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Wing Commander Q&A: Low manning, Enlisted and Officer Pay Gap, and Motivation

  • Published
  • By Col. Laura Lenderman
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Commander

Here is the next round of Q&As from my most recent Commander’s Call.

I posted these responses and previous Q&A to our wing Sharepoint site and our public website,, for future access and review.

Please keep the questions coming!

Here is the next round of Q&As from my most recent Commander’s Call.

I posted these responses and previous Q&A to our wing Sharepoint site and our public website,, for future access and review.

Please keep the questions coming!



The manning in shops around the base is really low. Is this going to get better anytime soon?

Thank you very much for your question. To provide context, Air Force end strength decreased from approximately 334,000 active duty personnel in 2010 to approximately 313,000 by 2015. These reductions placed significant strain on many organizations that continued to execute the mission or do more with less people.

The good news is the Air Force has been increasing end strength this past year, and we finished FY16 with approximately 317,000 personnel with plans to continue increasing end strength in FY17 and beyond. As an Air Force, we are starting to feel the positive impacts of this personnel increase. However, many units at Scott will not immediately benefit as personnel will first be directed towards critically under-resourced career fields (maintenance, security forces, etc).

Therefore, it’s very important that we continue to prioritize our efforts, identify inefficient practices, and pursue innovative solutions to every day challenges in order to maximize limited personnel and fiscal resources. We also need everyone’s help to identify those things that we should stop doing and pursue Wing and HHQ-level waivers as required.

If you don’t know who your Continuous Process Improvement reps are please check our Wing CPI EIM site where you can submit suggestions or find information about CPI training opportunities.


Has there been any movement on the military’s planned reduction in numbers of Senior Officers?

Good question. In April, Secretary of Defense Carter described his desire to reduce the number of generals and admirals to counter what he called a "top-heavy" command structure. Since then, the Department of Defense has been working with Congress on this issue as well as a variety of other proposals in the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act.

Because Congress has not yet passed the NDAA, we’re currently operating under a Continuing Resolution, and it remains unclear what the outcome will be with respect to a variety of issues including the proposal to reduce the number of senior officers.


Why is the enlisted to officer pay gap so large?

Good question. In the civilian sector, there is generally a pay gap among lower, middle and upper management, and the military follows a similar construct. The various levels of compensation between junior enlisted, senior enlisted, junior officers, and senior officers account for differences in education, training, responsibilities, etc. That said, military compensation remains a critical tool for recruiting, sustaining, and retaining the overall quality of personnel in our Service as well as in specific critical career fields. Importantly, pay, benefits, and bonuses are continually reviewed and adjusted to sufficiently maintain the All-Volunteer Force.


Why does it take the Civilian Personnel Office so long to get new employees on board?

Thank you for your question, and we sincerely apologize for the delays and understand the importance of filling positions in a timely manner. Our CPO office is addressing shortfalls with the process, and we recently implemented an RPA tracker site that provides supervisors with the status of vacancies; where the RPA is in the process; and who has the RPA for coordination.

CPO is also working on a monthly product for commanders and supervisors that will highlight vacancies and help identify gaps. Our goal is to ensure vacancies are filled in a timely manner and the process is as seamless and transparent as possible. If you have specific questions or suggestions regarding vacancies please contact your unit Civilian Personnel Liaison or our Civilian Personnel Office at 256-9328.


Why are the Outdoor Recreation rental fees so high?

Thank you for your question. For awareness, outdoor recreation fees and charges are often a static cost passed on by the local venue/activity or heavily subsidized with the AF’s R4R (Recharge for Resiliency) program. That said, we did some research, and in many cases, our prices are either equal to or considerably lower than comparable off-base activities and equipment. However, if there is a specific activity or program offered in the community at a significantly lower price, please let us know so we can take a closer look at the pricing differences.


Would it be possible to show movies on the weekends in our old movie theater, for free, on weekends?

Thanks so much for your question. We actually do show free movies at our old movie theater (Library Auditorium), and we are in the process of coordinating to show first run movies as well. The new Jason Bourne movie is playing on Nov. 19 for example. You can find our upcoming movie offerings at We look forward to seeing you as our movie offerings continue to expand.



Ma’am, what gives you your motivation?

Thanks so much for asking your question. When I was younger, my motivation often came from within … an intrinsic drive to do my best and take on new challenges even when it seemed impossible to succeed. I just dug in and went for it. Whenever I needed help (which was often), I reached out to my family, friends, teachers, coaches and later my supervisors and mentors. And, they were always there for support right when I needed them. Today, my motivation comes mainly from the Airmen and teammates around me. Working to help others succeed and achieve their goals is the single greatest motivation and inspiration. In addition, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that throughout my life, I’ve always turned to prayer for inspiration which has always helped lift me up, steady my thoughts, and guide my decisions and actions. Thanks again for asking such a “motivating” question!