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Civilian employees essential to 910th mission success

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Chris Corso
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

It’s Thursday before the February Unit Training Assembly weekend at Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio. More than 1000 Reserve Citizen Airmen will descend upon the installation soon. But with a sheet of ice on the ground and forecasts calling for anywhere from six to 12 inches of snow in the next 24 hours, wing leadership is meeting to determine the best course of action. Before the weather gets any worse, a large crew sets to work, clearing roads, parking lots and entrances to ensure that Airmen will make it to training safely.

These hard-working men and women aren’t Airmen in uniform. They are civilian contractors. Without the additional dedication of the civilian employees at YARS, many Air Force missions would not be completed.

A civilian workforce has long been a major part of the United States Air Force and continues to be a huge part of YARS. With over 180 civilian workers and about another 190 Air Reserve Technicians, the impact of their work touches every part of the installation on a daily basis.

There are several different types of civilian employees at the air station. Department of Defense civil servants work in many functions including administrative, airfield management, public affairs, legal, civil engineering, firefighting, physical security and more. Air Reserve Technicians, who are a hybrid of a DoD civil servant and a U.S. Air Force Reservist, are primarily responsible for the readiness of Traditional Reservists and work in every squadron across the 910th including medical, the group offices and wing staff.

Non-Appropriated Funds employees work in the Community Activity Center and the Eagle’s Nest Lodge to provide morale, welfare and recreational services to the Airmen of YARS as well as retirees and visitors to the installation.

Contractors work in several functions including base civil engineering, logistics and communications, providing essential functions such as snow plowing, supply, vehicle operations/maintenance, building renovations, cyber support and more.

Civilians also staff tenant organizations like the Army and Air Force Exchange Service base exchange and the credit union branch.

“The civilian force is critical to our overall mission. So when I talk about Airmen…they all make up part of the team,” said Col. Jeff Van Dootingh, commander of the 910th Airlift Wing. “If you take any one of those out of the equation, we can’t really get our mission done.”

Ray Kuneli, the chief of civilian personnel, whose office supports the DoD civilian employees and ARTs, understands how they are integrated into the Airmen with a “big A” concept, setting Airmen up for mission success.

“What really drives the culture of the organization is how the civilians integrate with the traditional reservists and how we set you guys up for success,” said Kuneli. “We need to make sure that we have the right people in the right seats on the right bus to help our team be successful, because the full-time force is really the one that helps lay the foundation for the reserve to get it done.”

With over 321 acres of property and 71 buildings at YARS, it takes the dedication and hard work of every civilian employee to keep the base functioning and mission-ready.

As the commander of the 910th Mission Support Group, Col. Greg Meyer oversees all contracted agencies and has seen first-hand how civilians contribute to day-to-day duties, even in emergencies.

“When the base suffered a gas leak, our civilians were there,” said Meyer. “When we suffered damage from this past spring’s rainstorm, it was our civilians who ensured facility and fence line repair, removed downed trees and cleared roadways. The bottom line is this base could not perform without our civilian Airmen.”

The civilians have been a part of the United States military since its inception. Although their work may not be recognized as often, they are essential to everything the military has done and will do in the future and play a big part in keeping the 910th ‘Combat ready NOW…for tomorrow’s fight!’