Logistics officers given challenge at conference

  • Published
  • By Will Daniel
  • Defense Supply Center Richmond Public Affairs
The commander of the Air Force Materiel Command took the stage at the Logistics Officer Association National Conference Oct. 10 to tell 1,350 logistics officers to get lean and expect to be in a long war.

Gen. Bruce Carlson gave the officers an overview of the enemy and how it exploits Islam and uses terrorism as a means to an end. He said Islamic terrorists seek to overthrow and control moderate nations. 

Also speaking at the conference were Gen. Bill Looney, commander of  the Air Education and Training Command, and Lt. Gen. Donald J. Wetekam, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for logistics, installations and mission support.

"If they are supported by just 1 percent of the Muslim population that equates to over 13 million extremists," he said.

General Carlson said the U.S. strategy to win the war on terrorism is to prevent terrorist attacks before they occur, deny weapons to outlaw regimes and their terrorist allies, deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes, and deny the militants control of any nation and future recruits by advancing democracy and hope across the Middle East.

The general discussed the Air Force's challenges as it transforms itself. He said the service has flown 427,000 sorties since the start of operations. Nearly 180,000 Air Force members are involved in operations while humanitarian and relief efforts continue, and Air Mobility Command takes off every 90 seconds 24/7.

But the Air Force will be losing 57,500 members as a result of current transformation initiatives. It will be the smallest end strength since the post-World War II drawdown, he said.

Aging aircraft were also on the general's agenda of Air Force challenges as he noted an average age of an Air Force aircraft is 23.5 years -- and aging. The Air Force is recapitalizing its fighter fleet with F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightening production, but he said officials recently announced plans for a new long-range, high-payload bomber.

"It's a challenging environment, but the sky is not falling," General Carlson said. "The war on terrorism costs $318 million a day, budgets are forecast to decline and buying power is reduced by rising costs.

"We will win the war on terrorism, take care of our Airmen and recapitalize the Air Force. We will do this by becoming more efficient through Air Force-wide process improvements, reducing legacy systems and restoring a positive perception of the Air Force acquisition system."

One Materiel Command

The general discussed his One Materiel Command concept. He said there will be more emphasis on seamless life-cycle management, integration of ongoing improvement initiatives across AFMC focusing on lasting change and elimination of nonvalue-added processes.

"We will standardize AFMC processes and organizations, and collaborate with stakeholders on implementation," he said. "I will work hard on this."

"How are you part of the solution?" the general asked the "loggies" in the audience. "Know your counterpart in the depot. Learn how to leverage shortages -- fewer people, fewer supplies. Do you think every base needs an engine shop, for example? You will have inputs into these questions."

"Are you ready to be a 'materiel officer?'" he asked. "We are looking for people who can manage weapons systems in life-cycle terms.

"My hat's off to you and what you do for DOD."

General Looney, whose command is headquartered at nearby Randolph Air Force Base, said the nation has a great challenge ahead with the global war on terrorism.

"We must meet it, and we must win," he said. "The price will be high."

The AETC commander said the four-star generals were asked to identify "those things that we can quit doing. The truth is there isn't anything we can quit doing," he said. "Whenever we've been asked to quit doing something, we started it back up again after a time."

The general gave an example of how Lean Six Sigma is working within his command. He said at one AETC base it took 22 days to discharge an Airman who was not going to continue his Air Force career.

"We cut that to 11 days using half the personnel," he said. "And that is saving $500,000 a year at that base alone."

General Wetekam said the Air Force's priorities are winning the war on terrorism, developing and caring for Airmen, and modernizing and recapitalizing aircraft and equipment. He said funding those priorities will come from organizational efficiencies brought about by restructuring and getting rid of redundant activities, process efficiencies and by retiring aging weapon systems.

"We have other weapon systems coming on line that can do the job as good, or better, than some current systems," he said.