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Leadership symposium provides insight to senior leaders, spouses

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- The Air Force of today is more efficient, imposing and effective than at any other time in the nation's history. A significant contributor to that fact is the support of dedicated family members who sacrifice every day so the mission can continue smoothly.

But Air Force spouses often have the limited purview of only their military member's working perspective and role in U.S. air, space and cyberspace dominance.

Because Air force families are so vital to mission accomplishment, Brig. Gen. Dave Scott, 354th Fighter Wing Commander, hopes to provide insight and understanding of the Iceman Team mission to spouses of group and squadron commanders and their chief enlisted managers during a leadership symposium here Feb. 8-9.

"The goal of this symposium is for all senior leadership to get an understanding of where this wing is going and how they play a part in it," General Scott said. "Too often we get involved in our little stovepipes. This will allow each group to see what the others do and what they are proud of."

The first day is designed specifically to give the spouses a deeper understanding of Eielson and the mission Icemen perform. On day two, the commanders, chiefs and spouses will be split up into four groups. Each group will then board a bus on a day-long journey across the base.

"The intent behind taking each group on a tour of the base is to show them how each group contributes to the mission," said Capt. Jennifer Phillips, 354th Fighter Wing executive officer. "Although a majority of the chiefs and commanders already have a solid idea of how all of Eielson's facets work together to meet the mission, the tour will particularly arm the spouses with the knowledge to answer questions they may get from their spouses' troops or from other spouses. They themselves are also in an extremely important role."

Shirl Hafner, wife of Chief Master Sgt. (select) David Hafner, was thrilled to hear about the symposium.

"My husband was just inducted as a chief and all of this is new to me," Mrs. Hafner said. "I'm looking forward to the wealth of information I'll receive and it will be great to get to know my peers in the other groups on base. You can live on Eielson and not really know what goes on. This is a great chance to go out and see what each squadron does."

General Scott hopes each spouse, commander and chief will take something positive away from the symposium.

"This is an opportunity for everyone involved to build relationships and create a network they can fall back on," General Scott said. "And ultimately, they'll leave with a better understanding of where Eielson Air Force Base fits into the vision of the Air Force."

Chris Garcia, wife of Maj. Alex Garcia, 354th Services Squadron commander, is looking forward to the symposium with great anticipation.

"I think it's terrific that people will be taking time out of their busy work schedules to offer this especially for us," she said. "I also like the social aspect of possibly meeting a few new people that I might not normally get the opportunity to, or re-connecting with some others that I do not get to see very often. This is definitely a win/win situation for those who take advantage of it."

"It's a spouses right to know what's going on," General Scott said. "This will allow them to see what their husband or wife does. We will be more comfortable doing our mission, which might encompass going to war, knowing our spouses understand and are more knowledgeable about what is going on here at Eielson and in our Air Force."