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36 graduate from AFSO 21 class at University of Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AFNEWS) -- Thirty-six military officers and civilians graduated from the first class of Level II Experts in Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st century Jan. 11 at the University of Tennessee.

The University of Tennessee was selected for the six-month training for "their depth and breadth of knowledge, and their willingness and ability to work with the military," said Keith Leitner, an AFSO 21 mentor and faculty member for the Center of Executive Education at UT.

The students were led by mentors, three of which were from UT and three from the corporate world, selected for their knowledge and expertise in business and consulting.

Lt. Gen. Carrol H. Chandler, deputy chief of staff for Air, Space and Information Operations, Plans and Requirements, visited the students Jan. 8 and spoke to them about what the Air Force expects of them. He said these students have charted the Air Force path for process improvement, validated the training program, and became the program missionaries.

"You are the plank holders," General Chandler said. "The Air Force has invested heavily in each of you and we have great expectations."

He advised the students that as Level II Experts, people will "seek your counsel, watch your behavior, and listen to your every word."

The general stressed the differences between AFSO 21 and the old Quality Air Force concept. AFSO 21 focuses on results and continual process improvements by eliminating waste, he said, whereas QAF generated tasks to improve processes. Three focus points of the new program are organizational restructure, force shaping and process efficiencies.

"We have to find ways of doing better with what we have, and with less effort," General Chandler said.

AFSO 21's main goal is increased combat capability. General Chandler reminded the group that to help the Air Force achieve this, they needed to remain focused on the five "North Stars" -- people productivity, critical assets availability, agility and response time, energy savings and safety.

"Everyone from the secretary on down understands why we have to do this," he said. We are coming to a new steady state. If we do not make the change, we run the risk of becoming an irrelevant force."

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