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Information managers support multiple functions

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- There is an Air Force career field that creates a sort of chameleon Airman, one who can move into any squadron and blend in with uncanny ease. 

Information managers work in a multitude of squadrons throughout their careers as both client support administrators and administrative assistants. 

"Going to different units gives you a broader picture of the Air Force and its mission," said Senior Airman Kevin Pender, 51st Mission Support Group commander's support staff. "You can see how much the Air Force is involved in the world. We don't just drop bombs or defend the base; we help out around the world with things that you would never see on the news." 

With "Jeopardy knowledge" gained from 16 years working in a variety of missions including aircraft maintenance, avionics and logistics readiness, Tech. Sgt. Patricia Newton also learned that certain squadrons do more than some Airmen think. 

"The organization that has taught me the most is the Services Squadron," said Sergeant Newton, NCO in charge of information management for the 51st SVS. "Most non-Services people will tell you that before they started working (for the unit) they had no idea the scope of responsibility within the (51st) SVS." 

While they get to learn the ins and outs of different career fields, the particular duties of information managers are hard to explain because they change from unit to unit. 

"We have so many jobs we can do from unit to unit, such as (Freedom of Information Act) manager, CSA, tracking suspenses ...," said Airman Pender. "It all depends on the unit you go to and what kind of operations they have." 

The scope of their responsibilities is not limited to supporting Air Force personnel. Information managers at home and abroad support other branches of the military as well. In fact, Sergeant Newton was offered an opportunity to take a position with the Army. 

"When I was leaving Kadena and returning to the States, Fort Bragg was one of my options," she said, referring to the Army post in North Carolina. "I did not choose that job, but it goes to show how diverse our career field is and how we support just about everyone in some way." 

That support also extends to deployed locations. While deployed to Al Udeid Air Base in 2001, Sergeant Newton was to provide administrative support for the Services Squadron. However, she also worked as a mail clerk and, by the end of her tour, a travel clerk. 

"It was a long deployment and challenging at the time," said Sergeant Newton, "but looking back I realized how much I learned and how much fun I had." 

In a career field that requires Airmen to fit into myriad functions, learning is the only constant.