Installation Management Division: The trifecta of mission support

  • Published
  • By Brian Dietrick
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – It can be argued that the 88th Civil Engineer Group’s Installation Management Division provides for and protects Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s most valuable assets. The flights within 88 CEI ensure our Airmen, our land and every asset and piece of infrastructure has what it needs to thrive.

“I affectionately refer to CEI as the multifaceted drawer that most people have in their kitchen,” said Jacqueline Melcher, 88 CEI director. “We are comprised of several assets and essential tools for the effective operation of CEG to meet the mission needs of 88 ABW and WPAFB.” 

The 88 CEI has an end strength of 69 personnel, to include 66 civilians and three active duty military. The three branches within 88 CEI are Environmental, Housing and Asset Accountability. Commonly referred to as “the trifecta” within the civil engineering community, they are responsible for maintaining real and natural property records, implementing environmental safeguards, maintaining the 88 Civil Engineer Group information technology capabilities and overseeing military family housing, privatized housing and dormitories. They also manage the resources and budgeting for current and future projects.

“I am impressed each and every day by what this amazing team can do,” Melcher said. “If any unit on Wright-Patt exemplifies people, mission, and base; it’s the 88th CEI.”

Our most important asset… our Airmen

The Housing branch within 88 CEI provides our Airmen with an everyday need that is essential to live… shelter. They ensure our accompanied and unaccompanied Airmen, regardless of rank or unit, have access to affordable, quality housing and all the services that come with it.

“Taking care of our Airmen’s housing needs and ensuring that all maintenance is properly taken care of, alleviates unneeded stress on military families, especially if the member is deployed,” said Juan Salazar, 88 CEI Housing branch chief. “Even in the dorms, that is their little piece of home so we make sure they’re comfortable and all needs are being met.”

They are responsible for 499 rooms spread across six dormitories where young, single Airmen live. Oftentimes, the Airmen dorm leaders are the first people new Airmen meet when they arrive to base for the first time.

Master Sgt. Nathaniel Saujon, 88 CEI unaccompanied housing superintendent, is joined by two Airmen dorm leaders, Tech Sgt. Courtnie Wolf and Tech. Sgt. John Clark. Together, they ensure the Airmen have everything they need.

“We make sure the dorms are good and there's no health and safety issues with anything inside the room,” said Clark. “We also facilitate moves in and out of the dorms. The most important part is that the Airmen are situated, have somewhere to stay and that they’re comfortable with the facilities.”

The ADLs mentioned they spend a good amount of time with the uniformed residents of the dorms so they are able to connect with them and provide guidance when they might be too afraid or nervous to bring it to the attention of their leadership.

“There’s a mentorship piece to our job that I love,” Wolf said. “Anytime a resident has an issue, whether it’s something with the dorms or a personal issue, they can come and talk to us and we can try to help guide and give them the tools that they may not know are available to them.”

Along with the dorms, there are also more than 1,500 off-base privatized units and 100 government-owned, on-base units known as the Brick Quarters. Although many of the housing units have been privatized, the 88 CEI is responsible for inspecting pre-repair work, post-repair work, and maintaining all water, electric, and sewer lines up to those buildings. Needless to say, there are plenty of spaces to keep the 11-person Housing team busy providing quality service to our most valuable customers.

Housing’s vital mission helps ensure that every Airman is ready to deploy and conquer any challenge that our nation might face.

Stewards of the environment

The Environmental branch of 88 CEI provides environmental oversight and ensures all environmental regulations are being met on the largest operating Air Force base in the U.S. They facilitate the compliance, conservation and pollution prevention programs and conduct environmental assessments across the 8,145 acres the installation resides on.

“We enhance mission sustainability through environmental excellence,” said Raymond Baker, 88 CEI Environmental branch chief. “We manage all of our programs to protect, restore and enhance the land, air and water for the protection of the public’s health and the environment.”

Environmental accomplishes their mission by successfully operating various programs. Some of them include recycling and waste management, hazardous materials, storage tanks, water and air quality, natural and cultural resources, and Air Force Radioactive Recycling and Disposal.

“The AFRRAD program is unique to Wright-Patterson and the Air Force,” Baker said. “We have the sole responsibility for low-level radioactive waste and low-level mixed waste disposal for the Air Force and provide low-level radioactive material recycling services for the Department of Defense. The team goes TDY about 100 days a year to different installations to collect or manage radioactive material before it is shipped for disposal or recycling.”

In 2022, Wright-Patt’s AFRRAD team won the Secretary of Defense Environmental Award winner in the Environmental Quality Individual/Team category. The award recognizes the efforts to ensure mission accomplishment and protection of human health and the environment in the areas of environmental planning, waste management and compliance. The AFRRAD team supports a mission set that impacts the Air Force and a broader DoD customer base, which is friendly to the federal government’s wallet.

Controlled burns, a function of the Natural Resources program and winner of the 2021 General Thomas D. White Natural Resources award, stimulates Wright-Patt’s unique ecosystem and home to 12 federal and state threatened and endangered species on the base.

“Fire is a natural management tool that releases essential nutrients back into the soil, reduces the thatch layer and aids in reducing the fuel load which aids in controlling wildland fires,” said Darryn Warner, 88 CEI Natural Resources program manager. “Several rare species of plants and animals call Wright-Patt home and as land managers, we rely on several different management methods to enhance the habitat these species utilize.”

Warner said the controlled burns promote good, native grass to keep the prairie in its original state. He said without the burns, the area would be overgrown by woody vegetation and the grass that makes the prairie would be pushed out.

“Burning the prairie stimulates the growth of original and native prairie species as well as eradicates the invasive species,” Warner said.

The foundation of everything

The Asset Accountability branch completes the trifecta that is the 88th Installation Management Division. The four sections within the branch include real property, resources, force management and NexGen/information technology.

“We garner all the resources needed to execute the CEI mission,” said Randy Parmenter, 88 CEI Asset Accountability branch chief. “If there’s no money, there’s no people and no way to get the job done.”

One of the focal points with this branch is the Real Property function. Real Property accounts for nearly everything above, on and below the land that Wright-Patterson Air Force Base sits on. It includes land, buildings, structures, underground utilities systems and equipment attached to and made part of buildings, such as heating systems. Movable items such as furniture and computer systems are not considered Real Property.

“Our Real Property function informs the annual budget and it’s based on the replacement value of the installation,” Parmenter said. “We maintain a 100% accurate inventory of land, buildings and infrastructure which determines the amount of money we get the following year.”

All that information gets kept in a large digital database called NexGen. More than 2,500 items in that database must be physically inventoried each year. The recorded existence for every item on that list resides in that database from the moment it’s acquired to the date it’s out of operation.

Real Property also determines the total value of the installation. There is a strict calculation that’s called plant replacement value. What would it cost to rebuild Wright-Patterson if it disappeared today?

“Our accurate records reflect the amount of money we get budgeted to us each year,” Parmenter said. “Without a proper plant replacement value and accurate plant replacement value, we get shorted on dollars for resources. We are the foundation of everything.”

The Resources section of Asset Accountability executes the 88 CEG budget, valued at about $110 million annually, while the Manpower and Personnel Section provides human resources support to more than 650 CEG personnel. Behind the scenes, the IT section manages a myriad of tech-enabling devices, including a separate facility control system network reaching over 600 base facilities.

The 88th Installation Management Division has a hand in everything that happens on Wright-Patt. It epitomizes the 88th Air Base Wing mission of delivering war-winning capabilities through agile installation and mission support. The division dominates the dirty work to maximize the amount of time and resources it has to prevent and win the nation’s future fights.