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March Commander's Corner

  • Published
  • By Col. Tim Dotson
  • 169th Mission Support Group
McEntire Joint National Guard Base—a crown jewel and little known power projection platform in South Carolina hosting some of the most lethal global power capabilities on the planet.  Our Swamp Fox reputation and contributions to our nation’s national security are well known, well documented and we cannot afford to let up.  We are blessed with exceptional assets to include people, iron, materiel and the built and natural environments (infrastructure).  My job as your Mission Support Group Commander is to ensure that we secure and protect these assets, connect, secure and sustain our cyber assets, supply, fuel, move and deploy our assets, acquire and procure our assets, build and sustain our assets and take care of our most valuable assets, people, cradle to grave.  The mission and commitment of the Mission Support Group is to organize, train, equip and employ agile combat support capability at home and abroad focused on people, service and support.  As demonstrated by recent events, we must be task-organized and prepared to provide necessary support at home or abroad, Monday through Friday, on weekends, in the middle of the night if necessary and for both our state and nation across the full mission spectrum and range of military operations. Always ready, always there.


Our mission focus is people, service and support.  Our leadership focus is people, mission and future. We have talked about people and mission consistently, and will continue to do so, but I want to talk to you about the future.  Our published vision is to be the world’s premier fighting force, bringing unmatched value and combat capability to the state and nation accompanied by capstone principles that support our belief that we are the right base, with the right experience, and ready now to take on mission sets required of the future Joint Force. Retired USAF Major General Perry Smith once said “I am interested in the future because that’s where I plan to spend the rest of my life.”  Think about that. We have our vision and it does not predict the future, rather it serves to shape it.  It is a long-term endeavor that extends beyond most of our tenures.  Now we must build the environment in pursuit of achieving that vision.  We generally are cognizant of on-base activities and conditions that affect our mission but deficient in our engagement efforts to stay informed of things outside of the fence line that could hinder mission assurance.


External threats to achieving our vision include the social and cultural environment (population and demographic trends), the economic environment (macroeconomic conditions and budget austerity), the technological environment (new technologies making our capabilities ineffective or obsolete against rivals) and the regulatory environment (political/legal actions and effects of public perceptions).  We have hosted recent visits by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Director and Deputy Director of the Air National Guard as well as numerous elected officials at the federal, state and local levels in an effort to tell our story. While we have had various military, elected and community leaders visit the installation, we have not done near enough on the local front. The Midlands Regional Vision of “growing by choice and not by chance” is an invitation for us to influence our future. To ensure we possess the natural and built environment necessary that preserves our mission, ensures safety of flight and protects the general public, we must proactively monitor emerging challenges, maintain awareness of development trends and take action to secure our future in Lower Richland County at that crown jewel installation we call McEntire. Known encroachment challenges include numerous nearby rezoning requests for incompatible land development, an abandoned steel mill in the south runway Clear Zone, plans to relocate a County Recycling Center in close proximity, a rezoning request to construct a Verizon cell tower on adjacent property and construction of a county sanitary sewer force main that could spur development.  The good news is that we are finalizing an Installation Complex Encroachment Management Action Plan (ICEMAP) that will guide us in our encroachment management and engagement efforts to mitigate our specific challenge areas; mostly in the categories of urban growth and land restrictions.


AFI 90-2001 defines encroachment as “Any deliberate action by any government or non-governmental entity or individual that does, or is likely to inhibit, curtail, or impede current or future military activities within the installation complex and/or mission footprint; or deliberate military activity that is, or is likely to be incompatible with the use of a community’s resources.”  Our future rests on our efforts to be aware, articulate our mission and concerns, and participate in the process with our stakeholder partners having a vested interest in what we do and our mere existence.  Stay involved, stay informed and lead well, Swamp Fox.