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News > 'Normalize thinking' a key point at AETC Senior Leader Conference
AETC Senior Leader Conference
Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., commander of Air Education and Training Command, speaks during the AETC Senior Leader Conference Oct. 17. The annual gathering of commanders and chief master sergeants offers senior leaders the opportunity to discuss important topics that will affect the future of AETC. (U.S. Air Force photo/Joel Martinez)
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'Normalize thinking' a key point at AETC Senior Leader Conference

Posted 10/24/2012   Updated 10/24/2012 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Clinton Atkins
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

10/24/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Commanders and chief master sergeants from across Air Education and Training Command attended the AETC Senior Leader Conference here Oct. 17-19.

The conference gave senior leaders an opportunity to collaborate and share ideas as they shape the future of the command.

In his opening remarks, AETC commander, Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., underlined a key issue the Air Force is facing. "We really have to normalize our thinking about the environment we're in," said Rice, referring to the DoD budget austerity. "This isn't special; this isn't something that's going to last a year or two years. You and I, for the foreseeable future, as leaders are going to be leading in this type of environment where every year we're going to have to make some tough choices."

"Normalize our thinking" in regards to the way the Air Force does business also applies to how the Air Force responds to sexual misconduct. Rice said there needs to be a baseline with a harsh enough penalty to deter all would-be offenders.

"If we do what we have always done we're going to get what we've always got," he said. "A significant part of our ability to deal with (sexual misconduct) has to do with deterrence. It has to do with the mindset of potential perpetrators and their sense of what the penalty is going to be."

"We have to continue to work that element of reinforcing within them the resiliency they need to do the right thing at all times," he said. "As leaders, we have to be thinking about how we do that every day and all day."

Another key topic highly discussed -- one that has been championed across the command since its inception in January -- is the Cost-Conscious Culture initiative, better known as C3. When Rice rolled out the idea at the AETC Symposium in January, he set the command on a concerted path to change AETC's operational mindset.

"C3 is a culture, it's an idea, it's a way of thinking about resources that we need to change," said Col. Charles Fiquett, AETC financial management director. "How can I as an Airman make things better and do things more efficiently, and oh by the way, also save money?"

Fiquett said if $3 per day can be save for every Airman in AETC, it would amount to $75 million dollars in savings per year.

AETC generates these savings through idea submissions. Airmen around the command have already come up with 380 cost-saving ideas, which have potentially yielded $87 million in savings.

Ideas can be submitted through the C3 webpage at where you can also track your installation's progress on the C3 "leader board."

Another important initiative, EPME Next, changes enlisted professional military education.

"At the end of a two year period of development, we will have a completely transformed enlisted force development model," said Col. Stewart Price, Barnes Center commander.

Price said EPME Next will allow enlisted members to be selected for PME based on time in service and time in grade according to their Air Force specialty code rather than based on promotion.

The transformation will be made possible through use of distance-based learning, he said. Through use of distance learning the Air Force will be able to save millions of dollars by reducing the number of temporary duty days associated with the PME experience of today's NCO Academy and Senior NCO Academy.

Price said the Chief's Leadership Course will also be affected by EPME Next changes. The CLC will become a facilitated distance learning course similar to company grade officer, NCO and senior NCO courses currently in place.

"Normalize our thinking" also applies to what Rice refers to as Airmen's time. The discussion proposed a question: As technology and capabilities increase and more responsibilities become decentralized to the Airmen, how much responsibility will Airmen be able to maintain individually?

"Sooner or later there becomes more than an Airman can reasonably do in a day," said Rice referring to workload-constrained manpower.

A manpower study conducted by the command showed AFSCs that required Airmen to be away from their office were particularly stressed when it came to fulfilling secondary work requirements such as ancillary training and additional duties.

Rice said the issue could worsen if the command, as a whole, doesn't take a closer look at the problem.

"At the end of the day, we have to understand what that demand on an Airman's time is and be intentional about how we're going to manage it," said Rice. "It's not sufficient enough for us as leaders -- when in fact you might even say it's irresponsible for us as leaders -- to not pay attention to this; to assume that everything that we're asking an Airman to do can be done in a reasonable amount of time, because we have plenty of evidence that that's not true."

AETC is currently evaluating potential solutions to the current demands placed on Airman's time.

"The conference provided an invaluable opportunity for the leadership of AETC to address many of the key issues affecting our command," said Rice. I remain confident that our Airmen, at all levels, understand not only the challenges we face but the opportunities we have to shape our future in a positive way."

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