'Falcon Eyes' seeks to improve base appearance

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The 10th Air Base Wing is asking Academy personnel to go the extra mile to keep the Academy in tip-top shape. 

A new program called "Falcon Eyes," with its kindred verb "Falcon-ize," is now underway and in high gear. 

It is, in its simplest form, good housekeeping to ensure construction sites, unit facility areas, gates, roads, parking lots, and work spaces are decluttered and take on a more tidy, clean face for those who live, work and visit the Academy, and it takes everyone to see where improvements can be made, said 10th Air Base Wing commander Col. Rick LoCastro. 

"There are lots of Air Force bases ... but only one Air Force Academy," Colonel LoCastro said. "Our installation is the premier base in the Air Force ... and we need to ensure it continues to look as special as it is." 

It's clear the 10th ABW is reinvigorated and moving out quickly on improving areas and service all over the base and with a motto of focusing on people, base, and job, the colonel said. 

"Falcon Eyes touches all three of our key areas," he said. "This Academy belongs to all of us, and we are all extensions of the superintendent's office. As we drive or walk by areas and we put Falcon Eyes on something we are not proud of, let's act. This program affects people, improves the appearance of our base and causes us to think differently about how we do our jobs." 

Eddie Lee, director of the Academy's Community Relations Division, said that at least 450,000 guests pass through the Barry Goldwater Visitor Center every year. With additional visitors for athletics, special events and short stops at the Chapel and other Academy facilities, he estimates the total number of visitors to be easily well over 1 million. 

"We have an open house here every single day," Colonel LoCastro said. . "Whether it's 50 visitors or 50,000, we want them to see their Air Force Academy at its best." 

The idea for the terms "Falcon Eyes" and "Falcon-ize" came from observing the Academy's mascots. 

"Unlike the wild turkeys we often see around our Academy, which tend to be self-involved, narrowly focused, and often with little awareness of their surroundings, falcons see a bigger and total picture", Colonel LoCastro said. "They are sharp and in tune to their entire environment and are always thinking ahead. They sense what's happening around them, and they're constantly analyzing it." 

One effort to improve the appearance of construction sites is work being done around the outside of Mitchell Hall. Sandbags and warped plywood walls draped in yellow tape to keep non-construction personnel at bay have been replaced with professional-looking chains and stanchions, which are more attractive and can be used repeatedly for other projects. Other construction sites and visible areas around the installation have also been "Falcon-ized." 

Academy personnel are encouraged to keep their eyes open for other areas, such as overflowing trash bins, overgrown weeds, litter and discarded items in full view for an extended time. 

"We want everyone feeling proud this is a special place," Colonel LoCastro said. 'Falcon Eyes' is a mindset to have everything as polished as possible, in place and squared away." 

He stressed the Falcon Eyes motto of look, see, act and follow-up and urged personnel to recognize what things on the installation can be made to look better with a little more effort and attention to detail. 

"Everyone can put 'Falcon Eyes' on things and make a difference in improving our base appearance. If you see something you're not proud of, raise your hand and say something ... or just fix it," he said. 

In some cases, there may be no need for tasking the fix or improvement. Individuals are encouraged, if they can, to take care of a problem area on the spot themselves and in their own work centers and living spaces. 

Colonel LoCastro emphasized there are no magic tricks to keeping the base clean and neat. He encouraged personnel to take responsibility, but if the issue calls for a bigger fix, contact building managers, supervisors, or go directly to the unit in charge. 

"Don't dream up stuff for other people to do," he said. "Look closer to home at areas around your own space, and see how you can improve it." 

Colonel LoCastro said he is also directly accessible for observations from Falcon Eyes. 

"I'm in the (e-mail) global address list and have a phone for a reason, and so do members of the USAFA team. We all welcome inputs and observations, and, most of all, action."