AF bolsters symbiotic relationship with community

  • Published
  • By Dr. Wayne Clark
  • 81st Mission Support Group Deputy Director
Keesler Air Force base and local community leaders hosted an Air Force Community Partnership Program Agreements Workshop Oct. 24-25 at the University of Mississippi Long Beach Campus.

This was the continuation of the Air Force and local community leaders discussing initiatives to strengthen their partnerships.

The teams developed the initiatives through brainstorming, prioritized their ideas with leadership committee, and now worked to formalize the ideas into written agreements.

The agreement workshop included breakout sessions for teams to analyze each partnership concept. In these sessions, each work group shared the results of their due diligence and then guided through a problem solving and plan development process by the facilitation team.

By the event conclusion, participants identified and eliminated possible roadblocks in the steps to document the priority partnerships into agreements.

There are currently nine active initiatives involving firing ranges, metropolitan planning organization memberships, hurricane evacuations, drones, education/training/crossflow, Keesler AFB redevelopment, food for the homeless, bike sharing and volunteerism. The agreements workshop allowed each team to work the initiatives through their assigned partnerships using AFCP references and resources.

As an added treat, Mr. Fred Meurer, former Monterey, California city manager, provided a briefing on the Monterey Model during the leadership committee out brief during the final session.

The roots of the AF Community Partnership Program go back to 2012, when Ms. Kathy Ferguson, former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy, heard Meurer speak about this topic in Monterey, California. His effort to develop collaborative regional planning and installation services for the military installations and surrounding civilian communities gained national prominence with DOD referring to it as the Monterey Model.

The leadership committee, here, consisted of Keesler AFB leadership, Mississippi representatives from state and local communities, and various civic leaders. This meeting provided an opportunity for stakeholders to continue to be involved in the progress and facilitate completion of nine current partnership projects.

This was also the fourth and final stage of the formal AFCP meeting schedule. From this point forward, Keesler’s Mississippi Gulf Coast Leadership Committee will drive/direct the local AFCP program and develop initiatives with the help of Headquarters Air Force, but without out going through the formal meeting process.

Keesler will hold smaller meetings and focus more on return on investment initiatives to try to get the most out of the AFCP program.
The program at Keesler will always be part of the Air Force Public-Public, Public-Private initiative that encourages installations and local communities to combine or improve resources or operating processes.

Since October 2012, the Air Force’s AFCP program has generated more than 1,000 initiatives and 250 agreements that generated $32 million in Air Force benefits and $24 million in community benefits. Keesler’s goal is to make major contributions to these numbers in the coming years.
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