Total Force Integration; 39th and 717th IOS demonstrate Total Force readiness

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Alex Dieguez
  • 960th Cyberspace Wing

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- The 39th and 717th Information Operations Squadrons (IOS) received officials from Air Force Director of Staff, Total Force Integration (AF/DSI) for a Total Force Health Assessment September 9 – 12.

Over the course of the assessment, quantitative and qualitative methods were used to evaluate three primary areas of focus: costs and resources, partnerships and culture, and planning. The framework further segments these areas into primary attributes and sub-attributes for a comprehensive review of mission contribution.

"Assessment sounds a lot like inspection. This was not and did not feel that way,” said Maj. Megan Kell, commander of the 717th Information Operations Squadron. “The transparency of the AF/DSI team, the collaboration with our partner MAJCOMs, ACC and AFRC, as well as the work of the members made this assessment a success."

Majs. Kimberley Shore and Thomas Gemuend took the role of association representatives for the 39th and 717th IOS respectively. For associate organizations, the assessment offers an outside perspective into recommended actions for better integration. The 39th Information Operations Squadron is part of the 67th Cyberspace Wing while the 717th Information Operations Squadron operates under the 960th Cyberspace Wing.

“Every assessment requires an in-depth study on the component and mission set being observed,” said Lt. Col. Matt Stueck, Chief of AF/DSI Assessment Division. “DSI’s mindset is to be as non-interfering as possible during these assessments.”

The headquarters team is comprised of members across all components of the Air Force, representatives from the units’ respective MAJCOMS, and contractor support members with experience in the mission set. The team follows an established framework that consists of record collection, interviews with personnel, and other observations to preserve consistency in aggregate research.

Total Force Integration has existed in some form since the 1940s when the Total Force critical components of Regular Air Force, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve were created. The National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, established by the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, provided 42 recommendations for improving how the Air Force manages its Total Force. Although formerly established in 2014, the modern iteration of Total Force Integration has existed since 2018 as a result of AF/DSI’s improvements to drive policy and resourcing decisions, conduct organizational analysis, and connect the enterprise.

“Every year focuses on a specific core function of the Air Force,” said Stueck. “This year it’s intel and cyber. From what we observed, the Air Force picked wisely when they chose the command team for this association.”

Each assessment concludes with a Site Visit Outbrief which details initial observations, group findings, and lessons learned. Brig. Gen. Max J. Stitzer and Col. Robin Bowman delivered the outbrief for the squadrons and later coined Shore and Gemuend on behalf of Lt. Gen. Kevin B. Schneider. The assessment findings supported the expression from both squadrons that they were fully mission capable and prepared to optimize practices to train cyber experts.

"We got the opportunity to dive into our relationship, identify best practices and challenges, then answer honest questions about them," said Kell. "From there, we are left with recommendations that'll make us even better. We appreciate AF/DSI's purpose in helping us remain accountable. Even more so, we appreciate that our mature and intelligent members work extremely well together.”

Kell promoted to lieutenant colonel on December 28, 2022.