GREAT FALLS, Mont. --
I had an excellent opportunity to attend the 2017 combined Department of Defense Installation Innovation Forum and Air Force Community Partnership Seminar in February. I attended this forum with some of our community partners: the Great Falls city manager, a Montana Defense Alliance representative and the Malmstrom Air Force Base mission support group commander.
Stated goals of the forum leaders include how DOD services can improve installation readiness and enable combat power. The objective of the community partnership program is to leverage installation and community resources to establish mutually beneficial partnerships that increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve the quality of life. The symposium included discussions that explored beneficial community partnerships for the DOD.
The Montana Air National Guard has been a participating member of the local Air Force Community Partnership Program, along with MAFB, the City of Great Falls, Cascade County, other governmental agencies and even some non-governmental organizations, since 2014.
Some of the partnerships and their corresponding initiatives are as follows:
● Vehicle fleet managers to share capabilities and explore support possibilities
● Medical representatives to conduct medical training and exercises
● Law enforcement agencies for mutual use of firing ranges
● Communications departments to address common radio frequencies and trunks
● School district for coordination of a new Air Force JrROTC program at Great Falls High School
● Contracting officers for strategic sourcing of supplies and materials
● Emergency management directors to coordinate command and control centers
One of our more recent initiatives involved collaboration between MAFB billeting, local hotel contractors, and the 120th Airlift Wing contracting office to explore cost saving measures for RSD and AT billeting. The team was able to develop an approach that saves the MTANG nearly $80,000 annually. Consequently, wing command is considering actions to reinvest those savings to improve billeting arrangements for unit members.
The aforementioned initiatives are examples of recent formal agreements between the MTANG and the local community. However, we have participated in many formal and informal innovative partnership solutions for decades. For instance, the MTANG Fire Station was built 20 years ago through a collaborative effort between the ANG, Great Falls International Airport, and the Federal Aviation Administration. Additionally, the 120th AW has coordinated fire protection response agreements with MAFB Fire Department, Great Falls Fire Department and county volunteer fire departments for many years.
Our medics conduct advanced CPR training certification with Benefis Medical Center. Security forces coordinates training and operations with the Great Falls Police Department, Cascade County Sheriff's Department, Montana Highway Patrol, and MAFB Security Forces.
The 120th Fire and Emergency Services and explosive ordinance disposal teams respond to more than 30 community calls annually.
These are just a few examples of the partnerships we have developed over the years and will continue to develop in the future with our local agencies.
Finally, all of us, as Airmen of the MTANG are ambassadors. We are patriots and minutemen. We continue a proud tradition of being citizen Airmen. We are called to serve our country and to do it with good stewardship as we build ready installations, improved combat power for the nation and emergency response for the local communities.
Take pride in your roles in the community and continue this proud Vigilante tradition.
Ready to ride!