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Manas ETDC
The 376th Expeditionary Theater Distribution Center at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan processes approximately 200 Airmen at a time in preparation of their deployments to Afghanistan. Equipping the troops and ensuring serviceability of the gear are a vital aspect of today’s contingency operations, which is what the ETDC Airmen achieve every day. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Steele Britton)
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Manas ETDC - Last hub kits Airmen up for Afghanistan

Posted 7/9/2009   Updated 7/17/2009 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Olufemi Owolabi
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

7/9/2009 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan  -- Equipping the troops and ensuring serviceability of the gear are a vital aspect of today's contingency operations, which is what the Airmen at the Expeditionary Theater Distribution Center here is all about. 

The Airmen of the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing's ETDC not only ensure service members on their way to Afghanistan are properly equipped; they ensure they render this service in no time and with a smile. 

With the uncertainty of return, every member passing through the ETDC considers it their last stop to the area of responsibly. And with this in mind, the ETDC team, with a few members, knows a high level of professionalism and timeliness can go a long way. 

"Our job is to provide the equipment needed to protect the troops, this may be the last stop for most Airmen before they go in to country," said Staff Sgt. Kishima Garcia, ETDC stock control non-commissioned officer deployed from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. "We support everyone going to the AOR, and we make sure at least we put on a smile because you never know if the person is going to come back or not."
Recently, the team processed about 200 transiting Airmen going to Afghanistan; the lines are broken up into smaller groups to accommodate the size. Fifty personnel went through the line in less than an hour. 

This group, according to the superintendent of the shop, Master Sgt. Donald Scott, is considered as a small group. Sometimes the ETDC processes more than 200 Airmen a day. 

"We push service members in and out of the door to Afghanistan within 24 hours," Sergeant Scott said. "The effect of this is to reduce the workload for Airmen to carry the equipment from their home stations." 

Airman 1st Class Jonathan Beckton, deployed from Holloman AFB, N.M., also echoed what his superintendent said. 

"It is a good thing that we (ETDC members) are here serving these Airmen," he said. "If they get all this equipment from their home station, they will be carrying a lot of luggage. So it is easier for troops to come here, get their gear and go to the AOR. It also saves the Air Force thousands of dollars from shipping all the equipment." 

Apart from serviceability and ensuring availability, they are responsible for an assortment of inventories of thousands of mobility gear, which include chemical defense equipment, cold weather gear, helmet, first-aid kit and individual body armor. Expired, or items not in compliance, are replaced or removed from the shelves when necessary. 

"Every day here, we accomplish something because when we are not pushing the line, we are validating the shelf life or restocking the shelves," Sergeant Garcia added. "We are ensuring we are ready to go so the people processing through can get the necessary assets they need in support of Operation Enduring Freedom." 

In order to make the job of maintaining the gear and equipping Airmen easier for the ETDC Airmen, they ensure all the bags are tariff-sized, which is the placement of every equipment or gear having the same size in the same bag. With the exception of real world foot wear, tariff-sizing provides the equipment to the users in a "ready-to-pick-up" state. They don't have to sort through an array of equipment all over the shop to find what they need. 

"To process personnel in a timely manner, our bags are pre-positioned to reduce the turnaround time," said Sergeant Garcia. "The whole process can take about two hours depending on the amount of personnel going down range. Our ETDC personnel know the members we process are tired, so we try to make this experience as painless as possible." 

According to Senior Airman Virginia Garcia, from Malmstrom AFB, Mont., on her way to Bagram, members of the ETDC here were very helpful and are knowledgeable Airmen who get the job done. 

"They were all very friendly," she said. "There was no running around; they know their stuff. I asked them a question; they gave me a straight answer." 

Knowing how important their job is to Manas mission and to the deploying Airmen, ETDC members take their job seriously with attention to details, ensuring they "leave no stone unturned" when inspecting and gearing up the deployers because they know it is all about saving lives.

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