Arnold officer helps save Air Force millions

Lt. Col. Dale Parsons is the commander of the 717th Test Squadron at Arnold Engineering Development Center, Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. He is responsible for aeropropulsion system development and evaluation testing at AEDC.

Lt. Col. Dale Parsons is the commander of the 717th Test Squadron at Arnold Engineering Development Center, Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. He is responsible for aeropropulsion system development and evaluation testing at AEDC.

Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. -- An AEDC squadron commander was one of six individuals recognized April 5 at the Pentagon with the Air Force Productivity Excellence Award for saving the Air Force millions of dollars.

Lt. Col. Dale Parsons from the 717th Test Squadron here, along with Maj. John Dunlap from the 340th Weapons Squadron at Barksdale AFB, La., and Lt. Col. Mark Lane from the 609th Combat Plans Squadron at Shaw AFB, S.C. took home the group award.

The Air Force Productivity Excellence Award recognizes individual Airmen and small groups who have made substantial improvements in productivity. These improvements come as ideas through the Innovative Development through Employee Awareness program, special acts and other management initiatives.

Colonel Parsons was one of three men at the hub of a complex plan. Two were deployed on a 4-month rotation and were working in jobs they had little experience in. It wasn't until after he received the award that he could relax.

"Mostly I feel relieved," the colonel said about the plan. "As the cost-saving plan materialized and was eventually executed, I continually had a nagging feeling that we were forgetting something that would eventually cause the plan to fail. It wasn't until I saw the nomination for the award months after I redeployed, that I realized our plan was producing the intended results."

While deployed, this team recognized the inefficiency of flying 14-hour, round-trip missions from a forward-deployed location to the combat zone, so they created and executed a plan to relocate a squadron of B-1B Lancers and KC-135 Stratotankers from the forward-deployed location to air bases in Southwest Asia. This team tackled a wide range of political and operational issues and was able to carry out the entire plan during a single air expeditionary force rotation. Their efforts saved $362,000 a day in flying costs. 

Some people might not think about these types of accomplishments in terms of the war against terrorism or even joining the military. According to the colonel, the average person probably thinks about bombs being on target, flying operations - the more visual aspects of the military.

"I'd say most people, military and civilian, view the Global War on Terror in terms of blowing up and shooting down bad guys," he explained. "What we accomplished had two dimensions. First, we made better use of the air assets we had in theater. We provided an increased capability to blow up bad guys with fewer deployed aircraft and aircrews."

More importantly, he said, was that by relocating and reducing air assets, they streamlined the logistics that supported these assets.

"That's where a great deal of savings was realized," he said. "Though history has proven time and time again that wars are won and lost on the strength of an army's logistics, flying and fighting will likely always be the military capability in the public's eye."