UTMs volunteer to strengthen gap

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Tech. Sgt. Courtney Richardson

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — How do 924th Fighter Group Reservists stay proficient when only working two days a month? With the dedicated effort between the supervisors and unit training managers.

Tech. Sgt. Stacie Riley and Staff Sgt. Kelvin Barnes are the 924th FG’s unit training managers, and they both volunteered to help strengthen that gap.

“We manage the training program for the whole unit and it encompasses a lot; from formal training, education benefits, on-the-job training to upgrade training,” Barnes said.

At any given time the unit can have 150 Airmen in some form of training.

“Right now we have more people in training than not and we are making progress to turn that around,” Riley said.

Being a reservist can make it more difficult to complete required training.

“Reservists follow the same rules as active-duty which means instead of having 280 or so days of consistent training, reservists have 38,” Riley said. “Adding to that, their drill days are filled with computer based training, medical requirements, and testing.”

Barnes points out that the members must be able to put their mindset back into military mode when they arrive for duty.

“The member may have other commitments than drill, like families, schools, and civilian jobs. They have to really focus on what they have to do here and that can be hard for some,” Barnes said. “We do our best to work with and around the member and their schedules.”

With so many challenges, both Barnes and Riley remember the key to keeping the member-in-training on track.

“We learned in technical school that the most critical link in training is the supervisor,” Riley said. “We give them a lot of information and they have to filter it to their Airmen.”

While training for everyone is important, Barnes explains that first-time supervisors are the ones who they focus on most.

“Most times they are just unaware of what they need to be doing for the member, and that’s where we step in and educate,” Barnes said. “They must have the proper tools in order to help their Airman.”

Training, whether they are active-duty, Guard, or Reserve, requires never-ending, clear communication at all levels to ensure members are equipped to do their jobs.

“We have to constantly follow-up with the supervisor and member in person, talk through any deficiency, and educate,” Riley said.

Riley and Barnes find being a training manager is a rewarding job and they both believe that their main goal is to help establish a culture of compliance for training within the unit.

Both Riley and Barnes transitioned from active-duty to become reservists. Riley served 10 years as an active-duty airborne Arabic cryptologic language analyst.Barnes served 11 years on active-duty, with his last position being a cadet wing training manager for the Air Force Academy.