Commander's Action Line

Submissions are anonymous, and you will not receive a direct response. Once addressed by wing leadership, the response to your concern may be posted below, pending subject matter.

Contact Public Affairs for a direct response. 

Recent Submissions

Individual with Base Access

Action Line Question: On behalf of many individuals, I seek the action of the gentleman who walks around the base with an ankle bracelet. Several (by several, I mean a lot) military members, spouses, and families have spotted him and continue to wonder why this is being allowed. Rumors will be rumors, but most of the base is aware of the offense as to why he has the ankle bracelet on. Thus, continue to wonder why an individual who committed an offense against the UCMJ and local law is allowed on base at all, let alone in facilities with women and children AND even during after-hours. Having this individual walk freely does not align with the Air Force's promise to ensure the safety of military members and their families. Regardless of the individual's status, appeal process, or prior service to the Air Force, he currently holds no benefits; therefore, leadership should be ensuring he is not allotted rights to the base and its facilities. Spouses, children, or active-duty members should not have to walk amongst the base feeling uncomfortable or in fear due to the presence of an individual who has committed such a severe crime. 
On a more serious note, a bill was introduced on behalf of this crime to protect spouses, yet GFAFB leadership is not protecting spouses by allowing this individual to walk freely on base. Because this bill was sent so high up in the Senate, I am surprised that leadership allows this person on base. I would hate to see the uncomfortableness, anger, and fear that spouses feel when seeing this individual on base be brought up to the same Senators who aim to protect us. Notifying Senate that GFAFB leadership is not doing their jobs to make families and military members feel safe may need to be done unless there is immediate change. I trust leadership makes a decision that reflects their care for their military members and their families to ensure we feel safe in our community, GFAFB facilities, and homes. V/R, A concerned military member, spouse, civilian, and many others living on GFAFB installation.

Action Line Response: Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about an airman continuing to access base facilities following both court-martial and civilian convictions.  I understand your concerns.  Please allow me to provide some additional information which helps explain why the airman continues to access base facilities and resources.

Following a conviction at court-martial where a punitive discharge (Dismissal, Dishonorable, or Bad Conduct Discharge) is adjudged, an airman remains on active duty while his or her conviction is reviewed on appeal.  After a sentence to confinement is completed, the airman is usually placed on appellate leave.  An airman on appellate leave remains an active duty member of the armed forces and is subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).  The airman receives no pay and allowances for time on appellate leave, but the airman and his or her dependents are entitled to medical care, use of military exchange facilities, commissaries, and other military welfare benefits.  After a conviction has been affirmed and appellate rights are exhausted, the punitive discharge is executed.  At that point, the member becomes a civilian and loses the benefits of an active duty service member.

I understand your discomfort at seeing an airman with an ankle monitoring device and prior convictions on base, but rest assured that I am not impeded from maintaining the health, safety, and good order and discipline of this installation.  If you witness or experience any misconduct, Security Forces and OSI are empowered to respond.  The airman remains subject to the UCMJ, and continuing base privileges may be curtailed for cause.  If you observe misconduct or are threatened by anyone on base, please call the 319th Security Forces Squadron Law Enforcement desk at 747-5351.

Mental Health Support

Action Line Question: With an understanding that there are limitations or restrictions from HAF/DoD/DHA, my answer may not be found at base level, however; I feel like it drives discussion.
When completing required IMR items, it's an annual requirement to complete a Physical Health Assessment (PHA) and Mental Health Assessment (MHA). With Comprehensive Airmen Readiness in mind, and an evolving cultural shift towards emphasizing mental and physical wellness, resources and treatment services are becoming more advertised, though not more readily available.
Similarly, there is an observed difference in mandated care between operational and support personnel. Operational personnel are often required to complete an annual in-person assessment, while support personnel complete an over-the-phone or computer-based questionnaire.
1.) Understanding the critical need for support, and being that the support fields generally outnumber the operational personnel, why is there a perceived greater emphasis placed on operations personnel than their support counterparts?
2.) What current efforts are being explored to increase capabilities at Grand Forks, to prevent appointments for mental health counseling being scheduled 3-4 weeks out, after an individual identifies a personal need?
3.) For those with potential ideas for resource/advocacy alternatives, or for those with a given interest in crisis management, what avenues would you recommend that individuals pursue to help design their ideas for potential leadership discussion/implementation?
Thank you.

Action Line Response: Thank you for the opportunity to discuss this matter especially in light of recent events.  Please know that the health and safety of all of our Griffin Warriors is a prime concern of mine as well as our Medical Group and all wing leadership.  To address your specific concerns: 

1) The members that are required to have their PHA/MHA in-person are 2992 holders and have testing and examination requirements that most of our support members do not require; such as hearing testing, color vision testing, depth perception testing, and others that are driven by the needs of their career field; to ensure they are mission ready.  Where in-person examinations are required, the PHA/MHA are also accomplished in-person at the time of the examination and testing.  It should be noted that even in our support areas some members, such as fire fighters, maintenance workers, and other members who have routinely work with hazardous materials, have requirements for testing that other personnel do not.  Our Public Health and Bio-environmental teams evaluate each work center for hazardous exposures and determine what testing is required and at what frequency.  These evaluations are reassessed on a schedule appropriate for the level of risk of each work center.  Further testing and examination requirements for various 2992 holders are defined in AFI 48-123 and are updated on a periodic basis based upon evidence-based practices. 

2) We are actively working with 16AF, ACC, AFPC, and DHA to upgrade the GS positions that are vacant to attract candidates.  Recruitment and retention bonuses, etc. are being used to help in those efforts.  Additionally, new active duty MH positions have come onto the books and are in the process of getting fills.  Further, the medical group is working with Tricare to get more mental health providers to join the network.  Finally, the wing has requested more Military Family Life Consultant counsellors from ACC/AF to help bring the gap in need for our community.

3) Our agencies are very open to new ideas and as such always welcome discussion whether that be new advocacy alternatives, alternate resources, or training ideas.  There are a few different avenues for someone to get their ideas to leadership for potential implementation, but we’d recommend always starting with proper research first.  Evidence based practices and documented proven success rates help choose and promote programs while also helping us differentiate between awareness and prevention.  Running ideas by your Squadron Resiliency Trainer is a great way talk things over before bringing them to an agency.  Once you believe you have a strongly researched program or resource, you can reach out directly to the Community Support Coordinator (CSC) for more information on how to potentially get that program up and running while personally helping be part of its success!  In part because of our “No Wrong Door” policy, if the CSC believes your program or resources align more fully under FAP, SAPR, A&FR, VPI, or other agencies, you may be referred to discuss opportunities with those specific program managers.  Additionally, you could bring your ideas to the Community Action Team (CAT) meetings.  During this monthly meeting, a diverse group of agencies meet to discuss various issues across base and how to collaborate effectively while working to solve them.  The CAT is always open to new ideas and again you can contact the CSC for meeting time/date/location details.   

Finally, I encourage every Airman to work on comprehensive fitness and resilience by focusing on all the pillars of our life to include physical fitness, faith, mental health, and balancing work and family life as best as possible. Shoulder to Shoulder.

PCS Inquiry 

Action Line Question: I know someone who would like to, and has been trying, to PCS to this base. This person has never heard a word, and the request through Air Force Personnel is about to expire. Anything else this person can do?

Wing Leadership Response: Thank you to taking the time to bring your concern to my attention. It is difficult to give a specific answer to assist the individual your reference in your question without additional details. However, I asked our Force Support Squadron to research your concern. 

If Airmen has a pending request for reassignment and is concerned with processing timelines there are multiple options to check the status of a request.  The member may submit a ticket to the Air Force Personnel Center via myPers to inquire about the status, leverage their chain of command to contact the Airmen’s respective Functional Assignment Manager for assistance, or contact their local Military Personnel Flight (MPF) for assistance. 

Additionally, I highly encourage the member to reach out to their leadership chain, specifically their squadron’s First Sergeant for assistance. Our First Sergeants are the main focal point for assisting Airmen who have reached a block in the road that they cannot navigate and will go above and beyond to help. 

I hope this helps your friend. We are always looking for more talented Airmen to help take the 319th Reconnaissance Wing to new levels and to prepare for the future fight to defend our nation.

CDC Closure Due to COVID

Action Line Question: I have a minor(s) affected by the Covid-19 exposure/closure announced on Wed, Jan 12, 2022. I received an email at work with the CDC notice and within a short amount of time myself/spouse had obtained the minor(s) in care from the facility. While at the facility the front office quickly printed us the notice to take home in fear we may have missed the email since our pickup was prompt. When we went into classroom(s) to obtain minor(s) the instructor(s) had not yet even been notified of the exposures and asked me(us) who?, to which we did not know but their supervision/center had already sent notification to the parents without informing their instructors and we had to reiterate that they request clarification and hopefully we would receive notice of rooms affected. 

I am extremely disappointed in the manner in which this was handled and the protocol for return. Not only were we not notified if minor(s) were in affected rooms by CDC. But there should have been and be contact tracing by Public Health to the CDC. All teachers/instructors and facility members should be tested and confirmed negative on Monday before they can even assess if they are re-opening. Then, the affected rooms and the parents of children within those rooms should be contacted by public health that they were close contact, and then they should go get tested. And/or if the minor(s) are symptomatic then they should also, again, go get tested. 

For families who are unaware if their minor(s) were in a room with direct contact/exposure, who were unaffected, and who continue to be asymptomatic, we not only do not meet current CDC protocol but to require mass testing on Monday morning for the entire population of the CDC is not only improper but it wastes the states already limited resources. Furthermore, there is no direction if the negative test results needs to be rapid test(which is not as accurate) or the 24 hour+ test(which is more accurate) but with mass testing is going to take a longer period than 24 hours to return a group that large. Let alone any other testing they may be conducting within the Grand Forks and surrounding communities. 

To go a step further forcing minor(s) especially, to get an aggressive test when they do not meet the current guidelines to get that test or to be forced to do so to return to paid services is unethical and can create negative medical associations unnecessarily. Also, forcing non exposed families who weren't properly contact traced and asymptomatic kids to go into a large state testing facility and stand in a line/building of those affected and symptomatic just furthers exposure. Please provide proper contact tracing based off instructors/facility members tests, and then notify rooms/families affected and provide clarification on required negative test type required. We would also like clarification on length of reimbursement families will be receiving and for what period of time. Would like to know if they will be reimbursed if the CDC re-opens but state testing results are delayed. 

Also, we have requested more enforced masking policies (which should be required in federal buildings still anyways) as we have seen a large lack of masking within the CDC (at least amongst some of the older classrooms)(even though we are all sick of masking, we are sick of shut downs too). It would be nice if this was increased more. I think there are people who are happy to comply and/or get their children tested but not unnecessarily and are very unhappy with the directives/guidance given this past week. Thank you.

Wing Leadership Response: Thank you to taking the time to bring your concern to my attention. I would like to start by stating that the health, welfare and safety of all of our wing’s Airmen and their families is a top priority. COVID-19 continues to be a dynamic environment with the emergence of new strains and the ever changing guidance and recommendations.

Our Child Development Center Staff and Public Health professionals are in constant contact with each other to ensure the safest and healthiest environment possible for our children. There was a positive COVID-19 staff member in every room of the Child Development Center. The Child Development Center Staff and leadership team immediately began contact tracing with Public Health and it was determined that closing for 1 day (20 Jan 22) and having the children tested on Monday, 24 Jan 22, was the best option.

Parents were contacted immediately after this decision was made. The Child Development Center Staff decided to use the normal pick up time vice having families immediately come to pick up their children. This decision was made to give parents and wing leadership the maximum amount of time to make arrangements for child care due to the closure.

Throughout the weekend the Child Development Center Staff continued to provide updates to parents via the e-mail they provided at registration. Once a decision was made to open the Child Development Center in a limited capacity, each parent were called directly to notify them of the availability of care and their status. I am extremely proud of how our Child Development Center Staff and our families, you, have handled this situation and it is a testament to the flexibility and resiliency of all involved.

I would like to wrap up by reminding everyone that the safety of all of our Airman is in our hands. If you or your child are not feeling well, please stay home and coordinate with your leadership and/or supervisory chain. Only together can we reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses and help our nation and our base return to a new normal free of this pandemic.

Once again, I thank you for bringing me your concern and I highly encourage you to bring any future concerns to my attention as well. For the Child Development Center, please keep in mind you may first bring any future concerns to the Child and Youth Program Flight Leaders.

CDC Closure Due to Weather

Action Line Question: Are we getting reimbursement for the Child Development Center closure on 5 January 2022, when the rest of the base was open and working? We pay good money for the care and closing without an official base closure is absurd.

Wing Leadership Response: Thank you to taking the time to bring your concern to my attention. I would like to start by stating that the health, welfare and safety of all of our wing’s Airmen and their families is a top priority. With that in mind and the visibility created by the storm, we decided to reduce the Child Development Center’s operations to storm essential personnel and children only. 

Each family is provided with a CDC Parent Agreement when they first enroll their children for care. Parents are required to sign and initial the contract within the Parent Agreement. One of the elements reads: “There will be no credit or refunds given for illness, inclement weather, emergency closing, and federal holidays or days parents choose not to bring their child to the program.” Based on the circumstances and the CDC Parent Agreement, we will not be able to reimburse families for the closure of the CDC due to the storm. This is a similar policy to many local civilian childcare facilities as well.

Once again, I thank you for bringing me your concern and I highly encourage you to bring any future concerns to my attention as well. For the CDC, please keep in mind you may first bring any future concerns to the Child and Youth Program Flight Leaders or to the Child Development Center Director.

Base Winter Road Safety

Action Line Question: The roads on base are not safe. The contractors are not doing their job and removing ice from the roads. If safety for your active duty and dependents and all the civilians that work on our base, then something needs to change. There have already been staff falls at the end group and parents falling in the CDC parking lot. No matter how many contracts there are, nothing should come between keeping your people safe. There needs to be salt on the roads. It’s only the first weekend of snow and people are sliding across intersections. I am afraid to drive to and from work. I am afraid to walk my child into the CDC. Please do something about this.

Wing Leadership Response: Thank you for your question.  Our Civil Engineering Squadron manages contractors that provide most of our base snow and ice removal.  Additionally, the Force Support Squadron provides support w/in 50’ of the CDC building itself.  Snow and ice removal is challenging.  Our Airmen, civilians, contractors and dependents safety is extremely important to us.  If you have ideas of how to efficiently remove ice and snow hazards please contact our CES.  The team does their best every year to ensure your safety; but we actively seek better ways to mitigate these threats.

COVID Vaccination Numbers

Action Line Question: Why doesn't the base and DOD report covid vaccination numbers to local state public health? Our local numbers in the county may be better than reported.

Wing Leadership Response: Thank you for your question.  We share this information with Grand Forks Public Health weekly.  Wing and Medical Group Commanders, have a weekly Institutional partners meeting which includes GF Public Health.

Main Gate Missile

Action Line Question: Are you going to fix the missile at the front gate?

Wing Leadership Response: Thank you for your question on the status of our Air Park at the front gate.  The entrance to our installation is one of the more impressive in the Air Force and we take great pride in its presentation while ensuring that the Air Park is safe for our occupants and visitors.  The falling of the top-half of our Minuteman III display is unfortunate and will likely take some time to repair.  Our Grand Forks AFB airmen, while highly trained in the repair of aircraft structures, are not versed in the repairs required to bring this piece of history back to a state worthy of display at our entrance.  The systems on display at our gate are on loan to us from the United States Air Force Museum.  We are coordinating with them on how and where to conduct the repair.  We will likely ship the missile to a United States Air Force Museum facility to facilitate the repair in a safe and accurate manner.  Although undetermined at this time, the timeline could take a year or more to complete.  In the meantime, our airmen are ensuring the remaining portion of the Minuteman III is safe and secure to prevent additional damage while we await the repair.

Leadership Concern

Action Line Question: As a 2nd generation military member, retired USAF/Disabled VET, w/a son now serving making him a 3rd generation military member, as a result of how he was treated today by the leadership of his unit CC I must now say I’m disgusted to be associated with “today’s” military & disregard for seeking the truth & instead being SO quick to blame/punish someone without even conducting at least a minuscule amount of background research. Not to mention not allowing the member to even speak in their defense. Couple that w/being personally attacked verbally & being degraded by using disparaging terms along with cursing the individual while making threats is despicable, degrading of morale, labeling, shameful, & cab be perceived as harassment. Furthermore it’s disgusting that leadership has turned a blind eye & deaf ear to complaints made up the chain to include the IG & no action has been taken against a certain member of this unit that makes life hell for everyone he encounters but because he’s upper management he’s “protected”; part of the “ good ‘Ol boy network” apparently. If anyone cares to contact me regarding this matter please…do so but I do not expect a response simply because I feel that’s the physical makeup apparently of leadership at GFAFB.
Disgruntled Parent of an ADAF GFAFB member

Wing Leadership Response: Thank you for your service and for raising a son who is willing to serve as well.  As far as the incident you described, I am very limited in my response since I do not know who your son is nor any timeline or context of the interaction with his Squadron Commander.  But as a retired Airman, you know that your son has a few options to address his concerns.  One option is to use his chain of command.  If the individual he is having a problem with is in his chain of command (which it appears is the case), then he can take the issue one level higher.  I consulted with our Mission Support Group Commander and he was not contacted by your son.  Other options available to your son include the Inspector General (IG), the Equal Opportunity (EO) office, or to engage with your local Congressional leadership.   

Golf Course Expansion

Action Line Question: #savethegolfcourse Open the Plainsview Golf Course to the Public... Lets move the base perimeter fence so its between the first/second hole and Alert Road, then cut it south to the current fence 100 yards to the west of the 3rd hole. Then change the driveway to come off the Contractor Gate at Hi-way 2. This bit of work would open the course to the public with out having to access GFAFB, and it would be a short drive for the base populous. Even moving the Driving range to the west side of the course between it and Grand Sky could be phase 2 of this project. Now is the time to get estimates for the work and labor. End of year Funds are coming, and now is the time to plan for next years spending. If it would help, look at Rough Rider golf course for Minot AFB. That course is set up just as described above and dose very well compared to the numbers at Plainsview Golf Course over the past few years.

Wing Leadership Response: Thank you for your well thought-out suggestion on how to increase access to Plainsview Golf Course while taking into account our Force Protection requirements.  Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programs are of great importance to our base community and I have asked FSS leadership to take a comprehensive re-look at their MWR portfolio so we can best posture to meet the needs of our Airmen and their families.

Unfortunately, sustaining the Plainsview Golf Course has been a considerable struggle for many years.  Our FSS, MSG, and Wing leadership have worked diligently to solve a myriad of challenges, but fiscal and manning realities mean that we are unable to provide proper maintenance on the course.  While we consider the long-term future of the Plainsview Golf Course, we have opened the course for free play.  So while the experience is not as good as other local courses, we hope the price makes up for it!

Your proposed course of action to place a fence around the course and open it to the public has been assessed multiple times, and most recently in 2018.  We found that the project would cost approximately $1 million.  We do not think this project would be fiscally responsible given our current limited budget and the high importance of other competing projects.  But the good news is there are seven (7) other golf courses within 25 miles of the base so there are plenty of opportunities for our base and local community to hit the links.

Again, thank you for your inputs.  I encourage you to continue providing ideas on how we can make Grand Forks AFB a better place to live and work.

ATV/UTV Operation on Base

Action Line Question: Has GFAFB looked at allowing the base populous to drive registered recreational vehicles on base? The state of North Dakota Allows all ATVs and UTVs to be operated on gravel roads. All resisted ATV's and UTV's can be operated on paved roads with a speed limit of 65MPH or less. There are several bases that also allow operation of ATV's and UTVs on their streets. We see SFS and contractors utilizing ATV's and UTV's every day.

Wing Leadership Response: Thank you for asking the question and allowing us the opportunity to clarify the rules regarding ATVs and UTVs.  Per Grand Forks AFB Instruction (GFAFBI) 31-218, riders can operate privately owned Off Highway/Road Vehicles (OHV) on base as long as they adhere to North Dakota Century Codes 39-24 and 39-29 regarding registration, licensing, safety education courses and equipment.  

However, operation of those vehicles are limited to: 1) the most direct route from their residence to main gate off the installation or 2) the most direct route to refuel at the Shoppette and back to the residence or off the installation.  There is an exception for contractors who are allowed on the roadways in the course of their duties as long as they are compliant with ND Century Code.  An excerpt of the applicable section of GFAFBI 31-218 is included below. (ADDED) Off Highway/Road Vehicles (OHV) are motor vehicles owned, leased, rented or controlled by non-DoD Component entities or individuals primarily designed for off highway use and capable of cross-country travel on land, snow, ice, marsh, swampland, or other natural terrain. Examples of OHVs are Side-by-Side, a Recreational Utility Vehicle (RUV), Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV), snowmobiles, construction-tracked vehicles, forklifts, road graders, and agricultural-type wheeled tractors. (ADDED) OHVs will comply with North Dakota Century Code 39-24 and 39-29 in regards to registration, licensing, safety education courses and equipment. This information can be found at (ADDED) OHVs will not be operated on the roadways within GFAFB property except to take the most direct route from their residence to main gate off the installation or, the most direct route to refuel at the Shoppette and back to the residence or off the installation. EXCEPTION: Contractors are allowed on roadways in the course of their duties as long as they are compliant with ND Century Code.

Shopette Operating Hours

Action Line Question: When is the shopette going to open on Sundays again? We're in HPCON Alpha

Wing Leadership Response: The Express closure on Sundays was not due to the HPCON level.  One of the hardest hit areas for the Exchange during the pandemic has been fuel sales.  In order to offset the losses from fuel sales operating hours were reviewed at the Express. The results showed that on Sundays 97% of sales came from unattended fueling and only 3% from retail sales which does not warrant manning the facility on Sundays. AAFES is reviewing the current data as things open up and will work smartly to move facilities back to pre-COVID operating hours.

Family Day Operating Status

Action Line Question: Will The Youth Center, CDC, and other FSS Facility's be closed on the 16th AF Family days outlined in the 16th AF memorandum dated Jan 28 2021?

Wing Leadership Response: 

Thank you for allowing us to clarify the operating status of our FSS facilities on the 16 AF Family Days. The 319 FSS and it’s activities will follow the 28 Jan 21 16 AF memorandum, but the status of each FSS activity will vary. The 319 FSS will release it’s operational status no later than 2 days prior to the listed Family Day and prior to holidays.  For example, you should expect to see an operating status for FSS facilities no later than 3 Mar 21 in preparation for the 5 Mar 21 Family Day.

The goal of the FSS is an open and transparent operating status to best our Grand Forks Airman and their Families.

Fitness Center Mask Policy

Action Line Question: Regarding recent Covid guidelines, how should the base population respond to mask-wearing in the fitness center? According to the wing memorandum posted in the fitness center, masks are not required when in an intense active fitness routine. According to the FSS webpage that was updated on February 12, 2021, masks are not required when actively working out. However, on February 13th, 2021, a gentleman who identified himself as FSS leadership/staff instructed every individual in the fitness center to put a mask on even when actively lifting weights. The gentleman’s instruction goes against the wing CC’s memorandum and the FSS guidance on their webpage. Not to mention that even FSS leadership cannot medically justify a specific individual’s fitness level and intensity. This issue needs to be formally addressed base-wide and at a level that does not contradict or single out certain fitness activities to include swimming, basketball, weightlifting, walking, etc. Thank you for your time.

Wing Leadership Response: 

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The 319th Force Support Squadron leadership team has coordinated with the 319th Medical Group Public Health Office and reviewed the Department of Defense, and 319the Reconnaissance Wing commander policies and will be publishing fitness center guidance on activities requiring a mask.

The updated guidance will be published and available to all patrons no later than March 1, 2021. FSS will ensure that the official FSS website is updated and reflects current guidance. We kindly request your patience as we work to align and clarify these fast moving policy updates.

Also, please be aware that FSS leadership coordinates with all appropriate agencies, prior to updating any policy or guidance that is enforced. Ultimately, the health and welfare of our Airmen and their families is our priority.

Thank you again for bringing this issue to our attention and allowing us to better serve our Grand Forks family.

Child Development Center Mask Policy

Action Line Question: I am a concerned parent with my child attending the CDC. We received an email today regarding the mandatory mask policy that was implemented. I would like to ask why you are making a child who is 2- 3 years old; some of which still can’t talk, use the restroom on their own, wash their hands on their own (this list can go on forever), be mandated to wear a mask. How is this safe for children? North Dakota is already in the process of lifting the mandatory mask policy due to a major decrease in COVID numbers, so why are you NOW making our children wear masks? A YEAR LATER!!! Have you seen their nasal passages? Their tiny mouths? Please tell me why and how you expect them to breathe properly in these? I understand this is being mandated from higher Air Force and am hoping the high number of concerned parents encourages you to pass a waiver for this base.

Wing Leadership Response: 

Thank you for the thoughtful question and for expressing your concerns with regard to the health and safety of our most precious resource, our children.

As Col Pringle stated in his Facebook Live update on February 25, 2021, COVID mitigation strategies are carefully considered prior to enforcement. Each decision is made at all levels of the Air Force using the resources available and in coordination with medical authorities.

The Department of Defense memo “Use of Masks and Other Public Health Measures”, dated February 4, 2021, requires all individuals on military installations, and all individuals performing official duties on behalf of the DoD from any location other than the individual's home, including outdoor shared spaces, to wear masks in accordance with the most current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.  Follow-on guidance from the Secretary of the Air Force and the Commander of the Air Force Services Center clarified when and where masks should be worn. That guidance directed that children over the age of 2, in the Child and Youth programs (Child Development Center and Youth Programs), are required to wear a mask.

After receiving the guidance, the Child and Youth Programs staff notified parents of children in the program as quickly as possible using multiple communication methods. If any child has a documented health concern, we highly encourage parents to work with our staff to establish an exception to policy. If we notice any negative trends, affecting the safety of the children, the CYP staff and FSS will submit a waiver request to the appropriate approval authority.

Again, thank you for your concern.

Road Salt

Action Line Question: Who is in charge of ensuring that the trucks on base are properly applying sand to the icy roads? Whomever it is should take a drive around base because they're doing a horrible job. The point of sand (or any abrasive material) is to provide traction--it's a safety issue. After driving from town where sand is spread evenly over the streets, and consistently after every snow event (because I see them doing it) is very obvious that the only priority on base is to plow and providing traction seems like an afterthought. There are *maybe* 8 foot stretches of sand, then nothing for 75-100 yards. In some areas on base, there are spots, yes, spots of sand then another stretch of 75-100 yards of nothingness until you get to the next area of sand that could vary from 1-8 feet. I'd like to be able to drive on base without feeling like I'm driving on an ice rink. Thanks.

Wing Leadership Response: 

Thank you for your feedback on the condition of our base roads.  Winter driving safety is very important and we appreciate your interest in improving conditions on base.  

This situation is a bit complex as six different organizations are responsible for snow removal operations on base.  The attached three page slide show lists the organizations responsible and provides their contact info so you may report problem areas.

Our on base snow removal operations are structured differently than those of the city of Grand Forks, Grand Forks County or ND DOT. Grand Forks County is permitted to utilize chemicals that are not authorized on DoD installations.  Additionally, Grand Forks County pre-treats roads with de-icing chemicals preceding a storm, which the Grand Forks AFB contractors do not.  Our Snow Removal contractors utilize sand/aggregate, salt-sand mix, and deicer materials on pavements on base, which are applied at critical locations (such as intersections) and as conditions warrant (during ice storms).  The normal standard for road straightaways on base is packed snow – not bare pavement – so materials are not applied until the straightaways develop into ice.  Unfortunately, DoD budgets do not permit intensive application of traction improving materials to cover the entirety of the base roads for an entire snow season.

All motorists on the installation are encouraged to proceed cautiously (e.g., reduce speed, increase following and stopping distances, indicate turns no less than 100-ft prior to intersection, etc.).  For areas that are particularly troublesome (ice accumulation), please contact the appropriate Snow Hotline for the area having issues.

Housing - Entry Authorizations

Action Line Question: I want to address what I see as a problem with Balfour Beatty. I and a few of our friends, do not have entry authorizations on file with our lease meaning we don't want people in our house unless we are home (excluding emergencies). The problem is our houses are entered anyway and when we try to address the issue no one seems to care very much even though we have minors that are rightfully and lawfully allowed to be home alone, and are now terrified because of someone that came into our house. I thought we had rights? The resident guide clearly states on page 8 "The Community Management Office has an immediate right of entry to the home if, in the community managers sole discretion, emergency conditions are presumed to exist". The times my home has been entered in my absence was not deemed an emergency. Now, on page 13 of the resident guide it states that "if the resident has not provided an authorization to enter, a four-hour window of time will be scheduled as an appointment for the work to be performed. If the resident is not home when the maintenance technician arrives to perform the work, a door hanger note indicating that their attempt to make the repair will be left to notify the resident. The note will have a phone number to call to reschedule the work". Will we ever be in a time when we have the right to say you will not come into my house? I thought for sure with all the hot water facing privatized housing some of this was going to get better, but it doesn't seem so? Any help or advice in holding privatized housing accountable?

Wing Leadership Response: Thank you for elevating your concerns and giving me the opportunity to help resolve them. In short, Balfour Beatty technicians should never enter your home when you’re not there unless they received your permission or emergency conditions are presumed to exist. If this was violated, you can call the BBC Community Manager directly at 701-594-8000, the Military Housing Office at 701- 747-3035, or the Resident Advocate at 701-747-4095 or email The Resident Advocate is a new position that was created to serve as a Wing Liaison between Balfour Beatty and the Military Housing Office to help advocate for safe and healthy homes for military members and their families. Mr. Powell is available and will assist you in resolving your concerns with Balfour Beatty or the Military Housing Office.

You also asked about keeping Balfour Beatty technicians out of your home entirely. I understand your frustration, but Balfour Beatty’s technicians do need to gain access to all homes occasionally to perform routine maintenance and make improvements that are important to the safety and quality of life for your family and future families down the road. But, of course, these services should be coordinated with you as outlined in the Resident Guide.

Giant Voice System

Action Line Question: I live on Langley Ave and since the giant voice update, the volume is absolutely deafening, even indoors with windows locked. It is scaring and waking up my children daily. It is the loudest of any base we have lived at, including one where the speaker was directly in front of our home. Is it possible to adjust the volume down a bit? I understand the need for it and don’t expect not to hear it at all, but the volume is painful even indoors. Thank you.

Wing Leadership Response: Thanks for your feedback on the Giant Voice system.  One of my primary concerns is for the health and welfare of all base residents, and the Giant Voice system plays an important role when it comes to mass notifications of emergency conditions to the base populace.  Based on your feedback, the 319th Communications Squadron muted the playing of Reveille and Taps from the poles located within housing. This preserves emergency mass notification coverage within housing but eliminates the early morning and late night music. The National Anthem will continue playing at 1700 with the normal volume. Once again, thanks for your feedback in helping us to serve our community!

Base Facilities

Action Line Question: On July 28 the DFAC was only accepting meal cards for airmen who live in the dorms because the credit/debit option was down. I understand that they are not currently accepting cash due to COVID restrictions, but the DFAC is the only option on nights/weekends. Shift workers who are not on meal cards can end up going 12-14 hours without anything to eat. In these situations is there something that can be done so we do not get turned away because we are not on meal card? Possibly accepting cash with extra precautions or being able to charge the meal at a later time?

Wing Leadership Response: We recognize and apologize for the impact that the loss of debit/credit card payment capabilities had on many of our Grand Forks AFB teammates.  Please know that our FSS team has diligently worked with the AF Services Center and internet contractor to troubleshoot ongoing connectivity issues with the debit machine and software.  The fix has unfortunately taken more time than expected but we have made significant progress and anticipate the system may be fully operational by the end of this week. Additionally, the DFAC now has approval to accept cash payments in order to mitigate the impact to Airmen if/when future system outages occur. The DFAC team has developed – and will implement  – increased protocols at the registers to protect patrons and cashiers whenever cash payments are made.

Mask Wearing Guidelines

Action Line Question: I have seen great examples by you and the command chief wearing your mask, but still see many incidents of airman both mil and civ not. Also, with school starting it would be in the best interest of the school kids for all GFAFB employees both mil and civ wear mask full time while in their work centers and facilities on base. You could remove mask while at your desk or office, but when you move about your work center you are masked up. This would help protect our school kids as well, keeping our airmen safe during the day will hopefully keep our kids safe as well. We wouldn't be taking the virus home. Please mandate mask, and encourage city leaders to mandate as well. Protect the airman that live in town.

Wing Leadership Response: Thank you very much for your message and for your concern for our community during the coronavirus challenge.  Chief Thuyns and I work hard to model the type of behavior we expect others to uphold.  That said, masks are just one of the practices we use to defend against COVID.  While we adhere to Air Force policy on the use of masks in the workplace, we depend on each Airman’s judgment in their off-duty hours.  It might seem simple to “wear a mask if your duties require you to be within 6 feet of another person.”  However, in practice, we know that some temporary “space bubble incursions” will occur during the course of a normal day.  We will continue to model good behavior and expect others to follow suit.  It is important.  Thanks for your question.

Fitness Assessments

Action Line Question: Is it possible to begin allowing us to complete the run portion of our fitness assessment before the muscular portions (push-ups and sit-ups) ? The governing regulation (AFI 36-2905) says that the muscular portions may be accomplished before or after the 1.5-mile run or 2.0-kilometer walk according to the installation FACs established procedures. I assume our base's procedures currently say that the run must be done last, but can that be adjusted? In a poll of my unit for example, many of us expressed that we would greatly prefer that we accomplish the run portion first. Additionally, when a few of us accomplished mock tests both ways over the course of a few days, we scored better accomplishing the run first and the muscular portions second. Is it possible to give us the choice which to do first? If the problem is the number of PTLs, if we can convince on of our unit PTLs to come provide extra support to the FAC on the day we test then could it be a possibility?

Wing Leadership Response: The Chief and I thank you for your recommendation, really appreciate your research of the AFI and that you ops-checked your idea before submitting it.  As a result of your input our FAC team will now give testers the option of completing the run before or after the muscular portions of the test. Thanks again for your recommendation and keep sending in your ideas.

Road Conditions

Action Line Question: Road conditions are very icy on base, we’ve seen multiple near accidents at multiple intersections, the streets in the neighborhoods are skating rinks and I have seen a few cars slide into or almost into snow banks at the end of J street. Sand and salt needs to be added to the roads before we have serious injuries and damage.

Wing Leadership Response: There’s no question this winter has brought challenges early in the season.  For the month of December, the base received 28” of snow across 17 snow events.  Combine those conditions with the base’s 24 miles of roads and 42 acres of parking, that is a lot of area to clean up after a severe swath of storms.  There is a variance in the snow removal contract to allow them an extra day if the snowfall is more than 12 inches in 12 hours.  The contractor reports their efforts monthly, and for the month of December, they used an entire semi-truck load of sand/salt mix on base while hauling 60 semi-truck loads of snow to the designated snow pile area.  Most of their work is completed at night when the parking lots are empty.  If your parking lot is still in bad shape, you can coordinate with the contractor at (701) 775-1402.  They will give you a time they can get over there, of which your organization will need to relocate cars so they may clear the lot.

Snow-impacted and icy roads are a reality of North Dakota winters, so drivers need to slow down to keep control of their vehicles.  Ice on walkways is a hazard, so treat it as such by paying attention, spreading ice melt on areas within your control and using slip-on ice-trek shoe spikes when necessary. We have a lot of winter left, so make sure you & your vehicles are in the best condition possible to tackle it head on. Take pride in being Warriors of the North!

Base Closures

Action Line Question: Col. Pringle, please consider closing the base due to inclement weather on weekends as you would on weekdays. There are still 24/7 facilities that are manned by civilian airmen as well as military. Civilians should not have to take sick leave or annual leave when weather conditions put their lives at risk while traveling to work.

Wing Leadership Response: Thanks for your question about how we make base closure calls in the event of severe weather.  Our first priority in all cases is the safety and security of all our members and their families, while supporting our important missions on the base.  We truly appreciate all the civilian employees and military members who are working on weekends and night shifts to keep us flying and fighting, and we understand that each weather call is unique.  For instance, when severe weather events occur during normal business hours, we coordinate closely with the local school district to prevent unexpected closures on either side.  For weekend calls, we use largely the same process (minus school coordination), but the decision is always based on safety.  One of the most important factors we consider is the status of the roads, and specifically Highway 2.  Although our defenders closely monitor this route, we also depend on North Dakota’s Department of Transportation to inform us when the road is closed.  If Highway 2 is safe and passable, we expect to be able to operate safely in most conditions, but will always assess the conditions and the circumstances from the perspective of how best to safely accomplish our important missions.  Again, thanks for your question, and please check out the video from Public Affairs which describes this process in a little more detail.  Drive safely!

Gym Equipment

Action Line Question: It appears the cardio equipment upstairs at the fitness center has not been cleaned in a very long time. I spoke with a staff member and they said they are responsible for cleaning and that they have been cleaning the equipment but it's very obvious by the amount of sweat and dust that has accumulated that they have not been cleaned in a long time. Is it possible to get the machines actually cleaned?

Wing Leadership Response: Let me begin by thanking you for bringing this concern to our attention. The FSS team has completed a 100% check of all equipment within the Fitness Center and ensured they are clean and sanitary.  I’m told that the Air Force Services Center requires that the equipment in the fitness center be cleaned once per shift, but with winter’s arrival, FSS has stepped up their spot cleaning checks to twice a day.   Even with these increased checks, our FSS team can’t do this alone.  We need everyone’s assistance to keep the fitness center equipment clean by wiping down the equipment after use with the wipes provided. 

As a frequent customer in that area, I can say that my impression is that I’ve never observed a dirty machine like you describe.  That said, I appreciate that when you saw something, you pointed out to the team for their attention.  I recently stopped by the desk to compliment the staff for keeping the wipes well stocked, and will continue to monitor and report any further concerns.

Again, thank you for your concern and attention.  Together, we can care for the great facilities we have here.  See you at the gym!

Food 2.0

Action Line Question: Dining 2.0, UGH, can we go back to AF Food service, much better when Airman are running the facility? Salad bar has empty bins, advertise different selections of bread for subs but never have a selection, always just wheat, or out of meats. Menu shows one thing but never have it. This is just some samples of the issues. Something needs to change, this isn’t taking care of the Airman!

Wing Leadership Response: Thanks very much for your observations on our food service.  We’ve recently spent some time in the dining facility, and our perceptions have been quite a bit different.  When Chief Thuyns and I dine in the DFAC, we consistently see great salad bar options, and lots of variety in the menu selections.  There have been some recent changes in the inventory management processes in the DFAC, which we hope will decrease the incidence of menu mismatches you describe.  Please keep the observations coming, and let us know if things aren’t getting better.  We’re very proud of the Food 2.0 innovations, and believe that they are definitely in our best interests for the long run, and with feedback such as yours, the experience will continue to improve.  Thanks again.

Road Construction

Action Line Question: We should just demo J Street and half of the roads in base housing if we are never going to fix them properly. Dirt roads would be smoother at this point.

Wing Leadership Response: We greatly appreciate elevating infrastructure needs; the safety of our personnel and their dependents is our top priority.  Our Civil Engineer Squadron tirelessly works to ensure that our facilities and infrastructure are maintained and operating at peak performance.  We are extremely proud of their hard work and professional execution of the recent repaving of our North Taxiway as well as Holzapple- and I-Streets. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the Privatized Housing agreement, the Wing cannot use traditional appropriated funds to repair property owned by Balfour Beatty Communities.  Our Wing owns all land—within the perimeter—West of J-street.  The revenue generated by our residents’ BAH ensures that BBC has sufficient funding to properly operate and maintain our homes and neighborhoods. We always encourage feedback to both the Civil Engineer Squadron (701-747-5210 or as well as to BBC (701-594-8003) to ensure hazardous facilities and surfaces are prioritized appropriately, properly maintained, and repaired when necessary.

Burger King

Action Line Question: When can we see changes at BK in the Xchange? Poor mgt, poor service, not staffed, shake machine has been out for several months! We don't have much on this base to choose from, and would be nice if we had something that offered good service on a regular basis. Thanks You.

Burger King: A new Burger King manager was selected mid-August and shortly after two of the Foreman submitted notice they would be leaving.  We have hired one new Foreman and are working on hiring another plus additional counter staff.  Hiring for food here continues to be a challenge due to the drive from town, especially during winter months.  To meet current needs, AAFES brought in a Foreman on temporary duty from Fort Sam Houston, Texas to assist until they get additional staff and get our new management fully certified according to Burger King standards. The replacement shake machine arrived in July parts issues and AAFES is working on a second replacement.  The Exchange has made great strides diversifying the food selections here on base bringing in Steers, Little Bangkok, and Hunt Brothers Pizza all in the last 18 months.  Other on base dining options include the commissary, dining facility, bowling center and the Northern Lights club.  

Dorms - Barnes Hall Heat

Action Line Question: Hi! I live in the dorms at Barnes hall and it is so cold in my room since the heaters have not been turned units difficult to sleep and as a result my work performance suffers. I understand there is maintenance being done for which I am grateful that we will have improved hvac, but can you please make an effort to have the heaters switched on asap? From my understanding with speaking with the adl, all the heaters for base facilities are turned on at the same time. I just ask for there to be no delay between the completion of the maintenance and the turning on of the heaters. Thank you. Thanks for highlighting this concern about heating in Barnes Hall.

Wing Leadership Response: I’ve asked for an update from 319 CES on the Summer to Winter Transition Plan.  Here’s a summary: Starting on or about 1 Oct each year the HVAC/R section begins transferring the base from comfort cooling mode to heating mode.  This process normally takes the shop approximately 2 weeks to complete since there are 221 facilities having at least one boiler and air handler if not more.  The normal goal is to be complete with the transition by 15 Oct.  Shop personnel will do an eyes-on operational test for each and every boiler/air handling unit to confirm they have properly transferred.  These are industrial systems and are unlike your basic home heating/cooling system which can be changed with a flip of the switch.  Even though over 50% of our heating systems are automatically controlled by our EMCS program, each system still needs to be looked at for proper operation.  The temperature swing during this time period makes it difficult to establish hard turn-on dates so there will inevitably be time where work areas will be too warm or too cold for short periods of time.  Based on mission priorities and CES’s best judgement, the plan is to turn on heaters in the following order: Daycare/Youth Centers Mission Critical Facilities (B607 Command Post, B314 HFGCS) 24 hour Operation Work Facilities (B633 Fire Dept, B339 SFS, B542 69 RG, etc.) Dormitories and Lodging Customer related facilities (BX, Commissary, Dining Facility, Fitness Center, AFRC, etc.) Work Centers UPDATE:  As of 7 October, 319 CES reports that all dormitories and lodging are in their winter configuration.  Many thanks to the hard-working HVAC teams that destroyed our expectations to take care of our airmen as winter weather approaches. Winter is just about here!  Be ready!



Notes from the Top