Deployment manager processes people not 'paperwork'

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Joe W. McFadden
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
As 606th Air Control Squadron Airmen returned home from Southwest Asia Jan. 15, Spangdahlem's Air Terminal served as the epicenter of emotion for many Saber families.

The gathering, complete with Airmen wrapping their military fatigue-clothed arms around their spouses, children and friends, brought closure to a chapter in their lives until now marked by separation and sacrifice.

But for one 606th ACS NCO, her comrades' return home represented neither an end nor a beginning; it's all a continuing part of her job.

Tech. Sgt. Tena Briscoe, 606th ACS unit deployment manager from Baltimore, ensures her squadron retains their qualifications and completes training to become deployable any time and any where the Air Force needs them to be.

"As UDMs, we get people in the positions that they need to fight," Briscoe said. "Without UDMs, there would be no people or equipment to deploy. We're constantly making sure their training is updated and to make sure they're updated to keep fighting the fight."

A logistics planner by-trade, Briscoe's career normally resided within a base's installation deployment readiness center where she issued out orders and equipment to people who needed to deploy.

She joined the 606th ACS in October 2011 as its go-to person for deployments, but she said she always retained the perspective as a logistics Airman albeit with a deeper insight now.

"It's definitely different from my job in the IDRC, where we train UDMs," she said. "It's nice to see this side of being within the squadron and how things are worked out. I'm used to just giving orders and saying, 'These people have to go by this time--make it happen.' It's definitely providing me with insight that will help me when I go back there."

Briscoe said while the tasks remain the same for each person, the amount of people leaving at a given time varies the pace and amount of coordination needed to finish a particular task.

"If it's one or two people, it's a matter of just getting deployment and volunteer letters signed, giving them their checklists, making sure all of their training is completed, and their flight coordination as well as transportation," she said. "When you send off an entire squadron, multiply all that by hundreds. It's kind of easier because everyone is lumped in, but you have to get everyone on the same page and done."

And the process of being a UDM doesn't end when returning Airmen set foot on the Spangdahlem flight line.

Reintegration - processing them back into their home station - soon begins with a mass briefing where Airmen can complete travel vouchers or receive required medication or shots, she said.

"It's a one-stop shop when they return," Briscoe said. "More importantly, once they touch down, we alert the families and organize a little get-together for them because we know it may take time for them to go through customs."

Given her history in the job, Briscoe has been to several squadron returns at the base's terminal - no matter the hour or the weather.

"The tears and everybody coming to see each other and especially the ones who are meeting their baby for the first time -- those moments stand out to me a lot," she said. "It's a rewarding job."

Each homecoming, she said, serves as a reminder of why she does her job.

"It is nice especially when they come home--it's even better," she said. "It's kind of sad sending people out the door some times when you know they have a pregnant wife home who may be giving birth while they're gone and stuff like that. But I do it to help ease the process so that at least they're worried about a million other things. So, at least, I can get this process--it could be smooth for them. That actual process of working and actually get out the door--they should have no problems with it."

As far as people working with UDMs, Briscoe said planning and urgency are vital to success.

"If you have a question--ask it early," Briscoe said. "Get things in as soon as possible, because there is a timeline. The quicker things are turned in, the more free time you'll have. But if your UDM asks for it, it needs to be done."

Additionally, for those interested in being a UDM, Briscoe advised that a willingness to adapt is greatly appreciated.

"You need flexibility - keeping that is key," she said. "It could be weekends or after-duty hours, but you'll be needed. And keep organized, because things could go around really quick and you could miss a lot of things."

To that end, Briscoe's office comes with a file cabinet to process the paperwork and records of all her fellow Airmen. Despite any detached exterior of a cold drawer system where information is stored into a mass collective, she remained adamant about what the files represent.

"Each folder is a person -- it's a snapshot in their warrior life," Briscoe said.

As for the families now complete after months apart, Briscoe said she welcomed her fellow Sabers back home. But she said she's mindful of how the work of being a UDM - like the 606th ACS's mission of being the inspector of the skies - will always stand ready.

"I'm glad to see them come back and everyone is safe," she said. "But we're always ready for the next time."