JCOC 91 gets first-ever RPA immersion

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The Joint Civilian Orientation Conference 91 gather under an MQ-1 Predator at 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Headquarters at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., June 26, 2019. JCOC was established in 1948 as a Secretary of Defense-sponsored annual outreach program during which business and community leaders experience military life, training and operations. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. James Thompson)

The Joint Civilian Orientation Conference 91 visited Creech Air Force Base, Nev., as part of their U.S. Air Force orientation, June 26, 2019.

JCOC is sponsored by the Secretary of Defense and aims to immerse American business and community leaders with the military. This year’s 49-person group visited Creech to learn more about the Remotely Piloted Aircraft community.

“We bring them in … immerse them for a week, and then send them back to their communities,” said Kim Joiner, acting principal deputy assistant for Secretary of Defense Public Affairs. “Then they tell that story to their communities and they become our advocates.”

The team received an in-depth mission brief and visited the flight simulators, where they learned how aircrew operate MQ-9 Reapers from a ground control station.

“For this group, it’s important for them to be able to see the impact [the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing has] on the mission overseas, and for them to see the professionalism of those young Airmen,” said Joiner.

One member of the JCOC had an unexpected tie to the Hunter mission and the 432nd WG. Mic Isham Jr., Executive Administrator of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, is father to a 432nd WG aircrew member.

Isham flew a simulated mission as a sensor operator, the very job his son is tasked with in support of global combat operations. He expressed the gratitude he has for his son and other Hunter Airmen who contribute to the mission. 

“I have the most pride that a person can feel,” Isham said. “There’s nothing greater than cheering for your own kids.”

Aside from learning what his son does in the U.S Air Force, Isham, like other JCOC members, viewed this immersion as an opportunity for mutual benefit.

“What I’m looking at is the management, the planning, the way you guys do missions, human resources, recruitment, retention … it all transfers in the private sector in many ways,” Isham said. “Vice versa, we’re also giving input on how the private sector can help the armed forces.”

Established in 1948, JCOC is considered the oldest and most prestigious public liaison program in the Department of Defense. Members of the JCOC are influential leaders in their professions, organizations and communities, and are nominated by select DOD officials, military departments, and JCOC alumni.

Joiner hopes the conference will continue to be the avenue which connects military and private sector leaders. 

“Only one percent of our country is willing and able to serve today, so you’re in a really elite group of people,” Joiner said. “We have to get to the 99 (percent) and the JCOC helps us do that.”

For more info about JCOC visit https://www.defense.gov/jcoc/