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Rallying at the top; AFSOC holds fall Commando Rally

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Lynette Rolen
  • Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

Air Force Special Operations Command’s senior leaders gathered at Hurlburt Field, Florida, for the fall Commando Rally from Oct. 21-24, 2019.

The rally centered on the vision for AFSOC in the year 2030 with guided group discussions on certain topics, but this was not the rally of the past.  

“Every piece clicked into place with this rally,” said Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, commander of AFSOC. This Commando Rally made it clear to Slife. During his time as commander, he said he will focus on “making the structural changes required to unleash the human capital in this command."

Slife continued, "We are bringing communities together and focusing on deliberate development of the command in order to build the force we need for the future.”

Participants of this fall’s rally broke off into working groups and teamed up to brainstorm, unrestrained, to develop the possibilities for where the command could be in 2030.

“This has been a great collaboration effort from General Slife,” said Col. Clay Freeman, 352nd Special Operations Wing commander. “He’s brought in all of the AFSOC enterprise, with all of the different insights, diversity of thought, backgrounds and experiences. It really shows that the AFSOC command team, General Slife and Chief Master Sgt. Cory Olson, truly care about the command and our Air Commandos. They’re bringing us all together to help determine what 2030 should look like for AFSOC.”

Chief Master Sgt. Hope Skibitsky, Cannon Air Force Base’s first female command chief, attended the rally—her third since serving in her position. Skibitsky commented on the significance of this particular rally.

“This one is vastly different,” said Skibitsky. “This isn’t ‘where I’m standing now (as a command).’ This isn’t ‘where we were and where we’re going.’ This is ‘where should we be?’ This is a lot of forward thought on how to better project Air Force Special Operations Forces. To get to be a part of such strategic thought is incredible.”

Past rallies have typically been in the format of information presentation to the participants. This fall’s rally allowed the participants to interact directly with Slife and with one another.  

“He and Chief Olson could have come up with a lot of this stuff on their own,” said Freeman. “The fact that he brought in all of the command teams and senior enlisted leaders shows he values our inputs. They want us to have buy-in with what’s going forward for 2030.”

Groups were given every liberty to generate a variety of solutions for scenarios that could affect the command.

“He’s given us the bandwidth to think through some of these big, complex problem sets that are going to be applying to the people in this room for the next 10 years,” said Freeman. “He wants us to own that.”

The group discussions permitted participants to learn from one another’s strengths.

“I have really loved learning from people in different roles,” said Skibitsky. “I’ve appreciated sitting at the table and hearing what somebody else found as a struggle that I hadn’t even thought about. I really enjoyed listening to what someone else saw as a potential fix for a problem. There are just things that one person can’t think their way through. Together, everyone can bring a little bit to it and all of a sudden, we have what smells like a solution.”

As participants finished their group discussions, they presented potential solutions for their team’s scenario to command leadership, including Slife, Olson, guest advisors from Air Force and United States Special Operations Command.

“I am excited about the insights I got,” said Slife. “We have extraordinary talent in this command and it all culminated with great insights from each of the teams. I wanted to listen, hear and learn. Not every Commando Rally will look like this, but this was exactly what this one needed to be.”