184th Mission Support Group Deputy Commander returns from deployment to Kyrgyzstan Published Nov. 9, 2009 By Capt Nancy Harper 184 FSS Manas Air Base, in Kyrgyzstan -- Lieutenant Colonel Richard G. Yule recently returned from a deployment to the Transit Center at Manas International Airport, formerly Manas Air Base, in Kyrgyzstan. He was the deputy commander of the 376th Expeditionary Mission Support Group, which consisted of approximately 700 military and civilian personnel supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Lt Col. Yule further elaborated on his duties, "Unofficially, I was 'The Mayor' of Transit Center Manas. I worked to ensure the comfort and safety of all transient personnel, including several coalition nation forces, moving into and out of Afghanistan. We had over one hundred thousand transients come through Transit Center Manas during my deployment, the largest movement of troops in over six years". Lt Col. Yule explained how his duties as deputy commander of the 184th Mission Support Group at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas helped prepare him for his deployment. "I worked with the same units that we have here: Civil Engineering, Communications, Contracting, Force Support, Logistics Readiness, and Security Forces Squadrons. Many of our folks were directly involved with getting fuel, cargo, and personnel to the fight in Afghanistan." He also worked with Major Johnnie Adam, operations chief for the184th Civil Engineer Squadron, who was deployed to Kyrgyzstan to oversee a humanitarian assistance school building project. However, there were more programs and units that worked under Lt Col. Yule, such as the Aerial Port and Explosive Ordinance Disposal. He even worked alongside the Army-Air Force Exchange Services as a liaison to ensure the base exchange was restocked to appropriate levels after shipments slowed down due to the possible base closure. Lt Col. Yule was also instrumental in acquiring a Burger King trailer. "I took pride in working on projects and developing initiatives that would not benefit me, but when complete will certainly provide better mission effectiveness and/or quality of life for those deploying in the future." Lt Col. Yule also talked about his interactions with other groups, coalition forces, and local nationals. "I kept in close contact with the Operations and Maintenance Group commanders to ensure we were properly supporting their efforts. We also supported French and Spanish units that are permanently assigned to the Transit Center. I did assist the center and our units in preparations for separate visits by the Kyrgyzstan President and Kyrgyzstan parliament." For a time, Lt Col. Yule and other armed service leaders were concerned if the US and coalition forces would have a continued presence at Manas. On February 3, 2009, the President of Kyrgyzstan announced that Manas Air Base would close, citing economic considerations and negative world public response to the war in Afghanistan. Four months later the Kyrgyz government later re-negotiated with the United States and allowed US and coalition forces to occupy Manas as a transit center while the air base operation mission ceased in August 2009. Lt Col Yule explained how leadership prepared for the possible closure of the Transit Center in near future. "We had to create a plan to pack up and leave. I was impressed with the knowledge of our units' personnel that offered recommendations on equipment that had to relocate immediately to initiate operations at a new location versus equipment that could be moved later or even remain in place. Many people were involved in creating plans that will now enable the (Manas) mission to relocate with short notice or within a smooth, phased time-frame. Although the base has been there for eight years, we had to remember that we were expeditionary and to ensure we maintained a lean posture for the eventuality of leaving. So, all of our units reviewed their equipment lists and other items that laid around their areas for necessity." While Lt Col. Yule received accolades and special recognition from his leaders and peers, it is his personal experiences and the sacrifices of all armed service members he holds in high regard. "My lasting memory will be walking through a transient lodging facility, seeing a redeploying marine unit sleeping soundly and comfortably in their bunks, and wondering how long it had been since they were last able to sleep like that."