New D-M commander talks pilots, missions and returning to Tucson - Tucson News Now

New D-M commander talks pilots, missions and returning to Tucson

New 355th Fighter Wing Commander, Col Scott Campbell. (Source: Tucson News Now) New 355th Fighter Wing Commander, Col Scott Campbell. (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

As a student pilot at Davis-Monthan in the late 90s, Colonel Scott Campbell never imagined he would be in charge of the 355th Fighter Wing one day.

He said Monday afternoon that he was more focused at the time on being a strong fighter pilot. Since then, Campbell's service brought him back to Tucson with a focus on operations and now he's back a third time after working at the Pentagon.

"It's been awesome to get back and see how engaged our local community is," he said. "Having that support...you can't put a price on that."

Campbell is in charge at a time when D-M has more than 600 airmen deployed and the Air Force as a whole is facing a shortage or pilots. There's no denying that the base is feeling the "pinch" from the shortage, according to Campbell.

"Everyone feels it when you've got a single airman who walks out the door on a deployment, two other airmen are left behind to do that three person job."

He said part of Davis-Monthan's mission is to train pilots and help bring those national totals back up. In the meantime, the Air Force wants bases to do less with less.

Contrary to the phrase "do more with less," it's meant to focus airmen on the essential jobs of their missions, according to Campbell.

The A-10 mission might attract the most headlines, but Campbell said his top priority is setting the strategic vision for Davis-Monthan. He said coordination with other local installations like the Air National Guard 162nd Wing will help them to maximize the air space and the resources that southern Arizona has to offer.

"I truly see it as emerging and growth vice replacement," he said. "I'm really not viewing this through the lens that, you know, the A-10 will move on. I think we're really looking at adding missions to Davis-Monthan just like the 162nd is looking at the same thing with, not just transition, but transition and expansion potentially."

Expansion could mean a variety of new missions. There's talk of F-35s, touted as the replacement to the A-10 by some. Davis-Monthan is also a finalist for the MQ-9 Reaper drone mission.

The two missions are much different in terms of size, space and resources required for them, but they're both in high demand and would be welcomed at Davis-Monthan, according to Campbell.

The MQ-9 mission is expected to be awarded sometime this winter.

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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