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Keesler Logistics Readiness Squadrons exemplify total force

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Heather Heiney
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

In nature, symbiosis occurs when two organisms live closely together and form a long-term interaction. At Keesler, a symbiotic relationship has developed and flourished between the 403rd and 81st Logistics Readiness Squadrons.


The two squadrons are collocated at the Taylor Logistics Center and serve their respective wings with many of the same functions. Some of these functions include deployment preparation, issuing supplies, providing transportation, testing aircraft fuel and so much more.


The 81st LRS supports the day to day technical training mission of Keesler and provides base operating support for the 403rd Wing as the host unit. The 403rd LRS specifically supports the operational missions including weather reconnaissance, tactical airlift and aeromedical evacuation to ensure the wing is deployment ready. According to the squadrons’ commanders, the biggest difference between the two is the availability of their manpower.


On the active duty side, Airmen who are assigned to the 81st LRS are at the squadron full-time. In the Air Force Reserve’s 403rd LRS there are only a handful of full time Air Reserve Technicians with the majority of personnel being traditional forces. ARTs wear the Air Force uniform every day but are a hybrid between a traditional reservist and government service civilian. Everyone else assigned to the 403rd LRS is available for two days per month for unit training assemblies, two weeks per year for annual tour and whenever they can be brought in on orders to support operations.


Lt. Col. Clinton Cash, 403rd LRS commander, said his challenges are determining what training can be arranged, who is available to come in on orders and from which funding source the orders will be paid.


Having the two squadrons collocated helps with the 403rd’s training because 81st LRS members are right there, ready and willing to help. The squadrons are in the process of creating blended active duty and reserve offices for several of their sections. Blending the Quality Assurance office helps ensure both squadrons are meeting mission requirements and standards. The 81st personnel will assist with evaluating an upcoming exercise, and the 403rd counterparts have also assisted with inspections for the active duty functions as well. Blending of the cargo movement function will increase efficiency because it allows the 403rd to pick up tasks where the 81st left off and continue to work them during the UTA weekends. We have similar efforts under way within vehicle operations and maintenance functions.


“We’re always working together to share resources and collaborate,” Lt. Col. Melissa Rativa, 81st LRS commander, said.


A little more than a month ago, Rativa was selected as a juror for an extensive out of state court martial case and had to leave for more than 30 days.  Lt. Col. Cash was able to step in and take care of her squadron while she was away.


Shortly after Cash took over for Rativa, Col. Danny Davis, 81st Mission Support Group commander said, “The transition was seamless because both commanders interact on a regular basis to find innovative ways to meet their wing missions.”


Rativa said that it was an easy transition for the squadron because he wasn’t a stranger to the squadron members and already had a good working relationship with them.  She said he was even able to close out several of her recent deployment exercise findings while she was away.  


“We work well together anyway on a day-to-day basis and when she got called away it was a pretty painless process,” Cash said.


“I didn’t have to worry about what was going on back here because the squadron was in good hands,” Rativa said. “This was a huge win for both sides and we have an even better working relationship now.”


While the 403rd Wing is a tenant unit to the 81st Training Wing, many base members benefit from collaboration between the two units and see potential for an even stronger partnership.


“It would be great if the two wings could do this more often,” Cash said.