News | Oct. 8, 2021

SLAT enriches JBA leaders’ understanding of America’s Airfield

By Lt. Col. Kyle Moats Director of Operations, 89th Operations Support Squadron

Senior leaders across Joint Base Andrews (JBA) representing various mission sets participated in the first Senior Leader Airfield Tour (SLAT) here Aug. 26, 2021.  

SLAT, a joint venture between the 316th Wing and 89th Airlift Wing, is a guided tour led by subject matter experts (SMEs) from JBA’s joint partners to enhance senior leaders’ situational awareness on the current status, challenges and future projects for the flightline, otherwise known as “America’s Airfield.”

America’s Airfield is a 2,000 acre, dual runway, $3 billion strategic and diplomatic airfield that connects all 24 of JBA’s mission partners.

In support of the interim National Security Strategy, JBA’s airfield provides significant capabilities via a diverse mission portfolio which includes helicopters, tankers, fighters and DV airlift aircraft that:  

  • Support priority and training air refueling missions
  • Maintain airspace control alert for the National Capital Region (NCR)
  • Provide airlift of US Government senior civilian and military leaders worldwide 24/7/365
  • Frequently stand alert to ensure continuity of operations for the NCR

Maintaining these operational capabilities requires strategic investment, shared situational awareness and planning for airfield requirements.  

“JBA is complex and vital. Our missions are unique to the NCR and critically important. This tour helps foster our working relationships across the base and furthers our senior leaders’ shared understanding of what the airfield environment needs today and tomorrow to support our high profile, no-fail missions,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Earl Gratton, Airfield Operations Flight commander and one of the SMEs that briefed senior leaders.

More than 20 SMEs across eight different locations on the airfield addressed senior leaders to make them aware of airfield activities and projects.

“JBA is a critical enabler that must remain agile now and in the future to support presidential and senior leader missions and also deliver rapid global mobility effects at the speed, range and scale for our nation to compete, deter and win,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John Schwartz, 89th Operations Support Squadron commander, as part of his opening remarks to senior leaders before the tour began.

The SLAT is scheduled to be an annual summer event, strategically set in August, following the change of command season and preceding the Air Force District of Washington-led Airfield Sync Board (ASB) in the fall.

The ASB is a forum to discuss long term management of America’s Airfield while unifying strategic requirements for all of its stakeholders. The board addresses common operational issues, coordinates plans, manages resources and makes recommendations to ensure the airfield continues to meet current and future mission requirements.

“This tour arms new commanders and Airfield Sync Board voting members with visual awareness and understanding of the current status and major projects on America’s Airfield,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ross Dotzlaf, 316th Civil Engineer Squadron commander.    

Schwartz expects this and future SLATs will enable JBA leaders, mission partners and vested stakeholders to make more informed decisions at Airfield Sync Boards.

He noted, “This event facilitates critical communication and relationships among our joint partners, these relationships are crucial to the unified effort to ensure America’s Airfield is operationally safe and relevant for the next 50 years and beyond.”