ETDC supplying Airmen with right gear for mission

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Mozer O. Da Cunha
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Expeditionary theater distribution centers, commonly known as ETDCs, maintain gear necessary for all U.S. Central Command personnel. They provide troops with a variety of items including personal armor, advanced combat helmets, chemical warfare gear and cold weather gear.

By stocking items in theater, forward-deploying Airmen no longer need to transport the additional weight and mission-essential equipment during military movements.

“Having us here in theater saves a deploying Airman’s home-unit money on transportation because they no longer have to send the member with all their gear,” said Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Montz, 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron superintendent. “Overall, ETDC is an efficient logistics operation because everybody picks up gear here before forward-deploying to their final destination.”

Ali Al Salem’s ETDC, currently the second largest distribution center in the (USCENTCOM) theater of operations, is the distribution center support hub for more than 14,000 warfighters, issuing up to 100,000 items worth $56 million every six months.

“Here at ETDC, we help customers get the gear that they need to go downrange,” said Senior Airman Terri Harris, 386th ELRS ETDC journeyman. “We currently issue out mobility bags. These bags include a variety of items such as advanced combat helmets, body armor, ballistics plates, chemical warfare protective gear and cold-weather gear.”

In addition to issuing chemical warfare equipment, defense equipment and individual protection equipment, ETDC Airmen are also in charge of an armory that holds a variety of small arms and light weapons.

“They say ‘no one is perfect,’ but with the armory you have to be perfect,” Harris said. “You have to make sure you are watching for everything, that serial numbers are right, nothing is armed and that there is no ammo inside the weapons. You also have to make sure the customers are getting exactly what they are supposed to be issued.”

The ETDC currently inventories and maintains more than 272,000 items valued at approximately $60 million. When not issuing equipment, the ETDC will conduct inspections to verify expiration dates of items with a shelf life.

“We inventory and maintain the warehouse,” Harris said. “We organize the items by expiration date to try to avoid issuing expired items. Some of the items we inspect for shelf life include things you would find in chemical warfare defense bags, like your trousers, your coat, gas mask canisters, decontamination kits and even your (joint first-aid kit) – all that eventually expires. Once it expires we send those items to be either tested or disposed of.”

Aside from inspections, ETDC Airmen also provide basic tests to verify equipment functionality. One piece of equipment they test is the M50 joint service general purpose mask.

“When we inspect the masks, we look to see if there is any visual damage like tears or breaks,” said Airman 1st Class Brianna Renninger, 386th ELRS ETDC journeyman. “The second part of the inspection is done with a machine, and it uses aerosol to check the seals in the mask to see that they are still working properly. The machine also tests the drinking tubes in the masks.”

As service members continue to deploy to locations in the Middle East, ETDC Airmen will continue to maintain and distribute equipment vital to the warfighter, keeping them safe and supplied for all conditions they might encounter.