NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. --
Even as he continues to unpack moving boxes, Col. Michael Bartley, 99th Air Base Wing commander, has had his mind on Nellis’ mission since the day he took command, March 17th.
From the security forces guarding the gates to the cooks in the flight kitchen, Colonel Bartley said, everyone plays a critical role at Nellis.
“The bottom line is, everyone is important,” Colonel Bartley said. “I don’t care if they’re fixing a generator or repairing a road, everyone’s important, especially in the expeditionary Air Force.
“Today more than ever, all of those people who are in the ‘back shops’ are closer to the fight than in decades before – our cops are out forward, our transporters are out doing convoy ops, our civil engineers are fixing roads and clearing mines. We’ve got all of these forces out forward who have now become the operational piece of the Air Force.”
“Operationally” is how Colonel Bartley looks at Nellis. He has flown combat missions in three of the six operational units he has served. However, he said he knows what it takes for successful operations.
“In order to keep your eye on the operations piece, you’ve got to have the infrastructure – the behind-the-scenes support that makes everything run so the mission will happen,” he said.
As the air base wing commander, he is responsible for more than just Nellis and Creech. Colonel Bartley shares responsibilities with the 98th Range Wing, 57th Wing, and tenant units on base.
“My focus is to ensure that the mission happens at all of those places without hindrance – that the support piece – meaning infrastructure and resources – is there so that the testing, training and tactics development can happen without those people looking over their shoulder saying, ‘What’s happening with the base infrastructure?’” he said.
Another challenge for the base is the personnel influx Nellis will receive from the Base Re-alignment and Closure Commission.
“As we continue to grow with BRAC, I need to make sure the infrastructure will meet the needs of that growth,” he added. “I’m focused long term, not just tomorrow.”
Nellis’ growth is mirrored in the Southern Nevada community, which Colonel Bartley also has in his sights.
“I see encroachment becoming an issue long-term, but it’s nothing that we can’t overcome,” he said.
Overcoming all challenges is something Colonel Bartley looks forward to with enthusiasm.
“My wife and I are excited to be at Nellis and supporting its mission of testing, training and tactics development,” he said.