New BTO to help Airmen make USAFE processes more efficient, effective

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Brian Bahret
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs
Before becoming the Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Welsh challenged the U.S. Air Forces in Europe to find more efficient and effective ways to use its resources.

"Current fiscal realities require commanders to take a hard look at how to most efficiently support and execute our missions within growing budget constraints," said Welsh in an official memo to USAFE commanders. "With these challenges before us, I'm convinced the only way to maintain a viable capability for (USAFE's) two combatant commanders is to manage financial risks by reducing costs."

Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, the U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander, is committed to following through with his predecessor's initiative.

"As the Department of Defense decreases its spending to meet congressional budget requirements, it becomes increasingly more important for every Airman to take an active role to find ways to use the resources we do have more efficiently and effectively," Breedlove said. 

In response, USAFE recently stood up a Business Transformation Office at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

The office's mission is to enable USAFE to improve business and operational processes, maximize mission capabilities, and reduce costs.

"We're going to look at areas where USAFE's spending a lot of money," said Col. Scott Forest, Headquarters USAFE chief of the BTO. "Those are areas that we have the potential to realize some big savings. We want to inspire Airmen to figure out how to do the process better, and then realize the savings or efficiency."

Forest said within the BTO concept, experts from Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century and other functional areas were consolidated under one roof.

"All the functions AFSO21 had will be inherent in BTO's mission set," said Forest. "We'll still offer those services to all the wings including policy, guidance, questions to (Headquarters U.S. Air Force), and training."

However, he added, the BTO office won't be limited solely to the AFSO21 process improvement approach; it will employ other resources as well.

Forest said the nine-person BTO staff is well-versed in a variety of analytical practices and includes experts with multiple masters degrees, three Ph.D.s, and several AFSO21 black belts.

"We have a lot of experience here, a lot of academic training and a lot of intellectual fire power to apply to any problem," he said. "We also bring a cross-functional look at the problems; that yields some creative solutions."

He said identifying the processes that could use improvements and realizing potential solutions relies heavily on the process owners. For that reason the BTO will start with a top-down approach.

"Commanders know where they can potentially realize the greatest savings and the greatest impact on business processes through AFSO21 or rapid improvement events," he said.

Once they do discover efficiencies, the BTO will work to incorporate them into the corporate process, "so the changes have discipline and the changes are lasting," said Forest.

The office's position in the command structure will help enable lasting change.

"Being at a MAJCOM working for the commander, we're halfway between the unit level and the policy setters at the top in the Pentagon," said Forest. "If it's not feasible for Airmen to implement it, we can reach back to that policy level and say 'we need to tweak policy here' to enable that Airman on the 'pointy end' to make that change."

With one month as an active organization, the BTO staff began operations by researching two of Welsh's high interest areas -- facilities operations and sustainment, and supply and transportation, said Forest.

He said one of their objectives is to determine if a project offers enough potential savings throughout the command to apply "the silver bullet against the problem set."

"We're going to make sure we're applying ourselves to the big rocks," he said. "If there really isn't any potential for us to help, then we'll look in other areas."

Forest said the BTO doesn't intend to make unwarranted change; they want to ensure the Air Force is maximizing the use of all of its resources.

"We want anything that's more efficient to be more effective," he said. "We're going to need the help of all Airmen to do that. In the end, as always, it's Airmen who are making it happen."