EDITORIAL COMMENT: The Serving Line
So far, 2013 is anything but dull. It has been a rollercoaster ride as the federal budget climbed up the debt ceiling, slipped down the steep precipice of the fiscal cliff, then accelerated into the sharp g-force, hairpin-turn of sequestration; all while the government was funded at 2012 levels because the president and congress could not agree on a 2013 spending plan.
The military logistics food community has not been enjoying the ride. Budget constraints are limiting military travel during 2013, disrupting the conferences that bring the logistics food community together and feature training that sharpens culinary skills and contributes to morale.
A hopeful sign is the military food community managed to find ways to continue the culinary award programs that recognize hard work, encourage a commitment to excellence and improve the quality of life for service members.
Winners were selected and announced for the 2013 Marine Corps Maj. Gen. W.P.T. Hill Memorial award program for foodservice excellence. Also, the Military Sealift Command selected and named winners in its annual Capt. David M. Cook awards, which recognize excellence in food service.
The Navy is also said to have selected winners in the Capt. Edward F. Ney, SC, USN, program, which combines training to improve culinary skill with recognition of top foodservice performers and, at press time, was awaiting approval from the Secretary of the Navy before announcing them.
The Air Force is working to evaluate Air Force foodservice programs and airmen with culinary skill to select winners of the John L. Hennessy and Air National Guard Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth W. Disney Awards. Similarly, the Army is completing evaluations to select winners for the Philip A. Connelly Award for excellence in food service.
These awards, and the partnerships they promote with associations, industry and the military, are highly regarded. Everyone is committed to preserving these valuable and mutually beneficial relationships, even as the future remains uncertain.
With passage of the 2013 defense appropriations bill, as this issue was being prepared for press, perhaps the situation will be smoothed out.
Some consequences of the federal budget dilemma are unavoidable. Senior military leaders deliver a consistent message that the spending cuts required under sequestration will handicap the Department of Defense (DoD). DoD leadership is committed to mitigate its harmful effects on national security and to manage these challenging circumstances.
Part of this commitment is that soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and coast guardsman have to eat, and the various subsistence directorates will see to it that they do.
Meanwhile, the foodservice community, during this rollercoaster ride, can remain hopeful for a return to normal soon and find a way to manage these challenging circumstances while leveraging the military partnerships to the best advantage possible.