Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
10/26/2012 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Air
Mobility Command is taking advantage of a single symposium to take the
place of 11 separate conferences that would have otherwise been held
throughout the past year.
To get there, officials had to re-imagine how to get the same value out
of 4-hour conferences at a single symposium that they had traditionally
received by holding several separate full 3- or 4-day conferences.
Officials decided to fully embrace virtual meetings for rudimentary
training throughout the year, and bring all the participants together
with a 4-hour capstone event at the Airlift Tanker Association annual
"This is a new approach to the way we come together for professional
development," said Lt. Gen. Robert Allardice, AMC vice commander. "This
gives us a chance to try something new--to try to use technology to help
us change the way we think about the number--and cost--of annual
conferences we've had in the past."
"We've already had hundreds of Airmen meet online where they have
accomplished formal coursework," Allardice said. "When they arrive at
the symposium our Airmen will be ready to interact with senior leaders
and participate in strategic-level discussions in a way different than
in the past."
"We're excited about trying to do things smarter," Allardice said. "And
we have a good plan to assess what works and apply lessons learned to
make it even better next year."
To that end AMC officials are making a strong push for formal and
informal feedback during and after the symposium. Every attendee will be
asked for their ideas about what worked and what could be improved.
"We'll continue to refine this approach for the optimal balance of
effectiveness and efficiency. We're already seeing some real advantages
to this approach," he said.
Over the course of the past year leading up to the capstone symposium,
Air Mobility Command worked to spread the activities for those
previously separate conferences over several weeks or months each, with
tools like video teleconferences and computer-based training taking the
place of many traditional meetings.
This year's conference brings together 1,900 Mobility Airmen and
industry partners Nov. 1 - 4. But with these across-the-board changes to
conferences in AMC, this year's symposium is significantly different,
"In previous years, the (Aircrew Training /Core Automated Maintenance
System) conferences, for instance, would meet for four days all at once
at Scott Air Force Base," said Lt. Col. Matt Whiat, director,
commander's action group. "This year, they have met by video or audio
teleconference throughout the year and now will only require a 4-hour
capstone training event, what we have taken to calling
Larger concerns within the Defense Department about the cost of big
conventions prompted the new approach. In shaping the new approach, AMC
officials gave some thought to what would be lost with a condensed
conference, officials said. In short, that missing ingredient would be
face-to-face interaction, meals and informal activities that naturally
occur at longer gatherings which "really provide a critical part of
professional development," said Whiat. Professional development does not
stop with formal academics and training, he said.
So officials decided that mini-conferences could work if they could also
capitalize on the other activities and team-building events like ATA
which provide the extra time together that is otherwise lost. "This
year's Airlift Tanker Association schedule of events complements
professional development and training goals that those 11 full
conferences typically provide," Whiat said.
For instance, a crud tournament is planned for the evenings after the
formal daily agenda is done. Crud is a modified version of billiards,
said Col. Robert Holba, who will act as tournament referee.
"Crud is a game that has a long tradition in the mobility community.
Aircrews would play it while awaiting missions during stage operations.
It's a good way after duty hours to promote esprit-de-corps among Airmen
of all ranks, and to give folks a chance to get to know each other
outside the seminar rooms."
The slate of activities offered to Airmen from mornings through after
duty hours, gives ATA attendees every opportunity to benefit from coming
together as a team, said the general.
"This is one of those rare chances we have to get together as a Mobility
Air Force," said Allardice. "And informal face-to-face interaction with
retired senior officer and enlisted leaders is critical to professional
development. One strength of combining our mini-conferences with the
annual ATA symposium is the cross-talk activities that allow for
informal mentoring and professional development. We get to take
advantage of the large venues to exchange feedback and participate in
"The bottom line is to develop Airmen who are ready to answer the call
when someone somewhere needs something, and rapidly provide the
conditions so others can prevail," said Allardice.