445th SFS achieved highest AFRC utilization rate in FY 2022

  • Published
  • By Capt. Rachel Ingram
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 445th Security Forces Squadron served a staggering 6,420 man-days on deployments in fiscal year 2022, the highest usage rate of all security forces squadrons in the Air Force Reserve Command.

“The squadron has 57 deployable positions and we deployed 41 individuals in fiscal year 2022,” said Tech. Sgt. Jon Prather, 445th SFS unit deployment manager.

At 72%, it was the highest utilization rate among all AFRC security forces squadrons that year.

Typically, the utilization standard is 30%, dropping in 2018 from the previous standard of 50%, he said. For example, a security forces squadron with 100 Airmen in deployable positions would be expected to deploy 30 of those individuals when called upon.

Based on the number of Airmen assigned to the 445th SFS in deployable positions, they were expected to deploy 20 individuals during 2022. Instead, they more than doubled that output.

Most of the defenders were sent to one of three primary locations: Al Dhafra Air Base in United Arab Emirates, Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey to support Operation Allies Welcome.

Staff Sgt. Tommy Pham, 445th SFS fire team member, returned from a McGuire deployment in March 2022, and then a short-notice tasking came up to backfill a vacancy. The deployment date was less than 30 days out, so it could only be filled by a volunteer.

Squadron leadership started making phone calls. Pham said that when he picked up the phone, his response was ‘Let’s do this.’

“When you view everything as an opportunity, it’s easy to say yes,” Pham said.

A recent addition to the unit from active duty, Pham was home from his first 445th SFS deployment for less than 60 days before he left again, this time to complete a tour at Prince Sultan AB.

“The fact that someone voluntarily stepped up to fill that spot prevented us from having to go back to Headquarters Air Force and say, ‘We can’t support this,’” Prather said.

While at Prince Sultan AB, Pham worked 12-hour night shifts, a common occurrence in the career field.

Master Sgt. Josh McConnell was the squad leader over at Al Dhafra AB, where the shifts ranged from 12-14 hours long, with three days on and one day off.

“In my 17 years with the 445th SFS, I’ve never seen us spread so thin,” McConnell said.

Squadron leadership had already been tracking both overseas deployments well in advance, but Operation Allies Welcome came up unexpectedly, explained Senior Master Sgt. Justin Williams, superintendent of programs and readiness for the squadron.

“We had to come up with another 13 healthy bodies,” Williams said, noting that it was necessary for unit leadership to shuffle around dates and locations for many of the previously tasked defenders, resulting in some departure dates shifting to several months sooner than originally planned.

“Those folks really stepped up,” he added.

Both McConnell and Pham referenced camaraderie as the main catalyst for the squadron’s ability to deploy so many defenders in such a short amount of time.

“They were volunteering left and right to be part of the team and fill those voids,” McConnell said.

Because the squadron deploys in multi-member squads, comprised of smaller teams, strong relationships are key to mission success, he explained. Both at home station and while deployed, the 445th SFS routinely organizes team-building activities to strengthen their working relationships and unit efficacy.

“Deploying is tough,” Pham said, “but knowing your wingman on a personal level makes it easier to cope with all the transitions.”