Priorities in changing times

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. Bruce Litchfield
  • Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center Commander
As strange as this may sound, the only constant in our work environment is change. Our nation, our Air Force and Tinker are in the midst of a significant transition after two decades at war. The budget environment of our nation is driving a significant reduction in defense spending. Accordingly, we are in the process of re-tooling for the future. While I hope most work centers are not experiencing too much turmoil, the effects of these changes are real for some organizations and individuals.

Today's changes center on three main areas. First, we had to scale back the size of some organizations to reflect our financial reality. Second, we are working to define the future structure of our sustainment and maintenance activities so we can continue to accomplish our critical mission in the new environment. Finally, the Air Force is defining core services supported by the Air Base Wing to make sure we still provide the essential services our military and civilian members need to succeed.

Given all these changes, I believe it's important we know and keep in mind our true priorities. OC-ALC must retain a laser focus on mission execution, transitioning to the new Sustainment Center, and most importantly, taking care of our exceptional workforce. Warfighter dependence on what we produce at Tinker is at an all-time high. The warriors engaged on the front lines are depending on our systems and people to be mission ready and first rate. I don't see a significant change in what we're going to be asked to produce, support, sustain or deploy in the near future. Remember that our ALC exists to support the warfighters, and they are still counting on us to come through for them when they need it.

To stand up the new Sustainment Center, we have a major planning effort ongoing across all centers. For most, the change that will accompany the new center will be minimal; for others, it will mean a new reporting chain; and for some, it will mean a completely new way of conducting business.

In March, I will provide a series of briefings for anyone who is interested in this new organization. You have my word that as we make the transition to a Sustainment Center, we are still taking care of our people. We are working hard to ensure we are using voluntary means such as early retirements and retirement incentives to implement personnel reductions and force shaping necessary to posture for the future.

For those who are seasoned veterans, the future will be different. I call upon your experience to ensure our critical mission areas remain strong. I also ask that you learn the concept of operations for the new structure and apply your expertise to build an efficient and effective operation. If you're new to Tinker, you came at an exciting time and have a chance to shape the future in a big way.

As an Air Force team, we need to cover each other's back. At a time when we're essentially performing two full-time missions -- keeping the current ALC going and standing up the new Sustainment Center -- the need for Wingmen has never been greater. In my career I can look back and point to periods that dramatically changed our Air Force. I believe we're in one of those times now! It's our time to strengthen our force for future generations.