So many of us drive past Dobbins Air Reserve Base on Cobb Parkway on a regular basis without a second thought. It’s easy to pass by and not realize the robust missions behind its gates.
In case you need a refresher, Dobbins is home to the 94th Airlift Wing, the 22nd Air Force Headquarters, the Georgia National Guard Headquarters, Navy Operational Support Center Atlanta, units of the Army Reserve, Marine Reserve, Civil Air Patrol and other civilian partners, including Lockheed Martin and the Georgia Tech Research Institute. Dobbins has more than 5,000 assigned military members, including all branches of the military. Dobbins is also the servicing installation for more than 400,000 eligible beneficiaries in the greater Atlanta region, including retirees from all services.
Dobbins, it’s next door neighbor, Lockheed Martin, and GTRI have a $5.1 billion collective economic impact on Cobb County and Georgia. This is due to the jobs they create, the investments in our community and the jobs that are created by the suppliers and their employees spending money in our community.
Dobbins is also the center for disaster recovery efforts for the entire Southeast, including the Caribbean. It is a vital piece to our public health infrastructure as it connects our public health infrastructure at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with our military support operations across the globe.
At a recent meeting, Major General Thomas Carden, Adjutant General of the Georgia Department of Defense shared some interesting insights into how the Georgia National Guard is engaged here and abroad. Currently there's 266 soldiers supporting customs and border protection at the Southwest border. The Georgia National Guard has soldiers and airmen deployed around the world at all six geographic combatant commands, including 146 soldiers in South Korea and throughout the Middle East. In addition, more than 600 soldiers participated in training exercises at the U.S. Africa Command, and 355 service members were deployed to Louisiana to assist them in the recovery of Hurricane Ida. This is just a small window into the missions of just one of Dobbins’ tenants. The 94th Airlift Wing played a role in the Afghanistan evacuation, transporting men, women and children to different areas of Europe and the U.S.
Last month, Dobbins welcomed a new commander, Col. Carl Magnusson. In this role, Col. Magnusson leads the 94th Airlift Wing, which includes nearly 2,000 personnel, and he has command responsibility for the entire base installation. Each of these items add up to show just how important Dobbins is to our county, the state and our great nation.
For many years, the Cobb Chamber has worked with Cobb County Government and all of our community and economic development partners to help protect and support Dobbins. As a means of advancing this mission, the Chamber has created “Team Dobbins,” which is a taskforce of partners who come together multiple times a year to educate and advocate on policies and programs that help reinforce our community’s support of our military. Dobbins is a prized military asset, and it takes a village of supporters to bolster its missions and create a robust relationship between our military and business communities.
During the state’s legislative session, the Chamber advocates on behalf of Dobbins, our military community, and veterans in various ways. Our main objectives for the base are:
• Ensuring that the missions and resources both on and connected with Dobbins ARB are valued and secured to remain at Dobbins. We would also like to explore the opportunity to grow missions, as well as Federal and State resources at Dobbins ARB.
• Encouraging the governor, state and county leaders and the Georgia Joint Defense Commission to continue to provide the necessary support for Georgia bases and communities, and to take the necessary steps to prepare for any potential threats to the state’s bases and place Georgia in a position to be a net gainer of missions.
• Supporting the further study of the exemption of military retirement income from state income tax. This would bring Georgia Tax Policy with regard to military retirement income in line with several of our border states and make Georgia a more competitive place for military retirees to locate.
On top of our advocacy efforts, the Chamber honors Cobb’s military community each November with the ARMAC Military Appreciation Luncheon. This long-held tradition and celebration in Cobb County takes place on November. 4 at the Cobb Galleria Centre. This annual gathering welcomes business professional and military personnel, to come together to recognize the daily work and sacrifices of men and women in uniform. This year is our 69th annual celebration, and Jesse Salazar, deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy, is the keynote speaker. One of the traditions of this luncheon is seating local companies with military personnel – this is how connections are made. The small act of gathering together and sitting together bridges the gap many retired military personnel and veterans face when entering the traditional workforce. If you are interested in showing your support, attending this luncheon is an easy way to make a difference. Tickets are available through www.cobbchamber.org/events.
As we enter the giving season, let’s remember how Dobbins gives so much to our community. If you encounter a service member while you’re out and about, say, “Thank you!” Even better, pay it forward by treating them to a free meal, groceries or a tank of gas. If you or your business would like to join our team in supporting Dobbins, we have a seat at the table for you.