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Chief Master Sgt. Anthony L. Bishop, Pacific Air Forces command chief master sergeant, during his recent visit to Yokota Air Base, Japan.
Chief Master Sgt. Anthony L. Bishop, Pacific Air Forces command chief master sergeant, during his recent visit to Yokota Air Base, Japan. (Bryce S. Dubee / S&S)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Doing more with less due to manpower reductions while maintaining a high operations tempo to support the war is one of the major challenges that airmen will face in 2007, the top enlisted airman for Pacific Air Forces said Thursday.

“Staying focused will be our biggest goal in 2007,” Chief Master Sgt. Anthony L. Bishop said during a visit to Yokota Air Base, Japan, the last stop on a tour of Japan air bases last week. “All airmen must rise to meet the challenges and obstacles that will be put before them this coming year.”

A few of those upcoming challenges include increasing financial constraints throughout the Air Force, and the reduction of total Air Force manpower, Bishop said. The Air Force plans to reduce its size by 40,000 personnel by fiscal 2011.

Bishop explained that this does not mean that airmen should be expecting to get pink slips in their mailboxes. The restructuring will be done mainly through normal attrition and by not filling certain vacancies as airmen leave the military, he said.

“If an airman wants to stay in the Air Force, he can do that,” said Bishop, but he added that the airman may need to make sacrifices such as changing to a new career field.

“Since 1947, when the Air Force was first founded, it has been a service of transformation,” Bishop said. He said airmen should be prepared to expect changes as the Air Force undergoes its current restructuring.

The best way to provide stability to airmen during these changes, he said, is through communication.

“The greatest fear is fear of the unknown,” he said.

Visiting air bases throughout the Pacific and speaking to airmen is one of the ways he is trying to provide this information and stability, Bishop said.

With the current, wartime operations tempo not showing any signs of slowing down, Bishop said PACAF leaders are working to help airmen who are returning from deployments.

By identifying upfront any difficulties that airmen may have as they readjust to life back home, Bishop said, leaders can direct airmen to the proper assistance, whether it is medical, mental, emotional or spiritual.

“Every person who deploys has a different experience and a different reaction to what they saw or did during their deployment,” he said. “We have a myriad of referral agencies at our disposal to assist our airmen once they return home.”

For the men and women he met in the Pacific region, Bishop had nothing by praise.

“I’ve seen a lot of great heroes during my trip,” he said. “Our airmen are working harder than ever before.”

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