The first day of AFA has come and gone. And while gloom prevails in the era of slashing budgets — and let me tell you, the swag at the various convention exhibits has been seriously lacking — the message from higher-ups is that all this talk about “everything on the table” is starting to freak people out. It may be time to rewrite the austerity talking points.
Secretary Michael Donley kicked things off in his keynote.
“While it would benefit no one to downplay the hard choices that confront us,” he said, “neither should we paint a picture that is so bleak that our service members fear that the nation is turning its back on [them].”
But perhaps the most clear message came from Command Chief Master Sgt. Todd Salzman of the Air Force Academy who said the gum-flapping over budget wrangling was taking airmen’s minds off the mission.
“We need to be real careful,” Salzman said. “That means a lot to a young airman, who is married to another young airman, when we sort of flippantly say ‘everything is on the table’ – you know, childcare, base exchange – retirement, [etc.] – because at that point they are not thinking about their job anymore, they are thinking about their family.”