JSTARS crew training maximizes Airmen versatility Published Jan. 16, 2019 By Jonathan Bell Robins Air Force Base Public Affairs ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- A group of Team JSTARS Airmen at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, is going through training to do more for the Air Force. Aircrews for the E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System are going through Cross-Utilization Training. Ten active duty avionics specialists are training on how to be crew chiefs, and three crew chiefs are going through avionics CUT training. Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Thomas, 461st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics flight chief, was asked how can we utilize and get the most out of our people. “We’re strategically maximizing our flexibility,” he answered. The goal of the training is to reduce the Air Force’s deployed footprint and essentially do more with less. Staff Sgt. William Reed, 461st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron instrument flight controls specialist, says the crew chief training is broadening his experience in and around the aircraft. “It’s more interactive with the fight crew,” he said. “Usually I’m just dealing with the pilots, but now I get to work with more people.” “Now I’m even more productive,” Reed added. “I’m learning more stuff, and now I’m more versatile.” As a commander, Col. John Verhage, 116th Air Control Wing vice commander, said the CUT program is beneficial to the unit as a whole. “The efficiencies are gained when you’re able to take the airplane off-station or to a training event and have these airmen trained as both a specialist and a crew chief.” Verhage added that, as a pilot, there’s no difference for him between a crew chief and a specialist cross-trained as a crew chief. “It’s trusting and ensuring that their training is done properly and documented, and if there are no deficiencies…we’re good,” he said. Thomas believes this training not only increases the Airmen’s knowledge, it makes them more competitive within the Air Force as a whole. “Whether they’re here or if they move on to another duty station, they’ll always have this knowledge with them. They’re not only able to do they’re assigned jobs well, they’re able to step outside those normal lanes and do other things as well,” Thomas said.