SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --
Ninth Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Scott J. Zobrist hosted 15 retired general officers from around Ninth AF base communities during the 2019 Headquarters Ninth AF Senior Leader Forum March 19.
The forum educated retired senior leaders on Air Force current events and issues through briefings, dialogue with Airmen during a question-and-answer panel, a tour and capabilities briefing of the 25th Attack Group’s MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft system operation.
“What I realized when I was asked to do this a couple of years ago was that they are kind of the ambassadors to their communities,” said Zobrist. “They are going to go back out to their communities, churches and wherever they volunteer and have a better understanding where the Air Force is right now.”
Lt. Col. David Fischer, Ninth AF Commanders Action Group director, stressed the importance of refreshing these leaders-turned-ambassadors.
“They left (the Air Force while serving) at a strategic level, but that is important only because they … have been trained and molded to be Air Force ambassadors,” he said. “They are still those ambassadors but they have been removed for so long that we try and do this every two years.”
The forum kicked off with an unclassified intelligence briefing covering global threats to the joint force and implications of those threats to the Air Force. Afterward, Zobrist discussed today’s Air Force, highlighting priorities of the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and stressed how Air Force leaders focused on the tempo of the force and its effect on readiness and retention.
Zobrist also covered the current state of Ninth AF and its mission to organize, train and equip Airmen. Further, he updated attendees on the Air Force Chief of Staff tasking for Ninth AF to become a Joint Task Force-capable headquarters in 2018. He discussed how this capability has enhanced the Air Force’s ability to take the lead in joint and combined military operations.
“Strengthening joint leaders and teams is another theme that Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein has been focused on and we are at the center of that initiative,” Zobrist explained. “The idea is that we are part of a joint team. No service is going to do it by themselves, while the Air Force is important we need to understand how to fit in joint teams and even lead some of those teams.”
In addition to answering questions on the current pilot shortage, maintenance challenges and budgetary issues which impact readiness, Zobrist emphasized the Air Force’s efforts to strengthen our alliances with other countries and how these efforts affect training timelines.
Following the formal briefings, the attendees queried a panel of Airmen — enlisted and officers — on a wide variety of topics including recruitment and retention, Airman morale, deployment, operation tempos and local community support.
Hosted every two years, the next Headquarters Ninth Air Force Senior Leader Forum is scheduled for 2021.
(20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs contributed to this article)