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News > Spangdahlem, Travis compete for $1 million
Counting down to IEA visit

Posted 1/7/2011   Updated 1/9/2011 Email story   Print story


by Master Sgt. Kelley J. Stewart
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office

1/7/2011 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- In less than three weeks, Spangdahlem AB will host the Installation Excellence Selection Board. The board's members will conduct a two-day visit to determine the Air Force's Installation Excellence and Special Recognition Award winners. Spangdahlem AB is competing against Travis Air Force Base, Calif., for this year's IEA. The base that wins will receive $1 million to increase quality of life.

According to Air Force Instruction 36-2831, The Commander-In Chief's Annual Awards for Installation Excellence, a four-page nomination package is submitted for the fiscal year to a base's major command. Each MAJCOM then submits one base for contention for this award to the Air Staff, and Spangdahlem was U.S. Air Forces in Europe's entrant.

"The Air Staff scored our package across functional areas," Col. Clint Hinote, 52nd Fighter Wing vice commander, said. "We ended up scoring the highest of anyone in the Air Force."

The wing's "other activities" put the base ahead of Travis during the Functional Expert Working Group evaluation of the packages. The "other activities" included things such as the base's two bazaars, St. Martin's Special Children's Day, Explore the Eifel, Sew Much Comfort, Deployed Spouses Care, and building strong community relationships.

"Things like that pushed us to number one. That was the tie breaker," the colonel said. Along with the Installation Excellence Award, the base is submitting about 100 special recognition packages for outstanding performance.

"You can think of (these packages) as some of the building blocks of outstanding performance that have made our base what it is," Colonel Hinote said.

The vice commander believes the main things that made the base stand out against the rest of the Air Force is the diversity of the base's missions, sustained excellence in accomplishing those missions and the challenging environment.

"It's just tougher to do our missions over here," he said. "Everything is so different. On a personal level, we have to overcome challenges just to serve here. On an institutional level, we have to overcome restrictions on our flying, restrictions on what we can and can't do within the local government, and we are always dealing with the language and cultural barriers.

"The neat thing about Spangdahlem is we're overcoming those challenges in a way that is fostering that partnership with NATO and our other partners over here."

The colonel believes that sentiment came through in the package, and the wing leadership wants to show the FEWG what Airmen are doing, the environment in which they're doing it, and how they're rising to the challenge.

"We want to show the team coming in what makes Spangdahlem and the Saber family special," Colonel Hinote said. "That means we all have to pull together and put our best foot forward."

The colonel said preparations for this visit have gone very well so far. The 52nd FW has developed a plan and put together an itinerary for the visit. To help prepare the base, there will be several dry runs in the next few weeks, including one with distinguished visitors from USAFE who will simulate the team coming in.

According to Colonel Hinote, Travis AFB will be tough competition because the base has already hosted a team from Air Mobility Command. That was how the base was selected to represent its command.

"They've actually had the chance to host a team and show them things," the vice commander said. "We know we're behind them a little bit and have to catch up with the dry runs we're going to be doing."

According to the colonel, the intent is not to try and match Travis in pomp and circumstance but to show the team what makes Spangdahlem special.

"This is not about eyewash," Colonel Hinote said. "We aren't going to waste money repainting the base in the middle of a harsh winter just because the IEA team is here. Instead, we are going to show how our Airmen make a difference for our country by being here and projecting power into the Middle East and beyond. We will still have a clean base and sharp facilities, but we've got to show them what makes us special. If do that, we'll do fine in the competition."

There are three lines of effort the base is emphasizing for this visit. The first, and main line, of effort is developing the itinerary and planning the execution of hosting the five board members.

"They're only here for a few days, and we have to show them how excellent we are in a very limited amount of time. Every minute counts, so we're planning it out to the minute," he said.

The second line of effort is the special recognition packages. The IEA writing team will take two days to make sure the packages submitted reflect the excellence of the people here.

The third line of effort is base clean up, to include the insides of buildings.

"We're not going to be so concerned about whether it's snowing that week. In fact, we would like it to snow so we can show them our snow removal operation," Colonel Hinote said. "What that means though, is we have to be concerned about how the inside looks. There is no excuse for the insides of the buildings. They need to look good."

The colonel considers every Airman on base a leader, and as leaders, they need to take responsibility for their areas.

"We all have something we can take ownership in, and we all need to pull together to get the base looking as good as we can before they get here. We also need to keep it up," he said.

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