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Change is coming; are you ready?

SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- Whether we like it or not and whether we are ready or not, major changes are going to occur in the Air National Guard. As we all know our country is in the middle of a massive debt crisis. Cuts have to be made in the budget and the Department of Defense with the largest piece of the pie is an easy target. We can all count on the fact that the Air National Guard will take a very big hit and that big hit is going to cause change.

Ghandi once said, "Be the change you want to see in the World." I'm going to change this a little bit and say, "Be the change you want to see in your career, in your section, in your squadron, in your wing, and in your Air National Guard."

Start with your career. The training days and dollars are going to shrink, so how do you get trained and stayed trained? First and foremost, never miss a training opportunity. Only miss a UTA if you absolutely have too.

Second, find yourself a mentor. I hear junior NCOs (and a few Senior NCOs) say things like, "My supervisor has never mentored me." If this is you, I've got to ask, have you asked them too? If you want someone to impart knowledge on you, you have to ask for it. Take control of your career, if you want to know your job better find some who knows it inside and out and start asking questions. Promotions are going to be harder to come by. Be ready. Make sure that you have all of your upgrade training completed and get your PME done. You have to be ready for your next promotion. Remember, you are the only one that can make yourself promotable.

We have all heard the saying, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." I think that when the changes and cuts start happening it will be more likely that the squeaky Wing gets the axe. If a Wing is not deploying, not trained, not complying with inspections, and/or has low morale, why should The Adjutant General or the National Guard Bureau fight to keep that Wing?

Every one of us effects how we are perceived by folks outside of the Wing. Now is the time to step up our game and be the best Wing that we can. This starts with being a professional. If you haven't read AFI 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure (The Little Brown Book), do it now. Know your role as an Airman, a NCO and a SrNCO. Build off the momentum of being a well trained professional in your AFSC. We must all adhere to our Air Force customs and courtesies. If we act like a professional, well-trained organization, then that is what people will see and talk about. And that's certainly the kind of unit that keeps its missions, is considered for future roles and breeds longevity.

Finally, we need to get in front of these cuts. Be engaged and know that you can contact your congressional leaders and Senators (of course, from your home phone and computer!). Remind them that the Air National Guard does 33% of the Air Force's job using only 7% of the budget. In short we are a pretty good deal. Remind them that not only do we, their hometown Air Force, go to war to protect this country but we are also the first line of defense protecting the homeland and recovering the homeland after a disaster (natural or manmade).

We are going to face change over the next few years. How we handle it and how much change we see is going to come down to what type of organization we are or can become. Let's get started.