Air Force Secretary Wants to Dump Outdated Rules that Burden Airmen

FILE PHOTO -- Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson speaks to the audience at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., Jan. 18, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Wayne A. Clark)
FILE PHOTO -- Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson speaks to the audience at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., Jan. 18, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Wayne A. Clark)

At an Air Force Association breakfast Friday, the Secretary of the Air Force talked up the service's progress in ridding the service of outdated rules and procedures that burden airmen.

When she took office in May, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson ordered a two-year review of the service's blizzard of instructions, policies and rules with the overall goal of eliminating the unnecessary ones. Since then, the Air Force has gotten rid of about 100 of the total of about 1,400 instructions, she said.

As an example, Wilson cited a regulation that would have required her as Air Force secretary to sign off on how an obstacle course could be constructed on a base.

"We have an instruction on how to build an obstacle course," Wilson said. "My guess is, if they need to build an obstacle course, they can probably figure it out."

Wilson said the work continues to whittle down the Air Force's body of rules and regulations.

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"We are prioritizing the ones that are outdated and actually track them every month," Wilson said. "The biggest challenge we have been facing is in personnel and operations" as the Air Force presses to push decision-making down to the lowest levels to save time and money.

In addition to eliminating red tape, the Air Force is also intent on teaching airmen to act on their own initiative, she said.

"We don't expect in future conflicts to have the exquisite command, control and communication we've had over the last 27 years of combat" as potential adversaries become more adept at jamming, Wilson said.

"We will need airmen to take what they know and take mission orders and execute the mission using their best judgment for the circumstances at the time. If we expect them to work that way in wartime, then we need to treat them that way in peacetime," she said.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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