JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – Cancelled conferences, travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic aren’t getting in the way of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center’s global mission.
Reducing or limiting installation support as the center adjusts to a new normal was never an option, said Col. Seth Frank, deputy director of the AFIMSC Installation Support Directorate.
When the pandemic began limiting movement and placing challenges on the entire Air Force, AFIMSC started leveraging technology – including Department of Defense and commercial web-based tools, social media and other platforms – to keep delivering support across the installation and mission support portfolio and helping installations maintain readiness.
“Despite the monumental challenge presented by the coronavirus, it’s absolutely vital that the Air Force maintain its mission capabilities to support the national defense,” Frank said.
Across the center, leaders and subject matter experts are hosting regular video and teleconferences with customers and stakeholders at installations and major commands. AFIMSC also held live town halls via the Defense Collaboration Services platform to answer questions from mission support group leaders and address COVID-19 impacts to their installations, from Airmen and family services and privatized housing to deployment and expeditionary training to resourcing.
“It is imperative that we provide uninterrupted support services to enable Airmen to do their jobs in a safe and clean environment,” Frank added.
AFIMSC is also using technology to keep remediation efforts on environmental work on track.
“We recognize our responsibility to the community, public health and the environment goes on,” said Dr. Stephen Termaath, the director of the Base Realignment and Closure Program at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center.
“The Air Force cancelled a restoration advisory board meeting in Michigan due to travel and meeting restrictions, but our team was able to quickly work with local regulators and (plan) a virtual meeting; something never before attempted for an Air Force RAB meeting,” he said.
That meeting is scheduled to take place April 15.
In addition to installation and mission readiness, the center is helping Airmen maintain personal readiness. For example, while many Air Force fitness centers closed, Wellbeats, a company contracted by the Air Force Services Center, is providing virtual workouts free of charge until April 30. Airmen can access the workouts by downloading the Wellbeats app and registering with code 479b0f59.
“Now, more than ever, our programs and services are vital to ensure the resiliency of our Air and Space Force and our families,” said Col. Donna Turner, AFSVC commander. “Innovative and outside the box opportunities will arise as we continue to find ways to deliver much needed Services capabilities.”
And as the majority of workforce shifted to telework, AFIMSC leaders have turned to social media to communicate with employees, customers and stakeholders. Both AFIMSC Commander Maj. Gen. Tom Wilcox and Air Force Installation Contracting Center Commander Brig. Gen. Alice Trevino hosted Facebook live events over the past couple weeks, answering questions, addressing concerns related to operations during the coronavirus pandemic and promising to use technology to stay connected.
“We’ve never gone through this before,” Wilcox told listeners. “We’re going to learn some more things as we go through this … and I think we’re going to get into a better battle rhythm as we telework.”
Across AFIMSC, leaders remain focused on staying ahead of the challenges facing bases and providing the right amount of resources and tools to best support and resolve issues. Getting creative with how the center communicates keeps information flowing and the mission on track.
“Communication is key as we balance internal, external, and locality guidance,” Wilcox said. “Together we can all stay informed and ensure Air Force lethality when called.”