Support agencies move to one UTA

  • Published
  • By Sandra Pishner
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Forget everything you've heard about the 446th Airlift Wing moving to just one drill weekend, or UTA. It's not true, not really. 

That's not to say there aren't some changes coming with the new fiscal year, but to fling about the phrase "one UTA," is misleading, according to Col. William Flanigan, 446th Airlift Wing commander. 

There will still be an A UTA and a B UTA come October. The big difference is that customer service functions such as those provided by the 446th Mission Support Squadron and some wing staff agencies, will only be available on the wing's primary UTA, commonly known as the A UTA. 

"Our military personnel flight is not manned for two UTAs," said Colonel Flanigan. "It's not good to have our MPF people out twice a month and it doesn't allow for great unit and wing staff cohesion." 

According to Col. Rainie Myr, 446th MSS commander, the MPF, similar to other wing service providers, has provided support on both UTAs for a long time. 

"We collectively did that through really dedicated people working extra UTAs and with careful use of overages," said Colonel Myr. 

While Colonel Myr believes unit cohesion and morale is already high in the 446th MSS, she also is looking forward to having everyone on a single UTA. 

The challenge now for mission support is devising a plan for how best to deliver customer support to all Reservists in the 446th AW. 

"The mission support group and mission support squadron have formed a working group to look at how best to address the needs of those Reservists working on the alternate UTA," said Colonel Myr. 

According to Colonel Flanigan, Reservists serving on the alternate UTA will need to plan ahead when they need mission support, such as the issuance of a new military ID card, testing on a career development course, or even firing a weapon for combat skills currency. 

"Most military personnel functions are now being done on the web," said the colonel. "Anything that does require a visit to the MPF, such as getting a new ID card, will dictate that the Reservist either reschedule to the primary UTA, or stop by on a Friday or Monday on either side of the UTA to take care of support business. That's something that will have to be worked out with your supervisor." 

Working out reschedules for times a Reservist needs mission support will be particularly important to the maintenance squadrons. Because the maintenance units are so large, they will remain split between the primary and alternate UTAs. 

"We'll certainly need to be in the mind set of thinking ahead," said Chief Master Sgt. Danny Bass, 446th Maintenance Squadron superintendent. "On the plus side, when we're out here on the alternate UTA, it will be pure training and mission accomplishment. There won't be any distractions." 

Other issues for some of the squadrons also remain to be worked out. The 36th and 86th Aerial Port Squadrons share a building, which will not be able to accommodate both squadrons on the same UTA. The commanders of those two squadrons are in talks now to negotiate a workable solution to the limitation of shared workspace. This may include taking turns working on the A UTA while the other unit comes on the B UTA. 

Another squadron grappling with space issues is the 446th Security Forces Squadron. Enough space to accommodate the entire squadron on one weekend is not the problem in this case. The problem will be having enough space on the firing range for all the Reservists on the A UTA. 

"We're really going to have to take a look at how we're going to schedule weapons qualifications for the increased number of people on the primary UTA," said Master Sgt. Lenny Deboma, 46th SFS. "We only have 21 positions on the range on the A UTA weekends. The Air National Guard also shoots on those weekends, so we can't get more range positions." 

It's likely there will continue to be weapons training on the B UTA. "This is in keeping with the point of having the B UTA be strictly training," said Colonel Flanigan. 

The 446th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, at this point, is planning on continuing to have a small number of people on the alternate UTA in order to stay on top of the annual physicals, drug testing and medical profiles. 

"I believe our biggest challenge will be switching our people between the UTAs when they need services. That will present a challenge with UTAPS (unit training assembly participation system)," said Chief Master Sgt. Sonja Smith, 446th AMDS. 

Planning will be the key as support services are eliminated from the alternate UTA. The below schedule for UTAs in FY 2008 has been approved and Reservists are encouraged to share this schedule with their civilian employers.

Oct. 4 - 5 18 - 19
Nov. 1 - 2 15 - 16
Dec. 6 - 7 13 - 14
Jan. 10 - 11 24 - 25
Feb. 7 - 8 21 - 22
March 7 - 8 21 - 22
April 4 - 5 18 - 19
May 2 - 3 16 - 17
June 6 - 7 27 - 28
July 11-12 25 - 26
Aug. 8 - 9 22 - 23
Sept. 12 - 13 19 - 20