Brig. Gen. Arnie Bunch, Air Force Test Center commander, addressed the International Test and Evaluation Association Nov. 6 detailing the transition to Air Force Materiel Command’s 5-Center construct, as well as the reorganization’s successes, benefits, future goals and what it all means to the AFTC.
The center stood up in response to AFMC’s 5-Center reorganization, which reached its initial operating capability Oct. 1.
Officials say the restructuring will eliminate overhead, standardize processes and result in better support to the warfighter.
It is expected to save approximately $100 million annually.
“AFMC leadership focused on our four mission areas: technology, acquisitions, testing and sustaining. What we had were multiple locations playing in the same game without any overarching guidance for continuity. Within the acquisition mission area, processes varied from location to location and the same was true for test. There was no forcing function to help us do business better, in a more efficient manner, and be more responsive to the customer,” said Bunch.
In response to the emerging fiscal realities, AFMC looked at the organizational structure from a strategic perspective to see what changes could be implemented to make the test enterprise more effective and efficient.
“As a result, we reorganized around mission areas. We have set the organization up so that we can standardize across the enterprise and provide better support to the warfighter. Through this restructuring, we are confident we will provide better life cycle acquisition support for the warfighter,” said Bunch.
As the Air Force Test Center looks to the future, the mission will focus on executing developmental test and evaluation in air, space and cyberspace to provide timely, objective and accurate information to key decision makers. The Center focus is much larger than the previous responsibilities of the Air Force Flight Test Center and includes ongoing missions at Eglin AFB, Fla., and the Arnold Engineering and Development Complex, Tenn.
“We as a center have now increased our heritage; we have adopted not only the rich history of Edwards but also must embrace the traditions at Eglin and Arnold. We must realize that everyone plays a critical role in the test enterprise. We have the perfect mix of personalities and people in place to make the Air Force Test Center successful,” said Bunch.
Although the transition and institutionalization of the recent organizational changes will take time, General Bunch is confident the current leadership team in place will provide a solid foundation for the new way of doing business throughout the AFTC.
“We talk openly and candidly about what’s best for the enterprise, what we need to do to improve the business of test and what we need to change to be better prepared. I think we have the right leadership team to make that happen. Our diverse experiences make it a unique time to set a solid foundation to move ahead as the Air Force Test Center,” said Bunch.
In addition to standardizing processes, the Air Force Test Center is shifting to a more collaborative effort to draw on enterprise-wide experience.
“The Air Force Test Center is a large organization executing a wide range of test activities. The spectrum of what we test as an enterprise includes early testing of models in the wind tunnels, activity in our anechoic chambers, sled track and arena test shots, various flight tests, recommending systems for operational testing and all things in between. The Air Force Test Center covers all aspects of testing and it is a great benefit to the warfighter when we all work together,” said Bunch.
This continuity will greatly benefit acquisition programs of today and tomorrow as changes can be made earlier in testing and implemented more cost effectively.
“This is the way the nation needs us to do business; to be more efficient and effective. Accountability and responsibility for resources reside with the Air Force Test Center to ensure we are doing our jobs as seamlessly as possible. Continuity and process standardization will play a critical role in making us more user-friendly to the customer.”
Even with all the changes happening throughout the Air Force Test Center, there have already been numerous successes.
“The Single Wing, Single Mission focus is working great and the transition has gone even smoother than I anticipated. I am already seeing improvements in how we share resources and collaborate on projects. As an example, Eglin invested in software development to address a shortfall they identified and now they have shared the software with Edwards and Arnold to help accomplish their mission,” Bunch said.
“I am already seeing best practices shared in business models, facilities characterization and long-range planning. Each site understands that they play a critical role and must work together to be successful.”
The ongoing changes within the Air Force Test Center are focused on supporting the acquisition community to provide the most advanced war-winning capabilities efficiently and effectively; while ensuring that the facilities, infrastructure and personnel are prepared to meet the test challenges of today and tomorrow.
“This change is a transformational cultural journey. It is going to take time. Right now, we, the leadership team is focused on establishing a solid foundation so the Air Force Test Center moves forward and provides more efficient and effective warfighter support,” said Bunch.