Thursday, March 7, 2013

COMMENTARY>>A letter to Airmen

From Gen. Mark A. Welsh III
Chief of Staff of the Air Force

To the Airmen of the United States Air Force:

March is here, and unfortunately, so is sequestration…that means the entire Department of Defense, including our Air Force, will experience about a 9 percent budget cut across all programs – starting now, and with no ability to adjust which accounts those cuts come from.

Some of our flying units will start to cut back on training immediately to protect the readiness of units scheduled to deploy and those with key mission responsibilities. Unless something changes, in about six weeks you’ll notice the civilian Airman you rely on every day forced to accept unpaid leave for one day a week through the end of the Fiscal Year. We’ll also be forced to delay some number of aircraft and engine depot inductions, causing aircraft availability and reliability issues, along with impacts to the small businesses that support our depots. And we’ll have to delay construction projects, from airfield repairs and energy programs to the planned upgrade of your dormitory or housing area. The impacts of sequestration will be noticeable, they’ll likely affect you, and, in some areas, they’ll hurt our mission in a big way. But we’ll hang together and get through this…and hopefully our nation’s leaders can reach agreement and get things back on a more even keel soon. We’ll keep you informed as this moves forward.

CMSAF Cody and I just returned from a seven-base tour of the CENTCOM AOR, where we got to meet a lot of you and watch you thrive in some tough environments. We met Airmen like SrA Alexia Briant, a war reserve med tech, who helps save lives every day by making sure your first aid kits have everything they need. We met SrA Muhamed Mehmedovic, a transportation journeyman inspired to serve by airdrops of aid his family received in Bosnia when he was just six years old. And we met Airmen like Lt Col Kat Lilly, commander of the 802nd Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron, who’s helped train a new generation of Afghan pilots and maintainers, including their first fixed-wing male and female pilots in over thirty years.

Amazing stories! Just like yours. I’m blown away every time I hear ‘em. Besides inspiring and motivating me, they also assure me we can get through the turmoil of sequestration. You do the impossible every day; you’ll keep things on track during this tough time. Our job is to continue to provide at least some level of the Global Vigilance, Global Reach and Global Power America expects. The resource shortfall won’t make it easy, but we’ll get it done.

In my last letter, I promised you a CSAF Vector to outline some of the key areas I think we should focus on over the next year. During our CORONA conference last week, the Secretary, MAJCOM Commanders and I refined some of those ideas – I’ll get the Vector out soon.

Thanks again for all you do. Do me a favor and pat yourself on the back…you ROCK! As always, it’s an honor to stand beside you.


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