Washington, D.C. --
This week, our own Director of Operations, Captain Dustin Doyle landed at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar to begin a six-month deployment as Officer-in-Charge of the Air Force Central Command (AFCENT) Band. While on deployment, Captain Doyle will direct and oversee missions for the AFCENT Band as they perform for troops in various deployed locations throughout the Middle East.
Not a stranger to the job, Captain Doyle had previously deployed in 2013 when he was the Officer-in-Charge for “VECTOR,” a deployed band comprised of musicians from various ensembles within the United States Air Force Band in Washington, D.C. During that deployment, VECTOR performed in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Kyrgyzstan. This current mission will be very similar, and will also include numerous performances for both for the State Department, and local audiences.
When asked about his upcoming deployment, he had this to say, “It’s such an honor to serve our country as an airman musician, and to perform for our troops abroad is the pinnacle of service. You can visibly see them light up as we bring them a live, in-person, taste of home. That’s something that cannot be duplicated via the internet.”
The AFCENT Band is a rotational assignment which is filled by deploying active duty and Air National Guard bands from around the globe. Each Air Force Band squadron sends an ensemble for a 3-month commitment to Al Udeid Air Base, during which time they frequently perform in other countries throughout the region.
Rock Bands are the heavy favorite, but historically there have been country music groups, a Celtic ensemble, and even a salsa band. In addition to the performing ensemble, the AFCENT Band also employs the Officer-in-Charge, and a Superintendent of Band Operations, who works as a tour manager, booking performances and managing logistics for the band, both on the installation and abroad.
Various installations throughout the deployed location house U.S. and coalition troops, and the conditions vary from one base to another. As such, all deploying band members are required to attend a 2-week training course which prepares them for battlefield and contingency conditions. During the training, all attendees wear body armor and carry weapons, while demonstrating their battlefield proficiency in tactical vehicles throughout the various training scenarios.
“When I was studying conducting at the Peabody Conservatory I never imagined I’d be holding a gun, getting ready to head over to the desert for the second time as a band officer,” said Doyle. “However, this aspect of the job is an important one and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
When he returns home in early 2019, he’ll be Major Doyle, as he pins on his new rank while overseas.
Be sure to follow Captain Doyle (Major select) and the AFCENT Band on their own Facebook page here.