Legacy of change continues with Cannon Smart Operations 21

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- During my 24 years of service, I have witnessed people wearing the blue uniform adapt to numerous changes in our Air Force. Simple changes that ranged from the location of officer rank insignia on the service dress uniform, to the wearing, and then not wearing of aircrew patches on battle dress unforms, to major organizational changes such as the implementation of the Objective Wing in 1991 and the reorganization of 2001 that created the Combat Wing Organization of today. 

The legacy of change is once again on the horizon for our Air Force. The service must adapt to a reduction of more than 57,000 active duty, Guard, civilian and Reserve members while also sustaining new cutting edge weapon systems, maintaining current operational missions and confronting the challenges of the Global War on Terrorism. 

In the Air Force, every Airman is a precious resource and now, more than ever, their service is even more valuable. Regardless of their Air Force Specialty Code, each Airman will be called upon to seek continuous improvements to make their daily operations more efficient. Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century (AFSO 21) is the service’s call to create a culture that enables and empowers every Airman to seek and implement opportunities that eliminate wasteful processes and streamlines their duties. Every member in the Air Force will be challenged to ask, “Why am I doing my job this way, and is there a better way to get it done.” 

There are no processes in the wing that are immune from this critical top down assessment. Of note, in the 27th Maintenance Group, the 27th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron is preparing to use a wireless LAN technology in a new tool called point of maintenance, or POMX. 

This palm pilot tool will enable each maintainer to complete required aircraft maintenance documentation quicker and more accurately than today. This is an example of using technology to improve efficiency on the flight line. Additionally, the F-16 propulsion shop, in the 27th Component Maintenance Squadron, has adopted a crew verses a dock maintenance process utilizing a “first in” and “first out” production philosophy for F100 engines. This initiative is ensuring a 15 percent greater engine production capability. 

The Equipment Maintenance Squadron is experimenting on how to right size the number of days an F-16 aircraft is off the flying schedule while it undergoes extended maintenance. The phase dock airmen, who own the phase inspection, are utilizing Value Stream Mapping (VSM) for their work process to identify and eliminate waste and barriers. This process has almost reduced the down time by 50 percent. 

The Medical Group is looking for efficiencies in patient appointments, pharmacy processes, and radiological services. In the Mission Support Group the Civil Engineer Squadron developed a section that can repair circuit cards for the many alarm systems on base. This ability to repair these expensive assets keeps systems up and running and has reduced replacement costs significantly. 

Finally, the Operations Group has streamlined it’s Life Support section’s processes to improve aircrew support. 

Recently Mr. Scott Reynolds, the Deputy Director of Maintenance and Logistics, Air Combat Command, briefed the local Logistics’ Officer Association, Zia chapter, during his visit to Cannon AFB two weeks ago. He stated that one of the burgeoning Air Force success story resides with aerospace ground equipment (AGE). AGE is currently forward deployed and regionalized to dedicated areas saving like deployed units from airlifting similar assets. 

In a period of aging fleet pressures and shrinking budgets, all non-value added processes must be eliminated to ensure the Air Force stays on the cutting edge of the Department of Defense. AFSO 21 is the vehicle that will get us through the lean times and it is a mindset about working smarter, not harder. 

This challenge is being met head-on by the 27th Fighter Wing. AFSO 21 is about growing future leaders to be innovative and rewarding those Airmen who take advantage of the opportunities to improve their production efforts. Airmen across Cannon will see AFSO 21 initiatives and improvements being implemented across the Air Force. Visit the Web site at http://www.afso21.hq.af.mil for more information.