GroupThe "group," which usually consists of from two to four squadrons and a group headquarters. The group may be both tactical and administrative. All squadrons in a particular group fly the same type of plane. Groups, like squadrons, are referred to by type of plane - heavy bomber group, light bomber group, fighter group, etc. All squadrons of a group train together and the group usually moves and fights as a unit. It is a vital organization in combat operations and is basic in planning.
In 1948, the United States Air Force transitioned to a wing concept of organization. Under the wing concept, numbered fighter groups, or combat groups, were placed under command of a wing. Combat groups were eventually inactivated and replaced by squadrons. In 1954, a committee appointed by Headquarters USAF decided to retain the history and identity of combat groups as separate and distinct from those of the wings which replaced them. However, the committee also decided the honors of the combat groups should be bestowed upon the present day wing that carries the same numerical designation. As a result, when the 35th Fighter Wing is activated it also carries the honors of the 35th Fighter Group.
With the advent of objective wings, formed by a major Air Force reorganization in 1991, combat groups were redesignated and activated as operations groups. While the operations groups inherited the complete lineage and honors of their parent combat groups, wings were authorized to continue displaying the honors earned by the combat groups prior to the wing's activation. Below the wing, the group was revised in 1991 as a minimum staff operational echelon.
Operations groupThe operations group commander is a combat leader, well qualified to lead the first strike in any combat scenario. The lean group staff consists of a standardization / evaluation function combined with quality assurance to support flight line maintenance, which will become part of this group. Other traditional operations staff functions were consolidated in a newly created operations support squadron along with weather, air traffic control and base operations. This aligns all direct support activities where they properly belong, under the operations group commander. One of the most significant changes of the restructure effort was the transfer of all flight line maintenance to the individual squadrons. Previously, the squadron only controlled the squadron's aircraft for the short time each day they were in the air. Now, the same commander assumed authority and responsibility 24 hours a day, including all traditional "organizational level" maintenance. Just as the squadron's flying operation is aligned under the operations officer, so the maintenance end of the business is aligned under a maintenance officer. This entire action means the typical flying squadron grew from about 50 total members to around 250 -- a true challenge for the most capable leaders.
Logistics groupLike the operations group, the logistics group is designed to bring all logistical support activities under a single commander. Again, the group staff is extremely small, consisting primarily of the remaining quality assurance personnel supporting intermediate-level maintenance. Other staff functions were consolidated into a logistics support squadron. Although flight-line maintenance resides in the operations group, all intermediate-level maintenance and equipment maintenance activities reside in the logistics group's maintenance squadron. Likewise, the group is also home to the supply and transportation squadrons.
Support groupSimilarly, the support group consolidates activities into the mission support squadron. The civil engineer, services, and security police squadrons remain basically unchanged. The base's communication functions, which used to report through the Communications Command structure, are now organized as a squadron within the support group. Variations on the group structure theme continue.
Other GroupsWhile the operations, logistics, and support groups are the cornerstones of the new wing organization, circumstances at different bases may drive some variations on this basic theme. For example, a base with a major health care facility will likely have a medical group. If the base houses a major communications facility, that function could be organized as a separate communications group. And a large security police contingent would probably necessitate the formation of a security police group. No matter what the situation at a particular installation, the objective wing structure can be readily modified to accommodate it and still retain the back-to-basics theme.
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