***image1***U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s geographically separated units come in all shapes and sizes, and they are spread out all over the European continent. Their missions range from airfield operations, NATO and intelligence support to munitions, postal service, deployment preparations and humanitarian expeditionary construction.
Col. Richard Weathers, 38th Combat Support Wing commander, said the new 38th CSW, which stood up at Ramstein Air Base in May, is associated with all of them in one form or another.
“We provide for the needs of USAFE’s GSUs and provide advocacy and liaison to all the others,” said Colonel Weathers.
There are more than 200 of them total, including those that are not attached to USAFE, and they are all unique with their own exclusive features and characteristics that could range from one to 600 people.
“We are widely referred to as the ‘GSU support wing’ and our primary thrust is to take care of those Airmen and civilians who do the mission,” said Colonel Weathers.
The wing consists of the 712th Air Base Group at Morón Air Base, Spain, 420th Air Base Group at Royal Air Force Fairford, England, 38th Munitions Maintenance Group at Spangdahlem Air Base European Mission Support Squadron at Stuttgart, and Combat Support Center here.
Each group also has squadrons, flights and detachments located in Italy, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Belgium, The Netherlands, Norway and Denmark.
In addition to this, the 38th CSW also supports U.S. Air Force personnel assigned to NATO and collocated with Army and Navy commands in numerous countries dotted all over Europe.
“Every Air Force member assigned within the theater should be assured of support for diverse areas such as finance, administration, housing, family support, childcare and schools,” said Colonel Weathers. “We are teaming with the USAFE staff and their main operating bases to develop the right solutions for critical support issues theater-wide.”
Lt. Col. Randy Davis, 496th Air Base Squadron commander at Morón AB, echoed Colonel Weathers comments, saying “All GSU’s are different but they have similar issues. The 38th CSW has provided us with a single voice to issue our concerns to USAFE.”
To illustrate the success of this new 38th CSW organization, Colonel Weathers said the wing will now conduct its own quarterly and annual awards competition allowing GSU’s to compete among themselves rather than competing against main operating bases.
He said there are also more opportunities for school slots and most importantly there is now a traditional chain of command for these GSU’s through one wing headquarters rather than multiple wing headquarters.
Colonel Weathers said some recent 38th CSW successes include funding for seven family support center programs at GSU locations and reinvigorating Combat and Special Interest Programs through all their bases.
GSU’s like Morón AB and RAF Alconbury are already feeling the effects of operating under a wing structure.
At Morón AB, the 496th ABS celebrated their 50-year base anniversary in conjunction with the Air Force’s 57th birthday by holding an Air Force Ball Sept. 18.
“The success of our celebration was due to the collaborative efforts of many outstanding Airmen, NCO’s and officers assigned to Morón AB,” said 1st Lt. Edmond Gray, 496th ABS Logistics Plans and Programs chief. “The 38th CSW has also been a great support to us and we have received more visibility.”
And at RAF Alconbury, the 423rd ABS won the Combat Proud minor installation base appearance award in August and was presented a check for $50,000.
“The Civil Engineer military teamed up with volunteers from other 423rd ABS flights and started painting everything from utility boxes to concrete revetments,” said Master Sgt. Jonathan Stirewalt, CE operations superintendent. “300 gallons of brown paint later, RAF Alconbury sparkles with pride.”
Colonel Weathers said in addition to the things that have already been accomplished in the first 100 days of standing up the wing, there are new initiatives currently being worked to provide solutions for GSU combat support.
“The GSU’s are our single focus and mission and we are meeting their needs one by one,” said Colonel Weathers.