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AFSO 21 helps Hurlburt Field save millions in training costs

by Capt. Nathan D. Broshear
505th Command and Control Wing Public Affairs

9/25/2007 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (AFPN) -- Members of the 505th Training Squadron here used Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st century initiatives to save almost $1.5 million in training costs.

Unit members saved the money by finding new ways to manage government funds associated with sending students to formal training courses while ensuring a steady supply of trained warfighters for Combined Air and Space Operations Centers around the world.

The effort began when 505th TRS leaders realized cost estimates for future classes at the AOC Formal Training Unit were beginning to balloon.

"Our usual costs for fiscal 2006 were around $4.5 million in 'pipeline' funds (monies used to send students to training classes)," said Lt. Col. Mark Douglas, the 505th TRS commander. "Estimates for 2007 and 2008 went way up. Costs were projected to reach $6.5 million."

The increase in costs would inevitably lead trainers to cut class sizes and reduce the number of AOC-ready professionals ready to deploy because funding was slated to remain at $4.5 million -- despite the increase in projected costs.

"There's an urgent need for the services we provide -- training everyone from the technician at a workstation to the individuals developing the Joint Force Air Component Commander's strategy -- so we knew losing student slots was not an option," Colonel Douglas said.

A team of contractors, government civilians and company grade officers carefully examined training schedules, TDY vouchers and budget estimates to find out where money was spent and devised ways to shave expenses.

"We brainstormed with different ideas," said Capt. Shane Trego, the 505th TRS Student Services Flight commander. "Everything from airline flights to rental cars, lodging and meals was up for discussion."

"One example is the use of rental cars," Captain Trego said. "Instead of one or two students receiving a rental car at the airport, we divided our classes into teams of four."

Costs were further reduced by partnering with Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., lodging to use the nearby base's lodging rooms during some rotations. This not only saved in lodging costs, but also with ready access to base dining facilities led to reduced meal rates as well.

"Our team managed to reduce costs by more than $1 million from these budgets," Captain Trego said. "We took a hard look at every facet of the training to save a few thousand here, then a few thousand there. It all adds up to a huge savings over the course of the full fiscal year."

"The 505th Command and Control Wing was able to realize $700,000 in additional monies, while Air Combat Command headquarters was able to retain more than $1 million to be used elsewhere," Captain Trego said.

"ACC decided to allow our unit to keep a portion of the savings to ensure our vital training is fully funded for the next fiscal year. We returned a huge amount of money to our wing. Leadership is planning to use that money to ensure our training is funded down the road so our warfighters maintain vital combat capability -- everyone won with this initiative," Colonel Douglas said. 

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