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436th SUPS encourages members to turn in deployment gear

By Airman 1st Class C. Todd Lopez

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (Dec. 18, 1998) -- It happens to most of us. You think you put three pairs of socks into the dryer and you only get two and a half pairs back out. It's bothersome to say the least.

The dryer doesn't really eat them. It's simply a break in the chain of accountability.

The 436th Supply Squadron is very much in tune with how personal accountability can affect mission readiness, and how certain circumstances can influence how closely accountability is maintained.

For example, SUPS is responsible for issuing necessary and accountable equipment such as chemical masks, to deployable units. The squadron sometimes issues that equipment to units ahead of time. Units may then put that equipment into the hands of individuals within their squadrons in order to more effectively store it. When that happens, said Lt. Col. Edward Skibinski, SUPS commander, you are lengthening the accountability trail. The emphasis on the importance of tracking that equipment becomes fuzzy.

"When somebody PCSs out, the gas mask they were given becomes the last thing on their mind, as a result," said Senior Master Sgt. Barbara Campbell, 436th Supply Squadron, "people leave them in the trunk of their car or in their apartment."

Accountability is also impeded when the equipment is not from your unit. Equipment can easily be forgotten or misplaced when members from other bases come through without necessary items and Dover Air Force Base must supply that equipment to them.

"We recently had two airmen come through who did not have their chemical ensembles," said Skibinski. "They were tall people, but they only had medium ensembles. Their unit probably only had that size when they left. We signed some gear out to them, and we ran it out to the airplane. I have no doubt that equipment will get back into the supply system, but probably not here. Dover will show a shortage for that equipment."

"Funding then becomes a big issue," said Skibinski. "Less accountability leads to misplaced equipment and ultimately that takes money out of the pot for quality of life issues at Dover."

There are solutions being considered to address the problem.

"The wing is looking to set up a consolidated deployment operations center. The Aircraft Generation Squadron is moving into their new squadron operations building, and we're looking at moving the Personnel Readiness Unit into Building 582. Wing members would process out through there as a one stop shop; when they return they would process back in through there to return their items," said Skibinski.

Ultimately, deployable individuals can contribute to the solution, said Skibinski.

"The Air Force is becoming a mobile force, an expeditionary force. We are not forward basing as many troops as we did in years past. We rely on personal and organizational equipment to be mobile. People need to be ready personally with their shots, their weapons training, and their personal gear. The gear needs to be in good condition and of sufficient quantity. People need to be vigilant and have to remember when you sign that hand receipt you are accountable for that gear. It's really is an awareness issue."