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Coffee Talk with Airmen

Action Items: (September)

  • Future Spouse Coffee Times:  Future coffee with spouses will be moved to 6 p.m. to help families with child care and job schedules. (OPR:  CC)
  • Automotive Boot Camp:  Spouses asked if there’s an opportunity to get an automotive “boot camp” event scheduled to help folks prepare for winter.  (OPR:  MSG)
  • Mental Health Provider Availability:  Families are also having difficulties getting appointments with MH providers and asked for more info to go out on who’s in the network downtown. (OPR: MDG)
  • Youth Center Holiday/Family Day Care:  Family members would like to have Youth Center sign-ups for holidays and family days. Specifically, they’d like to “sub-let” their slots out to others and avoid having to pay for a week of daycare (during spring break, for instance) while someone else could take advantage of the opening. There is a survey regarding childcare during family days at this point. Most said they hadn’t seen it. This is another signal that we haven’t quite figured out what our family care customers want (OPR: MSG)
  • Lower Fall Hall Age:  There was a suggestion to lower the age for unaccompanied minors in Fall Hall from 16 to 12. We put the question to our spouses and was happy to learn most folks agree this is a bad idea. That said, we do have an inconsistency between our 90MW instruction on age limits for unaccompanied minors and what we are currently doing at Fall Hall so we need to fix this. (OPR: MSG)
  • Shadow the Command Chief:  Chief opened up her schedule to have spouses accompany her. (OPR: CCC)
  • Commissary Issues:  Two issues regarding the commissary. (OPR: MSG)
    • Low Stock Levels:  A DECA employee told one of the spouses the commissary is going to lower stock levels. Is this true? If so, why?
    • Online Order Service:  Spouses overwhelmingly would like to see if we can get an online order service at the commissary. Apparently Davis-Monthan AFB has one in place.
  • Dorm Roommate Personality Match:  Our Airmen asked if we could put a “personality questionnaire” in place to better match roommates. The Command Chief explained this was a pretty tough thing to do given the timing of dorm arrivals and our occupancy rate but said she’d look into it. (OPR: CCC)
  • Bouncy Castle:  Bouncy castle at First Friday…it was a hit! Thanks Izzy!
  • TLE extensions:  The Judge Advocate and the 90th Comptroller Squadron are researching the issues. (OPR: CPTS / JA)
  • Pets and lodging during PCS seasons:  We will bring up the issue during the next Military Affairs Committee. (OPR:  CC)
  • Housing Clause:  The wait for on-base housing and lack of pet-friendly options are causing Airmen to enter into leases beyond the month-to-month scope, forcing them to fulfill the terms of their contract before moving on base. (OPR: CC)
  • Christmas Tree Lighting:  Last year’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony was underwhelming. Good news, we have a volunteer who is going to take this one on – Senior Airman Thomas from our own emergency management shop! Thanks Civil Engineer Squadron (OPR: CE, SrA Thomas)

Informational Items: (September)

  • BAH rates update:  We are in the initial stages of our base allowance for housing re-evaluation, along with a recap of what has been discovered so far.
  • OG Temperature:  One family member is unhappy her spouse is subjected to extremely hot temps in the operations group building as we continue our HVAC project there. We are almost finished. We advised she keeps engaging with unit leadership.
  • Resident’s Council:  We unveiled a proposal for a resident’s council to provide transparency to our partnership with Balfour Beatty and their performance here. This would be part of the Key Spouse Program.
  • Lack of Moving Companies:  We were asked if we were able to increase the number of moving providers during the permanent change of station season. The answer is no, but we did explain both the 90th Force Support Squadron Stop Loss initiative during Cheyenne Frontier Days season as well as the Air Force initiative designed to spread out PCS season to avoid these issues in the future. Return no later than dates are negotiable. We will use what we can to alleviate this issue in the future.
  • Gate 2 Safety:  Family members remain concerned about the lack of traffic signals on Missile Drive. We provided an update that covered the lights, speeding and the location of the future apartment complex.
  • Around the World Potluck:  This is a new event to bring F.E. Warren families together. See you there!
  • Then There Were Only 6:  Only six Airmen were at the coffee. This engagement is to facilitate open communication. Interestingly enough, several Airmen complained about a lack of participation from other Airmen in events they have planned. We had a pretty robust conversation about leadership expectations and event planning.
  • Optometrist:  We explained having a lack of an optometrist is only a temporary problem.
  • Fitness Acclimation:  An Airmen asked to extend the acclimation period. We recommend seeing a medical provider if it is a medical issue.
  • Moving Tactical Response Force Stage Location:  One Airmen asked if we could stage the TRF vehicles in a different location because it temporarily restricts parking. We will not compromise security for parking spaces.
  • New Security Forces Schedule:  SF Airmen are really looking forward to the proposed scheduling changes in January.

Action Items:

1. Interim Security Clearances (OPR: DOS / IP) – Much like all new AF personnel, clearances can take quite a while. I was surprised to hear that waivers for some clearances (like Secret) were not being used. We will have IP remind commanders when interim clearances can and should be used. Chief McCoy and I explained why clearances are taking so long and what we are doing to prioritize clearances and mitigate gaps. 

    • WAY FORWARD:  Awaiting IP action. OPEN.

2. Training Days (SFG / MSG) – Both SFG and FSS folks would like more structure and substance to their training days. They are hungry for more! I’d like SFG and FSS to take a look at their training days and ensure we are being productive. 

    • BLUF:  Although both SFG and MSG have training programs in place, we continue to work on refining the structure. Specific to FSS, as requested, there are three different “training days”: 1. FSS Warrior/Training Day (first Thursday), 2. MSG Warrior Day (third Thursday), and 3. MAFFO Day (occurs on a schedule specific to MAFFO). Good info for all of us to know.
    • DISCUSSION:  Airmen assigned to MAFFO are in 1 of 4 status’ at any given time (1. Tripped Out, 2. Protected Days Off, 3. MAFFO Day (training/office work), 4. Official Leave.)  The intent for MAFFO day is more than just “training,” it is for dedicated white space on the Airmen’s schedule to accomplish a multitude of requirements which include: training, medical appointments, general housekeeping tasks at MAFFO, and other appointments/tasks that cannot be accomplished while in the field/tripped-out; and these include items that we prefer for them not to accomplish on their protected days off. Training includes: CDC studying/training, executing MAF inventories, accounting, storeroom ops, food handlers training, ServSafe, physical fitness, MAF site inspections and basic housekeeping. Additionally, FSS incorporate SABC, CPR/AED and Home Station Readiness training because the Airmen assigned to MAFFO may not be able to participate in the FSS or MSG Warrior/Training Days. Reference cross-sharing across sections, training days are also used to assist members in CDCs, based on the volume they are studying, to rotate to another section to gain more hands-on experience within that volume (i.e. if they are studying fitness, the intent is for the Airmen to go to the Fitness center).
    • WAY FORWARD:  We can do better. Both SFG and MSG are developing more detailed training plans and will engage with the CEM reference finalization and implementation. Flight leadership will reemphasize the importance of properly utilizing MAFFO days for their intended purpose. This will, however, include tasks/duties outside of the scope of ‘training’ but must be accomplished to keep the mission going. 
    • Additionally across the squadrons, MSG has an integrated “MSG Warrior Day.” Warrior Day is planned in conjunction with leads from all MSG units with leads planning training for the group and/or squadron specific training. We have to try to minimize class time and PowerPoint during Warrior Days. The majority of the training is hands on items such as land navigation, use of force, Warrior Ethos Challenge, etc. We will also continue to ramp up training as we work towards Phase I & II type exercises in the MSG this fall.
    • RESPONSE (FSS)
      • The FSS incorporated our Airmen’s feedback to refine the Missile Chef Airmen’s training plan.  This truly was a team effort amongst the Airmen assigned to MAFFO.  Missile chefs provided direct input of tasks and events via an idea challenge while a Tiger Team consisting of missile chef airmen formed a structured training plan.  The Tiger Team incorporated the ideas submitted by their peers along with section chief training requirements to formulate an overall training plan.  Airmen will rotate to another section within the FSS for familiarization and training at least once a month in addition to tasks and training accomplished at MAFFO.  Leadership, along with the Tiger Team, will continue to manage the training plan to ensure it is sustainable while ensuring Airmen’s time is used appropriately to accomplish training and tasks.  

         

        Here’s some more details.  Our chefs were asked by their section leadership to provide their top ideas of things they would like to accomplish on MAFFO days in addition to what leadership identifies as necessary training for MAFFO days.  Subsequently, a Tiger Team consisting of 4 NCOs and 7 Airmen were asked to form a structure plan to incorporate the ideas submitted by their peers into a training schedule.  The Tiger Team in conjunction with the section leadership created their training plan which was also reviewed by the Squadron Superintendent and Commander. 

         

        Chefs may average anywhere from 2-4 MAFFO days per month.  In most instances, the chefs work the following schedule:  4x days tripped out, 3x days protected time off and 2x days MAFFO days and then they repeat.  Sometimes they may have an additional day off between MAFFO days and tripping out, but it varies depending on peoples leave schedules, TDY, code change, etc. 

         

        MAFFO days are more than just “training” days.  Lt Col Ramirez actually pushed for the term MAFFO Day vice ‘training day’ to give greater flexibility to the section to manage the time.  A big reason for MAFFO Day is it provides Airmen dedicated white space to accomplish tasks that we don’t want them to have to use their protected days off to accomplish.  MAFFO Days will include tasks such as: ancillary training, PT, inventory & accounting training / remedial training, CDCs, medical appointments, general housekeeping tasks at MAFFO, home station readiness training (Warrior Day type events) and other appointments/tasks that cannot be accomplished while in the field/tripped-out.  Additionally, based on the chef inputs, MAFFO Days will also incorporate some type of team building/morale event. 

         

        The secondary part is getting Airmen out to other sections for familiarization and training.  The goal is that at least 1x of the MAFFO days per month, the Airmen will rotate for the day to either:  DFAC, Fitness, Readiness or Community Services.  Chefs will accomplish an AAR to capture pros/cons to the training and ensure the training was viewed as valuable by the Chef.  Activities must use the CFETP in the Chef’s training folder to document the tasks started/trained. 

         

        This is vitally important and something we will continue to manage and finesse based on manning and training requirements.  Additionally, this puts a sustainable plan in place and helps ensure we don’t run out of steam after 6 months.  In order to be sustainable, it will continue to evolve…we’ll never get to ‘perfect’ fix, but we will continue to manage to ensure we are actively engaging and utilizing our Airmen’s time appropriately. “ 

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    • We are going to keep this one open to revisit later this quarter. OPEN.

3. Chef rotations (MSG) – Chefs would like to be considered for rotation to other FSS jobs. Many have been in the field for years. They asked if they could do rotations to other FSS sections on their training days to learn more about their jobs…holy cow…they really want to grow! We owe it to our Airmen to deliberately develop them. The Chief and I want to know more about the Services Airmen rotation plan and challenges. Let’s discuss concurrently with the training day discussion.

    • BLUF:  This is a numbers problem that we have to manage. The majority of Services Airmen positions are at MAFFO, and unfortunately there are not enough billets in the other FSS sections for one-for-one duty rotations. Recently, we have had high turnover in MAFFO duty positions for various reasons. In that same time, we have only had to rotate 3-4 personnel back to MAFFO who have already completed tours in order to fill the gap. Additionally, based on inbounds, there are approximately 16-19 personnel assigned to main base who have never been assigned to MAFFO. We will continue to carefully work the rotation planning.
    • DISCUSSION:  There are 100 3F1 billets in the FSS (MAFFO: 61, DFAC: 21, Fitness: 15, Lodging: 3, Community Services Flight: 3). In FY20, the squadron will lose the three billets assigned to lodging and should move under the Community Services Flight. Within the Sustainment Flight (FSV), 82 of 100 billets are food service related. Ideally we prefer to have our Airmen assigned to MAFFO no greater than two years. The high turnover, however, has resulted in some Airmen needing to stay at MAFFO longer or having to rotate Airmen back to MAFFO after already completing a tour. 
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    • Previously, FSS engaged with AFGSC and AFSVC regarding the possibility of Missile Chefs being a controlled tour. However, based on how we have to rotate personnel between main-base and MAFFO, we concluded this was not the right way forward. We considered if 3F1 positions should be a code 50 to force a mandatory move at a certain point of time, but this only impacts their total time on station. This still could potentially mean an Airman may be at MAFFO longer than two years or will rotate back if required. Additionally, the core lengths (12 months and 18 months) make it more difficult to rotate Airmen in/out of sections. We are being told the career field will reduce the 18 month requirement to 12 months, we are just waiting on final guidance. This will help with some of the issues, but not all.  

 

    • WAY FORWARD:  We will continue to carefully work the rotation planning. The MAFFO mission must be filled 100% and is the one area within the FSS/FSV flight in which we can take the least amount of risk. Unfortunately, due to high turnover, Airmen will have to remain at MAFFO longer or rotate back in order to execute the mission. We are dedicated to continuing our best efforts to maintain a fair and equitable rotation plan to limit the number of Airmen who may stay at MAFFO past the 2-year point. MSG will better communicate with Airmen to ensure everyone understands the current situation and the expectations. CLOSED.

4. Dorm 838 (CCC / SFG / MSG / MDG) – Dorm residents brought up concerns about the conditions in Bldg. 838. I’ll ask Chief Bettisworth to reach out to the groups and get the right folks together to check this out. I’ll walk through the hallways this weekend and report what I find.

    • BLUF: Dorm Management walked through each room in Bldg. 838 to assess the living conditions and the report of possible mold. They found that there was not a visible case of mold in any of the dorm rooms. In addition, the CE team made contact with 12 individuals and asked if they had any concerns. Nobody reported any issues to the team, but we did notice some mildew from damp conditions.
    • WAY FORWARD: Dorm Management will send an email to all of the residents in Dorm 838 informing them to have their A/C constantly running between 68-72 degrees. This will aid in dehumidifying the rooms to eliminate mildew. There were quite a few A/C units with filters that had not been cleaned and were clogged. The dirty filters inhibit airflow throughout the room. Dorm Management will ensure Airmen are educated on how to accomplish the filter cleaning. MSG also contacted with Bioenvironmental on the concern, but after the site visit no issues were noted.
    • We acknowledge Dorm 838 is far from an ideal dorm. However, our dorm requirements drive us to use this facility.  We will continue to monitor conditions.  OPEN.

5. AGE (MXG) – MXG troops believe we should turn our AGE over to the Guard or contract it out.  I’ve heard this before, but we really haven’t come to a solution. I’d like the MXG’s thoughts on this. Awaiting MXG recommendation. 

 

    • DISCUSSION: MXG looked at this from a broader perspective and tried to see what the root of the problem is.  Bottom line, AGE Airmen are concerned about keeping up with their peers at larger flying units.  The challenge at the missile wings has always been experience.  MXG has given their Airmen every opportunity to excel with keeping them employed when required on the AGE equipment assigned (17 Powered, 25 Non-Powered).  They are pursuing an MOA with the Guard to give their Airmen more opportunity to see more equipment, but the Guard equipment is either deployed or not used very often. 
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    • WAY FORWARD: MXG worked with their MAJCOM functional to ensure only 5 Level Airmen are PCSing in, so the younger, less experienced Airmen go to bases where they can gain better experience.  The other thing MXG has worked with the functional is coding their Airmen for no more than a 3-year tour to ensure they are rotated out.  They have done a great job getting their AGE Airmen deployments to further their experience, but also want to continue to challenge them and make them feel like a part of the mission here. They have utilized Airmen in the Learning Center and Plans and Scheduling.  AGE Airmen have value and purpose here.  MXG recognizes how they get behind in experience, and will continue to find ways to enhance their experiences.  When they leave here they may be limited in what they can do at larger units, but once again the functional recognizes this and is putting a few things into play.  As we move forward to the new aircraft, MXG is looking at incorporating the AGE upkeep to the contractors.

 

6. Loan Repayment Program (MSG) – We were asked if we can bring back the loan repayment program. MSG, I apologize if this belongs to CPTS. The education office might be able to help us understand what that program was and why it went away. This might be something we don’t have control over, but we would like to get more information on the status of the program.

    • BLUF: Participation in the program is determined during the initial enlistment. Enrollment in the Enlisted College Loan Repayment Program (ECLRP) must be annotated as part of the enlistment contract on the AF Form 3008, Supplement to Enlistment Agreement. If not annotated on their enlistment contract, there’s no provision that would allow an Airmen to ‘opt-in’ to the program after signing their enlistment contract with their Recruiter. 
    • DISCUSSION:  The program is only available for non-prior service active-duty enlisted Airmen. Airmen must have entered AD on/or after 5 May 2000 (no exceptions). The ECLRP statement must be clearly annotated on the AF Form 3008.  Program pays up to $10,000 over 3-year period, minus taxes. 
    • As of 1 Oct 2013, Airmen are awarded one of the seven eligible AFSCs (listed below).  The remaining pool of eligible Airmen would be very small and limited to those who haven’t used the program, but based on above guidance would still need annotation on the AF Form 3008.
      • 1W0X1 Weather
      • 3D032 Cyber Systems Operations
      • 3D033 Cyber Surety
      • 3D034 Computer Systems Programming
      • 3D131 Client Systems
      • 3D132 Cyber Transport System
      • 4H031 Cardiopulmonary Laboratory
    • WAY FORWARD:  Our education team is looking into all programs similar in nature to offset student loans that we can share with supervisors. Additionally, if Airmen need assistance with financial planning, our financial advisors at the Air and Family Readiness Center stand ready to assist Airmen with their financial literacy and help create budgets/research avenues in repaying debts. CLOSED.