Gen. Gould discusses highs, lows with AFA staff|
Posted 2/3/2011 Updated 2/17/2011
by Staff Sgt. Don Branum
U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
2/3/2011 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould might have started his superintendent's call Jan. 27 with the famous first words of Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities": "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
General Gould showcased some of the outstanding achievements by Academy personnel but also warned of challenges on the horizon stemming from a proposed five-year freeze on federal discretionary spending.
President Obama proposed the pay freeze during his State of the Union address Jan. 25 in order to reduce the federal deficit. That would mean cutting between $80 billion and $100 billion from the Department of Defense budget, General Gould said.
"The Defense Department (budget) is considered discretionary spending in our system," he said. The cuts could jeopardize the vertical and/or short takeoff and landing version of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, the Marine Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and other Department of Defense acquisition programs.
The president froze pay for all federal employees in November, which affects government service, National Security Personnel System, federal wage and non-appropriated fund employees, General Gould explained. The freeze does not affect promotions, within-grade or quality-step increases, performance-based bonuses or awards or premium pay.
Cuts in the Air Force's commissioned officer end strength may also affect Academy personnel, General Gould said. The next round of force-management initiatives may include non-voluntary measures such as reduction in force boards and selective early retirements.
A third front of force management affects the cadet population, currently sitting at about 4,400. Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz have directed the Academy to reduce the cadet population to 4,000 by Oct. 1, 2012.
"Last year, we brought in about 1,285 members of the Class of '14," General Gould said. "This next class will be 1,120. The year after that will be 1,050. It's tough on our admissions people; it's going to be tough on athletics. It's going to have an impact on diversity."
The superintendent addressed three controversies that have recently surrounded the military in general and the Air Force Academy in particular. He took on what he called "the big elephant" surrounding the Air Force Academy in the media in recent weeks: the National Prayer Luncheon, scheduled to be held at the Falcon Club Feb. 10. The event will feature retired Marine Lt. Clebe McClary as keynote speaker in addition to readings from followers of Buddhist, Jewish, Protestant, Catholic and Islamic faiths.
"Let me just set something straight: this is totally voluntary," General Gould said. "If you want to go, great. If you don't want to go, great. If anybody -- and I mean this -- if anybody is feeling pressure from his or her supervisor or from anybody else to go to this, I want to know about it. (And) if those allegations are substantiated, we will deal with the individual severely. We have to set that straight: you're welcome to go; you're welcome not to go."
The superintendent reminded Academy personnel of an order he issued in April 2010 to stay clear of salvia divinorum, also known as "spice." Since then, five cadets have been dismissed from the Academy, and 25 more are under investigation.
"You need to help spread the word that this is illegal, and we will not tolerate it," he said.
Regarding the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," General Gould said the Academy would implement the policy no differently from any other policy.
"We will get this right," he said. "We will follow the letter of the law, and we will follow the spirit of the law, and we will do it together. When we talk about race, gender, cultural background, socioeconomic (background), first-generation college students; every issue we deal with here is about respect for human dignity."
The Academy's new chief diversity officer, Dr. Adis Vila, said the Academy is already on the right track with its existing diversity initiatives. She urged the staff not to settle for tolerance but to promote diversity and inclusiveness.
"Tolerance implies that there's a right group that tolerates the other," she said. "Let's create an inclusive culture that embraces each person for who he or she is and what he or she may contribute."
General Gould also highlighted a series of accomplishments by Academy personnel, including Capt. Brian Dumm, an English instructor who won the Air Force Marathon in September, and Maj. Scott Poteet, an air officer commanding who competed in the Ironman Triathlon in October. More recently, a group of cadets with the Leaders in Flight Today program made life a bit brighter for the family members of 4th Infantry Division Soldiers deployed out of Fort Carson.
"There's one really neat, touching story about this. One of our cadets -- a big guy, a football player -- got teamed up with a little bitty boy early in the morning. That little boy didn't let go of his hand all day long," General Gould said. "He wouldn't let go."
General Gould said the Academy staff can persevere through the tough times by relying on one another and helping agencies, and he thanked everyone for contributing to the Academy's mission.
"As we get into this semester and lead toward graduation, which we'll all celebrate in late May, I want you to know how much we appreciate your efforts to make it all happen," he said.
EXCELLENCE AT USAFA
Editor's Note: The stories below were featured as examples of excellence at the Air Force Academy in the Jan. 27 superintendent's call.
- Dr. Fran Pilch named Colorado professor of the year: Story
- Academy Airmen finish strong at AF Marathon: Story
- Maj. Scott Poteet competes in Ironman Triathlon: Story
- AFA firefighters return to world stage: Story
- Fixing the Academy: Story
- FalconSat-5 operations: Story
- Wings of Blue wins 47 medals at nationals: Story
- Soaring program gives cadets wings: Story
- Cadets LIFT spirits of Fort Carson families: Story
- NASA seeks Academy's astronautics knowhow: Story
- F-15 pilot selected to receive Jabara Award: Story
- Academy hits milestone for new CCLD: Story