Preparing for the future or falling behind?

  • Published
  • By Maj. Randall Boswell
  • 39th Civil Engineer Squadron
We are constantly bombarded with headlines exclaiming Congress is slashing the Department of Defense budget or reducing our end strength to right-size the force. 

During staff meetings, we are reminded that this year's budget will be smaller than last year's and additional cuts will be coming next year. 

With this news, one has to wonder, "Is the Air Force bankrupt?" Is this new or just part of the natural defense spending cycle? Should I start looking for a new job? 

I am an optimist by nature and hold firm that what we are experiencing is an evolution of our force. What these changes tell us is that if we are up to the challenge, you and I have the opportunity to create a stronger, more efficient and more capable force for tomorrow. 

I recently finished a book by Thomas L. Friedman titled "The World is Flat." The subject of the book is globalization and Mr. Friedman's position is globalization is ultimately good for the United States and the world. 

However, he includes a warning: if we are not willing to improve our work force through better education, we will fall behind other developing nations. 

He utilizes an African Proverb to illustrate his point: 

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.
When the sun comes up, you better start running.

Our Air Force leaders are focused on keeping us running as articulated in our overarching service priorities: win today's fight, take care of our people and prepare for tomorrow's challenges. The next generation aircraft such as the KC-45, CSAR-X and F-35A are part of preparing for tomorrow. 

Creating a stronger, more efficient, more capable force requires the Air Force to retire legacy aircraft and employ state of the art weapon systems that really are capable of doing more with less. Our weapon systems, however, will only be effective if they are employed by highly trained Airmen. 

The training opportunities we have set us apart from any other air force in the world. Our training program includes specialty-specific technical schools, college education opportunities, and the Community College of the Air Force, just to name a few. I will argue though, that if we want to be part of tomorrow's Air Force, we must take a personal stake in our development and learn more. Opportunities to learn and make ourselves better abound. 

For example: learn a second language, read non-fiction books and biographies, take a college course, or earn a professional certification. What we read and learn opens our minds and broadens our perspectives. 

Each morning when the sun comes up we have an opportunity to make ourselves and the Air Force better. The world and the Air Force are changing around us. 

Should we fear this change? Absolutely not. We should view this change as an opportunity and rise to the challenge.