An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Dyess creates ‘virtual’ deployment process, saves time

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Tory Patterson
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Service members who have deployed know what a PDF line is, even if they don’t know what it is.

With nostalgia in her voice, Tech. Sgt. Tanika Webb, 7th Force Support Squadron personnel readiness non-commissioned officer in charge, explained.

“The Personnel Deployment Function, or PDF, line is what you have to process before you get on the plane to leave,” she said.

Historically, a deploying Airman could expect to spend six to eight hours working through the system.

“For example, if 200 deployers are leaving at the same time, each one of those individuals have to wait for every single person to process the line,” she continued.

Second Lt. Jonah Whitt, 7th Logistics Readiness Squadron installation deployment officer, described the PDF line as an almost industrial process.

“You have individual personnelists, Airman and Family Readiness Center representatives, Chaplains and so on, and they all had stations,” said Whitt. “Passengers would
literally go and hand them folders and get things checked off like an assembly line.”

Now, Dyess deployers can complete that ‘assembly line’ almost completely virtually.

Webb, Whitt, and the rest of the 7 FSS and LRS teams have transformed what used to be day-long PDF lines into a two-hour process.

According to Webb, the PDF line serves as the ‘eligibility check’ portion of the deployment process. It’s how the Air Force ensures Airmen who arrive in the deployed theater are ready – medically, administratively, and so on – to accomplish their missions downrange.

While vital, the PDF line wasn’t necessarily efficient. However, Dyess’ FSS and LRS teams, like so many others during the COVID-19 pandemic, considered the potential of the digital realm to optimize the system.

In the new process, FSS works in close coordination with Unit Deployment Managers, or UDMs, who verify requirements in the weeks prior to a deployer’s departure.

Those UDMs report completed requirements to FSS virtually. Then, FSS representatives can ‘sign-off’ groups of deployers all at once. Redundant steps or ‘extra layers’ were removed, said Webb.

“The entire improvement is possible because of robust pre-coordination with all the agencies who are required to brief or process deployers,” said Whitt. “The new process consolidates 80% of the departure day processes into a streamlined, virtual process that is done weeks ahead of time.”

Now, instead of facing something like an assembly line before departing Dyess, Airmen deploying from the installation arrive at the Deployment Control Center, have their name ‘checked off,’ are added to a plane’s manifest and are ready for take-off.

Time can be a valuable resource for a deploying Airman and for the host of agencies it takes to get those deployers prepared. The new process saves time for deployers and support agencies alike.

“It centralized everything, it standardized everything, it gave us back our time and it gave the member back their time,” said Webb.

COVID-19 precautions did play a role in speeding up the start of this new process; mass assembly lines of deployers would have presented a risk to the base. However, Webb and Whitt credit a culture of improvement as a contributing factor as well.

“We’ve been trying to figure out process improvements,” said Webb, who attended a Continuous Process Improvement class when she first arrived at Dyess. “It’s just kind of in our minds and it’s the mentality here – just figuring out processes that are innovative.”

The Installation Deployment Readiness Center executes the massive coordination of personnel and cargo that is required for any deployment operation.

“We get ‘taskings,’ or combatant commanders essentially asking for what they need, then the IDRC sends those to the UDMs,” said Whitt. “Our team makes sure we execute; that includes taskings for both wings at Dyess – the 7th Bomb Wing and 317th Airlift Wing.”

In other words, any request for Dyess’ B-1B Lancers or C-130J Super Hercules aircraft and people to deploy around the world has to be executed by the IDRC.

“We definitely understand the responsibility of what we do,” said Whitt. “At the end of the day, the end-users are our deployers and we want to make sure they are taken care of.”