Kari Goetz, Tampa International Airport
Military Day Briefing
Greetings fellow classmates, I’m Kari Goetz, your scribe for Military Day 2018. This is an UNCLASSIFIED information briefing. The purpose is to give an overview of Military Day for your personal records. Below I will outline the SOP for members who attended and an overview for those who missed the day.
During this briefing, I will attempt to include names or approximation of names of those who presented. All mistakes are mine, and I accept the Alpha Charlie I might receive for any unintended oversights.
As always, the day began with a bus ride. This time the target location was MacDill Air Force Base. Upon arrival, we were escorted to a briefing room. Special thanks to Bank of America for sponsoring the day and chest candy to Katie and Jackie from the Chamber for joining us Major Ryan Garlow, Lt. Col. John Schwartz, Brian Carson, Chief, Community Relations, U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), Office of Communication Operations, and Commander Meredith Seeley for providing the morning briefing and organizing our day.
We even received a fly by from the Commander of the 6th Air Mobility Wing, Col. April Vogel. (“Nobody kicks ass without tanker gas!”)
The first briefing opened our eyes to the realties facing our men and women in uniform. Tech Sgt. Cleveland Sanders walked us through the very real and very immediate needs and responsibilities facing a soldier on deployment. Deployment affects all people in the soldier’s life, from partners, to children, to the family pet.
We learned about the emotional cycle of deployment:
- Anticipation of Deployment
- Emotional Disorganization
- Anticipation of Return
All soldiers are in Constant Mission Readiness, prepared to deploy, with a family prepared to deploy.
There are several services on the base to assist all aspects of the deployment process – from financial assistance to employment assistance and emotional support and counseling. This Herculean task is accomplished by 2 readiness officers, 14 APF civilians and 9 contract civilians. The budget is tight and constantly at the mercy of decisions made in D.C.
It was an eye-opening briefing that left all of us with newfound perspective and understanding of the sacrifices made by our military families and the opportunities for the community to support.
Next, Lt Col John Schwartz, USAF Reserve (LT’15) Chief, Standardization and Evaluation (927th Operations Group), Maj Ryan Garlow, USAF (LT’17) 6 Maintenance Squadron Commander gave us the opportunity to run around in a KC-135 that was considerably older than anyone in LT ’18. With many KC-135s approaching their 39,000 flight hours, new standards are being created to get these critical planes to 60,000 hours and beyond. It is expected that many of the planes will fly past their 100th birthday. At a current value of $60M and an expected cost to build new aircraft of almost twice to three times that – the Air Force is committed to maintaining the current fleet.
Keeping on schedule, we received another briefing, this time on the MacDill Mission. That mission is to
In the air, with 5500 combat and non-combat aircraft and 2/3 of the nuclear triad.
In space, with 90% of all DOD assets, space launch bases, and navigation, timing, communication and weather satellites.
In cyberspace, with the DOD and Government networks gaining intelligence and acquisitions.
By the Numbers
48 Nations are represented at MacDill AFB
33 Units are on base
$2,802,766,833 is the economic impact of the base in Tampa Bay
19,978 Base employees
18 KC 135s, with 6 inbound
3 C-37A 375 Gulfstreams
Finally, we watched our fellow LT member, David Ferreira, get into full protective gear, because he is clearly the best sport in our entire class.
We then fell in for chow line and while we ate, Col. McHale gave us a briefing on the Special Operations Brotherhood. USSOCOM – J3 International is a “global network powered by trust,” because war is not something you go into alone. We learned about the exchange and interoperability and the overall of increased soft capabilities with like minded nations. As Col. McHale stated, “Business is good, there’s a lot of tasks in the world.”
We then heard from international representatives serving as Foreign Liaison Officers from the Netherlands, Denmark, and Lithuania. Equal parts hilarious and informative, we got a great deal of insight into how our culture is perceived.
Next, we were back on the bus for the Wargames Center of SOCOM. No cell phones, no smart watches, nothing that rings, beeps, dings, or otherwise alerts the enemy to your whereabouts.
So that was comforting.
Walking into the Wargames Center was like walking into the movie Wargames, only there was no Matthew Broderick and no one asked us if we wanted to play a nice game of chess.
Major General Slife, USSOCOM Chief of Staff gave us incredible insight into the 2,200 people who work at SOCOM, as well as an overview of the creation and purpose of the division. Today, 8,300 SOF are in 93 countries – Army Special Forces, Rangers, SEALS, Marine Corp SOF, Air Force Commandos, Army Civil Affairs, and Army Psychological Operations.
He shared with us his insights as a leader with a focus on inclusion and diversity and how these two elements cannot live independent of the other. As Maj General Slife shared, “Diversity is about brining as many perspectives as possible to the situation,” and inclusion “is valuing everyone’s perspectives.” He used the example that “Ducks can’t pick ducks,” meaning that you should find leaders that aren’t like you. I know I’ve called a lot of people ducks since I heard that.
We had a short Q&A with members of USSOCOM both active and retired and the interesting factoid that came out of the session was the operating budget of USSOCOM is $13B – or about the same as one aircraft carrier.
After an incredible demonstration by the brave K-9 unit at MacDill, we were on the bus and off to SOFWERX in Ybor City.
A former church, and an unassuming building, SOFWERX is providing a platform to increase collaboration and innovation to solve challenging warfighter problems. For the next 60 minutes, we alternated between being scared to death of the kinds of ways technology can kill us and hopeful that the incredible talent being developed and innovated at SOFWERX may keep that imminent death at bay a while longer. Special thanks to Tambrein Bates who lead us through the facility and his incredible staff for letting us see the next generation of warfighter tools.
And with that, my notes conclude as we loaded on the bus and reported back to our cars.
Many thanks to everyone who made the day possible and the generosity of their information and their love of country.