RAF LAKENHEATH — Synergy is the buzz word commanders use a lot when describing the merger of the services and mission support squadrons here.

The process of combining the 800 airmen and civilian employees into the 48th Force Support Squadron is taking place behind the scenes for the most part, they say.

“The customers really won’t notice a difference,” said Lt. Col. Derrick Aiken, commander of the 48th Services Squadron. “They’ll still go to the same place to get their ID cards, for example.”

The Air Force-wide initiative — launched in January — aims at improving customer service and eliminating redundancies in manpower.

Aiken and Lt. Col. Drysdale Hernandez, commander of the 48th Mission Support Squadron, said there will be no layoffs, though the two squadrons are busy identifying positions that overlap and trying to figure how to best reroute those resources.

The transition is going smoothly, Hernandez said.

“Some of it is driven by the fact that we have such similar roles downrange,” he said. “There’s already some synergy in the operations world that we’re just bringing back to the garrison.”

The challenge, said the two commanders, is making sure the squadrons act as one cohesive group when the merger is complete in July.

That’s why the new 48th Force Support Squadron officially stands up in July when its new commander comes in after Hernandez and Aiken leave.

A similar merger is under way at RAF Mildenhall, when 430 members of 100th Services Squadron combine with the 124 members of the 100th Mission Support Squadron to form the 100th Force Support Squadron.

Six Air Force bases completed the mergers in 2007 to serve as test sites for the force support squadron concept, which affects more than 15 Air Force specialty codes and occupational series in the manpower, personnel and services operations fields.

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