Air University hosts 65th National Security Forum

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson addresses the participants of the 65th NSF.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson addresses the members of the 2018 Air War College class and 65th National Security Forum civilian guests, May 8, 2018. NSF is a secretary of the Air Force sponsored program that brings civilian business leaders, entrepreneurs and academics together with their military counterparts to foster communication and learning. (U.S. Air Force photo by Melanie Rodgers Cox)

NSF attendee using virtual reality program

Guests attending the 65th National Security Forum experience three virtual reality learning environments offered by Squadron Officer College, May 9, 2018, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. SOC implemented the use of virtual reality learning environments into their curriculum to better educate and prepare the Air Force’s leaders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Melanie Rodgers Cox)

NSF participants discuss in seminars

Attendees of the 65th National Security Forum discuss different topics during a seminar, May 8, 2018, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. During the forum, attendees discussed topics such as, cyber security threats, with military members. (U.S. Air Force photo by William Birchfield)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS) -- Air University’s Air War College opened its doors to more than 100 community leaders, representing 39 different states, from May 8-10, 2018, to help solidify bridges and relationships between the military and the civilian sectors through the annual National Security Forum, hosted and sponsored by Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

The NSF began in 1954 with the goal of sharing perspectives between civic and military leaders and broadening their understanding of what the military does to protect national security.

Seminars and other opportunities this year included a virtual reality experience, military working dog demonstration, exploring different worldviews of the U.S. military services, and more.

Being the intellectual and leadership-development center of the Air Force, AU plays an integral role in preparing our leaders to respond to real-world issues.

Hosting the event here showcases AU’s mission and how it touches nearly every other base within the attendees’ home communities.

“Not every installation has the same mission,” said Brig. Gen. Jeremy Sloane, Air War College commandant. “Air University is the intellectual and developmental center of our Air Force. The NSF brings community leaders from all over the country who are engaged with different bases and mission sets, and we give them a chance to see different things that are happening across our Air Force and the (Defense Department).”

In addition to explaining the military to the civilian sector, NSF also provides an opportunity for Air War College students to build important connections with key civic leaders before they graduate and go on to take critical command and leadership roles throughout the Air Force.

“It’s important for us to communicate the needs of our Air Force and our installations,” said Sloane. “But we also want to understand what our civilian partners need and what drives them. Building a stronger relationship is a two-way street.”

Forum attendee Randall Goldman has traveled from South Carolina for three consecutive years and said he finds it absolutely riveting on every level.

“I’m getting a better breadth of the intricacies of what the Air Force does,” he said. “One thing I’m taking back that I think is the most profound is how diverse the students are that come through this program. They are not only Air Force; all of the branches are represented.”

Goldman went on to list all of the different organizations AWC’s students hail from. He says he found the most interesting to be the international officers who study here.

“Hearing their perspectives on the world views and topics and issues we’re talking about is absolutely critical,” he said.

Forum attendee Virginia Whitfield, a Montgomery native, didn’t have to travel as far as Goldman, however. This was her first time attending the event.

She said the experience has enriched her perspective on the military.

After meeting many attendees who have little to no experience with the military, Whitfield said she was thankful to be a part of the community so heavily involved with the Air Force.

“We are all in this together,” she said. “America is our country and we all have to take care of it.”