Col. Iverson (previous FW/CC) Q&A


NAVIGATION:

November 2015 CC Call

    February 2015 CC Call


    NOVEMBER 2015 COMMANDER'S CALL QUESTIONS (top)
    Round 1 (
    top): Here is the first round of your questions from the CC call. Thanks for taking the time to ask so many. I will continue to answer all of them over the next 1-2 months.

    Q: What is the possibility of adjusting our next deployment time frame 30 days to the left or the right in order to know which fiscal year deployment money comes from? Can we eliminate simultaneous multiple TDY & AEF movements and effectively schedule Troop/equipment movements with at least 10 day window between events?

    I put these two questions together since they are similar. Unfortunately we do not get to set our TDY or deployment schedule. We make requests/suggestions and identify areas of risk to Air Combat Command (ACC) but ACC makes the final decision for the TDY/deployment timeline by looking at all the requirements and the units available to fill the tasking. Also, we do not have control over the airlift or tanker aircraft supporting our movements.  Those aircraft are controlled out of Scott AFB by Air Mobility Command. Our TDYs and deployments are only a fraction of the daily, weekly and monthly movements around the world. Many of these movements are competing for the same support aircraft and AMC has to deconflict all of the requests. I know this may cause a challenge due to fiscal year funding constraints and stress our logistics experts, but we are simply one part of the entire worldwide plan.

    Q: Why are deployments happening so often compared to other bases?

    The information I have suggests our deployment tempo is comparable to other bases. I just attended an Air Combat Command video teleconference and we looked at all the bases in ACC. The deployment requirements are being spread evenly across all the bases in ACC. Some career fields may be deploying more than other career fields based on the request for forces from the combatant commands. For example our 3M (dining facility, fitness center, lodging) career field is heavily tasked, and because not every base has a 3M career field, they may end up deploying more often than others at Mt Home.

    Q:  Sir I've noticed the base has been spending money on things that do not build morale for the airman. Are airmen getting anything in the future?

    The base has worked hard and spent money on the following morale related items over the last 18 months- the fitness center, indoor pool, base theater, DFAC, golf course, bowling alley, library, Gunfighter Kid's Gym, mini golf, Outdoor Recreation, Strike Marina and the Gunfighter Club (some club programs-Thursday Night Football, Hot Havana Nights, Margaritas/Quesadillas).  In the future we will be adding running trails, an entertainment/recreation area near the bowling alley, expanding the marina, new pavilions near the dorms and bringing the new community center in Gunfighter Park online. Additionally, we put new appliances into the dorms. We are trying hard to bring quality services to all of the Gunfighters and their families. If there are things you would like to see, please fill out a comment card located at most FSS facilities across the base. We are always looking for new ideas and want to continue increasing the quality of life at Mt Home.

    Q:  Batting cages? I took a survey a couple months ago and was interested?

    This answer ties into the question above. We are in the process of designing a recreation/entertainment area near the bowling alley. The idea is to have an area that is somewhat like Wahoos in Boise...bowling alley, mini golf, batting cages, playing fields, and possibly even a go cart track. The batting cages will be installed there.

    Q: Might there possibly be a community center of sorts in the future? A place where people can go and hang out with friends and family?

    A community center being built by BBC across from the TLFs in Gunfighter Park. Besides the community center building, there will be a splash park, volley ball court, tennis court and basketball court.  Additionally, a picnic pavilion, outdoor rest rooms, playing field and running paths are being built. As more money becomes available, we will be able to ask BBC to add additional amenities in this area.

    Q: Why are the fitness center renovations scheduled to take so long?

    The contractor hired to do the renovation to both the cross fit room and the main weight room bid the job at a certain price and for a certain period of work.  Due to the size of the workforce in the local area, the contractor also has many of the same individuals working on multiple projects around the base. We have worked with the contractor to shorten the amount of time down as much as possible. FSS will make sure workout equipment is available by moving equipment out of the current weight room to minimize the impact.

    Q:  Sir, Airmen get the opportunity to standout as early as SrA BTZ. Officers can't stand out until Lt Col BTZ. Is the AF looking at this to help retain talent?

    The Air Force is not currently looking at this. Personally I think the first opportunity to be below the zone for officers comes at the appropriate time.  Officers have had enough different jobs and time to show superior sustained performance by the time they come up for Lt Col. When below the zone promotions to Major were done away with a few years ago, I was glad to see it happen. Below the zone to Major is too early to begin picking officers to serve at senior ranks.  Because of the way officer promotions and future jobs are decided, those who got promoted early to Major had an advantage. However, a number of those officers promoted early did not perform well later in their careers because they did not have a wide enough variety of jobs to prove their capabilities before being promoted.

    Q:  Are u aware some squadrons give their troops a hard time over purchasing required cold weather and safety items needed to do their job?

    I am not but I will talk to the group commanders and see what is happening. Individuals should not be denied required safety equipment or required cold weather gear.  Thanks for letting me know. I will find out.


    Round 2 (
    top):

    Q: Why not allow active military personnel to undergo the proper training to certify the carrying of a weapon on base? With the attacks on bases, is there something in the budget submitted to Congress to allow members to carry weapons on base at CC's discretion? With respect to force protection, in the event that the NDAA passes, delegating CCW decision authority to Wing/Base commanders, how will you side?

    On 25 November 2015, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 was signed into law. Section 526 of the law requires by 31 December 2015, that the Secretary of Defense, "establish and implement a process by which commanders of installations in the United States...may authorize a member of the Armed Forces who is assigned to duty at the installation to carry an appropriate firearm on the installation if the commander determines that carrying such a firearm is necessary as a personal or force-protection measure".   This law is not directing commanders to allow concealed carry on base. The Air Force is in the process of implementing guidance to help standardize the force protection measures at all USAF bases. The arming guidance centers around three courses of action: security forces staff arming, the Unit Marshall Program, and allowing security forces personnel to concealed carry a firearm off installation if they are properly credentialed. We already arm all of our security forces members even when they are working staff positions and if they are properly credentialed they can be approved to concealed carry off installation. We are currently reviewing the Unit Marshall Program. This program will arm select members of each squadron while on duty after they have been nominated by their squadron commander and go through approximately 30-40 hours of training. Expect to see more about this in the near future.

    Q: Why is the deployment tempo high even though we don't have the manning?

    Our deployment ops tempo is at the same rate as other ACC bases. Yes we are undermanned and the USAF has acknowledged it needs to increase its manning.  However, the President has not changed our national military strategy and our deployments down range are assigned from the Joint Staff to meet the strategy the President has set forth. I do not think this will change for the next 3-5 years as long as the world situation remains similar to the way it is now. I know many career fields are stressed due to low manning and a high ops tempo.  When we have the option of conducting fewer TDYs within the U.S. we will do so or will fly them from home station if able.
                  
    On the manning front, after bottoming out in the 308,000 range the USAF is beginning to grow again.  In FY15 it grew to approximately 312,000 and in FY16 it will grow to approximately 316,000.  This growth is scheduled to continue for the next few year and will probably end somewhere between 325,000 and 335,000 people. Many factors will determine this final number and it may change depending upon what funding Congress determines is appropriate for the Air Force.


    Q: Can we get a dog park closer to base housing?

    The property near base housing has been rented by BBC for a 50 year time period. The Air Force cannot spend any appropriated funds on the BBC rented land. If you are interested in a dog park near housing in BBC rented areas, please contact BBC by visiting their office on base or calling 208-832-9900 to make the suggestion.

    Q: Are there any plans for a bigger indoor track with a better running surface, perhaps in a hangar?

    There are currently no plans for a bigger indoor track. We do not have military construction money available for a bigger fitness center and our hangars are fully utilized supporting the flying mission.

    Q: Are there any plans to do anything with the giant patch of land next to Bldg 512?

    Currently there are no plans to do anything with that land. However, CE has been working hard over the last 3-4 months on a 25-30 year plan for facilities and land around the base. This area could be used for a new wing building or new OG/MX building if we ever get military construction funding to do either of those projects.

    Q: When will the base take a second look at the local cost of living (i.e. BAH)?

    BAH rate changes are not determined by the base but rather a yearly Department of Defense process independent of the Air Force.  The Services have agreed to housing standards that allow members to receive a BAH correlating to what civilians who earn comparable amounts would pay for housing. That is, DoD uses housing standards to link housing costs with a particular paygrade. In 2015 BAH rates no longer included the cost of renters insurance and therefore were reduced by 1% when the DoD process calculated the new rates. The 2016 BAH rate may increase by 1.5%. However, the defense budget also includes a plan to slow BAH growth to achieve a 5 percent out-of-pocket cost, building on the 1 percent out-of-pocket adjustment authorized in the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.  The FY 2016 NDAA proposes gradually slowing the annual BAH increases by an additional 4 percent over the next 2 to 3 years until rates cover 95 percent of housing rental and utilities costs. We will know for sure as soon as the President signs to bill.  If you want to learn more about BAH and how it is computed I recommend you visit the following website--

    http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/Docs/perdiem/BAH-Primer.pdf


    Q: Is there any update of what's going to happen to Gowen and the A-10?

    There is nothing new with regard to Gowen and the A-10. The current plan is still to do an associate unit at Mt Home when the A-10s eventually retire. However, there is no timetable for the A-10 retirement and those plans can always change. Based on Congressional direction, the A-10 will be around for a few more years and therefore no one knows what will happen during this time period.


    Round 3 (
    top):

    Q: Now that base housing is civilian contracted out, doesn't enforcing commanders to live on base mean the government is forcing people into illegal contracts?
      
    No, forcing commanders to live on base is not forcing them into illegal contracts. The wing commander is delegated authority per AFI 32-6001 to decide which personnel are key and essential. Key and essential personnel are required to live on base. I have designated all commanders as key and essential.

    We took an exhaustive look at the subject of who should be key and essential last April and I decided to not change the policy. In the early 90's some commanders were not designated key and essential and lived off base. During some recalls those commanders consistently did not make the required 60 minute recall timeline. Based on all the feedback and looking at the alternatives, I decided to maintain the policy of commanders being key and essential personnel and therefore living on base. I think this has the added benefit of building a better team at the command level and making the wing more mission effective.


    Q: What is the process for screening people who are trying to get the Gunfighter FSS Pass?

    Personnel from the local area (Mountain Home, Grandview, and Bruneau) can request base access under the Gunfighter Pass program in order to use specific FSS facilities (Gunfighters' Club, Golf Course, Hackers Bistro or Trap & Skeet and Archery ranges).  Personnel must complete a Gunfighter Pass Application and a Background Check Consent Form at the Visitor Control Center during normal duty hours.  After signing the documents, and providing a valid photo ID, the individual's background is checked using the same process and standards used for all other MHAFB visitors.  If the individual passes the background check, they are issued a Gunfighter Pass.  Personnel issued a Gunfighter Pass are only allowed access to MHAFB to go to the identified FSS facilities and must follow specific routs of travel to and from these facilities.  Violations of the Gunfighter Pass program policies (e.g., individual in an area not covered under the Gunfighter Pass program) will result in immediate seizure of the Gunfighter Pass and debarment from the installation.  The Gunfighter Pass only allows access for the individual issued the pass and their children (under the age of 18).  Personnel with a Gunfighter Pass have no sponsorship or escort authority. 

    Q: You mentioned starting some major exercises in January. I'm on the WIT; how will this be possible with only two IG personnel to train and guide us?

    Our Wing IG team is facing the same manning constraints that most career fields are dealing with.  Unfortunately the majority of IG positions are not funded, so out-of-hide fills to IG only add more pain to other areas throughout the wing that are also facing manning constraints.  The IGI shop is adjusting by streamlining our inspection and exercise schedule for CY2016 to focus efforts on the AFI 90-201 requirements and events that align with our wing mission, vision, and priorities.  You can expect the future of Gunfighter exercises to rely heavily on our WIT-trained members throughout the wing as Subject Matter Experts to provide commanders at every level exercises that meet their priorities.

    Q: With the eventual close of inpatient services at this base in 2019, what measures are being taken to ensure the standards of care are being met by Elmore County?

    St Luke's recently secured hospital accreditation through the The Joint Commission for the Elmore County Hospital.  This is the first step in a process that includes a new emergency department, a new inpatient facility, and the hiring of general surgeons, obstetricians, and the support staff necessary to expand their capabilities.  St Luke's has also been gracious enough to allow Col Moore to sit on their hospital board as a non-voting member with full transparency of their projected growth and the challenges they face while growing.  In regards to the quality of care provided by the St Luke's system, our community is in good hands.  St Luke's is nationally recognized as one of the top medical systems in terms of safety, quality, and patient satisfaction.

    Q: Why are we told mental health won't affect PCSing but just going once can cause orders to PACAF to be canceled?

    It is the intent of senior leadership to remove the stigma of seeking mental health care; however, in certain cases you are correct.  PACAF and CENTCOM both have restrictions on certain mental health diagnoses, and the simplest answer is that both theaters have limited mental health resources.  Think of this the same as the limitations we have down range and overseas for treating other, similarly complicated medical issues that require specialized care or specialized resources. It would be worse for an individual with a mental health condition to PCS to a location that does not have the ability to care for them.

    Q: Can something be done about the amount of time a military member has to wait to see his or her health care provider on this base?

    The 366th Medical Group has made patient access to see their specific provider a priority.   This is called "continuity," and multiple studies have demonstrated that seeing your own personal provider at each visit improves the quality of care you receive.  Depending on how acute your problem is, the hospital tries to book you with your personal provider, even if other appointments with other providers are open earlier.  With regard to your question, all primary care clinics (Family Practice, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine and Flight Medicine) simplified their appointment process in order to increase the number of available appointments and reduce the wait time.  We have recently added same day appointments reserved for Active Duty members only.

    Keep in mind, though, that our Urgent Care Clinic (UCC)  is available 24/7 for any emergent or urgent medical issues.  And, we also offer secure messaging, which is a way for patients to contact their provider electronically through MiCare (https://app.relayhealth.com/RegistrationV2.aspx) so that they do not have come to physically come in for an appointment.  

    Right now, there is a two day wait for acute appointments (problems like a new sinus infection), a six day wait for routine and follow up care, and a two week wait for specialty appointments.  Compare this to our civilian counterparts...they have an average wait time of 18 days for both primary and specialty care.

    Our medical team is focused on providing you and your family with the best possible care in the safest possible manner.


    Q: So we hear a lot about the 726. That they are a tenant unit and deploy a lot, but who are they? What do they do? Why do they deploy so much?

    The 726 ACS is one of three active duty Air Control Squadrons (ACS) in the US Air Force.  It is a squadron of approximately 350 personnel that includes officer and enlisted battle managers, communications operators, maintainers, and supporters.
    The mission of the 726 ACS is to provide battle management, command and control (BMC2) to joint force commanders as a Control and Reporting Center (CRC) Weapons System.  The core tasks within BMC2 include: 

    1. Weapons control - providing air-to-air and air-to-surface tasking and targeting 2. Air surveillance - detecting, identifying, and tracking aircraft 3. Airspace management - deconflicting aircraft and fires within the airspace to enable the mission while reducing the risk to friendly forces 4. Tactical datalink management - coordinating, establishing, maintaining, and employing digital messaging between friendly forces.


    Q: With the GME happening earlier than usual and the fact the 726 ACS is participating in Red Flag in Feb, what involvement is expected if any from the ACS?

    The 726 ACS plans on participating in GME.  The level of participation will depend on the level of participation and training requirements for the NATO and US E-3 AWACS that are both projected to participate in the GME.  Further coordination will take place to determine how the platforms will divide the battle management responsibilities for GME.  The 726 ACS may also provide convoys to facilitate moving target training.  The vehicles and personnel tasked to support the convoy to and from Red Flag 16-2 may limit the amount of convoy support available from the 726 ACS.

    Round 4 (
    top):

    Q: Can the fitness assessment weather requirement be raised in regards to running in the annex? Current requirement is 20 degrees?

    Fitness AFI says that we can test outside in temps of no less than 20 degrees but it doesn't say you have to test outside in 20 degree weather.  Since this question has come up, we've set the standard cutoff at 35 degrees for testing outside.  However, those who want  to test outside down to 20 degrees should ask and be allowed to test outside. I will put out new written guidance.

    Q: Can we get a rock climbing wall?

    A rock climbing wall is being placed in the pool area.  We will look and see if it is possible to place an additional rock climbing wall in the Fitness Center. For children, there is a rock climbing wall in the Youth Center.

    Q: Are we going to get cameras in the common areas in the dorms?

    We are in the process of installing cameras in one of the dorms as a test project.  This is a pilot program to see what happens, how they are used and if we need to make changes to the requirement prior to installing cameras into all of the dorms. These cameras will be in the common areas of the dorms (such as laundry rooms, hallways, common rooms). They will not be actively monitored but will record video and be used if an event warranting their review occurs. So instead of dorm wide Saturday morning GI parties, those who are responsible for damage, theft ,or making a mess can be identified and held accountable.

    Q: Will PT requirements slack with the new ESS?

    There are no plans to change the PT requirements.

    Q: Any plans for a disc golf course?

    Yes, the golf course recently set up a 9 hole disc golf course.  You can look at the MHAFBfun.com website to find more information. We are looking at other locations to set up a permanent disc golf course and will advertise its locations when we do.

    Q: How come leadership pushes self-improvement by taking classes and says there are "other ways" of self-improvement but those other ways aren't pushed as much?

    I am not sure exactly what advice your leadership/supervisor has given you. Taking classes can be an important way for self-improvement especially if it directly relates to your job or gaining critical thinking skills.  However, as you have stated there are other ways to achieve self-improvement (reading, working out, hobbies, sports, volunteering, church, family, clubs). No matter what someone else is pushing, find something you enjoy that will help your mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing and get involved.  

    Q: Can the base build a rifle shooting range for recreational use?

    We will take a look at the requirements, funding and legal issues to set up a shooting range.

    Q: Are there any plans to build new dorms?

    No. Our dorm residency rates are lower than the USAF average. In fact we are in the process of closing our oldest dorms.

    Q: With our current manning shortfalls can WIC/Red Flags be flown from here? Can debrief take place over secure comms?

    We are looking for opportunities to fly exercises out of Mt Home. Due to the classification levels of some exercises and the benefit of training face to face with other squadrons, we will continue to go to exercises such as Red Flag. We recently did convince ACC to allow us to fly 2 exercises in April from home station. This will allow many of our folks to stay at home for an additional month before deploying next Fall. We will continue to look at each exercise individually and make the decision to fly from home station or a TDY location based on the value of the training and the impact on of quality of life.


    Round 5 (
    top):

    Q: In regards to the DSD process why are we not receiving feedback on not being vectored?

    Per PSDM 15-73 - Developmental Special Duty (DSD) Nomination and Selection Process, there is currently no guidance that dictates a requirement of feedback for non-selection for DSD. However, this is at the discretion of the individual's supervisor and squadron leadership. Although feedback on vectoring is not mandatory, at a minimum it should be covered in the mandatory ACA feedbacks. DSD vectoring is a competitive process to fill the number of openings. Not everyone's record will make the cut even though they are qualified. Additionally, in certain cases we cannot vector our top rated candidates because we need them here in their career field. If individuals have questions, they should talk to their supervisor.

    Q: Can the dining hall hours increase for the maintainers who have to launch jets during chow hours?

    FSS is currently working on a survey to obtain feedback on what hours would work best for the majority of the customers. The current hours can be changed, however extending the hours will result in an increase to contract costs. Once the new hours are determined, FSS will track utilization to determine which hours of operation are most practicable. We should expect to see the survey out Jan 16. Hopefully the new carryout policy has helped raise the quality of life for any of our dorm residents. Please make sure those carryout containers make it into the trash.

    Q: vPC is garbage. Each program & process that replaces the personnel technician sucks more than the last. Why can't leadership choose more user-friendly systems?

    For those who do not know, vPC is a system designed and built by the Air Force for the purposes of routing and tracking evaluations and decorations. I agree that there are a number of challenges with vPC.  I know many units use work arounds to ensure evaluations and decorations are completed and routed when vPC is not working. I do not know why the Air Force chose vPC, but it is currently the only system we have for this purpose and we have to work with it until it gets fixed or we obtain a new system.  As problems are identified, the program is being improved so push the issues you find up to the FSS so they can engage with AFPC.

    Q: What's the possibility of getting more lights on the road between the gym and the annex/ALS bldg? (CE)

    I will have CE look into whether the current levels of lighting between the Fitness Center, the Fitness Center Annex and the ALS building meet standards, and the cost and feasibility of adding additional outdoor lighting. We will also discuss this at the next Traffic Safety Council meeting, because even if it meets baseline standards it may still be a safety hazard.  It's likely that the soonest we could fund this would be close to the end of the fiscal year.

    Q: I have seen people parking in the road by the main gate F-15.  Shouldn't there be a parking lot just for that display?

    We have an installation development plan currently in process that looks 25 years into the future for the base. One of the items we are considering is moving the static to a different location. We will also look at the accessibility of the F-15E static as part of the future plan.

    Q: Sir, have you heard anything recently regarding changes to the retirement system?

    Yes, the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act enacted plans for changing the retirement system. The new law changes the retirement system for individuals who enter military service on or after 1 January 2018.  It also allows for those currently on active duty who have less than 12 years active service on 31 Dec 2017 ( 1 Jan 2006 or later active duty date) to enroll. It is known as the Modernized Retirement System.

    Under the new plan, the military will contribute 1% of a members annual pay to their TSP account and also match members own contributions up to 5% of their annual salary. There will also be additional contributions at certain points during a members career. However, the retirement pay for those serving over 20 years will be reduced. Those serving 20 years will receive 40% of their base pay and it will increase 2% per year...(40% for 20 years, 60% for 30 years, 80% for 40 years). Individuals who do not serve for at least 20 years will get to keep their TSP. This will benefit the 83% of our enlisted force who does not stay until 20 years.  The DoD is creating a program to educate everyone eligible for the new retirement system.  Eligible active duty members will be able to make a choice between enrollment in the old or new system.  The education program will also teach those who will automatically be enrolled in the new system how they can get the most benefit out of it. Look for more information starting in late 2016 or early 2017.


    Q: There were a number of questions regarding the German Air Force's "Mountain Roundup" exercise here at Mt Home.

    Due to real world deployments for the GAF, they decided to cancel Mountain Roundup. There are no plans to reschedule the exercise.

    Q: What can I do to attain Promote Now or Must Promote?

    I know this sounds overly simplistic, but the best way to attain a promote now or must promote is do the best job at work you possibly can.  The focus is on job performance.  Get your upgrades done as quickly as possible and get your education done when you are eligible. Supervisors notice the difference between those individuals who do only what is required by their job description and who accomplish their work accurately and on time and those who put in the extra work to help others in their job section. Your supervisors owe you feedback along the way so you know how to improve.  If you are not getting it, ask them.  If you are still having a problem getting feedback then elevate it to your shirt, chief or squadron commander.

    Q: Is there a chance for HYT extension for retention? With the current manning issues, what would be a reason not to allow HYTY extensions? With a good record, why would AFPC deny the extension?

    This past week the Air Force announced a new policy for HYT extensions.  Our FSS will soon put out information so everyone knows the new policy and what career fields are eligible.

    Q: Is there any word on the AF following the Navy's lead with extending the maternity leave from 6 weeks to 4 months?

    The Secretary of Defense recently decided he will standardize all of the services at 12 weeks of maternity leave and raise paternity leave from 10 to 14 days.  I have not yet seen the official policy and am not sure what date it will take effect.  As soon as it does we will put out an announcement.

    Q: Why are we getting so much equipment for the gym even though we don't have adequate space for everything?

    We have been in the process of upgrading and adding equipment to both the main gym as well as the annex for the last 18 months.  Additionally, we have been upgrading the main fitness building and the pool. The annex is fully outfitted, and once the pool is complete in late Feb and the main weight room is complete in April, we will have one of the best equipped facilities in the Air Force. We wanted to make sure we had enough equipment to handle peak usage times and minimize anyone's wait. Once everything is complete, I think we will have enough space for all of the equipment. If you have specific suggestions, fill out a comment card at the fitness center.

    Q: No question. I'm proud to be a Gunfighter!

    So am I! I think we have an amazing team with the best men and women in the Air Force.

    Round 6 (
    top):

    Q:  Why are DoD civilians and retirees not allowed to eat in the dining facility?

    AF regulations allow for retirees/dependents to eat at DFACs when on-base restaurants aren't adequate.  MHAFB has several eating establishments for retirees and dependents. Since these restaurants are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas, we do allow civilians and retirees to dine at our DFAC on these holidays.  Lastly, Airmen patronage is considerably less during the holidays and our staff can manage whomever decides to dine. Installation Dining Facilities are primarily for the use of Airmen residing in our dorms and are staffed for that population.  Allowing retirees and dependents to eat regularly at the DFAC would likely increase overall patronage and cause a manpower strain.

    Q:  The leave AFI no longer calls for mileage restrictions for travel.  Can commanders not impose "local area"/leave restrictions for holidays?

    AFI 36-3003 is clear about leave guidance and it does not mention anything about mileage restrictions for taking leave.  I believe what you are referring to with your question is a special pass. AFI 36-3003 allows commanders to give members of their unit regular and special passes. Commanders can issue 3 or 4 day passes IAW the regulation. I have included the pertinent section of the AFI below.  

    8.4. Regular and Special Pass Guidelines. Unit commanders:
    8.4.1. Impose no mileage restrictions. However, they may require members to be able to return to duty within a reasonable time in the event of an operational mission requirement such as a recall, unit alert, or unit emergency. At training bases, commanders can require members to be able to return in time to resume training or class attendance. Commanders need to base all restrictions on reasonable and legitimate military requirements.
    8.4.2. Inform members that the authorized absence that exceeds the pass period is chargeable leave if they fail to return from an authorized pass period.
    8.4.3. A special pass may be taken in conjunction with leave without a duty day between the special pass and leave period. The member must be physically present in the local area when departing and returning from leave. Leave may be taken either prior to or following the special pass but not both before and after the special pass.
    8.4.4. Do not grant special passes in succession or in series.
    8.4.5. Ensures the MPS processes an AF Form 988 when members fail to return from pass and need unplanned leave.
    8.4.6. Charge members leave for absence not excused under DoD Regulation 7000.14-R, Volume 7A.
    8.4.7. Inform members they cannot use regular or special pass periods to extend TDY periods.
    8.4.8. Do not grant a special pass in conjunction with non-duty days exceeding the 3-day or 4-day special pass limitation.
    8.4.9. Safe Travel Guidelines. Members on non-duty status (regular or special pass) should use Operational Risk Management (ORM) principles to assess all hazards and control risks prior to excessive or hazardous travel, especially by automobile. Applicable guidelines are in AFI 90-901, Operational Risk Management. A comprehensive ORM assessment may conclude that fatigue or road conditions are high risks requiring a change.


    Q:  Is there a chance for HYT extension for retention?

    Yes, as of 1 Feb the new HYT rules were made public.  All eligible members have been notified by the MPS.  Our FSS will be putting out additional information through PA channels.

    Q: With the current manning issues, what would be a reason not to allow HYT extensions? With a good record, why would AFPC deny the extension?

    Members have always been allowed to apply for an HYT extension and many career fields are now eligible under the new FY16-17 guidance.  If your career-field isn't on the list, you are still eligible to apply for an extension.  AFPC is the approval authority and makes its determination based upon the needs of the Air Force.  We encourage members who have compelling reasons to remain on AD to apply for an extension through their chain of command.

    Q: Can you speak to the status of quality of life initiatives such as longer PCS rotations, choice of assignments etc.?

    Members interested in longer PCS rotations may apply for voluntary stabilized base assignments.  Application information may be found in the self-service actions area under the assignments tab in vMPF.  For more information you can visit the Assignments section in myPers or our MPS. 

    Q:  Sir, When do you think the final decision will be made for the SRB?

    Guidance was released 1 Feb 16.  

    Q: Any chances of some career fields getting bonuses back with Air Force allowing people who separate to come back now?   Retain some of people we already have?

    The Air Force released the new SRB guidance on 1 Feb 16.  Our FSS will put out additional info through PA and you can visit the MPS for further information. 

    Q: Do you know anything about pay increases for the folks in 3D career fields based on the lack of retainability because the civilian world pays so well?

    As of 1 Feb 16, SRB eligible career fields were also announced.  The MPS has notified those affected.  These decisions are based on overall AF needs and future manning projections.  Although 3Ds aren't currently eligible, this is not necessarily an indication 3Ds won't be included at a later date.  

    Q: Can we get signs for the auto hobby shop? There are signs directing people to the golf course, movie theater, etc, but not to the auto shop?

    Our Civil Engineer team is working on updating all of the signs on base to make it easier to find the services offered.  The auto hobby shop will be included in this plan.

    Q: Can we get some lights out on the golf course for night golfing?

    There are no plans to install lights on the golf course for night golfing. We do not have enough individuals who golf to make this economical.  However, the golf course does have night golf a few times during the summer and early fall. You can check out the Whistle Weekly or the mass emails from FSS to see everything that is being offered each month.

    Q: Sir, is there any update of what's going to happen to Gowen and the A-10?

    The Secretary of Defense just announced the A-10 will be around until 2022. It sounded as if the USAF will retire the last A-10 in 2022 and therefore would have to begin some retirements a bit earlier but I am not 100% sure of the timing.  I expect to hear more information over the next few months as the Department of Defense rolls out the FY17 budget and discusses the plan for a number of weapons systems.

    Q: The gym is amazing. The kids' gym is amazing. The facilities improvements that I see are outstanding.

    Thanks for the statement. The entire team has worked extremely hard to implement a number of quality of life improvements for our active duty, civilians, guardsmen and families. We also have additional improvements in the works. You will see things like batting cages, additional running paths, disc golf, the upgraded pool with a rock climbing wall, upgrades to the kids gym, new restrooms at the theater, and the main fitness center weight room opening over the next few month and into the early summer. We are always looking for new ideas.  If you have an idea about additional services or how to make things better, please take the time to fill out a comment card at one of the FSS facilities. We will not be able to implement everything but we do look at every idea and determine if there is enough interest to make it economically viable.

    Round 7(
    top):

    Q: When will we be allowed to run on the perimeter road?

    Perimeter Road is now open to running/walking/biking.

     

    Q: We use a gov vehicle nearly daily & recently had ours taken away and have to share with another shop. Will there be a change in availability so we get one back?


    Recently an outside team took a look at all of our vehicles on base and determined the correct size of the vehicle fleet to conduct our mission, resulting in a decrease in the number of vehicles we own.  In some cases this has caused units to find a different way to accomplish their mission. If you believe the lack of a vehicle is causing an impact to your shops accomplishment of the mission, bring this up to your squadron commander. In the cases where the assessment team made a mistake, we need to highlight the impact to the mission and if not able to solve the problem from within our own resources, advocate for additional vehicles and explain why.


    Q: Is the recent change in the way we deploy going to be long-term?    

    The current AEF deployment method (AEF Teaming) has some challenges. About 18 months ago this wing led the way in highlighting the challenges of AEF NEXT, the previous method, to CSAF and COMACC. Based on our inputs and the subsequent inputs from other wings the AEF NEXT concept was changed to AEF Teaming. It still is not the ideal system based on aircraft deployments and Agile Combat Support deployments not being synchronized. The ACC staff is aware of the issue and the stress it is putting on the wings. Although I do not think the entire AEF concept will be changed, I do think the Air Force will continue to refine the deployment process and attempt to mitigate the stress it puts on wings that must continue to conduct home station operations with a large number of support personnel deployed.

    Q: I think the theater has been a huge success and the kids’ gym, are there any new plans for services this year? (I suggest Manchu Wok at the food court.)

     

    I think they have also.  I see a lot of families enjoying the free movies on Fri night, Sat and Sunday afternoon as well as at the Kids Gym. We are continuously looking for new services to bring to our base.  One of the next things we will open is the Splash Park at the community center (the new lighted tennis court and basketball court are already open). We will also be installing batting cages near the bowling alley.  The food services are run by AAFES and we do not have much say in who they contract with. We have asked about getting various food vendors but have not had much success.  My votes would be for Panera and Chipotle.

     

    Q: If the active shooter threats are insider threats, and everyone knows where the shelter in place locations are, what is the point of the shelter in place?

     

    Sheltering in place allows our security forces to respond to an active shooter incident without having a large number of people trying to move around on base. It also prevents individuals from becoming casualties by moving around and encountering an active shooter who may be moving. I know our SFS cannot be everywhere at once and as good as they are, an active shooter would be able to target a number of personnel before being neutralized if they walked into one our facilities and started shooting. In order to mitigate that risk from the insider threat we conduct active shooter training which includes being able to identify the signs of someone who may be likely to become an active shooter. We have also established the unit marshal program which arms members of each squadron based on squadron commander direction.

     

    Q: Are there any plans for extending hours or expanding the equipment (paint booth) for the auto hobby shop?

     

    Over the past couple of years we reopened and have been rebuilding the Auto Hobby Shop after it was closed and the equipment discarded. We are looking at how to expand the service.  In fact we recently bought the AAFES tire changing equipment when they shut down the service at the gas station.  If you have particular idea, go over to the auto hobby shop and make a recommendation for what additional equipment/services you would like to see.

     

    Plans/ability to turn the area painted as an ice hockey rink into a usable outdoor rink during the winter?

    There is not. The Boy Scouts on base cleaned up the old roller hockey rink because it fell into disrepair. We do not have the ability to make it into an actual ice hockey rink.

     

    Q: Is it true the DFAC will be replacing it's salad bar with pre-packaged individual salads?

     

    No, there are no plans to change the salad bar in any manner that may detract from the number of healthy, quality food options available for the Airmen.

     

    Q: Why has the DFAC started limiting the number of proteins per take out meal to two?

     

    Below is the explanation of why the policy is in place.  I will ask some questions to see what can be done to allow more proteins in a carryout.

     

    Air Force wide there was a considerable upward trend in the cost per meal average for Essential Station Messing (meal card holders).  The Air Force Services Agency instructed all bases to adhere to the standards set in DoDI 1338.10 Department of Defense Food Service Program (DFSP) and AFI

    34-145 Essential Station Messing Program.  These instructions state DFACs are to provide three reasonable meals per day; meals may be eat in or carryout.  Airmen are allowed two proteins per round for eat in meals; i.e., get your food with two meats, eat and go back again to do the same if desired.  However, for carry-outs it's two proteins per carry-out with the added restriction that Airmen are not allowed to eat in the DFAC and get a carryout during the same sitting.

     

    Q: Is there an actual dog park in the plans?

     

    There is a dog park near the Fitness Center on an old baseball field. There are no additional dog parks currently in the plans.

     

    Q: With the experience shortfalls due to manning, will the Air Force bring back the 7 level school program?

     

    I have not read or heard anything about bringing this program back.

     

    Q: Is there anything we can do for bldgs on base that can't seem to keep the heaters going in the winter? (Bldg 2215-specifically-also we need a new roof, please)

     

    Our CE Squadron does a great job of maintaining the facilities around the base. They also do an assessment of all the facilities and when we get money, we repair the facilities that are in the worst shape. When sequestration occurred a few years ago, the DoD took a large amount of money out of facility maintenance. Although money has been going back into this area, we are still not up to the pre-sequestration level.  Our team has done a lot of work recently in upgrading and repairing facilities, however I know we still have a large number of buildings that need additional repairs/upgrading. We will continue to advocate for military construction to build a new CE complex, a new tower and new DFAC. Additionally, we have been aggressive about having projects ready for end of year fallout money and the entire team has been very successful at getting those projects financed.

     

    If something in your building is not working, make sure your facility manager knows and submits the work order to CE.

     

    Q: Could we implement a "meal card" system for the DFAC and across base? That way we pay for only what we get, and can use it at other eating Establishments on base?

     

    What you describe is called Food Transformation and is in the plans. It's been implemented at several bases across the AF and yes, meal card holders can use their cards at the DFAC and all FSS restaurants. The program should come to all Air Force bases over the next several years. We currently do not have a date for implementation at MH but will keep pushing to get it here.

     

    Q: What is the status of an on base running trail? How long will it be?

     

    We are currently negotiating a contract to begin building the first phase of additional running trails on base.  This will be about 3 miles long.  We have plans for a multiyear program of adding additional running trails all over the base as money becomes available. The new system of trails will be about 20 miles long.

     

    Q: Sir, is there any chance we could get a wood and metal working shop on base?

     

    There is always a chance based on how many people are interested. The next time FSS does a survey, make sure you take the time to answer and make recommendations for what types of new services you would like to see.

     

    Q: Sir, with increasing forces, will promotions also increase?

     

    As the force size increases there will be some small increases in promotion rates for those career fields. The ratio will stay about the same as it is now.

     

    Q: How do you see deployments changing or staying the same over the next 2 yrs?

    I think we will stay at about the same current deployment tempo for the next 3-4 years and then it will hopefully begin to slow down. The Air Force is looking into changing the duration of some deployments.  If they do this, the length would decrease but the frequency of deployments for an individual may increase.  We will have to wait and see what if any changes are made. Of course the enemy gets a vote. Depending upon what happens around the world we may deploy more often or be able to cut back on our deployments sooner. There is no way to predict what another country or group will do.

     

    Q: Thanks for all you have done, it has been noticed across the board.

     

    Thank you. As leaders we deal with a lot of challenges every day.  It is great to be reminded that there are also things going well. The Gunfighters are a great team and it is amazing to watch everyone work together to get the mission done and support each other.


    Round 8 (top):

    Pre-deployment training. I think we can do a better job getting ready for our large scale deployments by starting our training in earlier months.  Can we do this?

    I agree, the pre-deployment training requirements can add a lot of work right prior to a deployment. I agree with the idea of being able to start some of the pre-deployment training a bit earlier. However, reporting instructions for each Combatant Command Area of Responsibility are set by the Combatant Command staff or component staffs. These reporting instructions specify how early the pre-deployment training can be accomplished in order to have the currency they feel is correct for the specific theater. Some of the requirements have been relaxed due to the exact point you raise. Others have been left the same. For example, many of the CENTCOM requirements specify they must be accomplished no earlier than 120-180 days prior to arriving in theater. We will have Mr. Miller bring up the topic at the next ACC AEF meeting and see if there are any additional areas where they can relax the requirements.

    Sir, can we take a knee on details such as bay orderly the day before and after the holidays.  These are not mission critical and decrease morale during holidays?

    I think if individuals who are performing bay orderly duties wish to take leave during the holidays and therefore we will not have enough individuals around to accomplish bay orderly duties, we can relax our standards a bit during that time. We should not tell anyone they cannot take leave because they have bay orderly duties.  However, if personnel are not on leave who are assigned bay orderly duties, they are still receiving a pay check and the duties should be accomplished.

    Is there any connection between low manning numbers and how often people are PCS'ing?

    I think there are two issues here.  One is how often individuals are PCS'ing and the other is the low manning numbers effect on the Air Force because I do not believe low manning has a significant impact on PCS rates. I have not seen any facts showing a recent increased or decreased Air Force wide PCS rate due to low manning. Over the last decade, the USAF has attempted to decrease the number of PCS's each year in order to save money not because of the manning numbers. This combined with the number of people assigned overseas has reduced the PCS rate. I think the rate is more tied to specific jobs and also to the need to return personnel from overseas assignments.

    However, I do think low manning numbers have increased the stress on many AFSCs across the Air Force.  Due to reductions in the DoD budget over the last few years, the USAF leadership made decisions to shrink the force down to approximately 309,000 people in order to keep modernization efforts underway.  They did this by reducing specific personnel and planning to divest equipment. These actions were to help ensure the Air Force will be able to conduct operations around the world in the 2030 timeframe while still being able to fight today's conflicts.  In order to keep the modernization efforts moving forward and keep the financial planning during the Fiscal Year plan on track, the personnel cuts were made before the final budget was approved. When Congress did not allow the USAF to divest the equipment but the cuts were already made, it left us short on personnel. At the same time, conflicts around the world and no reduction in the number of missions the Air Force is expected to fulfill have actually increased the personnel required to accomplish the National Defense Strategy. We are doing it on the backs of our people.

    Everyone now recognizes the USAF needs to grow and that growth is underway. We have currently grown back to approx. 312,000 people on the way up to 317,000 this year. Air Force leadership wants to continue that growth to 321,000 but will have to either take money from other programs within the USAF or convince Congress to fund 321,000 people. I believe this growth will continue and increase even further as ongoing manpower studies show more than 321,000 people are required to accomplish the missions our nation is requiring us to perform. However, this growth requires a significant amount of additional funding or cutting into current readiness or modernization.

    The initial growth to 321,000 will take 2-3 years before it has a real impact on the force because many of the individuals we bring into the force will be inexperienced and will have to go through their upgrades. The AF is mitigating this by the changes in High Year Tenure and allowing certain individuals who got out to come back in if they are interested.  

    In the end, I believe what impacts you day-to-day is a reduced quality of life because many of you are working harder than ever to get the mission done with decreased manning. I think you will start to see improvements over the next 2-3 years. In the meantime, we can continue reducing the number of TDYs we have to go on, continue taking a knee and slowing things down whenever we can, continue to invest in the quality of life initiatives here on base and continue to identify things in our work areas that we can either stop doing or do in a more effective/efficient way. You can make sure you take the leave you have earned each year to get away and relax. I know we ask a lot of you every day.  Thank you for your service to our nation. I know it is not always easy, even when you make it look like it is. We will keep fighting to make things better for you and your families while you get the mission done.   

    How does the AF plan on retaining personnel when it seems that every year they ask the SAME people to deploy, pulling them from their families and friends?

    This is a bit of an extension of the previous question. I do think we are putting a great deal of stress on some individuals due to the deployment requirements. Different career fields are under different stress loads. Our aviation packages typically deploy overseas at a 1:5 rate...6 months gone 2.5 years at home. Our hardest hit individuals are in certain Agile Combat Support AFSCs. They are deploying at a 1:2 rate...6 months gone, 1 year at home. Additionally because of this rate, we are also putting stress on people at home station. The under-manning and deployment rate force those at home to work harder to keep the mission going.  It is tough to reconstitute and ever catch a break.

    Big Air Force is aware of the stress members face and is attempting to mitigate these stressors in several ways.  The additional manpower being added will help to alleviate some of the pressure on the most stressed AFSCs.  I also think a change to the deployment length may help. Bottomline is...our Air Force is too small for what it is being asked to do and we have to either cut back on the requirements or grow larger. Locally, we will continue to focus on quality of life initiatives here at Mt Home, work to reduce certain TDYs and look for additional ways to reduce the workload.

    Anyone can make someone sound good on paper (1206s/910); how can we make sure the right people are being recommended for promotion?

    That is true, a rater can make anyone look good on paper. It is important we use our rating system to honestly and accurately rate our force.  There are differences in how people do their job.  The first step is for supervisors at all levels to give honest and constructive feedback to their subordinates and also be honest and accurate in their ratings.  Some people deserve a "exceeds most if not all expectations" rating, while others deserve a "met all expectations".  Secondly, the new process where commanders stratify those members of their squadron eligible for promotion prior to a board is a check and balance in case previous raters have not made the tough call and honestly rated someone. The combination of continuously providing honest/constructive feedback, rating accurately based on an individual's work performance and the new stratification process from commanders for the promotion recommendations will help ensure the right people get promoted. No system is perfect but I think the new system gets most things right.  We can talk about my opinion on volunteering be included in evaluations at a later date.

    Why do we continue to arm and train fighters who consistently turn against us? For instance those that defected to ISIS?

    I am not sure it is completely accurate to say those we have trained and armed in Syria have "consistently" turned against us.  Certainly, like you, I have read stories in the news where some groups we have trained and armed have indeed either given up their weapons or started fighting with another group. There are also examples of other groups who we have trained and armed, like the Kurds and members of the Free Syrian Army, who have fought and done well against ISIS. Each group involved in the Syrian conflict;  the Syrian regime, Russians, Iranians, Hezbollah, Kurds, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the myriad of Sunni groups, has a different vision of the outcome.  I don't think we truly understand what each group wants and there may not be a way to fully reconcile what each group we are supporting sees as their goal with our goals. In my opinion, training and arming people who live in the region and who have some similar goals to the US is much better than putting thousands of American troops on the ground, which would cost billions more dollars and result in many more American deaths, even if sometimes the plan does not work as intended. 

    Which aircraft is better the F-22 or F-35? Why?

    So, the standard Weapons School answer applies...it depends.  It depends on the mission you are trying to accomplish.  The F-22 and the F-35 were envisioned to complement each other during combat operations, much like the F-15 and F-16 have done for years. The F-22 was designed to gain and maintain air superiority against other aircraft in a high threat environment. It's combination of speed, stealth, avionics and weapons make it the best air superiority aircraft in the world. Unfortunately, for budget reasons, the United States cut the buy short of the stated requirement of ~385 F-22s down to 183.

    On the other hand, the F-35 was designed to primarily find, fix, identify and strike targets on the ground in a high threat environment.  It's stealth, sensor/avionics and information sharing with other aircraft will enable it to do this.  I recently was able to fly with the F-35s while they were deployed here to Mt Home and was impressed with the jets' current capability in a high threat scenario. They were able to share information with our F-15E's making us even more capable as a mixed force team.  Although it is still under development, after talking to those who are testing the F-35 and flying mixed formations with them, I believe it will be the best tactical strike aircraft in the world for high threat scenarios when it reaches its final operational capability around 2019.

    Both the F-22 and the F-35 will continue to add additional capability just like our current F-15s and F-16s have done since they we first introduced. For example, when the F-16 was first designed and built it had a radar that could only see about 20 miles away, only carried two heat guided missiles and carried two unguided bombs. In many ways today it is a completely different jet.  Similarly, the F-15E today is a vastly more capable airplane than the one I started flying 23 years ago.

    What has been your favorite base?

    Is this a trick question? :) If I do not say Mt Home, some people will be up in arms and get out their pitchforks!  We love being at Mt Home but we have also loved the other bases where we have been stationed (ok, maybe not the Pentagon).  My wife does a great job of always finding the fun and interesting things to do in an area. I think what has made each place special has always been the people. No matter what base you go to, there are always great people doing their best to accomplish the mission and support each other. We really enjoy the outdoors so from that perspective Elmendorf in Alaska and Mt Home are tied for my favorite base.

    Why does ISIS hate us?

    They hate everybody that does not think like them so don't take it personally. They believe they are fighting towards "Armageddon" and will fight the final battle for world dominance within the next few years.  In their mind, anyone who does not adhere to their vision and convert to their beliefs must be killed.


    Round 9 (top):

     

    Recently there was a AEF Steering group that took place in Texas.  Did anything pertinent come out of it that may ease our current OPSTEMPO (constantly deploying)?

     

    Our (LRS) Alternate Installation Deployment Officer attended the AEF Steering Group.  They did not discuss anything with regards to the slowing of ops tempo.  As mentioned in previous questions, events around the world will set our deployment tempo until the national level leadership decides to change the strategy we are supporting.  However, it does appear that more future taskings may be to other Areas of Responsibility (AOR) due to world events.

      

    Why are reveille and retreat no longer being played?

     

    Our "Giant Voice" system underwent an upgrade last Fall that seems to cause a larger drain on the battery system than the previous system. After a few days of operating the new system it was discovered that the solar panels were not recharging the batteries fast enough because the system stopped working correctly. We made a decision to stop playing reveille and retreat so the system would work in an actual emergency.  At the same time we began an ongoing program to install electrical power to each of the speaker towers in order resume normal operations.

     

    Last Friday, beginning with retreat, we began playing retreat and reveille again to see if the increased sunlight is able to properly recharge the system.  We'll see if it continues to work properly.

     

     

    What is the status of the splash park?

     

    The splash park is finished.  BBC is doing some final landscaping work around the splash park area and is determining an opening day. Hopefully that will be sometime in late Apr or early May depending upon the weather.

     

     

    Is there a possibility of getting an outdoor pool on base?

     

    An outdoor pool is something BBC could add to the community center area in the future.  When we designed the park area around the community center, we had BBC include a location for an outdoor pool in the design in case funding ever became available. However, because of the cost of an outdoor pool, the fact that many bases are closing their outdoor pools due to the cost of maintaining them, and the fact that we have an indoor pool, I do not think BBC or the Air Force will build an outdoor pool on base anytime in the near to mid-term future.  Perhaps if the housing privatization goes financially well over the next 10 years or so, money may become available to build one.

     

    Can we get WiFi in the gym?

     

    The FSS is working on getting WiFi in the gym.

     

     

    Can airmen have the option to receive BAS instead of going to the dining facility?  Are there any examples of BAS being more desirable than a meal card?

     

    You have the option to receive BAS instead of a meal card if you can't utilize the dining facility for at least 80 percent of your meals on a regular basis.  If your assigned duties cause you to consistently miss ~ 18 meals per month then your squadron commander may recommend removal or exemption from ESM.  The wing commander is the approval authority. I have attached the excerpt from AFMAN 65-116 Vol 1  Chapter 25 Defense Joint Military Pay System Active Component and AFMAN65-116V2 Chapter 6 Defense Joint Military Pay System Unit Procedures Excluding FSO as reference.

     

    No, I do not know of any examples of BAS being financially more desirable than a meal card (more flexible yes). In fact, because the meals are subsidized by the DoD.  Enlisted BAS as of 1 Jan 2016 is 368.29.  With 30 days on average each month that works out to about $12 per day for meals if you eat outside the dining facility. It seems like it would be difficult to eat for $12 per day. By comparison, the government provides enlisted BAS II for members assigned to single govt quarters where a govt mess is not available. This rate is about double the normal enlisted BAS rate and is what the govt calculates it costs an individual to properly eat each month.

     

    As a bit of history BAS is meant to offset costs for a military members meals.  It is based on the historic origins in which the military provided room and board as part of a member's pay.  As an allowance it is not included in taxable income so having it separate from basic pay is a financial incentive just like basic allowance for housing.

     

     

    What is your current view/plan for ACE and Dorm Council?

     

    For those who don't know, the dorm council is a team of Airman mentored by two first sergeants focused on improving quality of life and identifying issues impacting dorm residents.  They also solicit ideas for potential projects they can do to improve the dorms.  We recently held a competition where 250 residents named the five dorms.  The next phase is creating a display in the entrance of the dorm centered around the dorm name.  Our dorm council is also working hard to give future dorm councils and residents the tools they need to keep our dorms in top condition.  The council is always brainstorming for new ideas when they meet on the first and third Thursday of every month at 1400 in the Education Building. My guidance for the dorm council is to know what is impacting the quality of life for our dorm residents and advocate for dorm residents by highlighting their concerns, recommending what we can do to fix things in and around the dorm complex, and being aware of what other quality of life improvements we can make.

     

    The Airman Committed to Excellence (ACE) is a private organization focused on promoting professionalism and serving the Gunfighter community through volunteer and base wide activities.  They are an important organization and do a great job at instilling leadership qualities in our Airmen.  They recently led a Speed Mentoring event where 20 Airmen paired up with a CMSgt/first sergeant to discuss leadership development, career progression, and education.   The plan and direction for ACE is the responsibility of the peer elected executive council and the Airmen that attend the monthly meetings.  I know they will continue to focus on the professional development of our airmen and making our entire community a better place to live. I encourage you to attend the next meeting on 7 April from 12:00 - 13:00 in the DFAC to gain insight of their vision over the next year.   

     

     

    Regarding moving Gowen Ops, isn't there a concern that a number of Guardsman will jump ship?

     

    The plan to retire the A-10 and have a classic association between Mt Home and Gowen (i.e. Gowen personnel coming to Mt Home to help maintain and fly F-15Es) is in the process of being changed.  The latest Air Force budget plan proposes to retire the Gowen A-10's in 2020-2021 and replace them with F-15Cs in 2021. This plan is dependent on Congressional approval. If the plans is approved Gowen Ops will not move to Mt Home.

     

     

    I'm always seeing pictures/videos of you visiting the flyers/maintenance sq; do you visit the other squadrons that don't necessarily have a hand in flying?

     

    I think every squadron has an important hand in accomplishing the flying mission at Mt Home. I am trying to get around and visit parts of every squadron on base. I have enjoyed learning firsthand what many of you do for the mission. I am constantly amazed by how well you do your jobs even when you do not always have all the resources you need. Thanks for wanting me to come by.

     

     

    With the recent incident between Turkey and Russia, what do you see in the future for our FWS and CRCs?

     

    For now I think we will continue the current AEF rotation plan.  The AEF schedule allows the USAF to plan these rotations about 2 years into the future and provide a bit of predictability (...notice I did not say complete predictability :). Obviously something could change in the region requiring additional forces but we have no way of knowing exactly when or what that might be.

     

    It seems some of our ACC/Wing down days have been taken away from us but I heard we are getting the same amount just at different times of the year. If they have been moved, from where to where. If they have been taken away, why?

     

    ACC sets the standard for command wide wing down days.  These are usually in conjunction with holidays and I have not seen them change in number or times much over the years. We do not have many wing down days, but we have slowed down operations around the holidays for the past two years and allowed as many personnel as possible to take leave. 

     

     

    What is the status of the indoor pool?

     

    The work on the indoor pool is almost finished.  We hope to have the pool turned back over to us by mid-March and begin the process of filling it back up and getting the chemical balance set. Our next challenge will be to rebuild our lifeguard team in order to return to full operational hours. Hopefully by late March we will be able to open in the mornings with full operational hours returned by mid-Apr.  The FSS is re-looking at the pool hours to open as much as possible to support both individuals who want to do a swim workout as well as families who want to bring kids to play.

     

     

    If active duty and civilians are one team, one fight, then why is there such a different treatment between the hours and standards in the work place?

     

    Based on the question, I assume the question revolves around a difference in hours worked and your inference is that active duty are working more hours as well as civilians being held to a "different" standard than active duty. Our civilians (government and contractor) are an integral part of the Gunfighter Team and are vital to accomplishing the mission. Many of them are retired military and are as proud to serve today as they were when they were on active duty. They bring an immense amount of experience and long term continuity to the wing that complements our active duty force.

     

    Yes, the civilian workforce and active duty are governed by a different set of rules.  It is true that some active duty members do work longer hours than the civilians on base because of the nature of our jobs and the rules. At the same time, I know of other work areas where they work approximately the same number of hours. We also have examples of active duty people who work longer hours than other active duty. Our civilians are constrained by guidance that pays them for 40 hours of work each week.  If they work over 40 hours they are supposed to request and be approved for overtime pay.  However, I know a number of our civilian teammates who work longer hours when needed to accomplish the mission and don't ask for overtime pay. Our civilian contractors work hard and are not eligible for any of the wing/group awards, which sometimes makes them feel as if they are not equally valued. Additionally, when it comes to examples of different treatment, the DoD civilians were furloughed for 11 days in 2013 when sequestration hit. It was not their fault Congress could not reach a budget deal but they paid the financial price. 

     

    As far as different standards I am not sure exactly what you mean so I am not going to guess because there are many different directions this could go...appearance, discipline, supervisory, etc. If you would like to clarify your question I would be happy to provide my opinion. I know there are examples in the active duty, guard and civilian parts of our workforce where individuals could work harder, be more efficient, be better role model/supervisors and hold higher standards overall, but I believe this is the exception rather than the rule.   We all play different roles in defending our Nation and 99% do the best job they can regardless of the "uniform" they wear. 

     

    Gen Carlisle and Chief McDonald arrive later this morning and will spend 24 hours seeing the great work you do and getting to know as many of you as possible.  Feel free to ask them questions at the All Call on Tuesday morning and when you see them in your work areas. Additionally, next week we have a 24 hour sortie surge as part of the training plan to get the 389th ready to deploy this Fall.  We will begin flying next Monday morning and fly around the clock for almost 72 hours.  As an update on the 391st deployment, they have flown 1,248 sorties/8,859 hours and expended 2,099 weapons on 1,558 targets to date. You should be proud of them and proud of your part in getting them combat ready. Finally, thanks to everyone who had a hand in the February F-35 operations. It was a huge success and they could not stop complimenting you for all the help they got from the Gunfighters.  Not only were they able to do a practice deployment, we were also able to develop new F-15E and F-35 integration tactics. Our next chance to support the F-35 will be in June when Hill AFB deploys here as they get ready for their initial operating capability (IOC) declaration in late September.



     

    Round 10 (top):  

    There has been talk about a Subway cart being available at some point in the near future. Is this still in works and if so, what is the time frame?

     

    Yes, this is still in work and AAFES is working hard to make it happen.  Currently, there is no set time frame.  However, we have been working extremely hard to bring food service trucks to the base such as the ones many of you saw at Nellis and Gowen this past summer.  Because of FSS's hard work, as of last week the “Big Valley Ranch” Food truck is parked in front of hangar 204.  Operating hours are Mon-Fri 1000-1600.  They’re also exploring a breakfast option.  This is in addition to the Asian Thai food truck which has been operating on base for a while. We hope the success of these two vendors will show other business owners they can make money and enable us to bring more options on base every day of the week.  

     

     

    Why is Burger King closed on Sunday?

     

    Burger decided to not open on Sundays two years ago because of a lack of sales.

     

     

    Are we winning against ISIS?

     

    From what I read and am briefed during intel reports, I think we are slowly destroying ISIS (Daesh) in Iraq and Syria. They are losing territory in Iraq/Syria and are also losing large numbers of fighters/equipment in both countries. However, as we make progress towards defeating them there, Daesh has been growing in strength in other places like Libya and Afghanistan. This is not an enemy we will simply kill off through military operations.  Our and other nations military operations are critical to its eventual defeat, but it is going to take the coordination and teamwork of nations all around the world and the use of all their instruments of national power (diplomatic, information, military, economic) to eventually defeat them. Unfortunately it is not a quick process. I have read some opinions that we are actually only about halfway through the fight against Islamic extremism and that we may have another 15-20 years to go.

     

     

    Can we get more food court options?

     

    This is an AAFES decision but I will bring it up with the AAFES manager and the corporate leadership when I talk with them. Hopefully the new food trucks are a good step in the right direction for more food options on base.

     

     

    Can we adjust the commissary hours to be open on Monday?

     

    I do not know. The commissary and BX business days/hours are set by the DoD headquarters overseeing them. Your input has been sent to them.

     

      

    Can you bring the AAFES food rep with you next time?

     

    Next time we have a Town Hall we will invite them to come and answer questions.

      

     

    Will there be any base activities to raise base morale?

     

    I believe we have brought a number of new things to the base over the past two years. I think our FSS has been doing a fantastic job of providing services and events for the base.  You can checkout many of the things the FSS offers at www.MHAFBfun.com. There is also a weekly newsletter which is on the same website and goes out electronically highlighting many of the activities for the next week and for the month. Some of it is taking the time to find out what the base does offer and then taking advantage of what is available.

     

    With manning shortfalls and the "Do more with less" approach seeming to only affect E-6's and below. Is there a better way to get SNCO's more involved?

     

    I would be very disappointed if we have senior SNCOs who are not getting involved in getting the mission done. Many of you have heard me say, the Air Force is not a "jobs program". It is not here to pay people simply for showing up at work. As I said last week, there are a small number of individuals all around our service at all levels who could work harder and perhaps think simply showing up is good enough.

    However, the vast majority of people work extremely hard to get the mission done. From what I have seen this is especially true of our SNCO corps. 

     

     

    Sir, Why do mil to mil and single parents coming back from deployment have to take leave during R&R to get their children?

     

    I understand this is a challenge for some of our mil-mil and single parents. The downtime is governed by MAJCOMs for every deployment via the ACC supplemental AFI 10-401.  The two week R&R applies for those remaining in the local area. However, when leaving the local area, all members must take leave in accordance with AFI 3003.  Upon commander approval, a member may be authorized to take leave en-route prior to home station return.

     

     

     

    If we are so under manned on the base why does it seem like positions are being created for NCOs and SNCOs to have a "good" duty title for their EPR?

     

    Duty titles should be based on authorized titles off of Unit Manning Documents. Created duty titles are meaningless on EPRs and hold no weight for promotions. If we are talking out-of-hide positions around the wing, then those positions are mandated by regulations and filled based on level of responsibility as well as the need to accomplish wing wide activities. This drives the rank placed in the position.

     

      

    Weapons training for airmen has been restricted to just deployers.  Is there any way that can be extended to those that want to learn more about weapons safely?

     

    It was determined by the USAF that it would be too expensive to qualify Airmen who do not have an in-garrison or deployment arming requirement. Additionally, we do not have the capacity to open the range to for everyone who might be interested. However, Security Forces would be able to support a mechanical/weapons safety (no live firing) class every quarter if there is a need for weapons familiarization. The Security Forces Commander is looking into this and you can expect more information to follow. A good way to help make this happen may be by starting a shooting club.

     

     

    Is there a way to take a look into the appeals process for Article 15's? Maybe a board of 3 or more people looking at the decision made by the squadron CC? Based on my case I believe the process is broken. My commander only took 30 min to decide on my appeal.

     

    The Service Secretary has prescribed that a "superior authority" may act on an Art 15 appeal (MCM, Part V, par.7. Appeals).  In the Air Force, this "superior authority" is interpreted as a single individual.  Therefore, changing this to a panel of "superior authorities" would need to go through The Judge Advocate General who is the signatory of AFI 51-202, Nonjudicial Punishment, 31 Mar 2015. I have not heard about any moves to change the "superior authority" definition.

    I do not know all of the facts of your particular case so it is difficult to say that the process is broken because of the time it took your commander to make a decision or because someone does not agree with that decision.  The superior commander is required to review all of the evidence and any matters submitted by the member as well as legal advice by counsel before making his/her decision.  Without knowing how your commander deliberated, I'm not sure I can conclude that he/she did something wrong or that the system is broken.  

    I can tell you that I look at each case and all of the evidence.  Some are quick decisions because of the facts in the case and some I take up to a week reading and re-reading because of the case's complexity. From what I have seen here at Mt Home all of the commanders take the disciplinary process seriously and make sure the correct process is followed while they decide what action to take.

                   

     

    What is the status of the unit marshal program?

     

    The first group of ~20 individuals for the Unit Marshall Program has completed the 40 hour training course. They will begin carrying weapons by the first of April once we have all the logistics in place for them to do so. We are in the process of getting safes and clearing barrels and holsters for each of the squadrons so they have the proper equipment.

    Over the next few months (next class starts mid Apr), we will be training additional individuals who have been nominated by their squadron commander. We hope to have all the squadrons trained and unit marshals in place for every unit by the end of the year. Our public affairs recently did an article on the program, here is the link.

     

    http://www.mountainhome.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/6330/Article/665603/open-carry-on-base-not-exactly.aspx

     

     

     

    Will you please ask Col O'Donnell to continue doing questions and answers?

     

    I don't think I have to because you just did :).

     

    The visit with Gen Carlisle went well last week. He was extremely impressed with everything you all are doing and the combat capability of the wing. I hope most of you got to listen to him speak during the All Call either in person or on IPTV. Gen Nowland, 12th AF/CC,will be here next week for a 3 day visit to fly with us and see first-hand what an amazing job you all are doing. He will hold an All Call on Tuesday (22 Mar) afternoon. PA will be sending out the details later this week.

    Our 72 hour surge kicks off this morning around 0800. This is going to be great training to prepare the 389th Ops/MX team for their deployment later this year.

    I understand some people may not have gotten all of the emails with the questions and answers over the last few months. You can go back and look at all the questions/answers on the mountainhome.af.mil website. In the bottom left corner of the main page there is the "Commander's Corner". In that block is a "Commander's Q&A" link.  All of the Q&A are archived there.

     

    Thank you for all your hard work. I am continually impressed by what you do for our nations, both the United States and Singapore.


    Round 11 (top):

    Good morning. This is the last set of questions and answers. I am sitting here in the TLFs finding it hard to believe two years has gone by so quickly.

    Do you answer all the questions yourself or does your staff answer them for you?

    I answer all of the questions myself. Can't you tell from some of the sarcastic comments? I do get some inputs/facts from various squadrons to make sure you are getting the correct information, while for some other questions I research them myself.

    Was the F-35 deployment to Mt Home successful?

    Yes it was successful. The F-35 test team learned a great deal about deploying the F-35 away from their homestation. On the flying side, we were able to learn a great deal about employing the F-15E and the F-35 together. We validated some tactics, techniques and procedures for flying together as well as developed new ones.

    Hill AFB will deploy approximately 8-10 F-35s here in June as one of their milestones towards declaring initial operating capability this summer.


    What are your thoughts about volunteering being a part of EPRs and awards packages?

    Ok...I will pull the pin and toss the grenade. I think we have placed entirely too much focus on volunteering as part of evaluations and award packages. I also think the USAF missed a great opportunity to entirely do away with volunteering as part of job evaluations on the new enlisted evaluations. In my opinion, evaluations and awards should be based on job performance. We serve our nation to be ready to conduct combat operations or support combat operations and do other missions as decided upon by the President. We should get evaluated and awarded according to the way we do our mission/job. Too many individuals focus on things outside their job to get promoted or awarded because of the way the Air Force emphasizes it.

    In that light, we have changed how we are doing quarterly awards here at Mt Home. We will no longer have 3 different blocks for job performance, volunteering and significant self-improvement. Instead we will have six lines focused on job performance (six lines...six shooter...Gunfighters...get it? Talk to Chief Brown :). The challenge will come down to the yearly awards because higher headquarters has not yet changed the criteria they look at...but we have some time to work that.

    This is not to say volunteering is not important. If you personally want to volunteer your time for a cause then I encourage you to do so. My family and I volunteer in various ways because we think it is an important thing to do as part of a community. In fact the Air Force even has awards for volunteering. So keep volunteering. It just should not be a part of evaluations or non-volunteering awards.

    Boom.


    What advice do you have for a SrA transitioning into an NCO that may be a bit worried about gaining such responsibility?

    Just the fact that you are worried about becoming a NCO says great things about you. First of all you care and that is a perfect place to start! You do not have to have all the answers. You just have to be willing to go find them. To this day I do not know everything but I have a lot of friends, colleagues, and all of you to approach in order to get answers or recommendations before I make a decision.

    My two guiding principles are making sure the mission gets done and making sure people are supported to the best of our ability. On the mission side, you need to understand the mission of your squadron and where your section/flight fits into that mission. Know what you need to be doing each day to make sure we are ready to go to combat/support combat operations. Then, help those you supervise understand the same thing.

    This story helps to explain that. A man was walking amongst a group of three workers when he stopped at the first one and asked what he was doing. The man said, "I am laying bricks". The man kept walking and stopped near a woman and asked what she was doing. She said, "I am building a wall". The man kept walking until he reached the third worker and asked what he was doing. He said, "I am building the most beautiful cathedral in the world". The third man truly understood why he was working. Your job as a leader is to try and make sure those you are leading know why they are doing what they are doing. They are building the most combat capable Air Force in the world, just doing it one brick at a time.

    Beyond the mission, as a leader you should focus on making sure those you supervise are supported. You are there to serve them, not the other way around. Find out about them...who they are, what their background is, what challenges they have, and where they want to go in the future. As part of supporting them, give them clear expectations and provide them feedback both formal and informal.

    Finally, do what you think is right every day to the best of your ability, even if it is difficult to do so. Be a good team mate in your section, within your squadron, and between squadrons across the wing...we almost never get anything done by ourselves. Don't be afraid to lead and make decisions. You will make some mistakes along the way...I know I have. Try to learn from the failures as well as the things that go right. In fact you will probably learn more from the failures than from successes. Each day is a new day and another opportunity to serve so never give up trying. You will do a great job.


    As a leader what are some difficulties you face as a commander?

    There are many challenges I face as a commander. I try to always think of them as challenges because I look at each challenge as an opportunity to fix something or make it better than the way I found it. I think it is important to maintain an optimistic outlook because we can positively impact things and make them better.

    One of the difficulties I face every week is accomplishing the mission without 100% of the resources (manning, equipment, and funding) the Air Force says we should have to accomplish our taskings, without driving all of you into the ground. Our maintenance manning balanced against combat ready aircrew is a good example of this. As a leadership team we have to look at what needs to get done and balance the resources available against the requirements. This often results in some kind of a compromise course of action. Sometimes it has been successful and I know sometimes we have asked more of you than we should. It is amazing how you rise to the challenge and continually get things done but I also know this comes at a personal cost to you.

    For me time management can also be a challenge. There are not enough hours in the day for me to get everything done I would like to. The challenge is deciding what needs to get done now, who I need to spend time with now, what paperwork needs to be done now and what information I need to get to make decisions now. The flip side is deciding what to put off until later because it can wait. Those decisions can impact the actions of people around the wing so I try to be mindful of how I spend my time and what I ask others to do.

    I sometimes find it a challenge to make decisions regarding disciplinary actions. Some of the cases are clear cut and easy to decide upon, but many are difficult because I know each person has a story behind them. Disciplinary decisions will have an impact on the individual and possibly their family. I spend hours reading all of the cases that come across my desk for disciplinary action and almost always take at least 24 hours to think about them before making a decision. Maintaining a disciplined force is essential to maintaining combat capability and we have to do it, but it can be a challenge.


    What characteristics do you believe every leader should have?

    There are three; vision, humility and empathy.

    A leader needs to have a vision of where they see the organization they are leading going. They need to understand the goals of the organization above them and create a vision of how they are going to help achieve those goals. Then they need to communicate that vision to everyone around them so they can all work as a team. As a leader you can inspire people to achieve great things if you have a vision.

    Secondly, humility is extremely important. That does not mean a lack of self-confidence or a lack of knowing that you are good at your job. It means putting the mission and others before yourself. It means serving those who you lead. It means knowing you are part of a team and that when things go right it is "we" and when things go wrong it is "I". It is understanding that you do not have all the answers and will make mistakes.

    Lastly, empathy. Everyone has a story and a leader needs to have empathy for those around them. An organization is full of people and sometimes people have challenges in life...medical problems, marital problems, family challenges, financial challenges or perhaps something just not going the way they want it to. Knowing your people and their story is the best way to understand what is happening in their life and the best way to support them. Take time to get to know those around you and support them.


    Have you read bleeding talent yet?

    No, I had not, but since this is the second time you have asked, I bought the book and have started reading it. Thanks for the kick in the rear end to start. Kane has some interesting ideas. I think many of them have merit...like reforming officer performance reports, removing parts of the force who do not perform well and allowing people to better specialize in certain career fields without getting promoted out of those positions. Others I am not convinced are good ones...for example, I think you need to build experience in many different situations before holding more senior leadership positions. In the corporate world if you are wrong then the company does not make a profit or perhaps fails. If you are wrong in the military world you may get a lot of people killed.

    What do you fear most for our future in the AF?

    At a high level, what I fear the most for our AF is the stress on our people because of the inability of many individuals across our country to have a civil debate and work together and find a compromise. Many individuals are so sure they are 100% correct that they cannot see a way to find some middle ground or work together. It is, "their way or the highway" rather than "we are all Americans and need to work together'. This seems to bleed over into the political world and may lead to us not being able to agree about the United States' place in the world and therefore impact the structure and resources of the Air Force.

    The creation of the United States was filled with compromise. Our House and Senate are a great example of the compromise our founding fathers made. The more populous states wanted representation to be based on how many people were in the state. The less populous states were worried their voices would never be heard. So the House of Representatives was created based on population of each state and the Senate was created with two representatives each to give each state an equal voice. Novel concept...find a way of working together and find a solution that both sides can agree upon. By definition, neither side will be 100% satisfied with a compromise but it is something they can live with.

    I think the lack of compromise threatens our nation and impacts the Air Force in a negative way...just take sequestration as an example. That impact causes tough decisions to be made and many people to be put in stressful situations. They lose faith in the system or no longer like what they do and leave the service. When our best and brightest leave, our combat capability drops and we are not as able to defend the country.


    Just wanted to say we are happy to be here. Thank you for caring about your people and making this a great place to be part of.

    Thank you for your words. I am glad you are enjoying Mt Home. We have done the best we could the last two years to accomplish the mission and support all of you. It has been two of the most rewarding years in Jenny and my life. It will be tough for us to leave and no longer be a part of the Gunfighter family on a day to day basis. Yes, it will be tough to not be as close to the mission (and not be able fly of course :)), but even harder to not see so many great Americans and Singaporeans getting the job done every day. This is an incredible team with some of the greatest men and women in our air forces. From a wing leadership perspective, Col and Mrs. O'Donnell will pick up right where Jenny and I leave off, and will help you all make this an even better place to be a part of.

    I am extremely proud of each and every one of you. I am grateful, honored, and humbled to have had the opportunity to serve you. Thank you for serving your nations in every way you do. Good luck and God Speed to all of you. I look forward to hearing about the great Gunfighter heritage you will continue to build.

    Col Iverson

    DAVID R. IVERSON, Col, USAF Commander, 366 FW, Mt Home AFB ID 



    FEBRUARY 2015 COMMANDER'S CALL QUESTIONS (top)


    Gunfighters,

    At the Commander's Calls in February there were so many questions, I was unable to answer them all during the sessions. Thank you for taking the time to ask so many. I will take the next two-three weeks to work through your questions and answer them. Some were in-depth questions and will take a little research to make sure you get the correct information. Below are my answers to your questions.

    How can I start the process of cross training?  If you are in a critically manned career but have time in grade are you able to transfer?

    There is much information about retraining on myPers.  In fact, the retraining process is done through myPers.  There are differences in retraining options depending on whether you are a First Term Airmen (FTA) or a career Airmen.  The Career Assistance Advisor (CAA) also holds a "How to Retrain" brief every month.  Please view the CAA calendar on SharePoint to see the upcoming briefs
    https://mountainhome.eim.acc.af.mil/366fw/msg/mss/caa/default.aspx). If there are further questions, you can always make an appointment with the CAA (MSgt Rolle, ext 1956) so you and your supervisor can ask specific questions about your particular situation. 

    Is there any plan to construct a flight line chow? Most of our meal card guys don't have time to eat and end up spending their own money on food.

    Based on your question, FSS is looking into the feasibility of providing 'grab and go' food service options closer to the flight line. The previous flight line dining facility, which was closed by the AF Services Agency due to insufficient usage.  The Wagon Wheel Dining Facility (DFAC) serves four meals a day: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midnight meal.  For those instances where meal card holders miss meals, those members should talk to their respective First Sergeant to determine their eligibility for filing a "missed meal form," as applicable.  Meal card holders can also call ahead to the DFAC to coordinate To-Go meals for pick up by anyone in their office utilizing the To-Go meal Turn-in request form.  Meal Turn-in request forms are available from Squadron First Sergeants.  We will put out more information regarding a "grab and go" food service on the flight line once we have finished our research.

    Can we get the gym open 24hrs (not just the annex) for us shift workers?

    Due to staffing requirements, the Fitness Center is not able to support 24-hour manned operations and we do not plan on opening it without staff.  The Fitness Center main operations is required to run 90 hours per week, and currently is running operating at 115 hours per week.  However, the gym annex is open 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Even though the gym annex has a full array or cardio equipment, I know it  lacks the ability to do serious weight lifting or circuit training. In order to remedy this, we have recently purchased an additional $120k worth of weight equipment (free weights and machines)  to fully equip the annex. The annex will be upgraded with equipment  by the end of June 2015.  

    Is it possible to get a better indoor track?  The indoor track is slanted and small for winter.

    Due to budget constraints and the lack of new military construction funding, we will not be getting a new indoor track any time in the near future.    When the indoor track was constructed, engineers designed banks at the corners to alleviate injuries and stress on the posterior side of the body to simulate running on a flat track. It is a lot of laps for the 1.5 mile run :)

    What will happen to a Senior Airman who received a referral EPR?  Will they automatically go to a quality force board?

    Right now we do not know what the requirements/eligibility will be for a quality force review board. Official guidance from AFPC on FY15 Quality Force Boards has not been released. As soon as we get any information on a QFRB, we will release it to the wing.

    Will the mission support deployment cycle slow down at any point?

    I do not see the deployment cycle slowing down in the next couple of years.  World events tied to our national interests will continue to drive the COCOM requirements and as I read the news it does not appear things will slow down much any time soon. As a bit of background, the Combatant Commands (COCOMs)like Central Command or Pacific Command send force requirements to the Joint Staff.  The Joint Staff then approves or disapproves the requests and assigns the requirement to each service.  The taskings are then handed down to the major commands (in our case Air Combat Command) to be filled and ACC determines the deployment rotations of each base.  Currently mission support (Agile Combat Support) from Mt Home, is supporting two periods, P1 and P4 with a 60%/40% split (60% of the deployment eligible individuals in a support unit may go in P1 and 40% of the deployment eligible individuals may go in P4). We have individuals deployed in the P1 band right now (redeployments begin in the next couple of weeks) and the P4 band will begin deploying in July.

    With changes to the runway will base MSG be supporting the personnel that are going TDY?

    At this point there are still some details that have to be worked out to determine what MSG support will be required for the units that are TDY during the runway closure. The expectation is that the MSG will support the other TDY units as required.  However, the type of support (i.e. MSG personnel TDY or supporting from MHAFB) is still to be determined. As we solidify the 45 day runway closure plan as well as the Red Flag plan, each squadron commander will know what the support requirements will be.

    Will Security Forces be going TDY to guard the aircraft during runway closure?

    No... SFS personnel are not scheduled to go TDY for the runway construction project. There is a working augmentation plan that is being coordinated with Gowen Field SFS, and it will be implemented if our Air National Guard counterparts need our assistance in securing our aircraft in accordance with established AFIs.

    Why doesn't the Air Force grandfather personnel when rules change mid-career (i.e. SSgts being forced out at 15 years)?

    The Air Force often does grandfather personnel when rules change mid-career. In 2012, when the Air Force changed HYT policy, certain individuals were grandfathered. For example, Staff Sergeants with a Total Active Federal Military Service Date of 30 Sep 1997 or earlier were allowed to remain on active duty for 20 years.  Those with a Total Active Federal Military Service Date of 1 Oct 1997 through 30 Sep 1998 had their HYT adjusted to 29 Sep 13 which meant that some of them were allowed to stay on active duty for up to 16 years.  Only those with a Total Active Federal Military Service Date after 1 Oct 1998 had their HYT adjusted to 15 years. I also believe that if any future changes to the current retirement system occur, many members serving now will be allowed to choose which retirement option they wish to stay under.

    Why doesn't education and fitness apply to promotion consideration?

    Education and fitness do apply to promotion consideration as both are on the EPR form which is part of the promotion process.  Professional Military Education and a CCAF degree are also critical in making the two highest enlisted ranks.  Fitness is also considered on the OPR form and plays a part in promotion/job consideration.  For more detailed information please refer to:  AFI 36-2502 for Enlisted Airman Promotion/Demotion Programs; and AFI 36-2501 for Officer Promotions and Selective Continuation.

    Were the water rights to Mountain Home AFB ever resolved?

    Yes, in July of 2014 the state of Idaho purchased surface water rights to be used by Mountain Home AFB from Simplot Corporation.  The AF is now working with the State of Idaho on potential alternative water supply options that would convert the base from groundwater to surface water.  The intent of this initiative is to provide a long-term sustainable water supply for the base. 

    Will the current deployment bands (i.e. P1, P4, etc.) change again in the near future?

    The overall current deployment bands are here to stay for the foreseeable future.  A few changes may occur depending upon lessons learned during the first few deployments.

    Can you still request to voluntarily separate?

    Yes, IAW  AFI 36-3208, Administrative Separation of Airmen, Chapter 3, Voluntary Separation Prior to Expiration of Term of Service (PETS) you may apply for voluntary separation so long as you fall under one of the following categories:  Accepting Public Office, Air Force Non-Fulfillment of Enlistment or Reenlistment Agreement, Dependency or Hardship, Early Release for End of Year Holidays, Early Release from Extension, Early Release to Further Education, Entering an Officer Training Program, Medal of Honor, Medical Education, Miscellaneous Reasons, Palace Chase, Pregnancy or Childbirth, or Sole Surviving Son or Daughter.  For further information, myPers or VMPF has a complete listing.

    You mention schools, can you go more in depth on what are the topics being discussed?

    There are a lot of educators in Mt  Home who are motivated to teach our children, work extremely hard and are committed to improving the quality of education.  The district has challenges such as ailing facilities, textbooks, information flow and standardization. In the last few months many citizens in Mt Home have become energized and are engaging with the school district, asking for proactive solutions to these and other challenges.  Currently, we are engaged with the local school district and community leaders to examine the quality of education being provided and to work with them in finding a way forward to improve the education opportunities for all of our children.   We have also discussed this issue with Idaho political leaders at the federal and state level as well as Boise State University Education experts.  Boise State has agreed to a partnership with the school district in order to provide expertise on facilities, grant writing, strategic planning and educational best practices. The school board elections in May will be an excellent opportunity for the local community to come together and determine the path the school district will follow in the future. Those military members who are residents of Idaho and eligible to vote in school districts 1,3 and 5 are encouraged to find out about the candidates and participate in the upcoming school board elections. Those who cannot vote are encouraged to support the candidate of their choice during the upcoming campaign by helping to get information out to the voters in districts 1,3 and 5. 

    How do we get healthier concessionaire choices at the BX?

    All of the food facilities currently provide some healthy options.  The associates are there to assist with information on menu options if a customer is having a hard time knowing what to select from the available healthy choices.  Currently there are no plans for expanding concessions options during 2015 based on analysis by various food companies.   

    The new kids gym is great especially with healthy eating options available, can we get the CDCs on board so our kids aren't eating cake for snack?

    I know the CDC works hard to make sure all of the children under their care receive well balanced meals and snacks that meet the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary guidelines for healthy, nutrient dense, well-balanced meals. Prior to implementation, the base dietician, as well as the ACC Command Consultant Dietician reviews the menus. The menus are posted for parent information in both the CDC Main and the CDC Annex.  In fact the CDC exceeds the requirements for healthy meals and dietary guidelines.

    Additionally, The Air Force (AF) Child Development Center (CDC) Inspection Criteria Revised as of January 2015.  With that update, meals and snacks are now served at least two hours apart but not more than three hours apart. The served meals include a balance of fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins.  Foods high in fat, salt, and sugar are limited; fruit juice and milk are served instead of fruit drinks/sodas and limits the number of pre-packaged foods.   

    I asked the question and found out that the CDC does not have cake on the menu.  However, the CDC does serve breads, muffins, and cookies as these foods are generally kid friendly.  These breads, muffins, and cookies are made from scratch in the CDC kitchen.  Fruits and vegetables such as peaches, applesauce, zucchini, and squash are used to add moisture and sweetness in place of oils and sugars.  Different varieties of whole grain flours such as bugler wheat, barley, flax seed, and quinoa, are used as the base of the items. Additionally, the CDC cook includes items such as pureed white beans to add protein. These breads, muffins and cookies are very moist and appealing to the taste.  Because she cooks in bulk, the breads are often baked on flat cake bans, so upon serving they appear to children as cake. The snacks are nutrient dense, healthy alternatives to traditional baked goods enjoyed by children.  Additionally, the CDC cook has been recognized during visits from Healthy Base Initiative representatives, Air Force level inspectors, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program for her ability to take child friendly foods and create healthy alternatives packed with legumes, whole grains, and vegetables otherwise not typically eaten by children.

    Do you think the new EPR will help to curb the "professional volunteer" promotion mentality?

    According to AFPC/myPers, the intent of the new EPR and SCOD is to "establish an evaluation system that emphasizes and recognizes performance, first and foremost."  It ensures the enlisted evaluation system appropriately complements the enlisted WAPS, which is focused on promoting the right people at the right time, especially to the senior noncommissioned officer grades.  It recognizes performance as the number one factor in selecting Airmen for promotion.

    With the new TSgt promotion process, do you know if it will impact the time frame for when new promotees will be announced?

    According to the Weighted Airman Promotion System (WAPS) Eligibility Chart, selection announcements will continue to be release in the month of June until 2017.

    How can we justify watering lawns at Mountain Home AFB when water shortages are such a big concern in the western US?

    A certain amount of irrigated lawns (grass areas) are necessary to provide an acceptable Quality of Life (aesthetics, recreation, sports, social activities, etc) for base workers and residents.  However, our goal is to balance Quality of Life and water consumption throughout the base.  The Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) is actively reducing the amount of water we consume through water conservation efforts.  Over the past few years, CES has reduced the amount of irrigated areas and will continue to reduce these areas.  For example, CES is currently working on a project to re-landscape the Main Gate thoroughfare to a less water intensive landscaping.  In addition, CES will be changing 40 acres of traditional grass areas to a new drought type turf requiring only 25% of the water the current grass needs.  Finally, CES is constructing an advanced $3M filtration system at the waste water treatment plant that will allow us to re-use all base effluent to water the golf course.  All of these efforts will significantly reduce our base water usage.

    Do you think MSG will be able to support Red Flag with all the P4 taskings that have dropped?

    Currently the MSG is postured to provide the required support at Red Flag while executing the P4 taskings.  If the taskings become too great, MSG/Wing leadership will be ready to either request additional manning or determine which taskings will be shorted.  This decision will be situation dependent and could vary greatly between individual taskings.

    Doesn't the budget for all of the DC government employees "eat up" a lot of the pay and compensation budget?  Are there proposed cuts there?

    I do not know what percentage of the federal budget is taken up by DC government employees or any proposed cuts.  Congress controls the pay of all federal government employees including military personnel.  The pay raises of civilian federal government employees, including those in the DoD, have lagged those of military personnel in recent years.

    Perhaps congress should take pay cuts?

    This issue is best addressed to your senator or congressional representative.

    Has BRAC been brought up again as potential ways to save money in CONUS locations?

    The President's Budget included BRAC proposals request beginning in fiscal year 2017. Recent Dept Of Defense studies show the US military has approximately 25-30% too much infrastructure for the size of our force.  However, this is only a request.  An actual BRAC authorization must be approved by the House and Senate Please contact your local congressional representative to best address this issue.

    Saving money, it seems everyone's mentality is hey we got this money to spend, what can we waste it on because, if we don't use it we will lose it.

    Through our normal fiscal year budget process and our unfunded requirements list, we attempt to efficiently spend money on our mission as well as on upgrading facilities and improving the Gunfighter quality of life. However, it is never our intent to waste money, and finding ways to save money is always a top priority.  If you see any evidence of waste, please contact the MHAFB Budget Officer, Ms. Tammy Ferreira, at DSN 728-2677. If you have an innovative way to save resources please go to the mountainhome.af.mil website and submit your idea.

    With the rise of identity theft and tax theft occurring on base, is the AF planning on moving away from using social security numbers (SSNs) for everything?

    There are numerous examples of the Air Force reducing the number of records requiring SSNs, and one is the DoD ID Number used on IDs where there used to be SSNs.  Regardless the type of number chosen to identify an individual, it will always require protection from compromise, which is the goal of the renewed emphasis on protecting personally identifiable information (PII). One of the additional ways the DoD is protecting PII is through our email system. Recently upgrades to Outlook have required encryption for attachments as well as encryption when scans of the email detect information which may be PII.

    Will the BAH changes creating a 1% out of pocket expense to those that live in base housing affect the airmen in the dorms as well?

    Airmen living in the dorms do not receive BAH and are not affected by any BAH rate changes. For those who do receive BAH, once an individual PCS's to a location and receives BAH, their BAH can increase if the BAH rate is increased but will not decrease unless they PCS, are reduced in grade, or have a change in the with or without dependent status. BAH rate changes are determined by a Department of Defense process independent of the Air Force.  The Services have agreed to housing standards that allow members to receive a BAH correlating to what civilians who earn comparable amounts would pay for housing. That is, DoD uses housing standards to link housing costs with a particular paygrade. In 2015 BAH rates no longer included the cost of renters insurance and members also began to pay a 1% out of pocket expense. If you want to learn more about BAH and how it is computed I recommend you visit the following website--

    http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/Docs/perdiem/BAH-Primer.pdf

    If there are equipment limitations that cannot be resolved, how will the 366th support multiple locations? What about the 428th?

    The 366th MXG maintains a critical equipment list for items deemed critical to meet the wing mission.  This includes items needed to support multiple deployments, TDYs, and flying at home.  These items are managed more closely.  The lists are reviewed with MXG leadership on a monthly basis to ensure serviceability is maintained and action is taken to rectify areas of concern.  Some actions include expediting and prioritizing repair actions locally, while others include communication to ACC for support.  If unserviceable or insufficient assets are on hand, MXG leadership will request lateral support through ACC for additional units or from AFMC item managers to procure piece parts to repair equipment locally. Unfortunately, not all critical equipment is adequately funded by the Air Force, and some is in the development process for newer, more reliable equipment.  As a result, we'll have to make decisions as to where to send what equipment based on need.  To date, no asset shortages have made meeting concurrent deployment missions, TDYs, or local flying impossible to achieve.  This accomplishment can be attributed to the assigned equipment custodians' steadfast attention and focus on equipment serviceability as well as equipment users treating critical assets with care.

    428th equipment is managed exclusively through the Peace Carvin program and Singapore directly.  Their assets are separate from USAF equipment.  The 428th maintenance unit is sufficiently equipped to support their fleet of F-15SG aircraft accordingly.  Just as in the USAF, 428th equipment custodians pay close attention to asset serviceability and respond proactively when equipment becomes unserviceable or unavailable.  This process is worked directly with headquarters leadership in Singapore.  In addition, the Gunfighters always work as a team and we share assets where necessary between units to increase both nations' combat capability.

    With the cuts to our manning, why did we take on so many new flying hours?

    The flying hours the wing has been tasked to fly by Air Combat Command are directly tied to maintaining the currently assigned Pilots and Weapons Systems Officers at Combat Mission Ready status.  Aircrew are required to fly a designated number of sorties each month (converted into flying hours) in order to maintain this Combat Mission Ready  status.  In an effort to keep enough aircrew ready to deploy 2 full squadrons of F-15Es from Mountain Home the wing is striving to fly the full flying hour program.  This a tough challenge based on current maintenance manning, but it is important to make sure both of the US F-15E squadrons are combat ready.  If the pilots and WSOs are not able to get the minimum required number of sorties, their risk level will increase during combat operations.

    TDY's, deployments, runway/taxiway construction, RMP mod, MULTI-Mod, added flying hours...How did this wing get dealt such a mean hand at once?

    This is a challenging time for the wing.  The deployment cycles for F-15Es are relatively constant based on the current needs of the nation.  Additionally, RMP mod and MULTI-Mod update our aircraft, increasing the combat capability of the F-15E.  This allows our squadrons to be prepared for combat operations against more sophisticated threats around the world as potential adversaries continue to upgrade their air defense systems.  The nation's leaders also realize that we must keep a healthy cadre of F-15E aircrew ready to deploy at any time - hence the current flying hour program.  All of this adds up to a challenge for the Gunfighter team to work together and overcome to the best of our ability.

    Has there been any talk of bringing more aircraft/personnel to MUO to maximize the range complex airspace?

    At this time the Air Force does not have any plans to bring additional aircraft to Mountain Home for permanent assignment.  This may change in the future as the Air Force continually re-evaluates its force structure.  We do expect to see the number of TDY units utilizing the airspace continue to rise.

    What can we do to prevent unvaccinated children in the children's gym?

    Most public facilities are not required to verify the vaccine status of attendees.  This includes our Gunfighter Kids Gym, Fitness Center, Commissary, BX, swimming pool, etc.  Fortunately, the vaccination rate among our Gunfighter community is high, which helps protect those who are not vaccinated because they are either too young or have weakened immune systems.  Routine vaccines, such as the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, are required for active duty members, as well as for children attending schools and Child and Youth Programs.  Also, the 366 MDG coordinates with Public Affairs and other agencies to educate the community and encourage everyone to receive their recommended vaccines.

    Can 391 APG move back to Hangar 208?

    We moved them back into Bldg 271 as they were isolated and this facilitated better communication and team unity with the rest of the AMU.  This helps to raise productivity and supervisor interaction with their personnel. The area in Hangar 208 is currently under renovation, but we have some plans to "stretch out" to give the folks a bit more space since both AMUs are space limited for locker areas.

    Comment ....the book Power of Professionalism by Wersma is available on iBooks for $9.99. Recommended reading to learn about professionalism. I have begun reading the Power of Professionalism and plan on reading and discussing the book with the group and squadron commanders.

    How beneficial has it been sending jets off station for the weekend?

    Off station sorties over the weekend provide an excellent opportunity for aircrew to complete much needed training.  Aircrew are required to fly a designated number of sorties each month in order to maintain Combat Mission Ready status.  On a typical cross country weekend, aircrew are able to fly 2 training sorties a day for each day they are gone by utilizing out-base support.  By the time the aircraft return on Monday, each aircrew may have logged as many as 8 training sorties without relying on Mountain Home personnel to turn jets.  This provides relief to the Maintenance Group by reducing the number of home station sorties required to maintain aircrew at Combat Mission Ready status.  Although there is a risk that an aircraft malfunction requires maintenance support at an out-base, the reward usually outweighs this risk.

    What is the current policy for Wing Ski day? Take leave or is it an alternate duty location? Why do we not get the wing ski day off? Is it true that the wing down day was taken away? Are we having a wing ski day this year?

    13 February is a normal duty day and also a fly day for the Wing. This day was never intended to be a down day. In order to meet our combat mission ready requirements with reduced aircraft availability and reduced maintenance manning, we need to keep as many scheduled fly days on the calendar as possible. Gunfighters can still request leave (mission dependent) to take advantage of discounted lift tickets at Bogus Basin. Talk to your supervisor to see if you can take leave.

    With the new innovation process, will the ideas be made public to foster collaboration and avoid duplication?

    Yes, ideas will be shared with the subject matter experts in the applicable groups for collaboration prior to deliberation by leadership. Ideas that move forward into implementation will be publicized to the Wing.

    Does the person who requests a good idea get any compensation for it?

    Once the program gets up and running, we will set up a Wing quarterly and yearly award recognizing Airmen who put forward outstanding ideas.

    Currently the wing policy is that OPRs that close out within 60 days of a promotion board cannot be used on the PRF. Will you consider changing this?

    The Wing has to follow ACC's PRF policy. This policy just changed to say I cannot include in my PRF comments any stratifications from an OPR that closes out within 60 days of a promotion board. However, I can use everything else written in that OPR in the PRF. ACC could always change their policy for future boards.

    Have you read "Bleeding Talent" and if so, what do you think of the recommendations on assignments and personnel systems/processes? If you haven't, will you?

    I have not read it, but I will. I am always looking for good books to read. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Is there a chance that outside agencies could take a look at how we do things in order to find better ways? It is hard to do it internally with increased work.

    The upcoming IG visit in late February is the perfect time for an outside agency to look at what we are doing and make recommendations for how to do things better. For those who get to talk to the IG team, please be honest with your answers about what we do right and wrong and give then your recommendations so they get ground truth. 12 AF, ACC, and HAF staffs are actively engaged in our process improvement, but time and time again, our best innovation ideas come from our Airmen here who are doing the work. That is why we are starting our own innovation process with me as the action officer. I know it may be added work for some people in the short run but the potential for overall improvement for the wing and the Air Force will be worth the effort.

    Sir, it's hard to do multiple jobs. At the end of the day a lot of things are done poorly just to stay afloat. When is the relief coming?

    I and many other Wing Commanders have voiced your manning concerns, and every level of Air Force leadership is aware and engaged. We will never have 100% manning but the Air Force is trying to alleviate some of the most critical shortfalls by growing to approximately 315,000 people in FY2015 and 317,000 people in FY2016. I know this will not solve the manning deficit in all of the AFSC's. However, no matter what you are doing I ask you to follow your AFI's and tech manuals, even if it takes you longer to get the job done. The most important thing is to do the job right the first time, even if it means doing the job more slowly and not simply pushing to finish as much work as possible. For all of the supervisors, you must be our quality control check. You are graded on the quality of work your people do and not the quantity. If the amount of work you are doing is backing up, elevate the challenge up the chain of command so the squadron commander is aware of what is happening. Someone's life may depend on the quality of work you do but almost never on the quantity.

    Thanks for all the questions.

    Gunfighter 1