“We want to establish a great working relationship with Holloman. Both Colonel Ekman and Colonel Croft have been here with their families and we want to make them feel welcome,” said Alborn as he introduced Ekman to the council.
Ekman, second in command at Holloman, made remarks to the council explaining the expanded mission of the base. “We’re the biggest air combat command in the United States. The base accounts for more than 50 percent of the Alamogordo area population when you consider military, civilian personnel and our German flight training base,” explained Ekman.
He proceeded to explain Holloman’s four priorities: Readiness, Personnel Care, Infrastructure management, and Community engagement.
“We are all over the place as we support more than 30,000 airmen all over the world, in training and equipment readiness. We’re in high demand as we provide combat readiness for our F 22 forces.” Ekman explained the focus of Holloman is changing to include becoming the premiere site for training in unmanned flight.
“Our personnel are our most valuable resource. We are committed to taking care of airmen and their families, retirees, children and reservists.” Ekman spoke about the efforts Holloman pursues in securing the best medical care, recreational activities and opportunities for those connected with the air base. “We know there are societal challenges which affect all our families and we’re going to do our best to provide for their care.”
Ekman spoke about the physical plant at Holloman. “We were established in 1942 and we still have some of those original buildings. Our infrastructure needs refurbishing and modernization so we can grow the remote piloted aircraft program.” He explained industry will continue to grow with increased demand for facilities. There are construction projects associated with recapitalization and modernization. “Family housing (on the base) has changed over the last 10 years,” said Ekman, “and we’re going to need to supply more than 900 quality base houses for the upcoming need.”
About community involvement, Ekman said, “Engagement is something we take very seriously.” He listed several projects in which Holloman personnel have participated with the Alamogordo community. “We picked projects hard for the community to get to. We’ve fixed parking areas, landscaped the Crisis Pregnancy Center, worked to upgrade the community dog walk among other projects,” said Ekman. “A read-a-thon we participated in raised more than $5,300. We’ve donated more than 7,200 hours, which works out to $252,000 in economic value to the community. This year we beat the sum of the last four years in donation of time.” Ekman’s proud of the Holloman community.
Holloman will be reimaging with the inclusion of the Air Education Unit for F 16 pilots in 2013. “We’ll supply half the training in the United States,” said Ekman. Along with unmanned flight training, Holloman is changing to meet the current needs of combat readiness. They’ll keep the same number of staff and personnel on base throughout the process.
“We want to work with Holloman whatever way we can,” offered Alborn after Ekman’s presentation to the council.
Ekman and Holloman officers encourage outdoor activities for the airmen and their families. He’s looking forward to the ski season and is impressed with the availability Lincoln County offers base personnel to get away from the base and enjoy the outdoors. “Personal isolation issues make us want to get our airmen outside and contribute to communities around them,” says Ekman.