Building moves highlight Total Force Integration
By Capt. Sandy Smock, 141 ARW Public Affairs
/ Published September 22, 2009
22 Sept 2009 -- Total Force Integration (TFI) between active duty and National Guard wings was evident when more 141 Air Refueling Wing (ARW) offices moved into 92nd ARW buildings in mid September at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. One of these moves included Col. Gregory Bulkley, 141 ARW Commander. His office, along with the entire command section, was one of the first in the 141 Headquarters Building, packed up and transferred to the White House. The White House is a reference to Building 2285, which formerly was the 92nd Headquarters Building, and now will be the 92d and 141st Headquarters Building.
Recently, the air refueling mission at Fairchild Air Force Base began a new and significant chapter in its history. On October 1, 2007, the 92nd ARW and the 141 ARW entered into a classic association arrangement, the first of its kind for active duty and Air National Guard KC-135 wings. With no exact blueprint of how to accomplish such a new concept; each day for both the 92nd and 141 has introduced new challenges and tested communication within different groups.
A group that has been working together as active duty and Guard is the Communication Squadrons. Both, Major Melissa Cunningham, 92nd Communication Squadron Commander, and Major Brian Scott, 141 Communication Squadron Commander, started initiating a plan to join forces a year ago.
"We saw nothing but gains even back then," said Major Cunningham.
Both groups are now in one building, sitting side by side and continuing to successfully complete their communication missions.
With two cultures both Guard and active duty are able to bring their strengths to the team. Expertise by each group is brought to the other group to maintain continuity and improve processes during the transition stages.
Due to Air Force cuts in the active duty Communication Squadrons the 92nd will lose over 100 personnel which reduces their squadron in half and with that is experience lost.
"This association could not have come at a better time," said Major Cunningham. All I am bringing in is new airman and between 11 new people they may have only nine stripes between them. We are excited to see the mentoring and training from the Guard, both technical and professional."
Being a Guard member usually means being at the same location for many years and in some cases an entire career. This equates to seeing many of the same faces and developing lifetime relationships as co-workers and neighbors while developing personal ties to the community along the way. With the new association with active duty changing personnel will become an added part of the Guard culture and seeing some of the same faces an entire tour will become part of the active duty experience.
Just as Col. Bulkley sat in meetings back in 2007 with then 92nd Commander , Col Sharpy, to plan and discuss the initial plans of the association he still continues to sit in meetings with present 92nd Commander Col. Thomas to discuss the progress of the association.
The accomplishments of over a year of working out the details between different groups will not be lost in the newly joined Communication Squadrons due to change in personnel. Part of the initial communication association plan was to add a continuity plan for changing commanders.
According to Major Scott some key notes for future Communication Squadron success are the following: Formalize as many elements as possible through memorandum of agreements (MOA), make sure that the NCOICs and Officers in Charge follow the MOAs, and establish positive relationships with the new leadership as they arrive.
As building moves occur, decisions are finalized and new relationships are built the base will experience changes as it always has but it will be the same two Wings that have always worked together. Now they will do so just under a name of Total Force Integration.
It really all comes together if everybody is working together to get things done; that is really what TFI means," said Major Scott.
Working side by side with military leadership throughout all the decision-making is a third party who has been involved in the process of creating a successful military team. Bill Long, an AFSO21 consultant MainstreamGS, LLC, works with cross functional teams while they are undergoing changes in the workplace. He also has been working with leadership from both sides since May 2008 and has been happy to be a part of this very important objective.
"The past year had challenges and at times it seemed like we would take one step forward and two steps back. However, sitting down and analyzing progress that has been made over the last twelve month is truly amazing. Together, Air National Guard and Active Duty have worked extremely hard to transform wing wide operations and integrate mission critical processes that will increase mission capability and effectiveness. I am extremely proud of all who have been actively involved with Total Force Integration and look forward to seeing the progress 'Team Fairchild' will make in the coming months."