Story by A1C Andrea Williamson on 03/29/2019SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany (Mar. 21, 2019) - Within a year's time here several positions of leadership have been handed off, creating a new dawn of change. With the chain of command now being led by Colonel Cosgrove, he continues to make Airmen readiness a top priority but has allowed for new opportunities for Airmen to progress.
As the big picture' goal remains the same, it is efforts such as those made by recent Force Support Squadron commander, Capt. Cynthia M. Cano-Hewitt, here, and newly promoted Senior Master Sgt. Tulip A. Appleton, FSS superintendent, here, that is proving to directly benefit young Airmen.
From March 10-22 at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, the 108th Force Support Squadron conducted their first movement of training with the central purpose to not only mold Airmen, but to boost morale.
"This was huge for us," said Appleton. "To be able to carry something like this out, was huge."
Cano-Hewitt said, about a year ago, she heard that the Civil Engineer Squadron was going on a movement for training and wondered if FSS had something similar to provide their guardsman. So, she began digging.
After initially accessing the NGB-A1 Sharepoint, which focuses on FSS functions, she found a a document titled MFT, or movement for training, buried in one of the folders, said Cano-Hewitt. She then reached out to the person at the National Guard Bureau, who loaded the document into the database and was informed that she was inquiring much in advance.
"Basically what the guard bureau does is reach out to their active duty counterparts and say who needs help and what time frame?" said Cano-Hewitt. "So they compile that information and put it into a spreadsheet, push it out in August and give us about three weeks to submit. We try to make those contacts and see if we can coordinate that movement for training in that specified time, in that specified location."
Cano-Hewitt said she then had to mark her calendar to be vigilant for when the yearly opportunity arose. In the mean time, she remained eager and reached out to other guard bases who had participated in MFTs to find out what steps they took to complete it. With ample details, she, along with Appleton, set a plan in place to prepare for the year ahead.
Now March of 2019, their diligence paid off.
Senior Airman Kiyara U. Jackson, a personnel specialist, 108th FSS, said that aside from Airman Leadership School, this was her first TDY.
Nearing five years in the field, Jackson said that this training was not only a learning experience, but a refresher of the knowledge and standards she applies monthly, as a traditional guardsman.
Despite the critical fighter mission at Spangdahlem AB, which supports satellite bases in various locations, this TDY gave Jackson time to connect with her fellow Airmen on and off duty hours.
Due to the high tempo atmosphere of a monthly scheduled drill, Airmen have noted that it is often tough to complete mission related tasks and personal fitness requirements (i.e. physical, medical, and training) during the one weekend a month, let alone have time to bond as a team.
While this area is often addressed through recreation offered by Airmen and Family Readiness or wing initiated team building activities, Cano-Hewitt said that trainings such as this combat the challenge of Airmen developing a lack of interest in what they do and with whom they work with.
Particularly in services and personnel, Airmen can become less productive and ultimately less mission effective if they feel as though the function they provide is monotonous, said Cano-Hewitt. When Airmen are away from their usual environment, they are able to focus on their Air Force Security Code, fly on the wing's aircraft, and actively witness the mission.
"I want people to be in FSS because they want to be in FSS," said Cano-Hewitt.
Of the FSS members chosen for the unit's first movement for training, seven were from services and five were personnel.
"We opened it up to all FSS members and created a primary list and alternate list," said Cano-Hewitt. "Whoever of course was fitphysically, financially, and medically, were able to participate."
Appleton who has been with FSS for seven years and accompanied members on this TDY, has watched several Airmen grow thus far in their careers.
Her duties while at Spangdahlem AB, included monitoring the content within the trainings provided to personnel, as well as services, visiting the various duty sections in which 108th Airmen were placed, and staying in constant communication with peer leadership back at the 108th for updates and logistic purposes, said Appleton.
"My main goal is to make sure the Airmen are taken care of," said Appleton, "that they have what they need to accomplish their AFSC."
She, and Mission Support Group Commander Lt. Col. Steven Rothstein, also played a critical role in both the paperwork and contacts needed to organize this TDY, said Cano-Hewitt.
During these lessons, Appleton was able to observe the level of training the Airmen were receiving.
In personnel, Airmen learned a lot about Installation Personnel Readiness, said Jackson.
"They learned how to update reporting instructions for members deploying, as a part of Air Expeditionary Force", said Appleton. "They also learned how to process Contingency, Exercise and Deployment orders and North Atlantic Treaty Organization orders if the country requires it, and PRESCOPersonnel in Support of Contingency Operations, which accounts for all deployed forces. They were trained on career development: retirement, separations, and expired term of service and customer support: Line of Duty determination, IDs, and passports."
Though the 108th FSS visited an active duty squadron with a different mission, Cano-Hewitt said her unit closely resembles Spandahlem's FSS function but on a smaller scale with less manning. "Our services out numbers personnel," she said. Yet, the wing also has an honor guard and a mortuary function, in addition to sustainment services, such as food and lodging.
With deployments being in support of a contingency, or rather operation, a TDY is AFSC specific, said Appleton. Because of this, this training allowed members to expand their knowledge of personnel and services.
"It's coming along," said Appleton, during the course of the training. "They seem engaged and are asking questions."
No different from her daily role at the 108th, in Germany, Appleton kept in contact with each Airman to ensure their well-being. She participated in weekend day trips to nearby countries and sat down for dinner with her team.
Airman Jackson's experience included traveling to Belgium and Netherlands.
She joined the military looking for better wages in a stable career, to complete school, travel, and to grow as a person overall, said Jackson. And so far, she has no regrets.
"The military has shown me I can do more than I thought I could," said Jackson. "It has given me job opportunities like being on orders and working full-time as an Human Resources specialist/ Information Systems during the week."
With Jackson's participation in this MFT, she has now met a personal goal of traveling overseas.
In order for Cano-Hewitt to execute the final steps for this MFT, she contacted the 108th Operations Planning Office to find out if the aircrew, already headed to a mission overseas, could take the 28 Airmen from both FSS and the 108th Communications Flight to Spangdahlem AB while on there way.
"They said yes," said Cano-Hewitt. So, she called Spangdahlem to see if they would be willing to host the 108th during that same time, despite being outside of the listed training dates. As a result, the FSS team maximized its resources.
Moving forward, Appleton said she expects Airmen to be more well-versed and knowledgeable.
"And to understand the Airman concept of working together," said Appleton. "Taking care of one another."
Similarly, Cano-Hewitt said she wants to one day leave FSS with more capable Airmen, resulting in improvement wing wide.
"FSS spans every Airman's career," said Cano-Hewitt. "We are there with them from the beginning, middle, and end."
Even though she has gotten adjusted to her position, Cano-Hewitt said she still feels that initial passion for her team that she began with.
"I love my team and I want them to know that," said Cano-Hewitt. "We do so much and every function in FSS touches a lot of people throughout the wing."
Soon, FSS plans to do another movement for training so that its remaining members can gain the same experience, said the two FSS leaders. They also put in a request with CE to reconfigure the FSS office, allowing for more work stations to accommodate the number of staff during drills.
As for Jackson, she said she plans to reenlist when the time comes, but hopes in the near future to go active-duty. In the mean time, Jackson too believes everyone in FSS could benefit from a movement for training, particularly overseas.
"I just hope the others can experience it," said Jackson. "We can learn a lot from active duty with the way they do things. I just appreciate Capt. Cano-Hewitt and Sergeant Appleton for getting us together to do something like this."