For the past year, Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver training Center, Ind., has been home to the Individual Readiness Deployment Operation. The IRDO’s purpose is to process civilian employees and contractors for deployment overseas, in a fashion similar to that which soldiers receive. In order to improve upon the system, the IRDO hosted an IRDO Pre-deployment Success Seminar which brought together representatives from the contract companies and the IRDO program, Sept. 11.
According to Lt. Col. Michael Grundman, of Vincennes, Ind., IRDO program manager, the purpose of the seminar is to bring the companies to Camp Atterbury and give them an overview of the program to safely deploy the contractors.
“Once a quarter we’ll bring them in and give them an initiation and overview of what the program does and doesn’t do and the process that are required to get their contractors through Camp Atterbury and get downrange and operate safely,” said Grundman.
The topics discussed at the seminar included operational training schedules, flights and transportation, medical processing and transitioning to electronic medical records to expedite screening. Also discussed was the opening of an IRDO kiosk at Indianapolis International Airport to help facilitate transportation to and from the airport.
The IRDO staff consists of 75 personnel, of which 42 are soldiers and 33 civilian employees. Grundman said they process an average of 400 contractors through the IRDO each week.
“As the mobilizations start to decrease at the end of the wars, the IRDO program is the main effort I think. It is what’s providing the installation a common business and an ability to keep soldiers and civilians employed in the community. It’s become a conduit for the Army to improve our infrastructure and have an economic impact on the local communities. And I think, strategically, it’s postured the installation as the viable choice to remain open as resources and missions start to dwindle.”
Grundman said that IRDO have deployed contractors from over 400 companies in the year that the program has been at Camp Atterbury. The seminar attracted 70 representatives to get a better understanding of how they can better prepare their contractors for the process and to streamline the procedure.
The contractors fill a wide range of capabilities from mechanical and technical specialists to linguists and defense advisers, said Grundman.
The process is a distilled mobilization process that Soldiers are familiar.
“We focus on medical screening, theater-specific readiness tasks, issue equipment from the Central Issue Facility and arrange transportation,” he said. “We are also looking, within the scope of the time frame that we have them, at some augmentation to enhance their training, specifically, leveraging Atterbury’s resources with our counter-IED range, Medical Simulation Training Center and some of our intelligence-based resources so it’s not just an assembly line, but an enhancement in battlefield survival skills.”
Grundman said the customer service culture of Camp Atterbury has played a significant role in the success of the IRDO.
“I routinely get comments that the Atterbury experience is the best experience compared to other installations that do this,” he said. “The other comments I often receive is ‘I was here four months ago, and you’ve improved since that time’. So there have been positive trends along those lines.”
“I’m really happy with the level of dedication that my guys have input here and this mission is important to me. The contractors have become an integral part of the way the Army and the Department of Defense fights. It’s almost as if we couldn’t function without them. When they go over there and are successful, fewer of my soldiers have to go over there and can be set aside and prioritized for other missions.”
Cassandra Page, of Reston, Va., with Triple Canopy, said the seminar was a good source of information to improve the preparation of the contractors.
“The seminar is a good idea to get our feet wet, understanding, provide contacts of individuals here at Camp Atterbury that we can use and really utilize to get information that we need for our individuals and contractors here,” said Page. “It’s very organized, especially after seeing the scheduling that was provided the contractors.”
According to Shelly Mills, also from Reston, Va., and Triple Canopy, the training provided enables Triple Canopy contractors to fulfill their missions overseas.
“We’ve received no complaints from the site managers or the soldiers and Marines our contractors are supporting over there, so the training prepares them very well,” she said.
According to Col. Ivan Denton, of Fishers, Ind., garrison commander of Camp Atterbury, the role of contractors and their roles are an important piece of the countries defense.
“A lot of installations consider contractors as second class citizens,” said Denton. “But not here. We consider the contractors as an interesting line of effort. We couldn’t have our war-fighting capabilities without contractors.”