Team McConnell unifies installation command post

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Preston Webb
  • 931st Air Refueling Wing

In recent years, the United States Air Force began making strides toward the concept of total force integration. That is, aligning the priorities and efforts of the active-duty, guard and reserve components to complete a unified mission.

While each unit plays its own unique role supporting the Air Force core missions — air and space superiority; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; rapid global mobility; global strike; and command and control —the Air Force Reserve 931st Air Refueling Wing and the 22nd Air Refueling Wing have combined their command and control efforts into a single, cohesive operation.

Transitioning the 931 ARW from a group into the wing it is today meant additional command and control presence was needed to manage increasing roles and responsibilities.

“Up until the 931st became a wing, [we] didn’t have much of a role at all in Command Post here at McConnell [AFB] because [we] were a reserve unit more or less under an active duty wing,” said Lt. Col. Michael Rambo, Air Force Reserve 931st Command Post chief. “Becoming a wing, especially one that would be operating the KC-46 [Pegasus], it became necessary for the 931st to have its own command [post] capability as well.”

Rather than “reinventing the wheel” as Rambo puts it, the best solution from the ground up, was to integrate personnel from both units into a single command post.
Joining together Active Duty personnel, Active Guard Reservists, and Traditional Reservists the unit intends to take a unified approach to command and control.

“From the beginning, it made the most sense to have an integrated command post,” Rambo said. “The 931st and the 22nd utilize the same aircraft, so not only did it drive the convenience of having a single command and control authority of the McConnell command post instead of the 931st or the 22nd, but it drives unit cohesion between two units that essentially provide the same mission.”

After identifying differences in the day-to-day operations and personnel management, the wings created a memorandum of agreement addressing differences and assigning responsibilities to bridge the gap between components.

“There’s a difference between how active-duty and reserves handle certain situations, such as proficiency on a console and how long shifts are allowed to be,” Rambo said. “So we created a memorandum in which we identified all these differences and how we would resolve each one. It described what the 931st would be responsible for and what the 22nd would be responsible for, once both commanders signed-off on that it brought everything together.”
Despite difference in personnel management, the handling of core day-to-day command post duties is handled identically by both sides.

“Operation of the command post, the command and control function, are exactly the same between the active duty and the reserves. They aren’t going to handle those functions any differently,” Rambo said “Where it diverges, is the tactical control level, such as scheduling shifts or knowing who approves leave.”

While both missions have nearly identical operations, the memorandum of agreement acknowledges their distinction and requirement for certain separate systems, but that doesn’t keep Airmen like Tech. Sgt. Melissa Rose, 931 ARW command post craftsman, from integrating with her counterparts.

“One difference is we have to have separate computer systems, but we are truly TFI —I train their people, they train mine,” said Tech. Sgt. Melissa Rose, 931st Air Refueling Wing command post craftsman. “For instance, I’m [Active Guard Reserve], my [Officer in Charge] is a [Traditional Reservist], and I work with Active Duty every day.”

These integrations empowered Team McConnell command post to enable both the 931 ARW and 22 ARW missions seamlessly, embodying the mission of total force integration.

“While Command Post isn’t out performing refueling, or working on the aircraft and has a behind-closed-doors mission, it’s still absolutely critical to mission success,” Rambo said. “It’s very important that we express the role Command Post plays to the rest of the unit, and I think we’ve done that.”

Proactive integrations from units like the Team McConnell command post continue to streamline and prepare the installation for the KC-46 Pegasus arrival. Team McConnell will continue to pioneer Rapid Global Mobility.