Community discusses future of logistics

  • Published
  • By Daryl Mayer, AFLCMC Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio (AFLCMC) – More than 200 logisticians and product support managers from across the Air Force and Space Force registered for the 3rd Annual AFLCMC Product Support Managers Forum held virtually from June 22 to 24 on ZoomGov.
The theme this year was, “Advancing Logistics…Digitizing Sustainment and Modernizing Product Support.”  
Lansen Conley, AFLCMC Director of Logistics and Logistics Services, described the digital transformation as being fundamental to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown’s Accelerate Change or Lose objective. 
“What we have to do in our business is figure out what does digital look like, how we conceptualize, visualize that and, more importantly, how do we train our people to operate in that new environment.” 
A key component of the forum was the professional development of product support managers and Conley challenged attendees to take lessons from the forum back to the workcenter. 
“What is it you can learn in this forum that you can go back to work next week and say, ‘hey, I think we can change business, do things better and really make an impact.’”
The importance of the digital transformation was a key theme for Lt. Gen. Eric Fick, Program Executive Officer for the F-35 and director of the F-35 Joint Program Office, who delivered the keynote address. 
“Some called the F-35 a ‘flying supercomputer’ and like the programs you manage, the F-35’s current and future success rides squarely on our digital strategy, our team’s success in effectively implementing it and in our collective ability to adjust to new and emerging opportunities, realities and threats,” Fick said.  “As the F-35 PEO, I rely heavily on my PSM and quality of logistics and sustainment management is at the very core of what we need to succeed in my mandate of delivering a capable, affordable and available 5th Generation combat aircraft to our joint and international warfighters.” 
He went on to argue that capability, affordability and availability are at the heart of not just the F-35, but any and every program.  PSMs, he said, must never let immediate problems make you lose sight of those overarching factors.            
“I ask you to think of yourselves not as Product Support Managers, but as Product Support Leaders,” Fick said.  “In that vein, you must relentlessly lead your program into ones that are more capable, sustainable and affordable.  Those outcomes won’t happen by themselves.  You must lead your program there.  Our warfighters are counting on you to deliver and sustain these game-changing technologies for decades to centuries.”
During his presentation, Lt. Gen. Shaun Morris, AFLCMC commander, talked about how the changing national defense strategy is moving from contingency-type operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to a focus on near-peer engagements.  Central to those future engagements, he said, is ensuring we have built the force that can be competitive and dominant 10, 20 years in the future.    
“Ultimately, the building of that force is our responsibility,” he said speaking of the acquisition community.  “The vast majority of that happens here in the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center.”
He said while the AFLCMC role in building the future force is large, the challenge to logisticians and PSMs is increasing, specifically citing the concept of Logistics under attack. 
“How would we be able to sustain operations in a high-end conflict where all of our supply chains would be under attack – either direct attack or cyber-attack – are all really important aspects that we have to consider,” Morris said.  
The forum also included a presentation from Ms. Angela Tymofichuk, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Logistics and Product Support and a PEO panel discussion on “Acquisitions, Sustainment and People as We Go Digital” led by:
- Maj. Gen. Michael Schmidt, PEO or C3I and Networks and Director of C3I Networks Directorate;
- Richard Aldridge, PEO for Business and Enterprise Systems and Director of the Business and Enterprise Systems Directorate; and
- Brig. Gen. Dale White PEO for Fighters and Advanced Aircraft and Director of Fighters and Advanced Aircraft Directorate
In closing, Conley hit on a number of topics including the importance of diversity and inclusion in the logistics workforce, upcoming “Roadshows,” talent management and transitioning to a new normal as public health emergencies wane.  He also offered his perspective on the recurring digital theme.  
“We want to allow latitude for programs to be innovative, for programs to tailor what the digital environment is going to look like for them.  As we talked about it is not digital engineering, it is a digital transformation to a digital environment for everyone.”     
Organizers have already started initial planning for the fourth iteration of the forum they hope will be held ‘in-person.’