Mountain Home to Test New Air Combat Command Wing Structure

MSgt. Adam Zakrzewski, 366th Maintenance Group load standardization crew memeber, inspects a load on a 428th Aircraft Maintenance Unit's F-15E Strike Eagle during a load competition Oct. 14, 2016, at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. 366 FW photo by Airman Jeremy Wolff.

The 366th Fighter Wing at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, this month will start testing a new organizational structure, removing commanders, cutting a group, and realigning maintenance units to make the wing more deployable.

The structure, which stemmed from Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mike Holmes, will remove four colonels from their roles as group commanders and a colonel vice commander, and instead have squadron commanders report directly to the wing commander. Two wing deputy commanders will help evaluate squadron operations and deconflict decisions, according to an Air Combat Command release. This move delegates group commander authorities down to the squadron level as a step to “build strong leaders and create a direct supervisory line from the squadron commander to the wing commander,” ACC said in a statement to Air Force Magazine.

The reorganization eliminates the 366th Maintenance Group and the 366th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and instead each aircraft maintenance unit for each fighter squadron will align with the fighter squadrons themselves. This will provide a “unity of effort through a director of maintenance having oversight of sortie generation and support for that squadron’s operations,” according to ACC. Maintenance officers in the Equipment and Component Maintenance Squadron now report to the wing instead of the maintenance group. This also goes for the mission support squadron.

The commander of the medical group will now be the Wing Surgeon General, keeping readiness and family advocacy functions and command authorities for medical squadrons. These can be pushed down to the squadrons over time.

The wing will also provide an “A-staff” under a chief of staff to coordinate between higher headquarters for training and equipping.

This test is “manning neutral,” meaning there will not be “appreciable gains or losses” in manning at Mountain Home, ACC said in the statement. The wing is working with the union office, the Civilian Personnel Office, and the Air Force Personnel Center to plan personnel actions, such as performance reports, awards, and duties among others. The test will not impact enlisted airmen below the level of chief master sergeant, ACC said.

The Mountain Home experiment is “about our desire to improve lethality and create an environment where leaders are empowered to lead and squadron personnel can focus on their core missions,” Holmes said in the release

Mountain Home was selected for the test because it is a “one base/one wing” arrangement—there is not an integrated reserve element or an Air Base Wing tasked with running the base.

“This made the 366 FW a relatively clean test case that would help us learn lessons about whether and how to apply structural changes to more complicated organizations,” ACC spokesman Capt. Luke Nimmo said in a statement.

The move is the latest in a series of steps by the Air Force to revitalize the squadrons in the service, one of Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein’s top three focus areas. It is an attempt by Holmes to “find a better way” to breathe new life into squadrons through the command structure, according to ACC.