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379 EFSS operates COVID-19 transient town

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Michael Battles
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

In response to the coronavirus pandemic that hit Qatar in late February, the 379th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron established the first Transient Town in an effort to minimize the spread of the virus.

Also known as “T-Town,” Transient Town is the sequestered operations established to bed-down all inbound and outbound personnel transiting through Al Udeid Air Base, which restricts and limits the movement of personnel to T-Town, the dining facility, and the passenger terminal through the support of the 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron.

“Prior to COVID-19, there was no T-Town, no restriction of movement orders, or sequester requirements, which meant that all personnel had access to all of the amenities AUAB had to offer,” said Maj. Issa Alvarez, 379th EFSS force support operations officer. “In order to meet the Wing’s mission of minimizing the spread of COVID-19 throughout the base, the requirement to sequester all personnel who could potentially be exposed to the virus due to their ongoing travel from identified high-risk areas mandated the need for the creation of what is known today as T-Town.” 

All transient personnel passing through Al Udeid – to include all transient aircrew requiring crew rest, military working dog handlers and their working dogs, civilians, contractors, and all military service members are required to stay in T-town.

In addition to supplying the initial manpower for bed down operations and feeding operations, the 379th EFSS coordinated free WIFI for all tenants, a work center with network computer and phone access at the T-Town operations enter, a snack bar, a makeshift functional fitness gym and access to Army and Air Force Exchange Services.

“The expeditionary force support squadron’s priority is to make the member’s stay in T-Town as comfortable as possible while following the sequestration guidelines,” said Senior Master Sgt. Andrea Atchley, 379th Manpower & Personnel Flight superintendent. “We team up with multiple agencies on base, such as the USO, in order to provide the best customer service for our residents staying in T-Town.”

In addition to the amenities the 379th EFSS has provided, the 379th Expeditionary Medical Group and mental health teams conduct weekly visits to address health and welfare issues that might arise.

On average, the 379th EFSS processes roughly 500 people through T-Town weekly.

“The threat of exposure to COVID-19 has been and remains high when populations from multiple at-risk populations are mixed together,” said Maj. Alvarez. “In order to minimize the potential of exposure, which can cripple the Wing’s ability to continue to execute their mission, a sequestered bed-down operation for transients is necessary.”

According to Alvarez, T-Town wouldn’t be possible without the support of the entire base.

“They are the reason why this no fail mission is a success,” she said. “The execution and sustainment of T-Town wouldn’t be possible without the support we’ve received from our sister units and service who have provided the necessary manpower to support and maintain the sequestered and self-sustaining operations.” 

She continued that the outpour of volunteers has made quality of life even better for the residents of T-Town.

“Our all-volunteer corps does it all - from custodial and janitorial work to individual movement coordination,” she said. “Moreover, the USO and AAFES have helped improve the quality of life for our tenants with their support packages and services provided. It is the responsibility and the top priority of the EFSS to meet mission requirements while providing the best level of customer service to the best of our ability.”

The Al Udeid Transient Town was established in accordance with Department of Defense and U.S. Air Force policy that requires military installations, property, and personnel and other individuals working or residing on military installations be protected under applicable legal authorities against communicable diseases associated with biological warfare, terrorism, or other public health emergencies.