Airmen stay mission-ready despite tempo flux

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- From furloughs to flying suspensions, monetary constraints have recently impacted Air Force installations around the globe.

Although the 391st Fighter Squadron halted its four-month flying hiatus July 17, due to approved funding, the effects of lost flying hours were not only felt by aircrew, but those who support them as well.

"When we lost some flying hours, we had to make-due with simulators and things of that nature to keep up on our training," said Tech. Sgt. Grady Black, 366th Operations Support Squadron acting chief controller.

For those charged with the daunting responsibility of air traffic control, getting the flying hours back to normal has been invaluable.

"We are extremely important to keeping the mission going and getting the pilots down-range and into the fight," explained Black. "I am extremely happy to get back to normal because there's just certain things you can't simulate without being in the real environment. In an undermanned career field, with civilian furloughs, it's been especially important so the individuals we do have are as qualified as possible."

As detrimental as reduced flying-hours could be for some occupations, others were able to shift their focus and capitalize on other opportunities.

"It's always good to get those flying hours back up, but we were still able to stay extremely productive," said Staff Sgt. Alexander Hall, 366th OSS airfield management operations supervisor. "We had a lot more time to get our construction projects done, without worrying about the flight schedule and took advantage of various training opportunities."

For the members of a key support role, like airfield management, communication is often fundamental to mission success.

"It's important we can work cohesively with other career fields dealing with the airfield, from air traffic control to the maintainers, because any miscommunication could lead to costly errors," said Airman 1st Class Gabrielle Swift, 366th OSS airfield management operations coordinator.

With this in mind, airfield management personnel are determined to always stay productive despite fluctuating operation tempos.

"As Airmen, we were able to utilize some down-time to accomplish a lot of training, ensuring we stayed productive and making it easy to get back in the swing of things when flight hours were back to normal," said Swift.