ACC commander gives green light to Sword Athena pilot app Child Development Center > Air Combat Command > News
JOINT BASE-LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. —
Members of Air Combat Command’s Sword Athena met last week to present recommendations to ACC Commander Gen. Mark Kelly aimed at breaking down barriers to women- and family-centered readiness.
Over the past seven weeks, volunteers from across the ACC crowd sourced more than 100 concerns from fellow Airmen, consolidated those concerns across six mission area task forces, and held a five-day topic development workshop days to prepare their proposals.
The working groups focused on issues related to women’s adjustment, military life, mental health, pregnancy, parenthood, and quality of life for Air Force families.
Kelly gave the parenting task force the go-ahead to start a pilot program at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for a family communication app to be used at the base’s child development centers. This app would allow families to keep in touch with their child’s teachers and receive updates throughout the day.
“Child care is a fundamental Air Force institution that empowers resilient and ready combatants,” said Capt. Jill Cadieux, parenting task force lead. “CDC and DoD members depend on immediate and accessible communication to meet mission-related demands.”
The working group will collect data related to funding, sustainment, and manpower requirements for the application over the next six months, culminating in a proof-of-concept debriefing in October. As directed by ACC staff, the team will ensure that privacy safeguards are in place to protect families and teachers using the program. If the pilot program is successful, the team hopes that a similar program could eventually be instituted at the ACC and Air Force CDCs.
The Female Fitment Task Force has received praise from Kelly for staying focused on company-wide issues around access to gear and uniforms designed for women. Among other proposals, the team requested that female bladder relief instruction be added to formal unit training programs and that the ACC advocate for the Department of the Air Force to appoint members dedicated to the continuous improvement of women’s uniforms and equipment.
“Expecting the minority of a unit to constantly fight back to obtain the necessary equipment to safely execute the mission has not yet led us to a permanent solution,” Capt Erin Fullam said. , Head of the Women’s Fit Working Group. “It’s time for the Air Force to lead this conversation and be the voice advocating for solutions.”
Some of the other areas of effort presented to Kelly include changes in guidance to provide Airmen with time off to manage personal readiness requirements before deployments, efforts to increase privacy for Airmen early in their pregnancy, and the creation of a Tiger Team that would establish a recognition program for schools that best support military families. The team also proposed increasing publicity of mental health resources located on the ACC deck, which is a one-stop-shop for Airmen and families seeking help agencies.
According to Col Danielle Willis, lead mentor for Sword Athena 2022, while there is still work to be done, she is optimistic that barriers to service will be reduced.
“Our hope is that in the next few years, as we continue the journey of Sword Athena, it’s not so much about breaking down the barriers that we identify after designing a system, but designing a system that incorporates the perspective of all our Airmen,” she said.