Prime readiness in base service (Prime RIBS) teams provide supplies and services to the military and civilian personnel assigned to the Harvest Eagle and Harvest Falcon systems. Some of the basic support they provide includes food service, mortuary affairs, and laundry. Support requirements for the Prime RIBS teams are also tied closely to the type of environment in which they are deployed. For example, arid climates demand more water, cooling capabilities, and lightweight clothing.
Prime RIBS units are worldwide combat morale, welfare, recreation, and services (MWRS) forces organized and trained for wartime support. The Prime RIBS program organizes forces capable of deploying on a 22- to 28-hour notice to support global or major regional conflict operations on MOBs, COBs, FOLs, APODs, aerial ports of embarkation (APOEs), and BBs or to support essential MWRS missions at critical CONUS bases.
Each Prime RIBS element is capable of providing initial food service, billeting, recreation programs, and mortuary-operations support for a population of up to 1,200 people. It can also support an independent or dependent combat aviation squadron of 16 to 24 fighter aircraft or a significant aviation deployment less than squadron size in a major deterrent force posture. With additional augmentation, Prime RIBS units can support organizational field laundry operations, personnel fitness programs, and tactical field exchange resale operations.
Air Force Services is critical to aerospace power projection and exists to provide organic capability for commanders to support deployed forces with vital life-sustaining, morale and personnel productivity- enhancing activities. Food service. Lodging. Laundry. Mortuary affairs. Fitness. Recreation. Add the world "field" before any of the above functions, and this is talking warfighting in Services lingo. The Air Force brand name for Services deployment and employment capability is Prime Readiness in Base Services, or Prime RIBS.
At first blush, Prime RIBS functions sound just like the missions performed at home. That's true in a sense, but seriously oversimplified when considering that Air Force people are only at most slightly involved in two of these functions at home station. Regardless, Services teams hit the field running and work long, arduous hours to provide for the basic human needs of food and shelter in addition to laundry operations and mortuary services; then they expand on those to include fitness and recreation activities.
Food service and lodging tend to be the two "hot button" issues at every deployed location. People get very emotional about what they eat and where they live. Most sites do not provide a commissary or cooking facilities - the base populace depends on Services to provide tasty, nutritious meals, whether at the dining facility, ground support or flight meals, or even Meals, Ready-to-Eat.
Services is also responsible for the equitable distribution of bedspaces among the various units. Many deployed locations have several types of facilities, and the task of figuring out who gets what - the hard billets with private bathrooms versus the tents with gang latrines 50 yards away - falls to Services.
Equally important as food and lodging are laundry and mortuary services. Laundry operations are critical to maintaining hygiene and therefore health in all deployed locations. Facilities offered for laundry can range from self-help, home-style machines, to free "assistance in kind" commercial laundry service funded by the host nation, to out-of-pocket funded laundry concessionaires contracted through the Army Air Force Exchange Service.
The last core mission for Services is mortuary affairs, which expediently returns the remains of those who make the ultimate sacrifice to their family back home. The mortuary affairs function takes on a whole new meaning when deployed. At home station, the Air Force contracts for mortuary services and rarely take physical custody of human remains. At deployed locations, the Air Force is responsible for preparing the remains for shipment to the Dover Port Mortuary. This is the most grueling task, yet the most rewarding when considering the role in returning a loved one to their family.
These are the four minimum activities Services establish early at every contingency location and provide during all phases of operations, but there's more: fitness, recreation, learning resource center, tactical field exchange, water distribution. As the contingency evolves into the sustainment mode, additional services and activities are phased in to meet the needs of the deployed population.
The current Air Force focus on fitness, for example, is continued at deployed locations by offering the same sort of programs provided at home station - self directed activities, intramural sports, group classes and competitions to improve and maintain physical fitness.
Although leisure time is often in short supply in a deployed environment, it's important to offer activities that allow troops to unwind, relax and rewind for long six-day-a-week shifts. Self-directed and participatory recreational activities help troops maintain their physical and mental wellbeing and promote esprit de corps. Bazaars with local vendors, movie theaters and rentals, game rooms, pool and card tournaments, live bands and comedians - these activities and much more are offered during sustained operations at our deployed locations.
In a wartime environment, some functions fall under the Services umbrella that troops do not perform at home station. Services people do not work in home station libraries, but a 3M0X1 Services specialist serves as the librarian in a deployed learning resource center and a 3S2X1 training specialist serving as the deployed test control officer.
At some locations there are services personnel operating a tactical field exchange selling a limited assortment of AAFES goods - primarily health and hygiene items. Numerous deployed locations rely on bottled water as the only source of potable drinking water. Services typically distributes the bottled water through USAF facilities and at specified distribution points where individuals have access to drinking water.
Prime RIBS teams deliver a multitude of services to deployed forces twenty-four seven. These capabilities do not directly launch jets or drop bombs, but those who do can't do it without Prime RIBS. Air Force Services is critical to aerospace power projection and exists to provide organic capability for commanders to support deployed forces with vital life-sustaining, morale and personnel productivity-enhancing activities.
Prime RIBS History
In 1978, Major General Robert C. Thompson, Director of Engineering and Services, proposed the creation of services contingency teams which would be responsible for feeding, housing, and clothing deployed Air Force personnel. During peacetime, services personnel were located on Air Force installations and provided food service and billeting (housing) to Air Force people.
However, when needed the Prime RIBS teams could respond within hours and deploy anywhere around the world. Prime RIBS teams were created to provide the flexibility necessary to support troops in the field. Teams could be matched to form a total base services organization to augment existing organizations or perform specific tasks.
Food service must be provided during all contingencies lasting more than a few hours. Thus Prime RIBS personnel prepared food and provided lodging for the troops during a contingency. During deployments they assisted in erecting and tearing down billeting shelters, assigned billeting and located personnel. They also operated field laundries and provided mortuary services. This latter mission required that Prime RIBS teams include members who were trained in the identification and preparation of remains, temporary interment, and grave registration.
Since 1978, Prime RIBS teams have responded to a number of contingency situations. In 1980, they assisted in feeding and housing Cuban refugees at Eglin AFB, Florida.
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