With the footprint of the 944th Fighter Wing spanning across the continental United States, rarely will one find a career field which carries the responsibility of managing personnel and programs across that entire Wing.
One of these unique positions is Aviation Resource Management functional manager. That position is held by Master Sgt. Adam Raley at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.
Raley, a native of Florida, first started his military journey in the U.S. Army as an enlisted artillery soldier in 1994. After 11 years of service he decided that it was time for change. Following a short stint working as a contractor overseas, Raley found his opportunity to continue serving his country.
“I was always fascinated by aviation and how those operations worked,” said Raley. “When I saw the career available of Aviation Resource Management with the 944th, I had to see what this job was about.”
The Aviation Resource Management Airmen, often referred to as “1-Charlie”, are mandated by Congress to ensure anyone who steps into an aircraft is legally qualified to be there.
Lt. Col. Joseph Bemis, 944th Operations Support Flight commander, reiterated this high level of responsibility.
“1-Charlie’s keep pilots in-line,” said Bemis. “Pilots have dozens of training requirements and currencies to maintain and 1-Charlies track it all so we never expire or fly a mission for which we do not have the required currency.”
The importance of this role cannot be understated, clarified Raley.
These background checks are put in place to ensure the safety of Air Force pilots and those who fly with them. Should there ever be an aircraft mishap, one of the first places the investigators begin is with the Aviation Resource Management office.
“We don’t just let anyone step into a jet,” Raley said. “We have to ensure that everything is good to go for these pilots from their physiological requirements, mental health requirements, and all currencies are up to date.”
Although it was a major transition in culture from his time in the Army, Raley quickly adapted. A few years after joining the Air Force and becoming proficient in his job, he was quickly promoted to Aviation Resource Management functional manager for the entire wing.
Raley said, “Along with this responsibility comes a great level of job satisfaction and the personal relationships that are built with that.”
The trust built between the 1-Charlies and aircrew is paramount to mission success. The ability to stay in a Reserve unit longer than a typical active duty tour is the foundation to this trust and relationship building.
Maj. Christopher Houdek, 944th Operations Group pilot, said, “A combination of experience, longevity, selection process, and professionalism leads to more personal relationships and better integration in the unit. This in turn creates a positive culture that helps retain talent and bolsters the mission.”