Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Q&A with the boss: GSUs, what's the point?

by Col. Eric S. Overturf, 442nd Fighter Wing commander
Released by 442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

7/11/2011 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Why do we have GSUs and what purpose do they serve?

Air Force Reserve Command wanted to put all A-10 combat power in one wing so we could more efficiently train and deploy pilots, maintainers and combat support. The 442nd Fighter Wing already had the wing structure they were looking for, so we became the host wing.

How will our jobs be affected?

The addition of GSUs will be transparent to most people here at Whiteman. Locally, we won't lose any jobs, but there will be some benefits. You will have the opportunity for upward advancement in other parts of the wing, the opportunity to support deployments and TDYs and we will now have backfill when we are short in any area of the wing (to include the GSUs.) We also now have the networking with other experienced A-10 pilots and maintainers that we can share information and get answers about things from others within our own wing.

Will we lose any aircraft as a result of the GSUs?

No. We will continue to retain 24 aircraft. We will however, assist the 917th FG at Barksdale, which provides two A-10s to the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Test Center (AATC) in Tucson, Ariz. Instead of the 917th FG providing both aircraft, we will provide one aircraft and accompanying maintenance personnel to go to Tucson TDY on a voluntary basis.

What is the reporting structure?

The GSUs are organized as fighter groups so they have a group commander who reports directly to me, just like our operations, maintenance and mission support groups here. I will spend a lot of time on the phone with them and we will do teleconferencing at least once a month. Also I plan to visit each GSU quarterly.

What additional tasks will the 442nd have?

The only ones who should be affected by this are the wing staff and personnel functions. For example, our judge advocate will be responsible for all legal issues at not just here, but also at the GSUs now. We will be doing the funding and hiring actions at the GSUs as well. The wing hasn't yet been given any additional manpower to support this, so I've requested the Site Action Task Force from AFRC to evaluate our requirements in hopes of getting additional positions to assist our Force Support Squadron and wing staff with the extra work.

How will this affect deployments?

There won't be more deployments necessarily, but there will be more opportunities to deploy. We will be able to share in what the GSUs are doing. The intent of putting all the A-10 combat power together is to allow the wing to support AEF deployments, which I have already volunteered us to do this upcoming year.

When you say 442nd FW, how will we differentiate who you're talking about now?

When I say "we, it means the entire fighter wing, including the GSUs. Otherwise, I'll make sure to say Whiteman, Barksdale, Moody or Davis-Monthan personnel.

How can I find out if the GSUs are hiring?

As with any reserve position, you can look on Reserve Management Vacancy System, which you can get on through www.afpc.afrc.af.mil. For full-time positions, you can check www.usajobs.com. Also, we are going to begin directly notifying you of available positions at the GSUs through Whiteman e-mail.

What are some of the problems we're having?

The biggest problems we are having are getting the manning documents straightened out. For example, Barksdale was part of a bomb wing and now they're part of a fighter wing. We have to work on getting documents realigned under the right wing. Also, we are establishing the roles and responsibilities of each person within the wing both at Whiteman and at the GSUs. Two of the GSUs are total force integration units, who work side-by-side with active duty units as well as with the tenant-host units. The civilian hiring process can also be complicated. Even when a position needs to be filled and we've found the right person for it, it can take a long time to complete the hiring process.

Why should I care about these GSUs?

This makes you part of the largest fighter wing in AFRC. That comes with benefits of additional opportunities for mobility, potential opportunities for full-time employment for those who are interested in moving to one of the GSU locations, chance to travel and the chance to share in additional TDYs and deployments. You can also join in the pride of knowing that you're part of the only reserve unit that provides A-10 combat power support.

The 442nd Fighter Wing is responsible for the host wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. as well as three geographically separated units: the 476th Fighter Group, Moody AFB, Ga.; the 917th Fighter Group, Barksdale AFB, La.; and the 924th Fighter Group, Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. Col. Eric Overturf is the wing commander for the 442nd FW. Full size


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