Getting to know the new AFCEC commander

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JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- Brig Gen. John Allen became the first general officer to lead the Air Force Civil Engineer Center during a ceremony earlier this month.  

After more than two decades as an Air Force civil engineer – including his most recent role as the Director of Civil Engineers – Allen brings a unique perspective to the center and its mission.  

We asked the general to share that perspective.

Time in service?
I entered active duty in the Air Force in January 1992.
As you step into the role of director of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, what are your priorities?
Since its inception in 2012, AFCEC has provided much-need services and support to our installations. This 1,700-person organization is an execution-support arm, helping ensure installations are capable and ready to support deployment and employment of the operational missions located there. In that capacity, AFCEC has always been an influential and vital component of the civil engineer community.
Installation commanders and civil engineer squadron commanders across the board count on AFCEC to deliver on critical mission support functions. Whether that means Military Construction or a Facilities Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization project programming and execution, environmental remediation, readiness and emergency management, housing oversight, or anything else, my priority is to make sure our installation commanders and CE squadron commanders have the support they need to accomplish their missions.
Through our efforts at AFCEC, we also have the opportunity to support the objectives laid out in the Air Force’s civil engineer guiding strategy documents. Helping to implement the Infrastructure Investment Strategy, the Human Capital Roadmap, and the Revitalizing CE Squadrons initiative requires a whole-of-enterprise effort.
AFIMSC’s mantra is “Your Success is our Mission.” How does that translate to AFCEC’s role in installation and mission support?
AFCEC, and CE as a whole, is one part of the larger mission support community. CE is such a broad and diverse enterprise, and it impacts Air Force missions in many different ways.
Our mission as Air Force civil engineers is to provide for, operate, maintain, protect, and, when necessary, recover our installations. Air Force missions count on us to do that — effectively and efficiently. Without Airmen engineers, you don’t have resilient air bases. And when our installations fail, the mission fails.
AFCEC and AFIMSC bring together experts from a wide range of skill sets to solve some of the Air Force's most complex mission support dilemmas. As engineers, we are problem solvers, and commanders rely on the unique capabilities of AFCEC and AFIMSC to keep their missions running smoothly.  
What is AFCEC’s role in support of the career field, and what are the challenges you think AFCEC can best get after?
The Air Staff tends to look at the future of CE at the 30,000-foot level. It lets us see challenges Airmen engineers face across the career field and enables us to plan for the future. But, just planning isn’t enough. We must be able to support commanders to execute strategic direction, which will then push our Airmen to the next level.
In many ways, AFCEC is a tactical execution arm for the Air Force civil engineer business, and has a tactical view into many of the challenges faced at the installation level. By having that tactical capability, AFCEC is postured to provide immediate solutions to our squadrons, which are the front-line units we are all here to support.
Having served as the Director of Civil Engineers, I saw first-hand the range of operational and strategic challenges that our commanders faced. This perspective gives me a unique vantage point of how we can develop more comprehensive solutions with longer lasting, and more effective, results. I believe that continuing to focus on the synergy between AFCEC and HAF will enable more efficient solutions to challenges our commanders face, and better support our Airmen in the long run.  
When you look at the many challenges facing Air Force installations, which are you most eager to “get after?”
All of it — there is so much great, important work underway at AFCEC now, I’m just happy to be a part of it. From restoring our oversight of privatized military family housing, to making strides in PFOS/PFOA (perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid) environmental remediation, to streamlining MILCON and FSRM program execution, it is an exciting time to be at AFCEC.
Air Force leadership, including our Chief of Staff, frequently refers to our squadrons as the “beating heart of our Air Force.” Everything we do is about better enabling our squadrons to operate. The heart of Air Force civil cngineer strategy is our effort to revitalize CE squadrons. This effort is about enhancing CE technical competencies and ensuring full-spectrum readiness in our squadrons. This is also really important work — how well we deliver for the Air Force, in many ways, is tied to the strength of Air Force CE squadrons.  
What can commanders expect from AFCEC under your leadership?
Commanders can expect the same responsive full-spectrum engineering services that AFCEC has provided to our community since 2012. Terry Edwards leaves behind a strong rapport with installation commanders that I intend to continue fostering and developing.
I’m excited to see the AFCEC team continue to the next level. It is critically important to me that we make sure our installations and squadrons get the support and resources they need to accomplish their missions as our conflict environment evolves.
What can the AFCEC and AFIMSC teams expect under your tenure?
I strive to foster a collaborative, innovative environment in my organizations. I will encourage modern, efficient and effective solutions as we support our installations. We need to find ways to make our resources go further and our solutions last longer.
Our constant pursuit of innovation does not take away from, but rather enhances, the delivery of critical mission support capabilities that civil engineers have always brought to air and space forces, and AFIMSC and AFCEC are postured to achieve that.
Our Air Force is the best in the world because our people are the best in the world. I am privileged to have worked with high-performing teams throughout my career, and I look forward to continuing to work alongside the outstanding individuals at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center.