BY JIM SMITH
Davis Chamber of Commerce CEO
KAYSVILLE — Here is a scenario that would send chills down the spine of any business owner: Your company has been mandated to reduce revenues by one billion dollars without reducing your production. And you need to do it now!
That is exactly the scenario faced by the Department of Defense as it works through the sequestration process imposed by Congress. There can be no reduction in readiness Р we must remain the most effective military power on earth.
Plus, we need to morph our readiness to match an ever-changing enemy throughout the world. On top of that, along with that increased operational effectiveness, our military now has to be even more “cost effective” than ever as it navigates reduced budgets.
Recently I was privileged to attend the “Focus on Defense Forum” at Hill AFB, where I listened to Lt. General Bruce Litchfield, Commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center. I cannot overemphasize my appreciation for the Air Force leadership that I have been able to associate with Р in my estimation these men and women could lead any Fortune 500 Company. Today they are concentrating their management abilities on finding ways to reduce the cost and maintain the effectiveness of our military mission. Here are a couple of things that stood out to me in Gen. Litchfield’s remarks:
One aspect of “readiness” that is being effectively addressed is the concept of integration. I first saw this in a tour of Special Op’s Command three years ago, where the Army, Air Force, and Marine general officers reported to a Navy Admiral.
The days of intense rivalries between our military branches are largely a thing of the past (although the Army/Navy football game is an obvious exception) and today’s military is about cooperation, coordination and integration. You can’t maintain overly redundant systems and be cost-effective. “How well we integrate will determine outcomes [on the battlefield]”, said Gen. Litchfield.
Perhaps most important to us in Davis County is the Air Force’s efforts to create partnerships in our local community. I am involved in the “Public to Public, Public to Private Partnerships” program, or P4. The Air Force is changing the way it does business.
We are finding ways in which the community can provide services to the base in a way that reduces the Air Force’s direct expense. For example, an agreement has been signed between HAFB and the Davis County Libraries in which libraries on base are closed or reduced and replaced by our existing library systems in the community.
In another example, we will be signing an agreement in August whereby the Billeting Office on base will reduce the number of hotel rooms it maintains and will send those overflow temporary duty personnel to local hotels for lodging. In both cases, there is a win/win for the Air Force and the community.
“Developing industry partners” said Gen. Litchfield, “gives us an opportunity to work together to achieve our goals. We will come out of this doing business better and will have proven that we can survive, actually coming out stronger.”
Air Force Senior Command personnel are being very proactive as they work through what is a very daunting task. The short-term negative impacts of sequestration will yield stronger ties between the community and the Air Force for years to come.
As in all business in today’s world, the way to be more effective is to be more efficient. Our military leaders deserve a salute for a job well done!