March Madness

  • Published
  • By Col. David W. Robertson
  • 513th Air Control Group
This past month, basketball fans have been afflicted with "March Madness," college basketball's unpredictable playoff season. The 513th Air Control Group has experienced its own form of March Madness with the announcement of the proposed FY 15/FY 16 defense budget. I know we as a team were shocked and frustrated with the proposal to deactivate the 513 ACG and reduce the number of E-3 tails here at Tinker AFB. It's hard to read in black and white that, during these difficult fiscal times, the 513th team may suffer the axe of budgetary necessity.

There are some important things to note as we face the uncertainty of the next several months. First and foremost is that the budget at this point is still just a proposal; the final product will certainly be different than what is proposed. We are still in the "dust settling" phase of the budgeting process, as Congress has yet to fully weigh in on the proposal. Indeed, some of Oklahoma's congressional delegation have publicly expressed disagreement with the proposals that will affect both the active-duty and reserve AWACS communities. Also, the timeline that has been published shows a proposal to inactivate the 513 ACG in FY 2016. We are unsure when during FY 2016, but this should give us plenty of cushion should the budget proposal become law.

If the proposal should become reality, rest assured that it will be my number one priority to ensure everyone - ARTs, TRs and civilians alike - in the 513 ACG is given the opportunity to continue their service in the Air Force and/or civil service. AFRC and civilian personnel who find themselves displaced by unit closure have many programs available to assist them.

Master Sgt. Michelle Paperini has put together a thorough slide show of options that you should have received via email. We will continue to communicate with you via email and town halls as information becomes available. It's my pledge to you that we will communicate new information as it becomes available.

There is something I ask of each of you - continue to do the mission safely and with the excellence that is the hallmark of the 513 ACG. Perhaps there will come a time when the 513th is unable to perform its mission, but that time is NOT now. As I mentioned in the last town hall meeting, if we stop doing our job well, then we are guaranteed to fail. Press on with vigor and determination during these trying times and ensure the mission is done safely and effectively.

Finally, as I also mentioned in the last town hall, I am optimistic about the future. These are surely uncertain times for our 513th family; however, I'm hopeful for what lies ahead even as we lay the groundwork for the possibility of deactivation. Take care of each other, be good wingmen and stay optimistic as we navigate the future together.