Bloom Where You're Planted!

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Richard Devereaux
  • 82nd Training Wing Commander
One of the hot topics of conversation around Team Sheppard is the new Permanent Change of Station (PCS) policy. 

The policy seeks to save PCS costs by increasing the time between moves for most active duty personnel. On average, most of us will tend to stay about one year longer at each assignment. Many of our Sheppard families are already on stabilized 48-month tours. 

The new policy will add another year to most non-rated tours here at Sheppard, including those who are already on an approved extension. It'll give us all the opportunity to more fully "bloom" here at Sheppard. 

Why is the Air Force doing this? Plain and simple, it's to save money. Each year we spend millions of dollars moving our people and their families around the country and around the world. By extending tour lengths, the Air Force can save 25-30 percent of its overall PCS budget and use that money to pay operating costs and continue to modernize the force. 

In order to effectively fight this Global War on Terror and simultaneously transform our force to obtain the modern capabilities, we need to continue to dominate the air, space and cyberspace, we must be as efficient as possible with the resources the American public provides us. Rising fuel costs, higher GWOT costs and restrictions on retiring older aircraft have eroded the buying power of the Air Force by approximately $20B each year over the next six years, forcing us to take strong measures, like this new PCS policy, to balance our books. 

I've heard several concerns regarding the impact of the PCS policy on professional development. While the concerns are understandable, the good news is that everyone is in the same boat. 

Within any particular specialty, the vast majority will be staying in place longer, so no one individual or career field should be unfairly impacted by this policy. In fact, besides the monetary savings, I see several benefits for our people and their families: 

· Improved family stability. Less frequent moves provide more stability for our families. This means better opportunities for spouse employment and education, better school continuity for our kids, and less out-of-pocket PCS expenses. 

· Improved opportunity for education. Longer tour lengths make it easier to continue your education and earn that next degree and reduce the "lost credits" that often come with a PCS education. 

· Improved productivity. At most Air Force bases, we turn over about 1/3 of our active duty work force each year. This causes tremendous strain on workload and processes because of the time required to train newly assigned personnel in their jobs and work around manning gaps. By reducing the number of PCSs, we ease the magnitude of the "summer shortfall" that we all have had to deal with over a course of a career. 

· Improved job knowledge and depth. Staying longer in our jobs will enable us to become more proficient and experienced in our positions, leading to increased efficiencies and productivity. Over the course of a career, we strive for both breadth and depth of experience. The new policy will enhance the depth of experience we get from our positions. 

I don't want to imply that this new policy is without a down side. I realize this policy disappoints families who were looking forward to a move this year and will somewhat reduce professional broadening opportunities. But the good news is that there are more opportunities for broadening and development at a large base like Sheppard than what you might find at a smaller installation. 

The new policy does not restrict the opportunity for PCA moves. Commanders and supervisors should continue to look for ways to broaden the professional experience of our folks here at Sheppard. Also, we should be all thankful that our tours are being extended at a base with a very supportive community and good schools. 

The bottom line message of this new policy is to "bloom where you're planted." Worry less about where the Air Force sends you, but instead strive to make every assignment you have the richest, most rewarding experience possible for you and your family. 

Have a safe weekend Team Sheppard!