News: Camp Arifjan’s Gateway to theater travels throughout Kuwait
Story by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Hill
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - The 138th Theater Gateway is responsible for moving military personnel and civilians in and out of the Southwest Asia area of operations since August, 2013 at Camp Arifjan, as well as setting up and operating mobile gateways throughout Kuwait.
More than 100 tired soldiers climb down the steps of the dusty buses parked in front of the buildings that will serve as their entrance into theater at Camp Buehring, Kuwait.
They help each other with their bags, sling their weapons and begin marching into one of the buildings to begin in-processing at the base where they will be stationed during their deployment.
Although the soldiers are exhausted after a long trip from the U.S. to Kuwait, they are thankfully spared a long bus ride to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait and back, where the gateway is located and the majority of soldiers and civilians process into theater.
The 138th Theater Gateway, 371st Sustainment Brigade of Camp Arifjan, Kuwait has come to greet the soldiers instead.
“You feel accomplished at the end of the day, getting everyone in and out of theater,” said Sgt. Shawanna Pouncey, the inbound operations sergeant with the 138th Theater Gateway, and part of the mobile gateway team.
The 138th Theater Gateway is responsible for moving military personnel and civilians in and out of the Southwest Asia area of operations since August, 2013 at Camp Arifjan, as well as setting up and operating mobile gateways throughout Kuwait.
Soldiers working at the gateway are responsible for processing incoming personnel into theater, redeploying personnel out of theater, briefing them, providing customer service and support and ensuring their monetary entitlements and benefits are began when arriving in theater, said Pouncey, a South Carolina native.
The theater gateway in Kuwait was originally located at Ali Al Salem Air base until August of this year, when the gateway was moved to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, said Lt. Col. Christopher M. Pfaff, the director of the 138th theater gateway at Camp Arifjan.
The move from Ali Al Salem has saved the Army an estimated $2 million a month and during peak operations, the gateway processes on average 2,000 weekly travelers through inbound and outbound operations, he said.
While the theater gateway is based out of Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, the personnel who operate it also set up mobile gateways at bases throughout Kuwait to ensure that large brigades have a smoother transition when leaving and entering theater, said Pfaff.
“It makes sense that in order to save the time, the effort and the cost in transporting large numbers of troops from Camp Buehring all the way down to Camp Arifjan that we would send mobile personnel accountability teams and mobile customs team to Camp Buehring,” said Pfaff.
While setting up a mobile theater gateway is not without its challenges, Maj. Art Roque, a human resources officer with the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team who coordinated with the 138th Theater Gateway to set up a mobile site at Camp Buehring, believes that it is well worth the effort, he said.
“We can reduce approximately six hours of the process for the soldiers, instead of them going down to Camp Arifjan, they can execute the outbound and inbound procedures from here [Camp Buehring] and we can reduce over 2,000 man hours,” said Roque.
Although it can be challenging to move equipment and personnel between bases in Kuwait, the man hours and time saved, as well as the heartfelt thanks of the soldiers, make it well worth the effort of the mobile gateway team.
“They are extremely appreciative that we were able to put this together and I’m glad that we were able to accommodate them,” said Pfaff.