RAF MILDENHALL, England — The deployment of about 235 people from the 100th Air Refueling Wing to the Middle East in the next few weeks will have an impact beyond their numbers, the commander said.

“That’s not a huge number, but they come from areas we enjoy a lot of support from day after day,” Col. Richard Devereaux said.

Among those deploying are about 180 people from the 100th Mission Support Group, including 13 firefighters, 46 security forces and about 26 from the 100th Services Squadron.

Devereaux has alerted the rest of the base population, which includes about 5,000 active-duty members and a couple thousand civilian workers, to expect delays in response from security forces, longer waits in the military personnel flight customer service and fewer food selections at the dining facility, for example.

“We may have to limit hours on some of our service facilities,” he said last week.

The wing’s airmen will deploy to Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries where the war on terror and the war in Iraq are being supported. Devereaux said they would begin leaving early next month as part of Air Expeditionary Force rotations. Most will go for four months, but security force members will be gone for six months.

Devereaux said the 100th ARW’s operators and maintainers are exempt from the AEF rotations because of the unique refueling mission. They are frequently deployed for shorter periods.

Therefore, he said, the base population won’t shrink much during the deployment of the support troops, leaving the same demand for services from fewer people.

Squadrons affected by the deployment have plans to deal with the absence of so many people.

“It puts stress on the guys that are left,” said Lt. Col. Paul Harris, commander of the 100th Security Forces Squadron.

People will see changes, he said. For example, don’t expect police to show up for a fender bender accident in the base exchange parking lot.

“We just won’t have the manpower,” he said. Instead, he said, the people involved should exchange information and bring it to the squadron.

Also, he said, some gates may be closed from time to time because of a lack of personnel to man them as often as normal.

Devereaux said the base has about 2,500 people trained to augment the security forces in some jobs. They may be assigned to help out, he said, “particularly from squadrons not as hard hit by the AEF rotations.”

Lt. Col. Lonny Baker, commander of the 100th Civil Engineer Squadron, said he’ll lose 13 of his 50 military firefighters, along with about 10 other “cats and dogs” from various areas.

He said the 39 Ministry of Defence firefighters on base may work overtime to fill the void. Plus, he said, he might use the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members who come for training during the summer.

Devereaux said the small sacrifices are part of the Air Force these days.

“We are all about supporting deployed operations,” he said.

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