Sharks support GWOT; help mission partners navigate inprocessing

  • Published
  • By Airman David Dobrydney
  • 45th SW Public Affairs
Four members from the 45th Space Wing's Military Personnel Flight are proving that Airmen don't have to deploy to the theater of operations to contribute to the Global War on Terrorism. For just over three months, they have supported the war effort from just across the state at MacDill AFB.

Maj. Diane Benavidez and her team from the 45th Mission Support Group, Senior Master Sgt. Sandra Whiston, Staff Sgt. David Garcia and Senior Airman Durnay Chirinos are deployed to MacDill operating the Coalition Reception Center under U.S. Central Command.

"The mission of CENTCOM is to conduct operations to attack, disrupt and defeat terrorism, deter and defeat adversaries, assure regional access, strengthen regional stability, build the self-reliance of partner nations' security forces and protect the vital interests of the United States within the area of responsibility," said Major Benavidez.

"Our primary responsibility is to maintain precise accountability of all personnel at CENTCOM in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom."

More than 100 customers use the center daily, including personnel from all the services, Guard, Reserve, active duty and government civilians and contractors. In addition, there are representatives from 64 countries bringing experience and intimate knowledge of national sensitivities for use by the planning staff and commander, Major Benavidez said.

Having to work with such a large and diverse group of people on a daily basis presents a host of challenges for the Patrick team, such as "learning the processes and rank structures of the other services," said Airman Chirinos.

"[Another challenge is] the language barrier between us and members of the foreign services," said Sergeant Garcia, for whom this is a fourth deployment following missions to Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

"We have been blessed with a deployment to CENTCOM," said Major Benavidez. She and her team are scheduled to return to Patrick at the end of September.