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Air Force Materiel Command asks for civilian aid in challenge

LANCASTER, Calif.–At an informal dinner banquet arranged by the Civilian/Military Support Group (Civ/Mil) for Edwards Air Force Base, an audience of 100 received a briefing on expanding global military threats and new challenges at home as the Air Force Materiel Command implements organizational programs to improve the quality of life for Airmen and families.

The evening session brought together local Civ/Mil members, regional elected officials or their representatives, Edwards officials and a reported 14 of some 50 volunteers in the Air and Space Forces Civic Leaders Program on an advisory tour with general officers of the Air Force Materiel Command Headquarters at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

Air and Space Forces Civic Leaders Program volunteers were touring bases with top officers of Air Force Materiel Command, which provides managerial support for the Space Force to avoid duplication of effort. AFMC is already in charge of developing, testing and sustaining weapons systems, and also responsible for management of structures, 89,000 people and a $60 billion annual budget.

Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr., Commander of the Air Force Materiel Command Headquarters and a former test wing commander at Edwards, unable to attend the Lancaster gathering, was represented by Lt. Gen. Carl E. Schaefer, vice commander at Air Force Materiel Command and a former commander of the 412th Test Wing at Edwards.

Prior to arriving at Edwards, the week-long Air and Space Forces Civic Leaders Program tour witnessed all-calls with Airmen and civilians at Vandenberg and Los Angeles Space Force Bases, Calif., Buckley SFB, Colo., and Patrick Space Force Base in Florida. The volunteer advisers travelled at their own expense.

Schaefer spoke of a new and urgent to-do list in the mix, including providing major Air Force Materiel Command services to U.S. Space Force installations, and of equally prioritizing improving quality of life and living standards for all base personnel and dependents.

Topping everything is the powerfully succinct message Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown recently sent, “Accelerate, change, or lose. The Peoples Republic of China is coming for us, and we must accelerate change or lose the future to tyranny.”

The heavily Civ/Mil audience heard loud and clear that the words accelerate and change means going forward with the Air Force’s decade-old need to retire 40 and 50-year-old, high-maintenance warplanes whose costs rise as performance falls year after year.

The Edwards Civilian-Military Support Group, founded by the late Aerospace Valley businesswoman and civic leader Aida O’Connor, was formally organized in 1989 to “establish a friendly benevolent non-profit association of civic leaders and military personnel at Edwards AFB, to act as a host group whenever needed, and to consider an annual service project to benefit Edwards.”

Along with more than just considering a service at Edwards, CIV/MIL went above and beyond from the beginning, carrying out multiple annual projects and base family support functions through the decades. Beyond that, CIV/MIL members volunteered their time and treasure to become well-informed and influential voices in advocating to aid and protect the base, as well as those living and working on the base who protect the nation.

In its earlier years, a delegation of CIV/MIL members from Antelope Valley traveled aboard Air Force transports already scheduled to fly to a base where visitors were hosted — not at government expense — by the local CIV/MIL group while being briefed about base operations. According to an Edwards information official, the practice was discontinued about a  decade ago.

It was that community-based protective instinct that Air Force Materiel Command leaders stressed in the appeal both locally and nationally to add quality values and amenities to military life in a program at Edwards called “Five to Thrive,” addressing:

  • Improved, abundant and affordable housing, on-base and off, through an alliance;
  • Excellence in education, ranging from newly built structures to hiring more highly qualified teachers;
  • Greater access to available and affordable child-care;
  • Availability of superior mental health care and wellness opportunities;

 

Removal of state-imposed financially harmful barriers to employment of occupationally licensed spouses of military personnel. Although California just passed legislation to correct the longstanding practice, the new law won’t take effect for a year.

Lisa Moulton, president of Edwards AFB CIV/MIL, and Past President Al Hoffman welcomed and introduced guests and local dignitaries. Cam Martin, Chaplain of the Experimental Aircraft Association and CIV/MIL member delivered the invocation. Kern County 2nd District Supervisor Zack Scrivner led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Moulton noted that civic leaders among those traveling with the Air and Space Forces Program included influential individuals uniquely positioned and qualified to understand and share their valued knowledge, as well as advise the Air Force in areas of expertise.

Included among the civilians who rotated in and out of the extended tour, were such volunteers as Monica Banken, a deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger in policy areas including Space bases, workforce development for veterans and returning service members, education, social services, and economic development. Banken was previously communications and public affairs lead for the Center for Space Policy and Strategy at The Aerospace Corporation.

One of the group’s more nationally recognized names in science and technology education Is Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an organization dedicated to motivating the next generation to understand, use and enjoy science and technology. FIRST is a household word in Aerospace Valley schools where students excel in FIRST robotics activities.

An inventor and entrepreneur holding more than 1,000 patents, Kamen’s list of new technologies includes the HomeChoice™ portable dialysis machine, the iBOT™ Mobility System, the Segway™ Human Transporter, a DARPA-funded robotic arm, a new and improved Stirling engine, and the Slingshot water purifier. Serving at-large from his home in New Hampshire, Kamen volunteers his brainpower to the Air Force in the fields of Science, Technology, Medical Devices, Innovation and Aviation.

Coming from Oklahoma City was J.D. Baker, representing the Tinker AFB community in areas of Spouse and Family Support, Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, and Diversity and Inclusion.

Kathryn Thornton, former NASA Astronaut and University of Virginia Professor Emeritus in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, covers specialties including education, community / base partnerships and workforce development.

Other Civic Leaders in the group offer expertise in a range of specialties and disciplines, including

  • Cybersecurity, Innovation, Technology, Information Technology
  • Municipal, county, state and national government affairs and relations.
  • Community Partnerships and Services, Media Relations and PR, Community Relations, Base Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, Cultural Awareness, Indigenous Population.
  • Infrastructure, Resiliency, Community Support and Workforce Development, Recruitment and Retention.
  • Skills Portability, Military Spouse Transferable Certification.
  • Mental Health, PTSD/TBI Treatment and Suicide Prevention, Pediatric Health Care, Mobility Issues, Pandemic Preparation. Supporting Airmen and Families.
  • Aircraft & Systems Development and Inventory, currently including – F-35A, RQ-4 Global Hawk, C-130 Hercules, KC-46A, Fifth Generation Aircraft.
  • Engineering, Logistics and Natural Resources.
  • Real Estate, Land Use Issues, Economic Development, Job Creation, Economic Research, Construction.
  • Access to higher education for enlisted personnel. Base Quality of Life Improvement.
  • Strategic Deterrence and Competition
  • Joint-base Management, Collaborative Relationships, Special Events Support, Industry Relationships and Innovation Opportunities.

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