News: JPRC: The Accountability Masters of the Joint Task Force
By Nathaniel Moger
Joint Tast Force Guantanamo Public Affairs
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba – It's midmorning on a Saturday. Most residents of U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba are just waking up, making plans to scuba dive or barbecue. Meanwhile, four Joint Task Force Guantanamo Troopers are at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Air Station Air Mobility Command Terminal, ready to welcome new JTF personnel to the island. It's their eighth straight Saturday working and their second straight seven-day workweek.
And next week will be no different.
The four members of the JTF's Joint Personnel Reception Center handle all JTF personnel in-processing and out-processing for accountability and casualty reporting purposes.
"We meet all of the planes," said Air Force Master Sgt. Neely Jo Harrington, JPRC superintendent. "We process everybody when they get off the plane, and make sure everybody's out-processed when they get on the plane."
When personnel arrive the first faces they see are those of JPRC's. They begin by filling out information and receiving necessary briefings. Essentially, the administrative side of their JTF career begins with JPRC.
"We'll take a projected record for reporting personnel and fill in any missing information," said Harrington. "Then we flip the record to active which means they're actually here."
JPRC also helps administer in-briefs that prepare new JTF Troopers for working in Guantanamo.
"We make sure everyone gets an operational security brief and a safety brief," said Harrington.
By putting eyes on every arrival and departure, JPRC is able to keep an accurate accountability log of who's on island and who's not.
"In the military, accountability is extremely important," said Air Force Senior Airman Mike Hites, in-processing clerk.
In the case of a natural disaster, JPRC is able to identify exactly who is on island and ensure that leaders know who to muster. On the flip side, knowing who is off island ensures that search parties aren't sent into dangerous situations looking for personnel who are safe-and-sound in the continental U.S.
"During a hurricane, we can say, 'Wait a minute! Where's Spc. John Doe?' By combining JTF accountability, we should be able to alert people that we need to look for someone in a very short period of time," said Harrington.
Recently, JPRC has implemented a system of tracking duty status, as well. This means personnel attached to the JTF are continually tracked, even when traveling on temporary duty orders or on leave.
"Say there's been an earthquake in California. Higher headquarters could come down and ask, 'How many people are TDY [temporarily assigned duty] to California?'" said Harrington. "We can just go into our database and say, 'Oh, we've got two people that may be in that area.' This way, local commands can account for people in a particular area."
Just as important, JPRC is the final check for out-processing individuals. By holding JTF personnel accountable for providing a completely filled out checkout sheet, JPRC ensures that people aren't leaving the island with business left unfinished.
"People might still have unpaid bills on the island," said Army Spc. Chris Kutyreff, out-processing clerk. "We want to make sure that situations like that don't happen."
Checkout accountability also ensures that JTF personnel aren't forgetting critical documents when changing commands.
"We also make sure they've gone to medical, dental, personnel and have their records," added Kutyreff.
The fact that JPRC is just four people means the hours are long, and sometimes yields seven-day workweeks.
"Whenever a plane lands or takes off, we're there," said Kutyreff. "It's a lot of work, but we've got a job to do."
JPRC plays a vital role to the unseen side of the JTF, and provides the administrative support that allows the operational arm to perform its mission.
"We have to know how many people are on the island, who is on the island and how to find people on the island," said JTF administration, or J-1, manpower officer and interim deputy director Air Force Capt. Tommy Wyatt. "From the personnel accountability, JPRC is the building block of the rest of J-1."