Friday, February 22, 2013

Conversion immersion: 188th preps Airmen for mission change

by Senior Airman John Hillier
188th Figher Wing Public Affairs

An MQ-9 Reaper flies above Creech Air Force Base, Nev., during a local training mission. The 42nd Attack Squadron at Creech AFB operates the MQ-9. The 188th Fighter Wing is currently in the beginning stages of converting from A-10C Thunderbolt II "Warthogs" to an MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Paul Ridgeway) Hi-res

2/20/2013 - FORT SMITH, Ark. -- The upcoming mission conversion for the 188th Fighter Wing has many Airmen asking questions about their futures with the wing.

The 188th is currently in the beginning stages of converting from A-10C Thunderbolt II "Warthogs" to an MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) mission.

The 188th's mission conversion team hosted a knowledge expo to familiarize unit members with the new Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) positions slated to be a part of the new mission. The expo also furnished unit members with the opportunity to speak with personnel from other units who are already in those career fields.

"Our end goal is to make sure that people are aware of the larger options that are out there," said Lt. Col. Toby Brallier, 188th conversion project officer. "I can tell you what the job is, but I can't tell you what it's like to live the job and what to expect on a daily basis. So we brought in some people from other units who work these same jobs so they can field questions about their specific jobs."

Positions in RPA crews, Distributed Ground Systems (DGS) and targeteering will have the largest number of openings. But Brallier said these won't be the only career fields that are going to be available.

Manning documents are not expected to be released until March so the conversion team is still dealing with a lot of unknowns.

"There are some job aspects that must wait to be discussed until unit members receive security clearances," Brallier said. "But what the team can do in the interim is give people broad, general overviews and provide opportunities to talk with other Airmen currently doing these jobs.

"There are also plans for unit members who currently hold security clearances to view more detailed briefing on the Secure Internet Protocol Router (SIPR) Network."

During the expo, subject matter experts provided overviews of individual AFSCs expected to be part of the conversion as well as details about training requirements.

Three sessions were held throughout the day, providing Airmen working various duty schedules an opportunity to attend. At each session, Airmen volunteers from the 123rd Intelligence Squadron, located at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.; the 178th Intelligence Group in Springfield, Ohio; and the 147th Reconnaissance Wing in Houston, Texas, were on hand provide their expertise and answer questions.

Brallier said that while many of the new jobs will require Top Secret security clearances and long technical training courses, the 188th is working hard to prepare its members for success.

"The conversion team will do everything it can to get information to unit members so they can make the best decisions for their future and the future of the wing," Brallier said.

Source (including 5 photos)

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