Officials at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Pima County and area institutions are considering moving ahead with six initiatives that emerged from a series of meetings aimed at identifying ways the installation and the community could partner to enhance the value of D-M or allow it to save money.
The ideas for the most part represent new initiatives rather than the sharing of services that would allow the installation to trim its operating expenses:
- work with the University of Arizona and community colleges to identify and fill internship positions requiring key skills needed at D-M;
- team up with the University of Arizona and local heritage groups to help military personnel practice foreign language skills;
- work with local, state and federal first responders to improve communication among agencies;
- partner with city and county parks and recreation departments to share use of D-M facilities, including the Mirage Club and conference center, pools, sports fields and outdoor equipment;
- work with the university’s Valley Fever Center of Excellence and the College of Agriculture to study the relationship between respiratory disease and turf grass, focusing on the health of Air Force working dogs;
- use students from local medical programs to play roles and support D-M’s annual Angel Thunder combat search-and-rescue training exercise.
“Everyone realizes it’s better when we’re more integrated. It’s more efficient and more effective,” Col. James Meger, commander of the 355th Fighter Wing, told the Arizona Daily Star.
The participants winnowed these six ideas from a list of 40. One idea, installing a wastewater treatment plant on base, was dropped due to its cost. Others, such as letting the public use D-M facilities such as the golf course, raised access issues.
Fred Meurer, former city manager of Monterey, Calif., told the Daily Star that installation-community partnerships can work in a base’s favor when DOD is ranking its installations for a base closure round, but they must have value.