SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
It’s a phone call Airmen know can come at any minute, but few are expecting: “Hello, this is your unit deployment manager. We just got a short notice deployment tasking for you, and you leave in 10 days.”
While not the norm, phone calls like this aren’t uncommon and UDMs at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, are reminding Airmen of the importance of remaining deployment ready at all times.
“We have deployment buckets for a reason,” said Staff Sgt. Lee Rimell, UDM with the 50th Comptroller Squadron. “Airmen are assigned a bucket that has a known corresponding deployment vulnerability period. The buckets give us predictability and allow us to prepare.”
If tasked, Airmen typically receive notification of a pending deployment four to six months prior to the date they must leave.
“Even when everything goes right and you have the maximum time to prepare, there are sometimes challenges getting out the door,” Rimell said. “But it becomes exponentially more challenging if you receive a short-notice tasking and you aren’t ready.”
Tech. Sgt. Alayna DeHerrera, executive assistant to the 50th Space Wing command chief, recently experienced the importance of being deployment ready at a moment’s notice after receiving a short notice tasking. Fortunately, she was ready.
“As Airmen, it is important to realize anything can happen at a minute’s notice and we have an obligation to fulfil,” DeHerrera said.
Rimell also pointed to duty as a reason Airmen should remain constantly ready.
“If you’re an Airman, you raised your right hand to defend this nation,” he said. “In the armed forces, we have a stateside mission to keep our nation safe; part of that is being able to project our power anytime, anywhere. If you’re not ready to perform your role in projecting the lethality of our forces anywhere in the world, you’re potentially causing a serious issue.”
While there are some deployment readiness items Airmen are not required to accomplish until tasked to deploy, Rimell said there are several readiness categories that should always be current.
“Medical is extremely important, and that’s the one that takes the longest to get done,” Rimell said. “You have to make sure things like your annual physical health assessment and immunizations are current.”
There is a full battery of medical tests that must be done before Airmen deploy, but many aren’t done until the Airman is tasked.
“The problem is, if you also have all the regular things to get done on top of all the deployment tests, it’s going to take that much longer because for most of the medical things, you can’t just walk over to the clinic and do it -- they have to be scheduled.”
Basic airman/deployment readiness
Airmen are required to keep many different certificates current in the online Advanced Distributed Learning System, but Rimell said there are some that can often lapse if there isn’t an immediate need to accomplish them.
“Under basic airmen readiness and basic deployment readiness, you have things like Law of Armed Conflict, Self-Aid and Buddy Care, Chemical, Biological, Nuclear, Radiological and Explosives, and a few others,” Rimell said. “These courses take quite a bit of time to complete, so it’s a good idea to keep them current at all times.”
The 50th Space Wing legal office often encourages Airmen to have a will and power of attorney in place for unforeseen situations that may arise. Rimell stated it is critical people have these items in place before they deploy.
“Obviously, you hope that a will won’t be necessary, but you have to think of your family and friends,” Rimell said.
In addition to a host of legal reasons why a power of attorney might be necessary while deployed Rimell pointed to a recent hail storm as an example of challenges unique to places like Colorado.
“What if you were deployed and had severe hail damage to your house and insurance adjusters have to come out and assess,” Rimell asked. “You’ll need a power of attorney in place with someone you trust to handle that for you.”
Family Care Plan
Airmen with children are required to have a family care plan in place. The plan spells out when, how and who will take care of the Airman’s children if the Airman is unable to due to military reasons.
“It is absolutely critical you have this in place prior to getting tasked to deploy,” Rimell said. “Think about it; if that plan isn’t in place and you have to deploy in a week, finding someone to take care of your kids for the next six months might be a tall order.”
While she doesn’t have any kids, DeHerrera said if she had and did not have a family care plan, her tasking would have been overwhelming.
“Being mil to mil, without children, I was lucky enough that my husband understood the way things work,” she said. “We have a tendency of always considering where we’re living and potential factors in most decisions we make for this reason. For others, especially with kids, that can be a stressful situation.”
Rimell said the biggest piece of advice he can give Airmen is to adopt a readiness mindset.
“An issue I notice is many jobs are at desks and we get comfortable and then are surprised when they have to deploy to a warzone,” Rimell said. “It’s super important to have a mindset of readiness. We are warfighters. Stateside, it might mean you do your job in a nice office, but a week from now you could be doing that same job in a tent halfway across the world.”
According to Rimell, Airmen should also know who the UDM is for their unit.
“If you don’t know who they are, find out,” Rimell said. “Talk to them. Pick their brain. They can help you understand and make it through the deployment process smoothly. I’m always happy to talk to anyone with questions.”
Rimell concluded by saying it will help Airmen adopt a mindset of readiness if they understand their role in the bigger picture.
“We don’t just task people for fun,” Rimell said. “If you’re tasked, there is an important strategic reason why your Air Force Specialty Code is needed in the fight. We owe it to our nation and our fellow Airmen to always be ready to go at a moment’s notice.”