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Key AF leaders speak to Airmen at developmental seminar

Eric Fanning, the under secretary of the Air Force, listens as Staff Sgt. Karin Nelson asks a questions about reserve duty during the annual Air Force District of Washington Capital Airman Seminar Dec. 16, 2014, on Joint Base Andrews, Md.,. Fifty-one enlisted, officer, and civilian Airmen were selected from across the National Capital Region to attend the four-day professional development seminar. Nelson, a reservist aerospace medical technical assigned to the 459th Air Refueling Wing, is on active-duty orders at the AFDW. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Tammie Moore)

Eric Fanning, the under secretary of the Air Force, listens as Staff Sgt. Karin Nelson asks a questions about reserve duty during the annual Air Force District of Washington Capital Airman Seminar Dec. 16, 2014, on Joint Base Andrews, Md.,. Fifty-one enlisted, officer, and civilian Airmen were selected from across the National Capital Region to attend the four-day professional development seminar. Nelson, a reservist aerospace medical technical assigned to the 459th Air Refueling Wing, is on active-duty orders at the AFDW. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Tammie Moore)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. (AFNS) -- The Air Force District of Washington's annual Capital Airman Seminar, designed to enhance the development future Air Force leaders from across the National Capital Region, kicked-off here Dec. 16.

The four-day seminar features mentorship sessions hosted by senior-level Air Force leaders including Eric Fanning, the under secretary of the Air Force, and Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Spencer.

The 11th Wing Commander Col. Bradley Hoagland served as a senior mentor for the event attended by a select group of more than 50 mid-level Airmen, officers, and civilians.

"Each and every one of you were nominated by your division chiefs, directors, or commanders, to attend this seminar," he said. "You are the best of the best in your organization. Take this opportunity to meet the people who sit beside you, and build that relationship. If there is an issue that is really concerning to you, take this as an opportunity to ask those questions."

Seminar senior mentor Chief Master Sgt. Rebecca Parker, the 11th Operations Group superintendent, stressed to the group why mentorship opportunities like this are important.

"You're the future of the Air Force," she said. "You're the ones who are going to take the Air Force into the next century, next millennium ... be proud of that. Take the time to learn from the leaders who will be here throughout the week. Ask questions because they do care, they wouldn't be here if they didn't."

Fanning spent an hour with the group. He talked about the nearly 20 months he's spent as under secretary -- including six months as acting secretary, when he traveled to over 50 bases, visiting Airmen and learning about Air Force missions.

"I really got to know the Air Force in a way I hadn't before," Fanning said. "I was struck by a couple of things. I had worked in the Pentagon, I had worked on (Capitol) Hill ... but I didn't know anything about the Air Force, it turned out. I had so much to learn ... I was struck by how many missions the Air Force has; I was really struck by the people."

But, Fanning said, he has since come to feel the Air Force is the place to be, going forward.

"I think the Air Force is poised to be the dominate service," Fanning said. "The Air Force is integrated into what all of the other forces do from start to finish. Without the Air Force, the Navy, Marine Corps, and the Army would have to fundamentally change how they fight. You can't say that about any other service -- you can only say that about the Air Force. It is the one service that all the other services are dependent upon."

He also discussed the 2014 manpower and budget cuts.

"We are terrible at cutting the mission," Fanning said. "(Congress is) cutting our budget -- what aren't we going to do? That part of the conversation is really difficult to have. (But) that is really what we're trying to get at: the size of the Air Force (where) we're manned properly so that we're not killing our people and we have time for development."

After the Airmen engaged a question and answer session with Fanning, the Air Force District of Washington Commander Maj. Gen. Darryl Burke discussed leadership with the group and left them with a piece of advice.

"I honestly believe that you should do the best job you can, in the job you are in and things will take care of them self," he said. "You will be given leadership opportunities and people will recognize the capabilities that you have. But remember that what this is truly about every day is what you do in the position you are in, how you support your boss, and the folks who work underneath you."

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