April 25, 2014 —
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – U.S. Central Command leaders opened the doors to the headquarters April 18 to host the families of USCENTCOM during the first ever Family Open House.
The event, which drew more than 1,300 family members, gave families the opportunity to find out more about the contributions their USCENTCOM member makes to the command and learn more about the USCENTCOM mission and the complexity of the area of responsibility. Additionally the event gave senior leaders a chance to thank family members for their support to their sponsors who work at USCENTCOM by giving them an unclassified look at how the command operates.
The event kicked off with members taking their families to see their workspaces followed by a brief from their directorate senior leaders. During that time, directors introduced themselves and explained their department’s role within the command.
After directorate briefs, USCENTCOM members gave their families self-paced tours of the building pointing out some of the highlights including the wall featuring all the Medal of Honor recipients from battles that took place in the command’s AOR, and the Joint Operations Center, or JOC, where joint staff members provide timely, accurate and actionable information to the commander and component commanders.
Interactive static displays included small-arms weapons, non-lethal weapons, media briefing and night-vision goggles were set up around the facility. One of the popular displays was a baton training demonstration that gave kids the opportunity to test their training baton wielding skills on an instructor wearing protective equipment. “It was cool to hit the guy wearing red with the stick,” said 7-year-old Isaiah Hooks.
In addition to the static displays, Vice Adm. Mark Fox, deputy commander, and Army Maj. Gen. Michael Garrett, chief of staff, gave area of responsibility briefs to the families to better explain the role of the command.
“Although USCENTCOM is the smallest of the geographic combatant commands, this is where most of the action is happening,” said Vice Adm. Fox during his brief.
At the conclusion of the event, several spouses and children said it helped them better understand their sponsor’s role at the command and the USCENTCOM mission.
“I appreciate the opportunity to come to where my husband works and learn more about CENTCOM,” said Blanca Perez, wife of Gunnery Sgt. Roque Perez, who works with USCENTCOM’s Special Security Office. “It was nice generals to invite us [families] to the headquarters and explain to us how this place works. I feel much more comfortable that families aren’t forgotten here.”