BY WAYNE CHARGUALAF
Andersen Air Force Base has a slew of quality of life projects planned for servicemembers and their families — including new recreational and housing facilities — even as it remains ready to respond to world events.
Gen. Gentry W. Boswell, commander of the Air Force’s 36th Wing — the host unit at Andersen — said that he doesn’t foresee any changes to the 36th Wing’s mission due to recently escalated tensions stemming from the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani by U.S. forces in January, although it does have assets that could be called into action in the region if necessary.
“The 36th Wing owns the support detachment at Diego Garcia, which belongs in [the United States Indo-Pacific Command] but sits right there at the junction of two theater commands,” he said. “It can support either or. The same can be said for our air base here.”
For the time being, Boswell said the 36th Wing will continue to conduct its enduring missions such as the continuous bomber presence, tanker task force and theater security packages as well as continue working with regional partners, especially through large force exercises.
“Those executing the full range of missions on a day to day basis out there are executing, I would say, probably 75% of the [United States Indo-Pacific Command] strategy,” he said.
Considering its importance in the region, it’s natural that Andersen AFB would be a focus of significant development.
“We work hand-in-hand with Joint Region Marianas, Naval Facilities Command, Naval Installations Command and the United States Marine Corps to make sure that we’re working together,” Boswell said.
Upcoming projects on Andersen include a $178 million family housing project recently awarded to Black Construction Corp. The project will be completed in 10 phases and work is currently being done on phases one, two and three, which will create 186 three and four-bedroom housing units for junior enlisted personnel and non-commissioned officers. The houses will replace existing duplexes and will include enclosed garages, lanais, upgraded appliances and high efficiency lighting. The expected completion date is June 2022.
Future projects include new dormitories and improvements to a number of facilities to include new windows, doors and paint. Top of the Rock is also set to be renovated.
Major projects tied to the military buildup include a $100 million to $150 million maintenance hangar and a $100 million to $250 million multi-lane, multipurpose machine gun range — both awarded to Black Construction — are ongoing. According to a Sept. 5 statement from Michael F.Q. San Nicolas, Guam’s delegate to Congress, the timelines for some buildup-related projects — including the firing range — have been extended due to the diversion of funds to build a wall along the southern border of the United States, but housing and family care facilities and projects already awarded have not been affected.
A new United Services Organization location was opened in a 3,200 square foot space on Andersen and held its grand opening in July. The USO includes hot food, movie rooms, wi-fi and other services for service members and their families.
Other recently completed projects include upgrades to Tarague Beach — which include new volleyball courts and the reopening of the restaurant Bamboo Willie’s — and the completion of a new gym.
Although every region has its challenges, Boswell — who prior to his assignment to Guam served as director of operations and communications for the A3/6 Headquarters Air Force Global Strike Command in Barksdale Air Force Base, La. — said the fundamentals of establishing strong relationships with partner organizations remains the same.
“It starts with knowing who your partners are and building strong relationships on both ends,” Boswell said. “In the community across Global Strike we had 11 bases and wings. We inherited great relationships to work with — not just in uniform, but also with our partners downtown — and Guam’s no exception. I was very blessed with Admiral Chatfield, Admiral Menoni and General Cox — my predecessors — to inherit a great working team. And that’s one of our goals, to always make sure that we’re being good neighbors, good stewards, and that we’re engaged in supporting our local community as well.”
Boswell said his appreciation for Guam extends into his down time as he and his family often make a point to experience Guam’s natural beauty.
“The island has so much to offer my family and I are very outdoors oriented, so we do a lot of hiking a lot of diving and a lot of hunting on island,” he said. “Also traveling and seeing the region. We love our time of Guam and we’re not couch potatoes. Most of the time we’re out and about.”
A long family heritage of military service and a love of flying brought Boswell into the Air Force and ultimately Guam, where he said he looks forward to helping guide the 36th Wing into its future on the island.
“We’re really excited about what the new year is going to hold,” Boswell said. “We’re seeing the resources, the changes and the things that are flowing just over my 18 months here and that are continuing to happen. I think Guam has an extremely bright future and I’m just honored to be a part of the relationship we have with our partners here on the island and the other countries we work and serve with every day.” mbj