944th gets new maintenance ART recruiter to fill a crucial void

  • Published
  • By 944th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
  • 944th FIghter Wing

Luke’s Reserve Citizen Airmen gained a new maintenance recruiter to help fill ART positions here.

The 944th Maintenance Group placed Master Sgt. Marsi Smith, 944th Fighter Wing, in the critical role of helping interested Airmen become full-time maintenance professionals.

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 J. Johnson, director of logistics, engineering and force protection. “We have 12 recruiters in place, and we are really excited about that."

The 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, dual-status civil service technicians responsible for training and ensuring the Reserve provides combat ready Airman. They also perform Reserve duty on unit training assembly weekends.

“One of our biggest challenges is recruiting people who don’t normally qualify,” said Smith. “There are Traditional Reservists who want to come and work full-time but because they’ve never deployed or never have been on active duty, they don’t make that list when it’s posted on USA Jobs.

“So we are working on making it to where they can come on orders and eventually make that list," she added.

Smith’s predecessor helped establish the recruiting program for the 944th, setting Smith up for success when she was named maintenance ART recruiter.

“I think the addition of the ART recruiter is a very important step to fulfilling our manning commitment to the 56th Fighter Wing,” said Chief Master Sgt. Scott Jongewaard, 944th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron superintendent. “We have roughly 120-plus positions to fill and having a person dedicated to tracking when announcements are out and when people have certifications, takes a tremendous workload off of us to be able to concentrate on maintenance taskings.”

Recruiters bring additional program awareness and advertising, processing and system navigation support, and they work closely with Reserve ISR’s (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 the 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 their 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 that it is 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 through the program Oct. 5 at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.

For information on becoming a maintenance ART, contact your local recruiter or Master Sgt. Smith at marsi.smith@us.af.mil.