RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Signifying A1 Force Support transformation efforts, more than 350 manpower, personnel and services commanders, directors of personnel, major command, field operating agency and Air Staff leaders gathered in Keystone, Colo., June 8-14 for the first combined worldwide conference.
With the integration of manpower, personnel and services in April 2006, Personnel Services Delivery was further broadened to include the realignment of active component manpower, personnel and services missions, roles, responsibilities and organizational structures at the major command and squadron levels.
The conference kicked off with an informal icebreaker, where force support professionals exchanged ideas and asked questions relating to the A1 transformation. With approximately 32 squadrons already merged into force support squadrons and another 44 set to merge by the summer of 2010, this was a vital forum for A1 personnel to provide feedback and highlight successful transformations. This interaction among current and future force support leaders better prepares the A1 community for the ongoing manpower, personnel and services merging, easing transition efforts.
The first general session began with a "View from the Top" presented by the Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services, Lt. Gen. Dick Newton. General Newton presented attendees a brief overview of the Air Force's top priorities and highlighted how the A1 community fits into those priorities. Additionally, he touched on topics such as the Personnel Service Delivery model, force development and the force support transformation. Also included were updates by senior leaders on the current status of our manpower, personnel and services functional areas.
The following two days gave conference participants a chance to hear in-depth briefings on key topics at eight different breakout sessions. The sessions included updates on the Air Force Personnel Center, readiness/mortuary programs, Air Force Services, Airmen and Family Services programs, human resources information technology systems/force development, force management and policy, the Air Force Services Agency, and Air Force Manpower issues. These smaller sessions offered a venue for enhanced discussions in areas related to the manpower, personnel and services transformation.
A highlight of the conference came when Staff Sgt. Matthew Slaydon and his wife briefed attendees about the Air Force Wounded Warrior program. Sergeant Slaydon served as an explosive ordnance disposal technician in Iraq when he was severely injured by an improvised explosive device.
Sergeant Slaydon, who lost his eyesight and an arm in the IED blast, shared a detailed account of his accident and recovery. He emphasized the significant role, importance and impact the Wounded Warrior program played in his ordeal and what the program means to Airmen who are in similar situations. Sergeant Slaydon's wife, Annette, also spoke about the program, specifically about the importance of the family liaison officer in handling their case. The Slaydon's presentation put perspective on how vital this program is to them and to other Airmen and their families who have endured a tragic event in their lives.
"SSgt Slaydon delivered one of his most powerful and moving presentations, and the crowd showed their appreciation with a long and thunderous standing ovation," said Mr. Art Myers, director of Air Force Services. "It gives me great pleasure to introduce our Wounded Warriors to as many leaders as possible and I think they truly appreciate it."
The week's event culminated Thursday evening by recognizing manpower, personnel and services "best of the best" with an awards banquet hosted by Maj. Gen. K.C. McClain, AFPC commander, and Mr. Myers. More than 570 awards winners, family members, friends and peers were in attendance to help celebrate the presentation of individual, program, flight and unit awards to 54 manpower, personnel and services superstars.
"This year was a great opportunity to integrate the entire Manpower, Personnel and Services community in a single venue; the idea sharing and team building will be long lasting," said Mr. Myers. "Also, the opportunity to expand recognition to award winners from multiple communities is just icing on the cake."
Of particular note was the presentation of the Mr. Solomon Starks, Jr., Equal Opportunity Manager of the Year Award to Leonard Gonzales, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., by Mr. Starks' daughter, Tammy Wallace.
"On behalf of my family, we would like to thank the Air Force for establishing an Equal Opportunity Award in honor of my father and the many years of dedicated service to the EO community," Ms. Wallace said. "It is my understanding this new award is to recognize outstanding EO professionals who exemplified superior leadership in promoting the tenants of equal opportunity, diversity and affirmative action. It is heartwarming to know this award will be considered the most prestigious award for an EO professional who, like my father, did the most to advance the Air Force EO program in a given year."
Maj. Gen. Robert Burg, commander of 20th Air Force, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. served as the keynote speaker for the evening and also assisted in the awards presentations. The large and small Outstanding Mission Support Squadron of the Year awards were presented to Hickam AFB, Hawaii and Laughlin AFB, Texas. The evening's finale was capped off with presentation of the Major General Eugene L. Eubank and the General Curtis E. LeMay Services Awards to Aviano Air Base, Italy and Lackland AFB, Texas the best small and large base Services Squadrons, by retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Brett Dula, National Commander of the Order of the Daedalians.