DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. --
Commanders and command chiefs from around the 22nd Air Force joined their civic leader counterparts for a Senior Leader Summit held last week in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Although the Senior Leader Summit is nothing new – it’s typically offered three times a year – this summer’s event was unique in its inclusion of civic leaders. The civilians embarked on a variety of tours to learn more about the broader Air Force Reserve mission, as well as the various mission sets found throughout 22nd AF, while command teams focused on current priorities for the Numbered Air Force.
“This is the first time we’ve included a limited number of civic leaders from across the 22nd Air Force during an SLS, and I expect to do this once per year,” said Maj. Gen. Craig La Fave, 22nd AF commander.
By including the civic leaders, the general said he hopes to provide them with a better understanding and appreciation for 22nd Air Force’s missions and capabilities to share back at home.
“Prior to the trip, I didn’t have a solid understanding of the vital role that our Air Force Reserve plays in the overall defense of our nation,” said Steve Bione, a civic leader from Illinois. “I have a much better understanding and appreciation of how the Reserve seamlessly works in conjunction with our active-duty members to provide the force capabilities as needed.”
The summit began with a 22nd AF mission brief and then drilled down to each unit’s unique mission set, giving participants and civic leaders a better idea of the role each unit plays in achieving the command’s mission as a whole.
“Our goal is the same for each SLS – to inform 22nd Air Force leaders on Air Force and Air Force Reserve senior leader intent, enable crosstalk and discussion on readiness and lethality issues, and to discuss professional development issues for our officers and enlisted,” La Fave said.
After hearing about the role the C-130 plays in several of these missions, civic leaders had the opportunity to fly on a local training flight. Military leaders stayed back to meet with their counterparts at other wings and address a variety of topics relevant to leading their respective units.
“There is no better way to disseminate information and debate critical issues than in person in a group setting,” La Fave said. “In a small group environment we can gain each other’s insights in closed door sessions. We also make staff subject matter experts available to leaders so they can ask questions and get their unit’s problems addressed quickly.”
Besides talking through their unique challenges, attendees had the opportunity to enhance their teamwork and problem-solving skills through a geocaching exercise held on U.S. Air Force Academy grounds. Geocaching is a sort of high-tech scavenger hunt that involves teams looking for clues to a puzzle via GPS coordinates.
Similar to the wings working together to achieve the 22nd Air Force mission, the different components of the summit proved successful in reaching the general’s objectives.
“This SLS was expertly planned and executed and so it was an absolute success,” said La Fave. “We’ll see this success bear fruit with more informed leaders who are then able to make changes to their unit’s training plans, financial plans, recruiting plans, etc. The proof is in the metrics that reflect improved unit readiness and lethality.”