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Changes ahead for 2012

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Hornitschek
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing commander
For those of us who've been around the Air Force awhile, we fully understand what it means when we say the only constant is change! This year is no different as we look ahead to a few things that we'll be facing and planning for in the year ahead.

Leadership Transition
This will definitely be a summer of change as many of our commanders in the wing, including myself, will be moving onto other assignments. Because of this, we are working to make sure we have solid processes and a foundation that will ensure success for those stepping into their new roles here.

From preparing for our September air show and 95th Anniversary celebration to working through budget cuts and how that impacts our services on base to staying combat ready as we prepare for our Operational Readiness Inspection in 2013, we're dedicated to working through the details. We look forward to meeting the challenges ahead and planning for a successful navigation through the ever changing landscape.

Future of base services
I want to say thanks to the people who came out to the three-hour town hall meeting Tuesday night to constructively share their thoughts and concerns as we discussed the services provided on base and how those could be impacted by budget cuts. Many more people have responded to our request for feedback, and we'll continue to pour through suggestions and concerns as we finalize our recommendations that will go forward to our higher headquarters.

For the past four months, the Air Force has been gathering feedback from its bases and those recommendations will be forwarded in the coming weeks. By late January, we expect further guidance from the Chief of Staff of the Air Force on what the Air Force will consider non-negotiable must-have services. There may be modifications to what we're seeing, but no final decisions have been made, nor will be implemented before we have a chance to reconnect with you about what we're doing and why.

I'll be addressing more details about what's happening with this topic in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more to come. In the meantime, I have an email account that I encourage you to use to provide specific feedback about what services you value--the library, arts center, auto hobby shop, etc.--or areas in which a partnership with the community would be a good fit, or perhaps a service that is really no longer needed.

The most useful feedback you could provide is helping me understand what our people need as distinct from what we want (for today and in the next 5-10 years), and for those things that we want, how we can innovatively deliver those services in a sustainable way so that we may enjoy them for years to come. My team will monitor and collect that feedback daily. Please send inputs to

Civilian Workforce Reductions
As you've seen in the news recently, the Air Force is still working through 4,500 civilian reductions so it can meet fiscal year 2010 funding limits as dictated by the FY 2012 budget. Scott has received its portion of these cuts, and we've identified and are working with those who are affected and are doing the best we can to minimize any hardships for our employees. Now is the time for personal and organizational resiliency.

My civilian personnel team has worked nonstop to answer questions and help forge the way ahead for our workforce. It's a difficult and sobering task, but the good news is that we've been able to place many employees in other jobs (nearly 40 of the 110 identified in the first round of cuts in November) and several have voluntarily separated or retired with monetary bonuses. Right now, the second round of voluntary separations/retirement programs are being offered with a Feb. 3 deadline for application. Employees will know before that deadline if the second round of reductions will affect them.

While the Air Force has not announced any plans for an involuntary reduction (focusing instead of maximizing voluntary destinations for affected employees), it is always prudent to acknowledge that the possibility of a reduction-in-force action exists and employees should understand how such a decision might affect them directly or indirectly. We are losing some wonderful, hard workers from their current positions, but I'm confident that their future looks bright as we and they take their skills into new opportunities.

Preparing for the ORI
It seems like it was just yesterday when the wing completed its Operational Readiness Inspection with a super result of an "Excellent" rating. That came after months of planning and practicing! So, it's no surprise that we find ourselves back in the game as we plan and prepare for our 2013 ORI.

We recognize that to have a repeat performance, we've got to focus on those processes that made us successful. To focus on those activities and processes, I've instituted training days every second Thursday of the month. I extend my appreciation to Team Scott for their patience as many of our service-oriented work centers take critical time out of their day to ensure they're deployment ready.

Meanwhile, practice makes perfect and it's time for us to don those chemical warfare suits, practice going through a deployment line, ensure our bags are packed and make sure our team knows how to respond in crisis situations so we can Enable Combat Power for our combatant commanders!

All these events and challenges are not for the faint hearted! It takes dedication, energy, enthusiasm and most important, a positive outlook. We can rise to the challenge. We can make sacrifices. We can do hard things ... especially if we do this together, as a team, and understand why it's important to meet the requirements our nation has outlined for us to meet.

I'm confident we have the right people to lead and manage the way ahead, as well as fantastic support from our friends and family as we get to work on these issues. Together, we'll continue to Outshine, Outserve and Outperform during 2012 and beyond!