Team Dover welcomes back 18th Air Force commander

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Faith Schaefer
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Maj. Gen. Thad Bibb, 18th Air Force commander, returned to Dover Air Force Base over 10 years after relinquishing his command of the 9th Airlift Squadron to visit Airmen alongside Chief Master Sgt. Chris Simpson, 18th Air Force command chief, and their spouses Shannon and Trish, respectively Sept. 21-23.  

Bibb’s first base visit after assuming command of the 18th Air Force focused on learning more about Dover’s wide-ranging missions and the Airmen from both the 436th Airlift Wing and its mission partners, who make those missions possible.

He was able to see how the base has evolved since his tenure as squadron commander to become an ever-adapting mobility base for the Air Force. During his visit, he had the opportunity to tour two of Dover AFB’s newest facilities: the Tactics and Leadership Nexus and Bedrock, the base’s innovation lab.

TALN hosts a scenario-based training to enhance Airmen’s readiness and hone tactical and leadership skills in order to better face the challenges of tomorrow. TALN hosted its inaugural class on Aug. 25, and Dover Airmen from all career fields are required to participate in the program.

Dover’s new innovation lab, Bedrock, hosts a collaborative and inclusive space for tinkerers and problem-solvers and serves as a wellspring of creativity, producing the kinds of minds that the Air Force will need to win the technological wars of the future.

“It is important to remember the quote from Master Sgt. Paul G. LeBeau, who participated in the Berlin Airlift, ‘Innovation is our foundation,’” said Bibb.

Bibb was able to return to the 9th Airlift Squadron after commanding the squadron almost 10 years ago, from 2006-2009. He held a short All Call with current squadron members.

Bibb and Simpson witnessed firsthand how Team Dover continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic at the 436th Medical Group, where he saw a live demonstration of the testing process.

Afterwards, he toured a Negatively Pressurized Conex within a C-17 Globemaster III static display. The NPC is the latest isolated containment chamber and is designed to mitigate the risks of transporting patients with COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

The tour also showcased the important mission of Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations. AFMAO Airmen fulfill the nation's sacred commitment of ensuring dignity, honor and respect to the fallen and care, service and support to their families.

The 18th Air Force command team also attended a luncheon with the planners of the Pause for Race Relations, which was held Aug. 5-7. During this pause, Dover AFB hosted several different events to encourage honest and respectful conversations about race, justice and equality.

“[This] is really important for what we do every day, because we are not in the business of building Airmen; we’re in the business of building good people,” said Simpson.

Key spouses from 18th Air Force and the 436th Airlift Wing participated in the base tour, in addition to stopping at the child development center and the Airman & Family Readiness Center. These stops showed the spouses the importance of community support and Airmen well-being to mission readiness.

Bibb and Simpson concluded their visit with an All Call addressing Airmen from across Team Dover. They discussed the importance of fostering innovation and being a good wingman throughout the Air Force.

“I am excited to see all the phenomenal work that Airmen from Team Dover are doing to follow along with the Chief of Staff’s priorities to ‘accelerate or change,’” said Bibb.