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Military leaders, local business leaders brainstorm at community partnership forum

By Steve Elliott | Joint Base San Antonio Public Affairs | March 7, 2017

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas —

“Today is about mutually beneficial relationships and the only thing stopping us is our imagination.”

Brig. Gen. Heather Pringle, 502nd Air Base Wing and Joint Base San Antonio commander, opened the Air Force Community Partnership Program Public-Public; Public-Private Partnerships Refresh Meeting at the Alamo Area Council of Governments Feb. 8 with that statement and it set a tone for the rest of the day’s events and discussions.

“Nothing is off the table,” the general continued. “We want to enhance this community and we should be able to come up with all sorts of ideas. These sessions strengthen our ties with the community and makes us better partners with the community.”

The Public-Public/Public-Private, or P4, Community Partnership Program between Joint Base San Antonio, businesses and public entities in the San Antonio area allows JBSA and the 502nd Air Base Wing to enter into partnerships in the community to provide, receive or share installation support services for many of its municipal and morale, welfare and recreation functions.

The first JBSA Community Partnership Ideas Workshop was held in February 2014 with leaders throughout the San Antonio regional area gathering to discuss opportunities for community partnerships, with the San Antonio governance charter signed in August 2014.

The 502nd ABW commander at the time, then-Brig. Gen. Bob LaBrutta, selected the following four priorities to focus on: improving facilities/systems/infrastructure sustainment; accelerating energy efficiency; preserving quality of life programs; and encroachment management.

The Community Partnership Program is a framework to match installation and community needs and resources to increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve quality of life, as well as facilitating and sparking brainstorming of partnership ideas.

While these community partnership proposals work to maximize the array of tools and authorities available, they are not meant to work around or outside of existing authorities and roles/responsibilities, according to Rod Oxford, JBSA Community Partnership Manager.

“The City of San Antonio is ready to be part of this,” said retired Marine Maj. Gen. Juan Ayala, formerly the Inspector General of the Marine Corps and now director of the City of San Antonio Department of Government and Public Affairs. “The city is ready to go and we’re going to find a way to come to a ‘yes’ on whatever we can.”

After comments and briefings from other local JBSA and community leaders, the attendees split up for a series of breakout sessions to address specific requirements , such as installation support, logistics and force protection, force support and civil engineering. These sessions were aimed at brainstorming ideas, prioritizing those ideas and developing a way forward to execute the ideas.

Attendees were tasked to pursue the “art of the possible” for mutual value and benefit, understand the process of partnership development and identify requirements that might be met by partnering.

Reconvening after the breakout sessions, the attendees came back with numerous ideas to tackle myriad  projects such as replacement of the Kelly Airfield air traffic control tower; a project of interest to the business located at the Port of San Antonio and the Air Force and upgrades at the Growden gate to improve access at JBSA-Lackland for commercial traffic.  Some attendees discussed ways to partner the military and civilian entities in training opportunities, such as between the San Antonio Police Department and JBSA security forces.

The attendees plan to meet again May 25 for a quarterly community partnership meeting to discuss furthering the goals brought up during the refresh meeting.

“We’re well on our way on becoming the premier installation in the Department of Defense and this is one step in that process,” Pringle said. “We’ve identified a lot of opportunities here and it’s up to us to take it to the next level, add the momentum and take it to execution.

“The rest of the Air Force is looking at what we are doing here,” the general added. “In fact, Lt. Gen. Daryl Roberson, commander of the Air Education and Training Command, recently met with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to discuss P4 opportunities.”

“This also makes a great case on the economic impact JBSA has on the City of San Antonio and the state of  Texas,” Ayala said.

“There was a lot of energy and great progress made,” Pringle added. “We are honored to be part of this community and honored to be working toward these mutually beneficial relationships.”