By Michael Golembesky
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Streamlined, cost-effective, better service and it just makes good sense. These are the keys to the integration of two sister force support squadrons, a first in the Air Force.
The active-duty 21st Force Support Squadron and Reserve 302nd Force Support Squadron have co-located military personnel services to assist Total Force members served by both units. When the two squadrons signed a memorandum of agreement in November 2013, Peterson became the first installation to move toward integrating force support squadrons of two Air Force Components and is leading the way for the rest of the Air Force.
“FSS Integration is one of several projects within the Total Force Personnel Management Initiative. Peterson is one of three prototype bases leading the way in FSS integration,” said Col. Alan Edmiaston, project manager for the Air Force Integration program at the Pentagon.
During a signing ceremony on Nov. 1, 2013, held at the facility on base that will house both support elements, squadron commanders Lt. Col. Alan Flolo, 302nd Force Support Squadron commander, and Maj. Tammy Schlichenmaier, 21st Force Support Squadron commander, signed the MOA making the move toward integration official and on schedule.
“This signing ceremony is groundbreaking for the Air Force because we are the first to make this force support integration happen. We are leading the way for the service,” said Schlichenmaier.
“This is like the Louis and Clark expedition, we are charting a new path in new territory and not knowing quite what to expect,” said Flolo. “We are excited to implement this concept and evaluate it for the rest of the Total Force.”
Peterson AFB was picked to lead the way for a variety of reasons.
“Peterson is the perfect place to make integration a success for our two units; we are literally within walking distance of each other. We have facilities that are in great condition and the space to bring everyone together,” said Schlichenmaier.
The initial phase of the integration was completed Nov. 1, 2013, meeting the Initial Operational Capability date. The Full Operational Capability date is set for Oct. 1, 2014, and the team is already moving toward that goal.
“We have completed personnel moves, and began training personnel on Total Force processes. We are going to have challenges, so communication is key,” Flolo said. “We are the first installation to do this, others will follow, and we are writing the book. The MOA we signed is a living document; we are going to make changes, take notes and improve processes.”
Schlichenmaier recognized the tremendous amount of teamwork it has taken to reach this point, and addressed challenges to come.
“We are used to challenges. The team is made up of Airmen from both squadrons, and Air Staff has been working very hard behind the scenes for two years to have the key elements in place for this integration,” said Schlichenmaier. “The MOA is not what is great here, it is the fact that all of our people are pulling together to make the most effective team possible to better serve our Total Force customers.”
To date, all integrating functions have been relocated to buildings 350 and 1171. Along with customers, the change is advantageous to the personnel working in each FSS and will make it easier for members to transition between components.
“Each component handles business slightly different. The Airmen currently assigned to the 21st FSS are being extensively trained to serve the members of the Reserve component,” Schlichenmaier said. “Customers should see no difference in the level of knowledge or service they receive, regardless of who is working the issue.”
Although services will be combined, the regular Air Force and Reserve units remain as two individual organizations with separate chains of command, functionally working together.
“The 21st and 302nd FSS will assist each other in meeting the needs of our very diverse population,” said Flolo, “including active duty and Reserve personnel, retirees, and their families,” Flolo said.
For more information about the integration, visit the Command Section located in building 350.