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FIP draws strength from the field

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joseph Raatz
  • Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs
Air Force Global Strike Command personnel hosted face-to-face meetings with Airmen across the missile field recently as part of a continued commitment to its promise of providing real, lasting change.

To demonstrate its resolve, AFGSC sent follow-up Force Improvement Program teams to Minot AFB, North Dakota, Malmstrom AFB, Montana and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming. The teams sat down with Airmen to provide updates, field questions and discover any unintentional second or third order effects resulting from previous FIP actions. During these open discussions, participants were reminded that FIP is about instituting a fundamental change in mindset, and is not simply a repair mechanism.

"These follow-up visits are useful because they allow us to voice our frustrations with things and also to clear up some misinterpretations people might have about FIP and get more information about what's going on," said Capt. Tyler Remkus, an ICBM senior evaluator with the 90th Operations Group.

Face-to-face discussions were identified by many Airmen as the way they preferred to receive FIP information, rather than through email, blog posts or newspaper articles.

"I like that they came here and that had dates and money and stats laid out in black and white, and could explain it to us instead of sending it out in another email that could get deleted or may not answer our questions," said Staff Sgt. Amy VanDenBrink, an EMT instructor with the 90th Maintenance Training Flight. "A lot of people tend to gloss over emails and articles, but this way you can hear it in person."

"The town hall-style meetings provided valuable information from Airmen across the command," said Lt. Col. Russell Williford, AFGSC FIP director. "They allowed us to clear up some misinterpretations about FIP and also gave us some insight into what we may have overlooked the first time around. I think this experience will help us to communicate more effectively in the future."

More than 20 town hall discussions were held across the command during the week, drawing hundreds of participants. This format allowed FIP members to trace changes back to unit-level recommendations and explain the 'whys' behind certain decisions.

"With the blogs and the emails and news articles, all I can do is read and look at slides that may or may not answer my questions," Remkus said. "In town hall meetings like this we get to hear it from an actual person, who we can ask questions of and get clarification to things. I think it's a lot more personable and effective."

The FIP teams provided Airmen with timelines, explaining how far along particular initiatives currently were. Presenting the Airmen with decision status updates reminds them FIP is ongoing and offers them the opportunity to ensure actions taken meet the original intent, Williford explained.

"We're seeing some results from FIP already," VanDenBrink said. "I'm an instructor, and part of the training is going to the training sites and finding out what's broken. And now when we go over to supply they say, 'Yeah, we have the money now. If you order these parts you're going to get them,' and that's not always what we're used to hearing. It's refreshing."

In addition to hosting town halls, the teams met with senior leaders in each operational area. Senior officers and enlisted members from Operations, Maintenance, Security Forces and Mission Support were presented with updates and discussed their viewpoints with FIP personnel.

"The senior leader meetings gave us the opportunity to discuss FIP efforts with the people who have been in this field the longest," Williford said. "Those meetings were essential in helping the senior leaders to embody FIP and better communicate its importance to their troops."

Another mission of the FIP teams was to find any unforeseen effects prior FIP decisions may have created.

"One of the biggest things we've seen so far is that we didn't give enough initial attention to Mission Support," Williford said. "We created more than 1,100 billets for additional personnel across the command, but we didn't plan for the strain this would place on our Mission Support squadrons. It's definitely something we intend to correct."

In response to the positive reaction this trip garnered and to demonstrate the command's continued support of the program, the FIP teams will return to the missile bases in the future and hold more face-to-face discussions, Williford explained. And, as the FIP office continues to capture good ideas and take action on them, future field visits will likely include a largely new list of discussion topics.

"This face-to-face Q&A was very useful," said Senior Airman Adam Tallman, an MHT technician with the 90th Maintenance Group. "It answered a lot of my questions and a lot of questions I didn't even think to ask, which was awesome. I'm going to brief my shop when I get back."