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Tyndall FSS supports 800 Airmen at Checkered Flag 17-1

Tammi Nichols, 325th Force Support Squadron food service assistant, prepares a plate for an Airman at the Berg-Lilles Dining Facility at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Dec. 9, 2016. The 325th FSS is tasked with providing essential services to more than 800 personnel during Checkered Flag17-1/Combat Archer 17-1. (U.S. Air force photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen/Released)

Tammi Nichols, 325th Force Support Squadron food service assistant, prepares a plate for an Airman at the Berg-Lilles Dining Facility at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Dec. 9, 2016. The 325th FSS is tasked with providing essential services to more than 800 personnel during combine aerial exercise Checkered Flag17-1 and Combat Archer 17-1. (U.S. Air force photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

As Checkered Flag 17-1 and Combat Archer 17-3 combined large scale aerial exercise kicked off Dec. 5, Tyndall braced for an influx of aircraft, units and the Air Force’s most valued asset -- Airmen.

More than 800 additional Airmen joined Team Tyndall during the exercises, and the 325th Force Support Squadron provided them the necessary amenities such as lodging and sustenance.

“Our facility managers work hard to prepare for events such as Checkered Flag to ensure our folks are trained and ready for increased customer flow and workloads,” said Maj. Rose Englebert, 325th FSS commander.

Combining the exercises Checkered Flag and Combat Archer saves the Air Force money and resources. For the 325th FSS, it also makes planning a little easier.

“The benefit of combining Checkered Flag and Combat Archer is fiscal efficiency; we’re able to do two things at one time for the same cost, and it saves time for each of the individual units, because it helps us reduce the operations tempo,” said Col. Randall Cason, 325th Air Expeditionary Wing commander.

If the exercises were not combined, it would mean double the amount of operations. In today’s Air Force, the need to be more financially and operationally efficient is at an all-time high, Cason said.

To prepare for exercises like these, the squadron’s dining facilities stock up on supplies and prepare lodging facilities for the increased capacity.

“Pre-planning has assisted with avoiding unnecessary strain on the facility and personnel,” Englebert said.

Proper preparation has minimized strain on the dining facilities; however, the squadron’s lodging facilities have been heavily impacted.

“[Pressure] on the facility is drastically increased for the lodging reservations desk,” Englebert said. “Constant changes in reservations increases the workload approximately 30 percent, as more than 500 Checkered Flag participants are housed in contract quarters off-base.”

The Sand Dollar Inn is still required to maintain rooming lists and keep track of those members staying off base, Englebert continued.

“Housekeeping is feeling the brunt of the strain, as the occupancy rate has drastically increased," she said. "Currently, the Sand Dollar Inn is operating with a 25 personnel shortage in housekeepers

Despite the shortages and heavy workload, the facility is no stranger to the hard work.

“Lodging houses multiple large events and exercises throughout the year,” Englebert said. “The NCO Academy, Weapons System Evaluation Program and various distinguished visitor stays challenge this operation on a daily basis. As they are used to housing large numbers of personnel, the [facility] has plans in place to ensure the staff is taken care of and prepared for such influxes.”

While every unit on Tyndall can feel the impact of an exercise like Checkered Flag, the 325th FSS remains on the front lines of ensuring exercise success.

“I am very proud of the hard work the men and women in my squadron do on a daily basis,” Englebert said. “They work tirelessly to ensure the needs of all our customers are met, so they may go out and execute the mission. They are an outstanding group of individuals, who in my opinion, represent the very best the Air Force has to offer.”