By Staff Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
The Air Force Space Command vice commander hosted an all call Feb. 12 during his visit to Schriever Air Force Base.
Lt. Gen. John Hyten’s initial message to the Team Schriever audience was one of thanks for welcoming him home.
“It’s really great to be home and that’s really what it feels like,” Hyten said, who previously served in commanding roles of the 595th Space Group and 50th Space Wing here.
During the all call, Hyten discussed various issues affecting the command, such as budget constraints, potential sequestration and potential impacts to military and civilian members.
According to the general, sequestration and budget cuts will affect everyone, especially military and civilian members. The law, if it goes into effect, will require the Department of Defense to take drastic across-the-board spending reductions.
If sequestration does happen, the Air Force will incur a $12.4 billion shortfall for fiscal year 2013. That figure is compounded by a potential sequestration shortfall of $1.8 billion in overseas contingency operations.
“It will get ugly and it will get uglier,” he said.
With the budget sequestration, a major concern is the potential furlough of government civilians.
“I know what civilians do for this base and the mission. This is going to be a challenge. If we are forced into a furlough, it will be a last resort. We will ensure our civilians get at least 30 days advanced notice and we’ll apply it equitably across the Air Force. But I hope we don’t get to that point,” said Hyten, who remains optimistic that a sequestration will be avoided.
Additionally, Hyten said budget sequestration will hit everyone because “we all have friends and partners” who will be personally impacted. He offered the 22nd Space Operations Squadron as an example of the local impact on the wing’s mission. The squadron’s schedulers are civilians, whose training alone takes eight months to a year.
This is an issue that cannot be easily mitigated through military manpower.
“If you train military personnel, by the time they are proficient, it’s time for them move to another base,” he said. “This puts a burden on this wing.”
Due to large portion defense reflects in the national budget, the general said the defense department is a player in reducing the national debt as demonstrated by the cuts taken to date.
“We have to do this because our greatest threat is the budget deficit,” Hyten said.
He followed this topic on a more positive note highlighting the 50th Space Wing’s innovation efforts, specifically, the integrated operations environment. This initiative, inspired by the general during his tenure as the wing’s commander, integrates the multiple operations of Department of Defense military satellite communications systems and architectures into a single floor creating greater opportunity for efficiency and synergy.
“There’s room to fundamentally change the way we do business,” the AFSPC vice commander said. “It’s a vision of the future and it’s becoming reality here. You’re making a difference for every [service member] today.”
Another way business is changing follows the Air Force’s decision to split the space and missile career fields. He said this is beneficial to the Air Force.
“We lost the ability to produce space and missile experts when they were together,” Hyten said. “[Splitting the two career fields] allows us to build experts on satellites and experts on missiles.”
However, this may pose a challenge to the Air Force, especially to senior NCOs due to their increased responsibility of honing the skills of new space officers, he said.
Before taking questions from the audience, the general applauded the efforts of each and every Airman at Schriever for their role in support of the base’s mission.
“You don’t just fly the satellites, you don’t just operate the networks and you don’t just defend the base,” Hyten said. “You provide warfighting effects to our forces in theater and around the world.”
Col. James Ross, 50 SW commander, opened and closed the all call with the general.
“I want to thank you for coming here and your heartfelt love and support for this base and the mission,” Ross said.