JULY 1, 2016, SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) – During an election year, many service members are extra cautious about any political affiliations.
While this is important, Airmen have the right to reach out to their congressional representatives. Some Airmen even work directly with the politicians.
Each major command has dedicated personnel, known as legislative liaisons, responsible for communicating with Congress through the Secretary of the Air Force Legislative Liaison office. Along with ensuring Air Force leadership is aware of relevant congressional activities, legislative liaisons evaluate, report and disseminate pertinent information to the Air Force and/or their command.
The Air Mobility Command has two legislative liaison officers, Maj. Yancey Walker and Fe Haase, who are responsible for formulating and executing the congressional engagement strategy in support of the rapid global mobility enterprise.
AMC leaders are responsible for providing the best military advice to civilian leaders, including members of Congress. The legislative affairs team acts as a conduit for this, which requires Walker and Hasse to be informed participants in conversations.
Timely and accurate communication with members of both the Senate and House of Representatives is the best way any command in the Air Force can advocate for policy and funding that support its overall strategic objectives, Walker said.
“This AMC legislative affairs team also has to respond to congressional requests for information on behalf of command,” Walker said. “We have to know what each congressional member’s agenda and concerns are so we can know how to better inform them on priorities and requirements of the Air Force and Air Mobility Command.”
Answering congressional inquiries requires the legislative affairs branch to maintain open channels of communication with AMC leadership at all levels.
“We don’t know what issue will spark congressional interest, but when a member raises a concern, we have to know who to contact within the command to get the answer,” Hasse said.
Knowing who the subject matter experts are in AMC allows the command’s legislative liaison team to address concerns in a timely and informed manner.
Congressional inquiries can also spark topics of interest that military leaders may need to address when testifying before one of the “Big Four” defense committees, which include the Senate and House Armed Services Committees and the Senate and House Defense Appropriations Committees, Walker said.
“AMC, as the air component command of U.S. Transportation Command, provides an assessment of airlift and air refueling readiness for inclusion in USTRANSCOM’s posture statement, which is delivered annually to Congress,” Walker said. “If requested, the AMC commander could be called to testify in support of the USTRANSCOM commander.”
Testimonies provide an opportunity for leaders to highlight the successes, priorities and needs for the mobility mission.
However, leaders are not the only members allowed to address government — all Airmen have this right.
Another role Walker plays is that of an educator. He teaches a course on Congress and mobility as part of the Air Force Expeditionary Operations School’s Rapid Global Mobility III course, which educates Airmen on government operations.
Walker is a firm believer that Airmen must educate themselves so they can make informed decisions.
Walker said one of his favorite quotes comes from George Washington who said, “A primary objective should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic what species of knowledge can be equally important?”
According to Title 5, U.S. Code Section 7102 and Title 10, U.S. Code Section 1034, states Air Force personnel have the legal right to petition and furnish information to, or communicate with Congress.
Airmen, as citizens of this country have the right to reach out their congressional representative if they need help with a matter or have a question involving the Defense Department.
Airmen can participate in the political process in a variety of ways. They can contact their congressional members directly or join groups such as the Air Force Sergeants Association and Military Officers Association of America, which advocate to Congress on behalf of their members.