The vice commander of an air wing that supports the U.S. Air Force Academy will be the next base commander at Wright-Patterson, Ohio’s largest single-site employer, officials said.
Col. Bradley W. McDonald will take over the top post of the 88th Air Base Wing in June, replacing Col. John M. Devillier, who will complete a two-year tour of duty at the base, which hasa workforce of more than 27,000 military personnel and civilian employees.
For McDonald, a 43-year-old Idaho native, it’s a homecoming of sorts. His wife gave birth to the couple’s first-born son 18 years ago at Wright-Patterson Medical Center and he earned a master’s degree in cost analysis at the Air Force Institute of Technology, he said.
“We just can’t wait to come back and be a part of that team again even through it’s been a while since we were stationed there,” he said Thursday.
Devillier, 45, will head to the Pentagon to become the special assistant to the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for general officer matters, using his background as a human resources officer to help handle the selection of general and admirals to top military posts.
A change of command ceremony at Wright-Patterson is scheduled June 21.
In an exclusive interview Thursday, McDonald said in a telephone conversation from Colorado he wants to build on partnerships both on and off the sprawling military base that has a more than $4 billion economic impact in southwest Ohio.
He also said he will meet with wing personnel “to get a good sense of what’s going on on the ground.” The unit provides a variety of support services to other commands.
In an era of budget uncertainty fueled by sequestration-imposed automatic cuts, McDonald said he would watch spending “to make sure every dollar counts.”
“As I have an opportunity to to meet with the team, that’s certainly the way we’re going to look at things (to) make sure that we stretch what we have available to once again accomplish those main goals of providing excellent installation support and also working with our partners on the base and in the community,” he said.
Devillier said a big issue he faced at Wright-Patterson was dealing with the budget. He cited it earlier this year as one reason the popular Freedom’s Call Tattoo celebration in June was canceled. Related: Report recommends ways for Ohio to hold onto federal funds
“We’re clearly not funded to the levels that we’d like to be in order to sustain our facilities,” he said. “That’s a challenge every wing commander faces. It’s going to be a reoccurring theme as long as sequestration is a potential.”
Devillier cited a patient-sharing agreement under the Buckeye Federal Healthcare Consortium between the base medical center and the VA, a training partnership with Sinclair Community College, and the opening this year of a first-ever USO Center at Wright-Patterson as accomplishments during his tenure.
He advised his successor to delegate authority, but not responsibility, in the high-profile commander’s post.
“First of all, he needs to trust those around him,” Devillier said. “This is a big job. You can’t do it all yourself.”
McDonald, an Air Force Academy graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, has had a variety of financial, budget and cost analysis jobs in his more than 20-year career.
The Iraq veteran also was a speech writer for the top Air Force general in the Pacific Air Forces, an Air Force congressional liaison in Washington, D.C., and chief of the financial division of the Air Force Space Command.
At the 10th Air Base Wing at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., McDonald oversaw 3,000 military and civilian employees and a $150 million budget.
The 88th Air Base Wing has more than 5,000 military and civilian employees.