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Civic leaders tour Schriever

Civic leaders tour Schriever

Air Force civic leaders learn about GPS operations at the 2nd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Oct. 2, 2018. The tour was part of the Air Force Civic Leader Tour Program, which helps key community leaders understand and advocate the Air Force’s diverse missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Wes Wright)

Civic leaders tour Schriever

Capt. Wolf Thielmann, assistant director of operations with the 4th Space Operations Squadron, briefs about military satellite communications to members of the Air Force Civic Leader Tour Program at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Oct. 2, 2018. The group of 30 key community leaders visited Schriever AFB to gain a better understanding of the space mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Wes Wright)

Civic leaders tour Schriever

Members of the Air Force Civic Leader Tour Program listen to a briefing on space in Building 300 at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Oct. 2, 2018. The group was at Schriever AFB to gain a better understanding of how the space mission is integral to the military and civilian way of life. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Wes Wright)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Twenty-four civic leaders experienced the mission, Airmen and culture of the 50th Space Wing during a tour at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Oct. 2.

The tour was part of the Air Force Civic Leader Tour Program, which is an Air Staff-level program whose membership is comprised of community leaders from across the country.

“Our civic leaders are advocates for airpower and the Air Force,” said Tynisha Jones-Vincent, opinion leader branch chief with the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs office. “In order for them to advocate on behalf of the Air Force, we have to ensure they’re informed about our missions.”

The tour began with a space mission briefing hosted by Brig. Gen. DeAnna Burt, director of operations and communications with Headquarters, Air Force Space Command. A lunch with Airmen and briefings at the 2nd and 4th Space Operations Squadrons followed.

GPS was a highlight of the day for many.

“Most Americans can identify with GPS because they use it all the time,” Jones-Vincent said. “GPS is a great point in communicating the importance of space. We want them to understand why GPS is important to the military, but to them personally as well.”

Todd Fleming, chief of community outreach with SECAF/PA, said a key point of emphasis was ensuring the civic leaders understood the bigger picture of space.

“What we’re hoping they understand is just how important space is to our warfighters as a warfighting domain,” Fleming said. “Then, they can take that information and communicate, educate and inform other publics. We want them to understand our role as stewards of that domain.”

Attendees were nominated through various major commands before being selected to be part of the prestigious Air Force-level program.

“Nominees are selected based on their diverse jobs, geographic factors and interest in the Air Force,” Fleming said. “They are positioned in communities all across America. So, what we’re doing is ensuring they understand the importance of the space mission and what the priorities are, so when they are talking to other groups they can help them understand why space is so important to our country and national defense.”

In addition to monthly phone conferences, attendees meet approximately three times a year, touring various Air Force missions and engaging with senior Air Force leaders.

Bruce Gjovig, a civic leader from North Dakota, was one of the attendees who understands the importance of space.

“I think it’s important civilians understand how space fits into our national defense,” Gjovig said. “We specifically asked to have a briefing on space because of the national conversation on the subject. Many of our bases don’t have a direct part in the space mission, so we wanted to know more so we could be better advocates.”

Gjovig has been a member of the program since 2016 and chose the Air Force as the branch he wanted to support for a specific reason: the people.

“The more I got involved, I decided I believed in and supported its mission,” he said. “Airmen are absolutely outstanding. For as young as they are, especially here at Schriever, they are so mature and focused, which is terrific. Then you take a look at the bigger picture and it reminds you how much your mission impacts everyone’s life. It’s not just the military, it’s all of commerce.”

Gjovig said he was leaving Schriever AFB with a better understanding of space and a particular impression of the base’s Airmen.

“They are superior, dedicated people,” he said. “They are asked to do a big job and come through every time. Their call to service is extraordinary.”

The group’s next event is the State of the Air Force meeting in Washington, D.C. early next year.