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June 2018 Commander's Call: Leadership answers questions

| Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs | July 10, 2018

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. —

Q: Is the EC changing to NAF?

A: Air Mobility Command is in the process of undergoing an organizational structure change with regards to the Deputy Commander, 18th Air Force, and the 618th Air Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center). As of now, these structural changes do not involve making the Expeditionary Center a Numbered Air Force. Regardless of the name, the Expeditionary Center does fulfill some NAF-like responsibilities for the units assigned to the Center.

Q: When will the Air Force bring back warrant officers?

A: CMSAF Wright recently stated the Air Force is studying whether having warrant officers would make the service more lethal and efficient. The results of the study will help inform any future decision on the topic.

Q: When will the waist measurement be removed from the AFPT?

A: There are no current plans to remove the waist measurement from the AFPT.

Q: What is the status/plan for incentive flights for our airmen?

A: The 628 ABW is actively working with the 437 AW to organize incentive flights for our quarterly/annual award winners. The first incentive ride should be taking place in the very near future.

Q: Thoughts on a 2nd Family Day for Friday 6 July? Awkward Friday between the weekend and 4-5 July.

A: According to AFI 36-3003, Military Leave Program, passes (either regular or special) cannot exceed 4 days. Providing another Family Day on 6 July (in addition to the AMC Family Day on 5 July) would exceed this limitation.

Q: What is the POA for hurricanes this year? Will it be the same as last year or will it change?

A: The Limited Evacuation Order (LEO) for hurricanes is reviewed/updated each year prior to hurricane season as well as just before a storm threatens the area. Based on a review of the LEO from 2017, two changes were made regarding civilians in the LEO -- one involving civilian employees on Joint Base Charleston and the other involving civilian dependents of military members. In both cases, the LEO for 2018 will “authorize” them to evacuate instead of “order” them to evacuate. The change in terminology is intended to ensure civilian employees and dependents are reimbursed for evacuating. While this change gives civilian employees and dependents some flexibility, they are still subject to a mandatory evacuation of the local area if ordered by the Governor or if the base is closed in preparation for a hurricane (for those that reside on base).

Q: Have you heard about Emerging Leaders Mentorship program?

A: I am not familiar with a specific program by that name, however, there are numerous development programs for enlisted, officer and civilian personnel. Each program has specific requirements and application timelines. We pass along a track nominations for multiple programs each year. I encourage anyone interested in a particular program to research the requirements and application timeframe for the program to ensure they are ready to apply when the announcement is received.

Q: With the new proposed app, what email traffic will this help eliminate?

A: We plan to utilize the Joint Base Charleston app to disseminate information that is currently being sent out via email.  All announcements, calendar events, notifications, courses offered and much more will be on the app and no longer sent out via email. The app will also have a lot of useful information for you and/or your spouse and will be the primary means of non-essential/time-critical information flow within Joint Base Charleston. A large portion of the base population do not have access to email on a continuous basis due to the requirements of their job. A base app will allow them to receive the information at a time that is convenient to them without the need to review emails.

Q: Why did warfighter training at Camp McGrady go away?

A: The Warfighter Skills Training with the South Carolina Army National Guard ended for a couple of reasons. The first reason was due to the guard not being able to support our training given their funding and other training requirements.  The second reason is due to our wing shifting our readiness focus away from the skills being taught during these training events.

Q: If you're a Tech. Sgt. and have completed course 15, will you still be required to attend NCOA or is it depending on TIS/TIG?

A: Airmen who completed the respective Distance Learning Course 14 or 15 and were ineligible to attend resident EPME due to Time-in-Service (TIS) restrictions prior to 30 June 2017 will not be required to attend the respective resident courses (i.e., TSgt required to attend NCOA). These Airmen are coded as EPME complete until the next level of EPME is required (i.e., SMSgt required to attend SNCOA) unless selected by their wing within 30 calendar days of the class start date. All other Airmen will be scheduled for resident EPME based on rank and time-in-grade.  TIS is no longer a factor when prioritizing Airmen for EPME.

Q: How is Charleston planning to prioritize rollout of the OCP for all Airmen across the air base and how will OCPs be issued?

A: With a 1 October 2018 start date to wear OCPs and a mandatory wear date of 1 April 2021, we have no plans to prioritize or regulate the rollout of OCPs. AAFES at JB Charleston with be one of four bases to start selling OCPs on 1 October 2018.

Q: Is there any guidance on unit patches and AFSC specific patches for OCP's?

A: Official wear guidance will be published soon in AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance. In order to see how the OCP is worn, review the interim wear guidance posted on the AFPC Dress and Appearance webpage. You will be advised when the "official" AF Guidance Memorandum is posted--currently expected sometime in July 2018. The 628 ABW Historian has submitted all wing, group and squadron patches to the Air Force heraldry office for color conversion. Once the conversions are complete, the information will be provided to units so they can order patches in the approved colors.

Q: Will career field badges change on OCPs?

A: Official wear guidance will be published soon in AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance. In order to see how the OCP is worn, review the interim wear guidance posted on the AFPC Dress and Appearance webpage. You will be advised when the "official" AF Guidance Memorandum is posted--currently expected sometime in July 2018.

Q: Let's say you retire May 1, 2021. Will you have to wear OCPs for one month until retirement?

A:  Yes, but wearing blues is always an option (depending on your duties).

Q: What about OCP morale patches?  AFCENT allows that one day a week.

A: Official wear guidance will be published soon in AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance. In order to see how the OCP is worn, review the interim wear guidance posted on the AFPC Dress and Appearance webpage. You will be advised when the "official" AF Guidance Memorandum is posted—currently expected sometime in July 2018.

Q: When will OCP's stop being issued for deployments?

A: We do not have guidance at this time to answer this question.

Q: When can we expect our Military Clothing sales to stock OCPs and when can we start purchasing them?

A: Joint Base Charleston AAFES plans to start selling OCPs on 1 October. Army installations will also sell OCPs to Airmen on 1 October.

Q: With the transition to OCP on 1 October, will the ABU surplus sell for reduced prices or will they remain the same?

A: AFFES has not released any guidance on reducing prices for ABUs.

Q: Are combat shirts going to be authorized with the OCP?

A: Official wear guidance will be published soon in AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance. In order to see how the OCP is worn, review the interim wear guidance posted on the AFPC Dress and Appearance webpage. You will be advised when the "official" AF Guidance Memorandum is posted--currently expected sometime in July 2018.

Q: If we've already been issued the OCP uniform from a previous deployment, can we utilize that uniform on 1 Oct?

A: Yes, if the OCP you were issued is serviceable and is an approved version IAW AFI 36-2903.

Q: Will morale shirts be allowed with ABU after 1 Oct?

A: Guidance will be published soon in AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance. Morale shirts will not be authorized with OCPs.

Q: Now that we have updated our ABUs to OCPs, can we look at updating our Blues?

A: Recent Dress and Appearance updates were made and approved as a result of the 100th Uniform Board, including changes to ribbon wear, sizes of chevrons on blues and authorized footwear. These changes will be published soon in AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance. No additional guidance has been released about updating our service uniform or service dress uniform.

Q: The base grounds overall look really bad. Is there anything we can do to make the base grounds look better?  The white flowers have taken over all the lawns.

A: Base grounds are maintained by contract to Air Force standards to provide a balance between keeping the base looking nice and controlling costs. This includes minimizing the use of fertilizers and herbicides to be eco-friendly. CES and CONS will continue to monitor the Grounds Contractor’s adherence to contract requirements and direct changes where appropriate. Housing lawns are maintained by the housing contractor and the occupants, with similar challenges. Everyone can help by keeping their lawns neatly mowed and edged.

Q: Can we get an update on when the back gate behind NNPTC will open?

A: NNPTC opened the gate on Monday, 11 Jun. However, we had a breach in security with a vehicle transiting in through the gate is intended for outbound traffic only. Based upon this incident, we have once again closed the lanes in order to review what can be done procedurally and in terms of physical security to curtail future incidents.

Q: How long do you expect the light at Hill Blvd to be out of service?

A: The signal controller is at the end of its life cycle and we were working to award a contract in September to replace it. We’ve accelerated that effort, have consulted with SCDOT and have a site visit with the contractor for the replacement. The next step is to receive the contractor’s proposal, negotiate/award the contract and determine the schedule. We are not at the point of developing the schedule, but we are working to get it replaced as soon as is practical.

Q: Is there any future plans on creating a turn-only lane at the corner of Hill Blvd.?

A: We have no traffic/pavement improvements planned for Hill Blvd. The limiting factor for traffic on Hill Blvd. is the traffic light on Dorchester Rd., which is controlled by SCDOT. This light is timed to maximize the efficiency of Dorchester Rd., which improves overall traffic flow for everyone.

Q: Can the timing of the light be changed to allow more traffic to turn left when exiting the base onto Dorchester Rd.? The timing is considerably shorter than for the right turn lane and each light change is 3-4 minutes long.

A: This light is timed to maximize the efficiency of Dorchester Rd., which improves overall traffic flow for everyone. The reason the right turn is longer is because right turns can be made while traffic is turning left off of Dorchester onto the base. This also allows more traffic to clear the approach to the light as you leave the base.

Q: Is there any way we can clear out the nature trail path next to the fitness center? My shop does Friday runs and are always looking for more paths.

A: The trail’s main bridge footers have suffered damage/erosion from recent storms and we’ve had to close it due to safety concerns. We’ve tabled the routine maintenance in light of the structural issues related to the bridge. The bridge has a low priority in relation to all our other facility requirements and we will look at the validity of repairing the bridge and continuing to maintain the trail moving forward.

Q: Is there anything in the works for building a field training site with the increase in readiness?

A: CES is planning improvements to the base ATSO area with Contingency Readiness Funds. The first improvement will be a Mask Confidence Trainer. Additional improvements are being considered subject to funding and manpower capacity.

Q: What is the latest update on when the truck queuing area off of Remount Rd will open?

A: The truck queuing project is proceeding on schedule and projected to be complete in the Fall. The storm drainage modifications are complete and paving, a gravel parking area and a new fence are substantially complete.

Q: Is there any consideration to change traffic flow at the gym? People do not follow it on many occasions.

A: It has been looked at in the past, but the gym is heavily used and the traffic flow is designed to maximize parking. Changing the traffic pattern would decrease parking spots so the current design is considered to be the best option.

Q: Would it be a cheaper option to install turf instead of grass for long term rather than paying groundkeepers?

A: Artificial turf is only practical in limited situations, typically for sports fields where it is difficult to maintain grass due to heavy use. Artificial turf requires specialized maintenance to remain functional.

Q: Will the street lights be fixed in base housing?

A:  We’ve had chronic problems with the lights in Hunley Park with about 18% (22 of 124) currently being inoperative. CES has met with Hunt maintenance personnel and devised a collaborative plan to identify the issues and correct the problem. CES has checked the circuits and Hunt has replaced lights, but the problems have been varied and intermittent. Just changing the bulbs has not reduced the problem, as replaced lights have gone out. We are in the process of troubleshooting and data gathering to pin down the issues (which circuits, which lights in the circuit, voltage readings at the lights, repeat offenders, etc.) and identify corrections.

Q: Is anything being looked at to fix the traffic backflow during peak hours at the back gate? Those trying to turn left (after exiting the gate) onto Midland Park block all traffic trying to continue on Aviation Ave. and the backlog can be ridiculous.

A: We do not have any projects in the program to address traffic on Arthur Drive (back gate). Anecdotally, we understand the problem is intermittent/occasional and caused by heavy approaching traffic turning right on to Midland Park Rd., thus causing left turning traffic from the base to back up. The “right turning” traffic can be impacted by accidents on the other primary roads and Boeing traffic. Although we do not expect any immediate relief, we do know the community is very interested in traffic around the base and is studying potential improvements.  We recommend varying commute periods around peak traffic periods as best as you’re able. The widening of the road is not viable due to airfield safety clearance zones that restricts permanent construction.

Q: What is the timeline on the base population getting larger email boxes?

A: 20 June 2018, the base migrated to Cloud Hosted Enterprise Services and each user now has a 99 GB mailbox. If your email has not migrated properly, please contact the Communication Squadron Focal Point at DSN: 673-2666, Option 4.

Q: Any idea what's going on with the almost unusable computers/email?

A: The Air Force has several modernization initiatives to improve the user’s reliability and service experience. During this transition, problems have been encountered and corrected as they become known. If you are still experiencing a specific issue, please contact the Communication Squadron Focal Point at DSN: 673-2666 or open a ticket through vESD located on your desktop. The more specific you are in terms of the problems you’re having, the more quickly we will be able to resolve.

Q: Are there any details about AFSC specific PT tests?

A: The latest information we have is in regards to Battlefield Airmen. Effective 1 November 2017, these Airmen have been exempt from components of the standard fitness assessment test and will be required to complete their annual occupational AFSC-specific fitness assessment, conducted by a certified physical training leader (PTL). The impacted AFSC’s include Combat Control, Combat Rescue Officer, Para Rescue, Special Tactics Officer and Special Operations Weather Technician. The full Air Force Fitness Program-Battle Airman Fitness assessment policy can be found at https://mypers.af.mil/app/answers/detail/a_id/35933.

Q: When will the Dining Facility reopen?

A: We still anticipate the Dining Facility to reopen late Summer/early Fall.

Q: In regards to the meal card holders, will this card be like a gift card, with a set limit on it? Or is it like a credit card and the balance will increase with each purchase? Will it be declined if the limit has been reached?

A: Meal card holders are officially referred to as Essential Station Messing (ESM) members. ESM Validation and eligibility is tracked and monitored through the Aloha Point of Sale System (POS) using the Common Access Card (CAC). ESM customers are authorized 3 meals per day at the Dining Facility, dine-in, carry- out or Campus Dining at any designated and approved NAF Food and Beverage operations. Potential abuse will be reported to the member's Commander and First Sergeant for review and is subject to action under the UCMJ. *A meal is considered a reasonable amount of food that can typically be consumed in one sitting/meal (sit down or grab-n-go). The use of ESM to obtain food for stocking an individual’s dorm room or personal quarters or feeding other members is not authorized. Members may return to the serving line area for additional portions (seconds) within the same meal period and transactions are rung-up within the POS system but considered as only 1 of the 3 meals per day.

Q: Why are the softball fields behind the gym always locked?

A: The softballs fields behind the Fitness Center are maintained only for Youth Programs. If interested in Adult fields, you should contact the Fitness Center.

Q: Can we get FSS to do some type of mud run/challenge run?

A: This type of event is in the works. We are teaming up with the Weapons Station to try to have the run next Spring.

Q: Will the CDC offer a curriculum for full-time enrollment Pre-K to prepare them for Kindergarten? They currently only offer it to children who attend the half-day program.

A: There is no difference in the curriculum being offered for part day and full day. The CDC is currently using the Purdue Preschool curriculum in all classrooms. The parents are able to set-up a parent teacher conference with their child's teacher to learn more about it.

Q: Will the Air Base get a splash zone for the kids like the Weapons Station?

A: We are still in the initial design phase of this project. However, we hope to have it completed within the next 12 months.

Q: Can you reiterate that when the light on Hill Blvd., near the BX, is blinking yellow you should NOT stop. Many still are.

A: That is correct. Flashing red lights should be approached as if they are a stop sign, while flashing yellow does not necessitate a stop, but rather informs you to proceed with caution.

Q: Why can't prescriptions from the Navy side medical facility be filled in the Air Force side? If they can, what is the procedure to get them filled?

A: Medications from the Navy Health Clinic can be filled at the 628th Medical Group. Patients may request activation of their medications by calling 843-963-6833, option 5, to activate their prescription over the phone for following-day pick up. Or they may pull a ticket in the clinic pharmacy lobby for face-to face activation before 1600 (Monday – Friday).

Q: Can the chapel start hosting events such as marriage retreats?

A: Yes. We actually will have a marriage retreat pending for this fiscal year. We are also looking to host more events (i.e. marriage retreats, singles retreats, seminars, etc.) in the near future.

Q: Is there a system in place to prevent the BAS-II issue from leaves and TDY’s? If so, what is the system?

A: There is no automated process to reconcile Leave and TDYs with BAS-II before the BAS-II is paid. The 628 CPTS has instituted procedures to pull a previous month’s Leave and TDY reports by the 5th Business Day of the following month, and then compare that list to the most current dorm roster. Once the list of affected Airmen is determined, BAS-II debts are manually created for each member to collect from their EOM LES.  Due to the labor-intensive nature of reconciliation and debt collection, all Airmen in the dorms should anticipate a one-month delay from their Leave/TDY to BAS-II recoupment.

Q: Will the base pay if SFS shreds tires?

A: According to AFI 51-501, paragraph 2.3, claims personnel are prohibited from suggesting or advising claimants how much to claim, give an opinion to the claimant or claimant's representative about an anticipated approval or disapproval of the claim, and revealing the recommendations of a settlement authority outside claims channels.  Each claim, however, is adjudicated based upon its own merits. All claims filed, including those regarding shredded tires, will be reviewed to determine if a payment is permitted under the regulations.

Q: What is the process on getting a Taco Bell or Popeye’s on base?

A:  Thank you for your inquiry about additional food options for the JB Charleston Food Court.  AAFES is in ongoing negotiations with several brand name food concepts to identify a good fit with our existing operations. The options are often limited by franchisee restrictions within close proximity to the installation.  Another food option AAFES is pursuing is Food Trucks and they have a couple contracts being finalized. Once finalized, the proposed vendor is reviewed by Public Health to ensure the safety to base personnel

Q: Is there any way we can get healthier options in the BX food court so we can keep up with our healthy military standards?

A: The Exchange is committed to providing healthy choices through the BE FIT program featured at our Express stores and customers can easily identify BE FIT items by the green and orange BE FIT shelf labels. A BE FIT end cap is featured at the main entrance to the Express and the program is supplemented by a selection of fresh fruit. The Exchange is focused on expanding the items available through the BE FIT program. Healthy choices are also available at the Food Court (Subway, Burger King and Charley’s) through a variety salads, wraps and sandwiches all under 400 calories. The Exchange is committed to promoting Healthy Lifestyle initiatives and looks forward to new offerings in the future! Please let me know if you have any questions or wish to discuss further. Thank you and have a great day!

Q: Sir, with the Unit Arming Program about to take effect, will people without Law Enforcement Credentials, but with a concealed carry permit, be able to carry on base or be allowed to carry while commuting and store their firearm safely in their car while on duty? If so, when will this take effect?

A: You are referencing a couple of different issues within one statement. It’s important to understand these are separate authorities and not related. We must be clear here, concealed/carry is not authorized on Joint Base Charleston under any circumstance unless the individual meets provisions laid out within the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act or the Privately Operated Vehicle storage implementing instructions. Both initiatives are undergoing final staffing and coordination. Neither initiative has been approved to date. I anticipate approval and implementation by mid-July.

Once approved, LEOSA would authorize individuals with a LEOSA credential to carry a concealed firearm on their person at all times. It is important to note, certain facilities will not allow any firearms in order to comply with laws/regulations (ex: hospitals, Post Office). There will be other facilities on base that may elect to not allow firearms inside, and they should be designated with a sign at the entrance stating, “Firearms Prohibited.” If you need to enter one of these facilities, you will have to store your weapon in your vehicle.

Once approved, Privately Operated Vehicle storage would authorize personnel who own a lawful firearm to transport their weapon on base, but not carry it on their person. This will effectively provide an opportunity for lawful carry off the installation when commuting to and from JB Charleston. More details on the requirements will be announced once approved.