Command Chief Urges Airmen to Accept Change and Focus on the Mission

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- For nearly 29 years I've watched our nation, and our Air Force respond to global conflict and political influences. We've prepared for war, executed our mission, and made adjustments during times of peace. To say we are living in interesting times would be an understatement.

Across the entire Air Force our leaders are faced with a number of monumental issues that will challenge how we conduct our mission, both now and well into the future. Log onto the Air Force Portal or peruse the headlines on AIM Points and you will quickly see many of the challenges we face. You'll find documents such as the 2013 Defense Budget, and the Budget Control Act limiting how the military will spend the taxpayer's money. You will also find articles devoted to explaining fiscal austerity, changes in force structure, new strategy for the Air Force, and force reductions just to name a few. There are also a number of significant and complex threats to our national security that will continue to challenge and shape the future of our Air Force.

During these challenging times, focused, visionary, and insightful leadership at all levels will be critical to ensure we accomplish the mission. The Air Force is going to have less money and less people. We will be forced to maximize our intellectual capital, stimulate innovation and collaborate to execute every process and every mission set. Doing more with less, and doing less with less, are mantras I've been listening to for many years. Arguably, there is not a single organization, either government or private, that isn't trying to implement a strategy that does more with less. Assuming the situation will not change, and we will be required to continue to do more with less, we must ensure that training, education, and professional development of our work force is every leader's priority. Training, education and experience of every Airman will be critical to ensure the Air Force has the intellectual capital to execute the missions of the future.

The Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force have outlined a strategy explaining how we can provide our nation a ready, agile, and flexible Air Force. This will not be an easy task, but certainly one we are capable of executing. In my opinion, we will never be asked to do less. To accomplish this strategy we will be required to eliminate some processes and mission sets in order to offset the increasing demands on higher priority war fighting processes and missions. We'll do this because it is necessary, not because there is less work to do. Every service member, civilian, and government contractor is critical to the success of the mission, and our collective efforts will enable us to meet the SECAF and CSAF vision for a ready, agile, and flexible force. All of us must understand the need for change and be sensitive to the fiscally constrained environment in which we operate.

The Air Force we live and operate in is a technologically advanced and ever-changing environment. We must be willing to accept change if we are going to be successful. In the book Collaborate or Perish, the authors write that "technology can tip change, and speed it up... but to be successful you need the right people saying yes and doing yes." Technology isn't going to execute the mission, people execute the mission. In other words, when our team members come up with innovative and creative ideas to accomplish the mission using less money or less manpower, as leaders we need to find more ways to say yes and less reasons to say no.

If you have an idea, review Air Force Instruction 38-401, Innovation Development through Employee Awareness Program, and submit your idea using the AF IMT 1000. If your idea is adopted, you could receive a percentage of the first-year savings that can range from $200 to $10,000.

It is our fundamental responsibility to accomplish the mission. By encouraging innovation and collaboration, we will be successful at meeting the challenges we face today and be prepared to face the challenges of tomorrow. Our nation deserves nothing less than our best effort.