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PERSCO teams do more than track 'boots on the ground'

by Steve VanWert
Air Force Personnel Center

12/4/2007 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN) -- Every commander needs to know who is in the field and how those numbers affect Air Force readiness -- in short, how many "boots are on the ground." Each Personnel Support for Contingency Operations team's mission is to maintain deployed accountability and casualty reporting for all deployed Airman filling those boots. 

"It's vital for commanders to know mission capabilities," said Vince Fonner, the chief of the Personnel Readiness Division at the Air Force Personnel Center here. "Our PERSCO teams verify who is in the field by name, Air Force specialty code, grade, gender and other factors. Thanks to our teams, we know who's there." 

There are various types of PERSCO teams performing specific missions, according to Master Sgt. Charles Mills, Force Operations Directorate superintendent at AFPC.  

"The majority of our personnelists are filling our accountability and sustainment teams," he said. 

It is the job of the PERSCO team to physically verify who is in the field by category and to report any casualties that may occur. Every base, no matter how remote, has a personnel representative assigned to it. PERSCO team makeup ranges from one to four people, but can increase based on total population of the area they support. 

"There's about one personnelist to every 150 assigned Airmen," said Sergeant Mills. "They send duty status reports daily to different agencies identifying changes to personnel status. Duty status reporting is an essential tool allowing commanders to identify names, strength accountability and availability of personnel." 

As the PERSCO team transitions into sustainment actions, they manage numerous personnel programs including leave, assignments and reenlistments. 

"PERSCO casualty reports are conduits for information on Air Force casualties from the field to deployed commanders to the casualty office at AFPC," said Sergeant Mills. "Thanks to their information, the AFPC casualty office is able to notify unit commanders of those casualties. It's vital that we are able to inform family members as soon as possible, and put into motion all the casualty personnel actions." 

PERSCO teams also act as a two-way information channel from and to the field, often serving as the deployed commander's sole source of information on personnel issues. Through the AFPC Personnel Readiness Community of Practice on the Air Force Portal, the Personnel Readiness Division announces new programs, addresses areas of concern, and provides after-action report cross flows from each AEF rotation. Through the after-action reports, PERSCO teams are provided an avenue to identify issues and trends affecting their mission. 

"PERSCO teams are on the job 24/7," said Sergeant Mills. "Our people work 12-on and 12-off. There are more than 80 PERSCO teams out there at any one time, and they're everywhere from (Southwest Asia to the Pacific to Europe) to Central America,  everywhere an Air Force boot hits the ground. We're truly an example of Airmen taking care of Airmen."

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