Happy Hooligans step up for AEF deployment cycle
By SMSgt David H Lipp, 119th Wing
/ Published January 19, 2018
North Dakota Air National Guard Base, N.D. -- The North Dakota Air National Guard has seen its largest number of personnel coming and going for deployment from April, 2017 through the end of February, 2018 than it has since the Korean War when it deployed about 400 people.
Unit members from various support areas in the 119th Wing have been sent to 5 bases, primarily in southwest Asia, to seamlessly fill their roles at those locations as part of an Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) rotation.
Units belong to specific AEF deployment vulnerability periods that are planned ahead of time and the Department of Defense taps into personnel resources at various bases to make up an AEF Wing at a deployed location.
The U.S. Air Force active duty personnel, the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves fill their portions of deployments as part of a planned rotation or cycle, requiring individual units to fill ‘taskings’ for bases in the deployed locations. The taskings are requests to units for personnel in specific jobs and training levels that must be filled.
These taskings are involuntary, partial mobilizations that allow some flexibility for the unit and its members to designate who will deploy within functional areas on base.
While one functional area might have six people suited for the deployment and have a tasking for three, which allows for unit discussion and personal volunteerism, another functional area might not have any flexibility because it has only the same number of people that meet the criteria for the tasking as is required.
Once the functional areas on base have worked out who they are going to send, the names get submitted back to the National Guard Bureau (NGB) so the mobilization order reflects the proper names when it is issued. After this order officially comes down from NGB to the unit, any changes are difficult to make because they require an approval signature from the Secretary of Defense to authorize them.
The 119th Logistics Plans and Integration office closely monitors the unit taskings and the ever-changing requirements for the deployments, and they depend heavily on the work of the unit deployment managers (UDMs), which is an additional duty for them.
“We successfully filled 97 percent of our taskings, with only four out of 148 unfilled for medical reasons, which can only happen with a lot of people doing good work from around the whole base,” said 2nd Lt. Mike Schuldt, the 119th Logistics Support Group installation deployment officer. “Without the great work of the UDMs, there is no way we could have accomplished this deployment.”
Unit members are having a wide variety of personal experiences at their deployed locations, with some of the work being very similar to what they did in Fargo and some being quite different.
“The work I did was on a much larger scale there (at the deployed location) than at home. The work required the same skill set and training for us, but we did things that we didn’t often do back at our base. So, we had to adapt and learn some things on the fly,” said Lt. Col. Nate Brenneman, who was the 119th comptroller in the finance office in Fargo, and served as the budget officer with the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at his deployed location.
The deployed unit members are returning in the same order they departed, so many of the people who left in April were returning in October, with many others yet to return.
The homecoming reunions are periodically occurring at Hector International Airport and also a charter flight with 51 members if the 119th Civil Engineering Squadron members arriving on the flight line at the N.D. Air National Guard Base in Fargo.
"My deployment was a very rewarding experience, and probably one of the highlights of my career. If you get a chance to go on a deployment, I recommend doing it" said Brenneman.