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AETC: Building a Culture of Cost Consciousness

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The Air Force will support a smaller, leaner and lethal capable force and encourage a more disciplined use of defense dollars, according to senior leaders, who unveiled the Fiscal Year 2013 budget on Feb. 13. The Air Force is requesting $154.3 billion for fiscal year 2013, five percent less than the FY12 budget.

Despite having to make some hard choices to rebalance the force, a clear priority for Air Force senior leaders is continuing to take care of its most important resource - the Airmen and their families.

In a speech at the 2012 Air Education and Training Command Symposium on Jan. 11, Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., AETC commander, explained that now, more than ever, is a time for a culture of cost consciousness.

"Every AETC Airman should constantly consider the cost implications of our actions, our inactions and our decisions. It is about being good stewards of America's resources. It is more than just achieving greater efficiency; it really is about a mindset that makes cost considerations a part of everything we do," General Rice said.

Col. Charles Fiquett, AETC comptroller, said AETC will maintain the right number of Airmen on the jobsite to complete the mission. He said that, while the command will be smaller, the Air Force will help Airmen do their jobs smarter and more efficiently through new technology and more streamlined programs. Airmen are also scheduled to receive a 1.7 percent pay increase in 2013.

"Even though the overall budget is becoming more constrained, the Air Force and AETC is committed to the quality of life of its Airmen and families and will sustain through cost-effective services and programs," Fiquett said.

"AETC will continue to offer Airmen essential quality of life programs such as the Health and Wellness Center, the Child Development Center and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs."

Fiquett also said the Air Force implemented the Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness plan to reach audit readiness goals.

"Congress and the Secretary of Defense mandated the Department of Defense to achieve auditable financial statements, beginning with the Statement of Budgetary Resources in FY14. An independent auditor will come in, look at our books and provide an opinion on how well we allocate, spend and track dollars.

"This is an important first step for the DOD, particularly in light of the broader economic challenges facing the American people and our charge to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

AETC continues to look for innovative ways to promote new ideas to deliver its mission as we embark on and embrace a culture of cost consciousness.

"We believe this period of resource constraints is not a time for hand-wringing and slowly dismantling the recruiting, education and training structure we have had in the past, but an opportunity to build a fundamentally different construct and structure for the future," Gen. Rice said. "If we do it right, it will require less resources and be more effective."