188th Wing receives ‘Sensitive’ number ahead of schedule

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 219 views 

Those who have served in the U.S. military are likely familiar with the phrase “Hurry up and wait.” But the U.S. Air Force appears to be in a hurry-up-and-move-fast mode with respect to the 188th Wing becoming fully operational in its new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission.

Broad cuts in U.S. defense spending included the removal of 20 A-10 Thunderbolt fighter planes from the 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith. It was announced in 2012 that the unit’s mission would change to an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission. The unit converted to the new mission in June 2014.

The unit recently received a “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility Identification” (SCIF ID) number. It may not sound like much, but the number is required before the unit can proceed with building or operating facilities in which they conduct ISR missions. In the February 2015 issue of The Flying Razorback, Lt. Col. Sonny Stefancic said the SCIF ID came earlier than expected.

“The normal process to obtain a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility Identification number takes approximately three months. Thanks to diligent work by the National Guard Bureau A2 Special Security Office and the 188th Wing Special Security Office we obtained our SCIF ID for our Initial Operational Capability Modular SCIF in approximately three days,” said Stefancic, who is the commander of the 223rd Intelligence Support Squadron.

The squadron is one of several that comprise the 188th Wing.

A SCIF ID is a key step in the mission conversion process that allows the unit to begin fabricating a temporary SCIF facility which will house the 188th’s combined operations floor for initial operational capability (IOC) for the ISR and remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA) mission sets. The temporary SCIF has 10,000 square feet of space and is estimated to cost $1.38 million. The temp facility will be built within the main hangar of the 188th.

According to the 188th, the temporary SCIF will be used for about three years while the 40,000-square-foot permanent structure is completed. That project is estimated to cost $14.2 million.

The temp facility should allow the 188th to achieve “Initial Operational Capability” (IOC) by the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2015. “Full operational capability” will come for the 188th when the permanent structure is ready. The facilities will house the 188th Ops Group's RPA mission and the 188th ISR Group's intel/spaced-focused targeting – the two primary missions for the newly converted wing.

“This is outstanding news for our wing’s mission conversion,” said Col. Bobbi Doorenbos, 188th Wing commander. “We’re excited that each success brings us nearer to achieving operational capability in both ISR and RPA missions. Our Airmen remain hard at work to ensure each step in the process runs smoothly and gets us closer to our ultimate goal.”

Doorenbos formally took command of the unit on Jan. 13. Doorenbos assumed command after serving as the 214th Reconnaissance Group commander for the Arizona ANG at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. There she was responsible for providing combat qualified MQ-1 Predator aircrews in support of contingency operations overseas and domestic awareness and assessment capabilities within the United States.

The facilities are expected to provide a vital core structure for more than 500 members of the 188th.

“The 188th ISR Group has approximately 350 total personnel (not all are full-time) and the 188th Operations Group has approximately 220 personnel (not all are full-time). Some of those personnel will be housed in other admin facilities on base,” noted Major Heath Allen, executive officer for the 188th Wing, when asked how many people are expected to operate in the temporary and permanent structures. “The number fluctuates based on the number of on-going missions and that info is not releasable.”