By Angel Lopez
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. - Maj. Gen. Bill Bender visited various 87th Air Base Wing squadrons, wing staff agencies and mission partners here Feb. 7.
Bender, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center commander, and his command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Cui, who are stationed here, received an in-depth look into what the 87th ABW does and experienced firsthand what the talented men and women of this wing accomplish.
"This was a unique opportunity for me," said Bender. "I run across the men and women who work within the 87th ABW; however, it's more in a support capacity. This visit was different because I was provided a more thorough look at the mission and the challenges the wing experiences."
The 87th ABW stood-up in April 2009 to create Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and finalize the implementation of the 2005 Base Closure and Realignment Commission legislation which directed the realignment of McGuire Air Force Base, Fort Dix and Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst. The joint base officially reached full operational capability in October 2009.
Every one of the 12 joint bases established under BRAC are different and each service brings a uniqueness to each base.
"Joint basing does present challenges," said Bender. "However, there is an inherent goodness in partnership, collaboration and teamwork that occurs on joint bases."
For example, the medical group now has the responsibility for almost 800 Marines and Sailors who are now stationed here due to BRAC moves.
"This is a perfect example of how nobody does anything without the support of the 87th ABW," said Bender. "If you look across the entire spectrum of the base, you will see how this wing has a direct supporting role in every mission being executed here."
The wing provides direct support to a number of DOD missions. Training is one example of the missions supported here.
With the wing's help and resolve to find solutions to problems and synergies amongst the various services, mission partners throughout the installation are working together to integrate training conducted here and make it more efficient.
"The training mission is a natural tie to making joint basing successful," said Bender. "At this installation alone, we have mobilization and demobilization training, Joint Expeditionary Tasking training, Combat Airmen Skills Training, contingency response, building partnerships and air advising."
The key to all of this though is teamwork, Bender explained. He also stressed the importance of crossing over service cultural divides and having an open view to the way other services operate.
"I've seen the communication here improve over time," said Bender. "Communication between the various service elements is important and we need to try and find solutions to the challenges joint basing presents. We haven't given good, clear guidance and appropriate resources to overcome some of these challenges so through communication we can break down barriers."
With the recent force structure announcement, Bender stressed the importance of working together and continuing to find efficiencies.
"We are going to have to prioritize and have a clear vision of how we are going to operate," said Bender. "Joint bases are on the leading edge when it comes to finding efficiencies and effectiveness with shared mission sets. JB MDL has more opportunity to look at things through a joint lens and lead the way."
The 87th ABW is leading the way on this and works hard on a day-to-day basis to work with all mission partners and provide installation support, explained Bender.
"Watching the men and of women of this wing in action is an impressive operation to see," said Bender. "The 87th ABW's ability to deploy service members, provide installation support and enhance the quality of life of all who live, work and play at JB MDL is remarkable. Their contributions enhance our ability to fight and win the nation's wars all while ensuring Airmen and their families receive proper care."