VCJCS pays historic visit to nuke treaty monitoring center

  • Published
  • By Susan A. Romano
  • AFTAC Public Affairs

For the first time in its decades-long history, the Air Force Technical Applications Center here hosted the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his spouse June 9, 2023.
Admiral Christopher W. Grady received several classified briefings about how the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center delivers decisive advantage against enduring weapons of mass destruction threats and emerging weapon systems. While the vice chairman met with AFTAC’s key subject matter experts, his wife, Christine, spent time with a select group of spouses to discuss issues of importance to military families.
“AFTAC is the DOD’s premier center of excellence on nuclear event detection and analysis,” said Col. James A. Finlayson, AFTAC commander. “Having the opportunity to brief the vice chairman on how we identify and report technical data from foreign nuclear explosions illustrates just how critical our mission is to our senior decision makers.”
Grady was briefed on AFTAC’s persistent surveillance capabilities, directed energy weapons programs, as well as the center’s Nuclear Debris, Collection and Analysis program, and seemed impressed by many of the technologies the center employs to achieve global mission success.
“AFTAC is one of the crown jewels of the DoD, and what you do here is crucial to our national security,” he said. “You operate virtually alone and unafraid, and I’m here to provide you with the advocacy you may need to continue to operate, sustain, and maintain your no-fail role.”
Simultaneously, Mrs. Christine Grady met with nine spouses in AFTAC’s Heritage Room to talk about topics such as health care, family balance, deployments and separations, childcare, and spouse networking.
“Our families need to be celebrated,” she said. “As military spouses, we didn’t take that oath that our husbands and wives took when they joined, but we did take a vow, and that’s just as important.”
The spouses agreed that military families tend to gravitate toward one another, even if they haven’t known each other for very long.
“When you find out your neighbors are service people, you immediately trust them because of the wonderful bond we all share,” Mrs. Grady said. “We understand each other because we’ve all gone through the same set of challenges and experiences.”
Jacqueline Zavala, whose husband is a Reservist as well as an AFTAC civil servant, found the meeting to be productive. 
“Mrs. Grady was very approachable and expressed genuine interest and concern for all the topics and questions that arose,” Zavala said. “She took the time to get to know everyone and offered to follow-up to help support in any way she could.  Being selected to represent AFTAC at the round table was truly an honor, and it provided me an opportunity to strengthen my network with other AFTAC spouses.”
The admiral’s wife added, “In my short time here, I can see that this is a fabulously tight-knit community who help each other. The hardest part for me during visits like this is when I can’t solve problems right away. The resilience of our family members is incredible, and I hope the families here at AFTAC continue to demonstrate their amazing resilience. It’s heartwarming!”
The vice chairman also recognized four superior performers and presented each of them with his challenge coin.
Tech. Sgt. Diego Diaz, an HVAC supervisor assigned to AFTAC’s 709th Support Squadron, was one of the recipients.  “I’ve been in the military for 10 years, and it’s always rewarding to be lauded for your hard work. But to have your efforts recognized by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is a career milestone! I’m so grateful to my supervisor, leadership, and co-workers because I would not have done as well as I have without their support. For me, this recognition is more of a reflection of their wonderful talent and efforts. I’ve been truly blessed to be on this great team.”
Prior to his departure, when the admiral was asked to capture his visit in a few words, he said, “You do this mission, and you do it well. I have a great appreciation for the passion that exists here, and I’ve been impressed throughout my time here.  You have my admiration!”