Year of change: Attack, rescue, protect become main themes of Moody’s transformation

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Eric Schloeffel
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
Several transitions marked 2006 as a year of change for Moody, as the base ushered in not only a new wing and joined a new major command, but also added missions.

With an Air Force currently experiencing reductions in force, Moody's near-future reflects the opposite with increases in both operations and manpower.

"For all intents and purposes, the 23rd Wing is the size of two standard Air Force wings," said Col. Joe Callahan, 23rd Wing commander. "To put things in perspective, the average Air Force wing, that owns a base, consists of four groups - operations, maintenance, mission support and medical. The 23rd Wing consists of seven groups and certainly does the work of two wings."

The culmination of these changes officially occurred Oct. 1, as the 347th Rescue Wing was re-designated to the 23rd Wing.

With the changes, the wing now includes the 23rd Fighter Group and 820th Security Forces Group, along with the Avon Park Range in central Florida. The wing grew by approximately 2,000 Airmen.

This new era for Moody can be described with the phrase "attack, rescue, protect," as units take on an intense combat role unique to typical Air Force responsibilities, said Colonel Callahan.

"The 23rd Wing now focuses on the missions of attack, rescue and protect, and the key theme that runs throughout is the 'Battlefield Airman,'" he said. "Whether it is the A-10s providing direct support to the Airman on the ground, rescue units conducting combat search and rescue and medical evacuation missions, or our security forces units taking the fight to the enemy on the battlefield - the 23rd Wing has emerged as a ground combat-oriented organization."

As Moody accepts its new missions, the wing will undergo new construction and additions, preparing for the eventual arrival of more than 50 A-10s, said Colonel Callahan.

"(In 2007) the bed down of the A-10C will probably be our biggest focus," he said. "Construction projects are considerable and will be more than anything the base has seen since it stood up in the early 1940s. Normally we have $5 million to $15 million in construction each year, but those dollar figures will double or triple while we complete the bed down."

In addition to the re-designation, one of the most notable changes of 2006 occurred when the wing changed commands, said the colonel.

"The move to Air Combat Command was obviously one of the key moments of 2006," he said. "Though at the time, the basic mission of the 347th Rescue Wing did not change, the sudden transition from Air Force Special Operations Command to ACC certainly brought challenges to our wing."

The transition, which officially occurred April 3, was completed in just over a month's notice; a feat that proved Team Moody could quickly adjust despite challenging circumstances.

"New instructions, chain-of-command and even new patches were all a part of the realignment," said Colonel Callahan. "I was very impressed with the speed the wing was able to accomplish the task. The previous move from ACC to AFSOC in October 2003 was preceded by almost two years of preparation and training, but we accomplished this with only a month to prepare."

Though 2006 is soon coming to an end, a challenging period of deployments and sacrifices to support the mission will surely persist in the new year. But regardless of the circumstances, Moody Airmen have shown their ability to shine when faced with adversity, said Colonel Callahan.

"The key to success for all of us is seeing if we can sustain this level of surge operations until a partial drawdown can occur, and we can give our Airmen an opportunity to reconstitute," he said. "However, so far the men and women of the 23rd Wing have stepped forward to accept the responsibility."

But with the many changes occurring to Moody's mission and focus this past year, it is important for all Airmen to realize that revising, remaking, altering, varying and modifying is a constant occurrence of military life and operations, said Colonel Callahan.

"The biggest lesson, not really learned but rather reiterated, is that we always need to expect change," he said. "A year ago, if anyone had asked me how long the CSAR mission would remain under AFSOC, I would have answered, 'forever.' If I was asked if the wing would ever have a fighter group assigned to it, I would have said, 'never.'

"The Air Force is currently executing a considerable reduction in forces and a realignment of missions," the colonel added. "Though I doubt any of us can foresee all of the changes coming, we do need to be ready to respond and not be surprised by what 2007 has in store for us."