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Duke Field maintainers implement innovative training program

Airman tightens bolts

Senior Airman Chris Peterson, 919th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, tightens bolts on a new propeller mounted on a C-146A Wolfhound, using a torque wrench March 23, at Duke Field, Florida. Peterson is part of a special training program designed to create maintenance specialists to operate interchangeably in deployed locations, keeping crews smaller and saving the Air Force money and manpower. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jonathan McCallum)

Airman inspects connections

Senior Airman Chris Peterson, 919th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, inspects connections on a new propeller mounted on a C-146A Wolfhound, as part of a special maintenance training program March 23, at Duke Field, Florida. Staff Sgt. Andrew Roberts, 919th SOAMXS engine mechanic, looks on from below as an instructor. The program is designed to create maintenance specialists to operate interchangeably in deployed locations, keeping crews smaller and saving the Air Force money and manpower. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jonathan McCallum)

Airman prepares maintenance tools

Tech. Sgt. Ken White, 919th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, prepares tools and parts needed to install a new propeller on a C-146A Wolfhound, as part of a special maintenance training program March 23, at Duke Field, Florida. The training program is designed to create maintenance specialists to operate interchangeably in deployed locations, keeping crews smaller and saving the Air Force money and manpower. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jonathan McCallum)

Airmen mount new propeller

Reservists with the 919th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, prepare to mount a new propeller on a C-146A Wolfhound, as part of a special maintenance training program March 23, at Duke Field, Florida. The program is designed to create maintenance specialists to operate interchangeably in deployed locations, keeping crews smaller and saving the Air Force money and manpower. The propeller swap gave Reserve maintenance specialists the opportunity for hands-on training and experience. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jonathan McCallum)

Airman prepares for propeller

Staff Sgt. Andrew Roberts, 919th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron engine mechanic, wipes down a part before a new propeller is installed on a C-146A Wolfhound March 23, at Duke Field, Florida. Roberts is part of a special maintenance training program for the 919th SOAMXS giving crew chiefs and avionics technicians the skills to operate interchangeably in small crews at deployed locations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jonathan McCallum)

DUKE FIELD, Fla. -- Accomplishing missions any time, any place, is standard for Duke Field’s Citizen Air Commandos. Airmen with the 919th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron are implementing new training to ensure that standard is met with an innovative program that delivers expert maintenance in smaller crews, at smaller cost to the Air Force.

“The Mech-Tech Initiative is a new program we implemented to make a smaller footprint in the area of responsibility,” said Senior Master Sgt. Paul Greene, 919th SOAMXS flight chief. “We’re creating members that are cross qualified in four maintenance specialties, so we can deploy half the amount of people than we normally would.”

By reducing personnel, crews can operate in small, austere locations with less chance of being noticed by an enemy. One or two expert maintenance technicians instead of four also results in a lower cost associated with each mission.

The squadron designed program gives qualified crew chiefs, avionics specialists, jet propulsion mechanics and electrical/environmental mechanics, knowledge and practical training in each other’s career fields. Combined with the 919th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, the SOAMXS uses hands-on training with aircraft to create well rounded mechanics and technicians, or “mech-techs”. These specialists are then capable of performing a wider range of maintenance tasks. The first Airmen in the program replaced a worn propeller that served maximum flight hours on a C-146A Wolfhound for their first training event.

 “We developed a curriculum for 60 days of hands-on and classroom training,” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Roberts, 919th SOAMXS engine propulsion mechanic and instructor for the course. “During the first month, we’ll accomplish aircraft maintenance needs that meet skill level tasks for all the career fields.”

The Mech-Tech initiative illustrates how the Wolfhound maintenance community is implementing Air Force Special Operations Command’s strategy of equipping human capital to modernize capabilities through innovation and experimentation. The program also supports AFSOC’s commitment to tackling complex challenges and divesting unnecessary overhead in favor of a sustainable and tailorable fighting force. 

Leadership will re-evaluate training at the end of the course and adjust as needed before the second class begins. The goal is to qualify 70 new members a year and provide fully capable “mech-techs” by the end of 2022. This future training initiative will integrate traditional reservists, Air Reserve Technicians and active-duty Airmen from the 592nd SOMXS. 

“We plan to have everyone qualified roughly the same time,” said Greene. “We’re spreading it out so we can ensure a Total Force Integration with our Active-Duty brethren. The goal is for us all to be mechs and techs by the end of it.”