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AFMC leaders told to seek efficiencies, get back to basics

Posted 8/27/2010   Updated 8/30/2010 Email story   Print story


by Ron Fry
Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs

8/27/2010 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Challenging times ahead and developing efficiencies to accomplish the mission were among the key topics highlighted at the semi-annual Air Force Materiel Command Senior Leaders Conference here Aug. 23-25.

AFMC Commander Gen. Donald Hoffman led his center and wing commanders, along with other command leaders, through three days of meetings that also focused on topics ranging from a back-to-basics approach to doing business to the command's ongoing efforts to reinvigorate the sustainment of the Air Force's nuclear assets. Other topics included several work force issues and energy conservation.

"We have a lot of tough issues facing our command," General Hoffman told the gathering. "But don't let the bureaucracy stifle your efforts to seek efficiencies. Do the best with what you have."

The general reminded the group that budgets will get tighter in the upcoming 2011 fiscal year. "If we can find more efficient ways of doing business, we can better support the warfighter," the general said. "And that is our mission -- support the warfighter."

As the command buckles down for challenging times ahead, AFMC Command Chief Master Sgt. Eric Jaren updated the leaders on his on-going efforts to emphasize a back-to-basics initiative designed to encourage greater interaction and further strengthen service culture throughout AFMC's enlisted corps.

"We have to get back to basics in order to emphasize a culture of service and overcome a culture of convenience," the chief said. He also called on the command to embrace the Air Force's new fitness standards and asked commanders to emphasize training and education.

"I want our enlisted people to be better trained and better educated so they can make a greater impact across the AFMC enterprise," Chief Jaren said.

One area of back-to-basics emphasis for AFMC is its nuclear sustainment mission. AFMC, like the rest of the Air Force, has made nuclear surety its top priority following two well-publicized incidents in 2007 and 2008 that highlighted a nuclear mission neglected since the end of the Cold War.

Brig. Gen. Everett Thomas, commander of AFMC's four-year-old Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirtland AFB, N.M., updated the conference on continuing efforts to improve sustainment of the Air Force's nuclear arsenal.

"It's challenging, but we're going to keep improving," General Thomas said.

However, he warned that problems remain and new ones will likely be discovered following nearly 20 years of neglect. "We have to keep opening doors and looking for problems that need to be fixed." But he credited his fledgling weapons center team and all of AFMC for helping get the nuclear sustainment process on track.

Sustaining the AFMC work force was another important topic highlighted at the conference. Leaders were updated on the upcoming conversion from the National Security Personnel System to the former General Schedule pay system for civilian employees, in-sourcing, diversity and equal opportunity hiring practices, and training. But special emphasis was placed on how leaders can better engage with their work forces to improve their safety and wellness, motivate them and make them feel like greater stakeholders in the AFMC mission.

An area of great concern for AFMC leadership is high suicide rates at some AFMC installations. While AFMC has undertaken several initiatives to better understand the problem and communicate suicide prevention steps, it has enlisted the help of the RAND Corporation for a more in-depth analysis of possible causes, trends and potential ways to reduce the number of suicides. A RAND representative provided a preliminary update to the conference and will release a final report in a few months.

Paul A. Parker, director of Communications, Installations and Mission Support at Headquarters AFMC, updated the conferees on command energy conservation initiatives, including a presentation on the construction of energy efficient buildings.

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