Bomb squadrons hire contractors, alleviate aircrew additional duties

A new contractor team stands together in the 34th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 20, 2017. The 34th and 37th Bomb Squadron were recently given eight contractors to help alleviate the workload on their personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Nicolas Z. Erwin)

A new contractor team stands together in the 34th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 20, 2017. The 34th and 37th Bomb Squadron were recently given eight contractors to help alleviate the workload on their personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Nicolas Z. Erwin)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --

Putting bombs on target entails more than flying 950 miles per hour and dropping munitions. It requires planning, training and the resolve to accomplish the mission.

These additional responsibilities sometimes take aircrew out of the cockpit and away from the mission, which is to provide combat air power, anytime anywhere.

To help alleviate the workload of aircrew, the 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons hired eight contractors who began working at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, Oct. 16, 2017, performing scheduling, training, and standardization and evaluation.

The Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Air Force wrote that their branch needs to focus on the primary mission to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyber space, and additional duties are competing with that mission.

The new personnel have allowed for Airmen to remain focused on their squadron’s mission.

“I should end up consuming 80 to 90 percent of the work in this office,” said Jeff Reid, a standardization and evaluation specialist, and one of the new contractors, assigned to the 34th BS.

Each flight has a specific function: standardization and evaluations maintain a record of aircrew flight qualifications, the scheduling flight focuses on spacing out the flights required by each member on the aircraft and the training flight reviews and assigns different training necessary for aircrew to keep their qualifications.

Lt. Col. Timothy Griffith, a 28th Operations Group deputy commander, explained that these duties are usually distributed between pilots and weapon system officers in their respective squadrons.

“In order for [the aircrew] to restore mission readiness, we have to focus all our energy on that, not additional duties,” Griffith said. “Air Force Global Strike Command has given us this contract for squadron operational support. [The contractors] are only for the bomb squadrons where they assist with tasks that our aircrews are assigned.”

Hiring contractors also alleviates the break in continuity within the squadrons. Aircrew can get picked for a deployment, temporary duty or training — leaving work and long-term projects still needing to be done.

“There is always work to be done,” Reid explained. “I think the continuity is going to be great for both of these squadrons because [the contractors] are here all the time.”

Adding these contractors to the bomb squadrons enforces the Air Force’s priority of restoring readiness to Airmen and to the mission.