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PERSCO team is mini personnel office

OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (AFPN) -- First impressions can leave lasting effects and at a deployed location, the Personnel Support for Contingency Operations team, or PERSCO team, makes it their business to provide a positive experience and help deployed newcomers.

At this location in the Arabian Gulf region, for example, the PERSCO team meets each plane that arrives and are among the first people to meet the newcomers.

"When the newcomers get off the plane and arrive at the inprocessing tent, we take their orders and their Air Force Form 245 (Employment Locator and Processing Checklist) from them and get them on their way," said 2nd Lt. Brian Batson, deployed from Brooks Air Force Base, Texas.

Once PERSCO has the paperwork, the information is loaded into the personnel system and the team coordinates Right Start briefings, which are introductory briefings that all new people attend.

"We have 15 or 16 Right Start briefers and we coordinate with them at least twice a week for newcomers," Batson said.

However, the services PERSCO provides are more than just introducing new people to the base. The team's main objectives are total force accountability, casualty reporting and military personnel flight sustainment functions.

"Keeping track of the personnel here at all times, regardless of location, is our primary objective," Batson said. "However, we spend a large portion of our time processing re-enlistments and bonuses, since we are in a tax-free zone."

Staff Sgt. Roberto Rodriguez, from Fairchild AFB, Wash., has deployed to Bosnia, Spain, France and Hungary as part of a PERSCO team.

"In addition to accountability, we make sure there are enough pilots, security forces, civil engineers and doctors. If there aren't, we have to get the numbers we need," Rodriguez said.

When a person has a problem at home, PERSCO helps him or her work through the problem with the home station MPF.

"We are a very vital piece of the mission and play a significant role in the peace of mind for people here," Rodriguez said. "People need to focus on their jobs and not worry about what's going on at home."

While helping out others is the main objective, the PERSCO team also benefits from being deployed.

"This is my first deployment and I love it," said Senior Airman Giemar Fernandez, from Ellsworth AFB, S.D. "I've learned so much since I've been here. It's been a valuable experience."