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Challenges and opportunities

  • Published
  • By Col. Scott DeThomas
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing commander
Team MacDill, on March 1, the Department of Defense and our great Air Force entered a new phase of operations that requires the entire team to unite and find solutions to tough problems.

As the full effects of sequestration become evident, it is important that our team stays together and ensures we meet the needs of our nation and this great military community at MacDill. Our Air Mobility Command commander has outlined his top five sequestration priorities, which are:
  • Preserve core Rapid Global Mobility capabilities (airlift, aerial refueling, and aeromedical evacuation)
  • Preserve the ability to command/control and safely execute these missions
  • Continue strengthening nuclear mission support
  • Minimize impacts to our Airmen and their families (where feasible)
  • Identify options that can be reversed or mitigated if funding is provided later in the year
Past that, he entrusts you and me to find the best courses of action as we move forward.

Fortunately, we at MacDill have an incredible team of warriors and innovative thinkers skilled in making the difficult look easy, and I am certain those key ingredients will continue to make this team successful.

The efforts to reduce spending that occurred in early February will continue as we move forward to find ways to mitigate the impact of a $12 billion cut to Air Force budget, compounded by the need to fund another $1.8 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations. Already, we have reduced travel expenditures, deferred sustainment and maintenance activities in some areas, and reduced temporary and term civilian appointments. Effective March 1, more initiatives have begun to help meet the Air Force's goal of reduced spending in the final half of fiscal year 2013 by almost $14 billion.

Effective Friday, the 1st of March, the MacDill Airfest was canceled. Additionally, information briefings to civilian Airmen that are appropriated fund employees have begun to inform them of the possibility of roaming furloughs beginning in April 2013. As of this paper's publication date, the final determination on civilian furloughs has not occurred.
I ask that all Airmen, military and civilian, pay close attention to these activities and ensure proper support and consideration be given as our civilian teammates face difficult financial challenges going into the latter part of this fiscal year. The notice authorizes up to 22 days of furlough and is estimated to impact close to 2,000 civilian Airmen on base by reducing their yearly salaries by an average of $7,800 per Airman (estimates from a Florida study). As Airmen, I ask all of us to make every effort to reduce these impacts by finding new ways to schedule and distribute reduced work hours and ensure our full support in difficult times.

In addition to the announced cuts, further implementation will impact training and education opportunities as well as most travel. The Air Force has directed a review of all scheduled classes, canceled all flying-related community activities for the remaining months of the year (airshows, incentive flights, etc.), to include canceling the Air Force Thunderbirds beginning in April, and will continue to find ways to meet our funding targets. The Air Force is also reviewing and delaying other maintenance and development programs.

For Team MacDill, the coming months will present many opportunities to improve the way we do business and carry ourselves in times of uncertainty. In addition to sequestration, the month of March will determine where the government's decision on our continuing resolution will lead. It is imperative that each of us does our part to find cost saving measures and provides the necessary support to our fellow civilian Airmen and the leaders of our great nation. I am certain that MacDill's outstanding commanders, chiefs, shirts, civilians, Airmen and all supervisors will find solutions to the challenges that lie ahead. A wing commander could not ask for a better team of Airmen to lead into the coming storm. Thank you for what you and your families do every day.