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    Sword Athena: A Year of Progress at Beale

    Sword Athena: A Year of Progress at Beale

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Frederick Brown | Women from across the 9th Reconnaissance Wing pose for a group photo in front of a U-2...... read more read more



    Story by Senior Airman Alexis Pentzer 

    9th Reconnaissance Wing

    BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – In 2020, Air Combat Command (ACC) created a new organization to combat a gap in Air Force policies that have impacted women since they have been able to serve.

    SWORD ATHENA was established in 2020 and is composed of Airmen across ACC with the goal to identify, tackle, and propose solutions to female and family centric barriers to readiness.

    Beale’s local team was founded in February 2023 in order to combat some of the clear disadvantages that service women and families experience due to policy and guidance oversight. The team’s long term goals are to create an equitable working environment for women and families. There are clear gaps in policies that pertain to the overall force that, unintentionally, may not account for women, such as revisions of dress and appearance standards. The goal is to shrink that gap, via proactive measures, as much as possible and make it easier for the total force to get after the fight.

    “I wanted to build a team at Beale where members are empowered to voice their concerns and take action when something doesn't seem right,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Diana Kane, 9th Reconnaissance Wing plans and programs deputy director. “We all have the power to make a difference and highlight barriers to service to our leadership. It may take some bravery, hard work and time to see change happen but it's definitely worth it.”

    ACC uses the Weapons Tactics Conference Mission Area Working Group (MAWG) model to focus on barriers across the Combat Air Forces (CAF) in an approximately 2-month sprint effort. The Beale team does this by working together to develop resolutions for their lines of effort and present them to leadership in order to garner the support needed to make their goals a reality. This year's MAWGs are: Workplace and Training; Family Readiness; Single Airmen and Joint Spouse Issues; Promoting Psychological Safety and Mental Health.

    Over the past year, the ACC SWORD ATHENA team at Beale has made significant headway in developing efforts on base such as lactation room mapping, expectant mothers’ parking, maternal uniform donations and more. More projects are currently underway that pertain to women’s health, child care and women's mentoring.

    “There are so many female related challenges that arise when you work in a male-dominated career field like communications that females just assume what they’re dealing with is normal or they don’t want to rock the boat by saying something,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Michelle French, 9th Communications Squadron special missions officer in charge. “The great thing about SWORD ATHENA is you have a wing recognized organization that is focused on fixing inequalities through policy development and correction and you can make connections with people from other career fields that may be able to sanity check what you’re experiencing and encourage you to speak up or help fix it for people that may be in your same situation in the future.”

    The pre- and postpartum concerns are visible areas where the DAF Women’s Initiative Team and ACC SWORD ATHENA have focused in previous years with high levels of success. The creation of Department of the Air Force Instruction (DAFI) 36-3013, Lactation Rooms and Breast Milk Storage for Nursing Mothers in August 2021 was in part a result of the August 2020 ACC Memorandum for Record (MFR) detailing a normalization of support for these members. The recent addition of inspections for lactation rooms was due to an ACC emphasis item brought about by the ACC SWORD ATHENA Workplace and Training MAWG from 2023.

    Creating a local version of SWORD ATHENA/Women’s Initiative Team has provided a venue for issues that may go unnoticed otherwise to the forefront. The goal of the Beale SWORD ATHENA team is to empower members to address concerns at the lowest level. Through creating and implementing solutions at the wing level, the best practices can push up to the CAF. The Beale team is just over a year old and is making positive progress.

    Beale AFB has 13 lactation rooms across 12 squadrons. This resource supports nursing mothers by providing accessible information to available facilities for members performing duties away from their normal office. This project also highlighted the need for a lactation room in certain facilities and an appropriate space to meet the needs of their personnel.

    “The best part has been the people,” Kane said. “It's great meeting men and women from all over base to make change. We have members from most squadrons on base to include our Total Force Integration partners and civilians. Through ACC SWORD ATHENA, I've been able to share our local projects and collaborate with representatives across ACC to better support our families and female population.”


    Date Taken: 04.05.2024
    Date Posted: 04.05.2024 15:47
    Story ID: 467935

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