RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
Randolph's deployment readiness center will soon reopen in Hangar 71 after undergoing a $3.5 million transformation.
The renovation project inside the former base gymnasium annex adds a 10,000-square-foot area for mobility gear such as body armor, helmets and chemical warfare equipment and a 3,200-square-foot vault for weapon and ammunition storage as well as office space, meeting rooms and a well-organized suite of briefing rooms that will streamline the deployment process.
"This is going to be a premier deployment processing facility," said Doug Smith, Joint Base Randolph installation deployment officer, during a tour of the facility last week. "We can accommodate far more deploying Airmen; we could easily process 300 per day, if necessary."
Some of the advantages of the renovated 27,820-square-foot facility are its better organizational flow, a state-of-the-art mechanical materiel-handling system and increased storage capability.
"In the past we had one-tenth of this amount for storage," said Jim Grobe, 902nd LRS deputy director. "Now we'll be able to get every piece of mobility gear we own in one area."
In addition to providing ample storage for ammunition and for weapons such as the M-4, M-9 and M-16, the vault offers another plus.
"Where we have the weapons now, we have to take them out to personnel," Mr. Smith said. "Now we'll be able to bring the personnel inside the vault. It's a more secure environment."
The deployment readiness center moved from Bldg. 52 to Hangar 71 nearly two years ago, then made its temporary home in Hangar 72 last year, when the renovation project began. The center, which processes about 400 Airmen per year, was named in honor of Tech. Sgt. Israel Del Toro, a Wounded Warrior who re-enlisted in the Air Force this year.
Another advantage of the new facility is that it's a "one-stop shop," Mr. Smith said.
"It's all very efficient and organized from lessons learned," he said.
Personnel from units that provide briefings in the deployment process - from medical and finance to the chaplain's office and the sexual assault response coordinator - will come to the facility on Wednesdays, when the deployment line is open.
"Previously we were spread out at seven different locations," Mr. Grobe said.
The facility will also feature a family waiting area.
"Military members can do their processing knowing their families will be well taken care of," said Keith Holderfield, Hangar 71 project team lead.
Mr. Smith said a meeting room with a separate entrance and exit will enhance unit deployment manager training.
"This area will facilitate completion of all training requirements," he said.
Mr. Smith said deployment personnel should be moving into the renovated facility sometime next month and final completion is expected this summer.
"I'm excited to move in," he said. "The versatility of the whole facility will greatly enhance the ability to support Randolph's deployment mission."