Transition, Change Bring Opportunity

POPE AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- As we start 2008 at Pope we can be sure this will be a year of transition and change. For those like myself who have been around for a number of years (a nice way of saying we are old), we may be experiencing the sense of deja vu. In the late '80s and early '90s the Air Force went through several changes, leaving many of us to wonder what happened to the old green fatigues, the service dress uniform with four pockets, F-4s, F-111s, the titan missile system, and 650,000 of our closest friends who helped win the cold war.

During that time, we drew down, right sized, VSI'd, got new BDUs with and without stripes, patches and Velcro, a new service dress with and without name tags, collar brass, for the officers rank on the sleeves, and my personal favorite: some, all, or no ribbons. We learned inspections were bad and QAFAs (Quality Air Force Assessments) were good, we flow charted, Ishikawa diagramed our processes and defined who our customers were. We were taught to ask "why" five times, we were empowered and for some a paradigm shift occurred. We got rid of Airman Performance Reports with a scale of 1 to 9 in favor of Enlisted Performance Reports with a scale of 1 to 5, and for those who were into health and fitness we eliminated the mile and a half run in favor of a bike test. Many of the bases that one could have been stationed at are now community air parks, municipal airports, guard and reserve bases, or just overgrown with weeds due to the BRAC policies of the late '80s and early '90s. And when one says I will send you to a northern tier SAC base, most have no idea what they are talking about.

For those of us who served during that time, we might be saying to ourselves 'here it comes again.' When we look out our windows across the base we see a mixture of Airmen wearing BDUs and ABUs. The new service dress will be field tested shortly and the circle is now back on the collar brass for our enlisted members.

The Enlisted Performance Reports received a much needed update and we now run a mile and a half every year to measure fitness. We are again in full BRAC mode as we bid farewell to the 23rd Fighter Group and transition to our associate relationship with the 440th Airlift Wing. And like the '90s when Pope changed its mission and welcomed the 23rd, we continue to change to meet challenges head on.

All kidding aside, as 2008 begins take a look at all the opportunities that lay before you over the next 12 months; opportunities for personal and professional development, to be involved in the change process, and lead instead of sitting on the sidelines. As I look across the Wing, I see day-to-day examples of members of Pope who have looked out at opportunities before them and took action.

Due to the draw down, the civilian contract for flight engineer training was eliminated, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Hook took the initiative and created a replacement training course here at Pope. Due to his efforts the Air Force saved $100,000 in contract fees and $60,000 in TDY funds. Sergeant Hook is a person who looked at the changes that were affecting Pope and said "I can make this better." Now our flight engineers do not have to leave their families to go TDY for training, they complete it here at home station.

Tech. Sgt. Melvin Stewart, seeing the opportunity to have a great impact on his unit and the Air Force and to be a leader of change, became the first NCO in Air Mobility Command to become an AFSO 21 Level Two certified facilitator. Due to his efforts and leadership, the 43rd AW has saved more than $750,000 and 21,000 man-hours; additionally Sergeant Stewart has provided AFSO 21 Awareness Training for 1,270 Airmen, to include training 82 Level 1 Facilitators, ensuring the new culture is firmly embedded. Sergeant Stewart saw an opportunity, ran with it and has become a key player in AFSO 21.

There are countless examples of leadership and mentoring that go on everyday on Pope. Last week through the leadership of our Top 3 and Master Sgt. Tywanna Frazier, a new professional organization was stood up, geared toward mentorship and fellowship of our Airmen and Junior NCOs. Through Sergeant Frazier's leadership and drive, a constitution was drafted and elections of new officers were held. Thanks to her efforts, a new generation of leaders will step into the community better prepared for challenges.
Once again thanks for all the hard work in 2007, the accomplishments of Team Pope are truly outstanding. I look forward to seeing what 2008 brings to Pope and how the outstanding Airmen of Team Pope will rise to the challenge.