PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
The commander of Air Combat Command carved out 30 minutes on his tight schedule May 13 to dial in to a virtual training class hosted by members of the 22nd Surveillance Squadron here.
Gen. Mike Holmes participated in the webchat with 47 Airmen from the Air Force Technical Applications Center to discuss geopolitical competition in the Arctic Region.
“In late 2019, our operators who execute our 24/7 watch floor, identified a need to dedicate time solely to training on the battlespace,” said Col. Andy Steffen, “so they initiated two weekly sessions, one for day shift and one for night shift, to better understand our global operating environment. When the coronavirus hit, they still wanted to continue the sessions, so they began conducting them virtually.”
Since mid-March, the squadron has been connecting online to discuss a wide range of relevant topics and current events that impact the nuclear treaty monitoring center.
In that vein, one of the 22nd SURS flight commanders thought it would be great if they could get a senior Air Force officer participate in the video chat with the squadron, and after a few phone calls and email messages, they secured the leader of AFTAC’s major command at Langley AFB, Va., who agreed to join them.
“Our wing commander, Col. (Chad) Hartman, reached out to ACC to see if COMACC would be interested in being a part of the call, and when we got word back that he agreed to join us, we were all pretty stoked,” said Capt. Jason Goins, 22nd SURS flight commander.
The Airmen put together a solid lesson plan complete with two short informational videos that illustrated U.S. concerns and interests in the Arctic region.
After the presentation, 1st Lt. Jesse Lubove, an AFTAC mission director and moderator of the web chat, introduced Holmes to the group and asked the general if he had any comments he wanted to share with the group.
“Your timing is spot on,” the general said. “Just today Alaska Senator (Dan) Sullivan spoke about the Arctic’s importance to America’s national security and the role the Department of Defense should play in the region. It’s great to hear your thoughts on the subject.”
The group spent about 10 minutes engaging in a robust question-and-answer session, with Holmes chiming in with his thoughts as well. When his time came to an end, he thanked the technicians and analysts for inviting him to the chat.
“I really appreciate being included and I learned a lot from your perspective,” the 4-star said. “I hope you will invite me back again for further discussions.”
The 22nd SURS Airmen hope to have other Air Force senior leaders join them in future training sessions.