MOODY AIR FORCE BASE -- The 347th Rescue Wing set the standard for the rest of the Air Force when it redesignated its support group as the 347th Mission Support Group during a ceremony on Friday.

The redesignation is part of an organizational restructuring that is scheduled to begin Air Force-wide on Oct. 1. It's part of an initiative mandated by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper last spring.

The plan is for all Air Force installations to standardize their wing organizations and better streamline operations and war-fighting capabilities. The target date for the Air Force to complete its transitions is Sept. 30, 2003, according to Air Force officials.

There is another reorganization scheduled at Moody on Aug. 29, when the 347th Logistic Group will become the new 347th Maintenance Group.

The redesignation ceremony Friday wasn't typical of ceremonies recently held at Moody. The 347th Contracting and Logistics Readiness squadrons were assigned to the 347th MSG. In addition, the 347th Transportation Squadron was inactivated and the 347th Supply Squadron was redesignated as the 347th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

Col. J.C. Cantrell III, commander 347th Mission Support Group, said the command structure that existed prior to Friday came into effect after Desert Storm. The designation of the Mission Support Group of bringing all the functions together responsible for mobility and deployment of home station and deployed locations base operations has been re-established as a better way to do business, he said.

"It wasn't that anything was broken, it was simply that our senior leadership recognized a better way to do business," Cantrell said.

Personnel in operations squadrons can now concentrate on going into combat and planning and executing their air power missions. Operation groups no longer oversee maintenance personnel under the new system.

Under the new system, the flyers can focus on flying and the maintainers can focus on fixing the airplanes, Cantrell said. He wants his mission support group to focus on everything else that lets the fliers and maintainers to their jobs.

Under the new system most wings on Air Force bases will have four primary groups: Operations, maintenance, mission support and medical.

The 347th MSG will not only support the 347th Rescue Wing, but the tenant units on base as well, to include the 479th Flying Training Group and the 820th Security Forces Group, Cantrell said.

The 347th Support Group had supported these units before, that was the team concept, he said. However, under the new system the 347th MSG will be even more closely integrated supporting their functions as well, Cantrell said.

Cantrell referred to Friday as "a great day." The men and women of the 347th MSG are now the largest group on Moody AFB, he said. Prior to the reorganization the old 347th Support Group had about 900 personnel assigned. The numbers will increase to about 1,200 personnel assigned to the 347th MSG, Cantrell said.

"Those men and women just did a superb job today, and they've always done a superb job in performing their duties," Cantrell said. "I'm absolutely certain that their efforts are going to really make the goal of enabling combat air and space power a reality. The numbers mean an increased responsibility for Cantrell, and he's prepared to take them on. He has a great staff and superb commanders who will carry the load, he said.

"Everything they do makes the wing and squadrons and the group work," Cantrell said. "This wing is going to fly."

To contact reporter Rip Prine, please call 244-3400, ext. 237.

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