At a meeting last week of the Air Force Civic Leader Program, Secretary Heather Wilson told participants the service is trying to delegate more authority to installation commanders to help them address local issues affecting their mission. “You can expect from us a lot more local control, a lot more authority at the wing commander level without having to deal with too much bureaucracy above them so they can get after the problems that are at the highest priority in their communities,” Wilson said at the three-day conference at Joint Base Andrews, Md.
She also highlighted two of the highest priorities for military families — the quality of local schools and the ease at which spouses can transfer professional credentials when they move. “The most important thing for us when we look at bases is the mission — we are values driven and mission focused,” Wilson said. “What matters most to our airmen in regards to their communities is quality of life, which includes world-class schools and reciprocity for licensure.”
Quality-of-life attributes can directly impact the mission, reported Air Force Public Affairs. For example, 62 percent of airmen agreed that improved schools opportunities could support aircrew retention, according to an Air Force survey. “Airmen care a lot about the education their children receive,” said Wilson. “The base commander and the local school district must work together to meet the needs of their community and become a base of choice for airmen because they’ve heard that the schools are fantastic.”
She said both the Air Force and the Department of Labor are working on improving the portability of professional licenses and certifications.
The Air Force Civic Leader Program is an Air Staff-level initiative made up of community leaders selected by headquarters, major commands and the National Guard Bureau. Members are unpaid advisers who serve as advocates for Air Force issues and community liaisons; they provide feedback to senior leaders about public attitudes toward the service.
Air Force photo by Wayne Clark