By Tech. Sgt. Josh Mead, Public Affairs, 103rd Airlift Wing
/ Published October 03, 2009
BRADLEY ANG BASE, East Granby, Conn. -- Recently, the Flying Yankees have seen their fair share of transformation. With new missions such as a centralized intermediate repair facility and air and space operations group, and the face of the base changing with geo-thermal installations and building renovations, it is easy to miss a small change that happened to the services and personnel flights. Back on April 1, 2009, the merger of the two flights was official, and that's no joke. Speculation of a proposed name was, however; SPAM - services, personnel and manpower.
While the merger was no laughing matter and was not named SPAM, the Air Force still deemed the merger of the two flights necessary and, in the words of Chief Master Sgt. Wanda P. Wawruck, superintendent of the newly created force support squadron, "it made sense."
"It's basically taking two customer service related organizations and putting them together. A lot of our tasks are related, such as casualty assistance, deployment activity, things of that nature. So it only makes sense that the two of us form as one."
"It is an Air Force initiative under transformation where they were trying to find organizations that may look different but, at the core, serve the same function," said Maj. Ann C. Ware, commander, 103rd Force Support Squadron.
To the casual observer, the merger may not make sense with services being famous for dining halls, morale, wellness and recreation events and personnel, famous for ID cards, records and other personnel actions. So where do the two flights meet together?
"I think the two areas where [services and personnel] most closely come together, certainly when we are deployed, is the PERSCO (Personnel Support for Contingency Operations) team using the Air Force form 245 for base accountability and services with billeting, putting people into their lodging assignments," said Capt. Douglas P. Scheiery, operations officer, 103rd Force Support Squadron. "So it's very important they work together for the accountability of the people on the base."
Another function the two flights operate together is with casualty reporting and mortuary affairs.
"During the ORE, we sent our Airmen over to the mortuary to see services processes and some of the services Airmen came over to see PERSCO. It actually worked out well for us," said Ware. "We figured out a lot of things that the other one was doing better."
According to Wawruck, PERSCO and billeting are currently working side by side in the AOR, but have not quite gotten there with the systems yet.
For the entry level Airman in the FSS, there will be separate Air Force specialty codes for personnel and services. The merger doesn't happen on the tactical level until reaching Chief Master Sgt. All officers in the FSS will maintain one AFSC.
"Even though they separate AFSCs, both have to have some type of knowledge of the other so that, when you do get to the chief level, it is an easy transition and we're going to start doing some of those training activities in the months ahead. And also, start going to service combat training together," said Wawruck.
With the merger, no functions will be lost from either the personnel or services sections and you will not necessarily see cooks handing out ID cards with spaghetti. What you will see are two organizations that have long worked beside each other virtually, now working beside each other physically.
"I like the change, I was in services for 15 years, then I worked in personnel for five years, so now to have the merger, I understand both flights pretty well," said Scheiery. "I definitely see that there is a lot the two groups can do together as one section."
"We're excited. Personally, it's exciting and very interesting. I went to a search and recovery exercise to New York with the services personnel and I was shocked," said Ware. "It was, trekking through the woods, it was wet, it was cold, it was miserable. But I was so proud of what I saw out of the folks from the 103rd. I just know, as we continue to figure out our processes and we get all of our lines of communication in place, it will be very exciting and we will have a tremendous opportunity," she said.