After more than two years of planning and waiting, the 86th Mission Support Squadron and 86th Services Squadron will officially deactivate and fuse functions to form the 86th and 786th Force Support squadrons in a ceremony at 2 p.m. today in Hangar 2 on Ramstein.
By direction of the Air Staff, MSS and SVS units across the Air Force began merging the complementary and common functions of manpower, personnel and services in early 2007 to make better use of resources in light of a tight fiscal budget.
Six test bases merged in 2007, approximately 30 merged in 2008 and another 18 mergers occurred across the Air Force in 2009. At Ramstein, the merger was delayed due to wing reorganizations and the complexities of Ramstein’s missions.
“This split is necessitated by the unique missions at Ramstein. Just as there are two security forces squadrons and three CE squadrons, the FSS will be
organized based on mission and services each will provide to the Ramstein Air Base community,” said Lt. Col. Andrea Miller, 86th MSS commander, who will take command of the 786th FSS.
The reorganization should be seamless to customers, and, if anything, individuals can expect to see efficiencies result from the process.
“Our customers won’t see a difference, but behind the scenes the change will bring synergies of having like functions together while increasing our warfighting capabilities,” the colonel said.
For example, the libraries will be moved into the Force Development Flight, which is already home to the First Term Airman’s Center and career adviser in the Professional Development Flight, Airman Leadership School, and the Education Center. Another one-stop function will be the Mortuary Affairs and the Casualty Affairs offices, which will be co-located under the operations officer in the 786th FSS. The merger of the Non-Appropriated Funds Human Resource Office and Civilian Personnel Office will also create the potential for an employment bureau under the same flight, which will report to the 86th FSS as a key home-station support function — a one-stop shop for a job.
“We are continuing to look at ways to get our people and organizations to operate at maximum efficiency,” said Brig. Gen. Mark Dillon, 86th Airlift Wing commander. “This reorganization puts our manpower, personnel and services capabilities under an appropriate leadership structure, allowing squadron commanders to lead right-sized, right mission-focused organizations and gives our people the flexibility to be more responsive to our customers’ needs.”
Lt. Col. Todd Alcott will assume command of the 86th FSS, whose mission will primarily focus on home-station support activities, with the 786th FSS focusing on combat support functions. The 86th FSS will be housed in Bldg. 2118, the current 86th SVS main headquarters, and the 786th FSS will take residence in the current 86th MSS main headquarters, Bldg. 2106.
In Ramstein fashion, these organizations will be “one of a kind” for the Air Force due to the deviation from the standard Air Force FSS template. All other bases have merged these capabilities into one FSS unit, which Ramstein leadership felt would not provide the desired results Air Force officials intended by the service-wide merger.
“One FSS at Ramstein would have resulted in over 2,000 combined members, bigger than some AF wings, and would not be able to provide the best service to our KMC customers and families,” said Col. Ramona Dolson, 86th Mission Support Group commander, noting one of the reasons for the merger delay. “Not only will these two squadrons allow better service to the customer, they keep the squadron size proportionate with other squadrons across the AF.”
The 86th FSS will focus on activities, such as civilian employment, force development (education, ALS, libraries, professional enhancement, base training), Airman and family services (Airman & Family Readiness Center, child development centers, youth programs), community services activities (Outdoor Recreation, arts and crafts, community center, auto hobby, aquatics center, rod and gun club), and business operations (bowling centers, golf course, MOMS/POPS, Gear Up Jr., officer and enlisted clubs).
The 786th FSS comprises functions such as manpower and military personnel, sustainment services (fitness and sports, lodging, dining facilities), casualty and mortuary, installation personnel readiness, and three detachments located in SHAPE, Belgium; Naples, Italy; and Stuttgart, which all provide Airmen assigned to geographically separated units, NATO, U.S. European and African commands with core personnel and financial support.