SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --
Members of the 336th Fighter Squadron deployed in October 2017 to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
To support the deployment, the 4th Logistics Readiness Squadron had planned, prepared, and executed a strategy to ensure over 500 personnel and 378 tons of cargo and equipment was secure, although it hadn’t gone as planned.
Maj. Mark Heil, 4th LRS commander, referred to the execution as the most complex deployment in recent memory.
“Nearly 20 percent of LRS members were already deployed during (the 336th FS deployment),” said Heil.
In addition, nine Airmen were on temporary duty assignments, or were involved in a unit effectiveness inspection, Nuclear Operational Readiness Inspection, and potential hurricane evacuations.
In the weeks just prior to the deployment, the American southeast and Caribbean were battered by two strong hurricanes. After the storms, federal disaster relief plans went into action. Some of the aircraft previously scheduled to support the Air and Space Expeditionary Force, was diverted to support hurricane relief operations.
“Consequently, months of preparation initially centered on a 10-day window of cargo and passenger departures were quickly adjusted to accommodate these urgent transportation demands,” Heil said. “A movement initially scheduled to be two weeks in length, in light of natural disaster relief, stretched into a month of operations.”
Manning for 4th LRS and other Wing Agencies also presented a challenge with an extended departure schedule.
According to Heil, LRS planned to be undermanned for two weeks. Having the shops balance the day-to-day operations with Air Expeditionary Force support for a full month was unprecedented and unexpected.
Senior Airman Patrick Garrison, 4th LRS vehicle maintenance technician, was one of the Airmen who played a major role in ensuring the deployment occurred on time.
“Our shop was responsible for repairing and providing 62 direct support vehicles,” said Garrison.
Garrison and three other Airmen were augmented to be forklift drivers for four days. They split the day to have two airmen on morning shift and two airmen on nightshift.
“Between the four of us, we moved 202 increments, which included rolling stock, pallets, and other containers” Garrison said.
To add to the challenge, there was more cargo and equipment than the cargo deployment function yard could hold. To compensate, the team had to move three chalks to another secure location on base.
“Our four-hour stand-by on Saturday and Sunday turned into a seven and eight hour stand-by,” Garrison added. “It ultimately forced us to quickly rework our schedules so we could continue to support the mission and the AEF simultaneously.”
While working odd hours unexpectedly, Garrison said they were still able to keep the normal flow of operations going smoothly.
“While operations were tough, we were able to get through it without any issues and complete the mission,” said Garrison.