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436th Airlift Wing commander holds first Commander's Call of the Year

By Airman 1st Class C. Todd Lopez

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (Jan. 14, 2000) -- Col. S. Taco Gilbert III, 436th Airlift Wing commander, held his first Commander's Call of the year, Jan. 5 at the Base Theater.

Gilbert addressed many issues during the nearly two-hour session, including changes to Dover's mission, C-5 modernization, and the importance of education.

"There are a few changes proposed for the way we fly our missions around here," said Gilbert. "Everyone is very aware of the challenges of getting the C-5 in the air, keeping it in the air until it traverses the globe, then making it home again.

"Tactical Airlift Command and Control headquarters, the taskers for our aircraft missions, have seen the amount of time we spend chasing broken aircraft around the globe," he said. "What they are planning to do is go to a 'hub and spoke operation,"' said Gilbert.

According to Gilbert, the hub and spoke operation will result in a change in Dover Air Force Base's missions. Instead of flying to many locations around the world, Dover C-5s will fly primarily across the Atlantic to a central location in Europe, most likely Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Smaller aircraft will then move cargo to secondary locations.

"This will allow us to consolidate the maintenance and support for C-5s at Ramstein, minimizing the amount of time we spend sending people put to the far corners of the globe chasing broken aircraft," said Gilbert.

Although there was initial concern about the effect the proposed changes would have on Dover flying hours, Gilbert said there will he no decrease in flying hours for Dover air crew members. "TACC assures us that will not be a problem."

In addition to a change in the flying mission, Gilbert told troops there would be a very positive change in the amount of parts and money available to fix the C-5 Galaxy. Gilbert credited the change to Dover Team members' efforts during William Cohen's, Secretary of Defense, recent visit to Dover.

"When I brought Mr. Cohen into the Cann Bird (A C-5 which is routinely cannibalized for parts to be used on other aircraft) I didn't do any talking," said Gilbert. "I introduced him to the Cann Bird monitors and they took him through their airplane. When he walked through that plane, his eyes got huge.

"The story you told ensured millions of dollars of appropriated funds will continue to flow into the C-5," said Gilbert. "You were able to tell the Secretary of Defense how important that money was to us. Your work produced $230 million in parts for our airplanes out there. Good work," said Gilbert.

Gilbert also spoke about the importance of both military and college education.

"I'd like for Dover to have a surge in promotion statistics. In order for that to happen I need your help," said Gilbert. "The most important thing for you to do to make that happen is to do your job and do it right. The second most important thing to do is to study."

"It not only makes you more productive in the job you are doing now," said Gilbert, "but it also prepares you for life outside the Air Force. Even those of you that elect to trade in the blue uniform early, I would like to see you be successful in what you choose to do after you leave. It is a great economy out there, but it is a great economy for educated people. Educated means you have, a diploma of some kind. We don't always make it easy in the Air Force, but we make it easier than a lot of employers out there."

During his commander's call, Gilbert spoke about many other issues as well, including efforts to reduce DUIs, changes to Basic Allowance for Housing, quality of base housing and changes in the pay scale.

Gilbert plans to conduct Commander's Calls once a quarter.