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The people behind the deploying Airmen

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --

As Airmen prepare for deployments, they’re usually presented with a checklist of different items to be completed. Yet the Airmen are not alone in the process.

Behind them are unit deployment managers, individuals tasked with getting Airmen from home station to different deployed locations around the globe.

“As a UDM, we coordinate everything related to getting people out the door for a deployment,” said Justin Cookie, a UDM assigned to the 28th Operations Group. “We purchase all the required gear based on the location they’re going. We also get all required training and schedule pre-deployment medical appointments.”

Unit Deployment Managers do a lot of extra work to make sure that Airmen are in the correct place at the right time and are prepared for whatever task they might be assigned.

“The UDM is often a focal point for various types of information and therefore is in a unique position to be able to help in various situations,” said Cookie.

The Air Force relies heavily on UDMs to accomplish their mission in order to get people deployed from their home station in a timely fashion. This means staying late and coming in early.

“This is definitely not a 9 to 5 kind of job,” said Cookie. “Irregular hours are often required to facilitate different situations; travel, exercises, weapons pick-up and delivery, and coordinating with various units across multiple time zones around the globe.”
The UDMs have to work under pressure, keep tight schedules, and sometimes have situations that can come as a surprise. That means flexibility is the key to their career field.

“Often there are short notice deadlines from the Bomb Wing or higher headquarters,” said Cookie. “That can add a lot of pressure. Much of the time, proper planning and time management can keep most of the pressure at a reasonable level.”

Given the different tasks involved with deployments, UDMs coordinate with others to accomplish the task at hand. Every squadron has a UDM and Cookie is responsible for all of the units in the 28th OG – the 34th Bomb Squadron, the 37th BS and 28th Operations Support Squadron.

“You have to get on top of your work or it will get on top of you,” said Master Sgt. Leon Partin, the 28th OSS UDM. “There’s rosters, reports, training, scheduling medical appointments and other things we have to keep track of. It’s not rocket science, but it can be very chaotic and requirements are always changing.”

Every job comes with its challenges, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible. With a changing Air Force there also comes changing mission requirements, which means Airmen being stationed abroad need better gear and more current training.

The UDMs are making sure that deploying Airmen are getting to their location safely and are equipped to do their jobs in any environment. The hard work and dedication of UDMs keep the enemy at bay and our people safe. They are essential to success of the Air Force mission.