Critical infrastructure at Tyndall AFB is starting to come back on line, according to an update Col. Brian Laidlaw, commander of the 325th Fighter Wing, provided Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth Wright over the weekend. The base now has power and workers are testing “various circuits,” Laidlaw said. The wastewater treatment plant is fully operational. Of the 300 buildings that employees have inspected — out of 704 total — at least 37 percent are fixable. Laidlaw said 1,200 people have been brought in from across the Air Force to recover base infrastructure. “Their job is to save what they can and, from there, build the base that is needed,” reported 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs. “If you would have asked me two weeks ago how many of our buildings we thought would be operational, I would not have told you 37 percent,” Laidlaw said. … Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), chair of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, last week said the committee is prepared to provide whatever assistance is required to support areas devastated by Hurricane Michael. “[Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Fla.)] has kept me updated on the situation on the ground, especially at Tyndall Air Force Base,” Granger said in a written statement. “I will be visiting Tyndall soon to see firsthand what is needed for the base and the community to fully recover,” she said. … It could cost $2.5 billion to rebuild Tyndall but the investment is justified, partially because of the installation’s proximity to the Gulf Test Range, which accommodates high-altitude supersonic air combat training, said David Deptula, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who now is dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. “It makes sense to rebuild it,” Deptula told Defense News. “Other than its proximity to testing ranges, it makes sense for mission, economic and political purposes.” He dismissed the notion that the 325th Fighter Wing’s F-22 Raptors could be moved elsewhere. In July, the Government Accountability Office recommended DOD consider consolidating its F-22 fleet into larger squadrons or wings as a way to increase aircraft availability. Such a move would provide a larger pool of aircraft and spare parts to draw from in a contingency, GAO said.
Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Carnes