Commander proud of team effort during trying times

  • Published
  • By Col. Sal Nodjomian
  • 96th Air Base Wing commander
I am often asked what occupies most of my time as an installation commander. Frankly, the answer varies and normally tracks with the hottest issues of the period.

Right now, and for the last several months, the budget and fiscal constraints have been a key focus area of mine. Not surprisingly, our elected officials are dealing with similar issues at the national level and many of us are dealing with the same challenges at a very personal level. I am generally a very optimistic person, but there is no hiding from the fact that these are trying times, and they're not likely to get much better any time soon.

By now, most of Team Eglin should be very aware that our budget has been drastically reduced and we are facing new challenges daily. To put that in real terms, the Air Base Wing has the challenge of providing all base operating support with $6M less than last year. To those ends, we've canceled or drastically reduced a number of services and contracts.

Just a few months ago, I made several difficult decisions that resulted in how we will conduct our day-to-day business. Most notably, three major contracts have been either eliminated or drastically reduced: building custodial, mail delivery and the grounds maintenance contracts.

We've attempted to communicate these changes as clearly as possible and I genuinely appreciate the feedback I received. We are now three weeks into this new reality of taking out our own trash (which many of you will remember as how we used to do business), and it seems to be going very smoothly. We had a few bumps and hiccups, but through teamwork and communication, we've worked out solutions. I am extremely proud of the "can-do / will-do" attitude and sense of teamwork all of you have displayed.

One area I am hopeful to see progress in as a result of the custodial cuts is recycling. One way to extend the number of days between visits to the dumpster is to ensure we divert as much recyclable material as possible. Our latest analysis shows that more than 30 percent of trash we throw out is recyclable material. If we can properly divert this waste stream into the appropriate recycle bins, Eglin could reclaim over $400,000 annually from recyclables.

With all the news coming out of Washington regarding our country's fiscal health, I am certain more changes will be required. Though I can't clearly articulate what they may be at this time, I am confident we will find the solutions that best serve team Eglin. The most important fact I want everyone to understand is Eglin will never fail to meet our commitment to supporting the warfighter. Thank you again for the tremendous team effort and for everything you do for our base and our country.