The Air Force has been pushing more resources out to its remotely piloted aircraft community as the need for unmanned drones and the overseas missions they execute grows.
To help meet that growing demand, Creech Air Force Base has been split off from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, which has controlled the airfield since 1961, according to a history of the base.
Part of that major initiative involves standing up a dedicated support squadron for the MQ-9 Reaper drone airmen stationed at Creech. The 732nd Operations Support Squadron was activated Jan. 23.
The new unit, dubbed the “Archers,” will provide the support required for the MQ-9 Reaper attack squadrons within the 432nd Wing’s 732nd Operations Group, to include intelligence, weather and targeting support, according to Lt. Col. Hector, 732nd Operations Support Squadron commander.
Drone crews fly constant attack and reconnaissance missions from their stateside bases for missions such as Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. That, combined with the high demand for unmanned aircraft, has forced MQ-9 crews to work for extended periods with no rest cycle.
Giving Creech command of its own installation will offer the community some breathing room to grow new assets, like the new support squadron. Up until this point, the combat squadrons have been forced to complete some of their intelligence, weather and targeting tasks on their own.
“Large scale projects and infrastructure challenges will now be led by the OSS, allowing the overtasked combat squadrons to focus on combat operations,” Hector said.
Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, visited Creech to speak with drone airmen about the benefits of their new situation on Jan. 10.
“The future of Creech is promising,” said Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, during a visit to the installation last month to talk with airmen about their new situation.
“We’ve made the decision to give them base operating authority. We’ll make the commander here, of the 432nd [Wing], also in charge of the base," Holmes said. "Then we’re looking at the long term of how we take care of the airmen out here … and make this a more sustainable lifestyle for airmen and their families.”
The new basing situation and increased support network also give unmanned aircrews the space to experiment with new tactics.
“They’re going out and doing the same mission as the A-10, the F-15 or the F-16 would do, and they’re also learning to operate together as two-ships,” Holmes said. “There are a lot of exciting things, and we’re going to learn how to maximize the capability of the airplane by trying new tactics.”
Creech also opened up a dedicated Morale, Welfare and Recreation office on Jan. 31.
Dubbed the Creech Community Commons, or C3, the facility acts as a central location for airmen to rent equipment such as sleds, bikes, camping gear; register for hiking, kayaking, ski/snowboarding trips; as well as register for the recreational vehicle storage lot, according to Creech officials.
Until now, Creech airmen have had to make the one-hour drive to Nellis Air Force Base to access these and other services.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.