Silver lining of sequestration, importance of all

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Mathew Contreras
  • 40th Helicopter Squadron commander
If there is a silver lining that can be learned from sequestration, it has to be the overwhelming notion that everyone in today's U.S. Air Force is not only significant, but crucial to accomplishing the mission; "fly, fight and win ... in air, space and cyberspace." Across the Air Force and Malmstrom Air Force Base, supervisors at all levels are being taught the critical nature of every civilian in the work force. The one day weekly, empty chair over the past seven weeks has challenged work centers at every turn.

Recently, an aircrew member needed to purchase a plane ticket for an upcoming temporary duty. Only one problem presented itself - there were insufficient funds in the squadron's TDY account to purchase the ticket. Sounds like a simple enough problem with an easily identifiable solution: load sufficient funds into the TDY account and purchase the ticket for the TDY. Unfortunately, the group resource advisor was furloughed, and the squadron was left scrambling on a Friday afternoon to solve the problem. The comptroller squadron answered the call, and it only took the work of one captain, a master sgt., a tech. sgt. and an Airman to perform the problem solving that would normally have been accomplished by the civilian had they not been furloughed.

At most squadron commander's calls, I iterate the point that everyone is important, and no one person in the organization is more important than anyone else. We all have different rolls, responsibilities and jobs to perform, and in the end, everyone is important. The organization will not function at its peak capability with the absence of the members who comprise it.

One poor example of a person who does not understand the principle of this concept is the supervisor who asks a question of a subordinate, and within seconds of the subordinate's response, the supervisor diverts attention to any other area of attention - physically, visually and mentally. It's crucial in this day and age to listen to what people have to say with a more heightened attention to detail than ever before. We never know when a person we work with will tip us off to a personal problem that we can potentially provide assistance with. In some case we may help save a valued life that is critical to the defense of our nation.

All across the Air Force, Airmen are tasked to unprecedented levels. The furlough the country faced challenged our entire nation at many different levels. Airmen in uniform and our civilian employees will continue to answer the call to defend our nation despite sequestration.