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Maintainers in Pacific gain top-down view of transformation

3/4/2008 - HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFPN) -- One of the top Air Force leaders involved in engineering a broad transformation in aircraft maintenance processes and organizational structures talked with senior leaders, wing commanders and maintainers throughout Pacific Air Forces March 3 here.

"We're looking at the most fundamental transformation in logistics since the Air Force became a separate service," said Lt. Gen. Terry L. Gabreski, the vice commander of Air Force Materiel Command.

This transformation initiative is called Expeditionary Logistics for the 21st century. In daily usage at AFMC headquarters, it's known as eLog21. It comprises a long list of programs and initiatives that planners explained will complete the Air Force's transformation from a garrison-based force to an expeditionary force.

With expeditionary logistics, the key word is centralize. Regional repair facilities instead of base intermediate repair shops will repair many engines and avionics. The Global Logistics Support Center, when it stands up as scheduled later this year at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., will manage centralized distribution of repaired parts. Centralized Asset Management, or CAM, has already transformed the process by which parts and repairs are funded.

"This transformation is critical if the Air Force is going to help this country win not just the current war, but the next war as well," General Gabreski said. The general's career includes directing two aircraft maintenance units, serving as a squadron maintenance supervisor in three units, commanding three maintenance squadrons, a logistics group, and the Air Force's largest air logistics center, and twice serving as a major command director of logistics.

Adding to the complexity and pace of the Air Force operations tempo is the need to recapitalize the force and upgrade the aircraft fleet, and at the same time work with a reduced budget and fewer people.

The 48,600 men and women in PACAF are part of an Air Force team that has been globally and continuously engaged in war for the past 17 years, General Gabreski said. PACAF maintainers are among those faced with keeping aircraft -- which have an average age of 24 years -- ready so Air Force officials can fly and fight in air, space and cyberspace.

In addition to centralization, the transformation involves realignment of some organizations. Between July and November, aircraft maintenance units supporting fighter and combat search and rescue flying squadrons will realign within those squadrons.

"Change is uncomfortable for many people," General Gabreski said. "Senior leaders realize that change often produces anxiety. But our responsibility is to be part of the process and make sure we leverage available expertise as we transition. We must dress for success."

The chief of staff of the Air Force recently released a White Paper in which he tied in a historical perspective relevant to logistics transformation, General Gabreski said. Gen. T. Michael Moseley asserted that militaries failed in the past because of their inability to transform organizations and cultures, their inability to adopt new operational concepts, and their inability to leverage breakthrough technologies.

Ultimately, the general said the challenge is to transform not just the way the Air Force deters aggression and defends the nation, but also the way it conducts daily business.

"Part of AFMC's mission is to provide acquisition management and logistics support necessary to keep Air Force weapon systems ready for war," the general said. "Sustainment is the lifeblood of our Air Force and crucial to air expeditionary force operations directly supporting the war on terrorism.

"General Moseley stated in his White Paper that '21st century airpower is not merely the sum but the product of air, space and cyberspace superiority. Loss of control in any one of these domains risks across-the-board degradation -- if not outright failure'," General Gabreski said. "We simply can't afford to fail, and transforming our maintenance and logistics functions is the foundation to achieving the chief's vision."

The general's visit to PACAF bases will continue with scheduled stops at Yokota Air Base, Japan; Osan and Kunsan air bases in South Korea; Andersen AFB, Guam; and Hawaii.

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