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Requirements for hard times

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Allan Fiel
  • 375th Security Forces Squadron commander
It is impossible to turn on the nightly news and not see that shrinking budgets lie ahead, and new and creative means to meet our organizational needs will likely have to be used. Virtually every person and organization has "requirements" for making life better and the mission to go more smoothly. It is relatively easy to solve "requirements" problems when family and/or organizational budgets are fat and manpower is plentiful, but tough times often call for an approach other than throwing resources at a problem and hoping for a good outcome.

For instance, the trip to Disneyland in the family mini-van in the hot summer with the kids might go smoother with new custom installed Blue-Ray players, game consoles, mobile Wi-Fi, and a stock of new movies and games to keep the kids entertained. While such a setup can make life easy, it requires the outlay of significant capitol and faith that the right choices were made on the movies, games, and technical solutions selected.

However, should a family not have such funds available, non-material solutions may be able to provide the desired effects without the budget-breaking outlay for the newest gizmos. Options may include driving at night when it is cooler and natural for the kids to be asleep, re-purposing some other equipment at hand with the modest addition of an electrical inverter for the van, or making more frequent and perhaps pre-planned stops at points of interest.

Though conducting military operations is much more expensive and complex than the theme park trip example, in both cases it is the "effects" we are after. Winston Churchill was quoted as saying, "Gentlemen, we are all out of money...therefore we will have to think."

The same is true for us, where the application of longer-range, and more deliberate planning can yield the same or even better effects without the associated budgetary costs. Fortunately, we have options other than just material solutions. These include changing our processes to maximize the investments we have already made, or changing our training paradigms to creatively meet the challenges we are facing without further outlay of scarce resources.

If these non-material solutions are to be successfully pursued, however, it is essential for leaders at all levels to make it safe and acceptable for peers and subordinates to apply their natural creativity and imaginations when developing different approaches.

As Gen. George S. Patton once said, "Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results." While it is very likely the coming months and years will deliver significant challenges and constrained budgets to negotiate them, it is important to keep in mind the United States is not the greatest superpower the world has ever known because we have the greatest weapons and equipment, but rather because we have a culture of creatively embracing challenges with great minds, rich imaginations, and unique approaches in solving our "requirements" to deliver the right "effects" at the precise time on target.

While the road ahead may not be an easy one, our attacking those challenges and "requirements" while unleashing the rich resources of our organizations' imaginations and natural creativity will likely deliver even greater effects despite living and working in more fiscally constrained times.