JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
The 502d Logistics Readiness Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland has been providing clothing to new recruits at an alternate Basic Military Training location since March 2020 to help the U.S. Air Force continue forging America’s future Airmen during the coronavirus pandemic.
The 502d LRS’s Air Force Initial Issue Clothing, or AFIIC, facility, first sent clothing to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, as part of a Proof of Concept test of how efficiently BMT could be conducted from this new location. When the concept passed, regular shipments began the following month, with uniforms being procured from the Defense Logistics Agency.
Stafford James, chief of AFIIC, oversees 28 civilians and 28 contractors who do everything from uniform issue to fit and alterations for all Air Force-issued uniforms for BMT trainees, but they don’t pull off the entire job alone.
“It is a total team effort between multiple agencies,” James said. “Headquarters, Air Education and Training Command; the 81st LRS at Keesler Air Force Base; and the 502nd LRS at JBSA-Lackland -- we work closely to coordinate the shipments with 502nd LRS Traffic Management Office.”
The 502nd LRS provides trainees with Operational Camouflage Pattern, or OCP, uniforms, a dress uniform, physical training gear, and miscellaneous items such as boots, shoes, running shoes, hats, and belt buckles.
“Weekly, we send 5,500 units, valued at more than $120,000, to clothe 120 recruits,” James said. “We currently have enough stock to dress four male flights comprised of 300 trainees and two female flights comprised of 120 trainees prepositioned at Keesler.”
According to Armagan Butler, chief of Cargo Movement Warehouse Operations at the 502nd LRS, a shipment for trainees goes out weekly, replenishing the items that were issued.
This shipment fills a needed gap that became apparent once COVID-19 Health Protection Condition restrictions were put in place and a BMT detachment was established at Keesler Air Force Base, Butler said, noting that there is not a clothing Issue element there.
Once the weekly order from the BMT staffers currently located at Keesler arrives at the 502nd LRS at JBSA-Lackland, the items ordered arrive by truck within three to four days.
This relatively small and relatively new operation is one of the many things AFIICF does within a year. Annually, the 502nd LRS provides uniforms to more than 39,000 trainees, James said. While they stay quite busy, shipping clothing to Keesler during the pandemic helps ensure the Air Force can continue to pursue its mission with excellence and integrity by creating its future leaders and warriors.