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New support unit designed to increase readiness

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Nov. 12, 2002) -- Support groups at Air Force bases worldwide are being reorganized into a new organizational structure: the mission support group.

The change is part of an overall reorganization called the combat wing organization, a result of the 2000 Chief of Staff Logistics Review. The new groups will bring additional capability to the Air Force, said the chief of Air Force doctrine, concepts and war games.

"This is not your father's support group," Col. Connie Morrow said. "This new structure embodies agile combat support in line with the chief of staff's vision for the air and space expeditionary force. The MSG makes it possible to employ ACS capabilities to open and establish the base as well as provide for sustainment of base operating capabilities. Those capabilities are key to the success of the AEF operational task forces."

The MSG brings together under one commander critical expeditionary combat support planning and execution resources, including the new logistics readiness squadron, contracting, communications, civil engineers, services, security forces and personnel.

According to Morrow, this change gives the Air Force the command structure, responsibility, authority and resources to prepare the battle space. It creates the operating location, positions the fighting force, sustains and protects the force during operations, and then recovers and reconstitutes the force.

"The MSG, at the lowest level, is the organization that will provide the capability to do this," Morrow said. "We are creating the ability for people to generate weapons and weapons systems. That is at the heart of the air and space expeditionary force."

Col. Fred Wieners, director of Task Force Enduring Look, said the lessons learned from Operation Enduring Freedom will be key to the new organization.

"There is a tendency to want to put iron down first - those weapons we can use to do harm to the enemy," Wieners said. "But it is important to find that right balance to ensure your people can survive, so that they can operate. It is a difficult challenge, especially at austere basing, as we saw in Central Asia."

Morrow said she believes the MSG can provide that balance, and the ability to overcome that challenge.

"We will put mission support, the critical mission-readiness capabilities, on the ground first, and then flow the iron in behind it," Morrow said. "The people who are responsible for creating an operating location are the same people who are going to be planning for how you create an operating location. The MSG is going to be able to turn that patch of desert into an aerospace combat operating location."

The end result, she said, will be increased readiness, which is always the top priority.

"It will translate itself as our ability to be ready to do our job as soon as we hit the base at the forward operating location," she said. "Additionally, it will reduce our learning curve - that spin-up time when you arrive."

Nearly 90 percent of Air Force installations had made the transformation to the MSG structure as of Nov. 1.