ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. --
In October 2019, AEDC held the 2020 Strategic Planning Offsite with dozens of senior leaders to deliberately identify actions to become the “AEDC We Need” and transform AEDC to support the National Defense Strategy. The plan the leader’s developed would support the strategic priorities of: 1) Pursue mission excellence, 2) Invest in our people, and 3) Improve and sustain the complex.
In the AEDC We Need effort, there were 80 comments requesting clarity in our organization and over 200 comments requesting better communication and definition of roles and responsibilities. Therefore, the first action was to organize in a wing structure. This will help posture AEDC to be able to efficiently and effectively accomplish our strategic priorities and conduct our mission. It was an eight-month effort involving a large part of our workforce to review our organization and the roles and responsibilities required to operate as a proper wing – not to mention the consternation an organization change has on our workforce. AEDC submitted our proposal to the Air Force Test Center in September.
As if the Wing transformation was not enough; the unimaginable happened…COVID-19. The effects of the pandemic on our Complex are not entirely measurable. In the midst of a major National Defense Strategy change and our efforts to posture our critical test mission complex, we had to figure out how to operate with basically a three-month “base shutdown” and maximum telework. We faced several challenges with computer equipment availability, virtual meeting platforms connectivity and bandwidth. During arguably the biggest change for AEDC in the last five years, we were forced to operate in a “new normal” with social distancing, mask wearing, virtual meetings and distributed operations.
The truly incredible news is, AEDC came together and worked even harder to ensure we could continue our critical test mission as well as continue our organization strategic implementation. Just to put it into perspective, we were able to develop a two-phased organization change request that, if approved, will establish a support division and a test group at Arnold Air Force Base, a test group at Holloman Air Force Base, several operating locations, and a more integrated and robust wing staff; all while meeting with the Crisis Action Team (CAT) daily to handle the pandemic.
During the pandemic crisis, AEDC employees had to support data calls, track requirements and disseminate information related to 234 Major Command and Center CAT Directives. The AEDC team also had to support 20 COVID-19 recurring tasks and 24 one-time taskers. If that wasn’t enough additional workload to our everyday mission, our team also had to track dozens of positive COVID cases to date to ensure our workforce received the medical attention and support they needed to recover – our number one priority is the health of our workforce.
However, in true AEDC fashion, we did not let the pandemic response deter us from our strategic priorities, we still pursued mission excellence by evaluating and proposing organizing in a wing construct while conducting approximately 6,700 hours of testing and 100 test shots/runs, providing an executable fiscal year 2021 financial plan, staying on target with the FY22 and FY23 Program Objective Memorandums and ensuring lost earnings reimbursement from AFTC and Air Force Materiel Command – all accomplished since the last strategic summit in October 2019. We also invested in our people by working with AFTC to eliminate Acquisition Demo tiers, obtaining approval and implementing accelerated promotions for our workforce; improving our communication with Tools for Success forums, Supervisory Forums, In-person and Virtual Commander’s calls, AEDC We Need Newsletters and a weekly Facebook Live event to take questions and give information during our COVID-19 response. We received authority to hire 26 additional support personnel to support our growing mission – where we also continue to advocate for more mission resources. Finally, we hosted the Secretary of the Air Force, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and other senior ranking officials who are recognizing and aggressively supporting the critical AEDC test mission. We have the highest level attention on the resources needed to improve and sustain our Complex.
Who would have thought at last year’s strategic offsite that we could have accomplished these achievements while in the midst of a pandemic. This is a true testament to the hard work, ingenuity and commitment of the AEDC team. I look forward to our 2021 Strategic Summit and the next phase of strategic thoughts to ensure we continue on the path of making AEDC “Second to None” – hopefully minus the pandemic challenge.