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Active, Reserve components assemble to become Total FSS

Staff Sgt. Saecho Kao Seng, 349th Force Support Squadron personnel specialist, aids Airmen 1st Class Justin Ferry and Samantha Bambino, 60th Force Support Squadron personnel specialists, in commissioning packages for Airmen assigned to the 349th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., on Feb. 15, 2017. The 60th and 349th FSS units have been working together to become a seemless unit and Total Force Support Squadron in March. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Daniel Phelps)

Staff Sgt. Saecho Kao Seng, a 349th Force Support Squadron personnel specialist, aids Airmen 1st Class Justin Ferry and Samantha Bambino, of the 60th Force Support Squadron, in commissioning packages for Airmen assigned to the 349th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., Feb. 15, 2017. The 60th and 349th FSS units have been working together to become a seamless unit and Total Force Support Squadron in March. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Daniel Phelps)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- The 349th and 60th Force Support Squadrons have always had a strong partnership, but coming March 6, the two units will form a union and join together in a shared location as the Travis Air Force Base Total Force Support Squadron.

This transition came about as a directive from Headquarters Air Force, said Maj. Melissa Johnson, the TFSS action officer.

“The conditions are right for this really to work at Travis,” said Maj. Naomi Henigin, the 60th FSS commander. “This is a very natural progression for us.”

Since receiving word that they would be among the latest total force squadrons to launch, the two squadrons worked extensively to develop a transition strategy, complete with a memorandum of agreement and a master training plan, to ensure a seamless move, said Maj. Susan Labrecque, the 349th FSS commander.

“This is transformational,” Heningin added. “The future of the Air Force is total force—we can’t afford to keep doing things the same way.”

The 349th and 60th FSS already had a great working relationship and had been conducting joint training before they heard about the transition, Henigin said.

This integration is important, Labrecque said. On the Reserve side, whenever Airmen are deployed, it takes time to get spun up on regular Air Force processes.

“This integration will help cut down on that time,” she added. “These are the systems they will be working on when they deploy.”

Reservists and active duty will learn the other’s systems, Henigin continued.

“Our plan is for customers to have no idea whether (their) being aided by a reservist or active duty because that’s irrelevant,” Henigin said. “This will save time for our customers and increase proficiency for our Airmen.”

The transition will also be helpful for those who find themselves with new co-workers.

“It’s good for our active-duty Airmen to understand the differences between the statuses of reservists,” Henigin said. “It allows for them to be better informed, and can enhance continuum of service for these Airmen if they decide to separate from active duty.”

A lot of reservists have been in the force support career fields for a long time, said Johnson. They bring years of experience and knowledge on the systems and processes. There is stability that comes from having Reserve Airmen embedded with active duty because they create continuity, when there is turn over on the active-duty side.

“They are the anchor for a quicker battle rhythm,” she added.

The commanders expect that the traditional reservist personnel specialists will benefit from jumping into this new environment on annual tour.

“I think the vitality of the young Airmen will invigorate the reservists when they come in,” Labrecque said. “We expect this to be a huge morale booster.”

“It’s like the first day of school: we’re a little nervous, but mostly excited” Henigin said.

The commanders wanted to make clear that neither unit would disappear. Squadron identities were not going away and chains of command will stay the same.

“We are still the 60th and the 349th,” Henigin said. “But, we are the Total Force Support Squadron.”

Day-to-day operations would be together, and disciplinary actions would be under the prospective chain of command, Labrecque said.

The training plan for the move already began a few months ago, when Henigin sent a few 60th FSS members to work at the 349th FSS to get familiar with their processes.

“Training will be the key factor in this,” Labrecque said. “We have our master training plan and will be going through that. The most important thing for people to know is that it will be OK.”

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