AFMC headquarters overhauls office symbols

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFMCNS) -- Alphabet soup isn't the staple in the joint-forces world that it is in the Air Force. If you're at a joint job and you need to talk to somebody in personnel, you don't look for the two-letter symbol, DP. You look for the number, 1, preceded by J, for Joint. So does everybody else, regardless of their branch of service.

Beginning Oct. 1, everyone at Air Force Materiel Command headquarters will also be looking for a number, preceded by A, for Air, when they have business with a staff directorate. At first, they'll be using cheat sheets-A2 is IN, Intelligence; A3 is DO, operations, and so on (a complete list is at the end of this article).

But by October 2006, when the A-staff structure is fully operational at AFMC headquarters, planners expect the new designations to be routine.

"There will not be any relocations or reassignments of people based on the initial operational capability," said Col. Dan Badger, chief of the Manpower Division at AFMC headquarters, and the team lead for the transition from two-letter staff designations. He emphasized that AFMC is not reorganizing its headquarters. It is simply using a new naming convention.

"The Air Force is trying to standardize its staff structure down to the major command level," Colonel Badger said. "We're trying to follow what other services do, particularly the Army."

The move to an A-staff structure began in March when then-Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper approved a document that established the Warfighting Headquarters concept. The intent is to provide command and control of air and space power across the full range of military operations directed by a Joint Force commander.

"Our goal is twofold: to improve communication flow and... reduce spin-up times as our people transition from one headquarters assignment to another," according to a letter directing the change signed in April by Vice Chief of Staff, and now Chief of Staff, Gen. T. Michael Moseley. He left implementation dates up to individual commanders of each major command.

"I fully recognize that the different headquarters' missions will require we tailor our organizational structures," General Moseley's letter said. "But I'm convinced we can establish a common core structure that will help us achieve our goals."

As anyone who has done staff work would expect, the transition is not as simple as just a name change. For example, all manpower documents have to be updated, not to mention e-mail changes, signs and stationery. The biggest challenge, though, as General Moseley expected, has been that not all of AFMC's work fits neatly under the A-staff designations.

"We're trying to minimize the things we ask for variances on," Colonel Badger said. AFMC is aiming to go for Air Staff approval of its A-structure later in October once planners and senior leadership take a look at the initial implementation.

AFMC commander's approved structure

All are directorate level except A2, which is a division and reports to A9.

A1-Personnel (DP)

A2-Intelligence (XRI; reports to A9)

A3-Operations (DO)

A4-Logistics & Sustainment (LG)

A5-Plans & Programs (XP)

A6-Communications & Information (none previous)

A7-Installations & Mission Support (MS)

A8-Financial Management (FM)

A9-Capabilities Integration & Transformation (XR)

At the directorate level, Engineering (EN) and Contracting (PK) remain unchanged. Also unchanged are the staff offices for History (HO), Chaplain (HC), Inspector General (IG), Legal (JA), Public Affairs (PA), Safety (SE) and Surgeon General (SG). The headquarters Director of Staff (DS) will change to Chief of Staff (CS).