The Great Communicator
AETC commander ensures that airmen and defense communities understand and are equipped to support the Air Force’s defense mission.
Lt. Gen. Darryl L. Roberson has flown combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, was a pilot for the Thunderbirds air demonstration team, and has commanded a squadron operations group, three wings and the 3rd Air Force/17th Expeditionary Air Force at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. He also served as a congressional fellow on Capitol Hill and served on the Air Staff and Joint Staff at the Pentagon, including a stint as vice director for operations.
These are just a few highlights of Roberson’s service in the U.S. Air Force, which began with his graduation from the Air Force Academy in 1983.
Currently, Roberson commands the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) at Joint Base San Antonio, a position he has held since July 2015. In this role, he has overseen the recruitment of more than 31,000 new active-duty airmen in nine months. AETC also was instrumental over the past year in ensuring the initial operational capability of the F-35 Lightning II by training pilots and support crew to fly and maintain this new fighter aircraft. In addition, AETC doubled the number of pilots trained to operate remotely piloted aircraft each year from 192 to 384 and, for the first time, has begun providing this training for enlisted pilots.
Finally, under Roberson’s leadership, the Air Force continues to provide training to active-duty Air Force personnel through the Profession of Arms Center of Excellence, which is committed to developing Air Force personnel with a professional mindset, character and core values required to succeed.
All of these activities are in keeping with his 2016 AETC Strategic Plan, which focuses on four areas: motivational mission accomplishment; compassionate care of airmen and their families; innovation; and leadership.
ADC President Michael Cooper selected Roberson to receive this year’s President’s Award not only for his most recent accomplishments but for his career-long efforts to communicate and collaborate with defense communities to ensure the Air Force’s operational ability to carry out its mission. Cooper, who as chairman of the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission and the city of Enid’s military liaison, regularly worked with the general, praised Roberson for his commitment to engaging with states, local communities and base commanders to educate them on key issues Air Force installations face and how civilian supporters can help them meet their missions.
“Gen. Roberson has been upfront and transparent about Air Force bases’ needs for adequate air space, the usefulness of P3 and P4 partnerships, the importance of finding ways to work with communities to reuse excess base capacity, and budget issues,” said Cooper.
“The willingness of a three-star to explain to this audience the issues they should care about and ways that we can work together to get things done—a message a lot of commanders leave to someone else to deliver—has huge impact,” he added.
“It is an honor to accept this award from the Association of Defense Communities,” said Roberson. “It reflects AETC’s full commitment to fostering and nourishing vibrant relationships between our military and local communities. These successful partnerships help sustain Air Force operations while supporting community economic goals and interests. The relationship is truly symbiotic. Airpower starts in AETC and we could not do it alone.”