FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 17, 2012) -- Soldiers, employees and leaders of the Air Traffic Services community came together on Fort Rucker for the 2012 Air Traffic Services Leaders Conference May 7-12.

The conference gave members of the ATS community a forum to discuss and address issues that they are facing, according to Lt. Col. Brett. D. Russ, 2-130th Air Operations Battalion commander of the North Carolina Army National Guard.

"Whether it be the maintainers, commanders, key leaders or air traffic control experts, [the ATS conference] gives us a chance to talk about air traffic control issues and trends," he said.

The 2012 conference was a first for Russ and he said that it was a unique experience for people to gather that have ATS experience.

"We come from different areas, so we've got representatives from the National Guard to the Army Reserves …," he said. "We talk about issues that we've got in maintenance support or issues that we have with Federal Aviation Administration compliance. We discuss ways to work together more safely and efficiently."

The teamwork that Russ spoke of was directly in line with the theme of the conference, "one team, one fight, one future."

Although the U.S. military force is made up of different branches and agencies, they are thrust together in conflict to form one fighting force, he said.

The conference offered an opportunity to help the different agencies work better with each other, which is one of the main reasons Russ attended. He came to discuss some issues as the battalion commander of his unit, which is scheduled to ship off to Kuwait later this year.

One of the issues that the unit is having is with a piece of equipment called ATNAVICS, which is ground controlled radar, according to the commander.

"One of the questions we have to ask is, do we replace the unit that we have in our battalion, or do we walk in on the existing piece of equipment [at the airfield] and allow someone else to take over our [ATNAVICS]?" he said.

Not all issues discussed have to deal with expensive pieces of equipment or come from the command level. Even smaller issues are dealt with and discussed, and the conference provided the opportunity for Soldiers to learn from the experiences of others, according to CW2 Xavier Brisco, F Co., 2-501st General Support Aviation Battalion, Fort Bliss, Texas.

"We can discuss issues that we have at the company, battalion or division level," he said, "but it's sharing experiences that we have that helps plot the path to the Air Traffic Services in the future."

Brisco, who is a former air traffic controller, said the conference helped Soldiers on different levels to communicate with each other and take the experiences that are discussed and use them to educate.

"There may be people here that have run into an issue that [our CAB] hasn't run into yet," he said. "If we come and discuss the issue, we can be prepared for it the next time we deploy."

One of the issues Brisco said was discussed for his CAB was an issue with the timeframe for reset of unit equipment during deployment. He said his issue was able to be discussed and is working with the Communications-Electronics Command, who is in charge of Army equipment reset, to resolve any problems they might be having.

"This conference is good because you get to see a face rather than just talking on the phone or communicating through email," he said. "To be able to see the person face-to-face makes it a bit more personal."

It's important to try to keep that level of communication when dealing with something so important, said Brisco.

"We provide all the safety to protect from things like midair collisions to space de-confliction," he said. "That's what makes Air Traffic Services one of the most vital assets to the Army mission."