PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
How would you conduct your mission if you were in an austere and possibly hostile environment? This is the question the 920th Force Support Squadron’s (FSS) Services Flight continuously strives to answer.
They’ve found that by conducting hands-on research testing potential equipment, they not only maximize their functionality but also their enduring capabilities and lethality.
On Sept. 12, a group of 12 Airmen field tested various commercial equipment by deploying cots, assembling/dissembling tents, and using sleeping bags. They were encouraged to work independently, simulating being in the field. This was the second iteration of training exercises they’ve recently conducted.
A previous field exercise conducted with the assistance of Mr. Ross of the emergency management flight was performed with all potential equipment stowed in deployable ruck sacks. Airmen from different units throughout the wing were then asked to take the equipment and run a lap around the track before breaking it out and setting it up at the center of the track field.
“Since we have gotten the mobility data we were looking for in the previous exercise, now we want to focus more on the equipment functionality itself.” Said Maj. Daniel, 920th Officer In Charge (OIC) of Services. “There’s a lot of products out there and we want the equipment to be lightweight and durable, that’s what this is testing.”
The Airmen conducting the research of the products were instructed to set up, test, and break down the equipment. Serving a test of durability, there were no repercussions if something broke. On the contrary, the data collected from failed equipment would ensure a better understanding of what products were not conducive in field environments.
“There are pros and cons to every piece equipment,” the OIC said. “So getting as many hands on as possible will give us the widest diversity of opinions.”
A spreadsheet was used to evaluate the equipment, a standard score sheet that allowed the Airmen testing the equipment to voice their opinion. The sheet had each item listed, a number from one to five, one being poor and five being excellent. Additionally, a comment section was provided for the user to give additional, detailed feedback. The spreadsheet was essentially a listing that captured all the data from overall weight to actual usability in the field.
“The intent isn’t to tell leadership what to buy, but give them feedback on what their Airmen think about the suitability of the equipment,” he said.
All of the data will be compiled and new equipment used for an extensive exercise in 2021 that will train MSG Airmen in wartime training scenarios. These products were hand-selected for the conditions the Airmen would be in if they were deployed to an austere location where they must be light and agile.
“We have a general idea of the environment we would be in and knew we needed something lightweight, and breathable,” he said. “Ideally, we want to get our Airmen off the ground and in a reliable type of cover.”
Also featured in the Services Flight within the FSS was a large, colorful, story board created by Staff Sgt. Karey and her troops, with pictures and quotes she had pulled directly out of the August 2020 “Accelerate Change or Lose” paper presented by General Charles Brown, Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
“After a squadron staff meeting where our FSS commander led a discussion about General Brown’s paper and what it means to be a Multifunctional Airman, I wanted to take that message back to my troops in a meaningful way,” the Staff Sgt. explained. “The story board grew organically out of that conversation with my Airmen and was a team effort over the course of a few days.”
The OIC Maj. expanded on the Staff Sgt’s comments by adding that sometimes, at the tactical level, Airmen are given direction by their leadership and can be left wondering why they’re moving in that direction.
“That couldn’t be further from the actuality within this wing,” he explained. “That message has always been to develop Multifunctional Airman for a high-end fight against a peer adversary from day one.”
The “Bed-down Expo” and the story board were just a few of the many highlights featured during a recent visit from the Tenth Air Force Commander, Major General Brian Borgen that directly reflects the new Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s Accelerate Change or Lose initiative.
“Although our group is preparing Agile Combat Employment for our Rear Command Post, our strategic wing focus has pinpointed our effort to maximizing multifunction Airmen capable of operating in a contested environment for a high-end fight,” Col. Matthew, Mission Support Group commander, said. “This is a huge shift in my mission support group training priorities as these capabilities require every one of my Citizen Airmen to become light, lean and lethal.”
Based at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, the 920th Rescue Wing is the only Air Force Reserve Command that trains and equips Airmen to carry out its mission to plan, lead, and conduct military rescue operations and missions to deny competitors and adversaries exploitation of isolated personnel. Air Force rescue is the only DoD entity specifically organized, trained and equipped to conduct personnel recovery operations into hostile or denied areas as a primary mission.
The 920th Rescue Wing comprises 23 subordinate groups and squadrons, including three geographically separated units; one at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, one at Portland, Oregon, and one at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.
“The Things We Do That Others May Live.”
*Editors Note: Last names have been omitted for operational security.