JOINT BASE McGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. ― As part of the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center’s continuing goal of leveraging technology to assist in training, members of the Expeditionary Center’s Mobility Operations School celebrated the launch of the online unit deployment manager, or UDM, course this month.
The eight-hour online course was created as part of an overall plan to consolidate UDM training in the Air Force, as requested by Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy during a visit last year, according to Expeditionary Center officials.
The unit deployment manager is an Air Force unit’s primary representative to ensure deploying Airmen are trained and equipped to serve in contingency operations around the world.
UDM responsibilities include arranging travel to and from the deployed location as well as documenting and monitoring all pre-deployment training, medical status and any other unit deployment issue.
With no actual Air Force Specialty Code assigned to the function, UDMs are often Airmen serving in wide variety of Air Force career fields taking on these responsibilities as an additional duty.
Prior to Chief Roy’s request, UDM training was the sole responsibility of logistics readiness squadron officials representing every unit in the Air Force, said Maj. Charles Rock, the school’s deputy chief of logistics programs.
“The LRS commander would then delegate responsibility for UDM training to the installation deployment officer, but standardization of training and the effectiveness of these programs varied significantly depending on location,” he said.
Expeditionary Center officials started a comprehensive UDM course in October 2010 to assist installation deployment officers across the Air Force with providing standardized training for all UDMs.
The weeklong in-residence course is held 12 times a year, training more than 240 UDMs annually. Additionally, MOS officials began a mobile training team, or MTT, approach by contracting civilians with previous UDM experience and using current experienced staff to take the training worldwide.
The MTT program is an ambitious project focused on providing training to UDMs at more than 185 active-duty Air Force installations from every major command over a three-year cycle.
The mobile teams will visit approximately 28 installations per year and teach some 600 students annually. This program is fully up and running and, as of February, has already completed 13 MTTs worldwide and trained approximately 242 UDMs to date.
“With these mobile training teams we can train all UDMs on a given installation at a lower cost and a reduced TDY tempo for unit personnel,” said Rudy Becker, MOS director. “We also want them to train as a team because they will likely be deploying the installation as a team.”
However, center officials felt they could do more.
In May, MOS officials unveiled the UDM online training course. The course is primarily used as a prerequisite for the in-residence and mobile training courses, but also is extremely valuable as a stand-alone course for individuals waiting for formal training or as a refresher of core UDM knowledge.
Anyone involved in current deployment functions can benefit from taking the online course. The course already has 105 total users enrolled with 16 graduates since being fielded June 2.
“We created the online course to enhance training across the board,” Major Rock said. “The training is geared for anyone at anytime and brings everyone to a level plane of experience” prior to taking the resident course.
Online training is not new. However, the Expeditionary Center staff focuses a lot of effort to ensure that this training is interactive, challenging and always current.
Feedback from the Expeditionary Center’s 21 online courses demonstrates the effectiveness of online training when done right.
Michael Peer, the Expeditionary Center’s director of faculty and curriculum development, noted that “we use a lot of interactivity in our courses.” “It requires the student to perform a number of actions, whether it is plugging in numbers or assembling components on screen.” he said. “We receive very strong reviews from our students.”
“This course ensures that the Air Force is continuing along a path of taking care of the development of those who take care of our Airmen,” Major Rock said.
“UDMs are often a deploying Airman’s sole point of contact during deployment and re-deployment and we want to make sure the needs of the Airman and Air Force are being met in the best way possible.”