AFSOC hosts CSAF civic leaders

  • Published
  • By Ciara Travis
  • Air Force Special Operations Command
Sixteen distinguished civic leaders visited Hurlburt Field Nov. 1-3 to experience the mission, capabilities and meet with Airmen of Air Force Special Operations Command.

These citizens are representatives of the Air Force Chief of Staff Civic Leader Program, and they serve as unpaid advisors to the CSAF for a four-year term as well as ambassadors to their communities. Accompanied by the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Stephen Wilson, the civic leaders were here to visit Hurlburt and Eglin AFB.

The Air Force Chief of Staff Civic Leader Program is comprised of community leaders nominated by Air Force major commands, the National Guard Bureau and Headquarters Air Force.

“Since less than one percent of the U.S. population has served or are currently serving in uniform, having advocates who can inform and educate on our behalf is essential,” said Wendy Varhegyi, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Chief of Engagement Division. “The time we invest with our civic leaders pays great dividends as they educate and inform their own peer groups. They also have the ability to provide candid feedback to senior leaders.”

Air Mobility Command’s representative, Mary Graham, of Joint Base Charleston, S.C., has really enjoyed her time as an Air Force civic leader.

“This is the first year of my term, and I’ve really learned so much already,” Graham said. “For me, the biggest takeaway is the interaction with the Airmen – to see them in their various roles – it’s been incredibly impressive.”

Briefings with leadership were punctuated with interactive equipment displays and meeting Air Commandos. They toured AFSOC’s premier aircraft -- CV-22 Osprey, AC-130J Ghostrider, MC-130J Commando II, C-146 and U-28 – and training facilities. The end of the first day included a Special Tactics mission scenario.

“The demos really bring it to a reality for me,” said Graham, “There are bad guys out there, and these Airmen are doing their best to protect us. It’s just such an unbelievable learning experience.”

One scenario allowed the civic leaders to watch ST members use the “jaws of life” to pry open a car door, while another station allowed them to ride in tactical all-terrain vehicles.

“As part of the program, civic leaders are exposed to many different Air Force missions,” said Varhegyi. “Visiting AFSOC provides a unique opportunity to meet the men and women at the tip of the spear. It provides the opportunity for the civic leaders to spend time with these ‘quiet professionals’ and understand their contributions to Air Power.”