AFMC senior leaders conference

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Panarisi
Another week, another trip...this one to meet with General Hoffman and the AFMC senior leaders at the headquarters on Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio.

Nearly 50 leaders from across the command participated, including the center chiefs of staff and base command chiefs. It was a week packed with briefings, discussions and topped off with the Air Force Ball.

The trip gave us real insight on the things that are right up at the top of General Hoffman's concerns, and the list might surprise you.

General Hoffman kicked off the conference. His briefing reviewed his top priorities for the command.

At the top of the list remains our commitment to a new mission for AFMC; leadership in transforming the nuclear enterprise.

The rest of the "top five" included improvements to life cycle management to support the warfighter, forging a high-performing work force, taking care of our Air Force families and active stewardship of our resources.

Following his presentation, the HQ staff filled us in on what they were doing in support of these efforts, and how our own missions are a big part of the command's success.

First and foremost in these efforts are the actions associated with the USAF's Acquisition Improvement Plan (AIP). As many elements of this plan have been released, I'd like to clarify the points most relevant to AEDC.

The release of the AIP concluded a sweeping review of our acquisition practices on the heels of some pretty unfavorable outcomes on some major programs.

Part of the study revealed some organizational conflicts and overly wide spans of control, particularly in the Program Executive Office functions.

While not specifically targeting AFMC, much of what the study learned is right in our backyard, as AFMC is a major contributor to the acquisition process. Of particular interest to HQ was the study's recommendation to eliminate the "wing, group, squadron" structure in the product centers, citing how these organizations presented a confusing and often conflicting line of authority in acquisition programs.

Also, many of these organizations were exceedingly small compared to their counterparts on the operational side of the USAF, diluting the meaning of the term "commander."

Early in September, the Secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force Chief of Staff released a memo highlighting their direction to carry out AIP.

Perhaps the greatest change, from a strategic perspective, is a major realignment of responsibilities and the formation of several new "PEO" positions, again to reduce span of control issues and drive a more focused acquisition management and oversight team. The vast majority of the changes will occur outside AEDC but we have our part to do as well.

Perhaps the most visible change for us will be the nearly certain elimination of our (wing), group, squadron structure.

Not unlike how others are organized, AEDC will likely stand up new divisions and branches representing the major mission areas we currently see in our groups and squadrons.

The Chief's direction is for all affected organizations to present a plan to complete these realignments by the end of June next year. We still have some homework to do, but we don't expect a massive re-org at the outset.

Initially, the only real change will be a few job titles, but as we learn more about the flexibility we gain outside the W-G-S construct, we may find a better organization model for our current and future missions.

The loss of our command positions is no trivial matter, and I for one, am not looking forward to "stand down" ceremonies, but we have endured far greater challenges than this in our rich past, and we will be a stronger, more flexible, and better focused organization a year from now.

That is certain, and if we keep our eyes on the mission, and how incredibly well we contribute to our nation's defense, the structure of our team is not an issue.

We will take care of our "re-hatted" commanders and get back to the business of forging the next generation of air and space power the next day.