Naval Station Mayport, Fla. --
Mirrors line the walls, enhancing the natural light slipping through a few partially curtained windows. A large screen is centered before the two rows of tables, arranged in a slight semi-circle, giving each attendee ample viewing. The room is large enough to accommodate everyone, yet small enough to not require a microphone for anyone speaking. A poster titled ‘Objectives’ is on the front wall, with several sticky notes attached to it, thoughts and ideas that come up, to be readdressed later on.
Group commanders and chiefs from the 125th Fighter Wing converged here for two days to review past goals of the wing and all it’s members, and hammer out ideas for the future.
“Since 2010 our wing has been doing strategic planning every six months,” said 125 FW Commander Col. Brian T. Bell. “It’s an opportunity for us to focus on the vision of the fighter wing, what makes us the premier fighter wing, and what we want to look like going forward five years from now as an organization.”
Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Souza, 125 FW Wing Command Chief, explains the process of strat planning.
“There’s no right, wrong, good, bad or different,” said Souza. “It’s trying to figure out: how do we address the problems that we have, put a metric to it? There’s a goal that we want to be at, we put the metrics to it to meet that goal. Strat planning as a whole is trying to figure out exactly what these metrics and goals are, and how we make sure that we make it to them.”
There is a reason for going off-site for this type of thinking meeting.
“It’s a chance for us to get together outside of the daily distractions,” said Bell. “It’s an opportunity to get away from the Monday through Friday emails, and the daily thrash and focus on the big rocks.”
There is also a reason for everyone being in civilian attire.
“It’s important to take the rank off a little bit here,” said Bell. “Everybody’s got an input, we don’t want any wallflowers. We want everyone to be able to express their opinion and provide unique insight on what issues are affecting their Airmen.”
The unit climate assessment, an annual survey available for every member to anonymously voice opinions, is used to help gauge the input from Airmen base wide.
“We really appreciate the time that our Airmen took, about 24 percent of our wing took the time to write comments down and take that unit climate assessment,” said Bell. “That gives us a little bit of insight on the things that they’re happy with, and the things they think we need to improve on.”
The comments and suggestions made by Airmen do get the attention of higher leadership.
“There’s a few things that I think are kind of bothering our Airmen out there, that we’re trying to get after,” said Bell. “One of them is – and I think we’re seeing this across the Air Force – they’re being weighed down on additional duties.”
Bell is shifting his commander’s priorities, which will be seen when the next strat plan rolls out.
“My big three priorities,” said Bell, “are going to be ready Airmen, realistic training, and then resource stewardship.”
Souza also has priorities, including enhanced professional military education.
“There’s the goodness of building up a professionally developed NCO all the way up to chief, and how do we do that?” said Souza. “How do we give you these opportunities?”
Part of moving forward is innovative thinking, such as the new 125 FW app.
“That app is so important now,” said Souza. “That’s how we get information out in-between drills, that thing works. Anything important that we have to get out, we’ll get out that way.”
Souza defines very simply the overall importance of strat planning.
“The intent,” said Souza, “is the Airmen get what they need.”