The Air Force Test Center Commander, Maj. Gen. Christopher Azzano, hosted two virtual town halls with AFTC senior officer, civilian, and enlisted leadership Aug. 4 and Aug. 6.
The virtual town halls served as a bridge to reach leaders across the 34 geographical locations of the Test Center amidst travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
Azzano discussed resilience, the importance of national security and leadership challenges during COVID-19 in addition to the social unrest in the wake of the death of George Floyd. He stressed the effectiveness of COVID-19 best practices.
“We know face masks work to help prevent the spread,” said Azzano. “We know good hygiene, cleaning commonly touched surfaces and staying home if you feel sick help flatten the curve.”
The future of the AFTC test mission was discussed to include advancing state of the art hypersonic technology and weapons, branching out into the space domain by helping the U.S. Space Force build up their test and evaluation capability, and leveraging autonomy and artificial intelligence as enablers for future decision speed on the battle field.
Azzano also discussed the status of diversity and inclusion throughout the test enterprise workforce.
“We haven’t made as much progress in our nation and our Service as some of us might have thought,” shared Azzano. “Too many Americans, including our own Airmen, operate in an environment of fear that many did not realize existed.As a Service, we still have much room for improvement.”
Azzano charged the leaders to help to carry out change.
“The Air Force has always been a leader in recognizing the need for and institutionalizing social change, and we have to continue with renewed focus and energy,” said Azzano. “I need your help to lead the charge, to make sure we’re all having those difficult conversations that lead to mutual understanding and respect.I need your help to make sure our focus and improvement are lasting.”
Questions were asked about his thoughts surrounding the recent events of racial injustice and controversial names of military installations.
“While we are striving for dignity and respect for all, I think we need to focus on the issue of discrimination of African Americans in the United States.Black lives matter and I would not offer any caveat to that,” said Azzano.
In regards to controversial flags, statues, and names of military installations Azzano answered, “we need to look long and hard at whether these emblems are representative of our values—where we’re trying to take our Service today, as a beacon for the rest of society.”
Azzano also introduced the new AFTC Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Brian Stafford.
“This is a new experience being in the test environment,” said Stafford, who left Joint Base Elmendorf, Alaska. “I look forward to learning as much as I can, as fast as I can and meeting all the great Airmen that take care of the mission every single day.”
Azzano ended the town hall by thanking the leaders for their service.
“These are challenging times, unlike anything I’ve seen in my 30 years in the Air Force,” said Azzano. “To know you are here to lead, that you care about your Airmen and nation, and you’ll make sure our mission happens regardless of the difficulties we face … helps me sleep at night.”
The commander plans to host more virtual town halls on a quarterly basis.
The center is headquartered at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.