Thursday, April 18, 2013

COMMENTARY>>White space

By Col Thomas Crimmins
19th AW Vice Commander

In the Air Force we have quite a few buzzwords, such as, resiliency, wingman, excellence, and the latest addition, sequestration. These may be “buzzwords,” however; they all have a variety of meanings and impact Airmen in different ways.

What does sequestration mean to you? For civilian personnel, it signifies the potential for furloughs, and for Airmen it means less flying and operating with fewer resources. Ultimately for all Team Little Rock members, sequestration is going to open up some “white space.” “White space” is also a recent Air Force buzzword, and refers to unscheduled, or open time on one’s calendar.

How this white space is used can make the difference between seeing sequestration as a total negative or trying to make some lemonade out of lemons.

Aircrew and maintenance will see a 35 percent decrease in flying hours. This is a time that can be used for personal accountability and self-development, not a time to sit around your shop or ops desk and say “I have nothing to do.” Set achievable goals, and accomplish the important tasks that we sometimes do not have time for when the ops tempo is high.

Have you been talking about starting that CCAF, bachelor degree or masters for a few years? Now is the time. Do you remember the last time you did a CBT? Stay current, because when flight hours and funding return, you will be busy. Has your New Year’s resolution to get in shape faded recently? Fill your “white space” with PT and be fit to fight. Do you need help with finances and never had time to take a class before? Fill that white space and sign up now!

There are many ways to productively spend your time. Put down your smart phone and look for volunteer opportunities or be a project officer for a base event. Find ways to broaden yourself as an Airman. None of us just fly planes, turn wrenches, defend the base, draw blood, load pallets, fix internet connections or whatever your contribution to the Team Little Rock mission may be. I urge you to effectively meet your daily tasks by knowing what role you play as an individual and as a member of the greatest Air Force in the world. Only you can take charge of your own career, especially career broadening. Leaders, missions and budgets may change but Airmen should answer the call to serve by looking at what they do through a wide lens. As Mobility Airmen, we are a supporting, well-rounded force that must be able to adapt to diverse environments when we get the call.

The great pioneers of our Air Force were exceptional men and women dedicated to making things better. Their bold, innovative, risk-taking culture is what made our Air Force great. We must continue that culture and remember that it has no AFSC, perseveres during trying times and is not limited to any one component, it is Total Force. Be a bold, innovative Airman by taking advantage of the “opportunities” that sequestration has served us.

Also, during this time we must concentrate on the well-being of Team Little Rock, whether that is safe effective operations, taking a stance against alcohol-related incidents, ensuring all Airmen are treated with dignity and respect and being a good wingman during trying financial times. I’ve decided to fill some of my new “white space” by getting out from behind my desk to interact with Airmen in the work center, rather than let the “bureaucracy” fill it with more meetings, as would occur if I didn’t aggressively fight back. In this way, sequestration has allowed me to recharge my battery thanks to “Airman power.”

Lastly, I would like to address responsible alcohol consumption. We are inoculated from day one as Airmen that we must be a good wingman. A wingman, not only, ensures his or her TLR member is safe on the flightline or wearing proper personal protection gear on a motorcycle, but also, sets the example. The term Wingman stems from a time-honored tradition that essentially says a lead pilot will never lose his/her Wingman. It’s a promise, a pledge, a commitment between Airmen. But being a good Wingman also means that when “two” tells lead their engine is on fire, lead’s responsibility is to heed the warning. If your wingman steps in to help you out of a bad situation, you must listen! Wingman responsibility goes in both directions to be effective.

All TLR members are held to a higher standard in our personal and professional lives. Remember, even when you are not wearing the uniform, you still represent and are a member of the United States Air Force.

Team Little Rock, spring is upon us. Do the right thing by being a good wingman, creating an environment of mutual respect and knowing how you answer the call every day. Take advantage of the unique times we live in, and fill the resulting “white space” constructively. Thank you for all you do for your nation; it is an honor to serve alongside you.

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