Past, present CE leaders meet to share knowledge

  • Published
  • By Lauren Marcinkowski
  • Air Force Directorate of Civil Engineers Strategic Communications
Former Air Force civil engineer senior leaders joined forces with their present-day counterparts to talk about the current CE operating environment, offer feedback and reconnect with colleagues during the Air Force Directorate of Civil Engineers’ annual Founders Day Oct. 30 in Crystal City, Virginia.

Hosted by Air Force Director of Civil Engineers Brig. Gen. Timothy Green, the main component of this year's event was a founders' forum, where the general talked with attendees about developments and challenges currently facing the civil engineering community. More than 30 retired CE leaders from around the country attended the forum, including former Air Force civil engineers, deputy civil engineers, civil engineer senior enlisted advisors and major command civil engineers.

The group discussed recent and ongoing organizational changes, such as Air Force headquarters restructuring, the creation of the provisional Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center and the overall health of the CE enterprise. During the event, retired leaders shared lessons learned from past experiences to help guide the way ahead and offer insight for Green and other current leaders.

Gathering former leaders together is important for CE, "to make sure that we don't repeat the mistakes of the past," said retired Chief Master Sgt. Richard Park.

Although the services provided by civil engineers have remained fairly consistent over time, the operating environment has changed significantly.

”When I came on active duty in 1979, we were in the budget slump that followed Vietnam,” said retired Lt. Col. Will Dean. "But, as money began to flow in the Reagan era, decentralized execution was deemed most effective for obligating funds and executing programs."

Attendees also discussed how their experiences, especially time spent working side-by-side with mission customers on installations, might provide insight for the civil engineer enterprise as it works through the move to greater centralization.

"Decentralized (civil engineering) is ideal because you can interface better with the customer; however, reduced funding makes centralization necessary," retired Col. Dave DeFoliart said.

Foremost on the minds of everyone in attendance, however, was helping current leaders take care of CE Airmen.

"I want civil engineers to know how important (their work) is to the Air Force,” said retired Col. Mark Perodeau, a former group commander. “Planes don't fly without a runway. Your part makes a difference."

(Erin Maloney contributed to this story)