CUMBERLAND — Two leaders from Dobbins Air Reserve Base addressed the pandemic, military operations and national defense, while crediting the Cobb community for its continued support during the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s first Marquee Monday event of 2022.

Maj. Gen. Tom Grabowski of the Georgia National Guard and Maj. Gen. Bret Larson, the commander of the 22nd Air Force, reviewed for the crowd gathered at the Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre the military missions on and off base over the last three years.

Dobbins Air Reserve Base is one of nine standalone reserve bases in the Air Force Reserve. The installation is home to the 94th Airlift Wing, 22nd Air Force headquarters, Lockheed Martin Plant 6, the Georgia National Guard, Navy Operational Support Center Atlanta and units of the Army Reserve, Marine Reserve and Civil Air Patrol. The 94th Airlift Wing is the installation host and operational flying unit with eight C-130H3 Hercules aircraft, and more than 2,000 Air Force Reserve and civilian personnel, according to the base’s website.

“The bottom line for the taxpayer, you guys, is the National Guard provides a cost effective part-time combat ready strategic reserve to defend the nation ... (and) provide support to domestic operations,” Grabowski said.

Some of those operations over the last few years include aiding Georgian Defense Forces in the country of Georgia, transporting supplies in and out of food banks at the height of the pandemic, surveillance of Russian forces along the Ukraine border, defending the U.S. border and many more initiatives, Grabowski said.

“We rapidly mobilized and deployed help in hospitals, nursing homes with infection control teams, COVID testing sites … We even converted one of our parachute operations to make masks, and we delivered around a million meals to schoolchildren,” he said.

Despite facing the pandemic and keeping the peace at protests around the country in the summer of 2020, the Georgia National Guard still had several deployments to the Middle East, Georgia, Morocco, South Korea, Brazil and Argentina, Grabowski said.

“During that same period, COVID did not relieve us from our responsibility to protect our way of life,” he said.

Service members on the base have contributed significantly locally and around the world, Grabowski said, but not without the support of Cobb County.

“These organizations coupled with the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and programs you facilitate, like the Honorary Commanders Program and Commanders Alumni Association, are what makes Team Dobbins and this relationship special,” he said. “The entire enterprise here is really a best-in-class example of what a public, academic, private and military partnership ought to look like. You continue to answer when called upon, you are the gold standard for a community and base partnership and yes, I’m a little biased, but I’m not sorry to say so.”

Now, the National Guard is preparing to mobilize again for the omicron surge, Grabowski said.

”Your Air National Guard is community connected but globally engaged and we’ve been busy and we will continue to be busy,” he said.

Grabowski closed his speech, stating he couldn’t be more proud of the men and women in the National Guard, their employers, their families, Dobbins and everything the chamber does to support them.

“I’m often asked if the Guard is overextended or tired,” he said. “My answer is a resounding, ‘No.’ Our soldiers and airmen are fired up and ready to get after any and all missions. If you get a chance to hire one of our people, I promise you won’t be disappointed.”

Maj. Gen. Larson, who oversees the 22nd Air Force at Dobbins, continued Grabowski’s sentiments of crediting Cobb County, the community and the chamber for their continued support and success. Larson said he is responsible for 12,000 airmen that report to him through the chain of command.

The 22nd Air Force has command supervision of the Air Force Reserve’s tactical air mobility operations and other vital missions to include distinguished visitor airlift, undergraduate pilot training, flight test operations and a highly mobile civil engineering response force.

“Our job was to be ready, but only when the Air Force and our country really, really needs us,” Larson said. “Up until about 20 years ago, that was our job, but we were a reserve force … since the War on Terror, we have become an operational force … and have been for the past 20 years. We’re constantly on the go.”

The Air Force Reserve provides 20% of the Air Force’s capability for national defense for 3% of the budget, Larson said.

“That is a huge value proposition for what we have to offer our nation ...” he said. “These are your neighbors, these are your firefighters and teachers. These are the people serving you coffee and running businesses in your communities. About 80% of our force is part-time and their full-time jobs are civilian jobs outside the base.”

Larson echoed his colleague’s earlier comments by thanking the chamber for committing to the 22nd Air Force’s future with programs such as the Honorary Commanders Association, an initiative that annually selects community and business leaders and pairs them with military commanders in a year-long educational program.

“I have lived on 15 different air bases,” he said. “I’ve seen the support I have and haven’t gotten, that we get at Dobbins Air Base, and I truly want to thank you for that, what you do for the 94th Air Force Wing, the 22nd Air Force and all the men and women in and out of the Air Force.”

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