TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
When Airmen are down range, the infrastructure needed to support them is critical to the success of the mission. The instructors at Silver Flag train those who make life livable for Airmen in deployed locations. This detachment is one of many stationed throughout the Air Force.
The Airmen of Detachment 1, 823rd RED HORSE Squadron, run Silver Flag, and are known for providing deployed operating instructions to 19 Air Force specialty codes. Some of these critical roles include finance, manpower, infrastructure and personnel. These career fields ensure the logistical requirements of maintaining a deployed presence are met.
The finance flight is manned by two people, Master Sgt. Kourtney Johnson and Kevin Olmstead, who ensure finance specialists attending Silver Flag understand how to properly set up bases financially while down range. The Silver Flag training area at Tyndall AFB is also the only one in the Air Force that hosts the finance class across all components, including the Guard and Reserve.
“We teach about 200 students a year,” Johnson said. “We make sure they understand everything about managing resources and keeping the money in order.”
The manpower flight is run by Master Sgt. Travis Weeks, who teaches manpower specialists how to consult key leadership on organizational management in a deployed environment.
“We put them through a course that will get them used to being deployed,” Weeks said. “Because our students will be the only manpower personnel in their office, they need that exposure. We make sure they understand how vital communication is when it comes to keeping leadership informed and current on all management issues.”
The personnel flight teaches personnel Airmen on how to properly keep track of all the personnel deployed to a location. This flight consists of Staff Sgt. Philip Berry and Master Sgt. Jonel Garcia, who teach more than 250 students a year for both enlisted deployment training and the initial personnelist course for new personnel officers.
“Personnel specialists normally focus on standard logistics procedures,” Berry said. “However, in a deployed environment we extend our duties to total force accountability. We keep records of all incoming and outgoing personnel and even track casualties. We ensure everyone is accounted for, so there are no issues with things such as lodging or pay.”
Finally, there is the infrastructure flight, a small flight consisting of Airmen that ensure the base itself is properly running up to standard and that Airmen are able to live comfortably despite the stressful environment of a deployment. This mission can include career fields like air conditioning repair and pest management.
“Our mission is to make sure our Airmen aren’t negatively affected by anything from a potentially harsh environment,” said Master Sgt. Jim Cummings, the infrastructure flight section chief. “An example would be how pest management ensures that we control the spread of disease and sickness from indigenous pests, such as rats or mosquitos. Sickness can make or break a war, and we try to control the spread of any affliction we can.”
Despite how these flights may differ, they work toward the same mission. They prepare their respective career fields for the increased responsibility and challenges of being deployed. Many of the instructors commented that getting a student to understand the material was the most rewarding part of the job.
“It’s a good feeling when you actually see the light in their eyes from finally understanding something,” Olmstead said. “When they actually pick it up and tell you they understand, it makes the job worth the challenges.”
The mission of Silver Flag is mainly training and the simulations integrate all career fields. The civil engineering career fields work with the support career fields to make sure all of the 6,500 Airmen who pass through the training site annually are mission ready.
“I enjoy that we are here as the last refresher to help people adapt down range,” Berry said. “We have a saying at Silver Flag: we are providing confident and competent Airmen. When you know you are setting your fellow Airmen up for success, it’s a great a feeling.”