December Commander's Corner

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Gareth Fleischer
  • 169th Civil Engineer Squadron

Infrastructure is for all leaders!  Resilience of our infrastructure supports the ability to fight and provide the quality of life and service we all want for our Airmen and their families.[i]  McEntire Joint National Guard Base is exceptional because it’s one of three Air National Guard (ANG) installations that actually own and operate a comprehensive airfield. A tremendous amount of maintenance and planning is involved to support a real property portfolio consisting of over 2,400 acres, 64 buildings, runways, taxiways and aircraft aprons. Keep in mind that the typical ANG installation is co-located on a metropolitan airport with a fraction of the acreage.

There are significant infrastructure shortfalls across the Air Force with a published backlog of over 33 billion dollars. Funding is scarce and always competitive; therefore, meticulous long term planning is imperative for successful infrastructure repair and/or modernization programs. Timely maintenance and repair is another aspect for consideration. Recapitalization when a system has failed can cost 10 times as much as smart investment earlier in the system’s life. With this in mind, tedious acquisition processes and a project life cycle that ranges from “requirement identification” to “ready to construct” is typically five years. Based on the aforementioned timelines, expectations for quick turnarounds on simple repairs are sometimes near impossible. Throughout the planning, programming, design and construction processes, it is extremely important for facility/program owners and leaders to be involved. In most cases, this involvement dictates the success of the project. McEntire has been very effective in procurement of resources and project execution, which has led to one of the largest construction programs within the ANG.

Driving around campus, multiple large projects are currently underway including the Fire Station, Security Forces, Weapons Release, Morrell Gate, Gym & SW Drainage, Secondary Aircraft Arresting Systems and Exterior Lighting Upgrades.  Unfortunately, due to material and labor shortages our ongoing projects have suffered severe delays. Within the last couple of months, McEntire’s acquisition team successfully awarded the runway project which is one of the largest projects ever completed on this installation. FY22 has goals to award the new Hydrazine facility along with two large Military Construction projects, the Hazardous Cargo Pad and the F-16 Mission Training Facility. FY22-26 will include multiple Maintenance Group facilities along with the entire taxiway system. The taxiway project will execute through four construction phases over four to six years while also ensuring minimal impact to the mission. These airfield improvements are a monumental feat that will assist in securing our mission capabilities for the next 50 years.

Looking further out, the majority of our facilities that haven’t seen major renovations within the past decade are planned and waiting in a lengthy que. Civil Engineering is aware of numerous shortfalls along with the mission impact associated with these outlying projects. This is where installation leaders need to make tough decisions on priorities. These decisions are typically accomplished during the Facility Utilization Board (FUB), which is held twice a year. As a superintendent or building manager, ensure that your commander is well aware of all facility and infrastructure shortfalls along with mission impact. The FUB is a leadership forum where all local and NGB level projects are vetted, approved and prioritized.

In closing, McEntire is a unique installation that requires consistent investment to ensure that long-term goals are attained. As a Swamp Fox leader, you should be involved in facility requirements and planning. McEntire has been very successful with planning and execution and it’s primarily due to vested interest, common goals and team approach across the spectrum. 169 CES will continue striving to provide excellent customer support as well as accommodate all approved requests and requirements.

 

[i] Heather Wilson and David L. Goldfein, “U.S. Air Force Infrastructure Investment Strategy (I2S),” 29 January 2019, https://www.af.mil/.