An Airman's view of the Air Warfare Symposium

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- When the subject of the Air Warfare Symposium came up at our weekly staff meeting a few weeks ago, I didn't think much of it. That is, until my supervisor said "David, why don't you go to this?"

So last Thursday morning I found myself on a bus in full dress blues with 45 other members of the 45th Space Wing on our way to Orlando. I didn't say much on the trip over there, mainly because I was thinking: "Why am I going to this? Is there another more important job I could be helping my co-workers with?"

I can say now I needn't have worried about that. Going was a very positive experience, allowing me to:

Mingle with Airmen from other bases. One sergeant was impressed that a one-stripe Airman had been allowed to come. I also got to know fellow Airmen from Patrick better, including my first sergeant. He had just come off a long deployment that began not long after I arrived at Patrick, so having the chance to speak with him about which overseas assignment is best and the Air Force in general was a treat.

See what government contractors provide to the Air Force, from aircraft engines to complete helicopters. One display I found useful was by a handgun manufacturer. People could actually handle the weapons being displayed, which had been rendered incapable of firing. As I haven't trained on handguns yet, it was cool to be able to hold the weapon and learn some basics about its operation, while at the same time not having to worry about injuring someone!

Come closer than most other first-term Airmen to not only the Air Force Chief of Staff, but several other four-star generals to boot. Listening to their speeches on the direction the Air Force is heading in and what needs to be done in the future was most educational. 

And finally, just before I left, I shook hands and exchanged pleasantries with an Air Attache from the Royal Air Force. I can only hope that if and when the situation is reversed I am as good a representative of America as he was of Great Britain.

As an Airman who has only seen two Air Force bases (Lackland and Patrick) in my short career, going to the Air Warfare Symposium showed me what else is going on in the Air Force beyond the launch towers on Cape Canaveral and the flightline at Patrick.

It's a big, blue world out there. I know that now.