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Cost Effective Readiness: AFSC focused on providing savings, success to DOD

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- As Department of Defense officials combat immediate budgetary issues, Air Force Sustainment Center senior leadership is looking toward the future and sees the big picture.

Center senior officials, with input and participation from its personnel, are implementing cost-effective readiness measures to make sure the Air Force, as a whole, is the best it can be.

Introduced by AFSC Commander Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield, the idea is comprised of several initiatives and allows each of the center's organizations to be an integral and successful piece.

"Our ability to provide cost-effective readiness will determine the size of our Air Force," said General Litchfield. "The size of our Air Force will determine our ability to fight and win the next war."

Cost-effective readiness initiatives began as a discussion between General Litchfield and AFSC Executive Director Ross Marshall in late December 2012. They talked about tactical maneuvers to achieving cost avoidance and savings within the sustainment center, a $16 billion business. Together, they brainstormed the "Road to $1 Billion" and asked personnel to submit projects and plans that showed a cost avoidance or savings.

Presented at the tactical level, the "Road to $1 Billion" is an internal AFSC goal to focus on savings and cost avoidance. Sequestration drives a $500 billion reduction across the DOD over a 10-year period, which breaks down to $50 billion a year. The Air Force's piece of that is estimated at $12 billion a year. To achieve a lofty goal, officials said the Air Force needs to be more cost effective and apply some the basic elements of the AFSC Way to the Operational and Strategic levels as well.

To date, the "Road to $1 Billion" initiative has saved more $700 million. The "Road to $1 Billion" combined with the "AFSC Way," created a synergy to align tactical efforts toward a unified goal. The "AFSC Way" is based on a shared leadership model and is a deliberate and standard systems approach that enables personnel on any level to strive for the best and meet their goals. The approach synchronizes the elements of execution - people, resources and processes - to achieve a common goal.

By using common goals as the central element, each level within the organization determines their path forward within the AFSC Way. Goals flow down from the center's overall strategic plan to the lowest levels of the center and they flow upwards and align to AFMC and AF Goals

Col. Jeffrey Sick, AFSC Logistics vice director, said the key to achieving cost-effective readiness at the AF Strategic level is "planning what we fly and flying what we plan."

"That simple sentence is amazingly hard to do with all of the world events and with the budget situation right now," he said. "But, if we can, we can properly train and equip our people, better align our processes, and right-size our supply chain inventories and our resources. At the AFMC level that is a major step toward achieving our tactical and operational goals (or as Lt Gen Litchfield would say; 'our single-dollar and double-dollar improvements'. For the AF - at the strategic/triple dollar level of cost effectiveness - the key will be to build on this AFSC-led momentum and take that quantum leap by properly sizing our supply chain inventories and field level repair networks to achieve even greater synergistic effects. We in AFSC would call this 'trading volume for velocity.'

"By leveraging the key elements of the AFSC Model (Speed, quality, safety ... at a cost effective price) at the corporate level, our AF can reduce inventories, shutter underutilized/cold-war era base repair networks, and leverage the AFSC way of doing business. The Air Force can then modernize its fleets w/ the savings achieved, and have a whole new set of opportunities that are beyond what we can probably fathom."

"In the end, it will help us modernize our force, offer better defense capabilities for our Nation and at the same time better posture our Complexes and Supply Chain Wings for the 21st Century and beyond," Colonel Sick said.

Senior leadership cannot achieve cost-effective readiness without support and initiatives from other center organizations.