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Cannon civic leaders take on JBSA-L, Laughlin, and Maxwell

  • Published
  • 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M.-- Cannon Air Force Base civic leaders, along with 27th Special Operations Wing leadership, toured three Air Force bases during a cross-country civic leader tour, Nov. 28 – Dec. 1, 2023.

Civic leader tours help educate key community members on what Airmen experience throughout their Air Force careers and help them understand the needs and challenges of Airmen and their families. The experience seeks to provide community leaders with wholistic knowledge that will enable them to partner with Cannon AFB and work to improve the base and local community for Airmen and their families.

During the tour, 23 influential civic leaders from various industries in the communities surrounding Cannon AFB were provided the opportunity to see how Airmen are trained and developed, network with civic leaders from other installations, and be exposed to other successful education and support programs’ best practices.

U.S. Air Force Col. Jeremy Bergin, 27th SOW commander, said: “This tour was the first step in a broader Cannon effort to connect our civic leaders with America’s Airmen. I was hopeful we would generate excitement about partnering on efforts which would benefit both our incredibly supportive communities and our service members and their families.

“While we focused on creating understanding of who our Airmen are, where they come from, and what some of the various training pipelines look like across the Air Force, we underlaid every discussion with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s Five and Thrive pillars and how those challenges impact our readiness. Having the opportunity to network with civic leaders at other locations with similar challenges was critical to providing our community with valuable perspectives and identifying creative solutions we can bring back to Cannon and get after, together.”

The trip included stops at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and Kelly Field, Texas; Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas; and Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

While visiting JBSA-L, civic leaders attended the USAF Basic Military Training coin ceremony, witnessing a milestone marking the beginning of 700 Airmen’s careers. Leaders were also given the opportunity to share lunch with technical trainees from the 344th Training Wing and receive a briefing from the leaders of the Special Warfare Training Wing.

“The experience of the basic training coin ceremony and Retreat was one of the most memorable experiences of the trip for me,” said David Robinson, Cannon AFB’s Air and Space Civic Leader. “During the Retreat ceremony, the narrator reminds everyone that, ‘The flag has been burned, torn and trampled on in the streets of countries that America has helped set free; yet, it remains invincible.’ These words were incredibly humbling as I remembered that our flag remains invincible because of the dedication, service and sacrifice of our Airmen and their families. Those words reminded me that I am honored to be given the opportunity to support our Airmen and their families.”

During the JBSA-L visit, civic leaders from Cannon AFB also had their first opportunity to see what a STARBASE program looks like on an Air Force Base and hear perspectives about the value STARBASE brings to communities. STARBASE is a Department of Defense awareness and outreach program that creates a bridge between DOD and civilian communities while providing local students access to the DOD’s wealth of expertise in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career fields, a program Bergin is working to get at Cannon AFB.

The visit to Laughlin AFB focused on the challenges faced by installations in remote locations and civic partnerships within their communities. Cannon AFB’s civic and Wing leaders met with Laughlin AFB’s civic leaders to discuss how community influencers partner with Laughlin AFB to build and sustain programs for the betterment of the community and the base. One of the programs that specifically highlighted as a best practice was Laughlin’s “Grow Your Own” career and technical education (CTE) program, which offers local school district students real-life employment experience working alongside base employees to learn about aircraft maintenance. This highlighted possible volunteer or internship opportunities on Cannon AFB in the future, helping provide the local community’s students a chance to gain technical experience.

Laughlin AFB also showcased undergraduate pilot training, giving Cannon AFB civic leaders a better understanding of how Airmen become aviators. Additionally, Cannon AFB received briefings from the Laughlin AFB medical group and school liaison officer regarding the challenges Airmen and their families face, and how they are working to provide solutions to those challenges, including hosting open houses for local medical providers to bring the military and civic medical communities closer together.

The tour concluded at Maxwell AFB, where the civic leaders were given immersive tours of Air University and STARBASE Maxwell.

Many of the civic leaders that attended are a part of the Eastern New Mexico region’s education system and were able to observe multiple successful education programs such as STARBASE and “Grow Your Own.”

This was an amazing opportunity,” said Robin Kuykendall, Clovis Community College Executive Vice President. “I am looking forward to further collaborations or creating a strategic plan that provides sustainable methods for improving partnerships and quality of life for Airmen at Cannon and within the community.”

As civic leaders of the communities surrounding Cannon AFB, these individuals have various spheres of influence that can positively contribute to public understanding of the challenges their local Airmen face. By providing a thorough, first-hand exposure to other locations facing remote-basing issues similar to Cannon, as well as the educational and medical programs that have helped alleviate these issues, the 27th SOW’s leadership hopes the tour helps spark even more collaborative innovation with their civic partners as they work to address Cannon Air Commandos’ unique needs.