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New force support squadron streamlines Vandenberg base functions

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- 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 30th Force Support Squadron.

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, said Lt. Col. Steve Carmical, currently the 30th Mission Support Squadron commander.

"Because we're a leaner force, we need to focus on getting our people and organizations to operate at maximum efficiency," Colonel Carmical said. "This reorganization puts Vandenberg's 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 sports, and lodging branches.

"This is basically a behind-the-scenes change and should appear transparent to most Airmen here at Vandenberg," Colonel Carmical said "If someone needs to go get an ID card or go to the Education and Training Office, in most cases, that person will still go to the same location they're familiar with today. Rest assured, we will be publicizing the changes in locations, phone numbers, etc., that 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 nothing is "broken" by the merge, six Air Force bases across six commands were selected early last year to test the new squadron model. The test bases--Edwards, Eielson, FE 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.

"The end-of-test reports from the test-site commanders/director indicate this merger has not been without its challenges," said Mick Szymanski, the current, 30th Services Division director. "They had to re-establish lines of communication, move some people around, and overcome cultural differences between the functions. But, even with the difficulties, they're already seeing the benefits of combining these assets."

Mr. Szymanski cited the new force development flight as an example of positive changes coming. "The new force development flight chief is responsible for all education, training, library, professional development and professional military education," he said. "It's advantageous for the base 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," Mr. Szymanski said. "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 Vandenberg.

"One thing will not change," Colonel Carmical added. "The dedicated people of this newly merged organization will continue doing their best to support commanders and provide first class support to their customers!"

For more information on the new Force Support Squadron at Vandenberg, please contact Junell Tillman at 605-6455.