LRS deploys to Alaska for training

  • Published
  • By SSgt. Rachel Barton
  • 127th Public Affairs
More than 40 members of the 127th Logistics Readiness Squadron participated in mission oriented training alongside active duty military, Alaskan Air Guard, and civilian counter parts, as well as Army components present at Joint Base Elmendorf/Ft. Richardson, also known as JBER. The Selfridge Airmen flew to JBER for a two week deployment at the end of July for training in the areas of logistics planning, vehicle operations, traffic management, fuels, transportation, and supply.

In the Air National Guard, it is not unusual for an Airman to do his or her two weeks of required annual training at home station. This is often to meet the needs of the mission at the home unit or can be for the convenience of the citizen-Airmen. However, a group deployment to another military installation offers a unique opportunity for Guardsmen to get hands-on training, a chance to experience an unfamiliar work environment and an opportunity from which to learn.

According to Lt. Col. Brian Botkin, 127th LRS commander, "This is a great win-win situation for both the 127th Logistics Readiness Squadron and the 673rd and 773rd Logistic Readiness Squadrons at Elmendorf. We're able to complete core task training we can't accomplish at home, we're providing key support to the 3rd Wing during their busiest time of the year, and both sides are gaining knowledge and new ideas from one another. We are picking up best practices which we are going to use to improve our operations at home."

One such core task that Selfridge's fuel specialists cannot qualify on at their Michigan base is the use of the underground fuel hydrant system, which is in operation at Elmendorf, but is not a system in place at Selfridge.

"Being the fifth guard base this summer to come to the LRS in Alaska for core task training, they (active duty counterparts) have the (training) process nailed down. We are able to support the 673rd LRS as well as get some training on equipment and vehicles which are not available at Selfridge," said Technical Sgt. Robert Frank, a fuels craftsman for the 127th LRS. He also added, "In the past, training requirements have been waived, but if you deploy you would still be expected to perform these tasks, and it's really better to get hands on experience with these duties before a real world deployment."

Improved efficiency was another take-away from this northern journey. Supply specialists from the 127th LRS were able to study an assembly-line version of an individual equipment issue facility. Elmendorf's 673rd LRS has developed a process which uses the latest handheld scanner technology to expedite assigning military members the contents of mobility bags. In the past, equipment issue has been a tedious process, considering the individualized sizing needs for equipment such as hats, helmets, gas masks, and other items. The streamlined process in place at Elmendorf takes about 45 seconds per troop to complete. According to Master Sgt. Laurie Gleason, a supply craftsman for the 127th LRS, she plans to learn from the system in place at Elmendorf, and use their system to improve operations at Selfridge.

Elmendorf's 673rd LRS also supports cargo shipment for a variety of troop movements and deployments, as do the Airmen at the unique joint military installation of Selfridge. Members of the 127th LRS's Traffic Management Office did a lot of work for the active duty TMO at Elmendorf. They spent their days calculating the centers of gravity for bulky items to be shipped, processing incoming shipments for the 673rd, and augmenting in areas as needed.

Senior Airman Burke Hyde, a 127th LRS TMO Specialist said of his experience, "We've been helping the LRS here stay on top of their workload. Most of the stuff we've touched is either rolling stock or different kinds of oversized cargo."

The deployment was also a chance for the Michigan Airmen to focus on being "fit to fight". With the heightened emphasis on physical fitness in today's Air Force, the commander took the opportunity to motivate his squadron towards a goal of overall fitness. He led group cardio sessions every morning, and encouraged members to also participate in strength training at Elmendorf's Arctic Oasis fitness center at the end of the duty day. During off duty time, Lt. Col Botkin, and Master Sgt. Clayton Wolfinbarger, an Information Systems Administrator and coordinator for this trip, led the deployed LRS contingent on a 3 hour hike to Flat Top Mountain near Anchorage, Alaska. The arduous trip to the top of the mountain was used to show that a fitness-minded lifestyle transcends the gym.

Col. Botkin said of the trip, "This deployment for training was well worth our time and effort. It was great for morale and we are coming away from this with a lot of new knowledge that I look forward to implementing back at Selfridge. I feel that because of this experience we're now more than prepared to support any deployed operation."