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When it comes to 'getting out of Dodge' LRS makes it happen

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt Staff Writer
photo by Tech. Sgt. Douglas K. Lingefelt
Airman 1st Class AlejandroFalla-Perez, 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron, carries war readiness bags

There were not too many on base not affected by a recent MacDill exercise held recently to prepare servicemembers for wartime deployment, but no group was more active than the 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

In essence, the exercise was all about the squadron, which as of about a year ago, is made up of the key flights most involved in getting people and equipment off the ground and to the action when the call comes.

As a result of the consolidation September 2002, Logistics Readiness is the largest squadron on base, with some 320 members, 32 of whom are civilians. It includes five flights: Readiness, Traffic Management, Vehicle Management, Fuels Management and Distribution. The Management and Systems unit also falls under the squadron.

The regrouping caused some confusion and required a lot of adjustment in the initial stages, recalls 1st Lt. Heidi Priestly, squadron section commander, but already it has paid off with greater communication and understanding between the various flights.

1st Lt. Douglas Saab, Readiness Flight officer in charge, describes the merger as a way to make the various wings work together all the time they way they would in combat. His flight handles the job of planning deployments and war readiness issues, including maintaining mobility, Air Terminal operations and readiness training. Readiness also handles and issues A, B, C, and E deployment bags and weapons for the Wing and all mission partners on base.

"The experience of working so closely year around, means the flights are better prepared" and coordinated when they come together in combat, he said.

Capt. Eric Demett, who is operations officer for the squad, said when he was deployed in Oman, the coming together of the flights under readiness closely resembled what has been formed at MacDill and throughout the Air Force as the components of the "gears" that drive the movement of people and materials in operations come together.

One of the chief advantages, said Captain Demett, is to answering to one commander.

"We have one boss and that means better communication," he said. "That's better when it comes to getting out of town (deploying people and gear)."

For Lt. Chris Burgess, fuels management flight commander, getting everyone and every piece of equipment in the air and on the way is what it is all about. His job is to oversee the flight responsible for all the fuel needs on base, aircraft and otherwise.

"We all sit right here at the table and figure out what it is going to take to get everyone out of Dodge," he said. "That's what it's about."

The deployment exercise was a primer for just that. While many of those involved were experiencing their first such exercise, the trial run came off very well, said Capt. Nick Dyson, vehicle management flight commander. His job involves the management and maintenance of some 600 vehicles on base, including those of MacDill's mission partners. His flight also manages transportation service for distinguished visitors and handled 2,300 DVs last year.

"Wednesday was a feeling-out period, but by the time we repeated it Saturday, everything went very smoothly," he said. A key component of the squadron is the Traffic Management Flight. 2nd Lt. Ken Busler, officer in charge, believes bringing the flights under "one roof" has been a big plus in improving communication and coordination, something that was borne out in the recent exercise.

1st Lt. Michelle Charleston, distribution flight commander, is in charge of the single authority for receiving, storing and shipping Department of Defense supplies and equipment. It operates 24 hours seven days a week and is known as the parts shop, maintaining $44 million in parts to support KC-135 tanker deployments.

She said a big benefit of being part of the new readiness squad is that she has a much greater understanding of the jobs the other flights perform. She goes even further, sitting in on weekly meetings with the Aircraft Maintenance Squadron to be sure everyone is up to speed on issues related to the aircraft parts her flight manages.

"Everyone works a lot closer and has a better understanding about the different aspects now," she said. "I think that's been an improvement."

Alba Parise is chief of Management and Systems. Her job is to provide the training, resources and systems, including computers, to ensure the success of the squadron's overall mission. As the customer support center, where comments, complaints and wants are heard, her office serves as the go-between for the various flights and the people they serve, passing on suggestions to improve efficiency and service levels. She also ensures everything in the squadron is done by the book and therefore is the one who issues the squadron "report card."

On the job since 1988, she has the unique perspective of seeing many changes over the years and she likes the new squadron structure.

"It has really helped me understand more about the other flights and I have learned a lot of things I never realized before (about the jobs they do)," she said.

Of course the merging of so many flights means a new burden on the officers and those in charge of the 6th LRS. Because each must train to do the others job, it means lots of homework and years serving in the various readiness job fields. The training is so involved they have been allowed seven years to complete it.

It's a heavy load, they agree, but already the benefits are being realized in a more capable and faster responding squadron. And in the world of readiness and deployment, there is no better measure of success.




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