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Air Force officials launch Combat Airman initiative

by Tech. Sgt. Amaani Lyle
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

4/22/2010 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Properly outfitted and equipped Airmen are essential to mission success, according to Air Force logistics officials who recently unveiled a new program focused on what Airmen wear and carry during training, at home station or deployed.

Air Force officials hosted an initial planning conference in March to implement the Combat Airman initiative, an Air Force-wide program that centralizes Airman clothing and equipment.

The initiative improves the capabilities provided to Airmen, improves Airman protection and safety and enables a more efficient and effective response to Airmen's requirements.

"There's no better way to care for Airmen than to ensure we get them the right equipment, the right clothing and the right tools to perform their missions," said Col. Steven Morani, the Air Force Directorate of Logistics materiel support division chief.

"The Combat Airman (initiative) is all about taking care of Airmen and providing them with the right complement of equipment, certified by Air Force officials and readily available when they need it," Colonel Morani said.

It takes the guesswork out of what Airmen will need by integrating requirements across the Air Force and making those items available to help them perform their duties.

The colonel said Air Force officials are taking the lessons from sister services and other Air Force functional communities that have figured out how to accomplish this.

"Outfitting Airmen through the traditional supply sources available to units hadn't been responsive to the demands of nine years of contingency operations," Colonel Morani said. "This has forced units and functional communities to equip Airmen just in time and often in a nonstandard approach. We've always gotten the job done, but the way forward is for Combat Airman to do much of the acquisition and procurement work associated with equipping Airmen."

The materiel needed to ensure Airmen are properly equipped to perform their duties in an expeditionary environment has increased significantly," Colonel Morani said. "The variety of operating environments and the fast-pace of technological advances demand that we actively seek out the best available gear on par with the developments our sister services are making."

The first step necessary to accomplish this is to get the requirements correct, Colonel Morani said.

"We need to know what our Airmen need, but also what is no longer needed," the colonel said. "Once we solve the requirements determination piece, the rest is forecasting and determining the best place and time to issue that equipment to Airmen."

Through a centralized requirements process, the procurement and sustainment activities can respond and apply the necessary life-cycle support required to manage, sustain and ensure item compatibility with the rest of an Airman's gear. Accomplishing this will improve chances of successfully programming and resourcing future equipment needs, the colonel said.

The program is scheduled to be operational June 2011.

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