449 AEG PERSCO: Gatekeepers to East Africa

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Dhruv Gopinath
  • 406th Air Expeditionary Wing

U.S. Air Forces Africa maintains personnel across East Africa as part of the 449th Air Expeditionary Group. With forces constantly cycling in and out of the continent and between various operating locations, it’s imperative to keep track of every movement, something that falls upon the 449 AEG’s Personnel Support for Contingency Operations team, or PERSCO.

“We’re responsible for attaining 100% accountability of deployed forces across eight squadrons, 5 geographically separated locations, and three countries within AFAFRICA's largest hub,” says Master Sgt. Amy Sharp, 449 AEG PERSCO team chief deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. “It's imperative that my team has meticulous coordination to secure prompt deployment and redeployment of forces with zero degradation to mission capabilities.”

From the deserts of Djibouti to the forests of Kenya, PERSCO teams work closely with their counterparts throughout the group and across the Horn of Africa.

“Our job involves helping many other career fields outside of our own,” says Senior Airman Rebekah Rawlings, a PERSCO technician with the 475th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron deployed to Camp Simba, Kenya. “Apart from managing accountability, we help members make edits on official Air Force memorandums and decorations as well as research topics that don’t have an answer readily available.”

PERSCO’s importance is amplified by the fact that it touches every unit and Airman that deploys to the Horn of Africa, creating a steep learning curve for the team.

“Being here is definitely a change of pace but it's been so rewarding to be challenged in different ways than I am back home,” says Sharp. “Providing accurate data to leadership is vital in your unit’s ability to achieve the mission. I've enjoyed growing in this career field by creating new data tools which allow commanders to see the full picture of how they are executing their resources.”

The small size of the PERSCO team creates a very strong sense of camaraderie, especially for those stationed in Kenya .

“I enjoy how easy it is to make everlasting bonds with our team,” said Rawlings. “I personally would come back in the future to support the mission here. I love the environment, especially the wildlife, and most of us never tire of seeing a family of monkeys play.”

East Africa may be worlds apart from Air Force bases back home in the U.S., but that difference has only made the deployed experience that much more memorable.

“I've met people that have helped me grow as a person and learn to thrive outside of my comfort zone,” said Sharp. “Volunteering has been the highlight of my deployment and it's an honor to be in a position where I can make an impact on so many lives just by spending time with them.”