With a population of more than 9,600 active duty, reserve, civilian, and contractor personnel, the Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base community has a significant economic and cultural impact on the River Region. The base’s contributions to our area — both tangible and intangible — are immeasurable. It’s a fact we’ve long known, as evidenced by the warm welcome that military members and their families receive from our leaders, residents, businesses and other organizations. In a continual joining of hands, our region’s civilian and base populations have maintained a mutually beneficial relationship that is key to the area’s stability and success.
Base personnel boost our local economy simply with their presence — Maxwell- Gunter AFB is a major player in the estimated $2.6 billion annual economic impact that the military has on the River Region, and airmen stationed at the base (and their families) donate their time and talents to multiple local events and charitable causes.
Our city and our base have always been close partners, and Montgomery remains proud to have a military institution of such stature here. In 2015, the strong support that Montgomery has consistently provided to all who live and work at Maxwell earned the city a prestigious national award, the Altus Trophy. The city has also been named “The Best Hometown in the Air Force.”
These stats illustrate the important role Maxwell-Gunter AFB and other local military units play in our community.
- $2.6 BILLION - the annual economic impact of our area’s entire military complex.
- 68,473 PEOPLE (nearly 20 percent of our population) - the number of active duty military, Reserve, National Guard, DoD civilians, military contractors, military retirees and all their family members in the greater Montgomery Metro Area.
Here’s a quick look at all the educational activity happening at Maxwell-Gunter AFB through the prestigious Air University. Air University students are Air Force (active duty, Guard, Reserve), Sister Service, federal civilians and international officers and enlisted. AU teaches both Joint and Coalition partners.
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE
- No. of Students Annually: 500 Length of Program: 10 months
AIR WAR COLLEGE
- No. of Students Annually: 245 Length of Program: 10 months
AIR FORCE SENIOR NONCOMMISSIONED OFFICER ACADEMY
- No. of Students Annually: 2,184 Length of Program: 5 weeks
of airpower in support of U.S. national security objectives.
NONCOMMISSIONED OFFICER ACADEMY
- No. of Students Annually: 588 Length of Program: 6 weeks
ENLISTED PROFESSIONAL MILITARY EDUCATION INSTRUCTOR COURSE
- No. of Students Annually: 252 Length of Program: 4 weeks
AIR FORCE FIRST SERGEANT ACADEMY
- No. of Students Annually: 616 Length of Program: 4 weeks
CHIEF MASTER SERGEANT LEADERSHIP COURSE
- No. of Students Annually: 700 Length of Program: 4 weeks
IRA C. EAKER CENTER FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
- No. of Students Annually: 2,300 Length of Program: Varies
AIR FORCE OFFICER TRAINING SCHOOL
- No. of Students Annually: 3,500 Length of Program: Varies
INTERNATIONAL OFFICER SCHOOL
- No. of Students Annually: 200 Length of Program: 7 weeks
AIR FORCE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL’S SCHOOL
- No. of Students Annually: 2,500 Length of Program: Varies
CURTIS E. LEMAY CENTER FOR DOCTRINE DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATION
- No. of Students Annually: 1,000 Length of Program: Varies
SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIR AND SPACE STUDIES
- No. of Students Annually: 100 Length of Program: 10 months
SQUADRON OFFICER SCHOOL
- No. of Students Annually: 4,200
NOTE: All numbers are approximate.
SHINING SUPPORT SYSTEM
RIVER REGION DEFENSE COUNCIL
Montgomery continually strives to strengthen the bonds between the community and the military, and the recently formed River Region Defense Council is providing a new vehicle for communication and collaboration.
The Council includes both community and military leadership and provides critical insight into understanding the different military missions within the River Region, while also exploring ways to support, sustain and grow those missions. The Council will meet twice each year, in spring and fall.
The Council’s duties are multi-purpose, but one key role will be to support our military members and their families through education and smart city/base innovation initiatives, provide spousal and family support resources and offer assistance for other joint projects of mutual benefit. The Council will produce actionable items that will be assigned and pursued between meetings, and progress reports on action items will be presented at future meetings.
THE FACES OF OUR BASE
Meet just a handful of the families making a home here – even if only for a short time – thanks to their studies and work at Air University.
When did you come to Montgomery? We first visited Montgomery in February of this year in search for a house and school. After that, Remco arrived in Montgomery on May 26, and I followed with the kids on June 21. We travelled separately because Kate was born only four weeks before Remco had to report at Maxwell AFB.
Where did you come here from? We come from the Netherlands, more specifically from the city of Tilburg in the southern part of the Netherlands.
What program/school is Remco a part of at Maxwell AFB? Remco is participating in the Air Command and Staff College (ACSC), after he joined the International Officers School.
How long will you be here? One year
Where in Montgomery do you live? In Sturbridge.
What is your impression of Montgomery? There is a lot to do (more than we expected up front), and we feel that the people of Montgomery are used to having internationals living between them, and they are able to make us feel welcome. We are really surprised with what Alabama has to offer; it is a really beautiful state and offers a lot for children as well.
How are y’all connecting with the community? Maxwell AFB runs the International Family Orientation Program (IFOP), which offers great opportunities to connect with the community. They also offer a sponsor program, where a local family “sponsors” an international family. We chose not to participate in the sponsor-program, because we are used to making new connections ourselves. In addition, the U.S. students of ACSC and their spouses also contribute to connecting us with the community. What struck us the most is that everybody is very friendly and willing to make a (small) conversation with us. That is different from the experience we have in our own country.
What are some of y’all’s favorite places in Montgomery? Number one: the Biscuits! It is a great place to go with the whole family; our kids love it, especially when the fireworks go of at the end of some of the games. Also, some great places we love to go with our kids are SweetCreek Farm and Tipping Point. For Remco, as an airman, the Aviator bar in the Alley is a great place to visit. We also like to go Lake Martin. Maxwell AFB has a great recreation area at Lake Martin.
Do you feel that Montgomery and its residents value the airmen at Maxwell? Absolutely! As already mentioned before, all Montgomery residents make us feel welcome and appreciated. People are always willing to help, to make a conversation and tell us they appreciate Remco’s service.
What is the next step for your family? We will continue to enjoy our life in Montgomery and appreciate the opportunity being offered to us to live here. We don’t know Remco’s next assignment yet, but it most probably will be at one of the airbases in the Netherlands. Of course we are looking forward to seeing our family and friends in The Netherlands again, but it is safe to say that we will miss our Sweet Home Alabama.
When did you come to Montgomery? June 2018. We moved from San Antonio, Texas.
What program/school are you and Lorie parts of at Maxwell AFB? My wife is an Air University fellow who taught this past year at Squadron Officer School and is currently going to Intermediate Developmental Education at Air Command and Staff College. I spent the last year teaching at Squadron Officer School and am now the Director of Staff at Squadron Officer School.
Are there challenges with both parents being active duty? On a daily basis, we ensure our schedules are coordinated in a way that support one another
to the max extent possible, and bottom line, we put the kids first. We make a really cohesive team. When one of us has to stay late or after hours for work, the other flexes to ensure we cover down on all of the family responsibilities. At times it can be challenging, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We also have other military friends and family who are always there to support and help when they can.
How long will you be here? We will be here for one more year and expect to move in 2020.
What is your impression of Montgomery? We love Montgomery and the River Region. Living in Pike Road gives us a small town feel but is still close to all the restaurants, shopping and sights. Montgomery’s rich history and community activities have made it a place we love.
What are some of y’all’s favorite places in Montgomery? Our kids love to go to the Zoo, fish local areas, and going to Biscuits games. Favorite restaurants include La Jolla, Central, Filet and Vine, D’Road Cafe and any Korean place.
Do you feel that Montgomery and its residents value the airmen at Maxwell? Absolutely! The people of Montgomery and the River Region make us feel welcome and part of their family. We see it in military appreciation events, especially at Biscuits games. We also love the military programs at the schools.
When did you come to Montgomery? We came to Prattville in July 2019. We also lived at Maxwell AFB from July 2013 to June 2014.
Where did you come here from? We came here from Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts (near Bedford).
What program/school is Chris a part of at Maxwell AFB? Chris is attending Air War College.
How long will you be here? Only one year is guaranteed, but we would like to be here a second year.
What is your impression of Montgomery and the area? We like the River Region. Montgomery has grown since we were here last, yet the downtown area seems to still have the small town feel based on the architecture and events. We find it very welcoming! The city is rebuilding, yet ensuring the important history of the town is maintained.
What are some of y’all’s favorite places in the area? Breakfast/brunch at First Watch is one of our favorites. We’ve gone to some of the farmers markets and explored downtown Prattville. We have started showing our boys some of downtown Montgomery and plan to do more in the fall when it cools down. We all had a great time at the Tipping Point a few weeks ago with Chris’ classmates and their families.
Do you feel that Montgomery and its residents value the airmen at Maxwell? Yes. I think we see it most through the businesses in Montgomery. Several businesses and services took time out of their day to come to the Air War College Spouse’s Orientation back in late-July, which was extremely informative. One of the bakeries brought samples and we enjoyed them so much, we had them bake our youngest son’s birthday cake.
What is the next step for your family? We don’t know where our next adventure will be, but we will be sad to leave the River Region again.
When did you come to Montgomery? July 2019
Where did you come here from? We moved here from Dover, Delaware, as we were stationed at Dover AFB.
What program/school is Peter a part of at Maxwell AFB? He is a part of the Academic Year 2020 Air Command and Staff College class.
How long will you be here? We’re currently expecting to live in Montgomery until the ACSC graduation next spring; however, we could potentially be here for two years.
Where in Montgomery do you live? Deer Creek
What is your impression of Montgomery? Our family has really enjoyed our time in Montgomery so far. Between going to Biscuits games, attending Jurrasic Quest at the convention center, touring the Alabama Department of Archives and the local area we have kept ourselves busy. My husband is from Daphne, Alabama, so he has been very eager to show us as much of the great State of Alabama as possible.
How are you connecting with the community? We share a strong connection with the community through our children’s respective schools, our church, Maxwell AFB activities and groups and with our fellow Deer Creek neighbors. It has kept us busy, and more importantly, integrated us tightly into the community.
Do you feel that Montgomery and its residents value the airmen at Maxwell? Alabamians have a very obvious appreciation for the military, and the Maxwell AFB connection to the community is very strong. It has been a major reason our family has experienced such a seamless integration into the Montgomery community.
What is the next step for your family? As anyone serving in the military knows, what happens next is up to the military. We’re expecting to receive notification in the next few months and are excited about finding out!
Each November, the Chamber and the entire River Region express gratitude for the military in our midst with a long list of special discounts during Military Appreciation Week. Visit
www.montgomerychamber.com/militaryappreciation to see the great lineup for 2019 and ﬁnd ways to say thanks and show your support.
HAPPENING IN MGM – F-35 UPDATE
Montgomery’s historic 187th Fighter Wing of Alabama’s Air National Guard, known as The Red Tails, will soon be home to a squadron of 22 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets. The announcement was made in December 2017, and the jets are set to arrive in December 2023. Here’s an update on what’s happened so far and what will be happening in the coming years from Lt. Col. Kevin Pugh, the 187th’s F-35 Unit Conversion Office Director.
The Montgomery unit is currently in the process of finishing the designs on multiple base facilities, which will result in approximately $100-plus million in building renovations and construction projects. The construction for the first of these projects will begin in October 2020, with all projects scheduled for completion by July 2023.
These projects include new and updated maintenance, logistics and operational facilities that will support the world’s most advanced stealth fighter. One of these new buildings will serve as home to four F-35 simulators, where pilots will train inside a 360-degree domed simulator, which accurately replicates the jet’s cutting-edge technology.
Once base facilities are complete, the Air Force will begin delivery of more than $2 billion in aircraft and support equipment to Dannelly Field. The ﬁrst Alabama ANG F-35 is scheduled to arrive in December 2023, and the ﬁnal aircraft will arrive sometime in late 2024.
While the base undergoes its multiyear, multimillion-dollar refresh, a group of approximately 50 maintainers, logisticians and pilots will head off to other F-35 units around the country to train to become Alabama’s initial cadre of instructors. Depending on their current career specialty and experience level, these volunteers will spend between one and three years at bases such as Eglin AFB, Florida, and Hill AFB, Utah, where they will maintain and fly the F-35. The unit’s first F-35 volunteer, Captain “Lefty” Smith, took to the skies over Florida this summer in an Eglin AFB F-35.
Throughout the Red Tail’s F-35 conversion, the 187th Fighter Wing will continue to execute its current F-16 mission to deliver combat-ready Airmen and aircraft for rapid deployment anytime, anywhere.