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AFSO 21: Incirlik jumps on the Internet Express

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- The Air Force is leaning processes for future generations of Airmen, and the Tip of the Sword will be transitioning to Incirlik Express, a four-page newsletter saving the 39th Air Base Wing more than $20,000 annually and giving more time back to Incirlik's Airmen.

With the new process, recognized by Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs director, Col. Michelle Johnson, as being consistent with Chief of Staff of the Air Force's vision to "...leverage our capabilities to capture and rapidly distribute accurate, timely and focused information to consistently tell our Air Force story..." the 39th ABW Public Affairs is leading the way with this Air Force Smart Operations 21 initiative.

"We are excited about the future of public affairs, as the newspaper has been a vital source of information at Incirlik for 50 years." said 1st Lt. Rose Richeson, 39th Air Base Wing chief of public affairs. "This not only gives time back to our Public Affairs Airmen who put in long hours every week to produce a high-quality product but it also gives time and money back to every Airman on base by putting news at their finger tips and funds more quality of life projects around Incirlik."

The Incirlik Insider tabloid-sized bilingual newspaper was first published in January of 1957. The paper transitioned to the Incirlik News newsletter in 1972, before becoming the Looking Glass, a magazine format, in 1974. It was renamed the Tip of the Sword in 1991. The 12-page magazine, which expanded to 16 pages in March 2006, cost $3,040 to print each month and public affairs Airmen spent about 40 man-hours laying out and designing the magazine. Incirlik Express will cost $760 a month and take about 10 man-hours a week to lay out and design.

"Most people don't understand the amount of time it takes to produce a weekly product that can change in a moment because of a USAFE must run, a commander-directed change or a story that falls through," said Senior Airman Tim Beckham, 39th ABW airman in charge of internal information. "Especially when you have to turn right around and do it all again week after week, because news never stops happening."

Since the Tip of the Sword is a weekly publication, Airmen are reading news that is at times up to eight days old. Also, the magazine was placed at a limited number of locations around the base, meaning Airmen would have to leave their place of work to go get news and information.

"Time is something you can never get back and when you have information to share with your Airmen, time is of the essence," said Tech. Sgt. Brian Jones, 39th ABW public affairs noncommissioned officer in charge. "As a supervisor and a steward of the commander's information tool we need to get information from the highest ranking leadership down to the lowest ranking Airmen and his or her dependent as quickly as possible. "These changes put news at the Airmen's finger tips and allow the commander to get his message out in almost real time."

The paper slowly transformed from 16 to 12 pages in November; and eight pages in December and will ultimately be four pages in January with a sneak peak of the Incirlik Express newsletter Dec. 22. The four-page all-color product will hit the streets permanently in January. This product will meet the needs of those without computer access or those who are computer challenged. Incirlik Express will offer a primer on each of the stories that appeared in Incirlik Now throughout the week as well as important command messages and information.

"Team Incirlik is once again leading the way in the Air Force with this initiative and we are the first base in USAFE to operate in the fashion that we do," said Col. "Tip" Stinnette, 39th ABW commander. "This product gives leadership the opportunity to get hard hitting messages out in real time instead of a week later. We have already seen the results with a number of the stories and command messages we've been able to get out to our Airmen and their families."

The combination of Incirlik Now and Incirlik Express rise to meet standards of today's commercial media by providing information quickly and conveniently, while leveraging current and future technology.

"What is really great is most of the young people today are on MySpace where they or building Web pages or surfing the Web to get their news," said Lieutenant Richeson. "As we look ahead by using new technologies we will be prepared when the next generation of Air Force leaders strives to keep their Airmen informed."