Grand Forks AFB earns 2018 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Story by SrA Elijaih Tiggs on 02/06/2019
General James M. Holmes, commander, Air Combat Command, recently announced the 319th Air Base Wing among the winners of the 2018 ACC Air Force Outstanding Unit award and Air Force Organizational Excellence award for June 1, 2016 May 31, 2018.
“Our Warriors of the North execute the mission, day in and day out, with precision and excellence,” said Col. Benjamin Spencer, 319 ABW Commander. “We’re extremely proud to receive this award which is a reflection of the selfless service of the men and women of Grand Forks AFB.”
Grand Forks AFB was recognized for the exemplary way it executed its primary mission, providing critical support to its two operational missions–the RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude, long endurance intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft and the High Frequency Global Communication System (HFGCS). The wing sustained $740 million worth of Global Hawk remotely-piloted aircraft, executing support for 12,000 combat flying hours and 161 troops-in-contact scenarios. For HFGCS, the 319th Communication Squadron operated one of two network control stations, supporting 1,400 communication bridges and enabling execution for 10,000 combat command war orders.
The 319 ABW also executed seamless support to mission partners. The 319th Security Forces Squadron led Cavalier Air Force Station defense capabilities, securing its $1.6 billion perimeter acquisition radar characterization system. The wing also supported Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations activities at Grand Forks AFB, providing enhanced facilities for their remotely-piloted aircraft operations while coordinating with the Secretary of the Air Force for the transfer of their manned flying operation from the Grand Forks International Airport to the base.
The 319 ABW had regional impact as well. The wing operated an honor guard program that serviced 153,000 square miles across four states, executing 569 details/events and earning Air Mobility Command’s Honor Guard Team of the Year Award.
The wing sought innovative ways to drive investment into critical base infrastructure. It awarded two 50-year utilities privatization contracts worth a total of $372 million: $286 million for water/wastewater and $86 million for the electric grid. In the first five years of the contract, the wing expects to see $10.3 million of investment in its water/wastewater systems and $1.7 million of investment into its electrical grid, assuring mission execution for years to come.
Additionally, the wing worked with Grand Forks County and Grand Sky to execute arguably the most effective and successful enhanced use lease in the Air Force. The base oversaw a historic flight, ensuring an on-time departure for the first-ever trans-Atlantic crossing by medium-altitude long endurance remotely-piloted aircraft, which landed at RAF Fairford in Great Britain. The base also worked to provide critical radar access that enabled the first-ever beyond-visual-line-of-sight RPA sortie from Grand Sky.
Grand Forks AFB also executed short-notice operations in support of Hurricane Maria relief. It supported the South Dakota Air National Guard’s deployment of four aircraft carrying a total of 76 tons of cargo in less than 72 hours to Puerto Rico, guaranteeing timely delivery of life-saving aid.
Col Spencer also highlighted the support of the local community as critical to earning this prestigious award. “The Airmen of the 319 ABW would be hard pressed to seamlessly execute mission without our amazing Greater Grand Forks Community,” said Col Spencer. “Our Global Hawk Community’ continues to provide world-class support to our Global Hawk Base, as it has for the past 65 years.”