Joint focus; better for national defense

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Bill Bender
  • U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Commander
By Brig. Gen. Bill Bender

Six months into a realignment which brought AMC's joint bases and BRAC-affected bases under the umbrella of the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center, I'm happy to say we're seeing the positive effects of joint basing and working through the growing pains together by building a culture of joint training and support. I want to thank each of you at these unique installations for being the leaders of the Air Force's continued efforts to be 'all in.'

In January, AMC completed a restructuring that allows 18th Air Force to focus almost exclusively on worldwide mobility flying operations and gives the Expeditionary Center added responsibility for focusing on evolving AMC mission sets. These include expeditionary combat support training and installation support missions unique to three Joint Bases within the Command, as well as at two AMC bases where missions are evolving as a result of previous Base Realignment and Closure decisions.
Now, those of us living and training on AMC's joint installations and at AMC's most remote installation are already beginning to reap the benefits of thinking in terms of jointness and flexibility.

One of those benefits is the ability to rapidly and effectively integrate into joint environments when we deploy or when we are assigned to support missions both stateside and abroad. Because we have the benefit of living and working in an integrated environment, we naturally 'learn the language' of our service counterparts and we learn what the other services bring to the fight, wherever that fight may be.
After adding two Marine helicopter squadrons to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in March, the installation is truly purple with all five branches of service and several Guard and Reserve units based under the 87th Air Base Wing's umbrella. And as a result of its leadership in joint basing, Joint Base MDL's Warfighter and Family Readiness Center was given a personal look by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense during a joint civilian outreach visit in May.

At Joint Base Charleston, joint training and support were evaluated during a recent Navy inspection at the Naval Weapons Station, with many positive comments made about the improvement in readiness and Sailor quality of life as a result of the joint basing there. And at Pope Field, The 43rd Airlift Wing completed a first-ever Joint Operational Access Exercise with their host installation, Fort Bragg, assuring joint commanders service members are prepared to achieve their missions in joint operational and wartime situations.

At Joint Base Lewis-McChord, both services will see a reduction of costs and an increase in available medical services through an Army initiative to provide a satellite clinic on McChord Field, and finally, AMC's 319th Air Base Wing gained another mission this month, adding the Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft mission to Grand Forks Air Force Base and extending the wing's history of supporting the joint fight from the northern tier.

The successes of the wings and missions now falling under the Expeditionary Center represent the Air Force's commitment to providing flexible, well-trained expeditionary Airmen to joint commanders wherever the next mission may be. Joint basing and the flexible use of unique installations is the Air Force's contribution to the world's greatest military - keep charging!