New Force Support Squadron will streamline Goodfellow functions
By Maj. Clint Ross, 17th Mission Support Squadron commander
/ Published March 21, 2008
GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
When it comes to people programs, community support and quality of life, there will soon be one organization on base that will handle it all - the 17th Force Support Squadron.
The idea of creating a merged squadron concept is in line with Congressional Program Budget Decision 720, which granted the Air Force authority to reduce manpower authorizations to save money.
The new organization is the result of an ongoing Air Force-wide merger of mission support and services squadrons and is expected to be completed by early 2010 when the last base merges its A1 Squadrons.
The new squadrons will help streamline processes, maximize customer service and cut costs associated with maintaining separate organizations. The goal behind this merger is to create a more efficient organization that can better serve the majority of "people services" on base.
Because we're a leaner force, we need to focus on getting our people and organizations to operate at maximum efficiency. This reorganization puts our Goodfellow manpower, personnel and services capabilities under one leadership 'hat,' which reduces overhead and gives our people the flexibility to be more responsive to customers' needs.
The new FSS includes five flights: force development, manpower and personnel, Airmen and family services, sustainment services and community services. The new structure combines similar functional areas that already work closely together. For example, the sustainment services flight contains the food operations, fitness and wellness, and lodging branches.
"This is basically a behind-the-scenes change and should appear transparent to most Airmen here at Goodfellow" said Mike Sampson, 17 Services Director. "If someone needs to go get an ID card or go to the Airman's Attic, in most cases, that person will still go to the same location they're familiar with today.
Rest assured that we will be doing extensive publicity on the changes in locations/phone numbers, etc., that do result from this new Force Support Squadron. What we'll have, however, is a more effective force structure in place to better support our Airmen in the long run."
To make sure we don't "break anything" by merging Mission Support and Services, six Air Force bases across six commands were selected early last year to test the new squadron model. The test bases (Edwards, Eielson, F. E. Warren, Grand Forks, Laughlin and Minot), helped establish where specific responsibilities and processes should be placed within the organizational structure and how they should be set up.
Leadership from both the MSS and Services squadrons here at Goodfellow have reviewed the reports from the test sites. Commanders have indicated that this merger has not been without its challenges. They had to re-establish lines of communication, move some people around, and overcome cultural differences between the functions. But, even with the difficulties, we're already seeing the benefits of combining these assets.
Lt. Col. Carleton Hirschel, 90th FSS commander at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, cited the new force development flight as an example of positive changes coming. "The new force development flight commander is responsible for all education, training, library, professional development, and professional military education," he said.
"It's advantageous for the wing to have one person overseeing and integrating the learning opportunities for the installation."
The merger is also advantageous for the careers of future force support officers and civilians.
"This reorganization opens up career opportunities that we haven't had before," said Col. Mike Gamble, deputy director of Strategic Plans and Programs at the Pentagon.
"With our training plan in place, our people will be able to gain valuable experience across different functional areas. We've also created a new position - the operations officer - that will be open to officers and civilians."
The bottom-line is that there will soon be a new name--Force Support Squadron--in place of what was Mission Support and Services at Goodfellow. One thing will not change: the dedicated people of this newly merged organization will continue doing their best to support commanders and provide first class support to their customers!