SECAF wraps up visit to Incirlik

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- It's not everyday an Airman gets a handshake from the Secretary of the Air Force; but Airmen got that opportunity Dec. 6 and 7 when the Honorable Michael W. Wynne and his wife, Barbara, visited Incirlik to get a first-hand look at the base's missions and operations and to meet the members of Team Incirlik.

Secretary Wynne received a tour of the base, conducted an All Airmen's call and talked to members of the 56 Club and Airmen Committed to Excellence.

While at the Airmen's Call, Secretary Wynne expanded on Program Budget Decision 720, which affects the Airmen of Team Incirlik. This program mandates the personnel cuts (200 at Incirlik) that will be coming in the immediate future.

"Right now, here at Incirlik, you are in fact coping with this reduction of 200 slots," said Secretary Wynne. "You are actually seeing the wave come and planning for a different future. It is not going to be that you used to work a 40-hour week and now you work a 55-hour week ... that's not the approach. We want to cut the 200 slots and now you're working a 39-hour week with one hour to plan for the future."

With the loss of so many positions, innovative thinking is more important now than ever. Secretary Wynne commented on why Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century is so important.

"The 39th is right on the cutting edge of Air Force Smart Operations 21," said Secretary Wynne. "You are leading the way in understanding, you are leading the way in how the program is able to work and yet you still are able to provide downrange a whole series of UTCs which many of you participate in," he added. "You all have picked right up on the concept. You are looking around for processes that are not relevant."

Smart Ops are also important in a deployed location ... locations where Airmen are taking on jobs and positions once held predominantly by the Army. Secretary Wynne expressed his concerns about these jobs and the Airmen who hold them.

"I have the following philosophy," said Secretary Wynne. "When the enemy overruns your camp everyone goes to battle from cooks to bottle washers ... everyone fights. When the enemy goes away, everyone should return to their original job. The good thing is that by doing these missions it puts an Airmen's eye on situations and that makes a deal of difference."

Secretary Wynne also acknowledged the many Airmen who for the first time are away from their loved ones for the holidays.

"I was 17 years old when I went into the military academy," he said. "I didn't actually know we were going to be staying there during the holiday break. It was a new experience and it was cold (being from Florida); but at the end of the day we made our fun. It was amazing, we didn't have the Internet, or X-Box where we can instantly play with our friends back home. It turned out to be one of my most memorable holidays."

In the end Secretary Wynne wanted to wish the members of Team Incirlik Happy Holidays.

"Thank you for serving and thank you for spending your holidays in Turkey," he said.