Air Force helps soldiers deploy

Saturday, December 10, 2011 - 15:50
Afghan airlift begins for 4/25th
Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division make their way to a Boeing 737 as they prepare to leave for a deployment to Afghanistan Nov. 28. The 290 Soldiers who left Nov. 28 made up the first big initial departure. Nov. 28 through mid-December more than 3,500 Soldiers are scheduled to depart Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson en route to Afghanistan.

Nearly 300 Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, boarded a Boeing 737 at the Joint Mobility Center en route to Afghanistan Nov. 28.

The departure marked the first step in the 4-25th’s latest 12-month deployment.

More than 3,500 Soldiers are expected to depart from JBER between Nov. 28 and Dec. 14.

“I think what this deployment shows is the great cooperation between our Airmen and our Soldiers and getting the mission done. We’re just so proud to be a part of it and support them,” said Air Force Col. Robert Evans, JBER and 673d Air Base Wing commander. “I just want them to know how proud we are of every one of them and how grateful we are for their service to our nation at a time when our nation desperately needs them.”

The 673d Logistics Readiness Group is leading the logistics portion of the departure and this is a major difference between now and the brigade’s last deployment, in February 2009.

When JBER was established more than a year ago, the combination of Army and Air Force transportation procedures played a big part in how the processing of personnel and equipment played out this time.

“Flexibility, cooperation and understanding,” were huge components of making the merge a success said Air Force Maj. Mark Lawson, 773rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, director of operations.

This is almost like an Air Force move, he said, it’s kind of the same process but on a much larger scale.

It has taken a lot of hard work with some hiccups in the road, but nothing we haven’t been able to overcome, Lawson said.

According to Stephen Dewan, 773rd LRS, this has been an overall smooth and very efficient process.

When the merger happened, Army and Air Force techniques were shared and incorporated into the best ways of accomplishing the mission.

Improvements were made to several processes; Dewan said an example of that is how they total the weight for the manifest.

The Air Force way combined the weights individually.

The Army way, the Soldiers load onto a bus with their belongings at the Joint Mobility Center and the bus drives onto a scale giving a weight, after that weight is recorded everybody gets off and a second weight is recorded.

The second weight is then subtracted from the first one, this is done several times until everyone is accounted for giving them a final calculation of weight in 45 minutes.

Dewan said being under one headquarters has really helped smooth out the approval process of how things get accomplished.

During the brigade’s last deployment the Army’s transportation headquarters would need approval from the Air Force side.

Now that everyone falls under one unit, 773rd LRS, it’s eliminated jumping through the extra hoops to get things approved.

The 773rd LRS isn’t the only unit involved, ensuring the departure goes as smoothly as possible.

The 732nd Air Mobility Squadron is responsible for doing a joint inspection of the cargo, making sure it’s ready and certified to go.

Airmen from the Air National Guard’s 176th Wing supported the 773rd LRS in the pre-inspection process, getting a firsthand experience with a major deployment.

The 673d Force Support Squadron also played a part in preparing food for the troops heading out the door, making sandwiches, snacks, beverages and soups available for Soldiers.

“It’s a massive team of folks that come together and cooperate, communicate and bring it all together,” Lawson said.

“No one is going to let the mission fail, we’re going to make it happen and do it right and do it well.”

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