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NEWS | March 4, 2010

802nd MSG information forum enables collaboration

By Mike Joseph 502nd Air Base Wing OL-A Public Affairs

The 802nd Mission Support Group is using a new approach to communicate directly with squadron-level leaders.

The first monthly commanders' information forum was held Feb. 25 at the Bob Hope Performing Arts Theater. Though designed to keep Lackland squadron commanders, first sergeants and chief master sergeants informed about policy, service delivery and support changes at the installation and Air Force levels, the forum is open to the entire Lackland community.

Information on upcoming events and base activities are included in the briefings, which will be held the fourth Thursday each month, 4:30-6 p.m., at the Bob Hope Theater.

"I was looking at how the landscape was going to change here with joint basing," said Col. Patrick Fogarty, 802nd MSG commander. "Fort Sam Houston and a lot of the Army posts have been doing these forums, getting the commanders together once a month and talking to them directly. I thought it was a really good idea."

Colonel Fogarty said the forum was modeled after those held at Fort Sam Houston and has been in the planning stages for several months. The development process also included discussions with Fort Sam Houston leaders about their program.

He said the 802nd MSG has been heavily focused on developing a strong communication plan over the last few months.

"After Joint Base San Antonio stood up, I think people needed to feel like (there was two-way communication) so they didn't feel on their own or like leadership wasn't including them in the process," said Colonel Fogarty.

The forum is not the only new method being used to disseminate information around base. Lackland Salsa is a direct communication e-mail sent to base e-mail addresses. The e-mail contains announcements, events and activities, and goes out Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The goal is to make it a daily service.

Colonel Fogarty also said the 802nd MSG Web site would link to the Sharepoint portal, an important source of briefings and other information. Additionally, improvements are being made to the events calendar.

Social networks Facebook and Twitter are other options still in the discussion stage.

"We have so many family programs, Facebook and Twitter would be a great way to tell (spouses and family members) what's going on," the commander said.

He said medical units might be able to use the same forums, such as the commanders' information forum, daily Salsa or, if implemented, one of the social networks as Lackland reaches out to its large family and retiree populations.

"Family members really don't know the difference between mission support and medical support," said Colonel Fogarty. "It's just support to them, so we're trying to merge those two and work a lot better with the (59th Medical Wing) on medical support.

"We're still kicking around a few more ideas," he added. "We'll see what takes off and what works."