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I want to deploy! 5 steps to volunteering for deployment

Posted 7/12/2010   Updated 7/12/2010 Email story   Print story


by Master Sgt. Greg Libby
439th Airlift Wing Mission Support Squadron

7/12/2010 - WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- Do you know what the process is for volunteering for a deployment? Who do you contact? What are the requirements? What do you need to do? What do you need to know? The following information sheds light on the deployment process and will help ensure a positive pre-deployment experience and a successful deployment.

Step 1 - Are You Qualified?

     You must be fully qualified in the AFSC you are assigned to and you must not have any limiting factors. Examples of limiting factors are medical conditions, legal issues, security clearance issues, etc.

Step 2 - Request Permission

     Your first stop should be your leadership, starting with your immediate supervisor. You will need concurrence of your unit commander, group commander, and ultimately, the wing commander.

Step 3 - AEF Online

     If you feel you are eligible to deploy and your commander recommends you, the next step is the Internet, specifically the AEF Online site. The fastest way to get to it is via the Air Force Portal, searching for keywords AEF Online. The website is very comprehensive and has everything you need to know. Literally, every question about all the locations in the world we could deploy to is available! Even if you're not deploying, you should consider checking this must-see website out.

Step 4 - Your Unit Deployment Manager

     Ok, you're qualified, you have permission, you've checked out AEF Online, and you're confident that you want to volunteer, so what's next? Your Unit Deployment Manager (UDM) is the next step. Typical deployment cycles are January, May and September.
The functional managers start asking for volunteers for all AFSCs about 8-10 months before the deployment cycles. Your UDM will work with the Installation Deployment and Readiness Cell (IDRC, formally the Plans Office) to identify UTCs that are required for your specific AFSC.

     It's important to remember that once the manpower requirement is sourced to the wing, we own it, so finding a substitute to go in your place is something you should be thinking about with your UDM. Short-falling a real world requirement is the last thing we want to do.

Step 5 - Get ready

     Congratulations! You have been selected and you have a position in the AOR. Most AFSC's deploy for four months (there is talk about moving this to a six-month rotation, but it's still conjecture at this point); however some requirements will allow you to volunteer for 6 months. Once you are notified from your unit that you've been selected, the clock starts ticking! This is where you have to be proactive and prepare for your deployment. 
      In a normal deployment situation, you would have approximately four months before you leave - that's only 8 days of UTAs for a Reservist, so start now, don't wait until next UTA! The following is a chronological matrix of how you should tackle getting yourself ready.

Pre-deployment preparation

Step 1 Air Base Clinic (ABC) - Tell them that you are deploying to country 'X'. They will determine what immunizations you will require. Note that your health assessment must be current through the deployment.

Step 2 Just-in-Time Requirements - Working with your UDM, schedule just-in-time requirements such as weapons training, chemical warfare, AFSC-specific requirements, ISOPREP, etc.

Step 3 Computer Based Training (CBT) - Accomplish your CBT for Tier 2a and 2b. Contact your UDM to learn about what other CBTs might apply.

Step 4 Physical Fitness - Make sure your PT test will be current thru your deployment and test as needed. You will need to be in good shape to deploy!

Step 5 Deployment Checklist - Start working your checklist as you are going thru this process. You will receive a deployment checklist from the Installation Personnel Readiness (IPR) office immediately after your name is loaded into the system. This checklist is required for us to give you your deployment order (i.e., CED order).

Step 6 Orders - Your unit orders clerk will prepare your Active Duty order (AF Form 938) to bring you on active duty; the IPR office prepares your CED order.

Step 7 Acronym Soup - Familiar yourself with important acronyms like DRI and ETL. Your Date Required In place, or DRI, is the most important; your ETL is Estimate Tour Length. Most deployments require a two-three day overlap.

Step 8 Pack Your Bags - Have your bags packed and ready to go! You most likely will not know your flight information until the last minute, so be prepared the last couple of weeks up to your DRI. It's a good practice to do some annual tour prior to your deployment to make sure all of this gets done.

Step 9 Follow the Process - Remember, like everything else, this is a process, and you must follow it in order to ensure you are prepared to deploy.

Step 10 Your Time to Shine - Enjoy your deployment, and represent the Air Force Reserve well. Many of our active duty counterparts don't know what we do so it's incumbent upon us to let them know and truly become a total force.

     As you can see, there are myriad things you will need to do and think about to ensure a successful deployment. This guide is a slimmed-down version of what you must do. Everyone in this process has a role in preparing you to deploy. Please be proactive, patient and take responsibility for ensuring that you are ready to deploy. There are resources abound to give you whatever help you need - make sure you take advantage of them all.

If you have any questions, please contact the IPR office at 413-557-3847/3418/3877.

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