MacDill prepares for airfield systems, ground radar career merge

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The merging of airfield systems technicians with ground radar technicians here began when Staff. Sgt. Thomas Morris, airfield systems technician assigned to the 6th Operations Support Squadron went to a specialized training course.

Morris is the first Airman from MacDill to attend a training course at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, allowing him to become familiar with the job a radar technician does.

The training was offered in anticipation of the upcoming merge of the two career fields set to be official in November 2017.

“The two career fields are so similar since we use a lot of the same testing equipment on each of our particular systems,” said Morris. “The purpose is to get more capable and knowledgeable Airmen into one career field that can work on all of the different systems effectively.”

Morris volunteered for a one month training class on digital airport surveillance radars which is one type of radar that ground radar technicians work on.

“We just jumped right into the maintenance of how the system is maintained and how to use all of the test equipment that is used to check the parameters of the system,” said Morris. “We also tried to get very familiar with what the basic maintenance procedure will be and some troubleshooting techniques.”

Airfield systems technicians here have already taken advantage of Morris’ training by using him to help teach some of the ground radar career development courses to other Airmen in the shop.

“The best thing we can do here since we don’t have a ground radar section is get online and learn the theory of those particular systems,” said Morris. “Another thing we are doing is trying to take advantage of temporary duty assignments and training courses. We also have a Federal Aviation Administration representative that comes here to do maintenance so we take advantage of that as a training opportunity.”

Airfield systems Airmen at MacDill will now have the opportunity to be a part of different units around the world that originally were not open for their specific career field.

“Merging with ground radar maintenance will open up more opportunities to deploy, serve at other bases and to serve in specific radar special duties such as the 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron that Morris will be going to,” said Tech. Sgt. Mandy Thorpe, 6th OSS NCOIC of airfield systems. “The unit he is going to, he will learn on the job training for some of the specialized radars.”

As well as travel opportunities, this merge will better prepare Airmen in both career fields for furthering their career after they separate.

“I see it as a great opportunity to learn the ground radar side of the house I think it’s extremely interesting and important to have this knowledge,” said Morris. “It really helps us after we separate to have that experience when we go to look for Federal Aviation Administration jobs so they can see that we worked on all of these systems.”