Saturday, February 26, 2011

Total force integration: Moody sets the example

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga.-- Senior Airman Michael Mindziak, 476th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, checks the tail of an A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft before takeoff Feb. 23. Airman Mindziak is currently an air reserve technician and works as a crew chief for the maintenance squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Wiseman) Hi-res

by Airman 1st Class Brigitte N. Brantley-Sisk
23rd Wing Public Affairs

2/25/2011 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- About 80 Reservists at Moody are now doing more than being "Citizen Airmen" as they work alongside active-duty members from the 23rd Wing on a daily basis.

The 476th Fighter Group was activated in 2009 as Moody's first step in total force integration and now has about 240 members, a number which is growing monthly.

"Moody has become a sort of success story for how TFI works," said Col. Gregory Eckfeld, 476th FG commander. "We were sent here to support the 23rd WG's mission and through a mutual relationship, we're accomplishing that. We've got a lot of experience to share with the active-duty members."

The way they are able to share their experience is different from the way active duty members usually accomplish this. Pilots and maintainers are fully-integrated with the 23rd Fighter Group.

"On the AD side, when a maintainer reaches the rank of technical sergeant, they are pulled off the flightline to do more administrative duties," said Chief Master Sgt. Stacy Walker, 476th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron superintendent. "We're different because we still have master sergeants and higher out there working on the planes. Because of this, we are able to train the younger Airmen who are out there."

Although things are running well now, it's not always a smooth process.

"It's a real eye-opener for active-duty members to see how we operate," said Chief Walker. "What makes it challenging is that we spend time educating them on our processes and requirements, and then two years later they move and we have to do it again. It's a learning process."

What may be surprising to most people is that even though the full-timers wear their uniform during the week, they are in a civilian status.

"People get confused about this pretty often," said Staff Sgt. Tamara Strange, 476th Aerospace Medicine Flight. "But the leadership and other people at the 23rd Medical Group have been patient and understanding.

"Although we operate separately and won't become integrated, we still interact with them," she added. "They're very cooperative when we take over their entire building on the weekends."

The three full-time members 476th AMDF do administrative duties on weekdays, but on weekend drill days, provide medical support for the other Reservists. Their medical staff grows to more than 30 people during the weekend.

Although they are fully manned for the medicine flight, the 476th FG is still looking for Reservists who will fill other positions, including maintenance.

"We expect to be fully mission capable and manned by later this year," said Colonel Eckfeld. "The way we man our positions is different. While the Air Force Personnel Center usually provides active-duty offices with the manning needed, Reserve units have to actively recruit members to come to their base."

According to the colonel, the benefits of being a Reservist are a personal preference.

"Some people love coming back to the town they grew up in," he said. "They get the double benefit of serving their country while being near family and having a second career."

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga.-- Capt. Adam Ratican, 76th Fighter Squadron A-10C Thunderbolt II pilot, conducts a preflight check before takeoff Feb. 23. There are several air reserve technicians working along-side active duty Airmen stationed at Moody. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Wiseman) Hi-res


Please note: Capt. Adam Ratican was a 47th Fighter Squadron A-10C instructor pilot with the 917th Wing (AFRC), Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, until his last flight with the 47th FS on Oct. 19, 2010. See: Ratican completes final flight with 47th FS

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