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DLA national account managers adapt to Air Force goals

Tech Sgt. Nicole Finnegan, 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of storage, showcases the supply facility to Chief Master Sgt. Erik Thompson, 19th Air Force chief, in March at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. DLA’s Air Force NAM team helps Air Force logisticians obtain equipment and parts for various aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cody Dow)

Tech Sgt. Nicole Finnegan, 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of storage, showcases the supply facility to Chief Master Sgt. Erik Thompson, 19th Air Force chief, in March at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. DLA’s Air Force NAM team helps Air Force logisticians obtain equipment and parts for various aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cody Dow)

A 571st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron mechanic works on the wing of an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The squadron is part of the Ogden Air Logistics Complex, which partners with DLA to provide logistics support for maintenance of fighter aircraft including the F-35 Lightning II, F-22 Raptor, F-16 Fighting Falcon and A-10 Thunderbolt II. (DoD photo by Alex R. Lloyd)

A 571st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron mechanic works on the wing of an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The squadron is part of the Ogden Air Logistics Complex, which partners with DLA to provide logistics support for maintenance of fighter aircraft including the F-35 Lightning II, F-22 Raptor, F-16 Fighting Falcon and A-10 Thunderbolt II. (DoD photo by Alex R. Lloyd)

FORT BELVOIR, Va. (AFNS) --

Maj. Jared Newman jokes that “poof” logistics happens every time an Air Force mechanic reaches for a repair part or an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft is marshalled out to the runway for takeoff. But as deputy chief for Air Force fuels and materiel management policy, Newman knows there’s no hocus-pocus in the availability of supplies and mission-ready aircraft. Instead, it’s the result of deliberate planning and his service’s tight relationship with the Defense Logistics Agency.

DLA’s seven-member Air Force National Account Manager team works with logisticians and planners at Air Force headquarters to increase service readiness. Led by Col. Ryan Bakazan at DLA headquarters, the team has customer support representatives at Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center in San Antonio.

DLA’s relationship with Air Force headquarters shapes how the agency adapts its goals and initiatives to those of the service. It also extends to lower levels, connecting supply chain managers with mechanics on the repair shop floor who need help getting parts quickly, Bakazan said.

“That’s mostly what we deal with in the Air Force, a part for a downed jet that they need some DLA assistance on,” Bakazan said, adding that his team’s role is to connect customers like Newman with subject matter experts.

“It’s knowing the DLA enterprise, whether it’s here at the headquarters or the major subordinate commands we have around the globe,” he said. “It’s knowing who to call and linking up the right people so we can work the issues for the customer.”

A key focus for the Air Force NAM team is helping the service achieve 80% mission capability for systems like the F-35A Lightning II and the F-16 fighter jets by the end of fiscal year 2019.

Increasing the number of pilots ready to fly is another priority.

“There are a lot of variables,” Bakazan said. “Recruits have to complete all their training missions so they can come out as fully qualified pilots. Where DLA comes into it, is you have to have enough fully mission-capable jets on the runway.”

DLA is increasing parts support for seven weapons systems to improve aircraft availability and increase flying hours, he added. The service also requested DLA suspend disposal of all parts associated with those systems. And a joint analysis of parts for the seven aircraft was conducted by DLA Aviation, DLA Logistics Operations, the NAM team and the Air Force Sustainment Center.

“I would highlight the role we have with the MSCs, particularly DLA Aviation. We talk with DLA Aviation more than any of the other MSCs just because Air Force spare-parts support is big, but DLA Troop Support is also a big partner,” Bakazan said.

The NAM team is also working with DLA Troop Support and Air Force leaders in the rollout of new uniforms, including timelines of where they will be issued and when.

Newman said he speaks with the Air Force NAM team weekly, if not daily, especially as the service migrates property management data into DoD’s Defense Property Accountability System, used to track more than 2 million assets.

“Working with DLA employees like Joe Stossel, who’s the DPAS program manager, has been incredibly helpful,” he said. “We really value those partnerships.”

DLA is also supporting the Air Force’s implementation of Condition-based Maintenance Plus, or CBM+, a program designed to decrease aircraft downtime through preventive maintenance.

“CBM+ is a way to better predict maintenance issues on aircraft and then respond in a timely manner,” Newman said, adding that CBM+ algorithms allow Airmen to measure a part’s health and predict when it will need to be replaced, thereby triggering timely orders for DLA-managed parts. Waiting until a part is broken before ordering it increases the time a system is mission-incapable.

“That’s problematic because that affects all of DLA’s demand-driven forecasting. If we didn’t order any parts for a year or two, those contracts would go silent” and parts would be unavailable, Newman said.

A lot of the Air Force’s successes are tied to the service’s relationship with the NAM team, he continued.

“This current NAM team has been great to work with and a lot of the members are coming out of our supply chain organizations, so we all know and trust each other,” he said.

The relationship is strengthened by biweekly meetings where action officers discuss issues and upcoming events.

“So we have those scheduled forums to talk about open issues or raise concerns and to build rapport,” Newman added.

Finding the right point of contact in an organization as large as DLA can be intimidating for Air Force logisticians, Bakazan admitted. And not knowing who to call could give them a reason to go elsewhere for support. His advice to customers: call the NAM team.

“Whether it’s DLA wondering, ‘Who do I call in the Air Force?’ or the Air Force saying, ‘Who do I call in DLA?’ we’re your one-stop shop.”

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