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Recall This
Lt. Col. Clint Burpo reviews one of the many pop-up messages available for editing and use on the IWS Alerts website. The IWS Alerts system is capable of recalling 2000 Reservists to active duty in a two-minute time frame. (Air Force Photo / Staff Sgt. K.L. Kimbrell)
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Posted 10/30/2007   Updated 10/30/2007 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. K.L. Kimbrell
931st ARG Public Affairs

10/30/2007 - McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. -- It's 4 a.m. You are lying in bed sound asleep when you're awakened by the ring of your telephone. You pick up the handset and you hear: "This is the unit recall monitor. This is a recall to active duty. Report to your duty section immediately. If you are on mobility status, bring the required minimum personal clothing," says the caller.

So, you jump out of bed, prepare yourself and get dressed. It's time to go to work. 

According to Lt. Col. Clint Burpo, Chief of Plans and Programs for the 931st Air Refueling Group, this style of traditional recall is becoming a thing of the past and is being ushered out by a new computer based system. 

"It's more than just a recall system. It's a commercial software solution for subscription-based mass notifications," said Colonel Burpo, who attended a course on the new system at Air Force Reserve Command Headquarters at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. 

The system, AtHoc's IWSAlerts is already in use at some installations. It uses computer pop-ups or phone calls to distribute information about just about anything, including weather warnings, exercise messages or recall alerts.

"The way it works is the administrator logs into the contractor's website, and publishes alerts that will simultaneously "pop-up" on subscribers' desktops," said the Colonel. "You can also program it to make phone calls." 

The primary use for the Group would be for just that, phone calls. 

"The 22nd Air Refueling Wing has a similar set-up where they can alert the base populace during exercises and real world events that affect FPCON (Force Protection Condition), for example," said Colonel Burpo. "Since their (22nd ARW) command post handles those types of alerts, our use would mainly be limited to unit personnel recalls."
The information will be added by an existing database of member's information.
"The way the "subscribers" are registered into the system is through MILPDS (Military Personnel Data System)," said Colonel Burpo. 

The new process is much faster and automated. 

"The main benefit of this system is it can call up to 2000 phone numbers in a 2-minute period, said Colonel Burpo." 

The computerized voice will then deliver the selected message to the unit member. 

"The member can then press "1" if they acknowledge," said Colonel Burpo. "The administrator can check the status and number of personnel acknowledging the message on the website." 

The 931st is on the books to be entered into the system, so it can be used locally.
"I'm hoping to have it available for the March exercise," said Lt. Col. Burpo.

So, if a mysterious number shows up on your caller-ID during a Unit Training Assembly or during prescribed mandatory Annual Tour, it's probably a good bet to answer the call.
"The contractor is working to make sure when the number comes up on a person's caller ID, it is accompanied by "Air Force Alert" or some similar label," said Colonel Burpo. 

When everything is complete, your next 4 a.m. phone call may not be the voice you're used to hearing, but the message will remain the same albeit in a computerized voice.
"This is a recall to active duty. Report to your duty section immediately. "

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