SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) --
The next time Airmen from the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing pack their bags, it will not be to return home.
Instead they will travel to a new home right here.
That home is the Temporary Cantonment Area, or TCA. As construction progresses at the TCA, base leadership scheduled April as the month “to move.”
“This is an exciting time to be deployed here,” said Col. Merrily Madero, 380th Expeditionary Mission Support Group commander. “Everyone who will be here in April will be a part of a move that has been in the works for many years.”
The colonel said the move will be orchestrated so when people arrive at the TCA, many key operations will already be set up and fully operational to support the new residents.
The first order of business will be to make sure people are provided with sustainable security, fire protection, medical care, meals and laundry facilities, she said.
For a short time the fitness center will be one building with both aerobic and weight equipment combined until another structure is moved to the TCA. She also said the base is working with the Army Air Force Exchange Service to have the base exchange in the TCA open with needed items while people are still living at both locations.
“One concern is, that we can not run operations at both the TCA and tent city for an extended length of time, so we are going to do what we can to make this an efficient and fast move,” the colonel said.
The 380th mission is to provide direct support to fighting forces on the ground and to provide air refueling as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The colonel said the mission will not shut down to support this move.
“We are in a war and the move will not put a hold on the daily operations of this wing,” she said. “That means people will have to be flexible and resourceful to complete the move to the TCA.”
Moving means a big upgrade from a tent city where 13-year-old tents house six to eight people each. Support functions are peppered around the area without much consolidation or convenience.
According to Lt. Col. Craig Biondo, 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron commander, espirit de corps should increase with the transition. He said that instead of the small groups in current tent arrangements, each unit will have an entire dorm hallway or dormitory to themselves.
“The new arrangements will inspire more pride of ownership than dilapidated, weather-beaten tents,” he said. “Hard-wall billets with 24-hour quiet hours means better crew rest for everyone. A well-rested maintainer can better take care of our war-fighting assets in a sustained global war on terrorism.”
Colonel Madero also said the new dorm rooms are nearly twice the size of the standard room.
“The policy states each person must have at least 50 square feet of living space. In the new TCA dormitories, the rooms are 180 square feet shared by two people,” she said.
According to Colonel Madero, the rooms are laid out with two bunk beds and wall locker for each occupant. The bunk beds she said will be especially useful during rotations periods.
“You will be able to hand your room over to your replacement and have more time for a smooth turnover and continuity between departing and inbound personnel,” she said. This means there could be four people in a room for a short time between rotations.
Another benefit to the new dorms will be no more middle-of-the-night excursions outside to use the restroom. Each 20-room bay will include a restroom and showers inside the building as well as a dayroom with two or three computers connected to the base network. Each dorm room will have its own mini-refrigerator and an on-base telephone.
“We have the unique opportunity to lead the way as the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing transforms from an expeditionary footing to something more enduring,” Colonel Madero said.