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Wing propulsion flight mechanics first to combine

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- The propulsion flights from the 388th Component Maintenance Squadron and the 419th Maintenance Squadron began working together as the Hill Total Force Propulsion Flight Tuesday.

The integration marks the first time active duty and Reserve units here team up as part of the ongoing Total Force Integration of the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings.

Total Force Integration combines the Air Force Reserve 419th Fighter Wing with the active duty 388th Fighter Wing to produce greater, more effective combat capabilities.

“The vision for Total Force Integration is to maximize Air Force combat capabilities by capitalizing on the strengths inherent in the Air Reserve component and our active duty forces,” said Lt. Gen. Mark Schmidt, commander, Air Forces Southern (Twelfth Air Force) provisional. “Combining the experience and expertise of our Reserves with the professionalism and enthusiasm of our active duty Airmen enables both units to benefit.”

The 388th and 419th Fighter Wings are the Air Force’s first two fighter wings to integrate under the Total Force initiative.

“Total Force Integration is underway at Hill. We’re re-writing how the Air Force accomplishes this part of the mission. It’s really an exciting effort to be a part of,” said Col. Robert Beletic, 388th FW commander.

“There are some things that will have to be worked out, and it’s a learning process for both active and Reserve Airmen, but we’re confident that this will be of exceptional benefit to both organizations.”

Previously, each propulsion flight was responsible for maintaining F-110 engines used in the F-16s of their respective wings. Now they will collectively maintain 128 of the engines, performing everything from minor repairs to complete overhauls.

The active duty maintainers believe the integration will be of great benefit to both units. “It’s a winwin situation for us on the active duty side, because we’ll get the expertise of Reservists who have many years of experience on this engine,” said Senior Master Sgt. Dean Olney, 388th CMS Propulsion Flight chief.

“Active duty maintainers rotate several times during their career and end up working on a variety of different engines. Reservists bring years of experience working on this specific engine, which is a huge benefit to the active duty Airmen.”

“The corporate knowledge that the 419th Reservists bring to the Propulsion Shop’s operations is really an advantage for both commands.

Each Reservist brings a wealth of continuity, equipment maintenance and training support to the table,” said Col. Gary Batinich, 419th FW commander.

The Reservists are also looking forward to the integration.

“We’ll benefit a lot from the active duty manpower,” said Senior Master Sgt. David Chatwin, 419th Propulsion Flight chief.

“More full time people to accomplish the mission means more efficient engine production and less duplicated efforts between the two flights.”

The change however, might prove to be a little more emotional for the Reservists. “Our shop was built in 1972 and has put out spare engines ever since then,” said Sergeant Chatwin, who has been working on F-16 engines at Hill for more than 20 years. “They just put out their last engine and fittingly, it was a 388th asset that both units had worked on together.”

“It’s a bit of an emotional event for these people who have worked there for different periods of time over the last 30 years.”

Despite a few growing pains, the integration is going better than expected, according to Capt. Michael Eberl, 388th CMS Propulsion flight commander.

“There’s always a little fear of change when new things are on the horizon,” said Captain Eberl. “When you have two sets of people coming together with different ways of operating, there is a tendency for friction.”

“The relationship we have with the Reservists has made for a smooth transition and it is going better than we could have expected.”