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AAC commander highlights Eglin accomplishments in 2011

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Merchant

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Merchant

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- With 2011 behind us, I want to take this opportunity to highlight a few of Team Eglin's many outstanding accomplishments.

We welcomed our nation's premier front line fighter jet, the F-35 Lightning II, as part of the 33rd Fighter Wing, while also bedding down the Army's 7th Special Forces Group near Duke Field.  Not only did we showcase our great workforce with an extremely rare "Excellent" Operational Readiness Inspection rating from the AFMC IG team, we also earned impressive awards to include the AFMC Commander-In-Chief Installation Excellence Award, the Association of Defense Communities' DoD Installation of the Year Award, and the 46th Test Wing's AF Outstanding Unit Award for the 13th consecutive year!

The 96th Air Base Wing provided exceptional base operating support to Eglin's five wings and the Air Armament Center resulting in 100 percent mission success rate despite a 32 percent reduction in discretionary funding and a 27 percent increase in mission and personnel growth.  In response to the new mission areas and in support of AAC's priorities, we improved a number of old facilities and built new, state of the art accommodations for the 7th SFG and 33rd FW joint strike fighter training.  We made significant improvements to quality of life providing new medical facilities, physical training resources and child care facilities.

The Air Armament Center contributed to AFMC's largest AEF commitment; deploying 1,400 warriors in 2011 and 77 cargo short-tons with an incredible 99.9 percent on-time rate. To date, we still have 468 Team Eglin members deployed.  We also equipped all those in the fight with war-winning and game-changing technology for over 5,100 combat drops, over 14,000 weapons delivered, and two Joint Urgent Operational Needs: Laser JDAM and BLU 129.

The 46th TW verified the critical performance on a multitude of Air Force and Joint weapon systems, aircraft avionics, aircraft survivability, and command, control, communication and computer systems.  Their expert planning, execution and oversight of approximately 15,000 ground, flight test, and training missions supporting 689 programs ensured timely delivery of cutting-edge technology to the warfighter and paved the way for next generation weapons and aircraft.

The rapid development and testing of the MC-130 Dragon Spear resulted in improved precision strike capability with immediate warfighter impact as the modified aircraft entered the combat arena.  The 46th TW led AF quick reaction weapons tests to include the Secretary of Defense's priority efforts, such as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator and PL MK-82.  Quick reaction certifications provided combat air forces with additional weapon load configurations needed in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn.

Finally, I want to offer my personal thanks to all of you for your outstanding support. While 2012 will bring a new array of opportunities and challenges, we will continue to deliver state-of-the-art weapons to the warfighter, provide top quality installation support to all AAC and tenant units, and serve as responsible stewards of Air Force resources.  I truly appreciate all the significant and valuable work you have done and continue to do to make Eglin the premiere place to live and work!