News>379 ELRS in-theater distribution saves lives, money, extra luggage
Story at a Glance
The 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron expeditionary theater distribution center is the largest in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Their mission is to manage, issue and account for the required individual protective equipment according to reporting instructions. The 379 ELRS ETDC saves the U.S. Air Force more than $7 million a year. The ETDC does not just store and account for their own equipment, they also provide courtesy storage for personnel who are going home on emergency leave or rest and relaxation.
Tech. Sgt. Tina McCabe, 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron expeditionary theater distribution center turn-in tent receives personal mobility gear from Tech. Sgt. Casey Kuhn, 809th Expeditionary Red Horse Group as he passes through on his way home here, Oct. 1.The ETDC turn-in tent recieves mobility equipment from transient personnel as they re-deploy from forward bases. Sergeant McCabe is deployed from Langley Air Force Base, Va. Sergeant Kuhn is deployed from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Both are deployed in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Jason W. Edwards)
Airman 1st Class Brandon Williams, 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron mobility technician assists Staff Sergeant Jill Jakes, 379 ELRS Desert Depot technician with fitting her individual body armor at the expeditionary theater distibrution center issue tent, Oct. 1. The ETDC issue tent issues mobility equipment to deployed personnel throughout Southwest Asia. Airman Williams is deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. Sergeant Jakes is deployed from the New York Air National Guard. Both are deployed in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Jason W. Edwards)
Airman 1st Class Lateshia Blakely, 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron readiness technician takes inventory of individual body armor plates in storage at the expeditionary theater distribution center warehouse, Oct. 1.The ETDC warehouse stores mobility equipment to be issued to transient personnel as the deploy to forward bases. Airman Blakely is deployed from Dover Air Force Base, Del. in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Jason W. Edwards)
by Senior Airman Michael Matkin
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
12/29/2009 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- The missions of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing are broad and diverse. One of these missions is to be a hub for Air Force personnel, Department of Defense civilians and contractors deploying downrange. Before they leave the 379 AEW they typically must make a stop at the 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron expeditionary theater distribution center to receive personal protective equipment.
Before PPE was housed and distributed in-theater, the cost of excess baggage for deploying Airmen was in excess of $51 million. It was determined that using ETDCs was the solution. The redistribution of PPE saves millions a year in excess baggage charges, aircraft fuel expenditures and movement costs. Master Sgt. Calvin Webb, 379 ELRS ETDC noncommissioned officer in-charge, deployed from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., said that the 379 AEW ETDC saves the U.S. Air Force more than $7 million a year alone.
The 379 ELRS ETDC is the largest in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Its mission is to manage, issue and account for the more than $4,700 worth of required individual protective equipment per person according to the reporting instructions of Air Force personnel, Department of Defense civilians and contractors supporting Air Force missions. They also maintain all reporting instructions so they can ensure personnel receive the required equipment they need for their deployment.
"It is important to ensure everyone gets the proper equipment, which is another reason we have a distribution center in the AOR. This allows for AOR redistribution and reach-back capability within theater versus going back to the [Continental U.S.] for equipment. This is important not only to help defray the costs, but also to support more than 25 forward operating bases," said Tech. Sgt. Marcus Wilson 379 ELRS EDTC, issue tent noncommissioned officer in-charge, deployed from Holloman AFB, N.M.
More than 3,000 personnel deploying to these FOBS come through here and one of their first stops before continuing downrange is the issue tent, Sergeant Wilson said.
The issue tent operates out of two large conjoined Alaskan shelters. Although the tents are relatively big, because of the amount of the gear they issue, there are limits to the amount of personnel they can process, Sergeant Wilson said. However, officials adjusted the process and have streamlined the configuration of assets in the tent to increase flow, thus enabling customers to process more than 60 personnel at a time.
All of the personnel who process through the issue tent and are issued items must return the ETDC issued assets to an EDTC return center before redeploying.
"Everything issued [from the 379 ELRS ETDC] is accounted for and must be returned upon redeployment," said Tech. Sgt. Tina McCabe, 379 ELRS ETDC return center noncommissioned officer in-charge, deployed from Langley AFB, Va.
Regardless of the equipment's condition, it must be returned for accountability purposes as well as tracking the respective shelf life, Sergeant McCabe said.
"We ensure the equipment hasn't expired and is still serviceable," said Senior Airman Kelli Mitchell, 379 ELRS ETDC return center journeyman, deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. "Every piece of equipment has a shelf life with a date. Anything due to expire within the deployment timeframe will not be issued, and that item will be replaced in the bag."
One of the steps personnel must go through when returning their gear is reconstituting their helmets. However, sometimes personnel do not understand why they are required to clean them, Sergeant McCabe said.
"It can be challenging. We know they are tired and are just looking forward to going home, so we brief them when they first come in as to why it is required," Sergeant McCabe said. "We tell them they are not just doing it for themselves, they are doing it for the next person who will be wearing that helmet. Once they hear this, they are pretty good about getting it done."
The ETDC doesn't just store and account for its own equipment, it also provides courtesy storage for personnel who are going home on emergency leave or rest and relaxation, Airman Mitchell said. In addition, if someone received gear from another base, but are returning home through the 379 AEW, they will take their equipment and ship it back to where it was received.
Whether someone is deploying or redeploying the ETDC ensures mission success by ensuring all personnel have the correct, serviceable equipment to accomplish the mission no matter where they may be deploying to, as well as accounting for those items so they are available to protect the personnel replacing them," Sergeant Webb said.