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513th ACG reveals new facility

With a quick motion of oversized scissors, Col. Laurie Dickson, Commander, 513th Air Control Group, officially "opens" the new 513th ACG headquarters for business Sept. 7, 2018, at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The 513th Air Control Group is the only Air Force Reserve unit to fly and maintain the E-3 Sentry, an Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft that provides surveillance, warning and tactical control of U.S. and allied military aircraft.  As a Reserve associate unit, Airmen assigned to the 513th ACG work hand-in-hand with the active-duty 552nd Air Control Wing, which is responsible for the E-3 Sentry aircraft assigned to Tinker AFB. Working together, Tinker AFB's Team AWACS maintains a reliable presence in numerous missions worldwide. (Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Grady Epperly)

With a quick motion of oversized scissors, Col. Laurie Dickson, Commander, 513th Air Control Group, officially "opens" the new 513th ACG headquarters for business Sept. 7, 2018, at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The 513th Air Control Group is the only Air Force Reserve unit to fly and maintain the E-3 Sentry, an Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft that provides surveillance, warning and tactical control of U.S. and allied military aircraft. As a Reserve associate unit, Airmen assigned to the 513th ACG work hand-in-hand with the active-duty 552nd Air Control Wing, which is responsible for the E-3 Sentry aircraft assigned to Tinker AFB. Working together, Tinker AFB's Team AWACS maintains a reliable presence in numerous missions worldwide. (Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Grady Epperly)

Col. Laurie Dickson, 513th Air Control Group commander, relates the six-year challenge of building the new 513th ACG headquarters facility and how numerous base organizations came together to make it a reality during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 7, 2018, at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. The 513th Air Control Group is the only Air Force Reserve unit to fly and maintain the E-3 Sentry, an Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft that provides surveillance, warning and tactical control of U.S. and allied military aircraft. As a Reserve associate unit, Airmen assigned to the 513th ACG work hand-in-hand with the active-duty 552nd Air Control Wing, which is responsible for the E-3 Sentry aircraft assigned to Tinker Air Force Base. Working together, Tinker AFB's Team AWACS maintains a reliable presence in numerous missions worldwide. (Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Grady Epperly)

Col. Laurie Dickson, 513th Air Control Group commander, relates the six-year challenge of building the new 513th ACG headquarters facility and how numerous base organizations came together to make it a reality during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 7, 2018, at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. The 513th Air Control Group is the only Air Force Reserve unit to fly and maintain the E-3 Sentry, an Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft that provides surveillance, warning and tactical control of U.S. and allied military aircraft. As a Reserve associate unit, Airmen assigned to the 513th ACG work hand-in-hand with the active-duty 552nd Air Control Wing, which is responsible for the E-3 Sentry aircraft assigned to Tinker Air Force Base. Working together, Tinker AFB's Team AWACS maintains a reliable presence in numerous missions worldwide. (Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Grady Epperly)

Among the Tinker Air Force Base, Oklaoma, leaders present for the 513th Air Control Group ribbon-cutting event Sept. 7, 2018, were Col. Dana Nelson, 507th Air Refueling Wing vice commander, and Col. Kenyon Bell, 72nd Air Base Wing commander. The 72nd ABW is the host installation command for Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, of which the 513th ACG is a tenant. The 507th ARW is the larger AFRC organization present at Tinker. The 507th ARW maintains a fleet of eight KC-135 Stratotankers and provides administrative support to the 513th ACG. The 513th Air Control Group is the only Air Force Reserve unit to fly and maintain the E-3 Sentry, an Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft that provides surveillance, warning and tactical control of U.S. and allied military aircraft. As a Reserve Associate Unit, 513th ACG Airmen assigned work hand-in-hand with the active-duty 552nd Air Control Wing, contributing reliable AWACS support to numerous missions worldwide regularly. (Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Grady Epperly)

Among the Tinker Air Force Base, Oklaoma, leaders present for the 513th Air Control Group ribbon-cutting event Sept. 7, 2018, were Col. Dana Nelson, 507th Air Refueling Wing vice commander, and Col. Kenyon Bell, 72nd Air Base Wing commander. The 72nd ABW is the host installation command for Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, of which the 513th ACG is a tenant. The 507th ARW is the larger AFRC organization present at Tinker. The 507th ARW maintains a fleet of eight KC-135 Stratotankers and provides administrative support to the 513th ACG. The 513th Air Control Group is the only Air Force Reserve unit to fly and maintain the E-3 Sentry, an Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft that provides surveillance, warning and tactical control of U.S. and allied military aircraft. As a Reserve Associate Unit, 513th ACG Airmen assigned work hand-in-hand with the active-duty 552nd Air Control Wing, contributing reliable AWACS support to numerous missions worldwide regularly. (Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Grady Epperly)

Members of the 513th Air Control Group gather at a ribbon-cutting ceremony with refreshments Sept. 7, 2018, at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The 513th Air Control Group is the only Air Force Reserve unit to fly and maintain the E-3 Sentry, an Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft that provides surveillance, warning and tactical control of U.S. and allied military aircraft. As a Reserve Associate Unit, 513th ACG Airmen assigned work hand-in-hand with the active-duty 552nd Air Control Wing, contributing reliable AWACS support to numerous missions worldwide regularly. (Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Grady Epperly)

Members of the 513th Air Control Group gather at a ribbon-cutting ceremony with refreshments Sept. 7, 2018, at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The 513th Air Control Group is the only Air Force Reserve unit to fly and maintain the E-3 Sentry, an Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft that provides surveillance, warning and tactical control of U.S. and allied military aircraft. As a Reserve Associate Unit, 513th ACG Airmen assigned work hand-in-hand with the active-duty 552nd Air Control Wing, contributing reliable AWACS support to numerous missions worldwide regularly. (Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Grady Epperly)

Active-duty and Reserve leadership from across the Tinker Air Force Base community share stories and jokes prior to the big event Sept. 7, 2018. The 513th Air Control Group is the only Air Force Reserve unit to fly and maintain the E-3 Sentry, an Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft that provides surveillance, warning and tactical control of U.S. and allied military aircraft. As a Reserve Associate Unit, ACG Airmen assigned work hand-in-hand with the active-duty 552nd Air Control Wing, contributing reliable AWACS support to numerous missions worldwide regularly. (Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Grady Epperly)

Active-duty and Reserve leadership from across the Tinker Air Force Base community share stories and jokes prior to the big event Sept. 7, 2018. The 513th Air Control Group is the only Air Force Reserve unit to fly and maintain the E-3 Sentry, an Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft that provides surveillance, warning and tactical control of U.S. and allied military aircraft. As a Reserve Associate Unit, ACG Airmen assigned work hand-in-hand with the active-duty 552nd Air Control Wing, contributing reliable AWACS support to numerous missions worldwide regularly. (Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Grady Epperly)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The 513th Air Control Group – call sign ’Thumper’ – has officially moved into its new home Sept. 7, after six years of planning, bringing the operations, support and headquarters elements together in the same building for the first time in twenty years.


With representatives from across the Tinker Air Force Base community in attendance, the Airborne Warning and Control System Reserve associate unit dedicated the new 30,000 square foot, two-story facility, also known as Building 461. With inclement weather in the forecast and last-minute maneuvering, the new structure was also the location for the Reserve unit’s family day Sept. 9.

“The new facility offers amenities and capabilities far beyond what is currently available to our Airmen,” said Col. Laurie Dickson, 513th ACG commander. “This new facility offers five times the area, improving the quality of training for all components of our operations elements while being in closer proximity to our active-duty partners at the 552nd Air Control Wing.”

 

The path to the dedication day began officially May 23, 2012, when Lt. Gen. Charles Stenner, Jr., commander of the Air Force Reserve at the time, delivered his posture statement on the status of the Reserve to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Defense. Stenner was a proponent of the associate unit concept and said he recognized that active-duty squadrons were struggling to get pilots the experience and time they needed, while the Reserve had experienced mentors and availability. 


“The Air Force leverages the expertise of the Reserve Component through associate constructs in which units…share equipment and facilities to carry out a common mission,” Stenner said to the subcommittee. “We have established a wide variety of associate units throughout the Air Force, combining the assets and manpower…to establish Total Force units that capitalize on the strengths of each individual component.”

 

Prior to his testimony, Stenner visited many Reserve associate units across the Air Force, including the 513th ACG. In hopes that better facilities could lead to improved training and mentorship of Reserve Airmen, he started the process for construction to begin on Building 461. With $13 million in congressional appropriations gathered, matured and ready, a contract was awarded on Feb. 26, 2016, to begin construction.

 

507th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Director of Facilities, Joseph Wade, said this project wasn’t a renovation of the existing structure, but a removal of previous structures that had been on-site. The project called for the construction of a new building entirely, including modified underground utilities necessary to maintain a state-of-the-art structure appropriate for a 21st-century AWACS mission.  

 

“We encountered several challenges and delays, but we overcame all of them,” said Wade. “Our people worked together and we’ve built an outstanding home for the 513th Air Control Group that can stand proudly for decades to come and support future generations of Thumpers.”

 

The new facility is more than just an aesthetic interior. The 30,000 square foot structure features a 250-seat auditorium, a gym with locker rooms and showers, a fully-outfitted flight medical suite and a heritage hall to highlight the history of the group. Paintings from the Air Force Art Program office, as well as works by 465th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator and artist, Senior Master Sgt. Darby Perrin, are slated to be featured in the heritage hall to serve as a reminder for  AWACS Airmen the legacy they live up to everyday.

 

“This new facility represents more than an investment in the AWACS mission, but also in the Airmen who stand ready to provide combat-ready theater battle management forces and mobile command and control to America’s fighting forces and those of our allies,” said Dickson.

The 552nd Air Control Wing commander, Col. Geoffrey Weiss, attended the ceremony and emphasized how he thinks the new building will strengthen ties between the Thumpers and their active duty counterparts.


“At the direction of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, AWACS deploys, operates and supports these forces worldwide, ensuring combat capability for all peacetime and contingency operations. Many of those missions today have Reservists working hard to make those missions succeed. Building 461 is a testament to the confidence and faith of our leaders in the Reserve Airmen who make up our amazing AWACS Reserve associate unit.”