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Enlisted Airmen are the gatekeepers for Hill’s fighter squadrons

A photo of Airman Ashley Arbelo, a Squadron Aviation Resource Manager, working at the operations desk while pilots are flying sorties at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

Airman Ashley Arbelo, a Squadron Aviation Resource Manager, works at the operations desk while pilots are flying sorties at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The operations desk is a hub for information for pre and in-flight information. SARMS are enlisted Airmen who are collectors and gatekeepers of a vast amount of information that helps track pilot safety and health for aircrews in flying units. (U.S. Air Force photo by Micah Garbarino)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah --

Just like tracking maintenance on an F-35 is critical to flying safety, so is tracking and documenting the performance of the “human weapon system” – pilots – and that job belongs to Squadron Aviation Resource Managers.

Squadron Aviation Resource Manager is an enlisted career field that exists in flying squadrons throughout the Air Force. SARM Airmen assigned to the 34th Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, are responsible for tracking pilots’ and aircrews’ medical and operational training qualifications.

Flying at high speeds, at low levels, pulling up to 9 Gs, performing “basic fighter maneuvers” while dogfighting – all of this is taxing on the body and the mind. And, it can be more dangerous if the right type and amount of training hasn’t been done recently, or if a pilot has an underlying health issue that hasn’t been resolved. SARMs are the gatekeepers.

There are up to 50 “go” or “no go” items for SARMS to check for pilots prior to a mission. And, after the mission, they track everything that happened during the flight –  the type of combat training flown, the performance, and any issues with the aircraft to pass on to maintenance.   

“These Airmen have a lot of responsibility to ensure the safety of our pilots and our aircraft,” said Master Sgt. Guillermo Castellano, 34th Fighter Squadron Superintendent. “We keep track of everything that pilots do. Every training sortie. Every hour. We audit all that data and verify that they are ready to step to that jet every day.”

As a career field, it is a relatively small community. In the 388th, each squadron only has a handful of SARMS and these Airmen make up the bulk of the squadron’s enlisted force. It’s a different culture, but one the Airmen enjoy.

“It’s not like I’m in squadron with two or three hundred other Airmen. We all know each other. We all have good relationships with the pilots. We’re all drawn together by the squadron mission.” said Airman 1st Class Bo Bobian, a SARM in the 34th FS.

Another perk of the job is traveling with the squadron. Bobian, from Aurora, Colo., has been in the Air Force a little less than two years and has already been on a combat deployment, and several TDYs to Las Vegas and Boise.

“It’s been a pretty fast paced since I arrived,” Bobian said.