Clean the junk and show your pride

Base Info

Clean the junk and show your pride

by: Lt. Col. William F. Ray | .
51st Maintenance Group | .
published: February 12, 2014

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- When I was a young lieutenant at Eglin Air Force Base, a friend of mine from tech school dropped by for a visit. I proudly walked him through our squadron hangar to show him our aircraft and how much real estate I was in charge of in my first job in the Air Force. We passed through the hangar and entered a long area with equipment cages on either side of the centerline. The largest of the cages was owned by another squadron and was filled with discarded furniture and other junk while my squadron had aircraft equipment outside the cage. My friend asked why we didn't take the junk in the cage to DRMO (Defense Reutilization Marketing Office) and put our equipment in the cage. I was surprised by the question and explained that I would love to but it wasn't our junk. What he said next changed how I have looked at junk in my AOR for my two decades of service. He said simply, "So?"

My friend was right and I needed space. The following week, I negotiated with the owning squadron to dispose of their junk in return for ownership of the cage. They agreed and in just a few weeks we reclaimed more than 3,000 square feet of storage area for my squadron.

In the mid-2000 era, the Air Force adopted all sorts of great initiatives that can be summed up by AFSO21(Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century) with varying degrees of enthusiasm including 6S (Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, Sustain, and Safety). The 6S program is simply cleaning up stray "stuff" and organizing it to maximize your work environment. In military terms, it's adding a degree of "dress-right-dress" to your organization and, after all, we are the military. And it's easy.

In September and October of 2013 the 51st Maintenance Group under took on an ambitious plan to clean up the maintenance complex. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of some outstanding Air Force leaders, we cleared every protective aircraft shelters of stray junk and only allowed back into the PAS what was needed for our daily operations and could be easily removed to support other operations. We moved several thousands of pounds of discarded furniture, obsolete equipment and stray debris and gained back much-needed real estate in a very constricted environment.

However, as I look around Osan, I realize there's still much more to be done within the maintenance complex and beyond. My boss talks repeatedly about "owners" and "renters." Ownership is difficult to achieve at Osan because of the relatively short nature of the assignments. I know we have had generations of owners and renters come before us and the renters have left us work to do. However, I challenge you to be the catalyst for cleaning your organization even though you didn't generate the mess. Be that person that asks, "So?" That same junk exists in your organization whether it's a cage, a PAS, an office, or simply a closet. It's there and you have to actively hunt for it. Recoup some real estate for your organization. Improve your foxhole. Own your base. Show your Osan and Air Force pride!

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