AFSO21: A "smart" way to do the job Published Aug. 1, 2006 By Brig. Gen. Robert P. Steel 48th Fighter Wing commander ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England (AFPN) -- By now, I am sure many of you have heard that our Air Force is undergoing a significant transformation. We are in the process of evolving into a more expeditionary force and increasing our ability to take on any mission, anywhere in the world. As we undergo this transformation, it is vital we have a strategy that enables us to continue evolving, while meeting America's needs. Our answer: Air Force Smart Operations 21. This program, also known as AFSO21, was adopted by our service's leaders and is now being implemented Air Force wide to help us navigate through our transformation. The AFSO21 program borrows some of the best business principles from the corporate world and applies them to our Air Force organization, structure and processes. The primary goal of AFSO21 is to eliminate waste: waste of time, waste of manpower and waste of money. As a more expeditionary force, we must have a way to identify wasteful processes and fix them. AFSO 21 does just that. It asks each of us to take a long, hard look at how we can better accomplish the mission, while maximizing value and minimizing waste. For most of us, this will require a culture change or a shift in our way of thinking. We are not just going to look at how we can do our jobs better. We are going to take it a step further by asking the question: "Why." Questioning how we do our part to accomplish the mission and looking at innovative methods to get the job done are vital components of this program. Airmen at RAF Lakenheath already have begun asking "why" and targeting programs that help maximize efficiencies and eliminate waste. Group and squadron representatives have amassed more than 10 AFSO21 initiatives across the wing. These initiatives tackle some of our biggest challenges in areas such as logistics, aircraft maintenance, air operations, personnel and medical care. However, it does not stop there. The fact is, the Air Force needs everybody's help. I urge you to take a long, hard look at your how you do your job, and ask yourself "why." If you come across a wasteful process, tell your squadron AFSO21 representative or unit leaders and be proactive in helping develop a better, more efficient way to accomplish the mission. I want everyone to understand what AFSO21 is, then to see it in action on the job. One person's great ideas spur even greater ideas and creativity in others. As our Air Force continues to transform, AFSO 21 is vital. In the words of the secretary of the Air Force, "With AFSO21, we will march unnecessary work out the door forever." I am confident this program will lessen our load, while increasing our ability to take on any mission, anytime, anywhere.