2010: This is the year for a call to arms

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- For centuries, battles have begun with a "call to arms," the beating of drums, or sounding of bugles. Even in modern warfare, we initiate our efforts with some kind of undeniable "start."

It's in our constitution ("the Congress shall have power to declare war"). The declaration matters to us. Maybe it's wrapped up in the human psyche, but we somehow need to acknowledge things are about to change, and make that first step count.

Even our sporting events start with a gunshot, coin toss or other significant indicator that the game is "on." In some ways, a new year provides this spark.

With 2009 "in the books" and arguably the best ever in our history, 2010 offers us a fresh start in so many ways. A new "decade."

A "reset" on many of the things we look at for clues that things aren't going according to plan. New teammates are on board. Fresh ideas from our "back in the saddle" activity. There's just something energizing about the new year, and we need to focus this new energy on the challenges ahead.

Right off the bat, we're kicking off our "war on waste" campaign. Nothing is off the table. While we will always wrestle with external pressures that tie our hands and keep some of our best ideas out of reach, I'm all for a "re-attack" and looking at how we can run over, through or around those obstacles.

I'm not talking about breaking laws or violating instructions. I'm talking about finding ways to convince those who may not understand our mission that we have safety nets they might not have thought about when they set "the rules."

I'm planning to send forward "the mother of all waiver packages" if that's what it takes to get us moving forward. But we have to work inside the walls while that process drags on. That's OK. We're in this for the long haul.

We need your ideas now more than ever. "We've always done it this way" is a bankrupt strategy. I know you have a better way on your mind. Let's dig it out, think through it and see what it takes to give it a try.

Next, a fresh challenge is on the horizon. We're already feeling the squeeze from last year's budget cuts. It will take some time to adjust, and work our way through with a leaner, meaner machine. But there's no indication that we'll see more dollars in 2011, so now is the time to seriously challenge what we're doing and why. Anything we can scrape off the plate is literally money in the bank. We need some.

Finally, a new commitment. To our mission, our team and to each other. That's really what "back in the saddle" was all about. Recognizing that it takes commitment to keep our heads in the game, and keep enough awareness available to see when our teammates might need a boost.

We have a special bond here. This is so much more than "a job." Part of what makes this place special is the untiring motivation to accomplish things that establish new boundaries, break down old walls and literally show the world what good ol' American ingenuity can do. Seeing this happen all around us makes us part of something special. Fires me up every day. Hear the hum of 16T? The rumble of the G-range? Is that a rocket blast in J-6? Sparks are flying in the model shop, the arcs are spewing flames, and there's a roar from the J-cells. That's the sound of FREEDOM baby! And we know this isn't easy. That's why we came here.

The tough stuff doesn't phase us. The impossible? Well, that might take a little longer. Don't tell us it can't be done. We've been proving that wrong for 50-plus years. Time to do it again in 2010.

I'm thrilled to share this new year with you. So many fantastic efforts are either underway or kicking off. Together, we will make 2009 "one of the best years" as we crush it by what we do in 2010.

LET'S GO!!