by Kimberly Woodruff
Tinker Public Affairs
2/24/2014 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Leadership
in war and peacetime was the focus of a Feb. 12 Senior Statesman
Leadership Panel, sponsored by the Logistics Officers Association and
Air Force Association.
The panel consisted of Col. Jay Bickley, 552nd Air Control Wing
commander; retired Col. Chuck DeBellevue, Vietnam War ace; Col. Linda
Hurry, deputy commander for Maintenance with the Oklahoma City Air
Logistics Complex; and Col. John Kubinec, Air Force Sustainment Center
vice commander. Retired Brig. Gen. Ben Robinson, former 552nd ACW
commander, was the moderator.
Panel members discussed topics from deployment drawdowns to the military budget.
"Cost effective readiness is key as we position and set ourselves up for
success as we transition out of war," Colonel Kubinec said.
They all agreed that military leaders need to make sure the troops have
equipment and the support they need, as well as the training to get the
"People are still motivated and we need to make sure they believe what
we're doing is important and they are making a difference and that they
are appreciated," Colonel Bickley said.
Colonel Hurry said the key is to build strong networks and trust, being
there for one another and streamlining processes. "The No. 1 thing we
need to do is listen," she said. "Create an environment where our people
are empowered and let them try things. This is how we do more with
less...it is a team effort."
Colonel DeBellevue challenged attendees to "lead from the front."
"Empower your people," he said. "Tell them what you want done and get
out of the way. You know what they can do and you push them."
Colonel Kubinec spoke of the current high operations tempo and the toll
it has taken on Airmen and their families. He urged everyone to be sure
to reach out to the families because deployments are impacting them.
Panel members said personnel costs are the biggest chunk of the budget,
so it is an obvious area to focus on. Under current Air Force force
reduction measures, 25,000 military will be leaving either voluntarily
or non-voluntarily by January 2015.
"The same characteristics that we have in the military are the same
characteristics companies are looking for in their employees:
discipline, focus, leadership and teamwork," said Colonel Hurry.
She urged leaders to help their Airmen who may be affected by these cuts
to write resumes and said the best way to support them is to give them
honest and realistic feedback.
"What we owe our people is brutal honesty," Colonel Bickley said. He
said the Airmen want and deserve feedback and leaders owe them the
truth. "It may be tough to give that bottom third of our Airmen
feedback," he said, "but if we don't, they won't be prepared. So talk
with the Airmen."
The panel agreed that the Air Force is a team sport and it takes everyone to make the mission happen.
"Do your best job. Don't worry where you work--just do your best job," said Colonel Hurry.
Colonel DeBellevue said everyone plays an important role in the Air
Force's success, though some jobs seem "better" than others. "It is
important to remember at some point we are all the most important part
of the team," he said.