MSG serves Maxwell-Gunter in many ways

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The 42nd Mission Support Group's acting director said the Maxwell-Gunter community is served by the group in a number of ways.

Chris Prewitt, who is the MSG deputy director for installation support and running the daily MSG operation while Col. John Costa, 42nd MSG commander, is deployed, said her organization provides, "foundational support to the base, or the kind of support people expect to have."

"Contracting; communications; airfield operations; the Mission Support Squadron; logistics and readiness; 42nd Security Forces Squadron; and base civil engineering all fall under MSG," she said. "Lodging, food, deployment preparation, support for families, welcoming people to the base, youth services and child development centers: these are all functions of MSG."

Ms. Prewitt, a retired Air Force colonel who piloted medical evacuation missions and commanded at the group and squadron levels, said it's the people that make an organization, and the people of MSG are "terrific" to work with. They work hard; endure numerous deployments which result in under-manning; and have great ideas on how to make Maxwell-Gunter "as tremendous as it can be." She said an example of how MSG people work together for the benefit of the base is the June merger of the mission support squadron and services to become the 42nd Force Support Squadron. Ms. Prewitt said the FSS will have more than 800 people working together to help MSG be more efficient.

"I like the job I'm doing, but I want to say that without the help of people like my secretary Lela McCoy, resources advisor John Pruitt; MSG superintendent Chief Master Sgt. Nathan Turner; Lt. Col. Joe Abel, the squadron and flight commanders and many, many others, my job at MSG would be far more difficult," she said.

Ms. Prewitt said the 42nd Security Forces Squadron has several initiatives in the works that will affect base members, employees and residents. These include renovation of the military working dog kennel; renovation and addition of staff to the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance facility; the Integrated Base Defense program; and the squadron's use of total force assets.

"The 42nd SFS has a vital mission at Maxwell-Gunter," she said. "Their deployment level is very high, but they are doing a lot with very limited resources."

Maj. Troy Austin, 42nd SFS commander, said each of the planned initiatives is important to security force and will help make the unit more efficient and effective. He said an additional initiative of importance at SFS is the law enforcement desk, or LED, becoming the Base Defense Operations Center, or BDOC.

The BDOC

"The current LED facility at the squadron is being renovated and supplied with better equipment, such as touch-screen maps and high-tech radio systems, as well as re-designated as the BDOC," he said. "The future of BDOC will utilize three phases of operation. The current phase at the squadron concentrates on the controller and enabling them to control everything from a single vantage point as well as a single interface (ie. touch screen displays). The second phase will involve transmission of the maps and critical information to the on-scene incident commander. The final phase will allow all emergency response vehicles to see what the incident commander and BDOC sees but also automatically transmit their location back to the control center in real time. Obviously this information is police sensitive and we are working with Maxwell's finest in the Communication Flight to ensure the data is secured properly. "

Military Working Dog Kennel

Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Curl, 42nd SFS kennel master, said deficiencies, such as problems with the perimeter fence; exercise area; exterior parking and storage; and a veterinary treatment room, will be corrected by renovations to the base's kennel.

"The $1.1 million renovation is being funded by Air Education and Training Command, and will bring the facility into compliance with the military working dog design guide," he said. "The project involves fixing up the existing structure and constructing new sections as part of the kennel expansion. When completed, this will be a state-of-the-art kennel facility.."

CATM

Tech. Sgt. Michael Oliver, 42nd SFS NCO in charge of combat arms, said reconstruction of the CATM facility is a $15.5 million endeavor and is necessary to meet the ever increasing arms training needs of Maxwell-Gunter students.

"The firing range was originally built to train about 2,000 students each year, but because of an emphasis on better officer arms training, that number of students rose to more than 10,000 last year," he said. "Training Air and Space Basic Course students and Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets has greatly increased the number of students going through CATM each year."

Sergeant Oliver said the staff will almost triple, and the number of firing positions on the range will increase from 27 to 84 once the new facility is completed. Major Austin added that Maxwell-Gunter is second only to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in the number of students being put through arms training.

Total Force

Major Austin said the base has received high accolades from high-ranking officials about its total force approach to overcoming manning shortfalls. For example, the Air Force's director of Security Forces, Brig. Gen. Mary Kay Hertog, stated the squadron's integration was the "best she had seen" and the AETC Inspector General described the program as "exceptional teamwork and in perfect sync."

"This got started because our deployment cycle is one-for-one, which means we deploy for six month, return for six months, then deploy again," he said. "We noted a lack of continuity in a majority of our critical SFS positions, so we began to look at the quality and background of the Air Reserve Component Volunteers, or ARCv (individual mobilization augmentees, Air Force Reserve members and Air National Guard personnel), and civilians integrated into the 42nd SFS and began using them to fill the roles traditionally reserved for core 3P security forces members. Working with the skills and talents of the individuals has proven to strengthen the units as well as allow SF programs to benefit from having the same managers. The integration is so complete, the ARCv members are even volunteering to deploy in place of core SF members giving at least some of them more time at home with their families. I am very proud of the all the members in this unit."

Master Sgt. Scott King, 42nd SFS operations superintendent, said he is "especially proud" of how well the integration of augmentee members with active-duty personnel has worked. Carl Howard, 42nd SFS chief of training, said the current Southeastern gate guards will soon be gone from the base, and the squadron will be supplemented by Department of Defense police officers. The officers will augment active-duty personnel and have the same authority and responsibilities as those security forces members.

"The augmentee program, which is managed by the 42nd Mission Support Squadron and hosted by the 42nd Air Base Wing commander, is a big help," he said. "They send us Airmen, and we train them. We will soon be training another 22 augmentees for the squadron."

Integrate Base Defense

Sergeant King said the Integrated Base Defense, or IBD, program with its goal of getting the Maxwell-Gunter community more involved in the defense of the base, is coming along well.

"We will be getting out of our vehicles and walking among base members in an effort to get to know the base community we serve," he said. "We can't do the job by ourselves and want to reach out to military members, civilians, contractors and base residents for their help."

Ms. Prewitt said IBD is an outstanding idea that will prove to be a great asset to the 42nd SFS and the base community.

"Once you build that rapport between security forces and base members, suspicious events are much more likely to be reported to 42nd SFS," she said. "That is nothing short of good defense for the base."