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Community partnerships help expand base offerings

(Courtesy graphic)

(Courtesy graphic)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Air Force Community Partnership program is how the Air Force brings focus to cultivating partnerships between its installations and local community entities. Since 2013, the AFCP program has led 53 installations and communities to partner in various endeavors.

Reduced budgets and fiscal challenges, manpower reductions, force structure changes and defense industry reductions are some of the changes that drove the formation of the AFCP programs, said Fred Brooks, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron installation management chief.

“We need to make every dollar count while providing quality services,” Brooks said. “Partnerships create mutual value that is greater than what the partners could individually achieve.”

The idea of doing more with less spurred the discussion. Bases could not continue to work autonomously, so seeking out community partners to form mutually beneficial alliances made sense. Getting Air Force and community neighbors together not only led to savings - $32 million in Air Force benefit and $24 million community benefit thus far – but also created a forum that fosters relationships and promotes innovation.

“Grass roots ideas were developed at the community and base levels with Secretary of the Air Force-level support,” said Brooks.

Currently there are five active AFCPs involving Peterson Air Force Base and several others are in the works. One of them is the Front Range Bases and El Paso County Joint Public Works Management, Bulk Commodities Purchase.

The partnership brings together Front Range bases and El Paso County to make joint purchases of snow and ice melting products to realize a savings. The group meets to work out the logistics of ordering, delivery and funding. Their analysis indicates a possible savings of $80,000 over a five-year period.

Another, the Coordinated Transition Support Services work group, focuses on improving transition assistance services for retiring Airmen entering the private sector job market. The group includes the Pikes Peak Workforce Center, the Peak Military Care Network and other local organizations.

The Peterson AFB and Pikes Peak Community College Experiential Learning program brings a geographic information systems intern to PAFB to gain practical experience while helping with base projects. GIS interns have put in about 1,000 hours at PAFB. The program is so successful that a culinary intern was added to work at the Peterson AFB club.

“We get help and they get government level experience for their resume,” Brooks said.

The PAFB and Memorial Hospital Medical Training partnership allows members of the 21st Medical Group to attend training at Memorial Hospital, saving travel and temporary duty expenses.

Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station Emergency Services Wildland Fires is an example of innovative collaboration. Through meetings with community partners it was discovered the Colorado Springs Fire Department was already holding meetings with various partners. The 721st Civil Engineer Squadron was invited to participate, which led to various training opportunities and coordinating with the organizations they would coordinate with in case of wildfires in the area.

Because the program lends itself to innovative collaboration, many options for partnerships crop up. There are several new, potential partnerships in the pipeline that could be initiated in the near future. One of them would have personnel at Cheyenne Mountain AFS work with University of Colorado and Colorado School of Mines to utilize hard rock engineer specialties and provide experiential learning situations. Others may feature the sharing of firefighting equipment and craftsmen among area organizations.

The potential to save Air Force resources and simultaneously strengthen community relationships through AFCP is huge. Working with communities to provide win-win situations is something the Air Force will continue to pursue in the future. The AFCP program will gain a more permanent home under the auspices of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center by fiscal year 2017.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui