OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --
The 55th Wing commemorated their A-Staff’s initial operating capability with a celebration at the Warhawk Community Center Jan. 17, 2023.
The A-Staff’s IOC comes after months of planning and will usher in a new era for the Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth.
“The [A-Staff directors] took a vision that we laid out and in a short amount of time translated it to fit within our wing,” said Col. Kristen Thompson, 55th Wing commander. “They have turned struggles into success and made the impossible look easy, and I’m incredibly thankful for that.”
As part of the Air Force’s overall changes to how the service will operate, train and equip for the future operating environment, Air Combat Command implemented a new force generation model, which required its wings to establish A-Staffs.
“Change in our organizational construct in how we command and control our wing is a national imperative and not just a mandate from our senior leadership,” Thompson said. “Seventy-five years of Air Force existence has taught us…we have to be ready for crisis before crisis, conflict before conflict, and our A-Staff is designed to do just that.”
The A-Staff is a staff structure used instead of the more traditional Air Force staff designations, like groups and squadrons, to identify the Air Force component staff equivalents of the corresponding J-staff functions more readily.
However, the 55th Wing’s group and squadrons are not going away. They will continue to play an essential role in the day-to-day operations of the wing, while the A-Staff will be to focus on developing or contributing to the wing’s plans and orders, as well as resource advocacy, resource allocation, higher headquarters interface, and program management of wing programs.
“We have over 10,000 Airmen across six locations and 10 time zones, so we need a staff who’ll help centralize those resources and information,” Thompson said.
While heavily invested in the 55th Wing’s Lead Wing’s responsibilities, the A-Staff will remain in a ready state to allow the wing to easily be plugged into any existing joint command and control structure and provide expeditionary wing-echelon command and control for subordinate forces in a contested environment.
“There’s really two pieces to an A-Staff,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Glass, 55th Wing chief of staff. “We have the A-Staff where the in-garrison functions happen and then we have the Lead Wing components that are associated with getting ready for combat. Both of those are extremely challenging and we’re [standing them up] simultaneously, which is a difficult task.”
Next up for the A-Staff will be working towards achieving full operational capability over the next several years.