by Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade
Headquarters Air Mobility Command
11/6/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- A
sea of blue filled the Orlando World Center Marriot, Florida. No, the
resort was not filled with water, but with more than 1,500 U.S. Air
Force Airmen from across the globe.
Airmen from a wide range of specialties attended Oct. 29 through Nov. 1,
to learn about this year's theme, 'Mobility Airmen's excellence in
action in the past, present and future' during the 47th Annual
Airlift/Tanker Association Convention and Air Mobility Symposium.
The symposium serves as a key professional development forum for Air Mobility Command's Total Force Airmen.
AMC selects 98 Airmen to attend the symposium. The Airmen are divided
into classes by rank - Phoenix Stripe for E-5 and E-6, High Flight for
O-1 to 0-3 and Cornerstone for civilians. They are provided a specific
agenda dedicated to learning topics their ranks will benefit from the
They are also provided direct access to senior Air Force leaders
including the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Chief of Staff of
the Air Force and Mobility leaders, Gen. Darren McDew, the U.S.
Transportation Command commander, and Gen. Carlton Everhart, AMC
commander. The environment fosters open dialogue and honest discussions.
Another benefit of the symposium is a large amount of mobility Airmen in
one place at one time. This was the first opportunity the new Air
Mobility Command commander, was able to speak to so many Mobility Airmen
in person. During his time addressing the professional development
classes, he discussed how their jobs impact' the overall Rapid Global
Mobility mission. He told them AMC is the only command that can enable
and sustain United States military missions by providing a refueling
service no one else can, swift airdrops, aerial refueling and
"Rapid Global Mobility is essential to our nation's response, and there
is a growing need for what we do," said Everhart. "The key to the
mobility enterprise, past, present and future, is well-educated and
professionally developed Airmen. In order to shape our global
enterprise, we must face challenges and find ways to succeed against
overwhelming odds. Because our nation needs Mobility Airmen to lead us
to a future where today's innovations will become routine."
As examples, he referenced the Mobility Airmen who helped design the
C-5M Super Galaxy, C-130J Super Hercules and KC-46A. Everhart described
the C-5M as a game changer in terms of speed, payload and mission
reliability. He called the C-130J one of the most flexible airlifters in
the world, then he posed questions to the audience.
"The fleet is in a good place right now, but what about the future? What
will the airlift aircraft look like and what new capabilities will it
bring? How will we use directed energy, hypersonic, nano-technology or
remotely piloted aircraft? Are the answers in the technologies that the
next tanker or airlifter will utilize, or will they use something that
hasn't been imagined yet? These are only a few questions remaining for
Mobility Airmen to solve while training to prepare for the future."
One of the attendees, Staff Sgt. Heather Clifton, fire protection
journeyman in the 628th Civil Engineer Squadron at Joint Base
Charleston, S.C., said she didn't know what to expect from the symposium
when she was notified she was selected by leadership to attend.
This is her first time working for Air Mobility Command in her
seven-year career. Since she joined, she has worked for Air Combat
Command and Pacific Air Force Command. She has been at working for AMC
for a year now.
In fire protection, the Airman's main job is to protect the aircraft
according to Clifton, who hadn't realized what a small piece her career
field plays in the big puzzle of Rapid Global Mobility.
"This convention put into perspective of how well we [AMC] provide
global mobility and how much we do for the rest of the Air Force.. "I
was really in awe," said Clifton.
The AT/A convention motivated her to be a better mentor and leader for
her Airman, Clifton said. She had an opportunity to talk to Everhart
after he gave his keynote speech on the last day. After his speech, he
addressed Phoenix Stripe for a discussion.
Clifton asked the general, "How do you bring people together and inspire
them?" He replied, "You just have to love your people and love what you
do," she said.
Out of the more than 50 seminars available at A/TA, Clifton said the
best briefing she attended was called, "Mentoring-How We Do It," which
consisted of a panel with the three male generals and one female
lieutenant colonel. She said she got a good perspective from all
spectrums on what it takes to be a mentor.
"If you are a good leader, you inspire others to want to get the job
done well," she said. "Professional development is mentoring your Airmen
so they can be better than you are now when they get to your rank. It
takes leadership and mentoring to help them accomplish this, and that's
what I intend to take back to my work center... Hopefully [this
information] will broaden our small career field of fire protection."
In the beginning, she was a little uncertain what she would learn,
especially since she was new to AMC. But after it was all done, Clifton
said she is glad she had the opportunity, even though it took her
outside of her comfort level.
For those who are interested in attending the Mobility Symposium as part
of the Phoenix Stripe Program in the future, Clifton provided some
"Take the time to notice your weaknesses, improve upon them and ask
leadership questions. It will help you figure out your impact in the big
mobility mission," she said. "Overall I learned, if you develop Airmen
to be the best they can be, and you inspire them both professionally and
on a personal level, Airmen are going to want to work for those
leaders, because they know their leaders care about them. Gen. Everhart
is very inspiring and makes me want to do the mission based on how much
he cares for people."