JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. —
Approximately 2,000 attendees participated in forums, listened to speeches and attended workshops at the 51st Airlift/Tanker Association Convention, Technology Expo and Industry Interface, Oct. 23-26, in Orlando, Florida.
The ATA conference is a professional development opportunity for Air Mobility Command personnel and total force mobility partners in the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard.
Col. Terrence Adams, commander of Joint Base Charleston and the 628th Air Base Wing, said the conference brings together mobility Airmen across the command and allows them to connect, recharge and talk about tough mobility challenges.
“We have Airmen here from both wings – the 628th and 437th – and I really want them to learn about those tough challenges,” said Adams. “They get an opportunity to hear from speakers and learn about big challenges across the Air Force, not just in mobility. I also want them to build relationships and have fun.”
Tech. Sgt. Marnicia Toliver, assigned to the 628th Medical Group commander’s support staff, said her experience at the ATA conference gave her the opportunity to put her day-to-day job back into perspective and align with AMC’s missions and priorities.
“Every single day it’s a different change, it’s a different progress [and] it’s a different expectation,” said Toliver. “How can we be an all-encompassing Air Force that hallmarks innovation if we are not constantly plugged in? Reaching out into a different career field [has] really expanded my knowledge on the overall Air Force mission.”
Toliver added that this was her first time attending a professional development event outside of her primary career field, and she encouraged other Airmen to broaden their horizons whenever they can.
“I would definitely say for any other Air Force member out there, definitely take advantage of this opportunity because it gives you a different picture of what you do each and every day,” she said.
Senior Airman Alex Harris, a passenger service agent assigned to the 437th Aerial Port Squadron, also attended the ATA conference for the first time. He said the experience was eye-opening and pointed out the benefits of networking.
“I definitely met a good group of people that I’ve been enjoying the conference with, having good laughs and just enjoying the experience as a whole,” said Harris. “I get to share similar experiences with other individuals.”
Airmen from several career fields across Joint Base Charleston attended the conference to strengthen collaboration with partners and better understand the perspectives of leaders at the Air Force and DOD-level.
“We’ve had some great key note addresses,” said Col. Dan Dobbels, 437th Operations Group commander. “We heard from the Undersecretary of the Air Force [and] the Air Force Vice Chief of Staff. It’s very interesting to hear what the senior leaders are thinking, see the way the strategic landscape is shifting and some of the challenges that they need our help with.”
He added that the conference benefitted senior leaders and junior Airmen alike.
“There’s something for everybody here,” he said. “Whether you work at the fitness center or on the flightline turning wrenches, it takes that entire team to come together to do what it is that we do.”
Dobbels, who has attended several ATA conferences in his 22 years of service, explained how every single experience has been different.
“When I was a lieutenant, I was able to connect with a group of peers; and now as a group commander, I am able to connect with a whole different group of people,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to learn from each other and from all the senior leaders who are here, and hear their viewpoints and be able to ask questions directly to them. It’s also a great opportunity to reconnect with people that you haven’t seen in a long time and learn what’s happening at other bases.”