UDMs accept heavy responsibility

  • Published
  • By Airman Cortney Hansen
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
Every Airman joins the United States Air Force with the understanding that they could be tasked to deploy to any location in the world at any moment. Once an Airman is tasked to deploy, coordination with their Unit Deployment Manager is key to a successful deployment.

The UDM position is usually an extra duty, which requires the appointed UDM to find time within their primary duties to prepare their Airmen for world-wide deployment.

"My job entails deploying people to the [Area of Responsibility] and getting them ready in the aspects of equipment - to make sure they're properly equipped - and to make sure they're properly trained," said Robert Hetrick, unit deployment manager for Air Force Global Strike Command's 341st Civil Engineer Squadron.

Requirements that have to be met for people to deploy are constantly changing from month to month, and it's the UDM's responsibility to keep up with the changes and relay them to the appropriate people.

Once an Airman gets tasked for a deployment, they will set up an initial briefing with their unit deployment manager. The unit deployment manager will create a folder for them with all of the information, or reporting instructions, they need in order to get themselves ready.

"I have to spend an enormous amount of time getting their folders set up," Mr. Hetrick said. "It takes a couple of days to get everything downloaded because everything is specific to where they're going. I have specific meeting dates that we set up together - that way we don't interrupt their day-to-day business. They're given suspenses that they have to get things done by and if they meet them, everything goes really smooth."

A UDM will schedule all relevant training, and make sure all equipment is ready to go. They will also keep tabs on the Airmen they are deploying to ensure that all of their requirements are being met; whether it's medical requirements or to make sure their out-processing checklists are progressing well.

Unit deployment managers also play a large role in base exercises. They are responsible for getting people together, briefing them on how to get ready and determining what personnel and what equipment needs to be prepared and processed for the exercise. They also have to determine alternate plans for the exercises in case something were to go wrong. During base exercises, UDMs will work very closely with the Deployment Control Center.

"The Deployment Control Center is the hub of everything that goes on," Mr. Hetrick explained. "When the equipment is being processed it goes through them, when people are being processed they go through them. All of the UDMs go through the Deployment Control Center. When anything goes wrong, the Deployment Control Center is the first to know about it and they contact us to correct any problems that might occur."

Malmstrom's civil engineer squadron deploys a large number of Airmen each year - anywhere between 30 and 60 people - because of this, Mr. Hetrick shares his UDM responsibilities.

"When Mr. Hetrick sends down the reporting procedures for individuals within the squadron, what I do in turn is look in the reporting procedures and see what equipment they need," said Tech. Sgt. David Garcia, 341st CES logistics noncommissioned officer in charge. "Then I gather all of the equipment that they need to leave here with, whether it be over to the AOR or going to [combat skills] training; it could even be a [temporary duty assignment]."

Preparing Airmen for deployment - quite possibly the hardest part of the careers - may seem somewhat impossible, but every day, throughout the entire Air Force, unit deployment managers accept and ultimately fulfill this significant responsibility.