By Kevin Jackson, AMCApril 25, 2017
McALESTER ARMY AMMUNITION PLANT, Okla. -- Senior Air Force and Army commanders from across Oklahoma met here, April 11-12, to discuss common issues of concern and exchange ideas for effective and efficient solutions.
Billed as the Oklahoma Commanders' Summit, the third biannual event brought together senior leaders from Tinker AFB, Altus AFB, the Oklahoma Air National Guard, Fort Sill and MCAAP. The first meeting, was held Feb. 19, 2016, at Tinker AFB.
"We should be reaching out to the other installations to get efficiencies where possible and synchronize efforts with our congressional leaders," said Lt. Gen. Lee K. Levy II, commander, Air Force Sustainment Center at Tinker AFB, during his initial visit to MCAAP, Jan. 11, 2016.
The commanders spent two hours discussing direct hiring authority, hiring freeze impacts, Real ID, reciprocity of licensure/credentialing for spouses of service members, security posture, opportunities to partner with other state agencies, and Operation Vigilant Guard 18-1.
OVG is a U.S. Northern Command and National Guard Bureau disaster response exercise designed to prepare the respective state's National Guard and civilian first responders to work collaboratively in the event of an emergency.
At the conclusion of the discussion, leaders of the McAlester Defense Support Association met briefly with the commanders to talk about their work in support of the City of McAlester's efforts to lure defense-related businesses to the area.
While the commanders were discussing matters of mutual interest, their spouses met to discuss mutual interests, too. Rhonda Levy joined Christy Herron at her residence for breakfast, during which Misty Tollett, chairperson of the Children's Christmas Party, talked about the annual program that has delivered holiday cheer to underprivileged children in the area since 1951.
Accompanied by Randy Wengstrom, director of Community Activities, the spouses also visited the Child Development Center, where Mrs. Levy read to the children before stopping at the MCAAP fitness center.
During a working lunch at the historic C-Tree School House, the spouses joined the commanders to watch the MCAAP command video and receive an executive briefing that outlined MCAAP's efforts as a readiness-enabler to the nation's warfighters.
At its conclusion, the group visited several of MCAAP's facilities. They walked B-Line to observe the load, pack and assembly of 2,000-pound conventional bombs, and toured the M1122 production facility, where they observed the assembly of the 155 mm artillery training round.
The group also visited the plant's largest outload pad from which munitions and munitions components are shipped and received. The final stop was to a specialty munitions facility before returning to the headquarters to wrap up the summit.
"From the cabins to the dinner last night to today, this was a great event. I know this was a heavy lift for you," Lt. Gen. Levy said to Col. Herron.
"I'll speak for my whole team, we're thrilled that you all took the time out of your busy schedules to come here," Herron said.
"I cannot tell this story enough," he added. "These people are fantastic at what they do for the nation. So, we're thrilled that we had a chance to host you."
Levy said the next summit will be in five or six months and will rotate to another base so the commanders can continue to learn about the missions of the other installations in the state.
"We have an obligation to tell each other's story, not only in Oklahoma, but through our services," he said.
The visit to a different military installation made an impression on some commanders.
"This reminds me why America is great," said Maj. Gen. Brian J. McKiernan, commanding general of the U.S. Army Fires Center of Excellence at Fort Sill, to Herron. "I got the same sensation when I was out a Tinker."
Other commanders who participated in the event were Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Ryan, Oklahoma Air National Guard, and Col. Todd A. Hohn, 97th Air Mobility Wing, Altus AFB.
MCAAP is one of 14 installations of the Joint Munitions Command and one of 23 organic industrial base facilities under the U.S. Army Materiel Command.