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Dyess AFB Command Chief Responds to Outdated “Five Air Force Bases You Want to Avoid” Task and Purpose Article

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Coltrin
  • 7th Bomb Wing

On Nov. 24, 2021 the news outlet Task and Purpose re-released a commentary written by Sarah Sicard titled, “5 Air Force Bases You Want to Avoid” originally published in March of 2016. In the article, Dyess AFB was listed at the top of the page as the worst base in the United States Air Force.  This was not the first time I read the criticism, as it was one of the first news stories I discovered after a quick Google search upon receiving orders to Dyess, my new duty station. After reading it, however, I was not deterred. As a matter of fact, I was even more motivated to accept the assignment because I would have the distinct honor and opportunity to make a positive difference in Airmen’s lives.

"CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!”

First, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Certainly not every Airman who gets assigned to Dyess falls in love with Big Country.  Abilene, Texas, similar to other Air Force assignments, has its own unique culture, opportunities, and people. 

However, let’s set the record straight in the assessment of this base and surrounding area as “the Air Force’s worst.”  My commentary is not meant to be a rebuttal or persuasive, just informational for the Airmen who are lucky enough to join our team.

Here are my observations about Dyess Air Force Base and the surrounding community:

1.   Our mission: we are America’s only lift and strike base! 

The 317th Airlift Wing, Air Mobility Command (AMC) represents LIFT, the 7th Bomb Wing, Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) represents STRIKE.  Our AMC wingmen we share the installation with just completed an arduous deployment to Africa and the Middle East.  With their C-130J aircraft, the team rearranged the Department of Defense’s posture on that continent and supported the Afghanistan evacuation. 

Similarly to the C-130s, our Rockwell B-1s have been quite busy conducting conventional deterrence missions in Eurafrica.  After a quick Google search, you will find numerous articles published highlighting the team’s effort from the highest levels of the United States government, combatant commands, our foreign partners, and even our ADVERSARIES have taken note of these missions.  Our mission is HARD WORK, but extremely rewarding.  All this while simultaneously conducting our garrison mission and growing the next generation of Bomber pilots in the Air Force’s sole B-1 Flying Training Unit.

Bottom line: Airmen at Dyess in sleepy Abilene wake up every morning knowing what they do every day matters --A LOT!  As the rest of the department creates phrases such as multi-capable Airmen (MCA) or agile combat employment (ACE) we just go out there and (ATM), accomplish the mission. Journalists, authors, and historians from around the world are already writing books about team Dyess’s exploits because of the history we make every day.  

2.   Second, West Texas has an abundance of opportunities for Airmen and families.  More and more families are choosing to move to, retire or separate and remain in the local area than ever before.  This is a reflection of the opportunities for Airmen and their families, the school system, as well as Abilene’s thriving downtown area and multiple colleges found in the once sleepy hollow.

When it comes to families, entertainment and quality of life, Abilene has aggressively made this a priority throughout all levels of the local government and local influencers such as its brawny Military Affairs Committee.  Matter of fact, “the Abilene Trophy” is an award named after this city and bestowed to the top military community in Air Mobility Command annually.  It’s named after Abilene, who is no longer allowed to compete, due to winning seven times in-a-row. 

Across the board, Dyess Air Force Base and the surrounding areas have improved dramatically in tremendous ways when it comes to quality of life for Airmen and families.  One notable statistic “the overall crime rate” as reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation has seen an overall decrease of criminal activity by 45% over the last 7 seven years…and by the way we aren’t stopping here.  The Abilene Police Department (APD) leads a monthly meeting with all local law enforcement to discuss issues, trends, and future operations to sync efforts and maximize the safety and security of all personnel in Abilene.  Dyess leaders attend those meetings and have a strong relationship with APD and the Taylor Country Sheriff’s Office.  

Our team still has work to do, as many other bases do, but we are getting there in collaboration with the local community --aggressively.  Every day we’re making strides to close the gap between Airmen needs and community options.

3.   Finally, let’s talk about the people.  In the heart of Abilene, you will find great Americans who value military service.  Don’t be surprised if, as a military member, someone picks up your tab at the store or if you are told numerous times, “Thank you for your service.”  This community straight up loves their military service men and women and they let members know it…every time they see you. 

On base, we have a diverse, resilient and empathetic team of leaders who are excited and eager to improve the lives of our Airmen and our community.  Now is a fantastic time to be part of the West Texas team.  The only thing prohibiting significant, positive change in our organization is beginning the conversation.

For some, Dyess AFB is the worst Air Force Base in the United States Air Force, others feel indifferent, and for some, they are ready to retire and call West Texas their forever-home.  For me, Dyess isn’t just the mission, opportunities, or local community – Dyess is the men and women who enter the gate every day, the folks who make up this awesome team, Dyess Air Force Base is us!  And for the lucky ones who get to call West Texas home, either for a couple years or a lifetime, we are proud to be here and share this special time together in this special place. 

So Airmen, update your dream sheets and come to Dyess, America’s only LIFT and STRIKE base.  Proud to be a Black Cross from Striker Nation in BIG COUNTRY…MORS AB ALTO!     

Links:

https://taskandpurpose.com/joining-the-military/5-air-force-bases-want-avoid/

https://abilenetx.gov/155/Police-Department

https://www.downtownabi.com/visit-here/

https://www.abilenechamber.com/blog/2020/11/03/for-immediate-release-military-affairs-committee-congratulates-2019-recipient-of-the-abilene-trophy/

https://www.amc.af.mil/

https://www.dvidshub.net/news/407791/501-csw-hosts-btf-tour-and-press-conference

https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2019/crime-in-the-u.s.-2019/tables/table-8/table-8-state-cuts/texas.xls

https://www.facebook.com/DyessAirForceBase/posts/272306904938696

Diverse and Excited team of leaders 

https://www.facebook.com/DyessAirForceBase/posts/272306904938696

Foreign Partners:

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