Personnel, sustainment Airmen establish morale, rest for KR17 participants
They started with nothing but a few empty, pre-manufactured K-span buildings and 24 concrete pads.
Within 72 hours of arrival, they established a fully operational deployed life support area called Rush Park and began accepting follow on forces Monday, Feb. 27.
The K-spans house beds and cots for 120 personnel and each of the 24 tents holds up to 20. In total, the facility accommodates 520 U.S. military personnel participating in Key Resolve 2017.
First impressions can leave lasting effects and at deployed locations like Rush Park, the LSA team leaves nothing to chance. Lead by Lt. Col. Kevin Marzette, the Rush Park mayor deployed from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, the Personnel Support for Contingency Operations team, or PERSCO, and their counterparts, the Services Sustainment Flight, make it their business to provide a positive experience and help deployed personnel feel at home during this three-week exercise at Osan Air Base in the Republic of Korea.
“The infrastructure build up to KR17 is vital,” said Marzette, who serves as the 56th Mission Support Group deputy commander back at his home station. “You’ve got personnel coming in from all over the world who need a place to rest after 12 or more hours on shift at their respective work centers.”
According to Airman 1st Class Adadggieux Spann, a member of the LSA sustainment team, it took long hours, sweat and determination to build Rush Park from a bare bones facility to fully operational. He explains why his section is the lynchpin to sustained KR17 operations.
“Without sustainment, you wouldn’t have a place to sleep, eat, relax, refresh or relieve yourself,” Spann said, who is a 673rd Force Support Squadron services journeyman deployed from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. “We are important because we provide resiliency in a mock contingency.”
Rush Park’s Sustainment team ensures all personnel have a place to sleep, bathrooms and showers, a morale tent with games and free food served by the United Service Organizations, or USO, and a regular shuttle to and from their new home and main base as their counterparts, PERSCO, fully accounts for all personnel on site, performs casualty reporting and military personnel flight sustainment functions.
“This is how we would actually operate in a real deployment,” the colonel said. “They [deployers] need to get in and be accounted for, get their lodging setup and get ready to go into their work environment and do their part of the fight.”
With Rush Park established, the PERSCO team begins accounting for and tracking all inbound and received personnel. Tech. Sgt. Amber Beckwith, 51st Force Support Squadron career development NCOIC here and member of the KR17 PERSCO team explains just how her team gets it done.
“It’s our job to ensure total force accountability for all warfighters involved with Key Resolve,” Beckwith explained. “In order to track all in and outbound personnel we work closely with the main Joint Personnel Processing Center at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul. We get them gained, inprocessed and accounted for and provide daily situation reports to the main JPPC. Maintaining accountability isn’t hard because we have a close working relationship with them so the process is fairly streamlined here.”
“We have to account for all forces that land in our area of responsibility, which is Osan Air Base,” added Tech. Sgt. Pedro Martinez, a PERSCO team member from the 8th Medical Group at Kunsan Air Base, ROK. “Our team does this by updating what is called the Deliberate and Crisis Action Planning and Execution Segments (DCAPES). This is a classified secret program we use for accountability of troops on the ground.”
Since most military training exercises at Osan Air Base involve service members from nearly every U.S. uniformed service, Martinez explained how Air Force personnelists also update each service’s respective accountability system.
“We usually send the accountability information to our service counterparts, whether they’re Army, Navy or Marines, but sometimes they’re not available or their system is down, so we’re also trained on their systems so there’s never mission failure,” he said. “It’s important because accountability is huge. We need to know where you’re at, whether at home station or deployed, in case of an emergency back home or here.”
Working shoulder-to-shoulder, PERSCO and sustainment must remain highly motivated and organized as they consider all possible aspects, phases and contingencies while working in conjunction with other organizations, to make sure every mission is safe, successful and goes according to plan.
“Exercises like KR17 gives us practice for when we go down range,” Spann said. “It helps us practice for bare base missions where we’re building up from nothing to an actual fully functioning base. So when we get back home, we have improved our knowledge and experience and can go on those six-month deployments.”
Spann explained that when services Airmen show up for a six-month deployment at a bare bones facility, they’re expected to set up a complete base from scratch. Exercises like KR17, while much smaller in capacity, equip them with the tools and know-how to go from nothing to everything.
“We work side-by-side with the civil engineers and our PERSCO teammates to ensure our residents have everything they need to remain focused on their mission,” he said.
However, sometimes, distractions do arise and when a person has a problem back home, PERSCO helps them work through the issue with their home station personnel flight.
"We are a very vital piece of the mission and play a significant role in the peace of mind for people here," said Airman 1st Class Daronda Marsh, a PERSCO team member from the 35th Force Support Squadron at Misawa Air Base, Japan. "People need to focus on their jobs and not worry about what's going on at home."
KR17 is conducted in accordance with the ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty, signed Oct. 1, 1953. The exercise strengthens the two nation’s regional security cooperation essential for addressing the growing threat from North Korea. A strong defense relationship among the United States, Combined Forces Command and the ROK serves as the anchor of stability in the region.
From its start in 1953, the exercise highlights the longstanding and enduring partnership and friendship between the U.S. and Republic of Korea and their combined commitment to the defense of the peninsula and stability across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
“We have a great group here and it’s been a pleasure to work with each and every one of them,” Marzette said. “This is Total Force Integration at its finest. We have U.S. Army personnel, Guardsmen and Reservists alongside our active duty personnel. It’s been just a great team that’s been here to come together and get the mission done.”