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A Japanese employee serves food at the Enlisted Club at Yokota Air Base. On April 21 Yokota will merge its services and mission support squadrons into a new unit known as the 374th Force Support Squadron.
A Japanese employee serves food at the Enlisted Club at Yokota Air Base. On April 21 Yokota will merge its services and mission support squadrons into a new unit known as the 374th Force Support Squadron. (Christopher B. Stoltz / S&S)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — On one of the first large bases to merge its services and its mission support squadrons, Yokota leaders said they hope they can serve as an example for other bases throughout the Air Force.

“We’re excited about this,” said Gary Garland, 374th Services Division director, who explained that the new unit will be known as the 374th Force Support Squadron.

The new unit will have about 950 personnel, according to Garland, who will be the director of the FSS. He added that this will be the largest unit on base.

The Air Force began merging services and mission support squadrons a few years ago, he said, beginning with six test bases that completed the process last year.

“Air Force leadership figured it would be a good marriage,” Garland said.

Traditional mission support squadron responsibilities — including pass and identification registration, education centers, manpower and the Airman Leadership School — will be combined with the services’ duties of managing clubs, outdoor recreation, arts and crafts, and child development centers.

Bringing the two operations under one roof will help cut costs, streamline procedures and improve customer service, he said.

While combining the units sounds rather involved, Garland said that customers should not notice much of a change.

“Basically this is a merger at the leadership level,” he said. “And no one will be losing any jobs.”

While the official activation ceremony for the 374th FSS is scheduled for April 21, Garland said that the two units have already begun working together for the past few months and attending joint staff meeting to plan for the merger.

“It’s good that we’re all located in the same building,” he said, adding that so far the merger has gone very smoothly.

Other bases in the Pacific will begin their mergers over the next few months, said Garland, who explained that the entire Air Force should be finished with the merger by 2010.

“We’ve got a great group of professionals coming together here,” he said. “Now we’re just ready to get it done.”

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