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Away for the holidays

At least 89 Airmen from Offutt Air Force Base won’t be home for the holidays. The 55th Wing maintainers, pilots and aircrew members deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar December 5 for a period of 45-120 days where they will be supporting operations throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

Members of the 55th Wing fill out pre-deployment paperwork while processing through the Installation Deployment Readiness Cell at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. December 5, 2017. They deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar for a period of 45-120 days where they will be supporting operations throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charles Haymond)

At least 89 Airmen from Offutt Air Force Base won’t be home for the holidays. The 55th Wing maintainers, pilots and aircrew members deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar December 5 for a period of 45-120 days where they will be supporting operations throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

Members of the 55th Wing receive briefings at the Installation Deployment Readiness Cell at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. December 5, 2017. They deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar for a period of 45-120 days where they will be supporting operations throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charles Haymond)

At least 89 Airmen from Offutt Air Force Base won’t be home for the holidays. The 55th Wing maintainers, pilots and aircrew members deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar December 5 for a period of 45-120 days where they will be supporting operations throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

Senior Airman Ralph Francois and Master Sgt. Michael Sequin, both from the 55th Maintenance Group, look over some pamphlets from the Airman and Family Readiness Center while processing through the Installation Deployment Readiness Cell at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. December 5, 2017. They deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar for a period of 45-120 days where they will be supporting operations throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charles Haymond)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

At least 89 Airmen from Offutt Air Force Base won’t be home for the holidays. The 55th Wing maintainers, pilots and aircrew members deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar December 5 for a period of 45-120 days where they will be supporting operations throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

This was a typical deployment for the 55th Wing members, who have been deployed to that area of operations for 26 straight years. That is considered to be the longest continuous deployment in the Air Force.

Deploying Airmen from one of the most heavily-tasked wings in the Air Force takes a well-run machine. That machine is the Offutt Installation Deployment Readiness Cell.

“It’s a huge work between the us and the [Installation Personnel Readiness] section, as well as all the unit deployment managers, to make sure we are getting everybody ready to go, trained up and deployed,” said Capt. Justin Graham, 55th Logistics Readiness Squadron installation deployment officer.

Once a tasking is received, Graham’s team coordinates the travel and works with those offices to identify personnel eligible for deployment.

On the deployment date, the IDRC coordinates the pickup of personnel and any required mobility bag equipment. The deploying personnel then process through the IDRC deployment processing line where they receive additional briefings and any last minute services prior to boarding the plane.

The processing line include representatives from personnel, finance, medical, chaplain and legal offices who are available to provide information or services such as vaccinations and powers of attorney.

“It’s just a final set of eyes with a few different work centers to make sure they are ‘no kidding’ ready to go,” Graham said.

For this deployment, Offutt personnel traveled via a commercial airline, which also required additional TSA inspections.

“We have to check all of their bags to make sure there are no weapons and things like that…the same as if you were going to fly commercial on vacation,” Graham said.

According to Graham, the IDRC will process between 2,200-2,300 personnel to deployed locations this year. He said the IDRC also processed an additional 400 members not on deployment orders.