HQ ARPC orders writing team thrives using ‘Operation Triple A’

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Laura Fitzmorris
  • Headquarters Air Reserve Personnel Center Public Affairs

The past fiscal year proved challenging for the reserve assignments division, Headquarters Air Reserve Personnel Center, due to budget restraints and low manpower. Despite those challenges, the team was able to bring on augmentees to support their mission and grow their capabilities to end the FY on a positive note.

“A lot of things were on hold this past year and we weren’t able to follow the regular process because of budget,” said Senior Airman Samantha Kiggins, 302nd Force Support Squadron currently serving on full-time orders at ARPC. “But we learned as a team that it’s okay to feel uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable helped us to grow stronger.”

According to Senior Master Sgt. Veronica Pacheco, ARPC reserve assignments division superintendent, there were only four or five permanent party Airmen supporting an Active Guard Reserve population of close to 6,000, at the time.

“We were working on both existing and new platforms, which had its significant challenges, while also training a surge of members on [Reserve Personnel Appropriations] orders,” said Pacheco. “We can’t thank the Reserve community enough for banding together and getting us the RPA support we needed for all the volunteers we have sitting on the floor right now.”

One of those members says the team has been great to work with while learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses both inside and outside of work.

“I think we do a really good job of seeing each other outside of the office and celebrating wins in that way. This team is so awesome,” said Staff Sgt. Cierra Friend, 8th Space Warning Squadron serving on RPA orders at ARPC. “I was maintenance before, I’d never sat at a desk doing this kind of thing. Most people don’t think about what happens up here, they just need their orders and don’t see all the work that goes into creating them. It was very eye-opening to come up here and see the ‘behind the scenes’ work.”

There were many lessons learned through the experience, says Pacheco, and the team found ways to make the process both fun and productive.

“We had to think of questions like ‘how do we operate and forecast going forward to be more proactive versus reactive?’ Well, we streamline training plans, we become more agile, we create a hybrid schedule,” said Pacheco. “The team came up with ‘Operation Triple A’… Operation Agile AGR Assignments. Maj. Tiara Puro, our AGR management branch chief, and her team came up with lines of effort to meet end-strength. Her section has been just absolutely phenomenal and killing it.”

The lines of effort broke down barriers in processes for the team to generate assignments more efficiently and deliver increased readiness to the overall AFR mission, according to Puro.

“The AGR management branch had to revise the way we were doing business. With the support of our incredible leadership team, we rewrote some rules and asked for exceptions when we implemented Operation AAA,” said Puro. “We could not accomplish our mission without the support of our RPA augmentees, made up of not just personnel Airmen but also maintainers, defenders, space operators, medical, ground transportation members and more! Regardless of their ‘personnel’ knowledge, these are the Airmen who get this job done.”

One of Puro’s ideas to motivate the team was to put a colorful ping pong ball in a bowl each time a brand-new AGR was added to the system.

“Honestly, seeing the ping pong balls, I think oh my gosh, that’s how many people we’ve gained!” said Kiggins. “I take pride in being part of this section. This challenge has prepared me for uncertainty, to be flexible with change and open to new experiences. Change isn’t bad, you can be open-minded about uncertainty and being flexible. That helped me grow a lot as a person.”

Kiggins believes that the number one thing that makes her and her teammates exceptional is their ability to be empathetic toward each member that makes an orders request.

“I may be the technician and the member doesn’t understand the process and sometimes I wonder “how do they not know this?” But then I remember being a young Airman and not knowing these things either,” said Kiggins. “I need to empathize because I don’t know what that member is going through. When I work on my tickets, I just want to make sure I take care of them.”

No matter how many people are on the team or get added to it, they all come together as a dynamic phenomenon, says Pacheco.

“Regardless of attrition or what we lose, they always come together. It has been an extreme blessing just to be here and witness the capabilities from all ranks and walks of life,” said Pacheco. “I love ARPC for that. It’s always been like a family environment.”

Puro, acknowledging the difficulties of the previous FY, said she has a sense of pride for her Airmen with their ‘we can do this!’ attitude.

“We will face challenges again,” said Puro. “And I know that what they’ve overcome, and what they’ve shown they can do, has prepared them for anything.”