By Senior Airman C. Todd Lopez
INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (Nov. 09, 2001) -- It's nice to know someone, besides your family, cares about you and where you are when you deploy.
The Operation Northern Watch Personnel Support for Contingency Operations unit here cares. In fact, that is their primary job.
"Our biggest thing is accountability," said Staff Sgt. Alberto Ceja, 99th Mission Support Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, PERSCO representative. "We account for everybody that comes through here."
"If we don't have accountability, we drop everything," said Senior Airman Amber Hughes, a PERSCO representative from the 27th Mission Support Squadron, Cannon Air Force Base. "No matter what we have to do, accountability remains the most important thing."
Accountability means at least two things at an operation like ONW. First, it means everybody coming onto the base for the first time as part of ONW will essentially be marked present. The compilation of that list of names and respective units is called an alpha roster and is manufactured daily. The list can serve as a locator for every US military member on base involved with ONW.
PERSCO uses various means to ensure the accuracy of their list and to keep it updated. PERSCO will do just about anything to maintain that number.
That may mean going out themselves to visually verify a person exists or calling every first sergeant and asking them to do head counts in their unit. "Fortunately, we have had really good cooperation with the first sergeants here," said Hughes.
Accountability for people on base is only part of the job though. Flagging those who are supposed to be here but who haven't arrived is also important. Fortunately, if someone is supposed to have reported for duty here but hasn't, the problem usually identifies itself.
"A first sergeant would want to know where his inbound person is," said Ceja, "and the person who is being replaced by that person and is due to get out of here would also start to wonder."
PERSCO is concerned with more than headcounts though. There is also an issue of paperwork when military members arrive on station - and the matter of ensuring its currency.
Ceja understands how paperwork could arrive with inaccurate information. He explained military members sometimes complete forms, like the emergency data card, at the last minute. As a result, the data may be less than accurate.
"They say they will fix it later, but you must make sure all your paperwork is correct before you come here," Ceja.
Huges explains why currency and especially accuracy in military forms like the Air Force Form 93, or emergency data card, is important.
"Your paperwork has to be updated when you come here in case we have to notify your next of kin. And of course, if something happens, I have to know where you are," said Hughes.
"Exactly," added Ceja, "we couldn't ever contact a wife or son and say we don't know where you are."