Teamwork maximizes Team Dover’s capabilities

  • Published
  • By Col. Craig C. Peters
  • 512th Airlift Wing commander

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- As Airmen, we are part of a group of professionals who have answered a higher calling to serve freely in defense of our Constitution. Every branch of service and component all serve proudly, embracing diversity, and we are bonded by our mutual respect for each other. With these principles at the core of our DNA, we often adopt catchy slogans to further define or motivate us. Here at Dover Air Force Base, we use “Team Dover” to highlight our total force efforts, but do we really maximize strategic planning and execution capacity in all facets of our mission to deliver rapid global mobility? Do we take into account what our fellow teammates bring to the fight?


Now that a great power competition has re-emerged as the central challenge to our nation, combined with facing peer competitors in the future, our mismatch between demand and available resources requires us to maximize the efficiencies and capacities of available assets and forces.


To better explain what the Liberty Wing offers is to first understand the classic association integration model used between the Eagle and Liberty wings since 1971. This model embraces the optimum integration of the Regular Air Force and the Reserve to provide realistic training for reserve personnel, allow for efficient use of shared resources, and to provide operational benefits to the Reg AF and Reserve. The Eagle Wing serves as the host, retains principle responsibility for the weapon systems, infrastructure and is aligned under a command structure. The Liberty Wing operates as a tenant under a separate command structure. Support roles are tied together by a host tenant support agreement.


With over 1,600 Reserve Citizen Airmen, it’s important to understand most Liberty Wing members began their careers as active-duty members, either here at Dover or elsewhere, and then transitioned to the Reserve because of the stability offered. The transitioned reservists then manage what’s known as the Reserve Triad – family, civilian employer and military career. Between monthly two-day Unit Training Assemblies and 15 Annual Tour days, Reserve Citizen Airmen are required to serve a minimum of 39 days a year to remain current and qualified in every aspect of the mission. As the Air Force Reserve has transitioned from a strategic reserve to an operational reserve, most reservists average 80 to 100 days a year, not including deployments.


In comparison, the Eagle Wing’s manpower is primarily provided by the rotational nature of the Air Force assignment system, which brings a steady supply of new perspectives; however, this benefit comes at some cost to the sustained continuity of programs over time. This often creates a sort of “Ground Hog Day” effect as Liberty Wing members watch program life cycles and actions repeat over time. An unintended consequence of this consistent two-year cycle of learning can result in an oversite of inclusion by one side of the team and a reluctance to travel the same flight path again by the other side of the team. As result, we don’t always capitalize on our inherent ability to maximize strategic alignment and execute as efficiently as we could.


Liberty Wing members offer a diversity of experience to help with innovation. They bring talent, depth and experience from their civilian jobs. Many of Dover’s Reserve Citizen Airmen, both officer and enlisted, have Ph.D.s and are doctors, lawyers, airline pilots, community leaders and elected officials.


Additionally, the longevity and experience levels of Liberty Wing reservists are sometimes double to triple that of an Eagle Wing counterpart. For example, our wing’s average experience is: Officers 17 years; Enlisted 12 years; C-5 pilot average hours 3,841 and C-17 pilot average hours 4,344.


Never in our history has it been more important for us to ensure we are united as a total force. Your individual actions as a member of Team Dover will make a difference. A key point to understand is successful integration of Liberty Wing members requires lead time to coordinate and juggle the complexities associated with the Reserve Triad.


So, the next time you hear “Team Dover,” I challenge you to ask yourself if you’re doing everything in your power to include every member of the team, ensuring our moniker is more than just a catchy phrase.