TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
The 349th Force Support Squadron is the recipient of the inaugural Force Support Wartime Readiness Legacy Award for leadership, performance and innovation in wartime readiness preparation.
The award recognizes and celebrates Air Force Reserve Command’s best FSS performance. Leading readiness training, participating in activities, and utilizing innovative tactics and techniques advancing the organization’s readiness strategy, the squadron far exceeded minimum requirements.
“To be successful in readiness, you have to first define readiness,” said Maj. Robert Bruce, 349th FSS commander. “Our FSS defined it as, ‘if you get tapped on the shoulder, are you ready to go?’”
The 349th FSS is comprised of sustainment, operations and individual personnel readiness focused on strategic alignment. Bruce explained that the team’s initial goal was to develop the squadron’s mission statement.
They decided upon, “provide combat-ready Airmen through human capital support, sustainment and cyber defense.”
“Those three categories touch everybody in the FSS, said Bruce.”
Once the mission statement was solid, the next step was to identify supporting goals, put pen to paper and produce the strategic plan. With some thoughtful brainstorming, objectives became clear. Bruce said the team then focused on accelerating readiness.
“We wanted to be ready in case the nation called, so we could deploy our Airmen at a moment’s notice. Also, we knew a deployment was coming up, and we needed to be ready for it.”
Bruce added that the importance of initiating the plan, working it through from start to finish, and tracking results to meet goals helped them identify how they could avoid obstacles.
“One action we took was to bring our Airmen here on their annual tour to do home-based training prior to deployment,” said Senior Master Sgt. Shakela Matthews, 349th FSS sustainment superintendent. “Because of the COVID-19 situation we were in at the time, we knew to bring them out sooner to contain and protect them from another variant that may come around.”
Two days before the reservists were to deploy, two of them tested positive. The delay was one week, but they had prepared for that possibility.
“When we had to swap out members, it wasn’t a big deal,” said Matthews. “We had other Airmen ready to go.”
Another challenge for the Airmen was limited availability of a firing range. Travis’s range remained closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, so the Airmen traveled to neighboring Beale Air Force Base and a local firing range to stay on target with training. Backup plans were in place to keep everyone ready and not scrambling at the last minute.
“Even though the coronavirus and the closed firing range was thrown at us, among other things, we remained in an active readiness posture over the last two years, and we had a lot of our folks ready to go out the door,” said Bruce.
Zoom interactivity was also used to remotely complete training requirements for some members, due to travel restrictions and social distancing measures. The team geared up to advance and optimize unit readiness utilizing the collaboration tool.
In the past, missed sign-up dates for deliberate crisis action planning extraction systems, range training, and medical appointments were a normal occurrence. However, once the team grounded themselves and focused on a proactive posture, and not reactive, readiness improved.
“It was everyone who was a part of this team that saw the plan through to fruition, and I think the end result was the readiness award,” said Bruce.
The Force Support Wartime Readiness Legacy Award is in memory of Mr. David Woodrow Holly, Jr., a former AFRC/A1R specialist.