SUMTER, S.C. — Airmen at Shaw Air Force Base will be seeing changes to their deployment schedule.
On Friday morning, Col. Kristoffer Smith gave an update on happenings at the base during the annual Commander’s Breakfast in Sumter.
"If you have a chunk of neighbors, they’re all gonna be gone at the same time, and they’ll all come back at the same time. They’ll be here for a longer period," Smith said. "This is supposed to drive some predictability and some opportunity for people to rest, connect and get back together with the community and their families on a just predictable, more predictable basis."
Smith took over as wing commander at Shaw AFB in May. Now, he oversees 8,000 active duty airmen and civilians.
This new model is a 24-month cycle called the Air Force Force Generation (AFFORGEN) model. It has four phases that each last six months. As a result, Smith said airmen will be home for longer periods of time, but bigger groups will leave all at the same time.
"That’s when you’re ready to go, you’re on the books, you’re going somewhere, or you’re ready to go at a moment’s notice," Smith said about the available-to-commit window. "Folks are ready and everyone has their stuff at home all set up so that they can walk out the door within days of notification."
Members of the Sumter Chamber of Commerce like Darlene Sparks gathered at Alice Drive Baptist Church on Friday morning to hear about the changes.
"It’s exciting, you know? It’s like, 'Ohhh, this is what’s coming for Sumter!’ Like Sumter has changed," Sparks said. "I moved here a junior in high school and to see how much it’s changed and to see how involved not only the Sumter community, but Shaw community like getting together and building that relationship, it’s amazing and it’s exciting and there’s just great things to come for this little town that I first came to 15 years ago."
Not only is it developing, but it’s also integrating with the base and Shaw’s airmen.
"The community runs at one pace, the military especially with its deployments run at a totally different place," attendee Bryan Tash said. "So, being able to get updates, regular updates, you see the amount of change that’s going on at Shaw."
"It’s just having that great information of what they’re doing and the important mission that they’re trying to achieve," Donnie Hines added.
Smith said changing to this new cycle will take a couple of years.