By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
MONTEREY, Calif. – Leaders from each of the services shared their perspectives on how to maintain community ties in an era of efficiencies, stewardship and renewable energy pursuits at a conference here today.
Craig College, deputy assistant chief of staff, installation management; Rear Adm. Dixon Smith, Navy southwest region commander; Jim Holland, deputy for Air Force installation policy; and Dave Clifton, Marine Corps Installation Command deputy spoke at the installation leadership forum during the 2012 Association of Defense Communities Annual Conference.
College lauded initiatives such as The Community Covenant, an Army program designed to foster and sustain effective state and community partnerships with all services to improve the quality of life for soldiers and their families at both current and future duty stations.
“It’s this partnering relationship without the exchange of cash, without the exchange of contracts, that gives me some optimism as we look to things like municipal services … that we have already (a) framework of cooperation that will permit us to figure out how to bring (more) of those kinds of support groups,” College said.
Holland spoke about the community support the Air Force received through a partnership regarding the service’s recent decision to base the F-35 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The partnership is important not only to the aircraft arrival in fiscal 2015, but also in December 2014 when the Air Force will make its next F-35 basing decision.
Air Force bases throughout the nation have seen local community partnership surges in ventures ranging from resorts to hotels and even to hyperbaric chambers, Holland said, but the aviation aspect is one of the larger pieces of the budget puzzle.
“For every dollar that a barrel of crude goes up, the aviation fuel bill goes up $600 million … so you can see why we watch this,” he said.
The volatility of the market is huge, Holland explained, stressing the urgency of the service looking to the commercial sector to help carry the load for alternative fuels.
Clifton shared Holland’s sentiment regarding budgetary tides. “The pace and volume of change is enormous right now,” he said. “For leadership to have clear priorities, we need to have a good idea about what we can do differently.”
Clifton said the Marine Corps has pushed efficiencies, paring where feasible and adding where needed, specifically with the addition of 22,000 Marines for war, land acquisitions at 29 Palms, Calif., and the in-sourcing of information technology and security forces assets.
Smith, whose command is headquartered in San Diego, acknowledged the vitality of the job market for military, contractors and retirees in his domain.
“One in four jobs in San Diego exists either because the individual is in the military, or a civilian employee of the Department of Defense or a contractor.”
“We cannot do anything within a stovepipe; we have to work with the community,” he said.
With just six months in the region, Dixon said, he already has been asked to join the board for Cleantech Group, a San Diego-based organization in collaboration with about 200 eco-centric companies to develop green solutions for business leaders in the military and private sectors.
“Our military forces and installations are phenomenal stewards of the environment,” Dixon said.