February Commander's Corner
By Lt. Col. Michael Dunkin, 169th Comptroller Flight
/ Published January 29, 2015
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- After years of declining budgets and strained resources the 169th Fighter Wing received a little bit of a break this year. The National Guard Bureau provided the base with a 10 percent increase in our base operating budget and several additional temporary full-time positions. NGB has finally realized (after years of briefings and explanations by wing leadership) that the Swamp Foxes have done more with less for too many years. We should all take pride in the fact that the wing that was able to do a stand-alone AEF for the first time in ANG history, stand up an alert mission, and deploy supporting forces like civil engineers and security forces did it while dealing with reduced resources. All of this was only possible because of the hard work and dedication of each member of the organization. Over the years you have found ways to make things last just a little longer than was thought possible; discovered new methods to accomplish the task; and worked the extra hours necessary to get the job done. You have achieved all this while experiencing an operations tempo that only made things more difficult. There are not enough superlatives to describe your work. Even Senator Graham, during the Eagle Vision dedication, mentioned how "Swamp Foxes are known for being good stewards of the taxpayers money".
Programs like AFREP have filled in the gaps when necessary and have been expertly managed to ensure the funds flow at just the right time. Supervisors have scrutinized expenses and asked the tough question "is this a need or a want?". Units who were able to return funds have done so in a timely manner to make them available to the entire base. This allowed us to spend 99 percent of our annual budget every year. When other wings were unprepared for the end of year process where NGB would grab excess funds the 169th was able to justify additional funding. In the last year organizations like CE, SFS, and CF were able to secure new equipment or authorities because of their sound financial planning and the reputation of the 169th Fighter Wing. This year we will have an opportunity to restock and resupply some (not all) of what we have been missing but with every bit of good news though there comes some bad news.
Fiscal Year 2015 may look rosy but FY16 looks challenging. Unless changes are made to the current laws, sequestration returns next year. These are the dreaded forced cuts to the Department of Defense spending placed into budget agreements years ago and referred to some as the poison pill. It was deemed so unbearable that the thought was that neither political party would accept them and they would be forced into some kind of agreement. We received a break from them in FY 14 and FY 15 but without legislative action they will return in FY 16. What exactly that impact will be or will it be averted by some other action is impossible to tell at this moment. The old adage of "an ounce of cure is worth a pound of prevention" may serve us well at this time. Throughout this year we should review our programs and plans to make sure we are maximizing the resources not only now but into the future as well. Be concerned about the repair costs of that new piece of equipment. How long will it really last? Is there another way to achieve that same objective? All of the questions we are familiar with become even more important when we may face budgets that are smaller than those from FY 14 and 15. Our response is the same from years past: Doing the best with what we have and exceeding the expectations of everyone.