KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
New and old honorary commanders of Kirtland Air Force base learned and were re-integrated with the various missions carried out at Kirtland on a base tour July 29, 2019.
The honorary commander program is the largest of its kind in the Air Force; pairing commanders and directors from Kirtland with Albuquerque, New Mexico community leaders and business owners.
The program is designed to build relationships with community leaders and to increase awareness and understanding of the mission happening at Kirtland.
“The base itself is really only as strong as the community that supports it,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Esther Sablan, 150th Special Operations Wing Air National Guard commander. “This is the best part of my day and week, to meet with the honorary commanders and share with them what we do here.”
According to one honorary commander, a growing relationship between Kirtland and Albuquerque leaders can only lead to positive results for both civilians and military service members.
“If you have community leaders and military leaders that are integrated with the goal of improving everybody’s life, happiness and station, I think that can only yield positive results,” said Greg Jackson, mixed martial arts trainer and honorary commander to the 351st Special Warfare Training Squadron.
Military service members come and go from Kirtland while the honorary commanders stick around because Albuquerque is home to them. This allows military service members stationed at Kirtland the opportunity to utilize programs and resources that might not be readily available without the honorary commander program.
“I think having people that have a lot of connections allows the positive message that Kirtland is trying to disseminate out into the community,” said Jackson. “You can have a great message saying, ‘we really want to help and we really believe in our community here,’ but if you are sitting in a well, then no one is going to hear you.”
With the honorary commanders involved with Kirtland AFB and supporting the mission, finding solutions to problems and concerns that affect the Albuquerque community as a whole is a team effort.
“I just want to say thank you to all the honorary commanders that take part in the program,” said Sablan. “It means a lot to us that they stay engaged with our mission and with our Airmen and we just really appreciate all the support that they give us every day.”