KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- How many Wolf Pack members does it take to keep Kunsan fully functional? The Airmen of the 8th Fighter Wing manpower office work to answer that question and make sure there are enough personnel assigned to the base to meet the needs of a mission that continues to evolve over time.
“We are spaces, not faces,” said Master Sgt. Shaun Duffy, 8th FW manpower and organization flight chief. “We get confused with personnel a lot, but really, we don’t put people in seats. We help create the seats to put people in.”
In order to determine how many Airmen of each rank and Air Force Specialty Code are required for each office to operate proficiently, the Air Force Manpower Analysis agency develops a manpower study. This study is a one to two-year process and done by measuring work output.
Before manpower standards are made permanent, the standards are pushed to manpower offices Air Force-wide, where the teams coordinate with local units to see if there are any aspects that may have been overlooked. Units may lose positions that could have a negative impact on the unit, so teams have the opportunity to request a variance, or difference, of standards to maintain or increase the allocated slots required to complete the mission.
“At the wing level, we review the unit manpower documents and apply those standards when a major command directs us to,” said Tech. Sgt. Kiera Coriell-Quade, 8th FW manpower and organization NCO in charge of wartime readiness. “We rely heavily on squadron leadership, group commanders and chief enlisted managers to tell us about those stress points. We don’t know if they’re struggling in their sections or if they received a new mission because we aren’t embedded in their units. We are relying on them to give us that feedback.”
If the U.S. Pacific Air Forces tasks a unit at Kunsan with a new mission, the unit needs to contact the manpower office to potentially gain manning positions.
“If the new mission being directed to Kunsan from the major command is not captured in the current manpower standard, and we don’t have the manpower to support it, that would justify us coming out to capture the work, quantify the data, and provide a report that we need an increase in manning to support this extra mission,” said Duffy.
To advise leadership on how the manpower office operates, the team provides briefings that cover the four competencies from which they operate: requirements determination, programs allocation and control, organization structure and performance management. According to the team, performance management and organizational structure are what they touch the most on the base.
Organizational structure encompasses a unit’s activations or de-activations based on the hierarchy of organizations on base. Performance management entails a unit’s day-to-day work processes and innovation programs like Kunsan AB line of effort number five, Operation BOLO or “Be on the lookout for opportunity”, which the manpower team was tasked with establishing.
“We are going to have an innovation lab set up for Airmen across Kunsan to work their ideas and flush them out in a quiet space away from their unit,” said Duffy. “We also have a council who will help Airmen develop their idea into a pitch for the wing commander. This pitch will give Airmen a chance to have funds allocated to help turn their idea into a reality.”
The manpower office’s four competencies impact every unit on a base, and therefore, Airmen operating in the manpower career field must be skilled in math, writing and interpersonal communication.
“We are advising commanders, so our communication skills have to be very high,” said Duffy. “We have to be able to assess risk, advise the decision makers on how they should proceed and inform them of the risk they assume when they do proceed. Being able to articulate and dig into the details is especially important.”
For Tech. Sgt. Ashlee Johnson, 8th FW manpower and organization NCO in charge, the math portion of the job attracted her when the opportunity came to cross train into a different career field.
“To enter this career field, we have to pass a math test,” said Johnson. “I wanted to go to the manpower agency where I would have the opportunity to develop standards that have a lot of math involved, as well as digging into regulations.”
As the challenges come, the manpower team will continue to advise commanders, and help the Wolf Pack find innovative processes to optimize their work forces efficiency.