News: Civilian deployment operations continue at Atterbury
EDINBURGH, Ind. — Although military mobilizations are scaled down and unit deployments are no longer a primary mission set here due to the drawdown of troops overseas, hundreds of contractors from various agencies or contract companies from around the nation continue to deploy civilians to regions around world from Camp Atterbury.
That mission is called the Individual Replacement Deployment Operations or better known as IRDO. It is a world-class training program for deploying contractors and civilians who are authorized to accompany U.S. armed forces in every combatant command operating overseas.
IRDO is a six-day, 40-hour program of instruction that runs from Sunday through Friday. According to Capt. Matthew Limeberry, IRDO operations officer, the program is designed to meet all command theater entry requirements and validates personnel prior to deployment.
“What makes Camp Atterbury and the IRDO operation so unique is first off our walking campus,” said Limeberry. Another is our excellent customer service. “We give them [civilians] the individual detail that they would demand as you would walk into any store on the market. We greet them with a smile on day zero and we’re by their side the entire time.”
Limeberry says that although it is a military operated function; “we run this as a business model where we call them stakeholders and we call them customers. We provide some transparency that you don’t really get in a military organization like this or like at any other CRC operation.”
“That transparency and the communication we give to those stakeholders to be successful when they come here is hands down unmet anywhere else,” he said.
Lisa Mickles, Corinth, Mississippi, is a Department of the Army Civilian assigned to the 59th Signal Battalion and stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska. She recently volunteered for the Civilian Expeditionary Workforce program and is now overseas in Afghanistan supporting logistics operations there.
Prior to her departure she was asked about her time at Camp Atterbury.
“I am a firm believer that if the nation calls on us or our war fighters need us that civilians should deploy to assist them,” said Mickles. She has deployed many times from other locations around the nation, but this is her first visit to Camp Atterbury and best describes it as impressive.
“Everything has ran very smoothly,” said Mickles. “They’ve kept us on a schedule, but it has been open and flowing so we’ve had time to do things we need to do in order to deploy.”
She explains that the full immersion training gives civilians that theater atmosphere whereas some services are not just expected such as driving non-tactical vehicles.
IRDO prepares civilians for that occurrence. “Everything is within walking distance. The launderette, the PX, the USO, the Chapel so it’s very, very convenience and very well laid out,” she said.
Her only recommend change to the program is to tailor the Judge Advocate briefing to contractors and DA civilians and make it a little more synchronized.
Otis Sutton, Los Angeles, is a Department of Energy contractor working for Airscan Inc., and headed to Afghanistan. He is also a U.S. Air Force veteran who served six years before getting out in 2011. He very much wanted to be involved in military operations and believes his contract job offers him just that experience.
He has deployed for other contract companies before and says Atterbury’s program is pretty simple and organized.
“How they divide the teams up is actually kind of beneficial in deconflicting a lot of the same activities we have to do,” he said. “It really makes it easy to move through and get your requirements knocked out.”
IRDO leaders saw a need across the organizations to get the information out collectively. Atterbury hosted a two-day seminar and talked top to bottom on how we do business and what their employees go through when they get here.
So to truly gain an understanding of the IRDO program and its weekly routine contract company leaders themselves took time recently to see just what is nestled in the rolling hills of central Indiana at Camp Atterbury.
As part of the visit, IRDO representatives took employers through multiple phases of the deployment processing to include a tour, visit to the central issue facility, the medical processing, finance, and personnel sections, as well as the simulations training division where they got to experience the roll-over trainer or MET, this is the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle egress trainer.
One employer, Ivelina Konstantinova, a Mobilization and Deployment Manager with Trace Systems in Tysons Corner, Virginia, was increasingly impressed with what she experienced on her two-day trip.
She said it was a great opportunity that the IRDO team proposed a seminar for deployment managers, which provided an overview of what civilians and contractors go through before going overseas.
“The website that the IRDO team manages pretty much tells you everything you need to know,” she said. She went on to say that Deployment managers use it to better prepare their contractors by doing research of the site and understanding all the pre-requisites before they are to arrive at Camp Atterbury.
“The team has done a marvelous job and I am very fortunate to come out and see what they did,” she said. She believes everyone should come to the seminar to get a first-hand experience.
“You cannot tell your contractors what to expect without having been through the same process. You can tell them all the information that is out there, but unless you actually go through the process and know what you need to expect then you are better prepared as individuals and as a company,” she said.
Sheila Wines is a contract manager with Scitor Corporation in Reston, Virginia. She took the time to travel to the base to learn more about the program and was pleased with how accommodating, well organized and detailed the program operates.
“We had the opportunity and the privilege of walking in the steps of what our people would do when they are processing and getting ready to deploy,” she said.
What was surprising to Wines was the one-stop-shop concept, which she believes expedites the civilian deployment process and is a cost savings benefit to their customers.