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Areas of Responsibility

Air Force Protocol
from 'Til Wheels are Up'

Areas of Responsibility

Develop a "Strawman" Itinerary. Now we get to the real "meat" of it. In this step you will work with the action officer (if one is assigned) to map out the specific briefings and tours you think the DV needs to have to make this a productive visit. Seek input from the commander or host for the visit. They usually have set ideas on what they want the DV to see or do -- get this input early! Sequence the events in a meaningful way. If the DV requires orientation briefings (start with your command briefing if the DV has not seen it before) before visiting sites to better understand what he or she will see, then schedule these first. Block out rough times, considering time for questions and answers during briefings and transportation between activities. Consider "pit stops." Include in your preliminary planning time for meals, and at the end of the day, adequate time for rest and relaxation or exercise before beginning evening functions. In this regard, make sure you factor in the DV's "body clock" and the amount of traveling he or she has already done. Do not plan an aggressive program the first day, if the DV has been traveling a better part of the day including crossing three time zones! You may want to present your strawman itinerary to the commander or host before proceeding further. Here are the tasks you will want to consider:
  • Notify the organizations in the command which are responsible for operations of particular interest to the DV
  • Identify specific technical discussions and/or briefings the DV will receive, and block times (OPR)
  • Make preliminary arrangements for meals.
  • Block times for each activity. Provide sufficient time not only for meetings, office calls, meals, etc., but also for changes of clothes, coffee or tea breaks, occasional rest periods, and transportation.
  • Will spouses accompany? If so, you will need to plan a separate itinerary and get help in executing that itinerary. The same planning factors apply. (See section on itineraries for suggestions.)
  • Plan evening meal (or formal luncheon if required). If not already accomplished, tentatively reserve the facility and any entertainment. Identify invitation requirements and put together a suggested invitation list.
  • Determine who pays for various functions and how payment is to be made. (DVs in per diem status normally pay for all their expenses and the accompanying aide or escort will pay the DV's bill. However, these are situations were some expenses may be paid from official sources. For more information, see Funding Protocol Events)
  • Get the commander's or host's approval for the strawman itinerary.
"Flesh" out the Itinerary. Once your strawman itinerary has been approved, it is time to put the detail into it. And here the devil is truly in the details! Begin from the DV's arrival (how is he or she arriving, who is greeting, where is his or her first stop, how is he or she getting there, who is accompanying, who takes care of his or her luggage, who greets at the next stop!) and continue right through to the completion of the visit (what time does he or she need to leave, where is he or she leaving from, how is he or she going to get there, who is going to accompany him or her, who is going to farewell, how is his or her luggage getting there). And everything in between! Following are some planning factors related to generic events that we have learned through experience are necessary to consider. You will want to modify them to fit your specific needs:
  • Briefings. For any visit, these will make or break it. Schedule the briefing or conference room. Determine the right attendees (key staff, host, visitors, knowledgeable staff officers, etc.) Line up briefers - dry run the briefings (preferably with the commander or host present!). Make sure you have seating charts. Determine audio-visual requirements (if new slides need to be developed, this can be a "long-lead" item! Do not delay.) Consider refreshments; as a minimum, plan on iced water at the table. Remember to plan for writing materials at the table. (Normally these are the responsibility of the OPR.)
  • Office Calls. As a minimum, schedule an office call with the installation commander as a "courtesy" and be prepared to provide the commander information on the DV, purpose of the visit, and other data. If a "social" call, 15-20 minutes usually suffices. Consider others as appropriate (major directorates, etc.) Make sure you get on the commander's or host's calendar early (OPR).
  • Tour/Site Visits. There are the "showplaces" that reflect your organization and the pride of the unit. They could be mission-related or they could be the new Child Care and Development Center or Airmen's dormitory at your installation. When setting up tours, you need to consider: arranging for the owning commander or representative to greet and escort your DV through the facility; meeting security requirements, if required; making sure the facility and its surroundings are clean and presentable (the owning commander will ensure this, but it never hurts to double check!); and most importantly, dry-run the tour. Most problems with site visits occur as a result of poor time management. Time briefings and overviews. Make sure you allow time for visits to workcenters and small talk with personnel at those centers. They are proud of what they do, and should be. They will be tempted to "overdo" it, so be ready for these events to last longer than programmed and plan accordingly (OPR and Protocol responsibility).
  • Meals (Breakfast and Lunch). Everyone has to eat, and there are some factors here you will want to take into account. Some DVs do not eat breakfast, but will expect pastries or coffee in their quarters. Others will want a full breakfast to start their day, and breakfast offers a good setting to start the day's activities. Consider having the host or project officer attend. Sometimes you will want to work a breakfast (or lunch) with a group, like junior officers or airmen. The officers' and enlisted clubs are good settings, as is the dining hall. In a time-constrained itinerary, finding time (and the right facility) for lunch can be challenging. If traveling from one facility or site to another, consider stopping for lunch at a restaurant or one of your on-base dining facilities that is on the way to your next stop. You may want to consider a "working lunch" where you can continue briefings or discussions (especially if you are really pressed for time). Many restaurants will prepare sandwiches beforehand for this purpose, or you can have lunch catered. Or, you may want to consider a more formal setting, say at the officers' club, with the host and other senior officers attending. (See more on this in Entertaining.)
  • Dinner Plans. The right planning here can be the "icing on the cake" for a successful visit. There are several things you will need to consider; but first and foremost, allow enough time between the end of the business day and the start of dinner for the DV to relax, unpack, exercise, shower, etc. Normally, this should be about an hour and a half; never less than 45 minutes unless you have pre-coordinated with the DV. Now, what do you do about dinner? There is a myriad of options, and the chapter on Entertaining covers the range from formal to informal dining. As the protocol officer, you will want to consider the DV's desires (food preference, purpose of visit, level of formality, etc.). He or she may prefer a quiet evening at leisure. In such cases, make sure transportation is arranged and provide a list of local restaurants you can vouch for. Offer to make reservations. At other times, the purpose or type of visit may dictate more involved arrangements, ranging from setting up a dinner at the officers' club or a local restaurant in an informal setting, to a formal reception and dinner with local dignitaries and senior officers attending. In these cases, you will want to refer to many of the chapters in this handbook dealing with entertaining, table seating and arrangements, invitations, etc.
  • Other Miscellaneous, but Necessary Tasks. Here are some specifics you will want to make sure have been taken care of, if you have not already:
    • Arrange honors and ceremonies (covered later in this chapter and in AFR 900-6).
    • Ensure all arrangements, including reservations for hotels and restaurants, transportation, photographic support, conference room support, etc., are in writing.
    • Ensure that dignitaries will be met and bade farewell by officers of commensurate rank whenever possible. As a general rule, this requires that a general or flag officer be present at the arrival and departure of a general or flag officer, who is on an official visit, unless there are no general or flag officers assigned to your installation. In this case, your installation commander or vice commander should be present.
    • Coordinate US Customs and Department of Agriculture arrangements when your DVs are coming in directly from an overseas location. Your Security Forces will normally handle this.
    • Arrange public affairs support, if required (press conference, photo opportunities).
    • List all the people and organizations you need to notify (and update, as required) of the DV's time of arrival.
    • Confirm security clearances are on file with offices to be visited. Confirm access to controlled/restricted areas before the DV's arrival (OPR).
    • Establish uniform/dress requirements for all events. Document in the itinerary.
    • Keep the DV's office/escort officer apprised of any changes to the itinerary -- do not let him or her become surprised! Notify him or her beforehand of any toasts to be offered at social functions (and his or her appropriate response) proposed speaking opportunities or press coverage, etc.
The final action is to obtain the commander's or host's approval of the completed itinerary -- an important and necessary step!

And More Details. Now that you have "fleshed" out your itinerary, it is time to close on the details that will make (or break) your visit. First, follow up in writing all the transportation, club, billeting, and security arrangements you have made. Make sure all involved agencies have copies of the itinerary and understand the role they play in the visit. Make sure all escort officers are briefed and understand their responsibilities. Do you need to prepare invitations, place cards, name tags, placards, etc.? Get these done before the visit starts. Consider what could go wrong, and plan for it. Here are some of those last minute details in the form of tasks:
  • Ensure all drivers of the official party are briefed regarding their schedules and are given explicit directions so they can operate independently, if they become separated from the other vehicles in the official party.
  • Prepare a package which contains at least a map of the area, the local itinerary, and lists of room assignments and telephone numbers for presentation to each member of the visiting party.
  • Secure information booklets and other printed information.
  • Reconfirm with the club or restaurant on the composition of the visiting party, accommodations, time and date of arrival, and method of payment.
  • Continue to pass changes and updates to the DV's office or escort.
  • Determine any special requirements upon the DV's departure from your location (i.e., flight lunches, notifications passed to next stop, etc.)
  • Conduct a final dry-run of the visit from beginning to end, where practicable. As a minimum, run through your checklists to ensure transportation, billeting, entertainment, etc. are taken care of. If time permits, dry-run briefings and tours again, especially if there were problems during the first dry-run. This walkthrough will identify where the weak points are and can be critical to the success of the visit.
  • Make any last-minute changes to your itinerary (they should be minor by now). Include a list of all visitors, with full names, nicknames, duty titles, grades, clearances, and organizations.
  • Check the quarters at least 45 minutes prior to the DV's arrival to allow housekeeping time to correct any deficiencies.
  • Brief your commander or host on any last-minute changes. Make sure he or she does not have any questions and is comfortable with all arrangements (you do not want surprises in this regard later).
If your visit involves additional escort officers, make sure they are adequately briefed. In addition to some of the tasks related above that you will have them do, cover:
  • Uniform requirements.
  • Where the dry cleaners and drug stores are located.
  • Information covering what to do in emergencies (hospital, dental care, contact command post).
  • Greeting and transporting their assigned DV.
  • Proper courtesies.
  • Visit details one last time -- make sure they have their copy of the itinerary and protocol plan.
  • Their responsibility for after action feedback, addressing any problems or comments they receive from the DV.