Deployment cycles have changed: SMEs explain

Prior to joining the military, I had this misconception that everyone deploys – and they go to bad parts of the world to fight wars. At that time, I didn’t really know much about the military or its various missions. Now that I have a few years under my belt, I know this isn’t always the case. Sometimes you can volunteer to deploy, sometimes you get told you’re going to deploy, and well – as far as location…you can really deploy to anywhere in the world!

The deployment cycle process was recently changed, and for the first time since this change, the 115th Fighter Wing is coming up on its first Reserve Component Period. Rather than each Airman being assigned a deployment window, the entire wing is now given a timeframe in which it could deploy. The biggest advantage to this change is that those who deploy would deploy with Airmen they work with on a daily basis. The familiarization with each other would make the deployment smoother. They wouldn’t have to waste time learning each other’s work habits.

I’m definitely not a subject matter expert on the changes that are now in effect, but Capt. Archiquette and Lt. Cummings took the time to answer a few questions you may have about the changes. Here are the questions we asked, and the answers they provided:

 

How is Agile Combat Support different from how we use to deploy?

Airmen used to be assigned to an Aerospace Expeditionary Force (AEF) bucket and different Airmen from different installations were deployed to locations throughout the world. The new Agile Combat Support (ACS) system, which includes the Reserve Component Periods (RCP) assign each wing to a specific timeframe in which they are vulnerable to deploy. During these periods, large groups from each wing are deployed together to the same locations. This allows for continuity and team effectiveness while deployed with members from their home Wing.

How will ACS affect the AEF or TSP deployments for the AFSC’s that support the flying mission?

The new ACS mission has the possibility of affecting the AEF or Theater Security Package (TSP) deployments by affecting the availability of the wing support structure. If an AEF or TSP deployment were to occur during a RCP period in which many support AFSCs are tasked, it could limit the resources available to support the AEF or TSP departure and/or return.

Will ACS affect all AFSCs?

The ACS will affect all AFSCs that are assigned to a UTC that is vulnerable to deploy. Most AFSCs affected are in a support role.

How will Airmen know when they are in their deployment window?

The entire wing will know when they are in their deployment window, because they will all be in the window together. Each wing is assigned to a RCP and that information is communicated to individual Airmen through their unit deployment manager.

Will deployments be voluntary?

No, deployments will not be voluntary and in most cases will be a mobilization. However, typically in our organization, commanders and UDMs solicit “volunteers” to fill mobilization taskings initially. If there are no volunteers for the required tasking, commanders may select deployers based on organizational requirements.

If there was one thing Airmen should know about this new process what would it be?

Be ready! Ensure all family, finances and civilian employment are prepared for a deployment. The new RCP cycles allow for earlier notification of the member in order to allow them to ensure they are mission ready when their assigned cycle begins.

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About Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode

Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode is a photojournalist for the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wisconsin.