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Re-imagining Dyess’ combat capacity

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Mercedes Porter
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

It’s no secret that the B-1B Lancer and the Airmen who fly, maintain, and support the bomber have faced many obstacles over the last few years at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Between an emergency landing in Midland, Texas, and two Air Force Global Strike Command safety stand-downs, 7th Bomb Wing Airmen worked day in and day out to ensure the B-1 fleet was safe to fly and stayed capable and ready for any contingency.

In the midst of the challenges facing the B-1 fleet, Col. Ed Sumangil, 7th BW commander, took command in 2019. He made it a priority to restore the B-1’s combat capacity and re-imagine the wing’s combat capability. Knowing the importance of Airmen and families to the 7th BW’s mission, he is also making strides to ‘build the bench’ and retain 21st century Airmen and their families. His vision for the bomb wing is to be the most respected and feared bomber force in the world, which can only be accomplished by professional Airmen delivering credible, adaptive, and decisive combat power.

But what exactly do these priorities mean?

Restore B-1 combat capacity; re-imagine 7th BW combat capability:

“What we are trying to accomplish with restoring the B-1 combat capacity is to achieve a level we were before we had to do the reset,” said Sumangil. “But, we need to restore it in a way that is sustainable in the long-term and enable the aircraft to be in inventory a lot longer. It’s not just about the B-1; it’s also the 7th Bomb Wing’s combat capability. Right now, we need to get beyond what we are comfortable with and get to the priorities outlined in the 2018 National Defense Strategy. As a wing, we need to adapt everything we do in order to be successful against our Great Power adversaries in the future.”

‘Build the bench’:

“Not every Airman is going to be a command chief, but we need to train and educate them to be ready to be the next command chief,” said Chief Master Sgt. Eric Dugger, 7th Bomb Wing command chief. “We need to build the Airmen to be that next chief. Even if they are not one day, we need to be building them that way. Whether they are going to be the next colonel, the next chief of staff, that is what we should be building to each and every day. Every Airman should want to excel, be able to grow and to be able to exceed all expectations. If we aren’t doing that with our Airmen, then we are letting our Air Force down. They need to be feared and respected at what they do every single day.”

Retain the 21st century Airmen and families:

“Bottom line, upfront,” said Col. Matthew Newell, 7th Bomb Wing vice commander. “If your family is not happy, then you’re not happy, right? What I have told people I’ve worked with in the past, and currently, is the Air Force is with you for a set amount of time. It might be four years, it might be 40 years, but your family is with you for life. So within the 7th BW, we are focusing on revitalizing a wide array of programs and looking into what Airmen want today and how we retain them today.”

While the challenges haven’t stopped for Dyess or the B-1, the command team is confident that focusing on these priorities will enable the Airmen of the 7th BW to be the most respected and feared bomber force in the world.