NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — During every Red Flag the skies over Southern Nevada are filled with aircraft and the base with Airmen, Sailors, Marines, Soldiers and foreign allies. All of the extra military members need to eat, sleep and stay physically fit.
The 99th Force Support Squadron provides all of these services and more to the visiting units while also continuing to serve the Nellis community.
Lodging and food services are two services that may be taxed the most during Red Flag, because of the influx of personnel on base.
“Both [lodging and food service] provide basic life necessities warriors require to perform during exercises,” said Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Toney, 99th FSS sustainment services flight superintendent.
On a normal day, the 99th FSS Crosswinds Dining Facility is responsible for feeding the Airmen on Nellis. With Red Flag in action, they must prepare enough food to sustain both the regular patrons and those from visiting units.
During Red Flag, the dining facility prepares approximately 450 pounds of food per day, while on a normal day only around 200 pounds is prepared.
Lodging prepares for Red Flag approximately three to six months in advance by de-conflicting with other large groups who may be looking to stay on base during the exercise. This helps ensure visiting units participants have a bed to sleep in for the duration of the exercise.
Guaranteeing available bed space is only a portion of the preparation lodging goes through.
“Housekeeping staff is increased; flex and part time lodging staff member’s duty hours are increased to ensure adequate personnel are available to provide high quality service to guests. The maintenance staff ensures maximum room availability by thoroughly checking rooms for maintenance issues and either makes the repairs [themselves] or report issues to the 99th Civil Engineering Squadron,” Toney said.
On top of needing food and shelter, many service members attending Red Flag also want to maintain their physical fitness. As a result, the Warrior Fitness Center sees an increase in traffic.
“Usually the fitness center sees an increase of 200 [to] 300 personnel per day during Red Flag exercises,” Toney said.
With additional people to serve comes an additional work load for 99th FSS Airmen. These Airmen, however, are prepared and ready to tackle the mission.
“In force support we equip our personnel with the knowledge and ability to handle the large influxes of temporary duty personnel we get continually throughout the year,” said Capt. Elizabeth Goldsmith, 99th FSS sustainment flight commander. “Part of what makes 99th FSS so great is how we are able to provide quality support no matter how many people there are, no matter where they are.”
With the incredible combat training Red Flag brings to air and ground crews, it is the 99th FSS that sustains these crews and makes it possible for them to complete their mission.