• Published
  • By Col. Rod Gillis
  • 71st Flying Training Wing vice commander
The Straight Scoop action line is your direct link to Col. Richard Klumpp, Jr., 71st Flying Training Wing commander, and Col. Rod Gillis, 71 FTW vice commander, for comments or suggestions to improve Vance Air Force Base.
Although the Straight Scoop is available, you should always try to resolve problems at the lowest level possible, then follow the chain of command.
The Straight Scoop action line phone number is 213-7777, or e-mail
People requesting a personal response should leave a name and phone number. Messages that appear in the Scoop are without names.

Issue: I have been on this base for 31 years, both in service and as a civilian. I have to say I have never been ashamed of this base's appearance as I have this year. The grass is left for two weeks at a time not mowed, bushes are not trimmed and trees with dead branches are not cared for. I know our mission is first and foremost, but what are we telling visitors when they see such an ugly exterior? I am so glad that my family visited in better, beautiful times. I know that money is tight but this is so ridiculous!

Response: Thank you for your input! Let me address the realities of the environment we are operating in this year and the issues we face. The first issue is the unusual extremes of weather we have experienced. I salute our CSC contractor for the heroic efforts they have put forth to maintain our grounds in very trying circumstances. Mother Nature has provided an abundance of rain in 2007. Between May 1 and July 17, we received 29.47 inches of rain, which is 245 percent above average. Over the past few weeks we have put in over 300 hours of overtime on weekends and days when it was dry enough to mow without damaging the turf. The base trees have been stressed in the past few years because of the extreme weather patterns. Last summer's drought caused significant problems such as insect infestation and disease. In June we had the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry inspect our trees to determine which trees need to be removed and which trees were treatable. We are in the process of removing and treating the affected trees.

The second issue is funding. We received an $81,000 reduction in our grounds maintenance budget, which means the grass may not be cut as often as it has been in the past. Vance AFB, and bases throughout the Department of Defense, are being asked to tighten belts to support the Global War on Terrorism. The decision was made, correctly I might add, to cut where we can to ensure the men and women fighting the forces of evil have the funds and equipment they need. Team Vance currently has 31 members deployed to dangerous regions around the world. The sacrifices we are making are small. The fight today is for the survival of our nation and way of life, and we must ensure our great patriots defending us in hostile conditions are properly equipped.