Commentary

November 1, 2013

Empowering our Airmen

Maj. Kelly A. Gerlach
92nd Contracting Squadron commander

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. — The beginning of a new fiscal year always brings a unique set of challenges. Fiscal year 2014 is no exception.

Not only did we start off the fiscal year with a government-wide shutdown, but we now also find ourselves in a continuing resolution environment coupled with sequestration.

For more than a year now Airmen have been told to start thinking of new and innovative ways to get the mission done safely. Fiscal year 2014 is proving to be no different.

As the Defense Budget shrinks, doing more with less is the new normal. Our senior leaders are challenging us to use our creativity to make the Air Force better for our generation of Airmen and for the generations to come. In a recent speech on empowering Airmen, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III Chief of Staff of the Air Force said, “If it doesn’t make common sense, if it doesn’t make the mission better, if it doesn’t take better care of our people, then just don’t do it and tell your boss you’re done.”

These are powerful words that every Airmen needs to understand and live by.

Do you find yourself in your work center realizing there is a more efficient way to accomplish the mission? Challenge yourself to change the system from the bottom up. Empowering Airmen and trusting them to make the right decisions is the only way the United States Air Force will remain the most powerful Air Force in the world. If not, our Air Force will bleed talent, and ultimately, we will fail to fly, fight and win.

Empowering Airmen requires a delicate balance. For example, the first time an Airman proposes a more efficient way to get the job done and that idea gets shot down, they will be hesitant in the future.
Also, if Airmen are told that an idea is good, but the change is never made, they won’t make further suggestions.

It is incumbent upon leaders at all levels to listen, improve and implement ideas where able. Any changes outside of one’s scope of responsibility must be funneled up the chain of command for action. Feedback and follow-up are essential to making this process work.

By empowering our Airmen, we can continue to keep the Air Force on the road to air superiority.




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