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Armed Forces Day - 2024

Veteran's Day is for those who have served and Memorial Day is for our fallen military heroes, but how do we recognize those who are currently serving? Secretary of Defense, Louis Johnson, answered this question on August 31, 1949, when he announced the creation of Armed Forces Day after the unification of the armed forces under the Department of Defense. "Armed Forces Day shines a spotlight on the courage and commitment of active duty service members and reservists. It is a day to express gratitude to those who have chosen to defend their nation, regardless of the uniform they wear or the country they represent."1

We sat down with SSgt Casey Guy, TSgt Samantha "Sloan" Middleton, and MSgt Robert Taylor from the 48th Maintenance Group (MXG) and asked them why Armed Forces Day is important to them and why they joined the military.

"[Armed Forces Day] provides that… appreciation for all our branches, as well as our reserve and guard units out there because they deploy and do the same job we do, and it's nice to see when everyone is getting their recognition. I joined the military because I needed to grow up, and I needed that structure. And, it made me a way better person than I ever thought I would be... I owe the Air Force a lot." 2

from SSgt Casey Guy

"I look at [Armed Forces Day] as an opportunity for me to look back on my career, and I've been in for eighteen and a half years so it's been a long, lengthy career. And, how far we have also come with women, not only in the military, but in Maintenance - we've come really far. I've only got a few more years left, but it will be interesting to see how much more we can progress with that." 3

from TSgt Samantha "Sloan" Middleton

"This year, as we commemorate the 74th anniversary of Armed Forces Day, I am reminded of the profound legacy of service that runs through my family. My great-grandfather fought in the Korean War, while both of my grandfathers served during the tumultuous times of the Vietnam War. Their commitment to defending their country inspires me, and I see it as a personal responsibility to carry forward their tradition of service into the next generation. It is an honor bestowed upon me to uphold the legacy they forged through their sacrifices and dedication. Armed Forces Day holds a special significance for me as it is a day dedicated to celebrating the brave men and women who have served their country in the armed forces.
In a nation where less than 1% of the population serves in the military, Armed Forces Day serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by this small but vital segment of society. It is a day to recognize the bravery and selflessness of those who willingly put themselves in harm's way to protect the freedoms we hold dear. As we celebrate Armed Forces Day, let us not only honor the individuals who serve, but also reaffirm our commitment to supporting them and their families in every way possible." 1

from MSgt Robert Taylor
All three of these individuals brought up some incredibly thought-provoking topics.
To return the favor to the Airmen who opened up and shared their story with us, we want to share with you a training they have been a part of implementing here at RAF Lakenheath for all four Fighter Generation Squadrons: 495th, 493rd, 492nd, & 494th.

SPEAR Training

SMSgt Simpson Hill and MSgt Robert Taylor, of the 48 MXG, shared how proud they are of being the only base currently using Strategical Preparation Evolving Armament Readiness (SPEAR) training or anything like it, and the fact that this bi-monthly training program has made it up to the Pentagon and its data is being pulled after reporting to brief to the Top Brass.

Before we get in too deep, let's clarify what the purposes of SPEAR are: to exercise muscle and memory use in unique scenarios; to expand Airmen's knowledge beyond their assigned positions; to open the door for discussion on tactics and techniques used; to allow Airmen to approach problems in multiple ways; and to provide an environment with no supervisory input (other than safety observation), to allow Airmen to experiment and complete taskings in an abnormal environment.
Since August 2023, when a 3-member team shows up to Weapons Load Standardization and it is a SPEAR month, Airmen are given a unique, real-world scenario to complete. Crews are not briefed on the scenario until they arrive. "When you see this real-time, [the crews] are like 'we don't know what to do with our hands.'"4 We asked a couple of the evaluators about their experiences opposite the crews conducting the loads, and the consensus is that while the crews might freeze up at first, eventually a lightbulb turns on in their heads and they start talking through their next steps.5 This speaks directly to the SPEAR purpose of providing an abnormal environment where the Airmen can approach problems in multiple ways.

Who creates the SPEAR scenarios? Loading Standardization Crews sit down and table talk - simple as that. They analyze the performance ratings across all types of loads and take a look at real-world current events. They then have to figure out how to bridge the gap between these two factors and branch out beyond normal operations. One thing that was said several times by just about everyone who spoke on SPEAR was that they want to see the Airmen think outside of the box. Not every problem has a cookie-cutter solution, and these crews need to be prepared to do their jobs in every situation, whether that be loading in a different position or configuration, working with fewer crew members, while missing a certain piece of equipment, or something else - the list goes on.

Yes, SPEAR is designed to prepare the crews for the Great Power Competition and taskings that may come alongside that, but TSgt Kenneth Gullette wanted to make sure Airmen didn't miss out on the fun aspect of the training either. Bringing fun into these scenarios allows the crew members to gain more self-investment and lets them see the benefits of how what they are practicing can be used in the real world. It might also re-spark their interest in the career field by allowing them to see how they are impacting the overall mission.6 SPEAR allows the crews to expand their innovation and imagination to add value and experience to their everyday work lives.7

In summary, SPEAR training is working to prepare Airmen of the 48 MXG for their next challenge, their next deployment, and every objective and obstacle they face from here on out. SPEAR is molding these Airmen to be educated decision-makers and independent problem-solvers. SPEAR is the 48 MXG's approach to accelerating their forces' training to be able to be better prepared in executing the 48th Fighter Wing's mission.


Want to share a story or tell us why Armed Forces Day is important to you?

Send us a message on Facebook or Instagram and share your story! Include a photo if you'd like and then check back here for updates.

Sources:

1. MSgt Robert Taylor, personal communication, April 4, 2024.
2. SSgt Casey Guy, personal communication, April 4, 2024.
3. TSgt Samantha Middleton, personal communication, April 4, 2024.
4. SMSgt Simpson Hill, personal communication, April 4, 2024.
5. TSgt Jonathan Picher, personal communication, April 4, 2024.
6. TSgt Kenneth Gullette, personal communication, April 4, 2024.
7. SrA Samantha Love, personal communication, April 4, 2024.


U.S. Air Force photos by A1C Alexander J Vasquez

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Monday, June 17, 2024

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