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AUAB opens up about tough conversation

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Michael Battles
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Leadership from the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing held a panel discussion on race, diversity, inclusion and leadership’s vision at the Blatchford Preston Complex Theater, July 5, 2020, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.


The goal of the panel is to hear from members of Al Udeid AB, and hear how they are impacted by the national tensions on racial topics, what actions they would like to see and have the opportunity to share their perspective, vision and heart on this issue.


“This panel will benefit the base population by allowing them access to ranking leaders who will be able to address their concerns on this sensitive topic,” said Maj. Kyle Bain, 379th AEW Equal Opportunity director.  “It will allow for open conversation and understanding which can/will be built into a unified effort to improve our units, Air Force and country.”


The panel consisted of Col. Peter Olsen, 379th Expeditionary Mission Support Group commander; Lt. Col. David Payton, 379th EMSG deputy commander; Maj. Carlos Rodriguez, 379th AEW Inspector General and Chief Master Sgt. Karen Blair, 379th Expeditionary Operations Group superintendent.


According to Bain, he hopes that attendees will get a sense of their leadership’s vision and heart on the issue and resolution efforts from attending the panel.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

“Leadership would like for members to feel comfortable, welcomed and included in their work environment as well as know their leadership is there for them; interested and eager to meet their needs,” explained Bain.  “A panel discussion of this nature makes them available to the members in a meaningful way and provide the vision, leadership and availability their Airmen deserve.”


A main part of the panel focused on the ability of attendees to voice their concerns and get their questions answered by leadership.


“[Leadership] discussed their role and efforts in promoting a quality work environment free from discrimination and harassment, as well as how they/we may be able to affect positive change in the Air Force and country at large.”


According to Chief Master Sgt. Kenneth Bruce Jr., 379th AEW command chief, this has been an ongoing conversation since the inception of the Air Force.


“Our Force is a reflection of society making conversations on diversity and inclusion a vital piece to force readiness,” he said. “This is a conversation that has been a part of our force since our birth in 1947. It has evolved over time and became lost in the overall shuffle of the Air Force in recent history. It’s unfortunate that it took a tragedy to bring this conversation back into the fold with all of our other important personnel matters. I’m glad it’s in the forefront of our conscious mind again and we’ll need to take deliberate steps to continue the conversation.”


Bruce also stated that he hopes attendees learn from each other’s experiences as part of the event.