After some 18 months of planning and careful transition, Air Force Materiel Command officials are ready to declare initial operational capability of AFMC’s 5-Center reorganization Oct. 1 and continue the process of improving its support to the warfighter.
In early July, the command began activating its new centers and consolidating others as it transitioned from operating with 12 centers to five.
“We have spent many months working through very deliberate phases of planning, implementation and transition with an ever-present goal of providing more efficient and effective support to the warfighter,” said Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, AFMC commander. She said AFMC will be just as deliberate as it works toward reaching full operational capability by late 2013.
Wolfenbarger said the 5-Center construct is also being incorporated into a new AFMC strategic plan that will not only guide the command from IOC to FOC with firm priorities, but also measure results through a series of metrics. The metrics will measure how well the new 5-Center organization is carrying out the AFMC mission of delivering war-winning expeditionary capabilities to the warfighter.
“Our measurements will be results-oriented,” Wolfenbarger said. “We are going to measure productivity, not simply activity.”
The metrics will be reported by the centers and select headquarters offices to command leadership.
To date, AFMC centers have already reported early successes stemming from the transition to the new center construct. Among them are the following:
- The Air Force Research Laboratory consolidated its Air Vehicles Directorate and Propulsion Directorate into a single Aerospace Systems Directorate. In addition to saving taxpayers $4.2 million annually, the consolidation improves mission effectiveness by promoting integrated solutions to warfighter needs.
- At the Air Force Lifecycle Management Center, the realignment of all activity associated with a single weapon system to a single program manager yielded a more integrated acquisition and sustainment execution process.
- At the Air Force Test Center, subordinate units have teamed to share resources rather than develop independent, competing capabilities. One wing shared information about software development programs and gathered inputs from multiple organizations, producing an enterprise-capability assessment versus a single-site analysis.
- At the Air Force Sustainment Center, initial integration activities resulted in an enterprise view across the center’s three air logistics complexes. A prime example came in the form of integrated weekly performance reviews related to aircraft production.
- At the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, officials aligned Air Force and Navy programs to better leverage technologies and components for the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile fuse modernization.
Command officials are excited about the progress made so far. “I can unequivocally say that we are operating more effectively today than we were two months ago,” affirmed Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield, AFSC commander.
Brig. Gen. Arnold Bunch, AFTC commander, added, “This reorganization has allowed us to do the things that as captains and majors we wanted to do, but couldn’t.”
“I am already seeing more communication across the sites and sharing of resources with a Test Enterprise focus. I am extremely pleased with the merger of the Test and Air Base Wings. The merger has gone very smoothly, and some of the barriers between the support and test teams have been broken down with everyone now focused on a single mission,” Bunch said.
The 5-Center construct was formally announced in November 2011 as a major part of AFMC’s response to a Department of Defense challenge to find efficiencies and save tax dollars. By reducing and consolidating overhead, the command will continue to support to the warfighter while saving about $109 million annually.
AFMC moves to IOC having met three critical requirements in June. The Senate confirmed AFMC’s new general officers to lead the consolidated centers, two Congressionally-mandated reports were delivered to Congress, and Headquarters Air Force formally approved the transition.
Since June, the command carried out an important transition phase during which new centers’ frameworks stood up and began to take shape.
The five centers are Air Force Research Laboratory and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, both headquartered at Wright-Patterson AFB; Air Force Test Center, headquartered at Edwards AFB, Calif.; Air Force Sustainment Center, headquartered at Tinker, AFB, Okla.; and the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, headquartered at Kirtland AFB, N.M.