Master Sgt. Rosita Grubbs inventories Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern uniforms at the 466th Air Expeditionary Group at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Jan. 30, 2014. The 466th AEG recently moved from the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar and provides administrative and operational control of all Joint Expeditionary Tasked Airmen and Individual Augmentee Airmen assigned to non-Air Force units executing joint mission sets in support of OEF operations throughout Central Commands area of operation. Grubbs is deployed from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., and a San Antonio, Texas native. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. David Miller)
Airmen assigned to the 466th Air Expeditionary Group logistics and operations center update travel and movement schedules for inbound and outbound Airmen at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Jan. 30, 2014. The 466th AEG recently moved from the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar and provides administrative and operational control of all Joint Expeditionary Tasked Airmen and Individual Augmentee Airmen assigned to non-Air Force units executing joint mission sets in support of Operation Enduring Freedom operations throughout Central Commands area of operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. David Miller)
by Master Sgt. David Miller
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
2/2/2014 - AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar -- Taking care of Airmen is a responsibility of leaders at all levels. For the 466th Air Expeditionary Group, taking care of Joint Expeditionary Tasked Airmen and Individual Augmentee Airmen supporting Operation Enduring Freedom taskings is their specific mission. The group headquarters recently completed their move from Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
The only reason the 466th AEG exists is to support JET and IA Airmen deployed in Afghanistan and provide a lifeline, a "Blue Line," back to the Air Force.
The 466th AEG accomplishes its mission of operational control and administrative control with and through its two subordinate Air Expeditionary Squadrons, the 466th AES and 966th AES, that are located in Afghanistan. Together, they collectively ensure Airmen are well taken care of while they are "loaned out" through tactical control to non-Air Force units executing joint mission sets.
"We have responsibility for over 1,300 Airmen at 48 different locations in Afghanistan assigned to JET and IA taskings, and it's our mission to deliver world-class customer service so that none of those Airmen ever feel isolated from their Air Force," said Lt. Col. Steve Lang, 466th AEG deputy commander, deployed from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and a Plantation, Fla., native.
Once an Airman is identified for a joint tasking deployment, the 466th AEG operations center obtains visibility and even makes contact with the inbound Airman 60 days prior to arrival. The operations center stays actively engaged with the Airman during pre-deployment, reception into theater, during the mission, and only concludes when the Airman has returned to home station.
Upon arrival, all JET and IA Airmen are separated when they step off the rotator at Al Udeid, personally briefed by the Group Commander, Deputy Commander, and Superintendent, before inprocessing with the AEG staff and proceeding onward into Afghanistan.
"We have a 24/7/365 operations center that supports all of our Airmen and serves as a single point of contact for anything they may need during their deployment," said Staff Sgt. Melissa Kellner, Operations Center NCO in charge, deployed from Malmstrom AFB, Mont. "We provide them a personalized laminated card that has our contact information along with points of contact at the squadron and at the location they will be assigned."
The information in their initial briefing is critical to a successful mission, but having the proper equipment is just as important. A significant mission focus area of the 466th AEG is to ensure transiting JET and IA Airmen have arrived in theater with all required gear. If there are discrepancies, the supply technicians coordinate directly with Airmen to issue additional gear on site. This process is in place to ensure that Air Force members deploy into a combat zone with a uniform set of required gear to carry out a successful mission.
Accountability is the 466th AEG's most urgent effort, which demands gaining and maintaining 100% accountability of JET and IA Airmen in Afghanistan. There are over 48 different locations and some JET and IA Airmen may be the only Airman at a location.
"We contact every single Airman at a minimum of every 60 days with a combination of emails, phone calls and face-to-face visits to make sure our Airmen have everything they need and remind them that we are here to help remove any obstacles to their success," said Lang.
The group also aggressively solicits quality feedback from their Airmen to validate that they were properly trained and are being properly utilized in their deployed position. This information is then rolled into discussions between AEG leadership and the TACON leadership to make any necessary adjustments prior to the next Airman coming in to fill that position on the following rotation.
"A 90 day survey is sent out to Airmen to identify utilization issues," said Lang. "If an Airman isn't being utilized correctly, we can address that and make sure we are taking care of our Airmen and getting the tactical commander on the ground the best capability to meet his emerging requirements."
This hands-on customer service approach between the AEG, their Airmen, and the tactical commanders they support is a force multiplier that enhances communication, takes care of Airmen, and builds enduring joint and combined partnerships that execute the mission at a very high level.
Lang said, "This has been an extremely rewarding deployment because taking care of Airmen is the best job in the Air Force."