Mr. Jason Yaley, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s Special Assistant, was recently quoted, “It’s time to become the Air Force we need to be, not the Air Force we used to be.”
As a comptroller, I take this to heart. For over a decade, we have heard that fiscal constraints will be our future, next year is certain to be worse than the last, reductions in Overseas Contingency Operations will be paralyzing and the potential for sequestration, or worse yet, the reality of a government shutdown is imminent. How do we cope? The answer is simple: do what we do best as Airmen: overcome, adapt, innovate, and improve.
As sworn stewards of tax payer dollars, we focus the precious resources made available to our installation on key mission impact areas. Gone are the days of yesteryear when frivolous spending at the end of the fiscal year brought comfort items into each work center. Here are the days when we must ask the hard questions of immediate need, priority and future impact: how will these resources protect the warfighter, complete the mission and for how long?
As fiscal year 2014 came to a close, the 75th Air Base Wing Financial Management Working Group and Financial Management Board diligently worked to prioritize more than $18 million worth of unfunded requirements asking just those questions. Priorities brought forward and justified by leadership across the wing were based on critical safety needs, mission requirement shortfalls, and quality of life requirements for Team Hill Airmen and families.
Outstanding planning and presentation of these requirements from affected members on Team Hill afforded us the opportunity to favorably compete for available funding from Air Force Sustainment Center, Air Force Materiel Command, and Headquarters Air Force.
During the month of September, your leadership’s diligent efforts earned funding for programs and projects you will see across our installation, such as the speed table construction at the gates. Quality of life funding supported reopening of the flight line dining facility, washers and dryers in the Temporary Living Facilities, a dishwasher in the Child Development Center, upgrades to the Youth Center playground, and outside track refurbishment.
Safety and security was improved across the installation by funding a fire department dispatch system, emergency services team equipment, an emergency communication center response tool, security cameras for the dorms, and Fire Station No. 3, located at Little Mountain, modifications.
The list of items funded to improve mission readiness includes critically important requirements such as repairs to several airfield pavements needed to launch and recover aircraft, and replacement of failing roof structures. When all is said and done, more than $3 million will be invested in the mission and people of Team Hill at the end of this fiscal year thanks to professionals at all levels recognizing and justifying critical value-added requirements.
What is in store for next fiscal year or better yet, what is in store for the Air Force in the future? Gen. Welsh, Air Force Chief of Staff, said it best, “We have to be more cost – effective in the way we run and operate the Air Force. We have to think differently and open the aperture a little bit about potential solutions, and we have to unlock ourselves from the things we’re used to and listen to some of the brilliant young people we have coming into our Air Force today when they have ideas that are different. And we have to listen to people from outside the Air Force who might be critical, but they’re smart. Maybe they are right, occasionally. This is our challenge.”
Challenge accepted, how about you?