***image1***For the past four years, Gen. Roger A. Brady has been the Air Force’s senior officer in charge of all personnel issues from force shaping to education and training.
As he takes his new assignment as commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, he took a moment to discuss the challenges and successes of his tenure at the Pentagon and the challenges ahead.
“While there were some challenging times and some subjects I wish we’d never had to deal with, it was a great learning experience for me,” General Brady said. “It’s been a great opportunity to have input in how the Air Force takes care of its people.”
For the general, force shaping presented a unique challenge. As the Air Force continues to be fully engaged in the war, the need remains to recapitalize and modernize aging aircraft. To do that within budgetary constraints meant a reduction of 40,000 full-time positions, the general said.
“We have to look beyond the current conflict to make sure we’re prepared for whatever comes next,” he said.
“(My generation) was provided the world’s best equipment to make sure we could not only survive but prevail in the battlespace, and we owe that to the generation coming behind us,” he said.
“This reduction obviously has impact on real people with real lives and aspirations,” General Brady said. “We’ve tried to do this with as much respect for the force as we can. Congress has been very helpful by providing us with the authority to pay people separation bonuses, and things of that nature, so they can get on with their lives in another capacity.”
As the Air Force continues to reduce the force over the next two years, General Brady said Airmen must understand they cannot continue to do their jobs the same way they have in the past.
“We have to change our processes (because) the reality of the losses is now starting to be felt in the field,” he said. “We have to change the way we’ve done things, and this may mean we stop doing things in some places. We have to streamline some things.”
The personnel career field has streamlined several processes over the past few years, General Brady said. Several services that Airmen could previously access at their military personnel flights have been moved online, with a 24/7 call center to assist, dramatically changing the way personnelists interface with their customers.
“(Previously) 90 percent of our work was face-to-face interaction, so the challenge remains for the people we serve to interface with us differently,” the general said. “Instead of driving over to the (military personnel flight) to fill out forms, you can do it from your desktop. It saves you time, but you have to do a little self help.
“We have more work to do, but we have a great group of professional folks who understand what needs to be done,” he said. “We’re working very closely with our customers to make sure we continue to provide them the same level of service we’ve provided in the past; we’re just doing it a little differently.”
As efforts continue to equip the force for the demands of an expeditionary environment, there is also a need to further develop Airmen through education and training, General Brady said.
“We have some great educational initiatives from Air University (at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.) having to do with more consistent development for the noncommissioned officer corps,” he said. “We’re trying to get the authority for bachelor’s degrees for our enlisted, and more distance learning for master’s degrees and Ph.D.s for the handful of people we need to operate at that level.”
With the war on terrorism waging on, General Brady said there are more challenges ahead. The number of 365-day deployment requirements is growing and Airmen will continue to fill “in-lieu-of” positions. The priority is to ensure the Airmen filling those requirements are trained and equipped to do so, and the Air Force will not accept an ILO tasking that is clearly outside an Airman’s competency.