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Civilian deploys with active duty counterparts

ELLSWORTH AFB, S.D. -- Military members are usually thought of when the word "deployment" is used, but that does not always ring true. Civilians who work for the Air Force also deploy.

Scott Plumb, 28th Operations Group systems support representative, is just one example of a civil service member contributing to the joint combat effort. Mr. Plumb's role was to arrive early to his forward deployed location in Southwest Asia to set up mission planning systems for other Ellsworth Airmen who arrived a week later.

"Our presence ensures the crews have operational mission planning systems to plan their missions," said Kevin Cox, 28th Operations Support Squadron B-1B Mission Planning System Support Facility Representative, who is slated to deploy in January.

As a systems support representative, Mr. Plumb is responsible for networking computers, printers and a server. He is also responsible for troubleshooting some of the Ellsworth's B-1 Lancer's computers when they need maintenance.

"We work with operations, intelligence, and maintenance personnel to coordinate software upgrades to the B-1B Lancer," said Mr. Cox. "We help troubleshoot issues with a few of the onboard computers (Beyond-Line-Of-Sight/Glare Shield Modification) the crews use to execute their missions."

Mr. Plumb wasn't the only civilian deployed to Southwest Asia.

"You'd be surprised at the number of civilians over there," said Mr. Plumb.

He is no stranger to deployments though. While serving on active duty, he deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"I enjoy, still, being a part of this mission," he said.

He was treated no differently than the Airmen who are currently deployed to Southwest Asia.

Even though he was unarmed because he was considered a non-combatant, Mr. Plumb explained he felt safe in the forward deployed location.

"The day to day (activities) - get up, go to work, go (physically train), go to chow, get some sleep - that whole cycle [gets you] lulled into a sense of security," Mr. Plum said.

He explained the work cycle is what keeps people working hard. With fewer diversions there are more opportunities to do the job.

"It all comes down to doing the mission," he said. "That's your opportunity to shine."

Mr. Plumb said deployments are what the Air Force is all about.

"(Deployment) is where you get to do what you trained for," Mr. Plumb explained.

Mr. Plumb was deployed for about three weeks.