Home station warriors accomplish mission in absence of deployed teammates
By Capt. Kevin Tuttle, 45th SW Public Affairs
/ Published August 20, 2007
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Many might believe that a space launch wing might not be actively engaged in deploying Airmen for America's Global War on Terror, but such is not the case for the 45th Space Wing.
With more than 150 troops deployed in support of the war, the 45th Space Wing is not only provided highly-trained Airmen in theater, but is proving its capability and excellence in continuing its homestation missions with fewer personnel on a daily basis.
Many sections are affected by the loss of manpower, but continue to get the job done here at Patrick and the Cape by pulling together and using creative staffing initiatives and other avenues.
"We have seven people deployed, which is about one-third of our active duty folks," said Senior Master Sgt. Ian Bohnan, 45th Weather Squadron superintendent. "We have nine civilians who are not deployable, so they give us the stability others may not have. The workload doesn't change; there's the same amount of work for fewer people. But most of the staff workers spend longer hours working."
Utilizing the Air Force Reserve or Individual Mobilization Augmentees is another way the 45th SW manages its operations tempo.
"If it wasn't for the reservists, it would be pretty much impossible to do our mission," said Staff Sgt. Bobby Roseman, 45th Security Forces Squadron Plans and Programs noncommissioned officer-in-charge. With about 40-50 percent of the squadron deployed to various parts of the world in support of GWOT, reservists have stepped up and filled those slots, while ensuring a seamless transition, Roseman said.
Although increased workloads and longer hours can be part of the package, one commander says that while staff sergeants and technical sergeants are doing the jobs of master sergeants, his people wouldn't have it any other way.
"They like the opportunity to step up to bigger roles. It's a part of cost of the military we've accepted -- to ensure we win the Global War on Terrorism," said Capt. Robert Hubbs, 45th Military Personnel Flight commander. "My guys thrive on a challenge and right now it's a big challenge."
For the 45th Medical Group, deployments can be tricky in that some sections are only one-person deep. Therefore, when that person deploys, someone else has to fill that role. Such a case recently occurred when the lone base psychiatrist, Maj. (Dr.) Kellie Griffith was deployed.
"Patient safety is a top priority whenever one of our providers has a sudden absence for any reason," said Col. Florence Valley, 45th MDG commander. "In Doctor Griffith's case, we teamed with our TRICARE contractor Humana Military Healthcare Services to find providers in our area to take Doctor Griffith's patients. This same process has been used successfully in the past when we have had deployed primary care physicians."
With several launches scheduled for August and September, the 45th SW continues its dynamic spacelift mission. Those deployed either by rotation or by volunteering have the support necessary from their home unit to complete a vital mission.
"Our wing is not only supporting the war by training and deploying Airmen, but we continue to play a vital role with launching space systems that provide critical combat effects for combatant commanders in theater," said Brig. Gen. Susan Helms, 45th SW commander.
"I think the biggest thing since this has started is that most people are volunteers to go. They're away from home for four to eight months, but you don't have complaining from folks who have to work a few extra hours per week because they know their counterparts are doing the right thing," Sergeant Bohnen added.
"I'm extremely proud of the way Team Patrick has come together here at home while so many of our fellow Airmen are deployed. It says a lot about the professionalism and dedication of our Airmen and our volunteers. They're taking care of business during a stressful time and are clearly the best of the best," said General Helms.