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AFA chairman gauges issues visiting Aviano Airmen

Mr. Bob Largent speaks at the Airman Leadership School during his visit to Aviano Air Base, Italy, Oct 25, 2006.  Mr. Largent, Air Force Association chairman of the board, visited Aviano to spend time with Airman and get a view of how the force is doing.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Liliana Moreno)

Mr. Bob Largent speaks at the Airman Leadership School during his visit to Aviano Air Base, Italy, Oct 25, 2006. Mr. Largent, Air Force Association chairman of the board, visited Aviano to spend time with Airman and get a view of how the force is doing. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Liliana Moreno)

Mr. Bob Largent speaks with chiefs and first sergeants at La Dolce Vita Dining Facility, Aviano Air Base, Italy Oct. 25, 2006.  Mr. Largent, Air Force Association chairman of the board, visited Aviano to spend time with Airman and get a view of how the force is doing.  (US Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Liliana Moreno)

Mr. Bob Largent speaks with chiefs and first sergeants at La Dolce Vita Dining Facility, Aviano Air Base, Italy Oct. 25, 2006. Mr. Largent, Air Force Association chairman of the board, visited Aviano to spend time with Airman and get a view of how the force is doing. (US Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Liliana Moreno)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- When the Air Force Association chairman visited here today, he didn't stay long.   And that's not a bad thing. 

A brief stay meant Bob Largent could quickly report back what Airmen's concerns are to Air Force leaders, members of Congress, and the public. 

"(I am here) to learn the issues first hand from the Airmen that are serving in the (U.S. Air Forces in Europe), what's important to them, what's important to their families, what's important to their work, what drives them to be in the Air Force." 

Between touring the base and experiencing the quality of life here, Mr. Largent spoke with Aviano's Airman Leadership School students, first sergeants, chief master sergeants and company grade officers about what the civilian organization does for them in Washington, D.C. 

The association's mission includes advocating both a strong national defense and aerospace power; educating the public about the latter's critical role; and supporting the Air Force and its families, according to its journal, "Air Force Magazine." 

AFA rosters include more than 125,000 members of the total force, Mr Largent said. The association represents Airmen from E-1 to O-10, including those on active duty, serving in the Reserve and Air National Guard, and retirees. 

Concerns gathered here will be in addition to the 14 "very specific" top issues of 2007, ranging from planes to planning, that AFA assembles and reports to Congress. Among those Mr Largent mentioned were aircraft modernization, recapitalization, infrastructure and strategy. 

"What they are, again, are the major stops along the road map, the strategy for the association to focus on this coming year," he said. 

One might characterize the list as a "living document." 

"We look at all of the issues that affect the United States Air Force," he said. "We are the voice for the Airmen to the public and Congress."

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