The Future of Force Support

  • Published
  • By Major John Ponton
  • 81st Force Support Squadron
The media has been busy recently, reporting news of cuts in military and civilian personnel and resources. Keesler AFB units have not been immune to these reductions, and your Force Support Squadron has been hit harder than most organizations. A logical question is, what does the future hold regarding the many programs, services and events the Keesler community deserves and receives from their Manpower, Personnel and Services teams?

Fortunately, much of the answer is a simple one. The Military Personnel Section will still process ID cards, PCS orders, and continue to provide other mission essential services. The Manpower and Civilian Personnel sections will still help to ensure you have people in place to accomplish the mission. Your lodging and dining facility staffs will still provide comfort and outstanding service to our TDY, permanent party, and student residents. And of course critical mission areas such as mortuary affairs, fitness, and deployment processing must go on.

Where the uncertainty lies is the future of our recreational activities. Golf, Outdoor Recreation, Youth Centers, Child Development Centers, Arts and Crafts, Bowling, and Wood and Auto Hobby shops, among others, are all under immense scrutiny regarding their ability to be increasingly self-sustaining on a strictly financial basis. And while some of these activities have traditionally received at least some monetary support, that is no longer the case.

In keeping with this new mindset, and like every organization in the Air Force, your Force Support Squadron is being directed to realize efficiencies wherever possible. Traditional Services functions are being scrutinized as never before, and the reality is that those activities unable to remain financially self-sustaining are in danger of being lost. The good news is that much remains within our control. Residents of Team Keesler can help ensure the continued vitality of our recreational activities by playing an active role.

There is much you can do, such as considering the benefits of becoming a club member. Look for ways for you and your organization to partner with your Services activities, and volunteer your time whenever possible. Hold your group meetings at the bowling center for breakfast. At a time when our activities are being threatened, usage rates and profitability will be determining factors when the tough decisions are made. In essence, "you vote with your wallet," and every time you spend a dollar you are making it known what facilities you wish to remain open.

To be sure, these are times of uncertainty in the world of Force Support throughout the Air Force. While we are determined to provide outstanding services, facilities, and events to Team Keesler, our methods of delivery will inevitably change. In some cases, facilities may reduce hours, or conduct business by appointment. We will be leaner, more consolidated, and more integrated with similar providers located throughout the local community. The job will get done, but with less people and resources it will be done differently. We embrace the challenges that lie ahead as we strive to remain the best Force Support Squadron in the Air Force.