LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --
If you’re looking for the 189th Vehicle Management Flight, you’ll need to leave the 189th Airlift Wing to find it. The 189th Airlift Wing and the 19th Airlift Wing’s Logistics Readiness Squadrons have combined their respective vehicle maintenance shops in support of the Air Force’s Total Force Continuum initiative.
As the Air Force looks to reduce redundancies and maximize the efficiency of the total force, bases that have Guard and Reserve tenant units are considering how combining their efforts could impact the mission at large and support the TFC.
Capt. Kenneth Simon, 189th LRS Operations Officer, explained that when Team Little Rock became aware of Air Mobility Command and National Guard Bureau’s desire to scope out Little Rock’s LRS teams for a total force opportunity, they took it upon themselves to initiate a SWOT analysis.
“We decided that it would be the best way to find the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats throughout all the flights. As we did so, there were two flights – 189th Vehicle Management and 19th Vehicle Management - who collectively thought that this merger was a good idea for Little Rock Air Force Base and for the growth of the Airmen,” Simon said. “The beauty of all of this is that no one told us that we had to do it. We knew this would work because of the level of respect that we had for each other and because we had a good relationship from the start.”
In order to ensure a smooth transition, leadership from both shops engaged with airmen to make sure that they were on board with the merge and gave them an opportunity to provide feedback. Airmen from both vehicle management shops were on board with the transition, which was an integral part of making the merge successful.
Master Sgt. Dan Anderson, 189th Vehicle Management superintendent, acknowledged that Airmen at all levels were supportive of the merge but had concerns about how they would integrate into the space at the 19th Vehicle Management shop.
“A couple of our guys were tentative about the move, to be honest. However, as soon as we made the move and they saw all of the available space and equipment, all of those concerns were gone,” stated Anderson.
Upon moving into the 19th Vehicle Management shop, the 189th AW gained access to more repair bays in the general purpose shop, a special purpose shop, a refueling shop, and a K-loader shop that dramatically multiplied the amount of space, tools, and equipment available for efficient vehicle maintenance. One important benefit of combining the two shops is continued support of mission requirements for both units. Prior to the move to the 19th vehicle maintenance shop, the 189th had only one vehicle lift, which sometimes limited the ability to complete repairs in a timely manner.
In addition to added work space, both shops gained more experienced hands to work on vehicles and continue supporting the mission. With the addition of the 189th vehicle maintainers, came another group of experienced Airmen who could continue working on the Team Little Rock fleet on drill weekends.
“Our guys like having the younger Airmen come up to them, asking them questions. They had all that experience and knowledge that they weren’t able to share with anyone,” Anderson said.
Joining the two flights has presented a number of benefits that leadership expected, and some that they had not previously considered.
“We all speak the same language out there on the shop floor and it’s been easy for Airmen to come up to myself, and other members of leadership when they want to present a new idea or ask a question about a process,” said Senior Master Sgt. Ismael Rosa, the 19th LRS Vehicle Management flight chief. “The Airmen are the pulse of this shop and they’re out there making things happen. They’re not afraid to talk to us about processes and other concerns. It’s been an all-around positive experience.”
Rosa also explained that because of this exchange of ideas and information, the shop leadership team has been able to come together and think of ways to increase efficiency by creating more streamlined processes that benefit both the 19th and 189th.
“We have been able to make a lot of these processes a team process, rather than a 19th or 189th way of doing things,” he said. “Our first stand-up as a team, we made it clear: we’re not active duty or Guard in this house. We’re 2T3’s, one community.”