Recruiting Services adds people to address maintenance shortage

Tech Sgt. Anthony White, an in-service recruiter, talks to a potential recruit during an event at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. The Air Force Reserve Command Recruiting Service's 12 new air reserve technician recruiters, as well as in-service recruiters like White, are working to address the shortage of full-time ART aircraft maintainers. (Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

Tech Sgt. Anthony White, an in-service recruiter, talks to a potential recruit during an event at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. The Air Force Reserve Command Recruiting Service's 12 new air reserve technician recruiters, as well as in-service recruiters like White, are working to address the shortage of full-time ART aircraft maintainers. (Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

Citizen Airman/Dec. 2017 -- In a move designed to increase the number of maintenance air reserve technicians, the Air Force Reserve Command Recruiting Service and Directorate of Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection, known as A4, have teamed up to create a group of recruiters dedicated to the ART mission.

"Maintenance manning is the biggest issue we face right now in the A4 community of Air Force Reserve Command,” said Maj. Gen. Kathryn "KJ" Johnson, director of logistics, engineering and force protection. “We have 12 recruiters in place, and we are really excited about that."

The new maintenance ART recruiters are located at Beale Air Force Base, California; Barksdale AFB, Louisiana; Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona; Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia; Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas; Hill AFB, Utah; Homestead ARB, Florida; Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas; Keesler AFB, Mississippi; Luke AFB, Arizona; March ARB, California; and Nellis AFB, Nevada. Locations were selected based on the volume of maintenance ART vacancies in growing and mature missions critical to filling combatant commander requirements.

ARTs are full-time civil service employees who also serve in a dual status as traditional Reservists and perform their military duty on unit training assembly weekends. They are responsible for training and ensuring the Reserve provides combat-ready Reserve Citizen Airman.

“This is a three-year pilot program initiated to have a positive impact on the ART hiring process and help improve low ART manning levels, specifically in the ART maintenance units,” said Master Sgt. Tracey Barry, AFRC Recruiting Service ART recruiting program manager. “The intent is for recruiter involvement to increase ART program awareness, promote ART opportunities, and provide application support and guidance, as well as help expedite the process.”

One of the first steps the Recruiting Service took with the ART recruiters was to get them familiar with their new units.

“Each ART recruiter scheduled a meet-and-greet session during their October UTA in order to establish strong relationships across the wing, better broadcast who they are and what they bring to the table, and get information out to their wing, units and Reservists about themselves and available ART opportunities,” Barry said.

She added that recruiters bring additional program awareness and advertising, processing and system navigation support, and they work closely with Reserve in-service recruiters worldwide to ensure maximum exposure and contact with fully qualified members leaving active duty.

From the A4 standpoint, building up the maintenance ART program is a priority, since there are currently more than 1,400 vacancies nationwide. The current average full-time manning is approximately 77 percent, as opposed to 82 percent in 2012.

“In the past, we relied heavily on prior-service maintainers, those leaving active duty who wanted to continue to serve. However, we just aren’t seeing the same numbers as in the past,” said Lt. Col. Dan Posch, AFRC A4 chief of the Maintenance Management Branch. “We also build the bench from the non-prior service side. Our reliance on non-prior service (recruits) is continually increasing; we are up to approximately 38 percent new accessions. While active duty is growing and trying to increase its end strength, we are doing the same thing. So we are all fighting and trying to pull from the same pool of people.”

Posch said part of the problem is it’s a buyer’s market right now. AFRC is competing for maintenance people not only with active duty, but also with private industry, government contractors and other government agencies.

While A4 initiated the request for ART recruiters, the Recruiting Service has been an eager and willing partner to get the job done.

“The Recruiting Service is just as passionate about this as we are,” Posch said. “We thank them for taking on this initiative because we know it’s not easy. It’s a change, but it’s the right change. We wouldn’t be able to promote this program without the Recruiting Service. That’s what they are about, and we really appreciate that.”

The new ART recruiter program is already paying dividends, as the first technician was hired Oct. 5 at Luke AFB.

For information on becoming a maintenance ART, contact your local recruiter or Barry at tracey.barry@us.af.mil.

(Babin is noncommissioned officer in charge of public affairs for the Recruiting Service at Robins AFB, Georgia.)