Resiliency, facilities and workforce retention were among the topics addressed by Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr. during his inaugural command-wide virtual town hall, Aug. 8, 2019.
The town hall, streamed live on the Air Force Materiel Command Facebook page, provided an opportunity for the commander to reach the large, geographically dispersed AFMC workforce and address topics of interest and concern. To date, the event video has reached more than 15,000 AFMC Airmen who viewed either the livestream or recorded event, receiving positive feedback across the board.
Bunch started the event by expressing his appreciation for the professionalism and hard work he has observed during his initial few months of command.
“Thank you for what you do each day that makes AFMC successful and able to accomplish its mission. Our mission is critical to the Air Force’s success, and you exemplify those things every day in the way you execute your mission,” he said. “I firmly believe that we do our wartime mission each and every day across our enterprise. We have to act with that sense of urgency in doing it.”
Bunch elaborated on the ongoing AFMC We Need study and emphasized the importance of workforce feedback in helping to shape the command to meet the needs of the National Defense Strategy and the Air Force. He mentioned that initial study feedback indicated concerns with facilities, information technology, workforce recruitment and communication across the enterprise. However, until he has the full results and analysis of the study, he is not planning to make any widespread, immediate command wide changes.
“What this is really focused on is, ‘What do we need the command to be able to do so that we are able to support the National Defense Strategy and the Air Force we need?’” said Bunch. “If you have things that are hindering you, and we don’t know about them, I can’t take action on them.”
In addressing the Air Force Resilience Tactical Pause and Wingman concepts, Bunch spoke about the importance of communication and taking time to build the networks and relationships required to sustain the AFMC family of Airmen. He also talked about resources such as the Employee Assistance Program available to support AFMC Airmen in need on a 24-hour basis.
“Just asking, ‘How are you doing?’ Don’t ever underappreciate how important that is to our people,” said Bunch. “We need to be looking out for each other, because each and every one of you is critical to executing the mission.”
Segueing into policy queries, Bunch stressed the importance of working through leadership channels to address concerns with telework and civilian physical fitness. According to Bunch, center commanders assess impacts of specific policies to mission execution and are in the position to make the best decisions for their organizations.
“I don’t believe that it is the right place for me to put a policy out that everybody has to do exactly the same way. I think each situation is dependent, and I trust the commanders in the field to make those calls and to work that through the civilian personnel offices,” Bunch said.
Bunch also discussed larger Air Force issues of concern, specifically related to privatized housing issues and mold in the dorms. He conveyed the importance of taking care of Airmen and Air Force families as he touched on some of the actions the command is taking to ensure the issues are addressed.
“The way that I view these issues is that I believe these are the equivalent of an urgent operational need,” said Bunch. “We recruit Airmen; we retain families…and we owe them the ability to have safe living conditions and work spaces.”
The town hall also provided Bunch and opportunity to talk about some key mission areas and the ways the command is working to become more innovative. He spoke briefly on the efforts to streamline processes and ways the command is leveraging industry to bring technology to the warfighter at, “the speed of relevance.”
“We are trying to use the authorities that Congress has given us to do experimentation, prototyping…to push capabilities out,” he said. “What we need to do is capitalize on what is working in one place and promulgate that out to other parts of our enterprise….we will learn lessons, and we will move forward.”
Bunch addressed a wide range of topics during the town hall, which is viewable in its entirety on the AFMC Facebook page or on Defense Visual Information Distribution Service site. AFMC Airmen can submit additional questions or feedback through Facebook or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To end the event, Bunch once again thanked the AFMC family and expressed his excitement and dedication to serving as the command’s leader.
“It is an honor and privilege to work for and with you. Caroline and I are thrilled to be the leadership team that is here now,” he said. “I serve you. We work for you. Give us your feedback, and thanks for what you do each and every day to make us successful.”