Power in numbers

  • Published
  • By Lt. Gen. Douglas Owens
  • Vice Commander, Air Education and Training Command
One of the great things about the American people is their ability to rally and even sacrifice in a crisis. When it comes to energy conservation, there have been several notable periods in American history when the American people willingly incorporated small daily changes into their lives to preserve resources for the greater good. For instance during World War II, fuel and even food was rationed. And during the oil crisis of 1973 and again in 1979, people adjusted thermostats and slowed down to lower driving speeds to conserve energy. When it comes to energy conservation in our Air Force today, we need that same level of commitment from our Airmen. And when I say Airmen, I also mean civilians, contractors, families - all of us. Every dollar not wasted on excessive energy is another dollar that we can put to better use elsewhere in order for us to accomplish our mission.

When it comes to energy conservation, the "little things" do matter. Such as turning off computer monitors and lights and keeping the thermostat at a reasonable temperature. While I applaud those already making energy saving choices, we need to do more. The change we need is for Airmen to take a look at their work center and the processes they manage, and to really scrutinize the use of energy and make changes to increase energy efficiency. Each of you are subject matter experts in the field and you know your work center better than anyone. If each Airman can make a small change to increase efficient energy use in the work center and make the action habitual, the impact would be remarkable. That impact wouldn't just stop at the work center or here at the Air Education and Training Command Headquarters, these ideas could be shared and adopted by other Airmen across our service. We can turn that small impact into larger savings throughout the Air Force. There is power in numbers.

As part of the energy conservation effort here, we've partnered with the Secretary of the Air Force Installation Energy office to stand up a Partnership and Outreach Energy Steering Group, with AETC serving as the MAJCOM champion. Three working groups exist within this steering group: strategic communications, external engagements and education and training. Strategic communications has been developing and implementing various energy and communication themes, messages and awareness campaigns to communicate Air Force energy priorities to our personnel and those outside the Air Force. The second group, external engagements, establishes and facilitates cooperation between U.S. and international partners on energy security issues. The third working group is education and training, AETC's primary mission. This group is tasked to focus on educating and training military and civilian personnel to think about energy wisely. In essence, the group's charge is to incorporate energy awareness into Air Force training and education programs within the command.

The education and training group took a threefold approach by focusing on three key areas: energy awareness, energy conservation and energy security, all in an effort to change Air Force culture. The group found that many of our training and education venues are lacking instruction about energy. Energy education doesn't have to involve inserting a whole new block of instruction into a lesson plan. It's about focusing our mindset to look at how tasks are currently being done and coming up with the energy smart way of accomplishing them. Currently, the group is identifying schools and Air Force Specialty Codes that could benefit from this energy culture change.

Although these are all great efforts, this outreach could be much, much larger with your help. I encourage every Airman to take this opportunity to really evaluate your work center and find better ways to save energy. The bottom line is that a strong energy posture enables our war fighters, expands our operational effectiveness, and enhances our national security. With your help, we can identify and adapt tools and practices to decrease energy consumption and improve energy efficiency. There truly is power in numbers - and power in the will of Airmen to pitch in together to conserve energy.