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Space Command leader calls for innovation amid budget cuts

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFNS) -- Innovation and cost-saving ideas will help ensure the Air Force keeps its warfighting readiness despite significant, ongoing budget cuts, said the commander of Air Force Space Command.

General William L. Shelton spoke April 15, to members of the 38th Cyberspace Engineering Installation Group here.

"If there ever was a time for innovation, this is it," Shelton said. "That's the only way we're going to get through these next few years of declining budgets. We have to think our way through this.

"There's that famous old saying -- we've run out of money and now we have to think. That's where we're at."

Shelton praised the more than 650-member group's cutting-edge work around the globe. He listed the major achievements for 38th CEIG in the past year, including 17 quarterly and four annual awards at the wing level.

Wing members also managed and implemented 216 communications modernization projects at 85 bases, Shelton said.

"That's just an amazing list of accomplishments, and I hope you're all proud of that," General Shelton said. "I hope you see it the same way I do, for the effect that it's having across the Air Force -- not just inside the cyber family, but literally every Airman across the Air Force is affected by what you do. It's just tremendous work."

The 38th CEIG is described as the Air Force's premier engineering and installation group, "The backbone of the cyberspace domain." Airmen and civilian members engineer and install cyberspace infrastructure for communications and offensive and defensive air, space and cyberspace operations.

The general said he's never seen anything like the cuts facing the military through Congress' sequestration law. The 2011 law led to deep, across-the-board cuts when Congress failed to reach agreement on more targeted spending cuts.

"In almost a 38-year career, I've never seen anything that's this serious in terms of what we're throwing at our leadership, what we're throwing at our people and what we're expecting people to do with fewer resources," Shelton said.

In budget planning, Shelton described how Air Force leaders wrestle with directives imposed by Congress and the secretary of defense, all the while meeting the branch's mission to fight and win wars ranging from insurgencies to near-peer conflicts.

He told group members that the budget realities are "our time." It's a challenge to be embraced, he said.

"Whatever you can do to come up with solutions that really do save us money and provide additional capability across the Air Force, we're all for it," Shelton said. "I'll be the greatest champion for those solutions, because we need them."

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