MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Deployment tasking, training and Hurricane Michael disaster relief: squadrons housed within the 820th Base Defense Group (BDG) are currently accomplishing all three of these missions.
The 820th BDG’s mission is to provide high-risk force protection and integrated base defense for expeditionary air forces. To do this, they rotate each of their squadrons through six-month periods where they’re either training, on stand-by for a Global Response Force (GRF) tasking or deployed.
“The rotation is necessary to allow re-constitution and training for the next mission the BDG will be tasked with,” said Master Sgt. Nicholas Roberts, 822d Base Defense Squadron (BDS). “These Squadrons supply the Secretary of Defense a menu of options to respond to crisis around the world in defense of (Department of Defense) assets identified as critical to the mission at hand.”
The 822d, 823d and 824th Base Defense Squadrons take turns fulfilling these roles, but to do so, each squadron has to operate independently.
“We are self-sustaining for up to five days but have a host of organic capability which ranges from security forces Airmen to independent duty medical technicians, vehicle maintainers (and a lot more),” Roberts added. “These Airmen allow the mission to go (anywhere).
“Currently,” Roberts continued, “the 822d BDS is aiding the 325th Fighter Wing at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., in re-establishing integrated base defense following the devastation of Hurricane Michael. The 823d and 824th BDS are currently conducting relief-in-place in the AFRICOM theater.”
Airmen from the 823d BDS just returned home while Airmen from the 824th BDS took their place. Now, the 823d will go into training status for the next six-months in order to regain their certification as a GRF. Being in GRF allows the squadron to provide its capabilities in response to natural disasters or anywhere they can help, anywhere in the world.
“The rotation provides Combat Commanders with a ‘first-in’, steady rotation of air minded defenders who can prosecute an enemy across the vast swath of operational battle space in defense of his or her assets,” said Roberts. “Officers and SNCO's working together to ensure they have the right compliment of defenders to meet the commander’s intent.”
None of the squadrons can accomplish the mission without healthy Airmen that can rely on one another. That is why every job within the BDS work, train and deploy together for the duration of their time at the squadron.
“It affords an overall training environment that provides the interoperability which allows us to go down range and function as a team,” said Tech. Sgt. Chris Zavala, 822d squad leader. “Training together also allows us to learn each other’s jobs and be able to pick up and contribute to their mission when they are critically manned.”
In addition to the continuity these bonds provide, they also help the Airmen personally.
“We spend majority of the day with each other,” Zavala added. “Out of the 24 hours in the day we spend between eight and 15 together and that fortifies the bonds we already have. Knowing who they are as a person and building that bond between one another creates the loyalty between us. It creates that belief that any given person can be trusted to do the right thing and accomplish the mission.”
With accomplishing the mission at the forefront, the constant rotations for deployments, training and stressors of everyday life, Airmen within these high-tempo squadrons need one another.
“In my time I’ve never seen camaraderie like what is here in the 820th,” said MSgt Jesse Hall 822d BDS bravo flight chief. “It’s not just the Airmen within the unit, but the spouses and the dependents all take care of each other too. Knowing that everyone has each other’s back and will drop anything to help each other out is the best kind of peace of mind “