NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — It’s an exhausting and unforgiving world on the Nellis AFB flightline.
Neither scorching 120 degrees Fahrenheit heat nor the bone-chilling cold of a pitch black night can stop a maintainer.
Recent news articles highlighted the resource and manpower constraints associated with the post-sequestration era; however, few acknowledge what is being done to correct the situation, such as creative restructuring of Air Force Specialty Codes, added selective re-enlistment bonuses, increased maintenance accessions and Total Force Integration augmentation that have all been previously announced.
As of March 1, Air Combat Command will take an additional step to improve 57th Maintenance Group maintainers’ lives by implementing a new, $305 million backshop maintenance contract.
Awarded to a company called M1 Support Services, this new contract is a significant change from the one currently in effect.
Aimed at returning maintainers to their primary duties on the line, it will broaden both the scope of maintenance and the number of positions currently covered, including unit deployment and security manager augmentation, as well as information technology and facility management support.
In total, the new performance work statement should return about 50 maintainers from these and other unearned manpower positions to their core mission set; of turning wrenches to generate the world’s greatest airpower.
“M1 Support Services is humbled by the selection and honored to be a part of Team Nellis,” said Bill Shelt, M1 Support Services president . “M1 stands for ‘Mission 1st’, and we plan to share that focus throughout the contract workforce and management team for the Nellis backshop maintenance program as we begin a new era of aircraft and equipment maintenance support.”
Also joining Team Nellis is the Acquisition Management & Integration Center — Operating Location Delta.
ACC established this unit at Nellis AFB to provide dedicated oversight and program management of the new contract, a task previously performed by the 57th MXG.
“AMIC brings a significant amount of experience and expertise managing large, dynamic, service contracts and looks forward to joining the team here at Nellis” said Derek Plymate, AMIC Program Manager.
The Nellis backshop maintenance functions have been performed under contract since 2008, when the government conducted a study to determine the most efficient and cost effective way to accomplish phase inspections and backshop support.
Referred to as an A-76 study, it concluded that transitioning work from an active duty and civil servant workforce to contractors could result in fewer manpower positions and cost savings to the Air Force of $38 million per year.
The backshop completes all of the intermediate level maintenance on 57th Wing aircraft, including foundational functions such as propulsion, crash recovery, phase inspection and fuels, just to name a few of the 20 plus activities performed. Through its execution, the contracted backshop has saved the Air Force over $151 million.
The majority of the current workforce will stay in place, but will be strengthened by approximately 100 personnel to enhance the contractor’s capacity to support.
“Our plan is to bring best practices from commercial maintenance operations and implement the most effective strategies across the maintenance enterprise at Nellis AFB,” said Shelt.
Col. Mark Rose, 57th MXG commander, recalls “Transitioning over 900 active duty Airmen to contract work in 2008 was done with the best of intentions, but understandably imperfect as it was the first active duty conversion of this magnitude.
“Now seven years later and wiser, this refined, second contract will give back to our active duty force with greater contract support and more capacity for the Nellis mission, while still saving the government well over a $100 million dollars over the next five years.”
While initially the changes may be subtle, M1, AMIC, and the 57th MXG are excited about the potential to make significant improvements to maintenance and other supported functions at Nellis AFB.
“We have an exceptional opportunity to make Nellis AFB a model for the Air Force,” said Rose. “And to provide the safest flyable aircraft and sound equipment to our warfighters as we fulfill the test and training mission for the 57th Wing.”