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News > New Reserve group stands up at Seymour Johnson
 
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414th Fighter Group
Senior Airman Bobby Kerr, 307th Fighter Squadron reservist crew chief, closes the lid of a joint oil analysis program sample on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., March 19, 2010. Crew chiefs take an oil sample after an aircraft lands to ensure the engine is working properly. Kerr hails from Boone, N.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Whitney Lambert)
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F-15E group at Seymour Johnson to grow to 340

Posted 3/24/2010   Updated 3/30/2010 Email story   Print story

    


by Tech. Sgt. Tammie Moore
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


3/24/2010 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C.  -- To keep up with the demand for F-15E Strike Eagle pilots and weapon systems officers, a new group is standing up on Seymour Johnson AFB.

Air Force Reserve Command's 414th Fighter Group may only have a handful of assigned personnel now, but about 340 reservists will fall under the group, its 307th Fighter Squadron or its 414th Maintenance Squadron by September 2011

"We currently have 21 personnel and are actively hiring aircrew, intelligence and maintainers for our organization," said Lt. Col. Kevin Fesler, 307th FS Detachment 3 commander and 4th Operations Group deputy commander. "All of the full-time personnel are stationed at Seymour Johnson. The part-time traditional reservists live within driving distance of the base to fulfill their drill period requirements."

The role of the new group is to help Seymour Johnson produce more qualified F-15E aircrew.

"The Total Force Integration initiative was directed by a chief of staff of the Air Force and secretary of the Air Force memo in 2007 to utilize AFRC aircrew to produce more F-15E aircrew graduates," Colonel Fesler said. "The success of the initial TFI plan was realized, and the 4th FW requested a Phase II expansion, which includes maintenance and intelligence personnel with a plus-up of instructor aircrew also. All of these personnel will functionally integrate with the 4th FW and be leveraged to produce more world-class F-15E graduates."

The AFRC maintainers arriving to the new units are fully qualified with 5-, 7- and 9-skill levels. They will work hand-in-hand with the base's Regular Air Force Airmen.

"The 4th MXG will have operational direction over the maintenance personnel. That means they will decide their day-to-day duties," Colonel Fesler said.

"Air Force Reserve Command and Air Combat Command signed memorandums of agreement and understanding regarding the utilization of the personnel to maximize their experience within the 4th FW," he said. "The 414th FG will maintain administrative control for reporting, etc."

Many of the reservists were in the Regular Air Force before joining the Air Force Reserve.

Senior Airman Bobby Kerr, a 307th FS crew chief, is one of the first reservists assigned to the unit.

"I had no learning curve coming here," he said. "I worked on the F-15 for four years at Langley (AFB, Va.) before joining the Reserve," he said.

Airman Kerr is a traditional reservist, so he will spend at least one weekend a month and two weeks a year working hand-in-hand with the base's active-duty crew chiefs to generate aircraft.

"I'm expected to carry my weight," he said. "I'm held to the same standards."

Although the active-duty and Reserve Airmen have meshed well, there have been challenges in establishing the new group on base.

"Any new venture meets the challenge of funding," Colonel Fesler said. "The Air Force as a whole has to fund each new initiative and prove the value over another great venture being pursued elsewhere - nothing is free. So, acquiring the required funding to bring in the manpower is a significant challenge."

Despite this fact, Colonel Fesler has found his involvement in the 414th FG standup a rewarding experience.

"(I've enjoyed) having the opportunity to be back in the F-15E community among the greatest warriors in the world and actively participating as a TFI organization that has grown from infancy to being on the cusp of becoming a fighter group. It is also rewarding to offer personnel jobs/positions within our organization and watch those folks flourish as they are given increased responsibility."

Standing up the TFI organization required Colonel Fesler to work with many people from various units across the base.

"The 4th FW has been tremendously receptive and supportive of the TFI initiatives here," Colonel Fesler said. "TFI is a contentious subject across the Department of Defense and the Seymour Johnson expansion/association is seen as a success story in no small part due to the vision of the leadership here."



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