Planning and Execution: Keys to a Good Deployment
By Master Sgt. Ralph Kapustka, 148th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 12, 2016
DULUTH, Minn. -- In early April 2016, the 148th Fighter Wing deployed approximately 300 Airmen and about a dozen F-16's to Osan Air Base, Korea as part of a Theater Security Package (TSP). TSP's have been an integral part of the U.S. Pacific Air Command's force posture since 2004. TSP deployments are routine and not due to any specific threat in the region and usually last three to four months. So, what does it take to make a deployment like this happen?
"From a Logistical Readiness Squadron (LRS) perspective, I would break a deployment into two phases; planning and execution," said Maj. Darin Phillips, 148th Fighter Wing Installation Deployment Officer.
During the planning phase personnel are trained according to the deployment reporting instructions of that theater, to include medical requirements and other personal qualifications. On the cargo side, Unit Deployment Managers (UDMs) and increment monitors work to build their cargo, so load plans can be submitted to get airlift for both equipment and personnel.
"Once we transition into the execution phase, we become the Deployment Control Center (DCC), the command and control node to ensure a successful deployment. Making sure people are on schedule to go through the processing line and get on the airplane ... same thing for cargo, cargo is manifested, prepped for air shipment and loaded on the plane," said Phillips.
It takes many different agencies working together to make a deployment of this size happen. "We are in charge of the Personnel Deployment Function (PDF) and Cargo Deployment Function (CDF), these functions fall under the DCC," said Senior Master Sgt. Jen Cheslak, 148th Fighter Wing Senior Logistics Planner. "For the execution stage we work directly for the wing commander," Phillips said.
"What day is it?" said Cheslak jokingly when asked how many hours their team has put in to support the transport of cargo and personnel. The DCC operated about 18 hours a day during the execution phase of the deployment.
Many challenges were faced by the DCC including only being able to fit one C-5 Galaxy on the ramp at one time so the arrival and departure times were critical. The weather and mechanical issues also caused many delays and headaches causing multiple changes in scheduling; with only having one load team the DCC had to keep a close eye on the load team's work hours to ensure their safety. Another scenario that had to be planned for was de-icing ... the de-icer that was available only reached 45 feet and the tail of a C-5 Galaxy is 65 feet, so coordination for additional equipment was required to reach 65 feet should de-icing be needed.
Through all the challenges communication was key. Communication between the PDF, CDF, UDMs and the DCC was critical due to the many obstacles that required changes. "What are we going to change or not going to change such as report times of people ... or do we keep it the same because our Airmen have already mentally prepared that they will be leaving. If we had to make a change, our number one goal was to get it out to the rest of the wing in the most expeditious manner possible," Phillips said.
In order for this deployment to happen, the Logistics Readiness Squadron was responsible for arranging the transport of approximately 270 short tons of cargo and about 300 Airmen.
In addition to the Logistics Readiness Squadron, other agencies at the 148th Fighter Wing played key roles in making this deployment a success. The medical group provided immunizations to ensure all deploying members were current, security forces personnel ensured force protection during off-site training and at the airport during departure, and the communications flight made sure that the command and control nodes ran smoothly. "Every squadron has done something to make this deployment a success," said Senior Master Sgt. Katrina Patterson, 148th Fighter Wing Personnel Deployment Function Non-Commissioned Officer In-Charge. "It was a team effort, every entity has touched a piece of this."
Before the cargo and personnel left the base the planning had begun for the return trip. "We started planning about a month ago," Phillips said. "About half way through the deployment we will be sending re-deployment assistance teams to the deployed location to continue the process of bringing everyone home safely."