Maintaining the balance

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Prior to 1969, the average age of an Air Force plane was eight years. Presently, our aircraft are an average age of 24 years old, older in many cases than those who fly and maintain them.

Whether it's space, infrastructure or aircraft, the Air Force has found itself focusing on its recapitalization. To meet this challenge with today's budget constraints, the Air Force implemented the Program Budget Decision 720, or PBD 720, personnel reduction plan.

Just in 2007 alone this decision will reduce our manpower authorizations by as much as 20,000 Airmen. Already, from the current reductions, we are seeing that during deployments non-deploying personnel at all command levels are stressed. Often times they cannot perform their normal homebase missions without putting in many hours of overtime.

Here in Colorado, the shrinking manpower authorizations and number of people assigned are restricting our deployment options and putting excessive stress on our in-garrison mission. With the increasing requirements and decreasing manpower authorizations, it is our obligation to find and achieve a balance between our Air Force duties and our personal life. Without this balance both areas suffer.

How can we work towards this goal? To start, we must spotlight and target the issues we can control. We cannot change the fact that our manpower is decreasing. What we can change is how equipped the manpower is to deal with this new challenge. Whether it's procuring a new technology, applying effective leadership principals or eliminating unnecessary processes to transform old antiquated tasks into new and efficient methods, we must actively promote and seek higher levels of efficiency.

It is also important to focus on morale, another influenced area. High morale levels certainly do not happen by chance. It's a result of completing a task that has meaning, being a player and not just a hired hand, an opportunity to be heard and of course appreciated.

Of course hard work must not go unnoticed; it is the responsibility of all supervisors to support their Airmen. We must create a rewarding environment and take time to focus on essential human needs that when fulfilled, lead to satisfied, committed, and more productive Airmen.

Part of the balance also includes continually seeking higher levels of self improvement well within our control. Much of our professional and personal lives are not within our control, but there is plenty that is. Whether it's exercising three times a week, taking off-duty education classes, learning new hobbies, or just taking the time to relax, we must take care of ourselves.

The best way to do this is to have a passion!

By a passion, I mean having an activity in your life that gives you joy; something you look forward to when you get out bed in the morning. Your passion has to be something other than work, something that makes all other activities in your life an interlude until you can get back to it. We must have a relief valve that we can turn to when the stressors of life start building up on us.

Since our personal life is the base for our professional life, we must also set aside quality time for our family and friends because they are the best fuel for our success. In order to continue our success with the high demands of today's Air Force, we must focus on the things that elevate us to our fullest potential. We must learn to achieve and maintain the balance.