Deployments 101: how Team Ellsworth deploys

  • Published
  • By Mr. Rick Schroeder
  • 28th Bomb Wing Installation Deployment Officer
Wouldn’t it be great if we could take a class on how to deploy a wing and have it all figured out? Sounds simple doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Although many people “see” a wing deployment as smooth or error-free, deploying a wing takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work. There are countless professionals checking and double-checking cargo and passenger information before we even think about “heading out the door.”

For example, your unit deployment manager does a tremendous job for you, your unit and the wing. He makes sure the smaller pieces of the puzzle, you and some cargo, have all the rough edges smoothed out so they will fit together into the much larger puzzle.

He checks to make sure all your deployment requirements are met. Do you have the necessary gear needed for your deployment; do you have the necessary training required for your deployment; are you medically qualified for your deployment?

Your UDM makes sure you have all the required medical actions taken care of before you deploy. Medical professionals scour over hundreds of medical records to ensure we don’t send anyone who isn’t medically qualified.

Your UDM will also make sure you’re issued all the required gear before you deploy, such as your Kevlar helmet, canteen, web belt and eye goggles.

Additionally, if you’re part of a Unit Type Code that’s accompanying cargo, your UDM will ensure all the necessary paperwork is loaded into the computer system that plans, tracks and monitors all deployments. We call that system the Logistics Module, or LOGMOD.

Every piece and part of equipment that will accompany you must be loaded into this system by National Stock Number. Then, paperwork must be printed out and brought with the cargo to the deployment center so air cargo inspectors can do one last check of the cargo to ensure it’s airworthy and complete all remaining paperwork, which will accompany the cargo for air shipment.

At this point, the 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron Readiness Flight’s team of professionals has already sprung into action and is preparing and issuing mobility bags and weapons. The LRS logistics planners build a Deployment Schedule of Events that will track every action leading up to and through our wing deployment.

Each aircraft (or chalk) is choreographed to the second and monitored closely in the Deployment Control Center. As one event is completed, another event starts.

Failure of one event in the chain could result in a late aircraft departure. We call this a busted chalk. Over a dozen professionals in the DCC monitor times throughout the process, move passengers around in LOGMOD, block seats and ensure the wing “stays on track.”

Out on the cargo floor there are more than 40 professionals (all augmentees) checking and double-checking cargo and paperwork to ensure the cargo is safe for air transport and combatant commanders have visibility of the cargo while it’s traveling across the globe. It’s kind of like companies using FedEx so they can see where the package is. We do the same thing, and it’s called In-Transit Visibility. ITV is the single most important transportation aspect of a deployment. That’s why paperwork and computer entries must be so precise.

Then comes the time when you as a deployer must come to the Deployment Center. Your UDM has done his job to ensure you’re ready, and now a few more professionals will take their turn to ensure you’re even more prepared.

I bet you had no idea there were this many people working to deploy you and your cargo.

When you arrive at the Deployment Center, approximately two dozen deployment function professionals will work even harder to ensure you’re processed in and are comfortable until the time comes to load you into the aircraft for your deployment. Your baggage then must be checked, weighed and palletized. Your weight and next-of-kin information must be checked in order to build the passenger manifests.

Last minute briefings are conducted by chaplains to ensure you’re aware of cultural or religious concerns specific to your deployment location. Public Health conducts brief heath care concerns. Comptrollers brief finance availability at your deployed location. Family Support Center professionals will be there to answer any questions you have about the care of your family. While all this is going on, five-man aircraft load teams are loading and tying down cargo on the aircraft so it’s safe to fly. Then it’s one last roll call before 28th LRS Vehicle Operations professionals fire up their buses and line-up outside the Deployment Center to take you to the awaiting aircraft.

All these jobs require a tremendous amount of professionalism, dedication and training. Some training is provided by the owning unit, such as training required for those in specialized career fields, but there are countless deployment related training classes conducted throughout the year by our 28th LRS Air Terminal Operations personnel to include aircraft loading, cargo preparation, aircraft load planning, ramp coordinating, cargo marshalling, cargo in-checking, cargo manifesting, passenger manifesting and baggage handling. They train hundreds of augmentees throughout the year to enable units to be trained, proficient and ready to meet their deployment obligations.

In a very brief time, I’ve given you the basics for how we deploy the wing. You could say you’ve been given a class on “Deployments 101.” Next time you’re standing in the deployment center waiting to deploy, just think about the hundreds of professionals working behind the scenes to make it all happen. Now you have a basic understanding of how it all fits together into the bigger puzzle. Last but not least, all this couldn’t happen without you and the “teamwork” that makes Ellsworth great, but that’s another article …