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PACAF hosts Air Force civic leaders

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, far left, and members of the Air Force Civic Leader Program greet Airmen assigned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Oct. 14, 2014. At the invitation of Welsh, and hosted by Pacific Air Forces, the civic leaders spent three days visiting military installations and units to gain a hands-on understanding of the missions and capabilities of the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard, and their respective contributions to the Pacific Rebalance. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Lucelia Ball)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, far left, and members of the Air Force Civic Leader Program greet Airmen assigned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Oct. 14, 2014. At the invitation of Welsh, and hosted by Pacific Air Forces, the civic leaders spent three days visiting military installations and units to gain a hands-on understanding of the missions and capabilities of the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard, and their respective contributions to the Pacific Rebalance. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Lucelia Ball)

Lt. Col. Justin Spears briefs members of the Air Force Civic Leader Program on the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing mission and the capabilities of the F-22 Raptor during the group’s visit to the wing’s new operations and maintenance facility Oct. 14, 2014, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. At the invitation of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, and hosted by Pacific Air Forces, the civic leaders spent three days visiting military installations and units to gain a hands-on understanding of the missions and capabilities of the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard, and their respective contributions to the Pacific Rebalance. Spears is an F-22 pilot and commander of the 19th Fighter Squadron assigned to the Hawaii ANG’s 154th WG. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Lucelia Ball)

Lt. Col. Justin Spears briefs members of the Air Force Civic Leader Program on the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing mission and the capabilities of the F-22 Raptor during the group’s visit to the wing’s new operations and maintenance facility Oct. 14, 2014, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. At the invitation of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, and hosted by Pacific Air Forces, the civic leaders spent three days visiting military installations and units to gain a hands-on understanding of the missions and capabilities of the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard, and their respective contributions to the Pacific Rebalance. Spears is an F-22 pilot and commander of the 19th Fighter Squadron assigned to the Hawaii ANG’s 154th WG. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Lucelia Ball)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AFNS) -- Members of the Air Force Civic Leader Program traveled to Hawaii Oct. 14-16, to participate in a military tour highlighting the Pacific Rebalance.

"The goal of the Air Force Civic Leader Program is to educate and inspire influential civic leaders who act as third party advocates for the Air Force," said Wendy Varhegyi, the Headquarters Air Force Engagement Division chief. "Bringing them here to the Pacific provided an incredible opportunity to show firsthand the Pacific Rebalance."

The first day of the tour established the strategic importance of the military in the Pacific with mission briefings from U.S. Pacific Command and Pacific Air Forces, providing the group an overall understanding of what Airmen are doing across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

The focus shifted to the tactical level as the day progressed, featuring one-on-one exchanges with young Airmen, a laboratory tour provided by forensic anthropologists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and a visit to the Hawaii Air National Guard's brand new, state-of-the art Sen. Daniel K. Inouye F-22 Fighter Squadron Operations and Aircraft Maintenance Facility.

During days two and three, the group traveled across Oahu visiting multiple military installations on the island and gaining an invaluable perspective on the contributions of each military branch to the PACOM mission. The civic leaders learned about joint dynamics through hands-on activities and open discussions with service members, delivering an in-depth look into the mission of each component while also providing a glimpse of the overall multi-service partnership throughout the Pacific.

"There are not many places where we have the opportunity to highlight how we are operating across all the services and the joint environment," Varhegyi said. "The Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen we met this trip have been fantastic and inspirational. We enjoyed the experience immensely."

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III annually hosts the Air Force civic leaders with the goal of education. The program and its civic leader visits to military installations serve to better inform communicators in the civilian community and advocates for Air Force issues.

"Our relationship with the military community is critical, and it's not just for financial or moral support," said David Nesbett, Air Force civic leader. "We want our military to know we are there for them in the same way we trust the military is there for us."

The Air Force Chief of Staff Civic Leader Program is an Air Staff-level program comprised of civic leaders selected by officials from Air Force major commands, the National Guard Bureau and Headquarters Air Force.

"What helps with community involvement is developing an understanding of the two different cultures and bridging the gap," Nesbett said. "When we can work together and we can understand each other, we can accomplish truly great things."

(Information provided by Headquarters Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs)

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