INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --
Two squadrons recently teamed up to execute U.S Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein's guidance to give time back to the warfighter by reducing deployments. Through reevaluating manning positions, the 728th Air Mobility Squadron and 313th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron redeployed a tactician from Incirlik for the last time in the foreseeable future.
“The Air Force is asking squadrons to restore readiness by using innovative means that increase our lethality,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Isaac Adams, 728th Air Mobility Squadron commander. “We looked at our requirements and identified positions we could consolidate by integrating technology. This ultimately led to a 66 percent reduction in active duty rated deployments to the 521st Air Mobility Wing.”
Before an aircrew can fly downrange, they must first receive a briefing from an intelligence analyst on potential threats and a briefing from a pilot on the tactical flight considerations that the mobility aircrew should take when arriving and departing a specific location. While the goal is to accomplish this at the home station, often times, the briefings will happen at one of the en route squadrons assigned to the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing.
One of these locations is Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, which used deployed pilot billets to meet this mission requirement. However, U.S. Airmen found an innovative way to replace the deployed pilot billets with a virtual telecommunication briefing.
“My predecessors identified the problem and made a plan to eliminate my current positon, and then when I arrived, I implemented the framework and mitigated risks to see their idea become a reality,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Christopher Johnson, 728th AMS tactics officer. “We used innovative means to return Airmen back to their base and the cockpit, where the Air Force needs us.”
Currently, the U.S. Air Force is facing a pilot shortage, so eliminating positions that do not require pilots to step away from the cockpit is one step closer to fighting that shortage. While using a secure VTC to brief en route crews does put additional work on the 313th EOSS, located at Ramstein AB, Germany, in the end, it saves time, money, and an additional overseas deployment.
“Each Incirlik brief adds to my workload, but the work it requires doesn’t justify the fulltime presence of a deployed tactics pilots at Incirlik Air Base,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col Joseph O’Rourke, 313th EOSS tactics officer. “It’s more efficient for one of the tactics pilots in our squadron to give the briefing remotely.”
Another benefit of this plan is its ability to reinstate the position if the 313th EOSS becomes overtasked with other requirements.
“Before adopting this new process, we thought about how much additional work it would add to the 313th EOSS and each additional Airman’s workload,” said Johnson. “Enhancing our operational effectiveness starts with identifying single points of failure and rebuilding resilient systems that will benefit future Airmen.”