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New commander has plans for Nellis AFB's future | News

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New commander has plans for Nellis AFB's future

LAS VEGAS -- A new commander has taken the reigns of one of the most important military installations in the country.

Colonel Richard Boutwell spent his first month settling into his new position at Nellis Air Force Base. Col. Boutwell says he has wasted no time in taking a hard look at areas where Nellis can improve.

One of the biggest challenges he faces is the smallest department of defense budget since before World War II.

Fighter pilots fly in formation. Col. Boutwell knows from experience the teamwork gives them strength.

“It's funny when you are doing the combat patrols it can be boring and monotonous, followed by a few seconds of panic,” Boutwell said.

In 1994, Iraqi MiG's tried to shoot down a U.S. spy plane. Boutwell and another pilot rushed to defend. A team of two F-15's has never been defeated in battle. The enemy made a hasty getaway.

“For those few moments to going on the ground to air born in seven minutes, to chasing MiG 25's, it was a thrilling time for a young lieutenant,” Boutwell said.

Boutwell has been to Nellis Air Force Base before for Red Flag training and then as a Thunderbird.

Now as commander his thoughts are out of the clouds and on the concrete realities of a shrinking budget.

“We need to be fiscally responsible and make every dollar count,” Boutwell said.

He says public and private partnerships are more important for Nellis than ever.

Recent examples include projects include the building of the Wounded Warrior accessible gym on base and the construction of another solar field, which could make the base energy independent.

Boutwell says under his watch, he would like to see a charter middle school on base.

“That has always been a concern for our families moving to Nellis Air Force Base and that is consistent with our promotion of education and continuing education,” Boutwell said.

Boutwell says in the air, on the ground, and even when balancing the books, the Air Force relies on its greatest weapon.

“As with most things in the Air Force you don't do them alone, you do them with a team, you do them with mission partners, you do them with someone who can enhance your capability,” Boutwell said.

He says teamwork will be the key.

Col. Boutwell says as a former Thunderbird he is especially excited for Aviation Nation to come back in November.

He says he's also looking into more transition programs to help airmen find jobs as they leave the shrinking Air Force.