8th FSS provides support to Kunsan Airmen
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Senior Airman D'Angelo Lino, 8th Force Support Squadron customer support, inprocesses Staff Sgt. Kayode Salami, 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron material management to the base Dec. 6, 2010. All incoming personnel must inprocess with the 8th FSS customer support element within the first week of arrival to Kunsan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ciara Wymbs)
by Master Sgt. Claudette Hutchinson
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
12/7/2010 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The mission of Wolf Pack operators is to "Take the Fight North, and the mission of defenders is to "Defend the Base," but the force support personnel focuses their mission on the human element - "Accept Follow-on Forces," and the quality-of-life needs of the entire base community.
The mission of the 8th Force Support Squadron, is to ensure the Wolf Pack community have the tools available to them, to pursue their off-duty and professional development interests, through programs that promote education, training, family support, fitness, esprit de corps, and quality of life. They provide proactive, customer-oriented support to civilian and military personnel of the Wolf Pack, while improving the war fighting capabilities.
Ensuring that the FSS fulfills their mission of accepting follow-on forces includes the other mission sets of defending the base, and taking the fight north. "Accepting Follow-on Forces" is part of defending the base and taking the fight north by getting the right people, in the right place, at the right time said Maj. Angela Kim, 8th FSS commander.
"We 'Accept Follow-on Forces' by accounting for personnel, bed-down and feeding Airmen and sustaining day-to-day operations," said Major Kim. "It takes a team of people to take care of a population of more than 3,000 personnel. This is done with the help of our seven flights."
Among the seven flights is the professional development flight which includes the library, the First Term Airman Center, education training services programs and the civilian college systems. The PDF provides access to both civilian volunteer and military professional education programs that promotes self-directed learning.
Next, is the Airman and Family Readiness Center which serves as a one-stop information and referral center for active duty, Guard, Reserves, retired members, and their families. Some of the services offered by the A&FRC are the Gunsan City Good Neighbor tour, Air Force Aid services, transition assistance and various cultural classes and workshops.
If you've ever picked up the Howler Magazine, then you've already met the 8th FSS Marketing Department.
"All our events are advertised via the Services Channel, Howleronline.com, and the Howler Magazine," said Ms. Sara Harr, 8th FSS Marketing director. "The Howler Magazine, which offers the most current information about activities throughout the base monthly, is the most popular source of off-duty and recreation information for personnel on base."
Another star of the 8th FSS team, critical to Air Force readiness and retention is the community services flight. The flight is made up of the bowling alley, community activity center, golf course, Loring Club, Arts and Crafts center and the CAC tours program.
"The most popular leisure activities that many Airmen rave about are the CAC and Outdoor Recreation tours," said Major Kim. "They feature trips to the DMZ, hikes, zip-lining, and theme parks. The goal of this flight is to provide a service in which everyone can enjoy."
Of course, all incoming personnel to the base must first go through this next flight--the 8th FSS Military Personnel Flight. This flight handles all personnel actions, providing a full range of human resource management functions and services to commanders, key managers and supervisors.
"The manpower and personnel flight consists of the busiest MPS [military personnel service] in PACAF. The workload is three to four times heavier than a traditional CONUS base due to the one-year assignments," said Capt. Brian Satterlee, 8th FSS Manpower and Personnel flight commander. "More than 2,600 Airmen processes in every year, and then must be processed out 12-months later."
Based on Captain Satterlee's calculations, that equates to processing more than 200 personnel per month; this includes completing required personnel actions -- from record reviews, to providing mandatory newcomers' briefings, ensuring duty title and supervisor updates, processing leave requests, enlisted and officer performance reports and decorations -- to the final actions of issuing assignment orders.
"This cradle-to-grave process gets spread out over a three to four year period at other location," said the Captain. "We have to complete the process in a year."
While the MPF flight is the busiest, the sustainment services flight is the largest. The flight supports the mission by preparing the finest meals, providing comfortable lodging, offering a state of the art fitness facility and programs, and offering the best howling night life on the peninsula, said Major Kim.
This leaves the readiness and plans section to ensure the Wolf Pack is ready to carry out its mission to "Take the Fight North," by focusing on its wartime capabilities such as deployments, and contingency and emergency management operations.
However, being in a remote location creates some unique challenges, with the tempo of contingency planning and war-time readiness exercises as each unit assumes their war-time readiness roles.
"Our civilian workforce helps mitigate these challenges -- they are critical for continuity. Using the eight-step process to work smarter versus harder, old-fashioned teamwork, and lots of training also help us overcome challenges in manning, workload, and experience levels." said Major Kim.
And so, to meet the needs of the Wolf Pack the seven flights has to work cohesively as a team. For the MPF it's a matter of planning in advanced.
"During that time, we place our peacetime MPS role on hold for a short time which can create a backlog of personnel actions," said Captain Satterlee. "To overcome this, the staff works overtime before and after contingency operations to ensure the daily actions are resolved in a timely manner. They lean forward to ensure those PCSing during an exercise are out-processed the week prior."
Also, as the busiest flight in PACAF, it's common for the MPF staff to stay late into the evening and work weekends to ensure the troops are taken care of said Captain Satterlee.
The rewards far outweigh the challenges of the squadron, as proven by the quality of life initiatives the squadron has implemented. Just in the last year, there have been numerous initiatives to increase the quality of life standards in the Wolf Pack community. There has been a 5,000 square foot combat fitness room expansion, professional massage services added at the fitness center, the opening of the brand new lodging facility, and renovations to the Wolf Pack Café, to name a few.
"One of our goals is to make things better, by focusing on quality of life initiatives to improve programs and equipment, investing in construction projects, and creating continuity and improving processes," said Major Kim. "There are also, numerous initiatives in the works such as repairing the bowling center, and a new flightline kitchen and a new oval-shaped running track is being built."