BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (KSLA) — The 2nd Operations Group at Barksdale Air Force Base welcomed a new commander — Col. Matthew McDaniel — earlier this month.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be the commander of the men and women in the 2nd Operations Group,” he said. “It’s kind of come full circle. I started here in ’99. It’s been truly amazing.
“As you know, we have lots of challenges right now; but that also equals a lot of opportunity,” McDaniel continued. “So right now, it’s really just a fantastic time to be in the military and to be able to take care of the men and women in the Operations Group and their families.”
McDaniel said he and his family see his fellow servicemen and women, along with their families, as an extension of their own.
“You can’t get the mission done without them,” McDaniel said. “They are truly a support network and really one of the reasons we go to work every day. Just like our nation, they are a part of why we go to work to defend freedom. For my family it’s important. When I wake up, go in and give long days, I get deployed or I go TDY, it makes it worthwhile to know that they are safe.”
As the 2nd Operations Group’s commander, McDaniel said he oversees the building and flying of B-52s on local missions, as well as leading all the aircrew members and the support members on the flight line.
“I have the amazing opportunity to lead and grow my squadron commanders,” McDaniel said. “We have four squadrons that are a part of the 2nd Operations Group. My job is to help improve them and to grow them and to lead.
“A lot of what we do is build combat power. That’s our key mandate. That’s our mission,” he explained. “To do that well takes a lot of time and a lot of effort by the maintenance group and the support group and the medical group.
“To keep the aviators flying, to keep the airplanes going. It’s kind of like a symphony. It’s a really unique opportunity for us every day. I’m thankful to be a part of it.”
McDaniel attributes his joining the military to his school guidance counselor, who recommended that he try the Air Force Academy. Taking the recommendation, McDaniel now has been involved in the military for 26 years.
For him, getting to help shape new leaders under his command brings him the most excitement.
“I really have a love for growing leaders,” McDaniel said. “To develop the men and women of the 2nd Operations Group, to help them realize their full potential and capability. And, truly, my wife and I love the families.
“COVID has been very hard. There’s lots of things going on right now. Taking care of people is as important and making sure we have thriving families. They’re your neighbors in the community and are the foundation for the men and women who work here every day.”
McDaniel asked that the community continue to support Barksdale Air Force Base and what the servicemen and women do on the base every day.
“I love Barksdale,” McDaniel said. “I love the community, Shreveport-Bossier have been so good to me and my family over the years. I think I’ve lived here 5 separate times. I love the way the community rallies around what we do. The neighbors that we’ve met and the people that have crossed our path. It’s interesting, you just pick back up right where you left.
“I would love for the community to just continue wrapping their arms around their military members, for them to understand some of the things we are fighting through. Every time you see a mission fly from this base, every time you see a B-52 fly, it takes the whole base to make that a reality.”