JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Commanders, command chiefs, directors and spouses from across the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) area of responsibility gathered here for the fall commander’s conference, Sept. 24 to 26.
Themed “PACAF’s Role in Competition – From Cooperation to Conflict,” the conference was designed to bring together senior leaders to discuss the many opportunities and challenges in the region as well as to discuss the progress on executing the command’s strategy.
In a complex world where attention can shift across the globe in a moment’s notice, Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., PACAF commander, opened the event emphasizing that the importance of the region has only grown more evident.
“I remind folks as I look at the Department of Defense Indo-Pacific Strategy report that came out in June, that the Indo-Pacific is the priority theater,” he said. “I ask you to challenge the status quo, challenge each other and be willing to learn from our collective failures and successes.”
Picking up from the spring conference conversations on resiliency, much of the first day focused on reflections from the CSAF-directed Resiliency Tactical Pause as well as service-wide initiatives to improve talent management.
For many units, their focus was to move beyond simply communicating to Airmen, to actually connecting with them…focusing on small group discussions in informal settings to encourage open dialogue about challenges and stressors. Others spoke about the importance of enrolling spouses and family members, even going as far as expanding efforts to teach help-seeking behaviors and techniques to combat stress in schools and youth programs.
Brown emphasized the importance of moving past reportable activity to a continued focus, to ensure we “make this part of our culture,” he said.
The group also discussed the importance of a strong leadership team – the commander, superintendent, first sergeant and key spouse, referring to the stability of a four-legged stool.
“We’ve got to be role models and learn from each other moving forward,” said Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Johnson, PACAF command chief, emphasizing the importance of practicing personal resiliency, from the simple art of taking leave, to physical fitness routines.
Johnson also addressed several initiatives across the command to enhance Airmen development and education, from First Term Airman Center helping agency immersions, to Initial Supervisor Resiliency Training.
“If it’s important enough, we have to invest the time,” said Johnson in addressing the tension between operations tempo and manning challenges.
Day two focused on efforts to “operationalize” the PACAF strategy, from discussions on the command’s role in great power competition, to an update on Agile Combat Employment and exercise prioritization.
With a major focus of the command strategy on innovation and challenging the status quo, discussions during day three focused on understanding and articulating risk, to include examining biases, questioning intuitions and developing risk policies. The final day also included updates from the Air Force Warfighting Integration Center and Air Force Science and Technology initiatives.
Additional spouse breakout sessions focused on quality of life initiatives to include spouse employment, childcare and housing, as well as sharing best practices from around the command.