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Cross-utilization training solving problems for McChord Airmen

Staff Sgt. Dustin Michel trains Tech. Sgt. Patrick Starkey on C-17 Globemaster III hydraulics maintenance Jan. 12, 2015, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Michel is a 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron hydraulics specialist and Starkey is a 62nd AMXS crew chief.   Starkey recently completed a four week cross-utilization training course to supplement low manning numbers in the 62 AMXS hydraulics section. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Tim Chacon)

Staff Sgt. Dustin Michel trains Tech. Sgt. Patrick Starkey on C-17 Globemaster III hydraulics maintenance Jan. 12, 2015, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Michel is a 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron hydraulics specialist and Starkey is a 62nd AMXS crew chief. Starkey recently completed a four week cross-utilization training course to supplement low manning numbers in the 62 AMXS hydraulics section. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Tim Chacon)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AFNS) -- After a year of cuts in both manning and fiscal resources, the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron here had to develop a creative way to keep the mission going strong by educating Airmen in other Air Force specialty codes (AFSCs) to assist the currently undermanned aircraft hydraulics section.

In December, four crew chiefs assigned to the 62nd AMXS graduated a month-long course, certifying the Airmen in all hydraulic 5-level core tasks. The course was taught by Air Education and Training Command through a field training detachment at McChord Field. These crew chiefs will be utilized when necessary in both AFSCs to help with manning shortages.

"The process is called cross-utilization training,“ said Chief Master Sgt. Timothy Kellner, the 62nd AMXS superintendent. “AFSCs are identified with surplus manning and Airmen are trained into similar specialties. We are increasing our capabilities as our man power decreases."

The hydraulics section of the 62nd AMXS was the most undermanned section in the squadron and was the first to receive the help.

"We have lost 10 people in the past year -- not just with C-17 experience, but flightline experience in general," said Tech. Sgt. Daniel Rosenberg, the 62nd AMXS element lead. "We had to get creative and think outside the box to increase our capacity."

Each of the cross trainees were hand-selected by their leadership based not only on availability, but also xpre-existing knowledge and reliability.

Tech. Sgt. Patrick Starkey, a 62nd AMXS crew chief, is one of the first four Airmen to complete the training.

"I'm happy to help,” Starkey said. “Where I come from, if there is work to be done, you do it. It doesn't matter whose job it is. Not only can I help them with tasks, but if I discover a hydraulics issue during my normal (crew chiefs) checks, I can troubleshoot it on my own and determine if it is a problem or not."

As with any new process, it takes time to truly see the results and understand how it's going to work.

"A lot of the tasks crew chiefs and hydraulics do are similar, so it's not a hard transition," said Staff Sgt. Dustin Michel, a 62nd AMXS hydraulics specialist. "The process is going well. If we keep it going, it will get even better as we go."

The 62nd AMXS plans to train four more Airmen in 2015, and will start to look at what other AFSCs can benefit from the cross utilization.

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