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USAFE hosts AFSO 21 process council

by Tech Sgt. Corey Clements
U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs

12/13/2007 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFPN)  -- The Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st century process council was hosted by U.S. Air Forces in Europe officials Dec. 10 and 11 at Ramstein Air Base.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley kicked off the council with a round-table discussion with commanders and general officers of each major command, Air Force smart operations experts and other Air Staff officials.

The process council's goal is to guide and integrate the transformation of governing, core and enabling processes to improve combat capability. In addition, the council ensures the culture, organizational structures, investments, and other resources are aligned to institutionalize continuous process improvement.

"Our next big move for AFSO 21 is to more quickly see and act upon improvement opportunities across the Air Force," General Moseley said. "In many cases, we don't know what we know regarding opportunities for improvement. There are hundreds of millions of dollars worth of savings we could capitalize on from ideas already identified."

This is one important reason for the quarterly process council meetings.

"One of AFSO 21's great successes is the determined engagement of our most senior leaders, as exemplified in their regular discussions on progress through the process council to share results," General Moseley said.

Other discussions included the training progress of Air Force senior leaders and infusing AFSO 21 problem-solving tools and methods into professional military education, and most importantly, integration.

"2008 is the year of integration," said Lt. Col. Brou Gautier, the Secretary of the Air Force Smart Operations Integration and Communications Division chief. "Integration is concerned with piecing together all the different AFSO 21 work across the Air Force. It makes sure that before Airmen start a project they can look at our database of knowledge to determine if they have to start from scratch or see if someone has been down that path before."

The database can be found on the Air Force Portal Community of Practice AFSO 21 knowledge area.

Several USAFE wing commanders briefed their AFSO 21 initiatives during the process council.

"The reason we came to USAFE first (to do the quarterly process council meeting outside of Washington, D.C.) is because you guys are leading the way," said Dr. Ronald C. "Ron" Ritter, the special assistant to the secretary of the Air Force for Smart Operations. "Other places in the Air Force are doing absolutely fantastic work, but this is one of the very important 'beachheads' for us. You've stepped out, paved the way, and made an example."

Secretary Wynne and the MAJCOM generals had a chance to see some of the AFSO 21 initiatives firsthand by visiting three sites in the Kaiserslautern military community.

The 435th Air Base Wing's vehicle maintenance process applied LEAN continuous process improvement and saved 49,398 walking miles between work centers annually, 15,900 man-hours annually and a cost avoidance of $8 million for a new building.

The 596th U.S. Forces Police Squadron vehicle registration office cut customer processing time from an average of 51 minutes to 18 minutes, which translates to approximately 21,600 hours eliminated for completing the registration process.

Not to be outdone, the 86th Maintenance Group propeller repair shop reduced C-130 Hercules propeller repair time from 35 days to 5 days, eliminating $11.9 million worth of asset backlog and saved $1.3 million in shipping costs to stateside repair shops. Consequently, the shop earned the Air Force Best Practice Award at the 2006 Chief of Staff Excellence Awards. In addition, the group also created a mobile debrief truck that reduced aircrew debrief time 66 percent, from 90 minutes to 30 minutes.

Including several other AFSO 21 initiatives throughout USAFE, the command has saved more than $4 million and racked up $35 million in cost avoidance. Most importantly, the program expects similar savings each year for the next five years, USAFE officials said.

"What you brought is innovation and you've shown the process council that it can be done in a very disciplined and regular manner," Secretary Wynne said. "You've shown that the innovation of Airmen should be appreciated across our Air Force and there's no better way than to go and see what has been happening both here at Ramstein and throughout the U.S. Air Forces in Europe command."

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