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Eagle Wing commander discusses wing priorities for the coming year

By Airman 1st Class C. Todd Lopez

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (March 12, 1999) -- The 436th Airlift Wing commander has announced the 1999 Eagle Wing Initiatives for personnel assigned to Dover Air Force Base. According to Col. Felix M. Grieder, the wing's top priority for 1999 will be a renewed focus on family, fitness and readiness.

"Everybody is part of a family," said Grieder, as he explained the Air Force concept of family. "Whether you are an 18-year-old single airman living in the dormitory, or a sergeant with a family living in the family housing area, we want to take care of everyone here and we want everyone to consider Dover Air Force Base as a family.

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"Our theme of family coincides nicely with Air Mobility Commands Year of the Family," said Grieder. "So it was not by accident that family is a priority. I consider this an important concept that will affect everybody at Dover Air Force Base, not just traditional military families."

Grieder highlighted some of the more recent examples of the family atmosphere here at Dover Air Force Base.

"For the single airmen in the dormitory we had 'Operation Cookie Drop,'" said Grieder. "That was an initiative by the Year of the Family committee. Due to their efforts, and the efforts of our First Sergeants, they saw to it the airmen in the dormitories had cookies delivered before Christmas. Over 400 half-dozen packages of cookies were distributed."

Additional family initiatives at Dover AFB included the construction of several family oriented recreational sites on base and in the housing areas.

"You'll see a lot of things geared towards family members, such as the new playground across from the passenger terminal and some new playground equipment in the family housing area. There will also be a rollerblading facility by the Youth Center," said the Eagle Wing commander. "You're going to be seeing a lot of things where you think 'This is really going to improve life here at Dover Air Force Base.'"

The concept of family provides Dover Team members with a very real sense of strength through unity, but physical strength, fitness and good health, all critical to Dover's mission, are all things which must come from the individual.

Grieder said several recent construction projects here have helped shape the face of fitness at Dover AFB and are providing more opportunities for Dover Team members to push themselves toward being fit.

"For fitness, you'll see several things. Our civil engineers recently completed a jogging trail from the south gate area out to the Air Mobility Command Museum. It is a six-foot-wide jogging trail and I encourage people to go out and use it," said Grieder.

"Our fitness center will reopen March 30," said Grieder "Additionally, a motivated team of civil engineers recently completed the renovation of the Health and Wellness Center. This is yet another opportunity for our people to use health and fitness equipment."

The colonel also noted fitness involves more than equipment and facilities.

"It also goes into the health aspects. I We want our people to be healthier," said Grieder. "For instance, we have a very aggressive campaign to reduce the number of smokers at Dover Air Force Base. We want to reduce the number of tobacco users here by at least one third."

Grieder explained some of the changes at Dover AFB concerning tobacco use. "Last year, we went to smoke-free dormitories. Now we are entering a phase where we will designate some family housing units as smoke free. We're not going to be moving families, but as buildings become vacant due to changes of station and separations, we're going to look at those buildings where we already have a number of nonsmoking families, and convert them to smoke-free facilities."

The wing commander also noted there are tobacco cessation classes available at the Health and Wellness Center.

While family and fitness are both important to the Air Force mission, one doesn't have to look farther than the front page of the local newspaper to see the mission readiness of our service is fast becoming a major issue.

"There are three different aspects to readiness," said Grieder "The people need to be ready, the equipment needs to be ready, and the people need to be well trained for the mission."

Grieder elaborated, "In order to deploy, members need to have their affairs in order. This means having shot records up to date and having the proper equipment and uniforms to take with you. We also need to make sure those people are properly trained.

"Are they trained at the minimum level? Or are people trained to be proficient so they can go and do the job?" asked Grieder. "We are looking for more than just currency; we are looking for proficiency."

The Eagle Wing has scheduled several exercises to help members become more proficient in their training. "We have, an Operational Readiness Exercise scheduled for late April in preparation for June's Operational Readiness Inspection. Between the two we will have smaller readiness exercises, and also a 'Haunted House,' where people will have a chance to try out their chemical warfare training."

Grieder said the April ORE would be larger than the February's ORE, and will involve more Dover Team members. "All members will focus on the exercise. Everybody will be in Battle Dress Uniform and will focus on their part of the readiness mission. Everybody will be focused on training.

"I hope and have every reason to believe these initiatives will improve our readiness posture, the ability to do our mission, and the quality of life for our people," said Grieder. "Our families are important and we are committed to taking care of them. We will continue to seek ways to improve the fitness of the people assigned to the Eagle Wing. And in our preparation for June's ORI, we will stress training our people for the tasks they face in meeting our mission anywhere in the world."

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