Deployment readiness vital to mission

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Deployment is the relocation of forces and materials to desired operational areas, according to the Department of Defense dictionary of military and related terms.

For those military members who may be preparing for their first deployment, getting things in order may seem like an exhausting task.

Several things have to be completed before leaving, including a pre-deployment checklist from the unit deployment manager. Airmen must complete weapons qualification training as well as self-aide and buddy care training before deploying.

To alleviate the headache of preparing, Unit Deployment Manager Tech Sgt. Deborah Carr, 22nd Air Refueling Wing non commissioned officer in charge of Military Equal Opportunity, said all military members should be mission ready at a moments notice. This means members should have an official passport, be current on all auxiliary training and have a mobility bag ready.

Visiting the UDM should be the initial stop for first-time deployers.

"The UDM is like a deployment advisor. They will tell you everything you need to do, and where to go to complete all of the checklist requirements," said Sergeant Carr.

"Completing everything can take some time, but the amount of time given to complete the checklist depends on whether it is a standard Air and Space Expeditionary Force rotation or a short notice tasking. The standard AEF rotation allows for advanced notice; the short notice does not," said Sergeant Carr.

A pre-separation counseling session is mandatory for military members. The counseling should be completed no less than 90 days prior to deployment, according to the Airman and Family Readiness Center. The AFRC also recommends that Airmen set up an appointment to receive counseling at least 180 days prior to deployment.

This counseling or briefing, describes what changes a family goes through during a TDY, deployment, or remote tour; outlines the family readiness programs; and addresses any particular concerns the family or individual may have, according to the Airman and Family Readiness Center Website.

Other than the checklist, it is important for military members to prepare their family members for their time of absence.

"It is important that families know what resources are available to them on base while a loved one is away so that they do not feel disconnected. They need to know that they still have an Air Force family who is there for them," said Mary Ann Barry 22nd Mission Support Squadron community readiness consultant.

The AFRC suggests taking advantage of the several services they offer while a family member is deployed to help with the separation.

The AFRC will provide a book to the deploying parent and video tape them reading the story for Operation READ. The book and video will then be given to the parent for their child when they deploy. 

Operation REST also offered by the AFRC, will personalize pillowcases or T-shirts with photo transfers of both the military and family members.

These programs are designed to help children and spouses cope with a loved ones deployment, as well as maintaining the morale of the entire family, according to the AFRC.

For more information about the requirements on the checklist, please contact your respectful unit deployment manager. For other programs offered by the AFRC please call 759-6020.