The new year, what's expected

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Bartley
  • 99th Air Base Wing commander
Now that you have stopped inadvertently signing your personal checks with a 2006 date and have finally realized 2007 is upon us, what is your New Year's resolution? Is it to stop smoking, lose weight, get into better shape, or spend more time with your children? These are certainly noble resolutions, but I thought I would deviate somewhat from these typical promises. My 2007 resolution is to step into the New Year focused on finding better ways to fly, fight and win.

The things we do here at Nellis and Creech have direct, and often times, immediate and resounding impact on how our Air Force, joint partners and our coalition conduct military operations against a wide variety of actual and potential threats.

The impact is often so profound; a former chief of staff of the Air Force coined the phrase, "As goes Nellis, so goes the rest of the Air Force." In essence, as a member of Team Nellis, you are shaping the way this nation fights on a day-to-day basis. You contribute to the playbook this nation relies on to conduct combat operations worldwide. So when you step back and reflect on what Nellis and Creech do for this nation, you begin to realize the significant importance of our mission , why we must change, why we must adapt to the ever-changing global environment, and why we must find better ways to fight and win.

So what do I expect from Nellis and Creech Airmen in 2007? I expect all of you to follow my lead; that is, to find or develop better ways to do your mission, whatever that may entail. I need you focused on how we train, how we conduct business on a day-to-day basis, and how we, Team Nellis, can better shape the way this nation fights. I challenge each of you to find at least one process and make it easier, simpler, or better before the end of this calendar year. I challenge you to educate yourselves on the objectives of Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century.

AFSO21's primary goal is to eliminate waste -- waste of time, manpower, and/or money. However, the program also encourages you to ask the question "Why?" Why do we do the things we do? I need you focused on the "why," as much as you're focused on the "how." Questioning how we do our mission and why we do things pursuant to mission accomplishment are the two most vital components of this program. If we can embrace the logic and principles of AFSO21 as a collective force, the product will certainly equate to flying, fighting, and winning with fewer Airmen and fewer dollars.
Today's Airmen are entering a different Air Force than when I joined almost 30 years ago. We are no longer a garrison force--we are far more expeditionary, we are far more technical, we are better educated, we are smaller and more capable, and we are engaged in direct combat operations around the world.

Our Airmen, in all AFSCs, are being asked to deploy for six, seven, and eight months at a time ... and our Airmen, young and old, are battle-hardened after 16 years of continuous deployments. In some cases, our youngest airmen have more combat experience than the supervisors who lead them. Our force has certainly changed, and it has changed for the better; but this change did not occur by accident, but from necessity, it occurred as a result of a changing social, economic and political world environment. It occurred because of the passion warriors have for continuous improvement.

Now more than ever, I need all of you to seek change and opportunities to eliminate waste, and develop and mature processes value-added to flying, fighting and winning.
So now you know the why, let me focus on the how.

I expect you to communicate your ideas, your views, and your vision directly to your supervisors, leadership and your peers. I expect you to challenge legacy processes and the notion of "that's the way we've always done it." I expect you to be vocal about "change" within your organizations; after all, a great idea never communicated remains just an idea. I need you to transform your ideas into actionable programs with an eye toward eliminating waste. I expect you to be engaged as part of the solution rather than being content with mediocrity. I need you to lead the bugle charge toward a leaner, meaner, more efficient force focused on the business of providing unrivaled air, space, and cyberspace power.

So as I look into my crystal ball, I see a few guarantees the United States will remain engaged around the world for decades to come, our adversaries will continue to change and seek ways to further their objectives, the U.S. military will often be the instrument of power the President calls upon to achieve our strategic national goals, and our Air Force manning and force structure will continue to shrink.

Given this inevitable future, there is no better time than the present to make an impact. Make your ideas known to your command, embrace the AFSO21 program, convert your ideas into new and better work practices, transform your tactics, techniques and procedures as a means to continually reshape how our Air Force fights, and finally, don't accept legacy practices or programs just because you feel comfortable operating in that environment. Fix it, change it, make it better.

I'm relying on you to follow my lead in finding better ways to Fly, Fight and Win. Are you ready to reconsider your New Year's resolution?