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General addresses civilians on community base relations, Airmen education

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- Brig. Gen. Kip Self, 314th Airlift Wing commander, reaffirmed the necessity of a positive community partnership while addressing 50 members of the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce Nov. 2 while addressing base operations and education.

"We need to keep proactive community support like that which you show," he said. "You know the value of freedom and the value of our Little Rock mission."

The general also stated that like Airmen, he's seen community partners step up and serve the nation, state and base too.

"Service applies to everyone; you are so dedicated to our Airmen," the general said as he thanked the civilians for donating time and resources from events like Hurricane Katrina relief efforts on base to sponsoring events for the Airpower Arkansas 2006 airshow.

The general also explained some of the challenges ahead the Air Force must make in order to take care of Airmen.

"We have some of the oldest and newest airlift aircraft in the Air Force inventory," he said. "And in order to take care of our Airmen, we need to leverage technology, streamline processes and retire legacy aircraft in order to continue to make the Air Force viable in the 21st century."

"We're reducing people and leveraging technology; we're bringing on aircraft with 40 percent fewer aircrew and using simulators more than actually flying," he said noting that the older C-130Es use 5 aircrew and the newer C-130Js use only three.

However, he also stated Airmen shouldn't lose focus on enhancing education.

"We're enhancing the education of our Airmen; the Joint Education Center is on track," the general said referring to the $15 million facility slated to be built at the corner of Highway 67/167 and Vandenberg ave. $5 million was donated by the city of Jacksonville. The facility will be used for military and civilian higher education.

Education of Air Force children at Arnold Elementary is also a priority with the general.

"The school, built in 1968, is unsatisfactory," he said. "Our base keeps leading the way in every manner, from mission and appearance, to Air Force individual and unit awards, however, the school is out of date. We're exploring the possibility of a new school outside the wire for civilian and military children that's beneficial to all."