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NEWS | Sept. 25, 2008

Andrews Symbolizes Freedom, Democracy

By Col. Stewart Price 316th Mission Support Group commander

While in command of the 316th Mission Support Group over these past 17 months, I am constantly reminded of how dynamic, vibrant and essential our installation is. This Air Force base, above all others, symbolizes to the world the power and might of the United States and the freedom and democracy our country represents. Home base to the President and Air Force One, port of entry for heads of state carrying out diplomatic missions, and where our national and military leaders come and go courtesy of the 89th Airlift Wing ... all supported with military precision. Andrews is arguably the most well-known military base in the world. 

Andrews is home to several priority missions. The 459th Air Refueling Wing flying the KC-135R; the 113th Wing supporting Operation Noble Eagle; the 79th Medical Wing providing world class medical care to our returning troops at the ASF; HQ AFOSI with a worldwide force protection commitment; our Navy partners operating a variety of aircraft and Air Force District of Washington providing crisis response capabilities to the National Capital Region. Over 40 other units conduct missions here and round out a tightly packed installation. 

To support all this, there is a solid stream of investment in this place where we work, live and play. To continue support of the flying missions, we're investing over $20M in airfield infrastructure over the next year that will include a completely new lighting system and a refurbished East runway. We've also initiated a design effort for the West runway and anticipate similar reconstruction for it within two years. 

Soon Andrews will accommodate more than 2,500 additional personnel and their assigned missions. We already have some construction projects in progress, and the first scheduled for completion is a new 264-room Visitors Quarters. Adjacent to it, we will soon break ground on our Air Force Strategic Planning Center. The Air National Guard Readiness Center expansion has begun, and we'll soon break ground on a five-story, $130M office complex for HQ USAF staff as well as AFDW and the 316 WG. In 2009 we'll begin a new 50-room Temporary Lodging Facility and we are engaged with our AAFES partners on a proposal to build a new service station and shoppette. 

One of the most exciting things to happen here recently is housing privatization. What's going on over at West Perimeter north of the Youth Center? Construction of 134 new homes for junior military families. What's happening off San Antonio Blvd.? Construction of new homes, a community center and pool complex. Over the next five years our community will benefit from a $200M investment plan so that every home on Andrews is either new or completely renovated. We are also investing $2M to fix long standing issues in our dorms. 

In fiscal year 2007, we completed 40 projects valued at $23.5M. In FY08 we're completing close to $40M and we'll easily surpass that figure this next year. Some improvements you can't easily see, like new water mains and base electric grid, but some are very apparent, like a new traffic light at the main gate/perimeter road intersection. 

I admit that money helps, and due to solid Air Force leadership and vision, we have the opportunity to invest in the base and the missions to improve where we work, live and play. It is an incredible honor to serve here at Andrews - an indispensable installation with dynamic, high-profile missions and an exciting future. Thanks for the contributions you've made and those you will make.