NEWS | Dec. 26, 2020

AFCEC brings together engineers, senior leaders during virtual symposium

By Mila Cisneros Air Force Installation and Mission Support CenterPublic Affairs

Civil engineers and senior leaders from across the Department of Defense met in a virtual setting Dec. 16-17 to discuss new policies and a path forward for military construction programs in a rapidly changing execution environment. 

Sponsored by the Air Force Civil Engineer Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, the 14th annual Design and Construction Partnering Symposium was themed “Adapting to Change with Success.” 

Alongside Brig. Gen. John Allen, AFCEC commander, 400 military members and civilians from the Air Force, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command and the Office of the Secretary of Defense were in attendance to share views and gain insights on new policies, initiatives and procedures affecting military construction planning and execution. 

This two-day assembly allowed participants to hear views from the top, a session which many had eagerly anticipated. 

“There was a keen interest in engaging in a dialogue with the policymakers and senior leaders on policies and strategies to advance MILCON execution,” said Col. Dave Norton, director of AFCEC’s Facility Engineering Directorate. 

Norton emphasized the value of the recurring event to maintain the successful collaboration across all services in carrying out the MILCON program. 

“This specific partnership event helped establish a common level of understanding and unity of purpose among the Air Force, USACE, NAVFAC and the OSD as we work collaboratively to effectively execute the Air Force and Space Force MILCON program,” Norton said.

The 2020 symposium created another invaluable opportunity to bring the DOD community together to address the challenges of adapting MILCON programs to changing times. 

“It is important we revisit, on at least an annual basis, different drivers and stakeholders to effective MILCON execution; whether it is policy change, environmental aspects, real estate actions or contract support,” Norton said. “We need to stay engaged and focused on working closely with our partners, to continue to successfully deliver mission-ready facilities in the face of emerging global changes.”

This year’s symposium shifted from a physical event, usually held in San Antonio to a first-ever virtual event, in response to social restrictions caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants were provided full remote access to insightful sessions and engaging panel discussions. The agenda included spotlights on topics such as MILCON reform, MILCON planning and programming, and MILCON project management agreements, to name a few.

“The topics we discussed gave participants an even more enhanced picture of the current state of play in MILCON execution, as well as the way forward about some significant policy changes that have taken place recently,” Norton said.

“MILCON execution is a team sport and the symposium is a strong representation of that team, bringing together all the players from different services, from the installation level up to the OSD, as a team in this large assembly. I hope the participants left the symposium with a renewed emphasis on that teamwork,” Norton said. 

Before closing out this year’s symposium, organizers hosted an awards ceremony to honor the winners of the 2020 Air Force Design Awards. The annual awards recognize innovative facilities for outstanding designs, resource efficiency, innovation and visual appeal. Allen and AFCEC honored seven projects in three award levels. 

The 2020 Honor Awards recipients were from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio (Facility Renovations and Additions); Dyess Air Force Base, Texas (Landscape Architecture); Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska (Facility Design); Edwards Air Force Base, California (Facility Design).

The 2020 Merit Awards recipients were Hill Air Force Base, Utah (Facility Design); Eglin Air Force Base, Florida (Facility Design).

The 2020 Citation Award recipient was Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma (Facility Design). 

“The Air Force Design Awards is a valuable and important program within the Air Force,” said Randy Lierly, Air Force architect and Air Force Design Awards program manager. “It is an essential tool the Air Force utilizes to declare its principles of excellence to prospective design firms engaged in Air Force projects.”

With the 2020 symposium in the books, Norton said his team is looking forward to hosting again next year.