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Base multimedia, PA merge into one

Tsutomu Takaesu lines up the new public affairs sign on what used to be the multimedia building at Kadena Air Base, Japan, as part of the finishing touches of the 18th Wing Public Affairs and multimedia merger.  Mr. Takaesu works with the 18th Civil Engineering Squadron.
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jeremy McGuffin

Tsutomu Takaesu lines up the new public affairs sign on what used to be the multimedia building at Kadena Air Base, Japan, as part of the finishing touches of the 18th Wing Public Affairs and multimedia merger. Mr. Takaesu works with the 18th Civil Engineering Squadron. U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jeremy McGuffin

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- "Inform, educate, recognize," is the motto of the Airmen and civilians working in the newly restructured 18th Wing Public Affairs office here.

Public Affairs more than doubled in size recently when it merged with the Base Multimedia Center - also known as Visual Information - which was formerly under the 18th Communications Squadron. The mission of the office remains the same...to tell the Air Force story.

"PA, multimedia, and broadcasters have one thing in common to tell the Air Force story," said Master Sgt. Ignacio Dondoyano, former base multimedia manager. "Whether writing a story, taking photos, or making a video we are still telling a story."

NCOs from both units assembled a committee in March and started planning the merger, after receiving the mandate from Headquarters Air Force Public Affairs. The decision to merge was approved by Chief of Staff of the Air Force early 2006 and direct guidance was given early 2007 to have all offices merged by Oct 1, 2007. The committee met weekly to discuss mission requirements and the way ahead.

"Everyone has been great and eager to get things done," said Maj. Dani Johnson, 18th Wing Public Affairs chief. "So far, it's been a smooth transition."

The merger began in June when PA was divided into three divisions: operations, community relations, and plans and resources.

The operations division consists of three different sections: news, media relations, and production. The news section writes stories, shoots news photos, maintains the Kadena public Web site, and produces the Kadena Shogun newspaper. The media relations section sponsors and supports civilian news agency visits and answers their queries. They are also responsible for issue management, marketing, and message coordination.

The production section is the largest of the three. It provides video and photo products to support news and base operations, manages the commander's access channel, operates the base photo studio, and conducts on-location visual information support for documentation of jobs such as criminal agency, security forces investigations, mortuary, and base operations.

The community relations division plans, coordinates and executes programs to reach out to the local communities and the various Japanese government agencies.

Public Affairs gained a new division: plans and resources. It is responsible for readiness, training, exercise planning, budget, and other resources.

"With the larger size of PA, we needed one division to oversee the 'behind-the-scenes' areas that many times are an additional duty in a smaller office," said Maj. Johnson.

The merger also brings new responsibilities to many Airmen on the team, particularly the photographers and videographers.

"It's going to be difficult at times," said Airman 1st Class Kelly Timney, still photographer. "Now I have to learn to write stories without getting formal training. It's mostly going to be on-the-job training."

Currently the Air Force has completed the merger between videographers and broadcasters with new career development courses and Career Field Education and Training Plan. Photo and print journalists will merge completely in the next two to three years as photojournalists. With the merger and PBD 720, the graphics career field has been deleted and all 3V Air Force specialty codes have converted to 3N.

"We have taken capabilities that complement each other that worked for different organizations," said Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth Fidler, plans and programs division chief. "Now they are working together as one, and making us stronger."

Not only have the two career fields merged, at Kadena they have collocated in building 404. The office can be reached at 634-3813 or 634-1509.