Multiple deployments test 943d Mission Support Flight’s adaptability, resilience

  • Published
  • By Andre Trinidad, 943d Rescue Group Public Affairs

In support of worldwide Air Force and DoD operations, roughly one-third of the 943d Mission Support Flight’s forces have been deployed over the last two years with missions ranging from combat operations abroad to facilitating Afghanistan evacuees stateside.

Assigned to the 943d Rescue Group, the 943d MSF functions as a traditional Mission Support Group but with a fraction of the manpower with only 36 personnel to provide full spectrum combat search and rescue mission support. They’re responsible for four mission sets: logistics readiness, communications, training, and a satellite personnel office which functions as a small Force Support Squadron.

There are 400 people assigned to the 943d RQG, a geographically separated unit of the 920th Rescue Wing, but the communications and satellite personnel office supports over 1,400 Air Force reservists.

Airmen deployed with the 943d RQG’s HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters and the 920th Rescue Wing’s HC-130J Combat King II aircraft to support various training missions around the world.

However, Master Sgt. Fierro, 943d MSF system administrator, deployed with the 910th Airlift Wing, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, for six months including one month of pre-deployment training. During his deployment, Fierro supported U.S. Africa Command, Combined Joint Task Force and NATO allies as part of Operation Octave Quartz.

“It was a 24/7 flying mission in a combat zone and I was the only communications Airman there, so I had to be available at any moment. The expectations are much greater, so training is incredibly important. Every training opportunity counts,” said Fierro.

Another deployment mission came to the 943d MSF when they were called upon to deploy their communications Airmen to support Operation Allies Welcome at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, where they established a communications center.

“Not only are we called upon to support missions for our group and geographically separated wing but we’re also doing missions for other services. We also have some people who were sought out by other units because they have such great knowledge of their jobs within their community,” said Lt. Col. Steven Bursick, 943d MSF commander.

In the logistics section, six people deployed over the course of a year, one of whom deployed twice in 2022 and is embedded with the 943d Maintenance Squadron.

“The day-to-day operations at home station are similar to a deployed location; one big difference is where to source parts and equipment while deployed. When stateside, you’re training but you want to treat it as if it were really happening because when it is a real situation you don’t have time to wait on things, you must be able to respond as fast as possible,” said Regino.

While deployed, Regino was one of first to replace the out-going team and quickly managed to navigate the supply chain and make contacts with other supply entities in the area to find additional avenues of sourcing items quickly. His knowledge, skill and reputation led to senior leaders coming directly to him when they needed supplies.

During this deployment, he not only worked at a main operating base but also a forward operating site. Under the Air Force’s new initiative for agile combat employment, a MOB is an established facility, whereas a FOS is a temporary location from which operations are employed and can quickly be relocated.

“I learned how to ration supplies and equipment, hold on to whatever assets I had and reup when I could. I was in the middle of nowhere,” said Regino.

Lt. Col. Bursick explained that the logistics and supply side of the 943d MSF are ready for the ACE construct and, as part of the 943d RQG, the team is accustomed to the demands and challenges Airmen are faced with when operating in austere environments with limited supplies.

The latest opportunity for the communication flight is deploying to a forward location where there is no established base providing cellphone reception, computers, internet, and electricity. This deployment will test their ability to efficiently establish a working communications infrastructure within four hours of arriving.

“The 943d MSF is preparing for the next level fight by engaging in more exercises, training, and deployments. The performance and accomplishments of my Airmen have not gone unnoticed,” said Bursick.

The 943d RQG executes the 920th RQW mission to plan, lead, and conduct military rescue operations and missions to deny competitors and adversaries exploitation of isolated personnel. Air Force rescue is the only DoD entity specifically organized, trained, and equipped to conduct personnel recovery operations into hostile or denied areas as a primary mission.