New deployment center increases process efficiency

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kate Thornton
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
After more than two years of anticipation and hard work, the new $16.8 million deployment center at Ellsworth was completed May 16, 2012.

The systems and processes in the new facility were put to the test May 10, 2012, when Ellsworth Airmen processed through the center prior to Green Flag, a combat training exercise hosted at Nellis AFB, Nev.

Prior to the new facility, a majority of deployment processing was conducted in Ellsworth's Pride Hangar.

"Because of the way the Pride Hangar was laid out, it wasn't built to be used as deployment center so we had to work around it and processes had to change," said Rick Schroeder, 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron installation deployment officer.

In the past, Airmen assigned to handle cargo processing would endure harsh weather conditions, and Airmen processing to leave tolerated long waiting periods and confusing processing lines in the massive facility.

Schroeder said he and base officials have traveled to several Air Force deployment centers, observing and gathering information to develop a design that best met Ellsworth's deployment needs.

"Ellsworth has one of the newest deployment centers built, so we're a little more state-of-the-art," said Schroeder. "We now have the ability to process all of our cargo indoors in the same facility that we process our personnel."

Ellsworth's new facility features some of the newest technologies, including x-ray machines, metal detectors, conveyer systems, advanced security systems and an automated cargo manifesting system in the cargo bay that takes a picture of cargo then calculates the measurements, axle weights, and center of balance, recording all data in a database.

"Anytime you process, you always think it's probably going to take awhile," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Thompson, 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron hydraulics systems craftsman, who was among those processing as part of the Green Flag deployers. "But here, it took a very small amount of time. It was really nice."

Based on previous experience, processing the 90 Airmen who departed for Green Flag was expected to take between three to four hours. However, the new facility cut that time in half, taking only one to two hours.

Schroeder added that the center is much better for Airmen dealing with the stress of deploying.
"It's more user-friendly, more comfortable, and more pleasing to the eye," said Schroeder.

In addition to being the epicenter for the base's deployment functions, Schroeder said the facility will provide the base with a great deal to enhance normal daily functions on base, such as special training classrooms, training bays and much more.

"The entire wing will benefit," said Schroeder. "We deploy our people world-wide, and it's an important mission. This deployment center will enable us to process our people and cargo in a timely manner, and meet the objectives that the Air Force chief of staff has given us."