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UDMs help keep Grissom ready during deployments

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Courtney Dotson-Essett
  • 434th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, IND. — Putting boots on the ground at multiple worldwide deployment locations is no simple feat.

Doing a job that requires attention to detail and an extensive amount of footwork, unit deployment managers are the lifeline in making sure deploying Airmen are ready to go with the tools, training, and equipment they need to succeed.  

In one of the largest deployments Grissom has seen in years, base UDM’s are increasingly busy, tasked with making sure departing wingmen have all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed.

Senior Master Sgt. Zachary Gaumer, 434th Installation Deployment Readiness Center superintendent said he believes this is the busiest deployment tempo since Desert Storm.

“Before January we were seeing maybe one or two people a month unless it fell against a maintenance or ops tempo,” Gaumer said.

Noticeably different this time around, he said, is that members from units all over the base are deploying, as opposed to just one or two units.  

“We are mobilizing units that we’ve never mobilized on this scale,” Gaumer said. “It used to be a lot of security forces, maintenance and civil engineering. Now it’s everybody.

“It makes us busier because of the massive increase in data handling, communication and the ever changing requirements of the combatant commanders,” he added.

So what does it take to get a deploying Airman ready to walk out of the door? A lot of prep work on the part of the UDM and the deploying member.  

 “There’s a lot of moving parts,” said. Master Sgt. Christie Kurka, a 434th logistics planner and IDRC NCOIC. “There’s a lot prep work prior to the member even getting here like medical records, key support forms, double checking deployment folders.”

In addition to administrative functions, unit deployment managers are also responsible for ensuring logistical items and equipment are functional and in place. 

Such a massive undertaking and detailed role requires a lot of attention. Therefore, each group on base has its own UDM with the exception of the Mission Support Group, which has two.

However, the responsibility isn’t solely on the UDM.  Members keeping up with readiness and their deployment folders makes the job much easier for all involved.

Gaumer and Kurka agree that ongoing maintenance goes a long way in making the process efficient.

“It depends on how well-organized a deployer is,” Gaumer said. “If they think ahead it can be easier to get them out of the door because each member’s need is unique in its own way.”

“Just taking a little bit of time every UTA to review your folder and training can put a member way ahead and that’s less the deployer has to do later,” Kurka added.

She noted that the readiness rodeo in March 2018 was key in preparing Grissom members for recent and future deployments and part of the wing effort it takes to accomplish them.

“There’s a lot of people that help us. We couldn’t do it on our own,” she said.

Of special importance Gaumer said, is the support of wing leadership.

“The buy-in from wing leadership helps foster the environment of readiness,” Gaumer said. “They understand how critical it is.

“Our wing leaders and key support shake the hand of every single person who’s leaving. I think it’s good for morale and that means a lot,” he added.

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. Men and women from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.