It's Time for Innovation

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno
  • Commander, 45th Space Wing
I'm sure many of you have been following the daily media rumors on furlough. I'm also sure you feel as I do: I really do wish this would end, and soon.

The impacts to the Budget Control Act and furlough at the 45th Space Wing are very real for our mission and our people. To put this in perspective, our budget (initial distribution) has steadily declined over the past 3 years: FY11 = $222M; FY12 = $194M; FY13 = $162M. Our civilian airmen have felt the effects as well: 1,184 civil servants each furloughed for 11 days = $4.2M in lost wages, and at least 133 positions cut from 11 contracts.

So what do these numbers mean for Team Patrick-Cape? We reduced the Eastern Range mission capability from 37 assets to 15 in FY13. We removed all metric optics, eliminated our mobile command and telemetry capability, shut down all but two tracking radars, reduced hours of operations at our airfields, reduced range availability and mothballed telemetry on Ascension Island. Our base support functions were also reduced. We deferred preventative maintenance for all our facilities, suspended all non-emergency work and reduced medical appointments across all specialties. We reduced pharmacy, fitness center, library, youth center and civilian personnel office operating hours, and curtailed travel, training and purchasing supplies.

And the truth is, we're not done. We predict these budget cuts will create a huge backlog of work and cause major expenditures for our nation in the out years. The time for doing more with less is over and unfortunately, FY14 will not bring relief to our budget issues as we are currently facing additional reductions of $25M - $30M. This is our reality now. This is not your grandfather's Air Force and it's not your father's Air Force . . .but this is our Air Force. This is our issue, we own it, and we will prevail.

As Winston Churchill famously said during WWII: "Gentlemen, we're out of money, it's time to think." Fast Forward to 2013, this is your commander speaking: "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are out of money, it's time for innovation."

I need Every Airman (military, civilian, and contractor) to innovate. Think about how to do your daily jobs better, more efficiently, and more creatively. You are the experts, you are on the ground where the rubber meets the road, you are the ones who really understand the tactical level of mission execution. Therefore, YOU are the ones who also know how things can be done better, faster, and with fewer resources.

You are hereby empowered to innovate! Bring your good ideas to the forefront. Show your supervisors, demonstrate to your chiefs, brief your commanders. All of YOU are the key to succeeding and leading through this challenge. YOU are the reason we are and will continue to be: the best air, space, and cyberspace force the world has ever known.

Stay Focused Sharks!