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A puzzle now complete

The 325th Operation Support Squadron, Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems Maintenance Flight stands on the Tyndall flight line next to a piece of equipment they maintain. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

The 325th Operation Support Squadron, Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems Maintenance Flight stands on the Tyndall flight line next to a piece of equipment they maintain. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- A puzzle takes concentration, dedication and a will to finish. Once completed, the puzzle takes a whole new form and the picture comes together.

The 325th Operations Support Squadron now has its final piece.

The 325th OSS Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems Maintenance Flight has officially switched squadrons from the 325th Communications Squadron to the 325th OSS.

ATCALS maintenance is charged with maintaining the airfield radar systems. These systems are critical in aiding pilots to land aircraft.

"It would be somewhat useless to have an airfield without ATCALS Maintenance. You could basically only fly when it's sunny." said Lt. Col. Clayton Bartels, 325th OSS commander.

The OSM shop was the last section of airfield operations to remain outside the OSS.

During the 1990's, General Merrill McPeak reorganized much of the Air Force structure. Included in this was the creation of the OSS. The creation of this squadron helped bring similar airfield assets to a single commander, increasing effectiveness.

"OSS is a highly diverse group," said Bartels. "We consist of 196 people and 21 different Air Force specialty codes."

The 325th OSS encompasses several flights, including, air traffic control, air crew flight equipment, weather, wing weapons, wing intelligence, wing scheduling and now ATCALS maintenance.

The squadron provides support to U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve F-22 Raptor pilots. They also control air traffic, manage the airfield complex and provide weather support, along with scheduling sorties in more than 3,400 square miles of Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation training ranges for more than 4,000 sorties annually.

"The OSS is a great assimilation of a group of people who support flight operations," said Jim Roncaglione, 325th OSS airspace manager. "These units have a lot of daily interaction. If they had to go through another squadron or another command to coordinate things, it would make it very difficult."

The OSS here was first commanded by Col. Dennis Cherry, who was given a secretary and a first sergeant and told to command more than 300 people. Soon after, the OSS started picking up steam and accomplishing the tasks.

"The OSS today is one of the most finely tuned mechanisms from what it was 22 years ago," said Roncaglione. "It is a 200 man unit, and it touches everything."