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February Commander's Corner

Col. Lorenda Keck, 169th Mission Support Group Commander at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., poses for her portrait Feb. 1, 2013.
(National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson/Released)

Col. Lorenda Keck, 169th Mission Support Group Commander at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., poses for her portrait Feb. 1, 2013. (National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson/Released)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- Hello Swamp Foxes! Wow! It's been a little over a year since I became the Mission Support Group Commander and what a year it has been! As I visit around the base, I have found that many do not necessarily understand what the Mission Support Group (MSG) is, or what we do, so I'd like to conduct a little MSG 101 for you. The MSG currently consists of 354 personnel assigned to four Squadrons, one Flight and the Group. These include Force Support Squadron (FSS - Personnel and Services), Communications Flight (CF - including Eagle Vision), Civil Engineering Squadron (CES - includes Environmental, Fire Department and Emergency Management), Security Forces Squadron (SFS), Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) and Base Contracting. These organizations provide a lot of the support we normally take for granted; however the support we provide is essential to the accomplishment of the wing's mission. I'd like to take this opportunity to not only educate, but to brag on some of our many accomplishments and highlight a few challenges for the upcoming year.

It's impossible to not be impacted by the efforts of the MSG. The communications personnel have worked infrastructure modernization activities to the tune of about $8 million in technological upgrades. Our CF personnel provide you access to all the technology that we have grown accustomed to and depend upon to perform our duties. Because of their efforts, McEntire is positioned for communications growth for the next 10 years! Our Civil Engineering personnel have been busy managing construction and future design projects to the tune of over $60 million over the past few years! Their efforts have positioned us nicely as we pursue future missions and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. We have also made large strides towards energy conservation efforts and environmental awareness throughout the base. Our Environmental team was recognized with the prestigious national Pollution and Prevention (P2) Award for their environmental stewardship efforts.

Last year, the MSG overcame one of our biggest challenges; successfully preparing and deploying our aviation package for their Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) tasking. Our units came together before and after to make this deployment the most efficient in the wing's history. Our SFS Combat Arms section trained 456 deployers on weapons qualifications. LRS personnel, along with contracting, purchased and issued all required uniforms and equipment. Tasked to set up required activities to minimize wasted time, both on the departure and return side, we successfully qualified 503 personnel and processed 95.7 short tons of cargo with no shortfalls and zero incidents. On the re-deployment, we processed the main body in a record 2 hours and 3 minutes and deployed members received their DD 214s within a month of their return, a first in SCANG history! This accomplishment was achieved due to the dedication and hard work of the FSS and LRS personnel. At home, our SFS support of the Aerospace Control Alert (ACA) mission excelled. They were recognized for creating a "model physical security program for securing ACA assets" and applauded for "already having a premiere ACA site" during an inspection last fall.

Although several MSG personnel shared the stage with our aviation package, most of our MSG units deploy separately. Two LRS officers, including the LRS commander and 17 CES members (Firefighters, host nation escorts, emergency management, CE officers) deployed for six month taskings to various forward locations. Additionally, one of our contracting specialists was tasked to deploy in early 2012. On the horizon, 26 SFS personnel will deploy in February and the FSS commander is scheduled to deploy the end of January. Without a doubt, we too are making our contributions to the global war on terrorism.

As we begin our preparations for the upcoming Phase I/Phase II Operational Readiness Inspection this coming November, we are fortunate to have had a number of our key personnel with real world deployed experience. The MSG units have a lot of responsibilities and tasking for the inspection. Not only do we have unit specific requirements to meet, but have overall responsibility for the entire Phase I process, which includes successfully deploying personnel and equipment within a specific timeframe with all the proper documentation. During Phase II, MSG units have key roles in areas like personnel accountability and emergency management efforts. Additionally, MSG units are graded on how well we train the base to react to scenarios like chemical and cyber attacks, active shooters, SELARM, etc; developing plans to account for personnel and dealing with casualties, resource protection, parking and feeding of personnel, bus routes, etc.

We have a number of new personnel assigned to key positions, but, we have been told over and over that the inspection is an open book test. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to learn the grading criteria for our areas and take advantage of the OREs scheduled throughout the year to identify shortfalls, practice our responses to inputs and perfect the way we expect to perform. Communication is paramount. We need to ensure our newest airmen are aware that they play a key role in our success and empower them to make the contributions that will help us win the fight. We need to identify what information needs to be shared, the means to communicate them, and then make sure those involved are trained on the process. It will take a lot of teamwork, practice and patience to overcome these challenges.

Hopefully, this MSG 101 has given you a better appreciation of our MSG. In short, if you were to ask yourself this question, "What would it take to run a small city and provide basic human needs?" Your Mission Support Group! I am extremely proud of each and every one of our members and am confident we will do our part to continue the Swamp Fox tradition of always being first. We are part of a winning team, the FW team.....Let's put our game faces on and just do it! I'll see you all out on the play field!