LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas-- Even on training bases, such as the Air Force pilot training hub of Laughlin in Texas, deployments are a part of military life and the pre-deployment spin-up lasts months with plenty of training and preparations. It requires a lot of planning and communication to get the logistics of it taken care of.
“It takes hours and hours because we have to pull that data daily, compare and make sure that the times for that person are still the same, that the requirements don’t change,” said Staff Sergeant Xavier Perez Vera, 47th Logistics Readiness Flight (LRF) Installation Deployment Readiness Cell (IDRC) logistics planner. “So, it's not a short process; It can actually take days and weeks and it just depends on how short-notice a tasking is.”
The IDRC at Laughlin found out just how short a short-notice tasking could be when the Secretary of Defense established a crisis action group to support the Department of State and partner with the Department of Homeland Security, to support the relocation, visa processing, and resettlement of Special Immigrant Visa applicants including evacuees and vulnerable Afghans.
Laughlin was tasked with supplying approximately 19 service members for a deployment to Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. Behind the scenes, it was Perez Vera and base Installation Deployment Officer Jim Brown organizing Team XL’s deployment effort with a notice of the mobilization mere days—three to be exact—before departure.
“We were notified Friday morning. Friday afternoon we met everybody, who then went through a line and was given the requirements,” said Brown. “We issued bags, sleeping bags, some sleeping shirts and some cold weather gear, and we sent them home to go pack, and to be back on Monday morning, so we can put them on a bus and take them on the drive.”
The deployment efforts were no small feat but a team of Airmen came together seamlessly to support the vulnerable Afghans evacuated from Afghanistan.
“It’s not all on the IDRC to make things happen,” said Perez Vera. “It’s teamwork from the unit deployment managers, to the members who are deploying and the tremendous amount of support we receive from various agencies on base and from senior leadership.”
From preparing members and their commanders for a tasking, to sending personnel out the door, and ending by re-deploying the member, Laughlin’s IDRC team supports the process every inch along the way.
“Their deployment will come to an end and when they come in from whatever base they were at, we will take care of that,” said Perez Vera. “We receive them and brief them, make sure that they have a flight back home, provide them the information that they need, guide them over where they have to stay while they are waiting, and then getting them home.
Running a wing’s IDRC as a two-man team can seem daunting but Brown and Perez Vera see it as a blessing in disguise that allows them both to become well versed in every aspect of the readiness mission.
“At a big base you get to go ‘oh, it's not my job. It's so and so's job,’” said Brown. “That's not what we do.”
Despite the long hours, empathy keeps Perez Vera focused on the mission and helps put things into perspective.
“I know for a fact, from my standpoint of being deployed before, that there are people there that want to go home, so that motivates me,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to see people coming home, their faces, their smiles.”