350 ELSG commander retires after 28 years of Air Force service

  • Published
  • By Monica D. Morales
  • 66th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
It was a lifestyle that Col. Steve Webb found hard to resist despite his pilot father's good-natured advice to look beyond an Air Force career, since having less than 20/20 vision might not translate into success in a flier's world.

Enamored with the military life he had always known, the 350th Electronic Systems Group commander has proven that Air Force achievements can present themselves in varying forms. This week he accomplished yet another when he retired after 28 years of military service.

"I could not have asked for anything more than the Air Force has already offered," he said. "It's the best job and career that I could possibly have ever had."

As commander of the 350 ELSG, Colonel Webb has been responsible for the development, testing, fielding and sustainment of 19 Air and Space Operations Center sites worldwide, more than 100 Theater Battle Management Core System (TBMCS) Force-Level locations, more than 100 TBMCS Unit-Level sites, as well as a variety of Foreign Military Sales programs. His team is comprised of 290 individuals not only at Hanscom, but also at Langley AFB, Va., Washington, D.C., Panama City, Fla., and Eskan Village, Saudi Arabia.

The United States Air Force Academy is where his career began, and a place that played a central role in his own family's history - his C-130 pilot father taught there and his brother was among the first babies born there. He added some contributions of his own when he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in May 1980. Years later it would also be the birthplace of two of his three sons.

It was Colonel Webb's experience as a cadet that set the stage for him to reverse roles eight years later and be a part of what he calls one of his most rewarding career highlights - teaching there in the Department of Engineering Mechanics and commissioning numerous cadets.

"Being able to mentor and help cadets grow into second lieutenants was an experience filled with many proud moments," he said.

Similarly, the colonel said that time spent in his previous assignment as the Armaments Cooperation Division director for the United States mission to NATO in Brussels, Belgium, was fulfilling on both a professional and personal level.

"The opportunity to work and interact with 25 allies and 45 partner nations was rewarding - both professionally and socially - and the chances it afforded my family to live in a different culture were just phenomenal, a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Colonel Webb said.

The list of career highlights, he said, wouldn't be complete without including his job as the 350 ELSG commander.

"You just couldn't have a better group of people to work with. They give their all to do their very best because they know they support critical missions," he said. "It's just been a pleasure to associate with the finest group of people I know."

During his tenure, the group's accomplishments have included fielding activities and supporting the 24/7 operations of the Air and Space Air Operations Center in Southwest Asia.

From February 2007 to January 2008, it was recorded as generating about 99,780 sorties and destroying more than 4,000 targets.

"We continue fielding new AOCs, and are in the process of developing a new environment that will modernize the AOC weapon system and give it unknown potential in terms of capabilities," he said.

Additionally, he cites strides made in the arena of foreign military sales - building radars in Pakistan, working with Saudi Arabia and Jordan and continuing to forge ties with NATO allies via the Air Sovereignty Operations Center - as victories of note.

The group's Theater Battle Management Core System is also closing one chapter in a very successful program and opening up a new one with its latest generation of command and control capabilities.

"The number of successful deliveries and sustainments that we've had since I've been here, in addition to the working relationships established with the users and the customers, is phenomenal. And it's all because of these people," Colonel Webb said.

With constant delivery being the norm, the colonel's retirement status won't last too long. 

Later this year Colonel Webb will begin a new job with General Dynamics, where he will take on the role of figuring out how to best leverage the company's expertise and talents to serve the Air Force.

"I'm excited about the opportunity because I can still keep my foot in the door," he said.

And when not busy accomplishing a long list of home improvements, the colonel said he will enjoy devoting more time to his family. After coaching his son's track team earlier this year, he was approached by other parents to help coach the cross country team this fall.

"Getting back into coaching in any sort of aspect would be good," Colonel Webb said.

Though he welcomes the prospects of the new opportunities that lie ahead, he said that a life without a uniform will require some adjustment.

"It's been an honor and a privilege to serve in the United States Air Force ... And it's going to be pretty tough taking off this uniform," he said.