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CMSAF underscores need for 137th SOW multi-capable Airmen

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Brigette Waltermire
  • 137th Special Operations Wing

WILL ROGERS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, OK -- Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass saw firsthand how Citizen Airmen with the 137th Special Operations Wing set the Oklahoma Standard across the force during a visit Oct. 12, 2023.

She encouraged every service member she met to understand the “why” of the Air Force’s prioritization of learning multiple skill sets and becoming multi-capable Airmen, noting that the wing had leaned into the concept through its mission sustainment team.

“I hope you appreciate learning this skill set that we hopefully will never have to tap into,” Bass said. “We are more focused on reoptimization than we ever have been before. How do we reoptimize what the Air Force looks like to do the number one thing we are supposed to: defend our nation?”

She noted that the variety of civilian and military experience of Air National Guardsmen makes them ready-made to be formed into small mission teams, whether someone is a power production specialist in the Guard and a mechanic as a civilian, or a fireman in the Guard and a carpenter as a civilian. 

Staff Sgt. Anthony Hill, 137th SOW Mission Sustainment Team member, is a civil engineer Airman and policy analyst for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma as a civilian. He encountered the multi-capable Airman concept during a previous deployment to Africa where they did not have the equipment and training needed to rapidly establish a base for austere operations.

“The tent systems we were setting up were more difficult and heavier in design, it took a longer time to train individuals and assemble units with those different levels of experience, and they required a dedicated power grid,” he said. “The tent systems that are now part of our MST deployment package would have made a huge difference in sustaining the mission in that expeditionary environment.”

Discovering how to better equip Airmen for expedient operations in locations with limited resources has been the focus of the MST since its inception. A photo of the MST’s preliminary training activity was featured in the U.S. Air Force “Profession of Arms” as it calls for Airmen to serve in whatever form is needed to get the mission accomplished while meeting the expected standard of excellence.

“Our number one job is to deter,” Bass emphasized. “If deterrence does not succeed, we will make sure that we are able to compete and win. We are not fighting conflicts that we have before. We have to optimize ourselves in the information, space and cyber domains because if you lose in those things, you lose – period.”

Airmen with the 137th Special Operations Group have developed equipment to be compatible with an expeditionary warfare environment. On the tour, Bass encountered the mobile processing, exploitation and dissemination center, which was built to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in austere locations. 

“We were the first to develop this package,” said Tech. Sgt. Stephen Rosebrook, 285th Special Operations Intelligence Squadron, Oklahoma National Guard. “We have since trained active-duty special operations squadrons as well as partner nation forces.”

The 137th SOW mission is to provide forces organized, trained and equipped to support combatant commanders across the spectrum of conflict. Ensuring its citizen Air Commandos are prepared to deploy to the fight together anytime, anywhere, is a focus of the wing.

“We have got to reprioritze and reoptimize to make sure that we can continue deterring,” Bass said. “It is not our job to predict when challenges and crises and conflict will come, but it is our job to be ready today for anything.”