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22nd AF command teams, community leaders team up for summit success

Participants in the 22nd Air Force Senior Leader Summit pose for a group photo by the U.S. Air Force Academy flightline Aug. 15, 2018. Military members and civilians embarked on a variety of tours to learn more about the Air Force as a whole, as well as the unique mission sets that make up the command. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Park)

Participants in the 22nd Air Force Senior Leader Summit pose for a group photo by the U.S. Air Force Academy flightline Aug. 15, 2018. Military members and civilians embarked on a variety of tours to learn more about the Air Force as a whole, as well as the unique mission sets that make up the command. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Park)

Col. James DeVere, 302nd Airlift Wing commander, gives a mission brief during the 22nd Air Force Senior Leader Summit held in August 2018. DeVere was one of several commanders who spoke during the briefing, giving attendees a better idea of the unique mission sets found throughout the 22AF. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Park)

Col. James DeVere, 302nd Airlift Wing commander, gives a mission brief during the 22nd Air Force Senior Leader Summit held in August 2018. DeVere was one of several commanders who spoke during the briefing, giving attendees a better idea of the unique mission sets found throughout the 22AF. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Park)

Pam Younker, left, and Sharon Mason, both civic leaders from Georgia, look at a dropsonde during a mission brief on the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters as part of the 22nd Air Force Senior Leader Summit held in August 2018. Dropsondes are dropped from specially equipped C-130s during weather reconnaissance missions to measure storm conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Park)

Pam Younker, left, and Sharon Mason, both civic leaders from Georgia, look at a dropsonde during a mission brief on the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters as part of the 22nd Air Force Senior Leader Summit held in August 2018. Dropsondes are dropped from specially equipped C-130s during weather reconnaissance missions to measure storm conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Park)

Tim Kelly, a civic leader from Georgia, sits in a glider as a U.S. Air Force Academy cadet points out controls in the cockpit during a tour August 15, 2018. Civic leaders were invited for the first time to the 22nd Air Force’s Senior Leader Summit held in August 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Park)

Tim Kelly, a civic leader from Georgia, sits in a glider as a U.S. Air Force Academy cadet points out controls in the cockpit during a tour August 15, 2018. Civic leaders were invited for the first time to the 22nd Air Force’s Senior Leader Summit held in August 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Park)

Participants in the 22nd Air Force Senior Leader Summit use GPS coordinates to find a puzzle piece during a geocaching exercise in the Rocky Mountains August 15, 2018. The exercise was held on the final day of the summit and provided participants the opportunity to enhance their teamwork and problem-solving skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Casey Mull)

Participants in the 22nd Air Force Senior Leader Summit use GPS coordinates to find a puzzle piece during a geocaching exercise in the Rocky Mountains August 15, 2018. The exercise was held on the final day of the summit and provided participants the opportunity to enhance their teamwork and problem-solving skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Casey Mull)

DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. -- Commanders and command chiefs from around 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.”

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