Core values critical during sequestration

  • Published
  • By Col. Joe Turk
  • 721st Mission Support Group commander
Greetings, Knights. As the Department of Defense enacts budget and manpower cuts mandated by sequestration, we are facing challenges unlike any we have met during my 25-year Air Force career. We have experienced cuts to our budgets and reductions in manpower -- some of them drastic.

Many may not remember that in 1994, we experienced a furlough of our civilian Airmen, but this furlough lasted only a week and the impacts were negligible. Most recently we implemented Resource Management Directives 702 and 803 that drove cuts to our military and civilian manpower and fundamentally changed how we operate. Through innovation and discipline, the Air Force has been able to implement these cuts while still meeting the mission; however, the effects of sequestration have been, and will continue to be, monumental.

Since the beginning of this fiscal year, we have been executing our budget under the guidelines of a continuing resolution authority that has restricted our ability to fund our requirements as we have in years past. This has created severe challenges in meeting operational and support requirements. In addition to deep budget cuts, we are facing an impending furlough of our civilian Airmen that will limit their work-hours to 32 per week and prevent them from working after hours and on their furlough day -- a cut of at least 20 percent to their work capacity. Wing leadership has been diligently developing plans for meeting our mission under the constraints of sequestration and you are critical to formulating and executing these plans. As you evaluate your mission areas and develop plans for getting the job done with reduced resources, the Air Force core values must be the foundation for your decisions.

It begins with Integrity First. As Airmen, we strive to get the mission done no matter the circumstances or the resources given; however, with unprecedented cuts to our budget and manpower, it is not possible to do the things we have always done -- there must be impacts. We must have the integrity to identify the most critical mission tasks we need to accomplish and clearly articulate up the chain of command those things we can no longer do and the impacts of not doing them. Under furlough guidelines, there are strict rules on what our civilian Airmen can do and what leadership can do. We must adhere to these guidelines. If we violate these rules to minimize the impacts of the furlough, we are not only sacrificing our integrity, we are breaking the law. With the limited funds we have at our disposal, we must use them judiciously. If a purchase or TDY is not absolutely essential to executing a critical mission task, don't expend the funds and identify this resource as something you don't require. Our integrity will set the tone for how we execute our mission.

After we identify our most critical mission tasks, we must execute them with Excellence. With limited resources, we do not have the capacity to reaccomplish tasks -- they have to been done right the first time. If we truly identify and execute only our most critical tasks, our missions will fail if we do not execute them properly. Now more than ever, we must hold ourselves and our subordinates to a high standard of performance.

Finally, as we meet the challenges of sequestration, we have to put Service Before Self. I am not implying we need Herculean efforts from you that are clearly above and beyond in order to mitigate our resource limitations. However, we need to have the big picture of the wing and Air Force in mind as we develop our plans. If you can identify a more efficient way to accomplish your mission that frees up either man-hours or dollars, do not simply apply these resources to other less critical tasks in your area of operations. There may be a greater need in another mission area in your squadron, group or the wing. Put the greater need above yours and identify these resources up your chain of command for possible reallocation. Yes, we are facing the greatest resource challenge of our careers, but if we use the core values as the foundation for our mitigation plans, we can ensure we do the right things, the right way, to mitigate the impact. Thank you for your leadership and professionalism during this difficult time.