SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – The Air Force Strategic Master Plan calls for the service to field an agile and inclusive force.
That requires “balancing desired capabilities with available resources within an evolving strategic context” and “leveraging the broadest possible set of human resources to produce the maximum number of options.”
In the fight against the invisible enemy of COVID-19, the ability to adjust and rapidly flex forces has been seen in many organization here at Sheppard AFB, including the Sheppard NCO Academy.
Commandant Chief Master Sgt. Malik Barnes said it was about a week after students were dismissed in mid-March that his staff began requesting to help out in their primary career fields such as public health and logistics. Others sought to help wherever needed. In all, 40 NCOA personnel adapted to the environment and shifted resources to respond to the COVID-19 threat.
He said he has learned in his short time at the NCOA that his staff is professional, mission-oriented and has a “by any means necessary” work ethic. He’s also discovered how resilient the NCOA staff is.
“It didn’t take long for them to bounce back and turn a negative into a positive and finds ways to be productive across the wing,” he said. “I am extremely proud of the staff and the work they are doing in the academy and across Sheppard AFB. They continue to raise the bar each and every day and are a constant reminder of service before self.”
Tech. Sgt. Sara Moreno, one of the newest members of the NCOA instructor team, said once she realized the academy would be shut down for a while, she wanted to return to her roots in public health and help out. She said she assisted with the COVID-19 response plan implemented by the 82nd Medical Group as well as other critical public health functions such as food and facility inspections.
She said being able to step back into the public health arena and apply her 12 years of experience with the Sheppard team has been gratifying. Just as she was able to take her expertise to the fight against COVID-19, she’ll also go back to the academy with some lessons learned.
“I will be able to use this experience to teach my students how we may never know what is going to happen tomorrow, but that will not change the fact we need to look out for those we work with and lead,” she said. “I will also be able to remind them we are Airmen first despite our AFSCs, and we need to be ready to help where and when we can.”
Barnes said he’s not surprised by what he has seen from his staff. He said from his first day at Sheppard, he has seen a group of senior NCOs and NCOs charging ahead and not waiting on something to happen.
“To see instructors balance instructor duties, home schooling kids and giving back to the wing where they could is amazing,” he said. “It shows that the right people were selected for this DSD by their career fields and they have all bought into my philosophy that we are all in this together, and together we will all get through this – together.”