Commander, 162nd Wing Morris Air National Guard Base
In what ways has your organization had to “pivot” as the short-term impacts of the pandemic took hold?
This pandemic caught us a bit off guard like the rest of the nation. Fortunately, our airmen are quite resilient and highly trainable, so we learned how to fight to this disease like any other opposing force. We carried two teams from April through August with maximum telework where applicable and working separate 14-day shifts in order to naturally segregate and prevent spread. We also established 100% medical screening early in the pandemic. In Arizona, our leader of the National Guard (Maj. Gen Michael McGuire) is a “Super TAG,” which means he also leads DEMA (Department of Emergency and Military Affairs). As such, he is responsible to the citizens of Arizona in community, state and federal capacities. McGuire’s proactive approach provided real-time information and a smart way forward in aligning with current policy and accelerated our learning how to combat this disease. Since September, we have transitioned back to our full-time force, still maximizing telework and have been able to continue mission. We have learned a lot with respect to this pandemic and have active measures in place to test and quickly contact trace when needed. This has prevented this disease from stopping our ability to execute mission. I’m proud of our citizen airmen and their resolve to prevail during this pandemic.
What trends are you experiencing in your own industry, across the U.S. and globally, related to expected long-term impacts of the pandemic?
The U.S. military tends to thrive in crisis. There are definite impacts in the way of training delays enterprise-wide, and a steep virtual learning curve, but overall I would say the military has continued to execute mission in a fairly robust manner. We are still deploying on time and meeting requirements. Much of this is due to the targeted nature of this particular virus. Our airmen do not typically experience heavy symptoms if infected.
From your business vantage point, what qualities put the Tucson region in a position to recover quicker economically and more effectively than other regions?
We have the right climate to inhibit this disease, for one. The military footprint here is also a strong point with Davis-Monthan and Morris installations bringing the city of Tucson usable revenue as well as patriotism in the local community. Beyond that, people love living and working in Tucson. All you have to do is step outside anytime from October to May.
What are some of the attributes of Tucson that you personally enjoy?
What’s not to like? Tucson is a great place to raise a family and I have seven kids. It’s also a fun college town with a downtown that will rival anything this nation has to offer. My family and I also enjoy anything outdoors and Tucson offers the world in outdoor climate enjoyment.