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380AEW Article

380 EFSS: Serving those who serve

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Preston Webb
  • 380 Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Deployments can be rough. Airmen, alongside other service members, often go without basic amenities for the sake of defending their home.

However, Al Dhafra Air Base has a much higher quality of life compared to some other deployed locations thanks to the continuous efforts of men and women with the 380th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron.

"This [base] is luxurious compared to a bare-base, or [forward operating base]. We've got dorms, Wi-Fi, a pool, and a DFAC,” said Tech. Sgt. Fredrick Stewart, 380 EFSS Lodging Office operations manager. “If you think this is roughing it, go spend some time at a FOB eating Meals, Ready to Eat three times a day. You'll change your mind real quick."

Housing at Al Dhafra Air Base includes hundreds of air-conditioned dormitories in hardened structures, as opposed to group tents alone. The 380 EFSS Lodging Office manages assignments to and maintenance of every single room and structure.

One of the largest challenges lodging personnel face is room assignments in times of excess manning. Fredrick mentioned most dorms on base house two people, but are designed for four. Manning surges sometimes require three to four people per room.

He went on to say units may overlook the amount of personnel required to deploy with equipment or aircraft.

“Most people think when three aircraft deploy, only three flight crews deploy along with them. Those aircraft need maintenance and support teams,” Fredrick said. “So three aircraft could mean 300 extra people, and suddenly we’ve reached our surge capacity.”

Responsible for more than just “heads in beds,” as Fredrick puts it, the 380 EFSS Lodging Office also records accountability of all on-base personnel, acts as facility manager to more than 400 installation billeting structures, and processes all related work orders.

Most work orders processed through the lodging office are related to improving quality of life for service members on ADAB, such as ensuring air conditioning in quarters is in working order.

"We probably process 50-60 work orders a day, of which about 85 percent are air conditioner related. We have to make sure [dorms] are properly maintained, utilized, and not abused." Fredrick said. "We can also track if Airman Snuffy has had a certain problem with his A/C four or five times in the last two weeks, so there's probably a bigger issue [an Airman] wouldn’t think about."

Deployed life is more than just accomplishing the mission then staring at the walls of a well-kept room. Even in locations with higher quality of life, spending time away from loved ones can be difficult. Airmen need ways to occupy their time to build their resiliency.

Events planned through EFSS Marketing or the Fitness Center offer Team ADAB members a chance to relax and have a bit of fun. From concerts and craft contests, such as cardboard boat races, to fun runs and fitness goals, like reaching 20,000 pushups in a single deployment, 380 EFSS has a lot to offer.

“We’re here to give everyone an outlet to relieve stress and get away. With people missing their loved ones, dogs and cats we’ve tried to make this the place where people can get away to vent while developing a fit, healthier lifestyle,” said Roger Hill, 380 EFSS Fitness Center fitness and sports manager. “We’re an important part of deployed life; we have to keep things from getting so simple you tune them out. We have to make sure Airmen are not only physically but mentally engaged and actively participating.”

While providing access to strength and cardiovascular training equipment, the Fitness Center also works with on-base Coalition partners to offer a variety of programs to keep members engaged. Programs range from customized workout plans and goals to more formal classes such as boxing or spin.

When workouts aren’t enough to cure the boredom that often comes with being off-duty, Airmen can turn to the Learning Resource Center. There they have access to Professional Military Education testing, college classes, and even a library of resource materials, leisure reads, DVDs and games.

While Airmen must still have their education benefits approved through their home stations, Tech. Sgt. Michael Taylor, 380 EFSS NCO in charge of education services, ,and his team strive to provide the best service possible in a deployed location.

“We give education counselling to help Airmen get their CCAF and other education benefits, and we also proctor several tests,” said Taylor. “Helping everyone get through their PME or get squared away so they can finish college really brightens my day.”

Fredrick said he appreciates being a member of a team that has such a high level of pride in their work.

“We’ve got a great team here; we make it happen,” Fredrick said. “I’ve been in the Air Force 16 years, and this easily one of my top two teams that I’ve been a part of.”

Fredrick reminds Airmen poise and restraint is crucial, especially in stressful environments. He reiterates the “hurry up and wait” mentality saying that Airmen too often focus on the “hurry up” aspect alone.

"Patience is key. It’s so nice here that patience seems to be lacking, especially when it comes to work orders and services," Fredrick said. “This is still a deployed location. We’re here to meet everyone’s mission needs, not necessarily their personal wants.”

After submitting a work order, remember to allow ample time for it to be routed and resolved, as the Lodging Office coordinates approximately 1500 work orders each month.