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Salute to Civilian and Contractors of Team Offutt

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- I'd like to take this opportunity to offer a salute to the civilian and contractor members of the total force that support the day-to-day operations of the 55th Wing and Team Offutt.

As military members, it can be very easy to take for granted the contribution of our teammates who don't wear uniforms. Even as a commander with a squadron made up of roughly 60 percent civilian personnel, I can become focused on the needs of my military personnel as I constantly work on issues related to the performance, development, training, fitness, and readiness of those Airmen. However, the value and contribution of our civilian Airmen and contractor partners is not lost on me.

On my first deployment to Iraq in 2005, I was struck by the significant nature that the US and coalition forces relied on contractors to provide logistics support to the war effort. I rode over some of the most dangerous roads in Iraq with contractor personnel in civilian convoys. I relied on the professionalism and skill of those non-uniformed patriots every day to return to base safely after each successful mission.

Here at Offutt perhaps more than at any other base in Air Combat Command, civilian and contractor teammates play an immense role in the successful operation of our wing. We rely on contractors to provide support ranging from providing security at the gates to managing spare parts for our jets.

In 2002, Offutt instituted an all-civilian most efficient organization to provide base- operating support functions of supply, transportation, back-shop aircraft maintenance, civil engineering and some communications functions. The original manpower baseline across these functions was more than 1,400 military and civilian personnel. Today, the wing relies on less than 600 dedicated civilian personnel to do the same job.

Technically, the most efficient organization expired last September, but the local manpower standard for these functions has remained roughly unchanged.

Thus, while many wings have military members providing aircrew transportation support, back-shop maintenance actions or equipment accountability inspections, we rely on civilian partners to provide that support.

Additionally, the civilian contribution extends beyond their day-to-day mission in their assigned squadrons. During our recent wing operational readiness exercise, approximately 90 civilian personnel from across the wing acted as augmentees to support our ability to deploy forces in support of contingency operations.

These are just a few examples of the major contribution civilian and contractors provide to the successful operation of the Fightin' Fifty-Fifth.

So to all the civilian Airmen and contractors across the wing and Team Offutt, thank you for your service!