Owning the Compound

  • Published
  • By Maj. Ashley Walker
  • 913th Airlift Group

Leave it better than what you found it. Team Little Rock members took this mantra to heart when they deployed in 2019 to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, Southwest Asia in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

“The Wing commander challenged every person deployed there to treat everything with the idea of ownership; to invest blood, sweat and tears into the mission and base,” said Reserve Capt. Nick Paladino, 96th Aerial Port Squadron logistics readiness officer. “There was a team of Airmen that took on that challenge and worked diligently through multiple obstacles to improve and “own” our deployed personnel processing compound and operations.”

A proper facility was required to ensure proper accountability for all deploying into and out of the base, while allowing U.S. Customs to inspect cargo in a timely manner. The various supporting offices and facilities necessary for this process limited the amount of personnel to be processed to four at a time initially.

“The installation was transitioning toward hosting more personnel and the original facilities were already busting at the seams,” said Paladino. “We worked with Aerial Port, PERSCO [Personnel Support for Contingency Operations], U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and Civil Engineering to identify locations, equipment, and build the new compound facilities.”

Through the mantra of “owning” the compound, the deployed team started to identify and coordinate all aspects of a construction project that would be a centralized compound to process all the travelers. Much like an airport terminal, there needed to be a suitable location, adequate equipment, offices, chairs, area to inspect and package luggage, and more.

As the compound literally came together, various agencies over the course of the deployment found ways to streamline their processes.

“What used to take on hour for U.S. Customs to process 25 personnel was narrowed down to 25 minutes,” said Paladino. “As a result, the agency increased the number of personnel they could accommodate from 25 to 40 people within an hour. This is a small example of what all the agencies were doing to own the process.”

Paladino went on to explain that all supporting offices will eventually move into the compound, truly making it a one-stop shop for all the personnel in and out processing into the unit.

“I’m proud of what all of the 96 APS does at home station and abroad,” said Lt. Col. Jeffry Haynes, 96th APS commander. “I know our folks are force multipliers, ready step up to fix what is broken. We encourage our Airmen to take smart risks to make the organization more effective and what better way than to directly support the fight downrange.”

The 96 APS is an Air Force Reserve organization which provides military logistical functions, including processing personnel and cargo, rigging for airdrop, packing parachutes, creating air cargo and load plans, loading and unloading equipment onto aircraft.