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Gateway to the Middle East: PERSCO team is one-stop shop for deployment

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Dalton Williams, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs Office

It’s 1:37 a.m., besides the occasional shrubs tussling in the breeze, or the choir of streetlights humming on empty roads, nothing is stirring. However, for the 386th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron Personnel Support for Contingency Operations team—it’s game time.

In one hour, hundreds of Airmen will arrive to inprocess the installation and they need to hit the ground running. In order for this to happen, a complex system of teams need to work in tandem, hitting their marks minute by minute. There’s no time for a communication breakdown.

Like players huddling around their quarterback for a game winning drive, the PERSCO team gathers around to go over assignments one last time. 

“After we go over our roles and responsibilities for the night, we make sure we’re communicating throughout the entire process, because that’s what matters at the end of the day,” said Senior Master Sgt. Ashley Montgomery, 386th EFSS PERSCO team chief. 

The arrival of new deployers resembles a choreographed dance with one exception–none of the dancers know the routine. That’s where Montgomery steps in, giving commands to ensure the dance of inprocessing is efficient and controlled, often taking less than 30 minutes. 

“As soon as they [new service members] arrive, I’m calling squadrons off one at a time,” said Montgomery. “I have two individuals on each side working each bus, with a director in the middle. When they have finished unloading passengers, they’re using hand signals to another team that they’re good to go. At the same time, we have a team directing foot traffic right in tandem with another team. Everyone knows exactly where they need to be, at the time they need to be there.”

This skill in coordination ultimately bleeds over from their team and onto the new arrivals. The PERSCO team is able to coordinate everyone’s efforts, using the newly-arriving members to unload thousands of pounds of luggage and sort them into alphabetical order, all within minutes. 

There’s no question how they are able to consistently achieve a feat in manpower and logistics, day-in and day-out.

“We are always trying to make ourselves better,” said Staff Sgt. Paris Lauvale, 386th EFSS  sustainments NCOIC. ”We’re always one step ahead, checking things like arrival times and overall changes. We’re overcommmunicating to each other, because the small details matter.”

By being one of the largest PERSCO teams in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, they are also the gateway to the Middle East, providing support to military personnel in transit across the AOR. 

Their meticulous planning and detail leads to hundreds of personnel inprocessed through their doors each month and enables them to maintain accountability for every individual on the installation. 

“We have a pretty energetic group,” said Lauvale. “I know the passengers are tired, but I hope when they see our smiling faces, they feel welcome. We’ll take care of your people."