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NEWS | Aug. 1, 2006

18 AF commander shares viewpoints with CAFB

By Senior Airman Alice Moore 437 AW Public Affairs

Charleston AFB will host the 18th Air Force Commanders and Command Chiefs Conference Wednesday and Thursday at the Charleston Club. 

Maj. Gen. James Hawkins, 18 AF commander, and more than 70 wing commanders and command chiefs from the numbered Air Force will be here for the two-day conference. 

"Charleston was handpicked by General Hawkins to host the commanders conference," said Col. Steven Harrison, 437th Airlift Wing vice commander. "This year's conference theme is 'Lean Solutions for the Future.' " 

The conference will concentrate on addressing key operational and organizational issues, maximizing interaction between wing leaders and facilitating the cross flow of best practices. 

"Cross-talk, sharing ideas and best practices are just good common sense. However, there is no substitute for meeting in person," said General Hawkins. "In this day of e-mail and video teleconferences, it's sometimes easy to forget how important it is to meet face to face, look one another in the eye and have an open unrestricted dialogue between leaders." 

General Hawkins also said as busy as 18 AF leaders can get, the conference allows leadership a chance to get away from their computers, phones and staff so they can be afforded the freedom to concentrate on the broader AMC and 18 AF perspective rather than just issues facing their own units. 

"This is really a historic occasion. It's the first time we've met since the implementation of the Warfighting Headquarters construct. This year's conference will include our AFTRANS or 18AF staff in addition to the commanders and command chiefs," he said. We'll be solidifying the foundation upon which AFTRANS staff is built, ensuring everyone knows what everyone else brings to the fight and focusing our operations and support as U.S. Transportation Command's air component. We'll also be concentrating on how to deploy the new Air Force Smart Ops 21 strategy." 

As the Global War on Terrorism continues, Gen. Hawkins also said he doesn't foresee the operations tempo changing because the 18 AF will need to continue to make necessary contributions. 

"We will continue to deliver troops, equipment and supplies to the front, to return our wounded to medical care to the continental U.S. and to respond to humanitarian crises around the globe," he said. "The operations tempo will not be changing in the near-term. This Global War on Terrorism we are involved in is more of a marathon than a sprint. Therefore we have to be vigilant, prepared and ready to respond wherever around the globe these terrorists may try to strike out at freedom." 

General Hawkins also discussed how important the C-17 and Team Charleston has been to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

"The C-17 has been tremendously important. It's vitally important to America's air mobility fleet. Without the rapid global mobility the C-17 provides, we would be unable to maintain exceptional support for the warfighters," he said. "The AMC Commander, Gen. Duncan McNabb, and I are tremendously proud of the effort put forth by the men and women of Charleston AFB. The selfless dedication of our personnel and the support of their families is what makes our Air Force great. We can't say thank you enough for what they do."