'Mobility machine' keeps mission moving

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Hunter
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
(Editor’s Note: This story is part of a four-story series highlighting the different units that played a role in the 74th Fighter Squadron’s deployment.)

The 74th Fighter Squadron recently deployed to Eastern Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, a mission essential to deterring aggression at the eastern border and reassuring NATO allies.

In order to make missions such as that of the 74th FS possible, the 23d Logistics Readiness Squadron works together as a team known as the “mobility machine” to deploy, sustain, and redeploy Airmen and equipment.

“Without the [Deployment Control Center], no one would ever be able to deploy or redeploy to this base,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Gabrielle Marshall, 23d LRS installation deployment officer. “[The DCC is] the heart and soul of the mobility machine.”

The deployment planning process begins as soon as a tasking order or request is sent to the DCC. From there, a logistics planner will be assigned to develop a plan and ensure everything gets done to deploy all necessary Airmen and cargo.

“We’ll take the tasking and send it to the unit to tell them what type of cargo and how many passengers need to be filled,” said Senior Airman Lauren Shults, 23d LRS logistics planner. “As we receive that information from the unit deployment manager, we’ll build their entire package in the computer to lay out what they need to support the mission and provide a schedule of events.”

With the deployment package in the system, the information is sent to the 23d LRS’s Air Terminal Operations in order to put the plan into action. With only a 10-man shop, ATO Airmen worked up to 18-hour days to deploy the 74th FS last September.

“The DCC handles the behind the scenes planning and then we can lay it out on paper to determine exactly where everything can go in an aircraft,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Pease, 23d LRS ATO supervisor. “Once we have a set plan, the deploying unit will bring their cargo over to us, we set inspection dates, and on the day of deployment, we load everything onto the aircraft.”

While they may have completed the process to deploy Airmen, the 23d LRS also provides support for the Airmen down range by sending resources such as ammunition, meals-ready-to-eat, medical supplies and vehicles.

“With the 74th theater security package, they moved all over Europe,” said Lt. Marshall. “Each time they moved countries, resources were either left behind or damaged along the way. It is our job as the DCC and ATO to reconstitute what is lost so that they do not run out of supplies.”

With limited resources in Bulgaria, it became a challenge to bring Airmen home. However, the team was able to overcome these difficulties and get the task done.

“Because of the limited resources and manpower they had in Bulgaria, we were asked us to come out to help them get the Airmen home,” said Marshall. “We sent out a Redeployment Assistance Team and brought everything that we did to get them out the door.”

With general guidelines to follow, Airmen were able to make a plan and request aircraft in order to get all Airmen and cargo home, a process that became very rewarding for 23d LRS Airmen.

“Being a part of the RAT team for the 74th FS has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life,” said Marshall. “They were so relieved and overjoyed to see us when we got there because they knew why we were there and they knew it meant they were coming home.

“To be able to see exactly what we do and how it affects the mission was amazing,” Marshall added.

This feeling of joy and excitement is similar to what is felt by the loved ones of Airmen as they return home from deployment, an event made possible by Airmen from the 23d LRS.