ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. --
Arnold Engineering Development Complex team members work together day-in, day-out to execute the mission of testing systems that ensure the U.S. military maintains superiority over foes. This mission is often focused on the future fight, but Airmen assigned to AEDC also deploy to support combatant commanders in the here and now.
Master Sgt. Frank Mancino, Arnold Air Force Base deployment manager, said the base, headquarters of AEDC, has typically deployed about five Airmen each year from its small population of uniformed Airmen, with that number rising recently and expected to increase this year.
Arnold AFB does not have units that deploy in support of combatant commanders, but rather Airmen deploy as individuals where there is a mission in need of someone in their career field.
“Each area of responsibility such as the Middle East and Africa has a different broad mission that is unique to that location, but ultimately each of our deployers are applying their unique skillsets to support those missions around the world, no matter where they are,” Mancino said.
1st Lt. Nicolas Addington, an Airman in the AEDC Financial Management Office (FM), recently returned from his first deployment. He supported the budget office for United States Forces – Afghanistan, or USFOR-A, at multiple locations in southwest Asia during his deployment.
“I worked multiple aspects of the office, ranging from plans and programs, supplies, travel and international invoicing agreements,” said Addington. “I had the opportunity to experience all aspects of budget and financial operations for the theater which will help me in my future assignments.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the movement of U.S. military service members, including Addington, who was deployed when it spread throughout the globe.
“At first, being deployed during the pandemic was challenging as it was a new aspect of operations to understand,” Addington said. “However, we had a fantastic team and were able to seamlessly integrate the situation into our daily operations quickly and efficiently.”
COVID-19 pandemic operations caused a cessation of troop movements temporarily, causing delays going downrange and delays returning home.
Addington took it in stride.
“My return to the states was delayed by a couple months, but that granted me the opportunity to continually improve my skills and assist the budget office during the Army unit transition process with continuity and technical and operational guidance,” Addington said.
He was quarantined while awaiting his return flight and then upon his return to Tennessee, but not without support from his fellow team members at Arnold.
“I was in constant communication with the FM team here, who provided encouragement and support during my extended stay at my deployed locations,” Addington said. “All members of the FM team were instrumental in my contribution to USFOR-A’s financial mission success.”
While precautions are being taken to minimize the risk and impact of the pandemic, it is not stopping Arnold AFB Airmen from completing their assigned missions.
“We are working under a ‘new normal’ now, where timelines frequently change and troops may have to quarantine in different locations prior to arriving at their deployed location,” Mancino said. “While some obstacles may be challenging, Arnold’s mobility machine is fully functional and we are still supporting combatant commanders around the globe.”