Deployed captain leaves lasting manpower footprint

Capt. Jody Palmer, chief of the organization section at Air Education and Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, recently returned from Southwest Asia where he served as chief of manpower and organization at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing. (Courtesy photo)

Capt. Jody Palmer, chief of the organization section at Air Education and Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, recently returned from Southwest Asia where he served as chief of manpower and organization at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing. (Courtesy photo)

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- When Capt. Jody Palmer arrived at his deployment destination in Southwest Asia, his initial goal was to learn his job quickly, so there would be no drop off in his unit's mission.

Earlier this year, he temporarily put aside his duties as a flight commander at the Air Force Manpower Agency's 1st Manpower Requirements Squadron and took over as the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing's chief of manpower and organization for 127 days.

"Initially, my thought was just to get spun up and then keep the manpower mission going along as before," said Captain Palmer. "However, once I got situated, I saw the opportunities there to make a real difference and to make lasting contributions. I decided I wanted to do more than just maintain."

It didn't take long for the captain to make his mark on the largest, most diverse expeditionary wing in the Air Force.

During his first two weeks at the helm, Captain Palmer packaged a proposal to the Air Staff aimed at converting 597 rotational requirements to permanent party positions within the 379th AEW.

"One of the most rewarding aspects of working in a deployed environment is that you see the results of your efforts pretty quickly," he said. "It was exciting to be able to work the requirements pieces and then later see actual bodies show up to fill those billets - that rarely happens stateside."

Before the dust could settle on that project, Captain Palmer was called upon to conduct a massive manpower study associated with the opening of the installation's multi-million dollar Blatchford-Preston Complex, a new compound complete with dormitory-style lodging. He scrutinized more than 8,000 requirements and coordinated with wing organizations and tenant units to develop the bed-down plan for the new facility. Former Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne cut the ribbon during the BPC's grand opening.

"Master Sgt. James Norton and I -- basically functioning as a two-person shop - put in 15-hour days to make that work and meet those suspenses," Captain Palmer said. "Working expeditionary projects like that and being in the thick of things, involves many moving pieces and is therefore more demanding than working normal manpower standards."

He later helped restructure the wing's manpower and organization office from a wing staff agency to a branch and led the first-ever MO realignment under an expeditionary squadron.

His streamlining actions didn't stop there. He helped re-organize the 379th AEW's portion of the Air Force Central Command's communications restructuring, laid the foundation for the 379th AEW restructure plan, and processed countless manpower authorization change requests to help shape the expeditionary mission.

Earlier this month, Captain Palmer took over duties as chief of the organization section at Air Education and Training Command, Randolph AFB, Texas.

"Your deployment is what you make of it," said Captain Palmer, who was "coined" by the wing commander before his departure back to AFMA. "Sure, the separation was rough. Even though I missed my wife and two children while deployed, I didn't have a lot of downtime to think about it. Now that I've had a little time to reflect, I'm thinking, 'Wow, that was pretty cool.' It was definitely the highlight of my career."

Currently, about 240 manpower and personnel Airmen are deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.