Friday, June 07, 2013

Marine Corps Sergeant Seeks Commission

By Marine Corps Cpl. Lisa Tourtelot
3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif., June 7, 2013 – When shots rang out and flames burst through the Afghan sky over Camp Bastion last September, many things changed for many people.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Sgt. Efrain Melecio, an aviation logistics information management support specialist with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 11, prepares to leave his shop aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., May 21, 2013. Melecio, who hails from Chicago, is scheduled to attend Officer Candidates School this summer before beginning classes at the University of Arizona in the fall. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Lisa Tourtelot

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Marines who thought they might never see combat from their flight line roles as fuel specialists, mechanics, information technology specialists, engineers and myriad support jobs suddenly found themselves under attack and engaging the enemy.

Sgt. Efrain Melecio, an aviation logistics information management support specialist, then with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16 [Forward], was walking out of the showers after a long day at work when he and his fellow Marines saw the attack.

"It was the biggest flame I've ever seen in my life," Melecio said. "We had a lot of Marines who were involved in combat. Seeing the effect it had on them, I wanted to one day be able to help somebody who is going through something like that."

Although he had regularly taken college courses throughout his six years in the Marine Corps, Melecio found a new commitment to higher education following the attack.

"I want to help people who suffer from [post-traumatic stress disorder]," the Chicago native said.

This summer, Melecio will be involved in a different kind of battle as he attends Officer Candidates School before starting college full-time at the University of Arizona, where he plans to major in psychology.

Maj. Gen. Steven Busby and Sgt. Maj. Anthony Spadaro, the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing commanding general and sergeant major, respectively, stopped by Melecio's shop with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 11 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., May 21, 2013, to congratulate the sergeant on his selection to the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Program and wish him luck before he leaves.

Luck, however, may be a little unnecessary for the crisp, professional young Marine.

"I strive to accomplish as much as possible all the time," Melecio said, as he organized study materials from yet another college course. "I don't like sitting still and feeling like I'm not working toward something. I constantly feel the need to set new goals and obtain those goals."

Melecio's goals now focus on helping as many Marines as possible, embodying the leadership ideal of service before self.

"One of the biggest reasons I decided to do [the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Program] was because I want to lead and serve Marines," he said. "I love my job and I love working with Marines and I love getting hands on, but what draws my interest in earning a commission in the Marine Corps is being able to still work with Marines and having an increased level of responsibility."

The next four years will present new challenges for Melecio as he adapts to student life, but his experiences may give him added wisdom both as a student and, hopefully, a second lieutenant.

"I'm hoping to bring with me everything I've learned being a noncommissioned officer,” Melecio said. "I've learned a lot the past six years and I want to be able to share that with others and apply that as I move forward."

Missile officer recertification program makes great strides

by Kate Blais
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

6/7/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFNS) -- Ten of the 19 missile crew members from the 91st Operations Group at Minot AFB, N.D., have been recertified and are able to fully perform their alert duties.

The remaining officers continue to progress through the retraining program with the remaining decertified crew members expected to return to alert duty in early June, according to Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, 20th Air Force commander.

The officers had been decertified following an Air Force Global Strike Command Consolidated Unit Inspection of the 91st Missile Wing, March 4. Twenty-two areas were looked at during the CUI, with the missile wing earning an "Outstanding" rating in one area, "Excellent" ratings in 14 areas, and "Satisfactory" ratings in six areas. One area was rated "Marginal."

The recertification process includes requalification training, a qualification evaluation and Emergency War Order and Weapon System certification briefings to their certifying official. Each crew member successfully completed requalification training. Upon completion of the training, each crew member also completed a procedural evaluation in the simulator and Emergency War Order and Weapon System certification briefings to their certifying official as a means of validating the retraining and crew member proficiency.

As a result of the inspection and further review, unit leaders identified proficiency shortfalls compounded by an attitude of complacency among a small number of officers.

"Leaders are taking a holistic approach to a get-well program within the unit, focusing on proficiency, as well as individual preparation," Carey said.

Prior to the CUI, Air Force leaders had already been focused on addressing concerns about the workplace stressors and quality of life of those Airmen responsible for running the nuclear mission.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III visited the missile wings at Minot AFB, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., and Malmstrom AFB, Mont., in November 2012. During those visits, Airmen voiced concerns about stressors associated with the remote Northern Tier locations, insufficient manning, long transit times from the base to remote missile alert facilities, and pressures of the nuclear, no-fail mission.

"Leaders at all levels -- from the wings, to Numbered Air Force, to Major Command, to Headquarters Air Force and United States Strategic Command -- are paying attention to the nuclear deterrence mission. We must take care of the Airmen and families responsible for this critical strategic mission," said Global Strike commander Lt. Gen. James M. Kowalski.

To get a quick assessment and identify those things that could be easily fixed to improve morale and job satisfaction, Welsh asked RAND to conduct a 90-day look at those workplace stressors, which took place from December 2012 to February 2013.

RAND's study is not finalized; however, initial findings validate that the alert mission compounded with workplace stressors impact the quality of life for those Airmen responsible for the nuclear deterrence mission. Commanders are already actively engaged to address areas based on this 'quick-look' review.

"Twentieth Air Force is acting on some of those recommendations now and has also begun an effort called 'ProAct -- Professional Actions: Mitigating Stressors on America's ICBM Team,'" Carey said.

Initial feedback has allowed Carey to act on several items, including improving communication within the force, empowering leaders to address issues within their team and taking care of Airmen. Specifically, one of Carey's first initiatives has been to help ensure more predictability in the missile field personnel schedules and enforcing what he referred to as "protected time off."

"I asked the wing commanders to ensure that people's time off is protected and duty schedules managed closely to ensure they'll have predictable time for their personal lives," Carey described. "Knowing when you'll be home is very important and relieves stress on Airmen and their families."

"As the 20th Air Force commander it's my responsibility to ensure that the Airmen who provide our nation's nuclear deterrent have the resources they need and a safe and healthy work environment," Carey said.

Further study is ongoing at multiple levels and this review helped the 20th AF and unit leaders take a definite step forward on a path toward addressing ICBM force stressors. The Air Force chief of staff is scheduled to be briefed on the results this month.