On March 26, the Air Force announced Davis-Monthan Air Force Base as the winner of the 2012 Commander in Chiefâ€™s Installation Excellence Award, claiming the title of the number one base in the Air Force. Along with the title came a $1 million cash prize and the likely question: what are we going to spend it on?
Airmen and organizations from D-M submitted a variety of ideas for spending the money to base leadership. Next, the 355th Mission Support Group created a link on the D-M website so members of the Desert Lightning Team could vote on their preference among the initial ideas for how the prize money should be spent.
D-Mâ€™s Airmen and Department of Defense civilians then voted to give the 355th Fighter Wing commander an idea about the projects members of the population believe are valuable. These votes became part of a decision matrix which was used in arriving at the final decision. The decision resulted from a collaborative environment utilizing base inputs, senior officer and enlisted inputs to arrive at a decision that would best support the quality of life for the men, women & families of D-M. Ultimately the final choice resulted in the upgrade to D-Mâ€™s Gate 29B in order to open it permanently, along with several other projects around the base.
The upgrade of 29B comes at an ideal time due to the temporary closure of the Wilmot gate. It will help eliminate traffic congestion and driving time for Airmen who live south of D-M.
â€œWe are very excited to provide this service for our Airmen and their families,â€ said Col. David Uselman, 355th Mission Support Group commander. â€œWith the opening of 29B, we can help minimize the commute, thus enabling more time spent at home than on the road. This also creates a secondary effect of easing pressure off our remaining gates to minimize the commute for all at D-M. Additionally, the remaining funds will support initiatives to improve the overall quality of life for our personnel working on base.â€
In addition to the Gate 29B upgrade, numerous other initiatives will be supported, including; a cross-functional fitness room, an upgrade to the Airmanâ€™s Loft, interval training bikes, a Quijota Boulevard sidewalk to ease the walk for base housing occupants, a flightline gym upgrade, Tax Assistance Clinic upgrade, special needs seminar, 355th Force Support Squadron barbeque grill and a dog park.
Careful analysis of the voting, ensuring D-M would gain the best value for the money spent and how many people would be affected, led to the final decision by the 355 FW/CC. As an example, the Gate 29B upgrade would directly benefit more than 5,000 unique individuals annually, and secondarily reduce traffic levels for the rest of the base populace at the other gates.
As a result of the recent decision, the next step is moved out expeditiously to ensure we either procure the items or obligate the money by the end of the fiscal year. Some purchases can be made quickly and others will require time to design and contract the work to be completed.
â€œThe focus of the award money is based on improving the quality of life for our Airmen and members of the DLT; thatâ€™s the intent of the CINC award,â€ said Col. James Meger, acting 355th Fighter Wing commander. â€œItâ€™s because of the hard work and commitment to excellence from our Airmen that D-M brought home the award, and we want to reward them for their continued dedication.â€