-- As part of an Air Force-wide initiative, squadron revitalization teams visited Scott Air Force Base and Air Mobility Command June 22 to 23.
It was one of 20 visits planned across the Air Force from February to August 2017. These visits are driven by Airmen to promote best practices, identify areas of improvement and provide opportunities to discuss constructive ideas that would be applicable to all squadrons.
The squadron revitalization plan is composed of four phases.
The first phase involves a study into the prior climate, its readiness and data gleaned from Inspector General reports and retention rates.
In January 2017, a survey was sent to 65 thousand Total Force Airmen as part of phase two. The survey, which was also sent to former squadron commanders, provided part of the information that helped to create what Brig. Gen. Stephen L. Davis, squadron revitalization team lead, considers to be “quick wins.”
These were solutions that led to changes such as an increase in first sergeant authorizations, a command support staff increase by 1,600 over the next five years, Air Force-level squadron commander and superintendent training, and delegating waiver authority to squadron commanders for reenlistment without PME completion.
The third phase focuses on in-person interviews and focus groups to find targeted ideas and solutions through field visits conducted by a core team of six people and teams of 25 major command representatives comprised of Total Force Airmen.
The team is disciplined in their data collection process to make sure an issue is fully understood before making recommendations.
"We’ve had great engagement from Airmen of all ranks and we really value their contribution,” said Chief Master Sgt. Robert Stamper, revitalizing squadrons lead chief. “They came ready to give their input and are critical to this endeavor of revitalizing the squadrons."
Along with these interactions, a web-based, crowd-sourced platform allows Airmen across the Total Force to submit insights into the current challenges they face, along with recommended solutions.
"We're going to talk to thousands of Airmen as we go to all ten MAJCOMs, including the Guard and Reserve, however we won’t be able to visit with every single person across the Air Force,” said Davis. “Our crowdsourcing idea website allows every Airman to provide ideas and to vote and comment on ideas proposed by others.”
The first challenge featured on the website, posted in March and closed in June, averaged 3,000 views per day, with more than 600 ideas and 16,000 votes.
A second set of challenges is already on the website. This set addresses higher headquarters support to squadrons, centralized/decentralized support to squadrons, job-specific training, improving feedback and having the option for an open ideas forum.
Information gathered from the interviews and focus groups will provide the data for phase four. As the core team for squadron revitalization starts creating solutions, they will bring in members of the MAJCOM representative teams to help in the process.
"These are not all quick fixes,” said Stamper. “Some initiatives will take several years. While more difficult, they are really going to set us up for success and how the Air Force will operate in the future.”
The core team is working with the Air Force Survey Center to place specific questions in the Total Force Climate Survey to help gauge how squadrons are doing as this moves forward.
"Squadron revitalization is not a destination, it's a journey,” said Davis. “It's about always striving for our squadrons to be the best that they can be and not losing sight that they are the core unit of the Air Force.”
Air Mobility Command is also addressing squadron revitalization through the Aviation Retention Task Force.
Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, Air Mobility Command commander, stood up the task force to generate, collect and build upon innovative ideas in addressing the pilot and maintainer shortage. The ultimate goal is to incorporate AMC recommendations into Headquarters Air Force initiatives to achieve aviation manning, mission accomplishment and readiness.