PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- With a snip of the ceremonial scissors, Air Force Reserve and active duty Airmen ushered in the opening of a new total force C-130 Hercules operations facility July 17 at Peterson Air Force Base.
The new $5.6 million facility is the next milestone in the 302nd Airlift Wing's integration with the active duty 52nd Airlift Squadron.
The 12,500-square-foot building will house both the 52nd AS and the Air Force Reserve's 731st Airlift Squadron under one roof. The two squadrons, as well as C-130 aircraft maintenance, merged under the Air Force's Total Force Integration program.
Known as 'TFI,' the integration allows active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve organizations to make more efficient use of facilities, personnel and aircraft. For the 52nd AS and 302nd AW, that means performing both training and real-world airlift and airdrop missions together as well as matching maintenance personnel to maintain the wing's 12 tactical airlift aircraft.
Officiating the historic moment, leaders from both the Air Force Reserve and Air Mobility Command took center stage to cut the red ribbon. Grasping the scissors, Col. Jay Pittman, the 302nd AW commander here, and Col. Brian Robinson, the 19th AW commander from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., sliced through the ribbon, marking the official opening of the facility.
Just before the ribbon cutting, Pittman stood in front of the audience, highlighting the significance of the day's event.
"We've been waiting over a year for this building to be finished. It's been worth the wait and this is a fabulous facility," Pittman said. "I love talking about this TFI; I believe in it and I'm passionate about it.
"From day one, the 52nd AS pulled together, and since then we've been through combat together and we've been inspected together," he said. "This building is really going to be the icing on the cake. It's the last piece we need to look like a long-term, professional organization. We used to call this (area) the Reserve campus; this is now the TFI campus."
Pittman pointed out some of the highlights of the new facility, including a 200-seat auditorium, which he said was necessary for the many organizations looking for adequate space on Peterson Air Force Base. The colonel said he was also excited to see continued improvements in the area, with a newly-landscaped courtyard, lighting and a partially-covered area.
"This campus is going to be the showcase of the Air Force Reserve Command and the TFI community at large," he said.
Mirroring the active duty relationship with their Air Force Reserve counterparts here, Robinson also spoke highly of the TFI partnership.
"I can tell you that Colonel Pittman has the same amount of enthusiasm about this project that he had over our very first phone call," Robinson said. "I just want to say thanks to all the organizations out here that have taken care of the 52nd AS. You know, I don't worry about this unit at all. Everyone here is committed to success and they're doing it right."
The 52nd AS, which first activated in October 2009, has seen its share of combat deployments. The squadron has deployed several times, supporting tactical airlift and airdrop operations throughout Southwest Asia. The squadron achieved full operational capability in late 2011 as its end strength reached approximately 200 Airmen.