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USSOCOM’s D-Cell Establishes Order Before Troops Arrive
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – United States Special Operations Command’s Deployment Cell primary mission is not only to be first on location at special operations forces projected bases around the world, but also to establish infrastructure and security.

By: Staff Sgt. Mark Shrewsbury - 2/19/2016

  • ​Personnel assigned to the United States Special Operations Command’s Deployment Cell install wiring on an arch for a Large Area Maintenance Shelter, March 31, 2014. D-cell is strictly an Air Force unit attached to USSOCOM. Courtesy photo.
  • Personnel assigned to the United States Special Operations Command’s D-Cell build arches for a California Medium Shelter System on a forward operating base in the Middle East Feb. 21, 2014. D-cell is strictly an Air Force unit attached to USSOCOM. Courtesy photo.

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – The primary mission of the United States Special Operations Command’s Deployment Cell is not only to be first on location at special operations forces projected bases around the world, but also to establish both the infrastructure and security necessary to establish order until the base is occupied by the units that will be assigned there.

Until the main body of the incoming unit arrives, personnel assigned to the D-Cell are often required to perform duties beyond their specific skill sets. Examples include engineers pulling security at night, a military police noncommissioned officer having to assist in establishing communications with the rear detachment or carpenters laying concertina wire around the base perimeter. The diversity in these assignments require that all airmen assigned, whether in a leadership position or acting in a subordinate capacity, take on additional responsibilities and have a greater sense of both accountability and integrity.

“We are a pure Air Force unit that supports the United States Special Operations Command in bare-base builds,” said the D-Cell’s commander, Air Force Maj. David M. Linton. “There are 46 personnel assigned to D-Cell, including myself, all of whom are Airborne qualified and deployable, and we all can easily be required to work in 11 different Air Force Specialty Careers while conducting our mission.”

In addition to working with special operations professionals from every branch of service, personnel within the unit also receive individual training in hand-to-hand combat, weapons proficiency and tasks that fall beyond the scope of each individual’s assigned duties. D-Cell then uses the knowledge gained from the training and each Airman’s newly acquired skills during exercises, such as Emerald Warrior and Eager Lion.

“We are cross-functional,” said Tech. Sgt. Azzid Alexander, who’s been attached to D-Cell since June 2013. “We’re not subject matter experts at every task but individually, we know enough to accomplish the mission ... whether it’s fixing an issue with electricity or building a new structure.”

D-Cell also works with its industry partners to develop new technologies for eventual use overseas on forward deployed bases. As a result of partnerships like this, breakthroughs have been made in building energy efficient shelters that better maintain heat in the winter and cool air in the summer. These new shelters can also be put up in a third of the time that it would take to put up shelters currently being used throughout the military.

“The new shelters save us 35 percent of what would normally be spent on energy,” said Linton. “If you couple that with new solar panel generator technology, which we’re currently working on with another company, special operations units could save a lot of money in the future that would otherwise be spent on energy.”

Linton said that D-Cell would have the first solar powered generators on hand by the beginning of March. The generators will still be able to run on fuel in situations that require it, but will also have batteries to store solar energy for use on cloudy or rainy days. His intent is for both the new generators and energy efficient shelters, which the D-Cell assisted in creating and developing, to be used at Emerald Warrior 2016.

D-Cell not only establishes infrastructure and security for new special operations bases all over the world, but also conducts training in multiple skill sets and environments in order to accomplish any mission. To further enhance special operations units’ capabilities, and keep special operations personnel safe, D-Cell airmen constantly work to develop and improve the equipment they put in place.

With the increased and continual training the dedicated men and women of D-Cell conduct, they not only set up bare bases but provide the long-term sustainability and maintenance, allowing special operations units a place to call home, however temporary, sometimes in a foreign land, all while accomplishing their mission. It’s no wonder then, how vital this unit is in establishing success for our special operators.

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