Staring down the barrel
By Maj. Merrell D. Mobley, 50th Force Support Squadron commander
/ Published August 25, 2015
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- As a leader in today's United States Air Force, you are charged with ensuring mission success while staring down the barrel of increasing demands. The current fiscally-constrained environment will not improve dramatically in the foreseeable future and has an obvious adverse impact on unit manning and force structure. Air Force personnel must demonstrate an absolute resolve to leverage whatever enabling means at our disposal to achieve collective goals, regardless of the daunting constraints set upon us. As a consequence of the Air Force's attempt to balance future capability with current capacity, we are currently at the lowest manning levels since the birth of the Air Force in 1947. Now, more than ever, we require consummate professionals who are experts in their respective crafts in order to ensure future success.
The budget sequester in 2013 compelled the Air Force to choose between having an optimally ready current force or a force that is well-postured for future wars. Now, we have about 311,000 Airmen to perform tasks carried out by three times as many Airmen in previous generations. The force structure has also been altered substantially during this time span. Tasks previously reserved for senior ranking personnel are now tasked to much less experienced members. The onus is on leaders to create the necessary environment to adapt and overcome these budgetary and force structure constraints.
Today's Airmen are innovators. They never cease to amaze with their ingenuity and commitment to the core values of excellence, integrity and service. Regardless of our fiscal circumstances and shallowed pool of personnel reserves, our Airmen simply keep moving the organization forward to mission accomplishment. Leaders have to make sound budget choices while balancing capability, capacity and readiness. The troops require appropriate equipment, training, skills and support. Leaders are taking advantage of opportunities to partner with the Guard and Reserve to create various supportive Total Force Initiative solutions to shared problems. We also must exhibit professional courage to fight for a reduced mission set wherever warranted. The days of doing everything perfectly may have to give way to a more reasonable approach of executing some initiatives with less emphasis and maybe even eliminating others altogether. Finally, Airmen will take care of the mission as long as they know leadership is supportive to their necessities. Put forth the requisite effort to ensure your unit needs are taken care of with regards to fitness, childcare, morale, welfare and recreation, and family support. Taking care of the Airmen will result in resilient people who can handle any given mission.
Our Air Force had to make some extremely tough choices. The budget and reduced force structure present a clear and present challenge. However, you have been, and will continue to be, up to the task. Given the best training, resources and material we can muster, we can devise amazing solutions. Honing your skills, training to become the absolute best at your respective craft and working together will give you the resolve to successfully stare down the barrel and achieve great things for our Air Force.