First True North Religious Support Team at a Number Air Force > Sixteenth Air Force (Air Forces Cyber) > Newsroom
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas — The 16th Air Force is the first Number Air Force to have a True North Religious Support Team. The True North RST consists of a Staff Chaplain, Capt. Greg Redden, and a Religious Affairs Sergeant in Charge, Tech. Sergeant Raef gambling.
“Task Force True North is an initiative where units can better benefit from an embedded religious support team,” Redden said. “We can engage early, spot problems early, and have a plan specific to the 16th Air Force.”
This Air Force initiative began with improving the resilience and well-being of Airmen and their families. Since its inception just a few years ago, the True North program has expanded to additional bases to transform the culture of seeking help.
“We’re running around with the same patch, we’re with the 16th Air Force,” Redden said. “We want to get where someone sees us who knows we’re your chaplain and your RA team with that constant, present support.”
Only mid-to-senior level chaplains and RAs can become a True North RST as it is a one-deep assignment focused on delivering preventive and educational programs for the NAF with minimal administrative responsibilities.
“We don’t have any additional responsibilities in this role, so we can devote our full time to our aviators,” Gamble said.
An RA for seven years, Gamble came from Thule Air Base in Greenland, where he led religious programs for over 144 active-duty military personnel and 400 contractors. Overall, Gamble has served in the Air Force for over 12 years, with the first five years at Intel.
“I was a 1-NO,” Gamble said. “I understand what the intelligence aviators here are going through with long hours in a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) and feeling cut off from the rest of the world. Once we have the building (2088) a bit more representative, our goal is to have a space where flyers can come in and out of the SCIF.”
Redden is a veteran chaplain from Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, with over six years in the Air Force Chaplain Corps but a total of 18 years in the military. He enlisted in the Army as an air and missile defense crewman with the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Its mission was to “protect the force and select geopolitical assets from airstrikes, missile attacks and surveillance.”
“I used to fire Stinger missiles from my shoulder,” Redden said.
He later trained as a respiratory therapist and was stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
“When I was with Walter Reed, back when it was actually still in DC, I knew I wanted to be a chaplain,” Redden said.
A call for him to protect the squad once again, this time with the skills necessary to stay sane.
The True North RST is already becoming familiar faces after making initial visits to all headquarters and two other units it supports, the 616th Air Communications Squadron and the 616th Operations Center.
“This is a very preparatory and reactive mission,” Gamble said. “In preparation we walk around and when we enter your room there are no expectations, we just want to know who you are.”
In addition, the True North RST offers 100% confidential counseling for all DoD ID cardholders and their dependents. No other agency can offer this 100% confidentiality, which includes the chaplain and the RA who are not allowed to share any part of a private conversation that takes place during the counseling sessions.
“We build a kind of trust,” Gamble said. “We want their response to a crisis to feel comfortable enough to come and talk to us; big or small, we want to be there for them.”
Redden and Gamble hold these counseling sessions in building 2088, an original building on Security Hill. The building was never a chapel, but the RST has a vision of how to improve the building and make it a place where aviators can have lunch or just relax.
“We have plans for burger burns-out backs,” Redden said. “Also, a classroom where we tailor resilience courses to the needs of the units.”
Redden is certified for preventive relationship improvement programs planned for future events such as: B. A quarterly retreat for off-base couples and day workshops for individual fliers. Another future event would be Life-Over-Lunch where the RST will provide free lunch and is open to all ranks to discuss various life issues.
“We talk about issues that concern everyone, which can be single or married relationships,” Redden said. “We live together and give a feeling of connectedness.”
Within the 616th OC is another True North RST office location called “The Escape”. The Escape is a room with a massage chair, a lounge couch and the opportunity to receive advice.
“It’s a safe place within SCIF to come out and talk to us,” Redden said.
If you need their services, you can reach the 16th Air Force True North RST at (210) 395-0051 for Building 1 and (210) 977-5077 for Building 2088.
“Come join us,” Gamble said. “It doesn’t have to be serious, if you just need to get out of the office and talk we’re here for you.”
“We are your chaplaincy and NCOIC for religious affairs,” adds Redden. “We are willing to take care of our airmen, guards and families in more ways than anyone imagined possible.”