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Desert Defenders LOGDET equips warfighters

Staff Sgt. Dale Wilson, assigned to the Desert Defender Ground Combat Readiness Training Center, moves a MZRZ lightweight tactical all-terrain vehicle at the Desert Defenders Logistics Detail site here Feb. 24. Photo by Abigail Meyer, Fort Bliss Bugle Editor.

Staff Sgt. Dale Wilson, assigned to the Desert Defender Ground Combat Readiness Training Center, moves a MZRZ lightweight tactical all-terrain vehicle at the Desert Defenders Logistics Detail site here Feb. 24. Photo by Abigail Meyer, Fort Bliss Bugle Editor.

By Abigail Meyer, Fort Bliss Bugle Editor:

(El Paso, Texas, Mar. 9, 2017) No matter the branch of service, warfighters need gear. In an effort to become more efficient and standardize equipment, the Air Force has consolidated all equipment security forces Airmen may need downrange by making changes at the Desert Defender Ground Combat Readiness Training Center here.

The center is where Air Force security forces come for deployment training, and it has a two-fold mission – train the warfighter and equip the warfighter. The Air Force has greatly streamlined the second part of that mission.

The Air Force used to store equipment security forces Airmen needed for deployment at various air bases. Individual unit deployment managers were responsible for keeping track of the equipment. Now, Airmen and civilians assigned to the Desert Defender RTC Logistics Detail do.

“The biggest impact that you see right now across the Air Force, was over 1,100 hours in man hours a month that individual units would spend inventorying, maintaining and reporting. That’s been cut,” said Master Sgt. Brent Helman, noncommissioned officer in charge, LOGDET, Desert Defender RTC. “That’s 1,100 hours a month we save the Air Force because we do it instead of those individual units. Now those units can concentrate more on their core missions.”

The unit preps, packs and does paperwork for all kinds of gear for SF Airmen deployed downrange. The gear varies from lanterns to MRZRs (lightweight tactical all-terrain vehicles) to mobile observation towers.

“We solely hand out security forces support equipment to set up a bare base … if they need an entry control point kit, this is where they are,” Helman said. “We have confrontation management (riot control gear), tactical automated security systems (TASS), different generators, things like that.”

Just seven Airmen, all career security forces Airmen except one, and three civilians, inventory, order and track the gear.

“One day we’re stocking and taking inventory, doing supply specialist stuff, the next we’re prepping stuff to go on an aircraft and that’s more of an aerial porter job. To put these towers on a plane we have to build wooden ramps and that’s a civil engineer job, so we wear five or six different job hats,” Helman said.

The consolidation started back in 2007, when the Air Force looked to gain efficiencies in operations.

“In the 2006-2007 timeframe we figured out that we as a career field were over 200 percent posture when it came to equipment so it’s a lot of wasted money and manpower and a lot of wasted shelf space,” Helman said. “The actual consolidation happened in 2014, a small team here started going around to 50 different CONUS units and going through their equipment based off a list, figuring out what is serviceable, what isn’t and started the process of shipping it here.”

The LOGDET is about 90 percent done stocking and plans to be fully operational Oct. 1.

The equipment is housed in a few warehouses here. The location is ideal, due to Fort Bliss’ access to transportation. They can railhead gear or use Biggs Army Airfield, which is capable of shipping large pieces.

Efficiency and standardization are key to the LOGDET mission.

“One of the biggest selling points when it came to consolidation, was saving a little over $4 million annually,” Helman said. “Now a caveat to that is we’re buying new. A lot of the equipment we received is antiquated or non-standardized, but in the long run we’re going to be saving the Air Force money.”

As an example, Helman said, different units were using 10 different types of generators. Now, they’ll aim to standardize that, and provide gear that’s flexible for different theaters.

“We never know what our enemy’s going to be in the future, so we try to throw it all into one- will this work in different areas of the world,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Hammack, assigned to the LOGDET. “When we’re buying products we want to make sure it can be used at low altitude, high altitude, high temperatures, low temperatures, stuff like that.”

While there are just a few Airmen and civilians tackling this large mission, figuring it out as they go, Hammack said it’s a welcome challenge.

“It’s a good feeling, knowing that our job here affects so many lives downrange and where our career field goes in the future,” Hammack said.

The LOGDET already occasionally sends out orders as needs arise. They’ve shipped off a few Raven unmanned aerial systems and are preparing to send out mobile observation towers. Helman said while they don’t have two-day shipping, they try to get equipment to warfighters downrange as soon as possible.

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