The airmen who maintain the Air Force’s EC-135 Rivet Joint for operations in Southwest Asia are deployed far longer and far more often than most other airmen—they are part of the group known as high demand/low density. The service’s few RC-135s must fly 24/7/365. “We are considered [air expeditionary force] enablers, meaning we do not follow the 120 day, 15-month [AEF] cycle; … we deploy all the time,” Capt. Lance Bartlett, OIC for the 55th Aircraft Maintenance Unit in SWA, told the Desert Eagle. (Bartlett is on his third SWA deployment, but TSgt. Daniel Green, an RC-135 instrument and flight control craftsman, is on his 18th deployment to the desert since 1993.) Bartlett says the 55th AMU managed to maintain an 82 percent mission capable rate over fiscal 2006, which betters the standard by eight percent—no small feat with 1960s vintage aircraft.
The Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness revised the Defense Department’s COVID-19 guidelines. The new rules clarify what’s meant by being “up to date” on vaccinations and when personnel must wear masks in vehicles, among other changes.