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Initiatives save Airmen processing time

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNEWS) -- First experiences here used to consist of waiting in lines, dragging bags, waiting in more lines -- and then meeting the people being replaced. Not exactly the warm welcome Personnel Support for Contingency Operations Airmen wanted to bestow upon new arrivals.

New arrivals to this Southwest Asia base now have renovated facilities near the passenger terminal to ease the PERSCO process.

"The goal was to improve the flow of in-processing by designing a more streamlined route for newly arriving servicemembers, and the result shaved approximately 30 percent from waiting times," said Capt. Adam Avnet, the 379th Expeditionary Mission Support Group PERSCO team chief.

The average processing time dropped from 150 minutes to 106 minutes since Air Expeditionary Force Rotations 3 and 4.

The time saved per person is significant, considering that the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing is becoming a major hub for incoming and outgoing Airmen.

"It's all about making a good first impression," he said. "From the moment people get off the airplane here at the 379th, we're the first faces they see and we set the tone for everything to follow here. An organized process here represents what they can expect from the world-class organizations we have throughout the base."

The final product from the 2.5 months of planning and effort is a flexible system that can bend to satisfy separate arrangements, resulting in people not getting mixed up in lines that caused confusion between those who are in- and out-processing, Captain Avnet said.

Normally, there are three stations for in-processing and two for out-processing, but during times of heavy in-processing, additional windows can be opened to avoid bottlenecks.

How the process works now is after the main briefing is complete, people stand in line to hand in their paperwork.

Next, newcomers check into the new lodging processing area adjacent to the main briefing area and receive their room keys. The upgraded lodging area keeps the line moving smoothly by having more people on shift.

The renovation in the lodging area added two more servicing windows dedicated to out-processing, but flexible enough to supplement in-processing.

After people receive their rooms and keys, they move outside to collect their bags and head to customs -- the second stop earmarked for improvement.

Rather than carry bags over gravel and around several turns to get to customs, a new larger facility immediately behind PERSCO will handle customs. The location provides a more pleasant experience by cutting down the walking distance people have to travel with the luggage and eliminates them having to carry their bags through the dirt and rocks.

After the scanners are installed, PERSCO's next planned improvement is to procure and install three sets of roller conveyors, one for each line, which people can place their bags on as they move toward the scanners at the other side of the building. They also plan to create a ramp outside of customs so newly arrived servicemembers no longer have to negotiate the tight passage through the current customs trailer.

Another benefit of the new streamlined PERSCO center is it better handles groups in-processing and out-processing at the same time. When rotators arrive to drop people off, a large group is often waiting to leave on that same plane a few hours later. The PERSCO center's flow accommodates both groups in a shorter amount of time.

"It was an all-inclusive effort to get people through in-processing quicker so they can go eat or get some rest before they report to work the next day," Captain Avnet said.

The 379th Expeditionary Services Squadron worked with PERSCO to synchronize the lodging process, the 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron managed the baggage details, and the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron and Expeditionary Contracting Squadron worked with PERSCO every step of the way to procure facility improvements and materials that facilitate the new streamlined process.

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