A Change is Going to Come!

Birmingham, Ala. -- Last year was full of changes in our senior leadership at many levels. New visions, new goals and greater expectations typically follow changes in leadership. Gen. Mark A. Welsh III is the new Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force. Welsh will be speaking to the Air Force Association in Montgomery on March 15 to deliver "A Vision for the United States Air Force". Chief Master Sgt. James Cody is the new Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force. Gen. Paul Selva is the new commander for Air Mobility Command. Selva will be visiting our wing in the near future to deliver his vision for a successful future of the AMC. Gen. Frank Grass is the new chief of the National Guard Bureau. Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke is the Air National Guard's new director. Chief Master Sgt. James Hotaling is the new command chief of the ANG. The Great State of Alabama and our wing had a significant change of command with Brig. Gen. Steven Berryhill assuming command for the State and Col. Cliff James taking command for our wing. The entire wing witnessed this change on April 14, 2012. We all heard their visions on that historic day. The new 117th Command Chief Master Sgt. David Bullard has been selected. Bullard is transitioning to replace our current Command Chief Master Sgt. Mickey Phillips. There have also been several retirements throughout our wing. Along with these retirements come promotions and new leadership.

The Team Talk newsletter has also changed to a web based version. The new version opens up avenues to broadcast more information to more people. It allows anyone to comment on the articles. I invite you to post your comments to this article on how you feel about change.

In the past few years we have the added value of active duty airmen to our wing. Once talented individuals join our Total Force Initiative, our top priority should be quickly developing them. We owe it to them. Mentors provide the tools to allow individuals to achieve their professional and personal goals. Every airman should use the Enlisted Advisory Council, First Sergeant's Council, Chief's Council, or your commanding officers to find a mentor. There are numerous mentors available in the wing to assist you in your career progression.

There is a new and changing Air Force inspection system rolling out and it all revolves around a wing commander's self-inspection program utilizing MICT (Management Internal Control Toolset). Some say this is a result of the AMC Inspector General adjusting to down-sizing and budget cuts. Others say it's about something related to Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, Six Sigma, and Continuous Process Improvement Program. These programs entail maintaining mission readiness at all times versus the previous requirements of attaining inspection readiness every four years.

It is a fact that the Air Force and the Air National Guard will have to adapt to changing missions, budget issues and loss of manpower. Consider that from 1976 when I enlisted to 2010, the combined Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Component shrank from 735,000 to 512 000 [1]. We have experienced nearly 70 percent reduction in manpower and continuous military budget cuts over the years. With the need to prepare for more complex and varied operations in the future, we have an environment we are all very used to: Change.

Imagine what our Airmen entering the Air Force today will see over the next 20 to 30 years. For some of us it will be our last five or 10 years. Think about where we might be with our aircraft, mission and people. From the beginning, our full-time airmen have worked with part-time airmen as a team to maintain mission readiness. With the recent change as an active associate unit, we are now working with active duty airmen as a team to maintain mission readiness. This has allowed us to be activated and deployed on several occasions with short notice to locations throughout the world.

For us to be effective we should have a rock solid mentoring program, so we can adapt to our ever-changing environment. Typically, senior mentors have a lot to offer our younger airmen. However, our younger airmen have just as much to offer us old heads that have been around for a while as we do to them. Listen to their ideas. Have a mentor, whether they are above you or below you.

Have great ideas that promote professionalism. Recommend to a wing council a more effective way to improve or enhance the quality of this fine organization. They are available to hear you and be your voice to the senior leadership. Let your change be one that has a positive impact on our future. Know each and every day you show up that "A Change is going to come!"

[1] Historical personnel statistics can be found at Air Force Historical Studies Office for any year.
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