AU commander and president talks inspection, opportunities

by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs

9/2/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Q: Having been on the job for two weeks now and hosting in-briefs with the centers and directorates, what are your initial take-aways? What are your initial impressions?

A: This is my third full assignment here at Maxwell-Gunter and at the Air University. I will say that it's nice to know that some things don't change. My initial impression is that we continue to produce the future through very high-quality education. The gold standard that has been the Air University trademark in the past remains today. I'm very, very pleased, having travelled around to the various centers and headquarters directorates, to see that gold standard in action and to experience firsthand, the commitment of our folks, with their very positive attitudes and their attention to detail.

Q: You've said your immediate focus area is the compliance inspection. How is the organization looking?

A: The organization is looking solid. I've had the opportunity in the orientation visits that I've conducted to get briefs from the various center commanders and directors, and (get our leaders') personal assessments of where their respective organizations are at with regards to compliance. Folks are feeling very positive about where we stand today. I am confident that we will pass this inspection. That said, having been a former major command inspector general and having been on the giving end of these inspections, I can guarantee you that the "make or break" is when the inspection is ongoing, and the attitudes that the inspectors sense from our team. If we are a strong sat(isfactory), we could become an excellent with a very positive attitude; if we are a strong excellent, we could become an outstanding with a very positive attitude. It's really going to be about (Sept. 12-19) when the team is out here. We just have to project that positive "can-do" attitude, that commitment to a culture of compliance. I think we are going to do very well.

Q: Drawing on your former experience of being on the giving end during these inspections, what do you think is going to be the biggest challenge?

A: Not the biggest challenge, but the biggest opportunity is going to be the attitude that the inspector general team senses from the Air University and the 42nd Air Base Wing. We need to put everything we do that week in the context of trying to establish a permanent culture of compliance here at the Air University. I think it's an opportunity to shine, and we need to take full advantage of that.

Q: What advice do you have as everyone gets ready for the inspection?

A: Now, it's really boiling down to the polishing up work in the final couple of weeks that we have left before the inspector general team arrives, and when they arrive it's all about our positive attitude and our ability to communicate that we are committed to a culture of compliance.

Q: One of your near-term focus areas is blended learning. What's on the horizon there?

A: We are going to continue moving down the path towards blended learning approaches to education. The Department of Education is on the record endorsing this approach as the wave of the future for education within the United States of America, and I am personally convinced that blended learning offers us the ability to continue to provide the high-quality education that the Air University is known for in a resource constrained environment. What we'll be doing is coupling information technology with resident experience to continue to provide the very best education we can to our Airmen, be they officer, enlisted or civilian.

Q: Another one of your focuses is advancing thought in the field of cyberspace. Discuss how you anticipate doing that.

A: A couple of months ago, a friend of mine, (Maj. Gen.) Ed Bolton, who is in charge of cyber policy for the Air Staff, made reference to the fact that (in) the cyberspace domain, he believes we, the United States Air Force, are in the inter-war years. That's a historic reference to the time period between World War I and World War II. It struck a chord with me, because we here at Maxwell Air Force Base were home to the Air Corps Tactical School during the inter-war years. It was the Air Corps Tactical School, the great minds that were in attendance at that school, that advanced thought on how to both plan and execute air power operations, and their ideas heavily influenced how we conducted air operations during World War II.

So when he made reference to the inter-war years in cyber, I thought perhaps we can establish something along the lines of a Cyber Air Corps Tactical School. What I've realized between then and now is we have a lot of very good activity going on in terms of research in the area of cyberspace. What I would like to do is network all of those various think-tanks, all that intellectual capital, and thereby advance thought in the area of cyberspace. We'll be looking into ways to do that. We're not talking about brick and mortar; we're not talking a brand new school here at Maxwell. We're just talking about better connecting all the good work currently being done inside and outside the Air University with regards to cyber operations.

Q: Your third focus area is building advocacy of the Air University via the Board of Visitors and the Command Board of Advisors. What will that effort entail?

A: It remains to be seen. The idea here though is that we need folks outside of the Air University to be advocating for not just our university but for the overall importance of education for our Airmen. We're going to try to focus the next Board of Visitors meeting in November on this very topic. We're going to try to solicit ideas from the board members as to how they can better advocate on our behalf. We will also have a meeting in the January timeframe with the Command Board of Advisors. That's a group of all the major command vice commanders, and we'll have a very similar agenda where we solicit their ideas as to how they can better advocate on our behalf and on behalf of Air Force professional military education.