MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Air University hosted over 70 civic leaders from around the country during the 67th National Security Forum, May 11-13 2021, at Maxwell AFB, Alabama.
This annual Air War College event, sponsored by the office of the secretary of the Air Force, helps strengthen understanding and relationships between military and civilian communities.
The forum was to allow civic leaders to engage with senior military leaders on topics related to national security and immerse civilians from various backgrounds into the defense sector.
“It is an awfully important relationship we have with you all in terms of the support you give the Department of the Air Force,” said Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth in his opening remarks to the attendees. “Our priorities are to defend the nation, take care of our people and build on partnerships and teamwork.”
Roth talked about the national security strategy and the challenges facing the United States for the foreseeable future, calling China “assertive” and Russia “destabilizing.”
The overarching theme for this year’s NSF was the return to great power competition. The event not only focused on the civilian understanding of what the military is facing, but also provided defense members the perspective of key civilian leaders.
“Many posit that the United States is either no longer the world's sole superpower or that it will not remain in that position for much longer,” said Col. Donald Sandberg, AWC’s NSF director. “Attendees will leave this year’s forum with a better understanding of the national security challenges facing not only the United States but also of our partner nations worldwide.”
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. and Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond addressed the attendees, highlighting the significance of integration and partnership.
"This is a great chance for us to come together to share our views and ideas and to work together to enhance our national security,” Brown said. “We are asking you, as academia, community and political leaders and industry, to help us identify the capabilities our future force will need to execute the Air Force mission, which is to 'Fly, Fight and Win ... Airpower Anytime, Anywhere.'"
Offering a spacepower perspective, Raymond said, “The United States is a space-faring nation and this is an exciting and consequential time in space. Every sector is experiencing rapid change. … We have to set conditions to outpace emerging and dynamic threats and create new military options, working with the joint force, interagency, industry and our partners and allies. Cooperation will be the hallmark of our approach.”
Forum attendee Dustin Kaehr from Bristol, Ind., mentioned that NSF has given him a more complete picture of local, national and international events impacting the world today. He said he will take the information and new perspectives he has gained from NSF and use them to impact his local community.
“Being able to dig into the great power competition has shifted my viewpoints in several different areas, including clinical policy, economic policy and military strategy,” he said. “I have a new level of confidence to not only speak into conversations, but initiate conversations with my community, whether that be business leaders or local government officials.”