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Future leaders get the big picture at AETC Symposium

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Four of your Airmen represented the 162nd Fighter Wing at the Air Education and Training Command Symposium in San Antonio, Jan. 13-16.

It was wonderful for us to send our leaders of tomorrow to this important event and watch them alongside Airmen from all ranks; airman basic to general officer, together for a common focus.

Airman First Class Rebecca Garcia and Master Sgt. Jason Handa from maintenance and Senior Airman Ernest Sabori from operations joined me for the week to learn how AETC, the First Command, is training our Airmen of today - our leaders of tomorrow.

It gave me great pride to see our wing's future leaders among fellow Airmen from across our major command, and an even greater pride to see them broaden their views on command-wide issues.

The theme of this year's event was "Connect, Discover, Experience." Hosted by AETC Commander, Gen. Stephen Lorenz, more than 3,000 officers and enlisted converged at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, and were shown the latest developments in recruiting, training, education, technology and innovation.

General Lorenz in his opening remarks commented that "everyone with an AFSC has been touched by AETC."

I thought about what a true statement that was and how we can all take pride in being a part of that mission.

Over two days, Airmen heard from our top leaders; General Lorenz, Gen. (Ret.) Lloyd Newton and Gen. Raymond Hall. More than 90 breakout sessions offered interesting subjects for everyone. From "Personnel Issues for the Future" and breakouts on "Diversity and Recruiting" to "Remotely Piloted Aircraft" and "Our Journey into Space," there were subjects that caught everyone's attention.

I think it was best described by the most junior Airman in our travel party, Rebecca, who recognized the opportunity to network with other Airmen regarding education and training. She saw it as a chance of a lifetime to hear different perspectives from military leaders, civilians and veterans.

Airman Garcia seemed to shine with gratitude for the experience, and that's something I think as command chief we can all be inspired by. Any time you have the opportunity to attend a symposium, a training course, or conference, take it. It will give you a look at the big picture, it will energize you, and it will help you understand how what we do impacts the Air Force and the world.