Belton: Visiting Dobbins Air Reserve Base

Airman 1st Class Cindy Esquero, 94th Maintenance Squadron avionics guidance and controls, replaces a tachometer generator in an engine at Dobbins Air Reserve Base on September 27, 2016. Esquero is on seasonal orders to learn to maintain the various parts of the C-130. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lauren Douglas)

The House Military Affairs Study Committee, the committee I chair, visited Dobbins Air Reserve Base (ARB) last week in continuation of our mission to visit Georgia’s nine military installations. Congressman Barry Loudermilk attended the committee meeting in support of our efforts to protect Georgia’s bases.

Dobbins ARB is called a reserve base because its population mostly consists of guardsmen and reservists; there are very few active duty warriors stationed at Dobbins ARB. Even so, the base employs nearly 11,000 people with an annual economic impact of nearly $1 billion.

Dobbins ARB is home to almost 200 disparate entities, such as the FBI and Selective Service. Dobbins ARB is also the headquarters of the Georgia National Guard, the 94th Air Wing and the 22nd Air Force.

Dobbins ARB proudly sports the only aeromedical motion simulator in the Air Force. Aeromedical personnel from across the nation train at this state-of-the-art facility. Advances in military medicine have improved so much that an injured warrior’s chance of survival is an amazing 98 percent, an increase from 75 percent during World War II. Dobbins ARB’s proximity to the Atlanta airport is ideal for disaster relief operations, although encroachment could become an issue. And in 2005, the DoD recommended to close Naval Air Station Atlanta, Ga at Dobbins during the last BRAC.

Dobbins ARB is also home to Lockheed Martin, one of the only remaining makers of military airplanes in America. Lockheed Martin currently employees 5,000 people at Dobbins ARB, resulting in an economic impact of $760 million annually. Lockheed Martin constructs new C-130 Hercules airplanes, an airframe that predates the Vietnam War and are still ordered by Nations and civilian corporations all over the world. Lockheed Martin builds the fuselage for the new F-35 Lightning fighter jets, a joint venture airplane that will be flown by the Navy, Marines and Air Force.  Lockheed Martin also builds the F-22 stealth Raptor, the million-pound C-5 Galaxy and the maritime P-3 Orion, though these are no longer in production.

During our visit, the committee heard a detailed report from the Georgia Guard, the 8th largest guard in the nation with almost 14,000 warriors and an annual economic impact of $1 billion.

The Georgia Guard is comprised of two parts: the Georgia National Guard, which employs 11,000 army soldiers in 55 Georgia counties; and the Air National Guard (ANG), which employees 3,000 airmen mostly out of Dobbins ARB and Robins Air Force Base (AFB). The Georgia Guard generally augments army deployments overseas.

The Georgia Guard’s recent operations took place in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Germany, the country of Georgia and several countries in Africa. The ANG operates the C-130 Hercules airplanes out of Dobbins ARB and is the only wing in the United States that flies and operates the J-STAR Mission, an extremely old Boeing 707 airplane armed with advanced high-tech equipment capable of tracking movement on an astounding and classified scale. These ancient airplanes, which operate out of Robins AFB, are in dire need of an overhaul. The cash-strapped Air Force has been promising improvements for decades.

Georgia plays an important role in our nation’s security, and our committee is working hard to ensure that the strength of Georgia’s military bases is communicated to our decision makers. The committee’s next meeting will be at Fort Stewart and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.

About the author

Dave Belton

Ga. Rep. Dave Belton, R-Buckhead, represents the citizens of District 112, which includes all of Morgan County and the eastern side of Newton County. He was elected into the House of Representatives in 2014, and currently serves as a member of the Economic Development & Tourism, Education, and Interstate Cooperation committees.