By Tamas Mondovics

Synergy, The Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce’s monthly membership luncheon, was pleased to welcome two special guests that provided insight to one of the most economically influential members of the Tampa Bay and surrounding area communities.

MacDill Air Force Base, Colonel Andre J. Briere, vice commander, 6th Air Mobility Wing, accompanied by Colonel Douglas J. Schwartz, Commander of the 927th Air Refueling Wing, at MacDill Air Force Base got a standing ovation as they were introduced to the large crowd gathered for the chambers monthly event held at The Regent located at 6437 Watson Rd. in Riverview.

Briere has flown more than 2,300 hours in a variety of aircraft in numerous combat and combat support missions in support of operations Southern Watch, Northern Watch, Provide Comfort, Restore Hope, Deny Flight, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

He currently assists the wing commander in leading more than 3,000 people, overseeing base property and capital assets totaling more than $2.8 billion, and controlling an annual budget exceeding $249 million.

Schwartz’s responsibilities are equally impressive as he is currently responsible for the organization, training, equipping and worldwide readiness of a combined reserve and civilian wing of approximately 840 people. The 927th Air Refueling Wing flies the KC-135R Stratotanker whose missions consist of in-flight air refueling, cargo and passenger airlift, aeromedical evacuation and supporting contingencies and humanitarian operations around the world.

“The first key is time that we save, which translates into personnel and cost,” Briere said. “We have to work smarter as we focus on efficiency, which is evident in the fact that the current workload is now met by half the amount of the workforce of active members compared to when I joined the air force.” 

Adding to the goal to be more productive and effective, MacDill is currently in the process of building a charter school as well as a hotel on base that are said to save millions of dollars annually.

For more information about The Brandon Chamber of Commerce, contact Christie Lemar at or call 689-1221 ext. 8812.

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