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    Team JSTARS women take to the skies to honor Women’s History Month

    Team JSTARS women take to the skies to honor Women's History Month

    Photo By Senior Master Sgt. Roger Parsons | Female aircrew and support members from the U.S. Air Force 116th Air Control Wing,...... read more read more



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Nancy Goldberger 

    116th Air Control Wing Public Affairs

    An E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft took off on a routine training mission March 21 from Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, with a Team JSTARS manning of more than 50 percent females, up from the typical 25 percent.

    Team JSTARS, consisting of the Georgia Air National Guard’s 116th Air Control Wing, active duty 461st Air Control Wing and Army JSTARS, provides manned joint airborne command and control, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and combat support forces to meet state and national objectives.

    The team intentionally assembled as many females as were available for the mission in honor of Women’s History Month 2019, according to Maj. Vanessa Cox, chief of wing scheduling with the 116th Operations Group.

    A solid mix of gender, ethnicity and other backgrounds is foundational to the Air Force’s concepts of diversity and inclusion.

    “It’s not simply about making it more equal for women,” said Capt. Alison Cruise, an air weapons officer on the mission and JSTARS flying instructor with the 330th Combat Training Squadron. “It’s about making the force the most lethal by taking on the most competent, motivated individuals regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or anything else.”

    By that token, there is still opportunity for greater inclusion.

    “There’s still so much room to grow,” Cruise said, reflecting on what importance this flight may hold. “We become better every time we take a step towards inclusion and increased opportunity for diversity at all ranks.”

    With a shift in personalities and perspectives in an organization, culture shifts subsequently.

    “There have been, at times, diminutive comments towards women,” said Cox. “They seem to be ingrained in the culture, much more an unconscious sentiment than an intentional one.”

    “That is not acceptable in my Air Force,” Cox said. “My Air Force is a professional organization composed of diverse members who thrive in a culture of integrity and respect.”

    The culture is a lot different now than it was 15 years ago, noted Lt. Col. Karena Zaloudek, a mission crew commander on the flight and chief of standardization and evaluation with the 461st Operations Group. Zaloudek has been in the JSTARS community for more than 15 years. Over the last five years specifically, she’s noted an increase in female commanders.

    “There are more women in leadership positions, which has enforced a culture of teamwork between men and women,” Zaloudek said. “Those women who laid the foundation for us have given us the opportunity to serve here at Robins in command and on the aircraft.”

    Women didn’t do it alone. It took the support of their male counterparts.

    “I see a lot of respect from the men around here,” Zaloudek said. “The men here also have a very important role to the women they serve with. Women add diversity; with that said, there are a lot of men who helped get us to this point.”



    Date Taken: 03.29.2019
    Date Posted: 04.07.2019 15:53
    Story ID: 316489

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