Thursday, December 6, 2007

TOP STORY >>348th Recruiting Squadron to close it doors

By Staff Sgt. Juan Torres
314th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 348th Recruiting Squadron will officially close its doors Dec. 31 under the Air Force Recruiting Service’s restructuring plans.

“The recruiting service, which was previously comprised of four groups and 28 squadrons worldwide, will be reorganizing and downsizing to three groups and 24 squadrons due to new budgeting requirements that were first announced at the end of 2005,” said Lt. Col. Ken Walters, the 348 RCS commander.

While the squadron will close its doors Dec. 31, its recruiting mission officially ended Sept. 31 with other squadrons in the geographic area absorbing its recruiting responsibilities in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

“One of the main factors that led to close our squadron was based on our ability to split our area of responsibility geographically and be easily absorbed into other existing squadrons,” said Chief Master Sgt. Terry Ford, the 348 RCS superintendent.

Another factor that led to the 348 RCS being selected for closure was their manning status. The 348 RCS was had already been projected to lose nearly 50 percent of its manning due to a variety of reasons including personnel changing duty stations, retiring and separating. The 348 RCS had also previously closed or combined recruiting flights that were damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

“We were originally scheduled to close next year,” said Chief Ford. “Due to our manpower status we were chosen to close earlier as a test bed for the three other recruiting squadrons that will close in the future.”

“As the first recruiting squadron to close, our goal was to develop a draw down plan for the three other squadrons and the group that will close in the future and to be able to brief the command about lessons learned in the process,” said Colonel Walters.

Colonel Walters will bring his experience to the 367th Recruiting Group at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, to assist in completing its transition.

After the squadron officially closes its doors Dec. 31, the 714th Training Squadron will move into one of the few buildings that existed in the area before the base itself. Building 620 originally stood where the wing’s headquarters is now and was used as a railroad depot building.

“Our deactivation ceremony felt very somber; the room was full sad faces,” said Chief Ford, who is closing his first squadron in 27 years of service. “People knew it was the end of an era.”

“As a commander that works closely with their troops, you have to be able to see the situation from both sides,” said Colonel Walters. “On one hand it’s a significant emotional event to close a unit, but when you look at what the senior leadership has decided, you can see that it really is in the best interests of the Air Force.”

“Due to the restructuring, we’re getting smaller and budgets are shrinking,” he said. “As our resources change, we will have to learn to do our jobs even more efficiently.”


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