September will be a whirl-wind and the time leading up to it will be marked with long hours, exhaustive repetitions of preparations, and a lot of management oversight. Through a positive attitude, team work, clear communication and direct involvement, the Black Knights can show the AMC/IG what we already know: that we are the best airlift wing in AMC!

Combat Airlift!

TOP STORY>>19th OG converts to 4-day fly week, increases training

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

Nearly a year ago, the 19th Operations Group at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., truncated their fly-week from five days to four, leaving one day a week explicitly dedicated to training. Group leaders said the switch has led to increased training rates and improved deployment readiness, while saving taxpayer dollars.

Lt. Col. Toby Sernel, 19th OG deputy commander, said the change came about after examining the efficiency of the group’s five-day flight week.

“What we saw with the five-day fly week, was that … our flying and training was not as efficient as it could be,” said Sernel.

The group determined that with a little flexibility they could simultaneously improve their training and make more efficient use of their flying hours, and thus the four-day fly week, with every Friday dedicated to training, was born.

“What we wanted to do was come up with a way to improve our deployment readiness,” said Sernel. “We wanted to improve the training that our C-130 members were getting at our four flying squadrons here.”

Previously the 19th OG dedicated just one day to training a quarter, which led to bloated schedules and a dearth of time, said Sernel.

“They (the old 19th OG’s training days) were jam-packed with stuff,” he said. “Maybe we got 30 minutes to do two hours of training on top of 30 minutes to do another four-hour training block. It really wasn’t very efficient or effective.”

Allowing for a training day every Friday has led to more relevant, focused and thorough training for the 19th OG, from the group level to the squadron level down to the individual, said Sernel.

“We’ve increased training 12 to 14 fold of what we had before,” he said. “The benefits extend to everyone throughout the group.”

While more time for training and interaction at a ground level is a good thing for Airmen and their supervisors, decreasing the flight week from five to four days means packing what was previously five days of work into four. To execute this plan required innovation and focused planning, and it’s a challenge the 19th OG met, said Sernel.

“What we did was pack five days worth of flying into four days,” he said. “To do this we had to focus on certain events on certain days. In a lot of ways this made us improve our planning because a four-day fly week requires greater focus and planning at the group and squadron level.”

After nearly a year of flying one less day a week, Sernel said he thinks the Airmen of the 19th OG are even better prepared to go to war than they were before, while saving time and money.

“We’re getting the same, if not more focused, training in those four days,” he said. “Our crews are more prepared for CENTCOM AOR now than they were a year ago. We’ve saved 640 flight hours in calendar year 2012. We’re doing what we can to make more effective and efficient use of our flying training hours; those are expensive hours.”

Sernel said the 19th OG typically completed 95 percent of their training requirements in years past. From July - Dec 2012 the group produced a 98 percent completion rate. He credits this to increased focus in training.

“We’re getting more precise, more focused, more realistic training on par with previous year’s completion rates in four days,” said Sernel. “That’s a good thing.”

The benefits from the four-day fly week extend from the top down, said Sernel. 19th OG Airmen, at the group and squadron level, are getting more time for professional development. Another added bonus is the group is able to maximize the use of the flight simulators on base, a move that allows flyers to log realistic training while saving taxpayer dollars.

While the move to a four-day fly week has benefited the 19th OG immensely, Sernel said the innovative program extends benefits to other groups on base as well.

“The Maintenance Group and the Mission Support Group reap benefits,” he said. “They have more time to take care of training, more time to take care of airplanes. They have more time to focus on what they need to do on that day.”

More time for training, improved efficiency of mission and training time, and helping their Airmen improve their careers is what the move was all about, said Sernel, and nearly a year into the switch, the plan appears to be working.

“There are benefits at all levels,” he said. “Commanders get more time with their people. Supervisors get more time with their flights, whether they’re loadmasters, or pilots or (Aircrew Flight Equipment) technicians. There are a lot of support agencies in the ops group that get time with their supervisors they wouldn’t get every week if we flew five days a week. By taking a break, I think everyone would say it’s a good thing to get more time with their leadership, getting more time to do what we call unit maintenance.”

Thursday, January 24, 2013

COMMENTARY>>Decision making and your career

By Chief Master Sgt. Andrea J. Gates
314th Airlift Wing Command Chief

Can you remember when you had to make a decision and there was a little voice in the back of your head talking to you. Two choices could be made: you listened to that voice or you didn’t. Chances are if it was the wrong choice there would be consequences to face. A successful career is due, in part, to making good decisions. Whether it is on or off duty, these decisions can impact on a minor or major scale. Additionally, how you respond to making the wrong decision can also play a part.

I am not saying people can’t or won’t make mistakes. It’s how you recover, how you learn, how you apply and pass on your experience to others; whether it be peers, subordinates or even your leadership. If you make the wrong decision then you should expect to be held accountable. Ultimately, the key is making the best decision based upon all the information you have at hand, before it is too late.

Let’s take the example of an individual that goes on leave and chooses to fly Space A. They know shortly after they plan to return they’ll be starting Airman Leadership School. Yes you guessed it – the person didn’t make it back in time and missed the start of class. You could blame it on Murphy’s Law or the Airman did not have the resources available to pay for that commercial flight because they were counting on that Space Available flight which was eventually cancelled. So, what did this decision affect? The member lost the faith of their First Sergeant who had worked to get them in an earlier class versus waiting, and the supervisor is disappointed along with having to adjust the duty schedule yet again because the member now has to be scheduled for another ALS class. On top of all, this decision is delaying the Airman putting on their Staff Sergeant stripe they worked hard to get. This was an important decision which could have easily been helped by asking for advice and assistance when the factors changed.

So what can you do to help yourself? There is nothing wrong with asking someone else’s opinion (don’t let pride make you fall). I would caution though - ensure the person you ask will give you good, sound advice. If you ask Airmen Smith and he is known to get in trouble for poor decision making – probably not the best choice. Also, don’t succumb to peer pressure and, by the same token, don’t be influenced into a decision by a supervisor if you know it’s not the right decision; a perfect example is from the movie “A Few Good Men” and the order to perform a “Code Red”. Take the information you get for what it is. Instincts are very real and if you feel something isn’t right, you have a gut feeling, or that little voice is telling you beware – LISTEN!

One could argue the supervisor had a hand in the situation above. Did they say something to the individual when they were approving the leave form? Did they even know their subordinate was planning on using Space A travel? Making it in the Air Force is a team effort. We are surrounded by awesome people; they want to be successful. We all can help by passing on information, experience and knowledge we have picked up along the way. The best teacher is always a real example. They call them “lessons learned” for a reason. Many of us have made a poor decision to some degree or another – I know I have. Luckily, between getting advice and adjusting the decision based on receiving more or better information, I was able to recover and not have any major impact on my career. I can most certainly say when I look back there was that little voice right there and I wrongly dismissed it. So, when I hear that voice now I am very apt to make a conscience decision to pay attention to what it has to say.

TOP STORY>>CUI Preparation: Awareness of intelligence oversight

By 2nd Lt Lindsay Cargin
19th Operations Support Squadron Intelligence

Since the implementation of the Patriot Act in 2001, many people are under the impression that DoD agencies are constantly gathering information on all U.S. persons, all the time. However, this is not the case.

A Presidential Executive Order, a DoD regulation, and AFI 14-104 define the intelligence oversight program that helps protect the rights of all U.S. personnel by ensuring that U.S. Intelligence activities are conducted legally, properly, and do not infringe on or violate the rights of any U.S. person.

So, who is a U.S. person and therefore protected by intelligence oversight? A U.S. person is considered a U.S. citizen, an alien known by the DoD intelligence community considered to be a permanent resident alien, an unincorporated association substantially composed of U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens, or a corporation incorporated in the U.S. unless it is directed and controlled by a foreign government or governments.

Knowing who is protected is half the battle. As professional Airmen, we also need to understand that the DoD intelligence oversight program has two main objectives.

The first objective is the prevention of violations against U.S. persons during the intelligence gathering process and thus ensuring their constitutional rights. It is the program’s mission to ensure the DoD can conduct intelligence and counterintelligence operations while still protecting the rights of all U.S. persons. And with the use of intelligence oversight monitors, including having our own here at Little Rock AFB, the DoD continues to enhance the awareness and understanding of the activities intelligence organizations may or may not do in order to ensure the protection of U.S. persons while completing the mission.

The second objective of this program is to provide guidelines if this prevention fails. After identifying any possible violations, the DoD investigates and reports any found discrepancies in order to prevent further violations from occurring.

So what should an Airman do if they believe activities are being conducted that could be considered a violation of intelligence oversight? That Airman needs to report the incident either through their chain of command, their intelligence oversight monitors, the inspector general, the judge advocate general, or any other legal authority. Any questions about the intelligence oversight program here at Little Rock may be directed to the 19th Airlift Wing intelligence oversight monitors at 987-7016.

TOP STORY>>Fitness Center is going 24/7

By Airman 1st Class Ethan Dunagan
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Little Rock Air Force Base’s fitness center has been selected to test a 24 hour/seven days a week program scheduled to start Feb. 15. Sign-up for the program will begin on Feb. 4.

The new program is part of a Force Support Squadron initiative to enhance the morale, welfare, and recreation for Airmen on base.

“This is all part of services’ transformation and we’re hoping to provide services beyond our man-power working capabilities,” said Lt. Col. Veronica Anteola, 19th FSS commander. “So by opening it 24/7… It gives [base Airmen] the opportunity to work out a lot more than they might have.”

Participants signing up for this program will need to sign a statement of understanding. Currently only military members with a common access card are able to participate in the fitness center’s 24-hour fitness program. Military members that sign up will have their CAC cards registered so that when the 24/7 operation goes live, their CAC can be scanned at the front door to gain access to the fitness center. The fitness center will not be staffed overnight so the base has taken extra measures to ensure the safety and security of participants.

“Security and safety are some of our main concerns with 24/7 fitness,” said Anteola. To increase security, the fitness center has installed 30 cameras in the facility as well as three automated external defibrillator’s and the emergency blue phones.

For some of the night shift workers on base, the overnight program is very beneficial.

“The fitness center going 24/7 benefits me by letting me go to the gym before or after work, it will be very convenient,” said Airman 1st Class Beth Anne Davis, a 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron central storage journeyman. Davis works overnight.

The services provided overnight will be the same as during the day, said Anteola.

“Everything will be open except for our offices, our locker rooms, and our saunas,” she said. “We want to make sure those areas that we can’t get the cameras in are locked and secure. Bathrooms will be open, but for the most part everything else will be available to them.”

This base is a test base for the 24/7 fitness center program. Feedback should be directed to ICE or the fitness center.

“We are excited to hear about everyone’s feedback. I think that this is a critical part of this test phase to see if it’s something the rest of the Air Force plans on doing,” said Anteola.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

COMMENTARY>>Airmen will be part of history during 57th Presidential Inauguration

Air Force News Service

WASHINGTON (AFNS) – A selected few from the ranks of the Air Force, along with those selected by their sister services, will become a part of history on Jan. 21, when President Barack Obama takes his second oath of office during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. They came together on Sunday Jan. 13, to put months of practice to the test.

The U.S. Air Force Band, along with the Honor Guard, joined more than 1,000 Airmen in fields ranging from communications to logistics, medical, legal, command and control and contingency response to provide support for the inauguration.

“The inaugural period is a large-scale cooperative effort among federal, state and local agencies and a great opportunity for our Airmen to work in a joint interagency environment,” said Maj. Gen. Sharon K.G. Dunbar, commander of the Air Force District of Washington.

To see more on Airmen›s participation during the rehearsal, click here for the AIRMAN magazine story and images.

COMMENTARY>>State of the AF is ‘strong’

By Master Sgt. Jess D. Harvey
Air Force Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (AFNS) – The Air Force’s top leaders said this week the service has accomplished much while dealing with many challenges in the last year.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III briefed members of the media here on the state of the service and its focus on the areas of force structure, readiness and modernization.

“America’s Airmen are focused on their missions, and they demonstrate every day what it means to be members of the world’s finest air force,” Donley said. “These Total Force Airmen – active duty, Guard, Reserve, and civilian – are the reason I can say without reservation that the state of our Air Force remains strong.”

The secretary dedicated a significant amount of time explaining how the nation’s fiscal challenges have affected and will continue to affect the force.

“Our nation’s ongoing budget gymnastics exert costly consequences upon the Air Force and our sister services and create an atmosphere of unease among many of our uniformed and civilian Airmen,” Donley said. “Given that we are now into the second quarter of (fiscal 2013), we can no longer live under the uncertainty of sequestration and continuing resolution without taking action.”

Prudent planning is required to mitigate budget risks and minimize impacts to readiness, the secretary said, adding that guidance will be provided to the force in a few days to begin planning for the uncertain budget environment ahead.

As part of the planning, Air Force leaders are dedicated to avoiding a hollow force – one that looks good on paper but has more units and equipment than it can support, lacks the resources to adequately train and maintain them, and keep up with advancing technologies.

“We believe the best path forward is to become smaller in order to protect a high quality and ready force that will improve in capability,” Donley said.

In doing this, Welsh emphasized the importance of sustaining the enduring contributions the Air Force provides that will continue to guide the service as it moves forward, no matter what happens with the fiscal realities of the future.

“As we move toward that smaller, more capable and ready force; we have to be careful to protect our whole mission,” Welsh said. “If we don’t, the entire joint force is affected, and it’s impacted in a significant way.”

According to the secretary, the service has already suffered great impacts to its readiness levels.

“More than two decades of war and other operations have had an impact on our readiness, straining our Airmen and their families, reducing opportunities for training and taking a toll on equipment,” Donley said.

In order for the Air Force to improve on current readiness levels, Welsh said modernization remains a top priority, recalling a childhood memory of his grandfather’s then new, ‹sweet’ car to help characterize the issue.

“If we were at Minot (Air Force Base) today, I could take you out on the flight line and show you a whole bunch of ‹sweet’ B-52s,” Welch said. “And in 2028, when we deliver the last KC-46 tanker, we’ll still have about 200 ‹sweet’ KC-135s on the ramp. And they’ll be about the same age then – 60 – as my grandfather’s car would be today.”

The difference is, he said, his grandfather’s car has an antique license plate on it today, while America’s Airmen will be flying these aircraft in 2028, in contingencies and combat zones around the world.

Which is why, modernization isn’t an option, Welsh said, “It doesn’t matter if we get smaller. We have got to figure out how to make modernization happen.”

During the briefing, the general also took time to highlight the recent release of the Air Force Vision Statement, which embraces innovation as almost a genetic trait of every Airman.

“I believe that’s true. In order for us to be successful, I think it has to be true,” Welsh said. “We intend to remain the world’s greatest air force, powered by Airmen and fueled by innovation.”

TOP STORY>>19th EMS pays the tab

By Airman 1st Class Clifton Dolezal
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

0-0-1-3 is an equation that just adds up. For members of the 19th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, it has merely been one factor helping to solve a greater problem.

“As of [Jan. 14,] our unit has been 387 days DUI free” said Maj. Jeffrey Burdette, 19th EMS commander. “That’s about 550 Airmen, NCOs, officers and civilians who chose to live a lifestyle where the irresponsible use of alcohol isn’t an option. They don’t tolerate it; they don’t accept it, and it’s not ok.”

Upon assuming command of the 19th EMS in May of 2012, one of the goals Burdette set for his unit was to go 365 days without an alcohol related incident. The unit’s achievements of one of the goals he set out for them to accomplishhas been praised by Burdette.

“Everybody wants something,” said Burdette. “They want tangible results, so at the time I didn’t give them an incentive, I told them they get the pride. But now that we have achieved it, yes, we’re going to start celebrating their successes.”

The leadership and front line supervision of the 19th EMS believe that frequent alcohol abuse and Airman Against Drunk Driving briefings have paid the tab, as well as the new presence of leadership in the work area.

“Since I have been in the military for the past nine years, I’ve heard them preach about DUIs, don’t drink and drive…” said Staff Sgt. Michelle Haynes, a 19th EMS structural maintenance craftsman “.…and so our commanders are much more involved and always in our shop, and it’s working.”

Haynes talked about how Chief Master Sgt. Edwin Lambert, the 19th EMS superintendent, makes it to all the shops, even the small ones and takes some time to get to know the Airmen face to face.

“We’re going out to where they’re working and actually asking them ‘hey, what do you have going on this weekend? You got a plan? How about a plan b? Or a plan c?’” said Lambert.

Many of the Airmen in the squadron were ready to get on the path to recovery. Senior Airman Stephan Sullivan, 19th EMS unit fitness program manager, has been in the unit for over a year, and has appreciated the changes.

“When I first came to the squadron, we had consistent DUIs for a while”, said Sullivan. “It felt like every weekend we were getting called in, being in blues and it just felt like we were always getting hit on for DUI’s. If you would have asked me a year and a half ago if I thought we would be here, I would have told you, you were crazy.”

A year later however, the squadron has changed its party tune, to celebrating good times.

“We celebrate our successes each and every day we’re DUI free,” said Burdette. “That’s one more day. We take it one day at a time.”

The 19th Equipment Maintenance Squadron joins: the 19th Component Maintenance Squadron, 19th Aerospace Medical Squadron, 61st Airlift Squadron, 19th Security Forces Squadron, 314th Maintenance Operations Squadron, 373rd Training Squadron, 34th Combat Training Squadron, 48th Airlift Squadron, 29th Weapons Squadron, 19th Contracting Squadron, 19th Comptroller Squadron, 19th Force Support Squadron, 19th Director of Staff, 314th Director of Staff and the 19th Medical Support Squadron as one of the squadrons on base that have successfully gone a year or more without a DUI.

TOP STORY>>New 314th AW command chief focuses on Airmen

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

The chief master sergeant sat in her office and sipped coffee on this cold January day. She spoke with a gentle tone that gave no indication of her experience as a basic military training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

Chief Master Sgt. Andrea Gates, the 314th Airlift Wing’s newest command chief, is proud of her selection as the wing’s senior enlisted leader and the training experience she brings to the table.

“I’ve always liked to teach,” Gates said. “Even when I stopped being an instructor, I always liked to teach at the First Term Airman Center and other places because I like giving information back and mentoring.”

Gates said being an MTI was probably her most favorite job since it gave her the opportunity to mentor Airmen at the beginning of their careers.

“I loved being an MTI,” the command chiefsaid. “I liked being in that position of molding fresh, eager young people that you have the chance to influence and start them off on the right foot in their career.”

As the 314th AW command chief, Gates is responsible for the morale, welfare, professional development and combat readiness of the wing’s 900 Airmen and 1,800 aircrew students. The wing’s mission is to train C-130 aircrew members from across the Department of Defense, Coast Guard and 44 allied nations, but Gates charges all Airmen with being mentors.

“I feel that everybody in the Air Force is a teacher,” she said. “It’s all about passing on knowledge whether you got it from a book, a classroom or just from experience. If you’ve learned a lesson or picked up information along the way, and somebody else doesn’t have it, you need to pass that on.”

Gates is eager to get out and meet the men and women of Team Little Rock. She believes in using her position to help Airmen to the best of her ability.

“To become a chief is to be in the best possible position to help Airmen,” said Gates. “I just want to do everything I can to help and be in the best position to help everybody without forgetting where I came from or how I got here because it was certainly numerous Airmen throughout my career who gave me the tool kit to be here today.”

The command chief is excited to partner with her old friend, Chief Master Sgt. Margarita Overton, 19th Airlift Wing command chief, in training Little Rock Airmen.

“Anywhere you go nowadays it’s all about partnerships,” said Gates. “You find more and more bases with wings working together. Everybody brings something different to the fight.

“Ultimately, the end result is getting Airmen trained to the best of our ability. It’s a total force effort,” she added.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

COMMENTARY>>Who do people think we are?

By Chief Master Sgt. Todd Piazza
19th Maintenance Group superintendent

We all strive to be the best Airmen we can possibly be. We diligently become experts in our job. We work out to maintain fitness standards. We volunteer our free time to help out where needed. We deploy to support the mission and spend valued time away from our family. We are each members of a profession of arms are extremely proud of it and want everyone to know it. So why do many of us undermine ourselves and cause people to think otherwise?

We are all very proud of the competence and professionalism we display in our daily effort to ensure success. Most of us work long hours and pay exacting attention to detail to ensure the accomplishment of our piece of our organization’s mission. Every Airman and every organization has a job to do and they do it well. They meet those exacting standards, whether they are assigned to the Communications Squadron, the Fire Department, the Flight Line or the Medical Group. No one accomplishes the mission like we do!

Why then do some Airmen walk around with their hands in their pockets? Why do many of us fail to salute staff cars? Why do many Airmen run for the door when Retreat sounds? Why do many Airman fail to pick up trash when they see it as they are travelling around base? Customs and Courtesies play a significant part in the message we send to others. People notice when we fail to observe them and make impressions about what they see. We must ensure we are creating the correct impression.

You may be the most professional and competent Airman in your work center, squadron and even group. But, when your peers and leaders observe you walking around with your hands in your pockets, you are sending the opposite message. You have caused your peers to think you are probably lacking in professionalism and Airmanship. Not only is this a reflection on you, but also your organization and leadership. Furthermore, when other Airmen see you neglect to salute a staff car, you have caused everyone to think your organization and leadership does not enforce standards.

What is the worst thing about these scenarios? They do no reflect the real you! We all know that perception is often seen as reality, so you do not want people questioning your commitment to Air Force values and your desire to be as professional as possible. Make sure your peers and leadership know you for who you really are, not the Airman who failed to wear his hat to his car. Do not undermine yourself.

The Air Force is a way of life. A 24 hour a day way of life, not only while working in our work centers. When you are out and about base, what do your customs and courtesies say about you, your leadership and your organization. Make sure people see us for who we really are, the professional Airmen who strive to do the best in everything we do.

TOP STORY>>19th LRS comes out on top in season opener against the 19th MDG

By Airman Scott Poe
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron’s intramural basketball team (1) defeated the 19th Medical Group’s team 60-59 Tuesday, at Little Rock Air Force Base.

The game was the start of the base’s basketball season, and both teams had high hopes, but the 19th LRS took the win in overtime.

Before the game both coaches were optimistic and acknowledged each team as worthy adversaries.

“Both teams are good, but hopefully we will come out on top,” said Darrius Deener, 19th MDG assistant coach.

The 19th LRS had a simple game plan.

“We are going to play hard and do our best,” said Tony Allen, 19th LRS (1) coach.

The 19th LRS drew first blood with a three-point shot, but the 19th MDG quickly caught up and held the advantage for the rest of the first half. The second half of the game played out very similar with the 19th MDG leading until LRS tied the game with one minute and 28 seconds left. Both teams were struggling to score for the win but to no avail. The score was 54-54 as the buzzer sounded, and the game went to overtime.

In overtime the tension was high, and both teams stayed neck and neck. With only seconds on the clock, the 19th LRS hit a three pointer and took the game.

After the game both teams congratulated each other and reflected on the match.

“We’re a new team so we have to mold together,” said Peter Elefante, 19th MDG coach. “It’s just the beginning of the season, you lose some and you win some.”

Allen said he was proud of his team’s effort.

“They did good, they stayed in it, they got down big in the second half and still came back and brought us through,” said Allen. “They all get along, they communicate and that’s what it’s all about, playing team ball.”

TOP STORY>>Base Airmen earn medals for his courageous actions

By 2nd Lt. Amanda Porter
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

“I’d do it again in a heartbeat if I had the chance,” said Staff Sgt. William Charleton, 19th Component Maintenance Squadron fuel system craftsman.

Inclement weather at an Arkansas Travelers baseball game Aug. 12, 2011, forced Charleton, his wife, Susannah and Airman 1st Class Kyle Gibson, 19th Equipment Maintenance Squadron ground equipment journey-man, to head back to the Charleton home in Cabot early that night.

The weather was nothing short of horrendous as the trio took their usual route home. What started as a simple outing with friends would drastically change the lives’ of Charleton, Gibson and, in turn, the Wallace family.

“My wife actually noticed the flames coming from the trees,” said Charleton. “I [thought] lightning probably hit a tree. Then we got up to the driveway and noticed it was not the tree; it was the actual house on fire.”

Susannah immediately dialed 911 as the group pulled into the driveway. Charleton and Gibson instantly bolted from the vehicle and began to beat on the windows and doors, trying to wake the Wallace family—husband, Michael; wife, Linda; daughter, Brooke.

“To this day I still don’t know how [Linda] was strong enough to open the door,” said Charleton. “I think it was just the initial shock of, ‘somebody’s beating on my door pretty hard; there must be something wrong,’ so she opened the door for me.”

“Something wrong” was exactly what sparked Linda to jump out of bed that night. Linda’s son, Ryan, had been spending the night at a friend’s house down the road.

“When I hear this banging, I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God, something’s happened to Ryan!’ So I had to open the door,” said Linda. For a moment, Charleton and Linda stood in the doorway in silence, exchanging looks. “He said, ‘Your house is on fire.’ I just kind of looked at him because that was not what I was expecting. Then he repeated, ‘Your house is on fire, and you need to get out.’”

Lightning had struck the Wallaces’ house. Since their smoke detectors were wired in, rather than battery operated, the entire system was fried. Linda wasn’t convinced they would ever have gone off even later.

“If we had not gotten there and the [Wallaces] had slept through the fire, there definitely would have been life lost I’m sure,” said Gibson.

From all the commotion, Linda’s husband, Michael, was already awake. He brought their daughter, Brooke, to Charleton. The thunderstorm was still raging as they sat Brooke safely in Charleton’s car.

Linda said by this point the flames could be seen coming off the roof where the lightning had struck; they were just leaping.

“It started right above [Brooke’s] room,” said Gibson. “We’ve seen pictures of the damage, and it was right on top of her bed.”

With the family out of harm’s way, they raced back into the house, retrieved the car keys and salvaged both vehicles in the garage before they were engulfed in flames. They even rescued the three family dogs.

“I wasn’t thinking. It was pure adrenaline,” said Charleton. “There are things you do that you don’t think about, you just do them. It’s instinct; it’s just reactions. You just do the best you can.”

“Yeah, it was a lot of adrenaline,” agreed Gibson. “I wasn’t really scared or nervous. I was just hoping we were able to get everybody out safely and nobody was harmed.”

Everyone said it seemed like forever until the emergency responders reached the house. The family lived outside city limits, so the logistics and thunderstorm slowed down the response. Dispatch reached the Mount Zion fire department, but by the end of the night, Jacksonville, Lonoke, Ward and anybody who could possibly come to help was there. Fire trucks stretched along the half mile from the highway to the Wallace’s front driveway.

The fire started around 11 p.m., and it was nearly 2 a.m. by the time it was extinguished.

Michael stayed up all night to make sure the house didn’t smolder. Charleton returned the following day to check on the family while they were still sorting through the shock of the event.

More than half the house suffered damage, but the Wallaces were able to rebuild. The areas immediately affected by the fire had been empty that night, with both their son and other daughter out of the house that night.

“I’m just glad I was in the right place at the right time,” said Charleton. “I seem to have that luck. I don’t know what it is.”

Linda reflected on how the night had changed her family’s lives and said she appreciated the Airmen and was still so grateful that Charleton and Gibson stopped in the first place.

Gibson said it was the first time he had the opportunity to do something like helping a stranger. He recalled how the event impacted his life.

“It was over a year ago, but I felt really strongly about it at the time,” said Gibson. “I was really happy that nobody got hurt. If somebody had gotten hurt, it would’ve been a totally different story, but we were able to get them out and went back to normal life.”

Charleton described his action as completely in character and said he’s always been the type of person who, if he has the ability, will help someone out.

“I’ll pull up on the side of the road if I see somebody with a hood raised,” said Charleton, “[This event] just solidified the fact that I will never change my ways as much as people say, ‘why do you do this or that?’ I will always stop no matter what.”

Charleton received a Commendation Medal and Gibson received an Achievement Medal for their act of courage and service.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

COMMENTARY>>Looking back to the future

By Col. Ray Jeter
19th Medical Group commander

Last week as we dug out from our Christmas Day and day-after snowfall I had an opportunity to collect my thoughts on the contents of this article. The time of year this article comes out also forces one to reflect on the past year and how we can be successful this year.

Little Rock Air Force Base had many opportunities in the past year to weigh our activities; we had successes and some misadventures. We hosted multiple distinguished visitors, we sent Airmen forward and brought them home, we held numerous exercises and also produced a world-class airshow. Reviewing these events we can really demonstrate that our shining moments occurred when we defined what our intent was; pragmatically planned ahead; we communicated our intent and the associated plan broadly; and then when we actually engaged, we had flexibility and know-how to adjust to the situation.

In 2013 we will have many of the same opportunities. Like you, I prefer successful, good outcomes verses the alternative. Looking at 2012, we can see our successes really became predictable when our Airmen leaders framed their initial intent on a given project and then socialized it with their peers. When you look at some recent examples I can think of two vastly different events: the 2012 LRAFB AirPower Arkansas Airshow and the 2012 Holiday Cookie drop. Each project had a lead Airman (albeit vastly different ranks) and each lead had a clean intent of where they saw their project when it executed. Each lead Airman formed a team of peers to develop a plan of execution that complemented the intent of where they wanted to be. Linking their strategy to the intent, always keeping it as their touchstone, really allowed the teams to dismiss the red herrings and focus on the necessary.

Communication seems to always come up when we assess our good and bad points; both at home and at work. This held true this past year. On the examples above, we socialized each unit’s, and to a degree, each Airman’s role in the success of the projects based on their plans. For the Airshow we socialized the plan at Team Little Rock, table topped the event and actually exercised some critical components the weeks before. For the Cookie Drop our team repeatedly socialized the plan through various means using clear instructions, identifying key points of contact and roles and responsibilities.

When the events came, in this case the Airshow or the Cookie Drop; sticking to the plan but ready to modify as circumstance required occurred and it happened easily because the planners built a plan based on the leads intent. When plans seem to no longer support the intent, restating the intent, then realigning to place the vector back on to the intent usually fixes the plan. For this to work, all Airmen need to know the intent. When it is shared horizontally and vertically within an organization the repair of the plan can happen quickly and efficiently. That was the case in these events.

There will be challenges in 2013. The 19th Airlift Wing has a CUI in September. We have changes of command, DV visits, deployments and exercises ahead of us. Look at where you want to be when each of these projects are finished. When your vector is ill-defined, reflect on where you intend to be and your decisions will be easier to make. Let your goals inform your daily activities and success will be yours.

TOP STORY>>18th Air Force Commander’s Intent

By Lt. Gen. Darren McDew
18th Air Force commander

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Il. — To the Airmen of our great global mobility enterprise: thank you! We have asked a great deal from you and your families this year. Through it all you have been the model for operational excellence and allowed our Nation to accomplish some amazing things across the globe. You are, without a doubt, essential members of the world’s finest joint team and as your commander, I am extremely proud of you!

Bold, Innovative, Risk-Taking Airmen Although I don›t have a “crystal ball,” I have no doubt our capabilities will remain in high demand in 2013. At the same time, we will undoubtedly face new challenges in terms of resources, modernization and force structure as well as the usual array of manmade and natural crises to which we always stand ready to respond. I know we will be successful thanks to our greatest resource: Bold, innovative, risk-taking Airmen.

The great pioneers of our Air Force were exceptional men and women dedicated to making things better. Their bold, innovative, risk-taking culture is what made our Air Force great. That culture has no AFSC, and is not limited to any one component, it is Total Force.

You are among the most battle-tested warriors in the history of our service. I am confident that you are the right Airmen to lead us to success, regardless of what the future holds.

So I need you to lead!

Our Mission

I’ve been asked many times what I see as the mission of the 18th Air Force, as well as my vision of where we need to go. I’ve put a lot of thought into it and talked to numerous Airmen during my travels throughout our command, and for me, the answer is pretty simple: our mission is to lead our Air Force toward the solutions to our greatest challenges. Or, to put it in terms of a mission statement: “Airmen delivering innovative rapid global mobility solutions through operational expertise and capabilities. 18th Air Force – America’s rapid global mobility leaders!”

Our Vision

As we work toward together, codifying and sustaining those processes that will help us make this mission a reality, we must look toward the future. Our global mobility enterprise has been extremely successful throughout the years because we consistently look beyond the horizon to tomorrow’s challenges. Our success is dependent on sustaining the same culture that forged our great Air Force. With this in mind, my vision for the 18th Air Force is “inspired by a bold heritage, Mobility Airmen united by a culture of agile and sustainable operational excellence.”

But pretty words aside, my “commander’s intent,” what I need you to take from all this, is simple: the best ideas are not going to come from me. You not only hold the keys, but the responsibility, to build tomorrow›s Air Force and posture it for success.

My Expectation

Be bold! Don’t be afraid to take intelligent risks to make things better. Be innovative! Help us find unique solutions to problems before they become problems. But most of all, give our Air Force what it needs the most ... strong leadership!

I thank you and your families for your service and for all you have and continue to do for our Air Force and Nation. Be safe, have a happy and meaningful holiday season, and I look forward to working together with you to meet our challenges in 2013.

Lieutenant General, USAF


TOP STORY>>Patriot Guardians pay respects

By Staff Sgt. Russ Scalf
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Standing guard in a driving rain, resolute to the howling winds that are chilling them through their distinctive cut-off vests, a group of patriots line the entrance of a North Little Rock church paying their respects to a fallen veteran.

On this day, or any other, the members of the Patriot Guard Riders are invited guests of family members, bearing flags and carrying the casket in a somber and absolute tribute to another of America’s great heroes. This delicate mission has been entrusted to a group whose only prerequisite for membership is both specific and simple: respect.

“We were formed in 2005 in Topeka, Kansas, to be a counter protest group,” said Doug Odom, Patriot Guard Riders, Ark. state captain. “We would ride to the funerals and line the motorcycles up and rev the engines in front of the Westboro Baptist Church protesters. Today we don’t do that, now we line up our flags in front of them and shield the families.”

Nowadays the mission and membership of the Patriot Guard Riders has evolved to match their non-violent vigils. While many of its members are veterans or active duty service members, it is not a requirement to participate, nor is being a motorcycle rider.

“Today we also do sendoffs for our troops deploying overseas,” said Odom. “We go to see them off from wherever they leave from, and often we’ll escort them out of town, and we’ve escorted them out of state. We want to make them feel good and make them feel wanted, and let them know that they are appreciated for what they do.”

While the current trend of support for military service members often seems to be time-honored, it was not the case for many veterans like Odom.

“I went to Vietnam by myself, and I came back by myself. And I experienced everything there was to experience in a war, and I came back to a very unappreciative country, unappreciative people,” said Odom. “I’ll never forget getting on the bus at Castle Air Force Base when I came back wounded. I was on the hospital bus, but it had metal shields on the windows. I asked the bus driver what they were for, and he replied, you’ll find out. As we drove out of Castle Air Force Base’s main gate we were pelted with tomatoes, and eggs, and everything else they could throw. So, those shields on the windows were just dripping with America’s hate for us. So, I don’t want anyone else to experience that.”

These types of shared experiences give the guardians the strength to ride through stormy weather. They have arrived at destinations beyond the contempt of perfect strangers, which has helped them grow their ranks to 2,800 members in the state of Ark. Many of the volunteers fulfill duties other than funeral services.

Walter Prouty, a Patriot Guard ride captain, recently orchestrated Wreaths Across America organization’s local ceremony. Each December wreath laying ceremonies are conducted at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as veterans’ cemeteries, other locations in all 50 states and abroad to remember fallen heroes, and honor those currently serving. Patriot Guard Riders were in attendance, and helped lay wreaths during the official ceremony.

“I got into this to help stop protesters from getting near families at funerals,” said Prouty. “But when you get in it, you kind of change when you see how touched the families are when we honor their loved ones. It turns into a labor of love, it touches you every mission.”

There ceremony brought together members from all four branches of the military, and the Coast Guard, and together with Patriot Guard Riders wreaths were placed at memorial markers and graves at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock.

“The majority of our missions are not for killed in action veterans who have recently been deployed,” said Odom, “the majority of our missions are for World War II, Korean and Vietnam veterans who are dying nowadays. We are also very concerned with the number of suicides we bury. We’ve buried eight in Arkansas this year. We want to be there for our veterans.”

Through their website the Patriot Guard offers a variety of support for its members, frominformation and forums on veterans’ topics, to scholarships for families of fallen military members.

This diverse group of men and women are committed to riding in honor and support of those who have served, and those who continue to serve.

“Being in the military is not the most glamorous job in the world,” said Prouty. “People in the military sacrifice a whole lot to be in because they love the United States, and I was one of those. I wouldn’t be who I am today without it. It means a lot to honor these veterans who have done so much for their country.”

For more information on the Patriot Guard Riders and how you can become involved, visit their website at

To see more information, including a video on this article, visit