Not Your Average Business: Force Support Squadron
When people think of the military, they think of “protect and serve,” but what if the military fits into a civilian business model? There is one squadron that often mirrors traditional business and even overlooks businesses that are contracted out to companies. That squadron is the Force Support Squadron (FSS). Most Air Force installations have an FSS; meant to support the military operations. The operational side is responsible for things like getting the planes in the air, and mission support enables the Airmen to do that. Programs that you may find in the FSS are childcare, administration, personnel (likened to human resources), dining, fitness center, and recreational services.
Like most businesses, the FSS requires an essential factor to conduct its business: money. There are two main types of funds. Appropriated funds are set aside by the government, allocated to the DOD, and then trickle down the different agencies until its budget reaches the squadron and decides how to divvy it up amongst the programs. Once the programs receive their budget, they can begin planning out events for the year, renovations that they would like to start, and resources they would like to obtain to make their facilities better. The other type of fund is the non-appropriated funds which are the profits that come from the money that the facility generates on its own. In the eyes of the government, these are “extracurricular “facilities. For example, on Yokota Air Base, there is a Chili’s restaurant. This facility helps raise morale by giving overseas members and their families a little taste of home. However, it is not a requirement for the installation but a nicety. Because of that, Chili’s uses the funds that it gets from their profits to manage their facility, have events, hire employees, and fund renovations. That’s a look at non-appropriated funds, but what about when the government gives the military money to carry-out business? First Lieutenant Days are the Deputy Flight Commander for the Sustainment Flight, “We hold intramural sports events, fitness challenges, and 5K and other runs. We have guidance on overall what that looks like, but we also have the latitude to make it unique for our customers. If customers request soccer season and we aren’t doing that, how can we get to yes is frequently our mindset”. They must follow their guidance and meat stay attentive to their customers’ requests. Lieutenant Days explains the fitness center’s process for hosting events, “Our first step is developing a concept, for example, let’s say we’ll host a March Madness 3v3 Basketball Tournament. Typically our concepts are oriented around either a particular season or a type of event. After we select that, our next step is to develop the marketing plan. Then we market and coordinate any sponsors. Then we execute.” The military is an interesting experience on its own, and when you pair it with business, there are some challenges and perks that most civilian businesses wouldn’t. “FSS is a very transactional job, and at times it is very demanding and stressful because we are on call to provide support 24/7,” says First Lieutenant Rodriguez, the Military Personnel Flight Commander in the FSS. “A perk of being FSS that you normally wouldn’t see in the civilian sector is the community established (overseas)... In the military, we are kind of forced to socialize and learn our counterparts within our location’s career field or those around the installation. It makes for a better work environment when there are people who not only help you succeed in your job but also those that challenge you to be better.” The Force Support Squadron is in the business of raising morale and supporting the members that carry
out the mission. As the Yokota FSS motto says, they are the “Best Serving the Best”!