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Sustainment Center continues to evolve with AFSC 3.0

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The Air Force Sustainment Center has delivered impressive results during its first two full years of operation. But with the recent unveiling of AFSC 3.0, the center commander expects even greater performance as more of the workforce is empowered by the AFSC Way.

"When we set up AFSC, we wanted to make sure that we evolved into a process-based organization, capable of generating sustained results across all of our operations; no matter where you worked or who headed your unit's leadership team," said Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield, AFSC commander.

To make that a reality, General Litchfield set expectations for each level of the center's maturation process.

"In version 1.0, which was implemented in year one, the intent was to set the basic foundation for how we generate airpower for our Air Force," the general said. "Version 2.0 was designed to ensure that the workforce has the training, skills and tools needed to produce Art of the Possible results."

The general said AFSC 3.0 is designed to make sure the AFSC Way is understood deep and wide throughout each organization.

"Really what we are trying to do is to foster a culture of ownership, where everyone can take our proven leadership model, scientific methodologies and standardized applications and employ them to get the right results the right way," the general said. "We need everyone in AFSC to understand what the 'right way' is, so they are empowered to make a difference."

Brig. Gen. Gene Kirkland, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex commander, said that AFSC 2.0 transformed not only the culture but the daily operations as well.

"AFSC 3.0 is the next step in our evolution as an enterprise team and Sustainment Center ... pushing us to create more transparency, build more engagement and promote more ownership of the AFSC Way tenets and principles," he said.

The AFSC Way is a deliberate and standardized systems approach that enables personnel on any level to strive for the best and meet their goals, said AFSC officials.

The approach synchronizes the elements of success -- people, resources and processes -- to achieve a common goal. By using common goals as the central element, each level within the organization has a clear vision of how it fits into the center's ability to deliver airpower

"The 'AFSC Way' is a powerful tool and provides a template to cut through old 'silo-type' thinking," said Steven Alsup, director 448th Supply Chain Management Wing. "It takes us to an enterprise-based view for execution of Sustainment. As we move from 2.0 to 3.0 in the evolution of the 'AFSC Way', we need every supply chain Airmen to take the concept, internalize it and drive toward creating more innovation and value for the Air Force."

General Litchfield said learning and internalizing are keys to understanding the strength behind the center's standardized processes and applications.

"You have to understand the principles, and understand the mission that you are trying to execute and then you have to understand how to apply these principles to your specific work areas," he explained. "We are seeing this happen all the way from our administrative areas, to our production areas to our supply chain management areas and air base wings -- all across the center. It is very exciting when someone comes to you and says, 'Let me show you what we are doing in our work area because we now believe in the AFSC way.'"

He also acknowledged that not every AFSC organization is at the same maturity level and readiness to implement Version 3.0.

"It's OK to be on the journey to AFSC 3.0. I want everyone to know that if you are struggling to understand some of these concepts, there is still time to catch up. I don't want anyone to get discouraged. We will get you the training and help you need to get to the next level," he stressed.

The commander pointed to experience gained in Versions 1.0 and 2.0 as proof that no one needs to be left behind.

"What we have learned," he said, "is that once people are on the AFSC Way path, they can easily accelerate the learning curve by drawing from lessons already learned by their peers and other organizations.

"Those lessons repeatedly told us that where the AFSC Way has been employed, the work environment is better, the output is higher and job satisfaction is greater. Why would anyone not want to implement the AFSC way in their work area?"

Col. Christopher Azzano, 72nd Air Base Wing and Tinker installation commander, said the wing has made considerable progress over the last two years and "for this we should celebrate."

"At the same time, we still have much to do to permanently instill in the wing the culture of continuous organizational improvement that will be the foundation of Tinker's future success," he said. "The specific challenge for us is to adapt the key tenets of AFSC 3.0 to installation support activities."

General Litchfield cited the center's ongoing Road to a Billion and Beyond campaign as tangible evidence that the AFSC Way produces results.

"I'm sure there were sceptics when we set a goal to achieve a billion dollars in validated cost savings and cost avoidance," he said. "But we kept faith in the leadership model and the scientific method and here we are, over a billion and still counting."

The story behind the story of the Road to Billion and Beyond is what those savings represent in terms of additional capacity to support the warfighter.

"In order for our Air Force to be successful, we are going to have to operate across the enterprise at unprecedented levels of performance," he continued. "What we want to do is make sure everybody understands that continuous improvement is how we are really going to add value from AFSC to our Air Force. Getting the same or more readiness at less cost is where we are really focused."

The general said AFSC must execute as a strategic resource, delivering higher levels of performance across supply chain, maintenance complex and air base wing missions.

"In a personality driven organization, such 'do-it-at-all-cost' mission demands would likely be placed squarely on the backs of the workforce," General Litchfield said. "But the AFSC Way provides us with the "right way" to increase performance. As we transition into a process-based organization, every leader can lean on the AFSC Way to create long-term continuity and productivity.

"Once we can engage the power of the 33,000 people in AFSC, there is no stopping us in terms of what will we add to Air Force capabilities."

The general concluded by describing his pride in what AFSC has accomplished to date and excitement about what is still to be achieved.

"I am proud of the mission we execute for our United States Air Force. If it wasn't for our ability to generate air power, we wouldn't be able to fly, fight and win," he said. "The Air Force is counting on us, and I know that the members of AFSC are going to deliver."