JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) --
Delivering a growing, multibillion dollar worldwide Department of the Air Force military construction program in sync with supported weapon systems is a key focus for the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center.
The Air Force Civil Engineer Center, a primary subordinate unit of AFIMSC, is charged with leading the MILCON and facilities sustainment, restoration and modernization programs to provide mission-critical infrastructure to bolster Air and Space Force installations as power projection platforms.
Bringing to reality the theme “Execution Inspires Confidence,” the military construction team is delivering faster and better, said Brig. Gen. Mark Slominski, who recently transitioned from AFCEC’s built infrastructure executive director to become the mobilization assistant to the commander of Air Force Materiel Command.
“Over the 25-month span ending March 31, over $7.6 billion of construction contracts were awarded to execute MILCON, family housing construction and unspecified minor MILCON,” Slominski said. “That’s more authorized projects awarded, at over 2.6 times the dollar amount, when compared to the previous four years.
“Our work is extremely important. Our execution inspires confidence with built infrastructure stakeholders, confidence from Congress as we execute authorized design and construction appropriations, and adversary awareness of our capabilities to set theaters of operation,” Slominski said.
The AFCEC team is scheduled to complete construction on 120 MILCON projects over fiscal years ‘22 and ‘23, directly supporting National Defense Strategy objectives around the globe.
“Amidst emerging threats from adversaries, it’s essential we accelerate change,” Slominski told more than 500 stakeholders who attended the 2023 Design and Construction Partnering Symposium earlier this year. “Installations are the power projection platforms that we fight from, and resilient infrastructure gives our Airmen and Guardians a leading edge.”
In FY23, Congress increased DAF’s construction budget by $1.8 billion to advance NDS initiatives. The $3.9 billion budget is prioritizing critical new infrastructure for new weapon systems to include the B-21 Raider and the Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile delivery system.
In addition to direct mission facilities, community facilities like child development centers and dorms are important to the AFIMSC mission, with 16 new buildings either in construction or scheduled to start construction through 2024.
Where MILCON provides new infrastructure, Facility Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization, or FRSM, is just as important to AFIMSC. Usually, installations manage these projects through various contracting agencies, but AFCEC began managing FSRM projects contracted at $5 million and above.
In FY23, 79 large FSRM projects are being awarded, for just under $1.5 billion, to recapitalize DAF installations.
“Our construction programs are moving at a fast pace as we support critical DAF combat capabilities,” Slominski said. “We had a record breaking FY22 for execution and, thanks to Congressional support, we see that FY23 will be another significant year for the Air and Space Forces.”
As the AFCEC Facility Engineering Directorate’s portfolio grows, so do challenges to deliver infrastructure on time and within budget, said Col. George Nichols, directorate deputy director.
“We must stay consistent and unify our efforts to deliver sustainable and right-sized infrastructure on time and within budget,” Nichols said.
Unity of Effort
AFCEC launched the UoE Initiative in 2021 to better align planning, programming and execution of the MILCON portfolio, consisting of 442 active projects in different construction phases through FY28.
Practicing UoE makes AFCEC has become more effective in working collaboratively with stakeholders to meet mission requirements for on-time and on-budget delivery of capabilities.
Investment in Pacific and European Theaters
The DAF plans to invest more than $800 million to strengthen deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region. Already awarded in FY23 are a $118 million over-the-horizon radar and airfield damage repair facilities. Other efforts include divert airfields to increase strategic, operational and exercise capabilities for U.S. forces in the region.
In Europe, the DAF plans 16 new MILCON projects, investing more than $600 million to support NATO operations and sustain Air Force missions in the theater, the Middle East and Africa.
Enhanced Business Intelligence & Digital Materiel Management
AFIMSC is transforming business intelligence and digital materiel management by delivering data analytics that empower decision makers. AFCEC developed the Built Infrastructure Common Operating Picture, which pulls in live data from authoritative sources and produces visuals to help decision makers proactively manage performance of a design and construction portfolio. BI COP provides a strong planning foundation and helps keep costs down and delivery on schedule.
When it comes to efficiency, recognition of cost escalation and developing mitigation actions will continue to be AFCEC’s focus for the growing MILCON portfolio, Sullivan said.
AFIMSC and AFCEC conducted root cause analysis of cost growth for MILCON and FSRM programs to determine reasons for construction cost increases. The assessment is helping DAF better understand potential impacts and avoid delays with execution.
“We’ve used BI COP to determine which types of construction projects by facility type, location and program have the highest risk of cost growth. Teams are now forecasting similar project ‘should cost’ figures in the planning horizon to align programmed amounts to expected construction costs. In addition, we are putting in place practices such as expanded standardized designs to mitigate cost growth,” Slominski said.
Climate Action and Sustainability
AFIMSC is working to meet new policies on net-zero emission on new construction by 2030 and reducing buildings’ dependence on fossil fuels outlined in an Executive Order passed in 2021.
“The policy has far-reaching implications on design and construction, changing how we operate, construct and repair infrastructure,” Sullivan said. “As we embark on the decarbonization journey, we’ll capitalize on the UoE partnership to effectively execute the new executive order.”
AFCEC will collaborate with DAF on several pilot projects to meet the goals of the new EO, including the construction of net-zero emissions facilities in various climate regions: Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts; and a sustainable materials pilot at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida.