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Military

Expeditionary Airmen form unique personnel team

by Tech. Sgt. Brian Davidson
447th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs


7/5/2005 - BAGHDAD, Iraq (AFPN) -- More than 85 Airmen have begun serving 365-day deployments supporting the war on terrorism here, and about 200 positions are expected to be in place by December.

For many people, the extended tour offers a unique opportunity to help freedom and democracy grow in Iraq; however, with that opportunity comes a unique set of challenges when it comes to career and personal matters.

In response to those challenges, a team of Airmen have begun their own tour in Baghdad. They are the expeditionary Air Force personnel element at Camp Victory.

The five Airmen, all experts in personnel issues unique to people serving in a deployed environment, have set up shop in what has become known as the “Air Force House,” a building once home to Saddam Hussein’s daughters.

Earlier this year, Air Force officials announced that some people deploying in support of the war on terrorism would break away from the standard air and space expeditionary force rotation in favor of a 365-day extended deployment to help build stronger relationships with host-nation governments.

The extended tours include key operational and joint task force positions intended to offer joint task force commanders more continuity in critical positions where the local culture requires more time to establish meaningful ties with local people and government officials.

“There are career benefits for extended temporary assignments, including short-tour credit and exemption from AEF and other contingency deployments for six months following the assignment,” said Maj. Michael Mullins, chief of the personnel element. “Our mission is to offer these deployed warriors a full-up customer service establishment, carrying out the mission of a mini military personnel flight and a robust commander’s support staff.”

Because the yearlong positions are an integral part of a combatant commander’s mission, Maj. Gen. Anthony F. Przybyslawski, Air Force Personnel Center commander at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, knew that people filling those positions would require an expeditionary personnel flight capable of catering to their unique needs.

Since arriving in Baghdad in April, the team has provided service in areas such as professional military education, promotions, decorations and even rest and recuperation issues.

“We have been holding workshops with other operating base (personnel) teams to make sure our services are on target and coordinated,” said Major Mullins, who is deployed from AFPC.

The Airmen also serve as the commander’s trusted advisers for assisting deployed personnel teams with personnel accountability, casualty issues and assignment position data.

Although providing military personnel flight services may sound mundane, doing so in a deployed environment is not without its dangers. The team is exposed to insurgent rocket and mortar attacks along with the Airmen they serve.

Although the 365-day deployments may appear to be remote tours, they are not permanent change-of-station moves. Airmen remain attached to their home stations during their tours.

These unique positions will help add stability to the Air Force’s role in Iraq, and the personnel team will add a home-station level of support for the people serving in those positions, said Chief Master Sgt. John Potts who is deployed from Scott AFB, Ill.

Although the team is serving the people assigned to Operation Iraqi Freedom for one year, they are on a standard AEF rotation.

“When it’s time to redeploy, we will have systems, procedures and continuity firmly established for the next team coming in,” Major Mullins said.



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